St. Mark the Evangelist

Oil painting:  Saint Mark by Valentin de Boulogne, c. 1624-26

St. Mark the Evangelist (1st c.) was born to Jewish parents living in Libya in North Africa, later settling in Cana of Galilee not far from Jerusalem. Mark became one of the 70 disciples of Jesus and the author of the Gospel that bears his name. According to tradition, St. Peter the Apostle was married to a relative of St. Mark’s father, and after Mark’s father died, Peter looked after him like his own son. Being a close disciple of St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, Mark’s Gospel is addressed to Gentile converts to the Christian faith living in Rome. Most of what we know about his life and missionary activity is recorded in the New Testament. He traveled to Egypt and founded the Church there, and was martyred c. 68 A.D. by being dragged through the streets of Alexandria until his body was torn to pieces. St. Mark is the patron of lawyers and prisoners. His feast day is April 25.

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From the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop

Preaching Truth

  The Church, which has spread everywhere, even to the ends of the earth, received the faith from the apostles and their disciples. By faith, we believe in one God, the almighty Father who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them. We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became man for our salvation. And we believe in the Holy Spirit who through the prophets foretold God’s plan: the coming of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, his birth from the Virgin, his passion, his resurrection from the dead, his ascension into heaven, and his final coming from heaven in the glory of his Father, to recapitulate all things and to raise all men from the dead, so that, by the decree of his invisible Father, he may make a just judgement in all things and so that every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth to Jesus Christ our Lord and our God, our Saviour and our King, and every tongue confess him.
  The Church, spread throughout the whole world, received this preaching and this faith and now preserves it carefully, dwelling as it were in one house. Having one soul and one heart, the Church holds this faith, preaches and teaches it consistently as though by a single voice. For though there are different languages, there is but one tradition.
  The faith and the tradition of the churches founded in Germany are no different from those founded among the Spanish and the Celts, in the East, in Egypt, in Libya and elsewhere in the Mediterranean world. Just as God’s creature, the sun, is one and the same the world over, so also does the Church’s preaching shine everywhere to enlighten all men who want to come to a knowledge of the truth.
  Now of those who speak with authority in the churches, no preacher however forceful will utter anything different – for no one is above the Master – nor will a less forceful preacher diminish what has been handed down. Since our faith is everywhere the same, no one who can say more augments it, nor can anyone who says less diminish it.

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Jesus said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” (cf. Mk 16:15)

“To many it is given to travel the world or the small circle of home and workplace to proclaim the Good News in word and deed. To four only was it given to collect and cast that news in the unique written books to which we give the title “Gospel.” For this message that continues to reach the four corners of the globe, let us give thanks and praise today.  –  Magnificat, April 25, 2018

Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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Wit & Wisdom: Saint Teresa of Calcutta

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Wit & Wisdom: St. Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa, in full St. Teresa of Calcutta, also called St. Mother Teresa, original name Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, (baptized August 27, 1910, Skopje, Macedonia, Ottoman Empire [now in Republic of Macedonia]—died September 5, 1997, Calcutta [now Kolkata], India; canonized September 4, 2016; feast day September 5), founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to the poor, particularly to the destitute of India. She was the recipient of numerous honours, including the 1979 Nobel Prize for Peace.

Source:  https://www.britannica.com/biography/Mother-Teresa

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Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.


Christmas Reflection: The Alarming Message of the Bethlehem Angels

The Alarming Message of the Bethlehem Angels

Luke tells us that on Christmas night an angel appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their sheep.  Don’t get sentimental about angels, imagining them to be sweet and unthreatening.  Instead, keep in mind that the typical reaction to the sudden manifestation of a higher being from another dimension is, quite properly, fear.  Indeed, the Christmas messenger says to the shepherds, “Don’t be afraid,” which implies that they were!

The angel announces the Good News of Christ’s birth, and then we are told that “there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel praising God ….”  If one angel is terrifying, imagine what a multitude of them is like.  The Greek word that is translated as “host” is stratias, which means army.  Our words “strategy” and “strategic” are derived from it.  The most powerful man in the world at that time was Caesar Augustus, and his power was grounded in the fact that he had the biggest and best-trained army.  The rather subtle and subversive point that Saint Luke is making is this:  the newborn baby of Bethlehem has an even bigger and more frightening army.  Mind you, this angelic army doesn’t fight with the weapons of the world, but it can indeed overwhelm anything that is in the world.

–  Reverend Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron is the Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles; he is the founder of Word on Fire (www.wordonfire.org).

Angels Announcing the Birth of Christ to the Shepherds (1639), by Govert Flinck, Dutch painter of the Dutch Golden Age.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (2:1-14)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest/ and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The Nativity and the Annunciation to the Shepherds, Bernardino Luini (1480/1490-1532).

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Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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Blessed Are We: Christ’s Mass is Christmas

Today, Christmas Eve, as we celebrate the Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord, and look forward to the joys of Christmas Day, I offer Christmas wishes to my fellow Catholics: active, passive, and fallen-away:

Here’s hoping you’ll find time for Mass tonight – this celebration of Christ’s Mass (Christmas) – even and especially if you haven’t been in awhile.  I’m sure there’ll be a few options for your schedule; and never despair at returning to the God who loves you.  Know, as a member of God’s family, among the Communion of Saints, there are those praying for you more often than you’ll ever know.

