St. John Chrysostom

Chrysostemos_FrederikskirkenWhat a perfect day for the first Mass of the new school year with all our students of Holy Cross Academy!

Thanks to all our students, faculty and parishioners for singing what has become a kind of de facto parish song, Lift High the Cross, especially a cappella. Even though you all sang so well, we are thankful that our new Music Director will arrive on Monday.

St. John Chrysostom was famous not only for his holiness, but his truthfulness and at the same time for his "golden mouth." 

Quite something for all of us to consider as we begin the school year - that we should have "golden mouths" and that like another famous preacher of the period, we should have "honey speech."

That means not taking God's name in vain on the playground or in the classroom and not calling names or saything things meant to hurt people or their reputations. In the modern age, that also has to include the same rules for all our social media accounts, all our tweets, instagrams, facebook posts, emails ---every way we give our words and speech electronic wings!



Harmful Speech

Noun_speech_1202St. Paul reminds us today's scriptures about the powerful and potentially harmful effects of speech.

Blasphemous language using God's name or the name of Jesus Christ in vain is the most evil, but words which do others harm, whether true or not true, are also powerfully hurtful and not to be spoken.

What was good for the Colossians is also good for us!

St. Nicholas of Tolentine

NicholasoftolentinoNicholas was named for the rather more famous Saint Nicholas of Myra (Saint Nick) when his parents prayed at St. Nicholas' shrine to conceive and bear son after years of infertility.

He developed a reputation for sanctity and miraculous healing through his intercessory prayer, especially for infants and the souls in purgatory.

His feastday is a good reminder to pray for the deceased and the sick. Our prayers can have efficacy through the same power as St. Nicholas of Tolentine, our Loving Savior.


St. Kieran

St. Kieran is one of the Twelve Ap0stles of Ireland and one of the Holy Cross Window Saints. He is famed for founding the monastery at Clonmacnoise, which survived the Norse Invasions, but was eventually destroyed by the armies of Henry VII during the suppression of the monasteries. 

Kieran died only 7 months after the founding of the monastery by the River Shannon, but it became a center of learning and scholarship, a beacon of wisdom, for long after his death.


Sometimes You Can't Patch The Old

130314_drawcol04743Jesus was preaching the first "new evangelization" and people weren't listening unless they saw immediate, concrete benefits - multiple miraculous healings, or free lunches provided for all.

He warned folks against being comfortable with old beliefs or habits which had gotten them into ruts and rejecting his message.

Do we have the courage to break out of the ways of the world and walk the Way of the Cross with Him?


A Talent is No Talent 'til You Use It

Bell“A bell's not a bell 'til you ring it 

A song's not a song 'til you sing it 

Love in your heart wasn't put there to stay 

Love isn't love 'til you give it away!”

These lyrics penned by Oscar Hammerstein sound a lot like Jesus' parable of the talents in this morning's gospel. 

How sad when people don't use their God given talents fully because of fear, selfishness, sloth or criticism from others. The best use of our talents is in some manner which benefits others and for Catholics, a use which builds up the church, supports fellow parishioners, serves the poor and praises God. Using our talents for the benefit of God and others frees us from self-consciousness about our shortcomings and false pride about our skills. 

I had a Xaverian brother for one of my religion classes in high school who used to tell us all the time, "Don't Keep the Faith, Spread the Faith." "Keep the Faith, man" had become a popular catch phrase at the time. Brother Fabius was right!


St. Fiacre

St. Fiacre is the patron saint of gardeners and it's great that our summer gardens are putting on a final burst of color before fall arrives. The parking shrubbery is covered with fragrant, white blossoms of clematis and the yellow cosmos are blooming (and seeding!), while the re-blooming roses are providing a final goodbye of color and fragrance.

The photo of St. Fiacre's garden comes from and shows Fiacre's oratory and stone hermitage in the background. 

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

JohnThere are many, many paintings of St. John's beheading and even of his severed, bloody head. I chose one which avoids the gruesome imagery, sometimes painted as a tour de force by the artist to display his skills in depicting blood, horror or violence. I trust these images already reside in your imagination.

