The Living Rosary 2017 Part II

Here are more photos of the Living Rosary which give a different perspective of the liturgy itself. The children group into five decades and each wears a distinctive color chosen for that particular decade. There are usually several children making up each "bead." The framework of the rosary is a plastic chain with the appropriately colored beads, consisting of plastic hoops. 

A group of 8th grade boys carry the cross to each "bead" along with a microphone which transmits the beginning of their prayer over an outdoor speaker system to enable the other children to know when to join in with the second part of the Hail Mary, The Our Father, or the Glory Be. 


Saint Bruno, Founder of The Carthusians

St Bruno-FounderSaintStatue

Saint Bruno founded a unique form of religious life, a way of being alone - together.

Carthusians live in individual cells with their own workshop, study, oratory and garden but eat some meals and pray sometimes in community. 

Their entire day is arranged around praying, working, reading and studying for God.

Bruno was a successful administrator, scholar and advisor, but longed for a more private life to which he returned even when repeatedly called out of seclusion by a former student who became pope and needed his advice.

Bruno is shown in this statue declining nomination as a bishop and with a skull to remind him of the fleeting nature of earthly honors and pleasures.

It is a peculiar phenomenon that the very busy often find the advice of the very quiet very valuable. 




Good King Wenceslas Looked Out On the Feast of Stephen


Wenceslas and His Page


...As the lyrics to the well-known Christmas carol go. He saw a poor man gathering firewood and asked his page who the man was. The page identified the man and the king (actually Duke Wenceslas) determined to set out and bring the man food and drink on the First Day of Christmas. 

The storm intensified as the king and the page set out toward the man's dwelling and the page lost heart. The king encouraged him to follow in his footsteps without looking into the wind and he regained spirit for the difficult journey.

Today we celebrate Wenceslas' feast day, who was eventually assassinated by a pagan brother in a struggle for the throne.








St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companions were a group of Christian missionaries canonized by St. Pope John Paul II for their martyrdom under the Towogawa

St. Lorenzo Ruiz at Shrine in Nagasaki, Japan

Shogunate in Japan during the 17th century. Ruiz, a Filipino catechist, is the protomartyr of the Phillipines and their national patron saint.




Do Not Light A Lamp and Place It Under A Bushel Basket

Flame1Jesus' warning in today's gospel about whoever seems to have little it will be taken away, while to those who have, more will be given is understood in the context of the remarks about not lighting a lamp and placing it under a bushel basket or under a bed. It echoes the parable of the talents, wherein the servant who buried his talent had it confiscated upon his master's return. 

Our faith is not meant to be hidden or stashed away for emergencies only. It is to be lived and to shine as brightly as we can burn. If we only have recourse to faith rarely and bury it away, we may find that it is extinguished entirely just when we need it most.


Sacrament of the Sick

Sacrament of the SickToday's gospel of Jesus healing the centurion's servant reminds us about the treasure we have in the Church's Sacrament of the Sick.

Finally rescued from being viewed as an anointing for heaven, it is now seen as a prayer and anointing for healing, to be called for sooner rather than later in our battle against sickness and disease. 

This new insight bears repeating and constant example by inviting, when appropriate, family members and loved ones to be present at the Sacrament of the Sick. The spiritual peace and strength bestowed by the sacrament is a beautiful ally for physical healing if recovery is hoped for. In hospice care, a peaceful and consoling presence of God can rest on the anointed.


Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Blessed Feast Day Everyone!

With great respect for Pierro della Francesca I've repaired his beautiful fresco of the Proving of the Holy Cross, the portion of his fresco series in Arezzo that most closely mirrors our Holy Cross Window, now in the choir loft.

This weekend would be a great time to read a little about the origin of the feastday and the history of St. Helena's pilgrimages to the Holy Land. 


