Monday, March 27, 2017

"Mary, did you know?"

How to interpret "Mary, did you know?" --

Father Mullady in Homiletic & Pastoral Review responds to a readers query...

I added a comment, below the column (if the moderator lets it be posted).
Regarding "Mary, did you know?" Almost from the first time I heard it sung I "heard" Our Lady say, "Yes," to each query., And, the song touches me each time the choir sings it "correctly" (according to my standard).
Is this a mystical experience? No, rather it is an interpretation, a kind of expansion of meaning, flowing logically from the Scriptures and the Church's doctrine regarding Mary's fiat and her pondering in her heart (Luke 2:19, 52) what to expect from her son. 
Written by an Evangelical, the song seems to me to be an unconscious bridge from the Evangelical Protestant to orthodox Catholicism. Is there any other contemporary Christian song that articulates so much of which the Church teaches about Mary?

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Some years ago (actually quite a few) I served a few years with a very unusual pastor, Father Duffy. There were  six or seven deacons including me assigned to his parish. During one meeting with him in the rectory, he announced that the USCCB had published two new books, a revised Funeral Rites and a Book of Blessings. He told us that he was ordering copies of both for each of us deacons. He indicated that the text of the new Funeral Rites "is beautiful" and very pastoral. I remember him each time I'm asked to preside at the Vigil before the Funeral (usually including the Rosary). This is because within the Vigil text is a very striking assertion. I had reason to refer to it just recently as part of a a message to a co-worker in my parish:
I am greatly distressed for you and your family at the passing of your mother. While we trust in the mercy of the Father, mourning and sorrow are part of our human nature. Christ Jesus himself wept for Lazarus (his great friend) and the son of the widow at Nain (whom he did not know in their humanity).
 After the greeting at the beginning of the Vigil Rite the evening before the Funeral, the priest or deacon may read,
My brothers and sisters, we believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death. Confident that God always remembers the good we have done and forgives our sins, let us pray, asking God to gather  to himself…
Is there a better and more consoling assertion of our Catholic faith? Your love for your mother in this life has not been taken from you, but is changed into love and hope crossing into the life to come.
 If we can be of any service to you in these sad days, please let us know.
As deacon, I treasure the opportunity to minister to family and friend of the deceased in their time of grief. Sometimes, in the pain of their loss, it is necessary for there to be someone who represents the Church whose firm foundation of faith may support them and provide meaning and hope in the midst of loss, even desolation.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Every Man a (Catholic) Deacon?

Thanks to Mark Shea for:

Deacon Rex Pilger, Jr. writes

Are you, or is a man you know, called to be a Catholic deacon?
If you just might be called, read, Every Man a Deacon?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

What happened fifty years ago?

2014 is an important anniversary for Catholic deacons as well as the larger Church.
Read here about just what is so important about this commemoration.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Every Man ... Please get the word out.

Thanks to DeaconDen for this note regarding my book: Every Man a Deacon?

Friday, December 12, 2014

How is my book doing?

This is the first time that I have had a book on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. However, the motivation for the book was to prompt men who are already active in lay ministry to consider strengthening their calling by responding to the deeper calling of ordination to the permanent diaconate. Maybe even the marketing message (largely by word of mouth) whether it leads to men reading the book or not, it might lead to that first discussion with the man's wife, then with his pastor, and finally with the director of deacon formation in his diocese. Even after this, the book is still very much worth reading and thinking about. Are you really sure?

Marketing has deep roots

How am I attempting to reach men who are most likely to consider a call to become a deacon in the Church? Let me introduce a little story.
When I was in Junior High I decided that I wanted to be a geologist. I had become enamored with certain kinds of rocks which exhibited what I now would describe as rational beauty. I first saw it in the petrified wood which I could pick up in a certain dry stream bed, The beauty in the pattern in the rock is retained from the grain of a tree limb as the cellulose is replaced by crypto-crystalline silica, retaining the pattern and even color of the original wood.
Then I saw geodes. Layers of crystals of different colors wrap around openings in the native rock, growing from out to in. I still am enthralled by them, to the benefit of rock and mineral shops.
In High School I became intrigued by contemporary TV advertising; this was the classic period of clever Volkswagen ads and promotions of other products and services: We're number two, so we try harder.
I went to college with a plan to major in marketing; rocks had faded away, at least temporarily. After a summer session and first fall semester, including introduction to business, bookkeeping and intro journalism with advertising option (along with other conventional intro courses) I found an opening in my spring schedule. There was nothing I could take that would satisfy the freshman curriculum, so I signed up for intro geology, as an elective. It was perhaps three weeks into that semester that I changed my major.
Going back to Junior High: I went to a youth day at the county seat's Congregational Church; it was to include both Junior and Senior High students from all of the Congregational Churches in our part of the state. I was disappointed to see that very few of High School members came, especially one guy who was four years older than I; he was a hero to me. I wasn't the only one who was disappointed at the turnout of the older students, either. Over lunch I was approached by the ministers of my own church and of the church in which we were meeting. They told me that one of the high school students had been expected to lead worship at the end of the day. And, they wanted me to take his place. It was the very same guy whom I admired so much. I, an eighth-grader, was taking the place of a senior! So, there I was, leading worship. I thought about becoming a Congregational minister, but I didn't think I had what would be required; I guess I didn't feel a call.
I became a geologist/geophysicist, teaching and researching, and still continue to do some research and publish the results. I also became a minister... just not in the Congregational Church.
And, advertising? I am now promoting my Every Man a Deacon?, targeting priests and emailing deacons who might know men who could be called to the diaconate, and, if their contact information is available, the men themselves.
I guess that each of my teenage impulses have found expression in my adult life.  
Oh, one more thing: the crystal patterns in a geode are fractals; my last geophysical article utilized fractals as the fitting criterion for plate reconstructions.