29 September 2009

Feast of the Holy Archangels



O Everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and men in a wonderful order: Mercifully grant that, as thy holy angels always serve and worship thee in heaven, so by thine appointment they may help and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

28 September 2009

St. Lawrence Ruiz and his Companions



The mixed-race child of a Chinese father and a Filippino mother grew up to marry a nice girl.  They had three children, and lived a simple life on his modest salary as a clerk working for the local parish.  What they lacked in material things they more than made up for in their deep Catholic faith.  Living something of an anonymous life, known only to their immediate circle of family and friends, life was good but not extraordinary.  That is, not until a false accusation was made.  And then, life as Lawrence Ruiz and his wife knew it, no longer existed.  Everything was turned upside down as he made the nearly-impossible decision to run from his accusers.  He was completely innocent, but he paid a very heavy price, which involved leaving his beloved wife and children and the only home he knew. 

Lawrence made his way to a ship which was headed for Japan, and his travelling companions were three Dominican priests, a Japanese priest, and a layman who suffered from leprosy.  They arrived in Okinawa and made no secret of their Catholic faith.  And for that, they were arrested and tortured mercilessly.  They were dragged off to Nagasaki, where further sport was made of Lawrence and the others, in an attempt to get them to deny Christ.  They remained steadfast in professing their love for God and His Church.  Lawrence had already had a false accusation made against him, but this accusation - that he was a Catholic - was an accusation he was happy to confirm, no matter what the consequences.  And the consequences were brutal.  He and his companions were hung upside down while having heavy stones tied to them; they were held under water until the moment before they would drown; they had wood splinters driven under their fingernails.  But through it all, their hearts were filled with love for God and forgiveness for their persecuters. 

When they finally died from their tortures, the bodies of Lawrence and his companions were burned and the ashes were thrown into the sea.  Their faithful witness, however, fed that great burning fire of God's love, which continues to burn to this day.

O Almighty God, by whose grace and power St. Lawrence Ruiz and his Companion Martyrs triumphed over suffering and were faithful even unto death: Grant us, who now remember them with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with them 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.

26 September 2009

The Sunday Collect...

O God, who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running to obtain thy promises, may be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Holy Infant, Protector of all children...

Above: the Holy Infant of Prague enshrined at Our Lady of Victory Church.
Below: Pope Benedict XVI presents a gold crown for the statue of the Infant.


Pope Benedict XVI has begun his three-day visit to the Czech Republic, and he went to the Church of Our Lady of Victory in Prague, where the famous image of the Holy Infant is enshrined. He presented a crown for the Infant, and spoke to the large number of families gathered there:

The image of the Child Jesus calls to mind the mystery of the Incarnation, of the all-powerful God who became man and who lived for thirty years in the lowly family of Nazareth, entrusted by Providence to the watchful care of Mary and Joseph. My thoughts turn to your own families and to all the families in the world, in their joys and difficulties. Our reflections should lead us to prayer, as we call upon the Child Jesus for the gift of unity and harmony for all families. We think especially of young families who have to work so hard to offer their children security and a decent future. We pray for families in difficulty, struggling with illness and suffering, for those in crisis, divided or torn apart by strife or infidelity. We entrust them all to the Holy Infant of Prague, knowing how important their stability and harmony is for the true progress of society and for the future of humanity.

The figure of the Child Jesus, the tender infant, brings home to us God’s closeness and his love. We come to understand how precious we are in his eyes, because it is through him that we in our turn have become children of God. Every human being is a child of God and therefore our brother or sister, to be welcomed and respected. May our society grasp this truth! Every human person would then be appreciated not for what he has, but for who he is, since in the face of every human being, without distinction of race or culture, God’s image shines forth.

This is especially true of children. In the Holy Infant of Prague we contemplate the beauty of childhood and the fondness that Jesus Christ has always shown for little ones, as we read in the Gospel (cf. Mk 10:13-16). Yet how many children are neither loved, nor welcomed nor respected! How many of them suffer violence and every kind of exploitation by the unscrupulous! May children always be accorded the respect and attention that are due to them: they are the future and the hope of humanity!

Dear children, I now want to say a special word to you and to your families. You have come here in large numbers to meet me, and for this I thank you most warmly. You are greatly loved by the Child Jesus, and you should return his love by following his example: be obedient, good and kind. Learn to be, like him, a source of joy to your parents. Be true friends of Jesus, and always turn to him in trust. Pray to him for yourselves, for your parents, relations, teachers and friends, and pray also for me. Thank you once again for your welcome. I bless you from my heart and I invoke upon all of you the protection of the Holy Infant Jesus, his Immaculate Mother and Saint Joseph.


This is an especially appropriate message for all of us, especially during the 40 Days For Life Campaign now underway. Pray for all families, and especially for all those children whose families are broken, or who have abandoned them. And remember, too, the children whose lives will be ended through abortion.

24 September 2009

Helping out Catholic radio...

Sr. Grace Marie and Sr. Mary Peter, two of our Poor Clare nuns, went with me today to take part in the "radiothon" fundraising for our local Catholic radio station.

Our goal was to raise $4,500 in an hour. When we completed that task in about half that time, the folks at the station doubled our goal, so we raised another $4,500 - and not only that, we went on and took in another $2,000+, all within our allotted hour!

I'm grateful to the faithful donors who enabled us to break all the records so far during this radiothon, including the record for the most calls during an hour, and the most money raised within an hour.

It was great fun, and it's for a great cause. Guadalupe Radio 89.7 FM is an important apostolate here in South Texas. I'm glad we were able to help keep it on the air.

Our Lady of Walsingham

A blessed feast of Our Lady to all, especially to our sister parish in Houston!

O God, who through the mystery of the Word made flesh didst in thy mercy sanctify the house of the blessed Virgin Mary, and wondrously place it in the bosom of thy Church: Grant that being made separate from the tabernacles of sinners, we may become worthy to dwell in thy holy house; 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.

Update: there's a great article about the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham which I've posted in my "Reading Room." Go here.

23 September 2009

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

O Almighty God, who hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the prayers and good example of thy servant St. Pio of Pietrelcina, 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.

21 September 2009

Brightest and best...

We have some pretty amazing students here at the Academy. Our Upper School graduates are already making their mark in the world of higher education, and the students who are now preparing to enter our Upper School show tremendous promise - in academics, certainly - but most importantly, in their character and moral sense.

This past week we awarded twenty-six scholarships amounting to more than $80,000 to several members of the eighth grade class. These are students who plan to complete their high school education in our Upper School because they value the Catholic and classical program we offer. No longer are our students easily lured away by the promises of "more fun" in other institutions. In their growing maturity they have come to realize that high educational standards and being serious about the Faith don't exclude having a good time. It's gratifying to see young people with the right priorities.

Photo above: This year's eighth grade class.
Photo below: Joseph Pecha, student with the highest academic achievement.

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

We thank thee, Heavenly Father, for the witness of thine apostle and evangelist Saint Matthew to the Gospel of thy Son our Saviour; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

20 September 2009

Today's Collect...

Grant us, O Lord, not to mind earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to cleave to those that shall abide; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

18 September 2009

Benedicamus Domino

The usual dismissal at Mass here is "Let us bless the Lord," with the response being "Thanks be to God." I've been asked more than once, "Why are we being asked to 'bless' the Lord? Isn't that something God does to us? Isn't He already blessed?"

The word “bless” comes from the Old English word “blēdsian,” which had to do with a sacrificial offering of blood (thus the word “blood” from the root word “blēd”), and to bless was to exalt or glorify by offering sacrifice. The original idea of a blessing was directed toward God, indicating that we should offer Him a sacrifice of praise, not only with our lips, but with our lives.

When you think about it, it's a very appropriate dismissal: "Get out of here and go do something sacrificial for God!"

17 September 2009

Constitution Day

Today is Constitution Day, commemorating 17 September 1787, when the Constitutional Convention had its final meeting. On that day, thirty-nine Founding Fathers signed their names on this historic document. Today would be a good day to pray especially for our nation, that all of us will value and work to preserve the principles it establishes. May we be delivered from those, both at home and abroad, who would love nothing more than to shred this amazing document.

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 favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, 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. Robert Bellarmine...

...Tuscan, brilliant scholar, friend of the poor, Cardinal, humble, and yes... a Jesuit (one of the really good ones).

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. Robert Bellarmine, 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.

16 September 2009

Ss. Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop

“…On [Peter] He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep; and although He assigned a like power to all the Apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was; but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one Chair. So too, all are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the Apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?"

- St. Cyprian of Carthage, c.251 AD

15 September 2009

Our Lady of Sorrows

O God, who didst will that in the passion of thy Son a sword of grief should pierce the soul of the blessed Virgin Mary his Mother: Mercifully grant that thy Church, having shared with her in his passion, may be made worthy to share in the joys of his resurrection; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

14 September 2009

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today's Mass for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was exceptionally beautiful, with just the right music, plenty of incense, and a very responsive congregation of students and faculty. A relic of the True Cross was placed in the Lady Chapel where it was venerated by groups of students throughout the day. I've been humming "Lift high the cross" all afternoon...



Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world unto himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

The origin of the wood of the Cross...

...according to The Golden Legend:

And Adam lived after he had begotten Seth eight hundred years, and engendered sons and daughters. Some hold opinion thirty sons and thirty daughters, and some fifty of that one and fifty of that other. We find no certainty of them in the Bible. But all the days of Adam living here in earth amount to the sum of nine hundred and thirty years. And in the end of his life when he should die, it is said, but of none authority, that he sent Seth his son into Paradise for to fetch the oil of mercy, where he received certain grains of the fruit of the tree of mercy by an angel.

And when he came again he found his father Adam yet alive and told him what he had done.

And then Adam laughed first and then died. And then he laid the grains or kernels under his father's tongue and buried him in the vale of Hebron; and out of his mouth grew three trees of the three grains, of which trees the cross that our Lord suffered his passion on was made, by virtue of which he gat very mercy, and was brought out of darkness into very light of heaven. To the which he bring us that liveth and reigneth God, world without end.

12 September 2009

Collect for the week...

O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee, mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the same Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

11 September 2009

Requiem Mass on 9/11

The students' Mass today was offered as a Requiem for those who died in the attack on our nation eight years ago. We celebrated the Mass in Latin (Ordinary Form), and it was a strikingly beautiful occasion. Several of our young men chanted the Introit, and our Honors Choir sang a beautiful Mass setting by Ludovico da Viadana (1560-1627).


The memorial consisting of the names of those who died, set up in the Lady Chapel.


The procession and proclamation of the Gospel.


The homily, explaining the significance of the day.


Incensing the oblations and the altar at the Offertory.


The elevation of the Sacred Host at the Consecration.

10 September 2009

In thanksgiving for the gift of rain...

Although we need much more rain, we're grateful for what we have received here over these past few days. The creek beds are still flowing, and everything looks much better than it has in a very long time!

Most gracious God, by whose knowledge the depths are broken up and the clouds drop down the dew: We yield thee hearty thanks and praise for the gift of rain, and for all the other blessings of thy merciful providence; and we beseech thee to give us a just sense of all thy great mercies, such as may appear in our lives by a humble, holy, and obedient walking before thee all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost be all glory and honor, world without end. Amen.

08 September 2009

More than remembering on 9/11

This Friday will be (can this possibly be correct?) the eighth anniversary of the horror of the attack on our country. It's important that we mark the occasion not only with dignity, but also with determination that we will continue to fight the evil which lashed out on that day.

The Catholic schools of the archdiocese were all asked to have some sort of special remembrance on the anniversary, and a number of suggestions were sent out to all school administrators. I'm glad that the schools were encouraged to do something, and at the Academy we will do what the Church has done for centuries. At 9:15 a.m. on Friday, a Latin Requiem Mass (Ordinary Form) will be offered for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives on that day eight years ago.

There'll be various prayer services and meaningful ceremonies taking place throughout our nation. There will be gatherings and important words spoken in memory of those who died. Everyone will mark the day in his own way. But our remembrance will be more than just remembering. We'll be offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that which was commanded by Christ Himself, for the benefit of the departed.

The Crusader Times

Click here for the latest edition of The Crusader Times, the newsletter of The Atonement Academy.

07 September 2009

With the Blessed Virgin as witness...

As we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we will have our annual ceremony of administering the Oath of Fidelity to all those who participate in the formation and teaching of our students at the Academy. At Mass, after the Gospel, the members of the administration and faculty will stand before God and make the following oath:

"I promise that I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church whether in the words I speak or in the way I act.

"With great care and fidelity I shall carry out the responsibilities by which I am bound in relation both to the universal church and to the particular church in which I am called to exercise my service according to the requirements of the law.

"In carrying out my charge, which is committed to me in the name of the church, I shall preserve the deposit of faith in its entirety, hand it on faithfully and make it shine forth. As a result, whatsoever teachings are contrary I shall shun.

"I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the whole church and shall look after the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those which are contained in the Code of Canon Law.

"With Christian obedience I shall associate myself with what is expressed by the holy shepherds as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith or established by them as the church's rulers. And I shall faithfully assist diocesan bishops so that apostolic activity, to be exercised by the mandate and in the name of the church, is carried out in the communion of the same church.

"May God help me in this way and the holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hand."

The Reading Room

You've probably had the same experience as I have. You read an article and you want to share it with someone else. But I'm conscious of not wanting to fill people's e-mail boxes with all kinds of items that might not interest them. So, what to do?

I've decided to have a site where I can link articles I've found interesting. It's called The Reading Room, and you're welcome to go there and have a look around. Comment on the articles if you want to.

The items aren't exclusively religious, although they might be begging for a spiritual insight. They're news items, opinion pieces, things of interest -- political, religious, human interest, sometimes maddening, or even controversial.

Maybe it'll serve no purpose except as a collecting point for stuff that caught my attention. Or perhaps you'll see an item there that you missed elsewhere, but which you find interesting. They're posted "as is," with links to the original source. Once more, here's the link.

Now that I think about it, it's kind of like Drudge with a clerical collar.

06 September 2009

This week's Collect...

Grant us, O Lord, we pray thee, to trust in thee with all our heart; seeing that, as thou dost always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so thou dost not forsake those who make their boast of thy mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

05 September 2009

Servant of the poorest of the poor...

Pope John Paul II called her "an icon of the Good Samaritan." Today is the commemoration of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, whose love for the Lord Jesus Christ found its incarnation in her practical love for the poor, the sick, the weak and the helpless.

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that, inspired by the devotion of thy servant, Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

03 September 2009

Home at last!

Earlier today, on this Feast of St. Gregory the Great, ten All Saints Sisters of the Poor and their chaplain were received into the Catholic Church by the Archbishop of Baltimore. Here's the press release from the archdiocesan website:

Ten Episcopal Nuns, One Priest Received into Full Communion with the Roman Catholic Church

09/03/2009

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, Archbishop of Baltimore, announced today that 10 nuns, formerly members of an Episcopal religious community known as the Society of the All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor, and the group’s chaplain, Fr. Warren Tanghe, were received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church at a Mass earlier today.

The sisters, who contacted the Archdiocese last year to investigate the possibility of entering into full communion with the Catholic Church after a seven-year period of discernment, will continue to reside in their convent in Catonsville, where the Order has been located since 1917. The nuns first arrived in Baltimore in 1872.

The sisters have expressed to the Archbishop a desire for the community, which has served the poor in the Baltimore area for over 135 years, to continue, now as a Catholic religious institute.

“The Catholic Church has been serving the needs of the people of the Archdiocese of Baltimore for over 200 years and our many communities of consecrated religious have been invaluable partners in this effort,” the Archbishop said. “Our Archdiocese and our Church’s mission of caring for the poor are now greatly enriched for having the All Saints’ Sisters among us.”

Two nuns from the religious community have decided not to leave the Episcopal Church and will continue to reside with their now-Roman Catholic sisters.

“The spiritual well-being of all of the All Saints’ Sisters is our priority and we will do everything we can to support those who have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church as well as the two sisters who remain Anglican,” Archbishop O’Brien said.

More than 120 people attended the Mass celebrated by Archbishop O’Brien at the chapel of the Sisters’ Catonsville convent.

“Time and again, apostles and saints have been led by God into unexpected paths; so too with us—the All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor,” Reverend Mother Christina, Mother Superior, said. “As they responded with faith and trust, we also are responding to God’s call, and are looking forward to seeing His will for us unfold as we enter the Roman Catholic Church.”

The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, the Rt. Rev. Eugene T. Sutton, said, “In meeting with the Sisters, I’ve been impressed with depth of their prayer and the pace of their discernment. I wish them God’s blessings as their journey takes them into the Roman Catholic Church. Despite the sadness we feel in having to say farewell, our mutual joy is that we remain as one spiritual family of faith, one body in Christ.”

Chaplain to the All Saints’ Sisters, Fr. Warren Tanghe also entered into full communion with the Catholic Church today and is discerning the possibility of future formation and ordination as a Roman Catholic priest.

Pope St. Gregory the Great

Almighty and merciful God, who didst raise up Saint Gregory of Rome to be a servant of the servants of God, and didst inspire him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people: Preserve in thy Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught, that thy people, being fruitful in every good work, may receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

01 September 2009

Maybe he'll autograph it for you...

I'm pleased to count Fr. Dwight Longenecker as a friend and brother priest. He was terrific as the commencement speaker for our graduating seniors, and he's a first-class apologist and author.

Need I say it? He's also a convert.

Father's latest book is called The Gargoyle Code, and it's written in the style of C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. Go ahead. Click here. Buy a copy for you, and another for a friend.

Twenty minutes of hope...

Take just twenty minutes, and watch a short film called The Butterfly Circus. It stars Eduardo Verástegui (of Bella fame) and Nick Vujicic, an amazing young man who was born without limbs.

Click here to see the film. And I'll give you fair warning -- I got a little teary-eyed before the end of it.

If you want to know more about the incredible Nick Vujicic, have a look at this documentary.