Friday, February 28, 2014

Holding Hands

Today I would like to talk about our posture and gestures during the celebration of the Mass.   The General Instruction of the Roman Missal directs us on what we should be doing during the different parts of the Mass.  This document is important for the simple fact that we can truly worship in unison throughout the entire world.

What is the GIRM?

The GIRM is an acronym for the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. It is the handbook for how to celebrate the Mass. While it’s not the only resource, most questions about the Mass can be answered by the GIRM.

It covers such things like the structure of the Mass, its elements and parts; postures, processions and gestures; silence and singing; liturgical furnishings; the role of the deacon, liturgical ministers, and laity, and much more.

The GIRM provides instruction for how to celebrate the Mass throughout the world. That’s why you can walk into Mass anywhere in the world and recognize certain elements . . . no matter the language, no matter the cultural norms.

Why is the GIRM important?

This sums it up: “Liturgy is a prayer like no other. It is the source and summit of our life as Catholic Christians. So let our words and actions, our prayers and music, our worship spaces and liturgical furnishings and art, be worthy of the profound mystery we celebrate.”(

Now, what does the manual directs us to do when we pray the Our Father during Mass?  Well, we are to stand, but nowhere is it explained that we are to hold hands.  Hence, the proper posture that we ought to hold is to stand and pray.  Since there is no direct explanation that we are not to hold hands, it is generally accepted to allow individual church traditions to be continued in regards to holding hands while we pray the ‘Our Father’.  It is not condemned but neither is it condoned.

While holding hands is allowed please don’t go doing acrobatics just so you can hold the hand of the gentleman in the other pew or to go on tapping the lady’s shoulder that’s standing next to you when she doesn’t extend her hand to hold yours.

Personally, I would like us to refrain from doing extraneous gestures that are not specifically spelled out for us to do in our official Manual on how to properly celebrate Mass.

God Bless

Sunday, February 16, 2014

To Veil

The following is an excerpt from:

Throughout history it has been common for women to wear head coverings. This is something that has precedent in St. Paul’s epistles (see 1 Cor. 11:2-16).

It was mandated in the 1917 Code of Canon Law. Canon 1262 states:

1. It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church.

2. Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.

This is something that fell gradually into disuse.

In the 1970s there was a judgment issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a document titled Inter Insigniores that basically stated that since chapel veils were not a matter of faith, it was no longer mandatory for women to wear them. In paragraph 4 it states:

It must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1 Cor. 11:2-16); such requirements no longer have a normative value.

You can read the whole document:

In the 1983 Code of Canon Law—the one in effect today—the canon about head veils was not re-issued. Now, you might be thinking, “Well, just because they didn’t reissue it doesn’t mean that it’s not still in effect, right?” Wrong.

Canon 6 of the current code states that all subsequent laws that are not reissued in the new code are abrogated:
Can. 61. When this Code goes into effect, the following are abrogated:
1. the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;
2. other universal or particular laws contrary to the prescriptions of this Code, unless particular laws are otherwise expressly provided for;

3. any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See, unless they are contained in this Code;

4. other universal disciplinary laws dealing with a matter which is regulated ex integro by this Code.


While it is not obligatory for women to wear mantillas, I personally think they’re a beautiful and elegant way to show reverence for Christ. If you’re a woman contemplating wearing one, let me encourage you to go ahead and give it a try!—just my two cents.

To learn more about the mantilla, check out the site “Will You Mantilla With Me.” found at: A woman’s perspective.  Here’s an excerpt:

Why do Catholic women wear the mantilla?
Rejecting the “culture of cool”
On any given Sunday at any Catholic church in the US, UK, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, one is likely to see women and girls dressed in halter-necks, strapless dresses, shorts, super-tight jeans, and mini-skirts. Depending on the weather, one might also find flip-flops or ugg boots. In our parish, the extraordinary ministers sometimes choose to hand out communion in their sneakers, velour tracksuits and the occasional fanny-pack.

What does this say about the church? What does this say about our faith?


The reason we no longer dress well for mass is the same reason that 90% of US Catholics don’t bother to show up for mass at all: it just isn’t that important to us anymore.

Making an effort for love of God

Dressing well for mass is an external manifestation of the belief that what we are doing is important: it says that we care. It is representative of the respect we have for the other members of our parish. More importantly, however, it is also a sign of our respect for God in the Blessed Sacrament.


The same reasoning applies to the mantilla. It isn’t mandatory for us to veil. But we can if we want to. This applies to the novus ordo as much as it does to the extraordinary form. And if we truly believe that Christ is actually present before us in the Eucharist, then why wouldn’t we?


The importance of external acts of faith

External acts can orient as well as express our inner thoughts and disposition. This is why our mass (in both forms) is so rich in ritual and posture. These “externals” help keep our minds where they should be - on the mass and on Our Lord in the Eucharist. Veiling can do the same.


Ask yourself, why it is that brides still wear veils on their wedding day? One reason is that the veil indicates the solemnity of the occasion. It is a reminder that - for her - this day is unlike any other. It is also a physical sign of the gift of self that she intends to make through the Sacrament of Marriage. Both of these reasons (whether conscious or not) transform the bride’s veiling from being purely about the aesthetics into something else. Although she is the center of attention, her choice of garment, color and veil sends a message to those around her: “when you look at me and see my veil, remember that I am here to participate in something greater and bigger than myself.”


Some women choose to veil in church for the same reasons. The veil is a reminder that this place and moment in time is unlike any other and should be observed as such. It is also a sign of the spiritual gift of self that the woman intends to make to Our Lord during the mass and as she prays before the tabernacle.


In imitation of Mary

Other women choose to veil in imitation of the Blessed Virgin. They seek to follow her example of humility, modesty and purity - as well as the Jewish custom of covering one’s head - when they are near our Lord in the Tabernacle.


Why do I veil?
I veil because it matters to me that I am before God. I veil as an external manifestation of my belief that Christ is really present in the Eucharist. I veil because it helps me to be more reverent. I veil as an act of humility before God. I veil because I believe. I veil because I care. 

God Bless

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Visibility of the Church

Jesus came here to build His Church when He said: “…and on this rock I shall build my Church.” (Matt 16:18).  But what kind of Church did He come here to build?  Is it visible?  Is it authoritative?  Or is it simply the conglomeration of all Christian believers no matter what one ultimately believes is doctrinally true?

In concert with His Redemptive act, Jesus did three things that established the framework of His Church.  First, He chose humans to carry out His work.  The Evangelists represent Christ as gathering numerous disciples, but as selecting twelve from their number to be His companions in a special manner.  To them He reveals the more hidden parts of His doctrine (Matt 13:11 “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given). 

Second, He sends them as His deputies to preach the kingdom, and bestows on them the power to work miracles.  These men, these leaders in the Church, were given the promise of being lead into all truth when determining what is eternally True, ie doctrines (John 16:13 “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.)  In effect, Jesus gave Peter and the Apostles the power and authority to carry out His work (Matt 18:18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”)  We know this because we know that nothing in heaven can bound that which is untrue, therefore whatever the Apostles bind on earth must be guided by the Holy Spirit that whatever they bind must be true in heaven as well.

And so, if a disagreement arises between believers on what is true, we are to go to the Church to settle the matter.  In fact, it is quite plain this is the case when we look a little closer at the context of this latest passage.   Jesus teaches us that when one believer sins against another that we are to go to him alone and tell him his fault, if he won’t listen to you then bring two or three brothers so that witnesses can testify to this so that every word may be confirmed by two or three others.  But if he won’t listen to all of you then you are to go to the Church.   Tell the church, but which church?  The Church must be visible if we are to GO TO THE CHURCH.

You see, Jesus did not build an abstract and invisible Church.

- John 17: 20,21,23 “"I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. 

The world has to see, but the world does not see with spiritual eyes; therefore, it must be visible.  Matthew 5:14 makes the visibility of the Church quite clear as well.  He says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden

Since an invisible church of all believers would include people from every denomination, either doctrine does not matter or conflicting doctrine is okay.  So does doctrine matter?

Third, Jesus established one church, which is visible and united in mind and doctrine.

-Acts 4:32 “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.

Believers were of one heart and one soul


- 1 Cor 1:10 “I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.

No dissensions, same mind and judgment

- Philippians 1:27 “conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel”

One mind, one spirit

-John 17:22-23 “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

Christians should be one as Jesus and the Father are one.  We are to be one as He and the Father are one SO THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW.  The world doesn’t see with spiritual eyes.  The world sees us on what we believe, those who believe as one are as a city set on hill.  This city is the Church and this Church has authority.  We know this because the church is the pillar, or protector, and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). 

But which church do we go to get the fullness of truth?  Which one do we choose: the Catholic Church, the 10 or 12 Orthodox Churches or the 25,000 plus Protestant denominations?  We need to go to the one which has been visible and settling disputes between believers in councils for 2000 plus years.  The only church which can claim this to be true is the Catholic Church.


God Bless


Monday, February 3, 2014

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty has been on our minds a lot lately. The HHS mandate, same-sex marriage initiatives, and recently, the Duck Dynasty controversy with television network A&E, have put the issue squarely before us. In late December, CNA published an article about Camille Paglia, a 1960’s generation “feminist lesbian professor” who is reported to have “harshly criticized” A&E’s decision to suspend Phil Robertson because it violates the right of free speech.

What has occasioned this brief note on religious liberty is Paglia’s denunciation that some gay activists in this country have fallen into “fanaticism.” She also states, “that this intolerance … toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility.” Her reason for these indictments is striking: “in a democratic country, people have the right to be homophobic as well as they have the right to support homosexuality [emphasis mine].” In other words, a democracy should tolerate every moral conviction, even if it is wrong, as she evidently condemns homophobia to be. Such a claim goes well beyond the issue of free speech, touching more upon the rights of religiously informed moral beliefs within the public square, which is actually a question of religious liberty.

One may ask, however, why CNA reported on Paglia’s public outcry in the first place? Was it to demonstrate that even a self-acclaimed libertarian-styled feminist stands with us in protecting our right to believe as we do? It’s hard to say. What seems clear is that the CNA article could lead unwitting Catholics to conclude that the basis upon which the Church defends religious liberty (or freedom of speech for that matter) is the moral equivalency, within a democratic order, of every conviction. In today’s American context of “tolerance in the name of moral relativism,” it is easy to mistake the Catholic understanding of the right to religious liberty (i.e. freedom of conscience and speech in matters of faith) for Paglia’s position. This is a confusion many Catholics have today—as is evident by the widespread sympathy among self-described Catholics for the cause of same-sex marriage and the HHS mandate.

This confusion is easy to understand given the cultural climate in which we live. This is why a clarification is in order. Let’s begin with the HHS mandate. Against this the Church is defending her right on the grounds that the state has no authority to force anyone—individually or institutionally—to act against religious conviction (conscience) by cooperating in the morally illicit acts of sterilization, contraception, and abortion. With same sex-marriage, the Church does not recognize the authority of government to change the definition of marriage, even within a democracy. The Church has no official stance on the Duck Dynasty/A&E controversy, but presumably the Church would support Phil Robertson’s right to voice publicly the truth of Christian ethics, his awkward and crass articulation of this truth not withstanding. In all three situations, the right of religious liberty proceeds from the prior obligation to live according to the truth about the human good.

There are two principles that situate the Church’s understanding of religious liberty. The first and most important is that all people, as God’s creatures, are “bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it” (Dignitatis humanae, 1.2). This prior obligation originates in humanity’s nature as a truth seeker and in God who is the author of that nature. This is what grounds the subsequent right of conscience. Conscience cannot be violated because the human person is obligated to live according to the truth. This first principle grounds the Church’s stance toward same-sex marriage and the freedom of speech.

The second principle, which follows from the first, is that the dignity of the human person, as such, requires that, “[n]obody … be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters … within due limits. This right is based in the very nature of the human person” (Dignitatis humanae, 2.2). Due limits—what justice requires—pertains to those situations wherein we simply cannot be tolerant of what is being defended (in the name of conscience) because the matter in question is too harmful to society. The condition of due limits presupposes that conscience is in conformity with the basic requirements of natural law. This principle grounds the Church’s position toward the HHS mandate.

But here’s the problem with the language of religious liberty in our cultural context: if defended on the basis of moral relativism, it is easy to conclude that individual predilection becomes the rule and measure of law. This is what Benedict XVI meant when he spoke about the “dictatorship of relativism.” To return to Paglia’s approach, we ought to advocate tolerance for “homophobes” on the grounds that we are all entitled to our own moral perspective, and thus all ought to be treated equally before the law, even if a given stance is felt to be wrong by other parties. Would Paglia support the Neo-Nazis’ right to publicly express their views? I’m doubtful. Libertarians of her ilk tend to defend consensual forms of behavior more than those inclined toward violence, which in the end only shows that relativism is ultimately a weak foundation for defending any form of human liberty.

We should be careful in the present public discourse around religious liberty. If we employ relativism to defend this right, we can be assured that this same rationale will come back to bite us. The Catholic position on religious liberty is not based on the principle of “neutrality” or indifference toward every point of view. The HHS mandate, same-sex marriage, and the Duck Dynasty controversy are all quite different issues, but the Catholic stance on them proceeds from the same principled obligation to truth. In the case of the HHS mandate, the state cannot command us to violate the divine law. In the case of same-sex marriage, the state cannot redefine the meaning of marriage. In the Duck Dynasty controversy, people have the right to give public expression to moral truth.

All this might lead one to wonder, does the Catholic Church believe in tolerance? The answer is yes, but not on the grounds of moral relativism. Tolerance is rooted in the prudence to know which socially significant evils can co-exist with civility and the common good (due limits), and which cannot, lest they profoundly undermine the commonwealth. We tolerate evil as evil, not as “just one perspective among many.” We also recognize that some evils cannot be tolerated.


God Bless