Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Friday, December 06, 2013

The Santa Claus Question

Growing up, nobody ever questioned parents indulging their children in the belief in Santa Claus while at the same time fostering love for the baby Jesus at Christmas. Few, if any, thought that the two were incompatible.

Of course, times have changed. Some foster only a belief in Santa. I remember hearing one young boy at Christmas time tell his mother that some other kids had mentioned Jesus and he asked, "Who is he?" His parents - who were completely non-religious - had never told him that Christmas is about, you know, Christ. Other parents go to the other extreme, thinking that to speak of Santa is to, at best, engage in pagan fantasy and, at worse, to lie to their children.

When one mother claimed that her daughter told her, "you told us the Tooth Fairy and Santa were real, and they’re not. So, it’s hard for me to believe God is real.” I responded with telling her that Santa is real, just as God is real. But one is metaphor and the other is the real deal. Properly understood, “Santa” is not the commercialized guy of the materialistic modern world, but is instead an icon of the Son of God Himself and, hence, a model for us.

"Santa Claus" is representative of the giving and joy that we are each called to, and which originates in God giving Himself to us on Christmas morning. The only problem is in not locking yourself in by presenting Santa in such a fashion that one cannot then later explain exactly who "Santa" is. Yes, he was an actual real historical person by the name of Nicholas, whose feast day is December 6 (see below). And the clothes that he wears (red suit, white lining) are the real historical clothes worn by bishops. But the "Santa" of today is you and me. Santa is us, who are called to give to others.

Thus, it is probably wise, when kids see all the various “Santas” at the mall, to explain that that is not really Santa, but “Santa’s helper.” That can bridge the gap to later telling the children that “Santa” is symbolic. When children learn that Santa is actually mom and dad, the parents who love them, they receive a better gift than the toy giver from the North Pole could ever give. When they understand that the real Santa is each of us, they are more ready to understand that they are Santa too, they are called to self-giving.

Moreover, there is absolutely no reason that this should cause a crisis of faith. Kids are sophisticated enough to "believe" in the Easter Bunny without losing faith in God Himself - after all, it is obvious that they are receiving the very same eggs that they were helping mom and dad paint a couple of days before. Here, again, is the lesson of self-giving.

If done right, parents can avoid the two extremes of teaching fantasy and lies to children on the one hand and being a grumpy wet-blanket Grinch on the other. Fostering a belief in "Santa Claus" can be a teaching tool if carefully done, a tool that leads children to Christ and His call to love one another.

As for the real Saint Nicholas --

He was born in Lycia, Asia Minor, and died as Bishop of Myra in 352. He performed many miracles and exercised a special power over flames. He practiced both the spiritual and temporal works of mercy, and fasted twice a week.

He is undoubtedly one of the most popular saints honored in the Western world. Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Peter Damian called him the glory of young men, the honor of the elderly, the splendor of priests and the light of Pontiffs. In the United States, his memory has survived in the unique personality of Saint Claus — the jolly, rotund, white-bearded gentleman who captivates children with promises of gifts on Christmas Eve. Considered primarily as the patron saint of children, Nicholas is also invoked by sailors, merchants, bakers, travelers and pawnbrokers, and with Saint Andrew is honored as the co-patron of Russia.

St. Nicholas was born in the last years of the third century in Asia Minor. His uncle, the archbishop of Myra in Lycia, ordained him and appointed him abbot of a nearby monastery. At the death of the archbishop, Nicholas was chosen to fill the vacancy, and he served in this position until his death. Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who persecuted the Christians, St. Nicholas was arrested, taken away from his home by the pagan soldiers, and thrown into a prison at the beginning of the fourth century. He suffered the hardships of hunger, thirst, loneliness, and chains. Released by Constantine the Great, he returned to his city, and he later attended the Council of Nicaea in 325. He died in Myra about 345.

Popular legends have involved Saint Nicholas in a number of charming stories, one of which relates Nicholas' charity. A man of Patara had lost his fortune, and finding himself unable to support his three maiden daughters, was planning to turn them into the streets as prostitutes. Nicholas heard of the man's intentions and secretly threw three bags of gold through a window into the home, thus providing dowries for the daughters. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. The three bags of gold are also said to be the origin of the three gold balls that form the emblem of pawnbrokers.

Saint Nicholas labored in his domains to stop the worship of false gods, still practiced there as elsewhere. With his own hands he cut down a huge tree, site of a sacrilegious cult of the goddess Diana. During a famine his prayers multiplied the provisions of wheat which he had ordered for the port of Myra, to such an extent that what would have sufficed for his people for only a few days, was found to be sufficient for more than two years. He rescued from death, just before they were hanged, three innocents condemned by a judge who had been corrupted by money, reprehended the latter for his crime and sent these liberated ones home, entirely exonerated.

