Sunday, November 29, 2015


Saint Paul prays for the Christian congregation in the city of Thessalonica with these words. 

"Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you." [1 Thes 3:1]

As we hear him pray for an abundance of love among fellow believers it is important for us to understand the context in which his prayer is offered is one of "Advent" spirit. St. Paul prays that there might be an abundant love among them, as an expression of faith in the anticipation of the return of Christ. May you love one another, not simply because it is a nice thing to do, but love because of your faith that Christ has come and will come again because of his love for us. 

The sense of “advent” was very real to even the earliest of the Christian communities. They lived their lives not assuming that the reunion with Christ was far off, but imminent. They also did not anticipate that coming in fear, but with a joyful expectation. For them and for us, that coming of Christ is something we long for; in history and in our own passing from this life. 

How do we prepare for that reunion? Do we anticipate meeting the Lord and offering him all the times we fought against something or will we be able to show him all the times our actions show what we were for? Will we present to him the times and places in which we acted with love, or we only be able to offer him the occasions of our righteous anger?  We he only see our lamentations of suffering or our works of mercy? 

Advent is a season of anticipation which leads us to celebrating the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth. It begins, however, as a time to anticipate the ultimate and final coming of Christ. We are called therefore to spend time, during this season, reflecting on the implications of that reality. The birth of Jesus is the Father’s response to humanity and so we prepare by reflecting on the forgiveness of God, God’s compassion, and God’s love. We look forward by looking back at where we have seen God in our lives and where we long for him in our future. 

I pray that as we begin this advent season that we actively anticipate the birth of Christ by reflecting, praying and loving. What is your prayer this Advent?

Friday, November 20, 2015


I thank all who have been a prayerful support and have shared my sabbatical with me.  Enjoy this farewell video.


Relic of the chains which bound St. Peter during his captivity in Rome
The final week of my sabbatical program here in Rome was a retreat given to us by the theologian of the Papal Household, Fr. Wojciech Giertych, O.P.  Fr. Giertych's led us in examining the discipleship of Peter, as seen from the perspective of Mark's gospel. It has long been a tradition in scripture scholarship that the author of Mark's gospel is a companion of Peter, who writes for the Christian community in 1st century Rome.  For the purpose of the retreat, Father asked us to read this gospel as Peter remembering his time with Jesus.  From this lens, we were seeing the gospel's perspective not as one of triumph but also a reflection of Peter's regrets and failure's along the way. Peter is harsh on himself and the other disciples and therefore tells the story of the Good News, from one who was weak, sometimes failed and maybe perhaps wished he could go back and re-do what he had missed.  As Peter approaches death, he remembers what he has done and what he has failed to do.
Fr. Wojciech Giertych, O.P.

We were blessed with many insights during the talks, but the overall theme stuck with me.  As I leave Rome, part of my sadness is that I look back on the 7 weeks and reevaluate what I could have taken better advantage of.  I know that in my life too, I can get stuck on past failures and missed opportunities. Our meditation on Mark's Gospel, as Peter's reflection on his past, brought us to a closer realization and acceptance of the fact that it is not about our accomplishments and satisfaction.  "Thy will be done," we pray.  The Father's will is done, not through me but through Christ who chooses me as he chose Peter, with human weakness clearly evident. I may never feel completely accomplished, but the real measure is what has God accomplished through me. 

I don't think in offering us these insights we were being encouraged to not worry about our shortcomings, but rather to recognize the love of Christ for me, who fails, and because he loves me, he asks me as he asked Peter, "Do you love me?....Feed my sheep."

Celebrating Mass at the nearby church dedicated to St. Onafrio.
The rector of the church is the brother of a Holy Family parishioner

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Fr. Gerard Gentleman with Diocese of Rockville Centre Seminarians
Alexander Turpin, Michael Bissex and Leo Song
after celebrating Mass together at St. Peter's Basilica
"I will give you shepherds after my own heart" (Jer. 3:15).
In these words from the prophet Jeremiah, God promises his people that he will never leave them without shepherds to gather them together and guide them:

Saturday, November 07, 2015

MALTA - A Pilgrimage Experience

St. Paul's Island, Malta - The sight of the shipwreck of the vessel carrying the imprisoned St. Paul to Rome
In reviewing the outline of my Roman sabbatical program, the pilgrimage to Malta intrigued me on two levels.  First, I questioned how this fit the theme of the sabbatical module on evangelization and second, I wondered, what there really was to do in Malta. My questions were more then answered in these five days.