Sunday, October 9, 2011

Homily on “The Changes in the Mass” 10/9/11

Deacon Jerry Franzen - Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption
Diocese of Covington, KY

Many of you know that during the week,
I teach Chemistry at Newport Central Catholic High School.
A couple weeks ago in my Chemistry 1 class
one of the students raised his hand and said,
“Can I ask a religion question?” I said, “Sure, go ahead.”
His question was,
“What is this I hear about their changing the Mass?”
So we spent about 20 minutes talking about the changes.
Some wanted to know if the Mass would be longer.
One asked, I think hopefully, if the homily would be dropped.
There are changes coming, but they are not major.
The changes will come into play
with the Masses on the weekend of November 27.
The order of the elements of the Mass will not change:
No new parts will be added, no parts will be dropped out,
all the same parts in the same order.


The changes are in words,
because we now have a new translation into English
of the Church’s official Roman Missal which is in Latin.
Some of us can remember how the Mass changed
as a result of the Second Vatican Council.
The pre-Vatican II Mass was in Latin throughout the world.
With the Second Vatican Council there were two areas of change:
First, the order of the Mass,
the set of actions that take place in the Mass, was changed.
Some new parts were added, some were deleted
some were rearranged and some were modified.
That all required a new Latin text, a new book, a new Missal.

If the post-Vatican II changes had stopped there,
the Mass would still be in Latin throughout the world,
with the current order of the elements.
In fact, the post-Vatican II Mass is still in Latin
for all to use if so desired.
However, translation of the post-Vatican II Mass
into the vernacular was permitted.
That meant that the Latin form of the new order of the Mass
could then be translated into
and used in each individual language.
That was done in English rather hastily about 1970.
A second English edition of the translation came out about 1975.
That is the edition we are currently using.
To get to our present point, there have been many, many changes
in the Mass over many, many years.

Some years ago, it was decided that a more careful translation,
using a greater variety of translation strategies was needed.
The third look at the translation was begun years ago,
And it has taken a good number of years to develop
and have it approved as the new third edition.
Once again let me emphasize that the Latin version
of the post-Vatican II Mass is not being changed.
It is SOME of the words of the translation that are being changed
and it is only for the English speaking countries.
The changes are widespread throughout the Mass.
They are in the words said by the priest,
the deacon and the assembly.
Some are in the private prayers said by the priest and the deacon.
You will not even hear these.
Many are in the prayers said out loud by the priest and deacon.
And some, not many, are in the words said by you or by all.
There will be cards in the pews for all parts of the Mass
that the people either sing or say with the new wordings.

While this may be an ideal time to review all the parts of the Mass,
I cannot do that in a homily.
Neither you or I could endure that.


But I would like to cover one important item
of background information: Jesus’s presence in the Mass.
We are in the midst of celebrating the Mass.
And who is the chief celebrant of the Mass,
Msgr. Neuhaus, Fr. Bach, Bishop Foys?
Jesus is the chief celebrant at each Mass;
it is his Mass, His Meal, His sacrifice
and Jesus is present in the Mass in four ways:
1.Jesus is present sacramentally in the consecrated species
of His Body and His Precious Blood, which we receive.
This is the presence of Jesus par excellance.
2.Jesus is present in the Word as proclaimed and preached,
which we hear.
3.Jesus is present in the priest,
who is the person who represents Jesus, in human form.
4.And Jesus is present in the assembly gathered here,
“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst.”

All of that, Jesus’ Body and Blood, the Word of God,
the priest and deacon doing their parts
and YOU, the asembly, doing your parts,
all of that is aimed at our salvation.
It is critical and essential
that in order to have the fullest celebration of the Mass,
you do your parts well.


