Posted by: fvbcdm | June 1, 2020

Feast of Saint Justin Martyr (1 June 2020)

Recently, I watched some of the Memorial Day concert which was given on the grounds of the capitol building in Washington, and I was pleased to note that God was very present not only in his divine reality but also in the thoughts and words of those who participated.

Several of the songs which were sung were religious in nature, and the brief prayer “God bless America” recurred time and again during the program.

If I were to ask you exactly what you mean when you say “God bless America,” how would you answer? If the question were put to me, I would say that I am praying that God will take this nation of ours and its people and its institutions into his greater and greater care, that his goodness and power would become more operative among us, that in particular the virtues which flow from God would become more active and influential in our society.

With these thoughts in mind, I picked up this morning’s newspaper and saw to my sorrow an article about how much cocaine is flown into our country and how our authorities are trying to stop this flow of drugs that can destroy bodies, minds, souls, and even whole groups and societies. And why? For money, of course. The drug traffickers want money, possibly to fuel their own drug habits, and have no regard for the lives which they injure and destroy by their illicit and illegal drug trafficking. What a sad contradiction to the prayer “God bless America”! What a denial of the value and beauty of human life!

Today, on this first day of June, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I say to you “God bless you.” God ennoble your life and make it the sort of human existence He intends it to be, so that it will lead you into an eternal friendship with Him. 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 | May 30, 2020

Feast of Saint William Arnaud (29 May 2020)

This Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of Pentecost.  It commemorates the day when, ten days after His Ascension into Heaven, our Divine Lord sent the Holy Spirit upon the infant Church and into the hearts of its individual members, and, as is always the case with our liturgical celebrations, the greatness of that great event is repeated for us in our world today.  Thus, those who celebrate the feast of Pentecost each year with devotion and sincere prayer receive graces similar to what the Apostles and Disciples received in that Upper Room in Jerusalem so long ago.

In that beautiful, old, venerable hymn called a sequence that we use in the Liturgy at Pentecost, we ask the Holy Spirit to “melt the frozen, warm the chill.”  Let us think about those words today.  Love has always been seen as warm.  We use words like ardor and fervor to indicate the warmth of love.  Ardor comes from a Latin word meaning “to burn.”  Fervor also comes from the Latin, it means “to boil,” like hot water.  A living body is warm.  A corpse is cold.  So we speak of the warmth of love, the coldness of indifference or hatred.

You might remember that when Dante wrote his classic, “The Divine Comedy,” he has Virgil leading Dante down the various passageways of Hell until they come to the very bottom, where Satan is eternally imprisoned.  And in what condition does Dante find the Prince of Devils?  He finds Him lying, bound on the surface of a frozen lake, suffering eternally from terrible cold.  This symbolizes His total lack of love of God and of the other angels and mankind.

So we ask the Spirit to “melt the frozen, warm the chill.”  Let’s apply that prayer to ourselves.  Do we treat some people with coldness?  indifference? hatred? lack of forgiveness if they have offended us or if we think they have offended us?  Do we close our hearts to some for one reason or another?  Do we fail to take seriously what we say in the “Our Father”—“forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”?  If our hearts are to be temples of the Holy Spirit, they must be warm with love.  If they are cold, hostile, contemptuous of others, vindictive, that is a sure sign that we have made it impossible for the Spirit of the Living God to take up residence within our being. 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 | May 20, 2020

Feast of Saint Bernardine of Sienna (20 May 2020)

Do you know exactly what the letters IHS mean, which we often see in our churches and other religious places or structures or printed matter? When I was a child, I was told that they meant “I Have Suffered,” referring to Our Lord. That’s an edifying theory but it isn’t true.   If we’re going to talk about IHS, let’s also talk about XP, since the two sets of letters go together. I mention this today because the Church celebrates today the commemoration of Saint Bernardine of Siena who was known for having cards printed with the letters IHS on them which he then distributed among the hearers of his very popular sermons.

The letters IHS are Greek letters, not our Roman ones. They are pronounced “iota; eta; sigma” and they are the Greek equivalent of our letters I-E-S. You see, in Greek the holy name of Jesus is spelled “I-E-S-O-U-S” and pronounced “yay-zoos.” And back in the ancient world, abbreviation was done by using the first two or three letters of a word to save space and work, in the case of incising letters into stone. The entire New Testament was first written in Greek; it wasn’t until Pope Saint Damasus asked him to that Saint Jerome translated it into Latin beginning about the year 380. So it was common in those days to indicate the Holy Name of Jesus by writing the Greek letters “IHS.” And then, they abbreviated the word Christ with the first two letters of the Greek word “Christos,” which, in the Greek letters is written “XPISTOS,” and abbreviated “XP.”

For this reason, we often see the Greek letters IHS and XP in sacred places or on sacred writings of various kinds. And they mean “Jesus Christ.”

To minimize gambling and promote devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, Saint Bernardine persuaded the playing card producers to print cards with the sacred monograms “IHS” and “XP” on them. He urged his hearers to carry one of those cards on their persons and put them in their homes where their Catholic faith could thus be proclaimed. He was such a popular preacher that soon the playing card producers were making more money with the holy cards than they had previously made with playing cards.

We might well remember the beautiful words of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, another saint very devoted to Our Lord’s holy name. He says in one of his writings: “The Holy Name of Jesus is honey in the mouth, music in the ear, a shout of gladness in the heart.”  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 8, 2020

Feast of Saint Peter of Tarantaise (8 May 2020)

On this date in 1945, President Harry Truman, who had been president for less than one month, announced the unconditional surrender of Germany, and thus the end of the war in Europe.  I was within one month of my high school graduation.

And in our Dominican calendar, we celebrate today the patronage of Our Blessed Mother over our Order. There is an old legend that one night, Saint Dominic dreamed that he was being shown around Heaven. He saw many people there, including the members of all the other religious orders, but none of his own. He began to weep, and Our Lady asked him why he was so sad. He explained to her that he didn’t see any of his preaching friars in heaven. Whereupon she opened the voluminous cloak that she was wearing, and there, gathered around her, were the early Dominicans, safely within her maternal protection. Be that as it may, we celebrate today the fact that the Mother of Our Lord is also Our Lady of the Rosary and the Queen of the Order of Preachers.

Think for a moment of the famous wedding feast at Cana in Galilee when the wine ran out. Our Lady, much afraid of the embarrassment to the young couple if it should become known that the refreshments had run out, said to Our Lord, “They have no wine.” She was not simply making an observation; she was asking him to do something about it. At first, he seemed reluctant to act, since the only way he could remedy the situation was by miracle. But his Mother, whose maternal heart couldn’t bear the thought of the young couple being embarrassed for the rest of their lives, in a sense forced the hand of her divine Son. She pointed him out to the waiters, and said to them, “Do whatever he tells you.”

These are the last times that Our Lady is quoted in the gospels. But what quotations! She speaks to Christ and says, “They have no wine.” And then she speaks to the waiters — and to us, by extension — and says, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Holy Mother of God, we beg you always to remind your Divine Son of our needs, and to enable us to carry out the will of Jesus, since his will is our sanctification and our salvation.  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 | May 1, 2020

Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker (1 May 2020)

Today is May Day, a day of rejoicing in the middle ages and for centuries thereafter because of the flowering of nature as spring comes to the world and the abundance of summer is not far behind it. And today in our liturgical calendar is the commemoration day of Saint Joseph the Worker; it’s a very interesting celebration that deserves our attention and understanding. Let’s trace its origin very briefly:

As the horror of Napoleon’s bloody empire was ending in Europe, there occurred a remarkable development in history called the Industrial Revolution.  A number of discoveries and inventions took place both in Europe and America that gave rise to a totally new approach to productivity and economic and industrial progress.  This phenomenon was called the Industrial Revolution.  It brought humankind out of the simple life of the cottage industries to the world of the great coal mines and power mills and factories and steamships and railroads and the great wealth of the capitalists and the misery of the men, women, and children who had to work in often inhuman conditions where a human being was seen as only a tool to be used to the optimum profit of the employer.

A German economist and philosopher named Karl Marx wrote two works giving forth his ideas of economics and their influence on politics.  He was Jewish, but an atheist, and it was his opinion that the industrial revolution would pit capitalists against the laboring class.  This would cause permanent revolution, which would eventually result in a Utopian society for the working classes who would then own all the wealth in each country and would control government.  Without the superstition of God and religion, and with the wonderful classless society where everything would be owned by everyone, the human race would live happily ever after.  His theories were totally opposed to divine truth and his books were placed on the Church’s index of forbidden books. To make matters worse, when the Russian revolution deposed and murdered the Czar and his family and brought the Bolsheviks to power, Russia adopted Marxist theories as their system of government and thus became a socialist, that is, communist, dictatorship that wrought seventy years of death and misery upon millions of people.

However, even as Russia was going communist, Our Blessed Mother was appearing to three children at Fatima in Portugal, promising that in the end, Russia would be converted and there would be peace. And in 1955, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker to be celebrated annually on May 1, the international communist labor day. Thus Joseph the Worker, husband of Mary and guardian of Jesus, is set in opposition to the godless communist worker whom Marx, Lenin, and Stalin claimed would be the hero of the entire world. Thus today, when communism is just a bad memory for all but China, Vietnam, and Cuba, we honor Saint Joseph the worker whose labor gives glory to God and not rejection of the Father of all ability to work and thus improve our world. 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 | April 30, 2020

Feast of Saint Catherine of Siena (29 April 2020)

One of the distinctive characteristics of the gospel according to Saint John is that in it, Our Lord makes a number of statements about himself beginning with “I am . . .” “I am the light of the world; I am the way, the truth, and the life; I am the good shepherd, etc.” In the gospel of today’s Mass we find two of these “I am” statements and you might even say three of them. Jesus says to us: “I am the bread of life,” and, “I am the living bread.” And then he goes on to say “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” That’s tantamount to another “I am” statement.

What a privilege to be able to attend Mass, to hear Christ promising to give his flesh to eat and his blood to drink, to know that he first fulfilled that promise at the Last Supper, and then actually to receive that divine food which he promises in this gospel passage!

From a hillside in Galilee where he first made the nearly incredible promise, to the upper room in Jerusalem where he first fulfilled it, to our churches and chapels throughout the world today where many, many devout Christians hungrily, devoutly, lovingly approach Our Divine Lord in the most holy Sacrament of the altar—what a marvelous progression that is! How fortunate we are! “Whoever eats this bread will live forever,” Jesus tells us. So we can add another stage to the Galilee/Jerusalem/our home church progression, and that is Heaven, to which the Lord, in the Living Bread, is shepherding us.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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

Posted by: fvbcdm | April 25, 2020

Feast of Saint Mark (25 April 2020)

In the Apostle’s Creed we say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins. . .” That article of faith, the communion of saints, becomes especially significant to us on a day like today when we celebrate the feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist. We know that God’s revelation of Himself to the world finds its perfection in the person, the life, the words, and the actions of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ. And as a result, the Christian community down through the ages and from pole to pole reads, and meditates upon, and bases its prayer on those pieces of literature that tell us about Christ, Our Lord. And they are to be found in Sacred Scripture, especially in the New Testament.

Each civilization and culture and language group studies the great landmarks of its own literature. We of the English-speaking world read Shakespeare and Milton and Wordsworth and Tennyson; the French read Moliere and Corneille; the Spanish-speaking world studies the Cid and Don Quixote; the Italians are immensely devoted to Dante and Petrarch. And in the supernatural world, the Hindus have their Upanishads; the Muslims have their Koran; the Jews have the Old Testament, and we Christians have our entire Bible, Old Testament and New as well. And today, April 25, we celebrate one of the writers of the New Testament: Saint Mark the Evangelist, the author of one of the four gospels.

The word “evangelist” means “one who brings good news.” It is used in a loose sense very commonly, but in the stricter sense, we have four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—the authors to whom are ascribed the four gospels. All that we know of the life of Jesus is contained in the four gospels and the other writings of the New Testament. It is also contained by way of prophecy in the Old Testament.

Now, back to the communion of saints: we Catholics all have our favorite saints: those whose names we bear, for example; the patrons of our various nationalities, like Saint Patrick of the Irish, Saint Joan of Arc of the French, Our Lady of Guadalupe of the Mexicans, etc. But all of us should have a special place in our hearts for the apostles and the evangelists, because it is to them that we are enormously indebted for our knowledge of Jesus.  In the first eucharistic prayer at Mass, we speak of “the catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles.” Two of the evangelists, namely Matthew and John, were also among the twelve apostles. The other two, Mark and Luke, were not, but were closely associated with the apostles and probably knew Our Divine Lord and his mother personally. So throughout the year, the Church celebrates all twelve of the apostles and the other two evangelists. Today, Saint Mark.

As Saint Peter says so beautifully in the sixth chapter of Saint John’s gospel: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!” How true! And how valid for us today as it was for them two thousand years ago. So let us rejoice in celebrating Saint Mark today. He is distant from us in time and place and culture, but in the communion of saints, he is VERY close, for from him and the other three evangelists we learn all that we need to know about Jesus—the words of 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. Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown

Posted by: fvbcdm | April 23, 2020

Feast of Saint George (23 April 2020)

Do you ever feel frustrated? Do you ever find yourself thinking or saying, “If only I could do this, or had that, or didn’t have to be burdened with thus and such?” If you haven’t had experiences like that, you are in the very small minority, because most of us from time to time feel frustrated and hampered by either the presence of some problem in our lives or the absence of some advantage. In today’s gospel, Our Lord tells us that he is the vine and we are the branches. He goes on to say that our heavenly Father is the vinedresser who prunes the vine to make it bear more fruit.  Now, from the viewpoint of the vine, pruning is a form of frustration. The natural tendency of the plant is to put forth more tendrils, more branches, more leaves. But the human vine-grower is not interested in tendrils, branches, and leaves. He wants grapes! Thus, the need to prune. And so with us and God. Our tendency is toward self-expression, pleasure, the ability to manipulate our world to our own liking.  But that is not God’s desire, because if every human being were allowed to follow his and her own tendency, there would be constant conflict in the world—more so than there already is. So, God prunes us, and we don’t always like it.

I think of the late Pope, John Paul II. When he was elected to the Chair of Saint Peter in 1978, he was vibrant, healthy man of 58. By the time of his death at the age of 84, he was a terribly debilitated man—having suffered the ravages of disease for years, having been shot and nearly killed by a would-be assassin, and having fallen and broken bones several times because of the Parkinson’s disease which slowly invaded his entire body and deprived him of more and more of his natural ability. During the visit of Pope Benedict to our country, some film clips were shown on television taken during the last days of Pope John Paul II. He came to his window to address the crowd in the square below, and was not able to utter a sound. His voice totally failed him. Can you imagine the frustration—knowing how much there was to be done, and eager to do it, and yet unable to perform his tasks as he saw them because of the totally worn-out condition of his body?

When we find ourselves fretting and complaining because we can’t do as we would like, or must carry a cross which we would like to get rid of, let us be aware that God is pruning us and let us offer to him “the pruning,” by which he imposes his holy will upon us and thus accomplishes his purposes far better than we could achieve them. 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 | April 21, 2020

Feast of Saint Anselm (21 April 2020)

Today we have an interesting coincidence of facts and feasts to make the subject of our prayer. It is the anniversary of the death of Saint Anselm, an Italian Benedictine monk who, after some years in the monastery of Bec in Normandy, went to England and there became the Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest ranking bishop in England. That happened in 1093, just 27 years after the famous Norman invasion of England when the great combination of Anglo-Saxons and Normans took place, giving to the world the English people as we know the term today.

Saint Anselm presided over the Catholic Church in England for sixteen years until his death in 1109. In the latter part of those 1100s King Henry II had another Archbishop of Canterbury, Saint Thomas a Becket, murdered in the cathedral of Canterbury. His tomb in that same church became one of the most frequented of all medieval shrines.

Then, about 350 years later, the great tragedy occurred when King Henry VIII, wishing to divorce his lawful wife and marry someone else, destroyed the Catholic Church in Great Britain and forced its members to become members of the Church of England. They are called Anglicans there, and in this country, they are called Episcopalians. Right now, that Church of England or Episcopal church is going through very difficult times because it has ordained women not only to its priesthood but also to its level of bishops, and has also ordained at least one practicing homosexual man to the level of bishop. Not surprisingly, this has caused much controversy within that church and not only individuals but also entire parishes, and in a few cases even entire dioceses have left the church to form a new body of their own. We might well pray today through the intercession of Saint Anselm, Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, asking that those who now profess unity with the present-day Anglican/Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury will return to the profession of the faith and morals given to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Church which he founded.

It is also by coincidence the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Head of the Church of England. She is [94] years old today, and has reigned over the British Empire since early 1952, more than [68] years. She has conducted her reign with dignity and according to Christian principles—a ruler of whom her people can be proud. 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 | April 18, 2020

Easter Saturday (18 April 2020)

The Sunday that we’ll be celebrating this weekend has gone by a number of names in the history of the Church. Back in the days when the liturgy was in Latin, the Sundays were usually designated by the first word of their entrance antiphon—the “Introit” as it was called then.  And the Sunday after Easter began, and still begins when the entrance antiphon is not replaced by an opening hymn, by the words “Like newborn children. . .” And the Latin word used to begin that antiphon is “Quasimodo.”  So the Sunday after Easter was “Quasimodo Sunday.”  In the famous novel, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo, the abandoned baby is found on the steps of Paris’s cathedral on the morning of the Sunday after Easter, so the priests called him “Quasimodo.”  In Advent we have a Gaudete Sunday; in Lent, a Laetare Sunday—again, names taken from the opening word of the entrance antiphon of that day.

Then, this Sunday came to be called “Low Sunday” to distinguish it from the very HIGH Sunday the week before. And now, it is the Sunday of Divine Mercy, so called by our late Pope, [Saint] John Paul II.  We use as the first reading of this Sunday’s Mass a passage from the first letter of Saint Peter, where the Prince of the Apostles tells us that God “in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” And then, in the gospel we read of what happened on the night of that first Easter Sunday. The risen Savior came into the upper room where his apostles were gathered. He greeted them with the Hebrew “Shalom”: Peace be with you. Then he breathed on them (“breath” in Hebrew is the same as “spirit”) and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven.” Another one of these stupendous gifts of God to humanity for our salvation. He gave us the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper; he gave his life on the cross; now he gives to his newly ordained bishops and priests the power of forgiving sins.

When a soldier defeated an enemy in those days, he could bring home with him any booty or plunder from the battlefield or the country of the defeated enemy. The newly risen Christ brings with him from his encounter with death and his conquest of it a choice piece of plunder indeed: he had made atonement for our sins by his death on the cross, and now brings back with him divine mercy, forgiveness, pardon.  If I were to say to a penitent who comes to confession all that I might say, I could say, “we have sinned. But Jesus wants to forgive us and bring us back into the circle of his love, so he died in atonement for our sins. And on rising from the dead, the first thing he gave to his first bishops and priests was the power to forgive sin, to dispense mercy, to pardon, to reconcile, to make clean again.” This is Mercy Sunday. He wants to forgive us more than we want to be forgiven. He loves us more than we love him, even though he is infinitely lovable, and we certainly are not. But you see, love is measured not by the lovability of the beloved, but by the love of the lover. And Christ, our lover, is infinitely loving.

And Jesus wants to forgive us “not seven times, but seventy times seven times.” And so we pray particularly on this beautiful Sunday, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have MERCY on us! Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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

 

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