Saturday, September 24, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
here. My prayers for all your good work!
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 8:59 AM
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 10:47 AM
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
I was in Orlando for a Board meeting on Friday and had a couple hours at the airport waiting for some of my colleagues to arrive. I found a nice little place outside the Disney Store with a plug to recharge my cell phone and proceeded to people watch.
All sorts of people pass through the Orlando airport, but the one performance that repeats like clockwork is the little kid, usually 3-4 years old, who has a bad case of the crankies. The dialogue to this play usually goes something like this:
Parents: Now we need to get the bags.
Kid: But I don’t understand, I wanna see Mickey Mouse!
Parents: Now we have to get the rental car.
Kid: No, I wanna see Mickey!
Parents: Now we drive to the Hotel.
Kid: No! Mickey! Mickey! Mickey!
You know how piercing the weeping screams of a three year old’s tantrum can be?
And that’s what today’s Gospel is about. God’s the Boss. And he pays everyone the same thing. But the shop stewards don’t understand and protest loudly. And how does God respond: What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Are you envious because I am generous?
Jesus does not give us this parable as a model on how to run a business, of course. It’s much simpler than that. He gives it to us to tell us that most of the time we’re not going to be able to figure out why something happens; For his ways are, in the words of Sirach, as high above our ways and the heavens are above the earth.
He is God. And we are his little creatures. Weak, foolish, and so often incapable of discerning his will for us, never mind the grand schemes of his plan for creation.
Why does a particular person die at a particular time and in a particular way?
We lodge our protests! No, Lord! You messed it up. He should not have suffered like that!
Why does one get rich and another (usually you or me) stay poor?
Again, we protest! No, Lord! You must have forgot. I was supposed to win the lottery!
Why do I get cancer, or heart disease, or Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
Don’t you remember, Lord?! After all I’ve done for you! Are you an ingrate?!
And each time, there we are: little tiny us, before the immensity of the Eternal God through whom all things were made; We are like the three year old, who doesn’t want to wait for the bags or the car, but wants to see Mickey, right now!
But you know what the parent did every time in the Orlando airport? The same thing God does.
He looks with love on us in our littleness. And holds us close in our pain and neurotic befuddlement. And he loves us all the more and tries patiently to teach us his ways, the ways of love...the infinite love of a God who loves us unto death, giving up even his last breath and the last drop of blood in love.. And in his inscrutable plan, he asks us simply to do the same.
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 9:09 PM
Among the most frequent questions which I have encountered in the one hundred and twenty one presbyterates to whom I have tried to explain the new Roman Missal, is the meaning of the new and more faithful translation of pro multis in the words of consecration over the chalice. So I propose to try to summarize my answer in a couple short paragraphs for the benefit of those who read this blog.
As you know, the words of consecration spoken by the Priest over the chalice conclude, in the name of the Lord, with a reference to his Precious Blood qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum, now more accurately rendered as “which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Why has the translation changed from “poured our for all” to “poured out for many”? The first and most obvious reason is that pro multis means “for many” and not “for all,” as Pope Benedict XVI has himself pointed out.
But this is not enough of an explanation. For, having accurately translated the text, we are still confused as to its meaning. Didn’t Christ shed his Precious Blood for the salvation of the whole world? Why does the Sacred Liturgy have him saying that he shed his blood “for many.”
First, it’s important to recall that the phrase “poured out for many” comes from the Lord himself. The Gospels report that the Lord commands his Apostles to drink from the Chalice of his Precious Blood which would be poured our τὸ περὶ πολλῶν (Matthew 26:28 ) or ὑπὲρ πολλῶν (Mark 14:24). Every major English translation renders these phrases as “for many.”
So the Liturgy quotes Jesus as saying he will shed his blood “for many,” because that’s what the Gospels say.
But what did Jesus mean by this? The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent asked the same question: Did Christ die for all? Their response was yes, but all did not accept it. "If we look to its value, we must confess that the Redeemer shed his blood for the salvation of all; but if we look to the fruit which mankind have received from it, we shall easily find that it pertains not unto all, but to many of the human race."
So Christ, who often tells us that the paschal sacrifice he offers is on behalf of the whole world, implies at the last supper that his perfect sacrifice will not be accepted by some, and therefore it is actually offered “for many”.
Perhaps the context of the Last Supper might shed some light on the Lord’s words. Recall how John the Evangelist relates the story: “After Judas received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’” (John 13:27)
I can imagine the Lord looking at the empty chair which used to belong to his betrayer and, as he passes the Chalice to his disciples declaring, “this is my Blood...which will be poured out for you and...for many...for the forgiveness of sins
Shed for all, accepted by many. But in any case, “How blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb!”
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 9:00 PM
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Ars Celebrandi (Monday)
Rhetorical Style (Wednesday)
Here's a copy of my
Homily for the Feast of Saint John Chrysostom:
I spoke last night about the priest as an image of Christ. And this morning, as Saint Paul describe the ministry of Bishop, what that that means in practice.
While I'll recuse myself from extended commentaries on the disadvantages of clergy who are married more than once, drunkards, or lovers of money, allow me to concentrate these brief remarks on, on the priest as temperate, teaching, and gentle.
First, Saint Paul tells us, the priest must be temperate, self-controlled, decent, and hospitable. What does that mean? It means that he is not like the debtor in Sunday’s parable who, having been forgiven, runs out to find the guy who owes him a pittance and, with his hands around his neck, screams in his face. It means the priest, especially the High Priest, is patient. Why? Because he loves, and like the mother whose toddler has broken the third toy of the day, his love keeps him from exploding.
