Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hollywood Hypocrite

Director Roland Emmerich admitted that he has no time for organized religion. His latest movie 2012 is based on a pagan Mayan prophecy that the world ends that calendar year (December 21). Bad enough he gives credence to ancient folklore, worse yet he trashes Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism, while leaving Islam unscathed. One scene has Saint Peter's Basilica rolling onto the multitude of clergy and laity praying for divine assistance. Every national monument and religious icon is destroyed EXCEPT the the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure located in the center of Mecca, the site of the Hajj. Why? Is the director a Muslim? No. But he fears offending Muslims and incurring a fatwa. So, no Islamic symbol is pulverized in the movie but Christian ones fall like dominoes. PATHETIC. Would a threat of excommunication saved the Vatican? I doubt it. Today, the atheists, agnostics and secular progressives and politically correct FEAR offending anyone of the Muslim faith. How about offending NO ONE, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or Muslim? How about not offending any religion? Either all are exempt or all are fair game. If the bishops and clergy called for a boycott of the movie, some Catholics would go just to be defiant; others out of pure curiosity. REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE !!! One thing you will NEVER see Hollywood ever depict: an apparition of the Virgin Mary calling all men and women on earth to pray the rosary to avert the great chastisement. Why? Just too Catholic. You can show the Devil and the Anti-Christ and aliens and now pagan mythologies but not anything too Christian and certainly not too Catholic.

Growing up, me and my younger brother Joe (who was killed at the age of 33 by a 19 year old underage drunk driver) used to watch the old Hammer Studios horror movies every Friday night. They were all B movies, no gore but plenty of scare (from your own imagination). Greats like Vincent Price (who died a Catholic), Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, et al., would always have a battle between good and evil. Good always won and whenever Satan was being fought, the hero always turned to the local parish PRIEST (not the minister) since he needed Holy Water, or silver blessed in Latin (to make bullets), etc. Even Dracula was defeated by the town's Monsignor who knew that anything holy could destroy vampires or calling out the baptismal name could cure the werewolf. Crosses were good, but crucifixes were better and more efficient. Sure, all fantasy, sci-fi, horror film but the church and the clergy came off as competent authorities on how to defeat evil. That lasted through the gore of the Exorcist and the Omen but then Hollywood decided to make the priest and the Catholic Church the idiotic fools who no longer believe in the devil and diabolical evil OR who have no faith in the supernatural. The heroes now turn to the Evangelical pastor for wisdom and guidance. Then the university professor who is either agnostic or atheist becomes the next expert. He can help translate pagan languages and interpret the pagan rituals of pre-Christian cultures which now Hollywood portrays as the real saviors. Pagans or aliens or technology are held up as sources of hope in the battle between good and evil. Organized religion is seen as part of the problem, not part of the cure. So, movies now have Christians, particularly Catholic clergy being the first to die or mess up or be the token zealot, while the new college scholar or scientist or pagan shaman saves the day. Of course, never cast a shadow on anyone or anything of Islam lest you get a fatwa. But trash the Vatican, Opus Dei, priesthood, sacraments, etc. That is what is shown today on the silver screen. And I think the Devil quite enjoys it.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Missa Pro Defunctis

I celebrated my three All Souls Day Masses today, one of which was offered for the departed souls of my Dad (John Trigilio, Sr.), my two younger brothers (Michael and Joseph), my cousin (Fr. Stephen Katarzynski) and my childhood pastor (Msgr. Ennis Connelly).  The chalice I used belonged to my cousin. He was an elderly priest when the police found him murdered in his rectory right after Easter. No one was ever caught but rumor had been that local devil worshipers and occultists probably broke into his parish to steal Consecrated Hosts for their blasphemous and sacrilegious rituals. Someone smothered him with a pillow and killed him in his own bed. He had been assigned to the worst part of the diocese, in the redneck boondocks. It took him four and half hours to drive to the See city which he did once a month to visit my parents and encourage me to persevere in the high school seminary. His love of the Priesthood and that of my first pastor, in addition to the love and support of my family, made me recognize the call to serve Holy Mother Church as a Priest. So, in 1976, I graduated eighth grade from Blessed Sacrament grade school and entered the High School Seminary. Twelve years later (1988), I was ordained for the Diocese of Harrisburg. Here are the vestments and appointments I used for Holy Mass today.  (yes, Black chasuble with burse and veil).  I normally wear purple for Funeral Masses but wear the black stole over my cassock and surplice with biretta for graveside prayers at the cemetery. 


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Communion of Saints

Resurrexit sicut dixit.  After nearly three weeks of battling flu like symptons which later developed into bronchitis, I am finally on the mend, just in time for All Saints and All Souls

When I was a child, I would immediatey turn to the comics page of the newspaper. As a seminarian, I would read the editorials. Now, at age 47, I read the obits just like my mom and dad did when we were growing up. I'm not old enough to be looking for classmates and contemporaries, mind you. I read the obituaries to see if there were parishioners or fallen away Catholics in my area who died but who did not have any funeral Mass or Catholic burial rites. Sadly, I see more and more. Former daily communicants or at least regular Sunday church-goers having only a viewing at the parlor and private ceremonies at the cemetery. Often, the adult children of the deceased who no longer practice their baptized religion, deny their own parents the last precious gift, a Catholic funeral and burial. Just because Johnny and Susie are in their fourth or fifth invalid marriage and cannot receive Holy Communion is no reason to deny their mom or dad a Catholic funeral. But it happens. Other times, even the deceased is lukewarm or non-practicing. Many times I get a call from the undertaker and do not recognize the name of the deceased because they have not gone to Mass in more than 20 years.

Read some of the obits. "Liked fishing" "enjoyed scrabble" "loved travel" etc.  RARELY, if ever, do you read: "was devout Catholic Christian" or "faithful church-goer and parishioner". Earthly accomplishments fill the obit. Don't get me wrong, I think we should honor the dead who served our nation and community. My dad was a WWII and Korean veteran from the Navy. A Knight of Columbus.  A loving husband and father. But he was also a God-fearing Christian; a devout Catholic. It is pathetic that virtually no spiritual connections or activities are found in many obituaries. Community service, yes.  Unless the person were a church secretary, however, you rarely read about their exemplary giving of time volunteering at their local parish. Then the funeral homily almost canonizes the person. No need for Masses for the dead, right, if the deceased must be in heaven already. What happened to PURGATORY? My two parishes get so few Mass intentions despite the usual number of deaths and funerals. Why? Because too many of my colleagues never preach on purgatory and on the efficacy of the Mass for departed souls. When I was a kid growing up in Erie, PA, everyone had a two day (afternoon and evening) viewing at the funeral parlor. Flowers were abundant but equally were the Mass cards from all the guests. No one would dare come to a Catholic viewing and not leave at least one Mass intention. Normally, the local parish (or the missions) received those and numerous Masses throughout the year were offered for that dead person.

Today, people only want a Mass IF they can attend as well. That means weekday Masses are the most forgotten. Yet, if only the priest and a server are present, the Communion of Saints is still at that Mass. The Saints in Heaven and the Souls in Purgatory as well as the universal church participate in the Mass for that deceased man or woman. The primary fruit of the Mass is for the departed soul but another fruit is the donor (as well as the priest who offers and those who attend the Mass). But today, minimalism rules. One token Mass intention is often the extent some Catholics remember their dead. I have to beg other parishes and dioceses to get weekdays Masses since we do not get enough from our own people. Yet, there are many dead parishioners with surviving relatives. As a priest, I very deliberately and carefully mention the name of the deceased at the proper place in the Eucharistic Prayer. Other priests mention it at the Prayers of the Faithful. Some only do it quietly at the altar. No matter how it is done, every priest offers every Mass for some intention, be it the departed soul or the special intentions of the living or for the people of the parish (pro populo). The Mass is the highest and most eloquent of all prayers and sadly, many Catholics deny this awesome gift to their deceased loved ones. If in heaven, it is no waste as the merits of the Mass are applied to someone else in need. But if our loved one IS in purgatory, how grateful will he or she be that we remembered AND assisted them the best way possible?

I will have to leave a note in my will to designate a certain amount of the estate (modest though it may be) be allocated to Masses for my immortal soul. IF I am lucky enough to get to Purgatory, I will WANT and NEED every Mass possible for my departed soul.

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