Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chrismas Day... and Roger Night

Before all else, it can't go unnoted that this Holy Tuesday sees the vast majority of these shores' Chrism Masses -- the annual "family reunion" of each diocese headlined by the consecration of the local church's supply of oils for the year and paying tribute to the ministerial priesthood in light of its "anniversary" on Holy Thursday.

Given that, a Merry Chrismas to one and all... and, in a special way, to all the troops out there -- especially in this Year of the Priest and, indeed, with all the painful, easily demoralizing stories floating about -- no words could say enough thanks for everything you are and everything you do.

Most of all, please keep it up.

* * *
That said, keeping with his predecessor's tradition of reserving major personnel announcements for the annual rite, the head of the nation's largest local church didn't leave his guys empty-handed last night... even if, as expected, Cardinal Roger Mahony still lacked The Announcement that's kept the LA crowd on edge and then some these last several months.

Before a beyond-standing room crowd of 4,500-plus that spilled into the aisles and packed the back of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for Chrism's SoCal edition, the 74 year-old cardinal apparently had fun with the continuing frenzy over his succession at the liturgy's close.

A friend in the sanctuary captured it thus:
At the end of the Mass, [Mahony] rose from his cathedra and showed the crowd an envelope from the apostolic nuncio, saying "Should I open this, or is everyone too tired and wants to go home?"

He asked all those who wanted him to open the envelope to say yea. Everyone shouts a huge "YEA!"

He drew it out a bit. Then he opened the envelope and red the letter. It was announcing some new monsignori. He read out the names, called up all the priests named monsignor and they got a round of applause.

Then he said "Oh look, there's something else in the envelope! Do you want me to read this?"

Of course, everyone is disappointed at this point that the letter he read was about monsignori because we are all dying to know who the coadjutor will be.

"It's getting kind of late, maybe I shouldn't read this.... OK, all those who want me to read the second letter say Yea."


So with great drama he opens the letter supposedly from the nuncio and says, "Oh, the nuncio has quoted scripture."

He then reads Ecclesiastes 3:1-9, ending it with "There is a time to announce a new archbishop...but this is not the time."

He gets a huge laugh and, smiling, returns to the cathedra to offer the final blessing.
Given the outbreak of "Arch Madness" over the coming choice, it's a miracle the locals didn't stampede the chair to read the letters for themselves.

According to two sources who attended a meeting with Mahony mid-last week, the cardinal said then that he still had not been informed of the identity of his successor-in-waiting.

In sharing the list of Purple Rain recipients on his blog -- 14 in all -- the cardinal added that "a large number of laity across the Archdiocese will be honored in the near future with either the Benemerenti Medal or the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal in recognition of their outstanding discipleship with Jesus Christ and their service of the Church here in our Archdiocese."

Before the current crop, LA's last class of Roman award-winners came in 2005 with the "Purple Tsunami," which saw 13 monsignori and a staggering 200-plus lay gongs conferred.

In his 1998 class of papal knights, Mahony conferred the Order of St Gregory the Great on -- among others -- Magic Kingdom heir Roy Disney, Bob Hope and the media-titan Rupert Murdoch.