Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy 150th to the Church in Rochester!

Father O'Connor and I were honored to concelebrate the 150th anniversary Mass for the Diocese of Rochester at the kind invitation of one of Saint John's most generous friends, Bishop Salvatore Matano.  Our Rochester seminarians served the Mass, which was celebrated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.  It was a wonderful celebration by a wonderful Diocese!  Here's a picture as Bishop emeritus Clark and Bishop Matano reverence the Altar at the beginning of the Solemn Mass.

Boston in Rome

Just received the following picture from Mass this morning in Saint Peter's Basilica from Father Dan Hennessey, Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Boston.  From left to right: 

Left to Right: Seminarian Chris Boyle, Father Bob Blaney, Father Dan Hennessey Archbishop PatrĂ³n Wong, Secretary for the Congregation for Clergy, Father Michael Zimmerman, Father Kevin Leaver and Seminarian Denis Nakkeeran.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Birthday Dinner with the Gillis Family!

Just last week Father O'Connor and I had a wonderful evening at Rino's in East Boston with the Gillis Family, generous benefactors to the Saint John's Golf Tournament.  Michael had gathered three generations of the Gillis family for a great celebration of his wife Julie's birthday!  You can tell by the expressions on our faces that a great time was had by all!

The New Deacon House Chapel Mural Has Arrived

Last night a number of deacons and other seminarians joined Renate and Victoria, the wonderful artists of Rohn Design who have spent the past two months painting a nineteen foot mural for the new Deacon House Chapel.  Here are some shots from the first few hours as the mural began to take its rightful place behind the altar.  I will post a detailed description of the iconography and sources of inspiration for this mural in the coming days.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Deacon House Naming Update: 1/3 Reserved!

It is with great pleasure that I update you today to tell you that 33% of Deacon House has already been named!
Don't miss out on this opportunity to memorialize a loved one, cement your family's legacy,
and receive daily prayers from the future priests who live there.

For more details on our naming opportunities and Deacon House, you can click the photo below, or
download our Deacon House brochure. Thank you for your incredible support of your future priests!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Seminarians and the Widow of Nain

Jesus teaches us this morning how to be a good priest as he encounters the widow of Nain.

Three moments.  First, he meets her.  Big crowd, everybody weeping and wailing, and somehow he knows she is a widow burying her only son.  And the Lord’s heart  is moved with pity.

Why was his heart moved?  Did he know the lady?  Probably not.  Then why care about a stranger?  Who was she to him?  She was his sister….the least of his sisters, and for any and each of his sisters and brothers his Sacred Heart bled.

So the first thing he did was spontaneously love, not as an intellectual exercise or a moral obligation, but as an act of love which broke his heart.

The second moment is his encounter with the poor widow, beginning with a simple word of compassion: “Do not weep.”  It's the shortest homily ever preached.  No need for weeping here, for God’s mercy is about to transform your world of pain and passion into a glorious foreshadowing of the glories of the resurrection!

And then he does it, in the same way he command each one of us when we lie in the grave at the end of time, he touches the coffin and says to the dead boy: “get up!”

And the merciful love of Jesus raises the dead and restores what was lost to the grieving mother.

And you will do the same thing.  You will encounter brothers in pain for whom your heart will ache.  You will speak a word of truth to them.  And through the sacraments you will celebrate, God will raise them up and restore them.  When you break the bread, which is his body.  When you smear the anointing that heals.  When say words that absolve.  God will raise them up at your word and the widows heart will be healed.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Homily on Praying for Government

Two-hundred and thirty six years ago, the first Bishop of these United States decreed that a prayer be prayed in every parish in response to Saint Paul’s admonition to the young Bishop Timothy that ‘prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for all in authority.’

Bishop James Carrol thus provides an example for me which don’t imitate nearly enough. Oh I watch the news and read the Washington post religiously (a habit born of all those years living inside the beltway). But when is the last time I knelt down and prayed for President Trump rather than second-guessing him? When is the last time I begged God to be good to Governor Baker or Secretary Galvin? When did I offer a rosary for Senators Markey or Warren? To be honest, I never have.

But I will today. At least for today. At least for today I will seek to bless more than bluster, commend more than I criticize. And beg God to guide these public servants in obedience to the Apostle’s command.

We pray to you O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is
rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude President Donald Trump, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to your people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.  
Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.
We pray for Governor Baker, and for the
members of the Great and General Court…that they may be enabled, by your powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Rector's Conference on Joy

My September Rector's Conference was on the importance of joy.  As Pope Francis tells us in his Encyclical letter Evangelium Gaudium, "with Christ, joy is ever born anew!"  Here is a video of the Keynote presentation.
Rector's Conference on Joy from James P Moroney on Vimeo.

Family Day!


 Today was Family Day at Saint John's Seminary and families and friends came from all around for Mass and Lunch and some time with our seminarians.  Here's the homily I preached, followed by some photos of a great morning with those whom we love!

Welcome. Moms and dads, brothers, sisters and friends of this holy house.

This is always such a special day as each year we welcome our families and friends to Saint John’s Seminary. You are so special to us because you have known and nonetheless loved us with an unconditional love from the day we were conceived in our mother’s womb.

You were there when at three years old we enacted those lines from Sirach: “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.”

Picture the three year old, filled to overflowing with rage. Hugging himself tightly as he simultaneously holds his breath, stamps his feet and practices the look that could kill. Whirling about in a distrophic fury, ready to strike out at anyone who would dare defy his infallible will, this Demi-God is all anger and hate and overflowing wrath.

But somehow, because of some of you, he learned the hard lesson that if he beats his sister about the head with his whiffle bat, returning to Sirach, “The vengeful will suffer the LORD's vengeance,” replete with a time out or similar horrors.

It's the first lesson we learn about loving like God, and many of you taught it, patiently, again and again. That, at the very least, we shouldn’t hurt each other lest we face “the loss of heaven and the pains of hell.”

And then there was a deeper learning about love, called mercy. Here I think of the teenager drowning in a sea of newfound emotions, temptations and unfulfilled possibilities. And you won't let him have the car because of that one little scratch which you wouldn't have even known about if he wasn't honest enough to tell you about it. “It's not fair,” he laments. “You’ve never loved me as much as my sister anyway and all you do is try to make my life miserable. I hate you.”

And he slams the door and your heart aches and you pray for the strength not to scream back at this ungrateful little wretch who used to be your cute little son. ‘Cause you suspect that another miracle is about to happen, and it does, as God embraces his adolescent pain and breathes upon the chaos until the beautiful human child you so love begins to fight his way out of the morass of his own emotions and comes to you with that quivering smile and the innocent glint in his eyes and says, “Hey, I’m Sorry. I know you love me and I love you, but sometimes…” and he catches himself and says it again: “I'm sorry.”

And at that moment, in your house with the scratched car in the garage, Christ is once again acting out his Gospel, for you and for this child struggling to grow into full manhood in Christ. Forgive. As I have forgiven you. Not seven times, but seventy times seven times: a new commandment of the Lord.

But God, our loving shepherd, doesn't stop there, but continues to form us in the image of his Son.

In the young man who gives up career, prosperity, fame and a family…leaves it all behind…to follow the one who has no place to rest his head.

The young man who can barely keep his eyes open in that class, the first of six more years of going to classes….

The young man whose first pastoral assignment is in a prison, talking to really scary people while he plays back in his head every scene from the Shawshank Redemption.

The young man who must face for the first time what he needs to change about himself in order to look more like Christ, his innards quivering and his eyes filled all too frequently with tears.

The young man whose very marrow rebels against all those rules and that punishing horarium (he sometimes uses a more colorful adverb than punishing) which never seems to let him catch his breath.
The young man who is so often taunted by what he has left behind and the fearsome challenges of what's to come.

That man sits here…from the early morning darkness to the gloaming of the light, sits in silence, sings a psalm, and listens for the still silent voice of Christ, digesting his sacramental presence and then listens again, to the God who says it's not enough just not to hurt people. It's not enough just to say you're sorry. It's not enough until you give like he gave, bled like he bled, giving all…Living not for myself, but for the Lord, unto death, just like he did, upon a cross.

For this is the great message, the great secret God has been trying to teach each pone of us since we were little kids: None of us lives for oneself, and none of us dies for oneself; whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.

Blessed Stanley Rother, priest and martyr

Next Saturday, September 23rd, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will celebrate the Beatification of the first martyr born in the United States of America: the Servant of God Father Stanley Rother. Father Rother was a priest of Oklahoma City who was martyred for the faith in Guatamala in 1981. Here’s a moving documentary on his life and heroic death.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Shepherds Hearts and Deacon House

This was my homily at Deacon House this morning.

I often refer (ad nauseum, some might suggest) to that great big castle on Lake Street as our holy house.  And it is.  Sanctified by the prayers and the sacrifices and the lives of the extraordinary men whom God has raised up to be his Priests for more than a century.  And even today, he is working miracles in their hearts, purifying and transforming them into vessels through which he has quenched the thirst for holiness of untold tens of thousands.

And so too, this too is  a holy house where for 104 years priests with the names like Lenahan and Murphy and Fitzgerald, and even, known to many of you, a young Father John MacInnis in his first assignment, lived and prayed and worked to shepherd God’s people on Oak Square under the patronage of Our Lady of the Presentation.  

Perhaps late at night you can still hear their fervent prayers or the sound of hearts straining to do God’s will and to love the people whom he had sent them.

And now your shepherd’s hearts are joined to theirs.  Trying  to prepare serve a people who will call you Father.  Whose children you will baptize, whose parents you will bury, whose tears you will dry, whose sick you will anoint. You will feed them with the bread of angels, and preach the good news to their hearts that they might rejoice that God has loved them and worship the one true God in holiness and truth.

And this is the holy house in which you will prepare to meet them. This place where, with the Lord, you will spend the night in prayer. This is the house where he gathers his disciples before he sends them out into the world. This is the place where he teaches you how to preach and to heal, to cast out and to loose.

And it is from this holy house that power will come forth to renew the face of the earth.

Suffering with Christ and 9/11

This is the text of my homily to the Seminary community on September 11th.

Sixteen years ago this morning I was sitting in my office at the Bishop’s Conference when Sr. Clelia came in with Gus (now Archbishop) Dinoia.  You see, I had a T.V. hidden in the closet and they, soon joined by a dozen other USCCB staffers, wanted to see whether a small plane had really flown into one of the towers.  And then Clelia saw the American Airlines plane flying low and disappearing behind the trees over near the Pentagon and then…. And then began days of great suffering of uncertainty and naked fear.  

God used that suffering in those days to bring us all a lot closer to him, just as he used the Cross to redeem me.  I went to confession a lot more frequently, I missed the Office of Readings a lot less frequently and I was so much more fervent in my prayers for everyone I loved.  And people started going back to Church in significant numbers.  Sure, it didn’t last forever for everybody, but it did make a huge difference for some.

For they and we and I knew we could have very easily died on 9/11.  And blind fear of death has a way of focusing the mind on the things that really matter.

God is not the author of suffering.  He did not cause the people in the towers to die that day; evil came into this world through the selfishness of men like me, not a God who is love.  But God writes straight even with crooked lines, and uses even suffering to his glory and our good.

That’s why Saint Paul rejoices in his sufferings for the Colossians, because he knows that his little sacrifices are somehow a participation in the one perfect sacrifice offered on the altar of the Cross, and that through all those little sacrifices God will lead the Colossians to God.

So, too, your sacrifices today, your very real sufferings in casting away everything that keeps you from reaching full manhood in Christ, in staying awake during that awful class, in putting up with your brother, in fighting that temptation and in just being a seminarian…those sufferings are a participation in the perfect sacrifice offered on the altar of the Cross, and through them God will lead people yet unborn, people whose names and faces you do not yet know, to know him and love him and serve him in this life to be happy with him in the next.