Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Novena to St. Peter - Prayer in Thanksgiving and Petition for the Pope

A good priest brother sent this my way. It is a novena (a prayer said for nine days) whose intention you will find immediately below. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends, delightfully, on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter-- the feast day in which we celebrate the Lord granting, raising up, and guaranteeing great powers of teaching, governance, and sanctification to His Steward, Peter, the first Pope, and his successors.

Novena to St. Peter, Apostle
In thanksgiving to God for the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI,
for the Sacred College of Cardinals who will name his successor, and for the Church.

Beginning on 13 February ending on 21 February,
the vigil of the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Apostle.

+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O Holy Apostle, because you are the Rock upon which Almighty God has built His church; obtain for me I pray you, lively faith, firm hope and burning love; complete detachment from myself, contempt of the world, patience in adversity, humility in prosperity, recollection in prayer, purity of heart, a right intention in all my works, diligence in fulfilling the duties of my state of life, constancy in my resolutions, resignation to the will of God and perseverance in the grace of God even unto death; that so, by means of your intercession and your glorious merits, I may be worthy to appear before the chief and eternal Shepherd of souls, Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever. Amen.

Litany of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles
NOTE: This litany is approved for private devotion and prayer.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Queen conceived without Original Sin, pray for us.
Queen of Apostles, pray for us.
Saint Peter, pray for us.
Prince of the Apostles, pray for us.
St. Peter, to whom were given the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, pray for us.
St. Peter, so ardent for the glory of Christ, pray for us.
St. Peter, whose heart was pierced with one look from Jesus, pray for us.
St. Peter, who ceased not to grieve for having denied the Son of God,
pray for us.
St. Peter, whose cheeks were furrowed by a stream of tears which flowed to the end of thy life, pray for us.
St. Peter; who cried out, “Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee,” pray for us.
St. Peter, bound in chains for Christ, pray for us.
St. Peter, delivered from prison by an Angel, pray for us.
St. Peter, who rejoiced to suffer for Christ, pray for us.
St. Peter, whose very shadow healed the sick, pray for us.
St. Peter, whose voice even the dead obeyed, pray for us.
St. Peter, that we may have a constant and mutual charity among ourselves, pray for us.
That we may taste and see more and more how sweet is the Lord, pray for us.
That we may be zealous in loyalty to thy successor, the present Vicar of Christ, pray for us.
That we may help, at least by prayer, to restore to the unity of thy Holy See the scattered sheep, pray for us.
That we may be prudent and watchful in prayer, pray for us.
That we may die the death of the just, pray for us.

V. Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him,
R. And His wonderful works to the children of men.
V. Pray for us, Saint Peter the Rock,
R. That we may be worthy of the Vicar of Christ.

Let Us Pray: O Lord Jesus Christ, Who upon blessed Peter, Thine Apostle, didst bestow the pontifical power of binding and loosing, and didst give to him the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, grant that his intercession may ensure our deliverance from the bondage of sin, Thou Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Appended Novena Prayers for the Holy Father:

Each day of this Novena pray: 1 Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, & 1 Glory Be.

V:   Let us pray for our Pope Benedict.
R:   May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed
upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.
V.   Thou art Peter,
R.   And upon this Rock, I will build My Church.

Let us Pray: Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon your servant, Benedict, our Sovereign Pontiff, and guide him in your goodness on the way of eternal salvation; so that, with the prompting of your grace,  he may desire what pleases you and accomplish it with all his strength. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

V. Mother of the Church,            R. Pray for us.
V. St. Peter,                               R. Pray for us.

+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Casting into the Deep for a Good Lent - Homily for 5th Sunday in OT

            You have three days. Three days until Lent.
I’ve been asking some of the kids at school what they are “giving up” for Lent and I’m hearing things like, “I’m giving up chocolate” or “I’m giving up soda.” Admittedly, when I think of Lent, I think of my favorite Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote cartoon where Wiley finds himself suspended in mid-air between two giant cliffs, holding a sign with one word on it: “Yipe!”
Some love this upcoming season. But I will admit: I’m not a big fan. I don’t like to admit that I’ve grown too attached to things or that I’ve let the garden of my life become overgrown with weeds and the vines. But if I’ve had a good Lent—a Lent where I’ve really worked in the garden and been honest with God and myself—I find that I’m a more joyful, peaceful, and holier person at the end. The best Easters that I’ve ever had are those that have come after a grueling Lent. A Lent on the Cross.
            Today, our Gospel exhorts us to cast out into the deep. Not the shallow, but the deep. What does this mean for our Lenten observance? It means go big or go home. Giving up chocolates and soda is fine—for 3rd graders. Cast out into the deep. Love is not found in the shallow.

            As a priest, I hear many ideas about what people do. Let me share a few. They fall under three categories.

            The first is fasting.
On one level, we are obliged to fast twice during Lent. Everyone 18-59 must fast this Wednesday—Ash Wednesday—and on Good Friday. That means one regular meal, two small, and only liquids in between. That is required for everyone 18-59. We are also obliged to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. Why fish, then? Having followed Jesus’ command to “Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and come, follow me,” the Church was poor and so they ate the food of the poor: fish: fish which could be caught in any lake, river, or sea. This, then reminds us to live simply. And it is done on Friday to remind us of the day of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.
That is what is required of us. Now, to make our Lent fruitful: we need to double-down on our rooting out of some of the evil in our lives and some things to which we are attached. I’m going to give you a list.
Choose one:
Fast from the bar, fast from gossip, fast from anger. Fast from cursing or lying or judging or comparing yourself with others or from tearing yourself down. Fast from being picky. Fast from being negative or sarcastic or immodest. Fast from insults. Let your fast be awesome: so… fast from hitting the snooze button. Fast from facebook, from twitter, from texting, youtube, television, and staying up late. Give yourself a bedtime. Fast from junk food, from fast food, and salting your food. Have dinner with your family. Fast from video games or from the ipod or the i-whatever and from secular music and from the radio when you drive. Listen to some sacred music. Listen to God in the silence. Fast from complaining. Fast from having your way. Fast from checking your phone when you are with people. Fast from make-up. Or from a hot shower. And if you can’t live without it, maybe this is the year that you live without it.
            Cast out into the deep. Not the shallow.
            So take a moment right now, cast your net into this list, and pick one.
            …. I’m serious. Pick one. Make a commitment.
            The second category is prayer.
As we give up something, something good and holy must replace it. If we give up television or facebook, we must replace it with something good, else we will replace it with youtube.
So, here are some good things to fill you:
            Attend Holy Mass during the week in addition to Sunday. We will have Holy Mass on Tuesday nights and Wednesdays at noon all throughout Lent. Read a chapter of the Gospels each day. Pick up a book on a saint and read it. Go to the Adoration chapel before you go home each day. Join Monsignor and me every morning at 7:30 for morning prayer. Go to the Stations of the Cross—every Friday at 2:30pm or 7pm. Get up early and pray each morning. When you go to bed, make a list of 5 things for which you are thankful. Sing. Sing at Mass—even if you think you stink at it. Even if you know you stink at it, sing. Open the green hymnal and sing. Sing some more. Follow along with the Eucharistic prayers at Mass. Attend the adult formation nights Monsignor and I will be doing. Go to confession—go more than once. Pray the rosary every day. Go to the cathedral or the botanical gardens or the art museum or the symphony and see or hear something beautiful. Stay longer after Holy Mass. Exercise. Pray with your spouse before bed. Hug your kids. Read them a bible story when you tuck them in. Read your 24-year-old a bible story before you tuck him in.
            Cast out into the deep!—not the shallow.
            Take a moment right now and pick one. Cast into the deep.

            Third category: Almsgiving.
This isn’t just giving money to the poor. This is figuring out how you need to love the people around you and then to do it. If you are fasting from TV, spend that time with family. If you are fasting from shopping or from eating out, give that money to a good charity. If you are fasting from being-and-looking busy, then slow down and maybe make a real dinner for the family. Maybe you need to call your mom. Other ideas: Write a love-letter to your spouse. Write your grandma a letter. Take someone out to lunch each week—a neighbor you kind of ignore, a lonely co-worker, one of your children. Volunteer. Tithe. And if you already tithe, step up your tithing from 10%-15%. Do the dishes when it’s not your turn. Hold doors open for someone every day. Buy your wife flowers each week. Try to have another child. Write kind notes and hand them to random strangers you see. Compliment your spouse each morning. Compliment a stranger. Tell someone about Jesus.
            Cast out into the deep!

            Take a moment and cast your nets into the deep.

            I’ve given you over 50 ideas. Now: a few tips to help you be successful:

            1) If you fall, get back on that horse, cowboy. Lent can be easy and exciting at first. But Lent is Lent when you’ve been carrying the cross for 20 days. No pain, no gain.
            2) Don’t do a penance that will be a penance for others. If you know you will snap at those you love if you don’t have your coffee because you’re fasting from coffee, then maybe you shouldn’t be fasting from coffee this year.
            3) Don’t wait until the last minute to “do Lent.” Start now, start strong, be strong, finish strong. Easter will then be awesome strong.
            4) Remember: You’re not doing this alone and you don’t have to go it alone. If you want to go to daily Mass but know you’ll need someone to help you, invite someone along. Invite, invite, invite.

            Ok, so that’s the end of my homily. There is one more part, but it is more of an announcement… 

During this Lent we will all have an opportunity to grow because there will be a few new additions to Mass beginning in Lent.

            First: there will be a different wine starting in Lent. It will be white instead of red. The reason for this is twofold: one, white is much, much easier to clean from our cloth purificators than the red. Two, this wine is easier on the stomach—which helps us priests since we are consuming it every day.
Second: in the past, holy Mass during Lent would start in silence. We all know of the noble simplicity that the season of Lent demands for the Mass. This year, we will continue the noble simplicity of Mass during Lent, being sure to follow what the Church asks us to do in that regard. Therefore, Holy Mass will begin with the text that is specific to each Mass. This text—known as the entrance antiphon or introit—will be sung by all in lieu of mere silence. The music for the rest of Mass will remain as it is every Lent: simple and supportive of the Lenten observance, inviting us into silence so that we might hear God.
Third: you will notice that a couple of the Mass parts will be sung in Latin. Why? First, because this is the universal language of the Church. We don’t just belong to the family which is St. Joseph Imperial, we belong to the family which is the Catholic Church. Catholic meaning universal. And our family’s universal language is Latin. And you’ll know what we are saying, because you have been saying the English all your life.
            A second reason: the difference in praying in this language alerts us to a reality which is greater than ourselves and our every-day language. Latin elevates the mind, forcing it to fast from the very American notion that we have to know and see everything. No, some things are mysterious, out-of-the-ordinary, beyond perception and comprehension—especially the Holy Mass. Lent is the perfect season to re-introduce ourselves to this sacred reality. This is not a return to the past, but a bringing forth of what the Second Vatican Council wanted.
            I will be talking more about that on my Wednesday lecture on February 20th when I discuss the liturgy and the Second Vatican Council. I hope you can attend.

            Cast out into the deep this Lent. Be with Jesus as He is on the Cross. Love is found there—not in the shallow. In the deep. You have three days!

* Many of these ideas were taken from here 

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Holy Mass is God's Senior Project - A Homily for SLUH Seniors

This homily was given to Seniors at St. Louis University High School (my alma mater) on the occasion of their return from Senior Project. Senior Project is a month-long "practicum" where the men work at various non-profits and places of service where they assist with the poor, the young, and those in need of help.

            His beard had pieces of food in it. He was a poor man and his beard was long like a monk’s, salt-and-pepper and wiry. He was standing right in front of me and I couldn’t help but notice the food in his beard. It reminded me of grandfather’s miniature schnauzer after months of eating without a bath. But this man was not a dog; he was a man. And he was full of glory—glory hidden behind an appearance that I found startling and offensive to my nature.
            I was feeding the poor in New Orleans at a church kitty-corner to the Superdome. This was before Hurricane Katrina had hit. I was helping with Habitat for Humanity and working at a food pantry there during the early summer. It was a kind of “Senior Project” for me. But unlike the Senior Project here at SLUH, this one was not mandated; I had freely chosen to serve. But in full disclosure, I didn’t really choose service per se. I chose to go because it was New Orleans and friends and getting away from St. Louis. It was going to be fun.
            Four years prior, I had done Senior Project at SLUH and I had chosen a fun project to do: I was part of the jazz band that would travel to various schools and nursing homes and play. And it was fun. But I missed out: I never became vulnerable to anyone. And because I never became vulnerable, I never was hurt and my heart was never stretched. Ultimately, I never grew in love. This wasn’t SLUH’s fault. It was my own.
So, you see, when I encountered this man and his beard, I was startled. I was vulnerable.

… And he was white.
 Ordinarily, this wouldn’t matter. But it did. I hadn’t been pushed face-to-face with a poor
white man before. I grew up in Sunset Hills. You don’t see many poor white men there. I was being stretched.
            Again I looked at the man, and this time I saw someone. People ask: “Did you see Jesus? Did you see God?” No…. I saw myself.  In the man’s exterior appearances—his poverty, his need for food and for a shower—I saw myself. I saw the state of my soul.
            This startled me. How could I be poor? I have a Washington University education! I graduated from SLUH! I have a good job at a pharmacy and I have good friends and good family. I have everything I want. … I’m the one who showered this morning…
            When I returned home, I came here and talked with a Jesuit priest about it (it was Father Knapp who is teaching now at the seminary). He asked me: how’s your relationship with Jesus?
… I was four years removed from SLUH…  I had lost so much of my faith. I had forgotten about Kairos. I had forgotten what I learned in so many theology classes. I had started to doubt the God who I had received at so many Masses like this one. And I had stopped praying. I was spiritually poor and my soul needed a good shower and a bite to eat. I needed divine love.
            That day, I learned that it was far worse to be spiritually poor than to be materially poor. That man with the beard… we can probably bet that he prayed. He probably prayed each night for protection against those who might beat him up. And because he didn’t know where his next meal might come from, he probably prayed for that too. He was materially poor, but richer than me. And that’s what matters—especially since, when you die, you can’t take your stuff with you.
Love, or its lack—that is all you take.
            I think back on that moment in gratitude. And after years of doing so, I have noticed something more: I didn’t simply feed another man that day. It was Jesus who fed me. I was dressed as the rich; He was dressed as the poor. I thought I was serving; but in reality, I was the one being served.
            It seems to always happen that way, too. I have had the opportunity to serve the poor throughout Mexico and Mississippi and Alabama and even with the Missionaries of Charity—not in India, but here in North St. Louis—and each time I return home from a day of service, I can’t help but have that strange sense of gratitude in the heart that I have received more than I have given. To think: Jesus is feeding the poor through me and, in allowing Him to do so, He feeds me as well. In allowing myself to become vulnerable in service, Love Himself responds with greater vulnerability and pours forth into my open heart divine Love.
            Can we not speak of the Holy Mass in such ways? Is not the Holy Mass God’s “senior project,” if you will? Here He comes to feed us, to heal our soul, to open our hearts. And does this not require that we be vulnerable?—to admit that we are poor, that we need Him, that without Him nothing matters. We could have everything we want—a degree from WashU, a certificate from SLUH, a great job, a fine family—but without Him, we have nothing.
            And so He comes to feed us. The glory of God hidden in appearance we might find poor.
And more so than yours, God’s Senior Project changes the world.

A final thought:
            A few years after New Orleans, I began to frequent the Eucharistic Adoration chapel at St. Catherine’s in south county. Many people would come in and out of the chapel, some young, but mostly old. “Old ladies.” I went to the adoration to talk to the Lord, knowing I needed to be fed. One night as I was getting up to leave, one of the old ladies grabbed me by the arm and she looked at me and said, “Son, it is good to see you here.”
            I didn’t realize it at first, but now I know what she said: as I was being fed by Christ that night, Jesus was feeding this woman through me. Just my being there strengthened her faith.
            My brothers, the world needs men of faith today. Your fidelity and your presence to prayer, to Sunday Mass, to being there and being seen praying—while you are fed there, it feeds us and it strengthens us too. In such ways then, our faith and our service are inseparable and they meet here: at this holy altar where God comes to meet us; this “Senior Project,” this Holy Mass.
            Let us approach and be fed and so change the world!