Friday, September 27, 2013

The Papacy Is Not A Liturgical Commentary


Pope Benedict never celebrated the Extraordinary Form or Traditional Latin Mass as Pope.

Like most priests of his generation, he began to celebrate the Mass of Paul VI as soon as his diocese began to promulgate that liturgy and continued to do so throughout his papacy.

The fact that he never offered the Extraordinary Form is not a com­ment either upon his priesthood or on the ancient liturgy. Benedict, after all, will always be known as the Pope of
Summorum Pontificum, the groundbreaking document that restated the truth that both liturgies have equal standing in the Church, a commonsense statement that was a long time in coming and meant to better establish Christ’s peace in His Church over liturgical issues.

Benedict’s papacy was not a commentary on the liturgical life of the Church except in that he wished to freely offer full and free access to both liturgies for all of the faithful.

Pope Francis, we must assume, is a man of the Church, guided as he is by the Holy Spirit in his divinely appointed office of the papacy. As a man of the Church, he supports the spiritual well-being of all God’s faithful for the sake of their salvation. We must always support him and pray for him in love as we do for all of our Holy Fathers, for he is a gift to us from the Lord Himself.

Francis’ papacy is not a commentary on the liturgical life and patri­mony of the Church anymore than was the papacy of Benedict, who himself, we must remember, did not personally offer the ancient liturgy as we expect Pope Francis will also not do.

Summorum Pontificum
establishes liturgical freedom in the Church for the Vicars of Christ, as for all of us.

Many years from now, no doubt, we will have a Pope who gladly celebrates either liturgy according to the pastoral needs of the Church as he sees fit.

Some folks are getting fussy about Pope Francis’ style, comment about which is above my pay grade.

Some priests, however, do take a mistakenly casual approach to cel­ebrating Mass. There are those who, for example, omit items such as the amice, which is practical in nature, meant as it is to better enable the priest to cover his street clothes, a requirement in every liturgy. However, what is more significant for the liturgy than the instruction to cover his street clothes — as the priest is asked to do by the Church — is a worldly attitude to­ward the liturgy which frustrates God’s relationship with His people.

In marriage we gladly fight a contraceptive attitude which frustrates God’s plan for human life. So, also, in the liturgy should we fight any attitude on the part of the priest which frustrates God’s desire to fully and freely share eternal life with His people. A “ street clothes” attitude on the part of the priest in the celebration of Mass can do just this thing.

Vesture is part of the spiritual attitude and preparation of the priest who ascends the mountain of God, who approaches the tabernacle of the Most High, unworthy as he is to represent God’s people as they together face God through Jesus Christ who calls and ordains the priest to offer the Holy Sacrifice. All of the practices in the Church better en­able the priest to approach the Father
in persona Christi.
A cavalier attitude which dismisses these spiritual preparations does not bode well for the free and full access of the people at every Holy Mass as they approach Almighty God through the servanthood of the priest.

Let us pray for all of our priests, Pope Francis, and all of us who serve God’s people, that our reverent and loving service will include respect for all that the Holy Spirit hands down in the Church for the service of and salvation of the world.

Jesus Christ, suffering Servant, and High Priest of the New and Per­fect Covenant, have mercy on us. Amen. 

(This column appeared in a recent issued of The Wanderer Catholic Newspaper. Follow Father Cusick on Facebook at Reverendo Padre-Kevin Micha­el Cusick and on .)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Japanese Priest Retired from Diocesan Ministry to Celebrate Traditional Latin Mass

June 25, 2013
A Latin Mass in Japan

by Christopher Pitsch

 Less than 1% of the Japanese population are Catholic. Hence, it’s no surprise that a Latin Mass is a rare bird in Japan. Fr. Ueda, a priest from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, says a Latin Mass once a year. Fr. Onoda from the Philippines visits once a month.

There is, however, one priest in Japan who regularly celebrates Mass in the Extraordinary Form. In the midst of the impossibly overcrowded, hectic city life of Tokyo, Fr. John A. Nariai offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a small private chapel in his personal flat.

Fr. Nariai is a retired priest of the diocese of Kagoshima in southern Japan. He first came in contact with the Latin Mass in the year 2000, because he was an active member of the pro-life movement in the U.S. He often participated in the meetings and conferences of Human Life International “and out of the blue, a priest, a Father Richard sent me a 1962 missal. That was my first contact with the Latin Mass,” Father Nariai recalls.

 Father Narial fell in love with the old Rite. His Bishop refused to allow him to celebrate according to the old missal, but Fr. Nariai also refused to stop celebrating the Latin Mass. He had a long discussion with his bishop through his envoys and in the end he suggested: “What if I retire?”

