August 9, 2017

Blessed Maria Francesca Rubatto

Today in Rome it's the feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), a feast day because she is one of the many patron saints of Europe, except where I happen to be offering Mass this week, at the Capuchin Sisters of Mother Rubatto, where today is the feast of their foundress, Blessed Maria Francesca (Anna Maria) Rubatto (1844-1904).

Mother Rubatto

Their General Curia is on the other side of the Villa Borghese from where we are and the priests here who sign up take weekly turns offering the weekday Mass there. I've appreciated getting to know them; they seem like a great community. It's too bad we don't have them in the U.S.A.

So I could prepare for the Mass today, the sisters lent me a copy of the liturgy for the day. Since not much was going on in the office--August in Rome you know--I made a translation of the reading offered for the Office of Readings.


Second Reading

From the letters of Blessed Mary Francis of Jesus
(Letters, 4 vols., Genoa, 1974 ff.)

Prayer, sacrifice, and the will of God

Dear daughters, there is no need for me to repeat it to you: every beginning demands sacrifices and therefore you cannot even imagine the need we have for prayer and divine help; may the Lord then inspire in us what is most fitting and pleasing to him. Divine Providence will not be lacking for us, even in temporal things. But what is more desirable is to be able to begin our mission with the sick and in teaching poor girls, and this will be obtained, I hope, by prayer and sacrifice. We have to pray very much that the Lord make us holy and sacrifice us for the good of souls.

Let us pray! Only prayer and the sacrifices that good souls make will be able to stop the many woes that are flooding the earth … May God keep you fervent in spirit and make you lovers of duty and of sacrifice, for without sacrificing ourselves—let us keep it in mind—no good will ever be done that can call itself truly good.

Attend lovingly and assiduously to what is yours to do. When you are busy, don’t think of so many miseries, but keep the mind centered in God and in what you are doing. This will put the conscience at peace and make the heart content …

Dear daughters, I recommend to you that you see things here below as always coming from the hand of God, so that you can remain at peace in abandonment to Divine Providence. Remember the great saying of our Seraphic Father who, amid fears, in sufferings, and in pains within and without, often repeated: “So great is the good that awaits me that every pain is a delight.”

Do everything for the love of God and you will see that you do not feel the weight of anything. If we all begin by taking up our own cross willingly, we will find ourselves at the summit of the holy mountain without having felt its weight and without having put it off onto others.

It is very true that sometimes a bit of storminess comes to us, but this is not always a matter of harm. We get beaten up a little—this I don’t deny—but this also makes us turn back more often to God who comes to our help, who breaks us out of bad habits, supports us, and strengthens us in the virtues of humility, patience, and charity. Blessed be God who in his goodness does not smite us completely, but only when we have need of purifying ourselves of our many defects …

How sad it is to see the suffering that comes from being without the comfort of our holy religion! When we have worked hard to stand up straight again under the weight of some problem that has come, there comes another that makes us pine for the former … Let us not lose heart in misfortunes! These are in fact our valid passport to heaven, to our true homeland!

Pray and work hard in the field that the Lord has prepared for you; obtain much merit for yourselves, keeping in mind that this life passes quickly and nothing remains before God but the good works done with a right and holy intention. Let us console ourselves with the thought that the one who suffers more will merit more, though only on the condition that our we offer our sufferings to Jesus our Spouse.

Let us procure for ourselves the grace of carrying our difficulties in peace and even to kiss them, for they are mixed with roses. You cannot ask God why. In great afflictions we cannot do other but resign ourselves to the Will of God and to repeat what a certain holy mother foundress said many times: “O Will of God, you are my Paradise.”

Relic of Blessed Maria Francesca Rubatto

August 2, 2017

Always With Me

Today is a big Franciscan feast, that of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula, when, also for all the faithful, according to a certain tradition by the request of St. Francis himself, the Pardon of Assisi or Portiuncula indulgence is available at your local Franciscan church or oratory, or at your parish church, visited to honor Our Lady and the Angels, and according to the normal conditions for the gaining of indulgences, of course.

