Thanks from the Nuns

Remember when I asked you to join me in helping the good Dominican nuns down in Marbury, Alabama last month?

I received this nice note from them today:

A typically nun-ish note!

A typically nun-ish note!

I feel certain that they must have written to thank all those who gave as well, but in any event, be sure that they are praying for you! Thank you for helping the nuns!

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New! Catholic Luncheons in Huntsville

A couple of months ago I advertised a great Catholic event for Birmingham: Scott Hahn was coming to town. I went to that luncheon, and it was excellent. The place was packed.

Today I received news that such quarterly luncheons will begin next month in Huntsville also! The first one will feature the excellent speaker, Patrick Madrid.

The email that I received today from John Martignoni (the organizer) follows. (edited)

* * *

For all of you in North Alabama, this is a reminder about the first ever Catholic Quarterly Luncheon to be held in Huntsville, on Tuesday, September 16, from 11:30am – 1:00pm. The event will take place at the Jackson Center, at 6001 Moquin Drive in Research Park. Our speaker will be Patrick Madrid , one of the most popular Catholic authors and speakers in the country. He is also an EWTN television and radio host, popular blogger, and internationally-known evangelist and apologist. His topic will be: “Why Be Catholic?” which is based on his new book of the same title.

Patrick Madrid

For many years I’ve been asked, “John, you organize all of these events in Birmingham, what about us up here in Huntsville?” Well, I’ve heard you and this is my attempt to respond to your requests. My plan is to bring in the best Catholic speakers out there today to Huntsville – one every three months. I hope you will join us for this first one and I hope you will tell your friends about this event and ask them to come along. (For a preview of this talk, check out this online article.)

The cost of the luncheon is $27.50. To reserve your spot, you can pay online at:  – with a credit  card or via PayPal (when you make a $27.50 “donation” or some multiple thereof, I will know it’s for the luncheon); or you can mail a check to: 

Bible Christian Society, PO Box 424, Pleasant Grove, AL  35127

(When you pay online, you will receive an email acknowledging your reservation. If you send in a check, and would like an acknowledgment, please include an email address.)

Seating is limited to 200 people, first come first served, so the sooner you sign up, the better. We’ve already received a number of reservations and the announcement for the luncheon is going to appear in the One Voice this weekend, so you might want to get in there while you can. And, just so you know,  if you pay now and something comes along  that will cause you to miss the luncheon, you have until 48 hours  before the luncheon to notify me and receive a full refund. Finally,  we will be unable to accommodate walk-ups the day of the luncheon, so  you need to make your reservation beforehand.

This is going to be a great event…you don’t want to miss it!

If you need more information, please email me ( or call me: 205-744-1856.

* * *

Let’s fill the place!

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URGENT: Pope Asks Prayer for Iraq

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AFP Photo, found via this post at Rorate Caeli

AFP Photo, found via this post at Rorate Caeli

Pope Francis today, August 9th, at 10am Rome/4am New York time, asked all Catholic parishes and communities to say a special prayer this weekend:

We will heed the Holy Father’s request here at St. Barnabas and Holy Rosary. Unless some other prayer is indicated to us by the Bishop or the Bishops’ Conference over the course of the day, I will print out copies of the Memorare.

In fact, let’s all say it right now for this very intention, indicated to us by Pope Francis:

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my mother!
To thee do I come, before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful.
O mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
especially for a swift end to
the Christian genocide in Iraq,
and for all suffering there,

but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

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St. John Vianney, 2014 Edition

It’s time once again to prepare for the feast of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, whose liturgical memorial is celebrated tomorrow, August 4th. This feast has special import for me this year, since I now have the care of a parish (or two) of my own.

Well, there is no better way to prepare for tomorrow than by re-reading St. John Vianney’s brief Catechism on the Priesthood, which I re-post below:

My children, we have come to the Sacrament of Orders. It is a sacrament which seems to relate to no one among you, yet relates to everyone. This sacrament raises man up to God. What is a priest? A man who holds the place of God – a man who is invested with all the powers of God. “Go”, said Our Lord to the priest: “as my Father sent me, so I send you. All power has been given me in heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations….He who listens to you, listens to me; he who despises you despises me.” When the priest remits sins, he does not say, “God pardons you”; he says, “I absolve you”. At the Consecration, he does not say, “This is the body of our Lord”; he says, “This is my body”. St. Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary, and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest: yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have our Lord. Who placed him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest – always the priest! And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.

Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel: will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the body and blood of our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, “Go in peace; I pardon you”. Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die – not of fear, but of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures: it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of his wealth. Without the priest, the Death and Passion of our Lord would be of no avail. Look at the heathens: what has it availed them that our Lord has died? Alas! They can have no share in the blessings of Redemption, while they have no priests to apply his blood to their souls!

The priest is not a priest for himself: he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the sacraments to himself. He is not for himself – he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. Leave a parish twenty years without priests; they will worship beasts. If the missionary Father and I were to go away, you would say, “What can we do in this church? There is no Mass; our Lord is no longer there; we may as well pray at home.” When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice there is no religion.

When the bell calls you to church, if you were asked, “Where are you going?”, you might answer, “I am going to feed my soul”. If someone were to ask you, pointing to the tabernacle, “What is that golden door?” – “That is our storehouse, where the true food of our souls is kept”. “Who has the key? Who lays in the provisions? Who makes ready the feast, and who serves the table?” – “The priest”. “And what is the food?” – “The precious body and blood of our Lord”. O God! O God! How you have loved us! See the power of the priest: out of a piece of bread the word of a priest makes a God. It is more than creating the world…. Someone said, “Does St. Philomena, then, obey the Curé of Ars?” Indeed, she may well obey him, since God obeys him.

If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds his place. St. Teresa kissed the ground where a priest had passed. When you see a priest, you should say, “There is he who made me a child of God, and opened heaven to me by holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who gives nourishment to my soul”. At the sight of a church tower, you may say, “What is there in that place?” – “The body of our Lord”. “Why is he there?” – “Because a priest has been there, and has said holy Mass”.

What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of our Lord, at seeing the Master whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy, at seeing our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loreto. But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the adorable flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice which contained his blood, into the pyx where his body has lain – are they not still more precious? The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Murphy Bed

My rectory has a “Murphy Bed”, in what is now an office. That’s the type of bed that used to flip down out of a pocket in the wall, or in this case, a closet. This room used to be the housekeeper’s quarters (it’s a single room, with a bathroom attached).

Who needs capital campaigns? We have a Murphy Bed for sale!

Who needs capital campaigns? We have a Murphy Bed for sale!

Is it still possible to buy these? I wonder how much money we could get for it? Would anyone even buy it!!?

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More Applause in Church

A little over two months ago I posted on the topic of Applause in Church, a post which proved to be very popular – receiving a very large number of readers, and shared on Facebook over 300 times. It’s clear that this is a topic that interests people!

I was very glad, then, to discover recently on the good Italian blog, Scuola Ecclesia Mater, this video of Pope Saint John XXIII, when he spoke to a crowd about NOT applauding (or cheering) in church. Since I originally saw it, a few English blogs have picked it up as well. Here is the translation of what “Good Pope John” says – in his characteristic warm and animated style – as provided by the blog New Liturgical Movement (with some slight adjustments on my part). The video then follows.

Narrator: The fourth Sunday of Lent, John XXIII was once again among the crowd, at Ostia. [About 15 miles to the south-west of Rome.] Thousands of people were waiting for him along the street, in the piazza, in the church. They wanted to see him, to applaud him. They did not know that afterwards, he would rebuke them, in a good-natured way – in his simple, spontaneous, familiar way of speaking.

Pope John XXIII: I am very glad to have come here. But if I must express a wish, it is that in church you not shout out, you not clap your hands, and you not greet even the Pope, because ‘templum Dei, templum Dei.’ (“The temple of God is the temple of God.”) Now, if you are pleased to be in this beautiful church, imagine how happy the Pope is to see his dear children. But as soon as he sees his good children, he certainly does not clap his hands in their faces.

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Pope Francis and Pocket Gospels

Pope Francis likes to promote the practice of having a pocket-sized book of the gospels to carry around and read during downtime. He has promoted it on various occasions in Rome (see here, here, and here), and even today he mentioned it during his brief stop in the city of Caserta, located near Naples, Italy.

As I expected would happen, a version of the book that he gave away for free in Italy has now been produced (not for free) in English, here in these United States.

Click the image to go to the book’s page on Amazon.

It might make a nice gift! Could be just the thing for that person who is about to head off for college!

Incidentally, I’ve been monitoring this book on Amazon for about a week now; the quantity remaining in stock is usually low (or it is out of stock), but it replenishes quickly. So, even if it is out of stock if and when you go to order it, place your order anyway and it should be fulfilled quickly.

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I received my unimpressive diploma today. Gone – apparently – are the days when these were done in calligraphy. At least they still print them in Latin!

O tempora! O mores!

O tempora! O mores!

It was rolled up in a (nice) tube, so I laid it out with the help of some dining room implements. You can see my licentiate biretta there also, now with the pom-pom opened.

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On Leaving Mass Early

This is what people see as they go to leave Mass early out the main door of one of my parishes:

(It was installed by a previous pastor, I think.)

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Street Evangelization

A little “street evangelization” that I saw today in downtown Birmingham.

Jesus will change us, but he always leaves us free as regards spelling…

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St. Camillus de Lellis

Today, on the Church’s universal calendar, is the Feast of St. Camillus de Lellis. In the United States, it is transferred to Friday this year, as we celebrate St. Kateri Tekakwitha today.

Here is a photo that I took of his “tomb” (the effigy contains his mortal remains) in Rome:

His tomb is located in the beautiful church of St. Mary Magdalene, a church you would like to visit (see here for more).

Read about St. Camillus’ very intersting life on EWTN’s site: how he had been a lazy and unattractive child, who had a bad temper, and lived in a difficult family situation, but in any case, grew up to become a saint.

St. Camillus de Lellis, pray for us.

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Help the Sisters in Marbury

You’ll remember the Dominican Sisters of St. Jude in Marbury, Alabama from my recent posts about their vocations retreat and the prayer they posted to consecrate a child to Our Lady. This is a good, small group of nuns who are worthy of our support. Here is a photo of them speaking to the girls who attended the recent vocations retreat:



Today I received a bit of mail from the nuns with their beautiful newsletter and a personal note. On the note they made a rare request for support. Here is what Sister wrote:

At this time we ask our friends for help with our special needs. Our main concern at present is keeping the air conditioning system going. The service men have had to make frequent calls! As with any household, there have been other “breakdowns”. We thank you for “coming to the rescue”.

Can we send some help their way? I note that on their “Ways to Help” page they accept donations via PayPal. They also provide an address where you could mail a check. I will be sending in my own donation.

For most of us, when we have an air conditioning breakdown we can escape to an air conditioned car and go to an air conditioned public place such as a mall or the grocery store or something. These sisters are cloistered and so they can’t just hop in the van and take refuge elsewhere. You can see in the photo above how faithful they are in respecting the cloister: even when a group of girls comes to learn about their life, the nuns are on one side, the girls on the other. Let’s see if we can help them a bit. 

Here is the link to their “Ways to Help” page. No amount is too small. If you can’t donate to them or have other reasons for not doing so, please be sure to say a prayer for them. Thanks!

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