Posted by: fvbcdm | January 16, 2018

Feast of Saint Marcellus (16 Jan 2018)

For the past several days, we have been reading at Mass the story of the prophet Samuel. When he is a little boy, living in the Tabernacle of the Lord with the elderly priest Eli, he is called during the night. He gets up and goes to Eli and says, “Here I am; you called me.”  “I didn’t call you,” replies Eli, “go back to bed.” This happens three times, so Eli concludes that it is God who is calling the boy, and he instructs him: “if you are called again, you are to reply, ‘Speak Lord. Your servant is listening.’” That is one of the most beautiful prayers that we find in Sacred Scripture, one that we can use everyday, whenever anything happens to us.  Especially, we can say it as we approach the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Holy Communion, or the reading of Scripture or other good spiritual books. “Speak Lord.  Your servant of listening.” It is such an appropriate prayer because it is humble, trusting in God, and willing to do God’s will. It belongs to God to speak; it belongs to us to listen. When we speak, we make noise. When God speaks, reality comes into being. God has spoken you and me. Above all, the Father speaks His Divine Son, the perfect image of the Father. That’s why Saint John the Evangelist constantly calls Jesus “the Word.” “The Word was made flesh,” he tells us, and dwelt among us.”

If we were to go through Sacred Scripture carefully and take all the passages that have to do with speaking, listening, and Word, we would have a wonderful treasure for meditation and prayer. The little boy Samuel eventually grew up to be one of Israel’s greatest prophets. It was he who anointed David as the future king of Israel. And when David died and his son Solomon became king in his place, God told him to ask for something that would help him in his kingship. Solomon gave it a lot of thought, and asked for “a heart that listens” so that he could listen to his people and govern them wisely and well. God was pleased with Solomon’s prayer, and made him so wise that the wisdom of Solomon has become proverbial throughout the world.

As we pray for priestly and religious vocations, what better can we teach our children to say, even at an early age, than, “Speak, Lord.  Your servant is listening.” 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.

Advertisements
Posted by: fvbcdm | January 11, 2018

Feast of Saint Paulinus (11 Jan 2018)

A week or so ago, a columnist by the name of Crispin Sartwell evidently wrote an article that appeared in our local newspaper.  In it, he apparently criticizes religion and religious people.  I did not read it, but it provoked two letters to the editor that I find interesting.  The first letter said that Sartwell’s column was breathtaking in its vacuousness and went on to say that Sartwell had the gift of insulting the maximum number of people in the minimum amount of space.  The other letter took the opposite position. The writer said this: “His words on the senselessness of religious belief reflect my own thinking for most of my life, especially since September 11.”  The writer’s name is Connie, so I suppose that the writer is a woman.  She goes on to say, “I have long thought that if intelligent human beings would think rationally and study the world around them, they would see the idiocy of all religious doctrines and therefore see the danger that religions perpetrate on world society.”  How is that for sweeping denunciations of the intelligence of the whole human species—the great majority of whom have been and will be, no doubt, religious until the end of time?  Connie goes on to say, “If there ever was a creator, it has long since ignored its creation.  Humans alone are responsible for the preservation and perpetuation of life on this planet.”

I wonder if Connie is a mother, and therefore, at some time in the past has formed a baby in her womb or if she has ever reflected on those women who do so.  It would be interesting to ask Connie how she formed the human brain, the human eyes, the human respiratory and digestive systems, within her uterus.  Even the world’s greatest scientists cannot produce a human brain in their laboratories, with all of their technical expertise, and yet, every day, millions of women who know nothing about biology or anatomy do exactly that within the confines of their own bodies.  Since these mothers are not the designers of these miracles of life and anatomy and human function, then who is?

Connie knows perfectly well that the electrical appliances in her home had to be designed, carefully planned, and painstakingly produced by very clever people in those fields, and yet she states that humans alone—who know nothing about biophysics and chemistry—are responsible for the preservation and perpetuation of life on this planet.  She claims that if we would think rationally and study the world around us, we would see the idiocy of all religious doctrines.  I would like to suggest to Connie that, as she accuses the vast majority of the human race of idiocy, she remember the old adage that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.  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 | January 10, 2018

Feast of Saint William of Bourges (10 Jan 2018)

We often hear the expression, “junk food.”  I can well imagine that many parents are frustrated by the fact that their children refuse to eat wholesome, nutritious meals, prepared with great care, and prefer junk food instead.  Well, in my work, we also have “junk food”—of the soul and of the mind.  We priests and other religious leaders often are frustrated when those we are trying to help turn from solid nourishment to this spiritual and intellectual trash.

