Pastoral Styling of the Catholic Mass

Since all the interesting changes have come down the line in the Catholic Church since the 1960’s, many of us stiff-necked aka conservative Catholics are always trying to find a Mass where we can enjoy the spirituality of the Mass and sacraments without the entertainment factor. Sad to say, many people remain a Catholic by attending Sunday Mass and living the rest of the week on their own terms. Some priests seem to think that in order to keep these Catholics coming to Church, they have to come down to their level of entertainment value. God is in heaven and we are on earth so I always felt it was up to each of us to reach up to Him and not drag Him down into our human interpretation of what is holy and what keeps our interest.

A good friend of mine has been trying to find a parish with a Mass where she can, well, pray with dignity and reverence. She thought she might have found it this past Sunday. Well, I will let her tell the story here!

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In other news…as happy as we have been back at our “home” parish for the past (almost) 3 years, this morning blew everything right out of the water. Before even praying the Opening Prayer, Father walked to the front of the altar and explained to the congregation that he holds his hands out in the Orans position but he should not be the only one doing it. He said that if we hold our hands closed in front of us, we are closing ourselves off to the Holy Spirit being able to work in our hearts. He insisted that everyone open their arms in the Orans position before praying… My daughter and I did NOT do it and he stared me down several times during Mass because of it. He also “invited” everyone to open their hands in prayer at least 3 other times and both my daughter and I refused…mind you, we sit in the 2nd row with no one in front of us so we were easily seen by all. He tried to make eye contact with me multiple times while our Deacon was looking at me, my face turning red in anger and disgust… I would have loved for him to confront me after Mass but we bolted out the door as soon as humanly possible (the minute they walked past us…and normally, I am there until the final chord of the closing song!).

This was not all… his entire homily was in praise of the Baptist minister who preached at the royal wedding. Then he started to roam around in front of the altar when, all of a sudden, after mentioning the Gospel choir at the wedding, he started singing “This Little Light of Mine” and it went around three times while everyone in the church joined in, hands clapping, music ministry playing guitars and the piano, etc., before ending in people shouting “Amen!” or “Alleluia” or “Praise Jesus!” as if we were at a Baptist revival and not a Catholic Mass. I checked the front of the church to make sure the Tabernacle was still there and It was…so I was more than a little confused!

Every time he talked about “opening hands” in prayer, I wanted to grab my child and run out the door. I held myself there with the help of my Guardian Angel as I kept reminding myself that it is Holy Mass no matter if the priest is wrong and that it is Jesus Who will feed and bless me/us, not this mere mortal who was preaching heresy. I toyed with leaving immediately after receiving Communion but decided that was not the right way to go either so we were going to stick it out until the final blessing. Imagine my disgust when, right after the Deacon sat down after Communion and clearing the altar, Father again started singing “This Little Light of Mine” and, this time, a couple of women near the front stood up while they were clapping which then had everyone around us standing up. We were the last 2 people to stand up in the entire church … but all those around us were clapping, hands waving in the air, singing at the top of their lungs, while Father interjected, “Come, Holy Spirit!” and “Praise You, Jesus” and “Amen, Lord!” and things like that. I could not get out of their fast enough!

Only in videos have I seen more horrifying things happen at Masses…this was the most mind bending, stressful and disgusting display I have ever been a witness to and I am now back at square one of what to do next weekend. I can tell you that my plan to attend a couple of daily Masses there this week went right down the toilet. My mind is still totally confused by what all happened today!

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My friend said she was going to attend the same church next week and see if this was an aberration or if this parish should be put off her list until further notice. She does, however, plan on sitting near the back of the church for a quick escape and search for another parish for Mass if necessary.

Summer is Here!

During a shopping trip, yesterday, I discovered a sale on fresh strawberries. Up until now, strawberries were available (Hey! We live in California, the state of basically one season!)but either forced ripening or early harvesting left them tasteless and sour. The first reason these strawberries got my attention is that I smelled their summer smell before I even found them in the produce section. A dollar a pound for big, red strawberries was too good a deal to pass up and I was getting tired eating last year’s apples being processed through the stores.

Minutes after they were added to my grocery cart, my daughter came along and said, “Mom! Guess what!” I pointed to the strawberries and she was happy I felt the same way she did about the find.

Now, fresh strawberries don’t last too long if not eaten soon after bringing them home. I decided my husband needed his favorite dessert after having had to work on Saturday and at two different work sites in the space of a day.

Being gluten and lactose intolerant, I had long ago devised a recipe that was quick, in line with his dietary needs, and actually tasty. Ingredients? Fresh, cleaned strawberries and two cans of coconut cream. I prefer (in the order stated) Thai Kitchen or Trader Joe’s brand. We avoid sugar as much as possible but have found that Palm Coconut Sugar is easy on the glycemic count and you need very little to provide a touch of sweetness. Freshly-squeezed orange juice, grated zest, a tiny sprinkle of cayenne and some nutmeg work well.