Photoshopped version of the Death of Adam
An Imaginary "Repaired" Version of the Death of Adam

Certain of the panels have more deterioration than others. In many of them the blue sky has flaked and disappeared, and in the Death of Adam, above, many of the greens have faded and disappeared. Looking at della Francesca's other paintings, it isn't too hard to either copy or modify the trees from his intact paintings to fill in the background of the trees in "Death of Adam." The Tree of Life is taken from a the panel of the Queen of Sheba visiting Solomon. Some have argued that half of the tree was dead and half living. I'm not sure, but here's what it might look like if it were intact. Trees figure prominently in some of his other panels in this series and in his Baptism of Jesus by John, for instance. 

As we pray what kind of art to put in our reredos, it is well to consider the history of the iconography of the "Invention of the True Cross" in art.


Saint Onesiphorus

Modified from Wikipedia
Manuscript Showing Sosthenes, Apollo, Cephas, Tychicus, Epaphroditus, Cæsar and Onesiphorus.

Since Onesiphorus was named by St. Paul in Scripture, you'd think he'd be familiar to more people. When we realize that Onesiphorus was thanked by Paul, not only for embracing the faith, but for being loyal and helpful to Paul imprisoned in Rome, we have an example of true friendship for all ages.

He was apparently a convert to the faith in Ephesus and by one tradition was one of the seventy disciples sent out by Jesus two-by-two. Not only was he helpful to Paul at Ephesus, but traveled to Rome and tracked him down in prison in order to visit. 

Onesiporus was martyred for the Christian faith.

May his witness to Christ and his fidelity to Paul even when it was unpopular be an inspiration for us all today.

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

6a0120a4f88a1c970b01bb09bb8ec8970d-500wiSt. Aidan was the second missionary called up to evangelize the lands of Northumbria. The first wasn't martyred or imprisoned, his methods were not working. St. Aidan, though he was pious and austere personally, was pastorally inviting.

St. Aidan's efforts met with unqualified success. His mission took birth from the Isle of Iona in a community founded by one of our Window Saints, St. Columkille (Columba). In Northumbria, Aidan eventually founded a community at Lindisfarne

Both communities of monks produced beautiful illustrated manuscripts - the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels respectively.

There is usually more than one way to accomplish anything, St. Aidan is proof of that. Nor should we take someone else's failure as a prediction of our own efforts. Aidan kept the focus on his love for Jesus and the gospel. His love and compassion for those to whom he ministered flowed from that.





St. Fiacre

By Vassil (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Saint Fiacre would  have preferred to live a life of solitude as a monk. He even left Ireland for France to find it, but his reputation for efficacious healing prayer and his growing of medicinal herbs preceeded him and people flocked to him wherever he went.

We've become so conditioned to have negative associations with the word "drugs" - their abuse, their expense, their side effects, that we may forget the abundance of healing chemicals and substances found in nature alone. Most of today's drugs are either found in nature or synthesized to resemble and improve upon naturally healing compounds.

Let us thank God for the healing gifts of nature and for St. Fiacre's insight that the best combination is prayer and healing compounds.

Watch With Jesus For One Hour Every Thursday Night 6:00 - 7:00 PM

Gethsemane at Night

One of the traditions surrounding Thursday evening Holy Hours was that they were a watch with Jesus on Holy Thursday evening in the Garden of Gethsemane. They come as a direct invitation from Jesus to wait with Him in the Garden.

We are expanding our once monthly Thursday evening devotions to every Thursday 6:00 - 7:00 PM.

There are no group prayers, official hymns or ceremony. Come for all or any part of the hour and watch with Him.


St. Augustine

Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Saint Augustine's restless search for truth and love ended when he found Christ. 

Putting aside those modern interpreters who view Augustine as overly prudish or harsh, his writings are filled with love of Christ and an emphasis on the anticipated joys of heavenly beauty.

His passion for Christ and His Church burned even on his deathbed as the gates of Hippo were besieged by barbarians.

Perhaps his most famous quote is also his best:

Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O God.

