Category Archives: Pastoral

Capital District Grieves Death of Monumental Priest

The Capital District Grieves the Death of a Priest of Monumental Stature

“He was constantly on the go,” said Roy Bordeau of Schenectady, a personal friend who served as church organist under Hogan at his previous post as pastor of Sacred Heart/St. Columba Church. “He gave everything to people around him. He lived to do what he did.”

Father Michael J. Hogan died on the evening of August 20th peacefully at his home, with his loving family in attendance.

Micheal attended and graduated from St. Mary’s Academy (Glens Falls) class of 1957. He was accepted to Mater Christi Seminary (Albany) where he remained for two years, after which the diocese sent him for further studies to St. Joseph’s Seminary (Yonkers), and Michael was ordained a priest of the Albany Diocese on May 29, 1965.

Father Hogan served as associate pastor of St. Gabriel’s Church (Rotterdam, June 1965 to August 1966). In September 1966 he was transferred to Our Lady of Victory Church (Troy) where he served and taught at Catholic Central High School. At Maria College (1968) Fr Michael served as chairman of the theology department. From 1969 to 1973 he was an instructor at the College of St. Rose, religious studies department.

In 1969 he founded Hospitality House, an intensive residential rehabilitation program for drug and alcohol abusers and served as executive director there. In 1972 he established the first alcoholic halfway house in Albany; in that same year founded Lancaster House, the first residential community for chronic psychiatric patients in the State of New York.

In 1982 he bought a house in Albany, at 248 Elm Street, served as Chaplain at Bishop Maginn High School; he later served as president of the board of the high school. He welcomed adolescents into his home, some living there for years. He considered this his crowning achievement, one he considered the most important thing he had ever done. Wade, Jim, Michael, Alejandro, Jon, Eric, David, Ian, Todd M., Mark and Todd L. became, for him, his family and their children his grandchildren.

Fr. Hogan served as Pastor of Sacred Heart/St. Columba’s Parish in Schenectady (from 1992). He traveled to Mexico and remained there for two months to study Spanish; he then celebrated liturgies in Spanish and English. From August 1, 1998 to shortly before his death, Fr Michael served as pastor of St. Joseph’s Church (Schenectady) and St. John the Baptist Church (2001 to 2005), and was Pastor of St. Margaret of Cortona Church (2009 – his death) in Rotterdam Junction.

In Schenectady, Fr Michael served as president of “New Choices”, an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program, chairman of the board of “Home Town Health Centers”; member of the board of Schenectady Inner City Ministry (SICM), Hamilton Hill Arts Center, “The Bridge Center”; Schenectady Community Action Program (SCAP); Center for Community Justice; Schenectady Housing Loan Fund Corporation, Capital Region Work Force Development Board and X-Quest, Inc. He was also a member of the Social Justice Committee, comprised of clergy and agencies working together for the improvement of police policies; he also worked with the Sheriff’s department on matters relating to the Schenectady County Jail.

For ten years, from 1970 to 1980, Fr. Hogan practiced individual and group therapy, under the direction of J. Schoolman, Ph.D. and A. Hernandez, Ph.D. He practiced as a therapist and counselor for over 40 years.

Fr. Michael accepted his suffering with courage and peaceful dignity and grace. He said: “I’m happy, I’ve lived a wonderful life and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Father Michael’s family will open his home to relatives and close friends for visitation and to receive condolences on Thursday, September 11, 2014, from 4 to 9 PM, at Michael’s home at 248 Elm Street, Albany, NY. 12202.

On Friday, September 12th, at 4 PM, Father Hogan’s body will be embraced at St. Joseph’s Church, 600 State St (Corner of State & Lafayette Streets), Schenectady, NY. Public visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. A parish liturgy will be celebrated at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, September 13th at 11 AM, The Liturgy of Christian Burial will be celebrated by the Rev. Michael A. Farano, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. Interment in the Hospitality House Plot, St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands, NY, will immediately follow the Liturgy Expressions of memorial and condolance may be left on Fr Michael’s everlasting tribute page at:

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made in Father Michael’s memory to St. Joseph’s Church Restoration Fund, 225 Lafayette Street, Schenectady, NY 12305 or to “St. Joseph’s Place” (same address) Fr Michael’s recently established Outreach Center; a ministry of St. Joseph’s Parish.

Father Michael’s funeral arrangements have been lovingly entrusted to Roy F. Bordeau, Funeral Director, of Riverview Funeral Home in Troy, New York. Mr Bordeau was a long-time close friend of Fr Michael.

Fr Michael J. Hogan

Fr Michael J. Hogan

The Lord bless you and keep you +,
Show His face to you and have mercy on you +.
May He turn his countenance to you and give you peace +
The Lord bless you, Michael.

Our Op-Ed Comment on Fr Michael’s Death and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s Response

Fr Mike was a paradigm of humble and Christlike pastoring in a diocese suffering from the chronic affliction of liberalism, the bereavement of lost and merged parishes, the social problems of abuse, addiction, loneliness, and neglect. Mike stood out as a bright star against a dark firmament, and played a monumental role in his community by restablishing a sensitivity to social, ecclesial and existential crises not paralleled in the history of this region nor in the history of the Church itself since the dawn of the Reformation.

Fr Michael would serve as a paradigm for most, if not all who claim unity, whether in the context of social justice,  interfaith dialogue, ecumenism, or in the college of pastoral and spiritual care providers, but expecially for those who occupy the radically important and influential post as a community pastor.

Howard J. Hubbard, bishop emeritus of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, was a year ahead of Hogan at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers in the 1960s and knew him throughout his priesthood. “His whole life was committed to the poor, the forgotten — those left behind,” said Hubbard, noting Hogan made extraordinary efforts to help the homeless and troubled youths. “He was one of the finest priests I have ever known,” Hubbard added. Eloquent words but are they sincere?

