8 a.m. Amtrak Thoughts

As I depart Philadelphia for Boston (actually made my train, this time), I am reflecting upon the great experience I had at the Society for Catholic Liturgy’s annual conference. Presenting a paper and discussing theology with numerous scholars is always fun and exciting, but this conference went a bit deeper.
I am not a stranger to Philadelphia; as many of you know, I began my undergraduate experience at a college seminary down there. After leaving seminary formation in 2016, I have been wrestling with the question: “How am I now to serve God, the Church, and the world?” This conference helped confirm a lot of what I have learned since leaving the seminary.
Between my time at Boston College and living with the Assumptionist community in Brighton, I have come to realize that the future of the Church is largely dependent on a collaborative effort between ordained/consecrated religious and the laity. Yes, we need good & holy priests and consecrated religious… but we also need holy laymen and laywomen. But here’s the thing– they already exist.
At BC, I have met a ton of folk who are far more spiritually advanced, mature, and self-sacrificing than I am… and most do not wear a priestly collar. That’s not to discredit the many holy priests and bishops I know of, but in my experience, I always viewed “holiness” as something belonging to the clerical/religious state. Yet, since I have been at BCSTM and even by attending the conference, I am blown away at the many devout Catholic men and women who serve the Church in numerous ways. At the conference, I met Catholic theologians both on academic/pastoral tracks, musicians, architects, artists, and parish employees/volunteers, all who are striving for holiness, living out lives of love of God and neighbor in the various roles they have. Some were mothers/fathers of 5 children, others were single lay parish volunteers, but all were on fire with the Holy Spirit and were single-minded in their mission to make Christ known and loved, especially through the Sacred Liturgy.
The most impressive example of this, however, is in the hospitality and kindness shown to me by a former seminarian brother of mine, Brian. Brian and his roommates throughout the years have not only provided me shelter when I have been in Philly over the years, but they have put forth an amazing example of what it means to ‘be’ Church in 2017. Brian, especially, has proven to be a good example of how to live the Gospel. Whether it’s in his work with the underprivileged and needy, his efforts on the streets to help those most in need, or even just living a life of faith, hope, and charity, Brian and countless others have demonstrated that following Christ takes on many forms.
I am still unsure of the future (who isn’t?) and what I am meant to do in life, but I feel rejuvenated and inspired by the numerous folks I met these past 2 years, including this past weekend. I am thankful that this conference provided me not only with an opportunity to present a paper in an academic forum, but also to show how the Christian life takes many shapes and forms, and one needs not to be in the clerical state to make a difference in the Church.
Anyhow, I am thankful for all of your prayers and support over these years, especially to those who have been very patient with me even when I have been a jackass! I’ll close by sharing this poignant passage from Lumen Gentium.
“The lay apostolate, however, is a participation in the salvific mission of the Church itself. Through their baptism and confirmation all are commissioned to that apostolate by the Lord Himself. Moreover, by the sacraments, especially holy Eucharist, that charity toward God and man which is the soul of the apostolate is communicated and nourished.
Now the laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth. Thus every layman, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself “according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal”. (LG, #33).

Vatican Asks Millennials for Input in Online Questionnaire

Are you a Millennial with Internet access and opinions? If so, the Vatican may want to hear from you.

In preparation for the upcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome , the Catholic Church is asking bishops from all over the world to survey the youth of their dioceses, asking them various questions regarding the 2018 Synod theme,  “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” As a result, the Vatican has launched a website with information about this upcoming synod and a link to the questionnaire, which can be found HERE. (Note- you may need to change the language from Italian to English; the setting is in the top right corner)

As Josh J. McElwee reported in the National Catholic Reporter:

Pope Francis also issued a separate public letter to young people Friday, asking them to consider the document and think of it as a “compass” on the path towards the synod.

“The Church … wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism,” the pontiff told youths. “Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls.”

“St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because ‘the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best,” wrote Francis. “Such is the case, even in the journey of this synod. My brother bishops and I want even more to ‘work with you for your joy.'”

Questions on the survey include ones such as the first one, which reads: “In what manner does the Church listen to the lived situations of young people?” Having taken it myself, I was pleased with the phrasing of the questions, which reflected a sort of honesty, openness, and willingness to hear my lived experiences in regards to Church, participation, and life. Pope Francis, whose pontificate has been marked by famous quotes like “Who am I to judge?”, seems to be steering the world’s bishops in the direction of accompaniment, joy, and listening with a pastor’s heart. I am happy to see that this questionnaire launched ONLINE, especially because the questionnaire for the last synod (the 2014 Synod on the Family) was awkwardly distributed through parishes via hard copy… and many Catholics reported that they themselves hadn’t even heard about the questionnaire, let alone received it.

Clearly, in this digital age, it is easier now more than ever to make your voice heard. The Vatican is asking young people for their input… now it’s simply time for Millennials to give it. Take the survey (link above) today!

Summorum Pontificum: 10 Years Later

10 years ago, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI issued his Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum: On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970. In it, he not only specified the permissions of Catholic priests to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal (aka “Latin mass”), but he also broadened its reach, asserting that the 1962 Roman Missal was  “never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Church’s Liturgy.” (Art. 1)

As Crux’s Elise Harris reports:

The document established that the post-Vatican II Roman Missal, first issued by Blessed Paul VI, is the ordinary form of the Roman rite, and that the prior version, last issued by St. John XXIII in 1962 and known as the Traditional Latin Mass or the Tridentine Mass, is the Roman rite’s extraordinary form.

In the motu proprio, Benedict noted that the Traditional Latin Mass was never abrogated. He awknowledged clearly the right of all priests of the Roman rite to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962, and established that parish priests should be willing to say the extraordinary form for groups of the faithful who request it.

Benedict also established that the faithful could have recourse to their bishop or even the Vatican if their requests for celebration of the extraordinary form were not satisfied.

One need not look far to see how, in merely 10 years, the desire for the Latin Mass has increased astronomically, and newly ordained priests are far more likely to be open to learning/celebrating than those of the Baby Boomer generation. That stated, it is important to remember that the Ordinary Form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the form common to most Roman Catholics since the 1960s, is by no means invalid… Pope Benedict himself even stated that “these two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi (law of prayer) will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credendi (rule of faith); for they are two usages of the one Roman rite.”

Today, we give thanks to the Holy Spirit for the gift of both Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis, and in a special way (and this is my personal opinion), for the way the former focused on honoring the Church’s liturgy, and the way that the latter teaches us to live out the liturgy’s fruits.


 

Orthodox Monk on Climate Change

Climate change and ecology has been in the news quite a bit recently, especially regarding the Paris Agreement. The Very Rev. Fr. Tryphon, Abbot of All-Merciful Saviour Orthodox Monastery in Vashon, WA, had this to say regarding the recent discussions of climate change:

 

“We ignore, in our pride and arrogance, a clear message. God has called us to repentance, for our planet is spewing us up like so much vomit. Our sin of over consumption, and greed, has led us to forget that God anointed us to be good stewards of the earth. We’ve been worshiping the false gods of prosperity, gluttony and consumption, while ignored the invitation of our Creator to place our hearts and minds at His disposal.”

Fr. Tryphon’s full text can be found here: