Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NOTE CONCERNING DECREE ON THE HEROIC VIRTUES OF PIUS XII


VATICAN CITY, 23 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today issued the following note concerning the signing of the recent decree on the heroic virtues of Servant of God Pope Pius XII.

  "The Pope's signing of the decree 'on the heroic virtues' of Pius XII has elicited a certain number of reactions in the Jewish world; perhaps because the meaning of such a signature is clear in the area of the Catholic Church and of specialists in the field, but may merit certain explanation for the larger public, in particular the Jewish public who are understandably very sensitive to all things concerning the historical period of World War II and the Holocaust.

  "When the Pope signs a decree 'on the heroic virtues' of a Servant of God - i.e., of a person for whom a cause for beatification has been introduced - he confirms the positive evaluation already voted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. ... Naturally, such evaluation takes account of the circumstances in which the person lived, and hence it is necessary to examine the question from a historical standpoint, but the evaluation essentially concerns the witness of Christian life that the person showed (his intense relationship with God and continuous search for evangelical perfection) ... and not the historical impact of all his operative decisions".

  "At the beatification of Pope John XXIII and of Pope Pius IX, John Paul II said: 'holiness lives in history and no saint has escaped the limits and conditioning which are part of our human nature. In beatifying one of her sons, the Church does not celebrate the specific historical decisions he may have made, but rather points to him as someone to be imitated and venerated because of his virtues, in praise of the divine grace which shines resplendently in them'.

  "There is, then, no intention in any way to limit discussion concerning the concrete choices made by Pius XII in the situation in which he lived. For her part, the Church affirms that these choices were made with the pure intention of carrying out the Pontiff's service of exalted and dramatic responsibility to the best of his abilities. In any case, Pius XII's attention to and concern for the fate of the Jews - something which is certainly relevant in the evaluation of his virtues - are widely testified and recognised, also by many Jews.

  "The field for research and evaluation by historians, working in their specific area, thus remains open, also for the future. In this specific case it is comprehensible that there should be a request to have open access to all possibilities of research on the documents. ... Yet for the complete opening of the archives - as has been said on a number of occasions in the past - it is necessary to organise and catalogue an enormous mass of documentation, something which still requires a number of years' work.

  "As for the fact that the decree on the heroic virtues of Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII were promulgated on the same day, this does not mean that from now on the two causes will be 'paired'. They are completely independent of one another and each will follow its own course. There is, then, no reason to imagine that any future beatification will take place together".

  "It is, then, clear that the recent signing of the decree is in no way to be read as a hostile act towards the Jewish people, and it is to be hoped that it will not be considered as an obstacle on the path of dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church. Rather we trust that the Pope's forthcoming visit to the Synagogue of Rome will be an opportunity for the cordial reiteration and reinforcement of ties of friendship and respect".
OP/DECREE PIUS XII/LOMBARDI                                             VIS 091223 (660)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Venerabile Est!

Good news! Pope Benedict XVI signed the decree today recognizing the heroic virtue of the Servant of God John Paul II. This means he's now the Venerable John Paul II. This means all that remains for beatification is the vote of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints on the miracle already attributed to him and the approval of the Pope recognizing the miracle, should the Congregation approve it.

Bl. JP II in 2010? It's possible. But we await the prudent timing of Rome.

Also interesting is that Pius XII is now Venerable Pius XII.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

"Dignity" or Right to Reject Moral Teaching

There is a sad note today in the body of Christ as a whole, as an ecclesial community "elects" as bishop yet another person who has embraced a lifestyle contrary to the moral teachings of Christ, His holy apostles, and two millennia of Christian tradition.

Those advocating the election of someone who is living with a lover of the same sex claim that this is about respecting the dignity of such a person. In other words, it is necessary, according to them, to elect this person in order that their dignity may be upheld.

But the issue is really not about dignity. That person would have their dignity no matter what, even if they are living in sin, though they would not be living according to the dignity of the sons and daughters of God. Still they would need to be respected as a person. But respect as a person does not mean you elect them to a position within the body of Christ that requires, even demands, a spotless moral life (which is why it is a serious scandal when people in said position do not live according to the mystery of the passion of Christ and fall into serious sin). It seems apparent that the real issue at stake is not a pseudo-claim at dignity but rather an attempt to reaffirm this particular denomination's rejection of the centuries of Christian moral teaching.

And that teaching is clear:

The tendency of same sex attraction, though disordered in its nature, is not in itself a sin, since that tendency is not the moral choice of the person with said tendency. Such persons are called to chastity outside of the sacrament of matrimony (just like everyone else).

Persons with same sex attraction are not to be discriminated against due to their tendency.

However, in the case of a person who engages in the sin of same sex intercourse, it is right for the Church to exclude from certain offices such a person based on the bad example of their moral life. Since the act of same sex intercourse is within the decision making capability of the person with same sex attraction, that act can indeed be deemed culpable to the person. Of course, moral theologians explain that the severity of the culpability may be mitigated by the psychological maturity of the person or due to other factors, etc, and so though the sin itself is to be condemned as grave, none of us can condemn the person (say they are going to hell). However, we are called to solicite the conscience of the person (remind them of the gravity of the sin) that they may repent so that they may not be lost, should they be gravely culpable. None of this is to cast dispersion upon the dignity of the person with same sex attraction, but rather to be sure that they do not sin and infringe upon their own dignity and the dignity of holiness that Christ looks to bestow upon us.

No. We do not have the right as Christians to place those who are living immorally into positions of leadership and those in such positions will have a greater accounting before the judgment seat of Christ (I tremble myself when I think of this). Neither should we Christians mask the rejection of Christian moral teaching under the guise of respecting dignity. This is an age old trick of hiding evil under the mask of good (though I am not claiming that those who are saying they are "respecting dignity" are aware that they are masking evil under the guise of good... they could simply be deceived.).

Friday, November 27, 2009

An Examination of Faith

This summer while on retreat, I was told by my Jesuit retreat director that Faith is actually a four-fold virtue that gets broken down into Fiducia, Visio, Fidelitas, and Assentio. Fiducia stands for trust in God as one trusts in close friends, Visio for the outlook or vision on life that faith provides, Fidelitas for the fidelity of pereservance through trials and failures, and Assentio for the assent of the intellect to the truths of the faith.

So, one way to examine one's faith could simply be to ask...


Where is my faith weak?



Follow the way of Christ despite trials and failure?
Allow faith to shape my outlook on life?
DO     I...
Trust in God as a loving Father who is the source of all good?
Hold as true and holy all that the Catholic Church teaches in regards to faith and morals?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

This Thanksgiving, I Believe in Jesus Christ

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade had as its theme song a tune whereby people proclaimed that they believe in the miracle of love because they believe in Santa Claus. At the end of the parade, Santa Claus wishes everyone "Happy Thanksgiving to one and all."

There was a time when I was a kid that it was understood that Santa Claus is associated with Christmas. And I still remember the Macy's Santa saying the typical "Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas" at the end of the parade.

Does Macy's need a reminder of who Santa Claus is, that he is really the culture's interpretation of Saint Nicholas, whose feast is celebrated Dec 6th and, in the European countries that celebrate him, is often accompanied with gifts? Or just on a purely cultural level, do we need to remind Macy's that Clement Clarke Moore's poem Twas the Night Before Christmas, describing a visit from St. Nicholas, ends "Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night"?

Perhaps. And I for one would just like to testify today that I believe in the miracle of love because I believe in Jesus Christ, who, by the way, inspired St. Nicholas. So without Jesus, there is no Santa Claus. I think I'll be writing Macy's a courteous letter lest they forget the real reason for the season.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

In More Reparation for the Offenses Against the Sacred Heart of Jesus This Evening

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially with the word of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Divinity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who invoke Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, saturated with revilings, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, crushed for our iniquities, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, made obedient unto death, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart.
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.
Let us pray
Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end.

In Reparation for the Blasphemies Against the Holy Name of Jesus This Evening

V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of Heaven
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Holy Spirit,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Holy Trinity, one God,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, Son of the living God, R. Have mercy on us.
Jesus, splendor of the Father, [etc.]
Jesus, brightness of eternal light.
Jesus, King of glory.
Jesus, sun of justice.
Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary.
Jesus, most amiable.
Jesus, most admirable.
Jesus, the mighty God.
Jesus, Father of the world to come.
Jesus, angel of great counsel.
Jesus, most powerful.
Jesus, most patient.
Jesus, most obedient.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
Jesus, lover of chastity.
Jesus, lover of us.
Jesus, God of peace.
Jesus, author of life.
Jesus, example of virtues.
Jesus, zealous lover of souls.
Jesus, our God.
Jesus, our refuge.
Jesus, father of the poor.
Jesus, treasure of the faithful.
Jesus, good Shepherd.
Jesus, true light.
Jesus, eternal wisdom.
Jesus, infinite goodness.
Jesus, our way and our life.
Jesus, joy of Angels.
Jesus, King of the Patriarchs.
Jesus, Master of the Apostles.
Jesus, teacher of the Evangelists.
Jesus, strength of Martyrs.
Jesus, light of Confessors.
Jesus, purity of Virgins.
Jesus, crown of Saints.
V. Be merciful, R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Be merciful, R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. From all evil, R. deliver us, O Jesus.
From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus.
From Your wrath, [etc.]
From the snares of the devil.
From the spirit of fornication.
From everlasting death.
From the neglect of Your inspirations.
By the mystery of Your holy Incarnation.
By Your Nativity.
By Your Infancy.
By Your most divine Life.
By Your labors.
By Your agony and passion.
By Your cross and dereliction.
By Your sufferings.
By Your death and burial.
By Your Resurrection.
By Your Ascension.
By Your institution of the most Holy Eucharist.
By Your joys.
By Your glory.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us, O Jesus.
V. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.
Let us pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, You have said, "Ask and you shall receive, seek, and you shall find, knock, and it shall be opened to you." Grant, we beg of You, to us who ask it, the gift of Your most divine love, that we may ever love You with our whole heart, in word and deed, and never cease praising You.
Give us, O Lord, as much a lasting fear as a lasting love of Your Holy Name, for You, who live and are King for ever and ever, never fail to govern those whom You have solidly established in Your love. R. Amen.

In Reparation Against All the Offenses Against the Blessed Virgin Mary This Evening

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven,

Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world,

Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Ghost,

Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God,

Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,

pray for us.

Holy Mother of God,

pray for us.

Holy Virgin of virgins,

pray for us.

Mother of Christ,

pray for us.

Mother of divine grace,

pray for us.

Mother most pure,

pray for us.

Mother most chaste,

pray for us.

Mother inviolate,

pray for us.

Mother undefiled,

pray for us.

Mother most amiable,

pray for us.

Mother most admirable,

pray for us.

Mother of good counsel,

pray for us.

Mother of our Creator,

pray for us.

Mother of our Savior,

pray for us.

Virgin most prudent,

pray for us.

Virgin most venerable,

pray for us.

Virgin most renowned,

pray for us.

Virgin most powerful,

pray for us.

Virgin most merciful,

pray for us.

Virgin most faithful,

pray for us.

Mirror of justice,

pray for us.

Seat of wisdom,

pray for us.

Cause of our joy,

pray for us.

Spiritual vessel,

pray for us.

Vessel of honor,

pray for us.

Singular vessel of devotion,

pray for us.

Mystical rose,

pray for us.

Tower of David,

pray for us.

Tower of ivory,

pray for us.

House of gold,

pray for us.

Ark of the Covenant,

pray for us.

Gate of Heaven,

pray for us.

Morning star,

pray for us.

Health of the sick,

pray for us.

Refuge of sinners,

pray for us.

Comforter of the afflicted,

pray for us.

Help of Christians,

pray for us.

Queen of angels,

pray for us.

Queen of patriarchs,

pray for us.

Queen of prophets,

pray for us.

Queen of apostles,

pray for us.

Queen of martyrs,

pray for us.

Queen of confessors,

pray for us.

Queen of virgins,

pray for us.

Queen of all saints,

pray for us.

Queen conceived without Original Sin,

pray for us.

Queen assumed into Heaven,

pray for us.

Queen of the most holy Rosary,

pray for us.

Queen of peace,

pray for us.


Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,

Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,

Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,

Have mercy on us.


Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we Thy Servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, be delivered from present sorrow and unjoy enternal happiness. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

In Reparation for the Offenses Against the Church This Evening

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven,
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God, the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, One God,
Holy Mary,
St. Joseph,
Renowned offspring of David,
Light of Patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most just,
Joseph most chaste,
Joseph most prudent,
Joseph most strong,
Joseph most obedient,
Joseph most faithful,
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of artisans,
Glory of home life,
Guardian of virgins,
Pillar of families,
Solace of the wretched,
Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Terror of demons,
Protector of Holy Church,


Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world.
He made him the lord of his household.






Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, graciously hear us.
Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.

spare us, O Lord.

graciously hear us, O Lord.

Have mercy on us

And prince over all his possessions.

Let us pray, ---  O God, in your ineffable providence you were pleased to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your most holy Mother; grant, we beg you, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector: You who live and reign forever and ever.

Saint Joseph, pray for us
.

In Reparation: For Those Who We Truly Honor This Evening

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.

 





Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, graciously hear us.


God, the Father of heaven,
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, one God,

 





have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.


Holy Mary,
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
St. Michael,
St. Gabriel,
St. Raphael,
All you Holy Angels and Archangels,
St. John the Baptist,
St. Joseph,
All you Holy Patriarchs and Prophets,

 





pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.


St. Peter,
St. Paul,
St. Andrew,
St. James,
St. John,
St. Thomas,
St. James,
St. Philip,
St. Bartholomew,
St. Matthew,
St. Simon,
St. Jude,
St. Matthias,
St. Barnabas,
St. Luke,
St. Mark,
All you holy Apostles and Evangelists,
All you holy Disciples of the Lord,
All you holy Innocents,
 





pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.

St. Stephen,
St. Lawrence,
St. Vincent,
Sts. Fabian and Sebastian,
Sts. John and Paul,
Sts. Cosmos and Damian,
All you holy Martyrs,
 





pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.

St. Sylvester,
St. Gregory,
St. Ambrose,
St. Augustine,
St. Jerome,
St. Martin,
St. Nicholas,
All you holy Bishops and Confessors,
All you holy Doctors,
 





pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.

St. Anthony,
St. Benedict,
St. Bernard,
St. Dominic,
St. Francis,
All you holy Priests and Levites,
All you holy Monks and Hermits,
 





pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.

St. Mary Magdalene,
St. Agatha,
St. Lucy,
St. Agnes,
St. Cecilia,
St. Anastasia,
St. Catherine,
St. Clare,
All you holy Virgins and Widows,
All you holy Saints of God,
 





pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.

Lord, be merciful,
From all evil,
From all sin,
From your wrath,
From a sudden and unprovided death,
From the snares of the devil,
From anger, hatred, and all ill-will,
From the spirit of uncleanness,
From lightning and tempest,
From the scourge of earthquake,
From plague, famine, and war,
From everlasting death, 





Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.

By the mystery of your holy Incarnation,
By your Coming,
By your Birth,
By your Baptism and holy fasting,
By your Cross and Passion,
By your Death and Burial,
By your holy Resurrection,
By your wonderful Ascension,
By the coming of the Holy Spirit,
On the day of judgment,
 





Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.

Be merciful to us sinners,




Lord, hear our prayer.
That you will spare us,
That you will pardon us,
That it may please you to bring us to
     true penance,
Guide and protect your holy Church,
Preserve in holy religion the Pope,
     and all those in holy Orders,
Humble the enemies of holy Church,
Give peace and unity to the whole
     Christian people,
Bring back to the unity of the Church
     all those who are straying, and
     bring all unbelievers to the light of
     the Gospel,
Strengthen and preserve us in your
     holy service,
Raise our minds to desire the things
     of heaven,
Reward all our benefactors with
     eternal blessings,
Deliver our souls from eternal
     damnation, and the souls of our
     brethren, relatives, and
     benefactors,
Give and preserve the fruits of the
     earth,
Grant eternal rest to all the faithful
     departed,
That it may please You to hear and
     heed us, Jesus, Son of the Living
     God,
 





Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.



Lord, hear our prayer.


Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.



Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.


Lamb of God, who takes away the
     sins of the world,
Lamb of God, who takes away the
     sins of the world,
Lamb of God, who takes away the
     sins of the world,





Spare us, O Lord!

Graciously hear us, O Lord!



Have mercy on us.


Christ, hear us,
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.





Christ, graciously hear us
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Trick and Treat

As a little means of evangelization this evening, the trick-or-treaters have had to answer me not these questions three, but this question one, ere the candy they see:

What does "Halloween" mean?

One kids response sticks with me:
"Dressing up in costumes?"

I said, "No, it stands for All Hallows Eve, the Eve of All Hallows, which today we call All Saints Day."

"Isn't All Saints Day the day after Halloween?"

"Exactly, hence the 'Eve' part, like Christmas Eve."

I wouldn't be surprised if that kid eggs the friary tonight.

Happy Feast of All Saints.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Diaconate of Culture in the Digital Continent


Here is an article from today's Vatican Information Service. I found it quite thought provoking as I was just speaking to someone the other day about the need to use e-mail and the internet in a way that respects interpersonal relationships and that promotes the dignity of the human person.


VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Social Communications "has, for some time now, been following the surprising and rapid evolution of the means of communication growing in the involvement of the magisterium of the Church". With these words, Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary assembly of that dicastery, presided over by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, which is examining the role of new technologies in the media during these days.

  The Holy Father cited Paul VI's pastoral instruction "Communio et Progressio" and John Paul II's "Aetatis Nova", "two important documents that have favoured and promoted greater awareness on the themes tied to communication in the Church".

  He also recalled John Paul II's encyclical "Redemptoris Missio" that affirms: "Involvement in the mass media, however, is not meant merely to strengthen the preaching of the Gospel. There is a deeper reality involved here: since the very evangelization of modern culture depends to a great extent on the influence of the media, it is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church's authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the 'new culture' created by modern communications".

  "Effectively," Benedict XVI said, "modern culture is established, even before its content, in the very fact of the existence of new forms of communication that use new languages; they use new technologies and create new psychological attitudes. All of which supposes a challenge for the Church, which is called to announce the Gospel to persons in the third millennium, maintaining its content unaltered but making it understandable, thanks also to the instruments and methods in tune with today's mentality and culture".

  At the same time, the Pope referred to his last message for the World Communications Day in which he encouraged "those responsible for communication in all areas, to promote a culture of respect for the dignity and worth of the human being, a dialogue rooted in the sincere search for truth and friendship (...) capable of developing the gifts and talents of each and of putting them at the service of the human community".

  "In this way the Church exercises that which can be defined as a "deaconate of culture" in today's "digital continent", using its means to announce the Gospel, the only Word that can save the human being. The task of enriching the elements of the new culture of the media, beginning with their ethical aspects, falls to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications as well as serving as orientation and guide in helping the particular churches understand the importance of communication, which represents a key point that cannot be overlooked in any pastoral plan".

  Concluding, the pontiff recalled the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Film Archive founded by Blessed John XXIII, which possesses a "rich cultural patrimony pertaining to all humanity" and he encouraged to continuing collection and cataloguing of images "that document the path of Christianity through the suggestive witness of the image".
AC/ASSEMBLY/SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS                             VIS 091029 (490)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Homily for Sunday October 25, 2009

Here's the homily I gave for the vigil mass.

The readings are here:

There was once a young boy who was born legally blind. Though he could barely see, he seemed to be a normal little boy, and he himself thought nothing was the matter. He only seemed a little accident prone, constantly falling down and having to get stitches. One day a group from a blindness prevention program came and gave an eye test to all the school children. Naturally this young boy threw a fit when they covered up his one good eye and asked him to read the eye chart. They realized he was blind, took him to the optometrist, and got him glasses that very day. Marveling at all the things he'd never seen before, the boy was filled with joy. But it wasn't until he got glasses that that little boy realized that he had been blind up until that point.

Couldn't we say that in our spiritual life we are like that little boy born legally blind? Are we not convinced that we see perfectly clearly when we jump to conclusions about other people when in fact we are blind? Are we not really blind when we think we have no sins to confess or no reason to ask others for forgiveness? Aren't we really blind when we rely only on our own sense of what is good and what is evil, thinking that our consciences alone are enough to tell us what is and isn't a sin and that we don't need the wisdom and experience of the Church to help guide us? Does not our culture reflect our blindness when it reinforces the thinking that all we need is reason, at times mocking and degrading those who, by believing in God or by listening to the teachings of the Church, remind us that we need faith as well? Are we not blind when we quickly conclude that God has abandoned us or is punishing us when our prayers are not answered the way we would like? Like the young boy born legally blind do we not throw a fit when someone challenges whether we truly “see” properly or not?

Bartimaeus, the blind man Jesus cures in the gospel today, presents us with a different example. He humbly recognizes both his blindness and his need for Jesus to help him to properly see. What's more, once Bartmaeus regains his sight, he does not go off on his own, relying on his own ability to see, but he follows Jesus on the way. In other words, after regaining his sight he continues to follow Jesus as a disciple.

We can do the same thing as Bartimaeus did. We can humbly recognize that we are blind and ask Jesus to give us sight. We can admit that we don't have all the answers, that our reason on its own is limited and that we need the light of faith to help guide us in life. We can then ask God for help in seeing the sins we are not aware of, trusting that the God who loves us will reveal them to us, not to condemn us but to free us and save us from them. We can ask God to help us understand why the Church teaches what it teaches, and why at times it seems as if he does not answer our prayers. Like the boy born blind, once we begin to see, once we get our spiritual glasses from God we will begin to marvel at all the wonderful things that God does in our lives that we didn't see before, and though we may still occasionally fall down, we will have a much easier time living out holy lives as we follow Jesus as his disciples.

Practice Homily from last week's class

Here's my homily from last week's class.

The readings were for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time A
Is 5:1-7
Ps 80:9-20
Phil 4:6-9
Mt 21:33-43


This summer was a pretty bad summer for tomatoes in this area. No matter how well we tried to take care of them, no matter how much we made sure they had all the sun and water and nutrients they needed, the tomatoes just died. They had a blight that killed them. There was nothing the best gardener among us could do to get a good crop, and we all complained about it.

Well, in the readings today we see another gardener complaining about the failure of his crop. His vineyard just doesn't produce good fruit. That gardener is God, the vineyard represents us His people, and the good fruit that God is looking for from us are faith-filled lives of holiness that puts love into action.

We know very well that God has already shown us an abundance of charity. He has created us, called us into an intimate relationship with Him, sent His Son Jesus to share our humanity and to redeem us from sin by suffering a cruel passion, and given us His Holy Spirit to help us and guide us in our call to grow in holiness. He has given us so much love and yet we fail again and again to love Him and our neighbor in return. Like with our tomatoes this summer, there must be some kind of blight that stops all the good things God has done for us from having any effect on our hearts and from helping us bear good fruit.

Saint Paul names some possible blights in today's second reading; such as anxiety or loosing one's focus. Anxiety causes us to be afraid, to not trust that we can receive what we need from God. It causes us to close our hearts, shutting off the valve which allows God to communicate His grace to us. No longer looking to God, anxiety can discourage us from our goal and have us turn to ourselves and to any means necessary to obtain what we think we need most instead of trusting in God and focusing on holiness no matter the cost.

The remedy that Paul prescribes for us today is prayer. But Paul does not just recommend any kind of prayer. Rather Paul invites us to be sure to thank God for his many blessings in the past. This way we will recall how God has already blessed us. We will remember the ways in which God has heard our prayers in the past, and we can then confidently approach God, sure that s he heard us in the past, he shall surely hear us in our present needs. Paul also recommends that this prayer present all our needs to God. This is important for us because at times we go to pray but don't actually turn over to God the things we are worried about. By inviting us to make our requests known to God, St. Paul is reminding us to open our hearts to God, to truly hand over to Him all that concerns us, not being afraid to ask for what we need. And the characteristic that perhaps we may have overlooked is that St. Paul does not recommend that we only open our hearts with firm faith and trust in God's help only in the important things in our lives, like when a friend or loved one is facing a serious illness, but he invites us to pray in this way in everything. What Paul is encouraging us to do is to begin to entrust our daily lives to God in such a way that we will not worry excessively about whatever we may be facing, be it big or small. This does not mean we will not have concerns, but it means we will not be anxiously concerned over our daily lives. This we can do by taking five minutes when we get up to entrust our day and our tasks ahead of us to God and five minutes at the end of the day to thank God for His blessings.

But besides recommending that we ask God to take care of our needs, Paul also encourages us to meditate on the kind of Christian life we want to live. He tells us to think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, and excellent. He does not want us to get discouraged and settle for a mediocre Christian life, but to keep our minds on the goal of holiness, of a life of love of God and neighbor lived out in our actions by our living out the beatitudes and the ten commandments. By keeping this goal in mind, we can examine our lives to see where we fall short and then ask from God the graces we need to better respond to the kind of life to which He is calling us. To help us in this regard we can look into the practice of examining our consciences before going to bed. A small book or other devotional aid can help us in that regard.

Another aid that Paul recommends is that we look to the saints as examples to imitate. We can do this by reading the lives of those who have been recognized as saints or even by placing before ourselves the good example of someone who we see living out their faith in a way we would like to imitate. It could be someone like John Paul II or Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan or even a friend, acquaintance or relative that inspires us to be better Catholics. This we can do by taking ten minutes out of our lunch hour to read a biography of our favorite saints or heros of the faith or even by making time to speak about the spiritual life with the person we know who inspires us.

By prayer that knows to trust completely in God for all things and meditation with good examples of holiness that spurn us onto becoming more like Christ, we can overcome whatever blight might affect our souls, be it anxiety or loss of focus, and we can truly learn to bear good fruit that will last, faith-filled lives that strive for holiness by loving God and neighbor.

Last Sunday's Homily

Here the homily I gave last Sunday, the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time B.

Saint Francis was known to be a joyful person, always going about Assisi with a smile and often singing a song. But one day Saint Francis was going about town sobbing, crying, and in between sobs could be heard his lament: Love is not loved! Love is not loved!


Today we hear in the readings some very good news. The Son of Man, Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, He who is Love Himself, came to serve us and to give his life as a ransom for us. He took on our lowly humanity and suffered a cruel passion and crucifixion to redeem us. Though raised from the dead and ascended into heaven, He still sympathizes with our weaknesses and is ready to give us mercy when we have sinned and the grace we need to avoid sin and to do good. He even sent us His Holy Spirit to remind us of what He taught us, to help us come to know Him and the Father, and to help us become holy and guide us in the right path. In doing so, Jesus truly showed and continues to show us that God is Love.


And yet Love is not loved. We do not love God as we could. But why? Surely in the face of such love we would naturally want to respond with love in return.


So the question we must ask ourselves is do we let God love us? Do we trust that God wills to save us and help us live lives of true peace and holiness? Or do we see God as a tyrant who demands of us perfection before He will love us, as if His love were something we earn? Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, but Peter objected, not wanting Jesus to serve him. Are we, like Peter, too proud to accept the free gift that God has to offer us? Do we think we have to earn God's love and mercy? Or still yet, do we perhaps not set aside the time to really let God speak to our hearts? Are we perhaps too busy to spend time with God and to really get to know Him?


If we think God a tyrant who lords it over us, then it is no wonder we often seek the fulfillment of the deepest desires of our hearts in things that fail to satisfy, be it money, or status, or possessions, or the work we do, or even drugs and alcohol. It is true that our hearts thirst to be loved and even more true that God desires greatly to quench our thirst, to serve us, to love us with His unconditional love. If we do not set aside time in prayer each day and if we don't come to mass or do so begrudgingly, then we waste an opportunity to let God fill us with His love, to recharge us and give us the graces we need to love and serve others as He does. If we were to let God love us, if we would take the time to meet Him in prayer and let Him speak to our hearts, then we would fall in love with God harder than with any other person on earth. We would be set ablaze with love and would want to set others ablaze too, not unlike Saint Francis.


The old saying goes that you cannot give what you don't have. And so the only way we can love others, the only way we can love God as He deserves, is if we let God love us first, if we come to discover just how much He cares and just how much He has been trying to get through to us, to show us His presence when we are in the midst of difficulties, to guide us when we face trials. We must come to see that our Lord came to serve us when we should have been the ones serving Him. Only then will we understand what it means to gather every week on Sunday to give thanks to our God for the blessings He has so wondrously bestowed on us. Only then will we understand why we are encouraged to pray during the day in ways that both remind us of God's goodness and that praise Him for being so good to us. Only when we begin to let God love us will we feel the need to share His love with others by bearing patiently with those who annoy us, doing kind deeds for people who do not deserve them, forgiving those who have wronged us, and perhaps even one day laying down our lives for another.


If we first let God love us, then we will not feel the need to lord it over others, to compete with them in order to make sure we have enough or to make sure we accumulate all the good things for ourselves, getting the best places as James and John tried to do in today's gospel. Rather, once we discover the depths of God's love for us, we can willingly and freely give our service to others in need, sure in the knowledge that God has given us an over-abundance of wealth in giving us His very self and hopeful that He will continue to supply our needs in the future.


The Son of Man, Jesus Christ, came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. This week, if we take even five minutes each day to let God love us by stopping and speaking with him in prayer and listening to His voice in the depths of our hearts then we too will be transformed into men and women in love with God, who will stop seeking places of glory and begin serving others out of love for God. Once on fire with love for God, we will understand what it means to endure any trial or tribulation, to undergo any suffering out of love for God and for our neighbors. We will also trust that God is ready and willing to help us in every way to grow in love. We will love Love and ardently desire, as St. Francis did, that all peoples know and love our God of Love who came among us to serve.

Class Homily 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time B

Here's a homily I did for my homiletics class. Please critique as I am still learning.

The readings are here:


There was once a man who had a flock of sheep. He knew them all and loved each one. But since he could not tend the sheep by himself he hired shepherds to care for them. But they turned out to be lazy and selfish and instead of bringing the sheep back to the owner, they lost most of them in the wilderness. So the owner dismissed the wicked shepherds and sent his son to shepherd his flock. Having a heart like his Father's, the son loved the sheep as much as he did. The son gathered the lost sheep back into the flock, leading them all back to his father, and he tended the flock so well that the flock grew and so he had to enlist the help of other shepherds. But the son was careful to teach the others shepherds how to love and care for the sheep just as he did, by his example, leading the sheep back to their owner, making sure that the sheep stay together in one flock.
I start with this parable because the readings that the liturgy presents to us this Sunday paint us a picture with two contrasting sides. The first, in the reading from Jeremiah, is the bad example of the leaders of Israel who do not carry out the will of God but end up neglecting to care for the people God entrusted to their care. This situation in the history of Israel prompts God to announce his own direct intervention in the coming of the messiah, his Son Jesus who would shepherd God's people.
The today's gospel presents us with the image of Jesus, compassionately tending to the needs of the people who come to seek him out. He shows them that the Lord indeed is their shepherd and that they shall not want.
Yet Jesus does not tend the flock on his own. The apostles in today's gospel had just returned from preaching the good news and curing the sick. Jesus had sent them out to help pastor the flock. Even in today's reading from Jeremiah, the prophecy of the coming of the messiah speaks of shepherds in the plural. Jesus calls us all to help pastor his flock. He calls bishops, priests and deacons to do this in a special way, but the laity are also called to lend a hand.
How shall we know whether we are properly pastoring people? One clue can be seen in what we don't see happening in the gospel today. Remember, it was the apostles who had gone out at the request of Jesus to teach and heal. When the people see them they follow them, and many more who hear about where the apostles and Jesus are going also follow on foot. Jesus, not the apostles, sees the people and has compassion on them by teaching them. A telling sign that might escape our notice is that the people who had followed Jesus on account of the apostles do not demand to see them. We hear no one saying to Jesus, “What you are teaching us is all well and good, but in truth we came here to see Andrew, or Peter, or James.” Instead they listen to Jesus, which shows us that the apostles did not seek to attract people to themselves but to Jesus. Like the apostles, we will know that we are correctly pastoring people and helping the Lord if we, like the apostles, lead them to Jesus so that He might teach them and feed them.
Likewise we will know that we are correctly pastoring people if we seek to bring them all together into the unity of the one body of the Lord - the Church - as we hear in the reading from Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Paul reminds the community at Ephesus that both Jews and Greeks, previously divided from one another, have been brought together into one body in Christ. Likewise we are called to bring together into the unity of Christ's Church of today conservatives and liberals, Latin mass traditionalists and charismatics, social justice activists and dogmatists, sinners and saints, not leaving any behind but encouraging all to come and meet the Lord Jesus and cling to the teaching he has passed down to us through the Church, a tradition that not only brings us to encounter the Lord through reverent celebration of the sacraments, but also seek to take care of those in need, helping them to find their true dignity in Christ.
This is the year that Pope Benedict has asked us to pray for the holiness of our priests, that they may be good examples to us, that they may have a sure knowledge of Christ's love and imitate his example so as to better lead us on to holiness. Let us then not only pray for our priests today, but also ask our Lord to truly encounter His love at this Eucharist so that we too may be good examples both to our priests and to others, as we respond to Christ's call to be co-shepherds after his own heart in the different walks of life to which the Lord has called us.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New Friar Priests

Congratulations to the following Friars who were ordained to the priesthood today:

Friar Stefano, OFM and Friar Lorretto, OFM from the Province of Sts. Peter and Paul in Lazio, Italy.

Friar Matthew Foley, OFM Conv., from the Saint Anthony of Padua Province, headquartered in Ellicott City, MD.

Let's remember these newly ordained in our prayers that the Lord may make them and keep them as holy priests after his own heart.

Peace and Good.

A Story on Soon to be Canonized Fr. Damien of Molokai

The American Spectator has a great story on Fr. Damien.

May we too look to be "champions," men and women who go out on the field of our Christian life to defend the weak and cure the sick.

St. Damien of Molokai, pray for us.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Homily for Oct 9, 2009

Readings:


Did anyone catch Jesus' humility in today's gospel? Instead of outright contradicting those who accused him of casting out a devil by the power of the prince of devils, he shows them how, had what they said been truly the case, they would have had cause for rejoicing. Were it truly the case that Jesus was casting out devils by the prince of devils then Jesus would have been an instrument of civil war in Satan's kingdom, and therefore those who were speaking ill of Jesus really should have been speaking well of him.


But the people who were speaking ill of Jesus were envious and proud. They did not want to understand that only one stronger than the devil, God himself, could really be behind Jesus' work. Because of their pride, they do not acknowledge that the kingdom of God has come upon them and end up being an obstacle to Jesus and his ministry.


In response, Jesus tells them a parable that diagnoses their illness. Though these people were religious and tried to live according to the law, they fell victim to the spirit of superbia, better known to us as arrogance, one of the eight deadly sins along with gluttony, fornication, avarice, despair, wrath, sloth, and vainglory. Superbia is the temptation to think over highly of one's self after one has already overcome all the other sins. Jesus warns his adversaries that if they are not careful, their pride will lead them to eventually fall to all the other sins.


The question put to us this day is whether we are victims of superbia. Do we attribute the good deeds of others to impure motives? Are we quick to think highly of ourselves for our piety or orthodoxy? Do we look down on those who we think to be sinners or on those less orthodox than us? Are we thinking of someone else we think is proud instead of looking at ourselves. If the answer to any of these is yes, than we may want to learn from Jesus' example of humility this day and remember that we are nothing without God's grace and love.


Yet, we have cause not to be afraid. The good news for us is that Jesus is stronger than any of our vices. He casts out whatever evil afflicts us by the finger of God, digitus Dei in Latin, which is a traditional title for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts us of sin while at the same time urges us to trust in God's mercy and love. We could liken the Holy Spirit to the refiners fire, for He is the one who convicts us of sin in order to lead us to greater holiness. With His aid we will be able to overcome all our sins.


Remembering from yesterday's gospel that the Father willingly gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask, let us confidently call upon our Father in Jesus name to give us a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, open to discovering our hidden faults so that we can entrust to Him our healing.


Open to the working of the finger of God, we will humbly cooperate even more with Jesus' work of spreading the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Homily for October 5th, 2009


God is merciful. He sends Jonah to preach to the Ninevites because He is genuinely concerned for them despite the fact that they are not His chosen people. God even spares the life of Jonah after he has been unfaithful to his call and thrown into the sea by his shipmates. God mercifully sends a fish to swallow Jonah so that he doesn't drown. In the gospel we hear Jesus teach us that the way to love one's neighbor is to be merciful to him.

Mercy. Misericordia. The word means to take the misery of another into one's own heart. Mercy is something that goes beyond justice, beyond legalism, and suffers loss in the hope to do good to one who is in a difficult situation. The priest and the Levite in today's gospel are not necessarily passing by the victim of the robbers out of spite. Rather, they think that the man is dead and are too concerned about becoming ritually impure and missing their turn at participating in the sacrifices of the temple of Jerusalem. In fact, their reason for avoiding the man on the road is based on following the law. Yet the problem is that they made the law of their faith the highest good and not the love of God and neighbor as their highest good. They forgot that God desires mercy and not sacrifices and that they should have stopped to bury the dead man if he was in fact dead. But they failed to take the man's miserable condition into their hearts and suffer the loss of time and even possibly the opportunity to serve at the temple by stopping and doing him the kindness of burying him, had he truly been dead, or caring for him as the Samaritan had done. So the priest and the Levite broke the greatest commandment while looking to observe lesser ones.


Mercy. If it were not for God's mercy, we would all be held strictly accountable for every one of our sins, and we would all be condemned to hell. But God's mercy triumphs over justice because His love moves him to take our misery into his heart and pour out goodness upon us by offering us forgiveness and love.


We are called to do the same thing, to be merciful to those in need and imitate God's love. And we can do this in various ways. We can feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, comfort the imprisoned, visit the sick, and bury the dead. We can also be merciful to others by admonishing sinners, instructing the uninformed, counseling the doubtful, being patient with those in error, forgiving offenses, and praying for the living and the dead.


But it is also important for us to do acts of mercy with the right intention in our hearts. We can correct sinners out of an attitude of pride and superiority, or we can do so out of a genuine concern for the spiritual well-being of someone. This is what St. Francis would do. He would plead with sinners to amend their lives because he truly knew that it was God's will to save all people and Francis would truly take the miserable condition of the sinner into his heart, having compassion on them and begging them to reconsider their ways. When we pray for the conversion of someone, do we do so secretly hoping that God will smite them, or are our hearts truly touched by the poor condition they are in and our prayers inspired by compassion?


Today, coincidentally is the feast of St. Faustina Kowalska, better known as the apostle of Divine Mercy. Through her intercession may we come to both trust more in the mercy of God, who in His great love for us offers us forgiveness of our sins, and to carry out acts of mercy toward others in imitation of our Father in heaven.

Homily for the Solemnity of St. Francis, October 4th, 2009



Readings:


Today we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. As you know, memorials of saints are normally not celebrated on Sundays, but we celebrate St. Francis today here at St. Joseph's because he is the founder and patron saint of the Franciscan Friars, under whose care St. Joseph's parish has been for 145 years... ever since Fr. Leo Rizzo da Saracena succeeded Fr. Daniel Mullen as pastor in 1864. And Holy Mother Church permits parishes run by the Franciscans and any church or diocese that has Saint Francis as its patron saint to celebrate his feast as a solemnity in place of the normal mass for this 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time.


Today instead of focusing directly on the Lord, the liturgy presents to us a saint. Saints remind us of the wondrous ways God works in the lives of his people. Saints are examples to us of men and women who encountered God, who responded to God's call upon their hearts to accept His love, and who let that love transform them into instruments of peace. Seeing how they lived, the saints inspire us to also say yes to God and to put our trust fully in Him and in the good news we hear in the gospel, and to become heralds of the good news to others.


St. Francis was one such herald. Born Giovanni Bernardone in 1181 and nick-named Francesco by his father, Francis grew up in the Umbian town of Assisi at a time of social, political and religious turmoil. Besides the crusades, many heresies had become prevalent and not many Catholics loved God. The middle class was growing rich from textiles and trade and competing with the nobility for status. There were conflicts among those loyal to the Holy Roman Emperor, those loyal to the Pope, and those who wished to govern themselves.


The son of a middle class textile merchant, Francis aspired to become a knight so as to later become a noble. He joined the military campaign against the rival town of Perugia, but, taken prisoner, he contracted a fever that began turning his thoughts to God. After his release, Francis still sought earthly glory and wanted to join another military campaign. He had a dream that a large palace with many riches was in store for him and his followers. Francis thought this would mean he would become a great prince, but God had other plans in mind. While on the road to join the campaign, Francis' illness returned, and he had another dream in which a voice asked him “Francis, who can do more for you, the lord or the servant.” “The lord,” Francis replied. “Then why do you abandon the lord for the servant.” Asking what he should do Francis was told to return to Assisi where the Lord would tell him what to do.


Francis then began praying to know God's will. He would pray “Most high and glorious good God, enlighten the darkness of my heart, and give me right faith, certain hope and perfect charity, insight and wisdom that I may carry out your holy and true command.” In the church of San Damiano Francis received an answer to his prayer. While praying in front of the crucifix he heard Christ say to him “Francis, rebuild my church which you can see has fallen into ruin.” So thinking that this meant he should rebuild the churches like San Damiano that were literally falling into ruin, Francis began selling all his goods and buy or begging for building materials. When Francis' father found out he was selling his goods, he first tried to stop Francis and later he brought him before the bishop of Assisi to demand that Francis give him restitution. Francis then stripped himself of all he had and gave it to his father, declaring himself to no longer be his son but rather a religious.


Going about with nothing and joyfully preaching about God and the need to do penance, the people of Assisi initially thought Francis was crazy, and they would throw mud at him. During this time he began serving the lepers who he had thought repugnant prior to his conversion.


After some time people began to see that Francis was sincere and he attracted other young men to follow him as Friars Minor, St. Clare and other women of the area to follow his way of life as Poor Clares, and lay people like Lucius and his wife to follow him as secular Franciscans.


Francis' message and spirituality was simple. He saw the nativity and the passion of Jesus Christ as signs of God's love for mankind. For Francis, only an extraordinarily great love could make someone so rich and powerful like God choose poverty and weakness by becoming man and suffering an awful death on the cross. Francis sought with all his might to accept this great love and to return it to God through prayerful praise and love of his fellow human beings. Considering himself the troubadour of the Great King, Francis would preach to people trying to encourage them to also love God because of how much God loves them and to get them to practice virtue and turn away from vice. He would remind people of the glory that awaits those who love God and neighbor and who live lives of virtue. He would also lovingly remind people of the punishment awaiting those who continue to live in vice, inviting them to begin doing penance.


Like today's gospel, Francis trusted in God like a little child trusts in its parents. He saw God as the origin of all that is good and creation as an expression of God's providential concern. As such he revered nature because of how much it reminded him of God and His love. Animals were not afraid of Francis. He would speak to them and they would understand him, not only preaching to the birds, but even saving one town from a dangerous wolf. This was because, by the grace of God, Francis' holiness was reaching a point whereby he was beginning to experience the original harmony between God, others, creation, and himself that existed in the garden of Eden.


Loving the cross, Francis did not shun trials and tribulations but rather saw them as necessary for salvation and for spiritual growth. Though he had previously boasted in worldly things, Francis' encounter with God brought him to boast only in the cross as the second reading reminds us. Praying to know both the sufferings Christ endured and the love for mankind that spurned him on to endure them, Francis received the gift of the stigmata, the wounds of Christ in his hands and feet and side.


But most importantly, by his joyful and simple preaching, Francis was able to reconcile enemies and reconcile people to God, inspiring them to love God, to love and obey the Church and its ministers, even if they be sinners, and it was in this way he rebuilt Christ's church, converting people who had become heretics and reinvigorating the love of Catholics of his day and age for God and for their neighbors.


Let us follow Francis' example. Let us come to trust in God as the most high and all good Lord, the source of all good, the Father who so greatly loves us that he sent his only Son to take on our lowliness and to die for us so that we may share in His divine life by the gift of the Holy Spirit, but only if we turn away from sin and vice each day and strive to live in holiness in the pursuit of the perfection of true love of God and of our neighbors. Let us humbly accept that we need God and His church in order to have true wisdom and in order to come to fully live and understand our faith. Let us see the sacraments, especially eucharist and reconciliation as means of directly encountering God as Francis did and desire to frequent them often. Let us so love our Lord's passion that we willingly embrace our own trials and take up our own crosses, not only as a participation in Christ's passion, but also as necessary and helpful means for us to grow in love and holiness. Let us come to respect and revere nature because it reminds us of God's providence and love. Let us, like Francis, seek to be instruments of peace as we herald the good news through our genuine love and joy. As Francis sought to do God's will, let us too seek out what is ours to do, confident that the Lord is pleased to show us what He wills of us.

May the Lord give you His peace.

Homily for St. Therese, October 1, 2009

Readings


Kill them with kindness that they might love God. If we were to reduce what we learn from today's readings and from the celebration of the life of St. Therese of Lisieux it would be exactly this: Kill them with kindness that they might love God.

In the first reading we witness the assembly of Israel after they have come back from exile. Ezra the high priest reads to the people the book of Deuteronomy, which promises them blessings if they are faithful to God and exile if they are not faithful to God. The people begin to weep for two reasons. They realize that they suffered exile because they were unfaithful to God. Thus, they weep over their sins. But also, they realize that the restoration of the temple and their being brought back to the land of Israel is an unmerited gift on God's part. So they also weep because of the greatness of God's mercy and love. God showed them kindness that they might come back to him.

In the gospel, Jesus sends out 72 disciples in pairs to announce the good news of God's favor. He asks them to be the very instruments of God's love by announcing God's peace to all so that everyone may hear of God's love and change their lives by believing in how great God's love is. Jesus wants the kindness of God to be announced by his disciples in word and deed.

One woman who understood that it is necessary to be a witness to God's love for others was St. Therese of Lisieux. Knowing that she didn't have any extra-ordinary gifts, she sought to make God loved by others through her own simple and everyday acts of kindness. Living her short life as a cloistered Carmelite nun, she would be a witness to God through smiling at her sisters, talking to the dull and difficult sisters at recreation, joyfully accepting whatever food was put in front of her, and not reacting to small annoyances. She wished to kill her sisters with kindness so that they might love God.

Here at mass we will come face to face with the love of God poured out for us in Jesus Christ, in his passion and resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Renewed with a sense of gratitude for God's great love, let us resolve this day to be witnesses to God's love, announcing His kingdom of peace, in and through little things done with love. It could be something as simple as greeting someone, or wishing someone who seems down that they have a good day, or talking to the person who seems isolated. Whatever it may be, let us do these things as a witness to God's great love for us, which we then share with others, hoping that they too, having been killed with kindness, may in turn come to love God.

Reflection for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Here is a reflection I wrote for Sunday August 30th, the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B. Sorry it has taken me so long to post it.

The readings:


Friday, September 18, 2009

Vatican Web Site Gets Hi-Tech

Check out what my boys at the Vatican did with their website! They added a virtual tour of the necropolis beneath St. Peter's Basilica!

I'm so proud of my boys it isn't even funny! Way to go Comastri!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Totus Tuus

Just an update. This past Sunday, I professed my solemn vows as a Franciscan Friar in the Province of the Immaculate Conception at our retreat center in Canada. I thought it funny it was on the day that is normally the memorial of St. John Chrysostom, a doctor of the church who was constantly in exile because of his integrity and faithfulness to the truth. Also, being the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the readings were about taking up the cross.

The yesterday, the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, I was ordained to the diaconate. I'm excited to be able to bless things, and my parents indulged me by buying me a copy of the Shorter Book of Blessings.

Today, the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, I returned to The Martyrs' Shrine in Midland, Ontario, where I had spent a month in retreat in preparation for these happy events. I had forgotten that today also marks the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's visit to the same Martyrs' Shrine, where the likes of Sts. Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant gave their lives, a place that, to paraphrase JPII, gives witness to the triumph of the cross.

Even neater was that JPII's visit to the Martys' Shrine was highlighted by the blessing of the Native Deacons, and here I was, a newly ordained deacon, visiting where JPII had come on pilgrimage 25 years ago. It seemed to me to be as if I was also being blessed by John Paul's intercession.

Tomorrow I head back to the parish that I have been assigned to in the US. It has been an adjustment coming back from Rome, but I am eager and ready to get to work.

Totus Tuus, Jesus.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hope Unshodden

Tony Melendez, a man with no arms who can do much more than many people with arms. He can give others hope.



If we remember who are God is and what His love can do, then it is true that "Today is like no other" and "you and I will never be the same."

Friday, May 01, 2009

A Reflection on Reason

Augustine of Hippo once said "He who distinguishes well, reasons well."
 
In today's society where traditional values and defense of the family is being called "bigotry" by special interest groups, it is necessary for us to reason well and distinguish well.
 
As Catholics we can indeed distinguish between not supporting institutions that would damage society and the traditional family while at the same time respecting and even defending the dignity of those who have and do become victims of hatred based on that which makes them different.
 
Love, especially the love that we receive from Christ and are called to reflect in the world, can indeed both say "no" to the unjust demands of some, while at the same time loving and respecting their dignity, even going so far as to be willing to die to defend that dignity.
 
In all this we have reason to have great hope because our Father is pleased to give us the Holy Spirit, and He shall be our strength in every trial and difficulty. Let us only resolve to remain faithful to the call to love and to stand up for what we believe in through patient insistence of the truth.