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.

June 26, 2016

Wretched Flesh Heaped Up In A Corner

Today was my turn for the Sunday Mass at the Bethlemite Sisters' old folks home. I enjoy taking my turn. The Mother Superior leads the singing from the back pew with her very particular voice. The Sister Sacristan is very funny. To save washing I guess, she has a large collection of little boxes in the sacristy in which she keeps each priest's purificator from Mass to Mass. Mine used to be labeled P. Carlo tedesco, "Fr. Charles [the] German," to distinguish me from my confrere P. Carlo italiano. I guess at first they thought I was a German. Now my box says P. Carlo tedesco USA.


Anyway, today I think it was the hottest Mass I had ever celebrated. The weather report says it's only 90 degrees out today, so that's not hot enough or Italians--left to their own judgment--to turn on the air conditioning. (For Italians and air conditioning, see various reflections easily searchable online, which I need not duplicate for fear of falling into fraternal uncharities.) I don't think it was any cooler in the chapel.

June 13, 2016

Lawrence of Brindisi on the Vestments

I suppose my deficiencies as a Capuchin friar are many. For example, I like to say that my physical inability to grow a proper Capuchin beard is my Pauline thorn. Another one is that I have never really known--and nor has any confrere been able to tell me clearly--why the lone doctor of the Church of our Capuchin reform, St. Lawrence of Brindisi, should be especially a doctor of the Church.

So for a long time I have thought that I ought to read what he wrote and find out for myself. Therefore it was my delight to discover one day that the house where I find myself now has a set of St. Lawrence's works in the English translation of Vernon Wagner, OFM Cap. So as I have had time and inspiration, I have started to read some of them.

Here's a fun passage on the meaning of the priestly vestments from the sermon, "The Eucharist as Sacrifice."
But the priestly vestments of the Church are totally representative of the mystery of redemption. Do you not think that a vested priest resembles Christ? Do you not see that the thin amice that covers his head is the most pure flesh of Christ which covered the Word of God? God is the head of Christ. (1 Cor 11:3) And the alb which is totally white, can it represent anything besides the innocence and the immaculate holiness of the entire life of Christ? It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens. (Heb 7:26) Does not the cincture express what was said by Isaiah: Justice shall be a band around his waist. (Is 11:5) And does not the maniple speak to you of the indomitable patience of Christ throughout his entire life and especially in his passion? Does not that stole around his neck appear to you as a symbol of that yoke which Christ spontaneously took upon his shoulders in obedience to his Father in order to suffer and die for our salvation? For us Christ became obedient to death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:8) And does it not seem to you that the chasuble, which is a single piece of cloth but divided into two parts, one in front and the other in back, represents the Church old and new, one in faith, two by reason of various rites and customs, both signed with the cross, because both and the other are redeemed by the power of the cross of Christ and by Christ on the cross? O what great mysteries are contained in the Mass!
(St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Feastday Sermons, trans. Vernon Wagner, OFM Cap. (Delhi: Media House, 2007), 633)

It's interesting how Lawrence identifies the stole with the yoke of Christ, while the vesting prayers locate this association with the chasuble.

June 4, 2016

Immaculate Heart of Mary

"And his mother kept all these things in her heart." (Luke 2:51)

It's a beautiful little line that St. Luke gives us, and it reminds us that Mary kept in her heart all the mysteries of the earthly life of Jesus Christ. And not just the mysteries about which we know something, like his birth in Bethlehem and his passion and death on the Cross, but also those aspects of Jesus' life that we cannot know, like what he was like as a boy, how it was to observe him working with St. Joseph, and all the other blessed details of a daily life lived with the Son of God.

When we think about this, we realize that Mary knows Jesus better than any other person who ever lived, or will ever live. This realization forms part of our motivation for turning to Mary in our desire to follow after Jesus. It is she who knows best him whom our hearts desire and whom we wish to follow.

Let us turn, then, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that place of safe-keeping and cherishing of all the mysteries of the Word of God made man in Jesus Christ. May she obtain for us the grace of knowing Jesus ever more fully and deeply, and may we too keep, protect, and cherish his presence in our own hearts.