Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Blessed Christmas To All !

For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, From David's throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!  Isaiah 9:5-6

St. Thomas the Apostle - Bloomfield, NJ

Monday, December 24, 2012

Thomas Merton - A Christmas Reflection

Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, his place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Dear Cardinals,
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is with great joy that I meet you today, dear Members of the College of Cardinals, Representatives of the Roman Curia and the Governorate, for this traditional event in the days leading up to the feast of Christmas. I greet each one of you cordially, beginning with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whom I thank for his kind words and for the warm good wishes that he extended to me on behalf of all present. The Dean of the College of Cardinals reminded us of an expression that appears frequently during these days in the Latin liturgy: Prope est iam Dominus, venite, adoremus! The Lord is already near, come, let us adore him! We too, as one family, prepare ourselves to adore the Child in the stable at Bethlehem who is God himself and has come so close as to become a man like us. I willingly reciprocate your good wishes and I thank all of you from my heart, including the Papal Representatives all over the world, for the generous and competent assistance that each of you offers me in my ministry.

Once again we find ourselves at the end of a year that has seen all kinds of difficult situations, important questions and challenges, but also signs of hope, both in the Church and in the world. I shall mention just a few key elements regarding the life of the Church and my Petrine ministry. First of all, as the Dean of the College of Cardinals mentioned, there were the journeys to Mexico and Cuba – unforgettable encounters with the power of faith, so deeply rooted in human hearts, and with the joie de vivre that issues from faith. I recall how, on my arrival in Mexico, there were endless crowds of people lining the long route, cheering and waving flags and handkerchiefs. I recall how, on the journey to the attractive provincial capital Guanajuato, there were young people respectfully kneeling by the side of the road to receive the blessing of Peter’s Successor; I recall how the great liturgy beside the statue of Christ the King made Christ’s kingship present among us – his peace, his justice, his truth. All this took place against the backdrop of the country’s problems, afflicted as it is by many different forms of violence and the hardships of economic dependence. While these problems cannot be solved simply by religious fervour, neither can they be solved without the inner purification of hearts that issues from the power of faith, from the encounter with Jesus Christ. And then there was Cuba – here too there were great liturgical celebrations, in which the singing, the praying and the silence made tangibly present the One that the country’s authorities had tried for so long to exclude. That country’s search for a proper balancing of the relationship between obligations and freedom cannot succeed without reference to the basic criteria that mankind has discovered through encounter with the God of Jesus Christ.

Please read the rest HERE

Friday, December 21, 2012

Raising the Christmas Tree

In the beginning God made the world and saw it was good. Long ago, God placed a tree in the garden of paradise as his gift to all human beings, a tree of wisdom and knowledge and laden with every good thing. Our Christmas Tree reminds us of that tree. Long ago too, God's kindness appeared in the coming of Christ, who is our hope of eternal life. This tree is a sign of Christ's blessings.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent 2012

My plan was to begin today's homily with a humorous Mother Teresa story, but due to recent events, I think it best to put all humor aside. 

You may say “why does Deacon Brian always speak about Mother Teresa.” Well, in homiletics class, we were taught to “speak about what you know.” I know about the Missionaries of Charity. I have worked with them for many years, and I would like all of you to get to know these sisters.

Last Saturday, at the Immaculate Conception Shrine in Washington, DC, I attended the “Final Profession” of 9 Missionary of Charity sisters.  This day was the culmination of a 13 year journey, to profess FOR LIFE vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor. A big step in one’s life isn’t it? - To make a decision to live poor. To own only two sari’s - one pair of sandals - to visit your family once every ten years. This is truly giving oneself completely to God and it a perfect manifestation of “Christian Hope.” This vocation is not for everyone, which makes me glad, because I don’t think I could do it. 

The Mass was more than well attended - barely room for standing. Beautiful Liturgy with bells and incense. The church was filled with the families of the sisters, religious brothers, priests, deacons and volunteers. Everyone there had some association with the Missionaries of Charity. I was blessed to be invited to join my fellow clergy on the altar. I do not deserve such a gift.

This is the legacy of Mother Teresa – 4000+ sisters and over 100,000 lay volunteers operating in 123 countries, serving people with aids, leprosy, in soup kitchens and more. Although these apostolates involve “social work”, Mother never ceased to proclaim “I am not a social worker. I don’t do it for this reason. I do it for Christ. I do it for the Church.”

