Posted by: fvbcdm | December 16, 2017

Feast of Saint Mary di Rosa (15 Dec 2017)

We come now to the third week of Advent in our preparation to celebrate the birth of our divine Lord.  Let me ask you, “What are you doing to observe this Holy Season as well as you can?”  I’m afraid that too many of us live through each Advent and Lent just as we live the rest of the year, and, if that’s true, then we’re neglecting the opportunities offered us and we’re not living, thinking, and praying in union with the Church.  Let me suggest some ways in which you can celebrate Advent according to the mind of the Church:

(1) First and foremost, there is the possibility of attending Mass as often as you can, preferably every day;

(2) if that is not possible or if you already do that, you might obtain a missalette and read the prayers and readings for the Advent Masses when you have more time than at Mass, to reflect upon them at leisure and to make them a subject of your prayer life;

(3) a daily rosary is a fine way to celebrate Advent;

(4) just as we make the Way of the Cross to meditate upon the sufferings and death of Jesus, so we can make for ourselves a Way to Bethlehem, meditating upon the events that lead up to our Lord’s birth—the coming of the Angel to announce to our Blessed Mother that she was to be the Mother of God, her visit to Elizabeth, the preparations that our Lady and Saint Joseph made for the trip to Bethlehem, the disappointment at not finding lodging there, the humiliation that they must have felt in taking shelter in a stable where the only baby bed they could offer the newborn Christ was a pile of straw, the fear and confusion—but also the joy—of the shepherds when their quiet night on the hillsides throughout Bethlehem was interrupted by music from Heaven and the tremendously impressive message of angels, the wonder of the Magi lead by a star only to find a simple little family in a situation of poverty—they were probably expecting to be lead to a luxurious palace to find the newborn king of the Jews.  The baby in the manger probably didn’t look that much like a king to them;  nor was His family much like a royal family, but that’s where the star took them and that’s where they gave princely gifts to a carpenter and his wife;

(5) other means of celebrating Advent—the offer to help someone in some way, maybe taking a shut-in for a ride or to the grocery store or to the hair dresser or out for a meal or to see the Christmas lights at night;

(6) we have less than two weeks left in the Holy Season of Advent, don’t let it go by without you doing something appropriate by way of preparing for the great Christian festival of Christmas.

Let others spend their time in their own way.   Let us who glory in the name of “Christian” live this Holy Season in a Holy Way. Thank you for allowing God to love you, 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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This is the time of the Holy Season of Advent when we Catholics of the United States celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom the Holy See has formally named to be the patron saint of the entire Western Hemisphere—North, Central, and South America and all of the islands around them.  In 1531, just a few years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico and at the beginning of the spread of our Holy Faith in that country as well as in all of the Spanish and Portugese possessions in the New World, our Lady showed herself to be a conquistadora of a different kind.  She came not for glory or gold but to give to the people of our hemisphere a knowledge of Her Divine Son, whose kingdom she is always working to spread among humankind.  As always, she did it by beauty, grace, gentleness, and love, all of which can win battles of the heart that guns, bombs, and military actions cannot.

The story of our Lady’s apparitions to the Indian, [Saint] Juan Diego, is full of delightful little episodes.  She instructed him to go the Bishop of Mexico City, a few miles distant, and ask that a chapel be built on that spot.  The bishop was not too inclined to listen to an Indian catechumen who told a tale of a beautiful lady out of the dry hills of the region, asking for a chapel, which, of course, he had no money to build.  The bishop put him off, “Ask the Lady for a sign” the bishop told Juan Diego and dismissed him.

The disappointed man returned sheepishly to his beautiful Lady in the Hills and asked for a sign.  “Go to the top of that hill” she told him “and gather the white roses that you find there.” Poor little lady.  She was not from this area.  No roses grow there in wintertime, and he told her so.  She smiled and said, “My son, go get the roses.”  To humor this charming young women who knew nothing of Mexican horticulture, he climbed the hill.  He found a gorgeous bush full of roses.  As if in a dream, he cut them, arranged them in his apron, and returned to the Lady awaiting him where she had appeared earlier.  She arranged them with her own hands and instructed him to show them only to the bishop.  The bishop fell to his knees upon seeing them, moved, not by the roses, but by the picture of herself that our Lady had imprinted on Juan Diego’s apron.  That apron can still be seen to this day in the Great Basilica that stands on the site of the apparitions in Mexico City.  The devotion to our Lady of Guadalupe has been one of the most powerful spiritual forces in the Church in America and remains so today.  We are grateful to her for conquering our New World for her Son to so great a degree.  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 | December 8, 2017

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (8 Dec 2017)

This morning, as we gathered in our house chapel to celebrate Mass on this beautiful Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, we were very much aware that Our Lady under that title is the patroness of our country.  One of our Vietnamese brothers spoke of the new chapel of Our Lady of Lavang which has just recently been installed in the national shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.  Another reminisced over a beautiful retreat that he once made at this time of year at the Trappist monastery in South Carolina and some of the insights that he gained about the conception of Our Lady in preparation for the conception of her Divine Son.  And I had nothing quite so striking to add to our meditations, but I did remember and share with my brothers a memory that comes back from my childhood.  

At Our Lady of Good Counsel School in New Orleans where I was educated in grade school by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, we sang hymns and parts of the Mass every morning.  In those days, everything at Mass was in Latin, and Sister Matthias would explain to us what the Latin words meant so that we would comprehend what we were singing. I remember to this day a Latin antiphon which says: “Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula originalis non est in te”.  I was only seven when I learned those Latin words and their meaning, but somehow they made an impression.  You never know what is going to impress children.  They mean “You are all beautiful, O Mary, and the original stain is not in you.”  Today, Catholics throughout the world are singing those same words or ideas in many languages, and those in our country are celebrating our patronal feast day.  

And I am very aware that the same Virgin Mother of Jesus whom we honor in her Immaculate Conception, we also honor as Our Lady of Fatima: she who bears a Muslim name and is mentioned in the Koran, the holy book of Islam.  So I prayed to her at Mass this morning that she will use her powerful intercession with God to bring peace into our world, especially by the conversion of Islam to an adoration and love of her divine Son, and to a deep veneration of her, who is all beautiful, without any stain, either of original or actual sin.  Thank you for allowing God to love you, 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 Message for the Feast of Saint Nicholas (6 Dec 2017)

December 6 is the Commemoration of Saint Nicholas, who is the origin of our Santa Claus.  It always reminds me of one of my favorite stories.  At the risk of being repetitive, I’d like to tell it again this year.  Just after the end of World War II, I began my college career at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama.  Thousands of our military personnel were being released from service and were taking advantage of the GI Bill to complete their education.

One of them who came to Spring Hill was a young man who is now a Benedictine Monk at Saint Bernard’s Monastery in Cullman, Alabama.  In December of 1944, his unit had been temporarily stationed in a small village in Holland.  Knowing of the Dutch tradition of having the children put their shoes outside the door on the night before Saint Nicholas Day, he asked one of the local citizens if they would be doing that again.  The Dutchman sadly told him no because, after four and a half years of terrible Nazi occupation, they had absolutely nothing to give the children, and so the adults had said nothing about it to the children.

My friend was grieved by this.  He went back to his military unit and told the American GIs the problem.  They decided that, with the help of the mess cook who could make cookies and provide some fresh fruit and with the added help of some of the more gifted members of the group who could fashion play things out of the odds and ends found in military camps, they could provide the villagers with some simple things to fill shoes with and delight the children, whose lives had been so deprived and so grim over the past years.

So it was.  The cook made fudge and doughnuts and cookies.  The soldiers brought crude toys fashioned from packing cases and bits of metal.  A tee shirt stuffed with cotton was able to make several dolls.  The soldiers enjoyed the whole thing more than the children did.  But, on the night of December 5, the little shoes appeared at the doors of the villagers houses, and the next day, the children awoke to the wonder of goodies brought during the night by the mysterious and wonderful Saint Nicholas.  Another example of love flowering in the midst of war, goodness in the midst of evil.  Thank you for allowing God to love you, 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 | December 4, 2017

Feast of Saint John of Damascus (4 Dec 2017)

In the 12th Chapter of Saint Luke’s Gospel, we find the delightful figure of speech used by our Lord to describe the kind of welcome to be received by those who are ready for Him when He comes and who enter Heaven.  Jesus says of Himself, “He will put on an apron, sit them down at table, and wait on them.”  (Luke 12:37).  Is that far-fetched?  Is that an exaggeration?  Not at all?

Do you remember what happened in the upper room just before the Last Supper?  Just imagine a stranger coming into that upper room just at that moment.  There are the twelve Apostles gathered around the table, prepared for the Passover meal.  The stranger says to the one who answers the door, which of these men is your leader?  And the Apostle who answers the door points to the least likely of them all. He says, “The one over there, down on the floor, washing the feet of Simon, He is our leader.”  And the stranger thinks to himself, “What kind of a leader is that, who acts like a menial servant and washes the feet of His followers?  Who ever heard of such a thing?”

On that same occasion, one of the Apostles said to Jesus, who had been talking about the Father, “Lord, show us the Father just once, and we will be satisfied.”  And Jesus answered, “He who sees me sees the Father.”  That being the case, we can say to the unbeliever, “We have an unusual God.  Our God washes our feet. Our God died on the Cross for us.  He is certainly different from all of the other ideas of God down through the history of religious thinking.  After His Resurrection, He was found one morning on the beach of the Sea of Galilee crouched down over a fire that He had built, roasting fish for His followers.  This God cooks breakfast for those He loves and has chosen, washes their feet, and died on the Cross for them.  It is not at all improbable that He would put on an apron and wait on them when they enter His Heavenly Home.  That’s very much the sort of God He is.  Thank you for allowing God to love you, 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 | December 1, 2017

Feast of Saint Edmund Campion (1 Dec 2017)

The word “advent” means “an approach, a drawing near, an arrival.” One of the favorite themes of the New Testament is that the Lord is coming, and the early Christians made a prayer out the cry “Maranatha!” which is Aramaic for “Come, Lord Jesus!”  The Holy Season of Advent says to us that the Lord is coming and that we are to wait for Him with eagerness and joyous anticipation.  Christ is He who comes, and we are they who wait.  Time and again in the Gospels Jesus tells us parables about a king or a wealthy man who goes away, leaving his affairs in the hands of his servants.  Some of the servants do well with the master’s money.  Some do not.  When he returns, he finds some of them at their posts doing what they should be doing.  He finds others carousing, amusing the servant girls, beating the men, and generally behaving like barbarians.  Those who have used his money well and are found doing what they should are praised and rewarded.  The others are punished.

God has brought us all out of nothingness into being.  He has given us all sorts of gifts and talents, including our human nature, with its intelligence and freedom of choice.  Then He gives us a life to live and in time will return and ask us to render an account as to what we did with what he gave us.  What we have done and what we will be doing when He comes—perhaps with no warning at all—will determine our eternal future.

The Holy Season of Advent is a time of waiting for our God.  To wait means to hold ourselves in constant anticipation of a future event—in this case the coming of the Lord at the moment of our death.  Many of the Saints have counseled us to live each day as if it were our last.  It might be, and one of them certainly will be our last.  Let our eyes scan the horizon for the coming Savior.  Let our hearts be fixed on Him.  Let our behavior be what he would want.   Come Lord Jesus!   He came once as a baby in Bethlehem.  He will come again as a Judge, but it is the same loving and lovable Lord.  So we pray, “Come Lord Jesus!” And, in preparation for that moment, we say to Him, “Here we are Lord, we are waiting in this time of Advent for your arrival.”  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 | November 30, 2017

Feast of Saint Andrew (30 Nov 2017)

Today we observe the end of November as we are about to begin the Holy Season of Advent.  As always, we should thank God for the blessings of the month that has just ended, consecrate the new month now beginning, and then, in this case, we ought to begin Advent in a holy manner.  The other night, I was attending a meeting of elderly people who cannot bear the thought of making any changes in the way that they have lived since Columbus discovered America.  They were lamenting the fact that the calendar of December has become so crowded that there really is no time for the Christmas party of their organization.  So, I suggested that we might want to give up the practice of a Christmas party in December and to have a Mardi Gras party or even an Epiphany party.  Well!  You would have thought that I had suggested murder! No indeed!  It has always been this way and we absolutely cannot change it now, so we will have the Christmas party, grumbling all the time about the fact that there are too many activities in December.

Wouldn’t it be nice to gather in our own living rooms each night during advent and make homemade liturgical ornaments for the Christmas tree out of some of last year’s Christmas cards, or using popcorn for the decoration of the tree, and then pray one decade of the Rosary and think a little about the various figures in the stories of Jesus’s birth—the Archangel Gabriel, our Lady, Saint Joseph, Elizabeth, Zachary, Saint John the Baptist, the Emperor Caesar Augustus, the innkeeper at Bethlehem who had to turn the Holy Family away, the shepherds, the angels who appeared to them, the terribly evil King Herod.   There could be an Advent hymn or the learning of new Christmas Carols.  Very little effort, practically no money required, and all the simplicity and joy of a religious celebration among family.  Think about it. 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.

On our recent pilgrimage to the Shrines of our Lady in Western Europe, the first one we visited was at Fatima in Portugal, where our Lady appeared to the three children in 1917 and identified herself by saying, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.”  She asked for prayers and penance, especially for the praying of the Rosary, and promised that Russia would be converted and then there would be peace.  This in the very year of the Russian Revolution, when the Evil Empire of Communism began its seventy-year reign of misery in many parts of the world.  Except in China and Cuba, Communism is now dead.  In Cuba, it is dying of anemia and starvation.  And China, as always, is swallowing up her enemies by the sheer size of the country and the ungovernability of her many peoples, languages, territories, and traditions.

Now, we are confronted with Islamic radicalism, which revealed itself to the world so horribly on September 11.  We Catholics must be careful not to identify radicalism and terrorism with Islam, which is a religion adhered to by millions, just as we don’t want the non-Catholic world identifying us with the Irish Republican Army, which calls itself Catholic but which is, in effect, a bunch of murderers and terrorists.

Back to Fatima.  The town of Fatima in Portugal got its name from the daughter of Mohammad, the founder of Islam.  For about 800 years, the Muslims occupied what is now Portugal and Spain and left many place names there, and Fatima was named, so the story goes, for a young Muslim who converted to Catholicism and who lived there and bore the name of Mohammad’s daughter.  Archbishop Sheen often made the point that our Lady would not have appeared at this particular place unless she had wanted to indicate a connection between herself and Islam.  She knew that she would be called Our Lady of Fatima.  She knew that her appearances there would make Fatima a household word throughout the Catholic world.  It’s like calling her Our Lady of the Daughter of Mohammad.

Communism is almost gone, but Islam—the religion of Mohammad—is very much with us, and we are fighting a war against its more aggressive and radical elements.  Therefore, let us have recourse to our Lady of Fatima, about whom the holy book of Islam—the Koran—speaks highly.  Let us ask her constantly to bring throughout the world her Divine Son and to made peace between the Cross—the symbol of Christianity—and the Crescent—the symbol of Islam, remembering that the Mother of God is often portrayed as standing in glory upon the crescent moon.  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 | November 22, 2017

Feast of Saint Cecilia (22 Nov 2017)

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.  Let our Thanksgiving be no less sincere than theirs.  Let us remember too that the center of the whole Thanksgiving observance is our generous God and not a baked turkey. 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.

Our national celebration of Thanksgiving is unique in all the world, as far as I know.  I’m not aware of any other country that has a Thanksgiving Day.  It is to the credit of the American people that we have celebrated it and preserved it during the entire history of our nation.  I’m surprised that the ACLU or some similar organization has not tried to get rid of it, since it is essentially religious.  If you are going to give thanks, then to whom are you going to give thanks?  By its very nature, Thanksgiving requires someone to thank, and, of course, that someone is God.

So even though the non-religious people in our country make a baked turkey, rather than the Almighty God, the center of their Thanksgiving observance, Thanksgiving is a religious celebration, and we, who do believe in God and do wish to express our gratitude to Him for all that He does for us, can make of this national holiday a uniquely reverent and devout celebration.

Let us remember our miliary personnel as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year.  I have some idea how they feel.  I have celebrated the Fourth of July a number of times outside the United States, and once, I celebrated Thanksgiving in Rome.  It wasn’t the same as being at home with family and friends in the heart of our own nation which is observing the day together as a people.  This year our military forces are deployed in Afghanistan and in many other countries of the world.  Thanksgiving will remind them of home, families, and their past lives as few other things can do.  Let us pray for them that this will be the last time they must be away from their homes and families because of world hostilities and let us pray for the Peace of Christ throughout this world, where so many misguided people find war so easy and peace so difficult.  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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