31 December 2011

Happy New Year!

31 DECEMBER 2011. May the peace of Christ, the Prince of Peace, through the Holy and Divine Will reigning in each of us, be with each of us now and throughout 2012, relying always on the love and intercession of our Lady, most chaste spouse of the Holy Spirit and the vessel of our Salvation, Jesus Christ.

"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus," our hope in the new year.

25 December 2011

Prayer for Peace at Christmas

25 DECEMBER 2011. In the news today are stories of bomb attacks at churches and Christians living in fear in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, even in the Holy Land--Bethlehem, Jersulaem, Nazareth. These are places where every believer--no matter their creed--has a patrimonial right to live and be in peace. Those who would deny peace to anyone in these places or anywhere--on the basis of some faith system, indeed misuse the very notion of faith and religion. Religion is not hatred. Religion is not destruction. Religion is not violence. Religion is not enmity. These are human things, brought about by sin: our sin; our selfishness; our desire to make the world what we want it to be, driven by false pride and conceit.

So, please pray for Christians and all those who struggle for peace throughout the world, especially in Iraq, the Middle East, Sudan, Afganistan, Pakistan, any everywhere that conflict finds a home. Pray that by the power of God, all conflict may be rooted out and destroyed by the power of God's love, joy, peace, and grace, which overcomes all that opposes it.

Everywhere that Muslims and Christians live, there can be peace. Pray that it may be so!

Let us pray:
God of heavenly light, Father of your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin
to bring Good News to the World,
our world is so greatly in need of Your peace.
Fill the hearts of all men and women with Your love, 
poured out on us so abundantly,
place within us all, through the gracious gift
of sanctifying grace, your joy, love, and peace,
so that each of us may receive You
willingly and lovingly into our hearts.
May your Holy and Divine Will reign here, as in heaven;
And, may our world be peace-filled this Christmas season,
and always.

Amen.

24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

For to us a Child is born, to our race a Son is given;
His shoulders will bear the scepter of his reign, and
his name shall be called:
Counselor of marvelous deeds, Mighty Warrior of
God, everlasting Father of
nations, and royal Prince of Peace.

Christmas Season antiphon from the LOTH, Vol. I, p. 385.

10 December 2011

GO NAVY


BEAT ARMY!
Bishop Kenny High School NJROTC, C/LTJG, class of '91

et alia

10 DECEMBER 2011. There is a bustle in the air, but I don't feel compulsion to move with the crowds. There is a buzz of excitement, but the feeling eludes me. There is an anxious and noisy anticipation, but all I seek is quiet.

The season of Advent is upon us again. As the world around us focuses on an X-mas celebration that is, at its commercial heart, based upon a perceived joy--so go the advertisements--of giving and receiving material things. However, we are called, apart from the worldly sirens, to prepare ourselves quietly for the joy of the Nativity of the Lord--a holy and quiet Christmas.

I pray that this Advent season is a good one for all readers.

I am overjoyed by the use of new translation of the Roman Missal. It brings a richness and beauty to the language of the mass that I have often times over the years felt was missing. Thank you to all whose efforts made the new translation possible.

Please pray that the Holy See will soon provide the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee with a holy man to serve as our new bishop. Please also pray for the health and safe keeping of Bishop Ricard, our bishop emeritus.

As always, I will pray for you, please pray for me and my family.

Pax Christi!

08 November 2011

Anniversary of All Decased Dominican Brothers and Sisters

8 NOVEMBER 2011. On this date the Dominican Order commemorates all of the deceased brothers and sisters of the Order who, having completed the task of this life, have been born into eternity as children of our Holy Father Dominic, marked with the sign of faith. From today's Office of Readings in the Dominican Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours, we read the following:
From the writings of our brother, Pierre Andre Liege.

"To die together with Christ."

Our faith in the sacrifice and death of Christ proclaims this event as the fountain and gate of all things which, in our life, take the form of sacrifice and renunciation. For does not the Living God, through the cross of Jesus, reveal a God who turns death, as well as the other evils and calamities in our life, into a living hope? Did not Jesus in his own sacrifice fully restore the relationships of humanity to God by accepting the ultimate spiritual agony?

To die together with Christ is to be bound over to the following of him, eagerly persisting in this very hope and in spiritual combat. Indeed, through spiritual combat we are freed together with Christ when for the love of God and of one another we expend ourselves, no matter what the cost, in opposing whatever falsehood or injustice, danger or violence, hatred or the plotting of the powerful, or fear that may stand in the way. In hope, however, we are bound over to Christ when from the depths of our death, or of our own hopelessness of weaknesses, or of the unbelief or hopelessness of others — all those things utterly blameworthy in our life — we entrust ourselves completely to the care of the Living God.

The paschal mystery shines forth in all renunciations whatsoever to which we give our consent, or in the frustrations we endure, or in the control we exercise over ourselves or in the discipline to which we subject ourselves. We are not speaking here of a certain kind of stoic wisdom or of a certain moral asceticism. Indeed, that life already renewed with Christ flows into the "dying with Christ." That life transforms our combat and our poverty; that life calls forth our sacrifice and our decision. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.

To die in Christ is to conquer the apathy of existence, to put aside greed, to abstain from fickleness, to dismiss levity of mind, to reject what is useless and what is done for appearances' sake, and to choose the gospel with sincerity and faithfully cling to it.

To die with Christ is to free oneself from riches and human glory, and to moderate one's life for the kingdom of God.

To die with Christ is to accept the risk of human love which demands the denial of self, or to accept the danger of witnessing to truth and justice before others, or to experience the difficulty of holding steadfastly to the faith one has received.

To die with Christ concerns those things which in our daily lives are austerities, or to sustain difficulties and accept change which brings about the renewal of fidelity.

To die with Christ is to accept one's own death as a sacrifice and a trusting burying of self in God, and also to accept in hope the deaths of our brothers, sisters and friends.

To die with Christ is to bear with a serene spirit the process of aging, the rejections, the losses - even in apostolic labors.

To die with Christ is to be freed from egoism and self absorption through the various incentives to love, to share, to sympathize with and to be reconciled with others.

To die with Christ is to experience at times the darkness of faith and courageously to endure it.

So in every Christian life pursed with earnestness there are many occasions for self-denial and sacrifice even of what is necessary. Yet we must beware lest these occasions become merely routine actions. To everyone according to their own circumstances, or the time in which they live, or the vocation they have received, the Holy Spirit at the appropriate time makes a fitting appeal that each may hear. This happens more certainly in peace and joy than in external disturbances or in the excitement of the soul.

Truly the celebration of the Eucharist is by no means present where Christ, who shares his paschal sacrifice with believers who are joined together, does not assume to himself everything that in their life of sacrifice and evangelical self-denial gives that life its character. Indeed, everything must be changed into the fruit of life by the power of his resurrection. Is not this our way of celebrating the Eucharist?
 IMAGE: Friars praying at the Dominican cemetery in Washington, D,C., November 8, 2007.

