Homily – Marriage & Life!

Click HERE to link to the homily.

As preached at the chapel of St. Cecilia in Wisconsin Dells, WI.  Below are the quotes I used from Pope Francis:

God’s dream does not change; it remains intact and it invites us to work for a society which supports families. A society where bread, “fruit of the earth and the work of human hands” continues to be put on the table of every home, to nourish the hope of its children.

Let us help one another to make it possible to “stake everything on love”. Let us help one another at times of difficulty and lighten each other’s burdens. Let us support one another. Let us be families which are a support for other families.

Perfect families do not exist. This must not discourage us. Quite the opposite. Love is something we learn; love is something we live; love grows as it is “forged” by the concrete situations which each particular family experiences. Love is born and constantly develops amid lights and shadows. Love can flourish in men and women who try not to make conflict the last word, but rather a new opportunity. An opportunity to seek help, an opportunity to question how we need to improve, an opportunity to discover the God who is with us and never abandons us. This is a great legacy that we can give to our children, a very good lesson: we make mistakes, yes; we have problems, yes. But we know that that is not really what counts. We know that mistakes, problems and conflicts are an opportunity to draw closer to others, to draw closer to God.

Address at the Rally for the World Meeting of Families

Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be.

Evangelii Gaudium No. 213

 

Sustain us O Lord!

A blessed Lent to all!  May the good God aid you in every way as you take up battle against spiritual evil.

I wish to take this holy time to make known something I feel deep in my heart – everything to JESUS, through Mary, with Peter!

This is a refrain, an invocation, that was given by St. Josemaria Escriva.  It is one I have always used but since I have come to Rome I have understood it better than ever.  These are hard times in the life of the Church.  Many waves crash against the barque of Peter and the Faith wains in many parts of the world.  When we hear the words of Jesus from the Gospel, “But, when the Son of Man comes, will He find Faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) it is easy to tempted to dark thoughts and worries as trends hostile to the Faith spring up every where.

Of course, we are filled ever with hope, always with the joy of the Gospel that “fills the hearts of all those who encounter Jesus.”  (Evangelii Gaudium 1)

How did the world come to encounter Jesus?  Through Mary.  Not because of Mary – it was because God so love the world.  The Blessed Trinity is the reason, the cause and the end of all of this joy.  But the Blessed Trinity came to us through Mary.  When the world saw the face of Jesus Christ it saw the Face of God.

Lo sguardo pasquale Kopie

Jesus is the image of the invisible God.  He was seen with eyes and touched with hands and heard with ears and so forth.  Thus does He leave the Sacraments and thus did He leave His image.  He also left her image.

L'Avvocata

St. Josemaria has another saying, “Love for our Mother will be the breath that kindles into a living flame the embers of virtue hidden in the ashes of your indifference.”  (The Way 492)

The image of Jesus at Manopello is a miracle.  The image of the Virgin Mary at Monte Mario is not.  Jesus is God.  Mary is not.  But Jesus and Mary are inseparably linked – His humanity comes from her humanity.  Her desire is His desire, “Do whatever He tells you.”  Devotion to her will lead you only to love Him more and more and more.

The image of our Lady, which I have posted above, is the mother of all icons, of all images of Mary throughout history (except Guadalupe, which I will write about another time.)  This image was lost to the world for many years.  And that was ok – the world didn’t need it in order to live and love Faith.

In these days the image, through amazing workings of Providence, is known again.  As Pope Benedict XVI went to see the Face of Jesus at Manopello, he also went to see the face of Mary on Monte Mario (to Jesus, though Mary, with Peter.)  I have no doubt that these images will be at the center of the New Evangelization.  To contemplate them is to contemplate the divine – Jesus is Divine and Mary does nothing but point to the Divine.

Today I was able to live the unity of Jesus and Mary in a particular way.

Elevation of the Chalice

I celebrated the Mass of Ash Wednesday at the altar of the chapel in the Most of the Holy Rosary, which houses the icon L’Advvocata of Mary.  To raise the Sacred Host and Chalice is the greatest of act of glory that can be given to God.

Before L'Advocata 3

To look into the eyes of the Virgin Mary does nothing but nourish and magnify that glory in one’s heart.  Look at her and she will have you look at Him.  Do you have trouble with your resolutions?  She will help.  Is the fire of your faith cold, she will breathe on it – wherever she is the HOLY SPIRIT is right there too (Annunciation & Pentecost anyone?)!

Before L'Advocata 2

I am going to work to make these images (Jesus’ image at Manopello and Mary’s on Monte Mario) better known and better love because God used them once in history to renew Faith on the earth and He is going to do it again!

ALL FOR JESUS, ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE!  All through Mary – look to her and soon you will be looking with her and glorifying God with all you have and are.

A blessed Lent to all.

I will be back in Madison in one week – a sad but joyful reality – I kindly ask for your prayers for safe travel and resolution to my health situation.

A Personal Update

On Wednesday, March 12th I will be returning to Madison to seek treatment for my recurring cellulitis infection (from this summer) as it seems to be progressing to a dangerous stage.
The decision has been made with a lot of consultation and all is well here in Rome regarding what has to happen.  I will return to Rome in September and continue my course of study in the normal cycle.
I will be living at a local parish rectory with one of my best friends, for which I am very grateful.  As of this moment I am doing well – the short-term prognosis is good but the long-term is quite negative.  I will be pretty normal until I begin treatment and, at this time, I can’t quite know when that will be.
Last July was the first time this infection sprang up.  It was (and always preceded) by about twenty-four hours of fever & chills and intense pain my lower joints as well as tremendous fatigue.  Roughly at the end of this twenty-four hour period the infection appears – in the middle toe of my left foot.  The infection re-occurred again in late September and again in late December.
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that occurs underneath the skin – there is none of the usual manifestations associated with infection, i.e. no pus or open wound.  The infected area becomes bright red, swollen, hot and very painful to touch or pressure.  Untreated, the infection will spread quickly and the immediate danger is if it should enter the blood-stream and cause blood-infection = sepsis.
Last week I was struck with the same symptoms only this time the redness and swelling were not after the fever & chills, but at the same time and the redness was not only in the middle toe of my left foot but also there was a red-line in the middle of my foot.  This was a bad sign.
Since that day I have been in a great deal of contact with doctors and nurses both in Italy and in the U.S.  There is general agreement on the following points:
  1. Recurring cellulitis in the same area of the body is extremely rare in someone who is not elderly, is not diabetic and has never had a surgery.
  2. The infection is obviously not weakening but spreading.
  3. There is a danger that the infection is/will become resistant to oral antibiotics
  4. There is a greater danger of osteomyelitis= bone infection, which can lead to a number of bad things.
  5. I should seek special treatment as soon as I can and especially before another flare-up of the infection.

Because of all of this I will return to the United States to seek extended treatment.  In the U.S. I can obtain treatment in out-patient care, which I cannot do in Italy.  Therefore, to return home is also a greater aid to my course of study.

When I get home the first object will be to see if there is bone-infection or not and go from there.
Your prayers are appreciated and know that I will pray for you.

Sometimes its hard to know what the right thing to do is.

Apologies for not having posted in a while.  I have been terribly ill of late.  Have no worries, all is looking up but the past two weeks have taken a lot out of me.

Now, to the brief point.

Ever had a hard time know what the right choice is?  You know, sometimes there is a decision to make and its not certain what direction you should take or where you should go.  I have had that short of moment recently and wanted to share some little spiritual advice.

Point 1 – the Moral Choice.

  • The first thing is to look at the two (or multiple) choices and first ask, ‘Is this morally right or morally wrong.’
  • This is generally the easiest step and if you are confused, ask an expert.
  • If the answer to a point is, ‘no, this is not morally justifiable.’  Then don’t do it.
  • If the answer is, ‘yes, this is morally justifiable.’  Then you can do it

Point 2 – Can I do it?

  • This is an important question.  Can I do one thing or another – do I have the practical, intellectual, physical, psychological, economical, capacity to do this thing.
  • While this question is fairly easy, it requires courage and honesty.  Do not kid yourself with this question.
  • Be courageous = have a broad avenue for saying ‘yes.’  Challenge yourself, push yourself – verso l’alto!  (to quote Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati.)
  • Be honest = sometimes we have already found our limit and know that, at this time, I just cannot achieve what is asked in this instance.

Point 3 – What do I want to do?

  • This is something that many well-meaning Christians miss.  They assume that what they want can’t possible be what God wants.  Since when?
  • You have a particular genius – a personality, skills, talents, hopes, dreams – a way of looking at creation that is singular to you.
  • True, you are not the only person in the world – that’s why this is not the first point – but God’s Will intersects with your life.
  • Be not afraid – you matter, you count, you are important.  “Follow after me and I will make you fishers of men.”  There is a choice here.  One can follow or not, one can walk or not but the individual must choose.

Point 4 –

Lo sguardo pasquale Kopie

  • Look at our Lord, ask Him what to do right to His Face.
  • After point 3, pray.
  • Have you ever had a conversation with someone?  Have you ever put forward and idea?  I mean a good idea, one you have thought about, have researched and pondered.  When you explain it to a person, face to face, you can tell what they think even before they speak.
  • This is true of our Lord.  His Face, incarnate in the Lord Jesus Christ, can be see and descried, it can be sought after and found.
  • Pray.

In case you are wondering the best place to see the face of Jesus, well there are many, but here’s number one:

5E1584551

The Holy Eucharist y’all.

Genius advice?  Probably not.  But even her in holy Rome it’s the way to go.

Love you all and ask for your prayers.

I Fell in Love Today

I have always loved the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Today, I fell in love with her.

This morning my friend Fr. Daren and I met Mr. Paul Badde at a little cafe not far from St. Anne’s Gate at the Vatican.  From there Mr. Badde took us to the Dominican Convent of the Holy Rosary on Mont Mario in Rome.

Mont Mario is a hill in Rome, though not one of the Seven Hills of Rome.  In ancient times it was outside of the city, located on the western side of the Tiber River and a bit north of the Vatican Hill.  It is recognizable to many who have visited Rome as it is the tallest hill in Rome and there is an observatory on the hill which can be seen from most parts of the city.  It is not often visited as there are many private homes and a beautiful nature preserve (which is not a normal Roman tourist destination.)  It is also held that Mont Mario is the place where Constantine had his vision of the Cross in the sky before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

The Convent of the Holy Rosary has ancient foundations but the current church is a baroque building build in 1725.  The convent is home to an order of cloistered Dominican nuns – about 25 of them.  While Mont Mario is not the original location of this particular convent, the convent was founded by St. Dominic himself when he came to Rome, about the year 1220.  It is a beautiful place that, in addition to this wonderful contemplative order, houses significant relics of St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Catherine of Siena.

It is also home to this icon:

L'Avvocata

The icon is called in Greek Hagiosoritissa in Italian L’Avvocata or The Advocate.  It is sometimes all called Our Lady of St. Luke

I have not had time to research this history very deeply as most of it seems to be in either Latin or Italian and is almost completely lost in English.

In brief, it is a treasure.  It is said to have been painted by St. Luke.  The first established Christian community outside of Jerusalem sent a request saying, more or less, ‘hey, you have the Apostles, you have the Virgin Mary, can we at lest get a picture or something?’  Thus, the first images of Jesus and Mary were sent to this place.  When the Muslim conquests began they were sent to Constantinople.  When Constantinople was first threatened, the image of Our Lady came to Rome and was entrusted to the Dominicans.  That is the super short version.

It carbon dates to the first century, so that claim is clear.  There is an extant record of its being brought to Constantinople, so that is clear.  There is also a record of Greek monks bringing it to Rome, so the line is clear.  It is also a unique type of iconography.  Many iconographers have come to see the image and have testified that the method used to make this icon is unique and has been lost to history.  There is more historical detail but, it seems to have the clearest and strongest of all claims to be, if not the original icon of the Virgin Mary, an icon written by someone who knew Mary personally and looked upon her face.

I looked upon that face today and didn’t want to leave.

L'Avvocata and Me

The eyes of this image pulled me in like nothing I have seen before and filled me with a consolation I have not felt.  it was a window into endless beauty, pureness of love and joy beyond telling.  More to the point, when I looked at and prayed before this icon of Mary, my heart was pulled to love the Eucharist in the Tabernacle like I had never done before.  We prayed the Rosary before this image and all I could think was, ‘I don’t love Jesus enough but I can love Him more and more and more and more and more. . .’  It was a heavenly peace.

In brief, wow!  It is much like the image of Jesus at Manoppello (which I will write about soon.)  How do more people not know about this!

Pope Benedict XVI visited and venerated the image in 2010.  If I was the Pope I would be up there once a week and have that icon in St. Peter’s for just about every Marian feast day there is and twice on Saturdays.

It seems to me that the good God is re-unveiling some of this wondrous images and relics and working many miracles in a time when the world needs it so very much.  St. Faustina is proved true when she talks about the Lord God working  great miracles of the heart in these times.  May He be blessed forever!

As the West declines and the last lights of this once great civilization go off – a bright horizon opens by the work of the Holy Spirit to re-fire Divine Love in souls.

True enough I hope to obtain a doctorate in Liturgy from the Pontifical Institute for Liturgy at the Pontifical Athaneum Sant’Anselm while I am in Rome.  Just as much I hope to help spread the word about these great and holy icons (Manopello and Mont Mario) for I feel that, as He did in the early days of the Church, the good God wishes to use these things to bring people to know the wonder and glory of His Son, Jesus Christ.

O, and they have the hand of St. Catherine of Siena.

Daren and I with the hand of St. Catharine

O felix Roma!

Felix Roma Part 3 – Treasury of Christendom

Lest the reader think me too dark or depressive, feel free to read this post as a counterweight to ‘Felix Roma Part 2.’  I do not change anything said in that post but wish, in this post, to let people know some of the things that Christians have brought to counterweight the immense evil that is at the foundation of this city.

As you may know, to save the world God sent His only begotten Son who is the visible image of the invisible God.  The radical nature of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is one of, if not the most, shocking and beautiful aspects of the Christian Faith.  It is beyond conception that the utterly transcendent God will incarnate in a human nature to show His Face to the world, leave His commands and bring salvation to the world from the inside out thus redeeming all and making all beautiful.

By His Divine Will and through human cooperation icons of this salvation have been left all over the world.

The Sacraments of the Church are the first and most important of those things.  Holiness of life is the next of those important icons.  From these things a whole treasure of Christian holiness, art, architecture, music, poetry, literature – in short, culture – has arisen.  In no place is this more evident than in Rome.

Let’s take saints for one: no, we can’t know these things for certain until either canonization or Eternity, but there are SO many bishops, priests, deacons, religious, seminarians and lay people living and working towards a life of holiness that I am truly amazed.  Indeed, I have met many people striving for holiness whenever I have been but here in Rome it is truly edifying.  The house I live in, the Casa Santa Maria, would be prime example of that.  Such a gathering of orthodox, hard-working, smart, prayerful, humble and good humored men would be hard to find anywhere else.  This reality is replicated all over the city and is truly edifying.

Let’s turn to relics of Saints – after Sacraments and Scripture – these are the greatest inspirations and helps to holiness.  First the princes – St. Peter and St. Paul have their mortal remains resting in the greatest shrines in the Christian world.  Let’s see, who else?  (Really some relic of all the Apostles are in this city), St. Gregory the Great, St. Leo the Great, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Pius V, St. Pius X, St. John Paul II, St. Josephat, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. Aloysius, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Monica, St. Josemaria,  St. Agnes, St. Cecelia – and these are just the ones I saw this week.

What else?

The relics of Cross of Christ, the tip of the spear that pierced His side, the Crib from Bethlehem, the Stairs from the praetorian in Jerusalem,  the table used at the Last Supper, chains the St. Peter wore while imprisoned, the house where St. Paul lived while in Rome, the oldest known image of the Virgin Mary, and the list could go on.

Art?  Let’s leave out all the ancient frescoes and mosaics whose creators we don’t know.  We still have Michelangelo, Rafael, Bramante, Maduro, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Bernini.  This is really a lame attempt as I am only listing things that come up as I write.

Let me just list some of the simple things in my neighbor hood to illustrate.

Out the back door in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles.

Blog - 12 Apostles

Not only is it beautiful and contains much moving devotional art, it houses the relics of the Apostles Simon and James the Less.  Not bad.  It also houses the relics of some early martyrs.

One block away out the front door is the Trevi Fountain.

Blog - Trevi

Not a holy site but man is it beautiful, especially at night.

A five minute walk out the back door, on the famous Via del Corso is the church of Santa Maria in Via Lata.

Blog - Santa Maria in via Lata

Not only does this place house a beautiful and very ancient image of our Lady, it has Eucharistic Adoration every night from 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, does and amazing apostolate for the poor in downtown Rome, it also happens to be built on top of the house where St. Paul lived during his house arrest in Rome.  St. Luke also lived there for a time.

About a 10 minute walk from the Casa is the Basilica of Sant’Iganzio.  Oddly enough St. Ignatius is not buried here.  But you can venerate the tombs of St. Aloysius or St. John Berchmanns, or, if that’s not enough, St. Robert Bellarmine.  Oh, the ceiling is both beautiful and a giant leap forward in the history of art.

Blog - Sant'Ignacio

The church of Sts. Charles and Ambrose is not ‘in my neighborhood’ but is only a 15 minute walk down the beautiful Via del Corso, heading to the very beautiful Piazza del Populo.  Also, I visited there today to do my mental prayer and pray Vespers.

Blog - Borromeo facade

Oh – and the heart of St. Charles Borromeo is there.

Blog - Borromeo heart

All this and more is in this city because Peter shed his blood here, Paul preached here, martyrs died for the Faith here, Saints lived for Jesus here, Popes governed for the good of the world from here, artists sacrificed their gifts for God here.   God has placed such unique goodness in this city for two millenia and it is far from over.  What I have listed above is only a small part of the glorious things in this city.

It is a privilege to live here and I hope to honor it with my work.

O felix Roma!