Tag Archives: Liturgy

Altar alterations: Cancel Gorilla Tape

We’ve been having knock down (literally) drag out (literally) sessions in the sanctuary of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church here in Andrews, NC, discussing what can be done, how things can be done – so many measurements – the steps to take, what might happen with various exigencies…

Nathan the prophet seems to have visited a number of parishioners who note that the pews and windows and doors are all good, but what about the altar of the Lord, His sanctuary? They offered, of a sudden, independent of each other and all at once, some wherewithal and expertise, complementing what another way up in upstate New York has been providing for all along.

We chased off to a rock slab reseller and I immediately gravitated toward the piece above. If you’ve ever seen the slab upon which the burnt body of the great Saint Lawrence was laid after he was burned alive, well, this is a double of it. Very appropriate. Even more, this reminds me of the slab upon which our Lord Himself was laid inside the Holy Sepulcher itself, there in the Church of the Resurrection in the Old City of Jerusalem.

We’ll see if we can make the down payment before someone else snatches it up. It’s all moving rather quickly. We’ll be having to make some crosses as well as a Sepulcher for relics of the Saints. And then it will have to consecrated. This will take much preparations. For instance, there is a cloth which goes over the newly chrismated altar, a cloth subjected to appropriate methodologies to have it do its job correctly. Then there is another cloth and finally the changeable altar cloth on top. This will all be new to me.

  • “But Father George! Father George! You’re an elitist! You want nice things for Jesus, not for the poor! What kind of Missionary of Mercy are you anyway? Your (literally) Gorilla Taped altar right now is really cool. It’s speaks loudly of poverty!”

Well, not all Missionaries of Mercy are filthy liberals who hate respect for the Son of the Living God. Jesus defended the woman who poured that little bottle of ointment worth a year’s wages over Him for His burial seconds before Judas went off to betray Jesus, right? Jesus defended the integrity and honesty of Temple worship, right?

Many of the great cathedrals in these USA were built by the poorest of the poor during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Just saying. Would you begrudge Jesus’ little flock their generosity with the Lord Jesus.

Moreover, if anyone has an objection, I’ll ask this: “Do you eat off a Gorilla Taped board?” And if you did, you would be offended for our Lord, indignant for Him that His Last Supper for the Redemption of the World and the Salvation of the many might be located on Gorilla Tape. The rough cross was connected with this – My Body given for you in Sacrifice, My Blood poured out for you in Sacrifice – and they are together one event. But let the celebration of the Wedding Banquet be appropriate joyous. Those who complain about a well celebrated Liturgy are also those who dismiss the violence of the Crucifixion, who don’t offer Confessions, because, you know, there’s no such thing as sin and we don’t need a Savior anyway.

Here’s the deal: Jesus is Himself the Altar, the Priest, and the Lamb of Sacrifice. This is to honor Him. This is a virtue. It’s called Piety. It’s a virtue of Justice: giving due honor to whom due honor is due. Jesus deserves much more honor than we could even begin to give to Him. After all, He saves us! An appropriate altar honors His Sacrifice even as it speaks to us of our sin that would occasion such generosity on our behalf from the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. Too much for some. They run away from such truths which should instead bring them great joy. Thus the bitterness.

Hah! There is NONE of that in this parish. Everyone wants to honor Jesus, and with great enthusiasm. When they hear that Jesus is going to come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, they say: Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

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Burning Palm Sunday 2020. Ordering more palm branches for 2021.

This picture was, of course, taken on Shrove Tuesday 2021. We had really a lot of palms left over from 2020 Palm Sunday, as that was somehow cancelled. We’re ordering the same amount of palms for 2021 Palm Sunday. Yes. We’ll be celebrating Palm Sunday this year, now that I’ve seen the Holy See’s insistence this year (2021) about the validity of the Decree for 2020 Palm Sunday for this year as well. And that Decree has it that people may well be present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, you know, like every other day of the year. After some consultation, it seems that no one, not even the Pope, can just up and cancel the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass right around the world. I wish I had known that in 2020. But now I do know that.

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Cancelling 2021 Holy Week and Easter?

In the above Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship (25 March 2020) referring to a previous Decree (19 March 2020) we now see published what went into effect for Holy Week and Easter of 2020. This is important for 2021. Let’s look at the language:

  • “Bishops and priests may celebrate the rites of Holy Week without the presence of the people..”
    • That’s said regardless of civil restrictions. Interesting. This means that Bishops and priests may celebrate with the presence of the people… regardless of civil restrictions, right?
  • Palm Sunday “is to be celebrated within sacred buildings…”
    • Interesting. That’s like baiting civil authorities…
  • The Chrism Mass can be transferred.
    • Interesting. That makes a difference, I guess… I was excluded last year. It seems like it’s considered that the Chrism Mass in only about a representation of priests for the sake of the oils. I’m concerned about the good of the priests who at that Mass are to renew their priestly promises, and no representation will do for that…
  • Holy Thursday washing of feet is to be omitted.
    • I mean, what does that rite mean anyway, after Pope Francis totally gutted it of its real meaning? At any rate, the omission of this one rite during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper means that people are nevertheless there, right? There’s a faculty to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper without the presence of the people. But that means that it can be done with the people present, right?
  • Good Friday indications assume that people are there.
    • After all, you cannot limit certain actions just to the priest unless others there are actively being excluded.
  • The Easter Vigil, as always, as normal, is to be celebrated in Cathedral and parish churches.
    • That’s always the case. So…

But that was for 2020. We now, in 2021, have a “Note” having it that the above Decree is still valid for 2021. Since that’s the case, it’s a green light for celebrating Holy Week and the Easter Triduum with the people present, right?

UPSHOT: There is NOTHING in this “Note” or last year’s Decree which has it that Bishops as “moderators” can forbid the celebration of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. I mean, I’m no “liturgist” or Canon Lawyer, but, truly, I don’t see anything that grants any Bishop the rite to simply cancel Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. Did any of them do that in 2020? Will any do it in 2021? I stand to be corrected, but only by those who have the apostolic mandate to do so, and who are not acting ultra vires, that is, beyond their powers.

JUST MY OPINION but this just seems to be scripted by the fear mongering of the Chinese Communist Party. I mean, after Easter, it will all go back to normal again, right? I mean, we all know that the Wuhan virus is entirely aware of liturgical timing…

LET ME TELL YOU: People are extremely cynical of church leadership regarding sex abuse, regarding money, regarding political correctness. Church leadership out and out mocks Christ Jesus. It pretty much seems that pretty much all of church leadership is Marxist. I mean, to have it that the virus knows liturgical timing is so very….. [I better stop here…]

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I see people looking like trees and walking

Amazing day, today. Trees have been seen walking all over the Blue Ridges of the Appalachian mountains of this far western North Carolina parish. For instance, lookie here at the forehead of this guy:

Yes, that would be an image of the wood of THE TREE saving us from being mere ashes, having us becoming tabernacles of the Holy Spirit, of the Most Holy Trinity.

Oops!!! Oh no!!! It’s on the internet!!! It’ll be seen!!! I’m sooo in trouble!!! What are “they” gonna do? Put me in a smaller parish when I’m already in the smallest parish in North America?

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Of ashes, babies, vaccines, priests, bishops…

We see apoplectic power plays from the church hierarchy enforcing the absolutely silent and therefore absolute non-blessing of ashes for Ash Wednesday (when nothing – nihil – is pronounced). No one will hear anything about sin in this ashes rite.

It’s the apoplectic bit that is stunning. It’s like, existential for them. If they’re not apoplectic in their bullying about the ashes, they will, like, die or something.

I mean, go ahead, see if you can find one of these power bullies all beside himself to enforce silence on sin and a non-blessing of ashes, who will also condemn the “vaccines” for having been developed from or tested on only super healthy developed babies, dissected and harvested. Will you find even one? No? They are too concerned about Wuhan Rites and masks and the laws of this world… They feel powerful when babies are murdered for them.

All I’ve heard is that they are breathlessly anxious to get in line to get their damned abortion tainted vaccines so that they can be heroes in their own eyes and in the eyes of Wuhan Joe – so that they can abuse these kids to death and FEEL THE POWER – even while playing the unbelieving bully with their abuse of office, smashing down priests because they actually bless the ashes on Ash Wednesday. Rather disproportionate: they sanction the murder of children, the priests they smash down just bless ashes for Ash Wednesday. Wait… What? Yep. It is these freak boys who are lining up for a non-merciful judgement, you know, which will have the same kind of dismissiveness used against them as they used for helpless babies in the womb. What a bunch of clowns, you know, the scary ones.

It’s to this that we have arrived. Murder is great! And forget about Jesus dying for our sins.

I am soooooooooooooooo psyched up for this weekend’s preaching.

I don’t care what any Pope or bishop or bully has to say, to get a “vaccine” into me you’ll literally have to kill me.

Get that?

Having said that, I know how make for an effective deescalation and avoid awkward situations without compromise, without weakness, retaining honesty and integrity. It’s possible not because we are good or “special” but because Jesus allowed Himself to be tortured to death, innocent for the guilty, laying down His life for us, so that we wouldn’t continue to lay others’ lives down for ourselves, murdering littlies in the womb.

I’ve been in so very many truly impossible damned if I do and damned if I don’t situations, but not compromising, knowing that Jesus will save the day, and then watch Jesus smash down idiot ecclesiastics so that they themselves take me out of the traps they themselves had set, making fools – dare I say – clowns of themselves. Jesus doesn’t appreciate when His priests are suffering from the monsters.

And if I’m not rescued, but thrown on a trash heap, it is in that way that I will be saved, going to heaven. There is to be no compromise with murder of babies: it’s not to be done, ever. Looking to the things above, to being hidden with Christ in God, that’s what I want. I want that for everyone, including those who need conversion, be they priests, be they bishops.

I will preach about Christ our God, who was a Baby in the virginal womb of His Immaculate Virgin Mother. And there is no “power” on this earth or in hell which can steal me away from humble thanksgiving before the Lamb of God, who will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire. Amen. Thanks be to God.

Let’s see how long we hear crickets. I would like to see bishops and priests defend life.

Judas betrayed Jesus and then committed suicide. Peter betrayed Jesus. All eleven had run away. John came back as did the others. I’m nobody, but I nevertheless invite them to get to know Jesus again or for the first time. Jesus is Eternal Life.

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Ash Wednesday Covid-19 Ashes Latin *Note* signed, but… wait… what?

Back in the mid-1980s, I declined when a Bishop wanted me to get degreed out in Canon Law over in Rome, asking to be sent back over yet again to get degreed out in Sacred Scripture. He sent me instead to the brand new JPII Institute for Marriage and the Family, back when the on the ground founder Father Carlo Caffarra (+2017) was there I think in the second year of its operation. I eventually did get degreed out in all matters Biblical. Although at the same time – back in the day – I was trying to cross-index all the canons of Canon Law in my mind, heart and soul, I am not today any kind of Canon Lawyer at all. So, I’ll just notice some things about this “Note.” I stand to be corrected. Please, do so.

  • First of all, the CDW chose to publish this as a “Note.” Wait… What? It’s not a Motu Proprio, nor a Decree, nor a Directive, nor an Instruction, nor a Circular Letter, nor a Notification, nor a Declaration, nor a Response to a Doubt, but merely as a “Note.” So, the legislative umph that comes with this note is something like zero. It’s like a suggestion for priests who are wondering just how far they can go with absurdity, you know, with permission, pushing for the surreal capitalizing on a plandemic one of whose main purposes seems to have been – of all things – to kick religion in the face.
  • There is no time stamp for “the pandemic,” you know, like someone deputed by the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church who is taking responsibility for making a scientific decision for the “end of the pandemic” when scientists have been lying and playing politics over against religion all along. The Covid-19 drama threatens to go on for many years to come. So…? Some dioceses very many hundreds of miles in length and breadth, having wildly diverse circumstances regarding geography, demography, (non-)movement of populations, and regarding how many enjoy immunity in whatever community for whatever reason, age, history of having gotten and gotten over the virus (I know some who got it in Italy and had to stay there until it was all over), and so on. So, the “sacerdos” on the ground is to make the decision.
  • There is no language such as “anything to the contrary notwithstanding,” nothing about penalties, no change in the General Institution of the Roman Missal for any future or continuing epidemics, no extra rubrics. Zippo. It’s a “Note”, right now, that is offered to “the priest.” Period.

