Latin, Liturgy, and Tradition

When I arrived in Rome for the first time in 1999 a brother from my community took the new arrivals on a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. At one point I asked him if St. Pius X was buried there. The Gregorian Chant choir that had been instrumental in my spiritual conversion five years earlier was the St. Pius X Choir of the Pajaro Valley (some of whom now form part of the Latin Mass community at Sacred Heart Parish, Hollister). The brother replied, “I’ll take you to him.” It wasn’t the response I expected. St. Pius X is incorrupt and actually buried in an altar in the main basilica. You can actually see him (see the photo below). After that realization I’d always wanted to say Mass at that altar, but it was usually first come, first serve in the morning at the Basilica and I never got the chance. During Christmas time it was blocked by a Nativity Scene.

One of my brother priests asked me to help him edit an English text, and one day I’d mentioned to him in passing that I’d always wanted to celebrate Mass at that altar. Little did I know that you could reserve the altar. Thankfully, he did, and he made a reservation for us to concelebrate at the altar on Monday, May 29th and surprised me with it as a small thank you for my help. I prayed for Traditionalists, for everyone who loved the Latin Mass, and for all the schismatic Latin Mass groups to return to full communion with Rome.

I love celebrating Mass in Latin. The thought of it raises many peoples hackles. The generation that preceded me was very hurt and polarized by what happened during the liturgical reforms after Vatican II, and much of it raged concerning the use of Latin in the liturgy. They either lament its loss or become angered at its mention. I was too young to remember if I ever heard a Latin Mass as a child, but in 1992 or 1993, as an adult, it captivated me and quickly became a devotion.  Thankfully under Pope Benedict XVI a provision was established for those who wanted to celebrate the Mass in Latin to be able to do so unhindered in full communion with Rome.

When in Rome I frequently have an opportunity to celebrate the Ordinary Form (aka the Novus Ordo) in Latin, the same Mass Catholics of the Roman Rite celebrate in the vernacular throughout the world. I respect the Extraordinary Form (aka the Tridentine Mass), but the Ordinary Form has always been enough for me, and in centers for formation we Legionaries usually celebrate solemnities in sung Latin (Ordinary Form). For me it evokes the mystery we participate in every time we celebrate the Eucharist.

Whatever language the Mass is celebrated in, remember that you are partaking in a profound mystery.

Second semester, unplugged

I’m two days shy of not having blogged here for five months, and I have no excuse. I can only characterize them as quiet and uneventful. In December we prepared for Christmas with priestly ordinations and I helped with confessions at the retreat for the families of the deacons about to be ordained priests.  I was also invited to give a talk at the International Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae on preparing lectures (looking for video clips to illustrate my points was the funnest part), and various Christmas parties, followed by a nice quiet Christmas at the Center for Higher Studies with my religious family. I had a serious attack of the lazies and didn’t blog post-Christmas as I usually do.

Before I knew it, the first semester ended, exams came and went (the students did very well this year), the second semester began, then Lent and Easter went by as well. During Holy Week I helped out a group coming from Canada and New England whose chaplain got sick at the last minute. I’d helped the same organizers for similar reasons ten years ago as a newly-ordained priest. This time it was Mass and confessions at home, then a day in Assisi (a beautiful day; below is a photo of St. Clare’s, where I prayer for all the Poor Clare’s I know, including those in Aptos and the nuns of EWTN, and the chapel of St. Damian, where the crucifix miraculously spoke to St. Francis of Assisi and Our Lord asked him to rebuild the Church).

I would characterize the second semester as unplugged (with apologizes to musicians, since the metaphor is a little forced). This semester I’m doing a Licentiate-level theology seminar on the theology of Henri de Lubac. I have six students, and each week we read and discuss selected readings from de Lubac’s Catholicism and The Splendor of the Church. It’s unplugged since no laptop or PowerPoint are needed, unlike my bachelor’s level course during the first semester. Just reading and discussion. It’s nice to have quiet time to read and reflect.

I also finally published the American edition on Amazon of the proceedings of the university’s theology congress on the Kingdom of Christ (in Spanish). If you know any Spanish speakers who’d like a systematic theology reflection on the Kingdom of Christ, this book is for them. I hope someday to translate it into English. Included is my paper on the relationship between the Church and the Kingdom of Christ.

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Have a wonderful summer everyone. I’ll be visiting California in August and will post Mass times when they’re finalized.

 

10 Years of God’s Wonders

Saint John Paul the II described his priestly vocation as a gift and a mystery. I have seen that the priestly vocation is a gift because it is totally unmerited, and is never separated in your heart from the love of its giver, a love that endures forever. The gift testifies to that love, because the more perfect a gift it is, the more it suits you, and the more it shows how much the giver knows and loves you. The vocation is a mystery because is a part of God’s Providence that always has something more to say, and will only be fully fathomed when we meet Him face to face in Heaven.