07 November 2011

Feast of All Saints of the Dominican Order

7 NOVEMBER 2011. Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints of the Order of Preachers.

Saint Dominic has left us a legacy of teaching and preaching by word and by the example of our lives. It is, then, joyous and encouraging that so many of our Dominican brothers and sisters have been beatified and canonized by our Mother Church.

In A.D. 1670 the Master General of the Order, Juan Tomas Rocaberti, sought and obtained permission from the Holy See for the Order of Preachers to observe a feast in honor of all the saints of the order: friars, brothers, sisters, nuns, and laity, including many, many blesseds.

Relying necessarily on the favor of their intercessions and the prayers of the Blessed Virgin, let us pray:

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the heavenly Father
have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world
have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit
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.
All you holy angels and archangels
pray for us.
All you holy Patriarchs and Prophets
pray for us.
All you holy Apostles and Evangelists
pray for us.
All you holy martyrs
pray for us.
All you holy virgins and widows
pray for us.
All you holy men and women
pray for us.

Saint Michael
pray for us.
Saint Gabriel
pray for us.
Saint Raphael
pray for us.
Saint Joseph
pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist
pray for us.
Saint Mary Magdalen
pray for us.
Holy Father Augustine
pray for us.
Holy Father Francis
pray for us.
Blessed Jane of Aza
pray for us.
Blessed Reginald
pray for us.

Holy Father Dominic
pray for us.
Holy Father Dominic
pray for us.

Blessed Bertrand
pray for us.
Blessed Mannes
pray for us.
Blessed Diana
pray for us.
Blessed Jordan of Saxony
pray for us.
Blessed John of Salerno
pray for us.
Blessed William and Companions
pray for us.
Blessed Ceslaus
pray for us.
Blessed Isnard
pray for us.
Blessed Guala
pray for us.
Blessed Peter Gonzalez
pray for us.
Saint Zdislava
pray for us.
Saint Peter of Verona
pray for us.
Blessed Nicholas
pray for us.
Saint Hyacinth
pray for us.
Blessed Gonsalvo
pray for us.
Blessed Sadoc and Companions
pray for us.
Blessed Giles
pray for us.
Saint Margaret of Hungary
pray for us.
Blessed Batholomew of Vincenza
pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
pray for us.
Saint Raymond of Penyafort
pray for us.
Blessed Innocent V
pray for us.
Blessed Albert of Bergamo
pray for us.
Saint Albert the Great
pray for us.
Blessed John of Vercelli
pray for us.
Blessed Ambrose
pray for us.
Blessed Cecilia
pray for us.
Blessed Benvenuta
pray for us.
Blessed James of Varazze
pray for us.
Blessed James of Bevagna
pray for us.
Blessed Benedict XI
pray for us.
Blessed Jane of Orvieto
pray for us.
Blessed Jordan of Pisa
pray for us.
Saint Emily
pray for us.
Blessed James Salomonio
pray for us.
Saint Agnes of Montepulciano
pray for us.
Blessed Simon
pray for us.
Blessed Margaret of Castello
pray for us.
Blessed Augustine Kazotic
pray for us.
Blessed James Benefatti
pray for us.
Blessed Imelda
pray for us.
Blessed Dalmatius
pray for us.
Blessed Margaret Ebner
pray for us.
Blessed Villana
pray for us.
Blessed Peter Ruffia
pray for us.
Blessed Henry
pray for us.
Blessed Sibyllina
pray for us.
Blessed Anthony of Pavonio
pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Siena
pray for us.
Blessed Marcolino
pray for us.
Blessed Raymond of Capua
pray for us.
Blessed Andrew Franchi
pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer
pray for us.
Blessed Clara
pray for us.
Blessed John Dominic
pray for us.
Blessed Alvarez
pray for us.
Blessed Maria
pray for us.
Blessed Peter of Castello
pray for us.
Blessed Andrew Abellon
pray for us.
Blessed Stephen
pray for us.
Blessed Peter Geremia
pray for us.
Blessed John of Fiesole
pray for us.
Blessed Lawrence of Ripafratta
pray for us.
Blessed Anthony della Chiesa
pray for us.
Saint Antoninus
pray for us.
Blessed Anthony Neyrot
pray for us.
Blessed Margaret of Savoy
pray for us.
Blessed Bartholomew of Cerverio
pray for us.
Blessed Matthew
pray for us.
Blessed Constantius
pray for us.
Blessed Christopher
pray for us.
Blessed Damian
pray for us.
Blessed Andrew of Peschiera
pray for us.
Blessed Bernard
pray for us.
Blessed Jane of Portugal
pray for us.
Blessed James of Ulm
pray for us.
Blessed Augustine of Biella
pray for us.
Blessed Aimo
pray for us.
Blessed Sebastian
pray for us.
Blessed Mark
pray for us.
Blessed Columba
pray for us.
Blessed Magdalen
pray for us.
Blessed Osanna of Mantua
pray for us.
Blessed John Liccio
pray for us.
Blessed Dominic Spadafora
pray for us.
Blessed Stephana
pray for us.
Saint Adrian
pray for us.
Blessed Lucy
pray for us.
Blessed Catherine Racconigi
pray for us.
Blessed Osanna of Kotor
pray for us.
Saint Pius V
pray for us.
Saint John of Cologne
pray for us.
Blessed Maria Bartholomew
pray for us.
Saint Louis Bertrand
pray for us.
Saint Catherine de Ricci
pray for us.
Blessed Robert
pray for us.
Blessed Alphonsus and Companions
pray for us.
Saint Rose
pray for us.
Saint Dominic Ibanez and Companions
pray for us.
Blessed Agnes of Jesus
pray for us.
Saint Lawrence Ruiz and Companions
pray for us.
Saint Martin de Porres
pray for us.
Blessed Peter Higgins
pray for us.
Blessed Francis de Capillas
pray for us.
Saint Juan Macias
pray for us.
Blessed Terence
pray for us.
Blessed Ann of the Angels
pray for us.
Blessed Francis de Posadas
pray for us.
Saint Louis de Montfort
pray for us.
Blessed Francis Gil
pray for us.
Saint Matteo
pray for us.
Blessed Peter Sanz and Companions
pray for us.
Saint Vincent Liem
pray for us.
Saint Hyacinth Castaneda
pray for us.
Blessed Marie
pray for us.
Blessed George
pray for us.
Blessed Catherine Jarrige
pray for us.
Saint Ignatius and Companions
pray for us.
Saint Dominic An-Kham and Companions
pray for us.
Saint Joseph Khang and Companions
pray for us.
Saint Francis Coll
pray for us.
Blessed Hyacinthe Cormier
pray for us.
Blessed Pier Giorgio
pray for us.
Blessed Bartolo
pray for us.
Blessed Michael Czartoryski
pray for us.
Blessed Julia Rodzinska
pray for us.
All holy Dominican brothers and sisters
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.

Let us pray.--
God, source of all holiness, you have enriched your Church
with many gifts in the saints of the Order of Preachers.
By following the example of our brothers and sisters,
may we come to enjoy their company
for ever in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Your Son, who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

05 November 2011

Blessed Simon Ballacchi

5 NOVEMBER 2011. Today the Order of Preachers celebrates Blessed Simon Ballacchi, an Italian co-operator brother. His earlier profile by A.S. is here.

Blessed Simon Ballacchi, pray for us!

Saint Elizabeth

5 NOVEMBER 2011. Today is the feast day of Saint Elizabeth, the mother of Saint John the Baptist, and famously recorded to sing praise to Mary, our Queen. Elizabeth, a name taken by many saints, in Hebrew means "worshiper of God."

All that we know of Saint Elizabeth comes from Saint Luke. The Gospel of Saint Luke tells us that Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron the high priest (Lk 1, 5-1), and that she and her husband, Zachariah, were "righteous in the eyes of God, observing all commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly," (Lk 1, 6) but were also childless and advanced in age. However, while serving as a priest in the sanctuary of the temple, Zachariah was visited by Saint Gabriel the archangel, who said to him:
Do not be afraid Zachariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of [the] Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
(Lk 1, 13-16) Zachariah, however, questioned Saint Gabriel, asking how any of this could be possible since both he and his wife were advanced in years. The angel of the Lord then identified himself as Saint Gabriel and reproved Zachariah for his doubt:
I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak  to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.
(Lk 1, 19-20) When Zachariah emerged from the sanctuary he was unable to speak and those in the temple knew that he had seen a vision. After Zachariah's days of service in the temple were completed he returned home and Elizabeth conceived a child.
After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months saying, "So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others."
Saint Luke's account continues as Saint Gabriel the Archangel is next sent to the Virgin Mary, the cousin of Elizabeth, who was betrothed to a man named Joesph of the house of David. Saint Gabriel brings the joy and presence of the Annunciation to Mary, revealing to her that the power of the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and that she would conceive son, who would be called Jesus, the son of God. (Lk 1, 28-35). Saint Gabriel also delivers the good news of Elizabeth: that she was in her sixth month, having conceived a son in her old age, "for nothing will be impossible for God." (Lk 1, 37)

After the Annunciation, Mary travels to the hill county to a town in Judah to greet Elizabeth:
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
(Lk 1, 41-45) There is nothing in Saint Luke's account that reveals for us that Saint Elizabeth has been told that Mary's child is the Christ, the saviour of the world. So, Saint Elizabeth, "filled with the Holy Spirit," receives the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ's presence, which is manifested for us by the leap of joy by Saint John the Baptist while still in Saint Elizabeth's womb.

Mary's response to the greeting of Elizabeth is recorded as the Magnificat. In Saint Luke's account, Mary reacts to Elizabeth's greeting as a servant would with a psalm of praise. Scholars believe that Saint Luke may have decided to include the Magnificat, an Jewish Christian hymn (with the exception of verse 48), at this point in the story of Mary as appropriately reflecting the themses of the Gospel, shown in Mary and Saint Elizabeth: joy and exultation in the Lord, ; the lowly being singled out for God's favor; the reversal of human fortunes; and the fulfillment of Old Testament promises.

Saint Luke tells us that Mary remained with Saint Elizabeth about three months, then returned home.

Next in Saint Luke's account is the nativity of Saint John the Baptist:
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord has shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zachariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John." But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing to God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, "What, then, will this child be?" For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.

(Lk 1, 57-66) This is the last mention of Saint Elizabeth in the Gospels. She is not mentioned in any other chapter of the Bible. Saint Luke's account continues with the Canticle of Zachariah (Lk 1, 68-79) and ends with the statement that Saint John "grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel." (Lk 1, 80)

We have no other knowledge of Saint Elizabeth's life. Her life before the Gospel account; her age at death; when, where, and how she died are all historical details that have been lost the grains of time that pass away, as every living thing passes away. What we do possess, however, is Saint Luke's account of Saint Elizabeth's humble acknowledgment of Mary as the Mother of the Lord, and her depiction as the faith-filled and dutiful servant of the Lord, herself, as the mother of Saint John the Baptist: "the voice of one crying out in the desert." (Jn 1, 23)

Saint Elizabeth, mother of Saint John the Baptist, pray for us!

04 November 2011

Prayer to the Holy Spirit for Courage

Holy Spirit of God,
life sustaining force in our world,
please be with me now, in this hour of need,
united with me in my suffering,
as once You were so closely united to Christ on the cross.
Provide for me the gift of courage,
to face the imminent trials and difficulties that lay ahead,
and to to be steadfast in faith in our Lord.
As You are one with the Father and the Son,
I humbly beg this favor.

Amen.

03 November 2011

Saint Martin de Porres

3 NOVEMBER 2011. Today the Order of Preachers celebrates the Feast of Saint Martin de Porres.

From the Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers we find this about Saint Martin:
Martin de Pores was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579 of John, a Spanish nobleman, and Anna Velasquez, a freed slave. As a boy he studied medicine which later, as a member of the Order, he put to good use in helping the poor. Martin was received as a servant at the priory of the Holy Rosary in Lima where he was finally admitted to profession as a co-operator brother in 1603. In his life of prayer [ ] Martin was especially devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and to the passion of our Lord. He was noted for his care of the poor and the sick. He died at Lima on November 3, 1639.
During the homily given by Blessed Pope John XXIII on the occasion of Brother Martin's canonization, the Holy Father proclaimed the following:
The example of Martin's life is ample evidence that we can strive for holiness and salvation as Christ Jesus has shown us: first, by loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and second, by loving your neighbor as yourself.

When Martin had come to realize that Christ Jesus suffered for us and that he carried our sins on his body to the cross, he would meditate with remarkable ardor and affection about Christ on the cross. Whenever he would contemplate Christ's terrible torture he would be reduced to tears. He had an exceptional love for the great sacrament of the Eucharist and often spent long hours in prayer before the blessed sacrament. His desire was to receive the sacrament in communion as often as he could.

Saint Martin, always obedient and inspired by his divine teacher, dealt with his brothers with that profound love which comes from pure faith and humility of spirit. He loved men because he honestly looked on them as God's children and as his own brothers and sisters. Such was his humility that he loved them even more than himself and considered them to be better and more righteous than he was.

He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: 'Martin the Charitable.'"

The virtuous example and even the conversation of this saintly man exerted a powerful influence in drawing men to religion. It is remarkable how even today his influence can still come us toward the things of heaven.  Sad to say, not all of us understand these spiritual values as well as we should, nor do we give them a proper place in our lives. Many of us, in fact, strongly attracted by sin, may look upon these values as of little moment, even something of a nuisance, or we ignore them altogether. It is deeply rewarding for men striving for salvation to follow in Christ's footsteps and to obey God's commandments. If only everyone could learn this lesson from the example that Martin gave us.
Saint Martin de Porres is one of the saints that we Dominicans in the Southeast call upon daily; the Southern Province is officially named the Province of Saint Martin de Porres and takes Saint Martin as its patron saint.

Saint Martin de Porres, pray for us!

