Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Sword pierces her heart

This window portrays the circumcision of Jesus and the prophecy of Simeon (Lk. 2:21-35). The upper panel shows the priest and the table where the circumcision took place. Simeon is taking the Child Jesus from his mother, Mary, while Joseph - a very young looking Joseph - looks on. The central panel shows a sword poised at Our Blessed Lady's heart, (verse 35) "and you yourself a sword will pierce". The window is in the Lady Chapel at Maryknoll. It is a great example of the use of the imagination and emotions to enflesh the Living Word of God that the Scriptures contain.

Joseph visits too

After the Annunciation (Lk.1:26-38), Mary goes immediately to visit her cousin Elizabeth (Lk.1:39-56). Here the two women dominate the stained glass window but in the upper panel we can clearly see Zechariah and in a panel off to the right, we see Joseph. What I often said to the Holy Ghost Fathers last week on retreat was that in our prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture we need to use our imagination and our emotions to make the Scripture passages come alive for us.
Of course Joseph would have traveled with Mary! Think of those three months that Mary stayed with Elizabeth and all that would have been happening to her in those first months of her pregnancy. What blessings she must have experienced as she encountered the "Word made flesh" growing within her own body.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Newsday and the Pastor's Column

In place of my coulmn in the bulletin this coming weekend, I'm sharing this editorial from Newsday that ran last Sunday. Better said than I could.

The focus is on Mary

This is the full window from the main chapel at Maryknoll. The pictures were taken with my Palm Treo so they are not the best, but, pun intended, you get the picture.
The young couple is in the center under a chupah. Off center to the right is Jesus and beneath him is the servant filling the last of the water jars. Our Blessed Lady is the clear focus for this window and the words, in Latin"Quodcumque dixerit vobis, facite", are her words to the servants: "Do whatever he tells you"". (Jn. 2:5) I'm told that those words are inscribed on Cardinal Sean O'Malley's ring.
I've always held them in a special place in my own life as well. Our Mother is telling us to do whatever Her Son, our Brother tells us. "Whatever" is a tall order! And Mary's words mean that He will speak to us and ask us to listen. Then there's that tiny word "do" so small and yet so powerful. Mary's words for us to live by and love by.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The First Sign

One of the stained glass windows in the Chapel of Our Lady Queen of the Apostles in Maryknoll depicts the first of Jesus's signs at the Wedding at Cana in Galilee which we find in the Gospel of St. John (Jn. 2: 1-11). You can see the six stone water jars being filled. The waiter is filling the last of the jars here and it appears to be transparent with layers of red and clear liquid in the jar itself and being poured into it as well. Think of the other scene in the Gospel (Jn. 19:34) where the lance is thrust into the side of the Crucified One and immediately flow out blood and water, which the baptismal ritual refers to as the "fountain of sacramental life."
In the panel underneath are two stylizied doves. The one on the left is the dove sent out by Moses: the wavy lines underneath are much deeper than the wavy lines underneath the dove representing the Holy Spirit, descending on Jesus as he was baptized by John in the river Jordan.

"Keep state out of church"

An editorial in yesterday's NEWSDAY decried the sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy but was even more vocal in condemning legislation proposed by New York State Assemblyperson Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth) which it describes as "an ill-advised bill that would tamper with the deadlines for bringing childhood sexual abuse lawsuits." It goes on to say that "suspending these time limits would be an extraordinary attempt to upend our legal traditions."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pius XII and the Nazis

Just in case you missed this from Whispers.

The Death of Joseph

Another scene about which Scripture itself is silent, this window portrays the death of St. Joseph. Once again he is shown as a fairly young man at his death with Jesus as an older teenager comforting His young looking Mother at the death of her husband. Jesus experienced the pain of loss as his 'foster father' died; he was truly a 'man like us in all things but sin'.

Cooking at Home

At home in Nazareth, Mary is cooking fish and bread assisted by the Child Jesus. Joseph is portrayed in a very spiritual pose, at prayer for his family, it what could be seen as the praying of Grace before their meal.

Dreams and Angels

This window from Maryknoll's Oratory of St. Joseph shows the sleeping Joseph being "touched by an angel" (Mt. 2:13-15) and told in a dream to flee to Egypt with Mary and the newborn Jesus.

Knock, Knock

Another window from the Oratory of St. Joseph at Maryknoll which shows Mary astride the donkey with Joseph, a very young man, seeking lodging (Lk. 2:7) for himself and his wife that first Christmas. Note the "Star of Bethlehem" in the upper center panel and the two crosses on the upper and lower right hand panels. Can you see the utter frustration on the face of Joseph as he tries to provide for his young family?


The three chapels at Maryknoll have magnificient stained glass windows, some depicting interesting events and others with familiar scenes with a different touch or flavor.
In a chapel called the Oratory of St. Joseph and the Lane Chapel (in honor of Bishop Raymond A. Lane, the third Superior General), the windows depict scene from the life of St. Joseph. The window at left portrays the betrothal of Joseph and Mary. St. Matthew (Mt. 1:18) and St. Luke (Lk. 1:27) both mention the fact that Mary was betrothed to Joseph when the Angel Gabriel brought Mary the invitation to cooperate in the plan of Almighty God and become the Mother of His Son. I have a special love for art which tries to capture this theme because it is one of the murals at the Immaculate Conception Center (the former Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception) which is my Alma Mater and where I served as Director from 1997 to 2003. This is an instance of an artist presenting a scene which is not directly contained in Sacred Scripture but which is aluded to in the Gospels.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


This is a photo of an authenticated relic of the True Cross which is on display at Maryknoll.

Archbishop Dolan and the Intrinsic evil of abortion

My parishioner Patrick Hurley made me aware of something that happened while I was away. As reported in the New York Post earlier this week, Archbishop Timothy, recently installed as the 10th Archbishop of New York (and its 13th bishop), spoke in no uncertain terms about his difficulty with the invitation offered to President Obama by the University of Notre Dame. He spoke about other issues, like the death penalty and war which “are open to some discussion" since neither is an "intrinsic" evil. President Obama's support for abortion is supporting something which is an "intrinsic evil.” An "intrinsic evil" is something which is an evil in its very essence and can never be a good, irrespective of the circumstances under which it is undertaken.

Mary's Knoll

This is a picture of a picture of the Seminary building at Maryknoll. The Society actually has vast acerage on both sides of the road in Ossining, New York. When I was a boy I was intrigued by the story of Maryknoll and people like James Walsh and Francis X. Ford from the first and second ordination classes who went to China in service of the Gospel and later were named bishops. The original seminary building on this property was a farm house located where the main parking lot now stands. Walking on those grounds earlier in the week was a "memory moment" for me and an opportunity to give thanks to Almighty God for His gift of the priesthood. Bishop Walsh was imprisoned in China for 11 years and returned to the United States in 1970. Bishop Ford died in a Chinese Comunist prison in 1952. These and other great men and women of Maryknoll shared their faith with so many as missionaries and as examples of servant leaders of God's people.

Friday, April 24, 2009


The stained glass windows at the Seminary Building at Maryknoll are without a doubt among the best I've seen in a long time. Consider this one from the shrine to the founders, a Boston priest (later Bishop) Fr. James Anthony Walsh and Fr. Thomas Frederick Price of North Carolina. The story goes that they met at the 21st Eucharistic Congress in Montreal, Canada in 1910. Maryknoll (the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America) was established in 1911 and its mission blessed by Pope Pius X. The goal was the evangelization of China and the first missioners left for there in 1918.  Note the decidedly Chinese features on the faces of the Virgin and Child.

What a retreat!

Just returned from Maryknoll and the retreat for the Holy Ghost Father of Ireland! I believe the Holy Spirit was working overtime with me since they had a great retreat. More later.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I'm at Maryknoll doing a retreat for the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers, Lent is over so my daily blogging as a penance is over. I didn't have the time to pre-write and pre-post the blog, so nothing new until Saturday at the earliest I think. Please pray for me and for the priests on retreat.

Stations of the Resurrection

Yesterday was another jam-packed day here at St. Sebastian. We had the Catholic War Veterans at the 9 am Mass, followed by breakfast at their Post on 61st street. Then, for the first time in seven years, or perhaps forever, we had a baby baptized at the 10:30 am Mass. Two of the young ladies from our Catholic School of Excellence recieved Our Divine Lord in Holy Communion at the same Mass. I had the Noon Mass in Spanish, which to me is always a joy! Then at the 1.15 Mass we particularly celebrated the Feast of Divine Mercy. Although today was Divine Mercy Sunday, and that's what we celebrated at all the Masses, the 1.15 was the Mass at which we would have blessed the images people brought to church, but guess what, no one brought any images! Baptisms in English twice a month here - and twice a month in Spanish - today Fr. Gerard baptized six at 2 pm. The Great Hour of Mercy saw probably 150 people or so in church where  we sang the Chaplet, accompanied by the organ and the beautiful voice of our Director of Music, Mary Frances Grace. At 5 pm Fr. Joy led close to 150 parishioners, some the same and some different, in the "Stations of the Resurrection" or Via Lucis. Powerful!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Divine Mercy

Thanks to Old St. Patrick's Cathedral Bulletin for the following:

The Feast of the Divine Mercy or Divine Mercy Sunday falls on the Octave of Easter (the Sunday immediately following Easter). It is dedicated to the devotion to the Divine Mercy promoted by St. Faustina, and is based upon an entry in St. Faustina's diary stating that anyone who participates in the Mass and receives the sacraments of confession and Eucharist on this day is assured by Jesus of full remission of sins.

According to the notebooks of Saint Faustina, Jesus made the following statements about this day: "On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity." (Diary of Saint Faustina, 699)

The devotion was celebrated unofficially in many places for some years. On April 30, 2000 (Divine Mercy Sunday of that year), Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina and designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday in the General Roman Calendar, with effect from the following year. He also decreed a plenary indulgence associated with this devotion. Pope John Paul II said he felt a closeness to St. Faustina when he was writing Dives in Misericordia. He died during the vigil of the Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005.

Sister Faustina was canonized a saint on April 30, 2000 Saint Faustina was born Helena Kowalska in the village of Glogowiec west of Lodz, Poland, on August 25, 1905. She was the third of ten children. When she was almost twenty, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, whose members devote themselves to the care and education of troubled young women. The following year she received her religious habit and was given the name Sister Maria Faustina, to which she added "of the Most Blessed Sacrament," as was permitted by her Congregation's custom. In the 1930s, Sister Faustina received from the Lord a message of mercy that she was told to spread throughout the world. She was asked to become the apostle and secretary of God's mercy, a model of how to be merciful to others, and an instrument for reemphasizing God's plan of mercy for the world.

The message of mercy that Sister Faustina received is now being spread throughout the world; she has been recognized by the Church as a "Saint"; and her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, has become the handbook for devotion to The Divine Mercy. She would not have been surprised, for she had been told that the message of God's mercy would spread through her writings for the great benefit of souls.

Through Saint Faustina, any person can leatn special ways to live out the response to Jesus’ mercy–one of which is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, as both a novena and a prayer for the three o'clock hour–the hour of His death.

The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy will be recited at St Sebastian this Sunday, April 19 at 3:00 PM. The Chaplet of Mercy is recited using ordinary rosary beads of five decades. The Chaplet is preceded by two opening prayers from the Diary of Saint Faustina and followed by a closing prayer. For a complete understanding of Chaplet you can consult

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Life

This photo was taken by Obed Lima and appears on the front page of this week's The Tablet newspaper of one of the 12 baptisms that took place at the Easter Vigil at St. Sebastian. The sponsor is Richard Chun. The woman is Andrea, the wife of the newly baptized Peter Joseph Park. I officiated at their wedding back in February. In addition to the RCIA which Peter and Andrea both attended (she said she learned a lot as well) they both came and spoke with me several times.

