Sunday, December 11, 2011

John Patrick Cardinal Foley; Rest in Peace

Early this morning, one of the great figures of Catholicism in America went to his eternal reward.  Most of us, even if we do not recognize his face, will certainly recognize his voice.  For many years he was the commentator for the televised Masses of the Holy Father from Rome.  My association with him comes via the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre, for which he was the Grand Master.  He was present at our annual Convention a few years ago and quickly became well loved for his obvious love and reverence for Our Lord, the Sacred Liturgy and the work of the Knights and Ladies in the Holy Land, not to mention his delightful sense of humor. I was particularly moved by how he reverently bowed his head every time, whether in the Sacred Liturgy or in conversation the holy name of Jesus was spoken.  He was one of the kindest and most gentle churchman I have ever had the privilege to work with.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Been Awhile...

In case there are still some folks who come here looking for blog posts, here is my homily for the First Sunday of Advent.  I know it's been awhile since I posted anything, but honestly, I don't know if there is anything I can say that isn't being said by someone else in the blogosphere.  Even so, people keep asking me to post my homilies and other thoughts, so here you go.

Oremus pro invicem. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

As Through a Veil...

Vox Clamantis In Deserto…
A Voice Crying In The Desert…

This week as you come to Mass you probably noticed a change in the sanctuary: the tabernacle is in the middle, and not only that, but it is veiled.  On my first Sunday here I announced that the presider’s chair would be moved to the side, because the presider is not the center of attention, Jesus is.  This latest change is one more step in making sure that Jesus our focus.  He is the heart and focal point of our parish community, and now this is reflected in our parish Church.

The tabernacle is also veiled.  There are many reasons for this, the first of which is that the Church asks us to veil the tabernacle.  The very word “tabernacle” means “tent.”  It is the word that the Israelites used to describe the tent in which the Ark of the Covenant was kept.  The Ark of the covenant is where God dwelled.  Within it was kept some of the miraculous manna – the heavenly bread - which fed the Israelites as they wandered in the desert.  This tabernacle of old was considered so holy that is was kept veiled; hidden from our sight.  The tabernacle that we have doesn’t contain merely manna, but the very bread of life, Jesus Himself.  It is much more sacred, much more holy, and thus it too is veiled.

The veil is meant to remind us that in this life we do not yet see the fullness of heaven…we do not see God face to face.  One day we will enter behind the veil that is between this life and the life to come.  Then we will see God face to face.  But here we do not have such a privilege, heaven is behind the veil.  We know it is there, but we cannot see through it.  The veil on our tabernacle reminds us this.  It should make us long to see into the tabernacle…into the dwelling of God…into heaven itself. 

I pray that this small change to the Sanctuary will be a constant reminder of who is the focus of everything we do as a parish community.  Our eyes are set firmly on Jesus.  He is the center of our parish.  He is the heart of our parish, for from His Sacred Heart, truly present in the tabernacle, His Precious Blood flows to each and every part of His Mystical Body, the Church.  Ever time that we enter this Church, let us gaze upon His presence, hidden behind a veil, and let us fall to our knees and praise Him who loves us so much as to continue to live in our presence through the gift of the Holy Eucharist.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where Are You?

Time sure does fly. It seems like it has been forever since I have posted anything here Hopefully there are still a few of you who still check in now and again.

Over the past few weeks I have been working with some colleagues to put on a number of workshops on the new translation of the Roman Missal. The workshop will be available online soon. I will provide a link when it is up.

This coming Friday I begin my new assignment as pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul in Dimock and Holy Trinity in Ethan. I am very grateful to my Bishop for this assignment and look forward to jumping back into Priestly Ministry after two years of school. Please pray for me and the flock that has been entrusted to my care.

After I get settled in it is my hope to begin to post the audio of my homilies here once again.

Friday, April 29, 2011

"A Virile, Muscular Catholicism"

One of the greatest days of my life: February 20, 2000

From the ubiquitous Fr. Z in the Washington Post:

Pope John Paul II: Fearless in hope and love By Fr. John Zuhlsdorf In some cities in the USA when a local team wins a basketball game, crowds burn cars. But when John Paul II’s body was lying on view in St. Peter’s Basilica, one first responder, police officer and volunteer worker after the next told me that there had not been a single act of civil disobedience or problem reported. That means something. During the days which preceded his funeral, armed with media credentials I was able to move freely through the checkpoints and channels for the millions, literally, of people who stood in slow moving lines for scores of hours to see the dead Pope’s body for the last time. Peacefulness, prayer and patience reigned.
 At the end of the funeral, the wind blew closed the cover of Book of the Gospels. Men lifted John Paul’s onto their shoulders. They stopped before the open doors of the Basilica and slowly pin-wheeled, as if to give him one last public wave. A shout went up, simultaneous because of the huge video screens along the nearby streets. That shout, which echoed across a silent and motionless Rome, may have been the single loudest purely human sound ever raised on high in that City of over 3000 years.
 There began the rising chant of the people, “Santo Subito… Sainthood Soon”. It may have been a manifestation of the old adage Vox Populi Vox Dei… The Voice of the People is the Voice of God. I don’t know that, but it was unlike any chant I had ever heard before. Of course when in Rome you hear the word “subito,” especially from a waiter, you almost never expect what you’ve requested to happen quickly. And yet here we are at his beatification.
 Leaving aside the issue of the record-breaking speed of the late Pope John Paul II’s beatification (2220 days, 15 days faster the Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta), we should all be able to remember and agree on some of the achievements of his life as a good man, a faithful member of his Catholic Church, and life-long disciple of the Lord and Savior he so obviously loved. 
 A pebble can prompt a tumultuous landslide. John Paul dropped a great many stones. Many of them are still gathering speed. On the geopolitical plane, the visit of John Paul II to his native Poland after his election as pope helped to diminish worldwide the soul annihilating forces of atheistic communism. Within the church, after a decade and more of internal rebellion and chaos, John Paul’s manifest confidence, love of neighbor and focus on the Redeemer of man initiated the gradual rebuilding of order and morale, especially among young people, which continues still under the pontificate of Pope Benedict. 
From the early loss of his parents and the hardship of a youth under Nazi occupation, including forced labor and serious injury, to the sorrow of seeing his beloved Poland and her people suffer under communism, from witnessing open defiance on the part of clergy and theologians within the church to being shot by an assassin in St. Peter’s Square, from the horror of emerging of stories about abuse of children, to the ever increasing agony of Parkinson’s Disease which sapped his vitality and imprisoned him in physical weakness, John Paul radiated hope.
 Even as he became smaller, he seemed to become all the greater, for it was Christ who increased in him. Young people were inspired by his joy. The frail elderly man gradually brightened as a beacon of hope to us all. Let us not forget that we too are daily drawing closer to our own decline and death with their attendant pains and challenges. We will be no less precious and valuable when we grow weaker. In his choice to suffer publicly, John Paul taught us that love of God and beauty of soul are the truly human values which matter, not wealth or youthful beauty or passing worldly goods. John Paul stood as a sign of contradiction in an increasingly shallow and materialist age.
 John Paul strode onto the church’s stage announcing a virile, muscular Catholicism even as he relentlessly taught in his writing and preaching about the dignity of the human person, that we must not treat others – especially women, unborn and elderly - as objects to be used or discarded for our own selfish convenience. Each person, from the defenseless unborn to the defenseless senior, is precious in God’s sight and made in God’s image and likeness. John Paul’s “theology of the body,” as it has been dubbed, presented a view of man with which countless young people were able to resonate.
 As Blessed John Paul, or just plain pope, or simply Karol, he was a giant of a man who persevered in his simple message to his very last heartbeat: Do not be afraid to love your Lord with all your heart and strength and love your neighbor as you love yourself.
 Fr John Zuhlsdorf, a convert from Lutheranism, is a writer for various Catholic publications. He wrangles a popular blog with frank commentary on Catholic issues ( He was ordained a priest in 1991 by Pope John Paul II.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Homily: Holy Thursday

“Christ our Paschal Lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the festival.”
-1 Corinthians 5:7

My dear sisters in Christ,

1. In the film The Passion of the Christ there is a great scene from Holy Thursday where Mary the Mother of Jesus and Mary Magdelene are sleeping, and Mary the Mother of Jesus suddenly awakens from sleep. Mary Magdelen asks here “What Mary. What is it?” The Blessed mother responds “Listen. “Why is this night different from every other night?” Magdelene looks at her knowing that something is very wrong, and responds saying “because once we were slaves and we are slaves no longer.” This question and its response is one of great importance, because it a question that is asked every time a Jewish family gathers to celebrate the Passover meal. It sets the tone for everything that will transpire during that sacred meal wherein the sacrificial lamb is eaten. The Last Supper, the event that we mystically enter into this evening, is the Passover of the New Covenant, where Christ the Paschal Lamb is sacrificed and given to us as the food of eternal life. So why, my dear sisters, is this night different from every other night? Because once we were slaves and we are slaves no longer.

