Thursday, December 22, 2011

Schools out . . . for Christmas

Today officially began my Christmas break. With Christmas around the corner, I have lots of exciting things to do. For example, today my main goal is to do laundry and back for my trip. I'll be traveling some during Christmas break. (I'll post all about the trip when I get back on the 5th).

But before leaving, I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Christmas Tree and Manger Scene in Piazza Venezia, Rome

God Bless!

You are a Priest forever...

... a Priest like Melchizedek of old. (Ps. 110:4)

On Saturday, December 17th at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Gaylord, MI, Bishop Bernard Hebda ordained Fr. Joe Ortega to the Holy Priesthood.

Even though I was not able to be there in person, I was able to pray for Fr. Joe and all those gathered at the Cathedral at the same time that the Mass was happening in Michigan. Every ordination is a joyous event, but especially when the one being ordained is a friend and diocesan brother. Every ordination is an act of renewal for the whole Church as she continues on her pilgrim journey.

What a beautiful time for an ordination too! How appropriate it is that a man is called forth and ordained a priest in this time of preparation for the Lord's coming. A priest, who is able to speak by the grace of God in the very person of Christ in order to consecrate bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, is a cooperator in the Advent of Our Lord. Is not every Mass an advent of Jesus, who is made present for us so that our whole being may be nourished? What a blessing for Fr. Ortega to be able to celebrate the Mystery of the Incarnation of Christ for the first time as a priest so soon after his ordination.

Best wishes to Fr. Ortega and to the rest of the seminarians of the diocese of Gaylord. May God continue to bestow his blessings upon us during the rest of our discernment.

(Photos courtesy John Smith)

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Official

This announcement came through the Vatican Information System today:

VATICAN CITY, 19 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in
audience Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the
Causes of Saints, and authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the
following causes:

- Blessed Maria Anna Cope, nee Barbara, German religious of the
Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse U.S.A. (1838-1918).
- Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, American laywoman

With this approval of the second miracle for both Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha and Bl. Marianne Cope we can anticipate sometime this next year a canonization of TWO new American saints. Bl Mother Marianne is known for her work on the lepper colony in Hawaii with St. Damian. I know of many people in the diocese who have a devotion to Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha. How awesome will it be to have a Native American saint! Praised be Jesus Christ!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelization

In the last few days we have celebrated two very important Marian feasts. The Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is of course an important feast day back in the States, but in Italy it is a national holiday. There were no classes (nice huh?) The day's main event was the celebration of Solemn Mass in the Immaculate Conception Chapel here at the North American College. It is a very important day for the college. Not only is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception the patroness of the college she is the patroness of the United States of America. So of course, in typical fashion, we would celebrate such a festive day with a banquet.

There were over 100 priests, 24 bishops and 2 cardinals concelebrating Mass that day. Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia was the principal celebrant.

The solemnity of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the belief that Mary in the moment of her conception was saved from original sin by the merits of her Son's death and resurrection. In that way, God prepares Mary to be a holy tabernacle for the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Nostra Signora dell'Immacolata Concezione...prega per noi

On December 12th we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
This year, the Holy Father celebrated the feast in St. Peter's Basilica. Originally, the Mass was scheduled for St. Mary Major. The official reason given for the Papal Mass was to mark the 200th anniversary of the independence of Latin American countries. The Holy Father took this opportunity to announce his plans to visit Cuba and Mexico this upcoming spring. This is great news! It will be Pope Benedict's first visit to those countries. His homily, which was delivered in Spanish rather than Italian, focused on the role of Our Lady of Guadalupe in evangelization. Close to five hundred years ago, Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego and asked to have a basilica built on top of a hill. For proof, Our Lady gave a miraculous image of herself to St. Juan Diego to show to the bishop. The miraculous image is venerated by millions of pilgrims each year. Following the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe millions of people were converted. I think that is the reason why Pope Benedict has chosen to draw our attention this year to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization.

Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe...ruega por nosotros.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ad Moltos Annos

Two years ago today our bishop, Most Rev. Bernard Hebda, was consecrated a bishop at St. Mary's Cathedral in Gaylord. Pray for him and all of our past bishops of the diocese.

Ad moltos annos...