Pope Francis in Philly

The Pope’s visit last weekend was fantastic.  I got to concelebrate at the Mass in the Cathedral on Saturday and at the Mass on the Parkway on Sunday.  As you can see by the pictures, I was sitting with my brother Norbertines right next to the altar in the Cathedral.  We were not as close for the Mass on the Parkway, but we did get to see the Pope drive off after the Mass as you can see in the picture.  Then on Monday, I was surprised by a visit with a former staff member from Our Lady of Joy Parish in Plum, PA (Pittsburgh).  She had attended the Pope’s Mass on the Parkway with her family.

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Solemn Vow Pictures

Here are some pictures of Frat. James Garvey, O. Praem., as he professed his Solemn Vows during the celebration of the Eucharist yesterday on the Feast of Saint Augustine.

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Joyful Celebrations at Daylesford Abbey

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Today starts our three days of special celebrations here at Daylesford Abbey as we celebrate the Feast of Saint Augustine tomorrow.  Since we follow the Rule of Saint Augustine, his feast day if very important to us.

At Evening Prayer today, Frat. Sam Fulginiti (our second year novice this past year) will profess his Simple Vows.  These Vows are taken for a three year period.  Then tomorrow at Mass, Frat. James Garvey, O. Praem., will profess his Solemn Vows in the Abbey Church.  These Vows are sometimes referred to as Permanent Vows.  Finally on Saturday, both Frat. A. Gerard Jordan, O. Praem. And Frat. James Garvey, O. Praem., will be ordained Deacons.  These are truly joyful days for us at Daylesford Abbey.  Please keep Frat. Sam, Frat. James, and Frat. Gerard in your prayers.

 

 

and Jesus said, “bring the little children to me”

Last Sunday, we celebrated the solemnity of Corpus Christi, the solemnity celebrating the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood to us.  I was reflecting on this special day and my mind drifted back to a few weeks ago when I was the celebrant of the First Communion Mass for a group of second graders….and I began to ruminate on the words of Jesus mentioned in the title of today’s blog in connection with last Sunday’s solemnity….

I must admit that when I began the First Communion Mass and looked out at the second graders, they seemed to be very pre-occupied with what they and others were wearing for the First Communion, how to pose for picture for the families, and in general, seemingly more concerned with their surroundings, than with what they were participating in for the first time.  However, as the Mass continued, they seemed almost to become transfixed on what was happening, and as I looked out from the altar, I saw that the girls and boys were really cognizant of what was happening…they approached for reception of Communion with a reverence, a joy, and an awe, that was clearly visible on their faces and in their demeanor….and it reminded me of that scriptural quote in the title of today’s blog…..and then it affected me…..I was the “waiter” so to speak for the Lord’s supper, bring the Bread of Life to these children and I felt a sense of simple joy to be able to act as the “maître’d” so to apeak, at the Lord’s banquet.  I was the instrument in God’s hands bringing the Eucharist to these children….and it humbled me and made me full of reverence and awe for the celebration….indeed, in children we find the Truth.

After the First Communion Mass and then again last Sunday I thanked God for giving me the vocation of priesthood and especially allowing me to bring the Eucharist to these children….it is a humbling and exhilarating experience to the “servant” at the Lord’s table, serving the Bread of Life to the children…..and to mindful of the awesomeness of the Lord’s sacred mysteries! May I always wait on the Lord’s table.

My Evolution of Prayer…

In the past, I used to believe that God only wanted to hear from me in formally structured prayers that were prayed in some ritualistic type of way, always under the assumption that I needed to speak to God in a manner that St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine would offer up their prayers in their most famous works. At other times I would recite the Psalms word for word to be legitimately heard by God, as if He only cared about his holy servants thousands of years ago and not His present ones. This became all too predictable and formulaic after a while, and isn’t God really looking to hear from our own hearts what is troubling us anyway? We all have a unique voice with a diverse set of experiences that long to be in conversation with our Lord, so why not tell Him? Sometimes there’s the mystic in me when I pray, one who is always looking for some revelation to descend from the heavens and bathe me in divine light, providing a solution to the problems that I’m currently facing. Why not let my heart just be still and listen for the simple breath of God envelope me in a cocoon of silence rather than look for a visible sign or a Hollywood production? The good news is my prayer life is evolving as time marches on, for I find myself praying more simply or not even using words at all, letting my experiences do all the talking, which never would have happened years ago. Finally, my ultimate goal in my prayer life is to get to the point where I can pray without ceasing, instead of just praying at proscribed times of the day, and allow the non-verbal vibrations flow from my heart into the loving ears of our Lord and Savior.

