Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day...

This is the homily I preached at Evergreen Cemetery here in Brighton this morning, where we all prayed for those who have gone before us...for refreshment, light and peace...

This is Memorial Day….a day to remember…

To remember his life-giving cross and the hope of the Resurrection;

To remember all who have died, and especially those we have loved us;

To remember the men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion to a country founded on the God-given liberty of its citizens:

The Brighton farmer who once picked up his musket to defend his family and consecrate the ground of a new nation with his blood;

The young son of Brighton who died in a battlefield far from home that his nation might be safe from fascist tyrannies across two great oceans;

The young people of our community who still lay down their lives at our service across the globe.

We remember them, and we beg God to reward their for their heroism, their self-sacrifice and their love of us and our country and all for which it stands.

Just as we beg God to lead gently home to himself all who have died, and especially those buried in this place and especially those whose memory still aches  in our hearts.

Forgive their sins, O Lord, and lead them home to a place of eternal refreshment, light and peace. And help us never to forget: the love, the sacrifice and lives who have touched us, who give us courage and who have made us who we are.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Diaconate Ordinations in Rochester

Congratulations to Deacon Dan White and Deacon Matt Walter, who were ordained as Deacons this morning by Bishop Salvatore Matano, the Bishop of Rochester.  Father Jim Conn, SJ and I were joined by a great SJS delegation!

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Sepulchre and the Spirit

The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre gathered for Mass and a Morning of Recollection at the Seminary yesterday, reflecting on the Holy Spirit and the Order's work in the Holy Land. Here's my homily and my reflections on "The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre and a New Pentecost."

The doors were locked. They were petrified that someone would crucify them too.

When on the evening of that first day of the week, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you.” And he breathed on them with the Holy Spirit. The Breath of God brought Peace.

Nine hundred and ninety-six years ago, the thirty-seven year old father of a well-established reform of religious life and of the Church as a whole, walked to Damietta, Egypt to see the Sultan of that land at the very moment that the great King was engaged in mortal combat with the Fifth Christian Crusade.

Now it probably took about a year to walk from Assisi to Damietta and Saint Francis and his companions would have had to pass through modern day Syria along the way, perhaps traversing the very soil over which men fight today.

Arriving in Egypt, he witnessed a ferocity of war no less evident than in our own time, as the Sultan of Egypt, Malik-al-Kamil, the nephew of Saladin the Great had decreed that anyone who brought him the detached head of a Christian should be rewarded with a single golden coin.

St. Bonaventure, in his Major Life of St. Francis, tells us how the Saint and his companion just walked right into the enemy camp, where they were predictably placed in chains, beaten and dragged before the Sultan.

And then it began. Like Pilate before the Lord, the great Sultan had no idea who was before him.

Who sent you? the Sultan asked.

God. Francis replied.

And why did he send you?

To save you and to teach you the truth, he answered.

“When the Sultan saw his enthusiasm and courage,” Bonaventure tells us, “he listened to him willingly and pressed him to stay with him.”

Here you have this medieval Goliath of a Sultan with an army so powerful he and his brother had conquered the whole Middle East, but he was conquered by the simplicity of the poverello, saying pace e bene...God sent me to save your soul.

It was an unfair imbalance for a diplomatic negotiation. The Sultan probably saw Francis as a delegate of Cardinal Pelagius and his troops who would seek to negotiate a cease fire or even the return of the Holy sites or the surrender of Egypt.
But Francis did not arrive as a diplomat seeking an audience with the Great Ayyubid Sultan Malik al-Kamel Naser al-Din Abu al-Ma'ali Muhammed seeking political advantage. No. Francis arrived as a man who so loved Malik that he sought to obtain his soul for God.

In other words, Francis saw Peace not as the prize at the conclusion of an effective political negotiation, but as the opportunity to love the one who had been cast as his enemy, to humanize him and recognize him as his brother.

Which is why his example is so good for me. I am no diplomat. My entire knowledge of international diplomacy comes from observing Jed Bartlett and Leo Magarry in the Situation room of the West Wing. I, frankly, have no idea how to solve the geopolitical intricacies of the war in Syria.

I am not a diplomat. I am a Priest. But as a Priest I know the road to true peace is to love and to pray.

