Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day at Evergreen Cemetery

God of power and mercy, keep in your mercy those men and women who have died in the cause of freedom and bring them safely into your kingdom of justice and peace.

Despite the rain, it was such an honor to lead the large crowd of our fellow citizens of Brighton in prayers for our beloved dead this Memorial Day at Evergreen Cemetery.  After the prayers, we all shared coffee and donuts and remised with old friends.  My thanks to Ann Larosse and her family and friends for all the typically wonderful work on this event!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Rome Experience in Ars

Among the twenty-two seminarians on this year's Rome Experience are our own Robert Little (Burlington), Matt Gill (Fall River) and Thom Willis (Worcester).  Here's the first photo of the entire group, which begins their pilgrimage in Ars, praying in the footsteps of Saint John Vianney!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

You just can't escape!

Seminarians Robert Little (Burlington), Tom Willis (Worcester), and Matt Gill (Fall River) run into a familiar name at O'Hare International Airport on their way to Lyon, France...

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Echoes of Yesterday and Tomorrow

Pope Benedict with the Vox Clara Committee
As a personal/professional aside, you might find John Allen's article on the "Liturgy wars" in Crux to be interesting.  The reference is a bit self-indulgent, since I am quoted in the article, but it does bring to mind what I believe to be one of the most important pastoral initiatives of our time.  Perhaps, this would not be a bad time to return to the opening paragraphs of the instruction Liturgiam authenticam, the instruction upon which the translation was based.

1. The Second Vatican Council strongly desired to preserve with care the authentic Liturgy, which flows forth from the Church’s living and most ancient spiritual tradition, and to adapt it with pastoral wisdom to the genius of the various peoples so that the faithful might find in their full, conscious, and active participation in the sacred actions – especially the celebration of the Sacraments – an abundant source of graces and a means for their own continual formation in the Christian mystery.
2. Thereupon there began, under the care of the Supreme Pontiffs, the great work of renewal of the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, a work which included their translation into vernacular languages, with the purpose of bringing about in the most diligent way that renewal of the sacred Liturgy which was one of the foremost intentions of the Council. 
3. The liturgical renewal thus far has seen positive results, achieved through the labor and the skill of many, but in particular of the Bishops, to whose care and zeal this great and difficult charge is entrusted. Even so, the greatest prudence and attention is required in the preparation of liturgical books marked by sound doctrine, which are exact in wording, free from all ideological influence, and otherwise endowed with those qualities by which the sacred mysteries of salvation and the indefectible faith of the Church are efficaciously transmitted by means of human language to prayer, and worthy worship is offered to God the Most High. 
4. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in its deliberations and decrees assigned a singular importance to the liturgical rites, the ecclesiastical traditions, and the discipline of Christian life proper to those particular Churches, especially of the East, which are distinguished by their venerable antiquity, manifesting in various ways the tradition received through the Fathers from the Apostles. The Council asked that the traditions of each of these particular Churches be preserved whole and intact. For this reason, even while calling for the revision of the various Rites in accordance with sound tradition, the Council set forth the principle that only those changes were to be introduced which would foster their specific organic development. Clearly, the same vigilance is required for the safeguarding and the authentic development of the liturgical rites, the ecclesiastical traditions, and the discipline of the Latin Church, and in particular, of the Roman Rite. The same care must be brought also to the translation of the liturgical texts into vernacular languages. This is especially true as regards the Roman Missal, which will thus continue to be maintained as an outstanding sign and instrument of the integrity and unity of the Roman Rite. 
5. Indeed, it may be affirmed that the Roman Rite is itself a precious example and an instrument of true inculturation. For the Roman Rite is marked by a signal capacity for assimilating into itself spoken and sung texts, gestures and rites derived from the customs and the genius of diverse nations and particular Churches – both Eastern and Western – into a harmonious unity that transcends the boundaries of any single region. This characteristic is particularly evident in its orations, which exhibit a capacity to transcend the limits of their original situation so as to become the prayers of Christians in any time or place. In preparing all translations of the liturgical books, the greatest care is to be taken to maintain the identity and unitary expression of the Roman Rite, not as a sort of historical monument, but rather as a manifestation of the theological realities of ecclesial communion and unity. The work of inculturation, of which the translation into vernacular languages is a part, is not therefore to be considered an avenue for the creation of new varieties or families of rites; on the contrary, it should be recognized that any adaptations introduced out of cultural or pastoral necessity thereby become part of the Roman Rite, and are to be inserted into it in a harmonious way.

Boston Ordinations to Priesthood

On Saturday morning we celebrated the first of the ordinations to priesthood of our fourth year men.  Fathers Christopher W. Bae, Matthew J. Conley, Patrick J. Fiorillo, J. Thomas Gignac, Stephen R. LeBlanc, Huan D. Ngo, Thomas M. Olson, Kevin Staley-Joyce, and Thomas R. Sullivan were welcomed as members of the presbyterate of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Still to come are ordinations in Burlington, and in the near future, Hung Hoa, Vietnam.  Our prayer for all and each of them is best expressed by the Rite of ordination of Priests itself:

May God, who founded the Church and guides her still,
protect you with his unfailing grace.
that you may faithfully discharge the office of priest. Amen.

May God make you servants and witnesses
   of divine love and truth in the world
and faithful ministers of reconciliation. Amen.

May God make you true pastors
who nourish the faithful with living bread and the word of life

that they may continue to grow into the one body of Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Commencement Exercises for the Theological Institute

Yesterday afternoon we celebrated the fifteenth Commencement of the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization.  A packed chapel congratulated all those who received a Masters in Ministry or a Masters in Theological Studies degree!  Our grateful prayers and good wishes go with our latest alumna and alumni and our deepest thanks to Father O'Connor, Dr. Aldonna Lingertat, Dr. Steven Fahrig and the entire faculty and staff of the Theological Institute.

Three Kinds of Priests

I was privileged today to celebrate Mass with the Serrans of Northern Worcester County.  Here is the Homily I preached on three kinds of priests.

How appropriate that the Church today places before us two countersigns for what a priest is supposed to be—examples of the bad priest. I hope you have never met them, but I suspect that you probably have. 

The first is from the Epistle of Saint James the Apostle.  He speaks of the boastful apostle who plans a career for himself…going into a town not to preach the Gospel, but “to make a profit.”  Saint James calls him “a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears,” a man “boasting in [his] arrogance,” who does not know what the right thing is anymore.

Priests who have given into such careerism have been condemned by Pope Francis on numerous occasions.  He says of them, “They are victims of careerism and opportunism; they honor persons and not God (cf. Mt 23:8-12). They serve thinking only of what they can get and not of what they should give. Small-minded persons, unhappy and inspired only by their own lethal selfishness (cf. Gal 5:16-25).” (1)

The second countersign is the jealous Apostle, who seeing a rival disciple successfully driving out demons in the Lord’s name is jealous of him.  Why?  Because he is “not of our company,” one of them!  Such jealousy is born of a deep insecurity and a need by the priest to build himself up at the expense of others.  

Pope Francis describes jealous priests as those who “flay each other alive” with gossip and resentment.  He goes on: “I want to tell you that this is so common, so very common. I too have fallen into this. I have often done it, often! And I am ashamed of myself!” (2)

Why is this such a scandal?  Because the priest, is called to be like Christ, who from the Altar of the cross pours out every drop of blood and gives every breath unto death for us.  He gives all in a perfect sacrifice of kenotic love.

The is why we prayed the antiphon in today’s Responsorial Psalm: Blessed are the poor in spirit.  In that antiphon, the Church provides a model of who the Priest is supposed to be.  Motivated neither by self-interest or self-aggrandizement, he is to seek the last place, wash feet and lay down his life in the model of his Lord and Savior.

That is the kind of priest you need in your parish and the kind of priest any Seminary worth its salt is trying to produce.


1 - Pope Francis to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2014.

2 - Pope Francis to Seminarians and Novices, 6 July 2013.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Deacon Glen Dmytryszyn Ordained

Archbishop Leonard Blair, Archbishop of Hartford, ordained Glen Dmytryszyn as a Deacon this morning at Immaculate Conception Basilica in Waterbury Connecticut.  Congratulations Deacon Dmytryszyn!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Closing Mass for the End of the Seminary Year

Last week, on the Feast of Saint Athanasius, I spoke of the great Shrine at the Altar of the Chair in Saint Peter’s Basilica.  It was built by Bernini at the behest of Pope Alexander VII to act as a sort of reliquary for the ancient Cathedra on which it was believed Saint Peter and each Pope for the first nine centuries sat.  

Bernini placed the chair at the center of floating angels and clouds, as if it were descending from heaven.  And on the back of the chair is a relief depicting Christ’s three words to Peter from today’s Gospel: Pasce oves meas….Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17)

And that is just what you are about to do.  In your pastoral assignments this summer you will feed them.  In response to Peter’s threefold confession of love for Jesus, the Lord gives you three different commands: feed my lambs, pasture my sheep, feed my sheep.  All in the present tense!

So, is your love for the Lord so evident that with Saint Peter you could say, “Lord, you know that I love you!”?

Then feed his lambs this summer.  Feed the littlest and most vulnerable, the marginalized and the forgotten.  Feed them with his word, for, as the Good Shepherd tells us, “I know my sheep and they know me.”  So when you speak in his voice, they will recognize him and run to you.

Feed them as Saint Peter reflects in his first epistle, feed them with  “the pure spiritual milk” of his Word so that by it, they can mature in their salvation. (1 Peter 2:2)  For, as Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 8:3) reminds us and as Jesus abjures the devil, (Matthew 4:4) we live not by bread  alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God. 

So seek out the little poor ones and remind them that Jesus says they are blessed and that, in the end, they will inherit the earth.  Tell them the stories of when he knelt down and washed dirty feet, and then do the same for them.  Explain how he used to seek after the last place and how he told us to give away our shirt as well as our coat and then do likewise for them.  Feed the lambs with his consoling word.

There's a fourteen year old kid you'll meet this summer behind whose eyes is an aching void, hungering for meaning and purpose and truth amidst the chaos and contradiction which is his so-called life.  For he's never really heard Jesus' voice until you will speak it, never knew Christ’s gentleness, humility and trust until you will live it for him. Jesus has set that kid up so that you can meet him and through you he meets the Lord who will change his life.  Feed my lambs.


And pasture his sheep.  The big ones, the fat ones, the ones all grown up and full of themselves.  Shepherd them all, the forgetful and the slothful, the lost and the stubborn.  Shepherd them, like the dear old woman I buried a number of years ago, who shepherded her kids in life and in death and even after her death.

You see, her son Michael no longer went to Church or prayed.  He was lost. Oh his kids were baptized and they were married in the Church, but it had been a long time since he took any of this Churchy stuff seriously.

And then his mother died…and knowing his story, I was really surprised when he went to Communion, and went back and buried his head in his hands. 

I went to Michael afterward and asked what happened.  He told me that before they went to the wake they were going through his mom’s stuff.  And he happened to pick up her old prayer book---the one he saw her take to Church every day since he was a little kid.  And near the front of the book he found an old worn out holy card of a guardian angel helping a little kid over a dangerous bridge.  And on the back of the card, in his mother’s unique scrawl, he read “MICHAEL, MY DARLING BABY BOY…June 27, 1948”  Each day, for all those years, she had prayed for him…after every Communion, at every morning offering, and in every prayer at night…she had never forgotten to pray.”

“You know,” Monsignor, “he wept before his mother’s grave, “I’m not going to forget any more…I’m going to go back to Church and pray for mom and for my wife and for my kids and for all the poor and the suffering people in the world.  I’ll never forget again what it’s all about!”

And since that day, I have prayed that God make me half the shepherd which that old lady with the worn-out holy card in her prayer book was.


So, after Eschatological Bocci, get outa here!  They’re waiting for you.  Go feed them. Feed the cuddly little innocent lambs and big fat smelly sheep…feed them with the Gospel of Truth, the Bread of Life and the sacraments which flow from this altar.  

Go feed his lambs and shepherd his sheep!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Beginning the Week with Song...

The last week of the Seminary year began with a beautiful concert of Hebrew Sacred Music, thanks to our own Dr. Janet Hunt and the folks at Hebrew College.  Here's a picture of the evening.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Fifth Annual Pre-Theo Awards


Fiftieth Anniversary of Nostra Aetate

Just a couple evenings ago we joined with Redemptoris Mater Seminary to hear a presentation on the impact of two documents on Jewish-Christian relations: Nostra Aetate and Dabru Emet.

Presentations were heard by Father Dennis McManus and Rabbi Or Rose.  Father McManus, in addition to his work at Saint John’s Seminary, is a Faculty member of the Program for Jewish Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at georgetown University, where he offers courses in the history of Christian-Jewish conflict, autobiography in the Holocaust, and the theory and practice of inter-religious dialogue.  He is also Consultant for Jewish Affairs to the United States Conference of catholic bishops and a priest of the Archdiocese of Mobile in Alabama.

Rabbi Or Rose is the founding Director of the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College and co-director of the Center for Inter-religious and Community Leadership Education, a joint venture of Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School. 

Rabbi Rose is also one of the co-editors of  the book My Neighbor's Faith: Stories of Inter-religious Encounter, Growth and Transformation, from whose introduction comes the following passage: 
We live in the most religiously diverse nation in the history of humankind.  Every day, across the country, people of different religious beliefs and practices encounter one another in supermarkets, hospitals, schools, chat rooms and family gatherings.  How has this new situation of religious diversity affected the way we understand the religious “other,” ourselves or ultimate reality?  Will it lead us to overcome the long history of religious intolerance, bigotry and violence that has plagued humanity for centuries?  Can we learn to live together with mutual respect, acknowledging commonalities and differences, working together to create a more just and compassionate world?

Three TV Ads for the Boston Pentecost Collection

Monday, May 2, 2016

Some Thoughts on Saint Athanasius

A little over four hundred years ago, Gian Lorenzo Bernini was given a commission by Pope Alexander VII to build a life-size reliquary for the Cathedra on which Saint Peter and each Pope for the first nine centuries sat.  While the origin of the chair is today in doubt, the shrine has stood as a glorious testament to the Petrine office of assuring unity in the Church.  

The chair, like that ministry, is supported by four Church Fathers: Augistine, Ambrose, Chrysosthom and the “Pillar of the Church” we commemorate today, Saint Athanasius.  He is responsible for introducing the concept of homoousious, or consubstantiality to the Creed and was a great champion on the faith.

But I have just one story to tell you from when Athanasius was still a small boy, playing outside Bishop Alexander’s house by the shore.  It seems, like many good Catholic boys, Athanasius liked to play Mass indoors, and when by the ocean he and his companions would play baptism with the neighborhood children.  The Bishop was concerned, however, that the Baptisms might be valid and called them all inside, reminding them that it is wrong to Baptize without a proper catehumenate, and so they had all best study their catechisms so they could grow up to do the real thing some day.

Which little Athanasius did, indeed coming to understand the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity even better than anyone else before him.  

Which is why we study too.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Boston Ordination to Transitional Diaconate

Cardinal Sean O. O'Malley, OFM, Cap., Archbishop of Boston, ordained six men to the Diaconate on Saturday at Holy Cross Cathedral.  Congratulations to all these men, especially the four new Deacons from Saint John's Seminary: Deacon Jason Rinaldo Giombetti, Deacon Godfrey Musabe, Deacon Joel Americo Santos and Deacon William Paro Sexton.

To watch a video of the Ordination, click here to go to CatholicTV.