30 March 2010

Servant of God John Paul II

From Pope Benedict on his venerable predecessor:

Dear brothers and sisters! The whole life of the Venerable John Paul II unfolded in the sign of this charity, of this capacity to give himself in a generous way, without reservations, without measure, without calculation. What moved him was love for Christ, to whom he had consecrated his life, a superabundant and unconditional love. It is precisely because he drew ever closer to God in love, that he was able to make himself a fellow wayfarer with the man of today, spreading in the world the perfume of the love of God. Whoever had the joy of knowing and frequenting him, was able to touch with the hand how alive was in him the certainty "of contemplating the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living," as we heard in the Responsorial Psalm (26/27:13); a certainty that accompanied him in the course of his existence and that, in a particular way, was manifested during the last period of his pilgrimage on this earth: the progressive physical weakness, in fact, never affected his rock-like faith, his luminous hope, his fervent charity. He let himself be consumed by Christ, for the Church, for the whole world: his was a suffering lived to the end for love and with love.

In the homily for the 25th anniversary of his Pontificate, he confided having felt strongly in his heart, at the moment of the election, Jesus' question to Peter: "Do you love me? Do you love me more than these ...? " (John 21:15-16); and he adds: "Every day within my heart the same dialogue takes place between Jesus and Peter. In spirit, I fix my gaze on the benevolent look of the Risen Christ. He, however, aware of my human frailty, encourages me to respond with trust as Peter: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you" (John 21:17). And then he invites me to assume the responsibility that He himself has entrusted to me" (Oct. 16, 2003). They are words charged with faith and love, love of God, who conquers all."


In my limited technical ability, I was unable to post comments on the last video I just put up. The only commentary I want to make is that we are not only to combat the evil in the world but, like God, to love the world (John 3:16). St. Josemaria was all about that: Passionately Loving the World.

Here are the links that did not come up on the video:

Christifideles laici

Opus Dei

The Answer! Or at least An Answer

29 March 2010

Vandy Awakening IV, oops VI I mean!

Well, this past weekend was Vandy Awakening VI. We have come a long way from spring of 2007 when the first bunch of us went to Texas A&M for Aggie Awakening 79. It is hard for me to imagine, but we had visitors from at least two other schools wanting to start their own Awakenings.

As small an operation as Vanderbilt Catholic is, Awakening is still a grueling amount of activity for me. I am very grateful for Fr. Tony Stephens of the Fathers of Mercy who came to help out. It is great to have another priest along.

One of the students, who came back to serve at the 9 p.m. Mass on Sunday, asked me as we were cleaning up after Mass if I get something out of every Awakening. I paused and said that I did. It is simply this: an experience of the Pascal mystery. Good preparation for Holy Week!

25 March 2010

16 Candles

Well, it's my sweet sixteenth as a priest; and I have to say that it is pretty sweet, in the lingo of the young. I ask all of you to pray for priests. It is actually pretty hard days in the priesthood right now (when isn't it, you ask?). If nothing else, perhaps we can grow closer to Jesus in His humiliations. That would be a great blessing. At the same time, I am very much aware of and grateful for the love and prayers of so many faithful souls. You are my Bethany -- the house of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary where the Lord was loved and refreshed at any time.

If you are interested in promoting vocations to the diocesan priesthood, find the book To Save a Thousand Souls by Fr. Brett Brannen.

22 March 2010

Intransigent with sin ... indulgent with people

We have arrived at the 5th Sunday of Lent in which this year the liturgy proposes to us the Gospel episode of Jesus saving the adulterous woman condemned to death (John 8:1-11). While he is teaching in the Temple area the scribes and the Pharisees bring to Jesus a woman caught in adultery, for whom the Mosaic Law prescribes stoning.

These men ask Jesus to judge the woman with the purpose of "putting him to the test" and trip him up. The scene is full of drama: The woman's life and Jesus' own life depend on his words. The hypocritical accusers, in fact, pretend to entrust him with the judgment while in reality they want to accuse and judge him. But Jesus is "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14): He knows what is in every man's heart, he wants to condemn sin but save the sinner, and unmask hypocrisy.

There is a detail that is highlighted by the evangelist St. John: While the accusers question him insistently, Jesus bends down and starts writing with his finger on the ground. St. Augustine observes that this gesture displays Jesus as the divine lawgiver: Indeed, God wrote the law with his finger on the tables of stone (cf. Commentary on the Gospel of John 33:5). Thus, Jesus is the lawgiver, justice incarnate. And what is his judgment? "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her."

These words are full of the disarming power of the truth, which makes the wall of hypocrisy crumble and opens consciences to a greater justice, that of love, in which consists the perfect fulfillment of every precept (cf. Romans 13:8-10). It is justice that also saved Saul of Tarsus, transforming him into St. Paul (cf. Philippians 3:8-14). When the accusers "departed, one by one, beginning with the elders," Jesus, absolving the woman of her sin, introduces her into a new life, oriented toward the good: "Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on do not sin any more." It is the same grace that will make the Apostle say: "I only know this: forgetting what is behind and looking to that which is ahead, I race toward the goal, to the prize that God is calling me to receive above in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).

