30 March 2013

The Crusader Bulletin

For all the latest news from The Atonement Academy, you need to read the Crusader Bulletin at this link.  Whether it's academics, sports, music, student achievements, upcoming events...you'll find it all there!

Holy Saturday


O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of thy dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Stone of the Anointing
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

28 March 2013

Maundy Thursday

All the students gathered this morning for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, which gave me an opportunity to explain to them why we were not celebrating any other Mass today, other than this evening's Mass of the Lord's Last Supper.

We read the account of the Passover in Exodus, and I reminded them that the Church, celebrating the Mass this evening, is the New Israel offering up Christ as the Passover Lamb, and so we participate in the New Passover.

God our Father, whose Son our Lord Jesus Christ in a wonderful Sacrament hath left unto us a memorial of his passion: Grant us so to venerate the sacred mysteries of his Body and Blood, that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of his redemption; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast!

27 March 2013

The Divine Mercy Novena


The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday, and the Chaplet is said each day of the Novena.  The Chaplet is said in this way:


1. Begin with the Sign of the Cross, 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.
2. Then on the Our Father Beads say the following:
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
3. On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).
4. Conclude with(three times):
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

The intentions of each day are as follows:

DAY 1 (Good Friday) - All mankind, especially sinners.

DAY 2 (Holy Saturday) - The souls of priests and religious.

DAY 3 (Easter Sunday) - All devout and faithful souls.

DAY 4 (Easter Monday) - Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him.

DAY 5 (Easter Tuesday) - The souls of separated brethren.

DAY 6 (Easter Wednesday) - The meek and humble souls and the souls of children.

DAY 7 (Easter Thursday) - The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy.

DAY 8 (Easter Friday) - The souls who are detained in purgatory.

DAY 9 (Easter Saturday) - The souls who have become lukewarm.

The full prayers for the Novena intentions are at this link.

Tenebrae

All is ready for the first service of the Sacred Triduum, with the chanting of Tenebrae this evening. In addition to all the other ceremonies of the season, we have (for the past thirty years) chanted Tenebrae on the eve of each of the three days. The psalms become almost hypnotic. The gradual extinguishing of the candles is a visual reminder of the death of Christ. The readings take us back to those events in Jerusalem, and all that led to them.

From the first antiphon we chant this evening, to the final prayer we offer on Friday night, Tenebrae provides a path into the Passion of Christ.

Spy Wednesday


Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What will you give me if I deliver him to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?" He said, "Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'" And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; and as they were eating, he said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?" He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." Judas, who betrayed him, said, "Is it I, Master?" He said to him, "You have said so."
-Matthew 26:14-25
Elsewhere the Gospel tells us that Satan entered into Judas, but even before this, Judas had shown himself to be dishonest and a lover of money. He kept the money box which was used for the needs of Jesus and the disciples, but he was accustomed to taking money out for himself. When the expensive perfume was used to anoint Jesus, he complained that it could have been sold and the money given to the poor – although he was more likely thinking that he could take the money himself. And now, he goes to the chief priests and asks what they would give him if he delivered Jesus to them. The bargain was struck: thirty silver pieces for the Son of God.

Could the betrayal by Judas have been because of something as common and low as his love for money? Certainly, it looks that way. There could have been other reasons – some have said that he was trying to force Christ into revealing himself as the Messiah. Some have said that Judas was jealous of all the other disciples and so wanted to do something to ruin their common life together. But if Judas betrayed Jesus for those reasons, why did he ask for money when he went to the high priests? He could have handed Jesus over to them without asking for money.

No, Judas was a lover of money, a worldly man who was looking for personal gain. As St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” And this, no doubt, was an evil act. When Judas approached Jesus in the garden, our Lord asked him, “Judas would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?” Judas had given his betraying kiss before, when he took money into his filthy hands, caressing it as a lover would his beloved.

