Friday, January 31, 2014

Papal Intentions for February 2014

Papal Intentions for February 2014

Universal Intention: That the Church and society may respect the wisdom and experience of older people.

Mission IntentionThat priests, religious, and lay people may work together with generosity for evangelization.

and while you're at it...

Prayer for the Pope!!!

V. Let us pray for Francis, our Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him life, 
and make him blessed upon the earth, 
and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

Our Father... Hail Mary...

O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Francis, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. 
Through Christ our Lord. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

HWP: Holy Name of Jesus

The month of January is traditionally known as the month of the Holy Name of Jesus, particularly because the feast of the Holy Name, according to the Extraordinary Form calendar, is the first Sunday of this month. The devotion to the Holy Name, particularly encouraged by St. Bernardine of Siena, is powerful as we know that at His Holy Name, every knee must bend on heaven, earth, and under the earth. So for the last HWP this month we offer a prayer by St. Bernardine in honor of the Holy Name:
Jesus, Name full of glory, grace, love and strength! You are the refuge of those who repent, our banner of warfare in this life, the medicine of souls, the comfort of those who morn, the delight of those who believe, the light of those who preach the true faith, the wages of those who toil, the healing of the sick. To You our devotion aspires; by You our prayers are received; we delight in contemplating You. O Name of Jesus, You are the glory of all the saints for eternity. Amen.
Learn more about the Devotion to the Holy Name and the Holy Name Society HERE.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Christian Unity?

Sts. Peter & Paul
Readings for Sunday, January 26/ Third Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Isaiah 8:23-9:3
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
Matthew 4:12-23

How are we building up the Body of Christ? Or more personally, how you and how am I building up the Body of Christ?

Toward the end of John’s Gospel we hear the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus in which He prays that we all may be one as He and the Father are one. The perfect union of mind and will that the Father and Son share is what Christ truly desires for each one of us. In fact, the whole mission of Jesus Christ on Earth was of a unitive nature.  When He took on flesh to save us, it was by drawing us into union with Himself as individuals and as a community that that union would be then drawn up into eternity. This is what we hear in the first reading from Isaiah today as the people in darkness have seen a great light. They have wandered looking for something to guide them and the light that is Christ has appeared to them and they are drawn to Him. In the Gospel we hear that this calling of all people to Himself is not done just by generic calling of crowds but by the specific calling of each person to come and follow after Him. Everything Jesus did was with the ultimate goal of uniting broken humanity to Himself and perfecting that union in the glory of Heavenly life.

While we recognize that unitive nature of Christ’s mission to humanity, we also recognize that we often fail to live that unity out in our own lives. It’s nothing new though, as if there was a ‘golden age’ of Christianity in the past and we’ve fallen away from it. Quite the opposite. Paul’s letter to the community in Corinth shows us that shortly after his departure from them rivalries began to spring up and the Christian community was divided among itself instead of being united. And similar things happen in our own day. So the question again for each of us to reflect upon today is how am I building up the Body of Christ? How am I building up the Church?

In reflecting on this question, it seems to me that there are three levels of union to which each of us are called to labor in the Church: personal union, universal union, and local union.

Let us begin with personal union. Are we letting ourselves be truly united to Jesus Christ? It is often the case – and I point fingers nowhere other than myself – that we have good intentions that we fall short of living out. We agree that we should avoid sin, and yet we often cling to our sins and form defenses of them. How many times have we said, ‘That’s just my personality.’, ‘That’s how God made me.’, or some similar line that excuses us from actually working to root sinful inclinations out of our lives? Additionally, are we allowing ourselves the time to encounter Christ and be united to Him? The world around us tries to keep us so busy that we don’t have time for the Lord. Are we letting ourselves be united to Christ?