Mother Teresa used to say: “Smile five times a day at someone you don't really want to smile at; do it for peace. Let us radiate the peace of God and so light His light and extinguish in the world and in the hearts of all men all hatred and love for power.”

Or, as Dorothy Day used to say, “My prayer from day to day is that God will so enlarge my heart that I will see you all, and love with you all, in God’s love.”

So pray for peace. Even when you are afraid. Even when you are angry. Pray for peace. And listen for that knock on all the doors you have locked. It is the Lord, who breathes his Spirit upon you and gives you the peace the world cannot give.


The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre 
and a New Pentecost

What is the purpose of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. We support the Church in the Holy Land by our contributions. And that’s a lot! We make possible more than forty Catholic Schools in the Holy Land, five in Israel, thirteen in the Palestinian Territories and twenty-two in Jordan. More than 20,000 students attend these schools, most in Christian parishes, where we support local Catholic pastors and where our schools are a major source of priestly and religious vocations. That’s a lot of good.

But is it our most important work?
We, the sons and daughters of Godfrey di Bouillion and the many saints and martyrs of the crusades. Crusades that lasted for at least a hundred years. A hundred years of wars, some heroic and some not-so-much. But wars nonetheless.

The struggle for command of the meaning of the Crusades is a topic as fascinating for what it says about historians as it does about history. And this speaker is neither so ambitious nor naïve as to think he could untie that knot in this brief presentation.

Nevertheless, allow me to be so bold as to venture an undeniable observation about those Crusades in whose shadows we find the origins of our holy order. While there were Saints, martyrs, holy courage, purity and sacrifice galore…. as in any war there was chaos aplenty as well. And while contemporaneous accounts abound with exaggeration, there was clearly enough atrocity to go around throughout the hundred years of the Crusades. With all sides of the crusades, the brutality and chaos of war was certainly in evidence, as at Antioch, where Christian soldiers slaughtered two hundred muslim civilians, displaying their heads on spikes along the wall of their fortification in order to taunt the Muslim invaders. At which the attacking soldiers catapulting an equal number of Christians and used their heads as canon fodder, catapulting them over the parapets in a grotesque crossfire.

Pope Saint John Paul II understood the chaos of war, even the Crusades, when he wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople of “especially painful memories…which have left deep wounds in the minds and hearts of people to this day.” Those memories included what he called “the disastrous sack of the imperial city of Constantinople, which was for so long the bastion of Christianity in the East,” where Crusaders even fought against Byzantine Christians. Such horrors, the Pope said, “fills Catholics with deep regret.”

Chaos. War, conflict and the fog of war create chaos. Just like the Chaos in the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth. You remember the way the Bible begins:

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.(Genesis 1:1-2)

Now I know, as Knights and Dames, you are all fluent in Hebrew, so you will recognize two very interesting Hebrew words here. Over the Chaos there hovered the ruach elohim. Ruach is a curious Hebrew word which means "wind, spirit, breath or fire.” You can imagine how one word can men all four things. The wind that blows across your cheek on a warm day, the spirit the comes from nowhere and then returns, the breath and the fire, flickering on a candle.

But its not just the ruach, it’s the ruach elohim, the breath of God, his spirit. It’s the same wind which returns in the story of the Flood once the deadly waters have receded.

And then we hear what the Spirit, the breath of God does. The translation says it “rachaph,,” it “swept over the face of the waters.” A pretty straightforward description: the breath of God, his Spirit, sweeps across the chaos. But there is something curious here, for the word “rachaph” is only used one other time, in Deuteronomy 32:11, which describes how God cares for his people like an eagle “hovering over its young.”

“One of the earliest Jewish commentaries on this text, dating from New Testament times, interpreted it this way: ‘A spirit of love before the Lord was hovering over the face of the waters.’ This holy wind is not a part of the chaos, it is God’s motherly love conveying the promise of life, order, and beauty to what was of itself a mess. Because God’s spirit was hovering over it, chaos became promise.”

So the Spirit of God, hovering over the waters broods over and cherishes the creation he is about to love into being. The Spirit of God creates through tender love. The breath of God moves over the chaos and and we were made.

Unity out of chaos, love out of chaos, light from darkness, life from death.

It’s like when in the next chapter, God created man. God picks up a handful of dirt (the Hebrew word for dirt is adamah), and into it he breathes the ruah…the spirit, breath, fire, driving wind. And the adamah is changed by the breath of God into Adam, man.

And it’s like the Christ, who is born of the Virgin. You see it in El Greco's depiction of the Annunciation, as the Angel appears to Mary  and just behind her is a long drape covering an open window, blowing in the wind. It’s as if the spirit, the breath of God, the ruah is overpowering her, incarnating life in her virginal womb, bringing forth Emmanual, the Christ to set us free.

And it’s like Pentecost, where “…they were all in one place together, and suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.

Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”

For it is only the Spirit of God which “creates purpose, order, and meaning out of chaos…fills the empty void with beauty and goodness…darkness into light, night into day, the evening into a new morning, and calls into existence those things” that never existed before.

It’s like the poem by the twelfth century mystic, Saint Hildegard of Bingen:

O sacred breath, O fire of love,
O sweetest taste in my breast which fills my heart
with a fine aroma of virtues.
O most pure fountain through whom it is known
that God has united strangers and sought the lost.
O breastplate of life and hope of uniting all members as One,

Care for those who are imprisoned by the enemy
and dissolve the bonds of those whom Divinity wishes to save.
O mightiest path which penetrates
All, from the height to every Earthly abyss,
you compose All, you unite All.

Through you clouds stream, ether flies, stones gain moisture,
waters become streams,
and the earth exudes Life.
You always draw out knowledge,
bringing joy through Wisdom’s inspiration.
Therefore, praise be to you
who are the sound of praise
and the greatest prize of Life,
who are hope and richest honor bequeathing the reward of Light.

Which brings us back to the Holy Land, where the Spirit descended upon the Apostles in that upper room. And where just about an hour away by car some of the most violent confrontations took place this past week. Horrendous violence with live ammunition, fire bombs, rocks and scores dead.

Which is why we pray every day, and why Pope Benedict XVI asked the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre to be "convinced and sincere ambassadors of peace and love among your brethren”…fruitful, with the power of his love [by your] “constant work to support the ardent desire for peace in those communities weighed down by a climate of uncertainty and danger in the last years.”

The Pope, when meeting with the Knights, went on: “To that dear Christian population, who continue to suffer due to the political, economic and social crisis in the Middle East, made even worse with the escalating world situation, I address an affectionate thought, bearing a special testimony of my spiritual closeness to so many of our brothers in the faith who are forced to emigrate. How can one fail to share the sorrow of that sorely tried community? How can one not thank, at the same time, you who have worked so generously to come to their aid?” (Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. 5 December 2008)

But how do we come to their aid? By our financial support, certainly. But more important than that we are called to pray. Pray like Pope Benedict did when he visited the Holy Sepulchre from which we take our name.

“Many of you have been there, to an empty tomb. A tomb which, in the words of Pope Benedict “bears mute witness both to the burden of our past, with its failings, misunderstandings and conflicts, and to the glorious promise which continues to radiate from Christ’s empty tomb. This holy place,” the Pope. continues, “where God’s power was revealed in weakness, and human sufferings were transfigured by divine glory, invites us to look once again with the eyes of faith upon the face of the crucified and risen Lord.

“May our contemplation of this mystery spur our efforts, both as individuals and as members of the ecclesial community, to grow in the life of the Spirit through conversion, penance and prayer. May it help us to overcome, by the power of that same Spirit, every conflict and tension born of the flesh, and to remove every obstacle, both within and without, standing in the way of our common witness to Christ and the reconciling power of his love.” (Pope Benedict XVI at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. 15 May 2009)

For therein lies the secret of our Knighthood, we Crusaders of prayer. Not on horseback and not with a sword, but on our knees and with folded hands, we can heal a troubled land…for it is only the Holy Spirit which can descend upon that Chaos and bring forth peace.

“As Christians,” Pope Benedict told us “we know that the peace for which this strife-torn land yearns has a name: Jesus Christ. “He is our peace”, who reconciled us to God in one body through the Cross, bringing an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14). Into his hands, then, let us entrust all our hope for the future, just as in the hour of darkness he entrusted his spirit into the Father’s hands.”

And ask Christ uttered his final words upon the Cross: “into your hands I commend my Spirit,” So may that spirit bring peace to the land where that Sepulchre stands, so we pray, good Knights and Dames.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Cardinal O'Malley Ordains Ten to the Priesthood

Congratulations to
Father Baldemar Garza
Father Joseph Kim
Father Benito Moreno
Father Tung Tuan Nguyen
Father Lambert Nieme
Father Andrea Povero
Father Michael Rora
Father Son Van Trinh
Father Eric Velasquez

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Farewell to Three Old Friends of SJS...

We expressed our thanks as a community to three old friends of Saint John's Seminary who will be retiring this summer.  They will each be in our continuing prayers.

Nineteen years ago, a very young girl, Joanne Murphy-Abbott, began work as the Executive Secretary to the Rector of this Holy House.  There is perhaps no one, besides the Rector, who knows more about what makes this place tick than his Executive Secretary.  Indeed, on some days, Joanne probably knows a lot more than I do!

With patience, competence and deep faith, this woman has served three Rectors, all very different personalities.  Yet she has served them each well...indeed she has been my right hand.

As she now begins a new chapter of her life in a much warmer climate, we congratulate her on her accomplishments, thank her for her service and promise her our fervent and grateful prayers.

In the decade during which Rich Flaherty has been Director of Finance and Administration he has brought modern principles of accounting and administration to the Seminary in a remarkable way.

As Catholic and as Irish as they come, Rich has been an instrumental collaborator as we have sought to understand and administrate one of the most complex institutions you could imagine.  Yet he has always done so with loyalty to me and to the Church, deep faith and unselfish generosity.

As you begin your well deserved retirement, Rich, you have our undying gratitude for the many ways in which the Holy Spirit has worked through your hands, your fingers and your spreadsheets to bring order out of chaos.  Thank you, Rich!

If ever there was a man of the Church, it is Monsignor Connie McRae.  Rector, Spiritual Director, and (best job of all) Pastor of God's flock.  

Whether in Brockton or Brighton or Rome, ever since Bishop Minihan first laid his hands on you, you have conformed yourself day by day to the image of the Good Shepherd.  And here, among this flock of shepherds, you have twice served as spiritual director, teaching us not only by your wise words, but most of all, by your example.

You have helped us, in the words of Pope Francis, to understand "the movement of the Holy Spirit...leading us to the fullness of grace."  Thank you for this holy work, Connie.  You will ever be a part of this Holy House.

A Day of Endings and Beginnings

Here is my homily at the closing Mass at Saint John's Seminary today.

Today is a day of endings and beginnings. Of leaving and arriving. A day defined by its liminality.

...And liminality can be scary, not quite knowing the fullness of what’s around the corner. Around that corner where they will call you Father for the first time, or Deacon when they listen to you preach. Around that corner with that pastor whom you’ve only met once and you have no idea what he thinks of you. Around that corner where a new world awaits with people and challenges that can be fearsome. Summer’s a relief, because there are no more exams, papers or evaluations (at least for a while) and some rest, but there’s also a lot of unknowns.

But whenever I get scared, I find it's the best (if not always the easiest) time to pray.

And so I pray.

For you, my brothers, who will be Priests in just a matter of days. Priests of the Lord Jesus, through whom all things were made, who offered his life in sacrifice for our sins and who will consecrate through your hands, forgive with your words and proclaim his Good News through your voices. We will miss you, but they need you. So go forth, and make us proud!

I pray for you, dear Deacons, the embodiement of the Lord who washed our feet and laid down his life for his friends. Minister at his altar and feed him, clothe him and visit him in the streets and prisons and alleyways to which you are sent.

I pray for you who are going to work in a parish, the sheepfold of the Church, and the most wonderful place to be a priest, a deacon or a seminarian. For, there you will act as shepherd, in imitation of and in union with the Good Shepherd, who has called you, out of love for him, to tend his sheep.

I pray for you going to CPE, or IPF or Mexico or Rome or some other exotic locale to study and grow.

I pray for you who may not be returning here next September.  You will always be missed.

And I pray a bunch of other stuff too.

I pray that I, and every one of my brothers on this Faculty, have served you well in this past year. That we have been examples of what it means to be a Good Shepherd. That our prayers for you, sometimes late into the night, will be answered. I pray we have done the best we could.

And for those times when “our best” (or something less than it) has not been quite enough, I pray you will forgive us. I pray you will forgive me, for the times when I was not quite up to task, with the right word or the right encouragement or the right decision. For while I know that each of us are human, I have a front row seat at my own inadequacies, and I beg that God will use my crooked lines to write straight and even my weaknesses to make you strong.

And finally, I pray the simplest of prayers: That you will be good, and humble and loving, whatever you do and wherever he leads you this summer: That the love with which he has loved us, may be in you, and they may see Christ in you, as well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Break from Studies...

The scholar seminarians of SJS have been hard at work on exams and papers in preparation for the end of the semester tomorrow.  As a small respite, an enormous bowl of ice cream made an appearance in the refectory last night with all the fixings!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

100th Birthday Party

It's been twenty-two years since I was pastor of Mary Queen of the Rosary Parish in Spencer, but I returned there today for the one hundredth birthday party of Norma Cormier.  My old friend Adam Cormier and his former colleague, our seminarian Derek Mobilio, helped to arrange the celebration in the Church Hall.  Father Bill Schipper, Administrator of the parish, joined me in presenting a Papal Blessing to Norma.  

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Our Newest Deacon...

Our own Springfield seminarian Duy Anh Le was ordained to the Diaconate this morning by Bishop Mitchell Rozanski at Saint Paul's Church in Springfield. Also ordained as deacons were Pope Saint John XXIII seminarians Paul Norman and Dennis Skowera. Here the new Deacons are gathered after the ordination with Bishop MacDonald and Bishop Rozanski, Father Kiely and me.

Friday, May 11, 2018

A Gift for the Teacher...

Dr. Ann Orlando is our beloved professor of Church History and Patristics. At the end of her popular elective on Saint Augustine, the class presented her with a framed canvas print. 

Beneath an image of the Bishop of Hippo is the wise inscription which Augustine’s biographer Possidius tells us was emblazoned on the saint's dining room table, warning each of his guests to refrain from rumor and gossip:

Quisquis amat dictis absentum rodere vitam,
Hanc mensam indignam noverit esse suam.

Which, roughly translated admonishes:

Who injures the name of an absent friend
May not at this table as guest attend. 

The inscription is burnt into an 18"x24" birch wood panel and also includes a map of the Mediterranean marking important sites in the life of Augustine. It is the work of former Portland Seminarian John Jackson IV.

Dr. Orlando's love for all things Augustinian has clearly rubbed off on her students!

SJS on Catholic TV...

It was great fun to return to CatholicTV this morning for a segment on THIS IS THE DAY.  Jay Fadden and I chatted about the end of the year at the Seminary, the upcoming Ordinations to the Priesthood, the Pentecost Collection and the SJS Golf Tournament.  I hope you enjoy this clip!


Last Homily of the Year at Deacon House...

This morning I preached to the Deacons at Deacon House (for the last time this year). They will all be ordained in the coming weeks, beginning with the Boston Ordinations a week from tomorrow.

Do you remember your first day in Seminary? How frightened you were? How unsure of yourself you were? How big and strange and impossible everything seemed to be?

But you persevered. Why? Because you had confidence in yourself and your own capabilities? Probably not-so-much. Because you knew you had the native abilities and the stuff it took to conquer the world? Doubtful.

You persevered because you loved Christ. Because you had heard the voice of Jesus whispering in your heart, Because every so once in a while, at a time you lest expected (but most needed it), you felt the cool breath of the spirit waft across your life. You persevered because you dared to call him Father and you knew he hear your prayer.

You persevered. Because, like Paul in Corinth, in the middle of a particularly fearsome panic attack, you heard the Lord say to you: “Do not be afraid…for I am with you.”

You persevered, as you will with the best of pastors, and the rest. As you will with the sweetest, loveliest most faithful parishioners, and the rest. As you will on good days, and the rest. You will persevere.

Just as you have through Seminary. On the days when all was consolation and light, and on the rest. For we travel through this valley, dear brothers, seeking only to discern God’s will and to find the strength to do it.

And on some days, even in Seminary, you probably felt like the mother in today’s Gospel, in anguish because the hour of your labor had arrived. The anguish of facing who you really are, the anguish of trying to become what God needs you to be, the anguish of the growing heart, the mind and the very depths of you.

But in these days you are also like that mother, knowing that God is about to bring forth new life through you. Thousands and tens of thousands of new lives, saved by God through your hands and led by Christ through your life to be happy forever with him in heaven.

And like that mother, who persevered through her labors, the memories of the pain will fade for you. For your heart is rightly flooded on these days with the joy that God has called you to be his Priest, in the image and likeness of Jesus his Son.

So let your hearts rejoice, for no one can ever take that joy from you. Dear brothers and sons, dear fathers, dear friends.

Baptisms in Quincy...

Seminarians Dan Zinger and Valentine Nworah recently assisted Father Robert Cullen at some special Baptisms at Saint John the Baptist Parish in Quincy. Valentine, who was recruited by Dan, was particularly helpful to a family from the Ivory Coast due to his fluency in French! Here are some great photos from the Baptism!

"On A Sacred Note" with Stephanie Scogna

Our dear friends at CatholicTV have a great feature story in the latest issue of CatholicTV Monthly.  They're premiering a brand-new series called On A Sacred Note, with sacred music enthusiast and scholar Stephanie Scogna.

In this issue, you'll find anecdotes and photos from one of her first episodes, in which she came to our holy house to interview our Director of Sacred Music, Dr. Janet Hunt. Click the image below to read the whole story, which begins on p.4.

(Saint John's Seminary and Dr. Hunt will also be featured on another episode later this summer. Mark your calendars for June 18 and July 23!)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Pre-Theo Awards 2018

Tonight  we celebrated the Pre-Theo Awards, recognizing the uniqueness of each of our pre-theologians!  A wonderful time was has by all, led by hosts Greg Quenneville and Patrick O'Connor!

Previous hosts of the Pre-Theo Awards Gather for a Photo Op

Friday, May 4, 2018

God chose you...

Here is my homily this morning at Deacon House.
“At Mass or the Lord's Supper,” the General Instruction of the Roman Missal tells us, “the people of God are called together into unity, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord or Eucharistic sacrifice…” (GIRM, no. 27)
Now, most of the people coming to Mass, including present company, think it was their idea to come to Mass, not God’s. You did, after all, set your alarm last night and you chose to show up, least the Rector be scandalized by your absence.

Well, I suppose there’s a bit of devotion in there, too. You have grown to know that without this daily bread our lives are empty and that at this Altar we find the source and summit of everything worthwhile. So that’s why you chose to go to Mass.

But that’s still not what the General Instruction says….it says that you have been “called together into unity” by Christ, who formed you into a holy people, a royal priesthood, Christ’s own mystical body.” It was not we who chose him, but he who chose us. (John 15: 16)

In a few weeks you will hear the same thing in the Prayer of Ordination, when the Bishop recalls how God “chose men next in rank and dignity [to Moses and Aaron] to accompany them and assist them in their task.” Just as you will hear the Bishop say these blessed words: “Relying on the help of Our Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the Order of the Priesthood.”

And all those years you thought you were discerning whether you wanted to be a Priest, whether you would be happy as a Priest. But the truth is, all you and I have been trying to figure out is whether God had called you to be a Priest. For we do not choose him. He chooses us, to go out and bear much fruit and to love one another as he has loved us.

Meditations With a Pencil...

A couple months back I used some of the illustrations from Diane Orpen's 1946 book, Meditations with a Pencil.  I have received many requests from seminarians to post some more of these beautiful pencil drawings.  Since the book has been long out of print, I include some more of these simple drawings for your prayer and reflection.

“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming to her, he said, 'Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.'  But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.”                                             
                     - Luke 1: 26-29

“[Simeon] he took [the child Jesus] into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” - Luke 2: 28-32

"One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, 'Do you want to be well?' The sick man answered him, 'Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.' Jesus said to him, 'Rise, take up your mat, and walk.'     -John 5:5-8.

"He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, 'Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.'"              -Matthew 18: 2-3
“Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.’”   - Luke 15: 17-19

“For the needy will never be forgotten,
nor will the hope of the afflicted ever fade.”
      - Psalm 9:19

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.  The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’  But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’  I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”          - Luke 18: 10-14