Monday, April 27, 2009

Bishop Serratelli's weekly column from 4/23/2009

As is usually the case for when I actually read the Bishop's weekly column I usually enjoy it and agree with what he has to say. The bold and italics are my additions for the most part there are a few I tried to bring over from the article. My comments are in the parentheses and are red.

Tolerance When Politics Reign Supreme

In 1878, President Hayes and his wife Lucy officially opened the White House grounds to the children for an egg roll event on Easter Monday. Except during the two World Wars, weather permitting, all the Presidents after Hayes have continued this tradition. Each Easter Monday, thousands of young people show up for this fun-filled event. Not only is it one of the oldest presidential traditions, it has become the largest annual event held at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In any event held at the White House, politics is never far from sight. This year, the first egg roll of the new administration was not any different. The souvenir egg was deliberately designed to signal concern for the environment. This certainly is part of the President’s agenda and not without merit. We are caretakers, not simply consumers, of the goods of this earth. (Exactly, we should care for the environment, but you don’t need to go overboard, God did create the Earth.) But there was a second innovation this year that carries with it a message that the White House wishes to give to the country. (One can only imagine what is it!)

The President enthusiastically welcomed the crowd. Mrs. Obama said, “Our goal today is just to have fun. We want to focus on activity, healthy eating. We've got yoga, we've got dancing, we've got storytelling, we've got Easter egg decorating, and we've got basketball, soccer as well.” But there was more to the event that just fun. It was a political statement made in bright colors. (Of course it was!)

The Washington Times (April 14, 2009) reported that same-sex parents wore rainbow-colored leis to the event. They were clearly drawing attention to their sexual orientation. What a sad situation. An event in which people of different religions, ethnic backgrounds and diverse moral convictions come together to have fun with the youngsters became a moment for some to push their agenda of changing the culture. (I wonder what would happen if I showed up wearing a Rock for Life or other Pro-life shirt, stating that abortion is murder, or one saying Proud to be Catholic, or even better one that said I’m a heterosexual, don’t know how much they would like that.)

But this was not a spontaneous demonstration on the part of the participants. It was orchestrated by the White House itself. (How sad, that the White House orchestrated it. I guess people would bitch and moan if something promoting a respect for life as in stopping abortion was started by the White House.) In a studied effort to make a statement about the future of marriage in this country, the White House allotted tickets for the event to gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples. Representatives from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other groups that promote same sex unions as equal to marriage reported that they had been encouraged to have their members come out to the event. (How disgraceful, and I know I’m going to sound bigoted and homo-phobic, but I’m not, you can live your life as you want, just live it chastely as all people are called to live and celibate, like all single are called to. Marriage is a sacrament and we need to start teaching it that way again and looking at it that way, it’s a calling, it won’t be easy and it’s all about just living with each other.)

Events like this are staged, organized and executed on the principle of tolerance. Today’s secular liberalism has espoused tolerance as its foundational truth. But secular liberals do not apply tolerance to every situation with equal zeal.

In the same week that the White House made a point of showcasing its gay- friendly agenda, the White House also issued a request to a Catholic institution that violates the very concept of tolerance. Before the President made his first speech as President at Georgetown, the prestigious Jesuit University, the White House, according to the Los Angeles Times, asked Georgetown University to cover all religious symbols (Guess Obama doesn’t like competition, or just can’t admit that he’s human, and that it doesn’t matter what is written above his head.) at the scene of the President's economic speech.

When President Obama gave his speech on economics on April 14, he spoke on a stage in Gaston Hall. Behind the place where the President stood, there is normally seen the monogram IHS. These letters are the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek. For the President’s speech, the university covered the letters. (It’s just sad how “Catholic” Universities have forgotten how to defend Christ and His Bride.)

Why is it acceptable that the President of the United States can be seen one day with gays and lesbians publicly displaying their convictions, but on the very next day cannot be seen in a Catholic institution with a symbol of its faith on display? (I wish I knew Bishop Serratelli, I wish I knew. It’s a good question that the Bishop puts forth, seems ironic that Obama can’t be tolerant when it comes to the Church.)

One can only wonder about the courage of an institution that hides the symbols of its own faith. Has the symbol lost its meaning? Does the institution value faith as the life-principle of its intellectual pursuit of truth? (This reminds of the first homily I heard Bishop Serratelli give. Seton Hall have the Bishop the honor of saying our Mass of the Holy Spirit, the opening Mass of the year. During his homily, Bishop Serratelli came and said WE NEED TO BE CATHOLIC, not just in our actions, but in how we teach as well. I am paraphrasing as the homily was a good nine or eight years ago, but I do remember how forceful and how poignant it was that the Bishop a professor at SHU was basically telling off his co-workers, and I was proud to call him Bishop then and still am today.)

The White House’s request for a Catholic university to hide a symbol of Catholicism in order to accommodate the presence of the President is a gross example of the intolerance that has infected the relationship of the State to the Church. (Quite true!) At the least, the university’s compliance with the request missed an opportunity to make a statement about a right understanding of tolerance. When partisan politics reign supreme, tolerance for opposing beliefs will quickly vanish. In a just society, tolerance cannot be a one way street.

+Arthur Serratelli

Well said Bishop, well said. He’s been quite on the Notre Dame situation but I’m thinking that might come out next week as I think this is a 2 part series on tolerance. I’m hoping he says something about Notre Dame, it’s not like him to be this quiet about something in the pro-life movement or something that can be used as teaching moment, he’s done it before.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Trip to Madison

Myself and two other adults took 6 of our "youth group teens" to visit our former pastor. I managed to meet the pastoral associate from St. Vincent as Fr. George had her come on our Women's Cornerstone retreat. With her help we were able to keep it a complete surprise and he had no clue to expect us. Samantha, one of the adults, and I were planning our own trip down to see him, and said to him in our recent e-mails hope to see you soon.

As Sam and I walked in first he wasn't too surprised, but one the 7 others came in the smile that came across his face was similar to one he has on in the above picture. I don't remember the last time I saw him smile like that, about a month after our Jubilee Mass for our 100th anniversary at which the above picture was taken, Fr. George was told he was being moved, so November, December, and January were not happy times in the parish. By a complete twist of God's insane humor Fr. George was actually coming to say the 12pm Mass at St. Anthony's, the Mass that Jerry, the other adult, and I are normally at. Fr. George laughed when I said, did you see that I took myself off the EM list for today.

To see his face go from, the classic emotion less face to a smile that couldn't be wiped off as well worth the trip down even if we knew he was coming up to us. He told us where he distributes Communion and that the 1st 4 rows for for the Communion kids, so we sat in the row right behind the Communion kids. Fr. George went to put his alb on and then came back to us. I think we honestly left him speechless and I'm pretty sure with tears in his eyes. He welcomed us as he does all who visit his parish, but we got the special greeting of "a delegation of youth from St. Anthony's." Despite focusing much of his attention on the teens and typical of myself I do the work and get no credit, it was well worth it. Fr. George is missed and most certainly will be for a while. We all commented on how strange it was to not have a deacon at Mass, our parish has 4, Fr. George's has none, and it was also strange to have a priest who chants. Fr. Martin and Fr. Brian both do not sing so in the idea of rather have it spoken than sung badly, they speak the normally chanted parts of the Eucharistic prayer.

Samantha and I happened to be walking around St. Anthony's after we got back, and happened to see our new pastor twice and he said hi girls, and Deacon Dick asked, what are you doing, as he had seen us in the Jubilee Garden and then again as we walked back. We said we were down in Madison this morning visiting the man saying Mass right now. Fr. Martin our pastor laughed and I was glad to see a smile on his face, it hasn't been an easy month for him. My goal now is to bring a smile to Fr. Martin's face. I want to finally have my "we need to talk" meeting with the pastor. With Fr. George leaving I didn't want to bother him with petty issues in the parish he was leaving, and Fr. Brian was just temporary administrator, so I waited to see the new pastor. Now I'm planning on asking/telling I'll take over running the Confirmation program and take young adult ministry from our youth minister, who just had her first child, and I'll take pro=life ministry over too, I just need a pay check. I'll gladly take a part time position so I can go to school courtesy of the Diocese of Paterson. We shall see what will happen and if I have the nerve to say anything.

I forgot to add that at the end of Mass someone turned to us and said "thanks for your pastor." We joked about it and said, yeah yeah it's not like we gave him up or wanted him to leave, you guys stole him from us, we did keep our comments to just our group. But it was nice to hear someone say thank you, I think I shall do the same for St. Ann's.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday

So now that it's almost a week away from Easter, I'll sit and blog about the homilies I heard. So I finished out the Triduum with the Vigil and was quite impressed with my new pastor. While not Fr. Brian's passionate take on the Eucharist and the Priesthood from Thursday night, it was a good homily. Fr. Martin and Fr. Brian are similar yet totally different.

Fr. Martin has seemed semi subdued in his homilies since arriving at the parish, however his homily from the Vigil caused me to remark "I think we got a glimpse of the real Fr. Martin tonight." It can not be easy for a man to pack his bags and leave everything he knew to come to a new country 41 years ago as was asked of Fr. Martin when he left Ireland to come to the States to serve the diocese as a priest, to be asked to do the same thing again shows how much the man loves the priesthood and reminds us of the vow of obedience. As I say the bishop says "jump" the priest responds with "how high?"

Fr, Martin started out his homily by telling us that he was strengthened in his own faith by us, the community of St. Anthony, coming out in great numbers on Palm Sunday, and the amount of people who came for the Triduum. The Church was not packed as it has been in the past but we did have a decent crowd at each of the sections of the Triduum. (Our parish is also 3 times the size if not 4 times the size of his old parish) Fr. Martin went on to thank those that help make the parish beautiful, the staff, Frank (who is in charge of the flowers and decoration of the church), music, servers, readers, Eucharist Ministers, and hospitality. Saved him from having the mention everyone at the end of the Mass, and it was nice to hear in the homily.

Fr. Martin went on to talk about those who have lost a loved one and how Easter is what reminds us that we are buried as a tired body, no soul... that death is a door way to the next life. He went into this by telling us a story of a 4 year old boy who was visiting the cemetery with his grandmother. As he started the story I turned to my friend Jerry and said oh "like Sean" as Fr. Martin mentioned that the young boy was running ahead of his grandmother. While running ahead of his grandmother the young boy stopped by a tombstone and started asking questions, "what's that, what does that say" The boy's grandmother explained that one part was the person's name, the other the date that person was born and the other date the day that person died. A bit further up the graveyard the young boy stopped at another tombstone and asked the same questions, the grandmother responded with the same answers expect this time, there was no date of death, this person was just thinking ahead. The little boy went home and was asked by his mother how he day was and the little boy answered with, "we went to the cemetery and there are people buried there that aren't even death yet." Of course the congregation laughed and
Fr. Martin moves on to how losing a loved one is hard and never easy but that we should remember that we are just a tired body when we are buried, that our souls go to Heaven to be with Jesus, Mary and the Saints, and saints.

Fr. Martin told a second story. He mentioned that we may not know but that he's a huge football fan and he spoke of how a few years ago, when the Giants weren't doing so well, some people took him to a game. He told of how he sat at the game surrounded by Giants fans and how he heard the Giant fans behind him cheering throughout the game. It was strange as the fans would cheer as the Giants would fumble the ball, which is of course not something you normally cheer for. Turns out that the fans behind Fr. Martin had their headphones on and were listening to the Yankee game and the Yankees were playing well in the playoffs. The church erupted in laughter. Fr. Martin finished up his homily with "in the same way that these fans were pumping their fists for their teams, we are to go and pump our fists for Jesus and proclaim that He is Risen."

So when Fr. Brian walked into the gym pumping his fist, I turned to Jerry and said, oh someone took last night's homily to heart. Fr. Brian looked at us like we were crazy but when we said, homily last night fist pumping, he laughed along with us. Easter Sunday was no different for Fr. Brian, he gave another kick ass homily. Like Fr. Martin he spoke of death and resurrection. Fr. Brian spoke of how Easter is reason death isn't bad. He started by having us take a moment of silence for those whom we knew who last in the last year, he had happened to lose his godmother this past year and his mom within 5 years. (Which makes me think that his mom died shortly after he was ordained, he speaks of how her proudest moment must have been when he was ordained, so she was alive for that.) Anyway, both homilies caused me to think of my friend, Katie, and how this would be her first Easter without her son, and then it made me think of her two aunts who had also lost children in the last two years.

After that reminder that Easter is what makes death not so bad, Fr. Brian focused on the Eucharist and that we should be there 52 Sundays not just Easter. He told us that Easter was the time to either commit or recommit to attending Sunday Mass. It was a very nicely put, get your ass to Mass, comment, and that is why I love Fr. Brian, he very nicely said to come to Mass, like you are supposed to. He tells you as it is and is offended if you don't agree.

He went on in his homily to speak about how at Easter "as the risk of sounding like a woman, I buy a new pair of shoes every year at Easter." Fr. Brian's shoes were nice and shiny so I assumed they were either polished or brand new. He spoke of how we should go get new shoes so that every time we put those shoes on we say, I'm going to be a better... priest, son, daughter, mother, father, friend, person. Fr. Brian then added in well in this economy maybe you can't afford new shoes, so get a new toothbrush and pray while brushing your teeth. Saying let no gossip or evil come out of my mouth.

The passion with which Fr. Brian speaks amazes me, like Archbishop Dolan (he's in my head because of his installation.) he is a happy man, a happy priest and that shows. With a last name of Sullivan, I'm assuming there is a fair bit of "Irishness" in him so he can be feisty you can say, but he always preaches to himself first and then the people. You will always hear him say, make me a better person, a better priest, us better people before he says ." make you a better person."

Fr. Brian's priesthood and personality have a tremendous gift to me, I just wish I was able to put it into words. I'm sure that Fr. Martin will have some influence on me in the coming years. I pray that both Fr. Brian and Fr. Martin are granted many years at St. Anthony's and that they continue to be great priests.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Archbishop Dolan

I'm working on my Easter Homilies post but for now I'm going to comment on Archbishop Dolan's installation.

Thanks to American Papist for the link to the picture stream from Archbishop Dolan's installation ceremonies.

These are in no particular order as there was no set order to the way the pictures came up on Yahoo.

In the first picture that comes up, Archbishop Dolan reminds of Cardinal O'Connor. Having lived 14 out of my almost 30 years in the Archdiocese of NY, Cardinal O'Connor was my bishop. I never truly realized what I had until after he died. My mom lays claim that Cardinal Cooke is from the same area of Galway that her family is that that quite possibly we are related. I was honored and grateful to see Cardinal Cooke be mentioned in Archbishop Dolan's homily. Cardinals Cooke and O'Connor were champions of the respect life movement, and it's nice to see their successor seems to have come out with guns ablazin'.

Watching the local New York media coverage of the Mass annoyed me, as I hate when the "reporters" talk about something when I just want to watch the Mass. They talked over the Psalm reminding us that the Hispanic population is growing with in the Church in NY. Channel 5's (the local fox station) annoyed me by not knowing the difference between a catherda and a cathedral. My mom pointed out that it could have been a simple mistake, and I said yes then the priest who was there could have said, it's the seat, the catherda, that allows Archbishop Dolan to speak laws, not the cathedral. I know that I know more than most Catholics so I caught that mistake, but again talking over the Psalm, not translating the readings that were not in English (maybe that was an oversight at the Mass booklet was available on line.

Anyway, having read Archbishop Dolan's homilies and seeing the press releases via the Archdiocese's web page and seeing AMDG and JMJ on the top page of the press release, makes me smile as I have hopes that Archbishop Dolan will not be quiet on matters of a "political" nature and that he will stand up for and defend Holy Mother Church, and I think he will do just that. I switched over to EWTN's live stream on the internet as I just couldn't take the talking over Mass, it was a beautiful ceremony and what I remember is how thankful, humble and sincere the Archbishop was. My mom and I watched the first 30 minutes of the replay on EWTN last night (we only get EWTN for a few hours a day) before it cut over to the Protestants and their "Praise You Jesus, send my church money" show. I had watched these 30s minutes via the local media and you missed a lot about Timothy Dolan. What you saw and heard was the new Archbishop standing watching nearly 900 priests walk past him and you heard him say time and time again "thank you brothers, thank you for being hear, I need you, pray for me." He even commented "what priest shortage" all this was missed because the local media cared about his fancy vestments, things he as to worry about, and commenting that he called the Cardinals and Bishops by their first name(really I don't hear my parish priests calling each other "father", they call each other by their first name, the same way we do with our family, yes it sounds strange to us, but really it was not worth pointing out.) I was deeply moved by how easily the Archbishop said thank you to his priests and how happy he is. He says that he wants to be a happy bishop and I think the pictures below show him to be just that a happy bishop.

