Dear Father God, we live in a world where injustice is rife, freedoms are rapidly being removed and persecution of believers is on the increase. We come to You Father to lay before You men and women we may know personally, who have had their freedoms removed, together with the thousands of believers, whom we do not know. Lord – each one is precious in Your sight, for each one is a blood-bought child of Yours.
After five years of investigations, the diocesan inquiry for the process of beatification and canonisation of the Dominican Pope Benedict XIII will officially be closed on the 24th of February 2017. The closing ceremony will take place at the Lateran Palace with Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome presiding. The members of the Diocesan Tribunal which conducted the investigation will also be present: Monsignor Giuseppe D’Alonzo, Chief Judge, Don George pacifiers, Promoter of Justice, and Marcello Terramani, notary actuary. The Master of the Order, fr Bruno Cadoré will lead the Dominican contingent at the ceremony.
Pope Benedict XIII (Pier Francesco Orsini) was born in Gravina, Puglia on 2 February 1649/50. The first of six children of Ferdinando III, Duke of Gravina and Giovanna Frangipani of Tolfa, daughter of the Duke of Grumo. He had a strong desire for the religious life from a very young age which his family strongly opposed. At a young age and with the guardian of his mother, he inherited the reign as the Duke of Gravina after his father’s death. Under the pretext of the desire to know other parts of Italy, he travelled to Venice where he met the Dominicans. On 12 August 1668, he received the habit and took the name fra Vincenzo Maria.
To listen to the entire homily, click here.
Opposites. The readings for daily Masses are usually simply sequential. What that means is that the first reading starts with a book, and the whole book of the bible is divided up into sections read each day. The same is true of the gospel. Unless there is a special day, in which case readings are special as well, there is no inherent connection between the first reading and the gospel. Despite this, there are moments where the readings seem to compliment each other in an interesting way.
Today’s readings do not provide so much a compliment as they do a contrast. The first reading outlines a way of life that I must say I find tempting. Power. Riches. Security. These basic values can become illusive idols in our lives. The gospel stresses the small. A cup of water given to a disciple. A concern with holiness more than with success. A focus on eternal life more so than this life. The contrasts are dramatic.
The question is clear: In whom do we trust? Is it in our own efforts, our own strength, in promises that offer guarantees, even though there is no such thing? Or, do we trust in God, whose gifts are not always as tangible but whose promise to us is much more sure? This is the powerful question.
Yet, again and again in the gospels, Jesus challenges us to be attentive to the poor, the marginalized, the outcast. It is not our own earthly security that matters, but our heavenly security resting in God. It is not about powerful relationships in this life but in the most powerful relationship with God. Both readings offer a different way to go about life. Trust in self, or trust in God. Choose well.
Patience. How long did Simeon and Anna have to wait? Did they ever want to give up? Did they ever feel abandoned by God? We do not know. But we do know that today God fulfilled his promise. Simeon and Anna see the Messiah. And they rejoice.
I simply am not patient. I want everything right away. I want God to answer prayers NOW. I hate waiting. I do not have patience. And no where is that more true than in prayer. I want God to speak to me dramatically, to tell me in no uncertain terms what to do. And yet at those times when he does, I do not always want to do it.
Our lives are hectic and busy. We have so many distractions in our lives. It is so easy not to pray. It is so easy to give up on God because we do not stick with it. It is so easy not to pray because it can be boring. Prayer does not always have the flashiness of technology, television, movies or sports. Prayer does not always provide constant stimulation.
Simeon and Anna came to know God. And in knowing God, they came to experience the pathway to salvation. It is not hard to imagine they are mystics. They are the ones who day in and day out sought for the loving presence of their God. As a result, they were shining examples of the way to holiness. They were the light that guides us to Jesus. In teaching us to wait, Simeon and Anna teach us how to have a holy relationship with God and others. they teach us patience. They teach us the way to holiness that is God himself.
What does it mean to be holy? How does a person become holy? Today we seek holiness. Today this is done by looking at the life of Saint Anthony, Abbot. This is not Saint Anthony of Padua, the well known saint for lost objects, but a hermit from the early Church who was known for his holiness. His pathway to holiness might seem extreme to us today, as he went out into the desert for silence and solitude. He lived alone. That said, he often traveled to find others who were holy, and when successful, he sought to discover what they did to be holy. He sought to imitate their actions, their asceticism, and indeed their attitudes in his own quest for holiness. It can be quite difficult today to find silence and solitude in the midst of those duties as parents, as those who care for children and who work for a living. It can even be difficult for those engaged in full time ministry. But, finding some way to block out those things that take away from our faith is important if we are to grow closer to God and become holy. Let us ask God to help us to embrace the silence.
It is a common question for Catholics to ask each other during Lent, “What are you giving up?” But is Lent simply a question of willpower, or is there something more? Perhaps the question is better put in the way Pope Francis frames it: What are you going to do for Lent? For whatever practice of penance we undertake, it should lead us to accept God’s love and mercy and to become ever more charitable.
Some of the most important advice I was giving about public speaking was trying to remember that when was speaking in public, I was to remember that the people to whom I was speaking were rooting for me to succeed. It may seem obvious once we are encouraged to remember this simple fact (after all, who wants a boring speech), but it is so easy to forget when we see all of these eyes staring back at us.
The power of remembering that power of being supported is easy to lose sight of when we are so busy with all kinds of activity. Many people, though, have the powerful experience of knowing what they could become when someone really believed in them. Children become good at taking appropriate risks when they know that their parents are loving and supporting them. Students have courage to learn difficult concepts when they know their teacher believes they can accomplish these new tasks.
In the life of faith, it can become easier if we remember what is the will of God for each of us. In one way, the reading reminds us the will of God for each of us in the same. “This is the will of God, your holiness.” For each one of us what God wants is simple: God wants us to be holy.
I am preaching the Novena of Saint Jude, days 4-9. This is an audio recording of my day six preaching, being drawn to God and being sent by God. In all we do it is about the Holy Spirit. For more information about the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago, visit their website here.
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God.” There is something about the presence of holiness that cannot help but be witnessed. Jesus has been doing signs and wonders, and Nicodemus cannot help but notice that he is a teacher come from God. I think of people I would identify as holy and it can also be clear to me that holy people have been sent into my life to help me see my personal need for conversion and forgiveness. It cannot be avoided. Holiness has an effect on us.
But I know also in my life that while the lived example of holiness can lead me closer to God, and can also find myself rebelling against God because the demands of living as God wants me to live can seem impossible, or, they require a change of life that I am not always open to making.
Readings for Today One challenge in life, it seems to me, is to be a person of balance. Centuries ago, Aristotle discussed the ideal location for virtue was in between two extremes. There can be a value to being generous. But real generosity lies between being foolhardy with the gifts we have been given on […]