Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral!

Today is the anniversary of the dedication of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral!

Well...sort of…

This part of the history of the Cathedral of the Diocese of Baker is a bit confusing.

If you’d looked in the Paulist Press ordo up till a few years ago, you’d have seen the dedication of St. Francis Cathedral listed on April 28.  However, this is not the date of the original dedication of the church.

The project of building St. Francis de Sales Cathedral was initiated by Bishop Charles J. O’Reilly, who had arrived in Baker City in 1903.  At that time, the “cathedral” was a little mission church which was certainly not able to accommodate the kind of liturgies that should be held in a Cathedral. So, on March 20, 1905, the old church was removed; on March 24, ground was broken for the new building.

The architect for the new cathedral was M. P. White of Baker City, and the builder was Thomas E. Grant. Stone was brought in from Pleasant Valley, with is southeast of Baker City. The building was actually completed in 1908 and opened on St. Patrick’s Day that year, but it was not put into use until after its dedication on April 9.

There’s the original date of dedication of the Cathedral of the Diocese of Baker: April 9.

There have been a number of renovations of St. Francis Cathedral, and after the major make-over around 1980  – which took a cathedral that once looked like this (ahhhh!):

and made it look like this (sigh):

there was a re-dedication on April 28, 1981. That date was probably given to the Paulist Press people by Bishop Connolly, who had initiated the renovationand who led the dedication ceremony. According to the printed pamphlet commemorating that event, the ceremony was attended by the bishops of five neighboring diocese - including Bishop William S. Skylstad of Yakima, the current Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Baker - as well as the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Portland. 

So, up until just a few years ago, one would always find April 28 listed as the date of the dedication of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in the Diocese of Baker. Last year’s ordo, however, listed it as April 9.

Why the change? The reason was probably because someone realized that the original dedication anniversary was on April 9. But you might be surprised to find that this year’s ordo lists the anniversary of the dedication of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral as April 16! That’s because April 9 falls in the Octave of Easter; the Octave days take precedence, so a celebration of the dedication of any cathedral would not be permitted.

Bishop Robert F. Vasa, prior to his transfer, had noted that April 9 almost always falls during Lent or in the Octave of Easter; therefore, the date for the celebration of the dedication would be different each year. On the other hand, the April 28 date submitted by Bishop Connolly would almost always be after Easter and the Octave (the latest possible date for Easter is April 25); therefore, keeping that date for the celebration of the dedication would lend it much more stability.  

April 28 is in fact related to a significant historical event for the Cathedral – a re-dedication – and so is an appropriate date that is at least in the same month as the original date, and which would be much more predictable than the April 9 date. Bishop Vasa had intended to mention something about this in the Diocesan newsletter the following year, but since he was transferred to the Diocese of Santa Rosa, the clarification fell by the wayside.

At any rate, in at least the last 10 years, the bishop of the Diocese of Baker has not been at the Cathedral for the celebration of the anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral on either April 9 or April 28. Even in 2008, for the centennial anniversary of the Cathedral, there was no bishop present: just the rector and two former pastors.

Prior to that, in October of 2007, Bishop-emeritus Thomas Connolly celebrated the 60th anniversary of his priesthood, and at that time, in the presence of a couple of archbishops, several bishops, and numerous priests, the newly renovated Cathedral sanctuary was "blessed and re -dedicated", according to the Cathedral parish website (which may be the best parish website in our diocese - well worth perusing!).

The anniversary of a Cathedral's dedication is to be celebrated as a solemnity in the Cathedral parish; it is celebrated as a feast elsewhere in the diocese. The cathedral is the "mother church" of the diocese and should be a liturgical example of excellence to the rest of the parishes, according to the Ceremonial of Bishops.

It could be so in the Diocese of Baker, but it is not so at present.

Perhaps our new bishop will make the necessary adjustment by next year.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Another Parish: Our Lady of the Angels in Hermiston

For the next installment of the “get to know your diocese” theme, here we highlight some photos from Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Hermiston, Oregon.

This parish has a nice website with lots of information as well as photos. In addition to providing access to the parish bulletin, there’s a separate page of “announcements”, and a link to a “parish history” article.

Here are a few photos:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Holy Redeemer Parish, Diocese of Baker

Continuing with the “get to know your diocese” theme started a few days ago, here we will highlight some photos from Holy Redeemer Parish in La Pine, Oregon.

This parish has a nice website with lots of information as well as several photo albums. In addition to a “parish history” article, there’s a biography of the pastor, Fr. Jose Thomas Mudakodiyil. The Sunday homilies are posted as well.

Here are a few photos:

Holy Redeemer Church, La Pine

Holy Thursday - men getting their feet washed.

Good Friday

Easter Vigil
Parish Easter Egg Hung

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Episcopal Ordination in the Diocese of Baker: Another Update

Google inquiries about the upcoming episcopal ordination of Fr. Liam Cary are sometimes leading to this blog, so I'll attempt an update. If you have further questions, the Chancery office in Bend may be able to help you.
Fr. Liam Cary
Plans for the ordination are proceeding, it appears…not that I have any inside line on what’s happening. I do know that tickets are hard to come by. From a few reports I’ve heard, it sounds like most parishes were given 6 tickets to distribute to parishioners.  I know of two parishes where a drawing is being held – all interested parties were to submit their names, and random selection will take place at a pre-ordination date. That seems like a fair way to distribute the tickets.

There is non-ticket seating available at St. Francis Church, in the auditorium (?). Having never been there, I don’t really know what this space looks like, but the ordination will apparently be viewed by attendees on a big screen TV (or something). And there is a rumor that the ordination may be available by internet to other parishes, but I’m not sure about that. If you are interested, you might contact someone at your parish office or at the chancery in Bend.

The only thing I’ve heard about the music is that Fr. Cary requested the Te Deum, and it will be sung…whether in English or Latin, I don’t know.

Fr. Cary is currently in Rome with the northwest bishops. According to Canon Law,

Before taking canonical possession of his office, he who has been promoted is to make the profession of faith and take the oath of fidelity to the Apostolic See, in accordance with the formula approved by the same Apostolic See.  (Can. 380)

So perhaps Fr. Cary will be able to do that during his current visit.  Canon Law lists a good many duties and responsibilities of bishops – it’s a daunting office! For instance (my emphases):

Can. 383 ß1 In exercising his pastoral office, the diocesan Bishop is to be solicitous for all Christ's faithful entrusted to his care, whatever their age, condition or nationality, whether they live in the territory or are visiting there…

Can. 384 He is to have a special concern for the priests, to whom he is to listen as his helpers and counselors. He is to defend their rights and ensure that they fulfill the obligations proper to their state. He is to see that they have the means and the institutions needed for the development of their spiritual and intellectual life. He is to ensure that they are provided with adequate means of livelihood and social welfare, in accordance with the law.

Can. 385 He must in a very special way foster vocations to the various ministries and to consecrated life, having a special care for priestly and missionary vocations.

Can. 386 ß1 The diocesan Bishop is bound to teach and illustrate to the faithful the truths of faith which are to be believed and applied to behavior. He is himself to preach frequently. He is also to ensure that the provisions of the canons on the ministry of the word, especially on the homily and catechetical instruction, are faithfully observed, so that the whole of Christian teaching is transmitted to all.

ß2 By whatever means seem most appropriate, he is firmly to defend the integrity and unity of the faith to be believed…

Can. 387 Mindful that he is bound to give an example of holiness, charity, humility and simplicity of life, the diocesan Bishop is to seek in every way to promote the holiness of Christ’s faithful according to the special vocation of each. Since he is the principal dispenser of the mysteries of God, he is to strive constantly that Christ’s faithful entrusted to his care may grow in grace through the celebration of the sacraments, and may know and live the paschal mystery.

