Pope St. Pius V and John 3:16 in Action

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. (from the gospel at today’s Holy Mass)

At the beginning of today’s Mass, we acknowledged that God provided us with Pope St. Pius V so that, among other things, we might “offer more fitting worship.”

Pius V in Santa Maria Maggiore
Pius V in Santa Maria Maggiore

Like the pope saints canonized this past Sunday, Pope St. Pius V led the Church in the wake of an ecumenical council. Like Vatican II, the Council of Trent aimed at reforming the Church and re-focusing the sacred ministers and the faithful on the fundamentals, the essentials of the Catholic religion.

Certainly our Liturgy ranks as the most fundamental of all the fundamentals, the most essential of all the essentials. And isn’t the worship of the Catholic Church really our united celebration of the truth of John 3:16?

If I might, let me quote the Catechism:

catechismBlessing is a divine and life-giving action, the source of which is the Father…When applied to man, the word ‘blessing’ means adoration and surrender to his Creator in thanksgiving. From the beginning until the end of time, the whole of God’s work is a blessing…In the Church’s liturgy the divine blessing is fully revealed and communicated. The Father is acknowledged and adored as the source and the end of all the blessings of creation and salvation. In his Word who became incarnate, died, and rose for us, he fills us with his blessings…The Church, united with her Lord, …blesses the Father ‘for his inexpressible gift’ in her adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. (CCC 1078-1083)

God so loved us, that He chose us to celebrate His blessing, week in and week out, in church. For His glory. For the salvation of our souls.

And for the sake of keeping the door open to all our neighbors–to keep it open, so that they, too, might share in this great blessing and this most-salutary of all celebrations: the living, breathing expression of John 3:16, the Sacred Liturgy of the Church.


makes more sense than anyone else re L.A. Clippergate. Points out that violating personal privacy counts as evil, too. Articulates a genuinely inspiring point-of-view with some excellent laugh lines.

Click HERE.

PS. Go Wizards!

Not Owning It

Barnabas…sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles. (Acts 4:36-37)

Re-birth from above involves letting go of worldly possessions and putting them entirely into the hands of their true owner, which is God.

Martyrdom of St. Barnabas
Martyrdom of St. Barnabas
Barnabas had a large estate. People in those days, just like us, thought of a large country estate as the ultimate possession. You could go there and control everything–have peace and quiet, escape the noisy demands of all the rabble in the city. A man with a large estate enjoyed true “independence,” or so everyone thought in the days of the Roman empire.

But Barnabas discovered something. He did not want independence. He didn’t want to be a powerful man who controlled everything in his life and could keep the dirty people away from him.

He wanted just the opposite. He wanted to live in a tent with St. Paul. He wanted to eat simple meals with the poor and teach them about Jesus Christ.

Barnabas knew he could never be satisfied with a comfortable life, because even his great riches seemed paltry compared to the joy of living as one of the brothers who followed in the footsteps of Jesus. Even a vast estate on a Mediterranean island seemed lame compared to heaven. Barnabas chose Christian friendship over wealth. True friendship is worth more than all the money in the world.

St. Catherine of Siena* followed in these same footsteps. She gave up the marriage to a wealthy man which her parents had planned for her. She, too, did not want a “comfortable” life on earth. She preferred to live like Barnabas. She found happiness with the bare minimum of food, clothing, and shelter, so that she could focus on helping other people turn to God.

However it is that the Lord has planned for us to serve Him in this pilgrim life, we can only find our way by recognizing this fact: Everything we have really belongs to God. He has put it all into our hands for one reason: So that we can have the true joy of sharing it with others.

* who died 634 years ago today

Somebody Loves Me

st john paul ii

Alas, poor Kirkbecause our Holy Father Francis canonized my beloved spiritual father, Pope John Paul II, on the eighth anniversary of my own dear father’s death. (Which is also my nephew’s birthday!)

RIP, dad.

Ora pro nobis, Holy Father.

April can be the cruelest and the kindest month, all at once. Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. Therefore we keep the feast.

Someday, may it please the Lord, I will kiss both of your hands again, fathers of my body and soul. And death will be swallowed up in victory.

Popes from the Same Cloth

divine-mercyThree years ago, we heard the same readings, and celebrated the same Feast of Divine Mercy, after a late-April Easter.

Three years ago, my mind turned to St. Peter’s Square in Rome, because my hero was being beatified. And my mind turns to Rome again, of course, because he is being canonized.

Actually, can we go back to the year 2000? Continue reading “Popes from the Same Cloth”

Uncle Bill’s Book about Jesus

From one point-of-view, we see the crucifixion of Christ as the revelation of the unbridled divine love. We see the holy zeal of our heavenly Father for our salvation. Nothing could be more beautiful, to the eyes of faith, than a crucifix.

Bill O'Reilly Killing JesusFrom another point-of-view, the unjust execution of this innocent and righteous man, brought about by the selfishness, pettiness, malice, and interior weakness of a carnival of mean-spirited dunces: it is as ugly, as horrible, as blood-curdling a spectacle as we could imagine.

Killing Jesus offers this second point-of-view.

Which is what makes the book NC-17. I never thought of Emperor Tiberius as a “good guy.” But O’Reilly and Dugard outline in nightmarish detail just how bad a guy it was whom Pontius Pilate had to find a way to impress.

Killing Jesus deftly helps us to understand the delicate balance of ‘authorities’ that could find themselves scourging and crucifying the most genuinely innocent defendant who ever stood before a judge. What the book does not give us, I don’t think, is Jesus. Even with the welter of details in the book’s first part, and the sympathetic humility before the central subject, Jesus Christ never comes into focus.

