Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent and Christmas

During this year's Advent and Christmas, I have really wanted to make it special. Not only because of the lack of classes (so I can focus), or for the loss of so many loved ones this year. I really wanted to make it real in my life. So during prayer at the beginning of advent, it hit me. What if we knew, for certain, the day that Christ was coming back to us. What would we do? How would be prepare for that?

That is how I wanted to treat Advent this year. I wanted to prepare like He would dwell amongst us again and that I must prepare myself for that day. And when that day did arrive it was a day of peace; it was not dramatic, He came in like a lamb. Our lives had not suddenly been changed. So we must continue to live our lives in preparation for what is to come. Then, before you know it, it is the New Year. A time to put away last year and hope and dream for a better year to come. We can use this time to reflect on how we want to be more Christ-like during the upcoming year.

That is the beauty of the Catholic Liturgical year. Although we should always be living as though Christ will return to us at any moment, our busy lives get in the way. The Church reminds us that the Word was made flesh in the past and He will return again. It forces us to pause and remember. It allows us to reflect on how we can make next year a little better; to do our part to bring the City of God to the City of Man.

God Bless and I pray we all have a better 2011.

December 19th: 3rd Day of the Octave Before Christmas

O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples: kings stand silent in you presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18: 2nd day of the Octave Before Christmas

O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

Friday, December 17, 2010

December 17: 1st Day of the Octave before Christmas

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.

Monday, December 6, 2010

On This Day

On this day in 1965, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras simultaneously lifted the mutual excommunications between the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople. These excommunications, which became the Great Schism, had been in place since 1054 and effectively separated the eastern and western churches.

It was about time, don't you think?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Giving During the Christmas Season

This time of year is traditionally a time for us to open our wallets and contribute to a worthy cause. At this time of year, I can think of no better place to invest our money than for our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land and the Middle East. There is great suffering in this part of the world in what can only be called religious genocide. Every week, Christians are being martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. The slaughter in Iraq is just the most recent examples of the whole sale massacre of Christians in this part of the world. WARNING: photos in the linked article are graphic.

For some reason, no one seems to care; not the media, not our government, not even mainstream Christians in the United States.

So if you would like to help our Christian brothers and sisters in the the Middle East, I encourage you to find a good charity and send them a donation (any amount is a blessing). My favorite is:

Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land

God Bless and I hope everyone has a wonderful Advent and Christmas Season.

David Horowitz at UCSD 5/10/2010. Hosted by Young Americans for Freedom...

The video includes a portion of the "questions and answers" part of a lecture by David Horowitz. It is a chilling reminder of what some Muslim students in the United States believe.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Feast Day of Edmund Campion

I enjoy browsing international sites to find those saints that we do not honor in the Liturgy of the Hours in the United States. One of those saints is Edmund Campion, who was martyred in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

On this day in 1581, he has hung, drawn and quartered for being nothing more than a Catholic priest caring for the Catholics in Protestant England. You can read about him HERE.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"The pope smiled" - The Deacon's Bench

"The pope smiled" - The Deacon's Bench

The debate over the Popes comments on the use of condoms is causing quite a stir. This stirring the of pot so to speak, like the attached article states, seems to have been the point all along. In this case, the issue (i.e the intent) is not about birth control, it is about the spread of disease. A lesson in classic moral theology (the act - the intent - the circumstances).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book of Wisdom

Does this passage from Book of Wisdom (Wisdom 2:1-11) not speak of the world in which we live?

They who said among themselves, thinking not aright: "Brief and troublous is our lifetime; neither is there any remedy for man's dying, nor is anyone known to have come back from the nether world. For haphazard were we born, and hereafter we shall be as though we had not been; Because the breath in our nostrils is a smoke and reason is a spark at the beating of our hearts, and when this is quenched, our body will be ashes and our spirit will be poured abroad like unresisting air.

Even our name will be forgotten in time, and no one will recall our deeds. So our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud, and will be dispersed like a mist pursued by the sun's rays and overpowered by its heat. For our lifetime is the passing of a shadow; and our dying cannot be deferred because it is fixed with a seal; and no one returns.

Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are real, and use the freshness of creation avidly. Let us have our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no springtime blossom pass us by; let us crown ourselves with rosebuds ere they wither.

Let no meadow be free from our wantonness; everywhere let us leave tokens of our rejoicing, for this our portion is, and this our lot. Let us oppress the needy just man; let us neither spare the widow nor revere the old man for his hair grown white with time. But let our strength be our norm of justice; for weakness proves itself useless.

