Wednesday, March 25, 2015

HWP: Angelus

Today we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would bear the Son of God. This angelic salutation is at the heart of our faith and for this reason has been formalized in the prayer of the Church throughout the centuries. One particular way is the Angelus, traditionally prayed daily at 6am, 12noon and 6pm. This prayer has been used by the laity to join in prayer with priests and religious who pray the psalms at certain times throughout the day. Let us honor our Lord and our Lady as we pray this week's HWP:

The Angelus
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary... 
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: 
Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
Hail Mary . . .

And the Word was made Flesh: 
(genuflect) And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary . . .

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, 
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

HWP: Memorare to St. Joseph

Tomorrow we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. This man of faith and foster-father of the our Lord continues to pray for us and lead us in the pathway of Heaven. Let us continue to entrust ourselves to his paternal care as we pray the HWP for this week:

The Memorare to St. Joseph
Remember, O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored your help and sought your intercession were left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power I fly unto you and beg your protection. Despise not O Guardian of the Redeemer my humble supplication, but in your bounty, hear and answer me. Amen.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Radio Silence

Hello, friend in the Lord. Any regular readers may have noticed my failure to post last weekend's homily. If so, you'll also notice my failure to post this week's homily as well. The cause is the hectic nature of the season mixed with my preparations for pilgrimage to Rome (leaving this morning) resulting in inability to devote time to composing what was preached. Sorry if you had hoped to hear/read these homilies. A heads up as well: I will not be posting homilies for the next two weekends as I'll be traveling next weekend and will have a deacon preaching the weekend after that. So it apparently looks like I'm giving up homily-blogging for the rest of Lent! Do know of my prayers for you while traveling and please pray for me and my companions as well. St. Christopher, pray for us!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

HWP: 40 Holy Martyrs

Yesterday was the feast of the 40 Holy Martyrs, sometimes knows as the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste. These martyrs numbered 40 Roman soldiers who converted to the Christian faith in the 4th Century when persecution of Christians was still widespread. In response, the 40 were exposed naked in the dead of winter and set on a frozen-over pond in the nearby town of Sebaste. One the shore was placed a warm bath for any who would renounce the faith. The 40 stood strong for hours until one the group and went for the warm water. Jumping in the warm water, his body went into shock and he died on the spot. This sight, coupled with a heavenly vision of the 39 being crowned with heavenly gifts brought one of the watchmen on the shore to immediate conversion and he stripped himself of his garments and joined the 39 on the ice, bringing the number back to 40. After many hours, the men were taken and burned, most of them still being alive, and their ashes tossed into a river. They have been honored since the late 4th Century and continue to be a witness to faith in the midst of so many trials, as well as the power that witnessing to faith has in bringing others to know Christ Jesus. With this in mind, we pray for our Half-Way Prayer this week the words spoken by the martyrs themselves:

The Prayer of the 40 Holy Martyrs
You can have our armor and even our bodies, 
but our hearts’ allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Papal Intentions for March 2015

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. 

Papal Intentions for March 2015

Universal Intention: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Mission Intention: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tunnel Vision

Readings for Sunday, March 1/ 2nd Sunday of Lent:
Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18
Psalm 116:10, 15-19
Romans 8:31-34
Mark 9:2-10

Last weekend we began a three-week reflection on Pope Francis’ Lenten Message for this year, which focuses particularly on the aspect of indifference or coldness in our hearts. Looking through the lens of baptism, we saw how our being brought into the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, interconnects us with every other baptized individual in the world and as such we have certain obligations to pray for them in their time of need and they for us in ours. The second point of the Pope’s message is that the reality of our ties with the larger community also applies to the local community.

When we were baptized, in addition to being made members of the Body of Christ, we each received special gifts of the Holy Spirit. When we were first created by God He gave every single one of us particular gifts and talents to profit ourselves and to be used in service of the larger community. He desired certain of us to be teachers, musicians, artists, workers of the land, and so on, giving each of us those gifts. But in baptism we received the life of God that helps to make those things even more fruitful and adds supernatural power to what was already there. When we think of this, we often call to mind the invitation to be involved in the Church parish – to help with the Mass, with ministries, catechism, and the many other parts of parish life. While we indeed should be putting our gifts to use in the parish, Pope Francis is inviting us to recognize to take some time to look outside the visible Church.

In the Gospel we hear St. Peter happily exclaiming, “Lord, it is good that we are here! Let us build three tents – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah!” in response to the glorious vision of the transfigured Christ. It makes sense, really. Who among us wouldn’t be thrilled by such a vision that we wouldn’t want to set up camp and stay there for a good while? And that’s exactly the point. When Christ is transfigured, it is an experience that is so beautiful that St. Peter wants to stay there and not go back down the mountain because what awaits them down there is the Cross. It’s hard days, sleepless nights, little food, lots of walking, and difficult teachings. Simply put, the transfigured glory of Christ is a place of incredible comfort and this is why it doesn’t last very long for the disciples.

Earlier this week I went to a prayer breakfast and when I arrived I recognized the St. Ann’s parishioners present but as I looked around I saw a number of other faces that were unknown to me. They were the faces of the pastors of the other local religious communities. It struck me that I’ve been here for 8 months and yet I’ve never laid eyes on most of them. Why? Because I was focused on things here at St. Ann’s. I don’t see it as a great fault of mine, being as I’m trying to learn the parish and know you the parishioners, but it did raise my mind to the need to branch out a bit and connect with other ministers in the community. And that’s what we’re being invited to do in this time by Pope Francis: to branch out and see something, someone, new. This is admittedly difficult because we like our patterns. When I worked the morning shift as a cashier at my parents’ grocery store, I would line up cigarette packs on the counter in order: 2 packs Marlboro red, 2 packs Marlboro light, a pack of Kools, etc. The reason was that the customers were so predictable that I knew exactly what order they would arrive in the mornings, what they were going to buy, and how much it would cost. We like our patterns and can easily get tunnel vision on the things that interest us or affect us most directly. But when we do this we sometimes miss the exact person or circumstance through which God wants to speak to us.

This week Pope Francis is inviting us to look outside the comfortable place of the church walls around us and to seek God’s face in a new way and to serve Him in a new person. First, he says, we must look to the Church in Heaven, the Church Triumphant who have already finished the race and won their eternal crown. We look to them and ask for their prayers for us to be able to run our race well as they have already. And then we must look to the world around us. Think of it as a divine game of Where’s Waldo, as we go through our days looking to serve someone we might normally pass by, pray with someone we might normally leave to themselves, or share faith with someone who isn’t Catholic or isn’t practicing. It’s a matter of seeking in our hearts and asking ourselves where we have tunnel vision. Who are we looking past? Where is the Christ in our midst that we haven’t found yet? Where is the Lord in need, waiting for us to provide?

I want to conclude today with a poem by G.A. Studdert Kennedy that speaks directly to this point of Pope Francis, loving Christ in our midst. It’s entitled ‘Indifference’:

When Jesus came to Golgatha,
They hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands 
and feet, And made a Calvary.
They crowned Him with a crown of 
thorns, Red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days,
And human flesh was cheap !

When Jesus came to Birmingham,
They simply passed Him by,
They never hurt a hair of Him,
They only let Him die;
For men have grown more tender,
And they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street,
And left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, "Forgive them,
For they know not what they do!"
And still it rained the winter rain
That drenched Him through and through;
The crowd went home and left the streets, Without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall
And cried for Calvary.