Choose Joy…Alive in the Spirit
Every September, I very much enjoy celebrating Mass for our three Catholic high schools in order to invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon the new school year and to have the opportunity to welcome the students back to school. I also enjoy granting an extra holiday for the school year which has become a tradition during the past years. We are blessed in our Diocese with three outstanding Catholic high schools — Cardinal Newman in West Palm Beach, John Carroll in Fort Pierce and St. John Paul II Academy in Boca Raton. All three have different characteristics but they truly represent what the best of Catholic education is all about and are a model of why it is important to support Catholic education. We have very good reason to be proud of our Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Palm Beach, of the faculty and staff which take care of them and of the young people who represent the spirit of the schools, the promise of today and the hope for the future.
God has a human face
The following two Sundays are significant ones in regard to the life of the Church. The first, Sept. 29, is Priesthood Sunday, which is set aside to reflect upon and affirm the life and role of the priest in the life of the Church. The second, Oct. 6, is Respect Life Sunday, which begins the annual respect life program for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. While these occasions are separate, they do have an intimate association in regard to who we are as the people of God, made in His image and likeness with a specific purpose and destiny. It is the priest, who truly in the person of Jesus Christ, reminds us of the sanctity of our life from the moment of conception until we pass from this world into the gift of eternal life.
Diaconate ordination: Promises to keep
We are grateful to God for the safety we experienced this week as we escaped the fierce effects of Hurricane Dorian. We pray in a very special way today for all those so tragically affected by the storm which directly hit the Bahamas. We are all pleased to be present here this morning for the ordination of five men to the Office of Deacon for the Diocese of Palm Beach. Our ordinandi — Andre, Michael, Charles, Vincent and Edwin — with their wives and families, have discerned the Lord’s call to them in their lives and, in response to that call, have prepared very diligently over the past years to take up now their office of service to the Church. They have grown, through study, in the knowledge of their faith and, through prayer, in their relationship to the Lord. While they will still continue to grow, today the Church formally calls them to be public ministers through the conferral of holy orders. I wish to thank these men and all of my brother deacons for their willingness to follow the Lord’s call to them and for their service to our Diocese. I also thank Father Bob Pope and all those in our diaconate program at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary for the outstanding formation they have given these men. We are deeply grateful to their wives and families for all the assistance they have afforded in their preparation and for the continued support they will offer them in their ministry.
No dream is too high
While the weather will remain hot in southern Florida for many days to come, the signs around us make it clear that the summer season is coming to an end. Children are returning to school, the daylight hours are showing signs of decreasing ever so slowly and we continue to pray for the aversion of tropical storms and hurricanes. Labor Day is upon us which is considered the official closing of the weekends of summer, as all of us return to a more routine way of life after summer vacations.
August is a time of transition
As the month of August begins, we find ourselves, perhaps astonishingly, more than half way through the year. With less than five months to Christmas and more than seven months since our New Year’s resolutions, August is a good month to take stock of where we find ourselves in our journey through this year, as well as through our lives. As the heat of the summer makes itself intensely felt in southern Florida during this month, and as we pray for the safety of all in the aversion of storms during this hurricane season, we realize that time does indeed move ahead and the circumstances of our lives change. It is important to evaluate where we stand in this changing life in view of the many experiences we have encountered. Two significant celebrations occur during the first half of August that give us insight into our journey — the Transfiguration and the Assumption.
Fraternity, charity, unity, patriotism
We just celebrated a very significant occasion in the life of our country and of the world in the 50th anniversary of the landing of the Apollo 11 Space Mission on the moon. When Buzz Aldrin took the first step upon the moon on July 20, 2069, the capacity of the human person to reach beyond the limits of this world was realized. Eugene Kranz was the director of the Apollo 11 mission and was present this year at the Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C. During his address, President Donald Trump remarked, “Exactly 50 years ago this month, the world watched in awe as Apollo 11 astronauts launched into space with a wake of fire and nerves of steel, and planted our great American flag on the face of the moon. We are thrilled to have here tonight the famous NASA flight director, who lead Mission Control during that historic endeavor – the renowned Gene Kranz.”
We choose to go to the moon
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, the Apollo 11 space crew, made unprecedented history by completing a voyage to the moon and being the first to land upon it. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this monumental event, we have a great deal to be proud of and upon which to build and reflect. As Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon exclaimed as he made that incredible step, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” A great deal has occurred in our world during the 50 years since that step but the courage, vision and determination which made it possible continue to give us encouragement and hope in the ability of humankind to fulfill its potential as created in the image and likeness of God. The decision to make the voyage to the moon was as unprecedented as the voyage itself.
The greatest treasure of Notre Dame Cathedral
It has been over two months since the tragic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The two months have brought with them a great deal of understanding of the cathedral, it’s art and its place in history, which are all irreplaceable. The cathedral is a reminder of the pinnacle of God’s creation, which is the human person capable of raising the human mind and heart into the contemplation of God’s beauty through artistic creativity and manual dexterity. The two months have also brought a great deal of hope in the conviction of rebuilding the cathedral as a monument to God and his creation.
The Holy Spirit prays within us
Pentecost marks the beginning of the Church when the Lord sent down upon the apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Holy Spirit is the culmination of Easter for through it, the mission of Christ continues. Pentecost is not the end of what Jesus had brought about for us but only the beginning. Just as the apostles were able to go forth and accomplish miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit, so does the Spirit work in our lives each day. From a small group of followers of Jesus in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit has enabled the Church to grow to what it is today.
Celebrating Our Lady of La Vang
As every year in our Diocese on the first Sunday of May, we celebrated our annual diocesan Marian Festival. This year, as in so many preceding years, the festival took place at the Rosary Walk of Emmanuel Parish in Delray Beach. While there was a threat of rain, it held off for the entire time we were outdoors at the beautiful Rosary Walk honoring Our Lady. Present were many statues and icons of Mary representing the many diverse cultural backgrounds of our diocese in such a rich manner. The presence of so many of the faithful of our diocese from different nationalities represented well the faith that is present here and the reality that Mary is our mother and relates to all of us in our particular backgrounds and situations. As always, the festival was a moving experience of faith centered on Mary as integral to who we are as the followers of her son in the Catholic Church.
The priest: The now of God
The Gospel passage from St. Luke that was just proclaimed is the same as was proclaimed on the fourth Sunday of this year and upon which Pope Francis reflected at the closing Mass for World Youth Day in Panama. The pope expressed that in it, “Jesus reveals the now of God who comes to meet us and calls us to take part in his now! … This is the now of God. It becomes present with Jesus: it has a face, it is flesh. It is a merciful love that does not wait for ideal or perfect situations to show itself. … It is God’s time, that makes every situation and place both right and proper.” The pope reflected that not everyone who heard the words of Jesus felt invited because they could not accept that God could be that real and intimate as he was in Jesus. He warned that the same sentiment can happen with all of us.
Christ is Alive!
The Easter season has recently begun. The celebration of Easter is not just Easter Sunday but a period of 50 days from the celebration of the Easter Vigil until the solemnity of Pentecost. This is a joyful time for all of us to celebrate the reality of the Lord’s Resurrection.
Mary before us in Holy Week
During Holy Week we encounter the Lord as he stands before us in a personal manner as the one who came to redeem us by giving His life, unjustly condemned as a criminal, upon the cross. As the Lord encounters us this week in this most intimate manner, it is well for us to consider carefully our response to him. During Holy Week, many are before us in the Gospels who encounter Jesus and respond to him in the most extreme manners. From his disciples and apostles to Pontius Pilate, the crowd and the soldiers who crucify him, the Lord’s response is always one of love and mercy.
‘Unplanned’ movie offers message of love, conversion
A new movie is to appear in certain theaters March 29, which is most fitting for the season of Lent. The movie is a very personal and moving story of the powerful deception of evil and the more powerful reality of love, conversion, forgiveness, outreach to those in difficult times, the meaning of life and the promise of eternal life. All those elements, so much a part of the Lenten season, are reflected in the movie, “Unplanned,” a true account of a woman who made a complete reversal in regard to her acceptance and facilitation of abortion.
God speaks within us
We just sprang ahead by moving the clock forward one hour. While we have slowly been enjoying evenings of more daylight, the springing ahead one hour made the extra daylight even more obvious. In a certain sense we can say that, by our pushing the clock ahead, the longer days come about by two actions, nature’s and our own. Of course, our part in this change is not only minimal, but also artificial. Nature will continue to make the increasing daylight even more dramatic as spring officially begins on March 20.