Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ringing in the New Year...

Father Scorzello did pasta with "Sunday Sauce," Father O'Connor cooked the Roast, a fantastic Tuscan San Giovese came by way of the good folks at Vino Italiano in Waltham and pastries were baked in several magnificent Boston bakeries.  Thusly did some of our faculty join priest friends from Boston and Providence to ring in the New Year!  We may not have all made it until the strike of midnight, but a fine meal and good time was had by all.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

For all the blessings, we sing...

For all the blessings of this year: for for men discerning God's will for their lives, for our faculty and staff, for all the good folks seeking Christ at our Theological Institute, for our benefactors and friends, for Cardinal Se├ín O'Malley and for everything God has in store for us in the coming year, we sing...

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord; we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.

To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
     Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
     heaven and earth are full of your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.

Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you;
     Father, of majesty unbounded,
     your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
     and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not shun the Virgin's womb.

You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God's right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come and be our judge.

Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

V. Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance.
R. Govern and uphold them now and always.
V.  Day by day we bless you.
R. We praise your name for ever.
V.  Keep us today, Lord, from all sin.
R. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
V.  Lord, show us your love and mercy,
R. For we have put our trust in you.
V.  In you, Lord, is our hope:

R. Let us never be put to shame.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Faculty Christmas Dinner

As the seminarians complete their exams and depart for Christmas vacation, the faculty gathered for their annual Christmas dinner.  A wonderful time was had by all, including, clockwise from the left, Father Briody, Dean Metilly, Father Salocks, Father Scorzello, Father O'Connor, Father Cessario, Father Conn, Father O'Connell and Monsignor Moroney.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Boston Ministers' Club at SJS

Last evening I was privileged to host a meeting of seventeen members of the Boston Ministers' Club, the oldest ecumenical association of clergy in these United States.  We discussed two scenes from an amazing marionette play entitled “Anne Bradstreet and Her Minister,” by Reverend Joseph A. Basset, Minister Emeritus of the First Church in Chestnut Hill.  The theme was "What kind of power informs a flag?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Pray for Us!

Deep into exam week, the seminarians are burning the midnight oil, covering white boards with notes in all the classrooms and cramming for final exams.  Please pray to Saint Thomas and all the saints for their peace, tranquility and wisdom!

Such profound wisdom is reflected on these boards, but I'm not sure what the little pig means?

Congratulations Bishop Kennedy!

We were honored this morning to celebrate Mass with Bishop Arthur Kennedy, former Rector of Saint John’s Seminary and Vicar for the New Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Boston.  Bishop Kennedy is celebrating the forty-ninth anniversary of his ordination to the Priesthood today and recalled the homily preached by Pope Benedict XVI on his sixtieth anniversary.

In that homily the Holy Father recalled that interior unity with each other and with Christ which characterizes the lives of priests and seminarians.  This interior unity is characterized by “wanting the same things, rejecting the same things: this was how I was expressed in antiquity. Friendship is a communication of thinking and willing.... Friendship is not just about knowing someone; it is above all a communication of the will..”

We are deeply grateful that Bishop Kennedy has given over his life to the will of God for him and allowed the love and truth of Christ the Lord to shine forth for the past forty-nine years.  Ad multos annos!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmastime at Our Lady of the Presentation

On Monday night we gathered for the first annual Christmas Caroling at Our Lady of the Presentation Campus.  The spirited crowd, led by our own Dr. Janet Hunt, had a great time singing old favorites and concluded with the Salve Regina before the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Opening the Door of Mercy in Boston

Yesterday the seminarians of Saint John's Seminary joined the seminarians of Pope Saint John XXIII and Redemptoris Mater Seminaries and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston for the opening of the Holy Door for the Jubilee Year of Mercy at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston. Bishop Peter Uglietto, Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Boston, celebrated the Mass.

With this door, Cardinal O'Malley reflected, "we hope to facilitate an encounter with God, the Father of Mercy...[through] acts of charity towards one another, which...remind us of his goodness towards all people.”

Juan, the Crib and the Cross

This was my homily from this morning, the Feast of Saint John of the Cross.

Gonzalo and Catalina Alvarez already had two sons when Juan was born in 1542.  His first Christmas, six months later, was marked by the absence of his paternal grandparents who, though wealthy, had disinherited Gonzalo when he married the low-class Catalina.  

By the next Christmas, Gonzalo would be dead and Catalina had gotten a job weaving silk while taking care of the three boys in conditions so wretched that two Christmases later the second eldest child had starved to death, as Catalina struggled to feed baby Juan and the toddler Francisco. 

Thus Juan’s fifth Christmas was spent in the Catholic orphanage in Medina del Campo, where Catalina would leave the children for periods of time while she sought menial jobs to support them.  Without the orphanage, all the children would have starved.

The Christmas after he made his First Communion, Juan served Mass for the first time at the Convent of Augustinian Nuns.  And from that point on, his home was in the Church as well as in the hovel his mother kept for him and his brother.

So the great saint, the great mystic, the great reformer of the post-reformation period, must have found it hard to go home for Christmas.  Lots of painful memories, lots of worries about his mother and his brothers, lots of agonizing about whether he was doing enough while in Seminary and in the Priesthood and in the religious life.

Not unlike you.  And me.  While there are certainly familiar and even beautiful things about going home for Christmas, not every seminarian or priest looks forward to the holidays at home with unmitigated joy.

Each family is a union of imperfect human beings who have loved each other for life, just as much as they have been able, and are bound by blood.  And in each family there are easy relationships and there are hard ones, but each of them are as real as they are complex.  In the eyes of a parent you will ever be the child, and even in those latter years, when the roles of parent and child are often switched, you will ever be defined by the decades which have passed.

Yet despite the complexities, the good memories and the hurtful things, and maybe even because of them, we must cling in love to our families and to each of their members with the stubborn patience and absolute conviction that God really meant it when he said “Honor you father and your mother.”

So, be like Juan Alvarez, Saint John of the Cross.  Love and respect your mother and your father in their wisdom and their beauty and in their their poverty as well.  Embrace your brothers and your sisters, as best you are able.

And return home in a few days, carrying a bit of the holiness of this house within your heart.  Be a bit more patient and forgiving, a bit more hopeful and joyous, a bit more loving in the model of your Lord and Savior, who chose to give birth to a Holy Family in a stable, where he ruled from a feedbox, adored by the sheep and the shepherd boys.  His father was an old if good man, while his mother a virgin, the most blessed among women because God looked upon her littleness.  And in the thirty-three birthdays he would celebrate until he died on a cross the heart of each member of his Holy Family would be pieced by swords of exile and death, of sorrow and pain.

But I suspect he always went back to his family, as you will go back to yours, to celebrate his birth with them, standing before the crib in the shadow of his cross.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

The following homily was preached by Father Raymond Van De Moortell at Mass this morning.

On December 8, 1854, Blessed Pius IX in his papal bull, Ineffabilis Deus, proclaimed the dogmatic truth of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. “ From the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, Blessed Mary, ever Virgin was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”

The entire expanse of creation, all those in heaven and earth sing this day: Tota pulchra es, O Maria, et macula non est in te. "You are all that is fair, all that is lovely, and beautiful, O Mary. There is no stain of sin in you."

Applying to the Most Holy Virgin the words of the eternal Wisdom: Iam concepta eram. “I was already conceived”-- from all eternity, the Holy Virgin was in the mind of God. As the Book of Proverbs recounts: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything. From of old, before the earth was made, the depths were not as yet, neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out.” I knew you.

She who bore the Redeemer of the world, should it not be the fact that she is the all sinless one, the most perfect act of adoration and praise, the all immaculate dwelling of the Most High? At the moment of her birth she was filled with the Holy Spirit, and yet again even more so - if even such is possible - at the moment when the Angel Gabriel came to announce that she would be the Mother of the Savior. Behold what the Angel says to her: 
“Mary you are full of grace, overflowing with grace, and the Holy Spirit shall descend upon you and overshadow you. The Child to be born will be called the Holy One, the Son of God.”

The Holy One, the Son of God – is this not He whom we also receive in Holy Communion? Yet with such a profound difference! She the sinless one - we the sinners. Knowing who and what we are, we say each day, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death

What lesson can we draw from Blessed Mary ever Virgin and her Immaculate Conception? We must strive with all our might to avoid sin, to flee from the tarnish and stain of sin – sin which separates us from God. What lesson can we learn? She tells us: She tells us in all the mysteries she shares with Christ her son: at Nazareth: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” With Elizabeth: “My whole being proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” At Bethlehem: pondering the word of God, keeping it in mind, constantly turning it over and over again and again in her heart. In the temple as she receives the prophecy of Simeon: “Your soul also a sword shall pierce that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” At Cana in Galilee: “Do whatever He tells you!” On Calvary, at the foot of the Cross: “Behold your Mother!”

O Mother of the Word Incarnate, 
Immaculate Mary, conceived without sin, 
pray for us sinners who have recourse to Thee. 
Pray for us 
that we made be made worthy 
of the promises of Christ.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols

With two great celebrations of our Festival Lessons and Carols we have opened the Advent Season in a wonderful way, by meditating on the reality of the incarnation of Christ.  I am deeply indebted to Dr. Janet Hunt, our Schola and visiting musicians.  As the choir sang in the Introit to our prayer: "Wake, awake, for night is flying," the watchman on the heights is crying; "Awake, Jerusalem arise!"

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Vatican III Jazz

What a great evening of Jazz with Vatican III, our house jazz band with Pat Fiorillo, Matt Gill and Larry Valliere.  Special guest sax tonight was provided by our own Matthew Laird!  CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO CLICKS of this great evening.  Here's a quick iphone shot.

Father Cessario at the Ratzinger Foundation

The Vatican Foundation Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI recently sponsored an international conference to mark the tenth anniversary of the Encyclical Letter DEUS CARITAS EST. The event was held at the Lateran University and at the Augustinianum in Rome. The three-day conference concluded with the conferral of the 2015 Ratzinger Prize in the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace.

Our own Father Romanus Cessario delivered a conference on the reception of Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical in the United States and Australia. 

Fr. Cessario is pictured here with his fellow conferencier, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan.

Singing for Charity in Narragansett!

Congratulations to Matt Schultz and his down home Celtic colleagues who sang recently at a fundraiser for an Orphanage sponsored by Fr. Marcel Taillon and his parish in Narragansett, Rhode Island. The fundraiser raised close to $50,000!  

Advent and the Seminarian

Here is my December Rector's Conference.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Results Are In!

The results are did it!

Thanks to our incredible donors, we not only met our first #GivingTuesday goal yesterday, but we exceeded it -- raising a total of $2,980 for improvements to our seminarians' Common Room and living spaces. From all of us at Saint John's Seminary...THANKS!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

#GivingTuesday at Saint John's Seminary

Today is Giving Tuesday – a day of philanthropy, focused on uniting folks across the globe to give back, during a holiday season that can easily be overwhelmed with material gifts and possessions. Here at Saint John’s Seminary, we are busily preparing for the busy end of another semester, while simultaneously preparing our hearts for the Advent season and birth of our Lord.

I know what you may be thinking. Made-up holidays like “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” are just a lot of hype, it’s true. And so too you may think is  “Giving Tuesday”. While this may be partially the case, this is a hype we can get behind: supporting Saint John's Seminary, a vibrant community of impassioned men  - your future parish priests! - who are constantly praying for you, for one another, and to become better each and every day on their journeys towards ordination.  

Therefore, I am asking if you would please consider making a gift to the SJS Annual Fund today, on Giving Tuesday. Our goal is to raise $2,500 to make some improvements to seminarian living spaces on this day. Even a gift of $5 will make a difference to these earnest and prayerful men.  

To make your gift, please visit 
(On the online giving form, choose “Other” as your designation, and write in “Giving Tuesday”.)

Thank you from all of us at Saint John’s Seminary!