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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Most Rev. Gino Reali performs imposition of the hands on Matthew Maxwell ('08) The Most Rev. Gino Reali, Bishop of Porto-Santa Rufina, ordains Br. Matthew Maxwell (‘08) to the transitional diaconate.

We have received the joyful news of another alumnus’ ordination to the transitional diaconate — the fourth of the year!

  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)
  • Deacon Matthew Maxwell Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Deacon Matthew Maxwell (‘08)

On May 17, the Most Rev. Gino Reali, Bishop of Porto-Santa Rufina (Italy) conferred Holy Orders upon Br. Matthew Maxwell (‘08) at St. Phillip Neri Parish, Castel Giuliano, Bracciano in Rome. Br. Matthew also took perpetual vows as a member of Miles Christi, an order of priests dedicated to helping the laity grow in holiness through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He is now finishing his theology studies at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in preparation for — God willing — his priestly ordination in 2021!

Please pray for Br. Matthew as well as the other alumni who are entering the transitional diaconate this year: David Allen (’10), Michael Masteller (’13), and Ryan Truss (’16).


Cover of "Secrets from Heaven" Cover of "Understanding Marriage & Family" 

Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94) Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94)

Ever prolific, alumnus priest Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94) has authored not one but two new books, both of which are being released today.

The first is Secrets from Heaven: Hidden Treasures of Faith in the Parables and Conversations of Jesus, published by Catholic Answers. “The origin of this book came about through a series of retreats I have given,” Fr. Sebastian explains in a recent episode of the Catholic Answers Live radio program. “When you talk to people, and you teach people, and you give retreats based upon the exact words of Jesus Himself in the Gospels, it just has a power to go straight to people's hearts.”

A professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, Fr. Sebastian warns that the words of Jesus can become so familiar that we unwittingly cease to give them the serious consideration they demand. “Sometimes we think that we just need to read the Bible the way we read any other book, and we fail to appreciate the fact that this is a book written by God,” he says. “In other books there are details that really aren't significant, but that's not true about the Word of God. That’s not true about the Scriptures, and preeminently that’s not true about the words of Jesus in the Scriptures.”

Thus Fr. Sebastian closely examines a number of passages from the Gospels, searching Jesus’ words for “hidden treasures”  — oblique references to other passages, carefully chosen words, telling moments of silence — that are rich in meaning. These, he says, are Our Lord’s gifts: “It’s as if Jesus were speaking directly to us.”

Fr. Sebastian’s second new release is Understanding Marriage & Family: A Catholic Perspective, published by Arouca Press. The book sets out to explain and defend the traditional understanding of marriage, using reason, revelation, and the context of our own human choices and experiences. The result is a work that presents the Church’s teaching in a manner that is not only clear and convincing but also deeply helpful to the lives of Catholic husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers struggling to live out their vocations in confused and confusing times. 

Understanding Marriage & Family has received several favorable reviews, notable among them one from the Most Rev. Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, who, before COVID-19 upended calendars across the world, was set to be Thomas Aquinas College’s 2020 Commencement Speaker. “Ascending upon both reason and faith, Fr. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem., with providential clarity, charity, and certainty, dismantles the desolation of lives unmoored from human nature, and marriages divorced from their divine inspiration, proposing anew to all willing to hear, the freeing and fulfilling proposal of Christian marriage in all its solidity and sublimity,” says Bishop Paprocki. “Look within to regain hope, recover communion, and rediscover the fullness of married joy!”


Da Vinci's Last Supper

On Spiritual Communion

by Sr. Mary Catherine Blanding, IHM (’76)

Sr. Mary Catherine Blanding, IHM (’76) Sr. Mary Catherine Blanding, IHM (’76) About a week ago, our Bishop gave directives to our IHM Community (Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) that we should make spiritual communions instead of partaking of sacramental communions. My heart fell at this deprivation; I, a bride of Christ, could no longer physically receive Our Lord. 

My Superior asked me to seek an answer in the Summa of how spiritual communions compare to sacramental communions. St. Thomas Aquinas again brought hope, comforting me in my grief over not receiving Him corporeally and participating in Mass. I then gave a presentation to my Community about this, which also gave my Sisters joy.

Thomas unequivocally teaches in ST, Part Three, Q. 80, A. 1, Sed Contra: “We hold that there are two ways of eating, the one sacramental and the other spiritual.”

Moreover, he explained that Consecration of the proper matter makes the Eucharist a sacrament, whereas in Baptism and Confirmation, it is in the receiving of the sacraments. The priest, not the communicant, makes Christ present in the Holy Eucharist.

This point enlightened my Sisters and me. Thomas reminded us of the truth that Jesus Christ is present, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Blessed Sacrament, whether we receive communion corporeally or not. Grace exudes from our Chapel’s tabernacle, where our King resides, as it emanates from your tabernacles in your parish churches. He dwells, gloriously alive in His Risen Body! (CCC, 1374) (ST, Part III, Q. 75, A. 1)

In addition, Thomas compared spiritual communions to the Baptism of Desire. He writes in ad 3 : “ … just as some are baptized with the Baptism of desire, before being baptized in the baptism of water, so likewise some eat this sacrament (the Eucharist) spiritually prior to receiving it sacramentally.”

In other words, just as we believe in the efficacy of the Baptism of Desire, so we can trust in the real effects from the “Eucharist of Desire.”

Aquinas teaches in ad 3 that the receiving of this sacrament can be seen in two ways:

1) “First of all, from the desire of receiving the Sacrament itself.” He writes that they “can eat this sacrament spiritually, not sacramentally if they have desired to receive this sacrament since its institution.” 

2) “Secondly, by a figure: thus the Apostle says (1 Cor 10:2) that the fathers of old were baptized in the cloud and in the sea, and that they did eat … spiritual food, and …drank … spiritual drink.”

In thinking about this article, it’s important to note that Thomas did write, “sacramental eating is not without avail, because the actual receiving of the sacrament produces more fully the effect of the sacrament than does the desire thereof …” 

He then refers to Q. 69, A. 4, ad 2:

“… a man receives the forgiveness of sins before Baptism insofar as he has Baptism of desire … and yet when he actually receives Baptism, he receives a yet greater fullness of grace and virtues.”

This is an important point. Once we again can attend Mass and receive sacramental Communion, a faulty understanding — “I can just receive a spiritual communion” — may hinder some from receiving the sacraments. The Church unequivocally teaches that the sacraments are necessary for salvation.

St. Thomas states in the Summa, Part 3, Q. 61, Sed Contra: “Sacraments are necessary for salvation.” 

Official Magisterium teaching reflects Thomas’ teaching; The Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1129, repeats the Council of Trent: The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.

I would like to end with a prayer we have in our IHM Prayer Book, reflecting Thomas’s teaching: 

My Jesus, I believe that You are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I long for You in my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself entirely to You; never permit me to be separated from You.

The spiritual communion begins with an explicit act of Faith, “My Jesus, I believe you are present in the Blessed Sacrament.” The Church teaches the sacraments are sacraments of faith” (CCC, 1123).

You and I are clearly not only “accepting the Lord into our hearts,” as our non-Catholic Christian brothers do, but we are inviting Jesus Christ, physically present in the Blessed Sacrament, to come spiritually into our hearts. 

Yes, all grace stems from the sacraments, and we all long for the day when we can once again participate in the most perfect way; for now, we thank God for the good, but less perfect manner of spiritual communion.


Sr. Maria Kiely, OSB (’77) Sr. Maria Kiely, OSB (’77)Sr. Maria Kiely, OSB (’77) lives in Washington, D.C., teaching Greek at the Dominican House of Studies and Latin at Catholic University. She is on the editorial committee for ICEL, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. ICEL was established during the Vatican Council by Bishops from countries where English is used as a liturgical language. It is responsible for the revised translation of the Roman Missal, promulgated in 2011 and now in use.

Last fall, ICEL finished translating the Latin Liber Hymnarius, the hymnal for the Liturgy of the Hours revised after Vatican II. At their annual meeting last November, the bishops of the USCCB voted to accept the ICEL translations of the 294 hymns of the Liber Hymnarius. These will appear in fascicles as a complement to the existing Liturgy of the Hours; later they will be integrated into the forthcoming revised edition of the Liturgy of the Hours mandated by the USCCB. 

Since the Liber Hymnarius includes hymns of St. Ambrose, Prudentius, medieval authors, and others spanning the entire tradition of Catholic hymnody, the ICEL translations represent a retrieval of a significant aspect of the liturgical and spiritual patrimony of the Church. The theological richness of these hymns is such that they will bring new depth to the recitation of the hours of the liturgy. They may also be used in any circumstances where the singing of hymns is appropriate.

According to ICEL, the English hymns are close translations of the Latin texts, so that as much as possible of the theological and spiritual content of the originals may be preserved. The meters proper to each Latin text have been maintained, so that each hymn may be sung both to the chant melody given in the Liber Hymnarius and to any modern metrical tune of the same meter. Though rhyme is a salient feature of English hymnody, it is less prominent in Latin hymns; some of them rhyme and some do not. Even hymns that rhyme are less clearly defined by it, because rhyming and assonance often result merely from the inflections of the language. Rhyming also requires frequent inversions that compromise the content and become tedious in longer hymns.

ICEL has sought to prepare for the reception of the hymn translations by the Bishops’ Conferences and by the wider public by making representative examples available through the internet. Under the direction of Daniel Grimm (’76), the Thomas Aquinas College choir has sung representative examples of the ICEL hymns set to chant melodies and to modern hymn tunes, which are available on YouTube. As the choir sings, the text of each hymn appears verse by verse on the screen.

If you have questions and would like to know more about the hymns, please feel free to contact ICEL.


Sr. Mary Catherine Eddyblouin (’19) Sr. Mary Catherine Eddyblouin (’19)The first of last year’s graduates to answer God’s call to the priesthood or religious life is Sr. Mary Catherine Eddyblouin (’19), who entered the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, on August 22, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary.

“I went to Thomas Aquinas College to study theology and philosophy, and it was there that the idea of a religious life began to come back into my heart,” says Sr. Mary Catherine on the Sisters of Mary website. “Before my junior year, my mother told me in no uncertain terms that I was going on a retreat with the Ann Arbor Sisters, whom we had heard about for many years. I dutifully went, expecting no more than to have a good retreat and return to normal life. Instead, it was like the world turned inside out! It became clear that this was where God had been leading me all my life. Suddenly, everything seemed to fall into place, revealing I was on a path I had been following without even knowing!”

Before she graduated from the College, Sr. Mary Catherine remarked that “the spiritual formation here is amazing, but the intellectual formation was also instrumental in getting me to realize my vocation,” allowing her to come to know and love God more deeply. “Mathematics, especially, brought me to more fully see the beauty of God,” she added, and it was the opportunity to keep learning that led her to the Sisters of Mary. “The Dominicans teach and they preach — that’s what they do,” she recently told the Bangor Daily News. “They study for their entire lives. … That’s something that was very attractive to me about them.”

Sr. Mary Catherine is one of five Thomas Aquinas College alumnae with the Ann Arbor Dominicans, where she prays alongside Sr. Mary Margaret (Eileen ’00) O’Brien O.P.Sr. Theresa Benedicta (Sarah ’02) Block, Sr. Juan Jose (Elisabeth ’09) Sedler, O.P., and Sr. Maria Jerome (Alma ’11) Poelman, O.P. As a postulant, she now wears the Sisters’ blue-and-white uniform, but she will not receive the full habit until she enters the novitiate next year.

Please pray for Sr. Mary Catherine, her vocation, and all alumnae sisters!

 


New Dominican novices, including Br. Michael Thomas Cain (’18, second from left) and Br. Kevin Peter Cantu (’15, right) New Dominican novices, including Br. Michael Thomas Cain (’18, second from left) and Br. Kevin Peter Cantu (’15, right)

The Dominican Friars of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus report the joyful news that, on Thursday, four men entered their novitiate — among them, two recent Thomas Aquinas College graduates, Br. Michael Thomas Cain (’18) and Br. Kevin Peter Cantu (’15).

Br. Michael Thomas, according to the Friars’ website, “draws inspiration from St. Thomas Aquinas, whose brilliant intellect was united with an intense humility.” The newly habited novice joined the Dominicans, he says, because “the world’s need for Christ is urgent,” and “the Dominican is called to bring the light of Christ to all nations.”

The province’s profile of Br. Kevin Peter notes that, while at the College, Head Chaplain Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P., “introduced him to the Dominican life.” Br. Kevin Peter has a devotion to a fellow Dominican, St. Juan Macias, “who like his contemporaries St. Martin de Porres and St. Rose of Lima, cared for the poor and marginalized.” As a member of the Order of Preachers, the story observes, he “desires to preach Christ crucified.”

Thanks be to God for these young men’s faith and their willingness to answer God’s call! Please pray for them as they continue to discern their vocations.


Newly professed Franciscans, including Br. Sean Paul Wood (’13, third from left), Br. Faustino Lemmon (’14, second from right) Newly professed Franciscans, including Br. Sean Paul Wood (’13, third from left) and Br. Faustino (Sebastian) Lemmon (’14, second from right)

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in the Bronx, N.Y., have announced via their Instagram account that, on August 6, two alumni brethren — Br. Sean Paul Wood (’13) and Br. Faustino (Sebastian ’14) Lemmon —made their first vows at Most Blessed Sacrament Friary in Newark, New Jersey. These temporary professions last for one year, during which time the Brothers further discern God’s will for their lives. After making annual vows a minimum of four times, the they then become eligible to make final, or permanent, vows, pledging a life of service to the poor on the streets of New York City.

“Br. Faustino Lemmon and Br. Sean Paul Wood are our first Thomas Aquinas College grads to make vows with us,” observed the Friars in another Instagram post. “Thanks, Thomas Aquinas College, for preparing them well!”

Br. Faustino makes his first profession Br. Faustino makes his first profession.

The College is humbled and grateful to have played its small part in God’s glorious plan for these men and the holy work of the Franciscan Friars. Let Christ be praised!


Sr. Anna Mercia (Maggie Conklin’17)

On July 16, the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Maggie Conklin (’17) entered the novitiate with the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. After nearly two years with the community, she now gets to wear the sisters’ habit, and she has received her religious name: Sr. Anna Mercia!

Deo gratias!


Sr. Bridget Coughlin (’13), right, enters the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey Sr. Bridget Coughlin (’13), right, enters the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey

The Dominican Nuns at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey, have published a lovely blog post and slideshow welcoming Sr. Bridget Coughlin (’13) into their community. Entering as an aspirant, Sr. Bridget will, by God’s grace, begin the postulancy within a few months. (Also visible in the slideshow is another recent alumna, Sr. Maria Johanna (Barrett ’14), O.P.)

With the addition of Sr. Bridget, eight members of the Class of 2013 have now entered the religious life and/or seminary. The others are:

And a ninth member of the class, Alex Bueche, will enter the Norbertine Order later this summer!

Deo gratias!


Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09) makes her final vows Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09)

 

The following wonderful news comes via the family of Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09):

Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09) and family Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09), and familyIt is with great joy that we announce that Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem., made her Profession of Solemn Vows (final vows) as a Norbertine Canoness in Tehachapi, California, on the Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord.

The Very Rev. Thomas Nelson, O.Praem. offered the Mass and gave the homily, in which he spoke of how the three evangelical counsels, which Sr. Mary Thomas professed that day, are symbolized in the three manifestations of Christ at Christmas:  poverty at his manifestation to the shepherds, obedience in the coming of the Magi, and chastity in the Presentation in the Temple.

Sr. Mary Thomas, who entered the community on October 7, 2011, is one of three Thomas Aquinas College alumnae at the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph, the others being Sr. Mary Oda (Jennifer Tilley ’02) and Sr. Mary Andre (Anne Huguelet ’11).  Since the Holy See’s elevation of the community to an independent canonry within the Norbertine Order on January 29, 2011, the monastery has grown substantially, from 20 to over 40 canonesses.

Please keep Sr. Mary Thomas and the Norbertines in your prayers!

 Norbertine sisters at the final vows of Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09): The Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph

Photos courtesy of Rudy Aguilar, Adoremus Photography

 


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Suzie Jackson (’15)

“The texts we are reading ask the fundamental questions in life, which every human person needs to be able to answer. You want to answer these questions, and you experience the beauty of wonder in discussing them.”

– Suzie Jackson (’15)

Manassas, Va.

NEWS FROM THE COLLEGE

I am constantly convinced that what you are doing in Thomas Aquinas College is the answer for today’s ills.

– Rev. Wojciech Giertych, O.P.

Theologian of the Papal Household