Sunday, September 30, 2007
I went to the 8:00 this morning and a visiting priest assumed the responsibilities. He and his processional team were speedy walkers and reached the altar about the same time that the organist finished the first verse. Then obediently, observing Commandment No. One of the Church Organists Society Manual of Instructions, the organist continued to play until all four verses of the processional had been sung (feebly, I might add, by the congregation), while Father patiently waited.
He got his turn though, when after the Kyrie, he rushed right into a spoken Gloria, ignoring the plan that was to have the congregation sing the Gloria, as usual. Thanks, Father!
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Why has Duluth, which has one of the fastest declining Catholic populations in the nation, been producing such a crop of seminary students? For its population of Roman Catholics, more young men from the Duluth Diocese have become priests than in most other dioceses in the country. In a report to be issued this fall, the Duluth Diocese will come in at number 21 out of the country's 176 ranked dioceses.
For a while, Brandon Moravitz was "duking it out with God."
Was he meant to be a married man? Perhaps a youth minister? Moravitz, now 29, tried both those suits on, but they didn't feel quite right.
What about the priesthood?
"What, God? Really?" Moravitz, of Ely, remembers asking. And God, for now, has told him yes.
Moravitz is in the middle of eight years of seminary education and soul-searching, a process that all priests go through to discern if God has chosen them to be priests. Brandon's younger brother, Ryan, is set to be ordained as a priest next year.
The Moravitz brothers are two of 20 young men enrolled in seminary and committed to serving in the Duluth Diocese, a collection of 93 parishes across northeastern and central Minnesota. For its population of Roman Catholics, more young men from the Duluth Diocese have become priests than in most other dioceses in the country.
The seminarians are spread among schools and universities across the country. But once a year they gather in Duluth for a weekend of fellowship and bonding. It's a time for the men who might one day be priests to get to know each other and the people of their home diocese.
When he tells people he is part of that group, Brandon Moravitz sees two reactions.
"Some people are very intrigued and inspired," he said. "And to others, you're going against the grain of our culture, you're giving up the ideal."
Perception of priests
People can't believe priests would choose to forgo marriage, sex and a career where they are free to make their own choices, seminary students say, but that's a narrow lens with which to examine the priesthood.
"There's an impression that when a man goes into celibate priesthood, they are shutting themselves off from joy," said Dan Weiske of Duluth. He was working toward a master's degree in public administration when he decided to enter seminary.
"But a man that goes into seminary can have very, very full joy, a joy that flows out of relationships with other people, but especially God," Weiske said. He said he is excited about being able to bring that joy out in others.
Why has Duluth, which has one of the fastest declining Catholic populations in the nation, been producing such a crop of seminary students?
Some chalk it up to prayer, others to the bishop, deacons and priests who actively encourage men to consider the priesthood, still others to the "John Paul II generation" of young Catholics who were energized by the popular pope.
It's a tricky thing to predict how many young men from the diocese might enter seminary in a given year, said Duluth Diocese Deacon Mike Knuth. People often think about seminary for years before they enter, and there is much that can happen to encourage -- or discourage -- them along the way.
"You plant the seed, put in fertilizer, and wait," Knuth said. "Some years are abundant while other years are real lean."
Knuth chalks it up to prayer and an active, involved vocations team, which includes Bishop Dennis Schnurr, the Rev. Richard Kunst and himself.
Between 450 and 500 new Catholic priests are ordained every year, said Mary Gautier, senior research associate of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. But the church as a whole needs about three times that number to replace the priests who retire, die or otherwise leave the priesthood during that same period, she said.
The center periodically ranks dioceses based on the number of newly ordained priests over several years. In a report to be issued this fall, the Duluth Diocese will come in at number 21 out of the country's 176 ranked dioceses, Gautier said.
Hearing the call
There is no one road that leads these men toward the church, Knuth said. Some, like 19-year-old Adam Isakson of Cloquet, have been traveling that path since they were very young.
Isakson, who attended his first day of undergraduate seminary classes at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity this month, has felt called to the priesthood since sixth grade, when he witnessed Bishop Schnurr's ordination.
"I felt a sense of peace in my heart; I felt a sense of belonging" during Schnurr's ordination, Isakson said.
Just once did Isakson really question if he was meant for the priesthood.
"Maybe I'm called to married life," Isakson wondered. "But then God gave me a slap in the face at Eucharist. I asked, 'God, can you please give me a sign?' And right when I prayed, a lady I didn't know turned to me and asked if I had ever thought about entering the priesthood."
And just once did Isakson's mother, Christine, question whether her only child should devote his life to the church. When she asked Adam if he was sure he wanted to enroll in seminary school this fall, "he looked at me and said, 'And not go into the priesthood?"' Christine Isakson recalled. "So I left it at that; I didn't say anything more. I leave it in God's hands."
Whenever seminary students talk about being ordained, they automatically add "God willing." The phrase is an acknowledgement that a handful of students leave seminary each year and that no matter how sure they are now that the priesthood is for them, that could change.
Ryan Norrell, 23, formerly of Meadowlands, entered seminary with a sense of "peace and joy" in his heart, and when he left seminary two years later, his heart was filled with the same emotions.
"I had been praying about it for a while, just wanting guidance about where I should go," Norrell said. After months of prayer, he discerned the right decision was to leave. The hardest part was walking away from the 50 young men he had spent years praying, learning and living with, Norrell said. Six months later, he met his future wife. Both now live in Grand Forks, N.D., where Norrell is enrolled in law school.
"If everyone who went into seminary became a priest, the seminary wouldn't be doing its job," Norrell said. "Not everyone is meant to become a priest."
Questioning whether they are meant to be priests is a normal part of seminary. When the current class of seminarians met in Duluth this year, they seized on a rare opportunity to ask the diocese's newest priests about the lifestyle.
The young men dragged chairs into a rough circle and slowly began to ask the Revs. Francis Kabiru, Gabriel Waweru and Thomas Galarneault the most practical of questions.
How do you find time to prepare a meal?
What if you run out of spiritual sustenance?
And, by the way, how's the whole celibacy thing?
Many of the answers focused on finding the time for prayer, and making that time your center.
"If you allow yourself, you'll be run into the ground," Bishop Schnurr said. "What you have to do is structure in, all the time, the need for prayer. If you remain faithful to that time of prayer, it's amazing. Everything gets done."
During the days that followed, there was time to talk about faith and about the diocese's resources, time to pop a beer by a campfire and play a mean game of ultimate Frisbee. For Isakson, it was a chance to meet his fellow seminarians before the rigors of the school year began.
"You want to be a man of God, and that's what the seminary does," Isakson said. "It takes you from being a boy into being a man of God." Rochester Post Bulletin
Rushford, MN: Still reeling after a devastating flood, the town faces another worry: Winter's arrival.
The arrival of fall color is usually inspiring in southeastern Minnesota. But for many in flood-ravaged Rushford, it is bringing a sense of dread this year. "It seems so early," said Nancy Benson, looking up from her soon-to-be-demolished house at a pair of orange-leafed maples across High Street a few days ago. "We don't want fall to come too quickly. We need more time to get things done."
Six weeks have passed since Rush Creek, swollen by an unprecedented 15 inches of rain over the area, jumped dikes and filled much of Rushford. The old stone school has reopened downtown. But only one business, the Subway sandwich shop, has fully reopened. . . . [Snip] StarTribune
Bishop Hoeppner Pleased to be a "Mississippi River Rat" in Crookston; but now he has the "Red River" to really pray about!
The Rev. Michael Hoeppner got a call that turned out to be the call.
As he was driving to Austin, Minn., with Winona Bishop Bernard Harrington Hoeppner’s cell phone rang. It was Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Pope Benedict XVI’s representative in America. The Holy Father had named Hoeppner the Bishop of the Crookston (Minn.) Diocese.
Sambi knew Hoeppner was on the road with Harrington and asked him to call back in an hour.
“OK,” was about the only words that Hoeppner could find when he was told the news.
Hoeppner pulled the car over and asked Harrington to drive the rest of the way. On their way to Austin, they continued in prayer together, saying the rosary.
When Hoeppner called back, Sambi asked, “Do you accept?”