The second level is that of the universal union with Christ. There is a temptation often in the world today to say that if a person is Baptist that’s okay, if they’re non-denominational, that okay, if they Methodist, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist or anything else under the sun, it’s okay – all roads lead to Heaven, right? That view is called religious indifferentism and it is condemned by the Church. Christ didn’t come to us and offer His life on the Cross in order for us to keep following whatever path we feel like. He called us to Himself and to the Church He set up to continue the salvation of souls, and that Church is the Catholic Church. There is a fine balance here between being too soft and too hard on people, but we should be actively encouraging people to become Catholic. After all, if we are who we claim to be, if we are the One True Church founded by Jesus Christ, the Church with the Eucharist, Confession and the other sacraments, the Church which wrote and discerned the holy book we know as the Bible, and are the pillar and defender of the Truth, as the Scriptures say, then why wouldn’t we want others to join us? And while we are at it, let us invite our fallen away Catholics to come home. I don’t need my glasses to see that we have a number of empty seats in Mass today. We have around 2800 families between our three parishes here and if you think that each is at least 2-3 people, then we should be looking at 5-10 thousand people at Mass every weekend and we are certainly far from that mark. Think about how difficult it would be for us if half of our body completely quit working and how much stress and difficulty that would add to the side that is functioning normally. That’s what is happening in the Church here and throughout the whole world. Many in the Body of Christ have simply fallen away and we who remain struggle to press forward still. The crazy thing is that we do more good than any other organization in the whole world. How much more good work could we accomplish if the whole body worked together?

The third level is that of local union. In the Corinthian community there were divisions among the people because they belonged to Paul or Cephas or Apollos, or the perpetual trump card – Jesus Himself. This kind of thing can easily happen in the local church as well with parishes not being open to one another and even being hostile. While we should have a certain pride in being from a particular parish and have a sense of family in that community, it should never be such that we approach things in a manner that implies a sense of superiority because we belong to a particular parish. When we begin to set ourselves against other Catholic Churches in the area. And the same goes for the individual community. When we see a brother or sister in Christ and speak a word of judgment, gossip, negativity, or rejection against them, then we damage the Body of Christ.

There is one person alone who rejoices in such divisions and that is Satan. Christ came to bring life and unity and the devil seeks to bring about death to each of us by separating us from one another. This is his only hope because he knows that as a whole body we are stronger than anything he can throw our way, but if he is able to divide us and separate us from each other and from Christ then we easily fall into his traps. May God grant us the grace today to be instruments of His peace and unity, that drawing closer to Christ ourselves we might be able to work for and enjoy the gift of unity in our Church now and for ever.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

HWP: Prayer for Life

Today, January 22nd, is the 41st Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in our country. Since then, over 55,000,000 of the most vulnerable people among us have been slain in the name of choice rather than cherished as the gift they are. Let us offer today this prayer from the Roman Missal from the Mass in Thanksgiving for Human Life:

God our Creator, we give thanks to you, who alone have the power to impart the breath of life as you form each of us in our mother's womb; grant, we pray, that we, whom you have made stewards of creation, may remain faithful to this sacred trust and constant in safeguarding the dignity of every human life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 
In addition to the prayer, you are invited to join by also offering up some physical mortification (fasting, abstaining, etc.) as an additional sacrifice on behalf of the sins committed and that hearts might be changed to end this evil and heal the wounds it has inflicted upon our nation and world.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Octaves, Novenas, and Pilgrimage, Oh My!

Hello everyone! Tomorrow morning we shall have nine buses of youth from our diocese heading north to attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C. I ask your prayers for our safe travel, for conversion of hearts among our group, and conversion of hearts for the people of our nation, especially those who enact laws, that we might be a people who thirst for God. Additionally, there are some big opportunities for an outpouring of grace in this coming week. 

Beginning on Saturday, January 18, we will celebrate the Octave of Christian Unity (which gains a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions) as well as the 'Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage' Campaign by the USCCB. These prayers and mortifications are sure to bring many souls to Christ and to win much merit for us in offering them.

For the Octave of Unity

Each day of the Octave the prayer 'Omnipotens Deus' is offered for the particular intention of the day.

