Hello and welcome back!
Last Friday, I had one of my periodic meetings with a group of our seminarians. In addition to the meetings I have with all the seminarians together, on occasion I have been holding these gatherings by class, because it provides the opportunity to have more interaction with the men. This group was mainly those in First Theology.
As always, they came for Evening Prayer and dinner followed by a very nice conversation.
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Saturday I was visited by Father Red Raux, who is a military chaplain stationed in Germany. He was home on leave visiting his family and he always makes a point of stopping in to say hello. As always, it was good to see him.
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Sunday, was scheduled to be the Rite of Election here at the Cathedral. However, because of the incredible amount of snow that has turned many of the streets of the South End into one-way streets with no parking — and our parking lot being out of commission because of construction — we decided to assign the Rite of Election to parishes this year.
Despite having cancelled the rite, we have invited all our new Catholics to gather with us at the Cathedral for the Vigil of Pentecost, because it is important for them to see that they are joining, not just a parish community, but the Universal Church.
It is also helpful for them to see that they are not alone in their decision to join the Church, and that there are hundreds of other people in the archdiocese who are on this same journey. And, of course, all of us accompany them on this journey. As I often say, Lent for us is a baptismal retreat and the Rite of Election is a very strong reminder of that. On Holy Saturday all Catholics will be invited to renew their baptismal vows as we bless the Easter water. It will be a great joy to celebrate the Easter sacraments with our new Catholics.
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That afternoon, I went to the parish of St. James the Great for a Mass with the Chinese Catholic Community for the celebration of Chinese New Year. The Chinese and many other Asian cultures follow the lunar calendar, and this year the new year fell on the First Sunday of Lent.
As many of you know, each year in the Chinese calendar has an animal associated with it, according to a 12 year zodiac cycle. This year is the Year of the Sheep so, in my reflection, I shared with the people that while the Gregorian calendar does not have animals associated with it the way the Chinese calendar does, we do use animal symbolism in the Church. For example, the eagle symbolizes St. John the Evangelist; the lion, St. Mark; the ox, St. Luke; and the dove, the Holy Spirit.
I told them that the two animals that are used to represent Christ are the pelican and the lamb. The symbol of the pelican comes out of medieval legends that pelicans somehow wounded themselves to feed their flesh and blood to their young. Of course, it was only a myth, but it is very Eucharistic in its symbolism.
The lamb, however, is a very biblical symbol. So I took them through the Old Testament, beginning with Abel’s sacrifice of the lamb that was acceptable to God, then Abraham and the Paschal Lamb of the Exodus. In the New Testament, of course, John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God. And then there is the Seder meal of the Last Supper and the fact that in St. John’s Gospel, it says that in not breaking Jesus’s legs, the centurion fulfilled the Scripture that “Not a bone of it [the Pascal Lamb] will be broken.”
All of these things remind us of the symbolism of the lamb and, in fact, in the Mass we refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God six times. So, I told the people, even though we may be celebrating the Year of the Sheep, we are all followers of the Lamb of God and are saved by his light.
After the Mass they had a great celebration, including a lion dance.
They presented me with a cabbage, which I am sure will bring me great good luck during this year!
Of course the celebration included excellent Chinese food!
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On Tuesday we had one of our regular St. Andrews Dinners at St. John’s Seminary for young men discerning a vocation to the priesthood. It is an opportunity for them to participate in the Holy Hour and Vespers with the seminarians and to experience the seminary — including a chance to eat in the refectory, which is straight out of a Harry Potter movie!
Three of the seminarians gave witness talks — Joseph Kim, Joe Hubbard and Chris Boyle — then I addressed the young men.
Our St. Andrews Dinners have been an important tool in raising consciousness of vocations. Because, for example, even if the young men who attend the dinner do not have a vocation to the priesthood themselves, maybe a friend will and this experience will help them be supportive of that.
As I always say, everyone has a vocation, but vocations to the priesthood are particularly important to the Church and every Catholic should concern themselves with praying for and promoting priestly vocations.
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Wednesday I went to visit the Jesuit community of Boston College. They recently finished renovating St. Mary’s Hall, which is one of the oldest buildings on campus.
St. Mary’s Hall is in the foreground. In the background is Gasson Hall, which is the oldest building on campus.
There are a couple things that are truly emblematic of St. Mary’s Hall. One is this wrought iron gateway in the hallway that says, Domus Mea Domus Orationis, which is Latin for “My house is a house of prayer”.
There is also the Jesuit crest which is the rector’s office.
It is amazing that 100 years ago, when they were beginning this college, they were able to put up such stunning buildings.
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Finally, yesterday we had the retirement celebration for Pilar Latorre, who has worked serving the Hispanic Apostolate in the archdiocese for over 40 years, most of which had been in the Office for Religious Education.
We held a gathering for her in the cafeteria. It was gratifying to see how many of her friends and current and former co-workers came to thank her for her service.
I presented her with a retirement gift and a bouquet of flowers. Afterwards, Pilar offered some very moving remarks thanking everyone for their collaboration and support over her many years of service.
Finally she cut a cake that, I think, looked worthy of marking four decades of service!
Throughout these 40 years, Pilar has been a force for the good in the archdiocese, giving profound faith formation to multiple generations of Hispanics. She will be sorely missed.
Until next week,