June 30, 2007

She lives in Canada.

She reads my blog.
She recently visited Rome, where quite by accident she met a Texas seminarian who happens to be my nephew.
She's now visiting relatives in Southern California.
Today she visited my monastery, and so we met in person for the first time.
Later this year she will be entering the monastery of Benedictine nuns, the Abbey of Saint Walburga, in Virginia Dale, Colorado.
The nuns have a website.
Click HERE for it.

VOCATION RETREATS FOR MEN

We are offering two "come and see" retreats for interested men aged 18 to 45 years. The retreats will be July 16 to 20 and August 20 to 24.

If you are interested, leave me a comment, and I will have our vocation director contact you. Mark your comment CONFIDENTIAL, include your name, e-mail address, telephone, etc., and I will be sure your information does not appear on the blog.

Please inform those you know who may be interested.

An article about life at my monastery, Prince of Peace Abbey:
Click HERE for it.

June 29, 2007

A double “nameday” in the monastery

In classical Catholic culture, we don’t have a long tradition of celebrating one another’s birthdays. However, we have a long history of celebrating our namedays, the days of the saints whose names we bear. European Catholic families (and some Protestant ones, too) celebrate namedays rather than birthdays.

I would guess that in the “W.A.S.P.” (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant) world, the practice of celebrating birthdays was a deliberate attempt to displace the Catholic custom of celebrating the names of saints. That would be similar to the definite and intentional replacing of the great festival of Candlemas (the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation, once also celebrated as the Feast of the Virgin Mother’s Purification) with “Groundhog’s Day.” In Catholic Europe, the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation was celebrated as a day of symbolically and spiritually breaking the darkness of winter, just as Christ the Lord brought the light of his physical human presence for the first time into the Temple of God.

Groundhog Day is bovine muck.

Christ the Light of the World is truth.

In my monastery, at the evening meal, we bring out a cake with candles and sing to the monk whose nameday it is, “Happy Nameday to You” (to the tune of “Happy Birthday to You”).

It so happens that we have a Brother Peter and a Brother Paul in my monastery. They, as all of us, received their names when they made vows.

Today, then we will be singing:
Happy Nameday to you!
Happy Nameday to you!
Happy Nameday, Brother Peter!
Happy Nameday to you!


Then we will sing for Brother Paul:
Happy Nameday to you!
Happy Nameday to you!
Happy Nameday, Brother Paul!
Happy Nameday to you!

Rock on, Church of God!

I’ve posted a homily for the solemnity.
Click HERE for it.

June 28, 2007

Benedictine Abbot notes the spiritual goal of the "Year of St. Paul"

From Zenit.org

The Year of St. Paul proclaimed by Benedict XVI is a time to grow in faith, hope and love, says the abbot of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Father Edmund Power talked with ZENIT about the Pauline Year, which the Pope proclaimed today.

The year begins in June 2008, symbolically marking the 2,000th anniversary of the saint's birth.

"It has a primarily spiritual scope, a time for increasing in faith, hope and love," Father Power said.

"Inspired by the teachings of St. Paul who taught us how to 'theologize' Christ, crucified and risen, we can renew our dedication to the same Christ," explained the abbot, whose community is responsible for the caretaking St. Paul's tomb.

He continued:
"It will be a year honoring St. Paul including cultural and academic activities, etc. Paul left a body of writing that make up, chronologically, the first books of the New Testament. It is hoped that the many cities, dioceses, congregations and parishes dedicated to the Apostle of the Gentiles, will find ways of celebrating their patron saint. Naturally the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, which houses his tomb, will be a special place of pilgrimage. We are already thinking of spiritual, liturgical, academic and cultural activities."


June 27, 2007

Benedictine Monks and Saint Paul the Apostle

Benedictine monks have had a monastery with custody of Rome’s Basilica of Saint Paul for more than a thousand years. Pope Benedict XVI will proclaim a Year of St. Paul beginning with the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul this coming June 29.

The following is an interview that Zenit.org conducted with the prior of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Paul in Rome. [Note. The superior of an abbey is an abbot. The abbot appoints an assistant, and he is called the prior.]



Year of St. Paul an Ecumenical Effort, Says Monk
Apostle of the Gentiles Recognized by All Christians


Rome, June 25, 2007
The Year of St. Paul has ecumenical significance, according to the prior of the Benedictine abbey at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The Year of St. Paul will be proclaimed by Benedict XVI on June 28, on the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, during an ecumenical celebration at the church housing the apostle's tomb.

ZENIT spoke with Benedictine Father Johannes Paul Abrahamowicz about the significance of this year.

"St. Paul," he said, "has perhaps been somewhat forgotten as a person, even if we hear his words in one of the readings at almost every Mass."

The Benedictine prior said that Catholics associate St. Peter with the Pope, but that "no Christian confession claims to have the right of succession to the holy Apostle to the gentiles. St. Paul is for all. Just look at how Christians of all confessions venerate his tomb."

Speaking of Benedict XVI's ecumenical effort, Father Abrahamowicz explained: "It is a new effort, not in the sense of a repetition, as if to say, 'Come on, let's give it another try,' but rather it is an effort with a new style, in which he seems to be recalling a particular aspect proper to the work of St. Paul."With great success that athlete of God traveled more than 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) to evangelize Asia Minor, but this Pope has not forgotten that those Churches, new at that time, are in present day Turkey.""Who would have seen them on TV if Benedict XVI had not gone there personally?" Father Abrahamowicz said.The prior added: "Salt, Christianity, and even ecumenism have the characteristic of being in the minority. Apparently the Holy Father is casting a tiny grain of sand into the world, but behind this small gesture is a great confidence in the Almighty."


June 24, 2007

A PATRON SAINT FOR MEN: John the Baptist, Greatest Man Ever Born, Friend of the Bridegroom

The Church quotes this saint at every Mass:  "Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world."  [Jn. 1:29]

Today is the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist. A solemnity that falls on a Sunday usually replaces the Sunday. The only two persons whose birthdays are solemnities in the Church year are the Lord Jesus Christ and St. John the Baptist. (The birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8, is a feast—which is of lower liturgical rank than a solemnity— so her birthday drops out if it falls on a Sunday.)

The names of the Lord Jesus and of St. John the Baptist are the only ones revealed from heaven before their births.

The first person whom the Litany of the Saints invokes is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the second is St. Michael the Archangel, and the third is St. John the Baptist.

In Luke 7:28, Jesus says John the Baptist is the greatest man ever born on earth, but that it is greater to be the lowest born in the kingdom of God.

Here’s a look at the testimony of the Gospels concerning the surpassing greatness of St. John the Baptist, his ancestry, his mission, his message, his light, his joy, and his friendship with the Son of God. After the Gospel passages, I will offer a few remarks.

- - - -

Luke 1:5-7
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a
PRIEST named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of
THE DAUGHTERS OF AARON [the line of the High Priests], and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both
RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD, walking
BLAMELESS IN ALL THE COMMANDMENTS AND ORDINANCES OF THE LORD. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Luke 1:13-17
But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name
JOHN [meaning, “God is gracious”] And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be
GREAT BEFORE THE LORD, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be
FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, EVEN FROM HIS MOTHER'S WOMB. And he will
TURN MANY OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL TO THE LORD their God, and he will go before him in
THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIJAH, to
TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS TO THE CHILDREN, AND THE DISOBEDIENT TO THE WISDOM OF THE JUST,
TO MAKE READY FOR THE LORD A PEOPLE PREPARED."

Luke 1:39-44
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary,
THE BABE LEAPED IN HER WOMB; and Elizabeth was
FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears,
THE BABE IN MY WOMB LEAPED for
JOY.

Luke 1:67-80
And his father Zechariah was
FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel.... And you, child, will be called the
PROPHET OF THE MOST HIGH; for you will
GO BEFORE THE LORD to
PREPARE HIS WAYS, to
GIVE KNOWLEDGE OF SALVATION to his people in
THE FORGIVENESS OF THEIR SINS, through
THE TENDER MERCY OF OUR GOD, when the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child grew and became
Strong In Spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

John 1:26-36
John answered them,
“I BAPTIZE WITH WATER;
but among you stands one whom you do not
know, even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal
I AM NOT WORTHY to untie.” This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where
JOHN WAS BAPTIZING.
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,
“BEHOLD, THE LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD!
This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but
FOR THIS I CAME BAPTIZING WITH WATER,
THAT HE MIGHT BE REVEALED TO ISRAEL.” And John bore
WITNESS,
“I SAW THE SPIRIT descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but
HE WHO SENT ME TO BAPTIZE WITH WATER
said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne
WITNESS that this is the Son of God.” The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said,
“BEHOLD, THE LAMB OF GOD!”

John 5:33-35
Jesus said, “You sent to John, and
HE HAS BORNE WITNESS TO THE TRUTH. Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. He was
A BURNING AND SHINING LAMP,
and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his
LIGHT.”

Luke 7:24b-28
“What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A
PROPHET? Yes, I tell you, and
MORE THAN A PROPHET. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send
MY MESSENGER before thy face, who shall
PREPARE thy way before thee.’ I tell you, among those born of women
NONE IS GREATER THAN JOHN;
yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

John 3:27-30
John answered, “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been
SENT before him.
He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the
FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM, who
STANDS AND HEARS HIM,
REJOICES greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this
JOY of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must
DECREASE.”

- - - -

That last Gospel text is John’s testimony about himself. He describes the role of the bridegroom’s friend as that of waiting to hear the sound of the bridegroom’s arrival at the wedding. Up to that point the friend has been something of a “master of ceremonies”; but then, once the bridegroom arrives, the wedding can take place, and the friend can step into the background. John brought Israel, the Bride of God, to readiness for the wedding by calling Israel to repentance. Once Christ the Bridegroom arrived to “claim” his Bride, John’s mission was fulfilled. John could now “decrease”, as the Bridegroom now stepped to the fore.

Every man has a mission to “prepare” the way for the arrival of Christ the Bridegroom in his own life first of all. A man does this by calling himself to conversion. Every man is to be the friend of the Bridegroom such that the Bridegroom, Christ, increases in his own life.

- - - -

I have posted a homily for the occasion.

Click HERE for it.