Friday, November 30, 2012

A Homily on Saint Andrew

Matthew uses four words to describe the call of Andrew, the brother of the first of the Apostles, in Matthew’s Gospel:  Jesus SAW and CALLED him, and Andrew LEFT and FOLLOWED.

First Jesus sees the ones he would call his Apostles.  They are going about their daily work, perfectly content, absolutely convinced they understood what their life was supposed to be about and that they were doing it.  But unbeknownst to them, the one who was looking at them was the one through whom they were made, and he saw them more clearly than any mirror would ever enable them to see themselves.

For what he saw was not a fisherman named Andrew.  Rather, what he saw was a “fisher of men,” a witness to the miracle of the loaves and fishes and the evangelist of people from the Black Sea to the Volga River, the Apostle of the Ukraine and Kyzantium.

It’s like when Jesus first saw you... Some of you were convinced of your profound self-knowledge and your detsiny to be an engineer, or a teacher, or a wood worker or whatever..... But then you found that you did not know yourself as well as the one who formed you in your mother’s womb, who named you before you were born, who knew what he was making you for and who, in his good time, called you to himself to be made into what you were meant to be.

He saw them and he called them.

And then they left their father and their nets and followed him.  Two words here, which Saint Paul would later describe by the one  word metanoia, a pretty good definition of formation: first  leaving everything which leads me away from Christ and his plan for me and then turning toward him.  

And that, my brothers, is our full time job, our new life now, following him, wherever he may lead, whether to Tabor or Calvary: He calls.  We follow.

Monsignor James P. Moroney

Thursday, November 22, 2012


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanksgiving Feast at Saint John's Seminary

Thanksgiving Feast at Saint John's Seminary
Last Monday, November 19, 2012, Mr. David Aufiero of the Diocese of Springfield, Mr. Robert Miskell of the Diocese of Springfield and Mr. Carlos Piedrahita of the Archdiocese of Hartford professed their Faith and took an Oath of Fidelity to the Church in preparation for their Ordination to the Diaconate in the coming days. That same evening, Saint John’s Seminary Community held a Thanksgiving Celebration. In the course of the Holy Hour and Solemn Vespers, Monsignor Moroney offered the following remarks:

Fifty one years ago, Henry Joseph Mansell professed the Nicene Creed and took the Oath of Fidelity to the Church before the Altar at the North American College in Rome.

As the next year, Timothy Anthony McDonnell did the same at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York

It is the same faith which Archbishop Mansell and Bishop McDonnell will place in your hands, as ordained ministers of the Church. In just a matter of days you will promise to “hold fast to this mystery of faith and “proclaim [it] in word and deed according to the Gospel and the Church's tradition.”

It is the same oath which will be taken by the new Cardinals next week in Rome and which was taken by the faculty and me in late September.

It is the Nicene Creed and an oath of fidelity to the faith we have received from the Lord and from Apostles.

Today, you begin your proclamation in the name of the Church, in fulfillment of the Lord’s command, that “the Kingdom of God is at hand!”

May God give you the courage to proclaim it with your lives, this faith you now profess in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Father O'Connor is a Knight!

Monsignor Moroney, KHS congratulates
Father O'Connor, KHS
Father Christopher O'Connor, Vice Rector of Saint John's Seminary, was inducted into the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher this past weekend by Cardinal O'Malley at Saint Augustine's Church in Newport, Rhode, Island.  Monsignor William Fay, pastor of Saint Columbkille's Parish and many other priests and lay men and women were inducted at the same Solemn Pontifical Mass.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem has been a Papal order since it was first created by Pope Alexander VI in 1496.  The order is devoted to fostering the practice of the Catholic faith in union with the Holy Father and to sustain the Church’s presence in the Holy Land.  

The Order, made up of twenty three thousand members in fifty countries, is headed by the Cardinal Grand Master, Eminence Edwin Cardinal O'Brien, and the Governor-General, His Excellency Count Agostino Borromeo, and an international council, the Grand Magisterium. The Northeast Lieutenancy is led by His Excellency, Lieutenant John Monahan.

Father O'Connor is inducted by Cardinal O'Malley.

Monsignor Fay in inducted by Cardinal O'Malley.