“Gratefully, I do,” Hoeppner replied.
Winona’s native son will leave one corner of the state and head to another.
“I am just delighted. It’s a very happy day,” Hoeppner said. “I grew up a river rat and now I am going to be in the diocese that has the Mississippi River headwaters in it. They also probably didn’t want to appoint someone who doesn’t love the Minnesota winters. I love Minnesota.”
The pope accepted the resignation of longtime Crookston Bishop Victor Balke on Friday. Hoeppner served as the Vicar General of the Diocese of Winona.
“I have enjoyed working with Bishop Harrington — he is a very pastoral bishop,” Hoeppner said. “People have asked me what I plan to do first, and I’ve told them I want to visit the parishes and the priest and be that kind of pastoral bishop.”
Hoeppner, 58, now the bishop-elect, is scheduled to be ordained a bishop and installed Nov. 30 in Crookston.
Hoeppner was born June 1, 1949, to Joseph and Anna Hoeppner in Winona and has three siblings, Patricia, Edward and Mary. He attended Cathedral Elementary School, Cotter High School, Saint Mary’s College and Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, all in Winona. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Winona on June 29, 1975, by Pope Paul VI at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
He served at number of parishes in the Winona Diocese, including St. Stanislaus Kostka and St. Casmir’s in Winona, and parishes in Minnesota City, Lewiston and Altura.
“He is well-prepared and well-qualified, and I know the people and the clergy of the Diocese of Crookston will welcome him with open arms and work with him to build up the Church of Crookston,” Harrington said.
Balke, who will turn 76 on Saturday, was ordained a bishop Sept. 2, 1976, in Crookston. Bishops are required to submit their resignations to Rome when they are 75.
Balke said during spring 2006, he had asked to retire and in recent months has told the Grand Forks Herald he was looking for it to happen sooner, rather than later.
Mary Gautier of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington said Balke has been a bishop in his diocese longer than any other active bishop.
The Crookston diocese includes 14 counties in northwestern Minnesota and serves about 36,000 Catholics.
Balke has been seen as one of the more progressive bishops in the U.S. Roman Catholic church, particularly in his promotion of women to leadership roles. For example, he has appointed nuns as pastoral administrators and associates of parishes.
He also spoken publicly in favor of ordaining married men, although he supports the church position that women should not be priests.
Balke has, at times, taken public stands on controversial issues. He said in 1993 that he would not willingly pay his federal income taxes if Congress mandated public funding of abortions. He also came out against the Vietnam War in the 1970s.
He wrote about the Iraq war in the most recent issue of the diocesan newspaper. He said he thought the decision to go to war a mistake, but said the next move had to be decided by military and political leaders.
“Does that mean we can do nothing? Not at all! To say that we can do nothing is to say that we no longer believe in the power of prayer. We can and, as Christians who are called upon to be peacemakers, we must pray for peace in Iraq,” he wrote.
“I dare say, and this is saying a lot, that we can and must pray that the terrorists, even Osama bin Laden, will turn from their violent ways to thoughts and works of peace based on justice. Nothing is impossible for God!“ Winona Daily News
For those of you not familiar with Minnesota geography, the "Red River of the North, the border between Minnesota and North Dakota, has its source near Breckenridge, MN, and flows north, through Lake Winnipeg to Hudson Bay. This means that as Spring comes and the melt begins in Breckenridge, the ice is still frozen to the north and annual flooding of the Red River as water backs up when it encounters the ice is a common occurrence, causing much concern to the towns along the border, affecting particularly Moorhead and East Grand Forks in the Diocese of Crookston. Bishop Hoeppner will regularly be calling for prayers to avert floods in the springtimes. Winona got rain last month.
Fargo In-Forum article on the appointment.
Diocese of Crookston web page (pdf file)
Friday, September 28, 2007
I was reading something by Peggy Noonan about Father Rutler's activities near Ground Zero on "That Day" and looked up a bit of information on him to send with the article to my brother in California. I came across this wonderful list of Father Rutler's on "How to Make a Good Confession." Having watched him many times on EWTN, there is no doubt in my mind that Father Rutler would know something about that subjected.
I recommend that you copy it to your computer, print it out, and use it, often!
I haven't seen the official report yet, but CatholicHierarchy.org and my pal, Google, tell me that Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner, the new Bishop of Crookston, was the Vicar General of the Diocese of Winona!
More information later.
I just don't know how Rocco does it. Maybe his mom's maiden name was Ratzinger?
A New Shepherd's Crook(ston)As intimated last night (see next post), Crookston's day has arrived.
This morning, the Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Victor Balke, who turns 76 tomorrow, naming in his stead Msgr Michael Hoeppner, heretofore vicar-general of Winona.
A native Minnesotan, the 58 year-old bishop-elect comes with a background steeped both in parish work and administration, and with a good bit of teaching ministry, to boot. An alum of the Pontifical North American College, Hoeppner is yet another member of the class of 29 June 1975 -- when Pope Paul VI ordained 359 priests to mark the Holy Year -- to be elevated to the episcopacy, and the second US appointee this year to come from the group, which also counts Archbishops Raymond Burke of St Louis, the prefect of the Papal Household James Harvey and Michael Miller CSB, now the coadjutor of Vancouver, among its members.
Possessed of a JCL from St Paul's in Ottawa and a master's in Education from a Winona-area university, the bishop-elect's priestly ministry included a seven-year stint in the triple roles of high school teacher, school administrator and diocesan director of vocations. He served as Winona's judicial vicar from 1988-97, when then-Bishop John Vlazny named him vicar-general.
Following Vlazny's 1997 transfer to the archbishopric of Portland in Oregon, Hoeppner was elected to oversee the diocese during the interregnum before the appointment and arrival of Bishop Bernard Harrington, who subsequently confirmed Hoeppner as his chief deputy.
For the northern diocese of 36,000, Balke's resignation marks the end of an era -- the bishop observed his 31st anniversary in the Northwestern Minnesota outpost earlier this month.
To become the seventh ordinary of Crookston, the bishop-elect must be ordained and installed in the post within four months from his reception of the papal decrees of his appointment. And once he does, another celebration won't be far off -- the diocese marks its centenary on the last day of 2009. Whispers
West Central Tribune article, Willmar
The 58-year-old bishop-designate will be installed Nov. 30.
The Diocese of Crookston has a population of 250,941. There are 35,780 Catholics, 45 priests, 13 permanent deacons and 123 religious.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Rocco the Irrepressible has an Alert for Crookston: New Bishop Being Announced about 5:00 a.m. CDT (noon Roman time) tomorrow
And, lastly, the warning bells have gone off in Northwestern Minnesota’s diocese of Crookston, where an e.mail sent earlier today to the clergy announced a “press conference” scheduled for tomorrow morning. Home to the nation’s longest-serving ordinary, Bishop Victor Balke will turn 76 on Saturday. After more than 31 years of leading the 36,000-member diocese, Rome’s sending the bishop's birthday present a day early -- the gift of his successor. And the mitre goes to… an in-stater with a sterling reputation. More after Roman Noon. Whispers in the Loggia
"Father Z" on Bishop Zipfel's reaction to the Motu Proprio and the Summarum Pontificum.
A kind reader sent a link to an article in the Bismarck Tribune about how His Excellency Most Reverend Paul Zipfel, Bishop of Bismarck, approaches the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. Let’s dig into the article, with a few caveats.
My emphases and comments.
Tridentine Mass raises queries
By KAREN HERZOG
Responding to the July apostolic letter by Pope Benedict XVI that will allow a wider celebration of the so-called [This indicates a sensitivity to the issues of what it is called.] Tridentine Mass – done according to the pre-Vatican II liturgy – Bishop Paul Zipfel of the Bismarck Catholic Diocese took a brief survey when he met in conference with the diocese’s priests a few weeks back. [hmmm… interesting approach]
Would any be interested or able to conduct this Mass in Latin?
A number expressed interest, "actually more of the young guys," Zipfel said. [No surprise there at all. I have been saying for weeks that it will be the young prriests who get interested in this older form of Mass and, once they learn it, it will influence how they say the newer Mass.]