After Nicholas' death on December 6, his body was buried in the cathedral at Myra. It remained there until 1087, when seamen of Bari, an Italian coastal town, seized the relics of the saint and transferred them to their own city.

By the year 1200 St. Nicholas had captured the hearts of all European nations. Many churches, towns, provinces and countries venerate him as their patron saint. Merchants, bankers, seamen and prisoners made him their patron, too. But his main patronage is the one over little children. Countless miracles were attributed to the saint's intercession. His relics are still preserved in the church of San Nicola in Bari; an oily substance, known as Manna di S. Nicola, which is highly valued for its medicinal powers, is said to flow from them.

The story of Saint Nicholas came to America in distorted fashion. The Dutch Protestants carried a popularized version of the saint's life to New Amsterdam, portraying Nicholas as nothing more than a Nordic magician and wonder-worker. Our present-day conception of Santa Claus has grown from this version. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Her, O Lord

+ Greeting
In this moment of sorrow, the Lord is in our midst and comforts us with His word: Blessed are the sorrowful; they shall be consoled.

Let us pray:
Loving and merciful God, we entrust our sister Rosemarie to your mercy. You loved her greatly in this life: now that she is freed from all its cares, give her happiness and peace forever.
The old order has passed away: welcome her now into paradise where there will be no more sorrow, no more weeping or pain, but only peace and joy with Jesus, your Son, and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.
R: Amen.

Gospel Reading
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John.
The sisters sent word to Jesus to inform Him, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this, He said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now, I know that God will give you whatever you ask of Him.
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.”
Martha replied, “I know he will rise again, in the resurrection on the last day."
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, though he should die, yet will he live, and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die.”
The Gospel of the Lord.

Litany
Saints of God, come to her aid. Come to meet her, angels of the Lord.
R: Receive her soul and present her to God the Most High.

May Christ, who called you, take you to Himself; may angels lead you to Abraham’s side.
R: Receive her soul and present her to God the Most High.

Give her eternal rest, O Lord, and may your light shine on her forever.
R: Receive her soul and present her to God the Most High.

God of mercy, hear our prayers and be merciful to your daughter Rosemarie, whom you have called from this life. Welcome her into the company of your saints, in the kingdom of light and peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R: Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer
With God there is mercy and fullness of redemption; let us pray as Jesus taught us to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Prayer of Consolation
God of all consolation, in your unending love and mercy for us, you turn the darkness of death into the dawn of new life. Show compassion to your people in their sorrow.
Be our refuge and our strength to lift us from the darkness of this grief to the peace and light of your presence.
Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by dying for us, conquered death and by rising again, restored life. May we then go forward eagerly to meet Him and after our life on earth be reunited with our departed brothers and sisters, where every tear will be wiped away.
R: Amen.

Prayer of Commendation
Lord Jesus, our Redeemer, you willingly gave yourself up to death so that all people might be saved and pass from death into a new life. Listen to our prayers, look with love on your people who mourn and pray for their sister Rosemarie. Lord Jesus, holy and compassionate: forgive Rosemarie her sins. By dying you opened the gates of life for those who believe in you: do not let our sister be parted from you, but by your glorious power, give her light, joy, and peace in heaven where you live forever and ever.
R: Amen.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Still Present in Our Hearts

Rosemarie passed peacefully in Las Vegas on Wednesday, April 17, in the arms of her devoted husband of 40 years, Alan, and in the presence of her seven loving children. Throughout her life, Rosemarie showed a passion for life. Her energy and courage in the face of adversity was especially an inspiration to those that were fortunate enough to be around her.

Rosemarie loved her family, a family that included many people that she adopted as her own. And once a mother, always a mother, so she has now gone forward to help prepare a place for us in the house of the Father.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

His Holiness, Blessed John Paul II, Servant of the Servants of God, Returns to the House of the Father

At 10 p.m. (3 p.m. EST) on April 2, 2005, immediately after the crowd had finished praying the Rosary for Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Secretariat of State, made the following announcement: "At 9:37 p.m. (2:37 p.m. EST) our Holy Father returned to the House of the Father."

The majority of the faithful knelt down, many of them with tears in their eyes. A few minutes later, the bells of St. Peter's Basilica tolled the death of the Bishop of Rome.





Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
V- Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
R- That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.





De Profundis
Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice.
Let Thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities,
Lord, who shall stand it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness
and by reason of thy law, I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on His word,
my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night,
let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy
and with him plentiful redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen.

Ora Pro Eo
Kyrie, eleison, Kyrie, eleison
Christe, eleison, Christe, eleison
Kyrie, eleison, Kyrie, eleison
Sancta Maria, ora pro eo
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro eo
Sancta Maria, Mater Ecclesiæ, ora pro eo
Sancta Maria, Salus populi Romani, ora pro eo
Sancti Michael, Gabriel et Raphael, orate pro eo
Omnes sancti Angeli, orate pro eo
Sancte Ioseph, ora pro eo
Sancte Ioannes Baptista, ora pro eo
Omnes Sancti Patriarchæ et Prophetæ, orate pro eo
Sancti Petre et Paule, orate pro eo
Sancte Andrea, ora pro eo
Sancti Ioannes et Iacobe, orate pro eo
Sancte Thoma, ora pro eo
Sancti Philippe et Iacobe, orate pro eo
Sancte Bartholomaee, ora pro eo
Sancte Matthæe, ora pro eo
Sancte Simon et Thaddaee, orate pro eo
Sancte Matthia, ora pro eo
Sancte Luca, ora pro eo
Sancte Marce, ora pro eo
Sancte Barnaba, ora pro eo
Sancta Maria Magdalena, ora pro eo
Omnes Sancti Discipuli Domini, orate pro eo
Sancte Clemens, ora pro eo
Sancte Calliste, ora pro eo
Sancte Fabiane, ora pro eo
Sancte Corneli, ora pro eo
Sancte Xyste, ora pro eo
Sancte Ioannes, ora pro eo
Sancte Martine, ora pro eo
Sancte Damase, ora pro eo
Sancte Leo Magne, ora pro eo
Sancte Gregori Magne, ora pro eo
Sancte Leo, ora pro eo
Sancte Pie, ora pro eo
Omnes Sancti Pontifices Romani, orate pro eo
.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Miserere



The Tallis Scholars sing Allegri's Miserere at S. Maria Maggiore.

Monday, February 11, 2013

We entrust ourselves to the providence of God

Nevertheless, this is a sad day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

St. Stephen and the New Evangelization

Meditation of Pope Benedict XVI
Angelus, December 26, 2012
Each year, on the day after Christmas, the liturgy celebrates the feast of St. Stephen, deacon and first martyr. . . . Allowing ourselves be drawn by Christ, like St. Stephen, means opening our lives to the light that calls, directs and makes us walk the path of good, the path of humanity according to God’s loving plan. . . .

St. Stephen is a model for all those who want to serve the new evangelization. He shows that the novelty of proclamation does not primarily consist in the use of original methods or techniques, which certainly have their uses, but in being filled with the Holy Spirit and allowing ourselves to be guided by Him. The novelty of proclamation lies in immerging ourselves deeply in the mystery of Christ, the assimilation of His Word and of His presence in the Eucharist, so that He Himself, the living Jesus, can act and speak through His envoy. In essence, the evangelizer becomes able to bring Christ to others effectively when he lives of Christ, when the newness of the Gospel manifests itself in his own life.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Do You Have Room for the Lord? Do You Have Time for Him in Your Life?

Midnight Mass Homily of Pope Benedict XVI
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Again and again the beauty of this Gospel touches our hearts: a beauty that is the splendour of truth. Again and again it astonishes us that God makes himself a child so that we may love him, so that we may dare to love him, and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms. It is as if God were saying: I know that my glory frightens you, and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so that you can accept me and love me.

I am also repeatedly struck by the Gospel writer’s almost casual remark that there was no room for them at the inn. Inevitably the question arises, what would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door. Would there be room for them?

And then it occurs to us that Saint John takes up this seemingly chance comment about the lack of room at the inn, which drove the Holy Family into the stable; he explores it more deeply and arrives at the heart of the matter when he writes: "he came to his own home, and his own people received him not" (Jn 1:11).

The great moral question of our attitude towards the homeless, towards refugees and migrants, takes on a deeper dimension: do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him? Do we not actually turn away God himself?

We begin to do so when we have no time for him. The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full. But matters go deeper still. Does God actually have a place in our thinking? Our process of thinking is structured in such a way that he simply ought not to exist. Even if he seems to knock at the door of our thinking, he has to be explained away. If thinking is to be taken seriously, it must be structured in such a way that the "God hypothesis" becomes superfluous. There is no room for him. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him. We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed. We are so "full" of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger.

