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Church Daddy's Corner

Night Prayer

As mentioned before, the older girls and I try to pray Night Prayer before bed each night. Also known as Compline, this is the last “office” of the daily Liturgy of the Hours in the Catholic Church. Most commonly associated with monks and whatnot, the Liturgy of the Hours is one of the Church’s ways of fulfilling St. Paul’s mandate to pray without ceasing through regular Psalm-based prayer.

Tonight, we recorded it to share with y’all. With the novel coronavirus with churches closing and a lot of us Catholics turning to live streaming our communal prayer, the girls thought it would be a good idea to share how we do this.

To set the stage, we pray this together after they have dressed for bed, brushed their teeth, and whatnot. They’re in their beds lying down each with their own copy of Fr. Weber, OSB’s version of Compline which has both the English and Latin texts of the Liturgy of the Hours and the musical notation for it. I use my personal copy of the 4-volume set so on regular days, I can tell them about the saint for tomorrow before we begin our prayer.

If you want to try it without buying anything, there are some great resources. A helpful note: While the other parts of Liturgy of the Hours vary a lot over a four-week cycle and based on the saint of the day, Night Prayer is on a weekly cycle. Every Monday is the same as every other Monday with few exceptions. To make things even easier, you can use the psalm from Sunday every day so if teaching your kids to chant a different psalm each night seems like a big step, just learn Sunday’s to start. For Teresa, we started before she could read and she ended up being able to sing along with almost the entire week’s worth of psalms before she could follow along with the text.

Anyhow, how to get the office.

  • Printable: eBreviary has PDF booklets for the next week’s worth of Night Prayer for free.
  • Mobile Apps: Unversalis has a different translation for free on their website, but includes the U.S. version of the translation for those who purchase their desktop or mobile apps.
  • Books: There are a few different ways to get it in printed form.
    • Compline – This is what the girls use and includes musical notation. If you want a beautiful version that includes music, this is it. This is what I suggest for anyone starting off with Night Prayer and wanting to sing it.
    • Liturgy of the Hours – This is the official 4-volume complete Liturgy. If you’re reading this post, this is likely overkill and should use one of the other options. 😃
    • Christian Prayer – This was my first Liturgy of the Hours book. It is a 1-volume version of the Liturgy. It includes complete Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Daytime Prayer, and Night Prayer. One thing it has that the “complete” 4-volume set doesn’t is a hymnal. If you’re interested in starting a broader Liturgy of the Hours experience, this is a great choice. Since the text is the same, you can purchase one of these with copies of Compline and everyone has the same text.
    • Shorter Christian Prayer – Like Christian Prayer above, but with only a one-week cycle. Great for travel.
    • Night Prayer – Same publisher as the three books above, but only Night Prayer. To me, I suppose if a parish or retreat center wanted to provide books for the congregation for Night Prayer, this would be nice. I would go with Shorter Christian Prayer or the Compline book over this one.

You may notice from the video we didn’t sing a hymn. We’re supposed to; hymns are proper to the Liturgy of the Hours. But, I’m tone-deaf and have a really hard time singing songs I don’t know. When the girls were younger, it was a major win to do what we’re doing, so we haven’t.

The twins will soon be joining us for Night Prayer and they love singing. I’m planning on letting them lead us in singing one of the hymns they enjoy during that part of Night Prayer to ease them into it, since their nighttime prayer now is straight singing from the old parish hymnals they gave away when the parish bought new ones.

In short, the Liturgy of the Hours is a great way to pray as a domestic church and Night Prayer, especially, is a great way to include all the members of your family.

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Church

West Virginia Troubles: Details about +Bransfield

In the years before he was removed from ministry for alleged sexual harassment and financial abuses, Bishop Michael Bransfield was reimbursed by the church for cash gifts he gave to fellow clergymen, records show.

Source: W.Va. bishop gave powerful cardinals and other priests $350,000 in cash gifts before his ouster, church records show

This story outlines a pretty amazing (in the worst way) failure of a bishop, his staff, and the diocesan boards. While he spent a large sum of money, I am glad that it wasn’t more and I’m glad that the diocese had random income-producing property to fund it. Any financial abuse in the non-profit sector is horrible and criminal, but I’m glad people in this incredibly poor region of the country didn’t donate that money he spent in such reckless ways.

The sexual abuse scandal is definitely the highest priority to resolve, but in my lifetime, financial abuse and mismanagement will be the next.

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Church Featured Travel

Scala Santa ⛪️

On this Good Friday, I remember last Friday when I visited the Scala Santa in Rome.