The reasons for the changes in words are several:
In some cases the aim is to be more faithful to the Latin.
In some cases the aim is to be more
faithful to the biblical origin
of many of the texts of the Mass.
In some cases the aim is to be more poetic
and pleasing to the ear.
I must say that I certainly would be a poor judge
of what is poetic.
I expect that most of the changes for poetic reasons
are in the prayers said by the priest
IN ALL CASES the aim is to make
all that is said more sacred and more beautiful
AND to make what we say
conform better to what we believe as Catholics,
because how we pray shows what we believe.

Let’s look at some examples of changes:
When the priest or deacon says, “The Lord be with you.”
The people currently say “And also with you.”
The changed response will be “And with your spirit.”
The priest’s “The Lord be with you.”
is a greeting from the book of Ruth of the Old Testament.
The Latin for the people’s response has always been,
“Et cum spiritu tuo.”
“Et” - “and”, “cum” – “with”, “spiritu tou” - “your spirit.”
The Latin word “spiritu” has always been there,
but our current translation does not include the word “spirit.”
I do not know why it was not included in the translation of 1975.
The word for “spirit” has always been included
in the vernacular translations in other languages,
such as Spanish – espiritu, French - esprit,
German - Geiste and Italian - spirito.
So the change makes what we say conform better to the Latin,
but there is a further dimension.
Why is “spiritu” there at all?
It is biblical.
In two of his letters, St. Paul wrote that the Lord
would be with the spirit of those to whom he was writing.
What is important about the concept of “spirit?”
Those who are ordained, deacons, priests and bishops,
receive by their ordination a special “spirit”,
a gift of the Holy Spirit by which they stand in for Christ.
They represent Christ in a special way by virtue
of the “spirit” they received at ordination.
So when “The Lord be with you” is said to the people,
the wish is for the presence of the Lord
in the assembly,
gathered as two or three in the Lord’s name.
Responding with “And with your spirit”
then recognizes and better expresses what we believe
in regards to the presence of the Lord in the ordained.

Now for some examples of changes in the Profession of Faith:
We now use the Nicene Creed.
With the new edition of the Missal,
the Apostles Creed can be used in place of the Nicene Creed.
Don’t worry, both will be on the cards.
At the beginning of the Nicene Creed, we say “We believe…”
That has been changed to “I believe…..”,
which is the correct translation for the word “Credo,”
the first word in the Latin version.
Because the Creed originated as a baptismal profession of faith
recited by the person (or sponsor of the person )
to be baptized, we have returned to the “I believe”,
which is more of a “speak for yourself” attitude,
that recalls the profession of faith at our baptism.

In the Nicene Creed we currently say,
“…..all things seen and unseen.”
We believe that God created all parts of creation
as visible and invisible by their very nature
and not tied to what some person has seen or not seen.
The new words are “…….all things visible and invisible,”
which states more clearly what we believe about God’s creation.

In the creed we now say,
“and by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.”
During those words ALL are to bow from the waist.
This bow is part of what all of the assembly currently should do,
not just those of us in the sanctuary,
but all gathered together bow during these words.
The wording change is, “and by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man.”
Again, during these words ALL are to bow;
the action has not changed.
The direction to bow will be on the cards.
The former wording seems to imply
that God became man at the moment of the birth of Jesus.
By using the word incarnate, meaning “in the flesh,”
“in” – “in” and “carnate” – “flesh” Latin, “incarnatus,”
we better express the fact that
God did not become man just at Jesus’ birth,
but that God became man when he first took on flesh
at the moment of conception
“by power of the Holy Spirit.”

Personally, I think that the most important reason for the changes
that involve what the assembly says
(at least the ones I have chosen here today,)
is that they help us to better pray in words that express
what the Catholic Church believes and teaches
about the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

These certainly are not all of the changes,
but I hope that what I have said will give you
an introduction to the flavor of the changes and
provide some concrete examples
of why the changes have been made.
Remember all of the changes will be on a card
available for you to read, as needed at Mass,
and they do not begin until the Sunday Masses
of the weekend of November 27.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pro Life Mass Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption 10/4/11

Jonah 3:1-10 Luke 10: 38-42

Most Reverend Bishop Foys, I thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts this evening. I am blessed and truly honored.

The first reading began with the following:
“The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time.”
That should prompt us to ask, “What happened the first time?”
What we just heard was the middle of the story of Jonah.
Jonah was a prophet,
one who brought God’s messages to the people,
messages designed to help the people to follow God’s will.
God had called Jonah to go to Nineveh to deliver such a message.
Nineveh was a large town, the capital of Assyria.
in what is now Iraq.
The Assyrians were the pagan enemies of the Israelites.
The evil of Nineveh had come before God,
and Jonah was to go there and preach against the evil.
Jonah didn’t really want to go to Nineveh.
After all, he was going into enemy territory
and he probably knew that the fate of many prophets
was death at the hand of those to whom they were sent.
So Jonah got on a boat going in the opposite direction,
was thrown overboard, swallowed by a big fish,
the famous “whale,” and deposited back on land.
God was telling Jonah, “Not so fast! I’m in control here.”
Sometimes people do not get the message the first time.
I can understand that, I am a teacher.


So “The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time.”
This time Jonah recognized God’s insistence and went to Nineveh.
His assignment was to tell the Ninevites
that they had 40 days to clean up their act
and if they didn’t, God would destroy the town.
Certainly, Jonah thought that he had a big task before him.
He expected three days of opposition or outright hostility.
But it turned out to be a one day job
and the message was heard.
The message was so clear and so effective, apparently,
that the pagan king ordered all in Nineveh to repent,
to wear sackcloth, even the animals, and to observe a Fast.
The evil of Nineveh was turned around, all the people repented,
and, God, therefore did not exert his wrath on the city.
End of today’s story, but there is the rest of the story.

After the conversion of the Ninevites, Jonah went into a funk.
He was angry with God that he let the Ninevites off too easily.
He thought that they should have had some punishment
for all the evil that they had embraced.
Apparently he wanted the pleasure
of seeing the Ninevites get their “comeuppance.”
He was envious of the mercy that God had shown to them.
Jonah was thinking his own need for vengeance
and his envy of God’s love and mercy for the evil Ninevites.
God explained to Jonah that forgiving the destruction of the city
and the people was not his, Jonah’s, responsibility,
but that it was God’s responsibility.
God elected not to kill the Ninevites and destroy their city.
After all, we know that God is Pro Life.

I see three elements in the story of Jonah that can be applied to us:
1. How do we answer God’s call?
2. What then are our expectations about our service to God?
3. What is our response to seeing God’s mercy in others
as we go about doing our work as a result of God’s call?


How many of us might react as Jonah did
when WE first feel God’s call to some action?
Is our response, “Oh! That’s not something I WANT to do?”
“And besides I don’t have the time or the energy for it.”
Or is it, “It does not fit MY gifts and talents?”
“I certainly wouldn’t want to attempt to do something
for God and the Church, and FOUL IT UP.”
Does that ring true about any of us?
It is not about what we want.
It is clearly about what God wants.
Sometimes it takes a lot of discernment to get
the feel for what God wants.
But, God is persistent; God will keep after us.
Faith in God is the answer to
“Oh, I don’t have the time or the talents.
I could really make a mess of things if I got involved.”
If God is calling you to do something,
he will make the time for you
AND he will be sure that you are qualified.
There is a saying,
“It is not that God calls just those qualified,
it’s that he qualifies those he calls.”
God calls each of us to serve Him and
and he has already given us the qualifications we need.
Faith in God provides us with the confidence to answer God’s call.
As I look back, God had been calling me to become a deacon
for about ten years, before I finally opened myself
to the promptings of the Holy Spirit
and decided that I wanted to enter the formation program.
I had to get past what I wanted
and have the faith to accept what God wants.
The Holy Spirit was persistent,
and now I THINK that I have found what God wants.
This first part of the story of Jonah
should prompt us to ask ourselves:
“Are we open to the plan God has for each of us?”

