Thursday, December 18, 2014

Advent Meditation from Rome

Manger scene outside the seminary chapel at the Pontifical North American College.
Photo courtesy D. Rankin, seminarian for the Diocese of Springfield, IL 
Courtesy of Fr. Brian Baker, good friend and fellow Atlanta priest studying in Rome, a reflection on this last week leading up to Christmas, from Fr. Kurt Besole OSB, director of Liturgical Formation at the Pontifical North American College.

We're in the final stretch before the Christmas season! Here's a reflection to help guide your prayerful preparation these final days:

On December 17th, the Church’s Advent liturgy begins to focus in a particular way on the Nativity of the Lord. The prayers, readings, and preface at Mass as well as the readings, antiphons for the Gospel canticles, intercessions, and prayers at the Liturgy of the Hours concentrate more resolutely than during the preceding days of Advent on the coming feast of the Nativity of the Lord.

The great “O Antiphons” have a particular role in these days as they have been used for centuries as the antiphons for the Magnificat [prayed at Vespers]. Each antiphon, always sung in a very similar melody, begins with a title of Christ, usually taken from the Old Testament, and followed by the petition that he come to us (veni) and act on our behalf:

December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19: O Radix Iesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21: O Oriens (O Daystar) [after this date, the days begin to get longer]
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O God-with-Us)

When taken together from the last title to the first, the first letters of each title form the wonderful Latin acrostic:

Emmanuel
Rex
Oriens

Clavis
Radix
Adonai
Sapientia

They form the Lord’s response to the Church’s ardent petition that he come (veni):

ERO CRAS (I will be there tomorrow)! 

[Fr. G adds: The verses of the famous Advent Hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!" are based on the "O" Antiphons of the liturgy.]



"O Adonai" The O Antiphon for December 17 


(A hauntingly beautiful polyphonic arrangement of the traditional Advent hymn)

Friday, December 05, 2014

Holy Hour for Advent

:: UPDATE :: Audio of the sermon is up at SoundCloud (28:55 min)

Here are some photos from the Advent Vespers service that we held at St. Joseph parish earlier this evening. There was Exposition, and Vespers were sung, with a sermon and Benediction concluding.



I was mighty pleased at the turn out, some 50-60 parishioners, including a great showing from our parish young adult outreach, who provided cookies and snacks on the porch afterward.
Incensation, either during Benediction,
or at the beginning of the Magnificat
(following Elliot's, "Ceremonies of the
Modern Roman Rite.")
Incensation during the Magnificat

Cookies & snacks on the porch after
I used the Meinrad tones (PDF link) for the psalmody (which we used regularly in seminary). Our choir director cantored, with the able help of our organist. The Vespers program did not have the notes for the faithful (I used a printout from Ebreviary), yet, after a few lines, the congregation picked up the tones very well.

And the sermon itself? Following the Bishop of Hippo's advice to preachers, I just lifted it directly from one of the great preachers in the English tongue, Blessed John Henry Newman, updating the language a little, and adding some (a little, very little) additional commentary and illustrations. It was his Advent sermon, "Watching" (Parochial Sermons 4, No. 22). It truly is a worthwhile and challenging read for this holy season.

On the way out, several folks said that we should do this more regularly.

Before the service, with one of the servers (who's applying to seminary. Pray for him!)
I'm most thankful for all those who worked hard, not least our cantor and organist. I encourage all of my brother priests and other pastoral leaders who might be thinking of something like this, to pursue it. The beautiful liturgical heritage of the Church should be shared with the faithful. This is indeed what the Council wished! And God is pleased with reverent and proper worship, and no doubt bestows many graces, especially to those who assemble to devoutly adore the Most Blessed Sacrament, and pray the Divine Office.

For your Advent reflection, if you do not wish to read the entire sermon (preached, it lasted a little over 28 minutes), here is a bit from the end:
Pray Him to give you what Scripture calls "an honest and good heart," or "a perfect heart," and, without waiting, begin at once to obey Him with the best heart you have. Any obedience is better than none,—any profession which is disjoined from obedience, is a mere pretence and deceit. Any religion which does not bring you nearer to God is of the world. You have to seek His face; obedience is the only way of seeking Him. All your duties are obediences. If you are to believe the truths He has revealed, to regulate yourselves by His precepts, to be frequent in His ordinances, to adhere to His Church and people, why is it, except because He has bid you? and to do what He bids is to obey Him, and to obey Him is to approach Him. Every act of obedience is an approach,—an approach to Him who is not far off, though He seems so, but close behind this visible screen of things which hides Him from us. He is behind this material framework; earth and sky are but a veil going between Him and us; the day will come when He will rend that veil, and show Himself to us. And then, according as we have waited for Him, will He recompense us.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"Francis gives the passport to married Eastern priests. Valid in the whole world."

Well this is pretty huge: the Holy Father has lifted most restrictions on the ministry of married Eastern Catholic priests worldwide. A decree from the Congregation for Oriental Churches was published back in June. Magister has a piece on it in his (Italian only) blog. In the US, in my understanding, married men were being admitted to presbyteral orders quite regularly, if in exception to the 1929 restriction on married men being ordained in the U.S. (which sparked a huge schism in the Ruthenian Church.), on a "case-by-case and exceptional basis," since 2008.

The document refers to Anglicanorum Coetibus (Pope Benedict XVI's 2009 historical and rather radical outreach to dissatisfied Anglicans: under those norms, married men could remain married and not only be ordained priests [a dispensation from the requirement for celibacy in the Latin Rite granted under John Paul II under the "Pastoral Provision"], but also have the rights and privileges belonging to Ordinaries -- i.e. juridical equivalents of Bishops, without the sacramental ordination into that rank of Holy Orders). It also provides a history of the restrictions in the US and the American continent of married Eastern Catholic priests.

The three modalities of exercise of the faculty to ordain married men by Eastern Churches outside their historical territory (where they already enjoy this faculty by tradition and law) outlined by "Pontificia Praecepta Pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus" are:

- in Eastern jurisdictions (Eparchies, Metroplitanates, Exarchies), the hierarchy has the right to ordain married men according to the tradition of their respective Church, but should inform in writing the local Latin bishops (where the candidate is from) and avail of any relevant information and opinion. 

- in areas without a local Eastern hierarchy, the faculty is given to the Ordinary who has their care, as long as the local Episcopal Conference is informed 

- in territories where Eastern Catholics do not have any administrative structure and where their care is directly the responsibility of the Latin hierarchy, this faculty is reserved to the Congregation for Eastern Churches which will exercise it in individual and exception cases, after having ascertained the opinion of the local Episcopal Conference.

