Friday, December 17, 2010

Great Quote from the movie "Going my Way"

Bing Crosby "Bishops are like umpires. You have to have them to call the close decisions."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Last Bulletin's Article

Because of all the bad weather we had last weekend, most of my parishioners didn't get to have a bulletin. Here it is with a few amendments...

You might remember a few weeks ago, I asked you to submit questions you’d like addressed in bulletin columns. These are the first two:
Are we having mass on Christmas evening to fulfill your Sunday Obligation?
            Since Christmas is the second-most important holiday in the Catholic Calendar, we are unable to celebrate a Sunday vigil mass on Christmas Day. So, both Duncan and Buffalo Center masses will be cancelled that weekend and I ask those people to go to a neighboring parish on Sunday for Mass. I apologize for the inconvenience.
Does SCAP fulfill your Sunday Obligation?
            For those of you who do not know what the acronym SCAP means; Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest. This celebration takes place on a Sunday when a priest cannot get to a given church to celebrate mass. It’s among a list of liturgical celebrations that are what I call “oops!” celebrations (ex. general absolution, confirmation by the parish priest, and lay baptism in an emergency situation). In these situations, the church provides for times in which the norm is impossible.
            To fulfill your Sunday Obligation, a catholic is obliged to participate in mass on either Saturday evening or Sunday. Mass is the only liturgy that can fulfill your Sunday Obligation. It says in paragraph 12 of the Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest

The following are the principal requisites for the Sunday assembly of the faithful.
1. the gathering of the faithful to manifest the Church, not simply on their own initiative but as called together by God, that is, as the people of God in their organic structure, presided over by a priest, who acts in the person of Christ;
2. their instruction in the paschal mystery through the Scriptures that are proclaimed and that are explained by a priest or deacon;
3. the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice, by which the paschal mystery is expressed, and which is carried out by the priest in the person of Christ and offered in the name of the entire Christian people.

We have the very interesting situation here in this pastorate of a scheduled SCAP on the first Saturday Night of each month in Buffalo Center. This is done with the permission of Archbishop Hanus because it is impossible to have mass there that weekend. Some of the people, having read this question, may well wonder if they should attend SCAP or drive to another parish. I want to emphasize that you should all continue attending SCAP when it is offered. If the Archbishop or I expected you to drive elsewhere that weekend, we would simply ask Deacon Popowski or Jody Smith not to offer SCAP. The fact that it is offered indicates that we expect you will it.
One way to look at is is that, by attending SCAP, you have done all you can do to fulfill your Sunday Obligation. The fault does not lie with you. You have done two of the three components listed above. You have gathered as a community in Christ and have heard the Word of God. The parts that are missing are that the priest can't preside over the assembly or offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice. But you cannot control that. 
One of the things that has impressed several of the priests in the past few years as well as our Episcopal Vicar, Msgr. Wilgenbusch, is that the SCAP is as well attended  as the Sunday Mass in Bufffalo Center. This speaks to the need for it as well as the vibrant sustainability of your parish. As we go foarward, it is possible that we will need to offer SCAP in more parishes on a more consistent basis. I will look toward you, the people of St. Patrick's, to assuage any fears associated with SCAP and to speak to the positive effect is has had in your life and the life of your parish.
            On a related note, in the 80’s and 90’s, there arose a practice on weekdays when a priest could not celebrate a daily mass for a lay person or a sister to celebrate a Word and Communion service. Both the Vatican and Archbishop Hanus have recently asked that we discontinue these. There is no obligation to attend mass on weekdays and, quite often, these services promoted scandal within the church as the preacher may be untrained in theology or may have a theological “axe” to grind. The one possible exception to this rule is distributing communion to the sick in a nursing home or hospital, if the pastor gives his approval.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Blizzard Warning

At the beginning of this week, I took a great deal of solace knowing that I would reach 6:00 on Sunday night, although I had no idea what was going to happen between Monday and Sunday.

On Monday, I concluded the Priest's Council meeting that began a week ago. We talked about the issues that are affecting the diocese and tried to offer some solutions. I came home that evening to a meeting with a couple, something that I never do on my day off if I can avoid it. I woke early on Tuesday for a meeting in Britt with the ministerial association. We talk about a book one of the minister's has recommended. I went back and worked in my office for most of the day on Tuesday but then had the first of my Immaculate Conception masses. On Wednesday, I drove to Garner for some business but I had a meeting with a couple of people regarding rental assistance so I had to hurry back. And then ended the day with two masses for the Immaculate Conception, one in Forest City and one in Lake Mills. On Thursday, I went to a funeral for a long-time church worker in Buffalo Center. It took a long time to actually get to the cemetery for the burial so I headed straight to Garner for a meeting with my Associate and supper. I finished off that day with Pastoral Council in Forest City. The next day, I had to be in Cedar Falls by 9:00 for a leadership training class I've been taking for the last year and a half. We finished at 3:00 and then I headed back to Forest City. I posted a comment in Facebook that I was relieved to finally have a significant amount of time to sit and relax. The only thing that concerned me was that the priests were at my leadership training camp were saying that this weekend's snow was going to be bad.

Now, before I get into the heart of the weekend, let me preface things a little. This weekend, we were supposed to have a talk by a religious sister about the Retirement Fund for Religious. This happens once a year in all the parishes in the diocese. However, when I got home on Friday, I called her and told her not to come. I was afraid she'd get here and we'd have to cancel masses on Saturday night. Also, Deacon Dennis Popowski was supposed to preach in the masses I celebrated. Notice the word supposed in the last sentence....

I awoke on Saturday morning, ready to face the day. It had rained since about midnight the night before, which caused some concern for me. As I walked toward the church, I started noticing the first hints of snow amidst the rain. After morning confessions were over in Forest City, I called my Associate and we both agreed that we need to cancel the masses for Saturday night. The rain had frozen and was being covered by snow, making for hazardous conditions. I figured that conditions would improve by morning so I did nothing with regard to Sunday. However, at 9:00 that night, I heard that the Iowa State Patrol was requesting no unnecessary travel through mid morning on Sunday. I called my Associate Pastor and he agreed that we should cancel. So I called the media, who must have been overwhelmed at that point as none of my calls and emails were ever published, and called some of the parishioners. It really was a blessing as both my Associate Pastor and I were still trapped in our houses as of 8:30 the next morning. The plows would clear our parking lots and then the wind would blow it back in. We each got to celebrate one mass, he in Garner and I, without a deacon preaching, in Forest City. We even had to cancel the communal reconciliations we had scheduled for this afternoon because the wind continues pushing the cleared snow back out on the roads. And I've spent more time in the rectory in the Forest City Rectory than I have since I was assigned here. It's now 6:00 on Sunday and I've cancelled all but four of the original fourteen liturgies I was supposed to do this weekend.

In the future, I hope I can make my decision by noon on Saturday and it's better to be safe than stuck in a ditch somewhere between here and Lake Mills. Although, hopefully this will be the last time we'll get a snow storm on Saturday and Sunday. Wouldn't that be great?