The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

King of majesty tremendous, Who does free salvation send us, Fount of pity, then befriend us!~Dies Irae (Sequence and Hymn) While it is no longer an essential component of Funeral Masses, the medieval sequence the Dies Irae still remains the most recognizable and most influential sequence of the Church’s liturgical patrimony.  The sequence is a type of hymn that originated from adding words to the melismas (many notes on the same syllable) that frequently ended the Alleluia before the Gospel.  During the Middle Ages, the sequence was quite popular and many hundreds were composed for the different feasts on the liturgical...

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters. 1 Thes 4:13 We recall from two weeks ago that we began reading from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians as the new and final sequence of Second Readings for Sunday Masses for this liturgical year. With the intervention of All Saints last Sunday, there was an interruption to this sequence, but this weekend we pick it back up again. Given the early nature of this letter among the many letters Paul composed, we find among the themes of the letter the theme of the priority of anticipating Christ’s...

All Souls Day

Reflection for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed Eternal rest grant unto them, o Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  ~ Entrance Antiphon for All Souls’ Day One day you will die. Remembering our mortality is not only a good “reality check” and a sober self-examination, but it is an opportunity to recall with the English priest and poet John Donne (†1631) that “No man is an island…Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” The bonds of love that are...

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

And you became imitators of us and of the Lord. ~1 Thes 1:6 The Second Reading from Mass this Sunday finds us beginning a new sequence of readings, namely, those from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians. This was likely the earliest of the epistles Paul wrote that are inspired and part of the canon of Sacred Scripture. Readings from this letter will constitute the second reading at Sunday Masses from now until the end of the liturgical year, with the exceptions of All Saints (November 1, next Sunday) as well as Christ the King (November 22). In the...

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Remember the story of Jesus turning over the tables at the Temple? Well, those money changers Jesus had disrupted were quickly back in business, because they had to be there for the Temple to function. It was forbidden to use Roman coins for the offerings needed for the rituals. They had to change the money into a coin without that image of Caesar. There was in that issue, two conflicts: that Israel’s law allowed no images, and that Caesar claimed to be divine. Those within hearing distance and the Jewish/Christian community for whom Matthew writes must have smiled or maybe...

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. ~Phil 4:12 The Second Reading from Mass this Sunday recalled for me the following passage from the beginning of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises, identified as the Principle and Foundation: Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created. From this it follows that man...

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Have no anxiety at all.  ~Phil 4:6  Is this even possible?  Is St. Paul asking us to assume an attitude that is possible in this life?  The Greek word for anxiety is the same verb that our Lord uses in the context of his visit to the house of Sts. Martha and Mary, when Martha is anxious about many things in contrast to Mary who remains at the feet of Christ.  The context, too, in which Paul asks us to relinquish worry is similar since it is connected to our entreating God with our requests and petitions.  Fear is the belief that we will be...

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus. ~Phil 2:5 Following his initial salutation of the Church in Philippi and his updating them on the Church’s missionary work, St. Paul delivers in Chapter Two both a series of moral exhortations as well as the striking “Christ Hymn” which is contained in the longer version of the second reading for this Sunday. Scholars are divided as to the origin and nature of the poem. Most would agree that it represents a piece of early Christian poetry. Consequently, Paul is presenting us with a glimpse of a form...

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. Rom 14:8 Survivor’s Guilt is a mental condition in which a survivor of a traumatic event experiences symptoms of remorse and self-hatred for having survived. The degree and complexity of the condition can vary from individual to individual and depend on the nature of the event, but the fact of the matter remains that the reason some people survive certain catastrophic events and others do not is a mystery. Why? Why do some people survive their illnesses while others do not? Who is at fault? Were there not enough prayers offered? Was...

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Rom 13:9 Certain passages of scripture, due to our familiarity with them, can seem as captivating as a glass of water: good and essential but hardly exciting or challenging. Such is the case with the “Golden Rule” reechoed by Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans. It has been observed that nearly all religions and philosophies have arrived at some formulation of this principle. Nevertheless, the articulation of it in Leviticus 19:18, is still arguably the first time we see it appear in history. While the command: love your neighbor as yourself seems...