Enough of that. Let’s move on to an analysis of the text, you know, the only official, signed text, in Latin. The other languages are not signed, so I’m thinking no one is wanting to claim those as “official translations.” It’s the Latin that has claim to being the “Note.”

  • “Dicta oratione ad benedicendos ceneres, et aspersis eis aqua benedicta, nihil dicens…” /// In my more pedantic and correct translation than that which is otherwise proffered, the meaning is as follows: “Having said the prayer for the blessing of the ashes, and with [ashes] having been sprinkled with blessed water, saying nothing…” /// Syntactically, the entire first paragraph is one sentence. This is merely the introduction to the rest of the sentence. But so far what we have are two past participles of whatever “voice” being subordinate to the present participle which carries, as it were, both of the other preceding participles. What this means is that although the first “dicta” (having said) would otherwise also mean “having pronounced”, being that it is subject to the present participle in the phrase “nihil dicens” (saying nothing), the reference to “dicta” at the beginning actually means something along the lines of “having made pretend to say”, so that the entire blessing is not pronounced except in the priest’s head, you know, because he actually is saying nothing – “nihil dicens” – for the actions of both preceding past participles of whatever voice. There are no words provided for the ashes having been sprinkled. No pronouncement = no blessing. The content of this note is fraudulent.
  • This first sentence continues as follows: “…sacerdos semel pro omnibus astantibus formulam ut in Missali Romano profert:…” /// [having wrought the preceding fakery mentioned at the beginning of this sentence…] …the priest once for all of those present pronounces the formula in the Roman Missal… /// So, now, the priest is actually to speak for the first and only time.”Sacerdos” is the subject of the main verb – profert – that carries the immediately preceding present participle in the phrase – “nihil dicens” – which in turn carries both past participles of whatever “voice” in the opening clauses.
  • The first sentence continues with its conclusion with references to options of what the priest is to pronounce just the one time for everyone: “Paenitemini, et credite Evangelio,” or “Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.” /// “Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” or “Remember, man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

So, what we have are non-blessed ashes that have holy water sprinkled on them to an unknown effect for the Novus Ordo blessing of water or to the effect of an exorcism for the traditional formula, but nothing as a particular sacramental calling on the merits of Christ and the saints (as real sacramentals do): nothing about repenting specifically from sin. And how many people in the entire world go to Confession? A few hundred? A few thousand? Out of more than a billion? I note about this note, say, in the English “translation”, that the translator found it so very absurd that he broke up the first sentence into three, changed the participles to active verbs, and changed the meanings. But as I have noted previously, even that wasn’t good enough to overcome the surreal nature of this note.

Also, to repeat what I’ve said before, if mere ashes are disrespected and at the same time subjected to hyperventilating fake rubrics, what are we to do to make this consistent with the actual rubrics of Holy Mass about Him, who is infinitely more important, Jesus, Christ our God. Are the consecrations to have been said without saying anything – Nihil dicens – so that there are no actual consecrations of any bread or wine, so that there is, then, no Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ present, so that it is all a simulation of a Sacraement? Is the instruction about the “Body of Christ” or “Corpus Domini Iesu Christi…” therefore an encouragement to commit idol worship, something that we’ve already seen with the Pachamama fiasco?

Commentary on the rest of this “Note” and the additional rubrics others have given – totally absurd – will have to wait for another day. I can only be fed so much feces before wanting to throw up. I’m too weak. Sorry.

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Meeting up with Jesus at Holy Mass

There are four moments at Holy Mass where I particularly meet up with Jesus:

  • Before reading the Gospel the priest bows before the altar and says the prayer Munda cor meum, by which the priest begs our Lord that his heart and lips (his communication) might be purified (as with the prophet Isaiah) that he might worthily announce the Gospel. — For me this is always a terribly humble moment in which I put all my ineptitude before Jesus. I don’t prepare for my preaching outside of glancing at the readings immediately before Mass. I literally cannot but ignore any other preparation. I can only speak from the heart. Truly. In this prayer bowing down before Jesus, I’m begging Him that I not be reprimanded at the Judgment because of misspeaking, because of not representing Him as I should. Complimentary to this is after preaching I turn to Jesus and bow before Him once again, again begging that what I have said be acceptable to Him. The way this works is that grace will provided to those assisting at Holy Mass so that they will hear what Jesus wants them to hear regardless of whether I said it or not. :-)
  • In the actual preaching, but it is rare that I will meet up with Jesus unless I am speaking about His perspective on His Immaculate Virgin Mother in relation to the Gospel. When I say meet up with Jesus, it’s like He’s lifting the clouds of my foggy brain and dulled soul and blinded eyes wherein I’m otherwise not listening to Him. It’s like He’s drawing me so close to Himself that I begin to begin understanding His love for His dear mother and ours. It’s like He’s telling me that this is the direction He wants me to go in being available as a priest for His priesthood among us. He wants me to tell people of His love for His good mom. A tall order? But Jesus is good and kind.
  • At the Consecrations. I mean, what can I say? See the picture up top. More on this in another post.
  • At the Holy Communion, when I receive and in administering Holy Communion to Jesus’ little flock. It’s always such a joyful moment. I can’t help but smile when the lambs receive Jesus with all due reverence. When all is said and done, sitting off to the side of the sanctuary, a moment of quiet with Jesus having visited the hearts of His faithful with His Most Sacred Heart, I wish this could go on and on. Dear Lord…

I’m writing this early Sunday Morning before 6:00 AM Adoration and Confessions and the Masses and Communion Calls, some perhaps with Last Rites. If you read this early on, a Hail Mary please, that I will preach well today of Christ Jesus and His blessed Mother. The Gospel is about exorcism. Yikes!

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Bull S*** Vatican Ash Wed rubric-masks, non-blessing of ashes? I will not comply.

[My comments]

(Vatican News) Ahead of the beginning of Lent, on Wednesday, 17 February, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has published a note detailing how Catholic priests are to distribute ashes. [What “Catholic priests”, of what rite? All? The article gives no link to the CDW. The instruction is not published at the CDW web site as of this writing, days later. I looked over the “Bollettino” for the last 10 days: nothing. We know how things have been manipulated in the past. I don’t trust this. Maybe the link will show up in the next few days, but the CDW hasn’t updated their site for a full month. Is this from the American Jesuit guy? Is this a testing of the waters before publishing something more official, a usual modus operandi? Well then, here’s my opinion for the Holy See:]

/////

Instructions: [Note that this journo summary has few quotation marks. Therefore, we don’t really know what was said, do we? No, we don’t.] After blessing the ashes and sprinkling them with holy water in silence [What? Blessings are pronounced. Is this a way to avoid telling people that there is no sin from which to repent… on… Ash… Wednesday… ? The blessings recall repentance from sin and salvation from sin. Is that bad for people to hear?], the priest addresses those present, reciting once the formula found in the Roman Missal [edit!]: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” [Why not “repent from sin”, since we missed out on that with the non-blessing of the ashes?] or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. [Just once for everyone? Wait… What? Let’s continue…]

At that point, the note continues [I’m not taking this journo’s word for it], the priest “cleanses his hands, [Because you wouldn’t want the ashes to get dirty because – why? – they are Pachamama ashes?] puts on a face mask [And there it is, the liturgical face mask (barf, barf, barf…). I wonder if there is a liturgical barf bag], and distributes ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places.” [Yeah, you know, with zero social distancing because the mask makes it all better according to spin doctor Fauci who changes his mind as minutes go by.]

He then sprinkles the ashes on each person’s head “without saying anything.” [This is a custom in Italy, not so much in these USA. Does that mean that making the sign of the cross on the penitent’s forehead is forbidden? I’d like to see the exact language and the method by which this is promulgated.]

/////

Here’s the deal: You don’t get to change liturgical law for the universal church by way of hearsay. This is bullying, pure and simple.

I will not comply. [edit!]

This will lead quite directly to desecration of the Blessed Sacrament:

If a priest is to wash his hands before touching the ashes which are only going to be sprinkled on the person’s head from on high, how is the Most Blessed Sacrament to be distributed in Holy Communion to the faithful? The hypocritical inconsistencies are, I’m guessing, quite purposed, so that the sacrilege we’ve seen with altar breads to be purchased already individually packaged in cellophane wrappers are what’s coming next, you know, a mask for Jesus, literally. All those particles of the Sacred Host? Thrown away? Or the cellophaned Jesus brought to satanic rituals or kept as a “memento.” Or, the priest is to wash his hands again after every communicant has communicated, you know, with ablutions the priest drinks himself? Every time? Or, a new pair of gloves – you know, with the particles clinging to the gloves like metal shavings cling to a magnet? Self-communication doesn’t work as you would have to have a different ciborium for each person present. And how are the ablutions to be made with no risk of desecration to the Blessed Sacrament except that the priest drinks these himself? Oh, that’s right: Kill the priests! That’s the goal! Actually not. The goal is to mock the liturgy, to mock God, right? Just a question, but please, explain all this to me.

Crickets…

So… I will not comply.

And if I’m dismissed from the clerical state because I insist that repentance is repentance from sin, or because I’m protecting the Blessed Sacrament from sacrilege, so be it. I want to go to heaven.

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Holy Thursday foot washing: all Latinos in the parish, only Latinos: 2 1/2 hours

Some trusted elderly parishioners moved closer to their children just out of state recently but return frequently. They came back with a story about their new parish. At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday they did have the foot-washing ceremony. They have lots of Latinos in the parish. All the feet of all the Latinos were washed, but only of Latinos, but all of them. I’m not sure what that means. At all. Maybe they switch out races every year and we are looking at this in media res.

Anyway, just the foot-washing alone lasted 2 1/2 hours… That’s what really surprises me. 2 1/2 hours just for the foot-washing alone.

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7 7 7 – Summorum Pontificum: the 10th anniversary in Lourdes. “Just wear dental guards, Father George!”

LOURDES-GROTTO

Things are never as they seem. After Pope Benedict XVI came out with Summorum Pontificum on 7 July 2007, the permanent chaplains in Lourdes, including myself, were called to a special meeting announced by the rector of the time on behalf of the bishop of the time. We were going to be the very first to implement S.P. even before the start date.

The rector asked: “Who knows how to offer Mass in Latin? The bishop wants to know because of the Pope’s letter.” Three of us raised our hands, one who may have known it but didn’t want to offer it but was willing to fake it by saying the Novus Ordo in Latin (he didn’t last long), one who didn’t care one way or the other (and would soon regret raising his hand and quit), and myself. I was put in charge of bringing Summorum Pontificum to fruition, being naive enough to think for a little while that all this was actually sincere. It wasn’t. This was all a way to look cooperative with the Holy See but it was instead a way to control and smack down anything to do with Summorum Pontificum.

lourdes

Generally speaking, only chaplains were allowed to offer this Mass (there were a few exceptions such as when the SSPX would come with all four bishops, etc.) which meant that many other priest-pilgrims were regularly denied or given the run around, creating chaos, frustration and bad feelings on the part of the pilgrims. Priests and even bishops were simply treated like trash. Tempers flared. It was all so very unnecessary. So sad.

Places allowed for this Mass were thrown around all over the sanctuaries so that no schedule at a set place could be established for a long time, which also meant that I had to prepare rolling suitcases filled with the necessary items to drag all over the sanctuaries, up and down staircases, in the rain (sometimes all the way to the front gate at Saint Joseph’s), etc. No advertisements were allowed for this Mass either on the internet or at the info office, though finally, sometimes, it would be put on the roster, though often with the wrong time and place. I would put up notices on doors around the sanctuaries to announce the inevitable change of time and venue, only to find the notices immediately ripped down, etc. Mockery for saying this Mass coming from other chaplains was extremely intense. The last thing they wanted was to actually permit this Mass to be offered. One of the worst ones to mock was the priest who had almost single-handedly throughout the last decades reduced the “Youth Mass” to a McDonald’s picnic and irrelevant theater and total screaming from one end to the other throughout “Mass.” Yep. I say “Mass” in quotes because they did do the consecration, I guess, but everything else was ip for grabs, including whether laity could participate in the consecrations.

LOURDES-MICHAEL

Finally, with clever chess moves, Masses were allowed in a half dozen chapels for pilgrimages of up to dozens of people (offered by myself, rarely by another priest) and finally were allowed in the hidden side chapels in the crypt of the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for priests coming with one or two others. Never in the grotto. A Sunday Mass was allowed, usually in the smallish Immaculate Conception upper Basilica, but, of course, the Mass times were changed wildly and sometimes scheduled at the same time and place as other Masses, or so closely back to back that chaos ensued. Unending, unending, unending.

The mockery coming from the other chaplains (and some others) was vicious, loud, public, and, truly unending. It’s hard to imagine more hateful attitudes, because, after that, people go into uncaring, zero conscience mode, which I suppose is the ultimate hate. I guess our Lord wanted to introduce me to just how bad it can get, and how bad it was throughout Europe as it all was concentrated and put into a package for me at Lourdes. A special gift, really.

But in the midst of all this, the Lord was doing what He wanted, and so there were simply some of the most beautiful moments that Lourdes had seen in dozens of years. One I remember had to do with me taking the oaths of new European Boy Scouts down in front of the Rosary Basilica after a Traditional Mass in the Immaculate Conception Basilica. Another was the pilgrimage of soon to be Cardinal Burke:

cardinal burke lourdes

Another was just over a year later on the National Feast Day of France, August 15, 2008, during the National Pilgrimage, when I was able to arrange for and offer the Mass in the underground Basilica of Saint Pius X. A solemn high Mass with a good 7000 people assisting:

Mass Lourdes Pius X Basilica

That Mass was a nuclear explosion and caused no end of troubles for me, with accusations being made against me from near and far, with letters of complaint being sent near and far. What a nightmare. “You told people that the new Mass is invalid and they are obliged to go to the traditional Mass!” It never happened. But the same higher-ups insisted that this was the case until I finally departed for the USA (at a time foreseen before I went to Lourdes in the first place). What to do with such slander? I’m only telling you just a fraction of what went on.

I once said that I don’t know any priest who has suffered more for the re-establishment of the Traditional Mass in living memory – and I know a lot of priests who have suffered for this – and I still think that that is true. I include bishops in that assessment. I don’t say that to toot my own horn, but rather to give encouragement to those who suffer. And yet, so many among the traditional-ism-ists on the far end of the spectrum are so bitter and angry with me, I suppose because I am not bitter like them. Why be bitter? That gets no one anywhere. It only hurts oneself. We can be faithful sons of the Church and not be bitter. In fact, we can be joyful.

Anyway, I was being so smashed down that I was grinding my teeth at night so that dentists noticed that my teeth were being worn down and cracked. One recommended dental guards at night such as one might wear for American football. I didn’t, but I have to say that this was at the same time the worst time in my entire life and also the most glorious. I wouldn’t change any of it. And there was joy in the midst of this.

Through it all I got to know Jesus and Mary so very much better. I was told by many priests I talked to at the time – friends on pilgrimage – that surely this time in Lourdes was providential for me, to bring me closer to Jesus and Mary.

And I was happy to do what I could to be a good son of the Church in the best way I knew how, trying to fulfill the wishes of Pope Benedict and, indeed, the Holy See of the time. I was doing my best to make friends with the pilgrimage groups that came, with the priests, with the FSSP, with the SSPX who have a house up the hill across the river. I regret nothing. I would do it all over again. After my requested two year sojourn in Lourdes was completed, I was felicitously replaced by a great young priest of the FSSP. Here’s a changing of the guard picture in the sacristy:

lourdes traditional mass chaplains

I was saying that I was willing to do it all over again. In fact, I did do it all over again in re-establishing the traditional Mass in the Pontifical seminary in Columbus, Ohio, the Josephinum. There were some bishops saying that they would pull out their seminarians unless classes were taught for this. I, of course, volunteered, but it was the same permit so as to control and smash down effort by the powers that be, much of that not seen by the seminarians. I taught the Mass and all the sacraments and even exorcism and blessings in the old ritual, and also liturgical Latin. It was a strictly optional course but, whatever. The traditional Mass was back and it all took on a life of its own. Great! Novus Ordo Latin Mass also became very frequent after this. ;-)

When you really want something you have to be willing to suffer for it, and not be bitter about it, because it’s a matter of love. And I love being a priest. Didn’t Jesus encounter difficulties? Unimaginably worse, and so many priests have actually suffered right around the world right through the centuries, making my ruminations almost seem blasphemous. But, when you’re going through something, it can be kinda rough. We’re all pretty weak, whatever protestations we might otherwise make about ourselves. But we learn. As the Master, so the mere disciple. We learn that it’s all about Jesus’ love and Jesus’ truth and Jesus’ goodness and kindness and all the rest doesn’t matter, as it won’t matter in heaven, and, so as to praise Jesus, that’s where we want to go, where we must go. No bitterness. Just wear a dental guard. Save your teeth for a good smile. I love being a priest!

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Altering altars: towards an upgrade

Holy Redeemer church

Holy Redeemer, Andrews, NC

In this back region of the back ridges of very far Western North Carolina, in what I am guessing is the smallest Catholic population sized parish in North America, we have two church buildings, Holy Redeemer in Andrews and Prince of Peace in Robbinsville. Both have what I would call temporary altars, for neither are immovable and neither are crafted with anything that might be termed to be special in any way. However, one does have a granite rock design made from the leftover chimney rocks.

robbinsville church

Prince of Peace, Robbinsville, NC

Having said that, much work went into the altars to get them to be a decent size and keep them that way. Both are fairly tall and fairly expansive, a rarity in these days of chopping block altars that can even be symmetrically placed off kilter to match a lectern both in place and size. In the case of Robbinsville, the parishioners physically stopped a priest of the past from cutting the altar down to the size of a microwave. I love this parish. But some work does need to be done on the altars.

Holy Redeemer: This altar can be fairly tippy, like a teeter-totter if the whatchamacallits are placed below the lower thingamabob, with the top being made from an over-sized closet door guerrilla-taped to the top. There is no altar stone that I know about.

altar stone 1

Prince of Peace: While this altar isn’t so much tippy, having four legs instead of one as it does, I’m guessing that it’s not even made out of wood, but rather sawdust board with an oak veneer so common back in the day. The altar stone was desecrated, perhaps even before it was placed in the altar to begin with, and perhaps for good reason, that is, a transferal of the relics to a high altar whose relics were in the altar that had no separate altar stone as it was itself made out of stone. And then this altar stone was simply designated for this tiny mission station church regardless of the lack of relics. This was also very possible to some attitudes prevalent back in the day. The tape was long broken when I looked at it, with the slate cap-rock just laying there…

altar stone 2

What I’m thinking about is trying to replace the altars altogether with new bases for a couple of slabs of marble for the tops, hopefully with those donated by a marble company down in Georgia which owns a now defunct marble quarry in this parish (in the town of marble, named after this natural resource of ours). That weight, however, would cost us dearly as the floors in both churches would have to be reinforced. They buildings were not built for heavy altars.

Alternatively, and perhaps the better choice, would be to find appropriate altars in churches that are slated to be closed or have been closed but not yet destroyed. Unfortunately, these could not be massive high altars, as you can pretty much touch the ceilings of both churches by just lifting up your hand next to the altar. However, even a low-flying ad orientem altar with gradines and a tabernacle (not just a tabernacle “shelf”), but without a reredos would work well. We have very little room to work with. If you see something, say: “Andrews and Robbinsville”!

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