Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Apostolic Constitutions

I have managed to find an online copy of the Apostolic Constitutions a document believed to have been compiled largely in Syria in the 4th century although there are a few distinctly Roman features in it. It is worth a read particularly the sections on the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. The salient excerpt is follows (with my highlights)


LVII. But be thou, O bishop, holy, unblameable, no striker, not soon angry, not cruel; but a builder up, a converter, apt to teach, forbear-ing of evil, of a gentle mind, meek, long-suffering, ready to exhort, ready to comfort, as a man of God. When thou callest an assembly of the Church as one that is the commander of a great ship, appoint the assemblies to be made with all possible skill, charging the deacons as mariners to prepare places for the brethren as for passengers, with all due care and decency.

And first, let the building be long, with its head to the east, with its vestries on both sides at the east end, and so it will be like a ship. In the middle let the bishop's throne be placed,
and on each side of him let the presbytery sit down; and let the deacons stand near at hand, in close and small girt garments, for they are like the mariners and managers of the ship: with regard to these,

let the laity sit on the other side, with all quietness and good order.
And let the women sit by themselves, they also keeping silence.

And further on after a description of the liturgy of the Word:

After this, let all rise up with one consent, and looking towards the east, after the catechumens and penitents are gone out, pray to God eastward, who ascended up to the heaven of heavens to the east; remembering also the ancient situation of paradise in the east, from whence the first man, when he had yielded to the persuasion of the serpent, and disobeyed the command of God, was expelled.

Now that our large liturgical celebrations are over, it being time to think of other things like getting out on the water and getting some sailing in.
Skandia is now in the lead in the Sydney to Hobart as I write.

As servers we are deputising for the deacons. So we are like the crew of the ship, with the Bishop as its helmsman.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 08

Four weeks ago we began the advent season, a time for prayer and reflection in preparation for Christmas. Advent was a time for us; in the words of St John the Baptist to prepare a way for the Lord. Advent has an important eschatological theme, Christ will return, he will come again as he once did, no longer as the infant, but rather as the pantocrator, the just judge. Now at last Christmas has arrived. Did Christmas spring up on us like the thief in the night, or did we come prepared to welcome the joyful feast?

The liturgical cycle, is to show us the history of salvation so that we learn our history, but it is also a tool to prepare us to those last hours of our lives and the hour of our judgement. The Christmas story is filled with multiple messages, one of such is if there is room, just as the holy family were seeking a room to spend the night on the first Christmas eve, so too now does Christ look to see if there is any room in the inn of our Hearts. The Lord of all creation somehow does not take up much room, just a little manger, but somehow he is too big for even the weekends of our lives….

“Today Christ is born, today the saviour has appeared; today the angels sing on earth, the archangels rejoice; today upright men shout out for joy: Glory be to God on high, alleluia.” Magnificat ant of Vespers II of Christmas

To all my dear readers, I wish to pass on my warmest Christmas wishes, Merry Christmas and a happy new year, I look back fondly on our many blogging adventures. I invite all my readers to share with us in the comment section just a little about who they are and why they read this blog .(I have a suspicion that people read this blog).

Felix Nativitas!!

Felix Nativitas et pax vobis!! to all our readers of this blog.

We will have more pics and comment in the new year for you to enjoy and comment on.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Here is a dying Church

On Cathnews there is an article on the Parish of Caloundra on Queensland's Sunshine Coast cancelling Midnight Mass. Now for those of you around the world, Caloundra parish is the next closest thing to St Mary's in South Brisbane. When I last attended Mass there a few years ago the Roman Rite was almost unrecognisable, and I felt incredibly alienated by a liturgy that I did not understand. To top it off my sister accused me of being "un-christian" when I refused to talk to the person next to me before Mass when instructed to do so by the whoever that was at the ambo.

For those of you not familiar to the area Caloundra, (or rather Catholic Caloundra) is basically God's waiting room. The congregation is very elderly. They are ministered to by elderly priests, who are very much locked into a revolutionary post Vatican II mindset, and see any other opposing opinion as evil. This flows right through into the arrangement of the church and the liturgy. Actually you see here what Pope Benedict calls the "desintegration of liturgy". I will not bore you with details, you can go into the St Marys website to see that, the only difference here is that the liturgy is mainly done by 70 to 90 year old women.

