Thursday, July 21, 2011


Preparing for Changes

Following up on last week’s article, the second possibly confusing change in the Roman Missal concerns the priest’s repetition of Christ’s own words at consecration of the chalice. In the phrase “this is the cup of my blood… which will be shed for you and for all,´ the last word will be changed from “all” to “many” (in accord with the Latin term multis). When Pope Benedict explicitly requested this change in translation, confusion arose among some Catholics: they were afraid that such wording might create the false impression that the Church believed that Jesus did not die for all human beings. However, the change in translation was not because it was wrong to say that Jesus died “for all,” but because saying that he would die “for many” is a more faithful translation of what Jesus actually said. When quoting Jesus at the Last Supper, the Greek Bible and the earliest Greek and Latin Masses, the closes witnesses we have to Jesus’ own words, all clearly choose phrases that mean “for many,” and not “for all.”

It seems that Jesus chose to say “for many” at the Last Supper to show that he fulfills the role of the Suffering Servant as foretold by Isaiah: the one Servant who would take away the sins of “many,” and will justify “the many” by his vicarious suffering and death (53:11, 12). The “many” means here an indefinitely large multitude consisting of both Israel and many other nations (52: 13, 15).

The translation simply leaves open the (for us) innumerable throng of those who accept in faith the blood of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. It would seem that at the Last Supper Christ said “for you and for many” instead of “for you and for all” to remind us that the Eucharist is a covenant meal, one which must be embraced by both the one offering and the one receiving. Entry into the New and Eternal Covenant belong to those who have freely accepted it. Christ has shed his blood for all, but his offering is effective only for those who in faith and love have drunk from it. The new (and original) phrase “shed for many” respects the secret counsel of God and leaves the exact number of the elect to God’s mercy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Feast Day of Blessed Kateri Tekawitha

"Kateri was a child of nature. Her sainthood will raise the minds and hearts of those who love nature and work in ecology."
 Bishop Stanislaus Brzana, Bishop of Ogdensburg, N.Y.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), also known as Blessed Catherine Tekakwitha, is honored by the Catholic Church as the patroness of ecology, nature, and the environment.

Tekakwitha's baptismal name is Catherine, which in the Iroquois languages is Kateri. Tekakwitha's Iroquois name can be translated as, "One who places things in order."1 or “To put all into place.”2 Other translations include, "she pushes with her hands" and "who walks groping for her way" (because of her faulty eyesight).

Tekakwitha was born at Ossernenon, which today is near Auriesville, New York, USA. Tekakwitha's father was a Mohawk chief and her mother was a Catholic Algonquin.

At the age of four, smallpox attacked Tekakwitha's village, taking the lives of her parents and baby brother, and leaving Tekakwitha an orphan. Although forever weakened, scarred, and partially blind, Tekakwitha survived. The brightness of the sun blinded her and she would feel her way around as she walked.

Tekakwitha was adopted by her two aunts and her uncle, also a Mohawk chief. After the smallpox outbreak subsided, Tekakwitha and her people abandoned their village and built a new settlement, called Caughnawaga, some five miles away on the north bank of the Mohawk River, which today is in Fonda, New York.

In many ways, Tekakwitha's life was the same as all young Native American girls. It entailed days filled with chores, spending happy times with other girls, communing with nature, and planning for her future.

Tekakwitha grew into a young woman with a sweet, shy personality. She helped her aunts work in the fields where they tended to the corn, beans, and squash, and took care of the traditional longhouse in which they lived. She went to the neighboring forest to pick the roots needed to prepare medicines and dye. She collected firewood in the forest and water from a stream. Despite her poor vision, she also became very skilled at beadwork.
Although Tekakwitha was not baptized as an infant, she had fond memories of her good and prayerful mother and of the stories of Catholic faith that her mother shared with her in childhood. These remained indelibly impressed upon her mind and heart and were to give shape and direction to her life's destiny. She often went to the woods alone to speak to God and listen to Him in her heart and in the voice of nature.

When Tekakwitha was eighteen, Father de Lamberville, a Jesuit missionary, came to Caughnawaga and established a chapel. Her uncle disliked the "Blackrobe" and his strange new religion, but tolerated the missionary's presence. Kateri vaguely remembered her mother's whispered prayers, and was fascinated by the new stories she heard about Jesus Christ. She wanted to learn more about Him and to become a Christian.

Father de Lamberville persuaded her uncle to allow Tekakwitha to attend religious instructions. The following Easter, twenty-year old Tekakwitha was baptized. Radiant with joy, she was given the name of Kateri, which is Mohawk for Catherine.

Kateri's family did not accept her choice to embrace Christ. After her baptism, Kateri became the village outcast. Her family refused her food on Sundays because she wouldn't work. Children would taunt her and throw stones. She was threatened with torture or death if she did not renounce her religion.

Because of increasing hostility from her people and because she wanted to devote her life to working for God, in July of 1677, Kateri left her village and fled more than 200 miles (322 km) through woods, rivers, and swamps to the Catholic mission of St. Francis Xavier at Sault Saint-Louis, near Montreal. Kateri's journey through the wilderness took more than two months. Because of her determination in proving herself worthy of God and her undying faith she was allowed to receive her First Holy Communion on Christmas Day, 1677.