IMAGE: Image from the Province of Saint Martin de Porres website. Saint Martin is often shown with a broom and is sometimes affectionately referred to as a the Saint of the Broom because he believed all work to be sacred--offering honor and devotion to the Lord--no matter how menial.

02 November 2011

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

2 NOVEMBER 2011. Today is the day set aside by the Church to commemorate the memory of all the faithful departed and pray for the souls in purgatory--the cleansing flame by which the Love of God rids the soul of its earthly attachments in preparation for sharing eternity with the Lord; praising Him with all the company of angels and saints.

Prayer

O gentle Heart of Jesus,
ever present in the Blessed Sacrament,
ever consumed with burning love for the poor
captive souls in Purgatory,
have mercy on them.

Be not severe in Your judgments,
but let some drops of Your precious Blood
fall upon the devouring flames.

And, Merciful Saviour,
send your angels to conduct them
to a place of refreshment, light and peace.

Amen.

IMAGE:  All Souls Day, Jules Bastien-Lepage, 1882.

12 September 2011

O.P.!

12 SEPTEMBER 2011. With great joy and thanksgiving for the mercy and bountiful love of our Saviour, I am humbled to announce that the Order of Preachers has taken in this poor servant as a lay member through temporary profession made on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, 8 September 2011. Thanks be to God for His goodness!

15 August 2011

Solemnity of the Assumption

15 AUGUST 2011. O God, how we wish to follow the exemplar of our Blessed Mother!

08 August 2011

St. Dominic

8 AUGUST 2011. Today the Dominican family celebrates the solemnity of our holy father Saint Dominic. Having prayed the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer early this a.m. during my weekly opportunity for adoration, this quote (paraphrased here) keeps ringing in my mind:
He spoke only to God, or about God; and entreated others to do the same.
How often could it be said of us that we only speak to God or about God? How often does each of us entreat or encourage others to be so singularly focused in our discourse? How many distractions would each of us need to rid from our daily lives to focus on Christ?

Saint Dominic answered these questions with his very being: his life. It was said that he was cheerful and social during the day with his breathern, but spent the night in tears and in prayer in the chapel. So much so that it was scarcely known when he slept. Consider the intensity of effort that Saint Dominic put into his side of the relationship with Christ. Christ certainly has given us Himself, totally and completely. Saint Dominic responds with no less of himself.

I pray that each of us can muster this same response.

God is not calling us to reject the demands of our daily lives in favor of Him where those demands are legitimate calls for our time and attention. For example, no parent should abandon his or her child's welfare for prayer, but give care to children as an offering to Christ: as parents, we are called to love Christ by loving our children. Do think, however, about how much distraction we invite into our lives.

How much could we intensify our focus on Christ instead?

Saint Dominic pray for us!

31 July 2011

Servant of God Father Augustine Tolton

31 JULY 2011. Today is the last day of July and the Eighteenth Sunday in ordinary time. However, before we leave July let's reflect on one of the Church's courageous ministers from here in the United States.


Augustine Tolton was born into a slave family in Missouri on 1 April 1854. His father was Peter Paul Tolton and his mother was Martha Jane Chisley. The child's mother had been raised in the Catholic faith, so she named her newborn son after Saint Augustine of Hippo. The child was baptized in St. Peter's Catholic Church in Brush Creek, Missouri (about 12 miles outside of Hannibal, Missouri). The owner of the slave family (as repugnant as it is today to describe one as the owner of another, the description is, sadly, historically accurate) was Stephen Elliot. His wife, Susan Elliot, stood as Augustine's godmother for his baptism.

There are conflicting stories about whether Augustine's family ran away or were freed by the Elliots. In either event, however, history does tell that Peter Paul Totlton went to fight in the Union Army after the outbreak of the Civil War. Martha Jane took Augustine and his siblings, with the aid of sympathetic Union Soldiers and police, to Quincy Illinois.

After arriving in Quincy, Augustine with his mother and brother, took jobs working in a cigar factory. After his brother died at a young age, Augustine met Father Peter McGirr, an Irish-American priest who saw that Augustine attend St. Peter's parochial school during the winter months when the cigar factory was closed. Father McGirr's actions were controversial, however, as a number of parishoners objected to a black child attending school with white children. Despite the controversy Father McGirr was steadfast in seeing to Augustine's Catholic education.

Despite Father McGirr's support, Augustine was rejected by every American seminary to which he applied. So, instead, he attended St. Francis Solanus College in Quincy (now Quincy University) and, with Father McGirr's help, later attended The Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, where he became fluent in Italian and learned Latin and Greek. After graduation, Augustine Tolton was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 31 on Easter Sunday, 24 April 1886, at the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Having been trained as a missionary priest, Father Augustine expected to be sent to Africa, but he was instead sent back to the United States to serve the African American Catholic community in this country.

Returning to the United States, Father Augustine celebrated his first public mass at St. Boniface Church in Quincy. He attempted to start an African American parish in Quincy, but he faced strong opposition from white Catholics, who were primarily of German descent, and African American protestants who did not want the new parish to attract people from their ranks. Despite opposition, Father Augustine organized St. Joseph Catholic Church and School in Quincy, although opposition continued from inside the Church as the priest in charge of the deanery in which St. Joseph was located wanted Father Augustine to turn away white people from mass and other services.

History records that many of Father Augustine's masses at St. Joseph were standing-room only. Father Augustine's tremendous character and well delivered homilies drew widespread attention to him and his parish. During this time Father Augustine also came to be known as Good Father Gus.

In A.D. 1887, Good Father Gus was reassigned to Chicago and a few of his Quincy parishioners followed him. In Chicago, Father Augustine led a a missionary society, St. Augustine's, which met in the basement of St. Mary's Church. And, with financial assistance from Saint Catherine Drexel he founded St. Monica's Catholic Church, the national parish for African American Catholics at the time, on the corner of 36th and Dearborn Streets on the South Side of Chicago.

The success and faithful fervor of St. Monica's earned Father Augustine the national attention and gratitude of the United States' catholic bishops. At its peak, St. Monica's has more than 600 active parishioners.

In A.D. 1893, at a young age, Father Augustine began to be plagued by "spells of illness" and collapsed and died during a heat wave on 9 July 1897 at the age of 43. Pursuant to his wishes, Father Augustine was buried in the priests' lot in St. Peter's cemetery in Quincy.

On 2 March 2010, Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, announced that he was beginning the diocesan investigation into the life of Father Augustine Tolton to begin the long process that could ultimately lead to Father Augustine's canonization. On 24 February 2011, the cause for Father Augsutine's canonization was officially opened. Thus, he now has the title of "Servant of God." A guild has been erected to promote Father Augustine's cause.

It is no doubt that Father Augustine Tolton must have faced much adversity and mistreatment because of the racial inequalities and prejudices that were prevalent in his time. Despite that, Father Tolton was not negative, but shone the joyous Light of Christ to the world as a missionary here in the United States, his own country. Please pray for Father Augustine's cause, and lift up your needs in confronting whatever adversity you face today to the power of Father Augustine's intercession.

Prayer

O God, we give you thanks for your servant and priest, Father Augustus Tolton, who labored among us in times of contradiction, times that were both beautiful and paradoxical. His ministry helped lay the foundation for a truly Catholic gathering in faith in our time. We stand in the shadow of his ministry. May his life continue to inspire us and imbue us with that confidence and hope that will forge a new evangelization for the Church we love.

Father in Heaven, Father Tolton’s suffering service sheds light upon our sorrows; we see them through the prism of your Son’s passion and death. If it be your Will, O God, glorify your servant, Father Tolton,  by granting the favor I now request through his intercession (mention your request) so that all may know the goodness of this priest whose memory looms large in the Church he loved.

Complete what you have begun in us that we might work for the fulfillment of your kingdom. Not to us the glory, but glory to you O God, through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are our God, living and reigning forever and ever.

Amen.

11 July 2011

Saint Benedict

11JULY 2011. Today is the memorial of Saint Benedict of Nursia, the founder of Western monasticism and famously the author of the Rule of Saint Benedict. From today's Office of Readings, we read a selection from St. Benedict's rule:
     Whenever you begin any good work you should first of all make a most pressing appeal to Christ our Lord to bring it to perfection; that he, who has honored us by counting us among his children, may never be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always serve him with the good things he has given us in such a way that he may never--as an angry father disinherits his sons or even like a master who inspires fear--grow impatient with our sins and consign us to everlasting punishment, like wicked servants who would not follow him to glory.

     So we should at long last rouse ourselves, prompted by the words of Scripture: Now is the time for us to rise from sleep. Our eyes should be open to the God-given light, and we should listen in wonderment to the message of the divine voice as it daily calls out: Today, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts; and again: If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. And what does the Spirit say? Come my sons, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Hurry, while you have the light of life, so that death's darkness may not overtake you.

     And the Lord as he seeks the one who will do his work among the throng of people to whom he makes that appeal, says again: Which of you wants to live to the full; who loves long life and the enjoyment of prosperity? And, if when you hear this you say, I do, God says to you: If you desire true and everlasting life, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceit; turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. And when you have done these things my eyes will be upon you and my ears will be attentive to your prayers; and before you call upon my name I shall say to you: Behold, I am here. What could be more delightful, dearest brothers, than the voice of our Lord's invitation to us? In his loving kindness he reveals to us the way of life.

     And so, girded with faith and the performance of good works, let us follow in his paths by the guidance of the Gospel; then we shall deserve to see him who has called us into his kingdom. I we wish to attain a dwelling-place in his kingdom we shall not reach it unless we hasten there by our good deeds.

     Just as there exists an evil fervor, a bitter spirit, which divides us from God and leads us to hell, so there is a good fervor which sets us apart from evil inclinations and leads us toward God and eternal life. Monks should put this fervor into practice with an overflowing love; that is, they should surpass each other in mutual esteem, accept their weaknesses, either in body or of behavior, with the utmost patience; and vie with each other in acceding to requests. No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another. They should display brotherly love in a chaste manner; fear God in a spirit of love; revere their abbot with a genuine and submissive affection. Let them put on Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life.
IMAGE: fresco by Fra Angelico (1395-1455).

08 July 2011

et alia

8 JULY 2011. The long absence of a functioning computer is over and A.S. is back on the air, so to speak. Word to the wise for parents out there, if your home computer suddenly stops working, and you have young children, make sure your young ones have not broken the on/off switch in the off position. I am just saying; it happens.

Running on at the keyboard:

My wife and I went to New Orleans for our tenth wedding anniversary. The crescent city is a hot place in June. I mean that literally: over a few days I do not think the mercury dropped below 89° F, even in th dead of night. The Archdiocese, however, believes in keeping the Basilica Cathedral like an ice box. We went to mass on Sunday morning at the Cathedral and then across Jackson Square to Café du Monde for coffee and beignets. A real treat!

The celebrant for the mass we attended was Auxiliary Bishop Fabre on Trinity Sunday. Bishop Fabre gave a tremendous homily that very eloquently described the interior life of God in the Holy Spirit and the relational nature of God - one to himself - and one to humanity.

Please pray for Father (once) John Corapi. Whatever peril his soul may be in is, indeed, a peril that could visit any of us.

The dog days of summer are certainly upon us, and it is this time of year in the Church calendar that I probably treasure the most. In a way, we are in the desert of the calendar, with a long many weeks of Ordinary Time ahead of us until the eventual coming of Advent. In this desert we have the opportunity to seek ever greater spiritual nourishment from the Church by perseverance.

I continue to pray for the health of our bishop emeritus, John Ricard, and ask that you pray for him as well. I understand he has settled in at the St. Joseph's Seminary in Washington D.C.

I am a lawyer and I live in Florida, so the recent question du jour has been "What do you think of the Casey Anthony verdict?" My prayers go out to all the victims of the case. Certainly first and foremost to the poor child who obviously suffered and died at the hands of another. I pray for her soul and that she is at rest with our Lord. I pray too for all the other victims of the entire ordeal. Certainly that family has been traumatized and injured in a way that time will not heal. I pray that the Holy Spirit will give them the grace to preserve and ultimately be healed. I pray too for Casey Anthony, may our Lord have mercy on her for her sins, no matter how heinous they may be. We are all sinners and in need of Christ's salvation, and the mercy of our God.

My prayers also go out to our Holy Father as he begins his summer period of rest at Castel Gandolfo. I pray that his time away from the Vatican will be restful and spiritually renewing. I also wish him well in his efforts on the third installment of his work on Jesus Christ. The Church is truly blessed and privileged by his pontificate.

Speaking of the Holy Father, did you see the pictures of him tweeting? How cool is that!


(I bet no one will break his on/off button!)

Today is the feast day of Blessed Adrian Fortescue. Blessed Adrian pray for us!

Please pray for me; I will pray for you.

04 June 2011

Technical Difficulties

4 JUNE 2011. Due to the death of my computer at home and a recent work schedule that has required 60+ hours each week for the last several weeks and likely several weeks yet to come, I will not be posting new material or updates until further notice.

As always, I will pray for readers. I ask that you please pray for me.

02 May 2011

A Christian never takes pleasure from the fact of a man's death

2 MAY 2011. This morning the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., released the following statement on the death of Osama Bin Laden:
Osama Bin Laden, as is known, claimed responsibility for grave acts that spread division and hate among the peoples, manipulating religion to that end. A Christian never takes pleasure from the fact of a man's death, but sees it as an opportunity to reflect on each person's responsibility, before God and humanity, and to hope and commit oneself to seeing that no event become another occasion to disseminate hate but rather to foster peace.
For Christians, the death of Osama Bin Laden is not an opportunity for rejoicing, but a reason to seriously consider the impact that we have on the world by the way in which we exercise our free will. That is why the call to unite ourselves in a new and divine holiness--often called for by Blessed John Paul II--is so desperately needed in our world. We truly need the Divine Will to crush our willfulness, to conform us perfectly to the will of God and to the will of Mary, whose own will was, through grace, perfectly conformed to the Divine Will.

Our Lady, Queen of the Divine Will, pray for us.

01 May 2011

John Paul II is blessed!

PAPAL MASS
ON THE OCCASION OF THE
BEATIFICATION OF THE SERVANT OF GOD JOHN PAUL II
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 1 May 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor’s entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s People showed their veneration for him. For this reason, with all due respect for the Church’s canonical norms, I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!

I would like to offer a cordial greeting to all of you who on this happy occasion have come in such great numbers to Rome from all over the world – cardinals, patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches, brother bishops and priests, official delegations, ambassadors and civil authorities, consecrated men and women and lay faithful, and I extend that greeting to all those who join us by radio and television.

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, which Blessed John Paul II entitled Divine Mercy Sunday. The date was chosen for today’s celebration because, in God’s providence, my predecessor died on the vigil of this feast. Today is also the first day of May, Mary’s month, and the liturgical memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker. All these elements serve to enrich our prayer, they help us in our pilgrimage through time and space; but in heaven a very different celebration is taking place among the angels and saints! Even so, God is but one, and one too is Christ the Lord, who like a bridge joins earth to heaven. At this moment we feel closer than ever, sharing as it were in the liturgy of heaven.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29). In today’s Gospel Jesus proclaims this beatitude: the beatitude of faith. For us, it is particularly striking because we are gathered to celebrate a beatification, but even more so because today the one proclaimed blessed is a Pope, a Successor of Peter, one who was called to confirm his brethren in the faith. John Paul II is blessed because of his faith, a strong, generous and apostolic faith. We think at once of another beatitude: “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven” (Mt 16:17). What did our heavenly Father reveal to Simon? That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of this faith, Simon becomes Peter, the rock on which Jesus can build his Church. The eternal beatitude of John Paul II, which today the Church rejoices to proclaim, is wholly contained in these sayings of Jesus: “Blessed are you, Simon” and “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!” It is the beatitude of faith, which John Paul II also received as a gift from God the Father for the building up of Christ’s Church.

Our thoughts turn to yet another beatitude, one which appears in the Gospel before all others. It is the beatitude of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary, who had just conceived Jesus, was told by Saint Elizabeth: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Lk 1:45). The beatitude of faith has its model in Mary, and all of us rejoice that the beatification of John Paul II takes place on this first day of the month of Mary, beneath the maternal gaze of the one who by her faith sustained the faith of the Apostles and constantly sustains the faith of their successors, especially those called to occupy the Chair of Peter. Mary does not appear in the accounts of Christ’s resurrection, yet hers is, as it were, a continual, hidden presence: she is the Mother to whom Jesus entrusted each of his disciples and the entire community. In particular we can see how Saint John and Saint Luke record the powerful, maternal presence of Mary in the passages preceding those read in today’s Gospel and first reading. In the account of Jesus’ death, Mary appears at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25), and at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles she is seen in the midst of the disciples gathered in prayer in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14).

Today’s second reading also speaks to us of faith. Saint Peter himself, filled with spiritual enthusiasm, points out to the newly-baptized the reason for their hope and their joy. I like to think how in this passage, at the beginning of his First Letter, Peter does not use language of exhortation; instead, he states a fact. He writes: “you rejoice”, and he adds: “you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:6, 8-9). All these verbs are in the indicative, because a new reality has come about in Christ’s resurrection, a reality to which faith opens the door. “This is the Lord’s doing”, says the Psalm (118:23), and “it is marvelous in our eyes”, the eyes of faith.


Dear brothers and sisters, today our eyes behold, in the full spiritual light of the risen Christ, the beloved and revered figure of John Paul II. Today his name is added to the host of those whom he proclaimed saints and blesseds during the almost twenty-seven years of his pontificate, thereby forcefully emphasizing the universal vocation to the heights of the Christian life, to holiness, taught by the conciliar Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium. All of us, as members of the people of God – bishops, priests, deacons, laity, men and women religious – are making our pilgrim way to the heavenly homeland where the Virgin Mary has preceded us, associated as she was in a unique and perfect way to the mystery of Christ and the Church. Karol Wojtyła took part in the Second Vatican Council, first as an auxiliary Bishop and then as Archbishop of Kraków. He was fully aware that the Council’s decision to devote the last chapter of its Constitution on the Church to Mary meant that the Mother of the Redeemer is held up as an image and model of holiness for every Christian and for the entire Church. This was the theological vision which Blessed John Paul II discovered as a young man and subsequently maintained and deepened throughout his life. A vision which is expressed in the scriptural image of the crucified Christ with Mary, his Mother, at his side. This icon from the Gospel of John (19:25-27) was taken up in the episcopal and later the papal coat-of-arms of Karol Wojtyła: a golden cross with the letter “M” on the lower right and the motto “Totus tuus”, drawn from the well-known words of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort in which Karol Wojtyła found a guiding light for his life: “Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria – I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart” (Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 266).

In his Testament, the new Blessed wrote: “When, on 16 October 1978, the Conclave of Cardinals chose John Paul II, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, said to me: ‘The task of the new Pope will be to lead the Church into the Third Millennium’”. And the Pope added: “I would like once again to express my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of the Second Vatican Council, to which, together with the whole Church – and especially with the whole episcopate – I feel indebted. I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this Council of the twentieth century has lavished upon us. As a Bishop who took part in the Council from the first to the last day, I desire to entrust this great patrimony to all who are and will be called in the future to put it into practice. For my part, I thank the Eternal Shepherd, who has enabled me to serve this very great cause in the course of all the years of my Pontificate”. And what is this “cause”? It is the same one that John Paul II presented during his first solemn Mass in Saint Peter’s Square in the unforgettable words: “Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!” What the newly-elected Pope asked of everyone, he was himself the first to do: society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan – a strength which came to him from God – a tide which appeared irreversible. By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty. To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man. This was the theme of his first encyclical, and the thread which runs though all the others.

When Karol Wojtyła ascended to the throne of Peter, he brought with him a deep understanding of the difference between Marxism and Christianity, based on their respective visions of man. This was his message: man is the way of the Church, and Christ is the way of man. With this message, which is the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council and of its “helmsman”, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, John Paul II led the People of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call “the threshold of hope”. Throughout the long journey of preparation for the great Jubilee he directed Christianity once again to the future, the future of God, which transcends history while nonetheless directly affecting it. He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress. He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an “Advent” spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace.

Finally, on a more personal note, I would like to thank God for the gift of having worked for many years with Blessed Pope John Paul II. I had known him earlier and had esteemed him, but for twenty-three years, beginning in 1982 after he called me to Rome to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was at his side and came to revere him all the more. My own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and by the richness of his insights. His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. Then too, there was his witness in suffering: the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a “rock”, as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Church.

Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God’s people. You often blessed us in this Square from the Apostolic Palace: Bless us, Holy Father! Amen.

IMAGES: Associated Press/Reuters.

Blessed John Paul II

(Biography of Blessed John Paul II read today at his beatification by Cardinal Agostino Vallini)

Karol Józef Wojtyla was born in the Polish town of Wadowice on 18 May 1920 to Karol and Emilia Kaczorowska. He was baptized on 20 June of that year in Wadowice's parish church.

The second of two children, the joy and serenity of his childhood was shaken by the premature death of his mother when Karol was nine (1929). Three years later, in 1932, his older brother Edmund also died and then in 1941, when he was 21, he also lost his father.

Brought up in a solid patriotic and religious tradition, he learned from his father, a deeply Christian man, piety and love for one's neighbor, which he nourished with constant prayer and participation in the sacraments.

The characteristics of his spirituality, to which he remained faithful until his death, were a sincere devotion to the Holy Spirit and love for the Madonna. His relationship with the Mother of God was particularly deep and vibrant, lived with the tenderness of a child who abandons himself to his mother's embrace and with the vigor of a gallant, always ready for his lady's command: "Do what my Son asks!" His complete trust in Mary, which as a bishop he expressed with the motto Totus tuus, also reveals his secret of looking at the world with the eyes of the Mother of God.

Young Karol's rich personality matured with the interweaving of his intellectual, moral, and spiritual gifts with the events of his day, which marked the history of his country and of Europe.

During the years of his secondary education, a passion for theater and poetry grew in him, which he cultivated in the theatrical group of the Faculty of Philology at Krakow's Jagiellonian University where he was enrolled during the 1938 academic year.

During the period of Nazi occupation of Poland, together with his studies that he carried on in secret, he spent four years (October 1940 to August 1944) working in the Solvay chemical factory, directly encountering the social problems of the working world and gathering the precious wealth of experience that he was able to draw upon in his future social teachings, first as Archbishop of Krakow and subsequently as Supreme Pontiff.

Throughout these years his inclination towards the priesthood developed, a path he furthered by attending clandestine courses in theology at the Seminary of Krakow from October of 1942. He was assisted greatly in recognizing his priestly vocation by a lay man, Jan Tyranowski, a true apostle of youth. From then on the young Karol had a clear understanding of the universal call to holiness of all Christians, and the fundamental role of the laity in the mission of the Church.

He received priestly ordination on 1 November 1946 and the day after, in the evocative atmosphere of the crypt of St. Leonard in the cathedral of Wawel, he celebrated his first Mass.

He was sent to Rome to complete his theological formation at the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), where he was immersed in the source of sound doctrine, having his first encounter with the vibrancy and richness of the Universal Church from the privileged position of life on the other side of the 'Iron Curtain'. At around this time he met with Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

After graduating with highest honors in June of 1948, he returned to Krakow to begin his pastoral duties as a parish vicar. He undertook his ministry with enthusiasm and generosity. After obtaining his university teaching qualification, he began teaching in the Faculty of Theology at the Jagiellonian University then, when that faculty was closed, in the diocesan Seminary of Krakow and the Catholic University of Lublin.

The years he spent in the company of young students enabled him to gain a profound understanding of the restlessness of their hearts and he young priest was a not only a teacher for them, but also a spiritual guide and friend.

At the age of 38 he was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Krakow. On 28 September 1958, he was ordained a bishop by Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak, whom he succeeded as archbishop of Krakow in 1964. He was created a cardinal by Pope Paul VI on 26 June 1967.

As bishop of the Diocese of Krakow, he was immediately appreciated as a man of robust and courageous faith, close to the people and aware of the real problems they faced.

He was an interlocutor capable of listening and of dialog without ever conceding to compromise. He affirmed to all the primacy of God and of Christ as the foundation for a true humanism and the source of inalienable human rights. Beloved by his priests and esteemed by his brother bishops, he was also feared by those who regarded him as an adversary.

On 16 October 1978 he was elected Bishop and Pontiff of Rome and took the name of John Paul II. His shepherd's heart, entirely given over to the cause of the Kingdom of God, was opened to the entire world. "Christ's love" led him to visit the parishes of Rome and to announce the Gospel in all places. It was the driving force for his innumerable apostolic visits to various continents, undertaken to confirm his Christian brothers and sisters in the faith, to comfort the afflicted and the discouraged, to bring the message of reconciliation between Christian faiths, and to build bridges of friendship between believers in the one God and all of good will.

His illustrious teachings focused on nothing other than proclaiming Christ,the sole Savior of humanity, always and everywhere.

In his extraordinary missionary zeal, he had a particular love for the young. He envisioned the World Youth Day gatherings with the objective of announcing Jesus Christ and his Gospel to the new generations in order to enable them to actively shape their future and to co-operate in building a better world.

His solicitude as universal Shepherd was demonstrated in the convocation of numerous assemblies of the Synods of Bishops, the erection of dioceses and ecclesiastical circumscriptions, in the promulgation of the Codes of Canon Law for the Latin and Eastern Churches and the catechism of the Catholic Church, and in the publication of encyclical letters and apostolic exhortations. In order to promote occasions for a more intense spiritual life for the People of God, he proclaimed the extraordinary Jubilee of Redemption, the Marian Year, the Year of the Eucharist,and the Great Jubilee of 2000.

John Paul II had lived through the tragic experience of two dictatorships, survived an assassination attempt on 13 May 1981 and, in his later years, suffered grave physical hardship due to the progression of his illness. However, his overwhelming optimism, based on his trust in divine Providence, drove him to constantly look to horizons of hope, inviting people to break down the walls between them, to brush aside passivity in order to attain the goals of spiritual, moral and material renewal.

He concluded his long and fruitful earthly existence in the Vatican Apostolic Palace on Saturday, 2 April 2005, the vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter (Dominica in Albis), which he entitled the Sunday of Divine Mercy. The funeral was held in St. Peter's Square on 8 April 2005.

A touching testimony of the good he brought about during his life was seen by the participation of delegations from all over the world and of millions of men and women, believers and non-believers alike, who recognized in him a clear sign of God's love for humanity.

Image: REUTERS/Max Rossi

24 April 2011

Alleluia! He is Risen

O Christ, our risen Lord,
have mercy on us Your Children.
Alleluia.

23 April 2011

Holy Saturday

23 APRIL 2011. Consider where we commemorate that Christ is today. He has descended to the dead. Today He is dwelling with the dead to lovingly search them out and call them forth to resurrection with Him in the glory of the heavenly host.

These lost sheep who had gone into the grave before Christ are the first for whom He searches. But, today He is searching for us also, lost by our own sin.Yet, still He calls us forth:
Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.
(the second reading from today's Office of Readings--"From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday")

Image: Hans Holbein, The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (1521).

19 April 2011

A Prayer to be Nothingness

O Lord, ever loving and faithful God,
help me to be little in your eyes,
and in the eyes of men.
May I shrink until there is nothing left of my will.
Take my willfulness and admonish it,
reduce it to nothingness, so that I may reside,
with Mary, the most chaste spouse of the Holy Spirit,
and Saint Joseph, her earthly husband, alone in the light
of Your Divine Will.

Our Father, may your Will reign in me as it does in heaven.
By grace may I be buried in the ocean of Your Will,
so that it is not my life, but Yours.
Not my living, but You living in me.
Not my my prayer, but Your prayer to the Holy Trinity in me.
Not my love, but Your love returned to You.
Not the glory You have given me,
as a creature created in your image and likeness,
but Your Glory returned to You in full.

May I be so little as to no longer count, but
to live only in You, dear Savior,
only-begotten Son of the Father Almighty.

In these last days of Lent, during this Holy Week,
as the Church struggles with anxieties of hope
for the coming celebration of Your Resurrection,
may this prayer be pleasing to You,
so that I may be nothing,
and, in my nothingness gain true servitude to You,
one, holy and true God.

Amen.

13 April 2011

Blessed Margaret of Castello

13 APRIL 2011. Today we commemorate Blessed Margaret of Castello, patron of the poor, crippled, and unwanted.

Prayer

Blessed Margaret,
unwanted by your parents and abandoned to the world,
you entrusted everything to God,
and prayerfully lived in loving service to others.
Help us by your prayers,
to also be so trusting of our Lord.
May we, by your holy intercession,
gain the freedom to truly open ourselves 
to the workings of the Divine Will,
to the supernal incarnation of our Eucharistic Lord in each of us.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

12 April 2011

New Feast Day and Prayer for Blessed John Paul II

12 APRIL 2011. To coincide with today's announcement from the Vatican that Blessed John Paul II's feast day will be celebrated on 22 October, the date that Cardinal Wojtyla became pope, Rome has also released a new collect to be said during the feast day and thanksgiving masses for Blessed John Paul II:

Prayer

O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that Blessed John Paul II
should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

Amen

21 March 2011

Prayer in Time of Need

O God help me!
Free me from this burden.
That, with your love alone supporting me,
I may ever seek and be united to your Divine Will.
But, not my request be answered--not my will be done,
but Yours. Yours alone.
Holy, living, and triune God.

Amen.

19 March 2011

Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

19 MARCH 2011. While the commemoration of saints during the season of lent is more limited than at other times of the liturgical year, today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Those attending mass today will notice that the Lenten staple of violet (purple) vestments of the priest and deacon have been replaced by white.

Historically this date has long been reserved for Saint Joseph. By the tenth century several Western calendars noted the date of March 19 as dedicated to the commemoration of the patron of families. By A.D. 1479 the commemoration of Saint Joseph's day was observed in Rome, and Pope Saint Pius V extended the feast to the entire Roman Rite on 14 July 1570.

Mention of Saint Joseph first appears in the Gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke, who trace Saint Joseph's Davidic lineage. However, the historical Joseph is a difficult figurer to pin down. Some traditions hold that he was an old widower who took Mary in as his wife to look after the young girl with child. Other traditions tell that Saint Joseph was probably about 18 or 19 years old when he was betrothed to Mary (She being about 15 or 16 years old). History, too, disputes Joseph's trade. While he is usually referred to today as a carpenter, the Gospel of Saint Matthew refers to Jesus as the son of a tekton--a general word that could be used to describe any maker of things. Some modern scholars thus cast Saint Joseph in the historical context of an itinerant worker-a more marginalized class of society--and other scholars believe that Saint Joseph may have been a skilled artisan and learned man. What does appear clear, however, is that Saint Joseph did not witness Jesus' public ministry. The last mention of the presence of Saint Joseph in the Gospels is Saint Luke's account of Joseph and Mary finding Jesus in the temple when he was about 12 years old. (Lk 2:41-51)

So, it appears that Saint Joseph died before the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. This is also historically supported by the fact that Joseph of Arimathea took charge of Jesus' body after His death on the cross--under Jewish custom this would have been Saint Joseph's charge--and the fact that Jesus, from the cross, entrusted Mary's care to Saint John, which would not have occurred if Saint Joseph had been alive. And, indeed, Catholic tradition tells that Saint Joseph died in the arms of Mary and Jesus.

However, what is most clear, regardless of Saint Joseph's age or trade, was that he was an essential element in the history of salvation--the necessary protector of Our Lady and the child Jesus at the moment of the Incarnation of the Word and afterwards. And, according to the writings of the great Pope Blessed John Paul II, it was Joseph's dedication to Christ, in the silent shroud of history, that truly shows the measure of the man:
The same aura of silence that envelops everything else about Joseph also shrouds his work as a carpenter in the house of Nazareth. It is, however, a silence that reveals in a special way the inner portrait of the man. The Gospels speak exclusively of what Joseph "did." Still, they allow us to discover in his "actions" - shrouded in silence as they are - an aura of deep contemplation. Joseph was in daily contact with the mystery "hidden from ages past," and which "dwelt" under his roof. This explains, for example, why St. Teresa of Jesus, the great reformer of the Carmelites, promoted the renewal of veneration to St. Joseph in Western Christianity.
The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah's coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life. It was from this interior life that "very singular commands and consolations came, bringing him also the logic and strength that belong to simple and clear souls, and giving him the power of making great decisions-such as the decision to put his liberty immediately at the disposition of the divine designs, to make over to them also his legitimate human calling, his conjugal happiness, to accept the conditions, the responsibility and the burden of a family, but, through an incomparable virginal love, to renounce that natural conjugal love that is the foundation and nourishment of the family.
This submission to God, this readiness of will to dedicate oneself to all that serves him, is really nothing less than that exercise of devotion which constitutes one expression of the virtue of religion.
The communion of life between Joseph and Jesus leads us to consider once again the mystery of the Incarnation, precisely in reference to the humanity of Jesus as the efficacious instrument of his divinity for the purpose of sanctifying man: "By virtue of his divinity, Christ's human actions were salvific for us, causing grace within us, either by merit or by a certain efficacy."
Among those actions, the gospel writers highlight those which have to do with the Paschal Mystery, but they also underscore the importance of physical contact with Jesus for healing (cf. for example, Mk 1:41), and the influence Jesus exercised upon John the Baptist when they were both in their mothers' wombs (cf. Lk 1:41-44).
As we have seen, the apostolic witness did not neglect the story of Jesus' birth, his circumcision, his presentation in the Temple, his flight into Egypt and his hidden life in Nazareth. It recognized the "mystery" of grace present in each of these saving "acts," inasmuch as they all share the same source of love: the divinity of Christ. If through Christ's humanity this love shone on all mankind, the first beneficiaries were undoubtedly those whom the divine will had most intimately associated with itself: Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Joseph, his presumed father.
Why should the "fatherly" love of Joseph not have had an influence upon the "filial" love of Jesus? And vice versa why should the "filial" love of Jesus not have had an influence upon the "fatherly" love of Joseph, thus leading to a further deepening of their unique relationship? Those souls most sensitive to the impulses of divine love have rightly seen in Joseph a brilliant example of the interior life.
(Pope Blessed John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, delivered 15 August 1989).

Prayer

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that by Saint Joseph’s intercession
your Church may constantly watch over
the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation,
whose beginnings you entrusted to his faithful care.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.