Greetings from St. Columban Catholic Church

September 15, 2019 Bulletin (continued from August 11 and August 18 and August 25 and September 1 and September 8)

After the priest slides the paten underneath the host following the Our Father and subsequent prayer, he uncovers the chalice, genuflects, and fractures the host over the chalice saying quietly, "through the same Jesus Christ, your son, our Lord," and then, placing one half back on the paten and breaking off a small piece from the other half to put in the chalice, he continues, "who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God," and then finishes aloud, "forever and ever," and the server responds, "amen". Holding the small piece over the chalice, the priest makes the sign of the cross with the small piece of the host over the chalice three times while saying aloud, "the peace of the Lord be with you always," and the server responds, "and with your spirit". The priest then puts the small piece of the host into the chalice while saying, "may this mingling and consecration of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it." He then covers the chalice with the pall and genuflects.

The priest then bows with his hands together and says the Agnus Dei. Each time he says, "have mercy on us" and "grant us peace", he strikes his breast with his right hand. He then places his folded hands on the edge of the altar, bowed, and says three prayers quietly in preparation for receiving communion. The first prayer is similar to the one the priest says in the OF before the sign peace, "Lord Jesus Christ, who said to Your apostles peace I leave you, my peace I give you, etc.". In the second prayer, the priest asks our Lord Jesus Christ to deliver him from all of his iniquities and from all evils by the sacred Body and Blood. The third prayer asks that the partaking of Christ's body, of which the priest is unworthy, will not lead the priest to condemnation but rather through God's mercy will be a healing remedy for his body and soul. The priest says all three of these prayers back to back to back. He then genuflects as he says, "I will take the Bread of heaven, and will call upon the Name of the Lord.

Communion: Picking up the host in his left hand and holding the paten underneath with his left hand as well, the priest, still bowed, strikes his breast three times, saying each time, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed". The words, "Lord I am not worthy", are spoken aloud while the rest of the phrase is spoken quietly. The server rings the bell at the beginning of each time the priest says this. He then transfers the host to his right hand and makes the sign of the cross with the host over the paten saying, "the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul unto life everlasting, amen." He then consumes the host. The priest uncovers the chalice, genuflects, and uses his right hand to wipe any particles off of the paten into the chalice. He will then scrape the paten over the corporal where the host was lying in order to get any particles that may have stayed on the corporal. He then wipes those into the chalice as well. While he is doing this, he says, "what return shall I make to the Lord for all He has given me?" He then picks up the chalice and says, "I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the Name of the Lord. Praising I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies." Then he makes the sign of the cross with the chalice as he says, "the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul unto life everlasting, amen." He consumes the Precious Blood and covers the chalice with the pall.

The priest opens the tabernacle, genuflects, and removes the ciborium for communion for the faithful. He removes a host from the ciborium, turns around, and holds the host above the ciborium. He says, "behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world". The priest leads those present in saying three times, "Lord I am not worthy...". He then gives communion to the server. In the TLM, communion is received by all in the universal fashion: kneeling and on the tongue. Exceptions to stand and receive in the hand were made later and do not affect the rubrics of the TLM. The priest says the formula, while making the sign of the cross over the ciborium with the host, "the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ safeguard your soul unto life everlasting, amen". The priest says amen for the faithful, so they don't need to say it. They just need to stick out their tongue to receive the host.

We will finish up the explanation of the mass next week!

Scripture Readings 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-32

September 8, 2019 Bulletin (continued from August 11 and August 18 and August 25 and September 1)

After the consecration, the Canon then continues as the server returns to his original position. As the priest continues, he makes the sign of the cross three times over the chalice and host together as he says, "this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim," and then once over the host and chalice individually as he says, "the holy bread of eternal life and the chalice of everlasting salvation." The priest bows in the TLM at the same time as in the OF when he says, "in humble prayer we ask you almighty God...", but in the TLM, when he says, "who through this participation at the altar," he kisses the altar and then makes the sign of the cross individually over the host and chalice as he continues, "receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son," before signing himself with the cross, like in the OF, saying "may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing".

There then follows a pause as the priest joins his hands to pray for any specific intentions for the dead. Then, when the priest says, "to us also your servants, who though sinners," he says this part audibly as he strikes his breast. Then the Canon continues in a whisper. After the priest finishes the list of saints, he makes the sign of the cross three times over the host and chalice as he says, "you sanctify them, fill them with life, bless them".

The priest then removes the pall, genuflects, and picks up the host. He makes the sign of the cross with the host over the chalice three times as he says, "through him, and with him, and in him," then he makes the sign of the cross twice with the host from the bottom edge of the cup of the chalice to the bottom edge of the corporal and side to side on the corporal as he continues, "O God almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit". He then puts the host back over the chalice and elevates them slightly together as he says, "all glory and honor is yours". The server rings the bell at this time which is called the Minor Elevation. The priest puts the host back on the corporal and the pall back on the chalice and genuflects.

Preparation for Communion: The priest then says aloud, "forever and ever" with the server responding, "amen". The priest says "let us pray. Instructed by your saving precepts and following your divine institution, we dare to say," and then he says the Our Father, keeping his eyes fixed on the host before on the corporal. He says the entire prayer until the end when the server finished by saying, "but deliver us from evil."

The priest then says quietly, "deliver us, Lord, we pray, from all evils, past, present, and to come, and by the intercession of the Blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and of the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, and of Andrew, and of all the saints, mercifully grant peace in our days, that through the assistance of your mercy we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress." As he says this, he takes the paten out from under the corporal and purificator and when he says, "mercifully grant peace in our days," he signs himself with the paten and then kisses it. When he finishes the prayer, he slides the paten underneath the host.

We'll continue with the preparation for communion and the communion rite next week. I hope you're finding these at least slightly interesting; and if you're able, might consider attending one of the Latin masses we have here on Monday mornings.

Scripture Readings 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Wisdom 9:13-18b; Philemon 9-10, 12-17; Luke 14:25-33

September 1, 2019 Bulletin (continued from August 11 and August 18 and August 25)

The priest begins the Canon while still bowed and with his hands folded on the edge of the altar, he then kisses the altar and makes the sign of the cross three times over the gifts as he says, "bless these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices". The Canon continues the same as the OF, with a pause as the priest joins his hands silently to pray for any specific intentions for the living. The priest then extends both hands over the gifts as he says, "Therefore, Lord, we pray, graciously accept this oblation of our service, that of your whole family..." The bells are rung as he does so. This is different than the OF. In the OF, the priest simply says this part with his hands extended as normal. The next part, when the priest says, "be pleased O God we pray, to bless, acknowledge, etc." is when the bells are rung in the OF.

