The Epiphany of the Lord

January 6, 2019

Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, the eighth day in the Octave of Christmas. An Epiphany is an experience in which one sees something in a new way, in a way that has not been perceived before. In the Gospel today the Magi perceive that the King of Kings has been born, and they follow a star – a light shining in the darkness – to the newborn Light of the World. God appears in a way never before conceived, a new chapter of Salvation History opens, and the dawn of Eternal Life is made available to us all. God puts a divine exclamation point on His Incarnate Word, and the world will never be the same. It is no different for us. As we encounter the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, we are strengthened and emboldened to bring the Light into the darkness of a sinful world, and in doing so, we just might have an epiphany of our own.

For the Greater Glory of God,
Fr. Matt

Holy Family, Pray for Us!

December 30, 2018

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, is perhaps perhaps the most well-known family of all time. Of course there have been many families made popular in the news or entertainment industries over the years, but it’s not every day that we find a family wherein God has taken up residence with a Virgin Mother, and perfectly chaste father, and an abundance of angels, dreams, and visions. And it’s not just a matter of fairytale, either. This is exactly what happened in Bethlehem so long ago. This is the family that fled to Egypt to avoid Herod, and settled in Nazareth to live outside of the limelight. This is the family that shows us how to live with God in our midst. The Holy Family is about the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus growing with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in union with St. Joseph. That’s a powerful trio of intercessors who know what family struggles are all about. Families today have no shortage of struggles, and the family as an institution has been under attack from popular culture for decades. In the midst of our struggles it is critical that we remain connected in prayer with the Holy Family, asking for their intercession in our lives.

Holy Family, pray for us!

For the Greater Glory of God,
Fr. Matt

Merry Christmas to All!

December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas to All!

Merry Christmas, indeed! With another calendar year coming to a close and a new liturgical year just begun, St. Nicholas has done his handiwork, and we, the Catholics of Champaign County, take stock of the many blessings and graces we have received. Immense are the graces God has bestowed upon us, and verily, how shall we make a return to God for all the good He has done for us? In this new Year of Grace, we should all strive to know God better, to love God more, and to do everything in our power to grow closer to Him. That’s a sure-fire recipe for peace on earth, and goodwill toward men.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let Earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room, and Heaven and nature sing!

For the Greater Glory of God,
Fr. Matt

Come Lord Jesus!

December 17, 2018

Come, Lord Jesus!

Tomorrow is December 17th, and the Church enters into the octave of proximate preparation for Christmas. What does all that mean? Well, aside from the fact there are only 8 days until Christmas, the liturgies of the Church change to relate a more urgent sense of anticipation and preparation for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. In the commercial realm it is a frenzied time of people rushing to and fro to find just the right gift, but we need not be rushed or frenzied. We already have the perfect gift for God in honor of the Incarnation of His only Son: souls oriented toward eternal life, hearts afire with love for Christ, benevolent spirits mirroring God’s care for humanity. As we make our way through these last days leading up to Christmas, may we all take time to pause and thank God for the Gift of His Son, for His divine inspiration, for His graciousness to us. And may the attitude of Mary imbue all that we think, say, and do: “My soul magnifies the Lord; My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior; Let it be done according to Your Will.”

For the Greater Glory of God,
Fr. Matt

The Rosary Pope Speaks

December 9, 2018

The Rosary Pope Speaks

During his 25 year papacy, Pope Leo XIII encouraged all Christians to pray the rosary every day because it was a key to personal holiness and a powerful weapon in combating evil. Here are a few quotes from his numerous writings on the rosary.

“The rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.”

“The spirit of prayer and the practice of Christian life are best attained through the devotion of the rosary of Mary.”

“The rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, combining in a convenient and practical form an unexcelled form of prayer, an instrument well adapted to preserve the faith and an illustrious example of perfect virtue, should be often in the hands of the true Christian and be devoutly recited and meditated upon.”

“In places, families, and nations in which the rosary of Mary retains its ancient honor, the loss of faith through ignorance and vicious error need not be feared.”

“May Mary, the Mother of God and of men, herself the authoress and teacher of the rosary, procure for us its happy fulfillment.”

“A rosary a day keeps the devil away.”

For the Greater Glory of God,
Fr. Matt

Advent

December 2, 2018

Advent

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. As we begin a new Liturgical Year in the Church, indeed a Year of Grace, we should all be striving ever more to live in the Grace of God. This new beginning of the Church Year is an opportunity for us all to resolve to learn more about our beloved Catholic Faith, to understand more deeply the incredible Mystery of the Holy Mass, and to thrive on the Sacramental Graces available to us.

Don’t get caught up in the pointless rat race to find the best gift for this or that person. Understand that the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is the greatest of all Gifts. It is the efficacious sign of our salvation. It is the Source and Summit of our Faith. Instead of getting caught up in the pursuit of what you may “get” for Christmas, get caught up in what you can GIVE to God in celebration of the Incarnation of His Son. How about a heart and soul cleansed from sin? How about a deeper study of Sacred Scripture? It’s a new Church Year, and opportunities abound!

For the Greater Glory of God,
Fr. Matt

The Rosary Priest and the Family Rosary

November 18, 2018

The Servant of God Patrick Peyton (1909-1992) was an Irish priest whose efforts to spread the family rosary are unparalleled. Because he believed the rosary to be an effective tool for evangelization and catechesis, he desired to get 10 million families to pray the rosary every day. He initiated several movements to promote the family rosary and produced 15 short films that used the mysteries of the rosary as their central theme. He organized numerous rosary rallies some of which were attended by as many as two million people.

Fr. Peyton influenced Pope Saint Paul VI to write the 1974 apostolic letter Marialis Cultus in which the pope defended the rosary and placed special emphasis on the family rosary.

His devotion to Mary inspired people all over the world to pray the rosary as a means of peaceful resistance to dictatorial regimes. In 1986 Fr. Peyton’s message gave the Filipino people the courage to stand in front of President Ferdinand Marcos’ oncoming tanks with nothing but their rosaries. They were encouraged by billboards along the freeway that read, “The family that prays together stays together” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.” The rosary brought about a peaceful revolution without a single shot being fired.

“The family that prays together stays together.”

For the Greater Glory of God,
Fr. Matt

The Rosary Pope

Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903) is best known for Rerum Novarum, his famous encyclical written in response to the social injustices of the Industrial Revolution. He also composed the prayer to St. Michael, the archangel, following a mystical experience in which he heard Satan tell Our Lord that he could defeat the Church if he had more time and more power. Pope Leo understood that the coming century would be the bloodiest in history and that the Church would be attacked from many directions. In order to enter into spiritual combat, he ordered that extra prayers be said after every low Mass including the St. Michael prayer. These are the same prayers that we now say after Sunday Mass.

There has never been a papacy as dedicated to the Rosary as that of Pope Leo XIII. He understood that the rosary was a spiritual weapon that would help expand the kingdom of God and establish peace in families, society, and the entire world.

In his eleven encyclicals on the rosary, he taught that a Christian trying to live the faith without Mary is like a bird trying to fly without wings. He believed that the rosary was part of the solution to the social problems of his day. He encouraged everyone to pray the rosary daily. He expected all priests and missionaries to preach the rosary because of its power to conquer evil and heal human hearts.

“A rosary a day keeps the devil away.”

For the Greater Glory of God,
Fr. Matt

Thank a Veteran

November 11, 2018

As we celebrate Veterans’ Day today, it is a time for us all to pause and reflect on just what our Veterans have done for us. “Some gave all; all gave some.” When a man or woman enters into military service, he or she vows to defend our nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Included in the documents signed at that time is the sobering admission that joining the Service may cost you your life.

In times of armed conflict (read: war), huge numbers of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have laid down their lives in the name of freedom. Countless myriads have gone through events that would absolutely petrify the average citizen. Those who saw the face of war came home scarred for life, if they came home at all. And the vast majority of those who survived those wars absolutely do not talk about it. It’s not a topic for dinner conversation.

We owe our Veterans a debt of deepest respect. It is because of their selfless sacrifice that we enjoy all the creature comforts of life that we routinely take for granted. It is because of our Veterans that speaking Japanese, Chinese, Russian, or Arabic in the USA is an academic option, not a social necessity.

It is a tragedy that Veterans are not universally respected in our modern society. It is disgrace that Veterans are homeless in our nation. And it is a disservice to our young people that video games glorify war and killing. War and killing are not games. In reality you don’t “get another life” or get to start over. And you can’t just forget the “game” when it’s over.

Whenever you encounter a Veteran in any social setting, be sure to tip your hat and offer thanks. When I was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, someone called the base to complain about all the loud jet engine noise, and the planes flying over their house. The Airman asked, “Did you get a good look at the tail of the airplane?” “YES I DID!” the caller shouted. The Airmen then asked, “Did it have an American flag on it?” “YES IT DID!” the caller boomed. “You’re welcome,” the Airman said, and hung up.

My hat is off to all of our Veterans. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your service. And Ooh-Rah, Aim High, Semper Fi and Hold Your Heads High!

For the Greater Glory of God,
Fr. Matt

Lourdes and the Rosary

November 4, 2018

Lourdes and the Rosary

Exactly 650 years after the Virgin Mary gave St. Dominic the rosary, she began appearing to a French girl named Bernadette Soubirous on February 11, 1858. This occurred four years after Pope Pius IX defined the Marian dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The dogma states, “that from the first moment of her conception, Mary – by the singular grace of God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ – was preserved immune from original sin.”

In one apparition Mary identified herself by saying, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Lourdes became known as a rosary apparition because in each of her eighteen appearances Our Lady had a golden rosary draped over her right arm. As Bernadette prayed the rosary, Mary let her fingers glide over the beads and joined Bernadette in praying the Glory Be.

In addition to the many miracles that occurred at Lourdes, the apparitions sparked a renewed worldwide devotion to the rosary.

Every evening pilgrims to Lourdes gather in Rosary Square in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary to pray the rosary in a torchlight procession. One of the largest celebrations occurs on October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Pope Pius XI canonized St. Bernadette on December 8, 1933, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

“A rosary a day keeps the devil away.”

For the Greater Glory of God,
Fr. Matt