Sunday, April 27, 2014

John Paul II and John XXIII Canonized Saints


Prayer to St. John XXIII

Dear Pope John,
Your simplicity and meekness carried the scent of God and sparked in people’s hearts the desire for goodness. You spoke often of the beauty of the family gathered around the table to share bread and faith: pray for us that once again true families would live in our homes.
With outstretched hands you sowed hope, and you taught us to listen for God’s footsteps as he prepares a new humanity: help us have a healthy optimism of defeating evil with good.
You loved the world with its light and darkness, and you believed that peace is possible: help us be instruments of peace at home and in our communities.
With paternal gentleness you gave all children a caress: you moved the world and reminded us that hands have been given to us not for striking, but for embracing and drying tears.
Pray for us so that we do not limit ourselves to cursing the darkness but that we bring the light, bringing Jesus everywhere and always praying to Mary. Amen.

Prayer to St. John Paul II

Oh, St. John Paul, from the window of heaven, grant us your blessing! Bless the church that you loved and served and guided, courageously leading it along the paths of the world in order to bring Jesus to everyone and everyone to Jesus. Bless the young, who were your great passion. Help them dream again, help them look up high again to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth.
May you bless families, bless each family! You warned of Satan’s assault against this precious and indispensable divine spark that God lit on earth. St. John Paul, with your prayer, may you protect the family and every life that blossoms from the family.
Pray for the whole world, which is still marked by tensions, wars and injustice. You tackled war by invoking dialogue and planting the seeds of love: pray for us so that we may be tireless sowers of peace.
Oh St. John Paul, from heaven’s window, where we see you next to Mary, send God’s blessing down upon us all. Amen.

Read the Canonization Homily of Pope Francis HERE

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring in New Jersey, finally....






When the sun loves,
deeply, and with feeling,
it penetrates the barren
landscape and ignites
the spirit wanting to emerge –
in that instant, revealing
verdant fields
covered in flowers,
big and small,
growing toward the light…
broadcasting a symphony of colors.

Maria Morera Johnson

When the sun loves,
deeply, and with feeling,
it penetrates the barren
landscape and ignites
the spirit wanting to emerge –
in that instant, revealing
verdant fields
covered in flowers,
big and small,
growing toward the light…
broadcasting a symphony of colors.
Maria Morera Johnson
- See more at: http://catholiclane.com/poem-spring/#sthash.zvT1eQnA.dpuf

When the sun loves,
deeply, and with feeling,
it penetrates the barren
landscape and ignites
the spirit wanting to emerge –
in that instant, revealing
verdant fields
covered in flowers,
big and small,
growing toward the light…
broadcasting a symphony of colors.
Maria Morera Johnson
- See more at: http://catholiclane.com/poem-spring/#sthash.zvT1eQnA.dpuf
The April winds are magical
And thrill our tuneful frames;
The garden walks are passional
To bachelors and dames.
The hedge is gemmed with diamonds,
The air with Cupids full,
The cobweb clues of Rosamond
Guide lovers to the pool.
Each dimple in the water,
Each leaf that shades the rock
Can cozen, pique and flatter,
Can parley and provoke.
Goodfellow, Puck and goblins,
Know more than any book.
Down with your doleful problems,
And court the sunny brook.
The south-winds are quick-witted,
The schools are sad and slow,
The masters quite omitted
The lore we care to know.
Read more at http://www.blackcatpoems.com/e/april.html#KVR2ZqSFMemQp9yf.99
The April winds are magical
And thrill our tuneful frames;
The garden walks are passional
To bachelors and dames.
The hedge is gemmed with diamonds,
The air with Cupids full,
The cobweb clues of Rosamond
Guide lovers to the pool.
Each dimple in the water,
Each leaf that shades the rock
Can cozen, pique and flatter,
Can parley and provoke.
Goodfellow, Puck and goblins,
Know more than any book.
Down with your doleful problems,
And court the sunny brook.
The south-winds are quick-witted,
The schools are sad and slow,
The masters quite omitted
The lore we care to know.
Read more at http://www.blackcatpoems.com/e/april.html#KVR2ZqSFMemQp9yf.99

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday " He is Risen "


Today Hell cries out groaning:

My power has been trampled upon.

The Shepherd is crucified and Adam is raised.

I have been deprived of those whom I ruled.

Those whom I swallowed in my strength I have given up.

He who was crucified has emptied the tombs.

The power of death has been vanquished.

Glory to Thy Cross and Resurrection, O Lord.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

A Stabat Mater depiction, 1868


Monday, April 14, 2014

Holy Monday with Thomas Merton


“The other day there was a beautiful whistling of titmice – and now today one of them lay dead on the grass under the house, which may well have been some fault of mine, as we dumped some calcium chloride on a couple of anthills – not as a poison but as something to move them elsewhere.  What a miserable bunch of foolish idiots we are!  We kill everything around us even when we think we love  and respect nature and life.  This sudden power to deal death all around us simply by the way we live, and in total ‘innocence’ and ignorance, is by far the most disturbing symptom of our time.  I hope I at least can learn, but in the light of Holy Week I see, again, all my own internal contradictions – not all!  Hardly!  But the fact that I am full of them.  And that we all are.

A phenomenal number of species of animals and birds have become extinct in the last fifty years – due of course to man’s irruption into ecology.

There was still a covey of quail around here in early fall.  Now I don’t hear a single whistle, or hear a wing beat.”


 (From the collection of Thomas Merton writings, When the trees say nothing; writings on nature, this particular piece was originally published in Turning toward the World p. 312.)


Image "St. Joseph's Abbey"  © 2010 Brian J. Murphy

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday 2014

Entry of Christ into Jerusalem (1320) by Pietro Lorenzetti

The Revolutionary Message of Palm Sunday

By Father Robert Barron

The texts that Christians typically read on Palm Sunday have become so familiar that we probably don’t sense their revolutionary power. But no first-century Jew would have missed the excitement and danger implicit in the coded language of the accounts describing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem just a few days before his death.

In Mark’s Gospel we hear that Jesus and his disciples “drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives.” A bit of trivial geographical detail, we might be tempted to conclude. But about five hundred years before Jesus’ time, the prophet Ezekiel had relayed a vision of the “Shekinah” (the glory) of Yahweh leaving the temple, due to its corruption. However, Ezekiel also prophesied that one day the glory of God would return to the temple, and precisely from the same direction in which it had left: from the east (Ez. 43: 1-2). As the people saw Jesus approaching Jerusalem from the east, they would have remembered Ezekiel’s vision and would have begun to entertain the wild but thrilling idea that perhaps this Jesus was, in person, the glory of Yahweh returning to his dwelling place on earth. He was the new and definitive temple, the meeting-place of heaven and earth.

And there is even more to see in the drama. As the rabbi from Nazareth entered Jerusalem on a donkey, no one could have missed the reference to a passage in the book of the prophet Zechariah: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). A thousand years before the time of Jesus, David had taken possession of Jerusalem, dancing before the Ark of the Covenant. David’s son Solomon built the great temple in David’s city in order to house the Ark, and for that brief, shining moment, Israel was ruled by righteous kings. But then Solomon himself and a whole slew of his descendants fell into corruption. The people began to long for the return of the king, for the appearance of the true David, the one who would deal with the enemies of the nation and rule as king of the world. The Biblical authors expected Yahweh to become king, precisely through a son of David, who would enter the holy city, not as a conquering hero, riding a stately Arabian charger, but as a humble figure, riding a young donkey. Could anyone have missed that this was exactly what they were seeing on Palm Sunday?

Jesus was not only the glory of Yahweh returning to his temple; he was also the new David, indeed Yahweh himself, reclaiming his city and preparing to deal with the enemies of Israel. And this is why Pontius Pilate, placing over the cross a sign in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew announcing that this crucified Jesus is King of the Jews, became, despite himself, the first great evangelist!

So the message delivered on Palm Sunday, in the wonderfully coded and ironic language of the Gospel writers, continues to resonate: heaven and earth have come together; God is victorious; Jesus is Lord.


To learn more about Father Robert Barron, go to WORD ON FIRE

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fifth Sunday of Lent A


On April 27th, the Church will celebrate the canonization of two great Popes – Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. How wonderful it is to have saints, of our time, who we can emulate – who can intercede for us. They are wonderful witnesses– two men who possessed that “Christian Hope”, a hope that allowed them to live difficult lives without fear – for God was with them – and would always be with them.

