January 6, 2013

January 6, 2013 Column Father De Celles

Thanks. As the Christmas Season continues, I’d like to add 3 more Christmas “thank you’s” to those from prior weeks. First, I want to thank all of you for your generosity in the Christmas collections. Between the collection for Sunday the 23rd and Christmas Day, and including special donations and second collections, you donated over $130, 000 to the parish. That is one of the highest collections for those combined days in our history. Thank you so much for your generosity. Second, on behalf of Fr. Kenna and myself, I want to thank all of you who dropped off baked goods and other treats and gifts for us in the rectory. You kindness is overwhelming. And last but not least, I want to thank 7 year old Holly Diamond who was very helpful to me at Christmas Midnight Mass, as she carried the statue of the Baby Jesus in procession for the Blessing of the Christmas Crèche.

The Epiphany of the Lord
Benedict XVI, Homily (Excerpts), January 6, 2012

“The wise men from the East lead the way. They open up the path of the Gentiles to Christ. … The experts tell us that they belonged to the great astronomical tradition that had developed in Mesopotamia over the centuries and continued to flourish. But this information of itself is not enough. No doubt there were many astronomers in ancient Babylon, but only these few set off to follow the star that they recognized as the star of the promise, pointing them along the path towards the true King and Saviour. They were, as we might say, men of science, but not simply in the sense that they were searching for a wide range of knowledge: they wanted something more. They wanted to understand what being human is all about. They had doubtless heard of the prophecy of the Gentile prophet Balaam: “A star shall come forth out of Jacob and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel” (Num 24:17). They explored this promise. They were men with restless hearts, not satisfied with the superficial and the ordinary. They were men in search of the promise, in search of God. And they were watchful men, capable of reading God’s signs, his soft and penetrating language. But they were also courageous, yet humble: we can imagine them having to endure a certain amount of mockery for setting off to find the King of the Jews, at the cost of so much effort. …For them it was a question of truth itself, not human opinion. Hence they took upon themselves the sacrifices and the effort of a long and uncertain journey. Their humble courage was what enabled them to bend down before the child of poor people and to recognize in him the promised King, the one they had set out, on both their outward and their inward journey, to seek and to know….

“The wise men followed the star. Through the language of creation, they discovered the God of history. To be sure – the language of creation alone is not enough. Only God’s word, which we encounter in sacred Scripture, was able to mark out their path definitively. Creation and Scripture, reason and faith, must come together, so as to lead us forward to the living God. There has been much discussion over what kind of star it was that the wise men were following. Some suggest a …a supernova, …one of those stars …in which an inner explosion releases a brilliant light for a certain time, or a comet, etc. This debate we may leave to the experts. The great star, the true supernova that leads us on, is Christ himself. He is as it were the explosion of God’s love, which causes the great white light of his heart to shine upon the world. And we may add: the wise men from the East, who feature in today’s Gospel, like all the saints, have themselves gradually become constellations of God that mark out the path. In all these people, being touched by God’s word has, as it were, released an explosion of light, through which God’s radiance shines upon our world and shows us the path. The saints are stars of God, by whom we let ourselves be led to him for whom our whole being longs.”

Feast of St. Raymond of Peñafort. Tomorrow, January 7, is the feast of our parish Patron. St. Raymond was born at Villafranca de Benadis, near Barcelona, in 1175. At only 20 years of age he became professor of canon law in 1195, and taught for fifteen years. He left Spain for the University of Bologna in 1210 to complete his studies in civil and canon law. He held a chair of canon law in the university for three years and published a treatise on ecclesiastical legislation.

Raymond returned to Barcelona to teach in 1219. Soon thereafter he received a heavenly vision in which the Blessed Mother, under the title of “Our Lady of Mercy,” instructed him to help St. Peter Nolasco found the Order of Mercedarians, which would be devoted to the ransom of Christians taken captive by the Moors (Spanish Muslims). Raymond did not join that order but rather received the habit in the Dominicans in Barcelona in 1222. As a Dominican, Raymond continued to teach and preach, and devoted considerable effort working to convert Moors and Jews, founding institutes at Barcelona and Tunis for the study of Oriental languages, as well as coaxing St. Thomas Aquinas to write his Summa Contra Gentiles to help in his efforts.

At the request of his superiors Raymond published the Summa Casuum, a book on cases of conscience for the guidance of confessors and moralists, the first guide of its kind. This work eventually led to his appointment as confessor and theologian to Pope Gregory IX in 1230. His expertise in juridical science led the pope to direct Raymond to re-arrange and codify the canons (juridical laws) of the Church, which required him to rewrite and condense decrees that had been multiplying for centuries, contained in some twelve or fourteen collections already existing. The pope published Raymond’s work in 1231, and commanded that it alone should be considered authoritative and used in the schools. From then on St. Raymond would be known as the “Father of canon law.”

After this, Raymond returned to Spain. In 1238 he was elected General of the Dominican Order, but he resigned two years later, claiming that at 63 years old he was too old for the job. He continued his writing, preaching and pastoral work, as well many important responsibilities entrusted to him by various popes, for another 37 years until his death in Barcelona on January 6, 1275, at the age of 100. He is the patron saint of lawyers, both canon and civil (the latter with St. Thomas More). (Based, in part, on an article in the Catholic Encyclopedia (www.newadvent.org)).

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May St. Raymond pray for us and lead us to have a happy, holy and grace-filled 2013!

Oremus pro invicem, et pro patria. Fr. De Celles