29 December 2010

Saint Thomas Becket

29 DECEMBER. Today on the fifth day in the Octave of Christmas, the Church remembers Saint Thomas Becket, a twelfth century martyr and Archbishop of Canterbury.


O God,
for the sake of Whose Church the glorious Bishop Thomas
fell by the sword of ungodly men:
grant, we beseech Thee, that all who implore his aid
may obtain the good fruit of his petition.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Ghost, forever and ever.


26 December 2010

Feast of the Holy Family

26 DECEMBER 2010. Today, the second in the Octave of Christmas, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family--where the divine will first truly dwelt on earth. There in the little backwater of Bethlehem, crowed with travelers who have come for the census, huddled in a cave - a mere niche in the rock for the protection of livestock - is Christ our saviour, our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her most chaste and faithful spouse Saint Joseph. He who created the world and is beyond all space and time was contained within the immaculate womb of the Virgin. Together they are the family living in accord with the Divine Will, the will of God the Father who has bestowed on the world his only Son as a gift for all humanity.

25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

25 DECEMBER 2010.

Rejoice, the Christ child is born!
Not of lofty or rich estate, by human standards
but, God's only Son sent to us.

We praise God the Father and rejoice in Christ the Son,
Holy Emmanuel, come among us to save us from our sin.

23 December 2010

Saint John of Kanty

23 DECEMBER 2010. Today, just two days before the Church celebrates the blessed nativity of our Lord, the Church commemorates Saint John of Kanty, a renowned Polish priest, scholastic, and theologian.

Among the many traits of Saint John that speak of his sainthood, one was the love he showed as a priest. When rivals at the university were jealous of Saint John's popularity among his students, and set false charges against him. As a result of these falsehoods, Saint John for a time was assigned as pastor of a country church in Olkusz in Bohemia. The people of Olkusz were skeptical of their new pastor, thinking that their country church was being used as a dumping ground for a disgraced academic. But, Saint John worked diligently to show his love for his new flock, though nervous about his responsibility, in all that he did. When Saint John was finally exonerated of all the false charges against him, and invited back to the university, the people of Olkusz are reported to have followed for several miles down the road in an effort to persuade him to stay.

After returning to the university, Saint John was given the position of Professor of Sacred Scriptures, a position he then held until his death. Saint John was so well liked that he was very often invited to dinner by nobility.Once, he was turned away at the door by a servant who thought his cassock was too frayed. Not arguing, Saint John went home and changed into a new cassock. However, during the meal a servant spilled a dish on Saint John's new cassock, to which he replied: "No matter. My clothes deserve some dinner, too. If it hadn't been for them I wouldn't be here at all."

Saint John was constantly mindful of the needs of others too. Once, Saint John saw a beggar walk by outside his window as he ate dinner. He immediately jumped up from his dinner and filled the beggar's bowl with food. He asked no questions of the beggar, he made no demands. He simply saw someone in need and reacted with love.

Saint John repeated taught his students this: "Fight all error, but do it with good humor, patience, kindness, and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause."


Almighty Father,
through the example of John of Kanty
may we grow in the wisdom of the saints.
As we show understanding and kindness to others,
may we receive your forgiveness.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


08 December 2010

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

8 DECEMBER 2010. Today the Church celebrates the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Macula is Latin for "stain." This day the Church celebrates the conception of our Blessed Mother without the stain of sin.

First recognized in Church teaching (in the Eastern Churches) as early as the fifth century, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was not formally promulgated by the Church until 8 December 1854 by Blessed Pope Pius IX. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception, one of the four Marian dogmas of the Church, holds that Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother, Saint Ann, and kept free for her entire life, from its very first moment, without the stain of sin.

Christ, the Word, who is beyond all time and space and physical limitation, was contained in the womb of Mary, our Immaculate Mother. As the angel greeted her "full of grace," we believe that she was indeed preserved by God our savior, her Son, from the stain of sin to fulfill her unique and indispensable role in salvation history--to carry Christ in her womb, the initiate His public ministry at a wedding in Cana, to follow Him to the point of the  foot of the cross, and to join our Lord bodily though her assumption into heaven.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Holy Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is the exemplar for all Christian faithful in living a true life of Christian love, dedicated to Christ and truly open to the love and works of God. Pray to our Lady for her assistance in each of our life journeys to Christ.

Dominican Saints and Blessed for December

December 1:
Blessed John of Vercelli

December 8:
The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Solemnity)

December 16:
Blessed Sebastian Maggi

December 25:
The Nativity of the Lord (Solemnity)

December 27:
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

16 November 2010

Saint Albert the Great

It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for “God is Charity” (1 John 4:8)

Saint Albert the Great


Dear Saint Albert,
professed as most learned and noble,
yet still humble in your relationship with both God and man.
Help us to find the grace of charity in our hearts,
given so generously by the Holy Spirit.
With the assistance of your intercession
may we join in your learned nature
to incline ourselves truly to learn the love and charity of
Our Lord, Jesus Christ.


10 November 2010

Dominican Saints and Blesseds for November

3 November:
Saint Martin de Porres (Feast)

5 November:
Blessed Simon Ballachi

6 November:
Blessed Francis de Capillas and Alfonsus Navarette and companions

7 November:
All Saints of the Order of Preachers (Feast)

8 November:
Anniversary of Deceased Brothers and Sisters of the Order

14 November:
Blessed John Liccco
Blessed Lucy of Narni

15 November:
Saint Albert the Great (Feast)

19 November:
Blessed James Benefatti

24 November:
Saint Ignatious Delgado, Saint Vincent Liem, 
Saint Dominic An-Kham, and companions

25 November:
Blessed Margaret of Savoy

The Death of Life

Why death in a church in Iraq?
Why death in the womb of an unwanted?
Why death alone on a street, tethered to sin?
Why death to come daily from our impurities within?

Death is no more an ending, that we are a begin.
Death is no more a victor, than we can rule on our own over sin.
Death is no more a curtain, than a veil for what lies within.

Death is a beginning.
Born into eternal life.
Death is a beginning.
Our hopes in Christ Jesus risen for us, His sons and daughters.
Death is a beginning.
The purpose for which we have been born.
Not to die, but to live with Him for eternity.

So, pray for the dead - that they may see the Christ.
Pray for the faithful who have gone before us.
And pray for those less sure of their path in the hereafter.
Pray for all souls, for one day we will join them.
May each of us reach Christ in the end.


20 October 2010

et alia

20 OCTOBER 2010. Today the Church receives with joy 24 new cardinals. A few day's ago, the communion of saints grew by six. These days are interesting and exciting indeed. But your author is tired.

For any reader who is (or was) a regular visitor to these pages, I apologize for the lack of prose production over the last many weeks. The third child in our household (8 weeks old today) is putting quite a dent in restful sleep, which is to say:--we are getting none. Aside from that, work is very busy and my time seems to be entirely overloaded between the office and home. I am still trying to be diligent with the daily office, which is a true blessing of peace and holy joy in daily life, but even that has suffered as other duties have burgeoned.

I continue to pray for those who find these pages and ask that you pray for us.

02 October 2010

The Good - Christ

2 OCTOBER 2010. Today I spent the morning with other families at my daughter's weekly soccer (football for those outside the U.S.) scrimmage. The other parents were carrying on conversations about how many video games each household had and how many video game systems. One father bragged that his family had every game system currently available and more than a 100 games. I didn't participate in the conversation, just listened. Our household does not have a game system. And, we have one television. But the conversation got me to thinking about what people of my generation (35-45 years old) personally thought was the good they should strive for in today's world.

So, here is my reflection:

The good is not technology.
Technology and technological devices are merely a means.
The good is not our possessions.
Possessions can enslave us.
A life lived in service of our possessions and acquiring more
is not a life lived in search of the good.
The good is Christ.
A means to Christ is prayer.
A means to Christ is love of family
and community and those we find difficult.
A means to Christ is care for those in need.
A means to Christ is quiet contemplation of God
and the unlimited love He has poured into us.
A means to Christ is to empty myself to be filled by the Holy Spirit.
Happiness is not the end of life, but true joy is found in Christ.

Am I in step with my generation, or out?

21 September 2010

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

21 SEPTEMBER 2010. Today is the feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist. Christ said to Saint Matthew: "Follow me." And, so he did, abandoning everything to follow Christ.

I pray that we too, wretched sinners all of us, may also answer the call of Christ - indelibly written onto our hearts by our baptism in Christ.

So, on this feast day we turn to the words of the fourteenth century Dominican mystic and theologian, Johannes Tauler:
When Jesus departed from Capernaum, He saw a man sitting in the custom house named Matthew; and He said to him: Follow Me. And he arose and followed Him’ (Saint Matthew 9:9).

The Apostle and Evangelist, so holy, which we celebrate today, has become an example for all men. As the Scripture tells us, he became one of the most distinguished friends of God, having been first a great sinner. As soon as the Lord speaks to the heart of Matthew, he immediately abandons everything to follow the Lord. What is condensed here we must do if we want to follow Christ: implement genuine and radical abandonment of everything that is not of God, which has taken possession of man’s heart. For God is a lover of hearts, and does not commune with anything that is external.

The path of the friends of God is totally dark and unknown. Appropriate are the words which speak of Job: ‘A man whose way is hidden, and God has surrounded him with darkness’ (Job 3:23). Man must bear all the reproaches heaped upon him on this rough road, in a self-denying way. Our Lord says everywhere: Follow Me, go through all things. I am He; do not go further; follow Me. If a man were to say: Lord, who are You, that I must follow You through such deep, gloomy, miserable paths? The Lord would reply, I am God and Man, and far more God.

If man is to be thus clothed with this Being, all the forms must of necessity be done away with, those that were ever received by him in all his powers of perception, knowledge, will, work, subjection, sensibility and self-seeking. When Saint Paul saw nothing, he saw God. When Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle, God came. All strong rocks are broken here; all on which the mind can rest disappear. Then, when all forms have ceased to exist, in the twinkling of an eye, the man is transformed. The Lord teaches us through Jeremiah: ‘You shall call Me Father and shall not cease to walk after Me’ (Jeremiah 3:19). This means, entering ever further in, ever nearer, so as to sink deeper in an unknown and unnamed abyss; and, above all ways, images and forms, and above all powers, to lose yourself, deny yourself and even un-form yourself.

In this lost condition, nothing is to be seen but a ground which rests upon itself, every one being, one life. It is thus, man may say, that he becomes, unknowing, unloving and senseless. This is not the result of natural qualities, but of the transformation, wrought by the Spirit of God in the created spirit, in the fathomless lost condition of the created spirit, and in his unconditional surrendering. We may say of this, that God knows, loves and gives Himself thus; for man is nothing but a life, a being and action. Those who see in this way, with undue liberty and with false light, are in the most perilous state possible in this life. The way by which we must arrive at the goal, is through the precious life and sufferings of our dear Lord; for He is the Way by which we must go, and He is the Truth which lightens all in this way.

06 September 2010

Blessed Bertrand of Garrigue

6 SEPTEMBER 2010. Today the Dominican Order recalls Blessed Bertrand of Garrigue, one of the original companions of Saint Dominic, who established the Order throughout France.

Blessed Bertrand was born in A.D. 1195 at Garrigue, France. Blessed Bertran's parents were the friends of the Cistercian Sisters of the Convent of Notre Dame of the Woods at Bouchet. This association of his family must have made a  strong impression on the young Bertrand, as we was known to be a pious youth, and from an early age expressed a desire to serve as a member of the clergy and fight the heresy of the Albigenses.

As a young priest, Blessed Bertrand was assigned to a band of missionaries, under the direction of Cistercian fathers, who were charged by the Holy See to bring the Albigenses back to a civilized life and to the Church. I was during this mission work that Blessed Bertrand met Saint Dominic. The two at once became close friends and spiritual brothers.
Cast in the same mold and filled with the same spirit, they labored, prayed, and fasted together-all for the glory of God, the benefit of the Church, the good of religion, and the salvation of souls. Doubtless they effected more by their saintly lives and supplications before the throne of mercy than by their sermons, however eloquent and earnest these were.
The early writers speak of none of Saint Dominic's first disciples more frequently, or in terms of higher praise, than of Blessed Bertrand of Garrigue. They represent him as pious, candid, humble, zealous, much given to prayer, extremely mortified. If we may judge by their representation of him, he was a true Israelite in whom there was no guile, greatly beloved by Saint Dominic, one of his most frequently chosen companions in labor and travel. For this reason, as well as because they had toiled together for years, one can but believe that Bertrand was one of the first to whom Dominic made known his design of establishing an apostolic order, whose primary object should be the salvation of souls through an active ministry, and whose field of operation should embrace the world. In spite of his modesty and retiring manners, Bertrand was the kind of a man who would espouse such a cause with his whole heart, for the grace of God ever impelled him to do all in his power to increase the harvest of heaven.
(The First Disciples of Saint Dominic, The Very Reverand Victor F. O'Daniel, O.P., S.T.M., Litt.D., 1928)

In A.D. 1215 Blessed Bertrand received the habit of the Order from Saint Dominic. It was apparent that in the very early days of the Order, Blessed Bertrand was considered second in rank only to Saint Dominic himself. This may be evidenced by the fact that Saint Dominic left Blessed Bertrand in charge of the community when he went to Rome in the fall of A.D. 1215 to seek papal confirmation of the Order. In A.D. 1216 Saint Dominic named Blessed Bertrand as the third prior of the Order, in the Church of St. Romanus, when St. Dominic traveled to the Vatican to receive final approbation of the order.

Blessed Bertrand was known for his austere life and his obedience. In fact, Bertrand was often known to wail aloud over his own sins, until Saint Dominic forbade him from wailing for his own sins, but instructed him to bemoan the grave sins of the wicked. In obedience, he immediately took on a life of prayer for the wicked of the world.

The last journey of Saint Dominic and Blessed Bertrand was in A.D. 1219 when the pair traveled to Paris where, upon arrival, the two spent the entire night in prayer at the Notre Dame Church, at Roe-Amadour. Tradition tells us that during this journey the Holy Spirit gave Saint Dominic and Blessed Bertrand the gift of tongues and they were thus able to converse with German pilgrims in their native language.

In obedience to Saint Dominic, it appears that Blessed Bertrand did not speak of any of the miracles of Saint Dominic until after his death, and then only to Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the first Master General of the Order after our Father Saint Dominic.

The last apostolic work of Blessed Bertrand was for the Cistercian Sisters of Notre Dame of the Woods at Bouchet, in the Diocese of Valence, where he was giving to these austere sisters a course of sermons on the spiritual life. At only and age of about 35, Blessed Bertrand grew sick and died while with the Cistercian Sisters in A.D. 1230. His body was buried in the conventual cemetery of the Cistercian Nuns near the apse of the abbatial church.

However, shortly after hid death marvellous cures began to come forth through his intercession. As a consequence, the Cistercian Nuns had an altar erected in his honor in their church and placed a statute of Blessed Bertrand upon the altar. Blessed Bertrand's remains, found wholly intact, were afterwards exhumed and placed beneath the altar. However, the remains of Blessed Bertrand were destroyed by fire in A.D. 1561 during the religious wars that followed the Protestant Reformation.

Years later the cemetery of Notre Dame of the Woods became known as "Saint Bertrand's Cemetery," a name that endures to this day. Blessed Bertrand was beatified when his cultus was confirmed on 14 July 1881 by Pope Leo XIII.


O God,
you joined to the holy patriarch Dominic
a companion and wonderful imitator in Blessed Bertrand.
With the help of his prayers
may we follow in life the faith which he preached
and so obtain the promised rewards in heaven.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


01 September 2010

Prayer of Thanksgiving for Children

Loving Father,
as you have shared the great bounty of Your love with us,
your children
and given to us the body and blood
of your dearly beloved Son for our salvation,
by your grace, help us to cherish the gifts
you have blessed us with,
especially our children.

Holy Spirit, gives us parents the grace to battle weariness, impatience, and annoyance.
Help us to recognize in every child, Your precious gift.
As the Father so loved us as His children,
may we as parents so love our children unconditionally.
As Christ was perfectly obedient to the Father
in offering Himself for all humanity,
may we be truly Christian in our living,
and be perfectly obedient to Christ in offering ourselves
for our children, for the love of Him.

Blessed Mary, ever virgin, we praise you
as the exemplar of Christian love
clothed only in humanity.
As you so lovingly cared for Jesus your Son,
we ask for you to generously
provide us your children with the gift of your intercession.
By your assistance, Queen of Heaven,
may we be strengthened in our role as parents
and lead our children, as the first fruits of our labor
for the love of your Son,
to the greatest love of Christ that they can offer
and that we can instill.


29 August 2010

Trason Gabriel Lamar Finklea

25 August 2010. Today our third child, Trason Gabriel Lamar, was born at 10:34 a.m.

Trason is a big tike, weighing in at 8 lbs. 14 ounces.

Many thanks for the prayers. I pray that all who find these pages have had as blessed an August as our family has.

01 August 2010

A Breather

1 AUGUST 2010. For all those who find these pages,your faithful author is going to take a breather for the month of August, as the Vatican does each year during this month. However, unlike the away-from-the-spotlight rest that some in the Vatican may enjoy this month, August will be a very busy month for me in pursuits  away from these pages. Work will be quite busy, seeing me out of town each week but one this month. And, the week that I am scheduled to remain in town, our third child is also due. I will probably only punctuate the quiet of this month with a picture or two of the newest edition to our family. So, for now, pray for us and I will pray for you.


1 AUGUST 2010. Today the Church celebrates the eighteenth Sunday in ordinary time. Today's readings can be found here.

Today's Gospel reading from Saint Luke gives us Jesus' parable about the rich man who has such abundance that he decides to tear down his barns and build larger ones to store all of his excess. Pleased with tis plan, he says to himself: "[I] have so many good things stored up for many years,rest, eat, drink, be merry!" (Lk 12:19) But, God rebukes him saying, "You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?" (Lk 12:20) And so it is, Christ tells us, for all of those who store up their treasure on earth, but do not build up a richness in their faith - all we have will belong to someone else and ultimately will return to dust. Even our bodies are subject to this ultimate physical demise. However, our treasure in heaven is the spiritual destination to which we are all called and which is made available to us only by the merits of our savior, Christ the Lord.

In the same vein as today's Gospel message, the first reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes, begins with the description of everything on earth as vanity: "Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property." (Eccl 2:21) This ancient author of the Book of Ecclesiastes describes for us the belief that there is a divine plan for humanity, but it is hidden from us, and those who search for happiness only here on earth will never find it. Of course, we Christians know that what was hidden under the law before Christ, is revealed to the faithful by Christ. Our destiny and purpose of life is to serve our Lord as we love one another, and to ultimately reside in the fullness of God's love in heaven for eternity.

The futility of searching for true happiness on earth is why Saint Paul exhorts the Colossians in today's second reading to "[t]hink of what is above, not of what is on earth." (Col 3:2) Saint Paul's exhortation is just as relevant today as it was at the time it was written, and properly puts our focus on the Kingdom of God, not our worldly kingdoms on earth:

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator.
Here there is not Greek and Jew,
circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;
but Christ is all and in all.

(Col 3:5, 9-11) 

Praise our Lord and and trust in the motherly protection and intercession of our Blessed Mother, Queen of Heaven.

24 July 2010

Blessed Jane of Orvieto

24 JULY 2010. Today the Dominican Order remembers Blessed Jane of Orvieto, born at Carnaiola, Italy in the later half of the thirteenth century. Blessed Jane is a lay Dominican, visionary and prophet, known for her life of deep prayer.
BLESSED JANE, popularly called Vanna, belonged to July 23 the peasant class, and was born at Carnajola, near Orvieto, in Italy, A.D. 1264. She was left an orphan at the age of five, and some of her playfellows told her that, now she had neither father nor mother, there was no one to care for her. Little Jane immediately led them to the church, and pointing to a picture of the Guardian Angel, said, " Behold him who will hold the place of father and mother to me. I have a better parent than you." Divine Providence came to the assistance of the little orphan, and she was adopted by some members of her family who lived at Orvieto. These people were anxious that she should enter the married state as soon as her age would permit, but Jane's heart had been consecrated from childhood to a Heavenly Spouse. To escape their importunity she fled to the house of a friend who lived in the country, and entered the Third Order of Saint Dominic.

In the school of the Divine Master she was taught the virtues of the religious life, detachment from earthly things, patience, obedience, humility, a tender charity for the poor and the sick ; above all, an ardent love of God. So brightly did this heavenly flame burn within her, that, during her long devotions, which occupied great part of the day, she could bear only the lightest clothing, and the bare mention of the love of Jesus, of the maternal goodness of Mary, or of the sufferings of a martyr, sufficed to throw her into an ecstasy. Every Good Friday but one, during the last nine years of her life, she was favoured with an extraordinary rapture, lasting from mid-day until evening, during which her body lay stiff and motionless in the attitude of the crucifix, and her bones were distinctly heard to crack, as though being violently dislocated.

One Christmas night, as she was grieving that sickness prevented her from assisting at Midnight Mass and receiving the Divine Infant in Holy Communion, her little chamber was miraculously flooded with light, in the midst of which appeared a white Host, which descended into her breast. On another occasion, when she was again confined to her bed by illness, our Blessed Lady appeared to her, bearing the Divine Infant in her arms. " Jane," said the Holy Child, " thou canst not to-day receive Me in Holy Communion, but I am ever thine by grace."

Blessed Jane strove to conceal from the knowledge of all the Divine favours which were lavished upon her; she sincerely regarded herself as the worst of sinners, and nothing caused her so much pain as to see herself treated with respect and veneration. On the other hand, she looked upon those who ill-treated her as her benefactors. One day, when a woman had grossly insulted her, she said, " I am sorry that I am so weak as to be unable to do a severe penance for this poor woman's sins; at any rate, I shall have the pleasure of saying two hundred Paters and Aves for her." Hence it passed into a proverb at Orvieto, that, in order to obtain an abundant share in Sister Jane's prayers, one must do her some injury.

She was endowed with the gift of prophecy, and amongst other things predicted some of the miracles which she was to work after her death. She had to endure cruel persecution from the devils, who were sometimes suffered to beat and otherwise ill-treat her; but she bore all with the utmost courage and patience.

Towards the close of her life, Blessed Jane had the happiness of having for her spiritual director Blessed James of Bevagna, who was at that time exercising the office of Lector and Preacher in the Convent at Orvieto. At the beginning of the August of 1301, this holy man had occasion to visit the Convent he had founded at Bevagna, and there he was attacked by his last illness and happily departed to our Lord. On the morning of his death, Blessed Jane, who did not even know that he was ill, was praying in the Church of the Friars at Orvieto, when she saw her holy confessor coming towards her. She was greatly rejoiced at the sight, and begged him to hear her confession, which he accordingly did. He then gave her his belt and his knife, to keep in remembrance of him. In the course of the afternoon, Blessed Jane sent a small present to the Convent by a servant, who brought back word that Father James was dying at Bevagna. " Impossible !" said the servant of God, " I saw him in church this morning; " and she produced the things which he had given her and which the Fathers perfectly recognised as having been those used by her saintly director. They then despatched messengers to Bevagna, who found that Blessed James had indeed died that morning, and that his body was lying exposed in the church.