Mother, like John the Baptist, was a “prophet.” When we hear the word “prophet”, we think of a person who foretells the future – but that is not the meaning of the word in scripture. A prophet is one who calls the people back to fidelity (loyalty/observance) by words and by example. For example, Mother said “if you cannot feed one hundred people, then feed just one”. Do you know that these words have been the cause of many conversions? A prophet is also a thorn in the side of God’s people because he identifies their infidelity and God’s displeasure with them. In 1985, Mother Teresa gave a speech at the United Nations, which by the way, was attended by the late Sam Ciccone at the request of Mother. Sam was a parishioner at St. Thomas. We had a saint in our midst. Mother said “peace, begins at home, in our own family. Works of love begin at home and works of love are works of peace. We all want peace, but we are not afraid to kill an innocent child, that little unborn child, who has been created for that same purpose: to love God and to love you and me.” I am sure these words were a thorn in the side of many at the UN. So Mother fulfilled a prophetic role when she called the world to defend and work for the dignity of the human person.

 The Church, in her great wisdom, has chosen for this 3rd Sunday of Advent, or “Gaudete Sunday, a most appropriate gospel passage. It is a message, as St. Paul says, that causes us to “rejoice in the Lord always.” It is Jesus, through John the Baptist, giving us insight into how we should live our lives.

But today, the message of “rejoicing” is hard to hear - for we have just experienced a tragedy beyond belief - the loss of life, of the innocent, in an elementary school in Connecticut. 

 This tragedy hits home, with all of us – parents or non-parents. I think of my grandson, my little Oliver, I think of my son who is an elementary school principal in Midland Park – of his great responsibility to protect so many children. I ask Jesus, what is your answer for all of this?

Jesus told us that John the Baptist, his own cousin, was the greatest prophet – more than Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, even Mother Teresa. So we should listen to him.

The crowds, the tax Collectors, the people, they all thought that John may be the Christ. So they all asked him a question, “what should we do? We ask the same question today, “What should we do”? John’s first answer is that we should “share.” Our clothing, our food…. Certainly Christians are called to do this – we must do this. But there is much more here. We are called to share our hearts, with our families and our neighbors – we all have a responsibility to protect each other from evil. What was the cause of this tragedy? Certainly a young man with a deranged mind. Certainly the violence that permeates our society today – in all types of media. The devil use’s all means available to wreak havoc in our world. And is a society that is trying to take God out of all aspects of life a cause of violence? Absolutely.

 We need not look too far back in history to see the results of a Godless society. We must not be afraid to stand up and protect our children. Christians, we are in the world, but not of the world.

John answers again, “be satisfied with your wages.” In our first reading, the prophet Zephaniah says “Do not be discouraged, for the Lord, Our God, is in our midst.” No matter the situation, God is always present. St. Paul tells the Philippians “have no anxiety at all; the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

No matter the situation, God brings triumph out of tragedy. Still, these words too are hard to hear. This deacon does not have all the answers or the insight to explain to you why God allows evil to exist in our world. Yet there is one man who understood suffering well, and was a witness to the worst violence known to man. His name was Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II. His following words were spoken immediately after 9/11. I believe they are appropriate for today.

Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.”

Let us beg the Lord that the spiral of hatred and violence will not prevail. May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Mercy, fill the hearts of all with wise thoughts and peaceful intentions.”

Deacon Brian J. Murphy

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Deacons Ordained in "Sligo" , A Historic Moment !

Exciting news out of the Irish Times ! This past Saturday, six men were ordained as "Permanent Deacons" in County Sligo, Ireland. The deacons will be a much needed blessing for the Church in Ireland.

Marese McDonagh writes..

A post-primary teacher, a bakery manager and a tool designer were among six men ordained as permanent deacons in Sligo on Saturday, a Catholic ministry which permits them to preside at funerals, celebrate Baptism and officiate at marriages.

The new deacons, all married and in permanent employment, were ordained at Sligo cathedral by the Bishop of Elphin, Christopher Jones. He described the occasion as “truly joyous” and historic, pointing out that it was almost 1,500 years “almost back to the time of St Patrick himself” since a similar ordination had taken place in the diocese.

Fr Michael Duignan, director of the permanent diaconate in the diocese, told reporters that responding to a shortage of priests was not the primary reason for the revival of the permanent deacon, but he agreed that it would be “very helpful”.

Newly ordained William Gacquin (57), who teaches Spanish, Irish and religion at CBS Roscommon, said the last recorded reference to a deacon in diocesan records was when one baptised St Ciaran in the parish of Fuerty, Co Roscommon, in the sixth century.

The men were ordained following four years of study at St Angela’s College Sligo. The ministry does not permit them to say Mass, although they can assist the priest, read the Gospel and preach a homily. They cannot hear Confession or anoint the sick.

One of the deacons, Wando Araujo (41), a father and grandfather, originally from Brazil, now lives in Roscommon town, where he runs a bakery.

“I regard the diaconacy as a vocation,” he said. His brother Claudio has already invited him to officiate at his wedding in Brazil next summer.

Frank McGuinness (42), a native of Rossinver, Co Leitrim, was keeping a close eye on his sons James (5) and John (10) as the families waited to be photographed with the bishop after the ceremony. He said his decision was far from a shock to his wife Louise: “Faith is a big part of both our lives.”

Read more HERE

Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy Birthday Harry Chapin !

Today would have been Harry's 70th birthday. Hard to imagine that he is gone so long. I could go on and on, explaining his influence on my life - musically and spiritually. I was blessed to see him in concert, to shake his hand, to play his songs in my "bar" days. I named my daughter after his song "Corey's Coming." Harry was one of a kind, - a man who believed in giving back. He would say "One night for me, the next two for the other guy." Harry, I will always listen to you and play your story songs. God bless you.

Here is one of my favorite Chapin songs....Story of a Life...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

HHS mandate's coercive nature is a FACT

I recently read this article in the Archdiocese of Newark Catholic Advocate. It is written by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City. It concerns the HHS mandate and it's coercive nature. It also concerns the person who holds the second highest office in our nation. How a Catholic in such high position can so easily lead others astray is sad and sinful. 

During the Oct. 11 debate, Vice President Joseph Biden looked into the camera and emphatically said: “With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution – Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital – none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the next day a statement in response to Vice President Biden’s claim that said in part: “This is not a fact. The HHS [Health and Human Services] mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain religious employers. That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital, or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.

“HHS has proposed an additional accommodation for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as non-exempt. That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation to pay for contraception and to be a vehicle to get contraception. They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries. “The USCCB continues to urge HHS in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.”

Why would Vice President Biden look the American people in the eye and say something that is clearly not true? It is difficult to believe that the vice president does not understand the HHS mandates and what they require from religious institutions. If this were so, it certainly reflects poorly on his competency.
Of course, the only other explanation is that he purposely misled the American people. Congressman Ryan asked the vice president a very pertinent question. If the rights of institutions are not being threatened, then why are Catholic dioceses, hospitals and colleges suing the federal government in 14 different jurisdictions on this very matter? Unfortunately, the vice president did not answer the question and the moderator of the debate failed to press him on this matter.

Just two weeks ago, President Obama, in speaking to campaign supporters at George Mason University, was bragging about the mandates. He said the following to an overwhelmingly friendly audience: “I don’t think a college student in Fairfax or Charlottesville should have to choose between textbooks or the preventive care she needs. That’s why we passed this law. And I am proud of it. It was the right thing to do. And we are going to keep it.”

I am in favor of college students getting physicals, vaccinations and other preventive screenings. However, this administration has defined preventive health care to include abortifacient drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations. For contraceptives and sterilizations to be preventive health care, then fertility and pregnancy have to be considered diseases. If the administration’s definition of preventive health care is permitted to stand, then what is the cure to an unplanned pregnancy when the “preventive care” does not work? Logically, it must be abortion.

Recently, I was at an event where I spoke about the current threats to religious liberty. Afterwards, a man came up to me and said that he disagreed with what I said. I asked him: “What specifically do you disagree with?” He replied that he thought a nurse at a Catholic hospital should be able to get contraception as part of her health coverage.

I said, “Then, you believe that the church and her institutions should be coerced to provide something we believe to be immoral.” He replied: “Well, that’s your opinion.” I replied: “It is not an opinion. It is a fact that must follow if we accept the premise that the government should force Catholic institutions to provide abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives.”

He replied that he believed contraception actually prevented abortion. This is, indeed, a popular myth. The facts of the past 40+ years, however, contradict this politically correct dogma. As contraception became more readily available and as our government funded its provision to the poor with hundreds of millions of dollars annually, we have experienced epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy and abortion.

Abby Johnson was so convinced that contraception prevented abortion that she became a director of a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic. A couple years ago, Abby left Planned Parenthood because she was being pressured to increase the number of abortions at her clinic. Abby Johnson said that half of those seeking abortions at her clinic had been using contraceptives when they became pregnant.

Vice President Biden was asked how he squared his support for legalized abortion with his Catholic faith. Again, he looked into the camera and said he believed in the sanctity of human life, but he did not think it right to impose his moral beliefs on others. Afterwards, one of the pundits analyzing the debate applauded the vice president for having such a “thoughtful” position on abortion.

Believing that an unborn child is an innocent human life and supporting the rights of others to kill this innocent child is anything but thoughtful. It is intellectually and morally an incoherent position.

You can read the article in its entirety HERE

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Day

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Prayer for Travelers

Lord Jesus Christ my God, be my Companion, guide and protector during my journey. Keep me from all danger, misfortune and temptation. By Your divine power grant me a peaceful and successful journey and safe arrival. In You I place my hope and trust and You I praise, honor and glorify, together with Your Father and Holy Spirit now and forever and ever. Amen.
Lord Jesus, You traveled with the two disciples after the resurrection and set their hearts on fire with Your grace. Travel also with me and gladden my heart with Your presence. I know, Lord, that I am a pilgrim on this earth, seeking the citizenship which is in heaven. During my journey surround me with Your holy angels and keep me safe from seen and unseen dangers. Grant that I may carry out my plans and fulfill my expectations according to Your will. Help me to see the beauty of creation and to comprehend the wonder of Your truth in all things. For You are the way, the truth and the life, and to You I give thanks, praise and glory forever. Amen.
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving !

Painting Norman Rockwell, Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Merton's Letter to a Young Activist

photo by Thomas Merton

from A Letter to a Young Activist

Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. And there too a great deal has to be gone through as gradually you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. The range tends to narrow down, but it gets much more real. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.

The big results are not in your hands or mine, but they suddenly happen, and we can share in them; but there is no point in building our lives on this personal satisfaction, which may be denied us and which after all is not that important.

The next step in the process is for you to see that your own thinking about what you are doing is crucially important. You are probably striving to build yourself an identity in your work, out of your work and your witness. You are using it, so to speak, to protect yourself against nothingness, annihilation. That is not the right use of your work. All the good that you will do will come not from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love. Think of this more and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be more open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it.

The great thing after all is to live, not to pour out your life in the service of a myth: and we turn the best things into myths. If you can get free from the domination of causes and just serve Christ’s truth, you will be able to do more and will be less crushed by the inevitable disappointments. Because I see nothing whatever in sight but much disappointment, frustration and confusion.

The real hope, then, is not in something we think we can do but in God who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see. If we can do God’s will, we will be helping in this process. But we will not necessarily know all about it before hand.

Enough of this…it is at least a gesture…I will keep you in my prayers.

All the best, in Christ,


Friday, November 9, 2012


Fr. Joseph Esper

The Stages of (Church) Persecution

1. The targeted group is stigmatized; its reputation is attacked, possibly by mocking it and rejecting its values.

2. Then the group is marginalized, or pushed out of the mainstream of society, with deliberate efforts to limit and undo its influence.

3. The third stage is to vilify the group, viciously attacking it and blaming it for many of society’s problems.

4. Next, the group is criminalized, with increasing restrictions placed on its activities and eventually even its existence.

5. The final stage is one of outright persecution.

What stage are we in now ?

** Father Esper is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit

Quote for the Day

"...perhaps Christ is nearer to you than He is to me: this I say without shame or guilt because I have learned to rejoice that Jesus is in the world in people who know Him not, that He is at work in them when they think themselves far from Him, and it is my joy to tell you to hope though you think that for you all men hope is impossible."  Thomas Merton

Monday, November 5, 2012


 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pope Offers Prayers For Hurricane Victims

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our series of catecheses for the Year of Faith, we have seen that faith is something intensely personal: a gift of God which transforms and enriches our life. At the same time, the gift of faith is given in and through the community of the Church. In Baptism I receive and appropriate the faith of the Church; my personal faith finds expression in the recitation of the Creed and in the communal celebration of the sacraments. The new life I live in Christ through the gift of his Spirit is received and nourished within the Church’s communion. In this sense, the Church is our Mother. As Saint Cyprian says, “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother”. Dwelling in the Church’s living Tradition, may we mature in the faith we have received and, by putting it into practice, become beacons of Christ’s light and peace in our world.
* * *
Conscious of the devastation caused by the hurricane which recently struck the East Coast of the United States of America, I offer my prayers for the victims and express my solidarity with all those engaged in the work of rebuilding. I now greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Sweden, Malaysia, Canada and the United States. My greetings go in particular to the group of elders from Nigeria visiting Rome on pilgrimage, and to the members of the Vox Clara Committee. Upon all of you I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.

-- General Audience 10/31/12

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Bloomfield New Jersey

As you know, New Jersey was hit last night by Hurricane Sandy. The wind was frightening. The sound was like a train running through our back yard. Thanks be to God, my family members are all well, with little damage to our homes. Not everyone fared so well. Let us pray for the well being and safety for all who experienced this terrible storm. The wind has slowed down now, but the rain is falling hard.

I just returned home from a drive around the neighborhood. Here are some images I shot.

Thank God no one was hurt !

downed power line on fire

Brookdale Park - Parking Lot

 Ridgewood Ave in Glen Ridge, NJ

Hopefully no one hurt - and up-to-date insurance
Leaving Brookdale Park. Had to drive up the walk, road blocked.