Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Homily on the Elder Son and Kyrie Eleison

This morning the Knights of Malta were at Saint John's for a Lenten morning of Recollection.  Here is the homily I preached on the Gospel of the Prodigal Son.

Two sons.  Two kinds of sons.  

The first is a real screw up.  So good at sinning, that we never know his name, just his occupation: prodigality...who in four short verses manages to commit six out of the seven deadly sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy.

And then there was the second son.  No evidence of lust or gluttony or any of the other devils that possessed his brother.  Maybe he was adopted.  But what he lacks in quantity, he makes up for in the quality of his sin.  For the older brother is so very proud: too proud to go into the banquet, too proud to trust in his Father’s love, too proud to forgive his repentant brother.

So what’s the difference between them?  We know that the six-sinned Prodigal repented and was saved.  We never hear what happened to the one who was too proud to accept it.

We spend a lot of time, you and me, trying to convert sinners.  Sinners who commit the most despicable crimes against babies and old sick people.

Yet how easy it is for us to move from preaching conversion to sitting on our royal thrones, pronouncing how wicked they all are, and how lucky God is to have at least a handful of folks like us.

But, I fear, someday when, God willing, those six-sinner folks repent, we may be left standing here, wrists sprained from patting ourselves on the back...and then who will be saved?

For, the truth, at each evening’s examination of our consciences reveals, is that we are but worthless sinners, defaced by the ugliness of our sin, made beautiful only by the unmerited love of an infinitely merciful God.  Wretched in our selfishness, devious in our narcissism and often so totally self-absorbed that we fail to pray the most primal of our prayers...Kyrie Eleison...Kyrie eleison...Kyrie eleison.

It is the mantra of the cripple by the side of the road, the blind man who can’t find his way in the dark, and the sinner, who seeks only the will of God in imitation of the total self-emptying love which is the cross.

And when we forget that, older brothers all, we commit the greatest sin against love and against the Gospel of Life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Rice, Beans, Chicken and Pasta

This was night two of our nine hour introduction to cooking with Chef Michael Kann.  As you can see, a great time was had by all!!!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

On Shepherding on the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter

Saint Peter, whose cathedra we celebrate, calls himself three things: a witness to the sufferings of Christ, a sharer in the glory to be revealed and a fellow presbyter.  Then Peter sets out to strengthen we fellow shepherds by teaching us how to tend the flock of God.

The young shepherd, crook in hand, would tell you how to govern those sheep.  If the sheep does not move, you whack it on the backside with the broadside of your staff.  If the sheep wanders too far away, you grab it around the neck with the crook.  In other words, the shepherd boy out in the pasture usually governs by brute adolescent force.

Sadly, some priests shepherd in the same way.  Detecting ignorance, they sit upon their royal thrones and preach “the truth,” with a big capitol "T," and with equal measures of bombast, condescension and infallible conviction.  Seeing sloth, they look down their long noses at the poor wretches and exhort them to the industry with which they themselves have been naturally endowed and pray earnestly that the poor may be given the grace to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and become half the man which the shepherds on the thrones knows themselves to be.

This is the priest who mounts his pulpit like a tank, who wields his sermon like a weapon.

This is the pastor who rules his flock like a medieval warlord, answering every ignorance with his ineffable pronouncements.

This is the young and rough shepherd boy, governing by constraint.  

But, as the aging Saint Peter has learned, mostly the hard way, such a way of governing does not work.  The louder you yell, the quicker the sheep run away.  The more full of yourself you seem, the less they will listen.  Severity, condescension and pomposity seldom do anything more than reveal you as the narcissist, leading a flock which will not follow.

No, here’s how you tend a flock: ‘with sincerity, willingly and with gentle compassion…clothed with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bearing with one another; forgiving every grievance, as  the Lord has forgiven you. Clothed in love, the bond of perfection. (Cf. Colossians 3:12-14)

Such shepherding is not offered for what the shepherd can get out of it.  You don’t become a shepherd for the pay.  As a priest I have never made more money than any one of my staff, including the housekeeper.  I will never own my own house and I will never make the decision where I work.  I do it for the love of the sheep and the Chief Shepherd who has placed his flock in my care.

Nor do I care for this flock by lording it over them, but by the example I give.  It is shepherding by example. There’s that old saw: preach always and use words when necessary.  Preach by the example of your life.  

Gentleness, kindness and loving example.  Like Saint Peter and the Lord he followed to the Cross.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

SJS On Catholic TV

Our recent alumnus, Father Sinisia Ubiparipovic, Assistant Pastor at St. Paul Catholic Church in Hingham, Mass. celebrated Mass this morning at the CatholicTV studios in Waltham, assisted by our own Denis Nakkeeran and Glen Dmytryszyn, who served as acolyte and lector for the Mass.

The Mass will re-air tonight at 7 p.m. ET and 11:30 p.m. To watch this program on-demand just click this link.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pro-Life Retreat in Brooklyn

A number of our seminarians drove to Brooklyn this past weekend to take part in a pro-life retreat under the guidance of the great Monsignor Philip Reilly. I'm grateful to our own Tom Murphy for these great pictures!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cooking School at SJS


This evening Michael Kann, Associate Director of BC Dining Services, presented the first of a three session cooking class for our seminarians. 

Nine of our brothers mastered eggs and frittatas after a thorough briefing on food safety and basic cooking skills.

Next week it's chicken, pasta and vegetables. All of which will help these men to be the best cooks in the rectories of tomorrow!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Ready to Take on the Weather

We’ve had record cold around the Seminary this President’s Day Weekend, but a week ago Bobby LeBlanc, Mary Jo Kriz and Tom Murphy were battling the latest snow storm.  With their help we can handle any winter weather! 

Lent, the Cross and the Resurrection

On Friday evening I was delighted to spend the evening with Father Bill Kelly, Father Mark Storey and the good people of Saint Mary's in Dedham.  Here are the slides I offered to reflect on "Lent, the Cross and the Resurrection."

Friday, February 12, 2016

Benefactors' Banquet 2016

Our 3rd Annual Benefactors' Banquet took place on Sunday, January 31, while I was in Rome for a Vox Clara meeting. Luckily our Vice Rector, Fr. Chris O'Connor, was ready and willing to host the Cardinal and all of our benefactors and guests in my absence. 

We are so grateful to all of our benefactors, and this event for our Leadership Circle and guests of the honorees is our way to say thanks to this pace-setting group of philanthropists on the last Sunday evening in January each year. 

Cardinal O'Malley, who was the principal celebrant at Mass, joined Fr. Chris in the awarding of our two medals: The Archbishop John J. Williams Medal, named after our founding father, was awarded to Dr. Philip Crotty for his tireless efforts on behalf of and contributions to the temporal life of Saint John’s Seminary. 

The Saint John the Evangelist Medal, named for our patron saint, was awarded to Craig & Nancy Gibson for their constant willingness to go above and beyond for the good of the Church, and for their faithful contributions to the spiritual life of Saint John’s Seminary.​
We had about 175pp in total in attendance, a full house, just as hoped. The end of the evening was punctuated by a piano performance by Dr. Crotty’s godson, Miles Shealy of VA. 

Thank you to all who made such a wonderful evening possible! Below you can read the award presentations to Dr. Crotty and the Gibsons, the remarks each honoree made, and even watch the video I sent back from Rome to be played before dinner. Please enjoy!

Father Chris O'Connor's Welcome Remarks

It is a real joy to welcome you, Cardinal Se├ín, as we gather to honor the benefactors of Saint John's Seminary.  These generous men and women have made possible the wonderful work which God accomplishes in this house among these men whom he has called to shepherd after the heart of Jesus, his Son.  Your presence, as always, reminds us of that mission and strengthens us in our resolve.  

In the past three years, under your watchful eye and with the help of everyone here tonight, we have definitively changed the face of fundraising at SJS. These members of our Leadership Circle are truly the pace-setters for all Friends of Saint John's Seminary! 

Between events like our golf tournament, our regular appeal letters at Lent, Ordination time, and Advent, and special appeals like our seminarians' trip to DC to see the Pope in September, our fundraising program has seen record-breaking successes in the last year. 

We owe so much to you all, our Leadership Circle, and we all look forward to continuing this relationship for years to come. 

So, on behalf of Monsignor Moroney, who has been called to a Vox Clara Meeting in Rome, all the faculty and seminarians, welcome! 


Dr. Philip Crotty is receiving the Archbishop John J. Williams Medal. 

Following in the great footsteps of the late Jack Shaughnessy, Sr., and the Honorable Bill Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Dr. Philip Crotty is the third recipient of the Archbishop Williams medal, for his enormous contributions to the temporal life of Saint John's Seminary.  

