30 December 2010

"...the darkness comprehended it not."

“While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her swift course, thine almighty Word, O Lord, leaped down from heaven out of thy royal throne.”
- Wisdom 18

Frequently, throughout the mysterious unfolding of the dramatic events of the redemption of mankind, God has used the gentleness of the night as the setting of His great and mighty acts. It’s as though God, in His kindness and love for us, doesn’t want to startle us with the intensity of His glory, and so He covers His activity with the night.

When the children of Israel were released from bondage in Egypt, the angel of death passed over them during the night; while they were on their journey to the Promised Land, the Lord sent life-giving manna during the night; Jesus instituted the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and imparted the priesthood after the sun had set and the shadows of evening had come upon Him and His apostles; the Crucifixion itself, even though it took place in the midst of the day, brought a cover of darkness at its moment of climax; the resurrection of the Lord, breaking the bonds of Satan, took place while it was yet dark. And the momentous event of this holy season, when Almighty God was born as Man of the Virgin Mary, took place, not in the glare of sunshine, but in the midst of the silence of night.

How different these events would have been if we could have planned them. We would think they call for parades, for loud announcements, for a blazing sun and for great activity! In a world which has been shrunk by the media, where the desire is to be noticed, where the very idea of self-effacement brings discomfort, God comes among us in a way which seems strange—a way which is difficult for many to accept. We’ve grown accustomed to thinking that humility must have ulterior motives, and that silence is simply an absence of sound. But how like God it is, to enter the world when so few were looking, to send His Word down from heaven when so few had ears to hear. He works this way today, too, for He touches us when we least expect it, giving hope and comfort and love when those things seem not to be within reach.

Perhaps it’s not so strange, after all, that God should come in darkness, for it tells us most eloquently that God is Light—the Light that drives darkness from our path. In the midst of the darkness of this world, our Holy Mother the Church takes us by the hand and leads us towards the Light which was born in Bethlehem, towards the Light which could not be forever extinguished on Calvary, towards the Light which burst forth from the tomb on the third day. It is darkness which makes us see the glow of a candle, just as it is our own realization of the darkness of our sinfulness that makes us reach out towards the Light which is Christ.

Could it be that the confusion which we see around us, whether it is confusion in the world or confusion within our own household of faith, is to serve the same purpose? Perhaps, in the midst of it all, God is urging us on by His own example, to quietly, but faithfully, bring the Light of His word to illuminate the darkness. Rather than turning on the glare of indignation and self-righteousness, which only makes the shadows more harsh, perhaps God would have us hold up the simple light of His truth, as it is manifested in our blessed Lord Jesus.

When God was born in Bethlehem, He made a poor stable to be His glorious tabernacle. As He carried out His earthly ministry, the world was hallowed anew as His dwelling-place, and as He lives within each of us, so we are His temples. Just as a candle burns before the tabernacle in every Catholic Church, indicating that Jesus the Light is truly there, so our faith, which we express by words and deeds, serves as a spiritual candle burning before the eyes of the world, proclaiming to all that Jesus our Lord is here! He is the God who came at night to drive the darkness away forever. May we, by faithfully reflecting the Light of Christ, banish darkness from our own lives, and from the night which surrounds us.

29 December 2010

New/Old Window; UPDATED

We're adding to our stained glass windows by re-working some old glass we obtained from closed churches in the Diocese of Cleveland.  This window depicts the Flight into Egypt, and was installed today in the nave of the church.  Even as I write this, another window is being installed, depicting the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  I'll post a picture of that as soon as they're finished.


UPDATE: Here's a picture of the second window installed today, depicting the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.

O Magnum Mysterium

Quite simply, one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written, to carry some of the most profound words ever spoken...

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

28 December 2010

The Anglican Use continues to spread...

Here's good news about the establishment of the Anglican Use Society of St. Bede the Venerable.

27 December 2010

What a great story!

Here's a wonderful story for you which I read on Catholic Culture, and I just couldn't resist sharing:

Edna Costello was one of those irreplaceable women who seem to appear in every healthy parish. She was the most active member of the altar guild, the Rosary circle, the parish council, the Bible study, marriage preparation classes, the pro-life league, and the ladies' sodality. You could find her in church every morning, a half-hour before the early Mass. She would still be there for another hour after the Mass was over: making her thanksgiving, tidying up the pews, saying her Rosary, arranging flowers, making the Stations of the Cross.

During the day Edna did good deeds. If anyone in the parish was seriously ill, she would know within a matter of hours, and send flowers or visit the hospital room. She would bring meals to shut-ins and place phone calls to lonely widows. On a few occasions she even tactfully asked some of the wealthier members of the parish whether they could spare a few dollars for a family that that fallen behind on the mortgage payments.

Then in the evenings, more often than not she would be back at church--in the basement, this time--for a meeting of one of the many parish organizations that she dominated.

Now if this description makes you think that Edna was a saint, you should realize that many--even most--of the parishioners found her insufferable. And she certainly did have her faults. She could be a bit of a busybody. She was better at talking than listening. She was definitely pushy. But no one would ever deny that Edna Costello tried her best to be a good Catholic. And because she was such a serious, active Catholic, many people followed her lead.

Take little Tommy Brown, for example. The Brown family lived just a few doors down from the little house where Edna lived after her husband's death. When he was just 12 years old, Tommy became intrigued by the sight of the little woman who marched past his front window every morning at 6:15, in rain or shine. "If she can go to Mass every day," he asked himself, "why can't I?" Soon he too was a fixture at the morning Mass. And Tommy was not alone. For every jaded neighbor who laughed up his sleeve when Edna began passing out holy cards, there was another more sensitive soul who would take the card, and begin to develop a habit of prayer.

Years passed, age took its toll, and Edna moved to a smaller home in another town. Within a matter of months she had become the backbone of a different parish. For years she carried out all the same functions in a new location.

Then at last, just before she reached the age of 90, Edna was diagnosed with cancer. She learned of the illness during Holy Week, and thought that was appropriate. She continued her usual activities for as long as she could, doing her best to ignore the mounting fatigue and pain. But on the day after Christmas she collapsed in church, and was rushed to the hospital.

The doctors were able to revive her, and for two days her condition steadily improved. But on the third morning she took a sudden turn for the worse, and the doctors realized that she had only a matter of hours to live. At Edna's insistence, the nurses began to look for a priest.

But there was a complication. A huge blizzard had hit the town that morning, and traffic was paralyzed. The local pastor had rushed out early in the morning, hoping to get a few last-minute errands down before the snow arrived; he had miscalculated, and was now stuck in a snowbank several miles away, unlikely to return before nightfall. No other priest lived close enough to the hospital to make it through the snow on time.

Edna was drifting in an out of consciousness, but when she was awake she was lucid. She was hounding the staff: "Have you found a priest for me yet?"

Fortunately, someone remembered hearing that a young priest was spending his vacation at his sister's home just a few blocks from the hospital. The nurses tracked him down, and the young priest quickly agreed to come bring the sacraments to a dying woman.

When he entered the room, the priest saw a wizened little grey-haired woman asleep in her bed. He thought he would awaken her gently by whispering her name. But when he saw the name listed on the chart on the foot of her bed, he blurted it out aloud: "Edna Costello!"

Edna opened her eyes. "Oh, Father," she wheezed, "thank God you're here!"

"Thank God you're here," said Father Tom Brown. "You're the reason I'm a priest!"

25 December 2010

The Incarnation

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

24 December 2010

A Visit to the Christmas Crib

In the Name + of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


V. The Word was made Flesh. R. And dwelt among us.

O Divine Redeemer Jesus Christ, kneeling before thy crib, I believe that thou art the God of infinite majesty, even though I see thee here as a helpless babe. Humbly I adore and thank thee for having so humbled thyself for my salvation as to will to be born in a stable. I thank thee for all thou didst wish to suffer for me in Bethlehem, for thy poverty and humility, for thy nakedness, tears, cold and sufferings.

Would that I could show thee that tenderness which thy Virgin Mother had toward thee, and love thee as she loved thee. Would that I could praise thee with the joy of the angels; that I could kneel before thee with the faith of Saint Joseph; the simplicity of the shepherds. Uniting myself with these first worshippers at the crib, I offer thee the homage of my heart, and I beg that thou wouldest be born spiritually in my soul. Give me, I pray thee, the virtues of thy blessed Nativity.

Fill me with that spirit of renuniciation, of poverty, of humility, which prompted thee to assume the weakness of our nature, and to be born amid destitution and suffering. Grant that from this day forward I may in all things seek thy greater glory, and may enjoy that peace promised to men of good will.

Sweet Babe of Bethlehem, I praise thee, I bless thee, I thank thee. I love thee with all my heart. I desire to worship thee, and to be like thee in all thy holy and blessed ways.

O Holy Mary, as I here adore thy Divine Son, pray for all little children, that they may be protected from all harm and danger, and that they may grow in grace and in favour with God and man.

We pray thee, O Father, that the holy joy of Christmas may fill our minds with thoughts of peace, and our hearts with a sense of thy great love: hasten the time when war being done away, we may love as brethren, and bring in the reign of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the Name + of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Relic of the Manger

20 December 2010

Getting ready...

Preparations have begun to get the church ready for the Christmas celebrations.  Slowly, the subdued feeling of Advent is giving way to the joy of the Holy Nativity, as the transformation of the sanctuary and nave takes place.  It gives a real sense of transition from one season to another, as we remain in the purple vestments of Advent, while being surrounded by the first outward signs of Christmas.

The schedule for Christmas is as follows:

Christmas Eve
Sung Mass at 5:00 p.m.
Choral Music at 11:00 p.m.
Solemn Mass and Procession of the Christ Child at 11:30 p.m.

Christmas Day
Sung Mass at 10:00 a.m.

Feast of the Holy Family (Sunday, 26th December)
Low Mass at 7:30 a.m.
Sung Masses at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
Latin Mass (O.F) at 6:00 p.m.

19 December 2010

Just do it, already!

Yet another article from Fr. Z about a priest celebrating Mass ad orientem.

My standard response written a few years ago.

Honestly, just do it!

18 December 2010

Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Dream of St. Joseph by Georges La Tour

We beseech thee, Almighty God, to purify our consciences by thy daily visitation, that when thy Son our Lord cometh he may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

17 December 2010

Newman shrine getting closer...

Yesterday the completed painting of Blessed John Henry Newman arrived, and it will soon be installed in the shrine which is presently being constructed.  Although it's not yet framed and just leaning against the wall in my office, I couldn't resist taking a picture.  The painting is five feet tall, and depicts Cardinal Newman standing in his study at Littlemore.  When the shrine is completed I'll have more (and better) pictures.

Late Advent

Today is the first day of Late Advent, and we begin the great “O Antiphons,” which lead up to the Vigil of the Nativity. Each antiphon highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel, and they are taken from the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the coming of the Messiah.

The order of the antiphons isn't accidental. If we work backwards, beginning with the last title and take the first letter of each antiphon -- Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia -- the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” The Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and to whom we refer in these seven Messianic titles, tells us: “Tomorrow, I will come.”

14 December 2010

In Washington, D.C.

I've been in Washington, D.C. for the past few days.  The members of The Papal Foundation are marvellous -- a dedicated group of Catholic laity who take the responsibility of their personal resources very seriously, by giving generous financial support to the work of the Holy Father, and they're equally serious in their personal spiritual lives.  Mass yesterday morning was at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where I concelebrated with Cardinal McCarrick in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, after which I joined several other priests in hearing confessions.

I was invited to speak about the coming Ordinariate, and there was great interest and support for what the Holy Father is preparing to do through Anglicanorum coetibus.  The talk opened up lots of opportunities for private conversations about the movement of Anglicans into full communion with the Catholic Church, and what seemed strange to people when we began nearly thirty years ago, now is more fully understood and appreciated.  All in all, this opportunity to speak to the Foundation has helped tremendously in getting the word out concerning the coming Ordinariates.  Most people had read about it, but to hear from a "real live person" about it makes a big difference.

This morning we went to the office of the Archdiocese for Military Services, where I concelebrated Mass with Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who is a delightful and dedicated bishop.  It was a great opportunity to learn more about the Church's ministry to our men and women in military service, and it was especially meaningful to me, with so many in the parish who are in this service to our nation.

Later this afternoon we'll be going to the Papal Nunciature, where we'll attend a reception and dinner hosted by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America.  That occasion will end with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and then... back to San Antonio!

I've been traveling a lot lately, and I'm looking forward to getting back.  Of course, in a little over a month several of us will be making another pilgrimage to the Holy Land... then the "Becoming One" gathering in Kansas City in February...  hmmm... I guess I'd better keep my suitcase where I can reach it easily.

12 December 2010

In the air again...

No, I'm not like St. Joseph Cupertino or St. Pio of Pietrelcina, enabled by God to levitate.  I'm taking the normal mode of transportation to Washington, D.C., where I'll be speaking at the Winter Meeting of The Papal Foundation, telling the members about Anglicanorum coetibus, and explaining a bit about the Ordinariate which will be established.  I'll be returning to San Antonio on Tuesday evening, and I'd be grateful for your prayers for safe travel.

08 December 2010

Consecration to the Immaculate Heart

Our parish consecrated itself to Mary's Immaculate Heart during the first year of its establishment, and we renew the consecration every year on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

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

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

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

A Different Christmas Poem

I know we're not even half-way through Advent, so it's a little early for Christmas poems, but someone sent me this link, and I can't help but share it.  Warning: it may cause a tear or two...

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

O God, who in the foreknowledge of thy Son’s most precious death didst consecrate for him a dwelling-place by the spotless Conception of the Blessed Virgin: mercifully grant that she who was preserved from all defilement; may evermore pray for us until we attain unto thee in purity of heart; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Low Mass at 7:00 a.m.
Sung Masses at 9:15 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

07 December 2010

Sessions at St. Mary's

If you'd like to hear the talks from the Ordinariate information day at St. Mary of the Angels in Los Angeles, go here.

The recording of the first session is rather muffled for the first 33 minutes, but the quality then improves dramatically for the rest of the recordings.

Sixty-nine years ago...

06 December 2010

St. Nicholas of Myra

Relic of St. Nicholas, in the Lady Chapel.

Almighty God, who in thy love didst give to thy servant St. Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both on land and sea: Grant, we pray thee, that thy Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


05 December 2010