24 December 2013

One More Sleep
In the classic film The Muppet Christmas Carol, when Bob Cratchit (in a compelling portrayal by Kermit the Frog) is closing up Scrooge’s shop on Christmas Eve, he suddenly begins to sing, as is his wont. He sings about some things you might expect Kermit to sing about: magic in the air, people loving and caring, the world smiling. After all, as the refrain reminds us, “there’s only one more sleep ‘til Christmas.”

But I would like to bring attention to a line which is almost missed unless you’re paying close attention. Just before Mr. Cratchit comes upon the penguins’ Christmas skating party (excitedly crying out, “Oh! It’s the penguins’ Christmas skating party!”) he sings: “It’s a season when the saints can employ us / To spread the news about peace and to keep love alive.”

We may not often think of the saints when we think about Christmas, but maybe we should. After all, they’re celebrating Christmas too, and much more fittingly than we. How? Not by giving gifts to one another, but by praising God for his love, shown to us in the man Jesus Christ. And the saints employ us to do the same.

We hear a lot about peace around Christmastime. But peace is a big concept, the term is broad and vast. How can we fathom its real meaning? Luke’s Gospel offers some insight. After the angel proclaims to the shepherds the birth of the Savior,
suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (2:14)
The angel alone proclaims Christ’s birth, but is joined by a great multitude in praising God for it. The saints, upon entrance into the heavenly kingdom, join this worshiping multitude, singing that eternal song of peace.

And again, in the Psalms we read:
I will hear what the LORD God speaks;
he speaks of peace for his people and his faithful,
and those who turn their hearts to him.
His salvation is near for those who fear him,
and his glory will dwell in our land.
(Ps 85:9-10)
The Lord speaks of peace for his faithful, and the heavenly multitude, angels and saints alike, speak of peace among men with whom he is pleased. This proclaimed peace is the kingdom of God which is at hand for us; it is salvation; it is Christ.

Salvation is experienced after this earthly life is done—but we can begin even now, like the hungry traveler who, while still afar off, smells the great feast being prepared for his arrival home. We do this by faith, by turning our hearts to the Lord who now dwells among us. The Word made man is the cause and culmination of the peace of Christmas, which we experience by faith in the Incarnation.

After the lengthy interlude in which Bob Cratchit and his murine friends admire the expert skating of the penguins, he continues singing. Today we can join him, looking forward to tomorrow’s celebration of the divine peace brought to us in the Incarnation: “Yes, faith is in our hearts today / We’re shining like the sun . . . After all, there’s only one more sleep ‘til Christmas.”

Image: Still from ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’

18 December 2013

Saint Peter Faber

. Pope Francis recognized the sainthood of early Jesuit Peter Faber on Dec. 17 after holding a private audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The decision, “enrolling in the catalogue of Saints” one of the co-founders of the Society of Jesus, was announced through the Holy See press office. The announcement said the Pope had “extended to the Universal Church the liturgical cult in honor of Blessed Peter Faber.”
It was also announced that Pope Francis had authorized the congregation to acknowledge a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Maria Teresa Demjanovich, a sister of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, from New Jersey who died in 1927; the heroic virtues of Emmanuel Herranz Estables, a Spanish priest who died in 1968; and the heroic virtues of Giorgio Ciesielski, a Polish layman and father who died in 1970.
The means of St. Peter Faber's canonization is equivalent to that of St. Angela of Foligno, whom Pope Francis canonized Oct. 9. According Italian publication La Stampa, St. Angela's canonization diverged from the normal process involving the recognition of a second miracle attributed to the saint's intercession.
Such a canonization is done “when such a saint has been from a remote period the object of veneration, when his heroic virtues (or martyrdom) and miracles are related by reliable historians, and the fame of his miraculous intercession is uninterrupted,” La Stampa wrote.
St. Peter Faber was born in 1506, and studied at the University of Paris, where he met St. Ignatius Loyola and St Francis Xavier; the three went on to become the founders of the Society of Jesus. St. Peter Faber was ordained a priest in 1534, and served across Europe.
He died in 1546, and his relics are kept at the Church of the Gesu, the Jesuits' mother church in Rome. His feast has been kept Aug. 2, the anniversary of his death, by the Society of Jesus, and he was beatified in 1872 by Pius IX.
Pope Francis has referred to the new saint at least twice in his pontificate, both in his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium” and in his Sept. 30 interview with Jesuit publications.
In “Evangelii gaudium,” Pope Francis quoted the saint as saying “time is God's messenger,” making a point about the need for patience, an ability to listen, and docility to the Holy Spirit, in the process of drawing others closer to God.
In his Sept. 30 interview, the Pope cited St. Peter Faber as a Jesuit who had particularly affected him, saying he was moved by the priest's “dialogue with all, even the most remote and even with his opponents; his simple piety, a certain naïveté perhaps, his being available straightaway, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also capable of being so gentle and loving.”

07 December 2013

We are Dead in this World

We are dead in this world,
we the faithful, the chaste, the constant, the pure,
we who love Christ and His bride the Church,
we who long to see the face of God,
we who seek to live in holiness,
we who strive to be one with the Divine Will.
We are dead in this world.

We are dead in this world,
we the sinful and restless and faulty,
we the lost and the lame,
we the poor and broken and lonely,
we, who despite these maladies, search for God,
we who struggle and are weak in the face of God's grace.
We are dead in this world.

The world ignores us,
the world laughs at us, shows us scorn,
the world moves on in fascination with itself,
the world gives no concern for other worldly affairs,
the world is worldly,
worldliness is our enemy, the tool of satan who seeks the ruin of our souls.

How I pray that I can be dead,
how I pray that I can be faithful, chaste, constant, and pure,
how I pray that I can love Christ and His bride the Church,
how I pray that I may long to see the face of God,
how I pray that I may seek to live in holiness,
how I pray that I may strive to be one with the Divine Will,
how I pray that I can be dead.

Slay me O world, if you will, that I may live only for God!

19 November 2013

"under God . . ."

19 NOVEMBER 2013. One hundred fifty years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln stood before those gathered to mark the bloodiest earth in the great Civil War and to honor the fallen who had died in the struggle to preserve the Union. In Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, enduring a long two-hour oration before him, the President waited and finally delivered what we today know as the Gettysburg Address: a two minute, 272 word speech that today is widely regarded as the most sacred and treasured speech--in America's "religion" of democracy--that has been given to that moment or since.

From that day in November 1863, five hard copies of the speech survive and each of them has slight variations. The copy that is considered the "standard" is the one written in President Lincoln's own hand, titled, dated, and signed by him. It is known as the "Bliss copy" because it was prepared by the President for Colonel Alexander Bliss. The Bliss copy, among other distinctions, bears a phrase that the two earliest hard copies of the speech do not . . .
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
It is curious that the two earliest hard copies of the speech omit the phrase "under God." But, it is clear that President Lincoln's own hand prepared a later copy of the text with this phrase. He attached his signature to the text with this phrase. Clearly, President Lincoln wanted to include this phrase in the speech. And, contemporary newspaper accounts of the speech, which recounted the text of the speech exactly, also included this phrase.

Anyone who has given prepared speeches knows the exact wording of a speech is often times deviated from upon the podium. In fact, I would defy anyone with intellectual demand to write a speech, go over it again and again, and then deliver the speech with nary a deviation. The mind is constantly at work imagining the reaction of the audience, guiding the words to evoke the message just so, working through phrases to give just the right emphasis. Even more so for a political speech. Even more so for a moment in history as weighty as the commemoration of the battle at Gettysburg!

So, what of the phrase "under God?" President Obama, among other recent Presidents and celebrities, participating in a PBS sponsored montage of Ken Burns, a noted documentarian, was given a copy of the Gettysburg address to read that omits the phrase "under God." Apparently, only Mr. Obama read this version of the Gettysburg Address. However, today the White House press secretary rebuffed the omission as the choice of Ken Burns and not the President. (story here)

But, no matter who made the choice, the implication is clear. The culture of today is erasing God from our public life--even where historical account includes this most basic notation of faith.

Far from being "not a total failure," as President Lincoln later was known to have said about the Gettysburg Address, the speech is now seen as a unifying moment in American history. For, in the Gettysburg Address the scourge of our Civil War was elevated from a political dispute over state's rights and the role of the federal government to a moral imperative for the country to stand together for what is right: liberty, equality, and the democratic ideals of governance, "of the people, by the people, for the people . . . ." In this context, the speech unifies us all. But, this unity in our culture today has been twisted to mark division from those of faith.

In fact, the choice of the speech text for President Obama to record, his own choice or the choice of another, by omission of that crucial phraseology of faith--under God--pushes those of faith a inch further from the public sphere.

Don't let this happen. Pray for Mr. Obama. He and his office deserve respect and our prayers should always go with the President and all our leaders in government for the Lord to grant them wisdom and guidance.

Holy Spirit, please be upon them. May all in leadership of our country truly do your Holy Will, for the common good and the good of those most vulnerable. Amen.

But, speak out against this push of religion from the public sphere. Each of us has written on our hearts the yearning to know our creator. Each of us knows that one greater than ourselves is our author. This is not merely a private thought. This is who we are! Humanity cries to God for help! Pray too that our cries will not be stifled in our public dialogue.


01 November 2013

Solemnity of All Saints

1 NOVEMBER 2013. These pages have been long quiet and not frequently updated for most of this year. The year has been running ahead at a frantic pace: children, church, school, the office; everything has conspired against the scribe this year and the battle continues.

But, on the beautiful day, I stop and give thanks and implore the intercession of all the saints--those holy souls whom the Church offers us as heavenly brothers and sisters who have run well the race on earth and now enjoy the fruits of heaven: the beatific vision. As they are in the midst of God, the saints still pray for us, always pleading to God on our behalf.

For our household, St. Canice House, below is the litany of saints on whose intercession we rely for personal consolation and assistance:

Lord have mercy on us,
Lord have mercy on us.

Christ have mercy on us,
Christ have mercy on us.

Lord have mercy on us,
hear our prayer.

God the Father, provide for us.
God the Son, . . .
Holy Spirit, love of the Father and the Son . . . .

We praise you and adore You O Lord.

Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Divine Will, pray for us.
Saint Dominic, . . .
Saint Catherine of Sienna, . . .
Saint Thomas Aquinas, . . .
Saint Mary Magdalene, . . .
Saint John the Baptist, . . .
Saint Francis, . . .
Saint Clare of Assisi, . . .
Saint Joan of Arc, . . .
Saint Trason, . . .
Saint Gabiel the Archangel, . . .
Saint Canice, . . .
All you holy angels and saints, . . . .

Pray for us that we may always enjoy the presence of sanctifying grace, to offer ourselves more fully and more splendidly to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in all that we do and are. May the Divine Will live in our lives, breathe in our breath, think in our thoughts, love in our acts, spill into all of our being for the benefit of all whom the Lord loves.


15 August 2013

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

15 AUGUST 2013. The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This day we celebrate the height of humanity,
rescued from the world.
The promise of a loving God becomes a reality
for the first born among those
who dwell in the Divine Will by grace.
Death, its reign ended with the cross
and resurrection some time before,
loses its grip on the most favored of Israel's children.
She is our mother, given to us by her Son, the Redeemer.
She is our protectress,
who carries the cares and needs of others to Him.
Beginning with the feast at Cana,
she brings all her children and their needs to Him.
One with the Apostles,
present at Pentecost.
Awash in the Holy Spirit.
She proclaims her Son by her life of devotion to Him.
She proclaims her Son by her life of devotion to her children,
John and the others, entrusted to her by Him on the cross.
She awaits in hope to be reunited with Him after His ascension.
The Apostles, present at her death,
rejoice in the return of her to the Son.
For three days in the tomb, angels are heard singing.
The tomb is opened. The tomb is empty.
The assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

O Holy Mother, pray for us your children. We, the Order of Preachers, are claimed by you as your children. You have provided for us the model of Christian life: dedication to the truth of the salvation offered to the world by your Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. As you are the first born of just human estate to enjoy bodily unity with God in Glory; you show to us the promise of the Father, the gift of the Son, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, brought to fulfillment in the joy of eternity with the infinite, loving God, creator of all.


06 July 2013

Saints Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II

Yesterday, 5 JULY 2013, amid a number of other significant events at the Vatican, Holy Father Pope Francis received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, and authorized the Church's recognition of two of our Blessed Holy Fathers as Saints of the heavenly realm: Saint Pope John XXIII and Saint Pope John Paul II.

The faithful have yearned for the recognition of the great Pope John Paul II as a saint in the heavenly homeland since his death in 2005. Now, traveling forward only eight years through a process that can sometimes take a century or better, the Holy Father has confirmed a second miracle attributed the intercession of Blessed Pope John Paul II and approved the promulgation of the decree of his canonization. The Holy Father also yesterday convoked a special consistory of the College of Cardinals to discuss in depth the canonization of the great Pope.

Oft referred to as the Good Pope John, yesterday also saw the somewhat unusual movement of Pope John XIII from the ranks of Blessed to the altars of sainthood following Holy Father Pope Francis' approval the favorable votes of the Ordinary Session of the Congregations of Cardinals and Bishops regarding his cause for canonization. The Vatican spokesman, Father Lombardi, S.J., said yesterday that despite the absence of a second miracle that has been confirmed by the Church as attributable to Blessed Pope John XXIII's intercession, it was the will of Pope Francis that the "Sainthood of the great Pope of the Second Vatican Council be recognized."

Father Lombardi continued, noting that a canonization without a second confirmed miracle is nonetheless valid and that there is already an existing confirmed miracle that led to the Good Pope's beatification. Certainly, Father Lombardi added, the Holy Father has the power to dispense the requirement for a second miracle.

However, no dates were given yesterday, neither of the special consistory nor the canonizations of the two beloved predecessors of Pope Francis. However, Father Lombardi did not rule out that the canonizations of the both Popes would be held together, and he did express his opinion that they would take place before the end of 2013. Any date will be set during the special consistory, which will likely be held this Fall.

A nod of thanks, too, to Father Z, for his insightful thoughts here on the announcement of the canonization of these two great Pontiffs together and during this 50th anniversary year of Vatican Council II.

05 July 2013

Consecration of Vatican City State to Saints Joseph and Michael, Archangel

5 JULY 2013. Today, the Holy Father Francis, with His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus, in attendance, consecrated the Vatican City State to Saint Michael the Archangel and Saint Joseph. A new statue of Saint Michael the Archangel, by artist Giuseppe Antonio Lomuscio who was first commissioned to produce the work during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, was also dedicated in the Vatican gardens. Below are the remarks of his holiness, Pope Francis:

Lord Cardinals, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies!

We have gathered here in the Vatican Gardens to inaugurate a monument to Saint Michael the Archangel, patron of Vatican City State. It is an initiative planned some time ago, with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, to whom always go our affection and gratitude and to whom we wish to express our great joy to have him present here in our midst today. My heartfelt thank you!

I am grateful to the Presidency of the Governorate, in particular to Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, for his cordial words, to the offices and workmen involved in bringing this about. I also thank Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President Emeritus of the Governorate, for his presentation to us of the works carried out and the results attained. A word of appreciation goes to the sculptor, Mr. Giuseppe Antonio Lomuscio, and to the benefactor, Mr. Claudio Chiais, who are present here. Thank you!

There are several artistic works in the Vatican Gardens; however, this one, which is added today, assumes a place of particular importance, be it for its location, be it for the meaning it expresses. In fact, it’s not only a celebratory work, but an invitation to reflection and prayer, which is well inserted in the Year of Faith. Michael – which means: “Who is like unto God?” – is the champion of God’s primacy, of His transcendence and power. Michael fights to re-establish divine justice; he defends the People of God from its enemies and above all of the enemy par excellence, the devil. And Saint Michael triumphs because it is God who acts in him. This sculpture, then, reminds us that evil has been vanquished, the accuser is unmasked, his head is crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the Blood of Christ. Even if the devil always tries to scratch the Archangel’s face and man’s face, God is stronger; the victory is His and His salvation is offered to every man. We are not alone in life’s journey and trials; we are accompanied and sustained by the Angels of God who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us surmount so many dangers, to be able to fly high in regard to those realities that can weigh down our life or drag us down. On consecrating Vatican City State to Saint Michael the Archangel, we ask him to defend us from the Evil One and to cast him outside.

Dear brothers and sisters, we consecrate Vatican City State also to Saint Joseph, the custodian of Jesus, the custodian of the Holy Family. May his presence make us stronger and more courageous in making space for God in our life to overcome evil always with good. We ask him to guard us, to take care of us, so that the life of grace will grow every day more in each of us.
[Translation by ZENIT]

IMAGES: Photos courtesy of News.va

04 May 2013

Saint Angelus of Jerusalem

5 MAY 2013. Today the Church remembers a twelfth century martyr and convert from Judaism, Saint Angelus of Jerusalem.

Saint Angelus was born into a Jewish family in Jersusalem in A.D. 1185. He was one of two twins, the other twin was named John. In their youth, both brothers were baptized as Christians when their mother converted to Christianity.

However, Angelus and John endured the misfortune of their parents dying while they were young. Afterwards both brothers entered the Carmelite Order at the age of 18. At the time, both already spoke Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

At about the age of 26 Angelus was ordained a priest in Jerusalem. Afterwards he traveled throughout Palestine. In his travels, a number of miraculous cures were attributed to Angelus. So many, in fact, that he became famous. Seeking to avoid his fame, Angelus withdrew to a hermitage on Mount Carmel, until he was instructed by Christ in a vision to leave Mount Carmel for Italy to preach against the Albigensians, Bulgars and other heresies.

After arriving in Sicily, again Angelus began attracting crowds for miraculous cures attributed to him.

It was in Sicily that Saint Angelus received his martyr's crown. He was attempting to convert a Cathar Knight named Berenger who was living in incest with his sister. Angelus converted Berenger's sister and convinced to her to leave her brother. But, this enraged Berenger who attacked Angelus with his sword, striking him five times, in front of the Church of SS Filippo e Giocomo in Licata. Angelus died from the wounds suffered in the attack four days afterwards and was buried in the Church of SS Filippo e Giocomo. The year was A.D. 1220. As he lay dying, Angelus prayed for the pardon of his killer.

After his death, his tomb became a sight of pilgrimage, and the Carmelite Order has venerated Angelus as a Saint since at least A.D. 1456. Pope Pius II later approved his cult.

Saint Angelus, pray for us!

15 April 2013

Christ, our Light in this Darkness

15 APRIL 2013.

Shhh . . . .
The stillness in the aftermath still cries,
broken legs and feet and arms lay strewn about,
as the survivors hold each other dear.

Dear, dear child, once a fan of flighted men,
who whizzed by in colored bright array,
taken from this life, flying to God,
now joined to the angels in heaven, evermore.

Our darkness draws us near in the town of bruins,
mighty bears that cannot tear down,
the stillness and sadness that brings us with tears to this town.

Where, O god, is your love in this moment?
Where does your countenance hide?

Ahh . . . . .
there you are in full display.
One helping the other to find their way.
Another comforts another in need.
Some just cry and pray.
Each the face of Christ our Lord,
made present in the terrible reality of this day.

We love you Lord and we know,
that the evil spirit that spawned this death,
cannot overcome the love and mercy
with which You hold us so very tight.
In the darkness, is Christ:
our One True Light.

Christ in the presence of all who give aide,
and Christ in the presence of all who pray.
Christ in the love that is poured out with blood,
for those who toil to love others today.

We love you Lord; You will bring us through,
this dark night and day yet to be born,
tears will still flow and questions to be addressed,
but your Love, O Lord, will see us till the end.

Praise God for His mercy on all who hurt,
He hears their prayer and needs and pains;
provides comfort and grace and the forgiveness of sin,
to all who need a loving friend.


13 April 2013

Blessed Margaret of Castello

13 APRIL 2013. Today the Order of Preachers celebrates Blessed Margaret of Castello, a Lay Dominican and virgin, who is the patroness of the unwanted and abandoned.

Blessed Margaret was born at Citta de Castello, Italy in 1287. Blind from birth and abandoned by her parents at an early age, she faithfully placed her trust in God and lived under the Rule of Penance of the Order of Saint Dominic. She had great compassion for the poor and especially cherished the mystery of the Incarnation. She died at theage of thirty-three on 13 April 1320.

Blessed Margaret, pray for us!

01 April 2013

There is no sin which God cannot forgive.

Are we often weary, disheartened and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up: there are no situations which God cannot change, there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him."

Pope Francis, Homily of the Easter Vigil Mass, 30 March 2013.
 IMAGE: The Telegraph, 2013. 

31 March 2013


31 MARCH 2013. A happy and blessed Easter to all who find these pages. May the love that has shone through the depths of man's darkness and death, to reveal the light of salvation in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Christ, provide for all who come to Him the refreshment of forgiveness and mercy in this Easter season and always!

Trust in the Lord, His mercy endures forever.
Trust in the Lord, He is without equal.
Trust in the Lord, whose love is without end,
never changing, without limit or redress.
Rest in the Lord,
Take refuge in Him,
He is the true and only solace of the world!

16 March 2013

Franciscus PP. - The Holy Father's choice of his name and Poverty in the Church

16 MARCH 2013. In the Holy Father's own words, why he chose the name Francis, following in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi:
Some people didn't know why the Bishop of Rome wanted to call himself "Francis." Some though of Francis Xavier, Francis de Sales, even Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. At the election I had the archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo next to me. He is also prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes [O.F.M.]: a dear, dear friend. When things were getting a little "dangerous," he comforted me. And then, when the votes reached the two-thirds, there was the usual applause because the Pope had been elected. He hugged me and said: "Do not forget the poor." And that word stuck here [tapping his forehead as shown above]; the poor, the poor. Then, immediately in relation to the poor I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of war, while the voting continued, until all the votes [were counted]. And so the name came to my heart:: Francis of Assisi. For me he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who love and safeguards Creation. In this moment when our relationship with Creation is not so good—right?—He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … Oh, how I wish for a Church that is poor and for the poor!

13 March 2013

Prayer of Thanksgiving for Pope Francis

Dear Lord, gracious God.
In Your love and benevolence, 
You have delivered a humble and trusted servant,
to serve Your bride on earth, as the servant of servants.
Thank you for the gift of Pope Francis 
for the people of God.
May the Holy Spirit always guide and protect him, and
may the Mother of Christ, our Lady, always watch over him
and give him the blessing of her prayers to Jesus Christ our Lord.


01 March 2013

Novena Prayer for the Conclave

1 MARCH 2013. From this date until the election of a new Pope, I would ask that all readers pray this novena prayer for the faithful election of the new Pope in a spirit of docility to the Divine Will of God:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send down your Spirit over the conclave. Let the Holy Spirit inspire the hearts of the Cardinals, that they may choose the man most pleasing to You, as Successor of Peter and Your Vicar on earth. May Mary, Your Mother and Mother of the Church, be our advocate.


AUTHOR: Mr Mark Miraville, Professor of Theology and Mariology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
IMAGE: Photo of 2005 Conclave.

19 February 2013

Blessed Alvarez of Cordoba

19 FEBRUARY 2013. Being the season of Lent, the regular observance of memorials is more limited, so we say that today the Order commemorates Blessed Alvarez of Cordoba.

Blessed Alavarez was born at Zamora, Spain in about A.D. 1350. He entered the Order of Preachers in 1368, where he preached throughout Spain and Italy. He established the Priory of Scala Caeli at Cordoba, where he promoted regular religious life. He is credited with spreading the practice of the Way of the Cross throughout Western Europe by his preaching and contemplation of the Lord's passion. He died at Cordoba on 19 February 1430.

11 February 2013

Prayer for Pope Benedict XVI (on the occassion of his renunciation of the Petrine ministry)

The world of faith stands quieted,
can it truly be that Our Holy Father has,
given the flock over to the uncertainty?
To a successor to be chosen by princes?
We stop, partly saddened. Wonderment in full.
What will happen next, O God?

We trust in You!
We offer our Holy Father to Your loving care!
Thank you for the gift of the pontificate
of Joseph Ratzinger, for all the world and for all time,
Benedict XVI!

