30 April 2014

A Remarkable Program of Latin Motets


Ad Jesum per Mariam
(To Jesus through Mary)

On Sunday, May 4th, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, a program of Latin motets devoted to Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, will be presented at Our Lady of the Atonement Church.

Written for soprano, alto, and continuo, these exquisite yet rarely performed works feature compositions by Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (1602-c.1677), a cloistered Benedictine nun, and Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), a Catholic priest and one of the most influential composers in the history of music.

This is the final program in the seventh year of our Parish Music Series, and certainly an occasion not to be missed. A reception will follow in the St. John Paul II Library.

The Crusader Times


For the latest news from The Atonement Academy, read the Crusader Times at this link.

29 April 2014

A Patron Saint Proposal


I think it is accurate to say that the Ordinariates have a heavenly patron in St. John Paul II. While it is true to say that these new jurisdictions are the creation of Benedict XVI, it was St. John Paul II who first made a place for the Anglican Patrimony in the Catholic Church, and within his action the possibility of what we know as the Ordinariates is made clear.

In the Decree issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dated July 22, 1980 (Prot. N. 66/77), regarding the care of the reconciled lay Faithful and speaking of the structure of what was called the "Common Identity" of the Pastoral Provision, it is stated that "the preference expressed by the majority of the Episcopal Conference for the insertion of these reconciled Episcopalians into the diocesan structures under the jurisdiction of local Ordinaries is recognized." There was no juridical reason to go further. However, it did. This important sentence immediately followed in the Decree:
"Neverthless, the possibility of some other type of structure as provided for by canonical dispositions, and as suited to the needs of the group, is not excluded."

With that statement the spade began turning the soil, preparing the ground for Anglicanorum Coetibus. We should not forget the important place St. John Paul II has occupied in all this from the very beginning.

I hope there will be a movement among the Faithful of the Ordinariates to petition the Holy See to name the great St. John Paul II as an official patron saint for them. He was the first to give our Patrimony an honoured place in the Church, and it was his own trusted and beloved successor who brought to fruition "the possibility of some other type of structure..."

Sancte Ioannes Paule, ora pro nobis.

25 April 2014

My morning with a saint...


The canonization of Pope John Paul II brings to mind one of the most amazing events of my life -- a morning which included a personal encounter with a saint of the Holy Catholic Church. I have shared the story before, but his canonization compels me to share it again.

It was in November of 1983 that I was in Rome, taking part in the meetings which would result in the Book of Divine Worship, which serves as the foundation of the Anglican Use liturgy used by the parishes of the Ordinariates and the Pastoral Provision.

It was my first time in Rome. I had been ordained as a Catholic priest only a few months before. They were rather heady days for a young priest, walking each morning from the Casa del Clero to the Vatican offices where we were working.

On my first morning in Rome, I needed to find an altar where I could say Mass. There was a concelebrated Mass at the Casa, but I was ready for an adventure, so I headed on foot to St. Peter’s Basilica. I knew I needed to get there early, and I knew I should head immediately to the sacristy. Beyond that, I was completely ignorant about making arrangements for celebrating Mass there.

Arriving in the sacristy, and after being overwhelmed by my walk through the basilica, I was fortunate that the man at the desk was patient (and by Vatican standards, even somewhat merciful). He directed me to the vesting area, summoned an altar boy for me, and before long I was following the young server down the long corridor out into the basilica.

In my mind I can still hear the murmur of Masses being said at altar after altar, some with small congregations, others with a solitary priest. Eventually I was taken to one of the many side altars, and I began the celebration of the Mass, my first in Rome.

It was strangely comforting to hear the low hum of the other Masses proceeding, as I made my way through the liturgy. Everything seemed to be at a concentrated level as I began the Eucharistic prayer. At the consecration of the Host, when I genuflected, my eyes happened to catch the inscription on the front of the altar: S. Gregorius Magnus. It was overwhelming for me as I continued with the Mass, knowing that I was celebrating Holy Mass at the tomb of Pope St. Gregory, who had sent St. Augustine to England.