Many have taken some Latin, but most not too much, he said. This would mean that those who are interested would have to do some preparation – something that can’t be done in a day or two, he said. [You can learn the pronounce Latin in a couple days.]
Bishops across the country have discussed making some arrangements for their priests to have training workshops, Zipfel said, [Interesting.] but nothing has been finalized so far.
In this diocese, the Rev. Tom Dignan, a retired priest, always has been interested in the Latin, or what is now called the extraordinary rite, [pretty close] Zipfel said. Dignan told the bishop that it took him about two weeks to become familiar enough with the Latin to conduct it without stumbling.
Regarding the Society of St. Pius X, the group that has been urging the return of the Tridentine Mass, "the Holy Father is hoping it will draw them a little closer" in their relationship to the larger church, Zipfel said.
However, Zipfel said that the society’s differences with the Vatican are larger than the return of the Latin Mass, [and he is exactly right] and include disagreements about many of the actions of the Second Vatican Council.
"The Holy Father is smarter than I am, and he has good reason for what he’s doing," Zipfel said. [OH MY! This is a remarkable comment to make to the press. I admire this very much. He simply places himself on the same page with the Holy Father without all the posturing and pretense of many of his brother bishops.]
Within the Bismarck Diocese, Zipfel said that he did receive a letter, with no return address, signed by about a dozen people, presumably from the northern part of the diocese, requesting the Tridentine Mass.
Under the pope’s decision, any parish priest may conduct the pre-Vatican II Mass for those who want it, with the proviso that it would be no more than one Mass on a Sunday.
However, if the priest feels he can’t do this, or has questions, then he comes to his bishop, Zipfel said.
The bishop will attend a series of "Celebrating Church" events around the diocese, in which he discusses the history of the Mass and the pope’s letter in detail and answers questions from parishioners. [Excellent idea!]
The first one was conducted Monday at St. Hildegard’s Church in Menoken. Zipfel said people there were interested in what effect the pope’s decision would have on the diocese’s relationship with St. Michael’s Church in Mandan, which has its Masses conducted by a priest from the St. Pius X Society.
The bishop’s response is that the relationship remains unchanged – Masses at St. Michael’s are considered "valid but not licit" and Catholics are not permitted to attend it. [Well… there may be some conditions under which they can, but this is correct in substance.]
There is some curiosity about the Latin Mass from those attending, some of whom said they just wanted to see it one time, he said.
"I would hope we would have something available,"he said. "It has to be the people, a group, that wants this. They have to come forward."
Even if a priest were to conduct the Latin Mass somewhere in the diocese, the long distances would mean travel could be difficult for those from farther away, he said. [This is a huge factor in a place like North Dakota.]
Zipfel said he hopes that people will understand that the church considers this one liturgy with two expressions: "We’re not working against each other. We’re not in competition." [YES! This is very good. This is Rule #1: 1) Rejoice because our liturgical life has been enriched, not because "we win". Everyone wins when the Church’s life is enriched. This is not a "zero sum game".]
I applaud Bishop Zipfel. I like the idea of the bishops having workshops and meetings in different places.
What Does the Prayer Really Say - Bismarck Tribune
According to the World Christian Database there are approximately
23 million "secret" Christians in India, that is Indians of either Hindu or Muslim background who baptized and active in Christian communities but have not changed their "official" religious status because of the economic consequences. In addition, there are also
25 million Independent/Apostolic Christians,
19.2 million Protestants,
19.8 million Catholics,
3 million Orthodox(obviously, I've rounded off the figures)
total: 65 million Christians or approximately 6% of the total Indian population.
A small percentage but three times the figure (2%) commonly quoted.
In addition, there is an even more surprising development: What are known as
NBBC's: Non-Baptized Believers in Christ. David Barrett, editor of the World Christian Encyclopedia, estimates that there are 15 million NBBC's in the Hindu and Muslim worlds - usually for reasons of persecution.
Personal faith in Christ of some kind without access to baptism. Of course, NBBC's have always existed through Christian history but globalization is ensuring that their number is becoming ever larger. Imagine: fifteen million underground catechumens.
Pray for them and for the secret Christians of India as they seek Christ(because he first sought them!)in a very difficult time and place. Intentional Disciples
Most of these Indian Christians come from what Hindus used to term the "Untouchable" caste, now called the more politically correct term, Dalit. Indians like to refer to their country as the "world's largest democracy." But that is a fraud. For India, that has a population of 1.1 billion, only 60% literate, has upwards of 150 million of its people being Dalit, and thus disenfranchised, especially in rural aras.
Gashwin Gomes, a Catholic blogger at Maior autem his est caritas, has a good post with lots of links on this subject including a recent Wall Street Journal article.
Thanks to Georgette, who still is there in Hyderabad, but sadly, now blog-less, formerly of Chronicle of a Meandering Traveller. Actually, it is not quite true that she is blogless; while she no longer posts, her wonderful posts on St Francis Xavier (an apostle to India), on her life in India, and the Catholic view of ghosts, thanks to Google and other search engines, keep up a steady stream of visitors to her site.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
How's your supply of coffee? Ready for some "Mystic Monk" Carmelite Coffee with a Minnesota Provenance?
Father Daniel founded the community on October 15, 2003, when Bishop David Ricken of Cheyenne sealed their enclosure. For Father Daniel, it was a homecoming: His father, rancher Jerry Schneider, runs the Mt. Carmel Youth Ranch four miles up the road. The youth ranch, like the monastery, is starting to gain a national reputation. Parents who want help with troubled youngsters send them to Schneider.
P.O. Box 2747
Cody, WY 82414-2747
Deal Hudson, The Window
Buffalo Bill Cody, who achieved world-wide fame with his wild west show, staffed with cowboys, Indians (including Sitting Bull), buffalo, horses, etc.) lived for a time in Duluth with his sister who ran a newspaper in the 1890s. You may have noted "Cody Street" as you drove down Thompson Hill on I-35 into Duluth. Buffalo Bill was lured away from Duluth by land speculators in Wyoming who gave him tons of land to leave the "Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas" and founded the city of Cody, Wyoming.
Elderly hippie, Joni Mitchell is back out of retirement after nine years, and she’s on the attack. In the title track to her new album, “Shine,” Mitchell takes a nice swipe at the Catholic Church by name.
“Shine on the Catholic Church/And the prisons that it owns,” she sings. “Shine on all the Churches/that love less and less.”
Mitchell was never one to mince words, but in her triumphant return on Starbucks’ Hear Records, she doesn’t give an inch.
In “Shine,” she continues: “Shine on lousy leadership/Licensed to kill/Shine on dying soldiers/In patriotic pain/Shine on mass destruction/In some God's name!”
Mitchell’s album will be something of a revelation to young people who might buy it at Starbucks when it’s released Tuesday if they listen to it and read the lyrics. [....Snip] Huffington Post
For those of you interested, the attached link will take you to Starbucks feedback line for their Hear Music program of which Mitchell's album is a part: Starbucks Hear Music Comments and questions
The event features Father Robert Altier speaking on "Combating the Culture of Death by Building a Civilization of Love". Furthermore, the Arthur A. Herkenhoff award ceremony will take place during the event.
The cost is $18/person.
FFI: 952-882-6704 or email@example.com
Because many members of Rosary for Truth will be attending the Mass of the Archangels event at Saint Michael's Church in Saint Michael, Minnesota (I'll be there!), The Rosary for Truth will be meeting at the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel of Saint Michael's Church at 3:30, immediately following the Divine Mercy Chaplet, to leave for the Rosary for Truth Mission at St. Frances Cabrini Church in Minneapolis.
If not attending the Mass of the Archangels at St. Michael's, please feel free to meet up with us at St. Frances Cabrini Church in Minneapolis whenever you can make it.
Sept. 29 (Saturday) 5:00 p.m.
St. Frances Cabrini
Rosary at 4:35 p.m
1500 Franklin Ave SE , Mpls
Rosary for Truth
Schedule for October, 2007
Oct. 6 (Saturday) 4:30 p.m.
St. Thomas the Apostle
Rosary at 4:05 p.m.