[These are very rough and quick translations of the Italian]

The decree is dated June 14, 2014. However, this is the first I'm hearing of it -- and Magister published this blog only today. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Latin American Catholicism

On Tuesday (Nov. 11), the Pew Forum published their report on Religion in Latin America. The news media have been picking up on this today. For anyone interested in the Church, this report is a must read.

First, the simple snapshot, which these two graphics so clearly provide:

 94% in 1910, about the same in 1970, and then an accelerating, precipitous decline. 69% of Latin Americans claim a Catholic identity in 2014. [What is it with the 1970s??]

Look at the numbers in the chart below: Argentina, down to 71% from 91%; Brazil (the largest Catholic country in the world), down to 61%, Guatemala and El Salvador, 50% and Honduras, 46% (that is a majority of Hondurans are no longer Catholic). Uruguay is at the lowest, 42%, the most secular Latin American country.

What's also fascinating is that some countries showed an increase (15% in Colombia) in the Catholic population between 1910 and 1970. But since then, every single country has lost Catholics.

The two fastest growing groups are Protestant (which would include mainline, evangelical and, most especially, Pentecostal, with all kinds of overlaps), and a full 8% of Latin Americans consider themselves religiously unaffiliated (the equivalent of "nones" in US studies.)

The Church is bleeding. Haemorrhaging. There can be no doubt about this at all.



A Catholic seminary in Macon?

Parishioner Pete Konekamp, a veteran radio journalist, shared this on Facebook earlier today. It's posted here with his permission. A fascinating tidbid of Georgia Catholic history:

[Photo courtesy Pete Konekamp]
Throwback Thursday takes a detour off the main road and deep into the woods of north Macon. There, in the woods off Forest Hill Road, is more Georgia history you never knew.

In the late 1800's, Jesuit priests operated a seminary off a street in Macon named for Pope Pius IX. Pio Nono Avenue. The seminary, originally called Pio Nono College was dedicated in 1873. 

Renamed St. Stanislaus College, it burned to the ground in 1921. With that, all traces of the seminary disappeared. Or did they? The Jesuits established a retreat site on what was then, a hundred acres of pristine Georgia woodland. The retreat had a swimming pool, a path on which to pray the Stations of the Cross and statues of the saints. Only one statue, of St. Peter, remains. It was toppled by vandals years ago and its head shattered. 

In the early 20th century, the land was purchased by North Winship, US Ambassador to South Africa. Winship lovingly preserved the site. On his death in 1965, the property fell into ruin and Winship's house was destroyed by fire. On the site there is a graffiti covered grotto, that once held a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The grotto remains, as slowly but surely, this once beautiful piece of history fades from view. Adjacent to it, is an apartment complex. It is surrounded by houses and consumed by vegetation. There is an effort underway to save the grotto but it hasn't gained much traction.

I first wrote about the grotto 40 years ago. The only thing that's changed in all that time, is the site has continued to deteriorate. If you are so inclined, see it while you can. Fall is the best time to visit, because the vegetation has died off and the insects and snakes are in hiding.

[Photo courtesy Pete Konekamp]
Doing some digging around the Interwebs, I found a reference to a little report in the New York Times from May 3, 1874 (PDF available online for free), on the ceremony where the corner-stone was laid for Pio Nono College, saying that the college would be the largest Catholic college in the South. It describes the procession as containing the Bishop of Savannah, priests, the Mayor and councilmen and twenty five religious, civil and military organizations, and a huge crowd! I always wondered where Pio Nono Avenue (pronounced by the locals as "pie-o nono"!)  in Macon came from.

Of course the jewel of Catholic Macon is St. Joseph Church, also built by the Jesuits. [Sadly, I simply cannot picture the SJs building anything quite so beautiful today ... ]. That deserves another post, perhaps after a new visit to this stunningly beautiful church ...


Thursday, October 30, 2014

The All Saints Vigil at the Dominican House of Studies

Cover of the program for the 2013 Vigil.
For years now, the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC has hosted a prayer service of chant, hymn, lessons, reflections, and a procession, for the Vigil of All Saints. The event continues to grow and has become a major young adult attraction in the area. Today is no exception.

I first attended this when I was a novice with the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle, a couple of houses down from the OPs, back in 2006. It was mind-blowing, as this blog post from back then shows. In my discernment, it was one of the earliest hints that I had that I was not meant to stay with the CSPs (I wouldn't leave until late 2007) -- such beauty, beauty which had first drawn me to the Church, is something I would have had to fight for (or so it seemed) in that community.

I attended again in 2007: the Praise of His Glory.

In 2008, I was back in the greater DC area, as a pre-theologian at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg. At my behest, the members of my Jesu-Caritas (fraternity) group drove down for the Vigil. Two of those guys would later (the next year), enter the novitiate of the St. Joseph province. One of them just made his solemn profession, on August 15 of this year, and will soon be preparing for ordination to the diaconate (I need to send in a request for my finders fee to the Province! :)). [Of the other guys in the group, one is a happily married father, and another was just ordained a priest for the Diocese of Charlotte. And Ed, all I gots to say to you is pupusas!].


And then again in 2009.

Some of the links in the old blogs don't work. I can't find any of the homilies online anymore. The OP vocations page has a link with some videos. There is a transcript of a Religion & Ethics weekly story from 2006 still online. There's this piece from the Register. You can get a complete PDF of the program from the 2013 Vigil online. Photos from the 2011 Vigil online.

And finally, a collection of 12 great videos from the good folks at OP East from St. Peter's List. Lots of good stuff!

I am big fan of the St. Joseph Province. Apart from my friend mentioned above, another good friend just finished his Novitiate, and made his first profession in August, and there's at least 3 other guys I know who are students. OP East is an amazing powerhouse. The Lord has showered his blessings on this branch of St. Dominic's family, and, please God, these gifts will bear great fruit in the Church.

A sample -- Br. Dominic Verner's blog post at the Dominicana: The Irony of Lucifer's Fall.

