Posted by: fvbcdm | May 22, 2015

Feast of Saint Rita of Cascia (22 May 2015)

It would be appropriate for us to gather in a large group and sing “Happy Birthday.” Happy Birthday to whom? Happy Birthday to the Church, to us as the body of Christ.  And why? Because this Sunday we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost as the birthday of the Church, and therefore of the mystical body of Christ.

Our Lord, as we have seen previously, first established the BODY of the Church: its doctrine, its moral code, its sacraments, and its membership, both the lay people and the clerics, or the civil servants of this organization. But now, it needed a SOUL.  And so Our Lord ascended to heaven and from there, sent the SOUL of the church upon it. Now, with body and soul, the new body of Christ could begin to live, to operate, and to do the work that Christ intends for it to do until the end of time. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, and our birthday because we are part of that Church. The Holy Spirit came in the form of fire and wind: the fire representing the warmth and vitality of the body, like our own human temperature, and the wind representing the breath by which we breathe and thus give evidence of our life. The Holy Spirit is God’s warmth and God’s breath. The Body of Christ lives by that Spirit; it is our divine life, our bond of church-living, if you will.

I wish you a very happy Pentecost, one which you understand, and rejoice in, and are grateful for, since the Holy Spirit is one of God’s greatest gifts to 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 | May 21, 2015

Feast of Saint Eugene de Mazenod (21 May 2015)

We are now in that very important period of time between the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. According to the Scripture, nine days elapsed between the two events, and during that time, the apostles gathered with Our Lady in the upper room of Jerusalem along with a number of other disciples, so that the entire group numbered about 120.  Our Lord had instructed them to wait and pray for the coming of the Spirit, and this they did as he commanded.  For this reason, it became customary in the Church to spend nine days of prayer for any important event, and thus the concept of a NOVENA came into being, NOVEM being the Latin word for NINE.  So right now, we are within that period of NOVENA, preparing ourselves for our annual celebration of the great solemnity of Pentecost.  And speaking of numbers, the Greek word PENTE means FIFTY and it is ordinarily FIFTY days after Easter.

Let us try to spend this week spiritually united with the group of 120 in the upper room.  I have no doubt that they took advantage of Our Lady’s presence among them, asking her questions, listening to her beautiful reminiscences about the early life of Jesus, getting her insights and explanations of all the sacred mysteries.  She taught the child Jesus; now she teaches the ones whom he loved and who loved him.

One of the titles that we apply to the Mother of our Lord is “Seat of Wisdom,” meaning the profound understanding that she possesses of all sacred things.  The concept of “seat” means the teaching office of a professor; it comes to us in modern speech as “see,” as in the Holy See, or the word “see” used to mean a diocese: the see of Galveston-Houston; the see of New York, etc.  So we have the opportunity this week to ask Our Lady, the Seat of Wisdom, to help us understand the elements of our holy faith more clearly and incorporate them more actively in our spiritual life. 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 | May 19, 2015

Feast of Pope Saint Celestine (19 May 2015)

May is the month traditionally dedicated to Mary, the Mother of our Lord. And during the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI addressed Our Lady by a new title: the Mother of the Church.  Because of the developments in communications, travel on the part of many people to Rome, and travel on the part of the Popes to every part of the world, I think that there is an increasing understanding of the Church as a worldwide community of believers who are united by their communion with their local bishops and with the supreme bishop of Rome, our Holy Father the Pope. More and more Catholics are aware of the religious situation in Russia, in China, in western Europe, in Latin America, in those countries where Muslims constitute a majority of the population, in sub-Saharan Africa, and in our own country.

We are aware that the conflict between good and evil goes on as always; that “the gates of Hell” are still trying to destroy the kingdom of God upon earth, and that Christ, in his Church, is being crucified here and there even as he is being born wherever the Church is being established and human beings are becoming Christians through the sacrament of Baptism and the other sacraments.

Let me ask you, especially during this month of May, to pray for the Church in this world of ours—to pray that she will be successful in bringing about the kingdom of God on this planet of ours, and that through the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, Mother of Jesus, Mother of the Church, many souls will be won to Christ and to eternal salvation. 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 | May 18, 2015

Feast of Pope Saint John I (18 May 2015)

In the gospel according to Saint John, Our Lord says of himself: I am the vine; you are the branches. He is thinking, of course, of the grape vine cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region since wine has been for many centuries the favorite drink of those lands.

The vine is the basic plant. It puts forth branches, which in turn produce the clusters of grapes and the leaves to shade them from too much sun. The purpose for growing the vines is the wine. Therefore, the vine-grower will do whatever is necessary to increase the production of the wine.  He carefully prunes the vine so that it doesn’t waste its living energy in the production of many little branches and shoots, but rather that a few clusters of grapes will grow large and juicy and healthy, and he leaves only as many leaves on the vine as are needed to shade the grapes and protect them from too much sun. Everything else is pruned away.

Our Lord tells us that he is the vine, and we are the branches. We are expected to produce fruit. What kind of fruit? The fruit of good works: praise and love of God, and then service to our neighbor. We should examine ourselves regularly by asking: am I producing the fruit that Christ expects of me? Am I worshiping and thanking and obeying God as I should for all his goodness to me? Am I serving my fellow human beings by kindness, service, good example, justice, love? Have I been the kind of child to my parents that I should be? Have I done all I can to bring my spouse to God? My children? My extended family? My fellow workers? Have I been a good, honest, competent employee, or a just and considerate employer? All these things are the good fruits that Christ expects of us.

There are those who turn their backs on Our Lord and walk with him no more; in reality, it is they who sever themselves from the living Vine which is Christ. That amputation is certainly not HIS will, but their own. They prefer something else to him—often some sort of mate or sexual partner. Those liaisons cause more abandonment of our holy faith than anything else.

Let us think of these things. God the Father, the divine Vine-grower. Christ our Lord, the Vine. We ourselves, the branches, our good works, the fruit from which the wine is pressed. Let us be productive! Let us bear fruit and grow abundant with the wine of gladness. 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 | May 15, 2015

Feast of Saint Isidore the Farmer (15 May 2015)

As we speak to our Heavenly Father in the opening prayer of today’s Mass, we say to him: “In restoring human nature you have given us a greater dignity than we had in the beginning.” Remember, in the beginning God created us in his image, according to his likeness.  What greater dignity could he have given us than that? The fact is that he sent his own divine Son into our world, our history, and our human race to become one of us to be our human brother and thus to make us his brothers and sisters.

And then, during the climactic moments of his passion and death, Jesus, our divine brother and savior, further humbled himself by taking on himself the form of bread and wine which he gives us to eat and do drink.

The notion of human dignity is one that desperately needs reinforcing right now, since our human society, especially in the western world, has largely lost the awareness of human dignity.  Some years ago, in one of my homilies, I spoke of the quality of refinement.  A lady came to me after Mass and said, “Father, I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to hear you talk about refinement.  I thought that it was a quality that had been totally forgotten.”  You certainly get that impression these days.

When we bemoan the moral effects of the media upon our young people, we should certainly have human dignity and refinement in mind.  I think of this often while sitting in airports waiting for a plane.  There was a time when people “dressed up” when traveling.  Not any more!  I would never appear in public—not even to put out the garbage in front of my own home—dressed the way many people fly around the country or the world.  And then, look at how they dress on TV and how they behave, and the things that they say.  Do they look and sound like human beings made in the image and likeness of God?  Not unless God is a drug-ridden rapper or a strip-joint floozy!

And then there are the brides of today.  They seem to be confused.  They dress for the wedding Mass in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and their relatives and friends as if they were getting ready for the bedroom on the honeymoon.

Let us always be aware that deliberately outrageous dress and behavior, immodesty, revealing and suggestive clothing, language, and actions are opposed to the image of God within us, and are means used by the powers of evil to lead to spiritual weakening and even death. 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 | May 14, 2015

Feast of Saint Matthias (14 May 2015)     

  “I am the Good Shepherd. I know mine and mine know me. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have power to lay it down and power to take it up again.”

These words are addressed to the entire world by Our Divine Lord in the gospel. They imply, of course, that we are the sheep belonging to this divine Good Shepherd; we are the ones for whom Jesus has laid down his life and taken it up again. So, let us pray in the light of these marvelous words of Christ.

“Lord Jesus Christ, we adore you under the title of the Good Shepherd by which you identify yourself. We know that a shepherd must treat his flock with care, concern, attention, because sheep are not particularly clever or resourceful and need the guidance and protection of a human shepherd or at least a sheep-dog. We welcome your concern and your care, Lord Jesus. We ask that we may always follow your lead, your guidance, and gratefully accept your provident attention.”

“We want to see your loving hand in all the events of our lives, even those that seem to be misfortunes. Nothing happens to us that you are unaware of and not in total control of. Nothing is going to happen to us today that we cannot cope with, if you are with us.”

“Lead us, Good Shepherd. When the going is particularly rough, pick us up and carry us as the shepherd often does with his sheep, especially the lambs. If we go astray, come in search of us. If we are in danger, protect and defend us. If we are wounded or injured, heal us. If we do not follow you with alacrity, be patient with us and do not abandon us. And finally, thank you, Lord Jesus for relating to us as a good shepherd does to his sheep.”

How good to know that our God, who will one day be our judge, is a good shepherd to whom each of us is very dear.  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 | May 13, 2015

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima (13 May 2015) 

 Ninety-eight years ago today, the Mother of Our Lord appeared for the first time to the three shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, near a town called Fatima in Portugal. Since then, the entire Catholic world, and many other elements of the human family, have come to a knowledge of, and devotion to, Our Lady of Fatima. As has been pointed out before, it is very significant that the Mother of Jesus chose to associate herself with the name of Fatima, since that name is very prominent in the world of Islam. The girl Fatima was one of the daughters of Mohammed, the founder of Islam. When the Muslims occupied the Iberian peninsula for some 800 years, they left Islamic culture scattered all over that area which would become Spain and Portugal once the Muslims had been expelled by the Christians from the territory which the Muslims had invaded and occupied. The name Fatima is a remnant of that Muslim culture and history, and now is one of the most prominent titles of the Mother of Christ, who is mentioned more than once in the Koran, or holy book of the Islamic faith. At this very moment, our Holy Father is a pilgrim among the Islamic and Jewish peoples in the Middle East. No doubt he is meeting women whose name is Fatima, and he is reflecting upon the fact that Our Lady of Fatima, by her very title, shows her concern for the Islamic world, that it may come one day to recognize Our Lord Jesus Christ as being the REAL Prophet, who is in fact the Son of God, Son of Man, and Redeemer of Humanity.

Let us review that prayer used by the Church on Good Friday for those who do not believe in Christ, which includes the Muslims who do not believe that Christ is God: Almighty and Eternal God, enable those who do not acknowledge Christ to find the truth as they walk before you in sincerity of heart. Help us to grow in love for one another, to grasp more fully the mystery of your godhead, and to become more perfect witnesses of your love in the sight of men. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

Can you remember when you were very small and used to follow your parents around the house, watching what they were doing, and observing them from the point of view of a young child learning about the world in which he or she was living?

How often have we seen little children, just about as tall as a worktable, standing there, with its forearms and chin on the table, watching its mother preparing food, or watching its father doing some carpentry or repairing a zipper that has become clogged with a piece of cloth?

Try to imagine the young Christ, three years old, at the end of his mother’s kitchen table, watching as she mixed her dough with water and leaven and perhaps added some raisins or dried figs and some honey. And then look ahead another thirty years to the days when Jesus would multiply bread and fish in enormous quantities on the hillsides of Galilee to feed vast multitudes of people.

Or again, imagine the little Jesus in his foster-father’s carpenter shop, carrying wood for Joseph to use in the production of a table or a chair or a chest or cabinet. And imagine him with the nails in his small hands which he presents to Joseph with such satisfaction because he was helping this man who was so much a part of his young life. As Jesus grew to youth and then manhood, I’m sure that he would have reflected that one day, he would carry a different kind of wood and for a totally different purpose, and would again have nails in his hands, but not merely for carrying them.

Simple, basic things like bread, wood, and nails figure prominently in the life of Jesus and in our salvation. “I am the bread of life,” he would tell the world. And one terrible day in Jerusalem, he would be given a cross to carry and then he would be nailed to it in a dreadful act of carpentry which would be the structure of our salvation. 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 | May 11, 2015

Feast of the Carthusian Martyrs (11 May 2015)

In the opening prayer of our Mass today, we ask God, “May the Easter mystery we celebrate be effective throughout our lives.” Let me suggest three ways in which our happiness at the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ can be effective throughout our lives.

First, it should produce joy in our hearts and in our demeanor. If we truly love Our Lord, then we will know something of the excited joy that the apostles and Saint Mary Magdalen felt on that first Easter Sunday, and that joy in Christ’s victory over death will be with us always. Do others see us as joyous people, delighted by our relationship with the risen, triumphant Christ?

Second, it should produce peace in our hearts and lives. Our Lord’s very first words to his apostles on that Easter night were “Peace be with you.” Peace is defined as the tranquillity of order. After the disorder of the crucifixion of Jesus, the divine order of things is restored by his rising from death to new life. And even when we experience disorder, upset, and even chaos in our lives, we can cling firmly to Jesus, who is the source of all order, all peace. And we will project this attitude of peace to others. As angels have said more than once in the Scriptures, don’t be afraid!

Third, our celebration of Our Lord’s resurrection should motivate us to love one another. Jesus died for each of us; he rose for each of us. Love is not always easy, since we human beings have idiosyncrasies and peculiarities that grind upon the nerves of others. We must sometimes struggle to love, to forgive. But the pagan contemporaries of the early Christians used to say, “Behold those Christians, how they love one another.”

On the infamous 9/11, radical Muslims, shouting “Allah is great; Allah is good”— the beginning of all Muslim prayer — flew those planes into buildings, killing themselves and some 3000 others. There is something terribly wrong with that concept of Allah, the one true God. Let’s be careful to project an image of God that is marked by joy, peace, and mutual love. 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 | May 8, 2015

Feast of Saint Peter of Tarantaise (8 May 2015)

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:  This message was composed some years ago.

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