For, if Latin is the language of the Church, Dr. Crotty has been the Seminary's faithful translator for almost a full decade.  His love and deep knowledge of the Church, of Rome and of Boston is born of a deep spirituality and love of life.

And he has served generations of seminarians purely out of that love, for he has never taken a salary, never uttered a complaint, and, indeed, donated generously multiple times on top of that.  

As much a part of Saint John's Seminary as the other saints who adorn the walls of this Chapel, I am privileged to congratulate our dear friend and brother, Dr. Philip Crotty.

Dr. Crotty's Remarks

Your Eminence and Fr. Chris O'Connor:

Thank you so much for your kind remarks, and of course for this wonderful honor  which I didn't at all expect  but which certainly delights me.

It seems most appropriate that this medal be named  for Archbishop John Joseph Williams, the 4th Bishop and first Archbishop of Boston. He seems often to be overlooked as mention is frequent of Cardinals O'Connell, Cushing, Medeiros , and Law. Yet Archbishop Williams was the Ordinary here for 41 years from 1866 to 1907.

Born of Irish immigrant parents he was baptized in the old Holy Cross Cathedral on Franklin Street  where he in the course of time became the Rector. He had a superb education in Montreal and Paris and ironically, given his background he became known as a cultivated Yankee. He was ordained in Paris in 1845 by the Archbishop of Paris who himself was murdered later  that year by French revolutionaries. 

The present Cathedral of the Holy Cross was finished under Archbishop Williams and this Seminary was  established under him in 1884 so it is particularly appropriate  for this award be given for contributions to  this Seminary.

Once again let me express my gratitude for this recognition  and award. It has been such a joy to serve here  and to be with you all. Thank you very much.

Craig and Nancy Gibson are receiving Saint John the Evangelist Medals.

If you look up generosity in the dictionary, you will find a picture of Craig and Nancy Gibson.  Their every waking moment, it seems, is spent in serving others.  Perhaps they got it from their parents, perhaps they learned it along the way.  But they have learned well that it is better to give than to receive and the last and the least will be the first in the Kingdom of God.  

Through Craig's work as Trustee and Development Committee Chair, we have seen the extraordinary success of the first ever Development Committee – and program – at Saint John's Seminary.  Through the wise council, unwavering support and generous contributions of Craig and Nancy, Saint John's is on the verge of an era of unprecedented growth and stability.  

I am, therefore, honored to congratulate the recipients of the third annual Saint John the Evangelist medals, Craig and Nancy Gibson. 

Craig ​Gibson's Remarks 

Your Eminence Cardinal O'Malley, Monsignor Moroney, Fr. Chris O'Connor, Bishop Edyvean, Mother Maureen, Sr. Rosemary, Sr. Rogers, fellow Trustees, assembled  clergy, distinguished faculty and staff, seminarians, family and friends;

It is such an honor for Nancy and me to be here together with all of you, especially with all of the seminarians, in this special, sacred and holy place, and, it is with deep humility that we are here to accept the Saint John the Evangelist Award.

On behalf of the Gibson family and the circle of friends here tonight; we offer our most heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Philip Crotty, for your extraordinary contributions to the life of Saint John's Seminary.

We are also blessed to have past award recipients with us including Loretta Gallagher, Jim & Pattie Brett, and the ever present spirit of Jack Shaughnessy.

Saint John's Seminary is in great shape. Currently we have 126 seminarians in total, coming to us from across the globe from 15 different dioceses, five institutes of religious life, and one ecclesial movement. Saint John's Seminary is one of the largest Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States.  

Over the past ten years, the seminary has increased enrollment by more than 200%, and has ordained nearly 40 men to the priesthood. This past fall, enrollment increased again, and Saint John's Seminary welcomed the largest class in recent seminary history!

Msgr. Moroney, with his tireless efforts to expand both the reach and the name of Saint John's Seminary, has contributed significantly, to this surge in enrollment, with Cardinal Sean's full dedication and very active involvement. 

Msgr. Moroney has also expanded the scope of institutional advancement at Saint John's with a strong hands-on approach to widening the circle of faith-filled and generous friends, like so many of you here with us today.  We are truly blessed by your remarkable generosity in support of the mission, a mission of preparing Roman Catholic seminarians for ordination to the priesthood through programs of human, pastoral, spiritual, and academic formation.

