Thursday, June 28, 2012

A special plenary indulgence for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

June 29th, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul
The Solemnity of the two great Prince-Martyrs of the City of Rome is not only a commemoration of the shedding of their glorious blood in supreme witness to Christ, but is also memorial of the unity and catholicity of the Church which Christ himself founded upon Peter and which spread throughout the whole world through the preaching of the Apostle Paul.
In commemoration of her apostolic origins and of her unity founded upon the Bishop of Rome, the Church grants a special plenary indulgence on this day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Does Christ mean that we cannot ever judge anyone?

Monday of the 12th week in Ordinary Time, Matthew 7:1-5
Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
Our Lord tells us that we must not judge our neighbor, and he does not say that we may judge sometimes, or when the case is clear and obvious to us, but rather that we must never judge.
St. James says the same: He that detracteth his brother, or he that judgeth his brother, detracteth the law, and judgeth the law. But if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, and judge, that is able to destroy and to deliver. But who art thou that judgest thy neighbour? (James 4:11-13)
What shall we say, then, must we never judge another? Is it wrong to form any opinions at all about others?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

St. John the Baptist, a model for priests

June 24th, Nativity of St. John the Baptist
The Precursor’s Nativity is celebrated by the Church because, even from the womb, he chosen and sanctified for his vocation. The Baptist is the greatest of the prophets, and is more than a prophet, for he rejoiced to see the day of the Bridegroom.
While the priest, in very specific moments, acts in persona Christi, most of his ministry is more closely tied to that of St. John the Baptist – directing people to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In this respect, St. John is a model for the priest as “friend of the Bridegroom” and “voice of one crying out in the wilderness”.
On a personal note, St. John the Baptist is particularly dear to me as a model for the priesthood, as I was ordained a priest on the Vigil of his Nativity three years ago.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Aloysius Gonzaga, Thomas More, and second marriages

St. Aloysius, the pure

June 21st, St. Aloysius Gonzaga
June 22nd, St. Thomas More
While St. Aloysius Gonzaga is notable for his great purity – indeed, not only did he shun all impurity, but it is said that he did not even look upon the face of any woman, not even his own mother! – St. Thomas More is recognized as one of the great married saints of the modern Church. Certainly, St. Thomas More was mot pure and chaste, but St. Aloysius lived out the evangelical council of chastity to is perfection through a life of perpetual continence and virginity (i.e. avoiding all sexual pleasure).
And so, we see something of a tension: Can the Church on the one hand teach that St. Aloysius is a better example of purity on account of his perfect celibacy, and on the other hand still honor and reverence St. Thomas More who was married not only once but twice (after his first wife died)? How is it that the Catholic Church can exalt celibacy without degrading marriage?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The necessity of Viaticum and the duty of priests

June 19th, St. Juliana Falconieri
St. Juliana, whose feast is commemorated today, was the niece of St. Alexis Falconieri (one of the seven founders of the Servite Order) and foundress of the Servite Tertiaries, also called the “Mantellate”. She is the patroness of the sick and of those suffering bodily ills – on account of the circumstances of her death, she could well be called the “Patroness of Viaticum”.
When St. Juliana was in her last moments of life, and the priest was called to bring her the Blessed Sacrament as Viaticum, it was determined that she would not be able to receive on account of constant vomiting. She, however, begged the priest to spread a corporal upon her chest and to lay the Host upon it. After the priest did this, in the sight of all present, St. Juliana became radiant and the Host suddenly disappeared – having been miraculously received into her body as the “food for her journey” into eternal life.
We do well then, to consider the importance of Viaticum (Communion before death) as the last Sacrament of the Christian life.
Those interested in the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, may consider our earlier articles: When should I receive Anointing of the Sick? [here]Anointing is only for those in danger of death [here], and On surgery and Anointing [here].

Friday, June 15, 2012

His Heart an open wound with love

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
St. John of the Cross, known for his great works of mystical theology (especially “Dark Night of the Soul” and “Ascent of Mount Carmel”), was in fact more interested in poetry than in theological treatises. Indeed, much of his theological writing was given as a commentary or quasi-commentary on his poetry.
On this Solemnity, we do well to consider the following poem of St. John of the Cross in which he calls to mind the Most Sacred Heart of our Savior under the metaphor of a shepherd wounded by love.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Sacred eloquence" in Christian preaching

The eloquent tongue of St. Anthony
miraculously from corruption

June 13th, Feast of St. Anthony of Padua
While St. John Chrysostom is the patron saint of preachers, there can be no doubt that St. Anthony of Padua is a most superb model for all Christian preaching. Not only is he recognized as the great preacher of the Friars Minor (i.e. the Franciscans), we must also recognize that many of his greatest miracles are associated with his preaching.
Consider, for example, his famous sermon to the fishes on the bank of the river Brenta near Padua – his spiritual father, St. Francis, is often remembered for speaking to animals, but it was St. Anthony who preached to the fishes!
Beyond this most extraordinary example of preaching, recall that he once bilocated while preaching on Holy Thursday; that, on another occasion, he preserved his audience from getting wet while he preached in the midst of a rainstorm; and that, when once the pulpit in which he was preaching collapsed and fell among the hearers, none was hurt, not even the saint himself.
We do well then, in honor of St. Anthony, to consider what is the sacred eloquence of a truly Christian preaching, and how this differs from the profane eloquence of worldly discourse.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Melchisedech, Yom Kippur, Manna, and the Paschal Lamb: Figures of the Eucharist

Melchisedech, priest of the most high God
The Church recognizes many and various realities from the Old Testament as figures for Christ’s gift of himself in the Most Holy Eucharist. On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in the Ordinary Form, the Church read from the book of Exodus – how the people were cleansed and the covenant ratified through animal sacrifice at the foot of Mount Sinai.
In the Extraordinary Form, on the other hand, the Church put before us the figure of the Manna in the desert, through the reading of a passage from the Bread of Life Discourse.
There are so many images and figures for the Eucharist in the Old Testament – the Manna, the bread and wine offered by Melchisedech, the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Paschal Lamb, etc.! How are we to understand what each of these figures teaches us about the Blessed Sacrament? Further, we ask: Is there any one thing from Old Testament which is more completely or perfectly a figure for the Eucharist?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Why Jesus used bread (rather than the Paschal Lamb) for the Eucharist

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus, Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.”
 At the Last Supper, our Savior instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist using the natural elements of bread and wine. Thus, by the divine mandate, only pure bread and pure grape wine can be the matter of the Sacrament of the altar. Like the male-only priesthood, this is something over which the Church has no power but which she receives from her divine Head, Christ Jesus our Lord.
However, it is good to realize that our Savior could have used any food as the matter for the Eucharist. He chose bread, but he could have chosen to consecrate the flesh of the Passover Lamb (for example).
Why then, did our Lord make use of bread for the Eucharist? And, What was he teaching us?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Is the Sacred Host the flesh of Christ's Sacred Heart?

The heart tissue of the Eucharistic miracle in Lanciano

Solemnity of Corpus Christi
Unless the local bishops have moved it to the following Sunday, today is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, the feast of the Most Holy Eucharist.
On this day, the Church adores the Real Presence of her Savior in the Eucharistic Species. Christ our Lord is really, truly, substantially and sacramentally present in the Eucharist. This Presence is confirmed in a most astonishing way in those Eucharistic miracles where the Host and/or Precious Blood physically and visibly change shape so as to become (in sensible form) flesh and blood.
A question arises, however: Since, in some of these Eucharistic miracles, the Host changes into heart tissue, are we right to say that the Sacred Host is the flesh of the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Sacred Heart as a model for your heart

Since 1873, by the approval of Pope Pius IX, the month of June has officially been consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In fact, this devotion had long been practiced privately by individuals and also locally by dioceses (especially in France).
As May is Lady Month, June is the Month of the Sacred Heart. During this month, the Church desires that all Christians (and indeed, all people throughout the world) find refuge in the Heart of the Savior. We pray: “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Make our hearts like unto thine!”
What, we ask, does the Heart of Jesus teach us about our own hearts? How is the Sacred Heart a model and exemplar for the heart of every Christian?

Friday, June 1, 2012

On Retreat

I have been traveling over the past several days, and now I will be leading a retreat for lay Carmelites over the weekend. Thus, I will not be updating the blog until early next week.

As we conclude the month of our Lady and enter the month of the Sacred Heart, let us continue our prayers for the renewal of the Christian family (though our official May prayer-campaign is now concluded). Further, let us consecrate our family and all families to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

Please pray for me and for all who are on the retreat!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, we place our trust in you!