Wednesday, April 30, 2014

50 Days of Easter - Day 11

We return to Psalm 118/117, the psalm of Paschaltide. In an earlier post we explored its Messianic resonances, and also the commentary of St. John Paul II on this particular Psalm.

Several portions of Psalm have made it into the sacred liturgy. Here is "Haec dies."

Haec dies quam fecit Dominus: exultemus et laetemur in ea.

This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

This is the Gradual (i.e. the Psalm) for Easter Sunday.

 [There was a very tragic incident in the parish today. A young man was killed by a tree falling on his truck in the storms overnight. He leaves behind a widow and five children. Please pray for this family. We need to be reminded always of Christ's Resurrection from the dead, of his conquest of death. Pray for them!] 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

50 Days of Easter - Day 10

April 29 is the Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena in the Roman calendar.

St. Catherine is a remarkable woman, a mystic, a diplomat, an admonisher of Popes, and a lover of God. Today's meditation from the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours is powerful.
I have tasted and seen the depth of your mystery and the beauty of your creation with the light of my understanding. I have clothed myself with your likeness and have seen what I shall be. Eternal Father, you have given me a share in your power and the wisdom that Christ claims as his own, and your Holy Spirit has given me the desire to love you. You are my Creator, eternal Trinity, and I am your creature. You have made of me a new creation in the blood of your Son, and I know that you are moved with love at the beauty of your creation, for you have enlightened me.
Her classical spiritual treatise, the Dialogue, is available online. You can read her famous letter to Pope Gregory XI (on EWTN's website, after her biography).

Learn more about this Saint and Doctor of the Church! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

50 Days of Easter - Day 9

[Travel and the weekend intervened, so I missed out on Days 7 & the Octave, Day 8!]

Today, we'll look at a classic Easter hymn from the Church's treasury of Latin chant: Ad coenam agni providi. It is a 6th century Ambrosian hymn (that is either composed by St. Ambrose or written in his style) and has been the prescribed hymn for Paschaltide in the Roman Breviary (the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily official prayer of the Church) from Easter Sunday until Ascension Day.

Preces Latinae has a full transcript and translation:
AD cenam Agni providi,
stolis salutis candidi,
post transitum maris Rubri
Christo canamus principi.
THE Lamb's high banquet we await
in snow-white robes of royal state:
and now, the Red Sea's channel past,
to Christ our Prince we sing at last.
Cuius corpus sanctissimum
in ara crucis torridum,
sed et cruorem roseum
gustando, Dei vivimus.
Upon the Altar of the Cross
His Body hath redeemed our loss:
and tasting of his roseate Blood,
our life is hid with Him in God.
Protecti paschae vespero
a devastante angelo,
de Pharaonis aspero
sumus erepti imperio.
That Paschal Eve God's arm was bared,
the devastating Angel spared:
by strength of hand our hosts went free
from Pharaoh's ruthless tyranny.
Iam pascha nostrum Christus est,
agnus occisus innocens;
sinceritatis azyma
qui carnem suam obtulit.
Now Christ, our Paschal Lamb, is slain,
the Lamb of God that knows no stain,
the true Oblation offered here,
our own unleavened Bread sincere.
O vera, digna hostia,
per quam franguntur tartara,
captiva plebs redimitur,
redduntur vitae praemia!
O Thou, from whom hell's monarch flies,
O great, O very Sacrifice,
Thy captive people are set free,
and endless life restored in Thee.
Consurgit Christus tumulo,
victor redit de barathro,
tyrannum trudens vinculo
et paradisum reserans.
For Christ, arising from the dead,
from conquered hell victorious sped,
and thrust the tyrant down to chains,
and Paradise for man regains.
Esto perenne mentibus
paschale, Iesu, gaudium
et nos renatos gratiae
tuis triumphis aggrega.
We pray Thee, King with glory decked,
in this our Paschal joy, protect
from all that death would fain effect
Thy ransomed flock, Thine own elect.
Iesu, tibi sit gloria,
qui morte victa praenites,
cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.
To Thee who, dead, again dost live,
all glory Lord, Thy people give;
all glory, as is ever meet,
to Father and to Paraclete. Amen.
The incomparable Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis has a beautiful recording of the hymn at YouTube. Happy Easter!  

Friday, April 25, 2014

50 Days of Easter - Day 6

St. Bernard's chapel at my alma mater (where I'm back for a few days of R&R), decorated for Easter. 
Today's reflection is from the blog of a friend of mine, Sherry Weddell, co-director of the Catherine of Siena Institute, and author of the must-read "Forming Intentional Disciples." Here she's talking about the reading from the Wednesday of the Octave of Easter, leading up to the 2011 Beatification of Pope John Paul II. This week, the Church is preparing for his canonization (along with Pope JohnXXIII).