Even 2,000 years ago it was clear that any social structure or world view that chooses to deny God and the sanctity of life will lead to the destruction of that society and allow injustice to reign over the most venerable of our brothers and sisters.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

End of Another Year

Yesterday was the end of another academic year for my formation class. This again has been both a wonderful and difficult year at the same time. It seems everyone in class struggled with some of the academics but most notably in our personal lives. From the death of parents, the illness of our children and our own personal struggles with health, we have all felt like what Fr Tim called "being in the olive press". There was a real sense of exhaustion. However, I think that there was a consensus that it would have been more difficult year without the support of our formation family and with the strengthening of our faith that the formation process has provided us with.

We also lost another classmate this year. Although he is leaving our class, he will be moving to Missouri and has already been accepted into their current formation program. Alan will be missed but we know he will be with us in spirit. That gets us down to 12 from the original 16 we had in our class.

The most pleasant surprise was that the Deacon in charge of formation came in and spoke to us about next year and preparations for ordination. After four years of study, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is almost surreal.

So now, after all of the tests, papers, and presentations, we are ready for a break; to rest and recharge for the upcoming year. And for the first time in many years, we will be able to take full advantage of Advent (classes no longer end in mid-December) and all that this season offers (thanks Deacon Steve). I will certainly make the most of it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sunrise, Edisto , SC II

As my sister-in-law says: YEAH GOD!!!!
Sunrise at Edisto, SC

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fr O'Reilly Saves Atlanta Churches on This Day

146 years ago, Fr Thomas O'Reilly, a Catholic priest at Immaculate Conception parish in Atlanta, is credited with saving several churches and residences in Atlanta from destruction by Federal troops that were occupying the city. The orders, from General Sherman, required the destruction of all structures in the city. A report filed by Confederate officials after the event stated.

"The City Hall is damaged but not burned. The Second Baptist, Second (Central) Presbyterian, Trinity and Catholic churches and all the residences adjacent between Mitchell and Peters (Trinity Avenue) streets, running south of east, and Loyd and Washington streets running south of west, are safe, all attributable to Father O'Reilly, who refused to give up his parsonage to Yankee officers, who were looking out for fine houses for quarters, and there being a large number of Catholics in the Yankee army, who volunteered to protect their Church and Parsonage, and would not allow any houses adjacent to be fired that would endanger them. As proof of their attachment to their Church and love for Father O'Reilly, a soldier who attempted to fire Col. Calhoun's house, the burning of which would have endangered the whole block was shot and killed, and his grave is now marked. So to Father O'Reilly the country is indebted for the protection of the City Hall, Churches, etc."
During reconstruction of the city, a new Immaculate Conception parish was planned under the guidance and direction of Fr O'Reilly. It remains one of the most beautiful churches in Atlanta.

Fr O'Reilly is truly one of Atlanta's early heroes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Guy Fawkes Day

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence [or By God's mercy] he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Hulloa boys, Hulloa boys, let the bells ring.
Hulloa boys, hulloa boys, God save the King!

Today is the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot where Guy Fawkes and several conspirators attempted to blow up Parliament, with King James inside. Guy Fawkes is considered by many to be the only person to ever enter Parliament with honest intentions.

On the serious side, this is a time to remember that politics and religion do not tend to mix very well.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gender and Christian Anthropology

In my Christian Anthropology class, we have been studying what it is to be human from a Christian perspective. Recently in one of our classes, we were discussing the break-down of the nuclear family. I was struck by this quote from Archbishop Robert Sarah at the Synod of African Bishops in October 2009.

The theory of gender is a western socializing ideology in relations between men and women, which attaches itself to the marital identity of the human being to the anthropological complementary between man and woman, to marriage, to motherhood and fatherhood, to the family and to procreation. It is contrary of African culture and to the human truths illuminated by the divine revelations of Jesus Christ. The idea of gender separates the biological sex of masculine and feminine identity in stating that it is not intrinsic to the person, but is a social construct.

In the name of this ideology, which denies God’s plan, it is stated that from the start we are indeterminate; society models the masculine and feminine gender according to changing choices of the individual. The right to choose is the supreme value of this new ethic.

In African culture, man is nothing without woman and woman is nothing without man. Both are nothing if the child isn’t the center of the family created by a man and a woman and the base of society. Ideology of gender unbalances the meaning of marital and family life that Africa has maintained until now.

How did we get here and how do we change course?

As an aside, Archbishop Sarah was named "Cardinal" last month by Pope Benedict.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Martyrdom of Catholic Healthcare in America

The title may sound alarmist but I feel that is exactly what is happening in America. I feel this is due to increased competition and the ever expanding role of hospitals providing services that are contrary to teachings of the Catholic Church. The services are, arguably, required in the new health-care legislation passed by congress this year.