Good Pope John the XXIII, or Angelo Roncalli, came from a poor peasant family. He suffered with various illnesses in his life, finally succumbing to stomach cancer. Soon before his death, when a friend approached him with concern, the Pope said ““Everything is grace. Pain is God’s grace, so don’t be worried.” He remembered the young Carmelite nun, Thérèse of Lisieux, who during her final moments, reassured her nurse - who had just seen her coughing up blood and was worried - because it was night time and finding a doctor would be difficult. “Sister, she said, do not worry: everything is the grace of God.” A fearless trust in God.

Blessed Pope John Paul II, whose name was Karol Wojtyla, experienced pain and loss at a very young age, losing his whole family by age 21. He suffered through Nazism and Communism. Soon after his election as Pope in 1978, he began to experience health problems. Being shot and almost killed in 1981 he spent several months in the hospital being treated for abdominal wounds and a blood infection. In time he would suffer a dislocated shoulder, a broken thigh bone, arthritis of the knee and an appendectomy – and then the most devastating illness, Parkinson’s disease. Hours before his death, struggling to swallow and breathe, the Holy Father mumbled his final words in Polish: “Let me go to the house of the Father.” A fearless trust in God.

Living our lives without fear – especially the fear of death - this is today’s gospel message. Death does not have the final word.

Jesus receives a message from his friends Martha and Mary that their brother Lazarus is ill. He replies “‘this sickness will end not in death but in God’s glory.” Now Lazarus is a very dear friend of Jesus. So why doesn’t Jesus “jump up” and run to see his friend? Instead, he waits two days. This seems very “out of character” for Jesus – who preached the consequences of not visiting the sick. It seems he is giving Lazarus time to die. When Jesus finally arrives, Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days. Four days was the number of surety that a person was “really” dead.  Quite understandably, Martha is annoyed with Jesus when she says, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Still, she knows that Jesus is holy – and close to God. She continues “even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.’  Jesus tells her, your brother will rise again. Martha says yes, I know - at the resurrection on the last day.

Jesus then reveals truth to Martha, and to all those around her – and they all must have been astounded. Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life.” I AM. Yahweh – I AM GOD.  These are dangerous words to say – most especially in Judea. He says “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’ Martha is beginning to get it – that death has no power. Jesus is distraught, asking where they have placed his friend, and then he weeps. God loves us so much, that he enters into our loss and our pain - that He weeps.  God is not aloof from our human condition. He arrives at the tomb – the stone is rolled away. Jesus says “Lazarus, here! Come out!’ And so Lazarus awakens from his sleep. 




Jesus says to us today “Come out!” Come out of the darkness – come out of your fear. Be not afraid. Death has no power. 

In our world today – the darkness of death, the fear of death, the finality of death – it conditions everything – it conditions the way we think, the way we organize our lives, politics, economics. The world tells us that the absence of life is the ultimate evil. Pope Benedict XVI said “Jesus revolutionized the meaning of death. He did so with his teaching, above all by facing death himself. "Dying he destroyed death," Death is no longer the same: It has been deprived, so to speak, of its "venom." If we live in faith, with no fear of death, our lives are radically changed.  How we face the difficulties and tragedies of life – how we react when we are told that a loved one – or even ourselves – is very sick – with a terminal illness. If we truly believe that death does not have the final say, then the nature of our fear is transformed. We will know that there is future glory for those that believe in the Lord.

At our baptism, we received the gift of the Holy Spirit – we become a Temple of the Holy Spirit.  In St. Paul’s letter today, he writes, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead - will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.”
John XXIII and John Paul II will be canonized this month – declared saints. Their lives gave witness to Christ – who conquered death for all time.

Good Saint John XXIII, Great Saint John Paul II, pray and intercede for us, that we might be worthy of your having touched our lives.  Thank you - for you have each uniquely given us models of how to follow Christ well.  As they have done so - may we do also.

                                                                                                                        Deacon Brian J. Murphy


* Above painting " The Raising of Lazarus, by Duccio 1310–11