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February 22, 2011

Chair of St. Peter

From: www.americancatholic.org

This feast commemorates Christ’s choosing Peter to sit in his place as the servant-authority of the whole Church (see June 29).

After the “lost weekend” of pain, doubt and self-torment, Peter hears the Good News. Angels at the tomb say to Magdalene, “The Lord has risen! Go, tell his disciples and Peter.” John relates that when he and Peter ran to the tomb, the younger outraced the older, then waited for him. Peter entered, saw the wrappings on the ground, the headpiece rolled up in a place by itself. John saw and believed. But he adds a reminder: “..[T]hey did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead” (John 20:9). They went home. There the slowly exploding, impossible idea became reality. Jesus appeared to them as they waited fearfully behind locked doors. “Peace be with you,” he said (John 20:21b), and they rejoiced.

The Pentecost event completed Peter’s experience of the risen Christ. “...[T]hey were all filled with the holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4a) and began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them.

Only then can Peter fulfill the task Jesus had given him: “... [O]nce you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). He at once becomes the spokesman for the Twelve about their experience of the Holy Spirit—before the civil authorities who wished to quash their preaching, before the council of Jerusalem, for the community in the problem of Ananias and Sapphira. He is the first to preach the Good News to the Gentiles. The healing power of Jesus in him is well attested: the raising of Tabitha from the dead, the cure of the crippled beggar. People carry the sick into the streets so that when Peter passed his shadow might fall on them.

Even a saint experiences difficulty in Christian living. When Peter stopped eating with Gentile converts because he did not want to wound the sensibilities of Jewish Christians, Paul says, “...I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.... [T]hey were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel...” (Galatians 2:11b, 14a).

At the end of John’s Gospel, Jesus says to Peter, “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). What Jesus said indicated the sort of death by which Peter was to glorify God. On Vatican Hill, in Rome, during the reign of Nero, Peter did glorify his Lord with a martyr’s death, probably in the company of many Christians.

Second-century Christians built a small memorial over his burial spot. In the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine built a basilica, which was replaced in the 16th century.

February 16, 2011

Monks run great Campus Ministry Program

This winter Saint Vincent College students have been collecting small stuffed animals to distribute to disadvantaged children in Brazil and Taiwan.

A total of 479 stuffed animals were collected. The students will ship the animals to the locations where they will engage in service work this spring and summer. The spring break service trip to Brazil is from February 25 to March 4. While in Brazil the students will work with the Missionary Sisters of Christ and the children in the Sisters’ schools: Casa de Crianca and Aprenzizado do Dom José Gasper. The schools were founded to keep children who live in the favelas, or slums, off the street and to improve their quality of life and hope for the future.

The service trip to Taiwan will be in July. While in Taiwan, the students will work at Cathwel Service, an orphanage for 120 students who are born with disabilities or serious illness; as well as for those who are abandoned or parentless because their families are not able or interested in caring for them. In addition to the orphanage, the students will also live and work in a remote mountain village where they extend this same love and compassion to not only children but also to the elderly.

Through these service trips, the Saint Vincent students give of their time and love to transcend language, age and cultural barriers.

February 14, 2011

Sts. Cyril and Methodius

FROM: www.saintvincentarchabbey.org

Because their father was an officer in a part of Greece inhabited by many Slavs, Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius became evangelists, teachers and promoters of the Slavic peoples and their grown in the faith. After inventing the Cyrillic alphabet the language and culture of these eastern European peoples was preserved; these brothers were able to teach the Slavs the faith and discipline of the universal church. Their sacrifice of praise, which became the Eastern Liturgy, was a source of inspiration and education in the ways of the Kingdom of God. The sanctity of these two Greek brothers, who fell in love with the Slavic peoples and suffered great misunderstanding and even rejection and exile because of their missionary zeal, is a brilliant witness to the courage and humility of living in the transforming union with Christ. These Apostles to the Slavs are saints not because they won some ecclesial battle in the church of their day, but it is their willingness to react to the political and cultural struggles of their day with faith that summons each of us to offer our own lives as a living sacrifice of praise from the rising of the sun to its setting. Liturgy, that is not one with all of life, is not pleasing to the LORD God Almighty. It is never enough for us to recite his statues or profess his covenant with our mouth; we must delight in his discipline and never speak against our siblings much less hate them because of their worship. In his union with us, the LORD God does not act according to our prejudice or ignore our offenses. He hears the cries of those whose blood we shed and demands of us repentance and change of life. Indeed, the growing desire for and actual unity of the Western and Eastern churches is a bright sign of the power of right worship, orthodoxy, to enable our unconditional love for and openness of heart to every son and daughter of Adam and Eve.

The union between Adam and Eve brought two sons into the world. Such a loving union produces brothers who eventually bring deadly disunity into the world. Cain was a farmer and Abel a shepherd. Both were inspired to bring an offering to the LORD from the fruits of their labor. Cain offered the LORD some of his produce. Abel brought before the LORD one of his best firstlings from his flock. Already there is a clear difference between the two sacrifices. Cain's sacrifice was adequate for the ritual, but Abel's was beyond the external requirements necessary for worship. This distinction was the cause of a rift between the first brothers. From Abel's heart came a living sacrifice of praise symbolized by his offering "the best" firstling he could find. Cain's heart was crestfallen and resentful. The LORD challenged the elder brother with this question, "Why are you so resentful and crestfallen?" He goes on to warn Cain that sin is a demon lurking at the door of his heart; because of his wounded pride this demon's urge is toward conquest and domination of Cain's heart. When we are weak, the demon takes full advantage of the situation, but we can be the masters of our own destiny. Cain does not heed the wisdom from on high; rather, he attacks and kills his younger brother. The LORD God does not ignore the blood of Abel that cries out from the earth that Cain used to farm. Rather, the LORD God makes Cain a restless wanderer on the earth. He is rootless and disconnected from the earth that once gave him life. His heartless sacrifice and his cruel fratricide condemn him to wander aimlessly encountering those who would take his life, but the LORD puts a mark on Cain so that he must not be killed like he killed Abel. God's love for Abel and his self-sacrificing worship is remembered in the sign put on the head of Cain. This wanderer gives silent witness to the love of God that triumphs over even the destructive hate between brothers. On this feast we celebrate a brotherly love that is the fruit of divine love, and we witness the love of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius inviting the East and West to become one sacrifice of praise.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world and his life is full of signs. His preaching and healing ministry is sign enough for anyone who approaches him with even the most miniscule faith. The Pharisees had no faith in our Lord Jesus. They had fear, challenges, and opposition, but no faith. It seems that they wanted the Lord Jesus to perform a sign, to do a miracle, that no one could doubt. They demanded an irrefutable sign; they wanted the Lord to perform a sign from heaven that finally proved his identity to everyone, even them. This is not unfamiliar complaining; our ancestors in the wilderness complained that the Lord had taken them away from the delightful food in Egypt in order to let them die of hunger and thirst. All the Lord Jesus could do in the face of such a complaint is to sigh from the depth of his spirit. At first his anger is wordless, then he refuses to be tested like the Father was tested in the Exodus: "Amen, I say to you no sign will be given this generation." Then He left them to stew in their own juices. He got into the boat again; this time and went the other side of the lake. He came to summon all people to light and love; without faith this kind of relation ship is impossible. And for people without faith, such light and love is not possible.

February 9, 2011

Students Celebrate Feast of St. Blaise with Blaze

St. Blaise has nothing in his history about blazes but don’t tell that to generations of students at Saint Vincent College where the Feast of St. Blaise has been an opportunity for hundreds to enjoy a giant bonfire fueled with discarded Christmas trees – after getting their throats blessed by the Benedictine monk-priests of the Catholic, liberal arts College’s creative Campus Ministry.

“We have sponsored this unique event for decades in cooperation with our Student Government Association,” Fr. Vincent Zidek, O.S.B., director of campus ministry, explained. “This social and liturgical celebration is held in conjunction with the feast day of St. Blaise, a fourth century bishop of Sebaste, Armenia. Saint Blaise is said to have healed a boy who was choking. Since the 8th century, he has been venerated as the patron saint of those who suffer from diseases of the throat.”

The event is held on the Friday evening closest to the February 3 feast day.

Saint Vincent College’s St. Blaise Blaze starts with the traditional blessing of throats with two candles which are blessed and held against the throat for protection from afflictions of the throat and from other illnesses. The student-staffed Saint Vincent Fire Department builds the bonfire with discarded live Christmas trees contributed by faculty, staff and neighbors. The fire is located in an open field near the freshman residence hall, Saint Benedict Hall.

“In the lobby of the residence hall, we also have live music by student bands and fun foods such as hot dogs, hot chocolate, popcorn and snow cones,” Fr. Vincent said. “Despite frigid outdoor temperatures, hundreds of students enjoy this unusual celebration until well after midnight every year.”

Bishop Speaks to SVC students on Pro-Life

Our Bishop Lawrence Brandt, Diocese of Greensburg, spoke to our students on "The New Abortion" addressing the Church's teachings on In Vitro Fertilization. The students enjoyed Pizza afterward with a question and answer segment. A great time was had by all. Thank you Bishop Brandt!

