Saturday, June 28, 2014

Prayers for Baby Barry

Members of the SJS staff gathered last week for a Baby Shower for Sandy Barry, our Director of Annual Giving.  Please keep Sandy and her husband Craig in your prayers as they await the birth of their first child in the coming weeks.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Papa Francesco Makes a House Call

Seminarians in Tornado Relief

While most of our seminarians are in parishes this summer, a number are also attending the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska.  

Following the recent tornados in northern Nebraska, our own Eric Silva and Will Sexton joined Victor Andreozzi (Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary) in assisting with the cleanup from these terrible storms.  These three seminarians are shown here working on a  three hundred acre corn and soybean farm in Wakefield, Nebraska where they walked the fields clearing debris. Thankfully the farmer's family was unharmed and their house only had minor damage, although they lost close to a million dollars in equipment and several barns. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Homily for Monday: Jezebel

Now some of you who like old movies will remember Betty Davis in a 1938 classic named after the villain in today's first reading.  For who can forget that rebellious antebellum Jezebel arriving at the ball in a bright red dress to shame Henry Fonda into paying more attention to her.  Just like today we're enthralled with the schemings of Clare Underwood on House of Cards or Meredith Kane on Boss. we are always obsessed with the woman behind the evil man with blood on her hands.

But it all goes back to Jezebel, true daughter of Eve, who in today's first reading concocts a plot to get the house next door from the hapless Naboth.  By forging the King's signature she arranges to have Naboth falsely accused and then stoned to death so she can annex his property and expand her vegetable garden.

But that's only part of the story.  In the previous chapter she convinces her husband to abandon the one true God, while erecting shrines to the pagan deities Baal and Asherah.  She has all the prophets of Israel slain (Elijah, fortunately, escapes) all the while anointing her self high priestess of idolatry and witchcraft.

She made quite a name for herself, as infamous as Judas in her own right.

So what does she have to teach us?

Evil is always sneaky
Evil always starts with a lie, a deceit, a masquerade.  Like Eve in the Garden (“the serpent made me do it!”) or Cain (“I don't know where my brother is!”) or the little kid caught with the broken cookie jar (“I don't know how it got broke!”).  The heart of evil is the lie, just as the author of evil is the father of all lies.

Evil is about everyday things
Evil is seldom about historic choices or momentous things.  True evil has to do with deciding whether I will worship God or my own pleasures, whether I will seek the way or love or the way of selfishness, the way of purity or the way of corruption.  Just as love is best found in the little things, so evil is as common as my next decision.

Evil always loses in the end.
Later on in the week we will hear about Jezebel's sad end.  At the hand of Jehu she will be thrown down from a great height and, true to the prophecy of Elijah, the dogs will lick up her blood. In fact, they will eat most of her, for when Jehu went out to find her body, all that was left was her skull.

Nor will it be less horrific for the modern day Jezebel, who will be judged by the Lord when he returns in glory on the last day, when all those who have chosen evil will be consigned to a place of never ending torment, where the worm crawls and the flames burn undimmed.

And that is what Jezebel has to teach us today.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Father Boland and Father Omolo and Father Peschel

Last weekend saw the ordination of Father Jim Boland (Worcester), Father Chris Peschel (Fall River) and Father Charles Omolo (Worcester).

Hear us, we beseech you, Lord our God, and pour out on these servants of yours the blessing of the Holy Spirit and the power of priestly grace, that these men, whom in the sight of your mercy we offer to be consecrated, may be surrounded by your rich and unfailing gifts. 
                 (Rite of Ordination of Priests, no. 156)

Fathers Omolo and Boland at the laying on of hands.

And here's a video of Father Peschel's ordination!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Homily for the Sisters of Providence Jubilee

Wishing to consecrate myself to God and to follow Christ more closely….

I heard you say it.  So I guess you heard him.  Follow me, he said.  Follow me, Sister Mary of Providence Dion, he said in 1944, the same year that a young Dr. by the name of Benjamin Spock published his first book on Baby and Child Care and an experimental treatment for cancer called chemotherapy was in its first trials in France.

Follow me, she heard him say.  And she followed him, gently lulling countless patients to sleep so the surgeons could cure them, maintaining the dignity of those who had grown old at Bevan Kelly Home, and fostering the Associate program long before most would understand its indispensable role.

It is appropriate that Sister Mary of Providence bore the name of your first sister, for she bore the spirit of providence to countless generations of the sick, the poor and the forgotten.  She heard him call her, “Follow me,” and she did…day in and day out even even to today.

Like Sr. Caroline Smith heard him in 1956, the same year the Solk Polio vaccine was approved by the FDA.  Follow me, he said, into the surgical suite.  Follow me into the administration of a hospital.  Follow me into the street, where addicts whom everyone else has forgotten need the tough love and the tender heart of him who gave his life on the cross while whispering, Father forgive them, they know not what they do.  And so it was truly, sister, that Christ’s sacred heart taught your heart to love and to teach and to serve unto death those whom he would ask you to carry home on your shoulders like a good shepherd of the lost sheep.

Like Sr. Mary Horgan, my cousin, who has been my hero since I was three years old, the year she entered. I remember looking up at her, all decked up in that incredible outfit, all ready to follow him, to consecrate herself entirely to him and to the love that flowed from his side with blood and water.  I guess I know why it was so easy to love her as a toddler, for she gave those first years to little kids like me, and then she followed Christ into the classroom, teaching nurses in her own gentle and patient way, just like Jesus and as a retreat master, shepherding the lost to green pastures and still waters.  And in her work for the community, with her clear sighted love of the charism of providence.  And in her work for peace and justice in a world which so often just won’t understand.

But I guess that’s the secret on this Pentecost Sunday, dear sisters and friends.  The secret that the way of peace is not through negotiation, is not found at fancy conference tables or in the memoirs of famous diplomats.  True peace, you and Caroline and Mary Dion teach us, is found only in the consecration of your life to the Prince of Peace.  And the only way to happiness is to follow him, wherever he may lead.

Some of you, gathered here today, have followed him to married life, and to children and great grandkids.  Some others of us to ordination as priests or consecration as religious.  And many of you have heard his special call as Providence associates, a call to follow him, to understand the mystery of providence, to stand up and defend all women, the earth, and those who are poor and to pray for peace, to fast for peace, to struggle for peace right here and all throughout the world.

That’s why, whatever our state in life, he has gathered us here today…to be inspired by 190 years of consecration in the flesh to the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Love, the way, the truth an the life.

Sisters, you give each one of us strength to follow him wherever he may call us.  You are the channels of his gracious strength.  

You give us hope, that the Spirit still roars with fiery wind, transforming and renewing the face of the earth.  

You give us witness, that in a world too often filled with a babel of dissonance, we can still hear his voice:  Follow me.  Follow me.  And be consecrated to me alone.

Homily for the First Mass of Father Boland

In the beginning, when all was darkness and chaos, the spirit of God descended upon the waters and brought forth light and life and God saw that it was good.

So too, made manifest by flames and a strong and driving wind, the Spirit descended upon the twelve that first Pentecost Sunday, that the Church might born.

And so yesterday….just twenty-eight hours ago, Christ our great High Priest, through the hands of our Bishop, consecrated our brother James, our Father James to be a sharer in his Priesthood.  You heard the prayer…he made you a a priest renewing deep within you the Spirit of holiness, that by your preaching, through the grace of the Holy Spirit the words of the Gospel might bear fruit in human hearts….that his people might be renewed in the waters of rebirth and nourished from your altar….that sinners might be reconciled and the sick raised up….that the full number of the nations, gathered together in Christ, be transformed into one people and made perfect in his Kingdom.

All through your hands Father Boland.  All through your hands.  Those hands into which the Bishop yesterday placed bread and wine which today you will offer for us, joining all the little sacrifices and crosses of our lives to that one perfect sacrifice offered on the altar of the cross, that with you we might imitate the mysteries you will celebrate for us and conform ourselves to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross.

It is a miracle, dear brother, that God chooses such as you and me, but he does.  The same God who chose to live among us as a defenseless little baby in a manger, chooses such as us as the clay vessels of  his inestimable gift to the world.  

He chose you, who yesterday knelt before his Bishop and folded your hands between his palms, as if between the hands of Christ, and promised to give your life in obedience to Christ and to his Church.

It’s an act, by the way, which the world finds laughable and totally beyond belief.  To give up your own will, for the will of another?  Can’t you think for yourself?You’re bright.  Don’t you want to be success?  Follow him? Follow him to what?  To poverty?  To pain?  To sacrifice?  To the cross?

No wonder there’s a vocation shortage.  Sounds like we’re lacking a very good marketing strategy.

And if we were selling a commercial product, that would be ever so true.  But what Father Boland has given up his life for is not a product, but a person.  A man who hangs upon a cross.

The cross.  The place where there is no control nor desire for control, no decisions to be made, no problems to figure out or programs to plan, but only you and Christ and the cross and the people to whom he sends you.

For only God’s will matters, no matter what your head or your heart or your gut tell you.  It is God’s will and the will of his Church to which you totally give your life.

The last thing Maximilian Kolbe wanted to do was to starve to death at the bottom of a pit.  But it was God’s will.  The last thing Damian of Molakai wanted to do was to go work with lepers on an island half way across the world.  But it was God’s will.  

That’s why of all the promises a Priest makes, perhaps the most counter-cultural is the promise of obedience.  Which is why, perhaps it is also the most important.  For it says there is something greater than you here...a mystery of God’s love in which dying is more important than living, letting go more important than clinging on, surrender more important than control, and obedience more important than being right.  As the Lord Jesus hung upon the cross, in perfect obedience to the Father, he let go of everything, to his last breath in perfect fulfillment of God’s will. Conformed to that perfect obedience, the Priest is called to do the same.

So when the world looks at that man in black with the funny white collar who has given up striving for success, career, and family and even his own will in the name of God they will see not Jim Boland or Ron Falcoa or Steve Salocks or Jim Moroney.  They will see Christ.

And in the end, that’s what it’s all about.  

We’re here today because we love you, Father.  We love you as a son, as a brother, as a friend, and now, as a Priest.  

You will take up the cup of salvation and call upon the Lord for us, you will offer his perfect sacrifice for us, joining us to him and making sense of our lives.  You will baptize us into his death and resurrection, feed us with his Body and Blood, seal our covenants, heal our sick, forgive our sins and bury our dead.  You will be Christ for us.

Not because we chose you, but because he chose you for us, and sent you to be our shepherd and our Priest.

Saint Francis of Assisi used to say that if he met a saint and a priest on the road he would be nice to the saint, but he would kiss the hands of the Priest.  We venerate those hands which you have placed into the hands of Christ and which will touch us with the mysteries of his love for many many years to come.

Monsignor James P. Moroney

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Wonderful Days...

These days are filled with joyous ordinations and First Masses!  

Last weekend Father Chris Micale was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Burlington.  This was taken after his First Mass in Woodstock, Vermont. 

On the same day, Stephen Lundrigan was ordained a Deacon in Saint Paul's Cathedral in Worcester.  Stephen and the other deacon candidates are prostrate before the Altar as we sing the Litany of the Saints.

Arriving in Santiago...

After a little over 300 kilometers of walking we arrived to Santiago. And we were privileged to have a stellar closure to our pilgrimage as Fr. Manuele, the chaplain of our group, offered Mass at the altar attached to the back part of the tomb of Holy Apostle Saint James. Being in such proximity to a holy place like the tomb of one of Our Lord's apostles, who not only witnessed to Christ's Transfiguration and agony in Gethsemane but who also witnessed to the truth of the Gospel by his missionary zeal and martyrdom, inspires in us the desire to be faithful disciples of Christ in the 21st century. 

Throughout the journey the Good Lord and Our Blessed Mother did not leave us alone and unaided, all our needs were taken care of. Jesus had sent his disciples ahead to find a place to celebrate the Passover, but in our case what we experienced is that it was Jesus and Mary who were always ahead of us preparing the hearts of the people we were going to meet, who would only later be able to act on Christian charity and provide food and shelter for us - the little ones. 

Thank you for all your prayers; through prayer we continue to remain united,

Bernardo and the Clowns of God

Saint James: pray for us!

Almighty ever-living God, who consecrated the first fruits of your Apostles by the blood of Saint James, grant, we pray, that your Church may be strengthened by his confession of faith and constantly sustained by his protection.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Camino IV

Dear Msgr. Moroney,

These last couple of days we've been getting to our albergues (shelters) quite late in the night....sorry I haven't had the chance to send out an update until now. It's unbelievable how quickly time has passed here, we will be arriving God willing tomorrow in Santiago. We have come across some incredibly generous people along the Camino who have treated us to meals, provided shelter for us, and have enjoyed the singing and juggling! Without a doubt Our Blessed Mother has been protecting us 

Tomorrow we will have a 37 kilometer walk, which will make for a long day; however, we are excited to finally reach Santiago. In preparation for this long day we had a nice pasta and pork we should be all set for the walk.

I send along some more pictures...please continue to pray for us and especially tomorrow for good weather (since its expected to rain). We continue to keep you in our prayers,

Bernardo and the Clowns of God

Dinner after a 40 km day!
(With some Canadian friends and pilgrims)

Steve Poirier and Matthew Schultz on the Camino

Enjoying the walk
right before a rapid descent from the mountain O Cebreiro