October 21, 2018

October 16, 2018

From Father Jordan

 My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

If you were at Mass last weekend, you had a glimpse of what Music, and especially Music in the Liturgy, means to me. I loved playing the organ last weekend. There, at the organ, God always brings me back to the beginning of this walk He and I have had all these years. And, it was at the organ that I first sensed the desire to serve God as His Priest. Music is a great gateway to God and the beauty and majesty of His
Gospel. Music within the Liturgy is a very important part of our liturgical celebrations, and if we allow it, it can be a tremendous help in expressing and growing in our faith!

When we discuss Music within the Liturgy we often enter a difficult terrain of varying tastes, ideas, and beliefs of what is or is not acceptable. Throughout my life as both a professional Church Musician and as a priest and pastor many aspects of the Liturgy and Music within the Liturgy, have changed, but there has always been this constant: we do not sing AT Mass, rather, we SING the Mass. This little phrase teaches us that music is not some nicety we add to the Mass, but rather that Music is an essential part of the Mass. The third edition of the Roman Missal, the big book the priest prays from during Mass, instructs us about the importance of music within the liturgy: the Christian faithful who come together as one in expectation of the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together Psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles. Singing is the sign of the heart’s joy! (Roman Missal, #39)

I began playing the organ in Church at age 9. In the fifty-two years I have been “on the bench” the musical life of our Church has morphed many times. With the promulgation of the third edition of the Roman Missal, the Church’s desire has been restored: to sing the Mass means to sing the texts appointed by the Church for the Mass, i.e. The Introit or Entrance Antiphon; the Graduale or Responsorial Psalm; and the Communio or Communion Antiphon. The hymns chosen, especially to begin Mass and during the Communion Procession, should be taken from the prescribed texts in the Missal, or be as close to them as possible. At Saint Sebastian’s we have heard this happen when Andrew sings a quiet piece of chant while the priest incenses the altar at the beginning of Mass; or before or after we sing at Communion.

The singing of hymns is really a post Vatican II imposition upon the Roman Liturgy: our celebrations are not meant for hymns, but for the singing of Psalms – the poetry inspired by the Holy Spirit and contained within Sacred Scripture. Why the psalms? Because the psalms are the language of God and the Liturgy is a conversation with God, which God begins using the words of God, and in which God has the final word.

Our congregation sings so beautifully! I am often taken back by the quality of your participation – and I thank God for it – and for all of you. May our celebrations be a joyful song of praise to the One who made the stars!

Until we meet at the altar: O, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

 

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, O.P.

 

October 14, 2018

October 11, 2018

From Father Jordan

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

I hope you found our celebration of Rosary Sunday helpful and meaningful. I thought all went well. I especially enjoyed being with our younger parishioners at the 9am Mass – although my getting up from sitting on the altar step must have been something to behold!

After our obscuras last week about the Rosary, I want to return to our “discussion” about the Liturgy. The question I would like to pose to you this week is, “Are you coming to Mass on auto-pilot?” I know that on many occasions this can be the way in which I came to celebrate Mass; it’s called being human. But attending Mass is not simply human – it is the place where heaven and earth are joined as one, and therefore, this act is a mixture of humanity and divinity. We bring ourselves to Mass with all our human failure, successes, hopes, and dreams. By the power of Christ in and through the Holy Spirit all that we are is invited to and transformed by this glimpse of heaven that we are given in and through the celebration of the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI challenges us in this way, “In the Eucharist we are coming to the greatest Feast of Faith we will know until heaven, and we act as if we are being fast food from McDonald’s or some other such place.” Sometimes, going through the actions is all we can do, and the Lord understands that so mercifully: He delights in progress, not perfection.

Auto-pilot: we have all been there. But, if we give the slightest bit of effort, God will be found faithful! May we come to this “Feast of Faith” with alert minds, open hearts, and attentive ears to receive the untold gifts our Father in heaven longs to give us!

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, OP

 

October 7, 2018

October 2, 2018

From Father Jordan

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

Because today is Rosary Sunday, I want to write to you about the importance of the Rosary in our Catholic Life. We will return to our Liturgy study next week.

Why the Rosary? Why this recitation over and over of the same prayer, the Hail Mary, with the predictable interruption of the Glory Be, Our Father, and Fatima Prayer? The repetition of each of these prayers is to aid us into contemplation. Contemplation is that place of quiet, loving, union with the Trinity, Our Lady, and the Communion of Saints. Contemplation is simply being in the loving presence of Our Lord: no words need be uttered, I listen for Him, and He listens to me.

As we pray the Rosary our contemplation is fixed upon the life (the Joyful and Luminous Mysteries), death (the Sorrowful Mysteries) and resurrection of Christ (the Glorious Mysteries). In our silent meditation upon the life of our Blessed Savior, we learn again and are reminded that it is God alone who changes hearts. “Ask yourself whether this involved any merit, any motivation, any right on your part,” asks Saint Augustine, “and see if you find anything but grace?” Our lives are all grace! This is especially true today: we need a radical conversion of hearts! By constantly recalling the grace, power and importance of the Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, we place ourselves with Mary before the One who is pure and faithful love, mercy and Truth, who alone changes hearts and forms us in virtue.

I would think that it is such an awareness that has caused Pope Francis to ask for the daily recitation of the Rosary throughout this Marian Month of October, and also, the recitation of the Prayer of Saint Michael the Archangel at the end of every Mass.  By God’s Grace and Mercy the Rosary will help to change our hearts, and grant us a new Lepanto in which the victor is not military, but spiritual. May the Prayer to Saint Michael awaken within us an awareness of the reality of evil, protect us from all adversity, and free our world from all that would harm us, without and within.

Until we meet at the altar, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, who have recourse to Thee!

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, OP

 

September 30, 2018

October 2, 2018

From Father Jordan

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

As we continue to delve into the Liturgy, I’d like to share with you some of the highlights of the questions that I have posed to you.

Are we grasping the sacred by crossing ourselves, kneeling, bowing, genuflecting with purpose and love?

At first glance this may seem like an odd question, but it is one laden with meaning and the possibility of transformation. Considering the sign of the cross, no more solemn and meaningful beginning and gesture cannot be imagined. In this sign we mark ourselves with the names of the Trinity – the communion of love that gives us life. In the sign of the cross we trace upon ourselves the event that will make its power, force, and healing felt in our bodies and in our lives. This sign is simultaneously creedal and exorcistic: the power of Christ Crucified and Risen is the foundation of our faith, and protects us from the pursuit of the evil one. Every other gesture {kneeling, bowing, genuflecting, the Communion Procession} reflects our disposition that flows from calling upon the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in whom we live and move and have our being, the One who calls us by name and claims us as His own.

Do we receive Holy Communion with reverence and devotion?

The Eucharist is the central and defining principle of our Catholic Faith: the Bread of Angels is given to man to eat! What a wondrous gift is given to us! Do we realize that as we come forward to eat this bread and drink this cup that we are receiving the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Savior Jesus Christ? Do we clearly respond AMEN to the great question The Body/Blood of Christ? I am unsure if the changes made in the Reception of the Eucharist (standing, reception in the hand or on the tongue) have helped or hindered our devotion. May we truly reverence the great Gift we are given!

Until we meet at the altar, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, who have recourse to Thee!

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, OP

 

September 23, 2018

September 19, 2018

From Father Jordan

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

The biggest question I received last week was, “Are you instituting a dress code, Father?” Of course there isn’t a dress code, per se, just the encouragement to consider what one wears to Church. If it’s a choice between shorts and flip-flops and not going to Mass – choose the flip-flops. Let’s continue thinking about and the attitudes and dispositions we bring with us when we come to Mass:

  • Are we grasping the sacred by crossing ourselves, kneeling, bowing, genuflecting, standing and sitting not just because it is a ritual, but with purpose and love?
  • Do we smell the incense, candles, and flowers – the Church itself? Do we engage our entire bodies in worship – all 5 senses – or do we just sit there and wait it out?
  • When we come into Church, do we plunge our hands into the Holy water font and remind ourselves that we were signed, sealed and delivered by our baptism and confirmation as children of God and heirs to heaven?
  • Do we bow our heads upon hearing the name of Jesus? 
  • Do we genuflect by going all the way down on our right knee slowly as a sign of adoration to Christ as King who reigns from the throne of love in the tabernacle?
  • Do we put aside all earthly cares before Mass, get into a zone of prayer and enter a space of worship?
  • Do we carefully observe silence before and after Mass? Do we remember that this Church is the gate of Heaven and the only person to whom we should be speaking is to God?
  • Do we say the responses clearly and distinctly? Or, do we mumble?
  • Do we sing the ordinary of the Mass and the hymns with the beautiful, or not so beautiful, voice God gave us?
  • Parents: You are the priests of the domestic church. That means that your children and everyone else are looking for you to be a model or worship and prayer. Do your actions, responses, and attention tell your children and everyone around you that what we are doing is important?

Let me know your thoughts about these ideas. Our discussion will continue next week.

Until we meet at the altar, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, who have recourse to Thee!

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, OP

 

September 16, 2018

September 19, 2018

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

Today I would like to begin a “discussion” with you about the most important part of our Catholic lives: The Divine Liturgy: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There is a great deal to consider when we discuss and pray about the Liturgy. Let’s begin by posing this question: “What would a non-Catholic Christian see from our example if they watched us in the Church at Mass?” 

 Do we see Sunday as a joyful occasion that we have the privilege to participate in as sons and daughters of Christ?

  1. Is Sunday special – different from all other days?
  2. Do we dress for Mass not by putting on whatever clothes happen to be available, but by dressing outwardly and inwardly for the wedding feast of the Lamb?
  3. Do we realize each one of us was created by God to worship Him and that all time belongs to Him? Or, do we begrudge Him one hour of our week for Mass?
  4. Do we arrive early for Mass to pray, focus and prepare for the most important thing we do each week? Or, are we running around like a chicken with its head cut off sailing into Mass distracted and not ready to pray? [Parents, I totally get it that with 2, 3, 4, or 5 children running around is a way of life! Thank God for baby sitting at the 9 am Mass!]
  5. Mass is not a spectator sport. The fruitfulness of the Mass within us depends on the disposition of our heart that we bring to it. We have to choose to engage it by disciplining our wandering minds by focusing on every word, gesture and ceremony of the Mass.
  6. Are we watching the Mass with eyes of faith?
  7. Are we listening to Mass with ears and hearts open to the truth proclaimed in the readings and prayers?
  8. Do we receive Holy Communion with reverence and devotion?

Let me know your thoughts about these ideas. Our discussion will continue next week.

Until we meet at the altar, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, who have recourse to Thee!

 

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, OP

 

September 9, 2018

September 6, 2018

From Father Jordan

 My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

I am always amazed at the goodness, honesty, and concern that I find when I am with you! I am very lucky to be in your midst!!

This past weekend I experienced all of these gifts as many of you spoke to me about many different topics that are burdening your spirit. Not surprisingly, the main topic of conversation is the sexual abuse crisis that is plaguing our Church, and the way the hierarchy of the Church have, or have not, responded to this crisis.

Your pain, frustration, anger, and profound sense of devastation and dismay are palpable. Just as a parent would rather suffer themselves than see their child in pain or unhappy, as your Pastor I wish I could lift all of this from you; I wish you didn’t have to learn or know about the this tortuous topic, or the fallow condition of the hierarchy. However, because you are the Church, you need to know all that has taken place. My desire to remove this pain would do you a grave disservice. Every heartbreak offers the possibility of new life, greater conviction, and more prudent judgment. May God give us such healing in abundance!

As we go through this horrific chapter in our lives, I offer you these points for consideration and prayer:

  • The greatest temptation will be to walk away: don’t. We need the Eucharist, God’s Word, and one another more than ever! Come to Mass angry or in a fog, but come to Mass.
  • The next temptation will be to cast this as a battle between liberals and conservatives: I believe this to be false. It is a battle between good and evil, and the crumbling structure of broken ecclesiastical systems.
  • The next temptation will be to draw broad-stroke conclusions, or to make similar comments – do all you can to avoid this. Paint with fine lines and choose your words wisely: say and do what people need to witness and need to hear. Let our actions and our words lift up one another and not crush the other.
  • Plant seeds of compassion; not seeds of violence.
  • Remember: the Church is all about Jesus! Cling to Him, and turn off the news before it takes your spirit, and disturbs your sleep.

I am only a phone call away. And, I am here if you need me.

Until we meet at the altar, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, who have recourse to Thee!

 

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, OP

 

September 2, 2018

August 28, 2018

From Father Jordan

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

As I announced to you last week at the two Sunday Masses, the former Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, has brought allegations against Pope Francis and the highest-ranking cardinals of our Church forth to the United States. The charges are disturbing, frightening, heartbreaking, and can shake us to the very foundation of our faith. As I also mentioned to you last week, now more than ever we need one another! We need to support one another by our common prayer and penance; our willingness to dialogue with one another in an irenic manner; and our common mission to not become discouraged or lose hope. As my Spiritual Director always tells me, “discouragement is an engraved invitation to the evil one to come and get you.” The devil has been busy enough! With God’s Grace, we can stop the devil in his tracks!

On Tuesday of this past week I met with Bill Cooper, our Director of Music and Organist. During that meeting Bill told me that he would be retiring from Saint Sebastian’s as of Sunday, October 29. We discussed a possible later date, but after talking we agreed upon October 29. I know I speak for every member of Saint Sebastian’s when I offer Bill our profound gratitude, thanks, admiration, and best wishes. Bill joined Saint Sebastian’s at Thanksgiving of 2010; his ministry to the Parish has been marked by artistry, kindness, and dedication. God Bless you, Bill; we will miss you!

Bill’s decision to retire causes other changes. In order to continue our tradition of liturgical music, Andrew Garrepy will join Saint Sebastian’s on the weekend of September 15 & 16. Andrew will be the Cantor and Choir Coordinator until we are able to find a new Director of Music and Organist. Andrew is a talented, liturgically minded, and gracious individual: we are fortunate to have him in our midst.

Because of Andrew’s particular skill set, our cantors Marie Brito and Lori Maciel will conclude their ministry on the weekend of September 8 and 9. Like Bill, I offer Marie and Lori the thanks and appreciation of the entire Parish Community for their years of dedicated, caring, and beautiful service. We wish Marie and Lori every blessing and assure them they always have a home at Saint Sebastian. Ms. Marie will, of course, continue as the Coordinator of Religious Education for the Parish.

Lots going on and lots to pray for!

Until we meet at the altar, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, who have recourse to Thee!

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, OP

 

August 26, 2018

August 21, 2018

From Father Jordan

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

It seems like I just arrived yesterday, but today I am here at Saint Sebastian’s two months. I know that isn’t a terribly long time, but I feel very at home and I am grateful for your kind welcome, and the deep sense of support I find among you.

At 60 days what do I see? First and foremost, I see a wonderful community who wants to grow in our Catholic Faith; a community that wants to praise God more and more; a community that has a heart for service; and a community who likes one another! These are immeasurable gifts that cannot be taken for granted and deserve our constant and ongoing attention.

After 60 days I am aware of other items that need our ongoing attention. Some items that are on my heart:

  • How do we expand our Faith Formation for all members of our community: children, teens, young adults, men, women, and seniors?
  • Our physical plant is in need of deferred attention: the Tower and tuck-pointing of the Church, front stairs, and handicapped ramp; the outside window sashes of the Church need sanding and repainting.
  • Once everyone is “back” in September, we need to do something social!

Mark your calendars for some up coming events:

  • Saturday Morning Mass at 9:00 am began last Saturday and continues from now on. This Mass is part of the penance for the crisis in our Church that I mentioned in my homily last week.
  • Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) for 3 – 6 year old students will begin on Monday, October 15. More details to follow shortly.
  • Religious Ed will begin on Sunday, September 9 and Monday, September 10. All catechists will be commissioned on Catechetical Sunday, September 16 at the 9:00 am Mass.
  • Watch for news about extended Eucharistic Adoration, a new website (!), and our Christmas Bazaar Saturday, December 1.

Until we meet at the altar, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, who have recourse to Thee!

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, OP

 

August 19, 2018

August 14, 2018

From Father Jordan

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

Today, I offer you the following as a continuation of last week’s column about the dignity of human life, and Pope Francis’ teaching about Capital Punishment.

Because the Word of God “always alive,” a rigid reading of doctrine would “undervalue the action of the Holy Spirit.” Thus, he says, in the light of the awareness of the people of God today, capital punishment can be seen as “intrinsically contrary to the Gospel.”

The Catechism currently states (2267): the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. The Holy Father spoke against the death penalty in the strongest terms: “an inhumane measure that humiliates … human dignity”; “an extreme and inhumane solution”; “intrinsically contrary to the Gospel”; “inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability of the human person…”

 The Bishop of Rome said the death penalty must be rejected because it suppresses “a human life, which is still sacred in the eyes of the Creator.” In addition, it prevents the possibility of “moral and existential redemption,” he noted. In this way, capital punishment “forgets the primacy of mercy over justice.”

Demanding that it be prohibited is not a contradiction with the past teaching of the Church, the pope emphasized, because the dignity of the human person from conception until natural death has always been taught by the Magisterium. On December 12, 1999, John Paul II made an appeal to all those in authority, “that they reach a consensus on the abolition of capital punishment.” It is a “cruel and unnecessary” punishment, he had explained earlier, on January 27, 1999. In 2011, Benedict XVI also called for consultation among all authorities to “arrive at the elimination of the death penalty.”

 Before today’s speech, Francis had already taken a firm position against the death penalty on several occasions. For example, in a video message on June 21, 2016, he stated that capital punishment is “unacceptable,” adding that it “doesn’t provide justice for the victims, but rather encourages revenge.” “The commandment ‘You shall not kill’ has absolute value, and includes both the innocent and the guilty,” he explained. May our hearts be opened to the protection of life from conception until natural death!

Until we meet at the altar, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, who have recourse to Thee!

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, OP

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1Today, “From Father Jordan” is taken from a number of different sources I have been reading.

 

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