May 4, 2007

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, KC, MO

Arguably the most beautiful Catholic Church in the Kansas City area is Redemptorist Church, with a capacity of over 2,000 people. It is staffed by Redemptorist priests and the true name is Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church.

The white and glorious main altar is flanked by two similar side altars, plus two other very large end altars with separate railings that are located in the cross-part of the church. The ceiling of the church is awesome, likely stretching to 60 feet or more above the floor. The sanctuary has a white front altar/table that is beautifully carved. Twenty-five magnificent and large stained glass windows rise along the sides and around the back of the sanctuary. A very large crucifix is mounted on a pillar on the right side of the sanctuary.

This is a church which represents the best construction work of prior generations in Kansas City. Fortunately it appears little if any interior art work has been damaged by reconstructionists of the past 40 years. Even most of the beautiful altar rail remains. Flowers were in abundance.

I attended Tuesday 11:00 am devotions to the Mother of Perpetual Help. An estimated 100 or more people attended the Novus Ordo Mass, some in their 30's and 40's, but most above the age of 50. Different races were present, with the majority older Caucasian. Several women wore head coverings and most of the people were dressed up for Mass and the devotions that followed.

The homily on St. Paul ended with the admonition that we have to choose whether we just sit back and "watch, or get into the action" with respect to acting on our faith. Afterwards, two women in their 30s who were scheduled for surgery the next day were anointed with holy oil said to be blessed by Bishop Finn. Their emotions seemed to indicate that their health problems were serious and they appeared to be consoled by their experience. I was surprised to see a weekday collection taken up, but likely the large church has a tremendous heating/cooling bill and needs all the resources it can obtain.

The Mystery of Faith acclamation, as standard practice in the Novus Ordo Mass, referred to Jesus coming again. This has always upset me because the words "Mystery of Faith" are very old and formerly referred to Christ's true presence after the consecration. After the liturgical revolution, the meaning of "Mystery of Faith" was changed to mean Christ's coming at the end of the world--just at the time when he becomes present in our midst.

Two priests distributed Holy Communion to people, mostly in the hand. Some bowed before reception; one genuflected before the Blessed Sacrament. Apparent recorded instrumental music was played during the communion time. After communion, there was a blessing with holy oil given to most of the church attendees who came in long lines to two priests.

Almost all the people stayed after Mass for the devotions to our Mother of Perpetual Help. After devotions, quite a few people stayed to pray in church, remaining in pews, but especially before the crucifix and two large end altars with candles--one of which had a painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Apr 29, 2007

TV in the "Old Days"

"Death Valley Days" began as a radio program in 1930 and featured stories of the old West. I've looked for reruns of the popular TV series that appeared in the 50s and early 60s, but they never seem to be rebroadcast. Before he became Governor and then President, Ronald Reagan was host of the series and starred in eight episodes. The show is ranked as #3 of the longest running anthology series on TV.

The stories on "Death Valley Days" were all of a historical nature (a "true western adventure") and were sponsored by U.S. Borax (20 Mule Team Boraxo). [The borax mine in Nevada is now owned by Rio Tinto, and the Boraxo soap name is owned by Dial.

One program featured Ronald Reagan who played a Protestant minister who was asked by a widow to discipline her son. The minister hesitated, but finally agreed after the widow insisted that the 13-year old boy needed to be whipped for being very bad. After the boy had been beaten with the minister's belt, he cried and asked the minister "Who beats you when you're bad?" I've always remembered Reagan's slow and sorrowful answer, "When I'm bad, I beat myself."

I highly encourage readers to view an example "Death Valley Days" TV program by clicking on the sidebar, "Episode Webcasts". The half-hour free episode "Fifty Years a Mystery" gives a flavor of the many good TV programs we kids saw over 50 years ago.

In particular, look at the Boraxo commercials with Rosemary DeCamp and ask yourself if you would mind looking at this type of commercials again. Also note the number of commercial minutes in the program. You will ask yourself how our public airways became so fouled and with much, much longer commercials. You may want to point this out to the Federal Communications Commission which is supposed to protect the interests of American citizens--not the TV owners!

Disorder and the Man on a White Horse

Many years ago we were warned that if our country became libertine (as distinguished from exercising responsible freedom), disorder would come and the only solution would be a Man on a White Horse. The Man would justify taking away legitimate freedoms so (he would claim) to restore order to society.

One website describes the phrase "man on a white horse" as
referring to a politician who does nothing but appease the masses. The white-horse aspect refers to the fact that such a politician will 'ride in and rescue all the people from their sorrows'. The man-on-a-white-horse typically labels himself as a champion of the common man.
Order and disorder are addressed by Alice von Hildebrand in the April 2007 issue of This Rock magazine (usually quite good). She puts the issue into perspective, showing that order for its own sake can "become a straitjacket and can cause them [some people] gravely to offend charity."
Another kind of habit is genuinely good in and of itself. One only need read the Rule of St. Benedict to see that he orders his monks to follow a tight schedule: time for prayer, time for reading, time for work, time for sleep. In convents and monasteries, the bell rings to call the religious to certain duties. St. Benedict insists that as soon as it rings, the monk should immediately abandon whatever he is doing (relictis omnibus). This is not easy when one is very close to completing a task. Most of us would either get irritated, or cheat a tiny bit....

Following a schedule is a good habit; so is leading an ordered life. Some talented people accomplish very little because they lack discipline. Some people who have no exceptional talents nevertheless accomplish much because they organize their day. Discipline and order are praiseworthy. But they too can become illegitimate ties. We all know peopole who actually lose their temper when an object is misplaced. Moreover, charity demands that sometimes we should disrupt our schedule in an emergency. In such cases, charity should always be given precedence.
Mrs. Von Hildebrand concludes: "The saint, though, acquires a superb flexibility and indifference. One the one hand, he never allows his moods to disrupt his schedule; on the other he never hesitates to break it when charity demands it." Very good advice.

My own opinion is that societal disorder is so rampant that the firm practice of order should be encouraged. When I was growing up my elders all followed a regular pattern of life. Monday was wash day; Tuesday was ironing day.... Saturday was housecleaning day. Most importantly, Sunday was a very special day beginning with early Mass followed by breakfast, reading the paper, and refreshing our energy. On that day we were likely to visit with relatives. Sunday always ended with the family rosary. It's a good way to live life.