2914 West 44th Street, Mpls, 55410
Oct. 13 (Saturday) 5:00 p.m.
Church of Christ the King
Rosary at 4:35 p.m.
5029 Zenith Ave. S, Mpls, 55410
Oct. 20 (Saturday) 5:00 p.m.
St. Frances Cabrini
Rosary at 4:35 a.m
1500 Franklin Ave SE, Mpls
Oct. 27 (Saturday) 4:30 p.m.
St. Thomas the Apostle
Rosary at 4:05 p.m.
2914 West 44th Street, Mpls, 55410
If you sense the Spirit of God prodding you then please join with us. Please carry your Rosary exposed so we can identify one another and sit together if you wish.
Arrive 30 minutes before Mass is scheduled to begin.
My testimony on Rosary for Truth's effectiveness is in a prior post
Cross posted to Recovering Dissident Catholic blog
Monday, September 24, 2007
Some homeless Minneapolis residents are walking in the pope's shoes.
That's after two big boxes from Rome arrived at Sharing and Caring Hands, a homeless mission in downtown Minneapolis. Recently, the Rev. Joseph Johnson, the rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul gave some friends from the Vatican a tour of the facility while they were visiting the Twin Cities.
Sharing and Caring Hands has an on-site shoe room, but director Mary Jo Copeland didn't know what was in the big boxes when they arrived.
"Father (Johnson) says, 'That's from the Pope.' I said, What do you mean? The Pope," said Copeland.
She opened them to find several dozen pairs of handmade Italian shoes to give to the poor.
"These are just grand! This is just the best gift. That Pope Benedict, wherever you are, God bless you!" said Copeland.
Johnson said Benedict got the shoes from an Italian shoemaker who asked that they be distributed to the poor.
Tasha Allen, who received a pair of the shoes, said, "It's a blessing for everybody. All the kids love them. The parents love them, too. I just can't stop smiling. Thank you pope."
For herself, Copeland received a note from the Vatican and a picture of the pope.
"That was very nice because now the pope is praying for me," she said. "I know I'll keep going," said Copeland. StarTribune
With song, ceremony and spirit, members of the Catholic Diocese of Superior welcomed their 10th bishop, Peter F. Christensen, on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s an honor,” said Virginia Zyla from St. Isaac Jogues and Companions Church in Mercer, Wis., who attended the installation ceremony. “I cried.”
Christensen, 54, takes the mantle from retiring Bishop Raphael M. Fliss, who has been with the Superior Diocese for 28 years. The new bishop’s first words to the gathered parishioners, “It’s good to be here,” were met with thunderous applause.
|The Rev. Peter F. Christensen approaches the front entrance of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior on Sunday before his installation as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Superior. (Derek Montgomery / News Tribune)|
Christensen told the audience his working mission statement is: “Show particular affection to all priests and deacons,” and to all the faithful.
“I will stand with you to build strong families in faith,” he said.
The installation marks a new beginning.
“For almost two years, we have waited, hoped, prayed in earnest and speculated with abandon as to my successor,” Fliss told the gathered crowd.
In his final act as bishop, Fliss entrusted the diocese to Christensen.
“I trust you will be as inspired by their lives and enriched by their commitment as I have been,” Fliss said.
Christensen comes to Superior with 22 years of pastoral experience, most recently as pastor of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in St. Paul. Three months ago, he got a call from Rome asking him to become bishop. He recalled he was struck speechless, and the pope’s spokesperson had to ask if it was the right church.
“It’s been a tremendous experience for the whole family,” said Christensen’s nephew, David Johnson. He said he remembers watching his uncle’s ordination 22 years ago.
Johnson said the move to bishop has “been shocking, but very humbling” for his uncle. But, he said, Christensen is “very, very solid in his faith.”
Gene McGillis has seen four bishops installed in Superior.
“Every one was different,” said the former Superior resident who now splits his time between Lake Nebagamon and Florida. He said with Christensen’s background as a pastor, he should be a very down-to-earth, pastoral leader.
“He seemed very kind, easy to talk to,” said Tim Kuehn, deacon for St. Anthony’s in Superior, who met Christensen once. “A servant-leader, that was my impression.”
Johnson said his uncle is also very diplomatic: “He deals with conflict well.”
One thing the new bishop showed Sunday is a sense of humor. As the pomp and ceremony unfolded, his hat slipped off his lap once; he forgot to reach for the crosier at the end of the event; and twice he was forced to turn down his screeching microphone.
“This is all new to me,” he said with a smile just before the final processional.
The installation included pomp and ceremony — from a colorful Knights of Columbus honor guard and American Indian dancers, to the Mass itself with dozens of priests and bishops attending. It also included dedication.
“I’m on the journey with you,” Christensen said. “I look forward to years ahead.” Duluth NewsTribune
Bishop Peter Christensen kneels under the Book of the Gospels
during his ordination Mass Sept. 14 at the Cathedral of St. Paul.
This action, part of the ordination rite from the earliest centuries,
expresses the power of the Word of God over us.
Nary a seat was left in the Cathedral of St. Paul Sept. 14 as the procession of priests and bishops headed toward the altar for the ordination Mass of Father Peter Christensen as bishop of Superior, Wis.
The 3,000-seat church was filled with family, friends and soon-to-be members of his flock in Wisconsin.
Andrew and Deborah Percic and their daughter, Madeline, 5, were among hundreds of families that rated a spot in the reserved seating area for parishioners and students of Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul, where Bishop Christensen had served as pastor for the last eight years before receiving his new appointment from Pope Benedict XVI June 28.
The Percics, who also are members of St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony, said after the ordination that the Nativity pastor was always warm and welcoming.
"I'm amazed at how he's so present," Andrew Percic said.
"There are lots of fine priests, but he is like a shepherd," said Deborah Percic, who teaches theology at the University of St. Thomas. The bishop served as rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary on the university campus for seven years.
"He loves the church and he loves his job and he loves his people. . . . I think Bishop Christensen, his norm is love," she said.
Judy Bullard drove to St. Paul from Weyerhauser, Wis., with a retired priest, and a mother and her young son. They arrived shortly after noon and secured a coveted seat near the front of the cathedral, she said on the shuttle bus from the church to the bishop's reception in St. Paul.
"The time flew by," Bullard said. "It didn't seem like two-and-a-half hours (the length of the ceremony)."
Words of wisdom
Archbishop Harry Flynn served as the presider and principal consecrator, with Bishop Raphael Fliss, retired bishop of Superior, and Bishop William Bullock, retired bishop of Madison, Wis.
Bishop Bullock, a former auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was the priest who "brought to a head the full vocational calling to become a priest" for Bishop Christensen when the new bishop moved to Minnesota from his native California.
During the ordination Mass homily, Archbishop Flynn urged the people and priests of Superior to "revere him as a minister of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God. He has been entrusted with the task of bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel and with the ministry and spirit of justice. Remember the words: 'Where the bishop is, there is Christ.'"
He told Bishop Christensen: "A bishop should strive to benefit others rather than lord it over them. He does it by listening and listening and listening. Such is the priesthood of the master. The greater is made as the least, and the ruler is the servant."
He went on to say, "You have done this so beautifully as rector and you have done this so beautifully as pastor. And now you must do this, par excellence, as bishop. . . . As one chosen by the father to rule over his family, be mindful, always of the Good Shepherd."
Bishop Christensen, the longtime good shepherd of Nativity parish, first extended his thanks to the children of Nativity. They are the future of the church, he said, and they prayed for the last-minute arrival from overseas of his crosier for the ordination.
The crosier is a shepherd's staff that signifies the responsibility of the bishop to offer his life for his flock. It was a gift from his Nativity parishioners.
The miter - a tall, pointed ceremonial cap - he wore was a gift from Nativity liturgist Jan Berens and her husband, Bill Berens.
His pectoral cross is a gift from his godparents, Phil and Colleen Kirst. The cross is modeled after the Celtic cross that is on his rosary. He said it reminds him of his Irish heritage and the power of Christ's cross.
The ring he now wears is a gift from his family. It is a symbol that he always be faithful to the promises of love and obedience that he made to God and "all his holy people."
That love, obedience and patience were extended by the newly-ordained bishop and the many people who waited in the winding reception line at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Paul.
As he stood for hours greeting the well-wishers, a slide show displayed the many faces of Bishop Christensen and his family.
"Peter put together the slide show," said Bibs (Mary) Reville, one of the bishop's three aunts, who are sisters of his late mother, Ann (Forsyth) Christensen. "He is so gifted."
Bishop Christensen is a talented potter, painter and gardener, who designed his crosier, pectoral cross and coat of arms.
Reville said their mother had always thought it would be nice if one of the four girls would become a nun, but none of them did.
"So, all I could think of was that Mother and Daddy and everybody is up there rejoicing," she said, adding that she was certain that her sister was with Bishop Christensen in the reception room.
Joan Harmon, the oldest of the sisters, said that her nephew recently traveled to New Brunswick, Canada, to preside at the marriage of her granddaughter and baptize her son's twin babies. "He said his first Mass with his bishop's cap there," she added.
As family pictures kept appearing on the wall, Harmon pointed out the bishop's parents, Ann and Robert Christensen, and the impish child, now grown, who once was on the cover of Wisdom magazine. Catholic Spirit
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Dr. Robert Christensen of Colorado and his son, Bishop Peter F. Christensen, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Paul, Minn., during the luncheon preceding the ordination stand before a statue of an eagle in flight. It bears the inscription, "One in a Million." The elder Christensen built it for his son because there is "approximately one bishop for every one million" in the United States. The machine which created this work of art is also used by Christensen in his companies, TMJ Implants and Design Dynamics Internation, Inc., to assist oral surgeons involved in temporomandibular joint reconstructions.
(Catholic Herald photo by A.M. Kelley)
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In accordance with a decree handed down from Pope Benedict XVI, Peter F. Christensen became the 10th bishop of the Superior Diocese on Sept. 14.
It was a grand event in an awe-inspiring Renaissance setting: the Cathedral of Saint Paul.
The bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians who came to witness the ordination of the pastor of the Nativity of Our Lord processed to the altar accompanied by St. Paul's splendid choirs and brass band flourishes.
A luncheon and then a reception for many hundreds of people were hosted at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Paul before and after the ordination. But in spite of the embellished surroundings and the solemnity of the occasion, the event was nothing if not a family affair, indeed a big extended family affair.
Christensen's relatives from all over the country were there as were Nativity parishioners who turned out en masse exuding happiness for their pastor and expressing a reluctance to say goodbye.
Before the ordination the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis hosted a luncheon for 700 at the hotel. Archbishop Harry Flynn mingled with visiting bishops, priests, well-wishers and Christensen family members. Nativity parishioner Gerry Moquin said something heard repeatedly throughout the day: "(The Superior Diocese) is getting a marvelous bishop. Fr. Peter--he's a good man."
Looking around at the dignitaries, Moquin objected when she realized her words were being noted.
"But I'm just an ordinary person," she said. "I'm just a parishioner. That's all I am."
This also seemed to be a recurring theme. Ordinary people defined the day.
From the nearly 100 volunteers recruited by Sr. Fran Donnelly, BVM, of the archdiocesan center for ministry, who seamlessly registered and guided the throng onto shuttle buses to and from the cathedral, to the students from the Nativity of Our Lord School who greeted and handed out programs at all the cathedral doors, to the new bishop himself, it was a day in which ordinary people seemed to feel as if they played some part.
Christensen had had a goodbye Mass with the students earlier in the week. The ordinand was their "Fr. Peter."
Shelby Robinson and Laura Hamilton, both 13 and both eighth graders, were two of these students. They said Christensen had explained the upcoming ceremony to them and the symbols that are part of a bishop's office: the ring, crosier, miter and pectoral cross.
Two other greeters, Shane Hennessey and Tommy Johnson, besides being students were also Christensen's altar servers at Nativity.
"Fr. Peter is just a really humble guy," Hennessey said. "And he's always there for you."
Later during the ceremony, Christensen acknowledged his Nativity students for greeting, ringing hand bells and also for the delivery of his custom-made crozier. It had been delayed and didn't come in until "8:30 this morning," he said. "Thanks for your prayers," he told them.
Michael Silhavy, the director of music for the archdiocese, said he started planning the music for the ordination with Christensen only a month ago and it has a very personal touch.
"He designed the cover of the worship guide," Silhavy said, "and he chose all the music."
It was a cross section of traditional chants and contemporary compositions. Among the selections were pieces by Michael Joncas, a teacher in the theology department at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul; James Biery, the music director at the cathedral; John Becker; David Haas; and John Becker.
"(Christensen) loves liturgy and music," Silhavy said. "I think it was fun for Bishop Peter to chose things that are nationally known but come from the parishes of this diocese. We're proud of the composers in this diocese."
Another ordinary person who had a large role to play in the day was Tom Kohler, the head maintenance man at the cathedral who's been on the job for 35 years. He said he expected about 2,500 to 2,800 people for the ordination and was as excited as anyone.
"It's an amazing place," he said. "Even after all of these years."
Brian McDonnell and his mother, Margaret McDonell, both parishioners from Nativity, attended the ordination. They said they had learned a lot from their pastor.
Brian said Christensen taught him to "put yourself into the Gospels, live the Gospels."
"We're happy and proud of him," he said. "He's a builder and a healer."
Affirming words were heard all day long.
Flynn said he was sending Christensen off to a "beautiful diocese," and Christensen talked about Jesus' first miracle at Cana, "a miracle of joy."
And during the sacred rite no one seemed to mind as the children from Nativity, seating themselves off to one side and in the rear of the cathedral, stood on the pews, their eyes fixed on their pastor as he assumed his new role.
Superior Catholic Herald
Tune in Here 4:00 p.m. CDT, Sunday, September 23
This was posted by canon lawyer, Dr. Edward Peters, who blogs at In the Light of the Law, on September 10. I was ill at the time and never got around to posting it.
One of America's sharpest canon lawyer bishops (Abp. Raymond Burke of St. Louis), has just published a terrific article in perhaps the world's most prestigious canon law journal (Periodica de re Canonica in Rome), on a topic of vital interest to the Church in the world (the correct application of Canon 915 on denial of Holy Communion). Best of all, it's available on-line here.
Like I say, it's just too cool.
Back in 2004, Abp. Burke was one of handful of bishops who understood and enforced Canon 915 against certain pro-abortion Catholic politicians who were attempting to receive Holy Communion despite their patent non-compliance with Church discipline. He suffered more than his share of slings and arrows over the months that followed, including some tsk-tsks from certain folks who really should have thought twice before putting their canonical acumen up against Burke's. In any case his article, "Canon 915: The discipline regarding the denial of Holy Communion to those obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin" Periodica 96 (2007) 3-58, demonstrates just how much law and sound pastoral theology Burke had, and has, behind him.
Periodica does not publish articles for beginners and Burke assumes that his audience knows, e.g., what the Decree of Gratian and the Decretals of Gregory are, and why Eastern canon law and the Pio-Benedictine Code are important for contemporary Roman canonical analysis. But even if you don't know these things, you can still read Burke's article with profit; it only means taking my word for it that arguments built on such foundations are very important and lend mighty support to the position Burke took with regard to recalcitrant politicians. Which they do.
Some of my favorite points? Burke's obvious understanding of the importance of legal history, his demolishing of the confusion in some minds that Canons 915 and 916 are just two ways of saying the same thing (not!), and his underscoring the fact that the scandal of unworthy reception can be assessed objectively, not just subjectively.
Oh, how I wish someone would give a prize for "Most Important Canonical Article Published in a Peer-Reviewed Journal". I know what I would nominate for 2007.
posted by Dr. Edward Peters at This Permanent Link
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I'm not sure exactly how it works, but there is a website, The Truth Laid Bear, that does a pretty good job of ranking the top 5,000 blogs in terms of the number of daily "hits" and in terms of the number of websites that link to them.