What Can We Expect of a Resurrected God? 

There is a old legend that a 13th century Pope was showing St. Thomas Aquinas around the glories of the Vatican and observed that Peter could no longer say that "I have neither silver or gold". St. Thomas had the ultimate snappy come-back: "Neither can he say "rise and walk".
Of course, throughout Christian history, certain Christians have been been able to say just that. Rome Reports features a fascinating story of a young Mexican boy healed of terminal leukemia, apparently through the embrace of Pope John Paul II.
“He looked like a skeleton, of only five years or so. His skin was hanging off the bone and his cheek was decaying. I was there and I had brought the mother. The pope got off the plane at the airport in Zacatecas. He saw the mother and took the child, which weighed nothing, it was only skin and bones, he kissed the baby and gave it back to the mother. That child was cured after the kiss from the pope.”
This widely known miracle wasn’t used for the beatification process because it happened during the Pope’s lifetime. This healing is simply a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit working through a very human disciple walking the same earth as you and I.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

50 Days of Easter - Day 5

For today's reflection, we will stay with Psalm 118 (see yesterday), and will look at the catechesis of very-soon-to-be Saint John Paul II on this psalm.

In his General Audience of Wednesday, February 12, 2003, the Holy Father talked about Psalm 118, giving its exegetical and contextual background in the Psalter and in the Temple liturgy of Israel.
4. By applying the Psalm to himself, Christ opens the way for the Christian interpretation of this hymn of confidence and gratitude to the Lord for his hesed, his loving fidelity, that echoes throughout the Psalm (cf. Ps 117[118], 
The Fathers of the Church made use of two symbols. First of all, that of the "gate of justice" on which St Clement of Rome commented in his Letter to the Corinthians:  "For many gates stand open:  the gate of justice is the gate of Christ, and all are blessed who enter by it and direct their way "in holiness and justice', accomplishing all things without disorder" (48,4: I Padri Apostolici, Rome 1976, p. 81; The Apostolic Fathers, Letter of Clement of Rome to Corinth, Thomas Nelson and Co. 1978, p. 44).
The entire Catechesis is worth our meditation today.

Tomorrow we will examine the ways in which Psalm 118 has been incorporated in the liturgy by the Church.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

50 Days of Easter - Day 4

Today, we turn to Psalm 118 (117*), the great Paschal Psalm of the Psalter. It is a song of triumph, of praise to God for deliverance from one's enemies. Several verses have been incorporated into the Church's liturgy (we'll look at these over the next few days).

Read through the Psalm in one sitting. The pace increases and swells. The translation in the Liturgy of the Hours comes from the Grail Psalter. The Revised Grail Psalter is now authorized for use in the liturgy. (However, the liturgical books have not yet been updated, so this isn't the version clergy and others who pray the Liturgy of the Hours regularly actually pray. Yes it's terribly confusing.) Here is a section:

I called to the LORD in my distress;
he has answered and freed me.
The LORD is at my side; I do not fear.
What can mankind do against me?
The LORD is at my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on my foes. 
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man;
it is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes. 
The nations all encircled me;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off.
They encircled me all around;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off.
They encircled me about like bees;
they blazed like a fire among thorns. 
In the name of the LORD I cut them off.
I was thrust down, thrust down and falling,
but the LORD was my helper.
The LORD is my strength and my song;
he was my savior.
Every Psalm havs a Messianic quality. Some are explicitly Messianic, that is, referring in some explicit way to the Messiah (Such as Psalm 110), whereas others are implicity. The Church understands them as being the prayers of Christ, either the Head, or the Body. Reading this Psalm, one can hear Jesus praying to His Father in the events of the Passion.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount the deeds of the LORD.
The LORD punished me, punished me severely,
 but did not hand me over to death. 
Open to me the gates of justice:
I will enter and thank the LORD.
This is the LORD’s own gate,
where the just enter.
I will thank you, for you have answered,
and you are my savior. 
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done,
a marvel in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice in it and be glad.
Pray the whole Psalm today!

*An interesting note on the numbering of Psalms from Jimmy Akin.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

50 Days of Easter - Day 3

Spend some time meditating with the magnificent Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom. This is read during the Paschal liturgy in Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Here's a taste:
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!
He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!
He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: "Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions".
It was embittered, for it was abolished!
It was embittered, for it was mocked!
It was embittered, for it was purged!
It was embittered, for it was despoiled!
It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!

