Sunday, March 25, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
By your help, we beseech you, Lord our God,
may we walk eagerly in that same charity with which,
out of love for the world,
your Son handed himself over to death.
This prayer from the ancient Mozarabic Missal is really a reflection on one word: Caritas. Caritas is variously translated into English as charity or love.
Jesus uses the word caritas because his love is a love like no other. He is the author of love and he is love. His love is the love which gives unto death. This caritas is the model for all love and purpose of all life: to be conformed to the imaged and likeness of God, that we might love others as he has loved us.
To be one with Christ in this love, is to walk eagerly with him in the same caritas that led him to the cross out of live for us. The First Letter of John, which probably inspired today’s Collect, says it best:
In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. For God so loved the world that he gave* his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (1 Jn 4: 10-13).
It is this kind of love which leaves the world speechless. The kind of love which led Saint Maximilian Kolbe to offer his life in trade for a husband and father in a Nazi death camp. The kind of love which led Saint Gianna Beretta to offer her life to save the life of her child. This kind of love led Mother Theresa to the streets of Calcutta and the martyrs to accept their deaths.
But this kind of love is lived out in our daily lives, as well, in the thousands of opportunities we have to choose the self-sacrificing love which flows from the wood of the cross and not our own selfish desires. Saint Theresa of Lisieux understood this best when she once wrote:
“When things that are irritable or disagreeable befall me, instead of assuming an air of sadness, I respond by a smile. At first I was not always successful, but now it is a habit which I am very happy to have acquired.”
Let us then walk eagerly with all the saints the road to calvary which our Savior trod. The road of love which brings life and perfect Paschal joy.
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 10:37 PM
he magnificent illustrations in the new Roman Pontifical were created by Daniel Mitsui. His exceptional plates provide an extraordinary reflection on the liturgical and typological dimensions of the Pontifical rites.
o to this link to download a commentary on these illustrations.
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 9:57 PM
Thursday, March 15, 2012
The NEW ROMAN PONTIFICAL is available for shipping! To get your copy in time for the BLESSING OF HOLY OILS in Holy Week, just CLICK THIS LINK.
This publication of the Holy See through the Vox Clara Committee contains the rites most frequently celebrated by the Bishop, including the text of the Rites of Ordination of a Bishop, of Priests, and of Deacons as approved and confirmed for the Dioceses of the United States of America and many other countries. This text is updated so as to harmonize with The Roman Missal (2011). While The Pontificalcontains similarly updated texts of The Institution of Lectors and Acolytes, The Blessing of Abbots and Abbesses, The Consecration of Virgins and The Rite of Confirmation, this edition contains the older translation of the Blessing of Oils, which formerly appeared in The Sacramentary.
All the rites in the book are the original ICEL texts, with technical updates so as facilitate the Bishop in his liturgical ministry and to avoid questions arising about compatibility with The Roman Missal.
This Clothbound Edition contains large, easy-to-read type, durable Smyth-sewn binding, satin ribbon markers, and specially commissioned, full-color artwork based on fifteenth-century manuscript illustrations.
The retail price of $150.00 each includes shipping to the continental United States*. Those who purchase 4 or more copies will enjoy a 10% discount ($135.00 each) in addition to saving the cost of shipping to the continental United States.
*Available for shipment worldwide for extra shipping cost. Please email info@catholicbookpublishing or call 1-973-890-2400 for details.
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 10:39 PM
Sunday, March 11, 2012
O God, who through your Word reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way, grant, we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come.
Lent is more than half way done, and so we celebrate Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday, with a Collect which, at least in its first half, has been with us from the days of the Gelasian Sacramentary. The second half is even older, having been taken from a sermon of Pope Gregory the Great.
The prayer begins by addressing God as the one who, through Jesus his Word made flesh, reconciles the humanity to himself in a wonderful way. That wonderful way, of course, is by the Paschal Sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. By his suffering we are redeemed, and by his death we have come to inherit eternal life.
But having received this great gift of our salvation, to what are we called? This is the subject of the second half of the prayer. That’s where the sermon of Pope Gregory the Great comes in. He begins by talking about Lent itself, noting that no matter how much we are fasting, we should hunger more for the Word of God than for food! He continues:
“...let us with ready devotion and eager faith enter upon the celebration of the solemn fast, not with barren abstinence from food, which is often imposed on us by weakliness of body, or the disease of avarice, but in bountiful benevolence... Let us rejoice in works of piety and let us be filled with the kind of food which gives us eternal life. Let us rejoice in feeding the poor... [and] in the clothing of the naked. Let our humanity be felt by the sick...by the weak...by exiles...by orphans...by widows: in helping those whom no one else will help.”
Then will we “hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come.” For if we have lived Lent in prayer, fasting and caring for those whom everyone else has forgotten, we will be able to celebrate the Paschal Triduum as never before.
When Christ kneels to wash the feet of his Apostles and tells them to love others as he has loved them, we will remember those whom we have fed and clothed and loved in their poverty.
When he opens his arms in a perfect act of love, we will remember the hours we have spent praying before the cross, ever seeking to join our hearts to his.
And when he rises from the deathly tomb, defeating darkness and sin, we will recall the victories we have won against the sins of our lives by turning from the pleasures of this world and seeking only the Kingdom of Heaven.
This is the meaning of Laetare Sunday, of Lenten joy. For the fruit of our prayer, fasting and almsgiving is the Paschal mysteries of life which we will soon celebrate in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 11:19 AM
O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness, who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving have shown us a remedy for sin, look graciously on this confession of our lowliness, that we, who are bowed down by our conscience, may always be lifted up by your mercy.
Since the eighth century Gelasian Sacramentary, this Collect has been prayed in the season of Lent, reminding us of the meaning and purpose of this Holy Season.
On this Third Sunday of Lent, we all might be in need of a reminder that the purpose of Lent is to repent of our sins and receive the mercy of God. If you’ve been to confession already, you know the unimaginable feeling of having your sins forgiven. When that priest says, I absolve you in the name of the Blessed Trinity, we know our sins are forgiven by the one who said to his Apostles, “what you loose on earth is loosed in heaven!”
Confession is the only remedy for sin, but it is humbling. It is, in the words of today’s prayer, being bowed down by our conscience.
For when we truly listen to our conscience and realize how petty and small our selfish little hearts can be, and how infinite is God’s love for us, we cannot help but be lifted up by his mercy. We are little and God is big. We are weighed down with our sins, and he is ever lifting us up with his mercy.
Do you remember the words we pray in dialogue with the priest before the great Eucharistic Prayer? Sursum corda, he says to us. Lift up your hearts! But we cannot lift up our hearts alone we need the power of God, the power of his infinite mercy to dig us up from the dunghill of our own selfishness and sin.
Confession is, then, is the only way to be raised up from our sins, but what can led us to such confession? God, who is the “author of every mercy and of all goodness” gives us three helps, three remedies to get us to confession: fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
Remember when Jesus drives the devil our of the epileptic demoniac? He says that that “sort of demon is driven out only by both prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:27).
Or that great admonition of Saint Augustine: “Do you wish your prayer to fly toward God? Make for it two wings: fasting and almsgiving” (En. ps. 42, 8).
This is the kind of fasting that lets go of everything so that we might cling only to God. The kind of prayer that reminds us of the love we have abandoned. The kind of almsgiving which causes us to love as Christ first loved us. It tears us away from our selfish pity parties, and recreates us in the image of the Lord who loved us unto death.
So, bow down to the Lord! Confess your sins! And this Lent the Lord will reach down from heaven and raise you up with his mercy!
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 11:18 AM
Our Lady of the Annunciation
Queensbury, New York
We’re deep into the season of Lent. You can hear it in the opening prayer for today’s Mass, which Christians have been praying for more than twelve hundred years. It is a time of “fasting, prayer and almsgiving....a remedy for sin...[a] confession of [the] lowliness...of we, who are bowed down by our conscience.
So, what do we seek by all this fasting and prayer and almsgiving? We seek the righteous Jesus who drives money changers out of the Temple and demons out of our hearts.
Just like he Saint we will celebrate next Saturday, with green beer and shamrocks, corned beef and limericks. Just like him.
As a little kid I knew only three things about Saint Patrick: the first was that he was my middle name. The second was that he wore green. I remember once when I was in High School when, because it was Saint Patrick’s day, I showed up to serve the morning Mass all decked out in a green shirt, green tie and a shamrock on my lapel as proud as it was large. I delayed vesting in cassock and surplice so that the good Father McCarron could admire the pride I took in our common heritage. He took one look at me and grumbled (he always grumbled in the morning): it’s not the wearin’ of the green that makes you Irish, it’s the livin’ of the life.
Years later, I would find an echo of that grumble in Saint Patrick’s own confession, where the Saint exhorts the faithful: “Would that you too would strive for greater things and perform more excellent deeds. This will be my glory, because a wise son is the glory of his father.”
Which brings me to the third thing I knew about Saint Patrick as a child: that he drove the snakes out of Ireland: my earliest image of the great Saint was of a kind of divine exterminator, casting barrels of slithering snakes into a cold Gaelic sea. It’s an image not too far from Jesus, with whip in hand, driving them out of the temple as we read a few minutes ago. Patrick had his snakes and Jesus had his money changers. But what does that have to do with us.
Well, you see, here’s the secret: The snakes which Saint Patrick drove from Erin’s shores were not the kind that slither along the ground. No, the reptilian nemesis of the Bishop of the Emerald Isle was the sort which wends its way into men’s hearts and, like the serpent which led to the fall of our first parents, deceives its way into our lives and casts us out of the paradise God has created into the cold, dark hell of selfishness and sin.
So by the grace of him who drove them from the Temple I invite you, for a bit, to go on a mod-Lenten snake hunting trip with me, for the evil which slithers into our hearts and which follows the serpentine paths of our own deception.
By the hands of Moses, God gives us a script for this journey, and while this morning does not give us the time to consider all ten of its parts, I recommend two commandments for your consideration: I am the Lord your God, and You Shall not Lie.
I am the Lord your God.
The first commandment from Sinai establishes the foundation for the rest. Saint Patrick describes it in these words: “There is no other God, nor was there ever before, nor will there be hereafter.”
It is the clarion call of the Shema Israel: The Lord is God, and he alone! Herein lies the core of our religion: that we don’t call the shots…God does! That he is truth and there is no truth apart from him, no matter how many times we say otherwise. For :
No matter how many times we make believe that we’re made for pleasure and he who dies with the most toys wins…it just ain’t true!
No matter how many times politicians or anyone else make believe that an embryo is just a bunch of cells and that they can decide who lives and dies …it just ain’t true!
No matter how many times we make believe that democracy determines truth and marriage is made and defined by civil authority …it just ain’t true!
No matter how many times we make believe that belief in God is a personal matter and I don’t need the Church and the sacraments …it just ain’t true!
God is in charge. He is the truth. And anything short of that is a lie.
And Second: Thou shalt not lie.
As Saint Patrick once admonished: ‘By your lies, you destroy and kill, and you should dread the judgment seat of God.’
Doesn’t seem too complicated does it? So then, why do we have such a hard time with it? Obfuscations, deceptions, deceipts, fabrications, falsifications, misrepresentations, misstatements, prevarications and subterfuges and little white lies…. Did you ever notice how many words we have for the lie?
But it is really quite simple:
If I say I love God, and I give him nothing. I am a liar.
If I write down that I worked forty hours, and I really worked 36, I’m a liar.
If I say I’m his friend and then talk about him behind his back, I’m a liar.
If I write on line 39c that it was $10,000 and it was really $15,000, I’m a liar.
If I say Yes, Lord, of course! and then walk away, I’m a liar.
And if I am a liar, and I do not confess it, I risk nothing less than the pains of hell. It is kind of simple.
So that’s what Lent is all about: taking up the work of Saint Patrick, which he took up from the Lord: casting out snakes.
Snakes which have ignited a bloody civil war in Syria, where 7,500 people have died in the past several months, with no relief in sight. Snakes which slithered into that teenager’s heart when he shot a man to death in Troy on Thursday. Snakes which rose up in the men found guilty last in Queensbury last week on drug charges, one of whom is now serving four years in jail or in the death of that fifteen month old baby. Snakes which are demons in disguise, slithering about in the cold darkness and seeking your soul.
Snakes which are demons in disguise, slithering about in the cold darkness and seeking your soul.
But be not afraid. For we have a confessional back there and the Holy Mass up here and the Lord Jesus in here, whose Paschal Sacrifice drives out demons form the temples of our hearts.
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 9:41 AM
Friday, March 2, 2012
O God, who have commanded us
to listen to your beloved Son,
be pleased, we pray,
to nourish us inwardly by your word,
that, with spiritual sight made pure,
we may rejoice to behold your glory.
The collect, or opening prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent comes to us by way of the Mozarabic or Spanish Liturgy. For over a century it has served as an invitation to the Lenten Season as we enter more deeply into the mysteries of our faith.
From the earliest days of the Church, Lent has served as a sort of Catechism of the faith, and the Sunday prayers and readings lie at the heart of this effort. This is why this prayer echoes three of the major Gospels of Lent: the Baptism of the Lord, the Temptation in the Desert and the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor.
First, we hear the voice of the Father speaking from heaven as at the Baptism of the Lord. “This is my beloved Son!” But then we hear the same voice from heaven at the Lord’s glorious transfiguration on Mount Tabor: “Listen to him!”
In response to this command, we ask God to “nourish us inwardly by [his] word,” recalling last Sunday’s Gospel of the Temptation in the desert, where Satan tempts the Lord to satisfy his hunger by turning the stones into bread. But Jesus responds, “Man does not live by bread alone, but one every word which comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) There’s a certain irony in that expression, as the words are spoken by the word made flesh, Jesus, the Christ!
When the prayer uses the word “inwardly” there is a special message for us here. For the word of God is not destined to be heard only by our ears, but to be received in our hearts. The word takes root deep within us, it changes us, and makes us into what God wants us to be. It purifies our sight, that we might behold the glory seen by Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor.
In the Second Letter of Saint Peter we find the best explanation of this prayer, and perhaps, the author of today’s collect took this scripture as his source: “For [the Lord] received honor and glory from God the Father* when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, ‘This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1: 17-20)
Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of receiving the word of God into our hearts in his post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, recalling an ancient liturgical prayer that prays: “‘God our Saviour… we implore you for this people: send upon them the Holy Spirit; may the Lord Jesus come to visit them, speak to the minds of all, dispose their hearts to faith and lead our souls to you, God of mercies.’ This makes it clear that we cannot come to understand the meaning of the word unless we are open to the working of the Paraclete in the Church and in the hearts of believers.” (Verbum Domini)
During this second week of Lent, then, let us open our hearts to the word made flesh for us, that by prayer and fasting we might each day draw closer to Christ. For the whole purpose of our lives is to attain that joy which is the vision of the glory of Christ the Lord.
Posted by Monsignor James P. Moroney at 9:38 PM