Posted by: fvbcdm | July 27, 2016

Feast of Saint Constantine (27 July 2016)

The parable of the Good Samaritan told by Our Lord is one of the most basic statements of what Christianity is all about. We call God “Our Father,” following the direction of Jesus. But if God is OUR Father, then we are brothers and sisters. And even those who don’t call God “Our Father” are his children, and therefore our brothers and sisters under the universal fatherhood of God.

When we see someone in need, we are bound by the law of Christ to help him or her if we can. And if we take this law of Christ very seriously, we will actually seek opportunities to be of help to others. It would be very good if each of us would examine his and her conscience each night, asking oneself: What have I done today to help someone? Have I sought and found some way to serve Jesus by serving someone else? Remember: “Whatever you do for even the least of my brothers, you do for me.” And that principle of Jesus is very closely allied to another of his rules for authentic Christian living: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

Catholic Daily Message for the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne (26 July 2016)

I have received a surprising amount of communication recently about the Holy Father’s recent motu proprio concerning the use of the Tridentine Mass in Latin. People ask me what I think of it; that’s not an easy question to answer, because of my unusual situation in history. I have been attending daily as well as Sunday Mass since I was in high school, and thus until my entrance in our Dominican novitiate in 1956, I experienced the Tridentine Mass in Latin every day for years. It was all I knew, and I loved it.

But we Dominicans, from the time of our Dominican Pope Saint Pius V in 1570 until 1972, had our own “rite” as it was then called for celebrating Mass. It was much simpler than the Tridentine Mass, much more like the Mass that we are using now, and, in my opinion, much better precisely because of its simplicity. Thus, from the day of my ordination in 1963 until the changes of 1972, I celebrated Mass daily and on Sundays in our Dominican rite. I had never actually celebrated the Tridentine Mass until I got back to New Orleans in 1996 and was asked to celebrate the Tridentine Mass at Saint Patrick Parish in downtown New Orleans when the priests there were away. That parish has one Tridentine Mass each Sunday. Only then did I realize how much more complicated it is than our present Mass, and I found myself often confused by the rubrics. I, personally, would not want to go back to that, and I am quite sure that we won’t do so to any great degree. Pope Benedict has made this concession for the benefit of those who keep asking for the Tridentine Mass, and have even left the Church and gone into schism in order to have it. But they constitute a very small percentage of the Catholics of the world, and their numbers will be diminishing in the future, I suspect.

However, I also see a value in the use of Latin. During my nine years at Holy Rosary Parish in Houston, where there is one Mass in our new form but in Latin each Sunday, I was very happy to celebrate that way, and hope that it is retained there. People from all over the Houston area come to that parish because they like the new form in Latin, especially when a good choir does the Latin chants.

However, we must bear in mind that our priests who have been ordained during the past thirty years or so know practically no Latin and would not want to have to learn it. And furthermore, many priests who must celebrate more than one Mass a day will probably resist the use of the Tridentine Mass, since it has a totally different set of readings from our new form, and therefore they would probably have to prepare two homilies for a given day. That is not as easy as it might appear.

Time will tell. I would hope that in the future, the Tridentine Mass will be given an honorable burial, but the new form will be celebrated in Latin in some places and at some times, and that the Church will go from the inferior music that we’ve been hearing at Mass for the past 30 years to some of the great church music of the past which is perfectly suitable for congregational use today. There are beautiful hymns by Catholics like Palestrina, Vitoria, and Mozart, and Protestants like J.S. Bach, Haydn, and Handel. It’s time for us to grow up from the sophomoric rejection of the past that took place right after Vatican II to a judicious use of the beauty of the past to which we have every right.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

Posted by: fvbcdm | July 25, 2016

Feast of Saint James the Apostle (25 July 2016)

 Today we celebrate the feast of Saint James, one of the twelve apostles of Our Divine Lord, and evidently one of his favorites. On three occasions that we know of from the gospels, Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him to be present where the others were not taken. One of those moments was the raising of the little daughter of Jairus from death; another was the magnificent moment of the transfiguration, and the third was the terrible moment of Our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Olives just after the Last Supper.

James and John were the sons of a fisherman named Zebedee and his wife, Salome. They lived and fished in Capernaum at the north end of the Sea of Galilee. They would surely have known the other set of brothers among the apostles, Peter and Andrew, who lived and fished in that same town and on that same lake.

Just recently, our Holy Father issued a statement concerning the Church. It has caused quite a bit of interest, which is good because it becomes the occasion for reflection on the basic meaning of “church” in our theology. In connection with that statement, the question was raised: why does the Holy See refer to some Christian groups as “churches,” while others are called “communities.” And the answer given by the Holy See is this: a “church” must have the power of the sacraments given to the apostles by Our Lord and passed down in unbroken succession from one generation to the next. That would apply, in addition to the Catholic Church, to the various Orthodox churches—Greek, Russian, Syrian, etc. These bodies recognize the validity of the Sacrament of Holy Orders by which men are ordained bishops, priests, and deacons, and have very carefully kept the form of this sacrament. Thus, there are true bishops, priests, and deacons outside the community of Catholicism. Our Greek Orthodox brothers have the true Mass and authentic Eucharist even though we do not receive their sacraments except in extraordinary cases since their refusal to accept the authority of the Pope places them outside full fellowship with us.

The same is true with the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre; they have very carefully kept the sacraments and apostolic succession even though they have been excommunicated for ordaining bishops to serve their own communities without the authority of the Pope. And among our Anglican and Episcopalian brothers, there are those who, having some doubt about the validity of their own ordinations, have gone to Greek Orthodox bishops for re-ordination. Thus they, too, are able to celebrate valid Masses and produce the true Eucharist.

As we celebrate this feast of one of Our Lord’s twelve apostles, we reflect upon those words in the first eucharistic prayer at Mass where we pray for “all who hold and teach the catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles.” That is what we mean when we say that the Church is apostolic—it derives its spiritual powers in unbroken succession from the original apostles. The Pope is the successor of Saint Peter, our first Pope. The other bishops are the successors of the other apostles, and thus this immense gift of sacramentality comes down from Christ our Lord to us through this continuum which we call “apostolic succession.” Let us be grateful for this, and remember that the Scriptures speak of the heavenly Jerusalem, on whose twelve entrances are written the names of the “twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

 

Posted by: fvbcdm | July 22, 2016

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene (22 July 2016)

I come with some sadness to record this Daily Message this morning. Just a few minutes ago, I read the New Orleans newspaper, the Times Picayune, as I do each day and there discovered to my sorrow that one of our United States Senators for Louisiana, David Vitter, has been shown to have been a frequenter of prostitutes in Washington some time ago. Vitter is a Catholic.  Vitter has consistently and successfully run for congressman and then senator. Vitter has championed the right to life of the unborn and the sanctity of marriage. From a moral point of view, Vitter was thought to be one of the brightest lights on the Louisiana horizon, which has rarely been the case, since Louisiana’s politicians have been notoriously corrupt and immoral.  And now, we find that Vitter’s name appeared on a list of clients of one of the Washington “madams.”

There is an old dictum in Latin that says “Corruptio optimi pessima,” which means “The corruption of the best is the worst.” If names like those of Huey or Earl Long or, outside Louisiana, Ted Kennedy or people of that ilk were found among the clients of prostitutes, no one would have thought much of it, given their character and their history. But when a man like David Vitter turns up in those categories, it is quite a shock. He is a brilliant young lawyer, a Rhodes scholar, and product of some of the most prestigious schools in the world. He is a husband and father of four young children. The people of Louisiana were proud of him, liked what he stood for, and elected him first to the House of Representatives and then to the Senate. And now, this.

I do not wish to condemn him here, but simply to point out to those who read these words the grave responsibility that people in public life have to practice what they preach. When a private citizen sins, only those immediately involved suffer. We can imagine how his wife felt when she first learned of his adulteries. There is no way that this can be kept permanently from his children. One day, they will know if they don’t know already. But when a man in public life, especially one who has stood for moral uprightness and family values, is shown to be an adulterer, the thing becomes far more harmful. Can that marriage last? I hope so, but time will tell. Can his children ever respect him? Again, I hope so. Will this end his political career, which can be such a great opportunity to serve God and neighbor? That, too, remains to be seen. But if Vitter knew, during his encounters with the prostitutes, what would result from them, would he have gone ahead with them? I don’t think so. He is now paying a far higher price than that which he and his extra-marital women agreed upon.

He, his wife, his children, his friends, his political associates, and all of us who admired him and voted for him are wounded by this turn of events. We all becomes victims of the so-called “sex revolution.” It gives us a clearer idea of why God has said and continues to say to us “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

Posted by: fvbcdm | July 19, 2016

Feast of Saint John Plessington (19 July 2016)

Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, lived about eighteen hundred years before Our Lord. He and his wife, Sarah, were old and had had no children. It was the sorrow of their lives. But one day, three strangers came to their tent in the desert country near the Holy Land and told them that by the following year, they would have a baby son. Sarah, listening inside the tent to the strangers talking to her husband outside, laughed at what seemed an impossible promise. But sure enough, the following year, she had given birth to their son Isaac, old as she was.

When Isaac was still just a boy, God visits Abraham again. Take your son—your only and beloved son, Isaac, and offer him to me as a burnt offering, a holocaust. Can you imagine what went through the mind of Abraham when he heard that? “Does he want me to kill my son? And even if I do such a terrible thing, how then will God’s promises about my becoming the father of an enormously numerous progeny be fulfilled? Why should Sarah and I have been enabled to have a child at our age if we are going to kill him before he is old enough to children of his own?” The place of sacrifice which God indicated to Abraham was a three days’ journey from his home. He took Isaac and two servants and began the terribly sad trip to that place, called Moriah. Imagine the grief, the questions, the failure to comprehend, which went through his mind during those terrible days and miles of that journey. The boy, Isaac, who is carrying the wood for the fire, even asks: we have the fire and the wood for the sacrifice, but what about the victim? With what must have been a breaking heart, Abraham parried the question by saying to his son, “God will provide the victim, my son.” Then, as we know, at the last moment, when Abraham had tied Isaac and laid him on the altar and taken the knife in his hand to kill his son, the reprieve came: “Do not lay your hand on the boy. Do not do the least thing to him!” We heave a sigh of relief as we read that, and we can imagine the relief that Abraham felt at this last-minute turn of events.

In the first Eucharistic Prayer used at Mass, we speak of Abraham as “our father in faith.” We might also call him our father in trust, our father in obedience. “I know now how devoted you are to God,” the divine messenger says to him, “since you did not withhold from him your own beloved son.”

We all have moments when we don’t understand why God does, or allows, some of the things that happen in our lives. But if we are true children of Abraham, we will do God’s will and cooperate with God’s plan. And it will come out for the best, as we will one day understand.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

Posted by: fvbcdm | July 15, 2016

Feast of Saint Bonaventure (15 July 2016)

Traditionally, the month of July has been dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus. We might well give some thought to that devotion today. We can approach it in two ways: either historically or sacramentally. Actually, the two are aspects of the same reality.

First, let us remember that in the Old Testament, God chose the blood of sacrificial animals as one of the principal means by which his people were to worship him in the temple of Jerusalem. And he also chose blood as the means by which his people were to be saved from slavery in Egypt and led on their way to freedom in the Promised Land.

The Jewish people were instructed to slay the passover lamb and smear its blood on their doorposts. The angel of death was to “pass over” the land of Egypt, and pass over those houses marked with the blood of the lamb. In the other houses, he was to kill the firstborn son.

Blood took on a very sacred mystique in the Old Testament. The Jews were not allowed to eat blood (as we south Louisianians do when we make “red boudin” or blood sausage); even if they came into contact with blood, they had to undergo a ritual purification. So you can imagine how shocking it was to his hearers when Jesus, in the sixth chapter of Saint John’s gospel, told them that he would give them his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. Some “walked with him no more,” so repelled they were by this statement of his. Yet, on the night before his death, he changed bread into his flesh and wine into his blood and gave these tremendous gifts to his apostles and all the world for our spiritual nourishment.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. On the day following that Last Supper, our blessed Savior shed his precious blood, to the last drops that came out of his heart when the centurion opened the side of the dead Christ as he hung lifeless on the cross. Indeed, “in blood there is life.” In the blood of Jesus is our eternal life.

Now that the physical body of Jesus has shed his blood for us and then recovered it by his resurrection from the dead, so now we worship God principally in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in which we offer to the Father the gifts of Christ’s flesh and blood under the appearances of bread and wine, and then receive these most sacred gifts for our spiritual nutrition.

The new Handbook of Indulgences, published by the Holy See in 1986, includes this prayer: Father, by the blood of your Son, you have set us free and saved us from death. Continue your work of love within us that by constantly celebrating the mystery of our salvation we may reach the eternal life it promises. We ask this through Christ out Lord. Amen.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown. O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

Posted by: fvbcdm | July 15, 2016

Comm. of Blessed Kateri Tekawitha (14 July 2016)

Every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. By their fruits you will know them. These are the words of our Divine Lord. Is Jesus talking about horticulture? No. He is talking about the spiritual life, using a tree as a metaphor for a human being, and the fruit of the tree for human actions.

So, what kind of tree are you? I hope that you are, and correctly call yourself, a good tree. But if you are, then you must prove it by the fruit you bear. What are you doing today to give evidence of your goodness? Have you done, or will you do, things that will prove your goodness? Well, what CAN you do in that regard?

You can pray. Prayer is one of the noblest of all human activities and lies at the basis of all spiritual well-being. You can perform your duties as well as possible, so that what you do will reflect the quality of your personality. No employer wants slipshod employees in his business, but rather people who always do their best. You can look around and observe others, asking yourself: how can I help them? What can I do to improve their situation and, by doing that, to improve myself as well? What contribution can I make to the little world in which I live to make it a better world for those who live in it? You can try to learn something new today. You can look deeply at the world around you and praise God for its beauty and its design and its usefulness to us.

Christ our Lord calls you a tree, and wants you to be a good tree, a tree that bears good fruit. Well, don’t just sit there putting forth a bunch of leaves so that people will think you’re pretty. Start producing!  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown. O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

Posted by: fvbcdm | July 11, 2016

Feast of Saint Benedict (11 July 2016)

When the College of Cardinals chose Josef Cardinal Ratzinger to be the new Pope after the death of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger chose the name of Benedict as his papal name. Benedict XVI. So today, the feast of Saint Benedict, is his name day, the feast of one of the patron saints of the continent of Europe. Saint Benedict is also the father of all religious life in the western world, and therefore all of us who have professed religious vows look to him as a special person in our lives.

Back in the 400s, as the Roman Empire in the west was crumbling due to a number of factors, a young man was born in central Italy who, in his youth, went to Rome for an education. But Rome was in a deplorable condition as civilization there was falling apart and chaos was taking over.  The young man—Benedict—sought solitude to be able to pray and study and immerse himself in the Christian, Catholic faith which he treasured. He went to a place east of Rome called Subiaco—a rough, mountainous place where he lived as a hermit for a time until others joined him in his secluded life of prayer and study.  They outgrew the Subiaco area, more vertical than horizontal, and so Benedict went farther south along the way toward Naples where he settled on a hill called Monte Cassino. There he built a monastery and wrote a rule for the government of his monks. The Rule of Saint Benedict is very probably the most influential document ever produced by Christianity other than the New Testament itself. He wrote it about the year 530. Now, fifteen centuries later, it is still the basis of Benedictine life throughout the world, and has been the rule of life of thousands of monks, nuns, and active religious and laity down through the ages. From the beginning of Benedictine life in approximately 530 until about the year 1000, the Benedictine religious community was the only organized religious life in the western world. They had at least a 500-year head start on the rest of us—Carthusians, Norbertines, Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, Jesuits, Daughters of Charity, Sisters of Mercy, etc. who came later.

At the beginning of his Rule, Saint Benedict tells us that anyone is welcome in his monasteries who is truly seeking God. That is a beautiful concept: TRULY SEEKING GOD. Ask yourself often: Am I truly seeking God? He also says in his rule, Let absolutely nothing be preferred to Christ. Again, we should ask ourselves, Am I giving Christ the number 1 priority in my life and in all that I do? Do I embrace whatever leads me to Christ, and reject whatever alienates me from him? Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

Posted by: fvbcdm | July 7, 2016

Feast of Saint Felix of Nantes (7 July 2016)

When does a human being begin to exist? That is a terribly important question, particularly in terms of moral theology and the sanctity of human life.

The Catholic Church believes and teaches that human life begins with conception, that is, when an ovum is impregnated by a spermatozoan. We know by science that at that moment, the entire genetic make-up of that resulting fertilized ovum is different from the genetic make-up of the mother and the father, and has an identity of its own. It is at that moment that a human being, distinct from the father and the mother, begins to exist, and must be given the same respect that a 40-year-old man or woman deserves.

From this principle of the beginning of human life, all sorts of corollaries flow. It is gravely wrong, immoral, and sinful to cause the death and destruction of that fertilized ovum, or the embryo or the fetus which develop from that tiny beginning of human life. This is why abortion is a grave sin and a crime. It deliberately destroys a new human being, and therefore is murder. And this is the same reason why we are unalterably opposed to what is called embryonic stem-cell research. In this case, an ovum is fertilized or impregnated in a laboratory environment, and then destroyed to obtain its genetic material for research purposes. It is the deliberate taking of a human life, usually one that has been illicitly brought into being, not that a child might be born of a legitimate marriage, but just to be used for laboratory experimental purposes. Human beings simply MAY NOT be produced for that purpose. We are not guinea pigs; we are human persons made in the image and likeness of God, who says to us: THOU SHALT NOT KILL. The Church is all for research so as to improve the health and well-being of the human race and its members, but to kill a human being for that purpose is gravely evil. And to kill a human being simply to avoid the burden of a normal pregnancy, or the shame of a pregnancy outside of marriage, or to prevent the birth of a child which is thought to have defects which would affect its later life—all these things are gravely wrong.

There are those who are misled by foolish criteria which have no bearing upon the essence of the case. Just because an embryo is very small and not recognizable to the naked eye as a man or woman is irrelevant. Just because a baby is still in the womb rather than outside the mother’s body is irrelevant. In both those cases, the embryo or fetus is a human being and has his or her right to life. To destroy that life is a gross violation of the fifth commandment.

Recently, when we celebrated the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, we read the words of God to Jeremiah the prophet: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Notice: BEFORE I FORMED YOU IN THE WOMB. Even though the gestation of a human child takes place in the mother’s womb by the marvelous processes of nature, it is God who designed those processes and brings them to fruition. A young woman who knows absolutely nothing about biology, anatomy, bio-chemistry, or bio-physics, can conceive and form a baby in her womb. Whose is the design behind that? Certainly not hers. God says to each of us as he said to Jeremiah: I FORMED YOU IN THE WOMB. Not your mother, nor your father, nor the blind forces of nature, but I, WHO AM GOD. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown. O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

Posted by: fvbcdm | July 5, 2016

Feast of Saint Anthony Zaccaria (5 July 2016)

In the Book of Revelation we read these words addressed by the sacred author to God our Father: You have created all things. By your will they came to be and were made.

Now, let’s make that more personal and more applicable to ourselves. Let’s paraphrase it by saying: By your will I came to be and was made. For all eternity, God has known that he was going to make you. He knew the exact moment when your body would be conceived and he would create your immortal soul to infuse into that body. He knew exactly how he would make you, with what characteristics, talents, personality traits, strengths, weaknesses, and all the other elements that go to make up each human being. He knew every moment of your life, every opportunity you would have, every grace that he would give you, all your good works and your sins.

Each of us has a unique set of fingerprints by which we can be identified and set apart from any other person on earth. If that is true of our fingerprints, how much more true is it of our personalities.

I like to think of our human family as a great symphony orchestra, each person playing a different instrument. When you attend a symphony concert, you see the musicians playing violins, violas, oboes, bassoons, French horns, English horns, harps, trumpets, clarinets, flutes, piccolos, glockenspiels, drums, cymbals, etc. Without each of those instruments, the music would be less rich, less varied, less beautiful. And so with us; each of our personalities is an instrument that God has given us to play in the great symphony of human life, whereby we can give him praise and glory. No one else can give him the adoration and praise and honor and glory he expects of you. Either you give it to him, or he will not receive it.

Think of that often, my dear friends. Try to use your personality in such a way that you will make your contribution to the great human symphony which rises up to the praise and glory of God.   Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

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