Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Post Pascha Depression

About a week after Easter, I decided that there must be such a thing as Post Pascha Depression…at least for some of us.

The Triduum was wonderful for me, as it has been the past few years. Everything was celebrated in the extraordinary form with a handful of like-minded individuals, and we all saw that it was good…very good.

When I returned home, I didn’t have time to be sad about returning to the Novus Ordo Mass, because a funeral was scheduled for the Wednesday following Easter.

Now, ordinarily, that would not be cause for happiness in my little world; and indeed, it was especially sad, because it was a friend’s husband who had died. Their son is a priest or our diocese; he is somewhat tradition-minded, though he does not say the EF Mass. Still, he wanted to have the Gregorian chant propers for the Requiem Mass, and so it came to be. The one chosen to organize a schola for that purpose was my spiritual director, and as it turned out, the only one he could find to sing with him was me. That’s because not too many people can travel the great distances in this diocese for a mid-week funeral.

So that meant that my spiritual director came to my parish for the funeral, and he stayed in the area for a few days. And that meant that he said the EF Mass in my little chapel three days in a row! My cup runneth over!

And then…it was back to the status quo: the Novus Ordo in Spanish seeming to be our best option. Sigh. I found myself feeling depressed. Post Pascha Depression, then, is the diagnosis.

Well, I’ll get over it. In fact, the second Sunday after Easter (old calendar numbering) wasn’t bad; we went to the Spanish Mass as usual, but there was no music. That can be a detriment in the EF, but the music is so bad at the Spanish Mass that it is a relief to have nothing. I find it very peaceful.

Last Sunday was a different story; we were back to the guitar-strummers. They are not bad musicians; it’s just bad music. I sat there last Sunday listening to it, and I thought about how sad it was. These people (and the ones at the English Mass) have been playing this drivel for years, and no priest or bishop has ever told them that it is not good music for Mass, that there is something better, and that it is time for them to play the real music of the Church. No priest has ever said that to them! And so they continue on in their darkened minds, thinking they are performing an important and fulfilling ministry.

Now, I know these parish musicians are nice people who mean well, and I believe that many of them are actually fairly devout Catholics – albeit Catholics who lack a sense of Catholic tradition that extends beyond their memory of “how we’ve always done it”. This is not completely their fault, because – I repeat – no priest or bishop has ever instructed them as to the mind of the Church regarding music for the liturgy. This is just ludicrous.
And it is likely to go on this way for years.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Living in the Cell

From The Sayings of the Desert Fathers:

A brother asked Abba Poemen, “How should I live in the cell?”

He said to him, “Living in your cell clearly means manual work, eating only once a day, silence, meditation; but really making progress in the cell means to experience contempt for yourself wherever you go, not to neglect the hours of prayer, and to pray secretly. If you happen to have time without manual work, take up prayer and do it without disquiet. The perfection of these things is to live in good company and be free from bad.”

Living in one’s cell is not an easy task, is it?

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Out of the Mouths of Babes

We had a little 10-year-old girl (and her family) visiting with us the other evening. She astounded me.

Her father asked to see my chapel, and suggested the girl would like to see it to. The father is not a Christian, and is only beginning to begin to see the need for a belief in God. The little girl has had no religious training at all, and did not know much more about Jesus than His name and the fact that He is associated with the Cross.

She was amazed by the chapel, and began to ask all kinds of questions. I answered as best I could, not always sure how much she knew or would understand of my answers. I made a comment in which I used the word "Catholicism", and she exclaimed, "I have no idea what that word you just said means, but I know I want to join your religion!"

After about 10 minutes, her father left us, and we continued our conversation there before the altar of God. She asked questions about Catholic beliefs, and she asked how one could know how to choose a religion to believe in out of all the choices out there. She did tell me that she definitely believed in God, "but I just don't go to church". Well, since her parents don't go, that is understandable!

I asked her how she came to a belief in God. "I had a kitty," she said. "Her name was Precious, and she was very special to me. But then she died, and I was really, really upset. And after a while I sort of got over it, but it just made me wonder...what happens to us when we die? Do we just disappear? It seems like something else must happen."

This struck me as an insight that many adults have yet to achieve! I thought of an article by Fr. Chad Ripperger - I believe it was called "The Sixth Generation"; in it, he talked about seeing an increase in the number of children who are apparently receiving graces that enable them to "see" things more clearly, to hunger for spiritual growth, to understand the faith beyond their years. I wondered if perhaps this little girl was manifesting those graces.

We talked about heaven and hell, and purgatory. She had no idea about what purgatory was, of course, so I explained that most of us need a little cleaning up before we go to Heaven. I asked her to name the famous celebrity she would most like to meet; she named a person whose name sounded vaguely familiar to me, but I didn't really know who it was. No matter; the point is the same. I said, "If I told you that you could meet that person right now, what would you do? Would you want to clean up a little, maybe fix your hair, change your clothes?" That struck a chord! Of course she would! So she then had an idea about the purpose of purgatory.

I think we will talk more. She asked how one becomes Catholic, so we talked a little about that. At this point, it seems her parents are willing for her to explore that avenue, so we shall see what happens. Pray for her, please. I don't want to mention her name here, but God will know who you are praying for. And pray for me, too, that I might respond appropriately to all her questions and provide her with material that will help her grow in faith.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Holy Week Recap

I had a wonderful retreat, as usual. We did not celebrate the Paschal Vigil Mass, due to lack of servers, but we had a Vespers service that was stellar.

I love praying the office of Tenebrae:

It seems like every year when I go to my favorite location for the Sacred Triduum, we end up with a last-minute project. This year it was a "dossal curtain"; I had not heard that term before! It is the long drapery that hangs behind the altar. The project developed like this:

We hung the dossal curtain on a wooden rod and mounted it on brackets on the wall:

The final product was used behind the altar of repose:

During Vespers, we lit the Paschal candle; we may have done things a little out of the ordinary, but there were only three of us present, and we're not talking! Generally, everything is "by the book" here, but there really wasn't a "book" to follow for our particular circumstances.

Here's how everything looked at the end:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.