God’s grace is poured out upon us

As part of my ministry, I spend some time each month ministering to residents of a facility for court adjudicated youth. A couple of weeks ago, three students approached me and began asking me questions about our Faith Tradition, and after a few minutes of speaking with them, they told me that the reason that they came to see me was because they wanted to be baptized and receive the sacraments because they have come to believe that Jesus is their savior and their saving grace in this world and in the next.  I was floored by the enthusiasm with which they spoke and it reminded me of how at Pentecost God’s grace was poured out on the disciples to go forth and proclaim God’s good news…..I listened and asked each of them to write something about why they wanted to be baptized and who Jesus is to them…One of them wrote” to me Jesus is my Savior, to me is more than a man who sacrificed himself for everyone’s sins.  To me he is a necessary part of my life, like a heart is to a body….Without Him I don’t have a guiding hand telling me what is good”.  How inspiring was such a statement from an adolescent in his situation.

I was so impressed and humbled by what these three young men said to me that I was humbled and realized how God’s grace was working in all of us this Easter season….I began lessons with them and on Pentecost Sunday, the three young men will be baptized and received into the Church….on such a special day the Spirit will be more manifested in their lives….I drove home thanking God that I could be a small part of the miracle of Faith that God was “gracing” these three young men with during this joyful season…My spirits were lifted and thanked God for giving me the grace of my vocation which enabled me to be part of the “graced time” God was working in the lives of these three young men….Alleluia!

The Next Phase…

One of the many blessings a Novice can experience during his first year of Novitiate would have to include the classes that increase his knowledge about the Order’s history, spirituality, liturgy, constitutions, and the process of discernment. Sadly, I’ve completed my last class today, and soon I will transition to Immaculata University, which will allow me to complete my undergraduate degree, helping me to fulfill some of the many requirements needed for ordination. It’s been a wonderful period of wisdom and insight, and I’m so grateful to the men and women who have passionately taught me all that they know. While the classes may have ended here at the Abbey, the dividends they will continue to payout over the rest of my life will be unending, as I’m more confident than ever about my choice of joining this Norbertine community. God has deeply blessed me over these last nine months and may I always do what is pleasing to Him in the next phase of my spiritual journey.

Moral Relativism Vs. The Golden Rule…

My classes have started at Immaculata University and I’m really digging the Christian Ethics class I’m currently involved in. Below is an excerpt from a posting I did in regards to the myth of moral relativism, as proposed by the author, Jonathan Dolhenty.

I agree with the author of this article that morality cannot be observed by proponents of relativism. Relativists do not believe that there is any one truth that binds us all together, but I’d like to propose at least one TRUTH that has historically done so…The Golden Rule. No matter if you’re Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Muslim, or Atheist, this ethical treaty would not be able to coexist with the theories of true relativism. As this essay so wonderfully pointed out, relativists want us to believe “what is good for you may not be good for me” and “everything is permitted”, if that so happens to float your boat, but how many of them would willingly subject themselves to being treated horrifically by another human being? The answer is probably close to none of them! This is why I believe that there has to be at least one ethic or principal that can be considered absolute. Relativism would negate the Golden Rule because sensitivity (empathy) to others is not a concern, thus unmasking hypocrisy, as all want to be treated with dignity and respect, even those that believe the selfish notion of “anything goes”.

Carrying the Cross…

Some thoughts on discipleship after reading The Gospel of Mark; which by the way the Church just celebrated his feast day a few days ago…

I’m most inspired by the discussion Jesus lays out for us on the condition of discipleship found in the Gospel of Mark. To take up one’s cross and follow Christ is the very essence of what it means to be His disciple. I have to die to myself and to the world around me if my vocation to the religious life is to be authentically lived. Living a vowed life through chastity, poverty, and obedience unites me more closely to Jesus Christ, and these vows should never be looked upon as crosses, for they are acts of supreme love towards our risen Lord. However, it’s not always easy pursuing these vows on a daily basis, and maybe it’s through this uneasiness that Christ’s cross is made manifest in my life. Only through hopeful perseverance of this daily cross will I gain a greater understanding on what it means to be a servant of God. This is perhaps the greatest challenge and struggle (cross) that I’ll ever have to face, but one that’s ultimately necessary to inherit the kingdom of God and make His kingdom known to all who are in need of a witness to the saving power of the Gospel message.

Men of Service

Wow!!! 595 men are expected to be ordained to the priesthood in the United States in 2015, an increase of 24.7% over last year’s figure of 477, according to data released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Check out the ordination class photos at:

http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/ordination-class/ordination-class-of-2015.cfm

released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It’s a great time to be a Catholic priest!

This information and photo was also promoted by:

www.opusbono.org

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