Posted by: fvbcdm | July 11, 2018

Feast of Saint Benedict (11 July 2018)

Up in the extreme northeastern corner of the state of Louisiana, just south of the Arkansas line and on the banks of the Mississippi River, there is the town of Lake Providence where I started school seventy years ago. The little Catholic school was operated by a group of Sisters called the Daughters of the Cross. I fell totally in love with my second-grade teacher, Sister Fidelis, with whom I corresponded until her death just a few years ago, when she was 96.

In the gospel of today’s Mass, Our Divine Lord teaches the world the Our Father, or the Lord’s Prayer, as it’s called. That brings me back to those very early years in my life, because even though I started school when I was not quite five years old, I think that I already knew the Our Father and the Hail Mary before that. My father attended Mass every day when he could, and we had our prayers at home as well. In any case, it is a momentous event when the parents or teachers of a young child begin to teach him or her the basic prayers of our Catholic faith. Nowadays, we have a new program for introducing people to our Catholic faith. It is called the RCIA: the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. And one of the steps along the way toward full admittance into the Church is the presentation of the Our Father to those preparing to become Catholics. Since we have the tremendous privilege of praying not just as we think good, but rather as God wills, we see the Our Father as one of our Lord’s great gifts to us.

Man is essentially religious, so that every culture, every civilization has formulated its religion, its prayers, its rituals of worship. But only we Catholics have a religion, a Church, a sacramental system, and a system of prayer given to us by God himself. This is a tremendous privilege and a great help on the way of our salvation. And since we find Our Divine Lord teaching the world the Our Father in the gospel of today’s Mass, we can celebrate today as a kind of little feast of the Lord’s Prayer. Every time we attend Mass, we pray the Our Father, and I hope that we use it much more frequently than that. If we use it as we should, it will bring us to the tender, childlike, intimate relationship with God the Father that Jesus has and that he wants us to have, too. It is true that the almighty God is our Creator, our Maker, our Lawgiver, our Judge, the Ground of our Being. But above all, he is our Father, and it is this title that Jesus asks us to use in addressing his heavenly Father and ours. If we sufficiently meditate upon God as our Father, we are led to behave as his sons and daughters: devoted, grateful, obedient, loving. This is the kind of religion that Jesus wants us to practice, the religion of his gospel; the religion that God the Son exercises toward God the Father. 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 | July 6, 2018

Feast of Saint Maria Goretti (6 July 2018)

It is appropriate that in 1902, at the very beginning of the 20th century, Saint Maria Goretti was brutally murdered at the age of not quite twelve years old by a boy on the neighboring farm who was eighteen. He was consumed with lust for her and wanted to seduce her; that failing because of her firm resistance, he tried to rape her. That also failing because of her determination not to surrender her virginity to the young man, he stabbed her fourteen times with a kitchen knife.  She died the following day after telling him that she forgave him his sins against her.

I say it is appropriate because the 20th century and now our 21st century have been a time of totally unbridled lust. Who would have thought, a few years ago, that just about every home and office in the world would soon have machines which, by the simple flip of a switch, would bring hard-core pornography into those homes and offices. And that it would be practically impossible to protect young people in particular, during those vulnerable times of their formative years, from this temptation to sin?

During the apparitions of Our Lady to the three children at Fatima, they were shown frightful images of souls falling into hell, and the surviving recipient of those apparitions, Sister Lucia, a Carmelite nun in Portugal, tells us that Our Lady gave them to understand that the sins of lust destroys more souls than any other kind of sin.

We must not miss the truth that is contained in the death of Saint Maria Goretti. The boy who killed her wanted to use for his sexual purposes.  When she refused that, he killed her.  There is a definite connection between lust and murder.  Lust has made millions of people have recourse to contraceptive pills and devices.  Many of them actually destroy human life in the womb: murder because of lust.  It has also caused them to bring life into being and then destroy it by abortion. Again, murder because of lust.  And now we have the glorification of homosexual lust, when other Christian denominations actually ordain to their ministry persons actively practicing homosexuality, or pretending to marry two men or two women.  And perhaps the saddest of all these manifestations of lust among us has been the sins of sexual child abuse on the part of our own Catholic priests and then the attempts by some of our bishops to handle the problem by moving the offending priests from parish to parish, thus providing them with more and more young victims.

