Posts Tagged ‘Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle’

NO “TEN LITTLE INDIANS”.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Agatha Christie, that marvelous writer of mystery fiction and plays once wrote for the stage a mystery play entitled “Ten Little Indians” about ten friends who gathered for a reunion and one by one they disappear, victims of murder perpetrated by some one among them. As in another of her dramatic mysteries entitled “The Mousetrap” she was clever enough to write several endings so that if you saw the play on Broadway and attempted to give the finale away to someone who was going to attend the play, there was a one in three chance that the ending would not be the same. Great stuff.

On Saturday last, I ordained ten married men to the order of deacon at St. Jude’s Cathedral in an ancient ceremony made new every time by the excitement and participation of those in attendance.

View of the Litany of the Saints from inside the Spirit FM 90.5 radio booth. Photo courtesy of John Morris.

View of the Litany of the Saints from inside the Spirit FM 90.5 radio booth. Photo courtesy of John Morris.

Prayer of Ordination over Mark Manko. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Prayer of Ordination over Mark Manko. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Prayer of Ordination over Jorge Suarez. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Prayer of Ordination over Jorge Suarez. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Prayer of Ordination over Elix Castro. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Prayer of Ordination over Elix Castro. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Prayer of Ordination over Joe Zucchero. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Prayer of Ordination over Joe Zucchero. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Prayer of Ordination over Glenn Smith. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Prayer of Ordination over Glenn Smith. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Prayer of Ordination over Tony Quattrocki. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Prayer of Ordination over Tony Quattrocki. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Prayer of Ordination over Ted Martin. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Prayer of Ordination over Ted Martin. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Prayer of Ordination over Steven Girardi. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Prayer of Ordination over Steven Girardi. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Prayer of Ordination over Greg Nash. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Prayer of Ordination over Greg Nash. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Prayer of Ordination over Frank DeSanto. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Prayer of Ordination over Frank DeSanto. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

For most of these men, and their wives, it was the culmination of eight long years of preparation, some first in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Institute and then in the deacon formation program.

The wives bringing the newly ordained deacons their stole and dalmatic. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

The wives bringing the newly ordained deacons their stole and dalmatic. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

While it is always a joy to see the pride and happiness on the faces of parents, grandparents and siblings when I am ordaining priests, it is even more of a “kick” to witness the same on the faces of spouses, children, and even parents of married men being ordained.

Seminarian Elixavier Castro greeting his father, the newly ordained Deacon Elix Castro. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Seminarian Elixavier Castro greeting his father, the newly ordained Deacon Elix Castro. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Newly ordained Deacon Glenn Smith offering the Blood of Christ to his father-in-law. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Newly ordained Deacon Glenn Smith offering the Blood of Christ to his father-in-law. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

We have a great diaconate program in this diocese and the formation is about as good as it can get given the first and overriding obligation of the candidate to his family. The path to priesthood is much longer, more intensive, and delves much deeper into the wonders and mystery of theology, scripture, and pastoral practice. But the four years of education and formation for these ten men was demanding and no small accomplishment, given their work and family responsibilities. Most of you who read this blog posting will encounter them on Sunday and when they are exercising their preaching office so I thought I would share my homily for the occasion with all of you. Men who get ordained in their own mind just to preach and teach do not comprehend the awesome nature of the order to which they have been ordained. But preaching is integral and should  be a small part of “witness.” Here is my homily for last Saturday and I hope it lived up to the high standard God’s people have a right to expect.

           Ten men supported by ten women have just responded that they are both present and willing to assume the ministry of deacon in our beloved Church. For each it has been a long journey and I am certain that on many occasions there must have been doubts in their minds as to whether or not this day would ever come. Well, dear brothers, never forget that on this, your ordination day, the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs will be playing their first game in the National League Championship Series. Who would have thought?

            This morning I wish to devote a few moments to a sacred trust, which will soon be yours – the gift of preaching that accompanies this ministry in the Church. Preaching is a privilege. It often defines our ministry. We can have the finest bedside or graveside manner but if we strike out in the twelve minutes or so that are ours on Sunday, we have likely failed in the exercise of one of the most important aspects of our ministry.

            Good preaching begins with four verbs: receive, believe, teach and practice. Put another way, as you will hear when I place the book of Gospels your hands: Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.

            The prophet Jeremiah in the first reading of your ordination received from God the task of preaching to a resistant people. Each of us should be like Jeremiah and doubt whether or not we are truly up to the task for we certainly are not worthy. Yet faith affirms that God has chosen us for this task. Each of us must receive and embrace this privilege with genuine humility, knowing that only God can open our lips and invade our hearts.

            We do not approach preaching operating from a tabula rasa. We preach from the experience of the Church in defining and developing its beliefs over the course of two plus millennia. It is not the duty of the deacon, priest, or for that matter even the bishop to share his own personal core beliefs but rather to adopt, adapt, and apply the insights of God’s people from Abraham to the last apostle as well as the understandings of the faith community to the present moment. Breaking open the Scriptures means wrestling every time we preach with a well-defined belief system and making application to the present moment. Trust me, this task is not easy, and success is not guaranteed by the grace of ordination but most likely born from an acquired ability of trial and error. You must share with God’s people to whom you preach timeless truth and also present reality. That struggle is mirrored every day in the Synod on the Family now meeting in Rome on this weekend of your ordination. It is not an easy task but it is an essential task.

            Preaching is teaching and not just proclaiming. The best teachers we have had in our lives have reached that status because they inductively led each of us to a conclusion that we likely could not have acquired on our own. No one in your congregation is going to learn just because you said it. They will learn when like the wise teacher you lead them on a journey of discovery to a point where they say, “ah, now I get it.” Pope Francis on several occasions has reminded us that more often than not, those to whom we preach are likely smarter than ourselves. And, successfully teaching through preaching, today, is more Montessori than Mueller. Apodictic, non-apologetic statements of perceived facts are dismissed by today’s well educated Catholics as simply one person’s opinion where a didactic teaching, breaking open of the word has a better chance of ultimately taking root.

            However, the best weapon to be found in the arsenal of effective preaching and proclamation is to be found in the witness of your own personal faith practice. God’s people know a genuine article when they see one and even more when they hear one. “You are the light of the world” today’s Gospel quotes Jesus as saying. Jesus did not say, “You are the voice of the world.” He was pointing out that example trumps words on most occasions and here, dear soon-to-be-deacons, you have an advantage over we non-ordained clerics. Your love for your wives and children should always be the “take away” from those whose lives you will soon touch in your ministry. Your wives have accompanied you in this journey with loving patience, generous support and constant encouragement. They preach so eloquently as you will by continuing to live fully your first vocational commitment – together for life, practicing what you preach, loving one another constantly as the prophet Micah says.

            Finally, as the second readings from Acts notes, the early Christian church and its leaders needed help. It needed assistants. It needed workers and not itinerant preachers. It needed lovers who could lead if they must but who were more interested in helping the members on the margins. So it chose seven whose task was not specifically preaching but rather doing the ministry of mercy. I think it can be fairly said in this moment in the life of the Church in the world as said in Acts, “brothers, select from you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Today we have ten such men and brothers, as important as preaching may be in your ministry, practice what you preach in the less glamorous but more grace-filled ministry of caring for those on the periphery of society and our Church.

With the ten new deacons and members of the Office of the Diaconate. Deacon Peter Andre, Deacon Greg Nash, Deacon Jim Grevenites, Deacon Joe Zucchero, Deacon Mark Manko, Deacon Steve Girardi, Deacon Ted Martin, Deacon Tony Quattrocki, myself, Deacon Frank DeSanto, Deacon Jorge Suarez, Deacon Glenn Smith, Deacon Elix Castro, Deacon John Alvarez, and Father Ralph Argentino. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

With the ten new deacons and members of the Office of the Diaconate. Deacon Peter Andre, Deacon Greg Nash, Deacon Jim Grevenites, Deacon Joe Zucchero, Deacon Mark Manko, Deacon Steve Girardi, Deacon Ted Martin, Deacon Tony Quattrocki, myself, Deacon Frank DeSanto, Deacon Jorge Suarez, Deacon Glenn Smith, Deacon Elix Castro, Deacon John Alvarez, and Father Ralph Argentino. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Maria Mertens, who superbly manages our diocesan website and use of digital/social media, has some spectacular pictures of the event beyond those shown within this text, which you can see here. You can watch the video replay of the ordination ceremony here.

These were not “ten little Indians” ordained last Saturday but the latest additions to a “tribe” of incredible deacon ministers in the diocese. Blessings on their ministry.

+RNL

THREE NEW “LINEMEN”

Monday, May 19th, 2014

In a week which witnessed this writer on an emotional roller-coaster, Saturday was a beautiful day of rejoicing and being glad.

Somehow, with God’s help, I squeezed the ordination of three new priests and two weddings into the daylight hours. Our Cathedral of St. Jude, newly remodeled, was the scene for the ordination as well as one of the weddings and the new space works magnificently.

Filled to over-flowing, the ordination ceremony is certainly the most beautiful liturgy at which any bishop presides. You can relive the two-hour and twenty-minute ceremony by watching the archived “livestream” replay of the ordination ceremony by clicking here.

Should you not wish to watch the whole ceremony, you may look at a few photos that I am including below (see more photos by clicking here). You may also read my homily on the occasion which is included below the photos (click here for a PDF version of my homily). However, if you wish to merely listen to the homily and neither watch it nor read it, that too is possible by clicking here. Isn’t technology amazing?

Deacons Jonathan Emery, Fabiszewski and Kyle Smith processing in at the beginning of Mass. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Deacons Jonathan Emery, Brian Fabiszewski and Kyle Smith processing in at the beginning of Mass. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

The Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle was full for this glorious occasion. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

The Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle was full for this glorious occasion. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Litany of Supplication (Saints).

Litany of Saints. Photo kindness of Mike Donovan.

Laying on of Hands upon Deacon Kyle Smith. Photo kindness of Mike Donovan.

Laying on of Hands upon Deacon Kyle Smith. Photo kindness of Mike Donovan.

Anointing the hands of Father Brian Fabiszewski with the sacred Chrism. Photo kindness of Mike Donovan.

Anointing the hands of Father Brian Fabiszewski with the sacred Chrism. Photo kindness of Mike Donovan.

Greeting Father Jonathan Emery during the "Kiss of Peace". Photo kindness of Mike Donovan.

Greeting Father Jonathan Emery during the “Kiss of Peace”. Photo kindness of Mike Donovan.

The new fathers at their seats among the priests while the congregation spontaneously applauds. Photo kindness of Mike Donovan.

The new fathers at their seats among the priests while the congregation spontaneously applauds. Photo kindness of Mike Donovan.

Liturgy of the Eucharist. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Liturgy of the Eucharist. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Father Brian Fabszewski, Father Jonathan Emery, myself, and Father Kyle Smith after their ordination to the priesthood. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Father Brian Fabszewski, Father Jonathan Emery, myself, and Father Kyle Smith after their ordination to the priesthood. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Ordinations to the Priesthood
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, Bishop of St. Petersburg
Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle
Acts 10:37-43; Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13; John 15:9-17

            Barely nine days ago, much of the attention of the nation seemed to be directed toward the annual National Football League draft. Countless commentators spouting off on who might be chosen first, second, and third in the draft all listed the following requisites: height, weight, size. This morning the Church of St. Petersburg’s annual “draft day” has all that going for it and far more.

For these three men there was no suspense about whether or not their names would be called; there certainly was no “money sign” given by any of the three a few moments ago when we signaled our pleasure at their generosity, courage and determination, and in thirty to forty minutes, each of these men will “don” our equivalent of the “team jersey” – the chasuble worn at Mass.

            Our new “offensive linemen” will not get monetarily rich either. Their agent, St. Paul, in lieu of telling them how much their life and talent is worth in worldly terms, instead “urged [them] to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Clearly this isn’t the football of Vince Lombardi. This is the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

            In our world, love trumps violence. These men came today with excellent coaching: by their parents, by the example of priests they came to know and admire; by women and men in formation who shaped their vision of vocation and service. They did not have to first go to Indianapolis, to try out, prior to being called. Brian, Jonathan and Kyle’s calls came much earlier in their lines, as we heard moments ago in the Gospel, “it was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain. . . .This I command you: love one another.” Quietly, humbly, patiently, persistently, presently, fully and completely, these three men are in a very real way laying down their lives for the friends of Jesus.

            And when they might wish to be watching football on a Saturday afternoon, they will more likely sit in the dim light of the confessional waiting for that someone who has not darkened the door of the same for years to arrive seeking the reassurance of God’s mercy and compassion.

          When they might wish to be watching football on a Sunday afternoon or spending time with their family at both the end and the beginning of a long week, they will instead be pouring the water of new life over the head of a child screaming as if he or she wants God in heaven to know that they are free of original sin, the devil’s grasp and now here present, in His Church.

          And in that daily split-second of Divine accomplishment when the bread and the wine, the body and blood of the Lord is raised aloft at the words of institution, at the Great Amen, or at the invitation to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, all eyes and all light will focus on the Eucharistic Lord, not the person of the celebrant. It’s a whole new world. It’s a whole new way of loving. It’s a whole new manner of self-giving. It’s not about us, no matter how long we have been waiting for the moment. It’s all about Jesus and his love for us. We cannot give what we do not have but what we have to share is worth spending the rest of our lives for.

           Today, then, is not draft day. Jesus took care of that nine years ago, or seven years ago when these men first entered the seminary. And today is not the Super Bowl either, for that moment of glory in the sun is all too fleeting. Luke’s words, quoting Peter in the first reading from Acts, capture the essence of this moment perfectly as he reminds us of: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.

            So Brian, Kyle and Jonathan, after invoking on you the assistance of the saints, laying my hands joined by those of the presbyters on your heads, and anointing your hands with the same Holy Spirit and power, you shall take your place at the altar of God. It’s absolutely amazing. After multiple years of preparing for, dreaming about, working hard for this moment, it will be over very quickly. But a wonderful, rich lifetime of ministry is only just beginning. Priesthood is more than just a moment. It is a way of life.

          Everything that the NFL, major league baseball, the New York Times and CNN or Fox and the media in general think are the true markers of success in life are merely passing idols. For you and me, for your brother priests, Jesus Christ is the constant and like him, as Pope Francis constantly reminds us, we must be humble, gentle, patient, forbearing messengers of his presence. Today and perhaps even tomorrow you and I are dressed in our finest. These are signs of celebrations, of a festive occasion but they are not what Christ would have worn today. We earn our stripes which identify who we are and what we do not by what we wear but how and to whom we minister.

            Brian and Kyle, please give me just a moment for a special word to Jonathan. Many here present today do not know that from the second to the sixth year of my priesthood I served as Rector/President of St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. For two of those five years I had a student named Robert Emery, Jonathan’s Dad. He was a larger man than even his son and at times he was even larger than life. He could be a handful. But Bob Emery was at his best when he was on his knees in the chapel and at prayer, often asking God if he should continue in the seminary perhaps not putting up with the likes of me. After I left St. John Vianney, he left the priestly pursuit and we did not meet again until twelve years later when I confirmed Jonathan and he told me, “this one has a true vocation.” I have thought about your Dad, bigger “Bob”, a lot these last couple of days, Jonathan, and I know he could not be prouder of this moment and the other good things which have happened to his family following his sudden, unexpected death seven years ago. I truly sense a presence among us this morning, a twelfth player, if you will, very proud for sure, but telling his son, it’s past time to get on with the rest of your life.

