Fr. Nathaniel Dreyer, IVE
Tuesday, Second Week of Lent
Jesus ends today’s Gospel with a lesson about humility: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” “On her deathbed, being asked by one of the nursing Sisters in attendance what virtue was the most important and dearest to God, St. Gemma Galgani answered ‘Humility; humility is the foundation of all the others.’” Any other defect God can fix, and fix quite easily. If we are ignorant, He can give us knowledge; if we are impatient, He can give us patience; but if we aren’t humble, there’s nothing that can be done. The one who is proud resists God’s workings, and won’t let God be God.
Saint Catherine of Siena says that humility flows from self-knowledge, and when we think about this, it’s easy to see why. Self-knowledge means considering ourselves as we truly are before God. Everything good that we have or that we can do, comes from Him. Everything good is on loan from Him; of ourselves, we can do nothing good. No matter what office we hold, what talents we have, it’s all a gift. However, this humility, this recognition of our littleness and our need for God’s constant care and assistance, is also our greatest source of strength and comfort.
Fr. Theodore Trinko, IVE
Memorial of St. Paul of the Cross
Preached at The National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Just like every Sunday of the year we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, every Friday has traditionally been seen as a day to commemorate the Passion of Our Lord. This is particularly highlighted in Lent when we all are required to fast from meat on Friday. Therefore, it is particularly appropriate that we are celebrating today St. Paul of the Cross since he, as his name should indicate, had a great devotion to the cross of Christ. But a devotion for the cross is not something which is ought to be reserved to any particular group of Christians or guys with special names, but rather ought to be something present in all of our lives.
We cannot call ourselves Christians unless we take up our crosses.
The cross has always been a symbol of our faith. To the Corinthians, St. Paul wrote that he was determined to speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (cf. 1 Cor 2:2). No Christ without the cross nor cross without Christ. St. Rose of Lima stated that there is no other ladder to heaven than the cross. Fulton Sheen taught that saints are formed in the shadows of the cross. As Christians we are all called to be holy, to be saints; but it’s a dogma proclaimed by the church in the catechism that there is no holiness without renunciation, “the way of perfection passes by the way of the cross.” Echoing the words of our Savior, who said that all His disciples had to take up their daily cross and follow Him (cf. Lk 9:23), the Second Vatican Council also taught that all Christians must be prepared to “follow Christ along the way of the cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.” To call ourselves Christians, teaches St. Paul, we must crucify our flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24).
Moreover, the cross serves as an example to us as to how we are to live our lives. St. Augustine said we should model our lives after the cross. In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas “Whosoever wishes to live with perfection should do nothing other than to despise what Christ despised [on the cross] and to desire what Christ desired [on the cross].
Perhaps the greatest reason for the importance of the cross in our lives, is based on that which it accomplished 2000 years ago. It was the price of our salvation. Before that fateful day on Calvary, heaven’s gates were closed and none entered into paradise. But now, through uniting ourselves to the cross, we are able to ascending into heaven. Think about this, the cross is always in an elevated position, we look up to it. By lifting up our heads we direct our attention to that heavenly realm to which we are called. But it is only possible to get there because the cross with its vertical beam has pierced the heavens and thus opened up a way for us to pass into our Father’s house.
Now, we have to ask, how do we unite ourselves to the cross? Fundamentally this takes place in baptism where we die with Christ by being submerged in the water only to rise with him upon emerging. That sacrament we receive only once, but on a daily basis we have the opportunity to unite ourselves to it in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
This is the most important part of the Mass, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Not that Jesus is sacrificed again, but rather that same sacrifice He made 2000 years ago on Calvary’s hill is made present anew on the altar of the Mass. It is the same sacrifice made present under sacramental forms in an un-bloody manner. The vertical beam of the cross is planted on the surface of the altar at the moment of the double consecration. We can see this sacrificial aspect in a few moments surrounding the consecration.
1) Have you ever wondered why the bread and the wine are consecrated separately? It’s to represent death. When a man’s blood is separated from his body, that man is dead. So too with the sacrifice of the Mass, at the consecration there is a real making present again of the death of Christ on the Cross. 2) After the consecration the priest sings “The mystery of Faith,” and everyone responds, “We proclaim your death O Lord.”
3) If we listen to certain Eucharist prayers attentively (all the part which takes place when we kneel down), we’ll hear the consecrated Body and Blood called a victim, a holocaust, an offering, and a sacrifice.
And we are all called to spiritually unite ourselves to this sacrifice. Place ourselves spiritually on the cross with Christ out of love for Him who put Himself on it for love of me. Or in the words of St. John de Brébeuf, whose feast we celebrated yesterday, “Jesus you died for me, I want to die for love of you.”
And so today, at the moment of consecration, let us recall that we are at Calvary, we are at the foot of the cross of Christ. What would we say to Jesus if we were there 2000 years ago? What would we feel? What would we do? We cannot travel back in time, but the cross will come to us now, so we can say, and feel, and do all that we would have had we been there. May the Blessed Virgin Mary obtain for us the grace to have those same dispositions she had when she was at the foot of the cross. Amen.
Fr. Christopher Etheridge, IVE
Memorial of Sts. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and Companion Martyrs
Have you ever trembled a little on the inside before assuming a responsibility or responding to that vocation that you know for sure God is asking you to say yes to? Or, have you ever trembled, physically or spiritually, in the face of present or future suffering?
If so, then don't worry, you are in the company of many other Christians of good-will, even saints. On the occasion of the memorial of Sts. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf and Companion Martyrs, I would like to share with you some inspiring words from a letter that St. Isaac Jogues wrote to his superior admitting to the fact that he himself "trembled" before God's will.
Fr. Theodore Trinko, IVE
Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist
Homily Preached at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitburg, MD
Today we are celebrating the feast day of a saint whose name we’ve heard on a daily basis in the Mass for several months: St. Luke. Almost every day the Gospel reading regarding Our Lord’s life is taken from the account which this evangelist wrote. As an author of one of the four Gospels, St. Luke is one of the most popular saints in religious art. Many Churches, such as this Basilica, depict the four evangelists on the four main columns holding up the dome of the Church to represent how the Church is founded in the Word of God. Here we can note that Luke is represented with an ox for two reasons:
Fr. Theodore Trinko, IVE
St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi is one of the world’s favorite saints. The number of Churches, streets, cities named after him are impressive. Inspired by his example, hundreds of thousands of men and women have entered one of the many religious orders of Franciscans. The title of the Pope’s encyclical “Laudate Si” is taken from his canticle of creation. Even the Pope’s own name is Francis. Despite this widespread popularity, very few of us really know who St. Francis is.
We all know the stereotypical image of him surrounded by frolicking bunnies and whimsical birds of the sky in the midst of an idyllic forest environment. These usually try to represent his love of creation which was so vividly manifested in his Canticle of the Creatures. However, before he was a love of God’s creation, he was first of all a lover of God the Creator.
Fr. Nathaniel Dreyer, IVE
Feast of St. Louise-Marie Grignion de Montfort
Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Louis de Montfort; there is, of course, plenty to say about him, but especially in the context of the today’s readings, I want to focus on just one incident in his life, one particular grace that he displayed: his complete and utter abandonment and conformity to God’s will.
Fr. Nathaniel Dreyer, IVE
Friday of the Second Week of Lent / St. Patrick
In today’s Gospel, we heard what’s called the “Parable of the Tenants.” There’s a lot we could say about the Gospel, but what should call our attention is how God prepares absolutely everything for the tenants: in particular, the tower was used, not only as a security lookout, but also a place for the workers to rest. This vineyard is entrusted to the tenants to work and produce fruits, and notice how the landowner trusts those tenants to get the job done. He doesn’t keep watch over them, or send spies: he trusts them entirely to do what they should be doing, and to cooperate with him in the task of making the land produce fruits.
The same is requested of us: each one of us has a certain task in the Lord’s vineyard. As we celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick today, we can reflect on the beautiful words of Pope Saint John Paul the Great when he visited Ireland in 1979. Speaking to seminarians, he said,
Priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word