The Importance of Prayer
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Jesus told his disciples and us the parable in this Sunday’s Gospel about the importance of praying without becoming weary; without losing heart; pray without giving in to discouragement. Saint Alphosus Ligori said; without prayer we are defeated by temptation; we are dominated by fear. We cannot persevere in doing good. Our work cannot bear good fruit without prayer.

We come from God, we depend on Him and we will go to Him. It only makes sense that we should be continually talking and listening to Him. We should all recognize that the Holy Spirit is inviting each one of us, today, to spend more time in prayer. It is His Will that you heard the story of Moses with arms raised up in prayer. It is His Will that you heard Jesus tell the story of the widow who would not give up crying out for her rights.

Among all the activities that we can engage in there is none that can profit us more than prayer. In this business you never lose and you always win. Prayer is a source of energy that aids us in all occasions. We do not receive more help from Heaven because we don’t pray better and more often. God has in His hands the solution to every problem. He waits to grant what we need if we do not get tired of asking. He awaits the right moment.

He wishes to help us not because we are good but because He is good. He does not love us because we deserve it but because He is love. It is His nature to love us. He is generous and forgiving and compassionate. He knows what we need but He wants us to ask. Some graces He grants us without our asking.

The sun came up for me without my asking but there are other graces that we need to ask for. For example, Jesus reminds us to pray for vocations. “The harvest is great but the labors are few; pray then that the owner of the harvest will send more workers”.

1 John 5:14: And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. Blessed John Paul continually taught that peace could not be accomplished solely through human endeavor. We must always pray to God. Prayer is the key that opens the door to heavenly blessings and prayer is the key that locks out the enemies of my soul.

Prayer is a gift, a virtue, an art.

Parents, God-parents, and Grandparents, teach your children how to pray. I remember the first time my father on his way to his construction job drove me to the bus stop for school. He prayed the morning offering which I was hearing for the first time. “O my God I offer Thee this day, all I think and do and say uniting all to what was done on earth by Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen”. I felt I had received a treasure. Seeing one’s father pray is an impressive thing, especially if he gets on his knees. If your Dad is your hero, it is a wonderful example to see him talk to God. I remember Dad praying the Rosary with Mom and us children. I remember the first time that it dawned on me that they were repeating the same prayer, Hail Mary! I remember the first time my Mom on the way to see the dentist stopped at church to light a candle. She said that candle burning was like a prayer that would keep going even after we left the church. Precious memories.

John Brook wrote an intro to The Divine Office called The School of Prayer. “A child learns to write by copying the shape of the letters the teacher has carefully written out. The teacher writes a line and underneath the child copies the example of the teacher. That is precisely how we learn to pray, how we come to know God. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. We learn to pray by taking the prayers inspired by the Spirit and copying them, following the movement of the Spirit with mind and heart.” The author writes that he used to suffer deep depression “and for months on end I could not pray. If I tried to pray I only fell inward into despair and empty silence.” Then he started reading a prayer book every morning. “It was like being winched slowly out of a pit.” The Creed, “the psalms and other prayers expressed my own longing for forgiveness and for God’s peace in a way I could never do on my own.” Let us ask the H.S. with our Lady’s intercession for the habit of prayer.

St. Francis on the Eucharist
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

A Pew Research survey has found that just one-third of U.S. Catholics (31%) say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Jesus.”   At the time of St. Francis, 1181-1226, there was, throughout the Church, a widespread apathy among
believers about the Faith and most especially about the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist.

Pope Innocent called for a Church Council in 1215; increasing respect for the Eucharist was one of the important goals of the Fourth Lateran Council. Francis was 34 years old and he was at the Council.

Francis expressed the view that the Eucharist was the best way to continue Christ’s Incarnation and presence in the world.

St Francis saw that in the Eucharist Jesus emptied Himself in a humble and simple form to give Himself to us. The Eucharist is also the measure in which we may return our gratitude to Christ for dying for us.  St. Francis wrote many prayers and letters about the Eucharist. Through him, we see how God raises up saints in times of crisis.

St. Francis said: “In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood.” We cannot see Jesus with our own eyes but through the Eucharist.

He also said: ” O humble sublimity! O sublime humility! that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under a morsel of bread. Consider, brothers, the humility of God and pour out your hearts before Him,  and be humbled that you may be exalted by Him.  Do not therefore keep back anything for yourselves that He may receive you entirely who gives Himself up entirely to you.”

Let us ask St. Francis to pray for all those Catholics who do not believe, that they will ask for and receive the gift of Faith.

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Life

From The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

 The Response is: Mary, pray for us.

Mary, Mother of all Life,
help us to respect human life from the moment of conception
to the moment of natural death. R.

Mary, Mother of Compassion,
You showed us how valuable a single life can be;
Help us to guard and protect the lives of all people entrusted to our care. R.

Mary, Mother of the Child Jesus,
with St. Joseph you formed the Holy Family.
Guard and protect all families in this earthly life; R.

Mary, Mother Most Holy,
You sanctified the vocation of motherhood;
Pour out your heavenly aid on all mothers and help them to be
holy. R.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows,
Simeon’s prophecy foretold that a sword of suffering would pierce your heart;
Bring comfort and hope to all mothers who suffer over their
children. R.

Mary, Full of Grace,
You had a choice in responding to God’s call;
Help us always to say “Yes” to the will of God in our lives,
And strive always to do whatever he tells us. R.

Mary, Comforter of the Afflicted,
Pour forth your heavenly grace on all who are in need of God’s healing,
Especially those involved in abortion;
Help them to experience the love and mercy of Christ, your Son. R.

Mary, Intercessor and Advocate,
We lift up the poor, the displaced, the marginalized and vulnerable members of society;
Help them to never abandon hope, but to place their trust in the God who gave them life. R.

Mary, Mother of the Word Incarnate, you bore in your womb him whom the heavens cannot contain;
Help us to bear witness to Christ by the example of our lives
And show the world the extravagant love of God. R.

All:
Remember, o most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To you we come, before you we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer them. Amen.

A Reflection on the Guardian Angel
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

In the Bible, the word Angel means messenger, a pure spirit, close to God to adore Him and follow His orders and deliver messages to humans.

As early as the 2nd century, Origen said; “We Christians believe that God assigns an angel to each of us to guide us and protect us.”

It was the Catholic Church in England that first celebrated the feast of the Guardian angels. That famous prayer, “Angel of God, my guardian dear…”   dates from 1111.

In 1608 the Pope made the Guardian Angel feast universal for the whole Church and put it on Oct 2nd.

St Bernard, in the year 1010 gave a sermon on the guardian angels saying:

1st Respect his presence, by behaving ourselves.

2nd Be grateful for his help, for his help is so much more than we can imagine.  

3rd Trust in his help, for he is more powerful than the demons that attack us and our passions which betray us.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

331Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him…”

191 They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”

192 They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”

193Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.
203 Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.

Prayer to Your Guardian Angel

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide.
Amen.

The Catholic Way: Archangels

A Reflection on the Parable of the Dishonest Steward
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Charity, William Adolphe Bouguereau

It might be the most surprising of parables and difficult to understand at first glance. The job of the steward was to take care of the house and business of some wealthy land owner. This steward was caught squandering the property so the owner told him he was going to lose his job. The steward said to himself, “What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.” And he falsifies invoices so the people who owe his boss have their debts slashed so he makes friends who will take care of him.

How do we think the owner will react? Well he does not react as we expect. The master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently! Instead of becoming angry, he admires his cleverness. Nobody would react like this. This what makes Jesus’ stories unique. They catch our attention. We are all stewards. How are you using the goods entrusted to you? Material goods and spiritual goods.

