Wednesday, April 30, 2014

HWP: St. Catherine of Siena

Happy feast of St. Catherine of Siena! Due to the difference in liturgical calendars pre- & post- Vatican II, St. Catherine's feast was yesterday (Ordinary Form/Post-Vatican II) as well as today (Extraordinary Form/Pre-Vatican II). How cool is that?! This great woman of faith and doctor of the Church was so full of love and spoke often and powerfully of the love the God has for us and that we are to have for Him. This is why she was named a Doctor of the Church - the love of God is always relevant. For this reason, the HWP today is a short pious prayer but is deep in meaning. Enjoy!
Prayer of St. Catherine of Siena to the Triune God 
O unfathomable depth! 
O Deity eternal! 
O deep ocean! 
What more could You give me 
than to give me Yourself?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Homosexuality and the Catholic Church

A while back I came across a fundraising project from Blackstone Films that sought to look at the Catholic Church and homosexuality. After a number of months the project is finished and it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. It is just about 35 minutes long but is worth every minute of it. Please take some time this week to watch this video and pass it along through whatever connections you have. This is something we've desperately needed and thanks be to God that it is finally here. St. John Paul II, pray for us!

<iframe src="//" width="500" height="213" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href="">The Third Way</a> from <a href="">Blackstone Films</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

I Got All 10!

Readings for Sunday, April 27/ Divine Mercy Sunday:
Acts 2:42-47

Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 Peter 1:3-9
John 20:19-31

It’s the time of year when we start to see all the First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion pictures popping up on social media sites and the events happening in our community. The little girls come in their cute dresses and some even decked in veils, the boys with their best suits on, all looking nice for their big day. As a priest, I particularly love the reconciliation part because it’s like being stoned to death by popcorn – seven year olds aren’t usually horrible sinners. Maybe they’re just holding back, but I doubt it. My experience of First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion were very different. Because my family left when I was little to attend the Methodist Church in our home town, I didn’t have the true Sacraments of the Church, so when we returned I had to start from scratch as an 11 year old. At 12 I celebrate First Reconciliation and remember it rather clearly. You know how the ‘Examination of Conscience’ sheets often break down the 10 Commandments? I walked in, sat down in the chair, looked at the priest and said, “I got all 10!” At age 12 the sins I spoke weren’t popcorn style because I had learned how to sin well and often. The bigger problem was that I didn’t even care because I had no belief in God, no faith, no anything that made me think that maybe I should be worried about the things I’d done in my life to that point. I didn’t get the seriousness of it.

This weekend Mother Church invites us to pause and realize the full implication of the message of Divine Mercy. Did you hear the opening Collect of Mass? We prayed for the grace, “that all may grasp and rightly understand in what font they have been washed, by whose Spirit they have been reborn, by whose Blood they have been redeemed.” We need to understand the message of Mercy and that begins by understanding the reality of sin.

To simply say, “I have sinned” or “I broke one of the Commandments” or even “I hurt God” doesn’t always hit home. It can seem a bit vague or lacking in consequence. But to say bluntly “I deserve to go to Hell”… well, that’s a different story. The truth is that because we are sinners, because we break the Commandments and offend the Lord, we do deserve Hell - or maybe we could put it a bit more nicely since it’s Easter and say we don’t deserve Heaven. Either way that’s the reality and it’s true for all of humanity. Not even the Blessed Mother herself deserved Heaven apart from God! Let that soak in. It was because God preserved her from sin and He cleanses us from it and we are able to enter into the Kingdom prepared for the Righteous. And when we realize that, when we realize that we deserve Hell but are given the gift of Heaven, then we really understand Divine Mercy. I didn’t understand the value of Mercy at my first Confession, but I understand it today more than I ever have and I hope that understanding deepens as the years go along.

So we gather here today to call to mind, to celebrate, and to be immersed in, the infinite Divine Mercy of God. The Mercy that is so great that is k“Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say, “His mercy endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 136 in the Scriptures says it even more, after every line, “for His mercy endures forever.” The truth is that God Divine Mercy does indeed endure forever and there is nothing that can separate us from it. There is no sin – past, present, or future – which can separate us from the Love and Mercy of God. God’s Mercy conquers everything, even death itself. God wants us to have that Mercy, to live that Mercy, and to show that Mercy to others. The question is this: do we want that Mercy?
nows no limits, that counts no costs, and that is willing to give more than we can ever ask. The Mercy that led Jesus Christ to climb the Cross and die for me. For you. That is the Mercy we celebrate today. It’s the Mercy we heard spoken in our readings, most beautifully in Psalm 118.

In the Church today there is lots of talk about the day of four popes – Popes Francis and Benedict celebrating the canonization of Pope Saints John XXIII and John Paul II. But there is another pope speaking to us today and that’s the original Pope, Peter himself. In the second reading today we heard an outpouring of rejoicing in the words of Peter. This rejoicing comes because Peter knows Mercy. Just a week or so ago we heard how Peter said at dinner “Lord, I will never deny you!” and yet he had done so thrice before breakfast, in addition to turning his face from the Lord at the scourging and the total abandonment for the crucifixion. Peter knew his sin all too well, but the Mercy of God came to him and changed everything. No more was Peter stuck in sin, but he was alive in Christ Jesus. The words he writes are in the second person tense ‘you’ but only because he knew them before in the first person ‘I’. Let’s listen to that first line again in that mindset.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave ME a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for ME, who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.

In the midst of so much celebration in the Church, let us implore our Lord to help us know the reality and consequences of our sinfulness that we might indeed come to understand the true power and value of the gift of Mercy that He shows to us today and, filled with joy, share that with the whole world.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

HWP: Each Time I...

Happy Easter! And a blessed feast of the martyr St. George as well! as we continue in this month of April, which is dedicated to the Most Blessed Sacrament, we continue with those prayers that honor Our Lord Jesus in that veiled Presence. In the midst of so many beautiful prayers, I came across this 'Prayer to Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament' that really clicked in my heart. If you've read my homilies lately, you likely sense a common thread of stories and journeying, which this prayer hints at in the aspect of continued transformation. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have:

Prayer to Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament 
Jesus, each time I look at the sacred Host,
sancify my eyes,
that they may close more and more
to all that is merely earthly. 
Jesus, each time I look at the sacred Host,
send a ray of divine light into my soul,
that I may better know you and myself. 
Jesus, each time I look at the sacred Host,
send a flame of divine love into my heart
to consume everything in it
that is displeasing to You
and to set it all on fire with Your love. 
Now and in eternity
may my only desire be to contemplate
the infinite beauty of Your divine countenance
which delights the angels.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Reality Changes Everything

He Is Risen As He Said, Alleluia.
Readings for April 20/ Easter Sunday:
Acts 10:34, 37-43
Psalm 118:2, 16-17, 22-23
1 Corinthians 5:6-8
John 20:1-9


What great to be able to say those blessed words. For over 40 days we have been journeying with the Lord Jesus in the desert. We have fasted and abstained, prayed more intensely, offered sacrifices and mortifications. For weeks have had heeded more purposely the call to conversion of our hearts by becoming aware of our sins and need for the grace of the Lord. And today we have the fulfillment of all of that work in the glory of the Resurrection. Today Jesus destroys death and sin, He conquers everything that is not Godly, and He has arisen. He is alive. The question that we ought to pause to reflect upon today is this: Do we really believe this? 

My dear friends, the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead changes everything.

Often in our culture today we hear people talk about the Resurrection like it's just another ancient mythical story to try to make sense of this life, but the thing is that while in all of the other ancient religious cultures those stories were written but understood to be false, the story of Jesus is written and understood by to be absolutely true. It's not a story to make us feel good. It's not a new rendition of an older tale. It is something entirely different and entirely new. The Gospel accounts don't believe with "Once upon a time..." or "In a galaxy far, far away...." They begin with names, dates, place, specifics that can be verified. We can go there today and see the place where Jesus was born, the place He healed specific individuals, the place where He ate the Last Supper, the place where He died on the Cross. The writings of the New Testament are not just a bunch of guys that wrote a really powerful story. They describe themselves as witnesses. St. John in his first letter begins by saying, "What we have seen, what we have heard, what we have touched with our own hands..." to describe his relationship with the Lord Jesus.

St. Paul Miki & Japanese Martyrs
I guess we could be even more blunt and say simply that people don't suffer and die for fairytales and myths. Nobody is offering their back to be beaten on account of Cinderella, the Roman God Zeus, or some other ancient deity. But for the Lord Jesus they continue to do it even down to today. In my estimation St. Paul gives us one of the most powerful testimonies in the Second Letter to the Corinthians when he recounts his list of sufferings: 5 times he received 39 lashes, 3 times he was beaten with rods, he was stoned on one occasion, shipwrecked thrice, left alone a day and a night on the sea, endured persecution from Jews and Gentiles both, and endured hunger, pain, toil, cold, sleeplessness, and homelessness all for the sake of spreading the Gospel. You don't do that for a story that isn't true. 

The story of Easter Sunday isn't just for us to come and feel good for a few hours today, eat some chocolate, and enjoy whatever activities we partake in this afternoon. It is a call to conversion and to turn definitely away from sin, death, and anything which separates us from Jesus Christ. It is a call to allow the joy of the Resurrection to be something that pervades every moment of the day. It is a call to let Jesus Christ be the true focus in the midst of all that we do; not to let Him be a piece of the pie of our life but to be the crust on which everything else is built. It is a call to call to let this moment be stretched into eternity, to live Easter joy every day and to share that with the world just like the Apostles. Christ is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia! Do we really believe?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Come Sit With Me

Readings for April 18/ Good Friday:
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1-19:42

September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. I’ll always remember that random fact because it was also the day that one of my favorite bands’ new album was to be released. I didn’t have time to get it before school that morning so I decided to go right after getting home from school. When I got home my mom was watching the news update on the attacks and she said, “Brent, come sit down and watch this with me.” I told her I would but first I had to run to the store to buy a CD. She said a bit more forcefully, “Brent, come sit down.” “Mom, I’m just gonna run to the store I’ll be back in like 15 minutes,” I replied and walked out the door. I knew the story of what was happening, but I didn’t grasp the full implications of it.

Today Mother Church says to each of us ‘Come sit down and watch this with me’ as we hear again the story of the Crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus. The story we come to hear is far more significant than that of September 11 because it has consequences for every person throughout all time and even into eternity. Many fail to take the time to stop and listen, but if we do come and sit with our mother we are able to deepen our understanding of those events that took place 2000 years ago and yet take place again today. We learn our story – the story of the Cross.

The story of the Cross is a story of apparent contradictions. This shouldn’t surprise us since the whole life of Jesus is characterized by such. A God who takes on human flesh, a king born in a stable, one possessing riches unending is born poor and homeless, the Almighty God is helpless in the arms of His mother. Those are just a few of the images that come to mind, but if we look at the Passion of the Lord these images increase in frequency and intensity. The faithful Bridegroom of the Church is betrayed with a kiss. He who frees us from slavery to sin and death is bound in chains. The King of all creation is crowned with thorns. The Word of God stands silent before His accusers. The Innocent Lamb is made sin for us and sacrificed. He whose hands healed the blind is blindfolded and slapped in the face. He who wrapped the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple cloak of mockery. He who made man from the dust is pressed into that dust under the weight of the Cross. He who is adorned with every virtue is stripped of everything He owns. He who hung the earth and the skies in their order is hung upon a tree. He who came to heal our wounded hearts allows His to be pierced. He who is the Giver of Eternal Life gives up His Spirit and submits to death.

This is a stumbling block to the Jews, St. Paul tells us, and foolishness to the Gentiles. But to we who believe and are being saved, Christ: The Power of God and the Wisdom of God!

The Cross permits us to make sense of this life and understand our own story. The apparent contradictions above are signs that things are not always as they seem. The devil likes to make us think otherwise. He always calls to mind the half-truths in the story of our life. Think back on the trial account of Jesus. We heard all sorts of testimony against Jesus, false and true, but where were the positive accounts of the things done by the Lord? Who recounted the feeding of the 5000, the healing of countless blind, mute, lame, and dead? Where was that part story? When only half of the story is told, terrible things happen. Likewise with ourselves.

Are your sins not great ones, only venial?
Come to the Cross and behold the price for even the smallest sin.
Are your sins great ones?
Come to the Cross and see that there is nothing that God will not forgive.

Have you wounded others by your sins?
Come to the Cross and see what that sin does to others.
Have you been wounded by others sins?
Come and be healed by the wounds of Jesus.

Is your faith strong?
Come to the Cross and see how quickly it can become weak without Him.
Is your faith weak?
Come to the Cross and see how quickly He can make it strong.

Do you gossiped about others, uttered harsh words or made false judgments?
Come to the Cross and see the power of words.
Have you been gossiped about, spoken to harshly or judged?
Come to the Cross and see the One whose judgment alone matters.

Do you feel loved by others?
Come to the Cross and see the extent that we are called to show love.
Do you feel unloved?
Come to the Cross and see the extent of God’s love for you.

In just a moment we will have the Veneration of the Cross, when we will have the chance to come forward, genuflect or bow before a splinter of the True Cross that Jesus died on, and allow the Lord to help you hear the rest of the story. We all know most of the story of the Lord and of ourselves. But let us pause in this moment to really take the time to rest with our mother and see if there is more yet to be said. Come to the Cross of Jesus. Come and meet the Lord once more. Come, let us adore.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

HWP: Prayer for Priests

Today is the celebration of the Chrism Mass here in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, when we priests will all gather together alongside Bishop Muench and recommit ourselves to serving the people God has blessed us with as parishioners and spiritual children. It was a beautiful thing to see as a seminarian and even more powerful to say those words now as a priest. It's humbling because I realize that my own faithfulness is only because of God's grace poured out through by prayers of so many people. So, as I promise today to recommit myself to deeper, more humble service to you and the Church, I beg your prayers for me that I might be able to truly put those words into action. Thank you. So, it is with this gratitude of heart that I offer this:
Prayer for Priests 
Lord Jesus, we your people pray to You for our priests. You have given them to us for OUR needs. We pray for them in THEIR needs. 
We know that You have made them priests in the likeness of your own priesthood. You have consecrated them, set them aside, annointed them, filled them with the Holy Spirit, appointed them to teach, to preach, to minister, to console, to forgive, and to feed us with Your Body and Blood. 
Yet we know, too, that they are one with us and share our human weaknesses. We know too that they are tempted to sin and discouragement as are we, needing to be ministered to, as do we, to be consoled and forgiven, as do we. Indeed, we thank You for choosing them from among us, so that they understand us as we understand them, suffer with us and rejoice with us, worry with us and trust with us, share our beings, our lives, our faith. 
We ask that You give them this day the gift You gave Your chosen ones on the way to Emmaus: Your presence in their hearts, Your holiness in their souls, Your joy in their spirits. And let them see You face to face in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread. 
We pray to You, O Lord, through Mary the mother of all priests, for Your priests and for ours. Amen.
composed by John Cardinal O'Connor

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Where am I?

Pope Francis during the Passion Sunday celebration
Readings for Sunday, April 13/ Palm Sunday:
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24
Philippians 2:6-11
Matthew 26:14-27:66

When Jesus came to Golgatha,
They hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet,
And made a Calvary.
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns,
Red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days,
And human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham
They simply passed Him by,
They never hurt a hair of Him,
They only let Him die;
For men have grown more tender,
And they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street,
And left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, 'Forgive them,
For they know not what they do!
And still it rained the winter rain
That drenched Him through and through;
The crowd went home and left the streets
Without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall
And cried for Calvary.

This poem entitled ‘Indifference’ was written by G.A. Studdert-Kennedy  in the early 20th Century as an indictment on a culture that had lost its passion and a people whose heart had grown cold. The same could well be said of our society today. We are one in which things are ‘better’ now than ever before and we would never do something as bad as crucify someone. We’re more civilized than that.

Blessed John Paul II often spoke in his reflections and homilies that the opposite of love is not hatred but indifference. Listen again. The opposite of love is not hatred but indifference. Jesus Himself says in the Gospels that we should be either hot or cold, for if we are lukewarm we will be spat out, rejected. In the Passion narrative we just prayed together, we heard a whole variety of voices. We heard the voice of Love Himself in the person of Jesus. We hear echoes of His love in the quiet presence of the Blessed Mother, St. Mary Magdalene, the others with them at the Cross, Simon of Cyrene and the like. We also heard those voices of hatred. The blistery words of Judas, the voices of the high priests, Sanhedrin, and elders, as well as the bloodthirsty crowd crying out for the death of the Christ. “Crucify Him! Let his blood be upon us and our children!” They were not content with scourging, beatings, or mockeries. Death on the Cross, and that alone, would quench their thirst. But then there is also another group here in the midst of the story that we often over look – the silent majority.

We don’t understand the magnitude of the city of Jerusalem. Jewish Historians recount that during the week of Passover, well over 500,000 Passover lambs were slain in the Temple and as the Gospel hinted at, each lamb required to men to prepare it for the meal. That means that over 1 million men had travelled to Jerusalem, many of them bringing other family or friends along with them, and that number being in addition to the community already dwelling there. This means that like 2 million or more people were around the city when the Lord entered in the triumphal procession and was later crucified. Where were their voices in the story? They were not hot or cold, but lukewarm. They weren’t angry enough to hate Jesus, nor were they strong enough to love Him. So they simply passed Him by, unaware that their salvation was right before them.

Homeless Jesus Statue by Timothy Schmalz
The Passion narrative is a lengthy one and there is much there to ponder. It’s not meant to be something we read once a year and are done with it. We should come back to it regularly, but especially in this Holy Week of preparation for the Sacred Triduum and Easter. So that’s what I invite you to do. Take up this Gospel passage each day this week and read through it as you ask yourself the question: Where am I in here? Where is my voice? Am I full of love for the Lord? Am I full of hatred for some reason? Has my heart grown cold such that Jesus doesn’t really have an impact upon my life? Where am I in here? Where is my voice?

O Good Jesus, let your Precious Blood truly be upon us, not to condemn us, but to heal us and save us.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

HWP: Bone Pastor, Panis Vere

As we continue in this month dedicated to the Most Holy Eucharist, we continue to look at the great treasury of prayers that are written in connection with that Blessed Sacrament. I found this week a beautiful poetic prayer from the old Roman Missal, #140 in the 1957 Raccolta book of Indulgences, which is not so mach a prayer about the Eucharist as much as to the Eucharistic Lord Himself, our 'Very Bread' from Heaven. Do enjoy!

Very Bread, good Shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of Thy love befriend us, 
Thou refresh us, Thou defend us, 
Thine eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.
Thou Who all things canst and knowest,
Who on dart such food bestows,
Grant us with Thy Saints, though lowest,
Where the heavenly feast Thou she west, 
Fellow-heirs and guests to be. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Waterfalls and Stinky Tombs

Me (in yellow shorts) making the leap!
Readings for Sunday, April 6/ 5th Sunday of Lent:
Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 130:1-8
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45

I’ve never been a very adventurous individual. I generally try to keep safe, not do crazy things and keep my bones and brain intact. But as a seminarian working at a boys wilderness camp, this reserved nature of mine was pushed and challenged almost daily to do things that were way outside my comfort zone. One such thing was jumping off of waterfalls or high cliffs into rivers or lakes below. I’m not a fan of heights to start with, but then I just knew that as soon as I jumped off a thirty foot ledge into the water I would hit an unseen rock or tree and they’d have to let my parents know that I wouldn’t be coming home…ever. But this didn’t stop the rest of the guys at the camp. As I sat and watched them guys jump fearlessly into the water below and come up just fine, my courage began to increase and eventually I was able to make the jump myself. The thing was that in order to do something a bit crazy by my logic, I had to have some help to make the leap of faith.

In the Scriptures God continually promises us all sorts of absurd things. He told us in our first reading: “I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” If that’s not crazy, I don’t know what is. And yet it’s one of the many things God invites us to believe in, but He also gives us that help we often need in making the leap by showing us glimpses of what is to come. This is what the story of Lazarus is for us today.

When I was praying with the Gospel it struck me as odd the way Jesus responded to the news of Lazarus’ illness. John tells us that, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where He was.” He remained for two days in the place where He was!? That sure doesn’t sound like love. Love would seem instead to drop everything and run quickly to Lazarus’ aid, and yet that’s not the case. God’s ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts. The love for Lazarus and his sisters, as well as the others with them, is characterized not in Jesus’ resuscitation of Lazarus so much as the timing of the resuscitation. Jesus waits two days, probably travels on the third, and arrives on the fourth (Lazarus had been in the tomb four days we’re told) so that He could show the people present that even what seems to be impossible to bring back to life (there will be a stench, Lord!) He could raise up again. It was an opportunity and invitation to embrace faith in a new, deeper way.

Icon of Christ raising Lazarus
We see this in the words that Jesus Himself speaks. When the news first arrives He says, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God.” It was for the glory of God because people would shortly glorify God because they would believe in the Son He had sent. Again to the Apostles He says, “I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe.” He basically said, “I’m glad Lazarus died, because now I can show you what I am really capable of!” And if that is not enough, He says it even more explicitly as He stands at the entrance to the tomb and lifts up His voice to the Father, saying, “because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” Jesus let Lazarus die in order to evoke faith from the individuals present, most especially Martha and Mary.

Each week we profess our faith and we profess that we believe in the Resurrection of the Body and we say that not just in reference to Jesus, but also to ourselves, that you and I will have bodies in the next life too and they will be even more glorious than the ones we have now! As difficult as that can be to understand, we profess faith in it. But the deeper question is where is the Lazarus experience in your life? Where in your life, in that of your spouse, your children, coworker or friend is the place where it seems like God has left someone for dead? Where is the place where you in your pain want to cry out with Martha and Mary, ‘Lord, if you had been here things wouldn’t be like this!’ and are frustrated because of the stench of the tomb, that it's too late to be fixed? That is the place Jesus wants to come to today, to that place of pain and suffering, grief and loss. He wants to come there because He wants to invite us to take a new leap of faith. Do we believe? Do we really believe the Lord wants it and can do it? Or are we waiting for another sign to show us that it’s safe to jump?

Lord Jesus, increase my faith!

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Mysterious Me

I received this little reflection by Fr. Solanus Maria Benfatti, CFR in an email several years back, before I was even a priest myself. It gave me much to reflect upon then and it strikes me even more now that I can relate to it firsthand. This vocation is a beautiful one and I thank God for it each day that I too have been called to have a 'front row seat' to the powerful hand of God at work in the hearts of His beloved children.
For sure, Pope Benedict's recent comment to the priests of Poland registers with me: "The greatness of Christ's priesthood can make us tremble." To feel very small, hugely humbled by the thing is a common experience for me. Very common. And yet, I frequently forget that I am a priest of only four months. Sometimes it almost seems that I've been doing this forever.At times I listen to myself in the confessional and I wonder whom this person is that is speaking, and just how he knows the things he thinks and says. I want to ask him from where he has come, because it seems as if from nowhere, like Melchisedech. I'm glad this man from nowhere has come along, because he sure is good for me. They say the priesthood is for others, but it's hard for one's faith not to be changed by the faith of others. Front row seats are hard to beat. The first time someone thirty years your senior lavishes gratitude on you for lifting a burden they've carried for years the same number; The first telephone call of thanksgiving you get from someone who had been an anonymous penitent in a far away place, now changed forever; The first time someone grabs you on the subway and says, "I realized I would never make it in time for confessions at such-and-such church and so I prayed to find a priest"; right then you know that you were made for this, and that your own salvation somehow depends on it. Fulton Sheen once called a book Those Mysterious Priests. I understand the title now. Because it is indeed a mystery, a very strange thing, the priesthood. That I am a priest is an additional mystery, though. It's at once foreign and familiar. It's everything I thought it would be and nothing I could have ever known. It's something to shrink from, but what I could never do without. And it's me. A mysterious me.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

HWP: Golden Arrow

The month of April is dedicated to the Most Holy Eucharist. There are tons of prayers and beautiful poems written in honor the Most Blessed Sacrament, so there are no shortage of options for the HWP today! The one that I stumbled upon that spoke to me was the 'Golden Arrow' which is said to have been revealed to a Carmelite nun of Tours, France in 1843 as a reparation against blasphemy. So, without further ado, let us pray:

The Golden Arrow
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most mysterious, and unutterable name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored, and glorified in heaven, on earth, and under the earth by all the creatures of God and by the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.

This prayer is taken from Pure Faith, Book of Prayer.