Tonight, let the Christ-child, whom we celebrate in a very special way this season, and especially tonight, and Christmas Day, have a place in the Inn of your Heart.  Make room for the infant Jesus there.

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Saint Pope John Paul II called the Eucharist the “Source and Summit of the Christian faith.”  This is because the Eucharist refreshes the soul of everyone who thirsts for Him.  Through your baptismal (Catholic) faith you have a seat at this table in a very special way.  The Eucharist is food for the soul.  It is the Manna come down from Heaven – the food granted to God’s people for the Christian journey.

My prayer for you, Catholic brothers and sisters in the Christian faith, is that throughout your life, despite the noise of this Secular Age in which we live, you will hear Christ’s Eucharistic call for you – his loving invitation to let him journey with you each day of your life; to join him at his Communion table, to receive Him as food for your journey and, in this Eucharistic celebration at every Mass, you will invite the Christ-child to change and transform you, so, like St. Paul, it will no longer be I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

Such is the transformative, sacramental power of the Eucharist.  And it this arrival of the baby born of a Virgin, born to be the King of Kings, the long-awaited Messiah foretold through the ages by the Jewish prophets, whom we celebrate on this Christmas Day.  It is He whom we celebrate at this Christ’s Mass and at every Mass celebrated every hour, of every day, on every nation of the Earth.

It is through our life’s journey that we are meant to truly discover who God has created us to be.  We are called for mission; and we, Catholics, are very fortunate, for we truly are blessed – we who have been called to the Supper of the Lamb.

Trust always in God’s plans for you.  Live out your mission in and through your baptismal faith.

Merry Christmas.  Peace be with you – always.

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For more information please visit https://www.catholicscomehome.org .

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Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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Advent Reflections:  The Witness of John the Baptist

The Witness of John the Baptist

The entire existence of the Forerunner of Jesus was nourished by his relationship with God, particularly the period he spent in desert regions (cf. Lk 1:80). The desert regions are places of temptation but also where man acquires a sense of his own poverty, because once deprived of material support and security, he understands that the only steadfast reference point is God himself. John the Baptist, however, is not only a man of prayer, in permanent contact with God, but also a guide in this relationship. The Evangelist Luke, recalling the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, the Our Father, notes that the request was formulated by the disciples in these words: Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his own disciples (cf. Lk 11:1)….

Celebrating the martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist reminds us too, Christians of this time, that with love for Christ, for his words and for the Truth, we cannot stoop to compromises. The Truth is Truth; there are no compromises. Christian life demands, so to speak, the “martyrdom” of daily fidelity to the Gospel, the courage, that is, to let Christ grow within us and let him be the One who guides our thought and our actions. However, this can happen in our life only if we have a solid relationship with God. Prayer is not time wasted, it does not take away time from our activities, even apostolic activities, but exactly the opposite is true: only if we are able to have a faithful, constant, and trusting life of prayer will God himself give us the ability and strength to live happily and serenely, to surmount difficulties, and to witness courageously to him. Saint John the Baptist, intercede for us, that we may be ever able to preserve the primacy of God in our life.

Pope Benedict XVI

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Saint Jean-Baptiste, by French painter Alexandre Cabanel (1849)


The third Sunday and week of Advent

Christ’s coming is Good News to those who are aware of their emptiness and need.  For them it is a cause for rejoicing.  It spells loss, however, for those who are full of themselves, their own importance, and their possessions.  (Magnificat, Dec 16, 2017)

He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,/ to heal the broken­hearted, / To proclaim liberty to the captives/ and release to the prisoners. (Is 61:1)

Psalm 146:5-10

He is happy who is helped by Jacob’s God,

whose hope is in the Lord his God,

who alone made heaven and earth,

the seas and all they contain.

It is he who keeps faith for ever,

who is just to those who are oppressed.

It is he who gives bread to the hungry,

the Lord, who sets prisoners free,

the Lord who gives sight to the blind,

who raises up those who are bowed down,

the Lord, who protects the stranger

and upholds the widow and orphan.

It is the Lord who loves the just

but thwarts the path of the wicked.

The Lord will reign for ever,

Zion’s God, from age to age.

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Let our hearts be open and may He find his rest there, in our hearts, as he rested in the manger with Mary and Joseph. So it is with hope, faith, peace and joy may we actively participate in Christ’s arrival during this beautiful season of Advent.


Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.



Wit and Wisdom: St. Cyril of Jerusalem

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Wit & Wisdom: St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Cyril of Jerusalem, Saint; Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, b. about 315; d. probably March 18, 386

In the East his feast is observed on the 18th of March, in the West on the 18th or 20th. Little is known of his life. We gather information concerning him from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. Cyril himself gives us the date of his “Catecheses” as fully seventy years after the Emperor Probus, that is about 347, if he is exact.  Source:  www.catholic.com; https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/cyril-of-jerusalem-saint

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God gives light to all eyes. He is the light of life. May God enlighten in joy all those who have passed into the darkness of death; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you (Jb 42:5).

Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.