“For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

As we have heard before, we must not become too attached to things. As St. Gregory said, “Don’t let your possessions possess you.” Give it away.

Jesus gives advice: “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

What is He saying? How am I to make friends with dishonest wealth so as to be welcomed into eternity? The Fathers of the Church, the first Gospel commentators, say that when one is generous with the poor you make friends who will help you get into Heaven. That is what we can learn from the dishonest steward. We are not supposed to imitate his dishonesty but his prudence. He planned his future. We ask ourselves if we use the things of this world to gain eternal life.

 “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

Imagine if we worked at our personal sanctity and salvation like politicians scheme to get elected or businessmen to make money or athletes to win. Strive to enter the narrow gate

The first reading from the prophet Amos warns us that God gets angry with those who ignore the poor. The wealthy say, “We will fix our scales for cheating, and the poor for a pair of sandals.” The Lord has sworn, “Never will I forget a thing they have done!” The exploiter thinks money is more important than love of God or love of the poor.

Today’s Psalm reflects the theme: Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.
He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor to seat them with princes, with the princes of his own people.

Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.                                                          

The Gospel acclamation reminds us that we are poor and see how He has treated us. Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became a weak little Baby. He became a poor Carpenter condemned to death. He became a piece of Bread to be consumed, to make you rich, in Grace, to give you a heavenly Home. Let us imitate Him. St. John Chrysostom said; “The wealthy help the poor by alms, the poor help the rich by praying for their salvation”. True wealth is not what we keep but what we share.

Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.

A Reflection on the Stabat Mater Prayer
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Stabat Mater means ‘the Mother stood’ as she remained under the Cross. This is the name of an ancient hymn that is traditionally prayed on September 15th, feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Here are just a few of the stanzas:

 At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last

The day after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. God willed that His Son die on the Cross to redeem us and save us and He willed that Christ’s Mother stand close by and share His suffering.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Mary participated in the Passion of her Son. Mary’s grief and our sufferings are given meaning as they are united to Christ Crucified. He could save us alone by His infinitely Precious Blood, but He wills that we participate. As the prayer after
Communion says, “we may complete in ourselves for the Church’s sake what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.

 Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torment died. 

Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live. 

From Lumen Gentium: She stood in keeping with the divine plan, suffering grievously with her only-begotten Son. There she united herself, with a maternal heart, to His sacrifice, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth (#58).

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defense,
Be Thy Cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee. Amen.

STABAT MATER

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blest,
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs.
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother: fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torment died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the Cross with thee to stay;
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share thy grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath, 
In my body bear the death 
Of that dying Son of thine. 

Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swooned
In His very blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defense,
Be Thy Cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee. Amen.

 

A Reflection on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Celebrated on September 8)
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Mary the dawn, Christ the perfect Day. The dawn prepares us for the day. If you have ever had to work the grave yard shift, you know how good it is to see the dawn, when the eastern sky starts to lighten up. You know the day is coming.

The liturgical prayers call Mary of Nazareth “the Dawn that precedes the Sun of Justice, the long awaited Messiah.” If the Jews had known that this baby girl, daughter of Joachim and Ann was to be the mother of the Messiah, they would have been overjoyed. But who knew? Few recognized the Savior, much less His Mother. But a few privileged, humble folks were inspired by the Holy Spirit and recognized the Dawn.

When she was a young expectant mother, Elizabeth recognized her. The baby, John, that she was carrying, perceived the approximation of the Dawn and the Sun of Justice when Mary greeted Elizabeth. He leapt with joy and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out …”Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?”

St. Elizabeth was thrilled. Mary, as the litany says, is the Cause of our joy. Jesus came to Elizabeth through Mary. He came to us through Mary. And Jesus was able to come to us through Mary because she believed. As Elizabeth said, “Blessed is she who believed that the things promised by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Let us ask of our Lady for that blessing. Let us joyfully ask her to help us believe that all that has been promised us by the Lord will be fulfilled.

Mary the dawn, Christ the perfect Day.
Mary the Gate, Christ the perfect Way.

33 Days of Mary

The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ

September 1, 2019 is the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II with the German invasion of Poland.

Pius XI was the pope during the preceding years, as Europe spiraled into turmoil with the rise of National Socialism (Nazism) in Germany, Mussolini in Italy and Atheist Communism. His papal motto, “Pax Christi in Regno Christi” (“The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ”), illustrated his work to construct a new Christendom based on world peace. He wrote encyclicals on the evils of the rising political movements of the time, including Divini Redemptoris on Atheistic Communism.

The following is excerpted from Divini Redemptoris, in which the pontiff (using “We” in reference to himself) speaks of preserving our Faith in the face of an increasingly anti-Christian society. Eighty years on, we can still apply these words to the challenges we Catholics face today:

As in all the stormy periods of the history of the Church, the fundamental remedy today lies in a sincere renewal of private and public life according to the principles of the Gospel by all those who belong to the Fold of Christ, that they may be in truth the salt of the earth to preserve human society from total corruption.

We cannot deny that there is still much to be done in the way of spiritual renovation. Even in Catholic countries there are still too many who are Catholics hardly more than in name. There are too many who fulfill more or less faithfully the more essential obligations of the religion they boast of professing, but have no desire of knowing it better, of deepening their inward conviction, and still less of bringing into conformity with the external gloss the inner splendor of a right and unsullied conscience, that recognizes and performs all its duties under the eye of God. We know how much Our Divine Savior detested this empty pharisaic show, He Who wished that all should adore the Father “in spirit and in truth.” The Catholic who does not live really and sincerely according to the Faith he professes will not long be master of himself in these days when the winds of strife and persecution blow so fiercely, but will be swept away defenseless in this new deluge which threatens the world. And thus, while he is preparing his own ruin, he is exposing to ridicule the very name of Christian.

The State itself, mindful of its responsibility before God and society, should be a model of prudence and sobriety in the administration of the commonwealth. Today more than ever the acute world crisis demands that those who dispose of immense funds, built up on the sweat and toil of millions, keep constantly and singly in mind the common good. State functionaries and all employees are obliged in conscience to perform their duties faithfully and unselfishly, imitating the brilliant example of distinguished men of the past and of our own day, who with unremitting labor sacrificed their all for the good of their country. In international trade-relations let all means be sedulously employed for the removal of those artificial barriers to economic life which are the effects of distrust and hatred. All must remember that the peoples of the earth form but one family in God.

At the same time the State must allow the Church full liberty to fulfill her divine and spiritual mission, and this in itself will be an effectual contribution to the rescue of nations from the dread torment of the present hour. Everywhere today there is an anxious appeal to moral and spiritual forces; and rightly so, for the evil we must combat is at its origin primarily an evil of the spiritual order. From this polluted source the monstrous emanations of the communistic system flow with satanic logic. Now, the Catholic Church is undoubtedly preeminent among the moral and religious forces of today. Therefore the very good of humanity demands that her work be allowed to proceed unhindered.

To hasten the advent of that “peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ” so ardently desired by all, We place the vast campaign of the Church against world Communism under the standard of St. Joseph, her mighty Protector. He belongs to the working-class, and he bore the burdens of poverty for himself and the Holy Family, whose tender and vigilant head he was. To him was entrusted the Divine Child when Herod loosed his assassins against Him. In a life of faithful performance of everyday duties, he left an example for all those who must gain their bread by the toil of their hands. He won for himself the title of “The Just,” serving thus as a living model of that Christian justice which should reign in social life.

Pope Benedict XVI on Saints Monica and Augustine

Today, 27 August, we commemorate St, Monica and tomorrow we will be commemorating St. Augustine, her son: their witnesses can be of great comfort and help to so many families also in our time.

Monica, who was born into a Christian family at Tagaste, today Souk-Aharàs in Algeria, lived her mission as a wife and mother in an exemplary way, helping her husband Patricius to discover the beauty of faith in Christ and the power of evangelical love, which can overcome evil with good.

After his premature death, Monica courageously devoted herself to caring for her three children, including Augustine, who initially caused her suffering with his somewhat rebellious temperament. As Augustine himself was to say, his mother gave birth to him twice; the second  time  required  a  lengthy  spiritual travail of prayers and tears, but it was crowned at last with the joy of seeing him not only embrace the faith and receive Baptism, but also dedicate himself without reserve to the service of Christ.

How many difficulties there are also today in family relations and how many mothers are in anguish at seeing their children setting out on wrong paths! Monica, a woman whose faith was wise and sound, invites them not to lose heart but to persevere in their mission as wives and mothers, keeping firm their trust in God and clinging with perseverance to prayer.

As for Augustine, his whole life was a passionate search for the truth. In the end, not without a long inner torment, he found in Christ the ultimate and full meaning of his own life and of the whole of human history. In adolescence, attracted by earthly beauty, he “flung himself” upon it – as he himself confides (cf. Confessions, 10, 27-38) – with selfish and possessive behavior that caused his pious mother great pain.

But through a toilsome journey and thanks also to her prayers, Augustine became always more open to the fullness of truth and love until his conversion, which happened in Milan under the guidance of the Bishop, St Ambrose.

He thus remained the model of the journey towards God, supreme Truth and supreme Good. “Late have I loved you”, he wrote in the famous book of the Confessions, “beauty, ever ancient and ever new, late have I loved you. You were within me and I was outside of you, and it was there that I sought you…. You were with me and I was not with you…. You called, you cried out, you pierced my deafness. You shone, you struck me down, and you healed my blindness” (ibid.).

May St Augustine obtain the gift of a sincere and profound encounter with Christ for all those young people who, thirsting for happiness, are seeking it on the wrong paths and getting lost in blind alleys.

St Monica and St Augustine invite us to turn confidently to Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Let us entrust Christian parents to her so that, like Monica, they may accompany their children’s progress with their own example and prayers. Let us commend youth to the Virgin Mother of God so that, like Augustine, they may always strive for the fullness of Truth and Love which is Christ: he alone can satisfy the deepest desires of the human heart.

August is the month dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Below is an excerpt from a 1986 address by St. John Paul II.

We see symbolized in the heart of Mary her maternal love, her singular sanctity and her central role in the redemptive mission of her Son. It is with regard to her special role in her Son’s mission that devotion to Mary’s Heart has prime importance, for through love of her Son and of all of humanity she exercises a unique instrumentality in bringing us to him. The act of entrusting to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that I solemnly performed at Fatima on May 13, 1982, and once again on March 25, 1984 at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Holy Year of the Redemption, is based upon this truth about Mary’s maternal love and particular intercessory role. If we turn to Mary’s Immaculate Heart she will surely help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future.

Our act of consecration refers ultimately to the heart of her Son, for as the Mother of Christ she is wholly united to his redemptive mission. As at the marriage feast of Cana, when she said “Do whatever he tells you”, Mary directs all things to her Son, who answers our prayers and forgives our sins. Thus by dedicating ourselves to the heart of Mary we discover a sure way to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbol of the merciful love of our Savior.

The act of entrusting ourselves to the Heart of Our Lady establishes a relationship of love with her in which we dedicate to her all that we have and are. This consecration is practiced essentially by a life of grace, of purity, of prayer, of penance that is joined to the fulfilment of all the duties of a Christian, and of reparation for our sins and the sins of the world.

33 Days of Mary: 33 Reflections by the saints on Our Lady

A Reflection on the Feast of the Assumption, a Holy Day of Obligation
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

This Thursday, August 15, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is a holy day of obligation.

Why do we have these holy days of obligation during the week? Three reasons: 1) to recall the mystery, 2) to thank God for the mystery, and 3) so that it will bear fruit in our lives.

The mystery is that God took His Mother to heaven, not just her soul but also Her body. Why? Because She was and is the Mother of God, conceived without sin.  He could not let this body that conceived and nurtured and carried His Divine Son decompose in the ground. We celebrate it every year so we do not forget. We have short memories. If we stop celebrating a certain event, after a couple hundred years we forget.

We celebrate so that it will bear fruit in our lives. How? It gives us hope, that just as God took care of His Mother, He will take care of us. “In My Father’s House there are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.” Mary is the model of all Christians. What happens to her should happen to us. Her bodily Assumption into Heaven anticipates our bodily resurrection and bodily presence in Heaven.

It will be a great family reunion. Just as He willed to be reunited with His Mother, He would not deny us the joy of being reunited with our loved ones, as long as we do not deny Him.

And if we have denied Him by mortal sin, we have the sacrament of Confession that reconciles us to Him.

So, the fruit of this feast is that we hope and strive to be worthy of His Father’s house and we can be sure that our Blessed Lady will aid us with her prayers.

So, let us thank God for this mystery. The greatest act of thanksgiving that we can offer is the Sacrifice of the Mass, the perfect sacrifice of praise. John Paul II says: “in it the Son of God unites redeemed humanity to himself in a hymn of thanksgiving and praise. Let us remember that the Hebrew word todah, translated “praise”, also means “thanksgiving”. The sacrifice of praise was a sacrifice of thanksgiving. At the Last Supper, in order to institute the Eucharist, Jesus gave thanks to his Father; this is the origin of the name of this sacrament.” Eucharist means “thanksgiving”.

Click to view our schedule for the Feast of the Assumption

A Reflection on the Transfiguration (Feast day: August 6)
by Fr. James Doran, OMV        

                                                                                  

Who were the three who accompanied Jesus to the mountain? Peter, James and John. And who accompanied Him to the Garden after the Last Supper, saw Him sweat Blood and see Him captured? Peter, James and John.

Jesus invited these three to see His Transfiguration in order to prepare them for the Crucifixion. They were going to have to see His humiliation in His Agony. This vision on the mount would prepare them for that.

He took them up the mountain to pray. Jesus seeks to get away from the crowds to pray. There are times for liturgical prayer and common prayer but there must be time also for listening. More than twenty times the Gospels tell us that Jesus went off to pray. Sometimes on the mountain, in the desert… at times very early in the morning, often at night…He sought solitude so that He could be with His Father and pray.

Prayer is necessary for children of God, in order to know His will and gain the strength to do His will. That is why we have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament between Masses here at the chapel. Communication with God is fundamental for friendship with God. If you want to follow Christ you have to speak with Him and listen to Him. Intimate friends tend to imitate each other, have common interests and attitudes. Those who are intimate friends with Jesus and the saints develop similar
habits
, which we call virtues.

While Jesus was on the mount, He prayed and was transfigured. He allowed His divinity shine through His skin and clothes. His face shone with glory. The disciples would never forget that scene.

St. Pope John Paul included the Transfiguration among His luminous mysteries. The light enables us to see. The Transfiguration illuminated the disciples about the Person of Jesus. It was a manifestation of His divinity.

Two holy men from the Old Testament appeared with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. They represent the Law and the prophecies about the Messiah, which are fulfilled in Jesus. They speak with Him about His coming Passion and death that will take place in Jerusalem. Jesus wanted to show His friends that His death is part of the Divine plan. The Passion and Crucifixion are the way to Salvation. The Apostles do not understand but they are so happy to see Jesus in His glory so Peter says; “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here…” Peter was thinking of the Jewish custom of setting up tents outside the city of Jerusalem for those who came from other places for the feast of Tabernacles. It was God’s plan that Jesus be raised on the cross to save us. It is the plan of God that we also carry our cross after Jesus. Through our participation in the Passion and cross we will reach holiness and glory. There is no other way.

The Father speaks out; “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.” This is a light to our understanding. Jesus is the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not created, consubstantial with the Father. He is a divine person with a divine nature and a human nature.

Pope St. John Paul suggested that as we finish each decade of the Rosary we ask for a particular fruit concerning the mystery just meditated on. As I pray the mystery of the Transfiguration I usually ask for an increase in the virtue of prayer or a greater love of prayer. Prayer is a virtue. The word virtue is another word for a good habit. We wish to do and experience what is good as often as we can.

St. Peter inspires me to make this request when he said “Lord it is good that we are here”. Yes it is good that we are here in the Presence of God that we be aware of His Presence. How good it is love frequent and prolonged prayer. I think it was Fr Ignacio Larranaga who said that there is inertia to prayer. The more we pray, the more we want to pray. The less we pray, the less we want to pray.   So, let us pray much this Lent and ask for the grace to love prayer even when it is hard. And if you spend much time with God, He will transfigure you and make you like His Son, Jesus. He will give you hope in your own times of suffering. Suffering and death do not have the last word. “Lord let Your Mercy be on us, as we place our trust in You.”

On God the Father
by Fr. Jim Doran, OMV

Lord teach us to pray. Certainly the Apostles knew how to pray the Psalms and had frequented the synagogue but they must have seen Jesus pray and they knew John had taught his disciples to pray, so they wanted to pray better. That is a good example for us. We should wish to pray better. The quality of our relationships has a lot to do with our communication. We need to progress in our communication with God. That is why spiritual reading is so important; reading Scriptures, even the lives of the saints and Catholic radio can help us think about God and speak with Him and appreciate Him. Communication with someone so infinite is not easy that is why few people really pray unless they need something. It is so easy to put prayer aside which is putting God aside for something else. Pope Francis has spoken about this as worshiping idols.

Jesus knows it is not easy to pray, that is why He says; “Don’t give up. Persevere”. Some folks don’t get what they ask for immediately so the give up and say prayer does not work. Patience is important. Remember our Lord taught us the Our Father. Sometimes fathers say “no” or “not yet” or “I don’t think that would be a good idea”. Notice that Jesus tells us that before we start asking for things we say “Thy will be done”.

Prayer is an expression of faith. If prayer is not easy, well faith is not easy. Prayer is listening and talking to God as Abraham did. We present our needs to the Lord and recognize that He has the last word and not us. So it takes humility. Pope Francis says we tend to think we are the center of the universe. We make of ourselves an idol. St Paul Philippians 3 says; “Their god is their belly”. Brothers, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as you have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

God desires for us eternal happiness not fleeting pleasure. He made us to know , love and serve Him in this life and be happy with Him forever in the next. What we want at times is not compatible with His plan. “If I were a rich man…”

Remember the musical, “Fiddler on the Roof”? Reb Tevye sings:
If I were a rich man,
All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
Idle-diddle-daidle-daidle man.
Lord who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am.
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan?
If I were a wealthy man.

God’s last word is our eternal happiness. He knows how to bring us to His kingdom. We just have to cooperate.

On the Story of Martha and Mary
by Fr. Jim Doran, OMV

Only in Luke. If it were not for St. Luke, we would not have this lovely look into the social life of Jesus. The Gospel of John said Jesus loved Martha and Mary and their brother, Lazarus. John tells us how he raised him from the dead. Later, Martha threw a thanksgiving banquet in Jesus’ honor. Mary anointed Him with precious perfume.

On this particular occasion in Luke’s Gospel, Martha wants Our Blessed Lord to tell Mary to help her. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the servingTell her to help me.” Martha must have felt very familiar with our Lord to make such a complaint and demand!

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.” Dr. Brant Pitre, the scripture scholar says: The Greek word is perispaō, it literally means pulled away. The word in our lectionary translated as ‘anxious’ is closer to ‘pulled away’ or ‘distracted’. Martha you are pulled away about many things. For example, when your phone rings at Mass, you are pulled away. Your focus on the prayer is pulled away to the phone. Martha has been pulled away from the one thing necessary, Jesus, by the burden of much serving. She is trying to do too much. While Mary sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. To sit at a wise man’s feet was the proper place of a student. When St. Paul wanted to introduce himself, he said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law and was zealous for God.” Acts 22:3

Hospitality is a virtue. The first reading is all about the hospitality Abraham and Sarah offered to the Mysterious strangers and the couple was rewarded by a long-awaited child. Martha was rewarded also. Jesus gave her a truth. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Dr. Brant Pitre; The Jews had a saying; Have sages frequent your house. Sit in the dust at their feet and drink in wisdom. So here in Martha’s house she has Jesus, Wisdom incarnate. Wisdom in the flesh. Our Lord is inviting her to be present to Him and not be pulled away by, anxious about many things.

The responsorial Psalm is also about hospitality, God’s hospitality. LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy mountain? He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord. One who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue.

Who harms not his fellow man, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; by whom the reprobate is despised, while he honors those who fear the LORD.

Who lends not his money at usury and accepts no bribe against the innocent. One who does these things shall never be disturbed.

Matthew 7:21-23:  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Galatians 5:19-21:  the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Scapular

July 16 is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Mount Carmel in the Holy Land is the site of the first community of Carmelites, who took their name from the mountain. They were Christian hermits who lived on the mountain in the late 12th century. They built a chapel in the midst of their hermitage and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin whom they referred to in a chivalrous way as “the Lady of the place”.

July 16 is also the feast of the Scapular of Mount Carmel. On this day in 1251, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, General of the Carmelites at Cambridge, England. She showed him the scapular and promised supernatural favors and her special protection to his order and to all persons who would wear the scapular. To obtain the indulgences and other benefits promised to those who wear the Carmelite scapular, a person must be invested by a priest and must lead a consistent Christian Life. (From catholic.org)

From Sisters of Carmel:

1.What is Our Lady’s promise in wearing the Brown Scapular?
“Whoever dies invested with this Scapular shall be preserved from the eternal flames. It is a sign of salvation, a sure safeguard in danger, a pledge of peace and of my special protection until the end of the ages.”

2.What are the conditions requisite for gaining the Our Lady’s promise of the Brown Scapular?

-To observe exactly what has been prescribed regarding material, color, and shape of the Scapular.
-To be enrolled in the Scapular by a priest.
-To wear it continually.

Please note that there are no special prayers or good works that are necessary to receive the promise. The Scapular is a silent prayer that shows one’s complete consecration and dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Scapular is a devotion whereby we venerate Her, love Her, and trust in Her protection, and we tell Her these things every moment of the day by simply wearing the Brown Scapular.

3. Who may be invested in the Brown Scapular?
All the Catholic faithful should be enrolled. It is customary for children to be enrolled after their First Holy Communion. Even infants can be invested.

4. How do I enroll in the Brown Scapular?
Any priest can enroll or invest you in the Brown Scapular.


July is the month dedicated to the Precious Blood of Christ. Below is a reflection on the Precious Blood by  Fr. James Doran, OMV: 

St. Peter wrote: Conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb. (1 Pt 1:18)

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He took on flesh, He took on a human nature so that He could suffer and die to redeem us. In order to die His soul had to leave the body. The Blood had to be separated from the Body.

Fr. Hardon, S.J., wrote that Jesus could not die of sickness because sickness is a result of our sinful nature. Since Christ had no sin, the only way He could die was to bleed to death.

St. Peter wrote that you were ransomed; bought back. Since we sinned we incurred a heavy debt. The debt was death. But all the deaths in the world could not pay the debt we owe to God because He is infinite. The offence against an infinite Being is infinite.  Only an infinite Being could pay the price.

Peter, the first Pope, says you were redeemed not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the Precious Blood of Christ. He mentions silver and gold because they are generally believed to be the most incorruptible materials that exist. We are redeemed by the Precious Blood. It is Precious because it is the Blood of God.

When we receive Holy Communion, we receive the Body and the Blood of Christ under the appearance of the Consecrated Host. When we adore the Blessed Sacrament, we worship the Precious Blood of Jesus, the price of our Salvation.

Blood of Christ, only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father,
Blood of Christ, Incarnate Word of God,
Blood of Christ, Eucharistic drink and refreshment of souls,
save us.

Saintly Americans

One way to view America’s history is through the stories of native-born saints, blesseds, venerables and servants of God. Bellow are brief portraits of some American saints and those on the path to sainthood:

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 –1821, New York), known as Mother Seton, is the first native-born American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. She was an Episcopalian who, out of her love for the Eucharist, had converted to Catholicism after the death of her husband. She founded the first order of religious women in America, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, and became the co-founder of the first free Catholic School in America.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656–1680, New York) was an Algonquin-Mohawk laywoman who converted to Catholicism. After being pressured to marry, Kateri fled her village, was baptized at the age of nineteen and took a perpetual vow of chastity. Though she carried scars from smallpox, it was reported that within hours of her death, her scars had completely disappeared. St. Kateri is the first Native American to be canonized.

St. Katherine Drexel (1858-1955, Pennsylvania) is the first saint to be born an American citizen. During an audience with Pope Leo XIII in Rome, she asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming. He replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” The young, educated heiress from Philadelphia, did just that. She gave up worldly things to serve Native Americans and African Americans, founding schools and missions in more than a dozen states.

St. Solanus Casey (1870 –1957, Wisconsin) was a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. He was one of the founders of a soup kitchen in Detroit, founded to feed Detroit’s poor during the Great Depression, which is still in operation today. St. Solanus is the newest American saint and the first native-born man to be canonized.

Bl. Carlos Manuel Rodríguez (1918–1963, Puerto Rico) was a catechist who is the first Puerto Rican, first Knight of Columbus and first Caribbean-born layperson in history to be beatified. He was dedicated to restoring Catholic liturgical customs that had been abandoned over generations, notably the Easter Vigil which he felt had lost its ancient character as the focal night of the Christian year. “Vivimos para esa noche” (We live for that night) is inscribed on his tomb.

Bl. Stanley Rother (1935 –1981, Oklahoma) was a priest and martyr. In 1968 he applied and was assigned to the missions in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, serving the Tz’utujil people who were descendants of the Mayans. He briefly escaped the civil war raging in Guatemala and went back to Oklahoma but, saying that “the shepherd cannot run”, returned to minister to his people until he was assassinated by militant forces in July of 1981.

Ven. Augustus Tolton (1854 – 1897, Missouri) was born to enslaved parents. During his childhood, his family made it to freedom in Illinois. An Irish immigrant priest, Fr. Peter McGirr, gave Augustus the opportunity to attend parochial school, to the objections of his parishioners. Later, Augustus was rejected by every American Seminary to which he applied. He eventually received formation in Rome where he studied Latin and Greek and became fluent in Italian. He was ordained to the priesthood, becoming the first African American priest. He returned to Illinois and went on to establish the Negro “national parish” of St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Chicago, built, in part, through a donation from St. Katharine Drexel.

Servant of God Emil Kapuan (1916 – 1951, Kansas) was a priest, Knight of Columbus and United States Army captain who served as an Army chaplain in Burma during World War II and in Korea during the Korean War. He was captured and died in a prisoner of war camp. Before his death, he tended to his fellow prisoners, giving away his own food, and boosted their morale. Among his awards for service and valor are the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Medal of Honor.

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

As Saint Augustine put it: “no one eats that flesh without first adoring it; we should sin were we not to adore it.”

How do we show adoration? As soon as we enter a Catholic church, we look for the red sanctuary lamp and we acknowledge the Real Presence of our Lord by genuflecting or profound bow. Genuflection goes back in pagan use to pre-Christian days.  It was a common form of reverence to kings and emperors.

It did not come into common use in the Church until possibly the year 1000 AD when it had lost its pagan associations and, in the west, had begun to replace the profound bow as a sign of reverence to the presence of the Lord, the heavenly monarch. This certainly is reflected in medieval Christian art.

The genuflection is an extension of the gesture of kneeling.  Jesus fell to his knees in the garden of Gethsemane and we see the gesture of kneeling in prayer reflected throughout both Old and New Testaments. Jesus says to the woman at the well that the Father seeks worshipers in the spirit and truth.

The word that Scripture uses is ‘prostrate’, which literally means to bow one’s whole body to the floor; to prostrate oneself and to kiss the feet or the hem of the garment or the ground before the one being reverenced, which is more demonstrative than a simple genuflection!

Why are gestures, whether kneeling or standing or bowing, important?

C.S. Lewis makes the point in his Screwtape Letters , that we are not souls trapped in bodies.  We are incarnate spirits.  What I do with my body I do with my soul.

To bow, to kneel, to bend the knee are all gestures of submission.  I
cannot defend myself when I am on my knees.  It is a gesture that means I am absolutely open to the will and power of God.  So, to kneel and to genuflect are very appropriate gestures before Christ whom we claim as King of all.

Melchizedek was king and priest of Salem, Jerusalem where they adored the one true God the Creator. Melchizedek blessed Abram, (not yet Abraham), who gave him a tenth of all he had as an act of collaboration in worship. A priest is one who offers a sacrifice to God. Melchizedek was a type or prefigure of Jesus, Who consecrated bread and wine into His Body and Blood. Jesus did this in anticipation of His Sacrifice on Calvary where He would shed all His Blood to pay our debt and save us from Hell. He chose to die in order to save us and St. Paul wanted us to remember that when he wrote, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

This is not a service. Protestants have services. We have the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass. Infinitely different. In memory of His blessed
Passion, Resurrection and Ascension we offer from the gifts that God has given us; “this pure Victim, this holy victim this spotless Victim, the
holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation”.

After all He has done for us, He continues to serve us. He come to
nourish us and heal us. St Teresa of Avila said it is impossible in this world for all subjects to speak to the king. As for the poor, the most they can hope for is to speak with him by means of some third person. But to speak with Christ the King there is no need of third persons, for everyone that wishes can find Him in the Most Holy Sacrament and can speak to Him as much as they want. He does not appear in all His glory so as not to frighten us, so that we can go to Him in confidence. He continuously invites us: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest”.

O Sacrament most Holy,
O Sacrament Divine,
All praise and all thanksgiving,
Be every moment Thine
.

Read this week’s Lanterian

A Reflection on the Trinity and Father’s Day
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Last week we celebrated an event — Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to give the Apostles the courage to carry out their mission; to forgive sins and to preach.

We have celebrated other events lately; Easter and the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven. But today we celebrate a truth, a Catholic doctrine, that God is three persons, one God. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have one mind, one will and one power. When we baptize, or bless ourselves, we do not say in the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit but in the Name. The Name is singular because the three persons are one God, one power. They are distinct Persons but they are so intimately united that they are never separated.   The Father eternally begot the Son. That means the Son has always existed with the Father. It is not as if the Father existed first then the Son came along later. No they are all eternal. And they have loved one another forever. We were created in the image of God. We are able to think, like God. We are able to remember, like God. We are able to love, like God. Today is Father’s day. All fatherhood comes from God the Father. I found something interesting on Father’s day:

From Alveda King’s blog (Her father is Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams King, son of Martin Luther King Sr.) :

“ Daddy gave me my name. Al (after him) Veda (life) Celeste (to get me as close to Heaven as he could he said). The name King spans
generations, from Africa and Ireland, and my mother’s father was part Native American. My Daddy gave me so much during his lifetime, that there isn’t room to tell all. I miss him so much.

My Daddy and Granddaddy saved me from abortion in 1950. My mother Naomi Barber King was a young woman starting her first year in college, and she was approached by the Birth Control League (which later became Planned Parenthood) with literature about “women’s rights.” They were saying that a baby in the womb was a “lump of flesh” and that women didn’t have to stay pregnant if they didn’t want to. Abortion was illegal in those days, so a procedure called DNC was recommended. Mother’s mother, Big Mama Bessie wasn’t buying this, so she took Mother to see my grandfather, Daddy King. Granddaddy told Mother, “Neenie, they are lying to you. This isn’t a lump of flesh, she’s my granddaughter.

My grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., twice said, “No one is going to kill a child of mine.” The first time Daddy King said this was to my mother, who was facing an “inconvenient pregnancy” with me. The next time, I was facing a pregnancy, and told him about it. In both instances, Daddy King said no, and saved his seed.

Tragically, two of his grandchildren had already been aborted when he saved the life of his next great-grandson with this statement. His son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety. “How can the “Dream” survive if we murder our children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. In the hands of the mother is the fate of that child —whether the child lives or dies — a decision given to the mother by Roe v. Wade. That choice, the final choice of whether the child lives or dies, should be left to God, Who ultimately says “choose life!”

Today we don’t celebrate the event that made our dads fathers. We celebrate if they are fathers in truth. We celebrate them if they are truly fathers.

Pentecost and Mary
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

A few years ago, my nephew sent me an email to ask a question: a theological question, a question on Mariology. What could the Holy Spirit do for Our Lady if she was already perfect?

I was reminded of that question as I prepared today’s Mass.

What happened to the Mother of Jesus after He as ascended into Heaven? Acts of the Apostles tells us that the Apostles returned to Jerusalem and devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women and Mary the mother of Jesus and His relatives.

Mary prayed with these men who Her Son had chosen to spread His Word. She prayed that they would receive the Holy Spirit because they were not yet ready to face the world. He did not leave them as orphans.

She knew all about the Holy Spirit since He had already descended upon her at the Annunciation, He overshadowed her and brought about the Incarnation — the conception of Jesus. Since she had already experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit, she could appreciate Him more than anyone. It was the Spirit that made her a mother and Mother of the Savior. Unlike the others who were waiting in fearful expectation, she helped them get ready to receive the Paraclete. It was appropriate that she receive a renewed gift of the Spirit. The first time, she became Mother of Christ. This time she received the gift of spiritual motherhood. The disciples needed her intercession and love.

Mary is the image and model of the Church. Pope St. John Paul wrote that she waited for “Pentecost and implored a multiplicity of gifts for everyone, in accordance with each one’s personality and mission…Just as in the Incarnation the Spirit had formed the physical body of Christ in her virginal womb, in the upper room the same Spirit came down to give life to the Mystical Body” of Christ.

Pentecost is the fruit of the Blessed Virgin’s constant prayer. For this reason, Christians have had recourse to her throughout the ages.

Our Lady passed on to the disciples her memories of the Incarnation, the infancy and the hidden life of Jesus as a precious treasure. She helped to make Him known as nobody else knew Him.

Pope St. John Paul explains; “We have no information about Mary’s activity in the early Church, but we may suppose that after Pentecost her life would have continued to be hidden and discreet, watchful and effective. Since she was enlightened and guided by the Spirit, she exercised a deep influence on the community of the Lord’s disciples.”

So, what did I tell my nephew? Mary was a perfect Mother to her Son Jesus, but she again needed the Spirit’s help to become Our Blessed Mother, the Mother of the Church. He did not leave us as orphans.

Come, Creator Spirit

On the Holy Spirit
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

When the Father sends His Word, He always sends His Breath.

In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable.

To believe in the Holy Spirit is to profess that the Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the Holy Trinity, consubstantial with the Father and the Son: “with the Father and the Son, He is worshipped and glorified.”

Spirit – ruah (in Hebrew), breath air, wind.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies us, makes us holy, strengthens our friendship with God.

He teaches us how to pray, as St. Paul wrote: “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”

He helps us understand the Scriptures, He gives priests the power to forgive us our sins, “Receive the Holy Spirit, the sins you forgive are forgiven.” Often, in the confessional, I give out a little card with this prayer of St Augustine to the Holy Spirit:

Breathe in me, o Holy Spirit that all my thoughts may be holy. (Ps 104: May the Lord be pleased with my thoughts for only in Him do I find joy.)

Act in me, o Holy Spirit that my work too may be holy. May it be God’s work, God’s Will. I reject Satan and all his works.

Draw my heart o Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy. I do not want to desire anything evil.

Strengthen me o Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy. “You will receive power when the HS comes upon you, and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem to the ends of the earth”.

Guard me then o Holy Spirit that I always may be holy. Be holy, God-like, Christ-like.

He is the comforter but His job it not to make us comfortable. He wants to set us on fire; St. Alphonsus calls Him a happy Fire.

Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Seven Gifts

The Feast of Ascension of the Lord
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

What does the feast of the Ascension mean to you?

It means that the risen Jesus, after forty days visiting the disciples, ascended into heaven to take His proper place as the second person of the Blessed Trinity. There, He continues to intercede for us. He is the eternal Priest.

But what does this feast mean to you? Does it make you joyful? Opening prayer: “make us joyful”! Why should you be joyful? Because His victory is our victory. He is the head of the body, the Church. Where the head goes, the body follows. And we are members of His Body as long as we do not separate ourselves from Him by committing mortal sin.

We hope to follow Him into the new creation. His ascension is our glory and our hope! For the first time a man entered heaven! Jesus, true God and true man. We were not created to live forever on earth, but to live forever in heaven. He told His friends that He was going to His Father’s house and that He was going to prepare a place for each of them, and each of us. So that should make us joyful. Think about it. Jesus is preparing a place for you.

“I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you also may be .” “All you peoples, clap your hands, shout to God with shouts of gladness. Sing praise to God sing praise; sing praise to our king, sing praise.” We have more of a reason to be happy than the psalmist.

Love is to desire the best and highest good; and if we love anyone, we wish salvation for that person.   That is why Jesus told the disciples to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved!”

Salvation is not automatic. The Gospel must be taught and lived. We might become discouraged at times because we are weak. But we must continue to hope. Why? Because Christ is on our side. Because of His merits, because of His intercession with the Father we are able to attain justice and reach sanctity of life.

The Church may indeed experience difficulties; the Gospel may suffer setbacks, but because Jesus is at the right-hand of the Father the Church will never know defeat. Christ’ victory is ours.

Let us “be deeply conscious of Christ’s victory and triumph over sin and death.   Realize that the strength of Christ is greater than our weakness. Try to understand and share the joy that Mary experienced in knowing that her Son had taken His place with the Father.

Let us renew our faith today in the promise of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has gone to prepare a place for us, so that He can come back again and take us to Himself.

Schedule of Masses for Ascension Thursday

On this Sunday’s Communion Antiphon
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Communion antiphon for the 5th Sunday of Easter: I am the true vine and you are the branches, says the Lord. Whoever remains in Me, and I in him, bears fruit in plenty, Alleluia!

How close can God get to you?

Jesus says He is the grape vine and you are the branch. He wants us to be aware of the intimate connection.  The branch gets its nourishment from the vine. And He expects you to produce fruit with that precious Blood.

It is not just a matter of belonging to the Church but living the life of Christ, the life of grace, which is the nourishment which passes on to the believer and enables you to bear fruit.

This image of the vine also helps us to understand the Mystical body of Christ in which all the members are intimately united to the head and thereby united to one another.

Our Blessed Lord describes two situations: those who are still joined to the vine externally but yield no fruit, and those who do yield fruit but could yield more. The epistle of St. James carries the same message when he says that faith alone is not enough.

Faith is the beginning of salvation and without faith we cannot please God, it is also true that a living faith must yield fruit in the form of deeds.

As St. Paul says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love”. It is not enough to be baptized and make your profession of faith externally; you have to share in Christ’s life and cooperate in His work of redemption. “He prunes the one who bears fruit so that it bears more fruit”. In other words, God is not content with half-hearted commitment, so he prunes.

Fr. Cantalamessa has an interesting comment on pruning.

You may know that when you prune a grape vine liquid leaks out and drips.

But why does the vinedresser prune the branch and make the vine “weep,” as is usually said? For a very simple reason: If it is not pruned, the strength of the vine is wasted; it will bear perhaps more bunches than it should, with the consequence that not all will ripen and that the rating of the wine will be lower. If it remains a long time without being pruned, the vine even becomes wild and produces only vine tendrils and wild grapes.

The same happens in our lives. To live is to choose, and to choose is to deny oneself. The person who wants to do too many things in life, or cultivates innumerable interests and hobbies, is dispersed, and will not be outstanding in anything.

One must have the courage to make choices, to put some secondary interests to one side to concentrate on the primary. To prune!

Read this week’s Lanterian

Divine Love
by Fr. James Doran, MV

A good saint to mention on Mother’s Day is St. Gianna Beretta Molla. Born in Italy, 1922, she became a pediatrician, she married had three children. When she was pregnant with her fourth, she was found to have a non-malignant tumor on her uterus. The doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, a complete hysterectomy, or removal of only the tumor. Gianna opted for the removal of the tumor, wanting to save her child’s life.  After the operation, complications continued throughout her pregnancy. She told her husband, “This time it will be a difficult delivery, and they may be able to save one or the other – I want them to save my baby.” The baby Gianna Emmanuela was delivered by Caesarean section, but Gianna died of septic peritonitis 7 days later, April 28, 1962. At her canonization, at which were present her husband and children, Pope Saint John Paul called her “a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love.”

Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Last month an essay by Emeritus Pope Benedict was published. He wrote about the crisis in the Church and how to respond.

“The power of evil arises from our refusal to love God. He who entrusts himself to the love of God is redeemed. Our being not redeemed is a consequence of our inability to love God. Learning to love God is therefore the path of human redemption.”  Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He teaches us to love God. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” What is Eternal Life? In the Nicean Creed we pray …I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

In the Apostles’ Creed we say ‘I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen. What do we mean by ‘life everlasting’? The Catechism says; By life everlasting we mean that there will be another existence after this present life. Who are rewarded in Heaven? Those are rewarded in heaven who die in the state of grace and have been purified in purgatory, if necessary, from all venial sin and all debt of temporal punishment; they will see God face to face and share forever in His glory and happiness. The greatest joy in Heaven is the BEATIFIC VISION. This is the sight of God.   The word beatific means blissfully happy. Rapturous, joyful, ecstatic. This seeing God is called beatific because it completely fills with joy those who experience it.

The great Dominican Father, Garrigou-Lagrange wrote; They know and love God to their utmost capacity and are known and loved by God in return. The Beatific Vision will satisfy completely and supremely all our desires. This what Jesus, the Good Shepherd wants to lead us to. Having God, we shall never wish for anything else.

Read this week’s Lanterian

The May Magnificat
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

MAY is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunest
And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?—
Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathizing
With that world of good,
Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfèd cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

Madonna and Child, Marianne Stokes

Christ’s Easter Gift to Humanity
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

“Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to Divine Mercy.” Jesus said that to Sr. Faustina.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus makes His Apostles ministers of Divine Mercy. After showing them His hands, feet and side, He tells them: As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21) Then He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. The sins you forgive are forgiven . The sins you retain are retained. Pope St. JP said this gift of forgiving sins flows from the wounds in His hands and feet and especially from His side. From there a wave of mercy is poured out over all humanity. Remember that scene in The Passion of the Christ when the soldier thrusts the lance into His side? Blood and Water showers — drenches the soldier. There’s a statue of the soldier, St. Longinus, at St. Peter’s basilica.

Our Lord appeared to Sr. Faustina and asked her to have a painting done of Himself as He appeared to her; with two rays of light coming from His Heart which represent the Blood and Water.(Diary, p. 132). The Blood recalls the sacrifice at Calvary and the mystery of the Eucharist; the
Water, according the rich symbolism of St. John the Evangelist, makes us think of Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord told Sr. Faustina to put a short but powerful prayer at His feet; “Jesus, I trust in You.

We must cultivate the strong conviction that He truly seeks to alleviate our suffering. He did not die on the cross to let us fall into Hell. We could end up in Hell only if we choose to by refusing conversion.

In his encyclical on Divine Mercy, the Holy Father describes mercy as love:

This love is able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and “restored to value.” The father first and foremost expresses to him his joy that he has been “found again” and that he has “returned to life. This joy indicates a good that has remained intact: even if he is a prodigal, a son does not cease to be truly his father’s son; it also indicates a good that has been found again, which in the case of the prodigal son was his return to the truth about himself.

Conversion is the most concrete expression of the working of love and of the presence of mercy in the human world. My efforts to convert are the most concrete expression of my love for Divine Mercy, which is not just an attitude but a Person. And that Person is Jesus. He is infinite. Mercy, as a perfection of the infinite God, is also infinite. Also, infinite therefore and inexhaustible is the Father’s readiness to receive the prodigal children who return to His home. Infinite are the readiness and power of forgiveness which flow continually from the marvelous value of the sacrifice of the Son. No human sin can prevail over this power or even limit it. On the part of man only a lack of good will can limit it, a lack of readiness to be converted and to repent, in other words persistence in obstinacy, opposing grace and truth, especially in the face of the witness of the cross and resurrection of Christ.

About the Image of Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Novena of Masses Schedule

Easter Day
by Fr. Jim Doran, OMV

The timid became courageous. Remember Joseph of Arimathea? He was a disciple of Jesus but in secret, for fear of the Jews. Then there was Nicodemus, the man who at first came to Jesus at night because he did not wish to be seen.

Well. these men who were previously fearful now boldly confess themselves as Disciples of Christ, not only with words but with action. They attend to His body with exquisite refinement and generosity. Joseph of Arimathea got permission from Pilate to collect the body. That had to take guts. He might have been killed on the spot by the Romans or the Jews. But he did it.

And Nicodemus did us a big favor. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds of it.

Myrrh is a very expensive aromatic resin and aloe juice is extracted from the leaves of the aloe plant. They were used in the expression of veneration for the dead.

The Navarre Bible commentary says, “After piously taking our Lord’s body down from the cross, they…perfumed it and wrapped it in a linen cloth, covering the head with a sudarium or napkin. But because of the Sabbath rest, they were unable to anoint the body with balsam, which the women planned to do once the Sabbath rest was past.”

Jesus, in fact, praised Mary, sister of Lazarus for anointing him at Bethany and foretold in a veiled way that his body would not be embalmed. There would not be time. This detail of the myrrh is important. It would make the linens stick to the body.

When she discovered the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene said, “they have taken the Lord away and we don’t know where they have put Him.” Peter and John came running, noticed the linens and knew that no thief had done this. If thieves had taken Him, they would not have bothered to pull the linens off Him. That would have been too much trouble in a hurry and in the dark.

They would not take the trouble to roll up the head cloth and put it in a place by itself. They would have taken Him away as He was. Remember when Lazarus was dead in the tomb, Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come forth”? The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages. And his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said, “untie him and let him go.” Lazarus couldn’t do it by himself.

The disciples saw and believed. Remember that they did not yet understand the Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.

St. Augustin says, “The Apostles had heard Jesus predict his death and Resurrection time and again, but they were so accustomed to hear parables from Him, that they took this for a parable and thought He meant something else.”

Now it dawns on John. Jesus really rose from the dead. He must have felt a comforting presence then, knowing that Jesus was not dead. The disciples did not look for Him; they went back to their homes. Jesus is in control of the situation. He will come and find us.

Mary Magdalene kept searching and weeping. And Jesus met her and consoled her.

He comes to us, too, in the Sacraments. Our Savior promised, “He who eats my Body and drinks My Blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.” Jn 6:54

I conclude with a quote from Saint Pius X. He wrote in his catechism “just as Jesus Christ through His resurrection began a new and immortal and heavenly life, so must we begin a new life according to the Spirit, once and for all renouncing sin and everything that leads us to sin, loving only God and everything that leads to God.”

About the Image: Three Marys at the Tomb of Christ

Good Friday — Mother Mary
 by Fr. James Doran, OMV

It is a terrible thing for a parent to watch their own child die. I saw it. I saw how my mother grieved as my 24-year-old brother languished and died. We priests see it very often in our work.

As Jesus hung there, He knew that His Mother was undergoing unspeakable anguish as she watched His life blood flowing away. The extent to which Mary was suffering must have been more painful to Him than His wounds.

We have four accounts of the way Jesus died. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each wrote about the Crucifixion, but only one of them tells us that Jesus was concerned about His Mother. Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that the sky got dark and that there was an earthquake; but John tells us that Jesus, seeing His Mother and the beloved disciple standing nearby, said to His Mother, “Woman, behold your son” and to the disciple He said, “Behold your Mother.”

Of all the Christians, all the followers of Jesus, the most favored are those who receive His Mother. By giving us His Mother to be our Mother, He demonstrates His love for His own to the end. As we heard in yesterday’s Gospel, “He loved His own in the world and He loved them to the end.” He had already given His Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament. His Mother was all He had left to give. Jesus enjoyed Mary’s maternal love during His 33 years and He wanted His disciples to share in this love because Mary brings us to Jesus. She teaches us docility and humility. She teaches us how to love and follow her Son.

Venerable John Paul II wrote: Since the disciple takes the place of Jesus in regard to Mary, he is invited to love her as if she were truly his own mother. It is as if Jesus were saying to him, “Love her as I have loved her.”

“From that hour the disciple took her into his home.” So, John took care of her and so must every disciple of Jesus have a place for the Mother of Jesus in their hearts.

May we all appreciate this great gift which Christ Crucified gave to us by leaving His own Mother as our Mother. That was our Lord’s dying wish.

Easter Triduum at the Chapel

A Reflection on the Gospel of the Woman Taken in Adultery
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

“Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They wanted to trap our Lord. Dt 22:22 says: If a man is discovered lying with a woman who is married to another, they both shall die, the man who was lying with the woman as well as the woman. Thus shall you purge the evil from Israel. In light of this text, they want Jesus’ opinion

If Jesus says to let her go. He would be accused of breaking the Law of Moses. If He says to go ahead and stone her, He would be arrested for violating the Roman Law. Only the Romans could put someone to death. His enemies think they have Him trapped.

Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. Does Jesus do this to show indifference? Perhaps He is fulfilling Jeremiah 17:13: O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake thee shall be put to shame; those who turn away from thee shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water. Perhaps He is writing the names of those men who have turned away from Him the Fountain of Living Water. he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again, he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, …

There is no accuser left to condemn her. He has no sin but according to the Law one person cannot condemn someone to death. Our Lord has created a situation so she cannot be condemned to death. He does not break the Law. He gives her another chance, as He does for us every time we confess. “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

[L]ook at the way our Lord’s answer upheld justice without forgoing clemency. He was not caught in the scare his enemies had laid for him; it is they themselves who were caught in it. He did not say the woman should not be stoned, for then it would look as though he were opposing the law. But he had no intention of saying: ‘Let her be stoned’, because he came not to destroy those he found but to seek those who were lost. Mark his reply. It contains justice, clemency, and truth in full measure… What is this, Lord, are you giving approval to immorality? Not at all. Take note of what follows: “Go and sin no more.” You see then that the Lord does indeed pass sentence but it is sin he condemns, not people. One who would have approved of immorality would have said: ‘Neither will I condemn you. Go and live as you please; you can be sure that I will acquit you. However much you sin, I will release you from all penalty, and from the tortures of hell and the underworld’. He did not say that. He said: ‘Neither will I condemn you’: you need have no fear of the past, but beware of what you do in the future. ‘Neither will I condemn you’: I have blotted out what you have done; now observe what I have commanded, in order to obtain what I have promised. — Augustine, Homilies on the Gospel of John, 33.6-7

The Woman Taken in Adultery, Oil Painting by Guercino

A Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Lent
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

The 4th Sunday of Lent is called “Laetare” due to the Gregorian antiphon of the Introit of the Mass taken from the book of the Prophet Isaiah:

Lætare, Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum lætitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestræ.

Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia says: Strictly speaking, the Thursday before Laetare Sunday is the middle day of Lent, and it was at one time observed as such, but afterwards the special signs of joy permitted on this day, intended to encourage the faithful in their course through the season of penance, were transferred to the Sunday following. They consist of (like those of Gaudete Sunday in Advent) the use of flowers on the altar of the organ at Mass and Vespers; rose-colored vestments are also allowed instead of purple.

The collect for Laetare Sunday: O God, who through your Word reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way, grant, we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come. Through our Lord Jesus Christ…

Lent at the Chapel

The Solemnity of the Annunciation – March 25, 2019
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

She says “Fiat.” We say “Amen.”

Pope St. John Paul makes an interesting comparison between Our Blessed Lady’s FIAT and our AMEN. The Angel Gabriel explained God’s plan and invited Mary to accept. She replied, “Fiat” (“Let it be dome according to your word”). Almighty God wanted to come into Mary’s body and soul, and she said “Fiat”.

During the Eucharistic prayer, we hear Jesus’ invitation: Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you. At Communion time, the priest elevates the Sacred Host and proclaims, “The Body of Christ.” And the recipient responds, “Amen.” (“So be it.” “I accept.” “I believe.”)

We can imagine that after the Angel left her, Mary, knowing that the Son of God dwelt in her, newly conceived, must have felt a profound sense of gratitude. She must have felt enveloped in the Divine Presence. And so should we express profound gratitude and be attentive to Whom we have just received in body and soul.

There are many prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion to help us if we need it, like St. Thomas Aquinas’ Adoro Te Devote. The translation, by Fr. Gerard M. Hopkins:

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

On the cross Thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here Thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what Thy bosom ran
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with Thy glory’s sight. Amen.

Pope St. John Paul:
In a certain sense, Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God’s Word. The Eucharist, while commemorating the passion and resurrection, is also in continuity with the incarnation. At the Annunciation, Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord’s body and blood.

As a result, there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived “through the Holy Spirit” was “the Son of God” (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin’s faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.