Month: July 2016

Papal Minutes, the Papal Expert & the RPR Network

FR Hankshake 3 Kiss

A new Catholic radio station in our area, the RPR Network (www.yourcatholicradiostation.com) is featuring the Curator of Papal Artifacts in a series entitled, Papal Minutes with Fr. Richard Kunst.

All the Minutes (with the exception of Pope Benedict XIV) are connected to popes on Papal Artifacts.  They include some details we’ve not included in the past–for example, what occurred from a window in the Vatican just prior to the election of Pope Pius X?  Giuseppe Sarto’s surname is translated, “tailor.”  You can find out by accessing the above link.  

Enjoy the Papal Minutesa gift from the Curator of Papal Artifacts!

A gift from our Pastor!

And here is a link to the  RPR interview with Father Kunst on April 19: ( go to 43.00 minutes  to access Father’s interview.)

https://yourcatholicradiostation.com/real-presence-live-podcasts

WWEN, 88.1 FM: RPR Is Featuring Father Rich’s “Papal Minutes”

July 24: The Feast of St. Charbel, & Fr. Rich’s Commentary

Saint Charbel Makhlouf

Saint Charbel Makhlouf

St. Charbel, A Role Model About Preparation for Eucharist

When Pope John Paul the Great was criticized for canonizing so many saints, he acknowledged that he did, indeed, deliberately raise more saints to the altar than any of his predecessors, because he believed we are living in a time that needs saints as witnesses more than ever.  There have been books written about the people he canonized and beatified, and it is quite refreshing to read about many of them, because we can identify with people from our own era who lived a heroic faith life. 

As much as I like hagiography, the study of the saints, I have to admit that many of them, living in a different era, seem to be a bit untouchable, or even unreal.  In many cases they became “kitsch,” entering so much into the piety of worldwide Catholicism that they became little more than statues.  I am reminded of St. Therese of Lisieux who has rightly been called the greatest saint of modern times.  Her statue seems to be in a majority of churches, but I’d like to know how many people in the pews actually know anything about her life. 

I very much enjoy reading about those who lived seemingly normal yet holy lives.  They were simply examples of the Gospel, lived.  However, we can also learn something from the “untouchable” saints, those who for whatever reason seem otherworldly to us.  In the month of July we have one such saint.  On October 9th, 1977, Pope Paul VI canonized a Lebanese Maronite Rite monk, Charbel (or Sharbel)) Makhlouf.  While very few saints are honored with a place on the universal liturgical calendar, St. Charbel is one who is so revered that he does, indeed, have a feast day, which we celebrate on July 24th.

St. Charbel was born in 1828 in Northern Lebanon.  In 1859 he became a priest with particularly strong devotions, both to the Blessed Mother and even more so for the Eucharist.  For the last decades of his life, he was a hermit, living in the mountains in complete poverty. This austere behavior is one of the reasons he seems to be untouchable: how many of us can identify with a Lebanese Maronite monk, living in complete solitude, eating hardly anything, and all the while performing miracles?  Probably not many of us.  Yet it is St. Charbel’s prayer practice that makes him even more unique, while at the same time giving us an incredibly relevant example.

St. Charbel’s life was centered on the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass, and this devotion intensified in his last twenty years.  He would regularly celebrate Mass at noon, but he would awaken eight to ten hours beforehand to pray continuously in preparation for receiving Christ in the Eucharist.  Imagine!  Ten hours of prayer in preparation to receive Communion!    But it doesn’t end there.  Afterwards, he would spend another eight to ten hours in a prayer of thanksgiving for having received the Eucharist! 

The Eucharist was literally the center of his life, and everything else revolved around it.  This seems to add to his otherworldly status; who among us could do something like that, day in and day out for decades?  Who among us would want to?  And yet, what a beautiful example!

Reflecting on the life of St. Charbel calls to mind a common frustration among my brother priests and me.  On a regular basis, many people come into Mass late.   Often they are so late they miss one or two of the readings.  It is even more common for whole portions of the church to be empty after communion.  While we are happy that these people at least come to Mass, think of the contrast between our experience and that of St. Charbel, who would spend hours in prayer both before and after receiving communion. 

We would never go to a movie late, or leave before the story was over.  Why in the world, then, would we do that with the Divine Liturgy where heaven and earth meet?

St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori (1696-1787), born 130 years before St. Charbel, believed that if we didn’t receive our first communion until we turned 100, we would still not have sufficient time to prepare.  At another time, he said that once we receive communion, twelve angels surround us, worshiping what we just consumed.  Obviously, that is not dogma, but it is food for thought if we are tempted to leave Mass early.

The saints are always icons of having lived the Gospels, including those who seem to be so different from us.  St. Charbel is a great example of this.  I pray to him that through his intercession more people will grow in awe and reverence for Christ’s Eucharistic presence.  —Father Rich

St. Charbel, pray for us!

Blessed Pope Paul VI canonized Charbel Makhluf on October 9, 1977.

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Here is a link to the official website of Saint Sharbel Makhluf whose feast day is July 24th:

http://www.saintcharbel-annaya.com/

Father Rich’s Apologetics Column for July 2016: St. Mary Magdalene

Relic of St. Mary Magdalen

Relic of St. Mary Magdalen

Pope Elevates Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to Feast Day

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Recognizing St. Mary Magdalene’s role as the first to witness Christ’s resurrection and as a “true and authentic evangelizer,” Pope Francis raised the July 22 memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast on the church’s liturgical calendar, the Vatican announced.

A decree formalizing the decision was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship June 10 along with an article explaining its significance.

Both the decree and the article were titled “Apostolorum Apostola” (“Apostle of the Apostles”).

In the article for the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the congregation, wrote that in celebrating “an evangelist who proclaims the central joyous message of Easter,” St. Mary Magdalene’s feast day is a call for all Christians to “reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the new evangelization and the greatness of the mystery of divine mercy.”

“Pope Francis has taken this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the relevance of this woman who showed great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ,” Archbishop Roche wrote.

While most liturgical celebrations of individual saints during the year are known formally as memorials, those classified as feasts are reserved for important events in Christian history and for saints of particular significance, such as the Twelve Apostles.

In his apostolic letter “Dies Domini” (“The Lord’s Day), St. John Paul II explained that the “commemoration of the saints does not obscure the centrality of Christ, but on the contrary extols it, demonstrating as it does the power of the redemption wrought by him.”

Preaching about St. Mary Magdalene, Pope Francis highlighted Christ’s mercy toward a woman who was “exploited and despised by those who believed they were righteous,” but she was loved and forgiven by him.

Her tears at Christ’s empty tomb are a reminder that “sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus,” the pope said April 2, 2013, during Mass in his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Pope Francis also mentions her specifically in the prayer he composed for the Year of Mercy: “Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured paradise to the repentant thief.”

Archbishop Roche explained that in giving St. Mary Magdalene the honor of being the first person to see the empty tomb and the first to listen to the truth of the resurrection, “Jesus has a special consideration and mercy for this woman, who manifests her love for him, looking for him in the garden with anguish and suffering.”

Drawing a comparison between Eve, who “spread death where there was life,” and St. Mary Magdalene, who “proclaimed life from the tomb, a place of death,” the archbishop said her feast day is a lesson for all Christians to trust in Christ who is “alive and risen.”

“It is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same level of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the general Roman calendar and highlights the special mission of this woman who is an example and model for every woman in the church.”  —Father Rich