10 Years of God’s Wonders

Saint John Paul the II described his priestly vocation as a gift and a mystery. I have seen that the priestly vocation is a gift because it is totally unmerited, and is never separated in your heart from the love of its giver, a love that endures forever. The gift testifies to that love, because the more perfect a gift it is, the more it suits you, and the more it shows how much the giver knows and loves you. The vocation is a mystery because is a part of God’s Providence that always has something more to say, and will only be fully fathomed when we meet Him face to face in Heaven.

A vocation, which is the calling God extends to each and every one of us on this earth, is a gift and mystery of the mirabilia Dei (the wonders of God) in a life, and, like the Israelites in times of the Old Testament, and the budding Christian communities of the New Testament, the mirabilia of God aren’t confined to one past moment in history, nor can they be contained in one moment of history. In times of light and darkness they shine through, reminding us of the past, illuminating the present, and promising the future. They occur in the grandest moments as well as the most intimate ones of our lives.

Today I celebrate the tenth anniversary of my priestly ordination, and it continues to be a gift and a mystery. This morning, during my meditation before the Blessed Sacrament, I meditated on the ten years of priestly blessings that I have received. I’ve come to the altar on many days with joy, some days with tears, but every day bringing the intentions of the whole world with me to entreat Our Heavenly Father through His Son to bless and protect my flock and all those in need of prayers and grace. I’ve considered every soul I’ve tried to help as a member of my constantly expanding flock, which I remember in prayer at every celebration of the Eucharist, asking the Lord to hear their prayer intentionsand to watch over them.

This morning in I concelebrated, in the same chapel where I was ordained a priest, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception with all my Legionary brothers of the Center for Higher Studies in Rome, presided over by our General Director. Four of my brothers, my former students, received the ministry of Acolyte and, God-willing, in May will be ordained deacons as a step toward their own priestly ordination.

I remembered you all in my Mass, in gratitude for the gift of the priesthood. I am grateful to all of you for your prayers and support in these ten years of priesthood. Please count on my prayers and my priestly blessing.

 

Jubilee for Universities

During the Year of Mercy special gatherings are organized for certain groups of the faithful, jubilees. A few days after returning to Rome I participated in the Jubilee for Universities, Research Centers, and Institutions for Artistic Higher Education. The event began on the afternoon of September 7th at the Pontifical Lateran University in the Aula Magna (Great Hall, dedicated to Pope Benedict XVI). It has a striking mosaic of Our Lord, Christ the Teacher. As part of the Jubilee a symposium was also organized in Knowledge and Mercy that was attended by academics from all over the world.

On Thursday, September 8th small group sessions were organized all over Rome, broken down by field of study (22 disciplines) and forums on topics such as university management. I attended the group session on theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. One of the most interesting talks was a Biblical reflection on the story of Jonah as someone resenting the Lord’s mercy because he doesn’t want to reconcile with those he despises and gradually comes to accept it, although the story remains open ended.

On Friday, September 9th there was a gathering of ecclesial movements and associations involved in universities at the Lateran University, and professors and employees from our two universities in Rome, the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum (where I work) and the European University of Rome, attended talks by the secretary for the Congregation for Catholic Education, and our Chancellor (and General Director of the Legion), Fr. Eduardo Robles-Gil.

The Jubilee concluded at the General Audience with the Holy Father on Saturday morning. I admit I was tempted to leave a little early in order to catch the train, but an audience is not complete without receiving the Holy Father’s blessing. Receiving his blessing was especially important because he always extends it to the family members of those present, especially the sick, and many of my aunts and uncles are getting older and frailer and needed his blessing. In the end I received the blessing for everyone and made it home earlier than the train would have gotten me home because the bus connections all Providentially fell into line.

Summer in Cupertino 2016

I’ve resisted the temptation to entitle this post, “How I spent my summer vacation” because for most of the summer I was working. June was time for helping with final exams in Rome, an activity that is not particularly picturesque unless you want to see students squirming and perspiring.

In July I headed back to the United States for a few weeks working on writing projects for rcspirituality.org, then visited home in August and went on vacation in and around Cupertino. We stayed in the beautiful Legionary retreat house, Our Lady of Santa Clara. This is a picture of the statue of the Blessed Mother on the back deck of the retreat center. It was just installed and blessed this year.

During my stay the Legionary brothers working in Cupertino renewed their temporal vows at Canyon Heights Academy. School families attended and later we had a pizza party at Round Table.

I should have entitled this post, “sharing the beauty” of California. Writing and researching is not very photogenic, so most of the photos are when I and other writers slipped away for an outing, as well as my vacation at the end of August. California is a beautiful state, so I’ll just let the pictures do the talking (or showing).

Point Lobos and Carmel Mission (where St. Junipero Serra is buried):

The campus of Stanford University and Stevens Creek County park:

The Japanese Friendship Gardens and Kelley History Park in San Jose:

Rancho San Antonio County Park, Cupertino, and the reservoir on Highway 17 at the end of the Los Gatos Creek Trail:

I also celebrated my birthday by going to the Computer History Museum, a wonderful experience for reconnecting with my inner nerd and feeling old: they had practically every PC, gadget, and game on display that I owned for the last forty-nine years. The Legionary community in Cupertino was also nice enough to get me a cake:

 

Mass times while visiting Watsonville

Just a quick note to let everyone know where I’ll be celebrating Mass during my visit to Watsonville, CA at the beginning of August. I hope to see you.

Date Place Time
2-Aug St. Patrick’s Church 8:00 AM
3-Aug Our Lady, Help of Christians 9:00 AM
4-Aug Our Lady, Help of Christians 9:00 AM
5-Aug Our Lady, Help of Christians 9:00 AM
6-Aug Our Lady, Help of Christians 4:15 PM
7-Aug St. Patrick’s Church 7:30 AM
8-Aug St. Patrick’s Church 8:00 AM
9-Aug St. Patrick’s Church 8:00 AM
10-Aug Our Lady, Help of Christians 9:00 AM

Marian Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Mentorella

I should have written this blog post before the one regarding my trip to New Hampshire, but it slipped my mind until I stumbled across the photos on my cell phone.

During the month of May my community did our annual Marian pilgrimage to the the Shrine of Our Lady of Mentorella.

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The site of the shrine has a history going back to the second century when St. Eustachius converted to Christianity there and was later martyred. The emperor Constantine decided to build a basilica there in honor of St. Eustachius and it was consecrated by Pope Sylvester I sometime before 335 A.D. In the sixth century the property was given to the Benedictine monks of Subiaco and some scholars believe it was one of the twelve abbeys founded by St. Benedict himself. In the thirteenth century a wooden statue of Our Lady that sits in the shrine even today was created.

Statue of Madonna?

The Benedictines abandoned the shrine in the fourteenth century and it fell into disrepair until the seventeenth century when a Jesuit, Fr. Athanasius Kircher, rebuilt the shrine and restored devotion to Our Lady of Mentorella. When he died he asked that his heart be buried there, and Pope Innocent XIII asked the same for himself. In 1857 it was entrusted to the Congregation of the Resurrection, who own and care for it today. St. John Paul II visited it often (it is cared for by Polish priests), and Pope Benedict XVI visited it in 2006.

We arrived late morning and had a concelebrated Mass with homily in the tiny shrine (we all managed to fit in the sanctuary for the concelebration, but it was tight). After Mass there was time for hiking in the mountains and hills surrounding the shrine (the shrine is up in the mountains in the area of Capranica Prenestina, a thousand meters above sea level). The Resurrection fathers were gracious enough to let us barbecue in a beautiful little cultivated terrace where they have cookouts. After lunch we chatted and played table games for a while before returning to Rome after honoring Our Lady and enjoying some majestic views.

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