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Thursday, December 10, 2015

A peritus remembers Vatican II

Dawn Eden writes: Today's Catholic World Report features my interview with Fr. Don, "A peritus remembers Vatican II." I am grateful to Fr. Don for sharing his recollections with me, and to Carl Olson at Catholic World Report for giving me the opportunity to share them with the world.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mary, Holy Evangelist

Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel,
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC

December 8 we celebrate Mary graced in her conception and December 12 we celebrate her pregnant with Jesus, visiting her cousin Elizabeth pregnant with John the Baptist. Both celebrations belong to our preparation during advent for the new coming of Jesus into our hearts and lives and history, a new birth in us and a new manifestation of and through us of Him our savior.

Mary was conceived bodywise, as are we, by the lovemaking of her father Joachim and her mother Anne, open to giving life to her their child. She was conceived soulwise, mercied, chosen, graced to be the virgin mother of our anointed savior. At the annunciation of the angel to her before her conception of Jesus, she was greeted as fully graced, highly favored, much loved (Luke 1). So she was from her own conception. She is to be the virgin mother and companion and friend of our revolutionary warrior Jesus freeing and uniting us to be His family of friends. She, wife of Joseph carpenter of Nazareth, was conceived in view of her identity and life and mission. She is holy Mary. We hold her graced conception based on the revelation entrusted to the church.

We pray easily and gladly to Mary to pray for and with us to Jesus for the wine we need each day, each hour, each moment (John 2). We move and grow in her presence, her thought and affection; we are entrusted to her by Jesus as our mother and companion and friend (John 19).

Mary and her husband and companion and friend Joseph are the humbled and humble married couple of Nazareth and are especially close to humbled and humble people of every time and place. We are not surprised at her visit to Juan Diego in 1531 and to his Aztec people of what is now Mexico. She comes as Mary wife of Joseph, carrying Jesus, helping her older pregnant cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zachariah, singing her trust in our merciful Father by His Breath with and like and through His and her Child in her womb (Luke 1). She attracts many Christians and other religious people today, also humanists and secularists. Mary is the hoped-for and promised and now present woman (Genesis 3, Revelation 12, Galatians 4). She is the new woman freed and united and so freeing and uniting us brothers and sisters with our home and duration to be trustful before our Creator and helpful among ourselves His creatures.

Mary la Morenita, the little brown one, with Joseph, leads us to share Jesus and His way for us with our brothers and sisters in the new evangelization today, the second five hundred years in America and the third thousand years in the world at large since the incarnation of our Lord Jesus for our redemption especially through His passion and resurrection. She with Joseph invites us to be missionary disciples in the merciful revolution of Jesus for people today. She wants us like the Spanish newcomers and the Aztec natives at the time and place of Juan Diego to be one family of friends of her and Joseph and Jesus.
Father Don

Christmas, the Christ Mass, His and Ours

Pope Benedict XVI visits the Nativity scene in St. Peter's Square, January 2, 2012 (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

We prepare together and singly to celebrate the birth of Jesus anew with his friends, especially Mary and Joseph.

Jesus grew in age and wisdom and grace originally, offering self for others playfully and passionately and happily, as lover and fighter and guide wisely and generously, trustfully and helpfully, humbly and mercifully, before His merciful Father and us His brothers and sisters, people and angels with our earth and universe during our time and eternity by His Breath (Luke 2). We want to grow with and like and through Him Child of Mary and Joseph and of His Father and His Holy Breath. He is our brother and friend and savior, our family team player and champion and revolutionary freeing and uniting us to be His humble merciful family of friends of Mary and Joseph. With and like and through Him we aim at living this is my word and heart for you, this is my body handed over and my blood poured out for you (Luke 22).

Our story, our song during our life and history and forever is Jesus our good samaritan merciful to us miserable, half dead by the roadside (Luke 10).

We meditate prayerfully. We remember our past. We anticipate our future. We face our present in the light and fire of Jesus and His friends, especially Mary and Joseph. We are aware of us persecuted brothers and sisters. We are aware of us brothers and sisters thirsting in our heart and conscience and every misery. Jesus blesses our ongoing conversion to be better, more truthful faithful merciful honest affectionate (not false fickle cruel cheating lustful). He is the light and gift we celebrate. We want to catch and spread the fire of His mercy revolution (Luke 12).

A merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you friends and family members, all and each.

Father Don

A Christmas Greeting

Monday, November 23, 2015

Love: Agape, Offer for Others, Mercy, Friends, Family of Friends

The oblate cross given to each
Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate
at their oblation (vows) for life.
At the heart of the Catholic way of Jesus for us is love. Jesus Himself embodies love humanly. He personifies mercy humanly. This is evident in the bible and in the liturgy and in Church teaching. This is evident in His family of friends, the saints of heaven and purgatory and earth, past, present, future, especially His Mary and Joseph. This is the need of our heart and conscience and every misery.

Reading St. Thomas leads to his focus on love as offer of self for others, and, if faced with the misery of the others, mercy. In 1956, my third-year theology second semester at the Gregorian, my choice of a class in preparation for the written paper needed to obtain a license in theology was Bernard Lonergan on gratia operans in St. Thomas. Lonergan was my favorite teacher and Thomas my favorite theologian; that determined my choice easily. In studying gratia operans in the Summa, love in the context of grace attracted me, particularly I II, q. 110, a. 1, utrum gratia ponit aliquid in anima. To say God loves us means He makes us good, He makes us friends. The paper became "The Mystery of Grace and the Love of God." Love offers self for others. Love does not use others for self.

Some years later, in the wake of Vatican II and during my mission to Sweden as an OMI priest, my personal study on the side into Swedish Lutheran theology led me to discover Luther in the Heidelberg dispute of 1518 holding much like Thomas that God's love differs from our love, His love makes us good. My personal exploration into Swedish theology led me further to Anders Nygren and his Agape and Eros. Nygren's view distinguished agape, new testament christian love (lutheran love) as opposed to caritas  (catholic love), a compromise between christian and hellenistic love. Caritas brings to the fore mutual love of friends, dependent on grace changing our human hearts and lives and history. This intrigued me.

Later, pursuing a doctoral degree at the Angelicum, my choice for the dissertation was a comparison and contrast between Thomas and Luther and then between between Anders Nygren and Bernard Lonergan. This became "The Christian Meaning of Love, A Study of the Thought of Anders Nygren" (1976). My conclusion after reflecting on Nygren's Lutheran thesis of agape and his antithesis between Lutheran agape and Catholic caritas is to suggest a new lutheran catholic position. Love makes us good, love makes us friends. The love of God makes us good, makes us friends. Our love, graced by His love, makes us brothers and sisters good, makes us friends. His offer of self for us mercifully in our misery makes us offer self for others mercifully in their misery to His image and likeness. His grace changes us, transforms us, turning us from enemies to friends, from sinners to saints. His grace does not merely pass through us, does not merely cover us, but truly converts us, makes us anew, trustful and believing and hoping and helpful and loving justly and chastely--to be sure, always struggling to stay and grow so in our life and history.

Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Paris,
cornerstone by Cardinal Guibert, O.M.I., of Paris.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Nygren also contrasts more radically Martin Luther and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), lutheran agape vs. atheist nihilist (humanistic relativistic) eros. He interprets Nietzsche (Ecce Homo, The Antichrist [1888]) as advocating a re-evaluation of all values, love of self against love of others, eros against agape. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, my religious congregation, celebrated the 150th anniversary of their papal approval and naming in 1976. Our founder St. Eugene (1782-1861), who lived during the french revolution and the napoleonic empire and their aftermath, is often likened to the bishop merciful to Jean Valjean in Les Miserables of Victor Hugo. For Nietzsche, misery was due to mercy and called for cruelty. The superman is cruel and so human, the human weakling is merciful and so inhuman. For Eugene, misery was due to cruelty and called for mercy. Cruelty uses the other for self. Mercy offers self for the other in misery. This was another impetus to my reflection on love as offer of self for others, as mercy for the miserable.

Love relates self to the other. Love that uses other for self is eros. Love that offers self for the other is agape. Love that offers self for the other in misery is mercy. Mutual love that offers self for the other makes friends and family of friends. One in mind and heart of two or three or more persons makes one community, a family of friends (Acts 2). One soul in two or three or more bodies makes a family of friends (the classical Greek description of friends: mia psyche en duo somasin). Caritas joins two or three or more persons as a community, a family of friends cherished and beloved.

Benedict XVI in Deus caritas est (2005) suggests erotic agape (passionate love). Jesus and His friends, especially Mary and Joseph, love and offer self for the others, especially in their misery, passionately and playfully and happily. This is their desire, their drive, their yearning to be gift, oblation, offering for our merciful Father, our Lover, and our beloved brothers and sisters by His Holy Breath, His Holy Love, with and like and through His Child, His Beloved Word, our Jesus of Mary and Joseph in His pierced Heart.
"Ecce Homo," by
Joaquín Martínez de la Vega (1845-1905),
via Wikimedia Commons

We meet Jesus wonderfully in the Gospels of Luke and of John and in the first letter of the latter. Jesus the good samaritan stops to help us robbed and beaten and half dead by the roadside (Luke 10). He comes to set us on fire with His merciful love (Luke 12). He hands over His body for us and pours out His blood for us (Luke 22).

Jesus thirsts for us in our thirst as we meet at the well of life and history (John 4). He gives us His new commandment to love our brothers and sisters together and singly as He loves us, to wash their feet in their need to be served (John 13). He wants us to be friends (John 15). He makes us one as He and His Father and His Breath are one, as He and Mary and Joseph are one, His family of friends to the image and likeness of His Family of Friends (John 17).

God is love, passionate offering of self for others. Our merciful Father sends His Child Jesus to us and through Him sends His Holy Breath in us who are miserable to make us His family of friends to Their image and likeness (1 John 4). Ecce Homo. We behold the man Jesus (John 19). He is our merciful burnt-up offering of self for us His miserable brothers and sisters. He is our way to be radically and fully human.
Father Don

Monday, November 16, 2015

Revelation, Attitude and Action of the Family of Friends


The Lower Church at the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth
November 18 this year marks fifty years since the constitution Dei Verbum, "The Word of God," was solemnly taught by Vatican II. Revelation is the story and song of us people and angels together and singly now in time and always in eternity. Revelation is the action of our merciful Father through His beloved Child, our Jesus of Mary and Joseph, by His Breath, revealing and gracing us to be His family, His city, His kingdom of friends (Jn 15, Ex 33), not isolation of enemies, opening His Heart for us. His action calls for our action, our graced free yes totally of mind and heart, not our free, sinful no. This is the new and final covenant.

"Lake of Gennesaret" by Nicholas Roerich, via WikiArt
The action of our merciful Father through Jesus by His Breath began with our creation, was renewed after our sin early on in our need with His promise of our redemption through Israel and the Messiah and the fulfillment through Jesus and His gathering His Church, the new Israel, for His world. His revealing and gracing action through Jesus in His Church is handed on through tradition and scripture. Tradition is the followers of Jesus hearing the apostles and breaking bread and sharing and praying together (Acts 2). This tradition was written in twenty-seven books, now called the scriptures of the New Testament, by six apostles and two apostolic men: Matthew, John, Paul, James, Peter, Jude, Mark (connected to Peter), and Luke (connected to Paul). These human writers were inspired by the principal writer, the Holy Breath of Jesus from His Father. Because these writings are so inspired, they are truthful in their proclaiming the way of our salvation. They are interpreted humanly according to their aim, their form of communication, and as part of the whole of scripture, and as inspired by the guidance of the apostles and their successors the bishops, shepherds of the gathering of the followers of Jesus.

The New Testament scriptures include the identity and life and mission of Jesus and the identity and life and mission of His early followers and friends. They are historical in their truthfulness and faithfulness to the realities they express, not necessarily in details of the time and place of each event. They involve accounts of Jesus and His early followers, letters of some of their leaders, and the promise of their future and present. Jesus and His followers accepted the Jewish scriptures that are accounts of the creation of the universe and the human family, of our sin early on and the promise of our redemption, of the formation and development of the people of Israel, the promise of their prophets, the guidance of their sages.

The Garden Tomb, photographed by Phillip Benshmuel, via Wikimedia Commons
Scripture, the seventy-three books—forty-six of the Old Testament and twenty-seven of the New Testament—is at the center of the life and mission of the Church, the gathered and sent followers and friends of Jesus. They need to be made readily available to people with encouragement to hear and read them. They are a necessary source for our thought and prayer and service, for homilies and catechesis and theology. Word and sacrament go together.

The teaching of Vatican II on revelation is preceded by that of Vatican I, Dei Filius, "The Son of God." As John Paul II explains in his encyclical Fides et ratio, "Faith and Reason," revelation is viewed in Vatican I in its nature of transforming gift and in Vatican II in its role for our salvation. St. Thomas reflects on the act of faith inwardly as involving credere Deo, credere Deum, credere in Deum (II-II, q. 2, a. 2): believing God revealing, believing God revealed, believing in God revealed. To believe means to trust God revealing to us, to believe what He reveals to us, to live our trust and beliefs with love and justice and chastity. We trust and believe and live in God our Father and in His Child Our Jesus and in His Holy Breath. This is our outward confession and profession of faith in the Apostles Creed, in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed that we pray and sing often liturgically. This is our story and song. This is the meaning and goal of our life and history. As Their family of friends, we make ours the attitude of the Family of Friends that is our merciful Father and His Child our Jesus of Mary and Joseph and His Holy Breath, our Lover and His beloved Word our Jesus and His Love.
Father Don

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Synod of Bishops and the Church, Catholic and One, Apostolic and Holy

Jesus makes his friends and witnesses a gathering of people, catholic and one, apostolic and holy, His Church for His world, His brothers and sisters, past and present and future. The Synod of Bishops is a manifestation of this reality. Synod, etymologically from Greek, means "road together" (syn-odos).

