"While praying one day and while contemplating the Crucifix, it seemed that I heard these words: "Look, my son, at my divine Blood. Through sufferings, I poured it out and through sufferings will its adoration be promoted." Humankind shudders at the word suffering, but it is nevertheless necessary for one to learn to carry the Cross.
For St. Gaspar the cross was the only book we would need. St. Maria de Mattias said, "The cross is always dear to those who truly love Jesus." For all the saints the cross stands at the center of our lives. For Francis de Sales it was the only road to heaven. Here alone one learns the lessons of love, not in formulas, prayers, or sermons, but in a life given. The cross is the chair of truth. Here we see truly humankind at its worst, crucifying the innocent one. Here, too, we see humanity at its best, in a faithful life given for others. This mystical ladder to heaven can truly only be lived, not understood. And if it is understood, it can only be grasped by one who has loved, and has struggled to love.
Our God is not an abstraction found in the pages of a book. Our God is found in this person, Jesus. God has become one with us, has experienced our pain, our wants and our disappointments. God's love is to be lived in all its frustrating difficulty by the followers of Jesus. We know that only in giving, completely, and selflessly as Jesus does, do we gain life itself. With St. Gaspar we say over and over, "Superabundo gaudio in omni tribulatione." I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation. (2 Cor. 7:4)
I remember once a couple experiencing trouble with their marriage. After many months they were communicating more effectively. One day there was a crisis. He was laid off from work. Her work was cut back. There was fear and frustration and anxiety. When they came to talk to me I noticed she was identifying with his fear rather than telling him to work harder. He was listening to her anxiousness without taking responsibility for it or telling her to settle down. I remarked how they were caring for one another and doing so well. She responded by asking, "If we are doing so well, why is life falling apart?" Well, we follow someone who died on a cross, who experienced the worst and cruelest form of capital punishment. Life will fall apart. The struggles and trials of life and love will prove us and refine us into fire tried gold. Maturity comes, for St. Gaspar, through "thorns, crosses and hardships." What we will discover in the midst of these crosses is unconditional love.
 to Sister Maria Giuseppa Pitorri, Letter 3785, Quotation 5, Strokes of the Pen V, 15:20, pg. 43
It was a sad day when I left the community that gave me life. I had wonderful friends and mentors who were good to me and had encouraged me. Casper Bonifas (d. 1998) strongly encouraged me in music ministry. He loved the music that I prepared for provincial assemblies. He even gave me some of his preaching notes from when he preached missions. John Klopke (d. 2003) was a great mentor in the intellectual life, examining sources and exploring how they might be helpful in today’s world. Larry Heiman (d. 2012) was a great friend, whom I count as my best teacher over the past 30 years. He was my teacher in Gregorian chant. Sacred chant was his passion, but he was not afraid to change. Even in his old age, he introduced me to the chant wars; the contrast between an old Ward method and the semiology of some of the giants in the Solemnes world. Marvin Steffes (d. 2011) cried when I had to leave his employ to enter formation. He had no idea how he could rejoice and be sad at the same time and he did not understand how his preaching had led me to that choice. Milton Ballor (d. 2009) was a great friend. He visited me many times in California and provided relics for the parish altar. He and I had a great love for Rome and tradition.
But my friends and mentors died or went away and I was left with a community that was not sure what it was about and in many ways was going its own way. From afar, the other province was agitating for a change in the church stance on same-sex relationships. They even accepted to minister in the gay parish in our back yard. I got tire of people in the bay area asking if I was gay. Close at hand, I had a parochial vicar who had voted for (so-called) same sex marriage in the recent elections. More than that, this parochial vicar contradicted me in the confessional, called me all sorts of names because I thought contraception was unacceptable for a Catholic, and ridiculed me for celebrating the Latin Mass and wearing a cassock. He believed it appropriate and acceptable that the only things we agreed on were Jesus and Scotch, single Malt scotch.
That was not enough. The Community saddled me with a Charismatic associate. This was no normal Charismatic associate. This was an Indian with suspect theology from an Indian Ashram who had no concept of normal American relationships or attention to detail. But Charismatic he was; so, when I asked him to observe the norms of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal, he instead provided me with some printed, unbound copies of an unapproved ritual for the American church. This was unacceptable and I told him so.
I witnessed one of his Charismatic liturgies. There was no Entrance Rite, just a time of praise and worship music. Then the priest said a prayer. It was long and charismatic and was not from any approved ritual. Then there was a reading and Responsorial Psalm, followed by an extended time of praise. Then he read the Gospel. The homily was not related to anything resembling Catholic doctrine and then, he proceeded with the Offertory and the Eucharistic prayer. There was no Memorial Acclamation, just an extended time of praise. The Great Amen was replaced with another extended time of praise which included the Our Father. Communion occurred normally. There was no Concluding Prayer or Final Blessing. This was a time for anointing and prayer. The oil of the sick was used, but this was not for those who were ill or close to death; it was for everyone, including young people. Any relationship with the Roman Rite was brief and fleeting, and it was a complete misuse of the Church’s Sacrament of Anointing.
Then there was the provincial who removed me from the “Companion Program” and refused me permission to attend even the meetings of the group. The sponsor who replaced me was gay and opposed me at every step, turning the Companions into an opposition group. New companions were liberal members of the parish, including some who advocated for women’s ordination on their Facebook pages.
So, after my tenth anniversary as Pastor, some of these liberals got the idea to do a letter writing campaign against me, inundating the provincial offices with about 50 or 60 letters. One parishioner complained to the diocese that I was using parish funds for my vacations. They came and did an investigation but everything checked out and the accusation proved to be unfounded. The Province came out and did an investigation, but they only spoke to liberal members of the parish who opposed me. They did not consider that there were 6,000 families who loved the way things were. They interviewed the other two priests who opposed me theologically and liturgically, and they interviewed parishioners who were in favor of contraception, abortion and gay relationships.
So, the Provincial decided to remove me, and the new bishop who did not know me, concurred. They said that the Charismatic associate had complained that he could not minister properly working for me. I have nothing against the Charismatic movement per se. I am strongly opposed to the abuse of the Eucharist and the Liturgy.
By removing me, my Community gave support to parishioners who opposed my preaching on contraception, on women’s ordination, on abortion and same-sex relationships. I asked the vice provincial who did the investigation if he had asked them what they believed. His answer: “What difference would that make?”
There was a time when a CPPS parish was unique. It was different from other places because of the spirituality. That is what this parish was. It provided a home for those who were cast off from other places. We had parishioners who traveled for 20-25 miles for their Roman fix. Those who were not welcome in other places found a home here. The CPPS province destroyed that. Many parishioners are now scattered far and wide and the parish is just like the other liberal parishes in the diocese.
I am a Roman Catholic. I believe everything that the Roman Catholic Church proclaims to be true and revealed by God. I have nothing in common with the Precious Blood Community. They told me that unless I changed, they would retire me, because they had nowhere to put me. I choose to serve the Church where I am needed. I had to find my own job. My Community never appointed me to that place, so I have decided to serve the bishop who did appoint me, as long as the Lord gives me life and health.
Omnia Christus Est Nobis
Christ is everything for us!
Burying the Alleluia
Sacristy Art I
Sacristy Art II
Sacristy Art III
Sacristy Art IV
Sacristy Art V
Sacristy Art VI
Years in Review
Decade in review
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.