Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy Thursday Homily

This is my 1st Holy Thursday homily from a year ago. I reprint here tonight on the eve of Holy Thursday, 2010.

Homily for Holy Thursday

Gospel of John 13:1-15

Every year, when Christmas rolls around, I summon all the courage I can muster and venture to the mall. My mission: to find a great gift for my wife Wendy. After I find the perfect gift, I make a stop at the perfume counter and find one of her favorite fragrances. But I always look for the one that offers a free bonus gift. Yes, the Deacon is cheap. I have learned that at Christmas, you can get a free gift set, a travel case, or an extra bottle of perfume. Extra! Lagniappe!

We all like a little lagniappe; buy 1 get 1 free, 2 for 1, half price. We use coupons, gift certificates, sales flyers and newspaper ads all to get something extra or to add value.

As people of faith, tonight on this Holy Thursday, are we aware of the many gifts Jesus unwraps for us on this solemn night?

Tonight we gather to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. We refer to this night as Holy Thursday, The Last Supper, and the first night of the Easter Tridiuum. For Jesus and His followers, they gathered in an upper room to celebrate the Passover. Now, tonight we read the Gospel account from St. John which does not present the Passover details. We should note, however, that the other three Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, this night is indeed presented as the Passover meal. Tonight, we read from Exodus of the Passover and the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Freed from slavery, they are saved from the angel of death by the blood of the lambs.

Matthew, Mark and Luke go on to give us the Eucharistic institution, where Jesus becomes the new Passover Lamb. It is by His blood that we too are saved from eternal death and freed from the slavery to sin.
The words that St. Paul repeats tonight in the 2nd reading from his first letter to the Corinthians are from these three Gospels. Paul stresses the handing on of this remembrance and says the words Jesus said at the Last Supper: “Do this in memory of me”.

So every time we come to Mass, we hear these words: “This is my body; this is my blood. Do this in memory of me”. The Eucharist; handed on to Paul; handed on to us. How is this accomplished? It is accomplished because Jesus instructed the Apostles to do this in remembrance. Did Jesus intend for this remembrance to die with the death of the last Apostle? No. Their successors are the Bishops, and Bishops ordain helpers, Priests. And Bishops and Priests, functioning in persona Christi, say words and perform actions that change bread and wine into the Body & Blood of Jesus!

So here on Holy Thursday we unwrap three gifts: The Eucharist, the Priesthood, and the Mass.

But there is more; a little lagniappe; one more gift. Return to tonight’s Gospel from St. John. We read of the incredible, loving example of service as Jesus washes the feet of His Apostles. We must know that keeping the feet clean was a big job back in the days when Jesus walked the Earth. The roads are dirty, dusty; muddy when it rains. The men wear sandals, thin soles held together by straps. It was customary when visiting a neighbor’s home or attending a dinner party for the host to have a jar of water, a ladle and towel outside the door. Your clean feet was your ticket inside.

So Jesus here goes beyond the customary. He removes his outer garment, takes a towel and stoops low and humbly washes the feet of His guests. He goes on to tell them that just as He has done for them, they must wash each others feet. Put another way: we who receives Eucharist are to be Eucharist to one another! How? In humble service to each other.

This water also reminds us of our Baptism. Clean feet is the ticket into the home of the host; our Baptism is a ticket that opens the door to all the other Sacraments and service to our Lord; that can lead to the open door of our host in Heaven: our Father.

One night; one liturgy; at least four gifts for us to embrace: The Eucharist, The Priesthood, The Mass and humble service to the Lord and each other.

So we ask, how can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me?

Here are a few suggestions: after Mass tonight, Jesus is removed from the tabernacle and reposed in a special place here in the church until midnight. Spend time after Mass with Him; perhaps for one hour. Tomorrow the church is at its emptiest, it’s loneliness. Why? The tabernacle is empty; Jesus is not here in the Blessed Sacrament. The sanctuary candle is unlit. Come and sit in church and feel the emptiness, the aloneness, the lack of His real presence.

But know it is temporary for Easter awaits. Yes, the empty tabernacle can remind us of the empty tomb. Sorrow and sadness will give way to Resurrection joy.

Remember this: when I shop for gifts, looking for extras, I may get a good deal but it still costs me some money. And the gift, one day, will fade away.

The gifts of this beautiful night, this Holy Thursday liturgy, coupled with our observance of Good Friday and the Easter resurrection are given to us by our Lord, free of charge and lasting forever and ever. Amen.

Homily for Reconciliation Service

My wife Wendy teaches 1st grade CCD students and every year they do a lesson on forgiveness. The model she uses for the little kids is that of our late Pope, John Paul II, as he forgave his would be assassin. And it works! All of us surely remember as the Pope went to the jail where the his attacker was serving time. And the Pope went to his cell, talked with him, prayed with him and said the words of forgiveness. The would be assasin heard the words from the mouth of the Pope.

As a prison chaplain, I remember encountering a man in the infirmary who asked that I give him ashes as it was Ash Wednesday. As I said the words, turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel, he cried and explained to me that he needs to hear words of repentence and forgivness too.

We all long for words of forgiveness. It's in our D.N.A. We want to be forgiven for our misdeeds but we certainly want to hear the words.

As people of faith, are we longing to hear the same words from Jesus: you are forgiven? And do we truly believe the words of our responsorial psalm that in His great Love, God will answer me?

Tonight we hear the words from the Gospel that explains the role of the betrayer, Judas Iscariot. Jesus calls it out; one of you will betray me. Jesus knows who it is and Judas certainly knows too. Yet all the Apostles begin to publicly declare, surely not I. Was this a simple declaration or did they all have something to fear? Did they suspect Judas? Did they have any idea what was about to happen?

And what can we say for Judas? How can you do this. You have sat at the feet of the master, you have heard his words of love and mercy, you have witnessed the truth and witnessed the miracles. How can you betray Jesus? For 30 pieces of silver? For acceptance or vainglory? Did you forget all Jesus said and did?

How does this apply to us, particularly those gathered here tonight to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Do we say "surely not I" when we think of our relationship with Jesus. Is it possible we betray Him? What are our 30 pieces of silver? Could it be a lackluster prayer life, our inclination to sin, could it be not responding generously to the poor and marginalized, could it be bending our will to satisfy peer pressure for popularity sake over the will of the Father?

Yes, these and other things may be our 30 pieces of silver; our betrayal. Yet here we are tonight. We have come of our own free will to hear the words of mercy and forgiveness. We declare Lord we need your mercy, we are sorry for our sins. I may have forgotten you in my sinfulness but I do not despair; no, I beg for your mercy.

And why is it so important that we do this in the Sacrament? After all, can't I just talk to God? Yes we can do that. But we long to hear those words of forgiveness. And in our faith tradition that hearing comes from the mouth of the Priest, acting in persona Christi, I absolve you of your sins. And the words, Go, your sins are forgiven.

Make a sincere confession tonight, accept and do your penance. Turn your attention in the days ahead to the beautiful services of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter vigil or Easter Sunday. And make a comittment to live out Easter. Let Easter last in your heart for more than a day. Be an Easter people, make the Easter message a lifestyle.

The would be assasin heard the words of forgiveness from the Pope, the prisoner heard the words of the formula on Ash Wednesday. We rejoice in the forgiveness we can be assured of when we hear the words from the mouth of the Priest. And we thank God, for in His great love, he has heard us and he answers me.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holy Week media frenzy

Up to now, I've tried to stay away from commenting on the recent spade of stories about clergy sex abuse in Europe and the old Wisconsin case coupled with the media circus to take the Pope down over a 1979 case in Germany. I am acutely aware of some of the hatchet jobs being done across the country, particularly by the New York Times. Considering that we were approaching Holy Week, and that most of the grinding of teeth was coming from New York; I figured why comment.

But then I have made the classic mistake recently of polluting my car environment and beyond with the big local talk radio station here in New Orleans. I'm going to try and refrain, for now, from using the call letters and the names of the radio personalities in part to stay above the fray and possibly avoid a frivilous lawsuit.

This particular radio statio, headquartered in such a Catholic community as New Orleans, once owned by the Catholic Church, has turned into a Catholic bashing radio outlet. You would think, with all the wonderful good the local Church does, all the major contributions to education thanks to New Orleans area Catholic schools, all the amazing efforts by the Church on behalf of the poor and the immigrant, that this station would have several Catholic stories throughout the year. But let a scandal break out, and let's acknowledge here that these scandals are hideous, and they devote 24/7. Callers are allowed to call in and express total lies and falsehoods, display their ignorance of the Catholic Church and they are never challenged by the radio hosts. And many of the hosts are self proclaimed Catholics or Catholic used to be's.

There is a belief among the entire radio personality staff, that runs throughout the morning and evening personalities, even their fish and game guy, that the Church is in disarray, falling apart and at a low point in all things. NOT TRUE!

Here are some facts, that as we know, always get in the way of most of this radio's talk show personality driven agenda. The Catholic Church in New Orleans, across the country and I suspect world wide rejects all forms of abuse against anyone, particularly young people. The Church acknowledges, publicly, it's sins and shortfalls. The Church, particularly in this past decade, has instituted amazing reforms to address the problem of clergy sex abuse. This is so much so, that other institutions now turn to the Catholic Church to help write reforms for problems they have with sex abuse. And what about this; if morale is so low why is the already largest Christian church growing. Catholics are now close to numbering 1.1 billion of the worlds 6 billion. In America, we have over 68 million Catholics with tens of thousands joining the Church this Saturday night at the Easter vigil. Here in New Orleans, despite the abuse stories, despite recovering post Katrina, despite the attacks from the countless churches that recruit Catholics, 400 adults are joining the faith. No story here for the big radio giant?

How about the fact that the Vatican just announced that the first Louisiana born person ever is now on the path to formal declaration of possible sainthood; a black free woman from the 19th century named Henriette Delille. No story here for the big radio giant?

How about that the Catholic Church in New Orleans is experiencing new enthusiasm as the new Archbishop, Gregory Aymond, takes control of the Archdiocese. No story here for the big radio giant?

How about the acknowledged leadership of the Catholic Church in and of New Orleans in assisting the devastated people of Haiti. Oh they mentioned this; about 1/100th of the time they have devoted to tear down the Church.

And one last point; unlike the big radio station and it's personalities; the Catholic Church, particularly those in the pews are concerned for and pray for the victims of clergy abuse. We hold out a helping hand and all that we can offer for those who suffer from this hideous scandal. But does this radio station spend anytime in solidarity with the abused? Do they offer any solutions or offer and tangible assistance? Not one victim is assisted by the endless droaning on of uninformed voices that comes from this radio station and its' infatuation with "getting" the Catholic Church. Their solutions: let Priests marry, arrest and throw away the key if any accusation is made, encourages Catholics to boycott the Mass, refrain from contributing in the pews.

In the end, how about some balance. Absolutely acknowledge with all Catholics of good will and faith that these crimes are wrong. But don't throw away the countless good the Church performs and the faith and liturgy that brings people to Christ. I don't think I can ever listen to this station again without wondering if they truly have a hidden agenda.

Like the Archbishop of New York, I'll admit my bias because I love the Church; now admit your bias because you....(fill in the blank).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Here comes more Catholics

One of the many great joys about the week ahead is the beautiful Easter vigil and the welcoming of Catechumens and Candidates into the fold. As most of you know, you just can't join the Catholic Church by reciting a prayer or running forward to the front of the room. For those adults who are called to become Catholic a period of instruction, prayer and discernment must take place. Many will study for longer than a year.

This year in the Archdiocese of New Orleans we are welcoming about 400 new Catholics. They will be part of a major total in the United States that will actually see many dioceses welcoming in excess of a 1,000 new Catholics. Here is just a sample: 3,000 in Dallas, 1,100 in both San Antonio and Fort Worth, 1,800 in Atlanta, 2,400 in Los Angeles, nearly 900 in Portland, 700 in Seattle. 1,200 in Detroit, 1,000 in Cincinnati, and 1,100 in Denver, Arlinton VA and Washington D.C.

And this has been the trend for several years. Amazingly, while most people moan and groan everytime someone leaves the faith, Catholicism continues to grow here in America and across the world. With over 68.5 million Catholics in the USA, a net growth of over 1.5% is expected.

Despite the many problems we humans can conjur up, the Church is an establishment of Christ Himself; and as He says, the gates of hell shall not prevail against Her.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A look at a typical day in formation

It is a beautiful Saturday afternoon and Spring is starting to assert its' foothold in the greater New Orleans area. A fair amount of festivals are springing up (pun intended) and folks down here are starting to boil crawfish. The weather could not be any better on this Saturday in late March.

Huddled into two seperate classroom spaces in an old church hall are 30 men discerning and studying on the path to possible ordination to the Permanent Diaconate. In our Archdiocese of New Orleans, having just ordained 22 men as Deacons some 15 months ago, we have 10 men preparing for ordination this December and another 20 who will follow suit in 2 years. Of course this is all subject to continued discernment, the call of the Holy Spirit and the ability for the men to complete the courses of study. Yet here they are; all dutifully toiling away on another Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

I spent most of the day with the 2010 group. They are knee deep into homiletics and I observed their practice homilies on this Saturday. This is followed by a period of assessment and critique. Ah, I remember it well. With 9 months to go to ordination, they are doing well. In the late afternoon they got an exercise in exegesis and hermenutics.

I did spend a little time observing the 2012 group. They are in year 2 of formation so I watched as they studied today, lecture style, the Scriptures and the Sacraments. This group has a healthy number of wives who attend classes with their husbands. It is a strong sign of their support of the husbands call to serve. Of course those who are not there are equally supportive and attend to many family responsibilities so their husbands can be free to spend the necessary time in formation. All the wives are contributing mightily to the formation of our new Deacons.

Most of our instructors are Deacons themselves and all have been involved in formation studies for quite some time. It is always another tangible evidence of the diaconal charism to see these Deacons giving of themselves so others may have the opportunity to serve in charity and word.

I love the ministry of the Permanent Deacon; so much so that I find it inspiring to spend time with those preparing for ordination. Just being a Deacon myself 15 months I still find those Saturday's when I am free well spent around the classroom. Of course now this has to be balanced around my own responsibilities as a Deacon and of course as a husband, father and employee.

Continue to pray for these men who discern this vocation and for their wives and families as well. In this Year for Priests, where we all pray for and understand the need for vocations to the Priesthood, the Permanent Diaconate is also indeed a vocation worthy of our prayers.

In case you may be from the Archdiocese of New Orleans and reading this, understand that we will be starting another inquiry group for a possible class of 2014. Come and see. I'll post more details later!

Big News for Archdiocese of New Orleans; Henriette Delille is declared Venerable

African American founder of New Orleans religious order declared venerable by Pope

Vatican City, Mar 28, 2010 / 01:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Benedict XVI has approved the cause for the canonization of a Spanish religious sister and cleared the way for the beatification of eight other individuals. Among others advancing on the road to declared sainthood is Servant of God Henrietta Delille of New Orleans, who was declared to have lived a life of "heroic virtue."

Sixteen new decrees regarding cases of possible saints were approved in the Vatican in a meeting between the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato, and Pope Benedict on Saturday morning.

A miracle was approved for the cause Spanish sister Boniface Rodriguez Castro, foundress of the Congregration of the Missionary Servants of St. Joseph. According to Vatican Radio, she showed exemplary humility in her life, continuing to live with dignity and faith even after being sent away from the order she founded in support of working women, bearing the contempt of her fellow sisters and living a life of silence.

She was exonerated and recognized for her holiness only after her death in 1905.

Among the eight candidates now authorized for beatification are three 20th century martyrs: German diocesan priest, Fr. Gerhard Hirschfelder, who died in the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau in 1942; Slovenian Luigi Grozde, lay member of the Catholic Action group who was killed "out of hate for the Faith" in 1943; and Bishop Szilard Bogdanffy of Romania who died in jail in 1953.

The single American to be recognized in this most recent round of decrees is Mother Henrietta Delille, foundress of the Louisiana-based Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Family. A free woman of African descent, Venerable Henrietta Delille started the African American congregation in 1842 with the goal of educating the children of slaves and caring for the sick, poor and elderly.

The order carries on the original mission of the foundress today, providing education to youth in more than 20 institutions in the United States and offering care and shelter for the elderly.

According to the order's website, the Sisters of the Holy Family also have a presence internationally in Nigeria and Belize.

Dates for the canonization and beatifications have not been released but will be announced by the Vatican as they are scheduled

Homily for Palm Sunday March 28, 2010

Remember just a little over a month ago? We all were riding the emotional roller coaster as we celebrated our New Orleans Saints first visit to the Super Bowl. There was the high of all the pre-game hype and the low of falling behind early to the favored Indianapolis Colts. Then the high of taking the lead; the sky-high of the Tracy Porter interception and then the ultimate victory; the Saints: Super Bowl Champs! What an emotional roller coaster!

We all have them; great days at work that turn sour; vacation plans that don't always work out; a spade of good news followed by bad news and then maybe all is going to be ok news. All of us here today know a little something about emotional roller coaster rides.

How is our spiritual roller coaster ride going? As people of faith, where are we today in our spiritual journey with Jesus.

On this beautiful Palm Sunday we hear not one but two Gospel passages. At the beginning of Mass we hear of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey and welcomed by an adoring crowd waving palm branches and singing Hosana. The people are convinced, at least at this moment in time, that Jesus is the King, he has come to save us. But these will be the same people who just a few short days later will cry out, away with him, crucify him. So much have the people turned on Jesus that they demand the release of Barrabas, a convicted criminal and demand Jesus be crucified. Despite the fact that, not once but three times, Pilate declares Jesus not guilty, the crowd persisted. And Pilate concedes.

What an emotional roller coaster; a spiritual ride that has descended to the lowest of lows perhaps. First we welcome Him with adoration and praise; then we demand his demise. Is it not just a little uncomfortable for many of us that during the reading of His Passion today we, as a congregation, proclaim those same horrible words: crucify him, crucify him?

These Gospel passages that we hear on Palm Sunday; events of some 2,000 years ago; how do they play out in 2010. Where on our spiritual and emotional roller coaster do these events find us?

For many, we may be able to relate, if we truly reflect and examine our conscience. For we come forward with our palm branches, we proclaim his praises, we even process in community to receive Him in Holy Communion. And then we leave here; we encounter the world, we encounter the week that confronts us. Do we forget Jesus during the week? Do we go along with the crowd; using foul language or participating in that inappropriate conversation or joke? Do we just simply dismiss our spiritual high point of Sunday on Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, etc.?

We have arrived at Holy Week. We are here on Palm Sunday. We have heard and hopefully prayed with the Scriptures of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem and His Last Supper, His Passion and His Death.

What will we do with the week ahead? How will our spiritual and emotional roller coaster ride look like this week? Will we avail ourselves of any opportunities for weekly Mass on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday? Will we seek out His mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Please take a moment TODAY and read of the additional times for confessions this week and remember the reconcilaition service we all have been invited to Wednesday night at Mary Queen of Peace Parish right down the road. Will we be here Thursday night for the beautiful celebration of the Last Supper and the washing of the Feet? Will we be willing to remain just one hour in Adoration Thursday night from the conclusion of the liturgy to midnight? Will we truly enter into the spirit of Good Friday and make it a day of fasting and penance; not because someone tells us to; but because we offer ourselves in a spirit of repentence? If our work schedule permits, will we be here at 3 p.m. Friday; the very hour of His death and participate in His Passion? And will we be fully prepared for the celebration of great joy and Easter alleluias next weekend?

It is a special week. It will be full of many up's and down's perhaps. Remember how great that roller coaster ride was with the New Orleans Saints? There is something far greater than a Super Bowl championship awaiting us this week. It may be an emotional and spiritual roller coaster ride? Be present for the journey; Jesus is taking us for the ride of our eternal life!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

No two visits are alike

The last time I visited the Rayburn Prison facility I was part of a large 35 person ecumenical team conducting a retreat. On the last day of the retreat I found myself in the cell block ministering to those locked down in tiny cells, behind bars. Just a few weeks ago, I was assisting at a Mass being celebrated by a Benedictine monk. Just two months ago, I had the honor of bringing an Archbishop, Alfred Hughes, to celebrate Mass before an over flow crowd of nearly 80 in the visiting shed. All of these events are both beautiful memories and tangible evidence of the call to visit Jesus in prison.

Last night I brought a newly ordained Priest to the Catholic community at Rayburn. Fr. Richard was ordained just this past December in Rome and is now assigned to my deanery as a member of his religious order. He is young; and he looks it. And as a newly ordained Priest, he is on fire for the Lord and his ministry. I met Fr. Richard back in the summer when he was a transitional Deacon and I got a chance to share stories of my prison ministry. He promised me then that he would one day come and celebrate Mass for the men at Rayburn.

Talk about delivering on a promise. Only 6 weeks back here in Louisiana Fr. Richard was there in the small classroom, meeting the men, hearing confessions, celebrating Mass and praying with the inmates. It was as if this had been a lifetime ministry for him. For the inmates, they understood the special nature of the visit of a newly ordained Priest. Besides welcoming him, may sought a blessing from Fr. Richard, complete with laying on of hands. These men knew the sacredness of recently consecrated hands of a new Priest.

For his part, Fr. Richard was moved enough to promise me many return visits throughout the year. For that, I am very thankful.

His spirituality was something I got to experience not only in his celebration of the Mass but in his stories that he shared on the ride up to Rayburn and in our recitation of the Rosary and the litany of Mary that he led during the return trip home.

I hope you will join me in praying for holy Priests like Fr. Richard, for vocations to the priesthood and please pray for the men of Rayburn prison who are reforming their lives and walking with God.

The Feast of the Annunciation

March 25th - the solemnity of the Annunciation. On this date, 9 months prior to the great Christmas feast the Church gives us the day when we celebrate the announcement of the angel Gabriel. Mary is but a mere child, perhaps as young as 14, many say 16 at the oldest. An angel comes to her and assures her that she is full of grace; has found favor; perhaps the literal English interpretation should be Hail Mary; you have been given a particular grace from God the Father to bring forth God the Son. And you shall name Him Jesus!

In many ways you could say that this solemnity is the story that sets into motion the whole plan for our salvation. For the announcement of the angel yields to the story of the birth of Jesus which yields to His ministry which yields to His crucufixion, death and yes, His Resurrection.

Every time we are given the opportunity to celebrate such a jouful solemnity, when we can ponder and reflect on the mystery that is this great announcement, when we can read the very account in the 1st chapter of Luke's Gospel I celebrate the "full gospel-ness" of Holy Mother Church.

Yes, the Catholic Church, which is the fullness of truth, reflects upon and prays with this beautiful Scriptural account of the Annunciation and exhorts Her faithful to make this message meaningful in our everyday lives.

We can continue to learn much from reflecting on this mystery and the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in salvation history. Devotion to Mary is, and must always be, true worship of Her Son. For Her Son is more than Her Son, He is Her Redeemer; just as He is for you and me.

On this very day, as taught us by the Church, the very Word of God the Father, became man, so He may be born of the Virgin Mary and dwell among us and come to die for us so that we may have eternal life.

Thanks be to God!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Two weekends in a row; God is good

Last Sunday night I sat at this computer exhausted but so fulfilled as I completed a 4 day weekend retreat at the Rayburn prison. Yes, it took a lot out of me becuase the 4 days were demanding. But more importantly, it was an amazing movement of God and an event I will never forget.

Tonight, late Sunday, I sit here equally exhausted and equally fulfilled. In back to back evenings, my home parish of St. Jane's saw overflowing crowds in the church. Saturday night we rededicated our sanctuary. Renovations of ten new stained glass windows and a new altar, ambo and tabernacle were celebrated with all the beauty and dignity of a rich Catholic liturgy. Our new Archbishop, Gregory Aymond presided and consecrated the new altar with sacred chrism and blessed the windows and tabernacle. The Mass was an awesome worship of God with my 3 fellow Deacons and both our parish Priests celebrating with the Archbishop. Close to 400 folks crowded into our beautiful little Church that comfortably seats 300. After the Mass we all went to the hall for a dinner provided by the Parish and our Knights of Columbus where over 200 attended. What a night. In another post I may elaborate on the wonderful stain glass windows in our Church.

Then there was tonight. A Priest visiting from Rwanda presided and then conducted a beautiful healing service, with Adoration and Benediction. Over a dozen people came forward to claim a physical healing from the power of the Eucharistic Jesus. Again, well over 300 atttended tonight. A special surprise was the attendance of the amazing Immaculee' Ilibigiza, the young Rwandan woman who wrote so eloquently of the genocide and her story of survival, fortified by her Catholic faith.

These two back to back nights speak volumes of the active faith life of the Catholic Church in the small town of Abita Springs, LA.

And these two events were just but two of my many events this weekend. I was so honored to preside at the renewal of vows for the 25th anniversary of good friends today as well as attended a Mass of thanksgiving in New Orleans for the parish that hosted 4 formation classes after Katrina. Without their offer to host us after the storm, formation of Permanent Deacons in New Orleans may have been placed on hold. I was honored to proclaim the Gospel this morning at the Mass.

So here I am, tired and worn out but remarkably invigorated fulfilled and praising God for His many blessings in my life!

Homily 5th Sunday in Lent March 21, 2010

Lots of new to look at today as we enter our renovated Church. Last night we rededicated our new sanctuary. I hope you get a chance to look closely at the 10 new stained glass windows; windows that tell a story about the life of St. Jane as well as several religious figures that have had a profound impact in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. And this weekend we place into service our new altar, new ambo and new tabernacle. The same Church but many things new.

We all can relate to this renovation. We have renovated our homes before; perhaps added a new room, reworked the current floorplan or perhaps changed the landscape of our yards.

As people of faith, do we allow Jesus to make all things new in our lives?

On this 5th Sunday of Lent we hear the Gospel of the woman caught in adultery. The authorities who bring the woman before Jesus are anxious to carry out the letter of the law but they are also more interested in trapping Jesus with the question of what to do with the woman. The question was intended as a lose-lose for Jesus. But Jesus did something totally unexpected; with his own finger, he wrote in the Earth.

What did he write? We have heard much speculation; but to be honest, we don't really know. But we clearly hear the words Jesus has to say. As the crowd picked up the stones with which to execute the death penalty against this woman Jesus says: "Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone." And Jesus a second time writes with his finger in the Earth. And we know that one by one, stones were dropped and the people went away.

Jesus makes all things new. If you ever saw the movie, the Passion of the Christ, there is a poignant scene where Jesus, carrying his cross, falls violently, battered and bloodied, and looks into the eyes of His mother Mary and says, see, I make all things new. Scripturally, this did not happen although "I make all things new" is quoted in the Book of Revelation.

Even in today's first reading from Isaiah today we hear remember not the events of the past; the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!

What is Jesus doing new? In this case, he teaches that the old covenant law, written by the hand of God on tablets of stone, is now fulfilled by His message of mercy and forgiveness. Perhaps this is the message he wrote with the finger of God into the Earth. Stone tablets that delivered the old covenant are not meant for weapons of stone to execute this woman. No, Jesus makes all things new.

And in doing so, Jesus is teaching us that the new covenant is written not on stone but written in our hearts. Jesus is calling us to mercy and forgiveness and opening our hearts to love one another. He asks each of us to soften our hearts to His message. It is almost like Ezekiel says in his prophesy, I will replace your stony hearts with a heart of flesh. And in Psalm 51 we read create a clean heart in me.

Jesus asks us to spend little time condemning others. And Jesus does give the final instruction to the woman who now stands not condemend but forgiven; go and sin no more.

For us gathered here today, we are called in this fifth week of Lent to give action to this Scripture reading. Again, we can start with reconciliation. We are drawing closer and closer to Holy Week and Easter. It is not too late to make a good confession. In the week ahead, we can take advantage of Eucharistic Adoration tomorrow night with our CCD students and Stations of the Cross this Friday. And very importantly, we can examine our hearts and say yes, the law of Jesus is written upon this heart, softened by Jesus' message of love, mercy and forgiveness and fortified by our love for Him and our brother and sister. Drop your stones this week too. Perhaps you are carrying a stone meant for another not yet forgiven. Learn a lesson from this Gospel passage; drop your stone and forgive. And do so this week.

Our Church looks new today; we are beginning spring and a time of new beginnings. Jesus Christ makes all things new. May we open our hearts to the totality of His message and as best we can, go and sin no more.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thank you dear St. Joseph

The celebration of St. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus Christ and the husband of Mary is upon us this Friday, March 19th. Devotion to St. Joseph among Catholics is strong and rightfully so. In Scripture, St. Joseph never speaks a word. Yet there he is; as Mary's betrothed hearing the news that Mary is with child by the power of the Holy Spirit, being spoken to in a dream by an angel, accepting the message and taking Mary as his wife, traveling with Mary to Bethlehem, being present at the birth of the Savior of the world, taking the child to Egypt for safety, bringing Jesus to the Temple for his presentation and then searching frantically for the older Jesus who remained behind in the temple. And Scripture says Jesus lived with Joseph and Mary and grew in wisdom and age and favor.

Devotion to St. Joseph is as old as the Church and fitting when one realizes that God selected St. Joseph for his important mission. He is a great example to all who are living out and/or discerning their vocation because he was faithful to his own vocation. And of course Jospeh's family tree played a prominent role in linking Old Testament prophecy about Jesus to his Kingship.

St. Joseph is the patron saint for the church, the working men and women of the world, the patron of a happy death and of course foster families. One of the more popular traditions in honor of St. Joseph is the construction of elaborate St. Joseph Altars with traditional foods and cookies.

So we celebrate this wonderful Saint and we ask for his powerful intercession. As we honor St. Joseph tomorrow we can join with the entire church in this prayer:

Father, you entrusted our savior to the care of Saint Joseph. By the help of his prayers may your Church continue to serve its Lord, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

All the Louisiana Bishops on health care

Archbishop Aymond and Louisiana Catholic Bishops release a statement on health care reform

Thursday March 18th 2010
The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly supports the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in their opposition to the current Senate health care bill. Some in the Catholic Church maintain that the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for abortions and that it will uphold longstanding conscience protections. They are mistaken. It is our belief that the Senate bill fails to maintain longstanding policy against federal funding of abortion and does not include adequate conscience protections. Therefore, the bishops of Louisiana are disappointed in both the inaccurate interpretations of some within the church, as well as the confusion that this has caused. Our focus continues to be to advocate for health care reform that respects the life and dignity of all, while being both accessible and affordable. Please pray for those who represent us in Congress that they will re-examine the health care bill.

Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans, issues the following statement on behalf of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops addressing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ stance on health care reform.

“The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly supports the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in their opposition to the current Senate health care bill. Some in the Catholic Church maintain that the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for abortions and that it will uphold longstanding conscience protections. They are mistaken. It is our belief that the Senate bill fails to maintain longstanding policy against federal funding of abortion and does not include adequate conscience protections. Therefore, the bishops of Louisiana are disappointed in both the inaccurate interpretations of some within the church, as well as the confusion that this has caused. Our focus continues to be to advocate for health care reform that respects the life and dignity of all, while being both accessible and affordable. Please pray for those who represent us in Congress that they will re-examine the health care bill.”

The Most Rev. Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans

The Most Rev. Sam G. Jacobs, Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux

The Most Rev. Michael Jarrell, Bishop of Lafayette

The Most Rev. Robert W. Muench, Bishop of Baton Rouge

The Most Rev. Ronald P. Herzog, Bishop of Alexandria

The Most Rev. Glen John Provost, Bishop of Lake Charles

The Most Rev. Michael G. Duca, Bishop of Shreveport

The Most Rev. Shelton J. Fabre, Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans

* From the Archdiocese of New Orleans website

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hitting the wall

I think today I hit the wall. Sometimes the combination of a demanding, yet rewarding job + your own personal and family life + the awesome ministry entrusted to me can wear you out physically. Tonight, I hit the wall. I've been on the run, night and day for over a week. This past weekend's retreat was intense and for some reason I found it hard to sleep over those four days. Not to mention we had a 5:15 wake up call every day and worked Thursday-Saturday night to 9. I took two days off from work to participate in the retreat and that just meant more work all day Monday and Tuesday. I think hitting the wall today can also be attributed to a long work day in New Orleans sitting in a training session hour after hour.

So tonight, I put aside whatever needs to be done and just tried to relax. I spent some time in prayer and watched a little TV and did little else; except wash some clothes and clean up the kitchen. But it was nice not driving anywhere tonight, or having to be somewhere.

Don't take this post the wrong way. I figure many of you can relate. Sometimes we just hit that old wall. For me, I'll try to get a good night's sleep and rise to face another day. I love my family, my ministry and I work very hard at the job. I'm always aware that my words, actions and behavior is scrutinized by some because I am a Catholic Deacon. So if I seem a little tired or slow over the next day or two, don't judge too harshly, don't draw any wild conclusions, pray that I can escape hitting that old proverbial wall.

Great message from Archbishop Timothy Dolan

This is a little long but well worth the read from the Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan:
Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ in the Archdiocese of New York!

This is the day which the Lord has made,

let us be glad and rejoice in it! (Psalm 118:24)

I have been eagerly looking forward to my first St. Patrick’s Day as the Archbishop of New York – there are few places that celebrate it as we do here. We observe it with the Mass, parades, festivals and maybe even the pouring of a celebratory pint! All that is good, for Saint Patrick is the patron saint of the entire archdiocese, from the cathedral in Manhattan to the upstate counties. We take pride in him and celebrate him. We ask for Saint Patrick’s intercession, that with the benefit of his prayers we may be the Catholics we ought to be.

St. Patrick’s Day is always a grand day in New York. While we can enjoy the green beer and shamrocks, it should not be a merely superficial feast for us. It should be a day of particular prayer, commending to St. Patrick the archdiocese, our parishes, our hospitals and schools, and all those who are close to us – our families, our friends, and especially anyone who is suffering. We should pray for our own growth in virtue and holiness.

It is also a good occasion to look at how we are living the Catholic faith that has been handed on to us by so many generations – for some, the faith can be traced all the way back to St. Patrick himself! Might I suggest that we look together at one important aspect of living our Catholic faith, namely the Lord’s Day?

Since my arrival in New York I have been asked about many subjects of public controversy. I have tried to answer as best I could, considering all questions as opportunities to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet the daily demands of urgent items can mean that truly important matters are not emphasized. Can anyone doubt that Sunday, our observance of the Lord’s Day, is essential for the Catholic Church, for the vibrancy of our Catholic faith, for the clarity of our Catholic identity?

We Need Sunday Mass!

In a Catholic New York column, I mentioned that I received a Christmas card from an old friend a few months back, with the usual annual update of family news. The year previous, in 2008, his card had brought good news: he had landed a very prestigious and high-paying job as a geologist — the profession he cherished — at a mining exploration company in Montana. I was so happy for him, a friend since high school. He had explained in his card that the job was three weeks at a time, in a very isolated area of the mountains, then a week back home in Illinois with his wife and three children. He regretted being away, but he and his wife had agreed this career opportunity was well worth it.

Then came this year’s Christmas card with the news he had quit that job! Was it the money? Hardly, the card explained, since the salary was exceptional. Lack of challenge? Just the opposite, the news went on, as he really enjoyed the work. Why, then, had he quit?

Listen to this: “I missed my wife and kids, and I missed Sunday Mass. Up in the mountains, at the site, we were over a hundred miles from the nearest Catholic church, so I could only go to Mass one Sunday a month, when I was home. The job — as much as I loved it — was ruining my marriage, my family, and my faith. It had to go!”

Talk about an inspirational Christmas card!

The power, the meaning, the beauty, the necessity of Sunday Mass … Just ask my friend.

Anybody fifty or older can remember when faithful attendance at Sunday Mass was the norm for all Catholics. To miss Sunday Eucharist, unless you were sick, was unheard of. To be a “practicing Catholic” meant you were at Mass every Sunday. Over 75% of Catholics went to Mass every Sunday.

That should still be the case. Sadly, it is not. Now, the studies tell us, only one-third of us go weekly, perhaps even less in some areas of the archdiocese.

If you want your faith to wither up and die, quit going to Sunday Mass. As the body will die without food, the soul will expire without nourishment. That sustenance comes at the Sunday Eucharist.

How’s this for a resolution for St. Patrick’s Day? Make Mass the centre of your Sunday!

The Sabbath as a Gift to the Jews and from the Jews

One of the joys of being Archbishop of New York is the close contact I have with our “elder brothers in the faith” – to use the wonderful phrase of the Pope John Paul II about the Jewish people. Catholics and Jews work, live, and pray together in this city as they are able to do in very few other places around the world. The welcome the Jewish people have given me here in New York has been a true blessing.

We can learn from each other, and one lesson that the elder brothers can teach the younger brothers is the importance of the Sabbath. Observance of the Sabbath is now, and has been since time immemorial, a constitutive part of being a Jew. Even if many Jews today, like Catholics, no longer observe the Sabbath, it remains a distinctive mark of identity.

The Sabbath is a gift from the Jews to the religious patrimony of the human race. What lies at the heart of this gift? It is our one protest against the tyranny of time. Or perhaps it would be better to say that it is our one refuge from the ravages of time. Or perhaps better still: It is our sanctuary from the daily, petty concerns which can easily fill up every available moment.

New York was home to one of the great rabbi scholars of the twentieth century, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel – an important contributing voice to the progress the Second Vatican Council made in our relations with the Jewish people. One of his most famous books was called simply, The Sabbath. His argument there, still fresh after almost 60 years, is that Judaism is a religion of time more than it is a religion of space. Humans can conquer space, but we are powerless before time. Words from the epilogue of that justly famous book are worth quoting at length:

“Technical civilization is man’s triumph over space. Yet time remains impervious. We can overcome distance but can neither recapture the past nor dig out the future. Man transcends space, and time transcends man. Time is man’s greatest challenge. We all take part in a procession through its realm which never comes to an end but are unable to gain a foothold in it. Its reality is apart and way from us. Space is exposed to our will; we may shape and change the things in space as we please. Time, however, is beyond our reach, beyond our power. It is both near and far, intrinsic to all experience and transcending all experience. It belongs exclusively to God.”

“Time is the process of creation, and things of space are results of creation. When looking at space we see the products of creation; when intuiting time we hear the process of creation. … Things created conceal the Creator. It is the dimension of time wherein man meets God…. On the Sabbath it is given us to share in the holiness that is in the heart of time. Even when the soul is seared, even when no prayer can come out of our tightened throats, the clean, silent rest of the Sabbath leads us to a realm of endless peace, or to the beginning of an awareness of what eternity means. There are few ideas in world of thought which contain so much spiritual power as the idea of the Sabbath.”

The power of the Sabbath! Rabbi Heschel makes the point in great depth, but the experience he speaks of is an ordinary one. It’s the daily grind – we work in the world of space, moving here and there, doing this and that. And then we do it again. And again. The Sabbath breaks though this repetition and inserts something altogether new – the taste of rest, a taste of peace, a taste of eternity. Of this Sacred Scripture speaks: there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10).

In recapturing our sense of Sunday, of the Christian Sabbath, it is important to grasp this key point, that the Sabbath rest is our liberation from the profane and our encounter with the sacred. The Sabbath is not rest so that we can work harder. Listen again to Rabbi Heschel:

“The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life. Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of his work.. .. The Sabbath is not for the sake of the weekdays; the weekdays are for the sake of the Sabbath. It is not an interlude, but the climax of living.”

Living for Sunday

Are we Catholics then living for Sunday? I am afraid if you were to ask someone today whether he lives for Sunday, he might think that you are asking whether he is a football fan!

Don’t get me wrong. I grew up in a family where no sooner were we home from Mass on Sunday than my father was putting the beer in the cooler and looking forward to the baseball game and a barbecue. But that was after we got home from Sunday Mass!

Do we Catholics think that Sunday is the “climax of living”? Do we look forward to Sunday as a day dedicated to the Lord which gives meaning and purpose to our whole week? Or have we become accustomed to a weekend mentality, wherein we sleep late, catch up on chores around the house, run errands, drive the kids to sports, do a little recreation and then fit Sunday Mass in between everything else, if at all?

Pope John Paul II, in an apostolic letter entitled Dies Domini (The Lord’s Day) wrote about the difference between the weekend mentality and a proper Christian Sunday observance.

“The custom of the ‘weekend’ has become more widespread, a weekly period of respite, spent perhaps far from home and often involving participation in cultural, political or sporting activities which are usually held on free days. This social and cultural phenomenon is by no means without its positive aspects if, while respecting true values, it can contribute to people’s development and to the advancement of the life of society as a whole. All of this responds not only to the need for rest, but also to the need for celebration which is inherent in our humanity. Unfortunately, when Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a ‘weekend’, it can happen that people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see the heavens. Hence, though ready to celebrate, they are really incapable of doing so. The disciples of Christ, however, are asked to avoid any confusion between the celebration of Sunday, which should truly be a way of keeping the Lord’s Day holy, and the ‘weekend’, understood as a time of simple rest and relaxation.” (Dies Domini, #4)

As the pace of life quickens, we are in danger of losing weekend rest, let alone true Sabbath rest. So often our weekends have become periods of intense activity – some people might even find it a relief to get back to the regular routine on Monday morning after a frenetic weekend. In such an environment, we need Sunday all the more, to enter into the Sabbath rest of God, to worship Him, and to realize that our salvation comes not from the many good things we do, but from what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

The Church and Sunday

In that letter Dies Domini, Pope John Paul II speaks of Sunday as not only the Lord’s Day, but as the “Day of the Church”. Just as the Sabbath – the seventh day of God’s rest – united the Jewish people and marked the covenant, Sunday expresses what most unites us as disciples of Jesus Christ. We proclaim the Risen Christ, and so our time is marked by Sunday, the first day of the week, the first day of a new creation, the day of a new covenant.

The link between the covenant with Moses and the Sabbath is explicit. After all, the Third Commandment requires us to keep holy the Sabbath. No one would argue that commandments against killing, adultery or lying are optional for Christians. The Sabbath commandment comes before them. It is at the heart of the covenant God made with Moses, shaping the Chosen People. It should be no less for us Christians, with whom God has made a new covenant in Jesus Christ. Before he was elected pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger made this point with his customary insight:

“The account of creation and the Sinai regulations about the Sabbath come from the same source. To understand the account of creation properly, one has to read the Sabbath ordinances of the Torah. Then everything becomes clear. The Sabbath is the sign of the covenant between God and man; it sums up the inward essence of the covenant. If this is so, we can now define the intention of the account of creation as follows: creation exists to be a place for the covenant God wants to make with man. The goal of creation is the covenant, the love story of God and man. The freedom and equality of men, which the Sabbath is meant to bring about, is not a merely anthropological or sociological vision; it can only be understood theo-logically. Only when man is in covenant with God does he become free.” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 26.)

The goal of creation is the covenant! The reason anything exists at all is because God wanted to make a covenant with His people. And if the crown of creation is God’s covenant, how does this act in history remain a present reality? The Sabbath keeps it alive, inserting continually in history the saving work of the Lord, revealing that history in its true depth is the story of God loving, saving, redeeming and sanctifying His people!

Sunday Mass

The idea of the Sabbath making present the covenant reminds us Catholics immediately of the Mass. In the Mass, the one sacrifice of Calvary, the new covenant ratified in the Blood of the Lord Jesus, is made present anew. It is not another sacrifice, but the one sacrifice of the Cross. Is it not repeated, as though Christ were being crucified again, but rather made present to us across time and space.

The heart of Sunday must be the Mass! How could it be anything else? The Mass is nothing else but the supreme work of the Lord Jesus, and nothing else will do to mark the Lord’s day, the day of salvation, the day of the Church!

There are many things that I have to do as Archbishop of New York, but there is nothing more central, no blessing greater, no work more important than offering the Mass on Sunday, whether it be in the morning at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, or later in the day in our parish churches. No matter how much we accomplish during the week by our efforts, nothing can compare to what God does at Mass – drawing together His people into the new covenant, fashioning them together into the communion of the Church, sanctifying them by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and nourishing them by the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus offered on the Cross for the redemption of the world! How can this not be the heart of our week? How can we not live for Sunday and the Sunday Mass?

On this first St. Patrick’s Day as Archbishop of New York, let me make this appeal to all the Catholics of the archdiocese: Make Sunday Mass once again the heart of your week! Put the Sunday Eucharist at the heart of your parishes and your families! Live once again for Sunday!

A Word to my Brother Priests

I consider it a special gift of providence that my first year here in New York has coincided with the Year for Priests. I love being a priest, I love inviting young men to become priests, I loved my years working in the formation of priests. I love the priesthood, and I love my brother priests! Without them, I could do nothing. Without them, the Church could do nothing, for we would then be without the Eucharist, without Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.

In this Year for Priests, we have heard marvellous testimonies from Catholics about how much they love their priests, and how much they appreciate the hard work they do for the sake the Gospel. Too often, the priest’s work is thankless task, but in this year our priests have heard their people thunder thank you! I add my voice to that chorus of gratitude!

If we are to recapture our sense of the Lord’s Day, our priests will lead us. We often hear people tease their priests that they only work one day a week – Sunday! That’s in good fun, for parishioners know that a priest’s work in never done, but there is something to that. For Sunday is the day of our greatest work. It is the Lord’s work, and we are at our most priestly when we consecrate the Lord’s Day by leading the people in the Lord’s own sacrifice. Many priests, who prudently begin preparing their Sunday homilies early in the week, are always thinking about the next Sunday. They live from Sunday to Sunday as it were, their eyes fixed during the week on the Lord’s Day to come. Our priests need to share that sense of Sunday with their parishioners, so that the Church as a whole lives from Sunday to Sunday.

In this year dedicated to Saint John Vianney, it was a gift to make a retreat in Ars last month with the priests of the archdiocese. It was bracing to read the saintly pastor’s homilies, which in their intensity and directness are not what we are accustomed to today. But even if we do not preach as our patron saint did during his time, we can look to him as a model for courageous preaching. Listen to what he preached soon after arriving in Ars, when he notice that Sunday observance was not what it should have been in that village:

“You keep on working, but what you earn ruins your soul and your body. If we ask those who work on Sunday, ‘What have you been doing?,’ they might answer: ‘I have been selling my soul to the devil, crucifying our Lord, and renouncing my baptism. I am doomed to hell. I shall have to weep for all eternity for nothing.’ When I behold people driving carts on Sunday, I think they are carting their souls to hell. Oh! How mistaken in his calculations is the man who toils on Sunday to earn more money or accomplish more work! Can two or three francs compensate for the wrong he has done himself by violating the law of God?”

Hearing those words, we immediately protest: Life is more complicated now and our culture makes it necessary for some to work. Fair enough, but St. John Vianney’s words remind us that we should at least feel a sense of urgency about Sunday observance. Let’s face it – we priests, myself included, have let the words “Sunday obligation” disappear from our vocabulary. But they have not disappeared from the Ten Commandments, or the precepts of the Church, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or simple common sense about practising our faith!

The Curé of Ars may sound harsh to our ears today, but does not the basic point remain? If we do not spare an hour or so to worship God, then does He really occupy the proper place in our life? If the Lord’s Day is apparently no different to any other day, then can we say that He is truly Lord of our life?

I urge you then, my brother priests, to be bold in inviting people back to Sunday Mass who have grown distant from it! Encourage those who are faithfully present to truly make the Lord’s Day a day of rest, a day of the Church, a day for the family. All of us need to rededicate ourselves to Sunday! So much depends on it. For if we let our Sunday observance slide, when it is so clear that the Lord desires it, how can we hope to follow the Lord’s will in more difficult things?

Permit me to make another recommendation to my brother priests. It would bear good fruit in the Year for Priests to return to the apostolic letter Dies Domini. The Pope John Paul II issued it on Pentecost 1998, and obviously it is still highly relevant. It would make good spiritual reading for priests, and might also be suitable for adult faith formation groups, Catholic reading clubs, and parish councils. A deeper study of the theological dimension of the Lord’s Day may well give rise to pastoral initiatives that would further consecrate Sunday. Here I think of the noble tradition of Sunday Vespers, for example. Or Sunday might be a time for visiting the sick and the lonely, the infirm and shut-ins within the parish. Each priest and each parish will find their own ways of celebrating Sunday precisely as the day of the Lord and the day of the Church.

Threats to Sunday

There are many threats to Sunday observance. The more obvious ones may be easier to tackle head on. Do we need to work on Sunday? For some, there may be little choice, but for others it may well be possible to clear Sunday of unnecessary work. Sometimes, it may be a moment of evangelization to tell the boss, “I would like to have Sunday to worship God and be with my family.” It may plant a seed that bear good fruit.

Another obvious challenge is Sunday recreations – particularly children’s sports and other activities. This requires a firmer stand, as recreation is not as essential as work. At the very least, children’s activities should be organized in a way that permits the family to go to Mass, together if possible. There is no denying that this will occasion some sacrifice, but the development of a child is not well-served by indicating that Sunday Mass is secondary to other things. Social, sporting and other activities on Sunday can be a real occasion for family togetherness and fruitful rest. But if just getting to everything on Sunday leaves everyone in the family worn out, then some adjustments need to be made.

A more subtle challenge to authentic Sabbath rest is our communications technology. It is possible to be at home with the family on Sunday but engaged elsewhere, answering emails from work, text messaging friends far away rather than talking to family members in the same house. Indeed, with multiple televisions and computers in the same house, it is possible for members of the family to isolate themselves from each other. A twenty-first century update to Sunday observance may well include a deliberate setting aside of mobile phones, laptops and video games!

Objections to Sunday Mass

Many of you reading this St. Patrick’s Day message already are keeping the Lord’s Day holy. Keep it up.

How about giving this message to someone who no longer does, especially if he or she has stopped going to Sunday Mass? Get ready for the excuses:

– “Sunday is our only free time together.” (Great, what better way to spend that time than by praying together at Mass).

– “I pray my own way.” (Nice idea. But, odds are, you don’t).

– “The sermon is boring.” (You may have a point).

– “I hate all the changes at Mass.” (see below)

– “I want more changes at Mass.” (see above)

– “Until the church makes some changes in its teaching, I’m staying away.” (But, don’t we go to Mass to ask God to change us, not to tell God how we want Him and His Church to change to suit us?)

– “Everybody there is a hypocrite and always judging me.” (Who’s judging whom here?)

. . . and the list goes on.

And the simple fact remains: the Eucharist is the most beautiful, powerful prayer that we have. To miss it is to miss Jesus — His Word, His people, His presence, His Body and Blood.

Saint Patrick, Pray for Us!

We celebrate the saints because they remind us of what is truly important – to get to heaven! The saints are there already and they pray for us that we might follow them in drawing close to Jesus. That’s why the Blessed Mother is the greatest of all the saints, because she is the closest to her divine Son and wants nothing more than to draw us close to Him.

Our Sunday observance, above all our Sunday Eucharist, is our anticipation of that definitive Sabbath rest when we shall enter into the Lord’s Day that will have no end. We need Sunday here below so that we might not lose our path to heaven above! We live on Sunday now what we hope to live forever in heaven.

On my first Feast of Saint Patrick as Archbishop of New York, I extend to all my blessing, ask for a remembrance in your prayers, and promise you mine in return.

+Timothy Michael Dolan

Archbishop of New York

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The "official" position on health care by the U.S. Bishops

16-March-2010 -- Catholic News Agency Share

FULL STATEMENT: USCCB President, Cardinal Francis George on Health Care Bill
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement on the state of health care reform:

The Cost is too High; the Loss is too Great

The Catholic Bishops of the United States have long and consistently advocated for the reform of the American health care system. Their experience in health care and in Catholic parishes has acquainted them with the anguish of mothers who are unable to afford prenatal care, of families unable to ensure quality care for their children, and of those who cannot obtain insurance because of preexisting conditions.

Throughout the discussion on health care over the last year, the bishops have advocated a bipartisan approach to solving our national health care needs. They have urged that all who are sick, injured or in need receive necessary and appropriate medical assistance, and that no one be deliberately killed through an expansion of federal funding of abortion itself or of insurance plans that cover abortion. These are the provisions of the long standing Hyde amendment, passed annually in every federal bill appropriating funds for health care; and surveys show that this legislation reflects the will of the majority of our fellow citizens. The American people and the Catholic bishops have been promised that, in any final bill, no federal funds would be used for abortion and that the legal status quo would be respected.

However, the bishops were left disappointed and puzzled to learn that the basis for any vote on health care will be the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve. Notwithstanding the denials and explanations of its supporters, and unlike the bill approved by the House of Representatives in November, the Senate bill deliberately excludes the language of the Hyde amendment. It expands federal funding and the role of the federal government in the provision of abortion procedures. In so doing, it forces all of us to become involved in an act that profoundly violates the conscience of many, the deliberate destruction of unwanted members of the human family still waiting to be born.

What do the bishops find so deeply disturbing about the Senate bill? The points at issue can be summarized briefly. The status quo in federal abortion policy, as reflected in the Hyde Amendment, excludes abortion from all health insurance plans receiving federal subsidies. In the Senate bill, there is the provision that only one of the proposed multi-state plans will not cover elective abortions – all other plans (including other multi-state plans) can do so, and receive federal tax credits. This means that individuals or families in complex medical circumstances will likely be forced to choose and contribute to an insurance plan that funds abortions in order to meet their particular health needs.

Further, the Senate bill authorizes and appropriates billions of dollars in new funding outside the scope of the appropriations bills covered by the Hyde amendment and similar provisions. As the bill is written, the new funds it appropriates over the next five years, for Community Health Centers for example (Sec. 10503), will be available by statute for elective abortions, even though the present regulations do conform to the Hyde amendment. Regulations, however, can be changed at will, unless they are governed by statute.

Additionally, no provision in the Senate bill incorporates the longstanding and widely supported protection for conscience regarding abortion as found in the Hyde/Weldon amendment. Moreover, neither the House nor Senate bill contains meaningful conscience protection outside the abortion context. Any final bill, to be fair to all, must retain the accommodation of the full range of religious and moral objections in the provision of health insurance and services that are contained in current law, for both individuals and institutions.

This analysis of the flaws in the legislation is not completely shared by the leaders of the Catholic Health Association. They believe, moreover, that the defects that they do recognize can be corrected after the passage of the final bill. The bishops, however, judge that the flaws are so fundamental that they vitiate the good that the bill intends to promote. Assurances that the moral objections to the legislation can be met only after the bill is passed seem a little like asking us, in Midwestern parlance, to buy a pig in a poke.

What is tragic about this turn of events is that it needn’t have happened. The status quo that has served our national consensus and respected the consciences of all with regard to abortion is the Hyde amendment. The House courageously included an amendment applying the Hyde policy to its Health Care bill passed in November. Its absence in the Senate bill and the resulting impasse are not an accident. Those in the Senate who wanted to purge the Hyde amendment from this national legislation are obstructing the reform of health care.

This is not quibbling over technicalities. The deliberate omission in the Senate Bill of the necessary language that could have taken this moral question off the table and out of play leaves us still looking for a way to meet the President’s and our concern to provide health care for those millions whose primary care physician is now an emergency room doctor. As Pope Benedict told Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel H. Diaz when he presented his credentials as the United States government’s representative to the Holy See, there is “an indissoluble bond between an ethic of life and every other aspect of social ethics.”

Two basic principles, therefore, continue to shape the concerns of the Catholic bishops: health care means taking care of the health needs of all, across the human life span; and the expansion of health care should not involve the expansion of abortion funding and of polices forcing everyone to pay for abortions. Because these principles have not been respected, despite the good that the bill under consideration intends or might achieve, the Catholic bishops regretfully hold that it must be opposed unless and until these serious moral problems are addressed.

It's St. Patrick's Day

This provided by one of my many faith-filled Catholic facebook friends Nicholas Cardarelli. Hopefully we will remember St. Patrick tomorrow as a real Saint who did God's work:

The real story behind Saint Patrick's Day!!!!

Before we don our "kiss me I'm Irish... today!" shirts, leprechaun hats, or drink ourselves blind with green beer, I thought you would like to know about the real Saint Patrick.

My blog tells in brief about a boy who was captured by savages, sold into slavery, escaped home as a young man and out of love for the very people that had made him a slave, returned to set them free from the bondage of their sins and bring them the peace that only comes from knowing Jesus Christ.

Enjoy and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints.

Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 461.

Along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, the secular world shares our love of these saints. This is also a day when everyone's Irish.

There are many legends and stories of St. Patrick, but this is his story.

Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies.

As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.

During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote "The love of God and respect for him grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was raised, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same." "I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."

Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain, where he reunited with his family.

He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more."

He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.

After many long years, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and his request to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Ireland was accepted. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.

Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, helping many find the truth and peace of Jesus. He and his disciples preached and baptized thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Jesus’ message from Patrick.

Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later became canonized saints as well).

Patrick preached and baptized all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.

He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.

Why a shamrock?
Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and has been associated with him and the Irish since that time.

In His Footsteps:
Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to and trust in God should be a shining example to each of us. He feared nothing, not even death, so complete was his trust in God, and of the importance of his mission.

For even more info on the real Saint Patrick visit the Catholic Encyclopedia online at Saint Patrick

Lenten Devotion the 14th Station of the Cross

Jesus is laid in the tomb
We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
For by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:59-61

Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulcher.


Jesus, disgraced and mistreated, is honorably buried in a new tomb. Nicodemus brings a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight, which gives off a precious scent. In the Son's self-offering, as at his anointing in Bethany, we see an "excess" which evokes God's generous and superabundant love. God offers himself unstintingly. If God's measure is superabundance, then we for our part should consider nothing too much for God. This is the teaching of Jesus himself, in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:20). But we should also remember the words of Saint Paul, who says that God "through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. We are the aroma of Christ" (2 Cor 2:14ff.). Amid the decay of ideologies, our faith needs once more to be the fragrance which returns us to the path of life. At the very moment of his burial, Jesus' words are fulfilled: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (Jn 12:24). Jesus is the grain of wheat which dies. From that lifeless grain of wheat comes forth the great multiplication of bread which will endure until the end of the world. Jesus is the bread of life which can satisfy superabundantly the hunger of all humanity and provide its deepest nourishment. Through his Cross and Resurrection, the eternal Word of God became flesh and bread for us. The mystery of the Eucharist already shines forth in the burial of Jesus.


Lord Jesus Christ, in your burial you have taken on the death of the grain of wheat. You have become the lifeless grain of wheat which produces abundant fruit for every age and for all eternity. From the tomb shines forth in every generation the promise of the grain of wheat which gives rise to the true manna, the Bread of Life, in which you offer us your very self. The eternal Word, through his Incarnation and death, has become a Word which is close to us: you put yourself into our hands and into our hearts, so that your word can grow within us and bear fruit. Through the death of the grain of wheat you give us yourself, so that we too can dare to lose our life in order to find it, so that we too can trust the promise of the grain of wheat. Help us grow in love and veneration for your Eucharistic mystery ­ to make you, the Bread of heaven, the source of our life. Help us to become your "fragrance", and to make known in this world the mysterious traces of your life. Like the grain of wheat which rises from the earth, putting forth its stalk and then its ear, you could not remain enclosed in the tomb: the tomb is empty because he ­ the Father ­ "did not abandon you to the nether world, nor let your flesh see corruption" (Acts 2:31; Ps 16:10 LXX). No, you did not see corruption. You have risen, and have made a place for our transfigured flesh in the very heart of God. Help us to rejoice in this hope and bring it joyfully to the world. Help us to become witnesses of your resurrection.

Lenten Devotion the 13th Station of the Cross

Jesus is taken down from the Cross and given to his Mother
We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
For by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:54-55

When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!" There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.


Jesus is dead. From his heart, pierced by the lance of the Roman soldier, flow blood and water: a mysterious image of the stream of the sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, by which the Church is constantly reborn from the opened heart of the Lord. Jesus' legs are not broken, like those of the two men crucified with him. He is thus revealed as the true Paschal lamb, not one of whose bones must be broken (cf. Es 12:46). And now, at the end of his sufferings, it is clear that, for all the dismay which filled men's hearts, for all the power of hatred and cowardice, he was never alone. There are faithful ones who remain with him. Under the Cross stand Mary, his Mother, the sister of his Mother, Mary, Mary Magdalen and the disciple whom he loved. A wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea, appears on the scene: a rich man is able to pass through the eye of a needle, for God has given him the grace. He buries Jesus in his own empty tomb, in a garden. At Jesus' burial, the cemetery becomes a garden, the garden from which Adam was cast out when he abandoned the fullness of life, his Creator. The garden tomb symbolizes that the dominion of death is about to end. A member of the Sanhedrin also comes along, Nicodemus, to whom Jesus had proclaimed the mystery of rebirth by water and the Spirit. Even in the Sanhedrin, which decreed his death, there is a believer, someone who knows and recognizes Jesus after his death. In this hour of immense grief, of darkness and despair, the light of hope is mysteriously present. The hidden God continues to be the God of life, ever near. Even in the night of death, the Lord continues to be our Lord and Savior. The Church of Jesus Christ, his new family, begins to take shape.


Lord, you descended into the darkness of death. But your body is placed in good hands and wrapped in a white shroud (Mt 27:59). Faith has not completely died; the sun has not completely set. How often does it appear that you are asleep? How easy it is for us to step back and say to ourselves: "God is dead". In the hour of darkness, help us to know that you are still there. Do not abandon us when we are tempted to lose heart. Help us not to leave you alone. Give us the fidelity to withstand moments of confusion and a love ready to embrace you in your utter helplessness, like your Mother, who once more holds you to her breast. Help us, the poor and rich, simple and learned, to look beyond all our fears and prejudices, and to offer you our abilities, our hearts and our time, and thus to prepare a garden for the Resurrection.

From prison comes inspiration

Of the many things that absolutely amazed me this past weekend at the prison retreat was this:

Action & Love

As the dawn brings new days
the cross that stands by the light
Open our eyes to brand new sight

The action of God, strong in our prayers
His presence of Love, never unaware

Bless us Lord with Love we pray
from now unto the end of days!

This awesome poem was handed to me by one of the inmates after a talk and some prayer and share on Saturday. I choose to copy it, with his permission and leave him with the one he wrote. I trust this is a tangible sign of a mighty movement of God in his life. What a blessing to share this with everyone!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Blessings that just keep flowing

Or, this could be titled miscellaneous musings on a Monday night...After receiving so many wonderful blessings from the weekend retreat at the prison I still have seen blessings flow. I have received so many inquiries from many friends about the retreat and may even have a few possible team members for the next retreat. And today I was blessed with the opportunity to reach out and talk with someone in need. And tonight I went to my parish church to see if we could have Adoration and Benediction for 7th graders. You see our sanctaury is being renovated and the old stain glass windows are being replaced with new ones. Not only was I able to figure out a way to have the Adoration and Benediction but I got to see the meticulous work of a dedicated 80 something yearl old priest who made the new windows and is on the job installing them. Amazing!

The 7th graders were pretty amazing themselves tonight; worshipping and taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. With the Blessed Sacrament placed on a table, the children were able to get very close to the Eucharist. I watched their teacher bring them up, one-by-one, and stand and prayer right in front of the monstrance. More blessings!

And tonight again I've been blessed by a quiet night at home, a nice chance to just sit and talk with the Mrs. and spend some time praying and reflecting.

God is truly good; all the time!

Lenten Devotion the 12th Station of the Cross

Jesus dies on the Cross
We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
For by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to John 19:19-20

Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the Cross; it read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews". Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:45-50,54

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" That is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "This man is calling Elijah". And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him". And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit". When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"


In Greek and Latin, the two international languages of the time, and in Hebrew, the language of the Chosen People, a sign stood above the Cross of Jesus, indicating who he was: the King of the Jews, the promised Son of David. Pilate, the unjust judge, became a prophet despite himself. The kingship of Jesus was proclaimed before all the world. Jesus himself had not accepted the title "Messiah", because it would have suggested a mistaken, human idea of power and deliverance. Yet now the title can remain publicly displayed above the Crucified Christ. He is indeed the king of the world. Now he is truly "lifted up". In sinking to the depths he rose to the heights. Now he has radically fulfilled the commandment of love, he has completed the offering of himself, and in this way he is now the revelation of the true God, the God who is love. Now we know who God is. Now we know what true kingship is. Jesus prays Psalm 22, which begins with the words: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Ps 22:2). He takes to himself the whole suffering people of Israel, all of suffering humanity, the drama of God's darkness, and he makes God present in the very place where he seems definitively vanquished and absent. The Cross of Jesus is a cosmic event. The world is darkened, when the Son of God is given up to death. The earth trembles. And on the Cross, the Church of the Gentiles is born. The Roman centurion understands this, and acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God. From the Cross he triumphs ­ ever anew.


Lord Jesus Christ, at the hour of your death the sun was darkened. Ever anew you are being nailed to the Cross. At this present hour of history we are living in God's darkness. Through your great sufferings and the wickedness of men, the face of God, your face, seems obscured, unrecognizable. And yet, on the Cross, you have revealed yourself. Precisely by being the one who suffers and loves, you are exalted. From the Cross on high you have triumphed. Help us to recognize your face at this hour of darkness and tribulation. Help us to believe in you and to follow you in our hour of darkness and need. Show yourself once more to the world at this hour. Reveal to us your salvation.

Lenten Devotion the 11th Station of the Cross

Jesus is nailed to the Cross
We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
For by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:37-42

And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews". Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right hand and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross". So also the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the Cross and we will believe in him".


Jesus is nailed to the Cross. The shroud of Turin gives us an idea of the unbelievable cruelty of this procedure. Jesus does not drink the numbing gall offered to him: he deliberately takes upon himself all the pain of the Crucifixion. His whole body is racked; the words of the Psalm have come to pass: "But I am a worm and no man, scorned by men, rejected by the people" (Ps 22:7). "As one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised... surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Is 53:3f.). Let us halt before this image of pain, before the suffering Son of God. Let us look upon him at times of presumptuousness and pleasure, in order to learn to respect limits and to see the superficiality of all merely material goods. Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation, and realize that it is then that we are closest to God. Let us try to see his face in the people we might look down upon. As we stand before the condemned Lord, who did not use his power to come down from the Cross, but endured its suffering to the end, another thought comes to mind. Ignatius of Antioch, a prisoner in chains for his faith in the Lord, praised the Christians of Smyrna for their invincible faith: he says that they were, so to speak, nailed with flesh and blood to the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1). Let us nail ourselves to him, resisting the temptation to stand apart, or to join others in mocking him.


Lord Jesus Christ, you let yourself be nailed to the Cross, accepting the terrible cruelty of this suffering, the destruction of your body and your dignity. You allowed yourself to be nailed fast; you did not try to escape or to lessen your suffering. May we never flee from what we are called to do. Help us to remain faithful to you. Help us to unmask the false freedom which would distance us from you. Help us to accept your "binding" freedom, and, "bound" fast to you, to discover true freedom.

Another New Orleans Saint?

Reading through the Clarion Herald, our local Archdiocese newspaper, I noticed the front page article about a possible new Saint from New Orleans. Henriette Delille, whose cause for canonization began well over 10 years ago is just a short step away from being declared "venerable". This is an important step toward beatification and possibly canonization. All that awaits is approval from Pope Benedict after the approval of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Already called Servant of God, Henriette Delille practiced heroic virtue during her ministry to slaves and African Americans while founding a religious order, the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans before the Civil War.

A possible medical miracle already exists for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to thoroughly investigate. Marilyn Groves, who was suffering from a serious pulmonary disease when she was 4 is now fully healed at the age of 16. Marilyn happens to be the grand niece of a Holy Family nun , Sister Doris, who is the local coordinator for her cause. She had the family, her nuns and the students at a local high school praying for Marilyn invoking the intercession of Delille.

Mother Henriette Delille founded her religious order to educate and care for slaves and elderly African Americans when it was illegal to educate slaves. She was a free woman of color and is considered a Creole because of her ancestry.

I hope you will join me in praying for the cause of Mother Henriette Delille to become a true New Orleans Saint!

Lenten Devotion the 10th Station of the Cross

Jesus is stripped of his garments
We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
For by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to Matthew. 27:33-36

And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull), they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there.


Jesus is stripped of his garments. Clothing gives a man his social position; it gives him his place in society, it makes him someone. His public stripping means that Jesus is no longer anything at all, he is simply an outcast, despised by all alike. The moment of the stripping reminds us of the expulsion from Paradise: God's splendor has fallen away from man, who now stands naked and exposed, unclad and ashamed. And so Jesus once more takes on the condition of fallen man. Stripped of his garments, he reminds us that we have all lost the "first garment" that is God's splendor. At the foot of the Cross, the soldiers draw lots to divide his paltry possessions, his clothes. The Evangelists describe the scene with words drawn from Psalm 22:19; by doing so they tell us the same thing that Jesus would tell his disciples on the road to Emmaus: that everything takes place "according to the Scriptures". Nothing is mere coincidence; everything that happens is contained in the Word of God and sustained by his divine plan. The Lord passes through all the stages and steps of man's fall from grace, yet each of these steps, for all its bitterness, becomes a step towards our redemption: this is how he carries home the lost sheep. Let us not forget that John says that lots were drawn for Jesus' tunic, "woven without seam from top to bottom" (Jn 19:23). We may consider this as a reference to the High Priest's robe, which was "woven from a single thread", without stitching (Fl. Josephus, a III, 161). For he, the Crucified One, is the true High Priest.


Lord Jesus, you were stripped of your garments, exposed to shame, cast out of society. You took upon yourself the shame of Adam, and you healed it. You also take upon yourself the sufferings and the needs of the poor, the outcasts of our world. And in this very way you fulfill the words of the prophets. This is how you bring meaning into apparent meaninglessness. This is how you make us realize that your Father holds you, us, and the whole world in his hands. Give us a profound respect for man at every stage of his existence, and in all the situations in which we encounter him. Clothe us in the light of your

Lenten Devotion the 9th Station of the Cross

Jesus falls for the third time
We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
For by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Book of Lamentations. 3:27-32

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when he has laid it on him; let him put his mouth in the dust - there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults. For the Lord will not cast off for ever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.


What can the third fall of Jesus under the Cross say to us? We have considered the fall of man in general, and the falling of many Christians away from Christ and into a godless secularism. Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall! All this is present in his Passion. His betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison ­ Lord, save us (cf. Mt 8: 25).


Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered. But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all.