The Church of Jesus is catholic and one. She is catholic, embracing people together and singly of each time and place, of each gender and race and color, of each nationality and culture and enslavement and language and history, of each age and ability and era and continent, of each originality. She is one, gathering and sending these people in the same way of Jesus for His world.

The Church of Jesus is apostolic and holy. She is apostolic, the movement of people hoped for and promised to Israel and the nations and started by Jesus Himself with Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene and Martha and Mary of Bethany, the apostles, especially Peter and John and Paul. His movement was begun at the time of the apostles and was guided by them and their successors, and is so now, the bishops with and under the bishop of Rome. She is holy, her goal is the family of friends of Mary and Joseph and Jesus, offering self for the others wisely and generously, trustfully and helpfully, humbly and mercifully, playfully and passionately and happily, to the image and likeness of the Family of Friends that is our merciful Father and His Child our Jesus and His Breath, that is our merciful Lover and His Beloved our Jesus and His Love. She is the gathering and sending of our Jesus from pentecost to the parousia. She is His movement of us people and angels with our earth and universe during our time and eternity, His bride with His word and sacrament and sacrifice for His world, crucified much by outsiders and often by us insiders.

The Synod of Bishops is a manifestation of the Church of Jesus, catholic and one, apostolic and holy. It was September 15, 1965, during the final period of Vatican II, when Paul VI created the Synod of Bishops as a way for the bishops of the world to advise the bishop of Rome in the future shepherding the church doctrinally and practically. Paul VI held four ordinary synods and one extraordinary synod, ordinary with members chosen primarily by the respective conferences of bishops, and extraordinary with members designated primarily as the acting presidents of their respective conferences of bishops. Their themes chronologically were the state of the church after the council, the relation between the conferences of bishops and the bishop of Rome cum et sub Petro (extraordinary), the servant priesthood and justice in the world, evangelization, catechesis.

John Paul II held six ordinary synods and one extraordinary synod. Their themes chronologically were the family, reconciliation, the interpretation of Vatican II twenty years later (extraordinary), laity, seminarians, consecrated and apostolic members, bishops. Benedict XVI held three ordinary synods. Their themes chronologically were eucharist, word of God, new evangelization. John Paul II gave the post-synodal apostolic exhortation on catechesis and Francis gave the post-synodal apostolic exhortation on new evangelization.

Francis has held two synods, extraordinary and then ordinary, on marriage and family. These synods follow the rhythm of see, judge, act (present practice, doctrine, future practice) during three weeks in October. We see the challenges of the present practice of people, we judge these challenges in the light of doctrine (the teaching of Jesus and His Church), in this light and fire we act to meet the challenges of people today. The doctrine of marriage and family is the teaching of Jesus and His Catholic Church for married couples and their children, for families. The practice involves language, words and deeds, symbols able to touch people today in their challenges.

The process of the synod is talks of members to the assembly and then the conversations of members separated into thirteen language groups. The members are guided by a working document prepared beforehand and translated into the needed languages. Press briefings are given each day in various languages. This process is completed with voting on a final report made from the deliberations of the language groups of bishops. Then sometime afterward, the bishop of Rome gives an apostolic exhortation responding to the synod advice provided by the bishops. In these last two synods, there are different views of whether the process has been open and free or controlled and manipulated. Concern has been expressed about the working document itself and about its various language translations or lack thereof, about the leadership of the synod and of the drafting committee of the final report and of the theologians doing the writing being appointed by the pope and not chosen by the members of the synod. The pope on his own streamlined the annulment procedures and formed a new central department of laity, family, and life.

A high moment at the end of week two was the listing of four new saints by Pope Francis. They include a priest from Italy, a consecrated woman from Spain, a married couple, the parents of St. Therese, from France. The last working day of the synod, the ninety-four paragraphs of the final report, given as advice to the pope, were approved by two-thirds of the 270 voting members, as needed for consensus. The largest number of negative votes was for the three paragraphs in the third part on the mission of the family today that deal with discernment and integration (§84, 85, and 86). The language of indissolubility was kept, of disorder not. We await as a result the response of Pope Francis to the advice of this two-period synod of bishops on marriage and family.


The revelation and grace of Jesus come to us humanly with our limits and in spite of our sins. We Catholic people and theologians and bishops and popes with our limits and in spite of our sins are blessed this human way that our merciful Father reveals to and graces us through His Child, our Jesus of Mary and Joseph, by His Breath, to make us His family of friends.


Father Don

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Communion of Saints, My Mother Irene, Our Mother Mary

Oblates of Mary Immaculate chapel at the National Shrine. Photo by Bob Garrow from My Year of Faith.
At the closing of the church year, we celebrate All Saints November 1, All Souls November 2, Christ the King the last Sunday, this year November 22. Jesus makes us people saints, His friends. He makes us a communion of saints of heaven and purgatory and earth, His family of friends. He makes us His city, His kingdom during time and eternity, the city, the kingdom of His Father by His Breath, us brothers and sisters people and angels with earth and universe, our family with our home and duration.

At the end of our life and history, of our graced yes or sinful no to Him and His way for us, if we end as His friends and not as His enemies, Jesus will raise our bodies gloriously and halo us. Prior to this, He will vision and mansion us, He will dowry us. We will be His family of friends made through His passion and resurrection and ours with and like and through Him.

We look forward to meeting the saints, especially friends and family members. January 5, 1939, my mother Irene was killed on Highway 66 near Amarillo, Texas, in the panhandle, more precisely near Pampa. In the front seat were my father driving; myself, age 9, in the middle because carsick; and my mother. This was before seat belts. At the impact of the sideswipe collision with another car, she and I were thrown out of our car. She lay silent, blood streaming from her mouth, either dying or dead, me nearby unable to move because of injury. This was the last time she was ever in my vision. Because of my injury and long stay in the local hospital, it was not possible for me to participate in her burial from our home parish, Sacred Heart, Rock Island, Illinois. After that, some wonderful women helped me grow up and mature: Aunt Annie Nelson (she called herself a shirttail relation); Ethel my father's second wife and a friend of my mother from their time working together at a lumber company; Sr. Lucy BVM (Luciola then, a young woman from Chicago and our choir teacher). Most of all, Mary Mother of Jesus and of us each and all.

