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January 30, 2005

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Zhou De-Ming

Where: Camaldolese Benedictine Monastery in Diocese of Oakland, California.
Homilist: One of the priest monks.
Central point of homiliy, which connected the Gospel (Mt 5:1-12) and both the reading from Zephaniah ("the humble of the land...humble and lowly") and 1 Corinthians ("God chose what is foolish...what is weak"): it is with the marginalized, with the "underdog," with the humble and humbled, the poor in spirit and mourning that we find God's blessing.
(My wife served as a lector, and I served as cantor for both Lauds and Ordinary of Mass, as the usual monk cantor had a cold.)

Dee

Where: Archdiocese of Atlanta in the suburbs
Homilist: Parochial Vicar
He talked about dying to self and to the world. Enough said. It was sooooo goood.

Rod Dreher

Where: St. Jude Chapel, downtown Dallas

Homilist: Fr. Victor Celio, O.P., the mission's pastor

Central point of homily: I'm not sure, but that's only because the baby started to make noise and I had to take him out during the homily. Fr. Celio had begun to preach on the Beatitudes, and how we are not to be conformed to the world. I wish I could have heard the whole thing.

Fr. Celio is a pretty strong homilist, and orthodox too. I think that helps account for the fact that the little chapel's congregation at the 12:10pm Sunday mass keeps growing and growing. Today after mass, he even remarked on how great it was to see the church full. He's fairly new there -- and he's great in the confessional, too.

Liturgy: Fr. Celio celebrates a wonderfully reverent liturgy, and even uses some Latin prayers. We chant the Credo in Latin, for instance.

Peter Nixon

Location: San Francisco Bay Area (suburbs)

Today was the Sunday where we do the annual pastoral/financial report, so sometimes the connections to the readings can get a little stretched. But the Gospel was actually a good fit for it, and our pastor highlighted the first reading as well. A bit of wandering from time to time, but considering this is our pastor's first Sunday back after spinal surgery, my wife and I were just happy to see him.

Mike

Diocese: Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Parish: St Peter Chanel, Hastings.

Homily: by Fr Hancy. Nice, thoughtful, gently-made points about being "poor in spirit". He used the phrase "blessed are .." in contrast to the Gospel translation "happy are ..", which was more effective.

Liturgy: Made me think that we have not gone very far after 40 years. The liturgical singing and choice of hymns were poor. Low morale in parish after becoming a pastoral area.

Lectured at the end of Mass by the woman Parish Coordinator about the need to refer all parish matters to her and not to the priest, who just happens to reside in the house next door.


Jimmy Mac

Archdiocese: San Francisco
Parish: Most Holy Redeemer

Guest Homilist: Fr. John Harden, a Franciscan who is part of the community that runs St. Anthony's Foundation in SF. He tied both the reading from Zephaniah and the Beatitudes into the work that is done through and by St. Anthony's. He made an interesting point that it is appalling that they feed about 3,200 meals a day. Appalling in that it actually has to be done. He also pointed out that Glide Memorial Church, down the street from St. Anthony's, feeds even more per day.

Cranky Lawyer

Location: Solana Beach, CA

Homilist: Pastor

Homily: Tied the readings together by suggesting we ask ourselves three questions: What are we happy about? What do we boast about?
What do we seek? The right answers are found in the readings

Fr. also noted that God is not looking for success from us as the world defines it but as defined by faithfulness to Him.

Good stuff--excellent as we transition to Lent. I especially liked that he didn't allow the Beatitudes to overwhelm the rest of the readings; in fact, he said he gets nervous when he gives a homily on today's Gospel because it is Christ's most well known homily.

Rebecca

Archdiocese: Vancouver, British Columbia
Parish: St. Ann's, Abbotsford
Homilist: Fr. Robert Wong, SJ

Spoke briefly on the beatitudes, and drew attention to Jesus' words on how we will be persecuted for the truth. That led in nicely to a letter to the Diocese he was asked to read by the Archbishop of Vancouver, Raymond Roussin. The Liberal Government here in Canada is attempting to force a law into effect that would change the definition of marriage to be "two people" instead of "a man and a woman". While the Gov't is swearing up and down that religious freedom will be protected and that churches will not be required to perform same-sex "marriages", the wording of the proposed law is dubious. The Archbishop restated the Church's view of marriage and encouraged Catholics to try to change the Government's mind by lobbying our MPs. Strange and scary times. We don't often have politics in the pulpit, but I'm more than happy to have some direction and strong leadership in this area.

As far as liturgy goes, we have three masses on Sundays and we attend the first one. Our organist plays traditional, reverent music. The few times we've been at the 10am mass, it's been jarring how different the music is. As converts, we appreciate the traditional hymns for their beauty and age. I can't stand singing anything that was part of a collection called "Hi God!" - way too 70s for me. So, happy that we had our regular organist. Aside from that, nothing out of the ordinary!

Anthony B

Where: St. John (the Apostle) University Parish (WVU) at Morgantown, WV.

Homilist: Associate pastor (who is from Africa)

Homily: Fr. gave a great homily juxtaposing the readings (Beatitudes of Mt 5:1-12; and 1 Corinthians "God chose what is foolish...what is weak") with Nietzsche's Will to Power. Fr. pointed out that Nietzache's philosophy was one of the foundations of fascism.

Annoying things:
1. The musical director instructing us to introduce ourselves to our new neighbors before Mass. No thanks.
2. The song board had six songs in a row posted from the OCP Gather hymnal. I knew it would be rough and it was.
2. St. John's "parish community" likes to hold hands while singing the Our Father, even crossing over the aisle to do so. Everyone moves to the center. Except me, the (hopefully not proud) nonconformer. Dear St.J Parishioners: I'm sorry, but I am not going to collaborate with cheesy liturgical innovations. If you have a problem with my nonconformance, get over it. I'm down with authentic communio based on prayer, but holding hands is redundant. Ok, trying to stay charitable here.
3. They don't kneel after the Agnus Dei before Communion.

Good things:
1. The sermon. Fr. rocked.
2. They still kneel during the consecration prayer.

Funny things:
1. After the announcements, Fr. asked if there was anyone there who could play the guitar. He noted that there was only an organ/piano player and a singer and that there were three empty chairs for more music players. He went on and on about how he needed more guitar players at Mass and that there are so many college students with so many gifts blah, blah, blah. If you ever saw the SNL skit about Blue Oyster Cult and "More Cowbell!" this was the African version of that. I wasn't the only one to think that because I hear several others talking about "More Cowbell!" on the way out. If you never saw the skit, I won't bother explaining because I'll probably butcher it, but it is really funny.

Jane

Where: Gonzaga University Gregorian Chant Mass (St. Aloysius parish), diocese of Spokane, WA
Homilist: Bishop William Skylstad (Bishop of Spokane, and current president of the USCCB)

Good things: I sing in the schola, so maybe I'm biased, but we're good. The whole Mass is chanted in English, though the propers and ordinaries are chanted in Latin.

Bad things: The director of the schola seems to "direct" the entire Mass, telling the acolytes when to move, giving notes to the priest (or bishop, in this case), etc. Somewhat distracting. The bishop seemed a little nervous about all the chant, and almost lapsed into speech at the final blessing.

Homily: Bishop Skylstad suggested we all should perform regular spiritual check-ups on ourselves, and made a comparison to pilots of small aircraft who check their craft before each flight, even if it's only been a few hours since the last flight. Also used a metaphor involving a GPS system, which I didn't really follow.

The Antipodean

Diocese: Auckland, New Zealand
Homilist: New Parish Priest

Homily: Tied in all three readings with the central theme being that all our happiness is to be found in Jesus, and Jesus alone.

Liturgy: Reverent as always. Our new Pastor is a recently ordained (3years) Samoan priest who trained in Rome.
Singing was somewhat lacklustre as most members of our congregation are immigrants and therefore are not always familiar with the songs we sing.

Tim Ferguson

where: St. Clement's, Ottawa, Canada
homilist: Fr. Hubert Bizard, FSSP (the parochial vicar)

Homily: since St. Clement's is a Fraternity parish, the Tridentine Mass is said, so there are different readings - 2 Cor 11 and Luke 8 - parable of the seed and the sower. The parish is bilingual so the homily is usually half in English and half in French. The English half focused on the need to be heroic, like Paul, though, to be honest, I had a difficult time focusing because of the small children behind me.

Interesting events: before the homily, the pastor read a letter from Archbishop Gervais asking that people write to their MP and Senators expressing their thoughts and beliefs on the subject of same sex marriage. The pastor stressed the need for us to take the archbishop's letter seriously since a) it is a serious issue and b) we owe respectful obedience to the hierarchy of the Church.

The music was lovely, as always - Mass XI, with a little Palestrina thrown in for good measure. The children behind me, as I mentioned, were a bit distracting, but moreso was the mother, who insisted on disciplining her children without whispering. No wonder the children hadn't learned the difference between "inside voices" and "outside voices." I think next Sunday I'll sit further up towards the front....

Charles R. Williams

where: St. Francis de Sales, outside Akron, OH
who: Father Stein

when: vigil mass on Saturday

homily: Focus on first four beatitudes and their meaning in Greek. To mourn means to empathize with the suffering of others. To be meek means to be self-controlled or tamed. To be merciful means to be immediately responsive to the needs of others in the present situation. Example: donations for tsunami relief. These beatitudes are manifested in our common life in this world and are basic principles for Chirst's "kindom-builers on earth".

Music: ties closely to the readings but exclusively post V2 and mostly unsingable.

A well-dressed woman in her 30's whom I had never before seen stood next to me. She made the responses attentively and intelligently and then immediately after the dismissal shot out of the pew ahead of the procession. (?)

Gerard E.

Where: Northeast Phila. Parish

Homilist: Deacon from St. Charles Seminary

Topic: Fr. Robert Spitzer's The Four Levels of Happiness

Most Notable: That it was done in the first place. Phila. is not a hotbed of innovative, informative, in-depth homilies anymore. That our weekend deacon, who will return to Lincoln, Nebraska after ordination, attempted it speaks well of his development as a homilist. Or a desire to shake things up when he gets a chance.

Robert

Just like to note that in my parish in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (East Coast), the same thing happened as in Rebecca's parish in Vancouver (West Coast) and Tim's in Ottawa (Central Canada)- the priest read a letter from the bishop urging Catholics to lobby our members of parliament to vote against same-sex marriage. So perhaps this was a nationwide thing. Any other Canadians care to comment?

Eutychus Fell

Where: Fort Wayne, IN

Homilist: Pastor

Homily: Our pastor took a batch of Catholic High School kids to the Right to Life March in Washington D.C. and he discussed both the positive reactions and the negative reactions of those who stood on the sidelines. Our pastor nicely linked the Beatitudes, esp. "Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you for my name's sake." He spoke about one of the young men making the sign of the cross and praying for those who were full of hate against the marchers.

Cheeky Lawyer

St. John the Evangelist, Archdiocese of Washington

The priest gave a great homily about our thirst for happiness and how the beatitudes point us toward the true path to happiness. He stated that full and perfect happiness will only come when we see God as he is in the beatific vision. I gather that this priest always ends with the same line something to effect of, "and our desire will be totally fulfilled."

The priest who must be in his late 60s or early 70s also was one of the most reverent celebrants I have ever seen. When he genuflected he remained that way for more than a brief moment. He also kept his fingers together after the consecration (I don't know how to explain it better other than to say after he had held up the consecrated host he did not move his fingers from the posture they had when he'd held our Lord up).

The music unfortunately did not match the homilist or his reverence. It was atrocious folksy tripe that was keyed up two or three octaves too high. I told my wife we need to go somewhere else. It was pretty atrocious.

Paul N.

Our pastor again this year highlighted the meaning of those who are "poor in spirit". Last year he did the same - he spoke of the poor in spirit as being those who truly understand their need for God. He stated that in today's world, many feel that God is just something we "do" on Sundays. The problem with the world is that people have forgotten that there is a NEED for God. Good homily.

Cheeky Lawyer

One other thing. The cantors at our parish have an annoying habit of saying before we receive communion: "As we receive Christ in communion with one another, let us sing . . . "

I am not quite sure where the emphasis is in that phrase but to my ear it always seems as if the cantors are saying, that we are receiving Christ in our communion as persons that we share with one another as a community of faith not that we all are receiving Christ in the Eucharist and going up to receive together.

sharon

Where: St. Mary's Cathedral, Austin TX
When: 9:45 mass
Who: Bp. Gregory Aymond
What: All about the completed renovations, presumably for the sake of the folks who hadn't been at the Rededication Mass the previous day. In fact the homily seemed to be the identical one our dear Bishop gave at the Rededicaion Mass, so I took the opportunity to remove the fussy toddler for a change and refill (it was an excellent homily, but I'd heard it). So if Sunday's readings were in fact incorporated at any point, I didn't know it.

John Murray

Where: Byzantine Eparchy of Parma

Parish: St. Michael Byzantine, Toledo

Homilist: Fr Jim Kubajak, pastor.

Fr Jim spoke about celebration of the Eucharist, and the necessity of participation in the Divine Liturgy. Fr Jim is always small-o orthodox and keeps our eye on the Divine part of the liturgy.

Comment: Fr has the unenviable task of training a new middle aged acolyte who is coming along slowly (me). From the far side of the iconostasis the singing was even better than I heard in the pews. Without my trusty bilingual missal I could not manage the one Hungarian prayer but the four or five dozen Magyar-Americans in the congregation sounded great.

Overall, a reverent liturgy. No complaints. Much relief.

Steve Cavanaugh

Archdiocese of Boston
Congregation of St. Athanasius (Anglican Use) in St. Theresa Convent chapel, West Roxbury

The chaplain, Fr. Bradford, preached on the Beatitudes. After drawing out the comparison of Christ giving the beatitudes with Moses giving the law on Mt. Sinai, he commented on how this beginning of the sermon on the mount defined the Christian character. He went on to point out how all had to do with suffering, not only the obvious ones, such as being persecuted for righteousness sake, or mourning, but also showing mercy and being poor in spirit, which are borne out of forebearance, (aka, "suffer the little children").

The music comes from the Hymnal 1940 and the Anglican Gradual (Mass propers in "traditional" English with simple Gregorian chant melodies). Hymns are sung through completely, and our organist is very good. The music is still new to me and my family, but I am heartily glad to have found a place here.

The sung Anglican use Mass is always reverent. I often feel that this is what the fathers of Vatican II had in mind when they approved Sacronsanctum Concilium.

Phil

Diocese: Atlanta
Parish: Cathedral of Christ the King

Focused on "Blessed are they that mourn" - especially on mourning for the state of our nation/world, for the deterioration of values and "respect for life" in the public sphere. Then tied that into a rousing condemnation of the "personally opposed, but..." arguments of Catholics. The priest then connected that to a "separation of church and state" that creeps into our own lives - praying one thing in the Mass and living something completely different in our lives. All in all, a refreshing, direct summons to confront our personal hypocrisy and that of our leaders. ***Spine alert!***

gsk

Location: Providence, RI diocese
Parish: Our Lady of Mercy

Homelist was assistant pastor -- excellent fellow. Talked of the difference between happiness and blessedness. That to look for happiness was not to seek the anchor that would carry you through the tough stuff. Young, zealous, earnest, and orthodox. We are truly blessed.

Martha

Cistercian Abbey, Irving, TX (diocese of Dallas)

Homily was about the beatitudes being taken in order -- if you achieve poverty of spirit, then you mourn and are comforted, then the next one, and so on. Mostly about poverty of spirit being humility, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and knowing that your strengths are all from God. Good homily, wish I did a better job explaining it.

Liturgy is chanted by the Cistercian monks, mostly in Latin.

But -- I must admit, we went to the abbey because all over Dallas it was CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK, so Mass at our home parish was full of kids doing the readings, kids singing (they're all flat), a homily about how great our school is, and teachers being honored in the middle of Mass. Couldn't take it. This post would have been very different if I'd gone to that Mass...

Rich Leonardi

Diocese: Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Homilist: Pastor of St. Mary Church

Overall it was a well-developed reflection on living life according to the beatitudes. He contrasted that life with the attitudes displayed by the childish and ruthless participants on "The Apprentice". That struck a chord with me, having watched the atrocious show for the first (and probably last) time last week.

He used the neo-logism "girlie-people" to exhort parishioners to live lives of courage. Our pastor has bent over backwards - too far backwards - to accomodate the dissident lay ministers who have occupied my church for almost twenty years; they likely will pillory him for borrowing from the Governator's lexicon.

Throughout the homily and the entire first half of the Liturgy, our youth minister, wearing clothes suitable for yardwork, yammered away behind my family and me until I turned around and "shushed" him.

TSO

At St. Margaret of Cortona in Columbus, our pastor gave a sermon about how most of Israel became quite comfortable in Babylon and didn't want to go back to Jerusalem when it was time. The ones who went back were the anawim, the poor, the ones who lacked the skillset even to build the temple (and thus it took 40 years). Those who went back to Jerusalem preserved their identity as children of the Covenant; those who stayed in Babylon were conquered by subsequent empires and today are the modern day Perisans, i.e. Iraqis, there being no trace of who they said they were. Obviously the message is that we have to resist a similar capitulation.

Leo

Where: Camaldolese Benedictine Monastery in Diocese of MONTEREY, California. (Not Oakland, Zhou. Hi there!)

Not the homily, the collatio on the preceding Wednesday. This is a meeting of interested monks and lay visitors to discuss the next Sunday's readings.

Father Bruno had begun this discussion by pointing out that Luke lists only some of these beatitudes, so the rest probably aren't what Jesus "really said." I took issue with him, which I think he didn't appreciate much. (Really. Give me a break.)

Later during this discussion, one monk, Father Michael, suggested that really, monks like themselves are "poor" and so entitled automatically to the evangelical blessing. The senior monk present, Father Bruno, was so interested in this brilliant insight that he turned in his chair so the two of them could discuss this "fact" for a few moments.

These men have total security, and live, moreover, in a lovely location. They mostly don't work, so far as I can tell. They fly hither and yon, all over the world, at will.

Zhou gave us the eventual homily on Sunday, which was much more edifying.

Desert Chatter

TSO:

Iraqis would be most amused (or maybe angry) to hear that they are the "modern day Persians": Iraqis are Arabs (and Kurds); Iranians are Persians.

John

St. Michael's (IIRC, I was a guest)Waterloo Ontario. Big new(ish) church with a risen Jesus Crucifix at the front. Pastor gave the homily _before_ the readings. Never seen/heard that before in my life! Homily was otherwise quite orthodox.

messy

Where: University of Notre Dame's Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Music: The University's folk choir performed a Gloria that sounded like it was from the soundtrack of the Lion King. I didn't know whether to clap or cry. Singing along was obviously not an option. I have to admit that the recessional--a joyous, Irish jig-infused "We are the Light of the World"--was infectious. Too bad the celebrant seemed like he'd just woken from a coma to find himself giving a homily.

Homily: Fr. stressed that "blessed" and "happy" could also be translated "lucky" and then he re-read all the beatitudes: lucky are the poor in spirit...lucky are the peacemakers.....
Seriously. That was it. So much for the citadel of American intellectual Catholicism.

Cornelius

Diocese: Archdiocese of the Military Services
Parish: Holy Trinity Catholic Community (technically cannot be referred to as a 'parish')
Where: Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany

Priest said a few words about troops in Iraq, then showed a 15 minute DVD video consisting of a lot of still photos of U.S. troops set to rather maudlin music. Relevance to the sacred was tangential at best.

ben

Archdiocese of Denver
Parish: Holy Ghost
Homilist: Fr. James Doran, OMV

Homily: Fr. Doran connected the readings to the Holy Father's proclaimation of the Year of the Eucharist, which he has been preaching about for several weeks now. He did this in two ways. First, he focused on the verse "Seek the Lord, all you humble of the Earth." as providing instruction on how we should approach the Eucharist. Then he talked about the indentity between the Eucharist and the Jesus of the scriptures who preached the Sermon on the Mount. He had a few words about the improtance of hungering for and thirsting for the Eucharist, and the need to be prepared for persecutions.

After mass, during the anouncements, Fr. took some time to instruct people on how to properly recieve the Eucharist (e.g. you don't take it you recieve it, you should consume it facing the altar, etc...).

Liturgy: I go to the 10:00 mass where the Ordinary is in Latin and the Propers are in English, the music is always good and they use a lot of insence. It is an excellent and reverent liturgy.

marie

St. Thomas Aquinas
Charlottesville, VA

Our young Dominican pastor gave an excellent homily about how the virtues described in the beatitudes result from our hunger for God and the grace he bestows. I'm sorry I can't do it justice, but it was very fine.

To top it off, we had 7 Dominican novices in their robes present, and about 30 or so members of the University of Virginia male glee club singing in latin. When they sang Franz Biehl's Ave Maria during communion, people were visibly moved, several to tears. I am not sure why the university choir was there - most of the members did not appear to be Catholic. It may have been specially arranged in honor of the visiting novices. This was highly unusual, particularly for a Saturday evening mass for which a relatively small number of people showed up, most in snow boots. And all this happened in a parish that has been haunted in recent memory by bongos and full drum sets.

There are no kneelers in the modern church, but some people kneel, and some don't. I think there is a trend toward more people kneeling, particularly among the college students, but I don't really look anymore.

Following mass we were invited to have our throats blessed, and nearly everyone present seemed to line up for the privilege.

This is the Diocese of Richmond - and many of us are so grateful for a reverent and beautiful mass, having been through some pretty sad years.

Faith

Archdiocese of New York St. John the Evangelist Usually attend two masses- one as a member of the choir and the second with the kids as they don't want to hear me sing. Yesterday one of our pastors said goodbye after each of the masses, as he has accepted a position at a Catholic high school in NYC. He will be sorely missed, and as he is a convert, he is one of the two married priests in NY state. He will commute, and when a residence is found for him and his wife, they will make their move permanent. He said he was offered the position by Cardinal Egan, and although it was unexpected, he would accept the opportunity God has given him. He has always been a wonderful homilist, who strongly encourages getting our spiritual lives in order, and not standing still in our faith but taking advantage and rejoicing in the sacraments and grace that are always there for us.

amy

Wow...this is fascinating. Thanks so far..

Therese Z

Diocese: Joliet, Illinois
Parish: St. Petronille Church

(Side note: what's really great about this idea from Amy is we are all reporting on Masses that had the same readings. Think how hard it would be to compare two Protestant churches without a liturgical calendar, preaching on an "easy" and a "hard" Gospel passage.)

The priest we had is semi-retired and reads all his homilies from a little book I think of as his "Priest-a-lette." That's why I can't remember a thing about it, just beatitude platitudes.

Opening hymn: Praise To The Lord, The Almighty. Yay! it wasn't some modern huggy number. But when did the OCP mess with the words? It SHOULD be:

All you who hear,
now to the altar draw near,
join in profound adoration

(the Lutherans sing "temple" for "altar," which would also be okay) But we sang some stupid lyric involving "brothers and sisters." So much for singing without a hymnal.

An altar kid managed to set the water cruet down on the very edge of the side table and it fell off during the Consecration and broke noisily. For all I know, he is still standing there, turned to stone.

Katherine

Diocese of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan Canada
The homliy yesterday was given by our parish priest he talked about the Beatitudes and how they are the opposite of our ideas of worldy success -especially meekness and mercy. He challenged us to see the Beatitudes as blessings for this life and for those who are struggling (not yet perfect). But my favorite part was that he talked about the anniversary of the repeal of the abortion law here in Canada. He talked about how Canada celebrates the victory of death - the millions of children who have died through abortion. What kind of society does that and what are we doing about it?
It was the first time in a long time I have actually heard the parish priest talk about abortion at the pulpit as more than a passing reference. Thank God for his homily!

eadfrith

Saturday:
Visitation parish - Elmhurst. Diocese of Joliet.
Preacher: Visiting Lasallian Missionary.
Subject: Please sponsor someone in the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. Here are the folders. I know a Madagascarian boy with no arms who was saved by the program and now he's a painter.
Music: Schoolkids singing, accompanied by schoolkids playing cellos, violins, and other classical instruments. OCP music.
Liturgy: Nothing to complain about.
Overall impression: Well, he's a missionary, so I guess he has to talk about that. And it's nice to hear kids sing, even if the material wasn't great.

Sunday:
St. Joseph Parish - far west edge of Chicago. Ukrainain Eparchy of St. Nicholas.
Preacher: One of the pastors. Big fellow with a beard and ponytail, a great big baritone voice and a lot of enthusiasm.
Subject: Dunno. Don't speak Ukrainian. At the end he said a few words in English about fasting - If we're miserable while fasting, we're doing it wrong.
Music: Galician chant. There wasn't a big choir, but the singers they had did well.
Liturgy: St. John Chrysostom is hard to mess up. And this parish has very nice transliterated pew books so guests can follow along. The pastor likes to swing the thurible in a full 360 degree circle.
Overall Impression: Cool.

TO

To Robert: We got our bishop's letter the previous week in Ontario.

Paul N.

I forgot to say I was at St Aloysius in Littlestown, PA (Diocese of Harrisburg).

Cathleen

Where: Retreat center in upstate NY, run by an order of liberal nuns

The homily, by a visting priest, focused on evangelization, especially the need for deeds and not words. It was good, but nothing special.

The atmosphere at the liturgy was one of defiance. Unfortunately, every liberal, feminist '70's stereotype can be found here; the gratingly annoying "inclusive language," references by the priest to God as "she/her", reverence for "Mother Earth" everywhere, ghastly music, standing during the Eucharistic prayer, and, to top it all off, an almost comical petition at the prayer of the faithful by a member of the congregation for the "swift and nonviolent collapse of the American Empire."

Wondering why I was there? My spiritual director, an absolutely lovely 86-year-old nun, lives there. After Mass, she introduced me to an hilarious 95-year-old friend of hers. Despite everything, she and her friend embody the beatitudes in a way that no homily could ever convey, and I was grateful for the opportunity to be there.

Dale Price

Archdiocese of Detroit.

Homilist: the head pastor.

Subject: This was the family mass, so Father called up the children. He managed to tie in the scriptures of the day to the importance of having a clean spiritual conscience, including a gentle and open nudge to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The really memorable: my two eldest went up--Maddie to sit with her friends, and Dale because Maddie left. My wife rode shotgun on The Boy because of his short attention span and love of wandering the sanctuary when given a chance.

Sure enough, two minutes in, The Boy makes a break for the sacristy, employing his toddler Waddle-Sprint technique. At least he didn't use the happy shriek battle cry as he ran. Heather went charging off behind and caught him eventually. Madeleine sat primly with the rest of the group for a minute or two. Then she decided to loudly shush those who weren't paying sufficient attention to the homily:

"SHHHHHHH. FATHER'S TRYING TO TALK!"

Three times.

Father claims not to have noticed any of it.

Maureen

Where: St. Albert the Great's, Dayton OH

Who: Our associate pastor (our pastor's on sabbatical doing a paper on ethical administrating of organizations -- and you couldn't ask for a better person to write about that topic)

When: 9:30 Mass (the choir one)

Homily: Oddly enough, on how people should never take the Beatitudes as justifying evil, or telling you you shouldn't stand up to wrong. Father seemed to feel strongly about this, but also to be a bit confused about what he exactly thought. (I wondered if somebody'd just told him something appalling recently.) I sensed that he wanted to transition to "Iraqi elections rock", but he didn't. OTOH, nobody could possibly miss the relevance of the readings to current events, so not much need. (Don't you love how the readings always _are_ relevant? The Holy Spirit just keeps on elbowing us....)

Liturgy: Nothing wacky. I _love_ my parish.

Music: We sang _two_ Beatitudes songs ("Blessed Are They" at offertory and "We Are the Light of the World" at Communion), some kind of John Bell opening hymn about yay for the building (not as lame as the other hymns on this theme, though, and to a good old hymn tune), and ended with "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name". We also did a topical prelude -- the Finlandia music "A Song for Peace", which I recommend to everybody as a great choir motet on the love of freedom and peace, and asking for God's blessing.

We did have one problem: this Mass' cantor's voice kept giving out. (It's that sore throat that's going around.) She forgot to turn on the alleluia mike for the Alleluia, which she said was a blessing in disguise, as the whole church didn't have to hear what happened to her voice then. (Actually, though, the acoustics proved good enough to hear a ghost of her voice in the front part of the church. It's the folks on the chapel side of the altar who were out of luck.) She had folks double up with her on her other cantor duties after that, which worked fine.

I have to admit, between the readings and the songs and the Mass itself, I did a lot of misting up.

Todd

Went to the two Masses for which I played piano. Almost went Saturday night, too, but the Saturday cantor had called my wife to sub, and two other people showed up to sing, too. Apparently getting a sub is easier than our friend thought.

Our pastor preached at Sunday 5PM. Mid-homily, just as he mentioned Martin Luther's opinion of the Beatitudes, someone in the vestibule leaned against the light panel and the whole church went dark. Fr John thought his homily was a bit scattered, as I spoke with him afterward, but I liked the quote from Albert Schweitzer, something along the lines of the Beatitudes being a heroic and impossible credo to adhere to for more than a period of months, or perhaps a year or two at best.

