Preaching

St. Junipero Serra

Serra

The location of the grave of Junipero Serra is discovered, now enclosed within a mission shrine in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. It is seen being honored several days after Serra was canonized by the Catholic Church by Pope Francis in 2015.

One of Junipero's slogans, "Always forward, never back," emphasizes his missionary zeal to spread the gospel. 

 


Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred-heartA monumental sculpture of the Sacred Heart surmounts the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Tibidabo, Spain atop a mountain overlooking Barcelona. Jesus' love for us extends to the whole world in self-sacrificing generosity, a model of perfect love.

Can we spare some time with the Sacred Heart in prayer this day to acknowledge his great gifts to us?


St. Cyril of Alexandria

CyrilAs you can see from the sculpture, Cyril brooked no compromise with Nestorius or his views on the nature of Jesus Christ. Although the sculpture suggests it, Cyril did not actually kill Nestorius but the Council of Ephesus affirmed the truth that Mary is properly called the Mother of God and condemned Nestorianism. The Nestorians disputed that Mary, a human, could properly be called the Mother of God, only Mother of Jesus' humanity since it was not inextricably linked to his divinity. In fact, the Council of Chalcedon would later declare that the divinity and humanity of Christ are united indivisibly. 

 


Nativity of St. John the Baptist

JohnSt. John the Baptist certainly did point The Way, to the Lamb of God, serving a crucial hinge between the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Today the church celebrates his birth with a solemnity. I like this sculpture which shows his seriousness of purpose and his classic gesture of pointing the way to Christ. 

 


The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Today as we pray about the mystical Body of Christ and His Real Presence among us and in the Eucharist, let us consider the spiritual and corporal blessings of human organ donation. The presence of a living portion of us abiding in another and giving them life and health is a spiritual consolation only living organ donors can savor, but a spiritual reality all Catholics who ponder the meaning of Jesus' salvific dwelling with us can appreciate.

Blood and blood components, bone marrow, kidney and in some cases portions of liver can be donated to those in need of them. For some of these donations the risk to the healthy donor is minimal, for others more significant. 

After death, many vital organs can be useful and life saving for others. Tissue donation, however,  is a bit more complicated and to some extent has become overly commercialized, in my opinion, for example by cosmetic companies who manufacture human based material. Donors may use to explore the use to which their tissues may be put. 

Permission for vital organ donation in the case of traumatic death is available for licensed drivers. Health care proxies and advanced directives can also specify organ donations of various kinds.

Sacred-heart


St. Aloysius Gonzaga

St. Aloysius' youthful zeal for spreading the gospel and his yearning to be closer to God are good examples for the tepid spirituality of many modern Christians. His courageous care for plague victims lead to his own death despite care from his superiors to shield him from the most infectious cases. Even his spiritual director  advised him to not be so strict with his fasting and other ascetic practices. We can still imitate his dedication and effort without following him in exact detail. 

GonzagaIt looks like the elements have taken their toll on the lily he holds.


And Lead Us Not Into Temptation

AppleToday's gospel reading of the Lord's Prayer recalls the words our Savior gave us. Recent discussions swirling around the translations of the Our Father from Greek to other languages have been highlighted by the decision of the French and Italian bishops' conferences to amend the French and Italian translations of the ending of the prayer.

The controversy involves not only the best literal translation from Greek to each language, but the proper idiomatic expressions to use in each language to convey the meaning. 

Pope Francis has been outspoken in support of changing language which can be misunderstood to mean God tempts us to failure but instead does in all in his power to aid our salvation. 

Several arguments for change and against change have been made. The English speaking bishops of the world and the US bishops will take up the matter at a future date.

 


St. Romuald

Shutterstock_618441725Saint Romuald was a hermit at heart who developed a style of living for monks who sought more solitude than typically afforded by the existing monastic communities.

A unique blend of "living alone with others," his Camaldolese monasteries are composed of monks living in individual, small "rooms" gathered around a communal chapel and refectory. 

Unlike the "cells" in other monasteries, they are not typically located under one roof as, for example, a dormitory, but each has its own small garden enclosed from the others. 

The monks take meals on solemn feasts together, but otherwise eat alone, coming into contact with other monks during the course of any assigned work they share in common. 

They are a potent sign of a needed balance between solitude and community for our own culture and for individual Catholics pursuing a closer prayer relationship with God. 


Lex Talionis Is No Laughing Matter

Talon

Here are the talons of an American Eagle, powerful enough to crush a human arm and latch closed in place without any further effort. The lex talionis was the law of the talon, the law of revenge which crushed enemies in vengeful acts of retaliation.

Jesus gives us the law of love in this morning's gospel. Instead of crushing revenge, an outstretched hand of mercy and reconciliation. 

Shutterstock_41333929


St. Methodius of Constantinople

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St. Methodius (different than the Methodius who shares a feast with St. Cyril) was a patriarch of Constantinople who sided against the iconoclasts and so is among the many who fought to continue to adorn places of worship with sacred art and icons. 

In later centuries, some Protestant reformers adopted positions similar to the iconoclasts of old, banning or severely limiting the use of sacred icons or art in churches. Islam and Judaism also prohibit the use of icons and images in worship. 

The Catholic church, deeply sacramental in nature, has embraced the proper use of sacred images and icons as a means of fostering our communion with God and the power of the intercession of the saints.

 


St. Anthony of Padua

StA modern facial reconstruction of St. Anthony based on his skull.

While he is certainly not the image on generations of holy cards and carved in so many statues, the artist has certainly captured a joyful and peacefully spiritual countenance. This is perhaps fitting for a saint who has enjoyed such popularity among the faithful.


St. Norbert

StnorbertHand carved statue of St. Norbert from St. Norbert Abbey in Wisconsin

St. Norbert as a young man sought ecclesiastical office for personal gain and enrichment. A conversion experience gave him, as today's opening collect said "the heart of Jesus Christ" and he began to work tirelessly to reform the clergy and sanctify the church.

May St. Norbert's spirit give all of us, especially our bishops and pope, the heart of Jesus Christ today.


St. Boniface

BONIFACESt. Boniface would not be accused of political correctness today, since as part of his apostolic mission to European pagans he chopped down the Tree of Thor, a sacred object of worship by the pagans.

His courage and zeal for spreading the faith without equivocation led to his ambush and martyrdom by a hostile crowd. Stories and legends about his life are a good balance to the doublespeak of public discourse these days.

 


Ascension Thursday Mass

Today's Mass of the Ascension was celebrated with Holy Cross School students and parishioners attending together. It was the last mass of the school year where all the students will have been present, since graduations of Kindergarten and Eight Grade begin soon.

In fact, it was the last mass of Holy Cross School, since the school will change its designation to an Academy in the fall semester. 

This sculpture on the ceiling of the Ascension Chapel in Our Lady of Walsingham in England (via Fr. Tim Finigan's blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity) takes the interpretation of the Ascension quite literally! We prayerfully rely on Christ's continued presence in the Church, especially His Sacraments and the guidance of the The Holy Spirit to foster the faith in our parish and school for many generations to come.

Ascension


Apostles Meet To Discuss Disputes Between Gentile and Jewish Followers of Jesus

Untitled-1The readings from Acts of the Apostles at morning Mass have been highlighting the difficulty the early church had in reconciling Jewish Law with the reception of Gentile converts as believers of Jesus, followers of the The Way. Did Gentiles need to convert to Judaism or was Jesus seen as replacing the Jewish commandments with his two commandments of love?

The early church reached a compromise, releasing Gentile converts from the necessity of circumcision and most of the Jewish dietary proscriptions, but retaining a prohibition against eating meat sacrificed to idols. Most scholars agree that it took still longer for faithful Jews and baptized Christians to diverge into completely separate religious groups.