Posted by: fvbcdm | March 27, 2015

Feast of Saint Rupert of Salzburg (27 March 2015)

Catholic Daily Message for the Feast of Saint Rupert of Salzburg (27 March 2015)

This weekend brings us to Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. This week, and Easter Sunday to which it leads, are the high point of our entire Church year because they present to us in our sacred liturgy and our prayer life the climax of the life, death, and resurrection of Our Divine Lord.
During this weekend, let us keep in our minds and hearts the fact that on the Saturday night before he died, Jesus was entertained by Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus in the village of Bethany, on the far side of the Mount of Olives. They wished to show their gratitude to him for having raised Lazarus from the dead a few days before. It was at that supper that Mary of Bethany poured a whole bottle of expensive perfume over the feet of Jesus. Judas, always interested in money, objected to “this waste” as he called it. But Our Lord defended Saint Mary and said that what she had done was done in preparation for his burial. He knew clearly that one week from that night, his dead body would be lying cold in the tomb from which he would rise just a few hours later.
Then, on the morning of the following Sunday, Our Lord entered the Holy City astride a donkey, the symbol of peace in Hebrew literature. He paused at the brow of the Mount of Olives to contemplate the beauty of the city and its temple, but wept over it because he knew that just about 40 years later, the Roman armies would totally destroy the city and the temple, leaving “not one stone upon another.” And when some children greeted him joyfully on his way into the city with cries of “Hosanna to the Son of David” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”, the Pharisees reprimanded Him for accepting this kind of welcome that suggested that he was the Christ. His answer was, “If these were to keep quiet, the very stones would cry out!” It was necessary that Jesus, the Messiah, be welcomed and acknowledged upon his entry into Jerusalem for HIS own great passover. 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 | March 26, 2015

Feast of Saint Margaret Clitherow (26 March 2015)

We penetrate more deeply into the holy season of Lent, and we draw nearer to the mystery of the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Our Divine Lord. Jesus presents himself to us under two aspects: as the victim of human evil and as the divine servant who places himself at the service of his fellow human beings, even to the extent of giving his life for their redemption. Greater love, and greater service, than this, is simply non-existent.

What kind of evils surrounded Our Lord during those days leading up to his death? Well, principally the malice and hostility of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes—the religious and political elite of the nation, who were totally opposed to Our Lord because he was saying things that indicated his equality with God the Father. Then there was the attitude of the Roman authority in Judea; Jesus knew that soon, he would be denounced to Pilate, whose permission must be obtained if Jesus was to be killed, which is what the Sanhedrin wanted. And he also knew that Pilate, a pagan politician, had not the slightest interest in either justice, truth, or mercy, but only in keeping a tight lid on the political situation in Judea which was so explosive. We say in our creed every Sunday “He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.” Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent of any crime, but he also knew that the influential people of Jerusalem wanted him dead, and they were getting close to causing a riot or a rebellion. Pilate is certainly not going to risk his political position just to defend one innocent Jew, so he throws Jesus to the lions thirsting for his blood.

But there is more evil than that surrounding Our Lord. When he predicts privately to the apostles that he is about to be delivered up to his own death, you would think that there would be a great outpouring of sympathy and concern, wouldn’t you? But no; Saint Matthew tells us that at that moment, the mother of James and John comes to him with a request. She wants “her boys” to sit on his right hand and his left in his kingdom. Again: politics; the desire for favored positions, authority, power, clout. And then, to add insult to injury, the other ten apostles, hearing Salome asking special favors for her sons, become angry because they, too, want the political plums in this kingdom that Jesus keeps talking about.

Patiently, he explains to them that his kingdom is not like that of earthly kings and potentates. His kingdom is one of service, not of rule and power. The citizens of his kingdom are those who opt to serve the human race, and those who are highest in his kingdom must in fact be the lowest in terms of rendering service to mankind. Christ performed the greatest service possible to the human race by dying on the cross. Is there anything attractive, favorable, and desirable about crucifixion? They don’t grasp that yet. At the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them at Pentecost after Jesus’s ascension into heaven, they will understand. And they will become great in Jesus’s kingdom by their service as bishops which led to a life of persecution and to a martyr’s death for most of them.

So we adore Our Divine Redeemer, our victim, our servant. And we offer ourselves to him as co-victims, fellow-servants. 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 | March 24, 2015

Feast of Saint Catherine of Sweden (24 March 2015)

Let fantasize a bit today. Let’s pretend that it’s the day after the Sabbath in Nazareth when Our Lord was seven years old. The Lord’s day is over, and now the village begins again the activities of the week.

Our Lady has gone earlier to the village well to draw her water for the day; now, she goes to the miller for the flour that she will need for the week. She asks her little son if he wants to come with her. Oh, yes! They will walk down the main street of the village and see all the busy people opening their shops, conversing with one another — a shepherd leading his flock out to pasture, a couple of camels loaded with merchandize for Jerusalem or Damascus.

They make their way to the miller’s house and mill. The miller’s donkey has already been hitched to the axle of the grindstone and blindfolded to prevent its getting dizzy. And now it plods round and round, turning the wheel-shaped grindstone that crushes the wheat into flour. Our Lady tells the miller that she’d like a seah of flour — one-third of an ephah, or bushel. She sits on the bench provided for the miller’s customers and spreads a cloth on her lap. The boy Jesus, intelligent and observant, watches the miller. He stops the grindstone and then reaches into the receptacle where the flour falls. He lifts handfuls of the freshly ground flour out into his seah measure. When it’s full, he picks it up and lets it fall several times onto the table, to pack the flour down so as to make room for more. Some millers don’t do that, but this man is good and honest; he truly gives his customers their money’s worth. Now again he fills the measure, and again, drops it several inches onto the table to pack it again. When the flour comes up to the rim of the measure, he rounds over the top, actually giving Our Lady more than just one seah, and then comes over to where she and the boy Jesus are sitting. Our Lady carefully spreads the cloth on her lap and holds it steady. The miller pours the generous measure into the cloth on her lap. She gathers the four corners of the cloth, ties them together to form a bag, pays the honest and even generous miller, and then the pair go home.

Years later, when Jesus is in the midst of his public ministry, he tells the crowd listening to him words that Saint Luke records for us in his gospel: Give, and gifts will be given to you: a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.  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 | March 23, 2015

Feast of Saint Toribio de Mogrovejo (23 March 2015)

Today is a sparkling, clear, cool, beautiful day here in Lufkin. But the thoughts of most of the people here are sad, because one of the five young college students killed in an automobile accident last Friday is being buried here today. The young woman from here was twenty years old—the only child of her parents. An honor student, and an exemplary young person.

When I think of things like this, I am reminded of the death of Lazarus that we read of in the gospel according to Saint John, chapter 11.

Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, lived in Bethany, a village on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, just about two miles from Jerusalem. Lazarus died. The sisters had sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was ill, but Jesus did not come at once. He deliberately allowed several days to pass before going to Bethany, so that by the time he got there, Lazarus was dead and had been buried four days before his arrival. Saint John tells us that on his arrival, Mary the sister of Lazarus, threw herself at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Was she simply grieving that Jesus had not come in time to save her brother from death, or was she actually reprimanding Our Lord for not coming sooner? Knowing Mary as we do from other passages of the gospel, I don’t think she was reprimanding him, but simply expressing her deep sorrow that now, it’s too late to save her brother.

Saint John goes on to say, “At the sight of her tears, and those of the Jews who followed her, Jesus said in great distress, with a sigh that came straight from the heart, ‘Where have you put him?’ They said, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.”

Let’s think about this, the shortest verse in the entire Bible: Jesus wept. Why did Jesus weep? Because he was sorry to know that a friend of his had died, and that the dead man’s relatives were grieving over him? But you see, Our Lord knew that within the hour, he was going to raise Lazarus from the tomb. I think there is more to Jesus’ weeping than the temporary loss of a friend. Our Lord knew that his raising of Lazarus from the dead would be a major factor in causing his enemies to want to kill him, and that after his own death, he would also rise from the tomb. So why weep?

