Let the Mass be the Mass

(Holy Family Bulletin, July 15, 2007)

Earlier this month Nell Wheeler died. As many of you know, Nell was a long time parishioner, deeply dedicated to Holy Family. Until her illness about eight months ago, she regularly attended daily Mass. Together with her husband, Al, she was a mainstay of our St. Vincent de Paul society, offering effective assistance to the needy of our parish neighborhoods. She supported Holy Family School in many ways, for example, donating her fine paintings to the School Auction. Nell served on our most recent parish council (she is the one to the right of me) and generously supported the Capital Campaign. Earlier this year we dedicated the Pre-K classroom in memory of Al and Nell Wheeler. Nell donated her body to the University of Washington, so there will not be a Mass of Christian Burial, but on July 31, at 10 a.m., we will have a Memorial Mass in her honor. You are all invited to attend. Nell is survived by her son, Doug Wheeler.

One of the finest ways of honoring parishioners like Nell is by supporting the Capital Campaign. As you can see in the Stewardship Summary, over 650 have supported this Campaign by a pledge or one time donation. I am deeply grateful to each one. As we enter the final months of the Campaign, I want to reach out to those who have not yet made a donation or pledge. We have around 1100 registered parishioners, most of whom are “identified donors,” that is, during the past two years, they have made a contribution to our regular First Collection using a check, envelope or some other identifiable means.

At the beginning of July, I had the opportunity to attend the Shakespeare Festival in Oregon. Overall, it was a wonderful experience to see live performances of Shakespeare plays. There were, however, some negative aspects. They have something called “Shakespeare for a New Generation” which on the surface seems good, but it involves a forced effort to make the dramas “relevant” to young people. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, they had the older characters in Renaissance costumes and the younger ones in modern school uniforms, to try to make them look like high school students. It sounds OK, but the play involves a 14-year-old girl (Juliet) who falls in love with and marries a boy (Romeo). It just doesn’t work in modern dress. To make matters worse, they had a scene which unnecessarily showed the two children in bed together. This misguided production, fortunately, did not sum up the entire Festival. The performance of The Tempest allowed the original power of Shakespeare to come through. As my priest friend said, they “let Shakespeare be Shakespeare.” And the young people present seemed as engrossed as the adults.

“Shakespeare for a New Generation” reminded me of some attempts to make the Mass “relevant” to young people. Back in the 70’s, we tied balloons to the altar and wore crazy vestments to make the Mass more accessible to youth. It did not work. Like Shakespeare, the Mass requires a certain effort and it has its own inner power. Last week Pope Benedict issued a document which in effect says, “let the Mass be the Mass.” It allows for a wider celebration of the 1962 Mass of Pope John XXIII, along with the current 1970 Mass of Pope Paul VI. Both forms of the Mass are valid, both can be said in Latin, and both can be celebrated with the priest and people facing the same direction. While the Mass of Pope John XXIII will probably only be celebrated in limited circumstances, it reminds all priests of the importance of a reverent and humble celebration of the saving mysteries. More about this later, especially as we approach the September 14 date for the implementation of this important document.

Last week the Vatican issued a document which complements the pope’s liberal permission to use the Mass of John XXIII. It restated the teaching of the Second Vatican Council that the “Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church.” As the document states, “Christ established here on earth only one Church and instituted it as the visible and spiritual community that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed.” The document reminds us of the distinction between the Catholic Church and “ecclesial communities” which possess important elements of truth and sanctification, but are not yet fully in communion with Catholic Church. Most important, the Catholic Church, among Orthodox Churches, offers a valid Eucharist. Valid celebration of the Eucharist depends on apostolic succession and the ordained priesthood. This document titled “Responses to some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church” comes from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Levada. I encourage you to read the document. It is only three pages long, and by reading it, you will be able to correct some distortions which appeared in the media.

A final note: While we are experiencing unusually hot weather, people in parts of South America are enduring a terrible cold spell. You may have read that, for the first time in living memory, it snowed in Buenos Aires. In the highlands of Peru, the cold has caused the deaths of children and elderly. The Mary Bloom Center has been providing blankets for needy families. A sturdy wool blanket costs about fifteen dollars. If you would like to help with this effort to provide blankets for Peru, you can make a check to Holy Family with “Mary Bloom Center” or “Peru blankets” in the memo.

Muchos de ustedes han conocido a Nell Wheeler, una señora muy dedicada a la parroquia, que se nos falleció, el 3 de julio. He escrito en la parte en inglés algo sobre esta persona muy admirable. Su dedicación es un ejemplo para todos nostros y un desafío de dedicarnos más a Dios y a la comunidad cristiana. Algo muy importante es la Campaña Capital. En las próximas semanas queremos dar una nueva oportunidad a los que todavía no han participado.

Tambien hay información sobre el documento del Santo Padre sobre la posibilidad de usar más ampliamente la Misa del Papa Juan XXIII y el documento que reaffirma la distincion entre la Iglesia Catolica y comunidades eclesiales. Vale la pena leer estos documentos importantes.

Mientras nosotros experimentamos un calor fuerte, nuestros hermanos en Sudamerica están sufriendo una ola de frio.

La ola de frío intenso que afecta a América del Sur desde abril ha provocado la muerte de casi cincuenta niños en Perú y cuatro indigentes en Chile, además de afectar los cultivos andinos y causar serias dificultades de aprovisionamiento energético en Argentina.

El último balance del gobierno peruano da cuenta de 48 niños fallecidos por neumonía desde abril en el país andino, donde la temperatura descendió hasta menos de 17 grados centígrados. Además se han registrado 17.000 casos de enfermedades respiratorias y se perdieron cientos de hectáreas de cultivos en zonas altas de los Andes.

El Centro Mary Bloom está tratando de proveer frazadas (cobijas) para familias indigentes. Una cobija de lana cuesta unos quince dolares. Si usted quiere ayudar, se puede hacer un cheque a “Holy Family,” con “Centro Mary Bloom” o “Cobijas para Peru” en el memo.



Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C