Monday, July 30, 2018

On Loaves and Fishes

Here is the homily I preached this weekend at Saint Patrick's Parish in Hampton Beach.

How hungry we are! How way down deep inside the hunger gnaws at us! We call it emptiness, loneliness, isolation or pain. We call it fear, depression, confusion or loss. We call it seeking, grasping, despair or need.

But whatever the name, it is the same. A deep gaping pain, like a black hole of fear that threatens to eat us alive. And especially on some days, we are tempted to quiet the beast with all kinds of perverse delights, passing pleasures to calm the soul and quiet the ache.

Sometimes we choose power as our balm while at other times we embrace money or chemicals or sex. Sometimes we bask in satisfactions of reputation or prestige, while at others we build castles of self-indulgence and self-congratulation.

The snake oil salesmen of sin offers many a remedy for the pains of life, though each, at the end of the day, but deepens the hurt, extends the alienation, and leaves us alone and hurting and desperately sad.

But only One satisfies, One who is a he and not a thing, One through whom all was made. One who died and rose, destroying death. One who waits for you here on this altar. One who waits with the life-giving drink that quenches every thirst and the bread that takes away all hunger. He waits for you.

You who have tried it all…experimentum ad absurdum. You whose trail of sin and self-exploitation looks back on broken relationships, broken promises, and bleeding hearts… He waits for you, with his bleeding Sacred Heart. He waits to bleed for you, to die for you, and through offering you a chalice of himself to make you like himself: a Victim for the world who loves the least as he first loved us. He waits for you.

And you who left the practice of the faith out of boredom or resentment or offense, you who sometimes turn the channel to the Mass out of a curious nostalgia, seeking a combination of infomercial and local news: He waits for you! He knows your name, and he calls to you from this altar to receive from the hands of the apostles and their helpers the bread which he has broken, which is the Body of the Lord, offered to give you strength for the journey. He calls you to this altar to come without money and be filled. He waits for you.

And You whose sin has kept you away…he calls you too…To lay upon this altar with those gifts of bread and wine the futility of your best efforts, the brokenness of your fears, and the stupidity of your narcissism. He is waiting here for you…he whose body was broken like the hosts he longs to place in your hands….that by his brokenness you might be healed.

You who have grown old and bent, who are tired of fearing pain and dreading death, who long for relief and are desperate for hope. He waits for you! He took your pain upon his shoulders with arms nailed to a cross, a pierced heart and a crown of thorns. He longs to gather your pain to his and to transform it by his Passion, to redeem your sufferings in the Paschal sacrifice of this Altar. For the bread of life is a healing remedy unto eternal life and the cup of salvation the Blood of the Lord which makes us ever young in him. He waits for you!

He waits for you, this Jesus, this Christ, this good shepherd, this way, this truth, this life waits for you no matter your pain, no matter your fear, no matter your sin or excuses. He waits for you.

All you who are heavily burdened, he waits for you, and looks upon you with pity, as upon sheep without a shepherd, and he says to me and to my brother priests: Do not send them away, but gather them to me around this altar and give to them the bread that I break and they will be filled.

So come home for supper….come home to God…come home and eat well the bread of angels. For the real miracle of the multiplication of the loaves was not that Jesus once fed so many men upon a hill in Galilee. The real miracle is that he feeds me and you today and that he calls everyone who hears my voice a Holy Communion with him that he might live in you and you in him.

That you might know the peace which his world cannot give: He waits for you.

Choral music from Renaissance Spain

Our annual Early Music Academy is taking place in the halls of Saint John's Seminary this week.  It concludes with a concert of Choral Music From Renaissance Spain on Friday night.  All our friends are welcome to attend this wonderful event!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Welcoming the Bishop of Kumbakonam

I was honored this afternoon to meet with and receive the blessing of Bishop Francis Anthonysamy of the Diocese of Kumbakonam in India. Two of Bishop Anthonysamy's seminarians are Second Theologians at Saint John's Seminary: Valanarasu Newton Williamraj and Alwin Joseph Chinnappan. I gratefully accepted the Bishop's words of thanks along with his kind gifts and blessings.

Left to Right: Father M.S. Selva Raj, Monsignor Moroney, Bishop Francis Anthonysamy

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Shepherds After His Own Heart

This is the homily I preached at Saint Patrick's Church in Hampton Beach this weekend.

It’s a terrible thing, betrayal. A father who betrays a son, a daughter who betrays her mother, an uncle who abuses his nephew, a brother who steals from his sibling, a friend who betrays an old friend, but most of all, a priest, who steals, abuses or lies.

Woe to such shepherds, Jeremiah declares. Woe to the shepherds “who mislead and scatter the flock,” says the LORD. The ones who scattered rather than gathered, who neglect rather than love, they will be punished for their evil deeds.

And while it is true that the vast majority of cases of the abuse of children by Catholic Priests took place decades ago, even one child harmed long time ago is a crime that cries to heaven.

Which is one of the big reasons why I do what I do for a living. I’m Monsignor Jim Moroney, the Rector of Saint John’s Seminary in Boston, the oldest and largest seminary in New England. Since 1884 we have prepared more than 3500 priests for service in New England and throughout the world. And if you want to know who is supposed to assure that we will have shepherds for the future who will gather rather than scatter, who will increase and multiply, rather than drive the flock away…well, that’s us.

Pope Saint John Paul II gave us the best advice on how to accomplish that task when he told wrote that Priests should be a bridge to Christ and not an obstacle. By the way they speak, by the way they live they should draw us to Christ.

For the Priest should be like John the Baptist, ever seeking to decrease that Christ might increase in the lives of everyone he meets. Indeed, his whole like should be one constant declaration, pointing to that Cross and saying: “Behold the Lamb of God! Behold him who has come into the world!”

That means that a Seminary must be devoted not just to the Spiritual, the Intellectual and the Pastoral dimensions of a young shepherd’s life, but to the human parts of him as well.

With the aid of psychologists and spiritual directors, formators and veteran pastors, we seek to lead a man to understand who he is, how he feels and thinks and understands the world around him. We seek to help him to let go of those tendencies and neuroses which would drive people away, and to foster and encourage those natural talents which would draw all men and women to Christ.

Sometimes that means that the seminarian must undergo an agonizing re-examination of his motives and patterns of behavior in order to eliminate from his daily life those tendencies which would alienate or manipulate others.

The most extreme example of such behaviors are those psycho-sexual sicknesses which lead people to act out in all kinds of inappropriate ways that violate the dignity of another person and are rooted in anything but truth, purity and love.  For, as Pope Saint John Paul II said so clearly, there is no place in the Priesthood for those who would harm a child.

For the Priest is called to act in the very person of Christ, must be conformed, mind, body and soul, to the the incarnate love of the man who hangs upon that Cross. The priest should be the one to whom you can always turn, who will always listen, who will struggle to understand, and who, like the Good Shepherd, is willing to lay down his life for his flock.

The priest is the one who leads us to verdant pastures and restful waters, where resting in Christ’s unconditional love, our souls are refreshed and we realize that with Christ’s love for us, we have nothing to fear, nothing to really worry about ever again. He is the epitomy of kindness and the one I can always trust.

The Priest is the one who I must always be able to trust, the one who guides me along the right paths, even through the dark valleys, ever reassuring me that Jesus is walking right beside me.

The Priest is the one who feeds me with the very Body and Blood of the Son of God, the Bread of Life and the Cup of Everlasting Salvation, with the assurance that he who eats and drinks of this Sacrament will never really die.

The Priest is the one who baptizes our children and buries our parents with tender love, devotion and piety.

The Priest is the one who anoints us when we are sick and absolves us when we sin. And always, through his hands and his words, it is Christ who acts: baptizing, confirming, anointing and consecrating. It may sound like Father’s voice, but it is Jesus speaking; and it may look like his hands extended as he prays, but it is really Christ’s arms, extended on the Cross in an everlasting Sacrifice.

The Priest is the man, like the Lord in whose Priesthood he shares, whose heart is moved with pity and who has chosen to renounce fame and family and fortunate in order to kneel before the Bishop and promise to him and to his successors as Chief Shepherds of the Church both obedience and respect.

So wherever the Bishop tells him to go, he goes. Whatever the Bishop asks him to do, he does it; all because he has learned that a life of goodness and kindness, true happiness is never found in grasping for what you can get, but in opening your arms on a Cross and offering all to God in service to his Holy Church. His one aspiration and only hope is to dwell in the house of the Lord for all his days.

And while such shepherds will sometimes fail and fall, the more than a hundred men who will return to Saint John’s Seminary at the end of August seek only to discern God's will for their lives and then do it.  

Pray for them. Beg God to send his Spirit deep within their hearts. And, once and a while, pray for those of us who have been given the enormous privilege of forming Priests in service to the coming generations in Manchester and all the other Dioceses, forming shepherds after Christ's own heart.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Next time you are in Northern New England...

Make sure you visit the La Salette Shrine in Enfield, New Hampshire, where a magnificent Church contains this window, commemorating the mid-nineteenth century apparition of the weeping Virgin, calling all to prayer and penance.

The shrine is built on the site of the former Shaker community of Enfield, with part of the property restored as a fascinating museum to the Shakers, dedicated to extraordinary craftsmanship, like these simple but beautiful miniatures painted by one of the more artistic members of the community.

Make sure you visit the birthplace of 
Calvin Coolidge, our thirtieth President, (most impressive presidential site I have seen). Here’s the simple room he was born in:

And the extraordinary 
Union Christian Church he prayed in, the first example of "Carpenter Gothic" I have ever seen.

And the simple grave he was buried in.

When Calvin Coolidge was still a young member of the the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (before he was elected Governor) he insisted to his fellow legislators that God was the true author of all good order and that "Men do not make laws, they do but discover them."

Finally, in Tamworth Village, New Hampshire there’s a lovely "country doctor" museum on a working farm which reflects on the medical care provided by two generations of "Doctors Remick."  This is the chair on which you would sit to have your tooth pulled (or experience all sorts of other procedures).

And by the way, try to pick a day to visit when it is less than one hundred degrees out!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Remembering Georgia, from long ago...

During vacation, now drawing to a close, Father Busch and I found many geocaches, including one this morning in Freeport, Maine. It was, like many of the Maine caches, close-by to a cemetery, this one in Freeport, Maine (Yes, we made a pilgrimage to LL Bean, too).

We wandered a bit through the cemetery and came across the grave of Georgia Brewer, daughter of George and Hanna Brewer. She was nineteen years old when they buried her on August 25, 1874.

It was the eve of the industrial revolution and barely a decade after the civil war when George and Hanna buried their teenage daughter. Just a little over 2,000 people lived in Freeport (and LL Bean was just two years old and living over an hour away).

I was touched, as I am frequently, by the deep feeling and faith of the epitaph, which I share here with our dear readers. Please join me in saying a prayer for Georgia, and for her faithful mom and dad.

We give thee up our Georgia dear,
Whom on earth we loved so well;
For we know that thou art happy,
In that land with Christ to dwell.
But oh! Georgia, how we miss thee,
Miss thy voice so full of love;
But we know that thou art singing,
Songs of joy with saints above.

Just a few more weeks...

As the sun begins to set over the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, the men from SJS take a few hours to relax and their weeks of prayer and study begin to draw to a close.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Monday witnessed the best SJS GOLF TOURNAMENT ever with 114 golfers (one of whom even got a Hole in One - congrats, Kevin Landry!) 26 hole sponsors, and a rip-roaring Live Auction at the end of the evening. For the first time ever we even had bidding online leading up to the event, which made it all the more exciting!  A wonderful time was had by all, all the the Glory of God and the good of our Seminarians!

Thanks to All Who Made this Possible by their Hard Work and Great Ideas!

Here are a few photos from the day, courtesy of the talented George Martell. See the rest here!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Just a few hours left for Online Bidding!

There are just a few hours left until the online phase of our Golf Auction ends TONIGHT! 

Don't miss out on your chance to bid on these great items: we have Red Sox/Yankees tickets, a Patriots Club Suite with VIP parking, a Week on Lake Winnisquam, Jimmy Buffett tickets at Fenway, an Italian feast in your home made by yours truly and Fr. Chris O'Connor (and served by seminarians!)....and more!

Get your bids in NOW before the auction closes at 11:59PM EST - the live auction will take place tomorrow evening (Monday, July 9) at the Golf Tournament, and any online winners will be notified by email on Tuesday, July 10. GOOD LUCK and Happy Bidding!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Some days away...

Father Joseph Busch and I are taking a few days away in Northern New England to rest and enjoy the wildlife, some of which seems to have taken more than a passing interest in me!

Happy Birthday Father Conn!

Our own beloved Father Jim Conn celebrated his seventieth birthday with a dozen priest friends a couple days ago.  A magnificent time was had by all!  Ad multos Annos!

Two New Priests for Springfield!

Two of our Seminarians were ordained to the Priesthood by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski at Saint Michael’s Cathedral in Springfield today.  Father Michael Kokoszka recently completed his studies at Saint John’s, while Father Frank Furman finished Seminary at the North American College after having completing Pre-Theology studies at Saint John’s Seminary.  The Church in Springfield is truly blessed by these great new Priests!