Some of you may remember Anthony Giambrone, O.P., who served at St. Vincent Ferrer as a deacon a couple of summers ago, now an ordained priest studying Scripture in South Bend, IN. Here’s a homily he delivered a couple of years ago at the Dominican House of Studies on the feast of St. Jerome.
Whether this image does justice to the saint, I leave you to decide. It seems that, perhaps, in a day when Pelagian monks could burn down your monastery, some leniency might be given to a man’s verbal indiscretions. Regardless, for my part, I’d like to focus on a different image. There is, and perhaps you’ve seen it, a striking sculpture which sits in front of the Albanian Embassy: a huge gaunt figure, lightly clad, with sun-baked skin stretched tight across his ribs, seated simply cross-legged upon the ground, with a massive tome opened on his lap, and beneath him, on the pedestal, the simple bold words: “The Church’s Greatest Doctor”—not (in turns out) the bombast of inflated Dalmatian nationalism; but the Church’s own name for Jerome. Even so, lest I expose myself to a violent refectory attack in defense of the Doctors Universal and Angelic, it is the image rather than the title that I’d like to explore.
The Church’s commitment to nicknaming each of her doctors has at times become dubious. Consider the quaint triumphalism of calling the Cardinal Inquisitor, Bellarmine, “Gentle Doctor of Controversies.” On this model, we might expect today’s controversialist saint to bear quite the opposite title: something, perhaps, like doctor curmudgeonus, the Irritable Doctor. This, at any rate, has become the prevailing image of the man. Even the lectionary today baits us in this direction: Jerome, melancholic and morbid as Job; irascible as a son of Zebedee, calling down heavenly fire on his foes.
I find the open tome particularly striking. You have noticed, no doubt, that while all of the four great doctors on the wall behind me have a book in hand, only one is actually reading it. It brings to mind a certain saying about men who write more books than they read. Of course, even if others hold the quills, Jerome was no stranger to writing; his own works fill nine full volumes of the Patrologia latina, second only to Augustine. It takes very little acquaintance with Jerome’s style, however, to discover how vast and wide this writer’s reading was. His treasured personal library was one of the best in the ancient world (he is in fact the patron of librarians), and every page he wrote overflows with the gathered wisdom of those Illustrious Men whose lives and publications he eventually complied in a book by that title. If Jerome could produce at a remarkable rate, it was because he was able first to ingest such huge amounts of intellectual matter.
The man’s sheer appetite for learning and the capacious tenacity of his memory are at times staggering. His drive to master Hebrew shows the mettle of his mind as well as anything. It is small wonder he became, effectively, the sole Hebraist of Christendom: there were no dictionaries; no grammars; no concordances; not even vowel points, which were still several centuries away (and trust me they do make a difference). How deeply he absorbed the language and its literature might be judged from a stray remark in one of his epistles. Speaking of the obscure word Rissah, he recalled no other occurrence of it but Numbers 33:21—no concordance mind you—and one use in the apocryphal book of Jubilees; and as BibleWorks electronic search engine can now confirm, his memory did not fail him.
Clearly, intellectual consumption on this level belongs exclusively to a life of leisure, in the classical sense. And here we touch the major mark distinguishing Jerome from the three great bishop saints whose company he keeps. The monk Jerome was given over fully to the life of contemplation and study, a life those doctors saddled with pastoral duties ever lamented that they had lost.
It is, then, not merely an anachronism, but a gross distortion to see our doctor dappled in red and crowned with a galero. It is true he put his scholarship in service of the pope; he was, you might say, the original Pontifical Biblical Commission; and (I dare say) his monumental bequest to the Church in the Vulgate makes the PBC’s recent remarks on the vegan diet of Adam and Eve seem, somehow, rather pale. Jerome was a man of ecclesial service, yes; and he freely gave his life and labors to the good of the institutional Church; yet, he was always and above all a monk, or better an ascetic. Even scholarship, as powerful as its attraction was for him, was always only secondary. We would hardly find him as a hermit in the Syrian desert, parched by the fire of the sun, with (as he says) only scorpions and wild beasts and for company, if the pursuit of an academic life had ever been his principal end. No, in all things Jerome’s consuming passion was to be purged of every sinful longing that might pull him away from Christ. He was a penitent, fired by that same Zeitgeist of zeal that impelled so many Christian souls of that renowned generation to seek their salvation with tears in the desert.