It is said in the 4th century, Emperor Constantine’s mom, Helena traveled to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage to the sites of Jesus’ life.

Being the emperor’s mom and an empress herself, gave her a ton of access. There she founded some major churches (like the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem) and brought back a number of relics—including the stairs of the praetorium that Jesus climbed to be condemned by Pilate.

Placed in Rome as stairs to the Pope’s private chapel (because of course), they became a pilgrimage location where pilgrims would climb on the knees.

Hundreds of years ago, worried about wear, the original steps were covered in wood. Until now. The wood was removed for restoration work and they decided to leave it off and open them to the public until the end of the Easter season before adding the covering again.

By just pure luck, I was in Rome when they reopened it last Thursday and able to visit on Friday morning. It wasn’t really a moment to snap pictures on the phone. In visiting Rome, almost everywhere, I saw others taking pictures, but no one had a camera or phone out, so I took a quick one as I walked in. The Catholic Traveler on Instagram took some better pictures.

Picture of the Holy Stairs in Rome
Pilgrims ascending the exposed marble Scala Santa on their knees for the first time in hundreds of years.

As we look to celebrate Good Friday today, my mind takes me to these stairs trying to imagine what Jesus must have been thinking climbing them, knowing that condemnation awaited him.

I’m reminded of Palm Sunday liturgy where we counterposition of laying palms before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem only to have the crowd condemn him a short time later. Last Friday, I joined with others to worship him and to honor the physical existence he had on Earth, but then turn around and assuredly condemn him through sin or inaction.

If you find yourself in Rome, especially before June 9th, find a few minutes to visit St. John Lateran and the Scala Santa across the plaza.

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Church Microblog

Man’s Greatness

The wise man must not boast of his wisdom, nor of the strong man of his strength, nor the rich man of his riches. What then is the right kind of boasting? What is the source of man’s greatness? Scripture says: The man who boasts must bost of this, that he knows and understand that I am the Lord. Here is man’s greatness, here is man’s glory and majesty: to know in truth what is great, to hold fast to it, and to seek glory from the Lord of glory.

— From a homily by St. Basil per OOR, Monday, Third Week of Lent

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Church Featured Reflections

We Know Nothing about +Vigano’s Memo

I got caught last night offering a brief opinion on +Vigano’s memo and Pope Francis’ response on Facebook last night while sharing yesterday’s post about bishops who need to resign. In the Facebook post, I offered that Pope Francis’ response was underwhelming and I stand by that.

To catch up, Archbishop Vigano was the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States from 2011-2016, the end of Pope Benedict’s papacy and the first few years of Pope Francis’ papacy. The Nuncio has a dual function—they are the governmental ambassador of the Holy See to the United States and he is the Pope’s representative to the United States.

The Nuncio does not have any real administrative power over the Church in the U.S. He isn’t the head of the Church in the States (nor is the USCCB in most areas as far as that goes).

Anyhow, +Vigano wrote a memo stating that, among other things, Pope Benedict XVI had secretly restricted then-Cardinal McCarrick’s ministry and Pope Francis reversed it.

Yesterday, while in transit back to Rome after an Apostolic Visitation to Ireland, Pope Francis took questions aboard the papal flight. Here is the relevant section from Catholic News Agency‘s translation:

Greg Burke: Thanks, Holiness. Let’s go to the question from the English-speaking group. Anna Matranga from the American television, CBS.

Anna Matranga, CBS: Good evening, Holy Father.  I’ll return to the subject of sex abuse about which you’ve already spoken. This morning, very early, a document by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’ came out. In it, he says that in 2013 he had a personal talk with you at the Vatican, and that in that talk, he spoke to you explicitly of the behavior of and the sexual abuse by former-Cardinal McCarrick. I wanted to ask you if this was true.  I also wanted to ask something else: the Archbishop also said that Pope Benedict sanctioned McCarrick, that he had forbidden him to live in a seminary, to celebrate Mass in public, he couldn’t travel, he was sanctioned by the Church.  May I ask you whether these two things are true?

Pope Francis:  I will respond to your question, but I would prefer last first we speak about the trip, and then other topics.  I was distracted by Stefania, but I will respond.

I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested.  Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment.  I will not say a single word about this.  I believe the statement speaks for itself.  And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions.  It’s an act of faith.  When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak.  But, I would like your professional maturity to do the work for you. It will be good for you. That’s good. (inaudible)

Matranga:  Marie Collins said that after she met you during the victims gathering, that she spoke with you precisely about ex-Cardinal McCarrick. She said you were very tough in your condemnation of McCarrick. I want to ask you, when was the first time that you heard talk about the abuses committed the former cardinal?

