23 July 2014

St. Sharbel Makhluf


St. Sharbel Makhluf is a Maronite saint, a member of the ancient Eastern Catholic Church of Antioch.  It was in Antioch that Christ's followers were first called Christians, and St. Peter ministered there before going to Rome.  The Maronites have their own liturgy and discipline, and have always been in full communion with the See of Peter.  They take their name from St. Maron, a fifth century monk and patriarch of Antioch.

St. Sharbel lived in the 19th century and was a priest-hermit who was known for his great holiness, whose spiritual advice was sought by countless people.  When he died, his tomb became a place of pilgrimage for Christians and non-Christians alike.


O Almighty God, who hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of thy servant St. Sharbel Makhluf, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through thy mercy, we may with him attain to thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

22 July 2014

St. Bridget of Sweden


St. Bridget was born in Sweden of noble and pious parents, and led a most holy life. While she was yet unborn, her mother was saved from shipwreck for her sake. At ten years of age, Bridget heard a sermon on the Passion of our Lord; and the next night she saw Jesus on the cross, covered with fresh blood, and speaking to her about his Passion. Thenceforward meditation on that subject affected her to such a degree, that she could never think of our Lord's sufferings without tears.

She was given in marriage to Ulfo prince of Nericia; and won him, by example and persuasion, to a life of piety. She devoted herself with maternal love to the education of her children. She was most zealous in serving the poor, especially the sick; and set apart a house for their reception, where she would often wash and kiss their feet. Together with her husband, she went on pilgrimage to Compostella, to visit the tomb of the apostle St. James. On their return journey, Ulfo fell dangerously ill at Arras; but St. Dionysius, appearing to Bridget at night, foretold the restoration of her husband's health, and other future events.

Ulfo became a Cistercian monk, but died soon afterwards. Whereupon Bridget, having heard the voice of Christ calling her in a dream, embraced a more austere manner of life. Many secrets were then revealed to her by God. She founded the monastery of Vadstena under the rule of our Savior, which was given her by our Lord himself. At his command, she went to Rome, where she kindled the love of God in very many hearts. She made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; but on her return to Rome she was attacked by fever, and suffered severely from sickness during a whole year. On the day she had foretold, she passed to heaven, laden with merits. Her body was translated to her monastery of Vadstena; and becoming illustrious for miracles, she was enrolled among the saints by Boniface IX.

- Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

Almighty God, by whose grace thy servant St. Bridget of Sweden recognized and honoured Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the Name and for the sake of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

21 July 2014

St. Mary Magdalene


St. Mary Magdalene -- a woman of mystery!  Was she one and the same as Mary of Bethany?  Had she been an immoral woman in her past life, or simply a woman from Magdala who was delivered from evil spirits?  Whatever the case, we know she stood with the Blessed Mother and St. John at the foot of the cross; we know she was the first witness of the risen Lord Jesus Christ; and it was St. Mary Magdalene who ran to tell the apostles this Good News. Pope St. Gregory writes about it:


When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and did not find the Lord’s body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: The disciples went back home, and it adds: but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb.

We should reflect on Mary’s attitude and the great love she felt for Christ; for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept; burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tells us: Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.

At first she sought but did not find, but when she persevered it happened that she found what she was looking for. When our desires are not satisfied, they grow stronger, and becoming stronger they take hold of their object. Holy desires likewise grow with anticipation, and if they do not grow they are not really desires. Anyone who succeeds in attaining the truth has burned with such a great love. As David says: My soul has thirsted for the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God? And so also in the Song of Songs the Church says: I was wounded by love; and again: My soul is melted with love.

Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek? She is asked why she is sorrowing so that her desire might be strengthened; for when she mentions whom she is seeking, her love is kindled all the more ardently.

Jesus says to her: Mary. Jesus is not recognized when he calls her “woman”; so he calls her by name, as though he were saying: Recognize me as I recognize you; for I do not know you as I know others; I know you as yourself. And so Mary, once addressed by name, recognizes who is speaking. She immediately calls him rabboni, that is to say, teacher, because the one whom she sought outwardly was the one who inwardly taught her to keep on searching.


Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored St. Mary Magdalene to health of body and mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by thy grace we may be healed of all our infirmities and know thee in the power of his endless life; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

It's God's Kingdom, not ours...

Here's the sermon for Trinity V, the 16th Sunday, 20 July 2014.

"Lantern of the Lothians"

One of the truly beautiful hymn tunes in the Church’s treasury is David Evans’ “Lucerna Laudoniae.” The name of the tune means “Lantern of the Lothians,” which was a Franciscan monastery at Haddington, East Lothian in Scotland. The monastery was destroyed in 1355, but in the fifteenth-century a church was built on the site – and it is now immortalized by this simple and dignified hymn tune.

There are several texts which have made use of the tune, perhaps the most famous being “For the beauty of the earth.” Some years ago I wrote the following words specifically for the tune, and we sang this hymn yesterday at Mass after Holy Communion, reflecting the words of Christ from the Gospel for the day, "He who has ears, let him hear."

Jesus Christ, our Saviour King,
unto thee thy people sing;
hear the prayers we humbly make,
hear them for thy mercy’s sake.
Lord Jesus Christ, O Lamb Divine,
fill our souls, and make us thine.

Give us eyes that we may see;
give us hearts to worship thee;
give us ears that we may hear;
in thy love, Lord, draw us near.
Lord Jesus Christ, O Lamb Divine,
fill our souls and make us thine.

In our darkness, shed thy light;
lift us to thy heav’nly height;
may we be thy dwelling-place,
tabernacles of thy grace.
Lord Jesus Christ, O Lamb Divine,
fill our souls and make us thine.

In thy Kingdom grant us rest,
in Jerusalem the blest;
with the saints our lips shall sing,
with the angels echoing:
Lord Jesus Christ, O Lamb Divine,
thou dost reign, and we are thine!


Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips (1990)
Music: “Lucerna Laudoniae”
David Evans (1874-1948)

20 July 2014

Remembering the early years...

Where the Church of Our Lady of the Atonement now stands was once covered with thick underbrush and trees.  Every year I like to take a look back so that those of us who were around in the early years can remember, and those who were not yet here can learn something of the history of our parish family.

Here are some pictures of the groundbreaking for the church, which took place on 9 July 1985, the Feast of Our Lady of the Atonement, with founding members Colonel and Mrs. Robert Joseph turning over the first shovel of earth.  Actually, we were not able to break the ground exactly where the church would stand, but we were a short distance from where the altar would be, because the land was so densely overgrown.


As we cleared the land, the building site began to take shape, and we could see where the original part of the church would be constructed.


Although the land looked level, it wasn't; therefore, it was necessary to raise the ground level on the east end.  I'm standing exactly where the High Altar is now.


"Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it..."

St. Lawrence of Brindisi


Born on 22 July 1559, and dying on 22 July 1619, St. Lawrence of Brindisi lived exactly sixty years. In that time he became a brilliant scholar, a devout and holy priest, a renowned linguist, an outstanding diplomat – and for many of those years he served as the Minister General of the Franciscan Order of Capuchins.

His writings fill fifteen volumes, and his knowledge of Hebrew allowed him to preach so effectively to the Jewish people in Italy that the rabbis were certain that Lawrence must have been a Jew who had become a Christian. His skills in dealing with people meant that he served as a papal emissary to many countries, but he never forgot that he was first and foremost a priest.

O Lord God, who art the light of the minds that know thee, the life of the souls that love thee, and the strength of the hearts that serve thee: Help us, following the example of thy servant St. Lawrence of Brindisi, so to know thee that we may truly love thee, and so to love thee that we may fully serve thee, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Receiving a beautiful name...


I remember that day in 1983 when I was summoned to the archbishop’s office. Now, getting a call from one's archbishop is not something priests especially look forward to – but this time was the exception. Word had been received from Rome; the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, after lengthy prayer, had made the decision to give his permission for my ordination, and the archbishop called me in to give me that wonderful news, and to set the date. I went to what was the old chancery office, where Archbishop Flores and I set the dates: August 7th was the day when I would be made Deacon; August 15th to be ordained as Priest. And then he said, “We’ll be formally erecting the parish on August 15th, too. Have you thought about what it will be named?"

Actually, I had thought about it, and I’d prayed about it, and I was a little hesitant about suggesting it, because there wasn’t another parish in the whole country dedicated under the name I was hoping for. The little group of us (eighteen people altogether, counting the children) who would comprise the founding families of this parish knew we wanted a title associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary – and there was only one name that would be suitable, as far as we were concerned. It’s a title of Mary which originated in Anglicanism – the same origin to which all of us who were founding the parish traced our spiritual roots.

The Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, who had formed the Society of the Atonement in the Episcopal Church, entered into full Catholic communion in 1909, and brought with them the title of the Blessed Virgin Mary which had become so dear to them. And now it was our turn – so with a tentative tone, I asked the archbishop, “Could we be dedicated to Our Lady of the Atonement?” The look on his face told me that he wasn’t familiar with the title, but his immediate answer was, “Yes.”

I just knew it would be – after all, I was there, making the request on July 8th, the eve of the Feast of that title. And that’s how we came to be dedicated to the Lady with the red mantle, who holds in her arms the Divine Infant, who in turn holds out to us His cross.  Our Lady of the Atonement was now, truly, our Mother.

St. Apollinaris of Ravenna


St. Apollinaris travelled to Rome with St. Peter, who ordained him and sent him to Ravenna to preach the Gospel there.  Apollinaris was beaten mercilessly by the local pagan priests, and driven from the city.  He continued to suffer terrible tortures as he continued to spread the Faith, but he remained faithful to Christ, giving his life as a martyr.

Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy martyr St. Apollinaris triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant to us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Basilica of St. Apollinaris in Ravenna, 6th century.

18 July 2014

Our Lady, Mother of the Atonement

Our Lady of the Atonement, cradling her Crucified Son.
Statue located in the Parish Church of
Our Lady of the Atonement, San Antonio, Texas

Saturdays throughout the year are especially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and unless the liturgical calendar directs otherwise, traditionally we celebrate a Votive Mass of Our Lady. For us in this parish, we most love her title of Our Lady of the Atonement. Since the time our Lord Jesus walked this earth as the God-Man, there have been, over the centuries, numerous titles which have arisen to give honor to his most holy Mother. From the early centuries of the Church, she was known as Theotokos, or God-bearer, and as time passed, the Blessed Virgin Mary was honored with many other titles. Some of these titles are more widely known than others, but all convey a distinct attribute of Mary as a person who has found favor with God. Some titles describe her state of life, such as Our Lady of Grace. Others denote a location where she may have spoken spiritually to an individual, such as Our Lady of Walsingham. In some of her titles, she is associated with the redeeming work of her Son, and there are many such examples of this. But perhaps no other title in the world better describes the fullness of Mary's relationship with her Son as does the title of Our Lady of the Atonement.

The title embraces two mysteries of our faith: first, the atonement -- the wonderful at-one-ment which was achieved by our Lord Jesus Christ as He shed His Most Precious Blood upon the Cross at Calvary, through which came the reconciliation of man with God, and of man with man, making us "at one" in His Sacred Heart; and second, the role which Our Lady has in the atonement wrought by God -- her coöperation with the Divine Will at the annunciation, and her participation in her Son's sufferings and death as she stood at the foot of the Cross. These words which Simeon spoke to her came to pass: "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." The crowning act of Redeeming Love -- the Atonement upon the Cross of Jesus Christ -- is for all of us the means whereby mankind finds salvation. Here Jesus gave us the greatest gift: His precious life. Here he gave us His Blessed Mother. Here Mary stood, and here we stand next to her, at the foot of the Cross. We are children of The Atonement and the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, is Our Lady who bears witness to Christ's Atonement.

17 July 2014

St. Camillus de Lellis


St. Camillus is the patron saint of hospitals, hospital workers and those who are sick. Here is his story, excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, by Pius Parsch.

St. Camillus' mother was nearly sixty years old when he was born in 1550. As a youth he gave himself to the sinful pleasures of this world. His conversion dates from the feast of the Purification, 1575. Two attempts to enter the Capuchin Order were frustrated by an incurable sore on his leg. In Rome St. Camillus was received in a hospital for incurables; before long he was put in charge because of his ability and zeal for virtue. He brought to the sick every imaginable kind of spiritual and bodily aid.

At the age of thirty-two he began studying for Holy Orders and was not ashamed of being numbered with children. After ordination to the holy priesthood he founded a congregation of Regular Clerics, the "Ministers to the Sick." As a fourth vow the community assumed the duty of caring for the plague-ridden at the risk of their lives. With invincible patience Camillus persevered day and night in the service of the sick, performing the meanest of duties. His love shone forth most brightly when the city of Rome was stricken by epidemic and famine, and when the plague raged at Nola. Having suffered five different maladies, which he called God's mercy, he died in Rome at the age of sixty-five. On his lips was the prayer for the dying: "May the face of Christ Jesus shine gloriously upon you." Pope Leo XIII declared him the heavenly patron of hospitals and added his name in the litany for the dying.

O Almighty God, who hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of thy servant St. Camillus, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through thy mercy, we may with him attain to thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

16 July 2014

The Rood Screen

The word "rood" comes from the Saxon word "rode," which means "cross". The rood screen is so called because it is a screen surmounted by the Rood -- a large figure of the crucified Christ -- and it separates the sanctuary from the nave of the church.  The rood screen at Our Lady of the Atonement Church is a major architectural feature of the interior, with the central arch providing a frame for the tabernacle and altar.  The pictures below begin with our rood screen, followed by pictures of other screens (many of which are medieval in origin).

Our Lady of the Atonement Church, San Antonio, Texas
(Another view, below)


Our Lady of the Atonement Rood Screen
(above, decorated for Easter)

St. Brinius, Dorcester-on-Thames, near Oxford

All Saints Church, Turkdean, Gloucestershire

Calvary Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh

All Saints Church, Litcham, Norfolk
(The Rood was destroyed at the time of the Protestant Reformation)

The Minster, Boscastle, Cornwall
(This is a Rood Beam, instead of a full screen)

15 July 2014

Our Lady of Mount Carmel


O God, who didst adorn the Order of Mount Carmel with the especial title of thy most blessed Mother the Ever-Virgin Mary: mercifully grant; that as we do this day remember her in our solemn observance, so by the help of her succor we may be found worthy to attain to everlasting felicity; who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Flower of Carmel, vine blossom laden,
Joy of heaven, who yet a maiden,
Bore God's Holy One.
Gentlest Mother, who never man did know,
On Carmel's children your privilege bestow,
Star of Ocean.

Root of Jesse, flower in the cradling bud,
Take us to you, keep us with you in God,
His together.
All chaste lily, rising despite the thorn,
Strengthen, help us, so feeble and forlorn,
Great Protectress!

Be our armor, valiant for Christ when war
Rages round us, hold high the Scapular,
Strong and saving.
In our stumbling, guide us on God's wise way,
In our sorrow, comfort us when we pray;
Rich your mercy.

Holy Lady, Carmel's great Friend and Queen,
Feast your people from your own bliss, the unseen
Grace, God's goodness.
Key and Gateway, opening on Paradise,
Mother, win us a place with you in Christ
Crowned in glory.


Elijah's Cave atop Mt. Carmel, where we have offered Mass while on pilgrimage.

Sermon on our Patronal Solemnity

14 July 2014

St. Bonaventure

It was said of St. Bonaventure (1221-1274) that he was "...a unique personality. He was unsurpassed in sanctity, wisdom, eloquence, and gifted with a remarkable skill of accomplishing things, a heart full of love, a winning disposition, benevolent, affable, pious, charitable, rich in virtue, beloved by God and man. . . . The Lord endowed him with such a charming disposition that everyone who saw him was immediately attracted to him."

Considered to be a "second founder" of the Franciscans, he was an outstanding teacher, and a spell-binding preacher.  He was known for his virtue and wisdom.  He is known as the "Seraphic Teacher" because of his deeply mystical understanding of the Faith.

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O Lord God, who art the light of the minds that know thee, the life of the souls that love thee, and the strength of the hearts that serve thee: Help us, following the example of thy servant St. Bonaventure, so to know thee that we may truly love thee, and so to love thee that we may fully serve thee, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer of St. Bonaventure.

Pierce, O most sweet Lord Jesus, my inmost soul with the most joyous and healthful wound of Thy love, and with true, calm and most holy apostolic charity, that my soul may ever languish and melt with entire love and longing for Thee, may yearn for Thee and for thy courts, may long to be dissolved and to be with Thee.

Grant that my soul may hunger after Thee, the Bread of Angels, the refreshment of holy souls, our daily and super substantial bread, having all sweetness and savor and every delightful taste.

May my heart ever hunger after and feed upon Thee, Whom the angels desire to look upon, and may my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of Thy savor; may it ever thirst for Thee, the fountain of life, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the fullness of the house of God; may it ever compass Thee, seek Thee, find Thee, run to Thee, come up to Thee, meditate on Thee, speak of Thee, and do all for the praise and glory of Thy name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with ease and affection, with perseverance to the end; and be Thou alone ever my hope, my entire confidence, my riches, my delight, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, my food, my refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion, my possession, my treasure; in Whom may my mind and my heart be ever fixed and firm and rooted immovably. Amen.

13 July 2014

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

One of the earliest portraits of St. Kateri
by Fr. Claude Chauchetiere, S.J. (ca. 1696)

St. Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 near the town of Auriesville, New York, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was baptized by Jesuit missionary Fr. Jacques de Lambertville on Easter of 1676 at the age of twenty. She devoted her life to prayer, penitential practices, and the care of the sick and aged in Caughnawaga near Montreal (where her relics are now enshrined). She incurred the hostility of her tribe because of her faith. She was devoted to the Eucharist, and to Jesus Crucified, and was called the "Lily of the Mohawks." She died in 1680.

O Almighty God, who hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of thy servant Blessed Kateri, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through thy mercy, we may with her attain to thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

12 July 2014

Consecration to Our Lady


Each year on our Patronal Solemnity, we consecrate ourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary using this form:

O ever Immaculate Virgin, Our Lady of the Atonement; Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Spouse of God the Holy Ghost: we consecrate ourselves anew to thy service and to that of thy Divine Son. We beseech thee to enlighten our minds and inflame our hearts; to obtain for us a deep faith, a strong hope and a burning love; that through sanctifying grace, the source of our reconciliation with God, we may live the life of the Gospel as we have promised; that we may use the things of this world as though we used them not; that the great Atonement of thy Son upon the Cross may be more and more fruitful in our souls. We beseech thee to look ever more graciously upon the Church, which thy Son has founded, and upon His Vicar on earth, our Holy Father. Obtain light and strength for him in his many endeavors for the glory of God. We beseech thee to be gracious to our Parish which invokes thee under the title of Our Lady of the Atonement. May it be ever pleasing to God and to thee. May it ever work for the glory of Christ and the salvation of mankind. May it grow and prosper. May it ever seek first the kingdom of God and His justice. May each and every member be fruitful in every good work and pleasing in all things to the Heart of thy Son. Lastly, we beseech thee to obtain for all men the grace of a true and lasting conversion to God; that the prayer of thy Divine Son may be the sooner fulfilled: “That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” Amen.

11 July 2014

St. Benedict of Nursia

Shrine of St. Benedict
Our Lady of the Atonement Church
Benedict was born about the year 480 in Nursia, Italy. His family was most likely of noble lineage, which afforded him the opportunity go to Rome, where he received his education. By the time of Benedict’s arrival there, Rome had entered into serious moral and political decay. Because the corruption around him so disturbed him, Benedict broke off his studies and withdrew from Rome to enter into a solitary life of prayer.

For three years Benedict remained by himself, living in a cave, seeking to grow closer to God through a life of prayer and fasting. His reputation as being a holy person grew, leading people to seek him out for spiritual guidance.

In the year 529, after having lived for many years as a monk, Benedict established a monastic foundation where men, who wanted to live the Christian life in common, could come together to draw closer to God. This new community found its home on a hill near Cassino in Italy, and so came to be known as Monte Cassino. After Benedict established his community, he wrote a Rule which was to be followed by the monks in their daily lives. Benedict guided the community as its spiritual father (abba), or “abbot,” until his death around the year 547. His feast day is kept on July 11.

Almighty and Everlasting God, whose precepts are the wisdom of a loving Father: Give us grace, following the teaching and example of thy servant St. Benedict, to walk with loving and willing hearts in the school of the Lord’s service; let thine ears be open unto our prayers; and prosper with thy blessing the work of our hands; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

 
Mass at the tombs of St. Benedict & St. Scholastica, Montecassino.

06 July 2014

Thirty years under her care...



July 9th is the Feast of Our Lady of the Atonement, although we are transferring our main celebration to the following Sunday so we can keep it with greater solemnity. This is the thirtieth year that our parish has existed under this title, and we will celebrate our thirty-first anniversary on August 15th.

The Mass schedule on July 13th will be as usual: 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. (all Anglican Use liturgy) and 6:00 p.m. (Latin, Ordinary Form).

The Collect:

Deus, qui dispersa congregas, et congregáta consérvas: quæsumus, per intercessiónem beatíssimæ Vírginis Maríæ, Dóminæ nóstræ Adunatiónis, super ecclésiam tuam uniónis grátiam clementer infunde; et Spíritum Sánctum in totam múndi latitúdinem defunde ut omnes unum sint; per Dóminum nostrum Jésum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sáncti, Deus, per ómnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

O God, who dost gather together those who have been scattered, and who dost preserve those who have been gathered together: We beseech thee through the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Atonement, that thou wilt pour out upon thy Church the grace of unity and send thy Holy Ghost upon all mankind, that they may be one; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Fr. Paul of Graymoor wrote these words about the title in 1919:

I am writing this letter on the day which we are accustomed to observe at Graymoor in special honor of Our Lady of the Atonement. This particular name of Our Blessed Mother is very dear to us and we believe it is dear to Our Lady herself. We hold it as among the most treasured and sacred traditions of our Institute that it was the Blessed Virgin who first taught us to call her by that name and there are cogent reasons why she should give this title a favorite place among the many by which she is invoked.

First among these reasons must be her own devotion to the mystery of the Atonement, for it was by the death of her son on the Cross, which cost him the last drop of his blood and made her preeminently the mother of sorrows, that the wall of division between God and man was broken down and both were made one (Ephesians 2:14), through Christ's atoning sacrifice.

As the Blessed Virgin is inseparably associated with our divine redeemer in the mystery of his incarnation, so is she closely associated with him in the great act of the atonement. Thus, is she always represented in the Gospel and in the liturgy and thought of the Catholic Church as standing by the cross, when Christ was crucified there.

There is a second reason, hardly less weighty than the first, why the title, Our Lady of the Atonement, should powerfully appeal to the mother of God. It was through the Incarnation she become the mother of Christ, but through the atonement she became the new Eve and the mother of all the regenerate, who being redeemed by the precious blood are predestined to eternal life as the adopted sons of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. The third time Our Lord spoke upon the cross it was to emphasize this phase of the Atonement, when he said to his mother: "Woman, behold your son," and to St. John, "Son, behold your mother." [John 19:26-27] Thus by virtue of the atonement Mary is the mother of all who live through Christ. Can anyone therefore possibly conceive the depth of significance this title "Our Lady of the Atonement" must possess for Our Blessed Mother herself?

But someone will ask, if so highly esteemed, why should it be kept hidden for nineteen hundred years, to be made known to the faithful in the twentieth century? Is it not the custom even of earthly mothers to preserve the choicest fruits in the summer time and hide them away under lock and key, to bring them forth to their children's delight in the depth of winter and did not the master of the wedding feast say to the bridegroom at Cana, "Every man at first brings forth good wine and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But you have kept the good wine until now." [John 2:10] "My ways are not your ways," [Isaiah 55:8] says the Lord of Hosts.


Stabant juxta crucem Jesu mater ejus, et soror matris ejus Maria Cléophæ, et Salóme, et María Magdaléne. Múlier, ecce filius tuus: dixit Jesus; ad discípulum autem: Ecce mater tua.


The American Madonna


The title of Our Lady of the Atonement is tied intimately to our own country in a way which cannot be said of any other title of the Blessed Virgin. In Rome Our Lady of the Atonement is known as the “American Madonna,” first of all because the title had its origins in this country, at Graymoor, New York; also, her colors are our national colors: red, white, and blue. The birthday of our country always falls within the Novena to Our Lady of the Atonement, reminding us to pray for our nation, that all may know that our hope and strength come from what is represented in this image of the Blessed Virgin: the loving Mother of God offering to us her Divine Son, who holds in His hands the holy Cross as the means of our salvation.

St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr


Maria was the daughter of Luigi and Assunta Goretti. In 1902, when she was only twelve years old, Maria was attacked by 19-year-old farm-hand Alessandro Serenelli. He tried to rape the girl who fought him.  She repeated to him that it was a sin, and that he would go to hell. He tried to choke her to make her submit, and when he was unsuccessful he stabbed her fourteen times. She managed to survive for two days.  Maria forgave her attacker, and asked God to forgive him.  She died holding a crucifix and medal of Our Lady. During his imprisonment, Alessandro had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden where the young girl was dressed in white, and gathering lilies. She smiled, came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of the lilies. As he took them, each lily was transformed into a white flame, after which Maria disappeared. This vision led to Alessandro’s conversion, and he later testified at her cause for beatification.


She was beatified on 27 April 1947, and canonized on 24 June 1950.  These words are from the homily of Venerable Pope Pius XII on that occasion:

"It is well known how this young girl had to face a bitter struggle with no way to defend herself. Without warning a vicious stranger burst upon her, bent on raping her and destroying her childlike purity. In that moment of crisis she could have spoken to her Redeemer in the words of that classic, The Imitation of Christ: “Though tested and plagued by a host of misfortunes, I have no fear so long as your grace is with me. It is my strength, stronger than any adversary; it helps me and give me guidance.” With splendid courage she surrendered herself to God and his grace and so gave her life to protect her virginity. The life of a simple girl - I shall concern myself only with highlights - we can see as worthy of heaven. Even today people can look upon it with admiration and respect. Parents can learn from her story how to raise their God-given children in virtue, courage, and holiness; they can learn to train them in the Catholic faith so that, when put to the test, God’s grace will support them and they will come through undefeated, unscathed, and untarnished. From Maria’s story carefree children and young people with their zest for life can learn not to be led astray by attractive pleasures which are not only ephemeral and empty but also sinful. Instead they can fix their sights on achieving Christian moral perfection, however difficult that course may prove. With determination and God’s help all of us can attain that goal by persistent effort and prayer. Not all of us are expected to die a martyr’s death, but we are all called to the pursuit of Christian virtue. So let us all, with God’s grace, strive to reach the goal that the example of the virgin martyr, Saint Maria Goretti, sets before us. Through her prayers to the Redeemer may all of us, each in his own way, joyfully try to follow the inspiring example of Maria Goretti who now enjoys eternal happiness in heaven."

O Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God's grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity; look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth, with what courage and promptness we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee, and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.

05 July 2014

Words from Fr. Paul of Graymoor


From the writings of Fr. Paul of Graymoor, on Our Lady of the Atonement:

She is necessarily "of the Atonement" since it was the will of God that she play a necessary part in the atonement or redemption. This is not to say that without her man would have remained unredeemed but that God's plan gave her a large share in the redemptive work. When we address the Blessed Mother, as "of the Atonement," we mean then, that there is some very close bond between the atonement and her, that she belongs to the atonement and the atonement to her. Mary, although her part is in no way similar in nature to that of her divine Son's, cooperated with Jesus Christ, as no other creature did, in his work of reconciling man with God.

Her claim to this high title rests most solidly on the fact that she consented to become, and became the mother of the Redeemer; that she suffered with Jesus during the passion; and that all graces merited for mankind by Christ have come to us through Mary.

04 July 2014

St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria


This account of the life of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria is taken from The Liturgical Year, by Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

Anthony Mary Zaccaria was born of a noble family at Cremona in Lombardy, and even in childhood gave signs of his future sanctity. Very early he was distinguished for his virtues, piety towards God, devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and especially mercy towards the poor, who he more than once gave his own rich clothing for their relief. He studied the humanities at home, and then went to Pavia for philosophy and Padua for medicine, and easily surpassed his contemporaries both in purity of life and in mental ability. After gaining his degree in medicine, he returned home, where he understood that God had called him to the healing rather of souls than of bodies. He immediately gave himself to sacred studies. Meanwhile he never ceased to visit the sick, instruct children in Christian doctrine, and exhort the young to piety and the elders to reformation of their lives. While saying his first Mass after his ordination, he is said to have been seen by the amazed congregation in a blaze of heavenly light and surrounded by angels. He then made it his chief care to labor for the salvation of souls and the reformation of manners. He received strangers, the poor and afflicted, with paternal charity, and consoled them with holy words and material assistance, so that his house was known as the refuge of the afflicted and he himself was called by his fellow-citizens an angel and the father of his country.

Thinking that he would be able to do more for the Christian religion if he had fellow laborers in the Lord's vineyard, he communicated his thoughts to two noble and saintly men, Bartholomew Ferrari and James Morigia, and together with them founded at Milan a society of Clerks Regular, which from his great love for the apostle of the Gentiles, he called after St Paul. It was approved by Clement VII, confirmed by Paul III, and soon spread through many lands. He was also the founder and father of the Angelic Sisters. But he thought so humbly of himself that he would never be Superior of his own Order. So great was his patience that he endured with steadfastness the most terrible opposition to his religious. Such was his charity that he never ceased to exhort religious men to love God and priests to live after the manner of the apostles, and he organized many confraternities of married men. He often carried the cross through the streets and public squares, together with his religious, and by his fervent prayers and exhortations brought wicked men back to the way of salvation.

It is noteworthy that out of love for Jesus crucified he would have the mystery of the cross brought to the mind of all by the ringing of a bell on Friday afternoons about vesper time. The holy name of Christ was ever on his lips, and in his writings, and as a true disciple of St Paul, he ever bore the mortification of Christ in his body. He had a singular devotion to the Holy Eucharist, restored the custom of frequent communions, and is said to have introduced that of the public adoration of Forty Hours. Such was his love of purity that it seemed to restore life even to his lifeless body. He was also enriched with the heavenly gifts of ecstasy, tears, knowledge of future things, and the secrets of hearts and power over the enemy of mankind. At length, after many labors, he fell grievously sick at Guastalla, whither he had been summoned as arbitrator in the cause of peace. He was taken to Cremona, and died there amid the tears of his religious and in the embrace of his pious mother, whose approaching death he foretold. At the hour of his death he was consoled by a vision of the apostles, and prophesied the future growth of his Society. The people began immediately to show their devotion to this saint on account of his great holiness and of his numerous miracles. The cult was approved by Leo XIII, who solemnly canonized him on Ascension Day, 1897.

Grant us, O Lord God Almighty: that we, being filled with the spirit of thy blessed Apostle Saint Paul, may learn that preeminent knowledge of Christ Jesus; whereby thou didst wondrously teach St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria to establish in thy Church new households of priests and virgins; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

03 July 2014

The Fourth of July


Like most Americans, I have wonderful memories of family picnics on the Fourth of July. When grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and various other relatives got together we’d have seventy-five or a hundred people. Picnics on the farm meant setting up big plank tables under the large trees on the front lawn. It was a beautiful setting. Lots of lilacs, peonies and roses were on either side down to the road. It was a country lane and if someone drove by we always knew who it was, and the chances were that they’d stop by and join the crowd. And the food! The platters and bowls of things seemed to go on forever. And there would be dishes of blueberries and strawberries along with freshly whipped cream, because we had to have “red, white and blue.” We weren’t allowed to talk too much about the whipped cream in front of my grandfather, because that was a sore point for him. We lived on a dairy farm and when the milk was sold to the Cooperative, the price was determined by the level of butterfat content. My grandfather didn’t want us to take any of the cream from the milk, because he was convinced that even a little bit of missing cream would lower the price he could get. My mother or my grandmother would send me out to the milk house where the large cans of milk were kept in icewater, and I was supposed to skim some cream out of one of the cans, “but don’t let your grandfather see you.”

The Fourth was also a day when the family stories would come out, and we’d be reminded by the elders about our own American history. On my father’s side they were fairly recent immigrants from England. Around 1900 they began coming from Norwich where they had been owners of a mustard-grinding mill. Also, a great-grandfather on that side had moved from Wales to London, and then to Canada before coming to America. There were accounts of tough times and the willingness to work at most anything to make a living in their new country. On my mother’s side there were stories which captured my young imagination. It seemed to me they were almost royalty, because we would hear about our Revolutionary War ancestors. My grandmother’s maiden name was Adams, and she was descended from the famous family which produced John Adams, Samuel Adams, and so many other great patriots.

I used to have a copy of the Declaration of Independence on my bedroom wall. It was one of those that looked like the original document, printed on parchment. I convinced my mother that she should wallpaper my room with a pattern which I thought was wonderful. It had small pictures, including George Washington crossing the Delaware, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and other historical scenes. So I grew up with these important reminders around me, along with family links to the Revolution. We were unashamedly patriotic, as were most people in those days. It didn’t take a 9/11 to make the patriotism rise up. And we’ve seen how quickly it fell away afterwards for all too many. No, the patriotism I experienced was simply part of life. We knew we were living in a marvelous country, and whether we were in peacetime or war, whether there was abundance or if things weren’t so good, no matter who was president and no matter what the inflation rate happened to be, we were proud to be part of our nation and we were devoted to it.

And I still am. I love this country. I love it, even with its imperfections. I’ve lived abroad, and believe me, there’s nothing like living here. I can still remember returning in 1978 after five years of living in England, and as we flew into New York, seeing the Statue of Liberty brought a lump to the throat and moistened the eyes.

So our family will be getting together for the 4th. Of course, the people will be different. Now I’m the grandfather, taking the place of my own grandfather who died some years ago. And the only other difference will be that I'm happy to let everyone have as much whipped cream as they want.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Thomas the Apostle


At that time: Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
- St John 20:24-31

Everliving God, who didst strengthen thine apostle St. Thomas with sure and certain faith in thy Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in thy sight; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

01 July 2014

Our Lady of the Atonement Novena


This year we are transferring the major celebration of Our Lady of the Atonement from its appointed day, July 9th, to Sunday, July 13th, which is an approved practice for Patronal Feasts. 

The Novena, therefore, will begin on Friday, July 4th, and it will prepare us for the Sunday celebration, after it is concluded.  We will be praying the novena at the conclusion of each Mass during the nine days, and you are encouraged to use this privately if you are unable to be at the daily Masses.

The Novena to Our Lady of the Atonement

To take part in the Novena:

On each day, if possible, assist at Holy Mass, and go to Confession and Communion at least once during the Novena. The following prayers are recommended to be said daily:

ONE DECADE OF THE ROSARY
(One Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory be.)

MEMORARE OF ST. BERNARD
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.

THE THREE-FOLD SALUTATION

We salute thee, Holy Mary, Daughter of God the Father, and entreat thee to obtain for us a devotion like thine own to the most sweet Will of God.

We salute thee, Virgin Mother of God the Son, and entreat thee to obtain for us such union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that our own hearts may burn with love for God and an ardent zeal for the salvation of souls.

We salute thee, Immaculate Spouse of God the Holy Ghost, and entreat thee to obtain for us such yielding of ourselves to the Blessed Spirit, that He may, in all things, direct and rule our hearts, and that we may never grieve Him in thought, word, or deed.

THE LITANY
Lord have mercy upon us.
Christ have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven, 
have mercy upon us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy upon us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy upon us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy upon us.

Our Lady of the Atonement, Daughter of God the Father, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of God the Son, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Spouse of God the Holy Ghost, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, standing by the Cross, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, given to us as a Mother, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, our Mediatrix, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, firm Hope, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, sure Refuge, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of Divine Love, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Shepherdess of the wandering sheep, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, pillar of Unity, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of Conversions, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of the outcast, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Star of the pagans, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of missionaries, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother most sorrowful, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Lily of Israel, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Model of resignation, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Haven of peace, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Comfort of the afflicted, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Guide of the doubtful, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Welcomer of the pilgrims, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Handmaid of the Father, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mirror of the Son, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Queen of the Precious Blood, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, true Model, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, strong Protectress, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, hailed by the Archangel Gabriel, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Splendor of Heaven, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Delight of the Saints, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Strength of the weak, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Comfort of the dying, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, triumphant with Jesus, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Queen of the Universe, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Queen of the Children of the Atonement, pray for us.


Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.
Pray for us, O Blessed Mother;
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray. O God, who didst deign that we, thy children, shouldst invoke our Mother Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Atonement; grant that through her powerful intercession we may obtain the fullness of thy blessings; through thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

30 June 2014

Blessed Junipero Serra


Almighty God, who willest to be glorified in thy saints, and didst raise up thy servant Blessed Junipero Serra to be a light in the world: Shine, we pray thee, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth thy praise, who hast called us out of darkness into thy marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.:
In 1776, when the American revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. Born on Spain's island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of Saint Francis' childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was thirty-five, he spent most of his time in the classroom-first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of Saint Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero's desire was to convert native peoples in the New World.

Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero's left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross, often life-threatening, the rest of his life. For eighteen years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there.

Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two conquistadores-one military, one spiritual-began their quest. Jose de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the nine-hundred-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for Saint Joseph's day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived.

Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luis Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra's death.

Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous "Regulation" protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a "Bill of Rights" for Native Americans.

Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts — a move that has brought cries of "injustice" from some moderns.

Junipero's missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight until dawn. He baptized over six thousand people and confirmed five thousand. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988.

Asking the intercession of Blessed Junipero Serra for vocations to the Sacred Ministry of the Church:
O God, who didst lead thy holy apostles to lay hands upon men to serve thee as Sacred Ministers in thy Church: Grant that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and through the intercession of Blessed Junipero Serra, the Church may choose men wisely and in accordance with thy Will for the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and may uphold them in their work for the extension of thy kingdom; through Him who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

29 June 2014

The Holy Martyrs of Rome


“It was through envy and jealousy that the greatest and most upright pillars of the Church were persecuted and struggled unto death.... First of all, Peter, who because of unreasonable jealousy suffered not merely once or twice but many times, and, having thus given his witness, went to the place of glory that he deserved. It was through jealousy and conflict that Paul showed the way to the prize for perseverance. He was put in chains seven times, sent into exile, and stoned; a herald both in the east and the west, he achieved a noble fame by his faith....  Around these men with their holy lives there are gathered a great throng of the elect, who, though victims of jealousy, gave us the finest example of endurance in the midst of many indignities and tortures. Through jealousy women were tormented, like Dirce or the daughters of Danaus, suffering terrible and unholy acts of violence. But they courageously finished the course of faith and despite their bodily weakness won a noble prize.”

- Pope St. Clement

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the hearts of the holy martyrs of Rome: Grant to us, thy humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

28 June 2014

The Widow's Mite

"The Widow's Mite" by James Tissot

[Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had."
-St. Luke 21:1-4
We know exactly where Jesus was when he said this. In the Temple there were the various Courts – the Court of the Gentiles, the Court of the Women, the Court of the Israelites, the Court of the Priests, all gathered around the Holy of Holies. A person would go through these various Courts to get to the next one, as far as he was allowed. In this particular passage, Jesus was speaking in the Court of the Women. Men could be there, but women could go no further. Located there were thirteen collecting boxes known as the Trumpets. They were shaped like trumpets with the narrow part at the top and the wider part at the foot. Each one was assigned to offerings for a different purpose - for the wood that was used to burn the sacrifice, for the incense that was burned on the altar, for the upkeep of the golden vessels, and so on. It was near these Trumpets that Jesus was sitting.

He looked up and saw several people putting their offerings into the Trumpets, including a poor widow. All she had in the world was two “lepta.” A lepton was the smallest of all coins; the name means "the thin one." It was worth only a fraction of a penny, but Jesus said that it far out-valued all the other offerings, because it was everything she had.

He was calling attention to some important points. When it comes to a gift, there’s the spirit in which it’s given. A gift which is given unwillingly, a gift which is given with a grudge, a gift given for the sake of prestige or of self-display loses a lot of its value. The only real gift is that which is the outflow of the loving heart, something given because the giver cannot help it.

And there’s the sacrifice which the gift involves. Something which is virtually nothing to one person may be a huge amount to somebody else. That day in the Temple, the gifts of the rich, as they flung their offerings into the Trumpets, didn’t really cost them very much; but the two lepta of the widow cost her everything she had. The rich had probably calculated how much they could afford; she gave with a kind of reckless generosity which could give no more.

Giving does not begin to be real giving until it hurts. A gift shows our love only when we have had to do without something or have had to work doubly hard in order to give it. This was the point Christ was making.

The Holy Apostles Ss. Peter & Paul

Ss. Peter and Paul by Bartolomeo Vivarini


"Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; And even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles' blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith."

St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 295

Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Ss. Peter and Paul glorified thee by their martyrdom: Grant that thy Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by thy Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Basilica of St. Peter, Vatican City State



Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome

O God, who by the preaching of thy holy apostles Ss. Peter and Paul didst cause the light of thy gospel to shine upon the nations: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having their life and labour in remembrance, may show forth our thankfulness to thee for so great a gift, by following the example of their zeal and service; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

27 June 2014

Immaculate Heart of Mary

"Immaculate Heart of Mary"
Oil on canvas, at the lectern,
Our Lady of the Atonement Church.

Following upon the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, is the commemoration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Here is a prayer for consecrating ourselves to her motherly heart.


O Mary, Virgin most powerful and Mother of mercy, Queen of Heaven and Refuge of sinners; we consecrate ourselves to thy Immaculate Heart. We consecrate to thee our very being and our whole life: all that we have, all that we love, all that we are. To thee we give our bodies, our hearts, and our souls; to thee we give our homes, our families, and our country. We desire that all that is in us and around us may belong to thee, and may share in the benefits of thy motherly blessing. And that this act of consecration may be truly fruitful and lasting, we renew this day at thy feet the promises of our Baptism and our First Holy Communion.

We pledge ourselves to profess courageously and at all times the truths of our holy Faith, and to live as befits Catholics, who are submissive to all directions of the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him. We pledge ourselves to keep the commandments of God and of His Church, in particular to keep holy the Lord’s Day. We pledge ourselves to make the consoling practices of the Christian religion, and above all, Holy Communion, an important part of our lives, in so far as we are able to do.

Finally, we promise thee, O glorious Mother of God and loving Mother of men, to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the spreading of devotion to thy Immaculate Heart, in order to hasten and assure, through thy queenly rule, the coming of the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart of thine adorable Son Jesus Christ, in our own country, and in all the world; as in Heaven, so on earth. Amen.

26 June 2014

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Our Lady of the Atonement Church
San Antonio, Texas

O God, who hast suffered the Heart of thy Son to be wounded by our sins, and in that very heart hast bestowed on us the abundant riches of thy love: Grant that the devout homage of our hearts, which we render unto Him; may by thy mercy be deemed a recompense, acceptable in thy sight; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.


O Sacred Heart,
our home lies deep in thee;
on earth thou art an exile’s rest,
in heav’n the glory of the blest,
O Sacred Heart.

O Sacred Heart,
thou fount of contrite tears:
where’er those living waters flow,
new life to sinners they bestow,
O Sacred Heart.

O Sacred Heart,
our trust is all in thee,
for though earth’s night be dark and drear,
thou breathest rest where thou art near,
O Sacred Heart.

O Sacred Heart,
when shades of death shall fall,
receive us ‘neath thy gentle care,
and save us from the tempter’s snare,
O Sacred Heart.

O Sacred Heart,
lead exiled children home,
where we may ever rest near thee,
in peace and joy eternally,
O Sacred Heart.

24 June 2014

Words from an overflowing heart...


It is my privilege to have formed a friendship over the past several years with a remarkable and devout man, David Moyer, a long-time Episcopal priest, who then served as an Anglican bishop during the days when a "faithful remnant" showed great courage in attempting to salvage some semblance of catholicity in Anglicanism.  Although that particular effort was not successful in its immediate goal, there was a deep spirituality among many of the groups which were formed under the leadership of dedicated clergy.  A great many of these clerics have found their way into the Ordinariate, very often with their groups intact; in other cases, certain clergy were not called by the Church to Catholic ordination, but as faithful shepherds they have brought their people to Rome and are being received themselves as laymen.  David Moyer is one such leader.

It is my personal opinion that he has a vocation to Catholic priesthood; however, my opinion counts for nothing because it is the Church which issues the call.  I pray for him daily, however, that if God has indeed given him a vocation, eventually it will be recognized.

This past Sunday, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, marked the last day David would serve as pastor to his people.  He had brought them to the very door of the Church, and now the community of Blessed John Henry Newman will be received into the full communion of the Church, as will David and his wife Rita.

During his Anglican ministry David was known as an excellent preacher, and for good reason.  He is eloquent and learned, but above all he is a man of great faith, and it shines through in his words.  The following is the text of his last sermon to his people, and I found it to be simply beautiful.

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Feast of Corpus Christi, 22 June, 2014

+In the Name…

Jesus said: “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (St. John 6:55-56).

The full liturgical and Choir season began for us on the Solemnity of the Feast of the Holy Cross in September. This season ends today as we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, or as it is named in the Catholic Church: “The Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.”

We began the full liturgical and Choir season with our joy in the Cross of Christ for the world’s salvation. We end with our joy for the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist for us to partake as sacramental food for life’s journey to have Christ within us, for us to take Christ and be Christ to the world.

You know that the word Eucharist (eucharistia in Greek) means “Thanksgiving.” The Eucharist, the Mass, is the chief and fundamental offering of the Church and her people to God in thanksgiving for God the Father’s gift of His Son to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world.

The Eucharist is primarily a corporate act of thanksgiving to God, and secondly a feeding for us with the food we need,so that Christ abides in us, and we in Him.

I remember when I was a Junior in seminary (the designation for a first year student) that I once was about to enter the seminary’s chapel for Mass, but as I began to enter the chapel doors, I decided that I was not in a mood of thanksgiving because of something (I forget what) that was going on in my life, so I turned around and returned to the seminary apartment where Rita and I lived.

In spiritual hindsight, I had done the wrong thing because I hadn’t appropriated the fact that the Eucharist is about our “It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places [physical place and emotional place]give thanks unto thee, O Lord, holy Father, almighty, everlasting God.”

I wasn’t in a place of being thankful for what I was dealing with, but that was a lame excuse for not going to Mass. And beyond that is something more; something that has been ringing in my ears, churning in my mind, and stirring inmy soul in recent times; and that is what St. Paul wrote, which I have put before you many times recently.

St. Paul wrote to the Church in Thessalonica: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (5:16-18).

All of us struggle at times to know and discern what the will of God is for us. Here, St. Paul, who experienced a total change of life, belief, and conduct on the Road to Damascus when Jesus spoke to him, who was accepted by the chosen Apostles of Jesus as a fellow Apostle, tells us what the will of God in Christ Jesus IS for us. We are to “rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances.”

Now I’ll be the first to say that this is a tall order, but, again, it is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us; which means that we are not to dismiss it, but strive to do it!

I’ll also be the first to say that rejoicing always and giving thanks in all circumstances may seem at times like lunacy and mental instability. Does a mother naturally rejoice and give thanks with a miscarriage or a stillbirth? Does a man rejoice and give thanks when he is told that he has colon cancer that has spread throughout his body? Did the Jewish mother in Auschwitz rejoice and give thanks when her son was ripped from her arms and to be thrown into an oven?

Less traumatically, a student fails a critical test that has a critical effect on his future aspiration. A plane is delayed on the airport’s tarmac, and the parents miss the college graduation of their daughter who was her class’s valedictorian. A young woman who is very much in love with a man has the engagement broken by the man because he declares that he is being drawn to another woman he met at work. Do such people naturally rejoice and give thanks? No, they don’t.

Things happen to us – some of own doing, and some because of the doing of others. Such is life; such is our sinfulness; and such is the sinfulness of others. Our task is not to fall into the place of victimization. We are to repent of our sins; seek reconciliation with others; and forgive others – seventy times seven, and not fall into the trap of thinking that God is small, but rather that he is great, and that He knows our circumstances and situations, and that with His love and mercy, He is there to help as we live in a fallen world, in which many times we are discouraged, confused, and frustrated; but, again, God knows our feelings, but we are to tell Him what we feel.

I have thought much of Moses in recent times. He was excluded from leading the people and from even going into the Promised Land because of an act of disobedience. In the Book of Exodus, we hear that at one point God commands Moses to bring water of a rock for the disgruntled Israelites to drink. He was commanded by God to strike the rock with his rod. This was at Horeb. In the Book of Numbers, there is a second situation when the Israelites are crying for water, and are mad at Moses and Aaron for bringing them to a waterless place, Kadesh –barnea. God commands Moses to speak to the rock in order for it to produce water. But Moses struck the rock, not once but twice. For this act of disobedience, Moses was not permitted to lead the people into the Promised Land, nor go there himself. He would only be able to look at it from a distance before he died.

I’m no Moses, but I have been disobedient to God in different ways and at different times. I also have striven to be obedient, and did what I felt needed to be done. Hindsight is 20/20, and growth in spiritual wisdom is a life-long enterprise. I have been kept from leading you as a priest into the Catholic Church (in the sense of taking you across the Tiber), but unlike Moses I will be going with you into the Catholic Church as one of you. Praise God!

What God’s will in Christ Jesus is for us is that we rejoice and give thanks that God is with us in all circumstances; that we are never alone; that His comfort and strength is there for us; that no matter how hard, heinous, tragic, dark, life-shattering, life-altering, difficult, unexpected, and troublesome things are, God is there with us.

The Psalmist says: “If I climb up into heaven, thou art there; if I go down to hell, thou are there also” (Psalm 139:7).

And He redeems all things that we give Him that need to be redeemed. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new” (21:5).

God is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omnipresent (present always and everywhere). And as St. Paul wrote to the Church in Rome: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things preset, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:37-39). And this is the St. Paul who with his missionary partner, Silas, prayed and sang while in prison in Philippi to the extent that the prison doors were miraculously opened and “every one’s fetters were unfastened (Acts 16:25-26).

Not to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances is to forsake God whose will it is that we know ourselves not to be forsaken. We are to pray constantly so that the pipeline of grace and guidance is open, and knowing that He is ever-present with love and mercy in abundance; and as we constantly pray, which the Oxford theologian Dr. John Macquarie called “spiritual thinking,” we remember yet another thing that St. Paul stated:  “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

So, on this day of great thanksgiving for the Eucharist, which as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states is “the source and summit  of the Christian life,” and a new chapter  has begun for this Fellowship under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman, and as I celebrate my final Mass as an Anglican priest and bishop, let us give thanks above all else for the love of God, and for our calling to be open and  humble servants of Christ for Christ, not for ourselves, as dependent children who do trust in the Providence of God, who in His Son, Christ Jesus said, “I am the Alpha  and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21:6).

Changing gears to end this sermon, from scripture to a wonderful and classic book and movie, the Wizard of Oz said to the Tin Man, “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” I know very deeply your love for me, and I pray that you know deeply my love for you.

God bless you, and may Our Lady and Blessed John Henry Newman pray for us.

+In the Name…