In the TLM, after the bells are rung, the server moves to just behind the priest on the top step, bringing the bells with him. Meanwhile, the priest says, "be pleased O God we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every respect," making three signs of the cross over the gifts as he does, before making individual signs of the cross over the host and chalice separately as he continues, "that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ."

The priest then wipes his index fingers and thumbs on the corporal so as to remove any excess things before picking up the host. He picks it up as he says, "took bread in his holy and venerable hands," then lifts his eyes upward as he says, "and with eyes raised to heaven". The priest bows his head slightly as he continues, "giving you thanks," and then makes the sign of the cross over the host as he says, "he said the blessing". The actual words of consecration in the TLM are as follows: HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM, or "for this is my body". Those are the only words and they were expanded in the liturgical reforms. As a side note, the phrase "Hocus pocus" was invented as an insult to Catholics. They mimicked the words of consecration and turned them into "magic words". Also, the hokey pokey dance was invented by the Presbyterian Church of Scotland to make fun of what the priest did at mass. The priest genuflects after the words and the server rings the bell. He then elevates the host as the server rings the bell and lifts the chasuble of the priest. The priest then places the host back on the corporal and genuflects again with another ring of the bell.

The priest then removes the pall from the chalice and begins the consecration of the wine. The priest picks up the chalice as he says, "he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands". The priest bows his head again at the words, "and once more giving you thanks," and he makes the sign of the cross over the chalice as he says, "he said the blessing". The words of consecration for the Precious Blood in the TLM are translated as follows, "for this is the chalice of my blood, the new and eternal covenant, the mystery of faith, which shall be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins." The priest places the chalice down and genuflects as he says, "do this in memory of me". The bells are rung at the genuflection, the elevation, and the second genuflection as before. We'll continue with the rest of the Canon next week.

Scripture Readings 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a; Luke 14:1, 7-14

August 25, 2019 Bulletin - (continued from August 11 and August 18)

After the priest offers the bread and the chalice, he then bows, placing his folded hands upon the edge of the altar, praying that the Lord accepts us in the spirit of humility and contrition of heart, and grants that the sacrifice which we offer this day in his sight may be pleasing to him. The priest then straightens up and moves his hands in a small circle as he asks the almighty and eternal God, the sanctifier, the bless the sacrifice prepared for the glory of his holy name. The priest makes the sign of the cross over the gifts as he says this.

Then the priest moves back to the right side of the altar where the server is waiting with the water and lavabo ("I wash") dish. The priest then reads verses 6-12 of Psalm 26 which are also printed on the altar card as the server pours a little water over the priest's hands. The priest will stand there and finish the psalm, bowing his head toward the tabernacle when he reaches the "Glory be". As he finishes the "Glory be", he walks back to the center of the altar.

The priest then bows again, placing his folded hands on the edge of the altar, and says a prayer that asks the Holy Trinity to receive the oblation which we make, in memory of the passion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, in honor of the Blessed Mary, blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, that it may avail unto their honor and our salvation, and that they may intercede for us in heaven, whose memory we celebrate on earth. The priest then kisses the altar, turns to face the people and says "pray brethren" audibly, extending his hands as he does, then turns back toward the altar, making a full circle, while saying quietly that his sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father almighty. The server then responds, "may the Lord accept the sacrifice from your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church". The priest responds quietly, "Amen".

The priest extends his hands and says the Secret, which would be the equivalent of the Offertory Prayer in the OF. This is the only proper (meaning specific to the mass of the day) part of the mass that is not said loudly. At the conclusion of the prayer, the priest says, "...who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God..." quietly as he turns the page to the Preface. He then says aloud, "forever and ever," with the server responding, "amen".

The priest begins the Preface dialogue with the server aloud, saying the Lord be with you, lift up your hearts, etc. He then reads the Preface aloud which is followed by the Sanctus. The priest recites the Sanctus aloud and the server rings the bells three times, one for each "Sanctus". The bells and the words don't necessarily match up. The bells are the signal for the congregation to kneel. After the Sanctus is finished, the priest begins the Roman Canon, or the Eucharistic Prayer.

The Canon: In the OF, there are multiple Eucharistic Prayers that the priest may read depending upon his preference or the occasion. In the TLM, there is only one: the Roman Canon. In the OF, this is known as Eucharistic Prayer I and is the one that I use for every mass (except funerals). Before the priest begins to read it, which is done entirely in a whisper apart from a few words, he makes a circle with his hands, looking up at the altar crucifix and then bows, placing his folded hands on the edge of the altar. After he has done this he begins to read the Canon. The corrected translation of the missal which was released in 2011 and is now used in the OF is a very faithful translation to the Latin Canon. Therefore, what I say at mass in the OF is basically the same as the TLM. There are only differences in the actions and the words of the consecration.

So as to have as much continuity as possible, we'll start looking a the Canon next week as opposed to starting just the very beginning this week in the space we have available.

Scripture Readings 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30

August 18, 2019 Bulletin (continued from August 11)

After the priest kisses the altar, he goes to the missal and reads the Introit (entrance antiphon). After he finishes, he goes back to the center of the altar and says the Kyrie. The TLM has a nine-fold Kyrie as opposed to the six-fold that we're used to in the OF. So instead of saying "Lord, have mercy" two times before saying "Christ, have mercy", each is said three times for a total of nine. The priest and server simply alternate with the priest then saying the first and last Kyrie. Then, if there is a Gloria, the priest says it.

After the Gloria (if there is one), the priest will kiss the altar and turn around to face the people. Every time the priest turns his back to the altar, he will reverence it with a kiss. The priest extends his hands as he says, "the Lord be with you" and the server responds, "and with your spirit." Then he goes back to the missal and says, "Let us pray," bowing his head toward the tabernacle and extending his hands again as he does. He then reads the Collect (opening prayer). If there are multiple saints being commemorated on the same day, there might be more than one Collect. This is indicated because the priest will say "Let us pray" again after finishing the first Collect.

Liturgy of the Word: After the Collect is finished, the priest will begin the reading, otherwise called the Lesson. This can be from either the Old or New Testament depending on the day. He places his hands on the sides of the missal, mimicking slightly the position one would have if he or she was holding the missal if there was no missal stand. The congregation may sit at this point as they normally would in the OF. The server will remain kneeling. When he finishes the lesson, he places his left hand on the altar, indicating to the server that the lesson is finished. The server then responds, "thanks be to God".

The priest will then read the Gradual which is taken from the Book of Psalms. While he does this, the server will stand and make his way to the side of the altar that the priest is standing on. The alleluia verse is included in the Gradual. When the priest is finished, he goes to the center of the altar and bows to say two prayers before he proclaims the Gospel. These prayers ask God to cleanse his heart and lips so that he may worthily announce the holy Gospel. He then asks the Lord's blessing. While he does this, the server transfers the missal from what's called the Epistle side (because that's where the Epistle is read, otherwise known as the right side) to the Gospel side (the left side).

When the priest finishes his prayers and the missal is placed on the Gospel side, the priest says "the Lord be with you" with the server responding. Then, unless it's the beginning or end of the Gospel, the priest says, "a continuation of the Holy Gospel according to..." with the server responding normally. The server stands on the Gospel side of the altar as the priest begins the Gospel. When priest says the name of Jesus for the first time, often near the beginning of the passage, the server bows his head and moves to the opposite side of the altar. Every time the name of Jesus is read, the priest bows his head towards the missal. When the Gospel is finished, the priest kisses the missal while saying, "by the words of the Gospel may our sins be wiped away." The server responds, "praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ." After the Gospel, the priest will move the missal from the far left corner of the altar closer to the center. If there is a homily, the priest will remove the maniple (the vestment worn on the left forearm), place it over the missal, and proceed to the ambo. After the homily, the priest returns to the altar, puts the maniple back on, and begins the creed (if there is one). During the creed, at the words "and by the holy spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man," the priest and everyone present genuflect as opposed to bowing profoundly which is the practice in the OF. After the creed, the priest kisses the altar, turns to face the people, and says "the Lord be with you" with the server responding. He then bows to the tabernacle and says, "Let us pray". He then reads the Offertory Antiphon.

Offertory: The priest unveils the chalice and places the veil on the right side of the altar. The server will either remove it or leave it, depending on the preference of the priest. The chalice is moved off the corporal, the pall (square, white, sturdy piece that is placed directly on top of the chalice) is also removed and leaned against the main altar card. The paten (round, gold plate upon which the host sits) is taken into both hands by the priest who looks up at the altar crucifix first before reading the prayer. The prayer asks God to accept the unspotted host which the unworthy servant (the priest) is offering for his sins, offenses, negligences, and all present, as well as all faithful Christians, living and dead, that it avails them for salvation. He then makes the sign of the cross over the corporal with the paten and host upon it before allowing the host to slide off and rest directly upon the corporal. The paten is then slid partially under the bottom right side of the corporal.

The priest then takes the chalice and purificator (white cloth that is draped over the chalice) and moves to the right side of the altar where the server is waiting with the water and wine. The priest pours some wine into the chalice and hands the cruet back to the server. He then blesses the water in the cruet while the server is holding it, and says the prayer asking God, who created and dignified human nature, and then restored it, that by the mystery of the water and wine, we may be made partakers of his divine nature who had Jesus Christ be a partaker of our human nature. This prayer is printed on the altar card on the right side of the altar. He pours a little water into the chalice while saying the prayer, and then moves the chalice closer to the center, taking the purificator back with him to the center and placing it over the exposed portion of the paten. He then looks up at the crucifix first before saying the prayer which offers the Lord the chalice of salvation, beseeching his clemency, that it may ascend before his divine majesty for our salvation and for the salvation of the whole world. He then makes the sign of the cross with the chalice over the corporal before placing the pall upon it.

Scripture Readings 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53

August 11, 2019 Bulletin

For many who have grown up in the years since the liturgical changes that followed the Second Vatican Council, the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), otherwise known as the Extraordinary Form, can seem confusing, uncomfortable, and even off-putting to some. What I hope to do in a series of columns in the bulletin is to explain the mass, step by step, so that if nothing else, our knowledge of the other half of the Roman Rite of which we are all a part, will increase. Also, it must be stated clearly that I, in no way, place the Extraordinary Form above the Ordinary or vice versa. Both forms of the Roman Rite are valid, beautiful celebrations of the liturgy and as such deserve the support and understanding of all who practice the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.

Before I begin with the actual parts of the mass, there are a few overarching details to cover. The reason the priest faces the same direction as the people when offering the mass is because he is offering the sacrifice on behalf of the congregation. He, as the shepherd, standing in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) leads the congregation towards God and towards heaven. Also, it's important to note that a vast majority of what is said by the priest is directed towards God, not toward us. When the priest does address us, he turns around to face us. Another thing to point out is that the responses are always done by the server. If there is no server, the priest will say the responses himself. This is not to say that the congregation can't make the responses that the server would normally make, but it is not required. All that is required of the faithful who attend mass is to pray.

The phrase "full, active, and conscious participation" has taken on a life of its own. We associate it with doing something physical or verbal as opposed to internal. We are called to full, active, and conscious participation with our hearts and souls, not our bodies. The person who spends the entire mass kneeling in the back of church and saying a rosary could still be fully, actively, and consciously participating. Their prayer is adding to the mass. The person who makes all of the responses and sits, stands, and kneels at the right times might be thinking about whether they want to eat at McDonalds or Taco Bell after mass and is simply on autopilot. The point is that our participation must first be internal and we must not make judgments on the participation of others based solely on what we can see or hear.

The last thing I want to touch on before getting into the mass itself is silence, or at least perceived silence. The Ordinary Form (OF) is loud by comparison. Apart from a few prayers said by the priest during the offertory of the mass and before and after the Gospel, the mass is spoken aloud. Thus, the silence that occurs during the OF often accompanies nothing going on. In the TLM, many things spoken by the priest are spoken in a whisper. So therefore, just because you can't hear anything does not mean nothing is going on. It's also important to note that with the exception of one prayer, nothing that is spoken softly by the priest ever changes, nor are there options for him to change them. The TLM does not nor are there options for him to change them. The TLM does not allow the many different options the OF does, and thus even though the language might not be understood by all, if you know what's going on in the mass, you know inherently what the priest is saying and doing.