The Catholic teaching of Jesus about the communion of saints was a huge blessing for me dealing with my longing to be close to her, a longing even to this day at age 86. A few years ago, there was a movie that touched me deeply, "I Am David." It is the true story of a boy and a mother separated after escape from a Slavic communist nation and drawn together years later in Stockholm. At their airport encounter, he said, "I am David." My hope is to meet my mother in heaven and identify myself, "I am Don." She can tell me her story and song, and she can hear mine. May all we brothers and sisters together and singly rejoice in the hope that Jesus gives us during our time for our eternity.

In second year of college at an OMI minor seminary, we had a course on writing. From then, at age 20, this is my portrait of my mother, even now my memory of her:

Mother and her middle child early on
My mother was a loving and a lovable person. She loved people, play, life, and God. She was loved by everyone who knew her. 
Since her father worked in a foundry, her childhood was spent in the poorer section of town, yet she was happy and her large, brown eyes and mischievous smile radiated her happiness to others. The old maids of the neighborhood vied with one another in treating her to a piece of candy. 
She liked to play, whether it was with dolls or a baseball. Perhaps her fondness for play accounts for her low grades in school, since her mentality was of good caliber. She spent many an hour on the Sisters' platform for laughing or inattention. 
After graduating from high school and a brief business course, my mother worked in the main office of a lumber company. She was a favorite among the girls of the office. Her good nature was irresistible. The girls dubbed her "soft heart" because she was a shoulder to the unhappy and to the unpopular girls. However, in front of men, she was bashful and shy. When my dad, an employee of the same company, asked her for a date, my mother was swept off her feet. Her answer was yes; a year later, she was answering, "I do."  
Since my dad was earning a fair salary, they were soon able to buy a house of their own. In due time they peopled the house with three children. My mother was an ordinary housewife. She enjoyed playing with us children and experimenting with new recipes and patterns. 
My dad bought her many things. Whether he gave her an iron or an ice cream cone, she always received it with a childlike joy that fills the giver with happiness. Yet she was conscious of her poor relatives, and had a magic way of helping them; they felt they were doing her a favor. 
Civil war divided our family, since my mother was a Cub fan and my dad a Sox fan. Her favorite player was Gabby Hartnett. One of the thrills of her life was seeing a Notre Dame/Northwestern football game, for she was an ardent Notre Dame radio fan and one of their most loyal unofficial alumnae. 
When nearing her middle thirties, my mother was critically afflicted with cancer. An operation failed to cure her. Although she suffered much, she never complained. Once while we were shopping, she suddenly had such pains in one arm that she could not even hold a small package with it and had to go home at once. However, God spared her a slow, painful death; He took her life in an automobile accident. 
My mother had loved God in her own simple way. She strove to obey the commandments and was a loyal member of the Church. The memory of my mother often cheers the hearts of her family and friends. We still share her love; we still love her.
My mother Irene helps me appreciate Mary wife of Joseph, our Mother.

Father Don

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mission and Freedom, Evangelization and Dialogue, Exhortation and Invitation

Our merciful Father speaks His Word, our Jesus of Mary and Joseph to us and through Him breathes His Breath in us to make us Their family of friends, to Their image and likeness (Gal 4). Jesus is our way and truth and life (Jn 14) from His merciful Father and by His Breath through and in and towards His Catholic Church for us His world. He invites us brothers and sisters each and all to freely share His way for us to flourish humanly, radically, and fully. This is our identity and life and mission.

Jesus wants us together and singly His world to belong to His gathering of friends and witnesses through His merciful word and sacrament in the need of our heart and conscience and every misery (Jn 17). He wants us to belong to this gathering, this Church, outwardly and inwardly (Mt 28). We belong to His gathering outwardly by being tuned to His shepherding and teaching and sanctifying, by following commandments and prayers and beliefs and rites through and in and toward His Church. We belong inwardly to His shepherding and teaching and sanctifying by attitudes and actions of our trust and faith and hope in His merciful Father and by our help and love and justice and chastity toward us brothers and sisters, and this by His Breath. Our outward belonging as symbol and source is for our inward belonging. We are always to be moving toward more radically and fully belonging inwardly and outwardly to her His Church for His world. We people of world religions and philosophies relate to His Church for His world by our goodwill responding to His revelation and grace, by our goodwill human and secular and hopefully religious through and to that degree in His Church. Better, we Christians belong partially as members; best, we Catholics belong fully as members, always through and to that degree in His Church. We Catholics want to always become more radically and fully His Catholic followers for His world with and like and through Him Our Jesus, humble of heart, resting and refreshing us weary and burdened (Mt 11).


With John Paul II we initiated the second 500 years of evangelization in America (North, Central, South) October 14, 1992, and we initiated the third 1,000 years of evangelization for the world at large (five regions of Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, America) since the incarnation of our Lord Jesus for our redemption especially through His passion and resurrection, January 6, 2000. Evangelization and dialogue, mission and freedom, exhortation and invitation go hand in hand. Our evangelization is through dialogue with our brothers and sisters, through the conversation of prayer and thought and service with them. We grow together in sharing with them, in hearing and speaking, in receiving and giving. Schools and media of social communication are avenues of dialogue. Yesterday today tomorrow Jesus wants to set the earth on fire with his merciful way transforming our miserable and cruel way (Lk 12). He exhorts us brothers and sisters to catch and spread the fire of His mercy revolution in His world (1 Jn 4).

This reflection is based on the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament; on Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi (1975); John Paul II, Redemptoris missio (1990); Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est (2005); International Theological Commission, "Christianity and the World Religions" (1997).

Father Don

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sacraments of Eucharist and of Orders, Offering Self for the Other

We remember Jesus by serving our brothers and sisters, by washing their feet (John 13). We remember Jesus by eating His body given up for us and by drinking His blood poured out for us (Luke 22). At the last supper Jesus offers His heart for us, His offering self for us His brothers and sisters before His merciful Father by His Breath. He, Child of Mary and Joseph and of His Father by His Breath, speaks to us the meaning and purpose of His life and history for our lives and history to be witnessed in the coming passion and resurrection and ascension and the outpouring of his Breath in us. We remember Jesus offering self for the others.

The sacrament of the body and blood of Jesus is symbol and source of Him the Merciful to us the miserable in our heart and conscience and every trouble. We remember Him through His word and bread and wine meal that makes Him truly present offering His body and blood among and for and with us to be heard and offered and received and approached by us. This way He makes us more trustful in His merciful Father and more helpful to our brothers and sisters, and this by His Breath in our hearts.

The Last Supper, by A.N. Mironov
This sacrament is the reality and mystery of our Jesus of Mary and Joseph offering Himself among and for and with us. We believe in and love our Jesus in this sacrament. We celebrate each day this sacrament. We try to live each day this sacrament. We want our heartbeating and breathing and moving to be: this is my body for you my brothers and sisters, this is my blood for you my brothers and sisters, with and like and through our Jesus and His friends, especially Mary and Joseph before His merciful Father by His Breath.

Priestly people of baptism and confirmation and the priest servants of orders, we want to be the family of friends of Joseph and Mary and Jesus. We want to be His family of friends in His heart and hands, as His heart and hands, offering among and for and with and helping us brothers and sisters. His words of institution and consecration that make present this offering tone and shape our hearts and hands: this is my body for you, this is my blood for you. His offering kindles our offering.

This reflection is based on the Gospel of Luke and of John, Benedict XVI's Sacramentum caritatis and 2006 homily at Chrism Mass, John Paul II's last Holy Thursday letter to priests, and St. Thomas Aquinas on sacrament and eucharist and orders.

Father Don

Friday, October 2, 2015

Mary and Joseph, Vatican I and II, and the Family

Mary and Joseph are visible influences in Vatican II. The council began October 11, 1962, at that time the Motherhood of Mary, and ended December 8, 1965, the Immaculate Conception of Mary. At the end of the council's third period, November 21, 1964, the Presentation of Mary, Paul VI proclaimed Mary Mother of the Church, in conjunction with Lumen gentium, the main teaching of the council on the church. Indeed, Mary's title Mother of the Church can be grasped as an insight into the entire teaching of the Council. She, together with her husband and friend Joseph, is the best of us in the church of Jesus; more than anyone else, they personify, embody, proclaim, and celebrate the Church (Lumen gentium, Chapter VIII).

Pope John XXIII
Joseph is the patron of Vatican II, so named by John XXIII, who entrusted the council to his care and prayer. At the insistence of this pope, the name of Joseph was entered into the Roman Eucharistic Prayer during the council's first period.

Mary and Joseph are visible influences in Vatican I. Pius IX taught solemnly the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8, 1854, on the day of this celebration. Mary is redeemed by Jesus, Child of her and of our merciful Father, and sanctified by his Holy Breath more radically and fully than any other person in our created family. Before this solemn teaching, in 1830, Catherine Labouré was missioned by Mary to spread the medal, now called miraculous, with the inscription, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." After this solemn teaching, in 1858 Bernadette experienced Mary identifying herself, "I am the Immaculate Conception," and was missioned to make the Lourdes cave a special prayer place. Nearer to our time, in 1917, the three children of Fatima, Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia, experienced the Immaculate Heart of Mary and were missioned to make Fatima likewise a special prayer place. Holy Mary attracts us her sinful children to pray with her to her and our Jesus for our needs and concerns. Pius IX on December 8, 1870, at the end of Vatican I, named Joseph patron of the universal Church. So Mary and Joseph were prominent at the time of this conciliar teaching.

Pope Pius IX
Our Catholic Church of Jesus for his world develops like this acorn into this oak tree, like this boy into this man, like this girl into this woman. She does not atrophy nor fluctuate, but develops always the same, yet differently, for people of each time and place and enslavement and culture and originality. Vatican I (1869-1870) develops into Vatican II (1962-1965). The solemn teaching of Pius IX about the immaculate graced conception of Mary in 1854 develops into the solemn teaching of Pius XII about the bodily glorious assumption of Mary in 1950. Teaching about and devotion to Mary and Joseph develops into that of  today during that same time stretch. The family of Joseph and Mary and Jesus is light and fire for our family of creatures, our human and angelic family of persons, our human family, our Catholic Church family, our immediate family of husband and wife and their children brothers and sisters, ultimately the Family of Friends that is our merciful Father and his Child, our Jesus, and His Holy Breath, that we are to image and be like, we people and angels with our earth and universe during our time and eternity.

Sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz at Holy Family Church, Whitefish Bay, WI. 
As a created family of friends, we are to offer self for the others playfully, passionately, happily, to the image and likeness of the Trinity.

These reflections were inspired by the Gospel of John and St. Thomas Aquinas on grace and love. We are not to use the others for self as the isolation of enemies. For this, we need to be graced now and then glorified forever. We need to be mercied and familied and friended and fathered and mothered and brothered and sistered. We are to mercy and family and friend and father and mother and brother and sister. We need to be the family of friends of Mary and Joseph and Jesus to the image and likeness of the Family of Friends of our merciful Father and his Child our Jesus and his Breath, of our merciful Lover and his Beloved, our Jesus, and his Love.

Father Don

Friday, September 18, 2015

Catholics USA

"Basilica of the National Shrine 
of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC,"
by Alchavers21 via Wikimedia Commons
There are different groups of inhabitants peopling our land and different stages in the making of our nation and of our local Catholic Church in the USA. All and each of us Catholic brothers and sisters have toned and shaped both negatively and positively this movement of Jesus among us.

In the formation of our nation, there are three groups of inhabitants: the natives; the colonists, who came principally from Spain, France, and England; and the slaves, who were brought here principally from Africa. Then, in our new nation, there are among the inhabitants citizens under George Washington, and this extended to slaves under Abraham Lincoln. Finally, there are inhabitants who are pioneers, extending frontiers, and immigrants, enriching our population with people from all races, continents, and nations. Rightly our national motto is "E Pluribus Unum": from many, one.

Some of our more celebrated Catholic brothers and sisters we remember and honor for their visible influence. In the wake of the Epiphany, the manifestation of Jesus to the nations, we honor on January 5 Elizabeth Seton, a laywoman, wife, mother, widow, and founder, and on January 6 John Neumann, an immigrant who became a priest here. Elizabeth (1774-1821), born in New York City, had a common, everyday way of following Jesus in his Church for his world. Her way was to do what the Lord wanted, as He wanted, because He wanted—very practical. Converted especially because of her attraction to Jesus in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, she started schooling Catholics and is the mother of our Catholic schools. John Neumann (1811-1860), from German-speaking Bohemia, became a priest here and later bishop of Philadelphia, and wanted to serve citizens and immigrants, especially in out-of-the-way places. He practiced and advocated daily Eucharistic adoration and the rosary. This man and woman lived in the early years of our nationhood.

We honor from before our nationhood Isaac Jogues (1607-1646) and Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) and Junipero Serra (1713-1784). Isaac, a Jesuit from France, worked among the natives and was martyred by some of them. He risked torture and death to bring Jesus in his Church to them. Kateri, a native in the New York area, was a devout virgin who braved tribal resistance to become a Catholic follower of Jesus. Junipero, a Franciscan from Spain, founded nine missions among the natives of California. He moved always forward in his drive to help these peoples.

We honor from after our nationhood Augustus Tolton (1854-1897) and Frances Cabrini (1850-1917). Augustus had parents who were slaves in Missouri, where he was baptized as an infant. He grew up in Quincy, Illinois, was ordained at St. John Lateran in Rome, eventually worked as a priest in Chicago. In spite of discrimination inside and outside the Church, he wanted to bring people, especially black, to Jesus in His Church. Frances, from Italy, founded missionary sisters to assist immigrants, often mistreated, with works of mercy in the form of schools, orphanages, and hospitals.

We honor from our own time Dorothy Day (1897-1980) and Fulton Sheen (1895-1979). Dorothy cared for workers, their rights, their needs. Fulton, a priest, later a bishop, was on fire to bring Jesus in his Church to people through speaking on radio and television and teaching at Catholic University in Washington, DC, and writing many books. To these we might add Mother Angelica and Francis George.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Our six main national holidays—Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year—highlight realities we appreciate with our neighbors and we transform as Catholic followers of Jesus. We remember our brothers and sisters, citizens and inhabitants who offered self for us—our heroes. We value our freedom to be a nation in the family of nations. We honor brothers and sisters working singly and together among and for and with us. We thank our merciful Father, especially as families, for the blessings of our land and people. We celebrate the birth of Jesus who frees us, enslavers and enslaved, to be brothers and sisters of our human family. We mark the march of time in our life and history.

We are thankful for the pilgrimage of four popes here: Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis. Mary Immaculate is the patron of our nation, Joseph of our immediate neighbors Canada and Mexico. Our Lady of Guadalupe is patron of America, embracing North, Central, and South America.

The Statue of Liberty is the symbol of welcoming the tired, the poor. For us as Catholics, the statue can symbolize Mary Immaculate, our humble and merciful Mother, welcoming and protecting us. She holds the torch of liberty for communion, the way of us brothers and sisters to be the family of friends of her and Joseph and their and our Jesus.

Father Don

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Vatican II: A Mercy Revolution

Holy Spirit window at St. Peter's Basilica,
via Wikimedia Commons.
Vatican II is an epic event in the life of the Church and the world. The following is my present position on its history, teaching, catechism, and theology, fifty years later: December 8, 1965 to December 8, 2015.

Vatican II is historically the center of a new mercy movement of Jesus in His Church for His world over an 87-year period. Two popes prepared this movement during the thirty years from 1928 to 1958: Pius XI with the creation of Vatican State, February 11, 1929, freeing popes to concentrate on shepherding, and Pius XII with the doctrinal declaration of the Assumption of Mary, November 21, 1950, emphasizing our everlasting destiny personified by her. Two other popes, John XXIII and Paul VI, celebrated the council from October 11, 1962, to December 8, 1965, and guided its inception and reception from 1958 to 1978, twenty years, proclaiming emphatically Jesus the good Samaritan, merciful to us His brothers and sisters in our need today. Four other popes implemented/interpreted the Council from 1978 to 2015, the remaining thirty-seven years of the fifty years after completion, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis. They have promoted the new evangelization for this second 500 years in America and these third 1,000 years in the world at large since the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus for our redemption, especially through the Passion and the Resurrection, Benedict focusing on the Catechism and the Council, and Francis on marriage and family.

Image from The Saint John's Bible
This historical perspective of preparation, celebration, and implementation/interpretation of Vatican II over the span of eighty-seven years (thirty/twenty/thirty-seven) guides us to appreciate better the teaching of the Council and the Catechism. The Council issued sixteen documents teaching Jesus gathers us, renews us, sends us. Jesus gathers us, His Church (Lumen gentium) through His Word (Dei verbum), Body and Blood (Sacrosanctum concilium), for us His world (Gaudium et spes), the import of the four constitutions. He renews us lay (Apostolicam actuositatem) and religious (Perfectae caritatis) and seminarians (Optatam totius) and presbyters (Presbyterorum ordinis) and bishops (Christus dominus) and twenty-three Eastern churches (Orientalium ecclesiarum), six declarations flowing from the constitution on the Church. He sends us to our brothers and sisters (Ad gentes) differently Catholic and Christian (Unitatis Redintegratio) and religious (Nostra Aetate), and human and secular, to invite them freely (Dignitatis humanae) to share the Catholic way of Jesus for the people today, especially through education (Gravissimum educationis) and media (Inter mirifica), three other decrees and three declarations likewise flowing from the constitution on the Church.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church presents the conciliar teaching of the Catholic way of Jesus for the people today. Part I is the beliefs; part II, rites; part III, commandments and precepts; and part IV, prayers. The whole charts our attitude and action of virtues, counsels. Part I is professing our trust and faith, part II is celebrating our trust and hope, and parts III and IV are respectively living and praying our love and justice.

Theology in the wake of the Council moves more from practice through doctrine to new practice, "see-judge-act." Gaudium et spes has been a particularly powerful influence. "See"—we start with people today in their need of heart and conscience, their every misery; they are differently cultured (Bernard Lonergan), differently enslaved (Gustavo Gutierrez). "Judge"—we interpret Jesus in His Catholic Church, humbly, mercifully freeing and uniting us to be his humble, merciful family of friends of Mary and Joseph. "Act"—we chart our pastoral decisions accordingly.

This is my humble view of the history, teaching, catechism, and theology of Vatican II as a way of Jesus setting His world on fire today (Luke 12).


Father Don

Thursday, August 27, 2015

65 Years of Religious Life:
August 15, 1950 – August 15, 2015

1950-57       International Scholasticate, Rome, Italy     Seminarian
1957-64       Our Lady of the Snows Scholasticate,        Theology Teacher*
                   Pass Christian, MS
1964-74       Sankt Josef Arbetaren, Luleå, Sweden       Parish Priest**
                   Vår Fru, Täby, Sweden                             Parish Priest**
                   Kristi Moder, Umeå, Sweden                     Parish Priest**
1974-81       Oblate College, Washington, DC                Theology Teacher*
                   Oblate College SW, San Antonio, TX          Theology Teacher*
                   St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, MN                Theology Teacher*
1981-92       Oblate College, Washington, DC                Theology Teacher*
1992-94       St. Joseph, Waterville, WA                        Parish Priest***
1994-97       St. Francis de Sales, Chelan, WA               Parish Priest***
1997-98       St. Francis of Assisi, Tuscaloosa, AL           Parish Priest
                   St. Aloysius, Bessemer, AL                        Parish Priest
1998-2007   St. Peter, Volo, IL                                     Parish Priest***
2007-15       Heart of Mary, Lake Villa, IL                      Chaplain***

* Taught seminarians during their four years of theology for ordination and mission.
** Confidant to Bishop of Stockholm John Taylor, O.M.I., and was his theologian (peritus) at Vatican II from 1964 to 1965. Also was member of Bishop Taylor’s Catholic Ecumenical Committee from 1964 to 1974.
*** Confidant to Bishop of Yakima and Cardinal Bishop of Chicago Francis George, O.M.I.