I suspect that Our Lord wept on that occasion because he is in the presence of human death which is a sad phenomenon that ends the life of every person coming into this world, and is the source of great sorrow to the loved ones of most of them. And death came into the world as a punishment for sin. In the beginning, God did not intend for the human being to die. But he sinned, so we all die. Our mortality is a tragedy; man offends God, and then man dies.

Whatever the total explanation, the fact remains that when our Savior was in the presence of death and human grief over death, he wept. He could have done something to prevent Lazarus from dying, and he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, yet he wept. His Sacred Heart is tender, compassionate, loving, and capable of the deepest human emotions. And so we commend our dead, be they young or old, into the hands of this grieving Savior of humankind and take comfort in the fact that our sorrows are also felt deep in his divine heart. 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 | March 20, 2015

Feast of Saint Anastasius (20 March 2015)   

The science of psychology as well as ordinary experience teaches us that babies and small children need a sense of security for their emotional, mental, and even physical development. If there is not that sense of security, the child is troubled by anxiety, fear, a sense of loneliness and dread. An old saying has it that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother; the best thing a woman can do for her children is to love their father. This mutual love between parents will give rise to a secure home in which babies and children can find peace and a sense of welcome, hospitality, and belonging.

This is true of us adults, too, in the spiritual life. In the gospel, Our Divine Lord says to us: ask and you will receive; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. He is telling us that God loves us, is concerned about us, and will gladly respond to our legitimate needs.

To make this even clearer, he points out the contrast between the divine goodness of God and the lesser goodness of mankind. He says, “If a child of yours asks for bread, do you hand him a stone; if he asks for a fish, do you hand him a scorpion? If you, evil as you are know how to give good things to your children, how much more will God give to you?” God is infinitely good, loving, wise, prudent, and provident. He loves us more than we can even imagine, and all that he does or permits in our lives is prompted by love. So let us be secure; let us be trusting; even in the face of things like hurricanes or financial reverses, let us remember that Jesus promises us that when we ask in prayer, we will receive what is good for us.

No doubt there are times when, in the sight of God, we ask for inappropriate or unnecessary things. We must simply and humbly place our petitions before our heavenly Father and then let him decide what is best for us. But let us remember that we are safe and secure in God’s hands, having been created by him; having been given the gift of faith by him, having been redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus, and now temples of the Holy Spirit who takes up his dwelling place within us. 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 | March 19, 2015

Solemnity of Saint Joseph (19 March 2015)

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph.  Saint Joseph is the patron of the universal Church and also of a happy death. The reasons for both of these patronages of his are obvious: just as Saint Joseph was the head of the Holy Family of Nazareth, so now in heaven, he is the head, in a sense, of Our Lord’s entire family of the Church. And just as Saint Joseph died, we presume, in the presence of Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother, so we pray to him for the grace of a happy death for us and those we love. One can have no better death than in the company of the Savior and his Immaculate Mother.

It is hard for us even to imagine the spiritual gifts given to Mary and Joseph. Remember that we derive much of our personality, our attitudes, our ideas, our ways of looking at things, our culture, and our dispositions from our parents. When God was preparing for the coming of the Word into the world as a human being, surely he would have prepared two very special people to become the parents of the Word-made-flesh, since they would have such a great influence upon him as he grew from infancy to adulthood. Therefore in addition to praying through the intercession of Saint Joseph for the Church and for a happy death for ourselves and others, I would suggest that we also pray through him for a constantly increasing intimacy with Jesus and his most holy mother.

Tomorrow we observe the vernal equinox—the day when spring officially begins. Many centuries ago, the Church determined that the great feast of Easter would be celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox each year. The equinox doesn’t vary more than 24 hours from year to year, but the full moon following it can vary as much as a month. So Easter can fall in late March or at almost any time in April. Pagan religions have always tended to emphasize the variations of the sun, moon, stars, planets, and the seasons. The Church baptized some of those festivals, so to speak, by allowing them to determine her feast-days. Thus, Christmas falls just after the winter solstice, and Easter after the spring equinox. However, one is a fixed date and the other a movable feast.  In any case, the equinox tells us that Lent is drawing to a close and the glorious festival of Jesus’s resurrection is just around the corner! 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 | March 18, 2015

Feast of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (18 March 2015)

Just imagine being either a shepherd back in Nineveh or the shepherd’s wife when the prophet Jonah came through, preaching repentance for sin to the enormous population of Nineveh. He required that every human being there wear sackcloth—burlap—as a sign of their repentance, AND that all the animals do the same. So if you were a shepherd, you’d have to go buy enough burlap to clothe yourself and your family AND all your sheep in it! And then, after you had bought all that sackcloth from the burlap weaver, your wife had to make garments for you, herself, the children, and the 50 sheep in your flock! That’s a lot of burlap, a lot of expense, a lot of work, and a great deal of discomfort.

Fortunately, the book of Jonah is not to be taken literally. It is an amusing parable having to do with the importance of repentance, and would probably not have made it into the Christian bible except for the fact that Jesus quotes it in his preaching. So we don’t have to sit around, trying to figure out how Jonah remained alive in the belly of the whale for three days, given the lack of oxygen there and the acidity of the digestive juices! But when the Church presents us with the passage from the Book of Jonah, and then Jesus’s use of it in the gospel, we are being reminded that Lent is the special season for penance, and that all of us are in need of penance and contrition.

Unfortunately, we can’t repent once and for all, and from then on have no need of it. You see, we sin in little ways daily, and therefore we must repent daily. In the formula of the morning offering that I say each morning, I offer to God all that happens to me and by me that day for a number of intentions, one of them being “in reparation for my sins.” It’s an ongoing process. Sin—repentance; sin—repentance. By God’s grace, we minimize our sins, both in numbers and in gravity, but most of us do not achieve total perfection in this life. So, the need for repentance, and its concrete expression—penance. So during this holy season of Lent, let us try to make it even more sincere and meaningful when we say, “Forgive us our trespasses.” 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 | March 17, 2015

Feast of Saint Patrick (17 March 2015)

It is not yet clear why God allowed hurricane Katrina and the resulting floods in the New Orleans area to take place, nor what good was accomplished thereby. However, we can be sure that He allowed it for His own benevolent purposes.

What is much clearer, though, is why God allowed the potato famine to take place in Ireland back in the 1840s. It caused much suffering to the people there, but it also caused thousands upon thousands of the Irish to leave their starving land to find food and make homes for themselves and their families elsewhere. We here in the United States benefitted particularly by the huge immigration of Irish Catholics to our shores. If you ever read a history of the Church in this country, you will be struck by the enormous influence that the Irish have had in the build-up of the Church in our country. By far, the largest number of Bishops in this country have been either Irishmen who came here from Ireland itself, or men of Irish extraction. Teaching Sisters by the thousands gave to the Catholic children in this country a solid grounding in their faith.

When I entered religious life fifty years ago this year, every single one of my superiors, from our novice master up to the Master General of the Order in Rome, were either Irish from the old sod, or men of Irish extraction. Their names betray their origin: Walsh, Connell, Kinsella, Marr, and the then Master General of the Order was a soft-spoken Irish priest named Michael Browne who was later made a Cardinal.

Today, unfortunately Ireland is falling victim to the apostasy that is plaguing much of the Church in Europe and America. An apostate is one who has been baptized and once professed and practiced the faith, but then later fell away from it and has more or less returned to either paganism or some other form of Christianity that makes few or no demands upon its adherents, except maybe financial ones. We all know former Catholics who wanted to live in a way forbidden by the Church, so they simply leave the Church to become unchurched or they join some group which forbids almost nothing, even those things which are quite clearly opposed to the moral principles of the gospel.

Recently, the president of Christendom College—an excellent little Catholic college in Virginia—spoke in a letter to the college’s supporters about the attempts of the college to form vibrant, devout Catholics and send them out into “our apostate society.” The phrase struck me because it is very true.

I would venture to say that every Catholic in America enjoys the truth and beauty of our faith because he or she has been influenced by the Irish in our midst or in our background. All of this beautiful evangelization we can trace back to the life and work of Saint Patrick, whom we honor today. It is quite possible that other than the apostles themselves, no missionary in the 2000 years of Christianity has had a more effective apostolate than the beloved Saint Patrick of Ireland. 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 | March 10, 2015

Feast of Saint Macarius (10 March 2015)

We are told in the sacred liturgy that Jesus is like us in all things but sin. Two of the most common phenomena of the human condition are loneliness and fear.

Now, let us think of Our Divine Lord during those forty days that he spent in the desert just after his baptism and in preparation for his public life. Up until about his thirtieth year, Our Lord had lived in the little bit of heaven on earth that we call the Holy Family, in their modest little home in Nazareth. His life was so ordinary; he fit in so totally into the society of a small village in the remote area called Galilee that his townspeople were amazed when he began his public life and showed indications of wisdom far beyond his years and his social and educational background.

Now, he goes out into the desert to pray and fast in preparation for his ministry. No longer would he know the loving, deeply holy, and happy atmosphere of life with his blessed mother and Saint Joseph. Now he must relate and deal with great crowds of people. And whenever you deal with lots of people, there are problems. People can be malicious and hostile; others are merely superficial and uninterested in important things; others are selfish and concerned only with their own interests and ambitions. And others are good, well-meaning, and sincere. Our Lord had to deal with all of them just as we do. People’s reactions to him ran the gamut from deep devotion and love like that of Saint John the Beloved Apostle and Saint Mary Magdalen to the enormous evil of those who accused him of being possessed by demons, and then of one of his own twelve apostles who betrayed him for money.

I imagine that during those days in the desert — an austere, inhospitable, unforgiving place — he must have thought ahead to his dealings with those people, and especially to the awful passion and death that he would undergo for us. For you and for me. Jesus did not need to suffer or die for himself. He underwent all of that for you and for me. We must be grateful. We must try to allow the contemplation of Our Lord’s life, and especially his sufferings which prove his love for us, to move us to love him in return. Surely one of the Lord’s keenest sufferings was that of knowing that for some people, his sufferings and death would be of no avail because they would reject his graces. We do not want that to happen in our case. Every time we see a crucifix, we should think of him saying to us: “I have loved you this much. Now, will you not love me in return?” 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 | March 2, 2015

Feast of Saint Agnes of Prague (2 Mar 2015)

This past Saturday, we had, for the third time in about six months, a solemn profession here in our monastery. That means that a young woman, after spending about nine months here as a postulant, two years as a novice, and at least three years in temporary vows, now makes her final and definitive commitment of herself to Our Divine Lord in religious life, specifically in our Dominican monastic life.

Almost as if he were commenting on this beautiful event that took place last Saturday, Saint Peter says to us in the first reading of today’s Mass: “Although you have not seen him you love him . . . even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy. . .”

Think of that for a moment. In the natural order, man and woman meet and get to know one another, and fall in love. They decide to espouse themselves to one another all their lives. So they marry, and if they are mature and intelligent and loving and generous, their marriage will be a success. In this case, a young woman has come to know Our Lord Jesus not in the natural way of one person coming to know another, but in terms of hearing the preaching of the gospel, believing it, and falling in love with the Savior who is the central figure of all Christianity. Not only does she fall in love with him, but she seeks to espouse herself to him in a commitment as solemn and sacred as marriage. She will never see his face with her bodily eyes in this life; she will never hear his voice with her bodily ears. She will never be able to embrace him physically. But the love affair between the two of them is one more case of Jesus drawing millions of men and women down through the centuries of the Church into this intimate relationship with him which causes religious to vow themselves to him, priests to serve him in Holy Orders, martyrs to die for him, and the ordinary Christian to live according to his holy will and so to become the salt of the earth, the light of the world.

No wonder we rejoice! Our Dominican life of priesthood and religious profession has been going on uninterruptedly for almost 800 years. Please God, it will continue as long as time continues. Be that as it may, we know by our faith in the Church which Christ founded that the sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, and Holy Orders and the beautiful sacramental of religious profession will continue because they are of divine institution or invitation and spring from the very heart of the Christian faith.

As Our Lord said so beautifully to Saint Thomas who doubted no more when he saw him after the Resurrection, “You believe in me, Thomas, because you see me. Blessed are those who do NOT see, and yet believe.” 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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