Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Called to Serve

St. Joan of Arc Knights Newsletter - December, 2011

Fellow Knights and your Ladies,

This Advent and Christmas will be different from the previous forty-one years since Mass in English began. We have a new Missal, which, by the time you read this, will have already been inaugurated at the First Sunday of Advent Mass. If you were asked why this change is happening, how would you respond? (And, you might be asked.)

The answer, is two-fold. There have been some changes to the Latin original (Mass of Paul VI) which came out of post-Vatican Council II in 1969: several Saints have been added and their are a few changes to the Ordinary part of the Mass, especially to the dismissal; you can read about these changes (it's now called the Third Roman Missal of the Mass of Paul VI) on the St. Joan of Arc website (

There is a more important reason, however. The initial translation of the Mass of Paul VI is not as close to the Latin as the new translation. In some cases, several words would be collapsed into fewer. Conversely, some words were added which change the meaning. For example, "Let us proclaim the mystery of Faith" is now, simply, "The mystery of Faith." The "mystery" is Christ present in all of His fullness, in all He is and has done, in the Eucharist. We then respond with one of three affirmations of faith; the old translation makes it sound as though the response is the mystery. Subtle difference, isn't it? Similar differences can be found all through the revised translation. By embracing the new translation, and allowing the words to deepen our experience of the liturgy, we can come closer to Christ and His Church, and, especially, to the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

There are two primary meanings to the season of Advent: preparing to celebrate the first coming of Christ Jesus and preparing to greet Him when He comes again, at the end of time. Our preparation is particularly successful as we seek to encounter Christ Jesus everyday, hidden in the Eucharist, in our service to the poor, the sick, and the dying, and in one another. When we greet each other with Merry Christmas, let it be the culmination of a fruitful Advent. Find time to seek out the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), pray much, and rejoice in the gift of the new Mass translation.

Have a holy season of Advent and a very Merry Christmas,

Deacon Rex Pilger

Monday, October 3, 2011

Called to Serve

For St. Joan of Arc Knights of Columbus October Newsletter:
October is full of days that mean a lot to Catholics: Feasts of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1st) and St. Francis of Assisi (4th), Columbus Day (12th), and All Hallows Eve (Halloween, of course, the 31st). It's also the month dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary (the Feast day is the 7th) and has become especially dear to the pro-life movement. In Columbus we see the intrepid explorer and example to all Knights. In Francis we see what complete dedication to the Gospel can accomplish (basically he saved the Church from corruption and neglect). In Thérèse we find the epitome of simple devotion to Christ in all things.
Let us pray the Rosary this month for the protection of innocent life and strength to follow the commited example  of the two Saints with the courage of Columbus. Then let us conclude October in preparation for honoring All Saints.
Deacon Rex

Thursday, September 1, 2011


"The term hermeneutics covers both the first order art and the second order theory of understanding and interpretation of linguistic and non-linguistic expressions." link In religious terms, hermenetics refers to the study of Sacred Scripture.

The term hermanuetics refers to the study of a beloved, composite character in a popular television series.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Growing Tyranny...

An email sent to my Congressman:

The Administration's new claim that pregnancy is a disease is appalling. And, imposing this view on health professionals and insurance providers (as well as on us who pay the premiums) in violation of their (and our) consciences is abhorrent. We know your stand on life issues, but even you have to agree that imposition of such values on others is a gross violation of freedom. It's time for you to draw the line and speak up against this tyrannical exercise of power.
Further information:

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hanging in there

August 2011 St. Joan of Arc Knights of Columbus Newsletter

The Sunday readings for August begin with the episode of the storm on the lake. As Jesus approaches the disciples, seemingly walking on the water, Peter seeks to join the Lord. Everything is fine until Peter is distracted by the wind and takes his eyes off Jesus. As the Lord saves Peter, he asks, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

With this Gospel, a homily could almost write itself... In the storms of life, why do we doubt? And, the answer is simple: because of the storm! Think of all of the challenges life brings: loss of job, poor health, marital discord, a daughter's unexpected pregnancy, fallen-away family members, death of a family member... These challenges happen; life happens. And, in the end, we all face death. The rebuke that Jesus offered Peter is also an invitation. When the storms hit, and doubt rises, we can call on the gift of faith that overcomes doubt. 

Hang in there!

Deacon Rex Pilger

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Freedom and Life

July letter to Praise Ministers [home-bound members of St. Joan of Arc Parish]:

I have always found it interesting that our country's founding fathers had to endure the humid heat of a Philadelphia summer while hammering out the Declaration of Independence. One of the consequences of their courage in approving Thomas Jefferson's work and putting their signatures to it (including Catholic Charles Carroll) was providing for religious freedom in the subsequent Bill of Rights. Even we Catholics found a place within this new nation to freely worship the Triune God by celebrating the Eucharist and attempt to follow in the footsteps of the Son. We can be grateful for this freedom and for a country in which we can raise children and grandchildren. By the same token, however, the freedom we possess must be maintained and nurtured. 

We all know, do we not, that over the past 38 years millions of unborn children have been denied the most basic freedom of all - life? I suspect that our country's founders would have been appalled by this incredible evil. Further, the evil that attacks unborn innocent life is threatening the elderly, the disabled, and the psychologically disturbed with euthanasia and assisted suicide. The dimensions of the threats to life are so pervasive that we can become numb to them or deny their reality. In parallel with anti-life movements, marriage, the best place for children to be born and thrive, is also under attack.
But, if we do acknowledge the bloody reality of unnatural death and the undermining of marriage, what can we do? Are we helpless? 

Prayer is, first and foremost, the foundational response. Let us offer our prayers, daily, to God the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit: (1) for mercy on our country for continuing to tolerate and even encourage this evil, (2) for bestowal of grace on political candidates to firmly commit to doing everything in their power to defend life and the family, (3) for inspiration for voters to select pro-life candidates, (4) for elected leaders to implement pro-life and pro-marriage constitutional amendmentsand laws, (5) for grace for pregnant women to deliver their children and either care for them or offer them for adoption, (6) for inspiration for young people to embrace chastity, (7) for the strengthening of marriages in the midst of cultural turmoil, and, (8) for the coming of the Kingdom, the heavenly Jerusalem, where there will be no more tears, no more death or mourning, wailing or pain.

We also need to actively reach out to our political leaders -- admonish those who support the evils and encourage those who seek to nurture life. We need to affirm our religious leaders when they speak the truth. We should support pro-life movements with our prayers and financial resources to the extent we are able. 

Freedom is not free. It requires sacrifice and vigilance. The freedom of the sons and daughters of God needs to be sustained and regained with every generation. We are grateful to our veterans who fought for this freedom and for our young men and women who are presently fighting for us overseas. Yet, there is also a battle here at home, for the unborn, married people, the elderly, and the disabled. We need to redouble our efforts to restore respect for life and family.

Happy Independence Day!

Deacon Rex Pilger

Friday, April 29, 2011

DOMA in the Code - Section 3

1 USC Sec. 7 01/07/2011
Sec. 7. Definition of "marriage" and "spouse"
In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word "marriage" means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word "spouse" refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
(Added Pub. L. 104-199, Sec. 3(a), Sept. 21, 1996, 110 Stat. 2419.)


DOMA in the Code - Section 2

28 USC Sec. 1738C 02/01/2010
Sec. 1738C. Certain acts, records, and proceedings and the effect thereof
No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such
other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
(Added Pub. L. 104-199, Sec. 2(a), Sept. 21, 1996, 110 Stat. 2419.)



One Hundred Fourth Congress
of the
United States of America
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Wednesday,
the third day of January, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-six
An Act
To define and protect the institution of marriage.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Defense of Marriage Act’’.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Chapter 115 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding after section 1738B the following:
‘‘§ 1738C. Certain acts, records, and proceedings and the effect thereof
‘‘No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.’’.
(b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 115 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 1738B the following new item: ‘‘1738C. Certain acts, records, and proceedings and the effect thereof.’’.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
‘‘§ 7. Definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’
‘‘In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.’’.
(b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 6 the following new item:
‘‘7. Definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’.’’.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is Risen! Alleluia

For the second successive year health issues have prevented me from serving the Triduum. The peak celebrations of the year, and I've been unable to participate.

I'm reminded of St. Paul:
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Cor 12:8-10)
At the least I plan on serving the last Mass of the day in my home parish, St. Joan of Arc, later this morning.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sioux City Sooth

The blogger at Sioux City Deacon Formation suggests that the clerical obligations of perpetual continence and celibacy stated in Canon 277 are equivalent and unified: one single obligation. Whether he would agree or not, I see this inference as equivalent to the logical argument advanced in a letter to Homiletic and Pastoral Review (last letter in thread). See also here. That is, if perpetual continence implies celibacy, celibacy requires perpetual continence. And non-celibacy therefore implies the possibility of non-continence, with moral law additionally requiring continence outside of marriage.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

April 2011

For St. Joan of Arc Praise Ministry and Knights of Columbus Newsletters, April 2011

With April comes the end of Lent and Holy Week, culminating in the greatest celebration of the Church year, Easter. One of the principal focuses of Lent this year in the Archdiocese of Denver is extra prayer in support of the gift of life. The evil of abortion has become big business in our country, with abortion providers profiting from the deaths of the unborn and the scarring of mothers who yield to the horrible temptation of killing the child within. As our culture has become accustomed to this evil, other attacks on the sanctity of life grow stronger: assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell “research” (experimenting on embryos to create clones, thereby killing the unborn, and use the products for “healing” of other people), and euthanasia (the intentional murder of the elderly and the disabled).

The primary weapon against evil in the world is prayer: pray for the defenseless who are endangered by these threats. Pray for the conversion of those who advocate these evils. And, especially, pray for the pregnant woman tempted by abortion and for depressed and suffering people tempted to suicide. Offer everyday pains and suffering along with prayers for life. Additional weapons include writing and calling key political leaders to oppose further anti-life legislation voting for pro-life leaders.

It makes sense to have Lent provide the opportunity to focus on the gift of human life as a prelude to celebration of the gift of eternal life at Easter. The Lord Jesus, the son of God, freely emptied himself of his divine prerogatives so as to be born of a Virgin, and to live a human life like ours in all things but sin. He walked among us, teaching, healing the sick, and casting out evil He drew a small group of disciples around him, taught them, and showed them what they, too would be called to do. He then suffered from their lack of understanding and their abandonment of him (the beginning of his Passion), and he gave himself over to be scourged, taunted, crowned with thorns, and, finally, the culmination of the Passion, crucified. By his death, our sins (when we confess them) are forgiven. By his wounds, we were healed! But the gift of Christ Jesus is greater than that, because, by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was raised from the dead. And, His resurrection opens the gates to Heaven. For those who say “yes!” to the gift of faith in Christ Jesus, are baptized, and seek to follow him in the paths he lays out, eternal life is a reality even in this life. By our seeking to do the will of the Father and follow his Son, the Father comes to us to make a dwelling place of both of them with us. We Catholics believe the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which allows the Holy Trinity to live within us, comes with Baptism, and is strengthened by Confirmation and nourished by Eucharist.

The Catholic Church is pro-life, in the everyday, and pro-eternal life, for that which is to come.

Pray in all ways, always.

May you have a fruitful Lent and a happy and holy Easter.

Deacon Rex Pilger     

A special day...

Today our third oldest grandchild, Abigail, celebrates her third birthday. She will now get to share her day with the memory of her Great-Grandmother Louise, my mother, who passed away this morning.

We were blessed to have Grandma Louise here in Colorado since July of last year. And, I hope that she was blessed with the presence of so many family -- not only four of her seven grandchildren and two of seven great-grandchildren, but also cousins of my father, both of their generation, but also mine and younger. Rest in peace, Mother.

Four generations: Louise with (front-to-back): Abigail on Mary's lap, Mackayla with Andrew, and Rex (August, 2010).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Too far?

First posted in April, 2005: link.
Taken from If God Exists Why is He Hiding? (Crossing the Threshold of Faith):
Journalist:"Why doesn’t [God] reveal Himself more clearly?"
Pope John Paul II: "It is precisely in this birth, and then through the Passion, the Cross, and the Resurrection that the self-revelation of God in the history of man reached its zenith — the revelation of the invisible God in the visible humanity of Christ."
"Could God go further in His stooping down, in His drawing near to man…? In truth, it seems that He has gone as far as possible. He could not go further. In a certain sense God has gone too far! Didn’t Christ perhaps become ‘a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles’ (1Cor 1:23)? Precisely because He called God His Father, because He revealed Him so openly in Himself, He could not but elicit the impression it was too much… Man was not longer able to tolerate such closeness…"
How could God reveal any more of himself than he has in Christ? Recall Luke’s parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Once the rich man has begun experiencing the torments of his afterlife, he wants to send Lazarus to the rich man’s brothers. But Abraham tells him that even should someone rise from the dead there are those (such as the brothers) who would not believe.
We have all that we really need until Christ’s second coming. Is it too much?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Flowers, cards, and chocolate

For those of us who are married, or soon to enter into that state, February is (whether we like it or not) the month of Valentines, hearts, flowers, cherubs, pink and red. February 14, St. Valentine’s Day, is important not only to wives and fiancés but also florists, greeting card vendors, chocolate companies, and restaurants. Perhaps you remember the 7-11 commercial from a few years ago. As I recall it, a young woman is shown in the Valentine’s card aisle of a larger store, agonizing and agonizing over which card best expresses her depth of feeling. Then we see a young man purchasing his Big Gulp in the local convenience store, and, seeing the display on the counter, says to the clerk, “And, oh yeah, this too,” handing over the top card from the rack. The final scene shows the same young woman collapsing in tears over the completely, absolutely perfect expression of affection her boyfriend provides in that very same 7-11 card.
Because we know so little about St. Valentine – there may have been several early Romans name Valentinius, at least one of whom was a soldier and martyr for the faith – the Church no longer honors him on the official calendar. But we do know that there was a martyr who witnesses his love for Christ by the sacrifice of his life. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, which includes the passage instructing wives to subordinate themselves to their husbands, also instructs us:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her. (Eph 5:25).
That is, our wives are to subordinate themselves to us so that we can sacrifice ourselves for them. Which shows the greater and deeper obligation, subordination or sacrifice? We see how our wives give of themselves almost out of a natural impulse for their children, grandchildren, parish, friends, and, yes, their husbands. Our obligation is to ever more completely offer ourselves over to our wives, our family, our Church.
By the way, how much time do you spend in selecting the perfect card? Happy Valentine’s Day!
Deacon Rex Pilger
February, 2011, Newsletter, St. Joan of Arc Knights of Columbus

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The clock is ticking... or is it?

In the past few days, the canonical "issues" with conjugal rights for married deacons have been raised again, this time by Edward Peters' son. He states:
In simple terms, permanent deacons are obligated by law to refrain from sexual relations with their wife once they are ordained. [emphasis in original]
Fair warning: the argument is air-tight
Why? Because his father says so, apparently. Yet, he also notes:
No, the argument is not air-tight. Fundamentally and formally, the argument is illogical, as I first noted here (last letter) and here. Deacon William Ditewig makes the same observation:
If clerical CELIBACY flows from the desire for clergy to be CONTINENT, then wouldn't the very removal of the requirement for CELIBACY in the case of certain clerics not also remove the requirement for CONTINENCE? (I'm not shouting here; I'm simply typing for emphasis.) All clerics are to be continent. Therefore, all clerics are to be celibate. But not all clerics are celibate. Therfore [sic], not all clerics are continent. [EMPHASIS in original]
Father Lewis Berry comes to a similar conclusion (third comment):
I do not agree that the language of Canon 277&1 which states that the requirement of celibacy is premised on the value of continency in any way necessitates the corresponding view that the dispensation from the requirement of celibacy leaves the obligation of continency in place; I believe that the inference is quite the reverse. The marriage "right" or "usage" is derived from both natural and revealed law and cannot be considered to have been waived by mere implication of either law or collateral event.
Is the foundation of the controversy really just smoke and mirrors?

And, why the big push now, since the 2005 Studia Canonica article has been out there for going on six years? Near the end of the paper we read:

Finally, however, because such a practice is, it seems certain [sic], one actually "contrary to canon law," it could obtain force of law only if it was "legitimately" observed for "thirty continuous and complete years." The norm in question, of course, c. 277 of the 1983 Code, while consistent with earlier law, has itself been in place only for some twenty years. (p. 178-179).
2013 is only a couple of years away. It further appears that the author is not disinterested and wants his interpretation to be affirmed by Church authority:
This welcome articulation of the value of celibacy in its own right appeared in the 1982 Schema Codicis, c. 279, §1,67 and, as we have seen, was carried into the final form of the canon in the 1983 Code without amendment. (p. 169) [Emphasis added]
As a number of people have observed, either in their comments on existing posts or in their own blogs, proper Church authority has already acknowledged the legitimacy of married deacons exercising their marital rights:
The Sacrament of Matrimony sanctifies conjugal love and constitutes it a sign of the love with which Christ gives himself to the Church (cf. Eph. 5:25). It is a gift from God and should be a source of nourishment for the spiritual life of those deacons who are married. (Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons & Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons No. 61)
Yes, higher Church authority could redefine the rights and obligations of married deacons. Until then, if ever, I think the "question" is resolved.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Illogic and Law

The new/old clericalism continues to assert itself. Unintentionally, perhaps, attacks on the married diaconate may indicate that the restored ministry is critical to the Holy Spirit's plan for the Church. The argument that Canon 277 of the Code requires continence for married deacons is illogical, if not irrational.Further, the contention that removal of an explicit provision for diaconal marital relations from a preliminary draft of the Code implies the opposite is similarly fallacious. Since the scholastics of the Middle Ages, the consistency of reason and faith has been recognized as orthodox; if a contention is fallacious, it is not an argument.  
Further, an authoritative implementation of the Code (the Directory for the Ministry and Life of the Permanent Deacon) explicitly recognizes conjugal love as nourishment for the spiritual life of the married deacon. The contention that married deacons are to abstain from intimacy within marriage is inconsistent with both Divine and natural law and not supported by Canon Law.
Married deacons, trust in the Lord and in His Spirit Who lead the Church!
See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (NAB)
Behold I do new things, and now they shall spring forth, verily you shall know them: (D-RB)