Septuagesima Sunday 2019

Today, I will begin short posts concerning the spirit of the following liturgical days. I can’t promise daily posts as this is not possible with my studies, but I will be writing more frequently than I have the past couple of weeks.

A quick update, my exams went extremely well for this past semester. And this coming semester is very promising: some Scripture courses are thrown in there with an amazing course on Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude…just unpacking the Summa Theologica for 4 hours every week!

I also went on pilgrimage to Salzburg, hosted by a priest friend of mine. It was a cold and prayerful time, with a couple brezeln (pretzels) thrown in there. I met some families during those days as well. It is always edifying to meet prayerful and strong Catholic families. It helps an aspirant to the priesthood to understand just what he is laying down at the Altar, and WHY! I’ve seen the sacrifice of so many families, day in and day out. Prayers being said, work getting done, meals cooked, Masses attended, chores accomplished, and at the end of the day, the parents strive to be attentive to their growing little ones AND to each other. Some of my most formative moments have been in the presence of families, it really is an ecclesial reality.

On to the reflections. I’ll be taking inspiration from the work entitled Divine Intimacy. I may return to past posts from St. Thomas Aquinas’s reflections on Lent. The format is simple: one places himself in the Presence of the Lord, has two points of reflection, and then ends with a colloquy (a conversation with the Lord).

As has been spoken of before on this blog, we always overcomplicate prayer. What does Our Lord want? He wants us to be with Him. The talking, the listening comes. When we struggle with prayer, or even just the concept of prayer, we should ask ourselves: “Am I even honestly going before the Presence of God?” …

Celebration of Septuagesima at San Lorenzo fuori le mura – Roma. 17 Feb 2019.

Presence of God – O Lord, I come to You with a keen desire to learn how to respond to Your invitations. Our Father…

I. The collect of the Mass reminds us that we are sinners, but leads us to a profound humility; it leads us to the purpose we start on today in these preparatory days for Lent: “to the end that we, who are justly afflicted because of our sins, may through Thy mercy, be freed from them.” Humility is the first step – for who of us doesn’t need to progress in sanctity! – and St. Paul, in the epistle urges us to undertake the ceaseless spiritual labor of conversion to God – each step is a new conversion to God. Generosity is the key word in this spiritual labor: a generous struggle to overcome ourselves, a generous denial of self by humility, a generous denial of the body by physical mortification, all to receive the incorruptible crown of sanctity, of glory. [1 For 9: 24-27 – 10: 1-5].

II. Each hour is God’s hour; and He passes by and calls us, even to the very last hour! There are two aspects in this regard in today’s Gospel: first, each is called to labor assiduously in the Lord’s vineyard (for his own soul to be cultivated, first by the grace of Our Lord and then with our cooperation), and, second, that no one can be dispensed from giving thought and care to the welfare, the salvation, of others. First and foremost, every member of the Mystical Body of Christ is called to an apostolate by example, prayer and sacrifice. Jesus commands us: “Go you also into My vineyard.” [cf. Mt. 20: 1-6].

Colloquy: “In my trouble I call upon You, my God, and from Your holy temple, You hear my prayer . . . You are my strength, O Lord, my support, my refuge, my Redeemer, You are my help in time of trouble. He who knows You, hopes in You, for You do not abandon the one who seeks You. From the depths of the abyss. I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice. If You will mark our iniquities, O Lord, who can stand it? But with You there is mercy, and by reason of Your law, I trust in You, O Lord! [Gradual from the Mass]. My weapons for this battle of spiritual labor will be prayer, the practice of the presence of God, and silence. But, my Love, I cannot do this of my own power! And, hence, you say, ‘Come, follow Me; do not fear.’

O, You who invite me, help me to do what You ask of me.

Stational Church for Septuagesima Sunday – San Lorenzo fuori le mura.

First Friday: February 2019

O Most Precious Blood of Jesus, infinite price of the redemption of sinful humanity, solace and refreshment of our souls, Thou continuously foster our cause before the throne of Supreme Mercy.  I profoundly adore Thee and want, as much as possible, to make reparation for the insults and disrespect Thou hast received from mankind, especially from those who dare to blaspheme.

Who will not bless this Blood of infinite value!  Who would not be set aflame with love toward Jesus who shed this Blood?  Who would I be if this Divine Blood had not redeemed me?  Who removed it from the veins of my Lord to the last drop?  Love did it!  O immense love, which bestowed upon us this saving balm!  O immeasurable balm which sprang from a spring of immense love, may all hearts and languages praise Thee, exult Thee and give Thee thanks now and forever. Amen

Find the Devotions for First Friday: HERE.

See how you can help spread devotion to the Passion of Our Lord among seminarians by supporting the campaign Books for Seminarians, at this link HERE. The first goal is to provide around 250 books to the North American College in Rome. We are only at the 25% mark for this initial goal. In the end, this campaign is meant to provide 500 seminarians with a copy of a book of meditations on the Passion. Can you help? By praying for this campaign, by spreading the news of this effort, and by prayerfully considering to participate financially?

May God reward you!

Benefactor Mass and Books for Seminarians

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be offered by a priest friend of mine for the benefactors of Filii Passionis today (Tuesday) at 1 PM Rome time. Please unite your prayers to this Mass and know that your prayers will be included in the intention for the Mass.

I am so grateful for all the support and prayers that I receive. Often I’ll get little notes from people encouraging me by their prayers. These mean so much and are helpful in the daily perseverance of this project. Also, it is magnificent to see how far reaching this apostolate is, even in this seminal form of the blog and the books.

Sometimes I get messages of this or that holy card being found at a parish in the States I’ve never been to; I can’t begin to fathom the assistance of these prayers. The most recent email was from a seminarian. We entered seminary together and he eventually switched seminaries; I haven’t seen him since 2011 or 2012. He sent an email asking for a copy of the Meditations on the Passion for himself. Thanks to generosity in the campaign for the Books for Seminarians, I was able to send 10 copies to him.

Please spread the news of this campaign to provide a copy of this book for seminarians. My first goal is about 250 books for one seminary. [We are at 70 with the current level of giving, with the 10 being provided through my seminarian friend]. So your help in spreading the news of the campaign will produce fruit in the lives of future priests that goes beyond our expectations.

God reward you for your help in this.

Mary! Mary!

A short essay for my Mariology course to reflect upon one proclamation of the Litany of Loreto:

Mary! Mary! The delight, the consolation this holy name brings to the hearts of her children is enough to fill the course of the spiritual life. In recent years, I have discovered that memories and gratitude are two pillars of prayer which lead to holiness of life. It is good to recount the graces Our Lord has given me. And I don’t do this enough.

A lot of things can be fixed by harvesting gratitude. So often I have little frustrations, annoyances, impatient moments with those whom I love, grudges, and judgments. These are a waste of my time. I lose sight of the gifts I have been given from our Gracious Lord, and those given through Our Lady. And I disrupt my peace of soul by worrying about petty things.

I have been reminded of so many memories filled with graces, especially those of charity and counsel. Graces which have formed who I am today and my desire for holiness. For these, incomprehensible to my understanding they may have been and might continue to be, I must always have gratitude. These memories taught me something in a deeper way than I had previously considered. It was that I can’t hold onto memories or desire to control my circumstances as a way to preserve these memories, wanting them never to change, wanting them to remain familiar.

This is something that I have been thinking about for quite some time. How true it is that I don’t know what tomorrow brings, or even what today will bring. What I do know is that I have been given the grace to rise this morning, to love and to serve our Lord, in whatever may come.

This isn’t to say, I can’t cherish my memories or have a fondness for them. In fact, I should use them to spur on my charity, especially in praying for the sanctity of those who are so dear to me, this affinity is a good thing. The joys of friendship, those truly rooted in charity, are just a little taste of blessedness in Heaven. And so I relate a story with a friend in Venice.

I recall my first trip to Venice to visit a priest friend. I did not know what to expect after I heard so many people say Venice is another world. I spent the first day sweating the five liters of water I had drunk. And finally was able to take in more of the beauty of this city on water as the sun set and reflected off the facades of the basilicas and the palaces.

My priest friend took me to St. Mark’s Basilica on Sunday afternoon. I was expecting enormous crowds and for the visit to seem like a visit to a museum. We arrived, however, when the Basilica was closed to tourists, and somehow we were able to enter to pray. I didn’t want to seem too eager, or like a tourist, so I stayed by the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and where the Icon of Our Lady is kept. I wasn’t worried about time and so I wouldn’t be able to say how long we remained in the basilica, but we stayed for Vespers. Following Vespers on Sunday evening, there is Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament and a procession with the canons of the basilica.

Having lived in Rome for some years now, I’ve learned to appreciate the assertive nature of Italians in forming processions or attempting to enter holy sites. I’ve learned well, and I was right behind the priest in cope after he left the sanctuary. Again, in not having seen the entire basilica before this procession, I was overtaken with the greatest delight and peace. Being summer, rays of light were still coming in and illuminating the mosaics. The smoke of the incense billowed in the air scattering the light and lifting our prayers to the Blessed Virgin as we sung the Litany of Loreto. The chant, previously unfamiliar to me, was in the Venetian tone. It is a tone symbolizing prayer, for it is an ascending cadence as you make the exclamations to Our Lady. I knew that Our Lady was lifting, is always willing to lift, my prayers to Our Lord. The procession was less than ten minutes, but throughout I had the sense that such a moment could go on forever. I have this same sense at times when I am serving the Holy Mass. The end of the procession was at the ‘Icon of the Blessed Virgin not written by human hands,’ where we all knelt and continued singing the Litany. We had arrived at the place we were meant to be.

“Icon of the Blessed Virgin not written by human hands” – St. Mark’s, Venice
Litany of Loreto in Venetian tone LIVE recording

Besides being a living reality, it seems that my spiritual life rests in these moments of peace. It’s these moments which are able to be carried over into the dull moments of mental prayer or into the frustrations of life, as to increase my charity.

I haven’t been clear in my statement of choice, but its the first acclamation of ‘Sancta Maria’ which means so much to me. It is a prayer in which I don’t have to think too much, or over-analyze. The Name contains all hope, all perfect fear, all love. Our Lady has seemingly been the only constant in my spiritual life, or rather the only constant amidst the circumstances that have come to comprise this daily journey over the course of years. In joys, in sorrows, in difficulties, and in all my hopes, only one Name is upon my lips, Mary, for I know she will always lead me Jesus, right where I am meant to be.

To support the work of Filii Passionis and to learn more about the Blessed Virgin, find the newest publication of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin HERE.

First Saturday – January 2019

For the First Saturday devotions please go HERE.

Artwork included my new publication of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin

And to assist with my project of spreading devotion to the Passion of Our Lord among the ranks of seminarians, please go here.

Your assistance with this project would help provide a copy of a book of meditations on the Passion of Our Lord to 500 Seminarians. As I hear from more and more seminarians about how many are in their seminaries, I’d like to even shoot higher than 500…250 men at the North American College in Rome, 175 men at St. Charles’ in Philadelphia, 30 men at the Venerable English College, 80 men at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, then there is Kenrick and Saint Paul Seminary and…

So, I ask that you prayerfully consider helping. Please keep this project in your intentions on this First Saturday and in your daily prayers. A priest once preached on reform in the Church and he related a story from the life of Saint Bernard, who said: “True reform, begins with the reformation of one’s own soul.” This is why I want to get this book into the hands of hundreds of men who will be future priests. O! the souls they will encounter in their ministry!

So please share this post and please pray!