Did I mention that 46 people, including the 12, received the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion at the Vigil? The entire liturgy took 2 hours and 15 minutes and was truly a wonderful and prayerful experience.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Christ is the End of the Law

Next week I am offering a retreat for the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers up at Maryknoll. It's my first time being asked to preach a week-long retreat, and the first time preaching a retreat to brother priests. I did a weekend retreat about 28 years ago for a group of people from St. Patrick Parish in Bay Ridge, but that really been it. Need I say it is a lot of work!

I really lost the first part of this week preparing (also a lot of work) for my three hours of live, on air television coverage of Archbishop Dolan's installation. It was a learning experience in many ways, but it kept me from finishing the talks until just now. I'm sharing the theme of the retreat and the titles of the six conferences as well as the scriptural citations that form the basis of the talks. Someday, if I learn how, I'll be able to post an audio of the talks.
In addition to the formal conferences, I have at least two homilies and will make myself available to the priests for confession, private conferences, and whatever.
Please remember the priests on retreat in your prayers next week and pray for me as well.

Christ is the End of the Law (Rom. 10:4)
First Conference
This Grace in Which We Stand (Rom. 5:2)

Second Conference
A Still More Excellent Way (1 Cor. 12:31)


The Love of Christ Impels Us (2 Cor. 5:14)

Fourth Conference

The Veiled Gospel (2Cor. 4:3)

Fifth Conference

All Creation is Groaning in Labor (Rom. 8:22)
Sixth Conference

Every Tongue Confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! (Phil. 2:11)

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I think any young person watching yesterday's installation of the new Archbishop of New York found it to be a wonderful expression of happiness in a vocation. Archbishop Dolan was just a perfect mix of personality in processing and reverence at prayer.

His story about always wanting to be a priest struck a very familiar chord with me; ever since I can remember I have wanted to be a priest. I have also been a happy priest for 31 years. God has truly blessed me with so many opportunities to grow in His love. He has blessed me with so many people in my life who mirror the face of God to me. He has allowed me to exercise my priesthood in countless ways I would never have imagined when I was a child and used to "play" Mass.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Channel 11 Coverage of Archbishop Dolan

Well, I made it through 3 full hours of live coverage of Archbishop Dolan's installation as 13th bishop and 10th Archbishop of New York. Working with Mary Murphy and Jim Watkins was a joy; they took such great care of me.

One question Jim asked me off air and then on as well was "What do you think the reaction of a man is when he receives that phone call from the Nuncio, a great sense of accomplishment and recognition, the way a man feels when he is elected CEO?" I said, no from having spoken with more than one bishop, the man feels completely humbled. And I'm sure that was true of Archbishop Dolan today as well.

The homily thanks to Rocco. Among the best I've ever heard.

God bless the new Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, and thank God for the gift that Cardinal Egan was for these past 9 years.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Massive Candle

One of our parishioners has a great blog that shares his thoughts about the Easter Vigil.

Pictures of the Easter Vigil

If you want to see our Easter Vigil you may. If you click the link, and go down to the last entry on the right hand side you will be able to see pictures of our Easter Vigil at St. Sebastian where 12 people were baptized and 34 others joined them for Confirmation and Holy Communion.


I thought that this would be a quiet week for me. All I really have to do is put the final touches on a retreat I've been asked to give for the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers next week up at Maryknoll. Then the phone rang.
Mary Murphy, from Channel 11 News called me and asked if I would be available tomorrow to be part of Channel 11's live coverage of the installation of Archbishop Timothy Dolan as the 13th Archbishop of New York. I suggested that she try to get a New York priest or at least clear it with the Archdiocese that a Brooklyn priest doing it wouldn't cause a stir. She checked and evidently it's OK.
Now I have to study so that I won't look foolish. Say a prayer that I don't say anything foolish either.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Looking Back

Where did Lent go? Holy Week is a blur and the Easter Vigil, a memory!

The Easter Vigil this year was an especially transforming experience for me and I think for many people who were there. When the lights are out in St. Sebastian church, there is absolute and complete darkness, because there are no windows since the building started out as a movie theatre. The fire was truly blazing at the outset. The Paschal Candle was lighted and immediately began to dispell the darkness. As the flame from that candle began to be shared with the faithful, I almost thought that we had put some lights on very low; it was of course the light from nearly 2,000 candles.

We baptized 12 and Confirmed another 34. So we had 46 people receive Holy Communion for the first time. The power of the Holy Spirit was palpable all during the Vigil. I think everyone who was there was able to feel it.

We probably had 10,000 people on Easter; if it were like that all the time it would be wonderful, but it would kill us.

Christ is Risen, He is Risen, indeed!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Way of Light

The Directory on Popular Piety has this to say about The Via Lucis.

"A pious exercise called the Via Lucis has developed and spread to many regions in recent years. Following the model of the Via Crucis, the faithful process while meditating on the various appearances of Jesus - from his Resurrection to his Ascension - in which he showed his glory to the disciples who awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14, 26; 16, 13-15; Lk 24, 49), strengthened their faith, brought to completion his teaching on the Kingdom and more closely defined the sacramental and hierarchical structure of the Church."

"Through the Via Lucis, the faithful recall the central event of the faith - the resurrection of Christ - and their discipleship in virtue of Baptism, the paschal sacrament by which they have passed from the darkness of sin to the bright radiance of the light of grace (cf. Col 1, 13; Ef 5, 8)."

"For centuries the Via Crucis involved the faithful in the first moment of the Easter event, namely the Passion, and helped to fix its most important aspects in their consciousness. Analogously, the Via Lucis, when celebrated in fidelity to the Gospel text, can effectively convey a living understanding to the faithful of the second moment of the Pascal event, namely the Lord's Resurrection."

"The Via Lucis is potentially an excellent pedagogy of the faith, since "per crucem ad lucem". Using the metaphor of a journey, the Via Lucis moves from the experience of suffering, which in God's plan is part of life, to the hope of arriving at man's true end: liberation, joy and peace which are essentially paschal values."

"The Via Lucis is a potential stimulus for the restoration of a "culture of life" which is open to the hope and certitude offered by faith, in a society often characterized by a "culture of death", despair and nihilism."


Resurrection Stations

The Stations of the Resurrection

First Station

Jesus rises from the dead (Matthew 28:5-6).

Second Station

Women find the empty tomb (Matthew 28:1-6).

Third Station

The risen Lord appears to Mary Magdalene (John 20:16).

Fourth Station

Mary Magdalene proclaims the Resurrection to the apostles (John 20:18).

Fifth Station
The risen Lord appears on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-27).

Sixth Station

The risen Lord is recognized in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:28-32).

Seventh Station

The risen Lord appears to the disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36-39).

Eighth Station

The risen Lord gives the disciples the power to forgive (John 20:22-23).

Ninth Station

The risen Lord strengthens the faith of Thomas (John 20:24-29).

Tenth Station

The risen Lord says to Peter, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17).

Eleventh Station

The risen Lord sends the disciples into the whole world (Matthew 28:16-20).

Twelfth Station

The risen Lord ascends into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).

Thirteenth Station
Waiting with Mary in the Upper Room (Acts 1:12-14).

Fourteenth Station

The risen Lord sends the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:2-4).

The Stations of the Resurrection

The Archdiocese of Detroit has a great example of the Stations of the Resurrection or Via Lucis that you may wish to use for prayer and meditation during the Easter Season.


The First Station

V. We adore You, O Christ, and we praise you

R. Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

The Glorified Body of Jesus rises triumphant from the tomb!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

This is the second reading from the Office of Readings prayed by the Church this morning and prayed by the people of St. Sebastian at Tenebrae.
The Lord's descent into hell

"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

"The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages."


Almighty, ever-living God, whose Only-begotten Son descended to the realm of the dead, and rose from there to glory, grant that your faithful people, who were buried with him in baptism, may, by his resurrection, obtain eternal life. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.

Prepared by Pontifical University Saint Thomas Aquinas

Friday, April 10, 2009

Divine Mercy

The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday. The Directory on Popular Piety has this to say about the devotion:

"In connection with the octave of Easter, recent years have witnessed the development and diffusion of a special devotion to the Divine Mercy based on the writings of Sr. Faustina Kowalska who was canonized 30 April 2000. It concentrates on the mercy poured forth in Christ's death and resurrection, fount of the Holy Spirit who forgives sins and restores joy at having been redeemed. Since the liturgy of the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday - as it is now called- is the natural locus in which to express man's acceptance of the Redeemer's mercy, the faithful should be taught to understand this devotion in the light of the liturgical celebrations of these Easter days. Indeed, "the paschal Christ is the definitive incarnation of mercy, his living sign which is both historico-salvific and eschatological. At the same time, the Easter liturgy places the words of the psalm on our lips: "I shall sing forever of the Lord's mercy" (Ps 89[88] 2)" DIRECTORY ON POPULAR PIETY AND THE LITURGY

"Jesus I trust in you!" is an absolutely wonderful prayer that can be prayed many, many times a day.

The Chaplet

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is also a wonderful and powerful prayer.

The Seven Last Words of Jesus

Every year at 1:30 on Good Friday the priests and deacons of St. Sebastian Parish lead a series of meditations on the Seven Last Words. You can do it on your own as well.

The Seven Last Words of Jesus


When they came to the place called The Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right the other on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father forgive them, they know not what they do."  (Luke 23:33-34)


Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus saying: "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" The other one, however, rebuking him, said in reply: "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received ccorresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, " Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)


Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and  his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magadala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)


At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, eloi, lema sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15: 33-34) (Matthew 27:46)


After this, Jesus, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said,  "I thirst." (John 19:28)


There was a vessel there filled with ccommon wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, "It is finished." And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. (John 19:29-30)


It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus, cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; and when he had said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tenebrae II

The supression of Tenebrae in the Roman Catholic Divine Office was one of the first liturgical changes to have been made in the years before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. That took place when, in the early 1950's Pope Pius XII reformed the Divine Office and the liturgy of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum. These reforms became mandatory in 1955.

Up till then the Easter Vigil was celebrated on Holy Saturday morning – if you can believe it!

At the same time Pope Pius XII moved the Holy Thursday Mass to the evening and Good Friday services to the afternoon or evening. This effectively ended the celebration of Matins and Lauds together as an anticipated Office on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. That was the end of Tenebrae.

After the Council and the liturgical reforms a joint celebration of the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer in the style of Tenebrae is suggested for the mornings of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

By the way, St. Sebastian is celebrating the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer in the style of Tenebrae this year for the first time on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. We used to have just Morning Prayer for the Triduum. We also now have the Tenebrae Hearse or fifteen candle triangular candlestand, since snuffing candles is a part of the Tenebrae ritual. The candles for the altar and the hearse are unbleached which will heighten the difference of these two very special days.

On Holy Thursday it’s just Morning Prayer that we will sing together.


Bishop Zubik's "Service of Apology"  as reported in the local papers. And the full text as it appears on the Pittsburgh Diocesan website.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

For Next Year

As the Triduum approaches, it's probably too late for you to consult this 1988 document from the Congregation for Divine Worship called A Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts but it might be useful for next year.


Lent ends tomorrow morning. The Holy Three Days or Sacred Triduum begins tomorrow evening with the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper. At that Mass we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood and Jesus's great commandment of love in service to each other.
The gospels according to Mark, Matthew, and Luke tell the story of Jesus taking bread, blessing it, and giving it to his disciples saying: "Take it; this is my body." (Mk. 14:22) Later, he takes a cup filled with wine, gives thanks to His Father, and gives it to His disciples with the words: "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many." (Mk. 14:24) These are words like those we hear every time we go to Mass. We call them the "Words of Institution" meaning the words used to institute or establish the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The command "Do this in memory of me" (Lk.22:19) is both the establishment of the priesthood and His desire that all His disciples should be fed with His True Body and True Blood.

St. John's Gospel, the last of the four to be written down and the most theologically complex and beautiful has no account of the breaking of bread and passing of the cup at the Last Supper. The Fourth Gospel tells the story of that last meal of Jesus with His disciples and the focus is on "The Washing of the Feet". The commandment of service in love is so beautifully illustrated by what Jesus did for His disciples when He washed their feet. (Jn. 13:1-15) It is called the Mandatum or Commandment and from that we have the other name for the day, Maundy Thursday.  These are the words:
So when he had washed their feet (and) put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. (Jn. 13:12-15) and a little while later He says more explicitly: I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (JN.13:34-35)
A tall order, no?
Judas was still there for that, remember. How must the fact that Jesus had washed his feet just moments before the betrayal added to his dispair.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It was night.

This is a nice commentary on today's Gospel.

Three great scenes:

St. John resting his head on Jesus' chest.

The sentence "It was night."

Peter's denial foretold.

The Blessing of the Sun

An interesting website. As Passover begins tomorrow evening for our Jewish brothers and sisters, they will celebrate a 28 year event tomorrow morning.

You may wish to recite these two prayers of blessing tomorrow morning when you wake up.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who re-enacts the work of creation.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

Update: The prayers are to be offered when you actually see the sun tomorrow.


Yesterday was 'Reconciliation Monday' in the Diocese of Brooklyn. The Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Rockville Centre also had a similar opportunity for the faithful to receive the Sacrament of Penance. At St. Sebastian we started at 3 PM and finished at 9 PM and there was a steady stream of penitents, totaling probably 500 or so. One priest was available at all times but there were four of us for about two hours and two for about two hours. It was a great mix - young and old, English and Spanish speaking(some other languages as well), some regular in their use of the Sacrament and others returning after many, many years.

Hearing confessions is a humbling experience for a priest, realizing that you are the channel of God's mercy and healing forgiveness and love.


The Fourteenth Station - The Body of Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

V. We adore You, O Christ, and we praise you

R. Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

"...And now we come to the last farewell. There is sadness in parting, but we take comfort in the hope that one day we shall see our brother again and enjoy his friendship. Although this congregation will disperse in sorrow, the mercy of God will gather us together again in the joy of his kingdom. Therefore let us console one another in the faith of Jesus Christ." These words come from the Final Commendation in the Order of Christian Funerals. John and the Blessed Mother look on as Joseph of Arimathea places the body of Jesus in a new tomb in the garden. Sin had entered the world in a garden; new life will come to the world from a garden.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Deposition

The Thirteenth Station - Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

V. We adore You, O Christ, and we praise you

R. Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Two women. Mary the Mother and Mary of Magdala. The Crucified One is dead. See how the cross is now decorated as the throne of His glory, the place of His greatest triumph! In the Garden of Eden the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil became the source of sin. There is a legend that a seed from that tree was planted and became the ancestor of the tree that provided the wood for the cross of Jesus. The Cross is the Tree of Life for us who believe.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

10,000 Souls

St. Sebastian is arguably the largest Catholic parish in the Diocese of Brooklyn, Queens and Kings Counties in New York City. On most Sundays we have approximately 6,000 people at Mass. Today, Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion, we had at least 10,000 people so far, with one Mass to go tonight at 6 PM.

I celebrated the Noon Mass in Spanish in the church, Father Sabino Estrada celebrated the "overflow" Mass at 12:15 in the school auditorium. The church and the auditorium were both completely filled. The chapel was also filled and we 'piped' the audio from the church into the chapel. Between the two Masses we easily had 3,000 people.

My only regret is that I didn't have pictures taken. I will next year, though!

As a priest, it is such a moving experience to celebrate Mass with all those people! I am so glad for Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday, since they bring so many people out for church; if we're welcoming, maybe some of them will stay with us. I pray so.


H/T to Pat McNamara. I had forgotten this gem.

The Donkey
a poem by

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.


The Twelfth Station - Jesus Dies on the Cross

V. We adore You, O Christ, and we praise you

R. Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

The cross - instrument of torture and death and glorious throne for Our King. The cross is always beyond our grasp and yet it is the center of our lives. This moment is the center of time and eternity. John's head is hung down; he cannot look at his Friend. Mary's eyes are fixed on her Son.

Just over a day ago at supper, John rested his head on Jesus' chest. He heard His heart beat. In moments, it will stop beating. His Friend will die, and John will take care of His Mother.

Mary looked at Jesus' eyes bright with joy in Bethlehem, in Nazareth, at Cana, and in so many other places. Now His eyes are not bright and the breath of life will soon leave Him.

"Look at the Man!"

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Wood and Nails for the Carpenter

The Eleventh Station - Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

V. We adore You, O Christ, and we praise you

R. Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Not through the palms of the hands, but at the wrists the nails were driven; spikes, really. Then, through the feet; four wounds, a fifth comes later. The wood touches his body as it had so many times in life. The wood of the manger, of the cradle, in the carpenter's shop, in the boats that were such a part of His friends lives and His own. Wood had always been a 'friend' to Him. The wood of the cross can be a 'friend' to us as well. Read the verse and response above again; it says a lot about what that cross is.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Words of Mary

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote a wonderful book that you might find interesting, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons on Cana and Calvary. These are the words of Mary presented by the Evangelists St. Luke and St. John.

The Seven Words of Mary in Scripture

1. But Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no relations with a man?" (Luke 1:34)

2. Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord." (Luke 1:38)

3. [Mary said:] "May it be to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38)

4. And Mary said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.
For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness;
behold,  from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age, to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones, but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendents forever. (Luke 1:46-55)

5. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." (Lk 2:48)

6. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." (John 2:3)

7. His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you". (John 2:5)


The Tenth Station - Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

V. We adore You, O Christ, and we praise you

R. Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Our sense of decorum and respect means that the Crucified One is always shown with a loincloth. More than likely, he was naked. The loincloth makes the crucifixion 'easier on the eyes' for us. It almost says, it wasn't that bad. The Stations of the Cross are meant to focus our attention on the crucifixion of Our Lord as something that was filled with suffering, and not just on the part of Jesus.

Pilate and his wife suffered. Jesus' mother suffered. Simon suffered.  Veronica suffered. The women of Jerusalem suffered. His disciples suffered. His friends suffered.

We suffer too!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Scholarship Champion Challenge

Please join me in assisting the Futures in Education Foundation by providing much needed scholarship assistance to low income families and their children. Help make the dream of Catholic education a reality for these families by joining in the first Futures in Education Scholarship Champion Challenge. We hope to raise $250,000 in new scholarship support. Thanks to the generosity of the Children’s Scholarship Fund of NYC, all donations made will be matched 2:1.

If you want to help click Futures and join my team.

Fallen Man

The Ninth Station - Jesus Falls a Third Time

V. We adore You, O Christ, and we praise you

R. Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Again! What thoughts went through the minds of the soldiers? Was there a place for pity? How did they see Jesus? What did they feel for him? Were they proud of their part in the execution of this 'criminal'? Could they see a difference between Jesus  and the two thieves crucified alongside Him? Or, did they think nothing at all, just get Him up to get it over with and go back to the barracks.

What do I think as I see Him fall again? How do I feel?

Are we hoping that Lent will be over soon so that we can go back to whatever it was we 'gave up'? Or are we still involved in the real 'work' that Lent involves, as we strive to purify ourselves of those things that make us fall? We fall, we rise; we sin, ask, and receive pardon!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Baby and the Woman

The Eighth Station - Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

V. We adore You, O Christ, and we praise you

R. Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

The depiction of this station at St. Sebastian is unusual. Instead of "women", it has a woman with an infant child in her arms. The words of Jesus echo in our ears: "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, over us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"