Our Lady of Perpetual Help

In 1882, there was a terrible outbreak of smallpox in the small nation of Haiti.  Over the course of several months, tens of thousands of Haitians died of the disease.  The epidemic was made worse by a drought that was unusually long for the tropical island.  On February 5, 1882, Archbishop Alexis Jean-Marie Guilloux gathered the people to the church of St. Francis Xavier in the Bel-Air neighborhoodContinue reading “Our Lady of Perpetual Help”

The Assumption

It is a very unusual thing not to be celebrating the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time this weekend.  Instead, this Sunday the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This is unusual because Sundays have a privileged place in Catholic liturgy.  Sunday is the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, the day on which Christ rose fromContinue reading “The Assumption”

Understanding and Misunderstanding

I’ve been re-reading a book by Caryll Houselander called The Reed of God, which is a really beautiful book filled with great insights into the spiritual life, with the Blessed Mother held up as the spiritual master par excellence.  In the chapter entitled “Fiat,” Houselander writes about the effect of our surrendering ourselves to the will of God, noting that it simultaneously brings both greater understanding and greaterContinue reading “Understanding and Misunderstanding”

Learning Our Prayers

Priests have the privilege of being with people as they near the ends of their lives.  Some of the people I’ve helped prepare for death spent their whole lives active in the Church, some were less active, and a few were resistant to the idea of seeing a priest and receiving the sacraments.  I remember one gentlemanContinue reading “Learning Our Prayers”

The Magnificat

When the Virgin Mary consents to the news from the Angel Gabriel that God had chosen her to be the Mother of the Savior, the Gospel of Luke tells us that, after the angel departed, she made haste to the hill country of Judea to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  Gabriel had told her that her cousin was also miraculously with child.  Before this, Elizabeth had beenContinue reading “The Magnificat”

The Immaculate Conception

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is the feast in which we celebrate the special grace given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was preserved from the stain of Original Sin from the moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, St. Anne.  The life of grace begins for you and me atContinue reading “The Immaculate Conception”

A Motherly Heart

I remember reading a biography of St. Maximilian Kolbe in which those who knew him during his life described him as having a “motherly heart.”  It sounded like a strange way to describe him, but, based on their accounts, to be in the presence of Kolbe was to be consoled, such that, whatever burdens you were carrying around within you were lifted away – even the terrible burdenContinue reading “A Motherly Heart”