Friday, March 28, 2008

Houston Cathedral Dedication

The dedication of our new Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston will be this Wednesday, April 2nd at noon. For television coverage details (or to watch on-line), check out KTRK-Channel 13, which will broadcast the entire ceremony. You might just see someone you know! (although I'm quite sure you won't see me, as I won't be there!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I just returned from serving as a judge for a middle-school speech competition in the area sponsored by a local organization. I had never judged competitions at this level -- it was an interesting experience :) These kids nowadays are a lot more ambitious than I was when I was in junior high!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Holy Week at the Dominican House of Studies

Tenebrae 2008 on Spy Wednesday

More videos, audio, and photos from Holy Week and Easter at the Dominican House of Studies courtesy of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph Vocations Blog.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Holy Father and Easter Vigil

Padre Z. discusses the contents of the Holy Father's Easter Vigil homily, in which, among many other things of significance, the Holy Father gives some theological starting points for liturgy and even worship ad orientem. Fr. Z. prefaces the Holy Father's remarks:
I have been maintaining that the Holy Father has a program, a vision for the Church. He is trying to revitalize our Catholic identity. I often refer to his "Marshall Plan", as I call it, for the Church. Just as Europe was devastated after the war and needed rebuilding, the Church and our identity as Catholics has been devastated over the last 40 or so years. We need rebuilding. For Benedict, liturgy is the key. It is the "tip of the spear" so to speak. Change our approach to liturgy and you change everything.

One of the most devastating changes after the Council was the widespread abandonment of ad orientem worship. Authors like Klaus Gamber, for whom Papa Ratzinger has such great respect, thought that changing our altars around was perhaps the most damaging change in the post-Conciliar reform. Sadly, the destruction of ad orientem worship was based on misuse of scholarship, surely, but most on ideological choices rooted in a hermeneutic of rupture and a ecclesiology which was little in harmony with our Catholic faith. The results for Catholic worship were viciously corrosive.

Pope Benedict has long written of the meaning and need for ad orientem worship. In practical terms he knows that we cannot force abrupt changes. We must be gentle in reintroducing it.

However, as we have been watching him during the last year or so reintroducing many traditional elements our Roman Rite into the full view of the world, including ad orientem worship in the Sistine Chapel, I think we can say that he thinks the time has come for more decisive moves.
Fr. Z is referring primarily, though not exclusively, to this section of the Holy Father's homily, which is particularly significant:
In the early Church there was a custom whereby the Bishop or the priest, after the homily, would cry out to the faithful: “Conversi ad Dominum” – turn now towards the Lord. This meant in the first place that they would turn towards the East, towards the rising sun, the sign of Christ returning, whom we go to meet when we celebrate the Eucharist. Where this was not possible, for some reason, they would at least turn towards the image of Christ in the apse, or towards the Cross, so as to orient themselves inwardly towards the Lord. Fundamentally, this involved an interior event; "conversion", the turning of our soul towards Jesus Christ and thus towards the living God, towards the true light. Linked with this, then, was the other exclamation that still today, before the Eucharistic Prayer, is addressed to the community of the faithful: “Sursum corda” – “Lift up your hearts”, high above the tangled web of our concerns, desires, anxieties and thoughtlessness – “Lift up your hearts, your inner selves!” In both exclamations we are summoned, as it were, to a renewal of our Baptism: "Conversi ad Dominum" – we must distance ourselves ever anew from taking false paths, onto which we stray so often in our thoughts and actions. We must turn ever anew towards him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We must be converted ever anew, turning with our whole life towards the Lord. And ever anew we must allow our hearts to be withdrawn from the force of gravity, which pulls them down, and inwardly we must raise them high: in truth and love. At this hour, let us thank the Lord, because through the power of his word and of the holy Sacraments, he points us in the right direction and draws our heart upwards. Let us pray to him in these words: Yes, Lord, make us Easter people, men and women of light, filled with the fire of your love. Amen.
Amen! But that said, be sure to read the homily in its entirety!
O felix culpa!
O certe necessarium Adae peccatum, quod Christi morte deletum est!
O felix culpa, quae talem ac tantum meruit habere Redemptorem!

O truly necessary sin of Adam, which the death of Christ has blotted out!
O happy fault, that merited such and so great a Redeemer!
The sublime contradiction, part of the Easter Exsultet - it strikes me now as it did when it was sung during the Easter Vigil in 1997 at which I was baptized and received into the Church. Only this year, hearing it sung in Latin was particularly haunting to me. How can I explain it?

Christus surrexit! Surrexit vere!


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