David Ancell's Virtual Home

Indeed, I Heard It

  /   Saturday, November 26, 2005   /   Comments(0)

As I reported in my last post, the priests of Missouri were asked to preach their homily on embryonic stem cell research in order to urge the people not to sign the petition to permit state funding for it. Well, the new pastor of St. Francis Xavier, Fr. Scott Sunnenberg, did just that. He said that this was taking life to save a life and was not acceptable to our Catholic faith. He was quite clear. He stopped just sort of saying something like “gravely sinful,” but really, I was happy to see a priest up there taking a stand with all his brother priests in the state. I feel certain that his preaching was sincere.

He is a new pastor here. I didn’t even know that the former pastor had left. I introduced myself today and told him that I was happy that this was being brought up from the pulpit. He reminded me to pray about this.

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This Sunday’s Homily

  /   Saturday, November 26, 2005   /   Comments(0)

Well, since I’m in Missouri this weekend, I guess that I know what the homily will be about, at least partially. I am happy to see the bishops of this state taking a stand on an important moral issue. I’m looking forward to this tonight when I go to the Vigil Mass.

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Down the Slippery Slope

  /   Saturday, November 26, 2005   /   Comments(0)

A euthanasia group is under investigation after having possibly euthanized a healthy patient. According to this story, the woman had a fake medical report saying that she had cirrhosis of the liver, and she used it to obtain euthanasia. Even if this woman believed she had cirrhosis, this case still shows what we may be looking at in the future if we allow the Culture of Death to reign.

We hear all the time of people who are looking for happiness. Suicide is nothing more than the ultimate manifestation of despair. We can, in our society, run the risk of “respecting the autonomy of others” so much that we do not truly love them. We need hope, not death. Even those who are terminally ill are in desparate need of a reminder of their hope in Jesus Christ. By selling them the lies of the Culture of Death, we are destroying that hope. Yet ironically, this may well be the ultimate sign of that hope having already been lost.

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Romanitas in Action

  /   Friday, November 25, 2005   /   Comments(0)

Long live Pope Benedict XVI! We now see him in action dealing with heterodoxy. This action reminds me of Fr. Rob Johansen’s post on Romanitas. He has not only restored the control of the bishop over the Franciscan bascillicas that have sponsored rather scandalous “peace” conferences, but he has also rendered a member of the curia harmless by placing him over a small diocese and having him answer to Cardinal Ruini.

Many have cried “oppression” at such moves. I just can’t understand this. How can one condone the reception of one of Hussein’s right-hand men? I would think that woudl cross the line even for the most liberal of people, unless of course they thought it was the kind of “love and understanding” that will bring “peace.” I guess what I’m not understanding is how genuine peace can be brought about without conversion of heart.

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I Am Home

  /   Thursday, November 24, 2005   /   Comments(0)

I am here typing this from my Dad’s computer in Sikeston, Missouri. My sister was even able to make it. She is a first-year medical resident and doesn’t get much time off. I am thankful for that right now. It’s nice to see her.

I am very thankful for time off. I have been quite tired and need time to rest. It’s hard to get rest these days because my office is short-staffed. I really need to put in for some time off for good behavior. Then again, have I exhibited any good behavior?

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers!

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Thoughts from a Liturgical Crank

  /   Wednesday, November 23, 2005   /   Comment(1)

I’ve heard bits and pieces about the November USCCB meeting. I have to admit that I’m only somewhat interested in it. As suggested by Karl Keating and Jeffrey Mirus, it seems that they spend too much time on things that aren’t matters of faith or really aren’t an issue. After all, if support of the death penalty by Catholics has been dropping, it’s difficult for me to understand why we need this document about it. Besides, Bishop DiMarzo of Brooklyn rightly said that this isn’t a matter of faith.

Anyway, let me stop ranting and raving and get to what I’d really like to discuss. If you’ve read my previous posts on liturgy, you will know that I am a liturgical crank. I get easily distracted by the things that are being done wrong in the Mass. I long for a liturgy that is beautiful and reverent and attended primarily by people who sincerely want to worship Our Lord. So, I did have quite a bit of interest in the new translation.

I favor a more formal and “stilted” translation that does not reflect “everyday speech.” I read a book by one priest who referred to such as “elevated language.” As I reflect on other aspects of the Mass, I can’t help but think that we would use something other than the everyday language at what Vatican II describes as the summit to which all of our other activities are directed.

For example, look at the building where Sunday Mass is celebrated. It is (or should be) used for almost no other purpose than Mass or other sacraments or prayer. It’s hard to imagine (though I’m sure it’s happened) the church being used to perform a play or conduct a board meeting. Still less could I imagine the altar being used after Mass as the table for a prayer breakfast.

Take a look at the clothes a priest is wearing at Mass. Could you imagine a priest sitting on an airplane or at a basketball game in his chausible? What about the sacred vessels used for Mass? I find it hard to imagine that any priest or lay person would, after an early Mass, then take the patten and pour his Golden Grahams and milk into it to have breakfast. If the priest gets thirsty later, it’s difficult to imagine him pouring his coffee or orange juice into a chalice that just minutes before contained the Precious Blood.

