THE LANTERIAN

A Weekly Mass Supplement

May 19, 2019 – Fifth Sunday of Easter

Prayer Before Mass

My God I offer you this holy sacrifice to recognize, honor and glorify your infinite greatness and the supreme dominion which, as the first principle and last end, you have above all created things. I give you this homage for all those who still do not know or do not want to recognize you in thanksgiving for the benefits that I and all the world have received and will receive from your infinite goodness, in satisfaction of my sins and of the whole world, to implore the graces that are necessary for my eternal salvation and for all mankind. Oh, my God, I offer to you the merits of Jesus Christ; grant me at this Holy Mass a profound adoration.

My God, my Creator, I implore you to grant me the grace of final perseverance, I know by faith that I do not deserve it, nor can I deserve it, but your Divine Son deserves it for me with so many praises and with so many wounds which he shows you in his Most Holy Body on behalf of my wounded love. Amen.

Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Why Do We Do That? Liturgy

Liturgy is a originally a Greek term that originates in ancient Athens. It was any official public service performed by the public. It was the duty of Athenian citizens to perform public service in some form, so they were involved in liturgy. The term is also used in the Greek bibles to described the official worship performed by priests in the Temple. The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of a “better liturgy” with Christ. Liturgy then is the term used by the Church to describe any official public religious service of God and one another.

There are public prayers and there are private prayers. When you pray the rosary, even if it is done in public with a group, it is really a private devotion. The prayers of the rosary are not legally established; they are known from tradition. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass however is the supreme, official, public service in honor of God. It is also a service to one another. Publicly witnessing to our faith in Jesus Christ helps to bolster the faith and hope of others. We pray for one another and we publicly declare our communion in Christ with one another.

Catechesis: A New Earth

The Book of Revelation promises not only a new heaven but a new earth as well. What could this mean? The typical person who believes in heaven may think that the point of everything is to die on earth only to wake up “in heaven.” The idea being that we leave the earth behind or that it is ultimately doomed to destruction. That doesn’t appear to be God’s vision according to Revelation.

We must recall that the world, the universe, it is all of God’s creation and according to Genesis, he found it all very good. While the “earth” fell away from God through our rebellion, God himself has never abandoned it; in fact, he redeems it in Christ. What we know from Scripture is that all things will be transformed. God’s good creation will not come to ultimate ruin. Does this mean we will have an earth like it is now except much better where everyone is kind to one another. That is not what transformation will mean. While we cannot ultimately know what this new heaven and earth will be like, we do know that it will be an experience of having been totally renewed with God completely at the center of our lives. He will be our everything!

Lectio Divina

“Behold, I make all things new. ” — Revelation 21:5

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able tobidentify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or frustration? How do we listen to Jesus? What would it mean for you to listen more? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What might the Lord be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: A Marian Garden

One long-time tradition in the Church during the month of May is the Mary Garden. It originates with the monasteries from the 7th century that created gardens on their grounds with a statue of Our Lady at the center.  Plants and flowers associated with Mary include laurel trees, strawberries, lady slippers, lilies of the valley, peonies, violets, irises and roses. Marigold is a flower traditionally given to our Lady. The name means Mary’s gold as they were considered a replacement for god coins.

These gardens provide an opportunity for quiet contemplation and for celebrating the gift of life.

Blessing of a Marian Garden

O almighty everlasting God we beseech thee to bless these flowers…that there may be in them goodness, virtue, tranquility, peace, victory, abundance of good things, the plenitude of blessing, thanksgiving to God the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, and a most pleasing commemoration of the glorious Mother of God—that they may put forth an odor of virtue and sweetness. Amen.

The Friends of God: St. Rita of Cascia

Patron of: Difficult Marriages, Parents, Impossible Cases

Feast Day: May 22 

Rita was born at the end of the 14th century in central Italy. She was know from a young age to be of great piety and she asked her parents for permission to enter into a convent. Her parents refused and arranged for her to be married to a very belligerent man at a very young age. Her husband Paolo treated her very badly. He was verbally, emotionally and
physically abusive and he committed adultery on many occasions. Through her patience, long-suffering and prayer, Rita began to convert her husband. He was ultimately killed by his rivals. Rita’s sons then followed in their father’s footsteps but she prayed that God would take them before they committed mortal sin. They died before they could avenge their father.
St. Rita is a model of extraordinary patience, love and holiness. She is not necessarily a model for how battered women should live their life today. She prayed to suffer as Jesus did and was given a wound in the forehead to share His crown of thorns.

Thoughts on the Virgin Mary

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

The Virgin Mary was crowned in heaven as daughter, as mother, and as spouse, with the threefold crown of wisdom, power, and goodness. When we pray we share in her wisdom; when we conquer ourselves we share in her power; when we act with charity, warmth and openness toward our neighbor we imitate her goodness.

I want a tender love for the Virgin Mary and confidence in her as a son has in his mother. I will try to spread devotion to the Virgin Mary whenever there is an opportunity.

O Virgin immaculately conceived, put into my heart those things of your Son which are most pleasing to him.

May 12, 2019 – Fourth Sunday of Easter

A Blessing for Mothers

Intercessions

  • For our mothers, who have given us life and love, that we may show them reverence and love, we pray to the Lord.
  • For mothers who have lost a child through death, that their faith may give them hope, and their
    family and friends support and console them, we pray to the Lord.
  • For mothers who have died, that God may bring them into the joy of his kingdom, we pray to the Lord.

Prayer

Loving God,
we thank you for the love of the mothers you have given us, Whose love is so precious that it can never be measured, whose patience seems to have no end.
May we see your loving hand behind them and
guiding them. We pray for those mothers who fear
they will run out of love or time or patience.
We ask you to bless them with your own special love.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our brother. Amen.

Why Do We Do That? Use of the Word Easter

The principal feast and season of the entire year is the Resurrection of the Lord. We call this feast and the season Easter, yet it no where appears in the
Bible. Easter is derived from Old German, referencing the name of a pagan German goddess. The Church adopted and “baptized” the name to make it a reference to the greatest event in human history.

Eoster (Easter in English) was considered the goddess of the rising sun and the light of spring. Because life begins anew in the Spring and the light remains for longer days, the Church taught that Christ is the true rising light and his resurrection is the primary New Life.

The use of the word Easter for our principal feast is a reminder that the Church did not seek to destroy the cultures that existed prior to Christianity; rather, the Church seeks to demonstrate how every authentic human desire and celebration is realized perfectly in the life of Jesus Christ.

Catechesis: Heaven

“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” This very beautiful description of heaven is by John in his Book of Revelation. Those who receive salvation in Christ and enter the eternal choir of praise are those “who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” They have already shed many tears on their earthly exile and pilgrimage of return to God. They have survived the stresses of life by seeking refuge in Christ and immersing themselves in his salvific blood.

It is easy to think of heaven as a “place” we go to after death. Really, it is a state of being. It is a state of being at one with the Lord, united in will and mind, desiring everything he desires and doing everything he would do. This cannot be accomplished by us through our own power. Ultimately, heaven is a gift of grace from God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. This grace enables us to act as he acted in this life; thus, doing so we become what he is and “where” he is.

Lectio Divina

“My sheep hear my voice. ” — John 10:27

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able tobidentify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or frustration? How do we listen to Jesus? What would it mean for you to listen more? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What might the Lord be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Friends of God: St. Julian of Norwich

Patron of: Anxious People

Feast Day: May 13 

Julian was an English contemplative who withdrew from the world to seek the divine love without being impeded. She prayed, did penance and sewed clothing for the poor. She is best known for her books concerning 16 visions she had of Jesus titled Revelations of Divine Love. In it, Julian wrote that, after her visions of the Divine Love, she could confidently say that all things will be well in the end.

In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss. In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving. You are our mother, brother, and Saviour. In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvellous and plenteous grace. You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us. You are our maker, our lover, our keeper. Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. Amen

Means of Acquiring Joy

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary
Born May 12, 1759

I think that it is for some purpose that God has placed me in full liberty. I think of the special conduct, the providence of God for me in the past, for which I cannot thank him enough—namely, a greater inclination and duty to consecrate myself totally, myself and all my belongings, to the service of God so as to bind myself more closely to him, and grow in merit. I would like to take a vow concerning my service.

Bruno Lanteri with the Madonna and child

May 5, 2019 – Third Sunday of Easter

Prayer Before Mass

My God I offer you this holy sacrifice to recognize, honor and glorify your infinite greatness and the supreme dominion which, as the first principle and last end, you have above all created things. I give you this homage for all those who still do not know or do not want to recognize you in thanksgiving for the benefits that I and all the world have received and will receive from your infinite goodness, in satisfaction of my sins and of the whole world, to implore the graces that are necessary for my eternal salvation and for all mankind. Oh, my God, I offer to you the merits of Jesus Christ; grant me at this Holy Mass a profound adoration.

My God, my Creator, I implore you to grant me the grace of final perseverance, I know by faith that I do not deserve it, nor can I deserve it, but your Divine Son deserves it for me with so many praises and with so many wounds which he shows you in his Most Holy Body on behalf of my wounded love. Amen.

Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Why Do We Do That? Sunday

The celebration of the Lord’s Day on Sunday is really the weekly celebration of Easter. Every Sunday of the year is a remembrance of Easter, which is the most important event in history. Clearly Easter Sunday is a special day that commemorates the resurrection of the Lord but every Sunday is meant to be a weekly recognition of Christ’s defeat of death.

This is why Sunday must be kept as a day of obligation every week. It is the day that we come together as the family of God to acknowledge publicly that we have been transferred into God’s Kingdom out from the kingdoms of the world. Each Sunday is a sacrament of Easter. Without the weekly commitment to the Sunday Eucharist we would swallowed whole by the secular world.

To keep this sacramental sense of each Sunday as Easter we have to be clear that Sunday is the first day of the week. We tend to think of it as the last day of the week and part of the “weekend.” It is actually the first day of the week and sets the tone for the rest of the week to follow. Jesus is risen!

Catechesis: The Paschal Candle

One of the most pronounced symbols of the Easter season is the large Paschal Candle. It is lit for the first time at the Easter Vigil and all of the other candles are lit from that one. This candle is a symbol of Christ, the Light of the World.

It was a custom in the early Church to hold vigil prayer services prior to each Sunday. The light of the candle scattered the darkness just as Christ scatters the darkness of sin and death.

On the Paschal Candle there are five pieces of incense representing the five wound of Christ. The Greek letters alpha and omega are also traced on the candle for Christ who is the beginning and end of all things. Finally, the current year is placed on the candle to manifest the year of grace of our Lord. For all 50 days of the Easter season the Paschal candle remains near the altar or ambo. After Pentecost the candle is brought out for baptisms and funerals once again to symbolize the

Lectio Divina

“We must obey God rather than men” — Acts 5

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able tobidentify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or frustration? How do we listen to Jesus? What would it mean for you to listen more? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What might the Lord be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: The Paschal Greeting

One way Christians have traditionally identified themselves to one another is through the Paschal Greeting. It is still in use in the Eastern Church but not much practiced anymore in the West.

In Luke chapter 24 the disciples, after seeing Jesus resurrected, gather together and proclaim, “The Lord is risen indeed.” This was adopted by the first Christians as a means of greeting. In place of “hello,” Christians would say, “The Lord (or Christ) is risen!” The response would be “Truly, he is risen.”

This is a venerable practice and one that could prove quite beneficial today in a time when Christians need to support one another in the marketplace.

The Latin phrase: Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere!

The Friends of God: St. John of Avila

Patron of: Priests of Spain

Feast Day: May 10 

John of Avila was a priest of immense significance in the 16th century. He was a spiritual director to several Spanish saints including Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis Borgia and Peter of Alcantara. He was renowned for his learning and mystical preaching. John is also one of the 36 Doctors of the Church, mostly for his original contributions to the understanding of the spirituality of priests.

Almighty and eternal God, who gave your holy Church blessed John of Avila as Doctor, grant that what he taught when moved by the divine Spirit may always stay firm in our hearts; and, as by your gift we embrace him as our patron, may we also have him as our defender to entreat your mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Means of Acquiring Joy

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

Think, feel, reason in a manner worthy of God: ‘Think of the Lord in a spirit of goodness.” That is, convince yourself of his serious will to pardon us, help us, save us. Think frequently of the Lord and thank him for the goods that we possess and hope to possess. For example, for the great good, namely the grace of God, that we possess and for the Paradise that we hope for. Let us go often to take from the Angels and Blessed above, an air of joyfulness, thinking that from now on we are citizens of Heaven and fortifying ourselves in Christian hope. Think of the merits connected with each good action and to the communion of saints. Likewise, it is helpful to act with a holy freedom of the spirit: despising every fear that is not founded on offending God, and not waiting for tomorrow to do that which can be done today.

April 28, 2019 – Divine Mercy Sunday

Why Do We Do That? Divine Mercy Sunday

“The Feast of Mercy emerged from my very depths of tenderness. It is my desire that it solemnly be celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the fount of My Mercy.” These words of Jesus to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska were spoken on April 28, 1935. Jesus desires greatly that we should celebrate with great devotion the divine mercy. St. Faustina records in her diary, “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” that Jesus told her that souls are perishing because they do not trust in Christ’s merciful love. Jesus proclaimed to St. Faustina that every person who receives communion and goes to confession on Divine Mercy Sunday and obtains the indulgence will receive complete pardon from all their sins.

St. Faustina promoted the divine mercy and the idea of a Feast of Divine Mercy. On April 30, 2000 Pope St. John Paul II canonized Faustina and on the same day he instituted the Feast of the Divine Mercy on the second Sunday of Easter in fulfillment of St. Faustina’s mission received from Christ himself.

Catechesis: Indulgences

Divine Mercy Sunday is one splendid opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence from the Church. An indulgence is a spiritual favor offered by the Church in recognition of an act of piety. There are many spiritual acts that can be performed with indulgences attached to them. Reading the Bible for 15 minutes is one. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another. Celebrating the Divine Mercy on the second Sunday of Easter is another. The effect of these acts is to remove any damage done to the soul from past sins.

A partial indulgence grants a partial expunging of the effects of past sins that would require purgation after death. A plenary indulgence removes all damage done by past sins. These indulgences may also be obtained for the sake of dead loved ones but not for any other living person besides oneself. To obtain a plenary indulgence requires that one be completely detached from any desire for sin, to receive holy communion on the day of the act, to go to confession within 20 days before or after the indulgence act, and to pray for the Pope on the same day as the indulgence act. A partial indulgence is granted for the same act if it is done with at least a contrite heart.

Lectio Divina

“His mercy endures forever” — Psalm 118

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able tobidentify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or frustration? How do we listen to Jesus? What would it mean for you to listen more? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What might the Lord be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: Divine Mercy Sunday Indulgence

To obtain the plenary indulgence for Divine Mercy Sunday requires one to participate in a devout celebration of the Feast at some Church or Chapel. You must receive Holy Communion on the day of the Feast. You must make a good confession within 20 days before or after Divine Mercy Sunday. You must be completely detached from all sin and you must pray for the Pope in some way. Finally, an Our Father and the Creed must be recited in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament adding these words at the end: “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you.”

A partial indulgence is received for Divine Mercy Sunday just for fulfilling the last part of the plenary indulgence act provided it is done with a contrite heart.

Those who are too sick to go to Church may also receive the plenary indulgence for fulfilling the last part mentioned above with the understanding that they would fulfill the sacramental requirements as soon as possible.

The Friends of God: St. Athanasius

Patron of: Theologians, Faithful Christians

Feast Day: May 2 

Athanasius was known as the great champion of orthodoxy in the 4th century as he defended the divinity of Christ against the ancient heresy of Arianism. For his firm efforts Athanasius was exiled from his diocese 5 times in his life as a bishop, often hiding to save himself from arrest or worse. He wrote and preached passionately to preserve the Apostolic faith in the divine Sonship of Jesus.

Father,
you raised up Saint Athanasius
to be an outstanding defender
of the truth of Christ’s divinity.
By his teaching and protection may we grow in your knowledge and love.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

On Divine Mercy

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

Believe as a matter of faith itself that God (as St. Paul says) is faithful, and will not permit a heavier temptation than that which I can bear, and that if, with one hand he permits the temptation, with the other he helps us, so that when the temptation is all the stronger, I will thank him that he makes me share in that little bit of the cross, and, examining what it is that God seeks from me by the temptation, I will find that he wishes to compel me to give myself to the arms of his mercy, and to know by experience how much I can and should rely on his riches.

The Image of the Divine Mercy

April 21, 2019 – Easter Sunday

Why Do We Do That? Asperges

During the Easter season, it is common to see a baptismal font in the sanctuary. In parishes, the font is typically used to baptize converts during the Easter Vigil. It is also used to remind us all of the gift of our baptism — a gift won for us by Christ.

Usually, at the beginning of Mass we acknowledge our sinfulness and pray, “Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy.” At Easter, this rite is often replaced by the the Aspereges Rite. For this, the celebrant walks through the congregation and sprinkles them with water from the baptismal font in the sanctuary. This is done as a reminder of the gift of baptism and of the vows we take at that baptism. Baptism is a powerful sacrament. It makes us children of God and destroys original sin and, in the case of older children or adults, eliminates all sins ever committed by the person. So, an adult who is baptized at the Easter Vigil will not have to go to confession for any sins committed prior to baptism. With asperges we are able to rekindle the joy of being children of God and the immense gift that Jesus has bestowed upon us in making the forgiveness of sins so simple.

Catechesis: Resurrected Body

The description of events after the resurrection provide important details for us to understand elements of a resurrected body.

Jesus appears in his own body; the same body he had prior to death. We know this because the gospels tell us that he still bears the marks of crucifixion. He also eats fish with his disciples which demonstrates the physicality of his body. The resurrection does not turn us into ghosts. Jesus possesses the same body as before but now it is within the divine realm, not of earth. Being completely of God, Jesus is able to command his body to be where he wants it to be and when he wants it to be there, as we hear that he appears suddenly and disappears. So, the resurrected body is not constrained by time and space as on earth.

The resurrected body is a spiritualized body. It is still physical but is completely under the power of the spirit and will of the person, a will in total union with God. This explains how Jesus could appear in such a way as to look like a gardener or any other stranger.

Lectio Divina

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above.”  — Colossians 3

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able tobidentify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or frustration? How do we listen to Jesus? What would it mean for you to listen more? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What might the Lord be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs have been a long tradition in many Christian lands around the world. For Christians in medieval Europe, breaking open a boiled egg was symbolic of Christ breaking open the tomb into life. Eggs were also traditionally one of the foods from which the faithful would abstain during Lent, so many Christians would hard-boil the eggs during Lent and store them for later; thus, Easter would be a time to feast with them. The coloring of Easter eggs began among Syrian Christians who would dye the eggs red as a symbol of the blood of Christ shed for our
salvation.

Blessing Prayer for Easter Eggs

We beseech thee, O Lord,
to bestow thy benign blessing upon these eggs,
to make them a wholesome food for thy faithful,
who gratefully partake of them
in honor of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Friends of God: St. Mark

Patron of: Venice, Barristers

Feast Day: April 25

St. Mark is the writer of the first Gospel and an early disciple of Jesus. He was not one of the apostles but he was very closely associated with Saints Pete and Paul as he is mentioned by both in their letters. Mark is considered the founder of the Church in Alexandria, Egypt, which was one of the earliest and greatest dioceses. His body was originally entombed in Alexandria but in the early 9th century it was stolen and taken to Venice where it remains to this day in the Basilica of St. Mark in the Piazza San Marco. His tomb is behind the main altar in the Basilica and can still be visited to this day.

O Glorious St Mark, through the grace of God
our Father, you became a great Evangelist, preaching
the Good News of Christ.

May you help us to know Him
well, so that we may faithfully live our lives
as followers of Christ. Amen.

On the Pius Practices for Easter

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

  1. Exercising Joy with Jesus risen, with the Virgin Mary, with the
    Angels, with the Magdalene, with St. Peter, with the disciples
    of Emmaus and with the Apostles.
  2. Hope for spiritual and corporal goods and remedies for all ills.
  3. Hope for the forgiveness of sins.
  4. Hope for aid to fight.
  5. Hope for eternal life.
  6. Rejoice for any weddings

April 14, 2019 – Palm Sunday

Why Do We Do That? Palms

We begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday, also referred to as Passion Sunday. This commemorates the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem for the final time. He was greeted with cries of “Hosanna!” Hosanna means “save now.” Those who greeted Jesus were most likely expecting a military savior who would expel the Romans from Jerusalem by force, the way David had originally taken the city many centuries earlier.

Palms were a symbol of well-being and victory. In the Book of Kings it mentions that Solomon had palm branches carved into the walls of the Temple. Throwing palms down before Jesus was a recognition of his kingship; but the people failed to recognize the nature of his kingship.

As we now memorialize the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem and the final week of his mission we must challenge ourselves not to make the same mistake as was made originally. Jesus has not come to grant our every wish but to save us from some of those wishes. Today we cry, “Jesus, save us from the corruption of sin.”

Catechesis: Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? These words were uttered by Jesus as he died on the cross. He was quoting Psalm 22 to demonstrate that the psalm is in fact about him. All the psalms really point to Jesus. It is the key to understanding the book of the Church’s prayer. When we read psalms, we should do so with an understanding that they, in many ways, present the voice of Jesus or point to his life.

From the viewpoint of Christ, Psalm 22 is the description of the crucifixion. It also expresses the voice of all humanity summed up in Christ. Who among us has not cried out in anguish to God that we feel abandonment? Jesus then expresses what every human being experiences: our alienation from God as a result of sin. Even in this anguish, though, the Psalm expresses unwavering hope in God. Jesus, as we know, stays true to the Father to the end. In the Psalm and in the sacrifice of Jesus we find expressed the only answer to feeling distance and separation from God. Distance is an opportunity to cross the gap between God and us and make of ourselves a gift to him again. That is what Jesus does on the cross. He felt the distance but he crosses it by making his last moment of mortal life a gift to the Father. And the gift is returned in resurrection.

Lectio Divina

“He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.” — Philippians 2:7

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able tobidentify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or frustration? How do we listen to Jesus? What would it mean for you to listen more? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What might the Lord be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: Holy Week

Holy Week is the most important week of the liturgical year. This is the culmination of the mission of Jesus and the whole purpose for which he was born.

The week begins with the commemoration of his entrance into Jerusalem with Palm Sunday. On Tuesday, most dioceses of the country celebrate the Chrism Mass. The priests of the diocese join together with the bishop to renew their commitment to the priesthood. During the Mass, the bishop consecrates all the oils that will be used in the diocese throughout the coming year including the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick and the Chrism Oil used for Confirmations and ordinations to the priesthood and episcopacy. Spy Wednesday is the day we recall the betrayal of Judas. Holy Thursday celebrates the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood at the Last Supper. Good Friday commemorates the saving death of Jesus. On Saturday we remember the day Jesus remained silent in the tomb. And of course the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening is the Mass of all Masses as we celebrate Christ’s defeat of death. It is the night when neophytes receive their Christian Initiation and become members of the Body of Christ.

The Friends of God: St. Bernadette

Patron of Poverty, Illness and the Ridiculed

Feast Day: April 16

Bernadette Soubirous was the oldest of nine children born in poverty in Lourdes, France. All her life she suffered from poor health. In 1858, at age 14, Bernadette received an apparition of Our Lady. The apparitions totaled 18 in number. Our Lady revealed herself to Bernadette as the Immaculate Conception. News of the apparitions created a firestorm in the country, involving even government authorities. Since Bernadette’s visions and the opening of the Shrine at Lourdes, 69 confirmed miraculous cures have taken place. Bernadette took vows with the Sisters of Charity till her death at age 35.

BERNADETTE, pure and simple child, you who were privileged to behold the beauty of Mary Immaculate and to be the recipient of her confidence eighteen times at Lourdes; you who did desire from then on to hide yourself in the cloister of Nevers and there live and die as a victim of sinners, obtain for us that spirit of purity, which will lead us also to the glorious vision of God and of Mary in Heaven. Amen.

On the Love of God

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

God loves me with all the Creatures that are here on earth and in Heaven, since he has created all of them. And he uses them for me, and even serves me himself in all things.

He loves me with his whole self,because he uses all his Perfections for me, and all three Divine Persons concern themselves with me.

God loves me as himself, because the Eternal Father already gave me his Only Son and the Holy Spirit, who loves me as himself, and he reserves himself still in order to give himself to me in Heaven.

He loves me in a certain sense more than himself, since I can say that God sacrificed himself and died for me. That led St. Thomas Aquinas to say that if man had been the God of God, he could not have asked for more.

April 7, 2019 – Fifth Sunday of Lent

Why Do We Do That? The Veiling of the Images

One of the most striking times in the Church is the last two weeks of Lent. Traditionally, this is known as Passiontide as the focus of the liturgy is on the weight of the passion of Christ which is fast approaching. Perhaps the most dramatic reminder of the tone of these weeks is the veiling with violet cloth of the images in the Church. Those statues, crucifixes and paintings that provide us with so much comfort and encouragement are taken from us for the final days of the Lenten season. As we are creatures of sense, these types of actions generate in us, in a tangible way, the drama of the Lord’s passion.

It can be easy to take for granted the graces that are available to us. Veiling the images in the Church remind us that we have grace due to the sacrificial work of Christ. His obedience to the Father to the point of suffering and death is what makes us free to live in the grace of God.

Entrance into Passiontide in an invitation to unveil our hearts to the healing light of God’s mercy.

Catechesis: Pursuit of the Goal

St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians in one of the greatest treasures of the New Testament. In chapter two, we learn of the self-emptying of Christ: his stripping himself of glory and coming in the likeness of a slave to save us. In chapter three, we hear Paul’s passionate reminder to us that to know Christ Jesus makes is worth the loss of everything that has come before it. That we come to righteousness not through works of the law but through faith in Jesus.

In the third chapter, Paul also tells us that sharing in Christ’s sufferings through faith, hope and love opens up for us the power of his resurrection. But, Paul reminds us, we have not yet taken possession of this resurrection. We must continue as long as we are in this life the pursuit of our upward calling. We are redeemed but not yet saved. Some of our Protestant brethren believe that once you have professed faith in Christ you are saved. Paul’s inspired words inform us that that is not the case. Indeed, faith provides us with the grace of redemption but also with the
responsibility of an upward calling. We must surrender to this grace and allow it to envelope the whole of our lives, even to the loss of all things.

Lectio Divina

I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” — Philippians 3:8

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or frustration? How do we listen to Jesus? What would it mean for you to listen more? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What might the Lord be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady

In order to make a good confession it is necessary to have sorrow for sin. It is this feature on our part that makes us ready to receive God’s forgiveness. As we now enter into Passiontide, it is the time for us to ask for the grace of sorrow. One of the Church’s great devotions is to the seven sorrows of Our Lady. Let her teach us how to mourn and how to find courage to rise through all grief. Meditate on these seven sorrows.

  1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  2. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
  4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
  5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  6. The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
  7. The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)

The Friends of God: St. Michael de Sanctis

Patron of the Cancer Patients

Feast Day: April 10

Michael was born in Spain on the feast of the Archangel St. Michael in 1591. As a child he was a great devotee of St. Francis and imitated him so extensively that he often had to be restrained by his parents. He was known as exceptionally pious and kind. He became a monk with the Trinitarian Fathers at the age of 15. Michael was elected superior of his monastery twice in his life and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and to holy Mass. He was observed going into ecstasy during the consecration on several occasions. Michael’s care for the sick and the poor made him a powerful pastor.

Most Holy Trinity, You who gave us Saint Michael of the Saints as trusted friend and intercessor, and as patron of those afflicted with cancer, look with kindness on your servants who this day invoke your name. Through his intercession, comfort those in distress, confirm those in doubt. Satisfy their spiritual needs from the treasury of your grace. Remember all those who call on your help, Amen.

Means of Acquiring Joyfulness

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

St. Francis de Sales says that perfection does not consist in never falling, but in getting up immediately, recognizing our misery, asking forgiveness from God, but quietly and without wonder, saying to God that we do it from weakness. Yes, we fall, but holiness means to stand up  immediately, to ask for forgiveness, not becoming tired of getting up again, even if we fall a thousand times, because if a child would no longer want to get up and walk, because he often falls or for fear of falling every step, never again will he learn to walk.

Let us have a great idea of ​​the goodness of God; let’s not measure it with our weakness, thinking that he gets tired of so much of our instability, slackness, forgetfulness, and that he must take revenge for our sins, or that he takes away his help, denies us graces. For these reasons we don’t dare go and ask him for forgiveness. Our good is not such God. God needs us to show us his mercy.

March 31, 2019 – Fourth Sunday of Lent

Why Do We Do That? Laetare Sunday

The fourth Sunday of Lent is known as Rejoice Sunday. Laetare is Latin for Rejoice and is derived from the entrance antiphon for the Mass. The customary rose vestments may be used on this day just as for Gaudete Sunday in Advent.

Rose-colored vestments date from the ancient papal custom of sending golden roses to all the heads of state of Europe. The blessing of these golden roses always happened on the fourth Sunday of Lent before they were dispatched to their intended recipients.

As our Lenten penitential acts continue, Laetare Sunday is a reminder of why we do what we do. We fast, pray, give alms, and do other penances as a means of preparing ourselves to feast rightly and freely during Easter. The Easter joy is what propels us forward for the rest of Lent. Ultimately, we fast so that later we may feast in an ordered and truly blessed manner.

Catechesis: Mercy

Every Christian is quite familiar with the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is the quintessential parable about the Father’s extravagant mercy. The explication Jesus gives in the parable provides us with several constitutive elements of mercy.

Abandoning his father, the prodigal son loses his identity; for which the analogy is that of being in a far away country. In this state he completely loses his dignity as he even finds himself longing to eat the husks of the pigs (particularly horrifying for the Jewish people). Once the son comes to his right mind he returns home expecting to be received back as a servant. The father lavishes great love upon him and restores him to his identity as a son, signified by the ring and the robe. The older son wants to know why this extravagance for a wayward son. That is what mercy is. It is loving someone specifically when they are in misery. Mercy-love also refuses to seek vengeance but restores one to his original identity and dignity, raising him up out of the misery. But, in being restored, the young son must also resume his responsibilities within the father’s house. In restoring the sinner to his dignity, mercy expects and demands righteous conversion.

Lectio Divina

Whoever is in Christ is a new creation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or frustration? How do we listen to Jesus? What would it mean for you to listen more? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What might the Lord be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: Sacrament

Perhaps the most important word for understanding Catholicism is sacrament. It is a particular way of seeing the world. Pope Benedict XVI called it “sacramental mysticism.” It means to see beyond the mere appearance of things and into their inner reality, as we do with the Eucharist. Sacraments allow us to experience, through our senses, the reality of God’s grace at work. Without the sacraments we could never really know if God was working for our salvation.

The greatest sacrament of all is Jesus himself. His human body is a sacrament. He is the Son of God who has made himself visible to us through his humanity; and that is how we experience him. With respect to his mercy — God’s love for us while we are in misery — we can only  experience this merciful love in a sacramental way. That is the sacrament of confession. The inner reality of the sacrament is an encounter with the merciful love of Christ while we are in the state of our sinful misery. Through the absolution of the priest we are lifted from our misery and restored to our dignity as saints in the communion of the blessed.

The Friends of God: St. Isidore of Seville

Patron of the Internet

Feast Day: April 4

Isidore lived from 560 to 636. He was a bishop known for his extensive learning and for ensuring that his seminarians learned arts and sciences along with theology. Isidore was unique in calling for synods to assist him with administration of his diocese as opposed to pure monarchical governance. As a boy, Isidore was raised and educated by his older brother who was very harsh in his treatment of his younger brother. Even through the harsh treatment, Isidore kept his resolve to be educated. His efforts paid off as he became a Doctor of the Church. Isidore’s forgiveness towards his brother also helped him to become a saint.

Almighty and eternal God who has created us in thine image and bade us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful, especially in the divine person of Thy only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee that through the intercession of Saint Isidore, bishop and doctor, during our journeys through the internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter. Father we ask you this, through Christ our Lord. Amen

Spiritual Joyfulness

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

With spiritual joy, one gives greater glory to God and honors him: demonstrating with deeds that one thinks well of God and is content in his service and with his treatment. By contrast, one dishonors God, slights God by one’s deeds and in the estimation of God if one remains unhappy: “and it was thus that my people thoroughly humiliated me.” If to belittle a neighbor is such an abominable thing, what then will it be to belittle God? A sad servant dishonors his master, but a joyful and content servant honors him. For that reason we want to give to others a great idea of God our Father in order to give him the glory that is his due. We serve him with pleasure and joy, not with sadness and against our will. We esteem, we appreciate, we magnify his gifts. We pray by hoping in him, and we glorify him again, as a GOD absolutely good, merciful, generous and faithful. Let those be sad who serve tyrants such as the world, the flesh, the devil, as the saints have said.

March 24, 2019 – Third Sunday of Lent

Why Do We Do That? The Scrutinies

In many parish churches all around the world, the third Sunday of Lent begins the series of Scrutinies during Sunday Mass. The Scrutinies are rites celebrated on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent wherever there are candidates preparing for the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Communion). These rites involve the Elect. These are the catechumens who are preparing to become Christians at the Easter Vigil.

The Scrutinies do not involve cross-examination but are, in fact, prayers of healing and strengthening for the catechumens. Minor exorcisms are actually performed over the catechumens. These prayers are focused on expelling all that is weak and sinful in the catechumens but also calling forth all that is good and true in them so that they will be better prepared for the initiation awaiting them. During these rites, the catechumens are also anointed with the Oil of Catechumens, one of the Sacred Oils consecrated by the Bishop during the annual Chrism Mass which is held on Tuesday of Holy Week in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Catechesis: The Divine Name

When Moses saw the burning bush (Exodus 3) he met God for the first time. It was at that time that God revealed his name. YHWH, meaning “I AM,” is the name God presented to Moses when asked. Observant Jews to this day do not pronounce this name; rather, they substitute for it the title “Lord” or “Adonai,” in Hebrew. For Hebrews, to know one’s name was to know the person. As the name “I AM” suggests, no one knows God. Yet, in telling his name to Moses, the Lord was making himself known and giving himself to us to the extent that we can grasp the mystery. What we know of God is much less than what we do not know of him.

In ancient Israel the name of God was only to be spoken by one man: the High Priest. Even the High Priest was only to speak the name YHWH only once a year on the Day of Atonement. The High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies — the most sacred space in the world in the heart of the Temple in Jerusalem — to perform rituals of atonement for the sins of the people of Israel, and he would utter the divine name. Out of respect for the Jewish people, the Church does not permit the divine name to be used during any liturgy.

Lectio Divina

“But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”   — Luke 13:3

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or frustration? How do we listen to Jesus? What would it mean for you to listen more? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What might the Lord be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: Choosing a New Name

The Easter mysteries will soon be upon us and there will be some newly baptized members of the Church. One special tradition will be the taking of a new name. We choose a baptismal and/or confirmation name to emphasize that we are made new in Christ. A name indicates the dignity of a person as it is a sign of one’s unique personal identity.

Christians should have names that reflect Christian sentiment. Chosen names can be of any of the saints or of Christian virtues (Faith, Hope or Charity for example). It would not be in keeping with Christian piety and good religion to adopt a name that is reflective of either a purely secular or non Judeo-Christian culture. For example, one should not attempt to baptized with the name Jupiter as this is the name given to a god of the Roman Empire.

There is a pious custom in the Church to conduct a naming rite before one receives baptism or confirmation. It is a moving moment when someone publicly chooses the name with which he or she will forever be connected to the mighty act of God.

The Friends of God: Bl. James Claxton

Feast Day: March 28

The period in English history during the reigns of Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I was one of terrible religious persecution. Queen Mary attempted to reverse the Reformation. She executed 284 Protestants in her desire to preserve Catholicism. Elizabeth, a Protestant, had around 800 Catholics martyred. One of them was Bl. James Claxton, a priest educated at the English College Seminary in Reims, France. One third of the graduates of that seminary were executed in England for the charge of being a priest. Bl. James was one of those priests who left the seminary for England knowing that his life was in danger. Still, he went to his native home to courageously minister to English Catholics. He was arrested, drawn and quartered in 1588.

Almighty God, who in England raised up martyrs from every walk of life to vindicate the authority of Your Churchin teaching and worship, grant through their intercession, we pray, that all our people may be gathered once again to celebrate the same sacraments under the one Shepherd, Jesus Christ, Your Son. Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Obstacles in Prayer

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

To ask for purely temporal graces, or for no other end but the sole needs of life, such as good fortune, prosperity, quiet, or good health, not in order to better follow the Lord, not to better practice virtue, but for a more comfortable and tranquil life: “these are the things all men seek after,” says the Lord (Mt. 6). These are fleeting things, passing goods, of an order inferior to man, and particularly dangerous for the Christian, and liable to convert themselves into evils. Jesus Christ said, “whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.” That which is asked for, must be something worthy of God. Otherwise it would not be suitable for him to be involved with it. Now all the goods on this earth, considered apart from salvation, are nothing before God. “Up to this point you have not asked me anything in my name.” the Lord said to his Apostles because they asked for purely earthly things, not according to his spirit.

March 17, 2019 – Second Sunday of Lent

Why Do We Do That? No Alleluia

The Alleluia is the one of the most recognizable parts of prayer and, certainly, of the Mass. It is sung just prior to the reading of the Gospel and emphasizes the joy of having received the gift of faith and the presence of the Kingdom of God. In scripture it says that the angels sing alleluia, so our singing of it is a participation in the heavenly liturgy.

In Lent, however, we stop singing alleluia during the Mass. While it is true that we already participate sacramentally in the joy of heaven, it is also true that history has not reached its final consummation in heaven. Lent is a time to remind us that we are not there yet; there is still more to be done in this life. To emphasize the pilgrimage of Lent and the disciplined work required, the Church ceases with the alleluia during this penitential season.

The return of the alleluia at Easter marks a recognizable shift back to the joy of the resurrection.

Catechesis: Citizenship in Heaven

One claim that has always had enormous significance in human life is the claim of citizenship. Being a citizen of a society obviously makes a substantial and practical difference. Passionate debate about the difference between the citizen and the non-citizen is a perpetual feature of any organized society. It was no different in the time of St. Paul who wrote to the Philippians about their citizenship being in heaven.

Philippi was a colony city of the Roman Empire. Having citizenship in the empire was of immense importance and would have certainly been on the minds of anyone living in the city. Paul writes to remind them that their principal citizenship is actually in heaven due to their baptism. Also, because Paul has founded the Church in Philippi, he wants them to know that it is now a colony of Heaven. One whose mind is so emphatically concerned about the earthly citizenship that he forgets about the heavenly one has made himself an enemy of the cross of Christ. We must consider more the rights and responsibilities of our ultimate citizenship.

Lectio Divina

“Listen to him .”  — Luke 9:35

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or frustration? How do we listen to Jesus? What would it mean for you to listen more? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What might the Lord be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: The Code of Canon Law

The Code of Canon Law is the collection of rights and responsibilities for all citizens of heaven. Here is a sample:

Can. 212 §

1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

The Friends of God: St. Rafqa

Patron of: Lost Parents

Feast Day: March 25

Rafqa was a Lebanese woman born in 1832 and a member of the Maronite Rite. Her mother died when she was 7 and she spent her early years working as a domestic servant to help support her family. She would eventually choose life as a nun where she excelled as a woman of silent contemplation and as a teacher. She once even saved a child from being murdered. Rafqa requested that Jesus grant her the grace to share in his suffering, which he granted to her. She spent many years suffering from terrible headaches and paralysis. Confined to a bed in her later years, she used hear healthy hands to knit socks as an act of service for others.

We ask you, Saint Rafqa, to spread joy in our world and comfort those who are suffering.  You healed the sick by enduring sorrow and sharing in the Mystery of Redemption with Our Lord Jesus Christ. We ask you to intercede for all the sick, to fill our hearts with joy and love and to guide us to follow in your example. May we glorify with you, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen.

Means of Acquiring Joyfulness

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

Think frequently of the Lord and thank him for the goods that we possess and hope to possess. For example, for the great good — namely the grace of God, that we possess and for the Paradise that we hope for. Let us go often to take from the Angels and Blessed above an air of joyfulness, thinking that from now on we are citizens of Heaven and fortifying ourselves in Christian hope and the merits connected with each good action; and to the communion of saints.

Act with holy readiness and simplicity, that is, do things with a good intention, and do them immediately, without reasoning too much about them, or becoming over-reflective. Rather, cut off all reflections, saying to yourself: “I should not dwell on this; one needs only to do what is good.”

March 10, 2019 – First Sunday of Lent

Why Do We Do That? Abstinence from Meat

Eating meat has long been considered a normal part of the Western diet. But think of past centuries, especially several centuries ago, and you can imagine that meat would have been quite expensive. Given that expense in the Middle Ages, for example, meat was usually served for special times of celebration — for feasts. This is why the Church binds us to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent. Those days are days of penitence and mourning, not of feasting. The Church is calling us through abstinence to make a practical form of
penance and simpler living by abstaining from a staple of our diet.

Prior to a the Penitential Reform of Pope St. Paul VI in 1966, all Fridays of the year were days of abstinence. That is no longer the case. All Fridays are still days of penitence and should be observed with some form of penance. Keeping the tradition of abstaining from meat on all Fridays of the year (except when a Solemnity falls on a Friday) is a venerable practice, but other forms of penance are acceptable. For Lent, though, abstinence is a Church law.

Catechesis: You Shall be Saved

St. Paul writes to the Romans that everyone who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes in the heart that he was raised from the dead, will be saved. Clearly, this is an important passage as it speaks of salvation. There are two important points to make from this crucial statement.

First, one must confess with the lips that “Jesus is Lord.” This is a creed, one of the earliest. The faithful continue to confess this creed (along with other important statements, to be sure) to this very day. The creed is given to and accepted by those who are baptized. Believing in the resurrection is also part of this faith. Salvation, then, is something received and freely accepted by someone through faith expressed in a creed given by the Church. It is not a faith that I invent for myself. It is truly a gift that pre-dates me.

Second, Paul is declaring that Jesus is God. The name “Lord” was only given to God in the Old Testament. So, Paul is proclaiming the world-changing news that, in fact, Jesus of Nazareth is the true God. Lent is the time to strengthen our grasp of this saving faith.

Lectio Divina

“You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.”  — Luke 4:8

Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or apprehension? What constitutes worship? What dies it mean to serve the Lord? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. Have you taken the time to listen to what the Lord may be telling you? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: Stations of the Cross

One of Lent’s most well-known devotions is the Stations of the Cross. This devotion dates back to very early in the Church’s history. Once Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire and St. Helen sought out the ancient holy sites in Jerusalem, the Way of the Cross became a naturally desired site for pilgrims. St. Jerome, who lived in Jerusalem toward the end of his life in the 4th century, wrote about the many pilgrims who followed the steps of our Lord to Calvary.

Over the centuries, as the popularity of the devotion increased, the stations were reproduced in other parts of Europe so the faithful who could not make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land could still make the Way of the Cross spiritually.

In 1686, Pope Innocent XI permitted stations to be erected in every Church since the Muslim Turks did not permit Christians to have access to the real stations in Jerusalem. In 1726, Pope Benedict XIII granted an indulgence to anyone who practiced the devotion no matter where there were.

The Friends of God: St. Nicander

Feast Day: March 15

Nicander of Alexandria, Egypt lived in the 3rd century during the time of the great Diocletian Persecution of Christians. He was a physician and one of charitable disposition. Nicander would visit the Christians in prison, bring them food and tend to their medical needs. After Christians in Alexandria were martyred, their bodies would be dumped unceremoniously to be eaten by wild animals. Nicander risked his life to go out at night under cover of darkness to bury the Christian dead. He was eventually caught in the act, arrested, tortured and martyred himself. Nicander exemplified the Hippocratic Oath and was a true martyr for faith and charity.

O my Jesus, Thou who art very Love, enkindle in my heart that Divine Fire which consumes the Saints and transforms them into Thee. Amen.

Faith in Jesus

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

I believe, oh my God, I believe that Jesus Christ on the Cross is the truth of the mystery, of which the bronze Serpent was the figure. With this spirit, through the Faith, I believe in Him, I join Him to be healed from all the bites of the infernal Serpent.

Consider therefore Jesus Christ on the cross, as Life, and source of Life. Consider faith like a channel whereby the life of grace springs from the heart of Jesus Christ in that of the faithful. So, by means of this channel, join the heart of Jesus Christ.

Be united to this Most Sacred Heart, the source of life, in order to draw life in the heart of Jesus Christ. O Life! O source of Life! Give me life, communicate, spread, and make your life descend in my soul.

March 3, 2019 – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Prayer Before Mass

My God I offer you this holy sacrifice to recognize, honor and glorify your infinite greatness and the supreme dominion which, as the first principle and last end, you have above all created things. I give you this homage for all those who still do not know or do not want to recognize you in thanksgiving for the benefits that I and all the world have received and will receive from your infinite goodness, in satisfaction of my sins and of the whole world, to implore the graces that are necessary for my eternal salvation and for all mankind. Oh, my God, I offer to you the merits of Jesus Christ; grant me at this Holy Mass a profound adoration.

My God, my Creator, I implore you to grant me the grace of final perseverance, I know by faith that I do not deserve it, nor can I deserve it, but your Divine Son deserves it for me with so many praises and with so many wounds which he shows you in his Most Holy Body on behalf of my wounded love. Amen.

Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Why Do We Do That? Blessings

In the Church there are blessings happening repeatedly. Benediction is a very recognizable action of faith.

It’s important to know that benediction means “good speech.” In the first reading from Sirach much is made of the speech of a person. To grant a blessing is to speak good words of someone or something. These good words invoke the divine goodness and stir up the hearts of the faithful in preparation for receiving sacramental graces. Blessings are the chief sacramentals of the Church. These are sacred objects or actions meant to prepare the faithful to receive the grace of the sacraments worthily. Sacramentals are not guarantees of grace as the sacraments are.

There are two types of blessings: invocative and constitutive. Invocative blessings are pleas for the divine favor to rest upon someone, reminding the recipient of the goodness of God. Constitutive blessings actually consecrate someone or something to God. A blessed chalice is consecrated for use at Mass and a consecrated person is set aside for service to God as in a religious who takes vows.

Catechesis: The Power of Sin is the Law

St. Paul writes in his Letter to the Corinthians that the law is the power of sin. He writes of the Mosaic Law and the Commandments. Why would St. Paul say that the Commandments and the Law, so revered by the Jewish people, is the power of sin? We have to see Paul’s writing in Romans chapter 7 to understand.

In Romans Paul states that the Law is what makes us aware of sin. In other terms, the Law and the Commandments informs our consciences. With the formation of the Commandments we know, St. Paul states, for example, that coveting is an evil. If we didn’t have the Commandment against coveting, then how would we know that coveting was a sin? Paul is not saying consequently that the Law is sinful but that the Law forms our consciences which in turn informs us of the sins we commit. This what he means when he says that the power of sin is the law. The Law therefore cannot save us from sin; it can only inform us of the existence of sin.

St. Paul would remind the Corinthians and us that the victory over sin is not in the law but in a person: Jesus.

Lectio Divina

“Praise no one before he speaks, for it is then that people are tested.” — Sirach

Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Does it bring you hope or frustration? How is someone tested when they speak? Why would we praise someone immediately? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. Have you taken the time to listen to what the Lord may be telling you? What might he be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is upon us — one of the most popular days of the liturgical calendar. Ashes have always been a symbol of penitence. References to placing ashes on one’s head as a sign of mourning and repentance can be found in Esther, Job, Daniel and Jonah in the Old Testament. There are also references to the use of penitential ashes in the early Church.

The history of Ash Wednesday as the beginning of Lent dates back to at least the 8th century AD. Ashes were used to launch the Lenten season of penance as preparation to combat sin in one’s life such as to be open to receive the Easter sacraments and the joy of resurrection.

Ashes remind us of our origin and our destiny. We are made of the dust of the earth and we are destined to return to it. Only the Easter triumph of Christ can save us from this end. It is an immense dignity that God saves us by grace through our own freedom. We have a part to play in our own work of holiness. God gives his 100% and we must give ours.

The Friends of God: John of God

Patron of: Booksellers, firefighters

Feast Day: March 8

John was a Spaniard of the 16th century. His was truly not a normal, quiet life. He was known his whole life for being impulsive, yet he would follow through on any impulsive decision he ever made. He went off from home at age 8 to live as a begging missionary, never to see his parents again. Later he would become a shepherd and a Spanish soldier serving in two wars. At first, he lived a disreputable soldierly life, but a war with France led him to an impulsive decision to convert, which he dutifully completed. He would just as impulsively give away everything he had to serve someone in need, which he did several times in his life. He even once saved several people from a fire and stopped the spread of it by chopping the building in half with an axe. He also started his own hospital to serve the poorest.

Father, you gave John of God love and compassion for others. Grant that by doing good for others, we may be counted among the saints in your kingdom. Amen.

On the Speech of God

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

There is only one thing that is necessary, there is only one God who is necessary, he is everything: the rest is nothing; and all that is vanishing before his face, and all the nations are emptiness and nothingness in his eyes, he alone is necessary to us, he alone must be desired, and to whom it is necessary to unite. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the everything, all the rest is foreign to us: that alone belongs to us, as a thing of our own, but it is all our substance, all our being. Whatever you lose, provided you do not lose God, you have lost nothing, so let the rest go; resolve yourself only to fear God and love; this is everything.

February 17, 2019 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why Do We Do That? Fraction Rite

As we sing the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) during the Mass just prior to communion the fraction rite takes place. This part of the Holy Mass is when the priest breaks the Host. The first breaking is the sign of Christ breaking his body for us on the cross. Typically bread is broken that it may be shared. So is it with the Body of Christ. His body is broken for us that we might share in his life. We too are called to be broken, sacrificially, for the sake of others that they might share in the love God has for us.

The second fraction (called the comingling) happens when the priest breaks a small piece of the Host and drops it into the chalice. This is the sign that the Body and Blood of Christ which were separated at his death are now reunited in the resurrection. It is not the dead Body of Christ that we receive in communion; no, it is the living, glorious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ

Living this breaking for others in our own lives in union with Christ is what will lead us to resurrection in Jesus, too.

Catechesis: Hope

St. Paul tells us in his First Letter to the Corinthians that there are three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. This Sunday’s readings focus on hope. Natural hope is the emotion that provides energy for us to struggle in the attainment of difficult goals; goals that are worthy of effort. Supernatural hope is a gift from God that empowers the will to pursue salvation, which is sharing in the joy of God, based not on our own merits but by grace from the Holy Spirit.

We naturally hope for happiness. It is ultimately for happiness that we do everything we do. By grace our desire for happiness reaches to a point well beyond nature. We can only attain to the happiness of heaven through Christ himself who provides us with many reasons for hope that we can; namely, forgiveness of sins, the sacraments, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, etc. Preaching about the beatitudes Jesus gave a picture of what true happiness is and what it is we should hope for. Though we may weep much in this life, clinging to Christ we may hope for the day when nothing remains of tears but only the sound of joyous laughter.

Lectio Divina

“Blessed are they who hope in the Lord .” — Psalm 1

Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Do you have hope? What does it mean to be blessed? What does it mean to hope in the Lord? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. Have you taken the time to listen to what the Lord may be telling you? What might he be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

One of the greatest devotions in the Church is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This chaplet is prayed on a normal set of rosary beads and is derived from the mystical visions of St. Faustina     Kowalska, a Polish nun of the early 20th century. In one of her visions in 1933 she saw that an unnamed city was set to receive divine retribution. As the Angel of the Lord was preparing to strike the city, St. Faustina found herself praying earnestly before God in words that came from within her but not from her. The prayer was from the Lord and it was the basis of the chaplet imploring God’s mercy on the world, not for our sake but for the sake of the passion of the Son of God.

As a devotion concentrated on the mercy of God through the passion of Jesus, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is an instrument of hope. Praying it we are given great encouragement to overcome sin not by our will-power but by the merits of Christ, which then gives us confidence to grow in holiness. Cultivating trust in God is an exercise of great value that increases our hope in the eternal Father.

The Friends of God: St. Polycarp

Patron of: Ear aches

Feast Day: February 23

Polycarp was a student of the Apostle St. John and a leader of the second generation of Christians. The challenges of governing after the founding generation are always manifold. Polycarp helped decide on liturgical practices not settled by the Apostles. He diligently fought off heresies that sought to change the course of the Church established by the Apostles. He was a holy bishop who was known for using the gospel as his model for how to interact with people. As the Roman persecution of the Church raged Polycarp, being a well-known bishop, was targeted and ultimately placed in the arena with wild animals. He bravely accepted his martyrdom while assuring his flock of the rewards of the Kingdom of Heaven.

God of all creation, who were pleased to give the Bishop Saint Polycarp a place in the company of the Martyrs, grant, through his intercession, that, sharing with him in the chalice of Christ, we may rise through the Holy Spirit to eternal life. Amen.

Prayer Before Meditation

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

God with faith enlightens us, with hope helps us; thus he remedies our ignorance and infirmity.

Through Revelation God speaks to man: the Creator communicates his thoughts to the Creature, communicates all the truths consoling for her, all the necessary truths and without whose cognition we would necessarily perish.

The Most High God saw how many troubles the ignorance in man has caused, and because of his immense goodness he drew them out of that ignorance by that great communication of his Eternal Wisdom.

Let us therefore thank the Lord from the heart for having spoken to us earlier through his prophets, ultimately then through his own Son, who became like us for this purpose; nor content with thanking him; remember that they are not words of a man, but of God: therefore, let us firmly believe them.

February 10, 2019 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why Do We Do That? Holy, Holy, Holy

Just before the Eucharistic Prayer begins (the first time the congregation kneels) we all sing Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, God of Hosts. In Latin this is called the Sanctus. In the reading from Isaiah chapter 6 (the first reading this Sunday) we read how the Seraphim in Heaven cry out with the thrice-holy acclaim of God. As we sing this we must know that we are truly participating in the worship of the Seraphim in Heaven. This is another way of realizing one of the petitions of the Our Father. We pray that “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In heaven they cry “holy, holy, holy;” and so it is on earth at Holy Mass. This helps us to understand the sacramentality of the Church and of the liturgy. Being sacramental means that the Church and her liturgy makes visibly present an invisible reality or power, allowing us to have a share in that reality and power. Through Jesus Christ, our High Priest, our humanity is able to be where, previously, only the angels belonged.

Singing “holy” three times, we are reminded of the Holy Trinity and the fullness of his holiness.

Catechesis: The Creed

A very important part of being Catholic is to be able to answer in some form what it means to be a Christian. We know from the writings of St. Paul, including from this week’s 2nd reading from the Letter to the Corinthians, that creeds existed in the earliest times.

St. Paul writes:
“For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.”

This is an example of a very early creed. We still
profess this today, along with other essential elements of the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed, which we profess together every Sunday. It is not sufficient in the least to say that “I believe in something.” For us, we must state clearly that we believe in God — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We must state clearly that we know that Jesus is the Son of God and that he has died for our sins and is risen from the dead. That this is real history as confirmed by the physical eyes of the Apostles who have handed on this living faith.

Lectio Divina

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,”Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?”
“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”
 — Isaiah 6:8

Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the Word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Do you have peace? What does the Lord wish to convey to you? Have you heard a call from God such as this? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What might the Lord be telling you through this? Are you able to experience being in the presence of God as Isaiah did? What does it mean to be sent? “Where” might God be calling you to go?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: Burial

In baptism we are said to be buried with Christ, so that we might rise with him. The connection between dying with Christ and rising with him is found in the white baptismal cloth and the white pall cloth draped over the casket at the beginning of a funeral. One of the corporal works of mercy is to bury the dead. It is immensely important to have a funeral mass for Catholic loved ones. One form of burial that is becoming increasingly popular is cremation. It is important to know a few points before planning a funeral at the local parish.

Cremation is indeed permitted by the Church as long as belief in the resurrection of the body is understood. The body of a baptized person is to be reverenced with great solemnity as it serves as the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, it is preferred that the body be present at the funeral before the cremation, so that it may receive all of the proper attention it deserves. After cremation, ashes MUST be buried as any other body would. NO part of the ashes may be scattered in any way, nor kept in an urn at home.

The Friends of God: Sts. Cyril & Methodius

Patron of: Europe & Slavic People

Feast Day: February 14

These saints were brothers and highly educated. Among their many roles and talents, they were physicians, professors of philosophy, government officials, monks and missionaries. In the 9th century there was a great need for missionaries to assist with the growth of the Church among the Slavic peoples. Cyril and Methodius were called upon at different points to help Slavs become a local Church in their own rite. To this end St. Cyril created an alphabet so the Slavic people could pray and worship in their own language, read the Bible and develop prayer books. They faced serious opposition to German clergy who disdained the idea of the liturgy being in any language but Latin.

Father, you brought the light of the gospel to the Slavic nations through St. Cyril and his brother St. Methodius.
Open our hearts to understand your teaching and help us to become one in faith and praise. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer Before Meditation

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

God of infinite Power, Wisdom and Goodness, I believe with firm and living faith that I am in your Divine presence; I know that you penetrate most intimately into my heart, and you know what I am in your sight. Humbly prostrated before your incomprehensible Majesty, I adore you with all those who adore you in Heaven and on earth. I adore you as One in essence and as Three Persons. I adore you and I take delight in your Divine attributes.

I know that by myself I am efficacious in nothing. However, I beg you, O Lord, to succor me with your holy grace in this meditation that I am beginning. Deign, O Eternal Father, to settle my memory and fill it with good thoughts. Deign, O Divine Son, to dissipate the shadows of my intellect and illumine it so that it is occupied only with you. Deign, O Holy Spirit, to purify and inflame my will, so that it goes only in search of you.

January 27, 2019 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why Do We Do That? The Epiclesis

In Luke’s Gospel we read that Jesus returned to Galilee “in the power of the Spirit.” This is a reminder of a very important part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At the heart of the Mass is the Anaphara, or the Eucharistic Prayer. This Greek term refers to “offering up” something. In the case of the Mass, what is being offered up is the Holy Sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist. The anaphora is the whole Eucharistic Prayer and part of that prayer is what is called the epiclesis. This Greek term means to “call down from on high.” It happens at the part of the Eucharistic Prayer when the priest asks that the Father send his Holy Spirit down upon the bread and wine to change them into the Body and Blood of Christ. As he invokes the Spirit, the priest places his hands solemnly over the bread and wine. In the Western Churches it is understood that the epiclesis is a prayer acknowledging that the Mass happens only in the power of the Spirit, while the consecration (“This is my body”) is when the actual change takes place. In the Eastern Churches the epiclesis is considered the point at which the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of the Lord, and the words of consecration express the mystery that has just been carried out.

Catechesis: The Mystical Body of Christ

Mystically, all the faithful form the Body of Christ. Using the word mystically is important because it demonstrates that the union of all the baptized in Christ is not a social club or a corporation, nor is it exactly like a physical body, but it does have boundaries. The body of Christ is the society of the faithful united together in a bond of charity with the Bishop of Rome. This union in Christ is the Church. The Church as the Mystical Body of Christ is a sacrament in that it makes our union with God a visible reality.

As any other body, the Body of Christ has various organs to make it living and effective. The soul of the Body is the Holy Spirit. The head of the Body is Christ himself and all the faithful together compose the parts. As St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Corinthians, we each possess charisms or personal spiritual gifts that contribute to the building up of the Body. This is the mystical form of democracy. We don’t vote for what we believe, that is given to us by revelation, but we do participate as citizens in Body of Christ through our talents and charisms utilized for the glory of God.

Lectio Divina

“Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep.”  — Nehemiah 8:9

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

This is the Word of God. Take time to consider it carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Do you have peace? What does the Lord wish to convey to you? Why would He say this? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. Have you taken the time to listen to what the Lord may be telling you? What might he be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Him to help you listen with confidence? Have you been sad? How will you make today holy?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way: The Lord’s Day

As we read in Nehemiah, we are called to remember to keep the Sabbath Day holy. This is the third commandment. For Christians the Lord’s Day (Sunday) has perfected the Sabbath Day (Saturday), so we observe Sunday as our day of rest and worship due to its being the day of resurrection and re-creation. Proper observance of Sunday means having a day of worship and recreation, of relaxation and joy. We are called to put aside all labor and business concerns that would impede this important time of rest and happiness. It should be a day of leisure, works of charity and service, along side a day of public worship with the rest of the Body of Christ. There are circumstances of course that make it near impossible to observe fully a day of rest (the classic examples would be police officers or nurses) but the faithful are called to avoid making labor on Sunday a habit. To lose Sunday to labor and unnecessary activities is to risk one’s humanity and to become like a machine. Sunday is vital to keep the Body of Christ fresh and renewed. When necessary, travel or other grave concerns make Sunday Mass impossible to observe, the faithful should take time for prayer and the Bible.

The Friends of God: St. Thomas Aquinas

Patron of: Universities and Students

Feast Day: January 28

St. Thomas Aquinas is a towering intellectual figure in the history not only of the Church but, truly, the whole world. His mark on understanding the Catholic faith is virtually unparalleled. Almost the entirety of the section on morality in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is taken from his writings. St. Thomas’ great accomplishment was to synthesize the Greek philosophy of Aristotle with the revelation contained in Scripture and Tradition. His parents, recognizing their son’s talent, wanted him to become a Benedictine on a path toward being an Abbot. Thomas chose the way of poverty with the Dominicans thus, renouncing a life of glory and accepting one of humble service.

Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.

On the Law of the Gospel

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

What more has the Lord to do to persuade me to believe that which he teaches me and to practice the Law? After having sent the Patriarchs and the Prophets, he came himself in person, visibly, making himself one of us, and making himself our Associate in the Incarnation, our Teacher in Preaching, our exemplar in the whole course of his life. And to precede us he also provided the example of so many fragile others like ourselves, who practice the virtue that he has proposed to us, so that it is inexcusable if we do not also practice the same virtue ourselves, taking up the resolution of St. Augustine, and saying “That which this man is doing, and that man, why am I not also doing it?” And saying to the Lord “I will follow you wherever you go.”

January 20, 2019 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why Do We Do That? The Ministers of Matrimony

Every sacrament requires a minister to effect it and make it valid. Without the priest there is no Eucharist or absolution of sin. In the case of matrimony the ministers are the spouses. Sometimes it is thought that the priest or the deacon is the minister but he is actually the witness. The true ministers that make the sacrament of marriage happen are the man and the woman exchanging their vows. When the two give their consent and pronounce their vows to one another and to God they make the sacrament happen. The couple has the power to do this because of their baptism. Baptism empowers one to offer sacrifice to God and the greatest sacrifice is life itself. This doesn’t have to mean violent sacrifice as in the case of a martyr but the everyday martyrdom of married life. The sacrifices required in a marriage are priestly and should be joined to the ultimate sacrifice of the Jesus on the cross – and in this life that means the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. All married couples should attend Mass together as they realize concretely for each other the meaning of the Eucharist and are strengthened as ministers.

Catechesis: Mediatrix

Our Lady was given a role in salvation unique and singular, to be Mother of God and of the Church and all the redeemed. From the moment she gave consent to become the Mother of the Savior at the Annunciation she became a mediator for us. Her intercessory power is completely under Christ and is received as a gift. The very first miracle performed by Jesus was through Our Lady’s intercession at the wedding at Cana. It was then that Jesus first manifested his glory. He continues to manifest his glory in manifold ways and Mary continues to perform her role as mediator and Mother. As Vatican II stated: This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. Mary’s role in our lives is indispensable as she is The Woman with the Mediator.

Lectio Divina

“Do whatever he tells you.”  — John 2:5
Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy. Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated? These are the words of Mary. Take time to consider them carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Do you have peace? What does Our Lady wish to convey to you? Why would Our Lady say this? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart.
Have you taken the time to listen to what Jesus may be telling you? What might he be telling you at this time of your life? Can you ask Mary to help you listen with confidence to the Lord?
Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way

Weddings are among the most excited and wonderful experience in life. What makes a marriage different from every other type of relationship is the depth of intimacy and mutual commitment made by the man and woman. There are four components of a marriage that make it different from all other relationships. 1. Fidelity—The emotional, physical, spiritual and psychological intimacy of marriage belongs to the spouses exclusively. “You and none other.” 2. Openness to life—A sexual relationship that blocks life is not a marriage. While having children at any given moment is a matter of prudence, being open to life is essential in a marriage. 3. Mutual service— Spouses vow to one another that they live for the other, not for themselves. To love is ultimately not about feeling good all the time but about choosing the good of the spouse even if it temporarily may be difficult. 4. The Sacrament—The previous three are common to all marriages but the fourth is exclusive to Christians. Marriage is a sacrament, which means there is grace in it. Marriage makes the partners holy and prepares them to be saints. These four goals make a marriage.

The Friends of God: St. Agnes

Patron of: Young girls, chastity, sexual assault survivors

Feast Day: January 21

Agnes was a girl of 12 or 13 in the late 3rd century. As she was from a wealthy family and quite beautiful many men sought her hand in marriage. However, she had promised herself in perpetual chastity to Jesus. When one wealthy suitor was rebuffed by her he betrayed her to authorities as a Christian; it was still illegal in Rome at the time. She was arrested and urged to renounce her faith or face death or defilement. Remaining faithful to Jesus and to her chastity she refused. She was martyred in Rome. Her relics are venerated at her basilica in the Piazza Navona in Rome.

O glorious St. Agnes, you served God in humility and confidence on earth and are now in the enjoyment of His beatific Vision in heaven because you persevered till death and gained the crown of eternal life. Remember now the dangers that surround me in the vale of tears, and intercede for me in my needs and troubles. Amen.

On Marriage

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

God has placed me in this state of life; in this and no other I must serve him and be saved. All of the circumstances and events in mystate of life, for example the different dispositions I have to dealwith, the events that will take place, the times and places in which they will happen, manifest the order of Providence that the Lord has willed to save me. I have to adapt myself to all these things that happen to me, and not think I can force them to adapt to me. In fact, I will always try to adapt with peace and joy of heart, convinced that God knows better than I what is best suited for my good. My principal care will be to win the affection of my spouse. Therefore, it will be my concern and consolation to please him/her in everything. In fact, I will be particularly attentive to his innocent inclinations so as to anticipate and satisfy them when with him.

January 13, 2019 – Baptism of the Lord

Why Do We Do That? The Formula for Baptism

Human beings are both material and spiritual. We posses bodies and we posses souls. In the same way the sacraments have both a physical/material aspect and a spiritual component. The physical component of a sacrament is the material thing needed for the action. In Anointing of the Sick the material thing is oil. In priesthood it is a man. In marriage is a man and a woman. In Baptism the material thing is water. The spiritual component is the words spoken by the minister(s) celebrating the sacrament. In baptism the words are, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This formula is absolutely essential and necessary for the sacrament to take place. Without those words there is no sacrament just as there could not be a baptism without water, as if speaking the words without pouring the water of the head makes a   baptism happen. Under normal circumstances only a bishop, priest or deacon should baptize someone. In an emergency though, say if someone were in immediate danger of death, anyone can baptize validly by using water and the proper formula.

Catechesis: Baptism

Baptism is the first and most necessary of all the sacraments. It is the gateway to salvation and to all the other sacraments. Through it the guilt of original sin is removed and one is made a child of God and incorporated into the Body of Christ. Without baptism, no one is able to be admitted to any other sacrament. There is within the Tradition of the Church the idea of baptism by desire. This would refer to someone who is not sacramentally and physically baptized but who would receive it if he or she were to know how necessary it is and who truly desire to be in union with God. If this baptism by desire exists then why would the Church insist that physical water baptism is necessary? Baptism of desire is something that can only be known by God. The Church can   never know with certainty that anyone has baptism by   desire. We can know for sure that water baptism does in fact work because our Lord has promised such.  Furthermore, it is water baptism that admits one to the other sacraments, especially penance and eucharist. It is the difference between desiring to participate and actually participating.

Lectio Divina

The Lord will bless his people with peace.” — Psalm 29

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

These are the words of God. Take time to consider them carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Do you have peace? What does the psalm say about how to come about peace? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart. What makes us His people? Do you desire to be His? Can you tell the Lord now about your desire for peace?

Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way

Usually on the Tuesday of Holy Week the bishop blesses the holy oils at the Chrism Mass. One of the three oils blessed is the Chrism Oil. This oil is used in three sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. Since Chrism is used for these three they must have something important in common. What they have in common is priesthood. A baptized person joins the priesthood of all the faithful. Being a priest, the believer is able to offer sacrifice. For the layman this sacrifice is his or her life in being faithful to God in all the moments of life. In Confirmation one becomes a priest for others, offering the sacrifice of working for the salvation of others. In Holy Orders one becomes an ordained priest (or bishop) and thus able to offer the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist, which unites and perfects all other sacrifices. In the end, all three sacraments point to the supreme sacrament of the   Eucharist, the perfect sacrifice of Christ the High Priest. Chrism oil is also used in the consecration of a new altar upon which the supreme sacrifice is offered.

The Friends of God: St. Anthony, Abbot

Patron of: Animals, Farmers

Feast Day: January 17

Anthony sold off his possessions and left resources to provide for his younger sister, then he fled into the desert to seek union with God without distraction. In the desert Anthony had to deal with the temptations of lust, boredom, sloth, anger and many others. Persevering, Anthony found holiness and the union with God he sought so passionately. Monks and nuns who leave behind the world to focus on the spiritual life leave behind for the rest of us a map of the soul that we too might make out journey to God.

Dear God, St. Anthony the Abbot accepted your call to renounce the world and to love you above all things. He faithfully served you in the solitude of the desert by fasting, prayer, humility and good works. In the Sign of the Cross, he triumphed over the devil. Through his intercession, may we learn to love you better, with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, all our strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. St. Anthony the Abbot, great and powerful saint, intercede for us also for this special request…. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

On Prayer

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

In the order of divine providence, the more necessary the means to salvation, the more God renders it easy to practice. Thus among the sacraments, there is nothing easier than Baptism; the matter is simply water, the minister any person, and it can be administered at any place, time, or age. So too one can pray in any place, at home, while traveling, in bed, at any time during the day or night, without sublimity of thought or elegance of style. Rather “He hath had  regard to the prayer of the humble, and he hath not despised their petition” (Ps 101:18).

It is not necessary to wait for an audience, to seek out mediators, to study expressions. We ourselves are the temple of God. The heart is the altar where prayers reside and are welcome, without which it opens to others or interferes there with our hearing God.

January 6, 2019 – Feast of the Epiphany

Why Do We Do That? Candles

An epiphany is a manifestation of divine power. In the face of Christ God himself is manifested. Jesus is the light of the world as he has unveiled the full truth about God and his kingdom. On the solemnity of the Epiphany we celebrate his manifestation to all the nations, represented by the visit of the Magi. He is now the light of all nations. The Church continues to utilize candles at all of its liturgies to symbolize the light of Christ. In the modern age of electricity there is no practical need for candle light. But the power of a flame burning a candle for the glory of God remains a powerful reminder that the light of Christ is deeper and truer than all other lights. We continue to use candles also as a reminder that the there are Catholics who must hide in the darkness of the underground to celebrate the Eucharist. Their perseverance through persecution keeps the flame of faith alive for us through the mystical Body of Christ. We must always remain vigilant and watchful for the day of the Lord.

Catechesis: The Economy of Salvation

In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul mentions his stewardship of God’s grace as something already known by the Church. Stewardship is basically being a manager or supervisor in service to an organization. Paul is claiming to be a caretaker of grace. Salvation happens in an economy. Just as in monetary economics, salvation has production, distribution, trade and consumption. Grace happens in an economy and, in normal circumstances, in a systematic way. Grace comes to us from God through a series of mediations. The One supreme mediator is Jesus Christ. His birth into the human family made his humanity (particularly his body) a sacrament — an instrument for God to distribute his manifold graces to us. From Christ flows the seven sacraments of the Church and all of the devotions that prepare us for them. St. Paul and all of the Apostles were the original stewards of this system of graces. The bishops are now properly the stewards of this grace. Just as a monetary economy must have a market through which to work, so too does salvation require the “marketplace” of the Church.

Lectio Divina

“They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.”  -Matthew 2:10-11
Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.
Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?
These are the words of God. Take time to consider them carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Do you experience any joy over the birth of Christ? What have you been experiencing this Christmas? Have you found Jesus and Mary at all this Christmas season? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart.

The holy Family found a house to welcome them. Is that true of your home? What do you wish to offer the newborn King? Ask the Holy Spirit, in your
heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way

Epiphany blessing is a simple way to witness to your visitors and to the neighbors that the light of Christ has reached you and your home and that you will extend that blessing and welcome to all those who visit in this new year of grace.

Use blessed chalk to write the following above or near the doors of the home: 20 + C + M + B + 19. The numbers represent the year 2019. CMB represents two things:

1. The initials of the three Magi who are traditionally named Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar.

2. The Latin phrase for a home blessing is Christus Mansionem Benedictat.

While writing pray: The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and fifteen years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen
Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever.

The Friends of God: St. Aelred of Rievaulx

Patron saint of: Bladder stone sufferers
Feast Day: January 12

Aelred was a monk and abbot of the Cistercian tradition in 12th century England. He was a man of great erudition and an exemplary teacher. He is most known for his writing on Friendship. Aelred was particularly devoted to helping his monks and other readers to know how Christians should live out their friendship as the truest form of love. For him friendship meant shared love in both divine and secular things where each person shares, listens, gives and receives.
O God, who gave the blessed Abbot Aelred the grace of being all things to all men, grant that, following his example, we may so spend ourselves in the service of one another, as to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Amen.

On Epiphany

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

Jesus Christ has chosen us to further his interests, to give currency to his maxims in taking up the defense of virtue against the pernicious ways of the world.

Jesus Christ is at the same time our way, our final end, our light, our food for the journey, our guide. Resemblance is the cause of love. You must imitate him if you want him to love you. He cherishes his friends in such a fashion that he wants to be at one with them. For this he has instituted the Sacrament of love in the form of flesh that is incorporated into the one who partakes of it, in order to unite himself bodily to us and to be only one, in a certain fashion, with unity of substance.

December 30, 2018 – Feast of the Holy Family

Why Do We Do That? Bible Readings at Mass

Through most of the year on Sundays and weekdays the first reading from the Mass is from the Old Testament. Over the course of a three-year period the Church organized readings so that we see the promises of God in the Old Testament and their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus in the New. This three-year period allows us to hear almost the entirety of the Bible.

During the seasons of Christmas and Easter, however, our first readings are often from the New Testament. At Christmas we hear the whole of St. John’s first letter as it replaces the Old Testament. This happens due to the special nature of the season. Because Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and the Word of God becoming flesh, John’s first letter is written to help us understand just what that means and the implications for our lives from this event. So, for the season of Christmas we absorb deeply just how profoundly and surprisingly God has delivered on the promises he made throughout history, the ones we hear about from the prophets through the year. What John has seen, heard and touched he must proclaim to us.

Catechesis: Lamb of God

When you hear the word “lamb”, what do you imagine? Usually modern audiences think of a cute little animal with fluffy wool, like a cloud. But John the Baptist was not speaking to a modern audience. His audience was Jewish, and when they heard the word “lamb” they thought of sacrifice. It was a lamb after all that was the sacrificial Passover meal that they ate, and still eat. John the Baptist is claiming that Jesus is the true Lamb of God. Christ will be the one who truly sacrifices himself for us that we may pass over sin and death and enter the promised land of God’s presence. He is the ‘Lamb” we eat at every Mass, the sacrificial meal that establishes communion with God and others. This is why we sing, “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us,” before we receive holy communion. By our recitation of that title we are showing ourselves to be disciples with those who first heard John preach in the wilderness. We are the disciples who follow the Apostolic faith in the Lamb of God who has come to us and takes away all sin, replacing it with his mercy. Jesus is our true Passover and, in communion, we pass with him into the Promised Land.

Lectio Divina

“What are you looking for?”  –John 1:38

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

These are the words of God. Take time to consider them carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. What are YOU looking for in your life? What has brought you to this Mass? What are you hoping for by believing in Jesus Christ and being in his Church? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart.

Does this bring you comfort? Why would Jesus ask this question? Are you able to answer this question to Jesus himself in your prayer?? Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way

Family is the basic institution in the world. By institution the Church means a pattern of customs, behaviors, expectations and practices that have been established through many, many generations that is left for every member of society as a gift from descendants to help shape a persons character. St, John Paul II taught that family is a school of socialization that teaches children how to be human. There we are supposed to learn how to communicate, how to share, how to resolve disputes, how to cooperate, how to pray and how to deal with the outside world in a confident and constructive way. The family is the Domestic Church where one should first learn how to live out the faith in a practical way every day. Ultimately it is families that are the building blocks of society. If families are not strong, if they are not supported, if they are not complete, the society suffers. The Christmas season provides an ample time for families to connect, to heal wounds and to learn and establish traditions that can be passed from generation to generation, creating a bond between the past, present and future.

The Friends of God: St. Elizabeth Seton

Patron saint of: Problems with in-laws, widows, against the death of children, opposition by Church authorities

Feast Day: January 4

Elizabeth Ann Seton has the distinction of being the first American-born saint. She was a convert from a high-society, New York Episcopalian family. Her wealthy husbands business and health both failed and she eventually lost him and their wealth. After her entrance in the Church she moved to Baltimore and started a school for girls. It became one of the first in what would eventually become the Catholic school system in America.

Lord God, you blessed Elizabeth Seton with gifts of grace as wife and mother, educator and foundress, so that she might spend her life in service to your people. Through her example and prayers may we learn to express our love for you in love for our fellow men and women. We ask this through Christ our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

On the Goodness of Jesus

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

Jesus is a deep font of Goodness that not only contains eminently and in a most perfect way every good that is found in creatures but every good that can still be imagined, and every good that can not be imagined not only by humans and angels, but by God himself. Having said this, I no longer wonder when I see Jesus Christ infinitely humble in a stable, infinitely humiliating on the Cross among two thieves, Jesus Christ made for us food and drink; Jesus Christ does not despise those who despise him, does not offend those who offend him, but rather, offering himself as victim to his enemies, dies, so to say, at the feet of his enemies to give them life, for having received, as Son of God and as man, a kindness without limits. His heart suffers in a certain way if it is not yet communicated to us, and we raise his heart if we accept his grace; nor can we do to Jesus Christ anything more acceptable than this.

December 23, 2018 – Fourth Sunday of Advent

Why Do We Do That? The Christmas Proclamation

Traditionally, at the beginning of Midnight Mass, before the Gloria is sung, the Church makes a formal declaration of the birth of Christ. The proclamation situates the birth of Jesus within both salvation and secular history to demonstrate that God has entered into our time and altered it.

All of the events mentioned are connected to the Nativity and fulfilled by it. For example, the prophecy of Daniel is mentioned, so we come to understand that the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy.

It is quite common to proclaim a new birth. At the very least we send out letters, postcards, emails or texts to friends and family to announce the arrival of the little one. When the child born is of royal lineage the announcement is usually quite formal, even today the press is present to witness the announcement. So, the Church makes this solemn and formal announcement that God is King in Jesus Christ and all of history has been preparing for this event. With the birth of Jesus history has altered from time moving away from God to time heading straight toward him to culminate eventually in a great wedding feast.

Catechesis: The Incarnation

References to The Incarnation mean that God became a man in Jesus Christ. Essentially this means that Jesus is the most important Sacrament. He makes God, who is pure Spirit, visible to us in his human body, just as all the sacraments make the power of God visible to us through the sacramental sign.

One of the earliest debates in the Church’s history was over the proper understanding of the Incarnation. The first ecumenical council in Nicaea, from which we derive most of our Creed, was called in order to address this very issue. There would be several other councils called in the early centuries of Christianity to settle the issue for good.

Jesus Christ is one person. He is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, God from God and Light from Light, true God from true God, as we profess. But in the Incarnation he also took on a human nature to be like us in every way except sin. So, Jesus is also fully human. He is not half-human and half-divine; Jesus is fully human and fully divine. Being such is not a case of multiple personalities. He remains one person. Truly the Divine Person of the Son of God.

Lectio Divina

“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”   — Luke 1:45

Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

These are the word of God. Take time to consider them carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Why is a believer blessed, as Elizabeth tells Mary? How is the Lord’s word fulfilled in the life of Mary? What is it that Mary believed? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart.

Does this bring you comfort? What do you think he means? How have you been blessed through your belief in God’s word? Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way

Christmas is more than a day! We celebrate a season that lasts till the feast of the Baptism of the Lord on January 13. You will notice that the Christmas decorations remain up till then. The mystery of Christ’s life is not a one-day affair. God becoming a man is an event unparalleled in history. The world is a much different place since the birth of Jesus Christ. These events require an entire liturgical season to celebrate and remember.

Christmas Day itself is actually extended for 8 days, called the Octave of Christmas, encompassing two Sundays. The first 8 days of the Christmas season are considered as if one day in the liturgy. Throughout this octave and indeed throughout the whole season we hear in the readings at Mass how the birth of Christ has already started to change the world and the lives of those who surround Jesus, for both good and bad.

Continue to send your Christmas cards and extend Christmas greetings to everyone. The secular world starts Christmas after Halloween and ends it on December 25. The truth is, we are just beginning!

The Friends of God: St. Stephen

Patron saint of: Deacons, Altar Servers, headaches

Feast Day: December 26

St. Stephen was the first Christian to suffer a death for his witness to Christ. In his defense before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Senate, St. Stephen argued lovingly that Jesus has fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament given through the prophets. With Christ, the full and true worship of God was now in established, which all peoples are invited to participate in through Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. For his argument, Stephen was stoned to death with the approval of Saul. Stephen prayed at his death for his persecutors. A prayer that converted Saul and made him St. Paul.

O glorious saint, faithful imitator of Jesus Christ martyr in will and in reality, so full of charity, zeal, love, and purity, deign to intercede for us poor   exiles; you who are so high in the favor of God, we do entreat you to procure for us a little spark of that divine love which animated your heart, that we too one day may have the happiness of seeing our God face to face. Amen.

The Incarnation

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

Traditionally, at the beginning of Midnight Mass, before the Gloria is sung, the Church makes a formal declaration of the birth of Christ. The proclamation situates the birth of Jesus within both salvation and secular history to demonstrate that God has entered into our time and altered it.

All of the events mentioned are connected to the Nativity and fulfilled by it. For example, the prophecy of Daniel is mentioned, so we come to understand that the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy.

It is quite common to proclaim a new birth. At the very least we send out letters, postcards, emails or texts to friends and family to announce the arrival of the little one. When the child born is of royal lineage the announcement is usually quite formal, even today the press is present to witness the announcement. So, the Church makes this solemn and formal announcement that God is King in Jesus Christ and all of history has been preparing for this event. With the birth of Jesus history has altered from time moving away from God to time heading straight toward him to culminate eventually in a great wedding feast.

December 16, 2018 – Third Sunday of Advent

Why Do We Do That?

Rose Vestments

Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent. The color used in the Mass is changed from violet to rose. The reason for the change is to express joy and the coming of the Lord at Christmas. Gaudete is Latin for joy or rejoice. The second reading in the Mass from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians admonishes us to rejoice. He does not give us a suggestion; it is an imperative: Rejoice! How can Paul command us to rejoice? He can do so because the Lord has come and given himself as a gift to us making it possible to become his children. There is no greater dignity, no greater victory than to be a child of God and heir to his kingdom. The birth of Jesus Christ into our world has made all of that possible. God is with us!

Rejoicing is necessary when the Lord is near. The previous two weeks of Advent have had readings at Mass that focused on judgment and the coming of the Lord at the end of the world. Now the focus of the reading changes from this point on to the expectation of the Nativity. We should feel the excitement of knowing that Christmas is so close and God has come to be with his people. The change of color to rose provides and outward sign of this shift from penance to joy.

Catechesis: Daughter of Zion

There are several references from the prophets in the Old Testament to daughter Zion. This refers to Israel in its purest and most ideal form, exhibiting the faith of Abraham. Abraham trusted God on Zion when he was prepared to offer his son Isaac in sacrifice. His trust was not disappointed as God delivered him and Isaac and launched the history of Israel. The sins of the people kept them from living up to this pure faith and trust of Abraham. But the prophets promised that pure faith (daughter Zion) would be redeemed and find its way into Israel once and for all. The Church knows that daughter Zion, with pure faith and trust in God, is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the one who gave her complete “yes” to God’s plan at the Annunciation and become the Mother of God. She trusted all the way to the crucifixion of her Son and never wavered in that trust. Just like Abraham, Mary and her Son were ultimately delivered by God in the resurrection. Through Our Lady, the daughter of Zion, we all have access to God’s gracious gifts.

Lectio Divina

“The crowds asked John the Baptist, ‘What should we do?’”   — Luke 3:10

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

These are the word of God. Take time to consider them carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. Are you able to picture the scene of John the Baptist in the desert with all of the people? What is it like? What question do you have for John? What may he have to say about what you need to do? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart.

Does this gospel bring you comfort? Anxiety? Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way

John the Baptist witnessed to a godly life. He admonished many to change their conduct and consider how their actions affected others. When he counseled about sharing clothing and food, John was mentioning corporal works of mercy. There are seven general ways in which we go beyond justice and practice real love for people in need. Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and prisoners, bury the dead, give alms to the poor. People who are afflicted in these ways are suffering misery. When we love people in their misery that is called mercy. It is a particular kind of love that is meant to lift some of the burden of life and restore a person to joy or at least the possibility of finding joy. The corporal works of mercy remind us that when we are confronted by suffering it is real life breaking in. Seeing the suffering of others in not simply an inconvenience for us but an opportunity to make the fallen world a little better. When we act mercifully toward others we allow the Kingdom of God to break into their lives and make crooked ways straight.

The Friends of God: St. Peter Canisius

Patron saint of: Germany, the Catholic Press.
Feast Day December 21

St. Peter lived and ministered in the middle of the 16th century in Europe, mainly Germany, during the time of the Protestant Reformation. He was a prolific writer and teacher. Teaching in parishes, universities and writing books to revitalize the Catholic Faith in the heart of Protestantism. He lent much credibility to his teaching about the Catholic faith by personally caring for plague victims in Vienna. He became well-known for his catechism explaining the faith in ways accessible to the people. St. Peter also urged charity, not derision to Protestants, ultimately leading many back into the Church.

 Dear Doctor and Defender of the Church, to you the Master must have said: “Well done, composer of books which have taught and inspired countless persons in many lands.” Help those who compose catechisms to communicate the true teachings of Christ  in ways that can be understood by our contemporaries so that they will be moved to follow Jesus. Amen.

On Spiritual Joy

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

Ask the Lord for joyfulness.
Joy or cheerfulness is the second fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Think frequently of the Lord and thank him for the goods that we possess and hope to possess. For example, for the great good, namely the grace of God, that we possess and for the Paradise for which we hope. Let us go often to take, from the Angels and Blessed above, an air of joyfulness, thinking that from now on we are citizens of Heaven and fortifying ourselves in Christian hope. The merits connected with each good action and to the communion of saints.

December 9, 2018 – Second Sunday of Advent

Why Do We Do That?

Lord, have mercy — No Glory to God

One very recognizable feature of the Mass is the Gloria sung or recited right after the penitential rite (Lord, have mercy). “Glory to God in highest” was the refrain sung by the angels announcing the birth of Christ. We sing it together on Sundays and Solemn feast days to proclaim God’s greatness. During Advent and Lent, you may notice, the Gloria is omitted. The reason for this is to emphasize the penitential nature of the seasons, As the days leading into winter get darker and darker, so the season of Advent reminds us of life without God and how we must have hope in his coming to save us lest the final darkness of death overwhelm us, It is the unconscious dread of death that causes so much of the bad habits we form in life as an attempt to hide the inevitable from ourselves. But the season of Advent ultimately is a season to pull us out of the bad habits and into a true hope in the coming of Christ who destroys the darkness of death forever. Thus, we prepare our voices to sing the alleluia at Christmas with great joy and passion.

Catechesis: New Year of Grace

Advent begins the new year of grace. Time comes in two verities: Chronological (chronos) time represents the progression of events moving toward a particular point, namely, the second coming of Christ in glory. Quality time (Kairos) represents a deepening into the meaning of events. As chronos is represented by a straight line, Kairos is represented by concentric circles. The liturgical calendar represents both.

The 1st Sunday of Advent symbolizes Hope with the “Prophet’s Candle” reminding us that Jesus is coming.

The 2nd Sunday of Advent symbolizes Faith with the “Bethlehem Candle” reminding us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.

The 3rd Sunday of Advent symbolizes Joy with the “Shepherd’s Candle” reminding us of the Joy the world experienced at the coming birth of Jesus.

The 4th Sunday of Advent symbolizes Peace with the “Angel’s Candle” reminding us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

Lectio Divina

“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. ” — Philippians 1:6

Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

These are the word of God. Take time to consider them carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions. What do you suppose is the Day of Christ? Who began good work in you? What is this good work? Take time right now to let these words touch your heart.

Does this bring you comfort? What do you think he means? Why would his word be the only thing that does not pass away? Ask the Holy Spirit, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way

The initiation of the Christian life and salvation is Baptism. The great and holy sacrament removes the separation from God by original sin and makes one a child of the Holy One.

It is also the sacrament that enables one to worship God properly in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To worship properly requires a “commission” from God so to speak. This commission or mark is received at Baptism. Being part of the family of God is not something one can give to oneself must it must be received as a gift gratefully. Gratitude is a fundamental Christian disposition. No child should be deprived of these marvelous gifts. To do so is to launch them into life with the idea that everything is “for the taking;” that is the disposition of the original sin. As a child of God through Baptism one discovers that real freedom happens within a community, within the Communion of Saints, not in isolation. We are called to a mutual dependence and affection with one another.

The Friends of God: St. John of the Cross

Patron saint of: Contemplatives and Mystics

Feast Day   December 14

John helped Teresa of Avila to reform the Carmelites to return to their contemplative roots. He wrote extraordinary Spanish poems to describe his mystical experiences. He had the courage to pursue fully the life of deep prayer and to face the fire of purification. Thus he found union with God in this life and left a “map” behind for Christians to follow.  John is considered one the greatest Spanish poets of all time. He described in his poetry the journey to God known as the dark night of the soul and the ultimate mystical marriage.

O Blessed Jesus, give me stillness of soul in You. Let Your mighty calmness reign in me. Rule me, O King of Gentleness, King of Peace. Amen.

Daily Offering

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri

Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

Almighty and Eternal God, I (name), although most unworthy in your sight, encouraged however by your compassion and infinite mercy, and by the desire of serving you, offer before the Most Holy Virgin Mary and all the Court of Heaven, to your Divine Majesty, this day and all my thoughts, words and actions in it. I humbly beg of your infinite goodness and mercy, by the Blood of Jesus Christ, that you choose to accept this offering in the odor of sweetness, and that as you have given me the grace to desire and to make this offering, so also you grant me the grace to fulfill it. Amen.

December 2, 2018 – First Sunday of Advent

Why Do We Do That?

Lord, have mercy — Kyrie Eleison

Every Holy Mass begins with the sign of the Cross because the Mass is out participation in that supreme event of God’s love. We pledge that we are acting now, not in our own name, but in the name of The Father, and of The Son, and of The Holy Spirit.

Then we acknowledge our sins and ask for pardon and peace. This is a crucial moment when we humbly admit that we do not live up to our mission of sacrificial love. We submit ourselves to our true judge, confident that God is reconciling us to Himself right now in Jesus Christ. We should, at this moment, pause and truly consider our particular sins and how they block us from proper love of God and neighbor. When we cry out, “Lord, have mercy,“ we are placing ourselves entirely into the Father’s hands. Our venial sins are forgiven at this part of the Mass. Do not miss the opportunity. Thus, we are prepared for the worship now to come.

The Mass is the celebration of God’s triumph over sin in the life, suffering, death and rising of Jesus. We call this the Paschal Mystery.

Catechesis: Advent

Advent is the first season of the Church year. We prepare for the coming of Christ in three ways: The first part of Advent is a focus on the second coming of   Jesus at the end of time to usher in the fullness of the Kingdom of God. This is the goal of all of history — to be with God forever. It constitutes the first part of Advent because as the goal of history, it shapes everything else in the calendar.

The next way prepare for the coming of Christ is by grace. He comes to us in the sacraments and in the whole life of the Church throughout the calendar in the feast days and seasons of the year.

The final part of Advent (beginning December 18th) is the preparation for the coming of Christ in nature at his birth. Christmas is an entire season of the Church year where we celebrate the beginning of grace in our world due to the birth of Jesus.

It is important to fully embrace Advent as a time of renewal, penance and deep longing for God. We are meant to wait for God, not leap ahead. It’s not Christmas yet.

Lectio Divina

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy.”   — Luke 21:34

 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive the word of God with reverence and joy.

Notice the thoughts and emotions within you. As you prayerfully consider this passage, are you able to identify what thoughts and feelings are generated?

These are the words of Jesus. Take time to consider them carefully. Clear from your mind all distractions, for Jesus says that all of those things will pass away in the end. Only his words remain forever. Take time right now to let these words touch your heart.

Does Jesus bring you comfort with these words, or are you unsettled? What do you think he means? Why would his word be the only thing that does not pass away? Ask Jesus, in your heart, to help you to know what this means for you and how best to apply it in your life.

The Catholic Way

Christ’s coming in glory at the end of history will usher in the last judgment. We are called by Jesus to be prepared, to be vigilant. As we consider all the ways to be prepared we should remember the Last Rites of the Church for ourselves and our loved ones. These rites provide the sacraments to strengthen us in the most important moment of our lives, namely, our death.

The last indulgence provided by the Church during the Last Rites is the Apostolic Pardon. This is given by the priest at the time of anointing and removes all stains of sin that may remain in a person. All the usual conditions for any plenary indulgence remain. This pardon can even remove the need for Purgatory.

The Church is so eager to aid every person in the journey of salvation that the Apostolic Pardon is available even when a priest is not available as long as a person has maintained some kind of minimal prayer throughout life. Two Hail Marys a day means a lot!

The Friends of God: St. Ambrose

Patron saint of beekeepers, beggars, learners, the city of Milan. Feast Day: December 7

In 390 AD, Ambrose confronted Roman Emperor Theodosius about the massacre of 7,000 people ordered in Thessalonica; refusing him entrance to the Cathedral and denying him Communion, Ambrose demanded the emperor repent publicly. His deep desire for the Eucharist brought Caesar to his knees in repentance. From that time on, the emperor stood with the people in the cathedral and no longer in the sanctuary with the priests as was custom. The courage of Ambrose brought about the first separation of Church and state.

O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee, to follow and enjoy Thee, for the sake of Christ. Amen.

Entrustment to the Virgin Mary

by Venerable Bruno Lanteri, Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

O Mary, I choose you as my loving Mother, and choose to depend on you in all my actions. I wish to discern at every moment what is most pleasing to you that I may fulfill with all my strength what you chose for me. I desire to be totally available to your desire, and that my only desire be what you desire. I declare above all, that my firm purpose is to adore, love and praise Jesus Christ, the fruit of your most pure womb, with that spirit, that heart, and in that perfect way that you, most blessed Virgin, adore, love and praise him in heaven, with the intention of giving him the same glory that you constantly give him in heaven.

Be pleased, my sovereign Lady and most loving Mother, to accept me as your unworthy servant and son/daughter, and grant me the grace to imitate the angels in my readiness to follow your desires, and to love Jesus with your own most ardent heart. Amen.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
of Our Lady:
December 8