Posted by: fvbcdm | September 19, 2019

Feast of Saint Januarius (19 September 2019)

Back in the days of the Roman persecutions of the early Church, the bishop of Naples was a man named Januarius, or, as they say in modern Italian, Gennaro. After his death by martyrdom, a vial of his blood was saved by the devout Catholics of that area, along with his head. Now, each year on this date—September 19, the anniversary of his death—the reliquaries containing his head and his blood are brought close together in a special ceremony in the cathedral of Naples. The blood, which is ordinarily a solid mass of very dark red coagulated blood, turns a bright red, liquefies, and becomes frothy like fresh blood. The Neapolitans take this as a sign that the nearby volcano, Vesuvius, will not inflict any harm upon them either by eruption or earthquake in the near future.

My vacation begins tomorrow, and will bring me, according to our travel plans, to the area around Naples. I hope that San Gennaro’s blood liquefied today and that Vesuvius will behave itself while we are there. I look forward to visiting the basilica of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in the modern town of Pompeii. The ancient Pompeii was totally engulfed by lava and ash during the eruption of the year 79 A.D. But a modern town has grown up next to the excavated ruins, with a special shrine to Our Lady of the Rosary. In this city there is a tremendous and very impressive sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary, brought into being primarily through the efforts of Blessed Bartolo Longo. Most of us know little or nothing about him, but he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980, when the Holy Father called him “the man of the Rosary.” Bartolo Longo was a successful lawyer chosen by Our Lady to propagate devotion to her and her Rosary. He was raised by devout Catholic parents in the Naples area, but in the years of his young manhood, he fell victim to the rationalism and liberalism of the mid-19th century. He went so far as to become a member of a satanic cult, and even serve as a priest of that occult religion, opposed to Our Lord Jesus Christ. However, divine grace called him back to his Catholic faith, and he began to receive the Sacraments again, became a member of the Dominican Laity, and devoted himself to the propagation of the Rosary in reparation for his sins of apostasy, paganism, and even satanism.

The result of his remarkable conversion stands in the city of the new Pompeii today: a beautiful basilica enshrining his body and the Rosary sanctuary—the greatest in the world. Beside the ruins of the pagan city of old Pompeii, totally destroyed by Vesuvius’s eruption in the year 79 A.D., there has risen the new Pompeii principally because of Blessed Bartolo’s choice of that place as the locale of his shrine.

If you would like more information about this new blessed of ours and the great shrine that he brought into being, I suggest that you look in the internet under “Blessed Bartolo Longo.” You will find much useful information there.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. 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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Posted by: fvbcdm | September 16, 2019

Feast of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian (16 Sept 2019)

At the end of May, 1954, I was leaving Moffatt Field Naval Air Station south of San Francisco to go to the Naval Station on Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay to be discharged from the navy. It was a bittersweet time for me, because I was happy to be getting out of the military so that I could enter religious life, but it also meant leaving San Francisco, a city that I had totally fallen in love with and deeply hated to leave.  And during that time—on May 29, to be exact—Pope Pius XII canonized Saint Pius X, the Pope who had died in 1914, just at the outbreak of World War I.

Saint Pius X was one of the gentlest, humblest, most lovable of all our Popes. The son of a mailman, he was a simple man but a man of great courage who had to deal with many problems facing the Church during his pontificate. To those who agreed with him, he was the champion who pitted himself against what is called modernism; to those who disagreed with him, he was the witch-hunter who moved the Church backward into the Middle Ages. But he proved to be right. The whole gamut of mistakes that goes by the name of “modernism” includes the idea that the Bible is not to be taken either literally or seriously; that the Church can and does make many mistakes that have to be corrected in time; that morality changes with the cultural life of the world, etc. He denounced and condemned many of these propositions, and pointed out their dangers. Unfortunately, they surfaced again at the time of Vatican II, and we must deal with them all over.

The liberal mentality will always push for change, for novelty, for a criticism of the past and tradition in favor of a free-wheeling sort of mentality that permits just about anything. The old Cole Porter song “Anything Goes” is a fair statement of modernism. One day, shortly after Vatican II, a lady approached me and asked if divorce and remarriage is now permitted in the Church. I told her “No! Of course not.” And she said, “Well, everything else has changed; I thought that would have changed, too.” Of course, everything had NOT changed, nor will it. We still have the “modernists” with us who are in favor of doing away with the entire moral law so that they can divorce and remarry, or simply live together without marrying at all; they want unrestricted intercommunion with other churches, regardless of their faith; they want contraception and abortion and homosexual behavior; they want a married clergy and female priests and bishops. In religious life, we find many who want to be called religious (priests, sisters, and brothers) but who also want to live like laypeople.  And they deny that their secularistic lifestyles have anything to do with why very few, if any, young people want to join their communities.

Saint Pius X was battling these notions in 1907, and we are still battling them today. At the other end of the spectrum, we find a schismatic group of Catholic bishops and priests who call themselves “the priestly society of Saint Pius X” and who use his desire for a dignified and worthy liturgy as a pretext for refusing to celebrate Mass and the sacraments according to the prescriptions of later popes.

But moving ahead between the extreme right and the extreme left, the example of Saint Pius X leads us into this 21st century of ours, devoted to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to his vicars on earth, the Popes he gives us as our shepherds and leaders. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. 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 | September 15, 2019

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14 Sept 2019)

One of the most precious gems in all the gospels is our Lord’s story which is usually called “The Prodigal Son.” Actually, it’s the story of two sons and their relationship with their father and with one another. We all know the story: the younger boy asks his father for his share in the family inheritance. That was not ordinarily done until the father died, but here the kind father gives the boy what he wants, and the boy goes off to enjoy his money. And, as the saying goes, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Pretty soon, he has nothing left, and a famine occurs in the land where he is living. He goes to work on a farm where he is given a job feeding pigs—a terrible disgrace for a Jew who considered pigs unclean animals. And even worse, he is given little or nothing to eat, so that he envies the pigs the swill he pours into their troughs. Our Lord REALLY knows how to paint a picture of the degradation of sin!

So the young man realizes that even the hired hands on his father’s farm live better than he is, so he goes home. While he was still a long way off, the father catches sight of him. Why? Obviously, because he had been looking for him, hoping that he would come home. When the hungry, dirty, bedraggled young man comes closer, he begins his carefully-prepared speech: “Father, I am not worthy to be called your son. But will you let me work on the estate with the hired hands?” While the boy is giving his little talk, the father is issuing orders: kill the fatted calf; bring a ring for his finger, shoes for his bare and sore feet; get musicians; invite our friends; we must have a party to celebrate my son’s return!

And now the action switches to the other son who is coming in from the fields and finds a party in progress in his home. He knew nothing about this. When he finds out what’s going on, he is furious and refuses to go into the house to celebrate the return of this good-for-nothing wastrel. The father comes outside to beg him to come in. But he will not. He won’t call the returnee “my brother,” but rather “this son of yours,” contemptuously. The story ends with the foolish prodigal inside, the center of attention and celebration and delight, and the older, faithful brother outside in the cold and the dark because he won’t forgive his younger brother.

Where are you in this story? Do you see yourself as a sinner, who asks God’s pardon frequently for your wanderings away from the life of love in our Father’s house? Or do you see yourself as one who has always been faithful and virtuous, and is not inclined to forgive sinners or to celebrate their repentance and their return to our Father’s house? Thank you for seeking God’s truth. 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 | September 12, 2019

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary (12 Sept 2019)

If you read or listen to this daily message with some regularity, you will be aware that I see a connection between the Mother of Our Lord and Islam, since when she appeared to the three children in 1917, she did so in the village of Fatima in Portugal, knowing, of course, that she would come to be called “Our Lady of Fatima” throughout the Catholic world. And Fatima was one of the daughters of Mohammed, the founder of Islam.

Today is September 12th, the anniversary of a victory of Catholic forces over the army of Islam which was trying to capture the city of Vienna in Austria. Shortly after the foundation of Islam by Mohammed in the 7th century, the armies of Islam swept across all of North Africa, crossed the strait of Gibraltar, swarmed over Spain and Portugal, then over the Pyrenees into France. There they were defeated by the Christians of western Europe at the Battle of Poitiers and pushed back across the Pyrenees.  For the next seven centuries, the Christians of Spain and Portugal slowly pushed the Muslims farther and farther south, until in January of the year 1492, the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella accepted the surrender of the city of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold in the Iberian Peninsula. But many of the Moorish names remained in Spain and Portugal, including that of Fatima. Thus the Mother of Our Lord has a Muslim title among the many titles by which we honor her.

Since the Muslims had failed to conquer Europe by land in the west, they tried to do so by sea in the east. That led to the great sea battle of Lepanto, a town on the coast of Greece. Again they were defeated, and because the Pope, our Dominican Saint Pius V, had asked for prayers to Our Lady of the Rosary for a victory over the would-be invaders, we have the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, on October 7th, the anniversary of the battle of Lepanto.