Read the rest here.

Apparently, according to my Eastern friends, during the liturgy, when the priest reads the "it was embittered" lines, the people respond, "It was embittered!"
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
Finally, a great flow-chart of the homily at this blog by an Orthodox priest.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

River Visual

That's the name for one of the most spectacular approaches in the U.S, into Ronald Reagan National Airport in the nation's capital.

Every time I fly into DCA, I hope to get this approach. I try and get a seat on the left side of the plane, which affords the best views of the capital (the view on the other side of the Arlington National Cemetery isn't bad either ... ) Today was a spectacularly beautiful day, and I got great video footage (despite the wailing toddler in the seat behind me), and some neat shots.

The views of the Mall were just spectacular!

Hey, Reagan Airport's twitter feed even favorited my tweet with the first photo above! 

Now check out this video on YouTube from the cockpit! 

50 Days of Easter - Day 2

Taking a leaf out of Meg Hunter-Kilmer's book (with this fantastic post on 50 ways to celebrate Easter), I thought it would be cool to do an Easter-themed post a day for the entire Paschal season this year. This will be on FB and Twitter with the hashtag #50daysofEaster

This is actually Day 2, since Easter Sunday starts the season. Yesterday was busy with Masses and recovery from the Triduum!

Today we have the Easter Marian antiphon, the Regina Coeli, chanted here by the incomparable schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis, directed by Giovanni Vannini out of Milan.


Regina coeli laetare, Alleluia, 
Quia quem meruisti portare. Alleluia, 
Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia. 
Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia.

Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia: 
For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia, 
Has risen, as He said, alleluia. 
Pray for us to God, alleluia.


Alégrate, Reina del cielo; aleluya.
Porque el que mereciste llevar en tu seno; aleluya.
Ha resucitado, según predijo; aleluya.
Ruega por nosotros a Dios; aleluya.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

... prompted by love of Him ...

Yesterday was the first time I renewed my priestly consecration at the Chrism Mass with my brothers in the Atlanta presbyterate, and other priests serving in the Archdiocese, along with Archbishop Gregory and our Auxiliary Bishops, Luis & David. 

Msgr. David Toups, Rector of St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, FL, led the priests' day of reflection, with time for prayer and fraternity. How wonderful it is to be with the Lord, and with one's brothers!

In Monsignor's morning reflection, he invited us to meditate on the promises that we would be renewing during the Mass. The line in bold is what caught my heart, and has been with me since then. It is all for love of Christ! Pray for your priests, especially this week!

Beloved sons,
on the anniversary of that day
when Christ our Lord conferred his priesthood
on his Apostles and on us,
are you resolved to renew,
in the presence of your Bishop and God's holy people,
the promises you once made?  
I am.  
Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus
and more closely conformed to him,
denying yourselves and confirming those promises
about sacred duties towards Christ's Church
which, prompted by love of him,
you willingly and joyfully pledged

on the day of your priestly ordination?  
I am.  
Are you resolved to be faithful stewards
of the mysteries of God
in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites
and to discharge the saced office of teaching,
following Christ the Head and Shepherd,
not seeking any gain,
but moved only be zeal for souls?  
I am. 
The beautiful prayer attributed to St. Francis:
Absorbeat, quaeso, Domine,
mentem meam et cor meum
ignita et melliflua vis amoris Tui
ab omnibus quae in mundo sunt;
ut amore amoris Tui moriar,
Qui pro amore amoris mei dignatus es mori
May the power of your love, O Lord,
fiery and sweet as honey,
wean my heart from all that is under heaven,
so that I may die for love of your love,
you who were so good as to die for love of my love.

"Renewing my 'yes' to God"

The Georgia Bulletin just published my column for Holy Week. 
Long after the stores have sold their discounted Easter bunnies and peeps and moved on to the next thing, the Church will be singing her amazement at the empty tomb and her Savior, her hope, who now goes before her in triumph.
For seven of us, ordained last year in the Cathedral of Christ the King as priests of Jesus Christ, this Holy Week and Easter will be particularly memorable. The invitation, however, is for all of us, during this holy season.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Cross reveals first, who you are in your depths

In Trost und Süssigkeit
  In  consolation and sweetness
   kennst du dich selbst nicht, Christ,
    know      you     yourself      not,    [O] Christian
Das Kreuze zeigt dir erst,
 The       Cross       shows    you     first
   wer du im Innern bist.
    who   you   in [your] inner [parts]   are.

That is a poem by Angelus Silesius, a 17th century priest, who wrote couplets of incredible precision and beauty.

I saw this post on Catholic World Report:
The blog is not about him, but about a 17th century priest-mystic-poet whom the great Catholic theologian and humanist Hans Urs von Balthasar has called “one of the greatest poets of the west”, ranking him with Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. His name was Johann Scheffler, but he went by the name of Angelus Silesius.
The blog is not about him, but about a 17th century priest-mystic-poet whom the great Catholic theologian and humanist Hans Urs von Balthasar has called “one of the greatest poets of the west”, ranking him with Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. His name was Johann Scheffler, but he went by the name of Angelus Silesius. 
And he is right. They absolutely are a treasure! Simple. Two lines, but, like a two-edged sword, they pierce through to the division of soul and spirit, joint and marrow ...

(We also have Fr. Fessio's audio recording of each. His German sounds authentic!)

Here's another:

Wird Christus tausendmal
  Were      Christ          a thousand times
           zu Bethlehem geboren
             in      Bethlehem             born
Und nicht in dir, du bleibst
  And       not      in  you,      you    remain
         noch ewiglich verloren.
            still         eternally             lost.

Also read von Balthasar's epilogue to his collection, also on the "anti-blog"

Thank you, Fr. Fessio! What a gift! 

Prince Ave. in the Spring

I'm often asked, "So how are you liking Athens?" I always reply, "I love my parish!" As to Athens, I've not really had much time to explore. The parish takes up most of my time, and on my day off, I tend to go to Atlanta. Weekends are always occupied.

Taking advantage of cancelled appointment, and the beautiful weather today, I took a walk around Prince Ave. It really is a pretty area, especially around the Cobb House and the Cobbham Neighborhood. I put up all the photos on Flickr. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Behold I knock

And you, whoever you may be, to whom Divine Providence should bring this book, be you great or small, poor or rich, wise or ignorant, priest or layman, monk or nun: go now to the foot of the altar and contemplate Jesus there, in the sacrament where he hides. Remain there in silence. Say nothing to him, Look upon him and wait for him to speak to you in the depths of your heart. You will see him. I have died, he says, and my life is hidden in God until I appear in my glory to judge the world. Hide yourself in God with me, and do not think of appearing until I appear. If you are alone, I will be your companion. If you ar week, I will be your strength. If you are poor, I will be your  treasure. If you are hungry, I will be your food. If you are afflicted, I will be your consolation and your joy. If you are bored, I will be your delight. If you are falling, I will hold you up. "Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." I do not wish for a third: none other but you and me. 

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, "A Life Hidden in God," in Meditations for Lent, an anthology published by the wonderful folks at Sophia Institute Press. I bought the whole set before Lent. A very worthy investment! 

We have this ...

... your argument is invalid.

Whether the Society of Jesus is greater than the Order of Preachers.

"it makes our Lord facepalm."

Bumper stickers needed. 

A Bishop of Rome celebrates the old Mass

This is fantastic news for those attached to the Vetus Ordo! (Via NLM)
The Fraternity of St Peter’s Roman parish, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, was very honored to welcome as the celebrant of the Mass for Laetare Sunday His Excellency Matteo Zuppi, the Auxiliary Bishop of Rome responsible for the pastoral care of the city center, including Trinità dei Pellegrini. This was the first time that an auxiliary of Rome durante munere has celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form in a Roman parish since the post-Conciliar liturgical reforms began, and the whole parish community was very glad to accede to His Excellency’s request to say the Mass.
(Image from NLM)

Fr. Z's take on this.

Incidentally, I was privileged to serve as Deacon at the main Mass on Pentecost Sunday last year at the Pantheon in Rome (also, it turns out, the last post on my once-super-secret seminary blog), just a few weeks before my Ordination to the priesthood. The celebrant was the same Mons. Zuppi. He was very gracious in the sacristy to this American transitional deacon, and readily gave me his blessing in anticipation of my upcoming Ordination. A couple of the sacristans vested me in a beautiful antique dalmatic. The Archpriest saw this and came over and roundly scolded them. "Cosa fate, lei é un vescovo?"The dalmatic I was mistakenly given was meant to be worn by the Bishop, underneath his chasuble, which is the traditional vesture for a Pontifical Mass. It was neat that the Bishop was wearing this for an OF Mass as well. What I got to wear was also a worthy, noble vestment, as the photo in the link above shows.

At the US-Mexico Border today ...