All holy men and women of God, pray for us! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete 1941-2014

A photo of Msgr. Albacete I took at New York Encounter in 2012
At this talk given at New York Encounter in 2013, he relayed, in that deep, gravelly, raspy voice, and with that humor and authenticity that was so characteristic, his first encounter, as a young priest, with a visiting Polish Cardinal, the future John Paul II, the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 
The two soon discovered they had a great deal in common, including an interest in theatre, poetry and science. Fr. Albacete asked the cardinal what was the proper theological language in which to speak about the love of God. “Poetry,” he answered. “When you tell your girlfriend you love her, you send her a poetic love note, not a math equation.” A deep friendship grew from this encounter and continued when the cardinal was elected Pope John Paul II. Fr. Albacete received his doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome, in 1983.  [From his obituary, linked here.]
While at the Mount, my CL buddies and I talked briefly about trying to get him to come and speak. However, at that point, he was taking care of his sick brother, and was already in frail health himself.
If you have a moment, check out "God at the Ritz"
His very poignant and honest interview about 9/11, from PBS
To me, to distract one from this, to look for explanations, is obscene. It's an offense against the reality of what happened -- an offense against our humanity -- to look for political explanations, economic explanations, diplomatic explanations. "Oh, it's American foreign policy. It is the arrival into our shores of the Palestinian-Israeli fight. It is globalization. It is the cultural wars. It is American imperialism." All of that is proposed by the "Yes, but" brigade who got to work immediately after the explosion. It is obscene and irresponsible, because we were facing an attack, a hatred of humanity which is what we all have in common. It's our line of defense, our only one. And now that was gone. ... 
The people who did this, who planned it, who brought it about, I don't know what their theology or their ideology is. I take them at their word; they died with the name of God on their lips. People say they were sincere; well, yes, they were. They believed. This is an act for them that was a sincere act, the worship of their God. I take them at their word. Does that make them any less evil? Oh, but no, that precisely is the monstrosity. If they were not sincere, it would be a terrible thing, but ... it is the sincerity, it is the free will. I mean, they willed this to happen. They willed the destruction of humanity, of humanness, of everybody in that place on that day at the World Trade Center. This was a freely willed act, very sincere. And this sincerity is one of the horrible characteristics of the face of evil I saw that day. ...
People are like wingless chickens nowadays: interview with Robert Wright. [Verifying the religious sense, starting at 16m.] The impetus that drives humanity, this is religion. The passion for answering the existential question why? 

The story from the Vatican Insider, today. 
Therefore, Pope Francis’ words from Evangelii Gaudium are befitting our dearest Lorenzo: “Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone, not as one who imposes a new obligation, but rather as one who shares a joy, points out a beautiful horizon, offers a desirable banquet. The Church does not grow by proselytism but ‘by attraction.’” He was undoubtedly so captivating that he immediately became friends with anyone he met, because he was showing the beauty and usefulness of faith for facing life’s needs.With his tireless work, he witnessed to us how faith can become “intelligence of reality,” with his ability to recognize and embrace anyone without ambiguity, but for love of the truth that is present in every person. With his suffering, he has reminded us that there is no circumstance, not even the most difficult and toilsome, that can prevent the “I” from having a daily dialogue with the Mystery.
The funeral will be celebrated by Sean Cardinal O'Malley at St. Mary's Church in Manhattan on Tuesday, October 27. [Funeral arrangements at the CL website.]
What an amazing and great man. I am honored to have met him. 
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. I offered up my Mass today for the repose of his soul. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A week with Blessed Paul VI: Day Three


Today, a couple of selections from one of the watershed moments of his Papacy, the encyclical Humanae Vitae (July 25, 1968), where the crisis of dissent in the Catholic Church erupted, and whose effects are still with us.

Paragraph 17 is generally regarded as prophetic:
17. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.
This principle is worth reflecting on today, as even newer challenges to the dignity of human life arise in our time:
Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. 

And this is truly prophetic, especially in light of what we have seen in the Church in the last two weeks
18. It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a "sign of contradiction." (22) She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.
Since the Church did not make either of these laws, she cannot be their arbiter—only their guardian and interpreter. It could never be right for her to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man. 
In preserving intact the whole moral law of marriage, the Church is convinced that she is contributing to the creation of a truly human civilization. She urges man not to betray his personal responsibilities by putting all his faith in technical expedients. In this way she defends the dignity of husband and wife. This course of action shows that the Church, loyal to the example and teaching of the divine Savior, is sincere and unselfish in her regard for men whom she strives to help even now during this earthly pilgrimage "to share God's life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men." (23)
Read it all! 

Beate Paule VI, ora pro nobis! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

A week with Blessed Paul VI: Day Two -- Ratzinger on Paul Vi

Pope Paul VI places the Cardinal's biretta on Joseph Ratzinger. Screenshot from L'Osservatore Romano
Well, this isn't by Bl. Paul VI. This is from the homily preached by the then Cardinal Archbishop of Münich and Freising, on the death of Pope Paul VI, August 10, 1978, Joseph Ratzinger. Sandro Magister on his (Italian only) blog, excerpted some bits. L'Osservatore published the entire text in Italian on the night of  Oct 19, the eve of the Beatification. Here is my summary and translation of the central message. (The full text can be found in an unofficial translation at EWTN)

Cardinal Ratzinger begins by noting that the Pope had died on the even of the Feast of the Transfiguration. His reflections are framed by the Feast. He notes that in the Churches of the East, "so loved by Paul VI," the Transfiguration is considered as a "synthesis of all: Cross and Resurrection, the present and the future of creation are reunited here. The Feast of the Transfiguration is the guarantee that the Lord does not abandon creation." Furthermore, the Transfiguration, which is known as "metamorphosis" in the Greek of the New Testament, shows to us the immediate relevance of this Feast. "In Christ Transfigured, what faith is, is revealed even more: transformation, which for man occurs throughout his life. From the point of view of biology, life is a metamorphosis, a continual transformation, which ends with death. To live means to die, means to be metamorphosed towards death. The account of the Lord's Transfiguration adds to it something new: to die, signifies to rise. Faith is a metamorphosis in which man matures definitively and becomes mature to be defined. For this reason, the evangelist John defines the Cross as a glorification."