The Entrance Rites:
The server and priest process to the altar together with the priest carrying the chalice, which is veiled. The two genuflect together and the priest proceeds to the altar, placing the chalice down. He then removes the corporal (square, white cloth upon which the host will be placed, and since that is the Body of Christ, the corporal is named because of the body, or corpus in Latin, placed upon it). The corporal is spread out in the center of the altar and then the chalice, still veiled, is placed upon it. The priest then moves to the missal (book), and opens it to the Introit (entrance antiphon). The priest then moves back to the center of the altar, bows, and proceeds back down the stairs, angling himself slightly so as not to directly turn his back on the tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament resides.

When he reaches the foot of the altar, the server kneels. The priest starts with the sign of the cross and then the antiphon for Psalm 42 (or 43 in the non-Vulgate numbering): "I will go in unto the altar of God", with the server responding, "to God who gives joy to my youth." The two then alternate, speaking the entirety of the psalm. The psalm is concluded by a Glory Be and then the antiphon again. Then the priest and server sign themselves with the cross as the priest says, "Our help is in the name of the Lord," with the server responding, "who made heaven and earth."

The priest then bows profoundly and begins his confiteor. In this longer form of the confiteor, the priest confesses to God, the blessed Virgin Mary, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, and saints Peter and Paul by name, all the saints, and then to the brethren, that he has sinned in exceedingly in thought, word, and deed. There are the three mea culpas, then he beseeches the same people again in the same order to pray to the Lord our God for him. The server then bows and leans towards the priest, saying, "may almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to everlasting life." The priest responds, "amen" and then stands upright again. The server then bows profoundly while kneeling and speaks the same confiteor for himself and the congregation. When he's finished, the priest responds the same as the server, except speaking in the plural, and then the two sign themselves with the cross as the priest says, "May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins". This forgives all venial sins of all present.

The priest and server then bow their heads as the priest says, "O God, you will turn and restore us to life," and the server responds, "and your people will rejoice in you". The priest then says, "show us, O Lord, your mercy," with the server responding, "and grant us your salvation". These are verses seven and eight of Psalm 85. The priest says, "O Lord, hear my prayer," the server responds, "and let my cry come before you". This is from verse one of Psalm 102. The priest says, "the Lord be with you," the server responds, "and with your spirit," and then the priest says, "Let us pray" before ascending the altar again. When the priest ascends the altar, he says two prayers. The first is asking God to remove the priest's iniquities so that he's worthy to enter into the holy of holies. The second asks God to forgive the priest's sins by the merits of the saint or saints whose relics are in the altar stone. While he says this prayer, after he says, "whose relics are here", he kisses the altar to reverence those saints.

We'll continue with the Entrance Rites next week and then proceed through the rest of the mass.

Scripture Readings 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Wisdom 18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48

Roman Persecutions of Christianity, part 3 - August 4, 2019

The Emperor Diocletian spent the first 10 years of his reign battling barbarians in Germany and Persia leading Christians to think he was very tolerant of them following the acts of Decius and Valerian. However, on February 23, 303AD, the first of four edicts was issued and the great persecution began.

Diocletian was a very good administrator of the empire despite his actions toward Christianity. He divided the empire into four districts and divided power among three other "Caesars". These were Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius. Diocletian retained full power but delegated many things. Later he would divide the empire further into what were called "dioceses" to help with administrative efficiency. This is where the Church gets the term.

Two of the appointed "Caesars", Maximian and Galerius, were wary of Christianity and urged Diocletian to eradicate it. The first edict that was issued ordered the destruction of churches, the burning of scriptures, and the banning of all Christian gatherings. The second edict sanctioned the imprisonment of clergy. The third edict demanded pagan sacrifice from the clergy under penalty of death, and the fourth edict demanded pagan sacrifice from every Christian under penalty of death. Constantine would later remark that if the Romans had killed as many barbarians as they had Christians, they would have never been threatened by the barbarians.

Diocletian abdicates the throne in 305AD and Maximian stepped down as well. In 311AD, Galerius was struck with leprosy. He blamed the Christian God for his illness as retribution for the persecutions. In 311, Galerius issued an edict for the free exercise of Christianity in the entire empire. Constantine then succeeds Constantius and Maxentius succeeded Maximian (obviously originality of names was not important back then). Constantine and Maxentius would struggle for power and their armies met at the Milvian bridge outside of Rome.

Constantine claimed that before the battle, he saw the symbol of the cross with the words "in hoc signo vinces" ("in this sign you will conquer") above the sun. The symbol was put on all of the shields in his army and although outnumbered four-to-one, Constantine was victorious. He claimed that the Christian God favored him and restored all property to the Church and even aided the construction of churches.

In 313AD, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan. It restored all property taken from the Church by the empire. It granted Christians the freedom to practice their religion, and legitimized the religion for the first time since it had been outlawed by Nero in 64AD.

There were some political motives behind this. Constantine sought unity and he hoped that Christianity would provide that unity. Constantine was known to have prayed daily and he received instruction in the faith. However, he was not baptized until he was on his deathbed. It's important to note that Constantine legalized Christianity, but he did NOT make it the official religion of the empire. That would not come for several more years.

Constantine's mother, Helena, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land after her son became emperor. With the help of the bishop of Jerusalem, she began looking for artifacts from the time of Christ. She discovered relics from the passion, including the nails, thorns, the sign above Jesus' head, the true cross, and the tomb of Christ. These relics can be viewed today in the church of Santa Croce in Rome. Helena was canonized for her devotion to our Lord and His Passion. Her feast day is August 18th.

Scripture Readings 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23; Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11; Luke 12:13-21

Roman Persecutions of Christianity, part 2 - July 28, 2019

The third of the "Five Good Emperors" was Hadrian (of wall fame) who issued a rescript in 123/124AD. He answered the request of a proconsul who wanted advice as to how to handle violent crowds who wanted to murder Christians. Hadrian emphasized the rule of law over mob action. Christians could only be prosecuted for actual violations of common law, not just for professing Christian beliefs. If an accuser made false accusations, then the accuser was to be punished. This was a radical step forward and a positive step for Christianity in the Roman Empire.

However, that would all come crashing down with last of the "Five Good Emperors", Marcus Aurelius. He was an ardent stoic and philosopher. He re-instituted anonymous denunciations and did not hesitate to kill Christians. He even let mobs kill Christians because it allowed the mobs to "vent" their anger on the Christians rather than turning it towards the empire. He saw it as a way to control his own people's passions. The irony is that in Rome, there's a statue of Marcus Aurelius in the center of a square designed by Micheangelo. However, in the Renaissance, they thought it was a statue of Constantine which is why they kept it there. Had they known it was of an emperor so hostile to Christianity, there's a good chance it could have been destroyed.