After internal desintegration, here we see the first signs of a parish's corporate worship starting to disintegrate on the outside. The parish community is too old to attend a midnight Mass. The priests are too old to celebrate midnight Mass. The community feels isolated and at risk because of the drunks (pretty all of whom would have no religious belief), and the neighbours. As the community ages further it will reduce in numbers (there is really nothing attractive about the style of liturgies), and the priests will retire. The liturgies will reduce in number. It is then likely to fade away with a small "rump" left of Vatican II hippies living in the past.

The question is then what replaces it? Will the local church regenerate into a small strong church that is attractive young and welcoming??

Incidently at our local Cathedral there is one pub very close by. (There used to be two before one burnt down). We have not have any problem with drunks at all. Maybe because that the odd few drunks have to contend with a crowd of over 1,000 worshippers, and the incense chases them away. A verse comes to mind:

"There was 2 against 2000, and when the smoke finally settled we had beaten the shit out of both of them"

The Propers of the Season (Anglican chant)

Here is a good one from the Hermeneutic of Continuity blogspot. I just love Anglican chant!

The Cassock and Surplice

"The Priory is wondering how business is going. Do you think you should share your gothic surplice or is it special? What is the market like? Do you have much competition from those who offer training services with appareled alb ? Is the financial crisis having an adverse effect? Is it still bringing home the bacon?"

Well, I have two Gothic Surplices, one I frequently loan out to others, the other I reserve for myself, expect for a few occasions such as for a priest for his first blessing and for the use of the mad Franciscan during the ACCC conference. The Market is almost non-existent, Modern parishes find my services too traditional, or too far beyond what there used to. As for competition, my services also extent to appareled albs... but alas it is far to difficult to organizes three matching apparaled albs, as well as being far to prentcious to be the only one on the altar in apparales (tend to look better then most celebrants). In regards to the crisis, perhaps if business was booming, the effect might be felt, but jobs are far and few between.

As I mentioned at the priory, just in case someone wants to be a stick in the mud... (I'm looking at a partuclar Benedictine oblate as well as a few self rightous Latin Massers) I am not serving for money or financial benefit, that's sinful, stupid and down right non profitable, just pointing out the obvious to some. (Cough, Cough)

"And finally, any pre-Mass superstitions? Like pouring the wine into the cruets before the water?"

A few, such as if the Indian is late, then all hell will break loose, Don't work with animmals and Children and make sure you put out a lavabo towel, otherwise the celebrant will use the slevee of your alb to dry his hands. Post Mass superstitions would involve not letting certain servers leave too early, they undoubtly will try to flirt with women using the pickup line "Did you see up there, I was the thurifer smoking the place out, you should come next week, I'll be the MC then"...

Finally just a word of advice to parishes, priests and to Catholic education. Servers are great, not only do they promote vocations (if they are male), but they do serve practical purposes (such as helping out at benediction) and they tend to look better then draftee laybodys who want to be involved (or are rather forced)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Advertising

Our friends at the priory have quite laudably and quite unexpectedly done our post about a humble little blog here. Quite surprisingly they have written praises that I fear we do not deserve, or at least I do not, perhaps I should post a few more times before I retire to my hermitage.

Our friends join the ranks of the many who have noticed my permanent add about the server for hire. Perhaps a brief history lesson is in order about it's origins. Not to long ago, Rev Albert Speer and I were discussing my blog before his Weekly low Mass at a secret location...... needless to say I was wearing my appareled alb..... and he was wearing mountains of lace, a cardboard sandwich and a funny hat. Rev Albert suggested I do an Australian version of Traditio, I kindly declined the offer saying that it was already done by the learnared Coo ees. Having shot down his previous idea, Rev Albert then suggest I do an advertisment say "Have cassock and surplice will travel". I agreed and decided to put one up on the blog....

