Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why does Fr. Hardesty do that?! Part 2

For the second installment in "Why does crazy Fr. Hardesty do that?!" I'm dropping the "crazy" but we all still know its true!

Question: "Why does Fr. Hardesty take so long to do the dishes after Communion?"

Answer: Well if it was just a matter of doing dishes, I probably wouldn't do them at all! They would probably stay piled up on the credence table until Fr. Chuck finally did them! I'm not a very domesticated guy! But its about more than doing the dishes, its about purifying the vessels, not in the sense that they have been sullied bit in the sense of preparing sacred vessels for sacred use. This has ritualistic and devotional connotations. So then its not about being slow and mechanical but being reverent and careful. St. Thomas Aquinas taught us that as long as it still has the characteristics of bread and wine to the naked eye then it still is the Body and Blood of Christ. Without being scrupulous, what looks like a bread crumb is still the Body of Christ and what looks like a drop of wine is still the Blood of Christ. Therefore I try to be very careful with how I collect/consume/repose What remains after Communion.  On Sundays most of the vessels are purified at the credence table by the deacon which expedites this greatly.

I purify my chalice and paten at the altar because in the Missal there is a private prayer between the priest and God that is said during this: "What has passed our lips as food O Lord may we receive with purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity."

Finally, the time after Communion is a beautiful time to speak intimately with the Lord who loves us and is living in us through the Eucharist we have just received. It is a time for praying to the Lord as a friend, thanking him, telling him about our day, asking for his help, etc. If we are praying during this time, the priest wont even be noticed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Series: Why Does Crazy Fr. Hardesty Do That?!

On Monday I got a wild hair and ran with it… let see how it goes.  I’ve been thinking lately that I do some things differently from Fr. Chuck, my pastor, or really many priests for that matter, especially in the way I celebrate Mass.  I don’t do this to necessarily draw a contrast or set myself apart or anything like that.  It’s just how it is.  I celebrate Mass how I was trained in seminary, with close adherence to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and with an eye toward celebrating the new form of the Mass in continuity with how the older form was/is celebrated.  Different priests have different formation, different convictions, different priorities, different interpretations of the G.I.R.M., etc.  So, for example, if the instructions for the new Mass aren’t clear or specific on a certain point, I’ll default to the more fine-tuned instructions of the older form (where this can be done legitimately).  An example of this would be how I hold my orans position (hands extended in prayer), how I use and place my hands during the Eucharistic Prayer, points of focus, etc.  On the other hand, what I don’t do is carry over ceremonial actions from the old form into the new, like blessing the water before it is used, making a sign of the cross with the Particle before it is dropped into the chalice, incensing the gifts with a large Sign of the Cross over them and three swings around them, etc., etc.

ANYWAY, what I’m getting at is: When people see things, especially in the Mass, that they aren’t used to or haven’t learned about, the difference is often internally disruptive rather than edifying, especially if a rationale or explanation hasn’t been given.  I vividly remember experiencing this in the pew myself.  And I’ve been thinking lately that I haven’t really explained Why I do what I do.  Perhaps that could be edifying?

SOOO… I’ve decided that during my Daily, Non-School, Masses I will preach briefly on the day’s readings for a couple minutes and then briefly explain for a couple more minutes one particular thing that I do that people don’t often experience.  This isn’t meant to spotlight me or the differences between other priests and me.  It is meant to be a brief, light-hearted, non-defensive, self-deprecating explanation in a catechetical or “New Evangelization” kind of spirit, to ease some of the disruption that folks might feel when they experience something they aren’t used to.  Each person can then judge if this is helpful or not.  Preaching to the Daily Mass crowd is often singing to the choir, but my hope is that they will share the bits of explanation (and the homily!) with their family and friends who may have these questions.

Let me know what you think.  Is this a good idea?  Feel free to suggest (charitably) future installments of, “Why Does Crazy Fr. Hardesty Do That?!”

Part 1: “Why does crazy Fr. Hardesty juke us out when he introduces the Gospel?  He goes, ‘The Lord be with you’ and we respond ‘And with your spirit.’  Then he says, ‘A reading from the Holy Gospel’ **PAUSE** ‘according to Luke’ and we respond ‘Glory to you O Lord’, but that pause throws us off.  And what does he whisper at the end?”

Answer: Before the Gospel is proclaimed the priest signs the Gospel Book, his forehead, lips, and chest as he introduces it with this short dialogue.  I personally like to do this as the rubricians (commentators on rubrics) of the old form of the Mass suggested.  The Gold Standard in my opinion is J.B. O’Connell’s, Celebration of Mass and The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described.  Again, where the new G.I.R.M. is imprecise my tendency is to default to the older instructions.  In this case, in the Latin of course, the priest signed the first letter of the first word of the Gospel reading as he said “A reading…”, his forehead as he said, “from the Holy Gospel,” his lips in silence (hence the pause), and finally his chest as he said “according to Luke.”  He then fixed his hands throughout the reading.  After he said “The Gospel of the Lord” and the server responded “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ” the priest whispered “By the words of the Gospel…” then kissed the first letter of the reading and continued, “… may our sins be wiped away.”  So that’s what I do now.  In the revised Missal of the new form the rubric says that this and other private prayers are “said quietly” not “silently” and so they are vocalized as a whisper and not merely said internally or skipped.  So there ya have it!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Homily, Christ the King, Year B 2012

christ the kingWe celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King on the last weekend of Ordinary Time, at the end of another Church Year. Next weekend marks the beginning of Advent, the beginning of a new Church Year as we wait with joyful hope for the coming of our Savior at Christmas. We celebrate Christ the King at the end of the Church year because the Church wants to teach us that by putting his Kingship at the end, we can see that His Crown is the Crown of the year. All of the action of the Church Year moves forward and up to His Kingship and is summed up by it. He is the King of all we have done and all we have celebrated. Everything from his Incarnation to his Ascension is both a sign of and a testament to his Kingship. He is our king in here. Is he our king out there?

John’s Gospel today puts us into a terrible scene: Jesus is being interrogated, only hours before his crucifixion and death. Over his head will soon hang the charge for which he was found guilty. It was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin so that all who passed by could read it. The Latin read, “I.N.R.I.” (“Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum”) – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. He claimed to be king, but the Jews and the Romans already had their king, King Herod. Therefore, Jesus was killed. His persecutors were so blinded by their sin and hatred that they could not see Him for Who He truly is. They were expecting a worldly king with worldly power. They could not see that here hung before them the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the King of a kingdom not of this world, the King of the kingdom of God. This he told Pilate when Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews. “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world… For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”

Is Christ our King, not only in this Church, but in the rest of our lives as well? Can others recognize his reign over our hearts? Our first reading foretold that the king to come would be served by “all peoples, nations, and languages.” Are we part of the fulfillment of that prophecy? Can we recognize him as king? Will we know him when he comes again triumphantly? The Book of Revelation, as we heard in last weekend’s apocalyptic readings, proclaims that Christ is the long-awaited king, heir to the throne of David. He is the “ruler of the kings of the earth” and “he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.”

Let us treat this week, the end of the Church Year, like we often treat the end of the calendar year. Often the rolling of one year to the next causes us to look back and see how we have done. We may check our budget for the year and see how it panned out. We may check our expenses to see where we might save a little in the new year. This week, let’s look back on our spiritual year. Let’s call to mind how well we have been servants of our good and merciful Lord and King. Have we acknowledged him as our King? Or have we anointed another to be king in his place? Have we placed on the throne of our hearts a tyrant, another particular person or thing? In that way, have we preferred King Herod over Jesus Christ? Has our homage been to our work, our money, or the latest technology? Have we adored our reputation, our appetites, or our passions? Have we bowed down before our anger, our jealousy, or our laziness? So many things, people, and spirits are masquerading as our king, vying for our devotion.

The more we choose Christ as our King, the easier it will be to recognize him, and to choose rightly every time. It is similar to the way inspectors can tell when a dollar bill is counterfeit. The best inspectors know the real bills because they have handled the them by the hundreds. Hundreds of real bills, one by one, have passed through their hands until they almost know by instinct which one is a fake. The more we choose Christ, the easier it will be to recognize when a fake presents itself.

Let us choose Him again today. After all, the kingdom of God is already present in a real but incomplete way in the presence of the Church. He has “made us into a kingdom,” St. John proclaims from the Book of Revelation. We are the priestly people of his kingdom, priests for God our Father, who offer sacrifice and prayer to the Father on behalf of our brothers and sisters, each in our own way. When Christ alone reigns in our hearts, when we choose him as our king before any other person or thing, then… in a sense… we make his kingdom more recognizable to Him, when He comes again. Perhaps by our way of life, it will be easier for him to say, “Aha! That’s my kingdom, those are my people. Come, sit at my right, your foes I will put beneath your feet.”