Blessed Jane prepared for her own last passage with the greatest fervour, and, fortified by the holy Sacraments of the Church, departed to her Spouse on the 23rd of July, A.D. 1306. Many visions and miracles bore witness to the glory which she had attained in heaven. Fifteen months after her death, when her body was removed to a more fitting resting-place, it was found perfectly flexible and incorrupt. She was beatified by Benedict XIV.
(Short Lives of Dominican Saints, 205-208 (1901)).


O God, 
who didst reward by an increase of heavenly gifts
the singular purity and fervent love of Blessed Jane, Thy Virgin, 
grant that we may so imitate her virtues 
as to be ever pleasing to Thee, 
by the chastity of our lives 
and the purity of all our affections. 
Through Christ our Lord. 


18 July 2010


18 JULY 2010. Today the Church celebrates the sixteenth Sunday of ordinary time, and the long dog days of Summer are upon us. Today's reading can be found here.

In the first reading from the Book of Genesis, the Lord appears to Abraham as three strangers, whom Abraham is quick to serve. In response to Abraham's hospitality, the Lord promises to return to Abraham again in a year, at which time Sarah, thought to be barren, would be with child. So, Abraham's service and hospitality for the Lord is repaid.

However, in the Gospel reading from Saint Luke we hear of Martha's complaints that she is left to wait on the Lord while her sister, Mary, did nothing but sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him speak. When Martha asks the Lord to make Mary give her assistance, Christ responds:
"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.There is need of only one thing.Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
However, Christ does not ignore or reproach Martha for her hospitality who, like Abraham, has the great honor of personally serving the Lord. Instead, Christ responds to Martha's complaints and says: do not be anxious about your perception of others or your own slights. Be focused, instead, on the one thing that is important: the Word of God.

Indeed, to serve the Lord is an honor. We see from the first reading and the Gospel that there can be two paths to that service: an active service that is focused on the physical needs of others, and a contemplative or interior service that is focused on the Word of the Lord.

And, in the second reading too, we hear Saint Paul's words of acknowledgment of his service for the Lord:
I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister . . . .
Although Saint Paul has suffered for Christ, that suffering is a cause for his rejoicing exactly because it has been endured in service to Christ. Suffering too can be offered and endured in service to our Lord. We need look no farther than the great and Venerable Pope John Paul II and Blessed Mother Theresa to see contemporary examples of this truth.

In a profound sense suffering unifies both the active service to the Lord and the contemplative because often physical suffering produces interior anguish. To stay firm to Christ, then, in that interior difficulty, and to offer physical and other suffering to God, is a manner of service that all of us, at one time or another, can give to the Lord in the image of Abraham and Martha.

16 July 2010

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

16 JULY 2010. Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the name given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patronesss of the Carmelite Order who celebrate today as a feast.

Historically, Mount Carmel is an important location in Judeo-Christian history, associated in the Old Testament with the great prophet Elijah. It was at Mount Carmel that Elijah defended the purity of Israel's faith in the living God. According to the story told in the First Book of Kings, Elijah challenged the450 prophets of Baal, which the people of Israel had been persuaded to worship, as to who of the two of them, Elijah or the 450 prophets of Baal, could call upon his diety to consume a sacrifice with fire. The prophets of Baal were unable to call upon Baal to consume their sacrifice, but Elijah, after having drenched the sacrifice in water, prostrated himself in prayer, and following his prayer:
The LORD'S fire came down and consumed the holocaust, wood, stones, and dust, and it lapped up the water in the trench. Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, "The LORD is God! The LORD is God!"
(1 Kgs 18: 38-39). Immediately upon the people's acclamation that the Lord is God, a hard rain began to fall, ending a serious and prolonged drought that had plagued the area.

In the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries a group of hermits began to settle on Mount Carmel. They built a chapel in the midst of their hermitages, which they dedicated to Our Lady. By the fifteenth century popular devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel had centered on the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or the brown scapular.

According to the traditions of the Carmelite order, on 16 July 1251, the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite. During his vision, she revealed to him the Brown Scapular. About a 125 years later, the Carmelite order began to celebrate on this date as the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The Carmelites had long claimed that the order extended back to ancient times. In fact, they assert that their order was founded on Mount Carmel by  Elijah and Elisha, his assistant. In A.D. 1226, Pope Honorius III approved the Carmelite Order and, in doing so, seemed to have accepted its antiquity. In A.D. 1609 the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was declared to be the patronal feast of the Carmelite order.

From there, celebration of the feast began to spread Pope Benedict XIII placed the feast on the General Roman Calendar in A.D. 1726, and it has since been adopted by some Eastern Rite Catholics as well.

Today's memorial celebrates the devotion that the Blessed Virgin Mary has to those who are devoted to her, and who outwardly demonstrate that devotion by wearing the Brown Scapular. According to tradition, those who wear the scapular faithfully and remain devoted to the Blessed Virgin until death will be granted the grace of final perseverance and will be delivered from Purgatory early.


O most beautiful Flower of Mt. Carmel, Fruitful Vine, Splendour of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein you are my Mother. O holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart, to succour me in this necessity; there are none that can withstand your power.

15 July 2010

Saint Bonaventure

15 JULY 2010. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Bonaventure, a Franciscan theologian, bishop and Doctor of the Church.

Born in about the year A.D. 1218 in Tuscany, Bonaventure studied philosophy and theology in Paris and, having earned the title of master, taught his fellow friars with tremendous success. In A.D. 1257 Saint Bonaventure was elected as the Minister General of the Franciscan Order and is credited with bringing peace and unity to the Order and the Church.

After being made Cardinal-Bishop of Albano, Saint Bonaventure died at the Council of Lyons on 16 July 1274. His writings are an important source of illumination for both philosophy and theology.


All-powerful Father,
may we who celebrate the feast of Saint Bonaventure
always benefit from his wisdom
and follow the example of his love.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.


11 July 2010


11 JULY 2010. Today the Church celebrates the fifteenth Sunday in ordinary time. Readings for today's mass can be found here.

Today's Gospel reading from the Gospel of Saint Luke gives us the story of the legal scholar who questioned Jesus as to what he must do to attain eternal life. Jesus answers by having him recite the law, to which he says:
You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus, then, tells him that he has correctly recited the law, and that by faithfully following these commands he "will live." But, the man wishes to justify himself (his own knowledge of the law or his own life), so he further questions Jesus, asking "And who is my neighbor?"

In reply, Jesus gives us this parable of the good Samaritan:
"A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
'Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back.'
Jesus then poses this question to his scholarly interlocutor:
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"
When the man acknowledges that the good Samaritan, who helped the injured man, was the neighbor because he treated the injured man with mercy, Christ tells him: "Go and do likewise."

That is, indeed, the command of Christ to all of us, to go and do likewise. As our Lord has poured out his mercy on us with such generosity, we are to live in imitation of that mercy, to live in imitation of Christ who gave Himself entirely for our salvation. 

Notice too that Christ rephrased the scholar's question: the scholar asked: "Who is my neighbor?" But, in response to the scholar, at the end of the parable, Christ asks the scholar which of the three--priest, Levite, or Samaritan--was neighbor to the wounded man? While the scholar's question was self-centered--whom must I love--Christ's question in return is selfless--what is a neighbor called to do? The scholar's question, love as Christ did.

If I say that I am a Christian, then I am laying claim to a life that is being lived in imitation of Christ. I cannot say that; I have no right to lay claim to the statement that my life truly is lived in imitation of Christ, wretched sinner than I am. But, I do lay claim to this: I try to live in imitation of Christ and, though often tripped up by my own failings, I continue to try to imitate Christ. For I am not a Christian, in the truest sense,  I am attempting to achieve Christianity out of love for our Lord.

In is recent encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI describes the parable of the good Samaritan these terms:
The parable of the Good Samaritan offers two particularly important clarifications. Until that time, the concept of “neighbor” was understood as referring essentially to one’s countrymen and to foreigners who had settled in the land of Israel; in other words, to the closely-knit community of a single country or people. This limit is now abolished. Anyone who needs me, and whom I can help, is my neighbor. The concept of “neighbor” is now universalized, yet it remains concrete. Despite being extended to all mankind, it is not reduced to a generic, abstract and undemanding expression of love, but calls for my own practical commitment here and now.

