Monday, December 29, 2014

A Glorious and Erudite Chronicle of the History of the Sodality of Garcia Diego: Year 2

Composed by scovich.
Last year, I wrote a narrative of the Sodality’s beginnings. In this past year, all of the core members of the Sodality have prospered. Some have moved away, while others have joined. Many truly transformational events have happened to some of us, including discernment of vocations. Some of this will not be revealed because of varying levels of comfort with sharing personal information. However, I will attempt to chronicle some of the great moments of the Sodality this year.

Sodalitiers celebrate the ratification & signing of the Charter at La Morada
In last year’s post, I had stated that we were working on recruiting women to the group and had met with some success. TMR joined in time to be involved in the charter and become blog editor. Liz, a core member of previous young adult groups that preceded the Sodality, moved back to Santa Barbara this summer and is now part of our sodality leadership. With these and several other women added to the group (along with more men), we are achieving our original sodality goal for men and women to meet together in virtue and love. The Mission Men’s Group, which brought some of us together, continued through the spring and returned in November.

Sodality Masses & Devotions. Almost every month from January to June, we had Sodality masses celebrated by our chaplain, Father Andrew Garcia SJ, from Our Lady of Sorrows Church, who regrettably moved away in July after the Jesuits left Our Lady of Sorrows. Sometimes we had dinner and drinks afterward at Harry’s. On Sunday afternoons, we also began a tradition of attending Benediction at the Monastery of Poor Clares at 4 PM. Most of us cannot make it every week, but almost every week at least one or two sodalitiers has been there; sometimes, when there are several of us gathered together in His name, we go for a walk afterward (Editor's note: the record distance for such an afternoon stroll is 5.7 miles).

Wedding. 2014 began with the wedding of Anthony and Nikki, including a beautiful Tridentine Latin Mass and a highly enjoyable reception. All of the core sodality members (including TMR and Liz) were in attendance. Soon after, Anthony and Nikki moved away from the area. I had just found out that this was going to happen before I wrote last year’s Chronicle post, but did not think it should yet be revealed publicly.

Bible Study. Also in January, many of us became involved in a Bible Study with a St Mark’s FOCUS missionary and other UCSB graduate students. After launching with a survey of salvation history, we have plumbed greater depths in our studies and inimitable discussion of the beginning of Proverbs, the entire books of James and 1 Peter, Advent-themed readings (mostly Isaiah and the infancy narratives in Luke). Next year, we will begin reading the Apocalypse of John, also known as the Book of Revelation.

Valentinian Festival: Sodality Organization and Farewell to the Royal Couple. In February, we held two gatherings, on consecutive nights. One was an elegant dinner party hosted by Sean, in which we invited TMR to become a leader within our group and editrix of this blog. Sean, Matt, Michael, TMR and I (G-5) also examined and revised our draft of our Charter. The following night we had a dinner party at Anthony’s parents’ house, to say farewell to our royal couple. Sitting around the campfire, we expressed thanksgiving for our friendship and the great adventures to come.

Lent and Easter. We prayed the Stations of the Cross together in the garden near the Mission. One of the next great events of our group was a pilgrimage to seven Santa Barbara churches on Holy Thursday. Various combinations of our group attended the Tridentine Latin Mass at Mary Magdalen Chapel in Camarillo on one Sunday in Lent, on Palm Sunday, on Easter Sunday, and other later occasions throughout the year. The Paschal season was a glorious one indeed, alleluia.

We also observed the Rogation days. We dined and prayed together (and attended the Bach by Candlelight concert) and continued editing the Charter. On behalf of the sodality, at least two members prayed the Litany of the Saints each of the Rogation days.

Charter. The much discussed and long awaited draft of the Charter was completed in June and presented with pomp and circumstance to Anthony on his birthday before a dinner party at his parents’ house when he and Nikki were visiting. Sodality members signed and ratified the charter after a Sodality Mass as we were saying goodbye to Father Andrew.

October Devotions. On October 3rd, we celebrated Michael’s birthday and attended the Transitus service at Poor Clares. On October 7th, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, we gathered at Goleta Beach to pray a rosary together.

The Liturgical Year Ends: The Second Return of the Royal Couple. Anthony and Nikki returned again for Thanksgiving. Nearly all Sodality members attended Sean’s birthday party at Harry’s and the Mozart by Candlelight concert afterward.

Looking Forward. Our goals for next year include resuming Sodality masses, recruiting new members, continuing the blog, continuing our enjoyable and edifying socializing, growing in prayer and holiness, and each discerning our own vocations.

Blessings for the Christmas season!

Editor's note: please send any photos you have of Sodality events through the year, so we can include them here. I will also attend to the lost images on earlier posts. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

St. Barbara, pray for us.

Today, December 4th, we celebrated the patroness of our city, county, and university, Saint Barbara. Old Mission Santa Barbara was founded on this date in 1786.

We are delighted, privileged, and honored to exclusively feature Michael Aberle's painting of this holy martyr. Michael's painting includes not only her iconic tower but also the familiar Santa Barbara coastline.

Barbara the beautiful
Had praise of lute and pen:
Her hair was like a summer night
Dark and desired of men.

Her feet like birds from far away
That linger and light in doubt;
And her face was like a window
Where a man’s first love looked out.
Her sire was master of many slaves
A hard man of his hands;
They built a tower about her
In the desolate golden lands,
Sealed as the tyrants sealed their tombs,
Planned with an ancient plan,
And set two windows in the tower
Like the two eyes of a man.
--excerpt from G. K. Chesterton's "The Ballad of St. Barbara"
To read more click here.

