Archive for the ‘Build Your Faith’ Category

Sep 19 – Homily: At Your Service

Sep 19 – Homily: At Your Service

Jesus came to serve and set the example for the Apostles, bishops, priests, and for all. Our ambition should always be to serve. Ave Maria! Mass: St. Januarius – Opt Mem – Form: OF Readings:…

Sep 19 – Homily: Resurrection of the Body

Sep 19 – Homily: Resurrection of the Body

Fr. Louis Maximilian explains how the belief that our bodies will be resurrected is a great incentive to treat ourselves and each other with dignity. Ave Maria! Mass: St. Januarius – Opt Mem…

Sep 18 – Homily: Holy Flying Friars

Sep 18 – Homily: Holy Flying Friars

Fr. Joachim on one of the most interesting saints of the Church who became so enamored with God that he would often be lifted off the ground in bodily levitation. Father highlights his extraordinar…

Some comfort here, CMAA’s on it!

I posted a link in an article I’ve since deleted,”CMAA’s been right all along,” in which the html code didn’t actually provide a direct path to the article. I’m going to try again and add another link from “Religious News Service” that posits fairly ac…

Sep 18 – Homily: Simplicity and Humility

The Gospel for today’s Mass underscores simplicity and humility, the two outstanding virtues of St. Joseph of Cupertino. This holy 17th century friar showed an aptitude for neither his studies…
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Sep 18 – Homily: Simple, Humble, and Absorbed in God

Sep 18 – Homily: Simple, Humble, and Absorbed in God

St. Joseph of Cupertino was well known for often being lifted up in the air in ecstasy, but more importantly, his mind was detached from the things of the world and absorbed in God. Ave Maria!…

How to Design a Church for the Poor – Duncan Stroik

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe,
completed in 2008 and designed by Stroik

In a recent article, the renowned architect Duncan Stroik breaks down and analyzes what it means to build “a church for the poor.” He explains things beautifully, and it definitely deserves your read as well. He mentions sacred music in passing, and while most of what he says relates to the building and architecture, nearly all of it applies to our goal of sacred music as well. Some say we should have simpler music, in an effort to portray the image of the supposed poorer church. Instead, we encourage people to do the best music they are able, the closest in line with proper liturgical principles (pun intended), for both the glorification of God, and the edification of the faithful, both rich and poor alike.

St. Joseph Cathedral,
recently restored by Prof. Stroik

And just a note on the Stroik, looking through his website, he has done many fantastic renovations and builds in churches around the country, such as the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, WI, where I have been able to sing on many occasions, as well as St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls, SD where Bishop Paul Swain (my old pastor before being called to the Episcopacy) has beautifully undone the wreckovations heaped upon it by the false spirit of Vatican II. It’s an absolute joy to see people like this working hard to restore beauty to the church in America.

In any case, here is the article in full, I hope you enjoy.

Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor.
—Pope Francis to journalists, March 16, 2013

We all know that the poor need food and clothing, decent education and good jobs. But what about their spiritual and cultural needs? Can a church building serve the poor spiritually through the material? It is an expensive proposition but I would suggest yes. Which leads us to the question of how to design a church for the Poor.

First, let us consider what a church for the poor is not: it is not a church for ascetic monks, who take a vow of poverty, spend their days in prayer and prefer the simple beauty of the cloister to the richness and chaos of the world. On the contrary, a church for the poor should be seen as a place for full-blooded laypeople who need to be drawn into the building through material and tactile means. It is a respite from the world that offers a glimpse of the heavenly Jerusalem to those living in Nineveh.

A church for the poor does not have paintings of abstract or ugly figures but is full of beautiful images of holy men and women who overcame their sinfulness to draw close to God. Even more important, a church for the poor shows them their mother who comforts and their God who forgives. A church for the poor is full of signs, symbols and sacraments: outward signs of inward grace. It cannot be a place where the sacrament of salvation is hidden away, for it should be raised up like Christ on the cross offering his body’s death for our body’s healing.

A house for the poor should not be a modernist structure inspired by the machine, for the poor are surrounded and even enslaved by the machine and the technological. It is rather a building inspired by the human body, the new Adam, and the richness of His creation. For those whose lives may touch on angst and suffering they do not need a contorted building exhibiting disharmony and atonality. Instead they need an architecture of healing, which through proportions, materials and spiritual light bring joy to the heart. A church which is welcoming to those in the state of poverty should not be a theatre church where the visitor is forced to be on stage. Their dignity is respected by allowing them to sit where they want, even if that means in the back or hidden away in a side chapel. The lighting cannot be so bright that one’s deficiencies are revealed to others, but there is a place for prayerful shadow.

A church for the poor is not hidden away in the suburbs or on a highway where it may never be seen and is difficult to get to. It should be placed where the poor are – near the poor villages or the destitute city neighborhoods and in prominent places like downtowns or city parks where the poor sometimes travel. A church for the poor does not close its school just because it is under-enrolled or in financial difficulty. Caritas understands that service to those in need is not optional, nor is it meant to be cheap and easy. In the same way, dioceses should seek creative ways for inner city parishes to remain open even when finances would argue otherwise. One thinks of St. Mary of the Angels and its school located in a tough Chicago neighborhood reopened by Cardinal George and Franciscan friar Bob Lombardo after being closed for fifteen years.

A church for the poor should not look impoverished. It is one of the few public buildings that those without status or money should be welcome to enter. The poor may not often visit the art museum, the symphony hall, or the stately hotel. However, a worthy church can give the poor the same experience of art, fine music, and nobility that the rich and middle class are happy to pay for. And in this way the Church acknowledges that high culture should be even for the those who have nothing. Bishop Suger probably had it right when he rebuilt Saint Denis and invested in beautiful vessels, altars and statues to draw the gaze of the common folk towards the mysteries of the faith.

A church for the poor is not only for the poor, it is for all, both rich and poor, proud and humble. Are there iconographical elements which might draw the needy and inspire others to give? Perhaps images of poverty in the lives of holy saints such as Francis, Dominic, Mother Theresa and many others. Along with these, a church for the poor should have murals, stained glass and side altars portraying the centrality of poverty in the life of Christ. The king is born in a stable, and his family must emigrate to a foreign land to survive. His compassion for the poor, the mother, the widow, the leper and his raising of the dead. His life as a mendicant reliant on the generosity of others for food and lodging (from both priests and tax collectors), his many parables which, like the widow’s mite or the Prodigal Son, speak powerfully to all those in hunger and poverty. But can the poor or the uneducated understand these images or appreciate beauty? When the poor see beauty they see God. Why? Because “Beauty” is God’s middle name.

Why should we design a church for the poor? Because no other building can point the poor to Christ, in the way that a church which embraces them can.

Duncan G. Stroik is a practicing architect, author, and Professor of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame. His built work includes the Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel in Santa Paula, California and the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Prof. Stroik is also the author of The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence, and the Eternal, and edits the journal Sacred Architecture.

Reprinted from Aleteia.

Paul Jernberg’s "Mass of St. Philip Neri"

Toward the end of June this year, the Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle met with conductor J. Michael Thompson to record composer Paul Jernberg’s “Mass of St. Philip Neri”, together with Paul’s propers for Confirmation Masses.  Here are exc…

Two Very Different Futures

There seem to be two very different ideas in the air about the goals of parish ministry. One idea, which we might call the St. John Vianney school or the St. John Chrysostom school, or the Pope St. John Paul the Great school, is the conviction that God calls each person to be holy–to be a saint.

The other idea, and we should probably call it both the dominant and competing model, rests on an apparent conviction that God wants each person to have “just enough Catholicism” to not lose contact with the Church entirely.

This “just enough Catholicism” model is minimalist and inadequate for a number of reasons. And it is not the fault of the people. Almost everyone comes into the Church with a “just enough”attitude towards belonging in a parish. Frankly it is a lot to ask, in our culture, that a person crosses the threshold of a parish church on any given Sunday, much less wakes up an entire family, including children and fathers with many opportunities to be elsewhere, organizes dressing and grooming, packs everyone into the SUV, turns off all the cell phones, and gets to church on time. There is something heroic about a family’s presence in church on Sunday morning and we don’t say that enough.

The aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper. (Sacrosanctum Concilium 10)

But the Catholic life does not end there. Getting in the door is just the beginning. Getting everyone in the door is the beginning. And from that point, everything can soar–or not. And it truly must soar.

It is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history.

The classes and duties of life are many, but holiness is one—that sanctity which is cultivated by all who are moved by the Spirit of God, and who obey the voice of the Father and worship God the Father in spirit and in truth. These people follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross-bearing Christ in order to be worthy of being sharers in His glory. Every person must walk unhesitatingly according to his own personal gifts and duties in the path of living faith, which arouses hope and works through charity. (Lumen Gentium 40-41)

“Just enough” Catholicism has goals that stop at a certain fairly low level of the life of faith. In some cases, pastors do not even challenge the faithful regarding matters of serious sin. But what is particularly wonderful about Catholicism, as seen from the above quotation from the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, is that the level to which we are to aspire is not that set by the limits of our imaginations but by the model of Jesus Christ Himself. In other words, the sky is the limit. The Holy Spirit, active in the lives of the faithful, blows freely, and not by measure. Freedom from sin is only the beginning. Pastors who wish to cooperate with the Holy Spirit will foster an open-air, open-ceiling atmosphere in which ever-increasing prayer and charity can have room to grow.

“Just enough” Catholicism has a soundtrack. Somewhere between John Denver and Enya and the Kingston Trio, this music calms and soothes without fostering recollection. Its message can be summed up by the catchphrase, “I’m okay, you’re okay.” It is far too moderate for the Christian life, which ought to be a life for heroes. Young people in particular seek to live meaningful lives. Should our music then be meaningless?

 Rather our music ought to be inherently rational and breathtakingly beautiful, like the beauty of a soul that is even now beginning to participate in glory.

Sep 17 – Homily: Stigmata of St. Francis

Sep 17 – Homily: Stigmata of St. Francis

God gave St. Francis this visible miracle because of the example of his life which was so filled with the love of Christ and conformed to Jesus Crucified. Ave Maria! Mass: Stigmata of St. Francis…

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