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Archive for September 2011

DeaconCast Episode #20,

This Sunday's scriptures are deceptively easy o preach. Here I try to break them open as a challenge rather than a command, using practical examples in our lives.

Readings for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A


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I am preparing to launch a new series on the Diaconate and New Media. I found this video from Australia explaining new media policies to employees. Well done, clever, and good advice. Thought this would be a good place to start the series...... certainly the easiest since it's already done for me

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Deaconcast Episode #19

In this episode we finish up with our discussion of the theology of Baptism/. Sorry it took me so long to get to it.....

Bumper music by D.J.Digital Josh



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I am posting this as a call to action on the part of all men and women of good will, but most especially for my brother deacons.  As servants of God's people, we should not sit by idle while our freedoms are threatened. If the Catholic Church does not serve all in need in this country, who will? Write, call, speak up and speak out. The original article can be found here

Archbishop Nienstedt

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

I fully intended to publish “Part Two” of my commentary on the marvelous experience of World Youth Day in today’s column. I now hope to do so in the next issue.

But, in the meantime, there has arisen a very serious threat to the religious freedom of all religious institutions, especially our Catholic health care programs and Catholic social services, a threat posed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Under HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (a Catholic), the department is imposing a “preventative services” mandate requiring all private health plans — including ones administered by the church and its agents — to provide coverage for surgical sterilizations, prescription contraceptives approved by the FDA, and “education and counseling” for “all women of reproductive capacity.”

Seismic change in approach

Unfortunately, this is the logical result of a seismic change in this administration’s approach to religious groups involved in providing social services to, among others, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the immigrant.

It began when President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton started using the term “freedom of worship” as distinct from what we have always known as “freedom of religion.”

Under the concept of “freedom of worship,” church agencies are restricted to hiring employees only from their own denomination and providing services for clients only from their own denomination.

Such a concept restricts Christian believers in their charitable outreach to society and, in effect, encloses them within their own sanctuaries.

This is radical secularism at its epitome. It is an affront to the centuries of Christian service offered by churches to clients of all backgrounds, color or creed. And, it is the slippery slope to a completely secularized state wherein people of religious conviction will be required to privatize their beliefs and in doing so, at least for Catholics, render their faith meaningless.

Action steps

I highly recommend two steps.  The first is to write Secretary Sebelius (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20201) or your congressional officers to oppose this mandate and to demand that it be rescinded. These letters need to be received before the end of September.

Secondly, letters should also be sent to federal congressional representatives to support a bill, the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” (H.R. 1179, S. 1467), that would protect conscience rights in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This legislation is needed even more so in face of HHS’s mandate to require all private institutions to cover contraceptives and sterilizations.

As Cardinal DiNardo, chair of the USCCB Pro-Life Committee, wrote last week:

“Those who sponsor, purchase and issue health plans should not be forced to violate their deeply held moral and religious convictions in order to take part in the health care system or provide for the needs of their families, their employees or those most in need.  To force such an unacceptable choice would be as much a threat to universal access to health care as it is to freedom of conscience.”

(The cardinal’s letter can be found online at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/preventive-letter-to-house-2011-09.pdf).

Lesson from history

The “preventive services” mandate is a significant threat to religious freedom that should put all Catholics on notice that there are many in government and in our culture who will sacrifice long-held and cherished liberties on the altar of so-called reproductive autonomy.

I ask you to join with me today in taking action to preserve our religious freedom and conscience protection.  History reminds us that “evil triumphs when good people do nothing.”

This is a time for believers to act and let our representatives in government know that this is an unacceptable course of action!

God bless you!

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Great to See This!

It is refreshing to see some truly beautiful churches being built in my home state of Nebraska. This last August saw the dedication of the truly beautiful Prince of Peace Church here in Kearney and now there are plans for a new church building in Lincoln for the Blessed John Newman Center. The Catholic student community at NU is one of the most vibrant in the country. The below is taken from the architect's website:

"This project is for a new St Thomas Aquinas Chapel and new Newman Center complex in welcome collaboration with Kevin Clark and his firm Clark Architectural Collaborative. The Chapel and Center will replace the existing 1960’s-era complex now rendered obsolete by the rich, vibrant and highly-active Catholic student culture fostered by the Priests, Religious and Staff at the Newman Center. The project is in the fundraising stage. Please see: http://www.huskercatholic.org/ Commissioned by Father Robert Matya, Pastor and Chaplain

          Watch the walkthrough






Watercolor Rendering produced by Robert Hanna

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Waypoints in Church History

Catholic TV is starting a new show called Waypoints in Church History. This first episode is just an introduction. It looks like it will be pretty interesting. Knowing where we have been will help us to reach where we are going.

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Our society is pretty hung-up on being fair.  We even try to legislate fairness, ensuring that housing is fair, education is fair, and employment is fair.  “It’s not fair” has become a battle cry within our cultural landscape.  Yet our society still doesn’t get it.....

Link to the readings


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A Liturgical Rant: Wearing Underwear Over Outerwear

Below is a re-post from the excellent blog: Deacons Today: Dalmatics and Beyond. More than one priest (and several deacons) has commented that they would like to see me wear a stole over the dalmatic. I have not done so. I do wear a dalmatic. In Omaha, they were provided. In my current parishes, they are not. (perhaps just the difference between a parish with means (Omaha) and parishes with less means. (current). One of the first things I did when assigned was to buy dalmatics, one at a time, until I had a set. It is not that I am overly clerical. It is because it is right to be properly vested. Are they hot in the Summer.... yes. So is a chausable.To my brother deacons I would say: Get over it. Deacons do not have the prerogative to make this decision of wearing one or not and they certainly do not have the prerogative to place a stole over the dalmatic. It simply doesn't belong there.

I remember making a statement in the Sacristy, not too long after I was ordained, that I didn't want to wear a dalmatic. (They were particularly heavy) Our liturgist said that "would be fine.... if I didn't mind going out there (Sanctuary) in my underwear. That stuck with me. Enjoy the re-post. A Liturgical Rant: Wearing Underwear Over Outerwear

OK, so this isn't a post dealing with a particularly earth-shaking issue!  Still, it's something that continues to crop up and I get questions about it all the time, so I thought I'd address it.  The issue?  The horrible practice of wearing the deacon stole OVER the dalmatic!

I'm old enough to remember very well the days prior to the Second Vatican Council.  I began serving Mass in 1957 when I was seven years old, and often served two or three Masses a day.  I then spent high school and college in the seminary during and after the Council; liturgically, that's a lot of experience!  I first served as a liturgical Master of Ceremonies when I was 15.  OK, that's some background.

For centuries, the accepted practice for all clerics in the major orders was to wear the amice, alb, cincture, and maniple.  Over these foundational vestments, the subdeacon added the outer vestement of the subdeacon, the tunicle.  Over those same foundational vestments, the deacon added the stole (tied diagonally and held in place by the cincture) and then the outer vestment of the deacon, the dalmatic.  Over those same foundational vestments, the priest added the stole (worn crossed over his chest and held in place by the cincture) and then the outer vestment of the priest, the chasuble.  Notice the pattern?  THE OUTER VESTMENT, by definition, was worn OVER EVERYTHING ELSE!

Catholic clergy didn't adopt the Protestant practice of a "preaching stole" worn over other vestments.

So -- what happened?  Why do priests and now some deacons choose to wear these so-called "overlay" stoles?  How did this liturgical novelty catch on, DESPITE liturgical guidance (read: law) otherwise?

Let's get the legal stuff out of the way.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (the GIRM) has always stated that the dalmatic or chasuble is worn OVER the stole and other foundational vestments.  Period.  So why do some choose to wear their liturgical "underwear" over their liturgical "outerwear"?

I think there are a couple of things at play here.

First -- and this is a good thing -- we have seen a wonderful emphasis on the primary role of the bishop, presbyter and deacon for preaching the Good News.  I get that, and support it.  This led some priests, immediately after the Council, to adopt the common practice of other Christian churches to wear the stole, associated by many of those Churches with the function of preaching, OVER their chasubles.  Vestment makers picked up on this and began to design "overlay" stoles.  Still, it's worth noting that the liturgical law of the Church has NOT changed on this regard: it still tells us to wear the stole UNDER the chasuble/dalmatic.  What's next, wearing the cincture over the chasuble/dalmatic?  How about throwing on an amice over everything?  That would be an interesting look, too!

Second -- for deacons, many of us are still getting used to the dalmatic.  After the Council, most parishes got rid of their old "Mass sets": fiddleback chasubles, dalmatics/stoles, and tunicles.  New liturgical vestment styles were developed, except that in the late 1960s and early 1970s these often didn't include vestments for the deacon, since the permanent diaconate was still in its infancy.  This led to expedient of wearing an alb along with a "priest" stole tied or pinned diagonally.  There were very few dalmatics.  This led to the liturgical innovation of a deacon of the Mass wearing only an alb and a stole: this was NEVER the practice prior to the Council.  So, deacons often associated the stole as the primary sign of their Order of Deacon.  HOWEVER, the actual sign of the deacon is the DALMATIC: that is the vestment unique to the diaconate (and the episcopate).  So, when overlay stoles were developed by the vestment makers, they gradually extended that mistake to the deacon's vestments as well, and some deacons have embraced it because they can wear "their" identifying vestment (mistakenly assumed to be the stole) in plain view over the dalmatic.

During this time of ongoing liturgical renewal, it seems a good time to get back to the basics: Wear the stole UNDER the dalmatic!

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DeaconCast #16.5,

Well, you knew it had to happen sooner or later. I would have to start posting some "short" sessions. Quick reflections and thoughts on something I see in the news, or something that happens to me that I think others might be interested in. This feature will be sporadically regular and will usually wear a "fractional episode marker" just because. Today is the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Hear about the memorial service I was at today.



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This is the last episode in the Understanding the Mass series. Not bad.... "we got'er-done" in 7 episodes. I invite my listeners to give some feedback on this episode or the whole series. I would love to know what to think. Thanks for listening.


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