Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

"Let us then avoid sin, and pray to Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God, for a pure heart. 'Ave Maria, gratia plena!' Holy Mary, as you were full of grace on earth, so you are in heaven full of glory, as Queen of Heaven. But you are still full of grace for us poor pilgrims of earth. For thou art, as the Holy Father tells us, the treasurer of heavenly grace. Through thy hands graces are dispensed, which thy divine Son has merited. Thy hands are filled, as thou didst once appear to a Saint with shining jewels, the heavenly treasures of grace. Oh, stretch forth thy merciful hand, enrich and bless us, Mary! and keep us in the state of grace. Pray for us, Mary! Amen."

St. John Vianney

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Feast of St. Francis Xavier - Dec. 3

On today's feast it's only right to show you a picture of one of the coolest relics in Rome. I give you....


The picture comes from the website for the Church of the Gesù in Rome. In fact, if you click HERE, they have a few pictures from the San Francesco Saverio capella, to the right of the main altar and directly across from the St. Ignatius Loyola chapel. The arm was brought to Rome in 1614.

How many times had that hand held the Host at Mass? How many times was it raised to absolve sinners? To anoint the dying? To anoint during baptism?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nov. 24 - Feast of the 117 Martyrs of VietNam

If the stories of the martyrs are your thing, click on this link for the history of the Vietnamese (and Spanish) martyrs whose feast day we celebrate today.

New Evangelization in Judaism?

Give credit where credit is due.

YouTube has a video which gives a "rappin' reply" for Jewish singles that answers the question, "Why should a Jew seek first and foremost to marry another Jew?"

No, I'm not saying Catholics should rap (it wouldn't be pretty if I had to do it), but here's to being imaginative in using the current media to convey a religious belief.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Solemnity of Christ the King

I took this picture this morning between Masses. It's the center window in the apse, just above the reredos. Between Masses, with the sanctuary area darkened, the candles draw peoples' eyes to the image of Christ the King. Sweet.

And on November 22, nonetheless!

[Thanks to Fr. Bernie Healey for bringing this to my attention.]

Today's Providence Journal reports that Bishop Thomas Tobin, after reflecting on Canon 915 (which says that "Those who ... obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."), has decreed that Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy should not be admitted to Holy Communion because of his advocacy of abortion rights in his 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressman Kennedy was informed of this decision by Bp. Tobin, and did what you or I would do: ran to the media. When asked in a phone interview about how he felt about being a Roman Catholic that is barred from receiving the Eucharist, said he has "personal feelings of disappointment". I'm sure the reporter must've broken his pencil at that moment, otherwise we'd have heard the Congressman's comments about shame, sorrow, his need for prayer, Confession, and a copy of Evangelium Vitae. The Congressman's soul could not be reached for comment.

Pray for Bishop Tobin, who is about to face the full fury of the mainstream media.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Great quote/thought of the day

This was part of the 2nd reading of today's Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, from St. John Eudes:

"He desires to perfect the mystery of his incarnation and birth by forming himself in us and being reborn in our souls through the blessed sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lo, I've got Roses E'er Blooming!

I know, it's not Advent yet, but still this is pretty neat.

I was walking back from the church, where I was trying to take pictures of the stained glass windows while they're being backlit by the sun. While walking back, I took these shots of our Blessed Mother garden. Here we are in the middle of November, and I've got rosebuds ready to pop and an Easter Lily about to bloom.

Also, I realized that I'm not going to get the sharp pictures I want with my digital camera, but here are a few of the better pics I took of the stained glass.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pretty Neat

A friend of mind sent this to me. Click this link to experience a 365 degree tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Dean on St. Martin's Day

As is becoming my habit, I apologize for not writing on the blog for over a week. The truth is that, since I've been made administrator of St. Lawrence, time seems to go faster than it ever has before in my life. Wake up, clean up, say some prayers, say Mass, have some coffee, do some work, [POW] it's noon. Have some lunch, do some more work, [POW] CCD is going on! I'm not sure if it means I've got more to do now or if I was doing less before. But even in the busy-ness, it it certainly exciting and fulfilling.

Now, the plot thickens: As of this past week, I am now the Dean (also technically and canonically called the "Vicar Forane"- though Canon 553 also uses the term "Archpriest", wouldn't that be fun?) of the Raritan Bay Deanery of the Diocese of Metuchen. How about some terms:
  • A "Deanery" is a group of parishes in a diocese that are in proximity to each other. The twelve parishes of the Raritan Bay Deanery are located in Old Bridge, Parlin, South Amboy, South River, Sayreville, and of course Laurence Harbor.
  • Within every Deanery, the Bishop selects a Priest to be the Dean. In my diocese, we are named to a three year term, though this term doesn't prevent the Bishop from removing the Dean from office for a just cause.
So what does a Dean do? That part I'm still learning, but it comes down to this: If you check out Canon Law (specifically Canons 553-555), you'll see most of the duties revolve around providing support to Priests in the Deanery: Supporting them in their work, in their vocations, in their continuing education, and at the times of sickness and even upon their death.

Now for the shameless trappings of office. There aren't many. One is a title. As a Dean, I go from "Reverend" to "Very Reverend". But since I'm too much of a cheapskate to buy new business cards or stationary, that won't be seen all that much. The other are the initials, "V.F.", which can go after my name, but again, I'm cheap, and honestly I don't ever use the other initials I can use after my name for my academic degrees. Finally, on the heraldic front, as long as I'm Dean I go from two tassles to four (sounds almost like something you'd attribute to an aging stripper, doesn't it?) on my coat of arms. That I was able to get, thanks to my pal and heraldic source of all information, Fr. Guy Selvester, who designed my coat of arms last year as a "10th anniversary of ordination" gift.

This appointment was a total surprise to me, and I'm thankful to my Bishop for the honor. I'm also honored by the response I've received from the Priests of my Deanery (we had our monthly get together last Monday). I hope I serve you well.

Ok, just one time:

Very Rev. Jonathan S. Toborowsky, V.F., M.A., M.Div.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sacred Heart T shirts at Old Navy

If you have a teenager who wouldn't be caught dead shopping at a Catholic gift shop, check out what Old Navy has for sale for the Christm--, I mean, "Holiday" season.

It is part of their collection of "Men's Heraldic Graphic Tees", and item number #734840 if you want to order it online. The shirt is $15.00.

Archbishop Sheen once said that it seemed that everything Catholics "drop" as irrelevant in today's society, the world picks up and uses themselves. How right he was! I wonder if this shirt would be identified in a public school as conveying a religious message?

UPDATE: I went to a local Old Navy yesterday to buy the shirt, and they're on sale for only $8 each! Buy a bunch of them and sell them for $10 each as a fundraiser! Imagine what their corporate bigwigs would think if they saw this particular design sell like crazy? Might it get them to put out other designs that get the attention of Catholics?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Italian laundry symbols

Attention Young Fogey clergy and sacristans:

If you're like me, you've bought vestments in Rome, some of which can be laundered in the washing machine. I found a LINK which explains what the symbols on the inside tags mean.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"I'm Catholic, though there are some issues I disagree with the Church about."

How many of us have heard the statement? We sometimes treat the Church's teachings like we treat traffic laws: "I'm all for stopping at red lights and staying on the right side of the yellow line, but I don't think the 65 mph speed limit is something I have to follow."

A friend of mine, Fr. Greg Shaffer, is the Catholic chaplain of George Washington University in Washington, DC. On his blog recently, he gave the basics on the corner you paint yourself into once you think that disagreeing with Church teachings is perfectly acceptable:

1) The teachings of the Catholic Church are from the Holy Spirit.
Neither student knew the answer to this question: "when did the Catholic Church begin?" The answer is 33 A.D. The Church began at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles. The Lord promised to send the Spirit, "the Spirit of truth" who "will guide you to all truth" (Jn 16:13). The Spirit of truth has been guiding the Church for 2000 years. This guarantees us that what the Church teaches us is Truth. All of her teachings in faith and morals are free from error. They are the Truth!

2) The teachings of the Church are the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Our Lord gives the authority to the Apostles to continue his teachings...to teach in his name and in the name of Heaven. He does this first with Peter (the first pope): "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt 16:19). He gives the same authority to the other Apostles (the first bishops) in Matthew 18:18. They have passed down this authority to their successors (popes and bishops) for 2000 years...this is know as Apostolic Tradition. This unbroken tradition guarantees us that what the current pope and bishops teach is from Christ himself.

3) Christ and the Church are one.
Jesus makes this clear in the Gospel (e.g., "I am the vine, you are branches" - Jn 15:5). This point is also made by St Paul throughout his letters (e.g., "Christ is the head of the body, the church" - Col 1:18). Christ is the head, the Church is the body. Because Christ and the Church are one, what we say about the Church is what we say about Christ. If we disagree with the Church, we disagree with Christ. But, the more we are with the Church in mind and heart, the more we are in union with Christ.

Finally, a spiritual point about the Church and Christ that is also practical in our modern world. Think about what got Christ killed. Why was he crucified? What did he do wrong? He didn't do anything wrong. All he did was speak the truth. People either weren't ready for it or they didn't want to hear it. So, they killed him for it. He was hated and crucified by the world because he spoke Truth. The same has happened to his body, the Church. The Church is hated and crucified every day by the world because she speaks the truth. Many people still don't want to hear the truth even though "the truth will set you free" (Jn 8:32). Knowing that this would bring about his death, Jesus spoke the truth in love. The Church continues to do this in the modern world.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sorry that I've "gone silent" for a week. It was a bit of a tough one, with the death of a friend of mine. Ben Wickes was first my Scoutmaster, then a fellow adult leader when I was active in Boy Scouts. In those years he also became a "another father" and a friend. A week ago today he suffered a series of heart attacks (on his birthday, how's that?) and died on Tuesday morning. I celebrated his funeral Mass yesterday, following a wake that had become a reunion of Boy Scout Troop 31 of Port Reading. Others, now living a distance away, made their feelings known through things like Facebook. It was good to see everyone again, even in sad circumstances; it's exactly what Ben would've wanted: laughter, old stories, etc.

So now that week is over, and tonight was supposed to be the start of the Metuchen Diocese's Priest Convocation. Unfortunately it was cancelled, because the scheduled speaker, Fr. Tom Acklin, OSB, had some health concerns. Like many of my brothers, we'd already found coverage for our parish's Masses in anticipation of being away, so I'm still taking the days for a little "mini retreat" down at my alma mater, Mount St. Mary's Seminary. Be back mid-week.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ezekiel 36:26

Please remember in your prayers Fr. Richard Lyons, Judicial Vicar of my diocese (and retired Pastor of St. John's in Dunellen), who will be undergoing heart transplant surgery today at 3pm.

UPDATE - Weds., 10/14: After making it through the surgery, he's doing well in the IC Unit.

ANOTHER UPDATE - Thurs., 10/15: He's been talking to visitors and is already being scheduled for physical therapy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bishop Michael Saltarelli (1932-2009)

This past Thursday, retired Wilmington (Delaware) Bishop Michael Saltarelli passed away after a battle with cancer. I feel the need to tell you about my friend.

I was a college seminarian at Seton Hall back in the early 1990s, and by the time I arrived it was a "house job" that college seminarians served the 11am Mass each Sunday at Sacred Heart Cathedral (not yet a Basilica back then) in Newark. A good number of my friends were natives of south Jersey, and (since we were free on weekends) many of them spent the weekend in places like Deptford, Williamstown, and Bridgeton. Since I lived only about 25 minutes from the cathedral, I had no problem substituting for them on the serving schedule. I mean, how could you not absolutely love serving at a Mass in one of the true gems of ecclesial architecture, feasting your eyes on the stone and stained glass and your ears on the Cathedral choir that sang at the 11? As a result, I was at Sacred Heart for many 11am Sunday Masses, which was also the Mass that then-Rector Bishop Saltarelli usually celebrated.

It was a joy to serve at that Mass and especially to serve Mass for Bp. Saltarelli. He was always in a good mood, always friendly, always asking questions about how seminary life was going. In that huge cathedral sacristy, I watched him deal with many people, occasionally switching to Italian or Spanish in the process. Today's Gospel spoke about the rich young man who approaches Jesus, asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. I wondered, at one or two of my homilies this weekend, about how he had come to that moment, and opined whether it may have been the witness of a few of the apostles or disciples that led this man to approach Jesus to help satisfy the yearning he still felt in his soul. I told the Mass attendees that we'll never know what it was that he saw that got him to think, "Jesus has the answers I'm looking for!", and that we should never underestimate the power we have to bring others to Christ by our actions and words which are seen by people we don't even know are watching. Bishop Saltarelli was one of those "witnesses" whose character brought many to Jesus Christ.

After I graduated Seton Hall, we continued to keep in touch, whether I visited him during seminary breaks or by letters. In my years after ordination, we had lost contact, though I always tried to call him on his birthday. The last time I saw him was at the funeral of my bishop's mother. We exchanged pleasantries, and talked about me coming down for a visit. It never happened. Like John Lennon wrote, "Life is what happens when we're busy making other plans." Still, he was one of those guys whose example formed my understanding of Priesthood. A fatherly figure. A man of faith. An apostle.

May he rest in peace.

Veritatis Splendor revisited

Today's Gospel exchange between Jesus and the rich young man was the "springing off point" for Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II (remember him?)'s 1993 kick@$$ encyclical on morality. In First Theology at Mount St. Mary's, we spent the better part of the semester reading this in our Moral Theology class.

OK, he used Matthew's version of the story (we read Mark's today), but you get the idea.

"They have lavished choice portions upon the priests."

Well, not exactly, but this is still worth noting.

To all my brother Priests out there (especially those in the Diocese of Metuchen who read this --- I know you're out there), the Daughters of St. Paul are giving Priests a 20% discount this coming week (October 12-17) on anything you buy in their Edison store. It's their way of commemorating the Year for Priests.

Thank you, Sisters!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Star Ledger Article

Today's Star Ledger has a front page article about Opus Dei. Unlike most of what is printed in the mainstream media, this seems to be a pretty positive piece, with an interview of Seton Hall University professor John Coverdale (A numerary of Opus Dei) and the series he taped for EWTN along with Damon Owens. Owens, in fact, recently came to my diocese for seminars on marriage and same sex unions. He's no slouch, either, when it comes to public speaking.

October 6 - Feast of St. Bruno

Today's feast of St. Bruno made me think of a few things, which I thought I'd share. It is my blog, after all.

First is that you need to see the movie, Into Great Silence, the award winning documentary which showed the life of Carthusians at Le Grand Chartreuse in France. I've shown it at adult ed programs, and it always intrigues people (plus, they love when I bring along bottles of green and yellow Chartreuse, you know, to show our support of the monks).

Next is this statue of St. Bruno:

In St. Peter's Basilica

I love this one. A few times, Pope Urban II tried to get his former teacher to accept appointment to the episcopacy. Bruno always refused, which is wonderfully depicted as Bruno repulses from the putto trying to get his attention to hand him a miter and crozier.

Finally, those who may want to know more about Carthusians can also check out their website.

Monday, October 05, 2009

October 5

A great day for readings today. But first, a "cheat sheet" on the readings used at Mass. If you need it, read it, if not, skip over it.

Sunday readings have a theme running through them. The First Reading, Responsorial Psalm, Second Reading, and Gospel are chosen to convey an idea, a thought, well... a theme.

Weekday readings, on the other hand, come together almost by chance. First, let me say that by "weekday readings", I mean the readings used at Masses for the days of Ordinary Time. Readings for the Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter seasons and the readings for Saints' feast days are more like Sundays in that regard. When the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council decided that it would be a good thing that the readings at Mass exposed Catholics to more of Sacred Scripture, the Lectionary cycle was created so that one could hear just about all of Scripture at one time or another over a five-year period (Sunday Readings are on a three-year cycle, whilst Weekday Readings are on a two-year cycle).

I loved today's readings together. The readings from Jonah and Luke's Gospel paired off very nicely.

  • Jonah had every reason to preach to the Ninevites (I mean, God asked him to do it), and ran the other way.
  • The Good Samaritan had every reason to walk the other way (given the tensions between Jews and Samaritans), and still forgot about what was going on in his own life in order to care for the man.
What a great lesson in our own lives of the hundreds of little "forks in the road" that we face. Do I help this person or not? Do I engage in the gossip or not? Do I wander on the internet or not? Do I check on my elderly neighbor or not? Do I go to this meeting or not? Our holiness is not in making one big decision well, but lots and lots of little decisions well.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Feast of the Guardian Angels

No, not THOSE Guardian Angels.

Fresh off of the Feast of the Archangels on September 29, essentially the top of the angelic hierarchy, today we reflect on the angels assigned to each and every one of us.

Peter Kreeft of Boston College had a great catechesis on angels, worth rereading today:

"A woman clothed with the sun"

The Home News Tribune has a photo essay of artists completing a mosaic mural outside St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church in East Brunswick, NJ. Check it out by clicking HERE.

Ambassador Diaz with the Pope

This morning, our new Ambassador to the Holy See presented his credentials to Pope Benedict. Rome Reports has footage.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

B16 in Prague

Pope Benedict arrived in the Czech Republic for a two day visit.

Yortuk and Jorge Felstruk were nowhere to be found.

Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Today's feast of Sts. Cosmas & Damian brought to mind (besides the thought to use the 1st Eucharistic Prayer at Mass) the Basilica bearing their names in Rome, located in the shadow of the Colosseum. Since 1998, it has been the titular church of Giovanni Cardinal Cheli, the retired President of the Vatican's Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants.
EXTRA CREDIT: When Cardinal Cheli was named to the Sacred College in '98, he was named a Cardinal Deacon, and (as Canon Law permits) after ten years, he petitioned the Holy Father, and was raised to the level of Cardinal Priest in 2008. He turns 91 this coming October 4.
This Basilica was the first to be converted into a church by using two buildings of the Roman Forum in 527 by Pope St. Felix IV. Originally, one would enter the church from the Forum itself. Now one enters from the main street: the Via dei Fori Imperiali.

Here are some pictures I found on the internet:

The Basilica's entrance, with the coats of arms of Pope Benedict and Cardinal Cheli under the arch and above the doors.

The ceiling of the Basilica has a fresco of Sts. Cosmas & Damian being welcomed into Heaven by the Virgin & Child. The coat of arms of Pope Urban IV is featured in lots of places in the Basilica: It was during his pontificate (1623-1644) that a major renovation took place. Pope Urban was a member of the Barberini family, and so the Barberini bees can be found all over the place.

The apse mosaic in the Basilica is one of the oldest (from the 5th century), and most famous in Rome; one which artists through the centuries modeled their apse designs upon in churches throughout the city. The photograph above is the depiction of Christ in center of the mosaic. Dressed in a Roman toga of gold, he stands out from the background of the blue nighttime sky and purple clouds. In his left hand is a scroll, giving him the classic pose of a Greek orator.

St. Peter is escorting St. Cosmas (or maybe St. Damian) towards Christ (though not in the picture, to the left of Christ, St. Paul escorts the other brother). St. Peter is in the white robes of heaven, while St. whichever is in red and violet robes, carrying the crown of martyrdom in his hands. The artist depicts both Cosmas and Damian in matching robes and with near identical features, emphasizing they were, in fact, blood brothers. The sheep underneath are part of a herd of 12 sheep (representing the apostles), facing the Lamb of God in the center. Where is artwork like this in churches today?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Warts and all

This is a great commercial commissioned by the government of Singapore. Sometimes it's the imperfections of a friend/spouse/sibling that we love (and will miss) the most.

Chaplains wanted. No queue in sight

Click this link for an interesting article in today's London Times about the difficulties the British Army is having in recruiting Anglican chaplains.

The problem? A lack of vocations under the age of 30.

But I thought that a church that allowed women clergy, married clergy, and expressed tolerance to homosexuals was supposed to be bursting at the seams with vocations?

Apparently not.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

St. Pio of Pietrelcina: Not too shabby, either!

In this Year for Priests, Pope Benedict has held up St. John Vianney as a role model for parish Priests, and rightly so. But today's feast day of St. Pio of Pietrelcina gives us another great example of Priesthood.

In today's Gospel, Jesus gives the "travel restrictions" of the day: "Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic." Who better exemplified this than St. Pio, who saw himself only as "a poor Friar who prays"?

Like Vianney, the crowds found Pio in a tiny, obscure corner of his native country. Like Vianney, Pio spent hours in the confessional (also like Vianney, he was not afraid to throw someone out of the Confessional if they hadn't prepared themself). But unlike St. Jean-Marie, Pio also spent hours at his desk, corresponding with those who, though unable to make the journey to San Giovanni Rotondo, wrote him letters asking for prayers and counsel (one wonders what his influence would have been, had he been born 30 years later and had internet access?).

"Pray, hope, and don't worry." Happy Feast Day!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 22

The readings at Mass today revolve around God's house: Ezra's account of the re-dedication of the Temple, the re-establishment of the Levitical Priesthood, and the first celebration of the Passover since the Babylonian exile; Psalm 122's "Let us go to God's house rejoicing"; Mary and Jesus' "brothers" waiting for Him outside the house he's in. It made me think of these things:
  1. Realize how awesome it is to have God, as the prayer goes, "in all the tabernacles of the world".
  2. Each year, thousands of people travel to Rome and wait on line just to be in the same hall as the Pope; to be in his presence. Jesus Christ gives Himself to us in the Eucharist each day; not just to be in the same room with Him but to consume Him and make him part of us.
  3. Mary and the others are trying to get close to Jesus, but the crowds are in their way. What's in our lives that gets between us and Christ?
  4. His family gets a message to Him. We have ability to send Christ a message whenever we want. It's called prayer.
  5. Jesus tells the crowd that anybody who hears the Word of God and acts upon it has His attention just as much as someone related to Him. Is there anyone (or anything) in our lives that competes with God for our attention? What do we do about that?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Feast of St. Matthew

I was driving around on my day off about two weeks ago, listening to Archbishop Dolan's radio show on Sirius/XM's Catholic Channel. He was asked the question, what was his favorite piece of religious art? He responded with the above painting: Caravaggio's "The Calling of Saint Matthew", painted around 1600.

It can be found in the Rome's Church of San Luigi dei Francesi because a French Cardinal, Matthieu Cointerel, desired to be buried in a side chapel there, and left money for the decoration of the chapel (which he wanted to reflect his patron, St. Matthew). The Cardinal died in 1585 without any work having been done to the chapel in the way of adornment. Another artist received the commission to do the paintings first, but he dragged his feet too long and was booted off of the job. In 1599, Caravaggio received the commission for the chapel. The painting is one of three done by Caravaggio for the chapel (the others being Matthew's martyrdom and St. Matthew with an angel), but the "Calling" is the most well known. All three paintings were done by 1602.

San' Luigi dei Francesi was established as the church for French nationals living in Rome (In fact, the Cardinal titular of this church has traditionally been the Archbishop of Paris), and is passed by most people on their way either from the Piazza Navona to the Pantheon, or vice versa. There's actually a nice supermarket around the corner from it, which is a great place to buy snacks and drinks for yourself (and those Baci chocolates for friends back home ) cheaper than snack bars sell them to tourists.

On St. Matthew's feast day, it seemed appropriate to post this on the blogosphere.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What goes through every priest's head as things come to life in a parish after Labor Day

Sts. Cornelius & Cyprian

From the Prayer Over the Gifts for today's feast. I thought the second part of it was a great "thought for the day":

"Lord, please receive the gifts that your people offer in honor of the sufferings of your holy martyrs. May what provided Saints Cornelius and Cyprian with courage in their suffering also give us strength in the midst of our trials. We ask this through Christ our Lord."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Seven Sorrows of Mary

  1. The prophecy of Simeon
  2. The flight into Egypt
  3. The three days the boy Jesus was missing
  4. The meeting between Jesus and Mary on the way to his crucifixion
  5. The crucifixion of Jesus
  6. The taking down of Jesus from the Cross, being placed in the arms of Mary.
  7. The burial of Jesus

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009

OK, so this morning I wasn't really in the mood to write anything about 9-11. Besides, I thought (and I still think) that what I wrote back in 2007 kind of "said it all".

But then I went to Old Bridge Township's memorial service, and it got my creative juices flowing. So here's some random spewing:

Yes, pray today for the almost 3,000 who died. Pray for the repose of their souls. Pray for their families who still miss them.

But remember some other aspects of what happened on September 11, 2001:

  • Remember what could have been: The number of employees in the World Trade Center when the planes hit was far higher than the actual number of fatalities. Trying their best, terrorists were only able to kill a portion of what they intended.
  • Remember that the terrorists planned their evil deeds for months ahead of time. With no time to prepare themselves for what would happen that day, people in the Trade Center and Pentagon who faced a life threatening situation deliberately chose to help others escape, rather than only think of themselves and run. How about the Police, Firefighters and EMTs who did the unthinkable and ran INTO the buildings? It took months for the terrorists to prepare to do evil; it took seconds for the heroes to decide to be heroic.
  • Remember the generosity of shopkeepers in lower Manhattan, who opened their doors and allowed anyone to have their inventory. Shoe store owners told running ladies in their heels to grab whatever sneakers fit them, so they could run faster. How many stores gave out water and food? How many furniture shop owners gave recliner chairs and couches so the rescue teams had places to rest? Remember how blood banks announced that "they were full", and asked people no wait until the current supply of donated blood passed its shelf life to donate again.
  • Remember who people flocked to their houses of worship. Remember how Confessions spiked. Remember how weekend Masses had the numbers usually reserved for Christmas Eve or Ash Wednesday night. If only for a moment, God was back in peoples' lives.
Many of the politicians I heard at the memorial this morning said that September 11 is a "sad" day. But I also think it was a day that showed us what we are capable of when we stop thinking of ourselves and start thinking of our relationship with others (as well as our relationship with God). I suppose you can look at 9/11 as a "glass is either half-empty or half-full". I began the day in the "half empty" camp; I finished thinking "half-full".

8 years later

It's a nasty, windy, rainy day today. Much different than eight years ago. Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a sunny, kind of "reminds you of summer", day.

A few years ago, I wrote about that day (and the days that followed). Here's a link to what I wrote two years ago.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A bit blurry (it was early), but here's a photo of the Blessed Mother altar, all dressed up for her birthday yesterday morning.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mary

From a homily by St. Andrew of Crete:

"We are no longer to be enslaved by the elemental spirits of the world, as the apostle Paul says, or held in the yoke of slavery to the letter of the law (Col 2,8 ; Rom 7,6). This is the summary of the benefits of Christ for us; this is the unveiling of the mystery; this is nature made new: God is made man, and human nature assumed by God is deified. But so radiant, so glorious a visitation of God to us needed some prelude of joy to introduce to us the great gift of salvation. The present feast is such: the prelude is the birth of the Mother of God, and the concluding act is the union which is destined between the Word and human nature.

A virgin is now born..., and is made ready to be mother of God, the king of all for ever... A double gain will be ours: we shall be led towards the truth, and we shall be led away from a life of slavery to the letter of the law. How will this be? Clearly, inasmuch as the shadow yields to the presence of the light, and grace introduces freedom in place of the letter. The present feast stands on the border between these: it joins us to the truth instead of signs and figures, and it brings in the new in place of the old.

Let the whole creation therefore sing praise and dance and unite to celebrate the glories of this day. Today let there be one common feast of those in heaven and those on earth. Let everything that is, in the world and above the world, join together in rejoicing. For today a shrine is built for the Creator of the universe. The creature is newly made ready as a divine dwelling for the Creator."

Saturday, September 05, 2009


In the Gospel for Sunday, Jesus opens the ears of the deaf man with a word, some spitting, some groaning, and his fingers. It was a moment that struck St. Peter as so awesome that, years later in conveying the story to St. Mark, Peter could remember the very word Jesus used. Mark must have been moved by Peter's passion in telling the story, because he himself made point of including "Ephphatha" in his account of the event.

Words have power. Speeches by FDR, Churchill, JFK, etc., can still be bought on CD. Sometimes it's the event, and not necessarily the person, that makes the words memorable (such as Neil Armstrong's, "One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."). Remember last January and the kerfuffle when President Obama misspoke the words of the Oath of Office? How he retook the oath later on that evening? There was a question that, if he did not speak the proper words, despite the election and the electoral college's confirmation, he was NOT the President. That's how powerful words can be.

In the Church, words not only have natural power, but also supernatural power. The words a couple says in the exchange of vows ties the Sacramental bond. The words of absolution that a Priest says in Confession can free the contrite soul of sins. Of course, the words of Christ at the Last Supper, "This is my body; this is the cup of my blood", has been making possible Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist for close to two millennia.

The healing of the deaf man only came after Christ had spent some time alone with the Apostles. Mark tell us this when he says that Jesus and the twelve "left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis." It'd be like saying you went from New York to Boston by way of Chicago (something not so odd if your job requires you do a lot of air travel). One biblical scholar estimated that such a trip took close to eight months to do. Why did the Lord take the long way? Perhaps he wanted time alone with the Apostles. Only then, without distractions, could their own ears "be opened" and they could hear God's voice.

What about us? Are our lives so full of events and noise that we can't hear God? Would we be willing to wait eight months if God told us to? Our culture and our nature says, "I want it NOW", but what happens when God says, "Not yet"? But I digress.

This week, make a deliberate attempt to choose your words deliberately. Write a letter rather than pound keys on a keyboard (can anyone out there say they can recognize the handwriting of a friend or relative?).

Speaking of words, please pray for the tormented soul who left a dollar in our poor box, covered front and back with some of the most foul things one could write about the Blessed Mother. It must've been dropped into the box at the 4:30pm Mass, because I can still smell the magic marker scent on the dollar. Absolutely diabolic.

Friday, September 04, 2009

You lose some, but you win some

The Baltimore Sun has the story about Episcopalian nuns in Catonsville, Maryland, who have been received en masse into the Roman Catholic Church. The members of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor were received by Baltimore's Archbishop Edwin O'Brien.

Read the article by clicking HERE.

21st Century Challenges for Priests

Zenit News Service has part one of an interview with Fr. Nikolaus Schöch, who works at the Apostolic Segnatura. Interesting insights, such as:
  • "one must bear in mind that the parish itself -- and sometimes the diocese, too -- despite its autonomy, cannot remain isolated, particularly in these times when so many means of transportation and communication are available."
  • "Timetables should be based not so much on priests' convenience, but on people's needs, considering work and school hours. For example, there is not much point in offering the sacrament of penance only during work hours, if this means that exclusively elderly people will be able to attend."
  • "No parish priest can fully carry out his mission in an isolated or individual manner, but only joining forces with other priests, under the direction of Church authorities."
  • "Mutual understanding and assistance, and even relationships, between older priests and younger ones, are desirable and should be especially fostered."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Saint Gregory the Great

I apologize, o faithful readers of this blog, for my negligence in posting things for YFs everywhere to feast upon (as well as those who read the blog for other reasons). Once the Feast of the Assumption comes around in the life of a parish Priest, the summer lull has ended and the workload picks up again. This year, especially, I've been occupied in getting my first glimpses of the different groups, ministries, etc., here at St. Lawrence. I hope to be more regular in the future when it comes to launching things into the blogosphere. The whispers tell me it will be a memorable autumn, so hang in there and don't stop coming back to check for new entries.

Today's feast reminded me of the altar in St. Peter's Basilica in which St. Gregory's remains are interred. Not much to write about today, but here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. The first one is the table to be found at the Church of St. Gregory the Great in Rome (technically called the "Church of Saints Andrew and Gregory on the Coelian Hill"). This is traditionally a table from which Pope St. Gregory served food to the poor. The bottom two pics are his tomb in St. Peter's.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

An interesting moment

I'm watching the committal ceremony for Senator Kennedy, being performed by Cardinal McCarrick.

He is reading the letter that Kennedy wrote to Pope Benedict, which was delivered by the President of the United States when they met recently. The content of the letter was previously undisclosed. He also read a portion of the letter written on the Pope's behalf back to Senator Kennedy, similarly undisclosed.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Whoops, spoke too soon

Evidently, classiness skipped a generation in the Kennedy clan.

That's Rose K. Schlossberg, daughter of Caroline and Ed (and granddaughter of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) gesturing out of the limosine.

Hey, maybe she was showing the passers-by how she thought Uncle Ted was "number one"?


Members of the Kennedy family took time to visit with the crowds lined up to attend the viewing for Ted. A classy gesture that reminds us of what every family does at a wake (even one attended by thousands of people).

DaVinci Airport: "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

From the Zenit News Service:

Italian media reported Aug. 20 that Rome’s main airport, Fiumicino, was rated the worst in Europe for delays. One in every two flights is late, and the average delay is 25 minutes.

Reasons are many and varied, but the airport blames them mostly on Alitalia, the struggling national carrier, which has had problems integrating its services with Air One (the two airlines merged earlier this year). But the problems can also affect low-cost airlines. A recent Easyjet flight ... from the airport was delayed nearly two hours because airport ground staff had suddenly fallen out with the airline, despite having signed a contract. "They just don’t like us here," the air stewardess told me. "This is what we get at Fiumicino," she said, shrugging her shoulders.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edward Moore Kennedy

With the President on vacation and Congress in recess, Senator Kennedy's death will be THE story for the next week or so.

The tributes have been coming in. Here's one of them.

"May Christ be merciful in judging our brother Edward, for he believed in Christ as his Lord and Savior."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Matthew 24:40

A storm blew through here last night, having its way with one of two trees alongside the church. One was taken, and one was left behind (hence the quote).