Msgr. Moroney's blog, about day to day happenings at Saint John's, is read by Catholics worldwide. It has put a friendly face on a previously little-known institution, and the blog has granted accessibility to many members of the extended Saint John's family as well as so many others, who are able to stop in for a quick "behind the scenes" look into seminary life.

We all miss Msgr. Moroney dearly this evening.  He was unexpectedly pulled away to Rome for a meeting of the Vox Clara Committee which is a group of senior Bishops from English speaking countries who provide advice to the Holy See concerning English-language liturgical books and to strengthen effective cooperation among Bishops.

Among his greatest accomplishments, Msgr. Moroney deserves uncommon credit for building a much stronger sense of family here at the Seminary.  He has worked overtime at building closer bonds among seminarians, faculty, staff, and the students in The Institute for the New Evangelization.  The fruit of his efforts is a much deeper sense of connectedness among the extended members of the growing seminary family.

Cardinal O'Malley, what a blessing for the seminary family to have Msgr. Moroney serving as Rector!

As Nancy and I have grown in the spirit over these past many years, we have learned many wonderful lessons. More than ever before, we know that we are called to be the light and salt of God's kingdom, out in the world.  We pray that, as hearers and doers of the Word, he might use us to radiate the beauty and grace of his mercy and goodness to all those around us.

On so many occasions, we have made a deeper commitment to serve others.  In doing so, we have been blessed with an abundance of God's grace in all things. At Saint Mary's, our pastor invited us to get involved in the life of the parish back in 1990, and our ministry work continues today, bearing much fruit. In 2002, the Little Sisters of the Poor in Somerville, MA, with promptings through the Holy Spirit, extended an invitation to become involved in hands on service to the elderly poor, and our ministry work on behalf of the elderly residents continues today with great joy.

In the summer of 2003, Damien DeVasto extended an invitation to attend the installation Mass for Cardinal O'Malley.  The Mass was extraordinary; Cardinal Sean touched our hearts in a special way. On the ride home, after recalling enjoyable parts of his homily, we felt the hand of God reach down, and prompt us, to get behind the "new guy" and to offer to help him in any needed, as he began his ministry as the new shepherd for the Church in Boston.

Another hand of God moment while reading a small ad in our parish bulletin in the fall of 2003.  The ad provided encouragement to consider taking classes at Saint John's Seminary.  After much discussion, classes started and our family has grown deeply in the spirit as a result. 

God inspired family and friends to encourage us take a closer look at membership in the Order of Malta.  The Order of Malta is a lay religious order and members are called into direct service for the sick and the poor; in addition the Order calls members to practice, witness, and defend the faith in their daily lives.  We jumped in with both feet and have grown in our spiritual life and in our life in ministry.

Kevin Bannan, a long-time friend introduced us to Bishop Arthur Kennedy. This introduction opened up a path of friendship between us and Bishop Kennedy. As the friendship grew, Bishop Kennedy invited us to get more involved in the life of the seminary, and in time, an invitation to get involved in governance at the seminary. 

With stirrings from the Holy Spirit, and encouragement from Steve Gust at Regina Cleri, we were recently drawn to get more involved in serving our retired priests in Boston.  We are now involved in serving lunch to our retired priests and regularly host them for lunch outside of Regina Cleri.

After the arrival of Msgr. Moroney in July 2012 as the new Rector at Saint John's, we once again felt the hand of God touch our hearts with a call to again, "help the new guy."  Msgr. Moroney has become a great friend and working together with him, in so many ways has brought forth much fruit for advancing the mission of Saint John's Seminary.

We have learned that when we commit ourselves to serving our heavenly Father, in a variety of ways, we grow in faith, joy, and love.

Like these outstanding seminarians, faith and love for God build commitment in living out our faith each and every day, so that the light of the Gospel might shine fully through the witness of our lives.

God's love and mercy enable us to commit ourselves to living as disciples of Jesus, and we ask God each day in our prayers, to grant us the grace and strength we need to live out this call, always in loving service for others, especially the sick, the poor, and the elderly.

In closing, with inspiration from Psalm 118, and mindful, as Cardinal O'Malley mentioned earlier, of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy let us all here today "GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD WHO IS GOOD, WHOSE STEADFAST LOVE AND BOUNDLESS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER!

God bless you and thank you! 

My virtual greeting from Rome before dinner:


And a few more photos from the evening:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lent and the Parish Priest

This is a video of my February 2016 Rector's Conference.

And here are the Prayers of Preparation for Mass which I mention in the course of the video.