Although not formally educated and unable to read and write, Kateri led a life of prayer and penitential practices. She taught the young and helped those in the village who were poor or sick. Kateri spoke words of kindness to everyone she encountered. Her favorite devotion was to fashion crosses out of sticks and place them throughout the woods. These crosses served as stations that reminded her to spend a moment in prayer.

Kateri's motto became, "Who can tell me what is most pleasing to God that I may do it?" She spent much of her time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, kneeling in the cold chapel for hours. When the winter hunting season took Kateri and many of the villagers away from the village, she made her own little chapel in the woods by carving a Cross on a tree and spent time in prayer there, kneeling in the snow. Kateri loved the Rosary and carried it around her neck always.
This painting is the one of the oldest portraits of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, by Father Claude Chauchetière, S.J. (circa 1696)

Often people would ask, "Kateri, tell us a story." Kateri remembered everything she was told about the life of Jesus and his followers. People would listen for a long time. They enjoyed being with her because they felt the presence of God. One time a priest asked the people why they gathered around Kateri in church. They told him that they felt close to God when Kateri prayed. They said that her face changed when she was praying. It became full of beauty and peace, as if she were looking at God's face.

On March 25, 1679, Kateri made a vow of perpetual virginity, meaning that she would remain unmarried and totally devoted to Christ for the rest of her life. Kateri hoped to start a convent for Native American sisters in Sault St. Louis but her spiritual director, Father Pierre Cholonec discouraged her. Kateri's health, never good, was deteriorating rapidly due in part to the penances she inflicted on herself. Father Cholonec encouraged Kateri to take better care of herself but she laughed and continued with her "acts of love."

The poor health which plagued her throughout her life led to her death in 1680 at the age of 24. Her last words were, "Jesus, I love You." Like the flower she was named for, the lily, her life was short and beautiful. Moments after dying, her scarred and disfigured face miraculously cleared and was made beautiful by God. This miracle was witnessed by two Jesuits and all the others able to fit into the room.

Kateri is known as the "Lily of the Mohawks." The Catholic Church declared Kateri venerable in 1943. She was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II. Kateri is the first Native American to be declared Blessed. Her feast is celebrated on July 14th in the United States. Pope John Paul II designated Blessed Kateri as a patroness for World Youth Day 2002.

Blessed Kateri's tomb is found at St. Francis Xavier Mission in the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake, near Montreal, Quebec. Blessed Kateri is honored at the National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in Fonda, New York and the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, New York.

Blessed Kateri's name is pronounced kä'tu-rē. Her Iroquois name, Tekakwitha, is often pronounced tek"u-kwith'u. Her name Tekakwitha is occasionally spelled Tegakouita. The Mohawk pronunciation of her name is sometimes described as Gah-Dah-LEE Degh-Agh-WEEdtha.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Roman Missal Update

In mid-August, we will begin to prepare for the changes that will take place at Mass in the new translation of the Roman Missal.  The “official” date of transition will be Sunday, November 27, 2011 – the first Sunday of Advent.

The majority of the changes will affect the priest.  However, several changes will be for the people.

 “And with your spirit”

The first change concerns our response to the priest’s greeting “The Lord be with you.”  Our response will be “And with your spirit,” instead of the now customary “And also with you.”

Contrary to the popular assumption, in the response “And with your spirit,” the word “spirit” does not mean the soul as opposed to the body, and does not deny that the body must be a dwelling place for the Lord.  The word “spirit” refers to pneuma, a key term in the Greek New Testament.  Its meaning ranges from the person of the Holy Spirit, to his manifold gifts within us, to the highest part of our own souls.  Our “spirit” is  like our inner “radio antenna,” the very top of our selves through which the Holy Spirit enters us so that our Spirit-filled spirit may in turn transform our souls and our bodies. Thus when we return the priest’s greeting by saying “And with your spirit,” we state that the Lord is present to his spirit, and we also wish that the Lord may be even more intensely present in him so as to rekindle in him the spirit if courage, love and self-control, the chief virtues of the minister according to St. Paul.  The greeting then is an acknowledgment of the Lord Jesus’ presence in the congregation and the minister, and a wish that his presence may fill us with his Spirit and transform us unto his image and likeness.

 Next week:  “For Many”

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga was born Luigi Gonzaga on March 9, 1568 (Castiglione delle Stiviere, Italy) and died June 21, 1591 (Rome) at the age of 23.
He is the Patron of youth; students; Jesuit novices; AIDS patients; AIDS caregivers; sufferers of pestilence. He was beatified on October 19, 1605, by Pope Paul V and canonized on December 31, 1726, by Pope Benedict XIII.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saint Anthony of Padua

Saint Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195. Although associated in devotional prayer with the finding of lost objects, Saint Anthony was in fact an extremely gifted preacher and teacher of God’s word. He did seek out those lost in unbelief and denial and brought them back to the fold of faith by the power of the word he preached.

Saint Anthony of Padua or Anthony of Lisbon, O.F.M., (born Fernando Martins de Bulhes; c. 1195 – 13 June 1231) was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. Though he died in Padua, Italy, he was born to a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, which is where he was raised. Noted by his contemporaries for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of Scripture, he was declared a saint almost immediately after his death and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946. No other doctor resembled Jesus Christ to a certain degree as Anthony. He lived as Jesus in obscurity for many years. He became known quite suddenly and died the youngest of the male doctors, about Jesus' age.

The gospels of the four evangelists were the main sources that Anthony wholeheartedly pursued and lived. His insatiable thirst to understand, master, and live out the message and meaning of the words of Jesus, and imitate his life, were his consuming interest. No other doctor is depicted holding the Infant Jesus more than "Tony", as he is so affectionately named by many due to his great purity and innocence of heart. Unlimited miracles, even today, are attributed to his holy intercession when we turn to him in genuine prayer and faith. There is a lasting tradition of him helping us find lost items, people, and that includes discovering ourselves more profoundly, when we turn to him in faith, honesty, and love.

"He received in baptism the name of Ferdinand. Later writers of the fifteenth century asserted that his father was Martin Bouillon, descendant of the renowned Godfrey de Bouillon, commander of the First Crusade, and his mother, Theresa Tavejra, descendant of Froila I, fourth king of Asturia. Unfortunately, however, his genealogy is uncertain; all that we know of his parents is that they were noble, powerful, and God-fearing people, and at the time of Ferdinand's birth were both still young, and living near the Cathedral of Lisbon. Having been educated in the Cathedral school, Ferdinand, at the age of fifteen, joined the Canons Regular of St. Augustine, in the convent of St. Vincent, just outside the city walls (1210). Two years later to avoid being distracted by relatives and friends, who frequently came to visit him, he betook himself with permission of his superior to the Convent of Santa Croce in Cóimbra (1212), where he remained for eight years, occupying his time mainly with study and prayer. Gifted with an excellent understanding and a prodigious memory, he soon gathered from the Sacred Scriptures and the writings of the Holy Fathers a treasure of theological knowledge."

His legacy to the world, and his popularity even today, his intercession before God is beyond comparison and comprehension. He is the patron of untold causes and the church has lavished upon him the highest honors of sainthood almost before he died. He was canonized within a year of his death because of popular acclaim. This fact alone is unprecedented in the history of the Catholic Church. He is perhaps the most popular saint ever among the faithful of the church.

He died on June 13, 1231.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Today, Pentecost Sunday, marks the end of the Easter season and celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary. By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Christ’s paschal mystery was brought to its completion. The Holy Spirit prepares us with his grace in order to draw us to Christ.

Luke gives us a dramatic picture of the event: The Spirit came upon the apostles with a "strong driving wind" and with "tongues as of fire" (Acts 2:2,3).

Pentecost is meant to be experienced. The Spirit wants to burn the knowledge of God’s love and mercy into our hearts. He wants to fill us with the same joy that the apostles knew— the joy of our salvation and the joy of knowing Jesus. As we feel this joy, we will yearn for God’s presence every day, and we will want to avoid everything—every sin—that would separate us from him and his love.

May our lives be changed today— forever!"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter


On this Eve of Pentecost, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Barnabas. He was a just and faithful servant to whom the success of the Gospel was far more important than his own. He willingly sought and sponsored Saint Paul without any thought of seeking a competitive edge. Humility in God’s service brings its own success.

Born in Cyprus, Barnabas is numbered among the first of the faithful in Jerusalem. He preached the Gospel in Antioch and, as a companion of Saint Paul, accompanied him on his first journey. He was also present at the Council of Jerusalem. Upon returning to his own country, he continued to spread the Gospel and eventually died there.

Acts 11:21-26; 13:1

He was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. (Acts 11:24)

The name Barnabas indicates what the man was like: Barnabas —"son of encouragement" is how Luke translates it—was a nickname given him by the apostles (Acts 4:36). Barnabas was a missionary, prophet, and teacher and was outstanding for the generous way he used his gifts to encourage people. He gave his money to the Jerusalem community (4:37). He gave Saul his friendship and trust, vouching for him when everyone else was shunning the new convert (9:26-27). He saw John Mark’s potential and gave him a second chance, despite the young disciple’s failure to complete his first missionary journey (13:13; 15:36-39).

Encouraging, comforting, strengthening God’s people—these are actions of the Holy Spirit, and indeed, Barnabas was the Spirit’s envoy wherever he went. In Antioch, where today’s reading is set, the Spirit gives Barnabas discernment about the situation he has been sent to investigate. When Saul (St. Paul) and Barnabas were chosen and "sent forth" by the Spirit, Barnabas traveled off to exercise his ministry of encouragement in Cyprus and beyond.

Even Barnabas invites each of us to consider our own relationship with the Holy Spirit. "Do I know him and listen for his guidance? Am I letting him transform me into Christ’s image? Am I using the gifts he’s given me for the good of others?"

If you can answer each question with a "yes," Bravo! And if not just yet, don’t give up! As that great encourager, St. Barnabas, would tell you: God wants to fill you with his Spirit. Just ask!

Come Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle within us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth! Amen.