Monthly Archives: May 2012

Pentecost – A Long Term Plan for His Church

“…the plan was much deeper than a one-time help. God’s plan for His Church is long-term, and His plan for each one of us is eternal. Understanding this, His Spirit inspired the Apostles to select their successors who lead the Church today”

“Can you imagine waiting a full week after the Ascension, praying for Jesus to send what he had promised? It was a feeling of ‘What are we to do?'” said Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States at Pentecost Sunday Mass this morning.

Today concludes the Easter Season and it truly is an ‘Easter’ celebration because it brings the Paschal mystery to a full circle. Reiterating two previous posts, the Apostles were paralyzed with fear until they realized the truth of the Resurrection; however, fully understanding that this new-found courage was not sustainable, Jesus promised us an Advocate.

Pentecost is rightfully considered the birthday of the Catholic Church, for without the constant guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church never would have sustained or come to fruition.

In John 14:26, we hear, “But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.”

Among the gifts that the Holy Spirit showered upon the Apostles were wisdom, counsel, and fortitude. These preserved the Apostles from falling into dogmatic error and gave them the Divine help they needed to go on with their mission of bringing the Good News to the world as Jesus instructed immediately before His Ascension.

But as we know realize, the plan was much deeper than a one-time help. God’s plan for His Church is long-term, and His plan for us is eternal. Knowing this, He inspired the Apostles to select their successors and gave them and His Church access to the gifts of the Holy Spirit as well. At Confirmation, we too receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Like the Apostles, we too play a role in the conversion of the world. First, we must pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts. Only then can we act with the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we were first given access to at our Confirmation.



Where do the Vatican Ambassadors Come From?

As mentioned before, I am currently packing up and preparing to go to Rome for   the month of June. So for the next few days, this blog will sadly be empty of any intellectually stimulating blog posts.

In February, there was a post on the term “Holy See” vs “Vatican City”

The Ambassadors of the Holy See to each county are known as “Apostolic Nuncios.” Nuncios are a part of the Vatican Diplomatic Service and are usually Archbishops, although they do not have a diocese to manage. Not every county has one, but have you ever wondered where the Nuncios come from?

Here is a low-tech but interesting graphic I put together with the help of Google Maps and Paint.


Reflection on Ascension Thursday Mass

“and then the altar-server extinguishes the Paschal Candle to signal that the Lord Jesus has ascended to heaven.”

Can you imagine being present on Mount Olivet on that day? Can you imagine the confusion and fear knowing that God incarnate, who in great shock to the Apostles, actually rose from the dead but is now leaving?

In the Gospel for Ascension Thursday, we heard, “He upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart” (Mark 16:14). Following Jesus’ death, the Apostles hid in fear until they saw the risen Christ. Once they knew He had risen from the dead, their fervor returned.

Knowing that this Easter courage by itself was unsustainable, He warned them to prepare their hearts for the tough times ahead and promised them an Advocate(the Holy Spirit). Jesus also warns us against getting caught up in the excitement of being a Christian. The courage to proclaim the Gospel must lie deep in our hearts. We are instructed to transform our hearts and then to go out and share the Good News with the world.

The Gospel according to Mark ends right after the Ascension, “But they going forth preached every-where, the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed” (Mark 16:20). In the Tridentine Rite, the minister of the Gospel proclaims in Latin, “The Gospel of the Lord”, and then the altar-server extinguishes the Paschal Candle to signal that the Lord Jesus has ascended to heaven.


Where the Solemnity of the Ascension Fits on the Catholic Calendar

If you live in the red, today is the Solemnity of the Ascension and a holy day of obligation.

40 days after Easter, He ascended into heaven in His glorified body. Jesus did not leave us alone; rather, he promised us an Advocate who arrived on that first Pentecost Sunday. 

Calendar and Canon Law Yes, there are a few occasions in which the Catholic Calendar proves to be a bit confusing, but what else can you expect from an organization with such a rich 2,000 year history! Today is the very holy and joyful Solemnity of the Ascension in most parts of the world; however, with good pastoral reasons, the bishops in any particular ecclesiastical province or country can transfer this feast to the subsequent Sunday, replacing the 7th Sunday of Easter. Such is the case in most of the United States.

This authority can be found in Canon Law 1246

§1. Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation. The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.

§2. With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, however, the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.


A Defense of Marriage

“If the state was the be-all end-all of marriage, would it actually be worth anything other than on paper?”

The same-sex rights movement has often been compared to the civil rights movement

 That is a really tough question to  address for those of us who are a part of Generation Y (Millenials, 80’s, 90’s babies). We’ve grown up in a culture that is tolerant of just about anything. The good news is that the state neither created marriage nor existed before it, and therefore it is not the be-all end-all of marriage.

There have been several heroic campaigns for human dignity just in this past century(freedom from Communism, civil rights, women’s suffrage, expanded realization of the right to self-determination after the World Wars). That prompts many to wonder whether or not gay marriage will be the civil rights movement of the 21st century.

What is Marriage?

Marriage is a union, before God, of one man and one woman. In Christianity, it is one of the seven Sacraments. In the historical context of our American culture, marriage is something that is recognized, but not created by the state. If the state was the be-all end-all of marriage, would it actually be worth anything other than on paper? The institution of marriage is very much a part of how we best express our human nature. It has been in existence since before the state and before the Catholic Church.

The Archdiocese of Washington released a statement last week on this topic, “The word ‘marriage’ describes the exclusive and lifelong union of one man and one woman open to generating and nurturing children. Other unions exist, but they are not marriage.

Natural Law

Because something is a preference, religious or secular, or even natural does not mean that it should be sponsored by the state. For example(but not in comparison), 17th century British philosopher John Locke, who was an inspiration to the Americans leading up to the War of Independence, said that human sacrifice should not be tolerated by the state even under the guise of religious liberty because it violates natural law and is therefore counterproductive to society (1st Treatise of Govt §58-9). If something is bad for the greater good of society, even if it is good for the individual, should it be tolerated?

This is not necessarily a religious issue. As we exist in nature, it is impossible(without technology) for two men to jointly father a child just as it is impossible for two women to be the biological mothers of one child. Continue reading

Sanctifying the Day with the Liturgy of the Hours

Many Catholics hunger to grow closer to God in their Christian faith by praying just as members of the early Church did. One way to do this is to sanctify the day with public prayer.

Public Prayer: There are two types of prayer in the Catholic Church: public and private. The word public refers to the church praying together as a whole. The Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours are the only two types of public prayer. In this post, the focus will be on the Liturgy of the Hours. This tradition has been around since the very early Church and was inspired by King David who said he praised God seven times a day in Psalm 119.

Who prays the Liturgy of the Hours? Anyone can pray the Liturgy; however, the priests and religious members of the Church are obligated to pray and to do so on behalf of the church. You may see priests carrying around a book(that isn’t the Bible) during their daily tasks. It is likely the breviary, which contains the psalms and readings that he must pray that day for the Liturgy of the Hours.

When and What: There are seven main hours: Morning, Day, Midday, Afternoon, Evening, Office of Readings, and Night.

The psalms and readings are structured and prayed systematically on a calendar with four-week cycles(a total of 150 Psalms). In the English translations, there are three volumes of the Liturgy of the Hours which correspond to the liturgical seasons. For those who are not obligated to pray, there is a book called “Christian Prayer” which contains Morning, Evening, and Night prayer in just one volume that will last you year-round.

Recommendations: As lay members of the Church, we are not obligated to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. If this will help you grow in Christ’s love, then definitely give it a try. Know that it will be a struggle to remain consistent as I and many others know from personal experience. For beginners, start with the book of Christian Prayer and only do one of the three forms(Morning, Evening, or Night).  The structure can also be confusing. I still struggle with it because of my inconsistencies. The best advice I can give you is ask a priest because he is likely very familiar with it. It is a beautiful prayer that many lay people in the Church enjoy praying.


Gospel Reflection from Sunday – “I am the vine, you are the branches”

Whenever you hear someone say, “I am spiritual but not religious”, they are likely expressing the idea that religion takes away from our freedom to think and act for ourselves. But that is not true! We are made to live for God, so to be able to follow Him is in itself a great freedom.

In the Gospel according to John, Jesus tells us that He sustains all life. “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”

Father Peter, the Chaplain of Catholic Campus Ministry at George Mason University always gives great homilies, and this week it included a short demonstration! He pulled a leaf from a plant(which we will pretend is a branch of a vine) and waved it through the air. “Look, I am free!” But that branch is dying. The leaf on the right is the one he waved at the 10PM Mass on Sunday, but look at the one to its left. “He got away just before the 5:30 the day before.”


Like the leaf that got away just before the 5:30, Jesus said, “Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither.”

But there is good news too. Father Peter invited us to be regrafted to the vine through Confession and the frequent reception of Holy Communion. We are welcome back into the fullness of Christ’s love as soon as we are ready to come back.