2. Pope Benedict points out in his latest book, the second part of Jesus of Nazareth, that
in St. John’s Gospel, he goes to great lengths to indicate that the Last Supper was not a Passover meal. On the contrary: the Jewish authorities who led Jesus before Pilate’s court avoided entering the praetorium, “so that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover” (18:28). The Passover, therefore, began only in the evening, and at the time of the trial the Passover meal had not yet taken place; the trial and crucifixion took place on the day before the Passover, on the “day of preparation”, not on the feast day itself…According to this chronology, Jesus dies at the moment when the Passover lambs are being slaughtered in the Temple. Jesus dies as the real lamb, merely prefigured by those slain in the Temple. (Benedict XVI, 83).”

In order to grasp the significance of Jesus being the true and final paschal lamb let’s take some time to examine the requirements for the Passover meal, including the sacrificing of the paschal lamb and see just how well Jesus fulfills the law and the prophets.

3. The Passover meal during the time of Jesus had four general steps, although there are many more small steps involved. First, as we heard in our first reading, the father of the family is to procure a male lamb in its prime, one year old, that is without blemish of any kind. It is not to be sick, diseased, or imperfect in any way whatsoever.

4. Second, the lamb was to be sacrificed without breaking any of its bones so that it would be sacrificed in its perfection. In the time of the Exodus it was the father of the household that slaughtered the lamb in virtue of their familial priesthood, but by the time of Christ, it was the priests in the temple who slaughtered all the paschal lambs in the temple, and their blood was poured out at the base of the altar. This is why it was necessary for every Jew at the time of Christ to celebrate the Passover it Jerusalem, since it was only there that the lamb could be sacrificed. Since every Jew who wanted to fulfill the law and celebrate the Passover had to travel to Jerusalem, the streets would be teeming with people, the temple would be filled with men bringing their families lamb to be slaughtered by the priests in the temple. Josephus the great historian of the time of Jesus gives us a fairly detailed description of what it was like in Jerusalem and in the Temple at Passover time. He says

So these high priests, upon the coming of their feast which is called the Passover, when they slay their sacrifices, from the ninth hour (about 3pm) to the eleventh (about 5pm), but so that a company not less than ten belong to every sacrifice (for it is not lawful for them to feast singularly by themselves, and many of us are twenty in a company, for the number of sacrifices as 256,500; which, upon the allowance of no more than ten that feast together, amounts to 2,700,200 persons (Josephus, War 6:423-27).

Another fascinating bit of information about how the paschal lambs were sacrificed in the time of Jesus is that they were, get this, crucified! This is described in a book entitled Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist:
As the Israeli scholar Jospeh Tabory has shown, according to the Mishnah, at the time when the Temple still stood, after the sacrifice of the lamb, the Jews would drive “thin smooth staves” of wood through the shoulders of the lamb in order to hang it and skin it (Pesahim 5:9). In addition to this first rod, they would also “thrust” a “skewer of pomegranate wood” through the Passover lamb “from its mouth to its buttocks” (Pesahim 7:1). As Tabory concludes, “An examination of the rabbinic evidence…seems to show that in Jerusalem the Jewish paschal lamb was offered in a manner which resembled a crucifixion (Brant Pitre, 53).

This is also attested to by St. Justin, Martyr and the mystic Blessed Anne Catherine Emmeric in their writings.

5. So, my dear sisters, imagine for a moment what it must have been like to witness this sort of spectacle. Imagine the veritable hemorrhage of blood that would be flowing from altar of sacrifice as the blood of these two hundred thousand lambs was dashed against the altar. Imagine the sound of the sheep bleating as their throats were slit. Imagine the smell of the animals and the blood. Imagine the lifeless, bloodless, bodies of those perfect unblemished lambs on those wooden crosses waiting to be roasted and eaten.

6. This leads to the third step, the roasting and eating of the Paschal lamb. This step was of the utmost importance for the Jewish people, and ultimately for God who commanded them to do this. To just sacrifice the lamb was not enough, it had to be roasted and eaten. In order to be saved from the final plague, the death of the firstborn son, you had to both sacrifice and eat the Paschal Lamb. Again a quote from the book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist will drive home this point. The author says

If they took the lamb, sacrificed the lamb, spread the blood of the lamb (on the doorposts), but did not eat the lamb, what would have been the result? Well, the Book of Exodus does not say. But it’s a good guess that when they awoke the next morning, their firstborn son would be dead. For, as any ancient Jew would have known, the Passover sacrifice was not completed by the death of the lamb, but by eating its flesh…The Passover was not completed by the death of the victim, but by a “communion” of sorts – by eating the flesh of the sacrifice that had been killed on your behalf (Pitre, 49).