Having established this framework of "metamorphosis," he notes how Pope Paul VI traveled this path of continual transformation:
Paul VI accepted his papal service more and more as a the metamorphosis of faith in suffering. The final words of the Risen Lord to Peter, after having constituted him pastor of his flock, were, "when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go" (John 21:18).  It was a hint of the Cross that would accompany Peter at the end of his life. In general, it was a hint of the nature of this service. Paul VI let himself be carried ever more where, humanly speaking, by himself, he did not wish to go. More and more the papacy meant for him to be girded with the vestments of another, and to be nailed to the Cross. We know that before his seventy-fifth birthday, and also before his eightieth birthday, he intensely battled with the idea of retiring. And we can imagine just how much the thought of not being able to belong anymore to himself weighed on him. Of not having any more a private moment. Of being chained until the end, along with his body which yielded, to a task which demanded, day after day, the full and living use of all the forces of a man. "None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord." (Romans 14:7-8) These words from today's reading had literally defined his life. He has given a new value to authority as service, carrying it as a sort of suffering. He did not enjoy any pleasure in power, in position, in the success of a career, and precisely because of this, authority being a task endured -- it (authority) has become great and credible. 
Paul VI performed his service by faith. From this both his firmness or his disposition to compromise derived. For both he had to accept criticism, and even in some comments after his death, there has been no lack of bad taste. But today, a Pope who does not suffer criticism would fail at his task at this time. Paul VI resisted both the influence of the media (telecrazia) and the pressure of popular opinion (demoscopia), the two dictatorial powers of the present. He was able to do this because he did not take as parameters success or approval, but rather, conscience, which is measured by the truth, by faith. This is why in many occasions he sought compromise; faith leaves many things open. and offers a wide range of decisions. It requires as a parameter love, which it senses, obliges it to the whole, and thus, requires a lot of respect. And this is why he was able to be inflexible and decisive, when the essential tradition of the Church was at stake. In him, this hardness did not derive from the insensibility of the one whose path is dictated by the pleasure of power and the contempt of persons, but by the depth of faith, which enabled him to endure opposition. 
The above translation is my own. The entire homily is worth reading, and it turns out that EWTN has the full text online in English. It had been published first in L'Osservatore on the 50th anniversary of the election of Paul VI, in June 21.

The homily is a great testament to the Pope as a disciple, of the trajectory of faith, of a journey of continual discovery, of self, and of the Lord who calls, and who transforms. It reminds me of the metaphor Pope Francis has often used, of walking with the Lord, not stopping, not being spiritual tourists.

Apart from this moving testimony towards the Pope who called him to the Episcopacy, and made him a Cardinal, one can only marvel at the prophetic words of Cardinal Ratzinger about Paul VI's struggle with the thought of resigning the Papacy.

Beate Paule Sexte, ora pro nobis! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A week with Blessed Paul VI: Day One


Today, at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis beatified his predecessor, Pope Paul VI (reigned 1963-1978).

Pope Paul did not have a direct impact on me, as a layman or a priest. I was too young (and not in a Christian family, to boot) to remember the "year of three Popes," and the Humanae Vitae bombshell was before my time.

However, he is a pivotal figure for the history of the Church in the twentieth century, the architect of the Twenty-First Ecumenical Council, guiding four of its five sessions, and the main implementer of its directives for the renewal of the Church.

As a priest, I offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the Missal of Bl. Paul VI pretty much all the time, and I pray the Divine Office from the Breviary revised by his directives. In that sense, he shapes my priestly ministry in a very direct, quotidian way.

For this upcoming week, I am going to share some quotes from his Papal magisterium, which is one of the most enduring legacies of any Roman Pontiff.

Today's selection comes from "Solemni Hac Liturgia," also known as the Credo of the People Of God, a document written by Bl. Paul Vi in 1968, as a response to the theological and doctrinal crisis of dissent that exploded as the Council came to an end. This selection is, fittingly, about the Sacred Liturgy, fons et culmen vitae ecclesia. The fact that the Holy Father felt the need to restate forcefully what had been the perennial teaching of the Church was a sad "sign of the times," evidence of the "smoke of Satan" that had infiltrated the Church, as he himself so famously remarked a year earlier.
24. We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest representing the person of Christ by virtue of the power received through the Sacrament of Orders, and offered by him in the name of Christ and the members of His Mystical Body, is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present on our altars. We believe that as the bread and wine consecrated by the Lord at the Last Supper were changed into His body and His blood which were to be offered for us on the cross, likewise the bread and wine consecrated by the priest are changed into the body and blood of Christ enthroned gloriously in heaven, and we believe that the mysterious presence of the Lord, under what continues to appear to our senses as before, is a true, real and substantial presence.(35)

25. Christ cannot be thus present in this sacrament except by the change into His body of the reality itself of the bread and the change into His blood of the reality itself of the wine, leaving unchanged only the properties of the bread and wine which our senses perceive. This mysterious change is very appropriately called by the Church transubstantiation. Every theological explanation which seeks some understanding of this mystery must, in order to be in accord with Catholic faith, maintain that in the reality itself, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus that from then on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine,(36) as the Lord willed it, in order to give Himself to us as food and to associate us with the unity of His Mystical Body.(37) 
26. The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord glorious in heaven is not multiplied, but is rendered present by the sacrament in the many places on earth where Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains present, after the sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament which is, in the tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches. And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us.
Beate Paule Vi, ora pro nobis!  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Disceptatio post relationem



So much has already been written about that Relatio post disceptationem that appeared yesterday.

Here's a very brief sample: start with Fr. Robert Barron's wisdom here.
If you want evidence of this, simply look at the accounts of the deliberations of the major councils of the Church, beginning with the so-called Council of Jerusalem in the first century right through to the Second Vatican Council of the twentieth century. In every such gathering, argument was front and center, and consensus evolved only after lengthy and often acrimonious debate among the interested parties. Read John Henry Newman’s colorful history of the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century, and you’ll find stories of riots in the streets and the mutually pulling of beards among the disputants. Or pick up Yves Congar’s very entertaining diary of his years at Vatican II, and you’ll learn of his own withering critiques of the interventions of prominent Cardinals and rival theologians. Or peruse John O’Malley’s history of the Council of Trent, and you’ll see that early draft statements on the key doctrines of original sin and justification were presented, debated, and dismissed—long before final versions were approved. 
Read Fr. Longenecker's hard-hitting, almost temerarious piece in Crisis today.
This is teamwork Holy Father. I can only do the job you want me to do if you do the job you have been called to do. With the greatest respect and love, please don’t feel that it is your job to tinker with the timeless truths. If my job is to be the compassionate pastor for those in the pew and beyond, then your job is to be the primary definer and defender of the faith. I can’t do my job if you don’t do yours.
Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble FSP shares her experience of return to the church. And absolutely take the effort to read through Msgr. Pope's very clear post on gradualism.