St. Louis IX of France, Holy Cross Window Saint

St. King Louis IX of France was to all accounts a man of exemplary piety and sincere faith. He led two Crusades to regain control of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem and died of illness during the second. He promoted the ecclesial reforms of the Dominicans and Franciscans. Whether or not he actually became a Franciscan tertiary is not certain, but it was for his support of the Franciscan Order that our window was originally installed in the Church of St. Francis in Philadelphia.

He is shown garbed in a robe with the royal symbol, fleur-de-lis and his earthly crown, holding not a scepter of power or an orb, but the Cross of Christ.



Saint Bartholomew, Apostle and Martyr


statue of St. Bartholomew
Statue of St. Bartholomew in St. John Lateran

With the same irony that names St. Bartholomew patron saint of tanners, the Church selects a reading from St. John's gospel, the only gospel which does not use the name Bartholomew to celebrate his feast day.  Philip, paired with Bartholomew in the three synoptic gospels, is paired with Nathaniel in John's gospel. Hence one of the reasons some scholars posit Nathaniel and Bartholomew as the same person.


One of the traditions concerning Bartholomew is that he was martyred by being skinned or flayed alive. This was the favorite depiction in art since the Renaissance and he is often shown holding the knife by which he was flayed in one hand and his own skin in the other. You may recall that historians speculate that the face on the flayed skin St. Bartholomew holds in Michelangelo's Last Judgment is actually a self-portrait by the artist.

Today we can celebrate Bartholomew's intellectual curiosity to explore the truth, his gift of faith to apprehend it when he met Jesus, and his zeal and enthusiasm to have this faith change not only his life but the life of the world. How sorely we need a thirst for truth in today's society where truth has been cynically discarded for "my story." So many have either despaired that there really is any truth, or have given up even looking for it.  Rational discourse has been replaced by dramatic, interpretive monologue.

Let us ask for the energy and courage St. Bartholomew had to spread the message that Christ is the "Way, the Truth and the Life."


Justice or Mercy

PicketToday's gospel reminds us that we do not have a lock on God's loving concern or a veto over God's lavish giving.

A covenant is not simply a contract. For one thing, it is unbreakable - not rendered void by the action of one party. This is an important teaching not only for couples about to marry in the Church, but something for us to consider whenever we're led into anger or resentment because of God's forgiveness or mercy towards others.

The vineyard owner's question to the laborers "Are you envious because I am generous?" is a good one for us too.


Eclipse of Faith?

For a moment today, the sun will be darkened by planetary motions which scientists can predict even if not fully understand.

Shutterstock_475042897Faith in things unseen is a fundamental principle of the Christian view of the world. Religious faith is more complicated than having faith that the sun is still there even when we can’t see it. It’s a belief in things that cannot be seen or measured, but are nevertheless real – a spiritual world exists too. We can know enough about this realm using our human reason alone to agree on a public morality which should allow us to live in mutual respect and peace.

Through Divine Revelation, we believe that higher truth has been revealed through the Scripture and Sacred Tradition of the Church, enabling us to profess our faith in the Nicene Creed we pray every week at Mass.

Saints and spiritual writers encourage us to keep the faith during times of personal faith eclipse – times in our lives when God may seem absent and our spirits dark. When such feelings persist, St. John of the Cross called them the “Dark Night of the Soul.” We learn much about God and move into closer union with God, not by fleeing the dark night, but by learning to find God in the dark. Faith that God is near, even when we can’t see.

St. Pius X and Holy Communion

HolyCommunionPope St. Pius X promoted both frequent, even daily, reception of Holy Communion for adults and ensured that the practice of the Church was to welcome children to First Communion and First Penance when they had reached the age of reason, age seven.

They need not have a perfect understanding of Holy Eucharist, but merely an understanding that the Eucharistic Bread is different from ordinary bread and to receive it with a degree of piety and reverence appropriate for their age. 

The Pope called the reception of Holy Communion the "surest, easiest, shortest way" to heaven.