The Church has the duty to interpret ever anew this relationship between near and far with regard to the actual daily life of her members. Lastly, we should especially mention the great parable of the Last Judgment (cf. Matthew 25:31-46), in which love becomes the criterion for the definitive decision about a human life's worth or lack thereof. Jesus identifies himself with those in need, with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison. "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40). Love of God and love of neighbor have become one: In the least of the brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God.

08 July 2010

Blessed Adrian Fortescue

8 JULY 2010. Today the Dominican Order remembers Blessed Adrian Fortescue, a fifteenth and sixteenth century lay Dominican, husband, father, and martyr.


O God, 
since all things are within your power, 
grant through the prayers of blessed Adrian, your martyr,
that we who keep his feast today 
may become stronger in the love of your name 
and hold to your holy Church even at the cost of our lives. 
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever. 

07 July 2010

Blessed Benedict XI

7 JULY 2010. Today the Dominican Order remembers Blessed Pope Benedict XI, the second Dominican Pope and ninth Master General of the Order.


Eternal Shepherd, 
you made Blessed Benedict known 
for his great love of the brethren 
and his service to your flock. 
By the help of his prayers 
may we ever be ardent in our fellowship 
and with one heart be steadfast
in the household of the Church. 
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever. 


06 July 2010

Saint Maria Goretti

6 JULY 2010. O Blessed Innocent! Today the Church remembers Saint Maria Goretti, a young girl that was martyred for her faith and is one of the youngest of all canonized saints.

Born on 16 October 1890, Maria Goretti at Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy, Maria was born the third of six children to Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini. In A.D. 1896 Maria's family moved to Ferriere di Conca, and not long afterward Saint Maria's father died of malaria. She was only nine at the time of her father's death.

After the death of her father, the family was forced to move onto the Serenelli farm to survive. On the farm there was a young man that, though many years older than Maria, attempted to make sexual advances toward the young girl on several occasions. Always rebuffing him, Maria sought to remain chaste.

While Saint Maria's mother and siblings worked in the fields, Maria ofter stayed at home with her infant sister, taking care of the house. It was tedious and difficult work, but tradition tells that Saint Maria undetook this work without complaint.

On 5 July 1902, Maria was at home sewing and tending to her infant sister. Alessandro Sereneli, age 20, came into Saint Maria's home and threatened to kill her is she did not do as he said. He intended to rape her. However, Saint Maria protested, screaming: "No! It is a sin! God does not want this, you'll go to hell." Sereneli first choked Saint Maria, but as she continued to struggle he stabbed her eleven times. Then, mortally wounded, as she attempted to flee, Sereneli stabbed her three more times before himself running away.

Awaking to the noise, Saint Maria's infant sister began crying. Not long after, Sereneli's parents came to check on the crying child and found Saint Maria bleeding to death. Immediately, she was taken to the local hospital, where surgery was attempted on her without anesthesia. However, half-way through the surgery she awoke and insisted remaining awake. The surgery could not sustain Saint Maria's life. And, about 20 hours after her attack, and after having forgiven her attacker and saying that she wanted him with her in heaven, Saint Maria died from her injuries, clutching a crucifix and looking upon a vision of the Virgin Mary.

Saint Maria died on 6 July 1902 at the age of 12.

Shortly after the attack on Saint Maria, Alessandro Sereneli was captured. He was later tried and sentence to life in prison for his brutal crime, but because of he was a minor at the time, his sentence was commuted to 30 years. For many years Sereneli was silent and unrepentant. However, after a visit from a local bishop, Sereneli's heart began to soften. After being released from prison, Sereneli visited Saint Maria's mother, begging her forgiveness for his crime. She responded that since Saint Maria had forgiven him, she could do no less. Reportedly, they attended mass together the next day and received Holy Communion next to one another.

Sereneli said that while he was in prison, he had a vision of Saint Maria. He saw her in a garden, where she was dressed in white and was gathering lillies. She saw him and smiled. Then, approaching him she handed him an armful of lillies and as he accepted them they were transformed into a still white flame. Sereneli credited this vision of Saint Maria to his conversion and even testified in favor of her beatification.

Afterward, Sereneli said that he prayed to Saint Maria every day, and referred to her as his "little saint." He later became a lay brother in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, and served as his friary's receptionist and gardener until he died in 1970.

Each of Saint Maria's three brothers credited Saint Maria's assistance, after her death, to having saved their lives.

Saint Maria was beatified by Pope Pius XII on 25 March 1945. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII on 24 June 1950. Both her mother, reportedly a first in the history of the Church, and Sereneli attended her canonization.


Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, 
strengthened by God's grace, 
did not hesitate even at the age of twelve 
to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself 
to defend your virginal purity, 
look graciously on the unhappy human race 
which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. 
Teach us all, and especially youth,w
ith what courage and promptitude 
we should flee for the love of Jesus 
anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. 
Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, 
comfort in the sorrows of life, 
and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee (for N.), 
and may we one day enjoy with thee 
the imperishable glory of Heaven. 


05 July 2010

Happy Independence Day!

5 JULY 2010. Although yesterday was Independence Day here in the United States, today it is observed as a federal holiday. I hope that one and all that find these pages from our shores had a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Here is a thought that was shared with us during the homily from yesterday's mass celebrating the fourteenth Sunday of ordinary time:

Freedom is not an end in itself, but only a means to an end. The end is loving and serving our Lord. If we use our freedom to concern ourselves with the ways of the world to the exclusion of following Christ (in the words of Saint Paul, "the desire[s] of the flesh" (Gal 5:16)), then we are not free. But we place ourselves in bondage to the world and sin and, ultimately, death. Exercising our freedom to serve God truly sets us free.

03 July 2010

Saint Thomas the Apostle

Lord Jesus, Saint Thomas doubted Your resurrection until he touched Your wounds. After Pentecost, You called him to become a missionary in India, but he doubted again and said no. He changed his mind only after being taken into slavery by a merchant who happened to be going to India. Once he was cured of his doubt, You freed him and he began the work You had called him to do. As the patron saint against doubt, I ask him to pray for me when I question the direction in which You are leading me. Forgive me for mistrusting You, Lord, and help me to grow from the experience. Saint Thomas, pray for me. Amen.Your resurrection until he touched Your wounds. After Pentecost, You called him to become a missionary in India, but he doubted again and said no. He changed his mind only after being taken into slavery by a merchant who happened to be going to India. Once he was cured of his doubt, You freed him and he began the work You had called him to do. As the patron saint against doubt, I ask him to pray for me when I question the direction in which You are leading me. Forgive me for mistrusting You, Lord, and help me to grow from the experience. Saint Thomas, pray for me. Amen.

IMAGE: the Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio.

30 June 2010

First Holy Martyrs of the Church of Rome

30 JUNE 2010. At the end of June, the Church celebrates the first holy martyrs of Rome, that received the crown of martyrdom under the persecution of the Church by Emporer Nero after the burning of Rome in A.D. 64. We hear of these holy martyrs from two principle sources: from the pagan writer Tacitus, in his Annales (15, 44), and from Pope Clement in his letter to the Corinthians (chapters 5 and 6).

Below are the legacies of these first holy martyrs:

 The Torches of Nero, Henryk Siemiradzki
Nero fastened the guilt [for the great fire of Rome] and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.

Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.
(Tacitus, Annales, 15, 44)

Let us leave behind the examples from times of old, and come to those who struggled closest to us; let us consider the noble models of our own generation. It was through jealousy and envy that the greatest and most upright pillars of the Church were persecuted and struggled unto death. Let us set before our eyes the good apostles. First of all, Peter, who because of unreasonable jealousy, suffered not merely once or twice but many times, and , having thus given his witness, went to the place of glory that he deserved. It was through jealousy and conflict that Paul showed the way to the prize for perseverance. He was put in chains seven times, sent into exile, and stoned; a herald both in the east and the west, he achieved a noble fame by his faith. He taught justice to all the world and, he gave his witness before those in authority; then he left this world and was taken up into the holy place, a superb example of endurance.

Around these men with their holy lives there gathered a great thong of the elect, who, though victims of jealousy, gave us the finest example of endurance in the midst of many indignities and tortures. Through jealousy women were tormented like Dirce or the daughters of Danaus, suffering terrible and unholy acts of violence. But they courageously finished the course of faith and despite their bodily weakness won a noble prize. It was jealousy that separated wives from husbands, and violated the words of our father Adam: This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. Jealousy and strife have overthrown cities and uprooted mighty nations.

We are writing this, beloved, not only for your admonition but also as a reminder to ourselves; for we are placed in the same arena, and the same contest lies before us. Hence we ought to put aside vain and useless concerns and go straight to the glorious and venerable norm which is our tradition, and we should consider what is good, pleasing and acceptable in the sight of him who made us. Let us fix our gaze on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to his Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world.
(Pope Clement I, Letter to the Corinthians, Liturgy of the Hours)


you sanctified the Church of Rome
with the blood of its first martyrs.
May we find strength from their courage
and rejoice in their triumph.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


28 June 2010

Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

29 JUNE 2010. Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the rock of the Church and preachers to the gentiles and, in fact, all the world.

Today is also the annual presentation of the pallium (image below) - given to each new metropolitan archbishop as a sign of his authority and his communion with his fellow bishops, and most importantly, the bishop of Rome.

In full, then, the Holy Father's homily from this morning.
Dear brothers and sisters!

The biblical texts of this Eucharistic Liturgy of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, in their great wealth, highlight a theme that could be summarized thus: God is close to his faithful servants and frees them from all evil, and frees the Church from negative powers. It is the theme of the freedom of the Church, which has a historical aspect and another more deeply spiritual one.

This theme runs through today's Liturgy of the Word. The first and second readings speak, respectively, of St Peter and St Paul, emphasizing precisely the liberating action of God in them. Especially the text from the Acts of the Apostles describes in abundant detail the intervention of the Angel of the Lord, who releases Peter from the chains and leads him outside the prison in Jerusalem, where he had been locked up, under close supervision, by King Herod (cf. at 12.1 to 11). Paul, however, writing to Timothy when he feels close to the end of his earthly life, takes stock which shows that the Lord was always near him and freed him from many dangers and frees him still by introducing him into His eternal Kingdom ( see 2 Tim 4, 6-8.17-18). The theme is reinforced by the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 33), and also finds a particular development in the Gospel of Peter's confession, where Christ promises that the powers of hell shall not prevail against his Church (cf. Mt 16:18).

Observing closely we note a certain progression regarding this issue. In the first reading a specific episode is narrated that shows the Lord's intervention to free Peter from prison. In the second Paul, on the basis of his extraordinary apostolic experience, is convinced that the Lord, who already freed him "from the mouth of the lion "delivers him" from all evil", by opening the doors of Heaven to him. In the Gospel we no longer speak of the individual Apostles, but the Church as a whole and its safekeeping from the forces of evil, in the widest and most profound sense. Thus we see that the promise of Jesus - "the powers of hell shall not prevail" on the Church – yes, includes the historical experience of persecution suffered by Peter and Paul and other witnesses of the Gospel, but it goes further, wanting to protect especially against threats of a spiritual order, as Paul himself writes in his Letter to the Ephesians: " For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens"(Eph 6:12).

Indeed, if we think of the two millennia of Church history, we can see that - as the Lord Jesus had announced (cf. Mt 10.16-33) – Christians have never been lacking in trials, which in some periods and places have assumed the character of real persecution. These, however, despite the suffering they cause, are not the greatest danger for the Church. In fact it suffers greatest damage from what pollutes the Christian faith and life of its members and its communities, eroding the integrity of the Mystical Body, weakening its ability to prophesy and witness, tarnishing the beauty of its face. This reality is already attested in the Pauline Epistle. The First Epistle to the Corinthians, for example, responds to some problems of divisions, inconsistencies, of infidelity to the Gospel which seriously threaten the Church. But the Second Letter to Timothy – of which we heard an excerpt - speaks about the dangers of the "last days", identifying them with negative attitudes that belong to the world and can infect the Christian community: selfishness, vanity, pride, love of money, etc. (cf. 3.1 to 5). The Apostle’s conclusion is reassuring: men who do wrong - he writes - "will not make further progress, for their foolishness will be plain to all" (3.9). There is therefore a guarantee of freedom promised by God to the Church, it is freedom from the material bonds that seek to prevent or coerce mission, both through spiritual and moral evils, which may affect its authenticity and credibility.

The theme of the freedom of the Church, guaranteed by Christ to Peter, also has a specific relevance to the rite of the imposition of the pallium, which we renew today for thirty-eight metropolitan archbishops, to whom I address my most cordial greeting, extending with it affection to all who have wanted to accompany them on this pilgrimage. Communion with Peter and his successors, in fact, is the guarantee of freedom for the Church's Pastors and the Communities entrusted to them. It is highlighted on both levels in the aforementioned reflections. Historically, union with the Apostolic See, ensures the particular Churches and Episcopal Conferences freedom with respect to local, national or supranational powers, that can sometimes hinder the mission of the ecclesial Church. Furthermore, and most essentially, the Petrine ministry is a guarantee of freedom in the sense of full adherence to truth and authentic tradition, so that the People of God may be preserved from mistakes concerning faith and morals. Hence the fact that each year the new Metropolitans come to Rome to receive the pallium from the hands of the Pope, must be understood in its proper meaning, as a gesture of communion, and the issue of freedom of the Church gives us a particularly important key for interpretation. This is evident in the case of churches marked by persecution, or subject to political interference or other hardships. But this is no less relevant in the case of communities that suffer the influence of misleading doctrines or ideological tendencies and practices contrary to the Gospel. Thus the pallium becomes, in this sense, a pledge of freedom, similar to the "yoke" of Jesus, that He invites us to take up, each on their shoulders (Mt 11:29-30). While demanding, the commandment of Christ is "sweet and light" and instead of weighing down on the bearer, it lifts him up, thus the bond with the Apostolic See – while challenging – sustains the Pastor and the portion of the Church entrusted to his care, making them freer and stronger.

I would like to draw a final point from the Word of God, in particular from Christ's promise that the powers of hell shall not prevail against his Church. These words may also have a significant ecumenical value, since, as I mentioned earlier, one of the typical effects of the Devil is division within the Church community. The divisions are in fact symptoms of the power of sin, which continues to act in members of the Church even after redemption. But the word of Christ is clear: " Non praevalebunt – it will not prevail" (Matt. 16:18). The unity of the Church is rooted in its union with Christ, and the cause of full Christian unity - always to be sought and renewed from generation to generation - is well supported by his prayer and his promise. In the fight against the spirit of evil, God has given us in Jesus the 'Advocate', defender, and after his Easter, "another Paraclete" (Jn 14:16), the Holy Spirit, which remains with us always and leads the Church into the fullness of truth (cf. Jn 14:16; 16:13), which is also the fullness of charity and unity. With these feelings of confident hope, I am pleased to greet the delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which, in the beautiful custom of reciprocal visits, participates in the celebrations of the patron saints of Rome. Together we thank God for progress in ecumenical relations between Catholics and Orthodox, and we renew our commitment to generously reciprocate to God's grace, which leads us to full communion.

Dear friends, I cordially greet all of you: Cardinals, Brother Bishops, Ambassadors and civil authorities, in particular the Mayor of Rome, priests, religious and lay faithful. Thank you for your presence. May the Saints Peter and Paul help you to grow in love for the holy Church, the Mystical Body of Christ the Lord and messenger of unity and peace for all men. May they also help you to offer the hardships and sufferings endured for fidelity to the Gospel with joy for her holiness and her mission. May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles and Mother of the Church, always watch over you and especially over the Ministry of metropolitan archbishops. With her heavenly help may you always live and act in that freedom that Christ has won for us. Amen.
  (Archbishop Wenski of Miami, Florida receives the pallium)

Saint Irenaeus

28 JUNE 2010. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of a Saint Irenaeus, a bishop and martyr of the early Church that dedicated himself to finding peace in the Church.

Saint Irenaeus was born around A.D. 130. He was educated in Symrna and became a disciple of Saint Polycarp, the bishop in that city (and, tradition tells, a disciple of Saint John the Apostle). During the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, in A.D. 177 Irenaeus was ordained a priest at Lyons and shortly after was ordained bishop of Lyons. He composed many works that defended the Catholic faith against the Gnostic heresy and other untruths, and it is believed that he received the martyr's crown in about A.D. 202.

Generally accepted as the most important of Saint Irenaeus' writings, Adversus Haereses ("Against Heresies") is a five volume refutation of the Gnostic heresy, that seeks to persuade, through reason and reliance on Holy Scripture, the error of Gnosticisim. Battling against heresy, Saint Irenaeus' writings also disclose that the true path to Scripture interpretation--to the oral teaching tradition of the Chruch--is only through the bishops of the Church.

Saint Irenaeus' theology centered on his teaching of the unity of Christ with the God the Father and the Holy Spirit, in contrast to the Gnostic beliefes that divided the nature of God. And, Saint Irenaeus was among the first of the Church fathers to develop a full mariology to explain and teach Mary's role in salvation history.


you called Saint Irenaeus to uphold your truth
and bring peace to your Church.
By his prayers renew us in faith and love
that we may always be intent
on fostering unity and peace.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


27 June 2010


27 JUNE 2010. Today the Church celebrates the thirteenth Sunday in ordinary time. Thus begins the summer vacation season, both here in the United States, and in the Vatican where the curia will take its yearly break and our Holy Father will retreat to Castel Gandolfo until September.

Today's readings can be found here.

A reflection will be posted later. Check back!

The focus of our lives must be loving our Lord, Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and serving the Holy Trinity with the devotion of our lives poured out for God. Today's readings provide for us the focus that our Christian lives should have.

The first reading from the First Book of Kings details Elijah's call to Elisha, his attendant. When Elisha puts off Elijah, to handle the matters that he thinks must be done before following Elijah, he endangers his fulfillment of his vocation. (1 Kgs 19:20) In the same vein, from the Gospel from Saint Luke, we hear the colloquy between Jesus and an unnamed interlocutor:
And to another [Jesus] said, “Follow me.”But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Jesus cautions the man to whom He is speaking to not let the affairs of the world get in the way of God's work ("Let the dead bury their dead . . ."), but exhorts him to follow Him by going out to "proclaim the kingdom of God."

So in both the Old Testament and the Gospel readings we see the tension between serving God and fulfilling our worldly obligations. And, we hear from Christ's mouth that serving Him is to be our focus. But, that does not mean that we should neglect our worldly obligations either.

A mother that neglects to feed her infant because she is consumed in prayer, is not truly serving the Lord. Each of us has a vocation that the Lord brings to light in our lives. Some of us are parents, and some are not, some of us are married and some are not. In each of our vocations, though, and in whatever call to further vocations we receive in our lives, we must remain open to serving the Lord, and to focus our lives in that respect.

For parents, we must love and care for our children and teach them our Catholic faith, by our words and our actions. Daily prayer with our children, weekly (or more frequent) mass attendance, discussion of the saints and the teachings of our faith--these are all examples of service given to the Lord to fulfill a vocation of Christian parenthood.

Do all that you do out of love and in adoration of the Lord.

Lift up your daily life for the Lord, in whatever vocation that you have. Bless the Lord by serving Him! Focus on that.

This focus is needed because our free will leaves us open to sin. We have been given the great gift of free will, but in that we are capable of closing ourselves off from God. Our will can be exercised even to deny God's existence or simply to live as though God does not exist. That is why, in today's second reading, we hear these words of Saint Paul:
For freedom Christ set us free . . . [b]ut do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh . . . live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.
So, we see that the "flesh"--the world--is not in-line with the Spirit, and, indeed, has not been since the time of Christ and His Apostles. Today's struggles of the faith against a faithless world is not new. That is why we must focus on serving the Lord. Only in serving God and following His commands do we live the freedom of our lives as we are destined to do by the Father and have been redeemed by the Son. Faithlessness, denial of God, living as though God does not exist, putting the Lord off to another day--all of these things keep us enslaved to the sin of selfishness. We are to focus on serving the Lord; serving ourselves entraps us in sin and death and rejects the freedom that Christ has won for us.

So, I pray that all of us will live in the Spirit--live in the freedom of Christ--serving our Lord and one another as Christ Jesus taught us; and those who are enslaved to sin and world will, by the grace of God the Holy Spirit, experience a true conversion of life. And, I pray that each of us will experience that same conversion to Christ each and every day--continually turning ourselves to Christ and recommitting to live in the freedom of the Spirit that has been so generously poured out upon us.

Five Fold Scapular Dressing Prayer

(To be said as you place the scapular across your shoulders, before dressing, at the beginning of each day.)

Holy Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ,
save us.
Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
protect us.
Holy Trinity,
we adore Thee.
Holy Mary, ever virgin Mother of God,
we venerate Thee and throw ourselves
under the mercy of the protection
of Your intercession.


24 June 2010

Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

24 JUNE 2010. On today's Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, a prayer:

O God, 
You raised up St. John the Baptist 
to prepare a perfect people for Christ. 
Fill Your people with the joy of possessing His grace, 
and direct the minds of all the faithful 
in the way of peace and salvation.

Grant that as St. John was martyred for truth and justice, 

so we may energetically profess our Faith in You, 
and lead others to the Way, the Truth, and Eternal Life. 


23 June 2010

The Holy Father's Catecheses Continued: Saint Thomas Aquinas

23 JUNE 2010. Today the Holy Father concluded the third of his catecheses on Saint Thomas Aquinas. Highlights of his second catechesis in the series can be found here, and the first can be found here. From the Vatican Information Service, we receive this report:
The Holy Father explained how St. Thomas' masterpiece, the "Summa Theologica", contains 512 questions and 2,669 articles in which the saint "precisely, clearly and pertinently" outlines the truths of faith as they emerge from "the teachings of Holy Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church, especially St. Augustine". This exertion "of the human mind was always illuminated - as St. Thomas' own life shows - by prayer, by the light that comes from on high.

"In his 'Summa'", the Pope added, "St. Thomas starts from the fact that God exists in three different ways: God exists in Himself, He is the principle and end of all things, so all creatures come from and depend upon Him. Secondly, God is present through His Grace in the life and activity of Christians, of the saints. Finally, God is present in a very special way in the person of Christ, and in the Sacraments which derive from His work of redemption".

"St. Thomas dedicates special attention to the mystery of the Eucharist, to which he was particularly devoted", said Benedict XVI, encouraging people "to follow the example of the saints and love this Sacrament. Let us participate devotedly in Mass in order to obtain its spiritual fruits; let us feed from the Body and Blood of the Lord that we may be incessantly nourished by divine Grace; let us pause willingly and often in the company of the Blessed Sacrament".

The Holy Father went on: "What St. Thomas explained with academic rigour in his main theological works such as the ' Summa Theologica' was also expressed in his preaching", the content of which "corresponds almost in its entirety to the structure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Indeed, in a time such as our own of renewed commitment to evangelisation, catechism and preaching must never lack the following fundamental themes: what we believe, i.e., the Creed; what we pray, i.e., the Our Father and the Ave Maria; and what we live as biblical revelation teaches us, i.e., the law of the love of God and neighbour and the Ten Commandments".

"In his brief 'Devotissima expositio super symbolum apostolorum', St. Thomas explains the importance of faith. Through it, he says, the soul is united to God, ... life is given a clear direction and we can easily overcome temptations. To those who object that faith is foolish because it makes us believe something that does not enter into the experience of the senses, St. Thomas offers a very detailed response, claiming that this is an inconsistent objection because human intelligence is limited and cannot know everything.

"Only if we were able to have perfect knowledge of all things visible and invisible would it be foolish to accept truth out of pure faith", said the Pope. "Moreover, as St. Thomas observes, it is impossible to live without entrusting ourselves to the experience of others, when our personal knowledge does not extend far enough. Thus it is reasonable to have faith in God Who reveals Himself, and in the witness of the Apostles".

Commenting on the article of the Creed concerning the incarnation of the Divine Word, St. Thomas says that "the Christian faith is reinforced in the light of the mystery of the Incarnation; hope emerges more trustingly at the thought that the Son of God came among us as one of us, to communicate His divinity to mankind; charity is revived because there is no more evident sign of God's love for us than to see the Creator of the universe Himself become a creature", said the Holy Father.

"St. Thomas, like all saints, was greatly devoted to the Blessed Virgin", Pope Benedict concluded. "He gave her a stupendous title: 'Triclinium totius Trinitatis'; in other words, the place where the Trinity finds repose because, thanks to the Incarnation, the three divine persons dwell in her as in no other creature, and experience the delight and joy of living in her soul full of Grace. Through her intercession we can obtain any kind of help".
AG/ VIS 20100623 (720)

Blessed Innocent V

23 JUNE 2010. Today the Dominican Order remembers the feast day of Blessed Innocent V, friar and pope.

Pope Blessed Innocent V (Petrus A. Tarentasia) was the first of the Dominican Order to ascend to the papal throne. Born in about A.D. 1225 at, what is today, southeastern France, Blessed Innocent V joined the Dominican Order at a young age and gained fame as a preacher.

Joining the Dominican Order at the age of 16, Blessed Innocent V, graduated from the University of Paris as a Master of Sacred Theology in A.D. 1259. At the University of Paris he won great distinction and was sometimes referred to at the institution as the most famous doctor (Doctor famosissimus). He collaborated with Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Albert the Great to develop a rule of study for the Dominican Order.

After a period as the Dominican Provincial in France, Tarentasia became Archbishop of Lyons in A.D. 1272 and Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia in A.D. 1273. He played a prominent role in the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyons, at which he delivered two discourses to the assembled council fathers and delivered the funeral oration for Saint Bonaventure.

After the death of Gregory X, Tarentasia was elected Pope on 21 January 1276, and took the name Innocent V. His papal motto was "My eyes are ever toward the Lord." But, Blessed Innocent V had a very short pontificate, dying just more than six months later on 22 June 1276. In  his short pontificate, he worked to restore union with the Eastern Church. He is the author of a number of scholarly works in philosophy, theology, and canon law, including a series of commentaries on the Letters of Saint Paul and his principle work, the "Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard."

Blessed Innocent V was beatified in A.D. 1898.


God of truth,
you bestowed on Blessed Innocent
the gifts of knowledge and prudence
and made him a promoter of peace and unity.
By the help of his prayers
may we cherish what is of heaven
and in perfect unity follow what is right.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


21 June 2010

This from the College World Series . . .

FSU defeats UF 8-5. GO NOLES!

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

21 JUNE 2010. Today the Church remembers the feast day of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, a sixteenth century Jesuit who is venerated for his poverty of spirit, despite a noble heritage, and his purity of heart in serving the Lord.

Saint Aloysius was born to noble parents on 9 March 1568 at his family's castle in Castiglione delle Stiviere in the northern Italian Papal States. His father wanted him to be a soldier, and his training for warfare began at an early age, but Saint Aloysius was also schooled in other subjects, such as languages. At the age of 8 he was sent with his brother to Florence to serve in the court of Grand Duke Francesco I de'Medici. While he was there, Saint Aloysius suffered from a kidney ailment that would aggravate him for the rest of his life. During his illnes, Saint Aloysius spent a great deal of time in prayer, and it is said that he took a secret vow of chastity at the age of 9. In November 1579, Saint Aloysius and his brother were sent to the Duke of Mantua, where he was shocked by the violent and frivolous lifestyle he encountered.

Returning home to Castiglione in A.D. 1580, Saint Aloysius met Cardinal Charles Borromeo who gave him first communion on 22 July 1580. After reading a book about Jesuit missionaries, Saint Aloysius became determined to become a missionary and began practicing by studying the Catechism and teaching it to other boys during the summers. He then set his heart on becoming a priest, but his life was in constant motion as Saint Aloysius and his family moved to Spain and then back to Italy. However, determined to become a priest, Aloysius' mother finally relented to his joining the Jesuits, but his father was furious. Even his family tried to dissuade him from the priesthood, and especially from a religious order, because he would have to give up all rights to his inheritance and noble status.

However, in November 1585 Saint Aloysius did renounce his noble birthright and inheritance and went to Rome to join the Society of Jesus. On 25 November 1585, he was accepted into the Jesuit Roman novitiate after an audience with Pope Sixtus V (which Aloysius gained due to his noble status). Once in the novitiate, the Jesuits asked Aloysius to moderate his ascetic practices to better be a part of the community with the other novitiates.

During this novitiate period Saint Aloysius' ill health still dogged him. He continued to suffer from the kidney malady, but also from a skin disease, insomnia, and chronic headaches.He was sent to Milan for a time for his studies, but had to return to Rome because of poor health. On 25 November 1587 Saint Aloysius took three vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. In February and March of A.D. 1588 he received minor orders and soon thereafter began his theology studies for the priesthood.

In A.D. 1589 he was called to Mantua to mediate a dispute between his brother Ridolfo and the Duke of Mantua. He returned to Rome in May 1590, and later in the year received a vision from the Archangel Gabriel that he would die within a year.

In A.D. 1591 the plague hit Rome, and the Jesuits opened a hospital to treat its victims. Saint Aloysius volunteered to serve in the hospital, but afraid of losing him, the Jesuits confined Aloysius' work to a ward that was supposed to serve those who did not suffer from the plague. However, it turned out that one of the patients in Aloysius' care did suffer from plague and on 3 March 1951 (just shy of his 23rd birthday) Saint Aloysius began to show symptoms of plague. To everyone's surprise, Aloysius did not succumb immediately, but his ill health continued to deteriorate. After another vision from the Archangel Gabriel he learned that he would die on the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi. On that day he seemed very well in the morning, but insisted that he would die before the day's end. He received the last sacraments from his confessor, Cardinal Bellarmine, and recited the prayers of the dying. Just before midnight on 21 June 1591, Saint Aloysius was born to eternal life in Christ. Tradition tells that the last word he spoke was the Holy Name of Jesus.

His most notable virtue was purity, and it was said that he did not even look at his queen, but recognized her by the sound of her voice. So great was the community's belief in his holiness that he was venerated as a saint soon after his death. Just 14 years after his death Saint Aloysius was beatified by Pope Paul V on 19 October 1605. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII on 31 December 1726.


O blessed Aloysius,
adorned with angelic virtues,
I thy most unworthy suppliant recommend specially to thee
the chastity of my soul and body,
praying thee by thy angelic purity to plead for me
with Jesus Christ the Immaculate Lamb, 

and His most Holy Mother,
Virgin of virgins, that they would vouchsafe
to keep me from all grievous sin.
Never suffer me to be defiled with any stain of impurity;
but when thou dost see me in temptation,
or in danger of falling,
then remove far from my mind all evil thoughts 

and unclean desires,
and awaken in me the memory of eternity to come,
and of Jesus crucified;
impress deeply in my heart a sense of the holy fear of God;
and kindling in me the fire of Divine love,
enable me so to follow thy footsteps here on earth,
that in heaven I may be made worthy to enjoy with thee
the vision of our God for ever.