God only wants goodness and life for us; he provides for the salvation of our soul through his ministers, freeing us from evil by the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that no one is lost but all have a way to be converted. In this Year for Priests, I would like to exhort pastors to imitate the holy Curé d'Ars in the ministry of sacramental Penance, so that the faithful rediscover its meaning and beauty, and are again healed by the merciful love of God, who even "forces himself willingly to forget sin," so that he can grant us his forgiveness!" ("Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests").

Dear friends, let us learn from the Lord Jesus not to judge and not to condemn our neighbor. Let us learn to be intransigent with sin -- beginning with our own! -- and indulgent with people. May we be helped in this by the Holy Mother of God, who, free of every fault, is the mediatrix of grace for every contrite sinner.

Benedict XVI

21 March 2010


One of the jokes among the students who know me well is about how little I sleep. It's true. I am naturally an early riser, and now with this job I stay up much later. This past week was a bad case of not much sleep. On top of that, I think that I was dealing with little left overs of tropical maladies so that by the end of the week I was not feeling very good physically.

I was starting to feel emotionally overwhelmed, what with Awakening and Holy Week coming -- who scheduled that? Anyhow, yesterday after listening to the Awakening practice talks -- which are awesome, by the way -- I plopped down on one of the Frassati House couches for an hour nap. Then I got up, ate something, and was back in bed by about 8:30 p.m. I was scared to do that because in my experience that sometimes results in waking up at 2 a.m. -- for good. But not this time. I woke up at 5:02 a.m., which is actually a late sleep for me!

OK, now things look a lot more manageable somehow!

20 March 2010


I obviously have not been posting much. When I have, it has been rather random.

I keep experiencing a bigger and bigger "disconnect" between my life and what is reported in the news about the events of the world and the Church. My life seems to filled with very rich blessings -- granted, more of them than I am effectively dealing with -- and with human sorrows that call for responses that I can make. Practically everything in the news seems to be hugely bad. I am thinking particularly of the "health care" debate or the clergy sex scandals. They seem to bring out the worst in everyone. Why is it that things up close, even sad or bad things, seem manageable whereas the more distant things are so overwhelmingly bad? How can I handle this?

I think that I need to handle it by a sort of "subsidiarity" of attention and involvement. "Subsidiarity" is a principle of Catholic social teaching which directs that concerns are best handled at as low and local a level as is effectively possible. I see the urge to become obsessed with the health care debate or with the clergy sexual scandal as temptation. There is little I can do about these things. Of course, I should pray. If any of it happens to come my way, I should act -- perhaps by contacting my congressman. If I become obsessed with these matters beyond my control, I might miss the opportunity of taking care of the many things that are uniquely in my area of influence: for example, that friend who needs some attention or that small accomplishment that deserves recognition. Who will do these things if I don't? -- not Nancy Pelosi!

The world, the flesh, and the devil all like to draw us away from reality -- the real good I can do and the real evil that I can avoid -- to become obsessed with unrealities like considering the motivations of congressmen or vicars general.

Once again, a trip to Honduras brought this home for me. Efforts to stumble through Mass in Spanish were so much more important than the stuff I "missed out on" in the news while we were gone. Why? Because only I could offer those Masses, each of which was of infinite value. The debates and scandals seemed to go on just fine without me!

19 March 2010

Jerusalem Catecheses

Yesterday we commemorated St. Cyril of Jerusalem, doctor and father of the Church, a fourth century Bishop of Jerusalem. Here is some good reading for those preparing for the mysteries of the Easter Vigil. These are St. Cyril's catechetical talks from Easter Week explaining the mysteries to the newly baptized.

P.S. Happy St. Joseph's Day!

06 March 2010


While I am not a regular reader of Nashville's her magazine, I was delighted to have pointed out to me a letter from one of Vanderbilt Catholic's finest disputing an article that called for readers to "limit your offspring to two" for the sake of the planet. Our own Erica Nimri took this recommendation to task and retorted: "I plan on doing my part by raising a big, happy, Catholic family - and by ignoring patronizing articles such as this one." WOWZA! I wish I could link you to the letter, but I can't find letters in the online version of the magazine. You can find her for free in pink boxes around town.

Anyhow, I love this because it is the new evangelization. Taking the Gospel to the world. This was in her, not the National Catholic Register. Thanks, Erica! That's the kind of Vanderbilt Catholic that makes me proud.

05 March 2010

Back to the Future!

I am delighted to see that Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor argues that England should be a Catholic country again and that the Reformation was bad for England! Go see for yourself.

02 March 2010


As things are turning out this week, I really believe that I was preaching mainly to myself this past weekend. The ratification of faith that Abraham experienced in the covenant with God and the reassurance of faith that Peter, James, and John received in the Transfiguration are both related to the great darkness of faith that precedes and follows these moments of clarity. Yesterday, I received a much desired consolation of faith, which now makes me wonder what I was so worried about?

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

01 March 2010

Beginning Again

I have just this minute emerged from another one of my email bankruptcies! My inbox has 0 messages in it. Whoop! It was not quite as bad as ones in the past. Now I am ready to go away to Honduras next week and have it begin again. Please -- no emails while I am away!