Our sadness now parts;
we trust in You as our Holy Father has
shown us so great a model of trust.
The world, O Lord, cannot overcome You.
The world can never get too big for God.
In this moment, and in all our moments,
You are lovingly with us.
So, we trust in Your care and protection, Lord Jesus.

O Holy Spirit, help the Church in this time of transition.
Be Her guide in all that is done and that transpires
over the coming weeks and months.
The faithful abandon ourselves to You, Loving Lord.
And, assist in a most special way, keeping him always near you,
our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.
As he has served the Church and You, Lord, faithfully,
so may we, the people of God, be faithful to him in this hour.

Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us all, and bring to your Son,
these prayers and petitions.


31 January 2013

The Eternity of God

31 JANUARY 2013. I will do this from time to time. Some may know, that I have enrolled and am taking classes (by distance learning) at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut, in pursuit of a Master of Arts in Theology. For those who have not taken a look at the college's online course offerings, I would encourage you to do so. Tuition is more reasonable than others and the school offers a solidly  Catholic education in accordance with Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and has even won the recommendation of the Cardinal Newman Society.

This week's assignment in One and Triune God (the basic master's level course on the Trinity) was to summarize portions of the Summa Theologica, including portions on the eternity of God. This work of St. Thomas Aquinas is striking is many ways, but the concept of God's eternity, as explained by the great Saint, is an awesome portrait of God.

Below is my summary of Summa Theologica 1, Question 10, Articles 1-4. The Eternity of God.

1. What is eternity? Eternity is that which has no beginning or end and which is perfect in all ways simultaneously because it has no succession. There is no before or after in eternity because eternity is outside of movement, and thus outside of potentiality. As such, eternity is absolute infinity and perfection, being simultaneously whole because it is wanting in nothing.

2. Is God eternal? God is eternal. As God is immutable—not subject to change—He is not subject to movement and time, which is continuous change. As God is infinite, which we have learned, He has no beginning and no end; He is unlimited and boundless. Thus, God must be eternal. As the great Saint says: “Nor is He eternal only; but He is His own eternity; whereas, no other being is its own duration, as no other is its own being. Now God is His own uniform [perfect] being; and hence He is His own essence, so He is His own eternity.” And, “[e]ternity is nothing else but God Himself.”

3. Does it belong to God alone to be eternal? Only God is eternal. Because God is immutable and infinite, being without beginning or end, and only God is without beginning, it is proper only to God to be eternal. Some items of creation are called eternal, e.g., the hills are eternal (Psalm 75:5), because of the length of their duration and still other creation, e.g., angels share in the nature of eternity as they possess unchangeableness in being or operation. However, only God is eternal as being without beginning. All creation comes from God. The great Saint answers the three objections to this in this way. First, although there are said to many eternities, creation shares in eternity in its contemplation of God. Second, hell is not eternal, but exists in time. Third, the true and necessary are eternal, but only because they exist in the eternal mind—the divine intellect of God. Eternity is identified, then, with the essence of God.

4. Does eternity differ from time? Eternity is not the same as time. Eternity is a simultaneous whole, while time always has a “before” and “after.” While time has a beginning and eternity does not, this does not fully explain the difference between the two. The great Saint describes the difference this way “eternity is the measure of a permanent being; while time is a measure of movement.” Time, too, has potentiality because the beginning and the end are potentialities. Eternity is an immutable, infinite now; eternity is pure actuality. While time is not so. The “now” of time, for example, refers to what is moveable, but the “now” of eternity is perfect, unchangeable, and infinite. Eternity is the measure of a perfect being, while time is the measure of movement. We can know the meaning of eternity, but cannot really picture it because we and all that we know in creation are subject to time—not just that which changes, but that which is changeable. Thus, time and eternity are necessarily different and even opposed to one another.

01 January 2013

Happy AD 2013!

1 JANUARY 2013. A time for new resolutions (go to confession, more frequent daily mass, work harder to make time for Morning Prayer) and new beginnings. I pray that 2013 will be a blessed year for all readers. Persevere in your faith, for the Lord is always faithful!

IMAGE: From the December 31, 2012, New Year's Eve fireworks display in Tallahassee, Florida (Kleman Plaza).