A vocation, which is the calling God extends to each and every one of us on this earth, is a gift and mystery of the mirabilia Dei (the wonders of God) in a life, and, like the Israelites in times of the Old Testament, and the budding Christian communities of the New Testament, the mirabilia of God aren’t confined to one past moment in history, nor can they be contained in one moment of history. In times of light and darkness they shine through, reminding us of the past, illuminating the present, and promising the future. They occur in the grandest moments as well as the most intimate ones of our lives.

Today I celebrate the tenth anniversary of my priestly ordination, and it continues to be a gift and a mystery. This morning, during my meditation before the Blessed Sacrament, I meditated on the ten years of priestly blessings that I have received. I’ve come to the altar on many days with joy, some days with tears, but every day bringing the intentions of the whole world with me to entreat Our Heavenly Father through His Son to bless and protect my flock and all those in need of prayers and grace. I’ve considered every soul I’ve tried to help as a member of my constantly expanding flock, which I remember in prayer at every celebration of the Eucharist, asking the Lord to hear their prayer intentionsand to watch over them.

This morning in I concelebrated, in the same chapel where I was ordained a priest, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception with all my Legionary brothers of the Center for Higher Studies in Rome, presided over by our General Director. Four of my brothers, my former students, received the ministry of Acolyte and, God-willing, in May will be ordained deacons as a step toward their own priestly ordination.

I remembered you all in my Mass, in gratitude for the gift of the priesthood. I am grateful to all of you for your prayers and support in these ten years of priesthood. Please count on my prayers and my priestly blessing.

 

Jubilee for Universities

During the Year of Mercy special gatherings are organized for certain groups of the faithful, jubilees. A few days after returning to Rome I participated in the Jubilee for Universities, Research Centers, and Institutions for Artistic Higher Education. The event began on the afternoon of September 7th at the Pontifical Lateran University in the Aula Magna (Great Hall, dedicated to Pope Benedict XVI). It has a striking mosaic of Our Lord, Christ the Teacher. As part of the Jubilee a symposium was also organized in Knowledge and Mercy that was attended by academics from all over the world.

On Thursday, September 8th small group sessions were organized all over Rome, broken down by field of study (22 disciplines) and forums on topics such as university management. I attended the group session on theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. One of the most interesting talks was a Biblical reflection on the story of Jonah as someone resenting the Lord’s mercy because he doesn’t want to reconcile with those he despises and gradually comes to accept it, although the story remains open ended.

On Friday, September 9th there was a gathering of ecclesial movements and associations involved in universities at the Lateran University, and professors and employees from our two universities in Rome, the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum (where I work) and the European University of Rome, attended talks by the secretary for the Congregation for Catholic Education, and our Chancellor (and General Director of the Legion), Fr. Eduardo Robles-Gil.

The Jubilee concluded at the General Audience with the Holy Father on Saturday morning. I admit I was tempted to leave a little early in order to catch the train, but an audience is not complete without receiving the Holy Father’s blessing. Receiving his blessing was especially important because he always extends it to the family members of those present, especially the sick, and many of my aunts and uncles are getting older and frailer and needed his blessing. In the end I received the blessing for everyone and made it home earlier than the train would have gotten me home because the bus connections all Providentially fell into line.

Summer in Cupertino 2016

I’ve resisted the temptation to entitle this post, “How I spent my summer vacation” because for most of the summer I was working. June was time for helping with final exams in Rome, an activity that is not particularly picturesque unless you want to see students squirming and perspiring.

In July I headed back to the United States for a few weeks working on writing projects for rcspirituality.org, then visited home in August and went on vacation in and around Cupertino. We stayed in the beautiful Legionary retreat house, Our Lady of Santa Clara. This is a picture of the statue of the Blessed Mother on the back deck of the retreat center. It was just installed and blessed this year.

During my stay the Legionary brothers working in Cupertino renewed their temporal vows at Canyon Heights Academy. School families attended and later we had a pizza party at Round Table.

I should have entitled this post, “sharing the beauty” of California. Writing and researching is not very photogenic, so most of the photos are when I and other writers slipped away for an outing, as well as my vacation at the end of August. California is a beautiful state, so I’ll just let the pictures do the talking (or showing).

Point Lobos and Carmel Mission (where St. Junipero Serra is buried):

The campus of Stanford University and Stevens Creek County park:

The Japanese Friendship Gardens and Kelley History Park in San Jose:

Rancho San Antonio County Park, Cupertino, and the reservoir on Highway 17 at the end of the Los Gatos Creek Trail:

I also celebrated my birthday by going to the Computer History Museum, a wonderful experience for reconnecting with my inner nerd and feeling old: they had practically every PC, gadget, and game on display that I owned for the last forty-nine years. The Legionary community in Cupertino was also nice enough to get me a cake: