Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vocation Thursdays: Father Ron Gillis

Listening to people’s hearts
Fr. Ron Gillis provides spiritual direction for many
By Lisa Socarras | For the Catholic Herald
Lisa Socarras | For the Catholic Herald
Fr. Ron Gillis

Born and raised in Boston, Father Ron Gillis calls 1967 the year of “The Impossible Dream” because the Red Sox won the American League Pennant and because the youngest of eight children in the Gillis household was ordained to the priesthood.

“My father was in seventh heaven,” he said, reflecting on his vocation. “I regard it as a miracle, the whole expectation that you could be called by God to give everything. I looked at the crucifix and said, ‘Lord, You did all that for me. What should I be willing to do for You?’”

Today, 44 years later, Father Gillis serves as chaplain at both the Reston Study Center and Oakcrest School in McLean, and as a spiritual director at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., a position he has held for the past 30 years. Some years, he has given ongoing spiritual direction to more than 40 seminarians, driving twice a week from Northern Virginia to listen, advise and guide those in priestly formation.

As an Opus Dei priest working in the Washington, D.C., area for the past 38 years, Father Gillis has administered the sacraments, taught courses, preached, and provided spiritual direction and evenings of recollection for hundreds of married men and women as well as students. He always has been selfless and ready to help others on their personal path to sanctity, part of the universal call to holiness.

Opus Dei, a personal prelature of the Catholic Church, was founded in Spain in 1928 by St. Josemaría Escrivá, who taught that work and the circumstances of ordinary life are occasions for growing closer to God, serving others and for improving society.

Even as a young man, Father Gillis had a strong sense of purpose for his life and never had any doubts about his vocation.

“It was impossible to grow up in Catholic Boston and not have a strong sense of vocation because vocations were abundant,” he said. “It was a very common question for Catholic young people to ask, ‘What is my vocation?’”

“We were surrounded by the Faith and by the sense of dedication, also present in our parents, who raised large families. They were working-class people, very committed to the Faith,” said Father Gillis.

He attended Catholic elementary and secondary school where his teachers sensed he had a vocation to the priesthood.

“The nuns were after me in the eighth grade to go away to junior seminary,” he said, adding that he was not ready at that young age to make the commitment.

Later, while a junior in high school, Father Gillis said a friend “dragged me along” on a retreat at a Trappist monastery and it made a profound impact on him.

“It was in August and it was the feast of St. Bernard,” he said. “I always remember that it was like going to heaven. It was so beautiful, the peacefulness, the spirituality, the whole thing was magnificent, the Divine Office, the Liturgy. Then we were helping to make the hay with the monks. The silence, I remember thinking this is really the peace of God. This is really wonderful, but I don’t want to stay here.”

He asked himself how one could bring this sense of the presence of God into the midst of the world.

“I don’t have a monastic vocation. I like being in the middle of the world. When I encountered Opus Dei, that’s what happened. I saw that these people are involved in things, but they take spirituality very seriously. I was struck by this kind of formula that we need to bring Our Lord to so many people who are good people who live in the middle of the world,” Father Gillis said.

Following his freshman year of college at the University of Toronto, he became a member of Opus Dei and then transferred to Boston University because there was no Opus Dei center in Toronto. After earning a bachelor’s in history, he went to Rome in 1964 to study for the priesthood as a seminarian at the Roman College of the Holy Cross. While in Rome, he had the opportunity to learn from St. Josemaría Escriva himself.

“He was a great coach and a tremendous leader of men,” said Father Gillis. “As the founder, he was strong and enormously affectionate.”

He instilled in the seminarians that the only thing that really matters is personal sanctity, that we be saints. Always ready to admit his own challenges, the saint taught that determination to persevere, even in times of tremendous trial, is the journey of the soul toward holiness. To begin again is man’s goal because of our fallen nature we will have failings.

“The spirit of St. Josemaría is that the important thing is the struggle,” said Father Gillis. “The struggle is the sign of holiness. A saint is a sinner that keeps trying.”

In 1966, Father Gillis went to Pamplona, Spain, to continue his studies. After his ordination in Segovia, Spain, in 1967, he went on to earn a doctorate in cannon law in 1969 and returned to the United States.

“I went to Rome in 1964 to study, just after the Beatles had appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’” he said. “I remember thinking this music is the most fantastic but it’s immoral for them to wear their hair that long. Everybody had their hair buzz cut. Then when I came back after being away for five years, in 1969, I like to tell people it looked like everybody had their fingers in an electrical socket, a complete change,” he laughed.

He worked in New York and Boston until 1972 when he was assigned to the Washington area, which has been his home, except for one year that he spent in Pittsburgh. In 2005, he became a resident chaplain of the newly built Reston Study Center, which is an educational center dedicated to the character development of students and professional men.

He reflected on his role as a priest over the years and the Church.

“I have lived through these tumultuous years, coming from that period of total solidity in terms of structure and stability of the Church, to live in the tumultuous times of the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s,” Father Gillis said. “It has been a unique experience, an adventure to see how basically a revolution occurred, not just in the Church.”

He said that prayer is the answer to solving all of life’s challenges.

“Prayer is the only weapon we have. The Church will rise up when we get on our knees,” Father Gillis said.

God is never far from us, He is with us in our ordinary, daily life.

“God has chosen the low road, the way of Bethlehem and Nazareth, instead of the high road. He came in through the back door, in the real world,” Father Gillis said. “As St. Josemaría said, ‘If you don’t find God in the real world, then you don’t find Him at all.’”

In November 2010, Father Gillis was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. He is currently undergoing treatments, the success of which he attributes to the prayers of many. Through it all he continues the work and spiritual direction that he loves. “The Holy Spirit works through you,” he said. “The most important thing that a spiritual director does is to listen to people’s hearts. You have to love people.”

Source: Arlington Catholic Herald. Socarras is a freelance writer from Annandale.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Homily for Nativity of the Lord. "Christmas every Sunday": the Lord seeks to be born into our lives through the Eucharist at Sunday Mass each week

Merry Christmas!

I must begin my remarks by sharing a confession with all of you: our church does not look this beautiful every Sunday! I do not speak of the decorations which beautifully announce our joy on this occasion when we celebrate the birth of the Child Jesus at Bethlehem. I am speaking about all of you, the people of God who fill and make beautiful the Lord's house which exists for your sakes, for the purpose of providing for your own meeting with Jesus at Christmas and every Sunday.

You are God's people through the grace of Baptism and your presence here which glorifies God beautifully praises His goodness and love and is a true Christmas gift to me, your priest, for which I thank and praise Him.

In our Mass this evening we also keep the Lord's Day holy together because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. Here we are, together on a Sunday, perhaps to realize also as God's gift that we can indeed overcome the many things of daily life that sometimes seem to prevent us from making room for God here at Mass and in other ways!

For the full text of the homily please visit Meeting Christ in the Liturgy.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Child's Prayer for Christmas: "Happy Birthday Jesus"

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Happy Birthday, Jesus! We are happy because today we celebrate your birth in Bethlehem many years ago. You have a birthday today, just like we each have our own birthdays.

We thank you that you came from heaven to earth to be born just for us. Thank you for all you did for us when you were here with us. You taught us how to love God our Father in heaven and to obey His will. You taught us to love each other: help us to remember to be more loving. You taught us how to do the right thing: remind us that you are with us, even when we think no one is looking.

We thank you for growing up to be our Savior and dying on the Cross for our sins. We thank you that you rose again and went to heaven, opening a way so we can go there too, someday.

Thank you for the gift of the Church and for your Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist.

Thank you for our parents who love us so much and for all our family and friends.


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Archbishop Broglio's Christmas Letter

Dear Friend of Church and Military,

Fall colors in the Washington area have vanished and the bleak signs of winter are appearing. Of course, that means that the holy season of Christmas is quickly approaching. The traditions surrounding our annual celebration of the Savior’s birth fill us with joy and a deep longing for that peace announced by the angels.

Parishes plan penance services and other activities, families gather, office personnel celebrates, and friends and neighbors decorate their houses and host parties. The birth of absolute Goodness, the Incarnation of the Son of God, reminds men and women that we are all brothers and sisters, children of God our heavenly Father.

Of course, for the men and women in uniform who serve our Country at home and abroad, holiday time is special, but my heart goes out to those who are deployed far from home and the warmth of their families.

I will spend Christmas with those stationed in Kuwait and Kyrgyzstan and perhaps in the Persian Gulf on the aircraft carrier USS John Stennis. Bishop Higgins will remain in the nation’s capital to celebrate Christmas at the installations of the Military District of Washington and at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Bishop Spencer will bring the joyful news of the Savior’s birth to those in Afghanistan. Bishop Buckon will celebrate these holy days with soldiers and their families at Fort Stewart, Georgia—home of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

Thank you for making those pastoral visits possible. My flight to and from the Middle East will cost $2,500. Your generosity makes a difference. You allow us to fly far from these shores, visit, and celebrate the Eucharist with the troops who sacrifice themselves for our freedom and values. They appreciate the time and effort expended to confirm them in their faith. During these visits the expressions of gratitude abound.

Indeed these valiant men and women bend under the weight of combat and the tension provoked by an elusive enemy. They are anxious about their future and they are far from their loved ones. The long and frequent deployments to the Middle East take their toll on everyone: military, families, and our long-suffering chaplains who care for our brothers and sisters both during the deployment and afterward.

There is no doubt that service in the Armed Forces of our country at this point in time has damaged family life. The pressures and the uncertainty affect everyone. The syndrome of post-traumatic stress (PTS) has become a national health issue for the troops, chaplains, and veterans. Alleviating the burden depends on the willingness of each one of us to guide the returning veteran to a haven of trust and welcome.

This particular archdiocese without territorial boundaries also looks back and remembers those who have served in previous wars and are now cared for in the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and Clinics. In October, I met with almost one hundred VA chaplains who serve across the country. Their concerns are ours and providing for their pastoral care is another way that the Nation does not forget those who have generously served us in past conflicts and now in the current challenges. Thank you for all that you make possible.

How can you help in this process? First of all, continue to beg the Prince of Peace to end the time of the tramping boots and the garments rolled in blood, as the Holy Father prayed last Christmas at Midnight Mass. Then please invoke the loving Father for the healing of the victims of PTS. Furthermore, extend a welcoming hand to those in your community who are returning from deployment. You can make a difference for them and for their families. Finally, your financial support to the Archdiocese for the Military Services allows it to minister to the men and women in uniform and to support of the chaplains and their own process of healing.

There are still other concerns. The Archdiocese for the Military Services is actively planning for future ministry to its faithful. The 32 co-sponsored seminarians who are preparing themselves for the priesthood and military chaplaincy represent the best hope for that future. Your financial support allows the Archdiocese to meet half of their seminary expenses and to help the dynamic Director of Vocations seek even more workers for the harvest.

I boldly beg you to continue your support for this vast archdiocese. Christmas is the occasion when we remember the Gift of the Father to us. Each of us tries to respond by giving something we have received to those in need. Thanking you for your generosity to this Archdiocese in the past, I am also grateful for whatever help you can offer at the present time.

As I wish you abundant Christmas blessings, I thank you for your past generosity. Rest assured that you and your loved ones will be remembered in my prayers throughout the Christmas Season in the Middle East. May the Lord bless you with health and happiness throughout 2012!

With sentiments of gratitude, I remain

Sincerely in Christ,

(Most Reverend) Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services

P.S. Please support and pray for our brave troops and the chaplains who help them during their deployment and afterwards, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Christmas season. I pray that you will help this Archdiocese to continue to provide all of its programs of spiritual pastoral care.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Everyday martyrdom

We admire the martyrs' heroism and desire it for ourselves.

There is a living death through suffering, even of the consequences of our own sins, by which we can realize each moment a heroism which God offers us though different from that of the bloody martyrs.

The resolution is put into action when the will actively anticipates and chooses to acknowledge the continued consequences of sin which arise through the memory, the imagination or the changed attitudes or reactions on the part of those wounded by our sins. One's past deficiencies of respect for the dignity of oneself and others though still potent in memory is rejected. One thus freely wills this very beautiful way to meet the Lord each day by living these moments in a manner similar to the way in which a martyr watches the bullets approach for a split second before closing his eyes on this world for the last time, his transit thus hastened to behold and adore the face of God.

Also that staunch, unflinching love which manifests itself in daily forgiveness in the face of the unremitting attacks of the incomprehending, the vengeful, the bitter, the jealous is a martyrdom which indeed experiences most acutely the pain of these bullets but refuses to respond in kind, allowing the burning love of God which is grace to melt them into fuel for the increase of the power of the burning charity of the heart aflame with the divine Presence which is love.

Through this grace the faithful heart achieves a union, a participation in the burning furnace of Divine love which is fully and truly present in the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Why the change when what we had seemed to work just fine?" On the new English translation of holy Mass

I suspect this article may help some of our Catholic worshipers who are struggling to understand why the need for a different translation of the Mass into English when we already had one which we have been using for many years.

The Roman Rite of the Latin Church

By Father Anthony Marques - The Priest, 11/1/2011

"The Church’s current guidelines state that, for the Ordinary Form of Mass, the Latin text 'must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner' (Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Liturgiam Authenticam, No. 20). This applies not only to the words, but also to the unique style, word order, and sentence structure of Latin (Liturgiam Authenticam, No. 57). In short, when the Roman Rite is translated into English — or into any other vernacular language — its “Latiness” should shine through."

To read more of this article on the reasons behind the English translation of holy Mass, click here to visit Priest Magazine.

Friday, December 16, 2011

John L. Allen Jr. reviews new book, "Joseph Ratzinger: Crisis of a Papacy"

The perils of a 'part-time pope'
by John L Allen Jr on Dec. 16, 2011

* All Things Catholic

Marco Politi, to be sure, has a point of view. A veteran Italian journalist and commentator, mostly for the leftist La Repubblica, Politi's sympathies clearly run to the Catholic church's progressive wing. It thus may be tempting to see his critical new book on Benedict XVI, titled Joseph Ratzinger: Crisis of a Papacy, as the predictable grumbling of someone who just doesn't like what this pope stands for.

However understandable, that would be a mistake.

I've known Politi for two decades, covering Vatican happenings with him and reading his stuff. Whatever one makes of his big-picture perspective, he's an astute observer, and there's always something to learn from what he has to say. (Proof that Politi is taken seriously in the Vatican is that Gian Maria Vian, editor of L'Osservatore Romano, was among the panelists at a Nov. 16 presentation of the book in Rome -- even though Vian said he came as a "devil's advocate" to argue that the book "shouldn't be canonized.")

Politi's core thesis is expressed in the provocative assertion that Benedict XVI is a "part-time pope."

As Politi sees it, Benedict dips in to running the church or acting as a global leader only when circumstances require it. His passion, however, is focused on his private theological studies and his own writings.

"Joseph Ratzinger has revealed himself to be a fragile leader," Politi writes, "uncomfortable in the art of government, hesitant to confront the internal problems of the church, more sensitive to theology than geopolitics."

The result, according to Politi, is a "gap in governance".

Benedict, in Politi's eyes, has not articulated a clear vision for confronting the church's big-ticket challenges, such as the global priest shortage. So far, Politi asserts, the two most consequential reforms on Benedict's watch -- tighter norms on sex abuse and more transparent money management -- were "imposed by circumstances."

Perhaps most damaging, according to Politi, is that the geopolitical relevance of the Catholic church accumulated under John Paul II is in free-fall. For instance, he asserts that Benedict has had little incisive to say about the Arab Spring, arguably the most significant mutation of the global order since the collapse of Communism.

In the Vatican, Politi reports, there's a sense of frustration. He quotes a Vatican official who says that in the absence of monthly meetings of department heads, "everyone is running their own shop, without any reference to a common direction or a shared vision."

As a result, Politi writes, even after six and a half years of Benedict's papacy, "A priest, a journalist or a church historian can still be approached during a conversation and confronted with an apparently bizarre question: 'What's this pope like?'"

To be sure, there's much in Politi's analysis open to debate.

For the full text of Allen's review of Politi's book visit John L Allen Jr's blog "All Things Catholic"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Message from Archbishop Dolan

A Special Advent Message from Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan from St. Patrick's Cathedral on Vimeo.

President Nominates Catholic Air Force Chaplain Richard Erikson for Promotion

Photo cutline below
President Nominates Catholic Air Force Chaplain Richard Erikson for Promotion
Promotion from Colonel to Brigadier General awaits U.S. Senate confirmation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Air Force (USAF) Reserve announced this week that Father Richard M. Erikson, a USAF colonel and Catholic military chaplain, has been selected for promotion to the rank of Brigadier General. President Obama officially nominated Father Erikson for the promotion, and has submitted the nomination to the U.S. Senate for confirmation.
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, expressed his congratulations to Father Erikson.
Archbishop Broglio said:
I am very pleased to learn about Father Erickson’s selection. His service to the Air Force Chaplaincy has always been greatly appreciated and I know that he will continue to offer excellent leadership to those he is now called to serve in this Reserve capacity. On behalf of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, I offer him heartfelt congratulations and the assurance of our prayers.”
Upon hearing of his nomination for promotion, Father Erikson said:
“I am deeply honored by this nomination and deeply grateful for Archbishop Broglio’s support and leadership over the years. I am looking forward to serving our troops, families and Chaplain Corps in this capacity.”
Father (Colonel) Erikson currently serves as the mobilization assistant to the Air Force Deputy Chief of Chaplains, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He is principal advisor to the Deputy Chief of Chaplains for training, readiness and sourcing the Air Force Reserve Chaplain Corps. He assists in developing the Chaplain Corps Strategic Plan, Total Force Policy, and strategic planning objectives. He assists the mobilization assistant to the Chief of Chaplains in coordinating Air Force Reserve matters. Father Erikson serves as advisor to the Armed Forces Chaplains Board. He is a member of the Reserve Chaplain Corps Council and the Air Force Reserve Chaplain Development Team.
Father Erikson was commissioned a second lieutenant on June 10, 1982. He has served 29 years in the Air Force Reserve including seven years as an active duty chaplain. His previous assignment was an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) to the Command Chaplain, Air Force Reserve Command, Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

In his civilian position, Father Erikson served five years as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Boston (2006-2011). He recently completed a sabbatical program at the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the North American College in Vatican City, Italy.
Father Erikson was ordained a Catholic priest on June 8, 1985. He is author of Late Have I Loved Thee: Stories of Religious Conversion and Commitment in Later Life (Paulist Press, 1995; St. Paul's Press, 1998). He is an avid lover of music and has compiled, produced and published liner notes in more than a dozen compact discs. He deployed to Balad, Iraq from July to September 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Photo Cutline: Father (Colonel) Richard M. Erikson, USAF, nominated for promotion to Brigadier General.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Protest against 'blasphemous' play in Paris": Who decides who is "a fundamentalist Catholic"?

"Two men reported to have links to fundamentalist Catholic groups were arrested at the weekend while attempting to disable the theatre's security system."

Catholics protest against 'blasphemous' play in Paris
The Théâtre du Rond-Point's staging of Golgota Picnic is the latest target in a wave of demonstrations across France
    Protest against Golgota Picnic
    An earlier French protest against Golgota Picnic in November by fundamentalist Christians in Toulouse. Photograph: Remy Gabalda/AFP

    One of Paris's most prestigious theatres was being protected by riot police and guard-dog patrols on Thursday after it became the latest target in a wave of Catholic protests across France against so-called "blasphemous" plays.

    The head of the Théâtre du Rond-Point on the Champs-Elysées complained of death threats in the runup to Thursday's premiere of the play Golgota Picnic by the Madrid-based, Argentinian writer Rodrigo García. Two men reported to have links to fundamentalist Catholic groups were arrested at the weekend while attempting to disable the theatre's security system.

    Several Catholic groups have called for peaceful demonstrations, prayer-vigils and the laying down of white flowers outside the building every night the play is shown, while the archbishop of Paris will lead protest prayers against the play at Notre Dame Cathedral.

    The demonstrations over Golgota Picnic come after a rise in fundamentalist religious protest action against some of France's most high-profile theatres, including pelting the audience with eggs, letting off stinkbombs and the invasion of the stage of Paris's esteemed Théâtre de la Ville mid-performance by outraged Catholics carrying banners reading "Stop Christianophobia".

    Earlier this year, young French fundamentalist Catholics staged an unprecedented attack on a gallery in Avignon, slashing photographs including Piss Christ by the New York artist Andres Serrano. More peaceful Catholic protests outside theatres, including young people kneeling with wooden crosses outside venues from Lille to Toulouse, have led the French culture pages to question the rise in rightwing and nationalist feeling among hardline Christian groups.

    Paris remains sensitive about Christian demonstrations since the fire-bombing of a cinema showing Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988. Political commentators have speculated that some traditionalist Catholics in the demonstrations had broken off from the Front National after the leadership was taken over by Jean-Marie Le Pen's daughter Marine.

    Golgota Picnic, which takes place on a stage strewn with burger buns, has several religious references including readings and a crucifixion scene. But Paris theatre critics said it was absurd to call it anti-Catholic or blasphemous and questioned whether its religious critics had actually seen it.

    Yet in a move that went further than the recent protests over Théâtre de la Ville's staging of On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God by the Italian Romeo Castellucci, Paris's archbishop, André Vingt-Trois, deemed Golgota Picnic, which he had not seen, "deliberately offensive" and said he would lead a protest prayer at Notre Dame.

    Jean-Michel Ribes, head of the Théâtre de Rond-Point, appealed for calm. He said: "The Théâtre du Rond-Point isn't an anti-Christian, anti-Muslim or anti-Jewish place." But he said the role of artists was to fight against "suffocating dogma". Theatregoers have been advised to arrive an hour early to get through the airport-style security before reaching their seats.

    Paris city hall's art supremos rushed to defend the theatre community against what it said was fundamentalists holding art to ransom, saying a "silent minority" of Catholics did not share the notion of making threats or stifling freedom of expression.

    Civitas, a lobby group that says it aims to re-Christianise France, has called for a large, peaceful street demonstration "against Christianophobia" this weekend.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jessica Stecklein in concert December 10 at Huntingtown MD

Join the Jesus the Divine Word

Parish Anniversary Celebration

Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus

December 10, 2011

Jessica Stecklein, soprano

6:15 p.m. Refreshments in Doran Hall
7:30 p.m. Christmas Concert in the Sanctuary
9:00 p.m. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

Please join us as we celebrate the
anniversary of the official forming of
Jesus the Divine Word Catholic
Church community.
We invite all adults and young adults
(high school age and above) to
participate in this special event.

COST: Donation (To benefit the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará)

DRESS: Holiday/Festive

RSVPs are appreciated: or 410-414-8304 x10

Thank you for visiting.


Kamsahamnida, Dziekuje, Terima kasih, Doh je, Grazie, Tesekur, Gracias, Dank u, Shukran

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