Chesterton's poem relates the story of Barbara's adding a third window to her tower as a proclamation of her belief in the Holy Trinity, but he embeds this in lively verse narrative of twentieth-century warfare, because Barbara is the patron saint of field artillerymen.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy New (Liturgical) Year

by scovich
Today begins the new Liturgical Year! This commences a series of posts in which we hope to do what little we can to guide ourselves and our readers through the season of Advent, which lasts from now until Christmas. Remember that this is a season of Penance, almost like a miniature Lent. The dark tones of the ancient Advent hymn “O Come O Come Emanuel”, commonly sung in many parishes, are a reminder of this.

As readers of this blog know, we have a particular devotion to the concept of the Liturgical Year. In the past few weeks, in the close of the liturgical year, the Church asks us to contemplate apocalyptic topics, in the Mass readings and in devotional practices. In the beginning of the liturgical year, readings in both the traditional and modern calendars become less apocalyptic, but exhort us to wait patiently on the Lord.

Wake up!
The theme, especially in this first Sunday of Advent, is awakening. We are asked to begin the new year by staying awake, not only to await our eternal salvation and to prepare to celebrate the Lord’s birth at Christmas, but also to receive the wisdom to do all that God asks of us. This is a good time to renew giving to charity, examine ways in which we are not following God assiduously, to read scripture, and to contemplate vocation.

In our last post, for All Saints Day, we discussed the concepts of the Church as containing the past, present and future. Again, in Advent, we contemplate the three comings of Christ:
- first, in the historical past, encompassing the time from His incarnation and birth in Bethlehem through His passion, death, to His resurrection;
- second, in our own present time, His coming to each of us who receive him (as in John 1:12-13), as we follow Him and work out our salvation through His grace;
- third, in the future, His coming "in power and majesty" at the end of the world.

Editor's Note:
St Andrew Christmas prayer begins today. I've not kept up with this, but I know others who do--it's a short prayer repeated (15x) daily Nov 30th until Christmas.

What devotional practices will you choose this Advent? When I was a child, my parents helped me write a letter to Baby Jesus every Sunday. I rolled up the letter, tied a purple ribbon and put it in His stocking, as His birthday gifts. I will (probably) not take a whole page to write out something like "Dear Baby Jesus, I made my bed today and I did what Mom said. Happy birthday"--but the sentiment is still there.

This year, I know some of us will be reading and discussing Scriptural passages--mostly chosen from the lectionary and office of readings--from Isaias and other prophets as well the early chapters of Matthew's and Luke's Gospels. Some will pray a daily Rosary or the Angelus. Some might choose another prayer or practice for the month of December or for the nine days leading up to Christmas.

As in Lent, some might take this special time to focus more on particular works of charity, or of establishing a habit of spiritual reading or meditation, or of cultivating a particular virtue opposed to some habitual vice.

What special intention might you have during Advent? I'll follow up this week with another post about the coming of Christ in our hearts this Christmas and some of my reflections and intentions this time around. (Keywords/spoiler: children, education) If you would, please share your intentions & practices in the comment threads.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

All Saints, All Souls--All to Our Edification.

November 1 is the Feast Day of All Saints and November 2 is the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (All Souls' Day). We wish to revive observances of these holy days on the Church calendar, especially over and above the much abused custom of All Hallows Eve (Halloween).

Complicating matters this year, these two great feasts fall on a Saturday and a Sunday. All Saints' Day is a holy day of obligation, though that obligation was commuted this year. Of course, many parishes do still have Mass for the feast and today, in a special way, many faithful Catholics venerate all the saints--named and unnamed.

Novus Ordo Masses for All Souls Day will be on Sunday, November 2nd. However, Catholics celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine Latin Mass) will not be observing All Souls Day in the Sunday Mass. In the 1962 Missal, the Mass of the Sunday takes precedence, and the All Souls' Masses (three of them!) are moved to Monday, November 3rd, as explained here.

We in the Sodality often think of the Communion of Saints as a large social network. The Communion of Saints includes not only those canonized by the Church, but also other souls who are in heaven--all of these, even if we don't know their names or give them their own memorial, are part of the great Church Triumphant.
You can listen to the common Litany of the saints here
And this Communion chant for All Saints’ Day Mass here

In fact, these two holy days together bring to mind all states of the Church: the Church Triumphant (those souls in heaven), the Church Suffering (in purgatory) and the connection both of these have with the Church Militant (those of us still working out our salvation on earth). Those designations are explained here. This weekend, let us call to mind the "cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12:1) and be ever more faithful to Christ and His Church.

All Souls' Day brings our attention to those Holy Souls who are in Purgatory, being purified before they enter heaven (these are the Church Suffering). We faithful on Earth, the Church Militant, besides asking for the intercession of the saints in heaven, ought to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory to aid their journey. It cannot be known for certain where any uncanonized individual is in the afterlife, but we may pray for all as an act of goodwill and charity. Remember, it is one of the chief spiritual works of mercy to pray for the living and the dead.

 Here is a video of a Latin All Souls Day Requiem Mass. Observe the black vestments, the  catafalque covered in black, and the prayers for the dead as at a traditional Requiem Mass. Some of us in the Sodality are especially attached to the text of the sequence Dies Irae and Mozart's incomparable setting of the Requiem Mass.

Throughout the month of November, as we end the liturgical year, we as Catholics are especially attentive to mourning the dead and to remembering our own end. Between now and Advent, readings in both the Traditional and Novus Ordo Masses move toward apocalyptic topics, as we acknowledge that at some time, Christ will return to end Satan’s power once and for all. In the Novus Ordo calendar, the end of the liturgical year will culminate with the Feast of Christ the King on November 23 (this feast is celebrated on the last Sunday in October in the traditional calendar, close to All Saints' Day rather than close to Advent).

Editor's note: this post was composed (well in advance!) by scovich. Due to largely unforeseen editorial delay, it is posted later than expected.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Garcia Diego

[by scovich]

As noted in our About page, Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno, a Franciscan priest, was the Bishop of the Diocese of the Two Californias (1840-1846) during a time when many of the missions and church lands had been transferred to secular authorities. He died shortly before the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), which transferred all of California from Mexico to the United States. From 1842, Garcia Diego lived in Santa Barbara and regularly offered Mass at Mission Santa Barbara, where he is now buried.

We interviewed Michael Aberle about his depiction of this bishop painted specifically for our Sodality of Garcia Diego and so prominently featured on this website. Michael’s painting is based on a surviving photograph and painting. Michael’s portrait is painted with acrylics in a style inspired by el Greco. Garcia Diego stands in the sunshine looking out with the Mission plaza behind him. His hand is raised in benediction. He wears his pectoral cross and episcopal ring.

Michael painted the face last. The Bishop appears to have a stern expression. We have often wondered what the Bishop was really like, and whether he would approve of our current efforts. Perhaps beneath this holy sternness lay a pastor of gentleness.

The Bishop wears a blue cape and cassock, rather than the grey or brown typically associated with Franciscans. Michael states that blue was a significant color for devotees to the Immaculate Conception, even before the official definition of that dogma in 1854. Perhaps Garcia Diego was one of these; certainly he was devoted to Mary, and he chose Our Lady Refuge of Sinners as patroness of California (see our previous post on that subject).

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October Devotions and Feast Days

[by TMR and scovich]

As we enter the autumnal season and the last months of Ordinary Time, we observe a particularly fruitful period in the sanctoral cycle (the calendar of saints' days). You can find the October Saints Calendar here; please note especially the first week.

Month of the Holy Rosary

We encourage Sodality members to pray the rosary faithfully especially during October, the month of the Holy Rosary, especially on the feast day, October 7th. The Roman Catholic calendar observed this feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (or Our Lady of Victory) after a decisive victory at Lepanto in 1571,  although such a feast had been observed by the Dominican order earlier.

Here is a prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary, which reminds us how prayer ought to transform our daily lives. You might also be interested in joining the Rosary Confraternity. After the Rosary, there is also an October devotion to St. Joseph dating only from the 1880s, and associated with this prayer.

We began our series of notable and proximate feast days this week with  Michelmas, the Feast of St Michael the Archangel, on September 29. This holy day was once much more prominent than it is now, especially in England. You can read about its history and customs here.

St Michael is featured in scripture and literature as a warrior for God, protector of humanity, and instrumental in Satan's defeats both at the Creation and the Apocalypse. In the late 1800s, after a disturbing vision, Pope Leo XIII wrote a Prayer to St Michael, which is often recited by devout Catholics. You can read about it and find several versions here

Here is one translation:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
St Jerome

The following day was the feast day of St Jerome, September 30. Jerome, roughly a contemporary of St Augustine, was the translator of the Latin Vulgate bible, scriptural commentator and passionate advocate of religious discipline. He was venerated as one of the four original Doctors of the Church.

Read about St Jerome and Lectio Divina from a Benedictine blog here

St Therese of Lisieux
St Therese of Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower or Therese of the Child Jesus (January 2, 1873-September 30, 1897), is also a Doctor of the Church. Her feast day is on October 1 (previously October 3). Therese, a Carmelite nun, had a deep faith from childhood. In her struggles with illness, she grew even closer devotion to God. She is best known for her autobiography and her "Little Way" of spiritual progress. The Society of the Little Flower is devoted to St Therese and offers this prayer:

O Little Therese of the Child Jesus,
please pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens
and send it to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
ask God to grant the favors I now place
with confidence in your hands .
(Mention specific requests)
St. Therese, help me to always believe
as you did in God's great love for me,
so that I might imitate your "Little Way" each day.
Guardian Angels
Today, October 2, is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. The concept of guardian angels is often not well understood, but the Church does teach that God has sent angels to watch over humans. You can find prayers to Guardian Angels here

Here is the Latin version of a familiar childhood prayer to the guardian angel.
Ángele Dei, qui custos es mei, me tibi commissum pietáte supérna, hodie illúmina, custódi, rege et gubérna. Amen.
St. Francis of Assisi
Finally, we come to the Feast of Saint Francis on October 4. St Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) is the subject of much writing and public attention, and needs no simple introduction here. Francis was a man who loved nature and had many qualities of gentleness, but demanded much sacrifice from those who wished to follow his rule. Francis heard a call from Christ to rebuild the Church, a call which he first interpreted literally by restoring a church building (San Damiano). By his example, prayers, and preaching, St. Francis helped the faithful to follow Christ more closely, especially in Holy Poverty, simplicity, and charity for the poor. His zeal for the salvation of souls led him to embrace outcasts, even lepers, and to speak of the peace of Christ even to non-Christians, through his meeting with the Muslim Sultan. Like Therese, Saint Francis suffered a severe illness for years before his death. His most well-known prayer universally acknowledged to be created by him, is the Canticle of the Sun which ends with a mention of "Sister Death." Franciscans traditionally observe Francis's date of death, October 3, the vigil of his feast day, which is known as the Transitus.

We who live here ought to be particularly grateful to St. Francis and his spiritual sons (and daughters) who have been so important historically, at Santa Barbara Mission as in so many other locations, and who continue their good work here today. A few Sodality members are devoted to St Dominic, a contemporary of St. Francis; both men, of course, founded mendicant orders of religious about the same time. Both orders flourished, by the grace of God, and at times there is some feeling of rivalry; in a longstanding tradition of good will, however, Franciscans and Dominicans have a tradition of celebrating each others' greatest feast days with joy, prayer, and sometimes visiting.

We plan to celebrate the birthday of our Sodality member Michael Aberle on October 3. His name day, of course, was also this week.

This period of the liturgical year appears to be a time of renewed prayer; to saints whose struggles provide a model for our own living, to the angels who are forever fighting demons to protect us, and to our Blessed Mother through the Holy Rosary.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Two SGD Leaders Meet with Coptic Patriarch; Sodality Member Moves to Rome; Bible Study Looking for New Members

authored by scovich; photograph from Michael

Sodalitiers Among the Coptics
Last Sunday, September 21, Skylar and Michael attended Mass at Saint Mary Coptic Catholic Church in Glendale, Los Angeles.

Most Egyptian Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which broke away from the Catholic Church after the Council of Chalcedon in the fifth century. However, after a brief reunion in the fifteenth century amidst the Ottoman conquest and a subsequent period of Franciscan and Jesuit missionary activity, some Coptics became Catholic in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century, a patriarchate of Alexandria in communion with Rome was restored.

The current Catholic patriarch of Alexandria, Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, took office in 2013. Ibrahim is not yet a Cardinal, but the previous Coptic patriarch is. Ibrahim is visiting the United States, to participate in meetings about the protection of Christians in the Middle East, and to visit the Coptic Catholic churches here.

On the day Michael and Skylar attended Mass, Patriarch Ibrahim was visiting. He was able to celebrate with the children of the church, many of whom had their First Communion. We were able to meet with the patriarch, give him a Sodality holy card, and have our picture taken with him. We found the community to be very kind and welcoming. The Patriarch was very supportive of our efforts, and stated “we are truly united in prayer.”

The Coptic Catholic Church has adopted some customs of the Roman Rite, including the calendar of readings established after Vatican II. Coptic Catholics also have significant Catholic devotions such as the Rosary and the Sacred Heart. However, the Coptic Catholic Church celebrates Mass in ancient liturgies of the Alexandrian Rite which differ significantly from the Roman Rite. We attended Mass in the Liturgy of St Basil, in a version which combined Arabic, Coptic, Greek and English. The majority was in Arabic, including the use of the term Allah for God. Many of the chants were in Coptic, while the Kyrie, sung in Greek in an unusually fast and repetitive meter, was the most familiar part to us.
The chants were sung with percussion accompaniment, with musical settings that had much eastern influence.
You can watch the Liturgy of St Basil in English here. (However, it appears that this service is Coptic Orthodox, not Catholic.)

We had each previously attended Mass in the Byzantine Rite. The Coptic Mass differed even more significantly from Roman, so this way of worshiping was new to us. However, we found it quite spiritually uplifting, especially the translations of the prayers, which are arguably more elaborate and detailed even than the Tridentine Latin Mass.
Communion is taken on the tongue, with the bread dipped in wine as is done in the Byzantine Rite, but without a spoon.

Sodalitier in Rome
Meanwhile, one of our Sodality members is likely to attend an audience with Pope Francis, and would be able to do so while traveling only a few miles. Juliana had been a close friend of Matt and Skylar through other Catholic groups for several years, and attended some of our Sodality gatherings. She has now moved to Rome, and you can follow her adventures on her blog

Sodalitiers in Isla Vista
Finally, we will end this long post with some discussion of another important part of our Sodality which we have not yet mentioned on the blog. Since February, most of the leadership of the Sodality (Skylar, TMR, Matt, Michael, and more recently Liz), along with several others, have attended a Bible study which was started by one of the missionaries from FOCUS, the ministry which is resident at St Mark’s Parish in Isla Vista. From February until May we studied the concept of salvation history, focusing largely on Genesis. Throughout the summer we studied from the Book of Proverbs, and we are now studying the Book of James.
Some people have been surprised by our wide-ranging and often uproarious intellectual discussions, comparison of different Bible translations, and unique ways of relating the Bible to life in general. The Bible study usually meets Mondays at 8 PM.
For more information, you can find us on Facebook in the group IV Graduate Bible Study, or email

Next week we are planning to post in honor of the feasts of St Francis and St Therese. Following that we will post another interview with Michael about Bishop Garcia Diego and his painting of that subject, as promised.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sodality Updates, Mission Art, Refuge of Sinners Painting, and Church Calendar Notes

TMR has tasked me, Skylar, with putting together a blog entry. During this summer, we sodalitiers have continued to socialize frequently, though the blog is less active than during the school year. This summer we said goodbye to our chaplain, Father Andrew Garcia S.J. We will continue to have Sodality Masses with other priests who kindly support us. We now have many planned activities for the rest of the Ordinary Time and beyond.

We would like to welcome another companion to our sodality leadership. Liz was a part of previous Catholic groups which Matt and I had belonged to before she and many of our other close friends moved away. She even knew our intrepid editor, TMR, before most of us did. She has now returned to Santa Barbara, and we are delighted to include her in the governance of the Sodality: we are now the G6 instead of the G5.

Coverage of Local Catholic Art Begins Now
We commence a planned series of posts about local history and mission art. Michael Aberle has contributed to the solidarity of our group in many ways, particularly through his artistic talents. In an exclusive interview for this blog, he imparted some of his vast knowledge of local history and spoke of his own artistic process.
Michael is passionate about mission art and has produced paintings himself in that tradition. Some of this art is in the broader tradition of the santeros; artists throughout the southwestern United States during the (late) Spanish colonial period. Michael points out that this Spanish and Mexican colonial style of art is marked by simplicity and sincerity, which he finds very meaningful spiritually. He contrasts this style with the richness of Baroque art. Some of this mission art was painted on tin. Sacred art for the Catholics living in such contexts was particularly important for private devotion because access to the Mass and sacraments was sometimes quite limited. Some of the faithful lived at a distance from any of the missions; furthermore, in the 1830s most of the missions reverted to secular control (with the important exception of Santa Barbara).

Our Lady Refuge of Sinners
The first of Michael’s two paintings for the Sodality depicts Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners (Refugio de los pecadores), the patroness of our group. Michael discusses the importance of this title of Our Lady for the early inhabitants of Santa Barbara: Bishop Garcia Diego not only named her the patroness of California, he reinforced that title locally. The first educational institution of Santa Barbara, founded by Garcia Diego in the early 1840s, was the Refuge of Sinners School, which lasted until 1881.

There are many paintings of Our Lady Refuge of Sinners dating from the 1800s, indicating that she was a popular subject of painting. In Michael’s rendering, consistent with these earlier versions, Mary is holding the child Jesus and looking off into the distance. Mary’s act of mothering helps us see how she is a refuge for all of us, who need her intercession and guidance. The baby Jesus appears to be standing on a cloud. They both wear crowns; Mary wears pearl necklaces and earrings. In an upcoming post, we will discuss Michael’s newly completed painting of Bishop Garcia Diego.

Finally, note that tomorrow is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Three of the G6 are planning to go together to Latin Mass in Camarillo.
Next week, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are traditionally noted as Ember Days, days of penance occurring four times a year.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Join the Our Lady of Sorrows Choir!

Think about joining the Our Lady of Sorrows 9:30am Parish Choir. We are a great group of people who come together to aid the congregation in worshiping God through glorious song/chant. All are welcome to join, as long as you have a modest voice, good attitude, and are willing to come to practice and learn. Claiming that you can't sing is no excuse. That was my excuse over two years ago. Was I wrong! Through coming to practice, and following along with others, I was able to reach my vocal potential and learn a lot about music. Besides...a high ceiling covereth a multitude of sins! Our dear choir is only half as large as it should be (considering the size of the church). We are in need of all voices, but especially tenors and basses. Practice resumes Thursday, September 7th, at 7:00pm in the choir room. Give it a try Sodality! Then you will be able to sing/chant better when we start our monthly Holy Mass again. God Bless, -Sean

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Open Thread for Ordinary Time

[coauthored by TMR and scovich]

We enjoyed the celebration and procession for Corpus Christi (see last post), and we are celebrating the Feast of the Sacred Heart with the Sodality Mass and dinner. We are now well into the season known as Ordinary Time, which began at Pentecost and extends for more than five months until the completion of another liturgical year; the church calendar begins anew in Advent.

Many of us take great joy in the special seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Paschaltide, yet there is much also in Ordinary Time to contemplate and celebrate, including important saints' days and feasts, which we will highlight on this blog. This Sunday, for instance, is the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, who are, of course, dearly beloved in the Roman Catholic Church.
throughout the long stretch of Ordinary Time, let us encourage each other to maintain our devotional practices and spiritual exercises  . This thread is open for any comments regarding suggested readings (Scripture or Catholic books), interesting Catholic news, or suggestions for this blog.

Additionally, expect to see an important document regarding the formalization of the Sodality appearing on this site quite soon.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Feast of Corpus Christi

[coauthored by TMR and scovich]

Last Thursday was the Feast of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ), although in most dioceses, the observance of this great Feast of the Blessed Sacrament is transferred to this Sunday. Pope Urban IV created this feast in 1264,  now 750 years ago. Traditionally, this feast has been celebrated in Catholic lands with great jubilation, processions, and public veneration of the Sacrament. Some of us will, in fact, attend a Corpus Christi procession after Mass on Sunday.
Read more here about the institution of this feast, the vision of St. Juliana, and the relevant efforts of St. Thomas Aquinas in theology, composition, and verse.

Why is this feast placed as it is in the second week after Pentecost? One might argue that the beginning weeks of Ordinary Time, following the high observances of Paschaltide and Pentecost are an appropriate time to revive habits of contemplation and gratitude for the Holy Eucharist. Such devotion is central to our Sodality. We do attend Eucharistic adoration throughout the year. Now we ought to deepen our intellectual, spiritual, and affective appreciation for this infinitely generous gift of our Blessed Lord.

Returning to our beloved St. Thomas Aquinas, please listen attentively to his Eucharistic hymn "Pange Lingua Gloriosi" found here. The last two stanzas might be more familiar to the faithful, since they are sung at Benediction ("Tantum Ergo").

"Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem" is the Sequence for the Feast of Corpus Christi. St. Thomas also composed these sublime verses as well as the Mass propers for this Feast. By special request, we are linking here to the setting by the eminent  Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria. The erudite Msgr. Ronald Knox (1888-1957) translated this Sequence, keeping true to Aquinas's theological veracity and literary qualities, retaining some of Aquinas's metrical elements in his exquisite translation. Since the Editor of this blog is especially fond of Msgr. Knox's work, his translation is quoted in full below (as it was printed in the Fulton J. Sheen Sunday Missal, 1961, by permission of Knox's literary executor, Evelyn Waugh).

Sing forth, O Sion, sweetly sing
The praises of thy Shepherd-King
In hymns and canticles divine.
Dare all thou canst, thou hast no song
Worthy his praises to prolong,
So far surpassing powers like thine.

Today no theme of common praise
Forms the sweet burden of thy lays—
The living, life-dispensing food—
That food which at the sacred board
Unto the brethren twelve Our Lord
His parting legacy bestowed.

Then be the anthem clear and strong,
Thy fullest note, thy sweetest song,
The very music of the breast:
For now shines forth the day sublime
That brings remembrance of the time
When Jesus first his table blessed.

Within our new King’s banquet-hall
They meet to keep the festival
That closed the ancient paschal rite:
The old is by the new replaced;
The substance hath the shadow chased;
And rising day dispels the night.

Christ willed what he himself had done
Should be renewed while time should run,
In memory of his parting hour:
Thus, tutored in his school divine,
We consecrate the bread and wine;
And lo—a Host of saving power.

This faith to Christian men is given—
Bread is made flesh by words from heaven;
Into his blood the wine is turned:
What though it baffles nature’s powers
Of sense and sight? This faith of ours
Proves more than nature e’er discerned.

Concealed beneath the twofold sign,
Meet symbols of the gifts divine,
There lie the mysteries adored;
The living body is our food;
Our drink the ever-precious blood;
In each, one undivided Lord.

Not he that eateth it divides
The sacred food, which whole abides
Unbroken still, nor knows decay;
Be one, or be a thousand fed,
They eat alike that living bread
Which, still received, ne’er wastes away.

The good, the guilty share therein,
With sure increase of grace or sin,
The ghostly life, or ghostly death:
Death to the guilty; to the good
Immortal food. See how one food
Man’s joy or woe accomplisheth.

We break the Sacrament, but bold
And firm thy faith shall keep its hold:
Deem not the whole doth more enfold
Than in the fractured part resides.
Deem not that Christ doth broken lie;
‘Tis but the sight that meets the eye;
The hidden deep reality
In all its fullness still abides.

Behold the bread of angels sent
For pilgrims in their banishment,
The bread for God’s true children meant,
That may not unto dogs be given;
Oft in the olden types foreshadowed;
In Isaac on the altar bowed,
And in the ancient paschal food
And in the manna sent from heaven.

Come then, good Shepherd, bread divine,
Still show to us thy mercy sign;
Oh, feed us still, still keep us thine;
So we may see thy glories shine
In fields of immortality.

O thou, the wisest, mightiest, best,
Our present food, our future rest,
Come make us each thy chosen guest,
Co-heirs of thine and comrades blest,
With saints whose dwelling is with thee.

Amen. Alleluia.

To close our Eucharistic theme, we leave you with a gratuitous recording of Mozart's setting of the 14th-century hymn "Ave Verum Corpus."

Friday, May 30, 2014

Novena for Pentecost

REMINDER: today starts the novena for Pentecost. During these nine days, we join with Mary and the Apostles to wait and pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. I hope to add a longer reflection soon, but for now a link to the traditional novena prayers will suffice. These are available in devotional books and on several sites; this page also has the convenient feature of a daily email alert. Sign up tonight to receive the "correct" daily reminders to end the novena on Pentecost Sunday.
Pentecost mosaic from the Rosary Basilica in Lourdes. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Since I neglected to post on Ascension Thursday, I'll link also to someone else's meditations and questions on this mystery. (Scroll down to find quotes from several saints and blesseds.)

This always feels like a strange, still time of the Liturgical Year to me. I'm thinking now about the quotes from St. John Chrysostom and others from the link above, but still the Feast of the Ascension somehow eludes me. Do I take for granted the wonder and mystery of Christ's ascension to His heavenly glory? Why does this feast feel like such a let-down from Easter? The Paschal Candle (representing the Risen Christ) is put out and out of sight. The angels speak to the apostles who, a moment ago were still asking about the restoration of an earthly kingdom--"why stand you looking up to heaven?" (Acts 1:11). Christ goes to send the Paraclete, to prepare a place for us, and to enter into His glory. I pray I can understand and love this feast better than I have done.

In living anew these mysteries each liturgical year, we do confront not only Christ's glory and triumph, His teaching and His love for His followers, but also the disciples' limited understanding, their feelings at the loss of Christ's physical presence on earth, their pondering His words during the mental and spiritual trial of waiting. During this time, we imitate, through our novena, the Eleven who were reunited in that upper room "persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus and with His brethren" (Acts 1:14). How hard they must have prayed! How sacred was their waiting! How important was this time to ready them for all the missionary action of the rest of their lives!

(Taking this perhaps rather too personally: I suspect that part of the reason this is not my favorite part of the liturgical year is that this is one time when I particularly can't avoid admitting what I don't know, or rather that I don't know what I don't know. And my path is not clear; I am not in control; I must be still, pray, and wait for the grace of the Holy Spirit. Oh, and when that comes, I ought to respond fully--acting upon that grace. My pride gets in the way. It doesn't like all that. Mea culpa. Pray for me.)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

"May Magnificat"

Just a brief reminder that the month of May is specially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Stephan Lochner, Madonna in the Rose Bower (1448)
Please spend some time this month thinking about our Lady, honoring her by praying her "Magnificat," her Rosary, or another devotion, such as the Regina Coeli (which replaces the Angelus during Eastertide). I'll revisit this topic in another post later in the month, but for now I'll defer to Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. (1844-89). He poses some timely questions and answers far better than I could:
May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
    Her feasts follow reason,
    Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
    Why fasten that upon her,
    With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
    Is it opportunest
    And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
    Question: What is Spring?—
    Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
    Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
    Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
    And bird and blossom swell
    In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
    With that world of good,
    Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
    How she did in her stored
    Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
    Much, had much to say
    To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
    And thicket and thorp are merry
    With silver-surfèd cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
    And magic cuckoocall
    Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
    To remember and exultation
    In God who was her salvation.

St. Joseph the Worker

Apologies for neglecting to post on St. Joseph's Day (March 19th). This is my chance to make up for it: 
Today we commemorate the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary again, under the title St. Joseph the Worker (Latin, "opifex")[1]. The prayers in the Mass ask for his intercession, of course, and particularly for blessings on our own work: "And let the brightness of the Lord our God be upon us: and direct thou the works of our hands over us: yea, the work of our hands do thou direct." (Psalm 89:17 DRV) The epistle reading is from the third chapter of Paul's Letter to the Colossians, including verse 17: "Whatever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
O God, the author of all things, Thou hast established the law of labor for all mankind: grant, we beseech Thee, that, by the example and intercession of Saint Joseph, we may accomplish the works Thou commandest and gain the rewards Thou hast promised. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit world without end. Amen.
We consider the way in which good St. Joseph approached his daily work as a carpenter, providing for Jesus and Mary; we look to him as a model and patron, asking him to obtain for us the graces to approach our work in the right way for the glory of God and for our own salvation. This prayer, composed by St. Pius X, elaborates further:
Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in a spirit of penance for the remission of my many sins; to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations; to work with gratitude and joy, considering it an honor to employ and develop, by means of labor, the gifts received from God; to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, without ever recoiling before weariness and difficulties; to work, above all, with purity of intention, and with detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after your example, O Patriarch St. Joseph. Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death. Amen.
Every time I read or recite this prayer I am struck by the unified force of such a brief treatise on labor and I also notice something new about how I should grow in practicing (at least!) one of the five aspects mentioned.

While we are on this general topic[2], I might as well mention three other classic favorites for "offering up" our work to God in this way:
  • The "Morning Offering," such as this from the Apostleship of Prayer
  • the "Suscipe" of St. Ignatius of Loyola
  • and the "Concede mihi" of St. Thomas Aquinas for ordering one's life well
You probably know them already, but that won't stop me from mentioning them again--most likely because I need to remind myself. Please pray for me.

God bless our work. St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us.

[1] In the so-called “traditional” (1962) calendar, this is a first class feast; in later calendars, it is an optional memorial. While the Christian concept of the dignity of labor (and of St. Joseph as such an exemplar) goes back much further, this feast day was established quite recently (1956), offering a timely reminder of the place of labor in God’s plan for our salvation and an antidote to Marxist and communist observances of International Labor Day (May Day). In the same vein, the Holy See also granted an indult permitting this Mass to be said in the United States on the first Monday of September.
[2] Hardly a new topic, so I won’t bother making up a catchy new slogan for it—anyway, St. Benedict’s “ora et labora” should do quite nicely here.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Lumen Christi gloriosae resurgentes
Dissipit tenebras cordis et mentes.
[May the light of Christ gloriously rising scatter the darkness of hearts and minds.]

This is, of course, an open comments thread, and I look forward to hearing your Easter reflections (and images & music) in due course. As for me, from the richness of the Easter liturgy, I was particularly struck this year by its emphasis on the effects of Easter in our own minds and hearts.

In lieu of a longer post on Easter, I will link to, which has made available a detailed article by Dom Jerome Gassner on The Exsultet (history, structure, effects). Some highlights:
"Immediately following the seven proclamations concerning the night of Resurrection and concerning the cause and motives of Redemption, seven effects of the supernatural illumination by the risen Christ, symbolized by the light of the candle, are briefly enumerated: the holiness of this night 1) banishes crime, 2) washes away sin, 3) restores innocence to those who have fallen, 4) gives gladness to those who are sad, 5) drives forth hate, 6) brings peace, and 7) humbles the haughty. So far the Preface. . . .
"The Exsultet is a most solemn sacramental. . . . . It is a sacramental preparation and a disposing for a happy celebration of Easter, which is to climax in the Easter Eucharist, the resurrection of the souls — with Christ. . . . 
"The actual graces produced by the Exsultet are acts of faith in the Resurrection of Christ, and in its re-enactment in the Easter celebration, proclaimed and described in such fervent, glowing colors; acts, moreover, of expectant hope, of reverence and admiration for the Easter mysteries; acts of gratitude for the charity and mercy of God, for so great a Sacrifice, for so great a glory merited for us by the Redeemer (cf. John 17).
"The light of the Easter candle "blots out crime, washes away sins, restores innocence," by forgiving venial sins and temporal punishment for sins. It "banishes enmities, produces concord, gives joy to the sorrowful." The prayer for "humbling the haughty" (literally: bring low the power of empires) refers not merely to the haughtiness of civil authorities, but also and primarily to the empire of death, the reign of the prince of this world and his hosts. 
"The Exsultet has also an abundance of temporal effects, partly implied already in the seven effects enumerated, partly suggested in the great intercession, e.g. a quiet and peaceful Eastertime, free from disturbances of all kind, so that Christians may in complete tranquillity enjoy the holy season. When the Church asks God in so solemn a manner on behalf of the faithful that He may "ever rule and guide and keep them" in His "devoted protection," then this special protection of their ways and lives, of their health and happiness is assured. The Exsultet is both wish and prayer, congratulation and impetration of a blessed, glorious, joyful, jubilant Easter." (emphasis mine)
I plan to reread the Exsultet in short bits throughout Paschaltide, so I can take it in more fully. Clearly, my own Easter greeting to you for happiness and peace this season can only be a faint echo of the fulsome prayer Holy Mother Church has already offered for all of us: that the Lord "quietate temporum concessa in his pascalibus gaudiis, assidua protectione, regere, gubernara, et conservare digeris." [grant peaceful times during this Paschal Festival, and vouchsafe to rule, govern, and keep us with His constant protection]. We pray in a special way for the church and civil authorities that the Lord "dirige cogitationes eorum ad justitiam et pacem." [direct their thoughts in justice and peace].

So, in sum, God grant you much peace and joy this Paschal season. May the light of the triumphantly Risen Christ illumine our minds and hearts.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday: Way of the Cross

Editor's note: These mosaic Stations of the Cross were made by Fr. Nevin Ford, O.F.M. and are installed in an olive garden on the Santa Barbara Mission grounds. Photos and text below [St. Catherine's Way of the Cross] submitted by Michael.

I Jesus is condemned to death. 
O selfish love and servile fear, you blind the eye of the intellect, not allowing it to know the truth.  O inordinate fear, you reach such blindness that you lose the fear of the wicked and condemn the just man.  Indeed, this is the perverse fear and love which killed Christ; for, in his dread of losing power, Pilate was blinded and did not recognize Truth.

II Jesus receives the cross on His shoulders.

Oh the unspeakable and incalculable love of God!  To save his disobedient, rebellious children he gave himself up to becoming a creature, to being despised, disgraced, insulted, mocked and finally put to death as a malefactor.  Well have you loved me, most sweet Jesus love, and thereby you teach me how much I should love myself and my brethren, whom you loved so deeply.

III Jesus falls the first time

What way did he walk, this gentle master, this spotless lamb?  He walked the way of deep humility in that, being God, he so humbled himself as to become man.

IV Jesus meets his mother.

The Word grafted upon her flesh was like a seed cast into the earth.  She shared the same longing for the honor of God and the salvation of His creatures.  Hence it is that learned men say that she would have made of herself a ladder to set her Son upon the cross, had there been no other means of doing so.

V Simon of Cyrene carries the cross of Jesus.

Bind yourselves, bind yourselves together in charity; let each one endure and bear with the other, so that you may be united, not scattered, in Christ.  He declared that the children of God are not known by any other sign except the union of love which a person bears his neighbor in perfect charity.

VI Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

O compassionate blood!  Through you was distilled the divine mercy.  In you humankind can understand and see the truth of the eternal Father.  By this truth and ineffable love we were created in the image and likeness of God.

VII Jesus falls a second time

Alas, we encounter death through our rebellion against the commandments of God; daily we fall into this same death, by transgressing his sweet will.

VIII The women of Jerusalem weep for Jesus

Now is the time to cry, to weep, to lament: this time is ours because the spouse of Christ is persecuted by Christians, her own false and corrupted members.  But God will not despise the tears, sweat and sighs of his servants.

IX Jesus falls a third time

Our king behaves like a truly valiant knight.  Barehanded, he has overcome the prince of this world; by giving the life of his body he destroyed the death of sin; by means of death he overcame death.

X Jesus is stripped of his garments

He was the immaculate Lamb who despised the riches and dignities of the world.  Finally he dies naked on the cross so as to clothe man once more and cover his nakedness.

XI Jesus is nailed to the cross

A nail would not have been enough to hold him fastened, if the indescribable love he had for our salvation had not held him bound.  So then it was the intense love for the Father's honor and our salvation which kept him there.

XII Jesus dies for us on the cross

Mind His great patience!  He does not consider the abuses heaped upon Him on the cross.  Rather, in great joy he called out "Consummatum est" and though that word sounded sorrowful there was joy in that soul.  The painful desire I had to buy back the human race is achieved; therefore do I rejoice and exult.

XIII Jesus is taken down from the cross and laid in the arms of his mother

Gentle and immaculate Lamb, you were already dead when your side was opened; why were you willing to be pierced and to have your heart cleft in two?  Because my desire was infinite with respect to the human race while the endurance of pain and torment was finite.  And further I wanted you to see the secret of the heart, showing it to you opened so that you could see that I loved you.

XIV Jesus is laid in the sepulcher

O nature divine, you raise the dead and you alone give life:  you willed to join dead human nature to restore it to life.  Not even in the tomb could one nature be separated from the other.

He returns to the eternal Father with the victory he has gained of having drawn the human race out of darkness and restored to it the light of grace.  The blood and determination of this captain should inspire courage in us for every battle: by enduring all things for love of Him we too, shall return victorious to the city of eternal life.