Continuing in this wonderful history of the relationship between Mary our Mother and Mohammed, we come to the year 1683. This time the Moslems were trying to overrun Europe from the east, and had reached the gates of the Austrian capital of Vienna. There, on September 12, the Muslims were again defeated just four days after the feast of the Birth of Our Lady. The Pope, Innocent XI, established the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, since he believed that it was in the power of her holy name that this latest victory over the persistent Muslims had been won.

Since then, the history of our liturgy has reduced the celebration of the Holy Name of Mary from a feast to an optional commemoration, but still a beautiful one. In the gospel according to Saint Luke, we are told that the Archangel Gabriel was sent to a young virgin of Nazareth, and the virgin’s name was Mary.  By that fact, the name of Mary has become the most highly venerated of all women’s names, and the prayer which we call “the Hail Mary” will always be the most frequently used salutation in Christianity addressed to the Mother of our Lord. This morning in our community Mass, we used the Mass of the Holy Name of Mary. Today I send you a special blessing in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and in the name also of his most holy Mother.  May you live in the Name of Mary; invoke that name upon yourselves and all those you love, and upon this nation of ours of which the principal patron saint is Our Lady under the title of her Immaculate Conception. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. 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 | August 28, 2019

Feast of Saint Augustine (28 August 2019)

Yesterday we spoke of Saint Monica, and today we celebrate her son, Saint Augustine. He’s a tremendously important figure in Church history. To understand his great position in Christian history, let try to divide the story into segments.

First, we had Our Divine Lord and his apostles. They lived in the first century of Christian history. The Church was born and began to spread at that first Pentecost just after Our Lord ascended into heaven. The Roman Empire began to persecute the Church, and continued doing so until the Emperor Constantine in the year 313 allowed it to exist and operate openly. Then there was a great flowering of the intellectual and spiritual life of the Church with the fathers and doctors of the Church. People like Saints Augustine, Ambrose, Gregory the Great and Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin for the sake of the Latin-speaking empire. In the Greek-speaking east, the Church produced men like Saint Basil, John Chrysostom, and Athanasius.  Of these, the greatest was Saint Augustine.

Gifted with a brilliant mind, and moved by God’s grace, thanks no doubt to the prayers of his mother, Saint Monica, the 40-year-old ex-playboy—now a priest and bishop—turned his fine mind to Christian revelation as he found it in the Scriptures and the teachings of the earlier Church. He had “first crack” at all of this wealth of doctrine, so to speak. He wrote copiously, and immensely enriched the Church by his explanations and commentaries on Scripture and the Tradition of the Church. You can find his “Confessions” and “The City of God”—two very famous books of his—in most of the libraries of the world and all Catholic seminaries and universities.  And in the Liturgy of the Hours, we read constantly from his other works by which he sheds light upon the Bible and the teachings of the Church. He died nearly 1600 years ago, but is still very true, very relevant, very helpful.

Our Divine Lord tells us in the gospel: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Saint Augustine helps us to follow that way, understand that truth, and live in accordance with that 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 | August 27, 2019

Feast of Saint Monica (27 August 2019)

On August 25, we celebrated the commemoration of Saint Louis, the King of France, whose mother was such a devout and wise Catholic and to whom he attributed his knowledge of God and the things of God. On August 27, we celebrate a saint who was another devout and wise mother who prayed for years for the conversion of her playboy son. Her name is Monica. She may well have been discouraged from time to time over the fact that her prayers did not seem to be having any effect upon her son, Augustine. But she persevered because of her great love for this wayward son of hers and her concern for his eternal salvation. Does that sound familiar? How many parents, especially in recent years and in the present time, have prayed for the spiritual well-being of their children, especially those who have gone astray; those who have alienated themselves from the Church, the Sacraments, the moral law; those who are addicted to liquor or drugs; those who are involved in lives of sexual sins, cohabitation, children born out of wedlock, AIDS, and all the sad and ugly effects that the abuse of human sexuality brings in its wake.

Saint Monica can be a special intercessor and model for these parents who know how much good their children could be accomplishing, how many gifts God has given them, and yet must stand by and see those gifts and potentialities being wasted and abused, and see their children seeking happiness where it can’t be found, which is one of the definitions of sin.

When at last her prayers were granted, Saint Monica saw her son become a very devout and committed Catholic. She died happily, telling Augustine that her work was over now that she had given him natural life and seen God give him supernatural life as well. What she did not see on earth, but surely in heaven, was the fact that Augustine became a priest, a bishop, the founder of a religious order, and the greatest Christian theologian in the first thousand years of Catholicism.

Whether we are the parents of children in their formative years or not, we can certainly assist those who are by praying for them and their children, especially through the intercession of saints like Monica and Augustine and Louis and his mother Blanche who understood so clearly the importance of good religious education and formation of the young. 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 | August 14, 2019

Feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe (14 August 2019)

Today we celebrate Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a man who was born in the same year as my mother and who died as a martyr of charity as I was preparing to enter high school.  I feel especially close to him, too, because I have knelt at the door of the starvation bunker in which he died and laid my rosary on its floor. Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan priest who was remarkably gifted in journalism, and started a number of publications concerning Catholic devotion to the Mother of Jesus.  He did that both in his native Poland and in Japan, where he was sent as a missionary. When he returned to Poland, the Nazis had overrun the country and he was forbidden to engage in religious journalism.  He ignored the prohibition and continued his work.  He was arrested and sent to the infamous Nazi death camp of Auschwitz.  There was a policy there, that if any prisoner escaped, ten others, chosen at random, would be killed in reprisal. One man did escape, and so ten others were herded into a starvation bunker in the basement of one of the barracks. As this was happening, one of the men chosen to die pleaded with the guards to spare him, since he had a wife and children at home and he hoped to go back to them.  They were totally merciless and went on with their work of getting the ten men into a very small subterranean cell where they were to be locked without food and drink until they died. Saint Maximilian Kolbe heard the man pleading for his life, and asked permission to substitute himself for the condemned married man. Permission was given since the Nazis had a special hatred for priests, and so Maximilian Kolbe joined the other nine in the starvation bunker.  After about two weeks in the cold, dark, death chamber, the guards found all the men dead except the priest who still clung to life.  To hasten his death, they injected carbolic acid into his veins and so he died in agony as the burning acid made its way through his emaciated body.

One unforgettable day, my travel group and I were in Poland and we visited three spots in one day: the great Polish shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the town of Wadowice, where Pope John Paul II was born and raised, and then the infamous extermination camp of Auschwitz.  It was like going from heaven to hell in one day.

In the starvation bunker where Kolbe died, Pope John Paul II had left a Paschal candle in memory of the saint’s beautiful life and death, and of the pope’s visit there.  Last week we celebrated Saint Edith Stein, the Carmelite nun who died almost exactly one year later in Auschwitz and has also been canonized.  So that place of death and horror has become, by God’s grace, a place of heroism and a shrine to those who laid down their lives for Our Lord Jesus Christ.  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 | August 13, 2019

Feast of Saints Pontian and Hippolytus (13 August 2019)

This morning, in our community morning prayer, one of our priests prayed for the safety of those who will be traveling during this holiday time, especially the college students going home for the Thanksgiving weekend.  Going home is a familiar and rich concept, especially if you can remember your own childhood or if you have raised children yourself.  When little ones are out somewhere with their parents, they eventually get tired, sleepy, and uncomfortable.  Then comes the inevitable, “I wanna go home!” And when in the family car after a long ride, one of the kids usually asks, “Are we there yet?” The English Cardinal Manning was asked by his servants on his deathbed how he felt.  He smiled weakly and said, “I feel like a schoolboy going home for the holidays.”

We are all on our way home.  Our Lord tells us in the Gospel that, in His Heavenly Father’s house, there are many rooms and that in the dining room of that Heavenly Palace a great banquet awaits us.  So, this Thanksgiving, when you are a part of a special gathering of family, relatives, and friends, when you are enjoying a special meal—turkey and the trimmings or whatever you will have—remember that that event foreshadows our return to our Father’s house in Heaven.  I say “return” not because we have already been there but because we live in this world in the company of Jesus—the son of our Heavenly Father, the one who makes it possible for us to aspire to an eternity of joy in that great home to which we have all been destined.  He came to our home on earth.  He took upon himself our human condition, so that he could bring us to His Home in Heaven.

We have been made in the image and likeness of God, and we hope to live with God forever.  This Christian virtue of hope is itself a great gift for which we should be constantly thankful.  The first observance of Thanksgiving in our country was by a group of English settlers that we call Pilgrims, coming to our shores, as they did, to worship God as they saw fit.  We are pilgrims too, on our way to Heaven to worship God always.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Posted by: fvbcdm | August 8, 2019

Feast of Saint Dominic (8 August 2019)

Rejoice with us! Today is the feast of our holy father Saint Dominic, and so I send you special greetings as the Dominican family throughout the world celebrates our patronal feastday.

Saint Dominic conceived the idea of an Order of Preachers when he encountered the errors of the Albigensian heresy in southern France. To those who love Christ, who is truth, error is the enemy.  And those who have been seduced by error are the object of their concern, their prayer, their apostolate. And the principal weapon to be used against error is truth. And we learn truth through proper education. That is why Saint Dominic did what no other religious founder had done before his time: he sent his followers to the best schools that existed in those days. Bologna, Padua, Cologne, Paris, Salamanca, and Oxford were the principal universities of Europe, and all of them taught Catholic theology along with all their other subjects. So from the beginning, there was a connection between Dominicans and study.

Let us bring these considerations down to our present time. In the eight centuries since Saint Dominic’s time, education has branched off into secular schools and religious ones. And our Catholic educational system has been the pride and joy of the Church for years. However, in the past half-century, many so-called Catholic colleges and universities in this country have given up their Catholic identity and are, in fact, no more Catholic than their secular counterparts.  In 1990, Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic constitution called “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” meaning “From the Heart of the Church,” having to do with the duties and responsibilities of real Catholic schools throughout the world.  If they do not teach authentic Catholic doctrine and morality, then they are failing of their purpose and cheating the parents of those young people who are going to those schools presumably to learn Catholic truth.

Some Catholic schools have proven their loyalty to the Holy See by implementing that apostolic constitution; others have not. Many schools in this country which have been Catholic schools since their beginnings are Catholic in name only.  A young man whom I know attended Loyola University in New Orleans where he was taught Zen Buddhism by a Jesuit priest who had embraced Buddhism, but insisted that you can be a Catholic and a Buddhist at the same time.  That priest is now dead, after having left religious life and priesthood and gotten married. That young man left the Church and was practicing Buddhism for a time. I think that he has given that up, but has not returned to the practice of Catholicism, and is probably drifting in a state of religious and spiritual confusion. This is the kind of horror story that we hear all too often in today’s world. Just a few years ago, the pastor of one of the largest Catholic parishes in Houston warned his parishioners from the pulpit about the kind of education being dished up by a high school owned and operated by the Dominican Sisters of Houston. He suggested that if they really wanted their daughters to get solid Catholic teaching, they send them elsewhere.  How very sad!

I speak of these things because we need to be aware of the dangers of the world in which we are living. We must do what we can to combat error wherever we find it, including in “Catholic” schools. We might well pray today through the intercession of Saint Dominic that our “Catholic” schools will return to the truths of the Church and take seriously their responsibilities and obligations to proclaim the gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is their only reason for existence in the first place. 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

Catholic Daily Message for Feast of Dedication of Saint Mary Major (5 August 2019)

One of the four major basilicas in Rome that Catholic pilgrims visit is Saint Mary Major, as it’s called. That means “Saint Mary the Greater,” since it is greater than any other church in the world dedicated to Our Blessed Mother.

There is an old tradition that a miraculous snowfall on August 5 — the height of Rome’s stifling summer — outlined the floor plan of the basilica on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. Pope Liberius dreamed that there would be that snowfall and was instructed to build the church, and the wealthy man who owned the property gave it to the pope for he had had the same dream. As a result, for many centuries this day was called “Our Lady of the Snows.” The church is very beautiful and full of history as well as devotion. It possesses what are claimed to be pieces of the manger in which Our Lady laid her divine son in the stable at Bethlehem. Its art work is exquisite, and its ceiling features some gold leaf, made from the first gold from the new world sent by Columbus back to the Spanish rulers, Ferdinand and Isabella, who in turn gave it to the pope at that time. He had it beaten into foil and applied to the ceiling of St. Mary Major in honor of the mother of God.  Our own Dominican saint, Pope Pius V, was very devoted to Our Lady, and chose to be buried in that church rather than in the Vatican, and so his tomb is to be found in one of Saint Mary Major’s side chapels.  Pope Pius XII was also very devoted to the Mother of God and to that church, and chose to celebrate his first Mass there.

The other three of the four major basilicas of Rome are Saint John Lateran, the cathedral of the archdiocese of Rome; Saint Peter in the Vatican, which is the largest and best-known church in the world, and Saint Paul-outside-the-Walls as it’s called, standing on the spot where Saint Paul was martyred on the road from Rome down the Tiber on the way to the sea.  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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