The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Sunday, June 01, 2003
More Travel St. Louis in the morning. I have an HRI meeting to attend. I will be back in Chicago on Tuesday.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 7:21 PM link
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Cantors and such

There is a very funny post over at
Confessions of an Accidental Choir Director.

At the parish where I served as Pastor for seven years we once had a pretty famous musician who served as choir director. He would give little homilies in his "warm-up" of the assembly. Often I mentioned to him that it was my job to give the homilies, and once I had to contradict him in my homily. Once, a musical selection he used contradicted Catholic belief on the Eucharist. I ended up preaching on the lyric as a reflection of how fuzzy our expressions of faith can be. I was very happy he resigned. By the time I left the parish I felt the music ministry was beginning to be a reflection of what the church desired. We were definitely moving from entertainment to worship. I was disappointed on returning to the parish once and seeing the entertaining cantor planted firmly in front.

I am still convinced that the microphone is the worst thing that ever happened to Catholic worship. There is absolutely no reason for a cantor singing the opening hymn into the microphone especially if the song is well chosen and the assembly knows it. Why would we ever pick a hymn the congregation does not know for opening hymn?

For more on this read the document that once described the thinking behind the music ministry at the parish. There a few things to note about the document. It is two years old. My email address is different, and my thinking has developed and changed a bit.

More on this can be found in a past discussion on Fr. Rob's Blog.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 6:45 PM link
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Handling Serpents

This has been posted here before since it is the gospel for the Feast of St. Gaspar as well as part of the Gospel text for today's Mass, The Feast of the Ascension.

Mark 16:15-18
Jesus appeared to the eleven and said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents (with their hands), and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

Here is St. Gregory's commentary on the text.
There are certain things concerning these signs and wonders which we should carefully consider. Each day the Church does spiritually that which she then did corporeally by the hands of the apostles. For when her priests giving the grace of exorcism lay hands on those who believe, and forbid the unclean spirits to dwell in their souls, what is it they do but cast out devils? And the faithful, who have put aside the speech of the world and speak of holy things, are speaking with new tongues. While they who by their pious encouragement draw evil out of the hearts of others take up serpents. And when they hear evil counsels, and yet are not drawn to evil doing, they drink a deadly thing, and it shall not hurt them. And they who as often as they see their neighbor grow lax in doing good strengthen them by the example of their own good works, lay their hands upon the sick that they may recover. And the more spiritual are these wonders the greater are they; and the greater they are the more, by means of them, not bodies but souls are restored to life.

And here is a summary of my homily given then:

In many ways, the text we use today is an obscure text. Many of the commentators ignore it. Often they dismiss it as a later addition to the gospel of Mark. The theory being that the early disciples were unhappy with the ending of Mark’s Gospel at 16:8 and many communities strove to complete it with various summaries. The best the commentator can say is that it is consistent with passages found in the great commission stories of other gospels, but that this was more than likely a 2nd century addition to the ending of Mark’s Gospel.

Without much help, in our fundamentalist culture, this can be a very daunting passage. Is it a challenge to us when we hear that signs like “these” will accompany those who believe? No, this is not permission to go drink a bunch of deadly liquids. Fundamentalists have gotten into to trouble picking up deadly snakes.

So what does it all mean?

St. Gregory the Great’s commentary may be helpful, but still we need to do some reflection to bring this into our own day. One of the most inspiring stories of St. Gaspar for me has been the story of his stay in prison. Prisons in those days were less pleasant than they are in our own time. It is said of St. Gaspar and his Companions that they were the “gaudentes,” the joyful ones. They took that dark and miserable place and made it a place of joy. Sure they could have been overwhelmed with sadness, darkness, doubt and even despair. Instead they gathered together each day for prayer, for reflection, for study and for singing psalms. When they could steal a bit of bread and wine they celebrated the Eucharist. Isn’t this what the scripture means by “handling serpents?” Napoleon would be “serpent” enough for me, and in the face of this challenge Gaspar spoke the language of fidelity. “I cannot, I must not, I will not,” became the memorable phrase that started Gaspar’s journey with the Napoleonic regime.

This is what it means to speak new languages. There are enough serpents in our world with Sept 11 and with the clergy crisis in the Church. In the midst of whatever darkness and struggle, the Lord has given us the ability to speak the language of fidelity, of peace and justice, of charity and of joy. We have been given the ability to handle these “serpents.” They have no power over us. In the midst of whatever the world throws at us, we remain who we are. We are the ones who are called to become the “gaudentes” in this day and age. It is not because of what we say, but it is because of who we are that we are able to speak this good news to all creation.

What are some of the ways you handle the “serpents” of today? How is it that you can speak these new languages in the world? Join the conversation.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 2:40 PM link
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