Therefore, I can only see that it is fitting that the language used at Mass be language that isn’t in regular use in daily life. The Mass is on a much higher plane than anything else we could be doing that day or week. It is such a sacred moment that the things in use at Mass are used for no other purpose. We have a real need in our society to recover the sense of the sacred. While I don’t think the use of language alone will do it, with proper catechesis it will help.

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Losing the Battle

  /   Monday, November 14, 2005   /   Comments(0)

I just thought of something else regarding the article I mentioned in my last post. The author mentions that people get away with being critical of Church teaching by using their code language rather than stating exactly what they think. Well, they may get away with it, but it has been my experience that people around them who aren’t familiar with their context don’t really get what they are really saying. Therefore, they don’t end up buying into the actual message.

Well, that may not be what happens all the time. However, I’ve talked to many people who often insist that these people aren’t saying what I am hearing. It’s kind of hard to imagine someone whose message is obscured gaining a lot of influence.

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This Looks Familiar

  /   Sunday, November 13, 2005   /   Comments(0)

I was surfing Catholic Exchange, and I noticed this article, which was a critique of a New York Times Editorial by Peter Steinfels. As I read the quotes from Steinfels, I realized that the article was referring to an article that was used in a talk that I went to recently.

I just loved the part about seminarians resisting “learning” because they had “pre-conceived ideas about theology.” Well, I would resist learning about flatness of the earth because of my “pre-conceived” idea that the world is round. Those who call others “closed-minded” are often closed-minded to the idea of God having actually revealed himself and having made the truth known.

I also liked the part about how the investigation of U.S. seminaries focuses on “exercises of piety” and not “social justice.” It reminds me of an episode of a TV show in which someone said that it’s the work they do in the soup kitchen that makes the Mass meaningful. In fact, the reverse is true.

The seminarians I know are among the most outstanding men I have ever met. These are men who are making great sacrifices in order to serve the Church. They do this for love of the one who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. They need our support and our prayers, and they have the right to receive authentic Catholic teaching in the seminary. That’s what this investigation is really about.

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On the Love of God

  /   Saturday, November 12, 2005   /   Comments(0)

I am currently reading Peter Kreeft’s book entitled The God Who Loves You. I haven’t read much of him lately, so I’m glad to have this opportunity. Often times, I have a bad habit of reducing this all-important fact to some intellectual nicety.

I remember someone telling me that he didn’t believe that God loves everyone. He thought that this was nonsense. Dr. Kreeft has an insight into this. God doesn’t love me because of any good thing I have done; rather, he loves me because of who he is. Not only does this tend to make one realize that his love can never be lost, but it also deflates one’s ego.

Yet, how do we treat this one who loves us? All too often, there is the temptation to say that because God loves us so much, we can safely neglect him without worry. After all, he loves us. He’ll understand. Is that how we treat anyone who loves us? No, it isn’t. We know that one who loves us wants our love in return. We will think much of this one and probably talk much about this one. We will live in this love. So, let us love God in return.

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Equating Program with Goal

  /   Thursday, November 03, 2005   /   Comments(0)

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I have been meaning to post this one for days.

Bishop Vasa of Baker, Oregon is my kind of bishop. I wish there were more like him. I see in Karl Keating’s e-letter that he is at it again. Look near the bottom of the letter for the full report.

It seems that the good bishop is hesitant to mandate “safe-environment training” that is supposed to “protect” children from abuse. He has concerns about the effectiveness of the program. He is also concerned about their association with groups that undermine Church teaching. He emphasizes that he wishes to protect children, but these programs don’t seem like the way to do it.

In other words, Bishop Vasa is thinking about these things before he just goes and does it over the objections of faithful parents. He is risking being called “not in compliance” over this because he sees a greater law. Remember that the USCCB has very limited authority, so he isn’t being disobedient. He has his rights in his own diocese, and it’s refreshing to see a bishop exercise them.

Here is my issue: No doubt there will be a group of screamers who try to say that Bishop Vasa doesn’t care about the protection of children. I do believe that he does; he is just against the programs that are being pushed in this regard. He has legitimate concerns. However, I’ve seen similar situations like this. One opposes the program designed to accomplish a goal, and then one gets accused of being opposed to the goal itself. Why is that?

I’ve also seen another twist on this. Suppose someone at work has a computer that doesn’t work. So, his employer replaces it with a computer that also doesn’t work. The employee complains again, and the management simply responds “Well, we replaced your computer.” It’s as though everything should be fine despite the fact that the replacement doesn’t work either. I’ve seen similar situation (not just in a work environment), and it’s really aggravating. Did it ever occur to people that just because they did something doesn’t mean the problem is fixed?

In fact, this seems to be the case with the USCCB’s response to the sexual abuse crisis. It seems that few are addressing the crisis of faith that underlies the whole problem. I am concerned that they will just implement programs and then cheer about all the work that has been done towards fixing the problem. Shouldn’t they investigate to see if what they have done is working before they assume they have made progress?

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