July 27, 2016

Fr. Jacques Hamel

Of course we find ourselves yesterday and today praying for Fr. Jacques, for his eternal rest and in thanksgiving for his vocation and ministry and for the eternal reward of his labors and witness. Nor do we forget to pray for the other hostage who was hurt. And we pray for the men who murdered Fr. Jacques, that they may find the rest that perhaps they didn't know in this life, that they may find  a truer face of the merciful God than perhaps they had known.

Fr. Jacques would have begun the Mass, leading the people in the prayer of the Sacrifice as he had done thousands of times before. Could he have known as he did so on a proverbially plain Tuesday of Ordinary Time that he would be brutally murdered before it was over? And yet everything I've read about him says that he had lived as to prepare for such a moment, in generosity and priestly dedication.

We all have this call before us. In this world, increasing hostile to the God revealed in Jesus Christ, there will be more martyrs in the traditional sense. But all of us who are believers will face some kind of martyrdom, some invitation to suffer, to be limited, cut short or cut out for the sake of the Gospel, whether by those committed to religion that doesn't realize it has been delivered from the blood-drinking gods of human invention by the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ or by those whose secularism becomes intolerant and dogmatic--as it must, for it has nothing to stand on but its self-referential insistence on its own truth, even as it often denies that there is even such a thing as 'truth.'

It is our task to be prepared for this moment, that we also may be found faithful. The Lord himself invites us to witness. The world needs it desperately, for it has no idea how to respond to the violence. It has no idea how to respond because it has lost any place from which to speak or reason, any foundation on which to stand. That foundation, that place to begin, can only be the living God, the self-emptying God revealed in Jesus Christ, and the more the world forgets him, its own Creator, Source, and Ground, the more God himself will look for martyrs.

July 23, 2016

Latin Doubts Changing World Ramble

There are those who like to think that liturgical Latin has been making comeback. Not that it needs to of course; as goes the oft quoted section 36 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican II, Linguae latinae usus, salvo particulari iure, in Ritibus latinis servetur. "Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites."

Recent experience has made me doubt, however.

July 18, 2016

Prayer Ramble Lament for the World

In these days I have been mourning with the world. So many attacks, so many murders.

When I first came to Rome you could walk right into three out of the four major basilicas in Rome: the Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul's. And I did so, pretty often. Since the attacks in Paris last year, you have to go through security. It's a reminder of the world we live in and those who have been murdered in it.

How do I pray? What is my lament to God?

July 16, 2016

The Franciscan Theology of Fundraising

The Franciscan traditions provides Franciscan friars with a simple and robust theology of fundraising.

Thomas of Celano, the first biographer of St. Francis, records his words:

"There is a contract between the world and the brothers: the brothers must give the world a good example, the world must provide for their needs. When they break faith and withdraw good example, the world will withdraw its hand in just censure."

(Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul / 2nd Life of St. Francis, XL/86:4, trans. Placid Hermann, OFM)

July 15, 2016

Feast of St. Bonaventure

By gift or blessed coincidence, my turn to preside at the community Mass fell on today, the feast of our Seraphic Doctor St. Bonaventure.

I had some time to spend with him, so I returned to some texts and thought about what I might give for a homily. In the end I landed on Bonaventure's account of St. Francis descending the mountain after the experience of the stigmata:
After true love for Christ transformed the lover into his image, when the forty days were over that he spent in solitude as he had desired, and the feast of St. Michael the Archangel had also arrived, the angelic man Francis came down from the mountain, bearing with him the likeness of the crucified, depicted not on tablets of stone or on panels of wood carved by hand, but engraved on parts of his flesh by the finger of the living God. (Major Legend XIII:5)

July 9, 2016

Veronica Giuliani

This year the feast of St. Veronica Giuliani, Capuchin Poor Clare abbess and one of the great characters of our Capuchin tradition, is suppressed by the XV Sunday of Ordinary Time tomorrow.

This past week, however, was my turn taking the morning Mass at the General Curia of the Capuchin Sisters of Mother Rubatto, and the sisters asked me if I would celebrate St. Veronica's Mass today, on Saturday. It seemed a little irregular to me, but no other celebration in particular obliged today, and since I'm more flexible when I'm a guest (cf. how I once celebrated the previously unknown liturgical day of Ash Sunday) I said fine, nice idea.

(Left to my own devices I probably would have taken either the optional memorial of Nicholas Pieck and companions, the Franciscans among the Martyrs of Gorkum, or the regular memorial of Our Lady on Saturday.)

Never having read St. Veronica and feeling thus inadequate to preach about her, I brought a selection from another priest's words on her:
In particular, Veronica proved a courageous witness of the beauty and power of Divine Love which attracted her, pervaded her and inflamed her. Crucified Love was impressed within her flesh as it was in that of St Francis of Assisi, with Jesus’ stigmata. “‘My Bride’, the Crucified Christ whispers to me, ‘the penance you do for those who suffer my disgrace is dear to me’.... Then detaching one of his arms from the Cross he made a sign to me to draw near to his side... and I found myself in the arms of the Crucified One. What I felt at that point I cannot describe: I should have liked to remain for ever in his most holy side” (ibid., I, 37). This is also an image of her spiritual journey, of her interior life: to be in the embrace of the Crucified One and thus to remain in Christ's love for others.
(Pope Benedict XVI, general audience of December 15, 2010)

June 29, 2016

Have a Pope-Blessed Rosary? Pray It Today!

This is something that I only discovered recently. Someone had given me a Pope Francis rosary, complete with his coat of arms on the center piece and said to have been blessed by him personally. But then I wondered to myself, in so many words, so what? Is a rosary blessed by a pope any better than a rosary blessed by any other priest?

Well, the truth is, yes. But only one day a year. And that day is today, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.