We are living in times when the vice of lust is being allowed to show its immense evil and its connection with murder and death, to say nothing of the death of the souls of predators and prey alike. Let us pray through the intercession of Saint Maria Goretti that our society will come to see the horror of lust and the beauty of God’s plan for human sexuality in our lives as an expression of love and a fountainhead of 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 | July 3, 2018

Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle (3 July 2018)

Tomorrow, we join our fellow Americans in celebrating our Independence Day, or the Fourth of July as it is more popularly known. And because we are Catholics, we must bring our celebration into conformity with our holy faith.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, when discussing in his theological works the matter of gratitude as part of the virtue of justice, says that there are two entities to whom we must be grateful and can never adequately repay that debt of gratitude. One of these entities is our parents who gave us life, and in the normal course of events, a way of life, an outlook, discipline, education, a family legacy, a physical and personal history, and all the emotional and psychological gifts which accrue to a well-raised child by reason of his father’s and mother’s love and concern for him. These things are precious beyond our ability to repay.

The second entity to which we are indebted in a way that we cannot repay is our country. Again, in the normal course of events we derive our nationality from the land in which we were born and raised. We inherit its natural resources, its history, its culture, its outlooks and viewpoints, its advantages and its disadvantages. Now, in our case, we are extremely blessed by this country of ours, this nation, this legacy. What other country in the history of the world has been blessed with so much in terms of natural goods as ours has? The fact that people from all over the world want to come to live here, and in fact do so in many cases is the proof of the desirability of life in the United States.  Even the antagonism felt toward us Americans by some throughout the world is a sort of back-handed compliment, since it is a form of envy and resentment.

So now we American Catholics come to celebrate our Fourth of July. And if we do so as we should, we primarily give thanks for this nation of our which was symbolically born on July 4, 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We tend to be more conscious of our country’s disadvantages than its advantages. Yes, of course, we have some of both. But the good certainly outweighs the bad. So the human flow of migration is directed TO us, not AWAY from us. The hot dogs and the beer, the marching bands and the fireworks which we have come to associate with the Fourth of July are all very well. They are signs of abundance, of happiness, of reason to rejoice. But we must not forget, as so many of our compatriots do, that far more appropriate than hot dogs, beer, and fireworks, is a very fervent THANK YOU to our Heavenly Father for this nation of ours and all that He confers upon us by having let us be born and raised here rather than in starvation-ridden Sudan, too politically corrupt to feed its own people, or bomb-ridden Iraq, trying to free itself from a totalitarian dictatorship, or even Israel putting up miles and miles of wall to keep its warring factions apart.

Eternal Father, we thank you for America and for our being Americans on this anniversary of our nation’s birth. 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 | June 29, 2018

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (29 June 2018)

During Our Lord’s public life, he repeatedly reminded his followers and hearers that the Jews are God’s chosen people and that they were to be given the first opportunity to embrace his gospel and enter his kingdom. And when he sent out his apostles even before his death to begin their preaching, they were to preach only to the Jews.

The twelve apostles were all Jews, all born and raised in the Holy Land, in a Jewish milieu. Christ made Saint Peter their leader, to take his place after his ascension into heaven. After Pentecost, when they went out and began the evangelization of the world, they naturally devoted themselves to their fellow Jews. However, very soon, God set into motion likewise the evangelization of the gentiles. He chose a Jew by the name of Saul who had been born and raised in a gentile atmosphere—in what is now called southern Turkey—to begin the systematic preaching of the gospel to the gentile world. Saul’s name was changed to Paul. He became phenomenally successful in spreading the gospel both in Asia Minor and in Greece. And, providentially, he wrote letters to the Christian communities which he had founded. The Church recognized the value of those letters and included them in her Holy Scriptures. Thus it happens that the greater part of the New Testament was composed by Saint Paul and contains a wealth of theology upon which the Church will nourish herself until the end of time.

About thirty years after Pentecost, the emperor Nero came to the throne of imperial Rome. An evil man, he had no scruples in accomplishing his purposes by any means whatever. The city of Rome was overcrowded, dirty, and in bad repair. A new capital city was needed. So the emperor hit upon a scheme. He would simply burn the city down and rebuild it. Of course, it must not be known that he was the arsonist who left thousands of his own people homeless, so he blamed the fire on the Christians. That gave him a handy scapegoat and a justification for an anti-Christian pogrom. During that murderous campaign, he had Saint Peter and Saint Paul arrested and executed. Saint Paul was a Roman citizen and therefore could not be crucified, since crucifixion was considered too terrible for even guilty Roman culprits. So Saint Paul was beheaded along the road to the seaport of Ostia, the port city at the mouth of the Tiber. But Saint Peter was not a Roman citizen, so he was crucified in an arena on the Vatican Hill, across the river from downtown Rome. And he was buried by devout Christians very near the place of his death.

