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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Notes from the Pastor [2]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

A visitor to a Catholic church recently asked about the gesture made by the congregation and the celebrant prior to the proclamation of the Gospel.  What is it?  The gesture is the sign of the cross made with the thumb on the forehead, the lips and the heart.  Following the Gospel announcement, it is preceded by the people’s response:  “Glory to You, O Lord.”  It recognizes God’s presence in the reading of Scripture.  Made thoughtfully upon the forehead, the gesture means that we want to know the Word of God.  When made on the lips, we indicate that we will proclaim the Word of God.  Finally gestured over our hearts, it means that we will love the Word of God.  The cross reminds us that sometimes to know. to proclaim and to love what we believe will entail a cost.  It entails the Cross.  The Cross also reminds us of the ultimate and enduring triumph of Christ.  (It would help for us to look over the readings prior to Mass, and of course, to be on time to listen so that we can truly know, proclaim and love what we hear.)

William J. Awalt

Washington Suffers Blunt of the Scandal

1280px-2013_cathedral_of_st._matthew_the_apostleAlthough the recent disclosures in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have fanned the flames of controversy about abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church, it must be admitted that the Archdiocese of Washington has suffered the most serious blunt of the scandal.  One of our cardinals faces censure under a Vatican investigation and the other stepped down after criticism of his efforts to stem abuse were judged insufficient and as lacking transparency.  Given the situation, Washington may be the one “hot potato” local church that no bishop will want.  Unlike other archdioceses, our numbers are modest and the prominence of the church here is due to the status as the nation’s capital.  There are also particular problems with this jurisdiction given that many politicians from other states and dioceses live and work here.  Can the ordinary of Washington establish censures or regulations over parishioners that conflict with the rules held by their proper bishops?  This is one of the reasons acknowledged why pro-abortion politicians are not refused Holy Communion in Washington.  Some national bishops refuse to take such measures and others have dictated this policy to their priests.  Of course, it can be argued that there is no middle-ground because a lack of a prohibition already takes sides.  Cardinal McCarrick often spoke about this, saying that he did not want to force confrontations at the altar.  However, matters were exasperated when he befriended the late Senator Ted Kennedy over protests from organizations like the American Life League.  When challenged about it, he argued that the archdiocese and “the Church” needed these politicians to support us on other issues.  While only a parish priest, my objection was that if a child is destroyed, for that human person there are no more issues.  It also seemed to stand in stark contrast from the guidance given by Cardinal Ratzinger who later became Pope Benedict XVI.    Under Cardinal Wuerl, the policy of not withholding Holy Communion became official.  The only possible exception would be when the communicant was deliberately inciting a controversial confrontation, as with wearing pro-abortion shirts and hats in church.

It must be said that with speeches and rallies, both cardinals were on the record as pro-life and as opposed to abortion.  The issue was about tactics or measures.  Why would I mention this in a post that centers on the abuse scandal?  The reason is this— abortion is the ultimate form of child abuse.  Those that lament and parade the sins of churchmen are duplicitous and silent when it comes to the torture and murder of millions of children in the womb.  Along with the eroticism that saturates contemporary society, the issue of child abuse is exasperated by a culture of hedonism and death.

This past Tuesday, Cardinal Wuerl apologized for a “lapse in memory” about allegations of abuse against Cardinal McCarrick.  My heart sank when I read his letter to the priests.  At a time when people have little or no trust in the Church, we did not need this.  Cardinal Wuerl was regarded as the most proactive in removing credibly charged clergy from ministry.  He is not just one bishop among many.

The upset can be summarized as having a two-fold source:

  1. The acts of abuse perpetrated by clergy; and
  2. Efforts to deny and/or to conceal these criminal acts.

Cardinal McCarrick has been ordered by Pope Francis to pursue “a life of prayer and penance.”  I suspect that many Catholics want more than this.  Many want an explanation and an end to deflection and excuses.  What have we gotten instead?  Despite evidence and multiple charges and victims (adults and youth), Cardinal McCarrick has denied the allegations.

The problem cannot be resolved until the homosexual underpinnings are acknowledged.  Falsehood cannot be remedied by silence or even just by penance; it requires a cleansing in the waters of truth.  How could a man unfaithful to his promise of celibacy find himself promoted to the cardinal’s hat— which is the shortlist for papal candidates?  People want explanations and solutions.  They want transparency in the present and reliable assurances about the future.  They want their clergy to be holy men who seek not to harm or to exploit but to bring healing and mercy.  They do not want princes but servants.

The Blessing on Entering a Church

Notes from the Pastor [1]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

One of the first gestures you should make on entering the church is to dip your hand into the holy water and reverently bless yourself in the sign of the cross and with the appropriate words:  “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This is to remind us of our Baptism as we enter our Father’s house to sing His praises in the Eucharist through His Son, Jesus Christ, moved by the Holy Spirit.  Our baptism is our gateway to the Eucharist.  We receive Christ himself that He may strengthen the grace that we received in Baptism and provide us with the help and His companionship that we need in our journey to our Father’s house in heaven.

William J. Awalt

More About St. Ann Church

St. Ann Catholic Church
4001 Yuma St NW, Washington, DC 20016

palm sunday st ann 03-25-2018-24

It is remarkable how the layout of St. Ann Church was envisioned.  As you enter the church from the Wisconsin Street door, the first thing that catches the eye is the altar.  Here is where the summit and source of of our Catholic faith meet.  Here we see the prominent place given to what re-presents where Christ’s death-resurrection is actualized.

Behind the altar and above it comes into our vision the tabernacle.  There, consecrated hosts are kept for distribution to the sick who cannot attend services.  That presence has also led to the practice of adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that is growing across our country .

Above the altar and tabernacle is the large crucifix that shows us the price for our redemption.  While Christ suffers no more, we are reminded of what Christ did to show us the gravity of sin and the measure of His love as represented in the figure on the Cross.

But our vision should not end on a sad note.  High above the altar is the image of the triumphant Christ, the Lamb of God, who carries the banner of victory because He has conquered sin and death.

Along with the saints and angels, we and all creation come together in this beautiful church as our voices at prayer join the heavenly chorus in giving praise to God.

The city of Washington is famous for the monumental beauty of its architecture, the natural beauty of its parks and waterways and the man-made beauty found in its many museums and public buildings.  Often lost among this catalogue of the city’s treasures are her churches.  As befits a national capitol, especially that of a nation dedicated to the freedom of religion, many faiths have graced her skyline with spires, steeples and minarets.

Even among the smaller churches and houses of worship in the city and its environs, there are unexpected gems, symbols of the faith and devotion of the congregations that built them and worship there.  One such jewel is the parish church of St. Ann on Wisconsin Avenue’s Tenley Circle.  Looking to the outside, St. Ann is an impressive modern Gothic style building, calling to mind the churches of late-medieval Northern Italy.  Within,  the visitor perceives a breathtaking combination of architecture and decoration uncomplicated in form, and yet unmistakable in design.  Through combination of stone and glass, light and air, magnificence and simplicity are as one.  This is not merely a place of worship, but a place of communion for God with His people.

William J. Awalt 

The Construction of St. Ann Church

St. Ann Catholic Church
4001 Yuma St NW, Washington, DC 20016

800px-st._ann's_church_dc_01

It might be of interest to know that the architect of the present church was Henry D. Dagit.  The first church of St. Ann’s was built of wood in 1898.  The second church was built of stone in 1903.  There was an interim church made of stone which now serves as the parish hall built in 1938.  The present church was built under the pastorate of Msgr. Henry D. Collins.  It was built of stone in 1948.  The third church was renovated after Vatican II when the main altar was moved down to the present position.  Marble saved at that time was used to erect a support for the tabernacle.  The baptistry, originally in the confessional room, was moved out and a wall was built behind it so that it would be near the main altar.  This shows the the connection of Baptism as the gateway to the Eucharist.  Given its present position, it also dovetails with funerals that are brought in the Yuma Street door and the words used in the service, referring to Baptism and our hope at funerals.  The pulpit (ambo) was moved slightly away from the wall to its present position.  The celebrant’s chair was repositioned to the side of the altar.  This was done under the pastorate of Msgr. William H. Awalt.

The beautiful stained-glass windows of St. Ann Church are among the main attractions.  These windows were designed by the internationally renowned stained-glass artist, Marguerite Gaudin, and manufactured at the Willet Stained Glass Studios in Philadelphia.  Some of Miss Gaudin’s notable works include windows in New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the entire fenestration in the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, facade windows for St. Anselm’s Meguro Church, Tokyo, Japan, and one of the largest stained-glass installations of 30,000 square feet for the Museum of Science in New York City.

William J. Awalt

The Making of Saints

Notes from the Pastor [73]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

George Weigel points out in his wonderful book, Witness of Hope, page 446, that Pope John Paul II beatified (last step until canonization) 805 men and women and canonized 205 during the first twenty years of his pontificate.  This is more than any other Pope in the history of the Church.  A great many of these declarations were made on his trips around the world to various countries.  The large numbers are partially because of his canonizations of groups of people, such as the martyrs of Vietnam.

The Church does not make saints.  The Pope does not make saints.  God makes saints.  Our recognition of God’s work is a long process in which the lives of potential saints are studied thoroughly and in detail.  Their writings are analyzed.  Their reputation for sanctity is scrutinized.  Miracles have to be attributed to their intercession alone and also submitted to medical and scientific study of the highest order.  God is wonderful with His graces among all ages, genders, nationalities, and occupations, among the married, single and religious.  Martyrdom has led to the declaration of large numbers of candidates as saints in many countries.

This is the message of Pope John Paul II– that we are all called to holiness, not just the religious and the clergy, monks and nuns.  Holiness is the vocation of every baptized Christian.

Pope John Paul II’s ideal of sanctity is the martyr — the witness — to self-sacrificing love.  But there are many other saints among us who will not be beatified or declared saints.  They are only known to God.  Nonetheless, they are still saints.

The twentieth century has just ended and according to Pope John Paul II, it was the greatest century for martyrs.  Mothers and fathers, priests and religious, bishops, popes and scholars have lived in such a heroic way that the Church wants them to be recognized as saints.

Msgr. William J. Awalt

The Use of the Word “Lord”

Notes from the Pastor [78]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

Lord is not Jesus’ first name as in Lord Jesus Christ, although we may inadvertently assume it is.  “Lord” is not who Jesus is but what He is.  It helps to keep this in mind in our prayers, especially at Mass and in the Liturgy.  The Holy Spirit moves us to prayer.  We pray to the Father and we pray in, with and through Jesus Christ.  It is good to keep that direction in mind.

For instance, in the Offertory prayer of the bread, we say, “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation.”  We are speaking to God, not to Jesus as such.  Usually when we invoke in our prayers, “the Lord,” we are referring to God.  Jesus is Lord, the Scripture tells us, meaning that Jesus who is man, in virtue of the Incarnation, is also God.  As a man, He prays for and with us and as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, He receives our prayers of  petition, thanks and adoration, etc.  Does this mean it is incorrect to pray directly to Jesus?  Of course not!  It is the fine distinction that every time the word “Lord” occurs in our liturgical prayers, “Lord” does not apply to Jesus, but is a prayer directed to the Triune God.  Making it absolutely clear, “the Lord” does not refer to Jesus’ identity, but to what He is– “Lord.”

Keep this in the back of your mind and you will be surprised at your awareness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Liturgy.  Obviously, when we use “Father” as in the Our Father or “Holy Spirit” we are directing our prayers to a person.  When we use “Lord” it is usually to the Godhead, not to Jesus individually.

Msgr. William J. Awalt