The Archbishop asked in his editorial in the New York Daily News for us to pray for him. He asked parents and teachers to have children say a Haily Mary for him daily as he knows children's prayers are more powerful. I will attempt to pray daily for Archbishop Dolan and for the rest of the bishops including my own bishop, Arthur Serrateli, and the many priest who have entered and touched my life over the past 30 years.

In one of these pictures you see Archbishop Dolan reaching out to help the priest who happened to trip up the stairs, I think that speaks for the Archbishop's demeanor and character. I also notice what seems to be a very devout man who loves the ritual and traditions of Holy Mother Church.

WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD ARCHBISHOP DOLAN! May God bless you and grant you many years as the Archbishop of NY, and may that fiery Irish spirit that is within you hearken to the likes of Fulton Sheen, Terence Cooke and John O'Connor.

Archbishop Sheen, Terence Cardinal Cooke, John Cardinal O'Connor... pray for us!

Happy Birthday Holy Father


It does not seem like a year since Pope Benedict was here and I was at Mass at "Old Yankee Stadium" May God continue to bless Pope Benedict with good health and energy for many years to come. :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pictures of St. Anthony's during Holy Week

I decided to take pictures of the church during Holy week, mainly Palm Sunday and the Triduum. Our decorations for lent are what you see for Palm Sunday, just take away any thing red or that is a plant. Maybe next year as long as I have permission from my pastor and vicar, maybe I'll take more pictures during the actual services. Most of these shots were taking in my rather quick, let me get the picture and run type attitude. Our church is always decorated wonderfully no matter the season, and Frank puts an awful lot of work and thought into it. It's a large post, feel free to click on the pictures to see the larger image. It amused me to no end that I managed to find 5 pictures from each service to put up here, as that is all I was allowed to upload at once.

Some shots of St. Anthony's on Palm Sunday.

Shots from St. Anthony's on Holy Thursday. Since it was during Adoration that I was taking the pictures I took them without the flash so as to not disturb anyone. The second picture is of the altar stripped, it struck how beautiful our altar is without anything on it. I doubt the picture will do it justice. The forth picture is our Garden of Gethsemane and is always beautifully set up. The last picture was from where I sat during Adoration, pretty much the last pew of the church, and I don't know but my eyes kept going over to the cross vs. the tabernacle that was in front of me.

Shots of St. Anthony's on Good Friday. I took the pictures without a flash as so to not disturb anyone. The last picture was the set up for our Tenebrae service.

Some shots of St. Anthony's at Easter. The last picture is the altar in the gym. We have an overflow Mass at 12:15 this way the church crowd isn't out the door at teh 12pm Mass.

Good Friday 2009

Fr. Martin gave our temporary vicar Fr. Marek the Good Friday service. Fr. Marek gave a very nice homily, but I don't remember it. All that means is that it didn't touch me the way other homilies have and part of that is the Polish accent Fr. Marek has. In the 2 months that Fr. Marek has been at the parish we have been truly blessed to have him and Good Friday reminded me of this.

Fr. Marek is ordained at most 5 years, he was born and raised in Poland so the traditional Catholic shows. He says Mass with the utmost reverence and care. I happened to find out that he could chant when he chanted some of the prayers on Palm Sunday. In my mind since he can chant it made him the logical choice for Good Friday. Hearing Fr. Marek chant the general intercessions brought me back to the days when my family would go to the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion at our parish in the Bronx. Fr. Dervin would always do the chanting at our parish in the Bronx so it brought back some good memories.

It was nice to have the Good Friday service done simply with no extras attached to it, it helped one to focus on what really happened on Good Friday. Fr. Marek's chanting is what touched me that day, because it has been nearly 16 years since I've heard it done correctly if at all. By extras I mean our former pastor, Fr. George, and our cantor Cindy singing the intersessions or whatever they used to do. It was nice to have the simple traditional old school style service.

Our parish has been blessed to have Fr. Marek for these past few weeks, and I understand it is up to Fr. Martin whether or not Fr. Marek stays. If he stays he stays, if he goes he goes, but I'm glad I was able to meet him and get to know him. It's nice to see a young priest who is so traditional.

Holy Thursday 2009

My former pastor, Fr. George, and my current pastor, Fr. Martin, seem to be similarly minded when it comes to the Triduum. They each hand different parts of it to the vicars at the parish, both gave Fr. Brian the Mass of the Lord's Supper, Fr. George last year, and Fr. Martin this year. Much like last year Fr. Brian did not disappoint.

I have always liked Fr. Brian, and he just keeps getting better and better, I said many times I love him, and I truly do. Fr. Brian aka FB is one of the "later vocations" as in he was ordained at age 40 vs. age 25. He speaks simply and sincerely and doesn't hold back, he tells you to get your ass to Mass, not in those words but that's what he means,and he will say point blank this is what it's about, Mass is important.

It's been a few days since the homily so here's hoping the homily pointers I left myself will jog my memory. Fr. Brian started his homily by reminding us that Holy Week calls us to be holy, and that it allows us to ask what makes us holy, how can I be holy, why am I Catholic, what makes me Catholic, and how can I be Catholic. Each question can be easily answered by the Eucharist, and that's what Fr. Brian told us. He mentioned how do I stay Catholic, considering that we became Catholic at our Baptism, and I all I could think of was my Top Ten Reasons to STAY Roman Catholic t-shirt. I kept thinking is he going to mention my shirt, but he didn't he just answered all the questions with The Eucharist is what makes us Catholic and we need to live the Eucharist.

How does one live the Eucharist he asked or how does one be Catholic; by doing more than just showing up. Fr. Brian came right out and said how about you send a letter over to Fr. Jenkins at Notre Dame and tell him it's wrong to have a person speak at a Catholic college who think abortion is right. It goes against what we stand for. Fr. Brian put it much better, but the smile that came on my face as soon as he said send a letter to Fr. Jenkins had to be seen by him. If it would have been appropriate to stand up and cheer for a homily I think I would have. But Fr. Brian didn't just stop there he went on to tell us to defend marriage, true marriage between a man and a woman, and to defend traditional family life.

As I said last year the passion with which he speaks is amazing, and it's heartfelt. Fr. Brian went on the give examples of the priesthood and how our former pastor Fr. George gave of himself in many ways, most notably by giving a kidney to his sister Jeanine (who was at Mass that night with us vs. being at her brother's new parish, and by saying yes to the bishop. "It broke his heart to have to leave this parish, but he said yes like he has done throughout his priesthood." Without missing a beat Fr. Brian pointed out that Fr. Martin did the same thing by saying yes to the bishop and accepting the position at St. Anthony's. After 27 years Fr. Martin left his parish family and came to us, Fr. Brian of course added his humor into it by saying, he does have to live me with now and that's not easy.

Typical of Fr. Brian he does what the rubrics calls for, he preached on the Eucharist and the priesthood. He pointed out that each of the deacons have taken their own ministries up, be it baptismal prep, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick or welcoming people into Church and how they too are living their vocations.

Mass continued as normal for Holy Thursday. Fr. Brian likes things simple as he has pointed out to us, so that is how the washing of the feet happened. 12 people came forward after the 12 chairs were placed for them, Fr. Brian took of his chasuble and stole got down on his knees and washed feet. I don't remember if it was during his homily or if I read it somewhere, but I think it was during Fr. Brian's homily, where we were reminded that the King of Kings, the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity got down on His knees and washed dirty smelly feet and we are called to Christ to others, we may not have to wash feet, but we need to be Christ to others. It was during Fr. Brian's homily that I heard it because I can hear him saying it.

It was a beautiful start to the Triduum, and I am truly blessed and quite happy to have such wonderful priests at my parish and in my life.