            Three great men present themselves to the Church today. But we reaffirm that there is, “one Lord, one faith; one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” This you can take to the bank: rejoice and be glad for this is the day the Lord has made!

Newly ordained celebrate what is somewhat inaccurately called their “First Mass” following the ordination rite and normally on the next day, Sunday. Father Kyle Smith left the cathedral, went home for a few minutes, and then was off to his parish church, Our Lady of the Rosary for his Mass on Saturday afternoon.

Father Kyle Smith celebrating his first Mass at his home parish of Our Lady of the Rosary in Land O' Lakes. Photo kindness of Ron Ludwin.

Father Kyle Smith celebrating his first Mass at his home parish of Our Lady of the Rosary in Land O’ Lakes. Photo kindness of Ron Ludwin.

 

Father Kyle Smith celebrating his first Mass at his home parish of Our Lady of the Rosary in Land O' Lakes. Photo kindness of Ron Ludwin.

Father Kyle Smith celebrating his first Mass at his home parish of Our Lady of the Rosary in Land O’ Lakes. Photo kindness of Ron Ludwin.

Click here to see more photos from Father Kyle Smith’s first Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish.

I did the same thing thirty-six years ago, having been ordained on the Saturday just prior to Pentecost and managed to get everything out of the way by sunset on the day of ordination itself. The other two priests celebrated their Masses on Sunday. Truth to tell, they actually concelebrate their first Mass with their bishop following the ordination rite itself but we all know what they mean when they invite you to their “First Mass of Thanksgiving.”

Father Jonathan Emery celebrating his first Mass at his home parish of St. Clement in Plant City. Photo kindness of Carol Rodriguez.

Father Jonathan Emery celebrating his first Mass at his home parish of St. Clement in Plant City. Photo kindness of Carol Rodriguez.

 

Father Jonathan Emery celebrating his first Mass at his home parish of St. Clement in Plant City. Photo kindness of Carol Rodriguez.

Father Jonathan Emery celebrating his first Mass at his home parish of St. Clement in Plant City. Photo kindness of Carol Rodriguez.

Click here to see more photos from Father Jonathan Emery’s first Mass at St. Clement Parish in Plant City.

Father Brian Fabiszewski celebrating his First Mass at his home parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Clearwater. Photo kindness of Wayne Clegg.

Father Brian Fabiszewski celebrating his First Mass at his home parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Clearwater. Photo kindness of Wayne Clegg.

 

Father Brian Fabiszewski celebrating his First Mass at his home parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Clearwater. Photo kindness of Wayne Clegg.

Father Brian Fabiszewski celebrating his First Mass at his home parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Clearwater. Photo kindness of Wayne Clegg.

Click here to see more photos from Father Brian Fabiszewski’s first Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Clearwater.

So now they are priests and are given some time to relax between seminary, ordination day, and reporting for their first assignment. The faithful parishioners of St. Cecilia, Our Lady of the Rosary, and Most Holy Redeemer will now have the task of “breaking them in” as their associate pastors and I am sure that these three communities, led by loving and hard-working pastors, will see to it.

But it will still be some days before the applause of gratitude and affirmation dies down in their memories, the love and pride of their families diminishes once again in commands to clear the family table or dry the dishes, or do your own laundry, the joy of their brothers already in priestly ministry subsides. Saturday was a great day for the ordained, for their families and friends, and for their bishop who badly needed such a wonderful moment. (Apropos of the difficulties of last week, please watch this space the next several days as I attempt in homiletic form and information source to share with you what I know and believe relative to the death of Father Vladimir Dziadek).

The country singer Glen Campbell, back in the age of dinosaurs when I was growing up, sang a song called “Wichita Lineman” which began with these words, “I am a lineman for the county. .  . .” Our three new priests are “linemen for Christ” and we wish them many happy, wonderful years of playing in the “big leagues” of ministry and service.

+RNL

EASTER 2014

Saturday, April 19th, 2014
THE BAPTISMAL MOMENT AT THE EASTER VIGIL

THE BAPTISMAL MOMENT AT THE EASTER VIGIL

Easter 2014 is almost history but I wish to share some final thoughts with you before we move on to this coming weeks canonizations of Blessed Pope John XXIII and Blessed Pope John Paul II which will take place next Sunday in Rome. Holy Week 2014 was special for me and will always be because we were finally in our new space at the Cathedral of St. Jude. Pictures of the Chrism Mass last Tuesday morning/afternoon show some of the magnificence of the new space for the liturgies which we held there but you almost had to be there to achieve the whole effect of how our architecture and rites can combine magnificently.

Our liturgies were wonderful beginning with Palm Sunday and journeying right through the Easter Vigil last night. The Cathedral choir is beginning to show the signs of excellence that I hope come with their renewed energy because of the space they now sing and praise in and Chris Berke, their director and our principal organist, prepared wonderful settings and music for the whole week.

Father Joseph Waters and Father James and Deacon John Shea backed by a hard-working staff largely of volunteers made space, action, and support into one mosaic of prayer and piety. I have a wonderful Master of Ceremonies for Cathedral events who has been at my side in one way or another for nineteen years almost, John Christian. He works with the young men and women who serve both as Cathedral altar servers and members of the “Bishops’ Corps”, present most of the time when I am there for major ceremonies.

I BAPTIZE YOU IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT

I BAPTIZE YOU IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT

At the Easter Vigil Mass, we were able to use the immersion baptismal pool for the first time and it was wonderful, for those being baptized who literally came up out of the waters and for the rest of us baptized who were more engaged than usual, I suspect, because of action and place being new and forceful. There were catechumens who were baptized, confirmed and made first Eucharist and candidates who having previously been baptized were confirmed, made first penance, and first Eucharist.

Finally, I want to share with you my homily last night at the Easter Vigil. Since the Fifth Sunday of Lent I have been repeatedly hitting the theme of the signs that accompany us on our journey to and through Holy Week to the tomb on Easter Sunday and how we need to pay as much attention to them as we pay to the universal signs like the red octagon which signals “STOP” everywhere in the world. They are the scriptural signs which God gives us along the way to help us on our journey of faith. I suspect that at least the priests of the cathedral will be happy when I move off this theme and onto something else in the days and months ahead but I like it when I can weave one major theme through many successive liturgical events.

NEW CATHOLICS - CATECHUMENS AND CANDIDATES NO MORE

NEW CATHOLICS – CATECHUMENS AND CANDIDATES NO MORE

Happy Easter to all. As Pope Francis pointed out in his Easter Vigil homily, Jesus invites all of us to journey again to our personal Galilees where we first met him and renew and strengthen our acquaintance. See you there?

HOMILY AT THE EASTER VIGIL
Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, Bishop of St. Petersburg

        Beloved sisters and brothers and tonight dearly beloved catechumens and candidates,

       For those soon to receive the Easter sacraments and indeed for all of us, a long journey is merely minutes from completion. We have heard the word that he has risen. We can leave Jerusalem soon and return to our homes secure in the knowledge that death has been overcome, evil conquered, and eternity secured because of the love of one man for us all.

       Like all long journeys, sometimes into less than certain realms, we have relied on directions and signs. Putting aside Garmin, Google, Microsoft and Apple, we have followed the path outlined in sacred scripture to get us to this moment. Scripture has taken us on this journey in recent days to Bethany and the home of Lazarus and Martha and Mary, to the main road leading into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to the Upper Room on Thursday night, to Pilate and Herod Antipas, to Golgotha and to tomb yesterday and tonight we are told by the angel that Jesus wishes us to once again take to the road and return to Galilee to meet with him once again.

      Wanting us never to wander too far afield, we have been given signs along the way. Tonight’s second reading told us of the journey into the countryside of Abraham and his beloved son in whom he and Sarah were well pleased and so happy. Abraham is willing to slaughter his long sought-after child to do the will of God the Father, but God spared him only to have God the Father choose not to spare his only begotten Son the death on a cross. It was meant as a sign and its significance only became clear tonight with the angel’s news.

      The third reading tonight told us of the journey of the Jews out of Egypt to freedom from slavery, to freedom of religion, to freedom to feed themselves from the land of both milk and honey, but reminded that a part of the human condition would sometimes seem like there was never enough.

      And the Gospel reading told us of the journey of the women to the tomb, suggested the sound of the giant stone being rolled back so that Jesus could exit and we, by the events of these days, would also be freed, free of our sins of pride and selfishness, free of the fear of death because now for the faithful people there is a clear alternative to nothingness called heaven and life with God and with the saints.

      For slightly more than forty-eight hours, all our weakness, all our fears, all our unanswered prayers, all our selfishness, all our anger, all our jealousy, all our hopelessness, all our directionless, all our lust, all our lies, all our prejudices, all our inclinations to slander and gossip, all our laziness in practicing our faith, all our weakness lay hidden, dormant, dead in that tomb – death seemed to have won, evil seemed to have triumphed, inhumanity seemed to have ruled over hope, kindness, generosity and forgiveness. But then that stone was removed revealing an empty tomb and each and every one of us was invited to come out and begin a new, in Him, and through Him and with Him. The stone rolled back from before the tomb becomes a sign of the invitation to embrace Christ more closely and live our life with Him more clearly, day by day. A journey which might have been expected to have ended has instead just begun anew, again, amen.

       How should we behave once again in the light of the day as Catholic Christians? What does our faith which should be strengthened by the journey we have taken with Jesus look like after Easter. We do have a choice. We can remain in the tomb and do little or nothing, or we can help others on their journey of faith while at the same time strengthening our own journey.

       In 1968 when this local Church of St. Petersburg was established as a diocese and this parish of St. Jude the Apostle was chosen as its first and only Cathedral, there was an organist, a director of music by the name of Carroll Thomas Andrews. He was forty-eight years old when he played and directed the choir for the installation of our first bishop. In the intervening years he composed beautiful liturgical music in the English and set it to equally beautiful score. He died and went home to God last Monday and was buried in a simple but elegant Liturgy of the Word and Final Commendation on Thursday morning. I share with you a story and a challenge given to all of us in attendance by his priest son, Father Greg Andrews. The words I am about to share with you were written by the fine historian Walter Lord whose two most famous works were A Night to Remember recalling the sinking of the Titanic and Day of Infamy about the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 when Andrews was twenty-two years old at Hickam Field on Oahu on that fateful day.

Pfc Carroll Andrews was one man with a definite objective. He and a buddy started off through the noncom housing area, running in short spurts between the strafing. Once they ducked into the kitchen of an empty house. Bullets ripped the stove, and they marveled at the splintering porcelain – it was the first time they realized how the stuff could shatter. On they ran, and then another interruption. This time it was a soldier who had seen Andrews playing the organ for Catholic services on the base. He asked Andrews to help him say the Catholic’s Act of Contrition. He explained that he had not been to Mass or confession for years and needed an emergency peace. Andrews stopped and repeated the words with him. They dashed on. Soon a Filipino woman ran up with a tiny baby. She too had seen Andrews in Church, and wanted him to baptize the baby. By now mildly exasperated, Andrews asked her why she did not do it herself. She said she was not sure how. So he went into another empty house, tried the kitchen faucets (they did not run), found a bottle of cold water, and baptized the baby. The mother burst into tears and ran off.

         None of us knows where our journey in faith may eventually take us what or our love of Christ may ultimately entail of us but this is how one man, one of our own, lived out his baptismal commitment on one fateful day. Next to the cross, it was for me this year the most potent sign I received of this Lenten season.

+RNL

HOLY WEEK AND THE BISHOP

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

As I begin to pen these words, it is “spy” Wednesday of Holy Week, the day when the Gospel reading at Mass prepares us for the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil) by reminding us of the treachery of Judas who sold his friend Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. I always have varied thoughts entering these most sacred of days which range from some discomfort with “bumping” the Rector and priests of the Cathedral parish from celebrating and preaching these days to the exhilaration and excitement of the Chrism Mass and the Easter Vigil.

Yesterday we had the annual Chrism Mass with an unexpectedly high attendance of 186 priests (we ran out of seats I am told), about 100 deacons, most of our seminarians (some are studying outside of the state or abroad and four who will be ordained to the transitional diaconate a week from Saturday were on their canonical (read that “required”) retreat, and a standing room only crowd in the Cathedral.

The magnificence of that new space for large ceremonies like yesterday’s was obvious to all in attendance.

Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

The Oil of the Sick, designated by the letters OI, is presented by a representative of those who minister to the sick or by someone who works in the healing profession. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

The Oil of the Sick, designated by the letters OI, is presented by a representative of those who minister to the sick or by someone who works in the healing profession. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

 

The Oil of Catechumens, designated by the letters OC or OS, is presented by a representative of those who minister in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults from each parish. Photo kindness of Jeanne Smith.

The Oil of Catechumens, designated by the letters OC or OS, is presented by a representative of those who minister in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults from each parish. Photo kindness of Jeanne Smith.

 

Consecrating the Sacred Chrism. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Consecrating the Sacred Chrism. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

The Liturgy of the Eucharist. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Invitation to Communion. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Invitation to Communion. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

My homily for the occasion is shown below (note that there is more blogging after the homily and you can read the homily as a PDF here) but I pulled a “popey” which is something like a “selfie” by departing from the text near the end to ask questions of segments of the congregation. For that you will need to watch the video replay which you can do by clicking here. As of this writing, about 1,300 people have watched the Chrism Mass online with about 700 watching live during the ceremony. The ability to share these moments with anyone who has the time, inclination and a computer or mobile device is wonderful. You can see more photos of the Chrism Mass here.

CHRISM MASS 2014
Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle
Tuesday, April 14, 2014
Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, Bishop 

            Once again we have heard the words of Isaiah, now so familiar to us. Twice in this Liturgy of the Word alone, every year at this Mass, quite often at our ordinations as priests and/or deacons, these familiar and haunting words of Isaiah are heard: “the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord, and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn. . .”

            In the Gospel passage this morning Jesus uses this passage from the great prophet when he returns very early in his public ministry to his home town, to his friends and family, to his Jewish co-religionists with whom for some thirty years he joined in the local synagogue to learn the law, approach its application to daily life, to challenge, to encourage, to fortify their faith. However,  one cannot fully embrace this passage from Luke’s Gospel without spending some time analyzing its context. The verses we have heard are easy enough. The total package of the passage is a “horse of another color.” It is worth, I believe, a moment or two of our time this morning.

            Situated early in Luke’s Gospel account, Jesus comes back home from his baptism in the Jordan, having survived his temptations in the desert and on the way back to Nazareth, beginning to preach and teach, to heal and to challenge – four important pillars of his public ministry. He does some of this in Galilee and word of his power, of his preaching, of his proclamations and of his presence elsewhere has already come to Nazareth. The town is waiting for him. His return home is a moment of great expectations. The locals want him to do the same things in Nazareth that he has done from Jerusalem to Jericho, to Capernaum. I can imagine the sentinels dispatched by the locals to announce his imminent arrival in Nazareth as he climbed from below sea level to his mountainside home village.

            When he preaches God’s word, challenges the locals to action, he disappoints. They want him to do for them what it has been said he has done for many others – give us a miracle or two Jesus, not just words. If you take time to read the very next verses of this famous passage and listen to the response of his own townsfolk as they turn from anxious anticipation to dangerous anger. It is produce, Jesus, or perish. They become so angry with him that they attempt to kill him but he slips away, likely never to return to family or friends in Nazareth. What could have been a moment of unity and reunion becomes instead a moment of threats and rejection, of jealousy and resentment, of criticism, carping and complaining. And that was the Lord’s early experience of ministry.

            Today the message and mission of those prophetic words from Isaiah remain the same, but the reception as well as the atmosphere is no less problematic. We are the bearers of the message, dear brothers. We are the deliverers of the mission. And if, at times, our audience seems out-of-touch with the Gospel of Joy which we try to live out, preach and deliver, the temptation can more easily turn to run, to anger and frustration at the worst and disappointment at best. Making Jesus Christ present, real, embraceable, believable, acceptable, even within our own faith community can be as difficult today as it was for Him on that return to his hometown. That is setting the Scriptural stage for the second and third part of this reflection I wish to share with you today.

            There is no day in the yearly calendar of the Church to rival this one for providing us a sense of unity in mission, commitment and fraternity.  It is the day when the greatest number of us gather during the year to concelebrate the Eucharist, recommit ourselves to our priestly ministry together, and to experience a sense of unity in the work of service. Nineteen times I have had the privilege of doing what I am doing right now, truly and always supported by your presence, your witness, our communal prayer of Thanksgiving. There is no other time when I feel more like being a servant leader, a bishop, than this day. For a little more than ninety minutes we set aside our individual identities, our ecclesial offices, our disagreements and disappointments and recall the intensity of our desire for service. We lose our identity and assume that of Jesus, healer, teacher, catechist, anointer, blesser, and source of hope, messenger of justice. And we are joined by a good segment of God’s people who love us, support us, assist us, lift us up when we fail or disappoint and sometimes even challenge us in ways once thought unimaginable.

            If I feel this unity annually on this occasion, I hope and pray that you do as well. We are in communion with Christ and with one another. There are moments in each year when we can sometimes share the feelings of the townsfolk of Nazareth. It is the dark side of the humanity of most of us all. But there is something about this Eucharist, which enlightens our ministry. Pope Francis on February 27, 2014 said this: brothers who love each other despite their differences in character, origin or age. . . this testimony gives birth to the desire to be part of the great parable of communion that is the Church. When a person feels that mutual love among the disciples of Christ is possible and is capable of transforming the quality of interpersonal relations, he/she feels called to discover or rediscover Christ, and opens to an encounter with the Living and Working One.[Pope Francis to Bishops and Friends of Focolare].

            Dear brothers, unity, patience, forbearance and, yes, even love are contagious. If we are to ultimately be successful in encountering and encouraging and accompanying others, it surely begins with us, here, now and when we leave this place for another year. We need to resolve to care for each other better. I will try in the time remaining to me.

            Finally, preaching the “Gospel of Joy” sometimes comes at a high price – not unlike the Nazareth experience of Jesus in the whole of Luke 4. Many of you have more years in the priesthood under your belt than I but in my thirty-six years of priestly ministry I have never felt the challenge, which I feel today, and it is coming from a man we hardly knew at this Mass a year ago.

            There is no part of my ministry that is untouched in the last thirteen months, from where and how I live, to whom I give central focus upon in my ministry, to what I assign pastoral priority, to how best to deliver. The world and in a special way our Church has quickly fallen in love with Francis because of how he lives out his life and ministry – simply, humbly, with Jesuitical clarity, with firm resolve, and living comfortably on planet earth as first among sinners ever needing and feeling the warmth of God’s mercy and kindness. He has set the bar high for we bishops. Nothing, which might once have been a treasured “perk”, is any longer to be treated as “sacred.” He is redefining episcopal ministry, which will quite quickly redefine priestly ministry.

            And just like in Nazareth, there is a certain “grumbling” to be heard in a few quarters. In a short time, he has given new strength and vitality to the three-fold challenge of this morning’s readings: you/we are fulfilling your ministry best when you leave the comfort of your safety zone to preach the Gospel to the poor; you/we are best when you/we devote more time to proclaiming release to those captive to sin, addiction, serious physical and psychological illness; when we help those who are spiritually blind see that God, the Church, we ministers love them more than we judge them; and we welcome back those who felt oppressed by anything which might be more of our creation than that of the Creator.

            I close by appropriating the words written by Peggy Noonan for a former president of my generation, changing them only slightly: there is a new dawn breaking over the Church. Some of us will not live to see the high noon which this new day heralds, but I, and I hope you do as well, thank God that my ministry, your ministry has survived whatever darkness we may have felt enveloped our hopes and dreams and have lived to witness this dawn. For with Francis, and through Francis, and, yes, even under Francis , we can affirm this morning that ours is a great Church, capable of stirring the imaginations of many and embracing all. That, or so it seems to me, is today’s “spirit of the Lord which is among us.”  What a great Church to which we have devoted our lives.

Following the Chrism Mass, my Clergy Personnel Board met for the rest of the afternoon. It is that time of the year.

For the last couple of years, I finally adopted some advice given to me long ago by one of my “hero-bishops”, Bishop Anthony Pilla, (retired bishop of Cleveland) and allow the Board to meet by themselves to discuss the changes. The discussion is led by my wonderful Vicar General, Monsignor Robert F. Morris. When they have “shuffled the deck” and are ready to show the “cards” they call for me to recommend the changes they have been able to determine.

I then approve or raise questions and concerns and when there is unanimous consensus among us, I begin to call the pastors who will be affected. Sometimes the call is easy and that is the case when someone has put in writing their interest in being assigned to an opening. We “bulletin” our parish vacancies most of the time as they become open so priests can, if they wish, show interest. However, sometimes we must ask someone who is comfortably positioned and serving their parish well and ask them for the good of the whole church to accept a change of assignment. To the credit of our good priests who find themselves in this unexpected predicament, I normally do not have to play the “obedience” card. Often sadly, somewhat reluctantly, they accept the new assignment. Those are tough phone calls.

Some lay people in the parishes are consulted in the process and they usually are the staff, the parish finance and pastoral councils, the school administrators, etc. Unlike some of our Protestant sisters and brothers, the Catholic Church does not engage congregations per se in choosing their ordained leadership. At the end of the afternoon yesterday, I was weary. Pumped by the Chrism Mass and sad about the work which followed. Show me any bishop who loves moving priests around and I will find a psychiatric ward that might help him. Too many lives are at stake.

Today (Wednesday) is quiet and tomorrow evening starts the Triduum with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The priests who will concelebrate with me tomorrow night and I will first go to a neighborhood Italian restaurant and then move to the Lord’s table. By 8:30pm we should be finished at the Cathedral and then I make a round of the parishes for private prayer in the places of reservation which follow the Holy Thursday liturgy until around midnight. I will try to continue these thoughts on Good Friday when I have the morning free.

Try to join your faith community at all or as many of the ceremonies of the Triduum you can make. You won’t regret it.

+RNL

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Monday, March 24th, 2014

I am giving an anniversary party this Saturday morning, March 29, 2014 and you are all invited.

It will be held at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg beginning at 9:00 a.m. and will end no later than 1:00 p.m. What’s the occasion, you ask?

2014_Sacred_Liturgy_Poster_8.5x11

Last December the universal Church celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the first document to emerge from the Second Vatican Council entitled Sacrosanctum Concilium. We know it better as the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” and it was to change, rather quickly; some might say too quickly, the manner, language and style of Catholic worship.

Out, or so it seemed, went the use of Latin as the universal language of the liturgy; gone, or so it seemed went much of the music which Catholics of my age and generation had grown up with. The seeming mystery of sacred action taken by the priest with his back to the congregation quickly gave way to moving and shifting altars so that suddenly the priest was facing the people and they, in turn, were encouraged to full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy.

I am absolutely certain that had the Council fathers not seen to the reform and renewal of the sacred liturgy there would be far, far fewer Catholics in the pews today than we currently enjoy.

Over the intervening fifty years, there have been some horrible moments (the introduction of so-called “clown” liturgies being the absolute pyrogee) and some pretty bad music. But those were the early years and over five decades the liturgy of the Eucharist has become more ritualized than in the beginning and while, when one travels throughout the world, Mass can be attended in the many languages of humanity, it has morphed into a celebration which has nourished the mind and spirit as well as the soul with the reception of our Blessed Lord.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory. Photo kindness of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Michael Alexander.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory. Photo kindness of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Michael Alexander.

At this Saturday’s “anniversary party”, I have asked Archbishop Wilton C. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta and himself a holder of an advanced degree in Liturgy, to review in a keynote address the evolution of the Mass from what it was fifty years ago prior to the Council to the best of the present moment.

The Archbishop did this for the nation’s bishops last November at our meeting in Baltimore and I knew then that we could all benefit from listening to him as he recounts how far we have come from those early days. We are graced to have the Archbishop with us next Saturday morning.

Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond. Photo kindness of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond. Photo kindness of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

To look into what the future of liturgy may hold, I have asked Archbishop Gregory Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans, to give the follow up address. Archbishop Aymond has just completed three years as chairman of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship and the Liturgy and knows well what is being contemplated for the future.

Liturgical renewal is a constant process that should never end as long as there is life on this planet. For example, the prayers which priests, deacons and some religious pray each day, The Divine Office, has not been touched since the 1970s and is currently under study. So is the form for some of the other sacraments, several of them for the first time in fifty years. Archbishop Aymond will give us a peek into the future in his talk.

This local Church is very lucky that both of these men so generously will give of heir time to be among us and share with us the blessings of the first fifty years of the renewed liturgy as well as what it portends for the future. I am personally grateful for their willingness to accept my invitation to enlighten us next Saturday.

I hope we fill the Cathedral. Morning prayer will begin at 9:00 a.m., coffee and donuts will be available at the break between the two talks and, best of all, there is NO CHARGE for the morning. Consider it an anniversary gift from me to you!

Visit www.dosp.org to register (so we know how much coffee and donuts to provide) and please share this invitation with those who might not regularly read this blog.

+RNL

IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

On Christmas eve I celebrated three Masses for Christmas around the diocese as has been my custom almost every year since coming in 1996. I try for the first Vigil Mass for Christmas to go north in the diocese since they often feel left out on many things.This year I was the celebrant and homilist for the 400pm Vigil Mass at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Citrus county. At almost every parish in the diocese, the first Mass on Christmas eve targets children and families and this was no exception. The parish is largely a retirement community so there are not an awful lot of children to begin with but add to their number the grandchildren and nieces and nephews who travel at Christmas and we had about forty kids between the age of 3 and 7. I invite them to come forward to the altar after the Gospel proclamation and there I tell them my favorite Christmas story. Here are some of the pictures from the Mass yesterday afternoon.

Mostly all ears!

Mostly all ears!

 

Land the plane, Bishop. one of the kids was thinking

Land the plane, Bishop. one of the kids was thinking

 

With special thanks to Father Ryszard Stradomski. gracious host and splendid pastor of St. Benedict parish

With special thanks to Father Ryszard Stradomski. gracious host and splendid pastor of St. Benedict parish

With  barely two hours to spare, seminarian Joseph Plesco who was driving for me last night as well as assisting in the ceremonies and I left for ninety mile trip to Nativity parish, Brandon. I wanted to go there because Christmas is, after all, the feast of the Nativity for birth of our Lord and they had a scheduled Spanish Mass for 730pm, giving me time to celebrate the Mass and be back in St. Petersburg with time to spare prior to the Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of St. Jude.  So off we went to Brandon.

Nativity is our largest parish in the diocese and from its inception under the pastoral guidance of Monsignor Jaime Lara, retired and still very much a force major, Nativity has always been a happy home for and mixture of the Hispanic as well as Anglo cultures. It produces the greatest number of vocations for the diocese and is known for its excellent liturgies. Last night was no exception, except maybe for the principal celebrant whose Spanish sometimes cries out to heaven for vengeance.

About 800 people came for Mass in the Main Church while another 800 attended Mass in English in the parish hall. With full choir and my discovering my voice once again, we sang the newborn Christ Child into life.  The liturgy was reverential yet lively, congregation fully participating and the celebrant singing away in Spanish. Sometimes I do find I make less mistakes singing the Mass parts in Spanish than in simply reciting them because I go much slower when musically inclined.

Here are some pictures from the liturgy in Spanish a Nativity. A last minute decision was made to have Father Nelson Restrepo preach the homily whiles yours truly at the end invited the children between 3 and 7 years old to come forward for a second retelling of my favorite Christmas story. Once again the kids “got into it” and their parents also full participated.

IMG_9351

By the time Midnight Mass had begun at the Cathedral I had failed to hand my camera over to anyone to take pictures of that beautiful setting. But if you wish to see the whole Mass, you are in luck. Simply log on to www.dosp.org and click on “Click here to watch Christmas Midnight Mass at the Cathedral.” You and those lucky people will not and did not hear my favorite children’s Christmas story.

I write these thoughts with two hours remaining in Christmas of 2013. I am exhausted and going to bed but there will be least two more posts before we call 2013 a wrap. Merry Christmas all.

Bishop Robert N. Lynch aka +RNL

THE STRIFE IS OVER, THE BATTLE WON

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

As most readers know by now, the remodeled Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle was dedicated to the glory of God last Thursday night, September 12 before a full-house of representatives of all the parishes in the diocese, the Cathedral parish itself, and several hundred bishops, priests and deacons.

Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle Dedication Mass

Processing in at the beginning of Mass. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

It was a beautiful liturgy with extraordinary music and actions allowing the magnificence of what was taking place to shine forth, even in the darkness.

Blessing the new Baptismal font. Photo kindness of Dana Rozance.

Blessing the new Baptismal font. Photo kindness of Dana Rozance.

 

Blessing the new Altar. Photo kindness of Dana Rozance.

Blessing the new Altar. Photo kindness of Dana Rozance.

 

"The lighting of the altar, which is followed by the lighting of the church, reminds us that Christ is "a light to enlighten the nations;" his brightness shines out in the Church and through it in the whole human family." (DC, No. 16d) Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

“The lighting of the altar, which is followed by the lighting of the church, reminds us that Christ is “a light to enlighten the nations;” his brightness shines out in the Church and through it in the whole human family.” (DC, No. 16d) Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

If you were unable to attend, missed it on the live stream video and would like to see more of that evening, our diocesan website has the whole video of the Liturgy of Dedication and several hundred beautiful pictures on it for your review.

Here are some things which might or might not be of interest to you:

(1) The “certificate of occupancy” required from the City of St. Petersburg prior to any public usage was granted at about 10:00am on Dedication Day. (Whew!)

(2) The Cathedral renovation was completed with the successful installation of the “ambo” at 4:35pm prior to the opening of the doors at 6:00pm for the liturgy (double “Whew!)

Wheeling in the ambo at 3:45pm. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Wheeling in the ambo at 3:45pm. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

(3) The first Mass after the Dedication Liturgy was celebrated at 8:30am on Friday for the children of the school who, with a keen architectural eye, proclaimed it, “Cool!”

(4) The first two funerals were celebrated Saturday morning for two long-time members of the Cathedral parish. Their liturgies were slightly delayed by the families precisely so their loved ones could be buried after a Mass in the renovated Cathedral.

(5) The presence of the papal nuncio to the United States was a”gift” as I fully expected him to understandably say that it would be impossible for him to accept invitations to blessings and dedications but he was present and we enjoyed having him with us.

Most Reverend Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.A., giving his remarks before the final blessing. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Most Reverend Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.A., giving his remarks before the final blessing. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

(6) Lightning struck the control tower at Baltimore-Washington airport (BWI) that afternoon causing the cancellation of the flight of Bishop Frank Dewane who along with a very good friend of mine serving with the bishop on the Board of Catholic Relief Services were unable to be present. Except for Bishop Dewane understandably, all the bishops of Florida were present (and a few others from around the country).

With all of the bishops and archbishops in attendance after the Mass. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

With all of the bishops and archbishops in attendance after the Mass. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

(7) A very warm “welcome home” was given to the third bishop of St. Petersburg and my predecessor, Archbishop John C. Favalora, who was quite taken by what had been done to his former Cathedral Church.

Archbishop John C. Favalora, myself, and Father Joseph Waters, rector of the Cathedral after the Mass. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Archbishop John C. Favalora, myself, and Father Joseph Waters, rector of the Cathedral after the Mass. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

(8) Contrary to rumors circulating in certain sectors of the blogosphere, the tabernacle remain in the same relative place in the Cathedral but was given far more highlighting than in the past, was restored and replated and looks stunning. One should not believe much of what is written in certain elements of the Catholic blog world.

Inaugurating the refurbished tabernacle and new chapel space where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Inaugurating the refurbished tabernacle and new chapel space where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

From my own episcopal ordination ceremony through the present moment, I have always been proud of our diocesan liturgies and this was no exception. At a time when other dioceses and archdioceses have cut back or eliminated their offices of Worship, I have believed that the office of bishop, which specifies the sanctification of his people, requires a well-staffed office with well-trained people.

The dedication liturgy was flawless, beautiful and followed the “mind of the Church” as specified in the documents to the letter. I take this moment to express again and publicly my gratitude to the Office of Worship and to the Diocesan Liturgical Commission for all their work throughout the last seventeen and a half years, especially last Thursday night.

Likewise the music was outstanding and appropriate to the occasion. Many thanks are due to Cathedral Music Director Chris Burke, Cathedral Assistant Director of Music Jo Mabini Greene, and Dr. William Pitcher, former Cathedral Music Director who returned to the Cathedral from Orlando to help with the evening’s music, and to the seventy-plus voice choir and the instrumentalists.

The wonderful Diocesan choir! Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

The wonderful Diocesan choir! Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Dedication day was a massive undertaking and a committee of highly talented people spent months preparing for it. Well done covers it all!

Finally, to Father Joseph Waters, Cathedral Rector, I reserve the final place of honor in closing this chapter of diocesan history. He ably led the final planning and construction phase while shepherding his parish gathering in the school hall for fifteen months. An occasional glance in his direction last Thursday night assured me that he was pleased and proud of all he had accomplished and well he should have been.

So, no more reports on St. Jude Cathedral in this space. It has been mostly a wonderful “ride” and thanks to all.

+RNL

NAILBITER

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

It’s Sunday night at seven o’clock in St. Pete. The four p.m. NFL football games are winding up and NBC’s Sunday Night Football America is beginning its way-too-long pre-game show. I think including Friday personally I have spent twelve hours total gathering tile dust on my previously immaculate black suit and have been through three black clergy shirts.

These days have had their ups and downs  in the final construction phase and some “command decisions” have required my presence and that of Father Joseph Waters, the Cathedral rector.

Instead of a long verbal commentary, I thought I would morph into being a photojournalist for this final, pre-dedication visit to the job site. All the pictures except the last one were taken with my personal camera by “yours truly” and since I suffer from at times serious moments of tremors, only God knows what these will look like if you click on them to enlarge them for greater detail.

So here goes, +LYNCH, THE PHOTOJOURNALIST:

The main altar was set in place also on Friday and this is a view of the sanctuary looking out into the name or what one would see after arising from a few moments of Eucharistic adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle.

The main altar was set in place also on Friday and this is a view of the sanctuary looking out into the name or what one would see after arising from a few moments of Eucharistic adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle.

 

The "portal" to sinlessness showing the Baptismal Font flanked by two confessionals on their side of the entrance. "Open to me, O Lord, thegates to holiness."

The “portal” to sinlessness showing the Baptismal Font flanked by two confessionals on their side of the entrance. “Open to me, O Lord, thegates to holiness.”

 

Entering the Cathedral through its main, East entrance one will be greeted by this view across the expanse of the nave to the west exit.

Entering the Cathedral through its main, East entrance one will be greeted by this view across the expanse of the nave to the west exit.

 

The new main stained glass window was installed by artist David Wilson and his son on Friday. This is what I was able to capture from the side.

The new main stained glass window was installed by artist David Wilson and his son on Friday. This is what I was able to capture from the side.

 

Same window, within a minute of the photo to the left but seen from the outside.

Same window, within a minute of the photo to the left but seen from the outside.

 

Looking from just in front of the choir area down the nave to the sanctuary, the altar, chairs, and altar of reservation.

Looking from just in front of the choir area down the nave to the sanctuary, the altar, chairs, and altar of reservation.

 

The mighty Wurlitzer (oops, Rogers organ console is shrink-wrapped and ready to go. Note the placard announcing its destiny on top: "SOLD"

The mighty Wurlitzer (oops, Rogers organ console is shrink-wrapped and ready to go. Note the placard announcing its destiny on top: “SOLD”

 

From the Studio in Ortesi in the Dolomite region of northern Italy, the four great medallions depicting the four great evangelists by their traditional symbols: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

From the Studio in Ortesi in the Dolomite region of northern Italy, the four great medallions depicting the four great evangelists by their traditional symbols: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

 

The hand carved Stations of the Cross were hung today but are here on the marble floor of the sanctuary awaiting placement Corey.

The hand carved Stations of the Cross were hung today but are here on the marble floor of the sanctuary awaiting placement Corey.

 

Rainbow over the Cathedral on the evening of September 4. Photo kindness of Kitty Labrador.

Rainbow over the Cathedral on the evening of September 4. Photo kindness of John Fox III.

AND ON THE TWELTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

Friday, August 30th, 2013
The east side of the Cathedral of St. Jude twelve days before dedication

The east side of the Cathedral of St. Jude twelve days before dedication

Everyone involved in the task of completing the remodeling of our Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle is acutely aware that today (Saturday, August 31) we are just twelve days away from D-Day (that’s “Dedication Day”). I am confident that we will be ready in time and I place my trust in our patron, the patron saint himself of what seems at times like lost causes.

The outside landscaping and paving should be finished by Friday of next week and inside the floor will be totally tiled and the marble applied. The number of crafts and workmen inside seem to be diminishing which is a good sign, especially if one has to lay floor. Final inspections are being given and hopefully a “certificate of occupancy” will be given by the end of the week. But, some people around me are on edge, nervous, worried, anxious. For me, it is “que sera, sera.”

Looking better I think you will have to admit

Looking better I think you will have to admit

I am often asked, well at least twice a year, what is the most beautiful and satisfying liturgical event at which a bishop presides. Ordinations have the first place in my heart (and mind) but dedicating churches is a close second. The liturgy of the Church for such an occasion, if it is done well, is absolutely stunning. All of the senses of the human body are attacked at one time or another from touch to sight to smell to hearing. I have always insisted that the dedications which I preside at of new or extensively remodeled churches be done at or near twilight. We can sometime sit in a dimly lit Church while major liturgical action unfolds before us. Let me lead you through the ceremony because the chances are you have never attended a dedication of a church and/or a consecration of a new altar.

If I am dedicating a totally new Church building, we always begin in the old worship space which is always massively cramped and close quarters. Here, after an introductory greeting, the architects present to the pastor and myself the drawings or plans, the contractor present the keys to the new building, and the bishop leads the people in procession to the new Church where the pastor unlocks the doors and invites the people inside. That may take fifteen to twenty minutes depending on size of the crowd and how long it takes them to find a seat in their new Church. Then the bishop enters and goes first to the baptismal font, blessing it and the water it contains. He then often with the assistance of the pastor and deacons, sprinkles the walls and the people with the water which should remind the latter at least of their day of initiation into Christ’s church. When he reaches the sanctuary, he blesses the bare altar with holy water for it has not yet been consecrated or used for Eucharist. Taking his seat the Gloria is sung followed by the opening prayer. At the end of the prayer, a lector approaches the bishop who presents him or her with the lectionary from which the Word of God is to be proclaimed. The Old Testament reading, responsorial psalm and New Testament reading are then either proclaimed or sung. The deacon of the Gospel then approaches the bishop for a blessing and processes with the Gospel book to what we call the “ambo” or lectern. Following the Gospel, there is a homily after which the ceremony, now performed in lengthening shadow and greater darkness begins in earnest.

The Profession of Faith (aka “Creed”) is said but there are no intercessory prayers because the Litany of Saints will be sung. A special prayer for the dedication is said or sung by the bishop which is a sign of the intention  to dedicate the Church to the Lord for all times and a request for the Lord’s blessing. The bishop then removes his outer vestments and takes the Sacred Chrism which has itself been consecrated at the annual Chrism Mass on Tuesday of Holy Week and pours a copious amount of it on the top of the altar. Then using both hands, he spreads this precious and special oil over the entire top surface of the altar. The aromatic perfume which was added to the olive oil at the Chrism Mass can usually then be smelled throughout the entire Church. The altar then becomes for us a symbol of Christ who Himself was called the anointed one. Then joined by and with the assistance of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Vigano and by Archbishops Wenski and Favalora, we go out into the Church and anoint the walls in twelve places (three places for each one of us) where a cross has been placed on the wall and a candle lit, thereby signifying that this building is to be used totally and entirely for worship.

The sanctuary floor in the final stages of preparation to receive the marble

The sanctuary floor in the final stages of preparation to receive the marble

The altar and the entire Church is then incensed but only after the People of God are first incensed. We are still in semi-darkness and probably one hour and fifteen minutes into the ceremony. The women of the Cathedral will bring up the linen and will dress and prepare the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist. Flowers will be put into place where appropriate and all in attendance will be lighting individual candles (pastors usually hate this part because they envision wax everywhere on the new pews!) Servers will light the candles around the altar and with each person holding a candle, the church will be mostly illuminated by tiny flame until finally all the lights in the Church are turned on. The preparations are complete, the altar consecrated and it is time for the Eucharistic portion of the Mass to begin.

At the end of the distribution of communion, the bishop will take the remaining Eucharist in procession to the tabernacle for the first time where it will repose until needed the next day. Music, chant, reflections of the musical cultures of ethic groups living and worshipping in the diocese will guarantee that there is likely no moment when one is either not praying or praying by singing. Next week, in the final of these preparatory blog entries I will introduce you to who will be participating in this liturgy of dedication but again I remind you that if you are minimally computer savvy, you can watch the entire ceremony which will be live-streamed on the diocesan website.

So twelve days from now we will give back to our true love, the Lord our God, the fruit of the labor of many, the vision of a few, and a gift for the future. Stay tuned.

+RNL

THREE WEEKS BUT WHO’S COUNTING

Friday, August 23rd, 2013
The Dome with the new windows depicting the rising of the sun to its setting

The Dome with the new windows depicting the rising of the sun to its setting

I think the pictures which accompany this blog entry will show significant progress toward completion but there are still a ton of things to be done before dedication.

One of the more interesting aspects of this project has been the almost total absence of criticism from the people who will use the space the most – the parishioners of the Cathedral. A year or so ago a blog took aim at the project and at me and unlike this present effort, that space allowed for published comments. At the time all we had was an “architects rendering” which showed me regaled in mitre and holding the crosier (staff) talking with three women in front of the first pew. The difference between the rendering and the reality will be the difference between night and day, however.

Back to the subject – one of the comments came from an alleged Cathedral parishioner who was less than thrilled with what was being proposed but he did offer this thought: “as far as destroying something already beautiful, there really is not much beautiful in the Cathedral for this bishop to destroy!” That was something of a backhanded compliment but I’ll take it.

The parishioners of St. Jude’s are getting a place for their daily and weekly worship which meets the recommendations for church architecture and often exceeds them since the Second Vatican Council. It meets all the recommendations of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, latest edition, and the best practices of the last five decades. The space will encourage the “full and active participation” of those in attendance with the sacred action in the sanctuary. If a person is a devotee of the Latin Mass (extraordinary form as it is now referred to) they will not like what we have done. BUT, the Cathedral is home in its daily Mass chapel to weekly celebrations of the Mass in the extraordinary form so not much will change for these 125 or so people.

We did not conduct a massive fundraising campaign to restore, renew, or radically alter something profoundly beautiful. I love St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York city and my friend, its archbishop, Cardinal Dolan is spending two hundred million on fixing it and restoring it. St. Jude’s was never in contention with St. Patrick’s or any other Gothic wonder. It was originally designed as a parish Church. At Sunday Mass, there were three different communities and never the twain did meet. One group could not see the other and some could not see much of anything.

Notice the colors in the new transcept windows with the ambient light coming from the outside

Notice the colors in the new transcept windows with the ambient light coming from the outside

But it had its moments, architecturally, also. The dome was distinctive. The light from the outside was representative (of Florida). The tabernacle was beautiful. And the marble communion rail did exactly what it was partly designed for, marked a perimeter for “no lay woman’s or man’s land.” The statues saw some visitation and there was little stained glass, save for small windows in the dome which could not be easily seen from anywhere in the Church and other stained glass at the front of the Church and the two side transcepts. None of those windows contained any religiously significant depiction of the life of Jesus, Mary or any of the saints. Cathedral parishioners, I believe, will find that we have saved some of the nicer things from the original place of worship like part of the communion rail which will offer a place for people to kneel in private prayer before the original tabernacle, the corpus from the original crucifix, etc.

Same windows but now from the outside with low level illumination inside.

Same windows but now from the outside with low level illumination inside.

What they will be gaining is a closer sense of the sacred action in which they are participating, better sound and sightlines, easier access to and from the reception of the Eucharist, the ability to touch the large cross in the sanctuary as well as the stations of the cross, a small chapel with a new statue in wood of our patron saint to pray before when all else seems to be lost as well as a small chapel with a reminder of the price one women and her son paid for our salvation, and glass which changes color with the ambient light of the day so that on any given Sunday, it will likely not be exactly the same color for any Mass. Priest and people praising God in the celebration of the source and summit of our faith.

We did not have the money for gargoyles or gothic spires, gold and silver, doric or Roman columns. But, what we will have at the end of this project is something which will reflect the life of this local Church fifty years after the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on the Sacred Liturgy.

I hope and pray that those few naysayers at the beginning of the project will be amazed and edified at what has been done to their Church, that it has become a truly beautiful place with equally beautiful objects, that their children will receive the grace of new life in Christ in a real baptismal pool and not simply something that imitates a “bowl”, that their children will receive their first communion and confirmation and perhaps even stand inside the great sanctuary for the wedding day, that a new generation of priests will rest on a marble floor as the intercession of the saints is sung over and around them, and that this bishop and others who follow will on the last time their earthly body is brought into this church, rest in peace on the same  floor and spot where they were ordained. The “circle of life” in faith will be the home for the people of St. Jude’s. I hope they especially will love it. They have been wonderfully patient during their “exile” to the parish hall for the last fifteen months and understanding of the inevitable dirt and mud which accompanies construction of this scope and size. Soon their pastor will lead then across the Jordan and back to the “promised land” and they journey through the desert will be forgotten and give way to a great sense of pride, in place, in faith, in vision, in worship, in community. Sixty one years after its inauguration, this parish will begin its new life. We are counting on it as well as the days remaining.

+RNL

Some more “in progress photos.”

What was formerly the east transept - all pictures taken on Friday, August 22, 2013 by the writer

What was formerly the east transept – all pictures taken on Friday, August 22, 2013
by the writer

 

A view of the pews, columns and ambulatory

A view of the pews, columns and ambulatory

 

Final preparation of the main window in the Church which will at the rear and right behind the tabernacle. Stained glass to be installed beginning September 5th - ouch!

Final preparation of the main window in the Church which will at the rear and right behind the tabernacle. Stained glass to be installed beginning September 5th – ouch!