February 4, 2011

And the Church says "AMEN"

Br. Maximilian, OSB a native Philadelphian, finally has jumped on the Steeler Bandwagon and was excited to show it at yesterday's college pep-rally.


PITTSBURGH—After winning his wager with Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore on the Steelers-Ravens game, and abstaining from the AFC Championship game, Bishop David Zubik has come to an agreement with Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay on the Super Bowl this Sunday.

If the Pittsburgh Steelers win, Bishop Ricken will make a personal donation to Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh. “If the Packers win,” Bishop Zubik said, “I will make a personal donation to Catholic Charities Green Bay.”

In addition, Bishop Zubik said, “we have wagered a wide variety of local foods from each region to be personally donated to a food kitchen in the diocese of the winner.”

Archbishop O’Brien of Baltimore gave a generous donation to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh after the Steelers beat the Ravens. Despite having won his bet, Bishop Zubik made a similar donation to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The Super Bowl has an interesting side story for Bishop Zubik. A Pittsburgh native, Bishop Zubik spent four years as bishop of Green Bay before returning to Pittsburgh in 2007.

Does that mean that he was a warm spot for the Packers in the upcoming game?

“I have great love for the church of Green Bay,” Bishop Zubik states. “That does not extend to the Packers in the Super Bowl. Go Steelers!”

February 2, 2011

Feast of the Presentation

FROM: saintvincentarchabbey.org

"Lift up, O gates, your lintels!"

Never has the city of Jerusalem been so open. The gates are flung wide open; the lintels are lifted high; the portals couldn't be more accessible. Why all the excitement? The King of Glory approaches; his brightness is at the gate. Suddenly he comes to the temple; the one for whom we have been waiting. He comes as a messenger of the LORD to prepare the way before him. He is coming, the messenger of the covenant, who we desire, for whom we long, for whom we wait. Yes, his arrival is eminent. However, who will endure his coming? Who will stand tall when he arrives? This King of Glory is too bright for us to ignore. His glory shines into the depths of our dark and dreary lives. This brightness burns. This glory purifies. His coming changes everything. No longer do we have any excuses. Finally and definitively our sacrifice is made pleasing. The sacrifice of our broken hearts and the desires of our dried up tears is purified by the light of his glory. Indeed, it is transformed and united to his broken body and poured out blood offered on the cross outside the gates of the city so that all who pass by might catch a glimpse of the glory. A glory that refines like fire and purifies like love. Such is the King of Glory in all the brightness of his cross.

The Lord Jesus is the King of Glory, yet he himself was tested through what he suffered. This King on Calvary did not cling to his glory. He willingly sacrificed this glory; he emptied himself of glory, so that the children of blood and flesh might not be subject to slavery all their life. Christ, the Eternal Son of the Father, in becoming man became capable of suffering and death. This Divine Person took on our human nature so that he might be able to help those of us who are being tested even now. As the Letter to the Hebrews explains, the Lord Jesus came to help the descendants of Abraham not the angels. He became blood and flesh like his brothers and sisters; he became like us in every way but sin so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest. This priesthood is eternal like Melchizedek of old. In Christ, the New Melchizedek, we have a share in the one pure sacrifice that expiates the sins of all the people, in every generation, among all the nations. Indeed, we offer with Christ a pure sacrifice of praise, and we offer to Christ a pure sacrifice of praise because his glory has touched and transformed us into a living sacrifice of praise by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and for the glory of the Father, now and always and ever and forever!

When the days of our Christmas/Epiphany celebration are completed, we gather with blessed candles burning bright. We lift up our voices in praise and welcome the King of Glory. In this feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus in the Temple the liturgy reminds us again that the mystery of the incarnation does not fade like some Christmas decoration. This great mystery lights our way through Lent into Easter/Pentecost glory. At the gates of the New Jerusalem we meet the King of Glory who will become a sign that has been contradicted and is still contradicted. Not every heart is full of the bright glory of the Incarnate One. Not every heart is open to the purifying love of the King of Glory. As it was true for the Theotokos, so it is true for us. Simeon spoke a word of prophecy to the God-Bearer, and we who now bear the mystery of the Christ will also benefit from his words. "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted, and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Indeed, it is the shattered, pierced and broken hearts that alone can be purified by the light of the King of Glory. This share in her suffering, which is a share in her son’s suffering, is not a waste of time and energy. With the Great High Priest, who enters his temple today, we offer to the Father of Glory a living sacrifice of praise. Such is the true joy of our life and the only dignity of our love, pure and undefiled.

Pax et Gaudium

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness