Chaplain’s Corner | Palm Sunday – April 9, 2017

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Today the Church enters the most solemn week of her liturgical year. During Holy Week, we accompany Jesus Christ in His Passion and Death, which finally bear fruit in His most sacred Resurrection. We are not mere bystanders at these events, but they enter into our souls to the extent that we open ourselves to them.

The Sacred Liturgy is our teacher in the spirituality of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, we welcome with joy into our hearts Jesus Christ our King, so that we might be filled with the hope of entering one day into the New and Heavenly Jerusalem, following where our Head has gone before us.

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Chaplain’s Corner | Last Sunday after Pentecost (November 20, 2016)

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On this final Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church turns her mind and heart to the contemplation of the end of the world. Here she accepts the teaching of Jesus that the world as we know it is passing away, that here we have no lasting city, but seek a home that is yet to come. She confesses her faith in the Last One, Who is the Lord of the Last Things, Who will come again to our earth.

At His Second Coming, our traditional Gospel today teaches us, the Lord will come openly and in glory, with the sign of His Cross in the sky for all to behold. He will come again not in the weakness and poverty of His Sacred Nativity in the manger of Bethlehem, but in the regal victory of His Resurrection and Ascension. He will come not to save us – He has done that already – but to judge us, consummating His beautiful work of salvation. In His First Coming, He came to sow; at the end of time, He comes to gather.

We have a tendency to fear the Second Coming of Jesus. For one, we know our sinfulness and how unworthy in ourselves we are of His Mercy. For another, we are attached to the pleasures of this life and wish not to lose them. The conquering of these fears is the blessed work of Jesus’s coming into our hearts by grace, which applies to us the salvation He won for us in His First Coming, so that we can be eager for His Second Coming.

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Chaplain’s Corner | October 23, 2016

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Beginning on October 31 with All Hallows’ Eve, the Church celebrates on November 1 the solemn feast of All Saints. In the month of November, the last month of the liturgical year, the Church turns her gaze to the Last Things. She delights to begin this annual month-long meditation with the superabundant glory of the feast of all the sanctity that has been communicated to angels and men.

The feast of All Saints is deeply encouraging. It teaches us that holiness is for everyone, in every state and walk of life. Contemplating all the saints, we are encouraged to learn that heroic virtue and perfect divine love are possible for us in the concrete details of our lives. We discover with joy that there are pope saints, bishop saints, priest saints, deacon saints, religious saints, married saints, widow saints, single saints; there are children saints, elderly saints, penitent saints, royal saints, wealthy saints, poor saints; there are saints of every temperament, occupation, race, language, land, nation, and time. Our celebration is a veritable symphony of sanctity!

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Chaplain’s Corner – Beheading of John the Baptist (August 28, 2016)

On August 29 the Church celebrates the Beheading of John the Baptist. This is a most poignant feast for our time, in which God’s law concerning marriage is so often broken and ignored. St. John the Baptist was martyred for defending God’s law concerning marriage and this makes him a great example and help to all in our time who undertake the same joyful task.

The story of John’s beheading begins with the sinful and invalid marriage of Herod the Tetrarch with Herodias, the lawful wife of Herod’s brother, Philip. Herod had divorced his own wife, whose name was Phasaelis. Herod, therefore, had committed adultery in entering into “marriage” with Herodias; neither he nor Herodias were free to marry. How many Catholics and non-Catholics in our time have committed this same sin and live in this same situation!
John the Baptist is the biblical model for how the Church responds pastorally – with true love – to persons who contradict Jesus’s teaching that “whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.” Herod was quite fond of John and loved to hear him preach, more out of curiosity and admiration than out of a desire for the truth. John did not let this friendship with Herod compromise his love for God and so he told Herod and Herodias the plain truth of their situation: they were living in adultery and they had to separate if they wanted to stop offending God and avoid eternal damnation.
Herod was perplexed by John’s teaching because he was a weak man. We might imagine he was the kind of person who knows what the right thing is but lacks the moral courage to carry it out. Herodias, on the other hand, was full of malice and hated John. She wanted him dead because of his call to repentance. She saw him as the enemy of all her desires, especially for the power that comes with being the legal wife of the tetrarch. In her hatred for John, she prevailed upon Herod to imprison him.

Chaplain’s Corner – Octave of the Assumption of Mary (8/21/16)

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The Octave of the Assumption of Mary, which we are celebrating now, culminates tomorrow with the traditional feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (in the modern calendar, it’s the Queenship of Mary). It’s beautiful that the Church honors our Mother’s glory by venerating especially her Heart. This veneration is the reason why August is traditionally called the Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This feast of Mary’s Heart is the octave feast of the feast of her Assumption into Heaven, which means the two feasts are connected in the logic of the Sacred Liturgy.

The truth of Mary’s Assumption means that her physical Heart is in Heaven, glorified in its resurrection and ascension in her Son. Mary is the first to share in her Son’s Resurrection and Ascension. She followed where He went first. Her Heart, which was always in Heaven by faith, hope, and love, is now in Heaven by glory. As we saw last Sunday, she had first suffered and died with Him in her Heart. We celebrate on August 22 that she has also risen with Him!

Each Christian is invited by grace to this same sharing in Jesus’s Resurrection and Ascension. We are all called and empowered to live, like Mary, with our hearts already in Heaven by faith, hope, and charity, so that they can one day be in Heaven in glory. This is the key to happiness even in this life: to have our treasures and hearts already in the Heavenly happiness that never passes away. We are called by Jesus to live like Mary, suffering and dying with Him so as to rise with Him.

Chaplain’s Corner | August 14, 2016 (late post)

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NB: We have been remiss in posting couple of our Assistant Chaplain’s corner articles owing to a very busy summer schedule, so our apologies for the late post:

Tomorrow the Church celebrates the great feast of the glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This celebration marks the day on which our Blessed Mother was raised from the dead and taken up in her glorified body into Heaven. This is a historical feast (meaning the event of her Assumption happened on the very date of August 15). The Church of Jerusalem commemorates Our Lady’s death on August 13 and celebrates a Marian Triduum leading up to the celebration of her resurrection on August 15. With this feast, we joyfully proclaim the truth of our Catholic faith that there are two glorified bodies in Heaven, that of Jesus and that of Mary!

The feast of the Assumption, then, is a kind of Marian Easter. It is a celebration of Blessed Mary’s sacred role as the New Eve, the Helpmate of the Redeemer, the true disciple of Jesus Christ, the one who kept His Word perfectly and did His Will always. She is our great model and example in her discipleship and she receives the reward of her fidelity in her glorious resurrection and assumption into Heaven. In her glory, she is also an example to us, for we hope to follow her in receiving our own resurrection unto glory on the Last Day.

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Chaplain’s Corner | August 7, 2016 (late post)

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NB: We have been remiss in posting couple of our Assistant Chaplain’s corner articles owing to a very busy summer schedule, so our apologies for the late post:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods” is surely the most overlooked commandment by practicing Catholics today. In our gospel last Sunday in the Ordinary Form, Jesus made sure we couldn’t miss His liberating teaching about our proper relationship to riches. “Take heed, and beware of covetousness,” Our Lord says in response to the brothers who are fighting over the inheritance, “for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.” Our Savior’s teaching on covetousness is strikingly practical. He wants us to know that life cannot be about riches, either now or after death. St. Cyril of Alexandria reminds us that “…covetousness is unprofitable…” because “as the Lord says, You shall build houses of hewn stone, and shall not dwell in them.”

This inability of riches to bring us true and lasting happiness is illustrated in the parable Our Lord tells in the second part of our gospel. Here we have the rich man who, after an abundant harvest, tears down his barns to build new ones, so that he can store all his grain for himself, to sustain him in what he imagines will be long-lasting comfort and security. Jesus gives us the delusional interior dialogue that the man had with himself: “And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” Theophylact of Ohrid comments that Jesus gives us this interior dialogue “to rebuke the motives of the covetous, who seem to heap up riches as if they were going to live for a long time. But will wealth ever make you long lived?” Sure enough, just as the covetous man is putting the finishing touches on his new barns, he hears those dread words from God Almighty: “You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you have provided?” This is a sobering wake-up call for all us.

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Chaplain’s Corner -St. John Mary Vianney

On Thursday, we celebrate the feast of the patron saint of parish priests, St. John Mary Vianney, the holy Cure’ d’Ars. John Vianney was a diocesan priest in France in the 19th century. The spiritual environment in which he worked was as challenging as ours today. France had been ravaged by the Revolution and the persecution of the Church ensuing from it. John Vianney did not have an easy pastoral task and his parish was pretty much dead when he arrived there.

Among his many saintly qualities, St. John loved in particular to hear confessions. He transformed his little parish in Ars largely by making himself available for confessions. By the end of his life, he was hearing 16 hours of confessions per day! His feast day is always a marvelous opportunity for us to grow in Continue reading

Chaplain’s Corner – St. James the Greater

Tomorrow,  July 25, 2016, the Church celebrates the feast of the first Apostle to suffer martyrdom, St. James, the brother of John, the son of Zebedee and Salome (St. Joseph’s niece and St. Cleophas’s daughter), nicknamed by Our Lord, along with his brother, Boanerges, the Sons of Thunder. St. James is called “the Greater” to distinguish him from the other Apostle of that name.

James was one of the most beloved Apostles. It is Peter, James, and John who are privileged to be present at the healing of the daughter of Jairus, the Transfiguration, and the Agony in the Garden. These intimate experiences with Jesus prepared James to become the first Apostle to shed blood for Jesus.

James lived only 11 years after Pentecost. He was probably only 40 years old when Continue reading

Chaplain’s Corner – Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Church celebrates the great feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16th. It was on July 16, 1251, that the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock to entrust to him her Brown Scapular, with the promise that “those who die wearing this habit will not suffer eternal fire.” This feast commemorates the apparition and the love and protection of Mary signified by the Scapular.

The Scapular is the ancient Jewish garment worn underneath the clothes to signify that the Jew belonged to Continue reading