December 01, 2007



Most Catholics, even priests, seem to be unaware that Advent really is a season to be observed in two stages, each stage having its own character.

The Mass marks these two separate stages by giving us two separate Prefaces, one for the first stage of Advent and a different one for the second stage of Advent.

The Second Coming
The first stage of Advent begins with the First Sunday of Advent and lasts through December 16. The Preface of the Mass for this first stage recalls that Christ “humbled himself to come among us as a man”, but it quickly invokes our hope for the day when “Christ our Lord will come again in his glory.” Here is the complete text of the Preface of the Mass for Advent I.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When he humbled himself to come among us as a man,
he fulfilled the plan you formed long ago
and opened for us the way to salvation.
Now we watch for the day,
hoping that the salvation promised us will be ours
when Christ our Lord will come again in his glory.

And so, with all the choirs of angels in heaven
we proclaim your glory
and join in their unending hymn of praise:
Holy, holy, holy….

The Approach of Christmas
The second stage of Advent begins on December 17 and lasts through the afternoon of December 24 (thus being an octave). It prepares us more specifically for the coming solemnity of Christmas. The Preface of the Mass for this second stage of Advent recalls the prophecies of Christ’s birth, his life in the womb of the Virgin Mother, and John the Baptist’s announcement of his coming. Then this preface speaks of the joy that Christ give us “as we prepare to celebrate.” Here is the complete text of the Preface of the Mass for Advent II.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

His future coming was proclaimed by all the prophets.
The virgin mother bore him in her womb with love beyond all telling.
John the Baptist was his herald
and made him known when at last he came.
In his love Christ has filled us with joy
as we prepare to celebrate his birth,
so that when he comes he may find us watching in prayer,
our hearts filled with wonder and praise.

And so, with all the choirs of angels in heaven
we proclaim your glory
and join in their unending hymn of praise:
Holy, holy, holy….

A new letter from the Pope: "On Christian Hope"


"SPE SALVI facti sumus— in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us...."

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on 30 November, the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, in the year 2007
Click HERE for it.

November 29, 2007

Romanian Orthodox parish takes interest in the canonized saint, Padre Pio, and moves to convert to Catholicism


Former Romanian Orthodox woman says the saint obtained cure for her

Pesceana, Romania, November 28, 2007

The 71-year-old mother of a former Orthodox priest says she was cured of lung cancer through the intercession of Padre Pio. After the apparent miracle, the priest explained, he and his mother, and members of his parish, have become Catholics.

Lucrecia Tudor was born into the Romanian Orthodox Church and her son, Victor, followed a vocation to the priesthood. In 2002, he was working in Pesceana, close to Valcea, in south central Romania. Another son, Mariano, dedicated himself to painting, especially iconography, and lives and works in Rome.

The story of the family, and the church they are building dedicated to Saint Pio de Pietrelcina, was related to ZENIT by Italian journalist, Renzo Allegri.

Lucrecia was diagnosed with a tumor in her left lung more than five years ago. Romanian doctors told her surgery was impossible and she had few months to live. Lucrecia and Father Victor turned to Mariano for help, hoping that a doctor in Rome could be found to give a better prognosis.

Mariano contacted a well-known surgeon, who invited the young painter to bring his mother to Rome, where he would try to save her.

After reviewing the reports from his Romanian colleagues, the doctor examined Lucrecia with more detail, only to arrive at the same conclusion: An operation was useless. He could only offer medications to ease the sharp pain, which, he predicted would increase in the terminal phase.

Mariano kept his mother with himself in Rome so as to be near the doctor for checkups. He was working on a mosaic in a church and, as his mother does not speak Italian, he kept her close by. While he was working, his mother walked through the church, contemplating the paintings and statues.

In one corner, there was a large statue of Padre Pio. Lucrecia liked the statue and asked Mariano who it depicted. Mariano related briefly the story of the saint. In the coming days, he saw his mother spending all her time seated before the image, with which she chatted as if it were alive. Two weeks later, Mariano took his mother to the hospital for her checkup. The doctor said the tumor had disappeared.

Lucrecia had asked Padre Pio to help her, even though she was Orthodox, and, she said, the saint had granted her request.

"The great cure of my mother, accomplished through Padre Pio in favor of an Orthodox woman, impressed me much," Father Victor said. "I began to read the life of the Italian saint. I told my parishioners what had happened. They all knew my mother and everyone knew we had gone to Italy in order to try a surgical intervention, and that she had returned home cured, without any doctor having operated.

"In my parish, they began to know and love Padre Pio. We read everything we found about him. His holiness won us over. Meanwhile, in my parish other sick people also received extraordinary graces from Padre Pio. Among my people, there spread a great enthusiasm and, little by little, we decided to become Catholics, in order to be closer to Padre."

The step from the Orthodox to the Catholic Church required a slow process. And there were difficulties of every kind, Allegri explained in relating the story. But the parishioners continued in the process and even decided to build a church to dedicate it to Padre Pio.

"The funds are the result of the savings of this poor people, and of the help of some German Catholics who heard our story," Father Victor said. "And my parishioners are those who are bringing forward the work, working for free, naturally. After a few days, we celebrated solemnly the placing of the first stone. And it was a big party, because the Metropolitan Archbishop of Fagaras and Alba Julia of the Romanians, meaning, the highest authority of the Greek Catholic Church in Romania, came to celebrate. To conclude this ceremony, the metropolitan wished to meet my mother, cured through a miracle of Padre Pio, and posed with her for a photo."

November 27, 2007

The defeat of the Church

Today's homily.
Click HERE for it.

Our “imitation worship”

When we worship, when we give honor and glory to God, we are imitating what has been going on between the Father and the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit from before all creation.
2 Peter 1:16-18
We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when HE RECEIVED HONOR AND GLORY FROM GOD THE FATHER and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

John 13:31-32
Jesus said, “NOW IS THE SON OF MAN GLORIFIED, and IN HIM GOD IS GLORIFIED; if God is glorified in him, GOD WILL ALSO GLORIFY HIM in himself, and glorify him at once.”

John 17:1-5
Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; GLORIFY YOUR SON THAT THE SON MAY GLORIFY YOU, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; and now, FATHER, GLORIFY ME IN YOUR OWN PRESENCE WITH THE GLORY WHICH I HAD WITH YOU BEFORE THE WORLD WAS MADE.”

November 26, 2007


Michael Barber is Professor of Theology, Scripture and Catholic Thought at John Paul the Great Catholic University, in San Diego, California. He is currently finishing a Ph.D. in Theology.

He will be speaking about Christmas at my monastery beginning at 2 P.M. on December 9.

+ Why do some scholars doubt the truth of the Christmas story?
+ Do the Gospels contradict each other?
+ Was Jesus really born in Bethlehem? If so, why there?
+ Why is the Christmas star a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy?
+ Why did the magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
+ Why can we trust the Gospels?
+ Why is Jesus placed in a “manger”?
... much, much more!

We are opening Michael Barber’s presentation to the general public.

November 25, 2007

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King of the Universe

It falls on what would be the final Sunday of the Church year, the thirty-fourth ordinary Sunday of the Church year. I've posted a homily.
Click HERE for it.

World's largest mosaic of Christ

"Christ in Majesty"
National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Washington, D.C.

The following two images are details from the icon of "Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace, King of the Universe" that is behind the altar in my monastery's church. The actual icon is eight feet square.