28 November 2013

A National Day of Thanksgiving


On this day when our nation has paused to give thanks to our gracious God, we should hear the words of President Abraham Lincoln which he spoke in 1863, in his now-famous Thanksgiving Proclamation, the proclamation which made this a national day of thanksgiving. His words about the suffering caused by war, and the terrible cost of war, are as immediate to us as they were then; his call for national unity are as necessary for us today as they were then; his call for us to remember God and the blessings we receive from him are more appropriate than ever:

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Those are the words of one of our greatest presidents. May we, on this day, be thankful – but not just “generally thankful.” Let’s be thankful to Almighty God, who has given us the benefit of His love, and His grace, and may his blessing be with you and with your families.

24 November 2013

St. Catherine of Alexandria


Born in about 282 AD, St. Catherine of Alexandria -- who could just as well be called St. Catherine the Brilliant -- converted to the Christian faith at an early age. When she was only eighteen, she engaged in a debate with fifty pagan philosophers. Her wisdom and her skill as a debater were so great that all of them became Christians, along with about two hundred soldiers as well as many members of the emperor's family.

In about 305 AD, Catherine was sentenced to death, which would take place in a particularly barbaric way, on a spiked wheel. The moment Catherine touched the wheel, it broke into pieces, so she was beheaded.
Almighty and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy holy martyr St. Catherine of Alexandria: Grant to us, thy humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in her triumph may profit by her example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Christ the King


The Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, was dragged before a minor earthly ruler, Pilate, and was asked the question, “Are you a king, then?” It was a simple question, and yet so fertile. As a seed bursting with the beginning of life when it falls into good soil is able to produce a harvest beyond imagining, so Christ’s answer to Pilate's question (if it had been met with some glimmer of grace, some hint of human charity) might have lifted the life of that petty potentate into the upper reaches of God’s glory, for our Lord told him “My kingdom is not of this world...” But that, Pilate could not grasp, and so instead has been immortalized with the phrase, “...suffered under Pontius Pilate...” which describes the death of the King he could never understand. We, however, have been given to know that kingdom “not of this world,” and so have been spared the blindness which afflicted Pilate. In the cross we see a throne; in the thorns we see a crown; in the wounded side we see a gateway to Christ’s kingdom, which is eternal.

22 November 2013

Mass at St. Clement's

During our recent pilgrimage to Rome, we celebrated Mass at the ancient Church of St. Clement. Here are some pictures.

Some of our students, entering St. Clement's.

The High Altar, showing the magnificent mosaic of the apse.

A brief homily.

Deacon Orr and Father Phillips, preparing the Offertory.

The elevation of the Chalice.

Ite, missa est.  Returning to the sacristy.

21 November 2013

St. Cecilia


St. Cecilia is one of several martyrs in the early Church who were young girls, and very serious about their faith. Cecilia was of noble birth. At an early age, she dedicated her life to God with a vow that she wouldn’t marry, but would give herself completely to Christ. However, her family wanted her to marry, and she was engaged to a young nobleman named Valerian. On her wedding day, she prayed to the Lord and asked Him to help Valerian to understand that she couldn’t live with him as his wife. History records, "The day on which the wedding was to be held arrived and while musical instruments were playing she was singing in her heart to God alone saying: Make my heart and my body pure that I may not be confounded." St. Cecilia's prayers were answered, and Valerian understood the importance of her vow to God. In fact, not only did he accept it, but he and his brother Tiburtius were both converted to the Christian faith, and were baptized.

At this time, Christianity was still illegal in Rome. Both Valerian and his brother Tiburtius were soon discovered to be Christians, and they were martyred. Cecilia was discovered soon after, and she was condemned to death. It required two attempts, however, before the death of Cecilia was successful. She was first locked in a bath in her own home to be suffocated by the steam. When she emerged from the bath unharmed, she was then beheaded. The stroke of the axe failed to sever her head from her body, however, and she lived for three days. During this time, she saw to the disbursment of her assets to help the poor, and she donated her home to be used as a church, and there is a great church on that site to this day, which bears her name. When Cecilia finally died, she was buried in the Catacombs of Callixtus. In the 9th century Pope Paschal I had St. Cecilia's remains unearthed from the catacombs and reported that her body was incorrupt and that her hands signaled the Trinity, with one extending three fingers and the other a single finger.
Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose those whom the world deemeth powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of thy youthful martyr St. Cecilia, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.




20 November 2013

Presentation of Mary


St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, had prayed for a child, and part of their prayer was the promise that they would dedicate their child to the service of God. Little did they know at that time what great service would be given by their infant daughter.

When Mary reached the age of three, her parents fulfilled their vow. Together with their family and friends, they took her to the Temple. The High Priest and other Temple priests greeted the procession, and tradition says that the child was brought before the fifteen high steps which led to the sanctuary. It is said that the child Mary made her way to the stairs and, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, ascended all fifteen steps, coming to the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could enter. Tradition then says that the High Priest, acting outside every rule he knew, led the Holy Virgin into the Holy of Holies, astonishing everyone present in the Temple. So it was that she, whose own womb would become the Holy of Holies, came into the presence of the God Whom she would bear.

St. Joachim and St. Anne returned to their home, but the Handmaid of the Lord remained in the Temple until her espousal, where she was prepared by God and protected by angels.

O God, who on this day didst vouchsafe that blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost, should be presented in the Temple: Grant, we beseech thee; that by her intercession we may be found worthy to be presented unto thee in the temple of thy glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Remembering Bury St Edmunds


During our parish pilgrimage to England a few months ago, we were able to celebrate Mass according to the Anglican Use, in the Lady Chapel of the Anglican Cathedral of Saint James in Bury St Edmunds.

The great Benedictine Abbey of Bury St Edmunds had been the destination of large numbers of pilgrims seeking to venerate the relics of St Edmund, the Anglo-Saxon king martyred in 869, whose body had been transferred there in the 10th century.

A church has stood on this site since at least 1065, when St Denis's Church was built within the precincts of Bury St Edmunds Abbey. In the early 12th century the Abbot Anselm had wanted to make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. He was unable to complete the pilgrimage, and instead rebuilt St Denis's and dedicated the new church to Saint James, which served as the parish church for the north side of Bury St Edmunds. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, the Abbey fell into ruins, but the Church of St James remained and became the Anglican cathedral in 1914.

So far as is known, ours was the first celebration of a Catholic Mass on this site since the suppression of the Abbey in the 16th century.

19 November 2013

St. Edmund, King & Martyr

On November 20th we commemorate St. Edmund, King and Martyr, who lived in the 9th century. He was the king of East Anglia, an independent kingdom within the confederation of kingdoms which comprised England at that time. His name, Edmund, meant “noble protection,” and as an earthly king he certainly lived up to his name. He had a reputation for compassion and the protection of the weak, of widows and of orphans. His greatest challenge, however, was the invasion of his kingdom by the Danish Vikings. They weren’t complete foreigners to the people of East Anglia. They were of the same race, and in fact, their languages were so similar that they were able to understand one another. No, there was only one essential difference between the Danish Vikings and the English - the Vikings were heathens, and the English were Christians.

The Vikings attacked and destroyed churches and monasteries, homes and villages, all throughout the kingdom. King Edmund fought side by side with the great Christian King Alfred. Edmund did his best, but he was finally overwhelmed by the huge numbers of Danes. At Hoxne in the north of Suffolk, King Edmund was captured. The Danes made him an offer: he could renounce his faith and become a puppet-king under them, or he could die. For King Edmund that was no choice at all. He would never renounce his Catholic faith, and so he chose death. There is an eyewitness report from that time, and it tells how he was scourged and bound, then tied to an oak-tree where the Danes fired arrows at him as for target practice. Finally, after suffering immensely from his many wounds, King Edmund was beheaded. His body was thrown to the wild beasts, but his loyal subjects secretly found his body, entombed him in a small chapel, and there he rested among his people. As they sought his heavenly intercession, God sent blessings upon them, and Edmund continued to be king in their hearts, as their faith in Christ the King grew stronger and stronger.

O God of ineffable mercy, thou didst give grace and fortitude to St. Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for thy Name: Bestow on us thy servants, we beseech thee, the shield of faith, wherewith we may withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

18 November 2013

Some Thoughts On Stewardship


"Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:21).

Those of us who remember the old "Offices of Instruction" found in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer may recall what we were taught about our duty under the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.” We were instructed that it meant “To keep my hands from picking and stealing: To be true and just in all my dealings.”

It is a simple instruction, and there is real wisdom in it. It recognizes that there are two kinds of stealing, two ways of depriving someone else of what rightfully belongs to him. The first is "picking and stealing," which is the plain meaning of theft as an act of undisciplined impulse. The impulse to grab what belongs to someone else truly is destructive. Is it not a sign of loving parents to teach their children how to fight this temptation, and to respect the property of others? It is evident that the urge to “pick and to steal” is very much a childish thing, and certainly not "childlike" or innocent in its results. One of the hidden costs of every purchase we make is the storekeeper’s loss through theft, passed on to his customers in higher prices. The weakest and most defenseless members of society who are most hurt most by theft-inflated prices – the sick, widows, orphans, the elderly – are the very people who are most often on severely limited incomes. In fact, there are entire neighbourhoods in our country without a single store because they have been driven out of business by “picking and stealing.”

However, the second sort of stealing mentioned in the old Instruction might be even more destructive; namely, the planned and unconscionable theft of failing to be true and just in all our dealings. The doing of truth and justice takes real effort, but so does the denying of truth and justice. If “picking and stealing” can destroy a business or a neighborhood, the refusal to be true and just can destroy an entire church, society, or nation.

People make mistakes, of course, but honest people try to learn from their errors. Honest people spend their lives trying to learn and to do what is true and just; whereas dishonest people actively cultivate an ignorance of what God demands of every human being. Even though we might pass a thousand laws to protect the innocent and to punish the guilty (and we have), no human law can possibly succeed if the law of God is despised. We have no hope of teaching or even of forcing someone else to be honest, until we have worked to keep our own hands from picking and stealing, and until we have given our own hearts over to God's justice and truth in all our dealings.

Each one of us has been born into this world with the stain of original sin, and because of that, the pursuit of justice and truth takes a life-long effort if we want to be sanctified in Christ. It is Christ who provides for our failures by offering us His Father's pardon any time we repent of our sins and confess them.

It was this same repentance that Christ was looking for from the Scribes and Pharisees when He said “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” even though it was their intention to trick him, and not to learn about justice and truth. Their question about paying taxes to Caesar was a trap. If Christ had said, “Yes, pay the tax,” the Pharisees could denounce Him to the people as a Roman collaborator. If He spoke against the tax, they could hand Him over to the Roman governour as a revolutionary (which eventually they did anyway).

Yet the Scribes and Pharisees failed to trap Him immediately, because Christ asked to see their money, which turned out to be Roman coins. Under the Jewish law which the Pharisees were claiming to be following, even touching a coin engraved with the image of a man (in this case Caesar) made a Jewish man unclean and unable to enter the Temple. But they had just come from the Temple with their pouches full of ritually unclean Roman money. The crowd which had gathered, hearing this, probably burst out laughing at the Pharisees’ hypocrisy, and at Christ’s deflation of their supposedly-clever plan to get the best of Him. So the only thing the Pharisees could do was to shake their heads in wonder, as Jesus declared, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

That word "render" is our key to understanding this teaching of Christ. It means, “to give someone else what is rightfully his.” In this case, the Pharisees had taken not only Caesar's money for their own use, but they also took advantage of the other benefits of the Roman political system. In return, they owed Caesar his taxes on that money. The tax wasn't voluntary. It wasn't a gift to Caesar. The tax was a debt, and failure to pay it would have been theft.

But if Christ’s words have bound us to meet our obligations to our civil governors, we ought not to forget the rest of His teaching that day, by which He bound us to render to God the things that are God’s. It was the Pharisees’ doctrine, and not Christ’s, that “we have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). Our Lord Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Whatever lawful authority any king or government may possess can be given only by God. No state can command our worship, because worship belongs to God alone.

One of the founding principles of the United States, now obscured by secularist propaganda, is that we Americans have no King but Jesus Christ. Our American heritage of national Thanksgiving Days and voluntary annual stewardship drives constitutes our tribute, our custom, our fear, and our honour that are owed to the Sovereign Majesty ruling us and providing for us (compare Romans 13:7, and our duties to earthly rulers). We render to God what belongs to Him by right; namely, our praise and our thanksgiving. We obey His demand for truth and justice in all our doings, and that extends to our dealings with Him. And, so, what do we owe Him?

We owe Him our first-fruits. “First-fruits” in the Bible are the first, indivisible portion of what we make or do that belongs by right to God, just as “tithes” are God's first tenth of whatever can be divided. Our lives in their totality, therefore, are “first-fruits,” because a life cannot be divided. Either life belongs to God, or it does not. In the same way, we pay to God the first, not the last, portion of our income or increase, not as a gift, but as a debt. If we neglect that, we are not giving Him what already belongs to Him, rather like a bank that refuses to return our deposits.

We must make no mistake about it: God, our King, requires tribute from us, a return on what He has given us. God is the Lord of the visible, as well as of the invisible, because He made all things – visible and invisible. We owe God our visible tribute for his visible blessings, just as much as we owe Him our spiritual worship for his invisible grace.

The Church in modern times has been weakened by the childish myth that we have more difficulties and responsibilities than did those who lived in previous generations. We have acted for a century as if we were the first people ever to have the burden of taxes, even though the Lord who taught us to pay first-fruits and tithes was Himself born in Bethlehem because his parents had gone there to pay a tax. We have acted as if money is the issue, and that money is always too scarce. Even billionaires worry that they could use “just a little more.”

But what matters is truth and justice in all our dealings, even (and perhaps especially) in our dealings with God. We cannot seriously ask for blessings from a God Whom we disobey. We cannot convert the world to a Faith that we do not practice. We cannot help the poor and the weak if we fail to use the time and the money that God has already given to us for these purposes.

As we sow, so also shall we reap (Galatians 6:7), and sowing means letting go of something, so that God can multiply it and make it great. And if this sounds too direct, consider the bluntness of God in the Holy Scriptures, where He says, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me...in tithes and offerings.” (Malachi 3:8).

Truth and justice take courage, and we can be courageous together because two thousand years ago the Son of God offered everything to save us and to build His Church. We continue to build that Church with Him when we do our bounden duty together and render to our Father in heaven the physical worship, which is our support for His Church, which is due to Him.

But we ought also to remember that whether we render to Caesar or to God on the basis of our Lord's teaching, we are not doing something new, but we are only obeying that ancient commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”

Dedication of St. Peter & St. Paul


Almighty and eternal Father, who out of the living stones of thy chosen people hast made a temple meet for thy glory; Multiply, we beseech thee, thy blessings upon the Church, that thy faithful people may draw ever closer to the new and heavenly Jerusalem; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

16 November 2013

Considering silence and darkness


"When all things were in quiet silence and night was in the midst of all her swift course, thine Almighty Word, O Lord, leaped down from heaven out of thy royal throne..."

Throughout the mysterious unfolding of the dramatic events of the redemption of mankind, God has used the gentleness of the night as the setting of His great and mighty acts. It is as though God, in His kindness and love for us, does not wish to startle us with the intensity of His glory, and so He covers His activity with the night. When the children of Israel were released from bondage in Egypt, the angel of death passed over them during the night; while they were on their journey to the Promised Land, the Lord sent life-giving manna during the night; Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and imparted the priesthood after the sun had set and the shadows of evening had come upon Him and His apostles; the Crucifixion itself, even though it took place in the midst of the day, brought a cover of darkness at its moment of climax; the resurrection of the Lord, breaking the bonds of Satan, took place while it was yet dark. And when Almighty God was born as Man of the Virgin Mary, it took place not in the glare of sunshine, but in the midst of the silence of night.

How different these events would have been if we could have planned them. We would think they call for parades, for loud announcements, for a blazing sun and for great activity! In a world which has been shrunk by the media, where the desire is to be noticed, with an uncomfortable feeling about self-effacement, God comes among us in a way which seems strange — a way which is difficult for many to accept. We have grown accustomed to thinking that humility must have ulterior motives, and that silence is simply an absence of sound. But how like God it is, to enter the world when so few were looking, to send His Word down from heaven when so few had ears to hear. He works this way today, too, for He touches us when we least expect it, giving hope and comfort and love when those things seem not to be within reach.

Perhaps it is not so strange, after all, that God should come in darkness, for it tells us most eloquently that God is Light — the Light that drives darkness from our path. In the midst of the darkness of this world, our Holy Mother the Church takes us by the hand and leads us towards the Light which was born in Bethlehem, towards the Light which could not be forever extinguished on Calvary, towards the Light which burst forth from the tomb on the third day. It is darkness which makes us see the glow of a candle, just as it is our own realization of the darkness of our sinfulness that makes us reach out towards the Light which is Christ.

Could it be that the confusion which we see around us, whether it is confusion in the world or confusion within our own household of faith, is to serve the same purpose? Perhaps, in the midst of it all, God is urging us on by His own example - to quietly, but faithfully, bring the Light of His word to illuminate the darkness. Rather than turning on the glare of indignation and self-righteousness, which only makes the shadows more harsh, perhaps God would have us hold up the simple light of His truth, as it is manifested in our blessed Lord Jesus.

When God was born in Bethlehem, He made a poor stable to be His glorious tabernacle. As He carried out His earthly ministry, the world was hallowed anew as His dwelling-place, and as He lives within each of us, so we are His temples. Just as a candle burns before the tabernacle in every Catholic Church, indicating that Jesus the Light is truly there, so our faith, which we express by words and deeds, serves as a spiritual candle burning before the eyes of the world, proclaiming to all that Jesus our Lord is here! He is the God who came at night to drive the darkness away forever. May we, by faithfully reflecting the Light of Christ, banish darkness from our own lives, and from the night which surrounds us.

14 November 2013

St. Albert the Great

The life of St. Albert covered almost all of the 13th century. His father was a very wealthy German nobleman, and Albert was able to receive an excellent education at the best universities of his day. He was a philosopher, a bishop, a prolific writer, and one of the most influential scientists of the Middle Ages. We all know the phrase, “a know-it-all” – but St. Albert really was, and in the best sense. He was able to compile a complete system of all the knowledge of his day. The subjects he encompassed included astronomy, mathematics, economics, logic, rhetoric, ethics, politics, metaphysics and all branches of natural science. It would take him more than 20 years to complete this phenomenal presentation.

St. Albert taught that there was no discrepancy between theology and science; rather, they were simply different aspects of a harmonious whole. Among his most important contributions to the development of scientific thought in the Middle Ages was helping the scholarly community to recognize the value of Aristotle’s philosophy, and he had as one of his chief students, St. Thomas Aquinas. It was Thomas who carried St. Albert’s teaching out to its logical conclusions.

St. Albert is the only scholar of his time to have earned the title "Great" -- a title that was applied to him even during his lifetime.
O God, who gavest grace unto blessed Albert, thy bishop and doctor, to become great because of his subjection of this world’s wisdom to a childlike faith in thee: Grant us, we beseech thee, in such wise to follow his doctrine that finally we may enjoy the fullness of thy light in heaven; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

13 November 2013

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first American citizen to be canonized. She was a naturalized citizen, having been born in Italy. Her parents were simple farmers, used to hard work and little money, but always ready to welcome another child. In fact, St. Frances was the thirteenth child, and her mother was fifty-two years old when she was born. It was a devout Catholic family in which she was raised, and at night after the day’s work was done, the children would listen to their father read them stories of the saints. Young Frances was especially fascinated by the saints who went on missions to foreign countries.

St. Frances had a great desire to help others, and after she finished school she assisted in the local parish by teaching catechism, and visiting the sick and the poor. She also taught school, and supervised the running of an orphanage, where she was assisted by a group of young women. Their work became so well-known that the bishop in a neighboring diocese heard of their work, and he asked Frances to establish a missionary institute to work in the area of education. Frances did as the bishop requested, and she called this new community the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. They opened an academy for girls, and before long the work spread with the establishment of new houses.

One day Frances was contacted by Bishop Scalabrini, an Italian bishop who had a great concern for the many immigrants who were leaving Italy for a new life in the United States. It was not easy for these immigrants, and upon their arrival in America they would endure tremendous hardships, and were not being given adequate spiritual care. As Bishop Scalabrini described the situation to Frances, she was very moved by what he said, but it did not occur to her that she might have a part in the solution. It was not until she had an audience with Pope Leo XIII about the future of her religious foundation that she changed her plans. It was her intention to receive papal permission to go to the missions of the orient, but the Holy Father had another suggestion. “Not to the East, but go to the West,” he said to her. “Go to America.”

Now known as Mother Cabrini, she had no hesitation when she heard the Pope’s words. To America she went, and she landed in New York in 1889, immediately establishing an orphanage, and then set about her life’s work – that of seeing a need, and then working for a solution. She built schools, places for child care, medical clinics, orphanages, and homes for abandoned babies. The poor had no place to go when they became seriously ill, so she built a number of hospitals for the needy. At the time of her death, there were more than five thousand children receiving care in the various institutions she built, and her religious community had grown to five hundred members in seventy houses throughout North and South America, France, Spain, and England.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was a frail woman, of a very small stature, but she amazed others with her energy and imagination. She was constantly traveling, sailing the Atlantic twenty-five times to visit her various religious houses and institutions. It was in 1909 that she adopted the United States as her country and formally became a citizen.

As she reached the end of her life, she had given thirty-seven years to the works of charity she loved so much. In her final illness she was admitted to a hospital in Chicago, Illinois. She died while making dolls to be given to orphans at an upcoming Christmas party, her last activity a simple act of charity. Mother Cabrini was beatified in 1938, and canonized in 1946 by Pope Pius XI.

O Almighty God, who hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of thy servant St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through thy mercy, we may with her attain to thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

11 November 2013

Follow our pilgrimage...

Deacon Orr and I have been leading a pilgrimage of students, parents, and other parishioners on a wonderful pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi. Lots of pictures are posted on my Facebook page, which you may access at this link.

Our final Mass of the pilgrimage was this morning, at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica. Here are a few pictures.





St. Martin of Tours, Soldier & Bishop


Lord God of hosts, who didst clothe thy servant St. Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and didst set him as a bishop in thy Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Protect all those in military service, and with them give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we all may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

08 November 2013

Dedication of St. John Lateran


The Catholic Church throughout the world celebrates the anniversary of the consecration of the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour in the city of Rome, known also as St. John Lateran. On the façade is carved the proud title “Omnium Urbis et Orbis Ecclesiarum Mater et Caput” – “The Mother and Head of all Churches of the City and of the World.” It is the cathedral of Rome – it is the Pope’s Cathedral, and so is, in a sense, the Cathedral of the world – senior in dignity even to St. Peter’s Basilica.

We celebrate this Feast because the Church wants us to remember the importance of consecrated places in which the worship of God takes place. It reminds us of the importance of the consecration of every Catholic Church throughout the world. It is a reminder to us of the Incarnational principle on which our faith is based – that God extends His spiritual blessings to us through the use of physical things. He took human flesh upon Himself. He has instituted seven sacraments which use outward forms to communicate inward grace. He has established a hierarchical Church, with a physical presence in the world, to be a sign of His own presence with us.
Almighty and eternal Father, who out of the living stones of thy chosen people hast made a temple meet for thy glory; Multiply, we beseech thee, thy blessings upon the Church, that thy faithful people may draw ever closer to the new and heavenly Jerusalem; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

03 November 2013

St. Martin de Porres


St. Martin de Porres was born in very difficult circumstances. His mother was a woman who had been a slave, but now freed, and was of African background. His father was of Spanish nobility who was living in Peru. St. Martin’s parents were not married, but lived as common law man and wife, and they had two children, Martin and his sister. The children inherited the dark complexion and African features of their mother, and the father, who was cruel and shallow in his attitude towards race, left the family, and they were reduced to poverty. Because they were of mixed race, this meant that Martin and his sister were considered to be on the lowest level of Lima’s society.

When Martin was 12, his mother apprenticed him to a barber-surgeon. He learned how to cut hair and also how to give basic medical care, which was usual for barbers at that time. After a few years in this medical apostolate, St. Martin applied to the Dominicans to be a "lay helper," not feeling himself worthy to be a religious brother. After nine years, the example of his prayer and penance, charity and humility led the community to request him to make full religious profession. Many of his nights were spent in prayer and penitential practices; his days were filled with nursing the sick and caring for the poor. He treated all people regardless of their color, race or status. He was instrumental in founding an orphanage, took care of slaves brought from Africa and managed the daily alms of the priory with practicality as well as generosity. He became the procurator for both priory and city, whether it was a matter of "blankets, shirts, candles, candy, miracles or prayers!" When his priory was in debt, he said, "I am only a poor mulatto. Sell me. I am the property of the order. Sell me."

Side by side with his daily work in the kitchen, laundry and infirmary, Martin's life reflected God's extraordinary gifts: ecstasies that lifted him into the air, light filling the room where he prayed, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and a remarkable rapport with animals. His charity extended to beasts of the field and even to the vermin of the kitchen. He would excuse the raids of mice and rats on the grounds that they were underfed; he kept stray cats and dogs at his sister's house.

Many of his fellow religious took him as their spiritual director, but he continued to call himself a "poor slave." He was a good friend of another Dominican saint of Peru, Rose of Lima.
O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that, inspired by the devotion of thy servant St. Martin de Porres, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

02 November 2013

All Souls Day


O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of thy Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.