Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Family: A Reflection of the Holy Trinity

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Trinity.  In this Diocesan Marian Year, it is a wonderful opportunity to reflection on how Marriage and the Family is truly, by God's design, a reflection of the inner life of the Holy Trinity.
The USCCB’s pastoral letter entitled, “Marriage – Love and Life in the Divine Plan” comments on this:

“First, like the Persons of the Trinity, marriage is a communion of love between co-equal persons, beginning with that between husband and wife and then extending to all members of the family…. This communion of life-giving love is witnessed within the life of the family, where parents and children, brothers and sisters, grandparents and relatives are called to live in loving harmony with one another and to provide mutual support to one another…. These relations among the persons in communion simultaneously distinguish them from one another and unite them to one another…. Therefore, just as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinctly who they are only in relation to one another, so a man and a woman are distinctly who they are as husband and wife only in relation to one another. At the same time, in a way analogous to the relations among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which unites the three persons as one God, the inter-relationship of the husband and wifmake them one as a married couple…. The Trinitarian image in marriage and family life can be seen in a second way. Just as the Trinity of persons is a life-giving communion of live both in relationship to one another and to the whole of creation, so a married couple shares in this life-giving communion of love by together procreating children in the conjugal act of love…” (pgs. 36-37)

What a beautiful theology of marriage. I wonder how many people, when they married,  plumbed the depths of this at all. Those who live within the sacrament of marriage over a period of time begin in some way to experience what is being described here, and I suspect even those who live without the benefits of the sacrament, although faithfully and respectfully to each other, also catch a glimpse at least of this Trinitarian experience.

As a priest, I see on an almost daily basis the worst of marital situations. It is not easy to appreciate the depth of marital spirituality when faced with marital relationships marked by abuse, neglect, alcohol and drugs, infidelity or plain simple immaturity of persons. But when I speak to some who have lost their spouses through abandonment, death or betrayal, it can amaze me the depth of the bond they can and do experience.

Let us pray that when we gaze on the face of our husband or wife, we recognize the face of God, and in love completely give ourselves to him or her. In this way of loving, to which we are called, life is born, the Church renewed, and an openness to others in a spirit of hospitality and warmth is created.

Children also play a role in this reflection of the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is the outpouring of love between the Father and the Son (theologically called "spiration").  The Father and the Son love each other so much, that his love has to take shape in another Person - the Holy Spirit.  Children are a reflection of this - as they are the result of the total gift of self to the spouse.  Children are born out of a loving, sexual act - thus becoming forth from the love between husband and wife.   This is, theologically, the root of the Church's teaching on married love and why sexuality, and children, belong only within the confines of Marriage - because they truly are a reflection of the Holy Trinity.
As, during this Marian Year, we celebrate and reflect on the mystery which is the Holy Trinity, let us ask Mary's intercession:

That through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the sacred institution of Marriage will be protected in our nation and that our families will be strengthened to radiate the joy of God’s love - seen in the Most Holy Trinity.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trip to Nebraska

As I mentioned, I'll be flying to Nebraska early Friday morning to represent the parish at Deacon Rolling's Ordination on Saturday morning.

While I'm away, here is the Mass Schedule:

Friday, May 28, 8am - Mass with Fr. Carolin
Saturday, May 29, 8am - NO MASS

Weekend Masses - Saturday: Fr. Kauffman; Sunday: Fr. Carolin

Monday, May 31 - 8am - Fr. Steffan

Please remember to keep (soon to be Father) Rolling in your prayers this weekend.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Celebration of Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (16:8).  It is the 50th day after Easter (if we count both Easter and Pentecost), and it supplants the Jewish feast of Pentecost, which took place 50 days after the Passover and which celebrated the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai. 

The Acts of the Apostles recounts the story of the original Pentecost as well (Acts 2).  Jews from all over were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast.   On that Sunday, ten days after our Lord's Ascension, the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary were gathered in the Upper Room, where they had seen Christ after His Resurrection:
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.  [Acts 2:2-4]
Christ had promised His Apostles that He would sent His Holy Spirit, and, on Pentecost, they were granted the gifts of the Spirit.  The Apostles began to preach the Gospel in all of the languages that the Jews who were gathered there spoke, and about 3,000 people were converted and baptized that day.

That is why Pentecost is often called "the birthday of the Church."  On this day, with the descent of the Holy Spirit, Christ's mission is completed, and the New Covenant is inaugurated.   It's interesting to note that St. Peter, the first pope, was already the leader and spokesman for the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday (see Acts 2:14ff).

