Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Divine Mercy Sunday

Last weekend I was honored to join almost four hundred pilgrims at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge.  Here's an excerpt from my talk on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cathedral Music Guild

This evening we were proud to host the Cathedral Music Guild of Boston at Saint John's Seminary.  Dr. Janet Hunt gave a presentation on Seminary Formation in Liturgical Music and I shared some reflections on Sing to the Lord: Seven Years Later.  For a PDF copy of the slides to my presentation click here or copy the link found below into your browser.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Last evening we were privileged to gather to honor the pastoral supervisors, faculty and staff of Saint John's Seminary.  In the presence of the seminarians and students at the Theological Institute, Phu Tran, a seminarian from the Archdiocese of Hanoi, delivered the following address of gratitude.

Dear Fathers, Faculty, Supervisors and Staff,

Giving Thanks is an indispensable character of every Christian. Our life is an unceasing thanksgiving. This character is manifested deeply and profoundly in the Eucharist which we celebrate each day. Today, it is an honor for me to stand before you on behalf of my brother seminarians to give thanks to the Lord who has chosen you to be his instruments to form young men to become His priests in the School of the Apostles. You play an irreplaceable role in our lives, our formation.

Although the Lord has entrusted to each of you a different task in our formation together you build up an orchestra, which is the life of every seminarian here in this Holy House. With your wisdom, love, kindness, generosity, and patience you help us to grow in human, spiritual, academic, and pastoral formation; you help us to see clearly our vocation. You teach us what it means to be men of integrity, to be servants of God’s people, to be priests of Christ, and to be spiritual fathers of many children. Through you, through your service, your examples, God transforms us to be men filled with zeal for proclaiming the Gospel to every people and nation.

I just want to take a moment to share with you how important you are in my formation. Although English is not my first language, after seven years of being formed here at Saint John’s I have learned so much in human, spiritual, academic and pastoral formation. I learned how to speak English properly. I learned how to be a man of humility, truthfulness, respect for others, kindness, justice and prudence. I learned how to encounter God through spiritual direction, through meditation on the Word of God, through prayer and especially through
participation in the Eucharist and the sacrament of Penance. I learned to deepen my faith, to be a preacher, and an evangelizer through studying philosophy and theology. Through the help of my supervisors, I learned to be a friend with the youth, to be a friend with prisoners, to be a companion with the dying, and to be a spiritual father, a shepherd of Christ’s flock.

However, it is through your own witnesses, I truly learned what it means to be a man of truth, a servant of God’s people, a priest of Christ, and a spiritual father of many children.

Dear Fathers, Faculty, Supervisors and Staff, I cannot tell you enough how appreciated you are in our lives. Before I go back to my seat, I would like to tell you that I will continue to pray for you that you may be faithful to the task that God has entrusted to each of you in the school of the Apostles.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Good Friday at the Seminary

 O God, who by the Passion of Christ your Son, our Lord, abolished the death inherited from ancient sin by every succeeding generation, grant that just as, being conformed to him, we have borne by the law of nature the image of the man of earth, so by the sanctification of grace we may bear the image of the Man of heaven. Through Christ our Lord. 

Alternate Collect for Good Friday

Friday, April 18, 2014

From Pope Francis' Stations of the Cross

Jesus is crucified

And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read: “The King of the Jews”. And with him they crucified two thieves, one on his right and one on his left. And the Scripture was fulfilled that says: “And he was counted among the lawless” (Mk 15:24-28).

And they crucified him! The punishment reserved for the despicable, for traitors and rebellious slaves. This is the punishment meted out to our Lord Jesus: coarse nails, spasms of pain, the anguish of his mother, the shame of being associated with two thieves, his garments divided like spoils among the soldiers, the cruel jeers of passers-by: “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him!” (Mt 27:42).

And they crucified him! Jesus does not come down, he does not leave the cross. He stays there, obedient to the Father’s will to the very end. He loves and he forgives.

Today many of our brothers and sisters, like Jesus, are nailed to a bed of pain, at hospital, in homes for the elderly, in our families. It is a time of hardship, with bitter days of solitude and even despair: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).

May we never use our hands to inflict harm, but only to draw near, to comfort and to accompany the sick, raising them from their bed of pain. Sickness does not ask permission. It always comes unannounced. At times it upsets us, it narrows our horizons, it tests our hope. It is a bitter gall. Only if we find at our side someone able to listen to us, to remain close to us, to sit at our bedside… can sickness become a great school of wisdom, an encounter with God, who is ever patient. Whenever someone shares our infirmities out of love, even in the night of pain there dawns the paschal light of Christ, crucified and risen. What, in human terms, is a chastisement can become a redemptive oblation, for the good of our communities and our families. So it was for the saints.

Tenebrae in the Paschal Triduum

The word "Tenebrae" comes from the Latin meaning “darkness” and is commonly applied to the celebration of the Office of Readings (formerly Matins) and Morning Prayer (or Lauds) during the Triduum.  A distinguishing feature of the service is the use of gradually diminishing light through the extinguishing of candles to symbolize the final days in the life of Christ. As the Office proceeds, candles are gradually extinguished on what is called the Tenebrae hearse”- a triangular 15 branch candlestick, consisting of 14 candles of unbleached wax, and a white (Christ) candle at the apex.

Many reasons have been suggested to explain the practical origins of this custom. Since the Office of Readings (Matins/Vigils) was celebrated during the night, and ended with Morning Prayer (Lauds) at sunrise, some scholars suggest that the lights needed to read and chant the Office were gradually extinguished as dawn approached.

Whatever the original reason, allegorical/spiritual meanings were soon attached to the hearse and candles. These meanings in turn popularized the practice. For example, a 9th century book describes the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours during the Triduum as follows: Also at this service certain candles are placed in the choir which are then extinguished one after the other, as a sign that Christs disciples went away one after another. But when all these candles are taken away, one still remainssignifying Christ himself, who in his humanity died and was laid in the tomb, and rose from death on the third day, giving light to all who were dead and extinguished by despair.

This basic symbolism has remained as the Tenebrae hearse gives visual form to the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours during these sacred days. Through the readings and psalms of the Office that trace the story of Christs passion, through the music portraying his pathos, and through the power of silence and darkness suggesting the drama of this momentous day, we are invited to meditate on the great event of our salvation.

As candles are extinguished symbolizing the approaching darkness of Christ's death, we ponder the depth of his suffering; we remember the cataclysmic nature of his sacrifice and we see the hopelessness of a world without God. But through the small but persistent flame of the white Christ-candle at the conclusion of the service, we await with hope the joy of the Resurrection: Christs great victory over the darkness of sin and death that we will once again recall and celebrate at Easter.

(Based on Herbert Thurston’s Lent and Holy Week)

To Priests, young and old...

"On this priestly Thursday I ask the Lord Jesus to preserve the joy sparkling in the eyes of the recently ordained who go forth to devour the world, to spend themselves fully in the midst of God's faithful people, rejoicing as they prepare their first homily, their first Mass, their first Baptism, their first confession… It is the joy of being able to share with wonder, and for the first time as God’s anointed, the treasure of the Gospel and to feel the faithful people anointing you again and in yet another way: by their requests, by bowing their heads for your blessing, by taking your hands, by bringing you their children, by pleading for their sick… Preserve, Lord, in your young priests the joy of going forth, of doing everything as if for the first time, the joy of spending their lives fully for you.

"On this priestly Thursday I ask the Lord Jesus to confirm the priestly joy of those who have already ministered for some years. The joy which, without leaving their eyes, is also found on the shoulders of those who bear the burden of the ministry, those priests who, having experienced the labours of the apostolate, gather their strength and rearm themselves: “get a second wind”, as the athletes say. Lord, preserve the depth, wisdom and maturity of the joy felt by these older priests. May they be able to pray with Nehemiah: “the joy of the Lord is my strength” (cf. Neh 8:10).

"Finally, on this priestly Thursday I ask the Lord Jesus to make better known the joy of elderly priests, whether healthy or infirm. It is the joy of the Cross, which springs from the knowledge that we possess an imperishable treasure in perishable earthen vessels. May these priests find happiness wherever they are; may they experience already, in the passage of the years, a taste of eternity (Guardini). May they know the joy of handing on the torch, the joy of seeing new generations of their spiritual children, and of hailing the promises from afar, smiling and at peace, in that hope which does not disappoint."

Pope Francis, Holy Thursday 2014

Thursday of the Lord's Supper in the Seminary