24 March 2012

5 June

According to the Diocese of Orlando website, the ordination and installation for Bishop-elect Parkes to the See of Pensacola-Tallahassee has been set for 5 June 2012. Location is still to be announced.

If I may humbly offer, Bishop-elect Parkes being an FSU grad, the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More would be a wonderful locale!

Saint Catherine of Sweden

24 MARCH 2012. Today is the commemoration of Saint Catherine of Sweden (or Catherine of Vadstena).

Catherine was born near the beginning of the fourteenth century to parents Ulfo and the better known Saint Bridget of Sweden. At the age of seven, Catherine was sent to the Abbey at Risburgh by her parents and placed under the care of the abbess to receive an education and to build a foundation for her spiritual life.

At the age of 13, Catherine was taken from the abbey and given in marriage to Eggert van Kyren, a German nobleman. Upon meeting Eggert, Catherine persuaded him to make a mutual vow of perpetual chastity with her. Catherine and Eggert dedicated themselves to the service of God and encouraged each other in works of mortification, prayer, and charity.

Around the year A.D. 1349, after the death of her father, Catherine accompanied her mother on a pilgrimage to Rome to visit the relics of the Roman Martyrs. Soon after arriving in Rome, Saint Catherine received word of the death of her husband. Afterwards she wrote a devotional work entitled, Consolation of the Soul, a copy of which from A.D. 1407 is still in existence today.

Saint Catherine and her mother spent several years living in Rome. In A.D. 1373 Saint Bridget died and Catherine returned to Sweden with her mother's body. Two years later, Catherine returned to Rome to promote the cause for her mother's canonization and to gain approval for a rule she had written for a group of religious women.

After gaining approval for her rule, Catherine returned to Sweden and became abbess of Vadzstena. Catherine served as abbess of Vadzstena until her death in A.D. 1381. During the final 25 years of her life, Catherine was known for her austere lifestyle and her practice of making daily use of the Sacrament of Confession.

St. Catherine was canonized in A.D. 1484 by Pope Pius II. She is the patron saint for protection against abortion and miscarriage.

Saint Catherine of Sweden pray for us!

20 March 2012

Statement of Bishop-elect Parkes

20 MARCH 2012. A busy day today in the Church and in our little corner of the Southeastern United States. Below is a statement of Bishop-elect Parkes on his elevation to the See of Pensacola-Tallahassee, announced at Roman noon today.

Prayer for Bishop-elect Parkes

All readers, please join me in this prayer for our new bishop.

Our Lord in Heaven,
again you have blessed our church with a pastor of souls.
Guide him and keep him in this ministry,
provide for him true wisdom, to know You and teach Your Word,
strength to persevere in the difficulties of administration,
hope to always rest in docility to Your Holy and Divine Will, 
love for his flock of believers,
attentiveness to see the needs of our church,
zeal for the salvation of all souls,
meekness to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles
and of Christ with true humility,
and faithfulness to You, our Lord and God.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Divine Will
and most chaste spouse of the Holy Spirit, provide for
Bishop-elect Parkes by her powerful and saving intercession.


Bishop-elect Gregory Lawrence Parkes

20 MARCH 2012. Today the church in Pensacola-Tallahassee has seen its prayers answered in the naming of a new bishop. It was made known today that the Holy Father has appointed a "Disney graduate"  and FSU alum as our new bishop.

Father Gregory Parkes, 48, Vicar General and Chancellor for Canonical Affairs for the Diocese of Orlando and pastor of Corpus Christi parish in Celebration, Florida, has been raised to the see of Pensacola-Tallahassee by the Holy Father.

According to the diocesan website, Bishop-elect Parkes was born April 2, 1964 in Mineola, NY. He attended St. Rose of Lima School in Massapequa, NY, Massapequa High School and Daytona Beach Community College before earning a bachelors degree in finance from Florida State University. GO NOTLES! Prior to entering the seminary he worked in the banking industry in Tampa, Florida. He attended St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida from 1993-1996 and the Pontifical North American College in the Vatican City State from 1996-2000. He holds a Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University (1998) and a Canon Law (J.C.L.) degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University (2000). He was ordained a priest of the Orlando diocese by Bishop Norbert Dorsey on June 26, 1999.

Assignments after ordination included parochial vicar, Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando from 2000-2004 and parochial administrator and pastor of Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Celebration, Florida, from 2005-present.

In addition to serving as vicar general and chancellor for canonical affairs for the Orlando diocese, Bishop-elect Parkes has also served at the diocesan level on the College of Consultors, the Finance Committee, the Priest Placement Board, the Presbyteral Council, and the Incardination Committee. He serves on the Board of Trustees of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who has served the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee as apostolic administrator since the retirement of Bishop John H. Ricard in March 2011 due to health reasons, said of Bishop-elect Parkes:
Bishop-elect Parkes served me well in a variety of capacities when I was the Bishop of Orlando. The Holy Father has made an excellent choice in Bishop-elect Parkes, he is a good priest and a holy man. I am confident that he will serve the people of Pensacola-Tallahassee well whom I have grown very fond of during my year as their Apostolic Administrator. As Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Miami, I look forward to Bishop-elect Parkes' future ministry here in Florida as a successor to the Apostles.

19 March 2012

Rumors swirl

19 MARCH 2012. Rumors swirled this evening in Tallahassee, the solemnity of St. Joseph, that tomorrow will offer a new bishop to steer the helm of the church of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

Of note, there is studied speculation that the new bishop will be a priest long familiar with this stretch of the Sunbelt. Pray!


Heavenly Father, 
You have blessed our diocese time and again 
with good and holy bishops 
who have led us ever closer to you. 
Aware of your profound love for us, 
we ask you to bless us once again. 
Send us a good and holy man 
to become our next bishop. 
Inspire us, the clergy, religious and the laity 
of the diocese to work generously with him 
so that we might grow together in your love 
and continue the good work you have begun in us 
for the sake of all. 
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God forever and ever.


12 March 2012

Contemplare et Contemplata aliis Tradere

12 MARCH 2012. To contemplate, and hand over the fruits of that contemplation. So goes the beautiful Latin motto of the Order of Preachers: "Contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere." 

Silence. Contemplation. To take time out for God, for the sake of God. There is no time of the liturgical year better suited to a focus on contemplation than Lent. And, so, a few days ago the Holy Father, during his general audience, gave us a true gem on silence and its role in authentic prayer.
Dear brothers and sisters,

In a previous series of catecheses I spoke about the prayer of Jesus, and I would not wish to conclude this reflection without briefly pausing to consider the theme of Jesus’ silence, which is so important in our relationship with God.

In the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, I made reference to the role that silence assumes in the life of Jesus, especially on Golgotha: “Here we find ourselves before the "word of the cross" (1 Corinthians 1:18). The word is muted; it becomes mortal silence, for it has "spoken" exhaustively, holding back nothing of what it had to tell us (n. 12). Faced with this silence of the cross, St. Maximus the Confessor places upon the lips of the Mother of God this touching phrase: "Wordless is the Word of the Father, who made every creature which speaks; lifeless are the eyes of the one at whose word and whose nod all living things move". (The Life of Mary, no. 89: Marian texts of the first millennium, 2, Rome 1989, p. 253).

The cross of Christ not only portrays the silence of Jesus as His final word to the Father; it also reveals that God speaks through the silence: “The silence of God, the experience of the distance of the almighty Father, is a decisive stage in the earthly journey of the Son of God, the incarnate Word. Hanging from the wood of the cross, he lamented the suffering caused by that silence: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46). Advancing in obedience to his very last breath, in the obscurity of death, Jesus called upon the Father. He commended himself to him at the moment of passage, through death, to eternal life: ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’ (Luke 23:46)” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 21). The experience of Jesus on the cross speaks deeply of the situation of the man who prays and of the culmination of prayer: after having heard and acknowledged God’s Word, we must also measure ourselves by God’s silence, which is an important expression of the same divine Word.
"Silence is capable of excavating an interior space in our inmost depths so that God may abide there . . . ."
The interplay of word and silence that marks the prayer of Jesus during his entire earthly life -- especially on the cross -- also touches our own lives of prayer, in two ways. The first concerns our welcoming of God’s Word. Interior and exterior silence are necessary in order that this word may be heard. And this is especially difficult in our own day. In fact, ours is not an age which fosters recollection; indeed, at times one has the impression that people have a fear of detaching themselves, even for a moment, from the barrage of words and images that mark and fill our days. For this reason, in the already mentioned Exhortation Verbum Domini, I recalled the necessity of our being educated in the value of silence: “Rediscovering the centrality of God's word in the life of the Church also means rediscovering a sense of recollection and inner repose. The great patristic tradition teaches us that the mysteries of Christ all involve silence. Only in silence can the word of God find a home in us, as it did in Mary, woman of the word and, inseparably, woman of silence” (n. 21).
This principle – that without silence we neither hear nor listen nor receive the word – applies above all to personal prayer, but it also pertains to our liturgies: in order to facilitate an authentic listening, they must also be rich in moments of silence and unspoken receptivity. St. Augustine’s observation forever holds true: Verbo crescente, verba deficient -- “When the Word of God increases, the words of men fail” (cf. Sermon 288; 5: PL 38, 1307; Sermon 120,2: PL 38,677). The Gospels often present Jesus -- especially at times of crucial decisions -- withdrawing alone to a place set apart from the crowds and from his own disciples, in order to pray in the silence and to abide in his filial relationship with God. Silence is capable of excavating an interior space in our inmost depths so that God may abide there, so that his Word may remain in us, so that love for him may be rooted in our minds and in our hearts and animate our lives. The first way, then: to learn silence, [to learn] the openness to listening that opens us to the other, to the Word of God.

However, there is a second important element in the relation of silence with prayer. For in fact there exists not only our silence, which disposes us to listening to God’s Word; often in our prayer, we find ourselves before the silence of God; we experience a sense of abandonment; it seems to us that God is not listening and that He does not respond. But this silence of God - as Jesus also experienced - is not a sign of His absence. The Christian knows well that the Lord is present and that he is listening, even in the darkness of suffering, rejection and solitude. Jesus reassures the disciples and each one of us that God knows well our needs at every moment of life. He teaches the disciples: “In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:7-8): an attentive, silent, open heart is more important than many words.
"[T]he more we are open to His silence and to our silence, the more we begin to know Him truly."
God knows us intimately, more deeply than we know ourselves, and He loves us: and knowing this should suffice. In the Bible, Job’s experience is particularly significant in this regard. This man quickly loses everything: family, wealth, friends, health; it seems that God’s attitude towards him is precisely one of abandonment, of total silence. And yet Job, in his relationship with God, speaks with God, cries out to God; in his prayer, despite everything, he preserves his faith intact and, in the end, he discovers the value of his experience and of God’s silence. And thus, in the end, turning to his Creator, he is able to conclude: “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee” (Job 42:5): nearly all of us know God only through hearsay, and the more we are open to His silence and to our silence, the more we begin to know Him truly. This supreme confidence, which opens way to a profound encounter with God, matures in silence. St Francis Severio prayed, saying to the Lord: I love you, not because you can give me heaven or condemn me to hell, but because you are my God. I love You, because You are You.
* * * *
The prayer of Jesus indicates to us who are often preoccupied by the efficiency of our work and the concrete results we achieve that we need to stop and to experience moments of intimacy with God, “detaching ourselves” from the daily din in order to listen, to go to the “root” that supports and nourishes life. One of the most beautiful moments in the prayer of Jesus is precisely the moment when he -- in order to face the disease, distress and limitations of his interlocutors -- turns to his Father in prayer, thus teaching those around him where the source of hope and salvation is to be sought.

I already recalled the moving example of Jesus’ prayer at the tomb of Lazarus. The Evangelist John recounts: “So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” (John 11:41-43).

But Jesus reaches the heights of the depth of his prayer to the Father during his Passion and Death, when he pronounces his supreme “yes” to the plan of God and reveals how the human will finds its fulfillment precisely in adhering fully to the divine will, rather than the opposite. In Jesus’ prayer, in his cry to the Father on the Cross, “all the troubles, for all time, of humanity enslaved by sin and death, all the petitions and intercessions of salvation history are summed up … Here the Father accepts them and, beyond all hope, answers them beyond all hope, answers them by raising his Son. Thus is fulfilled and brought to completion the drama of prayer in the economy of creation and salvation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2606).

Dear brothers and sisters, with trust let us ask the Lord to enable to live out the journey of our filial prayer, by learning day by day from the Only Begotten Son made man for us how to turn to God. The words of St. Paul on the Christian life apply also to our own prayer: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

11 March 2012

One for Pensacola-Tallahassee?

11 MARCH 2012. In recent weeks, these shores have seen two of the stateside sees receive new bishops in Baker, Oregon and Galveston-Houston. This leaves the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee as the longest standing vacancy stateside, and considering the recent attention to these United States by the Holy Father in naming bishops, let us re-double our prayer efforts for a good and holy bishop here in our little corner of the world in lower Alabama-south Georgia.


Heavenly Father, 
You have blessed our diocese time and again 
with good and holy bishops 
who have led us ever closer to you. 
Aware of your profound love for us, 
we ask you to bless us once again. 
Send us a good and holy man 
to become our next bishop. 
Inspire us, the clergy, religious and the laity 
of the diocese to work generously with him 
so that we might grow together in your love 
and continue the good work you have begun in us 
for the sake of all. 
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God forever and ever.


05 March 2012

Prayers for the Victims of the U.S. Tornadoes

5 MARCH 2012. Last week hundreds of tornadoes broke out in a large storm that raced across large swaths of the Midwest and Southern United States. In these storms 39 people are known to have died, and many hundreds and thousands have lost their homes.

Please pray for all those who died and who have been traumatized by the storms. Pray that this destructive force of nature will be even more that equaled by the calming and healing hand of God.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.


Prayer for Government Leaders

God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
through you authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.
Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
the President and other government leaders of these United States.
May they always seek
the ways of righteousness, justice and mercy.
Grant that they may be enabled by your powerful protection
to lead our country with honesty and integrity.
We ask this through Christ our Lord


A Georgetown Activist Goes to Congress. God Help Us!

4 MARCH 2012. This is personal opinion. Ms. Fluke's comments made before House Democratic leaders that Georgetown University's failure to provide contraceptive coverage through its student health insurance is unfair to women - and, thus, should be remedied in law -- is an appalling statement that should not seriously be considered by anyone as a matter of establishing public policy. Let's be clear, Ms. Fluke's testimony did not really address the availability of drugs for women that have a contraceptive effect, but are intended primarily for non-contraceptive purposes. (Although, she did use as an example a case of polycystic ovary syndrome.) No. Ms. Fluke's testimony was that it is unfair that a female Georgetown law student would have to spend $3,000 of her own money over the course of a three year law school education on oral contraceptives. Her point is that the Obama administration's mandate on religiously affiliated institutions to require coverage for contraceptives is right.

Wrong. The mandate is wrong. Ms. Fluke is wrong.

Georgetown University is a Catholic university. The first and foremost role of a Catholic university is to be Catholic. Some Catholic universities are highly regarded and among the academic elite institutions in our country. That does not mean that those institutions, including Georgetown and Notre Dame, have any less of a responsibility to be--first and foremost--Catholic. God knows there are enough amoral, anything-goes-in-the-name-of-academic-freedom universities that enjoy the accolades of those considered (by themselves and sometimes others) as the academic or intellectual elite.

Georgetown University is Catholic. It should be affirmed as Catholic.

If a student is not Catholic, she or he must accept the fact that the institution he or she is considering attending is Catholic in deciding whether to matriculate there. If later that student comes to odds with the institution because the institution is, indeed, Catholic, that student is free to go elsewhere.

Democrats have tried to turn opposition to the HHS mandate into a debate over so-called reproductive health, and some have said that the issue, in fact, has nothing to do with religious freedom. Those who push these dishonest views are partisans--pure and simple. That line of argument, disingenuous and wrong as it may be, is designed to do nothing more that paint the Church as mean and anti-woman. This incredible argument seeks to paint conservatives as mean and anti-woman. Not true. Not true. Not true.

This debate has everything to do with religious freedom. This is not a debate over what coverages Wal-Mart must offer in its employee health plans. This is a debate over what coverages the Church and its institutions must offer, or pay for its insurance carriers to provide, as a part of its employee health plans. The Church's position on contraception, abortion, sterilization and the like could not be more clear. (Scandalously, Representative Pelosi disregards these fundamental teachings on the dignity of human life and human sexuality in the name of her personal agenda of choice.)

These issues are fundamentally moral issues. The Church has the right to speak to moral issues and it has done so courageously for 2,000 years. The Church affirms the dignity of all people, men and women alike. To say the Church is anti-woman is plain ignorance (or outright bigotry). There is no institution in the world that more steadfastly affirms the dignity of women, as women--created in the image and likeness of God.

Of course, this opinion piece cannot escape discussing the comments of Rush Limbaugh. Rush's comments about Ms. Fluke were also wrong: dead wrong. His crass and degrading comments lacked Christian charity and were obviously intended to incite the partisan emotions of his listeners, not address the truth of the matter. Rush has apologized, as he should, but social conservatives should take care to condemn the lack of charity being shown Ms. Fluke and stick to the issue: the HHS mandate is an unconstitutional abridgment of religious freedom.

The HHS mandate is extreme.

The HHS mandate is wrong.

02 March 2012

Christ our Contemporary

1 MARCH 2012. Form a message sent by the Holy Father today:
We cannot entrust our lives to an indefinite superior body or to a cosmic force, but to God Whose face as Father has been made familiar by the Son, 'full of grace and truth'. Jesus is the key that opens the door of wisdom and love to us, that dispels our loneliness and keeps hope alive in the face of the mystery of evil and death. The life of Jesus of Nazareth, in Whose name many believers in various countries of the world today still face suffering and persecution, cannot therefore be confined to a distant past but is crucial to our faith today.
 Christ. The same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The image of His holy face, humbled to accept abuse, rebuke, and the thorns of His crown for our sins - for my sin. This image is the same for all of us: everywhere and for all times. For Christ did not come at a  point in history, leaving us to await His return, while longing for Him in His absence. No. Christ is here today in the Eucharist. He gives us Himself each day afresh. He provides for you and I now, today, here. Christ is our contemporary. We know Him and He knows us in His Church, in the sacrifice of his Holy Eucharist, in our coming to Him each day.