My thoughts are about the principle of gradualism that the Relatio talks about, introducing it first in #12, and then in #17 it writes:
In considering the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, one asks what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage, or rather how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church. In this respect, a significant hermeneutic key comes from the teaching of Vatican Council II, which, while it affirms that “although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure ... these elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium, 8).
This is a bold analogy. I think it is flawed. I am thinking through this a little and hope to have some thoughts on that soon. It is helpful, however, to get a good primer on the principle of gradualism or gradualness. Jimmy Akin has done yeoman's work (as always), in this piece.
1) What is the law of gradualness?
It is a principle used in Catholic moral and pastoral theology, according to which people should be encouraged to grow closer to God and his plan for our lives in a step-by-step manner rather than expecting to jump from an initial conversion to perfection in a single step.
The best insight on the utility and effectiveness of the principle of gradualism came from Sherry Weddell (author of Forming Intentional Disciples), on her Facebook page (quoted with her permission):
The traditional Italian solution was to articulate the ideal as Church teaching and, in practice, to tolerate all kinds of sins in a de facto "gradualism" because people will be people although there was often not much local incentive for individuals to attempt to reach the ideal. You confessed on your deathbed. The American approach - keep the laws to a minimum, state them loud and clear and expect everyone to abide by them or there will be consequences - is a very different approach. 
Gradualism works where there is a pretty strong consensus that the "ideal" is true and important and we are just helping people get there at their own pace. Gradualism as a spiritual path works well *within* an over-arching culture of conviction. In a climate where the ideal is regarded as outdated nonsense and where the law, cultural institutions, and the working assumptions of most ordinary people presume that things contrary to the ideal are just fine or even good, "gradualism" collapses outside a powerful direct encounter with God. 
Gradualism, as the Church understands it, *always* presumes a powerful incentive for change of some kind. In practice, Catholics are used to that incentive being cultural, familial, or legal. Or, in case of deep conversion, spiritual. But I think that's the fear. When the law articulates the ideal clearly, it pulls us to reconsider our ways. If the law ceases to do so and the culture pressure against the ideal is nearly total and even family support is mostly missing in action, only the most exceptional, spiritually motivated people will be motivated to attempt change. And they will probably have to pay a very high price to do so. 
This is a very keen insight. It squares with my own experience, in my own conversion and moral growth, and in my pastoral experience. The first context ("a pretty strong consensus that the 'ideal' is true and important") is what I see every day in the parish with my Hispanic parishioners, with respect to cohabitation and sacramental marriage. [I recently blogged about one convalidation ceremony where no one received Holy Communion]. While so many cohabitate ("in unión libre"), and get civilly remarried years before approaching the Church for the Sacrament of Marriage, no one argues that the Church is wrong, that her teaching is outdated. Those who are cohabiting, do not present themselves for Holy Communion. The parish response generally is to provide some evangelical experience for a deeper (perhaps even initial) conversion to the Lord (the Charismatic Renewal, Christ Renews His Parish retreats), followed by doctrinal catechesis in RCIA, and pre-marital counseling, leading to a celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage.

In this context, to suggest that those who are cohabiting are just fine, or they should all be admitted to Holy Communion, because that would somehow be merciful, would be ludicrous. It would certainly be no incentive to anyone to actually seek moral reform. As part of the process, so many couples make promises of temporary continence, so as to prepare to celebrate Confession and then Marriage. Gradualism is not opposed to the Cross. Christian maturity is impossible without the Cross.

The second context is the wider American culture, which is hostile to the Church's teaching on family and the human sexuality, and thinks it to be evil, harmful, and oppressive, whether we're talking about contraception, easy divorce, homosexual activity and unions, reproductive technologies or abortion.

In this case the language of the Relatio leads quite directly to this:


What is the message here? That the Human Rights Campaign wants to gradually approach the ideal of Christ's law, and will now encourage their staff and activists to seek this path? No, it is the exact opposite -- that it is the Catholic Church which has now made a gradual step towards the idea they propose, that homosexual activity is harmless, even good.

Unfortunately, there is clear evidence that this kind of language simply emboldens those who are hostile to the truths proclaimed by the Catholic Church, whether they be without or within her fold. It does not make the Gospel appealing to the world. It conforms the Church to the world. This approach had been tried in the years and decades after the Second Vatican Council. I can't say it has borne any good fruit. The results of this kind of approach of diluting the Gospel have decimated the mainline Protestant communities in the West. Under the previous two pontificates, there had made a concerted effort to clarify doctrinal confusion and proclaim the fulness of the Gospel boldly.

All that said, it should be borne in mind that this document is simply not that important. It says nothing about the position or teaching of the Catholic Church. It is the basis for discussion for the Bishops going forward. There are concerns about the way it was formulated. And here, Cardinal Napier of Durban talks about the key issue -- the way the Vatican operates with complete obliviousness to the reality of the Internet and media driven narratives, and the damage this causes. That it was released, and the interventions of the individual Synod Fathers themselves weren't (unlike in previous Synods) seems bizarre, and invites conspiracy theories. The Holy Father wanted free debate -- very laudable. He got it. If the message of that debate is to be shared, it should be shared transparently as well.

The thing is, what the Holy Father so clearly wants, and embodies -- the proclamation of the saving mercy and truth of life in Jesus Christ -- is impossible, unless the teaching of Christ is not treated with the respect it deserves.  After fifty years of a de facto, widespread, antinomianism, we can, and need to, do better. Religion is not purely a matter of sentiment, of mere affirmation. It is about a radical surrender to the Other who comes to me with a love that I dared not imagine, a love that calls forth my whole person in response. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Think before you pink"

This photograph showed up in my Facebook newsfeed this morning.


[The stuff of which newsfeeds are made] 

I'd heard of this vaguely. I posted it on my timeline and lots of helpful comments followed. 

From parishioner (and amigo), Kevin, 
I found a breakdown for 2011. That year--according to their accounting figures at least--Komen spent 15% of their money on cancer research, which is only one category of "program expenses". Other categories include screening (12% in 2011...some of the money going to Planned Parenthood is here I believe) and treatment (5% in 2011). 
18% went to fund-raising and administration (including the legal department's efforts to sue anyone and everyone who has the audacity to use the color pink, the word "cure", et cetera). Again, that's officially, according to their own figures...there are many ways for charities to keep this percentage down via creative accounting. 
43% was spent on the ubiquitous "awareness" and education campaigns...and there's all sorts of room for fiscal mischief in this bloated part of the budget, which has long been Komen's biggest line item by far. Because the core purpose of Komen is to perpetuate itself and the pink crusade...of course. Whether there's any need in America to spend so much as one thin dime more towards breast cancer "awareness" is entirely beside the point. 
Finally, I always want to put in a word for a very small group of people: the estimated 2360 American men who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and the estimated 430 who will die from it. (A tiny number, yes...but the latter figure is still, by way of comparison, approximately ten times the number killed on average each year in school and university shootings.) They must be among the loneliest people in the world. 
[He provided a link for the numbers.]

Then an NBC story from 2013. 
Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, which evaluates and rates charities, called Brinker’s salary “extremely high.”
“This pay package is way outside the norm," he said. "It's about a quarter of a million dollars more than what we see for charities of this size. ... This is more than the head of the Red Cross is making for an organization that is one-tenth the size of the Red Cross.” 
Then this very illustrative infographic, which shows the disproportionate amount of money breast-cancer research gets. Ubiquitous publicity and a not-so-subtle pressure to donate in various social circles helps a lot, it seems (source unknown).

[Match the colors] 
All of this is apart from Komen's notorious support of Planned Parenthood, which was in the media spotlight in 2012 -- first for ending their support of PP, and then caving under pressure. My Archdiocese forbade parishes from supporting Komen then -- an order that has not, to my knowledge, been rescinded.

So, it's October. Please keep in prayer those who are suffering from breast-cancer. Do your bit to encourage regular check ups. Pray for those who have died, and their loved ones. 

If you wish to donate to a cause, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation gets high marks at Charity Navigator. They're not listed in the American Life League's questionable list, nor on this list from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

So, think before you pink.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

St. Monica's Ablaze

I was invited to give the keynote address as part of the series "ABLAZE" at St. Monica's Catholic Church in Duluth, GA.


Ablaze is an effort to that combines evangelization and catechesis to help parishioners rekindle their faith, their relationship with the Lord, learn and be empowered to go out. Each four-week cycle line-up has a section on theory, practical advice, testimony and a panel. The entire event is about an hour long, in between the two morning Masses. They've been getting 200+ folks come out. I was the keynote for the launch of their second cycle on the New Evangelization. From their website:
On the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, our Holy Father called us to evangelize and to share our faith with the world. However, in order to become the Spirit-filled evangelists God wants us to be, we must first take the time to look inside. We need to be re-evangelized by that same Spirit first. ABLAZE is offering you the opportunity to rekindle that fire of the Holy Spirit you received at Confirmation, given for the express purpose that you set the world ablaze for the Glory of God.
One of the things the awesome priests at St. Monica's are doing (including my seminary classmate, good friend, and partner in crime, Fr. Michael) is teaching their people how to pray. (Pope St. John Paul II: The parish is to be a school of prayer!) Before the talk, there is a short (7-8) minute segment on prayer. On Wednesday, Fr. Michael called me and told me that he'd forgotten he was going to be away on a retreat, and asked if I could put something together. Thanks bud. :-) I pulled some stuff together from the Catechism (the section on prayer is simply phenomenal), emphasizing that prayer is not a technique, but something entered into with an attitude of humility, with the Blessed Virgin as our model. Here's that talk:


School of Prayer: Prayer is not a Techinque

The talk included one of my top 10 quotes from the Catechism. 
2567 God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God's initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation.
The whole operation exudes the charism of administration. These folks are well organized, exhibiting great collaboration from a hard-working, high-energy team of parishioners. The new St. Augustine hall is a great facility. The set up is also geared to table conversation -- which follows the talks with structured questions, and time for coffee and food. Very well thought out and planned! It was a joy and an honor to take part in this. 




Here's my keynote: "The Church Exists to Evangelize," which basically was focused on the essence of the new evangelization from the magisterium of recent Popes. The entire talk was a lot longer than the allotted 23 minutes, and I had to chop out a lot, including a raft of statistics from Forming Intentional Disciples, and amazing stuff from this talk by Cardinal Ratzinger on the New Evangelization from back in 2000.





Sunday, October 05, 2014

Collect for the XXVIIthe Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Collect for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Novus Ordo) is one of my favorites, especially in the new (Third Edition) ICEL translation.
Almighty ever-living God, who in the abundance of your kindness surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you, pour out your mercy upon us to pardon what conscience dreads and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
The original Latin is:
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui abundantia pietatis tuae et merita supplicum excedis et vota, effunde super nos misericordiam tuam, ut dimittas quae conscientia metuit, et adicias quod oratio non praesumit.
[I was going to have a whole bit about the difference between "praesumo" and "dares" but a friend kindly pointed out that "dares" is one of the acceptable nuances of "praesumo." De melioribus semper discendum!]

This Collect really impinged on my consciousness when a bunch of seminarian friends were returning to Rome from a day spent visiting Franciscan sites in and around Rieti. We prayed Vespers in the van, and this was the closing prayer. There was a brief pause, and a number of us remarked on the profundity of the prayer.

... who ... surpass the merits and desires of those who entreat you. 

God is always more generous than what we ask. Our desires are narrow, small, often petty and selfish. God is a fountain, a torrent of grace. His goodness overflows, and he seeks always to fulfill the desires of his children, whom He has created in love, and called to a supernatural fulfillment, in love.

... pardon what conscience dreads ... 

What does conscience dred? Offending the Lord. Hurting the beloved. Despising the Judge. Ultimately, it dreads the Judgment, knowing just how unworthy the soul is to withstand the Just Judge, on her own merits.

... what prayer does not dare to ask ... 

In front of the Judge, the soul shrinks. It falls back always on God's mercy. In the words of the Dies Irae - "Recordare Iesu pie, quod sum causa tuae viae ... " ("Remember o holy Jesus, that I am the reason for your journey!").

The attitude is also reflected in this little bit of the Roman Canon, which comes after the second list of saints, post-Consecration ...
non æstimator meriti, sed veniae, quæsumus ... not weighing our merits, but granting us your pardon.
This is the prayer of the beggar ... we are all beggars in front of God! But this is also the prayer of faith, which relies on what God has revealed, His mercy.

However, faith also knows that God is also a beggar, Who thirsts for our soul (as Msgr. Giussani so beautifully put it.

Fr. Z has a great commentary on this collect, its translation and the spiritual attitude underlying it.