We have to revisit Howard Hubbard’s remarks and question their sincerity, since both Howard J. Hubbard, bishop emeritus of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, and reigning bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger will be absent from the diocese, out of town, both in Rome,  and will not attend Fr Michael’s funeral rites, much less fulfill their pastoral and paternal duties of celebrating the liturgical rites for a brother priest, who so productively and positively reflected on the otherwise abyssmal diocese of Albany. It is scandalous — to say the very least — that neither of the two living bishops of the Albany diocese will not make himself available to show appropriate respect and gratitude to a model priest, innovator, and paradigm of the Albany diocese. The fact that no bishop of a neighboring diocese has been asked to concelebrate or to act as principal celebrant of this remarkable priest’s rites is a scandalous failure on the part of the Albany diocese, and both bishops Hubbard and Scharfenberger, should be deeply chagrined at their failure and beg forgiveness of Fr Michael’s parishes and the innumerable souls he has saved and lives he has redeemed through his tireless engagement and commitment on behalf of his suffering brothers, sisters, parishes and Church.

It’s a disgrace to to the Roman Catholic Diocese that such a precious priest should, after his soul has departed from his body, to  have to keep his mortal remains for more than 3 weeks in cold storage until the Diocese of Albany finds it convenient to provide him with the dignity of a Christian burial. It’s bad enough that the two bishops residing in this diocese are not stepping up to the plate and doing what’s minimally decent, but to think that the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, can’t find the time in those three weeks to bury a brother priest. Has this diocese dipped that low?

Fr Michael’s friends,  parishes and organizations should raise their voices and fists in outrage at the Albany Diocese’s response to Michael’s death and the delay of his Christian burial!!!

The Editor


New Organ Campaign: Please Make a Donation

church organ

For the past couple of years the organ in the chapel at the Franciscan friary of St Anthony of Padua in Catskill, New York, has been whistling along with the hymns. No one seemed to be able to get it to go away, and was a symptom of a sick organ. After several visits from technicians, who had to finally  admit defeat and the inability to resolve the “whistling,” the guardian of the friary has finally had to give permission to ask for donations to support the purchase of a new organ.

praise-God-w-musicThe new organ will run at least $15,000 but it is money well spent, since the friary and the Franciscan friars provide a much needed venue of spiritual enrichment with their beautiful Frnaciscan traditions and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for a full house every Sunday and standing room only on feast and holy days.

Unlike diocesan parishes the friars do not take up collections during Mass but rely solely on the generosity of the faithful to support the friary and their work in the community, supporting even diocesan parishes when needed.

Poverty, Simplicity, Joy

Poverty, Simplicity, Joy

The Franciscan order in it’s more 800 years since its founding by St Francis of Assisi, one of the patron saints of Italy and the patron saint of the Environment, has served the world well in its ministries to the poor, to youth, teaching and preaching, and missions in the third world. Committed to holy vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, the friars own nothing of their own and live in community, a life of prayer and service.

Please aknowledge the wonderful and holy work of the Franciscan friars at St Anthony of Padua Franciscan Friary by making a tax-deductible donation to the organ fund. Your donation can also be made in the memory of someone dear to you or even in your own name, and you will have the joy of knowing that each time the organ in the chapel of the Franciscan Friary of St Anthony of Padua is pouring forth its accompaniment to the voices of the faithful in praise Almighty God, you had a part in making that possible through your generosity!

Please send your donation to:

Fr John Bavaro
Guardian of the Franciscan Community
St Anthony of Padua Friary
P.O. Box 487
24 Harrison Street
Catskill, New York 12414-0487

When sending your donation, please do not forget to mention that your donation is for the organ fund, giving your name and, if applicable, the “In Memory Of” name, or prayer request. We would very much appreciate it if you were to mention this blog or Compassionate Care Associates. Or you could even enclose a print-out of this page with your donation.

Thank you so very much in advance for your generosity. May you be blessed with peace and good health in mind, body and spirit.

Peace and Blessings

Peace and Blessings

The Editor
Pastoral Care and Spirituality

Smoke of Satan…Again…Still

The Editor of a Widely-read Blog Recently Forwarded to Us a Comment from A Reader. The Reader’s sentiments are so widely shared by many Christians today, that we felt it would be instructive and informative to publish the question and our response here:


What are Pastors and their Minions Thinking…
If They’re Thinking!

Tony S. writes:

Thank you for all of your help and understanding with my recent comment about St. Patrick, Ravena.  We have two children 3 and 4 years old.  My wife wanted to bring them up Catholic, but since our encounters with st. Pat’s, we went elsewhere.  It’s a real shame.  I miss the Catholic Church.  That church was not welcoming at all.  A lot of the people you mention in your blog are parishioners there.  It’s a very hypocritical place, in which we did not want any part of.  The Bethlehem Reformed Church has a great Pastor and welcoming and supportive community.  However, being raised Roman Catholic, I still feel like I’m missing something..I am missing the tradition and rituals that the First Reformed Church doesn;t have.   Tony S.

We Respond:

Hi, Tony!
The Smallbany blog kindly forwarded your correspondence to me, since I contribute to a number of blogs as contributing editor for faith, spirituality, religion and church. I hope I can be of some support to you and your family.

Regrettably, as you have already experienced, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has missed the mark in terms of feeding the spiritually hungry and, again regrettably, has turned into a company club with branch lodges, called parishes, throughout its territory. Pastoring is far low on the list of prioritiesl, even though the former bishop Howard Hubbard had the best of intentions, his minions (not soldiers; soldiers follow regulations and orders) had their own agendas. Unfortunately, when the chief pastor gets his information and intelligence from demons, well, the result is demonic.

Church Hierarchy Needs to be Cautious>/big> Satan Lurks Where You Least Expect Him!

Church Hierarchy Needs to be Cautious
Satan Lurks Where You Least Expect Him!

One of the problems was that post-Vatican II priests were a confused lot, having been raised and educated in the Tridentine (pre-Vatican II) tradition and then having to live and work in a radically changed Church. That was compounded by the feminist movement in the cloisters and convents of the women religious institutions; nuns left the schools and hospitals and headed for the board rooms. That’s when all hell broke loose. The rabid nuns took over administration and higher education, filled the corridors of the profit-making arms of the church and left the priests to pound the pavement, some preferred to subject themselves to the bullying of the now secular executive “nuns”. (See our article, “Renegade Nun Lectures in Latham: Nuns Gone Wild!“.)

Nuns Out of Order BIG-TIME!!!

Nuns Out of Order BIG-TIME!!!

