25 November 2014

The Academy Honors Choir sings...

The Atonement Academy Honors Choir sings "Let the People Praise Thee, O God" by William Mathias (composed for the marriage of HRH The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer). The link is here.

24 November 2014

St. Catherine of Alexandria


The account of the life and death of St. Catherine of Alexandria was recorded by Eusebius in about the year 320, just a few years after her martyrdom. Eusebius was the Bishop of Caesarea and is known as the "father of Church history."

Catherine was born of into a noble family of Alexandria, and from childhood she had devoted herself to study. Through her reading she had learned a great deal about Christianity, and was subsequently converted after being given a vision of Our Lady and the Holy Child Jesus.

When the Emperor Maxentius began his persecution against the Church, Catherine went to him and gave him a firm rebuke for his cruelty, after which she told him about Christ and the Gospel. The emperor could not answer her arguments against his pagan gods, so he gathered together fifty philosophers to argue against her. Quite the opposite happened, and they were won over by her reasoning. When the emperor learned that they all had become Christians, he had them burned to death.

He then tried to seduce Catherine with an offer to be his consort. She refused him, so he had her beaten and imprisoned. The Emperor went off to inspect his military forces, but when he returned he discovered that his wife Faustina and one of his high officials had been visiting Catherine and had been converted, along with the soldiers of the guard. They too were put to death, and Catherine was sentenced to be killed on a spiked wheel. As soon as her body touched the instrument of torture, the wheel broke into pieces. That did not stop her martyrdom, however, because the emperor ordered that she be taken to a place of execution, where she was beheaded.

St. Catherine of Alexandria could just as well be called St. Catherine the Brilliant because of her intellect and wisdom, along with her ability to explain the Catholic faith with great conviction. As many in her day discovered, to hear her expound upon the Gospel meant almost certainly that those who listened would be converted to follow Christ.

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

23 November 2014

Holy Martyrs of Vietnam


The Martyrs of Vietnam consist of 117 who died for the Faith. Although the martyrdoms did not take place at the same time, they were all canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 19, 1988.

Within this group, 96 were Vietnamese, 11 were Spaniards, and 10 were French. There were 8 bishops, 50 priests and 59 lay Catholics. Certain individual martyrs were mentioned by name in the process of canonization: Andrew Dung-Lac, a diocesan priest; Thomas Tran-Van-Thien, a seminarian; Emmanuel Le-Van-Pung, the father of a family; Jerome Hermosilla and Valentine Berrio-Ochoa, both bishops; and John Theophane Venard.

O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before thee St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his Companions, the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

22 November 2014

Christ the King


The Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, was dragged before a minor earthly ruler, Pilate, and was asked the question, “Are you a king, then?” It was a simple question, and yet so fertile. As a seed bursting with the beginning of life when it falls into good soil is able to produce a harvest beyond imagining, so Christ’s answer to Pilate's question (if it had been met with some glimmer of grace, some hint of human charity) might have lifted the life of that petty potentate into the upper reaches of God’s glory, for our Lord told him “My kingdom is not of this world...” But that, Pilate could not grasp, and so instead has been immortalized with the phrase, “...suffered under Pontius Pilate...” which describes the death of the King he could never understand. We, however, have been given to know that kingdom “not of this world,” and so have been spared the blindness which afflicted Pilate. In the cross we see a throne; in the thorns we see a crown; in the wounded side we see a gateway to Christ’s kingdom, which is eternal.

21 November 2014

St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr


St. Cecilia is one of several martyrs in the early Church who were young girls, and very serious about their faith. Cecilia was of noble birth. At an early age, she dedicated her life to God with a vow that she wouldn’t marry, but would give herself completely to Christ. However, her family wanted her to marry, and she was engaged to a young nobleman named Valerian. On her wedding day, she prayed to the Lord and asked Him to help Valerian to understand that she couldn’t live with him as his wife. History records, "The day on which the wedding was to be held arrived and while musical instruments were playing she was singing in her heart to God alone saying: Make my heart and my body pure that I may not be confounded." St. Cecilia's prayers were answered, and Valerian understood the importance of her vow to God. In fact, not only did he accept it, but he and his brother Tiburtius were both converted to the Christian faith, and were baptized.

At this time, Christianity was still illegal in Rome. Both Valerian and his brother Tiburtius were soon discovered to be Christians, and they were martyred. Cecilia was discovered soon after, and she was condemned to death. It required two attempts, however, before the death of Cecilia was successful. She was first locked in a bath in her own home to be suffocated by the steam. When she emerged from the bath unharmed, she was then beheaded. The stroke of the axe failed to sever her head from her body, however, and she lived for three days. During this time, she saw to the disbursment of her assets to help the poor, and she donated her home to be used as a church, and there is a great church on that site to this day, which bears her name. When Cecilia finally died, she was buried in the Catacombs of Callixtus. In the 9th century Pope Paschal I had St. Cecilia's remains unearthed from the catacombs and reported that her body was incorrupt and that her hands signaled the Trinity, with one extending three fingers and the other a single finger.
Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose those whom the world deemeth powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of thy youthful martyr St. Cecilia, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Presentation of Mary in the Protoevangelium of James

"The Presentation of the Virgin" 1504-08, by Vittore Carpaccio.

The Protoevangelium of James is one of several non-canonical documents originating in the early centuries of the Church. This "gospel," which is incorrectly attributed to James, the foster-brother of our Lord, actually dates from the mid-3rd century. It has value for us because it gathers together many traditions, especially concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary, which were known and accepted by members of the early Church, but which are not found in the canonical Scriptures.

From the Protoevangelium of James, n.7:
"And the child was two years old, and Joachim said: Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may pay the vow that we have vowed, lest perchance the Lord send to us, and our offering be not received. And Anna said: Let us wait for the third year, in order that the child may not seek for father or mother. And Joachim said: So let us wait. And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified thy name in all generations. In thee, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of lsrael. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her."

20 November 2014

The Presentation of Mary


St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, had prayed for a child, and part of their prayer was the promise that they would dedicate their child to the service of God. Little did they know at that time what great service would be given by their infant daughter.

When Mary reached the age of three, her parents fulfilled their vow. Together with their family and friends, they took her to the Temple. The High Priest and other Temple priests greeted the procession, and tradition says that the child was brought before the fifteen high steps which led to the sanctuary. It is said that the child Mary made her way to the stairs and, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, ascended all fifteen steps, coming to the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could enter. Tradition then says that the High Priest, acting outside every rule he knew, led the Holy Virgin into the Holy of Holies, astonishing everyone present in the Temple. So it was that she, whose own womb would become the Holy of Holies, came into the presence of the God Whom she would bear.

St. Joachim and St. Anne returned to their home, but the Handmaid of the Lord remained in the Temple until her espousal, where she was prepared by God and protected by angels.

O God, who on this day didst vouchsafe that blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost, should be presented in the Temple: Grant, we beseech thee; that by her intercession we may be found worthy to be presented unto thee in the temple of thy glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

19 November 2014

Word from Cardinal Müller...