From everything I’ve read and heard about Fr. Cary, he is a good candidate for the episcopal office, but no man can fulfill all of the above requirements without God’s help and grace. Of course, ordination imparts grace, but bishops need our prayers, too. Pray for all bishops!

Lastly, here’s another news story about Fr. Cary – it’s from the RegisterGuard in Eugene. The article notes a couple of interesting twists to Fr. Cary’s story:

The Rev. Liam Cary returned to Eugene last June thinking his unconventional journey to the priesthood had reached its resting point.

To lead the congregation at St. Mary Catholic Church in downtown Eugene — where during the 1980s he went from working as the parish janitor to serving as a deacon — seemed like the right calling for the 64-year-old.

“It seemed very fitting to me to come back here,” Cary said. “I said my first Mass here at this church.

“When I came back this summer, many people said I was coming home.”

Toward the end of the article is this note:

Following his upcoming weeklong trip to Rome, Cary will be ordained bishop on May 18 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Bend. Working as Cary’s right-hand man will be Vicar General Rick Fischer, an old friend of Cary who attended Mount Angel Seminary with him during the 1960s.

Fr. Rick Fischer
As a freshman, Fischer remembers looking up to Cary, who was a senior and the student body president.

“I was pretty starstruck that the student body president would even talk to me, a lowly freshman,” Fischer said. “Even back then he was well-liked. He’s a very kind person, very down to Earth.” 

Parish Pictures: Diocese of Baker

In an effort to help the people of different parishes become acquainted with each other, here are a few photos from websites of several parishes in the Diocese of Baker.

It's amazing how few parishes have websites; and not all websites have photo albums. That said, here are some of my finds:

From the website of St. Patrick parish in Madras:

Dedication of the altar at Blessed Kateri -
a mission church of St. Patrick.

From the website of St. Thomas in Redmond:

St. Thomas Church

St. Thomas Altar Christmas 2011
The altar at Christmas

St. Thomas Church Baptismal Font
Baptismal font at back of church

St. Edward in Sisters has many photos here, which won't allow themselves to be copied and pasted - you can follow the link to view them.

I hope to continue this project over the next week or so. Feel free to email photos of your parish if you'd like to help the rest of the diocese get to know you!  

Send photos to

Thursday, April 19, 2012

First Holy Communion

Enjoy this video of First Holy Communion at Sacred Heart parish in Medford in 2009; Fr. Liam Cary, our bishop-elect, was the pastor.

And notice: the children receive their First Holy Communion on the tongue...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Prayer to Jesus Forsaken

This prayer was posted by “Tantamergo” on A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics, and I thought it was too beautiful not to pass on.

Yes, as Tantamergo notes, it does seem reminiscent of Lent, but then we must not forget our Lenten lessons.  And the prayer certainly evokes the message of Divine Mercy.
Sweet Jesus! For how many ages hast Thou hung upon Thy Cross and still men pass Thee by and regard Thee not!

How often have I passed Thee by, heedless of Thy great Sorrow, Thy many Wounds, Thy infinite Love!

How often have I stood before Thee, not to comfort and console Thee, but to add to Thy Sorrows, to deepen Thy Wounds, to spurn Thy Love!

Thou hast stretched forth Thy Hands to raise me up, and I have taken those Hands and bent them back on the Cross.

Thou hast loved me with an infinite love, and I have taken advantage of that love to sin the more against Thee.

My ingratitude has pierced Thy Sacred Heart, and Thy Heart responds only with an outpouring of Thy Love in Thy Precious Blood!

O Divine Jesus! lonely tonight (today) in so many Tabernacles, without visitor or worshipper…..I offer Thee my poor heart. May its every throb be an act of love for Thee! 
Thou art always watching beneath the Sacramental Veils in Thy Love!! Thou dost never sleep and Thou art never weary of Thy Vigil for sinners. O lonely Jesus! may the flame of my heart burn and beam always in company with Thee! O Sacrament Most Holy! O Sacrament Divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine!

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis!
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis!
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Divine Mercy Sunday

A few thoughts on this Sunday...

From Fr. Z:

This Sunday has many nicknames. In the post-Conciliar calendar it is the “Second Sunday of Easter (or of Divine Mercy)”. It is also called “Thomas Sunday” (because of the Gospel reading about the doubting Apostle), and “Quasimodo Sunday” (from the first word of the Introit), and “Low Sunday”.

This is also the conclusion of the Octave of Easter, during which we halted our liturgical clocks and contemplated the mysteries we celebrated from different points of view.

Since ancient times this Sunday has been called “Dominica in albis” or “in albis depositis”, the Sunday of the “white robes having been taken off.” 1 Peter 2:2-3 says:
“Like (Quasimodo – from a Latin Scripture translation that pre-dated the Vulgate by St Jerome) newborn babes (infantes), long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

Holy Mass on “Low Sunday” begins with an exhortation of the newly baptized, who were called infantes. The infantes wore their white baptismal robes for the “octave” period following Easter during which they received special instruction from the bishop about the sacred mysteries and about the Christian life. Today they put off their robes and, in some places, left them in the cathedral treasury as a perpetual witness to their baptismal vows.

Following along the theme of this Sunday as “Dominica in albis”, here is an excerpt from the readings for the office of matins (emphases added):

From the Sermons of St Augustine, Bishop of Hippo.
1st Sermon for the Octave of the Passover, being the 157th for the Seasons.

The Feast of this day is the end of the Paschal solemnity, and therefore it is today that the Newly-Baptized put off their white garments: but, though they lay aside the outward mark of washing in their raiment, the mark of that washing in their souls remains to eternity. Now are the days of the Passover, that is, of God's Passing-over our iniquity by His pardon and remission; and therefore our first duty is so to sanctify the mirth of these holy days, that our bodily recreation may be taken without defilement to our spiritual cleanness. Let us strive that our relaxation may be sober and our freedom holy, holding ourselves carefully aloof from anything like excess, drunkenness or lechery. Let us try so to keep in our souls their Lenten cleansing, that if our Fasting hath left us aught yet unwon, we may still be able to seek it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Children and Blessings at Communion

Fr. Ryan Erlenbush at The New Theological Movement has some pertinent comments and some very good points as he asks today “What is wrong with a priest giving blessings to young children in the Communion line?” 

Fr. Erlenbush’s article is a response to Fr. Cory Sticha, who has stated, “I despise blessing children in the Communion line…” [read the article here], and Fr. Z, who agreed with Fr. Sticha [here]

I’m inclined to agree with Fr. Erlenbush in his analysis of whether or not a priest should give a blessing to young Catholic children in the Communion line. Here are some of his thoughts (read the full article here):

Limits of this discussion

…There is only one particular case we will be looking at… – the question of whether a priest should give a blessing to Catholic children who have not yet received their First Communion but who have joined their parents in the Communion line…

…[W]e must recall that the practice of regular Communion has only fairly recently come back to prominence in the life of the Church. And, whether this is always to the spiritual benefit of the faithful (since many, it seems, are unaware of what is required to be well disposed for the Sacrament), the widespread practice of both the father and mother regularly coming forward in the Communion line is not much more than one hundred years old (at least in North America).

When it was less common for both the mother and father to come forward, it was more common for the young children to remain in the pew with one or both of their parents. However, now that it is more common for both parents to come to Communion, it has also become the practice that the parents bring their infants and young children with them in the Communion line (rather than leaving them alone in the pew).

This practice of bringing the young children forward in the Communion line is a bi-product of the practice of frequent reception of Holy Communion by parents. And, since regular Communion is rather new, it is no surprise that the liturgical books have not yet addressed the issue. The Church does not tell the parents what they are to do with their infants – neither does liturgical law tell the priest how he is to handle young children when they accompany (or are carried forward by) their parents in the Communion line.

In any case, a simple sign of the Cross made over an infant can hardly be said to disrupt the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament. This little blessing, given to young Catholic children, does not do any great violence to the liturgy but can instead be seen as a legitimate adaptation brought on by the rather recent phenomenon of both parents regularly coming forward to Communion.

Another option: A Spiritual Communion?

Some will recommend that children who are too young to receive Communion should not be blessed but should instead be allowed to make a spiritual communion. These persons suggest that the Host be held before the child and that the priest allow a brief moment for the child to bow or make some other gesture of worship [or they recommend some other variation on this theme].

I do not think this practice is reasonable, on two accounts. First, a child too young to receive Communion is not capable of making a spiritual communion – if he is, then he should be receiving sacramental Communion. Second, providing this pause for a spiritual communion would be even more disruptive to the liturgy than the act of a simple blessing. Finally, this substitution would still be an “addition” (in legalistic terms) and would thus not really solve the so-called “problem” anyways.

I think Father’s explanation here is right on every count. In addition, imagine the disruption of Holy Communion that would occur when the priest, offering a spiritual communion to a young child, holds up the host, and the young child reaches for it, only to have it then refused! “Waaaaaaaah!!!”

A reason for blessing the young children

One reason for blessing the young children who are brought forward in the Communion line is that they are united to the Church by the living faith which they received in their baptism. Now, the Communion line is a sign of the unity of the Church; therefore, these little ones do no harm in coming forward with their parents, for they are truly united to the Church by the theological virtues of faith and charity.
However, according to the practice of the Roman Rite (a practice which, in my opinion, is very wise), children below the age of reason are not to take Communion. Still, I can see no reason why the communion with the Church, the mystical body of Christ, in which they share through their baptism cannot be expressed through a simple blessing given by the priest.

Now, I do not say that any parish or priest should introduce this practice. If, however, it is already a custom in a given parish, refusing to bless the children hardly seems a battle worth fighting. In any case, the parents clearly cannot leave toddlers and infants alone back in the pews, so the children will generally be brought forward in the Communion line when both parents are communicating.  (my emphasis)

What should be avoided
If a priest does give blessings to children, a few things should be avoided.

First, the priest should not be touching the children with the fingers which he uses to distribute Communion. The danger of the profanation of the Eucharist is far too great. Sacred Particles will surely be dispersed, resulting in sacrilege. (my emphasis)

I like Fr. Erlenbush’s stipulations here; that the custom of blessing children in the Communion line should not be introduced if it is not already in place, and that the priest must exercise great care in how he gives the blessing. In addition, Fr. Erlenbush notes:

Second, extraordinary ministers ought not to make the sign of the Cross. It would cause great confusion, and they have not the authority. Indeed, they should not give any sort of “blessing”. Perhaps they could say something like, “Receive Jesus in your heart” (as Archbishop Chaput suggests) – personally, I see no easy solution to this aspect of the question. (my emphasis)

Yes, the problem of extraordinary ministers giving a “blessing” is something to be addressed, I believe. It has been addressed in our diocese, but lay ministers continue to do it, even when instructed otherwise. The solution I see is this: use fewer extraordinary ministers! At least in many of the parishes in the Diocese of Baker, there is an overabundance of them, and they are over-used. And especially with regard to administering the Host, it seems to me that only a priest’s hands are anointed to that purpose, and lay ministers should not be doing it anyway.

And, finally, Fr. Erlenbush makes what I think is a most important distinction between the case of “blessings at Communion” in general, and those for young children:

Third, it seems to me that the situation of a Catholic child (who is too young to receive Communion) should not be lumped in with those who are non-Catholic or who are not disposed to receive Communion on account of mortal sin. The persons in these last groups are not visibly united to the Church through living faith, and so they are quite different from the little ones. Still, again, there is no easy solution to this problem. (my emphasis)

Amen to that.

