Sunday, June 28, 2020

Forty Years, and Sixty...

It wasn’t forty years ago, but sixty (June 4, 1960) when dressed in a little white shirt and a little white tie, little white pants and even little white shoes that I knelt down at the altar rail at Our Lady of Lourdes as Father Rueger gave me my first Holy Communion. 

That Church is gone now, long since torn down, although you can still see the stone shell where the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes once stood, right next to Mrs Mack’s Bakery (also gone, I’m afraid). And the good priest who gave me my first communion is gone as well, we buried him last year in this very place. And my mom and dad who witnessed it are also gone, having led the way to the plot in which I will someday lie. (How’s that for an aging maudlin Irish sense).

So much is gone, for but one thing lasts. The Lord who on that day took hold of my heart and gave me Holy Communion, just like Martin, who last year received Jesus in that little white host. And like Martin I became an Altar Boy, and Jesus began to share himself with me, to nourish me, to form and strengthen me, to remake me in the image of his own Body and Blood….A Body offered up for love, immolated for love of the littlest and the least and Blood poured out to wash away my selfishness and sin and make me holy, that I might go to heaven and sing with the angels in one grand chorus of joyous praise forever in God’s sight.

It started on that day, June 4, 1960. As it started once again two decades later, on June 28, 1980 when I knelt right over there before the saintly Bishop Flanagan. And God struck my heart again, filling it with boundless zeal and hope and solutions to every problem (I sometimes wish I could still remember a couple of them), utterly certain that the Lord had lit in me a fire which would consume the earth and lead all things to him. 

On that day, God drowned me, immolated me, consumed and transformed me, despite all my weaknesses and fears and foolish ambitions, he implanted in me a share in the Priesthood of Christ Jesus his Son, and empowered me, in his person, to take up the sacrifices of your lives and place them upon that altar, as Christ placed his body upon the Altar of the cross, and join your sacrifices and mine to his, as a perfect offering, a pure victim, a holy and spotless sacrifice.

Forty years ago and yet it seems like yesterday, for Priesthood, like life, is but a series of moments of Kairos, of God reaching into to the mundane passages of time, transforming us, utterly transforming us with his love….It’s a great miracle this priesthood which we share, you in the order of our Baptism and me in a configuration to Christ in the order of the presbyterate.

It’s for me a share in the fullness of the Priesthood which the man in that Cathedra carries for us, this fourth Bishop of my Priesthood who teaches me how to be a Priest and honors me by his presiding today with the renowned prelates in the copes beside him. Bishop McManus has been for me what I always told seminarians a Bishop was supposed to be for a Priest. And I will ever be grateful.

Grateful for the promises I made those forty years ago in this Cathedral Church, six promises which are all about you: promising to preach the Gospel and teach the Catholic Faith to you, celebrate the sacred mysteries for your sanctification, pray for you without ceasing and be united with Christ more closely every day obedient to the Bishop, for your good and the good of all his Holy Church.

But now, as the end of this homily approaches, I fear I have failed. For the last thing I wanted this anniversary to be about about was me.  For it has not been about me, but about this God of ours, and his Only-begotten Son, who has done such great things for me, looked upon me in my littleness and even after forty years and sixty years and sixty seven still fills my heart and strengthens my arms, urging me forward to whatever he has in store. It’s a simple as that.

Our God, who washes and anoints us, feeds and seals us in his love. This God who is so much more than our littleness and so much greater than our weakness, who no demon pandemic, ignorance or hate can quell. This God who is the reason for our being from our first breath to the last, and each breath in between.

He is as close as the beating of your heart, and as far above as the farthest star. He is who was at the beginning and he will be there at our end. But he is always right now and right here, and never closer than when we are afraid, never more loving than when we feel unloved and never more merciful than when we have betrayed him.

Which is I guess what a Priest needs to learn, so he can teach other people about him, by his words when he really needs to and by his life most of the rest of the time.

I am the most blessed of men. For not one morning in forty years have I ever regretted the day I laid on that rug. But with a heart overcome with gratitude for his love for me and for you and the countless ones who came before, and the few who may still be yet to come, I give thanks, and I ask God to bless you every day of your lives.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Easter Monday -


Easter Monday in a time of Pandemic is a strange reality. As someone said the other day, it’s hard to tell what day it is…it feels like sometime between March and August.

These days we feel waves of anxiety, just below the surface…humming softly like a little motor…draining energy from us and putting an occasional slight tremor into our voices.