It was also the local celebration of Catholic Schools Week, which was pulled off rather minimally. The liturgy and school calendars never got coordinated; I had thought CSW was the 22nd-29th, so I long ago scheduled the children's choir for last weekend, not this.

My wife and I were married after these same readings at Saturday night Mass nine years ago, so this was the third time we've had this liturgical confluence. Except for Schweitzer, nothing much liturgical struck me, except that we could do a much better job working with the school people to lead this kind of week off with a bigger push from Sunday liturgy.

Pierre Angulaire

The dialogue following the readings at the communal liturgy that I participate in (no priest, no preaching) focused on the Beatitudes as being in effect the Constitution that we must follow as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a Constitution like no other, proclaiming one rule - to love - that turns our world around.

We ended with a meditative reading of the simple prayer of St. Franics.

Robert Duncan

Greetings

Place: Madrid, Spain, Snta Teresa y Snta Isabel

I made the mistake and took the children to the children´s mass (since I was alone with the children this weekend, and that was the mass that I could the bundles to on time) at our parish.

I have a hard time remembering the homily, because I was a bit in shock that the priest had a woman and a man read their interpretations of the beatitudes in place of the Gospel.

Instead of the homily there was a Q&A with the children asking and responding to questions, and then asking adults for the answers. And then the priest lecturing the adults on not answering the questions, and what sort of "examples were we," as he strolled up and down the aisle with a microphone in hand. Thankfully he didn´t ask me, because my response might not have been too gracious.

Instead of Our Father, the priest read some poetry that included phrases from the prayer.

I also remember several other interruptions, where the priest stopped the liturgy to ask the children if they knew what he was doing. I´m glad he did that though, because I certainly by this time had no idea what he was doing.

To tell you the truth, even though there was communion, I´m not sure I made Mass yesterday.

I don´t normally complain about mass, and we love the 12 PM mass at our parish. All I can say is that we won´t be going back to the childrens mass - even though this priest has several times told us that this is the mass that we are supposed to bring our son who is preparing for first communion. What I haven´t told the priest, is that we are considering having my son go to a different parish to finish his prep courses - because after three years, he´s still doing color drawings every Tuesday nite at his class.

Sorry for the mini rant. Like I said, we really do love our parish (and the six Sunday morning masses to choose from), just not that particular mass.

kath

Good grief. Went to 7pm Saturday mass at the Cathedral in St. Paul -- normally one of two wonderful, orthodox priests who are great homilists, but this was painful. The priest was Indian (I believe) and had a very strong accent and a less than 100% hold on the English language. All well and good -- one thing I love about Catholicism is the international experience. 'Cept that someone told him once that the best way to start a homily is with a joke (Good God). What followed was alternately comic and painful. Mostly just painful. He proceeds to tell the timeworn one about Jesus and the Jewish garment-maker (Lord & Taylor, gosh I didn't see that one coming, I can't breathe I'm laughing so hard), which is bad enough, but with his language difficulty it took him about 5 excruciating minutes of good homily time to even get the stupid joke out, complete with awkward, poor English, while we're all sitting there, embarrassed for him, waiting for him to get to the punchline that we all know by heart and isn't funny to begin with, and wondering who the bleep suggested to this poor guy that it would be a good idea to start his homily this way? He finally, painfully got to the punch line, we chuckled nervously (thanking him for finishing it, mostly, and relieved that his self-inflicted torture was over), and then he proceeded with some sort of homily. Don't remember much of it; I wonder why.

Susan F. Peterson

Where, St. Patrick's, Owego, NY
Celebrant, Homilist..I know him only as Fr. Tom. He is the retired pastor of one of the churches in the Blessed Trinity/St Patrick's "cluster." He is in his late 80's. He tried to interpret the Beatitudes litterally using the "happy" translation, as a description of happy people. It worked for "poor in spirit" and he gave a good description of what poor in spirit means. It just didn't work for "Happy are the sorrowing." He tried to say that this refers to people who feel everything deeply. He really needed to say why blessed, and "happy" as we usually mean the word, are not the same. He usually gives better sermons than this one.

Mass, standard Novus Ordo. Besides the celebrant's chalice, they do use a large glass flask to consecrate the rest of the wine. This seems practical to me, but I know it is not approved practice. In my diocese there is communion in both kinds at ALL masses which I appreciate very much. And the majority of people do receive in both kinds. So it would require four chalices full of wine on the altar, and the flask makes things simpler and less cluttered. One thing about Fr. Tom's celebration which looks odd is that he holds up the large host in only one hand. I realized, watching him closely, that this is because he needs to hold on to the altar with the other hand to stand for that long. Some Sundays he does not give out communion at all. I was told when I was trained as an extraordinary minister that this is because he physically cannot stand to do so, and that if he goes and sits down in his chair after receiving communion himself, another eucharistic minister should go up. But this time he did. It is inspiring to see him still saying mass and preaching at his age. And, we need him.

Music, all from the "Gather" hymnal, ranging from mediocre to awful. Ending with one of my least favorites "We are called, we are chosen" which contains such nonsense as "We are harvest, we are hunger, we are question, we are creed." It is nonsense. ALL the music in this parish is of this type. Some of the songs based on psalms are not too bad. But the rest of it... When I have gone up to the music ministers and pointed out that there are some good hymns in the Gather, and suggested that we sing "The Church's One Foundation" or "Wachet Auf" or "A Mighty Fortress is our God" or "O God our Help in Ages Past" or "Faith of Our Fathers" they laugh at me. I know that except for the last, these are all Protestant Hymns but except for "Immaculate Mary" -and "Pangua Lingua" which if we are lucky we get to hear on Holy Thursday, I have no idea what traditional Catholic music is, having become a Catholic in 1970 and therefore totally missed out on it.

By the way....I like holding hands at the Our Father. Just because it is only a 25 year old tradition, doesn't mean it is a bad thing!

Susan Peterson

carrie ryckman

St. Edith Parish, Livonia MI

Our new YOUNG priest, Fr. Paul, connected the Beatitudes to virtue to prayer to Holy Hours at our church. He spoke passionately about the Blessed Sacrament and how it would be a great time (Lent is coming up) to sign up for a Holy Hour. He said that he know for a fact that the parish would see much spiritual benefit from more people spending time in front of Christ. He spoke of how prayer is the gateway for living out a virtuous life. It was great!

Mark Shea

Cough! Cough! I didn't go to Mass. My wife brought me Eucharist yesterday cuz I've been sick all weekend. Now I'm going back to bed. *flop*.

jquinby

St. Catherine of Sienna, Kennesaw, GA. 9AM Mass.

I missed most of the homily, as I was in the narthex calming down our one-year-old. Fr. usually does a very good job, though his accent demands close attention to what he's saying. He began by tying together the reading from Zeph. to the Beatitudes.

Very sparse turnout because of the ice storm, I suppose, though the streets were clear on our route. Mass only ran about 45 minutes.

mike

Archdiocese: Chicago
Parish: St. Francis Xavier

This weekend we had a liturgy for the 2nd graders, including my son, who are preparing for First Communion. So the homily was geared to them.

However, on Wednesday night I listened to Fr. Robert Barron's weekly homily via www.wordonfire.org. Fr. Barron posts his homily online a few days before the Sunday to which it pertains. It enhances my experience of the liturgy considerably to ruminate on the readings, and his homily, for a couple of days before Sunday Mass.

I highly recommend Fr. Barron's weekly homily. They are played on Catholic Radio each week in Chicago and are available on the website in streaming audio or mp3 format. I even put his homilies on my iPod! The website includes an area for discussion of the readings and his sermon which is akin to a blog format.

We can all hear the SAME homily, and hear it over and over again. If you go over to the website right now you can still hear the homily for yesterday.

Fr. Barron is a theologian who teaches at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, IL. He's fairly well known and highly respected.

His sermons are a terrific mix of classical Catholic theology and high technology.

dudley

The Place: St. Helena's, Wilmington, DE
The Homilist: Pastor Stanley Russell

What is a faithful remnant? What that meant in context and what it means about us. Faithful to Christ's teachings, despite the scorn and opposition of the world. Jesus told us how we should be in the Beatitudes; we are not to be "half-baked" but fully faithful.

Very powerful sermon, intelligent and well thought out. Inspiring experience all around. Sang Panis Angelicus in Latin. Felt uplifted, still do.

Susan F. Peterson

Above was Saturday evening vigil mass.
Sunday-place, Owego NY, St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Celebrant Fr. David Bollinger
Homilist Dr. Sara Theis who has come to the parish to do some kind of healing ministry. It has just come out that in the 70's there was a priest there who abused some teenage boys (a married priest) and also stole from some old ladies. There are other conflicts in the parish also to which I am not party. Dr. Theis applies the beatitudes to what is necessary for healing in the parish. She does well when she doesn't get distracted by having to throw in politically correct plugs about the "abused and marginalized" etc. Her practical advice about the need for humility and peacemaking in parish conflict are good and appropriate. She asks each person to pray in the next week for the person they have most difficulty with in the parish, and not that they will change or come to agree with one's self, but that God's purposes for them will be fufilled, just as we would pray for ourselves.
This is certainly wonderful advice, and if followed, know to work wonders. Like most Protestant sermons, it is longer than most Catholic homilies, about 1/2 hour instead of 10 to 15 minutes, and like most of them, it would have lost nothing by being shortened to 15 minutes.

The liturgy was the standard Rite two Book of Common Prayer liturgy, very like the second eucharistic prayer of the Novus Ordo. There are notable (to me) absences --there is no "Pray that this sacrifice may be acceptable..." However everything about the was Fr. Dave celebrates indicates that he is doing what we do in the mass..the elevations, the deep genuflection. It is always a reverent celebration. This church was built as an Anglo-Catholic parish. It has a large crucifix in front, the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a "Lady chapel," there is a sign at the doors of the church reminding people that the Blessed Sacrament is reserved there and asking them to pray for the priest and people of the parish and for the faithful departed.

The music is wonderful. There is a very good organist/choir director. The enterance hymn is
"O God our Help in ages past."

O yes, and here they kneel for the consecration (my Catholic parish doesn't have kneelers and no one kneels for anything.) They kneel to say the Our Father. They kneel at the altar rail to recieve communion....

I often wish this were a Catholic church.

Susan Peterson

Gregg the obscure

Archdiocese of Denver
Parish: Good Shepherd
Homilist: Pastor

Since there was a parish social after the Mass, we had both deacons - very cool. Also had a more packed house than ususal for the anticipated Mass.

Like TSO mentioned above, Fr. spoke about the circumstances surrounding the OT exile and the sense of abandonment in both those taken away and those left behind. He then gave a brief source-criticism/documentary hypothesis introduction to MT. (Yes, I ground my teeth through that.) He contrasted the previous week's gospel reading with the corresponding section of MK. He drew parallels between the darkness of the exiles and the left-behinds and our situation by citing Mother Teresa's saying that Americans are the most enslaved people on earth and illustrated this by showing how our culture often impels us in the opposite direction of the goals Jesus sets forth for us.

He said this was a good opportunity for us to examine our lives to prepare an appropriate focus for Lent. Thought-provoking homily as usual.

The liturgy was simple and bookended with the usual OCP/GIA sounds of the seventies.

Christopher Rake

Location: Northern Virginia
Homilist: Wouldn't you like to know...

(actually, I'm just not personally comfortable with naming the homilist or the church since I'm operating under a nom de cyber here--doesn't seem cricket)

Good faith-based homily focusing on the day's readings. Dwelled for awhile on not looking to the world's rewards, and pointed it back to himself (talking about the extent to which he searched for approval in the conventional worldly ways, and how he needed to look to Christ instead). Comments about preparations for Lent.

Other observations: This is a teen mass, which has its good and bad points (should I add, for a middle-aged guy like me). Great to see lots of teens here, in contrast to some other experiences where it's just us older folks and you feel like the faith is dying out. Here you have young, old, and in-between, which I find very reassuring.

But the music, I suppose, is pitched to the teen crowd, and most of it sounds like the theme song to an upbeat TV show. Particularly jarring all the way through communion. (not that the music selections are that much better from our adult choir)

On the other hand, whether it's at this Mass or the others, I also think, "They are doing this work every week and I am not." Attitude of the band respectful and appropriate.

Bonus observation: This is another wonderful idea brought to you by Amy Welborn.

Postmodern Liturgist

Wasn't this week, but this describes a great liturgy last week.

RP Burke

Sunday Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle, Columbus, Ohio
11:30 a.m., 30 January 2005

Celebrated by the new bishop of Columbus, Frederick Campbell, just 3 weeks here as bishop. He had been an auxiliary in St. Paul, Minn. His connection to here is a Ph.D. in church history at Ohio State and some experience as a history professor at the Josephinum seminary.

Focused on the confirmation of nine teenagers (including my daughter) and one adult. Obviously a teacher, in every good sense of the word. Tied the reading from Isaiah to the confirmation; 2nd reading was substituted (as is common on ritual Masses held on Sundays) by a reading from Ephesians. He is one of those rare people who is so strong, in the positive sense, that he doesn't need to keep showing it by brandishing his authority. He even stayed for the brunch in the church basement!

His last words to the confirmands, addressed to them, their sponsors and us parents, was to keep seeking our true vocation, because we would never be truly happy if we did not listen to the Spirit's call. His personal story -- what used to be known as a 'delayed vocation' -- no doubt informed this view.

Music was the usual assortment of some good, some bad. We have a hybrid music program, which means there's always something to hate. Fortunately, this week the only item from M. Haugen was the Mess of Creation, which is about the only thing he has published within the ZIP code of tolerable. The candidates had some say in the music, and we ended up with a real 1960s chestnut, "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love."

Steve Skojec

Where: St. Thomas the Apostle, Phoenix

When: 1PM Tridentine Indult Mass

Homilist: Fr. Alonso Saenz

Summary: Expect to be persecuted for the sake of Christ. If you live a truly Catholic life - not by being obnoxious, but by following the teachings of the Church and her moral norms - you will be disliked by many people that you encounter. If Christ is living through you, then you will be hated, because the world hates Christ. Be prepared, don't be afraid, and don't run away.

Comments: Great Mass with two priests in their thirties (non-concelebrants)using Latin and reverence that I've only seen at this Mass. Church seats 1200 people and was about 2/3 full, mostly with young families.

Irritation: Diocese won't allow us an indult Mass for Ash Wednesday.

John Gibson

Where: Annunciation of the Mother of God

When: 10am Sunday

Mass started with the two deacons incensing the Church, they came out of the doors of the iconstatis. Then the Chant started.

If you can't tell, I attended the Divine Liturgy of St. John and had the pleasure of having a liturgy where the full vision of Vatican II has been implemented.

The Liturgy is chanted in parts with the Priest, the Deacons, and the congregation all having their respective parts.

The homily was refreshingly strong on how soon we will be entering Lent, and what this time is for. We were reminded that this was the last Sunday of meatfare and that cheesefare would be starting (The Eastern Catholics fasting tends to be more rigid, and they give up meat, and dairy entirely for Lent. These are the Sundays, traditionally, are the time these foods are given up.)

I have been attending this parish off and on for the last year, and I am on the verge of making a decision to join the Church.

ajb

Just a "lectio devina" meditatio moment from the Gospel. Blessed are those who HUNGER AND THIRST for Righteousness.

Made me question whether Righteousness is something I hunger and thirst for, or just something I feel I HAVE to do because it's "the right thing."

Sort of the positive flip-side of imperfect/ perfect contrition, or the paradox of the prodigal son's older brother. He did the right things, but why did he do them?

Walter Babetski

St Francis Parish, Nanticoke PA (Diocese of Scranton)

Fr L spoke of the Beatitudes as a fulfillment of the Ten Commandments, and how they open us to do God's will and serve others. He even suggested that we memorize the Beatitudes, as we should know them as well as we know the Ten Commandments.

kyle

Where St. Mary Star of the Sea, Duluth, Minnesota
Homilist: Deacon Roger Birkland

This is not my usual parish, although I go to daily Mass there pretty often.

The point of the homily, as I recall, was how Jesus, while affirming the law, completed it by pointing us higher. He talked about the first several of the Beatitudes and what they mean and how we're called to keep striving to live them even though we fail often.

It's an older, urban parish, with perpetual adoration and daily confession and a wonderful priest (who happened not to be celebrating). The liturgy was orthodox and reverent, but no Latin or anything.

Music was a mix. One hymn was a tune set to Beethoven's 9th. Another was "Beautiful Savior," a favorite from my Lutheran days. Others were less inspired. Singing was so-so, but I'm picky.

I was a little surprised that there weren't more people, judging by other times I've been there, but I've never been to a vigil Mass there before.

One thing that stuck out to me is how warmly people treated each other, not in a cloying or obnoxious or distracting way, but like they genuinely cared for each other. I saw people hugging each other as they got up to leave their pews for Communion. The ushers, older folks, were so friendly and kind. There was something sort of touching about it.

amy

Just a note -

You don't have to identify your parish - I'd like a diocesan ID, that's all, but even if you'd like to not to that, that's fine too.

I'm envious of some of you...

Whitcomb

I will not name the parish lest I embarrass it. It's not that the homily was poor; it was a very earnest discussion of the beatitudes by a young priest who is still learning how to give a good homily. He talked about true happiness--how you can't find it in the American way of life.

What caught my eye was the six-month financial report in the bulletin. It showed that more than half of the parish's registered families (there are about 1,500) contribute nothing--zip--to the church, and another 25 percent or so give $1-$5 a week. About 10 percent of the families are carrying the financial load.

Yikes!

Maria Ashwell

Where: All Saints Church, Manassas, VA
5:30 pm "Lifeteen" liturgy
Homily: Our soon to be ordained deacon, becoming an excellent homilist I might add.

Well, its a teen Mass, so the music is very modern, but reverently led. Mass was packed because I think lots of people decided to go after they realized that the weather had cleared up quite a bit and the roads were fine. I was in the cry room so I can't swear to hearing the whole homily, but the bits I caught were very good, focused on the readings, tying in the upcoming season of Lent.
I actually enjoy this Teen Mass more than I thought I would. My big annoyance is asking the Teens to sit in the special Teen section. In a world that strives to pull apart the family, this seems odd.

Amy, this is awesome! I have six children. We homeschool, so I'm busy, but you are amazing! God Bless all you do for His kingdom.

Loudon is a Fool

Location: Plano, TX
Homilist: Deacon

Homily: Counter-cultural nature of Catholicism and how the Beatitudes present a radically different call from that of the world. Not bad excepting the implication that the heart is the seat of wisdom, which is hardly counter-cultural.

Liturgy: The drums were totally sweet and rockin'. And some dude tried to hold my hand at the Our Father, which was a nice warm fuzzy. The Agnus Dei was sufficiently innovative and the music was sufficiently lame to make any liturgist proud.

MaureenM

Where: Chicago
Who: Pastor

Set the scene leading up to the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus walks through the town followed by his disciples. People leave their homes and businesses and follow Jesus to the Mount. Father went on to tie this to the need for us to leave what we are doing and attend to 6 hours of spiritual growth over the next 6 weeks: a guest speaker this week, Ash Wednesday mass next week, and 4 night mission during Lent. "Sunday Mass is not enough for our spiritual growth."

Julia

Church: St Teresa, Belleville, IL
Time: usual 10 AM choir Mass

This was our diocesan Catholic Schools Week, so the choir was required to change our usual good stuff to accomodate all the children who were there. So we did a lot of Music Issue stuff including that Gloria with clapping, "Blessed are They", and recessional was "They'll Know We are Christians by Our Love". For the Presentation of Gifts we snuck in one of our most high church hymns: "I Will Go Up to the House of the Lord" complete with appropriate bells.

Before the Readings, children are sent out as usual which seemed peculiar to me for a Mass that was arranged with children in mind.

Most interesting thing that happened: Before the readings, after the little kids were sent out, a schoolgirl gave a short talk which started with describing Bush's swearing in and inaugural address. Then she compared that event to the Sermon on the Mount as being Jesus' Inaugural Address to us, embodying what he wanted His church to be all about.

The pastor was so taken with what she had said, that he did what seemed to be an impromptu discussion of the Beatitudes being the roadmap to being a good Christian - seeking peace and justice, of course. I missed the rest of what he said and my mind wandered off because of the circumstance that Father had just started chemo for colon cancer. After being out for well over a month, he had just started being the co-celebrant of Mass the Sunday before. I was thinking about his situation and JPII's being symbolic of honoring the elderly and the ill and not throwing them out, that they still have value and their suffering will be rewarded.

Father never knows the strength he will have any particular day, so he does as much as he feels up to - giving a short homily, standing & participating in the Consecration, distributing Communion, but sitting as much as he needs to do. Last week his co-celebrant was the young assistant who has taken on quite a load, but yesterday it was an elderly retired priest.

Anyway, it seemed like some of the spirit of the Beatitudes was being demonstrated right before us.

Anna

Diocese: Metuchen, NJ
Parish: St. Cecilia
Preacher: Pastor

I found myself at the Saturday night Mass, and the pastor was the celebrant.

Music was good as usual. Tends more toward the Baptist kind that I grew up with, rather than either the contemporary Catholic or Gregorian chants.

Main topic about the Beautitudes: humility We should mourn over our sins, etc.

Michael

Diocese: Richmond, VA
Mass: 8:30 AM
Parish: Christ the King, Norfolk, VA
Homilist: Brian Rafferty

Homily: Decided on the short version (4 cards vice 10) Reminder that Lent is coming up. Mentioned the difference between Matthean and Lucan versions of the Beatitudes ("Blessed are..." AND "Woe to..."). Said that the Beatitudes herald good news and bad news for some and that the they are the opposite of the values of this world. Good homily.

Liturgy: We have a children's liturgy at every Mass during the Liturgy of the Word. I love it, but I know it irritates some. My daughter was most cross about the short homily this week because she didn't have time to finish coloring her picture. The music comes to us in a handout at the door, so I don't know what hymnal it comes from. What I do know is we have no guitar. Music is led by our organist/pianist with accompaniment (sp?) by flute and violin. For special feasts (Christ the King, Christmas, Easter) we hire part of the Norfolk Symphony Orchestra. Agnus Dei sometimes in Latin, sometimes not. The songs that are the same every week are changed up from time to time. Also, we omit the Gloria during Ordinary Time. I have always wondered if that is allowed, but I actually like it because it seems jarring to me right after the Penitential Rite. We also have chains of hand-holding snaking across the church during the Lord's Prayer. Despite some of this, I feel very blessed to go to this church.

michigancatholic

Diocese of Kalamazoo, local priest

Lay person delivering some message about the Catholic schools before Mass. I walked in the middle of it and didn't catch the gyst of it.

Good priest who says a prayerful mass--ie. low key and good for prayer and being there as a Catholic with all the other Catholics--to pray together quietly during Mass.

Mild homily about the Beatitudes, and being poor in spirit, however I can remember none of the details the next day.

Terrible music, as usual. We have a snare drum guy who I wish would un-volunteer. The mediocre ones-the exhibitionists and performers eventually drift off. I'm waiting.

Amy Grant song to close Mass, which most people didn't seem to know or like--can't tell. People leaving in droves as soon as that started.

All in all, a very normal Sunday mass around these parts.

Gene Humphreys

In Nashville, our priest tied the beattitudes in with Catholic Schools week (we have a relatively new school at our parish that we have had to expand ahead of schedule). Learning to live as Christ would have us live by example was the gist of the message: our duty to be good examples (of the beattitudes) for others. Good food for thought.

John

Diocese: New York City

Church: St. Michael's Russian Catholic

Liturgy and Homily: Sunday of Meatfare and Last Judgement. Gospel taken from St Matthew where Christ will come in glory at end of time to judge the world and separate the sheep from the goats. Anyway, Father spoke about the Last Judgement and how we'll fully understand how Christ is identified with poor and needy of this world. He spoke about Christ's sacramental presence in the poor and needy. Also cautioned us against prophets of doom claiming to know the date and hour of the end of the world...Overall and as usual, excellent homily with plenty of food for thought and reflection.

Great fellowship and social hour as usual after the liturgy. Yummy cold cuts as the parish corporately said farewell to eating meat till the feast of the Resurrection.

Hope

Where: northern Alberta, Canada

Homily: this is a very small congregation with about 10 people on a good day at Mass....I am a recent convert(Dec. 29/04) The priest always involves us in discussion during the homily....he asks questions and we give feedback....yesterday he asked us what it meant to be blessed. The bulk of his homily was about how radical a message the beautitudes were in Jesus' day and how that is still true today.

The lone musician in our church was sick yesterday so there was no singing other than the one at the beginning.

The readings yesterday were simply humbling. The verse about not boasting in anything but God was the one that stuck with me the most.

Mila Morales

Archdiocese of Miami, FL
Chapel of St. Anthony at St. Thomas University
Celebrant: Bishop Felipe Estévez

This was the Sunday Mass as closing for a marriage preparation ministry workshop. Bishop Estevez's homily was wonderful in tying the three readings together, pointing out firstly, from Zephaniah, how a people humble and lowly will receive blessings because our only boast is in the Lord, from 1 Corinthians, and then how this all takes place in the context of the Beatitudes. A short and rich homily.

In addition to this, another plus, at least in my view, was that there was no music!

Anonymous and Sad

Diocese: Lexington, KY
Church: St. Peter's

A real heartbreaker at St. Peters.

Mass began, as it normally does, with the usual procession that always includes the PASTORAL DIRECTOR somewhere near the front. I think she carries in the Bible.

The Priest then began Mass with the orthodox "the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" and then immediately after this, our PASTORAL DIRECTOR read, as she ALWAYS does, something that could/should have been read by the priest/deacon or other member of the laity.
Why our PASTORAL DIRECTOR has an "official" role in our weekly liturgy, I am not sure.

The Mass proceeded along well enough, the Priest, from India, has recently begun to sing his parts of the prayers, offerings etc for a nice effect.

The music, sadly, soon took a dive for the worst. It was a "Youth Mass"(( ARGH!!!)) and they had the entire folk band up front(do today's youth even listen to Folk music?) So, we were supposed to be singing these awful Dan Schutte(sp?) songs while the youth led us with a guitar(played by a middle aged man) and a really loud drum. It was a disaster.

**In our parish, the folk will NEVER bow during the Creed, but will be first to join hands at the Our Father and raise them up to the sky for the "thine is the Kingdom"...**

Right before the Sign of Peace, at the Our Father, the Indian priest made all of the Youth(middle and high school) come up to the front and hold hands so that there was a nice V shape with him at the point. After this, he wanted all of the Youth to disperse into the congregation and shake each and everyone's hand. This was, he informed us, to represent Christ being present in the Youth, reaching out to us, through the Youth.

The homily was, nice, polite and unremarkable. My wife asked me what the homily was about right after we left. It was based on the Beatitudes and had a little meat, but was 95% fluff. Be nice, forgive,Gospel values don't equal the world's values, etc. **The word abortion wasn't even mentioned last week(or the week before?). The people in Washington were protesting "Roe v Wade". Twice it was referred to as this and never as abortion or murder**

How can I explain this Mass to someone who is not Catholic? I am trying justify this behavior or liturgical abuse to someone who isn't Catholic and they just look at me like I've gone mad.

Please pray for her, for me and our church.

A & S

Chris Sullivan

St Marks, Pakuranga, New Zealand
Fr Ezio Blasoni

Translated "blessed" as "truely honourable" and the homily was about the role of honor in first century Israel, which continues in the Middle East today. Made the point that if we live our lives by the beatitudes then we will be "truely honourable" in the eyes of God.

The newsletter has a nice outline of St Matthew's Gospel which made the point that the Sermon on the Mount is the preeminant teaching by Christ on how Christians are supposed to live our lives. It ends "Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, ..." Matt 7:28.

God Bless

Talmida

A city diocese in Alberta, Canada

Suburban "big box" church, the "young" priest presiding and preaching.

Excellent homily on the beatitudes. Jesus expresses them in the language of heaven - but what do they tell us to do on earth? I particularly enjoyed his take on Blessed are the merciful and the requirement it places on all of us to forgive, forgive and forgive again.

Interesting moment: looked like there was a minor spill - I know what they do when the Body of Christ is dropped, but it got me wondering what they do when the Blood of Christ is spilled on the carpet. Father covered the spill with a cloth and everyone just walked around it. I assume it was dealt with after mass was over.

No mention of gay marriage (although the catholic weekly has been urging everyone to write his/her MP for the past 2 weeks).

Joanne

Diocese: Indianapolis, Indiana

Saturday night. We had a visiting priest, who is very nice but can be difficult to understand. He spoke about the beatitudes, and about computer hardware and software. I assume he was talking about the connection between what you give and what you get, or GIGO, for the old school computer nerds out there. I was going to say the annoying things were that three of the four songs we sang were from the dreaded Gather book, "Blest are They", "Gather Us In", but upon reading the other comments and I think we weren't too bad off! The music minister has, thankfully, stopped doing the Gloria with the *extra words*, but he insists on doing a Gloria, with a "chorus" just for him. Sigh. But it's so hard to not get mad every week in church - to dread what dreck they're going to make us sing, or to try to shut out the wailing after communion while one is trying to pray. We have some people who hold hands during the Our Father, but thank God, it is not "enforced". If it ever reaches that point, I will suck it up and go to the Latin Mass.

Patrick O'Hannigan

The associate pastor at my parish preached on the theme of finding God in unexpected places. Supporting examples came from Uganda, where he had done mission work early in the regime of the late and unlamented Idi Amin. Fr. Tony spoke of one priest who had been beaten to death by Amin himself, and of another who was dragged out of church during Mass and threatened (again by Amin) with a pistol to his head. In the latter case, however, a forty-five minute standoff ended when Amin and his soldiers slunk away, awed by the prayers of the congregation for their pastor and puzzled by the obvious change in the priest's face (from fearful to resolute).

Our own priest talked later with the Ugandan priest to whom this happened, and was assured that Jesus was there. The man being threatened said he sensed the presence of Christ standing next to him, and later realized that Idi Amin's gun-wielding hand started trembling at that point.

AnonCath

Diocese of Gary

Went to two Masses.

First one, hymns okay: Holy God We Praise Thy Name, Breathe On Me O Breath Of God, Blessed are They (not too bad in and of itself, considering it's a Huagen or a Haas, but it was played so fast it was goofy for a Communion hymn,) and Joyful Joyful, which I'ma a little tired of. Also, Gather Hymnal changes the words, like we're too dumb to know what "Thee" means.
Several co-celbrants, and a deacon.
Catholic School week, so instead of homily tow moms got up and witnessed.
Children in a choir sang Panis Angelicis, and someone played the violin up in the loft, I think a child. Not bad.
Thankfully no child lectors.
Teenage song leader, very good.
Only liturgical wackiness, long procession involving children piling up "gifts" around altar, bongo drums, pictures hanging from altar table, and a 12 foot long stuffed snake. (This is not bad as I remember it from earlier years, belive it or not, and not as bad as Thanksgiving time when at one mass the Procession for the Presentation of the Gifts went on for a good 15 minutes while every kid in the parish went up to the alatar to heap up boxed and canned goods around the altar.)

Sounded like MSG during a heavyweight bout from the time last hymn was announced till about fifteen minutes after mass was over. It's always like this. I love the people and the priests but its just so noisy all the time. ALL the time. Even during Exposition when we have it. Won't say names or parish but one of the priests is going deaf and shouts all the time, and that doesn't help either.

Second mass, different priest, homily connected Beatitudes, being poor in spirit, stewardship and our support of the parihs school. Pretty good.
Same hymns, adult choir. (No Panis Angelicis.)
Sang a lot of chanting a capella in English. A LOT. Alleluia, Lord Have Mercy, Lamb of God, Our Father. Parish sings pretty well. Some of the music okay, some not. We seem to have different musicians every 6 months.

Liam

Where: Boston, a church I haven't frequented lately (you'll see why)

When: 10AM Sunday Mass

The priest first deconstructed the Gospel by stating that Jesus did not preach the Sermon on the Mount because that would be surely too much to digest in one sitting; rather, the Spirit inspired Matthew to collect sayings of Jesus and reset them together in this dramatic setting. Did not appear to be connected to the rest of his homily, except to discourage us to hear the text on its own terms. Then the priest said he would only preach on the last Beatitude, and invited the congregation (and, impliedly in the context, himself) to identify with being victimized prophets. A lot of history to that, so it rankled. He stated that suffering is arbitrary by nature; not qualifying it at all, in the sense that he omitted to mention that some suffering is brought on by our own actions, omissions and choices. That omission of his played well into the vector of his homily. He then went on to discuss victim theology and how we can boast of and identify with Christ (the second reading) knowing he is with us in our suffering. While this might be unexceptional in another context, one was not challenged (or "invited", to choose a more therapeutic verb) to move beyond the resentment of victimhood, but impliedly left to brew and stew further in it.

Self-anointed prophets can follow his lead.

m`lynn

Diocese of Austin
Parish: St Jerome

11am Mass with only my youngest child as a distraction. The homilist was our pastor, who's generally a very good homilist. Hits the big hot buttons frequently, very seldom talks about sports.

The Mass started with one of the choir directors asking for more people to join the choir. Annoying, as it distracted everyone from the anticipation of what was going to happen next, and threw people a little when it came time to stand for the procession. The music during the entire Mass was ripped from the Marty Haugen songbook (all three of the main songs were at least partly attributed to ole' Marty.)

Fr. Don gave a very impassioned homily about the beatitudes, focusing very frequently on how our parish community thinks of itself as immune from the problems of other parishes. I didn't really understand what he was referring to, as I'm new and not active in the parish, but he came back to that theme several times-- how we were not filled with Jesus's spirit and therefore lacked true Christian love and unity. The homily ran long, probably 45 minutes. I spent a lot of time trying to keep the bored-and-still-a-little-sick 6-year-old content. It was an impressive homily though, just from the standpoint of how passionate Father was.

The only really annoying thing in the entire Mass was that the discernment process for our new pastoral council just wound up, so Fr. had to introduce us all to our new pastoral council members, complete with applause and whatnot. If any one of them was under 45, I'd be seriously surprised. If the parish heads in a new direction, though, I guess we know who to blame. I just hope they pressure the choir directors about the Marty Haugen music.

S.F.

Diocese: Columbus

Homily: The Beatitudes are not a "new law," but a "new opportunity" for grace. What we Catholics have to realize is that everything depends on Christ. Dependence on Christ may lead the world to persecute and shun us, but Christ is our all.

alicia

St John the Evangelist
Concord NH (Diocese of NH)
11:00 Sunday Mass (to which we were a little late due to having to dynamite a 16y/o out of the house)
Celebrant - a nice older semi-retired priest who helps out one weekend per month.
Homily: Focused on "Blessed are the poor in Spirit". Started with some humor but not a specific joke (thankfully). Reminded us that we live in a culture where all our needs and most of our wants are met, and gently prodded us to be more generous with what God has blessed us with. Talked a bit about how it isn't impossible for the rich to get to heaven, just harder. Managed to talk about these concepts without seeming to come off as a plea for the parish fund or the collection plate. (This is one of the wealthier parishes in the region, BTW).
Liturgy comments:
This priest is reverent without being obsequious. The wine for consecration is placed in several chalices rather than the glass flask abomination that many otherwise orthodox parishes practice. Unlike the pastor, this priest pronounces every word of the creed (pastor tends to eliminate the word 'men' from the line 'for us men and for our salvation').
Music: OCP. Female cantor and very skilled keyboardist, who moved from grand piano to pipe organ. Mass of Creation
Missed the entrance hymn, came in during the responsorial psalm, which was a sung "We believe, we believe, we will se the goodness of the Lord, in the land, in the land of the living". Tolerable, but in a key way too high for most of the congregation to join in.
Offertory: I cannot begin to remember what was sung. Have no recollection at all!
Communion: One Bread, One Body. Followed by the keyboardist canoodling on the piano ala George Winston with musical themes taken from the hymns of the day (One week he actually did variations on Kumbaya and I nearly died in my pew)
After communion: Here is my biggest grip with this parish. After communion (and not directly after the end of the communion hymn, but after all the congregation is back in thier pews and Father is seated) they have a solo music piece. These pieces could be instrumental or vocal, and the theme seems to be religious, but it is more like a performance and the congregation applauds afterwards! Anyhow, yesterday was a bit of beautiful melody with vocals from the cantor. The lyrics, however, upset me enough that my husband had to step on my foot to keep me from leaving the building. She sang "I will be Jesus to you" and went on in self congratulatory phrases about how "I will" do all sorts of things that will show the face of Jesus to you. My personal opinion is that if the words had been "I would be " (as in I desire to be) it would have been at least acceptable, but as it was the song to my ears was borderline on inviting idolatry. Very distressing. I also got some glares because I refused to clap.
Closing hymn: Nice Irish tune, more heterodox lyrics. OCP must have pushed this hymn in their "Today's Liturgy" magazine, as the choir in the other parish to which I belong has been learing this one. Title is "The Summons", more first person Jesus lyrics. The fifth verse isn't too bad, though.

B Knotts

Archdiocese: Seattle
Parish: Our Lady Star of the Sea (mission)
Homilist: Our wonderful pastor (Fr. Derek Lappe)
Topic: Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati
He spoke quite a bit about the life of this great "man of the Eight Beatitudes," and how he stands out as an example of truly living one's faith.
Music: Standard OCP fare

Kathy

Diocese of La Crosse
Homily: Deacon
Mass: Saturday vigil
Music: pianist and cantor

Homily: Applied all of the Beatitudes to the story of a holy man who was to be granted one wish by God: his wish was to do good works for the Glory of Our Lord and the good of all people and never to be thanked (so that he would never become prideful). So he walked through the land leaving only good behind--and never asked for, and never received, praise. It was just great: talk about meekness!

Mass itself: We have a young, faithful priest who gives wonderful homilies (often courageous ones), so we're blessed in that regard. Mass was devoutly said, as always. The new GIRM rubrics for posture (bowing during the credo when "by the Holy Spirit became man" is said, and when receiving the Eucharist) are followed by some and not by most.

Music was mixed, all to be found in that OCP with the big-hands-and-feet drawings on the covers. The responsorial psalm is always different from the one for the Sunday, and it's always something new, except for Lent, I guess, when it stays the same until the Triduum. We practiced for Lent with the cantor before Mass. Simplistic music for which we were praised for staying on pitch. The words are good, though. Processional was "Gather Us In." Oh well. The presentation of the gifts song was "The Call" (Ralph Vaughen Williams). Usually every Mass has one good song/hymn, suitable for meditation/contemplation. This was it, and it was sung beautifully by the massgoers (who, cantor's assumption or not, are up to singing good music). The Agnus Dei bothered me: lately they've been singing something totally without the word "mercy" in it. Don't remember the rest of the music.

Kraft

Where: Diocese of Austin, University Catholic Center at The University of Texas
Homilist: Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP, Director of the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations in NYC.

As a guest homlist, his homily was on Ecumenical Relations. All in all, it asked us to extend ourselves to our brother and sisters who are Christian yet not part of the Catholic Church.

Scott

Holy Rosary Parish, Archdiocese of Indianapolis
9:30 am Traditional Latin Mass

Homilist: Fr. Dennis Duvelius, F.S.S.P.
Topic: Sanctifying and Actual Grace

A Solemn Mass was offered, since we currently have a Deacon from the Fraternity of St. Peter assisting at the parish. Music and homily were excellent, as always.

anoninspringfield

Where: Newman Center, UMass Amherst in the Diocese of Springfield, MA

Homily: Deacon

Deacon tried to connect the beatitudes to our lives saying that we are all "nobodies".

Typical Mass with piano and choir with hymns such as "Gather us in" and other OCP hits, usual round of applause at the end of the recessional.

The only thing that was atypical was that before and after the Mass individual blessing of the throats occured in commemoration of St. Blaise.

Neil

Where: St John of Damascus Melkite Catholic Church, South Bend, IN (Eparchy of Newton)
Homilist: Father Robert Kerby

The readings, following the Greek lectionary, were 1 Corinthians 8 and Matthew 25. We celebrate the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (in English) and do not change hymns every week. St John of Damascus Church is a converted house; we usually have around 20 worshippers. I feel that this actually intensifies the dialogical aspect of the liturgy and adds to its contemplative experience. The priest is a retired history professor from Notre Dame who was an acclaimed teacher. His sermons are delivered with a good deal of rhetorical expertise; he is also always careful to place the reading in the context of the lectionary and the Bible before inviting us to use it to meditate upon God's love.

We begin Lent next Sunday (there is no Ash Wednesday for us). This will be a relatively early Lent and Easter - usually the lectionary has a few more Sundays to give us readings about the unexpected scope of God's love before Lent. Father Kerby told us that Matthew 25 reminds us of the reality of judgment. This, however, will be a judgment of our response to God's gratuitous gift of love. Previous to this week's reading, after all, are the parables of the ten virgins and the talents.

Must run. Thank you very much.

Neil

Matt W.

St. Mark the Evangelist, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Homily: Started by drawing the parallel between Jesus going up the mountain to deliver this sermon and Moses going up Sinai: Like another Moses, up the mountain he goes. There he unfolds the conditions of the new covenant, one that will be sealed in his blood. Like the commandments which expressed the old covenant, the Word Jesus speaks unfolds the conditions and promises of the new covenant. Then an explanation that the Beatitudes are not prophecies of what is to come, but "exclamations of what is" and "proclamation(s) of what it means to know Jesus." Then on to a summary of each beatitude and an exhortation to "live in convenent." (Homilies are posted on the parish website.)
Happily, the peacemakers line was not used for yet another condemnation of the war--we hear that frequently.

Liturgy: Mostly standard, middle of the road American liturgy except that our pastor has been using a setting for the Eucharistic Prayer that starts with some form of chant (nice), but with periodic responses from the congregation (a line from the Sanctus), and then switches for the Invocation (no more responses) and again for the Consecration to a banal melody that I struggle to describe. The music (piano and guitar) do not pause for the elevation, which gives the feel of waving to Christ on the sidewalk while driving down the street at 30 mph.
The other liturgical twist is that we sing the first verse of the recessional hymn before the concluding prayer and dismissal, then resume afterward. I haven't figured out what purpose this is supposed to serve. It comes off to me as rather awkward.
The hymn selection, while not stirring, fit nicely with the Gospel.

*One additional note on music: Last week our recessional was set to the music from Holst's "Jupiter" (from The Planets). Beautiful music, but not very easy to sing, especially if one is not familiar with the melody (apparently not much of my parish is). Afterwards, I saw one member of the choir say to another, "That was awful." So I'm guessing we won't be given a chance to learn it better.

KH

Church:
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Scarsdale, NY

Homilist: Msgr. William Smith

A fairly large, beautiful stone church with statues, dark wood confessionals with red velvet curtains, tabernacle front and center and a huge crucifix above. 24-hr adoration M-F. The 10:30 mass as usual is fairly full and has the adult choir (they are quite talented, as is the organist who gets to play a huge pipe organ). I remember two hymns were good and two just "eh", but some nice Latin chant during communion.

Msgr. Smith is always rock-solid in his homilies, never rushes and always explains things very clearly. He spoke on the Beatitudes, and mentioned that Christ's sayings could be hard and sometimes fairly detailed...not at all like some of those in the Catholic hierarchy who make such generalized statements they are no more than "religious junk-food"...but you'll never get a McSermon from Msgr. Smith. He reminded us that Christ's sayings were hard, too hard to really follow on our own...but with God, all things are possible.

I am thrilled - and blessed - that we are getting this quality spiritual nourishment from Msgr. Smith.

Now I'm gonna have to pay close attention next week if we're gonna have a quiz on Monday mornings!

bwilliams

Diocese of Sacramento, California.

Church: Sacred Heart Parish

The Church choir, schola cantorum, sang beautifully,as always. I was nearly brought to tears by their rendition of Adoro Te Devote at Communion time.

Unfortunately, my two-year old was in desperate need of a nap, and so I missed most of the homily. It had a promising start however -- a tale of a Catholic parish in Russia that kept the bricks from its demolished church as relics until, recently, they were finally able to build a new one, with those bricks as the cornerstone. The priest, who is a Pole, was going to relate this story to some lessons about faith.

Even that tired two-year old, however, loved the music! He cried out for "more" the entire way to the car after Mass. A couple of weeks ago my Lutheran grandparents practically crossed the Tiber after hearing the schola sing at Mass. I believe that their words were: "That is what worship is supposed to sound like."

bwilliams

Diocese of Sacramento, California.

Church: Sacred Heart Parish

The Church choir, schola cantorum, sang beautifully,as always. I was nearly brought to tears by their rendition of Adoro Te Devote at Communion time.

Unfortunately, my two-year old was in desperate need of a nap, and so I missed most of the homily. It had a promising start however -- a tale of a Catholic parish in Russia that kept the bricks from its demolished church as relics until, recently, they were finally able to build a new one, with those bricks as the cornerstone. The priest, who is a Pole, was going to relate this story to some lessons about faith.

Even that tired two-year old, however, loved the music! He cried out for "more" the entire way to the car after Mass. A couple of weeks ago my Lutheran grandparents practically crossed the Tiber after hearing the schola sing at Mass. I believe that their words were: "That is what worship is supposed to sound like."

Anthony Roberts

St. Joseph's Parish Hillsborough, NJ
Diocese of Metuchen
6:00 p.m. LifeTeen Mass
Celebrated by Msgr. Ray Kohl, Pastor

My wife and I attended this mass as we gave a Pro-Life presentation to the youth group as part of their "Life Night" after mass. My previous experiences with LifeTeen made me wary and my discomfort only grew as I saw the youth take their positions behind the instruments (full drum kit, 2 electric guitars, acoustic guitars, electric bass, piano, violin, bongos, and horns.) I was pleasantly surprised, while the entrance hymn and recessional were cacophonies of sound, the responsorial psalm, Alleluia, offertory and meditation hymns were done with violin and piano along with the hauntingly beautiful voices of two sopranos.

Father's homily began with a discussion of the Beatitudes and how they are applied to the modern day. He then discussed how people mistake of thinking that Priests are these creatures who lack humanity or experience with the real world. He tied the beatitudes and both readings into a remarkable homily on vocations (addressing Holy Orders and Marriage as vocations of equal importance), stewardship, and discipleship. There was some complaint because his homily went 45 minutes (Catholics here seem to have a hang up about long homilies.) The length of this one was justififed as it left you wanting more. More from the sacrament of the Eucharist and wanting more from yourself.

Erin

Diocese of Portland, OR- Teen Mass

Homily based on Beatitudes, Father spoke to us about how being poor, sorrowful, hungry, etc are not things we ask for to achieve happiness, though they are the path to holiness. He spoke of the importance of having integrity and he even spoke of a way he recently realized he wasn't living as he preached and promised us as our Pastor that he'd do better.

Now for the confession: I lead the music for this Mass. And it is often "noisy". I receive much pressure for "more upbeat songs". I work to bring traditional in as often as possible, as well as to have more meditative songs during the Mass (we have a warm-up as well as a post-Mass worship song where I try to let the energy run high, as opposed to during Mass).

We hold hands for the Our Father, a practice I dislike but participate in as it appears this is what the community chooses. At daily Masses I (politely) refrain from the practice. We also stand following the Angus Dei. This is per our Bishop, as Portland decided to stand as that is what other NW area Diocese are doing. I actually think of this time as a time of grace. Of sharing the Cross with Christ- not being able to do what I want out of obedience to my Bishop.

I constantly strive to make this Mass a place where our teens (and the ever expanding number of other Parishoners who attend) understand and experience more of the sacrifice and the fellowship in the Eucharist than in the handholding and "praise". I have learned over the years that you can't change something in which you are not involved, so I remain here and pray for change as well as steadfastness. In my nearly 2 years here, the Teens have come off the Altar for the Consecration and we have monthly Adoration specifically for teens (in addition to the Parish's Perpetual Adoration). Two things I prayed for and never even had to mention!

Our Pastor is wonderful- with relevant homilies (and good penances), as well as providing excellent Catechesis.

James Kabala

His homily was 45 minutes? Wow.

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