A letter was sent to us from Bishop Kevin Vann, Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, informing us that His Eminence, Gerhard Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has communicated that “the Congregation grants permission for the parishes of the Pastoral Provision to use Divine Worship: Occasional Services.  It is envisioned that the Divine Worship Missal for the celebration of Mass will be complete and promulgated… and you may expect that a similar permission will be granted to the Pastoral Provision parishes for the Missal as well.”

The Occasional Services include the Rites of Baptism and Holy Matrimony, as well as Burial of the Dead.  The Vatican has entrusted the preparation and printing of the ritual books to the Catholic Truth Society in London (www.ctsbooks.org).  The latest word is that the Missal will be ready sometime in 2015, perhaps in the first quarter. 

The material contained Divine Worship is a revision of the Book of Divine Worship (which we now use), and is the product of many months of work by the interdicasterial commission whose task it was to identify Anglican liturgical patrimony, incorporating it into Catholic worship.  We are grateful to His Eminence and the Congregation for providing for us with the liturgical textual continuity which has been the hallmark of our parish worship for some thirty years.

We will begin incorporating the Occasional Services during the Advent Season.  As the date for the new Missal’s official promulgation approaches, we will highlight some of the changes in the bulletin to prepare the congregation.  The alterations, many of which had been requested originally in 1983, are worthy additions and we look forward to incorporating them in our parish worship. 

Lamb Divine, Saviour King


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


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


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


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


Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips, 1990
Music: "Lucerna Laudoniæ" by David Evans (1874-1948)

St. Edmund, King and Martyr

On November 20th we commemorate St. Edmund, King and Martyr, who lived in the 9th century. He was the king of East Anglia, an independent kingdom within the confederation of kingdoms which comprised England at that time. His name, Edmund, meant “noble protection,” and as an earthly king he certainly lived up to his name. He had a reputation for compassion and the protection of the weak, of widows and of orphans. His greatest challenge, however, was the invasion of his kingdom by the Danish Vikings. They weren’t complete foreigners to the people of East Anglia. They were of the same race, and in fact, their languages were so similar that they were able to understand one another. No, there was only one essential difference between the Danish Vikings and the English - the Vikings were heathens, and the English were Christians.

The Vikings attacked and destroyed churches and monasteries, homes and villages, all throughout the kingdom. King Edmund fought side by side with the great Christian King Alfred. Edmund did his best, but he was finally overwhelmed by the huge numbers of Danes. At Hoxne in the north of Suffolk, King Edmund was captured. The Danes made him an offer: he could renounce his faith and become a puppet-king under them, or he could die. For King Edmund that was no choice at all. He would never renounce his Catholic faith, and so he chose death. There is an eyewitness report from that time, and it tells how he was scourged and bound, then tied to an oak-tree where the Danes fired arrows at him as for target practice. Finally, after suffering immensely from his many wounds, King Edmund was beheaded. His body was thrown to the wild beasts, but his loyal subjects secretly found his body, entombed him in a small chapel, and there he rested among his people. As they sought his heavenly intercession, God sent blessings upon them, and Edmund continued to be king in their hearts, as their faith in Christ the King grew stronger and stronger.

O God of ineffable mercy, thou didst give grace and fortitude to St. Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for thy Name: Bestow on us thy servants, we beseech thee, the shield of faith, wherewith we may withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

18 November 2014

Parable of the Talents

This is the sermon from the XXII Sunday after Trinity, the 33rd Sunday of the Year. It looks at the scripture readings for the day: Proverbs, St. Paul's First Epistle to the Thessalonians, and culminating in St. Matthew's record of Christ's Parable of the Talents. You may listen to the sermon at this link.

17 November 2014

Dedication of Ss. Peter and Paul


Almighty and eternal Father, who out of the living stones of thy chosen people hast made a temple meet for thy glory; Multiply, we beseech thee, thy blessings upon the Church, that thy faithful people may draw ever closer to the new and heavenly Jerusalem; 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.

16 November 2014

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Elizabeth lived in the 13th century, and she was a princess, the daughter of the King of Hungary. She married the young man she had loved for as long as she could remember, Ludwig of Thuringia, and their life together was blessed with three children. St. Elizabeth took seriously her duties as wife and mother, and because of her deep love for Christ, she took seriously also her duty toward the poor. She embraced the words of our Lord, “Whatever you do to the least of these, you have done it to me.” She put herself at the service of widows and orphans, she cared for the sick and the needy. Her life was really an expression of her deep love – love for God, love for her husband and children, and love for those who had no one else to love them. Hers was a very beautiful life, and no doubt she would have liked it to go on like that forever.

But sometimes, things can change dramatically – we might not understand why, but it’s always for God’s purpose. St. Elizabeth experienced an especially painful change in her life when her husband, whom she so deeply loved, went off to the Crusades, and there he was killed. Elizabeth was devastated – and not only was she sorrowing for the death of her husband, but her husband’s family, who never approved of her charitable works, cast her and her children out of the family home, and left her with no means of support.

Here was Elizabeth, a princess and the widow of a nobleman, reduced to poverty, wandering with her children for a place to live, until a poor man whom she had helped previously was able to offer her shelter in an abandoned pig sty. Her faith sustained her – not only was she not bitter, but she put in even more effort to caring for the poor, with a renewed feeling for them, since she and her children were now counted among them. She supported herself and her children, as well as her works of charity, by spinning wool and making cloth to sell. She exhausted herself, and was only 24 years old when she died. Her feast day is November 16th.

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

14 November 2014

Building for the future...



THE ATONEMENT ACADEMY COLLEGE PREPARATORY

AUTUMN 2014 REPORT

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE

The Atonement Academy is the single most important apostolate of our parish. As the people of God, we support pro-life efforts because we teach the sanctity of human life in our classrooms. Together, we support the dignity of the human person and the truth about Christ by teaching children the Catholic faith in its entirety. Together, we are changing the future of the Church and the world through our children. From its small beginning in 1994, The Atonement Academy has grown to be a regional attraction for students, drawing them from over 25 zip codes and four counties surrounding Bexar County. We have developed a positive reputation even beyond our borders, too. Almost six percent of our population are carefully-selected international students from Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines, who bring a charm all their own and uniquely contribute to our strong Catholic and classical culture. We are a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and twice the recipient of the Cardinal Newman Society’s Honor Roll of Top Catholic High Schools in the nation. Here’s one of the reasons: our average SAT score in Math and English is 1129 for our junior class. Our seniors’ average is 1138. By comparison, Northside ISD averages 972 in Math and Reading; Texas SAT average is 976.

Our recognition has put a strain on our existing classrooms. At 570 students this academic year, (almost identical to our enrollment in the last three years), The Atonement Academy is at capacity in the current building, so the need to expand our classrooms is a necessary one, which we are doing! After years of planning, we are excited that construction has begun on our 117,000 sq. ft. expansion. This time last year, we were making earnest preparations for “Phase 1 and 2” of the expansion plan, which involved the construction of 19 new classrooms and four science labs, plus a dining hall, two practice gymnasiums, more offices and site preparations which include additional parking. We’ve revised our site plan and goal since the short 2010 Capital Campaign, making the design more cost-effective without sacrificing the needed classroom space. Because of your generosity, we have continued to revise our plans and have elected to build the entire complex, including the auditorium shell, though it will not be finished-out when construction is completed. Although we are doing well in our financial goals, your ongoing participation as a tithing member of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church is vital to the success of our expansion and the overall well-being of our parish. Unlike other parishes who lack schools, and have no interest in supporting one or establishing one, we’ve chosen another path – one in which we think the Church urgently needs in this age: a well-educated, well-informed and faithful generation of young people.

Here’s where we are and here’s how we’re going it with God’s blessings…

Our current financial position is healthy for both the church and school. The church, originally built in 1983-85, and expanded in 2003-05, is totally debt free. The St. Joseph Parish House is debt free. The St. Anthony Hall, built in 1997, is debt free. The only debt we service is the school expansion (completed in 2005). Those payments are approximately $24,000 per month, and we owe about $1.6 million on the remaining note, at a 4.12% interest rate, to be completed in 2020.

Due in part to a rise in student enrollment over last three years and good fiscal stewardship, The Atonement Academy is self-sustaining without a parish subsidy to its Operating Budget and will contribute over a half million dollars this academic year to the construction costs, its third year in a row to do so. How can you help?

PRAYER AND FINANCIAL SACRIFICE

As the history of this parish shows, God provides. He provides, but we pray! Every parishioner, young or mature, should consider making it his or her prayerful intention over the next year to support this expansion project. Prayer moves mountains. It moves people to stop and reassess their lives, and it moves people to be generous. In addition to prayer, we need each member of the parish, and even beyond our community, to contribute financially. The gifts of each and every person are vital to the success of our on-going efforts. Reflect on how greatly God has blessed us as individuals and as a parish family, and give thanks to God for these blessings by prayerfully considering what you can do to help.

• PLEDGES OF CASH GIFTS • GIFTS OF STOCK. You may call our financial representative at USAA and he will assist you making a transfer from your portfolio to ours. Contact Mr. Vincent Knodell directly at 210-456-7012. • TITHING. All excess money (that which is beyond what is needed for the budget) given to the church through your tithes goes automatically to the Academy Building Fund.

St. Albert the Great


The life of St. Albert covered almost all of the 13th century. His father was a very wealthy German nobleman, and Albert was able to receive an excellent education at the best universities of his day. He was a philosopher, a bishop, a prolific writer, and one of the most influential scientists of the Middle Ages. We all know the phrase, “a know-it-all” – but St. Albert really was, and in the best sense. He was able to compile a complete system of all the knowledge of his day. The subjects he encompassed included astronomy, mathematics, economics, logic, rhetoric, ethics, politics, metaphysics and all branches of natural science. It would take him more than 20 years to complete this phenomenal presentation.

St. Albert taught that there was no discrepancy between theology and science; rather, they were simply different aspects of a harmonious whole. Among his most important contributions to the development of scientific thought in the Middle Ages was helping the scholarly community to recognize the value of Aristotle’s philosophy, and he had as one of his chief students, St. Thomas Aquinas. It was Thomas who carried St. Albert’s teaching out to its logical conclusions.

St. Albert is the only scholar of his time to have earned the title "Great" -- a title that was applied to him even during his lifetime.

O God, who gavest grace unto blessed Albert, thy bishop and doctor, to become great because of his subjection of this world’s wisdom to a childlike faith in thee: Grant us, we beseech thee, in such wise to follow his doctrine that finally we may enjoy the fullness of thy light 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.

13 November 2014

An interesting icon...


Over the years I have collected a number of icons, and among them are some which depict particularly interesting saints. The one pictured here shows a young virgin-martyr known as St. Margaret of Antioch-in-Pisidia in the West, and as St. Marina the Great-Martyr in the East. Although she was an actual martyr, almost all the stories about her are apocryphal. In fact, in the year 494 Pope Gelasius I cautioned the Faithful against believing the fantastic stories which had grown up around her.

What seems to be historical is that she was a native of Antioch-in-Pisidia, and was the daughter of a pagan priest. Her mother died soon after giving her birth, and she was then nursed by a pious Christian woman. Margaret embraced the Christian faith and was disowned by her father, after which her Christian nurse adopted her. She was asked by a local official to marry him, but she would have to renounce her Christian faith. Refusing to do so, she was tortured and eventually beheaded in 304.

Fanciful stories grew up around the accounts of her torture, including a story of her being swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon, from which she escaped alive when the cross she carried irritated the dragon's innards. In the icon pictured here is shown another incident when a demon approached her in her prison cell, attempting to convince her to renounce her faith. According to the story, a hammer was at hand, which she picked up and beat the demon senseless.

Devotion to St. Margaret of Antioch was greatly strengthened during the crusades, when soldiers would hear stories of local saints and then bring them back to their homelands. Devotion to her became widespread in England, where more than 250 churches are dedicated to her, most famously, St. Margaret's, Westminster, the church of the British Houses of Parliament in London. St. Margaret is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and is one of the saints who spoke to Joan of Arc.

St. Margaret's Church, Westminster,
dedicated to St. Margaret of Antioch

12 November 2014

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first American citizen to be canonized. She was a naturalized citizen, having been born in Italy. Her parents were simple farmers, used to hard work and little money, but always ready to welcome another child. In fact, St. Frances was the thirteenth child, and her mother was fifty-two years old when she was born. It was a devout Catholic family in which she was raised, and at night after the day’s work was done, the children would listen to their father read them stories of the saints. Young Frances was especially fascinated by the saints who went on missions to foreign countries.

St. Frances had a great desire to help others, and after she finished school she assisted in the local parish by teaching catechism, and visiting the sick and the poor. She also taught school, and supervised the running of an orphanage, where she was assisted by a group of young women. Their work became so well-known that the bishop in a neighboring diocese heard of their work, and he asked Frances to establish a missionary institute to work in the area of education. Frances did as the bishop requested, and she called this new community the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. They opened an academy for girls, and before long the work spread with the establishment of new houses.

One day Frances was contacted by Bishop Scalabrini, an Italian bishop who had a great concern for the many immigrants who were leaving Italy for a new life in the United States. It was not easy for these immigrants, and upon their arrival in America they would endure tremendous hardships, and were not being given adequate spiritual care. As Bishop Scalabrini described the situation to Frances, she was very moved by what he said, but it did not occur to her that she might have a part in the solution. It was not until she had an audience with Pope Leo XIII about the future of her religious foundation that she changed her plans. It was her intention to receive papal permission to go to the missions of the orient, but the Holy Father had another suggestion. “Not to the East, but go to the West,” he said to her. “Go to America.”

Now known as Mother Cabrini, she had no hesitation when she heard the Pope’s words. To America she went, and she landed in New York in 1889, immediately establishing an orphanage, and then set about her life’s work – that of seeing a need, and then working for a solution. She built schools, places for child care, medical clinics, orphanages, and homes for abandoned babies. The poor had no place to go when they became seriously ill, so she built a number of hospitals for the needy. At the time of her death, there were more than five thousand children receiving care in the various institutions she built, and her religious community had grown to five hundred members in seventy houses throughout North and South America, France, Spain, and England.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was a frail woman, of a very small stature, but she amazed others with her energy and imagination. She was constantly traveling, sailing the Atlantic twenty-five times to visit her various religious houses and institutions. It was in 1909 that she adopted the United States as her country and formally became a citizen.

As she reached the end of her life, she had given thirty-seven years to the works of charity she loved so much. In her final illness she was admitted to a hospital in Chicago, Illinois. She died while making dolls to be given to orphans at an upcoming Christmas party, her last activity a simple act of charity. Mother Cabrini was beatified in 1938, and canonized in 1946 by Pope Pius XI.

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. Frances Xavier Cabrini, 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.

Father Paul, Mother Lurana, and Unity

St. Francis Chapel, Graymoor, New York

Here's an excellent article about our spiritual patrons, Father Paul and Mother Lurana, founders of the Society of the Atonement and source of our own title, Our Lady of the Atonement.  This is a rather good history, although near the end it veers a bit towards the usual weak understanding of ecumenism, but I urge you to read the whole thing.  You'll learn a lot about our own spiritual roots. This article appears in The Living Church, an Anglican publication.

Father Paul Wattson and the Quest for Church Unity

by Patrick J. Hayes

Early one morning last summer, I walked out to the precipice of a “holy mountain.” I looked out and saw the fog lifting from an immense and undulating forest below, like incense from a thurible. I knew I was walking on holy ground and I soaked up the silence, interrupted only by the stray bird on the wing. In this sweet-smelling, bounteous setting I was a pilgrim. There at the ledge was the grave of Father Paul James Francis Wattson, founder of the Society of the Atonement, a group of friars that established themselves for the strict purpose of uniting the branches of the Christian family.

Fr. Wattson’s life is less well known than his legacy and it is deliberate that his grave should rest in a somewhat remote corner of the property at Graymoor, the Atonement friars’ headquarters in Garrison, N.Y. The career of Fr. Wattson is subordinate to his singular ambition to fulfill the Lord’s command that “all may be one” (John 17:21) — words that today emblazon the friars’ coat of arms (ut omnes unum sint) and motivate their ministry. From their outpost on this holy mountain and in centers around the globe, the Atonement friars are responsible for inserting the “Church Unity Octave” into the liturgical calendar.

It began first in the United States at Graymoor in 1908 and was later called the “Chair of Unity Octave” to emphasize its Petrine dimension. It has now given way to theWeek of Prayer for Christian Unity, which since 1966 has been a joint project of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The Week of Prayer is marked in churches around the world each January 18–25.

The role of the Church Unity Octave was not merely to repair relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, but was an active and prayerful attempt at returning the Anglican world to pre-Reformation bonds with Rome. The idea for this festival of unity emerged in the simple exchange of words between friends. It is easy to pinpoint the exact date, too. On Nov. 30, 1907, Fr. Wattson was writing out replies to letters he had received the previous day. Among his correspondents was his friend and fellow priest, the Rev. Spencer John Jones, the Anglican rector of St. David’s Church, Moreton-in-Marsh, England. Fr. Jones suggested that a special sermon be given on Christian unity in every church in the Anglican Communion on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, to restore unity in the one Church of Christ. Fr. Wattson agreed and asked his correspondent what he thought of “inaugurating a Church Unity Week beginning with S. Peter’s Chair at Rome, January 18, and ending with S. Paul’s Day.” Fr. Jones picked up this idea and helped promote it throughout Europe; Fr. Wattson reached the multitudes everywhere else.

Behind this expression of Fr. Wattson’s thinking lay a longstanding commitment which was in gestation since his boyhood. Born Lewis ThomasWattson in Millington, Md., in 1863, he was the son of the Episcopal rector of the little parish of St. Clement’s, whose only notable feature was the white Communion table, a gift from Queen Anne. Fr. Wattson’s father, Joseph, had been expelled from General Theological Seminary, and sometimes labeled a “Jesuit in disguise,” but was brought into the ministry through the graciousness of Bishop William R. Whittingham of Baltimore.

The elder Fr. Wattson was never able to escape the whispers of his leanings toward Rome. Many at the time considered any rapprochement toward Roman Catholicism a blasphemy, and such openness was roundly condemned by people like the Rev. A. Cleveland Coxe, rector of Grace Church, Baltimore. Writing in an introduction to Frederick Meyrick’s Moral Theology of the Church of Rome (Baltimore, 1856), Fr. Coxe made no bones about his stance: “Papal Rome, like Rome Imperial, has but one instinct, and that is—Empire. Its undying part is the iron will, by which all humanity must be crushed into subjection.”

We know that young Fr. Wattson read this kind of literature, just as he observed the whispers surrounding his father, whom he revered. Lewis would go on for schooling out of state at St. Mary’s Hall in New Jersey and then to St. Stephen’s College (now Bard College) before entering General Seminary. He was ordained in 1885 and, after a brief parish assignment in Maryland, he became the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Kingston, N.Y. He remained there for the next ten years.

Biographers later would describe the young priest as a “High Churchman” and one endowed with an “extraordinary preaching ability.” But they also noted how he seemed somewhat reclusive, almost given to a monastic lifestyle. His early spirituality, deeply imbued with biblical literalism, is seen as giving way to his growing interest in religious life, especially Franciscanism, which prized personal poverty as given in a common rule even while working to eradicate poverty in the society. In his sermons, he spoke from the heart, almost never reading from notes, and balanced his words with his deep knowledge of Scripture. Invitations soon began to pour in for Fr. Wattson to come and preach beyond his own congregation. As a way of spreading his thought, in May 1894 he began to publish The Pulpit and the Cross.

These two-fold venues—the pulpit and the press—allowed Fr. Wattson to communicate his ideas of engagement with the Roman Catholic Church. In 1895, he understood the doctrine of papal supremacy — delineated in the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Aeternus at Vatican I (1870) — as both a test of American democracy and itself a religious problem. All Roman Catholic bishops in the United States were agents of a foreign bishop, he contended, and so had “no lawful jurisdiction” on these shores. He often wrote on sacramental questions and papal authority, always respectfully critiquing the position held by Rome. Why couldn’t Roman Catholics see their errors? Or was it Fr. Wattson and his tribe that were somehow misunderstanding?

A combination of questioning and a search for a deeper interior life came to a head in 1895. That summer he was approached by a group of unmarried Episcopal men living a semi-monastic life in Omaha. They wondered whether Fr.Wattson would agree to be their superior. He gave it three years before returning to New York, even more confused than before.

Fr. Wattson’s reputation caught the attention of Lurana Mary White, who first contacted him in 1896. She was then living in a diocesan community of Episcopal women in Albany — the Sisters of the Holy Child—and had also been hoping to form a sisterhood that would embrace corporately and individually the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Searching for a community of this sort proved difficult in the United States and so she joined the Sisters of Bethany in London.

After a year’s novitiate, and having accepted the brown habit and cord of the Franciscans, she entered a new phase of her spiritual life. Before returning to America in 1898, she made a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi where, she later wrote, she became “guilty of a pious act of duplicity.” While touring St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, she left her party long enough to kiss the foot of the statue of St. Peter.

She brought Fr. Wattson to her family home in upstate New York, where a kind of mutual epiphany occurred. Forming a spiritual alliance that would last all of their lives, in December 1898 Mother Lurana took possession of a piece of property to begin a new religious community. In the spring of 1899, the two would launch their new venture—the Society of the Atonement — from an abandoned farmhouse and chapel on a hilltop in Garrison.

Over the course of the next ten years, a steady creep toward Rome was in evidence. His study of religious life was augmented by a year’s trial in the Fathers of the Holy Cross at Westminster, Md., and in 1900 he also accepted the habit of a Franciscan friar, taking the name Paul James. Fr. Wattson soon found himself back in New York, building up Graymoor and touring nearby churches. In 1901, he was invited to preach before an Episcopal congregation in Long Island and chose as his topic “The Reunion of Christendom and the Chair of Peter.” It was difficult to hear him over the noise of those vacating the church. Undeterred, in 1903 he began to publish The Lamp, a magazine advocating greater ties with Rome through the acceptance of papal infallibility. Another publication, The Antidote, specifically set an apologetic tone to counteract the anti-Roman vitriol of The Menace, a Midwestern publication that had nearly 1.5 million subscribers.

In his work to allay suspicions over foreign encroachments in the United States, Fr. Wattson also defended those Anglicans who were scorned for trying to close the breach with Rome. Fr. Wattson looked upon the squabbles within Anglicanism less as an opportunity to grouse and more as a chance to show pastoral solicitude. Fr. Paul had a strict policy never to utter a word against Anglicanism, but chose instead to highlight the Anglican Communion’s values, the eloquence of its members, and the beauty of its sacramental life. He carried this policy throughout his life, teaching not mere tolerance but love.

This is all the more remarkable given that both Fr. Paul and Mother Lurana, along with 17 other members—sisters, friars, and laymen—were received corporately into the Roman Catholic Church on Oct. 30, 1909. In 1910, after a year’s work at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, Fr. Wattson was ordained by Archbishop John Farley of New York. “Coming over” had not been easy, but it was not a decision made in haste. Archbishop Farley communicated his own misgivings to Rome—he did not like the manner of the foundation, let alone its message. Though the corporate conversion of Fr. Paul and his companions was done through the formal rite, including an abjuration of their Anglicanism, the founder of the Society of the Atonement had made it clear that the renunciation would not be negative. There would be no curse, but a solemn recognition of the truth of personally held convictions. Fr. Wattson had written in The Lamp in 1907 that “I could not bear those people who say that the Anglican Church is a mockery.”

Even after becoming a Roman Catholic priest, he never publicly repudiated his Anglican orders. Only after dialogue with officials in the Roman hierarchy, including the prefect of the Congregation for Religious, Genarro Cardinal Falconio, and the Secretary of State to the Holy See, Cardinal Merry del Val, was the way paved for his reception.

This high-level contact proved fortuitous, because through their assistance Fr. Wattson was able in turn to present his hope for the Church Unity Octave directly to Pope Pius X, who blessed the initiative, and later Pope Benedict XV, who extended the observance to the universal Church in February 1916. In 1921, Dennis Cardinal Dougherty of Philadelphia proposed to the hierarchy that the octave be observed throughout the United States—a resolution that, for the first time in the history of American Roman Catholicism, received unanimous consent.

Roman Catholics in the United States were catching up with their Anglican brethren. The Lambeth Conference had by the late 1870s proposed a season of prayer for Christian unification and in the 1890s the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered that fitting prayers be spoken on Whit Sunday. In the United States in 1913, the Faith and Order Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church published a pamphlet of prayers commending church unity on Whit Sunday. By 1915, a full-scale manual of prayers was drawn up. Fr. Wattson’s own ecclesiastical superior, now Cardinal Farley, was reluctant to entertain his proposal for fear of confusion among the faithful or, worse still, communio in sacris.

By contrast, Farley’s successor, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Patrick Hayes, was among the first prelates in the United States to advocate for the Unity Octave. Archbishop Hayes, it might be noted, was notoriously scrupulous in avoiding any engagements with Protestants, but he saw in this movement an opening that was ecclesiastically legal, satisfying of Jesus’ own command, and productive of good will. His instinct in approving the work of Fr. Wattson proved important for the future of the Week of Prayer, for without the archbishop’s approbation, the friar could not have continued in as successful a fashion as he did. Throughout his tenure, the archbishop’s relation to the Church Unity Octave was as a “participant observer” — frequently allowing Fr. Wattson the use of the pulpit at the Cathedral of St. Patrick to promote the cause of unity.

Not everything was so sunny, however, for Fr. Wattson. He experienced several difficulties with members of his new fraternity, and this would prove a mild distraction compared to his legal woes. As the superior of the convent of sisters, he had charge of their welfare. The convent’s property was owned by three women — all good Episcopal ladies of Garrison — who had permitted the sisters’ growth but never signed over a deed. Trustees of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had stood as a ramshackle chapel on the property before the arrival of Mother Lurana, evicted the sisters in 1910, one year after they had become Roman Catholics.

Mother Lurana chose to follow the longstanding Franciscan principle of offering no resistance, thinking it better to be homeless than to be the source of conflict. Fr. Wattson saw the matter differently and vowed to pursue it in court—a decision that carried on for the next seven years. An agreement was struck, however, when Fr. Wattson met Hamilton Fish II on Election Day in 1917. Fish was not only a well known politician in the state of New York; he was also the senior warden of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Garrison. When Fr. Wattson explained his legal troubles, Fish offered to broker a settlement, which was finally won in March 1918, by an act of the New York legislature. As a side note, all of the original owners of the property became Roman Catholic and two are buried in the sisters’ cemetery at Graymoor. But the lesson of the story is simple: cooperation in the Christian household always brings a greater yield and is one more visible token in praise of God’s glory.

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The 1920s and ’30s were building years for the order, which constructed a seminary, a printery, shrine chapels and St. Christopher’s Inn, a treatment center. The numbers of sisters and friars burgeoned. Always the message was the same: unity is the hallmark and sustenance of the work. But as Fr. Wattson began to slow (he died in 1940), his allies in the nascent ecumenical movement picked up the charge. In Belgium, Dom Lambert Beaudoin founded in 1925 a Benedictine community that took shape at Chevetogne for the express purpose of praying for unity—originally with the Orthodox, but now with all Christians.

From the Archdiocese of Lyons, France, Father Paul Couturier (1881–1953) spread the message of prayer for unity “as God wills it and by the means that he wills.” Fr. Couturier changed the tenor of the prayer, however, away from reunion of all others with Rome by reflection on a once-shared past to a more concerted effort on the part of all Christians to work toward future unity par cum pari—literally, on equal footing. This, he said, could only be done together; it could not be expected that non-Romans would simply see the light. This plea was heard by Trappistines in Grottaferrata, Italy, and some began, in the late 1930s, to devote their prayer lives to building religious bridges. When temporal unity finally occurs, it will rest on the storehouse of supernatural graces stocked by so much fervent prayer.