Where has it got me so far? Well unfortunatly business is slow. A kind hearted Dominican, who belives me to be a little version of himself has requested me to serve his ordination.... unfortunatly he only agreed to pay my bus fare to it. This has been the only case of business that the blog has generated. Closer to home a local Jesuit requested that I sever the ACCC confrerence in Brisbane, a few fun adventures were had, but the yeild was only a grand total of $50.... which was promply divided with my sidekick... and spent on sun glasses and a fabric belt.
Finally the local parish and the Charismatic mother of my school captain, offered to have my serve the 13th Fatmia devotions in the local parish. After 3hrs of offkey music, praying in tounges, forgetting the lavabo towel and discussing laity with the parish priest, I had $35 dollars thrust into my hand....

I do belive I have come a long way from my former days at the Polish Church.. being paid a megar $10 a year.

I'll leave the twenty question till the next post. Must run I have a potential client to meet with.... Sharpey !

Friday, December 12, 2008

Some Recent Comments on Celebration Ad-orientem

Over at the New Litugical Movement, there have been some interesting comments by priests and bishops introducing ad-orientem celebration.

This ancient practice also avoids giving the impression that the priest and the congregation are engaged in a conversation about God, rather than the worship of God. The third reason was that it reduces the temptation to regard the celebrant as an actor on a liturgical stage. When he and the congregation together face forward to Christ, it makes it easier to visualize that the priest is offering the Mass in the person of Christ. Bp Edward Slattery Dioces of Tulsa, Oklahoma

Why? To restore a healthy sense of the sacred, the transcendent. So that this is not perceived as a social hour or “Entertainment Tonight”, but the Church’s worship of the triune God. Fr. Peter Stravinskas

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thomas Merton

Since high school I have been interested in the spirituality of Thomas Merton. I was reminded today that it is the 40th anniversary of his death.

Books that I have of his are A Thomas Merton Reader (an anthology), The Sign of Jonas, and The Monastic Journey and The Way of Lao Tzu. They have all been of use in my own spiritual journey, particualrly through my teenage years. It was he who was my spiritual guide through discerning my own vocation (which I found was not the cistercian one), in getting into the habit of reading the Office daily, and in getting in touch with who I really am. He introduced me to the desert fathers, and the great cistercian writers such as St Aelred of Rievaulx and Isaac of Stella, all of whom I still enjoy.

My main criticism of his writings is that they sometimes got too introspective about techniques of contemplation. Some of the traditionals/conservatives dont like him because he dabbled in eastern religions, and went all hippy in his hermitage. This is not correct. He kept to his catholic faith and was very orthodox but made the effort to reach out to others. In that he actually found that in terms of spiritual discipline, other religions have a lot in common with ours. Some of them like Zen are a lot more strict. He found echoes of Zen running through strands of Catholicism particularly in the spitituality of St John of the Cross. I actually find St John of the Cross and the great Zen master Dogen as equally obscure.

Here is a good short doco that I found through Whispers in the Loggia which gives a good overview of his life.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vestments, Do we need them?

Not too long ago, I found myself in a discussion with one of the local
youth group leaders. It turned out to be quite an interesting discussion,
and it turned out that we were both interested in Liturgy. Eventually we got onto the
topic of vestments, and my other friend chimed in about the vestments
we use for the first Friday vigil. The question, why do we
wear appareled amices (as well as why do we use so many candles) was asked.

My response was because they look good. The conversation kept going until,
the question grew to; why do we wear amices, why do we wear cinctures and why
do we wear cassocks underneath it all, an alb alone suffices. Quite right, the GIRM,
only mandates that just an alb be used and if it is constructed as not to require a cincture
and amice, then they are not required, as they serve no practical purpose. In the same way, a certain Latin Mass Chaplin I know thinks of the maniple, as not having any useful purpose; it’s just a useless ornament.

I responded, “well if you think about it, all the vestments serve no practical purpose”. These days we no longer need a chasuble to shield us from the elements, we don’t need a robe, a hood, or a belt, as well as two different forms of handkerchiefs.

Vestments for all intents and purposes, serve no useful purpose - the same can be said of incense, candles and churches, or for that matter religion (science can explain everything after all). You can all see where this is going, a very nihilistic end. “No so, the stole is still useful, it’s a mark of authority” was his response. But by that logic, then the chasuble, since it is a mark of charity is useful, same can be said of the chastity of the cincture, or the protection of the helm of salvation (Amice). Vestments suddenly take on meanings, beyond the mundane. They become symbols of heavenly realities.

Drama, evolved from liturgy, the ancient Greek plays were forms of worship of the gods. So just as the actor today puts on a costume and uses props, so to do our priests wear vestments and uses liturgical gear. The actor puts on a costume to be someone else. So does the priest and his ministers, they put on “Christ” , charity or as St Paul wishes to call it, the “armor of salvation”.

We believe that the sacraments convey grace. They are more then just the symbols we see, and the same can be said of vestments. Perhaps the priest, who only wears his stole, relies on his authority, or perhaps the priest who makes a point of wearing the cincture fosters chastity in his life. When we look from this angle, things suddenly become clear. Would there be some hidden agenda show by the priest refusing to wear the chasuble?

Vestments are symbolic, that’s why I prefer Gothic vestments, and they are fuller signs of the realities they represent. The long flowing chasuble is a better sign of the charity that should envelop all, the appareled amice gives us a better understanding of the term helmet of salvation, and the fullness of the surplice communicates to us more effectively the great baptismal grace we all receive.

Vestments are hot, bothersome and impractical, but then again, so is religion…….

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Don't worry, it's just bread after all

I reinforce what Stephan has said regarding Catholic Education.....
Perhaps if the mystery of faith was presented in a more serious way....
And maybe if we refrain from dropping the most precious treasure of our faith...
As well as handing it and passing it around as if it were mere bread....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thoughts on why young people leave the Church

There were a couple of things this week which got me thinking about why young people (particualrly those who go to Catholic schools) opt out at end of school or have well and truly opted out before leaving school. As Bishop Holohan of Bunbury said earlier this week, Confirmation has become the "Sacrament of Farewell".

People have put all sorts of reasons to this. The conservatives say that it is because the Church offers no challenges to young people and liberals say it is because the church is too conservative; and there is an element of truth in either argument.

However, a lot of the blame can be placed at the foot of modern approaches to the liturgy. After hearing Roman's description of his Graduation Mass, I thought of other Masses that I attended at school - thankfully they were not as outrageous. The liturgists have to extend themselves a little bit further all the time so that now they have a Mass of totally all their own creation. The emphasis is on what they can create and understand in the their own narrow world (ie. the Brisbane housewife approach to liturgy) and do not open up to the wider church and the cosmos. The Mass has then degenerated into a self-affirmation, or self-worship session.

I was serving at a Mass for an inner city Catholic School a few years ago. Although in the words of the headmaster that many of the students were "unchurched", all of these "unchurched" people were given tasks in the litugy presumably to be "inclusive". The order of Service book was more alppalling in that it had a description of the Mass (obviously to help the "unchurched" students) which was along the lines of "we first tell stories and then we share a meal together".

This, combined with my own experience at school, brings me to the conclusion of what is the reality. Catholicism, is so completely dumbed down when it it presented to high school students that it ceases to have any credibility at all. To a 15 year old "telling stories and sharing a meal" has no meaning and makes Catholicism look absurd. How can anyone call it a serious and credible belief system compared to any of the great religions of the world? How could any of this be of use to ones relationship with God? How does the faith have any relationship with western philosophy and thought?

To be frank, the Roman Catholic Church in Brisbane is killing itself. As the generations of un-churched parents send their un-churched kids to Catholic schools, in which a parody of the faith is presented, the church will find it harder to think that the Catholic schools are a tool for evangelisation.

Prepare for a very very small church in Brisbane in the future.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ukrianians at Marian Valley

All Saints

I apologizes for the late posting, I have been extremely busy with my academic life lately.
For the Feast of All saints, Fr William Define FSSP visited our Community here in Brisbane and Sung Solemn Mass.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Since yesterday it was the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica I thought I would post two of my pics of the basilica. I also have a movie which I shall provide shortly when I find out how to embed the movie.

Here is the statue of the Emperor Constantine whihc is is the narthex of the basilica. This was supposed to have been carved in his own lifetime. I like it because of its strong classical and imperial bearing.

As for me personally I celebrated 9 November at the St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. More of my observations of the style of revamped cathedral to come later.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Getting ready for the Sacred Liturgy - All Saints Day

Instead of focussing on the actual ceremonies I thought I would post some pics of the prep work before the liturgy celebrated on Saturday.

Getting familiarised with the form of the Gospel facing Liturgical North (unfortunately compass South at St Lukes but I suppose the Gospel is being proclaimed towards the darkness of Antarctica).

Lighting candles while Roman tries to find an Evangelarium. I'm pretty sure I was lighting them in the correct order.

Roman will undoubtedly show some pics of the actual liturgy.


A view of St Clement celebrating Mass in his basilica. But was he "presiding"?

One of the unique things that came out of the liturgical changes after Vatican II was the introduction of the concept of the priest presiding over the community at prayer. This has now got to a stage where in this archdiocese the priest is now referred to as a "presider". At the recent clergy conference a session was held on the art of "presiding". The term "presider" is commonly used by those to remove any notion of priesthood and lead us to a protestant form of worship.

I therefore thought that I would, with my limited knowledge and limited scholarship of matters liturgical, find out how this evolved.

The first reference to "presiding" is in Sacrosanctum Concilium n41

The bishop is to be considered as the High Priest of his flock from whom the life of Christ of his faithful is in some way derived and upon whom it in some way depends.

Therefore all should hold in the greatest esteem the liturgical life of the diocese centered around the bishop, especially in his Cathedral church. They must be convinced that the principal manifestation of the Church consists in the full, active participation of God's holy people in the same liturgical celebrations, especially in the same Eucharist, in one prayer, at one altar, at whihc the bishop presides surrounded by his college of priests and by his ministers cf. St Ignatius of Antioch).

But as it is impossible for the bishop always and everywhere to preside over the whole flock in his church, he must of necessity establish groupings of the faithful, and, among these, parishes, set up locally under a pastor who takes the place of the bishop, are the most important, for in some way they represent the visible church constituted throughout the world....Efforts must be made to encourage a sense of community within the parish, above all the common celebration of Sunday Mass.

This is followed up by GIRM n30 which states:

Among the parts assigned to the priest, the foremost is the Eucharistic Prayer, which is the
high point of the entire celebration. Next are the orations: that is to say, the Collect, the Prayer
over the Offerings, and the Prayer after Communion. These prayers are addressed to God in the
name of the entire holy people and all present by the priest who presides over the assembly in the
person of Christ.43 It is with good reason, therefore, that they are called the ‘presidential prayers.’

31. It is also up to the priest, in the exercise of his office of presiding over the gathered assembly,
to offer certain explanations that are foreseen in the rite itself.

The layout of the Church itself is to reflect the presiding function:

310. The chair of the priest celebrant must signify his office of presiding over the gathering and of
directing the prayer
. Thus the best place for the chair is in a position facing the people at the head
of the sanctuary, unless the design of the building or other circumstances impede this: for example,
if the great distance would interfere with communication between the priest and the gathered
assembly, or if the tabernacle is in the centre behind the altar.

This office of "presiding" does not appear in any of the pre-conciliar documents. Much of them such as in my analysis of Mediator Dei talk of the priest as interceding for the people and leading their prayer.

Much of the lead for the liturgical changes was the account by St Justin written about 150AD where he refers to the president or the presider (the translation of Jungmann's work follows this term) of the assembly. Of course in the tradition of St Ignatius this presider would have been a bishop or presbyter. A number of assumptions have been made from this; namely that there was no priest and the liturgy was primarily the work of the people (another misconception). The idea of presiding also seemed to drive the idea of the priest facing the congregation when of course Justin is silent about what people did in detail.

So here we expose an unintended consequence of wording. The term has been used to totally turn a liturgy on its head and, but furthermore:
  • encourage an attitude of arrogance over a community ie. a priest lords over his community

  • resulting in a talk show approach to liturgy (ie, the david letterman style)

  • denigrate the importance of priesthood now it is essentially the community that celebrates and he is merely there to keep things going (ie. an MC in more fancy dress)

I agree with Fr John McGavin, that this is "the most damaging legacy of the implementation of Vatican II" (The Priest Vol12 May 2008)

The priest leads his flock in prayer, and should do this in all humility, whether at the Altar directly in adoration to the Altar Cross, which stands at the point of reference of the entire liturgy (Ratzinger: Spirit of the Liturgy) or at the sedilia during the liturgy of the word arranged in an appropriate way so that his focus, and that of the congregation's can always be on Christ present at the Altar.

That is why the whole idea of removing High Altars out of old churches was a complete fallacy, and in the end a waste of time and money of little spiritual benefit.

PS: This congregation is focussed!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Church Crawling and hanging out with Roman

Last weekend Roman and I did what my friends call a "church crawl". This is very similar to a pub crawl except there is no drinking (except at the end) and much of the discussion is around liturgy and history and church gossip. Rome is an excellent place for church crawling as when you are tired you can fall into an exquisite restaurant at lunchtime (when all the churches close for siesta) and review the things that you have seen.

The novelist Evelyn Waugh was a great church crawler (or church spotting as the English call it) and his diary in his teen years recounts how he and his school friends went visiting churches. His leanings to catholicism appear this early as he was interested in the Anglo Catholic churches most of all.

We first visited St Johns Cathedral to see how it now looks with the fully extended nave. We also talked about how St Johns actually has a better layout for celebrating the Roman Rite in the Extraordinary Form.

The High Altar is simple and with steps and matches the early mediaeval French style of the cathedral. I know that it is generally used for Ad orientem celebration although there is room to celebrate facing the people.

The Altar shows a good arrangement of the crucifix and two candlesticks supplemented by large candle sticks on both sides. Some of you would say that this is not catholic but it actually follows some pre-tridentine practices. However, it better demonstrates some of the configuration which could be used for a Benedictine Altar arrangement if Mass is celebrated versus populum.

Here is a view from behind the Altar down the nave.

You can see the stone vaulting of the nave - the only place you see genuine stone vaulting on any large scale in Australia. The back of the Altar is very plain pointing to its east facing orientation.

From here we saw the Marian chapel, with a medieval Sarum style arrangement, but without riddels. Roman has some pics of the other chapels with medieval riddels. Eucharistic services are celebrated here during the week.

From there it was down to Brisbane's premier Anglo Catholic Church - All Saints. it has an eastward facing High Altar with six candles and a tabernacle. However, I was very impressed with the side chapel.

Note the Altar cards (which are in English). At All Saints they seem to have two types of liturgies, one to the English Missal (which is basically a reformed blend of the Tridentine Roman Missal, with the book of Common Prayer), and occasionally a more contemporary liturgy with a modern prayer book.

The church organist, Darren, gave us a bit of an explanation of the liturgy and a Mass sheet to takeaway. It showed the simplified Tridentine Missal in English interspersed with the Cranmerian prayers of the general confession at the Offertory (instead of the Confiteor at the start) and the modern Roman lectionary. If anything this shows what a more sensible revision of the Roman Rite in the 1960s may have looked like, if liturgical extremists had not got to it.

We found a table carrying candles and a centrally located crucifix (with corpus) up against a side wall, and asked what it was for. It turned out that this is a table that is occasionally set up in fron of the sanctuary used for versus populum celebrations. However, as the congregation strongly prefer Ad orientem celebration (and remember that this was an aspect that the Tractarian Movement fought for in the 1800's) this is rarely used.

it is intersting the divergent attitudes with liturgy. In the Catholic Church we think that the Liturgy of the Eucharist HAS to be celebrated facing the people, and it is rare to find a parish which celebrates the Ordinary Form Ad orientem. (Note: In Italy this is not so rare probably more because a lot of italians could not be bothered re-ordering their sanctuaries - more about that another time). In the Anglo Catholic Church it seems to be considered someting that is less than ideal and congregations appear to perceive it as a bit of a threat to their beliefs. It would be good if the Catholic church congregations had a lot more of that attitude.

We then went onto the Albert St Uniting Church but there was nothing really of interest there so we moved onto a cafe. St Stephens we did not bother with as we are there all of the time.

A short church crawl you might say but - it is Australia after all.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ukrianian hierarchical liturgy

Last week the Ukrainian Ordinary visited the Local Ukrainian rite Church, for the occasion of it's 50th anniversary of attaining the canonical status of a parish.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Vocations crisis

I find the idea of there being no difference between a cleric and a lay person absurd. If such was true, then a priest would merely be an underpaid and celibate social worker. If a priest were really that, then perhaps I could do his job as a married lay person, enjoying both a higher salary and a wife and kids. This would be the thinking of most Catholic young men, that is the root cause of our vocations problem, no young Catholic, especially teenage boys sees a priest being any different from a lay, single, social worker (Okay, perhaps a few do).

That's what it is, it's an image problem, there's nothing to draw young men in. Young men theses days are attracted by bling, fast cars and scantly clad women. I'm surprised some bishops haven't decided to use those things to attract more vocations.... perhaps it's better then didn't. But what did they do? Well they decided to lumber up hills in shorts, paint, go for a jog and other hobbies, stick it on a poster and hope for the best. Fair enough, but seeing relatively dated men do these things, is not going to attract me to the priesthood.

To most high school students, a priest is merely cranky old men (probably because he hasn’t been laid, as they say), who comes into their school a few times a year, talks at them for 10minutes, wears a bathrobe and plays around with girls crockery, as well as giving them a snack and a bit of alcohol. Yep that gets the guys coming in by the truck load.

The youth are not attracted by wishy washy wanna , gonna bes. They want something radical, something out there, something different, something that’s going to rock their world. I know what that is, a matrix robe wearing young gun with a pair of black shades. A youthful priest, who is aware of the dignity of his priesthood, who’ll come on in an engage the youth are where they are at, not jamming a judgmental and sentimental watered down religion at them. A priest who will not give them a religious wanna be rock, rap or pop song, but who will give them a transcendent experience, something appealing to the soul (yes young people do have them) and not just merely to their animalistic urges.

If young men are informed about the faith, the real faith, supported by millennium of tradition and then given a different and dynamic priest, then you will have an inbox full of inquires, not only about the priesthood, but also about the faith.

A priest is supposed to be a person in the world, but not of it, a living icon of Christ. He needs to be counter cultural. He needs to be priestly, to administer the sacraments and to preach the Gospels (with out bits missing). If we present a spent pensioner who plays around with crockery in his bathrobe, then of coarse the youth will think that a priest is just a guy who couldn’t get a girlfriend in High school. Perhaps if we try a different approach, then we might be on to something…….

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Pagan Gods

In a recent remake of the Ten Commandments and Egyptian Priest tells Moses, better it is for there to be as many gods as there are men, rather then just one God. I find that statement to shed light and a profound insight into human thought and the Ego.

One God truly was a breakthrough in human development, One God, One who exists before and outside everything, a contrast to the chaotic Pantheon of Greek gods. For the pagans, different gods were different beings, embodying different concepts, elements and aspects, i.e. there was god of war, god of thunder etc. This allowed people to have a supermarket mentality with their religion and beliefs. Take for example a soldier; naturally he would worship the god of war and tend to neglect the other gods. The gods then were not the be all and end all, because there were always more of them. Being able to choose, or to have more then one way of belief is itself not a bad concept, perhaps this was a foreshadowing of the BVM or the saints. This would be a similar concept, but diverging on the point that our saints and the BVM are merely a means to an end, that is Worship of God

If one God wasn’t to your liking, you would simply pick another; similar to the way we change fashions or products today. The Pagan Pantheon then stopped being a separate and objective reality; it just degraded into an extension of the human ego. In such away the gods were made to service humanity. Today in some peoples we see a similar, but drastically eviler thought occurring, that God, is something personal, something that we can determine, change, define and ultimately lord over. The pagans were manufacturing idols, whilst today some peoples are attempting to turn God himself into an idol.

The profound insight into humanity is this; we want to be the top Dog. Everything revolves around us, as long as were happy, that’s the prime Goal. The Pagans developed gods that serviced them, Modern people are trying to either forget about God or turn him into their own happy toy. It’s interesting to see, what effect the existence of a God does on people, it makes them see, that they are not the be all and end all, rather it allows humanity to advance towards something, rather then enclose itself into a circle, ultimately consuming itself.

“I must decrease and he must increase” John 3:30

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