Blessings in Christ and VIVA CHRISTO REY!
If you have followed my blogs in the last few years, many of the posts you will find here will be somewhat familiar to you, as this newest incarnation of “Catholicboyrichard” is a compilation of “posts of the past” and yet a new start after staying offline for around the last 2 months or so.
Other than a love of writing, I am back because I believe God still has some things for me to share. Simply that. Plus some amazing changes have occurred which I will be writing about in more detail, God willing, in the future, and which have affected my perspective and life direction in a number of ways, both spiritually and otherwise.
Many of you know, for example, that I returned to the Roman Catholic Faith just over 8 years ago this month, specifically on the Memorial Feast of St Francis of Assisi of October 4, 2005, via the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). I could not have guessed then that it would be, in many ways, a gigantic roller coaster ride at times, and yet, equally ironically, would on the other hand give me a stability in my Christian walk that I have not ever known earlier in my life, whether during my first 15 years as a devout “cradle Catholic” nor during my next 35 years as an evangelical Protestant. For the first 5 years back I never honestly expected my return to Rome to be shaken in my heart or mind, and then during the last 3 it has seemingly been one shake-up after another. All told I “gave up” on Rome 4 times during the period from late 2010 until mid-2013 (the longest was for a 4 month jaunt) and yet each time I sheepishly returned, stating I would “never leave again.” But did. And did. And did again. Adding them up, I was away from the Church for approximately 12 months total, and the last time was this summer for around 6 weeks or so. But God and at least most of you never gave up on me, and for the prayers and kindnesses shown to me during that rough and puzzling era I cannot thank you enough–ever. In fact saying a simple “thanks” is not adequate terminology, and yet all I can say to express what is within me. So yes, thanks! So very much.
But one thing is different this time of return–I made a solemn vow of renewal to the Faith, and not just a crawling back to Rome. In other words I will live and die a Roman Catholic if it kills me to do so hehe!!! And it just might. So that is what this new blog is all about–“Catholicboyrichard 2.0” is to signify a new day in my Faith and commitment to Christ in and through the Church which I deeply love, and which, even during my times of frustration and questions, I still loved and never really left. The vows I took when I was Confirmed in April of 2006 at age 50 still stand, and I firmly believe it is the very graces of that Confirmation which have kept me, even during rebellious moments and honest questions, and I have had plenty of both, on a seriously short leash to the Vatican. Or was it a choke collar? In any case it does indeed feel good to breathe freely again.
We recently had a “Rediscover” day in our Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis, with a number of tremendous speakers such as Matthew Kelly, George Weigl, Father Robert Barron, and culminated with a solemn consecration of our Archdiocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His (and our) Immaculate Mother, all on the same weekend that Pope Francis consecrated the entire world to our Mother and our Lord Jesus Christ. In making that consecration this last weekend I did indeed find a rediscovery of my need for this Faith and how utterly lost I am without it. While others are attempting to form Rome and the hierarchy into their own images I find deep comfort in knowing that they exist and have kept the Church going for just over 2000 years. That is some heady stuff when one really ponders it. The Faith is, as often said, both “ancient and new,” and if you count as well the Jewish Tradition which the Church is directly derived from and which Jesus came to us through, the Deposit of Faith in reality goes back at least 2000 years beyond that time. History such as that should not be dismissed lightly. So that is what inspires my new subtitle’s first word “Rediscovering.”
The other word used in that same subtitle (other than the word “the,” that is) is “Extraordinary.” When I was a little child, until somewhere between my first and second grades, our devoutly Catholic family attended unquestioningly the Tridentine Mass–and I remember the priest facing the altar, not the people, the utter silence during Mass other than the clicks of some older women’s Rosary beads, and the mystery of the Eucharist which I had yet to actually partake in. But I loved it then without even knowing why, and lately I have begun attending a parish, All Saints Catholic Church here in Minneapolis close to where I live, which features the Tridentine Mass weekly and even several early mornings each week. Our priest, Father Peter Bauknecht, and parochial vicar, Father Simon Harkins (I wonder if those names are coincidental by the way!), are “gifts” from the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), a similar and in fact somewhat related group to the St Pius X Society (SPPX) but who have made a firm commitment to follow Rome and the Holy Chair of the vicar of Christ on earth, currently held by Francis I, or just plain “Francis” as he prefers. No schism here. For Pope Emeritus Benedict VXI’s official document on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and its renewed use in the Universal Church, see the link just below:
And, while I certainly do not deny the validity of the Novus Ordo (the Mass of Paul VI) in any way, I find it to be an utterly fascinating journey to a much earlier time in my life, only this time I can actually read along with the Missal and receive our Lord, at the Communion rail, from the hands of these holy men of God. And I pretty much love it. I would in fact challenge any of you who have not attended a Latin Mass, Tridentine style particularly, to do so if you are in a location where they are available. I would also suggest to not attend one only, but rather go for a month or so, and then see how it fits you and you it. You might be, as I have been, utterly yet pleasantly surprised. And, as stated, I still attend the Novus Ordo Mass sometimes during the week at the beautiful Cathedral/National Shrine of St Paul as well as Nativity of our Lord (where incidentally Twins catcher Joe Mauer was married last year, and where Hollywood actor Josh Hartnett of “Pearl Harbor” fame grew up in) Catholic parishes, both with whom I have remained connected with on an associate level, and still find its beauty and clarity, particularly since the greatly improved translation changes/revisions of 2011, to bring something real and positive to me as well, but I absolutely love the Tridentine Mass–and never thought I would. At all. Something about the priest facing God, not us the people but leading us in approaching God together, and praying and offering with and for the people the prayerful sacrifice of ourselves (and most importantly the Lord Himself through his priestly function and gifts), very much intrigues and enthralls me–and makes me feel a lot younger once again too! And, to attend a Mass that is essentially unchanged since Reformation days and actually far further back than then, rather than one which has been augmented, experimented with and at times flipped on its head for the last nearly half a century, seems to somehow connect me in a fuller way with those first Apostles, as well as nearly all of the Saints and Faithful for the last millennia and more. What the Latin Mass is to the West corresponds beautifully to Eastern Catholic Liturgy in both its age, nuances, and yet significance to the modern world. In other words it is timeless in a very tangible way, and in that sense resembles the Heavenly Liturgy in its reverence, mystery and awe. And it is these which cause me to return, week after week.
Not a bad reason for going to church on Sunday. More later, and it is good to be back online.
- Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose (brendaanneckels.wordpress.com)
- Pope Francis Generates Controversy (northcathedral.wordpress.com)
- The Christ-Centered Pope (juicyecumenism.com)
- Local Catholics Gather In Celebration Despite Controversies (minnesota.cbslocal.com)
- Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist (ldsguy2catholic.wordpress.com)