In The Game, a really good pitcher is the kind of guy who has speed and whose best pitch, a hot fastball, “moves” while it burns through the air and makes a solid “WHUMP” in the catcher’s mitt. That kind of pitcher “brings the heat”. That kind of pitcher leaves even the best hitters standing in the box with their bats on their shoulders looking sad as the umpire punches down the third strike in a row; or they unwind after another futile attempt to make any kind of contact with an irresistible force. That kind of pitcher leads his team to victory.
The newspaper article talks about the priest’s working class accent. He’s from Lowell. It also mentions that he went to Harvard. Perhaps one is supposed to think that working class accents at Harvard are reserved for the groundskeepers.
The article is all about how Father Landry “brings the heat” in his sermons about contraception. It calls him a “traditionalist” and goes on to say he is “eager to share his opinions with his flock.” (And, oh, Mr. Times Reporter, with anyone else who’s listening.)
I’m puzzled about the use of that word “opinion”, because nothing I read in the article indicates to me that Father Landry is doing anything other than telling the truth about what the Catholic Church teaches. He is, then, eager to share the facts with his flock. And, it also appears that they haven’t heard much about the facts for a long, long time.
You will read, and you may know from your own experience, that Father Landry might be considered not exactly an exception, but something of an anomaly. So was St. John the Baptist. I don’t see him losing his head…any time soon. In any case St. John didn’t much care for his head if it wasn’t being put to good use. So, too, I suspect the same of Fr. Landry. Would there were more of him, and more like another priest I came across in New York a couple of weeks ago.
While in New York recently for the marriage of two lovely people, my wife and I attended Mass in Freeport, LI, on Sunday February 12. Oddly enough that day was the 74th anniversary of my parents’ wedding. I remembered both of them and the newlyweds in my prayers when we were commended to do so during the Prayers of the Faithful, that part of the Mass when we as a body petition God on behalf of the church and the world. But my attention was a bit distracted from my purpose by the first general petition that the lector read in a clear voice, and the people answered with a kind of intentional force:
That all Catholics, in union with Pope Benedict XVI and our Bishops, will continue to speak out whenever governments fail to secure our inalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, WE PRAY: (It is here on this page in the same form as it appears on the page from which it a was read at Mass. No, not read, proclaimed, if it can be said one proclaims a prayer.)
I’ll add the others, now, more calmly:
That Catholics in the United States will stand up for their faith and their right to exercise it, despite recent attempts by the President to suppress that right, WE PRAY:
For Catholics who suffer persecution because of our beliefs about Marriage, human sexuality, the Unborn Child, and the Terminally Ill, WE PRAY:
In thanksgiving for the members of our Armed Forces and for an end to war, WE PRAY:
In thanksgiving for everyone who takes care of the sick, especially our Priest-chaplains, Nurses, Doctors and everyone who will participate in this year’s Catholic Ministries Appeal, WE PRAY:
That through the Intercession of St. Valentine, the gift of conjugal love will be shared only between a man and a woman and only in Marriage, WE PRAY:
For the sick, especially (N), and for thoses who have died, especially (NN) and for the intention of this Mass (____), WE PRAY:
By the time this exhortation ended I was on the point of raising my hands and shouting a mighty “AMEN!“. But, I didn’t. You know what? I’m sorry I didn’t.
Only rarely have I heard the Holy Father prayed for by name in our churches. He is simply The Holy Father, the Pope, some guy far away with a title. And the prayer response is muttered and mumbled, something to be gotten through, like waiting for the bus. Never have I heard the President referred to as an oppressor of Catholics. Never have I heard a prayer asking God’s intercession on behalf of Catholics suffering persecution; especially for their beliefs about Marriage, human sexuality, the Unborn Child and the Terminally Ill. And never, while praying for those who help the sick ( praying in the normal way we pray…indefinitely, anonymously, blandly, indeterminately) never have I ever heard a prayer in thanksgiving for “the priest -chaplains”. Never have I heard “Us”, we Catholics, mentioned in a Prayer of the faithful. It is always some bland pronominal word or phrase; people of faith, the poor and humble of the earth, Christian peoples or those deprived of freedom of worship. Sounds good, means nothing. I have never heard a prayer of the faithful like this one. Simply, never.
I decided that I would take home a copy of the Prayer of the Faithful while wondering if it would ever be voiced in any church I knew. So, after Mass was over I went into the Sacristy and met the pastor, a young looking slim man of medium height, Father Douglas Arcoleo. He greeted me with a smile and showed real delight when i told him I was from New Hampshire.
“You have Bishop Libasci, now. He’s a great man,” he said. The he told me to meet him over at the rectory and he would give us a copy of the Prayers of the Faithful. Soon we were inside, and soon enough after that he appeared with the the sheet that’s on the desk in front of me. I don’t know whether or not I should frame it.
We spoke for a few minutes more and then began to leave. “Wait,” he said. “I will bless you.” We knelt together there in the little room while he did just that, and wished us a safe journey home to New Hampshire, and Bishop Peter Libasci. If Father Arcoleo is any indication of the kind of men coming out of that diocese, our new Bishop will have a great fast ball.
The game is about to get interesting, I think.