7. The fourth and final step is that the Passover was to be repeated every year, it was to be a perpetual memorial of how God had delivered the Israelites from slavery to the promised land. And this memorial was no mere commemoration of a past event, but in the Jewish mind, when celebrating a memorial of this sort, one actually entered into the past event. It was somehow mysteriously made present even though in time it was a past event.

8. So, my dear sisters, what does this lesson on the Passover have to do with anything? It has everything do with Jesus and the great gift which he instituted on this most holy of nights. Jesus, the Messiah, while celebrating the Passover was at the same time fulfilling Jewish law and inaugurating a New Passover, not one that freed us from the slavery of the Egyptians, but one that freed us from the slavery of Sin. Jesus did all of the things required of the law, yet he altered the Passover so as to make it His own, the Passover of the Messiah.

For instance, whereas the Passover usually focused on the covenant with Abraham, Jesus focused on the New Covenant in His Blood. Whereas the Passover usually focused on the body and blood of the lamb of sacrifice. First, the lamb would be slaughtered, and the priests in the Temple would pour out the blood of the lamb on the altar. Then the Jews would bring the body of the lamb from the Temple to the Passover meal, and the father would explain its meaning at the meal. Yet at the Last Supper, Jesus did something entirely different. With his words of explanation, he shifted the focus away from the body and blood of the Passover lamb (of which there is no mention), and turned it toward his own body and blood (Pitre, 58).

When we compare Jesus’ actions to these ancient Jewish traditions, it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out his point. By means of his words over the bread and wine of the Last Supper, Jesus is saying in no uncertain terms, “I am the new Passover lamb of the new exodus. This is the Passover of the Messiah, and I am the new sacrifice.” (Pitre, 59)

9. We also see Jesus setting up this new Passover as a perpetual memorial, one that would allow those who partake in it to enter into the first Passover of the Messiah, the Passover where He, the true Lamb of God is slain to set us free from sin. This Passover of the Messiah began at the Last Supper, and ended as He, the true Lamb of Sacrifice was slaughtered on Calvary. Imagine, dear sisters, how, according to the chronology of the Gospel of St. John, just outside of the gates of the City of Jerusalem, and facing East toward the Holy of Holies, Jesus the spotless and unblemished Lamb of God, without a bone being broken, is nailed to a cross, and his blood is dashed upon the altar of the cross as it flows from His Sacred Wounds. This is the Passover of the Messiah.

10. My dear sisters, tonight we have the privilege of entering once again into that great Passover of the Messiah. Tonight, I, unworthy as I am, will make present that moment when the True Lamb was slain. We blood is poured out. His body is crucified. He gives his life so that we may be set free from the slavery of sin, and it will all happen right here before our very eyes. Then, so that the sacrifice may be complete and we may indeed share in the freedom He is holding out to us, we will eat the very flesh of the Lamb and we will smear our lips with his life-blood. We will become one with the Lamb, and thus it becomes possible for eternal death to pass over us.

11. My sisters, why is this night different from every other night? Because once we were slaves and we are slaves no longer. “Christ our Paschal Lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the festival.”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Everything You Wanted To Know About Why We Veil Sacred Images But Were Afraid to Ask

Ever wonder why the images are veiled in Church from the Fifth Sunday of Lent until the Easter Vigil? Here is your answer from the New Theological Movement:

It has been the custom of the Roman Church, at least in modern times (we mean from the 17th Century forward), to veil the crosses and the images of the saints from the 5th Sunday of Lent until Easter. This has been, and ought to continue to be, one of the defining characteristics of the season of Passiontide – a season which, if after the postconciliar liturgical reforms lost in name, need not be lost in spirit.
Still in many churches throughout the West, crosses and statues are veiled now and will remain veiled for two full weeks. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes this custom as follows: “Before Vespers of Saturday preceding Passion Sunday [i.e. the 5th Sunday of Lent] the crosses, statues, and pictures of our Lord and of the saints on the altar and throughout the church, with the sole exception of the crosses and pictures of the Way of the Cross, are to be covered with a violet veil, not translucent, nor in any way ornamented. The crosses remain covered until after the solemn denudation of the principal crucifix on Good Friday. The statues and pictures retain their covering, no matter what feast may occur, until the Gloria in Excelsis of Holy Saturday.” However, it is noted that the statue of St. Joseph may remain uncovered, if outside the sanctuary, during the month of March, which is dedicated to his honor.
Of course, this practice is no longer mandatory in the Novus Ordo, but it is certainly permitted. However, if the custom is to return to popularity, it will be necessary to come to some understanding of the meaning behind the veiling. Why does the Church veil the cross in these final days of Lent, a time when she is most intent on meditating upon the Lord's dolorous passion?

The Mystical Interpretation
Abbot Gueranger enlightens us with a mystical interpretation of the Gospel which, in former times, was read on this Sunday: As Christ hid himself from the rage of the Jewish authorities (John 8:59), so now he is hidden from the world in preparation for the mysteries of his passion.
“The presentiment of that awful hour [of our Savior’s passion] leads the afflicted mother [the Church] to veil the image of her Jesus: the cross is hidden from the eyes of the faithful. The statues of the saints, too, are covered; for it is but just that, if the glory of the Master be eclipsed, the servant should not appear.
“The interpreters of the liturgy tell us that this ceremony of veiling the crucifix during Passiontide, expresses the humiliation to which our Savior subjected Himself, of hiding Himself when the Jews threatened to stone Him, as is related in the Gospel of Passion Sunday [John 8:46-59, They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple (John 8:59)]. The Church begins this solemn rite with the Vespers of the Saturday before Passion Sunday.”
The Spiritual Interpretation
Dom Gueranger continues and directs us to acts of devotion for the Cross: “Twice during the course of the year, that is, on the feasts of its Invention and Exaltation, this sacred Wood will be offered to us that we may honour it as the trophy of our Jesus’ victory; but now, it speaks to us but of His sufferings, it brings with it no other idea but that of His humiliation.”
Considering that, in the season of our Lord’s passion, all the strength of our devotion should be directed to the Cross of Christ, we may be surprised that the images of the Cross are to be covered in these days. However, when we recognize that we now venerate the Cross not so much as an emblem of victory (as in the Triumph of the Cross) but as an instrument of humiliation and suffering, we will soon understand the spiritual realities which are conveyed through the covering of the crosses.
In his passion, our Savior’s divinity was almost totally eclipsed, so great was his suffering. Likewise, even his humanity was obscured – so much so that he could say through his prophet: I am a worm and no man (Psalm 21:7). His face and whole body were so disfigured by the blows and scourges that our Jesus was scarcely recognizable! Thus, the wounds he endured hid both is divinity and his humanity. For this reason we veil the crosses in these final days of Lent – hiding our Savior under the sad purple cloth.
The Historical Interpretation
We will reproduce here the historical study offered by Fr. Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University (taken from Zenit):
“It probably derives from a custom, noted in Germany from the ninth century, of extending a large cloth before the altar from the beginning of Lent. This cloth, called the ‘Hungertuch’ (hunger cloth), hid the altar entirely from the faithful during Lent and was not removed until during the reading of the Passion on Holy Wednesday at the words ‘the veil of the temple was rent in two.’
“Some authors say there was a practical reason for this practice insofar as the often-illiterate faithful needed a way to know it was Lent. Others, however, maintain that it was a remnant of the ancient practice of public penance in which the penitents were ritually expelled from the church at the beginning of Lent. After the ritual of public penance fell into disuse — but the entire congregation symbolically entered the order of penitents by receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday — it was no longer possible to expel them from the church. Rather, the altar or ‘Holy of Holies’ was shielded from view until they were reconciled to God at Easter.
“For analogous motives, later on in the Middle Ages, the images of crosses and saints were also covered from the start of Lent. The rule of limiting this veiling to Passiontide came later and does not appear until the publication of the Bishops' Ceremonial of the 17th century.”
Another possibility?
We would like to propose another possibility, one which need not conflict with any of those give above. It may be possible that the Church covers the images of the Cross during these days, for the same reason that she refrains from offering the Sacrifice of the Mass on Good Friday. Namely, in this time in which we mystically enter into the historical realities of Jesus’ final days, it is not fitting to have the image, sign or sacrament of the Cross presented to the faithful.
Indeed, St. Thomas tells us that “the figure ceases on the advent of the reality. But this sacrament [i.e. the Eucharist] is a figure and a representation of our Lord's Passion, as stated above. And therefore on the day on which our Lord's Passion is recalled as it was really accomplished, this sacrament is not consecrated.” (ST III, q.83, a.2, ad 2) In an analogous way, it is fitting that, as the liturgical year recalls the events leading up to the Crucifixion, the Church should hide the effigies of the Cross from the vision of her faithful.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This morning during Matins I was struck by the second reading by St. Leo the Great, so I thought I would share it with you. The bold sections are the sections that really struck me as being important points to come to realize in our own spiritual life.

True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in him our own humanity.

The earth—our earthly nature—should tremble at the suffering of its Redeemer. The rocks—the hearts of unbelievers—should burst asunder. The dead, imprisoned in the tombs of their mortality, should come forth, the massive stones now ripped apart. Foreshadowings of the future resurrection should appear in the holy city, the Church of God: what is to happen to our bodies should now take place in our hearts.

No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ. His prayer brought benefit to the multitude that raged against him. How much more does it bring to those who turn to him in repentance. Ignorance has been destroyed, obstinacy has been overcome. The sacred blood of Christ has quenched the flaming sword that barred access to the tree of life. The age-old night of sin has given place to the true light.

The Christian people are invited to share the riches of paradise. All who have been reborn have the way open before them to return to their native land, from which they had been exiled. Unless indeed they close off for themselves the path that could be opened before the faith of a thief.

The business of this life should not preoccupy us with its anxiety and pride, so that we no longer strive with all the love of our heart to be like our Redeemer, and to follow his example. Everything that he did or suffered was for our salvation: he wanted his body to share the goodness of its head.

First of all, in taking our human nature while remaining God, so that the Word became man, he left no member of the human race, the unbeliever excepted, without a share in his mercy. Who does not share a common nature with Christ if he has welcomed Christ, who took our nature, and is reborn in the Spirit through whom Christ was conceived?

Again, who cannot recognize in Christ his own infirmities? Who would not recognize that Christ’s eating and sleeping, his sadness and his shedding of tears of love are marks of the nature of a slave?

It was this nature of a slave that had to be healed of its ancient wounds and cleansed of the defilement of sin. For that reason the only-begotten Son of God became also the son of man. He was to have both the reality of a human nature and the fullness of the godhead.

The body that lay lifeless in the tomb is ours. The body that rose again on the third day is ours. The body that ascended above all the heights of heaven to the right hand of the Father’s glory is ours. If then we walk in the way of his commandments, and are not ashamed to acknowledge the price he paid for our salvation in a lowly body, we too are to rise to share his glory. The promise he made will be fulfilled in the sight of all: Whoever acknowledges me before men, I too will acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The other day during my Holy Hour I came across a prayer written by Fr. Louis Merton (aka Thomas Merton). It reflected quite beautifully and honestly some of my own feelings as I near the end of my time here at the Liturgical Institute and my return to my diocese. That being the case I thought I would share it with you.

My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,
And the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please
you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all
that I am doing.
I hope that I will not do anything
apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this, you
will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore, I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death, I will
not fear, for you are ever with me
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sonnet to Our Lord on The Cross

I am not moved to love you, O my God,
That I might hope in promised Heaven to dwell;
Nor am I moved by fear of pain in Hell
To turn from sin and follow where you trod.

You move me, Lord, broken beneath the rod,
Or stretched out on the cross, as nails compel
Your hand to twitch. It moves me that we sell,
To mockery and death, your precious blood.

It is, O Christ, your love which moves me so,
That my love rests not on a promised prize;
Nor holy fear on threat of endless woe;

It is not milk and honey, but the flow of blood
From blessed wounds before my eyes, that
Waters my buried soul and makes it grow.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Solemnity of the Annunciation

The Angelus

V. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae.
R. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Ave Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus. * Sancta Maria, Mater Dei ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

V. Ecce ancilla Domini,
R. Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

Ave Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus. * Sancta Maria, Mater Dei ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

V. Et Verbum caro factum est,
R. Et habitavit in nobis.

Ave Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus.* Sancta Maria, Mater Dei ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

V. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genetrix,
R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Oremus. Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, Angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem eius et crucem ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.

* * *

V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with Thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.* Holy Mary, Mother of God, prayer for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord,
R. Be it done to me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with Thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.* Holy Mary, Mother of God, prayer for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

V. And the Word was made flesh,
R. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with Thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.* Holy Mary, Mother of God, prayer for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that, as we have known the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, by the message of an angel, so by His Passion and Cross we may be brought to the glory of the Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

The collect from today's Mass in the new translation of the Roman Missal is:

O God, who delight in innocence and restore it,
direct the hearts of your servants to yourself,
that, caught up in the fire of your Spirit,
we may be found steadfast in faith
and effective in works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

In a world where a lack of innocence is praised we hear in in the Liturgy that God delights in innocence. In other words, contrary to what we hear from the world, innocence is a virtue to be cultivated and not a vice to be quickly discarded. It seems rather obvious to me, and surely to you as well, that innocence is a virtue that is greatly lacking in our world. Even in schools, where innocence should be protected, children are being taught about things that are not so innocent at a very young age. Instead of cultivating innocence for as long as possible, it is widely believed that the sooner we teach them about "real life" the better. Now surely, sometimes discussions that might impinge upon a child's innocence will be necessary, but lets not overdo it.

But what about us, who have already lost our innocence? Well, there is hope. Today's collect points out the God restores our innocence. But how? Well, I think he restores our innocence first and foremost through the Sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of Penance/Confession and the Holy Eucharist. In confession the Blood of the Innocent Victim is applied to our souls so cleanse us of our sins, and in the Holy Eucharist we receive the innocent Lamb of God Himself. What could be a greater restorer of innocence than that? For our part, we can help the process of purification along through prayer, self-denial, purification of the senses, and being vigilant about what we put into our minds via sight and hearing.

Regaining innocence is a hard but necessary task. Jesus made it clear that unless we become like children we cannot enter the Kingdom. Let us seek to become innocent of heart, so that like children, we will be pure and ready to enter the Kingdom of God.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Solemnity of St. Joseph

Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the patron of the Universal Church, the patron of a happy death, and the patron of the Diocese of Sioux Falls. In order to celebrate this feast I thought I would share one of my favorite images of St. Joseph (above) as well as this written by the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II in his encyclical on St. Joseph entitled Redemptoris Custos:

If Elizabeth said of the Redeemer's Mother, "blessed is she who believed," in a certain sense this blessedness can be referred to Joseph as well, since he responded positively to the word of God when it was communicated to him at the decisive moment. While it is true that Joseph did not respond to the angel's "announcement" in the same way as Mary, he "did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife." What he did is the clearest "obedience of faith" (cf. Rom 1:5; 16:26; 2 Cor 10:5-6).

One can say that what Joseph did united him in an altogether special way to the faith of Mary. He accepted as truth coming from God the very thing that she had already accepted at the Annunciation. The Council teaches: " "The obedience of faith' must be given to God as he reveals himself. By this obedience of faith man freely commits himself entirely to God, making 'the full submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals,' and willingly assenting to the revelation given by him." This statement, which touches the very essence of faith, is perfectly applicable to Joseph of Nazareth.

5. Therefore he became a unique guardian of the mystery "hidden for ages in God" (Eph 3:9), as did Mary, in that decisive moment which St. Paul calls "the fullness of time," when "God sent forth his Son, born of redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4-5). In the words of the Council: "It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will (cf. Eph 1:9). His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and become sharers in the divine nature (cf. Eph 2:18; 2 Pt 1 4)"

Together with Mary, Joseph is the first guardian of this divine mystery. Together with Mary, and in relation to Mary, he shares in this final phase of God 's self-revelation in Christ, and he does so from the very beginning. Looking at the gospel texts of both Matthew and Luke, one can also say that Joseph is the first to share in the faith of the Mother of God, and that in doing so he supports his spouse in the faith of the divine annunciation. He is also the first to be placed by God on the path of Mary's "pilgrimage of faith." It is a path along which--especially at the time of Calvary and Pentecost--Mary will precede in a perfect way.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday After Ash Wednesday

Image of Our Lady of Sorrows atop Mt. Calvary
in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

Today's collect from the new translation of the Roman Missal:

Almighty ever-living God,
look with compassion on our weakness
and ensure us your protection
by stretching forth the right hand of your majesty.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Today's collect calls to mind an image that used frequently through Sacred Scripture and in the Liturgy of the Church, that of the right hand of God. Surely because God is pure spirit, He doesn't have a right hand, or a left hand for that matter. This phrase is used to describe the power, strength and might of God.

The right hand of God, as it says in this prayer, is stretched forth to us that we might know the protection of God. What are we to be protected from? In this prayer it is from ourselves, from our weakness. I don't know about you, but often times I am my own worst enemy. My bad habits, my tendency toward the easy way (which often is the sinful way), and my self-deception often lead me into sin. I am so weak that yes, I need God to protect me from satan, but I also need God's mighty protection from myself. Now that is a humbling thought.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday After Ash Wednesday

St. Josemaria Escriva offering the Holy Mass

The Prayer over the Offerings from the corrected translation of the Roman Missal for today is:

We offer, O Lord, the sacrifice of our Lenten observance,
praying that it may make our intentions acceptable to you
and add to our powers of self-restraint.
Through Christ our Lord.

This prayer over the gifts of bread and wine which will become the very Sacrifice of our redemption, the unbloody re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross, reminds us of something of great importance. It reminds us that all we are and all that we do, in particular our Lenten observances, can and should be united to the Sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

One particularly effective way to do this is to mentally and spiritually place ourselves and our actions upon the paten and in the chalice as the priest offers them at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. By doing so, we ourselves become united to Christ, the Lamb of God, the Victim for sin, and are offered to the Father by Christ and with Christ. This is truly the full, active, and conscious participation that the Second Vatican Council called for. When we do this we no longer become merely causal observers, but actual participants in the Paschal Mystery. When we do this our Lenten penances, resolutions, and acts of charity become united with the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ and take on even greater meaning.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

The Collect for today's Mass:

Prompt our actions with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord,
and further them with your constant help,
that all we do may always begin from you
and by you be brought to completion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

This prayer reminds us that our good actions during Lent ultimately are the work of the Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit has prompted us to take on certain penances and other charitable actions, and without His continuing help and guidance, these good resolutions will come to nothing.

In many ways, this is a prayer of humility. We know that without God we can do nothing, and so in our weakness we cry out for His inspiration and help to continue fighting against evil in our life, even when the battle becomes tedious and wearisome.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Stations of the Cross

Ash Wednesday

Today we begin our 40 day journey through the prayers of the new translation of the Roman Missal. The collect (opening prayer) for today's Mass is:

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting
this campaign of Christian service,
so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils,
we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

This prayer, in no uncertain terms, sets the theme for the holy season of Lent. This season is presented to us as a battle, a war, a fierce struggle against the powers of evil. Surely, we find ourselves today in the midst of a great spiritual battle for our souls and the souls of all mankind.

All around us the battle for souls rages, and today we are invited to join this battle. We are called to take part in this "campaign of Christian service" by taking up the "weapons of self-restraint." By restraining our desires, even those desires that are good, we train our will, we build our spiritual muscles, so that when the evil one attacks, we will be able to withstand his fiery arrows of temptation.

Today as we fast and abstain from meat, let us see this self-restraint not as a burden, but as a powerful weapon with which we strike the evil one. Let us see it as a way to strengthen our will to fight against temptation.

Let us pray for one another and support one another in our Lenten penances. We are all brothers and sisters, fellow soldiers in the army of the Great King. We are fighting side by side. We are never alone in battle. We have the greatest King in the Universe, a host of heavenly helpers, an army of saints who have won the victory and urge us on to victory, and the weapons of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Let us take up our weapons and join the battle. Let us fight to win.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lenten Project

Tomorrow Lent will be upon us. Hopefully by now you have decided what your penance(s) will be. If not, check out the suggestions from Fr. S. at Clerical Reform here.

I have been looking for a good reason to start blogging again, and had an inspiration today. Ever day during Lent, I will have a short reflection on one of the prayers from the Roman Missal for the day. I will be using the prayers from the new translation of the Roman Missal. Hopefully this will do two things. First, it will hopefully help us pray better during this holy season, and second, to familiarize us with some of the prayers from the new translation.

We begin tomorrow, so be sure to check back daily.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Be Perfect!

Today is the memorial of St. Francis DeSales, one of the great spiritual masters of the Church. Here is a quotation from his treatise entitled Introduction to the Devout Life:

When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind; he has likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station and his calling.

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of devotion must be adapted to the strength, to the occupation and to the duties of each one in particular.

Tell me, please, my Philothea, whether it is proper for a bishop to want to lead a solitary life like a Carthusian; or for married people to be no more concerned than a Capuchin about increasing their income; or for a working man to spend his whole day in church like a religious; or on the other hand for a religious to be constantly exposed like a bishop to all the events and circumstances that bear on the needs of our neighbor. Is not this sort of devotion ridiculous, unorganized and intolerable? Yet this absurd error occurs very frequently, but in no way does true devotion, my Philothea, destroy anything at all. On the contrary, it perfects and fulfils all things. In fact if it ever works against, or is inimical to, anyone’s legitimate station and calling, then it is very definitely false devotion.

The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them. True devotion does still better. Not only does it not injure any sort of calling or occupation, it even embellishes and enhances it.

Moreover, just as every sort of gem, cast in honey, becomes brighter and more sparkling, each according to its color, so each person becomes more acceptable and fitting in his own vocation when he sets his vocation in the context of devotion. Through devotion your family cares become more peaceful, mutual love between husband and wife becomes more sincere, the service we owe to the prince becomes more faithful, and our work, no matter what it is, becomes more pleasant and agreeable.

It is therefore an error and even a heresy to wish to exclude the exercise of devotion from military divisions, from the artisans’ shops, from the courts of princes, from family households. I acknowledge, my dear Philothea, that the type of devotion which is purely contemplative, monastic and religious can certainly not be exercised in these sorts of stations and occupations, but besides this threefold type of devotion, there are many others fit for perfecting those who live in a secular state.

Therefore, in whatever situations we happen to be, we can and we must aspire to the life of perfection.