iPadre #320 – Interview with John Robinson

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In this episode, I interview John Robinson, Choir Master and Music Director for the Boys of St. Paul’s Choir School in Cambridge, MA. We talk about their awesome new album, I share some news and we have some feedback.

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My faith in the Church

demolition_churchIn the last few months, we have all read about many of the disasters leading up to and flowing out of the synod on the family. During my lifetime, there are volumes of events and situations in the Church that have been disastrous. As a young boy, my family attended St. Anthony’s Church in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Every Sunday, the church was filled to overflowing. People lined the aisles along both side aisles all the way to the front of the church. The narthex was also filled and people were on the steps right down to the sidewalk.

Today, it is just the opposite. Most parishes have fewer people than they had for daily Mass back then. Children are often dropped off for Religious Education and picked up right after, never entering the church for Mass. Churches with the best attendance have a school, and it is expected that they attend Mass regularly. Many of the children that come on Sunday disappear after received 1st Holy Communion and Confirmation. Some parishes have full pews, because they have cut back on their Mass schedules and with few Masses it gives an appearance that Mass attendance hasn’t decreased. But in most New England parishes, all you have to do is compare the hair color and you get the right picture of the situation.

Along with the drop in Mass attendance is the drop in baptisms and weddings. The Rhode Island Catholic reported: “In 2012, of the 11,655 live births recorded, only 3,228, or 28.14 percent were baptized Catholic. For the same period, of the 6,695 couples who sought marriage licenses in Rhode Island in 1975, 3,458, or 51.65 percent were united in Catholic ceremonies. In 2012, only 16.26 percent, or 1,043 of the 6,412 couples tying the knot were wed in the Catholic Faith.”

Funerals Masses are also on decreasing greatly. A few years ago, I anointed a gentleman who attended daily Mass. I was shocked to learn a few weeks later, that he was buried without a Mass of Christian burial. Just scan the local obits, and the picture becomes clear. Many of the “Catholic” names no longer list a Mass of Christian Burial. The non-practicing family have no place for the Church in their lives, so they have a service in the funeral home and don’t even think of the Mass. The poor deceased is deprived of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for their soul.

Why has all this happened? There is not just one reason, and I will only list a few. 50 years of nonsense from the pulpit didn’t help. Priests who didn’t want to offend anyone talked about how much God loves us and how much we must love one another in every homily. The 70’s idea of the “newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other.” Nothing about becoming holy. Not a word about personal responsibility. And, God forbid they talk about the horrors of abortion and artificial birth control. The message was love, love, love to the point of being nauseated. And quite often, it wasn’t real love at all, because because it left out commitment, long suffering, and sacrificing for the other.

The priest scandal of our times has helped destroy peoples faith and empty our churches. Bishops and priests who knew about the depraved behavior of the few has soiled reputations of every good priest for at least the next 100 years. There were personnel who shielded bishops from people who had real needs and grave problems. Some bishops isolated themselves and refused to listen to the cries of wounded people. Priests who tried to help were sent off to the Siberia of their diocese.

Liturgical abuse caused (and in some places still causes) many wounds. A blind eye was turned as priests acted like clowns, tinkering with the sacred, turning the Mass into a show of self adulation, and sacrilege. Fabricated prayers, cheap & secular music, and every one can imagine was not beyond reality. The whole “celebration” into a theater. And element of surpass gave something new each week to keep the attention of the people. Many got bored and left. There are better entertainers, with more talent, far and wide.

And now, before our eyes, we see the fulfillment of the messages of our Lady at Akita( 1973): “Cardinals opposing Cardinals, Bishops against other Bishops.” There is so much confusion coming from some places in the Church, that the laity no longer know what to believe about marriage, the family, homosexuality or anything else.

But, despite it all. Despite some bad bishops & cardinals, pedofile priests, poor catechesis, crazy Liturgies, and a world-wide apostasy of the Catholic faith,  my faith in the Church is strong and will grow stronger because of it all. Jesus warned us of trials and tribulations. He left us one, very important promise that can reassure us in these difficult time. “Thou art Peter, and it is upon this rock that I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18)

So if your disillusioned, don’t worry about men who waver. They will come and go, but the Church is here to stay. If we haven’t destroyed the Church by now, nobody can! This is the Church founded by Jesus Christ. Persevere, He’s cleaning His house. And in the end, She will shine brightly!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

That statement is a bunch of nonsense when it comes to art and especially when it comes to sacred art. below the video are two pictures that demonstrate the imbalance caused by modern art in a church built in the late 16th century.