After Mass, as I made my way out of the basilica, reality returned with the work at hand. All of us serving on the special commission spent a brief time getting to know one another, and the discussions began. Although I threw myself into the work, and felt the excitement of participating in something historic, the recurring thought came to me that I would very much like to attend the upcoming Wednesday general audience with the Pope. It was a few days before that when I began to drop subtle hints, but the work was keeping us very busy. One of the kindly bishops also serving in the group knew what I was thinking, and he spoke to me during one of our breaks. He expressed his regret that our work would keep me occupied during the Wednesday audience, and then he said something which seemed rather mysterious. “On Thursday morning, if you will be in the Piazza San Pietro just to the right of the obelisk at 5:00 a.m., there will be a surprise for you,” he said.

I couldn’t imagine what he meant, but I was there by 4:00 a.m. because I could hardly sleep with the anticipation of this mystifying appointment I was keeping. It was still dark as I was saying the rosary, with the moon hanging over St. Peter’s Basilica, and when 5:00 a.m. came, I caught sight of a sliver of artificial light coming from an opening door off to my right. Being summoned to the open door by a guard, a most wonderful pilgrimage began at the bottom of a long flight of stairs.

I still was unaware of what was waiting for me – perhaps a glimpse of some great art treasure, I thought, or maybe a private visit to the basilica – whatever it was to be, it was still a mystery to me. We reached a landing on the staircase, and entered an elevator. The elevator went up a few floors and then stopped. When we exited, we were asked to turn to the right and go down another corridor. After walking several yards, I happened to glance to my left through some open doors. The mystery was solved.

There in front of me was the Holy Father’s private chapel. A familiar white-cassocked figure was kneeling before the altar, and the realization of where I was nearly took my breath away. After being escorted into the sacristy, I was told to vest for Mass. My mind was in a blur as I put on the vestments, and when I was ready I was taken to my place in the papal chapel, which was at a kneeler right next to the Holy Father himself.

There were only a few of us there – the Sisters who served in the papal household, a couple of priests, and a bishop. We spent a good deal of time in silent prayer before the Mass began, and at first I was distracted by the thought that I was kneeling immediately next to the Vicar of Christ. Soon, however, the Holy Spirit took over and I found that I was able to enter deeply into prayer. From time to time a deep sigh would come from the Holy Father, and I was reminded of St. Paul’s words to the Romans, when he wrote about “sighs too deep for words.”

After a time of prayer, it was time for the Mass to begin. The Pope’s vestments had been laid on the altar, and after he was vested we began the liturgy. I remained at my place during the Liturgy of the Word, but after the gifts were prepared at the Offertory, I joined the Holy Father at the altar. At the time of Holy Communion, he held the paten from which I received a portion of the Host, and when he had received from the chalice he passed it to me. Certainly every time we receive Holy Communion it is a special encounter with God, but I must say that it was a unique experience for me to receive the Body and Blood of Christ while standing next to the Vicar of Christ, having concelebrated with him in his own chapel.

At the conclusion of the Mass, we spent a good amount of time in thanksgiving. It was once again my privilege to kneel next to the Holy Father for this, and I had much for which to be thankful – but there would be more.

Having been escorted to a reception room, there was now the opportunity to speak briefly with the Pope. When I was presented to him, he took my hands in his, and then made what could only be described as an extraordinary statement. “I know you,” he said to me. The puzzled look on my face, and my faltering question, “How, Holy Father…?” prompted him to continue. He went on to describe how my dossier had been given to him. Because mine was the first case of a married former Episcopal priest to be considered for the position of being the canonical pastor of a parish (rather than simply a parish administrator or chaplain) it was decided that such approval should be reserved to the Pope himself, rather than simply being processed through the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith as others were.

With my eyes widening, Pope John Paul II described to me how my dossier was placed on his desk. He then told me how he had some uncertainty about approving a married man as an actual pastor, so he placed the dossier in his desk drawer. He then got it out again, only to put it back in the drawer. “Finally,” he said, “I once more put it on my desk, and I prayed, and the Holy Spirit told me to say ‘yes’.”

Surely that must count as the most astonishing thing I had ever heard, that the Vicar of Christ was having a conversation about me with the Holy Spirit, Who then directed him to give his approval for my ordination and appointment as pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Church. If I hadn’t heard the story from the lips of the Pope himself, I would never have believed such a thing.