By reflecting on that one simple saying about the lack of room at the inn, we have come to see how much we need to listen to Saint Paul’s exhortation: "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Rom 12:2). Paul speaks of renewal, the opening up of our intellect (nous), of the whole way we view the world and ourselves. The conversion that we need must truly reach into the depths of our relationship with reality.

Let us ask the Lord that we may become vigilant for his presence, that we may hear how softly yet insistently he knocks at the door of our being and willing. Let us ask that we may make room for him within ourselves, that we may recognize him also in those through whom he speaks to us: children, the suffering, the abandoned, those who are excluded and the poor of this world.

There is another verse from the Christmas story on which I should like to reflect with you – the angels’ hymn of praise, which they sing out following the announcement of the new-born Saviour: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving with the Holy Spirit and Bishop Loverde

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, our nation's oldest holiday, but the parish of Blessed Sacrament got an early start with the Turkey Dinner we held last Saturday evening.

On Thursday (and on Friday too for many people), we will gather with family and friends for a feast of succulent turkey, gravy, potatoes, stuffing, corn and green beans, cranberry sauce, pies and cookies, delicious wine, and more. Before eating, many will "say grace" and go around saying what they are thankful for.

But even though many gathered around the table do have this tradition of saying what they are thankful for, we do not call this Thankfulness Day, but Thanksgiving Day. Even for nonbelievers, this day is Thanksgiving Day. And to give thanks, rather than being merely thankful, means giving that thanks to someone.

Who is that someone to whom we give thanks on this holiday? Sure, some of the thanks will go to family and friends, but primarily our "thank you" is given to God. (Indeed, the word "holiday," even though used in a civic setting, is derived from "holy day.") "Thank you" not only for the food around the table, but for all of the blessings of our lives, even if we do not recognize them to be blessings.

The word for "thanksgiving" in Greek is, as you may already know, "eucharistia." This is the name we give to the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we receive at the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

Bishop Paul Loverde came to our parish of Blessed Sacrament on Monday evening, November 19, for a Eucharistic celebration to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation upon many members of our parish community. Noting his own nervousness that the bishop might call on him when he was confirmed in 1950 at the age of ten, Bishop Loverde sought to reassure the confirmandi that one of the graces received from the Holy Spirit in Confirmation was that of strength and fortitude to not be afraid to give witness to the Lord, especially out there in the world, "where it really counts." In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit would come to dwell within the recipient; He would be a helper, a guide, and thereby transform the recipient into a clearer image of Jesus Christ to others and bind him or her more closely to the Church and her mission to be a witness of Jesus to others in everything we say and think and do.

Being a witness for the Lord in this world will not be easy for the newly-confirmed, Bishop Loverde said, but out there in the world is where this witness really counts, that is, that is where it is so necessary. From the many attacks on the sanctity of life to the scourge of drugs, alcohol, and pornography, to a culture of violence and injustice, and the many other failings or outright evils of humanity, the world is a cold and dark place, and it needs the Light of Christ that can shine through us by our witness of Him. The Holy Spirit is stronger than all the vices and evils of the world and with Him in our hearts, we can be heralds of hope to others. To do that, Bishop Loverde said, all one needs do is open his heart to receive the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, and then to allow Him to remain there, dwelling within you.

These graces received in Confirmation are crucial to being an effective witness, including the grace of strength to resist peer pressure to engage in any number of wrongful things that the world tempts us to do and, by having this strength to say "no" to these things, and "yes" to God instead, we provide a witness and example that encourages others to avoid the wrong and do the good, we can be Good News to them.

In Confirmation, we join in the mission of the Church to share the Lord with others. The word "thanksgiving" is "eucharistia" in Greek. The Lord is our Eucharist, our Grace, and as Confirmed Catholics, we should seek to invite others to our feast with Him and in Him.

The turkey and wine we will eat and drink on Thanksgiving Day will be deliciously good, but they are pale imitations of the real food, the real drink that the Lord invites us to receive to have life in abundance. More than merely saying what we are thankful for, we need to give that thanks to Him, and beyond saying grace, we need to open our hearts to the grace of the Holy Spirit, to dwell within us and be a light of the Lord to others. More than merely inviting others to share turkey on Thanksgiving, we need to invite others to share in our Lord, the fullness of life, in the Eucharist. In love, with the graces of the Holy Spirit we received in Confirmation, we need to invite them to join us at the real Thanksgiving meal, not merely once a year, but to join in the joyous feast everyday of our lives.
_________________

See also, The First Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of President Washington (1789)

(cross-posted at Adoramus Te)