Of course, in defending the blessing of children at Communion, many would quote the scripture verse, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me” (Matthew 19:14); however, as Fr. Erlenbush points out, this is a “low blow”, since “the question is not whether to bless children, but when”. In this case, I think Fr. Erlenbush convincingly answers that question – whether to bless children – in the affirmative.

Be sure to read Fr. Erlenbush’s full article – he addresses other aspects of the issue which I did not include here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gregorian Masses for the Dead

Prayer for the Dead

The belief of the Church based on the Word of God as revealed in the second Book of Maccabees, is that it is a holy and worthwhile thing to pray for the dead that they may be freed from sin. The people of God from the earliest times have acted on this conviction in various ways.

St. Teresa of Avila interceding for the
souls in purgatory

Gregorian Masses

One tradition that has come down to us, as related by Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604) in his treatise on the Immortality of the Soul, is that there is special efficacy in having Mass celebrated on thirty consecutive days for a deceased person. For this reason they are known as Gregorian Masses.

The Roman Catholic Church has established strict regulations concerning the celebration of Gregorian Masses.

1. Gregorian Masses are offered for only one deceased person.

2. Gregorian Masses cannot be offered for several deceased, nor for all the faithful departed.

3. Gregorian Masses must be offered one each day for thirty consecutive days. Should the series be interrupted for any reason, it must be begun again.

In addition, though the thirty consecutive Masses in the Gregorian series need not be celebrated by the same priest, nor at the same altar, they must each be offered for the same departed person for each of the consecutive thirty days.

As you will appreciate, few priests by reason of their work are free and able to offer the thirty consecutive Masses of the Gregorian series without interruption. Hence, it requires extra time to arrange to have the Gregorian Masses scheduled as this cannot be done usually in a place where only one priest is stationed; in case he falls ill, there must be at least one other priest available, and free to continue the Masses without interruption.

This will explain why a higher stipend is normally requested for the thirty Gregorian Masses.
Ancient Tradition

In accordance with a Catholic tradition of over 1,300 years, a series of thirty Holy Masses, known as Gregorian Masses, is offered on thirty consecutive days exclusively
for the repose of the soul of a departed person.

The name derives from Pope St. Gregory the Great who was the first to popularize this pious practice. St. Gregory relates in his Dialogues how, when he had finished the series of thirty Masses for a departed monk, the monk appeared to tell he had thus gained entry into glory on completion of the Gregorian Masses.

The hallowed tradition has been declared a “pious and reasonable belief of the faithful” on the authority of the Sacred Roman Congregation on Indulgences.

The customary offering for the uninterrupted series of thirty daily consecutive Gregorian Masses (for one deceased person only) is a donation of $400.

Monday, April 9, 2012

God's Love and the Real Presence

Although this "Vortex" episode was aired last Wednesday, April 4, the message is timeless:

And here's the script:

As we approach Holy Thursday – and the three holiest days of the year – tthe Church
invites us to turn our thoughts to the physical suffering of Our Blessed Lord… in the

And as we reflect on those sufferings – and quietly cringe when we think heavily on them – we can’t help but think that Our Blessed Lord’s motivation was love: to back up his words with actions, to prove that He meant what He said.

Now this raises a curious point. He said He loves us with no limit. And that he made this
especially and abundantly clear to His disciples at the Last Supper underscores a deep
truth for us.

The Catholic Church has held from its first moment that Our Blessed Lord is present – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, really truly and substantially – under the appearance of
bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist.

For a God who loves with an infinite love, the truth of the Real Presence of Our Lord in
the Eucharist almost becomes, you could say, a NECESSITY. It falls into the category
of HAVING to be true. It MUST be true.

Why? Because it’s opposite would be unthinkable. IMPOSSIBLE. How could God claim to love us with an infinite love – and have it within His power to be present physically among us – body, blood, soul, and divinity – and then choose NOT to be present?

The Divine Lover deliberately and willfully choosing to NOT be with His beloved when He has it in His power to easily do so would be a God who did not love completely. Mankind could stand at the Last Judgment and accuse its God of not loving to the
absolute full measure and last inexhaustible ounce He could muster. And mankind would be right.

The Catholic Church’s teaching on the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist is not
a proposition to be debated – yea or nay – for to reject it is to reject the idea that God loves completely, which is to make a liar out of God.

It is to be accepted in all its mystery, because at the end of the day, that’s what love
proposes and love in turn embraces. It’s just that simple; and love’s most mysterious
aspect is its simplicity.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Welcome to New Converts

Welcome, new Catholics!

On Monday’s “Vortex” episode, Michael Voris shared a letter he wrote to a young man who is being received into the Catholic Church this Easter (see the video below).

I think it’s worth sharing, and I’ll bet if you wanted to “borrow” some of these words to put into your own letter of welcome to a new convert, Michael Voris won’t mind.
Dear John,

First off, congratulations on your acceptance into the One True Church of Our Blessed Lord. Your path to salvation has become much less cumbersome and you will soon begin to excel even more rapidly in the spiritual life. My most heartfelt ‘welcome home’ to you.

When you and I first had occasion to meet last year, I felt sure that a young man who asked so many questions, must want to be very certain. Certitude is an admirable quality – it is an expression of the intellect’s grasping and taking possession of something. This is a necessary ingredient for your apprehension of the Faith.

However, even more important is that your knowledge now leads you into the mystery of Faith; it is here that Our Lord works His greatest actions in your life. Our minds can only comprehend so much, before words and our natural thought process begins to fail us. We cannot get our minds around the Divine, but we CAN fill our minds with truth and so invite the Divine to wrap itself around our minds. When Our Lord says, “know the truth and the truth will make you free”, this is what He is saying. You now know the truth, and always remember, that in the last analysis, the Truth is a person, not a concept.

We come to know THE Truth, by learning truths. They are, after all just little reflections of Him, some greater, others lesser, but all reflections of Him. When we come to learn, judge, weigh and accept theological truths, so as to then commit our selves, our very selves to Him, then He does indeed make us free.

Freedom is the greatest gift we have as men. With it, we can choose the Divine – in fact, that is the sole purpose of freedom, to choose to be with God. Any other choice limits our freedom and eventually kills it as we become trapped in sin and commit little acts of spiritual suicide. What our Loving Father desires for us is the light of freedom, His freedom, where we can stand fast caught up in the glory of the life of the Holy Trinity; where we can be in possession of God and within our capacity, love Him as He loves Himself.

The beginning of this process will now unfold for you as you receive Him in Holy Communion, as you meet Him in the Sacrament of Confession, for you will more than likely fall in the future and you may rest assured that this remedy is always available to you, prepared in fact for you, so you may experience anew, the joy of coming home to Him.

You now belong to the Church with countless ranks of angels and saints and martyrs flung far and wide not only through history, but also in Eternity. You have put on the Armor of God as St. Paul, a convert himself did and told you too as well. You have come to the Church personally established by the Second Person of the Holy Trinity to lead all men into sacred communion with the First and Third members as well.

You will be united not only in spirit, but also in the flesh as you receive from the altar His Body and Blood many times over in your life. In this, your own flesh will be prepared to be raised and glorified and brought to the home prepared for it from the foundation of the world.

This is what Our Lord means when He says in the gospel of St. John, “he who eats my
body and drinks my blood abides in Me and I will raise him up on the last day.” Having
been prepared to come into the Church, you are now being prepared to enter into Heaven.

Always stay strong in the Faith. This is not the end of a journey, although it is the end of the first steps. It is the continuation and unfolding of what God has desired for you personally before he threw the heavens into place and set the galaxies ablaze. Before the world came to be, He willed, with infinite longing that you be with Him and because you sought Him in what were then, unknown ways, through your love and desire to know the truth, you found THE Truth. And now he has prepared the path for you to enter into His life as fully as possible.

Welcome home John. Heaven has been waiting for you.

GOD Bless you and keep you.