When I regained my voice, I asked the Holy Father if I could take his blessing back to my family and to the people of the parish. He threw his arms around me and drew me close while he said, “With all of my heart, I bless you and your people!” And what a blessing that has been throughout the years.

After all this, it is hardly possible to imagine there would be more, but there was yet another “once in a life-time” experience that morning. The Pope called upon one of the priests in his household to take me to “the chapel.” This confused me, because we had just come from his private chapel; however, I dutifully followed the priest, and we went off in a completely different direction down a long corridor, until we came to a large set of doors. He unlocked them and directed me in, saying to me, “Take as long as you like. I’ll wait for you out here.” He then shut the doors and left me alone without telling me where I was. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dim light, and as I looked around me I immediately knew where I was standing – it was in the Sistine Chapel.

The unexpected experience of being in a place so famous was, for a moment, disorienting. To look up at the magnificent ceiling (even though it was before the restoration), and to be able to explore the chapel all by myself, thinking about the papal elections which had taken place there - including the election of the Pope with whom I had just concelebrated the Holy Mass - was overwhelming. I spent quite a bit of time taking it all in, offering thanks to God for such a blessed experience, and then I remembered the priest outside the door, patiently waiting for me.

He helped me find my way back to the stairs which I had climbed earlier that morning, and when I went through the doors leading into Piazza San Pietro, it was filled with the usual bustle of a day in Rome. It was all I could do to stop myself from rushing up to the first person I saw and asking him to guess where I’d just been! Instead, I headed across the Piazza to the office where we were working on the Book of Divine Worship, and I continued on the project which was the reason for my being there.

It had been quite a morning. Now all I can say is, "St. John Paul II, pray for us."

Friday in the Easter Octave


After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberas; and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any fish?" They answered him, "No." He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

-John 21:1-14

O God, who hast united the diversity of nations in the confession of thy Name: grant that they who are born again in the font of Baptism, may be of one mind in faith and in godliness of life; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

24 April 2014

Thursday in the Easter Octave


Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Then he said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

-Luke 24:35-48

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal Mystery hast established the new covenant of reconciliation: grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

23 April 2014

Wednesday in the Easter Octave


Read St. Luke 24:13-35

"And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."

On the road to Emmaus, we notice where Jesus directs the attention of the disciples. Not to themselves. Not to their personal experiences or subjective feelings. He directs them to the revelation of Almighty God. Jesus opens up the Scriptures for them and beginning with the words of Moses and going all the way through the prophets, He shows how His death and resurrection form the rhythm of the Scriptures from the very start.

That's how Jesus turns stubborn hearts that are slow to believe into hearts that burn with faith in Him -- it's through the Scriptures that are preached and taught in their fullness by the Church which Jesus Christ has founded. If our hearts are slow to believe and our minds are dull in the knowledge of God, we have only ourselves to blame for not listening to God’s Word as it’s taught to us by our Holy Mother the Church.

See what the Gospel then tells us. Although their hearts were burning, their eyes were not yet opened. Jesus pretends to go on, but the disciples insist that He join them for supper. It was nearing the end of the day, and evening was coming. They enjoin Him to remain for supper.

Although Jesus was their guest, He sits at the head of the table. He takes the bread, He blesses and breaks it, and He gives it to them. It is an echo of the last meal that Jesus had with His apostles on the night in which He was betrayed. Here again is Jesus, breaking bread. And St. Luke tells us that "their eyes were opened and they recognized Him." In the breaking of the Bread, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus is recognized and known.

O God, whose blessed Son did manifest himself to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open, we pray thee, the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; 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.

22 April 2014

Tuesday in the Easter Octave


Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

- St. John 20:11-18


O God, who by the glorious resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.

21 April 2014

Monday in the Easter Octave


So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Hail!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me." While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers and said, "Tell people, `His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.' And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So they took the money and did as they were directed; and this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

- St. Matthew 28:8-15

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with reverence the Paschal feast may be found worthy to attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

20 April 2014

Easter Sunday

The High Altar, Easter Sunday

Almighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

19 April 2014

A hymn for Eastertide...


God our Father, Lord of glory,
Thanks and praise we give to Thee;
In Thy mercy to our fathers,
Thou didst bring them through the sea.
So by water hast Thou saved us,
Now from Adam's sin set free.

Jesus Christ, our Risen Saviour,
Of Thy sacrifice we sing;
As the lamb in ancient myst'ry
To Thy people life didst bring,
So in Eucharistic glory,
Thou, God's Lamb, art made our King.

Holy Spirit, Breath from heaven,
We Thy precious gifts embrace;
At creation all things living
Thou didst sanctify with grace.
So may we, creation's glory,
Be for Thee a dwelling place.

Loving mercy of the Father,
Sacrifice of Christ the Son,
Quick'ning power of the Spirit:
In us let Thy work be done!
May we rise to life eternal,
That our Paschal joy be won.


Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips
Tune: "St. Thomas" 8.7.8.7.8.7

18 April 2014

Good Friday

After the Solemn Liturgy, the Blessed Sacrament having been removed from the Altar of Repose, the Relic of the True Cross is put in its place.


And so Good Friday ends.

17 April 2014

Video: Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

Here's the video of Maundy Thursday morning's Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, with the faculty and students of The Atonement Academy. You will also hear a gorgeous anthem sung by the Academy's Honors Choir.

16 April 2014

Tenebrae

With the conclusion of the Spy Wednesday Mass, all will be made 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 more than 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.

15 April 2014

Malice Aforethought


"Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." And so Judas Iscariot did.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times." And so Simon Peter did.

What was different between Peter and Judas? Judas deliberately betrayed the Lord. Peter, in a moment of weakness and cowardice, denied Him.

Most of us would see the difference between hurting someone because of carelessness or thoughtlessness, as opposed to plotting something behind someone’s back, actually planning to do something hurtful, or even to trying get revenge on someone.

Certainly in both cases, someone ends up being hurt. But isn’t it preferable to be like Peter, who never meant to do what he did, who acted impulsively but who was able to repent; rather than carrying out purposeful treachery and betrayal, as Judas did? The Gospel tells us that Jesus had even given a special sign affection to Judas that night, but it was then that Judas fully cooperated with Satan, leaving the Upper Room and going off to pursue the evil act he had been planning.

Satan does things like that. If the devil can plant cruelty and hatred in us, it allows him to ruin lives and twist us into doing hurtful things. Tomorrow is Spy Wednesday. It’s a reminder that we have to be on our guard lest Satan turn us from the love of God and from the path which God has chosen for us, and send us off into things which are bad for us - paths which can destroy relationships and which bring hurt and unhappiness into our lives and the lives of others. Peter repented, and went on to serve Christ as the greatest of the apostles and the Rock on which the Church was built; whereas Judas saw the mess he had made, gave in to despair, and hanged himself.

It's not a very difficult choice for us to make...is it?

11 April 2014

Palm Sunday


The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
will be celebrated at
7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
(There will be the blessing and distribution of palms at each Mass)

Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

07 April 2014

Holy Week and Easter Schedule


April 13th – SUNDAY OF THE PASSION (Palm Sunday)
Masses at 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 6:00 p.m. (Latin)
Blessing and Distribution of the Palms at all Masses

April 14th – MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK
Masses at 7:00 a.m. and 9:20 a.m.

April 15th – TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK
Masses at 7:00 a.m. and 9:20 a.m.

April 16th – SPY WEDNESDAY
Masses at 7:00 a.m. and 9:20 a.m.
The Office of Tenebrae at 7:00 p.m.
(Confessions following, beginning approx. 8:40 p.m.)

April 17th – MAUNDY THURSDAY
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 9:20 a.m.
Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 p.m.
Followed by the Office of Tenebrae and the All-Night Vigil in the Sacred Heart Chapel
(The Vigil will begin at 9:00 p.m. on Maundy Thursday, and will end at 3:00 p.m. on Good Friday)
On Maundy Thursday evening there will be child care available in the school building, 6:45 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

April 18th – GOOD FRIDAY
Solemn Liturgy at 3:00 PM
Stations of the Cross and the Office of Tenebrae at 7:00 p.m.
On Good Friday there will be child care available in the school building, 2:40 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

April 19th – HOLY SATURDAY
The Great Vigil of the Resurrection at 8:00 p.m.

April 20th – EASTER SUNDAY, The Sunday of the Resurrection
Masses at 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
THERE WILL BE NO 6:00 P.M. MASS ON EASTER DAY
On Easter Day there will be child care available in the school building, 8:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

06 April 2014

St. John Baptist de La Salle

St. John Baptist de La Salle was born at Rheims in 1651, became a member of the cathedral chapter at Rheims when he was sixteen, and was ordained a priest in 1678. Soon after ordination he was put in charge of a girls' school, and in 1679 he met Adrian Nyel, a layman who wanted to open a school for boys. Two schools were started, and Canon de la Salle became interested in the work of education. He took an interest in the teachers, eventually invited them to live in his own house, and tried to train them in the educational system that was forming in his mind. This first group ultimately left, unable to grasp what the saint had in mind; others, however, joined him, and the beginnings of the Brothers of the Christian Schools were begun.

Seeing a unique opportunity for good, Canon de La Salle resigned his canonry, gave his inheritance to the poor, and began to organize his teachers into a religious congregation. Soon, boys from his schools began to ask for admission to the Brothers, and the founder set up a juniorate to prepare them for their life as religious teachers. At the request of many pastors, he also set up a training school for teachers, first at Rheims, then at Paris, and finally at St.-Denis. Realizing that he was breaking entirely new ground in the education of the young, John Baptist de la Salle wrote books on his system of education, opened schools for tradesmen, and even founded a school for the nobility, at the request of King James of England.

The congregation had a tumultuous history, and the setbacks that the founder had to face were many; but the work was begun, and he guided it with rare wisdom. In Lent of 1719, he grew weak, met with a serious accident, and died on Good Friday. He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1900, and Pope Pius XII proclaimed him patron of schoolteachers.

Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints, Rev. Clifford Stevens

O God, who for the Christian education of the poor, and for the confirmation of the young in the way of truth, didst raise up the holy Confessor John Baptist de la Salle, and through him didst gather a new family in the Church: graciously grant that by his intercession and example we, being kindled with zeal for thy glory in the salvation of souls, may be enabled to be made partakers of his crown in heaven; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

04 April 2014

St. Vincent Ferrer


Excerpted from The Saints, edited by John Coulson:
St. Vincent Ferrer's father was an Englishman, who had been knighted after success in battle. On February 5th, 1367, having completed his studies in philosophy, Vincent became a Dominican. He was moved to Barcelona in the next year, and in 1370 became lecturer in philosophy at the Dominican house in Lerida. In 1373, when he returned to Barcelona to the 'Studium Arabicum et Hebraicum', he was already a famous public preacher.

In 1377 he was sent to Toulouse for further study; there he attracted the attention of the Legate of the future Avignon antipope, Cardinal Pedro de Luna, whose suite he joined, being himself a strong advocate of the claims of the Avignon popes as against those of Rome. He preached a great deal, particularly to Jews and Moors, and converted a rabbi of Valladolid, who, later became Bishop Paul of Burgos, and associated with St. Vincent in his strenuous and successful attempts to convert the Jews of Spain.

Disillusioned in his attempts to heal the schism between Rome and Avignon, St. Vincent saw a vision of our Lord standing between St. Dominic and St. Francis, commissioning him directly to go about preaching penance. He was released by Benedict XIII in November 1399 to do this, and continued his preaching and wandering throughout western Europe until his death, being followed by a crowd of penitents and flagellants which varied from 300 to 10,000. He was in Aragon when the throne became vacant and with his brother, Boniface, a Carthusian, was instrumental in choosing Ferdinand of Castille as prince.

In 1416 he withdrew his own allegiance and that of the kingdom of Aragon from Benedict XIII, because the Avignon antipope had made no serious attempt to heal the schism and had refused the request made by the council of Constance that he should resign in order to make possible a new and undisputed election to the papacy. St. Vincent's decision had the effect of deposing Benedict and of making possible an end to the schism. St. Vincent died on April 5th, 1419, at Vannes in Brittany, where his relics are venerated. He was canonized by Pope Calixtus II in 1455.


O God, who didst vouchsafe to enlighten thy Church with the merits and preaching of St. Vincent Ferrer thy holy Confessor: grant unto us thy servants that we, learning in all things to follow his example, may by his advocacy be defended against all adversities; 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.

03 April 2014

St. Isidore of Seville


St. Isidore of Seville was born into a family of saints in Spain in the sixth century. Two of his brothers, Leander and Fulgentius, and one of his sisters, Florentina, are revered as saints in Spain. His two brothers served as bishops and his sister was an abbess.

But it’s not always easy to live with saints. In fact, although Isidore’s brother Leander is venerated as a saint today, the way he treated his younger brother Isidore was shocking, even to people who lived at that time. Leander, who was much older than Isidore, took over Isidore's education and Leander’s idea of education involved force and and lots of punishment. We know from Isidore's later accomplishments that he was very intelligent and hard-working, so it’s difficult to understand why Leander thought abuse would work instead of patience. One day, the young Isidore couldn't take any more. He was frustrated by his inability to learn as fast as his brother wanted him to, and he was hurt by his brother's treatment, so Isidore ran away. As he stopped to rest, he noticed water dripping on a rock near where he sat. He noticed that the small drops of water that were falling weren’t very forceful, and seemed to have no effect on the solid stone. And yet he saw that over time, the water drops had worn holes in the rock.

He took this as an important lesson. Isidore realized that if he kept working at his studies, bit by bit his small efforts would eventually pay off in great learning. He also wanted his brother Leander to see that he was really trying, so he went back. When he returned home, his brother wasn’t any more understanding or any more kind than he had ever been, and in fact Leander sent Isidore off to a monastery where he was confined to a cell so he wouldn’t run away again, and there he was to continue his studies.

Either there must have been a loving side to this fraternal relationship, or Isidore was remarkably forgiving even for a saint, because later he would work side by side with his brother and after Leander's death, Isidore took his place as the bishop of Seville, and would complete many of the projects his brother had started.

In a time where everybody wants to blame the past hurts for their present problems, Isidore didn’t fall into that trap. He was able to separate the abusive way he was taught from the joy of learning. He didn't run from learning after he left his brother but embraced education and made it his life's work. Isidore rose above his past to become known as the greatest teacher in Spain.

His love of learning made him promote the establishment of a seminary in every diocese of Spain. He didn't limit his own studies, nor did he want limitations on others. In a unique move, he made sure that all branches of knowledge including the arts and medicine were taught in the seminaries.

His encyclopedia of knowledge, the Etymologies, was a popular textbook for nine centuries. He also wrote books on grammar, astronomy, geography, history, and biography as well as theology. In fact, the great breadth of Isidore’s learning meant that Pope John Paul II named him Patron of the Internet.

He lived until almost 80. As he was dying his house was filled with crowds of poor to whom he was giving aid and alms. One of his last acts was to give all his possessions to the poor. When he died in 636, this Doctor of the Church had done more than his brother had ever hoped; the light of his learning caught fire in Spanish minds and held back barbarism from Spain. But even greater than his outstanding mind must have been the genius of his heart that allowed him to see beyond rejection and discouragement to joy and possibility.

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. Isidore of Seville, 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.

Sub tuum praesidium


Under thy protection
we seek refuge,
Holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions
in our needs,
but from all dangers
deliver us always,
O Virgin Glorious and Blessed.


(Image: Our Lady of Lourdes, a statue in the church courtyard, in the early morning.)

01 April 2014

St. Francis of Paola

It would be ungrateful of me if I neglected to pay homage to St. Francis of Paola on this, his feast day. He is, in a sense, one of our parish patrons, since we were meeting in the Church of San Francesco di Paola when our parish was canonically erected in 1983.

This is the Italian parish in San Antonio, founded by immigrants from the Calabria region of Italy, dedicated to their local and beloved saint. The 15th century founder of the Franciscan Minims, St. Francis of Paola was one of the great and holy hermits in the history of the Church. He was given the task by the Pope to prepare King Louis XI of France for a holy death.

The story of this Calabrian saint couldn't be much further from our Anglican roots, but nonetheless he was a great spiritual patron to us in our early days, and I look forward each year to offering the Mass in his honor.

Here is a picture of the church dedicated to him here in San Antonio.


It was our spiritual home for the first few years of our existence, and those of us who were part of those "early days" remember with fondness and with gratitude the hospitality we were shown.