From the Rector
Apr12

From the Rector

To many of us, this story from the Gospel of Luke is very familiar.  But have we stopped to ponder its meaning and the effects Mary’s faithful fiat (submission to God) has on our lives?  Many times, I simply think of Mary saying yes to God in this one particular moment.  While this one “yes” was very self-sacrificing, I tend to forget she also had duties like us.  She continued to live out her faith each and every day “in the simplicity of the thousand daily tasks and worries of every mother, such as providing food, clothing, caring for the house…. It was precisely Our Lady’s normal life which served as the basis for the unique relationship and profound dialogue which unfolded between her and God, between her and her Son,” reminds Pope Francis during his General Audience, October 23, 2013.  Her uncountable yeses each and every day ultimately prepared her for the pain and suffering of watching her son brutally die a criminal’s death on a cross. While we might not be given signs such as an aged relative’s pregnancy to confirm an announcement by an angel, we are no less called to say “yes” to God’s callings in our lives so we can grow in holiness. As we have recently celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation, we should ponder what God is calling us to say “yes” to. How is God calling you to live out your faith in your daily life?  Is He asking you to say yes to doing the tasks that seem mundane, like folding laundry, mowing the yard, and cooking dinner with cheerfulness?  Is He calling you to say yes to mental prayer for ten minutes each day?  Or, is He calling you to say yes to giving up your latte each week so you can give alms to the poor?  Just like Mary, these little “yeses” can help us grow in holiness and hopefully lead us to heaven. Growing in the ability to say yes also allows us to follow in the footsteps of Mary, who following her “yes” to God, was able to give voice to the faithfulness of God in her famous, beautiful Magnificat: My soul magnifies the Lord And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; Because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name; And His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him. He has shown might with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart....

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From the Rector: General Remarks on Indulgences
Apr05

From the Rector: General Remarks on Indulgences

General remarks on Indulgences The following “General remarks on Indulgences” from Gift of the Indulgence summarizes the usual conditions given in the Church’s law (cf. Apostolic Penitentiary, Prot. N. 39/05/I): This is how an indulgence is defined in the Code of Canon Law(can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church(n. 1471): “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints”. In general, the gaining of indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions(below, nn. 3, 4), and the performance of certain prescribed works ….. [in this case, those granted for the Feast of Mercy] To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of graceat least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.  [i.e. one must be a Catholic, not excommunicated or in schism.] A plenary indulgencecan be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace: a) have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin; b) have sacramentally confessedtheir sins; c) receive the Holy Eucharist(it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required); d) pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope’s intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an “Our Father” and a “Hail Mary” are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions are required for each plenary indulgence. For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessorscan commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin). Indulgences canalways be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth. And so the Supreme Pontiff, motivated by an ardent desire to foster in Christians this devotion to Divine Mercy as much as possible in the hope of offering great spiritual fruit to the...

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From the Rector: How do we know that Jesus Rose form the Dead?
Mar28

From the Rector: How do we know that Jesus Rose form the Dead?

How do we know that Jesus Rose from the Dead? The short answer to the question is that we have the historical testimony of many reliable witnesses to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. The fact that Christ rose from the dead was not the product of the faith of Christ’s followers, rather, it was the cause of their faith.  The Apostles knew by actual experience that Christ had risen, as we know from history, of which the Apostolic Tradition and Scriptures are a part (the inspired nature of the Scriptures is a separate issue). The New Testament cannot be dismissed as myth misinterpreted and confused with fact because it specifically distinguishes the two and repudiates the mythic interpretation (2Pet 1:16, 1Cor 15:17-19). The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them.  Peter and the rest of the Twelve are the primary witnesses to his Resurrection (Acts: 10:41).  The fact that the disciples were able to proclaim the Resurrection in Jerusalem in the face of their enemies a few weeks after the crucifixion shows that what they proclaimed was true, for they could never have proclaimed the Resurrection (and been believed) under such circumstances had it not occurred. But they were not the only witnesses.  In one of his letters written about A.D. 56, St. Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion (1Cor 15:4-8) inviting any reader to check the truth of the story by questioning the eyewitnesses. He could never have done this and gotten away with it, given the power, resources and numbers of his enemies, if it were not true, and no one disputes that Paul’s letters were written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses to Christ.  St. Paul could hope to gain nothing in this world or the next by lying.  His doctrine led to his martyrdom in this life, and nothing proves sincerity like martyrdom, and he himself taught that God’s wrath awaits liars (Rom2:8). The often repeated hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles’ faith (or credulity) will not hold up.  On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.  This faith has been handed on to us by the Apostles and their successors and will continue to be preached by the all the successors of Peter.  Resurrexit sicut dixit!  He is Risen as he said, Alleluia!...

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From the Rector: Palm Sunday Procession
Mar23

From the Rector: Palm Sunday Procession

In order to help understand our Palm Sunday procession, I want to re-print a summary of an article I wrote a few years ago for the voice of the Southwest. Although there are several other examples, the processions in the New Testament of primary importance are Our Lord’s procession into the city of Jerusalem on palm Sunday, and his procession along the via dolorosa, carrying his cross up Mt. Calvary, which is commemorated as part of the Good Friday Liturgy. Theological Understanding:  The people of God on the Journey to the Kingdom, the heavenly Jerusalem. It is a teaching Scripture and so also the Church that everything that was said and done in the Old Testament Scriptures was a preparation for Christ and consequently has meaning for us now.  The history of Salvation can be summed up in this, we have been freed from slavery to sin by passing through the waters of Baptism and our journey will conclude when we reach the promised Land of Heaven and enter into the presence of God.  The journey of the Israelites is a type or a preview of the greater reality of Salvation in Christ and our eternal destiny. We are freed not just from slavery to Egypt, but to sin, entering not just the earthly Promised Land, but the Heavenly one, worshiping not only in the temple of the earthly Jerusalem, but in God’s temple (in Christ) in the Heavenly Jerusalem. Weekly Liturgical Processions: Every time we celebrate Holy Mass we take part in several processions.  Mass begins with the Entrance Procession by which the ministers enter the Sanctuary.  This procession may be led by incense, candles, a processional crucifix and the book of the Gospels.  It is to be accompanied by the proper introit chant, processional psalm and antiphon or at least a suitable hymn.  For solemn Masses there is a procession before the proclamation of the Gospel, the Offertory procession of gifts, the procession of the faithful to receive Holy Communion, and finally the Recessional as the ministers depart the Sanctuary after the dismissal. Other Liturgical processions are included in Funerals, and in the conferral of the Sacraments at Baptisms and Weddings. Annual Liturgical Processions: These include the Eucharistic Processions for Corpus Christi and the Palm Sunday procession with palm branches commemorating our Lords entry into Jerusalem.  Corpus Christi processions are the most solemn of all since they involve an actual procession of Jesus Christ! This is not a re-enactment, Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist here and now, bodily moving through the streets of our towns. Devotional Processions take place in May for the crowning of images of Mary.  These correspond to the ancient processions in an interesting way. ...

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From the Rector: The Veiling of Images and Crosses
Mar15

From the Rector: The Veiling of Images and Crosses

The Veiling of Images and Crosses from the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship Does the new Missale Romanum allow for the veiling of statues and crosses? The Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, provides a rubric at the beginning of the texts for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, which allows that: “the practice of covering crosses and images in the Church from the Fifth Sunday of Lent is permitted, according to the judgment of the Conferences of Bishops. Crosses remain veiled until the end of the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday; images remain veiled until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.”1 Have the Bishops of the Unites States expressed the judgment on this practice? Yes. On June 14, 2001, the Latin Church members of the USCCB approved an adaptation to number 318 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal which would allow for the veiling of crosses and images in this manner. On April 17, 2002, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments wrote to Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, USCCB President (Prot. no. 1381/01/L), noting that this matter belonged more properly to the rubrics of the Fifth Sunday of Lent. While the decision of the USCCB will be included with this rubric when the Roman Missal is eventually published, the veiling of crosses and images may now take place at the discretion of the local pastor. When may crosses and images be veiled? Crosses and images may be veiled on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Crosses are unveiled following the Good Friday Liturgy, while images are unveiled before the beginning of the Easter Vigil. Is the veiling of crosses and statues required? No. The veiling is offered as an option, at the discretion of the local pastor. What is the reason for the veiling of crosses and images? The veiling of crosses and images is a sort of “fasting” from sacred depictions which represent the paschal glory of our salvation. Just as the Lenten fast concludes with the Paschal feast, so too, our fasting from the cross culminates in an adoration of the holy wood on which the sacrifice of Calvary was offered for our sins. Likewise, a fasting from the glorious images of the mysteries of faith and the saints in glory, culminates on the Easter nightwith a renewed appreciation of the glorious victory won by Christ, risen from the tomb to win for us eternal life. Why are crosses unveiled after the Good Friday Liturgy? An important part of the Good Friday Liturgy is the veneration of the cross, which may include its unveiling. Once the cross to be venerated has been unveiled, it seems logical that all crosses would remain unveiled for the veneration...

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From the Rector: How long is Jesus present in the Eucharist after we’ve received Communion?
Mar09

From the Rector: How long is Jesus present in the Eucharist after we’ve received Communion?

How long is Jesus present in the Eucharist after we’ve received Communion? The great treasure of the Catholic Church is the Eucharist — Jesus himself hidden under the appearances of bread and wine. We believe, as the Catechism states, that “In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained’” (CCC 1374). Additionally, this Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist does not end immediately when we receive him at Communion time. The Catechism goes on to explain how, “The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist” (CCC 1377). What does that mean when we receive him into our mouths? How long does Jesus’ Real Presence remain in our bodies? There is a famous story from the life of Saint Philip Neri that helps answer that question. One day while he was celebrating Mass, a man received Holy Communion and left the church early. The man appeared to have no regard for the Presence within him and so Philip Neri decided to use this opportunity as a teaching moment. He sent two altar boys with lighted candles to follow the man outside of the church. After a while walking through the streets of Rome, the man turned around to see the altar boys still following him. Confused, the man returned to the church and asked Philip Neri why he sent the altar boys. Saint Philip Neri responded by saying, “We have to pay proper respect to Our Lord, Whom you are carrying away with you. Since you neglect to adore Him, I sent two acolytes to take your place.” The man was stunned by the response and resolved to be more aware of God’s presence in the future. It is generally assumed that the Eucharistic species of bread remains for about 15 minutes after reception. This is based on simple biology and reflects the Catechism’s statement that the presence of Christ “endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist.” This is why many saints have recommended offering 15 minutes of prayer after receiving the Eucharist as a thanksgiving to God. This allows the soul to savor the presence of God and have a true “heart-to-heart” with Jesus. In our fast paced world it is often difficult to remain long after Mass, but that doesn’t mean we can’t at least pray a brief prayer of thanksgiving. The main point is that we need to remember Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist stays with us for several minutes and presents us with a special time when we can commune with our Lord and feel his love within us. If one day...

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From the Rector: Prayer for Lent
Mar01

From the Rector: Prayer for Lent

Prayer of petition to live well the holy season of Lent Lord, as we begin the holy season of Lent, I ask you for your help. You have said: “Be converted to me with all your heart”(Joel 2:12). I hunger to do your will. I long to please you in all that I think and say and do. During Lent I want to grow in my love for you. I want to show you my deep sorrow and repentance for all my past sins, offenses and negligence. I know I have often fallen short of what you as my Creator and Father have the right to expect from me. I know that I have often chosen my will over yours. I have given in to pride, greed, envy, anger, impurity, gluttony and laziness. I have often acted against your commandments, deliberately choosing my comfort, pleasure or gain over that which pleases you. I have failed to correspond to your graces. At times I have been indifferent to my faith, my love has been self-centered, I have placed my hope in earthly matters. I have been impatient. I have allowed my senses and imagination to wander. I have frequently failed to think of you, the only source of all that is good in my life. I have often failed to spend time with you in prayer. I have ignored your calls and thought only of myself: my time, my plans, my interests and ambitions. I have not fulfilled my duties to family and friends. I have put off my studies and been lazy about my work. In these and countless other ways I have fallen short of what I should be. But now I want you to know that my soul is filled with sincere sorrow for the wrong I have done and the good I have failed to do. I repent of all my sins and faults and I turn to you, my Father and Lord, to beg your forgiveness. O my Jesus, I count on your grace. You lived and suffered and died on the Cross to redeem me from sin. I trust in your mercy. I will confess my sins to my brother the priest. I will do penance and I will try to convert what has been darkness and sin in my life into works of light. I come to you with the confident words of the repentant thief: “Lord, remember me.” Lord, I know that I need this time of Lent to deepen my sorrow for the past, to do penance by voluntarily denying myself some of the pleasures of this life, to pray more and...

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