Christ Our Passover Has Been Sacrificed

The following post is my homily from the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.  It will be the one post I put up during the Paschal Triduum.  It serves as a good introduction to the whole Triduum and in a way is a reflection on all three days.

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For I have given you an example that you also should do as I have done to you.

—Jn 13:15

These words of Our Lord at the Last Supper express the central truth of the sacred mysteries we celebrate during this holiest of times in the liturgical year. Our Lord gives us an example that we are to replicate in ourselves.

He gets down on His hands and knees and He does the dirty work of a slave by washing the feet of His disciples. He does this in the context of the first Mass in which He brings to fulfillment all that the Old Testament sacrifices represent, particularly the Passover sacrifice, which we hear about in the first reading. He is the Lamb that was slain. Yet He lives and He feeds us with His own flesh that death may have no more power over us.

Christ our Passover has been sacrificed (1 Cor. 5:7).   This is the Easter mystery, or the paschal mystery, meaning the Passover mystery. And it begins not on Easter Sunday, but today with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Continue reading

Good Night Sweet Gabe

It is with sadness, but confidence that I entrust here to the mercy of God the soul of Gabriel Altieri, a father figure, a spiritual son and a great friend.  After a long fight with cancer, Gabriel passed away in the Lord and the Immaculate yesterday around 2:00 PM. He was a long time friend of the community in Griswold, Connecticut and a faithful son of the Immaculate.  Please pray for the repose of his soul and the strength of his family and friends, especially his wife, Ruthy.

It might be a bit ironic to call such an old salt “sweet Gabe.”  He had a conversion late in life after many years of “being a hard man,” and he was just as uncompromising in virtue as he had been in the ways of the world.  But he was as easily brought to tears by compunction or devotion as he was to fierce zeal in the face of heresy and cowardice.

As a result of his rather colorful, Italianate pronouncements on everything from the beauty of our Lady, to the state of the nation, to food recipes (he was an excellent cook, and a great culinary teacher), as well as his escapades at the Father, Son Encampments (pictured above), we came to know him as “Sir Gabriel.”  We threatened many times to put him on camera and start up a channel on Youtube in order for him to deliver his daily address to the world on whatever topic was stuck in his craw.  But alas, this never came to pass.  We will all have to satisfy ourselves in the retelling of the many tales of “Sir Gabriel.” Continue reading

Did you know that . . .

Quote

Did you know that the Jordan River Valley is actually the deepest valley on earth? In Christ’s Baptism, creation opens at her depths to receive her Creator; the heavenly Bridegroom “espouses” the earth to himself, filling (“impregnating”) her waters with the power to “bring forth sons to a new and immortal life.”

Christopher West pornifies the Baptism of Our Lord.

God help us.

From a Cor Thoughts email via The Cor Project.

The Crack of Doom

Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, voices, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets made ready to blow them.

—Rev 8:5

In medieval English churches a standard architectural/artistic element of the liturgical environment was the Doom painting in the tympanum of the western wall of the Church. This depiction of the Last Judgment was located above the doors of the Church, so that it could be seen by the people as the exited the building.  “Doom,” in this sense, is a synonym for Judgment Day.  Thus, the Crack of Doom, does not refer to some opening in the earth from which proceeds the apocalyptic judgment, but, the moment in time when the impending judgment is announced by the “crack” of thunder and trumpet blast. Continue reading

Son of God and Son of Mary

Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins

May there stand no darkness between you and the Christ Child on this Blessed Day.
The past is gone and the Daystar rises in the East!

The Light, the Light! The Morning Star, who is the Virgin in conceiving and birthing. The star in the heavens that leads the poor and lowly in mind and heart. The brightness of angels that chases away fear and loathing. And the Daystar from on High who is the fulfillment of all hope and all that we have never thought to imagine.  The light belongs to those who long for it and who embrace it in its fulness, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary.

May you and yours have a blessed and merry Christmas.

Pope Francis and Our Lady

Francis-Fidenzio

In the above photograph Fr. Fidenzio Volpi, Apostolic Commissioner of the Franciscans of the Immaculate greets the Holy Father at the latter’s arrival at St. Mary Major on December 8th.  The Friars of the Immaculate are the sacristans in the Basilica.

The narrative below is from John Allen Jr.:

Dec. 8 was the festival of the Immaculate Conception, known in Italy as the Immacolata, and Francis made the traditional outing to Rome’s Piazza di Spagna to venerate a column with a statue of Mary erected in 1857 to celebrate the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX three years earlier.

Francis composed a special prayer for the occasion, the heart of which was a plea that “the cry of the poor may never leave us indifferent, the suffering of the sick and of those in need may never find us distracted, the loneliness of the elderly and the fragility of children may always move us, [and] every human life may always be loved and venerated by all of us.”

It was a classic Francis outing. He showed up in a blue Ford Focus, not a Mercedes limo, not even riding in the back this time but sitting in the front chatting with his driver. He stopped briefly to greet shopkeepers, then decided to take an impromptu walk the rest of the way. He paused to greet locals and tourists, paying special attention to children and the sick. Some folks tossed the flowers they brought to honor Mary in the pope’s path, and he bent over to pick them up and carry them to the column.

Afterward, Francis crossed town to visit the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Rome’s premier Marian shrine, to pause a few moments before the famous icon of Mary as Salus Populi Romani, “Protector of the Roman People.” He didn’t give a speech, and there was no scrum of photographers and TV cameras because Francis wanted it to be an intimate act.

This was the sixth time Francis has stopped at St. Mary Major since becoming pope, with the first coming on March 14, less than 24 hours after his election. It’s easily his most visited location in Rome outside the Vatican, illustrating how important the basilica and its dedication to Mary is to Francis’ spirituality.

As Argentine journalist Elisabetta Piqué notes in her terrific recent biography of Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio made a point of visiting St. Mary Major every time church business forced him to travel to Rome. The only difference now, Piqué writes, is that he shows up in a white cassock rather than a simple priest’s outfit. (She might also have observed that he no longer takes the bus.)

In popular parlance, “the Vatican” is shorthand for the papacy. One could argue, however, that the real spiritual center of this pontificate lies across town in St. Mary Major.

Fare Thee Well England

Much has changed over the last six weeks for me.  I travelled to Rome and then back to London and am now in New Bedford, Massachusetts for the remainder of the year.  I spent fifteen glorious months in England and was just settling in.  I had finally gotten it straight that in Cornwall the jam goes on the scone before the clotted cream. (It’s the opposite in Devon).

I am very grateful for all the support from the friars and sisters and lay supporters, especially to the friars of England:  Fr. Agnellus, Fr. George, Fra Leonard, Fr Solanus and Fra Paschal.  I will miss the people and village of St. Mawgan and Newquay, especially the Sunday Mass crowd that educated me in all things English, Irish, and most of all, Cornish, and the parishioners from Holy Trinity. Cornwall, the Land of Saints, and Lanherne, the perpetual flame of the Catholic faith in England are graven in my heart.  Thanks to all I have come in contact with who showed me so much English hospitality (and ethnic, especially from the Irish and Filipinos).

I am scheduled to be transferred to Rome to study ecclesiology in the new year.  Please pray for me and our Institute.  

May the Immaculate Virgin, bless her dowry and return the Angles, whom St. Gregory called angels back to the true faith.  May the Roman Church in England be blessed in this effort.  Many thanks from this Yank. 

Below I submit a chronicle of one of our pilgrimages, which the friars from Stoke-on-Trent took on the Feast of St. Modwen, July 5.  Fra Solanus was so good as to write it up for me, and I must apologize for the delay.

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Continue reading

Restoring Faith in the Triumph of Christ

Pope Francis has recently criticized the modern versions of Pelagianism and triumphalism in a way that has left some devout Catholics scratching their heads.   The Holy Father seems to be taking aim at the more traditionally minded that are intent on bringing about a restoration of Catholic life, and they find it hard to understand why the Vicar of Christ would have a problem with, of all things, “traditional Catholicism.”  So what exactly is Pope Francis trying to accomplish?

Faith and Future

I believe the Holy Father is attempting to underscore the supernatural character of faith in a time when everyone is affected by the deviations of modernity, including the very people who are reacting against these deviations.  In his encyclical Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis says that faith is a supernatural gift that lights our way, “guiding us through time.”  It comes from the past as a “foundational memory.” Yet, because faith proceeds from the Risen Christ it is also a light that comes from the future, “opening before us vast horizons which guide us beyond our isolated selves towards the breadth of communion” (4).  Thus, Pope Francis calls faith memoria futuri, “remembrance of the future” (9).  Coming from the past, faith is an unshakable memory of what God and done for us in Christ Jesus, and what He has revealed to us through His Son.  Coming from the future, faith is bound up with hope in the promises God has made and guaranteed by the resurrection of His Son.  Thus, in practice to keep the faith means never allowing ourselves to be robbed of hope.  It means never being frozen in time because we are afraid of the future (57). Continue reading

Truth

This is an old post that I have revised for today’s feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

In 1940 during the Nazi occupation of Poland, St. Maximilian Kolbe was negotiating with the occupying commanders for permission to publish an edition of his magazine, The Knight of the Immaculate.  The Nazis had taken control of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate, located outside of Warsaw, where St. Maximilian had one of the largest printing operations in the world.  The Nazis had sealed the printing presses with lead so that they could not be used.

They were well aware of the influence the saint had on the Polish populace and had endeavored to win him over to their cause.  The Nazis had even offered to register him as a Volksdeutsche, because of his German sounding surname, so eager were they to have him as a collaborator and propagandist.  St. Maximilian had boldly refused the offer, but kept on filling out applications for permission to publish his magazine, though in retaliation, the Nazis continued to reject them. Continue reading