Pope Francis: This is part of the statement about McCarrick. Study it and then I will say.  Yesterday, I had not read it but I permitted myself to speak clearly with Marie Collins and the group, it was really an hour-and-a-half, something which made me suffer a lot.  [The Holy Father continued on a different topic discussed during the Irish victims gathering.]

via Catholic News Agency

About +Vigano’s Memo: I don’t know. If fully accurate, it is damning. I caution that we seek verification and investigation. The more incredible the claim, the more we should be cautious to accept it or deny it at face value. As lay Catholics or file-and-rank clerics, I don’t think we know enough yet and it is incredibly confusing.

Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa whom I know personally as he was the vocations director for the Diocese of Austin when I was a seminary applicant (I opted to suspend my application shortly before starting). I know him to be a wise and thoughtful priest. He published on his public Facebook page:

I count myself blessed that it was Archbishop Viganò who called me to tell me that I was appointed fourth bishop of Tulsa. The allegations he details mark a good place to begin the investigations that must happen in order for us to restore holiness and accountability to the leadership of the Church. [Emphasis mine]

Bishop David Konderla, via Facebook Sunday August 26th

A plain reading of that to me reads that he is offering his own credibility that +Vigano is a solid source.

Even more surprising, Bishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas issued a letter to his entire diocese to be posted at all Masses and on all parish sites/social media accounts where he states +Viagno’s accusations are credible.

+Wuerl’s spokesman has apparently confirmed that he cancelled a meeting of perspective seminarians with +McCarrick. Why would he have done that if, as he said, he wasn’t aware of allugations against +McCarrick, which +Vigano directly states that he did know?

From reactions like this, wow. There must be something to this. Pope Francis has a lot of explaining to do!

But, at the same time, Fr. Matt Malone, SJ, editor of the Jesuit-ran America magazine posts on Twitter a thread of various times that after these sanctions were placed on +McCarrick that +McCarrick celebrated Mass publicly and/or traveled. Some of these times included Pope Benedict and/or +Vigano. Separately, I’ve seen a photo of Pope Benedict greeting +McCarrick during his exit from the Vatican upon his resignation.

+Vigano, before being nuncio, was, in lay terms, the mayor of Vatican City and ruffled feathers. Part of these disagreements and internal battles were leaked out by Pope Benedict’s butler in an affair reported as VatiLeaks. Some opinion sites have offered that +Vigano is doing this in retribution against other Curial officials who had a hand to play in that affair.

Also being reported is that +Vigano shut down an investigation and ordered letters destroyed concerning Archbishop John Neinstedt‘s mishandling of an abusive priest allowed to stay in ministry after being credibly accused and lying about it. +Neinstedt’s actions led to criminal charges being filed against the Archdiocese, which were dropped after the Archdiocese (under the leadership of a different bishop after +Neinstedt’s resignation in disgrace) admitted wrongdoing. So, +Vigano’s hands aren’t clean either. Why did he wait until now to say something?

So, did Pope Francis knowingly overturned secret sanctions? Did Benedict really put the sanctions on him? Why were they secret? Were they not enforced? Is everything here fully accurate or is there another side not being told yet?

The point: There is far more unknown about what’s going on than known. Allegations need to be investigated and rushing to judgement—that Pope Francis is guilty of cover up, that +Vigano dropped a hit piece, or anything in between—isn’t what we need right now.

About Pope Francis’ response: It is underwhelming. Period.

He doesn’t confirm or deny anything. He says that believing the document—or not—is an act of faith. He throws this back to journalists to figure it out. He wants us to form our opinions and once we do, then he’ll say something? So, if we think he did it then he’ll admit or defend himself? If we think he didn’t do it, he’ll just stay above the fray?

There are plenty of other non-answers that I would have accepted for the time being.

If he would have said “While in Ireland, my focus is on this pastoral trip. The World Meeting of Families was an important gathering and the Irish people have suffered greatly at the hands of the Church. Due to the energy I put into this visit and meetings, I have not reviewed +Vigano’s memo in-depth yet. This is a serious matter and we should investigate all of these accusations.” Okay, cool. Basically a no comment yet, but we should confirm the truth.

I don’t believe the Pope’s response should be read as an admission of guilt or “no content” or anything like that.

But, it definitely didn’t give me anything to think that the Vatican is taking this seriously.