In years past, Pentecost was celebrated with greater solemnity than it is today.  In fact, the entire period between Easter and Pentecost Sunday was known as Pentecost (and it still is called Pentecost in the Eastern churches, both Catholic and Orthodox).  During those 50 days, both fasting and kneeling were strictly forbidden, because this period was supposed to give us a foretaste of the life of Heaven.  In more recent times, parishes celebrated the approach of Pentecost with the public recitation of the Novena to the Holy Ghost.

In our parish of Saint Andrew we began our celebration of Pentecost with a Vigil - an extended celebration of Mass which included 4 readings from the Old Testament, then 2 from the new - but no stories of "upper rooms" or "wind" or "tongues of fire."  The purpose of this Vigil is to gather in prayer - awaiting the outpouring of the Spirit, as did the Apostles and Mary in that Upper Room.  We pray that this Pentecost, the Lord will send the Holy Spirit into our lives and into our parish, to "renew the face of the earth."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Father Bateman Celebrates 14th Anniversary

On Tuesday, May 18, the Daily Mass Group hosted a brunch for Father Bateman celebrating his 14th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.  What a great way to celebrate!  Thanks to all for your well wishes and congratulations and prayers!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saint Andrew School Art Auction & Ice Cream Social

This evening Saint Andrew School held a wonderful art auction.  The fantastic artwork of our students was displayed for all to see - and bid on.  Many of the original works of art were built on themes of famous paintings or artists - some Van Gogh blue period artwork; some modern interpretations of the Mona Lisa; some Monet; all wonderful works of art by our students.  Parents and friends were able to bid on each work of art in a silent auction.  I saw some pretty fierce bidding going on for some artwork.  All the proceeds benefit the art program of the school.

While much of the bidding was going on, everyone was served ice cream, donated by Mr. & Mrs. McGarity and the Waynesboro Subway.  Thanks for helping us have such a wonderful evening!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Seminary Class of 2010

The Washington Post published a fine article today on the priesthood class of 2010 at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary - among those interviewed is our own Deacon Rolling.  What a fine article about the priesthood in the midst of difficult times... Read the article online.

Choosing of Matthias - Choosing our New Bishop

How Does One Qualify to be an Apostle?
The first thing the apostles after the Ascension of the Lord was to find a replacement for Judas.  With all the questions, doubts, and dangers facing them, they chose to focus their attention on finding a twelfth apostle.   Why was this important?  Twelve was a very important number to the Chosen People: twelve was the number of the twelve tribes of Israel.  If the new Israel was to come from the disciples of Jesus, a twelfth apostle was needed.

But Jesus had chosen the original twelve.  How could they know whom he would choose?  One hundred and twenty people were gathered for prayer and reflection in the upper room, when Peter stood up to propose the way to make the choice.

Peter had one criterion, that, like Andrew, James, John, and himself, the new apostle be someone who had been a disciple from the very beginning, from His baptism by John until the Ascension.  The reason for this was simple, the new apostle must become a witness to Jesus' resurrection.  He must have followed Jesus before anyone knew Him, stayed with Him when He made enemies, and believed in Him when He spoke of the cross and of eating His Body -- teachings that had made others melt away.

A Witness to the Resurrection
Two men fit this description -- Matthias and Joseph called Barsabbas.  They knew that both these men had been with them and with Jesus through his whole ministry.  But which one had the heart to become a witness to his resurrection?  The apostles knew that only the Lord could know what was in the heart of each.  They cast lots in order to discover God's will and Matthias was chosen.  He was the 12th apostle and the group was whole again as they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

That's the first we hear of Matthias in Scripture, and the last.  Legends testify to Matthias' enthusiastic embrace of all that being an apostle meant including evangelization, persecution, and death in the service of the Lord.

How does one qualify to be an apostle?  Or, pertinent to our situation here in the Diocese of Harrisburg, how does one become a successor to the apostles - a Bishop?

Who Chooses a New Bishop?
The answer to the question "Who chooses a new bishop?" is "The Holy Spirit."  Christ has not abandoned his church, and continues to guide and govern her through the Holy Spirit.  However, the Holy Spirit uses human beings to accomplish this.  Another correct answer is, "the Pope."  While it is true that the Pope can appoint any Catholic priest to be a bishop, the actual process usually involves many people.

The process consists of two parts: identifying priests with the necessary qualities, and selecting the one who best fills a specific vacancy.  "We try to find the saint who fits the niche," explained Archbishop Pio Laghi, who served as apostolic delegate to the United States from 1980 to 1990.

Identifying the right priests
The process of identifying priests with the qualities desired in a bishop is an ongoing process, even if there are no vacancies.  The bishops of a province (the Catholic Church in the United States is divided into 33 provinces) give their archbishop the names of priests they think would make good bishops.  The Diocese of Harrisburg belongs to the Philadelphia Province - and Justin Cardinal Rigali is our metropolitan.  The candidates passed on by a bishop are usually from his current diocese or from one where he has served, since these are the priests he knows best.

The qualities of a bishop
The Church is very explicit about the qualities that must be present in a candidate to the episcopacy.  He must be "a good pastor of souls and teacher of the Faith."  The Church examines whether the candidates "enjoy a good reputation; whether they are of irreproachable morality; whether they are endowed with right judgment and prudence; whether they are even-tempered and of stable character; whether they firmly hold the orthodox Faith; whether they are devoted to the Apostolic See and faithful to the magisterium of the Church; whether they have a thorough knowledge of dogmatic and moral theology and canon law; whether they are outstanding for their piety, their spirit of sacrifice and their pastoral zeal; whether they have an aptitude for governing."

Consideration is also be given to "intellectual qualities, studies completed, social sense, spirit of dialogue and cooperation, openness to the signs of the times, praise-worthy impartiality, family background, health, age and inherited characteristics."

The provincial list
Periodically, the bishops of a province meet under the chairmanship of their archbishop to consider the names of priests who are possible candidates for the episcopacy.  At the provincial meeting, a list of candidates for the episcopacy is assembled, voted on and forwarded to the apostolic nuncio.

While the nuncio could nominate for bishop someone not from this pool of candidates, and the pope could appoint any priest he wanted, most appointments come from these lists.  When a diocese becomes vacant, the second part of the process gets underway – the search for the specific person who will fill a specific vacancy.

The apostolic nuncio
A nuncio represents the Holy Father to both a nation's civil government (as ambassador) and the Catholic Church in that nation.  Archbishop Pietro Sambi, originally from northern Italy,  has been the apostolic nuncio to the United States since 2005.  To learn more about Archbishop Sambi, click here - he has a very interesting resume... 

When vacancies occur in U.S. dioceses and a diocesan ordinary is being chosen (as opposed to an auxiliary bishop), the nuncio chooses several candidates to suggest to Rome from among the names which have been submitted.  The nuncio's recommendations to Rome are based on his own extensive investigation of the needs of the diocese and each candidate's suitability for that particular diocese.   For example, the Diocese of Harrisburg is the seat of political power in our Commonwealth, and so our bishop serves as the charrman of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.  We also have a unique reputation for having a solid and fraternal presbyterate.  Our Bishops have sometimes come from within (like Bishop Keeler or Bishop Rhoades) and sometimes from outside our diocese (like Bishop Dattilo or Bishop Leech).   

During his investigation the nuncio sends a confidential questionnaire on the candidate to people who know him.  The questions address the physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, social, and priestly characteristics that one would hope for in a bishop.

Those questioned include priests, religious and laity.  Some are suggested by the priest's diocesan bishop, others are diocesan officials or people the nuncio has gotten to know personally.  The laity consulted tend to be officers in diocesan lay organizations or on diocesan advisory committees.  Each is told to answer the questions without consulting others.  They cannot tell anyone, especially the candidate, that they have received the questionnaire.

Nuncio's Report
After the nuncio has examined the responses to the questionnaires, he prepares the "terna," a list of three candidates, and writes a report extracting and synthesizing the content of the consultation and giving his own judgment.  The terna and the report are sent to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, and no bishop sees them unless he is a member of that congregation.  The report gives a description of the diocese, describes the process the nuncio went through in selecting the candidates, describes the candidates and gives the nuncio's recommendations.

Congregation for Bishops
When the nuncio's report arrives at the Congregation for Bishops, the members discuss the appointment under the chairmanship of the prefect.  The congregation then votes on the candidates and attaches its own recommendations to the report.

The Pope
The final step in the appointment process occurs when the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops presents the nuncio's, the congregation's, and his own recommendations to the pope in a private audience.  The prefect summarizes the discussions of the congregation and reports any dissenting opinions.  The pope may ask for more information about the candidates, or may even ask for other candidates to be proposed.  In the end however, the pope, led by the Holy Spirit, makes the appointment - just as it was the Holy Spirit who chose Matthias.

Notification and consent
After the pope makes his decision, the nuncio is notified, who then approaches the nominee and asks if he will accept the appointment.  When the candidate accepts, Rome is notified and a date is set for the announcement.

Although the process normally takes four to eight months, it can be much shorter or much longer.  And so the Diocese of Harrisburg waits patiently and prayerfully for the announcement of our new bishop.  We are, however, at the top of the list of "vacant" dioceses here in the Unites States.  When will it be?  Only the Holy Spirit knows - but many speculate it will not be until this fall that the Holy Spirit leads the church to the best bishop possible – the "saint who fits the niche."

May the Holy Spirit be active in the process of selecting  new bishops.  May they be men of deep faith, integrity, fidelity and compassion.  Let's pray daily!

Lord, as Peter led the 11 apostles to discern the will of the Holy Spirit and "make known to them" whom You had already chosen, so we ask you to be with the leaders of our Church who, through the inspiration of that same Holy Spirit, will select our new bishop.  May they be filled with wisdom and counsel in discerning the will of God.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Ascension of the Lord

The Ascension does not mark the end of Jesus’ relationship with the Church but the beginning of a new way of His relating to the world through the Church.  

At least here in the Diocese of Harrisburg, we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord today.   The great western Church Father and Bishop Augustine proclaimed these words on the Feast which are found in the Office of readings for the Liturgy of the Hours:

“Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him.  Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth.  For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.”

When we went down into that Font of Baptism we were incorporated into Jesus Christ.  Therefore, as Augustine also wrote, speaking in the Spirit and for the Lord, “Where the Head is, there is the Body, where I am, there is my Church, we too are one; the Church is in me and I in her and we two are your Beloved and your Lover.”  In other words, we have ascended with the Lord! He is the Head and we are members of His Body.  We cannot be separated. Augustine, reflecting the clear teaching of the early Church Fathers reminds us that the Head and the Body are the “One Christ.”

Jesus Christ has bridged heaven and earth.  All that separated us from the Father has been definitively dealt with and we have been redeemed.  We are now in the process of being re-created anew in Him as we freely cooperate with His grace at work within us and mediated through His Body, the Church, through the Word and the Sacraments which communicate His Divine Life.  Through this grace we have been really incorporated into the Trinitarian communion of love with God the Father, in the Son and through the Holy Spirit.  In a very real sense, we live our lives now in the Church.

The Ascension does not mark the end of Jesus’ relationship with the Church but the beginning of a new way of His relating to the world through the Church.  The Church is not some “thing”, the Church is Some-One, the Risen Christ truly present now in the world which was created through Him and is being re-created through Him.  This Church is the new Israel, sent into the world to continue His redemptive mission until He comes again to complete the work of Redemption.  Through us, Love Incarnate still walks through time.

The Christian vocation is about learning to live this new relationship in Christ together, with the Father, through the Holy Spirit and for the world that still awaits its full redemption.  The Ascension of the Lord is not a final act. Nor is it some kind of “intermission”, to be concluded upon Christ’s Bodily return which will most certainly occur.  Rather, it is about a new beginning, a new way of being, in the here and now.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians in Galatia: “No longer do I live but Christ lives in me and the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God…” (Galatians 2:19,20) Jesus said “Abide in me as I in you” (John 15:4).  These are not mere sentiments of piety but reality now because of what has occurred through the “Paschal Mystery”, the saving Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Living, abiding in Christ is meant to become our daily reality.  Christians can live differently now because we live “in” Jesus Christ.  We can love differently now because we love “in” Jesus Christ. We can “be” differently now because as St. Paul wrote to the Colossians “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”.

On this Great Feast we should ask ourselves this question, “How are we doing?”  The Feast presents us an opportunity to assess the relationship between our profession of faith and its manifestation in our daily lives.  St. Paul encouraged the Christians in Corinth in his second letter to take just such an examination: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith.  Test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?  Unless, of course, you fail the test.  I hope you will discover that we have not failed”

Philosophers and Theologians speak of “ontology” as the essence of being, what makes something what it is.  There is an “ontological” meaning to this Feast of the Ascension.  We have ascended with Him and are called to live on earth the very realities of heaven.  This Feast is not only a remembrance of an event occurring two millennia ago.  We cannot go back to “same old, same old” now that He has ascended.  This Feast gives us insight into the Feast of Pentecost which we will soon celebrate as well.  The “breath” of God has been breathed into this Church - and into each one of us - in order to enable us to experience and engage in His ongoing work of redemption.

That work will not be complete until the One who ascended returns and hands the re-created cosmos back to the Father. That is “the plan”, the “mystery” now revealed in Jesus Christ.  Let me conclude with the words of the great Apostle and mystic Paul, who reflects for the Christians in Ephesus, and for us, on this plan:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.  In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.  In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.

"In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth....  In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God's possession, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-14)

Monday, May 10, 2010

New Window Installed

On Saturday, May 8, 2010, Vanessa Hollifield, the stained glass artist who designed and constructed our new window, was here to install our new window.  How could you help but notice it when you came to Mass this weekend.  I've posted here as many photos as I can of the installation process - which Vanessa, her husband Russel, several parishioners and myself completed JUST in time for the 5pm Mass.

Why the Sacred Heart?  I have had some people ask me that question.  It's not because of any particular devotion of mine to the Sacred Heart, although I do have one since my former parish was titled "Sacred Heart."  The reason for choosing an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the center of our new window is purely an historical one.  Many years ago, there was a window in that location (and that knowledge led Fr. Dalessandro to open it upon once again).  That original window contained a bust of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  With that knowledge, as we were looking for an image for the new window, I felt that I wanted to restore what "was" rather than creating something entirely new.  Copying never works well, so rather than just copy, to the best of our ability (because the sole image we have of that window is not very clear), that old window, I wanted to keep the idea of the Sacred Heart without copying the bust.  So, the image of the Sacred Heart itself.  

Theologically it is (and was) certainly an appropriate choice for a window in that location - as it is directly above the crucifix and the Most Holy Eucharist contained in the Tabernacle.  

The Sacred Heart is the Holy Eucharist

Why do we make this equation? What do we mean when we say the Sacred Heart is the Holy Eucharist? We begin by recalling the centuries of Church teaching on what the term "Sacred Heart" expresses. The Sacred Heart signifies Christ's love in three ways: God is love, God is loving and God loves with human feeling.

God is love. The Sacred Heart symbolizes the love that is God. From all eternity, God is love. That is the primary meaning of God as a Divine Community and not a single person. The essence of love is to give, and within the Trinity, each of the three Divine Persons from all eternity shares the divine nature that each one possesses. When we say God is love, we are defining God as that Community of three Divine Persons who, from all eternity, each share with the other the fullness of what each one not only has, but of what each one is.
God is loving. God is loving not only by bringing us into being, but by bringing us into being as creatures who are capable of love. God could of made us insects or animals or trees or lofty mountains, but these cannot think and love. When this loving God chose to create other beings, it was only because He is loving that He wanted to share what He as God had from all eternity (love) with beings who would not even exist without His love. From the moment of creation and into the endless reaches of eternity, God will continue loving us. If He were to cease loving us, we would cease to exist! God manifested His love by bringing us into existence and making us creatures who are capable of love.

But God also manifested His by becoming one of us, and, having become one of us, He has remained and will be for all eternity one of us. When the Word became Flesh, It became Flesh not only for a time, but for all eternity. God will remain Incarnate forever. This loving God, who out of love for us became man and died on the Cross to show His love for us, this God became man and remains man, but He remains man on earth.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Sacred Heart is the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is the same Infinite Love who is God and who out of love for us became man and is here on earth. When we receive Him, that same God is within us. Love wants us to be intimate. Love wants us to be near. Love wants us to be close to the one whom it loves. The Holy Eucharist is divine genius!

God loves with human feeling. The third meaning which the Church gives to the Sacred Heart as symbolizing God's love is that God loves not only as God but also as the God-man with human feeling, human emotion, human sensibility and human sensitivity. We creatures of feeling, emotion and sensitivity need to hear this. God in the Holy Eucharist is man indeed, but with all the supreme sensitivity. Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is a sensitive Christ. He feels. St. Margaret Mary tells us that Christ in the Eucharist senses in a way we as hypersensitive human beings can understand.

Why is the Sacred Heart the Holy Eucharist?

It is impossible to identify the Holy Eucharist too closely with Jesus Christ. We should remember He is in the Holy Eucharist not merely with His substance. I have corrected many of my students over the years who tell me "Transubstantiation means that the substance of bread and wine become the substance of Jesus Christ." I reply, "No, transubstantiation means the substance of bread and wine are no longer there. The substance of bread and wine is replaced not only by the substance of Christ's Body and Blood. What replaces the substance of bread and wine is Jesus Christ!" Everything that makes Christ, Christ replaces what had been the substance of bread and wine. The substance of bread and wine become the whole Christ.

Therefore, Christ in the Holy Eucharist is here with His human heart. Is it a living heart? Yes! That is why the revelations our Lord made to St. Margaret Mary about promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart were all made from the Holy Eucharist.

Why do we equate the Sacred Heart with the Holy Eucharist? Because the Holy Eucharist is the whole Christ with His human heart. According to St. Margaret Mary, the Sacred Heart is the Holy Eucharist. So it follows that devotion to the Sacred Heart is devotion to the Holy Eucharist. It is infinite Love Incarnate living in our midst in the Blessed Sacrament.

I pray that our new window, and the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus therein, will help us all be drawn up in love of Jesus' Most Sacred Heart, pierced out of love, given to us in the Most Holy Eucharist. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Help Get New Film Into Theaters: "Blood Money"

Blood Money is a documentary film that exposes the truth behind the Abortion Industry from the Pro Life perspective.  This film will examine the history of abortion in America, from the inception of Planned Parenthood and the profitability of abortion clinics, to Roe v. Wade, to the denial of when life begins, to the fight to save the lives of innocent babies, and the devastating effects it has had on the women t have had them.

Help get this new, independent film into theaters.  It needs our support to help expose the corruption of Planned Parenthood.  In order for the producers to get it into the theaters they need to show that millions of interested people have visited their website. You need only visit the website; there is no need to sign-up as a supporter unless you are compelled to do so.   PLEASE HELP GET THIS IMPORTANT FILM INTO THEATERS BY VISITING THE WEBSITE, then forward this to your family and friends! Americans NEED to see this.

Individuals and family members are often hurt emotionally following an abortion. If you, or someone you know, needs help, please contact Abortion Recovery InterNational (1-866-4-My-Recovery)

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Biblical Reflection on the Scandal

Today, Our Sunday Visitor published Father Barron's further reflections on the crisis facing the Catholic Church.

"Once again we’re living in scandal times. The 'Long Lent' that the American church endured in 2002 has now descended on the European church.  A significant difference is that this time the Pope himself has come under scrutiny.  Once again, the news media are in a frenzy—CNN has blanket coverage, the New York Times is running daily stories, and thousands of blogs are buzzing.  In preparation for a television interview, I spent an entire day reading almost everything I could find in both the American and international press (I’m currently in Rome as a visiting professor) and found the process dismaying, depressing, and dispiriting.  But what particularly struck me was this:  though the scandal has been analyzed legally, institutionally, psychologically, and culturally, it has rarely been looked at biblically—even by church representatives themselves.  And this is tragic, for the Bible, the Word of God, is the definitive lens through which the whole of reality is most rightly read, and church men and women above all should know this.
What does a Biblical reading of this never-ending scandal offer?  First, we should not be surprised that people behave badly.  The Bible clearly teaches that we human beings have been made in the image and likeness of God and that we are destined for eternal life with God; nevertheless it teaches with equal clarity that we are fallen, marked by the original sin which has compromised us in body, mind, and will.  The Scriptural narratives are remarkably honest about this.  They make reference to rape, theft, murder, jealous rages, palace intrigue, naked ambition, family dysfunction, political corruption, adultery, and yes, sexual abuse.  More to it, many of these crimes are committed by God’s chosen instruments:  Saul, David, Solomon, Jacob, Peter, Paul, and John, to name just a handful.  An interviewer asked me just a few days ago, 'how could this (the scandal) have happened?' and I responded, 'sin.'  I could have given a more textured answer, bringing in the psychological and institutional dimensions, but I believe I gave, from a Biblical perspective, the most fundamental and clarifying response.
Second, the Church has enemies.  St. Paul reminded us long ago that the Church of Jesus Christ is the new Israel, carrying on in transfigured form the mission of Israel to be a light to the nations, the enduring sign of God’s existence and love.  But it is a commonplace of the Biblical narratives that Israel was not universally revered.  Instead, it was enslaved by Egypt, harassed by the Philistines, overrun by the Assyrians, exiled by the Babylonians, conquered by the Greeks and the Romans.  And Israel was often at war with itself:  the prophets were regularly ignored, mocked, or even murdered by the people they were sent to address.  The point is this:  the message of God’s love is not one that is necessarily received with enthusiasm by a sinful world, just the contrary.  Now only the blindest or most anti-Catholic of commentators would fail to see that, to a degree, enemies of the church are operative in the coverage surrounding this scandal.  The sexual abuse of children is an international epidemic, and it is present in every aspect of society.  In the United States alone, there are approximately 39,000,000 victims of child sexual abuse, and around 50% of these were abused by family members.  In the decade between 1990 and 2000, nearly 300,000 children in the American public school system were abused by teachers or coaches.  Social workers in Africa report that in many countries on that continent, the numbers concerning the sexual abuse of young girls runs from “very, very high to astronomically high.”  And this is to say nothing of the multi-billion dollar a year pornography industry in the United States, which disproportionately abuses young people, and the even more shocking—and highly profitable—sex trade involving kids.  Moreover, the John Jay study showed that, over a fifty year period, only 3-4% of Catholic priests were credibly charged with sex abuse, a figure below the national average, and in the past year, precisely six cases of clerical sex abuse, in a church of 65,000,000 were reported.  Yet, to watch the television networks or read the newspapers, one would think that the sexual abuse of children is a uniquely Catholic problem, one indeed facilitated by a wicked cabal of priestly and episcopal conspirators.  There are some in the mainstream culture who are unhappy with many of the positions the Catholic Church has taken on sexual issues, especially abortion, and who would like to marginalize the church’s voice or eliminate it entirely from the public conversation.  Biblically minded people should not find this the least bit surprising.
A third lesson provides a balance to the second.  God regularly—and sometimes harshly—chastises his people Israel in order to cleanse them.  On the biblical reading, God raises up figures who name the sins of the nation and call especially the leaders of the people to repentance and reform. Under this rubric, we might consider Samuel (who challenged Saul), Nathan (who called out David), Isaiah (who railed against the temple establishment), Jeremiah (who took the leadership of Israel to task), and Jesus himself (who had a few things to say about “whitewashed sepulchers”).  Not everyone who brought the clergy sex scandal to light is an enemy of the church; many should be construed as instruments of God’s vengeance, who compelled a reluctant church to come to grips with a problem that had been, for far too long, ignored, brushed under the carpet, or handled with pathetic incompetence.  And for that matter, Yahweh sometimes used the enemies of Israel—Philistines, Babylonians, Romans, etc.—to work out his cleansing purposes.  Might the Lord God be using the Boston Globe or the New York Times in much the same way?
I think that it’s good to study this terrible phenomenon as thoroughly as we can, but we should never forget that the most clarifying perspective is the one provided by God’s holy word."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Crowning of Mary

Holy Mother Church has on many occasions asserted that it is lawful and right to venerate images of Christ, His Mother and the saints and has often instructed the faithful on the proper understanding of such veneration.  Crowning is one form of reverence shown to images of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Through today's May Crowning, the Church proclaims that the Blessed Virgin Mary is rightly regarded and invoked as queen for many reasons.  She is: the Mother of the Son of God; the Mother of the Son of David; the chosen companion of the Redeemer; the perfect disciple of Christ; the foremost member of the Church.  She is therefore rightly invoked as Queen of Angels and of Saints, as our Lady and our Queen.  The glory of the Blessed Virgin, who is a daughter of Adam and mother to us all, not only does honor to the people of God, but ennobles the entire human family.  Thus, today and throughout the month of May, we honor and venerate Mary as we crown her today - symbolizing her being crowned as Queen in each of our hearts.

We thank our First Communicants for leading our parish in this wonderful, traditional devotion to Mary, our Queen Mother.  
Here is a wonderful, old, traditional song for the May Crowning: "Bring Flowers of the Rarest."  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

First Holy Communion 2010

I'll never forget what Sr. Corde Marie told my class on our First Communion day: "Children, you'll remember your First Holy Communion as if it was yesterday."  For many of us, Sr. Corde Marie was right - we DO remember it like it was just yesterday, and yet, how many Communions we've received since then.  If only we could all recapture the excitement and anticipation our First Communicants feel as they receive the Most Holy Eucharist for the first time.  May we each feel their eagerness to receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist!