The Essence of the Sacred Liturgy is Sacred, Universal and Beautiful. Often, when I was a pastor celebrating funerals, the most often comment afterewards was that it was "beautiful." Beauty has the ability to change hearts and to turn our attention to what is sacred and true.
Now, as a chaplain for an amazing group of sisters, I find my heart transformed each morning as I enter the sacristy to prepare for Mass. Sister Sacristan celebrates the liturgical feasts with "Amice Art" The entire month of January is observed with devotion as the Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Advent was a graced time with images of cribs and crosses, and "Veni, Veni," as we prepared for the coming of the savior.
Some beauty is not apparent to all which is why I am grateful to be able to make it known.
It is a great joy to work with such wonderful sisters.
I take this opportunity of the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, to post my favorite image of her. This painting, painted in 1494 is out of the public view, on the upper floors of the cloister at the Abbey of San Felice in Giano 'del Umbria, Italy. It is the Foundation House of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
A 16x 20 print hangs framed in my living room over my preaching desk. Since I am the chaplain for the Marian Sisters, they wanted to display the image at the reception for my recent silver jubilee.
The image was Photographed in 2003 when I spent a week at San Felice.
Here is a picture of the title that is displayed near the painting.
My sister wanted a copy of it, so for Christmas I got her a canvas print of the image and she hung it in her dining room.
I have been fortunate to visit the image in 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2014. Here is a picture taken in 2010 which may give a sense of how large the painting is.
Here is a link to Fr. Z's Blog back in 2012 where he gives a great deal of information about the image and its inportance in the 15th century.
The Year of grace, 2016, is coming to an end; a year of discernment and wonder, filled with all sorts of surprises. I started the year living in a wonderful parish in Norwalk, CT. In January, I took a little vacation in California. I had been gone for six months. It was a time to reconnect with friends and families, but also a time to look for work. As it turned out, Santa Rosa wanted me, and Santa Rosa knew what to do with me. At the moment, I am serving in a couple of capacities: I am the chaplain for a wonderful convent of sisters, I am a teacher at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa, and I serve in parish ministry at St. Eugene Cathedral in Santa Rosa where I also conduct a men’s Gregorian Chant Schola.
February included a trip to Houston, TX to attend the ordination as Bishop of a great friend and former student, Bishop Steven Lopes. He now serves as the first bishop of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. And in March, I moved to Santa Rosa. I celebrate Mass at the Convent on Weekday mornings, teach at the High School during the day, and on weekends I hear confessions and celebrate Mass at the Parish. Also during the week, I teach an Adult Faith formation class and conduct a rehearsal for the Chant Schola.
March included Holy week and Easter and for the first time I presided in the Extraordinary Form for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In April, I was one of the speakers at the National Planned Parenthood protest in Concord, CA. In May, I was able to experience the full Pentecost Octave for the first time in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
In June, I took a vacation in my favorite place, Rome. There, I made a pilgrimage to the seven major and minor basilicas. I had friends to visit and places to experience, but I also had decisions to make. As more and more the Missionaries of the Precious Blood are known as the gay friendly congregation in California, and after living in a rectory for several years with members who believe in woman’s ordination and same-sex marriage and who question all the moral teachings of the church, it was time to go. I did not leave my community. My community left me. In July, I requested incardination in the Diocese of Santa Rosa. So far it has been a great decision because I am in in a place where my gifts and talents are appreciated. No one questions the Catholic Faith, but professes the faith with great gusto.
As a priest, the greatest compliment that could be paid you is to have someone invite you to vest them at their ordination, or to preach at their first mass or ordination anniversary. In May, I was honored to vest a new priest, Fr. John Carillo at his ordination, and in June, I was invited to be the homilist at the Silver Anniversary of Fr. Joseph Illo. In August,I was asked to celebrate the wedding of two friends from St. Edward. They are exiles as I am from what was once a great parish and are now part of the diaspora at St. Margaret Mary or other places. Felipe and Adriana’s wedding took place at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Oakland, celebrated in the Ordinary Form, but the continuity was so evident people could wonder if it was Extraordinary Form.
In September I was in full swing as a teacher at Cardinal Newman High School participating in all the activities as I could. They even asked me to sing the Star Spangled Banner at a Football game.
In October, I celebrated twenty-five years as a priest, my Silver Jubilee. It had been my hope to celebrate it at St. Edward, but they made it pretty clear I was not welcome there. But it was a glorious celebration nevertheless. We celebrated a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St. Margaret Mary, and a Missa Cantata, in Latin, in the ordinary Form, at St. Eugene. Beautiful receptions were prepared at both places and a festive dinner was held as well. After the last Mass, several friends were feasted at St. Eugene. I cooked.
This November, I was able to celebrate with my family for the first time in two years, and December sees the end of the Semester, a few days off, and the celebration of the Mystery of Christmas.
So, there is this young woman in a far off place, not in the centers of power, certainly not in Rome. Insignificant, unknown; who knew her? She was not known by anybody outside her village, but this is where God visited. She recognized the words, “Do not be afraid” –this is what God had said to Abraham, to Joshua, to Daniel. She had heard the echo throughout the centuries: God was building a house. She did not realize it was going to be her. When we think of God building His own house, that God said to David, “I will build a house,” we are thinking of a huge temple even bigger than St. Peter’s; we are thinking of grandeur. But this is where God came –Mary. The king of Israel thought he knew better than God. We all have expectations. God will take the smallest place. The smallest crumb, the place in the universe that no one expects.
Here is the link to Jay Balza's pictures of the Jubillee
Omnia Christus Est Nobis
Christ is everything for us!
I am a Roman Catholic Priest from California. I spent 13 wonderful years years as a member of the Province of the Pacific in the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. The outline of my life can be traced here.