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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Novena for St. Ann

The Feast Day for Saints Joachim & Ann is July 26

153115812951608086St. Ann, Mother of the Immaculate Conception

 GOD OUR FATHER, the beauty and the order of your creation was willfully damaged by those who rejected your friendship. Undeterred by this ingratitude, your Son entered our world on a mission of mercy and healing. He walked among us as a divine physician seeking the lost and the strayed, curing the sick and the handicapped, mending broken hearts and restoring broken friendships, comforting the distressed and bringing peace of mind to the victims of sin. With the exception of sin, he too was the victim of suffering and anxiety. He knew fatigue and hunger and loneliness. In taking flesh and blood from the children of Eve, he honored Mary and Ann as mother and grandmother. From them he inherited eyes which behold the ills of man and hands which constantly reach out to bring healing to mind and body. In this novena of prayer, dedicated to Saint Ann, the friend of the sick, we ask her intercession to strengthen our faith that miracles of healing may continue to testify that the compassionate Jesus still walks among us. We ask him to bless us, today and forever. Amen.—Bishop Raymond J. Boland (1978)

DAY 1 – Wednesday, July 18 – Embrace me as a brother to your grandson, Jesus.

Glorious Saint Ann, by the special bond of affection uniting you still with your child, our blessed Mother, and with her divine Son, we call on your powerful aid to meet today’s pressing needs. We freely acknowledge our own sinfulness and unworthiness, and yet we count on your help, and promise ever to be grateful to you and faithful to God’s will for us. Amen.

DAY 2 – Thursday, July 19 – Teach me the value of prayer.

Dearest Saint Ann, teach me the value of prayer. When I pray humbly, earnestly, God’s hand stretches out to me; it takes hold of my hand, my mind, my will and helps me up the steep path that leads me to the goal he has set before me. Amen.

DAY 3 – Friday, July 20 – Show me the light of Christ so as to find my way.

Saint Ann, when I lose my way and lose sight of my Lord, show me how I can find him again; tell me where he wishes me to walk through life; help me discover in Christ’s teaching the light that will reveal to me the Father’s will, which is made manifest through his commandments, through my duties toward him and toward my neighbor and through the various circumstances in which I am called to work out my destiny. Amen.

DAY 4 – Saturday, July 21 – Obtain for me strength and courage over all temptations.

Saint Ann, when I lose heart before the hardships of life and the constant obstacles that I have to overcome, when I feel helpless before my bad inclinations, before my repeated struggles against the evil one and against a world that is constantly pulling me away from you, obtain for me from God, who is the source of all strength, the courage to remain faithful to him, never to pull my hand out of his hand and to overcome the countless temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil. Amen.

DAY 5 – Sunday, July 22 – Grant me a consuming love for God and neighbor.

Saint Ann, first of all, let me always keep burning in my heart the eternal flame of God’s love; let the unquenchable fire of God’s love for me forever keep alive in me a consuming love for the Lord and for my neighbor. Amen.

DAY 6 – Monday, July 23 – Help me to prize heavenly joy over earthly consolation.

Dearest Saint Ann, whenever I am unhappy, inspire me to pray for happiness, for my share in the happiness of this earth; but, first of all, for the endless happiness that God has prepared for those who serve him with loving and prayerful hearts. Amen.

DAY 7 – Tuesday, July 24 – Draw me deeper into the mind and heart of Christ. 

Each passing day is a step forward on our earthly pilgrimage. Saint Ann, let each new day bring us deeper into the Lord’s knowledge and love. This is the goal of all Christian life on earth: that every passing day and every passing year should show us better the dazzling face of our God and urge us toward him in more faithful service. Amen.

DAY 8 – Wednesday, July 25 – Teach me how to bear suffering as God’s will. 

Saint Ann, the afflictions that befall our persons, families, cities and nations will be unbearable, unless you teach us how God’s merciful designs for man are attained through suffering. Keep reminding us that the only way that leads man to God and happiness is the way of the cross. Amen.

DAY 9 – Thursday, July 26 – Teach me how to desire equity and justice for all.

Saint Ann, teach us how to love one another. Love alone can do away with the evils of disputes, riots and wars. Love alone can inspire men with a sense of equity and justice. It will tear down the barriers that divide men according to languages, colors and creeds, and will inspire mankind to live in mutual understanding. Amen.

Prayer of Consecration to Saint Ann

Blessed Saint Ann, who did give birth to the Mother of God: illustrious Grandmother of Jesus Christ, I choose you this day for my Patron and my Mother. I offer and consecrate myself entirely to you and I recommend to your eternal solicitude and your holy protection my body and my soul, the necessities and vicissitudes of my existence, my life and my death. I am determined, and I promise, to serve you and to honor you for love of Mary, your most holy Daughter, and to propagate according to my powers devotion to you. / On your part, O my sweet Mother, O my holy Patron, deign to receive me into the number of your servants and children. Obtain for me the grace to imitate so perfectly the virtues which have made you pleasing in the sight of God that I may merit the favor of Jesus and Mary. Obtain for me a happy death and at my last hour receive my soul into the arms of your love. Help me during my life by the sufferings, by the merits and mercies of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to obtain such perfect remission of my sins that my soul on leaving its body may go quickly to join you in eternal rest. Amen.

NOTATIONS:

Two-side Parish Bulletin Insert, click HERE.

The version of the devotion is here somewhat abridged.  For a pdf file of the complete booklet, click HERE.

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Manner of Receiving Holy Communion

downloadQuestion 260

Hello Father, I recently had my civil marriage convalidated; thus I am now able to receive Communion. I have not received Communion in over 25 years. I already went to confession. My question is, after I place the holy host in my mouth and make the sign of the cross, what am I supposed to do? I remember receiving Communion in my mouth and never touching it. I also remember going back to my place and kneeling in prayer for a brief moment. But nowadays, my daughter who is 13 years old places the host in her mouth, returns to her place in the pew and just stands there. She made her first Communion when she was 8. What is the correct thing to do?

Response

After reception and making the sign of the cross, the communicant goes back to his or her pew and kneels in prayer. The pattern is simple and unchanged. I am not sure why your daughter fails to kneel. Are there kneelers in your church?

Have a Happy & Holy Easter!

As I ponder the mystery of the season, there are twelve themes that I would put forward for reflection and prayer:

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(1) A new day has dawned. (The LIGHT of Christ casts aside the darkness.)

(2) The promise of old has been fulfilled. (The long-awaited Jewish Messiah is the Christ and Savior of the entire world.)

(3) The breech is healed. (Jesus is the New Adam and the bridge between heaven and earth— he is the way to the Father.)

(4) The salvific work of Christ has redeemed us from the devil. (Our Lord paid the price that we could not pay.)

(5) While the primordial trespass brought suffering and death into the world– Christ’s fidelity ushers forth healing and life. (The damage from the primordial garden is repaired and we are called to faith and hope in Christ.)

(6) Nothing will ever be the same again. (The course of human history has changed; Christ’s victory changes everything.)

(7) Death is conquered if not entirely undone. (The war is over but a few battles must still be fought because of our fallen nature and the spite of the devil.)

(8) We no longer need fear the specter of death. (Jesus tells us, “Be not afraid.”)

(9) The grave will not consume us. (Neither the grave nor hell is the end of the story for those who walk with Christ.)

10) No one need live in vain. (Our Lord reveals to us the loving face and mercy of God.)

(11) Like the apostles we are called as witnesses to the saving truth. (Both faith and charity, if real, must be given away or shared.)

(12) Christ becomes the pattern of our discipleship: we must die with Christ if we hope to live with him. (The paschal mystery calls to us as missionary disciples.)
Have a blessed Easter!

—Father Joe Jenkins

[35] Fifth Sunday of Lent

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Readings:  Jeremiah 31:31-34 / Psalm 51 / Hebrews 5:7-9 / John 12:20-33

Our first reading selection today is taken from what is called the Oracles of the Restoration of Israel and Judah.  Jeremiah’s writings would be an inspiration for the prophet(s) Isaiah; indeed, they proved more beneficial after his death in that they gave hope to a vanquished people.  He promoted religious reform and fought the idolatry that plagued Judah.  With the apostasy and fall of the nation, he suffered arrest, imprisonment, public disgrace and exile.

The prophet speaks of an impending new covenant, different from before, in that faithfulness will replace their current infidelity.  God’s law will not be upon tablets of clay or rock that might be lost or broken, but rather placed within them and written “upon their hearts.”  The words once spoken to Abraham will be made everlasting:  “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  While arguably ambiguous, it sounds like the language of grace.  It deeply resonates with Christ’s words about his new and everlasting covenant.  Just as the admonition of the Gospel was “repent and believe,” i.e. “obey,” the prophet writes in the persona of the Almighty, “I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.”  Our Lord came into the world for the forgiveness of sins.  He heals the breach between God and man.  The new Israel and the New Judah is the Church.

The responsorial similarly speaks of God’s law imprinted upon human hearts:  “Create a clean heart in me, O God.”  The two-fold commandment of Christ emphasizes the love of God and of neighbor.  We are to have the Lord’s heart in the priorities we set for ourselves, in regard to that which we love and in how we demonstrate or witness compassion, generosity and forgiveness.  Jeremiah was of the priestly class— priests offered sacrifice— they sought to make atonement for sin.  The prophet lamented how hard-hearted were both the rulers and the people that followed them.  They invited their doom by forfeiting divine favor and protection.  No doubt our Lord had Jeremiah in mind when he spoke about how the leaders and crowd even rejected him.  We read in Matthew 23:37-39:

“‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned, desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

God is faithful.  Both God and man will be faithful in Christ.

What is a clean heart?  It is pure for sure, but it is also undivided.  It is a heart with a single purpose.  Do we want this heart?  If so then I would recommend the prayer that the apostle Paul gave the Ephesians:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21).

The second reading presents Christ as the one High Priest of Christianity.  Our Lord did “offer prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears” to the Father on our behalf.  Jesus is faithful to his mission given him by the Father unto the Cross.  He does what no other priest had ever accomplished, he offered perfect atonement and “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”  When our Lord beseeches us to take up our crosses and follow him, he is appealing to us as his priestly people in baptism.  It is within the oblation of Christ that our sacrifices and self-offering can be made to the Father.  This merits for us a share in the Lord’s reward or victory.  Every disciple is to believe, love and serve with a priestly heart.  The measure of all love is in terms of surrender or sacrifice.  We belong to the Lord.  He is a jealous God.  He will not share us.  He abides in us by grace so that we might live in him forever.

There are several times (both explicitly and in veiled symbolic language) that Jesus prophesies about his coming betrayal, passion and death.  He asserts in today’s Gospel, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”  After making a reference to his coming death, his attention turns to his followers.  “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”  How would you advertise for such an ordeal?  Imagine you were reading the HELP WANTED ads and your eyes ran across the following:

“WANTED… men and women willing to give up family, position, wealth and power… yes, absolutely everything so as to follow a prophet who claims to be God.  Note that you must be willing to follow him in being betrayed, mocked, tortured and murdered.  He promises to give you eternal life.”

Sounds crazy, does it not?  Who would answer such a thing?  And yet, that is precisely the call of the Gospel.

  • What does it mean to have a sacrificial “priestly” heart?
  • What must we do to show that we belong to the Lord and his kingdom?
  • How might we be prophetic instruments in bringing reform to our society?
  • Have you ever prayed for someone or something to the point of tears?

Clarity in a Sea of Confusion

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Dr. Dolores B. Grier, Rest in Peace

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Sir Knight Reginald Grier informed us that his sister, Dr. Dolores Bernadette Grier, died in New York City on February 22, 2018, her birthday. She was 91 years old.

The late Cardinal O’Connor of New York appointed Dr. Dolores Bernadette Grier as the first lay woman to be a vice chancellor of the archdiocese. Dolores Grier’s appointment as vice chancellor for community relations in 1985 was national news as she achieved several firsts. Not only was she the first lay woman, but she also was the first black American in the U.S. to be appointed a vice chancellor. She also became the first lay woman named to any chancery post in the archdiocese.

When Grier was a teenager she converted to Roman Catholicism. She graduated with a master’s degree in social work from Fordham University. In 1980 she heard a “persuasive, dynamic speech in defense of all human life from conception” by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and credits this speech with bringing her into the pro-life movement. She lamented in her book, DEATH BY ABORTION, the course Jackson took in his career by saying, “Regrettably, Rev. Jackson joined the Democratic political party and adopted its pro-abortion/pro-choice platform. Too many legislators, Republican and Democratic, have chosen to walk on the ‘comfort zone’ bridge of pro-choice, thus turning their backs on the unborn human beings, perhaps because they are not yet voters or members of a political action group.”

In 1993 the New York City branch of the NAACP selected her to be the recipient of the Women’s History Month award, she refused it and membership because of the organization’s pro-choice stance on abortion. “As president of the Association of Black Catholics,” she wrote, “I believe abortion to be a racist weapon of genocide against black people. It has been thrust upon black women as a solution to their economic crises, confusion and concern.”

She had a television program on BLACK CATHOLICS and was a long-time EWTN spokesperson and close friend of the late Mother Angelica. She was a nationally known African American pro-life activist and non-fiction author. She also orchestrated the PROUD TO BE ROMAN CATHOLIC effort in New York. Dr. Grier sat on the Board of Advisors of the Catholic League and was founder of Black Catholics Against Abortion. She wrote, “Yesterday they snatched babies from our arms and sold them into slavery, today they snatch them from our womb and throw them into the garbage.”

I met her on several occasions and she was a wonderful lady and true disciple of Christ. Rest in peace.

