Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pastores Dabo Vobis - November 2, 2006 - All Souls Day

An email from Archbishop Timothy Dolan to the priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
1. This morning I had the honor of celebrating morning Mass at St. Francis de Sales Seminary for our departed priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. We prayed by name for those who passed away over the past year: John F. Murphy, James W. Hess, Gerald P. Schmitz, Robert F. Enders, John Knotek, Peter T. Amrhein, Frederick A. Heuser, Joseph A. Strenski, Vincent B. Holubowicz, Richard L. Grebasch, Alfred F. Van Beck, Dennis M. Andrews, John J. Wutscheck, Joseph N. Zeihen, Victor A. Kemmer, Francis W. Jordan, Donald T. Musinski, William H. Mackin, Donald A. Darnieder, and Albert A. Palermo. I try my best to consult the Ordo each day so I can remember in prayer our brothers on the anniversary of their passing into eternity, and I know many of you do as well. A great practice!

That's twenty in all.
2. I recently received a courteous letter from one of our many dedicated lay people certified to preach in the archdiocese, asking if it were true that I had "changed" the guidelines and withdrawn such permission for her to preach. Of course, as I have replied often before, I advised her that, no, I had not "changed" any such guidelines, but had only insisted that the universal discipline of the Church be heeded: namely, that, while competent people can indeed preach at a variety of liturgical, devotional, and catechetical occasions in the life of the Church, only one in Holy Orders -- a deacon, priest, or bishop -- can preach the homily at the Eucharist.

Certified to preach, but not certified to know what the guidelines are?
I ask that this serious expectation of the liturgical law of the Church be obeyed.

Hope springs eternal.
Yes, a qualified lay person can on occasion speak at Mass. This, though, should be exceptional, and not occur at the time for the homily, after the gospel.

Someone might have needed a reminder that's where the homily goes? I wouldn't rule it out.
I rejoice that we have a custom of well-trained men and women who can, and do, preach well at other occasions of prayer, worship, ritual, and catechesis, and want that to continue.

By saying "well-trained" he appears to assume that it was a fluke that one was ignorant of the guidelines. No need for follow-up.
But the teaching of the Church is clear that the office of preaching the homily at the Eucharist flows, not from Baptism, but from the sacrament of Holy Orders. Thank you for your attention.

Sure, but he probably thinks the teaching of the Church is clear in a lot of areas. What's the connection to what our priests say and do?
3. For the last 18 months, members of my administrative team have been studying the possibility of raising the archdiocesan parish assessment. ...

Though this would involve our, and our parishes', money, I don't recall 18 months of in-depth coverage in our Catholic Herald. Mike posted to fill that gap.
5. If available, I'd enjoy accepting invitations to preside at Advent Penance Services. ...

I assume those involve General Absolution only when he's not there.
7. Bishop Sklba and I are off to the U.S.C.C.B. meeting week after next. Topics will be on the restructuring and trimming of the conference structure, a few liturgical translation matters, and approval of some upcoming teaching documents on moral issues. We'll be in Baltimore now, not D.C. It's more historical, and cheaper!

He emailed them an update from the meeting, we learned from Diogenes at Off the Record.
8. Tuesday night, Bishop Sklba and I got back from a very uplifting visit to Sagrada Familia parish in the Dominican Republic. I'm going to write about it in my Some Seeds Fell on Good Ground Tuesday.

As noted in its October 24, 2006 issue,
"Some Seed Fell on Good Ground" is Archbishop Dolan's personal communication to those with whom he shares ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. For this reason, it is not to be printed in bulletins or newsletters without the prior permission of the Department for Communication.

By "for Communication" they obviously don't mean they're in favor of it. See parish assessments, above.
9. Back to All Souls Day . . . I was surprised - - pleasantly, since most of them were positive - - by the number of comments I received from last Tuesday's Some Seed Fell on Good Ground. You may recall that I listed a number of things I found very praiseworthy in our beautiful traditions of funerals here in the archdiocese, and, naturally, a number of areas we could probably work on improving. The whole article is available at For those of you who did not read it, here is a reprint of those things I feel we can improve upon (the area of my article that received the most comments):

You will not be surprised that there are also, in my view, a few areas we might want to work on:

I suspect our most anti-literalist priests will take that "might" literally.
- the funeral Mass is always an act of faith in the dying and rising of Jesus. At one funeral recently, I heard the lector introduce the Mass with, "We have gathered to celebrate the life and death of . . . John Jones." Well, not exactly. We have actually gathered to celebrate the dying and rising of Jesus Christ, and John's incorporation into it;

Assuming the resurrection of the body and life everlasting is something you care about.
- while we express a sure hope that the departed will be eternally united with Christ in heaven, we also realize it is proper, prudent, and realistic to ask the Lord's mercy on him or her.

Just so there's no mention of you know what.
- while cremation is now allowed for Catholics, (although burial of the body is still preferred), the remains are always to be interred immediately in a cemetery;

In case you were wondering, Ash Wedesday ashes are from burning the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday.
- and, I might as well tackle it. . . Eulogies. I've sat through some moving ones, and I've sat through some interminable, inappropriate, and embarrassing ones. (I must confess that the same applies to homilies!) A few thoughts:

- - Eulogies by family members or friends are much more appropriately done at the wake service, or even right before the funeral Mass begins, rather than at the end of Mass;

- - If allowed at Mass, pastoral wisdom shows that there should be only one eulogy, written out, succinct, and dwelling on the departed's faith;

The dying, wake, funeral Mass, and burial of a cherished family member or friend is a sacred, unrepeatable moment. As Jackie Kennedy remarked,

And not ironically!
"The Church is at her best at death." We owe it to our faithful departed and their survivors to be at our best.

A blessed November!

Keeping those twenty priests among those in mind,
Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord! And let perpetual life shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.

10. As you know, we have been without a full time Vicar for Planning since Brian Mason took on a half-time pastorate last summer. ... Thus, I have asked Bishop Sklba to resume the role, and he, with characteristic generosity, has accepted. ...

As we know, Archbishop Dolan has much more confidence in Bishop Sklba than some people do.

Update: Regarding a comment, you can see for yourself in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal [pdf, 131 pp.]; section 382 is on page 92.

1 comment:

  1. Tadhg Seamus11:04 PM

    Hmmmm. Regarding eulogies at funeral Masses: his comments would seem to indicate that the archbishop is unaware that the General Instruction to the Roman Missal (GIRM) is clear and unequivocal on the point:

    GIRM 2003, section 382 states:
    "At the funeral Mass there should as a rule be a short homily, but never a eulogy of any kind."

    It would be a grievous misinterpretation to imply that the phrase "as a rule", allows any flexibility to the rule. This is not to say that the Church opposes eulogies. They have their place and purpose in other situations but they have been ruled out at funeral Masses.

    So, how do we get from the GIRM to Archbishop Dolan's

    "- - If allowed at Mass, pastoral wisdom shows that there should be only one eulogy, written out, succinct, and dwelling on the departed's faith;"