My Friend, Bishop-Elect Steven J. Lopes

Yesterday, I received news via Facebook that my long time friend, a college friend I have known for 21 years, when I was in the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco, Steven J. Lopes, was going to be the first ever Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. To say that this news was exciting would be an understatement. Instantly, some of us used social media to spread the great news that one of our own, those who were in the original St. Ignatius Institute (1976-2001), had been elevated to Bishop. We were also text messaging each other to share the news. It’s my hope, once I talk to my boss, that I will attend his Mass of Ordination on February 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas.

I first met Bishop-Elect Lopes when we were undergraduates together from 1994-1997 (I transferred in Fall 1994). He lived down the hall from me on the 4th floor of Gillson Hall (a footnote: his roommate my first year is now a Benedictine brother). Since we would both graduate in 1997, we were in many of the same classes together in the St. Ignatius Institute. Even now, I can think of the many great times we shared in so many fantastic classes taught by Professors who truly loved their craft and their Catholic faith. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t give thanks for that Great Books Liberal Arts education.

Headshot - Bishop Steven Lopes

From the moment I met him, I can remember that he always desired to be a Catholic priest. He was a superb student and loved learning. Although my love for the Catholic faith blossomed while in college, and my academic conversion began, there was something different that separated him from me. For many of us that knew him in college, we had a feeling that he was destined to do great things for the Catholic Church. I look forward to speaking to him soon and hopefully seeing him in February. If I attend the Mass of Ordination, I will write more then.

For those of you that are not aware, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is essentially the Anglican Rite of the Catholic Church. Taken directly from their website it says,

“The Ordinariate exists for those who are and who will be coming into full communion with the Catholic Church. Through the reverence and beauty of our worship, study of sacred Scripture and charity for those in need, we desire to share the joy of being Roman Catholic! With respect and gratitude for the Anglican heritage that nourished us, we seek to build bridges with all our brothers and sisters who are drawn to the Church, so that we might build up the one Body of Christ.”

I would encourage you to read more about the Ordinariate. You might have a parish in your area that you could attend. Since they are part of the Catholic Church, just as the Eastern Rites (Maronite, Byzantine, Melkite, and others) are in the Church, a Latin Catholic (Roman) can attend these liturgies and receive Holy Communion on any given day when Mass is offered. There is a parish part of this rite about 90 minutes from where I live. It’s my hope to attend Sunday Mass there soon.

Also, read more about Bishop-Elect Lopes, although I know his background quite well, reading it is impressive. Here is the link for the Press Conference.

Do me a favor: Please pray three Hail Mary’s through the intercession of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary; for Bishop-Elect Steven J. Lopes has he begins his new ministry as Shepherd.

“Mondays with Mary” – Reasons Why We Should Honor and Imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary in Her Childhood

Since Saturday was the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I found it fitting to focus today’s “Mondays with Mary” on the words of St. John Eudes. In his book, The Wondrous Childhood of the Most Holy Mother of God, the 18th century saint meditates upon the childhood of the Blessed Mother examining different aspects of her life. For today’s post, we will read the exact words of the saint as he writes on reasons why we should honor and imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary in Her childhood.

First Point –

“Consider that we are obliged to honor the sacred Virgin in her childhood; firstly, because the twelve years of this sacred period contain in themselves almost an infinitude of greatness and holiness, which merits the highest honor, and will be for eternity the object of the praises of the inhabitants of heaven. Count the mysteries, the virtues, the thoughts, affections, words, actions and mortifications of this holy Child; reflect upon the holy use she made of the powers of her soul, and of her interior and exterior senses. You will find herein sufficient reasons for entertaining a singular devotion to her. For all that passed in the interior or exterior of this blessed Child was full of perfection and sanctity, and worthy of particular veneration.

Secondly, we should revere this admirable Child, because her infancy was a continual exercise of adoration, praise and love towards God. Since she was full of grace, she gave more glory to God by the smallest action than the first among the Saints by the practice of the most heroic virtues.

Thirdly, we should render all possible honor to this most holy Child, because all the virtues of her infancy were employed in preparing her to give us a Savior and to co-operate with Him in our salvation. May all these reasons urge us to a singular devotion and particular love for this amiable Babe.”

Presentation of the BVM #3

Second Point –

“Among other considerations, we must remark that we are indebted to the holy childhood of Mary for three great favors. Let us observe here that the Son of God when about to be born into the world could have created a virgin of perfect age and become incarnate in her. But His infinite goodness towards us obliged Him to choose for His Mother a daughter of Adam, thus to honor all the human race with three signal favors.

First, by this birth of the Infant Mary divine Bounty gave us two treasure of sanctity, St. Joachim and St. Ann, whom, otherwise we should not have had in their quality of father and mother of Jesus and Mary, and of their children.

The second favor is that by the birth of this holy Infant God bestowed upon the race of Adam another inestimable gift, an immense treasure of good, the holy and precious Mother of God, born or Adam’s race, our sister and our Mother.

The third favor consists in the treasure she has given us, the God-man, our Brother.

Weight all these three great favors God has given us in the birth of this most holy Infant, and let these considerations excite in us a great desire to honor Mary in every possible way.”

Third Point

“Consider that the Son of God wished His worthy Mother to pass through the state of infancy that she might given an example and rule of life which all Christians might follow. For all are obliged by the laws of the Gospel to be children in innocence, in simplicity, in humility, in obedience, and in all virtues. “Amen I say unto you, unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Give thanks to the Son of God for having given us an example so noble and so charming, and a rule so holy and so sweet. Venerate this divine example, and love this amiable rule. See if you have followed it in the past. Humble yourself and ask pardon for the shortcomings of which you have been guilty. Begin carefully to imitate the virtues of the holy infancy of your most holy Mother. Beg her to assist you to annihilate in yourself all that maybe an obstacle thereto.”

As we begin this week, let us ask for the grace and fortitude to follow the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary by honoring and imitating her in our daily lives. Let us also pray this week for those people in our lives who don’t understand Mary’s role in Salvation History and don’t respect her live when it comes to the life of Jesus Christ and ours.

The 50th Anniversary of Apostolicam Actuositatem

Today, November 18, 2015, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Decree on the Apostolate of the Lay People, Apostolicam Actuositatem. Along with this decree, we also celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. See my article on Dei Verbum at

This document like all the documents from the Second Vatican Council, take their name from the first words of the document itself. The first words – Apostolicam Actuositatem reflect the first sentence of the document, which says, “in its desire to intensify the apostolic activity of the People of God the Council now earnestly turns its thoughts to the Christian laity” [italics mine].

At first, the Council Fathers could not decide what name to give this decree, although many were suggested, they settled on the Apostolate of the Laity, even though many Fathers disagreed on the word apostolate because it was a word that was associated mainly with the priesthood in the 20th century. The primary purpose of this document was to examine how the laity of the Church, while remaining united to the hierarchy of the Church, could assist in bringing the Catholic Church to the modern world.

To conclude today’s blog post, I give you 10 quotes from this document. There are other gems of theological insight in Apostolicam Actuositatem, but these are the ones that out for me –

1. “The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth for the glory of God the Father, to enable all men to share in His saving redemption, and that through them the whole world might enter into a relationship with Christ. All activity of the Mystical Body directed to the attainment of this goal is called the apostolate, which the Church carries on in various ways through all her members”(#2).

2. “The laity derive the right and duty to the apostolate from their union with Christ the head; incorporated into Christ’s Mystical Body through Baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit through Confirmation, they are assigned to the apostolate by the Lord Himself”(#3).

3. Since Christ, sent by the Father, is the source and origin of the whole apostolate of the Church, the success of the lay apostolate depends upon the laity’s living union with Christ…”(#4).

4. “Strengthened by active participation in the liturgical life of their community, they are eager to do their share of the apostolic works of that community. They bring to the Church people who perhaps are far removed from it, earnestly cooperate in presenting the word of God especially by means of catechetical instruction, and offer their special skills to make the care of souls and the administration of the temporalities of the Church more efficient and effective…The laity should accustom themselves to working in the parish in union with their priests, bringing to the Church community their own and the world’s problems as well as questions concerning human salvation, all of which they should examine and resolve by deliberating in common” (#10).

Laity Vatican II cover

5. “Since the Creator of all things has established conjugal society as the beginning and basis of human society and, by His grace, has made it a great mystery in Christ and the Church (cf. Eph. 5:32), the apostolate of married persons and families is of unique importance for the Church and civil society. Christian husbands and wives are cooperators in grace and witnesses of faith for each other, their children, and all others in their household. They are the first to communicate the faith to their children and to educate them by word and example for the Christian and apostolic life. They prudently help them in the choice of their vocation and carefully promote any sacred vocation which they may discern in them” (#11).

6. “In loyalty to their country and in faithful fulfillment of their civic obligations, Catholics should feel themselves obliged to promote the true common good. Thus they should make the weight of their opinion felt in order that the civil authority may act with justice and that legislation may conform to moral precepts and the common good. Catholics skilled in public affairs and adequately enlightened in faith and Christian doctrine should not refuse to administer pubic affairs since by doing this in a worthy manner they can both further the common good and at the same time prepare the way for the Gospel” (#14).

7. “Bishops, pastors of parishes, and other priests of both branches of the clergy should keep in mind that the right and duty to exercise this apostolate is common to all the faithful, both clergy and laity, and that the laity also have their own roles in building up the Church. For this reason they should work fraternally with the laity in and for the Church and take special care of the lay persons in these apostolic works” (#25).

8. “The training for the apostolate should start with the children’s earliest education. In a special way, however, adolescents and young persons should be initiated into the apostolate and imbued with its spirit. This formation must be perfected throughout their whole life in keeping with the demands of new responsibilities. It is evident, therefore, that those who have the obligation to provide a Christian education also have the duty of providing formation for the apostolate” (#30).

9. “Schools, colleges, and other Catholic educational institutions also have the duty to develop a Catholic sense and apostolic activity in young persons. If young people lack this formation either because they do not attend these schools or because of any other reason, all the more should parents, pastors of souls, and apostolic organizations attend to it. Teachers and educators on the other hand, who carry on a distinguished form of the apostolate of the laity by their vocation and office, should be equipped with that learning and pedagogical skill that are needed for imparting such education effectively” (#30).

10. “The most holy council, then, earnestly entreats all the laity in the Lord to answer gladly, nobly, and promptly the more urgent invitation of Christ in this hour and the impulse of the Holy Spirit. Younger persons should feel that this call has been directed to them especially and they should respond to it eagerly and generously. Through this holy synod, the Lord renews His invitation to all the laity to come closer to Him every day, recognizing that what is His is also their own (Phil. 2:5), to associate themselves with Him in His saving mission” (#33).

If you have never read any of the documents from the Second Vatican Council, I suggest you read them. Far too many individuals misquote these documents simply because they have never read them. Along with this document on the laity, I would encourage you to also read Christifideles Laici, the Apostolic Exhortation promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II on December 30, 1988. With the help of the Synod Fathers, the Polish Saint picks up where Apostolicam Actuositatem concluded.

This blog post is dedicated to Fr. Daniel Pattee, TOR, Associate Professor of Theology; Director of Mission and Franciscan Charism at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He was the first who illuminated my mind to these documents. 

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: Sacred Scripture

As we celebrate National Bible Week in the Catholic Church here in the United States, I found this to be the perfect opportunity for a QLC on the Sacred Scriptures. National Bible Week encourages all Catholics to read the Scriptures more, especially since we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary tomorrow of the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council document on Divine Revelation known as Dei Verbum. To learn more about Dei Verbum, I would encourage you to read my article, which will be featured on Catholic Exchange on Wednesday, November 18.

For someone who did not begin to truly study the sacred page until his mid-20’s, I really have a love and devotion to the Sacred Scriptures and know how important they are when it comes to Theology as a whole as well as to the life of a Catholic. My passion for the Scriptures began in 2001 when studying the Book of Genesis through Gayle Somers’ Bible study program, Cor Ardens. When I was in graduate school for Theology at Franciscan, I took as many Scripture courses that were allowed to me just so I could have a deeper and complete understanding of the Scriptures. It was the best decision I made since now I run an Adult Faith Formation program that focuses on Bible studies.

Now that I have shared with you briefly my passion and background with the Sacred Scriptures, let’s turn our attention to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on the subject –

All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ, “because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ” (Hugh of St. Victor, De arca Noe 2,8:PL 176,642: cf. ibid. 2,9:PL 176,642-643). [#134]

“The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God” (DV 24). [#135]

God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he inspired its human authors; he acts in them and by means of them. He thus gives assurance that their writings teach without error his saving truth (cf. DV 11). [#136]

Interpretation of the inspired Scripture must be attentive above all to what God wants to reveal through the sacred authors for our salvation. What comes from the Spirit is not fully “understood except by the Spirit’s action’ (cf. Origen, Hom. in Ex. 4, 5: PG 12, 320). [#137]

The Church accepts and venerates as inspired the 46 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New. [#138]

Ignatius Press Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition

Ignatius Press Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition

The four Gospels occupy a central place because Christ Jesus is their center. [#139]

The unity of the two Testaments proceeds from the unity of God’s plan and his Revelation. The Old Testament prepares for the New and the New Testament fulfills the Old; the two shed light on each other; both are true Word of God. [#140]

“The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord” (DV 21): both nourish and govern the whole Christian life. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105; cf. Is 50:4). [#141]

For a more complete understanding of this topic in the Catechism, I would suggest you also read paragraphs 101 through 133.

I have written my fair share of blog posts on the Sacred Scriptures through this blog in the past. If you are interested in reading those previous posts, you can do that Here.

The famous quote in regards to the Scriptures by St. Jerome, the Father of Biblical Science, says, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” I would also encourage you to check out the blog post titled after St. Jerome’s quote on the Catholic Diocese of Arlington blog Here. It has some great resources for you when it comes to reading and knowing the sacred page.

As we conclude, let us remember the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his document Verbum Domini (Word of the Lord),

With the Synod Fathers I express my heartfelt hope for the flowering of “a new season of greater love for sacred Scripture on the part of every member of the People of God, so that their prayerful and faith-filled reading of the Bible will, with time, deepen their personal relationship with Jesus”.

“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Nanteuil (France)

In light of the recent attacks in Paris, France, I felt that need to write about a Marian devotion that focused specifically on Our Lady in France. Although today’s “Mondays with Mary” is not as popular as Our Lady of Lourdes or the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of Nanteuil is one the oldest shrines in the country going back to the late 1st century.

Tradition tells us that the first Christians in the area found a statue on the branch of an oak tree. Because it seemed to be an odd place, they removed the statue from the branch and put it on a wall close to a fountain. Impressed with their discovery of the Marian statue, they went to call their neighbors to show them.

After gathering their neighbors, they found out that the statue was not where they had put it, and hoped that nobody took it away. Some time later, the statue was found again in the original place the Christians found it – on the branch of the oak tree. They took this as a sign that Our Lady did not want the statue to be moved. Constructed around the oak tree, the first chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Nanteuil was built. In the twelfth century, a parish church was built to replace the very old chapel.

Although France would endure many struggles, the religious battles in the 16th century, and most tragically, the French Revolution, Our Lady of Nanteuil was nearly undisturbed. The one change that was noticeable on the statue at the time of the French Revolution was that the smiling face had now become a sad face. Some people even claimed to see tears coming from the eyes and rolling down the cheeks of the statue.

During the Revolution, a woman tied a rope around the neck of the statue and pulled it to the ground. The body broke apart but the head remain intact. Another woman looking for more loot threw the head aside. She was instantly punished with death.

Our Lady of Nanteuil Shrine

A good woman took the remains of the head and hid it until the French Revolution had ceased. At this time a new body was constructed and the original head was placed on top creating a new statue.

There are many miracles attributed to Our Lady of Nanteuil, but the one that is often recorded is of the little crippled boy. After three pilgrimages to the shrine, where his mother carried him from their home to their shrine and back again, the boy after the third trip was miraculously healed. Upon returning home, he was healthy and no longer crippled. The shrine gained a reputation of healing the sick, especially the illnesses of children.

Although many in France frequented the shrine, it was a favorite place to pilgrimage for King Louis XI, Venerable Olier, and Benedict Joseph Labre.

This week let us ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary under this title and the many other titles she has given to us to protect all citizens of nations that come under harms way due to terrorism. Also pray for the repose of the souls of those who were killed on Friday night as well as their families who are enduring this great trial and suffering at this time. Let us also remember the souls of those who were killed in Beirut, Lebanon.

Our Lady of Nanteuil…Pray for Us.

Our Lady of Lourdes…Pray for Us.

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal…Pray for Us.


Roman Catholic Saints (

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘The Marriage that Linked Joseph to Mary’

On Saturday, I attended the wedding of parishioners I met last year, since they both were in our RCIA and Adult Confirmation process at the parish. Now they are not only parishioners; David and Kristen have become friends who I frequently spend time with when we are all free. I was honored at their request when they asked me to read the First Reading (Tobit 7:6-14) and the Prayers of the Faithful at their Nuptial Mass. The Nuptial Mass was held at the parish and our Pastor was the main celebrant. It was a beautiful wedding made up of close family and friends.

So to honor David and Kristen today, as they began their life together in their sacramental covenant, I want to share a quick reflection on the marriage that linked Joseph to Mary. This comes from the book, Mary for Today, written by Hans Urs Von Balthasar.

Just to clarify for you the section before this one Von Balthasar speaks about the heritage of Israel as a bride to God, which culminated in the prophet Hosea taking a prostitute for his wife to show the people of Israel that what she does to him with other men, they do to God with false gods. Even though this occurred in the Old Testament, marriage was still seen as holy for it would be fulfilled not only on Mary and Joseph, but most complete with Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. He is the Bridegroom and the Church His Bride.

The section is divided into small sections for easier reading online. Originally it was one paragraph –

“Now perhaps we can understand better the kind of theological significance possessed by the marriage by Joseph and Mary. This marriage is not only necessary so that Mary’s child can count as the descendent of David but also in order to lead toward the fulfillment of the religious sense of Old Testament marriage. Joseph thus brings to completion the two tendencies mentioned above [previous section] but does so while crossing the threshold of the final and definitive covenant.

Marriage of the Virgin - Raphael

Marriage of the Virgin – Raphael

He brings to completion the fecundity of Abraham, who gave to God all the glory and understood his fruitfulness as a “resurrection from the dead” and thus allowed God to take over. For the husband whose life was centered on marriage this meant a renunciation on the basis of faith and at the same time a sharing in the virginal fruitfulness of his wife. Here Joseph is completely within the field of the New Covenant: physically can seem merely the child’s foster-father, but spiritually he has a very much more profound share in God’s fatherliness by assenting silently to the renunciation demanded by the angel. His hidden virginal fruitfulness should not be forgotten when Mary’s grace is seen its full light.

The marriage that linked Joseph to Mary is a model both for married people and for celibates in Christ’s Church. Admittedly this marriage points predominately backward; it is the completion of marriage as well as of prophetic obedience to Israel. It hardly points forward to the questionable ideal of “Joseph-like marriages.”