Two recent events inspire me to talk about this.  In one case, a young couple that I know became quite upset when they found out that a middle-aged woman from a Latin American country whom they had hired to be a nanny for their two small children, had been practicing voodoo in their home, even to the point of pouring molten wax in certain patterns on the carpets near their children’s beds.  One of our priests here in the parish used to serve in Miami, where he frequently came into contact with the “Santaria” of the Cuban refugees who live there.  Santaria is a mixture of superstitious folk Catholicism with the paganism of voodoo and witchcraft.  It appeals to some of the uneducated people in the Caribbean region, whose religious life is a sad attempt to fill their spiritual needs with devotion to a number of our Christian and Catholic Saints as well as a whole bunch of gods and devils originating in their ignorance.  Very often devil-worship gets into the picture, and some really evil things result.

Even more distressing is the case of a friend of mine, who told me recently about his young son who has become all excited about somebody on television who claims to be able to establish contact with the dead and put living people into communication with their dead relatives and friends.  Here, we are not talking about ignorant natives of foreign lands but young people from middle-class New Orleans, who have been educated in Catholic schools and now are dabbling in necromancy—the attempt to communicate with the dead by means of magical practices.  When you consider the enormous amount of beautiful spiritual literature produced down through the centuries, the lives of the Saints, the opportunities for prayer, participation in the Mass, Perpetual Adoration, retreats and the like, it is very tragic that people, even in our own social, economic, or educational categories, are exposing their minds, hearts, and souls to this kind of junk food that is not only a waste of time but can be really dangerous to one’s spiritual, emotional, and intellectual 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 | January 9, 2018

Feast of Saint Adrian of Canterbury (9 Jan 2018)

Right now, I would like to ask you about your reaction to the Christmas Season this year.  Last month we began the Holy Season of Advent that prepared us for the great festival of our Lord’s birth into our world.  Then we had Christmas itself, when we focused our attention upon the Baby lying in the manger in Bethlehem.  Then the feast of our Lady, who becomes the Mother of God, for she is truly the Mother of Jesus—who is both God and Man.  Then the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—the model for Jewish and Christian families all over the world.  Then the coming of the Magi—the first Gentiles to pay homage to the Infant Christ.  And now the Baptism of Jesus, at which time the voice of God the Father was heard over the waters of the River Jordan saying, “This is My Beloved Son with Whom I am well pleased.”

I’d like to ask you to ask yourselves, right now: “Has my observance of the Holy Seasons of Advent and Christmas added to my devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ?”  “Do I grasp my faith any more deeply?”  “Am I more grateful to Christ our Lord for having come into our world, our human history, our human family?” “Do the immortal words of Saint John mean more to me—‘The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us’?”  These things should happen.  Our faith, our devotion to the three Divine Persons of the Holy Trinity should grow with the passage of time.  Our life of prayer and adoration of God through the Sacred Liturgy of the Church should develop, progress, and flourish.  We now begin the Ordinary Time of the Church Calendar.  God Grant that it will be richer, more loving, more devout than it has ever been in the past.  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 | January 8, 2018

Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord (8 Jan 2018)

January 8th is a special day in the history of New Orleans, both secular and sacred. In our secular history, it is the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans between a bunch of backwoodsmen, pirates, the local militia, and other men who simply wanted to help defend this part of the country from the British, and an army of crack British troops sent to take possession of New Orleans and the lower Mississippi Valley, as the War of 1812 was winding down.

The battle was an overwhelming victory by the Americans who lost very few men (some history books say as few as seven), whereas the British lost some 2000. When General Andrew Jackson found out that the Ursuline nuns of New Orleans and a group of women who had gathered with them in their chapel, had prayed all through the night before the battle, he came to the convent to thank the Sisters and their companions for their prayers. They had prayed especially to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, a statue of whom the Sisters had brought from France earlier. The Mother Superior of the convent promised that, if the Americans triumphed over the British in the battle, the nuns would have a Mass celebrated every year in perpetuity on the anniversary of the battle. Thus it is that each January 8, a Mass is celebrated in the Ursuline convent chapel, before that same venerable statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, who has been officially designated by the Church to be the patroness of New Orleans and of the State of Louisiana.

It is nice to know how closely the sacred and the secular are intertwined in the history of this city, and that we are doubly blessed by the Mother of Jesus. Under her title of the Immaculate Conception, she is patroness of our entire nation. Under her title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, she is loved as patroness of New Orleans and Louisiana. 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 | January 5, 2018

Feast of Saint John Neumann (5 Jan 2018)

This morning, I laughed as I had my breakfast and read the newspaper.  Our local paper—the Times-Picayune printed a very nice editorial column, welcoming the new Archbishop who has now taken over the shepherding of our archdiocese by order of the Holy See.  Unfortunately the editorial column called him Albert Hughes, not once but twice.  His first name is Alfred, not Albert.  It tickled me because, we all make mistakes, but, ordinarily, our mistakes are not there in print for hundreds of thousands of people to see.  In any case, we are happy to welcome Archbishop Hughes.  At every Mass, the celebrant prays for our Pope and the bishop of the place where the Mass is being celebrated, underlying our communion with these two men who are our spiritual leaders, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

For the past six years, since my arrival in New Orleans on this assignment, I have prayed at every Mass for John Paul our Pope and Francis our Bishop.  Now, it will be Alfred our Bishop, and those of us who know anything about history realize just what a tremendous gift we have in our communion with the Pope and the local Bishop.  The Church enjoys the mark of Apostolicity, that is, authority given to it by our Divine Lord, which comes down to us, in an unbroken line, from the Original Twelve Apostles.  History has shown, very sadly, what happens when religious groups renounce their communion with the Pope, who is Bishop of Rome and the local Catholic Bishop and go wandering off into the twists and turns of their own theologies and moralities.

Christ is our Good Shepherd.  He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and He gave full power to Saint Peter, His First Pope, who passed it on to every Pope down to John Paul II, as will be done until the end of time.  So, here in this corner of the world, we welcome Archbishop Alfred Hughes as the official representative of Jesus in our Archdiocese, and we adore our Lord as our Divine and Supreme Shepherd, Who alone opens eternal life for us.  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 | January 4, 2018

Feast of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (4 Jan 2018)

Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, who was born in New York City in 1774 and became an American citizen at the age of two, when our nation came into existence with the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  She and her family were Episcopalians who regularly attended church at the Trinity Episcopal Church, at the end of the famous Wall Street—the center of finance in New York.  As a young woman, she attended the inauguration ball of President George Washington.  She and her husband went to Italy for reasons of his health.  There, they came to know an Italian family whose deep Catholic faith lead Elizabeth into the Church.  Shortly thereafter, her husband died, and she was able to raise her five children and still devote herself to the service of God by opening what we would now call a Catholic School.  Thus, she is revered as the founder of Catholic education in the United States.

She founded the Sisters of Charity, a Congregation which subsequently merged with the Daughters of Charity, founded years earlier in France by Saint Vincent De Paul and Saint Louise De Marillac.  She was canonized in 1975.  Her tomb is in the Convent of the Daughters of Charity at Emmitsburg, Maryland—the site of her first school.  It is located in the historic heart of our country, just about two hours away from Washington, DC, and about 20 miles from the famous battleground and cemetery of Gettysburg, the site of one of the greatest battles of the Civil War.

There is, unfortunately, another person who has had great influence upon American education—the educator John Dewey, the man who spawned the so-called Progressive Education Movement in our country.  It was a failure educationally and has been a total disaster in terms of the moral psychology of our young people.  Basically, Progressive Education teaches that children are fundamentally good and that, if left to their own inclinations, they will learn what they are interested in, and therefore, they should be allowed to be their own school principals, teachers, and teacher’s aids.  This tragic error also made its way into our Catholic school system in the chaotic days of the sixties and seventies.  The result is that we have nearly two generations of young people who know little or nothing about the essentials of their faith and have no regard for moral principles, norms, and commandments.  Truth is what they think it is.  Good and evil are whatever they want them to be.  Let us pray through the intercession of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton for the end of the errors of John Dewey in our educational world and a return to objective truth and goodness in both secular education and in the spiritual formation of our young people in preparation for the salvation of their souls.  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 | January 3, 2018

Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (3 Jan 2018)

In our life of worship of God, we may if we wish celebrate Mass today in honor of the Holy Name of Jesus. We did so this morning here at the monastery.  The Christmas octave ends with January 1, the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.  But the Christmas season continues until our celebration of the Baptism of Our Lord, which this year falls on January [8]. During this period we celebrate, after the birth of our Lord, the Holy Family into which he was born, then the solemnity of his mother who, by reason of giving him birth, became the Mother of God, now the holy name of Jesus, given him by his Heavenly Father through the message of the Archangel Gabriel to both Our Lady and St. Joseph, then the solemnity of the Epiphany when the incarnation is first manifested to the Gentile world, and then finally, the Baptism of Jesus at which all three Persons of the Holy Trinity appear for the first time in Scripture.  The Father by his words; the Son by his physical presence, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.

It is the prerogative of a father to name his children. Therefore God the Father exercises that privilege in choosing a name for his divine son who now becomes a human. The name he chooses is “Jesus,” which means “Savior.” And furthermore, the name is imposed upon the son of God in a rite—circumcision—which involves bloodshed.  Thus in the first shedding of his precious blood, Our Lord becomes “Savior” both in name and in fact, and this rite prefigures the definitive shedding of the blood of this paschal lamb on the cross. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the famous Cistercian mystic of the middle ages, spoke beautifully of the holy name of Jesus. “Jesus,” he tells us in one of his sermons, “is honey in the mouth; music in the ear, a shout of gladness in the heart.” And each time we recite the Divine Praises after Benediction, we say, “Blessed be the name of Jesus.”

Every time we make the sign of the cross, we bless ourselves “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Those are their divine, eternal names. But Jesus is the human name assumed by Our Lord in his humanity. We have great devotion to that name which reminds us that, upon coming into our world, our race, our history, he comes in order to save us from eternal exile. He comes to reopen the gates of heaven, to give us hope, to reanimate us with the joy of looking forward to being with him forever. 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 | January 2, 2018

Feast of Saints Basil and Gregory (2 Jan 2018)

Why did God make me?  God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.  I have often told audiences of mine that this is the most important question and answer that they will ever learn.  We learned it in the first lesson of our catechism when we were about five or six years old.  The child or adult who knows that question and that answer is wise.  Those who do not know them are ignorant.  The earth has orbited its way around the sun many times since we first learned that precious nugget of wisdom, and now, as we mark another orbit around the sun, which we call a year, we wish one another a Happy New Year.  I would like to be more specific.

I would like to wish you a New Year—the year [2018]—in which you will know God more clearly, love Him more fervently, and serve Him more loyally.  Thus, you will be fulfilling the purpose of your creation and your existence more fully and you will be drawn closer to your eternal salvation.  If you do this during [2018], you will have put the year to good use by the time that it ends or by the time that your life ends, whichever comes first.  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 | January 2, 2018

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (1 Jan 2018)

It is January 1, [2018].  It is the first day of the new year, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, the world day of peace.

When we say the “Hail Mary” as we do so often, we address the Blessed Virgin Mary as, “Holy Mary, Mother of God.” In Latin they say “Mater Dei” or “Deipara.”  In Greek, Theotokos; in  some of our modern languages, Mere de Dieu, Mutter Gottes, Mae de Deus, Madre de Dios, and on and on. It was the Council of Ephesus in the year 431 that solemnly and infallibly proclaimed that Mary, Our Lady, IS the Mother of God and not just the Mother of the human Jesus.  There had been much controversy about this point of doctrine before that; since then the matter is settled and we happily pray to her daily, “Holy Mary, Mother of God.”  We begin each year with the Solemnity of Our Lady under this beautiful title, and with her help, we wish to rededicate, reconsecrate ourselves to the loving and obedient service of God her Father, God her Son, and God her Spouse by whose overshadowing she became the Mother of Our divine 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.

Older Posts »

Categories