January 18: For the return of the "other sheep" to the One Fold of our Lord Jesus Christ.
January 19: For the return of the Eastern Orthodox Christians to communion with the Apostolic See. January 20: For the return of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.
January 21: For the return of all Protestants throughout the world to the unity of the Catholic Church.
January 22: That Christians in America may be one, in union with the Chair of Saint Peter.
January 23: That lapsed Catholics will return to the Sacraments of the Church.
January 24: That the Jewish people will be converted to the Catholic Faith.
January 25: That missionary zeal will conquer the world for Christ.

Pray: + That they may all be one, as Thou, Father, in me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me. I say to thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.

Let us pray. Almighty and merciful God, who wished to gather the scattered nations into one people through your Son, grant that those who glory in the name of Christians may put aside division and become one in truth and charity, and that all men may be illumined by the true faith and brought together into the fraternal communion of one Church. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage

Each day there are selected readings, prayers for reflection, and invitations to offer penances. As they are rather extensive, I figured simply linking to them would be better. Click HERE to download a copy of the novena in PDF format, download the phone app, receive prayers by email or receive prayers by text message. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

HWP: Temptations

This Friday is the feast of St. Anthony of the Desert (ca. 269-374), a man of remarkable holiness who is often referred to as the 'Father of the Monks' and whose wisdom is as sought after today as it was 1500 years ago. In his 105 years on Earth, he impart much of that wisdom, but two things in particular strike. To Abba Poemen he once said, "This is the great work of a man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath." Acknowledging that we can expect temptations from today until the day the good Lord calls us home, we offer today in St. Anthony's honor:

A Prayer in Time of Temptation
Almighty and most Merciful God, graciously hearken unto our prayers; and free our hearts from the temptations of evil thoughts; that we may worthily become a fit habitation for Thy Holy Spirit.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Proud Father

Baptism of the Lord by Joachim Patenier
Readings for Sunday, January 12/ Baptism of the Lord:
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalm 29:1-4, 9-10
Acts 10:34-38
Matthew 3:13-17

Three and a half years ago at my diaconate ordination, I made a promise to God and the Church that I would live a life of celibate chastity, forsaking the good of married life and children. That promise, though, didn’t mean that I wasn’t called to be a father. In the heart of every man there is a calling to be a father and in the heart of every women there is a calling to be a mother. So while I may not be a father to a few biological children, I am a spiritual father to far more than a few. The title ‘Father’ isn’t just a nicety or to make me feel better about myself. It’s a daily reminder of who I am called to be to every person who speaks that title: a Father. I didn’t understand this reality of my spiritual paternity until after several months of my priestly ministry. It was in the midst of a youth group meeting that I spoke about going home and being the only one in the family without children and, before I could even finish my sentence, one of the youth responded, “Father, you have us!” Since that time I’ve thought much more concretely of my paternity, and necessarily so, of ‘my kids.’

One of my kids graduated from college a few weeks back and was blessed to get a job at Catholic Charities in Baton Rouge. I celebrated Mass for the CatholicLife TV station this past Thursday and her office is right around the corner from where I was so I stopped in for a bit and she showed me around her office, introduced me to some of her co-workers, and talked with me about some of the jobs she’ll be working on. It was such a joy to see how well she was doing and caused me to reflect on how she had grown as a young woman and as a daughter of God in the two short years that I’ve known her. Later that evening I sent her a little text message saying that I enjoyed visiting her at her office that day and that I was happy to see how well she was doing and would continue to do. A few minutes later she responded with a few words that have been resonating in my mind ever since then. She said, “Every now and then a daughter needs to hear her father is proud.”