Here are, more or less, the top Catholic blogs in that list of 5,000.
|Daily||1 - 5000|
|Amy Welborn||Open Book|
|Stop the ACLU||3553||662|
|Gerald||Cafeteria is Closed||3372||695|
|Jeff Miller||Curt Jester||1983||993|
|Mark Shea||Catholic and Enjoying It||1967||999|
|Dawn Eden||Dawn Patrol||1378||1250|
|Roman Catholic by Choice||901||1740|
|Thomas Peters||American Papist||801||1884|
|Notre Dame||Shrine of the Holy Whapping||776||1942|
|Greg Kandra||The Deacon's Bench||655||2247|
|Acton Institute Power Blog||364||3479|
|Kansas City Catholic||351||3556|
|Fr. Fox||Bonfire of the Vanities||334||3694|
|Te Deum Laudamus||306||3934|
|Against the Grain||280||4186|
|Lair of the Catholic Caveman||278||4217|
|Fr. Stephanos||Me Monk; Me Meander||276||4233|
|Family||Holy Family School (Okla)||272||4286|
|Fr. Stephanos||One Monk of the O.S.B.||264||4375|
|My Catholic Links||264||4385|
|Fr. Stephanos||A History of One Monk||264||4386|
|Two Priests||Catholic Fire||219||4925|
|Two Priests||Catholic Ragemonkey||215||4977|
Five at our own St John Vianney Seminary in St Paul (four started this Fall after the article was written).
National Catholic Register ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Occasionally, one hears of a parish that has a man in seminary — but 15 from one parish?
Priestly and religious vocations have become commonplace at Christ the King in Ann Arbor, Mich., since its inception 25 years ago. Father Ed Fride, pastor, estimated that 15-20 men from the parish have become priests — men who either grew up in the parish, became members while attending the University of Michigan, or who were affiliated with the church when they discerned their call.
Six of 23 seminarians this year studying for the Diocese of Lansing, Mich., were from Christ the King. Of the other five seminarians from the parish, two are in the neighboring diocese of Saginaw, Mich., one in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and two in religious orders.
Christ the King also is the home of the 15 sisters who make up the Servants of God’s Love, half of whom came from the parish. Six other women from Christ the King have joined religious life in the past five years, two with the Servants of God’s Love, and four with other orders. The parish also has five permanent deacons, three candidates and several more in formation.
Why such a number of vocations from a parish of 830 families? Father Fride has his theories. “The spirituality of the parish, in which a personal relationship with Jesus is continually stressed, is key,” he said. “We began as, and still are, part of the charismatic renewal, again where a living, active relationship with Jesus is encouraged.
“In addition, since beginning perpetual adoration five years ago when we finished our church building, almost all of the present seminarians, and those to begin this fall, have heard the call to seminary,” Father Fride said. “Jesus has a plan for everyone, whether to marriage, religious life or celibacy, and I address that, but it is proximity to the Lord Jesus during adoration that helps people hear the call.
“Also, we can’t overlook the influence of John Paul the Great,” he continued. “We constantly reference him, his teachings and the example of his life. He was the only pope that these kids knew, and they want to be like him. They want to participate in the New Evangelization, and becoming a priest is a great way to do that.
Said Father Fride: “When you preach orthodoxy, the Eucharist and the centrality of Jesus, vocations result. It seems natural to me to have so many young people who love Jesus and want to serve him become priests. I’m surprised there aren’t more vocations, both here and elsewhere.”
Christine Brinkman, whose son, Andrew, is at St. John Vianney in St. Paul, Minn., notes that Father Fride’s love for the priesthood, along with that of other young priests Andrew met, especially at World Youth Day in Toronto, was influential in his decision to go to seminary. “At one point, he was avoiding seminary, but joyful priests impacted him,” she said. [....Snip]
An encounter with Christ during a Eucharistic procession led to Mark Rutherford’s decision to enter seminary.
“The priesthood was the farthest thing from my mind until then,” he said, “but that encounter allowed me to hear his call.”
Rutherford, beginning his third year at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, is one of 11 men studying for the priesthood from Christ the King Church. Four more are scheduled to enter college seminary at St. John Vianney this fall.
From his experience as rector at St. John Vianney, Father Bill Baer contends that vocations tend to come from two sources: Christian families that take the faith seriously, and youth who have had their faith renewed in high school, often through World Youth Day, Eucharistic adoration or the Life Teen program.
“Christ the King has both,” he says. “The seminarians from there are a tremendous bunch, a fine combination of Christian character development and excitement.”
Another close observer is Father Jerry Vincke, director of seminarians for the Lansing Diocese. He said that “even if only a small percentage of seminarians from Christ the King were to be ordained, it’s beautiful to see a parish that is open to God’s will and the leading of the Holy Spirit. That openness is what is needed for any calling in life.”
Jim Rolph is an example. He was beginning his senior year at the local Catholic high school, attending the weekly school Mass, when he felt God saying to him, that, like the priest, “I want you to bring the sacraments to my people.” Rolph has now finished his first year at St. John Vianney.
He said that “the parish’s involvement in the charismatic renewal helps foster a love for the Eucharist, which leads to vocations.”
Fellow seminarian Mark Rutherford added that “many people who attend or visit Christ the King say that the parish is unique, abnormal. But it shouldn’t be. Men and women who come to know Jesus desire to be partners with him. That partnership is often expressed in a vocation.”
Father John Zuhlsdorf, "Father Z", of the W.D.T.P.R.S. blog based in Rome (and a secret hideaway in cheesehead country), has presented us with an interview with Father John Paul Echert, pastor of the Archdiocesan Tridentine indult parish in South St Paul, MN, discussing the changes brought about by Pope Benedict's Moto Proprio proclamation, Summarum Pontificum, granting priests more rights to say the Latin Mass of the Extraordinary Usage, as it was said prior to the Second Vatican Council.
"Father Crash", recovering from a motorcycle accident, did not waste any time in expanding his celebrations of the Latin Mass and explains here his thinking about this dramatic change in priests rights and responsibilities. Father is also a chaplain and a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and a veteran of two recent tours in the Middle East.
He also has one of the best adult education programs in the Archdiocese which includes the Argument of the Month Club, a men only monthly gathering where the Church's and the world's problems are solved, sometimes quite boisterously.
The Remnant is a Catholic newspaper with an editorial position that firmly states that readers of The Wanderer are way, way too liberal.
The traditionalist newspaper The Remnant interviewed by good friend Fr. John Echert, pastor of St. Augustine’s in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. St. Augustine was the single parish in that Archdiocese where people could find approved celebrations of the traditional, the extraordinary, the classical, the older form of Holy Mass.
Fr. Echert, a friend of many years, is a fine fellow and usually holds no punches when he speaks. Let’s see what he had to say to The Remnant.
My emphases and comments.
You can nearly hear the jubiliation bounce out of the words of this interview. At the same time, while "modernists" take it in the chin (justly), it doesn’t degenerate into cheap shots.
Interviewed by Michael J. Matt
Editor, The Remnant
Mass at Holy Trinity since 1969
Editor’s Note: We are very pleased to present the following interview of Father John Echert— pastor of the Church of St. Augustine (site of the Indult Mass here in St. Paul/Minneapolis since 1984) and the Church of the Holy Trinity (So. St. Paul). Ever since Pope Benedict XVI released his historic motu proprio in July of this year, we have maintained that not only the prayers of traditional Catholic laypeople have been answered, but also those of countless tradition-minded priests within the diocesan structure of the Church. It is also our contention that a seismic shift in the direction of Tradition is taking place. [Another good image.] As persecution of the Church throughout the world becomes imminent, [hmmmm] it shouldn’t surprise any Catholic that God in His mercy would allow this dramatic restoration of the Old Mass (even on a daily basis) as part of the process by which we might all strengthen our resolve and prepare our souls for whatever eventuality may be in the offing. Fr. Echert’s courageous compliance with the wishes of the Holy Father is well worth considering and perhaps could be seen as a model for other diocesan priests trying to return to Tradition during these turbulent days in the life of the Church. MJM
Michael Matt: Can you give us some background on your priestly career thus far, i.e., your areas of expertise and maybe a word or two on the apostolates you’ve served?
Fr. John Echert: I was ordained twenty years ago, though my awareness of a vocation to the priesthood goes back about forty-five years (I just turned fifty).
Even as a little boy I knew that I wanted to be a priest, and expressed that dream to my parents and any priest who would listen. Without doubt my vocational awareness was awakened by the traditional form of the Mass, even at that young age. My parents were in the church choir and I have lasting memories of the beautiful music, the smell of incense, and the graceful movements of the priest in the sanctuary. Were it not for those early experiences which occasioned a very strong desire in me to be a priest, I do not know that I would have found sufficient inspiration in subsequent years.
As for my assignments as a priest: after having served three years in a large suburban parish, I was sent away for studies in Sacred Scripture to the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem, after which I spent a dozen years teaching in my field at the local major seminary and Catholic university. During this period I also served as a Catholic Chaplain in the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard, and was twice deployed to desert locations in connection with the War in Iraq. Five years ago I began assisting at the local Indult Parish, and a bit over two years ago I was assigned as pastor of two parishes, one of which is that same Indult Parish at which I had assisted.
MJM: So, how is life these days for a tradition-minded priest serving in the military chaplaincy?
Fr. Echert: I have been connected with the military since 1975, at which time I enlisted in the Air Force right out of high school. Years later I received a commission as a Catholic Chaplain. With regard to the issue of serving as a priest in the military, it is not without its complexities. When we are serving our own religious communities we have full freedom to operate as we would with any civilian congregation or individual. But when we function within the context of the broader military community, there are limitations.
Recently, as a response to a Protestant Chaplain who was too evangelical with troops, the military curtailed many aspects of our public function as chaplains. This actually seems preferable to having the troops exposed to evangelization by non-Catholic chaplains and to requiring Catholic chaplains to dumb-down their invocations to the lowest common religious denominator—which is now quite low, given the plurality of religions and chaplains in the military.
The military follows the principle of “religious liberty”: one has the right to any religion, but no religion is favored or excluded—unfortunately! Once in Kuwait I had a Satanist request to use the chapel altar, and in Qatar I had Wickens request religious support. In both cases I did not accommodate them but these are examples of “religious liberty” at its worst. Still, at least one fourth of our military troops identify themselves as Roman Catholics on their dog tags (whether or not they attend Mass), and we represent the largest single religious group. Let me add that with regard to the present situation in Iraq, over time I have reconsidered my position on the war and its aftermath; still, my months of priestly ministry to the troops there were rewarding. As they say, “there are no atheists in foxholes”—or behind sand dunes.
MJM: So, some years ago you began offering the Traditional Mass. Why?
Fr. Echert: I began offering the traditional form of the Mass about five years ago, at a time when there was a need for a priest to assume primary responsibility for the weekly Indult Mass. I had the advantage of college Latin studies and so my language skills were functional. I was encouraged by close traditional friends to learn the Mass and request permission from the local bishop to say the Mass at the Indult parish.
I learned the Mass through videos, attending the Tridentine Mass itself, and with the assistance of a priest friend who was steeped in tradition. For weeks I offered the Mass in private and, once comfortable and after approval, I began offering the weekly Indult Mass. [See, folks. It just isn’t a huge mystery. You study a little, get a little help from resources and people and then… JUST DO IT. It is not rocket science.] Beyond my love for the traditional language and form of the Mass, I was also becoming more familiar with aspects of traditional thinking, through books and publications (to include The Remnant) and conversations with tradition-minded Catholics.
MJM: In the first sermon you preached after July 7, 2007, you said something that hadn’t, to my knowledge, been considered before: You said it is well within the spirit of Pope Benedict’s motu proprio for a priest to actually initiate with his parishioners the discussion of the benefits of restoring the old Mass. Can you explain? [I agree.]
Fr. Echert: The Holy Spirit works in many ways and through the instrumentality of human beings. If we are called to evangelize the nations with regard to Christ and the Church, it is also legitimate—and imperative, may we say—to evangelize with regard to tradition, including the traditional form of the Mass. [A good way to put it.] In other words, instead of waiting for the Holy Spirit to whisper to the souls of the faithful or for someone to stumble into the world of tradition, should not traditional parish priests be inclined to introduce the souls entrusted to them to the traditional form of the Mass? It seems to me that the allowance of the Holy Father that any priest can privately offer the traditional Mass without restriction, at which the faithful may be present, suggests this as support for this view and even a means to accomplish this end of the evangelization of tradition. [Reasonable approach.]
MJM: You recently restored weekday Masses according to the Traditional Rite both in your Indult parish [Not "indult" any more! Hurray!] as well as in the other parish (non-traditionalist!) you serve as pastor (thus providing Catholics with daily access to the Traditional Mass). Can you tell me why you took this dramatic step [normal step, to me] in accord with the MP?
Fr. Echert: The past model for the now defunct Indult system [right] often became the means to contain, control and restrict the traditional Mass and Sacraments—the “leper colony” approach. [I think I prefer the "nutty aunt locked in the attic" image.] The new model allows for an expansion of the traditional Mass and Sacraments to any parish or community which desires it, with minimal restrictions (faithful who request it and a priest capable of offering it). While I could have continued with the old model and scheduled all additional traditional Masses at the former Indult parish, I didn’t do that because I see a positive value in introducing this venerable form of the Mass into my other parish as well, with the consequence that more Catholics will have contact with and access to the Tridentine Mass. Again, it is a method of the evangelization of tradition.
Thus, I used the following strategy: [PRIESTS: pay attention] in the former Indult parish, I changed some weekday Masses to Tridentine; but in the other parish, I also added some Tridentine Masses to the existing schedule. In both cases, I have heard very few complaints from those accustomed to English Masses only—many of whom are now attending both forms of the Mass and learning more about tradition every day. I suspect that Pope Benedict XVI sees value in having the Novus Ordo and the Tridentine forms of the Mass side-by-side in parishes in order that contact with the traditional Mass by the faithful will eventually lead to a reform of the Mass of Paul VI or a complete return to the traditional form. [He is correct, of course. This is the "gravitational pull" I talk about. It is all part of Pope Benedict’s "Marshall Plan" to rebuild the Church’s identity from within.]
MJM: Communion rails are reportedly being reinstalled and table altars permanently removed from some churches that now offer the old Mass around the world (most recently, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin designated St. Kevin’s church in Dublin as a chaplaincy where Mass will be celebrated regularly using the 1962 Missal, and the priest in Dublin is now permanently restoring the interior of the church building to accommodate the Traditional Mass.) What are your thoughts on this development and how do you account for such a strong desire among priests to implement Benedict’s MP that they’d voluntarily renovate their sanctuaries to facilitate this initiative?
Fr. Echert: In my own parishes, this is being accomplished even now. In the former Indult parish we have eliminated the free-standing altar completely, even for the Novus Ordo Masses. By the grace of God and with many words, my Parish Council (with only one traditionalist among the dozen members) was recently persuaded of the value of this change. [This is quite an accomplishment.] Many parishioners who attend only English Masses urged me to eliminate the free-standing altar, and several guest priests who have assisted us at the English Masses later told me that saying the Mass ad orientem was a most reverent experience for them. [You see? "Gravitational pull". This is how it is done. Bit by bit. Patiently. "Brick by brick, my citizens."] In my other parish, which has only now been introduced to the Tridentine Mass, we are presently soliciting funds to restore the Communion Rail that was discarded decades ago. Again, even from among those who are only familiar with English Masses, there are many who support this restoration plan. [Priest friends tell me that when project like these are presented as "restoration", they go over pretty well.]
Two months ago, I had our parish carpenters rebuild the front steps to the High Altar, which, ironically enough, they were quite happy to do since a previous pastor had long ago directed these same men to remove them.
MJM: On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, you compared the Church’s rediscovery of the traditional Mass to the rediscovery of the true Cross in AD 312. This is a fascinating analogy and I wonder if you would be good enough explain what you mean by it.
Fr. Echert: It is the comparison of something which is most sacred and precious that had been lost—or taken—that has now been restored to its rightful place. In one case it was the most sacred relic of the Church: the True Cross of Christ; in the other case it is the most sacred worship of the Church: the Traditional Mass. Just as our Lord taught in the parables recorded by Saint Luke (chapter fifteen): there should be great cause for rejoicing when that which is lost has been found! In many ways, having been nearly without the traditional form of the Mass for forty years (practically speaking), I anticipate that as this Mass is more widely restored to its rightful place, the faithful will appreciate it all the more—that is the experience of many already.
MJM: Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis was, I believe, the first bishop to introduce daily Masses according to the old Rite after the MP (I’m told he’s now set up a program to teach Latin and the old Rite to the many young priests requesting instruction, as well). Bishop Finn, who himself recently offered the Old Mass in Kansas, also seems to be looking in that direction, as does, obviously, the Archbishop of Dublin, Ireland. Is such a thing possible here in St. Paul, and is there any move to establish traditional personal parishes here?
Fr. Echert: Thus far there has been no official communication to priests in this diocese with regard to the implementation of the motu proprio. I am not complaining about that silence, as it is preferable to other dioceses in which there have been directives which may thwart its implementation. I know of several priests—mostly young—who are interested in learning the Tridentine Mass and hope for opportunities to say it publicly. I have an open invitation to them to offer Mass in my two parishes. [YAY!]
For the short term, then, it appears that in this diocese my parishes will remain the primary parishes to serve traditional faithful, though I know of Catholics in many other parts of the diocese who are requesting the traditional Mass of their pastors. This is the beauty of the motu proprio: it falls to the faithful and pastors (the grass roots) to bring about the resurgence of this Mass, rather than from the top down—which did not work well or at all, in countless dioceses.
As to personal parishes (those which are strictly and fully traditional), I pray that such parishes will be allowed in every diocese and region worldwide. It is a very complicated matter to have a fully functioning mixture of Novus Ordo and Tridentine faithful and Sacraments in the same parish and it would be preferable for both pastor and congregation that there would be exclusively traditional parishes. My hope is that one day I will serve as pastor of such a parish. Locally we have had the support of the Ordinary for a limited use of the Tridentine Mass since the Indult was first granted; pray for a generous response to the allowance of the Holy Father for bishops to establish personal parishes in their dioceses.
MJM: In an interview with Vatican Radio on September 13, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos explained that Pope Benedict’s MP affirms the right of any priest to use the "extraordinary form" of the Latin liturgy even without his bishop’s permission. The Cardinal seems intent to prevent certain liberal bishops from frustrating the Pope’s plan to restore the old Mass as they did with John Paul’s 1988 MP Ecclesia Dei. Why do you suppose the Pope is so determined to establish wider use of this Mass that he would even encourage his priests to offer it without their bishops’ permission if it comes to that?
Fr. Echert: The Pope is affirming a universal right which belongs to all clergy in good standing with the Church, as is fitting for his supreme office and the matter at hand. [Yes. I contend that the MP is especially about priests.] One thing I learned in the military: a subordinate authority does not have the right to countermand the law of a higher authority. In spite of the fact that Pope John Paul II asked for generosity on the part of bishops in establishing Indult parishes in their dioceses, this approach did not work. In my own state, there were only two Indult parishes with weekly Sunday Masses, which meant that many Catholics had to drive incredible distances to attend a Tridentine Mass (one man drove 500 miles round trip to my parish). Had this motu proprio entrusted primary responsibility to the bishops to establish the traditional Mass, there is no reason to believe the outcome would have measurably exceeded that of the Indult in the past.
In spite of incredible pressure to the contrary—as was widely reported—the Holy Father entrusted responsibility for responding to the needs of the faithful into the hands of pastors. [YES!] And while there will be many pastors who will not comply, there are many more parishes than dioceses, and traditional Masses will soon be found scattered everywhere.
MJM: There are a few traditionalists who still argue that so-called “approved” traditional priests are more or less in business only to undermine “unapproved” traditionalist priests. Judging from your sermons, however, undermining anyone except modernists and liberals doesn’t seem to enter your mind. You seem to have a good relationship with the priests in the SSPX, for example, and I’ve heard you recommend The Remnant from the pulpit. Is it fair to say, then, that you offer the old Mass because you regard its restoration as vital for the life of the whole Church and that you are not attempting to undermine anyone?
Fr. Echert: I offer the traditional Mass for its own value and for what it has to offer to the faithful and the future of the Church. [RIGHT. The value of the older form of Mass is centered within the rite of Holy Mass itself. If you argue for its value from advantages external to the rite, you risk devolving the Mass into a kind of spectacle, interesting, beautiful, but devoid of mystery.] I have never offered the traditional Mass with any ulterior motive of undermining other expressions of tradition. I am on good terms with priests who belong to the SSPX and have worked with the local Society pastor on some pastoral issues of mutual concern. I am an avid reader of The Remnant and many other traditional publications and books. These are difficult times and sadly there is much discord among traditionalists. [No kidding. I seems that so many people are interested in defending their own little slice of the pie, as if it were a zero sum pie, that they have not been able to function together well and be a serious lobby for change in the Church. Hopefully some of this will rinse away under the laver of the Motu Proprio.] Even at my Indult parish there is not universal agreement on many of the fine points of liturgy, theology and strategy, and so the issues get battled out in the parking lot or at coffee and donuts in the church hall. I know that there are many Catholics and clergy in particular who view the Indult as a means to keep Catholics from SSPX and other expressions of tradition but this has never been a motive or goal for me. I believe that the multiplicity of adherents to tradition has collectively helped to bring about this important step of Pope Benedict. As you note, I principally go after the modernists, who should be the common enemy of all traditionalists—and all Catholics!
MJM: Father, put your prophet’s hat for a moment. How’s all this going to end? If the Mass is restored widely and throughout the whole world, would that change everything, or is it too late?
Fr. Echert: It is never too late, unless we are living in the end times, of which I am not yet convinced. It will be like seed which is widely scattered but in a variety of difficult and sometimes extreme conditions. Here and there a seed will take root but it will be some time before the field is clothed in the mantel of tradition. There will be many clergy who will resolutely oppose it and refuse it to the faithful, but there will be others who will enable it.
There are certainly some initial hurdles, but, over the course of years—less than a blink of the divine eye—this Mass will be widely found throughout the Church. One of the looming questions is what impact it will have upon the Novus Ordo Mass. Will there be a “reform of the reform,” as some suggest, or a replacement of the reform with the traditional form? One concern I have is that some priests—including some good-willed priests who are misguided—will offer Tridentine Masses in their parishes, but may allow some modern practices to infiltrate the traditional Mass: altar girls, the new lectionary, Communion in the hand. Hopefully, clarifications from Rome will prohibit such aberrations. [Yes. As discussions in other entries of this WDTPRS blog reveal, we do need clarifications.]
Let me sum up my hope with this biblical lesson: forty is often a number of testing (Israel in the Old Testament, our Lord in the New Testament). We have wandered through a veritable desert for forty years but now have a glimpse of the Promised Land (forgotten land). We have not yet arrived, by any means, but we have taken a giant step in the right direction. May the Lord now speed us on our pilgrimage back to tradition!
MJM: If you had to choose one rite of Mass to offer exclusively every day for the rest of your life which would it be, New or Old? Why?
Fr. Echert: The traditional Mass, hands down! It was the Mass which first inspired in me a vocation to the priesthood and it is the Mass which I intend to offer until my last breath on earth.
Editor’s Note: Please forward this interview to as many priests as you possibly can. Also, The Remnant is giving out free physical reprints of the interview upon request. Those requests can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, requested by telephone at (651) 204-0145, or sent via snail mail to:
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This is an excellent interview. It is constructive and hopeful. It demonstrates that a modicum of good will on the parts of bishop, pastor, and flock can produce very good fruits. It might take a little time, but obstacles can be gently displaced.
I was intrigued also at the interviewer’s comment at the beginning that he sees a persecution of the Church on the horizon, and that the derestriction of the older form of Mass is timely. Later in the interview, Fr. Echert mentions the end times, though says I thinks they are not imminent. OVer the last couple weeks in my travels, more than one person with whom I have spoken has made a comment about the end times in relation to the older form of Mass. Food for thought.
I am delighted by the picture presented at St. Augustine’s. I am maybe a little jealous too!
To my friends Fr. Echert and Mr. Matt, I solemnly tip my biretta.