Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán shares his reflections & experiences.

Holy week is around the corner

Welcome all to my weekly blog post!

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to speak at Temple Emanuel in Andover. Rabbi Robert Goldstein couldnt have been a more gracious host. The Jewish community had invited me sometime ago to speak at one of their regular Sabbath services. As it turned out, it was the day after the Anti-Defamation Leagues Nation of Immigrants Community Seder meal. This was merely by happenstance because these things are planned so far in advance.

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Rabbi Goldstein and I

It was the first time that Ive spoken in a synagogue in Boston. I had been invited to speak in synagogues in other dioceses, and I was happy to have my first opportunity to do it here. There was a very large congregation present also many Catholics came to be a part of the celebration, which was nice. It was an opportunity to bring Catholics and Jews together. Many of the priests in the area and the friars from Merrimack College have come to know the rabbi and were a part of the celebration.

One young lady in the congregation, by the name of Morgan, was preparing for her Bat Mitzvah so she did some chanting of the Scripture. She had great poise and Im sure that when that she was originally scheduled she had no idea there were going to be so many visitors in her synagogue! But she did it very well.

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Morgan chants the Scripture

The music at the service was beautiful. They had many instruments accompanying a youth choir.

Among the congregants there are Victoria Block and Steve Cooper, reporters from Channel 7. They were at the service and I had an opportunity to speak with them both.

Its important for us as Catholics to cultivate these friendships with the Jewish community and to work to achieve greater understanding and cooperation.

In my remarks to them I spoke of the influence of the Jewish traditions on our Catholic faith.

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Delivering my remarks

I began speaking about the holiness of the Sabbath: how in the Catholic tradition we have the Lords Day, which for us is the Sabbath, and that we share the same concept of giving a time to God and to rest. I also spoke about the Ten Commandments, the Psalms, the Scriptures, and of course the fact that Jesus and Mary, the Apostles and the first Christians were all Jews. I went on to explain how the Mass which is the most sacred thing that we have and the center of our lives is very much tied to the Jewish experience. The liturgy of the Word is very much based on the synagogue service, and the liturgy of the Eucharist coming out of Jesuss celebration of the Seder meal which he makes the context of giving us the Eucharist.

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I had a chance to meet many members of the congregation

I also mentioned the mezzuzah the Jewish community gave me in Fall River when I left that community, and I spoke about the relationship I had with them.

Of course, I still have that mezzuzah, though I havent put it up in the cathedral rectory yet. I did, however, have it on my door in Palm Beach. There was such a large Jewish population there that many people immediately knew what it was. My guess is that wont be the always case with many of the Irish Catholics here in Boston!

- – -

On Saturday, I joined the permanent deacons of the archdiocese for their annual convocation. Father John Gordon from Steubenbille gave several conferences for them.

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I had Mass with deacons and their wives. They had a magnificent choir. Im always blown away by the music the deacons are able to bring together. Its a choir of deacons and their wives, and they are just fantastic! I remembered it from last year. It was the same the choir was just fabulous.

Following the Mass I joined them for lunch and a time of dialogue.

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The deacons and their wives join me in prayer before our lunch together

We have a wonderful group of deacons and they are such an important part of the ministry of the archdiocese. We are grateful for their wives and families for making the sacrifice that the deacons ministry implies for the whole family. So many of the wives are very engaged in the apostolate.

- – -

The following day the Congolese community at St. Marys in Lynn invited me to celebrate the Sunday Mass with them. I was with our new deacon Deacon Charles Madi, who was ordained in January to the transitional diaconate.

They have a wonderful, vibrant community there. Some of the young African Jesuit fathers who are studying at Boston College celebrate Mass for them regularly and there is a lay woman, Jacky Kalonji, who serves as coordinator of the community.

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Following the Mass Jacky Kalonji made some kind remarks thanking me

I was very impressed with their celebration. I celebrated the Mass and preached in French. The songs were both in French and in their native language, Lingala. The music was beautiful, and the Mass lasted for around two hours. They said it would have been much longer, but in Lent they keep things more austere!

One of the most interesting moments of the Mass came at the time of the offertory. Rather than passing baskets through the assembly, the people come up in line together singing and put their contribution in the basket. It is certainly something interesting.

They have a wonderful choir of young people. The congregation was full ofyoung families withmany young children. Many of them live in Lynn. Msgr. Paul Garrity, the pastor at St. Marys, hosts them there.

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Meeting members of the community

After the Mass we had a luncheon. It was typical African food with fufu, cassava and plantains and more.

The community presented me with the gift of beautiful vestments in the African style. It was a wonderful present.

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My new stole, part of the vestments they gave me.
To my left is the community’s chaplain Father Donatien Mushi
and on my right is Deacon Charles Madi

- – -

On Monday, the Feast of the Annunciation, I visited our seminarians studying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. They all seemed to be doing very well. Four of them will be graduating and coming up to St. Johns seminary next year.

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Our seminarians at St. Charles Seminary as well as
Father Mike and Father Dan from our Vocations Office

I celebrated Mass and later had a dinner with the seminarians. The rector told me I could give them a free day so, of course, the were very happy.

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- – -

On Wednesday I attended a meeting in Springfield that was sponsored by the New England Conference for Catholic Education. Among those in attendance were all the bishops of New England, with all our superintendent of schools and several pastors.

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Our Interim Superintendent of Schools Sister Kathleen Fitz Simons

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Bishop Salvatore Matano of Burlington, Vermont speaks at the conference

There was a presentation by Father William Davis, Interim Secretary for Education at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He spoke of the document that the bishops have written on Catholic education. He also went through a great deal of statistics with us concerning such things as nationwide trends in Catholic education.

It was interesting to learn that 52 percent of Catholic schools in New England have waiting lists, something I wasnt aware of.

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Speaking to the media

We also looked at tuition trends. Many of the dioceses are in a situation similar to Bostons: They have conducted recent studies of their school systems and are now trying to reorganize to take some of the burden off individual parishes.

Another of the speakers was Mr. Dan Curtin of the National Catholic Education Association was another of those who spoke at the conference. Ive known him for many years. He was the principal from the school where I had the Spanish Masses in Washington DC when I was first ordained. He went from being principal there to being superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Washington and then on to the NCEA. Hes done a wonderful job.

- – -

It was very interesting that the same day the bishops were coming together and studying the situation of our Catholic schools, we had our major fundraiser for the Catholic Schools Foundations Inner-city Scholarship Fund which raised about $7 million to help inner-city children attend Catholic schools. Since we have a 99 percent graduation rate and a 97 percent of our graduates go on to higher education, it certainly is a priviledged way for children to find a way out of the life of poverty.

So we are very grateful to Peter Lynch, and Carolyn, his wife, and all those who work with the Catholic Schools Foundation to make this possible.

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Peter Lynch, ICFS banquet student speaker Sophia Occena,
Carolyn Lynch and Dr. Jerry Doyle

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Patriots player Troy Brown speaks at the banquet.
Troy is a trustee of the Catholic Schools Foundation

At the same time, we are working with the 2010 initiative, which is looking beyond just the scholarship money, but trying to improve the schools themselves and to help us to address the implementation of the Meitler study in a way that will be effective.

So many interesting things are happening for Catholic education in our archdiocese. On Thursday, I met with members of a search committee for a new secretary for education and we are beginning to review candidates. We are very committed to our Catholic schools, and we want our priests and people to see this as a very important part of our ministry a way of passing on the faith, a way of providing an excellent education for children. There are many different aspects to Catholic education that make it a very valuable ministry that needs to be supported not just by the parents of the children who are in Catholic schools, but by the entire Catholic community.

- – -

Its hard to believe it is almost Holy Week!

Holy Week is such an important part of our lives and certainly also for a significant group of people in our country who will be receiving the sacraments for the first time. They will be baptized and will be making their professions of faith as new Catholics.

All of us are called upon to renew our baptismal commitment during Holy Week.

On Tuesday we will gather with the priests at the Chrism Mass. On that day all priests renew their own priestly promises. We will also bless the oils for the sacraments, which is a sign of unity. All the oils used for baptisms, anointings of the sick, confirmations and ordinations that take place in the following year will be taken from those oils that are blessed by the bishop and with his priests at the Chrism Mass. Thats always, to me, a very significant moment in our year.

On Wednesday, we will have the celebration of Tenebrae. Its basically the praying of the psalms and the lessons from the breviary.

It takes its name from the fact that as the psalms are prayed we extinguish candles on a very large triangle called a hearse. Once the candles are all extinguished, the church is in darkness. Tenebrae means darkness in Latin.

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The Tenebrae hearse. You can see form the photo how large it is.

The liturgical books call for us to publicly celebrate some of the hours of office in Holy Week with the community, so we have chosen the Tenebrae as an opportunity to do that. Its been a popular practice in the Cathedral for the last three years.

Holy Thursday, of course, is so important as the day of Eucharist, the day of the ordination of the apostles, the day of Jesuss arrest. It is one of my favorite days of the week. We have Adoration until midnight in all our churches. It is edifying to see how many people come, particularly university students come from different campus ministries in large numbers to visit the Blessed Sacrament and pray.

Friday well have the afternoon services in English and then in the evening have them again in Spanish together with a procession through the housing projects in the neighborhood where we will pray the Stations of the Cross through the streets. Many people form the neighborhood participate.

And of course, the Triduum concludes with the Vigil and Easter Sunday. As in years past, I will celebrate the Easter Vigil at the cathedral.

I leave you with my photo of the week: a picture of the beautiful vestment given to me by the Congolese Catholic community in Lynn. I have included a close-up of the detail so that you can read the inscription. For those of you who dont speak French, on the top it reads, Jesus the good shepherd and below is written Jesus is my savior.

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Until my next post….

Have a blessed Passion Sunday and Holy Week,

Cardinal Sen

26 Responses to Holy week is around the corner


Comments

  1. Comment by martha therese | 2007/03/30 at 21:53:25

    I don’t go to church due to very painful experiences in the past with the Church’s authorities/figures, but I often visit your blog and to read your reflections on the Gospel. They slowly help me to reconnect with church and its people. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Many blessings for the Holy Week and may your Easter Sunday be fill with the Christ Risen One.
    mt

  2. Comment by Esther | 2007/03/31 at 01:10:49

    Mahalo nui loa for sharing in the life of your ministry Cardinal Sean. I really enjoyed reading today’s post as I do your others!
    God bless you always.

  3. Comment by dorothy a sheehan | 2007/03/31 at 01:49:48

    WE HAD A LOVELY PRESENTATION OF FORGIVENESS AT OUR CHARISMATIC PRAYER GROUP TONIGHT. WE HAVE TO FORGIVE IN ORDER TO BE FORGIVEN BY THE LORD. SOMETIMES IT CAN BE VERY PAINFUL TO FORGIVE, BUT WE WILL MAKE IT.

  4. Comment by Fr. Michael M. Camara | 2007/03/31 at 09:34:50

    Cardinal Sean: Want to wish you a very blessed holy week, and a joyous Easter. I enjoy reading your blog each week.

  5. Comment by michael g.b. | 2007/03/31 at 18:51:03

    Cardinal O’Malley,

    i just wanted to post this brif comment here . . . i’ve had a book since about 1986 which was written as a “spiritual/biography” of now Blessed Jacinta Marto – written by Christopher Rengers OFM Cap.– although i’ve read the book several times (as it is that kind of book which you return to over and over again and always seem to get a new insight or notice something that had slipped your attention in previous readings) . . . as i was reading it again recently i just noticed that the author of the book extends a “special note of thanks” to YOU! . . . i just wanted to say that it was so good to take notice of your association with such an inspiring writing about “The Youngest Prophet” — Jacinta Marto . . . along with Saint Therese of Lisieux, Jacinta is a most real and significant reflection of the two hearts; of Jesus and Mary. . . and Father Christopher Rengers has gifted us with a really reflective picture of Jacinta . . . and allows us to share even a glimpse into her thoughts and spirit . . . and just like my copy of “THE STORY OF A SOUL” . . . and “IMITATION OF CHRIST” . . . “THE YOUGEST PROPHET” has become an integral companion on this spiritual pilgrimage of “life”.

