Apr 1 – Dachau, & Bl Giuseppe Girotti, OP, (1905-1945), Priest & Martyr

giuseppe girotti

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-by Br Patrick Mary Briscoe, OP

“On Good Friday 1940, the Nazi SS Guards of Dachau Concentration Camp found pretext to punish sixty-some priest-prisoners with an hour on “the tree.” One former Dachau prisoner describes the torture saying, “They tie a man’s hands together behind his back, palms facing out and fingers pointing backward. Then they turn his hands inwards, tie a chain around his wrists and hoist him up by it. His own weight twists his joints and pulls them apart.” The barbaric aptitude of the guards of Dachau incarnated the demonic for the some 2500 priests condemned to incarceration in the camp during the years 1933–1945. Priests were crowned with crowns of barbed wire while groups of Jewish prisoners were forced to hail them as kings. Guards mocked, spat upon, and forced priests to carry railroad ties, all in imitation of the crucified Lord.

Every passing day in that camp must have made all-too-real the wickedness and cruelty of Good Friday for those seemingly forsaken prisoners. Good Friday is the only calendar day during which priests do not offer the sacrifice of the Mass. Intermittently denied the ability to celebrate the sacraments, the priest-prisoners found themselves scrounging for scraps of bread to consecrate in clandestine Masses, often going long periods without the sacraments. The few luxuries they were allowed (extra helpings of food, permission to gather for prayer, etc.) evoke the comforts offered Christ during his passion, such as Veronica wiping his face or Simon helping to carry his cross. Even these comforts though were used against the priests, as the rest of the camp’s prisoners envied the liberties occasionally accorded them, making the priests despised even by the other prisoners: not unlike the rejection Christ endured from the angry mob.

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-Bl Giuseppe Girotti, OP

To be sure, not all of the priest-prisoners of Dachau were saintly men—some were actually notorious criminals—but some of Dachau’s resident clergy have been held up as model Christians by the Church, worthy of public veneration. One such priest is the relatively obscure Italian Dominican friar Giuseppe Girotti.

Fr. Giuseppe—a former student of the Servant of God Père Marie-Joseph Lagrange, OP—taught scripture and theology at the Dominican school of theology in Turin (S. Maria della Rose). He was universally beloved by his students. Fr. Giuseppe’s chef d’oeuvre, on the book of Isaiah, includes a detailed study of the beautiful passages on the Suffering Servant, passages applied in the New Testament to Christ in order to interpret his suffering and death on the Cross.  After Italy changed course to collaborate with the Allies in 1943, Fr. Giuseppe dedicated himself to aiding the Jews of Italy. Having studied in Jerusalem, he had a great respect for the Jewish people, whom he fondly called “elder brothers” and “carriers of the word.” When asked once about his work, he candidly said, “Everything I do is for charity.” He would arrange escape and hideouts for Jews.  Nevertheless, his illegal work on behalf of the persecuted Jews was eventually discovered. Fr. Giuseppe’s own via crucis (way of the cross) began on August 29, 1944, when he was betrayed, like his Master, and handed over to the police.

From the prison in Turin, Fr. Giuseppe was transferred to Milan, then to Gries, finally arriving at Dachau. As Isaiah says, “Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth. Seized and condemned, he was taken away. Who would have thought any more of his destiny?” (Isa. 53:7-8). In the midst of the horrific conditions of the camp, during the cold of the winter of 1944–1945 Fr. Giuseppe often said, “We have to prepare to die, but peacefully, with lighted lamps and the happiness of the saints.” On Christmas he gave two lectures on the theological virtues, and was known for regularly teaching his fellow inmates about Sacred Scripture. Fr. Giuseppe fell ill from the camp’s inhumane state, and was transferred to the infirmary.  He died there on Easter Sunday, 1945. It is assumed his life was extinguished by a lethal injection of gasoline, as was the common practice of the Nazi prison camps. “Because of his anguish he shall see the light; because of his knowledge he shall be content” (Isa. 53:11). When word spread through the camp that he had died, a fellow prisoner carved into his empty bed the words, “Here slept Saint Giuseppe Girotti.”

Fr. Giuseppe will be formally beatified on April 26, the day before Bl. John XIII and Bl. John Paul II will be canonized saints. Fr. Giuseppe’s remarkable, humble witness of charity stands in stark contrast to the forces of evil which tormented him. This is the self-effacing embrace of the passion we memorialize on Good Friday, the day of the death of Christ, the Suffering Servant. In the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “Yet it was our pain that he bore, our sufferings he endured. We thought of him as stricken, struck down by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed” (Isa. 53:4-5). Through his own passion, Fr. Giuseppe participated in Christ’s redemptive suffering for the sake of the Church (see Col 1:24). His entrance into eternal life on the glorious day of the Resurrection sheds a ray of hope in a dark world that one day will be transformed through the saving promise of Christ’s sacred Paschal Mystery.”

Love,
Matthew

Apr 15 – Bl Caesar de Bus, (1544-1607), Founder, Fathers & Daughters of Christian Doctrine & Patron of Modern Catechists

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Like so many of us, Caesar de Bus struggled with the decision about what to do with his life.  After completing his Jesuit education he had difficulty settling between a military and a literary career. He wrote some plays but ultimately settled for life in the army and at court.

One of the glories of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, who proved to be one of the greatest catechists in the history of the Church.  The seventh of thirteen children, he experienced a conversion from a worldly and frivolous life to embrace a life of prayer, penance, and austerity reminiscent of a St. Ignatius Loyola or a Pere de Foucald. He had been known as a dandy prone to cajolery and being “the life of the party” among his fellows.

For a time life was going rather smoothly for the engaging, well-to-do young Frenchman. He was confident he had made the right choice. That was until he saw firsthand the realities of battle, including the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacres of French Protestants in 1572.