I think of some of the spiritual directors I have had in that period which in my spiritual biography could be labeled my stupid/stubborn phase. I think of Father Leigh, who in College would sit for hours on end as I waxed eloquent on everything that was wrong with the rest of the world in a vain attempt to distract him from the log protruding conspicuously from my eye. Yet he sat there and listened and loved me. And the signs of his love were a temperance and self-control which could only be born of mercy, and a decency and hospitality that invited me to be myself in that moment...to know that I would be loved as I was in order that I might become what God wanted me to be. That’s temperance.
Second, the high priest must be able to teach. You know, I really believe that I have never learned anything important from anyone whom I did not think loved me and loved the truth equally. Jesus was just like that with his disciples. Loving them to death, literally, but with a love which was the truth.
I think of the line from the parson’s tale by Chaucer about the good priest “Christe’s lore and his apostles twelve he taught, but first he followed it himself.”
We learn of the crucified from his apostles who are willing to be crucified for love of us and love of the Lord. We learn of the Paschal mystery from those who die and rise in a sacrifice of love before our eyes. We learn of Christ from those who are so conformed to his kenotic sacrifice that they disappear before our eyes and we see only the Lord.
To be able to teach is to be able to get out of the way and let the paschal love of the Savior shine forth for all the world to see.
And, finally, there is gentleness. Be not aggressive, not contentious, but gentle, Saint Paul tells us. Gentleness is easy, even required, with a little baby. As you cradle that tender life in your arms you’re so grateful for the stark beauty that it brings tears to your eyes. And so you so easily cradle that little child with utter love and devotion.
But it’s not so easy with the lady swearing at you for getting her mother’s name wrong at the four o’clock Mass, or the guy who’s convinced you’re just one of those priest pedophiles, or the folks who think the Church is just a racket to make money and you’re just one of its shills. Or the old lady in the nursing home who in her dementia just spits at you and repeats your words, or the one in the back pew every morning who has made it her life’s work to write letters about you to the Bishop, or the drunk who’s back for the fourth time this week trying a new angle to get money. Or....you fill in the blank.
Not quite so easy to be tender as to the sweet little innocent baby in your arms. That is until you look behind her anger at the husband who beat her for twenty years, or behind the rage to his child who was molested, or behind the disdain to a guy who really got burnt by your predecessor, or behind the dementia to a life uncontrollaby slipping away, or behind the complaining to a desperate emptiness, or behind the bottle to a life of uncontrolled disease. For, behind their brokenness, in our better moments, we see the pain, the fear, the desolation and the heavy burdens under which they labor. And then, if but for a moment, we can be tender like Christ with the woman whom others would stone, gentle, like Christ, with the impetuous Prince of the Apostles, loving, like Christ, with those whom everyone else would forget or throw away.
Temperate, teaching, and gentle. That is what Bishops and Priest are called to be. For only then, will we possess in the golden words of Saint John Chrysostom “the kind of hands they ought to minister these things, and the kind of tongue which utters such words, “ For Priests are called,” he tells us, to be “the salt of the earth.”
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 6:19 PM
Friday, September 9, 2011
They are the best of Catholics, these friends of mine. Now approaching their mid-80‘s, they live in a neighborhood which was once teaming with children. But the kids have all grown up and the cars that come and go are usually on their way to the doctor’s office or coming back from CVS.
They are lovely people. Faithful, caring, and very good to everyone around them...not very different from you and me.
Which is why it was not a surprise when Mary told me she was starting to pray for Doris, who had lived next door for almost fifty years and was now in the hospital. Doris died. And soon her grieving children were replaced, walking up the driveway, by a procession of younger couples, led by an anxious looking agent from Century Twenty-One.
Each week my friends would file reports with me on who was looking at the house. A French couple (my friends are very Irish) gave them a twinge, but they told me they looked like nice people. Then there was the black couple. And they told me their little son was very cute.
But then one day I went to see Mary and John and Mary was the one looking anxious. So I asked John, who came to see the house this week? And he told me it was a Japanese couple. And Mary was none too happy.
I’ve always tried to be a good Catholic, she told me with tears in her eyes. But they killed my Uncle Jackie, so what am I supposed to do?
Ten years ago, from my office in Washington D.C. (Monsignor Fay’s office was right above mine) I watched the plane disappear behind the trees by the Washington Monument, followed by a big puff of smoke. And then there was the Anthrax, and the agonizing over how to do a funeral for just a body part, and the folks I new in Tower II, and Gerry’s Son, and so many dark and painful memories.
And then, a few weeks later, I was back on a plane. And that guy in front of me, he looks suspicious. And that gal in the head scarf. Do they let people on with head scarfs? And those young Arab kids. He’s in first class. Why’s he in first class? Weren’t they in first class?
And fear threatened to make me into something I am not...or at least something I have tried not to be.
A part of all of us want to judge, condemn, and execute sentence. A primitive and dark part of each of us who lost someone or some part of ourselves ten years ago wants to yell “They killed my Uncle Jackie! Get ‘em!”
And then, in her patient and infinite wisdom, our Mother, the Church gives us Sirach:
“Wrath and anger are hateful things!”
Wrath and anger is what caused Mohammad Atta to board that plane in Boston and kill all those people in New York. Wrath and Anger.
So, how am I to react? If it is with more wrath and anger, I become nothing more than a cog in an endless killing machine of hate and destruction...Satan’s own Hate-O-Matic, gobbling up good people and turning them into darkness.
“Forgive your neighbor's injustice” Sirach declares....”Remember your last days, set enmity aside...remember the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults.
And to that Jesus adds: Love your enemy. Pray for those who persecute you.
Yet we’re so much like the debtor, who owed a huge amount, who in his master’s absence, he beat those who owed him but a pittance, seizing him and choking him and screaming in his face.”
And when his master returned, what did he say to this wicked servant?
"I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Oh God. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 7:58 PM