October 13, 2016

Pilgrimage to the Canonization of Elisabeth of the Trinity - Mystic of Dijon

On Thursday October 13, after an interview with Father Mitch Pacwa on EWTN the day before, I began the long flight to Rome. (Click here to see the interview.) My trip is going to be a little bit of an adventure - but what is a pilgrimage if there is no adventure to it?

As a academic, my travels are often determined by the lowest cost fare that I can find. This time, it was Turkish Airline.  I have never flown this particular airline but I am convinced that this is unfolding in accord with Divine Providence.  So I am flying to Rome via Istanbul -- I cannot help but think of the deep wounds of our times, and that, perhaps, part of the reason the Lord has permitted this journey through Turkey is that I remember to pray for my persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the Middle East, and that I also pray for Muslims, during this difficult moment of history.

My fellow pilgrim was to be Richard Ziegman who works in a hospital down in Southern Colorado. Elisabeth of the Trinity has been a great consolation to him through the years and he told me that he had to make this pilgrimage no matter what.  But today, God revealed He had other plans. There were complications with his flight so that he never made it here to LAX.

There are other pilgrims who I will meet in Rome if it is God's will.  For example, EWTN will carry the canonization live.  I am hoping to connect with their team in Rome.  We will see happens.

Also, my good friend Kris McGregor with Discerning Hearts will be onsite. She was tremendously helpful in helping get out the message and mission of Elisabeth of the Trinity through a series of podcasts she and Mariam Guttierez (the voice of Elisabeth of the Trinity) conducted with me - first on Saint Elisabeth’s retreat she wrote for her sister, “Heaven in Faith” and second on her retreat for her Carmel “Last Retreat.”

There is also some of my former students, now priests, studying at the Pontifical Universities. We promised to meet for pranzo. I believe that I will meet many more friends in Rome — friends of Elisabeth of the Trinity who have been touched by the inheritance she left us: faith in the all loving God intimately present in the soul.

To find out more about Saint Elisabeth of the Trinity, I highly recommend a book by Sr. Giovanna della Croce translated by Julie Enzler A Life of Praise to God. Sr. Giovanna was a intellectual whose own conversion was influenced by Saint Teresa Benecticta of the Cross. After she entered Carmel, she began to write about this great martyr and also discovered the writing of Elisabeth of the Trinity.  Her book, translated by Julie Enzler, a wife, mother and instructor at the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, introduces the life and some of the most beautiful passages of the Mystic of Dijon.
The Carmelite Sisters of Alhambra will be offering a prayer service before the Mass of  Thanksgiving for the Canonization of Elisabeth of the Trinity at 3:30pm on November 6 at St. Teresa's Parish in Alhambra. Their music is really edifying, so I hope you can come. 

October 2, 2016

The Liturgy and the New Evangelization - Los Angeles, 2016

The beauty of Christ continues to draw men and women to the Church today just as much as it has at any other period in the history of the Church.  This dynamism of the Lord remains the most vital means to connect with people today and preach the Gospel anew -- not only to those who have not heard it, but also to those who have heard it, but not yet entered into a personal encounter with the Lord.  This beauty is most fully disclosed in the liturgy of the Church when the whole Body of Christ gathers for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.

Archbishop Jose Gomez, Bishop Elias Zaidan and other lecturers introduced and developed this idea in presentations that explored the Liturgy and the New Evangelization. The audience was a group of theologians, artists, liturgists, architects, musicians, students and seminarians from around the world and throughout the United States. The gathering at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on September 29, 30 and October 1 was for the 21st annual conference of the Society for Catholic Liturgy.   Yet, what happened went beyond simply the scholarly presentation of academic papers -- instead, in the liturgies and the fellowship, the personal encounters and the conversations, a renewed sense of mission and purpose was born.

The weekend started with Archbishop Gomez celebrating a pontifical mass for the feast of the archangels.  Surrounded by saints on tapestries, led by wonderful choir (thanks to Dr. Paul Ford) and served by seminarians from Saint John's Seminary, mass started with a wonderful procession of priest members of the society and other concelebrants from the Archdiocese.  His homily, about how we should be mindful of just how present the angels are to us, was complemented by the angel motif decorating the Cathedral. After mass, he provided the opening address of the conference in which he spoke of the pastoral importance of popular piety as a means of drawing individuals and families into the beauty of the liturgy.

In particular, the Archbishop presented his ideas within the context of creating a atmosphere of encounter and relationship through our awareness and appreciation of cultures.  He observed that a growing plurality of cultures is the actual pastoral situation of the Church in the United States.  Rather than ignoring cultural diversity, the Church has always treasured it and today, in the New Evangelization, this is now our effort too.  This means, in particular, a generous attentiveness to and respect for the various forms and expressions of devotion that live in the culture of the people we serve, especially as these are observed in families.  Living in each expression of genuine devotion is a grace that can create a relationship between those who do not otherwise practice their faith and  the life of the Church.  Holding up and joyfully celebrating the piety of the people can become a threshold for those looking for answers and hungry for the truth, a threshold to Christ in the Eucharist. 

Bishop Elias Zaidan also spoke of the need for a deeper connection in the Church, especially a connection with Christians who live where the Church is persecuted.  After celebrating the first Maronite Liturgy ever offered in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, he explored how we live in a time with religious rights are under attack around the world in every nation and society. He insisted however that as Christians we believe in something, in Someone, that no political or military power can ultimately overcome. In this context, he introduced the Maronite liturgy as a celebration of hope -- recounting that his Church has known religious persecution in a particular way even since the first days of its founding.  Yet the hope and joy of his people have not been diminished -- instead, through worship, they have found strength to be faithful witnesses to the Lord.  

Friday evening, participants were treated to the powerful documentary by Lannette Turicchi "John Paul II: Prophet for our Time."  With original footage and first person witness accounts, the witness of the saint who initiated the New Evangelization was brought to life for participants. Afterward, a powerful silence filled the room that helped us think about greatness of what God is calling us to do today. While it is easy to become discouraged with some of the cultural struggles we face today, the voice of John Paul II echoed, "Do not be afraid to open wide the doors of Christ."

The Society also helped host a solemn high mass in the extraordinary form at Our Savior Parish at the USC Caruso Catholic Center for students and others throughout the area.  When we arrived, a wonderful choir led by Jeff Ostrowski was practicing outside while priests from the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter were preparing to offer the mass.  The liturgy was truly beautiful in every way and a couple of USC students I spoke to afterwards were deeply touched -- amazed by the beauty that they had just experienced.  The homily itself offered a powerful catechesis on the Roman Canon as a fence around the truly holy, setting apart the sacred actions of the Mass for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.  

Several concurrent sessions explored many other powerful ideas.  These hopefully will be published by Antiphon, recently as a publication of CUA Press.  The texts for the presentations by Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Zaidan will also be available through the USCCB soon. 

September 19, 2016

Elisabeth of the Trinity - Mysterious Hymn of Praise

For Elisabeth of the Trinity, to surrender ourselves to God in love is to join the Great Canticle echoing from the foundation of the world and resounding in the heights of heaven: the very praise of the glory of God's merciful love. In her biblical vision of the cosmos, those who pass through the great tribulation of Christ's passion also raise victorious with Him.  They share in His glory and they make it known. And so can we, here and now, if we will choose to live by faith in the midst of the trial that God has permitted in our lives.

The music that Elizabeth of the Trinity proposes is richly relational and engenders a tender reciprocity between Heaven's glory and the trials of earthly life, time and eternity, the soul as Bride and Christ, the Divine Bridegroom, This chord of reciprocity also resonates out from the soul surrendered to God to all the souls entrusted to it -- so that they are all implicated in the eternal plan of the Father. The music of the heavens and the music of the soul can become the same because God dwells in both as in a temple.She describes a secret harmony exchanged not only in the life to come, but presently, right now, hidden in the silence of this humble moment, where eternity is already begun. What is realized perfectly by the souls in heaven is a hymn of praise anticipated now by those who live in the simplicity and humility of faith.

Resounding in a silent fullness of love and communion, this music moves in the soul the more the soul is drawn to Christ. The melody of this mysterious hymn is unfamiliar and strange, but she attempts to find words for it. She describes the Divine Presence as in-flowing, enveloping, establishing and transforming. God's roaring silence produces peace, self-possession and interior strength. She draws her descriptions from the Bible:

If speechlessness grips those who are pierced to the heart by the love of God, tradition calls this apophasis, she quotes the Bride of the Canticle of Canticles to bring out the relational and bridal dimensions of this failure of human speech: "I know longer know anything"  she sings "but Christ crucified." Not a mental state or a natural mode of consciousness, she describes for us a speechless prayer realized when the soul is overwhelmed by the immensity of God's love, an immensity that flows through the Cross of Christ and overwhelms the soul. This is a hymn whose secret is known by the soul and shared with heaven.

To help us glimpse the new self-possession it challenges us towards and produces in us, she intones songs that she attributes to Christ Himself: "My soul is always in my hands" and "I shall keep my strength for you." And for her, the strength that this hymn of praise unveils is found in observing silence. To be silent is to choose not to attempt to influence or control or manipulate.  It is to be surrendered to what God is doing in the moment.  This is how Christ lived -- obedient to the will of the Father.

