Thursday, March 31, 2016

Annual Post Pascha Depression

Last year, I wrote about “Post Pascha Depression”. It’s happening again this year!

I haven’t been in my parish for Holy Week in years. That means I have to find someone to do the requisite antependium changes in my absence. Each year, the same man has done it, but this year he declined. I found another friend, who is an acolyte, to help me. It was a pretty simple change, and he was quite willing to take responsibility for it.

There was a glitch, though. During the Palm Sunday Mass, I was sitting with my little 10-year-old friend in the choir loft, along with two women who were taking care of the music. (This is problematic in itself; it was Palm Sunday, and the Bishop was presiding, since this is the Cathedral parish. There was no deacon; there was no choir; there was no sense of being the Cathedral parish!)

During the Our Father, one of the women approached me to say that she wanted a different “altar cover” on the altar for Easter. I basically tried to brush her off…we were supposed to be praying the “Our Father”!

On Easter Sunday afternoon, I received an email from my acolyte friend who had agreed to take care of the altar. He told me that he had stripped the altar on Holy Thursday and placed the antependium in a place where it would not wrinkle, but that when he returned on Saturday morning to replace it, someone had put it in a drawer and put something else on the altar. He didn’t know what to do, so he told Father, who said it would be okay.
I went to check on things today, and saw that the altar was vested like this:

Couldn't she at least have pressed it?! The only saving grace of this altar cover is that it matches the chasubles that the priests and bishop wear when they concelebrate at the Cathedral. Personally, I think the chasubles should also be scrapped.

I put on the one we’ve been using, which I think is much more appropriate. Yes, I’m the one who made it, but that is not why I want to use it. I want to use it because it is more traditional, and more likely to inspire awe and reverence for the altar, which is Christ! So now, once again, the altar looks like this: 

The woman who stepped in to have her own way basically exchanged a King’s majestic robe for a dowdy (though very well-made) carpenter’s apron! And she has no idea why that’s a problem. She has no idea that she should have at least asked Father’s permission. Also, she was one of the two musicians for Palm Sunday, and they clearly had no idea about appropriate music for Mass. They did not choose outlandish ditties (thanks be to God!), but they chose a Gloria with a refrain (not permitted!), and an Agnus Dei that started out “Jesus, Lamb of God…” for each line. The addition of the name of Jesus is also not permitted!
The depressing thing is that no one with any authority will correct this woman. Neither the bishop nor the parish priest seems to have any desire to make our worship conform to the mind of the Church! At least, they do not seem willing to inform the parishioners who take care of such things about what is appropriate and what is not. How will they ever know, if even the bishop will not say something? The woman who made the unilateral decision to change the antependium is not young. She’s in her 70’s. She should know better; but she doesn’t. I don’t think it’s really her fault. Even if she had a sense of awe and reverence for the liturgy prior to Vatican II and the advent of the Novus Ordo, she’s had decades of “un-learning”; people have be indoctrinated to believe that we’re all about hugs and handshakes and felt banners rather than true beauty and reverent liturgical worship.

It’s a shame that this is so. The people of our parish could be helped to grow spiritually in a very meaningful way if only the bishop and the pastor would teach them.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Triduum Photos

As always, it was a very holy Holy Week at my favorite retreat spot. A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, so here are a few photos to show you what it was like.

First, the was sunny, and it was cloudy. It was spring-like, and there was snow:


Tenebrae each morning:

Holy Thursday Altar of Repose:

Only one last minute project, which was pretty easy to accomplish: a cover for the crucifix (two were needed, actually):

 Good Friday:

On Holy Saturday, we again had to forego the Paschal Vigil Mass, for lack of servers, but we did have a reverent and solemn Vespers, at which the water was blessed, the Paschal candle was blessed, and the Exultet was sung.

Easter Sunday! The tabernacle was not veiled at the beginning, because the Blessed Sacrament was not present. After Mass, the tabernacle was veiled.

 I particularly like this chasuble, although I have yet to get a good photo of it.

Later that night, I spend some time before Our Lord in the darkened chapel:

And here is my own chapel:

Happy Easter!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


My annual "retreat" to my favorite place begins tomorrow. I put "retreat" in quotes because I don't really consider it a retreat. There are few of us in attendance at the Triduum liturgies, and so there is a lot for everyone to do. Besides that, there are usually a few last-minute projects to complete; a couple of weeks ago, I asked the priest-in-charge if we might think ahead a little and avoid the last minute rush. He just said, "Killjoy!"

But this is my favorite time of the liturgical year. We will have to forego the Paschal Vigil Mass again this year due to lack of servers, but the Office of Vespers/Vigils we will pray is an acceptable substitute. And of course, there will be Tenebrae!

In the past few weeks, I have still been very busy with antependia and such. Finally, every project was completed, but then there were the step-grandchildren-to-be to look after for a few days here and there. That is rewarding "work", but it is not exactly restful! 

I do have another project in the works: a funeral pall. Lots of black fabric...

It's looking very much like spring here, and that's nice, but it has still been cloudy and rainy, and I'm really ready for some sunshine. I try to see the gloomy weather as another penance for Lent. 

Speaking of penance, and of "offering up" the little pains of right shoulder has bothered me for years, and keeps getting worse. It became very painful and my range of motion was severely restricted a couple of months ago. I wanted to just offer it up for the salvation of souls - especially for a couple of souls very close to me! But finally, I felt I could not go on with that way, and decided I should see a doctor and consider surgery if necessary. 

Then I did a little on-line research and found some exercises that were recommended for my symptoms. I started to do them, and noticed a difference in 24 hours. Now, I really don't believe the exercises could have had that kind of result so quickly! Instead, I wondered if Our Lord saw my desire to suffer for souls, and also saw that I wasn't able to bear much suffering! So He gave me some relief, bringing the discomfort down to a level I could tolerate. That's how I like to look at it anyway. I'm happy with the improvement, and also happy that I still have enough discomfort to "offer up".

I hope you have a spiritually fulfilling Triduum!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Pray for Your Loved Ones

I don't think I've ever posted a "Vortex" episode here before, but I do watch this show daily (along with "The Download"). 

This Vortex is a little's not about the evils and failings of our leaders, per se, but rather about the importance of praying for the souls of those we see "slouching into hell". It's about the importance of being willing to make a sacrifice for the salvation of souls. What I really like is MV's point that we don't get to the point of being able to sincerely and selflessly make that kind of sacrifice without a lot of spiritual work and God's grace.

Here's the episode. Pray for your loved ones. [I've updated to include the transcript, below.]

Many of you, many of us, have family and loved ones who — let's face it — are on their way to Hell. Despite the load of garbage spewing out of the Church of Nice that we have a reasonable hope that all men are saved, we know deep down that there isn't a ring of truth to that.

We know that people do not go to Heaven who are indifferent or lukewarm toward the Faith. Our Blessed Lord Himself tells us He will vomit the lukewarm from His mouth. Same is true of those hostile to the Faith; live in opposition to the Holy Catholic Faith, and a person dies forever in opposition to God. And this is true even if we love the person. Our love for them does not cancel out their indifference toward God.

The reality for many people is that their loved ones are not directly hostile toward God. They don't walk around actively cursing Him and carrying on with great drama. They simply live lives of great indifference to God. It could be termed that they are slouching into Hell. They are lazily, slothfully, strolling along, walking down a long and winding path — with emphasis on "down."

Many of you have spoken to your loved ones — children, siblings, grandchildren — and no matter what you say, nothing seems to get through. Not only is it frightening on a supernatural level, it's almost maddening on just a natural level. Why are they so unconcerned? Why won't they listen to you?

The bottom line is because they have rejected the grace of the call to conversion. They more than likely care on some level, but not enough to have remorse and then repent. And next to nothing you will say will engender a change — nothing you will say. But something you do might engender a change.

You must pray for something to crash into their lives and awaken them to the supernatural peril into which they placed their souls. This isn't to say that you need to pray for a calamity to strike; but you should pray that whatever needs to happen does happen — even if it does have the outward appearance of being "bad."

However "bad" it may be, it will be nowhere near as bad as their being damned. And this kind of prayer requires enormous strength on your part; it requires a sacrifice of great proportion.

In my own case, my mother, Anne, prayed for my brother Marshall and me: "Jesus, I don't care what you do to me. Do whatever you have to do, but spare the eternal lives of my two sons."

As many of you know, doctors discovered the very earliest stages of cancer in her stomach after she prayed that prayer. But it takes a spiritual Hercules to utter a prayer like that and mean it. The back story on that prayer was all the preceding years of prayer my mother made to get to a point, to arrive at a spiritual point of strength, where she could make that final prayer.

For many years my mother prayed for her two sons. She grew frustrated at Our Lord's seeming indifference; she even scolded Him from time to time for not listening to her. Irish mom, you know; not much in the way of patience there.

The point is: Even the one offering the sacrifice and prayers must themselves be prepared to offer an even more efficacious sacrifice. All those years, and what I'm certain was thousands of rosaries, were storing up in my mom a warehouse of graces, even though she had no "feeling" of it.  

She knew on some intellectual level that God would answer her prayers, but she seldom felt that way — which is another reason Catholics do not move on our emotions, but on our intellectual certitude.

And then one day ,moved by grace, she just lost it and prayed the perfect sacrificial prayer: I don't care about myself; use me to save them.

She has crossed the spiritual Rubicon, and now her great sacrifice was ready, prepared by all those years of suffering in frustration and grumbling and irritation — and love. My mother was indeed a St. Monica, and this is what we must all pray to become on behalf of souls.
It is not enough to pray for someone's salvation; we must pray that we can stand in their place and bear some of the cost of their sins. What is a sacrifice, after all, other than an exchange, where one thing is traded for another. Our Blessed Lord Himself showed us the way — literally.

This kind of heroism is not usually available by just the simple asking. In my mother's case, she had to be prepared to come to this point of truly sacrificial prayer. We must pray to be brought to this point as well. We must not just comprehend the power of sacrifice, we must desire to be sacrificed for the love of souls.

Never give up on your children's salvation. Never lose your hope. But do ask, pray to become a living sacrifice for souls — your loved ones, and others.

While the Church was built on the blood of the martyrs, it is sustained through the sacrifices of each generation of martyrs — red martyrs and white martyrs.

The Cross is the key — as it has always been.