Another 1968?

 

Le Pape Paul VI A New York

On the eighth day after His birth, the newborn Israelite boy was circumcised and given His Name… Which means: “God saves.”

The pope has declared Jesus’ circumcision day to be the “World Day of Peace.” Monday was the 50th World Day of Peace. Which means the first one was: January 1, 1968. Let’s see; what happened that year?

Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated. Robert Kennedy assassinated. Riots in Washington, DC, Chicago, Baltimore, Kansas City, Wilmington DE, and Louisville KY. The Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Protests, shootings, and Black-Power fists at the Olympics in Mexico City. The students shut down Columbia University. Riots in Paris. Prague Spring—then Soviet tanks rolled in. President Johnson won’t run for re-election. Nixon wins the presidency.

Also: Blessed Pope Paul VI taught definitively that artificial birth control is immoral, and he approved the revised Order of the Mass.

1968 was not, actually, pure chaos. Pope Paul and President Johnson spent the spring working together to try to bring an end to the war in Vietnam that everyone seemed to be protesting.

Our current US president graduated from the University of Pennsylvania that spring, then received a draft deferment. And our current pope was finishing his theology studies before his ordination to the priesthood in 1969.

Will 2018 unfold as dramatically as 1968 did? Will it prove to be another year of apparent chaos? Maybe. Only the good Lord knows. The good Lord Who saves us. By becoming one of us. Jesus.

One thing we know for sure: He lives, and He loves. He will love us through 2018, no matter what this year brings.

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Mass on New Year’s

El Greco Adoration of the Holy Name of Jesus
El Greco, “Adoration of the Holy Name”

To start the new year of by going to Mass! To start the new year off by going to Mass in honor of our Lady! To start the new year off by going to Mass in honor of our Lady on the day when Jesus received His Holy Name! To start the new year off by going to Mass in honor of our Lady on the day when Jesus received His Holy Name, and celebrating the Octave as an act of rebellion against the idea that Christmas is over!

This is what Catholics do.

Rebelled against the dreary idea that Christmas ends when Walmart says it ends. I visited a Walmart bright and early this past Saturday morning, the 26th, to buy my nephews some light sabers. Walmart already had Valentine’s candy out in the seasonal aisles.

That’s ok. They had moved on from Christmas. So I got a life-size talking Yoda at half price!

My point is: We rebel. We say Christmas doesn’t end until Holy Mother Church says so. Which means we still have another eight days of loving baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph. WalMart thinks it’s time for Valentine’s Day, and the wise men haven’t even arrived yet from the East. Please!

…“God saves.” How do you say that in Hebrew? Come on people. This is a really easy one. How do you say “God saves” in Hebrew? The Lord shed the first drop of His Precious Blood on Jan. 1, beneath the knife of circumcision, as He received His name. God saves.

…We can’t love and honor the son without loving and honoring the mother.

Can we make a deal for 2016? That we Catholics will stop apologizing to Protestants for honoring our Lady. Ever since Vatican II, we have fallen all over ourselves… “We don’t worship Mary! We’re not Mariolaters! We’re just like you!”

How about saying—in a friendly way, of course—“Can’t understand why anyone who loves the Lord Jesus wouldn’t love His Mother also, and honor her, and carry her rosary and pray it daily.”

And we start the new year off with Mass. Someday, Mass will never end. Not that it will become oppressively boring ad infinitum. But we will, please God, have entered the heavenly liturgy. We will gaze with rapture upon the infinite glory. Until then, while we continue to make our pilgrim way, it’s a good thing to start each new year off right.

Hail Mary and Jesus

2014 will afford many wonderful moments, no doubt. The good Lord holds all of this years’ moments in His hands. One of the big ones: the canonization of Blessed Pope John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday this spring!

ihs1Pope John Paul II gave us the Memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus on January 3. Jesus, splendor of the Father. Jesus, brightness of eternal light. Jesus, father of the poor. Jesus, treasure of the faithful. Jesus, joy of angels. Jesus, crown of saints. By Your Nativity, by Your infancy, by Your labors, by Your agony and Passion, by Your cross and dereliction, by Your Resurrection, by Your institution of the Most Holy Eucharist, by Your glory—deliver us, O Jesus!

Ever since I served as the unworthy pastor of Holy Name parish in northeast Washington, I have kept a copy of the Litany of the Holy Name tucked into the front of my breviary. I do not recite the Litany anywhere near as often as I should.

Fortunately, the Lord provides us with a lot of ways to venerate the Holy Name on a moment-to-moment basis, and one way is to say a lot of Hail Marys, as we discussed day before yesterday. The Hail Mary is, among other things, the most widely used form of veneration of the Holy Name of Jesus. “And blessed is the fruit of thy womb,…” JESUS!

When I met Pope John Paul II, with a group of seminarians, he took his leave of us by declaring, “Prayzed bee da Lohd Jeesoos Chrise!”

Now and forever!

cropped-me-with-pope-jp-ii.jpg

ישוע Two Points: Why + the People

Mary will bear a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

Yeshua. God saves. That’s what the Hebrew means. Jesus. God saves.

That’s one of the angel’s main points to St. Joseph. The child has been conceived in ineffable holiness by God. The human child of your beloved Mary—the child is divine. And the divine child comes to save. You can’t name Him Xerxes or Thor or Qin Shi Huang–you can’t name Him anything but Jesus, because the whole point is: God saves. God comes to be with His people, in the flesh—in order to save His people.

Okay. Two points.

1. Salvation. From what? From slavery to ourselves, our limitations, our unshakable self-destructiveness. Salvation from interior darkness, ignorance, malice. Salvation from our incurable smallness. Salvation from pointlessness.