Prayer of Saint Ambrose

I draw near, loving Lord Jesus Christ,
to the table of your most delightful banquet
in fear and trembling,
a sinner, presuming not upon my own merits,
but trusting rather in your goodness and mercy.
I have a heart and body defiled by my many offenses,
a mind and tongue
over which I have kept no good watch.
Therefore, O loving God, O awesome Majesty,
I turn in my misery, caught in snares,
to you the fountain of mercy,
hastening to you for healing,
flying to you for protection;
and while I do not look forward to having you as Judge, I long to have you as Savior.
To you, O Lord, I display my wounds,
to you I uncover my shame.
I am aware of my many and great sins,
for which I fear,
but I hope in your mercies,
which are without number.
Look upon me, then, with eyes of mercy,
Lord Jesus Christ, eternal King,
God and Man, crucified for mankind.
Listen to me, as I place my hope in you,
have pity on me, full of miseries and sins,
you, who will never cease
to let the fountain of compassion flow.
Hail, O Saving Victim,
offered for me and for the whole human race
on the wood of the Cross.
Hail, O noble and precious Blood,
flowing from the wounds
of Jesus Christ, my crucified Lord,
and washing away the sins of all the world.
Remember, Lord, your creature,
whom you redeemed by your Blood.
I am repentant of my sins,
I desire to put right what I have done.
Take from me, therefore, most merciful Father,
all my iniquities and sins,
so that, purified in mind and body,
I may worthily taste the Holy of Holies.
And grant that this sacred foretaste
of your Body and Blood
which I, though unworthy, intend to receive, 
may be the remission of my sins,
the perfect cleansing of my faults,
the banishment of shameful thoughts,
and the rebirth of right sentiments;
and may it encourage
a wholesome and effective performance
of deeds pleasing to you
and be a most firm defense of body and soul 
against the snares of my enemies.

Prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Almighty eternal God,
behold, I come to the Sacrament
of your Only Begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
as one sick to the physician of life,
as one unclean to the fountain of mercy,
as one blind to the light of eternal brightness,
as one poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
I ask, therefore, for the abundance of your immense generosity,
that you may graciously cure my sickness,
wash away my defilement,
give light to my blindness,
enrich my poverty,
clothe my nakedness,
so that I may receive the bread of Angels,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
with such reverence and humility,
such contrition and devotion,
such purity and faith,
such purpose and intention
as are conducive to the salvation of my soul.
Grant, I pray, that I may receive
not only the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood,
but also the reality and power of that Sacrament.
O most gentle God,
grant that I may so receive
the Body of your Only Begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ,
which he took from the Virgin Mary,
that I may be made worthy to be incorporated into his Mystical Body and to be counted among its members.
O most loving Father,
grant that I may at last gaze for ever
upon the unveiled face of your beloved Son,
whom I, a wayfarer,
propose to receive now veiled under these species:
Who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A House for His Glory

A Homily for Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time.

When encountering the numinous, Rudolph Otto once wrote, the only thing we can do is bow, bow very low and fall to the earth in worship and awe.  

Thus they sought God’s glory, erecting a Shekinah, a tabernacle, a smoke-filled tent where the gold-plated Ark of God’s presence was enthroned beneath cherubim wings.  

But that wasn’t enough for David or Solomon who built a temple of stone and cedar and gold, whose consecration we attended in the first reading today. They brought sheep too many to count, they brought sacred vessels of the finest gold and, finally, the Ark from the first temple and the tent.  They enthroned it and burnt incense until the cloud [once again] filled the temple of the LORD” so that in the Priest ever and encounter God’s glory.

And then, in the fulness of time, came the Sacrifice of Calvary, the source and summit of our salvation, where at the moment of the death which would destroy all death, the curtain across the Holy of Holies was rent in two, from top to bottom, and God became Emmanuel, dwelling not in a house of marble and gold, but in his Risen Body.

So where do we, the sons of Abraham and David, now find God’s glory?

Saint Leo the Great teaches us that the glory which was “visible [in the Risen Body] of our Savior has passed over into the sacraments” of his mystical body, the Church.  Thus in this earthy liturgy, what we do with bread and wine and candles and cross and words and chants this morning, is a share in “that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims,”

Here, we encounter the numinous, the glory of the unseen God.  Here we partake of the Perfect Sacrifice which is our life and our hope, bowing very low, in worship and in awe.