To live like this, to choose to be humble and to accept the situation for what it is and then to order it to God, this requires dying to our own plans and dreams, to the tyranny of what we think ought to be, and to respond to the love of God being made known in the moment.  To live like this, this is to die to self. Elisabeth reveled in this death to self -- she not only accepted it, she sought it. As a result Christ's obedient, vulnerable, and vigilant heart came to reverberate in her own by faith.  This is the source of the spiritual music, the rhythm that carried her personal hymn of praise. Because she wants to share the joy that she discovered, she yearns that we might discover this divine heart beat for ourselves.

This vision sees the whole world animated by an eternal Sanctus. This Sanctus evokes surrender and lifts up by God, establishing total forgetfulness of self, total awareness of the Lord. Everything is in the shadow of Christ crucified by love, everything a response, a "thank you" for the immensity of love that He has revealed. Wholly attentive and adoring, a soul that is drawn out of itself by the love of the Lord is vulnerable and ready for a beautiful encounter, for the impact of Divinity into the frailty of humanity.

September 11, 2016

The Liturgy and the New Evangelization - Update

ISSUED BY: SCL (Society for Catholic Liturgy)

Society for Catholic Liturgy Conference 2016
“The Liturgy and the New Evangelization”
September 29 − October 1, 2016
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels − USC Caruso Catholic Center
Los Angeles, California

Hosted by the Society for Catholic Liturgy, this annual conference opens Thursday, September 29 and runs through Saturday October 1.   Speakers from the throughout the international community  offer their insights into the liturgy of the Church and the work of actively proclaiming  the Gospel of Christ today. Conference presentations in both English and Spanish  address the themes of beauty, liturgy and the New Evangelization in the Catholic Church.

On Thursday evening at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Archbishop Jose Gomez  welcomes conference  participants to the  celebration of the pontifical liturgy. His welcome continues during the  opening dinner banquet as he  offers  thoughts on how popular devotion can become an effective source of the New Evangelization when  properly ordered to the Eucharistic liturgy.

The Cathedral Friday morning hosts  Bishop Elias Zaidan  who will celebrate liturgy in the  Maronite rite.   He is also the day’s keynote speaker and will deliver “The Liturgy and the Church Persecuted.” His talk  explores how beauty in liturgical celebration of the Maronite tradition has supported Christians experiencing  ongoing persecution which  inhibits religious freedom.  Friday evening’s dinner  banquet presentation features the documentary, Pope John Paul II: Prophet for Our Time,  produced by Lannette Turicchi.

On Saturday morning, October 1, the conference venue shifts to  the USC Caruso Catholic Center. Father James Fryar, FSSP,  offers Mass in the extraordinary form. Liturgy is  followed by a plenary session with Fr. Andrew Menke of the USCCB giving the conference address. He  reviews the current status of various liturgical projects taken up by the US Bishops.

The conference features 12 academic papers and 6 pastoral presentations in English, and 3 pastoral presentations in Spanish which run concurrently. All sessions  serve to promote dialogue and direction for the Church in her celebration of liturgy,  Among the presentations in English, Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth presents The Rites of Christian Initiation and the Baptized but Un-catechized. Msgr. Wadsworth offers insight into the currently revised translations of the liturgical texts for these rites utilizing  the lens of “beauty of holiness.”  Other presentations will address topics as diverse as architecture, marriage, and the renewal of liturgical catechesis. The pastoral presentations in Spanish invites conference particpants to  a series of pastoral presentations in Spanish by Father Daniel Cardo. The first in the series entitled Fuente y Cima: La Liturgia y la Nueva Evangelización explores the liturgy as source and summit and the New Evangelization. Each of Fr. Cardo’s presentations  center on  the meaning of the Eucharist and the Eucharistic rites in the New Evangelization.

For more information, please go to http://liturgysociety.org

August 18, 2016

The Liturgy and the New Evangelization

Registration open and conference schedule posted: http://liturgysociety.org/conference/

The Society for Catholic Liturgy is pleased to announce its 2016 annual conference, to be held at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles.

September 29 – October 1, 2016

We are especially pleased to host keynote and plenary presentations by Archbishop José Gomez (Los Angeles), Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan (Maronite Bishop of Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles), and Sister Esther Mary Nickel, R.S.M. (St. John Vianney Seminary, Denver), as well as an update on the liturgical activities of the U.S.C.C.B. by their representative Fr. Andrew Menke.

The conference will include sung liturgies in both the ordinary (pontifical) and extraordinary forms of the Roman rite as well as the Maronite rite (pontifical), along with sung vespers.