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-Le massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy, François Dubois (1529–1584), oil on panel, 94 × 154 cm (37 × 60.6 in), Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, France

(The massacre took place five days after the wedding of the king’s sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France). This marriage was an occasion for which many of the most wealthy and prominent Huguenots had gathered in largely Catholic Paris.

The massacre began in the night of 23-24 August 1572 (the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle), two days after the attempted assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the military and political leader of the Huguenots. The king ordered the killing of a group of Huguenot leaders, including Coligny, and the slaughter spread throughout Paris. Lasting several weeks, the massacre expanded outward to other urban centres and the countryside. Modern estimates for the number of dead across France vary widely, from 5,000 to 30,000.

The massacre also marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its prominent aristocratic leaders, as well as many re-conversions by the rank and file, and those who remained were increasingly radicalized. Though by no means unique, it “was the worst of the century’s religious massacres.” Throughout Europe, it “printed on Protestant minds the indelible conviction that Catholicism was a bloody and treacherous religion”.)

de Bus’s conversion took place on the way to a masked ball while passing by a place where a small light was burning before an image of the Blessed Virgin. Suddenly, the prayer of a remarkable unlettered friend, the mystic Antoinette Reveillade, came to mind. She had begged God with tears for the salvation of his soul that death would not find him in mortal sin.

He thought, “How can I recommend myself to God while I am on the way to offend Him?” An extraordinary grace was victorious. In the words of one of his biographers, “One tempestuous night, the All-powerful God, the King of Glory, encountered the worldly chevalier Cesar de Bus, obstinate in sin, and conquered him.”

He fell seriously ill and found himself reviewing his priorities, including his spiritual life. By the time he had recovered, Caesar had resolved to become a priest. Following his ordination in 1582, he undertook special pastoral work: teaching the catechism to ordinary people living in neglected, rural, out-of-the-way places. His efforts were badly needed and well received.

Ordained a priest in 1582, de Bus was profoundly affected by his reading a life of St. Charles Borromeo shortly after the saint’s death. He was to take him as a model in everything that seemed to suit his own temperament and formation best, that is, the penitential life of the holy cardinal, his devotion to the Passion of Christ, his preaching, and especially his catechetical apostolate imbued with a deep love of the Church undergoing the terrible after-shocks of the Protestant Revolution.

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It should be recalled that the Blessed’s future catechetical apostolate was part of a vast movement of religious revival which implemented the decrees of the Council of Trent (1545-1563). One has only to think of the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), who died during the Council; St. Philip Neri, founder of the Oratory (1515-1575); St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582); St. John of the Cross (1542-1591); St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621); St. Peter Canisius (1521-1591); and particularly St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), the indefatigable Archbishop of Milan whose work with the famous Roman Catechism, provincial councils initiating needed reforms, and holiness of life, were to greatly influence the Blessed Cesar de Bus.

The French priest was to expend his energies catechizing the people of Aix-in-Provence who manifested massive religious ignorance as a result of the social and cultural turmoil stemming from the Religious Wars begun by Luther’s and Calvin’s rebellion. Largely forgotten today, de Bus was an impressive figure among his contemporaries. St. Francis de Sales considered him to be a holy rival to St. Philip Neri and declared him “a star of the first magnitude in the firmament of Catechesis.” De Bus was venerated by no less than Cardinal Richelieu who could not fail to be impressed by his austere and holy life.

Working with his cousin, Caesar developed a program of family catechesis. The goal—to ward off heresy among the people—met the approval of local bishops. Out of these efforts grew a new religious congregation: the Fathers of Christian Doctrine/”Prêtres séculiers de la doctrine chrétienne”.

One of Caesar’s works, Instructions for the Family on the Four Parts of the Roman Catechism/”Instructions familières”, was published 60 years after his death.

“I was so beside myself and fired with such a longing to do something in imitation of him, that I would not give my eyes sleep or my days rest until I had given some beginning to this resolution of mine.” -Blessed Cesar de Bus, writing about Saint Charles Borromeo

“In the year of his birth at Cavaillon, the Christian world is in a crisis, one of the most serious crises in its history. A crisis that is not only a religious and doctrinal one, but also a crisis of civilization, with the afflux of new movements of thought, not all negative, but which confuse the mass of the faithful. Cesar de Bus came into the world in this troubled period when men are gradually opening up to culture, to the arts and to the reign of pleasure. He let himself be swept along, during adolescence and early manhood, to the life of ease for which his social status and his fortune marked him out, the superficial, careless life of a gifted being, brilliant in society, a poet when he liked, more sensitive to the appeal of pleasure in every form than to the demands of the Gospel.

…After his conversion, the spiritual progress of the Blessed was not without its upsets, moments of discouragement, darkness and uncertainty. We have been struck, however, by what was to be, almost from the beginning, a characteristic of his whole life. Perhaps that is the secret of his constancy, or in any case, what always enabled him to overcome his difficulties and start off again with increased energy; we are referring to his “spirit of repentance.” Repentance is not an empty word for him. He carries it to its extreme consequences, for he has come back from afar! He must master the passion of which he was the slave in the past, a violent and perpetual battle against carnal temptations. He learns in this way to seek and love sacrifice, for sacrifice configures one with Christ Suffering and Victorious. To offer himself as a libation, to leave everything in God’s hand at the cost of the greatest renunciations, this seems to have been the leitmotif, the perpetual aim of his efforts. And when, at the end of his life, suffering and afflicted with blindness for 14 years, he is at last able to prepare for the supreme gift, he will realize how useful asceticism has been to master the old Adam. He will be ready to meet the Lord. His joy will be perfect.

The aim of Father de Bus is to communicate Christian doctrine to the people. The idea is far from being new. From the beginning the first Christians were anxious to transmit, and transmit exactly, the essential part of what they had received. Collections gathering the most outstanding events and sayings in the midst of a pagan world and in view of the dangers of doctrinal deviation, to inculcate in catechumens and recall to disciples a “kerygma,” that is, a central core, a “summary of the faith” containing the essential elements, which can serve as a basis for developments adapted to circumstances and to the psychology of listeners. It is necessary to give a solid foundation to their faith, to support their affective and charitable attachment to the living God with a knowledge of the truths of faith that will correspond to this love.

This is a period in which the world is in crisis, as formerly, and in which most values, even the most sacred ones, are rashly questioned in the name of freedom, so that many people have no longer any point of reference, in a period in which danger comes certainly not from an excess of dogmatism but rather from the dissolution of doctrine and the nebulousness of thought. It seems to Us that an additional effort should be courageously undertaken to give the Christian people, who are waiting for it more than is thought, a solid, exact catechetical base, easy to remember. We well understand that it is difficult today to adhere to the Faith, particularly for the young, a prey to so many uncertainites. They have the right at least to know precisely the message of Revelation, which is not the fruit of research, and to be the witnesses of a Church that lives by it.” -Pope Paul VI during the beatification of Blessed Cesar, April 27, 1975, “Christ to the World”, #4

“Blessed César de Bus, you who left us the admirable example of a life completely dedicated to God, you who were on fire with the desire to communicate the life of God to your brothers, intercede for us with the Lord now, so that the same fire may consume us and the same charity urge us.” -Pope Paul VI during the beatification of Blessed Cesar

Love,
Matthew

Apr 12 – St Joseph Moscati, (1880-1927), Layman, Physician, Scientist, Professor

MOSCATI prof. GIUSEPPE (santo)

His canonization miracle involved curing a young ironworker who was dying of leukemia; the patient‘s mother dreamed of a doctor wearing a white coat; she later identified his as Moscati when shown a photograph of him; soon after her son was cured.  He is the first modern physician to be canonized.

Joseph Mario Charles Alphonse Moscati, seventh of nine children born to a prominent family, the son of Francsco Moscati, a lawyer and magistrate who served as an altar server whenever possible, and Rosa de Luca dei Marchesi di Roseto, whose family was Italian nobility. Giuseppe’s family moved to Naples, Italy when the boy was four years old; he made his First Communion at age eight, Confirmation at ten.

Friend of Blessed Bartolo Longo and Blessed Caterina Volpicelli, he received his doctorate from the University of Naples in 1903. He worked at and served as administrator of a hospital for the incurable while continuing to study and do medical research. He assisted in the preparation for and recovery from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 8 April 1906, but refused any recognition for the work. He also led the work to stop cholera in Naples, and was a Member of the Royal Academy of Surgical Medicine in 1911, and received a doctorate in physiological chemistry.

He directed several hospitals and medical societies, and was one of the first to experiment with the use of insulin for diabetes. Tried to enlist in the army in World War I, but was refused and instead ran a hospital for the wounded; personally treated almost 3,000 soldiers. He healed (sometimes miraculously), taught at numerous universities and hospitals, and supported the poor and outcast; could sometimes diagnose a patient‘s illness and prescribe for it without having seen the patient. And, knew when and how to use a patient‘s faith and the sacraments to effect a cure.

Besides being an excellent doctor, Joseph Moscati was holy too. How did he do it? Each morning he went to Mass and spent time in prayer. Then the doctor would visit the sick poor in the slums of Naples. From there he would go to the hospital and begin his rounds. For twenty-five years, Joseph worked and prayed for his patients. He knew that the well-being of the soul often affected the health of the body. Along with prescriptions for medication, Dr. Moscati would prescribe prayer and a return to the sacraments, often with dramatic results! He saw Confession and Communion as the “first medicines”. He poured all his strength into his life’s calling.

On the afternoon of April 12, 1927, Dr. Moscati did not feel well, so he went to his office and relaxed in an armchair. There he had a stroke and died. He was forty-seven years old.

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“Remember that, following Medicine, you undertook upon yourself the responsibility of teachings always in your memory, with love and pity for the abandoned, with faith and enthusiasm, deaf to praises and criticisms, to envy, inclined only to God.” -from a letter to Dr.Giuseppe Biondi, Sept. 4th, 1921

“Life doesn’t end with death, it continues in a better way.  It has been promised to everyone, after the world’s redemption, the day that will join us again to our beloved dead and that will bring us again to Supreme Love!”
–St Joseph Moscati

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“Let us daily practice charity. God is love. He who loves is in God and God in him. Let us never forget to offer every day, nay, every moment, our actions to God, doing all things for love…Love the truth, show yourself as you are, without pretenses and fears…and if the truth causes you persecution, accept it, and if it causes you some torment, bear it.  And if for the sake of truth you should sacrifice yourself and your life, be strong in your sacrifice.”
-St Joseph Moscati

“Charity changed the world, not science…very few men are remembered because of science; but anyone can be an everlasting symbol of life eternal, where death is nothing but a step, a metamorphosis towards a higher place, if they will dedicate themselves to good”
-St Joseph Moscati

“Remember, that you must treat not only bodies, but also souls, with counsel that appeals to their minds and hearts rather than with cold prescriptions to be sent in to the pharmacist.”
-St Joseph Moscati

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“Who is the one we today propose to the imitation and veneration of everyone? He is a layman, who made his life a mission completed with evangelical genuineness. He is a doctor, who made his profession a training ground for the apostolate and a mission of charity. He is a University Teacher remembered by his students with a deep sense of gratitude and admiration. He is an haute école scientist, famous for his scientific contributions on an international scale. That is his life…”
-Pope Paul VI, beatification of Joseph Moscati

“The man who from today on we will invoke as a Saint of the Universal Church, is facing us as a concrete realization of the lay Christian ideal.   Joseph Moscati, head physician, a great researcher, University teacher of human physiology and physiological chemistry, fulfilled all his many tasks with all the will and seriousness that these lay delicate professions require.  From this point of view, Moscati is not only an example to be admired, but also to be imitated by the physicians… He is an example even to those people who don’t share his faith”.
-Blessed John Paul II, canonization of Joseph Moscati

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-St Joseph Moscati’s tomb

“Dear St Joseph Moscati, true model of Christian doctors, in the exercise of your medical profession, you always took care of both the body and soul of every patient.