The Bishop accepted and Fr. Nariai moved away to the huge metropolis of Tokyo, at the age of 67. “When in medieval Japan someone had to go into exile, it was called ‘miyako-ochi.’ I’ve done a miyako-nobori,” says Fr. Nariai proudly. “Miyako” is the Japanese word for “capital”, so, “miyako-ochi” means “kicked out of the capital,” while “miyako-nobori” means “ascending to the capital”, i.e. going to Tokyo.

Today, Father celebrates the Latin Mass every day, including Sundays, accompanied by his Japanese congregation singing Gregorian chant. Fr. Nariai’s lovely chapel is Japanese style, with shôji (japanese sliding doors) and tatami (mat made of rice straw). In a Japanese room shoes are prohibited, so the priest doesn’t wear shoes, even while celebrating Holy Mass.

(PERSONAL NOTE: For this reporter, this looked odd for a moment. But everything about the Mass was so dignified and beautiful, I began to see it as a rightly understood enculturation.)

About ten faithful regularly attend his Mass, mostly young people. It’s a small but lively and cheerful group, drinking green tea together after Mass, with inspiring conversation. When I joined with this community, I never had the feeling I was in Europe, though Catholicism in Japan is often seen as a European thing. The after-Mass socialization is not necessarily European or Japanese culture, its Catholic culture.

 “I have always wanted to be different from others; that was my motivation to enter the seminary. Now I’m again different from all the other priests in Japan,” Fr. Nariai explains. “But in fact, I don’t want to be different. I want every priest to discover the treasures of the Latin Mass.”

Despite his 78 years, he is very communicative and active and loves to come into contact with other priests and the faithful. He can be contacted on his web-site, too, at

For me, his Mass has been a great experience in Catholic culture. In Japan, I can actually feel that the Church is Catholic in the sense of “universal.”

Latin is the Church’s language; it connects people around the world. This Holy Rite of the Mass makes me feel at home, even in a very un-Christian culture like Japan.

Finally, the Mass provides a foretaste of the Glory yet to come.

Catholic Mass Reenactment at Site of Maryland War of 1812 Invasion

Visitors can participate in sacred worship celebrated in the same way that Colonial troops would have each Sunday at 11 am in Benedict, Maryland, where the British came ashore in 1814 to burn Washington.

Saint Francis de Sales Catholic Church is located at 7185 Benedict Avenue in Benedict, Maryland. The web site with more information about the parish is found at this link.

Friday, September 6, 2013

"Has Anyone Wept?": Pope Francis and the Cry for Peace

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Pope Francis has called on Catholics around the world and “other Christian brethren,” “brethren of other religions,” and “men and women of good will” to join him in fasting and prayer this weekend. As the United States debates military strikes against Syria, the Holy Father pleads for peace.

As he did when going to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa in July, where refugees from the “Arab Spring” have been pouring in as they flee the violence and turmoil of their native lands, Pope Francis is speaking from the depths of his heart, expressing the pain of the Divine Heart, at what we are doing here. Those horrific images of children, women, and men suffering and dying from the effects of chemical weapons used in Syria have provoked a lively debate about what we can do to stop the horror. We can’t look away. And yet, what is the justice served by a military strike against Syria? What are the lessons of that failed “Spring,” of interventions and non-interventions of the recent past? According to Church teaching on “just war,” military action must always be a last resort, not simply a “Hail Mary pass” hoping for a positive outcome.

In his appeal, Pope Francis said:
I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.
The pope’s own “Hail Mary pass,” of course, is so much more than that, and involves actual Hail Marys — pleading prayers to our Blessed Mother, the Mother of God, who lived a mother’s worst pain and who walks with us in prayer as our immaculate model of doing God’s will in the midst of the world. The pope turns the world to focus on she who leads us straight to her Son, whose life, death, and Resurrection offer us the promise of eternal peace with Him. And the pope calls us to pray together this weekend as we remember the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace.

This weekend, in particular, Pope Francis asks:
Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!
This is far from the first time Pope Francis — or any pontiff — has urged the world to meditate on, work for, and pray for peace. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the essential role of the family in creating a culture of peace. The Second Vatican Council described peace as “the fruit of that right ordering of things with which the divine founder has invested human society and which must be actualized by man thirsting for an ever more perfect reign of justice.” The word “peace,” as Pope Paul VI wrote, “oppresses us and exalts us. It is not ours; it comes down from the invisible kingdom, the kingdom of heaven.”

In the heat of this debate, the Pope Francis peace talk accomplishes much more than any news headlines are able to process. The peace of which Pope Francis speaks is nearly impossible to imagine, to comprehend, or even to entertain as a possibility as we view the photos of the more than 14,000 innocent civilians – including many children and entire families, who have been innocent casualties of chemical attacks – at a time when neither Syrian Christians nor Coptic Christians in Egypt have much of a reason to feel safe.

Because the wielding of worldly and military power is not well-known for encouraging habits of virtue, even the most adventuresome oddsmakers in Vegas would not bet on the prospect of peace reigning in the hearts of men and women who walk the halls of power. That is one of the many reasons why the pope’s appeal for peace offers so much more in the way of hope than all the saber-rattling in the world possibly could.
We pray for the eternal peace of those who have been brutally killed in Syria. We pray that men and women of good will may rise up as leaders and healers. We pray that there may be peace, both as a geopolitical matter and within the hearts of all who are immersed in this conflict.

The former doesn’t have a shot without the latter. That’s the leadership Christians are called to demonstrate in this life. And that’s one of the themes that have been overflowing during Pope Francis’s first six months in office.

One morning in April, Pope Francis preached about the peace of Christ. From the homily as printed in L'Osservatore Romano:
The Christian, even in the most painful trials, never loses “the peace and the presence of Jesus” and with “a little courage”, we are able to say to the Lord: “Lord, give me this grace that is the sign of our encounter with you: spiritual consolation”; and, above all, he emphasized, “never lose peace”. We look to the Lord, who “suffered so upon the Cross, but he never lost his peace. Peace, this peace, is not our own: it is not sold and we do not buy it”. It is a gift of God for which we must beg. Peace is like “the final step of this spiritual consolation, which begins with a joyful wonder”.
On our Labor Day here in the United States, he talked, not for the first time, about how words can kill. He pointed to the radical call of Christianity:
Jesus says that when “you begin to feel something negative in your heart” against one of your brethren and express it “with an insult, a curse or an outburst of anger, something is wrong. You must convert, you must change”.
His July homily in Lampedusa might wind up as one of his most important in awakening the world to what we are doing to ourselves and to one another whenever we perpetrate violence and are indifferent to the urgent needs of others who suffer.

Pope Francis reflected there: “How many of us, myself included, have lost our bearings; we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live; we don’t care; we don’t protect what God created for everyone, and we end up unable even to care for one another! And when humanity as a whole loses its bearings, it results in tragedies like the one we have witnessed.”

He continued:
Today no one in our world feels responsible; we have lost a sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters. We have fallen into the hypocrisy of the priest and the Levite whom Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan: we see our brother half dead on the side of the road, and perhaps we say to ourselves: “poor soul…!”, and then go on our way. It’s not our responsibility, and with that we feel reassured, assuaged. The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!
Specifically on the topic of Syria, writing to Russian president Vladimir Putin this week as the G20 summit was set to begin, Pope Francis echoed this same obligation for statesmen: “All governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders.”

I am consoled that there is largely a consensus of outrage about the killings in Syria here at home and among many throughout the world. But this, too, does prompt questions: Why is our present outrage focused only there? Why do we not feel and express pain whenever any innocent is killed, whenever any woman or man is suffering? Who do we walk by? And how much easier is it for us to act on our outrage when it involves an act of violence that promises to be a “quick in and out” without considering the foreseeable long-term effects and sacrifices we are bound to experience our lives here at home?

Last weekend, President Barack Obama argued for intervention in Syria pointing to the “assault on human dignity” perpetrated by the Assad regime. We have some of those close to home; 40 years of legal abortion have poisoned our natural soul and are indeed assaults on human dignity, violence of the most intimate sort.
On Lampedusa, Pope Francis asked:
“Adam, where are you?” “Where is your brother?” These are the two questions which God asks at the dawn of human history, and which he also asks each man and woman in our own day, which he also asks us. But I would like us to ask a third question: “Has any one of us wept because of this situation and others like it?” Has any one of us grieved for the death of these brothers and sisters? Has any one of us wept for these persons who were on the boat? For the young mothers carrying their babies? For these men who were looking for a means of supporting their families? We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion — “suffering with” others: the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep! In the Gospel we have heard the crying, the wailing, the great lamentation: “Rachel weeps for her children… because they are no more.” Herod sowed death to protect his own comfort, his own soap bubble. And so it continues… Let us ask the Lord to remove the part of Herod that lurks in our hearts; let us ask the Lord for the grace to weep over our indifference, to weep over the cruelty of our world, of our own hearts, and of all those who in anonymity make social and economic decisions which open the door to tragic situations like this. “Has any one wept?” Today has anyone wept in our world?
Pope Francis’s call to prayer this weekend is a call to weep for the blood that cries out in Syria, in Egypt, and here at home, as well. It is a day for trust in God, that in our faithfulness, he will provide the only certainty and true hope. As we weep, we meditate on what it is He calls us to in this world. We remember what this pope’s first encyclical says about how faith illuminates everything. Violence doesn’t provide coherence, faith does. And so we pray.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a nationally syndicated columnist. She is a director of Catholic Voices USA and blogs on Catholic things at K-Lo@Large.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Father Mike Dalton, World War II Chaplain Remembered

WWII Army Chaplain

From The Windsor Star

He was a soldier to the end. His threadbare army tunic hung on the wall, and his room was filled with religious icons, rosaries and holy pictures. And when you spoke to him, his words were about the men he knew on the battlefields of France when he rigged up a makeshift altar on the hood of his jeep and said mass for them.

The photos from the Second World War show these anxious men kneeling, their heads bowed, silent in the muddy fields just hours before they were sent into battle. And when age finally wore him down -- long after the war and years of serving parishes all over the London diocese including Windsor, Woodslee and Kingsville -- this old priest told me it wouldn't stop him from saying mass in his bed at the nursing home. It would never stop him from being a priest. And there was no way he would ever lose his faith in his religion or people. I'm speaking about an old friend, Rev. Mike Dalton, who passed away Monday afternoon at Sacred Heart Nursing Home in Courtland, Ont. He was 106, a month shy of his 107th birthday.

This son of a Goderich farmer is the most decorated padre who ever served in the Canadian Army. He marched at the front lines with his fellow soldiers, often carrying their weapons when they tired of battle. Besides the Military Cross for bravery, Father Dalton was the first Catholic priest to receive the Member of the British Empire. The day King George VI pinned the decoration on his tunic at Buckingham Palace, he dug deep into his pockets and handed the monarch a Catholic religious medal.

When I met Father Dalton in the mid-1990s, this legendary padre with the Essex Scottish, who landed at Normandy in 1944, complained of sitting in a wheelchair. His legs had given out on him. He prayed for God to give him back his strength, so he could stand up again and say mass. TWINKLE IN HIS EYES. Deep down, he knew better. He told me so.

The day I met him, Father Dalton wore the Roman collar, and had a twinkle in those slate-grey eyes and a wit and a humour that bubbled out in the stories he spun for me. He loved to talk. He loved people. He loved life. He loved God. He loved being a soldier. He loved being a priest. If there was anything he didn't like, it was losing those fathers and sons to war. He had sensed their inner fears. It didn't matter if the orders were to stay clear of the front lines -- he listened instead to his own heart, and drove his jeep to the brink of battle. And he would sit there in the open jeep -- its windshield festooned with flowers -- and hear the laboured, disturbed confessions of terrified soldiers. Or sometimes he would join a soldier on a road to a battle and try to ease their woes and lift their spirits.

Somehow Father Dalton believed he was invincible. He said he feared nothing. He figured he had a purpose, a reason to be. He felt lucky. He felt destined and blessed for some higher purpose. How else, he asked, do you explain how twice his truck was hit with shrapnel, and men died all around him? "I didn't have a scratch. I couldn't even get a cold," he said.

And sometimes he was so lost in the reverie of saying mass on the hood of his jeep that he would suddenly turn to give a blessing, "and there was no one there ... I was all alone. The soldiers had jumped for cover, and shrapnel was flying everywhere. I hadn't heard a thing."
Rev. Matthew George, a longtime friend of Father Dalton, in hearing of his death, said the biggest regret of this priest's life was discovering too late the botched Dieppe invasion. "He had been at a chaplain's meeting and when he found out, he wanted to be put ashore, but they wouldn't let him. "He cared about those men -- and never forgot them," said George.
It reminded me of what Dalton told me years ago when I asked why he joined the army. He said that when he served at St. Alphonsus in downtown Windsor, he realized those same kids who had made their First Communion in that church were now running off to war.
"I had to go with them," he said.

Now with his passing, I'm speculating the old padre is catching up to them, once again.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Prayer for Peace in Syria

God of Compassion,
Hear the cries of the people of Syria,
Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
Bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
Strengthen Syria’s neighbors in their care and welcome for refugees,
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
And protect those committed to peace.

God of Hope,
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies,
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
And give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Prince of Peace and Light of the World,

Petition: For the people of Syria, that God may strengthen the resolve of leaders to end the fighting and choose a future of peace.
We pray to the Lord…

Source: USCCB

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