Saturday features a Spanish-language track.

Registration, more information on the conference venue, and bios of our distinguished speakers are available at the SCL's website: www.liturgysociety.org.

Preliminary conference schedule:
Thursday, September 29
3:00pm Registration and Welcome Reception
5:00pm Sung Mass (Stational - Ordinary Form)
6:00pm Opening Banquet with address by Archbishop Gomez “Popular Piety, Liturgy, and the New Evangelization”

Friday, September 30
8:00am Divine Liturgy (Maronite)
9:00am Continental Breakfast
9:30am Keynote: Bishop Elias Zaidan, “The Liturgy and the Church Persecuted”
11:00am Concurrent Sessions
  • (1) Academic Track: James Pauley, Renewing Liturgical Catechesis: Towards the Cultivation of Desire for God
  • (2) Academic Track: Michon Matthiesen, “The Eighth Day”: the Evangelizing Potential of Liturgical Time
  • (3) Pastoral Track: Andrew Casad, Preparing the Uncatechized for Confirmation and Eucharist
12:00pm Lunch
1:00pm Concurrent Sessions
  • (4) Academic Track: Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, The Rites of Christian Initiation and the Baptized but Un-catechized
  • (5) Academic Track: Veronica Arntz, “This is a Great Mystery”: Sacramental Families Formed by Cosmic Liturgy
  • (6) Pastoral Track: Paolo Miguel Cobangbang T.O.Carm., the Canonical Coronation of Marian Images as a Liturgical Revival: a Philippine Perspective
2:30pm Concurrent Sessions
  • (7) Academic Track: Sr. Moira Debono, R.S.M. The Church Shares Your Joy: Amoris Laetitia and the Order for Celebrating Matrimony
  • (8) Academic Track: Mike Nolan, Re-interpreting the Poetry of Robert Southwell within the Context of New Evangelization
  • (9) Academic Track: Alphonso Lopez Pinto, Visions of Heaven on Earth: Mystagogy, the Santo, and Modernity
  • (10) Pastoral Track: Fr. Daniel Cardó, The Homily and the New Evangelization: Saint Augustine and Some Lessons for Today’s Preaching
3:30pm Business Meeting
5:00pm Vespers
6:00pm Reception and Banquet, after dinner talk by Sister Esther Mary Nickel, R.S.M. and the screening of Prophet for our Times.

Saturday, October 1
8:00am Mass (Extraordinary Form)
9:00am Breakfast with Registration for the Spanish Track
9:30am Fr. Andrew Menke – USCCB “Liturgical Projects Undertaken by the USCCB”
9:30am Spanish Session: Fr. Daniel Cardó : Fuente y cima: La Liturgia y la Nueva Evangelización
11:00am Concurrent Sessions and Spanish Session
  • (11) Spanish Track: Fr. Daniel Cardó: Explorando los Misterios de la Misa
  • (12) Academic Track: Dom Benedict Andersen O.S.B., The Role of Monasteries as Being (or Being Potentially) Centres of Liturgical Apostolate in the Life of the Local Diocesan Church
  • (13) Academic Track: Dino Marcantonio, Symbolic Architectural Form
  • (14) Pastoral Track: Michael Foley, Sanctifying the Bar: Liturgical Drinking and the New Evangelization
12:00pm Lunch
1:00pm Concurrent Sessions and Spanish Session
  • (15) Spanish Track: Fr. Daniel Cardó: La Homilía y la Nueva Evangelización
  • (16) Academic Track: Lisa Knutson, Principle and Foundation of Beauty in the Missionary Liturgy: The Jesuit Reductions as Model and Ignatian spirituality as Guide
  • (17) Academic Track: Steve Baker, Between Luminous and Numinous: the Coincidence of Opposites and Its Role in the Aesthetic Appreciation of Catholic Sacred Architecture
  • (18) Pastoral Track: Fr. Jamie Hottovy, Sacred Beauty: Evangelizing through the Images of Our Faith     
2:00pm Concurrent Sessions and Spanish Session
  • (19) Academic Track: Richard Nicholas, the Sacramental Ordo in Medieval Architecture as a Means for Evangelization in the Twenty-First Century
  • (20) Academic Track: Richard Bulzacchelli, There Are No Doors to Open if There Are No Walls: Maintaining Sacramental Discipline as a Prerequisite for Preaching the Gospel
  • (21) Pastoral Track: Fr. Nick Schneider, In My Heart and on My Lips: Proclamation in the Mass as a Model for Evangelization
3:00pm concluding Plenary Session (announcement of new officers)

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