May is the month traditionally dedicated to Mary, the Mother of our Lord. And during the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI addressed Our Lady by a new title: the Mother of the Church.  Because of the developments in communications, travel on the part of many people to Rome, and travel on the part of the Popes to every part of the world, I think that there is an increasing understanding of the Church as a worldwide community of believers who are united by their communion with their local bishops and with the supreme bishop of Rome, our Holy Father the Pope.  More and more Catholics are aware of the religious situation in Russia, in China, in western Europe, in Latin America, in those countries where Muslims constitute a majority of the population, in sub-Saharan Africa, and in our own country.

We are aware that the conflict between good and evil goes on as always; that “the gates of Hell” are still trying to destroy the kingdom of God upon earth, and that Christ, in his Church, is being crucified here and there even as he is being born wherever the Church is being established and human beings are becoming Christians through the sacrament of Baptism and the other sacraments.

Let me ask you, especially during this month of May, to pray for the Church in this world of ours—to pray that she will be successful in bringing about the kingdom of God on this planet of ours, and that through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, many souls will be won to Christ and to eternal salvation. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 18, 2018

Feast of Pope Saint John I (18 May 2018)

This weekend we have the joy of celebrating the great solemnity of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, as it has been called.  Jesus formed the body of the Church during his life on earth by giving it its organization, its leaders (pope and bishops), its sacraments, its doctrine and moral code, and its first members: his apostles and disciples, including his own most holy Mother.

But he did not during his life on earth confer its soul upon it. That was to occur after Jesus’s ascension into heaven, when he sent the Spirit upon the Church, who is its soul and will animate and energize it until the end of time.

One of the most beautiful of our liturgical hymns and poems is that which was composed for the feast of Pentecost. It is the “Veni, Sancte Spiritus,” — “Come, Holy Spirit.”  Since its use at Mass is optional, I would like to include it in this daily message and encourage you to read it and reflect upon it on your own, not only at Pentecost but often throughout the year. It is the most venerable of prayers to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity:

Come, O Holy Spirit, come

And from thy celestial home

Shed a ray of light divine.

Come, O Father of the poor;

Come, thou source of all our store,

Come, within our bosoms shine.

Thou, of comforters the best,

Thou, the soul’s most welcome guest,

Sweet refreshment here below.

In our labor, rest most sweet,

Grateful coolness in the heat,

Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed light divine,

Shine within these hearts of thine

And our inmost being fill.

Where thou art not, we have naught;

Nothing good in deed or thought;

Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds; our strength renew.

On our dryness pour thy dew;

Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will;

Melt the frozen; warm the chill.

Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful who adore

And confess thee evermore

In thy sevenfold gift descend.

Give the virtue’s sure reward;

Give them thy salvation, Lord,

Give them joys that never end.

Amen! Alleluia!

Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 14, 2018

Feast of Saint Matthias (14 May 2018)

Way back in the days of the Jewish patriarchs, the father of the Jewish people was Abraham.  His son was Isaac, and his son was Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel.  Jacob or Israel had 12 sons who became the progenitors of the 12 tribes of Israel.  It was customary to speak of the 12 tribes of the Jewish people, and everyone back in those days knew the tribe to which he or she belonged.  The tribe of Levi was the priestly tribe from which the priests and Levites were drawn.  The tribe of Judah was the one from which the Messiah was to be descended.

When Jesus began his public life, He chose from among His followers 12 men who would be His special companions.  He chose 12 very deliberately because of the tradition of the 12 tribes of the Chosen People. These came to be known as the apostles, the word meaning “those who are sent out.”  The 12 apostles would be sent out into the whole world to preach the Gospel of Christ. In fact, in the first Eucharistic prayer of the Mass, we speak of our holy Catholic faith that comes to us “from the apostles.”

At the time of Our Lord’s passion, His apostle Judas Iscariot, hungry for money, betrayed Jesus into the hands of His enemies for 30 pieces of silver.  Then, realizing what a terrible thing he had done, he despaired of the mercy of Jesus and went out and committed suicide.  That brought the group of the apostles down to 11.  So after Our Lord’s ascension into heaven, they considered it a duty to select another man who had been with them during the public life of Jesus to take the place of the traitor.  And they chose Saint Matthias whom we celebrate on May 14.