Fr. Wattson’s Spirit and Ordinariates

The theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “You Are Witnesses of These Things” (Luke 24:48). Coinciding with the Scottish centennial celebration of the World Mission Conference at Edinburgh, widely acknowledged as an ecumenical milestone, the theme strikes at the soul of collaboration between churches: what we memorialize together, what we work on, what we anticipate through God’s grace. Whether we speak in a prophetic voice, like the Paul Wattsons of a prior generation, there is always a call to set aside a passive stance and move.

Action of some sort never negates a stillness of mind and heart, but flows from it. Achieving that quietude comes from asking ourselves sometimes difficult questions: What do I believe? To whom shall I turn? Who am I? What is impressive about the path Fr. Wattson took is not so much his rather spectacular conversion or the issues attendant upon it, as much as the authenticity of its genesis, together with its manifold fruits. Roman Catholics cannot ignore the abiding fealty Fr. Wattson had toward the purest elements of the Anglican spirit, since part of that is its desire toward the vocation of unity. In an era of ordinariates, Roman Catholics will do well to observe how a new injection of Anglican culture into their midst will serve to heal and make whole again a body broken for too long.

In speaking of ordinariates today, canon lawyers refer to “extra-territorial” sees or “non-territorial particular churches,” which serve as instruments for service to the people of God that have, for purposes of identification, no visible boundaries but a clear governance structure that is necessarily flexible to meet extraordinary circumstances. One reason for the recent Anglicanorum Coetibus, the apostolic constitution of Pope Benedict XVI establishing personal ordinariates for those Anglicans entering a new relation with the Roman Catholic Church, is to supply a flexible response to legalistic questions. Both communions will do well to study whether the ecclesiological principles articulated in the constitution will be in service to the great challenge of ecumenism in our time, particularly as it conforms or departs from the legacy of visionaries like Fr.Wattson.

Among these principles is a recognition of the action of the Holy Spirit working as “a principle of unity” to establish the singular “Church as a communion.” What appears to some to be a wayward cluster of Anglican congregations may actually hold promise as a vehicle for tutelage and mutual understanding, on all sides, in rendering a new vista for ecclesial unity.

Patrick J. Hayes has a doctorate in theology from the Catholic University of America and has taught at Fordham University and St. John’s University in New York. He is at work on a study of Roman Catholics in the New York Archdiocese between 1865 and 1938.

St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr


St. Josaphat was born about the year 1580 in what was the Polish province of Lithuania and was raised as an Eastern Rite Catholic. He had a deep devotion to the suffering of Christ, and looked at the schism between East and West as a wound in the Church as the Sacred Body of our Lord. As a young man in his mid-twenties he entered religious life, joining the Ukrainian Order of Saint Basil (known as the Basilians), and as a monk he gave himself over to penance and mortification, going barefoot even in winter, and eating only the poorest food.

In 1618, after living as a monk for nearly fifteen years, he was appointed to be archbishop of the Eastern Rite Diocese of Polotzk, and he devoted his energies to work for the reunion of the Church, all the while deepening the faith of his people through his preaching and his example. There were those in the Orthodox Church, not in union with Rome, who were very much against his work towards unity, and a group of them decided he must be stopped, making plans to assassinate him. In fact, St. Josaphat knew there were many who did not want unity, and he knew his life was in danger; however, he pressed forward in his work to heal the rift between East and West.

One day when he was visiting part of his diocese in territory which is now in Russia, his enemies made an attack on the place where he was staying, and many of those who were traveling with St. Josaphat were killed. Quietly and with humility, St. Josaphat went toward the attackers and asked them why they had done such a thing, saying to them, “If you have something against me, see, here I am.” The crowd screamed at him saying, “Kill the papist!” They ran towards him with their weapons, killing him with an axe-blow to his head.

St. Josaphat's body was thrown into the river, but it remained on the surface of the water, surrounded by rays of light, and was recovered. Those who had murdered him, when they were sentenced to death, repented of what they had done. Through the gentle example of St. Josaphat and helped by his heavenly intercession, through the grace of God they became Catholics.

Raise up, O Lord, we pray thee, in thy Church the Spirit whereby Saint Josaphat thy martyr and bishop laid down his life for the sheep: That by his intercession, we, being moved and strengthened by the same, may not fear to lay down our lives for our brethren; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

10 November 2014

A prayer for Veterans' Day


O Lord, we give You thanks for our veterans, for their willingness to risk all so that our nation might dwell in peace and safety. May they receive the honor and recognition they deserve. We pray for those who suffer from physical, spiritual, and psychological wounds, that they might know Your healing presence. We pray for our nation, that it may treasure the freedoms which have been won through the sacrifices and courage of those who have given themselves for the protection of others. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Martin of Tours


When he was merely a boy, Martin became a Christian catechumen against his parents' wishes, and at the age of fifteen he was forced by his father, a pagan soldier, to be enrolled in the army.

It was on a winter's day, while stationed at Amiens, that Martin met a beggar almost naked and frozen with cold. Having nothing to give him, Martin cut his cloak in two and gave poor man half.

That night in a dream Martin saw Our Lord clothed in the half cloak, and heard Him say to surrounding angels: "Martin, yet only a catechumen, has wrapped Me in this garment." He decided to be baptized, and shortly after this he left the army.

Martin succeeded in converting his mother, but he was driven from his home by the Arian heretics who were powerful in that place, and he took shelter with the bishop, St. Hilary. Near Poitiers they founded first monastery in France, and in the year 372 St. Martin was made Bishop of Tours. The people of that area, though Christian in name, were mostly still pagan in their hearts and in their daily practice. Unarmed and attended only by his monks, St. Martin destroyed the heathen temples and groves, and then completed this courageous act by preaching the Gospel. After witnessing many miracles at the hand of their bishop St. Martin, there was a complete conversion of the people. St. Martin’s last eleven years were spent in the humble work of travelling throughout Gaul, preaching and manifesting the power of God through his works and by the purity of his life.

Lord God of hosts, who didst clothe thy servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and didst set him as a bishop in thy Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Pope St. Leo and Attila the Hun


Pope St. Leo reigned twenty-one years as pope in the 5th century, and is the first pope to be titled "the Great." He truly was a great Pope, defending the Faith, and confirming the primacy of the Successors of St. Peter. But perhaps the most exciting thing Pope Leo did was when he had a confrontation with the infamous and cruel military leader, Attila the Hun. This is the story.

The Huns were a nomadic people, originating probably in Mongolia, but they migrated westward, sacking and pillaging whatever cities or towns that were in their way. Until the time of Attila in the 5th century, the Huns were comprised of a loose confederation of tribes, not really a unified people at all – that is, until Attila came on the scene. He unified them, and they were making their sweep across Europe. By the time of Pope Leo, Attila the Hun was busy ransacking most of Italy, and his plan included the sack of Rome. Attila hoped to add it to his possessions, not only for the riches it would give him, but he was also trying add to his number of wives, and the young woman he had his eye on would be impressed with his taking Rome, or so he thought.

