Category Archives: Witnessing

An Invitation to Ministry


At the end of May I will be returning to the U.S. from my sabbatical. Bishop DiLorenzo has requested that I return home to assist at Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk. I have been so grateful to Bishop DiLorenzo to have had this opportunity to travel and to share my travels with you on this blog. Now with joy I embrace this call to ministry at Sacred Heart Parish.

I will continue to be blogging on various topics.

I would like to thank Bishop DiLorenzo for the gift of this opportunity!

A Rich Feast, for ALL Peoples

I would like to share with you a video produced in Italy by CoorDown, which is an Italian organization advocating the rights of children, youth and young adults with Down Syndrome. I found this pro-life video very moving and produced with great artistry.   

The Italians have brought to bear such artistry, with a Catholic sensibility, in their affirmation of life. The video captures so beautifully the reading for Sunday October 12 from Isaiah, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines.” [Isaiah 25:6-10a] All peoples: whether unborn, with intellectual or physical disabilities, or those weakened, fragile, and vulnerable due to age or sickness.

The Italian video ends with these words, “People with Down Syndrome can live a happy life. Together we can make it possible.” Together we can accomplish a great work – witnessing to life.

In the wake of Belgium’s recent decision to legalize euthanasia for disabled children, the mission of the Church is urgent – to safeguard our humanity and hold back barbarism, and bring about a cultural transformation through her witness to the Gospel.

Have you noticed that sometimes people accuse the Catholic church of exclusivity? But think about it:

  • we do not exclude unborn children, but affirm that they have a place at the table of life;
  • we do not exclude the sick and elderly but affirm they have dignity despite their weakness and vulnerability, and a place at the table of life and a claim on our care for them;
  • we do not exclude those children, youth, and adults with special needs despite even if some find them awkward, and they have a place at the table of life.

“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast…” also looks forward to the banquet of eternal life at the fulfillment of time and history when in the words of Scripture “God will be all in all.” All will be enfolded in the incomprehensible mystery of God’s infinite love.

Saint Benedict Parish will be hosting the 4th Annual Diocesan White Mass at the 11 am Mass on October 26th, 2014, honoring the giftedness of persons with special needs. Please join us for this wonderful occasion. And please use the sharing buttons below to share this post and invite your friends to this Mass.

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Corpus Christi

On Sunday, June 22nd, after the 11 am Mass, there will be our annual Corpus Christi procession when we will process the Most Blessed Sacrament through the neighborhood to affirm the faith of the ancient Christian church, that is the real and substantial presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The procession with conclude with Solemn Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  This is a wonderful opportunity to extend an invitation to those you know who would like to join us in this public manifestation of the faith.  The parish joins with Catholics throughout the world in a procession that affirms our ancient faith. On Thursday the Blessed Sacrament was carried in procession in Rome, and our Holy Father, Pope Francis held Mass and led in Adoration.

Although we affirm the ancient faith, our Solemnity is a gift from the 12th century.  Juliana of Reinnes (1192-1258) according to Adrian Nocent, “she saw a lunar disk surrounded by rays of dazzling light; on one side of the disk, however, there was a dark spot that spoiled the beauty of the whole. The Lord revealed to her that the dark spot meant the Church still lacked a solemn feast in honor of the Blessed Sacrament.”

Our procession will certainly not be of the magnitude of the procession in Rome, however our procession will be an expression of the  faith of a people who believed in the words of the Preface that “bathed in the sweetness of your grace, we may pass over to the heavenly realities here foreshadowed.”  As we prepare to celebrate this Sunday, may the words of the post communion prayer be on our lips:  Grant O Lord, we pray, that we may delight for all eternity in that share in your divine life, which is foreshadowed in the present age by reception of your precious Body and Blood Who live and reign forever.

Ecce panis Angelórum,
Factus cibus viatórum:
Vere panis fíliórum,
Non mittendus cánibus.
Corpus Christi Procession, July 2014. The monstrance is carried under the canopy, escorted by the Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

Corpus Christi Procession, June 2014. The monstrance is carried under the canopy, escorted by the Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

New Liturgical Movement included this photograph among its photoposts of Corpus Christi processions around the world, Part 1 and Part 2.

The Power of Grace to Transform

During the of days of Paschaltide, the church offers us a rich fare of readings from the Gospel of Saint John during the weekday Mass. Whenever I proclaim the Gospel of John I am always struck by the depth of his thought expressed so beautifully with such brevity.  Like an eagle, the symbol of the Evangelist John, he soars to the heights of such profound and beautiful theological articulations of the truth.  In this text we hear a very striking formulation, “because you loved me before the foundation of the world…” (see John 17:20-26). God is eternally begetting his only begotten Son, the Eternal word. That is hard to wrap your mind around; that is, before time came to be, before the foundation of the world, God was loving his Son, so there never was a time when the Son was not; there never was a time when the Father was not begetting his Son, and loving him with that eternal love.

The love of which Jesus speaks is an eternal love, a divine love, and he says “I have made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you love me may be in them and I am in them.” That is another striking Christian formulation. The love with which the Father loves the Son is eternal love, which is eternity, eternal life… “So that eternal life may be in them and I and them.”

You cannot get any more bold in the proclamation of the fruit of our redemption in Jesus Christ. Sanctifying grace is no fiction or merely a pious thought. Sanctifying grace is a sharing in the very eternal love of God himself and it makes holy those who possess that gift, by giving us a participation in divine life. That to me is what it so uniquely stunning about the Christian proclamation.

The text is very lovely indeed as it continues to lift us up and draw us into the heart of the Gospel of Grace, and that is what is so stunning about John. He is always circling around, to bring us a point where he can lift us up to a deeper apprehension of the truth of Jesus. After all the Holy Spirit has been given to lead us into all truth and Saint John is leading us through the Holy Spirit to a more keen insight into our redemption in Christ.

He leads us to ponder that the eternal love with which God loves his only begotten Son is the very love with which he loves us, and that is the love that is placed within us. That is indeed the fruit of our redemption in Jesus Christ. “I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

The Evangeliary (Book of the Holy Gospels) at Saint Benedict Church, http://saintbenedictparish.org/church/evangeliary.php

The Evangeliary (Book of the Holy Gospels) at Saint Benedict Church, http://saintbenedictparish.org/church/evangeliary.php

Young People, Witnessing to the Faith

On the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Bishop DiLorenzo has invited all of us to grow in a deeper relationship with Lord Jesus through his Body, the Church. What an wonderful exhortation as we embrace the challenge to witness to the truth of our humanity through the Gospel in the United State today which is mission territory. In my homily I mentioned Patrick Deneen (an associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame) who in an article in Communio, entitled: Religious Liberty after Liberalism: Re-thinking Dignitatis Humanae in an age of illiberal Liberalism stated that “nonbelief is an epidemic among the young”. We all know from our personal experience of family and friends that he is correct however there are signs of young Catholics under thirty who are embracing the challenge of the new evangelization with minds renewed in Christ.

A Parishioner sent me this link: http://www.focus.org/blog/posts/30-under-30-intellectuals.html. Enjoy reading about these young Catholics who are expressing their personal relationship with Jesus as they engage their environment with an intellect informed by faith. Also visit Front Porch Republic at: http:// www.frontporchrepublic.com/ and enjoy other articles by Professor Deneen of Notre Dame. May we set the world ablaze with the love of Jesus.

Another interesting website/blog to visit would be Msgr. Mark Lane’s Blog “Beyond the Frame” at http://neweyesonart.wordpress.com . Specifically, you may want to visit these two posts from his blog:
http://neweyesonart.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/two-baptisms-and-their-meanings-ravenna/ and
http:// neweyesonart.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/baptism-of-the- lord/

In Search of the English Martyrs

The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun;
it is of God, it cannot be withstood.
So the faith was planted: so it must be restored.

– Saint Edmund Campion, hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn in witness to the truth of the Catholic Faith.

A few weeks ago I had the grace to visit the site of the martyrdom of so many English men and women who held fast to the ancient faith of the English people. When I stood Tyburn Tree, the beautiful words of the hymn “Faith of Our Fathers” echoed through my mind. These words, authored by Father Faber, who converted from Anglicanism to the ancient faith of the English people, struck so deeply in my heart. These martyrs held fast to their conscience “in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword.”

That hymn was written to commemorate the English martyrs of the 16th and 17th century and the perseverance of Catholics in England through the continuing persecution in the 18th and early 19th centuries. A government-sanctioned persecution of the faith that spanned almost 400 years… and today the Catholic faith is alive in England.

In these days ahead we too are called to reflect deeply on the meaning of conscience and pray for the docility to be formed by the same Catholic tradition so we can stand in freedom before God. The faith of our fathers to which the English martyrs testified by their very lives is the faith to which are called to be true to death.

Get to know these martyrs, especially those in the group called the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. One is Father John Southworth, whose remains are now in Westminster Cathedral, who gave his ministry to ministering to Catholics and Protestants, so he offered himself as an oblation on the altar of the humanity for which Our Lord became incarnate for our salvation.

Pray through the intercession of Mary for our country. She is powerful in that she sustains the church in her suffering since a sword pierced her heart. She knows what it is to suffer for her Son. She, and the Forty Martyrs, and that great cloud of witnesses, pray with us and testify to the truth of the Catholic faith. This should be for us a cause of joy in the face of near-insurmountable challenges.