As you begin this Monday, pray through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph for all marriages; that Christ will always be the center and source for the couple’s love and devotion to one another. Pray that the Holy Family will give the grace needed for men and women to defend their marriages against all the attacks of the culture. Pray that marriages may not just reflect Mary and Joseph but Jesus Christ and the Church. Think Ephesians 5!

For further reading today, I would also encourage you to read – “Mondays with Mary” – Mary, Joseph’s Virginal Spouse and Spousal Gift of Self.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary, The Queen of All Saints

Since yesterday was the Solemnity of All Saints, the great feast where we celebrate not only the canonized Saints of the Church, but also the unknown saints that have reached the Heavenly Kingdom, I found it fitting to discuss Mary and her role with the saints through the words of a Saint – Pope St. John Paul II.

As many of you know from your own knowledge of the great Polish Pope, John Paul II had a profound devotion and love for our Blessed Mother. It was a passion even evident on his Papal Shield. In nearly every document that he wrote, in the 26 years as Supreme Pontiff, as well as in many of his speeches/teachings, John Paul II mentioned Our Lady nearly each the time.

For us as Catholics, her role as the Queen Mother is fundamental since it finds its development in the Sacred Scriptures (1 Kings 2). Although she is more Mother than Queen as Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen states at the beginning of his book, The World’s First Love, it still does not take away from the fact that her Queenship assists us, because in this role she serves as our Advocate to her Son, and our Savior, Jesus Christ. If you are interested and/or have never read any of my posts on Mary as Queen Mother, I would suggest you read the following post – The Queenship of Mary: 6 Blog Posts on the Marian Feast.

Now here are five dynamic quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Mary’s role as the Queen of All Saints –

“In order to live for Christ and no longer for ourselves, to collaborate in the ministry of reconciliation, to build the kingdom of God, we must bear the cross and follow Christ. Let us not be afraid to be signs of contradiction. Let us embrace the cross, confident that it is a “tree of eternal life,” trusting in the firm promise of resurrection. Together with the Virgin Mary and all the saints, let us build God’s kingdom here on earth, so as to able to live for ever with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” (Homily in New Guinea, 1994)

“Finally, I entrust you to the intercession of the holy martyrs of Nagasaki, and especially to the protection of Mary, Queen of Martyrs and Mother of the Church. She is indeed the Mother of All Christians, especially of those who lead the religious life, she who is so venerated in Japan as Edo no Santa Maria and as Our Lady of Otometoge.” (Address in Nagasaki, 1981)

Mary on the Throne - Giovanni Boccati

Mary on the Throne, Giovanni Boccati

“As we ourselves pursue every day the justice and holiness born of truth, let us look to Mary, Mother of Jesus, Queen of the Apostles, and cause of our joy. May St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and St. John Neumann pray for you, and for all the people who are called to serve in holiness and truth in the unity of Christ and his Church.” (Homily in Chicago, 1979)

“Our communion is a communion of prayer, in which we all draw strength from the whole praying Body of Christ. The activity of prayer is very much a part of the life of the Church, uniting us with the living and the dead in the communion of saints. The saints of God are our intercessors. In particular, the Mother of Jesus, who is the Mother of the whole Body, intercedes for all who have received life in her Son. Legions of Christians faithful fulfill an ecclesial role of inestimable value by praying for the Church and her mission. We count on all these prayers, and are especially grateful for the contribution of the sick and the suffering.” (Address in Rome, 1980)

“In of her apparitions to St. Catherine Laboure, our Lady said to the young sister – frightened by the greatness and the difficulty of the mission which had been entrusted to her – ‘It is here at the foot of the tabernacle that you must seek the strength and consolation!’ The heavenly Mother addresses the same words to each of you. With the Eucharist, near the tabernacle, may you be holy and fearless sisters, today and for the rest of your lives!” (Address in Milan, 1983)

Like so many of the Saints before him, Pope St. John Paul II desired to be a Saint. Let us through his intercessory prayer reach that same goal and become saints for Jesus Christ.

Mary, Queen of All Saints…Pray for Us.