Pope Leo, of course, wanted to protect Rome and keep its citizens alive, but here was Attila, looking to attack and plunder the city, and destroy the Church. With the approach of Attila and his mob of soldiers, Pope Leo went into prayer, committing his papacy to the patronage and protection of St. Peter, the apostle and first pope, and then Leo did a very brave thing – he arranged a meeting with Attila just outside the city of Rome. Nobody thought this was a very good idea – in fact, everyone in Rome was sure that Pope Leo would be immediately martyred by this conqueror who never hesitated to murder and destroy anything or anyone who got in his way.

Nonetheless, Pope Leo went to meet Attila. And then, one of the most dramatic moments in Christian history takes place: Attila calls off the sack of Rome. And Leo goes safely back to Rome. What happened? What made Attila retreat?

This is the account of that meeting: while Attila and Leo were conversing, Attila was shaking in his boots, because that during that conversation, Attila saw a vision like he had never seen before! Attila saw St. Peter himself hovering over Leo's head . . . with a huge sword drawn and pointed directly at him! Attilla was certain he would be immediately killed if he didn’t withdraw and leave the area, so to save his own skin, Attila ran away from the Pope, who was armed only with the Truth.

And that is the story of how Pope Leo the Great saved Rome from being destroyed.

09 November 2014

Pope St. Leo the Great


Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, by Pius Parsch:
Leo I, Pope and Doctor of the Church, ruled from 440 to 461. He is surnamed "the Great" and ranks among the most illustrious sovereigns that ever sat on the throne of St. Peter. Of his life, we know little; with him the man seems to disappear before the Pope. He saw most clearly that one of his greatest tasks was to vindicate the primacy of the Roman bishop, St. Peter's successor, and to raise the prestige of the Holy See before the entire world. Hardly any Pope in history has occupied a like position in the ecclesiastical and political world.

As a writer, too, his name is famous. His sermons, which occur frequently in the Divine Office, belong to the finest and most profound in patristic literature. The Council of Chalcedon was held under his direction (451). The Breviary tells us: Leo I, an Etruscan, ruled the Church at the time when Attila, King of the Huns, who was called the Scourge of God, invaded Italy. After a siege of three years, he took, sacked and burned Aquileia, and then hurried on toward Rome. Inflamed with anger, his troops were already preparing to cross the Po, at the point where it is joined by the Mincio.

Here Attila was stopped by Leo (452). With God-given eloquence, the Pope persuaded him to turn back, and when the Hun was asked by his servants why, contrary to custom, he had so meekly yielded to the entreaties of a Roman bishop, he answered that he had been alarmed by a figure dressed like a priest that stood at Leo's side; this individual was holding a drawn sword and acted as if he would kill him if he advanced farther. As a result Attila retreated to Pannonia.

Meanwhile, Leo returned to Rome, and was received with universal rejoicing. Some time later, the Vandal Genseric entered the city, and again Leo, by the power of his eloquence and the authority of his holy life, persuaded him to desist from atrocity and slaughter (455).
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O Lord our God, grant that thy Church, following the teaching of thy servant St. Leo of Rome, may hold fast the great mystery of our redemption, and adore the one Christ, true God and true Man, neither divided from our human nature nor separate from thy divine Being; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

08 November 2014

Dedication of St. John Lateran


On November 9th the Catholic Church throughout the world celebrates the anniversary of the consecration of the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour in the city of Rome, known also as St. John Lateran. On the façade is carved the proud title “Omnium Urbis et Orbis Ecclesiarum Mater et Caput” – “The Mother and Head of all Churches of the City and of the World.” It is the cathedral of Rome – it is the Pope’s Cathedral, and so is, in a sense, the Cathedral of the world – senior in dignity even to St. Peter’s Basilica.

One of the reasons we celebrate this Feast is because the Church wants us to remember the importance of consecrated places in which the worship of God takes place. It reminds us of the importance of the consecration of every Catholic Church throughout the world. It is a reminder to us of the Incarnational principle on which our faith is based – that God extends His spiritual blessings to us through the use of physical things. He took human flesh upon Himself. He has instituted seven sacraments which use outward forms to communicate inward grace. He has established a hierarchical Church, with a physical presence in the world, to be a sign of His own presence with us.
Almighty and eternal Father, who out of the living stones of thy chosen people hast made a temple meet for thy glory; Multiply, we beseech thee, thy blessings upon the Church, that thy faithful people may draw ever closer to the new and heavenly Jerusalem; 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.
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Here are some thoughts on the Gospel for this Feast:

 

The Gospel (St. John 2:13-22) appointed for the Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran puts before us the commanding figure of Jesus Christ striding into the great Temple in Jerusalem. He cleanses it, making a whip of cords and driving out the sellers of animals and the money-changers, overturning their tables and telling them, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” Christ did this, because those who were buying and selling within the temple of God were not doing it for the glory of God; they were not doing it for the worship of God or for the good of man; rather, it was for personal gain and for selfish reasons.

The Church teaches us that religion is more than just the vertical dimension of the spiritual life – it’s more that simply “God and me.” Ethics and morality must be the practical expression of a true and living faith. How we conduct ourselves in the marketplace reflects our relationship with God. Certain business practices may be legal but that doesn’t insure they are ethical. Certainly, making a profit isn’t condemned in Scripture, but accumulating great wealth by unjustly taking advantage of someone else is.

So, with the crack of a whip, Christ drove the money changers from the temple. And He did it not only because of the contempt that was being shown to the Temple – a place consecrated to God – but also because of the injustice being shown to the people who were there to worship the God in whose honor the Temple had been built. Christ was not kind and gentle that day.

When good people are faced with evil, it would seem that our Lord has given something of an example to follow. He did not limit himself to prayer or to talk; He also did something about it. “To everything there is a season,” the Scriptures tell us, and we can see that even in the life of Christ that there was a season to make a stand against evil by taking specific action.

It was necessary for Christ to drive the money-changers out of the temple because of the evil they had brought into the lives of honest people, and because of the dishonor those actions brought to the House of God. So it is necessary at times that evil must be faced squarely by taking positive action, so that the common good might be preserved. Sometimes, for the triumph of good, the whip must be cracked, and evil must be beaten back.

Whether it be civil leaders inflicting injustice on people; or whether it be those who steal the right to life from the unborn; or whether it be the unfaithful cleric who cheats people from knowing the fullness of the Gospel and from worshipping according to the mind of the Church; or whether it be the gossip who destroys the reputation of another – we are called to stand up for the good, and against the evil.

The Gospel tells us that after Christ had cleansed the Temple, “his disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for thy house will consume me...’” And so should zeal for the things of God consume us. Zeal is the business side of love, whether it be love of God or love of man. “Zeal,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “is the energy of love.” Zeal, as an ardent love of God, is to be shown in our lives as a desire to promote the love of God, to promote the worship of God, to promote the praise of God, to promote the glory of God. It is to be shown in our spiritual lives as we perform those Christian works of mercy and love that we have been taught by our Lord. And zeal, also, is to be shown in practical ways, as we accept our responsibility for the support and work of Christ’s Body the Church. This is one of the reasons we have places of beauty, consecrated to the glory of God – so that you and I can be inspired to be zealous for God and for the things of God; so that we can work for justice in this world; so that we can spread the truth of the Gospel by our words and our actions – and also, to give us a glimpse of the eternity of heaven.

04 November 2014

Pray for our nation...


Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

02 November 2014

St. Martin de Porres


St. Martin de Porres was born in very difficult circumstances. His mother was a woman who had been a slave, but now freed, and was of African background. His father was of Spanish nobility who was living in Peru. St. Martin’s parents were not married, but lived as common law man and wife, and they had two children, Martin and his sister. The children inherited the dark complexion and African features of their mother, and the father, who was cruel and shallow in his attitude towards race, left the family, and they were reduced to poverty. Because they were of mixed race, this meant that Martin and his sister were considered to be on the lowest level of Lima’s society.

When Martin was 12, his mother apprenticed him to a barber-surgeon. He learned how to cut hair and also how to give basic medical care, which was usual for barbers at that time. After a few years in this medical apostolate, St. Martin applied to the Dominicans to be a "lay helper," not feeling himself worthy to be a religious brother. After nine years, the example of his prayer and penance, charity and humility led the community to request him to make full religious profession. Many of his nights were spent in prayer and penitential practices; his days were filled with nursing the sick and caring for the poor. He treated all people regardless of their color, race or status. He was instrumental in founding an orphanage, took care of slaves brought from Africa and managed the daily alms of the priory with practicality as well as generosity. He became the procurator for both priory and city, whether it was a matter of "blankets, shirts, candles, candy, miracles or prayers!" When his priory was in debt, he said, "I am only a poor mulatto. Sell me. I am the property of the order. Sell me."

Side by side with his daily work in the kitchen, laundry and infirmary, Martin's life reflected God's extraordinary gifts: ecstasies that lifted him into the air, light filling the room where he prayed, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and a remarkable rapport with animals. His charity extended to beasts of the field and even to the vermin of the kitchen. He would excuse the raids of mice and rats on the grounds that they were underfed; he kept stray cats and dogs at his sister's house.

Many of his fellow religious took him as their spiritual director, but he continued to call himself a "poor slave." He was a good friend of another Dominican saint of Peru, Rose of Lima.

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 St. Martin de Porres, 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.

01 November 2014

All Souls Day


Requiem Masses at 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 6:00 p.m.

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of thy Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Indulgences for Souls in Purgatory


One of the spiritual works of mercy is to pray for the Faithful Departed, who can do no more for themselves. There are plenary indulgences assigned to this season, outlined in the Enchiridion, which you may obtain for the Holy Souls in Purgatory:

1. A plenary indulgence, applicable ONLY to the souls in purgatory, may be obtained by those who, on All Souls Day, piously visit a church, public oratory, or for those entitled to use it, a semi-public oratory. It may be acquired either on the day designated as All Souls Day or, with the consent of the bishop, on the preceding or following Sunday or the feast of All Saints. On visiting the church or oratory it is required that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

2. You may make a visit to a Cemetery or Columbarium. A plenary indulgence is applicable to the souls in Purgatory when one devoutly visits and prays for the departed. This work may be done each day between November 1 and November 8.

To obtain a Plenary Indulgence, one must fulfill the following requirements:

1. Make a Sacramental Confession,
2. Receive Holy Communion,
3. Offer prayer for the intention of the Holy Father.

All these are to be performed within days of each other, if not at the same time.

31 October 2014

Solemnity of All Saints


Saturday, November 1st
O Almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord: Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that, through their intercession, we may come to those ineffable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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Because All Saints Day falls on a Saturday this year, the bishops have removed the obligation to attend Mass. However, there will be a Solemn Mass celebrated at 10:00 a.m.

28 October 2014

27 October 2014

St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles


Both Simon and Jude were ordinary men who were chosen by Jesus Himself to teach others about God’s love and to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Their lives help us to understand that even the most ordinary people can become saints when they decide to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

Both these men were known by other names during their lives. Simon was often called “the Zealot.” He firmly believed in the importance of people following Jewish law. Once he met Jesus, his life was changed and he became convinced that the most important thing was to follow the Lord and His teachings. We believe that another reason Simon had a nickname was to keep people from confusing him with the other Apostle named Simon, the one Jesus called Peter.

Jude was also known as “Jude Thaddeus.” People used this formal title so that he was not confused with Judas, the Apostle who betrayed Jesus and handed Him over to be arrested. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless cases. People often pray to Jude when they feel that there is no one else to turn to. They ask Jude to bring their problem to Jesus. Because Jude had such great faith, we know that nothing is impossible for those who believe in the Lord.

Simon and Jude traveled together to teach others about Jesus. Because of their eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ miracles and His death and resurrection, many people became believers and were baptized. Simon and Jude died for their faith on the same day in Persia, the land we now call Iran. These two saints remind us to learn all we can about Jesus and to share it with others, as they did.

O God, we thank thee for the glorious company of the apostles, and especially on this day for Ss. Simon and Jude; and we pray that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A loving tribute...

Some of the Upper School students from The Atonement Academy sing "Ave Verum" as a background to this loving tribute to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

video

24 October 2014

Our Lady, Queen of Palestine



Because many of us at Our Lady of the Atonement Church are members of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, we commemorate Our Lady, Queen of Palestine, who is the Patroness of the Order.

In 1927, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Msgr. Louis Barlassina, because of his great concern about the political situation in the region, built a monastery, church, and orphanage in the village of Deir Rafat, and dedicated them to Our Lady, Queen of Palestine. In 1933, he instituted October 25 as a feast day in her honour under that title, and it was confirmed by the Holy See. Ever since, Deir Rafat has been a place of pilgrimage for this devotion, a much-needed source of solace for the Catholics of the Holy Land.

It is understood that this name designation, namely “Queen of Palestine” has not and has never had any political connotation since the entire Holy Land, at the time, was under the British Mandate, and was known as “Palestine." The title reflects that historical reality.

Please pray for the Christians of the Holy Land.
O Mary Immaculate, gracious Queen of Heaven and Earth, we are prostrate at your feet, sure of your goodness and confident in your power.

We beg you to look kindly on the Holy Land, which, more than any other country, belongs to you since you have honored it by your birth, your virtues and your pain, and that it is here where you gave the Savior of the World.

Remember that you were made Mother and dispenser of graces. Deign to grant special protection to your earthly homeland to dispel the darkness of the error, so that the sun of eternal justice may shine on it and that the promise, fallen from the lips of your divine Son to form one flock under the guidance of one shepherd, may be fulfilled.

Obtain us to serve the Lord in righteousness and holiness, every day of our lives, so that by the merits of Jesus, with your maternal protection, we can pass from the earthly Jerusalem to the splendors of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Here is a video of a previous year's celebration of Our Lady, Queen of Palestine, at the shrine in Deir Rafat.



Grant us, O merciful God, protection in our weakness: That we who celebrate the memory of the holy Mother of God, Our Lady Queen of Palestine, may, by her intercession, be delivered from our sins; 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.