Moving forward, a decree by Septimus Severus in 202AD banned baptism. The persecution that followed was mostly in Africa and Syria and gave us the martyrs of Felicity, Perpetua, and Irenaeus. After Septimus Severus, there was relative peace for Christians. There was a lot of turnover in emperors which was to the benefit of the Christians. 

However, the emperor Decius, who only reigned from 249-251AD, would enact the first empire-wide persecution. Decius believed that the survival of the empire depended upon the full restoration of the old pagan cults. Anyone suspected of being a Christian was called before the local magistrate to offer a simple sacrifice. You could offer sacrifice to the gods, burn incense to the gods, or purchase a certificate saying you had already offered sacrifice to the gods. Decius ordered the arrest of all known Christians who failed to appear before the magistrate or who could not produce a certificate. Those who refused to renounce their faith were exiled or killed and all of their property was confiscated. The Church would lose those killed as well as those who would commit apostasy.

Man is united to God in three different ways: by faith, by will (obeying the Commandments), and by Holy Orders/Religious Life. Apostasy from Holy Orders/Religious Life involves leaving that life. Apostasy of will is committed by those who rebel in their mind against the divine commandments (this is different than sin). Apostasy by faith is done by those who turn away from God altogether. This is the most grave and incurs automatic excommunication.

In 257AD, the Emperor Valerian forbade Christians from meeting in public places and from celebrating the Eucharist in the catacombs. In 258AD, all bishops, priests, and deacons were immediately executed if discovered. Christians of rank were removed from their offices and sold into slavery.

Our final segment on the Roman persecutions will cover the great persecution under Diocletian as well as the legalization of Christianity by Constantine.

Scripture Readings 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Genesis 18:20-32; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13

Roman Persecutions of Christianity, part 1 - July 21, 2019

The size and scope of the Roman persecutions definitely warrants more than one week. Christianity was born in the suffering and death of its Founder, Jesus Christ. Likewise, it grew and took root through the suffering and death of many of its followers. The Romans weren't the only ones to persecute Christianity, as we hear of local attacks in Acts of the Apostles in and around Palestine by the Jews, but they were definitely the main source of persecution.

It all begins in 64AD in Rome under the Emperor Nero. Nero was psychopathic, even by Roman standards. The Roman historians portray him as such. On July 19, 64AD, fire broke out near the Circus Maximus in Rome and burned for nine days. The rumor was the Nero started the fire in order to clear space for his "golden house". To combat these rumors, Nero blames the new group in town: the Christians. He forced a few confessions out of some and then ordered large numbers arrested. When the Romans began to question the validity of these "confessions", Nero then charged the Christians with "hating the human race".

The persecution was limited to just the city of Rome, but the brutality was unreal. They were taken to Nero's Circus, sewn to animal skins, then distributed throughout gardens while hunted by mastiff dogs. They were also coated with pitch and resin and then set on fire to provide light while Nero passed through the city streets and gardens. Saints Peter and Paul would be martyred during this first Roman persecution.

The Emperor Domitian, who referred to himself as "Lord and God", tried to stop the spread of Christianity from the lower classes to the aristocracy. He therefore levied a special tax on Christians to pay for a new temple to Jupiter, punishing those who refused. However, as dangerous as the emperors were, it was the people that were the most dangerous. Misunderstandings often evolved into violent hatred and fear. Christians were accused of sacrificing babies, drinking their blood, and casting evil spells. They were also blamed for natural disasters that occurred.

From the years 96-180AD, there was a span of emperors known as the Five Good Emperors. Not because they were good to Christians but because of their skill in leading the empire and enjoying the support of the senate, army, and people. The second of these five emperors, Trajan, took what he deemed to be an enlightened and balanced approach toward Christianity. One of his governors asked advice concerning the persecution and punishment of Christians. Nero and Domitian had held that Christians were to be summarily executed and this governor was doing that. However, he tells Trajan that they exist all over, in all levels of society.

The governor poses four questions to Trajan: should anonymous denunciations of Christians be pursued; should age be taken into consideration when determining their punishment; should Christians who publicly renounce their faith be allowed to live; is profession of Christianity itself sufficient to warrant execution. Trajan's response that we have only covers three of the four questions. He says that anonymous denunciations (accusing someone of being a Christian without giving your name) should not be pursued, Christians who publicly renounce their faith and sacrifice to the Roman gods can live, and anyone who is denounced openly and admits to being a Christian was to be executed. This was considered balanced and enlightened, although compared to his predecessors, it was.

Next week, we'll pick it up with the emperor Hadrian, the next of the "Five Good Emperors".

Scripture Readings 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Genesis 18:1-10a; Colossians 1:24-28; Luke 10:38-42

Apostolic Fathers and Early Apologetics - July 14, 2019

The Apostolic Fathers comprise the time immediately after the death of the last Apostle (St. John, who died in exile). They were among the earliest Christian writers. Some of the more famous Apostolic Fathers include St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, and St. Polycarp of Smyrna. Their writings consisted mainly of religious and moral themes that were typically addressed through epistles to specific communities. This, of course, was the same manner in which St. Paul taught.

St. Ignatius of Antioch lived from approximately 50-107AD. His letters are the considered the most important documents which link the Twelve Apostles with the early Church. He would be arrested during the reign of Emperor Trajan for being a well-known bishop. Antioch was one of the main centers of Christianity. As he was taken to Rome to be martyred, he corresponded with many communities in Asia Minor. These are known as the Seven Epistles.

In these epistles, St. Ignatius makes clear his desire for martyrdom to the extent that he asked other Christians not to try and intervene on his behalf. His writings elaborated on the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery and St. Ignatius was the first person to use the term "Catholic Church". He also supported the primacy of the papacy.

St. Polycarp of Smyrna lived from 69-155AD. He dies under the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius, the fourth of the so-called "5 Good Emperors". St. Polycarp defended orthodox Catholic belief against various heresies. He is also one of the most important Apostolic Fathers because of his correspondence and friendship with St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Clement of Rome. This correspondence gives us tremendous insight into the workings of the early Church. Upon returning to Smyrna from Rome, he was arrested during a pagan festival. The governor actually tried to save him, because he was so popular, by asking him to publicly curse Christ. St. Polycarp refused and was burned at the stake. However, the fire would not harm him, so he was killed with a sword instead.