People say that mankind has lost the sense of sin. The popes of the twentieth century said this. But getting our sense of sin back is as easy as submitting to the questioning of any four-year-old.

Continue reading “ישוע Two Points: Why + the People”

Кирил

St. Cyril devised the alphabet which the Russians use. He died in Rome 1,142 years ago today.

Mithras
St. Cyril’s tomb is in the church of St. Clement, near the Roman Coliseum.

In ancient times, there was a military barracks here. The soldiers used to worship their manly pagan god Mithras on this very spot.

Now it is a church of the true, triune God. The apse mosaic depicts the Holy Cross as the Tree of Life.

…Smells like spring around here. Hard to believe that one year ago today I was shoveling sixteen feet of snow in the parking lot at the corner of 11th and K Streets, N.E.

I miss Holy Name parish very much. But the plan of God has been favorable to its citizens: they are now in much more capable hands.

Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo is going to give me a new assignment somewhere near my hermitage. Hopefully I will be of some use to my fellow Mountain People.

Southwest Corner

Remember when Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines?

Well, this afternoon my Evangelization Team and I reached the southwest corner of my little city parish.

Every Friday afternoon, we knock on doors and invite people to church. We take the parish block by block.

It felt great to reach one of the corners of our territory. We memorialized the moment with a cellphone snapshot.

At Sixth and G Streets, Northeast

Three more corners to go.

Old Made New

“Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)

“Behold, I make all things new.” This is what the One who sat on the throne in heaven said, according to the vision of St. John.

Christ our King speaks to us from His throne of victory. He says to us:

My children, you have grown old.

The dreariness of sin and worldliness has exhausted you. You can barely lift up your eyes to see the sunlight.

But, behold! I make all things new!

Continue reading “Old Made New”

Springtime Revelations

Here is my Palm Sunday homily to my beloved Northeast Washington flock. Perhaps you websurfers will get something out of it…

Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. But not my will, but Yours be done. (Luke 22:42)

Not everything is immediately visible to the eye. It takes time for some things to be revealed.

Admit it: When I first arrived here at Holy Name, you thought to yourself: What in the world is this tall, quiet, nineteen-year-old white boy doing here as the pastor of our parish? You know you were thinking this.

With time, though, I hope something that was hidden has been revealed. I may be a stiff, quiet, young-looking white man. But: You can count on me to get up here and put the Word of God on you. I am going to preach Jesus Christ to you as much as any man—old, young, black, white, yellow, or red.

St. Albans School
Maybe this was hidden at first. Hopefully it has been revealed now.

God did not give you Barack Obama to be your pastor. Young-looking Father White–upper-northwest St. Albans boy, crewcut, glasses, goofy nerd—I am the pastor God gave you, and the white boy is just the one you need.

So we see: With time, hidden things can be revealed.

This happens every spring. Springtime comes. All the beauty of the earth, which has been hidden through the winter—that beauty is revealed to our eyes.

The Lord Jesus was conceived in His mother’s womb in the springtime. Our Lady consented to the Archangel Gabriel on March 25. The Holy Spirit overshadowed her, and the Word became flesh in her womb.

As soon as the Son of God became one of us, He declared His obedience to the Father. Christ prayed in Mary’s womb and said, “Behold, Father: I come to do your will.”

Throughout His pilgrimage on earth, the Lord Jesus always did the will of the Father, down to the most minute detail of His life.

“My food is to do the will of the One Who sent me…I do only what I see the Father doing…The Father works, so I work.”

But the full extent of Christ’s obedience lay hidden for most of His life. Everyone who knew Him saw that His will belonged to God above. But no one could have imagined just how perfect Christ’s obedience really was.

It was in Holy Week that the full measure of Christ’s submission was revealed. What was hidden in the Virgin’s womb was made visible when He went up to Jerusalem for the last time.

In the womb, He had said, “Behold, Father, I come to do your will.”

Then, in the Garden, He said: “Father, if it be possible, let this most bitter cup of suffering pass from me. But not my will, but Yours be done.”

Hall of Famers and the Holy Name

Many art historians say: El Greco was a pioneer Modern painter.

I have no interest in this thesis. El Greco is an L.R.S. Hall-of-Famer by his own merits. He is the greatest painter ever. He is in a class by himself.

I have to admit that I never noticed that St. Mary Magdalene is in El Greco’s Saint Peter in Penitence. She is rushing from the empty tomb, with the angel behind her. (Just to the left of St. Peter’s right elbow.)

(FYI: El Greco painted this subject at least six times. The Phillips Collection houses one.)

…Had enough Christmas sentimentality? Check out this hard-nosed Epiphany poem by another L.R.S. Hall-of-Famer…

…Speaking of Epiphany, it is a good day to mark your calendars with the most important days of the year. Click here, and scroll down to page 3.

Also, here is a homily for the Solemnity, with a little something thrown in for the Feast of the Holy Name:

When the wise men arrived in Bethlehem, they learned something they did not yet know.

Continue reading “Hall of Famers and the Holy Name”

New Year

Sweet Hoya win over the team that embarrassed us twice in one week at the end of last season!

Makes a guy want to come clean for the foibles of ’09. Let me begin by acknowledging that:

1. I think I was unfair to Romeo and Juliet.

2. My sonnet about the Hoyas last February was kind of bitter.

…Here’s a New Year’s Day homily:

Christmas Day is such a holy and important day that it lasts for eight days. Christmas Day lasts from December 25 until today, New Year’s Day.

Everybody knows this. The greeting is: “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” They go together, Christmas and New Year’s. They are the beginning and end of the annual celebration of the birthday of God.

Continue reading “New Year”