From our Archbishop,
I’ve known for a long time that I should lose some weight. So, last week, I visited my doctor, and he showed me a gross, disgusting, dripping ball of yellow wax. “This,” he said to me, “is what ten pounds of fat looks like. This is what you’re carrying around in your body.” Was it upsetting? Unnerving? Sobering? You bet it was. It was also true, and it was effective, as it strengthened my resolve to get my weight under control.
Being confronted by the truth can often be unpleasant. That’s why those who fight so hard to eradicate world hunger will show us what hunger does, with a picture of a starving child, covered with flies and sores. Does it disturb us to face that truth, an image we’d rather not see or think about? It should, even as it spurs us to action.
It’s the same with smoking. I’m sure you’ve seen those television commercials that graphically portray the effects of smoking. It’s unpleasant to look at open heart surgery, or a pair of diseased lungs, or to see a person who has lost fingers, toes, or the esophagus, all due to smoking. The ads are nauseating, even hideous, to see. But the New York State Department of Health, among many others, sponsors these kinds of ads because they know that they can help to save lives.
Another ad has been generating some fierce reactions. Here in New York, a billboard was recently displayed, that simply stated “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.” This message was accompanied by a photograph of a young, African-American girl.
Is that message unpleasant? Is it upsetting? Does it get our attention?
Because the message is somberly true. The City of New York’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recently released its vital statistics from a year ago which showed that 59.8% of African-American pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion. That’s even higher than the chilling city-wide average of 41% of pregnancies ending in abortion. (I joined other community leaders from a diversity of religious and ethnic backgrounds at a press conference sponsored by the Chiaroscuro Foundation about this a few weeks ago.)
So why has the billboard suddenly been taken down? What was it that moved many of our elected officials to condemn this ad and call for the gag order. Are they claiming that free speech is a right enjoyed only by those who favor abortion or their pet causes? Do they believe that unpleasant and disturbing truths should not be spoken? Or are they afraid that when people are finally confronted with the reality of the horror of abortion, and with the toll that it is taking in our city, particularly in our African-American community, that they will be moved to defend innocent, unborn, human life?
Perhaps I’m more saddened by this intolerance right now because on Monday I will be celebrating the funeral mass for Doctor Bernard Nathanson, that giant of the pro-life movement, who died earlier this week. If you don’t know Dr. Nathanson’s story, you should. At one time, he fought hard to promote and expand abortion on demand in this state and in our country. He was one of the founders of the National Abortion Rights Action League. He ran what he called the “largest abortion clinic in the Western world,” and bragged about personally performing thousands of abortions. But, when Dr. Nathanson was confronted with the undeniable truth, when he could see the unborn baby in the womb through the use of ultrasound technology, he abandoned his support for abortion and became a crusader for the protection of the life of the baby in the womb.
His courage and bravery should be an inspiration to us, especially when we have to face unpleasant and sobering truths.
And check out St. Dominic at the end…
Hit play and then read below, if you like.
There are three times that our Lord declares that people are blessed in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Each group increases in particularity and in office: from disciples in general, to the Apostles, to Christ’s personal vicar on earth.
1. The Beatitudes
Inaugurating his teaching ministry through the so-called Sermon on the Mount, our Lord preaches to his disciples as the new law-giver. He is the fulfillment of the Law; for, he is the incarnate Word. Jesus assures as blessed those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for the sake of righteousness and his name (Matthew 5:3-12).
2. The Mysteries of the Kingdom
Having summoned The Twelve (Matthew 10 ff.) and having given the parable of the Sower, Christ himself will explain to these select disciples the meaning of the parable (Matthew 13:18-24). Why? “Because knowledge of he mysteries of the kingdom has been granted” to them (Matthew 13:11). While the world does not hear with understanding or see with vision, the Apostles do. “Blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear” (Matthew 13:16).
3. The Heavenly Father’s Election
By the time we get to Peter’s confession, the select company of disciples have already confessed that Christ is “the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33). This confession was in response to Christ’s calming of a storm, which threatened to sink Peter who was unable to walk across water in perfect faith.
Simon Peter’s unique election is not essentially about the integrity of his faith (which, at any rate, is perfected only after the Resurrection and Pentecost), even though protestant apologetics typically argues that the “rock” is not Peter but his confession of faith. Indeed, Christ will soon rebuke Peter as an obstacle for thinking as human beings do (Matthew 16:21-23). But Peter’s subjective faith is not the object of blessing; such is the significance of the third declaration of beatitude by Christ in the Gospel of St. Matthew, directed manifestly to the person of Peter. Simon Peter confesses not only that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) and the Son of God, but the Son of the living God, which implies Peter’s awareness of God’s transcendent but present power through the earthly ministry of Jesus. More importantly, however, it implies the work of the living God through Peter!
And so, analogous (… very analogous) to the way in which Jesus is the chosen one of God, Peter is the chosen one of Jesus. In response to St. Peter’s declaration, “you are the Son of the living God,” Jesus says to him, you are “Simon son of Jonah.” Hence, Jesus names Simon Peter (or Cephas in Aramaic, which has none of the ostensible grammatical issues protestants like to level against “Petros” and “petra”). Then he declares the work of the heavenly Father to be present. Clearly, Christ is teaching us about the vicarage of Simon and the Petrine ministry. And even as Peter knows he is the rock, he is well aware that Christ remains the cornerstone of the new and everlasting Temple. For all of Peter’s singularity of office, he is one among many living stones that is built into a spiritual house by God (1 Peter 2:1-11).
This brings us back to all disciples who are called blessed if they are poor in spirit and are persecuted and hated for the sake of Christ’s name. If we open ourselves to the riches of the Church’s apostolic faith and sacraments, no deathly power will conquer us, and the work of heaven will be amongst us. It is not about the men who are chosen, but the One who has chosen them and has promised to work through them (Matthew 28:16-20). God’s operative power is such that, (more literally), “whaterver you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven (Matthes 16:19). The present of the Petrine ministry is connected to the future perfect of God’s heavenly economy.
And that is the key… (cf. Matthew 16.19)
Blessed are those who are meek enough to follow Christ’s shepherds, united under the primacy of Peter.
Fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra…
Check out this upcoming lecture on Monday 21 March:
“Suspicion and Conspiracy: Defending the Reputation of Noble Individuals”
sets the record straight about heroic Christian
leaders who have been slandered.
Rev. Joseph W. Koterski, S.J. of Fordham University’s Philosophy
Department will discuss the “Masters of Suspicion,” whose strategy often
includes attack by casting suspicion through innuendo. University of
Mississippi law professor and author Ronald Rychlak, will offer the well
documented case of Pope Pius XII.
The lecture begins at 7:00 pm at the Fordham Lincoln Center Campus, 113
West 60th St. (Lowenstein Building, 12th Floor Lounge), and is free and
open to the public. A reception follows. RSVP required. Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-370-7885.
Our first lesson from Genesis 11.1-9 concludes two weeks of readings from the Revelation of mankind’s primeval history. But are we ending on something of a sour note?
Well, one way to take the “Tower of Babel” story is as a primitive myth, ingenious in its etiology of languages even if puerile in its anthropomorphism. But this is unjust. We ought to take this account in light of the whole of Revelation, which manifests the plan of the Providential God of love.
The story is not simply about a “tower,” but about an entire city. The people make bricks to establish themselves in one spot with fixed buildings: the tower is the grandest sign of a much larger pretense.
We are told that the Lord is worried about what they will do next, and so confuses their speech. But why not take this worry as divine solicitude instead of fear? Just as God gave Adam and Eve more suitable clothing upon their banishment from the garden, (even though their clothing itself is a sign of their sinful wrongdoing and knowledge), perhaps he confused our speech for our own good. Indeed, the very drama of the entire history of salvation after the edenic debacle is a journey back to the garden, to the promised land, to communion with God. And this pilgrimage is utterly rooted in hearing the Word of God: “Hear O Israel!”
So, when God sees man stop journeying to establish a city for himself, perhaps He does not experience the tower as an frightful encroachment. Rather, perhaps it is a sign of man’s hiatus from the spiritual journey, and furthermore, a specter of man setting himself over other men!
God confused our speech so that we might not think that our works and words are the causes of our own ultimate goodness. For when we strive to “make a name for ourselves,” we immediately place ourselves over others as well as against God.
The integrity of communication is perfectly found in communion with the Word Himself alone: Jesus Christ. Hence, our Gospel admonishes us not to be ashamed of his words, of his Gospel–for he identifies himself with these words of the Gospel as the Gospel itself! (Mk 8.35) (Mk 8.38)
And this brings me to Fra Angelico.
This is one of my favorite paintings of the Dominican Saint, found in the convent of St. Marc in Florence. In it we see Christ with his eyes blindfolded, yet carrying the world (as an orb) in his hand and robed in triumphant white. And yet he is assaulted by an array of separated hands (virtually an pre-modern avatar of Dali!) striking and mocking the Lord.
But the confused speech of the world cannot confuse the peace of Christ.
Hence, opposite the Mother of God, St. Dominic is seated in the forefront. He is contemplating the Word with a peace that participates in that of Christ’s. It is as if the painter tells us that the ultimate integrity to the mysteries of our salvation is not to be found in the imagination, much less in his own brushwork, but only in the Word!
May the confusion of our lives alert us to the peace that we so desperately want, and which indirectly points to the only resolution available — our crucified Lord of glory, the incarnate Word of God. The same baton that is used to strike our Lord is held by him as the sign of his regency. Thus did he empty himself, taking the form of a slave. He did not try to make a name for himself but was obedient unto death. On that account, he received the name above every other name, that every tongue confess in the heavens and on the earth that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Commentary of St. Bede (as cited by St. Thomas)
For the Lord touches us, when He enlightens our minds with the breath of His Spirit, and He stirs us up that we may recognise our own infirmity, and be diligent in good actions. He takes the hand of the blind man, that He may strengthen him to the practice of good works…
…Putting spittle into the eyes of the blind man, He lays His hands upon him that he may see, because He has wiped away the blindness of the human race both by invisible gifts, and by the Sacrament of His assumed humanity; for the spittle, proceeding from the Head, points out the grace of the Holy Ghost. But though by one word He could cure the man wholly and all at once, still He cures him by degrees, that He may shew the greatness of the blindness of man, which can hardly, and only as it were step by step, be restored to light; and He exhibits to us His grace, by which He furthers each step towards perfection.
Our Archbishop posted this statement in response to reports accusing him of gross mismanagement of money. Here it is:
I owe it to all of you — both the Catholic and wider community — to be very clear about the ridiculous and groundless gossip spread about me by a tort lawyer named Jeff Anderson.
You may have heard this man claim that, when I was Archbishop of Milwaukee, I “hid’ $130 million of archdiocesan funds so victims of clergy sexual abuse could not sue for it.
Malarkey! The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has an excellent record of fiscal integrity and transparency. I worked hard at that, and my successor, Archbishop Listecki, continues to do so. (By the way, you might also be interested to know that during my years as Archbishop of Milwaukee, and with the generous service of many dedicated people, we established a mediation process that reached settlements with almost 200 victim survivors; that mediation process has been praised by the victim survivors who have participated in the process.)
In my seven years there, the meager resources of the archdiocese were under the vigilance of a sound and respected finance council, composed of prominent and respected business leaders from the financial community; annually we were audited; and each year there was complete, published financial disclosure. You can find the audited financial statements here. To claim that, given this rigorous supervision, an archbishop could have “hidden” $130 million, is beyond ridiculous.
I do want you to know that, when I arrived as archbishop, the financials showed that parishes had $70 million of their peoples’ money on deposit with the archdiocese. This was not archdiocesan money at all, but belonged to parishes. That’s why the finance council, and our outside professional auditors, advised me that it was inappropriate for the archdiocese to hold money for parishes, and that it should be returned to the parishes to which it belonged anyway. This was done, and publicly reported in the annual audit.
So much for “hidden funds.” Far from inappropriate, this decision was virtuous, open, and in accord with the clear directives of the professionals on our finance council and outside auditors.
The archdiocese of Milwaukee has issued an enlightening statement speculating that this lawyer’s reckless charges also included “hiding” the “cemetery fund,” which, of course, by state law, is scrupulously protected, and cannot be touched or transferred by anybody.
So, these silly charges are baloney. Unfortunately, this man got the attention he wanted and has come to expect from the news, tarnishing the good name of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and of me. Some of our priests reported that people at Sunday Mass asked them “Why did Archbishop Dolan hide those funds?”
Lord knows I’ve made mistakes, but “hiding” $130 million is hardly one of them!
Our Holy Father, a couple of years ago, on the co-patrons (with St. Benedict) of Europe. If you need help with the Bavarian accent, or would like a fuller exposition, read our Pope’s text below the video.
Today [17 June 2009] I would like to talk about Sts Cyril and Methodius, brothers by blood and in the faith, the so-called “Apostles to the Slavs”. Cyril was born in Thessalonica to Leo, an imperial magistrate, in 826 or 827. He was the youngest of seven. As a child he learned the Slavonic language. When he was 14 years old he was sent to Constantinople to be educated and was companion to the young Emperor, Michael III. In those years Cyril was introduced to the various university disciplines, including dialectics, and his teacher was Photius. After refusing a brilliant marriage he decided to receive holy Orders and became “librarian” at the Patriarchate. Shortly afterwards, wishing to retire in solitude, he went into hiding at a monastery but was soon discovered and entrusted with teaching the sacred and profane sciences. He carried out this office so well that he earned the nickname of “Philosopher”. In the meantime, his brother Michael (born in about 815), left the world after an administrative career in Macedonia, and withdrew to a monastic life on Mount Olympus in Bithynia, where he was given the name “Methodius” (a monk’s monastic name had to begin with the same letter as his baptismal name) and became hegumen of the Monastery of Polychron.
Attracted by his brother’s example, Cyril too decided to give up teaching and go to Mount Olympus to meditate and pray. A few years later (in about 861), the imperial government sent him on a mission to the Khazars on the Sea of Azov who had asked for a scholar to be sent to them who could converse with both Jews and Saracens. Cyril, accompanied by his brother Methodius, stayed for a long time in Crimea where he learned Hebrew and sought the body of Pope Clement I who had been exiled there. Cyril found Pope Clement’s tomb and, when he made the return journey with his brother, he took Clement’s precious relics with him. Having arrived in Constantinople the two brothers were sent to Moravia by the Emperor Michael III, who had received a specific request from Prince Ratislav of Moravia: “Since our people rejected paganism”, Ratislav wrote to Michael, “they have embraced the Christian law; but we do not have a teacher who can explain the true faith to us in our own language”. The mission was soon unusually successful. By translating the liturgy into the Slavonic language the two brothers earned immense popularity.
However, this gave rise to hostility among the Frankish clergy who had arrived in Moravia before the Brothers and considered the territory to be under their ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In order to justify themselves, in 867 the two brothers travelled to Rome. On the way they stopped in Venice, where they had a heated discussion with the champions of the so-called “trilingual heresy” who claimed that there were only three languages in which it was lawful to praise God: Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The two brothers obviously forcefully opposed this claim. In Rome Cyril and Methodius were received by Pope Adrian ii who led a procession to meet them in order to give a dignified welcome to St Clement’s relics. The Pope had also realized the great importance of their exceptional mission. Since the middle of the first millennium, in fact, thousands of Slavs had settled in those territories located between the two parts of the Roman Empire, the East and the West, whose relations were fraught with tension. The Pope perceived that the Slav peoples would be able to serve as a bridge and thereby help to preserve the union between the Christians of both parts of the Empire. Thus he did not hesitate to approve the mission of the two brothers in Great Moravia, accepting and approving the use of the Slavonic language in the liturgy. The Slavonic Books were laid on the altar of St Mary of Phatmé (St Mary Major) and the liturgy in the Slavonic tongue was celebrated in the Basilicas of St Peter, St Andrew and St Paul.
Unfortunately, Cyril fell seriously ill in Rome. Feeling that his death was at hand, he wanted to consecrate himself totally to God as a monk in one of the Greek monasteries of the City (probably Santa Prassede) and took the monastic name of Cyril (his baptismal name was Constantine). He then insistently begged his brother Methodius, who in the meantime had been ordained a Bishop, not to abandon their mission in Moravia and to return to the peoples there. He addressed this prayer to God: “Lord, my God… hear my prayers and keep the flock you have entrusted to me faithful …. Free them from the heresy of the three languages, gather them all in unity and make the people you have chosen agree in the true faith and confession”. He died on 14 February 869.
Faithful to the pledge he had made with his brother, Methodius returned to Moravia and Pannonia (today, Hungary) the following year, 870, where once again he encountered the violent aversion of the Frankish missionaries who took him prisoner. He did not lose heart and when he was released in 873, he worked hard to organize the Church and train a group of disciples. It was to the merit of these disciples that it was possible to survive the crisis unleashed after the death of Methodius on 6 April 885: persecuted and imprisoned, some of them were sold as slaves and taken to Venice where they were redeemed by a Constantinopolitan official who allowed them to return to the countries of the Slavonic Balkans. Welcomed in Bulgaria, they were able to continue the mission that Methodius had begun and to disseminate the Gospel in the “Land of the Rus”. God with his mysterious Providence thus availed himself of their persecution to save the work of the holy Brothers. Literary documentation of their work is extant. It suffices to think of texts such as the Evangeliarium (liturgical passages of the New Testament), the Psalter, various liturgical texts in Slavonic, on which both the Brothers had worked. Indeed, after Cyril’s death, it is to Methodius and to his disciples that we owe the translation of the entire Sacred Scriptures, the Nomocanone and the Book of the Fathers.
Wishing now to sum up concisely the profile of the two Brothers, we should first recall the enthusiasm with which Cyril approached the writings of St Gregory of Nazianzus, learning from him the value of language in the transmission of the Revelation. St Gregory had expressed the wish that Christ would speak through him: “I am a servant of the Word, so I put myself at the service of the Word”. Desirous of imitating Gregory in this service, Cyril asked Christ to deign to speak in Slavonic through him. He introduced his work of translation with the solemn invocation: “Listen, O all of you Slav Peoples, listen to the word that comes from God, the word that nourishes souls, the word that leads to the knowledge of God”. In fact, a few years before the Prince of Moravia had asked the Emperor Michael III to send missionaries to his country, it seems that Cyril and his brother Methodius, surrounded by a group of disciples, were already working on the project of collecting the Christian dogmas in books written in Slavonic. The need for new graphic characters closer to the language spoken was therefore clearly apparent: so it was that the Glagolitic alphabet came into being. Subsequently modified, it was later designated by the name “Cyrillic”, in honour of the man who inspired it. It was a crucial event for the development of the Slav civilization in general. Cyril and Methodius were convinced that the individual peoples could not claim to have received the Revelation fully unless they had heard it in their own language and read it in the characters proper to their own alphabet.
Methodius had the merit of ensuring that the work begun by his brother was not suddenly interrupted. While Cyril, the “Philosopher”, was more inclined to contemplation, Methodius on the other hand had a leaning for the active life. Thanks to this he was able to lay the foundations of the successive affirmation of what we might call the “Cyrillian-Methodian idea”: it accompanied the Slav peoples in the different periods of their history, encouraging their cultural, national and religious development. This was already recognized by Pope Pius XI in his Apostolic Letter Quod Sanctum Cyrillum, in which he described the two Brothers: “Sons of the East, with a Byzantine homeland, of Greek origin, for the Roman missions to reap Slav apostolic fruit” (AAS 19  93-96). The historic role they played was later officially proclaimed by Pope John Paul II who, with his Apostolic Letter Egregiae Virtutis, declared them Co-Patrons of Europe, together with St Benedict (31 December 1980; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 19 January 1981, p. 3).
Cyril and Methodius are in fact a classic example of what today is meant by the term “inculturation”: every people must integrate the message revealed into its own culture and express its saving truth in its own language. This implies a very demanding effort of “translation” because it requires the identification of the appropriate words to present anew, without distortion, the riches of the revealed word. The two holy Brothers have left us a most important testimony of this, to which the Church also looks today in order to draw from it inspiration and guidelines.
Click below to hear this week’s edition. Joining me are Polish Dominican at Columbia University, Fr. Lukasz Misko, OP, and homiletic professor and spiritual director of seminarians at St. Joseph (Dunwoodie, NY), Fr. Charlie Szivos.
Also go here to read a homily for today by our erstwhile pastor, Fr. Carleton Jones, OP. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day… so love is in the air. But what is love?
THE THREEFOLD BODY OF CHRIST
1. THE NATURAL BODY OF CHRIST
1.1 Biblical Teaching on the Body (Fr. Shah)
1.2 Early Challenges and Confessions of the Church (Fr. Wagner)
1.3 The Temptation, Suffering, and Death of Christ (Fr. Pollock)
2. THE SACRAMENTAL BODY OF THE EUCHARIST
2.1 Biblical Teaching and the Early Church (Fr. Wagner)
2.2 The Doctrine of the Real Presence (Fr. Pollock)
2.3 The Real Sacrifice of the Mass (Fr. Shah)
3. THE ECCLESIAL BODY OF THE FAITHFUL
3.1 Biblical Teachings on the Church (Fr. Pollock)
3.2 The Mystical Body of Christ (Fr. Shah)
3.3 The Worshiping, Sacramental Body (Fr. Wagner)
[The entirety of the post that follows is authored by Fra Lawrence Lew, OP, of the English province, who published it here .]
…Forty days after Christmas, the Liturgy commemorates the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in fulfilment of the Jewish Law. This feast brings to a close the extended season of Christmas and we, here in Blackfriars Cambridge, will finally take down our Christmas trees and put away the Crib! One of the names associated with this Feast is Candlemas and the characteristic rite of the Liturgy is the blessing of and procession with candles. The most obvious reason for this feast of light is to celebrate the True Light, Jesus Christ, whom Simeon foretold would be a “light to enlighten the Gentiles”. However, the ‘Golden Legend’ of Fra’ Jacobus de Voragine – as always – gives us other illuminating reasons for blessing and processing with candles on the Feast of Candlemas:
“The Church established this usage for four reasons. The first is to do away with an erroneous custom. On the calends of February the Romans honoured February, mother of Mars the god of war, by lighting the city with candles and torches throughout the night of that day. This they did every fifth year (that span of years being called a ‘lustrum’) in order to obtain victory over their enemies from the son whose mother they so solemnly celebrated. Also in February the Romans sacrificed to Februus, i.e., to Pluto and the other gods of the underworld, that the gods might be propitious to the souls of their ancestors: they made solemn offerings to them and sang their praises throughout the night by the light of candles and torches. Pope Innocent says that the Roman wives observed a feast of lights that had its origins in some poets’ fables, according to which Prosepina was so beautiful that the god Pluto, smitten with desire, abducted her and made her a goddess. Her kinsmen sought her for a long time through the forests and woodlands with torches and lanterns, and the Roman wives imitated this, going about with torches and candles. Since it is hard to relinquish such customs and the Christians, converted from paganism, had difficulty giving them up, Pope Sergius transmuted them, decreeing that the faithful should honour the holy mother of the Lord on this day by lighting up the whole world with lamps and candles. Thus the Roman celebration survived but with an altered meaning.
Another reason for solemnizing the feast of Candlemas was to show the purity of the Virgin Mary. Some people, hearing that she had accepted purification might think that she had needed to be purified. Therefore to show that she was totally pure and radiant, the Church ordered that we should carry luminous candles, as if the Church were in effect saying: ‘O Blessed Virgin, you need no purification! You are wholly shining, wholly resplendent!’…
The third reason for celebrating the feast of Candlemas is to recall the procession that occurred on this day, when Mary and Joseph and Simeon and Anna formed a solemn procession and presented the child Jesus in the Temple. On the feast day we too make a procession, carrying in our hands a lighted candle which signifies Jesus, and bearinng it into the churches. In the candle there are three things – the wick, the wax and the fire. These three signify three things about Christ: the wax is the sign of his body, which was born of the Virgin Mary without corruption of the flesh, as bees make honey without mingling with each other; the wick signifies his most pure soul, hidden in his body; the fire or the light stands for divinity, because God is a consuming fire…
The fourth reason for celebrating the feast is to instruct us. We learn that if we wish to be purified and clean before God, we have three things in us, namely, true faith, good works and right intention. The lighted candle in the hand is faith with good works; for as a candle without a light is said to be dead, and as a light does not illumine without a candle and seems to be dead, so works without faith and faith without good works can be called dead. The wick hidden within the wax is the right intention, and Gregory says: ‘Let the work be visible to the public in such a way that the intention remains in hiding.’”
Incidentally, the Dominican writer goes on to recount a story of a mystical vision of a Mass of Candlemas and says: “When it was time for the offertory, the Queen of the virgins and the other virgins, together with all those in the choir, genuflected and offered their candles to the priest, as is customary.” Of course, those who are familiar with the (old Tridentine and/or reformed, Vatican II) Roman Rite might be rather puzzled by this; the 1962 rubric clearly states that the faithful light their candles during the Sanctus until Communion, so they could not have offered them to the priest at the offertory. What we have here then is a reminder of the antiquity of the Dominican Rite which retained this older form from the early medieval Roman Rite; for we still have the Dominican custom of offering the blessed candles to the Prior at the offertory, which we shall do [today].
And as the candles are offered, this antiphon is sung:
“Felix namque es, sacra virgo Maria, et omne laude dignissima: quia ex te ortus est sol justitiae, Christus Deus noster”
‘Happy are you, holy virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise: because from you arose the sun of justice, Christ our God.’
May we, through her glorious intercession, be inflamed with God’s holy charity and so deserve to be presented in the holy temple of God’s glory. Amen. (cf Prayer of blessing over the candles)
Coverage of our St. Thomas Lecture will air on Wednesday, 7:30 pm, 11:30 pm, and 6:30 am on Cablevision 30, Time Warner 97, or on live streaming at www.netny.net.
The entire lecture can be found immediately below.