Pray this prayer today, this whole week. It is a beautiful meditation on some central mysteries of faith: God's infinite mercy, our unworthiness, and His divine condescension in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

No one received Holy Communion


Since I've arrived at my parish (July 2013), all the weddings I've celebrated have been of members of the Spanish-speaking community, I'd say nearly a dozen or more.* Almost all of these have been convalidations. The trend in the Mexican community goes something like this: start dating early, then move in together, live for several years in a union libre [i.e. shacking up], have kids together (3 or 4 is the norm), get a civil marriage once it looks like things are stable, and then, finally, years down, approach the altars for the Sacrament. In the meanwhile, everyone follows the rules -- they know the Church doesn't approve, and if they come to Mass (many do), they don't receive Holy Communion. It's a whole new reality.

The movement towards the Sacrament of Marriage, in my short experience, is tied strongly to some kind of a conversion experience, either through the Charismatic Renewal, or the CRHP retreats regularly offered at the parish. One or both partners has a new appreciation for his or her relationship with the Lord, and wants to "get in the rights" with God. These evangelization retreats are a major force for evangelical dynamism in our parish. After each retreat, we get folks signing up for the intensive RCIA process (for their sacraments of initiation), marriage prep, scheduling baptisms for their children (so many are not baptized!), or the seguimiento [literally "follow-up"] classes offered by the Renewal, which is basically a 10-month long, lay-led, weekly discipleship and Bible study course.

Hispanic weddings are very relaxed. There is no obsession with photo-finish perfection. The nervous tension I've experienced in Anglo wedding just isn't there; no momzillas or bridezillas. There's rarely the custom of bridal parties made up of close friends. Instead, there are padrinos who will present the couple with the rings, the arras, sometimes a Bible or a Rosary, and the lazo. Often, the couple is late (the bride is busy getting ready for her big day)! The music is provided by one of the parish choirs, and the songs are all from the regular Sunday repertoire. There's always kids running around, often the kids of the couple celebrating the Sacrament. Sometimes they cling to their parents as mami and papi are exchanging their vows. Invariably, the couple goes to Confession just prior to their wedding. They take this very seriously.

As at most weddings, many of those attending are not regulars. In Spanish the phrase is alejado de la iglesia -- distant from the Church. One can always tell by the way folks participate and respond, how familiar they are with the Mass. I always make a simple announcement about receiving Holy Communion worthily. At most weddings, a good 1/3 or so come up to receive.

Today, no one did.

There were over a hundred people in church. After the bride and groom received, no one came up. Not one single soul! [The choir, lectors and ushers are all regular parishioners who would be going to Mass later in the weekend and would not have felt it necessary to receive.]

That was a first! After Mass, before the final blessing, I congratulated the couple again (as I always do), and then gave a small ferverino. I took the opportunity to proclaim the kerygma, inviting those were alejados to rediscover Jesus again in a new way, to experience His mercy again, and to come back to His Church.

Clearly, this couple is an evangelical witness to their families and friends. What a fascinating wedding Mass!

*There have been a handful of Anglo weddings, but I was not the celebrant; they were either guest priests, or the Pastor, understandably, since the locals have known him longer. Most of the (English-speaking) couples I've prepared for marriage are getting married elsewhere -- the function of having a young, transient, college and post-college population in town. My first local English-speaking wedding is coming up in November, along with a few convalidations. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Models of Liturgy in the Church

Continuing liturgy blogging, though this is really no more than just a reference to an excellent post by Fr. Chris Smith (from just up the road on I-85, in South Carolina) at Chant Cafe.

He gives a brief sketch of liturgical piety as it evolved from the medieval ages, through the Reformation and Trent, and the 19th century Benedictine revival and the Jesuit-Benedictine battles of the Liturgical Movement of the early 20th century. He then identifies three moments or approaches or schools of thought when it comes to the liturgy, and the influence they had on the mid-20th century liturgical reform, and how they played out after the reform, during the Papacy of Benedict XVI and now Francis.
What are those currents of thought?  1. The centrality of the liturgy praised by the classical monastic sources of the liturgical movement, 2. the pastoral orientation of a second moment of that movement which sought out the change of exterior forms of the liturgy for supposed greater accessibility by the laity, 3. as well as an Ignatian predilection for the individual, devotional and subjective.
That first current of thought seems to be the motivating principle behind most of the liturgical Magisterium of the Church in the 20th century and today, whether we are talking about Tra le sollecitudini, Mediator Dei, Sacrosanctum concilium, or Redemptionis sacramentum.  But that lives in tension, and some might say, opposition, to the way the second current of thought prevailed in the production of the Novus Ordo Missae and how the third current of thought conditioned the reception of the reformed liturgy.
Fr. Smith's point is that identifying which school of thought someone identifies with helps to explain how they will react to proposals or perspectives grounded in the other approaches. His hope is one that I share. The liturgy wars are ugly and anti-evangelical. We need to really pray for a way out.
Benedict XVI had hope that the celebration of the two forms of the Roman Rite would lead to mutual enrichment, and a corresponding renewal in the life of the Church.  Much ink has been spilled on promoting or proscribing one form or another of the rite.  I am beginning to wonder whether we need to examine, not which form is better or worse, but what lines of thought are driving the way we think about and execute the sacred liturgy, and whether, if they are allowed peacefully to coexist along side each other, that a true synthesis may emerge, one not forced by the work of human hands, but by the action of the Holy Spirit.        

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Parishes Transformed

A few summers ago, I was visiting one of my friends in central Illinois. He was assigned to a fading, downtown parish in the northern part of his diocese. There was talk of parish mergers. We both talked energetically, as only idealistic seminarians can, of the need for a real zeal for evangelization, of resisting the move to the suburbs, or simply moving out when demographic change has set in.

There are stories out there of urban parishes transforming themselves and becoming centers of faith, worship, devotion, and communal life again.

The first such story I encountered was that of St. Peter's in downtown Omaha, NE. The parish robustly embraced a beautiful, traditional approach to the liturgy, and focused on restoring their parish church. This video was made during their fundraising campaign. I worshipped at St. Peter's when I was in Omaha for a summer course during my seminary formation, and on a recent visit, I took some photos of the stunning, beautifully restored church.

Another such story is that of the Church of Sts. Peter, Paul & St. Philomena in New Brighton, England. The church was closed in 2008. In 2011, the Bishop invited the Institute of Christ the King to take over the pastoral care of the parish, and by all accounts it is thriving. The Institute is one of few religious institutes within the Church that celebrates the liturgy exclusively in the Extraordinary Form, according to the Missal of St. John XIII. This video, just recently produced,  is well worth the time.