The second point is that, as we carry out God’s call,
we may see that it is not always what we have expected.
Jonah found his task to be much easier
than he thought it would be.
In the end I have found that my vocation in the diaconate
is much more enjoyable and fulfilling
than I could have ever predicted it would be.
Again it requires faith, faith that
whatever God has called us to
will be joyful service to his people.

And thirdly, as we carry out our call, whatever that might be,
we should be experiencing God’s love and His mercy
and take great joy in that love and mercy.


We are gathered this evening for a unified purpose,
to celebrate life in the context of celebrating
God’s sending of His only begotten Son,
to live with us, to die for us,
and to live again with us in the Eucharist,
all for our salvation.
And, like Jonah, we have been called to a special purpose
by he Holy Spirit.
Some of us may have tried to turn away
from that call thinking that marching for life,
in Washington or in Mt. Auburn,
that questioning a woman’s right to choose
that volunteering at a pregnancy center
and other activities like that, are for others.

I wasn’t sure that I was equipped
to deal with the Pro Life issues.
My introduction was more than thirty years ago
at a meeting of More Life,
the student Pro Life group at Thomas More College.
I checked out one of their meetings
and decided that it was not for me at that time,
but that it was a fine cause for the students to pursue.
I understood and agreed with the Church’s teachings,
but I wasn’t ready to take the plunge.
It seemed to be an uphill battle
that I didn’t want to engage in.
0That all changed when I went on my first march in Washington.

I have found that working in the Pro Life arena
is so much more than marching in Washington
or at the abortion clinic.
If you are not sure whether God is calling you
to become more active in Pro Life work, parish or beyond,
you have taken the first step by being here this evening.
God will keep after you,
but probably not in the form of that big fish.

And, Oh, don’t we wish that our prophetic efforts
to convert the Pro Choice environment around us
would be as quickly successful as Jonah’s efforts were
in converting the Ninevites.
Ours, in the Pro Life Movement, is a much slower conversion.
While Jonah did not expect success in his prophetic work,
many, in the early Pro Life days,
may have expected a quick reversal
of the Roe vs Wade decision.
After all, we have a very clear message – the sanctity of life.
Ultimately, our success is assured, there is no doubt.
But, the opposition is strong and defiant,
even from some who profess to be Catholics.
Yet, we must have faith that we will succeed,
and know that it will be on God’s plan and not ours.
And let us not forget that what we do here this evening,
that the power of our prayer
is so very important in our role in God’s plan.
Lastly, whatever we do we must do it in light of God’s mercy
not envious that God’s mercy is for all, us and the opposition.
God’s mercy comes from God’s infinite love for all.

Whatever we do we must do it in love and mercy.
First, in love for all human life from conception to natural death,

but also in love and mercy for all who support abortion,
euthanasia and capital punishment,

in love and mercy for the victims of abortion,
men, women and children,

in love and mercy for those medical personnel
who have cooperated in performing an abortion,

in love and mercy for those who have assisted suicide,

and in love and mercy for those
who have carried out the death penalty.

All that we do must be done in charity,
especially charity for all who disagree with us.
That may be the most important part of our ministry,
for how we treat others speaks volumes.
Today is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi,
who is known for his concern for all life,
especially his concerns for the quality of life of the poor.

There a is a story told about St. Francis
that I’m sure many of you have heard it,
but it bears repeating for everyone.
St. Francis told a companion that he was going out to preach
and he invited the companion to come along.
They went among the poor ministering to their needs.
When they had finished their work of the day,
the companion asked St. Francis
about the fact that during their day together
he had not heard Francis mention scripture once
or give any discourse on some theological topic.
Where was the preaching? asked the companion.
Francis’ answer was, “Preach always, use words when necessary.”

May we always preach the Pro Life message
in all that we say and in all that we do.