For the early apologists (defenders of the faith), their opponents were mainly Judaism, Gnostic heresies, and various pagan religions. For Judaism, their problems with Christianity were that Christianity claimed roots in Judaism. To the Jews, this denigrated and desecrated Judaism, the Law, and the God of Abraham. Christians claimed fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, but rejected the need for circumcision and other practices. Also, Christ was not the messiah the Jews had expected. Therefore, the writings of the apologists focused on these issues.

It's always important to remember that when you are defending the faith, don't focus on broad-sweeping statements. That will inevitably get you nowhere. What you need to first do is ask your opponent what their issues are and then specifically address those. Asking questions is the best way to learn what your opponent actually believes.

The most important work of the apologists at this time was dealing with the pagan culture of the Romans. It was the dominant force in the world they were living in. Christianity was antithetical to all things Romans. Loyalty, to the Romans, meant worshipping the emperor, serving in the army, and participating in the pagan cults. The Christians sometimes served in the legions, but that was it. As such, they were hated and feared. There was a great need for apologetic writings that explained the practices of the Christians so that it was understood what they actually believed and practiced.

Scripture Readings 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37

The Early Christian - July 7, 2019

A common misconception is that the practices of the early Christians were far different than the practices of Catholics today. In some cases this is true, but in the crucial elements of our faith, not much has changed. This week we're going to look at some of the practices of the early Christians and how they compare to what we do today.

  • Baptism: In the early years, people were baptized freely. However, the numbers began to grow and when that happened, a more structured program emerged. Catechumens ("the instructed"), were taught over a period of 2-3 years. This was to allow for a proper understanding of the Gospel message and to develop a firm foundation of faith. This was necessary because of the heavy persecutions going on at the time. If there wasn't a strong foundation, people would renounce their faith in the face of persecution, known as apostasy. The baptism of infants wouldn't become common until the third century.
  • Eucharist: The original mass was structured similarly to today. There were readings from Scripture, a collection for the poor, and then the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The fixed words of the Eucharistic Prayer would develop over the centuries so originally the celebrant would give his own words of thanks before saying the words of consecration which were set down as early as Paul's letters (50AD or so).
  • Churches: The early churches were originally in people's homes. This was not done because that was preferred, it was done out of secrecy. Were they to have an actual church building like today, they would have been easily found and killed and the building destroyed.
  • Holy Days: The early Christians had two days of fasting and penance per week: Wednesday and Friday. Friday because that was the day of Christ's death, and Wednesday because that was the day that Judas betrayed Jesus. Originally, Christians kept the Jewish sabbath on Saturday, but switched to Sunday because of Pentecost and the Resurrection. It was originally Pentecost because that event affected thousands while the Resurrection only affected a small amount by comparison. Different feast days would develop with time as certain days rose to higher importance.
  • Priesthood: It comes from the Greek "presbyteros" which is translated as presbyter. Presbyters were Church elders. The full understanding of what it meant to be a priest developed over the centuries but as early as the second century we have records of priests being ordained to offer the mass.
  • Slavery: Slavery was permitted under Roman Law and the Law of Moses. Jesus' teachings, however, were clearly against the institution as a whole. But, there was little the Christians could do about it at the time. Slaves were welcomed as full members of the Church which made the Church very popular with slaves. As the Church grew, the institution would slowly dwindle.
  • Sexual Ethics: Abortion, contraception, and infanticide were quite prevalent in Roman society. They were not things that have only recently become more widespread. The earliest writings of the Church condemned all of these practices with very strong wordings and those teachings have never changed.
  • Women: Women were treated as second-class citizens in Roman society. However, they were welcomed as full members of the Church and treated the same as men in the Church. The modern misconception is that the Church treated women the same as everyone else because of the highly patriarchal society. That theory, however, doesn't hold water. Jesus' most faithful followers were women. The most venerated person in the Church apart from God is Mary. One of the most extreme things Christ did was allow women to be treated the same as men. Women priests were common in almost every polytheistic religion. Ordaining women would have been a very non-extreme thing to do because of how common "priestesses" were. The male-only priesthood exists for theological reasons, not misogynist ones.

Scripture Readings 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Isaiah 66:10-14c; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

The Apostolic Church - June 30, 2019

Christ founded His Church upon the apostles. The word "apostle" means "one who is sent", so there is an inherent missionary characteristic to not only the apostles but to the Church as well. The Church claims this apostolic foundation and that's very important. The apostles were personally chosen by Christ, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and they received their teachings and instructions directly from Christ. The Catholic Church is the only one that can claim this apostolic foundation which also gives us apostolic succession. The apostles chose their successors, who became known as bishops. Bishops ordain other bishops throughout time to maintain leadership in the Church. Every bishop today, were he to try hard enough, would be able to trace his ordination back through time to the apostles themselves. Only bishops who are ordained within the Church maintain this apostolic succession today. Now, many like to glamorize the early Church today by painting a picture of everyone getting along, spreading the good news, and being simplistic when it comes to practices and teachings, but that's simply not the case. The early Church was fraught with issues from the very beginning. The most serious issue the Church will face is that of persecution. From the earliest days, the Church was persecuted by those who saw it as a threat. First it was the Jewish leaders, later it will be the Romans.

The word "martyr" means "witness" as martyrs were true witnesses to their faith through their conviction. The first martyr of the Church was St. Stephen who was one of the first seven deacons ordained. St. Stephen's martyrdom began the first persecution of the Church which was mainly in and around Jerusalem. The person who was in charge of the death of St. Stephen was a young man named Saul Paulus of Tarsus. Saul was a fanatical Pharisee who sought to destroy what he saw as a threat to Judaism. He would, of course, convert not long later and become one of the greatest evangelists in history.

One of the first crises to hit the Church during this time was the question as to whether or not you had to be Jewish before becoming Christian. The assumption was you did. However, it was revealed to Peter in a vision that the Gentiles were able to be baptized without becoming Jewish first. The issue was finally settled at the first council of the Church: the Council of Jerusalem. Councils will become an important means in understanding the position of the Church. Councils are called to solve problems and clarify issues, not create new teachings.

Like I said above, apostle means one who is sent. All of the apostles were missionaries at some level and all, except St. John, were killed for what they preached. Peter was crucified upside down because he didn't think he was worthy to die the same way as Christ. Paul was beheaded because he was a Roman citizen. Both were killed in Rome. Andrew was crucified on an "x" shaped cross in Greece, hence the St. Andrew's cross being an X. James the Greater was beheaded in 44AD in Jerusalem and was the first apostle to die. Bartholomew was flayed alive in Armenia after bringing the gospel to Persia. Matthew died in Ethiopia by methods unknown. Thomas took the gospel to India and was martyred there. James the Lesser was thrown off the temple in Jerusalem... then beaten to death. Philip was killed by Jews in Phrygia (central Turkey). Simon was crucified in Syria after evangelizing all over Africa. Jude was beaten to death in Mesopotamia. They tried to boil John in oil but it didn't work. He was then exiled to the island of Patmos where he would die.

While the above isn't pretty, it is reassuring. It's reassuring because it shows the power of Christ's message and the power of the Holy Spirit. Ordinary men with ordinary jobs, plucked from mediocrity, and taught what ultimately amount to simple messages. Once imbued with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, these men would go to the ends of the world and endure horribly painful deaths for the sake of what so many today only deign to believe. Their witness speaks volumes, and it's a witness we should all strive to emulate.

Scripture Readings 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 1 Kings 19:16B, 19-21; Galatians 5:1, 13-18; Luke 9:51-62

The Perfect Time, Part 2 - June 23, 2019

So when we last left off, we had communities of Jews living throughout the Mediterranean due to the Diaspora and the advent of the first global empire: the Persian Empire. The Persians had attempted to conquer Greece twice, inflicting massive damage. This would inspire revenge over a century later.

In 338BC, Philip of Macedon finally subdues all of Greece. Philip then dies suddenly and is succeeded by his son, Alexander. Alexander then does what his father always dreamed of doing: attack Persia. This was for power and for revenge for the damage Persia inflicted upon Greece a century before. By 323 BC, Alexander the Great conquered Persia, parts of India, and Egypt, but dies without an heir. This leads to a divided kingdom amongst four of his generals.

Alexander's lasting influence in the region, however, was Hellenism. Hellenism is Greek culture and Hellenization is the spreading of Greek culture. So while his former empire was divided politically, it was united culturally. The Greek language became the dominant language in Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor. This led to the intermingling of different cultures and ideas because everyone could communicate with each other.

The Greek influence on religion was also profound. Greek philosophy was largely devoid of any religious substance, but it was merged with the theologies of the east which were largely devoid of any philosophy. This mingling of proper theology with proper philosophy will be essential to the spread and understanding of Christianity.

So now we have communities of Jews living all over the Mediterranean, a common language being spoken in the same area, and an intermingling of philosophy and theology for the first time.

In 246BC, Rome controlled the entire Italian peninsula and begins a series of wars with Carthage known as the Punic Wars. The most famous of these was the second, when the Carthaginian general, Hannibal, famously marched his elephants over the Alps for a surprise attack against the Romans. Rome would emerge victorious in each of the wars, eventually destroying the city of Carthage and salting the earth so nothing could grow there. This established Rome as the dominant power in the region and set them on the course for empire.

Meanwhile, in Palestine, the Jews were suffering under the heel of the Seleucid Empire, one of the offshoots of Alexander's empire. Overly oppressive kings sought to saturate the Jews with Hellenism in an attempt to suppress Judaism. The Jews would eventually revolt and this uprising, chronicled in the Books of Maccabees, led to the overthrow of the Seleucids in the area and gave the Jews control over the region for the first time in 600 years.

In 133BC, Rome began to outgrow the Republic system of government. A series of civil wars would eventually lead to the establishment of a triumvirate between Crassus, Pompey, and Julius Caesar. To gain power and favor, Caesar conquered Gaul (modern-day France) and Pompey headed east. Despite the formation of the Jewish kingdom in Palestine, civil war was raging there as well. Pompey strategically intervened and ended up annexing Judea for Rome.

Caesar is killed in 44BC and another civil war rages until his nephew, Octavian, consolidates power in 27BC and is given the title Augustus from the senate, becoming the first emperor. This began a long stretch of peace and prosperity for the Roman Empire known as the Pax Romana. The Pax Romana led to the building of infrastructure such as roads, sewers, and aqueducts, as well as the expansion of cities and trade.

So, around the year 1BC, we have communities of Jewish people living all around the Mediterranean. The whole region speaks the same language: Greek. There is an understanding of Greek philosophy which is key to understanding certain Christian doctrines. There is one power in control which is providing peace and safe travel along the greatest series of roads the world had seen. Added to that, the mainline polytheistic religions cannot answer basic religious questions that people have. It would seem like the perfect time for the spread of a new message.

Scripture Readings for The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ - Genesis 14:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11b-17; Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

The Perfect Time, Part 1 - June 16, 2019

In this feature, when there are no other pressing items on which to update you, I hope to expand people's knowledge of Church History which is a subject that many are familiar with only in name. My goal is to start at the beginning and work forward through time, highlighting the major events with explanations that will hopefully allow this wonderful subject to not only come alive but possibly encourage many to learn more about it on their own.

The Church was founded by Jesus Christ; and many know the world that Christ was born into. However, many are not aware how events leading to Christ's birth created the perfect world for the Church to ultimately begin. Often, we look at simply the Old Testament and Salvation History to see how God created His chosen people but seldom do we see how secular events also played a role. Due to the number of events, this will be a multi-part piece. Hopefully, all of the dates don't make this first feature too dry!

This story begins with two dates: April 21, 753BC and 722BC.

  • On April 21, 753BC, tradition holds that the city of Rome was founded. Rome will not be anything of substance for several centuries, but it's important to note its founding because of the impact it will eventually have.
  • In 722BC, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrian Empire. This begins what is called the Diaspora, or Dispersion, of the Jews. The Assyrians had a policy of resettlement wherein they would resettle local populations throughout their empire and replace them with other peoples, thus making it more difficult for locals to band together and revolt. So the Assyrians scattered the 10 northern tribes of Israel throughout their empire, thus creating the first instances of Jews living outside the Promised Land. Many of these Jews would never return.
  • In 586BC, the Southern Kingdom of Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians. The population was deported to Babylon, thus beginning the Babylonian Exile and completing the Diaspora. So now we have Jews living all throughout the Near East, forming their own communities, as opposed to all of them living clustered together in Israel.
  • In 539BC, Cyrus the Great of Persia defeats Babylon and creates the first world empire. It stretches from the Indus River in the east to Egypt and Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) in the west. Cyrus frees the Jews from Babylon, but many will stay as well as move throughout this new empire, settling in Egypt, Asia Minor, and many other places as well as back in Israel.
  • In 509 BC, Rome will transition from a monarchy to a republic. The Senate held the power while two consuls would jointly share a quasi top-executive office. In an emergency, a dictator would be appointed for a maximum of six months. The most famous of these was Cincinnatus who was so successful that he was offered the position for life which he declined, saying that no one man should have all of that power. This decision by Cincinnatus would be brought up by George Washington when he was offered the presidency for life, citing the same reason.
  • In 490BC, Persia invades Greece but is defeated at the Battle of Marathon. After the battle, a messenger ran to Athens to announce the victory and died from exhaustion. The distance he ran was approximately 26.2 miles.
  • Then in 480BC, the Persians tried again. This is the famous battle of Thermopylae and the 300 Spartans. While seemingly irrelevant, these two invasions and the damage wrought by the Persians to Greece would be the catalyst for revenge by the Greeks over a century later.

Scripture Readings for The Most Holy Trinity - Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

June 9, 2019 - I would like to use this week's column to introduce myself to all of you. This will allow me to preach about Pentecost this weekend as opposed to preaching about myself. I was born and raised in the northland of Kansas City, about 15 minutes from the airport. I attended Rockhurst High School and graduated in 2007 before heading to the University of Dallas to study history. My dream was to become a high school history teacher. However, after two years, I discerned that God was calling me to the seminary instead. I graduated from Conception Seminary College in 2011 and attended the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, OH. I was ordained on May 23, 2015; and my first assignment was to teach full time at Bishop LeBlond High School (don't worry, all of my shirts are going into storage). I taught there for three years and also coached the boys and girls soccer teams as well. So I have been to Chillicothe several times but only to the high school and only on the visitor's sideline. After three years, I was assigned to St. Therese Parish in Parkville, MO, the largest parish in our Diocese, as the associate. While there, I also helped a bit at St. Pius X High School, helping to coach their soccer teams as well (and those shirts are going into storage as well). While there, I coached against my former teams at LeBlond; and I mention this, not because I'm a turncoat, but because I'm fiercely loyal. And while it might be awhile before I'm wearing the red and black of the Hornets, know that I am very happy to be here and look forward to the many ways in which I can serve the great community that we have here. One final note: there will undoubtedly be some things that will change from what Fr. Kneib did and while some change is always expected, I do not intend any of it to be disruptive. There is always a reason for why I do what I do, which means if you ever have a question about it, you will get an answer. I pray that my tenure here is long and fruitful, and know of my prayers for all of you as we start this new journey together.

Scripture Readings for Pentecost - Acts of the Apostles2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23

A Duty Sanctioned - Parishioner Brenda O'Halloran has written a book based on the story of us. The book is entitled A Duty Sanctioned. You may read an excerpt by clicking on the book image here. We hope you will purchase your very own copy of the book to read in its entirety and to also help with this very worthwhile fundraising endeavor! TO ORDER: Contact Kim at the church office (email subject: Book Order). We prefer that you pick your order up at the church office, but mailing options are available (applicable shipping costs apply).

GUIDE TO OUR STATUES: A guide is available on this website to help you learn about the statues in the church. Mouse over the General Information tab at the top of any page to see a dropdown menu with a link to the guide or click here...

RESOURCES - Here are some resources available to aid us in being more knowledgeable about our faith. Please consider the following to determine which might be the best for you.

Flocknotes - an email service which sends a passage of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, gospels, or the diary of St. Faustina to you daily.

Magazines and Online Print - The following are available online and in print. Please click on the link or call the number to learn how to subscribe.

Notice of Allegations of Abuse - The diocese has received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by deceased Father Robert Cameron. This allegation was deemed credible by the Ombudsman following diocesan policy for response to allegations. The abuse occurred in 1963 when Cameron was teaching at St. Joseph Academy, and he was assigned as parochial vicar at St. Columban Parish, Chillicothe. While the diocese has not received any other accusations of child sexual abuse against Fr. Cameron, it has received several reports of abuse and harassment of adults, including seminarians, by Fr. Cameron. Cameron's parish assignments included St. Catherine, Kansas City; St. Patrick, Kansas City; St. Columban, Chillicothe; St. Thomas More, Kansas City; St. Mary, Independence, and Nativity of Mary, Independence. In addition, while on other assignments, Fr. Cameron lived in residence at St. Mark, Independence; St. Ann, Independence; Guardian Angels, Kansas City; Our Lady of Lourdes, Raytown, and Coronation of Our Lady, Grandview. Fr. Cameron further served as teacher at St. Pius X High School; St. Joseph Academy, Chillicothe; Notre Dame de Sion High School, and as principal at St. Mary High School, Independence. Fr. Cameron died in June 2015.

The diocese has also received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by deceased Father Sylvester Hoppe. The allegation dates from the time Hoppe served at St. Columban Parish from 1968-1971. The diocese received the first report of abuse by Hoppe in 2002. Hoppe was the subject of two lawsuits claiming child sexual abuse which the diocese settled in 2008. Several other allegations of child sexual abuse have been made against him. Hoppe's parish assignments included Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph; St. Rose, Savannah; St. Patrick, Forest City; St. Paul, Tarkio; St. Benedict, Burlington Junction; St. Columban, Chillicothe; St. Ann, Excelsior Springs, and Sacred Heart Norborne. He also served as diocesan director of Catholic Boy Scouts and as chaplain at St. Mary's Orphanage in St. Joseph. Hoppe retired in 1991 and died in 2002.

If you were harmed by Fr. Hoppe, Fr. Cameron, or any other person who has worked or volunteered for the diocese, no matter how long ago, the diocese wants to provide care and healing resources to you and your family. Please contact the Diocesan Ombudsman at 816.812.2500 if the abuse involves a priest, deacon, employee or volunteer of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Report suspicions of abuse:
1. Call the Missouri Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800.392.3738 (if the victim is currently under the age of 18), and
2. Contact your local law enforcement agency or call 911, and
3. After reporting to these civil and law enforcement authorities, report suspected sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult to the Diocesan Ombudsman at 816.812.2500 if the abuse involves a priest, deacon, employee or volunteer of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The Diocese has a sincere commitment to providing care and healing resources to victims of sexual abuse and their families. Please contact the Victim Advocate, Kathleen Chastain, at 816.392.0011 or for more information.

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