reflections, updates and homilies from Deacon Mike Talbot inspired by the following words from my ordination: Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach...
St. Junipero Serra Feastday: July 1 Patron: of Vocations
Beatified: Pope John Paul II
Canonized: September 23, 2015, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., by Pope Francis
Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November 24, 1713, and took the name of Junipero when in 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. Ordained in 1737, he taught philosophy and theology at the University of Padua until 1749.
At the age of thirty-seven, he landed in Mexico City on January 1, 1750, and spent the rest of his life working for the conversion of the peoples of the New World.
In 1768, Father Serra took over the missions of the Jesuits (who had been wrongly expelled by the government)in the Mexican province of Lower California and Upper California (modern day California). An indefatigable worker, Serra was in large part responsible for the foundation and spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States when it was still mission territory.
He founded twenty-one missions and converted thousands of Indians. The converts were taught sound methods of agriculture, cattle raising, and arts and crafts.
Junipero was a dedicated religious and missionary. He was imbued with a penitential spirit and practiced austerity in sleep, eating, and other activities. On August 28, 1784, worn out by his apostolic labors, Father Serra was called to his eternal rest. He was beatified by Pope JohnPaul II on September 25, 1988. His statue, representing the state of California, is in National Statuary Hall. His feast day is July 1
Usually this time of year I write a long article about the heat, cutting grass, how I hate summer, and can't stand hurricanes and tropical storms. Well this year is no different it just amongst the crap fest that is 2020.
Quite simply, as we Catholics go deeper into what we call Ordinary Time, there is precious little ordinary. Despite what we were told in April and even May, the high heat of June would wash the Coronavirus out, Phase 2 would easily transition to Phase 3 and we all would be living the high life.
Wrong and wrong and wrong some more. Coronavirus is actually on the grow, spiking, changing the dynamic with each twist and turn. Despite the different political camps claiming this and accusing thus, the economy is pretty much in shambles. Yes, hopeful signs exist, and more people are trying hard than giving up, but there are plenty of underlying signs that are not good. And if that was not enough, let's expose some high profile, really bad cop action, resulting in the death of several unarmed black citizens, most notably George Floyd and the nation is set on fire. Yes, there have been many peaceful protests and more progress made in the social condition, but continued police abuse and murder must end and destroying other people's lives and properties must end too. Oh how we need some help.
So far the Deacon has managed to avoid the bad illness and tries very hard. Let me tell you before this gets more lengthy: I wash my hands so much more than pre Covid-19, I am almost a stock holder in hand sanitizer, and yes, I wear a mask. And I believe you should too. You see I do believe you are protecting me by wearing a mask as I do my best to protect you. No need to debate this because you will not change my mind. Wendy, while never having Coronavirus, just never catches a break with all things medical. She had fever and an internal infection then a viral infection which resulted in dozens of fever blisters inside her mouth. Sounds gross, huh? Yep, it was. Thankfully she is all healed up now and trying to get active.
We began the month with Wendy still living in Slidell assisting my daughter as we welcomed her newest, Walker, into the world in late May. Practicing strict social distancing, it would take his baptism, just a few days ago, to finally hold my 4th grandchild. Walker is a great little baby, doing great and was a trooper for his baptism; never crying a peep. I love how responsive to him our granddaughter Brennan has been and seems to like her role as big sister. But she is also very much a 27-month old. I jokingly told my daughter there was a reason why we waited many years between kids. Of course there is much more to that story.
Wendy returned home from her 2month sleep-over, primarily because she got sick. I had a pretty good little bachelor routine going here at home. I was both remarkably and surprisingly efficient. I began a new routine I think is going to become permanent: bed time by 9 pm if not sooner!! I wake up feeling great or at least better.
I surely need to acknowledge that time for being more efficient comes in part because not everything is wide open thanks to the pandemic. Tuesday night Bible study; we've postponed resumption until September, prison ministry is still not allowed by the state department of corrections; surely miss those guys. KC meetings on Thursday night just resumed recently. We still live stream masses and are limited to 50% in attendance so even assisting at mass feels a little different. And just a week ago, I preached for the first time since March 8th.
Today I completed the month of June by assisting and preaching at the funeral mass of a local icon, Ed Jeanfreau, who was our charter Grand Knight, charter Faithful Navigator and a pioneer in building a really robust Pro-Life program at St. Jane parish.
So tomorrow is July 1st. Know what? That means many more days of high heat and humidity, grass that grows too fast and the ever present threat of something tropical. But can we predict what will happen with Coronavirus or the current state of racial tension or the economy or the approaching national election? The answer is no because all those things are unpredictable and subject to change. But unchangeable is God's love for us, His desire to be with us always. Despite everything that 2020 has become, God is on the throne and very much in charge. And Jesus is still the Savior who died for us to save us. The Holy Spirit is still our source of His seven-fold gifts. And the church, Holy Mother Church, is still there for us, even in times of anxiety, stress and uncertainty. It's the only thing certain these days!
You bet I'm concerned about all the things we have been through since 2020 rolled around but I am going to wake up on July 1st with as much energy and faith I can muster. I have an awesome family including those 4 grandchildren and a life that includes my ordained commitment to serve God by serving others. So let's plan to see each other, to traverse together, the July that God gives us.
Many martyrs who suffered death under Emperor Nero . Owing to their executions during the reign of Emperor Nero, they are called the Neronian Martyrs, and they are also termed the Protomartyrs of Rome, being honored by the site in Vatican City called the Piazza of the Protomartyrs. These early Christians were disciples of the Apostles, and they endured hideous tortures and ghastly deaths following the burning of Rome in the infamous fire of 62.Their dignity in suffering, and their fervor to the end, did not provide Nero or the Romans with the public diversion desired. Instead, the faith was firmly planted in the Eternal City.
A STATEMENT RESPONDING TO THE SUPREME COURT DECISION IN JUNE MEDICAL SERVICES V. RUSSO
Today the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in the June Medical Services v Russo case to strike down a Louisiana law that would have required abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges. This is very disappointing to us as people of faith who believe in the dignity of human life. We believed this law would have protected women from the possibility of harmful medical care preventing long-term health issues for them and saving lives.
As Catholics, we see abortion as an action that denies the fundamental human right to life and harms women physically, mentally, and emotionally. We will continue to pray and fight for justice for mothers and children and offer them the support needed to choose life. We invite all people of faith to pray for women seeking abortion, often under enormous pressure, that they will find alternatives that truly value them and the lives of their children.
Pro-life activists gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington June 29, 2020. (CNS/Reuters/Carlos Barria)
Washington — In a 5-4 decision June 29, the Supreme Court ruled that a Louisiana law requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals could not stand.
The opinion in June Medical Services v. Russo, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, said the case was “similar to, nearly identical with” a law in Texas that the court four years ago found to be a burden to women seeking abortion. Breyer was joined in the opinion by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Breyer said the Louisiana law was unconstitutional because it posed a “substantial obstacle” for women seeking abortions while providing “no significant health-related benefits.”
The Texas case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, struck down the law with a different bench without Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The court said the requirements imposed on abortion providers — to have hospital admitting privileges — put “a substantial burden” on women who were seeking abortions and the law wasn’t necessary to protect women’s health.
In the Louisiana case, Chief Justice John Roberts filed an opinion concurring in the judgment of the four justices voting to strike down this law even though four years ago, he joined the dissenting opinion in the Texas decision. Last year, he sided with the justices who agreed to stop the Louisiana law from going into effect while its challengers pursued their appeal.
“The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons,” Roberts said, adding: “Therefore, Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”
He said the legal doctrine known as “stare decisis” — which obligates courts to follow the precedent of similar cases — “requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike.”
In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas said the court’s decision “perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction.”
He also said the court should revisit its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. “Roe is grievously wrong for many reasons,” he wrote, emphasizing that its “core holding — that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to abort her unborn child — finds no support in the text of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson, a Democrat, who was the author of the 2014 Unsafe Abortion Protection Act at the center of this case, said the court’s action was a “tragic decision that continues its practice of putting the interests of for-profit abortion businesses ahead of the health and safety of women.”
Supporters of the Louisiana law said it was a necessary regulation to guarantee women’s health and safety while its critics argued that the law placed unnecessary burdens on abortion providers and made it more difficult for women to get abortions.
More than 70 friend-of-the-court briefs were filed on both sides of this case with health care professionals, researchers, lawmakers, states, and religious and advocacy groups alike weighing in. Catholics groups that filed briefs in support of the state law included: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Thomas More Society and the National Association of Catholic Nurses along with the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
Members of Congress filed two briefs on opposing sides.
In a statement after the oral arguments in March, Kat Talalas, with the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said: “Louisiana is right to prioritize women over abortion industry profits. All states, not only Louisiana, have a strong interest in regulating a procedure which is lethal to children and immensely damaging to women.”
And after the ruling, O. Carter Snead, law professor at the University of Notre Dame and director of the university’s Center for Ethics and Culture, said the court “has once again overstepped its constitutionally defined role and robbed the people of this country the authority to govern themselves — even at the margins — on this vital and deeply divisive matter.”
“The court has undermined the rule of law, done further violence to the Constitution, and has thus badly damaged its own legitimacy,” he said, adding: “This is a sad day for the court and the nation.”
Pope at Angelus: Recognizing Jesus as the living God is secret to happy life
At the Angelus prayer on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Francis invites Christians to make their lives a gift and to recognize Jesus as the living God.
By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
During his Angelus on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Francis reflected on the life of Saint Peter, contrasting his deliverance from prison by an angel in Monday’s First Reading (Acts 12: 1 – 11), with his later imprisonment in Rome and martyrdom.
Pope Francis asked: “How come he (Saint Peter) was first spared the trial, and then not?”
Making our lives a gift
Pope Francis explained that the Lord granted Saint Peter “many graces and freed him from evil” in the same way that He does to us.
Even though we often go to God “only in moments of need”, he pointed out, “God sees beyond and invites us to go further, to seek not only His gifts, but Him; to entrust to Him not only problems, but life.”
In this way, God “can finally give us the greatest grace, that of giving life”, because the “most important thing in life is to make life a gift.”
Pope Francis pointed out that "God desires making us grow in giving" as "only in this way can we become great."
Recalling the example of Saint Peter, Pope Francis said that “he did not become a hero because he was freed from prison, but because he gave his life there.”
Saint Peter “transformed a place of execution into the beautiful place of hope in which we find ourselves,” said the Pope.
A blessed and happy life
“Here is what to ask of God: not only the grace of the moment, but the grace of life,” said Pope Francis.
Citing the Gospel reading from Mt 16: 13 – 19, the Holy Father said that Jesus’s question to his apostles about his identity and Peter’s response changed the life of Saint Peter.
Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do you say I am?”. And Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. And Jesus continued, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah” (Mt 16: 16-17).
Pope Francis explained that Jesus’s word “blessed” means “happy”. Jesus said “you are blessed” in response to Peter who proclaimed Jesus as “the living God”.
The secret of a blessed and happy life therefore, is “recognizing Jesus, but Jesus as the living God,” he said.
The place of Jesus in our lives
Pope Francis explained that Simon’s name was changed to “rock” when Jesus said: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Mt. 16: 18). This was not because Peter was a “solid and trustworthy man” rather, because “Jesus is the rock on which Simon became stone.”
He added that “it is not important to know that Jesus was great in history” nor is it important “to appreciate what He said or did.” Rather, what matters is “the place I give Him in my life.”
In this regard, the Pope invited us to ask ourselves: “How do I arrange my life? Do I think only of the needs of the moment or do I believe that my real need is Jesus, who makes me a gift? And how do I build life, on my capacities or on the living God?"
In conclusion, Pope Francis prayed that Our Lady, who entrusted everything to God, might help us to put Him at the center of our daily lives.
Pope at Mass: Let us be challenged by Jesus, like Peter and Paul
On the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, Pope Francis invites us to be builders of unity and prophets of God’s heaven on earth. In keeping with health precautions, the Holy Father celebrated Mass at the “Altar of the Chair” in St Peter’s Basilica, with the participation of a limited number of the faithful.
By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis offered Mass for the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul in the Vatican Basilica, built over the tomb of St Peter. In accordance with a long-standing tradition, the Holy Father also blessed the pallia, an ecclesiastical garment presented to metropolitan archbishops as a symbol of unity with the Holy See.
In his homily, the Pope reflected on the themes of “unity” and “prophecy.”
Unity the fruit of prayer
Although very different in experience and personality, Peter and Paul were united as brothers, the Holy Father said. Their closeness to one another was not a result of natural inclination, he explained, but came from the Lord, who commands us to love one another. “He is the one who unites us,” the Pope said, “without making us all alike.”
Pope Francis explained that the source of unity is prayer, and pointed to the example of the Church praying together for St Peter when he was in prison. The faithful of the time did not complain about persecution but gathered together in prayer.
If we spent more time in prayer and less time complaining, the Pope said, “so many doors would be opened, so many chains that bind would be broken.”
Prophecy follow challenges
The challenges faced by Peter and Paul led to “prophecy,” the second theme of the Pope’s homily. “The Apostles were challenged by Jesus,” the Pope said: Peter, when Jesus asked the Apostles, “Who do you say that I am?”; and Paul, when Jesus asked him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“These challenges and reversals,” the Pope said, “are followed by prophecies.” At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus tells Peter he will be the rock on which He will found His Church. Paul, after his conversion, became the Lord’s “chosen instrument” to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles.
“Prophecy is born whenever we allow ourselves to be challenged by God,” said Pope Francis.
Need for real prophecy
“Today we need prophecy, real prophecy,” he continued. Real prophecy does not consist in spectacular displays, but in bearing witness in one’s life to the love of God: “This is how Peter and Paul preached Jesus, as men in love with God.”
Their love led them to offer their lives as martyrs: “That was prophecy,” the Pope said, “and it changed history.”
Recalling once again the Lord’s prophecy to Peter, the rock, Pope Francis said there is a similar promise for us.
“Just as the Lord turned Simon into Peter,” the Pope explained, “so He is calling each one of us, in order to make us living stones with which to build a renewed Church and a renewed unity.”
Pope Francis concluded inviting everyone to allow ourselves to “be challenged by Jesus” and to respond to His call to be “builders of unity” and “prophets of God’s heaven on earth.”
Photos of the Mass for the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul