Lent and Prayer, Fasting, and Alms Giving

Happy Lent to all! In the past I wrote a bit about the why of Lent with a focus on why we do penance. You can read that post here. This year I would like to look at Prayer, Fasting, and Alms Giving. Every year we here and discuss how this liturgical season is a time specially dedicated to these tasks. But how do we understand them, and why do we place a special focus on them this time of the year? The simple answer to why we focus on them now is to prepare to enter more fully into the paschal mysteries during the Triduum 1 , and ultimately participate more fully in Easter. This doesn’t quite answer why these three, or how these three practices do that.

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Close of a Decade

What a past few months, what a year, and what a decade. Before we get a head of ourselves, I just wanted to fill everyone in with what I have been up to since I last reported in at the beginning of the semester in October. To make a short story shorter: School. November and December are the core of the fall semester and so I have been busily working away at my studies. Through, currently I am on Christmas break.

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Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas to everyone! This year I am spending Christmas in Prague. This Advent, I spent some time reflecting on why we celebrate Christmas with such fanfare compared to other major feast of our Lord. For example: the baptism in the Jordan, or the Ascension, or even Pentecost. We do certainly have solemn celebrations for these other feast days, but not like how we do for Christmas.

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Filial Fear vs Servile Fear

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    prudent are all who practice it.
    His praise endures forever.
Ps 111:10

A spirit of counsel and of strength,
    a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord,
    and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.
Is 11:2-3

What does it mean to fear the Lord? Aren’t we supposed to love God, and doesn’t he love us? How can we fear he whom we love and who loves us? In moral theology we make a classic distinction between two kinds of fear: servile fear and filial fear. But first, we need to look at how we react to fear.

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Fall Update from Rome

Around six weeks ago I returned to Rome, and what a varied month and a half it has been. My first week back in Rome was filled with conferences; two days about leadership and three days of homily workshops. This year our homily workshops focus on the ritual Masses and higher solemnities. For example: funerals, first communions, Christmas, and Easter. Our second week I was on silent retreat for six days. Following the retreat, I had a week of classes on pastoral counseling.

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Interactive Map of the Parishes in the Diocese of Metuchen

Last March I posted about a poster of my diocese that made. This month I took the data that I collected to make that poster, and made an interactive map.

The map will live permanently at it’s own page linked here. You can currently find all the parishes of the diocese. If you click on the different markers you will see the names parish at a particular location. The one catch is that with merged parishes, the different worship sites aren’t indicated. Over the next couple of months I hope to better indicate the different worship sites for the merged parishes also. If you spot any inaccuracies let me know and so I can correct them.

Back to Rome

Today, marks my last day in the States for the summer. This evening I am flying back to Rome to continue my studies and formation for the Priesthood. This academic year will be a big year for me. At the end of the school year I will finish my STB (Sacred Theology Baccalaureate) at the Gregorian University. Next year, I will begin my STL (Sacred Theology Licence) in Sacred Liturgy at the University of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce). The STL is a two year program. This means I will be studying in Rome for a total of three more years. My last year in Rome will (God willing) be my first year of priesthood. A licence in Liturgy means that I will specialize in the liturgical rites of the Catholic Church (beyond what a normal priest is trained in).

Beyond being a big year for academic progression, I will be (God willing) ordained to the Diaconate at the end of the school year in the diocese. So this is an important year of prayer and discernment to make sure that I am prepared to advance towards Holy Orders. I ask for prayers for my classmates and I this year, for our perseverance and growing in understanding God’s will in our lives. Pray also for the diocese and our bishop.

End of Summer Parish Assignment

This weekend I finished my eight weeks assignment at Sts. Philip and James in Phillipsburg, NJ. I had a great summer living and working with the people of the parish. It was truly refreshing to be back in the parish and with the people of God after being away for so long. I have learned so many things being here.

I need to thank my pastoral, Fr. John Barbella for his guidance and witness during this summer and to Fr. Leo Salvania even though we only over lapped at the parish for a short period of time. Also, a thanks to all the many priests of the diocese that visited the parish throughout the summer. It was a pleasure to get to know you all better. A thanks to the deacons of the parish for your guidance this summer. A very special thanks to the ladies that help at the parish; Sandy, Cindy, and Nancy. Between entertaining my “help” at the office, taking care of us at the rectory, and everything in else you do for Fr. John and I, and the parish I am deeply grateful. And finally, to the parishioners, I thank you for your love and accepting me into your community. I thank you for your stories and our conversations.

Know of my prayers as I return to Rome. Please pray for me and my classmates that we might all become the holy priests that the Church needs and deserves.

He Will Come Again in Glory to Judge the Living and the Dead

He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

When we think about the return of Christ what do we imagine? Probably striking scenes of battles and strife. Maybe fire raining down from the sky while angels and demons engage in combat. In short we probably imagine the apocalypse. And there is good reason to have such images, the Revelation of John is vivid in end times imagery.

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