This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, that great mystery wherein the One who is perfect receives the baptismal washing for repentance. It wasn’t because He needed but because we needed it. The whole event shows us that reality. When John immersed the Lord in the water, rather than the water cleansing Christ, Christ cleansed the water to make it fitting for the sacrament of baptism. Rather that the ritual be effective on Christ, Christ made the ritual washing effective for us. The Heavens were opened not so that Jesus could know God but that we could come to know Him. He received the Spirit so that in time we could receive the Spirit. Christ heard those blessed words, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” not so much for Himself but for us. And not just to that we could know that Christ is pleasing to the Father but that we are too.

All of us are sinners and we all fall short. We know our major faults and failures, our imperfections and those little sins that have bothered us for years. A few years back I was on retreat and I was talking with my director and going down a list of those faults and failures in my own life. I went down the litany saying, “I should do this….I should do that… I should not do this… I should not do that…” and in the middle of my litany the director looked at me and said, “Brent, stop shoulding all over yourself! It’s getting messy in here!” I was stunned when she said it, but what she reminded me of in that moment is that sometimes we take on expectations either from ourselves or others, usually with a good intention, and we allow so many of those faults and failures to weigh us down. We let the weight of not being perfect take away from the many good things that we have done and are doing in which the Father is well pleased. In a life where we are called to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, we can easily forget the fact that we are still loved even though we may fall short. Let us rejoice in the love that God has for us today and pause to reflect upon the many ways that He is pleased with us and be encouraged to press forward in light of that rather than in fear of failure. Because sometimes, we just need to know that our Father is proud.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

HWP: Prompt Succor

Our Lady is known to us under a whole variety of names and titles to indicate the universality of her maternity. Here in Louisiana she is well-known under the title of 'Our Lady of Prompt Succor'  and since we have been miraculously spared from fire and storms on account of her intercession, we honor her as patroness of the State of Louisiana. Today, January 8, is the feast of Our Lady of Prompt Succor and in the province of New Orleans it is a solemn feast day! Let us have recourse to Our Lady who is quick to respond to the cries of her children in need:

Collect for the Mass from the Solemnity of 
Our Lady of Prompt Succor
Grant, we beseech you, Lord God, that we who have been favored by the prompt succor of the Virgin Mother of your divine Son in war, in disasters, in epidemics and illness, may continue to merit her protection by fidelity to your word and to your law. We ask this through the same Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen. 
Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Time Wasted Well

Readings for Sunday, January 5/ Epiphany Sunday:

Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-2,7-8,10-13
Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6
Matthew 2:1-12

The other night Fr. Vincent (the pastor) and I were talking about the feast of the Epiphany and the readings this weekend and between us we came up with around two dozen different homily ideas about the gifts, the Magi, Herod, and a whole list of aspects, but what has been resonating most in my heart was the star, on account of an article I read about Dr. Frederick Larson, who managed to take a computer program and chart out what the sky would have looked like 2000 years ago right around the time Jesus would have been born. What he found was interesting and I’d like to take a few moments to share it.

He noticed, looking from the east of Jerusalem where the Magi would have been, Jupiter, the brightest planet in the sky, moved back and forth in the sky in an elliptical motion that like a crown. This crown was directly above a star known as ‘Regulus’ or ‘King’. A king was being crowned. Interesting.

That ‘crowning of a king’ took place within the constellation ‘Leo’ or ‘The Lion’ and, as we heard in the scriptures tonight, the Messiah, was predicted to come from the tribe of Judah, which was illustrated as a Lion. This was widely known in Jewish culture, but the surrounding peoples also knew it since Jerusalem was a major city between Africa, Europe, and Asia where other cultures would interact with the Jewish people. So now there’s a king being crowned and it is taking place in Leo. Fascinating… but there’s more.

As we know from our astrological signs these days, the sign that follows Leo is Virgo, the Virgin. But this wasn’t just the ordinary appearance of Virgo. This time, at the feet of the Virgo constellation was a crescent moon, knowing in the culture of the day as the ‘birthing moon.’ So in addition to the ‘King’ being crowned in the Leo constellation we now have a birth in connection to a Virgin. All of these things make perfect sense to us, but at the time they were having to put all of this together to try to grasp the meaning. When they did, the immediately hopped on their camels and rode toward Jerusalem to greet the new king. This is where we picked up in the Gospel today, with the Magi going before King Herod inquiring where the newborn king was so they could do him homage. When they finally learn that the child was to be born in Bethlehem they prepare to head out.

Going back to Dr. Larson’s work, though, we also find something very interesting taking place. Fast-forwarding some months we see that Jupiter is not longer crowning Regulus but is now intersecting with the planet Venus, so the brightness of the two planets was then magnified to form an even brighter light in the sky which the Magi would never have seen before! And because the star was moving in the sky and they were moving as well in geographical location, the bright star seemed to stop in the sky. And from the perspective in Jerusalem, guess where it stopped directly above – Bethlehem. Just like it said in the Gospel. 

That seems absolutely incredible to me to think that all of those things were used so that the Magi would find Christ. God made the stars and planets, set them in motion, arranged for all of those things to happen as they did so that the Magi would be able to read the signs of the times and encounter God in the flesh. It shows the extreme love that God has for the Magi, and the reality is that He has the same love for each and every one of us. Who knows what great lengths God has gone to in making it possible for each of us to come to know Him in our lives today, to have encountered Him when we did for the first time and to continue that encounter daily.

To aid us in benefitting from the encounter and sometimes being able to have it in the first place, there are three things that the Magi can teach us to do better: waste time well, study, and follow.

I can waste time on anything under the sun. I have no shortage of things fighting for my attention, but the thing is to waste time well. Think about how much time we spent with our family and friends in recent weeks celebrating the holidays. Countless dinners, parties, visits, and simple gatherings where we just sat with loved ones and talked or watched Christmas movies and football games together. How much of that was really ‘productive time’ in the sense we normally think of it? When we’re enjoying a good gumbo with friends are we really able to say we’ve checked things off of our ‘to do’ list? No. It’s wasted time in a sense, unproductive time. And yet it was incredibly valuable time wasted because we strengthened our relationships or built new ones. And just the same with our relationship with the Lord. Many saints and holy people have spoken of prayer as time ‘wasted’ with God. It’s not productive. We’re not getting a list of things completed, but we are growing in faith, hope, and love. The Magi wasted a ton of time simply star-gazing, watching how things love around at night. For months and years they simply stared into the heavens. It wasn’t all for nothing, though. It led them to God. Are we willing to set aside time in order to simply waste it on the Lord? Are we willing to encounter Him?

The second thing the Magi can teach us is to study. They had to spend many hours grasping the movements of the heavenly bodies, surely much recourse to mapping the skies was had, and they had to have a working knowledge of these many things going on all at once so they could make sense of the signs they saw. Are we willing to study for the Lord? If they hadn’t studied the skies, they would have done exactly what Herod did and what most of us do: look up at the sky, remark about how pretty it is, look for a bit and then move on. They would have missed the signs that led them to God. There are so many things these days that can help us to grow in our faith and to understand the ways that God is speaking to us throughout our days and how to respond better. There are books and magazines, tv stations, online videos, blogs, and news sources galore to learn about our faith and to learn about the things of the world that can permit us to draw closer to God. We can stay at the surface level or we can commit to even just a small bit of reading and really deeper our understanding, love and appreciation for our faith in God and God Himself. The choice is ours. Are we willing to study and find God more easily?

The last thing is following. It’s hard to follow because that means we give up control. I know that in a very real way as a priest. You know that priests make several promises at their ordination to the priesthood and diaconate ordinations. At diaconate I made the promise of permanent celibate chastity and the commitment to praying the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church recited throughout the day. At priesthood I made the promise to imitate the mysteries that I celebrated and daily conform my life to Christ. All of those things I promised once. Guess what you have to promise twice – obedience! You have to make the promise at diaconate and again at priesthood ordination. It’s tough to follow when we want to lead. The Magi saw the signs in the sky and they simply left to follow after it. They didn’t know what they would find or how things would pan out in the end. They followed the invitation of God. Are we willing to do the same? Often the Lord invites us to things – to a particular act of charity towards another, to service in the Church or community, to a deepening of prayer and a call to set aside something to grow in holiness. Are we willing to follow or do we seek to excuse ourselves. There’s always an excuse, always a reason why I shouldn’t so this or that which the Lord may be inviting me to. But there is one reason why I should do it: Jesus Christ wants it. Are we willing to follow Christ or have we chosen our own way?

May God grant us the wisdom to see the many ways He speaks to us, that we may rejoice in those gifts and seeks to increase their number by our openness to waste time well, to study, and to follow always the Light that is Christ Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Circumcision, Adoption, and Us

Readings for Sunday, January 1/ Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God:
Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:16-21

“When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

All of us go through life and experience different things and those things – our baggage, in a sense – color the way we understand and interact with the situations, places, and people we encounter later in life. My own life experience greatly changes the way that I pray with the passage I just quoted from St. Paul because I was actually adopted shortly after my birth. To contemplate receiving ‘adoption as sons’ isn’t some lofty thought for me, but is strikingly concrete. I think of the decisions parents have to make about when, how, and if they should tell the child about their adoption. I think about the struggle to understand what it means to be adopted. I think about the occasional ‘out of place’ feeling that still makes it’s way into my heart and the frustration of having to say “I don’t know” to my family history on medical forms. That’s how I approach this simple sentence of the story of being brought into the family of God. It’s tough sometimes, it can be a bit messy, and it doesn’t happen without planning, preparation, and a price tag.

This past weekend I took a little road trip up to Ohio to visit my family up there and met up with my cousin Britt. He and his wife are working on adopting a child into their family and he was telling me all of the plans, preparation, and prices to make that a reality. It turns out that a family has to have $12,000 before they can even start the process because of legal fees and all sorts of hoops that one must jump through to be able to adopt. But the truth, my brothers and sisters, is that when Jesus Christ took on our flesh and came among us as a child, the price was much higher than $12,000.

God had the plan drawn up from all creation. He knew when He created Adam & Eve that they would fall and that they and their descendents would need a savior. He knew everything that would happen in all of time before time even began. He knew that you would be there tonight in the spot you are with the people you’re with and even the color of shirt you’d choose to wear. He’s God. He doesn’t predetermine things where we lose our freedom, but He does know all that will happen. And so He set out His plan and began to bring it to fulfillment. Those of you who attended the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve heard the Gospel of Matthew wherein he gave the genealogy of Jesus… ‘Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, and so on down to Jesus’. Through the Old Testament we can look to the many ways that God was preparing His people for what was to come; how the crossing of the Red Sea prepared the way for baptism, how the Manna in the desert prepared the way for the Eucharist, and how the prophets all spoke of the Christ who was to come. All of those things God was preparing for our adoption. And then the day came to make it happen, to pay the price and make us adopted sons and daughters of a heavenly Father.

The Circumcision from the Workshop of Giovanni Bellini
This first day of the New Year, the Octave of Christmas, in the Ordinary Form of the Mass (the Mass of Vatican II) we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. This title of Our Lady emphasizes the fact that she indeed bore God in her own womb and gave birth to the Word Made Flesh. But in the Extraordinary Form Mass (the Mass prior to Vatican II/Traditional Latin Mass), this feast is that of the Circumcision of the Lord. This is so because in the Jewish tradition, on the eighth day after birth every male child would be circumcised and given their name as a sign of being brought into the family of God, the people of Israel. Interestingly enough, we Christians also have a circumcision that we must undergo to be brought into the family of God. But rather than a circumcision of the flesh, it is one of the heart. In baptism, we are brought before the Lord and by the blessed waters, original sin is cut from our hearts and we are joined to the Church, the Body of Christ, the family of God. And there, too, we are given our name in the Lord. That’s why the first line of the baptism ritual even today is ‘What name have you given your child?’ All of us have been circumcised in our hearts, brought into the family of God and made sons and daughters of the Father. But the truth is that we must continue to undergo a circumcision of our hearts to be able to rejoice in the riches of the kingdom. There are still sins that each of us cling to in this life, things that we have joined ourselves to that pull us away from God and try to take us out of the family. Things that the devil tries to use to make us think we don’t belong here. And the Lord invites us today to let Him come to us once again and cut those things away, to set aside the old and rejoice in the new. Christ paid a heavy price for our adoption as sons a daughters  - that of His own life and blood. Are we really willing to do the same for Him?

I realize I’m saying this and some of you are probably thinking, ‘Wow, Father, we were all joyful at the start of a New Year and came looking for a nice pick-me-up homily to cap off the Christmas octave but you’re being sort of a downer today.’ I recognize that. But think about this as well. When Jesus came among us He didn’t come in a nice little nativity scene like we have in the sanctuary. He was born in a cave, where the animals were kept, and He was laid in a manger, a feeding trough. I may be a city boy, but I have been to enough farms and barns to know that animals don’t smell nice and they aren’t neat freaks. They can be pretty disgusting at times, and yet that’s the place where Jesus comes. It’s not pretty, but it’s reality. Also, think about the fact that on December 25 we celebrate Christmas, the birthday of Jesus, the King of Peace! Then on the 26th, St. Stephen the Martyr. On the 27th, St. John the Apostle, the only one of the 12 Apostles not martyred. On the 28th, the Holy Innocents, that army of youths slain in attempts to kill the Christ child. On the 29th, St. Thomas Becket, who was martyred for the faith in England. Are you sensing a trend?! The King of Peace comes indeed, but the message is clear: the peace is not necessarily of this world but of the world to come. Should we strive to attain peace in this life? Absolutely! Should we be surprised if we don’t receive it like we want? No. That’s the journey of this life, the purifying fire, if you will. That’s one reason that I wear the particular vestments that I do. You have likely noticed that at almost every Mass I wear this extra vestment on my left arm. It’s called a maniple. It is a handkerchief and, since the priest’s hands were touching the Body of Christ, it was tied around the left arm so that when he needed to wipe off his face from the sweat of the work of celebrating Mass, he could do so without using his hands. After years it became an official vestment of the priest and the prayer that accompanies it when vesting speaks of it in reference to the ‘tears and sorrows’ of this life. Living the faith isn’t easily. But the word of consolation is this: Christ has taken on our flesh and was brought into the family of God on Earth so that we might be adopted into the family of God in Heaven. We are sons and daughters of a heavenly Father whose love knows no bounds, and that love promises that we his children are not just sons and daughters but also heirs of the Kingdom.

HWP: Veni, Creator Spiritus

Happy New Year! Today the world celebrates New Year's Day and the Church celebrate the Solemn Feast of the Mary, Mother of God, as well as the Circumcision of the Lord (in the Extraordinary Form calendar). There is a long tradition of praying that the Spirit of God would be with us as we begin the year, particularly by using the Veni, Creator Spiritus, a hymn dating back to the 8th Century. Additionally, when this hymn is prayed along with the usual conditions, a plenary indulgence is gained. How cool is that?! So without further ado (in Latin & English):

Veni, Creator Spiritus,
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia
quae tu creasti pectora.

Qui diceris Paraclitus,
altissima donum Dei,
fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
et spiritalis unctio.

Tu, septiformis munere,
digitus paternae dexterae,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
sermone ditans guttura.

Accende lumen sensibus:
infunde amorem cordibus:
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.

Hostem repellas longius,
pacemque dones protinus:
ductore sic te praevio
vitemus omne noxium.

Per te sciamus da Patrem,
noscamus atque Filium;
Teque utrisque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
et Filio, qui a mortuis
surrexit, ac Paraclito,
in saeculorum saecula.



Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God's hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o'erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.

Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven.