This morning, as I read the newpaper, I found two interesting items. One is that the very popular Hollywood actor, Tom Cruise, and his so-called “girlfriend” have had their baby. Tom has been previously married. I don’t know whether that earlier marriage was ever legally ended by divorce. The girlfriend, I found out, is a former Catholic but she seems to have embraced Scientology, the philosophy which Tom has espoused.

I looked Scientology up on the internet since I knew very little about it. I find that it was founded by a man named Hubbard who died in the 1980s. It makes no claim to be a religion in any real sense of the word. In fact, it apparently doesn’t even profess a belief in God, let alone divine revelation, the truth of the Bible, or anything about Our Lord Jesus Christ. It seems something like Unitarianism—a sort of organized philosophy which maintains churches and membership rolls but without any particular doctrine or moral code.  Each member believes and does whatever seems appropriate to himself or herself.  The founder, Ron Hubbard, got the idea of Scientology in his desire to improve the living conditions of human beings throughout the world.

Then, after reading that, I found also in the newspaper that two lesbians who live together and want children have chosen to get one of them pregnant by the use of sperm donated by an anonymous donor.  It is not clear whether the anonymity of the donor goes to the extent that even the woman who has been impregnated and her lesbian lover are ignorant of his identity.  The pregnant woman is carrying twins, the article reports.  So it would seem that not only will those two children not have a father in their home, but they may never even know who their biological father is and will therefore be totally ignorant of one-half of their origin as human beings.

In addition to these two tragic cases of a total abandonmentment of the Judaeo-Christian principles of religion, we have the case of the Episcopalian bishop in New Hampshire who was elevated to the dignity of being a bishop even though it was publicly known that he is a practicing homosexual. And more recently, he made it known publicly that he has been in a treatment program for alcoholism.

Many historians and theologians are now speaking of our “post-Christian” civilization.  Here are three glaring examples of it. We must be aware that western civilization which was once so deeply imbued with Christian principles has now, to a great degree, turned its back upon Our Lord Jesus Christ, his teaching and even his relevance to our modern world at all. In this country we have relatively new religions or philosophies of life like Mormonism, Christian Science, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Eckankar, and now Scientology—all of which are less than 200 years old. Some of them profess some degree of belief in Christ; others make no pretence of being Christian.

Imagine the damage to the Christian faith of our teenagers and young adults that can be done by these youth-idols like Tom Cruise and other young people in the entertainment world who flout Christian moral principles entirely and make themselves the basis of their “faith.”  All the more reason for us to know, love, and practice the supernatural faith that Jesus has given to the world, and to do what we can to permeate our society with that holy faith. 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 5, 2015

Feast of Saint Judith (5 May 2015)

The Liturgy of the Hours quotes Sacred Scripture in saying: “Christ was given up for our sins and rose again for our justification.” So we understand that Our Divine Lord’s death on the cross and then his resurrection from the tomb are two sides of the same coin. It is called Redemption or Salvation, and hence we speak of Jesus as our Redeemer and our Savior.

On the cross Jesus died in atonement for our sins, thus becoming the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” as Saint John the Baptist called him. And then he rose from death, to share his new life with us. Just before ascending into heaven, he said to his disciples and to us: I go to prepare a place for you so that where I am, you also might be.

When we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, we receive him as he is in heaven today. We receive the Lord who lived, suffered, died on the cross, rose from the tomb, and is now in heaven preparing a place for us. And one of the principal ways he prepares a place for us is to give us the grace which attracts us to the sacraments, especially to the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.

So when we pray, let us thank Our Lord for living for us, for suffering for us, for dying for us, for rising for us, and for preparing a place in his Father’s kingdom for us. Let us celebrate Easter with all the joy and gratitude we can muster, and then to look forward to the moment when Our Lord will come to take us with him into his eternal kingdom.  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 4, 2015

Feast of Saint Florian (4 May 2015)

Some years ago Hollywood came out with a movie called “Love Story,” whose musical theme is very beautiful and was extremely popular for years.  But the producers of the film came up with a really stupid slogan which was supposed to help promote the film.  It was, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  I don’t know who came up with that nonsense, but I suspect that he or she had never really been in love.  Unfortunately, we humans in our clumsiness and selfishness often offend others, even those we love the most, and we MUST say “I’m sorry,” and really mean it.

In the opening prayer of today’s Mass, we say to Our God, “Father of Mercy, hear the prayers of your repentant children. . .” A repentant person is one who is conscious of having done wrong and offended someone, and is truly sorry and willing to admit it. The cry of the repentant person is simply: I’m sorry! This is so true that when Our Divine Lord founded his Church and gave it its sacramental system, he instituted one sacrament out of the seven to be a liturgical, official, life-giving way of saying “I’m sorry.” It is the sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. When a child can truthfully say, perhaps with tears in small eyes, “I’m sorry,” there is hardly a parental heart, no matter how angry or offended, that does not melt and instantly forgive. When lovers have offended one another, nothing can be as healing and restorative than those sincere words: I’m sorry. And we know from the teachings of Our Lord that any sin will be forgiven if the sinner sincerely acknowledges his or her guilt and returns to God saying, in all truth, “I’m sorry.”

So, don’t ever fall for the Hollywood drivel, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” That might be a catchy slogan, but it’s very poor psychology and even poorer theology. 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 1, 2015

Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker (1 May 2015)

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 capitalist 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:  This message was composed some years ago.

Posted by: fvbcdm | April 30, 2015

Feast of Pope Saint Pius V (30 April 2015)

On this last day of April, the Church celebrates the feast of Pope Saint Pius V, and because he was a Dominican, we members of the Family of Saint Dominic have more than the usual reason to celebrate.

I was struck in the last few days by something having to do with Saint Pius.  Because of her bitter persecution of the Church in the British Isles, Saint Pius excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I, hoping that that would turn her kingdom against her and force her to treat the Catholics under her rule with justice and the fairness they deserved.  But much time had elapsed since her father, Henry VIII, had wrenched the Church away from Rome and made it into a schismatic and heretical group.  And her Catholic half-sister had used similar means to try to bring the British Isles back to union with Rome, so the people of the British Isles called her “Bloody Mary” and would have little to do with her. She ruled only 5 years, from 1553–1558, then died leaving the throne to Elizabeth who could now complete the divorce of her realms from the Catholic Church.

While thinking about these events, I received a postcard from a friend who was traveling in Rome with his wife.  He bought postage stamps at a Vatican post office, and it happened that the stamp he put on the postcard which he sent to me had been issued in honor of the good relations between the Vatican and the United Kingdom, which is what England and Scotland is now officially called. On the face of the stamp there appears the image of Pope Benedict XVI, the British flag, and Westminister abbey.  A far cry from the situation that obtained in 1570 when the English Queen was excommunicated by the Pope!  In our own day, we have seen British royalty visit the Popes in the Vatican, and Popes welcomed into Buckingham Palace in London.

This morning at Mass, we prayed for the continuing progress of the good will and ecumenical union between Canterbury and Rome so that even after more than four hundred years, the desires of Pope Saint Pius V can be fulfilled.  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 | April 29, 2015

Feast of Saint Catherine of Siena (29 April 2015)

Those of us who are my age have lived through a new era within Church history. When I was born, there were no female Doctors of the Church all down the nearly twenty centuries of Church history. Now, less than 80 years later, we have three of them, and I suppose that in the future, there will be more. The three whom we now have are, in order of their being declared Doctors of the Church, Saint Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun of 16th century Spain; Saint Catherine of Siena, a Dominican laywoman in 14th century Italy, and then Saint Therese of Lisieux, another Carmelite nun in 19th century France. We Dominicans are proud of the fact that in terms of chronology, Saint Catherine of Siena, the Dominican was the earliest to be given the great honor of being declared a Doctor of the Church even though that honor was given to her only a few years after it had been conferred upon Saint Teresa of Avila.

I speak of this today because we are celebrating Saint Catherine’s feast today. When she was a small child of six, she saw a vision in the sky above her home town of Siena in central Italy. In the vision Our Lord appeared to her dressed in the robes of the Pope, and for the rest of her life, Catherine always loved the connection with the Bishop of Rome—the Pope—and our Divine Lord Jesus Christ.

She often referred to the Pope as “our sweet Christ on earth,” and she spent the rest of her life serving the Papacy and the individual Popes who occupied the chair of Saint Peter during her lifetime. Because of the complicated politics of the Church in Europe at the time, the Popes had gone to live in Avignon, a city in what is now southeastern France. This condition of having the Bishop of Rome living in Avignon created problems for the Church, and Saint Catherine did her best to get the Popes back to Rome where they belonged. It finally came to pass, but only after tremendous effort on the part of this remarkable woman.

Her personality was so strong and her appeal so great over those who met her and came to know her that they were often called the “caterinati”—the “Catherinated ones” who had fallen under her spell and took their cues from her in terms of their great love for God, our Lord Jesus Christ, his Church, and the Popes.

Today, let us imitate Saint Catherine, the earliest woman to be declared a Doctor of the Church, in her great devotion to our Lord, His Church, its Popes, and in particular the present pope. If we are Catholics worthy of the name, we must imitate Saint Catherine in her devotion to these various elements in the true Church which Christ has built upon the Rock of the Papacy. 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 | April 28, 2015

Feast of Saint Peter Chanel (28 April 2015)

Catholic Daily Message for the Feast of Saint Peter  Chanel (28 April 2015)

Back in the early part of the 20th century, there was an English/Irish playwright and man of letters named George Bernard Shaw. He was an arrogant man, who had very definite opinions on most subjects, including religion. He said that he hated Christianity, because due to its emphasis on the cross, it should have been called crosstianity, and he decided that there was something evil about any religion that venerated a cross or any form of capital punishment.

In the Gospel, Our Divine Lord says, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all things to myself.” Jesus was lifted up three times in the sense in which he uses the term. He was lifted on the cross, he was lifted out of the tomb, he was lifted into heaven by his ascension forty days after his resurrection.

All my life has been lived in the presence of the crucifix. We had at least one in my home when I was a child; every one of the classrooms of my grade schools and high school had a crucifix on display; and in religious life, we have crucifixes everywhere. Recently I went to visit one of our nuns from this monastery in the public hospital here in Lufkin. I noticed to my sorrow that there was no crucifix in her room. Once, I had to spend an entire month in the Veterans’ Hospital of New Orleans because I had hepatitis. I obtained a picture of Our Lord on the cross and had it placed on the wall where I could see it. Just the other day, I read about some sophisticated woman who wanted her child to have the good education offered by a Catholic school in her town, but she was put off by the fact that there was a crucifix in each classroom of the school. She said that she didn’t want her child to be surrounded by all those depictions of death in the school building.

A crucifix is not primarily a depiction of death. Rather, it is the depiction of the great love which God has for us. That love prompted the Son of God to take upon himself our human nature which includes a material body, and human mortality, that is, the ability to die. It is true that Jesus died on the cross, but it is even more true that just about 36 hours later, he rose from the tomb to new and eternal life which he wants to share with us. So a crucifix is our way of reminding ourselves that God loves us, that Jesus laid down his life for us, and as he himself said, “Greater love than this, no man has.” His death is so important a part of his divine mission that even after his resurrection, he kept in his body the holes in his hands, feet, and side, made by the nails and the spear of his executioners. We call the day on which Jesus died GOOD Friday. We sign ourselves with the Sign of the Cross. The cross is a beloved symbol and a reminder not of death, but of love, and resurrection. 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 | April 24, 2015

Feast of Saint Fidelis of Sifmaringen (24 April 2015)

Some years ago, one of our Dominican professors of sacred scripture at our seminary for the Paris province in northern France came into class one day. He said to the students: what, in your opinion, is that passage in the gospel which most clearly indicates the personality and character of Jesus? Different ones suggested this passage and that one. He listened to their choices, and then he told them that in his own opinion, Our Lord’s personality shines out most clearly in the episode when he is confronted by the woman caught in adultery. Her accusers and would-be executioners are the religious leaders of the people: scribes and Pharisees. They are hustling her outside the city walls where executions took place. She was caught in her sin and deserved to die according to the law of Moses. But before killing her, they could use her to catch Our Lord in the horns of a moral dilemma. The law said that she was to be killed. But Jesus was always talking about mercy and forgiveness, and had even dared to correct the law of Moses. What would HE say about the case?

Jesus heard them out, and then, since he was already seated on the floor of the temple courtyard, bent over and began writing with his finger in the sandy dust always present in Jerusalem. They pressed him for an answer: shall we stone her or not? He answered, “Let the one without sin throw the first stone at her.” Then he went back to his writing in the dust. We don’t know what he was writing, but one by one, her accusers melted away into the crowd, leaving the trembling, humiliated, condemned woman there with Jesus. He looked up at her when they were alone, and said to her, “Is there no one left to accuse you?” “No one, sir,” she replied, wondering what he would say or do now by way of killing her or sparing her. “Neither do I condemn you,” he said very simply. “Now go, and don’t sin any more.” In the hands of the religious authorities, she was as good as dead. In the hands of Jesus, she is a free and forgiven woman.

Just a short time after that, Jesus would be in the hands of the same kind of people, but there would be no one to free him from them, so they would kill him. And when we find ourselves in the hands of Jesus, as we always are, he says the same thing to us as to her: “I don’t condemn you. Now go, and don’t sin any more.” And if we really avoid any further serious sin, then our salvation is assured.  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 | April 23, 2015

Feast of Saint George (23 April 2015)   

In the letter to the Hebrews, we are told: In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

We might well think to ourselves: it doesn’t look to me like he was heard. He certainly underwent a terrible death even though God the Father is called “the one who was able to save him from death.” We must remember that Jesus took upon himself our human nature principally so that he could die for us! His redemptive death on the cross was the high point of his career on earth, and was then validated by his resurrection from the tomb about 40 hours later.

In the garden of Gethsemani on that previous Thursday night, he had prayed, “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me.” He knew it wasn’t possible. He knew that if he had been delivered from death, he would have failed of the whole purpose of his incarnation. But the prospect of the scourging, crowning with thorns, and the horror of crucifixion was so frightening that he cried out to the Father from the depths of human fear. Remember, he was like us in all things but sin. Fear is not sin, and crucifixion is an indescribably cruel, painful death. So, as Jesus himself says on that night of fear and grief, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Well, we ask, how can Hebrews say “He was heard”?  He was heard in two ways: he was given the courage to go through his passion and death, and then his sufferings and death were made efficacious as the salvation of the world by his resurrection. God hears all prayers, and in his wisdom and love, he does what he knows to be best. He doesn’t save Jesus from death, rather he makes the death of Jesus the source of life for billions of others.

When you buy a little packet of seeds in the store, they will remain just as they are unless they are planted. Then they will grow and produce the marvels of which they are capable. Had Jesus not died, the divine seed of his body would not have been planted in the earth so as to produce a harvest greater than we can imagine. To fulfill the divine plan for our salvation, he had to die. And he did die, saying with his parched, feverish lips, “It is finished. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Loving and obedient to the end. The disobedient Adam’s sin which all mankind inherited is now overpowered by the obedient Jesus’s death on the cross.  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 | April 22, 2015

Feast of Saint Abdiesus (22 April 2015)

Somewhere in the Old Testament we read, “What great nation has gods as close to it as our God is to us?” The Jewish people of old had every right to boast of their closeness to God and his deep love for his people.

In the book of the prophet Isaiah, he says there, “Zion (i.e., the Jewish people) said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”

Our loving God compares his love for us to the love of a mother for her child—the greatest love that we know of on earth. He shows that his love for us is tender, affectionate, unconditional. And then in one of the gospels, Jesus tells us very simply, “God is love.”

Imagine the joy with which Jesus gave to the world the two great commandments: Love God . . . love your neighbor. And imagine again the joy with which he told the parable of the prodigal son returning to his father’s farm with the intention of asking to be treated like one of his father’s farm-hands. The father in the story represents God the Father; the returning repentant son represents every sinner turning back to God after drifting away into sin. The returnee got a royal welcome as if he were a returning hero. When the older brother objected angrily, the father said to him, “We must rejoice. Your brother went away and has returned. He was lost and now has been found.”

The bottom line is simply this: God loves us. He is a warm, tender, affectionate Father who wants us to live in union with him more than we want it, and who wants us to imitate his beloved Son by loving the Father as Jesus does. 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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