Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Memorial: Saint Ignatius of Loyola

O God, who raised up Saint Ignatius of Loyola in your Church to further the greater glory of your name, grant that by his help we may imitate him in fighting the good fight on earth and merit to receive with him a crown in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

* * * * * *
Ignatius, by nation a Spaniard, was born of a noble family at Loyola, in Cantabria. At first he attended the court of the Catholic king, and later on embraced a military career. Having been wounded at the siege of Pampeluna, he chanced in his illness to read some pious books, which kindled in his soul a wonderful eagerness to follow in the footsteps of Christ and the saints. He went to Montserrat, and hung up his arms before the altar of the Blessed Virgin; he then watched the whole night in prayer, and thus entered upon his knighthood in the army of Christ.

Next he retired to Manresa, dressed as he was in sackcloth, for he had a short time before given his costly garments to a beggar. Here he stayed for a year, and during that time he lived on bread and water, given to him in alms; he fasted every day except Sunday, subdued his flesh with a sharp chain and a hair-shirt, slept on the ground, and scourged himself with iron disciplines. God favored and refreshed him with such wonderful spiritual lights, that afterwards he was wont to say that even if the Sacred Scriptures did not exist, he would be ready to die for the faith, on account of those revelations alone which the Lord had made to him at Manresa. It was at this time that he, a man without education, composed that admirable book of the Spiritual Exercises.

However, in order to make himself more fit for gaining souls, he determined to procure the advantages of education, and began by studying grammar among children. Meanwhile he relaxed nothing of his zeal for the salvation of others, and it is marvelous what sufferings and insults he patiently endured in every place, undergoing the hardest trials, even imprisonment and beatings almost to death. But he ever desired to suffer far more for the glory of his Lord.

At Paris he was joined by nine companions from that University, men of different nations, who had taken their degrees in Arts and Theology; and there at Montmartre he laid the first foundations of the order, which he was later on to institute at Rome. He added to the three usual vows a fourth concerning missions, thus binding it closely to the Apostolic See.

Paul III first welcomed and approved the Society, as did later other Pontiffs and the Council of Trent. Ignatius sent St. Francis Xavier to preach the Gospel in the Indies, and dispersed others of his children to spread the Christian faith in other parts of the world, thus declaring war against paganism, superstition, and heresy. This war he carried on with such success that it has always been the universal opinion, confirmed by the word of pontiffs, that God raised up Ignatius and the Society founded by him to oppose Luther and the heretics of his time, as formerly he had raised up other holy men to oppose other heretics.

Loyola made the restoration of piety among Catholics his first care. He increased the beauty of the sacred buildings, the giving of catechetical instructions, the frequency of sermons and of the sacraments. He everywhere opened schools for the education of youth in piety and letters. He founded at Rome the German College, refuges for women of evil life, and for young girls who were in danger, houses for orphans and catechumens of both sexes, and many other pious works. He devoted himself unweariedly to gaining souls to God.

Once he was heard saying that if he were given his choice he would rather live uncertain of attaining the Beatific Vision, and in the meanwhile devote himself to the service of God and the salvation of his neighbor, than die at once certain of eternal glory. His power over the demons was wonderful. St. Philip Neri and others saw his countenance shining with heavenly light. At length in the sixty-fifth year of his age he passed to the embrace of his Lord, whose greater glory he had ever preached and ever sought in all things.

Ignatius was celebrated for miracles and for his great services to the Church, and Gregory XV enrolled him amongst the saints; while Pius XI, in response to the prayers of the episcopate, declared him heavenly patron of all Spiritual Exercises. [Excerpted from Abbot Gueranger, OSB, The Liturgical Year]

Monday, July 30, 2012

OM: St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

St. Peter Chrysologus

In the fifth century, Ravenna, not Rome, was the capital of the Roman Empire in the West, and Ravenna itself became a metropolitan see. St. Peter Chrysologus was one of the most distinguished archbishops of that see.

Peter was born in Imola about the year 400 and studied under Cornelius, bishop of that city, who ordained him deacon. In 433, the archbishop of Ravenna died, and when a successor had been chosen by the clergy and people of Ravenna, they asked Bishop Cornelius to obtain confirmation of their choice from Pope Sixtus III. On his trip to Rome, Cornelius took his deacon, Peter, as his companion; upon seeing Peter, the pope chose him for the see of Ravenna instead of the one selected by the clergy and people of Ravenna.

Peter was consecrated and was accepted somewhat grudgingly at first by both the clergy and the people. Peter, however, soon became the favourite of Emperor Valentinian III, who resided at Ravenna and was also highly regarded by Pope St. Leo the Great, the successor of Pope Sixtus.

There were still traces of paganism in Peter's diocese, and his first effort was to establish the Catholic faith everywhere, rooting out abuses and carrying on a campaign of preaching and special care of the poor. Many of his sermons still survive, and it is on the basis of these that he came to be known as "the golden word."

In his concern for the unity of the Church, Peter Chrysologus opposed the teaching of Eutyches, condemned in the East, who asked for his support. Peter also received St. Germanus of Auxerre to his diocese and officiated at his funeral.

Familiar is his dictum: "If you jest with the devil, you cannot rejoice with Christ." Some of his sermons are read in the Breviary. Ravenna, his episcopal city, still harbours treasures of ancient Christian liturgical art dating to his day.

