... at the ball game.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
"For freedom Christ has set us free": Through anointing and mercy, unburdened of the past and forward to the Kingdom which lies ahead
Sadness and inertia are often brought on by morbid delectation of the sins and problems of the past. The spiritual condition is akin to death and can result in a falling away from the practice of the Faith. Today we hear about the work of Christ in us, anointed for life and for the kingdom, because "for freedom Christ has set us free."
Elijah calls Elisha to go forward, anointing for a new life as prophet of God. But Elisha's first reaction is to go backward, back to his family instead of forward in trust with God. And in the Gospel, those privileged to hear the call of the Lord to join Him in the kingdom respond by saying thjat they must instead bury the dead! "Let the dead bury the dead!"
The anointing that Elisha received was a sign of the anointed One, Christ, who calls us to be freed in Him from the past, and from sin, and to be freed for a purpose: for Him, for His Kingdom of eternal life and love.
The past, with its sins and memories, with its tragedies and failings threatens our freedom. In Christ we are offered the anointing of Baptism and the sacramental life for the purpose of giving bcak to us the freedom that God intended from the beginning but which was lost with the slavery of sin. Saint Paul speaks of this in the second reading today: "For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery."
To choose life in Christ is to choose to celebrate the Sacraments properly and fully so that by the Lord's anointing of mercy we can joyfully, in freedom, accept His invitation to the Kingdom: “Follow me.”
In our baptism we were freed from original sin. In our confirmation we are freed from fear and lack of courage to be heroes and witnesses. In Confession we are freed from slavery to the most serious, or mortal, sins. In communion the Lord forgives our venial sins.
In every sacrament, the Lord offers us the gift of freedom with a purpose, so that we might sincerely accept His invitation to the Kingdom. "For freedom Christ has set us free." But the grace of the sacraments must be used as we intentionally choose to let the dead bury the dead, to refuse to languish in the past, to refuse to give our imagination and memory over once again in slavery to the old way of life with the ugliness of sins and failings: “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Let us say today with complete trust in God: “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Friday, June 25, 2010
The new chapel for the Catholic community dedicated to Saint Benedict takes shape in the Tidewater architectural style with a projected completion date in October. I celebrated the Extraordinary Form holy Mass for the first time today in the old chapel located on this site with the very generous assistance of the Rev. Neal Nichols, FSSP.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Fr Nichols, FSSP, celebrates the Rite of Betrothal for Matthew and Teresa, engaged to be married this summer. When a Christian man and woman intend to pledge themselves in marriage, it is praiseworthy and in accord with ancient ecclesiastical custom to have the engagement solemnized and blessed by the Church. Here Fr Nichols takes the two ends of his stole and in the form of a cross places them over the clasped hands of the couple to bear witness to their solemn proposal and to declare them betrothed in the name of the Most Holy Trinity.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Today we have to ask sometimes, "Are fathers disappearing?" Are they in some respects an endangered species? In more and more facets of social life, "a good man is hard to find". Men seem to be fading away from aspects of family life such as attendance at church and participation in Sunday Mass. For some this is not considered a "guy" thing.
Some social change agents are boasting that children are better off without a father and even propose to replace fathers by suggesting that children should have two mothers instead.
Even some colleges now are wary that dropping numbers of males on campus will have an overall negative effect on enrollment. It turns out that, when guys aren't interested in an event or activity, girls aren't either. Gee, I wonder why.
Also in the Church, because Mass is a "guy" thing, because the offering on the altar is Jesus the God-MAN, we need men to step up, or "man up" as some would say, and offer their lives in a beautiful and courageous self-offering in imitation of the Lord Jesus through ordination into the ministerial priesthood as did eight men today in a wonderful celebration at the National Shrine.
The fathers are out there. I went to a baseball game with our servers on Friday and met some fathers I don't believe I've ever seen before after spending a year getting to know the parish and our families. Many of our fathers, however. are very dedicated and do attend Mass whenever possible with their wives and children.
Fathers are not optional. Even God liked fathers so much he had two: His heavenly Father and Joseph His foster father. Every child needs a father just like our Lord Jesus needed one. But our fathers need to be affirmed and appreciated. They need to know that they are doing a good job, they need to be thanked. And our fathers need to see signs of our love for them.
How did Jesus show His love and thanks to His Father? He prayed; just as we see Him doing in today's Gospel. He went apart from everyone and everything else in His life sometimes, into "solitude", in order to spend time enjoying the communion of love that the Father always offered to Him at every moment of His life on earth.
All of us, too, are called into that same communion of love with the heavenly Father. And Jesus is the only One who makes that possible for us. How? In the holy Mass we gain access to the communion of love with the Father because "we are all children" of God in Christ Jesus. God is truly our Father through the new life of baptism we have all received in the Lord through the Church. And the Mass is the perfect gift of the Son.
We "mourn an only Son" here at Mass. The reason why we have the crucifix before us here in our church is so that we might "look on him whom they have thrust through". Why? Jesus' self-offering of His life on the Cross is the moment of His supreme union of love with the Father. "Raised up" on the Cross he draws all men to Himself. The Mass is the means by which He offers this same communion or union of love with the Father so that we might share in the gift.
How do we grow more fully in the union of love, the communion with the Father, promised us here and now because of Jesus who prays with us in the holy Mass? It is simple: by doing what the Church does, by praying as the Church prays, we infallibly and confidently expect to receive and enjoy the same gift as the Son receives, "acknowledging God as our Father" in the midst of the Church.
Jesus prayed in solitude but this does not mean he was "alone". He prayed in the embrace of His Father and invites us to "follow" Him in doing so. In the Mass he generously opens up this "solitude" so as to invite us to enter into His perfect relationship with the Father through the gift of the Spirit.
But, if we stay away, if we remain aloof as many do today by refusing to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, we remain in a sterile and dissatisfying type of "solitude" that cuts us off from the Father and from the love of others. So many do this today and it is a terrible mistake and a self-fulfilling prophecy: "I feel badly; I feel like I don't love God or believe in Him, so I am not going to Mass" some say. We cut ourselves off in this way from the very One who only has the power to restore us to ourselves, to lift us out of the poverty of loneliness: the One who is greater than all others, the One whom Jesus reveals as both His father and our father, His God and our God.
But if we approach the Father here he brings us back from lack of hope, from lack of faith, from lack of love, back to fulfillment because of Christ who is offered here and Who offers Himself. But we should hold nothing back in order to fully offer ourselves and thus reap the full benefit of God's love. If we would "take up the Cross of Jesus" if we would but "follow Him" as he approaches the Father, then we must use all of our gifts, all that we have are are: body, mind soul and spirit.
Our Psalm is both a liturgical song, one that is sung by the people of God as part of their act of worship, and a description of the actions, attitudes and gestures of those who do the worshiping. Listen again:
O God, you are my God whom I seek
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
You are my help and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy
My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.
So, our voice must be raised in the prayers and songs, our bodies find expression in the communion and other processions, by kneeling or standing, bowing or by striking the breast. The active gift of our minds grasp and meditate upon the Word of God which enters through our ears. We grow in the habit of of rejecting distractions so as to hand over our attention more generously to the sights and sounds of the Mass. Our hearts, too, grow in the nature of a gift offered through authentic love with the help of all these other means of self expression. And the result? He is our help and we shout for joy! Our souls cling fast to the Lord! His right hand upholds each one of us!
Praying to the Father, whether by lifting up our hands, by praying with our voices, by shouting, as you often hear me doing when I sing, whether in solitude or above all in the liturgy of holy Mass, this the perfect prayer of the "only Son" "whom they have thrust through". It is also now our perfect prayer, for we are "all children of God in Christ Jesus" who does all things well.
Just as Fathers find joy and deeper fulfillment in a more generous expression of total sharing in the lives of their families, particularly in the supreme moment of family life each week at Sunday Mass, so we will find joy and satisfaction by sharing more deeply in the relationship our Lord enjoys with the heavenly Father and into which he invites us in this and every holy Mass.
"You are all children" of God in Christ Jesus: in Him God is "Our Father". We enjoy the Fatherhood of God who tends us and feeds us, comforts us and strengthens us in this banquet which He spreads before us in the Son and through the Holy Spirit of love.
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Photo source: The New Liturgical Movement.
Friday, June 18, 2010
The "high" altar at Saint Francis de Sales Church in Benedict, Md, was a gift from Saint Matthew's Cathedral in Washington. Constructed of a carrara-type white marble with gray veining, the central emblem on the face of the mensa is a wreath surrounding Mary's monogram of the letters "A" and "M" intertwined. This altar is used each week for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form Mass of the Roman Rite.
Ongoing repairs and restoration following a January fire at the church are expected to be completed early next week.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
With God, the good and the perfect are never in conflict, one need never be abandoned in favor of the other. In today's Gospel reading Christ tells us that the greatest good for every human person is to "be perfect" as our heavenly Father is "perfect".
Sometimes we let the bad get in the way of the good. In the Sacrament of Confession, the Lord restores to us the good of grace lost particularly in the commission of mortal sin, so that we may continue through Him, with Him and in Him, to pursue the perfect by way of the good.
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
“If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”
Yes, adultery and fornication are always gravely sinful, regardless of other circumstances surrounding these acts, and must be confessed before receiving communion. To break one commandment is to break them all. The sinful woman knew the gravity of her sins in the light of her love for the Lord. Only understanding His love enables the sinner to see the great evil of sin.
The Pharisee harbors a sinful judgment of the woman, that she makes Christ impure by touching him.
Her touch, however, is with sorrow for sin and love of God and results in absolution and grace.
Someone here needs to examine his conscience but it isn't the sinful woman: "her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love".
The Pharisee lacks the freedom to see himself with honesty, sinning in the very act of pointing out someone else's sin. The Lord then does for the Pharisee as Nathan did for King David: He acts for salvation and respects freedom. Salvation is a free gift. The self examination necessary for repentance is not authentic if it is not free, if it is forced, so the prophet tells a story and then asks a question. The response enables the guilty one to place himself in the story, and thus truthfully examine himself, leading to confession and forgiveness: "You are the man!"
The Lord gives you and me the same freedom, through the light of the Word, to also see ourselves with honesty, and then to receive the grace of sorrow for sin which prepares us to confess with sincerity and love.
When we touch Jesus in confession he makes us pure through absolution: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Saturday, June 12, 2010
My homily for the final celebration of Mass with the children centered on avoiding superficiality in our relationship with God. How? MPG.
Mass on Sunday.
Gestures of the liturgy done fully and sincerely.
MPG is the fuel of an authentic love of God which is the energy source for our daily lives of faith.
Goodbye, St Mary's! Let us pray for each other!
Dear Brothers in the Priestly Ministry,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,The Year for Priests which we have celebrated on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of the holy Curè of Ars, the model of priestly ministry in our world, is now coming to an end. We have let the Curé of Ars guide us to a renewed appreciation of the grandeur and beauty of the priestly ministry.
The priest is not a mere office-holder, like those which every society needs in order to carry out certain functions. Instead, he does something which no human being can do of his own power: in Christ’s name he speaks the words which absolve us of our sins and in this way he changes, starting with God, our entire life. Over the offerings of bread and wine he speaks Christ’s words of thanksgiving, which are words of transubstantiation – words which make Christ himself present, the Risen One, his Body and Blood – words which thus transform the elements of the world, which open the world to God and unite it to him.
The priesthood, then, is not simply “office” but sacrament: God makes use of us poor men in order to be, through us, present to all men and women, and to act on their behalf. This audacity of God who entrusts himself to human beings – who, conscious of our weaknesses, nonetheless considers men capable of acting and being present in his stead – this audacity of God is the true grandeur concealed in the word “priesthood”. That God thinks that we are capable of this; that in this way he calls men to his service and thus from within binds himself to them: this is what we wanted to reflect upon and appreciate anew over the course of the past year.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
... fold your hands.
“He was a nice, obedient child, but every child can be that way, if parents will keep them straight. All my children were the same. I did not punish them, there was no hitting, but very stern words: You have to do it. My kids were not into mischief. Who prays well, has no place for silliness in his life”
Photo: Marianna Popieluszko at the grave of her son, Blessed Fr Jerzy Popieluszko, priest and martyr, June 5, 2010.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Archbishop Broglio on repeal of DADT: "Sacrificing moral beliefs for political considerations neither just nor prudent"
"I think that those questions require an adequate response. The effect of a repeal of the current legislation has the potential of being enormous and overwhelming. Nothing should be changed until there is certainty that morale will not suffer. Sacrificing the moral beliefs of individuals or their living conditions to respond to merely political considerations is neither just nor prudent especially for the armed forces at a time of war. Catholics believe that nothing will be done if there is a careful and prudent evaluation of the effects of a change."
Monday, June 7, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
In the Eucharist Christ fulfills His promise of presence: " I will be with you always, to the end of the world."
In the gift of His Body and Blood He gives power: "Without me you can do nothing. With God all things are possible."
In His Sacrament of the Altar He grants a heavenly place for us: "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has life eternal and I will raise him up on the last day. I go to prepare a place for you."
When God gives, He gives all. "This is My Body, This is My Blood" could not therefore mean "only my Body" or "only a sign of My Body" but must mean rather that God does in the Eucharist what He does also on the Cross and in the Resurrection, in all his words and actions: He gives all of His Body, all of His Blood, all of His Soul and all of His Divinity. The Eucharist is God who gives all that He has to give: He gives Himself! This is love. Christ the Bread of Life gives Himself entirely: His presence abiding, His Divine power saving and a place for us in His life never ending.
The Eucharist is God and Man, Christ Jesus, and in this Gift we have all we need: "He who sees Me sees the Father"
O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine."
But he added that with consummation, "the illusion is shattered" and the "reality of human condition sets in." The most satisfactory ending for tale of romantic love, he said, "is not, as one would think, physical consummation or even growing old together. It is actually death. While longing still pierces the heart, death, for then, the living member of the couple can go on living forever above the ordinariness of mere earth."
But he argued that Christian love "is not about love and escape, it's about suffering." Humble love, he said, "is very down to earth. [And] so in a fascinating way, spousal love [with it's many trials], is the nexus of all loves."
As an aside, he said marriage "is a lot of saying 'I'm sorry,' and a lot of being asked for forgiveness, but mostly it's about good humor." If you have good humor, he said, "you have a good shot at marriage and being successful in marriage, especially in bad situations."
Also to much laughter, he made a couple of light-hearted quips: "Once you've had grandchildren you actually realize it's so much fun, you could have skipped the children," he said. And he recalled that amusing truism: "Every woman tends to think after marriage her husband will change, and he seldom does, and every man thinks his wife will never change, and she always does."
Source: For more about Dietrich von Hildebrand's Philosophy of Love, visit zenit.org.
Friday, June 4, 2010
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Another treasure unearthed on Youtube from a talk hosted at the church of Saint Mark when I was stationed there a few years ago to mark the Year of the Family which was observed in 1994. Father Hardon's cause for canonization is a work in progress and this video wherein he addresses the ongoing crisis in family life is a valuable document which helps to recognize his heroic work for Jesus Christ, the Faith and salvation of souls.
Please visit again tomorrow for part 2 of his talk. Thanks to casepres channel on YouTube.
Church news sources, priest blogs, sources on the priesthood
- American Papist
- Anna Arco's Diary
- Annus Sacerdotalis
- Apostles of Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim
- Archdiocese of Washington Blog
- Clerical Reform
- Damian Thompson
- Daughters of Mary, Spiritual Mothers of The Priesthood
- Father Jason Worthley
- Father Joe
- Father Joe: Blogger Priest
- Father Raymond DeSouza
- Forest Murmurs
- From the Inside: James Dean enters the Benedictine Order
- John L. Allen, Jr.
- Offerimus tibi Domine
- Opus Bono Sacerdotii: "Work for the Good of the Priesthood"
- Overheard in the Sacristy
- Priests' Secretary
- Roman Miscellany
- Rome Reports
- Rosary for the Bishop: Pray for our bishops
- Saint Mary Magdalene
- Sandro Magister in Rome: News, analysis, and documents on the Catholic Church
- The Heart of the Matter
- The Hermeneutic of Continuity
- Valle Adurni
- Voice in the Areopagus / Father Bill Stetson
- Vultus Christi
- Yorkshire Shepherd