Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Before we leave the month of November 2010, it would be well to remember again that this month is dedicated to all of the Faithful departed, “those gone before us marked with the Sign of Faith.” Praying for the deceased is one of the spiritual works of mercy. This day let us especially remember those loved ones of ours who have been called to the Lord this past year. I would remember here today one more time, Mr. Phil Record of St. Bartholomew’s parish here in Fort Worth. Phil was husband, father, grandfather and a great communicator, journalist, reporter, teacher, and mentor to many. He was a great personal friend and confidant to me, and a help in many ways when I first arrived here. Above all, his commitment to his parish of St. Bartholomew here in Fort Worth, and other parts of the life of our local Church, exemplified what he was before all else: a man of Faith, who took that faith with him to his job and life, and did not leave it just to Sunday. Requiescat in Pace. AMEN.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 9:10 PM
In the Office of Readings for this day, St. John Chrysostom, one of the great preachers and Bishops in the Patristic Age, says that “After Andrew had stayed with Jesus and had learned much from him, he did not keep this treasure to himself, but hastened to share it with his brother. Notice what Andrew said to him: We have found the Messiah, that is to say, the Christ. Notice how his words reveal what he has learned in so short a time. They show the power of the master who has convinced them of this truth….He brought his brother to the very source of light, and Peter was so joyful and eager that he would not delay even for a moment.” This homily of St. John Chrysostom should inspire us in our bringing the message of Christ in joy, and without delay, like St. Andrew, by our lives and words to those whom we meet, especially on this his feast day. This is important for all involved in the ministry of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, and for the building up the Body of Christ. In reading the responses of those coming to the Church through the RCIA in recent years, how often did the example of other Catholics reflect the words of St. John Chrysostom when he said that Andrew “did not keep this treasure to himself, but hastened so share it with his brother.” ?
These words also illustrate an icon I bought many years ago which featured Andrew and Peter embracing each other. St. Andrew, along with St. Helena, St. Veronica, and St. Longinus, are the four massive statues of Bernini that surround the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica on the Vatican Hill. Because St. Andrew also has a prominent position in the Churches of the East, he and St. Peter teach us, how in the words of Pope John Paul II, the Church must breath “with both lungs” (the East and the West).
Personal congratulations and prayers and best wishes to the parish of St. Andrew in Fort Worth, under the leadership of the Franciscan Friars TOR from Loretto, Pennsylvania and a very capable parish and school staff. St. Andrew’s, as with the other parishes in our Diocese, has many dedicated and committed parishioners.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 3:22 PM
Before I begin these reflections for today, I would like to reiterate once again what was mentioned in the Press Release for this new venture of this personal “Web Log.” I had been thinking about this for some time, and was encouraged in this by a number of collaborators and friends in our Diocese and elsewhere. My initial thought was “When am I going to find the time to do this with everything else that is necessary?” Yet, I do enjoy writing and teaching, and praying and reflecting on this, it seemed that this venture would also be a way of a immediate format, in addition to the monthly column in the North Texas Catholic. My friend Bishop Ron Herzog gave a very thoughtful presentation on the importance of social media at the recent USCCB meeting, as did Rocco Palmo at the recent Dallas/Fort Worth University of Dallas ministry Conference. I also believe that this is another way to promote what I called a “spirituality of communion” which is so much in the writings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. This is also another way of living what is called the “New Evangelization.” As I write these reflections, I certainly write them above all in a sense of gratitude to the Lord for the many blessings of these over five years here now in North Texas. So, in this new Church year, this new year of grace, this is a new moment and venture –not only for me—but for our Diocese and beyond.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 2:53 PM
The Eternal City lives, breathes and prays history, the living history of the Body of Christ here in the West. As an example of this, we have been staying at the Casa Santa Maria dell' Umilta', on Via dell' Umilta' 30, which is the graduate house of the North American College in Rome, and the residence of priests, mostly from the U.S., who are pursuing graduate degrees at the various Pontifical Universities in the Eternal City. It is a house of study, prayer, and priestly fraternity. Msgr. Francis Kelly, of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, has asked me to be the principal celebrant of the house Liturgy on Thanksgiving Day. The building we in which we are staying dates back to the 1500's, and was initially a monastery for Dominican Nuns, then Visitation Nuns, and then was given to the United States Bishops for a College in Rome by Pope Pius IX. After the Second World War, a new North American College was built on the Gianiculum Hill, and this venerable house became the graduate house of the North American College. It was indeed my home from l981 through l985, when thanks to the goodness and life of Bishop Joseph McNicholas of Springfield, Illinois, I was sent to live here at the "Casa" and study Canon Law at the Dominican University of St. Thomas Aquinas (The "Angelicum"). Here, I truly grew up as a Catholic priest, when the presence of Christ was shown to me in our Masses, prayer, study, and the priestly example of so many of my fellow students. I value many of these friendships to this day. There are at least 18 Diocesan Bishops now active who studied here at the same time as me. Many other priests, religious, and lay men and women were my fellow students at the Angelicum at that time. Those moments of grace and blessings from that time truly sustained me in other times of ministry. I have come to understand what Pope Benedict meant when he said to the new priests of the Diocese of Rome in 2006, "The only legitimate ascent towards the shepherd's ministry is the Cross."
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 7:52 AM
Monday, November 29, 2010
This evening, as I sit at my desk in my living room at St. Patrick's Cathedral, overlooking this part of the revitalized downtown Fort Worth, I have been going through the Advent-Christmas volume of the Liturgy of the Hours which I had put away at the end of the Christmas season last year. I found a note from that a priest-friend of mine had sent me last year at this time. It was a blessing to reread it. In his note to me he said that "The word Advent means coming. It is a time in which we await the coming of our Lord. The coming of He who is in fact always with us, but who also desires to come to us and be with us in ever new and more glorious ways". But as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us "in a certain sense the Lord always wants to come through us". And so HE makes his dwelling within us, entering the hearts of all people...This is the invitation of this blessed season: to recognize, receive and reverence the presence of Jesus Christ as He comes here and now through each other so we can all be together in Him when He comes in glory." I read these words at the end of the day on the First Sunday of Advent as I pray Night Prayer. I remember the sense of communion with Pope Benedict XVI and the Universal Church as we prayed during our Holy Hour for Nascent Life with the rest of the Church.
I remember the beautiful singing and praying of our revitalized Choir and the great crowd of people present at 11:00 AM Mass this morning at St. Patrick's Cathedral. I remember the new baby boy who I baptized at St. Michaels Church in Bedford, Texas this afternoon and the people present as I blessed the renovated parish Hall and the new classrooms at St. Andrew's Church here in Fort Worth. We approach their parish feast day with gratitude for the generosity of the people in this parish together with Father Tom Stabile TOR and the other Friars here.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 6:09 AM
Sunday, November 28, 2010
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 8:03 AM
Studying in Rome is a lived experience of ecclesial communion, both with the Body of Christ of the present day and the Body of Christ in eternity. Living and studying with priests from all over the United States and with religious priests and laity from all over the world one quickly learns that the life of the Church in the United States is but one small dimension of that same Body.
While walking through the streets of Rome and praying in the various Churches and chapels we are united with the "holy men and women of every time and place" who live in both the lights and shadows of human and ecclesial history. For example, when I first arrived last week, Father Isaac Orozco, Father John Robert Skeldon, Father Jonathan Wallis (a priest of our Diocese who is a student here at the Gregorian University) made a visit to the Dominican Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva near the Pantheon. Here we were not only walking over the ancient Roman temple of Minerva but were praying in a Gothic Church of the Friars Preachers. We were praying within the history of the Dominican Order. Moreover, behind the altar are buried Pope Leo X (who excommunicated Martin Luther) and Pope Clement VII ( who excommunicated Henry the VIII). So in that space you could say that we were also in the presence of Reformation history, as well as all of attendant spiritual and political struggles at the time.
In this same Church we were also in the presence of the body of St. Catherine of Siena, the great Dominican reformer of the 14th century. Nearby one can find the tomb of Fra Angelico, whose frescos all over Italy proclaim the greatness of the Lord and His Saints. All of this happened together and only in the city, which is truly eternal, can this timeless experience of communion with the Body of Christ be had.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 7:45 AM
Saturday, November 27, 2010
In these days I have been in Rome with Father Isaac Orozco, Fr. Jonathon Wallis and Father John Robert Skeldon. Msgr. James Anderson, professor of theology at St. Mary's Seminary in Houston, Texas met us and is with us. We came for the Consistory for the new Cardinals, in particular for Raymond Cardinal Burke of the Apostolic Signatura and Donald Cardinal Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. Cardinal Burke and I were studying Canon Law at the same time during the early l980's and he was most supportive during my early years as a priest and we have remained good friends. I am grateful to him for his priestly support and friendship. He was one of the "Co-consecrators" at my Episcopal Ordination. I have been privileged to serve with Cardinal Wuerl on the International Dominican Foundation Board and now on the U.S. Bishops' Committee to oversee the establishment of Anglicanorum Coetibus here in the United States. He is a great teacher and catechist, and it is an honor to serve with him.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 10:20 AM
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
During the first day of the Conference assembly and again on Tuesday, we had some time to hear a report on the situation of the Iraqi Christians. The senseless slaughter of so many of them in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Deliverance in Baghdad. I would ask you to refer to the full text of Cardinal George's letter to President Obama. We also heard sad and moving testimony from the Eparch of the Syriac-Antiochean church here in the United States. Bishop Kicanas spoke of the plight of these refugees when they have come to his Diocese. The Eparch held out his arms and said that we in the United States need to be the light and hope to these ancient Christian families in their desperation. He also spoke in a way that moved many of us nearly to tears when he spoke of the deliberate attempts, he believes, to drive Christians from the Middle East.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 8:52 PM
Saturday, November 13, 2010
On Friday evening, November 12, I was in Philadelphia attending the Catholic Leadership Institute's 2010 awards for Outstanding Catholic Leadership. Two of the well deserved honorees, Matthew Kelly and Mother M. Assumpta Long OP are familiar to many here in North Texas. The mission of the Catholic Leadership Institute, in their own words is "to build Catholic leaders for today and tomorrow. We empower people with the finest leadership skills and tools to help them reach their God-given potential as Catholic leaders and Christian witnesses in their family, workplace, community and Church." Over 650 people were in attendance, and I was honored to give the closing prayer that evening. The work of Catholic Leadership Institute is growing nationally. We are grateful that in our Diocese our priests are participating in their program entitled "Good Shepherds, Good Leaders" to enhance and strengthen their ministry. I am participating in their program for Episcopal leadership which bears the same title. This requires our priests being out of the parishes for several days at a time. However, it is an investment and blessing for them to spend time together in reflection and prayer. They are learning how they can best lead and pastor so as to hear the voice of the "Good Shepherd".
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 5:37 PM
This past month I began a custom which I plan on taking into the new year, that is, meeting with various apostolic groups and "movements" which are active in our Diocese. We have been meeting for lunch at the Cathedral and then visiting afterward for some time. In this way, I hope to learn a little more of their important apostolic activity, and in turn to offer some direction how they can help the Diocese and build up what can be called "ecclesial communion'. In October, for example, I met with the Third Order Franciscans, and early in November I met with members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. My hope is to have a celebration representatives of all of these groups around the time of Pentecost Sunday.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 8:11 AM
Thursday, November 11, 2010
On November 10, 2010, I celebrated Mass at St. Joseph's parish in Arlington, Texas for the students of Holy Rosary School. This feast of St. Leo the Great. Concelebrating the Mass with me was Father Dan Kelley, the pastor of St. Joseph. This day is one of the many Saints days in the month of November where the lives of the Saints teach us of our relationship with the Lord and His people. For example, the life and ministry of St. Leo the Great as the Bishop of Rome during the time of the disintegration of the Roman Empire in the West, gives witness to the necessity and blessing of the Vicar of Christ for the entire Church, especially in difficult times. We can also reflect on this month St. Martin of Tours, St. Josaphat, St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Elizabeth of Hungary, to name a few. The blessing of all of the Saints of this month, in a month dedicated to All Saints and All Souls reminds us of the words of Pope Benedict XVI, when he said on the solemnity of the Assumption in 2006 that "We do not praise God sufficiently by keeping silent about his saints."
After this Mass Fr. Kelley, Fr. Thu Nguyen of St. George parish in Fort Worth, and Father Hoa Nguyen of Sacred Heart Parish in Wichita Falls, Texas made a trip to Houston to spend the day with the Vietnamese Dominican Sisters in Houston, Texas. The picture here is from our visit to the novitiate. We had a wonderful day in which we visited with the Sisters, the Prioress General, Sister Maria Goretti OP, and her council, and then prayed evening prayer with them and were together for the evening meal. At least nine of the sisters in this community are from our Diocese, either from Fort Worth or Arlington! The life of these Dominican Sisters, and their obvious joy in their vocation, reminds me of what Pope Benedict XVI said in June of 2006 to a convention of the Diocese of Rome: "The beauty and joy of faith is a path that every new generation must take on its own, for all that we have this is most our own and most intimate is staked on faith: our heart, our mind, our freedom, in a deeply personal relationship with the Lord at work within us." Their witness calls to mind the necessity and obligation of all of God's people to pray for, and foster an environment where the call to serve the Lord as consecrated religious can be heard. Consecrated life is an essential part of building up the entire Church and promoting the blessing of ecclesial communion.
Posted by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD at 1:34 PM