Friday, March 16, 2007

God in Cyberspace

God in Cyberspace
I have discovered a number of sites on the internet that may interest you. I once mentioned That is a site run by the Irish Jesuits that offers online guided meditations. It is quite good even though I did not find it personally helpful. The English Jesuits have come up with what I consider a much better site, This site has guided meditations for MP3 players (e.g., Ipod). They are ten to fifteen minutes long, starting with the ringing of a bell, the traditional call to prayer. Then follows some soft music and an introduction to the theme for the day. A reading from the daily Mass follows, and then some more music, with a few brief reflections interspersed. The reading is repeated, and the meditation ends. It is designed for busy people who want to use travel time to pray. I have been using it for the past few weeks, and found it quite helpful. The speakers have what sounds to me like a London accent that I find mildly distracting.

The sites run by priests on the internet did not impress me, with one exception. Fr. Stanislao, an Italian born priest now in a Parish in Delaware, has a website, He has a link to his podcast, The Daily Walk Heavenwards, that you can find on his site or on Itunes. He has a recording of his previous Sunday’s homily; I think he is a good preacher. He also has the Focolare’s Word of Life recorded.

The Carmelites from the Midwest have a podcast, Meditations from Carmel I found it on Itunes. It is a brief (two or three minutes) reading from one of the Carmelite spiritual writers. This is a rich spiritual tradition.

Just a few days ago I discovered the American Jesuits have a rather large site specializing in Jesuit meditations and retreats, There you will find a wealth of material, retreats, Stations of the Cross, meditations, talks. I have just begun exploring the resources available there.

There is a lot more than just this. As you explore the vast resources of the internet you will find a lot of junk, a lot that is not good. But there is also a wonderful opening for promoting the Good News of Jesus Christ. I am sure St. Paul would have been on the internet all the time had it existed in his day. Come to think of it, he should be the patron saint of bloggers, podcasters, and internet mavens.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Latin Mass

Latin Mass
I was ordained in 1959. My first Mass was in Latin, with my back to the people. My whole experience of Mass up to that point, and beyond, was in Latin. Hence I know what the traditional rite was like.
I am amazed how people have such romatic notions about Mass in Latin. Has everyone forgotten the famous "ten minute Masses" that some priests were noted for? They could easily say Mass in ten minutes or less by simply omitting large portions, or slurring rapidly over the text. Since no one could understand him anyway, no one noticed. Most people were busy saying the rasary or novenas.
I remember saying Mass in Latin at 5:00 or 6:00am, half asleep. It was far from a spiritual experience. The Latin liturgy in the great cathedrals, or on special occasions was splendid; or ordinary days it was a drudge, of the worst sort. I for one do not want to go back to the "good old days" that never really were that good.
I can say Mass in Latin; I can also say Mass in Spainish. For a reason I would. To satisfy someone's misplaced nostalgia is not a good enough reason for me.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Women Priests

Women priests in the Catholic Church
I came across the following interesting article:
YONKERS - Polls generally show that 50 percent to 60 percent of Roman Catholics in the United States believe that women should be eligible for the priesthood.

Sister Sara Butler understands this impulse - because she once felt the same way. In 1978, she headed a task force of the Catholic Theological Society of America that came out in support of female priests.

But as she continued her work as an increasingly prominent theologian, her thinking began to change. Now, in a new book - "The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church" - she attempts to explain the underpinnings of the all-male priesthood to doubters and skeptics who think the way she used to.

"The tradition is traced to the will of Christ, not to decisions made by the church," Butler said last night at St. Joseph's Seminary, where she has taught for four years.

The church's teachings must be better explained, she said, because many Catholics see the all-male priesthood as a symbol of patriarchal power and sexism, and many more who stay silent are probably befuddled.

"Their confidence in the church's teaching authority has been badly eroded," she said.

Several hundred priests, nuns, seminarians and lay visitors greeted Butler with sustained applause, a measure of their respect for her and their approval of the church's position.

Critics of the all-male priesthood were in short supply.

Butler made Catholic history two years ago when she became one of the first two women appointed to the Vatican's International Theological Commission, an influential group that advises the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

"This appointment places Sister Sara among the highest-ranking women in our church today," Monsignor Peter Finn, rector of the seminary, said when introducing her.

Butler made the case last night that the all-male priesthood is grounded in Jesus' choice of 12 male apostles and the Catholic Church's sustained understanding of what this meant for the priesthood.

"The answer is discovered in a tradition of practice that is traced back to the Lord's choice of the 12," she said.

To change the church's traditional understanding of the priesthood, she said, would be to change the priesthood itself and disconnect the church from the apostles, ending what Catholics believe to be their church's God-given power to teach.

...Polls continue to show that Catholics are divided. But Cardinal Francis George of Chicago hopes that Butler's book will alter the conversation. "If this book is well used," he writes in a blurb, "it will change the presently sterile discussion of who can be ordained to the Catholic priesthood."

Saturday, March 10, 2007


At the moment I am exploring the possibility of podcasting. It looks interesting and possible. I have to think whether I am willing to commit the time and effort it would involve.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Anointing of the sick

Anointing of the sick

One of the best things that came out of the Second Vatican Council has been a renewed appreciation of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. It languished for many years in the desert known as “Last Rites.” A misunderstanding consigned the Sacrament to those who were breathing their last. I remember being very distressed as a young priest when I would visit a sick person to bring them the Sacraments and to comfort them; they looked at me in terror, seeing me as the angel of death, coming with Last Rites.

Now we are in a different age. The sacrament is for the sick, in a very broad sense. Who can receive it? Well, in the first place, I can. I have no specific illness, certainly no life threatening illness of which I am aware. I simply suffer from the effects of more than seven decades of my pilgrimage through life. The aches and pains that go along with that journey certainly qualify me, and anyone over sixty five, to receive the sacrament. Those preparing for an operation are eligible. Those who are seriously ill for one reason or another should also receive the Sacrament.

There is another type of illness, serious and often overlooked. Persons with mental or emotional problems, anxiety, depression, and various psychological illnesses are all eligible to receive this sacrament. There are people who struggle with addictions, alcohol, nicotine, drugs; they too should receive this sacrament.

Very young children who would neither appreciate nor understand the sacrament should not receive it, nor should those with some simple, temporary illnesses, like a cough or a cold.

Friday, March 2, 2007


I came across a comment recently that impressed me. Prayer is giving God the opporunity o talk to me.
Prayer for me is so often talking to God, explaining things to Him and so on. I suppose I should just stop and listen more often.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Recently I mentioned that Vatican Radio has a podcast of radio clips. In one of the podcasts, called “Godcast,” they spoke about religious podcasting. The person interviewed was Fr. Roderick, at SQPN, described as “the best in Catholic podcasting. The site has a lot of material and connections to podcasts. It is worth checking out. The Catholic presence in podcasting is minimal at the present time, but growing. Cardinal Justin Rigali, in all his cardinalatial splendor, is on YouTube, with a message about Lent. Even though I am baffled why that program is so popular, I did watch His Eminence and his two minute message.