Look on us, who have recourse to your heavenly intercession, and obtain for us both physical and spiritual health, and a share in the dispensation of heavenly favors.

Soothe the pains of our suffering people; give comfort to the sick, consolation to the afflicted and hope to the despondent.

May our young people find in you an ideal, our workers an example, the aging a comfort, the dying the hope of eternal salvation.

To all of us be a pattern of industriousness, honesty and charity; so we may comply with our Christian duties and glorify God our Father.”

Amen.

St Joseph Moscati, Model for Laity, pray for us!

Love,
Matthew

Apr 7 – Blessed Edward Oldcorne, SJ, (1561-1606), Priest & Martyr

after Unknown artist, line engraving, 1608
after Unknown artist, line engraving, 1608

Edward Oldcorne was born in York, England of a non-Catholic father and a Catholic mother. He gave up medical studies and enrolled at the English College in Rheims, France in 1581 before going on to Rome to complete his studies and was ordained. Soon after, he joined the Society of Jesus and was allowed to complete his novitiate in a very short time because of the difficult conditions he would face upon his return to England.

Fr Oldcorne stayed with Fr Garnet, the superior of the English Jesuits upon arrival but after a few months he was assigned to Hinlip Hall outside Worcester where he was to spend sixteen years. The master of Hinlip Hall was an ardent Catholic who was in prison and had left the property in the care of his sister, Dorothy, a Protestant who had been at the court of Elizabeth. While priests still found hospitality in Hinlip Hall, she merely tolerated their presence. Many priests had tried to reconcile her to the Church without success. It was left to Fr Oldcorne to find the way. She listened to his instructions and sermons, unconvinced; but when she learned that he had been fasting for days to bring about her conversion, she finally yielded to God’s grace and her conversion led many others in Worcester to return to the faith of their ancestors. The Hall became the Jesuit’s base of operations where many came to seek the sacraments and hear Fr Oldcorne’s preaching. His health was poor ever since he returned to England and he had throat cancer that left him with a hoarse and painful voice, but did not keep him from preaching. His cancer was healed following a pilgrimage to St Winifred’s shrine in 1591.

Catholics in England were looking forward to the end of persecution when Queen Elizabeth died and James I ascended the throne in 1603 as he had promised to be more tolerant, but in fact, the persecution increased. This angered some Catholics who plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament during the king’s visit on Nov 5, 1605. The plot was discovered and with that the hatred for Catholics intensified. The government was determined to implicate the Jesuits in the so-called “Gunpowder Plot” despite the capture of the men behind it. The Jesuit superior Fr Garnet decided to leave London and seek shelter at the Hall, which had more hiding places than any other mansion in England. Bro Nicholas Owen, the person who constructed all the priest-hiding places was with him and they joined Frs Oldcorne and Ashley.

The sheriff of Worcestershire and 100 of his men arrived at the Hall and spent several days searching for priests together with a certain Humphrey Littleton who betrayed Fr Oldcorne. The sheriff stationed a man in each room of the house and ordered others to tap on the walls in the hope of locating concealed priest-holes. By the end of the third day they found eleven such hiding places, but no priests, On the fourth day, starvation and thirst forced Br Ashley and Br Owen to emerge from their hole. Some say the religiously professed brothers real motive was to surrender themselves, focus attention on themselves and their capture, and distract the persecutors long enough for Frs Oldcorne and Garnet to escape.  They had hoped the sheriff would think that he had finally caught his prey and end the search, leaving the two priests in safety. But the sheriff was determined and his men continued their close examination of the house. Finally on the eighth day, Jan 27, 1606 Frs Oldcorne and Garnet were discovered when they emerged white, ill and weak. All four were taken to the Tower of London.

When the prison officials failed in their efforts to eavesdrop and record any conversation which could link the two priests to the Gunpowder plot, Fr Oldcorne was tortured on the rack five hours a day for five consecutive days. Yet he refused to say anything. When they were put on trial, Fr Oldcorne denied the charge of being involved so well that the charge against him was changed to simply being a Jesuit priest. On this new charge, Fr Oldcorne was found guilty and ordered to be executed. Just before he was hanged, his betrayer asked for pardon, which Fr Oldcorne readily granted, and he also prayed for the king, his accusers and the judge and jury who condemned him. He was pushed from the ladder and was cut down before he was dead and then beheaded and quartered.

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-Edward Oldcorne; Nicholas Owen, by Gaspar Bouttats, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 12:48 am
http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=22875

Eye relic of the Blessed Edward Oldcorne

Martyr’s eye returns to Worcester for school anniversary celebrations

“Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcestershire, UK will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this month with Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Birmingham and the veneration of a relic of the Jesuit martyr after whom the college is named – his right eye! The college is also planning to erect a memorial plaque on the site of his execution and to publish a history of the school… It is said that the force of the executioner’s blow was so extreme when he was decapitated that one of his eyes flew out of its socket. It has since been preserved in a silver casket and kept at Stonyhurst College.”

Blessed Lent!

Love,
Matthew

Apr 4 – St Isidore of Seville, (560-636 AD), Patron of the Internet, Father & Doctor of the Church

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Even saints run away, at first.  Peter, all of them, ran away, at first.  Isidore ran away, too.  Isidore served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades as the classical world was fading away and the Dark Ages loomed on every side.  He is considered, “The last scholar of the ancient world”.

Once, when Isidore was a boy, he ran away from home and from school. His brother Leander, some twenty years older than he, was his teacher, and a very strict and demanding one. Isidore despaired of ever pleasing his brother in his studies.  While Isidore sat by himself out in the woods, loafing and feeling sorry for himself, he watched some drops of water falling on a rock. Then he noticed that the dripping water had worn a hole in the hard rock! The thought came to him that he could do what the little drops of water did. Little by little, by sticking to it, he could learn all his brother demanded, and maybe even more.