This also reminds me of Holy Name of Jesus in Brooklyn, which just finished a church restoration project, with a beautiful sanctuary, and Masses in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms.

These parishes follow a model of transformation that may be termed the "restoration of the sacred," model. The emphasis is on reviving liturgy, sacred music, the church building, with a focus on highlighting beauty. Beauty is, of course, one of the transcendentals, and attractive, well, by definition! I would assume that along with this, there is also a focus on solid preaching and catechesis (reflecting the quality of formation the priests staffing these parishes have received), and a strong sense of ownership and belonging by the people. One commenter on a blog about the parish in England said that the laity are tremendously involved in the running of the place, which is what one would expect from a smaller parish with a committed laity. The parishes also attract faithful from a broad geographical area -- easily the norm in the U.S. but I suspect also in Britain. Both parishes attract younger Catholics and families.

This is not the only model of parish transformation. A very famous story is that of the Church of the Nativity in the greater Baltimore area, and the book, "Rebuilt," which follows ideas from the evangelical megachurch world. This blog is not the place that I want to comment on the merits and flaws, as I see them, of this model.

However, another story comes to mind: that of Most Precious Blood parish in Brooklyn NY. Here was a parish in a poor part of the City, on the verge of shuttering, that focused on reaching out to the new  neighbors, with a creative, faithful, youth program (run by this great ministry from Steubenville). Sherry Weddell's post from the Intentional Disciples blog in 2010 is worth a read:
Fr. Maduri, who grew up Catholic in the parish next-door, became pastor just over a year ago and responded in a remarkable way.   He sized up the situation quickly: either the human community had to be rebuilt or the parish would close.  Since the traditional Catholic population was leaving the area, he would focus on making disciples of the unchurched and apostles of the churched. 
When the parish school closed, he rented the building out and used the income to renovate the old convent into a faith formation center. He brought in two enthusiastic young evangelists, newly married Andy - with his wife, Megan - and a exuberant young woman named Kree.  They work with a Catholic group called Dirty Vagabonds, which specializes in the personal evangelization of urban youth.  These recent graduates of the Franciscan University of Steubenville sport lots of conversation-starting tattoos, live very simply in the faith formation building, and spend their afternoons going out and meeting the kids in the neighborhood and the projects nearby.  They have resurrected the parish youth group and renovated the rectory basement into an "Underground" gathering space.  After only 4 months, attendance is going up steadily – with non-Catholic black and Chinese kids. 
Fr. Maduri has also begun an outreach to local Hispanics.  He brought in Nancy, a quietly vibrant and efficient woman, whom he had worked with in another parish, to run adult faith formation.  He is forming a critical core of the parishioners, sending them to conferences, bringing in speakers to give retreats, putting on Life in the Spirit seminars, and bringing us in to teach his parishioners about gifts discernment.
But Fr. Maduri has even bigger plans.  Next year, he will be collaborating with a Catholic Chinese woman to begin reaching out to the huge number of non-Christian Chinese immigrants in the area. 
This model may be called the "discipleship" model -- where the focus is on the people, and in their being formed into intentional disciples, as well as apostles, i.e. well-formed, on-fire laity who go out of their parishes to live and share the Good News in the world. The focus is on the encounter with and personal relationship with Jesus lived out in the Church, in the sacramental life, but also in everyday life, as the central reality of the disciple's life.

Now the "restoration of the sacred" model also has an aspect of discipleship -- these communities are of generally well-formed Catholics, who have a love for traditional liturgy, and a robust sense of Catholic doctrine, tradition and teaching. The person of Christ is central. I suspect, though I don't know, that the apostolate is perhaps not as emphasized. The parish is a refuge in a secular world gone mad, an exercise of the so-called Benedict Option (again, a blog post really precludes a proper analysis of that term, which has been the subject of some interesting conversations). It may serve as a sign of contradiction, as an intriguing beacon, attracting the jaded post-modern seeker. But again, it may not. Going out, apostleship, is not emphasized, or so it seems

It is tempting to categorize these two approaches or models as fitting the teaching and personality of our two living Popes. While Pope Francis doesn't seem to say much about the liturgy (there are but a few lines about beauty in Evangelii Gaudium; this programmatic address to CELAM in Rio in 2013 warns against "restorationism," calling it the Pelagian solution; and the 2007 "Aparecida Document" [which has a Bergoglian stamp all over it], says nothing about liturgical formation), the emphasis on going out, on the peripheries, on discipleship being fruitful in everyday life, and apostleship is certainly one of his favorite themes. Pope Benedict, is, of course, known for his love of the liturgy, and his Pontificate focused on this in a special way, but he is no less evangelical in his thought and exhortation.

Of course, I would want to argue that both these "models" are vitally necessary. Discipleship and apostleship, as well as the culture of encounter and personal accompaniment, the willingness to go out and get messy, that Pope Francis talks about are vital, but so is a restored sense of the sacred, the transcendent, in our parishes and communities. Divine worship, after all, is central to who we are as Catholics, and if we don't get it right, so to speak, in this area, then the rest will be flawed as well. Another way of putting it is that the reverent celebration of the liturgy is as much a part of evangelization as is the culture of encounter, and forming disciples. A disciple, after all, is one who is transformed by the encounter with the Lord, which is renewed and perpetuated in the liturgy, the source and summit of the Christian life.

Finally, both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict (and Pope St. John Paul II -- just read Novo Millenio Inueunte, #30, for instance) emphasize the priority of God in all ecclesial activity, that is the priority of humility, listening, prayer and discernment, and warn against the temptation to operating purely out of a functional or institutional mindset.

Let me conclude this bit of a ramble of a blog post with the words of Pope John Paul, in the document mentioned above:
First of all, I have no hesitation in saying that all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness ...  
 At first glance, it might seem almost impractical to recall this elementary truth as the foundation of the pastoral planning in which we are involved at the start of the new millennium. Can holiness ever be "planned"? What might the word "holiness" mean in the context of a pastoral plan? 
In fact, to place pastoral planning under the heading of holiness is a choice filled with consequences. It implies the conviction that, since Baptism is a true entry into the holiness of God through incorporation into Christ and the indwelling of his Spirit, it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity. To ask catechumens: "Do you wish to receive Baptism?" means at the same time to ask them: "Do you wish to become holy?" It means to set before them the radical nature of the Sermon on the Mount: "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (NMI, #30, 31) 
A parish that takes seriously this call is well on its way to transformation, to new life.