Instead, his sanctity and courage shine forth in this painting, even though his powerlessness in the face of vengeance, hatred and jealousy is also on full display.

The opening prayer of today's mass praises John as not only having preceded him as his herald but preceding him in death as well. St. John the Baptist, a martyr for truth and righteousness, pray for us.

St. Augustine

AugustineSt. Augustine exercised a great influence not only on the early church, but on the development of church theology down through the centuries.

He is pictured by Fra Angelico at the moment of his remorseful conversion back to the faith of his youth. 

His thinking in three was instrumental in beginning modern theological discourse about the Trinity, an interior spirituality and personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ. 

He once remarked that God in his omnipotence could not give more, in His wisdom he knew not how to give more, in His riches He had not more to give, than the Eucharist.

Our modern spirituality can prosper if we get back to basics, especially a reverence and love for the Eucharist.


Saint Monica is a saint for our times. She herself likely struggled with drinking to excess and persistently prayed and witnessed Christ's love both to  her pagan husband, who converted on his deathbed, and her son Augustine, whose return to the faith is one of the most consequential and well-known in history.

Her persistence in prayer and intercession before God and man is a model of faithfulness and love. 

St. Miriam of Jesus Crucified

St. Miriam of Jesus Crucified

Sr. Miriam was canonized in 2015 by Pope Francis. Her whole life testifies to the reality of the supernatural realm; she enjoyed close relationships with Jesus and especially the Holy Spirit from an early age. 

Not only did her personal life display signs of piety such as stigmata, prophecy, ecstasy, even levitation, but she showed an openness to the Holy Spirit unusual especially for the pre-Vatican II church. The promptings of the Holy Spirit urged her not only to become a nun, but to eventually found monasteries in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. She died from a wound she incurred while carrying water to workmen at the monastery's construction site in Jerusalem. 



Untitled-1Ruth did not abandon her mother -in-law Naomi,  even when she had the opportunity to do so.

Tragedy had visited the family. Naomi had lost her  husband, and then her two married sons. Their wives, Ruth and Orpah, were non-Jews and could have remained in their native land. Ruth accompanied Naomi instead, returning with her to the land of the Israelites.

She eventually married Boaz, a Jew and gave birth to Obed, who gave birth to Jesse who gave birth to David. Thus was she included as an example of faithfulness in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Queenship of Mary

Today's feast day has been linked from Pre-Vatican II times with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a devotion which we saw was initially popularized by St. John Eudes and then by St. Margaret Mary.

As with all Marian feasts, it points to a truth about the relationship between Mary and Jesus and the nature of the Incarnation itself. Having settled the controversy in the early church about whether Mary could properly be called the "Mother of God" or only Mother of Christ human nature, it is a logical and prayerful consequence to attribute Queenship to her since she is truly the Mother of the King of the Universe. While we may no longer think in metaphors about royalty as did previous generations of Catholics, celebrating Mary's queenship conveys an important truth about the Incarnation and the dogma of the Assumption. 

I chose this image of Mary, since it explicitly includes her maternity of Christ as the source of her exaltation.


St. Pope Pius X

PiusPius X was one of the first popes to be canonized in the modern age, which is partly responsible for so many churches, schools and Catholic institutions being named in his honor. 

He is known as the Pope of Holy Communion not only because he advocated the frequent reception of the Eucharist, but also lowered the age of First Holy Communion from 12 - 14 years of age to 7 or 8 years of age. 

This has rearranged the traditional order of the Sacraments of Initiation from Baptism-Confirmation-Communion to Baptism-Communion-Confirmation. 

Whenever we receive Eucharist we do so with limited understanding of so great a gift and mystery, but should always do so with the utmost reverence and love.


St. John Eudes

JeanEudesVatSt. John Eudes was a founder of the French School of Spirituality which advocated a strong, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, an important role for Mary as the mother who permitted his entry into the world and a deep, interior prayer life. He founded an association of diocesan priests who live as vowed religious and promote vocations to the priesthood and the formation of priestly candidates. They also preach missions and teach at the college level. 

St. John is perhaps best known for his promotion of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We do not think it is odd to see images of Jesus' and Mary's disembodied hearts, but these images presented no small obstacle to the spread of the devotion.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us!


Twentieth Sunday Ordinary Time

This Soup Is Tepid !

I once overhead a couple who were disgruntled over the temperature of their recently served soup call the waiter over in exasperation. "This soup is tepid," exclaimed one of the diners. "Why thank you," replied the waiter. This unleashed an angry vocabulary lesson on the hapless young waiter even worse than the cold soup.

Tepid, lukewarm disciples are the kind Jesus has said he will spit out. Many famous writers and philosophers have named the greatest sin of their age "indifference."  It discerns neither good nor evil. In fact, we have seen how often it either permits or even commits evil by simply encouraging people to go along.

Jesus isn't intent on fist fights breaking out at the dinner table or in the church parking lot, but he is intent on lighting the world with his truth and his love. The gospel should inflame us with passion. How would you like for someone to describe your faith like the complaining soup customers, as tepid? Wouldn't passionate, faithful, dedicated Catholic be better.

Passion motivates behavior. How many times at funerals do we learn that someone's passion was a hobby or a seashore location or their boat? Some of our most important passions should be fueled by a love of Christ. A mass I attend without fail, that I honor God in speech without fail, that I pray without fail, that I support charities in the name of Christ without fail. 

Let us heed the words of Christ and not be tepid, let's burn!



St. Roch

RochYes, who would have thought it, there is a patron saint of dogs and it's not St. Francis. St. Roch, a former nobleman who abandoned his riches for a life of poverty and pilgrimage on the road, began to pray for those whom he met afflicted with the plague. Many were cured and his fame spread. So unfortunately did the disease which he himself contracted, isolating himself in a forest to await his inevitable death. Instead a dog began visiting and bringing him food stolen from his master's table to sustain St. Roch. When the dog began licking St. Roch's sores, they were healed.

He is usually shown in the garb of a pilgrim (the shells, the staff and the drinking water gourd), displaying the pitiful sores of the plague in his groin and on his thigh with the dog as his side. The dog either lies at his feet, licks his wounds or provides bread. The saint was invoked as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in time of plague and death.


St. Maximilian Kolbe

KolbeSt. Maximilian Kolbe was a zealous missionary who travelled around the world to spread the gospel, establishing missions not only in his native Poland, but Japan and India as well.

He had begun a thriving publishing venture both in Japan and in Poland in addition to his pastoral and spiritual work. These publications criticized the Nazis and marked him for imprisonment when the Nazis invaded Poland.

While he was interred in Auschwitz, he minister to his fellow prisoners and when ten randomly chosen prisoners were set apart for execution in retaliation for an escaped inmate, Kolbe volunteered to take the place of one of the victims.

For this and his life of holiness, he was canonized as a "Martyr of Charity," the first in the church's history so designated. 

He is shown in a statue on Westminster Cathedral holding a book in which he points to the double crowns of purity and martyrdom which Our Lady had shown to him in a vision.


St. John Berchman


Main Altar Frieze at St. John Berchman Cathedral, Shreveport, LA

One of the saints on the feast of the calendar today is St. John Berchman, a Belgian Jesuit scholastic who died in his twenties while studying in Rome of the "Roman fever," possibly malaria. His life was remarkable for its simple holiness and his striving for perfection, without being susceptible to some of the overly scrupulous behavior we sometimes see in young saints. The frieze depicts his Last Holy Communion, or Viaticum, shortly after which he died.


Annotation-2019-08-13-094928A chapel was erected and eventually a cathedral over the site where an American postulant nun, Mary Wilson, was cured by an apparition of John Berchman on her sickbed.  In December, 2016 the full relic of his heart was brought from Belgium to Shreveport to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the apparition - the final miracle required for his canonization. 


St. John Berchman is patron saint of altar servers, since he himself served masses as soon as was old enough, with zeal and piety.