One of the Greats

In the two-thousand-year history of the Church, only two popes enjoy the honorific “The Great,” according to Church tradition.  The fifth century pontiff, St. Leo is one of them (his sixth century successor, Pope St. Gregory, is the other).  Prior to his election as pope at the age of 40, St. Leo was already known as a great administrator and promoter of political peace.  When conflicts brokeContinue reading “One of the Greats”

Dr. Irenaeus

I remember years ago doing a little research to find out if my birthday was also the feast day of a saint.  When I found the answer, I said to myself in disappointment: “Who is St. Irenaeus?” As you read this, you might be saying the same thing. But these days St. Irenaeus has been making a big comeback.  Just a couple of weeks ago, Pope Francis announced hisContinue reading “Dr. Irenaeus”

Good Pope John

In October 1962, almost 60 years ago this month, Pope St. John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council.  The First Vatican Council had been cut short and left unfinished in 1870 by the War of Italian Unification.  Prior to that Council was the Council of Trent, which was the Catholic Church’s response to the crisis of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century.  Less than 20 yearsContinue reading “Good Pope John”

God’s Minstrel

This Monday, October 4, is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (1881-1226).  St. Francis is one of the most beloved saints in the Christian tradition, especially among the people of his native Italy.  An Italian friend of mine once joked that Italians love St. Francis best, then comes St. Joseph, then Padre Pio, then Jesus!  St. Francis captured theContinue reading “God’s Minstrel”

Hearing the Call of the Shepherd

In this Sunday’s gospel, Our Lord refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd, thus inviting us to consider the mystery of vocation.  The Second Vatican Council reminds us that there is a universal vocation to holiness, which means that every single person is called to be a saint.  For the sake of helping people respond to the universal vocation, we believe the Lord gives aContinue reading “Hearing the Call of the Shepherd”

The Mysticism of St. Patrick

As saints go, St. Patrick is underrated.  I think that’s especially true at this time of year when we see him everywhere, advertising green beer and corned beef sandwiches, waving the tri-color while holding his shamrock-covered crozier.  The real St. Patrick, who was responsible for the fifth century spread of Christianity in Ireland, was one of the greatest missionariesContinue reading “The Mysticism of St. Patrick”

Who Are These People?

The Mass can sometimes feel like this: a few readings from the Bible, a sermon, a collection, the priest saying a bunch of stuff while we kneel down, the Our Father, Communion, announcements, dismissal. If this is our experience of Mass, it might surprise us that the most fascinating part of it actually takes place during the part where the priest saysContinue reading “Who Are These People?”