O’Reilly/Dugard do not seem to realize that portraying Christ as a man with faith (heroically strong as it may be) and with emotions borne of confusion and ignorance—this does not in fact make Him more humane and believable. The believable Christ is the Christ Who knows the Father’s mysteries and offers Himself for their fulfillment, with genuine human emotion, but without a trace of confusion or ignorance. Panic and self-interest have no place in the soul of Christ.

In the final chapters of Killing Jesus, actually, the enlightening flow of details from the first half of the book turns into a lame trickle. It feels like the “Killing-______” formula playing itself out mechanically, perhaps with a deadline approaching sooner than it should have. O’Reilly/Dugard make no attempt to engage the symphony of crucifixion accounts which the gospels give us. Killing Jesus does not even include all seven of the Lord’s Last Words.

On the other hand: I, for one, admire O’Reilly/Dugard’s dismissive contempt for the ‘findings’ of source- and redaction-criticism. The fantasies of the ‘search for the real Jesus’ go completely unmentioned in Killing Jesus. This is almost reason enough to read it.

Pick it up, if you will. Provided you are prepared to learn things about the depths of cruelty that you probably would have preferred never to have had to imagine in your life.

Prepared to Answer

resurrectionOne thing we can say for sure when Easter arrives: Lent is over.

A couple weeks ago, some people told me I looked thinner. I was like, “Ah–don’t think so. I’m the worst Lenten faster ever. If I look thinner, it’s just a fluke.”

To be honest, I flailed through Lent in a spiritual haze, holding on for dear life, wondering when the Lord would finally bring on spring. I’m sure all of you kept a holier Lent than that. Forty days more focused on prayer, sacrifice, and helping the poor.

Whatever the case, now it’s over. Lent is officially over. And the whole reason we keep Lent has arrived. All our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving serves to prepare us spiritually for the moment when the Church askes us a few simple questions.

Maybe some of us can remember when we were baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ. Many of us cannot. That whole question is moot right now anyway. We have all grown up and can answer the questions for ourselves.

The moment has come for us to own our answers to these questions The answers are called our ‘baptimal promises.’ The moment has come to put everyting–heart, soul, mind, and strength–into our answers.

We do penance during Lent to prepare for this. We pray, we fast, we impose discipline, so that we can summon our whole selves and answer these questions with all the sincerity of which we are capable, the sincerity of God’s beloved children.

Do you renounce Satan?…

Omniscience Forgetting; Omnipotence Kneeling

Christ mandatum footwashing Holy Thursday“Fully aware that the Father had put everything into His power, …He began to wash the disciples’ feet.” (John 13:3,5)

The Father had put everything into His power, and He knew it. Jesus knew the extent of His divine power.

He holds all things in His hands. All things: Tonight. Our lives. Our pasts and our future. All fall under the sway of what Christ knew at that moment, when He rose from the table to perform the work of a slave.

Pope John Paul II used to remind the priests of the world every year: Remember that Jesus thought of you that night, when he gave the sacrament to the Apostles. He chose you, at that moment, to be His priest. The plan according to which you would one day have the privilege of celebrating Mass—He held that plan in His mind at that moment.

Same thing goes for all of us Christians. How is it that we find ourselves at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, sharing in the gift of communion in the Redeemer’s holy Body and Blood? How did it come to pass that we would come together tonight, to rest our souls on the bedrock of holy truth, the fundamental mysteries of our faith? It has come to pass because He conceived it all–conceived us in our places at church–in His beautiful Messianic mind, when He first said, “Take this, all of you…”

The Father had put everything into His power. Awesome: the omniscience, the omnipotence of the God-man.

But there is something even more indescribably awesome, something even more awesomely powerful, than Christ’s divine foreknowledge or His divine Providence. The most breathtakingly powerful thing of all is that He proceeded to minister unto them as if He were their slave.

Continue reading “Omniscience Forgetting; Omnipotence Kneeling”

Holy Week: Go to Church!

Pope Francis Palm Sunday

The Lord brings us together this week to share in His Paschal Mystery.

He went up to the holy city of Jerusalem to worship with His people, the Israelites whom God had spared from death and liberated from slavery. Jesus kept the Passover with His friends. He changed the ancient ceremony into the mysteries of His Body and Blood.

The original Holy Week of Christ’s Passion took place nearly 2,000 years ago, to be sure. But it is as real now as it was then. We are caught up in it. Our lives, our hopes, our faith in God–all of this is caught up in the events we hear recounted in church on Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday–and which we live out whenever we celebrate the Holy Mass together.

The Lord has given us the privilege of taking our part in all this. We thank Him that He has given us this Holy Week 2014 together to draw closer to Him.

More of John to Try to Understand

el greco st john evangelist“The One whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world” (John 10:26).

Let’s try to understand the gospel reading for Holy Mass today by focusing on I Corinthians 15:23. “Each one in proper order. Christ the firstfruits. Then, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to His God and Father.”

Proper order:

el-grecost-paulGod is God. First. Pre-eminent. The Cause. The Goal. The All-in-all. Altogether transcending the world, sovereign Master of the world, superabundant Lover of all the good things He has made.

Man. A creature, limited, non-divine. Yes, the god-like material creature, spiritual, intellectual, free—capable of union with God, even now, by faith and love. But also the self-centered, self-indulgent, self-destructive sinful creature.

Christ. God. Man. The divine Creator and the suffering Redeemer. The Mediator.

So, the order by which the cosmos becomes full of divine glory: God, first and last. Christ, first among the human race. Then us, who, through Christ, receive God’s grace and become the beautiful children He made us to be.

God, origin and goal. Christ, firstfruits, uniquely consecrated, but consecrated for a purpose: to gather us, as the members of His divine Body.