Sunday, August 28, 2011

One Pastor – Multicultural Parishes, Part 3

Bishop Christopher Coyne (Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Indianapolis) concludes a three-part podcast with Father Robert Murray (Pastor, Saint James and Saint John the Baptist Parishes in Haverhill Massachusetts and a Boston diocesan priest for more than 23 years) discussing what it means to pastor multi-cultural parishes. In this third podcast, Father Murray recalls the ‘practicals’ of working towards unity in parish life. While ministry to the particular cultural populations in a parish is necessary and important, so too is the work of witnessing to the life and teaching of Jesus Christ as a singular, unified community of faith. The podcast concludes with Father Murray offering some advice to those ministering in multicultural apostolates. It is not primarily about the skills one possesses (Father Murray mentions that he knew not a word of Vietnamese prior to his present assignment) but the fact that one is sent to the People of God as pastor-servant. Treasuring parishioners as the People of God is the basis for any ministry, regardless of the number of cultures present in the parish.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Good advice to bloggers.

I got this off a "Comment Board" at Commonweal magazine r.e. an article entitled "

Why are Catholics so uncharitable online?"  It was posted by a Mr. Luke Hill.  I think he offers good advice to bloggers.  As for me, I moderate all comments to my blog.  It helps to keep things civil. 

From Mr. Hill:

Here are a couple of thoughts for bloggers [on controlling comments on your blog]:

1 – Have a clear and concise policy on comments. Revise as needed.
2 – Monitor comments vigorously. There are multiple tools you can use here:
*Send a private email to a commenter when you think the commenter is tiptoeing up to, or stepping over the line.
*Add your own comment in response to the offending commenter, making clear where the commenter went wrong.
*Monitor comments vigorously. Delete comments that violate your commenting policy.
*Shut down comments temporarily on an overheated thread. Let your readers/commenters know that you’ve shut down comments and why. When you reopen comments, ask your commenters to proceed carefully.
*Shut down comments permanently on an overheated thread—or turn off comments on a post you have good reason to think will lead to a flame war.
3 – Ban repeat offenders from commenting. Bans can be temporary or permanent at your discretion. After all, it’s your blog. (Just as a good bartender knows when to bounce someone who’s had one too many.)
And some thoughts for commenters:
1 – DFTT (Don’t Feed The Trolls). If you suspect another commenter’s primary purpose is to stir up trouble and cause ugly disagreements, ignore those comments. Let them be. Respond to someone else, or to something in the original post.
2 – Ask for evidence. Opponents who are seriously interested in the topic, and in engaging in public discourse, will generally provide it. Those who aren’t, won’t—and often will leave the discussion (the internet equivalent of walking out of the bar rather than admitting that one has lost the argument).
3 – Don’t assume. Online communication has almost all the immediacy of face-to-face or telephonic communication—but with none of the visual or aural cues that account for 80-90% of human communication. Humor, irony, and numerous rhetorical devices often aren’t as clear online as they are in person. If you’re writing, explain yourself more fully than you would in person. If you’re reading/responding, ask your interlocutor for clarification, or take the most charitable interpretation possible of his/her meanings.
4 – Make your response specific. The person you’re reacting to (whether liberal or conservative, ultramontanist or cafeteria Catholic) is not responsible for everyone in his/her ideological camp. (Neither are you.)
5 – Add context. Some of the best, most enlightening, most provocative and most heartening online discussions are those in which multiple commenters are adding context and detail to the conversation: a testimony of your own experience, a historical analogy, a theological interpretation, links to other perspectives on the topic. The effect becomes akin to seeing the light refracted through different facets of a particularly lovely jewel.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One Pastor – Multicultural Parishes, Part 2

