Posted by: fvbcdm | October 23, 2017

Feast of Saint John of Capistrano (23 Oct 2017)

In the first reading of the Mass for Monday of this week we find Aaron making a golden calf for the people to worship while Moses is at the top of the mountain communicating with God.  This is seen in the Old Testament as perhaps the greatest of all sins.  It is idolatry, and idolatry means worshiping of false gods.  We don’t think of ourselves or our contemporaries as being idolaters because we have a rather primitive notion of idolatry.  Native peoples who worship idols or animals or their own ancestors are called idolaters but not the more sophisticated people of our world.  However, just because we are more advanced than the Aztecs, let’s say, or the people of New Guinea or the American Indians at the time of Columbus, that doesn’t makes us any the less idolaters.

Nowadays, we worship money.  This is not to say that we build a temple in which we enshrine money and then pray to it as if it were able to hear and answer us.  But it does mean that we make money the first and most important consideration in our lives and spend most of our time, attention, and effort in making more of it.  When Jesus was asked which was the first and greatest commandment of them all, He said, “you shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and your whole strength.”

In other words, God must be the most important element in our lives.  If we replace Him and His Holy Will with anything else, we are guilty of idolatry since we are making something the number one reality in our lives rather than the Infinite, Almighty, All Holy God.  One who offends God in order to make money is an idolater.  For him, money is more important than God.  One who offends God by sexual sins is an idolater.  One who offends God by only seeking after power, prestige, influence, is an idolater.  It is only the one who gets rid of anything in his life that offends God who can truly be said to be a worshiper of God in the every sense of the word.  Thus, we need to examine ourselves regularly in this matter of idolatry, that is, preferring anything to God.  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 | October 20, 2017

Feast of Saint Paul of the Cross (20 Oct 2017)

Lord, teach us to pray.  This simple, humble prayer on the part of the disciples of our Lord which we encounter in the Gospel of this Sunday’s Mass is one that should often be on our lips too.  Prayer is the very lifeblood of our spiritual lives.  People who do not speak to each other are obviously not well oriented to each other.  If we don’t often speak to God, there is something seriously wrong with our relationship with Him.  So, the more we become adept at real prayer, the better it is for our souls.

When Jesus accedes to their wishes and gives them and us the “Our Father,” He follows it by saying, “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?  How much more will the Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”  In the parallel passage to this one, Saint Matthew says, “The Father will give good things to those who ask Him.” But, because of his deep devotion to the Holy Spirit, Saint Luke, who is the author of the Gospel that we read this Sunday, substitutes the “Holy Spirit” in place of “good things.”

Which of these did Jesus actually say?  Possibly both, and probably very often.  Remember, each of the four Gospels is an attempt to sum up in a very few pages the words and actions of our Divine Lord over His whole public life—a period of three years.  Surely, He often repeated His message, now using this turn of phrase, now that.

We must remember too that, just as a good father is not going to give harmful things to his children when they ask for food, so, if they ask for harmful things, he cannot give them to his children.  No loving, intelligent parent allows small children to play with matches, ice picks, rat poison, sharp knives, or loaded guns.  We, in our ignorance, sometimes ask for things that God, in His Wisdom, sees to be potentially harmful for us.  We don’t get them, so we pout like children and wonder why God doesn’t love us.  Some day we will understand why He does what He does.  In the meantime, it is our place to be humble, trusting, and loving toward God our Father, Who loves us so much that His love has called us out of nothingness into being and reality.  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 | October 17, 2017

Feast of Saint Ignatius of Antioch (17 Oct 2017)

When you get into your car to drive somewhere, you insert your key into the “ignition.”  This word comes from the Latin word “ignus” which means “fire.”  In other words, you fire up your engine to get going.  On October 17, we celebrate in our liturgy, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, a man whose name comes from the same word “ignus.”  He is a man on fire with the love of God or, perhaps you could say, with the Divine Fire of the Holy Spirit Who descended in the form of fire on the first Pentecost.  Ignatius was the Bishop of Antioch, the first shepherd of that diocese after Saint Peter moved from there to Rome, so that he could establish his headquarters at the capital of the empire, even though it was a risky thing to do, living right under the nose of the Roman Emperors, who did all they could to destroy the young Church.   Not only was Ignatius a man of fire, of courage, of generosity, and great devotion, but he was also a poet.

When he was captured by the Roman authorities, it was decided to make an example of him to the whole Roman world.  Rather than just kill him in Antioch, they sent him to Rome by ship, to kill him in one of the Roman arenas there. On the way, the ship had to stop from time to time to take on provisions.  When the local Christians heard that the Bishop of Antioch was aboard, on his way to his death in Rome, they came down to visit him, and he entrusted to them letters to the Christian communities in Asia Minor.  The letters are beautiful.  In them, he asks his fellow Christians not to pray for his deliverance.  He wants to die. He wants to witness with his blood to Christ our Lord.  He also says in his letters that he looks forward to being thrown to the beasts in the arena.  He said, “I am like wheat.  I shall be ground by the teeth of the lions into a fine flour, to make bread, which is Christ.”  A beautiful idea, full of faith, generosity, and courage.

When you go to Rome, you can visit the two great arenas that they used at the time of Saint Ignatius.  One is the famous Colosseum, the other is the Circus Maximus that could accommodate even more spectators.  Both those places provided entertainment, entertainment for the blood-thirsty Roman mobs, who loved watching victims being torn apart, entertainment for the entire Court of Heaven, who rejoiced at the faith and constancy of those who shed their blood for Christ, and, as Tertullian observed, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.”  When one martyr dies, ten catechumens spring up.  Within 200 years after the death of Saint Ignatius, the Roman Empire officially became Christian. 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 | October 16, 2017

Feast of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (16 Oct 2017)

On this anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II as Pope, we celebrate the memory of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun of the 1600s, who was chosen by our Lord to be the principal propagator of the devotion to His Sacred Heart.  In those days, a heresy called Jansenism was running rampant in Europe.  Its basic idea is that God is so Holy and we are so sinful that we should keep our distance from Him and not get too close because we are terribly unworthy.  This false notion gave rise to a number of practices that remain within the Church even to our present time.  Infrequent communion is one of these practices.  When I was a child, I knew people who never went to Holy Communion without having gone to confession within the last 24 hours and then they went just two or three times a year.  Nowadays, the opposite error is often the case, in which people give no thought to the Holiness of God and receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin or dressed as if they were going to the beach instead of to Mass.

In any case, our Divine Lord appeared repeatedly to Saint Margaret Mary in her convent in the town of Paray-le-Monial in France.  He appeared in the guise with which we are familiar, with His Heart visible outside His Body, flaming with Love and encircled with a crown of thorns.  Jesus said to her, “Behold this Heart which has loved humanity so much and has been so little loved in return.” The basic message of the devotion to the Sacred Heart is the warmth, the tenderness, the affection, with which we should love our Lord Jesus Christ.  Being a Christian means being in love with Jesus.  It is not just a matter of subscribing to a list of doctrines or of joining an organization which we call the Church.  It is a question of the heart.  God is Love, Jesus tells us, and he who abides in Love abides in God and God in him.

When examining our spiritual lives, we must ask ourselves: Do I love Jesus?  Does my love of Him prompt me to pray?  To obey the commandments? To practice the virtues? To show kindness to others? To forgive injuries?  To look forward to being with Jesus forever in Heaven?  This is authentic religion.  This is the return of Love that Jesus asks of us.  This is the genuine devotion to His Sacred Heart.  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 | October 13, 2017

Feast of Saint Edward the Confessor (13 Oct 2017)

On the 13th of each month from May to October in the year 1917, Our Lady appeared to three Portuguese peasant children at a village called Fatima. The apparitions had attracted much attention as those things always do, so that on the night of October 12, a huge crowd had gathered in an open field called the Cove of Peace, awaiting the expected apparition on the following day. It rained most of the night and again the next morning, so that most of the crowd and their clothing were drenched. The sun came up and began to shine. The three children saw Our Lady as usual, but the great crowd saw something quite different.  It seemed to them that the sun began to spin on its own axis like a great pinwheel in the sky, shedding its bright colors over the whole world. Then, it seemed to detach itself from its proper place in the sky and to begin falling down toward the crowd in the Cove. Would they all be killed by the blazing sun? Was this the end of the world? Many were terrified. But before any harm came to anyone there, the sun seemed to stop its fall and to return to its normal place in the sky. It was then that the crowd noticed that they and their clothing were perfectly dry whereas just a few minutes earlier, they were all soaked by the heavy rain.

When she had been asked earlier who she was, the beautiful lady who appeared to the children said, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.”  And she has come to be known as Our Lady of Fatima, a Muslim name—the name of one of the daughters of the prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam.

One of our Dominican priests, Fr. Thomas McGlynn, who was an outstanding sculptor, was commissioned to carve a statue of Our Lady of Fatima to be placed in a niche above the main door of the basilica at Fatima. To prepare for this, he was given permission to interview Sister Lucia, the oldest of the three visionaries who was still alive after the death of the other two, Jacinta and Francisco, who had died in the influenza pandemic of 1918. He tells us in his book about his friendship with Sister Lucia that when he asked her to describe what the beautiful Lady wore when she appeared to the children, she replied that the Lady’s clothing was not made of cloth but rather of light! It reminds us of the Lady clothed with the sun in the book of Revelation.  But how in the world does a sculptor, working in stone, carve LIGHT??? The best he could do was to wield the sculpting tool with a sort of wavy motion to give the impression of shimmering light. That statue of The Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Fatima, the Lady Clothed with the Sun, stands in the facade of the basilica today. Inside the church are the tombs of the two children who died first and have already been beatified. Presumably, if and when Lucia is beatified, her remains will be buried in the basilica, too. She died as a Carmelite nun and so is buried in the cloister in the city of Coimbra in Portugal. 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 | October 12, 2017

Feast of Our Lady of Pillar (12 Oct 2017)

It was [525] years ago, on October the twelfth, that the cry from the lookout high in the rigging of the Spanish ship changed the course of world history.  As the first glimmerings of dawn began to turn the blackness into gray, he saw the silhouette of land on the horizon. Maybe he saw a spot of light, indicating a fire made by the natives.  Maybe he dared not cry out, fearful that he might be imagining what he wanted to see so badly but was really not there at all.  Then, it got brighter, and there could be no doubt about what he was looking at, and he cried out “Tierra!” [“Land!”]

The flag ship of the little convoy commanded by Christopher Columbus was named the “Santa Maria” [“Holy Mary”].  Mary brings Christ into our human race, our human history, our world.  The Santa Maria brings Christianity to the Western Hemisphere.  Just a few years after that cry of “Tierra!” rang out over the Bahamas, the Mother of Jesus appeared to an America Indian in the valley of Mexico, that isthmus of land which connects the two continents of the Western Hemisphere, and she said to him, “I am your Mother.”  She looked and was dressed like a woman of his own people, his own culture.  She spoke to him in his own native language.  She had become the most effective of all missionaries in bringing her divine son into our New World.  Her picture miraculously imprinted on his apron, still hangs near the place where she appeared in the basilica that is now the mother shrine of churches, sanctuaries, and homes throughout the world.  We call her, “Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

On my recent pilgrimage, I was able to touch again the baptismal font in the cathedral of Barcelona.  On his return from our New World, Columbus brought back some native people to show them to the king and queen who had financed his trip and who were in Barcelona at that time.  In that baptismal font, they were baptized, becoming the first American Catholics—the dawning of our Holy Faith in this new hemisphere, this new chapter of human history.  For those of us who are Americans, let us be grateful for being Americans.  Let us also be grateful for our Holy Catholic Faith.  Let us be grateful that our Lord Jesus Christ is our Divine Brother, as His Most Gracious Mother said to us and Blessed Juan Diego, “I am your Mother.”  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 | October 11, 2017

Feast of Saint Peter Tuy (11 Oct 2017)

Our New Orleans newspaper—the Times-Picayune proclaims in bold headlines this Tuesday—“POPE DENOUNCES USE OF HUMAN EMBRYOS.”  That headline made my heart sing this morning when I saw it. I’m not so naive as to think that, just because the Pope denounces stem cell research, it won’t happen.  After all, many other crimes and sins against human life are going on all around us, sanctioned by the civil law, despite Papal injunctions against them.  But, what it means is that this man, this Vicar of Christ, this Supreme Shepherd of the Church, which our Lord Jesus Christ founded, continues to proclaim moral truth despite the opposition of many, even many influential, prestigious, important people in our world.  It takes great courage to know that you’re going to be ridiculed, contradicted, hated, scorned, and disobeyed by many throughout the world, and yet to go on proclaiming what you know to be right and true.  It is a clear manifestation of the presence of the Holy Spirit within the Church, and, as always, in the end, the Church will be vindicated.

In 1968, Pope Paul VI felt it necessary to speak out authoritatively on the subject of contraception.  A commission had been convoked to study the matter for moral, medical, psychological, and social perspective.  The commission, in a consultative vote, indicated its support for the licitness of contraception, but the Pope, following the guidance of God ruled against it.  In his encyclical letter “Humanae vitae,” he very clearly called it sinful.  The letter resulted in a firestorm of protest, dissent, disobedience, anti-clericalism, anti-papalism, and defection from the Church’s authority on the part of millions throughout the world, even millions in the Church.  And yet, today, more and more so-called experts in these matters are coming to see the correctness of the Pope’s decision.

Way back in the 1930’s, before the advent of “the pill,” Pope Pius XI wrote an encyclical letter called “Casti Connubii” on marital chastity.  He condemned artificial contraception and pointed out that it would lead to abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and a lessening of the world’s regard for human life.  At the time, he was labeled a fanatic, a panic-monger, an exaggerator, and yet, today, we find all around us, legalized contraception, abortion, even the killing of healthy, live babies at the very moment of their birth, euthanasia, homosexual unions which are called marriage, and now, the destruction of human embryos for scientific research.  We should be very proud to be members of a Church which has courageous shepherds to guide the moral thinking of humanity according to the Will of God.  You will find this kind of moral leadership and courage nowhere else in the world.

Posted by: fvbcdm | October 10, 2017

Feast of Saint Francis Borgia (10 Oct 2017)

We are in the month of October, the time traditionally associated with our devotion to our Lady in the rosary.  Let me propose to your thoughts and prayers today three elements that are appropriate to this time of year.

In the early part of the Nineteenth Century, before Pope Pius IX had defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the bishops of the United States of America assembled for their first national council of bishops.  During that meeting, they chose our Blessed Mother under the title of the Immaculate Conception as the patroness of the young nation.  That’s why we have on the campus of the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., the great national shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  It is a fitting expression of the devotion of the Catholics of America to the Mother of God under this title.

A few years later, our Lady appeared in Lourdes to Saint Bernadette Soubirous.  Two of the most important aspects of those apparitions are: (1) the Beautiful Lady in the grotto always carried a rosary and was pleased to pray it with the child Bernadette each time she appeared to her; and (2) She identified herself by saying, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Now, in the new millennium, our nation finds itself under attack by the anti-Christian forces of evil and death.  Now is the time for us to turn with special and constant fervor to our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of His Blessed Mother, the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of our country and to pray to her using her rosary as a means of our spiritual communication with her and her Divine Son.  We will not win battles unless the Lord is with us.  We will not accomplish anything for the good of our nation without Divine help.  But, with the help of God, our enemies will vanish like a morning fog, and that help is found not in guns and bombs but in prayer.  O Mary conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.  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 | October 4, 2017

Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi (4 Oct 2017)

Today we celebrate the feast of the “Poor Man of Assisi,” that extremely popular saint whose name was Francis and who was a contemporary of our holy father Saint Dominic.  Because the two of them knew and admired one another and had such a similar ministry in the Church of the 13th century, we speak of them both as “our holy Fathers.”

Francis never felt worthy of ordination to the priesthood, so spent his life as a deacon, but he became the founder of a remarkable variety of religious communities.  The Friars Minor, the Capuchins, the Conventual Franciscans, the Third Order Regular, the Friars of the Atonement, and probably several other congregations of men that I am unaware of, in addition to the cloistered nuns called the Poor Clares and the many congregations of active Franciscan sisters operating in many parts of the world and working among God’s people on every continent.

Saint Francis used to wish his followers and listeners: “Pax et bonum” — peace and well-being.  So I wish you that same blessing today: through the intercession of our holy father Saint Francis, may God grant you peace and well-being—pax et bonum—all the days of your 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 | October 3, 2017

Feast of Saint Theodore Guerin (3 Oct 2017)

With a little ingenuity, we can all improve our spiritual lives.  Nowadays, people often come to confession and confess sins committed while driving.  They get angry with others driving on the road or they actually do unkind things because of their impatience and irritability.  Most of us who drive put in quite a bit of time in the car, and if our spiritual lives are to permeate every aspect of our reality, we must sanctify our driving just as we sanctify everything else.

So, in order to do this, let me make a few recommendations to you.  Number one, when getting into your car, pray, asking our Lord to keep you safe, alert, and at peace on the road.  Ask in particular for Him to help you drive as He wants you to.

Number two, as you are driving, constantly seek opportunities to be kind to others on the road.  Let someone get ahead of you.  Smile and wave, if someone is kind to you.  Pay attention to the traffic lights. Don’t make the people behind you wait because you don’t proceed when the light turns green.  Use your turn signal so that everyone will know what you are doing, then turn them off if they don’t go off by themselves.

Number three, be forgiving to those who treat you rudely.  Don’t get angry or show anger. It is true that, from time to time people treat us rudely, but nobody has nailed you to a cross, yet.  Nobody has accused you of doing good works by the power of the devil, yet.  Jesus, Who suffered those kinds of offenses, still tells us to forgive as we wish to be forgiven.  Let us bring the Gospel of Jesus into our cars.  Let us drive with our Lord.  Let us sanctify our driving and allow it to sanctify 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.

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