Sunday, December 21, 2014

Choir School mourns loss of Sir Daniel Donohue

The Madeleine Choir School mourns the death of one of its earliest and most generous benefactors, Sir Daniel J. Donohue, who died on December 3.

Sir Daniel, as friends affectionately called him, served for more than 40 years as president and chairman of the Dan Murphy Foundation in Los Angeles, which promotes the very best Catholic initiatives, especially those pertaining to education and religious life. Under Sir Daniel’s leadership, it has provided extensive support to inner-city Catholic high schools throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, programs serving the poor, and the works of the Church throughout the world. It was also instrumental in the construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

As the Choir School worked to emerge from the Cathedral basement, Sir Daniel secured a gift of $1 million from the Dan Murphy Foundation to advance our efforts to reach the $4 million goal needed for the purchase our Avenues campus in 2001. The Oratory of St. Daniel is dedicated to his memory with gratitude for this important gift in our history.

Born in 1919 in Newark, New Jersey, Sir Daniel attended Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles and completed graduate work in political science and social welfare at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and at the University of Chicago. In 1954 he married Bernardine Murphy and, in 1957, became a founding trustee of the Dan Murphy Foundation, named in honor of his father-in-law.

For many years, Sir Daniel worked closely with the Holy See and with cardinals and bishops around the world. Three Holy Fathers — Pius XII, John XXIII, and Paul VI — honored him as Knight Commander of St. Gregory, Knight Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of Holy Sepulchre, and Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. At the request of His Eminence, the late Timothy Cardinal Manning, Bl. Pope Paul VI named Sir Daniel a Gentleman in Waiting to His Holiness the Pope. He also conferred upon him the title, “Gentleman of His Holiness,” the highest award bestowed on a layman in the Church, and the first such Award ever given to an American.

Sir Daniel is survived by his sister, Rosemary E. Donohue, and his nieces, Julie Donohue Schwartz and Rosemary Donohue. A Vigil Service and Holy Rosary for Sir Daniel was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Sunday, December 14, and his funeral Mass was offered at the Cathedral on Tuesday, December 16. Let us uphold in our prayer this very kind and generous benefactor of the Choir School.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Just Two Weeks Ago...

Two weeks ago the choristers were in the eternal city for the final days of their pilgrimage to Venice, Florence, Assisi and Rome. The young men of the choir had the opportunity to visit the Pontifical North American College, the seminary for the United States located in Rome. This photograph features the boys on the rooftop of the seminary with St. Peter's Basilica nearby.

While visiting we had the opportunity to meet with two seminarians from Utah: Deacon Joe Delka, who will be ordained in the Cathedral this coming June, and Stephen Tilley, who is in the class of 2017. It was a wonderful afternoon that later involved walking down the Janiculum, crossing the Tiber and celebrating Mass in the Florentine church of San Giovanni.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Today at Lauds - Just One?

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met [him]. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Luke 17:11-19

Dear Children,

Today we have heard an account from the Gospel of St. Luke of ten very sick people being healed by Jesus. Leprosy is a horrible disease that causes great pain and very humiliating physical disfigurement. The wounds are so awful that people of old assumed you had done something very wrong to offend God, and so you were not allowed to live with the rest of your community or family but were exiled far away from others. In Jesus’ time if you had leprosy you would have to ring a little bell and shout “unclean” whenever a healthy person approached you. For those with the scourge of leprosy, it must have been a terrible life.

Now imagine the incredible joy of these ten men who were set free from this awful condition by Jesus. They were able to return to their families and friends; they were able to participate in dinners and celebrations; they no longer had ugly wounds, scars or pain.

But only ONE of the men returned to thank Jesus after their healing – only ONE was human enough to recognize the great gift that had been given to them by God and returned to Jesus to say thank you.

This morning we are reminded of the need to say thank you and so, boys and girls, I propose that we do three things.

Firstly, say thank you to your teachers and other staff members in our school community: to Mr. Casillas and Mr. Sparks who work so hard to keep our school clean and functioning; to Ms. Amber and Ms. Diane who prepare a wonderful lunch for us each day; to your very dedicated teachers who work so hard to prepare you to become faithful and hard-working citizens who will build a civilization of mercy and love.

