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.

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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   

Posted by: fvbcdm | June 11, 2018

Feast of Saint Barnabus (11 June 2018)     

 About the turn of the 20th century there were in France a journalist named Felix Leseur and his wife, Elizabeth.  He was a lapsed Catholic, who, like so many of them, was extremely antagonistic toward the Church.  She was a devout Catholic.  They had no children.  Elizabeth contracted some crippling disease which eventually kept her totally bedridden.  For nine years, she remained in bed, suffering both physically and above all, spiritually.  Her husband would not allow a priest to come into their home, and in those days, only a priest could bring Holy Communion to a shut-in person.  So, thanks to the cruelty of her husband, she spent the last nine years of her life without the Eucharist.

When she died, Felix found among her papers a letter she had written to him, to be opened after her death.  In it, she told him that she had nothing to leave him except the nine years of her sufferings.  Those she gladly left to him, especially in the prayer that he would return to God, the Church, and the Sacraments.  He contemptuously threw the letter into the fire and thought no more about it.

Some time after that, he decided to put his journalistic skills to good use.  He would go down to Lourdes in southwestern France and prove once and for all that the whole phenomenon of Lourdes was a gigantic hoax perpetrated by the Church upon the gullible people of France and the world.  So he went to Lourdes and began his investigations.  It wasn’t long before he realized that there was no hoax there; Lourdes was genuine, authentic, and miraculous.  His own intellectual integrity forced him to admit that he had been terribly wrong and that the finger of God was indeed in that place.  He returned to the Sacraments which he had not received since he was a child, and then entered one of our Dominican seminaries in France where in due time he was ordained to the priesthood.  He then returned to Lourdes and began a weekly news magazine about the grotto and all that happened there.  It was, and is, called La Gazette de la Grotte – the Gazette of the Grotto.  It is still being published regularly, in a number of languages.

Felix Leseur repented profoundly for the suffering he had caused his wife, and attributed to that suffering the grace of his conversion.  The cause for her canonization has been introduced in Rome. She is a beautiful example of fidelity, of patience, and of the value of suffering in union with the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Today is the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, probably the most important devotion that we enjoy in our lives as Catholics since it celebrates, contemplates, and incorporates into our lives the immense love of God for us as manifested in the heart of our Divine Lord.  Our Savior himself revealed to the world the love he has for us when he appeared repeatedly to Saint Margaret Mary back in the 17th century and showed her his heart, saying to her, “Behold this heart which has loved men so much and has been so little loved in return.”  All of the warmth, the tenderness, the affection, and the self-giving devotion of the incarnate God for us, his human brothers and sisters, is celebrated in the devotion to the sacred heart of Christ, our Lord. That human heart was formed in the womb of his virgin mother and is the symbol to us of God’s love for humankind.  Remaining God, he became a man; remaining totally spiritual in his divinity, he took upon himself a body in his humanity, and that body contains a beating heart, the symbol of love, of God’s affection and care for us.  How blessed we are by the knowledge that our God is a God of love, of goodness, of concern for us!

June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of which we have just spoken briefly. And, as always, we dedicate this month to the love and service of God in our lives and ask that this new chapter in our lives be lived according to the holy will of God, so that it will be a fitting preparation for our entrance into eternal 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

 Sometimes things occur in the world without the world’s realizing just how momentous and important they are.  In today’s newspaper, for example, we find that Russia is about to be admitted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, to use its more familiar acronym.  You may remember that NATO is one of the international groups that resulted from World War II, the United Nations, and the felt need of the nations of western Europe and America to confront the global threat of Communism which took its marching orders from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.

In 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution that toppled the government of the Czars and substituted for it the murderous era of Bolshevism, Our Lady appeared to the three children at Fatima.  She asked for prayer and penance, and especially the use of the Rosary as a means of prayer for the world.  She said that if the world did not heed her request, there would be a greater war after the one which was then being waged. But she added that “in the end, Russia will be converted and there will be peace.” Her words came to pass just 22 years later when Germany invaded Poland and precipitated World War II, which was followed by some 44 more years of Communist evil in our world.  But finally, in the late 1980’s, Russian Communism did collapse and was succeeded by a clumsy kind of democracy in that huge part of the world.  Religion is now again tolerated in the formerly atheistic empire, and what seemed unthinkable back in the days of the Cold War has come to pass: Russia has applied for, and is being admitted into NATO.  Russia is now seen as a friend and an ally, not an enemy and a threat to the west.

From the religious point of view, Russia has not been totally converted.  We look forward to the day when Orthodoxy returns to the unity of Rome.  I hope that that is what Our Lady meant by her prophecy.  But at least, Christianity of the Orthodox kind is again being practiced by millions of Russians after having been forced underground for some 70 years.  And prayer and penance will eventually bring about the desire of Christ: “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.

Posted by: fvbcdm | June 7, 2018

Feast of Saint Norbert (6 June 2018)

Today is D-Day, that is, the anniversary of the massive invasion of Normandy by the Allied forces to begin their liberation of continental Europe from Naziism.  That was [74] years ago today.  It took almost exactly a year to bring about a surrender of the Nazi forces in Europe, and another three and a half months to force the Japanese to end the war in the Pacific.

In today’s Vatican Information Service, there is a copy of the letter which our Holy Father has sent to Queen Elizabeth of England congratulating her on the 60th anniversary of the beginning of her reign.  I remember that first D-Day and then the surrenders of Germany and Japan.  And surely the Queen, who is nearly four years older than I, remembers those events more clearly than I do.  I say these things today only to point out that she and I are of basically the same age, and as we come to the end of our lives, the last generation of those who remember those events is coming to a close. Let us thank God today that the Allied forces won World War II.  Let us thank God likewise for the more enlightened treatment that the Allies gave to their previous enemies, so that now we, the Germans, the Italians, and the Japanese, are no longer enemies but rather collaborators in the field of world politics and economics. Our Lord told Saint Peter in the Garden of Gethsemani, “Put away the sword.  Those who take up the sword, die by the sword.”  These words of the Savior have certainly proven true in our own experience. May all the nations of the world come to recognize their truth and value, and thus peace can prevail over all of us.  Our God is a God of 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.

Posted by: fvbcdm | June 6, 2018

Feast of Saint Boniface (5 June 2018)

One day this week I baptized a baby whose older brother is in first grade.  The first-grade teacher in the parochial school of that parish asked if she could bring her class to be present at the baptism and learn more about that sacrament.  So I tried to make of the ceremony as much of a teaching tool as I could.  I was impressed at how much the children knew about the sacraments to begin with.  They could name all seven of them; they knew that by baptism we become members of Our Lord’s church; some of them could even tell me who baptized Jesus.  And they knew that Our Lord was baptized in the Jordan river, even though they weren’t too sure where the Jordan river is. One of them thought that it might be in Alabama.

After the baby had been baptized, we came to that wonderful moment when the liturgy invites all those present who are old enough to say the Lord’s Prayer in the name of the newborn baby, who now has a right to call God “Our Father” by reason of his baptism, but can’t do so because of his very young age.  I tried to get across to the first-graders what a privilege it is for us to be members of God’s family, so that He really is our Father and we can call Him by that beautiful name, given to us by Jesus. And I tried to impress upon them that by saying the Our Father this time, they were speaking in the name of our new little brother in the family of God.  This is a rather abstract concept, and I’m not sure they all realized what was happening, but maybe they did.  In any case, it’s a beautiful moment when we who can understand what is happening can address the Almighty God as Our Father not only in our own names but in the name of a 7-week-old baby who is now a child of God by the sacrament of baptism.

A very great esteem for the sacraments, especially that of baptism, is certainly a sign of our faith.  Let us try always to be grateful for our own baptism, for the life of faith to which it introduces us, and to our parents who took care to see that most of us were baptized at the very dawn of our lives.  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 1, 2018

Feast of Saint Justin Martyr (1 June 2018)

Today brings us to the beginning of the month of June, dedicated as it is to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On June 8, we will celebrate the solemnity of the Sacred Heart, in which we adore our Divine Lord as a human being who loves.  He loves God the Father and God the Holy Spirit; he loves the angels, and he loves us, his fellow human beings. And because we think of the heart as the seat of love, we constantly speak of the heart in connection with love, devotion, affection, commitment, and human unity and deep friendship.

Thus it was only logical that in the 17th century, when Our Lord appeared to Saint Margaret Mary, a French nun in the city of Paray-le-Monial, he appeared with his heart visible before his body, glowing with love. “Behold this heart which has loved humanity so much,” he told her, “and has been so little loved in return.”  The two great commandments of Christ’s new law are love of God and love of neighbor.  Therefore it is only logical that our Redeemer, the perfect man, the exemplary human being, is one who loves to the extent of his power—that is to say, infinitely.

In today’s newspaper, the priest who has renounced his Catholic priesthood and membership in the Church because of his involvement with a woman, is quoted as saying that Christianity is all about forgiveness.  There is much truth in that statement, of course, but forgiveness presupposes offense.  If there is no offense, there is nothing to forgive.  And offense against God and neighbor means the violation of God’s law.  So it is not true to say that Christianity is ALL about forgiveness.  It also contains the elements of law, of good and evil, right and wrong, obedience and disobedience, the need for repentance and reparation.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, propagated by Jesus Himself, leads us to know and love the goodness, kindness, and mercy of Our Savior. But we open ourselves to that goodness, kindness, and mercy only by repentance, contrition, and turning away from sin back to the friendship with Our Lord.  The one who continues to sin seriously and refuses to come back to a life of loving obedience to God is not eligible for divine mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  Christ is a loving redeemer; he is not a pushover.  His sufferings and death on the cross were too painful for him to simply say, about sin, “Oh, well; it doesn’t matter. I love all; I forgive all, even when they continue offending me.”  Rather, he says to us: “I love you; come back to me. Sin no more. Be my friend in time and in eternity.” 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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