Alumni Dinner at SJS

A Chapel and Rectory full of Saint John's Seminary alumni joined Cardinal O'Malley and the Saint John's community for Evening Prayer, a Reception and Dinner last Friday night.  At the beginning of the dinner, I offered the following remarks:

Within a week we will give thanks.  When we do, we will pray, for the first time, the collect in the new Missal for Thanksgiving Day.  It goes like this:

Father all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite; as we come before you... with gratitude for your kindness, open our hearts to have concern for every man, woman, and child, so that we may share your gifts in loving service.

It’ a good time to give thanks....

Thanks for the more than three thousand men who have prayed in our chapel, eaten in our refectory and walked those sacred halls; 

Thanks for the newly ordained priest, who with hands still smelling of Chrism, desires nothing so much as to lay down his life for the sheep;

Thanks for those who have grown old in priestly service, whose arms have grown heavy with the prayers they have lifted to heaven, and who now walk slightly stooped from the sacrifices they have offered;

Thanks for the young man in whose heart the whisper of God’s call is first heard somewhere tonight, who will follow where we have walked, and who does not yet know what a magnificent journey he is about to embark on;

Thanks for Cardinal O’Malley and all those who have gone before him, who have fostered this place, supported this place and sacrificed to make it thrive; 

Thanks for our younger brothers who prepare for priesthood as seminarians of the twenty-first century, thanks for their faith, their hope, and their perseverance in answering Christ’s call;

Thanks for each and every one of you, who are what these seminarians seek to be, and who are always a part of this house and always an honored guest.

Thank you for your presence, for your priesthood, and for your support of our beloved Saint John’s.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I met Mother Cabrini...

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin

My Uncle Mac never met Mother Cabrini in a drugstore.  In fact, I never had an Uncle Mac.  But I do feel I have met Mother Cabrini.

I've met her in Sr. Michael Paul, who in second grade CCD insisted on inviting those known as "the retarded kids" into our classroom whenever we had a party, so we could play with them and as she used to say, "love everybody just like Jesus did." She taught us to love.

I've met her in the associate Chaplin of a College, a nun, who was the only five foot tall avenging angel I have ever met with the courage to storm into any dorm room, any party, or any clandestine gathering and drag a six foot linebacker out by his ear!  She saved our lives!

I've met her in the nun at Saint Ann's school who choked up with tears running down her cheeks as she told me about the third grader who told sister that his mommy was in bed because daddy wouldn't stop hitting her last night.  The same nun who sat beside me in court, holding the hand of the third grader's mommy so she'd have the courage to take out the restraining order. She taught me compassion.

I've met her in the young sister who used her master's in Spanish to minister on the toughest streets of Philadelphia, but when discovering too many kids were going to jail for lack of decent public defenders, went to school nights in  order to get her Doctor of Laws degree and pass her bar exam. She taught me perseverance.

I've met Mother Cabrini in Mother Cabrini, who on a boat at the end of the second of her thirty journeys across the Atlantic to bring fresh batches of nuns to serve the immigrants in the United States wrote in her diary: "This morning all the Sisters woke up very ill. Some of them thought they were going to die... Those who trusted my words rose and tried to eat, and presently were looking quite well. The rest, who thought death was at hand, stayed in their rooms awaiting it...”  Thank God she wasn’t your rector!

The same mother Cabrini who advised her sisters: “When you are corrected do not justify yourself. Remain silent and practice virtue, whether you are right or wrong, otherwise we may dream of perfection but will never attain it.” (Oct. 17-20, 1892) “Renounce yourselves entirely if you wish to enjoy peace..."(Oct. 17, 1892) Sounds like she read the Gospel today.

The same nun who heard the voice of her bridegroom and so followed him that we call her a saint.

Some Words on Silence

The following talk was given at a retreat for some students in our  Masters in Theological Studies Program at Campion Center this past weekend.

I started to fast as a way to pray for the defeat of Physician Assisted Suicide a couple weeks ago..  I had oatmeal for breakfast, which really made my doctor happy.  I had soup for lunch and a very small piece of fish with some potatoes for supper.  It’s not easy, but I need to fast.

Oh, not for the obvious reasons, the ones that are scrupulously marked down on my doctor’s Ipad each time I go to see him, but I need to fast from food for a more important reason.

You see, every time I eat I’m convinced that the food is mine...I’ve earned it, I have a right to it.  After all I’ve done, it’s the least God can do is to give me a good meal....It’s my food....I’ve got a right to it.  It’s a matter of simple justice. 

And when I open my wallet and give some of my money away to the poor, I am being so generous, I am such a good person.   So kind, so self-sacrificing.  Every night before he goes to bed God must says prayers of thankfulness for having had such a good son.

My’s all mine.  See what I need to do is fast.

Because fasting teaches me that it’s not all about me.  When fasting, it hits me between the eyes (or maybe between the eyes and stomach) that neither the food, nor the money, nor the power, nor my good health, nor anything else I can see or taste or feel belongs to me.  It’s all his.  And by letting go of it, and placing it in his hands (even for a little while), and by waiting to hear what he wants me to do with it, I am doing his will.  It a matter of simple justice.

You think, when you give the poor man a piece of bread, Saint Leo the Great once wrote, that you are generously sharing with him something that is yours.  But you are a fool, he says, for all of creation has been given to us by God, nothing belongs to you!  You are just giving to the poor man the piece of bread which God had created for him.

And finally, and hardest of all, I started to fast from noise.  From the noise of my own voice (I try to shut up for long stretches of time) and from the constant carcophany, the billious barrage of static with which I fill my soul from morning to night.  But try it sometime.  Unplug the ear buds, turn down the TV, stop singing that song out loud and sit down and shut up.  And listen to the silence.

Blessed Pope John Paul II spoke frequently about silence.  Maybe he learned that as an eight year old boy when his mother died and he sat quietly in the corner of the room as she was waked in the front parlor.    Maybe he learned it when twelve years later his father died and left him alone to face the world as he knelt in the Church after everyone else left and first began to hear God whispering the idea of Priesthood to him.  Maybe he learned it that Black Sunday when he hid from the Nazi troops all day in the craw space under his Uncle’s house.  Imagine this twenty-something, still recovering from two weeks in the hospital after being hit by a German truck, hearing the sound of the jack boots as they searched for Polish collaborators.  Maybe it was that silence that taught him the power of no words spoken at all.

In any case, Blessed John Paul looked on the noisiness of our era as an invitation to carve out moments of quiet. He summed up his view in this way.  He once wrote: “The frenetic activity of modern life with all its pressures makes it indispensable that Christians seek prayerful silence and contemplation as both conditions for and expressions of a vibrant faith. When God is no longer at the center of human life, then life itself becomes empty and meaningless…Jesus himself often “went off to a lonely place and prayed there…” Jesus’ prayer is our example, especially when we are caught up in the tensions and responsibilities of daily life.” (John Paul II, Ecclesia in Oceania, no. 37.)

There is no word as powerful as silence.  Silence cannot be done in haste.  Only silence can enable us to embrace with our hearts which is being prayed, sung, or said.  Silence must come before action and the only reaction worthy to follow a meeting with God, is kneeling in silence, humility, and joy.

And whose the patron saint of silence?  It might be Saint Joseph, if you listen to Pope Benedict XVI he has recommended Saint Joseph as an example for each of us who seeks to cultivate an interior quiet.

[Saint Joseph’s] silence is steeped in contemplation of the mystery of God in an attitude of total availability to the divine desires. In other words, St Joseph's silence does not express an inner emptiness but, on the contrary, the fullness of the faith he bears in his heart and which guides his every thought and action. 

It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of his holy will and of unreserved entrustment to his providence…Let us allow ourselves to be "filled" with St Joseph's silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God's voice, we are in such deep need of it. ...let us cultivate inner recollection in order to welcome and cherish Jesus in our own lives. (Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, December 18, 2005.)

Jesus Sought Silence
Even the Lord, Son of the Living God, the Word through whom all things were made, sought silence at every important moment of his life amoung us.  As God, he was the word of love made flesh which lived amoung us.  As a man like us in all things but sin, he needed silence to purify, strengthen and center the heart of him.

You remember how his ministry began, with his Baptism by John in the Jordan River?  The voice comes down from heaven, “This is my beloved Son,” and Jesus immediately sets out on his earthy ministry.  Well not immediately, for first, as we heard yesterday, 

“Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1-2.) He goes immediately from the river to the desert, to a place of silence.

And when he was about to call the Twelve to go out to proclaim that the Kingdom of God was at hand, what did Jesus do?  “he went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12-13.)

And when Jesus heard that John the Baptist had died, “he withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself.” (Matthew 14:10-13a.)

And when the crowds got overwhelming, “he went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23.)

And, finally, when he was about to offer the paschal sacrifice of himself upon the cross, what did he do?  “...he came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." (Matthew 26:36.)

At every crucial turning point in his life and ministry, the Lord sought that which watches over us and invites us to a place deep within, a sanctuary where God comes to meet us.

Jesus sought silence, because it means three things: To fast from noise is really to Listen, to Pray, and to Love.

To Listen
One woman wrote in a letter to the editor of the New York Times last December:  I was going to take [my daughter] along with me to a tai chi class, as I did each Tuesday night, when this exchange happened.  I asked, “Want to bring some music since you have no homework to do during class?”  Emily: “Why would I want to do that? Then I wouldn’t be able to hear the silence.”

One of the Oscar contenders this year is a silent movie, that’s right, a silent move, called “The Artist.”  One reviewer wrote: “It turns out was clever to do a silent movie in 2011, as an antidote to our modern plague of pointless chatter...[the Director] recalled that at a French screening of the movie, a group of teenagers approached him. “They thanked me for letting them hear the silence,” he said. “It was touching to discover that these young people, always with their iPods, could like real silence.

Even at Mass we seek silence.  Pope John Paul II, in an address to Bishop of the United States in 1998, explained how we participate in the Liturgy: by song, gesture, prayer, and even silence....

“active participation,” he suggested, “does not preclude the active passivity of silence, stillness and listening: indeed, it demands it. Worshippers are not passive, for instance, when listening to the readings or the homily, or following the prayers of the celebrant, and the chants and music of the liturgy. These are experiences of silence and stillness, but they are in their own way profoundly active. In a culture which neither favors nor fosters meditative quiet, the art of interior listening is learned only with difficulty. Here we see how the liturgy, though it must always be properly inculturated, must also be counter-cultural.”

To pray
The great philosopher Rudolf Otto speaks of God as the mysterium trimendum: the unimaginable mystery, so much greater than even our imaginations can grasp.  And all you can do when you encounter the mysterium trimendum, Otto tells us, is to shut up and bow down.

Silence is the ultimate affirmation of God’s will.  No more words, no more rationalizations, no more trying to figure it out, but like the little kid, we let our Father lead us by the hand where he wants us to go.

Silence embraces what Virginia Wolfe used to call “moments of being,” moments in which we are more profoundly aware of our being alive and real that at any other time of our lives.  Such moments can only take place in silence.

Think of the first time a mother takes her child in her arms.  No words, just silence and profound bonding and love.  Think of the last time you hold the hand of a loved one before he dies.  No words, just silence and love.  Think of the moment of desperation as you stare at the cross, or the moment of deep joy as your heart overflows.  No words, just silence and being and the peace the world cannot give.

It is, perhaps, when we are silent that we are most alive.  Which is why the cultural of death thrives on words.  Words which seek to manipulate and pevert.  Remember the first weapon which the serpentine Satan used in the garden to lead our first parents to perdition?   It was words.  Did God really tell you not to eat from any tree in the garden? You won’t die!  Eat that fruit and you’ll be like God!  Lies.  Lies which are the first strike of Satan at the human heart.

But Satan does not use silence.  Silence is the carving tool of God, when we bow before him in silence and adoration.

To Love
“What’s the best gift Tom ever gave you for Christmas?” I once asked a friend of mine on her fortieth anniversary of marriage.  She stopped and comtemplated thoughtfully for a minute, and then she smiled.  Silence, she said.  Especially when he knows I’m full of hot air, but he listens anyways.  

One of the seminarians recently came to me with a concern with his apostolate: he’s just starting out and he’s been assigned to visit folks in an Alzkeimer’s unit in a nursing home outside Boston.  I expected he’d come back with the typical frustrations which everyone tyring to care for an Alzkeimer’s patient reports.  But his frustration was different.  I go there for an hour, he said, and I don’t feel like I’ve done anything to help them.  I just sit there and listen to the same stories over and over.  I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what else I’m supposed to do.

Well, I suggested, I think you’re doing quite enough, probably more than anyone else in their lives.  Because the one thing people with dementia don’t get is someone to listen to them, to patiently and respectfully listen to them.  To love them enough to forget about your needs and to just sit there in silence and look at them with love.

Did you ever have anyone do that for you?  A spouse, a parent, a child, a friend?  The little boy who looks up with boundless pride at his Father, the mother who at two in the morning just sits in that chair by her sick child’s bed, staring with love and with hope.  The now penniless parents looking across the field at their child’s graduation from College, just staring at her with pride and with love.  Or the old man whose wife’s dementia has removed every memory of him from her mind, but who still just stares at her wrinkled face with deep deep love.  And always such looks are in silence.  For silence is sacred and bespeeks that which poor words can’t convey.  Silence speaks the ineffable.

And by it we listen, we pray...and we love!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Join us for the next Forum for the Year of Faith!

Abbot Denis Farkasfalsky, O.Cist. 

From Dei Verbum to Verbum Domini 

Monday, December 3, 2012 from 7:00-8:30pm
Saint John's Seminary, 127 Lake Street, Brighton, Massachusetts
Abbot Farkasfalsky is the Abbot of Our Lady of Dallas Abbey and a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Author of Inspiration and Interpretation: A Theological Introduction to Sacred Scripture. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as a peritus to the 2008 Synod on the Word of God.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

First Snow...

Last evening saw the first snow of winter on the front steps at the Seminary.  It was really the result of a Nor'easter, whose winds continue to blow.  The beauty of the few inches of fresh white snow is something we seem to forget during the spring and summer.  It reminds me of an old Robert Frost poem we had to memorize in grammar school:

The way a crow
Shook down on me
the dust of snow
from a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a say I had rued.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

SJS in Boston Magazine

You may have already heard, but Saint John's Seminary made the cover of Boston Magazine this month.  It's an article entitled "Resurrection," which traces the preparations for Ordination to the Priesthood of Father Eric Cadin.  Click here for the article.

The author of the article also includes a reference to a class taught last spring by yours truly in his blog at Boston Magazine.  Click here for the Blog Post.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dr. Hunt and the Heavenly Harpsichord

An attentive listener
Dr. Janet Hunt, Lecturer and Music Director of Saint John's Seminary, presented a wonderful concert on the Harpsichord this afternoon.  Here were my introductory remarks:

In the entire history of music, the harpsichord is unique, for it serves as a sort of time machine in the way no other instrument is able.   If you want to know how chant sounded in the ninth century, it’s virtually impossible.  For we have neither recording technologies nor even accurate transcriptions of notation to rely on.

But if you want to know what the royalties of Europe truly heard when Bach and Mozart and the greatest composers of the sixteenth and seventeen centuries sat in their audience chambers and music halls, you’re in luck.  For the harpsichord, strangely enough, suddenly and without warning disappeared in the late Baroque era and so, unlike any other musical instrument, it did not change.  And with its twentieth century revival, at the hands of extraordinary musicians like our own Dr. Hunt, it begin to speak with the same voice, the same well tempered timber with which it sang a couple hundred years or more ago.

Which means that at the hands of a master, we are transported to the same sound the composers on today’s program would have intended.  A lovely soothing harmonic which brings peace to the heart and joy to the soul.

To be honest, Dr. Hunt, this concert is the whole reason I wanted to sponsor this series.   To hear you play the instrument you speak of with such love, and which makes other musicians speak of you with such admiration.

And it makes it all the more wonderful that the musician today is one of us, who leads us in prayer, literally, from sun rise to sun set.  We are deeply grateful to you every day, but overjoyed at the opportunity you give us this afternoon.

One last thought, stolen, as so often it is, from our Holy Father, who once wrote of the sort of music you will hear today: ‘It is not the case that it is a music which a composer imagined and then played; instead, this music comes from the angels, and we have to lift up our hearts so that they may be in tune with the music we hear.’

Thank you, Dr. Hunt, for working with the angels at lifting our hearts to the Lord!

Friday, November 2, 2012

All Souls Day at Saint John's Seminary

Listen kindly to our prayers, O Lord, and, as our faith in your Son, raised from the dead, is deepened, so may our hope of resurrection for your departed servants  also find new strength.
-Collect for All Soul's Day

All Souls

What happens when we die?  Will I feel pain?  Will I panic?  Will I see a bright light?  Will I hear the voice of those who have gone before me?  And where will I be after they pronounce me dead?  Will there be clouds and harps, pitch forks and brimstone, or just a sense of falling sleep?  In the course of a lifetime, we spend a lot of time agonizing over such questions.

Of course, we are not the first to wonder about such things.  Saint Augustine thought and wrote about death a lot.  It started when, as a young boy, he lost his father, and later in life when he buried a dear friend, and finally when his mother, Monica, died, of which he wrote: “I closed her eyes and an overwhelming grief welled into my heart and was about to flow forth in floods of tears. But at the same time under a powerful act of mental control my eyes held back the flood and dried it up. The inward struggle put me into great agony.” 

That inner agony led Saint Augustine to reflect on where his father, his mother and friend had gone.  Some people, he concluded, have led an evil life. They made their choice and they will go to hell.  Jesus gave us an example of one who goes to hell in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.  You remember, the rich man who walked by poor Lazarus each day and stuffed himself with this world’s pleasures while Lazarus lay begging and went without.  Lazarus goes to heaven, but the man who was rich in this life, is separated from heaven by a great abyss.  He went to hell.

Some people go right to heaven.  They are the pure souls who have followed Jesus and loved others as he has loved them.  The Lord himself speaks of them: they feed the hungry, visit the lonely, clothe the naked, and willingly sacrifice themselves on whatever cross God might call them to carry.  They are the ones whom we celebrated on All Saints and on whose blessed intercession we rely.

But then there are those, Augustine suggested, who were, indeed, saints, most of the time.  But at the moment of their death were truly fit for neither heaven nor hell.  They are the folks who have sought to follow Jesus, to worthily celebrate the Sacraments, to live a life worthy of their calling, but who at the moment of their death still have a long list of unfinished business.  People they never really forgave, broken relationships they never truly sought to heal, forgotten people they never loved, prayers they never said, thing they never gave to God.

Would God send such folks to hell?

No, Augustine concludes.  The greatness of God’s mercy, the depth of his love will grant such poor souls a place of purgation, a purification which would make them fit to join the saints in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Purgatory, therefore, is the most optimistic of doctrines: it teaches a second chance and always flows one way.  And our beloved dead who await the vision of God, who spend a time being purified of that which keeps him from dwelling in his presence, are the ones we are called to pray for on All Souls day and every day of our lives.

That’s why we come together to offer this unbloody sacrifice for all who have died.  I pray for my grandmother, my friend Loretta, my classmate David, and so many others who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again.  You have your own list…those at whose funerals you cried…those at whose death beds you sought to make sense of it all and failed…those whom you loved so much that the ache is just as real today as it was when you stood by the edge of their grave.

Today’s is a profoundly Catholic feast, for not many Americans believe anymore what we believe about the obligation we carry on behalf of those who we have buried in the ground and who await the resurrection.  It’s the obligation taken up by Judas of the Maccabees when he sought to offer expiatory sacrifices for his comrades who had died.  He knew, however incompletely, that the sacrifices of the living could take away the sins of the dead.  And he fulfilled his debt to those who had died.

But the sacrifice which we offer for the dead, at the hands of our own High Priest, is no mere offering of the blood and flesh of bulls and rams.  The sacrifice we offer is the perfect sacrifice of the judge of the living and the dead, whose paschal dying and rising “takes away the sins of the world.”  And the flesh which we eat and the Precious Blood which we drink are taken with the promise that we who offer this sacrifice will never really die.
For on the November 2nd which follows my death, what is it that I hope for the most?  That they will say nice things about me, or build a memorial to my name?  No.  For memorials will turn to dust, and memories will fade.  The day will come, not long after I am dead, when not a single person recalls my name or that I even walked upon the earth.
But what lasts is hope.  The hope that begs God to forgive my sins and lead me home to be with him forever.  We owe that debt to those whom we commend this morning to God’s merciful embrace.

So we pray, for all who have fallen asleep in Christ that they might know forgiveness, refreshment, light and peace.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pictures from a Vox Clara Meeting

(L to R) Fr. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, Abp Roche, Msgr. Moroney
(L to R) Cdl Rigali, Fr. Byrne, Bp Serratelli (Paterson)
(L to R) Bishop Boyce (Tuam, Ireland), Msgr Moroney, Archbishop Prndergast (Ottawa)
(L to R) Cdl Pell (Sydney), Cdl Gracias (Bombay), Bishop McGough (Birmingham) 
(L to R) Msgr. Moroney, Assistants, Advisors, and Experts (including Fr. McManus)
(L to R) Cardinal Carnizares (CDWDS Prefect), Cardinal Pell, and Archbishop Roche (CDWDS Secretary)

Holy Father Remembers Saint John's Seminary

Cardinal Pell tells the Holy Father that I am now your Rector.
Earlier today the Vox Clara Committee was honored to attend the General Audience in Saint Peter's Square.  The Holy Father kindly greeted each of us and I had the opportunity to commend you to his prayers.  Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney and Chairman of the Vox Clara Committee, explained to the Holy Father that I was now the Rector of Saint John's Seminary.  I then bragged to the Holy Father that Saint John's was completely filled with wonderful and highly talented men, to which he replied "Filled?  How wonderful!  Please tell them that I will pray for each of them."

So, tonight, the Pope prays for you, as you should pray for him every day, not only at Mass, but in your private prayers as well.  Some day I will tell you the full story, but when I was a seminarian, more than thirty years ago, Pope Paul VI received us in audience.  He concluded his remarks to us by saying, "When you feel alone and afraid there is one person in this city who loves you and who prays for you, and that person is "il Papa"!

We have in the successor to Saint Peter a true Vicar of Christ, who intercedes for us and holds the Church together in unity.  I have been privileged to know and work with the present Holy Father for over twenty years.  I have known his keen intellect and his extraordinary pastoral zeal.  I have sat enthralled at his ability to preach the Catholic Faith with simplicity and authenticity.  Each Pope (like each one of us) is endowed with specific gifts which God gives to the Church just when she needs them.  Thus Pope Benedict XVI is the Pope the Church needs today.  And we thank God for that!

I'm about to get on the plane and can't wait to get home.  There's been some important work and God has been so good to me these past couple weeks I've been away.  But I can't wait to come home to you and the great work to which God calls us at Saint John's Seminary!

Vox Clara Committee Concludes Meeting

October 29-31, 2012

The members and staff of the Vox Clara Committee met from October 29-31, 2012 at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. This Committee of senior Bishops from Episcopal Conferences throughout the English-speaking world was formed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on July 19, 2001 in order to provide advice to the Holy See concerning English-language liturgical texts and to strengthen effective cooperation with the Conferences of Bishops in this regard.

The Vox Clara Committee is chaired by Cardinal George Pell (Sydney).  The participants in the meeting were Bishop Thomas Olmsted (Phoenix), First Vice-Chairman; Cardinal Oswald Gracias (Bombay), Second Vice-Chairman; Bishop Arthur Serratelli (Paterson), Secretary; Cardinal Justin Rigali (Philadelphia, emeritus), Treasurer; Cardinal John Tong Hon (Hong Kong); Archbishop Alfred Hughes (New Orleans, emeritus); Archbishop Michael Neary (Tuam); Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J. (Ottawa); and Bishop David McGough (Birmingham, auxiliary).  Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I. (Chicago) was unable to attend the meeting.

Also assisting the meeting were the Executive Secretary, Monsignor James P. Moroney; experts: Father Dennis McManus and Father Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B.; advisors: Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, O.S.B. and Monsignor Gerard McKay; and special assistants: Reverend Joseph Briody and Reverend Gerard Byrne. 

The representatives of the Holy See included the Delegate to the Vox Clara Committee, Reverend Anthony Ward, S.M., Undersecretary of the Congregation; Monsignor Anthony Kollamparampil; and Reverend Andrew Menke.

Various members of the Committee reported on the reception of the English translation of the Roman Missal throughout the world and ntoed with gratitude the contribution of priests in its effective implementation. 

The main work of the Committee was an intensive review of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) Green Book translations of the Order of Confirmation and the Order of Celebrating Marriage.  The members noted that all involved have gained from the experience in producing the translation of the Missale Romanum over the past decade.  Making a limited number of general and specific observations on these texts to the Congregation, the members look forward to the successful completion of this project with the publication of the ICEL Gray Books early next year.

In reviewing the timelines for translation of the remaining editiones typicae by ICEL, the Committee was gratified by the Commission’s careful attention to maintaining a process which is both expeditious and attentive to the need for careful consultation on all levels.

The Committee was gratified by the success of the Roman Pontifical, recently published by Vox Clara on behalf of the Congregation.  With over a thousand copies in use throughout the English-speaking world, the Roman Pontifical brings a certain stability and uniformity to liturgical practice.  Further publication projects were also discussed.

On the second day of the meeting, Cardinal Pell welcomed Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as well as the new Secretary, Archbishop Arthur Roche, noting the Archbishop Secretary’s significant contribution to the work of liturgical translation during his years as Chairman of ICEL.  The Prefect expressed his thanks to the Vox Clara Committee not only for its assistance to the Congregation through the years, but also for the model of episcopal collaboration which it has provided in the important work of the translation of liturgical texts of the Roman Rite.

On the last day, the Committee was received in audience by Pope Benedict XVI, who warmly greeted the members and advisors and thanked them for their work.