Let us always remember that the apostles were the first bishops of the Church, the apostle Saint Peter being the first pope.  Let us pray through the intercession of the apostles, and especially now of Saint Matthias for our American bishops who will be meeting next month in Dallas to deal with the terrible problem of child molestation among the clergy and the mishandling of this problem by some of the bishops themselves.  They need divine guidance in charting the course of the American church in the future and dealing with the victims and perpetrators of the crimes which have already been committed.  Please keep them in your prayers as the day of the meeting approaches.  It will certainly be one of the most important meetings of the American bishops in their entire history, and it deserves our prayers for God’s guidance and inspiration.

Saint Paul found a monument in the Areopagus to the Unknown God, even though the Greeks had dozens of gods and goddesses.  He used that as an opening for his preaching.  “This unknown God of yours,” he told his Greek hearers, “I want to introduce to you.”  And he spoke to them of the one God of Israel, and of His Divine Son who came into the world as a human being, lived, suffered, died, and rose for our redemption and salvation, and has now gone into eternal life to prepare a place for us.  And thus, amidst this Greek land of wisdom, study, and the love of philosophy, the most holy name of Jesus was proclaimed for the first time, bringing to perfection all other purely human knowledge.  A tremendously important moment in the history of humanity.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 11, 2018

Feast of Saint Francis Jerome (11 May 2018)

Now that the Solemnity of the Ascension has been transferred in most dioceses of the world from Thursday of this week to the following Sunday, we celebrate this weekend the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven and also Mothers’ Day which happens to coincide with it.

I’m sure that the apostles and disciples had mixed feelings as they stood on the Mount of Olives that Thursday in the springtime, 40 days after Our Lord’s Resurrection, listening to his final words, receiving his final blessing, and then watching as he slowly rose into the air and was eventually hidden from them by clouds which had formed over Jerusalem.  It was certainly a sign of God’s favor that their risen Master is now taken up into Heaven.  But, oh! how they were going to miss Him!  You don’t come to know and love Our Lord Jesus Christ without dreading to lose Him.  And their faith was not yet sufficiently strong to convince them that they were not really losing Him.  They had no idea what the Holy Spirit could and would do in their lives, helping them to know Christ even better and to feel his presence with them as they spread across the world to carry out the mandate of Jesus: Go, therefore, and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

We, the disciples of our Divine Lord who live 2000 years after His time, have never seen Him with our bodily eyes.  Nevertheless we believe, and thus fulfill His words: blessed are those who have NOT seen, and yet believe.

We celebrate his ascension into heaven each year and allow His words to bring us comfort and great encouragement: I go to prepare a place for you so that where I am, you also may be.  So on this weekend especially, we lift the eyes of our faith to heaven where the bodies of Jesus and Mary have been taken by the ascension and the assumption and we remember that THAT, not this earth, is our true home — the life for which we were created; the life which we really crave even without knowing it explicitly.  And as Saint Augustine says so beautifully in his Confessions: Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.  Only in heaven will we know the total rest, peace, and fulfillment for which we were created and which we want, even perhaps without realizing it, all during this life.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 10, 2018

Feast of Saint Antoninus (10 May 2018)

When Saint Paul arrived in Athens on one of his missionary journeys, we are told in the Acts of the Apostles that he preached in the marketplace of the Areopagus, the main gathering place of the Athenians just below the cliffs of the hill called the Acropolis in the center of Athens.  And two of the local people who heard him and became his converts were a man named Dionysius, which is usually Anglicized into Dennis, and a lady named Damaris.

When you visit the city of Athens, all of that ancient history comes to life. The Acropolis stands eternally above the city, and crowning it is the temple called the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, patroness of Athens and of the study of philosophy.  The temple is largely in ruins now, but may well have been the most perfect building ever erected. When Saint Paul was there, it stood in all its glory, having been built some 400 years earlier at the command of Pericles, ruler of Athens.  It is awesome to stand there looking at that splendid pile of ruins and knowing that Saint Paul and many other early Christians saw that same building and no doubt marveled at its architectural perfection and majesty.

And when you are atop the Acropolis, you can look down at what is left of the Areopagus, the rocky area at the foot of the Acropolis where Saint Paul preached to the Athenians and where Dennis and Damaris listened to his strange message of a man who was crucified in Jerusalem and then rose from the dead.  In the heart of downtown Athens, there is the Catholic Cathedral named in honor of Saint Dennis the Areopagite, who, tradition tells us, became the first bishop of Athens. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 8, 2018

Feast of Saint Peter of Tarantaise (8 May 2018)

On this date in 1945, President Harry Truman, who had been president for less than one month, announced the unconditional surrender of Germany, and thus the end of the war in Europe.  I was within one month of my high school graduation.

