Fourth Sunday of Advent

May it be done to me according to your word. ~Lk 1:38 It may come as a surprise to know that the Blessed Virgin Mary is honored not only by Christians, but by Muslims as well. In fact, if we go by the number of times the name “Mary” is mentioned in their respective scriptures, we find that Mary’s name appears more times in the Quran than it does in the Bible. The Quran, granted, is not considered by the Church to be an inspired text, and whatever the nature of its origin, the content the Quran shares with the New...

Third Sunday of Advent

Rejoice always. ~1 Thes 5:16 “Rejoice always.” Bold words. On this Gaudete Sunday, the theme of joy is clearly highlighted throughout the liturgy: from the Entrance Antiphon, to the Collect, to the Second Reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. The sober hue of violet yields briefly to the brighter shade of rose. The Solemnity of the Lord’s Nativity is nigh! If Advent is such a brief liturgical season, and Christmas is so close, why then the need for this preemptive celebration or relaxation of Advent sobriety? What’s the point of Gaudete Sunday? “Rejoice always.” It seems easy and intuitive enough...

Second Sunday of Advent

He is patient with you. ~2 Pt 3:9 “If God wants me to be a saint, why doesn’t he give me the grace to become one now?” This question seems to come up inevitably for those of us who have experienced at least an initial conversion in our lives. Having cooperated with God’s grace, which has sought us and found us, we respond to this gift and discover a new world of friendship with God. But then life continues. The initial progress we seemed to have been making seems to run up against a wall. We find ourselves confessing the same...

1st Sunday of Advent

Postponement and Repentance As a child, I thought that Advent was an artificial thing. It seemed a forced time of year, a concoction to get us excited about the coming of Christmas. It felt fake. After all, the birth of Christ had happened a long time ago. What was the point of pretending that it hadn’t? It was like going through the motions of contrived expectancy when we knew the outcome in advance. Now I am beginning to see Advent differently. The cycle of the seasons that we as a worshiping people live through each year is not an exercise in “let’s pretend”...

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...

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Let us not sleep like the rest do. ~1 Thes 5:6 In Book IX of Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus recounts how his crew arrived in the land of the lotus-eaters. The lotus-eaters were the region’s inhabitants who would feed upon a certain flower that grew there that not only was delicious but also had the effect of causing one to forget about one’s home, family, and general plan of life. Today, we would identify the mythical lotus-plant as a type of narcotic that had euphoric and soporific effects. When Odysseus discovered that some of his men had eaten of the lotus-plant, he...

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...