Here is a great video by Robert Florczak from Prager University that gets to the heart of the matter.

The Gesu in Rome was opened in 1580. It has a beautiful altar built in the mid 19th century. The first picture demonstrates this beautiful altar and sanctuary marked off with the green marble altar rail. Outside of the altar rail and in complete contrast to the church’s architecture is a tasteless free standing altar that looks as if it were some space junk that fell through the ceiling.

High Altar - Church of the Gesu

High Altar – Church of the Gesu

 

Modern altar in the church of the Gesu

Modern altar in the church of the Gesu

Privileged Altar

As you enter Ss. Stomata di San Francesco (Church of the Holy Stigmata of St. Francis) in Rome, there is a plaque on the left of the door as you enter.

IMG_0154“Every Mass celebrated at the altar dedicated to the Sacred Stigmata of our Seraphic Father St. Francis, frees a soul from purgatory. Pope Leo XIII, 21 September 1894″

 

 

This is a very beautiful privilege granted to the high altar of this simple but beautiful Baroque/ Rococo style church. It is located on Largo delle Stimmate on the right as you head towards the Pantheon.  Quite often, the church is locked, but I just happened to enter as a very nice young woman was cleaning the church.

Every time I think of this church, I recall that the High Altar dedicated to the Stigmata of St. Francis is privileged, and not the free standing altar that sits in the front of it. How sad that this beautiful, altar is not used, and one that looks like a picnic table, cluttering the sanctuary is used on a daily basis or more. The poor souls that could be assisted with the Holy Mass celebrated at that altar once again.

Don’t forget to pray for the Poor Souls!

IMG_0152

What the Church should do Immediately regarding annulments!

Synod on the FamilyAll of us have friends and family members who have been married, divorced and married again outside the Church. Some are in these painful situations due to no fault of their own and others may be guilty of causing the destruction of their first marriage. Many of them want to find a way to a full, active participation in the life of the Church. That is what is what they all want, and what we all desire for them. However, both parties in the former marriage must be considered and protected from a faulty annulment process, lest the Church Herself through false compassion blesses marriages that can’t take place due to a previous valid marriage.

Some years ago, a good friend of mine who is not Catholic started talking about his own situation. He went on to explain how although he grew up in the Salvation Army and is a practicing Mason, he wanted his wife to have the ability to be married in the Catholic Church. I will call him John to protect his identity. John went to the local Catholic parish and met with the priest. He told the priest that his was was Catholic and he was not. John had been married previously and was willing to go through what is necessary to give his wife a Catholic marriage. Father went on to tell John that he needed to go through an annulment process, and that it would cost him $500.00. John thanked the priest, stood up and walked out. John and his non-practicing Catholic wife were married outside the Church.

There is no guarantee that if John went through the annulment process that he would have received the outcome that he desired, but he was willing to do it anyway. Due to the Church’s fees for an annulment, John and Mary (not here real name) were married outside the Church and the hope that John might have even considered becoming a Catholic was lost forever. To John, we became the Church that is only worried about money. And at time, I can’t blame him for his thinking.

I suggest that the Holy Father ban charging for annulments immediately. And, if bishops refuse, place an immediate canonical punishment on them. Most dioceses in the United States charge their parishes an annual assessment (a church tax), and in some nations like Germany, there is a national tax support the Church. We have become a Church obsessed by money. There are so many second collections in the US that you could choke an elephant with the envelopes.

If we were to offer an annulment process with no cost everybody wins. Right off, you put an end to the attitude that you have to “buy” an annulment. Of course this does not guarantee people will get their desired outcome, but they will see a Church of mercy that desires to help Her children without a cost. In the end, those people who have gone through the annulment process could be invited to give a donation and they will become better Catholics because our Church has sought to aid the sinner and not attack their pocketbook.