Spy Wednesday serves as a reminder to us, too, that we can betray Christ for common, low things. We tend to think about our own wants before we think of Christ. We sometimes spend time trying to get things for ourselves while forgetting the needs of others. When we put things before what we owe to God, we’re betraying Christ. When we’re cruel or when we bully someone weaker than we are, we’re betraying Christ. When we delight in gossip, we’re betraying Christ. When we cheat someone, or when we take something which isn’t ours, we’re betraying Christ. When we use foul language, speaking filthy words from the same mouth in which we receive the Body of Christ, we’re betraying Him.

We’re horrified by what Judas did. But we need to look at our own lives, too, lest we are betraying Jesus.

O Lord God, whose blessed Son our Saviour gave his back to the smiters and hid not his face from shame: Grant us grace to take joyfully the sufferings of the present time, in full assurance of the glory that shall be revealed; 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.

26 March 2013

Our Academy Honors Choir sings!

The Atonement Academy Honors Choir sings “All breathing life, sing and praise ye the Lord” by Johann Sebastian Bach, with pictures of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and his meeting with the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI.

Tuesday in Holy Week



When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus; so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, "Tell us who it is of whom he speaks." So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it." So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly." Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the feast"; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night. When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified; if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going you cannot come.' A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward." Peter said to him, "Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.
- John 13:21-38

 O God, who by the passion of thy blessed Son didst make an instrument of shameful death to be unto us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

25 March 2013

Monday in Holy Week



Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him. Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.  Jesus said, "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me." When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus also to death, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

- St. John 12:1-11
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; 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.

23 March 2013

Schedule for Holy Week & Easter


SCHEDULE FOR
HOLY WEEK AND EASTER

Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday), March 24
7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 6 p.m.
Blessing and distribution of Palms at all Masses.

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, March 25-27
Mass at 7 a.m. and 9:20 a.m.

Spy Wednesday, March 27
The Office of Tenebrae at 7 p.m.
Confessions at 8:30 p.m.

Maundy Thursday, March 28
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 9:20 a.m.
Mass of the Lord's Supper at 7 p.m.
followed by the Office of Tenebrae
All-night Vigil in the Sacred Heart Chapel

Good Friday, March 29
Solemn Liturgy at 3 p.m.
Stations of the Cross and Tenebrae at 7 p.m.

Holy Saturday, March 30
The Great Vigil of Easter at 8 p.m.

Easter Day
Mass at 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
There will be no 6 p.m. Mass on Easter.

Video from Castel Gandolfo

20 March 2013

St. Cuthbert, Bishop & Confessor

St. Cuthbert, one of the great saints of Britain, was born in Northumbria in about the year 635, at about the same year in which St. Aidan founded the monastery on Lindisfarne. He was raised as a Christian, and in his youth he spent time in military service, and also seems to have spent time as a shepherd.

His life changed when he was about 17 years old. He was tending sheep out in the hills, and looking into the night sky he saw a great light descend to earth and then return, and he believed that a human soul was being taken to heaven at that moment. The date was August 31, 651, the night of the death of St. Aidan, who was the great bishop and monk of Lindisfarne. This became Cuthbert’s time of decision for the future of his life. He immediately went to one of the monasteries, Melrose monastery, which had been founded by St. Aidan, and requested admittance as a novice.

For the next 13 years he was with the Melrose monks. At that time Melrose was then given land to found a new monastery at Ripon, and Cuthbert went with the founding party and was made guestmaster of the new foundation. After serving in that capacity for a time, St. Cuthbert returned to his original monastery and was appointed as Prior of Melrose.

After a time, St. Cuthbert moved to Lindisfarne and settled into the life of the monastery. He became an active missionary, and he was very much in demand as a spiritual director. He was an outgoing, cheerful, compassionate person and no doubt became popular. But when he was about forty years old he believed that he was being called to be a hermit and to dedicate himself completely to prayer. He moved to a remote island, where he remained for another ten years.