Then came the conspiratorial sex-scandals. Statistically the problem was minuscule. Politically and media-wise it was catastrophic. Why the anti-Catholic trend in the scandals? Well, the US has historically been anti-Catholic because the US hates rules (that’s one of the problems with the American Catholic Church). But within the RC Church in America, one way to get a stab at “those men in Rome” by the non-Catholics, the secular nuns (especially), and the scandal-hungry press was to attack the all-male RC priesthood, and demonise a very disciplined, highly-educated (compare with most of the poorly trained Protestant sects), committed, but selective and hence highly vulnerable group. If the nuns and wannabe women in the Roman Catholic Church couldn’t wait and wanted to get a Roman Catholic clerical collar, so the conspiracy goes, the best way to do that is to discredit and disgrace the exclusively male clergy. After all, women, even lesbian women, would never sexually abuse a minor! (But what about the abuse of children by poor parenting, divorce, bullying, gratuitous violence on TV, in the cinema, and let’s not forget the obscene games they now can play, and the electronic toys.)

The Smart Phone: The Ruin of Communication A Tool of Destruction of Youth

The Smart Phone: The Ruin of Communication
A Tool of Destruction of Youth

Many millions of Roman Catholics are very poorly educated and catechised because they, the parents and guardians of the children, have too many other distractions that have priority over religious and spiritual; in other words, moral and ethical education. The decline of the family, profaning of the traditional marriage union, and poor parenting (the rise in individualism and materialism (the woman who must experience motherhood, dropping the infant into the arms of daycare after 3 months so she can get back to her career!), and the commitment only to self (I have a life and I owe it to myself to live it my way.), and the feel-good culture has inflicted deep and serious wounds not only on the Roman Catholic Church as a community, but on our entire culture, as well.

satan inside

These effects are not lost on the so-called pastors of most churches, but most noticeably on traditional churches like the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Once the bedrock and foundation of ethics and morals that provided a refuge to the suffering and to the marginalised and a safe haven for recuperation for those in the world, the fragmentation and distractions of the culture of pathological ego and individualism that have destroyed the notion of community overall, have corroded faith communities, too.

Is anyon familiar with Genesis 1:27 or Genesis 2:21-23?

Is anyone familiar with Genesis 1:27 or Genesis 2:21-23?

Pastors in politics, pastors preaching politics, online ordinations, the 51% making a mockery of the 49% (in the past two or three decades the number of sitcoms, films, commercials that elevate the American woman at the cost of degrading the American male have come to dominate all aspects of commercials and entertainment!).

Agenda-Vaginas in the Pulpit. In my experience with so-called disgruntled Catholics (as many so-called Catholic women, usually post-menopausal or feminist by persuasion) and women clergy has been unfortunately negative. They have agendas and spirituality takes a minor role. Their vaginas, not the Divine, moves their hearts and minds. They demand roles in society, culture, church, and life that are not provided for in the very Holy Scripture they have professed to preach and to teach! And because of the trust (The word “faith”comes from the Latin word “fides” and means “trust”!) the ignorant members of their congregations put in their church elders and hierarchies, these women must be preaching orthodoxy. Bad choice, people. They are actually preaching heresy or at least heterodoxy!

A Freak with his Minions Why do women priests look so retarded?

A Freak with his Minions
Why do women priests look so retarded?

 So why do you think older priests now have lost resolve, confidence, interest? Why do you think that pastoral and spiritual care has gone to hell in the proverbial hand basket? Why do you think that way back in the 60’s Pope Paul VI made the remark, “The smoke of satan has entered the Church through a small crack.” We smelled the smoke back then, now we have a satanic wildfire consuming the Church, and it seems no one is interested in dialling 911, or if you do, you get put on hold. Ask me, I know!

clay figure child

Just a Clay Figure

It’s up to spiritually thirsting people like you, your wife and your friends to take charge of the situation and ensure that your children and your children’s children have the wherewithal to cope with the world that will inevitably confront them. Think of it this way: Man is created as a hollow clay figure and stays a hollow, clay figure until the day that clay returns to the clay from whence it was formed, UNLESS the potter fills that clay figure with something of value, something to believe in. Whether you think of the Divine as the potter, the parent as the potter, or the Church as the potter, that clay figure needs to be (ful)filled. It needs not only the physical necessities, not only the human necessities that parenting and community provide, but in order to become a contributing, benefacient (benevolent, charitable, altruistic, humanitarian, neighbourly, public-spirited) PERSON (as opposed to a clay figure), it needs to be formed with spirit, beliefs and values that for thousands of years we have called religion. The clay figure needs to have a sense of awe, needs to appreciate a sense of mystery, needs to move away from thinking of itself as the centre of the entire universe and the sole occupant of that universe. The clay figure needs to be filled with faith (trust) and love (charity, humility), in order to have HOPE in the future.
Thinking of it in these terms, Tony, you may have a better appreciation of what is going on and how to confront it without becoming apathetic, confused, despairing.
As for you search for truly Catholic liturgy, I’m afraid you won’t find it anywhere in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany that I am aware of. You’ll probably have to go to a male religious community (friary or monastery) to find the spirituality that you are seeking in the Liturgy, a Divine Liturgy that still offers mystery and awe without the bells and whistles. A Divine Liturgy that hasn’t yet raised the smoke screen so many of our churches have raised to hide the hypocrisy, the corruption, and the worldliness that has entered through that ever-widening crack along with the smoke of satan.

My recommendation, Tony, would be to visit one of the local Eastern Orthodox churches some Sunday (Greek, Russian, Ukrainian Orthodox) to experience a truly beautiful liturgy (they tend to be longish but if you can sit for 3 hours for a ball game, can’t you do 2 hours for God?). Or, the closest male religious community that I know of in the area is the Saint Anthony of Padua Franciscan Friary in Catskill, New York. A great many Roman Catholics and quite a few Protestants considering conversion to RC attend the Sunday Masses there and the friars have particularly beautiful traditions around the Easter and Christmas seasons.

Russian Orthodox Icon: The Divine Liturgy

Russian Orthodox Icon: The Divine Liturgy

This was supposed to have been a short note but has become an entire article. It’s come so naturally and rings so true that I am going to post it on one of my Church blogs. I hope you don’t mind.
Of course, if you have any questions at all, or need any help or recommendations, please contact me directly via a comment to this blog.
In the meantime, let’s ask for God’s blessings to give you and your family peace and health in mind, body and spirit.
Laudetur Iesus Christus!

We look forward to receiving comments and opinions from our readers. Thank you in advance!

Read our related, topical article Where Have All the Mothers Gone?

Are we spiritually dead?

Are we spiritually dead?

Pastor or Chaplain, or Both?

Is There a Distinction that Needs to be Drawn Between a Practicioner’s Playing the Role of Pastor or that of Chaplain?

I was a bit bemused by the persistence of the tendency to Bible-thump one’s way through any such discussion

I recently engaged several colleagues on the question of chaplaincy or pastoring. I was a bit bemused by the persistence of the tendency to Bible-thump one’s way through any such discussion, while advocating an interfaith approach as advanced by the adherents of the CPE agenda. I thought I’d share my contribution to the discussion.

listen-with-heartIt is my contention that we should not advance the notion of a “versus” or “as opposed to” when discussing chaplaincy or pastoring. While it is true that some traditions, the Hebrew and Islamic, for example, eschew the notion of “pastor” or “shepherd” for cultural or traditional, even ethical reasons, in the broader sense all chaplains are in fact “pastors,” while all pastors (in the conventional sense) are not necessarily “chaplains” (or critically speaking, even pastors!). In fact, I object in principal to the biased terminology we so frequently use in our vocations, “pastoral care” department, because it tends to be exclusive. I personally prefer spriritual care provider (although in my professional materials I do use pastoral care). Moreover, most people, even those in the vocation, tend to associate pastoral with pastors and thus with some sort of clergy or ordained service provider (usually with no questions asked and we all know about the profanation of ordination); that in itself is a misfortune for all concerned. But the much-touted CPE doesn’t do much to clarify the issues for interns or residents, and we still see chaplains “certified” by the self-proclaimed arbitors of chaplaincy who are just as ignorant after several years of “education” as they were before.

A case in point is taken from the scenario presented by the initiator of the discussion who describes walking into a Jewish patient’s room with a Christian clerical collar, which I characterized as benign “ignorance” but in reality was outright insensitive and would indicate that the “chaplain” in question did not do any initial preparation before launching out on rounds or visitations.clerical collar pc I might fraternally suggest that in future, whether you are a chaplain or a pastoral care associate, to check the chart briefly or dialogue with the nurse assigned to that patient before you visit. The offending chaplain actually says that he was aware that the patient was dying and had no family, so it seems rather odd that the chaplain did not appreciate the patient’s faith tradition and, if it wasn’t in the chart, that he didn’t consult with the immediate caregiver (nurse or LPN).

I also questioned the fact that the visiting chaplain was aware that the man was “Jewish”. Being Jewish immediately identifies one as being associated with a certain cultural, socio-religious tradition, after all, one does not call one’s self “Jewish” except to identify one’s self as a Jew. So this also raises the question of whether the chaplain in question was indifferent to the possibility that this dying man might have welcomed a visit by a rabbi, or that the chaplain did not make or offer to make a referral. Such sensitivity may have been a great comfort to the man, who might have found great refuge in his tradition and prayers. So I identify a boundary issue in this behavior, too; an issue of knowing one’s limits.

This situation also sends up red flags in that it clearly indicates that the institution did not do a spiritual assessment of this patient, much less a spiritual evaluation or history, which also reveals a glaring ignorance of the now widely inaugurated JCAHO and HIPA scoring categories relating to patient spiritual care.

The scenario I describe above should be instructive to us all and I thank the so-called chaplain for the inadvertent teaching/learning moment he has provided.

Finally, in the dying process I don’t feel there’s a heck of a lot of “pastoring” left to be done, unless it’s for the survivors. In my experience, in end-of-life situations I am more of a presence and spiritual guide/companion. While that may arguably be part of pastoring in a general sense, I feel that the actual mission of pastoring contrasts in praxis with the mission of spiritual accompaniment at end-of-life or in an existential crisis.

plant in handIt’s rather like the difference between evangelization and catechesis, if you have that in your tradition. One takes care of the basics and gets the seed started (evangelization), the other (catechesis) ends in the care and nurturing to harvest time.

Listening to hearAnother colleague mentioned in a rather cliché fashion with which we are all familiar when listening to the CPE crowd, that CPE trains one to listen. I disagree with such responses such as “CPE “teaches” one to listen.” I’m not quite sure how that works but in my divinity training and three years of supervised pastoral formation, and my participation in and disappointment with a rather popular CPE program in a large trauma center in Albany, New York, which fell far short of even my minimum aspirations, I don’t think that people can be “taught to listen” they may listen, but they don’t listen deeply. I know that from experience the deep listening skill comes from deep within one’s self, once one is comfortable with one’s self, and can leave one’s self for the time it takes to absorb and process the patient’s narrative. It’s that kind of listening that might be part of qualifying an aspirant to be spiritual care provider but it certainly isn’t the be all and end all.

The serene face of the large Buddha his long wise curvaceous ears at once loving and open to the woes of the world: Compassionate.

The serene face of the Buddha, his long wise curvaceous ears at once loving and open to the woes of the world: Compassionate.

Deep listening is the act of sinking into a serene quiet place, and awakening a receptive awareness of the other. By entering quiet and becoming aware of the other, we move out of and beyond our ego-driven chaos to become open to the divine messages within us and shared with us by the other. Imagine the irony here is that we so often complain of the pain of not having been heard, but we are so guilty ourselves of being deaf to, not hearing the innate wisdom from within ourselves and shared with us by others. When we learn to accept emptiness, when quiet, we instinctively trust in the guidance of sacred voices far more profoundly than what our bullying brains and the busy buzz of life would have us hear. And we listen, respond with silence.

In fact, having examined quite a number of CPE curricula and having developed continuing quality improvement curricula for the healthcare chaplaincy department, I find that the current CPE programs and their associated certification elements serve only to promote a burocratic and very branded form of “pastoral” care, and that branded product falls short of most suffering persons’ real needs. helpingIt’s the proprietary nature and standardization (viz. uniformization, homogenization) of the learning that deals the death blow to an appreciation (1) of the universal truths and values shared by all human beings, (2) the beauty in the diversity of traditions and how to appreciate and be enriched by a certain mutuality, (3) the possible pitfalls of an interfaith approach to faith traditions that may adhere very loyally to their dogmas. There are other reasons I could enumerate but regrettably (or fortunately for the readers) space is limited.

I think that an overwhelming majority, too, of CPE students come with excess baggage and too little self-death–I’ve observed interns, residents, even certified chaplains who have a great potential to do considerable damage…and do. The situation is not unlike seminary, you can do much to scrutinize, to form, to standardize but Whoa! when you turn them loose on the world, watch out! (A Roman Catholic diocesan priest, who also serves in the chancery tribunal, remarked ironically to me one day, “They’ll ordain anybody these days.” Which is probably true given the shortage of priests today.)

The so-called supervisors of the CPE programs almost invariable have their own biases and agendas, and these tend to impair good formation.
In some, not all instances, too, CPE programs have become “pay-to-work” programs in which minimally screened individuals, wet behind the ears and green, are turned loose on the floors to deal with sophisticated staff and human beings in existential crisis. I don’t feel that’s right. And I have also observed that interns are exposed to the same curriculum content for three or four years, and unless they have the academic predisposition to independently advance their armamentarium of experience through narrative and study, many don’t build their foundations. Some interns do not have theology or pastoral studies to help them through the necessary processing, and almost all have a depraved Western bias to their spirituality that tends to act as a speed bump when offering care to Non-western recipients. These programs tend to be “chaplain mills.” CPE does not fit the bill on its own to form professional, well-rounded spiritual care providers, but does excel in churning out multitudes of volunteers for greedy institutions. That may be one of the reasons it has survived this long.

On another level, some practitioners involved in the discussion advocated that the “Gospel” or, by extension, holy scriptures, has no firm place in chaplaincy. I do differ in that the fundamental ethics of the “Gospel” (not as understood principally by the evangelicals or fundamentalist among us) is a major part of chaplaincy. servant leadershipI cite particularly the beatitudes and the teaching of discipleship and servant leadership (chaplaincy is certainly not limited to the sick and dying but to the suffering generally). While I abhor the notion, and even more so the practice of proselytizing to captive audiences, and would hasten to emphasize that evangelization and catechization is not a fundamental role of the chaplain, ethics, discipleship, and servant leadership all play a special role in the myriad activities of the professional chaplain. (Note also that I do distinguish between the “professional chaplain”, the pastoral/spiritual care associate, and the visitor providing spiritual support.) To advocate that the truths and values espoused by the “Gospel”, the holy scriptures of any faith or spiritual tradition might have no place in chaplaincy is to advocate a position, I believe, of a chaplaincy practice devoid of ethics (and religion) (I do realize that this is a particularly “Christian” approach and my Judaic, Islamic and Buddhist colleagues may not necessarily agree with the religion-ethics statement, but I make the statement here somewhat loosely for convenience sake).

I’m not judging colleagues in chaplaincy or Clinical Pastoral Education too severely at all. In fact, I’m simply sharing my own observations and opinions based on personal experience. I am not a bit surprised when some readers tend to take these observations personally, as if they were meant to make an ad hominem stab at the straw[wo]men of CPE; I usually anticipate that persons in our line of work have a bit more self-awareness not to take every facially severe remark as a lancet thrust to the heart, however.

Rather than play an offended person’s role, perhaps we all would benefit by admitting that we may have learnt something about one’s self as through another’s eyes.

We Respond, We don't React.

We Respond, We don’t React.

Our role is to humbly respond, not to knee-jerk react. After all, to paraphrase the prophet Martin Luther King, Jr.: ‘We are all wrapped in the same cloth…when we directly hurt another we indirectly hurt ourselves.” (I do hope I did that statement justice!). So, when one party to the conversation called such a response arrogant, and a failure to simply accept some responsibility in relationship to colleagues’ responses, I merely responded, “My point indeed. The mouth loves the feel of words.” Instead we minimize, rationalize and justify our behavior, making certain to protect one’s self. This particular correspondent insists that “our patients have thick enough skins to handle a collar.”panda overload My response was tantamount to the fact that I don’t think that we have any right to expect patients to have “thick skins.” Some practitioners in pastoral care seem to admit patients’ strengths but underestimate their sensitivity and vulnerability. Many of the patients I see have lost their thick skins and in fact are pretty bruised in terms of dignity, autonomy, fortitude, patience, etc. I see no reason to add another straw to the pile. And Yes! It’s not about us, it’s about patient-centered, family-focused, inter- and multi-disciplinary care.

bedside prayerWhen we adopt such an approach we appreciate that, whereas many of our colleagues practice their spiritual care ministry in acute care settings or in crisis settings, many colleagues may find themselves–particularly in the scenario of the long-term care setting–in the position of playing both the role of chaplain and pastor to some residents in those longer-term care facilities. Regrettably, many of these residents lived their lives unchurched or churched with infrequent interaction with their faith community; more regrettably, some faith communities have disappeared or simply no longer continue a ministry of visitation of the sick and homebound who were once part of their faith community. It’s in such situations that the chaplain may very well become the pastor, and have to function in both roles. I don’t feel that this should be a major stumbling block nor even a concern to the well-formed spiritual care provider, who is responding to a true call to spiritual care ministry.

We're all wrapped in the same cloth...

We’re all wrapped in the same cloth…

Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany: Hypocritical on PC

The Editor of the Evangelist, a Publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, and a Publication that Advertises a Wide Variety of Goods and Services, Recently Refused to Publish An Ad for An Interfaith Chaplain.

 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
— Matthew 25:35-36

A New Scandal Brewing?


With Attitudes Like Albany’s,
The Church Will Soon Look Like This!
Where are the Leaders?!?

The Evangelist, having received the display ad and having made changes to the ad several times, accepted the ad and accepted payment for the ad. The next day, the advertiser received an e-mail from the editor stating:

We have become aware that you are not working through any parish or with the support of the Albany Diocese. Therefore, we are unable to accept your Compassionate Care Associates advertisement. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Not only is this action by a minor employee of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany clearly discriminating, it flies in the face of pretty much everything the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has been allegedly supporting (at least on the surface) in terms of interfaith, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, ministry, etc. etc. Do we smell rotten hypocrisy at work.

Or can it be that the Diocese is playing dirty pool? It can’t provide adequate ministers to the sick and dying so no one is going to do so.

And what about the negative PR? What does this action broadcast about the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and its love of all creation, its welcoming of all people, its embrace of all things serving the common good?

The Response is Deplorably Ignorant

Since we are here considering the response of an organ of the Roman Catholic Church as represented in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, it is appropriate to cite some of the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, the magisterium, which expressly embraces with a sense of anticipation and hope the commitment to ecumenism and interfaith dialogue as a duty of human conscience, but especially the Christian conscience, in relationship enlightened by faith and guided by love,  the  man Jesus the divine Christ himself, in his Passion, prayed “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). This unity, which the Divine has bestowed on his people and on creation overall, and in which I believe the Divine will is intended to embrace all people and all creation, is not just a Divine afterthought or a creaturely wishful thinking, but stands at the very heart of the Christ’s mission. It is heterodoxy to teach that this commitment, this duty, this vision of unity is some secondary attribute of a select community of disciples. Rather, I would assert, it belongs to the very essence of creation. (cf Pope John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, May 25, 1995).

While it is not my intention to proselytize or to be disrespectful of non-Christian traditions when I figuratively or metaphorically use the name “the Christ”, I sincerely believe that our response to persons in crisis, suffering, dying must be such that we are willing and able to see the “Christ” in them and they in turn are able to encounter the “Christ” in us. Although many of us undoubtedly discover this ideally reciprocal response in the context of a religious or spiritual or faith tradition, even those without “faith” can be guided, supported to look beyond their own suffering to see the human dignity and goodness of those who suffer, and of those who minister to the suffering.

The “Christ” should be read here as the imago Dei (the image of the Divine Creator) not just the socio-political affiliation with a company club, a parish. Good works are good works, discipleship is discipleship, charity is charity, koinonia is koinonia regardless of your ‘company’ affiliation. We are all called to compassion and responsibility, unity, and those of us called to a ministry of pastoral, spiritual, emotional care of the suffering cannot and will not be deterred by the ignorant.

Hence, Compassionate Interfaith Pastoral Care, then the Evangelization or Catechesis, if Appropriate and Desired. The Church as Historically and Typically Approached this Ass-end Backwards!

Pope Paul VI famously quipped, «Da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio». (“Satan’s smoke has made its way into the temple of God through some crack.”) —Pope Paul VI, 1972. How true! But the traditionalists and conservatives feeling that the mainstream Church was falling into decline had no idea of how far afield the Roman Church had actually strayed. These fundamentalists believed they knew what that smoke might be and how they planned to halt its spread. From conservatives and their steadfast moral militancy, to separatists and their belief in the need for alternative communities, to Marianists and their tenets of mystical prophecy, the the obstreperous female religious and their disobedience and promotion of an almost heretical theofeminism—but the actual Satan was a special insidious liberalism and it’s that liberal laxity that is costing the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese dearly in terms of credibility and faithful. The Diocese lacks good leaders but has an abundance of negative defensive placeholders. But more on that later. The place is getting too smokey now.

smoke church

Stay tuned for a continuation of this investigation on what the Roman Catholic Church says and what he Roman Catholic Church does, especially through its lay minions, affects all of us at large in our ministries.

We have given the editor until Monday, December 2, 2012, to organize her defense. On December 3, we’ll bring out the big guns. Let the games begin!

The Editor

The Editor

The Rejected Advertisement

Hospital & Institutional Chaplain * Spiritual Guidance * End-of-Life & Grief Support * Funeral Officiation * Memorial Services
Ethics Consultation

Compassionate Care Associates
Interfaith Pastoral Care

By Arrangement Through Your Healthcare / Nursing Care Provider or Your Funeral Services Provider

Telephone: (518) 479-0525 / 466-4482 (Urgent)


Pastoral Care Debacle…

As A Pastoral Care Provider and As A Consumer of Pastoral Care Services in Hospitals and Nursing Homes We Have An Obligation to Be More Critical and Ask More Questions. We Must Have A Voice.

We Must Ask Critical Questions!

Over the years I have done a great deal of reading, research, and critical thinking about pastoral care, spiritual support, chaplaincy and have come to some conclusions. Some of these conclusions are disturbing, others are illuminating, some are constructive, others are serious wake-up calls. So let me throw a couple of them out and get some feedback from my pastoral care colleagues and from some of our readers who may be on the receiving end of our well-meant efforts.

Pastoral care used to be the ministry of the clergy or at least the pious religious, usually in monasteries or in hospitals run by religious orders. The theory was basically to perform acts of mercy, to provide spiritual encouragement and guidance, to attempt to alleviate suffering, and to make the transition from life here to life in the hereafter somewhat easier. Not much has changed from say the 13th century to the 21st century, despite the fact that we’ve had more than 800 years to re-evaluate and update our operations.
From my perspective, pastoral care continues to be a ministry but more than that it is a vocation, a calling. True, we in professional chaplaincy have professional degrees in theological studies, pastoral studies or have even gone through studies leading to the advanced degrees of master of divinity or a doctorate in ministry. Some have succumbed to the lobbying and the arrogance of the 20th century’s panacaea, its answer to everything: certification. But this notion of lobbying and influence peddling, of certification, though well-intentioned enough, has gone awry and has become merely another MBA scheme. Far from its original intention of benefitting the recipient of pastoral care it has become yet another way to promote questionable ideologies, to form cliques, to push political agendas, to become esclusive in too many ways. In fact, by virtue of the numbers, the whole system of certification of pastoral care providers has become almost fraudulent; indeed, many of those certified have forgotten the humility and discipleship that underscores the authentic pastoral care provider and have become mini-celebs, or the divine’s personal liaison to the suffering.

This problem, and a problem it is, is not primally that of the novice who enters the tutelage of a so-called “certified supervisor” in a “certified clinical pastoral education” program, but is created and perpetuated by individuals with an agenda and a mission: that of notoriety and recognition, of being the one who has made pastoral care a bonum fides entity in holistic healthcare delivery. Half-baked didactics, half-hearted supervision, checking the text messages and emails, rushing off to this or that committee meeting, Oops! off to a conference, politicking for that grant or those funds, prettying up the place for the site visit, etc. forms the day-to-day routine of the “certified supervisor.” The intern is left pretty much on his or her own after having paid up to about $700 just to be an intern! What’s worse, the hospital gets reimbursed for the services performed!

In this entire process, however, something is missing. Sure there’s structure. Of course there’s “standards.” And yes, there is the opportunity to learn a great deal on the floors and about one’s self but little thought is actually given to the effects on the recipients of the pastoral care being delivered–and that pastoral care, if we can throw that term about somewhat carelessly, does vary enormously depending on the intern’s background, faith tradition, education, and experience.

All too frequently, as in any hierarchical, corporate organization you’ll go far in terms of the certification process if you don’t buck the supervisor, if you don’t question his or her doctrines and dogmas, if you don’t have any thoughts of your own, if you prostrate yourself before the supervisor, and your don’t ask too many questions–and you’ll fare much, much better if you keep your mouth shut and play stupid. Just be corporate and know your “boundaries.”
Hospitals and nursing homes, despite what we read in the professional journals, play loosey-goosey with pastoral care. Most have no clue what a professional pastoral care minister is and they’re happy in their ignorance. Ask around, if you’re curious or looking for placement or even looking for a care facility for yourself or a loved one and you’ll be shocked to find that pastoral, religious, spiritual care is tucked away between personal laundry services and janitorial services, or is included in the activities department with ballroom limping and paper flower making, or is simply relegated to the volunteer department. In other words, one of the most important aspects of the suffering person’s pilgrimage through bereavement, pain, illness, his or her anxiety and existential questions are largely ignored in favor of things to pass the time and beautician services. In other words, much of what is done takes on a cold technical-scientific aspect or is window-dressing to make the facility as marketable and pretty as possible, not for the patient-resident, but to sell the place to the family and keep the bottom line in the black. That’s at the administrative level, of course.

We cannot do enough justice to the dedicated and committed souls on the floors, in the trenches as it were, those with direct patient-resident contact, the living saints: the nursing staff and the nursing aids and therapists who serve in a vocation on a par with that of the professional chaplain. But we must be clear that the spiritual, the religious, the emotional aspect of the patient-resident, an eminently important part of the healing of the wounds of the suffering, is largely treated with a bandaid.

Turf Wars Are Not Uncommon

There are turf and territory concerns, too. I know of no so-called director of pastoral care or a director of volunteer services who would admit that he or she is unqualified for the job of overseeing and coordinating pastoral care to patients and residents. Regrettably, most are ignorant and most take advantage of their position to be self-important in the institution. The standard is generally “good enough” to get under the wire.

Pastoral care is a healthcare specialty and the professional chaplain is a healthcare profession who makes valuable contributions to patient-resident care on the inter- and multi-disciplinary healthcare team. A local clergy person plucked from the community and providing monthly liturgy or worship ritual or popping in to visit patients or residents affiliated with his or her faith tradition is not a chaplain. Most local volunteer clergy have little or no training in clinical pastoral care, little or no knowledge of hospital or medical technology or procedures, many have their own issues, and most are pitifully overworked and distracted by the demands of their parish or congregation. Local volunteer clergy are poor substitutes for dedicated pastoral care professionals.

Most volunteer coordinators and most directors of pastoral care in our hospitals and nursing homes are unaware of the fact that federal and state laws apply to pastoral care and the Joint Commission for Accreditaion of Hospital Organizations, the people who inspect and accredit hospitals and other healthcare facilities, require pastoral care services, and have scoring categories that apply to how the pastoral care is delivered. Do most hospitals and nursing homes comply? Absolutely not!

I’m Here To Stay…I’m Not Budging!

In fact, the era of the denominational hospital is past! There will be no more “Catholic,” “Lutheran,” etc. hospitals run by denominations and adhering to the denomination’s philosophies, ethical tenets, doctrines, etc. Not if they want to continue receiving federal and state administered funds! The age of the interfaith institution is nigh. No more bedside evangelization and proselytizing is out. You even have to ask permission to pray now! Sure we have some prehistoric remnants, fossils remaining on the staffs and boards, even running the pastoral care departments. These are mostly nuns who are making money for their communities and who defend their turf with a religious fervor. There are also priests and ministers who serve part time as pastors and play pastoral care director or chaplain the rest of the time. In an age when parishes and congregations are starving for pastoral leadership, I cannot understand why religious and clergy are allowed to take secular jobs but Hey! there’s hypocrisy everywhere. But this is definitely a conflict of interests considering the constraints and needs, not to mention competency questions.

Most hospitals and nursing homes drag their feet, put up smoke screens, lie on their websites and in their marketing literature, or do just enough to make an impression, and fail in most of the more critical aspects of pastoral care services to their patients and residents.
This article will be continued…

Is Fr James Kane Really Fit to Be Pastor?

The homily: “The homily is part of the liturgical action and is meant to foster a deeper understanding of the word of God, so that it can bear fruit in the lives of the faithful. […] For this reason preachers need to be in close and constant contact with the sacred text; they should prepare for the homily by meditation and prayer, so as to preach with conviction and passion” (Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, No. 59).

After two straight weeks of joyously positive experiences at a graduate’s coloquium marking the successful conclusion to years of study, and a beautiful convocation and liturgy presided over by his excellency Howard Hubbard, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, I felt my faith in our Roman Catholic tradition was in a phase of regeneration and revitalization; then I just happened, as if nudged to the television room to watch the celebration of the Sunday Eucharistic liturgy at St Patrick’s RC church in Ravena, New York, presided over by none other than Fr James Kane, the so-called “pastor” of that starving flock, and who is also director of the Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. It was then and there that I felt that sinking, bitter feeling rising again!

No sooner had Kane concluded the reading of the Gospel than he set off on a mercenary, pharisaical, pecuniary, worldly diatribe on the Bishop’s Appeal, and continued his disgraceful performance with a detailed, almost scrupulous step-by-step instruction on how to complete the Bishop’s Appeal envelope, and proceeding to instruct the greeters and ushers on how to collect the envelopes. The entire pitch was made from the ambo, with the Gospel (Lectionary) open in front of him and serving as a convenient support while he filled out a [mock] envelope during his “teaching.” All of this immediately following the Gospel proclamation and in lieu of the homily!

Isn’t Kane aware that this sort of worldly administrative junk is to be done at the end of the liturgy, during the time set aside for idiotic announcements?!?

Mixing Satan with the Cross

To my knowledge, Jesus Christ is not depicted on any currency denomination of any nation; so why does Kane take the time reserved for breaking open the word, probably the only time much of the congregation has for catechesis at all during the week, to talk about Bishop’s Appeal, filling out envelopes, and tithing? True, the local bishop can make exceptions but only in very special circumstances and I doubt that even in the Albany Diocese the time for homily and teaching would be set aside for Kane’s abominable display. In his ecumenical and interfaith activities, has Kane become contaminated with some of the bad habits and obsessions of the Reformists? (Probably not. At least they know how to preach.)

 For Kane’s benefit, here are some notes on the importance of the homily:

Key to Understanding the Word

The “Homily” is treatise given during the Catholic Mass in which the priest or deacon discusses the readings of that day (old testament, epistle, and gospel readings), not the bishop’s appeal! The Priest may discuss how the daily readings from the Bible relate to issues of the day and other moral and religious points he wishes to make. Not  how to fill out the bishop’s appeal envelope! Homilies are the kind of preaching that was used by the Apostles and Fathers in addressing the faithful. The homily is expository of the Word (sermo in latin) of God and therefore is not considered a sermon, the Word of God itself. This time for the Liturgy of the Word is not set aside to instruct greeters and ushers how to hand out envelopes or to inform those in the pew where the pencils are!

A group of theology students receive this lesson from an elderly teacher of homiletics – the art of writing and delivering homilies: “When you preach, remember that the first five minutes are for God, the second five are for the faithful, and the third for the devil.” Alongside the “guidebook” for the “Catholically correct” believer, there is something similar for “updated” homilies for services. The homily doesn’t always capture the attention of the faithful during Mass – quite the contrary. So why don’t we teach our so-called preachers how to preach?!?

The problem is quite clear to the men of the Church. Benedict XVI became concerned with the issue two years ago with his post-synod apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini, which gathers the reflections and proposals emerging from the XII General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which met at the Vatican from 5 to 26 October 2008 with the theme “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.” The Pontiff’s theological recommendation was to “avoid generic and abstract homilies” as well as “useless digressions.” In short, the quality of sermons “must be improved.”

“Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 24)

“By means of the homily the mysteries of the faith and the guiding principles of the Christian life are expounded from the sacred text, during the course of the liturgical year; the homily, therefore, is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself; in fact, at those Masses which are celebrated with the assistance of the people on Sundays and feasts of obligation, it should not be omitted except for a serious reason.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 52)

“Sacred theology rests on the written word of God, together with sacred tradition, as its primary and perpetual foundation. By scrutinizing in the light of faith all truth stored up in the mystery of Christ, theology is most powerfully strengthened and constantly rejuvenated by that word. For the Sacred Scriptures contain the word of God and since they are inspired really are the word of God; and so the study of the sacred page is, as it were, the soul of sacred theology. (3) By the same word of Scripture the ministry of the word also, that is, pastoral preaching, catechetics and all Christian instruction, in which the liturgical homily must hold the foremost place, is nourished in a healthy way and flourishes in a holy way.” (Dei Verbum, No. 24)

“The proclamation of the Gospel and the homily are reserved to the ordained, while a lay person is prohibited from preaching at any time during Mass, even in the cases of a seminarian or pastoral assistant. Instructions or testimonies by a lay person, however, may be given after the Prayer after Communion for a serious reason, but the homily should not be omitted. Such matters are regulated by the Diocesan Bishop.” (USCCB, Thirty Questions on the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum for Diocesan Liturgy and Communications Personnel, No. 18)

On the the importance of the homily, Verbum Domini continues:

“Each member of the People of God “has different duties and responsibilities with respect to the word of God. Accordingly, the faithful listen to God’s word and meditate on it, but those who have the office of teaching by virtue of sacred ordination or have been entrusted with exercising that ministry”, namely, bishops, priests and deacons, “expound the word of God”. Hence we can understand the attention paid to the homily throughout the Synod. In the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, I pointed out that “given the importance of the word of God, the quality of homilies needs to be improved. The homily ‘is part of the liturgical action’ and is meant to foster a deeper understanding of the word of God, so that it can bear fruit in the lives of the faithful”.  The homily is a means of bringing the scriptural message to life in a way that helps the faithful to realize that God’s word is present and at work in their everyday lives. It should lead to an understanding of the mystery being celebrated, serve as a summons to mission, and prepare the assembly for the profession of faith, the universal prayer and the Eucharistic liturgy. Consequently, those who have been charged with preaching by virtue of a specific ministry ought to take this task to heart. Generic and abstract homilies which obscure the directness of God’s word should be avoided, as well as useless digressions which risk drawing greater attention to the preacher than to the heart of the Gospel message. The faithful should be able to perceive clearly that the preacher has a compelling desire to present Christ, who must stand at the centre of every homily. For this reason preachers need to be in close and constant contact with the sacred text; they should prepare for the homily by meditation and prayer, so as to preach with conviction and passion. The synodal assembly asked that the following questions be kept in mind: “What are the Scriptures being proclaimed saying? What do they say to me personally? What should I say to the community in the light of its concrete situation? The preacher “should be the first to hear the word of God which he proclaims”, since, as Saint Augustine says: “He is undoubtedly barren who preaches outwardly the word of God without hearing it inwardly.”  The homily for Sundays and solemnities should be prepared carefully, without neglecting, whenever possible, to offer at weekday Masses cum populo brief and timely reflections which can help the faithful to welcome the word which was proclaimed and to let it bear fruit in their lives. (Verbum Domini, No. 59)

“As Saint Jerome reminds us, preaching needs to be accompanied by the witness of a good life: “Your actions should not contradict your words, lest when you preach in Church, someone may begin to think: ‘So why don’t you yourself act that way?’ … In the priest of Christ, thought and word must be in agreement”. (Verbum Domini, No. 60)

I had occasion to comment on another recent televised liturgy at St Patrick’s when I observed the deacon, James O’Rourke, in total oblivion of what was going on at the altar while he was conspicuously occupied with what was going on in the pews. (See my post Deacon Watch: The Distracted Deacon. )

This most recent circus performance from the ambo was an absolute disgrace. Kane has been the subject of a great number of adverse observations from members of that parish community and he’s not collecting better marks as he continues his interfaith adaptations of the Roman liturgy. Get on the same page as the rest of us Kane or take a hike! But more than that, I hope that this post has helped Fr Kane to better understand the importance of the homily.

Here are some selected quotes from the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini: Selected Quotes from Verbum Domini (Zenit).

To learn more about the community in which Fr James Kane operates the Church of St Patrick, visit the blog at Smalbany.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.  (John 10:1-30)

Standing Around Watching His Flock Die!

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