Bishop Christopher Coyne (Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Indianapolis) continues a three-part podcast with Father Robert Murray (Pastor, Saint James and Saint John the Baptist Parishes in Haverhill Massachusetts and a Boston diocesan priest for more than 23 years) discussing what it means to pastor multi-cultural parishes. In this second podcast, Father Murray notes the groundbreaking work of Father Fred O’Brien who began the organized ministry with Hispanic Catholics in Boston. In response to Bishop Coyne’s questions, Father Murray recalls awkward language moments, the edifying patience of the people he served as well as the lessons they taught him, notably ‘Si Dios quiere (If God wills).’ Father Murray remembers discovering, early in his work at Boston’s Cathedral parish, just how important people’s culture is when it comes to the life of prayer and faith. This helps to understand better not only religious practices but to critique false assumptions people have concerning time, family life and other dimensions of culture different from their own.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Pastors - Multicultural Parishes, Part 1

Bishop Christopher Coyne (Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Indianapolis) begins a three-part podcast with Father Robert Murray (Pastor, Saint James and Saint John the Baptist Parishes in Haverhill Massachusetts) discussing what it means to pastor multi-cultural parishes. The conversation discusses not so much the challenge of pastoring multiple parishes (see previous podcasts), but specifically parishes with notable multicultural populations. In this podcast, Father Murray (a Boston diocesan priest for more than 23 years) briefly chronicles the history of his assignments noting how each played an important role in forming him as a pastor today, particularly his study in Guatemala and seminary work in Peru. Father Murray underscores the point that while knowledge of the language (and in his case, languages!) is important, one must also understand and live, as best as possible, the people’s culture in order to be an effective pastor in these types of parishes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Well my previous blog post ("Why I Didn't Go to Confession Today") certainly garnered a great deal of attention and responses from many people. This was not unexpected.  I knew that the post would be provocative.  The title was provocative and anytime one talks about "bad liturgical practices" or says anything at all about the "extraordinary form" [EF] of the Church's sacraments, the comments are going to come flying in. This is especially true given that I am a bishop.  Most of the comments were thoughtful, courteous, and moved the discussion along.  A few comments were down-right nasty and ad hominem in nature.  Those I chose not to post.  My blog is entitled "Let Us Walk Together."  Those kinds of comments are divisive.  Besides it's my blog and I can choose to post what I will.  Yet, there are a number of points that came up quite often so rather than continue to post "comments" to the previous blog, I thought I would respond in a follow-up "addenda."

[1] Some voiced concern that I attended Mass by sitting in the community and that I should have said a "private Mass" instead, especially as a bishop.  The theological starting point is that a cleric should celebrate in modus clerico and not in modus laico.  Agreed.  No argument here.  That is the way I normally do things, but I ask for a "pass" here.   I should have been a bit more self-disclosive in the post as I did have a scheduled Mass later in the day at which I was the principal celebrant.  When I decided to attend Mass, it was Saturday morning, I was up early, I wanted to go to Confession and I wanted to celebrate the Feast day.  The way some have attacked me for "attending," perhaps it may have been better if I just didn't go to Mass that morning if I wasn't going to concelebrate or celebrate the Mass (in hindsight it was).  I had Mass later in the day.  If I caused scandal, I apologize and it was unintended.

[2] For those who say I should say a "private Mass" in a case like this, I assume you are talking about the "Mass without a Congregation" with a server, found in the Novus Ordo.  I very rarely celebrate Mass in this manner.  I'm not quite sure what "private" means.  The celebration of the Mass is first and foremost a celebration of the public worship of the Church.  Whenever I celebrate Mass I make every effort to do so in a church or public oratory with a congregation.  That is what the Church intends.  It is by exception and not for the convenience of my schedule that I would celebrate a Mass with just a server.  But let me be clear here.  I am in no way saying that one form is more valid than the other or that the Mass celebrated without a congregation and just a server is somehow defective. This form of the Mass is as much a part of the public worship of the Church as Mass with a congregation.   I simply point out that Mass with a congregation in an oratory or church is a fuller sign of the public nature of the Church's worship because it expresses that public, not private, nature more clearly.  And I like to celebrate Mass with a congregation.  And I think it is good for a bishop to do so.  And it just "feels" right to me.  If while I'm on vacation I have to get in my car and drive to a church to celebrate Mass with a community rather than offer a Mass in my hotel room or the dining room of a rental cottage then that is what I will do first.  But if the only way I can celebrate Mass on a given day is to do so in my hotel room, I will do so.

[3] I did not at any point in my blog say that the only reason people are desiring the EF of the Church's liturgy is because they are being driven to it by "bad" celebration of the Novus Ordo.  I said it was "at least one good reason" and you will notice by the comments posted that this is in fact the case.  However, as someone who is supportive of the EF parishes in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and of those priests who desire to celebrate the sacraments of the Church according to the EF, I know that there are many fine spiritual, personal, theological, and liturgical reasons why some within the Latin Rite Church desire the celebration of the sacraments according to EF.  My disclosure in the previous post that I prefer the Novus Ordo is not a judgment on the EF.   It just simply is what it is, a very deep personal choice.  As a valid option within the Church's Rites, the EF is as much at the heart of the Church's public worship as the Novus Ordo.  Furthermore, I am not at all hesitant to celebrate the sacraments using the EF as need be, as evidenced by the fact that I will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation for our EF churches in the Fall.  As a bishop, I am at the service of the church of the entire Archdiocese of Indianapolis and not just whom I pick and choose to be so.

[4] For those who have opined that my preference for the Novus Ordo and not the EF is because I am uneducated in the EF rites (even to opine that it is "scary" that someone who has a pontifical doctorate in liturgy is so deficient in his knowledge of the EF), I would simply ask that you offer the same gracious willingness to accept my preference for the Norvus Ordo as I do your preference for the EF and avoid the ad hominem.  As to my education in the history, development, and usage of the Tridentine Rite, I suggest that you peruse the academic catalogue of the P.I.L. at  St. Anselmo, Rome (beginning at p. 174) from which I received my SLD, so that you may know that I am, in fact, educated and knowledgeable about the EF.  Believe it or not, I have even attended an EF Mass a number of times (since concelebration is not allowed). 

[5] I am also very concerned about some of the "unnecessary roughness" being heaped on the clergy collectively.  There are many priests and bishops out there who make every effort to celebrate the Church's liturgy as the Church desires it to be celebrated.  They preside with reverence and dignity, they preach well, and they strive to make the liturgy not about them but about Christ.  We must encourage them in their work and their willingness to be humble enough to be a servant of the liturgy.  We should also thank them as often as we can.   In addition, I know of no bishop who is unwilling to address the need for better celebration of the Church's liturgy within their diocese.  It is just very complicated.  A bishop can encourage his priests to "say the black and do the red," to celebrate according to the Church's rites, and to develop better preaching skills, he can hold all kinds of liturgical conferences and workshops for his priests, but the minute guys get back to their parishes, they can do what they want.  In truly egregious situations of liturgical malpractice, the bishop will have to step in and do something, but the question is "what?" And that's where it gets difficult especially in this time of fewer clergy to cover many parishes.  Some would say it is better to have a few truly good shepherds than to allow for the flock to be lead astray by the "hired hand."  That's all well and good until there is no one available to celebrate the sacraments in any form in the parish because a priest's faculties have been suspended because he plays with the rubrics.  As you can see, it is a difficult balancing act.

I think I've said enough for the present on these matters.  I plan on being a lot less "provocative" in the future (especially when on vacation).  God bless.

Prayer in Time of Economic Trouble

(Here's a prayer that I "mined" on the Internet and then tweaked to make a bit more Catholic.)

Father, times are hard.
They say many people will lose their jobs.
No one can tell how long this crisis shall last.
No assurance can be given
to all who grope in the dark.
But we believe, dear Father
that this too, shall pass,
and there is no trial we cannot be able to conquer
with faith in our spirits
and courage in our hearts.

Protect us dear God
first of all from despair.
Let not our minds be anxious
but let our spirits have peace
that surpasses all understanding.
May we never lose our hope.

May we never lose sight of our awaited morning
when milk and honey
shall flow into our land once again.
May we walk with steadfast feet.
May we work with steady hands.
And may we always believe
that miracles still happen,
for they do happen
even now as we pray.

Let your abounding Grace cloak us with blessings
and may your strength
keep us from every harm.
Vanquish the fear that wishes only
to cast doubt and hopelessness.
Replace it with the loving heart of Jesus Christ,
a love that never fails,
a love that heals and prevails,
a love to keep us warm
as we hold on to each other
in this time of economic worry and uncertainty.

Help those of us who have the means
to be generous to those in need,
especially those who have lost their jobs,
their homes, their peace of mind.

May your Holy Spirit guide and protect us from all evil.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why I Didn't Go to Confession Today.

This morning I attended Mass rather than concelebrated Mass.  Earlier in the week I was unable to find a Saturday morning Mass anywhere in the area so I was pretty much going to have to miss Mass today.  But late last night on the internet I found a church abut a half an hour away that had an 8:00 AM Mass.  This was doubly good for me because I wanted to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation if the priest had time after Mass since it and been a few weeks since my last confession.  But it was a little late to make any arrangement for concelebration.

I left around 7:15 AM and got there in plenty of time to spend some time preparing for Mass and, hopefully, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When Mass began, the priest, a guy about my age, came out and said, "Hello," and then proceeded with the Mass. The only problem was he had forgotten the Sign of the Cross. Well, maybe he was just a little distracted. I think we did the penetential rite but I'm not sure. There was no "Gloria" so I was beginning to think we weren't going to be celebrating the Feast of the Transfiguration since it hadn't been mentioned yet but eventually we got there when he "prayed" a spontaneous opening prayer that did mention the Transfiguration.

Things kind of went downhill from there.  I'll spare you the details. I will say I'm pretty sure it was still a valid Mass even though he changed the words of the Eucharistic institution - a lot, not just a few.  There is a theological practice of the Church called "Ecclesia supplet" ("the Church provides") where if a priest inadvertently forgets some of the words of the ritual form or changes them, the "Church" recognizes the good faith of those gathered and their right to valid celebration of the sacraments and provides sacramental validity in the case of a human error or priestly malpractice.  This is done for the sake of the people of God and not as an excuse for the sloppy or 'creative' celebration of the priest or bishop.  Even though the priest went way over the the line in terms of his 'creativity' this morning, I think the intention of those us who came to Mass was to celebrate the Eucharist as the Church intends and so it was.

As "Mass" progressed I was both disappointed and annoyed.  I wasn't angry.  I learned the trick long ago of moving into emotional "cruise control" when this stuff starts to happen.  I also began to wonder if I should say something to the priest afterwards.  I mean, I was just there as a visitor not as his bishop or vicar general.  I was also on vacation so ...  Nevertheless, I didn't let it go.  What I did or did not do, I will leave between me and the priest.  I hope it was helpful.

I do know one thing.  I certainly wasn't going to ask him to hear my Confession.  If he changed the words of the Institution Narrative, there's no telling what he might do with the words of Absolution. I suppose I  could have asked him before we began the sacrament if he would be so kind as to use the Church's rite and not his own but then that opens a whole can of worms. So I didn't go to Confession. I'll try and make an appointment with a priest and go Monday.  But isn't it a shame that I couldn't go to Confession?

Every time people ask my why some in the Church have a desire for the "extraordinary rite," the traditional Latin Mass, I guess I can give them at least one good reason.  Masses like this.  When one attends the Mass according to the Tridentine Rite, you know what you are going to get. There is no one being 'creative,' no one making up their own prayers or rite, and no question of validity.  I am a chid of Vatican II.  From the time I was old enough to understand what was happening at Mass, it has been the Mass of Pope Paul VI.  I have been formed in it.  I have studied it.  I love it.  Out of it, I have been ordained a deacon, a priest, and a bishop to celebrate it for the people of God.  I have no desire to celebrate the Tridentine Rite but any time I hear people criticize those who want the "traditional" Mass, I am more inclined to understand why they want this form of the Mass.  Perhaps if each priest were committed to the correct celebration of the present Mass of Paul VI - the Church's rites and not the rite of Fr. X - then maybe there would be less clamor for the "traditional" rite.  Just a thought.
Bishop Coyne on Facebook
Follow Bishop Coyne on Twitter
Follow Bishop Coyne on YouTube