Isidore realized that if he kept working at his studies, his seemingly small efforts would eventually pay off in great learning. He also may have hoped that his efforts would also wear down the rock of his brother’s heart.  When he returned home, however, his brother in exasperation confined him to a cell (probably in a monastery) to complete his studies, not believing that he wouldn’t run away again.  Either there must have been a loving side to this relationship or Isidore was remarkably forgiving, even for a saint, because later he would work side by side with his brother and after Leander’s death, Isidore would complete many of the projects he began including a missal and breviary.

In a time where it’s fashionable to blame the past for our present and future problems, Isidore was able to separate the abusive way he was taught from the joy of learning. He didn’t run from learning after he left his brother but embraced education and made it his life’s work. Isidore rose above his past to become known as the greatest teacher in Spain.  His love of learning made him promote the establishment of a seminary in every diocese of Spain. He didn’t limit his own studies and didn’t want others to as well. In a unique move, he made sure that all branches of knowledge including the arts and medicine were taught in the seminaries.

His encyclopedia of knowledge, the Etymologies, was a popular textbook for nine centuries. He also wrote books on grammar, astronomy, geography, history, and biography as well as theology. When the Arabs brought study of Aristotle back to Europe, this was nothing new to Spain because Isidore’s open mind had already reintroduced the philosopher to students there.

Still trying to wear away rock with water, he helped convert the barbarian Visigoths from Arianism, which denies the divinity of Christ, to Catholicism.  By the time of his death, the light of his learning caught fire in Spanish minds and held back the Dark Ages of barbarism from Spain. But even greater than his outstanding mind must have been the genius of his heart that allowed him to see beyond rejection and discouragement to joy and possibility.  Many of his remains are interred in the cathedral of Murcia, Spain.

Estatua de SAN ISIDORO DE SEVILLA (c. 560-636) en la escalinata de acceso a la Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid). Esculpida en piedra por José Alcoverro y Amorós (1835–1910) en 1892.

-by José Alcoverro, 1892, outside the Biblioteca Nacional de España, in Madrid.

“Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading. If a man wants to be always in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us. All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection. By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned. Reading the holy Scriptures confers two benefits. It trains the mind to understand them; it turns man’s attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God. The conscientious reader will be more concerned to carry out what he has read than merely to acquire knowledge of it. In reading we aim at knowing, but we must put into practice what we have learned in our course of study. The more you devote yourself to study of the sacred utterances, the richer will be your understanding of them, just as the more the soil is tilled, the richer the harvest. The man who is slow to grasp things but who really tries hard is rewarded, equally he who does not cultivate his God-given intellectual ability is condemned for despising his gifts and sinning by sloth. Learning unsupported by grace may get into our ears; it never reaches the heart. But when God’s grace touches our innermost minds to bring understanding, His word which has been received by the ear sinks deep into the heart.” – from Book of Maxims by Saint Isidore

“Heresy is from the Greek word meaning ‘choice’…. But we are not permitted to believe whatever we choose, nor to choose whatever someone else has believed. We have the Apostles of God as authorities, who did not…choose what they would believe but faithfully transmitted the teachings of Christ. So, even if an angel from heaven should preach otherwise, he shall be called anathema.” – Saint Isidore

“Indeed, just as we must love God in contemplation, so we must love our neighbor with action,” he declared. “It is therefore impossible to live without the presence of both the one and the other form of life, nor can we live without experiencing both the one and the other.” – Saint Isidore

“In confession there is mercy. Believe it firmly, do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God.” -St. Isidore of Seville

Almighty and eternal God, who created us in Thy image and bade us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful, especially in the divine person of Thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that, through the intercession of Saint Isidore, bishop and doctor, during our journeys through the internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Blessed Lent!

Love,
Matthew

Mar 25 – Solemnity of the Annunciation

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“You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a Son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.


-Annunciation Triptych Merode Altarpiece, workshop of Robert Campin (Netherlandish, Tournai), 1427–32, Oil on oak, overall (open): 25 3/8 x 46 3/8 in. (64.5 x 117.8 cm), central panel: 25 1/4 x 24 7/8 in. (64.1 x 63.2 cm), each wing: 25 3/8 x 10 3/4 in. (64.5 x 27.3 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. (Please click on the image for greater detail.)

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the Desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If He should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek Him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

St Bernard of Clairveaux

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Love,
Matthew

Mar 20 – St Jozef Bilczewski, (1860-1923), Archbishop of Leopoli, Lviv/Ukraine, “Good & Faithful Servant of the Lord”

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-Latin Cathedral, Lvov, Ukraine

Archbishop St JOSEPH BILCZEWSKI was born April 26, 1860 in Wilamowice near Kęty, in the present day Diocese of Bielsko Żywiec, then part of the Diocese of Krakow. Having finished elementary school at Wilamowic and Kęty, he attended high school at Wadowice receiving his diploma in 1880. On July 6, 1884 he was ordained a priest in Krakow by Cardinal Albino Dunajewski. In 1886 he received a Doctorate in Theology from the University of Vienna. Following advanced studies in Rome and Paris he passed the qualifying exam at the Jaghellonic University of Krakow.

The following year he became professor of Dogmatic Theology at the John Casimir University of Leopoli. He also served as Dean of Theology for a period of time prior to becoming Rector of the University. During his tenure at the University, he was appreciated as a professor by his students and also enjoyed the friendship and respect of his colleagues. He arduously dedicated himself to scientific work and, despite his young age, acquired notoriety as a learned man. His extraordinary intellectual and relational abilities were recognized by Francis Joseph, the Emperor of Austria, who presented Monsignor Joseph to the Holy Father as a candidate for the vacant Metropolitan See of Leopoli. The Holy Father, Leo XIII responded positively to the Emperor’s proposal and on December 17, 1900 he named the forty year old Monsignor Joseph Bilczewski, Archbishop of Leopoli of the Latin Rite.

Given the complex social, economic, ethnic and religious situation, care for the large diocese required of the Bishop a deep commitment and called for great moral effort, strong confidence in God, and a faith enlivened by a continual contact with God.

Archbishop Joseph Bilczewski became known for his abundant goodness of heart, understanding, humility, piety, commitment to hard work and pastoral zeal which sprung from his immense love for God and neighbor.

Upon taking possession of the Archdiocese of Leopoli he spelled out very clearly his pastoral plan which can be summed up in the words “totally sacrifice oneself for the Holy Church”. Among other things he pointed out the need for the development of devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament and frequent reception of Holy Communion.

A particular form of pastoral action of Archbishop Bilczewski were the pastoral letters and appeals addressed to the priests and the faithful of the Archdiocese. In them he spoke of the problems of faith and morals of the time as well as of the most pressing issues of the social sphere. He also explained devotion to the Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart in them and the importance of religious and moral formation of children and youth in the family and in school. He taught for the Church and for the Holy Father. Above all, he took great care to cultivate many holy priestly vocations. He saw the priest as first and foremost a teacher of faith and an instrument of Christ, a father for the rich as well as for the poor. Taking the place of Christ on Earth, the priest was to be the minister of the Sacraments and for this reason his whole heart had to be dedicated to the celebration of the Eucharist, in order to be able to nourish the people of God with the body of Christ.

He often exhorted the priests to adoration of the most Blessed Sacrament. In his pastoral letter devoted to the Eucharist he invited the priests to participate in the priestly associations: The Association for Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament and the Association of Aid to Poor Catholic Churches whose goal was to rejuvenate the zeal of the priests themselves. He also dedicated a great deal of care to the preparation of children and to full participation in the Mass, desiring that every Catechesis would lead children and youth to the Eucharist.

Archbishop Joseph Bilczewski promoted the construction of churches and chapels, schools and day-care centers. He developed teaching to help enable the growth in the instruction of the faithful. He materially and spiritually helped the more important works which were springing up in his Archdiocese. His holy life, filled with prayer, work and works of mercy led to his meriting great appreciation and respect on the part of those of various faiths, rites and nationalities present in the Archdiocese. No religious or nationalistic conflicts arose during the tenure of his pastoral work. He was a proponent of unity, harmony and peace.

On social issues he always stood on the side of the people and of the poor. He taught that the base of social life had to be justice made perfect by Christian love. During the First World War, when souls were overtaken with hate and a lack of appreciation of the other, he pointed out to the people the infinite love of God, capable of forgiving every type of sin and offense. He reminded them of the need to observe the commandments of God and particularly that of brotherly love. Sensitive to the social questions regarding the family and youth, he courageously proposed solutions to problems based on the love of God and of neighbor. During his 23 years of pastoral service he changed the face of the Archdiocese of Leopoli. Only his death on the 20th of March 1923 could end his vast and far-sighted pastoral action.

He was prepared for death and accepted it with peace and submission as a sign of God’s will, which he always considered sacred.

He left this world having enjoyed a universal recognition of holiness. Wanting to rest among those for whom he was always father and protector, in accord with his desires, he was buried in Leopoli in the cemetery of Janów, known as the cemetery of the poor. Thanks to the efforts of the Archdiocese of Leopoli the process for his beatification and canonization was initiated. The first step was concluded on December 17, 1997 with the declaration of the life of heroic virtue of Archbishop Joseph Bilczewski by The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. In June 2001, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized as miraculous the fact of the rapid lasting and unexplainable “quo ad modum” healing through the intercession of Archbishop Bilczewski of the third degree burns of Marcin Gawlik, a nine year old boy, thus opening the way for his beatification. The beatification took place in the Diocese of Leopoli on the 26th of June 2001 during Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Visit to the Ukraine.  Canonized Oct 23, 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.

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-statue of St Jozef Bilczewski displayed in Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Lviv, Ukraine

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– Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Lviv, Ukraine, founded 1360 AD by Casimir III the Great

St Jozef Bilczewski!  Pray for your people!  Pray for us!

Blessed Lent.

Love,
Matthew

Mar 17 – St Jan Sarkander, (1576-1620) – Priest, Widower, Martyr for the Seal of the Confessional

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-chapel of St John Sarkander

‘Tis the Season, as they say, for one’s Easter Duty.  Including everyone’s least favorite sacrament.

The Neo-baroque chapel of St. John Sarkander is a two-storeyed building crowned with a dome with a lantern opening. In the middle of the chapel, there is a circular opening into the basement, where a torture rack from Sarkander’s time has been situated. The interior of the chapel is impressively illuminated. Daylight from the lantern opening penetrates through the circular hole in the floor down to the basement.

The immediate surroundings of the chapel are one of the most picturesque corners of Olomouc, Moravia, Czech Republic. The adjoining double staircase is graced by a statue of St. John of Nepomuk, in a corner niche there is a statue of St. Jan Sarkander.

In the past, the city prison where John Sarkander was interrogated and tortured to death in 1620 was located on the site of the Chapel. John Sarkander was accused by Protestants of having helped to arrange the invasion of the army of the Polish Catholic King into Moravia. However, he did not violate the Seal of Confession during the torture.

Son of Georg Mathias Sarkander and Helene Kornicz Sarkander. Born in a time and place in the midst of the turmoil of the Protestant Reformation. His father died when Jan was still young, and the family moved to Pribor. He married, but his wife died when they were young, and they had no children.

Educated by Jesuits at Prague, receiving a master of philosophy degree in 1603.  In Olmutz, he became the center of a struggle for the hearts and souls of the local people; he was supported by Baron von Labkowitz of Moravia, but bitterly opposed by the wealthy anti-Catholic landowner Bitowsky von Bystritz.

The year 1618 saw the start of the Thirty Years War between Catholic and Protestant armies. When Protestant forces occupied Hollenschau, Jan was briefly exiled to Poland, but returned to minister to his oppressed parish flock. Polish forces moved into the area in 1620, and battle seemed imminent. Jan visited the field commander, carrying the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance as a shield and chastisement. No battles were fought in the area of Hollenshau.

Seizing the opportunity to brand him a spy, and thus explain the lack of attack by the Polish troops, his enemy von Bystritz denounced Father Jan as a traitor. Jan was arrested, taken to Olmütz, and tortured for a confession, for revenge, and to get him to break the seal of the confessional and supply damaging information about his patron and parishioner Baron von Labkowitz. Sarkander was racked, beaten and murdered, but he clung to his faith and gave his tormentors nothing. He was racked on February 13, 17, and 18th.  His tendons burst.  His bones dislocated.  On each of the days mentioned, the torture lasted for two and three hours, lighted candles and feathers soaked in oil, pitch, and sulphur were strewn over his body and ignited.

The sacramental seal is inviolable. Quoting Canon 983.1 of the Code of Canon Law, the Catechism states, “…It is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason” (No. 2490). A priest, therefore, cannot break the seal to save his own life, to protect his good name, to refute a false accusation, to save the life of another, to aid the course of justice (like reporting a crime), or to avert a public calamity. He cannot be compelled by law to disclose a person’s confession or be bound by any oath he takes, e.g. as a witness in a court trial. A priest cannot reveal the contents of a confession either directly, by repeating the substance of what has been said, or indirectly, by some sign, suggestion, or action. A Decree from the Holy Office (Nov. 18, 1682) mandated that confessors are forbidden, even where there would be no revelation direct or indirect, to make any use of the knowledge obtained in the confession that would “displease” the penitent or reveal his identity.

What happens if a priest violates the seal of confession? The Catechism (No. 1467) cites the Code of Canon Law (No. 1388.1) in addressing this issue, which states, “A confessor who directly violates the seal of confession incurs an automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; if he does so only indirectly, he is to be punished in accord with the seriousness of the offense.” From the severity of the punishment, we can clearly see how sacred the sacramental seal of confession is in the eyes of the Church.

In my own personal experience, rarely, but it has occurred, I have initiated, it has NEVER been initiated to me, a comment with my confessor outside the sacramental seal, referring to some innocuous anecdote, reflecting upon a recent confession; the confessor suddenly develops memory loss, not recalling anything about the sacrament.  I suspect/firmly believe this is intentional.  Triggered as a reflex, as a protective measure confessors have developed from wisdom and practice.  I know to drop it, quickly.  I get the message.  Gratefully.  Thankfully, for the mercy and compassion of these ordained.  This has happened more than once, with more than one confessor.  Consistently.  Such is the seriousness of the matter.

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-relief of torturing of John Sarkander on torturing rack at Sarkander’s gravestone


-reliquary of St Jan Sarkander, Olomouc Cathedral, Czech Republic.

O Mother Mary,
through the memory of your martyred Son
and His servant Jan Sarkander,
we ask you for support for those
whose unfortunate fate is to live
under the rule of violence and hatred.
We ask you to pray for the strength
for them to endure in their faith despite tortures,
plagues and prison. Amen.

Blessed Lent.

Love,
Matthew

Mar 10 – 40 Martyrs of Armenia, (d. 320 AD) – Soldiers of Christ

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-Forty Martyrs, ivory relief, 10th century, Constantinople

The phrase “Soldier of Christ (2 Tim 2:3)”, Ecclesia Militans, Church Militant, “The Fighting Church”, are all a bit dated, some may say.  Others, not so.  But here is a story of real ones.  We know their names. At Confirmation, Catholics become adults in the Church, and, traditionally, “Soldiers of Christ”.  At Confirmation, when the confirmandi are anointed with sacred chrism, they, by allowing this act say, “I am willing to die for the faith.  Never to deny my Lord and Savior.  No matter what.”  No exceptions.  “…more strictly obliged to spread and defend the Faith, by word and deed.”

Heralded in the sermons of St Basil, only fifty or sixty years after their deaths, we know they belonged to the Twelfth Legion, Legio XII, the Fulminata Legion, or “Armed with Lightning” Legion, or “Thunderbolt” Legion.  The Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, Licinius, who was eventually defeated and executed by Emperor Constantine the Great, was persecuting Christians.  The Emperor ordered all in his armies to sacrifice, to perform their pagan religio.  These forty legionnaires refused.

The military judge in charge of their case first tried persuasion.  He instructed them on the dishonor they would incur for refusing to worship the pagan gods.  Then, he made them large promises of preferment and high favor with the Emperor.  These were refused.  He recoursed to threats, most terrifying.  All in vain.  They were torn with whips.  Their sides rent with iron hooks.  Thrown in jail and chained.

Lysias, their general, returned.  They spoke freely and bravely of their love of the Lord.  A slow and severe death was devised especially for them.  They were stripped naked, marched onto a frozen pond and made to lie exposed to the cold.  On the shore were made warm baths and hot soup, within their sight.

Finally, one of their number fell, and ran to the warm baths.  As in battle, when one falls, another takes his place, a guard attending the baths on the shore was so moved by the courage of the remaining thirty-nine, embraced Christ, stripped, and took the place of the apostate, in formation, on the ice.

In the morning, the judge ordered the dead with cold and those nearly so, all of them, to be thrown into the fire, to be cremated.  As the bodies were being thrown into a wagon to be transported to the pyre, Melito, the youngest among them, was found to still be alive.  His tormentors hoped still to turn him.  So, they left him on the ice.

Melito’s mother, also a Christian, found her son in this condition.  Quite frozen, not able to move, and scarcely breathing.  He looked at her, and she encouraged him to persevere.  Reproaching his executioners, she picked him up and placed him in the wagon herself.  Their bodies were burned, but the ashes and remains collected by other Christians as relics, spread throughout many cities, around which many churches were built.

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-relics of the 40 Martyrs, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

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-Church of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, Bitola, Macedonia

“We beseech you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered torments and death for His love, and are now more familiarly united to Him, that you intercede with God for us slothful and wretched sinners, that He bestow on us the grace of Christ, by which we may be enlightened and enabled to love Him.” – St Ephrim

“If we die with Him,
we will also live with Him.
If we endure hardship,
we will reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He will deny us.
If we are unfaithful,
He remains faithful,
for he cannot deny Who He is.”

-2 Tim 2:11-14

Blessed Lent.

Love,
Matthew

You don’t have to like your priest

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(Editor’s note: if you are an adult of any length, one of greater struggles of faith, and especially of late, is the humanness of clergy. When I meditate on this and attempt to come to terms and still believe, I think of Jesus, and how He looks at and still loves us, and I have my answer; wonderfully, joyfully. Blessed be the Lord! Bless His Holy Name!

I’ve changed my perspective on this. I used to look up at the altar for inspiration. By default, such is the viewpoint of the laity. Lovingly, I was underwhelmed. However, when I changed my perspective to that of the celebrant, and saw the laity, at say, daily Mass, I was blown away. No pretension here. Just trying to make it through another day. Just one more day. And then, Mass again tomorrow morning. And, so on. That’s all. Simple. Wow. Awesome.

Looking from the altar into the pews I really, truly found inspiration. No offense to celebrants. It’s just maybe, and we do, expect too much, seeking that inspiration. I love our priests, even the ones I’ve had to forgive in my life. Maybe most especially those. At the same time, if you asked me, why are you Catholic, Matt? I would have to say as a primary reason because of all the truly Christian clergy, Servants of the Lord, I have met, and they far outnumber the ones I have had to forgive; holy men & women. I can name them for you. You know who you are. 🙂 )

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-by Br Patrick Mary Briscoe, OP

“It may well be the case that your parish priest preaches homilies that are—how do we say it gently?—uninspiring. Maybe you’ve come to him to ask a serious question about the faith concerning a teaching or mystery you’ve really struggled with, (Editor: mine is the Eucharist; my questions, doubts, and fears abound, yet in Adoration, still, I know, and believe. I simply accept. I know He is there. He looks at me. I look at Him) and he’s failed to offer satisfying answers. Perhaps he lacks charm and charisma, or falls short when it comes to offering the parish visionary leadership. He may well be a little impersonal, excessively shy, obnoxiously gregarious, slavishly bound to rubrics, overly political, or simply unexceptional. These may be the human realities of your priest…and you don’t have to like them.

Catholics often feel guilty if they’re unable to relate personally to their priest. Longing for their parish to incarnate the virtues of The Bells of St. Mary’s, people rightly have high expectations for their priests. Notwithstanding the faults of their beloved clergy, something lingers. For many faithful Catholics it’s hard to write off a priest. For better or worse, his office (his role) makes it difficult to treat him as if he were one more set of footprints stepping into, then out of, a life.

The simple fact is, the relationship of a priest to his people is not like any typical inter-personal relationship of our day. The people of God aren’t—strictly speaking—soldiers in an army, nor is the priest their commander. Parishes aren’t franchises, and the priest isn’t the office manager. Churches aren’t daycare centers, and the priest certainly isn’t a babysitter. So what, then, is the priest? How does he relate to his people?

The priest is a shepherd. Shepherds have a certain authority, like a military officer, but they exercise it differently. Sheep aren’t to be numbered off and subjected to evaluations according to certain performance standards: sheep are to be loved. Critics reject this image, saying it assigns the lay faithful the role of “mindless following,” and admittedly, like all analogies, it limps. However, it’s worth pointing out that being a shepherd isn’t exactly glamorous either. In reality, shepherding entails long, cold nights, exposure to the elements, mud, wandering, and lots of time alone. Our culture’s emphasis on egalitarianism and our deeply ingrained American democratic values can present considerable stumbling blocks to entering into this aspect of an authentic (healthy!) relationship with a priest.

Priests are physicians. A priest shouldn’t treat parishioners like employees. Far from focusing on stamping time-cards, filling out requisition forms, or accumulating benefits, the priest’s mission is to transform lives. As good doctors help patients to make much-needed lifestyle transitions, priests lead people to a closer relationship with God. Good doctors, and good priests, treat the whole person, communicating information clearly and patiently accompanying souls on their healing journey.

Finally, priests are fathers. Given the rate of disintegration of the natural family, we shouldn’t be surprised to see unresolved family difficulties come to the fore as seekers investigate religion. For others the problem isn’t the family, but the idea that the male priesthood offends the dignity of women. The lens of radical feminism or that of a fragmented family dynamic tragically discolors the image of the father. To cast light and dispel the discoloration, it can be helpful to consider the natural role of the father. At the biological level, fathers beget. They give life; they nurture and protect it. Fundamentally, the principle of bringing people to life invigorates priestly ministry. Fatherhood isn’t at its core about doling out discipline or dealing with dirty diapers—although any father will attest that these are important paternal duties. At its core, fatherhood is meant to strengthen and to animate.

Ultimately, relating to a priest isn’t about emotional satisfaction or some kind of quantifiable affectivity. Our relations with our priests are simply not like the connections we build or the bonds we forge in any other aspect of our life. We don’t have to like every priest we meet. Nevertheless, despite the challenges we may face with the priests we encounter throughout our lives, we should remember the difficulty of the task with which they have been entrusted, as well as that they are made of the same stuff as all human beings. Priests aren’t ordained because they are perfectly qualified or worthy or, in any simply natural way, deserving of the privilege of ministry; they are ordained because God has chosen to care for His people by means of frail human beings. And whether we like them or not, their frailty is a welcome reminder that God’s ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts (Isa 55:8). The One Who redeemed the world by the foolishness of the Cross continues to draw a people to Himself through faulty instruments – instruments like you and me.”

Blessed Lent.

Love,
Matthew

Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3