He was not destined to remain in the life of a hermit. When he was about fifty years old, he was asked by the Church to leave his hermitage and become a bishop, and he very reluctantly agreed. For two years he was an active, travelling bishop, and he journey far and wide ministering to those under his spiritual care.

Finally, feeling that death was approaching, he retired to his old hermitage where, in the company of Lindisfarne monks, he died on March 20, 687.

The 4th of September is kept as a commemoration of St. Cuthbert in remembrance of the transference of his relics to Durham. With the invasion of the Vikings near the end of the 9th century, the body of St. Cuthbert was taken from Lindisfarne by the monks to a new location for safekeeping, until finally arriving at the place known as “Deer’s meadow,” or “Durham,” where a chapel was built for the relics, and this chapel marked the place where the great Durham Cathedral now stands.

Almighty God, who didst call St. Cuthbert from following the flock to be a shepherd of thy people: Mercifully grant that, as he sought in dangerous and remote places those who had erred and strayed from thy ways, so we may seek the indifferent and the lost, and lead them back to thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

18 March 2013

St. Joseph: Just and Kind


As far as I know, in all of Jerusalem there is no basilica, no cathedral, no church built to honor Saint Joseph. In that Holy City, so abundantly overflowing with monuments and memories of our Catholic faith, and where the Church received its first breath of life from our Blessed Saviour, if there is any majestic shrine as a place of devotion to the Universal Patron of that Church, I'm unfamiliar with it. The only remembrance of the foster-father of Jesus in all of Jerusalem is a small altar built into the side of the stairway which descends to the site of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is most unimposing, hidden in a dark chapel with room for no more than a few people, and it would be missed by most pilgrims if it were not pointed out to them. "How strange," one might think. "How strange that in the city which saw so much of the saving work of the Incarnate Word, there is nothing more than this to remember the Protector of that Word." It is strange, and yet it seems somehow suitable. It is as though this would be what Saint Joseph would want. The Guardian of our Lord had lived obediently and he had died quietly. Never once during his lifetime did he overshadow the Divine Child who was called his son, or the pure maiden who had been his wife, and there certainly would be no desire to do so after his death.

Very little is known concerning Joseph, and yet enough is known to reveal what his character was. All that we know of him, we know from the Gospels, and it is there that we see him to be a man who was determined to do what is right in the sight of God, and to do it in a kindly way. He was betrothed to Mary, and according to Jewish practice, betrothal was as sacred as marriage. Because of that, any infidelity before the actual marriage were treated in the same way as infidelity after marriage: death by stoning was the punishment for such sins. By all human appearance, Joseph's beloved betrothed was in just such circumstances, and he had to act in the way that seemed best. Certainly, he was a just man, but he was a kind man, too, and surely what Mary told him made a great demand on his faith. But that is the point: Joseph was, above all, a man of faith and completely obedient to the divine will of Almighty God. When it was revealed to him that Mary was to bear the Incarnate Son of God he took her to be his wife. There was no hesitation, no consideration of what others might think or how they might judge. It mattered little to him that it was assumed he was the human father of this Child -- not that he would have encouraged others to believe such a thing, for he knew the truth -- but it was better than having people think that Mary had shamefully conceived with someone else, and so Joseph took the responsibility, knowing that one day the truth would be known, and that Truth "would make men free." It is in this very situation, brought about by God Himself, that Saint Joseph's justness and kindness are both revealed.

His justness is shown in that he was a devout servant of God, and he ordered his life according to the standard of that law which had been revealed to the Jewish nation. He sought to please God in all things, even when it meant that he would be misunderstood or even harshly judged by the world. And because justness does not exclude kindness, his response to the revelation that Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit was one of deep gladness and joy, and so he took his place in God's plan without fear or hesitation. This place was not one of glory; rather, it was one of quiet reserve. Whether on the way to Bethlehem, or in the stable, or at the Child's circumcision on the eighth day, or in the Temple when He was presented, or in everyday life in Nazareth, Joseph simply was there. Loved and respected both by the Incarnate Son of God and by the Mother of God, he was a man of deep piety and gracious character.

Within Saint Paul's Cathedral in London is the tomb of its architect, and on that tomb are the words, "If ye seek his monument, look around you." How much more impressive are those words when they are used of Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. There could be no greater remembrance of Joseph's holy life, than that glorious Church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ, the foster-son of the quiet, just, kind man of God.
O God, who from the family of thy servant David didst raise up St. Joseph to be the guardian of thine incarnate Son and the spouse of his Virgin Mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to thy commands; 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.

And for those who expect my annual re-telling of my favourite St. Joseph story, here it is.

17 March 2013

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop & Doctor


Cyril of Jerusalem loved to study the Holy Scriptures from the time he was a child, and he made such progress that he became known for his deep faith. He was eventually ordained priest by St. Maximus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and he was given the work of preaching to the faithful and instructing those preparing for baptism. His Catechetical Instructions, which explain clearly and fully all the teaching of the Church, still exist today for us to read. His treatment of these subjects is so distinct and clear that he refuted not only the heresies of his own time, but also, by a kind of foreknowledge, he was able to expose heresies which would develop later. Upon the death of Patriarch St. Maximus, Cyril was chosen to be bishop in his place.

As bishop he endured many injustices and sufferings for the sake of the faith at the hands of the Arians. They could not bear his strenuous opposition to their heresy, and so they told lies about him, and drove him into exile. They were so violent against him that he fled to Tarsus in Cilicia, but eventually, with a new emperor and the death of many of his enemies, Cyril was able to return to Jerusalem, where he taught his people and led them away from false doctrine and from sin. If once wasn’t enough, he was driven into exile a second time under the Emperor Valens, but eventually peace returned to the Church, and the Arians were once again brought under control, so he was able to return again to Jerusalem. The earnestness and holiness with which he fulfilled the duties of being bishop were evident in the strength and holiness of the Church in Jerusalem.

Tradition states that God gave a sign of His divine blessing upon the spiritual leadership of Cyril by granting the apparition of a cross, brighter than the sun, which was seen by pagans and Christians alike. Another marvel happened when the Jews were commanded by the wicked Emperor Julian to restore the Temple which had been destroyed. They no sooner began the work when an earthquake happened and great balls of fire broke out of the earth and consumed the work, so that Julian and the Jews were terrified and gave up their plan. This had been clearly foretold by Cyril. He lived long enough to see the Arian heresy condemned, and he died as a beloved and holy bishop, eventually acknowledged to be a doctor of the Church.

Strengthen, O Lord, we beseech thee, the bishops of thy Church in their special calling to be teachers and ministers of the Sacraments, that they, like thy servant St. Cyril of Jerusalem, may effectively instruct thy people in Christian faith and practice; and that we, taught by them, may enter more fully into the celebration of the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lent V

O Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men: Grant unto thy people that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

St. Patrick, Apostle to the Irish

St. Patrick's Shrine at Our Lady of the Atonement Church

Almighty God, who in thy providence didst choose thy servant St. Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of thee: Grant us so to walk in that light that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

13 March 2013

His Holiness, Pope Francis


O GOD, the pastor and governour of them that put their trust in thee, look down in mercy on thy servant FRANCIS, whom thou hast chosen to be Pontiff of thy Church; grant unto him, we beseech thee, to be in word and conversation a wholesome example to the people committed to his charge, that he with them may attain at last to the crown of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

12 March 2013

All eyes...

After all the pageantry, the gorgeous music, rich vestments, devout liturgies, solemn oaths, breathtaking art...it all comes down to this: our eyes are riveted on a plain copper pipe, waiting for smoke.


11 March 2013

Video of congressmen's conversation

This is reputed to be a videotaped conversation between two congressmen discussing our nation's present financial situation...

The Holy City


Jerusalem. The remembrance of that holy city is a reminder of all that God has done. He has made holy this city with His presence from ancient days. It was in Jerusalem that the Temple was constructed. It was in Jerusalem that Christ opened the treasures of the Kingdom of God. It was in Jerusalem that our Lord was condemned and killed. And it was in Jerusalem that death was conquered for us all when Jesus Christ walked triumphantly from the tomb.

Jerusalem. It is the symbol also of our destination – that “heavenly Jerusalem” where God is enthroned, surrounded by the angels and saints, and where a place has been prepared for each one of us. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It is an earthly city torn apart by sinful man, but it is a heavenly destination, sanctified by the Perfect God.

09 March 2013

St. Frances of Rome


Lest we forget that God's plan for us is always best, just look at the life of St. Frances of Rome. She was a child born into privilege in the latter part of the 14th century, with parents who had the means to give her a very comfortable life. Young Frances was keenly aware of society's poor around her, and she had the good desire to give herself to the alleviation of their suffering by entering religious life and dedicating herself to this mission. Her parents had other ideas, and apparently so did God.

A young nobleman was selected by her family, and Frances was expected to marry him. She threw herself into prayer, asking God to deliver her from what she saw as a terrible fate. In fact, she was so persistent in this that her confessor asked her a difficult but important question: "Frances, are you really praying to do God's Will, or are you trying to make God bend to your will?"

That simple question brought about a profound change in Frances. With some reluctance, she married the young nobleman, and to her surprise the marriage turned out to be very happy. They had three children, and she found that her husband was perfectly willing for her to carry out an apostolate to the poor. In fact, she discovered that her sister-in-law had the same desire to serve, and the two were able to work together and pray together, eventually inspiring others to join in their good works. The group of women became a quasi-religious community, and when Frances was widowed she was able to go and live with them, sharing a common life of work and prayer.

Frances came to realize that God had given her far more than she had asked for. She had a happy marriage, and she was able to fulfill her desire for religious life, too. That's the way it is with God. He always gives in abundance, albeit in unexpected ways. All we need to do is follow Him in love, and pray as our Lord Himself did, "...not my will, but Thine be done."

To read the complete story of this remarkable woman, including her experience of having an angel as her constant companion, go here.

07 March 2013

St. John of God


St. John of God, was born at the end of the 15th century. He tended to be a very impulsive person, from the time he was a child. When he was prompted to do something, he usually stuck with it, no matter what – which is fine, if the prompting comes from God, but it can make life difficult if it’s something from your own imagination.

When he was only eight years old, John heard a someone talking about all the adventures there were out in the world, and so young John took it into his head to run away to seek his fortune. He never saw his parents again, but instead spent time on the road, begging his way from village to town, until he became very sick. A kind man and his family nursed him back to health, and John stayed with them, working as a shepherd until he was 27 years old. Feeling the urge to travel again, John joined the Spanish army, which was at that time in a war against France. As a soldier, he was hardly a model of holiness, taking part in the gambling, drinking, and the wild life along with his comrades. One day, he was thrown from a stolen horse near French lines. Frightened that he would be captured or killed, he reviewed his life and vowed impulsively to make a change.

He took on all sorts of physically hard work – unloading ship cargoes, building fortifications, anything he could find to earn a living. He would work hard all day, but then in the evening he would visit churches, and spend time reading spiritual books. Reading gave him so much pleasure that he decided that he should share this joy with others. He quit his job and became a book peddler, traveling from town to town selling religious books and holy cards. Finally, when he was 41 years old, he came to Granada where he sold books from a little shop.

After hearing a sermon on repentance, he was so overcome by the thought of his sins that the whole town thought he had gone crazy. After hearing the sermon John rushed back to his shop, tore up any secular books he had, gave away all his religious books and all his money. With his clothes torn and constantly crying, he was the target of insults, jokes, and even stones and mud from the townspeople and their children.

Some friends took him to a hospital for the insane. Eventually, the priest who had preached the sermon that had affected John so much, came to see him, and told him that he had gone on like this enough, so John was moved to a better part of the hospital, and where he was free to move about. Although still a patient, he began to help the other sick people around him. In fact, this experience made him decide to start his own hospital for the poor and those who had no one to care for them. He had no money for a building, so he went to the poor and homeless wherever they were – in abandoned buildings or under bridges – and he called those places his hospital. He continued to beg for money, and eventually found a very poor house which gave him a location where he could bring the sick and nurse them.

One day he heard that the hospital where he had been a patient was on fire. He immediately ran there and found that no one was doing anything. He entered the building and carried out the patients one by one, and then went back in to get as much of the contents as he could. As the fired burned more fiercely, he fell through the weakened timbers, and everyone thought he was dead – but almost miraculously, he walked out of the flames, unhurt.

John was ill himself when he heard that a flood was bringing precious driftwood near the town. He jumped out of bed to gather the wood from the raging river. Then when one of his companions fell into the river, John without thought for his illness or safety jumped in after him. He failed to save the boy and caught pneumonia. He died on March 8, his fifty-fifth birthday, of the same impulsive love that had guided his whole life.

John of God is patron saint of booksellers, printers, heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, and firefighters and is considered the founder of the Brothers Hospitallers.

O God, by whose grace thy servant St. John of God, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and a shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

06 March 2013

Ss. Perpetua & Felicity


With the lives of so many early martyrs shrouded in legend, we are fortunate to have the record of the courage of Perpetua and Felicity from the hand of Perpetua herself, her teacher Saturus, and others who knew them. This account, known as "The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity," was so popular in the early centuries that it was read during liturgies.

In the year 203, Vibia Perpetua made the decision to become a Christian, although she knew it could mean her death during Septimus' persecution. Her surviving brother (another brother had died when he was seven) followed her leadership and became a catechumen as well.

Her father was frantic with worry and tried to talk her out of her decision. We can easily understand his concern. At 22 years old, this well-educated, high-spirited woman had every reason to want to live -- including a baby son who was still nursing. We know she was married, but since her husband is never mentioned, many historians assume she was a widow.

Perpetua's answer was simple and clear. Pointing to a water jug, she asked her father, "See that pot lying there? Can you call it by any other name than what it is?" Her father answered, "Of course not." Perpetua responded, "Neither can I call myself by any other name than what I am -- a Christian."

This answer so upset her father that he attacked her. Perpetua reports that after that incident she was glad to be separated from him for a few days -- even though that separation was the result of her arrest and imprisonment. Perpetua was arrested with four other catechumens including two slaves, Felicity and Revocatus, along with Saturninus and Secundulus. Their catechist, Saturus, had already been imprisoned before them.

She was baptized before taken to prison. Perpetua was known for her gift of "the Lord's speech" and receiving messages from God. She tells us that at the time of her baptism she was told to pray for nothing but endurance in the face of her trials.

The prison was so crowded with people that the heat was suffocating. There was no light anywhere and Perpetua "had never known such darkness." The soldiers who arrested and guarded them pushed and shoved them without any concern. Perpetua had no trouble admitting she was very afraid, but in the midst of all this horror her most excruciating pain came from being separated from her baby.

The young slave, Felicity was even worse off, not only suffering from the stifling heat, overcrowding, and rough handling, but she was eight months pregnant.

Two deacons who ministered to the prisoners paid the guards so that the martyrs would be put in a better part of the prison. There her mother and brother were able to visit Perpetua and bring her baby to her. When she received permission for her baby to stay with her, she said "my prison suddenly became a palace for me." Once more her father came to her, begging her to give in, kissing her hands, and throwing himself at her feet. She told him, "We live not in our own power but in the power of God."

Meanwhile Felicity was also in torment. It was against the law for pregnant women to be executed. To kill a child in the womb was shedding innocent and sacred blood. Felicity was afraid that she would not give birth before the day set for their martyrdom and her companions would go on their journey without her. Her friends also didn't want to leave so "good a comrade" behind.

Two days before the execution, Felicity went into a painful labor. The guards made fun of her, insulting her by saying, "If you think you suffer now, how will you stand it when you face the wild beasts?" Felicity answered them calmly, "Now I'm the one who is suffering, but in the arena there will be Another with me, suffering for me, because I will be suffering for him." She gave birth to a healthy girl who was adopted and raised by one of the Christian women of Carthage.

There was a feast the day before the games so that the crowd could see the martyrs and make fun of them. But the martyrs turned this all around by laughing at the crowd for not being Christians and exhorting them to follow their example.

The four new Christians and their teacher went to the arena (the fifth, Secundulus, had died in prison) with joy and calm. Perpetua in usual high spirits met the eyes of everyone along the way. We are told she walked with "shining steps as the true spouse of Christ, the darling of God."

When those at the arena tried to force Perpetua and the rest to dress in robes dedicated to their gods, Perpetua challenged her executioners. "We came to die out of our own free will so we wouldn't lose our freedom to worship our God. We gave you our lives so that we wouldn't have to worship your gods." She and the others were allowed to keep their clothes.

The men were attacked by bears, leopards, and wild boars. The women were stripped to face a rabid heifer. When the crowd, however, saw the two young women, one of whom had obviously just given birth, they were horrified and the women were removed and clothed again. Perpetua and Felicity were thrown back into the arena so roughly that they were bruised and hurt. Perpetua, though confused and distracted, still was thinking of others and went to help Felicity up. The two of them stood side by side as all five martyrs had their throats cut.

Perpetua's last words were to her brother: "Stand fast in the faith and love one another."
O God the King of Saints, who didst strengthen thy martyrs St. Perpetua and St. Felicity to make a good confession, staunchly resisting, for the cause of Christ, the claims of human affection, and encouraging one another in their time of trial: Grant that we who cherish their blessed memory may share their pure and steadfast faith, and win with them the palm of victory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

04 March 2013

A tribute to our Pope Emeritus

For those of us of "riper years," it was difficult to get used to having Blessed John Paul II gone from us as our pope. He was the only pope I had known as a Catholic, and I found it emotionally difficult, when saying Mass, to leave his name out of the intercessions and the Canon. Although Benedict's papacy was considerably shorter, I have much the same feeling.

I know many of the students at the Academy find this difficult, too. For lots of them, Benedict is the only pope they really remember. We have a constant rotation of boys serving at the Mass for the students, and when we're having our prayers in the sacristy, at the place where we remember the Pope's intentions, I notice that they seem almost startled when we pass over that part. Of course, it won't be long before the void is once again filled, and we include a prayer for the Cardinal Electors at every Mass.

Anyway, knowing how much the students are missing Benedict, I thought it would be nice if I used that beautiful recording of the Ave Verum sung by the Upper School students, and made it into a tribute to our beloved Pope Emeritus.

video

03 March 2013

St. Casimir of Poland


St. Casimir known to the people of Poland as "The Peace-maker," was the third of the thirteen children of Casimir IV, King of Poland. Casimir was devout from the time he was a little child, and was known for his life dedicated to prayer and penance. Although he was part of the royal family, he often made his bed on the ground, and he would spend lots of the night in prayer and meditation, especially on the passion of Christ. He always wore very plain clothing, and under them he wore a hairshirt. Because he lived constantly in the presence of God, he always seemed serene and cheerful, and pleasant to everybody. He had a tremendous love of the poor, whom he saw as members of Christ's body, and he was known for giving his possessions away to relive the suffering of the poor. Throughout his life he had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and he would often recite a long and beautiful hymn to the Virgin Mother – a hymn we know in English as "Daily, daily sing to Mary."

There came the time when the noblemen of neighboring Hungary became dissatisfied with their king. In 1471 they went to King Casimir of Poland, the father of St. Casimir, to allow them to place young Casimir on the throne. At that time, Casimir hadn’t yet turned fifteen years old, and he really wanted no part of the plan, but in obedience to his father he set out towards Hungary at the head of an army. As they got closer, Casimir’s soldiers heard that the King of Hungary had assembled a large and strong army, and so Casimir’s army began to desert and go back home. Casimir had been given no money by his father or the Hungarian noblemen, so he wasn’t able to pay his soldiers to stay. It became obvious that Casimir wasn’t going to be able to march into Hungary with any kind of an army at all, so on the advice of his officers, he decided to return home to Poland. King Casimir was very angry with his son Casimir. He had wanted to see his son on the throne of Hungary, because that meant he could control that country, as well as be King of Poland. As young Casimir got closer to home, his father had troops meet him, and instead of allowing the young boy to go to his family in Cracow, instead his father imprisoned him in a dark, musty castle. Young Casimir accepted that with great patience, and let his father know that he would stay in the castle dungeon forever, before he would ever take up arms again. His father finally released him, and Casimir returned to his life of study and prayer, but his life of penance and his time in the dungeon, meant that he developed a disease of the lungs, and he died when he was only twenty-six years old. He was buried at the Church of St. Stanislaus in Vilna. Many miracles were reported at his tomb, and he was canonized in 1521.
O God, who, amidst the pleasures of a temporal kingdom, didst endue thy blessed Saint Casimir with constancy to resist all temptations: grant, we beseech thee; that, by his intercession, thy faithful people may learn to despise all things earthly, and to seek earnestly after all things heavenly; through 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.

St. Katharine Drexel


Katharine Drexel was born in Philadelphia in 1858, into a very wealthy and prominent family, which meant that she had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But her life was radically changed when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, and she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death.

She had read a book about the plight of the American Indians, and how difficult their lives were. Once, when she was on a tour of Europe, she met Pope Leo XIII and she asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming, where a family friend was the bishop. The pope said to her, "Why don't you become a missionary?" His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities.

When she returned to America, she visited the Dakota Indian tribe, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Native American missions.

She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O'Connor, she wrote in 1889, "The feast of Saint Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored." Newspaper headlines screamed "Heiress gives Up Her Millions!"

After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of African American Catholic schools in thirteen states, plus forty mission centers and twenty-three rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established fifty missions for Native Americans in sixteen states.

Two saints met when she was advised by Mother Cabrini about the "politics" of getting her order's rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first university in the United States for African Americans.

At seventy-seven, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost twenty years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at ninety-six and was canonized in 2000.
- from various sources

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. Katharine Drexel, 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.

Holy Ground


One of the moments of high drama was when Moses saw the burning bush and heard the voice of God. “Moses, Moses,” God said. And then Moses was told to “put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

Of course, we might say with Christ, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” The idea of “holy ground” has been tossed out by many, as we slid into the age of multi-purpose church buildings and horizontal architecture.

It’s clear from scripture that there is supposed to be “holy ground” set apart for God’s worship and glory. And we’re expected to treat such places as truly holy. Part of that expectation includes dressing appropriately for worship, speaking respectfully, and refraining from idle conversation when in holy places. It means having a reverent demeanor when we are in God’s House.

Let’s be careful that our churches aren't seen as little more than ecclesiastical malls, gathering places which are simply for our convenience, rather than what they really are: the very dwelling place of the Incarnate God.

01 March 2013

A new blog for you to visit...


Fr. Allan Hawkins, Pastor Emeritus of St. Mary the Virgin Church (Anglican Use) in Arlington, Texas, has a new blog, and I heartily recommend it to you. Here's the link to Salvete atque Valete, and I think you'll find it to be delightful. Fr. Hawkins has a marvelous style of writing, and he is one of the pioneers in the Anglican Use of the Pastoral Provision. Those two things combined make this a "must-read" blog!