Liturgy & Sacraments

"Adoration of the Shepherds" (detail) by Murillo

Learning from the Shepherds at Midnight Mass

This message, indeed, “cannot leave us indifferent.” Because it is true, “it changes everything.” There is something beautifully symbolic about the tradition of Midnight Mass. It shows that Christians are so eager for Christmas to begin that they want to start celebrating on the first moment of Christmas day. People who ordinarily never go out late at night and are […]

Mission Dolores Altar (San Francisco) Photograph © by Andy Coan

Truly Right and Just Thanksgiving

From November 25, 2016… It is truly right and just At every Mass, one of the most significant dialogues in human life occurs. The priest says, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” the faithful respond, “It is right and just,” and the priest replies with a saying of great theological depth: “It is truly right and just, […]

(Fr.) Blessed Stanley Rother

Following the Brave Shepherd All the Way

The beatification of Father Stanley Rother on September 23 in Oklahoma City, which I was privileged to attend, was unforgettably moving. I feel a little like Saints Peter and John in the Acts of the Apostles when they said, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard!” (Acts 4:20). So I would like to share with you […]

"Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" (detail) by van Eyck

What is Happening at Mass?

As many Catholics know, the Second Vatican Council famously referred to the liturgy as the “source and summit of the Christian life.” And following the prompts of the great figures of the liturgical movement in the first half of the twentieth century, the Council Fathers called for a fuller, more conscious, and more active participation in the liturgy on the […]

St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church, Roswell, Georgia—Photography © by Michael Bickerstaff

Avoiding Embarrassing Situations Receiving Holy Communion

I was recently making a retreat at a Monastery in the Catskills. At Sunday Mass, I was asked by the Chaplain to distribute the Precious Blood to the nuns and lay people in attendance. At one point there was a little delay as I was giving the Chalice to the lay guests; the priest Celebrant, distributing the Sacred Hosts, was […]

In Defense of Marriage

In Defense of the Sacraments of Service—Marriage and Holy Orders… Our Vocation In His infinite love and goodness, God created man and woman in freedom to know, love and serve Him in this life and to spend all eternity with Him in the life to come. This call to holiness is our vocation and dignity. “Man is by nature and […]

"St. Ambrose" by Matthias Stom

Musing on the Teeth of St. Ambrose

I write these words from Milan, Italy, where I am with my Word on Fire team filming new episodes for our Pivotal Players series. I’ve seen lots of marvelous things on this trip, including the ruins of the ancient baptistery under the Milan Cathedral where, in the spring of 387, St. Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose. But the most […]

"Saint Peter Preaching the Gospel in the Catacombs" by Jan Styka [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How to Preach Like the Apostles

I have always loved the Acts of the Apostles and have often recommended it to those who are approaching the Bible for the first time. Filled with colorful narratives, adventure, martyrdom, persecution, journeys by sea, etc., it makes for stimulating reading indeed. But I love it especially because it shows us the excitement of being a follower of Jesus. Long […]

"The Marriage at Cana" by Gaetano Gandolfi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Bride and Groom; The Bride and Groom

Two weeks ago, I had the great good pleasure of presiding at the wedding of my niece, Bryna. She has been, all her life, a lovely girl, full of joy and good cheer—and eager to give herself in service to others. Her husband, Nelson, is also a fine person, and he took the courageous step of becoming a Catholic in […]

Mission Dolores Altar (San Francisco) Photograph © by Andy Coan

Silence and the Meaning of the Mass

Robert Cardinal Sarah’s recent book The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise explores a number of themes both theological and spiritual, all centering around the unhappy role that noise has come to play in our culture and more specifically in the Church. His observations are most trenchant in regard to the liturgy, which should come as no great […]