There are a few priests that have had a direct influence on my life, for the better. They have challenged me and they have helped to make me a good Catholic.
First, is Fr. Mike Larkin. As a young man who was starting down the path to who I am now, Fr. Larkin has been a constant friend and check and balance for me. He and I are not on the same page when it comes to the Church, but he is unabashedly Catholic and I respect that. He is from a different time and he has a different view of Holy Mother Church. That is ok. From my perspective, he taught me the basics of what it means to live a normal Catholic life and that it is ok to be Catholic. He also was the first to recognize a potential vocation in me....
Next is the Monsignor Richard J. Schuler. Mons. Schuler was the one who taught me the patrimony of the Church. He taught me that Vatican Council II wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but that it was the men who came out of the Council that hi-jacked parts of it. He also taught me that to know that to be faithful to the Council and to honestly look at it is the only way that it can be authentic.
He also was the one person who taught me about the liturgy. Monsignor was probably the most accomplished liturgist of his day. He understood the Mass to a depth that cannot be readily spoken about. His understanding of solemnity and truth in the Mass and that it is THE KEY to the Catholic Faith has stuck with me for my whole life and has been the driving force behind me learning and soaking up as much as I can about making every Mass I am involved in the most solemn and most well done thing that it can be. There are no shortcuts when it comes to the Mass. As Fr. Zuhlsdorf says, "Do the Red, Say the Black." Where do you think that Fr. Z got it from?
Monsignor Schuler taught me three things about the Mass that I will always push....1) Know your ceremonies and do them well. The faithful worship with their senses as well as their souls. Engage all of them as often as you can. 2) Understand your role and strive to do it perfectly. You might be an MC one week and a torch the next. Do your job well and serve in the capacity in which you are charged. It is all for the Greater Glory of God. 3) Adopt a system and teach that system no matter what place you are at. It might take time, but implement the system. The church building will adapt to the ceremony, because if the church is Catholic and the ceremony is Catholic, they will work together.
Next is Fr. Ben Kosnac. Fr. Ben taught me that normalcy is ok and that the Church is universal. Fr. Ben is Slovakian and that even though we are a world apart, we are the same. Catholicism knows no bounds. None. When a Mass is celebrated in Latin, a Slovak and an American can know exactly the same thing at the same time. Fr. Ben's view on life was always with a smile. Always....
- As a sidenote: Fr. Val Rykowski. Fr. Val taught me to love being Catholic. Love is a hard thing to grasp and the love that the Church has is an amazing thing. No matter what we do, no matter where we go, even when we turn our backs, the Church still loves us and will always take us back. God Loves You!
These are the men, outside my family, that have taught me to be Catholic. They have taught me to be faithful and they have all taught me to love the liturgy. For it is through the liturgy that we find our faith. It is where we begin, it is where we end. Eveything else we do in the Church is anchored in the Mass. All of these priests have been faithful to the Mass and all of them are Eucharistic as well as Marian. Without their views on the Mass, I would not be the ceremoniere that I am today.
So, to all of them, I say thank you and God Bless you. To Monsignor Schuler and Fr. Val, I pray for the repose of your souls every day. One day you will be in paradise.