Knowing that his own death was near, Peter returned to his own city of Imola and after urging great care in the choice of his successor he died at Imola about the year 450 and was buried in the church of St. Cassian. In 1729, Pope Benedict XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church. — [Reverend Clifford Stevens, The One Year Book of Saints]

* * *

O God, who made the Bishop Saint Peter Chrysologus an outstanding preacher of your incarnate Word, grant, through his intercession, that we may constantly ponder in our hearts the mysteries of your salvation and faithfully express them in what we do. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pilgrimages Today: "Reek" Sunday on Mt. Croagh Patrick in Ireland - Saint Ann's in Cormac, Ontario

Summer is a time for travel for vacation and rest and to see relatives and friends, but it may also be used, as many people do, for spiritual purposes: a pilgrimage.  An Irish holy journey and one closer to home in Ontario are some of the pilgrimages available.

The annual summer pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick, "the Reek", a holy mountain in the Archdiocese of Tuam, Ireland, which I remember from my ascent in March 2011 is today. 

Some 20,000 are expected to climb the mountain associated with St. Patrick, some barefoot as with the gentleman depicted above.

* * * * * *

Today's Pilgrimage in Honour
of the Feast of Saint Ann
at the Parish of St. Ann in Cormac, Ontario.

Since Thursday, I have been preaching the Triduum, which included a candlelight procession from the parish church to the outdoor shrine last night. 

The closing ceremonies today feature outdoor Masses at 11 am and 2 pm.

Several other photos:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Celebrating Canada's World Youth Day (July 23-28/02) Ten Years On

World Youth Day in Toronto was an historic moment in the life of the Church in Canada. With 320 young pilgrims I took the Ocean Limited train from Halifax to Toronto (27 hours: longer than the trip even to Auckland and Sydney in 2008!) We had a ball and the experiences of a life-time....

On the Pope's arrival, CNN had me commenting on the courage of the Holy Father as he insisted on walking down the steps of the plane to show his determination to give his all to those who had come. We reciprocated with our enthusiasm and affection.

Coming less than a year after 9/11, the WYD was fraught with turmoil and travail all of which contributed to diminishing the number who attended (the clergy sex abuse scandal in the USA, the pope's decision to go to Central America and Mexico immediately after Toronto, the garbage handlers strike until days before the start-up date).

Still, as St. Paul says, "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair...always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible..." (2 Corinthians 4.7-8)

Still 800,000 attended the Vigil and Closing Mass!

So, ten years on, I wish happy memories to all who attended and to those who continue to give thanks to God for the graces of this event in our country and church's life, graces that continue to flow from it to strengthen our church to this day!

Thanks to the WYD CEO, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB and all his team, who are still doing great things, now at Salt and Light TV!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Photos of Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick's Ordination and Reception

The Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria was the scene of Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick's ordination as Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto on Wednesday afternoon.  A reception followed in the Holiday Inn afterwards. 

Cardinal Thomas Collins was the principal consecrator and homilist, while iemeritus Bishop John O'Mara and current St. Catharines Bishop Gerard Bergie (below) were the co-consecrators, joined by the other bishops present.

I am grateful to photographer Denis Cahill, who shared with me some of the many photos he took of this happy occasion.

Feast Day & Triduum at Shrine of St. Ann, Cormac, ON (July 26-29)

Who does not know about the great shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre in Canada, where miracles abound, where cured cripples leave their crutches, and where people come from thousands of miles to pray to the grandmother of Jesus?

At one time, July 26 was the feast of St. Ann only, but with the new calendar the two feasts of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been joined and are celebrated today.

Our information about Mary's parents comes from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi (or Proto-Gospel of James), written about the year 170. According to this story, Joachim was a prominent and respected man who had no children, and he and his wife, Ann, looked upon this as a punishment from God. In answer to their prayers, Mary was born and was dedicated to God at a very early age.

From this early Christian writing have come several of the feast days of Mary, particularly the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity of Mary, and her Assumption into Heaven. Very early also came feast days in honor of SS. Joachim and Ann, and in the Middle Ages numerous churches, chapels, and confraternities were dedicated to St. Ann. The couple early became models of Christian marriage, and their meeting at the Golden Gate in Jerusalem has been a favorite subject of Christian artists.

Ann is often shown in paintings with Jesus and Mary and is considered a subject that attracts attention, since Ann is the grandmother of Jesus. Her two great shrines — that of Ste. Anne d'Auray in Britanny, France, and that of Ste. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec in Canada — are very popular. We know little else about the lives of Mary's parents, but considering the person of Mary, they must have been two very remarkable people to have been given such a daughter and to have played so important a part in the work of the Redemption.

There is a church of St. Anne in Jerusalem and it is believed to be built on the site of the home of Sts. Joachim and Ann, when they lived in Jerusalem.  [Father Clifford Stevens, The One Year Book of Saints]

* * * * * *

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
* * * * * *

Throughout Canada, particularly in Quebec and among the Native Peoples, there has always been a vibrant devotion to Saint Ann.  One such place is at the Shrine of St. Ann in Cormac, Ontario (in the Pembroke Diocese) about +/- two-and-a-half hours' drive west of Ottawa. 

This July, I accepted to preach the feast day Mass tonight and the three addional days of the annual gathering, which will close on Sunday afternoon with Mass at 2:00PM (there is also an earlier Lord's Day Mass at 11 o'clock Sunday morning. presided by Bishop Michael Mulhall). 

The other devotions begin with the Eucharist each evening (tonight [Thursday], Friday and Saturday at 7 o'clock):  I will use the forthcoming Year of Faith to structure my presentations. Everyone is most welcome!

For further information and other details, including directions, please consult the Shrine's website: http://www.cormacpilgrimage.com/

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Apostle St. James - Sunday 17B: Miracle of the Loaves & Fishes

Saint Jacques le Majeur, fils de Zébédée et de Salomé, était frère de saint Jean l’Évangéliste. On le surnomma le Majeur, pour le distinguer de l’apôtre du même nom surnommé le Mineur qui fut évêque de Jérusalem.  

Il était de Galilée et vint au monde douze ans avant Jésus-Christ, Octave-Auguste étant empereur. Il exerçait la profession de pêcheur, ainsi que son père et saint Jean, son frère. Un jour qu’ils nettoyaient leurs filets dans une barque, sur les bords du lac de Génésareth, Jésus appela les deux frères, et à l’instant, quittant leur barque et leur père, ils se mirent à Sa suite et furent bientôt agrégés au collège des Apôtres. Le divin Sauveur leur donna à tous deux le surnom de Boanergès, enfants du tonnerre, sans doute à cause de l’activité de leur zèle.

Le choix que Jésus fit des deux frères pour être, avec saint Pierre, témoins de Sa transfiguration, et plus tard de Sa prière au jardin des Oliviers, montre assez l’affection dont Il les honorait. Ce fut apparemment ce qui les enhardit à Lui faire demander par leur mère les premières places dans Son royaume. Le Sauveur ne leur promit que la souffrance, et du reste, eux-mêmes, après la Pentecôte, n’eurent plus d’autre ambition.

Après la dispersion des Apôtres, saint Jacques le Majeur vint en Espagne, dont Dieu le destinait à faire la conquête. Il la parcourut en tous sens et la féconda de ses sueurs ; mais il ne put convertir que neuf disciples. N’est-ce pas un sujet de consolation pour les prédicateurs dont les efforts ne sont pas toujours couronnés de succès ? Dieu Se plait ainsi à éprouver Ses envoyés ; ils sèment, d’autres recueilleront la moisson.

Du reste, saint Jacques eut une grande consolation : la sainte Vierge, vivante encore, lui apparut et lui demanda de construire, en son honneur, une chapelle qui serait une protection pour l’Espagne. La sainte Vierge a maintes fois prouvé depuis aux Espagnols qu’ils étaient sous sa sauvegarde : ce peuple si fier a trouvé dans la fermeté de sa Foi le courage indomptable qui fait les héros.

Saint Jacques revint à Jérusalem, y prêcha la Foi de Jésus-Christ et convertit beaucoup de personnes. L’Apôtre gagna à Jésus-Christ deux magiciens qui avaient cherché à le confondre par les pratiques de leur art diabolique. Un jour qu’il prêchait, une émeute, préparée à l’avance, se souleva contre lui ; on le conduisit au gouverneur Hérode, en disant : « Il séduit le peuple, il mérite la mort. » Hérode, homme sans conscience, visant avant tout à plaire, commande de trancher la tête au saint Apôtre, l’an 44, saint Pierre étant pape et Claude empereur romain.

Le glorieux martyr appartenait à l’Espagne, qu’il avait évangélisée. Sa dépouille mortelle y fut conduite par quelques disciples. Il n’est peut-être pas au monde un ancien pèlerinage plus célèbre que celui de saint Jacques de Compostelle. En diverses circonstances, saintJacques a été le défenseur de l’Espagne contre les Sarrasins.

* * *

Almighty ever-living God, who consecrated the first fruits of your Apostles by the blood of Saint James, grant, we pray, that your Church may be strengthened by his confession of faith and constantly sustained by his protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
* * * * * *

Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year "B") - July 29, 2012
[Texts: 2 Kings 4.42-44; Psalm 145; Ephesians 4.1-6; John 6.1-15]

This Sunday's telling of the miracle of the loaves, with reflection on Jesus' extended discourse for the next several Sundays, offers an extraordinary opportunity for believers to meditate on Jesus' teaching about the gift of himself as the Bread of Life.

The whole of the sixth chapter of John features bread. Beginning with the bread that Jesus gave abundantly to crowds on the mountaintop, Jesus went on to speak of a mysterious bread that he would give them to “eat”—his very own flesh. This was such a “hard saying” that it led some disciples to abandon him. Others, including the Twelve led by Peter, were moved to cling to Jesus' teaching, confessing that Jesus possessed and shared with them “words of eternal life”.

The transition from the “little” that lay at hand prior to the miracle (“five barley loaves and two fish...but what are they among so many?”) to an overflowing abundance afterwards (“they were satisfied”), even with loaves left over (“they filled twelve baskets”), parallels Elijah's miracle in the first reading.

Elijah took “20 loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain” and fed 100 people, fulfilling God's word that “they shall eat and have some left”.

Jesus' gift of the bread (“he distributed to them ... as much as they wanted”) took place on a mountain, the traditional place where God is encountered. The number fed—“about 5,000 in all”—and Jesus' command to the disciples that they arrange them in groups (“make the people sit down”) parallels the organization of God's people in the wilderness (cf. Exodus 18.25 and Deuteronomy 1.15).

Afterwards, Jesus contrasted two kinds of food, the perishable and imperishable (“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you”). With anxiety about the necessities of life comes the personal temptation to trust in both the bread from heaven—a free gift from God—and the bread of this earth, which one earns by the sweat of one's brow.

In keeping with the irony that is so frequent in John's gospel, the crowd misunderstood Jesus' words about “working for” imperishable food. For Jesus, the only necessary work is to believe in the one on whom God “has set his seal,” the one sent into the world by the Father. “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent”.

The Hebrew words “man hu” for “manna” literally mean “what [is] it?' Moses offered the correct theological interpretation, “it is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat”.

Citing the manna story, Jesus reinterpreted it several ways. The giver of manna, he argued, was not Moses but his Father. And God's giving heavenly food was not merely a past event, but a reality continuing up to now.

By contrast with the earlier manna, the food Jesus spoke about is “true” bread and it is his hearers, not their ancestors, who are the true beneficiaries of God's gift (“it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven”).

When the crowd asked Jesus for this bread, his startling answer was, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never thirst”. The deeper meaning of this truth will become evident in Jesus' further instruction in coming weeks.

All of Jesus' teaching will be a call to go beyond the miracle of the loaves in order to believe in the gift of life found in his words and the gift of himself in Communion.

The challenge to believe also undergirds the summary of Christian life in Ephesians. Through Christ's saving deed, disciples live a unity of mind and heart. For “there is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one LORD, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all”.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Collect of the Day: St. James

The Virgin and Child with St. James the Great by Luis Paret y Alcazar, 1786

St. James

Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened.
(From the introit of the day's Mass, Ps. 138. 17)

Collect of the Day

Esto, Dómine, plebi tuæ sanctificátor et custos: ut, Apóstoli tui Jacóbi muníta præsídiis, et conversatióne tibi pláceat, et secúra mente desérviat. Per Dóminum...

Be Thou, O Lord, the Sanctifier and Protector of Thy people: so that defended by the aid of Thine Apostle James, they may please Thee in their manner of life, and serve Thee in peace of soul. Through...

St. James the Greater by El Greco, 1614

Epistle - 1 Corinthians, 4. 9-15 / Gospel - St. Matthew, 20. 17-28

The Liturgical Year
by Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.

Let us, today, hail the bright star which once made Compostella so resplendent with its rays that the obscure town became, like Jerusalem and Rome, a center of attraction to the piety of the whole world. As long as the Christian empire lasted, the sepulcher of St. James the Great rivaled in glory that of St. Peter himself.

Among the saints of God, there is not one who manifested more evidently how the elect keep up after death an interest in the works confided to them by our Lord. The life of St. James after his call to the apostolate was but short; and the result of his labours in Spain, his allotted portion, appeared to be a failure. Scarcely had he, in his rapid course, taken possession of the land of Iberia, when, impatient to drink the chalice which would satisfy his continual desire to be close to his Lord, he opened by martyrdom the heavenward procession of the twelve, which was to be closed by the other son of Zebedee. O Salome, who didst give them both to the world, and didst present to Jesus their ambitious prayer, rejoice with a double joy: thou art not repulsed; He who made the hearts of mothers is thine abettor. Did He not, to the exclusion of all others except Simon His Vicar, choose thy two sons as witnesses of the greatest works of His power, admit them to the contemplation of His glory on Thabor, and confide to them His sorrow unto death in the garden of His agony? And today thy eldest-born becomes the first-born in heaven of the sacred college; the Protomartyr of the apostles repays, as far as in him lies, the special love of Christ our Lord.

But how was he a messenger of the faith, since the sword of Herod Agrippa put such a speedy end to his mission! And how did he justify his name of son of thunder, since his voice was heard by a mere handful of disciples in a desert of infidelity?

This new name, another special prerogative of two brothers, was realized by John in his sublime writings, wherein as by lightning flashes he revealed to the world the deep things of God; it was the same in his case as in that of Simon, who having been called Peter by Christ, was also made by Him the foundation of the Church; the name given by the Man-God was a prophecy, not an empty title. With regard to James, too, then, eternal Wisdom cannot have been mistaken. Let it not be thought that the sword of any Herod could frustrate the designs of the most High upon the men of His choice. The life of the saints is never cut short; their death, ever precious, is still more so when in the cause of God it seems to come before the time. It is then that with double reason we may say their works follow them; God Himself being bound in honour, both for His own sake and for theirs, to see that nothing is wanting to their plentitude. “As a victim of a holocaust, He hath received them,” says the Holy Ghost, “and in time there shall be respect had to them. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. They shall judge nations, and rule over peoples; and their Lord shall reign forever” (Wisdom 3. 6-8). How literally was this divine oracle to be fulfilled with regard to our saint!

Nearly eight centuries, which to the heavenly citizens are but as a day, had passed over that tomb in the north of Spain, where two disciples had secretly laid the apostle’s body. During that time the land of his inheritance, which he had so rapidly traversed, had been overrun first by Roman idolaters, then by Arian barbarians, and when the day of hope seemed about to dawn, a deeper night was ushered in by the Crescent. One day lights were seen glimmering over the briars that covered the neglected monument; attention was drawn to the spot, which henceforth went by the name of the field of stars. But what are those sudden shouts coming down from the mountains, and echoing through the valleys? Who is this unknown chief rallying against an immense army of the little worn-out troop whose heroic valour could not yesterday save it from defeat? Swift as lightning, and bearing in one hand a white standard with a red cross, he rushes with drawn sword upon the panic-stricken foe, and dyes the feet of his charger in the blood of 70,000 slain. Hail to the chief of the holy war, of which this Liturgical Year has so often made mention!