It is truly martyrdom because these institutions are being closed, not because of the quality of the services they provide, but for what they refuse to provide. These hospital have a choice, provide services that are contrary to their moral foundation or die. I think many, if not most, will choose to die rather than provide services mandated by our culture of death .

We have a situation in Atlanta where St Josephs Hospital is, for all intents and purposes, being forced to close its doors as a Catholic institution . This institution was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1880 and is the oldest hospital in Atlanta. Attempts at mergers have failed due to issues of "governance and operational disagreements" (in my opinion, code words for St Josephs refusal to provide services contrary to Catholic teaching). This situation at St Josephs is personal because not only have I seen the quality of the medical services provided by this hospital; but more importantly by the compassion of the hospital staff. One month ago, my mother was admitted to this hospital due to complications from ovarian cancer. She died in the intensive care unit. The level of compassion exhibited by the staff during this difficult time cannot be understated. They knew the sacredness of what was happening and treated it as such. To have a Catholic priest, who is on staff at the hospital, anoint my mother at death is not something you get in any hospital. For the rest of my life I will be thankful for the love and tenderness they showed my family during this difficult time. The closing of this great Catholic hospital will be a great loss for the City of Atlanta.

What will become of Catholic health care in America? I pray that there will somehow be a re-birth of these institutions, where the traditions started by people like the Sisters of Mercy at St Josephs will continue.

My Favorite Churches

The Dom: Cologne, Germany

Thursday, October 28, 2010

2010 Ordination

Great Video on the Priesthood

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Open Wide the Doors to Christ"

It is an exciting time for the Church. The resurgence of the religious orders in this country is truly a blessing and an example of "God in our Midst". Take a look at the video below, which is an example of what is happening in this country. To see the average age of an order to be 28. To see young, vibrant and happy young women living the life of a nun and serving the Church. This is exactly the witness this country needs to see in order to cast off the social experiments of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s and return to a world where ones own self gratification is NOT an end in itself. Serving God and one another is where true happiness lies.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saint Teresa of Avila

I had to re-post this from one of my favorite blogs (Canterbury Tales)

Top Ten Quotes from Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint and Doctor of the Catholic Church:

  1. “Patience attains All that it strives for. He who has God Finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.”
  2. “It is love alone that gives worth to all things”
  3. “Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.”
  4. “Pain is never permanent.”
  5. “To have courage for whatever comes in life - everything lies in that.”
  6. “What a great favor God does to those He places in the company of good people!”
  7. “More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”
  8. “It is true that we cannot be free from sin, but at least let our sins not be always the same.”
  9. (said of God): "If this is the way you treat your friends, it's no wonder you have so few!”
  10. “Let nothing disturb thee, nothing affright thee; all things are passing; God never changeth.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


A good discussion on the necessity of Dogma is HERE.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two New Cardinals for the US

Pope Benedict named two new Cardinals from the US.

Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington

You can read about all of his appointments as well as analysis HERE.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Quote from the Confessions of St Augustine

And then, little by little, there came back to me my former memories of thy handmaid: her devout life toward thee, her holy tenderness and attentiveness toward us, which had suddenly been taken away from me--and it was a solace for me to weep in thy sight, for her and for myself, about her and about myself. Thus I set free the tears which before I repressed, that they might flow at will, spreading them out as a pillow beneath my heart. And it rested on them, for thy ears were near me--not those of a man, who would have made a scornful comment about my weeping. But now in writing I confess it to thee, O Lord! Read it who will, and comment how he will, and if he finds me to have sinned in weeping for my mother for part of an hour--that mother who was for a while dead to my eyes, who had for many years wept for me that I might live in thy eyes--let him not laugh at me; but if he be a man of generous love, let him weep for my sins against thee, the Father of all the brethren of thy Christ.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Last night my dear mother was taken back to the Lord. May she rest in peace.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Official Into Great Silence US Trailer

St Bruno

Today is the feast day of St Bruno. Not only was he born in my favorite German city (Cologne) but he is also the founder of the great contemplative order, the Carthusians.

Several years ago and good friend and I went to see the film "Into Great Silence", which covers the life of the monks at the Grand Chartreuse, in France.

I have added a trailer of the film to the blog.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prayer to Our Lady of Palestine

O Mary Immaculate, gracious Queen of Heaven and of Earth, behold us prostrate before thy exalted throne. Full of confidence in thy goodness and in thy boundless power, we beseech thee to turn a pitying glance upon Palestine, which, more than any other country, belongs to thee, since thou hast graced it with thy birth, thy virtues and thy sorrows, and from there hast given the Redeemer to the world.

Remember that there especially thou wast constituted our tender Mother, the dispenser of graces. Watch, therefore, with special protection over thy native country, dispel from it the shades of error, for it was there that the Son of Eternal Justice shone. Bring about the speedy fulfillment of the promise, which issued from the lips of thy Divine Son, that there should be one fold and one Shepherd.

Obtain for us all that we may serve the Lord in sanctity and justice during all the days of our life, so that, by the merits of Jesus and with thy motherly aid, we may pass at last from this earthly Jerusalem to the splendors of the heavenly one. Amen.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Canterbury Tales by Taylor Marshall: President Obama Leaves out Creator

Canterbury Tales by Taylor Marshall: President Obama Leaves out Creator: "From Obama’s speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on September 15, 2010: “So let me close by saying this. Long before America was ev..."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Clinging to Life

This story continues to break my heart;, even when the cynical side of me has to ask the question. How can someone say they are praying for a miracle for someone when they are, at the same time, denying that very same person the nutrition they need to live?

I pray for a miracle that this young woman recovers, even after 45 days of being denied the food she needs to live. I also pray that her husband can find wisdom and peace in this terrible situation.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I got this from the Deacons Bench. Deacon Greg referenced it from an article by Mark Shea at the National Catholic Register on the Death Penalty. I liked his summary, where he says:

Sorry, but the Church does not exist to affirm us in our ideological preferences. It exists to teach us (among other things) and challenge us with the truth of the gospel. Our posture is to be one of docility to the voice of the Magisterium, not to be blogospheric popinjays who glance at the teaching, declare it nonsense, and return to our comfy ideological holes. We are not, as Catholics, to play the game of Simon Peter Says, in which the Faith is reduced to nothing but a few dogmas, while all the rest of the Church’s wisdom is to be reflexively spat out if it does not comport with our cramped tribal pieties. Only thus and not otherwise will our Catholic faith fulfill the truth Chesterton spoke when he said, “The Catholic Church is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.”

You can read the entire article here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

St Monica: Patron Saint of Mothers

St Monica by John Nava

Today is the feast day of St Monica, the mother of St Augustine. She is the patron saint of mothers because of her persistent prayer for her husband and son to find the faith of Christ and turn away from their secular lifestyle. Through her perseverance, her prayers were answered.

I recently finished St Augustine's "Confessions" and was taken by his mothers persistent care for her son. In his early life, he could be quit cruel to her, yet she persevered in her prayers and never let go of her love for her son or for her desire for him to find Christ. One of the most touching parts of St Augustine's Confessions was his reflection upon his mothers death where he said:

"And then, little by little, there came back to me my former memories of thy handmaid: her devout life toward thee, her holy tenderness and attentiveness toward us, which had suddenly been taken away from me--and it was a solace for me to weep in thy sight, for her and for myself, about her and about myself. Thus I set free the tears which before I repressed, that they might flow at will, spreading them out as a pillow beneath my heart. And it rested on them, for thy ears were near me--not those of a man, who would have made a scornful comment about my weeping. But now in writing I confess it to thee, O Lord! Read it who will, and comment how he will, and if he finds me to have sinned in weeping for my mother for part of an hour--that mother who was for a while dead to my eyes, who had for many years wept for me that I might live in thy eyes--let him not laugh at me; but if he be a man of generous love, let him weep for my sins against thee, the Father of all the brethren of thy Christ. "

Parents' Prayer to Saint Monica

Saint Monica, patron of Christian parents, we entrust to your protection, the children whose names you can read in our hearts. Pray for them, that they may be granted strength to combat weakness, victory over temptation, guidance to resolve their doubts, and success in all their undertakings.

May they enjoy good health of mind and body, see beauty and worth in all created things, and serve the Lord with firm faith, joyful hope and enduring love.


St Monica, pray for us and our children.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mother Teresa

Today would have been Mother Teresa's 100th birthday. Take a look over at Whispers to read her address when she received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mother Teresa, pray for us.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Till Death Do you Part

I read a story about life, love and death.

A bright future suddenly trust into the bitter reality of life.

A story about decisions we make on behalf of people we love and struggling with whether they are what is right or wrong.

The story begins:

Every photograph tells a story. Some, like these, tell two.

They are pictures of Jim and Trisha Duguay’s wedding day. A day 18 months in the planning, every detail seems perfect: Orange Gerber daisies float in glass bowls, a three-tiered cupcake wedding cake waits in a reception hall, bright pink rose petals dot the Dahlonega winery grounds. A ray of sunshine bursts through threatening mid-May skies just as the early evening ceremony begins.

Trisha, 27, a blond and vivacious administrative assistant, beams in her lace wedding dress with a fuchsia sash, her toenails painted to match. Jim, 38, a soft-spoken engineer, cradles her face as he kisses her.

But look closer, and you’ll see another story unfolding.

Read about Trish and Jim's story HERE.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Feast of the Assumption

Philippe De Champaigne

A great homily by Benedict XVI on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary can be found HERE.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Feast of St Lawrence, Martyr

Frescoe - Vatican Chapel

Today's feast is for one of the great martyrs of the Church. St Lawrence was a deacon to Pope Sixtus II in the 3rd century. During the Valerian persecution, Pope Sixtus II was arrested with several deacons (including St Lawrence) while saying Mass in a catacombs. The pope and the deacons were martyred that same day but St Lawrence was spared because the Emperor wanted him to collect all of the treasure of the Church and bring it to him. Tradition has it that St Lawrence collected all of the treasure and distributed it to the poor. Three days later, St Lawrence was arrested and executed by slowly burning him on a grill.


How many of us are ready to die for our faith? We do have modern examples of those who have attained sainthood like St Maximilian Kolbe; but we know that Christians are martyred every year, especially in countries where other faith traditions are not tolerated. As we speak, the Church in Iraq and Afghanistan are being targeted by people who want to clean the world of those who do not think like them.

For those of us who are considering ordination to the diaconate, we must be ready to give up our life for the defense of the Church. It is a question we must ask ourselves during the discernment process.

So lets pause a moment to remember those who have died for our faith and ask St Lawrence to pray for them as well as those who persecute them.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Taken from The Crescat

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Basilica of St Mary Major - Rome

Today is the feast day of the Basilica of St Mary Major. It is one of the most beautiful churces in Rome.

Apse of Basilica of St Mary Major

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

St Thomas More

Today is the feast day of St Thomas More. He was executed during the reign of Henry VIII of England because of his refusal to support the Act of Supremacy of 1534. The Act of Supremacy named the King of Queen of England as head of the local church. He was beheaded at the tower of London and reportedly buried in the Chapel of St Peter. His memorial (above) is in a room off the chapel and not usually open for public viewing.

He was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1935.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Attached is an interesting article about the nun who, as the head of a Catholic Hospital, was excommunicated in Phoenix, Arizona over her approval of an abortion.

What Happened in Phoenix?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Church

I read an inspiring column by Anthony Esolen, over at Inside Catholic, about the Catholic Church. My favorite portion is:

I love this Church, this bride, this sheepfold, this ark, this glorious cathedral. I love the soaring visions of blessedness that inspired the glaziers of the rose windows of Chartres; and I love, sometimes I am not sure why, the same Church that has turned louche show tunes into hymns for the common people. I love the Church for which St. Thomas Aquinas wrote his great compendia of theology and philosophy, dictating, it is said, four separate books to four secretaries simultaneously as he paced about his room; and I love the Church that sells simple holy cards to old women who miss their beloved dead. I love the Church that celebrates the sacrament of the altar under Bernini's baldacchino at St. Peter's, and in a bamboo hut in Africa; a Church of untold riches, and sometimes terrible poverty. I love a Church great enough to exalt a middle-class girl dying of consumption, a Therese of Lisieux, to the status of doctor, a teacher of endurance and faith amid suffering. I love a Church whose saints shine forth in beauty -- a simple Francis of Assisi, hymning the goodness of all creation; a King Louis IX, meting out justice and mercy under a tree in Paris; a Mother Teresa, smiling with kindness upon the destitute and the dying of Calcutta. And I love a Church filled to the clerestory with sinners, some of whom make their silent way to the confessional every month or so, while others err at the margins, looking warily but longingly to their Mother, hoping someday to return home.

Read the essay in its entirety HERE.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Holy Spirit

With the feast of Pentecost upon us, I looked for a inspirational description of the Holy Spirit and how He speaks to us. So leave to Taylor Marshall at Canterbury Tales to provide me with a reflection from one of our Church Fathers.

The Living Water of the Holy Spirit - Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

The water I shall give him will become in him a fountain of living water, welling up into eternal life. This is a new kind of water, a living, leaping water, welling up for those who are worthy. But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirit water? Because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it. In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of his action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvellous. The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man’s self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the needs of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good. The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well. As light strikes the eyes of a man who comes out of darkness into the sunshine and enables him to see clearly things he could not discern before, so light floods the soul of the man counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables him to see things beyond the range of human vision, things hitherto undreamed of.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Wonderful Quote for Mothers

This is a wonderful quote from Cardinal Mindzenty on motherhood.

“A Christian mother cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral—a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body. The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. . . . God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation. What on God’s good earth is more glorious than this—to be a mother?”

Friday, April 30, 2010

Revised Roman Missal

Coming to a Catholic Church near you!!

The New Version of the Roman Missal has been approved by the Vatican. Last I heard, the date for implementation in the U.S. will be Holy Week 2011.

You can read about it HERE.

You can read the translation HERE.

Lay Blessings During Communion

A topic that has been discussed at length over the last few years has been the practice of lay people giving blessings to individuals during communion. It is technically not appropriate for this to occur. As a result, what to do when someone approaches an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist (myself included) for a blessing has caused some difficulties. In fact, it is my understanding that neither a priest or a deacon should give a blessing during communion.

However, I read an interesting discussion of this problem by Bishop Chaput of Denver. He said that the words "Receive the Lord Jesus in your Heart" can be spoken by either a Priest, Deacon or Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. These words are not a blessing but an invitation into this mystery. More of Bishop Chaput's explanation as well as more debate on this topic can be found HERE.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

St Catherine of Siena

St Catherine of Siena's Feast Day.

St Catherine was an amazing woman. Born during a turbulent period of Church history, she was influential in convincing the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon. Her writings are some of the most influential in the Church and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1970. She died at the age of 33.

She is buried at Santa Maria supra Minerva in Rome (in the shadows of the Pantheon) and is one of my favorites in the city.

St Catherine of Siena, pray for us.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Feast Day of St Mark

Today is the feast day of St Mark (my name sake). Not much is known about St Mark outside of what we read in the Acts of the Apostles. He was know to be a disciple of Peter and traveled with Paul and Barnabas in Paul's first missionary journey. He also traveled with Peter to Rome and was the first Bishop of Alexandria.

The Gospel written by Mark is the shortest and considered the first of the four. He was martyred in Alexandria in 68 ad.

St Mark the Evangelist, pray for us.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A New Post

Sorry for not posting in quite a while. The last 10 weeks have been quite a journey and not sure where to start; so I will start with what has kept me from having the energy or desire to post.

On March 17th, I lost a dear friend, Deacon Al Weber. I have known Dcn Al for over 19 years. He and his wife Marilyn were one of the first families to welcome us to St Thomas the Apostle Church. At the time, we were a young family with two small children and we immediately felt welcome. Over the years, Al was a constant presence in the church, and this was before he became a deacon.

Dcn Al's influence on my exploration into the diaconate cannot be underestimated. His emphasis on service to the Church, which is mostly unseen by the parish at large, deeply moved me. Once I entered formation, he calmed many of my fears and helped me understand the process. We had recently begun a ritual of meeting for evening prayer on Thursday evenings.

So on a Thursday evening in January, Al complained about his Crohn's Disease acting up. He had been suffering with this disease for many years. He finally went to the doctor and had a CAT scan, where they found a mass in his small intestines. A week or so later he was admitted to the hospital to have it removed. Long story made short, he was diagnosed with cancer in his small intestines and it had already metastasized to his liver. He had the mass removed but his health deteriorated rapidly after the surgery. He was back in the hospital one more time to insert a feeding tube because he was not able to eat due to his liver shutting down. At this point, he was in and out of consciousness. After he was stabilized, he was moved to hospice where I was able to visit with him on several occasions. He was never awake but I felt I needed to keep vigil. Dcn Al died on St Patrick's Day.

One of the last things Dcn Al said to me before his last trip to the hospital was that Karen and I should do those things that we dream about and do it sooner rather than later. He said "we never know how long we have in this life so we should live it to the fullest". I think we will take his advise.

God Bless and thanks for reading.

[as a sidebar: Dcn Al was the third member of the clergy at St Thomas we have lost in the last 9 months].

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter everyone.

I hope this Easter Season reminds us all of the blessings we share in our faith in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Annunciation

The Annunciation:Henry Ossawa Tanner

It is now exactly nine months to Christmas. So on the feast of the Annunciation, we can celebrate two things as we near the end of Lent. First, Mary said yes to God. It is through her action of free will that we reap the benefits of Christ's salvific actions for mankind. I pray that we all learn to say yes to God when he calls us.

Second, the Word became flesh on this day. Although Christ was in his mothers womb, He was among us; beginning the journey as both God and man.

May God Bless each and every one of you during these closing days of Lent.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Waking a Sleeping Giant: Will Christians Take Their Faith to the Public Arena?

I read an interesting article recently about Archbishop Chaput of Denver delivering a speech at the Houston Baptist University. In the speech, he said that President Kennedy's speech on faith and public policy was "sincere, compelling, articulate - and wrong". The archbishop was speaking about Kennedy's assertion that there was a divide between ones faith life and the implementation of public policy. Somehow, Christians began to believe their faith life was a personal journey and had no place in the public arena. This new paradigm lead many Christians to turn the other way and allow our public leaders to enact legislation that is in clear violation of Christian morals and values. The fruits of this inaction has been a country where the dignity of the human person has been ignored. To prove this, all anyone has to do is turn on the TV.

In the 1980s and 90s, there were signs that this paradigm may be changing with the advent of the "Moral Majority" movement. However, this group's alignment as a conservative Protestant organization with ties to the far right of the Republican party lead to it becoming irrelevant in public life.

But there are broader signs that this paradigm maybe coming to an end. Catholic Bishops are now making a stand on health care legislation. Grassroots organizations like are mobilizing people to become engaged in public debate. There has been a lot of "push back" on the issue of same-sex marriage. Much of this activity is coming from Christians of all faith traditions and from the "center" of the political spectrum in the United States. The Catholic Church being the largest of these faith traditions to make a stand.

Are we finally seeing Christians waking up from a long nap and finding a country that they do not understand? A country where their ideals are called mean spirited and hateful by a very small but vocal minority.

I think the answer is yes; especially when you see dialogue between diverse groups of Christians like Archbishop Chaput's speech at Houston Baptist University.

You can read Archbishop Chaput's speech in its entirety here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Could Anglicanorum Coetibus Lead to Liturgical Renewal

Being raised an Episcopalian, I have always had a deep love of sacred liturgy and by sacred liturgy I mean that there is a real sense, by the community gathered, that one is in the presence of God during the Holy Eucharist. Since my conversion to the Catholic faith, I have joked with many of my Catholic friends that one could argue that the traditional Anglican service has more Catholic elements than the Mass celebrated in many Catholic churches in the United States.

So it has been a surprise that, since the publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus, there has been a lot a anticipation about allowing Anglican Use elements into mainstream Catholic Churches. Just this week, an article in the Wall Street Journal covered a story about Evensong being celebrated from the Book of Divine Worship (an Anglican Use liturgy approved by Rome) in, of all things, a Catholic Church that regularly celebrates the Tridentine Mass.

Is the attraction to this Liturgy, especially to traditional Catholics, due to the fact that it is not only in the vernacular but maintains a sense of the sacred? Could the foundation of Anglican Ordinates within dioceses around the United States lead to a renewal of that sense of the sacred within the Mass in those dioceses? This process will certainly be an interesting thing to observe over the next few years; especially with the introduction of the revised Missal, which is due out next year.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Feast Day of St Polycarp

Today is the feast day of St Polycarp. Since I live in the city of Smyrna Georgia, I feel it is appropriate to pause and reflect on one of the true heroes of the Church. He was a disciple of St John the Apostle, bishop of Smyrna in the 2nd century and was martyred at the age of 86.

As we enter the first week of Lent, Polycarp reminds us, in his "Letter to the Philippians", of where we should focus our attention.

"Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning; "watching unto prayer," and persevering in fasting; beseeching in our supplications the all-seeing God "not to lead us into temptation," as the Lord has said: "The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak."

After almost 2,000 years,these words are as applicable today as they were then.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Growing Church in North Georgia

Yesterday I had the privilege to assist as an acolyte at the Rite of Election in Atlanta, Georgia. Over 2,000 people were present to continue their preparation for full communion into the Catholic Church. Reports are that this group is much larger than dioceses with three times the population of the Diocese of Atlanta. It is further proof of the vitality of the Church in the American South.

You can get more details over at Whispers in the Loggia.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

LENT Begins

We are entering the preparatory process for welcoming the Risen Jesus on Easter Sunday. Each year I try to do two things beyond the ordinary. First, I find something to change in my life that I want to be permanent (not something that is just given up during Lent). Second, I try to find a way to deepen my understanding of the Passion so that the joy of Easter is tangible.

During that search I found an interesting site that provides daily reflections during lent and is based on spiritual exercises of St Ignatius. Take a look at it here.

I pray that we all take this time of year to:

  • Reflect on who Jesus is in our lives;
  • Deepen our understanding of our relationship with him; and
  • Learn to do His will.
If we do these things, the joy of Easter will be tangible and I sincerely believe that we can make a little bit of heaven on earth.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

ROME REPORTS TV News Agency - The 67 miracles of Lourdes

ROME REPORTS TV News Agency - The 67 miracles of Lourdes

Sin and Confession

Over lunch, I read an article about sin and confession over at Fr Longenecker's blog. It was a good read especially where he was discussing how many of the sins we discount may be some of the most serious. Some of the most common examples are where he says:

".... to gossip and talk badly about others, to complain and grumble all the time and to be bitter and negative habitually may be far more serious because we ignore it and pretend we're not doing anyone any harm. At least with the big fight we feel bad and know it is a sin. With the casual gossip, back biting, nasty comments and negativity we often come away actually feeling better about ourselves."

All good food for thought. You can read the entire article here.

Our Lady of Lourdes

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes. She holds a special place in my heart since I credit her, more than any other person, with being the one that showed me the way to her son (in spite of my protestant upbringing). She was the one that pointed Him out to me. It is a long story that I hope to find time to share later.

We see examples of God working miracles through the prayers of Mary and Bernadette Soubirous is a perfect example. After more than 130 years, Bernadette is still the perfect picture of peace.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Growing Church in the South

Growing up in North Georgia, Catholics were very much in the minority. The area was dominated by protestant churches, especially those of the baptist faith.

That situation has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. This change was recently illustrated in the latest "Book of Lists", published by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. My parish, St Thomas the Apostle , is now listed as the second largest parish in the region (19,780 members). Catholic Churches now make up eight (8) of the top 25 churches in the metro area (based on registered members). That is more parishes than any other denomination on the list. To handle the load, St. Thomas now has nine (9) Masses every weekend. This heavy Mass schedule is seen throughout parishes in the Archdiocese.

As a result, this growth has resulted in a building boom in the metro area, and the need for more schools. Recently, the Deacon's Bench blog featured an article on the success of Catholic education in Atlanta. You can read more about that topic HERE.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Last night was the Institution of Reader (class of 2013) and Acolyte (class of 2012). It was a wonderful evening with our new Auxiliary Bishop Luis Zarama.

Two more years of work to go.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Media Bias in Pro-life Issues

The video speaks for itself. Watch it HERE.

Friday, January 29, 2010

2010 Formation Classes Begin Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the beginning of another year of formation classes. The first semester will consist of:

New Testament Letters
Canon Law
Theology of the Holy Spirit
Social Justice (Just Faith)
Christology - Trinity
Pastoral Care (class at St Joseph's Hospital).

We will also be instituted as Acolytes on February 2nd.

It's going to be a good year.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

ROME REPORTS TV News Agency - Vatican calls for more lay participation in politics

RomeReports has produced a good video on the responsibilities of the laity in society. To often it seems that we do not understand our role in championing causes of our faith outside of the walls of the Church. We, the laity, are critical in creating a just society.

ROME REPORTS TV News Agency - Vatican calls for more lay participation in politics

Salvation Outside the Church

I read a good article over at on the Church's teaching on salvation outside the Church. The article was describing correspondence between the author and a protestant, who was questioning Catholic teaching on whether a Muslin can be saved. My favorite quote was "...that the Church teaches that any person who, responding to the grace he has been given, seeks to know God and do His will (or if he has no opportunity to know God, at least seeks to know the good and to do it) may be saved". This approach to salvation was not acceptable to the protestant, primarily do to individual interpretation of scripture. The article goes on to discuss the necessity of the magisterium in guiding our interpretation of scripture.

The article provides a great road map on how to discuss this issue with people. You can find the article here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

150th Anniversary Video Posted

Great video on the 150th anniversary of the Pontifical North American College. Take a look!

150th Anniversary Video Posted

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I know we all have been praying for everyone in Haiti. The situation there is grave and we should all be giving a helping hand as best we can. For most of us, that means a financial donation to a reputable disaster relief organization (my favorite is Catholic Relief Services).

So it was with great horror that I saw what televangelist Pat Robertson had to say about the matter. The video of his comments are HERE.

The level of ignorance in his mind and the hate that seems to fill his heart is more than I can comprehend. And worse yet, people in this country actually listen to what this man says and believes it. On the other side, opponents of the faith point to men like Pat Robertson as the reason why our country should discard our Judeo-Chrisitian roots. He is wounding the Christian faith with his words. At this point all we can do is continue the work of our Lord Jesus Christ knowing that, in the end, all will be well.

Pray for the relief workers in Haiti. They have a difficult job in front of them.

And if you can, pray for the conversion of Pat Robertson's heart. He needs it as well.