First, half the strawberries are blended with the coconut cream, orange zest to taste, juice of half an orange, 1/2 teaspoon Palm Coconut sugar, a teaspoons of vanilla and the cayenne and nutmeg. The other half of the cleaned strawberries are thinly sliced or roughly chopped, your choice and dosed with juice of half an orange and 1/2 teaspoon of Palm Coconut Sugar. Now, layer them in small, pretty glasses or containers. Let them refrigerate for two or three hours and serve. My husband found it a great way to finish off dinner after a long day of work and fighting traffic.

Carrot Cake

Carrot cake has always been a favorite in my household. When I bake birthday cakes for friends, they have two in the family who prefer carrot cake over all other flavors. There is something about the tender bits of carrot and spices that make one feel healthy and happy indulging . . . Just don’t take into consideration the oil and butter!

Carrot Cake
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
4 tablespoon (1/2 stick butter)
1 cup vegetable oil
5 large eggs
3 cups coarsely shredded, peeled raw carrots
1 large, green apple, peeled, cored and shredded.
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts or pecans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a large bowl combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter; beat with an electric mixer until evenly blended. Beat in the oil until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then beat until thick and light, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and beat just until blended. Stir in the shredded carrots, apple, orange zest, and nuts. The batter will be thick. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until the top springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan. When completely cool, dust with powdered sugar or glaze with lemon icing.

Lemon Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
Enough lemon juice to form a thick paste.

The recipe can be  baked as cupcakes, too, just adjust your baking time.

A Good Reminder – Author Unknown

I was holding a notice from my 13-year old son’s school announcing a meeting to preview the new course in sexuality. Parents could examine the curriculum and take part in an actual lesson presented exactly as it would be given to the students.

When I arrived at the school, I was surprised to discover only about a dozen parents there. As we waited for the presentation, I thumbed through page after page of instructions in the prevention of pregnancy or disease. I found abstinence mentioned only in passing. When the teacher arrived with the school nurse, she asked if there were any questions.

I asked why abstinence did not play a noticeable part in the material. What happened next was shocking. There was a great deal of laughter, and someone suggested that if I thought abstinence had any merit, I should go back to burying my head in the sand. The teacher and nurse said nothing as I drowned in a sea of embarrassment. My mind had gone blank, and I could think of nothing to say. The teacher explained to me that the job of the school was to teach “facts,” and the home was responsible for moral training.

I sat in silence for the next 20 minutes as the course was explained. The other parents seemed to give their unqualified support to the materials. “Donuts at the back,” announced the teacher during the break. “I’d like you to put on the name tags we have prepared – they’re right by the donuts – mingle with the other parents.” Everyone moved to the back of the room. As I watched them affixing their name tags and shaking hands, I sat deep in thought. I was ashamed that I had not been able to convince them to include a serious discussion of abstinence in the materials. I uttered a silent prayer for guidance.

My thoughts were interrupted by the teacher’s hand on my shoulder. “Won’t you join the others, Mr. Layton?” The nurse smiled sweetly at me. “The donuts are good.” “Thank you, no,” I replied. “Well, then how about a name tag? I’m sure the others would like to meet you.” “Somehow I doubt that,” I replied. “Won’t you please join them?” she coaxed. Then I heard a still small voice whisper, “Don’t go.” The instructions were unmistakable. “Don’t go!” “I’ll just wait here,” I said.

When the class was called back to order, the teacher looked around the long table and thanked everyone for putting on name tags. She ignored me. Then she said, “Now we’re going to give you the same lesson we’ll be giving your children. Everyone please peel off your name tags.” I watched in silence as the tags came off. “Now, then, on the back of one of the tags, I drew a tiny flower. Who has it please?” The gentleman across from me held it up. “Here it is!” “All right,” she said. “The flower represents disease. Do you recall with whom you shook hands?” He pointed to a couple of people. “Very good,” she replied. “The handshake in this case represents intimacy. So the two people you had contact with now have the disease.” There was laughter and joking among the parents. The teacher continued, “And whom did the two of you shake hands with?” The point was well taken, and she explained how this lesson would show students how quickly disease is spread. “Since we all shook hands, we all have the disease.”

It was then I head the still, small voice again. “Speak now,” it said, “but be humble.” I noted wryly the latter admonition, then rose from my chair. I apologized for any upset I might have caused earlier, congratulated the teacher on an excellent lesson that would impress the youth, and concluded by saying I had only one small point I wished to make. “Not all of us were infected,” I said. “One of us abstained.”

From the Internet – Discerning Spoiled Food in Your Kitchen

THE GAG TEST – DISCERNING SPOILED FOOD

Anything that make you gag is spoiled, except for leftovers from what you cooked for yourself last night.

Eggs
When something starts pecking its way out of the shell, the egg is probably past its prime.

Daily products
Milk is spoiled when it starts to look like yogurt. Yogurt is spoiled when it starts to look like cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is spoiled when it starts to look like regular cheese. Regular cheese is nothing but spoiled milk anyway and can’t get any more spoiled that it is already . . . unless it’s getting blue and furry, then you’d better back off.

Mayonnaise
If it makes you violently ill after you eat it, the mayonnaise is spoiled.

Frozen foods
Frozen foods that have become an integral part of the defrosting problem in your freezer compartment will probably be spoiled by the time you pry them out with a kitchen knife.

Meat
If opening the refrigerator door causes stray animals from a three-block radius to congregate outside your house, the meat is spoiled.

Potatoes
Fresh potatoes do not have roots, branches, or dense, leafy undergrowth.

Empty containers
Putting empty containers back into the refrigerator is an old trick, but it only works if you have a wife or a maid.

General Rule of Thumb
Most food cannot be kept longer than the average life span of a hamster. Keep a hamster in your refrigerator to gauge this.

Reality Memories From Bygone Homeschooling Days!

When a new school year begins, we all anticipate great things being accomplished with our intellectually willing children. There are many things we would like to hear as we begin our studies but reality sets in all too soon.

1. Time for school! I thought we would take it easy today but several of you little darlings sent me private notes, begging to begin with math instead of art!

This is the third time I have called you to the school table! And you used up your art time yesterday when you crayoned your new math books.

2. Are you sure you wouldn’t like some fresh cookies and milk? It has been two hours since breakfast and you must be hungry. I promise we will still work on Geography afterwards.

No, you can’t have something to eat. You should have thought about hunger when you refused to eat breakfast this morning. Yes, you have to finish Geography and no ad-libbing on the maps today. No undiscovered countries that only you know about!

3. I can’t believe how neatly you set up your insect collections for science. And to think I only assigned this term project yesterday and here you are done already!

Smashed bugs don’t count for your bug collection even if you remember what it was before you squashed it. I don’t care if you weren’t the one who mashed the bug. You shouldn’t have put it in your sister’s bed to begin with!

4. How wonderfully you combined your poster paints to make a copy of one of the great Masterpieces! And you didn’t get a drop of paint on the floor, table or mommy’s art book.

Look, it is a numbered dot-to-dot coloring page. What do you mean you don’t understand the instructions?

5. Sweet child of mine! No wonder you asked for an extra two hours of school yesterday. You were busy composing this wonderful story for English class. Double-spaced and typewritten, no less.

A three-page composition doesn’t count if written in crayon! It was supposed to be on what we did on our summer vacation. And I did not spend it torturing you! But don’t give up on the idea – there is always next year!

by Barbara Barthelette

Liberating Females . . .

Women are now liberated! What good news. We can now invade all the hallowed halls heretofore belonging only to males. We can become anything we want in life, according to the feminists. If it was formerly a man’s domain, then we should show him how much better we can do it. And even if we can’t do it as well, take it away from him anyway. Although I am of the proper gender to take advantage of this invasion, I find myself uneasy and not a little sad. It seems that in the pursuit of feminine superiority, we have lost so much of what it actually means to be female.

The feminine versus the feminist is definitely in the minority. As we struggle to be all we can be, we watch the liberated women be all that they want to be with the blessings of the world at large and the church in particular. I never paid much attention to the whole matter until it invaded the Church. The dignity of the sanctuary has been jeopardized by pant suits, miniskirts and perfumed grandmothers. The solace we should be able to find in our churches is undermined by the feminist agenda.

There is a small aspect of this revolution, and I know I am in the minority here, that defies reason, dignity for the most part and promise. And until I had a son serving Mass, I didn’t think about it much one way or the other. I now see altar girls as a potential threat to future, priestly vocations. And I feel sorry for the girls who feel they need to take part in a masculine role and try to make it their own. The influx of girls has cost many boys their rightful place in serving on the altar. In our efforts to be fair to females, boys may be turned from vocations that would be the building of our church’s future. And I don’t believe the retort that girls who serve Mass may go on to be nuns. Of course, some of these girls may find a vocation in religious life. Serving Mass, however is not a step towards the convent while it can be part of the path way to the priesthood.

There is a bonding that can occur between a pastor and his flock of altar boys. This can’t occur easily when females are involved. There are also many moments when the altar servers are alone in the sacristy, helping to prepare for Mass. Placing adolescent boys and girls in close proximity is asking for trouble. As reverent as servers can be on the altar, they are still children.

And the alb or cassock and surplice has traditionally been male attire. Putting a young girl into male clothing doesn’t bring dignity to either the Mass or the young lady wishing to serve. My son was in a CCD class the day it was announced that girls could become servers. The reaction of the girls in his class was to stand up and exclaim girl power! There wasn’t a lot of Christianity or religious feeling evidenced by the girls.

I was raised back in the olden days! I never found myself envying the altar boys at Mass. The nuns of that era said the boys have the future potential to become priests. Serving Mass lets them experience that possibility to an extent. Girls should happily emulate our Blessed Mother. As much as I have searched in the Bible, I have yet to find an instance where Mary tried to overstep her son or His apostles. She was a nurturer and a keeper of the hearth. She was the Mother of God and accepted her role with love and dignity. When the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles, Mary shared in those graces. The Apostles went out to preach and Mary channeled her blessings into being a true woman.

I am not sure what women are finding as they crowd around the altar. And I feel sorry for little girls competing with boys on the altar. And I shed tears for the young boys who leave the altar rather than compete. Who will accept responsibility when their path from the altar takes them away from God’s plans for them and, perhaps, even the Church?

Barbara M. Barthelette