Secondly, say thank you to your parents tonight. It is so easy for us to forget the many sacrifices they make on our behalf. We can devolve into our own little world where it is all about me, becoming entitled, sulky, selfish and thoughtless about the needs of others. Saying thank you will change our attitudes, make us more open hearted and wholesome.

Finally, like the solitary leper who returned to Jesus, let us say thank you to God for our many, many blessings. We do so in the great act of thanksgiving that is the celebration of the Mass, or the Holy Eucharist. In fact, the Greek word eukaristia means just that: thanksgiving. Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist, we are offering our thanks to God for the wonders of his creation, including each one of you in this Oratory this morning! And, we are giving thanks for his saving love, especially as it has been revealed to us in the suffering and death of his Son. When we actively participate in the Mass, we are like the ONE, solitary leper who returned to say thank you, while the other nine took God’s many blessings and gifts for granted.

Boys and Girls, three things: 1) express your gratitude to our teachers and other staff members; 2) say thank you to your parents tonight for the many ways they sacrifice to make your life happy and productive; and 3) actively participate in the celebration of the Mass where we join with Jesus as his body in offering our thanks and praise to the God loves and saves us.

25 NOVEMBER 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pope Francis: "Please Stop!"

A tragic first post on the one-hundredth anniversary of the start of hostilities in World War One. Here follows our Holy Father's message today:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Tomorrow marks the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, which caused millions of deaths and immense destruction. This conflict, which Pope Benedict XV called a "senseless slaughter", resulted, after four long years, in a most fragile peace. Tomorrow, as we remember this tragic event, I hope that the mistakes of the past won’t be repeated, but that the lessons of history be taken into account, that the demands of peace through patient and courageous dialogue are always made to prevail.

In particular, my thoughts go out to three areas of crisis: the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine. I ask that you continue to join me in prayer that the Lord may grant to the people and authorities of those areas the wisdom and strength needed to push ahead with the path of peace by addressing each dispute with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation and with the force of reconciliation. That at the center of every decision, special interests aren’t put forward, but rather the common good and respect for every person. Let’s remember that all is lost with war, and nothing is lost with peace.
Brothers and sisters, no more war! No more war! Above all, I think of the children, those who have been denied hope of a decent life, of a future: dead children, wounded children, maimed children, orphaned children, children who have remnants of war as toys, children who don’t know how to smile. Please stop! I ask you with all my heart, it's time to stop! Stop, please!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Back to the Beach

After a very long hiatus and a only brief reappearance, the blog will be in vacation mode again until 18 July. I am going back to my roots in Grays Harbor County on the Pacific coast, enjoying the fog, cold water and dark rain forests. A few stormy walks on the beach and torrential downpours will prepare me for the year ahead!

Don't forget to follow plans for our Patronal Feast Day on Tuesday 22 July - The Solemnity of St. Mary Magdalene - and the Chorister summer camp that follows shortly thereafter. I hope that you are all enjoying the summer vacation, finding time for family and friends, rest and renewal.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Comfortable Words

We continue our reading from St. Matthew’s Gospel each Sunday this year, and this Sunday’s Gospel Reading for the Fourteenth Sunday is of particular beauty. Matthew 11:25-30 is a well-known passage of scripture, especially the text that begins at verse 28:
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.
Our Anglican brothers and sisters designate the above passage as The Comfortable Words, and in their earlier prayer books this scripture passage was recited by the priest at the beginning of every celebration of the Eucharist. The text is also important to our own Catholic devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as in this passage our fully human and fully divine Lord gives us insight about the quality and character of his own heart.

Our Sunday Gospel lesson may appear to have two independent sections. The opening words of the Gospel passage record the first public prayer of Jesus, and at first glance it can appear slightly self-aggrandizing and even a little off-putting:
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.
The context may explain: in the verses just before our present text, Jesus is expressing frustration with those who have witnessed his saving work and teaching but have not changed their manner of thinking, attitudes, or way of life. He had rather strong words of condemnation for those who were too high-minded, omniscient or ‘know-it-alls’, for whom an open heart and mind to the seemingly upside-down values of God’s kingdom is not possible.

In this Gospel passage, Jesus invites us to put aside our pretenses and hardened minds and open ourselves to the wisdom of God. This wisdom is not that of human cleverness but of divine revelation wherein, as one scholar has put it, “even the best of human insight that relies only on its own resources cannot penetrate…”

R. T. France writes about these paradoxical values of the kingdom when he notes that Jesus’ “…character as meek and lowly in heart reflects the values of the Beatitudes, and his ‘yoke’, traditionally a symbol of oppressive power, is in fact ‘kind’ and a source not of misery but of ‘rest’…” for those who accept the invitation.

As noted above, taking a yoke upon oneself seems like a foolish act of self-oppression. This strange advice is also found in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, where this strikingly similar passage from Sirach 51:23-26 invites the Israelite people to take the yoke of wisdom:
Come aside to me, you untutored,
and take up lodging in the house of instruction;
How long will you deprive yourself of wisdom’s food,
how long endure such bitter thirst?
I open my mouth and speak of her:
gain wisdom for yourselves at no cost.
Take her yoke upon your neck;
that your mind may receive her teaching.
For she is close to those who seek her,
and the one who is in earnest finds her.
Today our loving God reaches out to us, saying, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” The God who became small for us, coming as a helpless and vulnerable child, and who now offers himself to us in the broken bread of his body and the poured out wine of his blood, inviting us not to take only the yoke of wisdom, but that of Jesus himself, and thereby entering a lifelong process of learning the hidden ways of God.

Friday, July 4, 2014

America, who are we?

This week has been a week of very significant anniversaries for our nation. Today, the fourth of July, we celebrate Independence Day, recalling the events that marked the beginning of an armed struggle that would eventually provide the colonists of this new land the necessary liberty to adopt the Enlightenment ideals that would shape this great nation into a just and free civilization.

Earlier this week, the first through the third of July, we recalled the Battle of Gettysburg, that horrific conflict between fellow citizens in which over 45,500 men were killed, wounded or went missing in a battle that was to determine the outcome of the Civil War and eventually the character and future direction of these United States.

And on Wednesday of this week, the second of July, we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, another moment in our history that was to advance life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for a large number of our nation’s residents. This legislation changed laws that caused repression, suffering and humiliation – only fifty years ago – for many of our citizens changing a horrible lack of justice and liberty in a national shame that is almost incomprehensible to our young people today.

Last fall, Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez published a book entitled Immigration and the Next America. In this small book, Archbishop Gomez expressed his worry that the United States is “…losing something of our national soul.” He writes,

America is a great nation: free and prosperous, brave and generous. Throughout our history and still today, Americans have been willing to sacrifice, even to lay down our lives, for others in need. At home and abroad. In times of war, and in times of peace. Americans can be found wherever people are poor and suffering – lending a hand, saving lives, building communities, bringing people hope.

Yet this great nation finds itself reduced to addressing this major issue in our public life through name calling and discrimination, “profiling” based on race, random identity checks, commando-style raids of workplaces and homes, arbitrary detentions and deportations.

Many happenings this week have played before us events demonstrating the difficult situation faced by so many people:

Here there is an account of Tuesday’s protestors in Murrieta, California, who blocked three busses with children being transported to care facilities. Their signs read, “Return to Sender” and “America has been invaded” while they chanted "Go home!”

Here you can read a more reasoned account of why these young people are risking their lives to immigrate.

Tragically, here is a story from the Boston Herald describing the death of a 15 year-old boy from Guatemala, his decaying body found in the desert of Texas.

And finally, an article by Pablo Alvarado describing how he and his little brother escaped El Salvador because of death threats.

I started this post recalling a series of events in our nation’s, all borne of tragedy and pain, but ultimately shaping our national for the better. The Statue of Liberty, whose original title was Liberty enlightening the World, is a reminder of the nobility of our nation’s soul – the better angels of our nature as Abraham Lincoln so aptly put it - that each of these significant events call forth in us. Opening the borders is not the answer, nor should we abandon the rule of law. But we must search for an answer that is reasonable, just and resonant with our nation’s long-standing commitment to the huddled masses seeking freedom.

Emma Lazarus was invited to compose a sonnet for the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. She titled the poem The New Colossus, hearkening back to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world: the giant statue that presided over the harbor of Rhodes. Now a different type of Colossus presides over New York’s Harbor. The text Lazarus composed says it all.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, 

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, 

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

If you want to take some action on this great day in our history go to the Catholic Bishop’s website for ideas.