Friday, December 10, 2010

Update: Funeral Arrangements for Robert Johansen, Sr.

The visitation and funeral arrangements for my dad are as follows:

Visitation: Tuesday, December 15, 2010

7:00 pm Rosary – followed by visitation

Hartson Funeral Home
11111 West Janesville Road
Hales Corners, WI 53130

(Hales Corners is a southern suburb of Milwaukee)

Funeral Mass: Wednesday, December 15th at 1:30 pm

Saint Mary’s Catholic Church
9520 West Forest Home Avenue
Hales Corners, WI

I will be grateful for all your prayers.

Requiescat in Pace: Robert J. Johansen, Sr.

I've been away from the blog for a while, being busy with school and all. I would have wanted to come back for a happier reason. But I am grieved to announce that my father, Robert Johansen, Sr. passed into eternity on Wednesday of this week. He was 70 years old. His death came suddenly - though he had been suffering from heart trouble in recent years, and had been "slowing down", he was nonetheless quite active. In fact, he was in Texas at the time of his death, making arrangements to put his home there up for sale. He was having lunch with his brothers when he suddenly collapsed, and he never regained consciousness, in spite of the heroic efforts of the EMT squad.

My Dad and stepmom moved back to Milwaukee 18 months ago, and I count that as the greatest of blessings, because that made it possible for me to spend a lot more time with him than I would have if he had still been in Texas. This summer we were able to go fishing quite a bit - that was one of his favorite things. Sometimes we didn't catch much: my dad always said there was a difference between fishing and catching. But some of my best days with my dad were spent out on the boat fishing with him, whether we caught anything or not.

I just had dinner last Thursday with my Dad and stepmom. I am so glad I saw him then. We had a good evening. As I mentioned, I have been noticing him "slowing down" over the last couple of years. But I didn't expect this, now. I guess he was still my Dad, the man who could do everything, and do it well.

My Father and I at Sacred Heart Seminary, on the Occasion of my Graduation
(all photos may be viewed full-size by clicking on them)

My Dad was my biggest supporter, my biggest fan. He was at least as happy as I was when I learned that I was going for graduate studies at the Liturgical Institute. Over the past year or so, he has said a number of times that he wanted to be around long enough to see me get my doctorate. It pains me to think that he won't even be there for my STL graduation in the Spring.

My Dad was a real Dad. He was there for me. Even when my parents split up, he was always there. He taught me to fish and to shoot and hunt. He was involved with me in my Boy Scout troop. He came with us on camping trips, and all of that. He helped me with my math homework - being an engineer, he had a grasp of math that evaded me. But most of all, he was just there. I could call him and ask him about anything technical or mechanical or countless other things, and he could give me an answer. Over the years he came up with so many absolutely dazzling brilliant projects and gadgets.

He was my genius.

My Dad at Work on His Texas "Ranch"

He loved being outdoors, working on his projects. He couldn't just sit and do nothing for very long. He loved his "ranch" (a bit of hyperbole) in Texas, and whenever I went down there to visit, he always had some project or other that he wanted my help with. I'd grumble sometimes that I was on vacation, but I'd always pitch in. Sometimes I'm not sure how much actual "help" I was, as I didn't always pick up on what he seemed to grasp intuitively about what we were working on. But I was always glad to be with him.

A Closer Shot of my Dad on his Tractor

Last week, when I was leaving after dinner, our last words to each other were "Love you, Dad", and "Love you, buster" (he has called me that since I was a small boy). I am glad those were our last words, but how I would like to be able to talk with him again! I will remember countless things about him, but, of course, that's not the same. I will remember his intelligence, energy, his laugh, even his gruffness. But I will remember his love: that he expressed with words, but even more so with his efforts, actions, and sacrifices.

Love you, Dad.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat ei.

P.S. Funeral arrangements for my father are still pending. As soon as they are finalized, I will post the information.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The New Missal - Disaster or Opportunity?

I have a new piece up at Inside Catholic on the English translation of the new Missal that was approved last week.

The title is "The New Missal: Disaster or Opportunity?"

I take the position that it's not a disaster, but is a generational opportunity for liturgical catechesis:
The impending implementation of the new Missal reveals interesting and problematic issues regarding our expectations of liturgy and what I have elsewhere described as the "ideologization" of liturgy. Many of the objections and protests regarding the new Missal frequently arise from ideas and agendas that are neither liturgical nor theological, and hence serve neither to clarify the faith nor edify the faithful.

In the article I refer to other things I have written on ideology and liturgy. My original piece on this is here:

A Necessary Conversation About Ideologized Liturgy

Read and Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Mom's Move: Success and Thanks!

Sorry to be away so long -- been busy with school, etc.

Well, we did successfully get my Mom moved last month. Some very good people from a neighboring parish came through.

Special thanks go to Louis and Mary Baez (hope I'm spelling the last name right...). Louis and Mary really spearheaded the effort and arranged everything.

Many thanks to all who helped. You're storing up treasure in heaven!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Help Needed! My Mom's Moving Disaster

Last week I posted a request regarding my Mom's need for help with moving. A number of you responded with offers of help and some other suggestions. And, not long after my request was posted, my Mom was contacted by someone from her parish, and it looked like everything was in good shape.

Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way. The offer of help from her parish ended up not materializing in actuality: there didn't seem to be much follow-through. There were also some bureaucratic difficulties (my Mom has wanted badly to get out of her present residence for a while as it has been very unpleasant), delaying the move.

So now, things are in even worse shape than before. If we can't get her moved by the end of this week, she risks losing the new apartment. She has to move out of her present apartment before the end of April.

My Mom is disabled. At this point she has no one but my niece (who has an infant child) to help her. The new moving day is this Friday, April 9.

So I'm once again sounding the cry for help!

If you live in the Orlando, Florida, area, and can give some time and effort, or make some concrete suggestions for alternatives, that will be greatly appreciated.

My Mom lives in Deland, Florida, and is moving to Orange City, which is nearby.

My e-mail address is:

frrob AT earthlink DOT net

My e-mail address, with link, is also in the sidebar on the right side of the page.

Thank you!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Update On My Mom's Situation

Thanks to those who have sent e-mails offering suggestions! I received some good news: I spoke to a gentleman at my Mom's parish who is coordinating some help for my Mom, through the K of C and other parishioners.

Sometimes, in these matters, it is just a question of getting in touch with the right person, who can bring the right people together.

So it looks like my Mom is going to get the help she needs. Deo Gratias!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bleg! Help Needed For My Mother

I am asking any readers in the Orlando, Florida area if they might be able to do me and my mother a big favor.

My mother, Carole, lives in Deland, Florida. She is 66 years old and disabled, due to a back injury sustained at work about 6 years ago.

She needs to move by April 1, and she needs help in packing up her belongings in her apartment. She doesn't so much need help in actually moving (transporting furniture, etc). We have people who can help with that. But she needs help with physically packing up (boxing, etc.) her belongings in her apartment. She is simply physically unable to do a lot of that. My niece has been helping her out, but my niece has a 3 month old baby, so there's only so much she can do. And my niece's husband works, and as it is will be taking a day off of work to help with the move itself. It is next to impossible that I will be able to get down there before April 1.

We have tried local social service agencies, my mom's parish and the local K of C, and have thus far come up with nothing. And time is running out.

If you would be able and willing to give an afternoon or evening or two in the next week to help my mom out, you would be a Godsend.

Please e-mail me if you can help, or if you have another idea or source of assistance. My e-mail address is:

frrob AT earthlink DOT net

My e-mail address, with link, is also in the sidebar on the right side of the page.

Thank you!

I Consider Everything as Loss...

Sunday afternoon, as I was contemplating the likelihood of the Obamacare Health Care bill's passage, my mind was drawn repeatedly to Sunday's readings, particularly the second, from St. Paul's letter to the Phillipians:
Brothers and sisters:
I consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things
and I consider them so much rubbish,
that I may gain Christ and be found in him...
(Phil. 3:8-9)

Since the passage of that disastrous legislation, my thoughts have returned to that reading.

I think, as I have written below, that this "Health Care" legislation will lead to the public funding and provision of abortion in a way we have never seen before. If it stands the coming legal challenges, and is not repealed or severely modified, I think it will open up a Pandora's box. It shreds any conscience protection for health care professionals, and thus will serve to further push Catholics to the margins in health care. Furthermore, I think Sr. Keehan and the CHA will find, in the long run, that they have made a devil's bargain. He who pays the piper calls the tune: and with the power of the state behind advancing the abortion license in health care, there will be inevitable pressure put upon Catholic hospitals to line up with the new regime. I think, in the long run, that this could spell the end for any distinctively Catholic (in terms of values and moral principles) identity in health care.

But again, to return to St. Paul: St. Paul lived in an age and society that was far more hostile to the faith than our own. We have to remember that there have been times and places where things were far worse for the Church and her members. And yet the Faith endured, the Church survived, and even sometimes, prevailed. Why, because we have Christ, who has already won the victory.

"I consider everything as a loss..." Everything. That means fortune, property, Catholic schools and hospitals, and yes, even our nation. We will not be saved by America. We will not even be saved through America. I love my country, but I must face the reality that at some point, like every other human institution, it will come to an end. If we realize that our nation itself is destined to be a loss, that puts into perspective a defeat such as Obamacare.

Yesterday, John Derbyshire at National Review Online wrote about the decline of our Republic that Obamacare typifies. If I recall correctly, Mr. Derbyshire is not a believer, and he takes a somewhat Stoic view of things, which comes out in this passage:
I see plainly that Western civilization, over my lifetime, has been a slow-sinking ship. The few who have known what is happening have worked desperately to seal the watertight doors, repair the fissures, pump out the flooded zones. It's been a losing fight, though. The tilt of the decks is harder and harder to ignore. Last night, a major bulkhead gave way. Soon a funnel will topple over with a great crash and a shower of sparks. Yet still the band is playing, the people are dancing, the food coming up from the galley.

I am not sure things are yet as dire as Derbyshire describes. If he is right, we must face that reality unflinchingly, and be ready for what may come. To that extent, the stoic approach is useful.

But even if he is right, we are not mere Stoics. Why? Because we have Christ. That means we have something that the Stoics do not: We have hope. Hope not for America, hope not for some ideal State or Nation or Republic, but hope for Eternity, where moth and rust do not consume, nor do the politicians royally foul things up.

Even if the ship of state is sinking, we have a lifeboat - the barque of Peter. And that lifeboat will carry us safely to the shore. Therein lies our hope.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Biretta Sighting!

Last week we celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, and on that same day, the Liturgical Institute offered Dr. Denis McNamara's Hillenbrand Lecture (see previous post below).

In honor of the auspicious day and occasion, a couple of my confreres and I decided to "fly the flag" by making a fuller use of presbyteral sartory.

Hence, you see us in soutane and, of course, it's accompanying proper headcover:

(all photos may be viewed full-size by clicking on them)

Pictured, from left to right, are Fr. Dana Christensen of the White Around the Collar blog, Fr. Donald Richardson, a priest of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia, and, of course, myself. We were photographed in the Music Room of Mundelein Seminary, under the full-length portrait of Cardinal Mundelein.

Here we are, with heads uncovered:

This is what you may receive from us at the mention of liturgical dance:

We Are Not Amused

The sunny skies return:

Back to Our Usual Cheerfulness

And, finally, with Dr. McNamara, following his lecture:

Friday, February 05, 2010

A Jeweled Garden Where the Angels Live

The Hillenbrand Lecture at the Liturgical Institute

On Tuesday evening, February 2, Dr. Denis McNamara, assistant director of the Liturgical Institute at the University of St, Mary of the Lake, presented one of the annual Hillenbrand lectures, which is a series of lectures sponsored by the Institute to address topics of serious study related to the Sacred Liturgy. The Hillenbrand Lectures are named after Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand, a Chicago priest who was one of the leaders of the Liturgical Movement. Among other things, he was an organizer of the “Liturgical Weeks” of the 1940s.

The Liturgical Institute's Director, Fr. Douglas Martis, STD,
making some introductory remarks.
(all photos may be viewed full-size by clicking on them)

Dr. McNamara is a well-known architectural historian, specializing in sacred architecture. His most recent book, Catholic Church Architecture and The Spirit of the Liturgy, was recommended “wholeheartedly” by Archbishop Raymond Burke and characterized as “ingenious” by Professor David Fagerberg of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy.

McNamara’s lecture was titled “A Jeweled Garden Where the Angels Live: Gothic Architecture and the Inheritance of the Temple”. In it, Dr. McNamara showed how the legacy of architectural symbolism of the Jewish Temple was taken up by the early Christian church and continued to inform the language of Gothic architecture. I was fortunate to have attended his lecture, and present a few excerpts from his presentation here.

Dr. Denis McNamara

McNamara began his remarks by pointing out that the title and inspiration for his presentation comes from Margaret Barker, who used the phrase “a jeweled garden where the angels live” to refer to the Temple of Jerusalem. McNamara’s study of Gothic architecture led him to believe that the architects and builders of the Middle Ages were deliberately using Temple themes to show the fulfillment of the Old Testament and its people in the New Covenant of Christ and his Church.

McNamara asked the question:
Why make a medieval church look like this? Is it just that Constantine dumped all of the imperial court ritual on to the simple fellowship meals that the early Christians are supposed to have had, and ruined the purity of the early Church? That’s the dominant, mainstream thought in architecture for the past 30 to 40 years. Or is there something more? I would argue that there is something more.

Dr. Denis McNamara Discussing Old Testament Typologies

Dr. McNamara showed several slides of reconstructions of the Temple, and observed that:
The inside of the temple was in cedar covered with gold, but it was carved: Carved with leaves, vines, palm trees, gourds, vegetables, and flowers. What comes to mind? The Garden of Eden. How can you experience the restoration of the Garden, before the restoration actually happens? Well, here it is, architecturally, in these panels carved with flowers, leaves, and trees. And this is not just some sort of “Walden Pond”, Thoreau-ian kind of garden: this is a glorified, perfected, ordered, radiant garden, overlaid with gold. A garden where gems are in the very walls and floors: It’s an eschatological garden: the image of the world restored at the end of time.

Artist's Rendering of the Temple Interior

McNamara then proceeded to explain the development of churches in the Patristic age, in which the fathers explicitly adopted Temple imagery and themes:
If you look at someone like the patristic-era church historian Eusebius, you see that he calls the altar the “holy of holies”… he calls the bishop of Tyre, who built a new church, the “new Zerubbabel”, after the governor of Israel who rebuilt the Temple after the Babylonian exile. So the bishop is a new temple-builder and a new tabernacle-builder, and the altar is the new Ark, the place of God’s presence. So the “shadow” [of the Old Testament temple], comes roaring right into the early Church. Note that Eusebius doesn’t say “Wow! That royal imperial court liturgy is so cool and makes Jesus look really important, so let’s do that.” No. He is saying “let’s imitate the temple”.

Dr. McNamara Explaining the Symbolism of the Temple

How we understand these issues is of great import, for how we think about liturgy, and our place in it, depends largely on how we conceive of our relationship with the worship of the Old Covenant:
…Cardinal Ratzinger insists that both the synagogue and the temple entered into Christian life. But what happens to Catholic worship without Temple imagery? The Ark of the Covenant, which is fulfilled in the tabernacle, the abiding presence of God, gets moved to a less prominent place, the church becomes a meeting hall, and the priest becomes a “presider”. And so, you see, a lot of thinking about liturgy “breaks” on what you think of the Temple. It’s not an accident that a lot of reformation denominations said that “the Temple is obsolete.” Read Calvin: for him, [regarding the Temple] “it’s all done, it’s over. It was interesting, It helped the Israelites, but we don’t need it anymore.” And so the church becomes a meeting house and the priest a leader or presider, rather than a sacral image of Christ. So again, our ideas about the church and liturgy “break” on how we think about the Temple.

Dr. McNamara used numerous examples of medieval gothic churches and cathedrals to show how temple themes were used again and again, such as jewels and gold to convey radiance and light:
… So in Gothic architecture builders were able to open up the walls to let in gem-like colorful and radiant light. And they used the colors of the gems, and the very gems themselves, that were used in the temple… They couldn’t cover the windows externally with rubies and other gems, but they used the next best thing – stained glass.

McNamara used the church of St. Denis in Paris as an example of these temple motifs. He quoted from Abbot Suger, who rebuilt the church as the first true exemplar of the gothic style in the 12th century:
Abbot Suger, writing of this church, says that the image (building) is the symbol of the Church glorified…but it’s also the holy of holies where God dwells – this is temple language.

Interior of St. Denis

Another example of the gothic use of Temple motifs can be seen in the church of Sainte-Chapelle, also in Paris. Though it was severely damaged in the French revolution and reconstructed in the 19th century, that reconstruction was done after extensive archaeological research and with a serious effort to make the reconstruction as faithful as possible. McNamara said of this church:
The flame-like spires are covered with little leaves and garden-like vines, reaching up into the sky. You walk up into the church, and you see gold, patterns of flowers, leaves, and trees. You see the whole world is a glorious, radiant, colorful interior, with a starry sky above. The apostles are on each of the 12 pillars of the church, and then when you look up close, you see leaves, flowers, angels, rubies, emeralds; then, the view up to the sky above heavenly Jerusalem.

Dr. McNamara persuasively argued that the Gothic church was replete with Temple imagery, particularly that of the restoration of the Garden of Eden. So Margaret Barker’s phrase, which she applied to the Temple, might readily be applied to Gothic churches as well: They are “Jeweled Gardens Where the Angels Live.”

A Gothic Angel
Cultivating Beauty in the Liturgy - Candlemas

This past Tuesday, of course, was the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known historically as Candlemas. Here at the Liturgical Institute we began Mass with the traditional Blessing of Candles and Procession. We then celebrated a beautifully reverent Mass, with incense, and Gregorian Chant. I'm afraid I don't have any photos, but we did record the Gregorian Alleluia for the Mass. Fr. John-Mark Missio, a fellow student of mine at the Institute, and I sung the Alleluia.

Images may be viewed full-size by clicking on them.

Listen by clicking on the player here:

Alleluia for Candlemas

The text might be translated as:

"The old man carried the boy; however, the Boy guided the old man."

At the Liturgical Institute we strive to celebrate the Liturgy with reverence, fidelity and beauty, and I hope this recording illustrates that effort.