April 23, 2015
What's broken in the Church's liturgy that needs fixing?
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

I think that by now readers know that I am an unambiguous supporter of the liturgical reforms brought about by the Second Vatican Council. These reforms were sorely needed, and there is no going back, as some “conservatives” would wish.

The reform in the liturgy, particularly of the Mass, was undoubtedly the centerpiece of post-Vatican II developments. The liturgical changes impinged immediately on the life of worshipers. Practicing Catholic experienced the liturgical reforms first...

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April 17, 2015
Raising perfect children by teaching authentic family values
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

Judith Martin (a.k.a. Miss Manners), the widely syndicated columnist, has written a number of books on proper social behavior. One of them is entitled, Miss Manners’ Guide to Rearing Perfect Children.

What Mrs. Martin is writing about in this elegantly over-the-top book is what we call today family values. Here is my personal (but partial) list of family values:

*Children are raised with a strong sense of responsibility to and for parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, uncles and...

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April 02, 2015
Sign of Peace at Mass needs to maintain a public character
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The Catholic liturgical tradition regards the Sign of Peace at Mass as a disciplined and restrained public gesture, and not an affectionate gesture of intimacy and friendship. In fact, the peace sign is designed for people who, for the most part, do not even know each other’s names.

This derives from the fact that the liturgical assembly is not (and is not meant to be) a gathering of friends and intimates. In my view, it is a mistake to view those gathered in worship as friends and...

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March 26, 2015
The Eucharist is the ‘memory bank’ of the Church
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

When we celebrate the origin of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, we cast our minds back to the Last Supper which Jesus shared with his disciples on the night before he died. However, the sacrament of the Eucharist is related not only to the Last Supper, but to every Mass celebrated through the centuries.

The Eucharist is imprinted with the life of the Church from its beginning and is the “memory bank” of God’s people.

The great Anglican Benedictine Gregory Dix, at the end of his...

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March 19, 2015
Is human society a covenant community or a marketplace?
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The United States was founded as a covenant society – a society held together by a covenant with God and between citizens. This notion was uppermost in the minds of the Founding Fathers. Social institutions were to be inspired and directed by the concept of covenant.

Recent social commentators have lamented the break-down of this conception of society and the general social malaise it has wrought.
One of the most problematic trends that kills the notion of covenant is the...

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March 12, 2015
A new model of Catechumenal formation needs promotion
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is one of the most successful features of post-Vatican II liturgical renewal. It replaced the old inquiry class model, in which the priest (generally a priest) taught the inquirer (or inquirers) on doctrine and morals. The place of formation was the classroom, the symbol was the blackboard, and the leader was a lecturer. This model continues in some parishes today.

With the near demise of the inquiry class model after Vatican II, there...

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March 05, 2015
'God's Household' is a rich image of the Church
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The Protestant scholar Paul Minear, in his book Images of the Church in the New Testament, identifies 96 ways of looking at the Church. Avery (later Cardinal) Dulles, S.J., (my one-time teacher) in his book Models of the Church shows how very important images are in understanding the Church.

Of all the images of the Church my favorite is the “Household of God.” The understanding of the Church as God’s household is rich in meaning, and it allows us to view the broad panorama of...

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February 26, 2015
Evangelization means the renewal of Catholic Institutions
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The Catholic Church in the U.S. has been committed since Vatican II to a new and vigorous program of evangelization. However, discussions and writings on what this means have often suffered from inadequate clarity.

The word “evangelization” itself may be part of the problem. While it clearly means proclaiming the Gospel, it is not always evident how this takes place. Perhaps the word “evangelization” is hampered by its association with evangelical Protestantism with its emphasis...

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February 19, 2015
How priests and deacons should not give homilies
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

Fr. John. J. Conley, S. J., a professor of theology and philosophy at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, recently penned an article for the Jesuit periodical America entitled, “How Not to Preach.”

Fr. Conley identifies himself “as a veteran of 60 years in the pews and 30 years in the pulpit.” His description of Catholic preaching is both amusing and disturbing. He sets out three dangers that homilists need to avoid.

1. The homily is all about you, the priest. “Keep the...

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February 13, 2015
Banning altar girls: theologically unsound and pastorally imprudent?
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

In a January 26 statement, Fr. Joseph Illo, pastor of Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco, announced a new policy whereby altar girls at Mass would be phased out and thenceforth only boys would serve at the altar.

Fr. Illo gives both practical and theological reasons for the move: “First, in a mixed altar-server program, boys usually end up losing interest, because girls generally do a better job.”

As a long-time parish priest, this has not been my experience. Altar servers--both...

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