Heartfelt thanks to friends and family members alive and dead who cross my path.

My mother, who died in a car accident on January 5, 1939, when I was nine.


With my family on August 15, 1950, after First Oblation. From left: Grandpa Charlie (my mother’s father), Dad, Mom (Dad’s second wife), sister Jo Ann (in front of me), brother Jack, sister Jeanne and her husband Jake.
Father Don

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Captivating John Newman

People move intellectually according to John Newman between the human and the inhuman. Either they develop their intellectual potential or they corrupt it. Either they move toward the Catholic Christian religious human or toward the atheist/nihilist human and so inhuman. John Newman developed his human intellectual potential by becoming Catholic.

His journey had stages. He started as a biblical ecclesial Christian. At age 15 he experienced a religious Christian biblical conversion as an evangelical. At age 23 he experienced a further patristic ecclesial sacramental conversion as an Anglican. Lastly at age 44 he experienced a final Catholic conversion.

The movement of his journey was paced by his conscience. He met Jesus, Judge and Savior, in his conscience and so he made the decision to say yes to Him. He was touched by the grace and the gospel and the gathering and the going of the followers of Jesus. He viewed Jesus as the wonderful realization of our human hope and the wonderful fulfillment of the promise of the Lord in the Old Testament. He viewed Jesus of the New Testament as a wonder of truth and mercy in His mission and identity. He viewed Jesus in His followers together and single throughout history, especially in the early martyrs, as our Savior full of wonder. This is the grammar of his assent to Jesus and his Catholic Church.

In the Bible and in Church history he encountered two key disciples of Jesus. They are Peter and Mary. Peter represents the Church apostolic. Mary represents the Church holy. Peter stands for the truth of Jesus. Mary stands for the grace of Jesus. Peter is the universal shepherd. Mary is the universal mother.

The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin,
where Newman preached during his time at Oxford.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
To John Newman, the Catholic Church stands out among Christian churches. She is the fullness of the Church of Jesus. She is apostolic and holy, catholic and one. She is filled with His truth and grace, she is guided in the development of His truth and grace by the successors of His apostles with and under the successor of His Peter. She develops the same gospel of Jesus for people of different times and places and needs. Her gospel is ever ancient, ever new. Theologians of the academy have a charism of doctrine. People and priests of parishes, the faithful, have a charism of devotion. Bishops with and under the pope have a charism of decision for guiding the development of the doctrine of the theologians and the devotion of the faithful.

John Newman urges the full flowering of our personality. There is a merely human maturity and a Catholic Christian maturity. They are best found together for full flourishing. Art and science, insight into people and nature, enhance the saint. Philosophy and theology with their wisdoms make more attractive the saint wise with faith and love. John Newman himself is cultured and holy. He is a Catholic follower of Jesus in the England of his day.

John Newman preached at the university and the parish. He was at home on the level of scholars and on the level of ordinary people. He was a brilliant tutor and conversationalist, he was a teacher, and he was a shepherd, whether one-on-one or to a group.

John Newman was an affectionate and faithful friend. His motto as a cardinal was cor ad cor loquitur, "heart speaks to heart." His heart was the heart of a friend. John Newman is a man of the word and of the heart, a captivating Catholic follower of Christ.
Father Don

Monday, August 24, 2015

Seminarians Today

Seminarians today come with attitudes and abilities that are new because of their time and place, their enslavement and culture, and their originality. They engage in the art of theology and philosophy. They engage in this adventure with Jesus, our friend and companion and Savior, and his friends, especially Mary and Joseph. They are blessed with these years of preparation for their mission as priest-servants of Jesus in his Catholic Church for his world. They are to make present Jesus, offering us his Word and Heart to be heard and held, and his Body and Blood to be offered and received and approached as the food and drink that our heart and conscience need. They are to be good Samaritans, merciful neighbors to us in our misery.

Seminarians are becoming more philosophical and theological during this time with their teachers, companions, classes, and books. To this they direct the classic formation of logic, grammar, and rhetoric, of thinking, expressing, persuading in speaking and writing. They catch more the vision of the whole and the parts of our human and graced ongoing conversion as friend and witness of Jesus in his Catholic Church for his world. They catch more his fire. They get in touch with the Bible, with masters like Thomas Aquinas and John Newman, with Teresa of Jesus and Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, with the teaching of Vatican II and the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, guided by our chief shepherds, philosopher John Paul II, theologian Benedict XVI, and pastoral Francis.

"The Good Samaritan," by Aimé Morot, via Wikipedia 
Seminarians are living their hidden life in preparation for their public life with, like, and through Jesus, and with and like his friends, especially Mary and Joseph. This is a time of growing more traditioned and more creative in their words and deeds. The rosary, meditating the joys, lights, sorrows, glories of Jesus, to be reflected and echoed in us his friends, is a helpful devotion during their concentrated engagement in the art of theology and philosophy. Each day of the Church year, centered on Jesus energizing and encouraging us with his Word and Heart and Body and Blood in his sacramental sacrifice, moves them forward and onward in responding to their call to be priests of the new evangelization in the revolution of mercy.

People need seminarians today. People want them. Jesus needs and wants them to be ordained presbyters in his present mercy movement.

Father Don

Friday, August 14, 2015

Trees

Our story and our song involves two trees: the tree of sin, death, and use of others, and the tree of grace, life, and offering for others. Jesus is our tree of grace, life, and offering for others. He is for us together and singly, with the wood of his crib and his cross. He is Child of Mary and Joseph, Child of the Father and the Holy Breath. Mary, wife of Joseph, is his Virgin Mother and disciple-companion, graced and glorified by him, his humble and merciful friend. Joseph is his virgin father and carpenter-protector, blessed by him, also his humble and merciful friend.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family, are our humble merciful family of friends, to the image and likeness of the Father and his Child and his Holy Breath.

A tree has roots in the earth, a trunk, and branches with a crest in the sky. A tree symbolizes each brother and sister, and our family in the Church and in the world. A tree invites us to appreciate each and all in the Holy Family and in our family of the Church and the world. As we celebrate the Assumption of Mary, we appreciate her life and mission, our Jewish mother, companion and friend of Jesus, and of us each and all. In this light, we reflect on the words of Joyce Kilmer in "Trees": "Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree."

Father Don

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The OMI Charism

Different groups of consecrated followers of Christ have their different charisms. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, or OMIs, claim as their charism brotherly and apostolic love. This was the will of the founder Eugene de Mazenod at his death. His heart was like that of Paul toward Jesus crucified and His Church, toward Timothy and his other companions, toward the Philippians and the other local churches he founded and built up.

St. Eugene lived from 1782 to 1861, during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire. He is likened to the bishop who was merciful to Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. Eventually he became bishop of Marseilles.

The OMIs are a brotherhood of priests and laymen.Their founder had a difficult personality. He was both explosive and tender, commanding and affectionate. Yet he carried the OMIs in his heart. He prayed for them, thought about and loved them each and all. He was a man of brotherly love and wanted the OMIs to be men of brotherly love.
St. Eugene de Mazenod

OMIs are missionaries. They are to be men of apostolic love. The founder was an apostle of youth, of servants, and of prisoners. He was an apostle of the unwanted, the neglected, and the abandoned. His heart was touched by people in need of Jesus and His Catholic Church. He was a missionary priest and bishop. He wanted the OMIs to be men of the people, of the everyday ordinary forgotten people, on fire to draw them closer to Jesus and His Church.

OMIs live and work together. Whether they live under the same roof, or under different roofs but in the same area, they join together in prayer and service. They pray to the Lord for people and for themselves at the eucharistic sacrifice, before Jesus sacramentally present, in the prayer of the hours, in scripture reading and meditation, and in the rosary. They serve the Lord and people by their presence and example and conversation, by their preaching and teaching, by their caring and shepherding, and by their celebrating the eucharistic sacrifice and the other sacraments, especially reconciliation. They are men of cheerful mercy for their neighbors, like and with Jesus our merciful Savior.

OMIs attract candidates to their way by their brotherly and apostolic love. Like their founder, they may have difficult personalities. Yet their hearts are full of manly affection, of care and concern for each other and for the people they meet and serve and help. They display mirth, energy, and daring. Likewise, in their love they tend to be humble, modest, and simple. This is their magnetism.

The OMI charism is nourished by devotion to Mary graced at her conception and to her husband Joseph, by allegiance to the successor of Peter and to the successors of the other apostles with and under him, by the teaching of Thomas Aquinas and of John Henry Newman and of Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Like Eugene, they approach Jesus through and in His Church, His bride crucified by outsiders and insiders. They are men in love with Christ our Savior and His Church as priests and brothers and apostles.

In a word, the OMIs are a priestly congregation of men, ordained and lay, who aim to care for their least brothers and sisters, and to do so like Jesus crucified, offered by Mary and Joseph, and attuned to the successors of Peter and the other apostles. As in the parable of the Good Samaritan, they seek to embody Jesus the merciful neighbor to their neighbors in their misery.
Father Don

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Aging


Aging is like the sunset of each day. Simeon and Anna are aged people at the presentation of the Lord. Simeon sings the Night Prayer of his life. He has met Jesus, glory of Israel and light of the nations. He is readied for death. Anna is eighty-four; she has seen four seasons of twenty-one years each (as Daniel Levinson might say), the twenty-one years each with three passages of seven years each (as Gail Sheehy might say). She speaks about the deliverance of the city.

Aging is moving toward the sunset of the time of our life and toward the sunrise of everlasting destiny. We remember and forget, we imagine and anticipate, limited by our bodily aches and pains. We are being transformed. We revise our view of people and events and history, of family and friends, of ourselves. This revision is a purgatory, a joyful and sorrowful bettering. We ripen like apples, like wheat and grapes. We are more thankful for our many blessings, more sorrowful for our many sins, more hopeful for our ongoing conversion.

Aging is becoming more aware of the future kingdom of truthfully, faithfully merciful friends forever. We look forward to meeting Jesus and His and our friends, especially His and our beloved Mary and Joseph. He will say, "I am Jesus." Mary will say, "I am Mary." Joseph will say, "I am Joseph." Each and all will approach one another with identity and mission now complete. We will have been pruned totally, if necessary through purgatory. We will be glowing, flaming, blazing, each original, for and with all and each.

Aging is playing, traveling, battling to the end. Jesus will make us winners, having come home, victorious forever.

Father Don

Photo: "Burning Yellow Sunset" by Jessie Eastland,via Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Welcome

My friend Dawn Eden has talked to me about having a blog and she has offered to assist me. For what it’s worth, it would be a joy to share my reflections with anyone interested. Here is a brief account of my preparation and my mission as a priest:

I was born May 6, 1929, and baptized on the 26th. That means my conception was around August 6, 1928. Our family was small: mother Irene, Dad Leo, older sister Jeanne, younger brother Jack. We belonged to Sacred Heart Parish, Rock Island, Illinois, and I was educated at the grammar school there from first through eighth grade.

Postcard of Sacred Heart Church
via Rock Island Preservation Society
My confirmation was November 22, 1936; I took Joseph as my confirmation name. The next major event in my personal history was a tragic one. On January 5, 1939, when I was nine years old, my family was in a car accident near Pampa, Texas. Mother was killed. I suffered a severe fracture to my right hip, leaving me disabled.

On November 21, 1941, my father married Ethel, who had been a close friend of my mother and him. Ethel became a second mom to me. She and my father gave us a sister, Jo Ann.

After completing grammar school, I spent one year at Rock Island's St. Joseph High School before discerning a vocation to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. From age 15, onward, the remainder of my high-school years and my first two college years were at Our Lady of the Ozarks, Carthage, Missouri, an OMI minor seminary.

Photo of St. John Lateran by Tango7174, via Wikipedia.
My OMI novitiate began August 14, 1949 and finished with my first oblation (vows) August 15, 1950, at Godfrey, Illinois, near Alton. Then the OMIs sent me to study at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where I had three years of philosophy and four years of theology. My oblation for life was August 15, 1953, at Roviano, Italy, our summer home. My diaconal ordination was December 22, 1956, and I was ordained a priest for life on April 6, 1957, both at St. John Lateran (St. Savior) in Rome.

Being a priest has toned my relation as brother and father and friend with our brothers and sisters of the human family and our brothers and sisters of the Catholic family of Jesus. For the priestly people, my call is to be a servant priest with the deacons, presbyters, bishops, and the bishop of Rome.

My mission as a priest so far has been as a theology teacher for twenty-five years and as a parish priest for twenty-five years. As a teacher, I served at schools of theology in Pass Christian, Mississippi; San Antonio; St. Paul; and Washington, D.C. As a parish priest, I shepherded in the dioceses of Stockholm, Sweden; Yakima, Washington; Birmingham, Alabama, and Chicago. For these last years, I have served as a chaplain for contemplative nuns and as an assistant to parishes, especially in Spanish-speaking ministry. Along the way, Paul VI named me a theological expert (peritus) at Vatican II, and the Dominican-run Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome made me a doctor of sacred theology (S.T.D.).


My special concern everywhere has been youth, children, and families. Central to my preaching and teaching are Jesus our merciful Savior, His beloved friends Mary and Joseph, and His love—the fire of his passionate offering of Himself for His Father and us His brothers and sisters through His Holy Spirit. Aging makes me more thankful for His many blessings, more sorrowful for my many sins, and more hopeful for my ongoing conversion. Please keep me in your prayers.

Father Don