Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Encourage & Teach: The Sacramental Seal

Small_Red_RoseAre you familiar with the phrase sub rosa or “under the rose?” Beginning in the sixteenth century, the rose was occasionally placed over the entrance to a confessional to symbolize the sacramental seal and its obligation of permanent silence concerning what is revealed.[1] (Read more…)

Basil and the Triumph of the Cross

Thanks Fr. Z for sharing this yesterday. Vultus Christi offers us a great custom on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross:

Blessing Basil Leaf in Honour of the Holy Cross

The aromatic herb, basil (Ocimum basilicum) has long been associated with the Holy Cross. Etymologically, it is related to basileios, the Greek word for king. According to a pious legend, the Empress Saint Helena found the location of the True Cross by digging for it under a colony of basil. Basil plants were reputed to have sprung up at the foot of the Cross where fell the Precious Blood of Christ and the tears of the Mother of Sorrows. A sprig of basil was said to have been found growing from the wood of the True Cross. On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross it is customary in the East to rest the Holy Cross on a bed of basil before presenting it to the veneration of the faithful. Also, from the practice in some areas of strewing branches of basil before church communion rails, it came to be known as Holy Communion Plant Blessed basil leaf can be arranged in a bouquet at the foot of the crucifix; the dried leaves can also be used by the faithful as a sacramental.
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who hath made heaven and earth.
Let us pray.
Almighty and merciful God,
deign, we beseech Thee, to bless
Thy creature, this aromatic basil leaf. +
Even as it delights our senses,
may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King
and the power of His most Precious Blood
to purify and preserve us from evil
so that, planted beneath His Cross,
we may flourish to Thy glory
and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice.
Who is Lord forever and ever.
R. Amen.
The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy Water.




Encourage & Teach: Take a Risk, Risk a Share

RiskThis past weekend, I was with 35 men and women on retreat. We all had a longing in our heart for something more than what the world can offer us. One of my fellow retreatants, a young woman from Seattle, shared that a week prior, she was looking for a retreat. Unable to find one in her area, she broadened her search across the country. She found our small retreat right here in McLean, Va. She took a risk, bought her plane ticket and, suddenly, she was in Virginia. (Read more…)

Stepping into His Marvelous Light

stepintolightThe Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord (Lamentations 3:25-26).

Doesn’t this Scripture seem simple enough? I have been meditating on this Scripture for about a week now and have discovered so many different areas of restlessness in my heart. The Holy Spirit has been more than generous to bring into the light the areas of my life when I am impatient and need salvation.

Do you have an area in your life that wants to keep you from moving forward because it is screaming to be nursed or healed?

If you just answered, “Yes!” like I did, you understand that it feels like we are in a rut sometimes – unable to get our footing and maybe even terrified to move forward. It is like we are stuck in a cave blinded by the darkness and afraid to step into the light.«Continue Reading»

Encourage & Teach: Deacon’s 7 #backtoschool Tips for a Fruitful Academic Year

Back to School Road SignCrosby, Stills and Nash were on to something with their 1970 hit, “Teach Your Children.” Education has been so important in the formation of society and cultures. U.S. Catholic education has a long tradition of effectively presenting and teaching the systematic truths of the faith, and yet, for the past 40 years, that education system has experienced a number of challenges in forming virtue and holiness. It is an unfortunate truth that many U.S. Catholics have no clue what we believe or understand, our theology of work.

For the public schools here in the fair Commonwealth of Virginia, school is back in session. The Catholic schools are already a week into the year. Summer is waning and the hustle and bustle of academics and sports have only just begun. I thought I might offer a total of seven thoughts for parents and students to consider as they ease back into the academic year. (Read more…)

Encourage & Teach: The Horn of Salvation

One of my favorite movies is Despicable Me. It could be that Agnes, one of the three orphan girls in the movie, is the spitting image of my niece Emma. agnesThere is this great scene in the movie when Gru wins Agnes a stuffed unicorn and she makes this hilarious face and exclaims, “It’s so flufffffyyyy!” Agnes loves unicorns and so does the Church…just for different reasons. (Read more…)

Encourage & Teach: Honoring Our Lady through Customs

5177-assumption-of-the-virgin-francesco-granacci1This Friday, August 15, marks the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It marks when the Blessed Virgin was taken up by the Holy Trinity, body and soul into glory. The significance of this mystery should not be understated. As the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (Directory) states it, “This is an ancient memorial of the Mother of God, which signifies and synthesizes many of the truths of the faith” (Directory, 180). (Read more…)

Reflections on Beauty and Perfectionism

concheMy children are a constant source of wisdom. Their perspective on life never ceases to amaze to me. They find beauty in the smallest and oddest things and events. Take for example seashells.

When we go on our yearly family vacation to the Outer Banks, we have daily excursions, rain or shine – save hurricanes and tropical storms, down the beach to search for seashells. My dream has always been to find the perfect conch while working on the beach…«Continue Reading»

Encourage & Teach: The Voice of God is Upon Many Waters

There is something profound about the sound of the breaking waves of an ocean upon the seashore. I really cannot explain why it is except to say that I sense that if I had “ears to hear,” I would be able to perceive the voice of our Lord.

J.R.R. Tolkien, in The Silmarillion seemed to infer the same when he wrote:

“It is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen.”

Sacred Scripture provides a number of references relating to either the voice of the Lord or His coming…(Read more…)

Encourage & Teach: St. Martha’s Lessons in Prayer and Work

ST MarthaToday is my daughter’s seventeenth birthday. Not sure how this happened so quickly but here we are. It is also the memorial of St. Martha who, as many of us know, is one of Lazarus’ two sisters. Hannah reminds me of St. Martha because of her love for quiet and creative service so I thought I would reflect upon that today.

Now, if you still are wondering who this St. Martha is, she is also remembered as the poor soul who was famously chided in Luke 10:38-42. (Read more…)