The Baptism of the Lord

Last Saturday, we went to Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Marshfield to celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and the installation of Father Mark Ballard as the new pastor.

 FrBallard_Picture 277

FrBallard_Picture 286

This is Father Ballard’s first pastorate and there is great enthusiasm at his appointment. There was a huge crowd that came to accompany him as he officially begins his pastoral duties, including parishioners, family and well-wishers.

FrBallard_Picture 285

Father Ballard is coming from All Saints Parish in Haverhill, where he did a tremendous job. We wish all the best to the outgoing pastor, Father Thomas Reilly, who is retiring.

– – –

Sunday, we offered a Mass at the Bethany Chapel in the Pastoral Center for all religious sisters, brothers and priests in the archdiocese followed by an open house and reception. The religious who work here in the Pastoral Center acted as the tour guides, showing people around and acting as hosts for the event.



Following the Mass, I blessed an image of the Sts. Martha and Mary attending to the Lord at Bethany, which was given to me by the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, who care for the chapel at the Pastoral Center.




Also during the gathering, Sister Marian Batho presented me with a wonderful history of religious women and men in the archdiocese over the last two centuries, “Journeying Together.” The book is the result of a great deal of work by Sister Mary Rita Grady, who compiled a marvelous collection of histories, chronologies and statistics.


I certainly agree with Sister Marian when she said the book is a wonderful love story between the religious and God’s people here in the Church in Boston. I am also pleased that it is a “love story” that continues to be written, as the foreword of the book says.

– – –

In the afternoon, in the chapel of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, I baptized Michael Xavier Tracy, the son of The Pilot’s managing editor, Gregory Tracy, and his wife Donis, who also writes for the paper.



It was a great privilege to be celebrating a baptism on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

In my remarks, I said I was especially pleased because in the last several decades, there has been a renewal of the Church’s emphasis on this sacrament of Baptism. For example, the RCIA program has been reinstituted as one way to receive adults into the faith.

I also talked about the Holy Father’s meeting with the Neocatechumenal Way the day before to mark the 40th anniversary of its arrival in Rome and how this charism strives to renew the baptismal faith of adults through an itinerary of Catholic formation.


We are all called to fulfill Jesus’ last commandment to us: Make disciples of all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This initiates believers into the life of the Trinity.

– – –

Monday, we went to visit the Trappistine Sisters at Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham. It was my first visit to them since the blessing of their new abbess, Mother Maureen McCabe, who replaced Mother Agnes Day.

They also have a new chaplain from St. Joseph’s Monastery in Spencer, Father Gabriel, who is replacing Father Aquinas.


We celebrated Mass in their chapel, which is stunning in its simplicity and its typical Cistercian austerity.

After Mass, we had lunch with the sisters and we had a dialogue with them in their chapter room. They have a community of about 50 sisters. I was happy to see that there were six with white veils, which means the women are novices, so there are new vocations coming along.


In the Benedictine and Cistercian tradition, they always support themselves by the work of their hands. One of the ways they support themselves is by making candies and chocolates. I was thrilled that they presented me some to bring home with me, as they always do.


(Someone asked me if that was the real reason I visit. It isn’t. But, it is one of the side benefits!)

– – –

The American Bible Society prepared a deluxe polyglot version of the Bible that they made to mark the occasion of the Catholic Church’s Synod on the Word of God, which took place in Rome last October.

Presentation of the polyglot bible to Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley by representatives of the American Bible Society in the chapel of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pastoral Center Jan. 13, 2009.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Presentation of the polyglot bible to Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley by representatives of the American Bible Society in the chapel of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pastoral Center Jan. 13, 2009.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

They presented one copy to the Holy Father and one to each of the synodal fathers, and they came to present me with a copy as well.

There are different columns with the Scriptures in Hebrew, Greek, English, Spanish and Latin.

Presentation of the polyglot bible to Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley by representatives of the American Bible Society in the chapel of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pastoral Center Jan. 13, 2009.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Rev. Dr. Richard Jeske made the presentation along with Mario Paredes. Mario, whom I have known for many years, is now working with the society as a member of their board.

 Presentation of the polyglot bible to Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley by representatives of the American Bible Society in the chapel of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pastoral Center Jan. 13, 2009.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Receiving the Bible from Rev. Jeske

Presentation of the polyglot bible to Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley by representatives of the American Bible Society in the chapel of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pastoral Center Jan. 13, 2009.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Mario Paredes

Presentation of the polyglot bible to Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley by representatives of the American Bible Society in the chapel of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pastoral Center Jan. 13, 2009.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

With the delegation from the society

They also alluded to the fact that it was Cardinal Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros who sponsored the creation of the first polyglot Bible in Spain, which was published in 1517.


Cardinal  Cisneros


A page of the original polyglot Bible

We had lunch with the representatives of the society. Afterwards, there was a presentation in Spanish and Portuguese of a lecture on the Lectio Divina for some of our people from our different ethnic ministries, along with Bishop Allué.

– – –

Currently, I am in Mexico City, where I am attending the Sixth World Meeting of Families. It is a great opportunity for us to reflect on and celebrate the gift of family life for the Church and for society at large.

The meeting usually takes place every three years and the last conference was in Valencia, Spain and the Holy Father presided there. There are 300 bishops and cardinals participating and I was asked to make one of the talks. We will conclude the conference with a Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

At the conference, there are discussions on a great variety of topics concerning family life and marriage. On the opening day, the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, addressed the conference and made a beautiful discourse.

President Calderon is the first Mexican president in many, many decades to be a practicing Catholic. He is a man of deep conviction and commitment to the Gospel of Life and to marriage. He gave a very powerful witness talk.

Thursday, as I walked around the convention center, people kept coming up to me and thanking me for the beautiful talk that I gave on Wednesday. I thanked them profusely, but I didn’t give my talk on Wednesday — Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Capuchin who is the preacher of the papal household, did!


Father Cantalamessa

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley is pictured in his office Nov. 8, 2006.<br /> Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot<br />

What do you think? 

I hope to tell you more about the World Meeting of Families in next week’s blog.

In Christ,
Cardinal Seán

22 thoughts on “The Baptism of the Lord”

  1. Dear Colleen,

    I missed this earlier. I don’t like a lot of the decisions that Cardinal Sean has been making as well, some are indeed heartbreaking and unfathomable, but please don’t leave the church. The Mass is the summit of our faith, and your son’s.

    In all honestly, Cardinal O’Malley, you’re looking very smug in that photo.

  2. Dear heartbroken,

    I feel your pain. I, too, am disappointed in this church, but please don’t leave. Come to worship and give thanks for all that is good. The sacraments are such a beautiful gift. It’s the evil one at work, trying to wear you down. We need to pray for our priests.

    I will keep you in my prayers.

    God love you!

  3. Cardinal Sean,

    Last evening at Cathedral of the Holy Cross parish council meeting I raised the question of our participation in the US Bishops post card campaign asking President Obama not to sign the “Freedom of Choice Act.” I was told that preparations had not been made for start of the campaign on January 24-25. This is a startling disappointment and embarrassment to those of us who have worked so hard to gain minimal recognition under law for the unborn, the rights of parents, and the victims of abortion-child and mother. FOCA will strip away all such protections and force religious organizations and medical professionals to participate in this holocaust.

    Among President Obama’s first acts as president was to nullify the “Mexico City Policy” or Hyde Amendment. He fulfilled his campaign promise to restore taxpayer funding of abortion by providers such as Planned Parenthood to promote and provide international abortion services. Quickly thereafter, Senator John Kerry endorsed this “women’s health program”, disparaging the policy as a “Gag Rule.”

    Senators Kerry and Kennedy, both profess to be Catholics, yet have been virtually 100% advocates of the abortion license, including taxpayer funding of abortion, and opposing even commonsense restrictions on its gruesome practice. Senator Kennedy will soon be called to an accounting before Almighty God for his actions. Will he be sent to this accounting after having received a Catholic funeral and burial, most likely presided over by you, or one of your bishops? The deafening silence and feeble challenges to Catholic politicians who openly advocate for abortion, embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage by the Catholic hierarchy is scandalous. The Church has been marginalized by its failure to act and become beholden to insurance companies and lawyers, rather than the Gospel.

    Gerry Zeller

  4. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I wanted to let you know, that it has been 9 days since it was announced that Our Lady of Lourdes would attempt to be closed by your order of Capuchins. I have actually been physically ill over this for 9 days. I come from a long line of Catholic school graduates (mother,father,husband,brother,me etc). My son is in his second year at this beautiful school. It made my parents and me so happy when he comes home and says things like “a dove is two things, a bird and the holy spirit”, it sounds wonderful coming from a five year old who has also learned to read at the hand of his great teachers. It is going to break my heart to not send him to Catholic school anymore. However, I grew up in JP and I know a lot of pain that has been dispensed by the Catholic churches here. I was under the impression we were moving on but it seems like children are still paying. This is the last iron fist I can handle. I will have to tell my husband’s parents in Ireland that we are not Catholics anymore if this school closes and that is going to break their hearts since both sides of my family have always been so faithful. My wonderful Aunt is a nun in New Jersey and she is already aware of the path my husband and I are going to take. My husband always takes my sons to the 10am mass at OLOL on Sunday (I go a day earlier because of my job). He refused to go this past Sunday. I truly hope you find it in your heart to change your plans, a person can only take so much.

  5. Hello, I am an eight-grade student at St. Paul School. This week’s blog was a wonder to read. This week Cardinal Sean baptized a new member of the Church. I enjoy baptisms because I witness a human entering God’s kingdom. Cardinal Sean, have fun in Mexico City!

  6. Hello, I am an eight-grade student at St. Paul School in Hingham. This week’s blog was a wonder to read. This week Cardinal Sean baptized a new member of the Church. I enjoy baptisms because I witness a human entering God’s kingdom. Cardinal Sean, have fun in Mexico City!

  7. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    This was another great blog. What a busy week you had. I appreciate all that you do and so does everyone else at St.Paul School. I ecspecially liked the part about the Biblia Polygotta, it was very interesting. I can’t wait until your next blog!
    Caroline Sullivan

  8. Cardinal Sean, thank you for writing a wonderful blog once again! I think the most interesting part of your blog was the Bliblia Polyglotta! Can’t wait for your next blog!

  9. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I am a student at St. Paul School in Hingham, MA. I enjoyed reading your blog. I loved reading about the history of the Polyglot. It sounds so interesting and fascinating. You must feel honored to own one of them. I am excited to read your next blog.
    Kelly Callahan

  10. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I greatly enjoyed reading your blog this week. I especially liked learning a brief history of the polyglot Bible. The page displayed of the original polyglot Bible looked interesting. It must be great to own your own copy. Also, I hope you have a good time during your stay in Mexico City. I can’t wait for your next blog!

    – Gabriella

  11. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    My name is Johnny and I am a student at St. Paul School in Hingham, Massachusetts. I thought this week’s blog was wonderful. The part I enjoyed reading the most was the part about how you celebrated a Mass in Marshfield. Marshfield is very close to where I live, so maybe sometime you can come and celebrate a Mass at my Church. Thank you Cardinal Sean for another great blog.

  12. Cardinal Sean, again another great and informative blog!! You are very busy all the time and I do not know how you do it! The Biblia Polyglotta looked absolutely incredible and very difficult to read!! I do agree that you and Father Cantalamessa look very much a like!!!!

    Until you next blog!!

    Clara King
    St. Paul School Student
    Hingham Ma.

  13. Hello, Cardinal Sean,

    I am a student of Saint Paul School in Hingham, Massachusetts. I thought, after reading, your blog it was once again a very interesting and well done blog! 🙂 The Biblia Polygotta looked very interesting! Well, I’ll be looking forward to your next blog.


  14. Every week your blog amazes me! It’s great to be able to read about your experiences, and then see the beautiful pictures. It must have been a great honor to baptize Michael Xavier Tracy. I can’t wait until next week’s blog!!

  15. I think that it is so wonderful that the Bible has been translated into more and more languages throughout the years. This allows people who are from other countries who speak foreign languages to be able to read about Christ and the good news.

  16. Cardinal, I laughed out loud when I read some had confused you with Father Cantalamessa. I had seen Father Cantalamessa at the CMSWR gathering in Bellville just a few months ago, and first thought it was YOU when I saw him! And you not only look alike… you must preach alike, too … you are both excellent!

  17. Cardinal Sean ~

    Another wonderful entry.

    Father Cantalamessa and you have a remarkable resemblance.

    I wonder if he and you appeared together and if so did people do a double-take?

    I know I would if I saw the two of you next to each other.

  18. Saturday January 17th 2008 2pm
    Hi Cardinal Sean,
    I just read at the moment you are in Mexico City, and so I will offer the following Prayer for you while you are on your trip In Mexico: Perfect Ever Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we Live, You who are our Compassionate Mother , we seek you , we beseech you, Mercifully heed Our Cries and Sadness, Heal our sorrows our afflictions and our pains, gentle and loving mother shelter us in the hollow of your mantle in the fold of your arms let nothing distress nor disturb our hearts reveal to us your Beloved Son so that with him and in him we may find our salvation and the salvation of the world ,May our Lady of Guadaluape make us your messengers ,messengers of the word and of the will of god. Amen.
    Thank you for all the ministering and traveling you do for Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Blessed Mother, and Thankyou for sharing your works with us through your writings and pictures. Its always a Joy to read ! Blessings, Ann

  19. I think, Your Eminence, that you are rightly honored to be mistaken for the brilliant Fr. Cantalamessa. However, please make sure that no such mistake is made with the airlines upon your leaving for Boston– we prefer our Cardinal back please!

  20. “Heartbroken”

    Even though I was baptized by a pedophile priest who has since been killed in prison – I stayed.

    When classmates of my siblings committed suicide later in life because of the abuse they suffered at the hands of the clergy – I stayed

    When I lost my mother at a young age before she could witness my graduation from college – I stayed

    When my home parish with its school was closed – I stayed

    I prayed and understood my calling to serve my community. That God would guide me through this turmoil. When I saw your picture in the newspaper surrounded by children, I thought finally the living Gospel was among us. And when on your blog there was a picture of a student giving you a high-five during the procession of Mass, you accepted that gesture with as much enthusiasm as the child offering it. This along with the Campaign for Catholic Schools, I thought finally there is Hope.

    And when I got to know some of your fellow Capuchin friars, I believed there would be a restoration of faith for so many still hurting. That God’s presence through the message of St. Francis would bring people to a greater understanding; that together as brothers & sisters in Christ, we would find a way. That we would fulfill a mission to children and families – that we would preach the value of a Catholic education to those in our pews and preach the value of returning to the Eucharist to families in our parochial schools.

    Yet I find myself stunned & heartbroken. Heartbroken for believing in You and your Brothers, heartbroken for being witness to their failure. Instead of seizing the calling and opportunity God has placed before them, they turned away from it. Closing is failure when other options, real solutions exist. When the Apostles tried to keep the children from Jesus because they decided amongst themselves that Jesus was too busy & too tired, Jesus’ reaction was the exact opposite. He said let the children come to me – much like your pictures. And that is when I realized why I am so heartbroken, why the pain is so severe I feel it physically that it brings me to tears – for I know that it is because Jesus weeps with me.

    I feel in my heart that God will guide me but know that my church cannot. While I am just one person who may not matter to you or your brothers, I know that when I am brought to my eternal resting place, which could be 50 years from now or tomorrow, that I will have mattered to God.

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January 2009