Friday, February 17, 2017

SJS Mugs on Vacation

Two of our alumni just sent me this great pic of how to make good use of your SJS Cool Cups this time of year!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Two Blind Men: This Morning's Homily

Four times Noah sent out a bird…once a raven
and thrice a dove. Four times, which is either a testimony to Noah’s faith or his frustration at being cooped up with all those animals for forty days and forty nights!

Today the Church pairs Noah’s four tries with the curious account of the blind man at Bethsaida whose healing takes two tries before he is able to see. Two tries! You heard it. First Jesus spits on his fingers and anoints the blind man’s eyes, but it doesn't seem to work. The man reports seeing people who look like walking trees. So Jesus tries again, this time laying his hands on on the man's eyes, after which the no longer blind man sees “everything distinctly.”

Now that’s plain weird. Is this a testament to Jesus’ faith, that like Noah he kept on trying. That makes no sense, for Jesus is the Truth, the archetype and object of our faith. So why does it take two tries for the one through whom all things were made to remake the blind man's sight?

The answer lies a couple chapters later in Mark, when we contrast this healing with the giving of sight to Bartimaeus. You remember him: the beggar by the side of the road in Jericho, who keeps screaming at Jesus: “Son of David, have pity on me!” Then when Jesus stops, he jumps up, runs to him and says, “Rabbi, I want to see!” Jesus neither anoints his eyes nor imposes his hands. He just tells him that his faith has saved him and he is able to see perfectly.

Now contrast that to our poor man at Bethsaida. He does not approach Jesus on his own volition or say anything at all to him. Rather, we are told that certain people bring him to Jesus and they beg the Lord to heal him. There is no indication of the blind man’s faith, only the intercession of his friends. So the slow healing corresponds to his slow growth in faith. Or, as one commentator put it, “the rate of the growth of his faith settled the rate of the perfecting of Christ’s work on him.”

And the same is true in us. Christ, through whom I was made, is capable of bringing me to perfection in the twinkling of an eye. But he chooses not to. Rather, he gives me free will, that I might be able to love freely, like him. It is only when I am willing to see things with the eyes of faith, that I will see them distinctly.

In other words, ‘I will get as much of God as I want and no more and the measure of my desire is the measure of my capacity to receive God’s gift.’ We say it at every invitatory: Lord open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise. Open your lips and your heart to him today and he will open your eyes that you might see his face.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Monday Homily: On Cain

Eating from the tree of good and evil, killing Abel, the Babylon of Enoch… the sins spawned East of Eden… 

Ambition and pride, sloth and fear, cynicism and gossip…the sins spawned East of Lake Street…

They’re really not very different and we’re not really different from them. For, from the first sin in the middle of the garden, a demonic struggle has wounded God’s creation: a struggle between light and darkness, love and hate, purity and sin.

It is a cosmic struggle and every sin I commit is a small part of it. “…our struggle is not with flesh and blood,” Saint Paul tells us, “but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”(Ephesians 6:12)

So there stood Cain, “resentful and crestfallen,” jealous that God has looked with more favor on his brother. And as those feelings stewed in his gut, the scriptures tell us “a demon [was] lurking at the door.” And that demon was sin, the sin that brought death into the world. Ah, now I understand the old saying in the Book of Wisdom! "Through the devil's envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it.” (Wisdom 2:23-24)

Thus, every sin is really a giving in to the thinking of the evil one, who "was a murderer from the beginning.” (John 8:44) Every sin is choosing the side of darkness, of selfishness and sin. While every holy act is an embrace of light, love and the Cross upon which he saved us.

So a great struggle awaits you today in this Holy House. Between God and Satan, light and darkness, life and death. Choose life, my brothers… the thousand little ways you will be tempted…Choose life…that you may live! (Cf. Deuteronomy 30:15)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Snow Day on Monday

After consulting with the Dean and looking at the latest weather forecast, I have decided to cancel classes tomorrow, Monday, 13 February.  

SJS Offices will also be closed.

Morning Prayer and Mass will be at 8:00am and Holy Hour will be at the usual time.

Friday, February 10, 2017

With a Blizzard back home, there's no snow in Rome!

Well, the heavy snows during the past two days in Boston have been officially designated a blizzard.  While I prepare to return from the Vox Clara Committee, there's a beautiful full moon and its in the 50's in Rome.  I think I'd better wear my heavy coat on the plane!
The Marian Courtyard at SJS, during the snowstorm which caused the cancellation of classes yesterday,
while a full moon illumines the city of Rome, seen from the top of the Janiculum hill.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Vox Clara Committee Meets in Rome

While the Seminary was bring buried in a heavy blanket of snow, I have been in Rome for the Vox Clara Committee meeting.  We concluded our work today with a wonderful meeting with Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah.  Here's a photo of the Prefect, members and staff of Vox Clara.