Welcome! This blog celebrates both the local and the catholic -- that is, universal -- aspects of the Roman Catholic Church by sharing reflections on experiences of the Church in a variety of settings and cultures. Postings will come from around the world and around the corner. You don't have to be a Catholic to come along.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Chair of Peter

Most American Catholics, like their countrymen of other faiths, are aware that today is the birthday of George Washington, our first president as well as the general who won American independence.

In the Church calendar, however, Feb. 22 has another significance. For today is also the Feast of the Chair of Peter. The Liturgy of the Hours explains it this way: "Since the fourth century, the feast of the Chair of Peter has been celebrated at Rome as a sign of the unity of the Church founded upon that apostle."

Imperfect as that unity is, and imperfect as Peter was and his successors have been, I am grateful for the gift of authority represented by that chair at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It is a blessing to Catholics, not a burden.

The current occupant of that chair, Pope Benedict XVI, recently sat down with German journalist Peter Seewald for six hours of conversation that were published in book form as Light of the World. It is a fascinating insight into the mind of a great theologian who is also a great pastor.

You may have read some controversial excerpts from this book that became journalistic fodder for a few news cycles late last year. The book is a lot more than that, and excerpts just don't do it justice. Buy a copy or pick it up at the library and see for yourself.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Farewell to a humble and holy priest

We buried a great priest over the weekend, the humble and holy Fr. Paul Rehling.

Appropriately, the funeral Mass took place in the beautiful St. William Church in Price Hill, where he had served so generously since his so-called retirement a decade ago, even after being diagnosed more than a year ago with A-plastic anemia. The church, which holds about 700 people, was packed all the way up the choir loft. Dozens of priests attended, and four bishops concelebrated.

One of the bishops was Most Rev. Gabriel Mante of Jasikan, Ghana, West Africa, a diocese that Fr. Rehling served as a seminary professor in one chapter of his adventurous life. He as also a pastor, priest personnel director and spiritual director for many seminarians.

The Gospel reading which Fr. Rehling chose for the Mass was from the 13th chapter of the Gospel of John, in which Jesus washes the feet of the apostles and tells them to serve likewise.

In an extraordinary homily, Fr. David Brinkmoeller preached on the responsorial psalm, which was prayed in the form of the song "Taste and See," written by Dr. James E. Moore for Fr. Rehling's 25th anniversary of ordination three decades ago.

The homily focused on how Fr. Rehling tasted and saw the goodness of the Lord throughout his life, which made him a happy priest who never saw himself the way others did -- as someone special. Fr. Brinkmoeller also talked about how Fr. Rehling made the decision to forgo further treatment for his illness because the blood transfusions and the drugs were only postponing the inevitable and others could use them. How like him.

Well done, good and faithful servant!