March 27, 2016


We had an Easter Vigil  here in the house last night. It was a homely, disorganized business. I should have listened better to rubric #3 that the Missale Romanum provides at the beginning of the Sacred Paschal Triduum, where it says that, for the celebrations of the Triduum, smaller communities ought to join themselves to larger parochial and cathedral churches. Oh well, next time, should I still be in this life and find myself in the same circumstances. I have often been led astray by human beings in the practice of the Catholic faith, but never by a careful consideration of and obedience to the rubrics.

Nevertheless, holding my candle at the Vigil, I knew that, spiritually, this was the baptismal candle that Deacon Ron had passed into my hands on the day of my baptism almost twenty-four (!) years ago. (The physical candle, now dry and brittle, lies in pieces with other religious artifacts of my journey, in a box in a basement in Jamaica Plain.)

In the most holy night, it was my job to hold my candle and witness to the baptism I had received as the Church all over the world baptized the elect who are now neophytes this Easter Sunday. I prayed for them as they descended into the waters of the Jordan and passed through the Red Sea, leaving all the machinery of the slavery of Egypt to drown behind them. I prayed for them as the rose again with Christ, having passed through the path he has blazed for us--with the humanity he borrowed from us through the consent of our Blessed Mother--through the misery of sin and the meaninglessness of death to the new life the Risen Lord, whom death, nor any other created thing, could hold.

We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

March 12, 2016

Matins and Babies

From Fr. Cantalamessa's fourth Lenten homily for this year:

"I am speaking from experience here. I belong to a religious order in which, until a few decades ago, we would get up at night to recite the office of Matins that would last about an hour. Then there came a great turning point in religious life after the Council. It seemed that the rhythm of modern life—studies for the younger monks and apostolic ministry for the priests—no longer allowed for this nightly rising that interrupted sleep, and little by little the practice was abandoned except in a few houses of formation.

"When later the Lord had me come to know various young families well through my ministry, I discovered something that startled me but in a good way. These fathers and mothers had to get up not once but two or three times a night to feed a baby, or give it medicine, or rock it if it was crying, or check it for a fever. And in the morning one or both of the parents had to rush off to work at the same time after taking the baby girl or boy to the grandparents or to day-care. There was a time card to punch whether the weather was good or bad and whether their health was good or bad.

"Then I said to myself, if we do not take remedial action we are in grave danger. Our religious way of life, if it is not supported by a genuine observance of the Rule and a certain rigor in our schedule and habits, is in danger of becoming a comfortable life and of leading to hardness of heart. What good parents are capable of doing for their biological children—the level of self-forgetfulness that they are capable of to provide for their children’s well-being, their studies, their happiness—must be the standard of what we should do for our children or spiritual brothers. The example we have for this is set by the apostle Paul himself who said, 'I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls' (2 Cor 12:15)."

Read the whole thing.