Oh there are waves of optimism and hope that we will all get through this: that someday it will be all over and we can enjoy the almost unimaginable pleasures of meeting friends for a meal, or driving to the beach or going to a movie or shopping in a mall, sitting in the bleachers or going back to Church…

Yes, going back to Church…Imagine what it will be like…Just imagine of we could only hope…

Like Saint Peter preaching about the Golden Psalm (Psalm 16), as he spoke to the crowd in Jerusalem on Pentecost Sunday. And the first line he cites seems like to could have been written by us. It's that refrain we prayed just a few minutes ago: “Keep me safe, O Lord, for you are my hope.”

Now there’s a lot we can hope in these days, and increasingly so. We can hope in those researchers who are working on a vaccine to inoculate us against COVID-19.  We pray a lot for them. Or we can hope in Dr. Fauci and his team at the CDC who have taught us how to us how to “flatten the curve.” We can hope in Governor Baker, who calmly put into place policies that seem now to be working to mitigate the pandemic in the Commonwealth.  We can also hope in the heroic doctors and nurses and chaplains at Saint V’s and Umass and all across Worcester County.  Lotsa folks to hope in.

But Psalm 16 tells us to hope not in man or science, but in the Lord.  For the Lord is our portion and cup: he holds forth my lot. In other words, even amidst the chaos and uncertainty, it is the Lord who is in control. He knows my every thought and desire, he knows my future and my past, and he knows me better than I will ever know myself.  He knows when this virus will end, and how you and I will handle it.

Which is why we worship the Lord, even at night, even by streaming video and cable, for we know that with him at our right, we can never be disturbed, but will ever be confident that he is in control.

I imagine a lot of people are afraid of dying from the Corona virus.  It’s a realistic fear as just yesterday six more people died of it in Worcester County. One lady was in her 50’s, while the others were in their 80’s and 90’s. Now it’s true that most of us will not even get the virus, especially if we wash our hands and wear masks and keep social distance. 

But all of us know that what the Psalmist says is true: “God will not abandon us. For he is the path to life and the fulness of joy.” 

And so we don’t have to be afraid.


Thursday, April 9, 2020

On the Holy Face of Jesus


One of the hardest things about these days of social isolation is not being able to see those we love face to face. Sure, we can Skype and Face-time, but it’s just not the same thing as being able to see someone face to face. 

In fact, have you ever been in an airport, waiting to pick up an old friend whom you love.  You keep looking and looking, scanning all the faces, waiting to see he familiar eyes and smile and receding hairline of the the person who loves you, whom you have called your friend.

Indeed, if you were to ask me what the holy scriptures are really all about, I would suggest it is just one thing: Looking for the face of God. Indeed, the Hebrew word pānîm, which means “face”, is used over a hundred times in the Old Testament to speak of looking for the face of God. 

Why did they keep looking for God’s face?  Because only a person has a face, a living being, one who is loving and capable of being loved. And the desire to see God’s face is the desire to gaze on him with love, and to be looked upon by one who loves me. God, then, is not an abstraction or a divine mechanic who has withdrawn into the heavens and coldly looks down on us from above. No, God is love, and by dwelling in the light of his face….face-to-face with God, who enter into the deepest loving relationship of our little lives.

God then, listens to us, speaks to us, sees us and makes promises to us.  He loves and he teaches us the meaning of life and of love. The history of our relationship with God, then, is the history of our gazing at his face and his face looking back on us in love.

The Book of Numbers has that wonderful old patriarchal blessing, which we still use as a blessing on New Year’s Day:

“May the Lord Bless you and keep you. 
May the Lord make his face shine on you, 
and be gracious to you. 
May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.

Indeed, it is only by looking into God’s eyes that we can see ourselves for who we are and who were meant to be. As our beloved Pope emeritus once said, “The splendor of the divine face is the source of life, it is what makes it possible to see reality; the light of his face is guidance for life.”

Moses understood that well. Which is why we read in the Book of Exodus that “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11). But even this face to face friendship was but a show of what there was to come.  For in Jesus, we see the face of God made flesh. 

In Jesus, God’s face can be seen. The great English mystic, Caryll Houselander once described what the Blessed Virgin Mary must have felt like when she looked into the face of the child in her arms and saw in it the face of God.

Maybe that’s why artists down through the centuries have worked to hard to depict the face of Jesus, for in that face we see God, “the mediator and the sum total of Revelation” 

AS he said to Philip, ‘whoever sees him, sees the Father’ Indeed, “in him we see and encounter the Father; in him we can call upon God with the name of “Abba, Father”; in him we are given salvation.”

But there is something more to seeing God’s face in the face of Jesus, for he tells us that he is also present in the poor, the weak and the suffering.

Caryll Houselander, once again, once wrote: “I see the face of God in everyone I pass. Sometimes it’s hard but I try.”  She once described sitting on a train and looking at everyone around her. Then, all of a sudden it occurred to her:

“Quite suddenly I saw with my mind, but vividly as a wonderful picture, Christ in them all. But I saw more than that; not only was Christ in every one of them, living in them dying in them, rejoicing in them, sorrowing in them — but because He was in them, and because they were here, the whole world was here too…all those people who had lived in the past and all those yet to come.”

So, the face of Christ is not just a two dimensional icon to be gazed upon up near the altar, bur the face of the tired cashier, in which see the suffering Christ, tired and worn out from all the sufferings he endured.  It is the face of the garbage collector, tired and hot and thirsty on the Cross. It is the face of the homeless man, Christ in the desert with nothing to eat or drink and nowhere to lay His head.

That's why, on this Good Friday, we meditate on the face of the suffering Christ.

It is the face once transfigured in glory, 
and now crowned with a web of thorns.

It is the face weeping before the tomb of his friend Lazarus,
the face which wept over Jerusalem,
and covered with the sweat of blood on the Mount of Olives.

It is the face covered with a veil of shame 
and profaned by the soldiers,
now bowed upon the Cross for our salvation.

It is the face washed and anointed by the holy women
and resplendent with glory on the day of the Resurrection.

It is the face of Jesus, hidden in the Eucharist
and worthy of all devotion.

It is the face which we will see on the day:
the face of the merciful and just judge,
terror of sinners and hope of the just.

It is the face for whom we long,
in whom we hope,
the face of love,

who will come to save us.

Your priest is praying for you....

This way my homily for the Office of Readings this Holy Thursday.

When we are weak, we need him the most.

And in the face of widespread sickness and death, we need him most of all.

We need him because he understands. For as Saint Paul tells us, our great high priest, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, “was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned.”

Tempted to fear sickness and death. Tempted to anxiety and despair. Tempted to wonder whether God would really keep his promises.

He knew the fears that assail the heart of the old man who has just been found COVID positive, wondering whether he will have to go to the Hospital or to ICU or be put on ventillator. He knew the fears of that old man’s wife, who in her desperation wonders whether everyone she loves is going to get sick and be taken away from her.

He knew the fears of the mother whose children are more dear to her than life itself, and who just lost her job waitressing at the same time her husband was laid off from the factory.

He knows all our fears, this great High Priest, and he lifted them up upon the Altar of the Cross, upon which he offered them in a great sacrifice of praise to his heavenly Father.  A sacrifice which destroyed death and opened for us the gates to a that heavenly realm where there will be no sickness or crying out or pain and where even death itself will never reign again.

So he understands our weakness, when like Saint Peter we turn away three times, doubt that he is really there and stand trembling in the dark. That is why, as Saint Paul has taught us, we can confidently approach him to receive mercy and favor and to find help in time of need.” 

And so too with those of us ordained as his priest, he deals patiently, for he knows that we too are beset by weakness. We too are afraid. And we too doubt. But in every parish Church, some streamed and some standing all alone at the altar, your parish priest is praying for you and joining the sacrifices of your lives to the perfect Sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross.

In every parish Church, your priests are praying for you, these modern day Melchizedeks, joining our sufferings to the Passion of Christ. And as he does, rest assured, he sees your face in his mind’s eye along with the familiar faces of all those whom you love. He prays for you, this son of Aaron at the Altar, even when you can’t be there. And in his praying you are joined with the countless multitudes from every Church throughout the world who find their hope in the great Sacrament which is the source and the summit of our lives.


And they can offer this perfect sacrifice for you and your families because they have been chosen by Christ to act in his person on your behalf. For Christ has taught priests how to pray to his heavenly father by the way he did it. He who prayed to his Heavenly Father upon the Altar of the Cross, crying aloud from the altar of the cross.

For this day, the Thursday we call Holy, is the day of that last Passover, when Christ obediently gave himself up to suffering for our salvation.  And as blessed Melito reminds us, he “took the pain of fallen man upon himself, triumphed over the diseases of soul and body that were its cause, and by his Spirit…dealt…death, a fatal blow.”

This is that blessed feast, when Christ was “led forth like a lamb” to the slaughter and “sealed our souls…with his own blood.”

And all the suffering of the world, was but a foreshadowing of his. For when Abel was slain, or Isaac bound, Jacob exiled, Joseph sold into slavery or Moses exposed to die, it was but a vague shadow of what was to come on Calvary hill.

So when you tremble in the face of COVID-19, or wonder how the world can go on in the face of such suffering, remember this Holy Thursday, and the Passover lamb, “dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night.… the One who rose from the dead, and who raised mankind from the depths of the tomb.”



Sunday, April 5, 2020

My Recent Columns

Over these past three extraordinary weeks, I have been posting columns on how we face the present trials. The first is on the importance of speaking only the truth in these difficult days.  The second is On Being Sick. Last weeks is entitled "It's Alright to be Scared and the one for Good Friday is on Prayer in a time of pandemic. In case you haven't read them in the Catholic Free Press, here they are. 

I

CHICKEN LITTLE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TRUTH

Visiting the edges of the internet these days, you would think it was the end of the world. One wild story says that COVID-19 is a biological weapon which either accidentally or on purpose escaped a nefarious government laboratory in either China or Washington State or Venice, depending on which Tweet you read.

Such posts remind me of Chicken Little,” whom I first heard of when I was three years old. You remember her: the little chicken who was picking up corn in the barnyard when all of a sudden an acorn hit her on the head. Goodness gracious” she exclaimed! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

The story of this terrified little chicken, the patron saint of conspiracy theorists, goes all the way back to a Dutch collection of childrens fables in 1823. It made its way to Boston thirty years later with the publication of The Remarkable Story of Chicken Little and was promoted by none other than Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of Mary Had a Little Lamb” and the first promoter of the idea of Thanksgiving, but thats a story for another day.

The story of chicken little took off all on its own and is told to children in almost every language and culture, largely because the idea of conspiracy theories and hysteria exist in every culture and language and land.

Every once in a while you hear conspiracy theories about nearly everything, and no less so in these days epidemic with fear. 

There are conspiracy theories that allege that Jesus was married with children, that the Bible is a ruse to cover up the existence of aliens…that the Pope, the Queen and Harry Styles re all shape shifting Reptilians from another dimension. And thats not even to mention Black helicopters, New Coke, Freemasonry, the illuminati and the New World Order. 

As the movie Contagion made so clear a decade ago, it is often the epidemic of conspiracy theories and the fear they spread which are even harder to contain than the virus itself. And the lies are often the more deadly, for they threaten not just the body, but the soul as well.

Perhaps thats why, from the time of Moses, the ninth commandment forbid false witness again my neighbor: thou shalt not lie.

But we have a witness even greater than Moses here, for in Jesus we have the perfect antidote to chicken little. For Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The truth that, as Saint John tells us, will set us free. And in an age of pandemic conspiracy theories the truth is more important than ever before.

For, without the truth we are lost in the dark. With the truth and nothing but the truth (so help me God) we can discern the clear path that leads to God, the way of prudence, of wisdom and of love.

Otherwise, whether its the origin or transmission or treatment of the latest virus or the meaning and purpose of life, without the truth we are little better little children, or hysterical little chickens running in circles and clucking at the top of our lungs…the sky is falling!  the sky is falling!


Not a bad lesson to remember in these sometimes troublesome days.

II

ON BEING SICK

Everyone has been spending a lot of time thinking about getting sick these days; and while the vast majority of us will, by the grace of God, be just fine, some will get sick in this pandemic.  So sickness is not a bad thing to reflect on during these days of Lenten pandemic.

A couple of years ago I was privileged to go to Lourdes with the Knights of Malta, where I learned the answer to a very important question, one which has been on my mind a lot lately. What does it mean to be sick? I met an orthopedic surgeon there, a newly minted Knight. A wildly successful and prosperous surgeon, he seemed to have life on a string and all was good until they noticed a spot on his brain scan. A few weeks later headaches began waking him at night. Very quickly he went from being the doctor with the highest success rate in complex hip replacements to an old man so weak that he could not stand without the assistance of his wife. He quickly found out what it meant to be sick. It meant he was no longer driving the bus and someone else was in charge. 

“You know”, he told me one night as we went for a walk, “Even better than eventually getting rid of the brain tumor and returning to health, getting sick like that was the greatest gift of my life. Because the real sickness I had was thinking that I was in control and that the purpose of my life was to be successful, respected and rich. I was very successful and I had a whole wall full of awards along with three houses, four cars and a big boat. The real sickness though was not the one that started with the headaches. The real sickness was the one that tempted me to forget to pray to God and to rely instead on my own resources, seeking my own pleasure and patting myself on the back for all my wonderful successes. I had forgotten what I learned from the Catechism as a child. That God made me was to know him and love him and serve him in this world, in order that I might be happy with him in the next. It took cancer, that blessing of cancer, to bring me back to what really matters. One night,” he told me, “when I was convinced the cancer was going to kill me, I went to bed and for the first time in my life, I asked myself the question: What’s this all about? My life, career, religion, marriage and kids? The truth is that it’s all about Christ on his cross and about picking up my crosses and trying to love like him: a self-sacrificing, self-emptying love. The truth is that this life is not about what we take, but what we give and that all suffering, all sacrifice and even sickness itself is but an opportunity to love and to join our sufferings to his perfect sacrifice and in so doing, to learn how to love.”

Two weeks ago I had the flu. Not a bad way to start Lent, helpless, hacking and out of control. At first I loudly lamented to the heavens that I did not deserve this! I groaned about how unfair God was being and how he had failed to realize how much important work I had to do. But then I looked up at the cross on the opposite wall and the Christ nailed up there to suffer unto death for love of me. I felt more than a bit ashamed and I began instead to thank him for the gift of the flu, of being reminded that suffering, all sacrifice and even sickness itself is but an opportunity to love and to join our little sufferings to his perfect sacrifice and in so doing, to learn how to love.

We all have moments like that, and I suspect they make Jesus smile. He understands how we tremble when we hear words like pandemic, mortality rate and “it’s all but certain.” But even in the face of COVID-19 , which will probably get worse for a time, even in the face of fear and suffering and death, we Christians are a funny lot. For we have something better than all the vaccines and hand sanitizers in the world: we have the Cross, in which death becomes life and suffering is changed to hope by him who offered the perfect sacrifice of praise for our redemption. Sickness is more than just a personal tragedy. It is an opportunity to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbor, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a civilization of love.

III

IT’S OK TO BE SCARED

It’s scary these days. And that’s OK to admit. Each of us are scared that we may not have washed our hands enough today, scared we may have rubbed our eyes one too many times and scared of that person who coughed...was he closer than six feet away? We’re also scared for others, too. Scared of watching them get sick and scared of watching some people die.

But it’s OK to be scared. It happens to us a lot in life, like when I was in fifth grade and President Kennedy was shot. Mrs. Katomski, my home room teacher cried when she heard Mr. O’Leary announce the President’s death over the loudspeaker. My home room teacher cried when I was in fifth grade: now that’s scary!
Or on that September morning when I looked out the window from my office at the Bishop’s Conference in DC and watched the plane that went into the Pentagon and then saw the twin towers fall on the little TV in my office a few minutes later. That was scary!

Or on that afternoon, not too many years ago, when seminarians returned from the Boston Marathon to report how close they had been to the bombs which went off. I was scared.

Another time I was scared was when I was pastor in Spencer and a number of teenagers committed suicide, one right after the other. First one, then two, then three kids took their own lives, most frequently with a shotgun.

And what could I, as the Pastor of Spencer, offer to their paralyzing fear? Certainly not lies like, “It will be alright,” because it probably wouldn’t be. Not, “Don’t worry, God will protect you,” because it was true that their child could be the next victim. So what can a pastor say in the face of terror and fear?

He can tell the truth. The truth that there is a real and present danger, but it is not all present. The truth that if we carefully follow the best medical advice, we will probably not get sick, and at least we won’t make the pandemic worse. Probably, but not certainly.
For the truth is that none of us are immune from the terrors of life: from violence, or from cancer, or from accidental death or even from COVID-19. But the point of life is not staying alive and happy and healthy. The point of life is to do the will of God, and sometimes that involves picking up the Cross: the Cross which gives
meaning even to senseless and random viruses. God writes straight with crooked lines. Even from darkness and pain and senseless suffering he can bring forth his light, and his truth, and true hope.

For Christ walks into the dark upper rooms of our lives and says “Be not afraid.” Not because there is no such thing as suffering and death (he shows us his wounds, after all, and invites us to touch them). He tells us not to be afraid because he is ever present and in our suffering we are drawn closer to his Cross, the Cross by which he has defeated Death and Darkness and Sin. We have nothing to fear, ever again, as he whispers in our hearts: “Peace be with you!”
So what does the Pastor have to offer on dark days like these? The same thing he offers each day...the same one he offers each day...Christ, and his cross and life in Him.

IV

A TIME TO PRAY

Health Care workers labor day and night to save the sick. Public Health officials agonize over the best public policy to stem the spread of the virus. Citizens stay at home, wash their hands frequently and observe the requisite social distancing. Essential services try to keep themselves safe while keeping the wheels of our society turning.

Everyone is doing their part, and so should we.

We who believe that it was through Christ that all Creation came into being. We who, especially during this week we call holy profess and celebrate the life-giving Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. We who believe him when he said “ask, and you shall receive.”

So we should do our part and ask. We should pray. In the morning when we rise, in the middle of the day and at the end, just before we fall asleep we should be praying. We should look up at that crucifix on the wall (and if there’s no crucifix, print one out and tape it up there!) and place all our anxieties and fears in his hands, joining our sufferings to his perfect sacrifice.

Bishop McManus has been praying for us since this all started a few weeks ago. Two weeks ago he blessed us from the steps of six of our Churches throughout the Diocese and last Monday he blessed our hospitals. This is what he prayed:

Heavenly Father, source of all blessings and life, hear our prayers for those who rest in this house of healing. Bless the doctors and nurses and therapists. Bless those who seek to bring relief and healing to the sick. Grant them peace and reward them for their goodness. Bring peace to the hearts of those who are afraid, heal the bodies of those who are sick and give us the strength to live through the present moment until you call us back to praise your name in the heart of the Church, that we might praise the glory of your name, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

We should join our chief shepherd in this prayer for those who work and are treated in our hospitals, the center stage of this epidemic, just as we should pray the Prayer in Time of Pandemic which the whole Diocese has been praying for the past month.

O God, whose Only Begotten Son bore the weight of human suffering for our salvation, hear the prayers of your Church for our sick brothers and sisters and deliver us from this time of trial. Open our ears and our hearts to the voice of your Son: Be not afraid, for I am with you always. Bless all doctors and nurses, researchers and public servants; give us the wisdom to do what is right and the faith to endure this hour, that we might gather once again to praise your name in the heart of your Church, delivered from all distress and confident in your mercy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

You are probably reading this column on Good Friday, a day uniquely suited to reflect on our anxious state. It is a day of emptiness and fear, as the disciples take refuge in the upper room, locking the doors lest death come knocking. I can just imagine the prayers they must have prayed to the crucified one who promised he would return.

They probably prayed Psalm 69: “I am wearied with crying aloud; my throat is parched.

My eyes are wasted away with waiting for my God…In your great mercy, answer me, O God, with your salvation that never fails.” (verses 4, 14) And then, we are told, despite their fears, despite the big heavy locked door, the Lord appeared in their midst and said four simple words: “Peace be with you.”

It’s Good Friday today. It will be Easter on Sunday. Let’s pray with the hope of those who know that Easter is only a short time away.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Bishop McManus Blesses Diocese and Seeks Mary's Intercession

  • On the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bishop McManus asked the intercession of the Mother of God in this time of pandemic and consecrated the Diocese to her maternal aid. Joining with priests throughout the Diocese, the Bishop prayed the following prayer on the steps of Saint Paul Cathedral in Worcester, Saint Cecilia Church in Leominster, Holy Rosary Church in Gardner, Saint John’s Church in Clinton, Saint Luke’s Church in Westborough and Saint Joseph Basilica in Webster.
    O Mary, conceived without sin,
    look upon your children
    in our beloved Diocese:
    intercede for us with your Son
    that he who willed to take flesh in your immaculate womb
    might banish from our midst all sickness and disease;
    and calm the trembling of our hearts.
    We consecrate our Diocese to your protection,
    O Mother of God,
    that the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit.
    might still the waters of chaos and death
    and save us from this present hour. Amen.
    Bishop McManus then blessed the Diocese, by sprinkling three times in three directions.  He then lead the gathered priests in the Hail Mary and the Our Father and gave them his blessing. In his letter to the priests explaining this consecration, Bishop McManus wrote “In these days we are all praying fervently that God deliver us from danger and watch over us in our need. From the earliest days of the Church, we have trusted in the maternal assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of all who are in distress, especially the sick and those in danger of death.
    “This Wednesday, March 25th, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the Church provides us with a special opportunity to call upon the help of the Mother of God.  I have planned, therefore, to travel to six locations throughout the Diocese and consecrate our beloved Diocese to Mary’s protection in this time of pandemic.



We Miss You!!!

  

It wasn’t forty years ago, but sixty (June 4, 1960) when dressed in a little white shirt and a little white tie, little white pants and e...