[26] Second Sunday of Lent

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Readings:  Gen. 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18 / Ps. 116 / Romans 8:31b-34 / Mk. 9:2-10

An important traditional demarcation of the ancient Jews from their pagan neighbors was the repugnance they felt toward human sacrifice.  Rather, they offered the grains of the field or animals like goats, sheep, bulls and birds.  However, more recent archeological evidence shows that the early Jews did at one time offer the oblation of human beings.  The remnant texts that point to such behavior are the testing of Abraham and the story of Jephthah’s daughter. The story of Jephthah’s daughter can be found in Judges 11:29-40.  Like our passage today, it is deeply disturbing.  The Hebrew general pledges that the first who steps out the door of his home, he will sacrifice. He immediately laments his pledge because out steps his young daughter. She requests a short time to mourn her virginity and then we are told he did as he promised. Unlike the story of Abraham and Isaac, it appears that God does not stay his hand. The young girl had courage and her father kept his promise to God; but as Christians, we are aware that some promises should not be made. The child mourns that she will never know the joys of being a wife and mother. It is a poignant and terrible story.

Just as the story of Abraham and Isaac prefigures God’s surrender of his Son; the story of Jephthah’s daughter is connected to the Virgin Mary.  Mary gives herself to perpetual virginity and undergoes a vicarious martyrdom in witnessing the passion and death of her Son. Jephthah was a great Jewish general. He was successful against tremendous odds. He was victorious not because of his oath, but in spite of it. As St. John Chrysostom would tell us, his repugnant act would move the Jews to renounce all such blood-oaths from that time forward. Regarded as a testing of Abraham’s faith, a messenger from heaven intervenes and God directly prohibits the sacrifice of Isaac.  This would plainly show that God does not delight in such sacrifices.

Abraham certainly did not comprehend the command to sacrifice Isaac.  It seemed to violate providence, itself.  The patriarch was elderly and his son was the child of promise from which he was supposed to generate many descendants.  He did not understand but he remained faithful.  It is that element and not the shocking act that we should fully reflect upon.  God stays the hand of Abraham but he would not spare his own Son, the child promised from the dawn of creation.  Our heavenly Father did not directly will that his Son should be tortured and murdered; but he did desire faithfulness.  Jesus is faithful to his mission unto the Cross.  Abraham substitutes the oblation of a ram.  When God spared us (signified by Isaac), Jesus substitutes himself for us as the divine Lamb of God.  The sacrifice is no longer a ram caught in the briars but a Savior crowned with thorns.

The sacrifice of human beings by the pagans would be regarded by the early Christian community as a feeding the bloodlust of demons. We might think that we are morally better and enlightened, but over a million unborn children are aborted in the United States annually.  Many ministers regard this as a return of the demonic sacrifices of old.  Are we feeding demons the blood of our children?

The responsorial speaks to our conviction as believers during the season of Lent: “O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your handmaid; you have loosed my bonds. To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the LORD.” Catholics readily make the connection between Christ as the suffering servant and Mary who declares herself as “the handmaid of the Lord.”  Jesus offers his life that we might be released from the bonds of Satan.  Our Lord will pay the price of his life to set us free.  Mother and Son will meet on Calvary.  The sacrifice of Jesus will do what all prior oblations failed to do— make true and lasting atonement for sin.

The second reading reiterates today’s theme:  “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?”  Paul is speaking about the gift of hope that comes with faith.  The victory over sin and death has already been won.

The Gospel reading gives us the scene of the Transfiguration.  Our Lord is dressed in dazzling white and beside him stands Elijah and Moses.  This signifies that Jesus is the fulfillment of the LAW and the PROPHETS.  The transformation in Jesus might be interpreted as a sign of things to come, notably the resurrection.  Lest it should be misunderstood, Jesus tells his three apostles not to speak about what they have seen until “the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”  We are told that they questioned what was meant by “rising from the dead.”  The apostles really could not get their heads around our Lord’s prophesies about his passion and death.

There is an important but sometimes overlooked element to the reading that we today should take to heart.  The heavenly Father’s voice beckons from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”  Jesus is the ultimate term for salvation.  It is his sacrifice that is saving.  Given that he buys us back with his own life, we belong to him.  If that be the case, then it must be realized with faith and an abiding obedience.

  • What sacrifices have you made in your life to realize your discipleship?
  • Do you appreciate that every Mass is a re-presentation of the oblation of Calvary?
  • Have you placed limits on your faith and what you would do in response to God’s calling?
  • How have you died for Christ and others, brushing aside selfishness?
  • Do you listen and obey God’s Son or have you substituted other authorities?
  • Do you put a premium upon human life, both in and out of the womb?