Saturday, January 8, 2011
Sunday, January 2, 2011
The presentations by Susan Wills (The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure), Richard Doerflinger (Legislative Issues), Bishop Robert McManus (USCCB Healcare Directives) and Monsignor James Moroney (Praying for Life).
Pax et Bonum,
Saturday, January 1, 2011
My dear brothers and sisters:
If there's one lesson I've come to learn more and more it's that life is always changing around us. The seasons remind us of this, both the seasons of nature and the seasons of the Church's year. The one thing that remains constant is Gods infinite love for us and the sure footed shepherding of his Holy Church. But so much else changes.
Three years ago I was given the grace of being made your rector. It has been an honor and a joy. The perduring faith of the folks who gather around the Cathedral with the help of Saint Paul is one of the things that from generation to generation never seems to change.
But, as I'm sure you have noticed, the Cathedral has not been the only ministry to which the Church has called me. For these past several years I have also taught all of the Liturgy courses to the seminarians at Saint Johns Seminary and served as Executive Secretary of the Vox Clara Committee and responded to the calls of Bishops all over the United States and Canada to teach their priests about the new Roman Missal. It's been a lot.
It is for this reason that I began discussions with Bishop McManus several months ago in order to figure out how best this aging cleric can balance these multiple responsibilities. I am deeply grateful to Bishop McManus, to Bishop Kennedy, and Cardinal Pell for their kind support and guidance in this discernment process.
I am therefore happy to let you know that Bishop McManus will announce this week that, effective January 24th, that he is appointing me to the faculty of Saint John’s Seminary and to service as Executive Secretary of the Vox Clara Committee. While I will dearly miss the wonderful folks who go to make up the Cathedral Parish, my heart will never leave the Cathedral. This is the place I was ordained and the Church of my Bishop, and the Church of you, who will always remain close to my heart.
I am also delighted that Bishop McManus will be appointing Monsignor Johnson as Administrator of the Cathedral. You will be in very good hands, indeed.
Over the next several weeks there will be much more to say and many more opportunities for us both to prepare for this transition. In the meantime, as always, let us keep each other in prayer.
In the Lord,
Monsignor James P. Moroney
In the very beginning it was dark. So dark that chaos enveloped the earth. But with the breath of God, Fiat Lux, the sun warmed the day and the moon and the stars guided the night.
And each day since, we have been a part of a never-ending struggle between darkness and light. The darkness seeks to vanquish the light...the powers of darkness seek to return us to the primordial chaos from which God has delivered us.
But God’s creative love perdures. As a pillar of light leading us into the promised land.
And in the fullness of time, a star leads wise men to him who is the light of the world, who through the blinding light of his paschal dying and rising vanquishes the darkness of sin, and even of death. So that we never need be afraid of the dark, ever again.
That light found a home deep within each one of us on the day of our Baptism and we will be judged some day on how well we have kept that light burning. He who is light will look deep within our hearts to see if that flame has survived the onslaughts of those dark forces with which we do battle every day and whether our lamps are still burning brightly with his love.
For if they are, our souls will be joined to the lights of heaven to illumine a shining city on a hill for all to see we. If are illumined by his truth and let his mercy shine on all who hate us, then the powers of darkness and death don't stand a chance.
For in the end, when there will be no more need for the sun or the moon or the stars, the Son of God will be our light, as the heavenly Jerusalem, our final home, gleams in his reflected splendor for all eternity.
Light dispelling darkness is our hope, our choice, and our destiny.
Monsignor James P. Moroney
Friday, December 24, 2010
Before the first star twinkled,
Before the first child giggled and smiled,
Before the ice first froze,
or the first fire crackled with warming light,
Before all that,
HE LOVED US:
He loved us so much he gave us a garden. With every kind of natural beauty within it! And we, with Adam and Eve, sold it for an apple!
When’s the last time you stopped to see the exquisite beauty of the softly falling snow on the evergreens of the Adirondacks? When’s the last time you were thrilled by the sound of the wind through the trees, sounding like God’s voice, still whispering to his world, “I am here…all around you”? How often we ignore his beauty: the beaut of the paradise we are given, refuse the gift and sell the apple.
He loved us so much he gave us people to love. From the side of Adam he carved out another human being, so that man and woman could love each other and children could be born in a sanctuary of love. He created us to love in purity and truth, and we responded with betrayal, abuse, and abortion, and more concern for money and for passing pleasures than for life-long life.
He loved us so much he built us a Peaceable Kingdom. And we abandoned it for selfish violence and hate.
Not just in wars, for those are usually out there…but by the hatred born of callous disregard that does violence to others reputations through gossip or neglect, and the awful violence we do to each other when we refuse to love others and to care and even to listen.
Now if you were God,
and someone had rejected all your gifts,
you’d probably have done with them.
Tell them to go away!
But as we sneered at him,
as we sinned our way to selfishness,
he sent us an even better gift:
his only Son….born for us as a little child,
to lead us back…
Back to the Garden
Where everything is put at the service of God,
Where truth is not invented, but received,
Where we are not the masters, but the caretakers of God’s gifts.
Back to the meaning of love
A love that gives unto death, without thought of taking,
A love that rejoices in suffering for the beloved,
A love that is faithful, and fruitful, and ready to sacrifice,
Back to the Peacable Kingdom
Where the other cheek is turned,
Where when they ask you for your coat, and you give your shirt too,
Where shepherd are king and the poor are blessed.
A garden of joy, people to love, and a world at peace…
These are the gifts we are offered on this Christmas night…paradise restored!
And on the day after Christmas, when the gift wrap is in the dumpster,
what will we do with God’s gift?
Will we use it for his glory?
Will we take joy in all the wonders God has placed around us?
Will we be good stewards of his good creation?
And throughout the coming year, what will we do with God’s gift?
Will we vote for God’s truth or for our convenience?
Will we seek the ways of peace or of power?
Will be build up God’s kingdom or our own?
And in the car on the way back home in the car tonight, what will I do with God’s gift?
Will I forgive that stupid thing that so ticked me off on the way up here?
Will I embrace my little needs or the heart of the one sitting next to me?
Will I be the instrument of peace that begins not with worldwide negotiations?
but with me?
For you see, this story, which began with Adam and Eve and reached its climax in a little manger ‘neath the Bethlehem star, continues in Worcester tonight. It is your story! And tonight, the rest of the story just begins!
Monsignor James P. Moroney
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Almost a hundred and fifty years ago, a young student of theology, his father was a Lutheran pastor, began to reflect on the meaning of the new scientific study of the sacred scriptures. Contradictions in details about the life of Jesus among the various Gospel accounts, first attempts to trace the development of the New Testament from oral to written forms in various communities, and a growing skepticism which emerged from post rationalism, all drove young Frederick Wilhelm to begin to doubt that there was a God at all.
He would go on to be a famous philosopher and was the first to use the term Gott ist tott, or God is dead. Of course, what he meant was not that God had lived and died, but that God never was. That he was a figment of our imagination, but a fulfillment of our longings, and an incarnation of our dreams.
Such a view lies, I would suggest, at the heart of most of our society’s problems today. For if there is no God, no creator, there is no sense to it all...no cosmic or physical order, no absolute values, no objective and universal moral laws. There is nothing...nihil....only me and you.
And everything, in such a vast wasteland, is up for grabs. My behavior is determined not by trying to do what is right, but by what is expeditious. My goal is not giving, but taking as much as I can. My purpose in life is to die with the most toys and have the most fun whole accumulating my fortune.
Such a hellish secular wasteland is characterized by alienation, aloneness, and a seething sense of rage....is that all there is? ....cultural referents....
Is there anything more desperate, pathetic, or fearsome than to see myself alone and afraid, the breath sucked out of me by the meaningless of it all, my future filled only with the prospect of fear and trembling and sickness unto death.1
Which is why we so desperately need Christmas. For it precisely into the cold, stark desolation of the darkest nights of our souls that God comes. And not just as a visitor or a stranger. No, he takes on human flesh, he becomes one of us in all things but sin in the ultimate act of love.
Nietzsche was wrong. Dead wrong. For God is as close to us as the breath he created, the heart he makes to pump with blood, and the desires and joys which flood every sinew of our being.
God not only is, but he is Emmanuel. He is God with us. We have seen him and heard him and he has touched us. We eat his body and drink his blood. He forgives our sins and anoints us with healing oil. He joins us in marriage and ordains us as Priests, he baptizes us in the saving waters and saves our lives. He destroys death and sin and sadness and will raise us up on the last day.
Last week I spent some days in a pre Christmas retreat. And one morning, sitting on the hard wooden pew of a Church I've been visiting for the past forty years, I stopped my prayer and I stared at the little red light by the tabernacle. I've been staring at that light for most of my life. As a curious little kid about to make his first Holy Communion, as a rumpled long haired teen, as a searching young adult, as a seminarian in a country far from home, as a young priest, and all through the years. I've changed, the world has changed, everything around me has changed, except for that little red light and he who dwells in the tabernacle beside it. He lives here in this Church and in my heart and in my life. I know his consoling presence and the challenge of his Gospel. He is my life, my hope, my salvation and my joy. I know him and he lives!
He is Emmanuel. As real as a baby in a crib. As real as a man on a cross. As real as the Lord risen from the dead. As real as the Christ who will return on the last day to lead us home.
Which is why this season is such a wonder. In the depths of winter, when darkness and cold and black ice are all around us, threatening us, tempting us to despair, and trying to convince us that Gott ist tott, the sun of justice rises and leads all wise men to a little child in a virgin's arms. And suddenly we see his light at it's rising and we know that we are not alone...that we will never be alone, ever again.
For the last ten years of the nineteenth century, Frederick Nietzsche suffered a series of mental breakdowns, finally dying silently in the care of his sister Elizabeth. While no one will know if his mental state was genetic or related to his philosophical speculations, one of his contemporaries lamented at Nietzsche’s death that a man who makes himself God can only go mad.
May God have mercy on Frederick's soul. And on all the lost souls who continue to believe that God is gone, and we are alone.
For we profess not simply happy holidays in the midst of a cold spell, but Emmanuel, God incarnate, the Christ, the Messiah, the king of the universe, who became flesh for us in Bethlehem, who was deified and rose for us in Jerusalem, that we might know how to live and love and cling to in Worcester all the days of our lives.
Monsignor James P. Moroney
Sunday, December 12, 2010
A Homily for Saint Lucy's Day
Each year, just twelve days before Christmas, we celebrate one of the most ancient feasts of the Church.
The commemoration of the martyrdom of Saint Lucy goes back to Fifth Century, and she is one of the first Saints to be remembered in the Sacred Liturgy.
Her story dates from the early Third Century, when the practice of the faith was still banned in most of the Roman empire. Few dared to profess a belief in Christ, lest they be tortured and killed by Emperors like the cruel Diocletian.
Few, save the martyrs that is, and one of the bravest of them all was Saint Lucy. Lucy, it seems, was forcibly married to a non-believer, who turned her in to the authorities for her belief in Christ. When they came to kill her for refusing to the worship the Roman gods a strange thing happened. While she was but a wisp of a girl, they could not move her. It was like she had been glued to the floor or that she weighed a few tons.
But that did not stop them. They tortured her on the spot with unspeakable torments, even blinding her. But still she did not renounce the Lord she loved. She professed her belief in him even unto death.
So Lucia, whose name means light, had her human sight taken from her, but even without her bodily eyes, she never stopped seeing the light that shines from the face of Jesus. It is the light which God created from the darkness and the chaos at the beginning of time, the light that led the chosen people from slavery into freedom, and the light which will illuminate the streets of the heavenly Jerusalem at the end of time. You remember that from the Book of Revelation: There will be no need for the sun or the moon or the stars, for the Lamb will be the light which will illumine the golden streets.
It was Lucy’s ability to see the light, even once she had lost her physical eyes, which inspired the tradition, observed even to this day by young Scandinavian women, of wearing a wreath of evergreens adorned with lit candles on their heads on Lucy’s day.
It’s not unlike the tradition of placing lights on an evergreen tree, real lights...real candles, as I used to observe when I was a seminarian forty years ago traveling through Germany on Christmas holiday. There was a little bed and breakfast by the train station in Munich where we used to stay...and every morning the daughter of the innkeeper would come down to the breakfast room and light the little white candles on the ends of each branch of the Christmas tree.
The evergreen, of course, was used in the medieval passion plays at which they would tell the story of Adam and Eve. That’s where the ornaments come from...from the red apples which would hang on the tree, ready to serve as the forbidden fruit for those taking the parts of Adam and Eve.
But even after the story of the Fall was over, the tree would remain on stage, as the birth of Jesus was acted out, for which the stage manager would add little lit candles to the branches already adorned with red apples....signs of the light of Christ come into our life under that star-studded sky in the fullness of time.
The evergreen is the only tree to keep its needles all through the winter snows. So then does it become a sign of the life which endures even through the passion and the winters of our lives, awaiting the resurrection on the last day. All because it is covered by the victorious light of him who defeated death by death on a tree...he who is our light, or in the words of the ancient Collect for midnight Mass at Christmas:
O God, who have made this most sacred night
radiant with the splendor of the true light,
grant, we pray,
that we who have known the mysteries of his light on earth
may also feast on his joys in heaven.
So, too, do the girls whose heads are surrounded by evergreens and lit candles in Churches throughout Sweden today anticipate the light of Christ which will soon dispel the longest hours of darkness that the Scandinavian people would have to endure during the entire year.
So, too, Saint Lucy reminds us who dwell in all kinds of darkness (the darkness of sin, the darkness of fear, the darkness of death) that the light of Christ will soon shed its warmth upon us once again. We need only see it with the eyes of faith, and we will know the beauty of his face.
Like the magi, the ones to whom the prophet Balaam today promised a star, may we seek his coming by looking for the star which will rise at his coming, not just in the skies to be seen by these eyes, but which will rise in our hearts and lead us to him who is our Savior and our Lord. Come Lord Jesus!
Monsignor James P. Moroney