Today, when pilgrims go to Rome, they are often welcomed by the Pope as members of the faithful who are coming to visit “the tombs of the apostles.” And the apostles to whom the Pope refers are Saints Peter and Paul. June 29 is a great solemnity in Rome celebrated in honor of those two great apostles: the Rock upon which the Church is built by Christ, and the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Over their tombs rise two of Rome’s four major basilicas. The other two are Saint John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome, and Saint Mary Major, the principal church in the whole world dedicated to the Mother of Jesus. Today it is appropriate for us to pray very specially for the Pope, for all our Bishops, and for those missionaries and evangelizers who are laboring to bring the gospel of Christ to those who do not know and love him. 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 | June 28, 2018

Feast of Saint Irenaeus (28 June 2018)

When we open the New Orleans telephone directory, we find lots of Bergerons, Broussards, Bourgeois, Lejeunes, Heberts, Leblancs, deBoisblancs, DelaHoussayes.  In my own family there have been Cantrelles and Burguieres and Templets and Labaus and Verrets and Stoufflets.  These names give ample testimony of the rich French legacy that we in this part of the country possess.  Some of those early Frenchmen came from France to what is now called Nova Scotia and the province of Quebec in eastern Canada.  They were expelled in large numbers by the British for their allegiance to the French crown and the Catholic faith, and many came to Louisiana.  Others came directly from France to this part of America.  These people passed their faith on to their children, and thus it is that the Church is abundantly represented in south Louisiana.

I speak of these things today because on June 28 the Church celebrates one of the three principal evangelizers of early France, or Gaul as it was called in those days.  We have today Saint Irenaeus of Lyons; there were also Saint Martin of Tours and Saint Hilary of Poitiers.  But these were only three of the earliest and most influential.  Down through the ages, France has given many prominent saints to the Church and the world. Saints Genevieve and Joan of Arc and Margaret Mary and Louise de Marillac and Jane Frances de Chantal and the Carmelite martyrs of Compiegne and Madeleine Sophie Barat and Bernadette Soubirous and Therese of Lisieux and Catherine Laboure and Therese Couderc among the women, and among the men, Saints Denis, Bernard of Clairvaux, Louis IX, King of France, Vincent de Paul, Louis de Montfort, not to mention those French saints who came to America and the other mission fields of the world and here labored and many times gave their lives for the spread of the kingdom of God.

For centuries, France was known as the “First Daughter of the Church” because of the vigor and fruitfulness of the Church in that country. However, France and its Catholic faith suffered a number of severe blows that had tragic results in the religious life of the country. The Reformation left the nation split between the Catholics and the Calvinist Protestants who were called Huguenots.

Then there was the bitter campaign on the part of some intellectuals against the absolute monarchy of Louis XIV, XV, and XVI which they identified with the Church.  That campaign was called the Enlightenment; in it, the Church was blamed for all the excesses and moral aberrations of the royalty and aristocracy and came to be hated by many.  The result was the terrible French Revolution of 1789 which sent the king and queen and thousands of aristocrats, nobles, churchmen and women, and ordinary citizens who were faithful to their Catholic faith to the guillotine.  That chaotic period was followed by Napoleon who was a Catholic when it suited his ambitions, but thought nothing of imprisoning the Pope when the Holy Father would not bow to the demands of the self-proclaimed emperor.  The result of those events is that today, France is largely Catholic but in name only, and the practice of the faith among the French people is about 10%.

Let us, by our prayers, do what we can to give back to that beautiful land of western Europe the faith that she gave to us.

May this first daughter of the Church return to her Father’s house rather than continue to wander in the slums of atheism, agnosticism, and the many kinds of materialism.  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 | June 26, 2018

Feast of Saint Josemaria Escriva (26 June 2018)

About the middle of the 7th century, Mohammed founded the religion called Islam. For nearly a thousand years, it was a serious threat to Christianity, and it did all it could to obliterate Christianity from the face of the earth. After the year 1700 or so, it lost most of its impetus and settled down to its holdings in Asia, Africa, and some pockets of eastern Europe, and the rest of the world heard little about it.

Now, however, with the creation of the state of Israel in Palestine, the sleeping giant of Islam has been roused to fury and since it cannot dislodge Israel from Palestine, which it considers to be a Muslim nation where the Israeli are merely usurpers, it has taken to using terrorism as a means to accomplish its ends.

In just a few days, the United Nations is planning to turn over the reins of government in Iraq from the occupation forces to the Iraqi people themselves, to allow them to govern themselves on democratic principles: government of the people, for the people, and by the people, as Abraham Lincoln so succinctly put it. It remains to be seen whether this can be accomplished in Iraq. I speak of this today because I see this transfer of power from the occupying forces to the Iraqi people as a terribly important moment in the history of our times. If the Iraqi people prove capable of self-government; if they can dissociate themselves from rule by Muslim religious leaders, which has been characterized by fanaticism and hatred of the non-Muslim world, then perhaps that concept of separation of church and state which we in the west now take for granted might spread to the other Muslim countries of the world and remove much of the violent thinking behind the tragedy of 9/11 and Al Quaida and elements like that.

Just after World War I, a leader who took the name of Kemal Ataturk rose in Turkey. By dint of tremendous effort, he was able to turn his country from a typical Muslim country which took its marching orders from the Koran and the Muslim religious leaders into a nation whose people are predominantly Muslim, but whose government is basically democratic. The experiment has been a success. Turkey is a nation whose people are mostly Muslim, but which is not given to fanaticism or intolerance and which, in fact, has taken its place among the western nations in most political, military, and commercial relationships. It would be so happy if that could happen in Iraq and then the other Muslim nations of the world as well. That would not solve the problem of Palestine, but would certainly take much of the antagonism out of the interface between Muslim and non-Muslim nations.

Let us keep the Iraqi situation in our prayers. We inhabit this planet along with Muslim leaders in Pakistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, and so on.  We need to try to live in peace and harmony with one another. And that peace will not be brought about without the hand of God touching Israeli, Muslims, Christians, and the other religious traditions of our world. We have the opportunity to pray for that peace and thus to help bring it about. 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.

Today we celebrate one of the most interesting feasts of the Church year, in my opinion.  It is the commemoration of Saints John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester in England, and Thomas More, the Chancellor of England.  Both of them were contemporaries of King Henry VIII; both of them refused to accept his Act of Supremacy, by which he renounced the authority of the Pope and proclaimed himself as the head of the Church in England and by which he likewise renounced his valid marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon, his first and only legitimate wife, and declared that his marriage to Catherine was invalid, even though the Holy Father had ruled it valid, and therefore he was free to marry Anne Boleyn, whom he had already made pregnant, and to name her daughter, Elizabeth, the rightful heir to the throne.

When you visit the beautiful cathedrals which adorn the east coast of England, all of them built by Catholics before Henry VIII, you find that each of them has a gift shop in which booklets can be obtained giving the histories of those cathedrals.  One of the booklets is called the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It starts by saying that in the year 1536 there were more than 800—abbeys, priories, nunneries, friaries, and other religious houses in Great Britain.  Four years later, there were none.  When we consider the damage done to the Church by Henry VIII in terms of closing religious houses, turning the priests, monks, nuns, and other religious out of their way of life, and then systematically destroying the Catholic faith of the English, Scots, and Welsh, we realize how truly diabolical that king was. And of course, his daughter Elizabeth I had to pursue his policy because it made her legitimate and thus gave her the right to be queen.

Saints John Fisher and Thomas More were only among the first of many Catholic martyrs in Great Britain. Right in the heart of London, there is a plaque embedded in the street at Marble Arch, one of the busiest intersections of the city.  That plaque commemorates the fact that the so-called “Tyburn Tree” stood there for many years.  Tyburn Tree was a gallows on which convicts were hanged and then killed by terrible means.  Many of them were Catholics, dying because they would not renounce their faith. The persecution of Catholics continued for about three hundred years, and has left its vestiges to the present time in the discrimination against Catholics that is to be found among the English.

If you want to celebrate this commemoration of the English martyrs properly, you must know some of the details of the religious history of England, especially since 1535.  And you should see the movie, “A Man for All Seasons,” a good film on the life of Saint Thomas More.  Let us pray today for the eventual reunion between Rome and Canterbury — the Catholic Church and the Church of England, “that there may be but one flock and one shepherd.” 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 | June 21, 2018

Feast of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (21 June 2018)

June 21 is the longest day of the year; it is called the summer solstice — that moment when the sun stops its movement toward the north and begins again to go south along the ecliptic. We also observe it as the first day of summer, since we date the seasons from the two solstices of the year and the two equinoxes.

Down through the ages, many civilizations and religions have worshiped the sun. And therefore the longest day of the year, when the sun seems supreme, has been important to these pagans who make deities out of created things. Nowadays, when we find all sorts of New Age paganism, Druids, Wicca adherents, etc., we find these groups having special rites and services on these days of the year.

And that idea of associating religion with natural science is to be found even in the Church. It is interesting to note that just a few days after the summer solstice, we celebrate the birth of Saint John the Baptist, and a few days after the winter solstice, we have the birthday of Our Divine Lord. Why? Because it is not known for sure at what time of the year Jesus was born, but we do know from the gospel that Saint John the Baptist was about six months older than Our Lord. We also know that Saint John says, in the gospel, “He (meaning Jesus) must increase; I must decrease.” Taking that as their clue, the early liturgists decided to celebrate the birthday of Jesus at that time of year when the days begin to increase in length; thus Christmas falls four days after the winter solstice. And six months before that, when the days begin to decrease in length, we have the birthday of Saint John the Baptist, just a few days after the summer solstice.

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 | June 20, 2018

Feast of Saint Florentina (20 June 2018)

Since I spoke both at Mass and here on the daily message about the declining numbers at Mass, I would like to pursue that idea again today. In the latest issue of the magazine America there is an article by Father Andrew Greeley on the same topic. I am not a great fan of Father Greeley, but he is a good research analyst and most of his conclusions in that area valid, I think.

He asks the same question: why don’t Catholics attend Mass as much as they used to? And he answers: they no longer think that they have any serious obligation to do so, and that obligation is not backed by any serious sanction. People of my generation were raised to believe that we are bound by a very serious obligation to attend Mass every Sunday and that the penalty for failing that obligation was mortal sin, which could result in the eternal loss of one’s soul. Most Catholics under the age of 50 no longer believe that. They have simply decided that that is not true.

And what caused the change in viewpoint? Father Greeley points to the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI in 1968 in which the pope upheld the traditional teaching that contraception is immoral. The contraceptive pill had recently been invented and many people, both married and otherwise, were using it so that they could enjoy sex without the possibility of a pregnancy.  A sort of groundswell of interest in the morality of it had begun, and many people assumed that the pope would speak on the morality of the pill and other forms of contraception, and give them his blessing. But he didn’t. He upheld the traditional teaching of the Church: contraception is illicit, immoral, and sinful. This statement of his resulted in massive disobedience on the part of many Catholics, which is still going on. And if they are going to disobey the pope and the Church in matters of sexual morality, why not in terms of religious obligations like attending Sunday Mass? So we now have a large percentage of Catholics who take the law into their own hands and do as they please in terms of moral or religious obligations. This is a very dangerous philosophy, since it totally denies the authority of Christ which he gives to his Church: whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. And to deny the authority of Christ and disobey it puts one in the position of living in defiance of the Redeemer who will come at the end of our lives to judge us.

Let us be aware, my dear friends, of this spirit of disobedience and defiance which walks abroad in our land and our Church these days. Regardless of how many people adhere to it, it is still very wrong and can lead souls to perdition. Let us give our total loyalty and submission to Our Divine Lord, His Church, and His vicar on earth. That way, we walk in the path of moral rectitude and have nothing to worry about when the moment of judgment comes.  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 | June 18, 2018

Feast of Saint Gregory Barbarigo (18 June 2018)

One of the most evident characteristics of Pope John Paul II is the graciousness with which he expresses himself and the elegance of his pronouncements. This week, the Vatican News Service has released the telegram that the Holy Father sent to Nancy Reagan on the death of former President Reagan. Since it concerns us all, I would like to share it with you today.

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR DEATH OF PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN VATICAN CITY, JUNE 8, 2004 — The following telegram was sent by Pope John Paul II to Nancy Reagan, the widow of the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, who died June 5 at the age of 93 at his home in California: “Having learned with sadness of the death of President Reagan, I offer you and your family my heartfelt condolences and the assurance of my prayers for his eternal rest. I recall with deep gratitude the late president’s unwavering commitment to the service of the nation and to the cause of freedom as well as his abiding faith in the human and spiritual values which ensure a future of solidarity, justice and peace in our world. Together with your family and the American people I commend his noble soul to the merciful love of God our Heavenly Father and cordially invoke upon all who mourn his passing the divine blessings of consolation, strength and peace.” 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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