Today I'm thinking of the little holy card of Our Lady of the Angels, which I've had with me since, as best as I can reconstruct the timing, since the morning of Friday, April 23, 1993.

Saint Mary of the Angels/pray for us


August 1, 2017

Updated Comment Policy

Comments on this blog are moderated. When you leave a comment, I receive a notification and choose whether or not to publish it. I have never had much trouble with having to reject comments and I publish almost all that are submitted. Sometimes when I reject a comment I myself leave a comment in its place to explain my decision.

July 11, 2017

Bring Me The Breviary

Over the last couple weeks a visiting friar has displaced me from my regular place in choir. Not a big deal, though I don't like my little choir-cubby ruffled.

One friar noticed my suffering and said,

'Well, brother, there are many displaced persons in Rome.'

June 11, 2017

Trinity Sunday, First Mass of a New Priest

A friar who was ordained to the priesthood yesterday invited me to be the preacher at his first Mass. Here's the homily I gave.

(Trinity Sunday, A)

When I was a new priest—and had even less good sense and tact than the precious little I have now—I used to say that one of the benefits of becoming a priest was that you didn’t have to listen to any more Trinity Sunday homilies.

You know; they can be brilliant, but sometimes, not so much. It goes something like this: God is three, God is one, it’s a mystery, you can’t really understand it…please stand for the Creed.

And this is unfortunate; this business about ‘you can’t understand’ the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. We cannot have a full comprehension, of course, but this doesn’t mean we can’t have some understanding. In fact, all of us who are Christians can have some understanding of this great mystery, precisely because we have all had an experience of the Blessed Trinity.

To get at what I mean, let’s turn to something we all know well: Christmas. What is Christmas all about? As we read in the gospel of St. Matthew:

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. (1:18)

June 7, 2017

A Prayer For My Dead Confessors

One of the standard activities of a visit to our place in Yonkers is a trip to the friars' cemetery to remember and pray for our dead.


This is the section where the friars have been buried since I joined the Capuchins. When I was a postulant we were on the back row. A few others who have died since then are buried elsewhere.

I prayed a special gratitude for those friars who had been ministers of the mercy of God for me in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That is to say, my confessors.



Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord
And let perpetual light shine upon them.

Requiescant in pace.

May 4, 2017

Blessed Solanus Casey

Today in the daily Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office there has appeared the awaited news that Pope Francis has authorized the publication of the decree to recognize the miracle attributed to the intercession of our own Fr. Solanus Casey.

Of course I'm happy about this as a Capuchin, and as a member of one of the Provinces of the Order that descends from the one that Solanus, then called Bernard, had joined back in 1897. But I'm also grateful in a personal way.

At the beginning of my postulancy with the Capuchins we made a visit to Fr. Solanus's tomb in Detroit. I remember praying for his intercession as I began this new, Capuchin phase of my Franciscan journey.

More recently, I have been happy to be helpful on the peripheries of his cause for beatification. I have translated emails and been a communication go-between for our friars in the USA and the office of the General Postulator here at the Capuchin General Curia in Rome. Though I must confess that I wasn't a great success at this, I did some translating of pathologist's reports from English into Italian with regard to the investigation of the miracle attributed to Fr. Solanus's intercession.

Today I am happy to see that things are official, and the way forward to Fr. Solanus's beatification has been set. And I'm grateful for having had the chance to help in some small way.

Blessed Solanus Casey, pray for us!

April 16, 2017

The Easter Itinerancy

(An old post updated)

Every year on this holy night I reflect on the grace of itinerancy that the Holy Spirit has given me; only twice in my whole baptism have I been in the same place for the Easter Vigil for more than two years in a row. When I think about the places I've been for the Vigil, it puts me in awe of God and in a state of gratitude for my journey.

April 9, 2017

Franciscan Identity Crisis Ramble

I've been thinking about trying to write this post for a long time.

There's a lot of begging in Rome. There are scammers too, but with the scams that I usually get, I guess because I look like a good 'ugly American' mark, I've grown wise and I turn the tables and frustrate the person and try to playfully shame him."What would your mama say? Going around tricking foreigners!"

But it's the begging that troubles me more.

March 10, 2017

Eating in a Hurry

Yesterday there came around in the Office of Readings the instructions for the Passover in Exodus chapter 12.

This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you will eat it in a hurry. It is the LORD’s Passover. (Exodus 12:11)

The Passover is eaten like those in flight,  fleeing from the oppression and slavery of Egypt, reeling with God's plagues, into the long journey that will one day bring God's people into the Promised Land.

February 25, 2017

On Judging Others (and God)

"Such is the lowliness of our condition in this life; for we think others are like ourselves and we judge others according to what we ourselves are, since our judgment arises from within us and not outside us. Thus the thief thinks others also steal; and the lustful think others are lustful too; and the malicious think others also bear malice, their judgment stemming from their own malice; and the good think well of others, for their judgment flows from the goodness of their own thoughts; and to those who are careless and asleep, it seems that others are too.

"Hence it is that when we are careless and asleep in God's presence, it seems to us it is God who is asleep and neglectful of us, as is seen in psalm 43 were David calls to him: Arise, Lord, why do you sleep? Arise (Ps. 44:23). He attributed to God what is characteristic of humans, for since they are the ones who are fallen and asleep, he tells God to arise and awaken; although he who watches over Israel never sleeps (Ps. 121:4)."

(John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, 4,8)

February 13, 2017

The Many Patron Saints of Europe

One of the things you notice living the liturgy here in Europe is that they have a lot of patron saints. Six, in fact. And so their feast days come around with some regularity:
  • Cyril, monk, and Methodius, bishop, February 14
  • Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor, April 29
  • Benedict, abbot, July 11
  • Bridget of Sweden, founder (and mother of a saint, Catherine of Sweden), July 23
  • Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, virgin and martyr (Edith Stein), August 9
Seeing that tomorrow is one of these feast days, I did a little looking around and discovered that all of this heavenly patronage is of fairly recent articulation.

February 3, 2017

Friday Ramble

Recently I was in an email thread with some friars on the 'Lent of Benediction,' one the fasts described in the Rule. It begins after Epiphany. It's called 'of benediction' because it's optional according to the Rule and those who keep it are 'blessed.'

The conversation inspired me to reread, or perhaps read properly for the first time, Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini (1966) on fast and abstinence. This led me also to read, I'm sure for the first time (to my shame) the United States Bishops' Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence, issued later the same year.

I admit that I was surprised and struck by this section in Paenitemini:
The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation throughout the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday ... Their substantial observance binds gravely. (II. 1)
(my emphasis)

January 28, 2017

Dom Chautard on Losing Youth

Recently I read some alarming thing about how people are abandoning the faith younger and younger. I was reminded of one of the times some poor bird got into the church in Yonkers and everyone was discussing how to help it escape. 

"Give it the sacrament of Confirmation," offered one sardonic soul.

January 19, 2017

Macarius the Great

According the Roman Martyrology, today is the feast of Macarius the Great.
A brother came to see Abba Macarius the Egyptian, and said to him, 'Abba, give me a word, that I may be saved.' So the old man said, 'Go to the cemetery and abuse the dead.' The brother went there, abused them and threw stones at them; then he returned and told the old man about it. The latter said to him, 'Didn't they say anything to you?' He replied, 'No.' The old man said, 'Go back tomorrow and praise them.' So the brother went away and praised them, calling them, 'Apostles, saints and righteous men.' He returned to the old man and said to him, ‘ I have complimented them’. And the old man said to him, 'Did they not answer you?' The brother said no. The old man said to him, 'You know how you insulted them and they did not reply, and how you praised them and they did not speak; so you too if you wish to be saved must do the same and become a dead man. Like the dead, take no account of either the scorn of men or their praises, and you can be saved.'
(Sayings of the Desert Fathers)



All Things To All

"I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" said St. Paul. (1 Cor 9:22) And so the saints who followed.

In that spirit, Mother Teresa now available in happy, pensive, disapproving, motherly, frozen in carbonite, and mermaid.

(click to enlarge)