Saint James! Saint James! Forward, Spain!

It is the reappearance of the Galilean fisherman, whom the Man-God once called from the bark where he was mending his nets; of the elder son of thunder, now free to hurl the thunderbolt upon these new Samaritans, who pretend to honour the unity of God by making Christ no more than a prophet. Henceforth James shall be to Christian Spain the firebrand which the Prophet saw, devouring all the people round about, to the right hand and to the left, until Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place in Jerusalem.

And when, after six centuries and a half of struggle, his standard bearers, the Catholic kings, had succeeded in driving the infidel hordes beyond the seas, the valiant leader of the Spanish armies laid aside his bright armour, and the slayer of Moors became once more a messenger of the faith. As fisher of men, he entered his bark, and gathering around it the gallant fleets of Christopher Columbus, Vacos da Gama, Albuquerque, he led them over unknown seas to lands that had never yet heard the name of the Lord. For his contribution to the labours of the twelve, James drew ashore his well-filled nets from west and east and south, from new worlds, renewing Peter’s astonishment at the sight of such captures. He, whose apostolate seemed at the time of Herod III to have been crushed in the bud before bearing any fruit, may say with St. Paul: “I have no way come short of them that are above measure apostles, for by the grace of God I have laboured more abundantly than all they” (2 Cor. 12. 11, and 1 Cor. 15. 10).

Let us now read the lines consecrated by the Church to his honour:

James, the Son of Zebedee and brother of the Apostle John, was a Galilean, and with his brother one of the first of His Apostles whom the Lord called, whileas they were in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets and they immediately left the ship, and their father, and followed Him. (Matth. iv. 21, 22.) And He surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder. (Mark iii. 17.) Peter, and James, and John, were the three Apostles whom the Saviour loved best; them He took and brought up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them, Matth. xvii. 1,2; when He went to the house of the ruler of the synagogue to raise his daughter from the dead, He suffered no man to follow Him save Peter, and James, and John, Mark v. 37; and, at the last, just before the Jews took Him, when He cometh unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee.

After that Jesus Christ was ascended into heaven, James preached how that He was God, and led many in Judaea and Samaria to the Christian Faith. A while afterward, he went to Spain, and there he brought some to Christ, of whom seven were afterwards ordained Bishops by Blessed Peter, and were the first such sent into that country. From Spain James went back to Jerusalem, where he taught the Faith to divers persons, and, among others, to the Magian Hermogenes. Thereupon Herod Agrippa, who had been raised to the kingdom under the Emperor Claudius, to curry favour with the Jews, condemned James to death for his firm confession that Jesus Christ is God. The officer who led James to the judgment seat, at sight of the courage wherewith he was ready to offer up his testimony, declared himself also to be a Christian.

As they were being hurried to execution, this man asked pardon of James, and the Apostle kissed him, saying, Peace be unto thee. James healed a paralytic, and immediately afterwards both the prisoners were beheaded. The body of the Apostle was afterwards taken to Compostella, (in the province of Gallicia, in Spain,) where his grave is very famous. Multitudes of pilgrims from all parts of the earth betake themselves thither to pray, out of sheer piety or in fulfilment of vows. The Birth - day of James is kept by the Church upon this day, which is that of the bringing of his body to Compostella. It was about Easter-time (Acts xii. 2-4) that he bore witness to Jesus Christ with his blood, at Jerusalem, being the first of the Apostles to do so.

Patron of Spain, forget not the grand nation which owes to thee both its heavenly nobility and its earthly prosperity; preserve it from ever diminishing those truths which made it, in its bright days, the salt of the earth; keep it in mind of the terrible warning that if the slat lose its savour, ti is good for nothing any more but to be cast out and to be trodden on by men. At the same time remember, O apostle, the special cultus wherewith the whole Church honours thee. Does she not to this very day keep under the immediate protection of the Roman Pontiff both thy sacred body, so happily rediscovered in our times, and the vow of going on pilgrimage to venerate those precious relics?

Where now are the days when thy wonderful energy of expansion abroad was surpassed by thy power of drawing all to thyself? Who but he that numbers the stars of the firmament could count the saints, the penitents, the kings, the warriors, the unknown of every grade, the ever-renewed multitude, ceaselessly moving to and from that field of stars, whence thou didst shed thy mysterious vision granted to the founder of Christian Europe. One evening after a day of toil, Charlemagne, standing on the shore of the Frisian Sea, beheld a long belt of stars, which seemed to divide the sky between Gaul, Germany, and Italy, and crossing over Gascony, the Basque territory, and Navarre, stretched away to the far-off province of Galicia. Then thou didst appear to him and say: “This starry path marks out the road for thee to go and deliver my tomb; and all nations shall follow after thee.” And Charles, crossing the mountains, gave the signal to all Christendom to undertake those great crusades, which were both the salvation and the glory of the Latin races, by driving back the Mussulman plague to the land of its birth.

When we consider that two tombs formed, as it were, the two extreme points or poles of this movement unparalleled in the history of nations: the one wherein the God-Man rested in death, the other where thy body lay, O son of Zebedee, we cannot help crying out with the Psalmist: “Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable!” And what mark of friendship did the Son of Man bestow on His humble apostle by sharing His honours with him, when the military orders and Hospitallers were established, to the terror of the Crescent, for the sole purpose, at the outset, of entertaining and protecting pilgrims on their way to one or other of these holy tombs! May the heavenly impulse, now so happily showing itself in the return to the great Catholic pilgrimages, gather once more at Compostella the sons of thy former clients. We, at least, will imitate St. Louis before the walls of Tunis, murmuring with his dying lips the collect of thy feast; and we will repeat in conclusion: “Be Thou, O Lord, the sanctifier and guardian of Thy people; that, defended by the protection of Thy apostle James, they may please Thee by their conduct, and serve Thee with secure minds.”

The Martyrdom of St. James the Greater by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, 1722

July 25.—ST. JAMES, Apostle.

AMONG the twelve, three were chosen as the familiar companions of our blessed Lord, and of these James was one. He alone, with Peter and John, was admitted to the house of Jairus when the dead maiden was raised to life. They alone were taken up to the high mountain apart, and saw the face of Jesus shining as the sun, and His garments white as snow; and these three alone witnessed the fearful agony in Gethsemane. What was it that won James a place among the favorite three? Faith, burning, impetuous, and outspoken, but which needed. purifying before the "Son of Thunder" could proclaim the gospel of peace. It was James who demanded fire from heaven to consume the inhospitable Samaritans, and who sought the place of honor by Christ in His Kingdom. Yet Our Lord, in rebuking his presumption, prophesied his faithfulness to death. When St. James was brought before King Herod Agrippa, his fearless confession of Jesus crucified so moved the public prosecutor that he declared himself a Christian on the spot. Accused and accuser were hurried off together to execution, and on the road the latter begged pardon of the Saint. The apostle had long since forgiven him, but hesitated for a moment whether publicly to accept as a brother one still unbaptized. God quickly recalled to him the Church's faith, that the blood of martyrdom supplies for every sacrament, and, falling on his companion's neck, he embraced him, with the words, "Peace be with thee!" Together then they knelt for the sword, and together received the crown.

Reflection.—We must all desire a place in the kingdom of our Father; but can we drink the chalice which He holds out to each? Possumus, we must say with SL. James—"We can"—but only in the strength of Him Who has drunk it first for us.

The Martyrdom of St. James, Illumination by Jean Fouquet, 1452


Commemoration of
St. Christopher


Præsta, quæsumus, omnípotens Deus: ut, qui beáti Christophori Mártyris tui natalítia cólimus, intercessióne ejus in tui nóminis amóre roborémur. Per Dóminum...

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who celebrate the martyrdom of blessed Christopher, through his intercession may be strengthened in your love. Through our Lord...

The Liturgical Year
by Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.

The name of Christopher, whose memory enhances the solemnity of the son of thunder, signifies one who bears Christ. Christina yesterday reminded us that Christians ought to be in every place the good odour of Christ; Christopher today puts us in mind that Christ truly dwells by faith in our hearts. The graceful legend attached to his name is well known. As other men were, at a later date, to sanctify themselves in Spain by construction roads and bridges to facilitate the approach of pilgrims to the tomb of St. James, so Christopher in Lycia had vowed for the love of Christ to carry travelers on his strong shoulders across a dangerous torrent. Our Lord will say on the last day: “What you did to one of these my least brethren, you did it unto Me.” One night, being awakened by the voice of a child asking to be carried across, Christopher hastened to perform his wonted task of charity, when suddenly, in the midst of the surging and apparently trembling waves, the giant, who had never stooped beneath the greatest weight, was bent down under his burden, now grown heavier than the world itself. “Be not astonished,” said the mysterious child, “thou bearest Him who bears the world.” And He disappeared, blessing His carrier and leaving him full of heavenly strength.

Christopher was crowned with martyrdom under Decius. The aid our fathers knew who to obtain from him against storms, demons, plague, accidents of all kinds, has cause him to be ranked among the saints called helpers. In many places the fruits of the orchards were blessed on this day, under the common auspices of St. Christopher and St. James.

Who Are The Dangerous Fundamentalists?

I was heartened to read a piece today by New York Times columnist Frank Bruni on the dangers inherent in using lables such as "religious right" to characterize Christians. Bruni makes some astute comments on how the kind of Christianity espoused by US politician and sometime presidential hopeful Michelle Bachmann. Bachmann is back in the news for denouncing a prominent Washington politico and onetime Hilary Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, as a Muslim Brotherhood infiltrator and security threat.

Bruni asks the question, should we accept a poltician's self-description as being "deeply religious" when it clashes with our understandings (and there are many) of what it means to be a religious person? Why, Bruni asks, do "we accept [Bachmann's] descriptions of herself, and in turn describe her, as a deeply religious woman. That grants too much credence to her particular, peculiar and highly selective definition of piety. And it offends the many admirable people of faith whose understanding and practice of religion aren’t, like hers, confrontational and small-minded."

Bruni is right to point to a Christian spectrum in North America that is widely divided between left and right, and where some may be socially liberal but theologicaly conservative. He's right to remind us that extremism is extremism and fundamentalism is fundamentalism, whether we are talking about certain Moslems or certain Christians. He raises the interesting question, are extremist Christians in government more of a threat than potential Moslem infiltrators?

Before we accept a leader's claims that they are religious, Bruni suggests that we first examine their actions. He quotes US mayor Corey Booker, who says “Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people. Before you tell me how much you love your God, show me how much you love all His children.”

A Call To Rest: A Sermon For The Eighth Sunday Of Pentecost

A Sermon Preached at Christ the King Chapel, CFB Suffield, Ralston, AB, 22 July, 2012

Readings for the Eighth Sunday of Pentecost, Lectionary Year B: 2 Samuel 7:1-14a, Psalm 23, Ephesians 2:11-22, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Jesus said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." (Mark 6:31)

For a preacher just coming back from a week of vacation, this verse from Mark’s gospel, near the top of our reading for today, rings true with me. A week in Canada’s beautiful mountain parks, hiking and canoeing with my son, was a welcome break for me. But Jesus, I think, is saying something more profound that simply “take a break”. The rest he is speaking about is spiritual and theological, and needs to be understand in terms of our deepest relationships to him and to God his father.

We first need to understand that Jesus is offering rest to people who sorely need it. Today's gospel passage follows Jesus sending out the twelve disciples in Mk 6b-13 (that and today’s reading are separated by the account of Herod’s killing of John the Baptizer). So the disciples have had a hard tasking, doing the work that Jesus has called them to … preaching and healing. Now they have come back, and Jesus is reminding them that they need to recharge in his presence. I say his presence because he doesn’t say “go to a deserted place”, he says “come” and that come implies “come with me”.

I think that there are several places where we can see ourselves reflected in today's gospel reading, and one of them is as the disciples called to rest with Jesus. For us his followers, we need to be reminded that the work that Jesus has called us to, the work begun in our baptism and summed up in our baptismal covenant, is hard work. It’s not easy being true to Jesus in a world that is so busy, so consumed with the needs of self – acquisition, promotion, advantage. The only way we can find the energy to do this work is to rest with Jesus, to be in his company, to shelter with him and be recharged by him. That rest is pointed to in Psalm 23 that we read today.

This spiritual dimension of rest, of true rest, is quite different from the superficial rest we often settle for. This week past, while on holiday, I saw a lot of busy people trying to rest. Getting on the road, hauling a big RV, making timetables, setting up camp, trying to keep the kids occupied, choosing from a huge variety of leisure choices (horseback riding, canoeing, whitewater rafting, helicopter tours, ziplines, hikes, etc), and basically moving the suburban existence to a campground, well, I don’t think it was real rest. At least, not for me. There were only a few moments on my week when I really felt I was resting, and several of those were quiet times of prayer and reflection. The reality is that even when we try to rest, we are fearfully busy and preoccupied, and that’s when we need Jesus the most.

The second place we see ourselves in this gospel reading, I suggest, is in the crowds who “hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of [Jesus] (Mk 6:34). These are the people who know that only Jesus can give them rest from their diseases and cares. On one hand, I feel pity for Jesus, that even in his attempt to rest, he is swamped with human need. On the other hand, I feel gratitude that Jesus doesn’t react with irritation, or with compassion fatigue,in those moments when we turn to Jesus for relief.

Rest in this context is the knowledge thatGod is present with us in the form of his Son and of the Holy Spirit, and that God has compassion for us. Rest is relief from our self-doubting, from our guilt and from our self-accusation, and from our fear that the world is empty, indifferent, or even hostile to us. When in our second lesson from Ephesians, Paul speaks about God has ended the "hostility" that is between us and God, he is speaking about this rest. Rest is forgivness rather than condemnation. Paul goes on to say that God through Christ has made us "citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God" (Eph 2:19), he is talking about the rest of the soul. Isn't home and family, at their best, the place where we can find rest and refuge at the end of a long, hard day? Rest is knowing that we have a home in the family of God, of which our worship in the chapel is a foretaste. We may be relative strangers to one another here, but this hour of rest and friendship is an aspect of the rest that Christ offers us.

Being a Christian in the world is difficult work. It is costly to love, hard to forgive, tiring to try and discern God's will and direction, difficult to give in and go with the flow of our society, which places self and choice before all else. It's all a tough slog, which is why Christ's offer to "come ... and rest for a while" is made to each of us. We need to take advantage of those moments, to rest for a moment from our vocation as disciples and as Christians, but also to seek the rest from our burdens, cares and griefs that is Christ's promise to each of us who would be his followers. So my prayer for all of us this summer is look for places of rest, whether in the canoe, the hammock, or the forest trail, but also to look for that deep and spiritual rest that we only find with Christ our Lord and shepherd. Amen.

. Amen.

Optional Memorials: Saint Sharbel Makhluf - in Ireland, Saint Declan

Ottawa's Maronite Parish is under the patronage of St. Sharbel, a monk and priest mystic, who died in 1898. 

A little known church in our Archdiocese is the mission church of the parish of the Holy Name of Mary in Almont, dedicated to the Irish saint recalled today, St. Declan; the church is located at Brightside (sometime referred to as French Line). 

Herewith brief notices of each saint whose memory may be recalled at Mass today:

St. Sharbel was a Lebanese monk, born in a small mountain village and ordained in 1858. Devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he spent the last twenty-three years of his life as a hermit. Despite temptations to wealth and comfort, Saint Sharbel taught the value of poverty, self-sacrifice and prayer by the way he lived his life.

* * *

O God, who called the Priest Saint Sharbel Makhluf to the solitary combat of the desert and imbued him with all manner of devotion, grant us, we pray, that, being made imitators of the Lord's Passion, we may merit to be co-heirs of his Kingdom. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

* * * * * *

St. Declan, the first bishop of Ardmore in Ireland, was baptized by St. Colman, and preached the faith in that country a little before the arrival of St. Patrick, who confirmed the episcopal see of Ardmore, in a synod at Cashel in 448. Many miracles are ascribed to St. Declan, and he has ever been much honoured.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Collect of the Day: Feria in the Eighth Week After Pentecost

Tuesday in the Eighth Week After Pentecost

Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised, in the city of God in his holy mountain.
(From the introit of the day's Mass, Ps. 47. 11)

The Virgin Mary and the Christ Child, fresco in the Church of Notre-Dame, Montmorillon, France, circa 1200

Collect of the Day

Largíre nobis, quæsumus, Dómine, semper spíritum cogitándi quæ recta sunt, propítius, et agéndi: ut, qui sine te esse non póssumus, secúndum te vivere valeámus. Per Dómminum…

Graciously grant to us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the spirit to think and do always such things as are rightful: that we, who cannot exist without Thee, may be enabled to live according to Thy will. Through…

Epistle - Romans, 8. 12-17 / Gospel - St. Luke, 16. 1-19

The Spiritual Combat
by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli

Virtues are to be aquired one at a time and be degrees.

Although a true servant of Jesus Christ, aspiring to the heights of perfection, should set no limits to his spiritual advancement, he should nevertheless exercise prudence as regards those excesses of fervor to which he is prone, and which at first seem feasible. For first fervor is apt to cool and may be entirely extinguished. It must be seen then, that besides the methods we have advocated with regard to exterior exercises, interior virtues too cannot be acquired but by degrees. For the foundations of a solid and lasting piety must be laid painstakingly, after which in a short time we may expect to make considerable progress.

For example, you must not attempt to acquire patience by immediately seeking crosses in which to delight; rather seek first the lowest degrees of this great virtue. Similarly, do not aim at all sorts of virtue-nor even many-simultaneously, but cultivate one firmly, then another, if you wish such habits to take deep root in your soul with greater facility. For in the acquisition of a particular virtue, and in the focusing of thought upon its cultivation, the memory will be exercised more in this one line of endeavor; your understanding, enlightened by divine assistance, will find new means and stronger motives for attaining it, and the will itself will be invigorated with fresh ardor in the pursuit. Such concentrated power of action is not possible when the three faculties are divided, as it were, by different objects.

Also, the acts necessary for the formation of the virtuous habit, mutually assisting each other to the same end, will be attended with much less difficulty as the latter acts make a deep impression on the heart, already suitably predisposed by the former ones.

The cogency of these reasons will appeal to you more forcibly if you reflect that anyone strenuously engaged in the pursuit of anyone virtue, unconsciously advances in the practice of the rest. Moreover, the attainment of anyone to an eminent degree inevitably introduces a great perfection to the others as they are, like the rays of the sun, almost inseparably united.


The world's first international TV broadcast by satellite happened 50 years ago today.

The Sixties was something that for me mostly happened on TV. I was way too young to know or care what Vietnam, Civil Rights, or the Counterculture were, but I do remember the Space Program. I haven't seen anything quite like that ever again.

Did I mention that I really like The Tornadoes?

Optional Memorial: St. Bridget

O God, who guided Saint Bridget of Sweden along different paths of life and wondrously taught her the wisdom of the Cross as she contemplated the Passion of your Son, grant us, we pray, that, walking worthily in our vocation, we may seek you in all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Collect of the Day: St. Apollinaris

St. Apollinaris
Bishop, Martyr

O ye priests of the Lord, bless the Lord: O ye holy and humble of heart, praise God.
(From the introit of the day's Mass, Dan. 3. 84)

Collect of the Day

Deus, fidélium remunerátor animárum, qui hunc diem beáti Apollináris Sacerdótis tui martyrio consecrásti: tríbue nobis, quæsumus, fámulis tuis; ut, cujus venerándam celebrámus festivitátem, précibus ejus indulgéntiam consequámur. Per Dóminum nostrum...

O God, the Rewarder of faithful souls, who hast consecrated this day by the martyrdom of blessed Apollinaris, Thy priest; we beseech Thee: grant to us Thy servants, that the prayer of him whose holy festival we are keeping may obtain for us the forgiveness of our sins. Through...

Epistle - 1 Peter, 5. 1-11 / Gospel - St. Luke, 22. 24-30

The Basilica of St. Apollinaris, Ravenna, Italy

July 23.—ST. APOLLINARIS, Bishop and Martyr.

ST. APOLLINARIS was the first Bishop of Ravenna; he sat twenty years, and was crowned with martyrdom in the reign of Vespasian. He was a disciple of St. Peter, and made by him Bishop of Ravenna. St. Peter Chrysologus, the most illustrious among his successors, has left us a sermon in honor of our Saint, in which he often styles him a martyr; but adds, that though he frequently suffered for the Faith, and ardently desired to lay down his life for Christ, yet God preserved him a long time to His Church, and did not allow the persecutors to take away his life. So he seems to have been a martyr only by the torments he endured for Christ, which he survived at least some days. His body lay first at Classis, four miles from Ravenna, still a kind of suburb to that city, and its seaport till it was choked up by the sands. In the year 549 his relics were removed into a more secret vault in the same church. St. Fortunatus exhorted his friends to make pilgrimages to the tomb, and St. Gregory the Great ordered parties in doubtful suits at law to be sworn before it. Pope Honorius built a church under the name of Apollinaris in Rome, about the year 630. It occurs in all martyrologies, and the high veneration which the Church paid early to his memory is a sufficient testimony of his eminent sanctity and apostolic spirit.

Reflection.—The virtue of the Saints was true and heroic, because humble and proof against all trials. Persevere in your good resolutions: it is not enough to begin well; you must so continue to the end.