And in our Dominican calendar, we celebrate today the patronage of Our Blessed Mother over our Order. There is an old legend that one night, Saint Dominic dreamed that he was being shown around Heaven. He saw many people there, including the members of all the other religious orders, but none of his own. He began to weep, and Our Lady asked him why he was so sad. He explained to her that he didn’t see any of his preaching friars in heaven. Whereupon she opened the voluminous cloak that she was wearing, and there, gathered around her, were the early Dominicans, safely within her maternal protection. Be that as it may, we celebrate today the fact that the Mother of Our Lord is also Our Lady of the Rosary and the Queen of the Order of Preachers.

Think for a moment of the famous wedding feast at Cana in Galilee when the wine ran out. Our Lady, much afraid of the embarrassment to the young couple if it should become known that the refreshments had run out, said to Our Lord, “They have no wine.” She was not simply making an observation; she was asking him to do something about it. At first, he seemed reluctant to act, since the only way he could remedy the situation was by miracle. But his Mother, whose maternal heart couldn’t bear the thought of the young couple being embarrassed for the rest of their lives, in a sense forced the hand of her divine Son. She pointed him out to the waiters, and said to them, “Do whatever he tells you.”

These are the last times that Our Lady is quoted in the gospels. But what quotations! She speaks to Christ and says, “They have no wine.” And then she speaks to the waiters — and to us, by extension — and says, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Holy Mother of God, we beg you always to remind your Divine Son of our needs, and to enable us to carry out the will of Jesus, since his will is our sanctification and our salvation.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 7, 2018

Feast of Saint John of Beverly (7 May 2018)

When I was a child the Mass was still celebrated in Latin, and the altar boys were required to memorize their responses to the prayers of the celebrant.  After the initial sign of the cross, the celebrant said, “Introibo ad altare Dei.” (I will go to the altar of God.) And the response to that was, “Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.” (To the God who gives joy to my youth.)  The opening prayer for the Mass of Tuesday in this sixth week of the Easter season says this:  God our Father, may we look forward with hope to our resurrection for you have made us your sons and daughters and restored the joy of our youth.  The joy of our youth; this same idea recurs time and again in the liturgy and sacred scripture.

Have you ever watched young children at play?  They run and romp and jump and roll on the grass, and laugh.  Not a care in the world.  The joy of youth.

I thought of this idea yesterday when I had the funeral of a 95-year-old lady.  Since my mother died at the age of 99 and lived with an aunt who died at 101, I am very familiar with the difficulties of old age.  The body gradually loses one after another of its powers and faculties. Sight, hearing, agility, easy movement, continence, etc.  The aging person becomes a prisoner within the failing body, and the disabilities of the body weigh down the personality and the outlook of the individual. We might be very young at heart, but if we can’t see or hear or walk or remember, we are in an oppressive situation that can cause real suffering.

It’s when these things occur that we must remember: I will go to the altar of God, who gives joy to my youth.  When the 95-year-olds die in union with Our Lord, they close their eyes to the old age and the sufferings of this world and open them to the joy and youth of eternity.  So we are all getting older in time, but we are destined for the eternal youth of our eternal life.  Let us bear that in mind; it will help us put up with an aging body in this world as we await the joy of our eternal youth in heaven.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 4, 2018

Feast of Saint Florian (4 May 2018)

During the 1800 years of the Old Testament stretching from the time of Abraham to the time of Jesus, sacred history was dominated by the fact that there is only one God, and nothing was known about the fact that there are three Divine Persons in the one God.

Then, during Our Lord’s public life, He began to make it clear that He was also God, but not the Father.  This caused problems for his Jewish hearers, who assumed that Jesus was saying that there are two Gods.  In any case, the life of Jesus was the era of Father and Son.  Then, beginning at the end of his life on earth, Jesus began to speak to His disciples of yet another Divine Person whom he called the Spirit or the Advocate, which means a defender in a court of law.   We hear much about the Holy Spirit in the discourses of Jesus which Saint John puts on the lips of Jesus at the Last Supper. Our Lord probably spoke of the Spirit at other times as well, but for the sake of clear narration, Saint John gathers the words of Our Lord into a single time and place.

Now, as we are preparing to celebrate the ascension of Jesus into heaven and its aftermath, we read those words of Christ about the Spirit whom he will send.  So now, and especially at the feast of Pentecost, we enter into the third era of sacred history: the era of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Some years after Pentecost and the missionary preaching of Saint Paul, Paul’s companion Saint Luke put pen to paper and wrote a book which covered the life of Jesus and that of the early church after Pentecost.  Shortly thereafter, when the editors of the Bible began their work, they separated St. Luke’s book into two parts.  We call them the gospel according to Saint Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles.  Luke was unquestionably the evangelist who most emphasized the work of the Spirit within the life of Jesus and the Church. If you were to count the number of times that the Spirit is mentioned in Saint Luke’s gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, you would find how numerous these references are.

As we live through this time in the church year, let us reflect often upon how blessed we are to know that within our one God there are three Divine Persons, all of them loving us and doing their specific work for our sanctification and salvation. And let us make the sign of the cross with greater reverence as we bless ourselves in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 3, 2018

Feast of Saints Philip and James (3 May 2018)

During this week I made a quick trip to Houston to attend the Dominican gala there — a fund-raising dinner-dance for our province.  I look forward to this each year because it attracts many of the faithful members of Holy Rosary Parish there where I was stationed for 9 nine years and made many friends.

One of the people who came to the gala was Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, the bishop of Galveston/Houston who just recently completed a tour of duty as president of the National Council of Catholic Bishops.  That body comprises all the American bishops; they meet twice a year to discuss the work of the Church in this country.  They will be meeting in Dallas next month, and of course, the most important item on their agenda will be how to deal with the scandals besetting the Church in our country concerning the sexual abuse of children and young people by some Catholic priests in the past 30 years.  I said to Bishop Fiorenza, “Aren’t you glad you aren’t the president of the NCCB any more?”  He heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Yes!”  And I promised him our prayers for the success of their deliberations in June.

I would ask you very earnestly to pray daily to the Holy Spirit from now until the bishops’ meeting next month, asking for divine guidance upon them.  It is as complicated a problem as it is tragic.  All sorts of individual cases are covered by the umbrella notion of child abuse.  In some cases, a single act of predation by one priest; in other cases, many criminal acts over a period of years.  In some cases, repeated interventions and attempts at therapy, with the therapists declaring that the individual offender was no longer a danger to any child, only to have him repeat his offenses.  In other cases, dealing with the problem only by religious superiors attempting to prevent repetition of the offenses and protecting the identity of both victim and offender.  And always, the best way to distinguish between genuine complaints based upon actual facts and deceptive attempts to extort money from a given diocese or religious order.

So please, pray that God can inspire our bishops as well as everyone else concerned to put this awful chapter of church history in our country behind us and restore respect and confidence in the priesthood, over 99% of whose members are suffering right now because of the terrible publicity brought upon our brotherhood by the sex offenders.   The problems touches all of us, therefore all of us need to solve it by our prayers, which are the most powerful and effective means we have to combat evil and bring about good.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 2, 2018

Feast of Saint Athanasius (2 May 2018)

In his first letter to Timothy, which is part of God’s inspired word in Sacred Scripture, Saint Paul has this to say about women’s attire in church:  I direct that women are to wear suitable clothes and to be dressed quietly and modestly . . . their adornment is to do the sort of good works that are proper for women who profess to be religious.

A few days ago, one of the ladies in our parish who is an extraordinary minster of the Eucharist at our weekend Masses was complaining to me about the immodesty of some young women who approach her to receive Holy Communion at Mass. As always, the young want to follow the latest trends, and one of them is that of the bare midriff, caused by the low-slung pants and the short blouses that leave the midriff naked.  This manner of dress is totally unsuitable in Church, especially during the holy sacrifice of the Mass, and even more especially when receiving Our Divine Lord in Holy Communion.  If and when someone approaches me with a bare belly to receive the Eucharist, I will refuse to give it to him or her.

I believe that the Church is guilty of causing her own problems in these areas.  We have all seen with horror the results of permissiveness in matters of the sexual molestation of minors by priests, who have then been transferred to other posts where they continued their sins and crimes. Please God, the recent meetings of the American Cardinals and some bishops with the Holy Father in Rome will put a stop to that, and the Church will have learned a lesson, albeit a very bitter and costly one.

Now, when will the Church learn that you don’t allow young people to dress as they please when attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion?  As the ongoing sex revolution brings us more and more immodesty and nudity, where will it end?  I have heard more than one priest say, “Well, at least they’re coming to Mass.  If we object to how they dress, they might not come at all.”  I find that an extremely poor argument, one that is self-defeating.  Imagine how professional people would dress if allowed to — how some of our doctors, lawyers, policemen, firemen, would appear.  We have already seen how many of our religious orders are becoming extinct, and one of the reasons for this is their abandoning their religious habits for secular dress.  If a young woman refuses to attend Mass unless she can come with her belly showing, then let her stay away.  Must we sacrifice modesty, decency, and respect in our churches for the disgusting fads of the day? Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

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