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

POPE BENEDICT XVI - THE CHRISTMAS GREETINGS TO THE ROMAN CURIA


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