In 1925, when Pope Pius XI instituted the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, it was, in part, to counter the onslaught of secularism … yes, it’s been coming for a long time! Religion was been forced out of the public square as an antiquated practice for those in ‘less educated periods’ of history. Yet, as Pius XI reminded the Church then, “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.” Thus, he felt the need to highlight this central belief of our Faith. Continue reading “Act of Consecration to Christ the King”
I’ve now been to the city of Venice – Italy, not Florida – at least three times; it shames me to admit that I have, to this point, failed to write much about such a captivating city, well…except for that one time! Having spent the weekend there serving as a chaplain for some American college students and having had one of the most enjoyable visits yet, it’s time to share this beautiful experience! During the course of the 48 hours we were “on the island”, I spent a combined total of about an hour just sitting in St. Mark’s Square. You might be thinking, “Isn’t there tons to do in Venice? Why just sit around?”
First, there’s the natural beauty…an island in the middle of the Mediterranean with miles and miles of beaches, both smooth and sandy and rough and rocky. Then there’s Mt. Etna, one of only a few active volcanoes in all of Europe, reaching nearly 11,000 feet above sea level … which, by the way, the sea is only a couple miles away, which makes the difference all the more drastic. Various eruptions of Etna through history have combined with the moderate climate to turn the island into an agriculturally-rich region. Likewise, being surrounded by the sea, Sicily can take advantage of the wealth of goodness found below the surface of the Mediterranean.
As I’m sure you’re abundantly aware, today is the Memorial of St. Gerald of Aurillac, who also happens to be my confirmation saint. Yes, the late-9th and early 10th-century nobleman who made a vow of celibacy and sought to rule his territory according to the principles of the Gospel (yes, the Gospel can actually help you be a good civil leader!). You can read his biography or just get the skinny on him.
Of course, in celebrating his memorial, I was “reduced” to using the 2nd reading in the Common of Holy Men for the Office of Readings…of course. (Don’t worry if half those words are meaningless; it’s not the real point)! Thanks be to God for such a providential direction, for it led me to a forgotten, but excellent exhortation by St. John Chrysostom, which I found to be beautiful, and so thought it worth sharing:
From a homily on the Acts of the Apostles by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop (Homilia 20, 4: PG 60, 162-164)
There is nothing colder than a Christian who does not seek to save others.
You cannot plead poverty here; the widow putting in her two small coins will be your accuser. Peter said, Silver and gold I have not. Paul was so poor that he was often hungry and went without necessary food.
You cannot plead humble birth, for they were humbly born, of humble stock. You cannot offer the excuse of lack of education, for they were uneducated. You cannot plead ill-health, for Timothy also had poor health, with frequent illnesses.
Each one can help his neighbor, if only he is willing to do what is in his power. Look at the trees that do not bear fruit: have you not noticed how strong and fine they are, upstanding, smooth, and tall? If we had a garden, we would much prefer trees with fruit—pomegranates and olives—to trees that are for pleasure, not for utility, and any utility these have is small. Continue reading “Spiritual Gut-Check”
This Sunday’s Gospel follows upon the miraculous feeding of the 5,000, a miracle to which the Apostles were eyewitnesses. Immediately after this, Jesus made them get into the boat…it’s not uncharitable; it’s Him making space for an opportunity of grace to help them grow in their relationship with Him. We know what’s about to happen, but they obviously have no idea. While they’re making the crossing, a storm comes up … not uncommon! Because they’re fishermen, they know there’s always a risk of storms on the Sea of Galilee. St. Matthew tells us that it was during the fourth watch of the night, which is basically the early hours of the morning, so it’s late into the night, and they’ve been fighting this for a long time. They’re probably sleep-deprived and physically exhausted from steering. Then, they see Jesus coming toward them. They think he’s a ghost; they’re afraid…I can’t blame them; I’d be afraid, too. Imagine seeing your best friend walking on water: “What the…who are you?” Continue reading “Don’t Waste Your Time; Get Out of the Boat – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time”
It’s home to the Church founded by the Apostle Barnabas and guided by the likes of St. Ambrose and St. Charles Borromeo. It was historically more important than the city of Rome in the late days of the western Empire. It’s noticeably cleaner and more orderly than “other parts” of the great republic of Italy. Among Italian cities, it’s second in size only to the Eternal City, but the two would rival one another for their importance both past and present. If one, therefore, finds oneself in Italy for more than a month, Milan is a necessary stop. Continue reading “Audiences, Congregations, & Participation”
On his apostolic journey to Santiago de Compostela, Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendor and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe.” When making some sort of physical journey to a holy place, we live out, in a metaphorical way, what we live out every day of our lives: seeking to encounter God as He comes to us, and (hopefully) getting closer and closer to the Home of our Heavenly Father. This same idea was reiterated by both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Francis. That being said, it wasn’t till spending a few days walking the Camino to Santiago that I really began to understand that our lives are basically one big pilgrimage. Continue reading “The Journey of LIFE”
St. Peter writes in his first letter: “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (2:17) Following his instruction, Archbishop John Carroll, first bishop of the United States, wrote the following prayer for our country, a fitting prayer as we celebrate our nation’s independence: Continue reading “For Our Country”
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” (Jn14:23-24) It’s a simple instructive; our obedience to our Heavenly Father is a sign of our love for Him. Our love for Him will be
reciprocated by love on His part for us; it’s not, however, that we’re earning God’s love, but as St. John reminds us elsewhere: He first loved us (1John4:19). Our love is a response to His and our response, according to God’s design, prompts a further response on God’s part. This continual reciprocity, give-and-receive, leads mysteriously into a deep union between lovers; in this case, between Creator and creature. Continue reading “God’s Words”