Blessings All Year
Dear friends and neighbors,
2017 is drawing to a close and it is time to look back and count all the blessings. Last year I wrote: “I celebrate Mass at the Convent on weekday mornings, teach at the High School during the day, and on weekends, I hear confessions and celebrate Mass at the Parish. Also during the week, I teach an Adult Faith Formation class and conduct a rehearsal for the Chant Schola.” Nothing has changed. I can’t believe how much fun I am having!!
The main event for January ’17 was the Walk for Life. It was a great time to see friends, the faithful from Newark, some of whom make annual pilgrimages to the north for Mass, food and fellowship. February ’17 saw a trip to Oklahoma for the first Regina Conference. There was a handful of us in the conference room and others joined from across America and Europe by video. March ’17 saw the dedication of the Cathedral and the new Baldacchino. The Gregorian chant schola I conduct teamed up with the Marian Sisters to chant the music for the dedication. The next day, I was celebrating Mass at the new High Altar for Gaudete Sunday. This year’s Triduum (April ’17) was pretty extraordinary: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday were all in the Extraordinary Form.
May ’17 was the observance of the 100th Anniversary of the appearances of the Blessed Mother at Fatima. We started with a Rosary in the Parish Hall, a procession with the Statue around the property and along a busy boulevard into the Cathedral, where the new Statue was installed in its niche, then Mass was celebrated and many consecrated themselves to the Virgin.
June ’17 saw another pilgrimage to Rome. It was great to spend time with friends, enjoy terrific food and have marvelous conversations. This included a pilgrimage to the Eucharistic Miracle in Lanciano, to the Holy Face in Manoppello, and to Roman sites associated with the Martyrdom of St. Paul. There was also a pilgrimage to the historic shop of Gammarelli where with assistance, I designed and ordered a very Roman Marian Vestment. Pictures of this trip are on my blog, along with pictures of the vestment. June also saw a trip to St. Paul, MN for the annual CMAA colloquium. July ’17 included a trip to Medford, OR for the Sacred Liturgical Conference. Four of the Marian Sisters also attended. Here, I was able to meet Cardinal Burke, but most attendees insisted the best talk was by Bishop Vasa.
August ’17 was the celebration of my 64th birthday. Many friends came from the old parish and we had a marvelous five course dinner here in the Cathedral Rectory. September ’17 saw another trip to Rome; this was a quick trip of four days to attend the celebrations of the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum. Here, I had a more extensive conversation with Cardinal Burke who reported on conversations with Italian CPPS. He said that they were aware of how bad things were in the USA and he affirmed my intention to leave the CPPS.
September ’17 I began my second season of teaching High School Scripture and Church History. This included even a few evenings of stretching my vocal chords to sing the National Anthem at Football games on cool autumn evenings. October ’17 was the Fire that engulfed much of Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino Counties. Many parishioners and students lost their homes. The High School where I teach was heavily damaged by the fire. When school resumed, we gathered at four different sites. Now, much of the instruction is done online with Google Classroom.
November ’17 saw the renewal of religious vows for the Marian Sisters, chanting a Missa Cantata each Sunday and celebrating Requiems. December ‘17 will include the efforts to celebrate an occasional Solemn High Mass with Deacons and Subdeacons, and singing a solemn Vespers with the Bishop presiding.
I would be remiss if I did not mention a small part of the beauty of my life: The Amice Art. Each morning the sister sacristan who lays out the vestments creates some wonderful artwork from the Amice ties. These have become internationally famous, having appeared on the New Liturgical Movement blog some three times.
Some of my favorite songs are from this Advent time. They speak of an unspeakable joy awaited, an enrichment celebrated with extravagant joy. Our God has visited his people. My prayer for you in this time is that God continues to fill you with his most wonderful gifts. In Christ and in His blood, we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven, so immeasurably generous is God favor to us. (Eph 1:7) Blessed Christmas.
People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations; and the Lord shall make the glory of His voice to be heard, in the joy of your heart.
O Shepherd of Israel, hearken, O Guide of the flock of Joseph!
Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent, The Cathedral of St. Eugene, 1:30pm along with the Consecration to The Blessed Virgin Mary.
First Sunday of Advent, (OF) at the 9:00am Mass at Cathedral of St. Eugene.
Preaching on the 24th and last Sunday after Pentecost, St. Eugene Cathedral, Extraordinary Form Mass, 1:30pm November 26th, 2017, Santa Rosa CA
Et ídeo, cum Angelis et Archángelis, cum Thronis et Dominatiónibus, cumque omni milítia cæléstis exércitus, hymnum glóriæ tuæ cánimus sine fine dicéntes.
And so, with all the Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominions, and with all the hosts and Power of heaven, we sing the hymn of your glory, as without end we acclaim.
This should give us some indication of what kind of sight we need to be able to participate in the liturgy. We need the eyes of faith. There is a Christian hip-hop artist, who if he is not a Catholic certainly should be: “You gave me the stars, put them out of reach, and called me to waters just a little too deep. I have never been so aware of my need. It’s out of my league.”
From the beginning sign of the cross to the final blessing we have been taken to the foot of the cross and placed in the very center of the Christian mystery. All the saints and the immense courts of angelic beings gather together around this altar, there is an angel there whose sole responsibility is to assist the priest with this immense mystery as it is clear he cannot do it by himself.
St. John Chrysostom states, “when Mass is being celebrated the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.” During the Mass when the priest turns toward the people, he turns toward the right, and then back to the altar by the left. At the Orate Frates, though, he makes a complete circle turn all the way to the right back to the altar, signifying in a small way that the door of heaven has been opened and now we are heading into the mystery which cannot be described with mere words and in fact descends into a holy silence.
Heaven is open; and we are in the presence of a great and awesome mystery.
So where is your mind? First of all, let me be honest. I know how difficult this is. Often I am left wondering what the h*** those ushers are doing back there! There is so much detail to our life, classes to teach, a sister who is sick, errands to run and people to call; and we brought all that with us. We bring everything to the Lord. But there must be a time to stop and let everything rest, and bask in the immense love of a Father who wants to come this close to us.
It’s out of our league, and this is why every moment is to be framed in prayer, and silence must reign in sacristies, and maybe even vestibules, so that we may regain the amazement that is so necessary to this celebration.
I was ordained in 1991. I was trained to celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. My professor made sure that we knew the rubrics because we would have to be able to break them intelligently. I am of the opinion that the Ordinary form of the Latin Rite is the normal form, common to all Catholic Churches. I am of the opinion that the Ordinary form, properly celebrated, would not necessitate the inclusion of the Extraordinary Form in normal parish life.
But that is the problem. Is there any parish in the United States where the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is properly celebrated? Is there any priest in the United States who has a reasonable knowledge of ars celbrandi who knows how to celebrate Mass in a manner consistent with the intent of the Universal Church? And if a priest learns to celebrate Mass in that manner, will he change because the poor parishioners feel they have been relegated to being bystanders and observers.
Dear Father, you are there to offer the Holy Sacrifice to the Almighty Father. It is not your job to connect emotionally with congregation. Your job is not to engage the children or young people or make them happy. Your job is not to evaluate the liturgy based on how it makes people feel.
One parishioner remarked that they enjoyed the liturgy because it was so personal. The Mass felt really intimate as he prayed the Eucharistic prayer in his own words.
I have been told that there is a rich diversity in the way liturgy is celebrated in the church and multiple expressions that are valid, and that limiting Charismatic abuses of the liturgy is more of a personal preference than church teaching. Continuing they accused me of removing the liturgy from the people and that to be traditional would deny the rich diversity of our Catholic Liturgical heritage.
This is why the Extraordinary Form must be made available. They Church must have a direct experience of what continuity with the ancient faith looks and sounds like. There is a very real and separate difference between the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form. With the Extraordinary Form you are immersed in the mystery, “Te igitur, clementíssime Pater.” On the other hand the Ordinary form immerses you in the mundane, “What on earth are those ushers doing back there?”
In actual fact, there is very little difference between the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form, both properly celebrated. When you celebrate both properly, there is a sense that makes it clear why a reform was desired. There are some things eliminated and a few added things.
Even though The Ordinary Form is the normal expression of Catholic worship, I will prefer the Extraordinary Form. In the Ordinary Form I am criticized for how I celebrate Mass. In the Extraordinary Form the criticism is that I celebrate it.
In the short term you will be criticized if you disappear into the Liturgy and make it all about Jesus and not about the local community. Do it anyway!
I am a decent musician. I can play a guitar, compose a tune, and lead a group in song. I am good teacher. I can put two words together, and people have told me that they enjoy hearing me speak about the faith. I am an adequate organizer. We went from one bus to seven busses going to the Walk for Life in just four years. I was a pastor for 18 years. I got a parish out of debt, established an adult faith formation program that drew people in from miles around, and made sure the liturgy was celebrated well and reverently with the best in sacred music. In many ways, in the ways of the world, I have been called recently a successful human being.
But all of that is going or is gone. Only Love lasts forever. I am only a successful human being if I love the Lord and seek to do only his will.
The most important thing I can do each day is celebrate Mass. And here I do not get to focus on what I am good at. I get to focus on my weakness, and in humility look to what the Lord has entrusted to my weakness, and that he considers me, in spite of my weakness, capable of acting in his person and in his name, he being fully present. My job is to get out of the way.
I think it was St. John Vianney who told me that if I knew what I was doing it would take my breath away.
So, I appreciate it when people tell me I am good at music. My ego gets puffed up a bit when I am told they like to hear me speak, or that I am a good leader. But I am a little sad when I hear people say to me that “that was the most reverent Mass I have ever been to.” I think it should be that way at every mass.
This is one of the reasons I appreciate the Extraordinary Form so much. First of all, I do not put a microphone on for the Extraordinary Form. The Microphone is the single greatest cause of the destruction of reverence in the liturgy. It turned everyone into a performer. The microphone helps in conforming to the standards of the modern entertainment culture. It makes my voice or song the important thing to listen to and accept.
In the Liturgy it is the Lord who acts. I am but the weak instrument he has chosen, to do his work in the frail human flesh he took on in his incarnation. In the extraordinary form I conform my body and spirit to the liturgy itself, there being no others options I may choose because of my own sensibilities. In the ordinary form there are so many options and the choice is generally about my thinking or feeling on that given day.
The Gospel Reading from Matthew for the 23rd Sunday after Penetcost
Sermon for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, preached by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes
Omnia Christus Est Nobis
Christ is everything for us!
I am a Roman Catholic Priest from California. I spent 13 wonderful years years as a member of the Province of the Pacific in the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. The outline of my life can be traced here.