Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

31 December 2010

An invitation and a blessing

A concerned reader took issue from a post from several nights ago.  I want to offer this invitation: Know, patient reader, that constructive criticism on any aspect of this weblog is most welcome.

Of course, I submit everything to the guidance of the Church's Magisterium, knowing that much of whatever comes out of my mouth/keyboard, insofar as it is my opinion and/or mode of presentation, is suspect and subject to cautious review.

On to the good wishes for a new year: although Mass attendance for the Solemnity of the Theotokos is not obligatory this year because it falls on a Saturday, Masses are still being offered at a Catholic Church near you.  HGA: 8am only.  The first reading from the Book of Numbers (6:22-27) features the blessing that Aaron the priest and his descendants are privileged to bestow upon the Jewish people.  It is a fitting desire for God's people as a new year begins, and the Mother of God shares in His joyful and fruitful hope for that people.  The blessing of the Triune God is hers as well.  May the Church continue, like Mary, to ponder in her heart the mysteries of salvation, so that our living may better reflect them in every circumstance.

28 December 2010

Well done, good and faithful (public) servant

State Sen. Michael O'Pake has died.

My first memory of the good Senator took the form of a letter that was waiting for me upon my arrival at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Whitfield--my first priestly assignment ever, and my first within his territory. What's this--a letter from an elected official, and not a "form letter," either! He congratulated me upon my ordination earlier that month, wished me well in the priesthood and in my new (and all too brief) assignment, and, true to his custom, extended assistance according to his ability and my need. Often I would see Senator O'Pake pop in for as much of St. Ignatius' 6:30am Mass as he could make before heading out to his myriad duties: a good start to a good day! In the coming years I would see him at many morning Masses in area parishes. His investment in the priesthood of the baptized notwithstanding, I suspected that he must have thought of serving God and country as a priest at some point in his life; but his dedication to God's poor and lowly found expression nonetheless.

When I was assigned the following year to Central Catholic H.S. as Chaplain and teacher, I saw Mike at many a basketball game and at other functions: he was proud of his roots there, having received a sound training in personal faith and public speaking that would serve him well in the years ahead. He really went to bat for the construction of a new school, a dream that never saw its day; but his support never waned, illustrating a Cardinal's typical tenacity.

My last encounter with the Senator was at his bedside in the hospital just last week, when I stopped by to offer him my blessing and a prayer shawl made for him by a lady in our parish. His speech was compromised by his condition, but he clearly thanked me and the shawl's maker, holding fast to the shawl and to the intercessions that had been covering him for the past month. Clearly this was an unusual position for him--at rest, no doubt eager to recover and return to his characteristic ubiquity. But God had other plans for his faithful servant, who I believe now advocates for God's poor all the better for having been in their position--not only in his indigent youth, but on the altar of his sickbed, where prayers and sufferings go to God as arrows to their target.

Requiescas in pace, Senator O'Pake. Rest in the peace of a clear conscience, for having loved and served the Lord: family, fellow students, public servants, and constituents alike have known your valiant deeds and encouraging words, and whatever you did for these, you did for the One whose vote counts most.

24 December 2010

Vigil Verbiage, Christmas 2010

For the patient reader's meditative review:

          I convey the prayerful best wishes of Monsignor Hartgen, Father Camilli, Deacon Gallagher, the administrative staff, and parishioners of Holy Guardian Angels Parish for a holy, healthy, and happy celebration of the Lord’s Nativity.  These sentiments of good will are directed especially to those who may be visiting from other parishes or faiths, and to anyone who may consider himself a stranger to this place.  For just an hour we have been given the opportunity to pause, reflect, and rejoice.  Please, Lord, grant us Your Presence, the presence of mind and heart we need to savor the holy mysteries contained in this day.
          The Church gathers to celebrate the investment of God the Son in human flesh, an investment that He is pleased to make for all human persons of every time and place.  The Second Reading from the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that the Christ, Jesus, originated in the people of Israel.  He is the fulfillment of the promises made in their sacred Scriptures, what we call the Old Testament.  God remains active in the life of the Jews.  We, too, retain a connection with them, and not as people who have long since passed them in a race, relieved to see them lagging behind us.  There is no competition, and God has the entire human situation—including our very lives—under control.  That, in fact, is one of the crucial themes of the Christian faith.
          It is one that we are inclined to disbelieve at times.  Every year we come to God’s Altar on this day a bit more anxious about how things are going “out there”—and perhaps “in here” as well.  The vision of a more peaceful and just society, the vision of a more tolerant and generous self, is a bit more elusive.  Having given ourselves over to our idols, we may chafe at the idea presented in the First Reading—which, in fact, is more than an idea, but a promise: No more shall people call you ‘Forsaken,’ or your land ‘Desolate,’ but you shall be called ‘My Delight,’ and your land ‘Espoused.’  For the Lord delights in you and makes your land His spouse.  As John the Baptist protested his unworthiness, we are quick to produce life histories in defense of that claim.
          Let the Messiah’s story ring out in the hearts of everyone here: Worthy is the Lamb!  We see in Jesus’ human pedigree a colorful background, fraught with persons whose life histories are unseemly and unworthy.  Like ours, they are ordinary stories of ordinary people, whom God has nonetheless chosen to call His brothers and sisters.  Apparently our genealogy and external circumstances need not determine the course of our own lives; by God’s power and mercy, what others have done or may do is not a reliable predictor of what God may do in us.
          Let the Messiah’s story ring out in the hearts of everyone here: Be not afraid!  The story of St. Joseph reveals a man who initially hesitated to receive the Christ Child and His mother in light of their strange circumstances and appearance.  Who knows where and how God will knock at our door, and who knows why He has asked for us?  Like Joseph, we may yet open our hearts to receive what God wants to give us, whatever it may soon demand of us.  Can we believe in the possibilities for growth and change that the coming year, and its God, may have in store?  Can we actualize those possibilities when they arrive?  By God, we can; we can accept in many and unpredictable forms the Bridegroom’s joyful proposal of unending love.

Ausculta, fili

Here is a sneak preview of some words* from my Christmas homilies, for the Vigil Mass and for the Mass at Dawn:


*The aforementioned and other words may or may not actually be said or heard, depending on factors including, but not limited to, the din of crying children, ringtones of Ke$ha, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Send My Roots Rain

Please pray for your priests and deacons, that the homily they will be privileged to deliver at Christmas will motivate, inspire, and console the people of God in their respective sacred assemblies. 

Now more than ever, the Church needs a stimulus to spiritual (and material) fertility.  This is what people need, and whether they realize it or not, it's what they want, deep down.  "There lives the dearest freshness deep down things," quoth GMH; and it's high time to start the painful but necessary excavation process.

22 December 2010

Share and Share Alike

Just noticed that blog entries can be "shared" to Facebook.  Well gosh, if it's that easy, I might as well just do that, if only to spare the many who mayn't be inclined to travel to the blogsite.  This is too much.

21 December 2010

This week in Catholic Liturgy: "Go Go Go Joseph."  Overcoming the temptation to fear, the Guardian of the Redeemer decides to welcome his wife and her Son, who become his own.  The unfolding of these events may become further causes for fear--which often happens in such momentous decisions--but the Lord's Presence supports those who proceed with faith and goodness.

20 December 2010

Maiden Voyage

Patient Reader,

Until recently, I was a "friend" to hundreds on Facebook.  While I have not ceased to be a friend (in the pre-technological sense of the word) to any of them, I have ceased (for the present) to operate on that highly valuable social networking site. 

In the interest of keeping current in a disciplined fashion--which I could have done on fb, I suppose--I have created this weblog for the presumed benefit of my fb "friends," friends old and new, parishioners, and family: fellows all in the Mystical Body of Christ and heavenbound wayfarers.  Let's see how this goes.

Any comments, questions of a faith-related or other nature, etc. may be directed by email to:  Prosit omnibus et singulis!