Posted by: fvbcdm | June 18, 2018

Feast of Saint Gregory Barbarigo (18 June 2018)

One of the most evident characteristics of Pope John Paul II is the graciousness with which he expresses himself and the elegance of his pronouncements. This week, the Vatican News Service has released the telegram that the Holy Father sent to Nancy Reagan on the death of former President Reagan. Since it concerns us all, I would like to share it with you today.

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR DEATH OF PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN VATICAN CITY, JUNE 8, 2004 — The following telegram was sent by Pope John Paul II to Nancy Reagan, the widow of the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, who died June 5 at the age of 93 at his home in California: “Having learned with sadness of the death of President Reagan, I offer you and your family my heartfelt condolences and the assurance of my prayers for his eternal rest. I recall with deep gratitude the late president’s unwavering commitment to the service of the nation and to the cause of freedom as well as his abiding faith in the human and spiritual values which ensure a future of solidarity, justice and peace in our world. Together with your family and the American people I commend his noble soul to the merciful love of God our Heavenly Father and cordially invoke upon all who mourn his passing the divine blessings of consolation, strength and peace.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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

Posted by: fvbcdm | June 11, 2018

Feast of Saint Barnabus (11 June 2018)     

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

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

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

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

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

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

June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of which we have just spoken briefly. And, as always, we dedicate this month to the love and service of God in our lives and ask that this new chapter in our lives be lived according to the holy will of God, so that it will be a fitting preparation for our entrance into eternal life.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago

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

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

From the religious point of view, Russia has not been totally converted.  We look forward to the day when Orthodoxy returns to the unity of Rome.  I hope that that is what Our Lady meant by her prophecy.  But at least, Christianity of the Orthodox kind is again being practiced by millions of Russians after having been forced underground for some 70 years.  And prayer and penance will eventually bring about the desire of Christ: “That there may be but one flock and one shepherd.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

 Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.

Posted by: fvbcdm | June 7, 2018

Feast of Saint Norbert (6 June 2018)

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

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

 Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.

Posted by: fvbcdm | June 6, 2018

Feast of Saint Boniface (5 June 2018)

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

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

A very great esteem for the sacraments, especially that of baptism, is certainly a sign of our faith.  Let us try always to be grateful for our own baptism, for the life of faith to which it introduces us, and to our parents who took care to see that most of us were baptized at the very dawn of our lives.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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

Posted by: fvbcdm | June 1, 2018

Feast of Saint Justin Martyr (1 June 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 26, 2018

Feast of Saint Philip Neri (26 May 2018)

Last Sunday, the Solemnity of Pentecost, was the last day of the Easter Season, and on the following day we resumed the Ordinary Time in the church calendar. However, there are two other theological realities that are so great that we celebrate each of them with a solemnity on the two Sundays following upon the Easter Season.

The first of them is the Blessed Trinity: the fact, revealed to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ, that in the one and only God there are three divine persons. This is what we celebrate this Sunday—Trinity Sunday, as it is often called. And then, next Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.  More about that later.

In the Old Testament, it was constantly declared to God’s chosen people: Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is ONE God. This sacred doctrine was reiterated so often to keep the Jewish people from falling into the error of polytheism, which means that there are many Gods. Nearly all the religions of the ancient world—the Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, etc., believed in a number of gods and goddesses, about whom they fabricated all sorts of stories, some of them beneath the dignity of even human beings, let alone of divine persons.  So the fact that there is only one God is absolutely basic to the Jewish concept of God, revealed to his people of old.

However, when Jesus began his public life, he began to indicate that he was divine, but was not the Father. Thus he speaks of two divine persons. This was profoundly upsetting to his Jewish contemporaries. Was this man not contradicting the very basis of Judaism? Then, to make matters worse, toward the end of his days on earth, Jesus began to speak of yet a third reality: the Holy Spirit, whom he also called “the Advocate” and “the Paraclete.”  He even instructed his apostles to go out into the whole world, preaching his gospel and baptizing those who accepted this new faith “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Every time we make the sign of the cross, we are professing belief in the three divine persons of the one and only God.

Thus we are a Trinitarian people—the word “trinity” coming from the Latin and the Greek prefix “tri–,” meaning three. We have triangles, tripods, tricycles, trios, and the Blessed Trinity. Among all the religions of the world, past and present, only Christianity is Trinitarian; only the followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ believe in the three divine persons in the one God.

Even though he knew that this new doctrine would upset his Jewish contemporaries and cause many of them to reject him, Our Lord considered it very important that we, his followers, know that there are three persons in God, and that we be devoted to each of them and all of them. Certainly one of the reasons why Jesus wants us to know something of the Holy Trinity is because the trinity is a community of persons, knowing and loving one another. They are the divine pattern upon which the human family—father, mother, and child—are modeled.  This is part of what God means when he says, in preparation for the creation of mankind: Now, let us make man in our image according to our likeness.

We are made in the image of God—but of a Trinitarian God. Three divine persons, knowing and loving one another, the source of being to all other things that exist, and the source of goodness and joy to those who are capable of appreciating goodness and joy. The second Person of the Trinity, who is called the Son of God and the Word of God, became a human being; we know him as Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Because he entered our world, our history, our human family, we feel closer to him than to the other two divine persons. But they are all God; the Father and the Spirit love us as much as does Jesus, our divine and human brother, and when we are living in the state of grace, all three of them take up their dwelling in our hearts, our persons. The indwelling of the Holy Trinity is one of the most beautiful and consoling doctrines of our Christian faith. Let us meditate often upon this tremendous dogma. Let us try to make the sign of the cross with great devotion and a deep consciousness of what it means and what it professes. May the almighty God bless us: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  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.

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

Posted by: fvbcdm | May 18, 2018

Feast of Pope Saint John I (18 May 2018)

This weekend we have the joy of celebrating the great solemnity of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, as it has been called.  Jesus formed the body of the Church during his life on earth by giving it its organization, its leaders (pope and bishops), its sacraments, its doctrine and moral code, and its first members: his apostles and disciples, including his own most holy Mother.

But he did not during his life on earth confer its soul upon it. That was to occur after Jesus’s ascension into heaven, when he sent the Spirit upon the Church, who is its soul and will animate and energize it until the end of time.

One of the most beautiful of our liturgical hymns and poems is that which was composed for the feast of Pentecost. It is the “Veni, Sancte Spiritus,” — “Come, Holy Spirit.”  Since its use at Mass is optional, I would like to include it in this daily message and encourage you to read it and reflect upon it on your own, not only at Pentecost but often throughout the year. It is the most venerable of prayers to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity:

Come, O Holy Spirit, come

And from thy celestial home

Shed a ray of light divine.

Come, O Father of the poor;

Come, thou source of all our store,

Come, within our bosoms shine.

Thou, of comforters the best,

Thou, the soul’s most welcome guest,

Sweet refreshment here below.

In our labor, rest most sweet,

Grateful coolness in the heat,

Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed light divine,

Shine within these hearts of thine

And our inmost being fill.

Where thou art not, we have naught;

Nothing good in deed or thought;

Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds; our strength renew.

On our dryness pour thy dew;

Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will;

Melt the frozen; warm the chill.

Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful who adore

And confess thee evermore

In thy sevenfold gift descend.

Give the virtue’s sure reward;

Give them thy salvation, Lord,

Give them joys that never end.

Amen! Alleluia!

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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