  6. Ann
    Comment by Ann | 2007/03/31 at 19:07:27

    Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I found your post most interesting and learned so much. God bless you in all the work you do. We are so very fortunate to have you for our Cardinal.

  7. Comment by fransua | 2007/03/31 at 20:14:32

    ?Y? PASKALYALAR

    BUONA PASQUA

    BONNE PAGUE HAPPY EASTER

  8. Eve
    Comment by Eve | 2007/04/01 at 08:41:25

    Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I have never been inside a synagogue. But I wish to, at least once in my lifetime.

  9. Comment by Arthur M. Rosen | 2007/04/01 at 09:41:34

    Cardinal O’Malley,

    I had the great pleasure of attending the Shabbat Dinner held in your honor at Temple Emanuel and of hearing your sermon that evening. Truly an historic moment, particularly when one considers the tragic history of our two communities. We are all blessed to have you in New England.

    Joyous Easter to you,

    Art

  10. Comment by Patricia Howes | 2007/04/01 at 18:52:04

    Dear Cardinal Sean
    Thank you for coming to St. James Parish in Haverhill last week for Fr. Robert Murray’s Installation.
    I told Father that I feel I have known him a long time and he has only been here six weeks.
    What a wonderful priest.
    Thank you for sending him to us.
    Blessed Holy Week and Happy Easter.

  11. Comment by | 2007/04/01 at 19:17:12

    A most blessed Holy Week Cardinal Sean and all who work with you,

    I never miss reading your blog and I try to make it known. Tomorrow I will be participing in the 6th annual SEDER meal at our Cathedral. All 160 tickets are sold at only $10.00 which goes to the Canadian Bible Society. All of the meal is provided for by local merchants. Oui, vous tes un trs bon berger, Jsus vous aime et moi aussi. L’anne prochaine Jrusalem! – disons-nous la fin du repas SEDER. Joyeuses Pques! Sr Ccile, Moncton NB, Canada

  12. Comment by Carl Kelly | 2007/04/02 at 18:41:22

    Dear Cardinal Sean O’Malley

    I want to express my gratitude for the Latin Mass availabe at Holy Trinity in the south End. I have been going there for the last two years, and feel very blessed in being able to participate in the beautiful prayers of the old mass. Of course I rely on the english translation to follow along, but sense a powerful link with centuries old traditional prayers. Many catholics in the diocese probably think those who attend this Mass are stick-in-the-mud throwbacks old and decrepit. Upon attendance they would be surprised to find that many parishioners are young adults and young families. thanks to an after mass coffee time I have made numerous friendships at this parish. This coffee hour has been a unique experience for me and presented me with many opportunities to grow in my faith. Much of the discussion that occurs after mass concerns catholic doctrine and church history. I would not be exaggerating to say that nowhere else in the diocese have I felt so accepted for believing in my faith. I am greatly saddened at the imminent closing of this Church.

    By now, Archbishop, you can surely guess at why I write. While I can understand the pressure upon the diocese to close churches, this Church is particularly important in my humble opinion. It’s German heritage includes the introduction of the Christmas Card into the U.S., and the Christmas tree. Also the Boston Symphony Orchestra was founded by a group of german musicians from Holy Trinity. This being the only latin mass in the diocese, ought to give impetus to preserve this precious heritage. Visiting catholics could be informed about the availability of the old latin mass. Some people (like myself) aren’t attracted to youth masses and guitars preferring chant music and quiet. Yes, this mass will still be available at a new location (Mary Immaculate), but if it “ain’t broke don’t fix it”, this crowd is particularly averse to change. Some parishioners have no vehicles and will therefore not be able to attend the mass of their preference. Some parishioners have told me they will attend the “schismatic” mass. This of course ought to be avoided at all possible costs. Some of this is momentary emotion, delicacy and sensitivity can heal some of this pain. Some of us will make the move. Some of us are appealling the decision reported to us by the brave Father Connell last weekend. Many are having trouble trusting a diocese which seems especially distant from this poor group of catholics, a group which has never been a full parish; daily mass has never been available, publicly recruiting parishioners has I’m told also been prohibited. A visit by your eminence could help immeasurably. This is a group dedicated above all else to remaining true to the deposit of faith entrusted to the magesterium. I trust you are aware it will not try to rewrite the faith to suit the times we live in. We will do all we can to protect the Catholic Church.
    By the way I am an artist. If Holy Trinity could in any way be kept open I am ready to donate much time refurbishing paintings and statuary, stations of the cross. I’m sure these closings have troubled you to no end cardinal, and I’m sorry to cause you more trouble but I felt compelled to say something about this imminent church closing. My prayers are with you.

  13. Comment by Marie Therese | 2007/04/02 at 20:41:07

    Your Eminence O’Malley

    Your visit at the congolese community was greatly appreciated by all us. It made it a special and historic event.
    Personally, I was overwelmed by your humility and kindness. I hope that you will gladly visit us again in the near future, this time, we will teach you the congolese welcome cry, I know you will enjoy it.

    thanks again

    Sincerely
    Marie Therese

  14. Comment by william stevenson | 2007/04/03 at 12:43:56

    Your Eminence,

    I have been attending Holy Trinity for a year now for the Latin Mass and I would ask that you reconsider it’s closing. I believe it is a unique church in its use of the Tridentine Mass and its being situated in the heart of Boston which makes it accessible to students and the elderly and to those with only access by the T. I have been impressed with it’s orthodoxy and the people there that are soldiers of the faith. This is not always true in many churches I have visited. As someone who is very interested in Catholiism I have been stopped in my journey with what I perceive as lukewarmness and heterodoxy in some congregants and sadly some RCIA directors and some priests. But I have found in listening to you and to the priests and congregants at Holy Trinity that there is a strength for the orthodoxy of the apostolic faith. I would hope and pray that you reconsider and keep Holy Trinity open. The city needs such a place.
    May in all things the Holy Spirit guide us,
    God bless you thank you for your standing strong for Jesus,
    William Stevenson

  15. Comment by Laura Larsen | 2007/04/03 at 13:19:57

    Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Thank you so much for today! I enjoyed the Chrism Mass more than ever before. It is most inspiring and renews or brings to new life something in each of us who are there. In reguards to blessings…I pray that I may always be as much of a blessing to each of you as you are to us.
    God Love You………………….Laura

  16. Comment by Fr. Roberto Mena, S.T. | 2007/04/03 at 16:36:15

    Thank God for your priesthood and to be a succesor of the Apostles. You are good role model for me as a priest of five years .

    Fr. Roberto Mena, S.T.
    http://www.parishworld.net

  17. Comment by Joan L. | 2007/04/04 at 12:48:25

    Thank you for your words on Catholic education. This past year, I was convicted that I (and many of us) had/have abandoned Catholic schools at the primary level. Many of us have bought out in the suburbs and bought the lifestyle that goes along with that – which most likely entails public school. Not that public school is inherently bad, but it doesn’t address the spiritual formation of the child at all.

    Our financial circumstances changed dramatically recently and we had to leave the suburbs and move to a cheaper housing market – back to an urban area. By the grace of God, there was a Dominican school in the neighborhood. This morning, my middle child bounded out of bed at 6:30am so he could go to Mass Club (Mass, then breakfast and some spiritual instruction from one of the Dominican sisters) at 7:00! I was sick and my husband had to go to work, so I let him go to Mass by himself (the church and school being two doors away).

    During my prayer time today, I just thanked the Lord for the blessings he is giving us in our children’s Catholic education. We can see the fruits even at the ages of 5 and 9 that a solid Catholic education can provide.

    There is much work to do in our Catholic schools, and it is my hope and prayer that we start to get serious again about Catholic education at all grade levels – not just as an entrance out of an impoverished life here on earth – but with an eye to the eternal.

    God bless you, Cardinal Sean. I pray that God continues to give you the strength and the wisdom to work on all the various fronts before you.

  18. Comment by Norman W. Vail | 2007/04/04 at 20:26:14

    Dear Cardinal Sean: In February, our Holy Father, responding to the gay and unmarried couples legal proposals in Italy stated that ” such legislation violates the NATURAL LAW, weakens the family and penalizes children”. As I have previously requested on this blog, why are we not hearing from you and/or others with teaching authority, particularly in Massachusetts, about the importance of the natural law ?
    Sincerely yours in Christ, and in the spirit of the widow before the unjust judge,
    Norm Vail

  19. Comment by Joumana Cafferty | 2007/04/04 at 21:21:57

    Dear Cardinal O’Malley,
    I attended your Mass celebration at St. Cecilia’s Church in Boston and was moved by your words: “We need to draw very close to Jesus and NOT stay at a safe distance, lest we deny Christ and betray Him…”
    May God help us stay very close to Jesus, especially in our battle to safeguard the faith and safety of our children and the future of our society.
    May God bless you richly!

  20. Comment by Myriam Frias-Dox | 2007/04/05 at 13:46:11

    Dear Cardinal Sean,
    May God bless you at this holy season of Easter!
    Vrolijk Paasen!
    Thank you for sharing your homilies, you nurture our souls every week.
    Always,
    Myriam

  21. Comment by Jim O’Leary | 2007/04/05 at 15:18:07

    I read your Blog regularly although I live in Corpus Christi, Texas. I bless the day I found it. Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia put me onto it. He posted today that yours was the best of all homilies in this Holy Week so far.

  22. Comment by rob duggan | 2007/04/05 at 17:29:36

    Dear Bishop Sean,

    If I knew where you celebrate mass, I would go.
    I have heard you share the gospel a couple times and I was honestly edified as never before especially by the joy, passion and zeal which is your gift to share with the church. Would you please consider posting a schedule on your blog or on the archdiocese website? Thank you, Christ be with you. sincerely, your little brother
    Robert Francis

  23. Comment by dorothy a sheehan | 2007/04/05 at 23:08:13

    a blessed easter to you and yours, Cardinal Sean.
    tell us what it was like to be in a hurricane in the West Indies.
    I am very interested. In l938, moons ago, i was in school, viewing a movie, entitled “Golgatha” in September (???)
    anyway parents were coming to take their kids home. I sat thru the whole movie. I lived in the other side of town and it was known later that my dad couldnt get thru town. so after the movie, I, as a kid, had sense enough to go to my aunt’s house.
    wind all over the place, live wires, trees down; i just jumped over all of them enroute to my aunt’s home. Had to stay overnite, since I had no choice. Never left anyplace but in my own bed in those days. But, I wasnt even afraid.
    dee

  24. Comment by George AA | 2007/04/06 at 08:32:55

    I am not sure if this is the right forum for this but here it goes…
    I want to express my gratitude to the Catholic Church and to Father John Madden at Saint John’s Church in Worcester. He has opened the doors of the Church and has provided is loving labor to help folks in all kinds of situations. I am a Catholic. I am honored and proud to be a Catholic, especially since my talk with Father John a couple of weeks ago. I have had a traumatic experience in my life as a very loved parent committed suicide when I was a child. I’ve carried a conflict with my faith and Church since then as back then I was told that suicide is a sin. I did not understand that and wondered were the love was in that harsh judgement. I could never accept that my loved parent had committed a sin with that act as the person I am referring to was mentally and emotionally ill. Had that person been alive at this time, that person may still be alive due to all the advances that have been made towards more effective treatment of mental illness.
    I spoke to Father John Madden about this and after all these years of my internal conflict and my silence and unwillingness to speak to any member of our beloved Catholic Church. Father John told me that suicide is no longer considered a sin under these kinds of circumstances, were there is clear evidence of mental illness. WHAT A RELIEVE! The love and understanding in Father John’s communication with me was so very welcomed.
    So…
    Thank you Father John and thank you Holy Catholic Church for your work and continued loving message. Christ has risen, God is Good and happy Easter to all.
    JY.

  25. Comment by Fr. Gregory | 2007/04/06 at 11:07:16

    Good Friday/2007

    Your Eminence: BLESS US! Thank you so much for taking the time to share with all of us…your efforts are greatly appreciated. May He Who is Risen continue to bless your archpastoral ministry!

    GOOD FRIDAY PRAYER:

    A Poem on the Passion of the Lord
    By Lactantius, 4th c.

    Whoever you are who approach, and are entering the precincts of the middle of the temple, stop a little and look upon me, who, though innocent, suffered for your crime; lay me up in your mind, keep me in your breast. I am He who, pitying the bitter misfortunes of men, came hither as a messenger of offered peace, and as a full atonement for the fault of men. Here the brightest light from above is restored to the earth; here is the merciful image of safety; here I am a rest to you, the right way, the true redemption, the banner of God, and a memorable sign of fate. It was on account of you and your life that I entered the Virgin’s womb, was made man, and suffered a dreadful death; nor did I find rest anywhere in the regions of the earth, but everywhere threats, everywhere labours.

    First of all a wretched dwelling in the land of Judged was a shelter for me at my birth, and for my mother with me: here first, amidst the outstretched sluggish cattle, dry grass gave me a bed in a narrow stall. I passed my earliest years in the Pharian regions, being an exile in the reign of Herod; and after my return to Judaea I spent the rest of my years, always engaged in fastings, and the extremity of poverty itself, and the lowest circumstances; always by healthful admonitions applying the minds of men to the pursuit of genial uprightness, uniting with wholesome teaching many evident miracles: on which account impious Jerusalem, harassed by the raging cares of envy and cruel hatred, and blinded by madness, dared to seek for me, though innocent, by deadly punishment, a cruel death on the dreadful Cross.

    And if you yourself wish to discriminate these things more fully, and if it delights you to go through all my groans, and to experience griefs with me, put together the designs and plots, and the impious price of my innocent Blood; and the pretended kisses of a disciple, and the insults and strivings of the cruel multitude; and, moreover, the blows, and tongues prepared for accusations. Picture to your mind both the witnesses, and the accursed judgment of the blinded Pilate, and the immense Cross pressing my shoulders and wearied back, and my painful steps to a dreadful death.

    Now survey me from head to foot, deserted as I am, and lifted up afar from my beloved mother. Behold and see my locks clotted with blood, and my blood-stained neck under my very hair, and my head drained with cruel thorns, and pouring down like rain from all sides a stream of blood over my divine face. Survey my compressed and sightless eyes, and my afflicted cheeks; see my parched tongue poisoned with gall, and my countenance pale with death. Behold my hands pierced with nails, and my arms drawn out, and the great wound in my side; see the blood streaming from it, and my perforated feet, and blood-stained limbs. Bend your knee, and with lamentation adore the venerable wood of the Cross, and with lowly countenance stooping to the earth, which is wet with innocent blood, sprinkle it with rising tears, and at times bear me and my admonitions in your devoted heart.

    Follow the footsteps of my life, and while you look upon my torments and cruel death, remembering my innumerable pangs of body and soul, learn to endure hardships, and to watch over your own safety. These memorials, if at any time you find pleasure in thinking over them, if in your mind there is any confidence to bear anything like my sufferings, if the piety due, and gratitude worthy of my labours shall arise, will be incitements to true virtue, and they will be shields against the snares of an enemy, aroused by which you will be safe, and as a conqueror bear off the palm in every contest.

    If these memorials shall turn away your senses, which are devoted to a perishable world, from the fleeting shadow of earthly beauty, the result will be, that you will not venture, enticed by empty hope, to trust the frail enjoyments of fickle fortune, and to place your hope in the fleeting years of life.

    But, truly, if you thus regard this perishable world, and through your love of a better country deprive yourself of earthly riches and the enjoyment of present things, the prayers of the pious will bring you up in sacred habits, and in the hope of a happy life, amidst severe punishments, will cherish you with heavenly dew, and feed you with the sweetness of the promised good. Until the great favour of God shall recall your happy” soul to the heavenly regions, your body being left after the fates of death. Then freed from all labour, then joyfully beholding the angelic choirs, and the blessed companies of saints in perpetual bliss, it shall reign with me in the happy abode of perpetual peace.

    Kissing your holy right hand,

    Humbly in His great mercy,

    Gregory, priestmonk, who asks for your holy prayers!

  26. Comment by Jason | 2007/04/06 at 15:33:04

    O felix culpa!

    Thanks for your service to the Archdiocese, Cardinal O’Malley, and thanks for coming into the 21st century with this blog. Hopefully the Bishops are able to use the mass media more effectively for their ministry and the Gospel.

    Have a blessed Easter!


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