Max Scheler somewhere describes asceticism as the modulation of appetites into a higher key, “the spiritualization of hunger” I think he calls it. In Jerome, uniquely, we see this spiritual sublimation not only with bodily appetite, but with the highest natural appetite: the desire to know. Jerome disciplined his mind as he disciplined his body, in order that it too might be drawn up into the life of the spirit. “The flesh I might try to break with frequent fasting,” he wrote, “but my mind was still seething with imagination: so to tame it, I gave myself up for training.” Seeking something harsh and barren to chasten his rebellious mind, the sensitive lover of Quintilian and Fronto fed himself on “words that hissed and gasped.” (He means Hebrew.) This asceticism of the mental appetite is Jerome’s most marvelous discovery and the root of his entire greatness.
“You are a Ciceronian and not a Christian.” To the very end of his life, these words were more bitter to him than his most austere fasts; and they prompted from him an act of intellectual renunciation as great as any in recorded Christian history. With a generosity born of both love and sorrow, Jerome relinquished his vain love of worldly learning and subordinated his intellect entirely and forevermore to the sole study of Christian truth.
Jerome’s life and priorities challenge us, who also aspire to integrate learning with the pursuit of perfection; for it was this great man who forged and fused in his person the first synthesis of Origen and Anthony; at once exegete and athlete of Christ. In this, Jerome teaches us our own weakness by revealing the focus, rigor, and energy of a man truly crucified to the desk. If we would have sanctity through study and find the Lord at the end of our learning, this wise man of Bethlehem shows that our way must lead through the desert.
Jerome is often pictured, as in our chapel, with a lion as his companion. It is not, to be sure, the emblem of his temper. The legend tells, rather, that he once saw the beast limping and tenderly removed a thorn from its paw. The story gives us an apt metaphor, I think, for how Jerome came to tame his own ferocious yet noble nature. His delicate sensitivity to the wound of another is the key, and it shows us how we might love like him.
As neglectful and cruel as he was to his own body, Jerome could not endure to see the honor of his king, the Lord Christ, suffer the slightest pin-prick of shame. This is what so often summoned his wrath: not that he had been wronged, but that the truth of Christ’s Gospel was imperiled by error. He was like the prophets of old, whom Heschel said roared with divine pathos. This is not to say it was never personal; but only that it was never petty. He was noble; and if at times he felt betrayed in his friendships, he felt, quite keenly, that honor and virtue had somehow been betrayed. Jerome insisted, demanded that all the world be upright before God. This ruthless loyalty and virile, impetuous love is what finally focused all the wild energy of his mind on one steady aim and opened him to receive the discipline of grace. The lectionary has not, in fact, led us astray. Jerome was quite like those sons of Zebedee, who bristled and raged at an insult suffered by their Lord. Yet the simple mollifying lesson our Lord taught those sons of thunder was in no way lost on the Church’s Greatest Student. For loving attention to the honor of another, easily becomes careful attention to the every word of another; and Jerome, who preferred to reading to writing, was that Doctor who understood above all how to listen. He knew how to open his ear, if not when to close his mouth.
So, in the end, there can be no doubt what book it is that lies open on his lap. For a man who does not live on bread alone, but on every word that falls from the mouth of God, only one book can feed the soul’s hunger. It is the Book of Life which is spread like a meal before our starving scholar saint. And Jerome fed on its fruit as Ezechiel once swallowed the scroll. Commenting on this very scene in the Gospels, the penitent doctor offers us this:
“If fire was sent from heaven to protect the servant Elias from harm and to consume, not Samaritans, but Jews, how much more should the flames ravage the impious Samaritans, who had showed contempt for the Son of God. But the Lord, who had come, not to judge but to save, not in power but in humility, not in the glory of his Father but in the lowliness of man, rebuked the disciples because they did not remember His teaching and the merciful precepts of the Gospel.”May we learn to love with the loyal force of this son of thunder and great Father of the Church. By our study and self-denial may we, like Jerome, learn to hear, digest, and remember the Lord’s teaching, to find the sweet fruit of His mercy, ripe on each page of His Word.
For this especially angelic week, from our Catechism:
325 The Apostles’ Creed professes that God is “creator of heaven and earth”. The Nicene Creed makes it explicit that this profession includes “all that is, seen and unseen”.
326 The Scriptural expression “heaven and earth” means all that exists, creation in its entirety. It also indicates the bond, deep within creation, that both unites heaven and earth and distinguishes the one from the other: “the earth” is the world of men, while “heaven” or “the heavens” can designate both the firmament and God’s own “place” – “our Father in heaven” and consequently the “heaven” too which is eschatological glory. Finally, “heaven” refers to the saints and the “place” of the spiritual creatures, the angels, who surround God.
327 The profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) affirms that God “from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then (deinde) the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body.”
328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.
329 St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.’” With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word”.
330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.
331 Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. . ” They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.” They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”
332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples. Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.
333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’” Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!” They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been. Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection. They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgment.
334 In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.
335 In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the funeral liturgy’s In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .["May the angels lead you into Paradise. . ."]). Moreover, in the “Cherubic Hymn” of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels).
336 From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.” Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.
Our archdiocesan newspaper, Catholic New York, runs a story this week about St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first canonized Filipino Saint.
We might further add mention of St. Lorenzo’s important Dominican connections.
Lorenzo Ruiz, born around 1600 in Manila, was a husband and father educated by the Dominicans. He worked as a calligrapher for his Dominican parish, transcribing baptismal, confirmation, and marriage documents. He was a member of the Dominican run Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. When Ruiz was falsely accused of killing a Spaniard, the Spanish Dominican Friars, believing in his innocence, immediately sent him on a missionary expedition led by Domingo Ibañez that eventually landed in Okinawa, Japan. Just after landfall, the group was captured and tortured for more than a year because of their Christian beliefs.
Among the 15 others with whom St. Lorenzo was martyred, 13 were Dominicans, 3 of them being tertiaries.
Today, the Dominican Order celebrates the memorial of Sts. Dominic Ibañez, OP and all their companions.
Noting the impressive pilgrimage of Filipinos from around the archdiocese to attend the Cathedral for a Mass in honor of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, Catholic New York notes the presence of, and quotes, a Filipino parishioner from Holy Innocents Parish in Pleasantville, NY…
a Dominican parish of our province.
The connection continues.
“Word to Life” airs every Friday at 1 pm (EST) on The Catholic Channel, Sirius 159/XM 117.
Along with the desire to preach the Gospel, to embrace wholeheartedly the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, to study holy truth, and to celebrate the liturgy with due sobriety, there is another desire that animates men to seek and join our order.
It is the desire to live in common.
In St. Augustine’s Rule, which we have taken as our own, the Doctor of Grace declares: “The chief motivation for your sharing life together is to live harmoniously in the house and to have one heart and one soul in seeking God” (see Acts 4.32). Indeed, the first subject that our order’s Constitutions takes up, under the heading of Religious Consecration, is “Common Life.”
There is a particular evangelical need today for the common life, for the sake of personal experience as well as social witness. Among other reasons, this evangelical need for the common life is due to the varied but intense and subtle attacks that have been waged upon the institution of the family – that fundamental cell of personal commonality (and therefore, personal development).
Of course, the common life of a religious order is constituted by concerns largely different than that of a family. Nevertheless, the common life represents the basic forum in which Christ works his reconciling grace upon the soul of each individual in need of natural healing and supernatural uplifting. As our Holy Father taught in his second encyclical, Spe Salvi: “salvation has always been considered a ‘social’ reality. Indeed, the Letter to the Hebrews speaks of a ‘city’ (cf. 11.10, 16; 12.22; 13.14) and therefore of communal salvation. Consistently with this view, sin is understood by the Fathers as the destruction of the unity of the human race, as fragmentation and division. Babel, the place where languages were confused, the place of separation, is seen to be an expression of what sin fundamentally is. Hence ‘redemption’ appears as the reestablishment of unity, in which we come together once more in a union that begins to take shape in the community of believers.”
It stands to reason, then, that one of the primary realities that the Christian family is called to evangelize is itself!
Hopefully, we friars manifest the joy and peace –challenges notwithstanding!– that issues from a life that bears one another’s burdens in faith (cf. Gal 6.2). Certainly, many of us are inspired by the self-sacrificial and happy commitments of so many families that it is our privilege to know. Not incidentally, one of the places where a healthy relationship between friars and families develops is around the dinner table!
