Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mass Chat: Did anyone mention today is a day of prayer for persecuted Christians in Iraq? Hello? Anyone?

I thought the Bishops designated today as a day of prayer?

Do Bishops just say stuff now?  But no one has to pay any attention?  Maybe that Bear guy is right - Michael Voris has become irrelevant?

Is there any unity in the Church?

At my parish - not a word about Iraq - just a brief intention for Christians in the Middle East and Africa.  Nothing else - not even in the bulletin.  How is that for Christian unity?

The deacon had the homily.  He's normally pretty good.  Not a word on Iraq though.

Instead he extrapolated upon the Gospel.  His take on it could be summed up in this:  Jesus and his disciple didn't want to be bothered with an outsider but then when the woman's faith proved stronger than their 'revulsion' a light bulb went off in Jesus' brain and he suddenly realized his mission expanded and he was to heal Gentiles too - as if he didn't know that before.  Because Scripture said 'he grew in wisdom, age, and grace - and knowledge' - this was another lesson to be learned by Jesus.  Not us and the disciples.  I disagree.  Christ knew before the Cannanite woman even approached him. I didn't let it distract me though.

The deacon then used the pope's words about going out to the marginalized and inviting them - the deacon's words: "to Mass."  We can't expect people to search us out - we have to bring them in - to Mass.

What is there to attract?

I looked around the church.  The tabernacle is in a scrunched box on a shelf in the corner, nearly out of sight.  There is a tacky portable altar - a stripped high altar, no sacred images except for a couple of really ugly statues on side sterile, modern, altars.  The church is modern and sterile - not that it couldn't be beautiful if embellished - but it is not.  The music is what it is in every ordinary church.  No one I know would want to come to Mass with me there.  In fact a friend came with me once for Christmas and said he thought it was too Protestant and wouldn't go back.

I've had friends who would go with me to the Basilica, the Cathedral, and St. Agnes - but no one is interested in the small modern parish.  I go to Mass alone at my local parish, but by the grace of God I am able to pray and remain recollected - it seems many people may not be able to do so.

When I was coming back to the Church, I was fortunate to have beautiful churches and liturgy around me.  I was attracted to Jesus in the Eucharist - the Blessed Sacrament - and the churches I went to had the tabernacles front and center - I knew where Christ was.

It must be our faith - a living faith - which attracts souls.

My parish church is fine for me - but I believe in the Eucharist - I know the Mass, even when it is reduced to the essentials.  I recognize Christ in the breaking of the bread - it is a wonderful grace I have been given.  I am able to tune out a lot of stuff.  Nevertheless, I just do not see my parish attracting 'outsiders' seeking God.  Parents with children they want to send to Catholic school, yes.  But if I was just returning to the Church my parish would not attract me - or anyone I know.

Kevin O'Brien, a blogger I like, has a post on a Minnesota church he and his troupe stopped at for Sunday Mass.  Evidently the country church may be as homey as my parish church.  Kevin kind of rants about it.  He makes a valid point of course - but I think we need to speak with great respect about the holy mysteries - Holy Mass - no matter how it is celebrated.  As I said - it is the Eucharist - the source and summit of our faith.  As Catholics we may have to cultivate that respect and reverence in ourselves - nourished by authentic prayer and faithful attention to the Word of God.  We have to ask for that grace - we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to prepare our souls.  I have found devotion to Our Lady, keeping her company before Mass, is a very good way to do this.

It is God who first loved us and draws us.

We attend church on Sundays - assist at Mass - to worship God.  We are obliged to do so, but it should be so much more than an obligation for us who believe.  I think it is our responsibility as believers to lift up our hearts to make our worship authentic - in spirit and truth - even in the most desperate or compromised situations.  We must try to avoid projecting a critical attitude, approaching the church with negative expectations, as well as disparaging the form of Mass.  We need to pray for an increase of faith and devotion.

We must try and recall how thrilled those who may not have access to any sanctuary or church, much less the sacraments, how thrilled and edified they would be to attend Mass in my parish or the one Kevin attended.  Think of the Christians deprived of Mass in Iraq.

That said, the truth is, people need mystery, solemnity, beauty - holiness.  They need a divine attraction, a divine focus - the priest at the altar, ad orientem before the tabernacle - centered in the sanctuary - the Holy of Holies.  Accompanied by awesome prayer, reverent chant and Catholic hymns - and scriptural, theologically correct homilies.

Remember - this is just Mass chat.



  1. Our priest began his homily with an introduction to the situation and what the Bishops have asked us to do, and to what Pope Francis has said, and then he read the letter from our Archbishop. Then he read the entire letter. Then he went into his homily (which covered all the scriptures from today) and tied the homily to the letter. Then he later read the prayer from the letter (which he had already read when he read the letter). He's a good priest.

  2. On Friday the homily was on the violence in Iraq, preached to a lunchtime crowd in the Big Church. You can listen to or read Cardinal Wuerl's sermon here:
    Then, as we left, there were people at the door handing out printed copies of the Statement of the Pontifical for Interreligious Dialogue on the Violence in Iraq:

    1. I've received emails from a few priests who answered the call and dedicated their homilies and prayers for the intentions of the Iraqi's.

  3. Here is a good article on the subject -

  4. Terry,

    Have you read this?

    and this?

    It all has me wondering what is it going to take to really snuff this evil onslaught out. Must whole peoples be slaughtered while us lucky ones continue to live as if nothing, in the comfort of our homes, eating, sleeping, sitting around watching sitcoms or squabbling online before we see that if the ISIS onslaught is not stopped in its tracks we too, might one day reap the same fate and all because "they're so far away it has nothing to do with me" attitudes prevail?

    I am doing my best to keep praying and will continue to do so but we must unite and lift each other up in prayer like Moses's companions did him when he was praying for the enemies of Israel to be defeated. I remember that beloved Old Testament story.
    As long as his arms were raised up in supplication, Israel was winning, but when he grew weary, his arms would drop and Israel would begin to lose the battle. It was not until his companions came to his aid and held "him up in prayer" that the Lord's armies were finally victorious..

    Am I off track for suggesting that we must rally together and do the same? To pray and intercede and stay focused so that the Lord's arm will be made known and He will move to save His own in Iraq?

    I remain hopeful however long it takes!

  5. It seems what I am sensing is not too far off...may the Lord of Life have mercy on us all.

    "Archbishop Amel Nona, now living in exile in Erbil, in Kurdistan Iraq, commented on his diocese in Mosul being overrun by radical Islamists.

    “Our sufferings today are the prelude of those that you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future,” said the archbishop. “Please, try to understand us,” he said. “Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims.

    ”“Also, you are in danger,” said the archbishop. “You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles.”

    Read the rest here:


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