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Church Featured Reflections

Bishops Must Resign

I suggest that the Church proactively open every diocesan archive and get everything out in the open. Radical transparency is needed after realizing that a decade and a half after the sex abuse crisis exploded onto the scene, there is far more unknown than known.

Once the archives are opened and more of the truth is known, what should happen to those clerics named?

For those who priests or deacons who committed abuse, the Dallas Charter (2018 revision) is good. The priest or deacon is to never serve in ministry ever again. The Church must inform local authorities so appropriate criminal investigations can occur. From my limited scope of awareness, this is something good that came out of the Boston crisis that is (generally) being followed.

My home town, Wichita Falls, had the pastor removed when a review of his file revealed he had admitted in 1999 to Bishop Joseph Delaney before his ordination to the sexual assault of a minor in the 1970s. Ignoring that +Delaney ordained him after knowing about this, once the new bishop, Bishop Kevin Vann, discovered the admission in his file, he was immediately removed from ministry and the local authorities in Fort Worth and in the jurisdiction where the abuse took place were notified.

These policies gave me hope that the Church was better than it was before. That the priest in Wichita Falls wasn’t realized anew until 2006 when someone happened to stumble across it only validates we need to investigate every diocese.

The rules and process for what should happen to offending priests or deacons isn’t the weakness right now. It is about holding bishops accountable.

Before going further, I’ve read a lot of ideas for what we should do next. “The ‘gay subculture’ in seminaries demand that we ban gay priests.” “We should end the ‘imperial episcopate’ and do away with any bishop who isn’t a residential ordinary”.

I believe that this—holding bishops accountable to the decisions they have made with regard to protecting predatory and abusive priests—is too important to lump into larger conversations about long-term structural changes. As much as anyone, I’d love to have a conversation about my ideas on how to better structure parish leadership, but I don’t want to water down that we need better accountability for bishops first and foremost.

“Every bishop should resign!” I don’t agree. There are bishops who are actively and openly condemning the coverups by their brother bishops and inviting authorities to investigate their own dioceses. Justice is not served by removing innocent men from office.

1. Immediately, any bishop is determined to have knowingly moved abusive priests with credible or confirmed accusations back into ministry without restriction should resign. It doesn’t matter if the moves happened before or after the Dallas charter. At this point, they should offer this of their own free will.

I am willing to give some benefit of the doubt—maybe—to bishops who, before the Dallas Charter, was informed by a treatment facility that a priest could return to ministry, then put him somewhere in restricted ministry away from children or vulnerable adults. I don’t know if there have been a case of that.

If you caught your cousin stealing money from the cash register of the family business, even if you welcome him back, you’re not going to put him in front of the cash register without second thought. If you did, you’re stupid. Even without the Dallas Charter, it should be common sense that a priest who sexually abuses or assaults a minor shouldn’t be given unrestricted access to minors. Bishops who did not exercise this common sense should not be in governance.

2. Every one of these bishops should have their name and corresponding files turned over to civil authorities. Many of these cases won’t be strong enough for actual criminal prosecution, but let’s have the experts—law enforcement and prosecutors—make that call. I really don’t think any of them meant for children to be harmed, but their neglect and giving primacy to the abuser or reputation of the church is morally repugnant and should be considered criminal.

3. A canonical tribunal should be held. There isn’t a stated rule in Canon Law that covers, as far as my little not-a-canon-lawyer-mind knows, priestly transfers like this. There is the handy Canon 1399 that basically is a catch-all—do something bad and it’s really bad—then a penalty can be applied. I’m torn here because I don’t know what canonical penalties should be applied. Should he be barred from any episcopal ministry? As in, not allowed to ordain men to the priesthood (as sometimes a diocese lacking a bishop or a religious order will invite a bishop to ordain their candidates to the priesthood), etc? Retain the title or be stripped of it? Should they live private lives and not function publicly as a priest?

I lean toward a suspension of episcopal ministry as the default.

I hesitate to add a fourth—should a resigned/suspended bishop be put to work? Depending on his case, should he be assigned to work at one of the many parishes in America who lack a residential pastor? Or as an associate pastor at an understaffed church? Prison chaplain? I do not at all mean Cardinal Law being appointed the archpriest of St. Mary Major in Rome—a relatively cushy gig. I don’t know—just living an early retirement somewhere doesn’t feel just to me when their failure to govern is causing so much strife in the Church.

There needs to be accountability structures moving forward. That’s for another piece. But first, let’s figure out everyone who we know to have been credibly accused and those bishops who allowed them to remain in the shadows.