Currently, there is being promoted a national initiative called, “Family Day.” Our Archbishop here in New York City has heartily encouraged involvement. In his recent column, Lord, To Whom Shall We Go? he reflected on the significance of the family meal in his personal life as well as for the Church: “Most of us 50 and over can recall that supper together as a family was rather routine and taken for granted, with Sunday dinner the most significant. We know as well that the Sunday meal—the Mass—of our supernatural family, the Church, is indispensable for our fidelity to Jesus and His Church. We Catholics also belong to cherished ethnic backgrounds, which celebrated every Sunday, holiday, holyday and important life event—baptisms, first Communions, birthdays, marriages, even deaths—with family meals.”
Not unlike any other day, this Monday is “A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children.” And, even for the many families who already make such a commitment, other families with whom we have contact — Christian or not — might be encouraged to do the same.
In this way, we won’t simply be “saying” grace.
A delayed but worthy posting of last week’s “Word to Life” for The Catholic Channel (Sirius 159/XM 117). In the studios with Fr. Gabriel Gillen, O.P. and me is Fr. Dominic Legge, O.P., who recently authored this reflection on our church and the Christian significance of beauty. Also with us over phone, a special treat for many of you, no doubt, Fr. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P.!
In 2006, Our Holy Father’s portrait of St. Matthew and his significance draws on two elements of the evangelist and his call worthy of our meditation [from 30 August 2006]:
… In the figure of Matthew, the Gospels present to us a true and proper paradox: those who seem to be the farthest from holiness can even become a model of the acceptance of God’s mercy and offer a glimpse of its marvellous effects in their own lives.
St John Chrysostom makes an important point in this regard: he notes that only in the account of certain calls is the work of those concerned mentioned. Peter, Andrew, James and John are called while they are fishing, while Matthew, while he is collecting tithes.
These are unimportant jobs, Chrysostom comments, “because there is nothing more despicable than the tax collector, and nothing more common than fishing” (In Matth. Hom.: PL 57, 363). Jesus’ call, therefore, also reaches people of a low social class while they go about their ordinary work.
Another reflection prompted by the Gospel narrative is that Matthew responds instantly to Jesus’ call: “he rose and followed him”. The brevity of the sentence clearly highlights Matthew’s readiness in responding to the call. For him it meant leaving everything, especially what guaranteed him a reliable source of income, even if it was often unfair and dishonourable. Evidently, Matthew understood that familiarity with Jesus did not permit him to pursue activities of which God disapproved.
The application to the present day is easy to see: it is not permissible today either to be attached to things that are incompatible with the following of Jesus…
This weekend, our new pastor, Fr. Walter Wagner, O.P., preached all of the Sunday Masses, carrying on the initiative of promoting church stewardship begun by some parishioners and his predecessor.
If you would like to contribute some of your time and talent to the healthy and diversified life of our parish, please pick up a bulletin for details or call the parish office.
Dear friends in Christ,
I greet all of you with the joy in the Lord and I thank you for your warm reception. I am grateful to Archbishop Nichols for his words of welcome on your behalf. Truly, in this meeting of the successor of Peter and the faithful of Britain, “heart speaks unto heart” as we rejoice in the love of Christ and in our common profession of the Catholic faith which comes to us from the apostles.
I am especially happy that our meeting takes place in this cathedral dedicated to the most precious blood, which is the sign of God’s redemptive mercy poured out upon the world through the passion, death and resurrection of his son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In a particular way I greet the Archbishop of Canterbury, who honours us by his presence.
The visitor to this cathedral cannot fail to be struck by the great crucifix dominating the nave, which portrays Christ’s body, crushed by suffering, overwhelmed by sorrow, the innocent victim whose death has reconciled us with the Father and given us a share in the very life of God.
The Lord’s outstretched arms seem to embrace this entire church, lifting up to the Father all the ranks of the faithful who gather around the altar of the eucharistic sacrifice and share in its fruits.
The crucified Lord stands above and before us as the source of our life and salvation, “the high priest of the good things to come”, as the author of the letter to the Hebrews calls him in today’s first reading (Heb 9:11).
It is in the shadow, so to speak, of this striking image, that I would like to consider the word of God which has been proclaimed in our midst and reflect on the mystery of the precious blood. For that mystery leads us to see the unity between Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the eucharistic sacrifice which he has given to his church, and his eternal priesthood, whereby, seated at the right hand of the Father, he makes unceasing intercession for us, the members of his mystical body.
Let us begin with the sacrifice of the cross. The outpouring of Christ’s blood is the source of the church’s life. St John, as we know, sees in the water and blood which flowed from our Lord’s body the wellspring of that divine life which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit and communicated to us in the sacraments (Jn 19:34; cf Jn 1:7; 5:6-7).
The letter to the Hebrews draws out, we might say, the liturgical implications of this mystery. Jesus, by his suffering and death, his self-oblation in the eternal Spirit, has become our high priest and “the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb 9:15).
These words echo our Lord’s own words at the Last Supper, when he instituted the Eucharist as the sacrament of his body, given up for us, and his blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant shed for the forgiveness of sins (cf Mk 14:24; Mt 26:28; Lk 22:20).
Faithful to Christ’s command to “do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19), the church in every time and place celebrates the Eucharist until the Lord returns in glory, rejoicing in his sacramental presence and drawing upon the power of his saving sacrifice for the redemption of the world.
The reality of the eucharistic sacrifice has always been at the heart of Catholic faith; called into question in the 16th century, it was solemnly reaffirmed at the Council of Trent against the backdrop of our justification in Christ.
In England, as we know, there were many who staunchly defended the mass, often at great cost, giving rise to that devotion to the most holy Eucharist which has been a hallmark of Catholicism in these lands.
The eucharistic sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ embraces in turn the mystery of our Lord’s continuing passion in the members of his mystical body, the church in every age. Here the great crucifix which towers above us serves as a reminder that Christ, our eternal high priest, daily unites our own sacrifices, our own sufferings, our own needs, hopes and aspirations, to the infinite merits of his sacrifice.
Through him, with him, and in him, we lift up our own bodies as a sacrifice holy and acceptable to God (cf Rom 12:1). In this sense we are caught up in his eternal oblation, completing, as St Paul says, in our flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, the church (cf Col 1:24). In the life of the church, in her trials and tribulations, Christ continues, in the stark phrase of Pascal, to be in agony until the end of the world (Pensées, 553, ed Brunschvicg).
We see this aspect of the mystery of Christ’s precious blood represented, most eloquently, by the martyrs of every age, who drank from the cup which Christ himself drank, and whose own blood, shed in union with his sacrifice, gives new life to the church.
It is also reflected in our brothers and sisters throughout the world who even now are suffering discrimination and persecution for their Christian faith. Yet it is also present, often hidden in the suffering of all those individual Christians who daily unite their sacrifices to those of the Lord for the sanctification of the church and the redemption of the world.
My thoughts go in a special way to all those who are spiritually united with this eucharistic celebration, and in particular the sick, the elderly, the handicapped and those who suffer mentally and spiritually.
Here, too, I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives.
I also acknowledge with you the shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of victims, the purification of the church and the renewal of her age-old commitment to the education and care of young people.
I express my gratitude for the efforts being made to address this problem responsibly, and I ask all of you to show your concern for the victims and solidarity with your priests.
Dear friends, let us return to the contemplation of the great crucifix which rises above us. Our Lord’s hands, extended on the cross, also invite us to contemplate our participation in his eternal priesthood and thus our responsibility, as members of his body, to bring the reconciling power of his sacrifice to the world in which we live. The Second Vatican Council spoke eloquently of the indispensable role of the laity in carrying forward the church’s mission through their efforts to serve as a leaven of the gospel in society and to work for the advancement of God’s kingdom in the world (cf Lumen Gentium, 31; Apostolicam Actuositatem, 7).
The council’s appeal to the lay faithful to take up their baptismal sharing in Christ’s mission echoed the insights and teachings of John Henry Newman. May the profound ideas of this great Englishman continue to inspire all Christ’s followers in this land to conform their every thought, word and action to Christ, and to work strenuously to defend those unchanging moral truths which, taken up, illuminated and confirmed by the gospel, stand at the foundation of a truly humane, just and free society.
How much contemporary society needs this witness! How much we need, in the church and in society, witnesses of the beauty of holiness, witnesses of the splendour of truth, witnesses of the joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ!
One of the greatest challenges facing us today is how to speak convincingly of the wisdom and liberating power of God’s word to a world which all too often sees the gospel as a constriction of human freedom, instead of the truth which liberates our minds and enlightens our efforts to live wisely and well, both as individuals and as members of society.
Let us pray, then, that the Catholics of this land will become ever more conscious of their dignity as a priestly people, called to consecrate the world to God through lives of faith and holiness.
And may this increase of apostolic zeal be accompanied by an outpouring of prayer for vocations to the ordained priesthood. For the more the lay apostolate grows, the more urgently the need for priests is felt; and the more the laity’s own sense of vocation is deepened, the more what is proper to the priest stands out.
May many young men in this land find the strength to answer the Master’s call to the ministerial priesthood, devoting their lives, their energy and their talents to God, thus building up his people in unity and fidelity to the gospel, especially through the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice.
Dear friends, in this cathedral of the most precious blood, I invite you once more to look to Christ, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection (cf Heb 12:2).
I ask you to unite yourselves ever more fully to the Lord, sharing in his sacrifice on the cross and offering him that “spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1) which embraces every aspect of our lives and finds expression in our efforts to contribute to the coming of his kingdom. I pray that, in doing so, you may join the ranks of faithful believers throughout the long Christian history of this land in building a society truly worthy of man, worthy of your nation’s highest traditions.
And an interesting commentary from Guardian columnist, Andrew Brown.
Two Great Events:
World Youth Alliance Chamber Orchestra
The World Youth Alliance Chamber Orchestra is an ensemble of young musicians (ages 10-21) from Manhattan’s most prestigious music programs including The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Mannes.
The aim of the World Youth Alliance Chamber Orchestra is to inspire international cooperation. Reflecting the ideals of the World Youth Alliance, this ensemble aims to engage audiences in an experience of human dignity, authentic freedom, and solidarity.
The World Youth Alliance Chamber Orchestra will present its debut public performance Sunday, September 19th, 2pm, at the Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer in Manhattan (869 Lexington Avenue).
The program will include works by Vivaldi, Bach, Tchaikovsky, and internationally renowned 18-year composer Jay Greenberg (“Bluejay”).
To order tickets, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Theology on Tap
The first talk of Fall 2010! Heather King is an author and a convert to Catholicism. She will talk to us tonight about her amazing conversion but also about her road from alcoholism to redemption. You won’t want to miss this event!
Slattery’s Midtown Pub – 36th St., btwn 5th & Madison Aves, 7 pm.
Last Wednesday, we celebrated the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. One week later, on the heels of the Exaltation of the Cross, we honor our dolorous Lady, and her co-redemptive offering in her Son’s work of Redemption. Here, we recall Pope John Paul II’s teaching on our Lady’s Sorrow as the christological complement of her Blessedness [Redemptoris Mater encyclical, 1987, from nos. 17-19]:
“Blessed is she who believed.”
This blessing reaches its full meaning when Mary stands beneath the Cross of her Son (cf. Jn. 19:25). The Council says that this happened “not without a divine plan”: by “suffering deeply with her only-begotten Son and joining herself with her maternal spirit to his sacrifice, lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim to whom she had given birth,” in this way Mary “faithfully preserved her union with her Son even to the Cross.” It is a union through faith- the same faith with which she had received the angel’s revelation at the Annunciation. At that moment she had also heard the words: “He will be great…and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:32-33).
And now, standing at the foot of the Cross, Mary is the witness, humanly speaking, of the complete negation of these words. On that wood of the Cross her Son hangs in agony as one condemned. “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows…he was despised, and we esteemed him not”: as one destroyed (cf. Is. 53:3- 5). How great, how heroic then is the obedience of faith shown by Mary in the face of God’s “unsearchable judgments”! How completely she “abandons herself to God” without reserve, offering the full assent of the intellect and the will“ to him whose “ways are inscrutable” (cf. Rom. 11:33)! And how powerful too is the action of grace in her soul, how all-pervading is the influence of the Holy Spirit and of his light and power!
Through this faith Mary is perfectly united with Christ in his self- emptying. For “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men”: precisely on Golgotha “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (cf. Phil. 2:5-8). At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith in the shocking mystery of this self- emptying. This is perhaps the deepest “kenosis” of faith in human history. Through faith the Mother shares in the death of her Son, in his redeeming death; but in contrast with the faith of the disciples who fled, hers was far more enlightened…
Yes, truly “blessed is she who believed”!…
Fr. Carelton Jones, O.P. celebrated Sunday Mass in farewell to his beloved parish, now entrusted to the pastorate of Fr. Watler Wagner, O.P. Click below to listen to Fr. Jones’s homily, and to watch his interview regarding Henry Cardinal Newman, who will be beatified this month in England.
I join Fr. Gabriel Gillen, O.P. in the studios of The Catholic Channel to discuss this Sunday’s readings for “Word to Life.” Click below to listen.
The show is broadcast live every Friday at 1 pm (EST) on satellite radio, Sirius 159/XM 117.
“The slave trade had been flourishing for almost 100 years [when St. Peter Claver arrived in Columbia], and Cartegna was a central clearing house. In spite of condemnations by Pope Paull III and Pope Pius IV, this inhuman practice continued…. Peter enlisted the help of catechists and interpreters and in teh years that he ministered to the African slaves it is estimated that he baptized more than 300,000.”
[From Enzo Lodi, Saints of the Roman Calendar]
The radiant and manifest coming of God to men most certainly needed a joyful prelude to introduce the great gift of salvation to us. The present festival, the birth of he Mother of God, is the prelude, while the final act is the foreordained union of the Word with flesh. Today the Virgin is born, tended and formed, and prepared for her role as Mother of God, who is the universal King of the ages.
[From the Second Reading of today's Office, From a discourse by Saint Andrew of Crete]
We’re happy to welcome our new pastor, Fr. Walter C. Wagner, OP! Listen to him by clicking below.
I join Fr. Gabriel Gillen, O.P. for The Catholic Channel’s “Word to Life” to discuss this Sunday’s readings. Also in the conversation over the phone are Fr. Paul Keller, O.P., who presently teaches at the Athenaeum seminary of Cincinnati, OH, as well as Patrick Coffin, author of numerous apologetics materials and host of the radio show, Catholic Answers Live.
From our Holy Father’s second catechesis on St. Gregory two years ago, commenting on the wonderful writings that the Great Doctor of the Church has left us.
…We must first of all note that, in his writings, Gregory never sought to delineate “his own” doctrine, his own originality. Rather, he intended to echo the traditional teaching of the Church, he simply wanted to be the mouthpiece of Christ and of the Church on the way that must be taken to reach God. His exegetical commentaries are models of this approach. He was a passionate reader of the Bible, which he approached not simply with a speculative purpose: from Sacred Scripture, he thought, the Christian must draw not theoretical understanding so much as the daily nourishment for his soul, for his life as man in this world. For example, in the Homilies on Ezekiel, he emphasized this function of the sacred text: to approach the Scripture simply to satisfy one’s own desire for knowledge means to succumb to the temptation of pride and thus to expose oneself to the risk of sliding into heresy. Intellectual humility is the primary rule for one who searches to penetrate the supernatural realities beginning from the sacred Book. Obviously, humility does not exclude serious study; but to ensure that the results are spiritually beneficial, facilitating true entry into the depth of the text, humility remains indispensable. Only with this interior attitude can one really listen to and eventually perceive the voice of God. On the other hand, when it is a question of the Word of God understanding it means nothing if it does not lead to action. In these Homilies on Ezekiel is also found that beautiful expression according which “the preacher must dip his pen into the blood of his heart; then he can also reach the ear of his neighbour”. Reading his homilies, one sees that Gregory truly wrote with his life-blood and, therefore, he still speaks to us today.
The General Chapter, which is the highest authority in the Dominican Order, is an assembly of friars representing the Provinces of the Order. It gathers to discuss and define matters pertaining to the good of the entire Order. This will be the 290th General Chapter in the history of the Order. When necessary, it elects the Master of the Order. And indeed, one of the tasks of this Chapter will be to elect the eighty-seventh Master of the Order.
Please pray for our Order worldwide, for our collective wisdom, and for our fidelity to the Truth and the charism bequeathed to us by our Holy Father, St. Dominic!