Tag Archives: Roman Catholic

Plenty of reasons to love Mass

December 3, 2011

1 Comment

The spirit is alive in today’s Catholic Church. Here’s another great blog of reasons to love  going to Mass. This is just one a a double handful of good bullet points:

  • Beliefs – no mincing words on Sunday. In a 60-second declaration we stand up and tell you what we believe, not what we feel. It’s the Catholic elevator pitch!
Continue reading...

Ease into the changes that are coming to Catholic Mass

March 1, 2011

0 Comments

The changes in the Mass that Catholics saw following the Second Vatican Council were fought by a few, loved by some and endured and eventually accepted by many.  Now that a new English translation of the Mass is coming our way in Advent 2011, publishers are cranking out explanations to help smooth the transition from words many have said and heard for 40 years to words we’ll say and hear come November.

I read one awful one — I won’t name it lest it get any undue publicity at all — but it was attack-dog like in blasting anything that has happened in Catholic life since 1962 as the reason Rome had to “correct” the Mass.

On the other side of the ledger is “Understanding the Revised Mass Texts,” a product of Liturgy Training Publications in Chicago. Written by Father Paul Turner, a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO, this simple, 50-page booklet is a pastorally sensitive work that is well worth the $1.25 per copy. And there are discounts for parishes that purchase in bulk.

Explaining first why and how the Mass text have been revised, the booklet takes a factual yet positive approach to the changes, but it does so with the sensitivity of an understanding and compassionate pastor who knows his flock. Take for example:

“The new translation employs a more formal style than we use in ordinary conversation. Many sentences are longer. The vocabulary is broader. As with all change, there will be challenges. The adjustments will take some effort, but the results should be worth that effort.”

And then there’s this:

“By turning attention to the original Latin texts, the Church has raised some unintended fears. Many Catholics who lived through the era of the Second Vatican Council want reassurance that its reforms will remain. They hope that the recent compassionate outreach to those who prefer the 1962 Mass in Latin does not foreshadow a wholesale withdrawal of the vernacular. It does not. English is here to stay. It will be enriched through a reexamination of the original texts in Latin.”

Father Turner points to differences in attitude and rhythm that some may notice, and, as he walks readers through the various places in the Mass where words have been changed, consistently reinforces that the aim was to enrich our prayer by bringing the language closer to the original, often highlighting echoes of passages from Scripture.

He notes where changes are small and minor and when they are major, as in the words of the Gloria and the Creed. The previous translation and the new translation are printed side by side so the changes can be absorbed visually, too.

The changes are pointed out, the differences explained, and the purpose for the change named: Here’s what the translators were trying to achieve. Again, it’s a very positive analysis, one that seems intended to help Catholics appreciate the benefit that the translators were aiming for.

Yet this work isn’t afraid to point out that the word “consubstantial” that we’ll be reciting in the new translation of the Creed is, in the author’s words, “a mouthful” and “a very unusual word.”

“In the entire revised translation of the Mass, this is probably the one word that will raise the most eyebrows,” the booklet notes. It certainly did for this writer, and I’m not convince it isn’t a mistake. The meaning and use are explained, though, as describing a very unusual thing — the nature of Jesus Christ — and Jesus is not like anything else.

I’m still not sure that isn’t simply rationalizing, but I’m going to take heart in Father Turner’s reminder that after a time and so many uses Catholics will get use to the new language.

Others won’t think so, of course, and their proof may be in those who haven’t gotten over those Mass changes from the 1960s. I’m hoping, though, that these changes are going to have a side benefit that will outweigh whatever negative emotions linger from these new revisions of the liturgy: Helping Catholics better understand and appreciate the Mass. As the changes are explained, booklets like “Understanding the Revised Mass Texts” take each part of the liturgy and help readers see its purpose, why it’s part of the Catholic tradition, how we are brought closer to God and to one another through our prayer together. That’s a good thing. — bz

Continue reading...

Father John Forliti’s new book offers ‘Ten Anchors’ every Catholic — especially teens and young adults — ought to know and cherish

December 8, 2010

0 Comments

New book by Father John Forliti

Father John Forliti wants to make it difficult for teen and young adult Catholics to miss out on the satisfying, hope-filled, “anchoring” gift that Catholic life offers.

The retired pastor who is now a high school chaplain believes that young people will grow personally and both the church and society will benefit if younger folks know more about their church, if they see the good that people of faith have brought to the world, and if they realize that the church values what they value.

Already the author of a double-handful of books, many which deal with values and choices, Father Forliti has put together a compact, 75-page paperback that may just be an answer to keeping younger Catholics from drifting away from their baptismal faith.

At the heart of Catholic life

“Ten Anchors” presents just that, 10 solid values, ideas and elements of Catholic life that are key “for navigating the sea of life,” as Father John puts it.

Each chapter offers the long-time priest-educator’s reflection on a dimension of the church that he considers at the heart of the Roman Catholic experience:

  • Compassion;
  • Social Justice;
  • Moral Tradition;
  • Jesus;
  • The Eucharist;
  • Reverence for Life;
  • Respect for the Mind;
  • Easter People;
  • Roman and Catholic;
  • Mary and the Saints.

Much good news to share

As with most of the writing by this 73-year-old priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, “Ten Anchors” is filled with stories – and they’re “good news” stories. That’s a strength, because as Father Forliti notes, secular sources readily share all that can discourage young people from being connected to religion.

“In its 2,000-year history,” he notes, “the Catholic Church has done it all, both the best and the worst. While others may choose to write about its failures, this book will focus on its successes.”

Readers will learn, for example, about the compassion of the founders of religious communities, about the work of Catholic Charities, the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, the values embedded in the Ten Commandments, the Catholic scientists throughout history who have enlightened humankind, the rationale for Catholic belief on the sacredness of life.

Father Forliti invites his readers to “walk with me through the Mass from beginning to end,” explaining the major parts of the Eucharistic liturgy “and how it might speak to you.”

Textbook-like usefulness

Each chapter concludes with three brief sections that solidify the teaching on that chapter’s topic.

First there are a handful of lines that concisely summarize why that dimension of the church is so important.

Father John follows with suggestions for how to incorporate that dimension into one’s life. These are down-to-earth suggestions: Memorize the Ten Commandments; study Catholic history – don’t be satisfied with hearsay; read a biography of an American saint; choose an agency or cause you can support with prayers and financial help, “no matter how small”; choose a Gospel and “walk” through it, noting the words, actions and feelings of Jesus. “What is it he is saying to you, what is he doing that impresses you, and what is he feeling that inspires you?”

Finally, each chapter concludes with a short prayer.

“Ten Anchors” is a book that will make a great add-on to any faith formation efforts for those in the later years of high school and older teens and young adults. Youth ministers and young adult ministers may want to check it out as a 10-week series. Older adults will find it valuable as well as a refresher course.

It’s a well-written, well-edited capsulation of the dimensions of Catholic life that, from his years on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas, as pastor of St. Olaf in downtown Minneapolis, and now as chaplain at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Father Forliti knows must be handed on to the next generation. — bz

“Ten Anchors” is available from the author for $12.95. Contact Father Forliti at jeforliti@comcast.net. It is also available at http://www.lulu.com.

Continue reading...

How Protestants — and Nixon — tried to keep JFK out of the White House

April 29, 2009

1 Comment

“The Making of a Catholic President:
Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960″
by Shaun A. Casey

Protestants and Republicans failed, but they did their damnedest to try to keep a Catholic from becoming president of the United States.

This incredibly detailed account proves — with the hard evidence of preserved letters and memoirs — that under the guise of fighting to preserve the principle of separation of church and state, large Protestant denominations and influential Protestant leaders teamed with the Republican Party and its nominee in the 1960 election — Richard M. Nixon — to feed anti-Catholic prejudice among the large Protestant voting majority.

Famous names like the Rev. Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale are uncovered as joining in, nay, leading the charge, in order to keep the Catholic Kennedy from the White House.

Casey’s research shows how Protestant ministers and church leaders used their pulpits and their printing presses to blatantly state that no Catholic could ever be trusted to uphold the U.S. Constitution as president.

The anti-Catholic bias came out via the preaching sermons that attacked JFK, airing radio and television programs that did the same, running lengthy articles against Kennedy in Protestant magazines like Christian Century and Christianity and Crisis, and printing and distributing hundreds of thousands of pamphlets in an attempt to sway the election Nixon’s way. Leading the chorus of anti-Catholicism was the Republican National Committee.

Nixon involvement uncovered
If only the American public had known about the duplicitous ways of Richard Nixon during the 1960 presidential campaign, the country may never have heard of a bungled burglary at the Watergate complex because Nixon’s credibility would never have allowed him to even run for the presidency later, no less be elected or approve of criminal activity to try to win re-election.

While publicly vowing not to raise the issue of a candidate’s faith, Nixon surreptitiously had former Missouri congressman O.K. Armstrong working the anti-Catholic bias angle across the country with Protestant church leaders and especially the anti-Catholic group Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Armstrong recruited organizations like Citizens for Religious Freedom, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Assemblies of God and the National Council of Churches to use speeches and printed material to show how a Catholic president would undermine the country.

Armstrong worked under the guidance of Albert Hermann of the Republican National Committee, who was the organizer of anti-Catholic forces for Nixon.
Bias clouded issues
Casey points out that the issues of the day in 1960 were public funding for Catholic schools, the appointment of a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, a supposed threat to separation of church and state, and especially the fear that the Vatican would direct a Catholic president in how to govern the country. What comes through the historical evidence is first the fear by Protestant elites that the United States would no longer be a “Protestant nation,” and second that both Protestants and Republican leaders feared Catholic voting power.

Interestingly, President Dwight Eisenhower had won the majority of Catholics in both the 1952 and 1956 elections.

In going after the anti-Catholic vote, Nixon took up a suggestion from Rev. Billy Graham, who wrote in a letter to the then vice president, “when the chips are down I think the religious issue would be very strong and might conceivable work in your behalf.” Graham in fact shared his mailing list with the anti-Kennedy efforts.

Nixon, however, had a problem of his own: Civil rights. In order to gain Protestant votes, he had to win a large percentage of conservative white southern voters, so he could not be seen as progressive on race and have any chance at the southern vote. In hindsight, that foretold the Republicans’ “Southern Strategy” that took electoral voters from the formerly Democratic “Solid South” camp for election after election in the later part of the 20th Century.
Kennedy and his faith
“The Making of a Catholic President” shows how the Kennedy camp came to realize the serious threat that JFK faced from anti-Catholic bigotry and how he and his strategists determined to confront the issue directly.

Kennedy sought out and listened to Protestant leaders and then addressed their fears.

Over and over during the primaries and the general election campaign JFK voiced his opposition to tax dollars for Catholic education, his opposition to an ambassador to the Vatican, and his commitment to the constitution of the country over the dogma of his faith.

He entered the West Virgina primary, winning the votes of that overwhelmingly Protestant populace, then into the lions’ den of the Houston Ministerial Association, where he gave a speech and answered questions from that hostile Protestant audience.

That event may be the most often recalled remarks by Kennedy about the impact of his religion on his actions in office.

“Whenever an issue may come before me as President . . . I will make my decision . . . in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.”

Kennedy’s statement echoed a quote that appeared in a Look magazine feature on him Feb. 16, 1959: “Whatever one’s religion in his private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution in all parts — including the First Amendment and the strict separation of church and state.”

At the time, Kennedy was chided by writers in Catholic magazines like the Jesuit’s America and lay-run Commonweal “for yielding too much ground to the Protestant worriers,” as
author Casey put it.

What is more interesting, and which deserves similar book-length treatment, are thoughts Casey brings up in his epilogue.

For further reflection
JFK carried 83% of the Catholic vote in 1960, 34% of the white Protestant vote, and 50% of the regular-attending black churchgoers, but won the electoral votes of hugely Protestant Texas, perhaps in part thanks to running mate Lyndon Johnson.

But Casey asks: “What was the nature of Kennedy’s Catholicism?”

The answer according to one priest who knew him well was that he was a conventional Catholic of his day who understood the structures and traditions that were the church of 1950s Boston.(That priest was a certain Father John Wright, a confidant of then-Senator Kennedy who offered extremely valuable advice about how to handle the issue of his faith. The priest later became the Bishop of Pittsburgh and a John Cardinal Wright.)

Even is one disavows some of the alleged moral failings that have come to light about JFK in the years since his assassination, considering the current climate of pressure on Catholic candidates from some of the American hierarchy and other corners of the church, one has to wonder if today JFK would be able to pull 83% of the Catholic vote, or if the fact that we now have had a Catholic president would take the cachet off electing a Catholic for Catholic voters.

Still more to think about
Casey’s epilogue offers cause for reflection for other, more important issues for today’s Catholic.

In pointing out how JFK sought understanding from Protestants, not endorsement, Casey says:

“As religion has increasingly become connected to the political divide in this country, it has reinforced a gulf among faith communities such that members of the religious Right and the religious Left routinely demonize one another and, in doing so, ape the worst aspects of American political culture.”

He adds two more thoughts:

First, the political independence of faith communities is good for both the faith communities and the nation. Second, endorsements of politicians by faith communities are usually misguided.

“The Making of a Catholic President” should be read by every Catholic — and every Protestant — eligible to vote. — bz
Continue reading...

Thanks for the “Pope” pulp, but you shouldn’t have

February 29, 2008

0 Comments

“High Hat,”
by Greg Mandel

I hadn’t read four complete paragraphs of “High Hat” when I began asking myself if I’d had enough and it was okay to stop.

The same question came to mind many times, but I kept forcing myself on, just to see if Greg Mandel could pull off this wacky idea of a Mickey Spillane-type pulp fiction novel in which the private detective has a day job — as the pope, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

After plodding through all the obtuse private-eye vernacular for 130 pages, the answer was, “No.”

Sorry, Greg. All the kitsch in the world can’t save a hokey plot. And how many 130-page paperbacks can you describe as having to plod through?

It’s like the author put all the energy into trying to come up with cute similes and metaphors ala Mike Hammer and forgot that realistic drama was an essential element to hold readers’ attention.

The storyline has someone trying to get possession of the bones of St. Peter because they allegedly have mysterious powers. The pope, as alter ego A. Pope — get it? — Vatican City’s only private detective, stumbles on the bad guys and goes through the usual ups and downs the pulp fiction genre requires, getting into as much hot water as, well, as Mandel might have put it, enough hot water to bathe the whole College of Cardinals.

And the creative P-I lingo? Papal garments are call “the holy muumuu;” lips are “ruby smoochers;” the pope never walks anywhere, he “ankles” over; the Mennonite splinter group bad guys are “pretzel benders.” All that’s campy for a while, and silly almost to the point of funny, but not quite.

Save yourself the two hours. If you need a fix of stuff like this, find a “Batman” rerun on cable TV. That’s about the quality of the story and the action — and you’ll only be wasting 30 minutes of your life. — bz

Continue reading...