Never had our world heard better news than that spoken by the Angel Gabriel to an innocent Jewish maiden, barely a teenager, in today's Gospel from St. Luke. Centuries of longing of the Chosen People of God came to an end as the angel announced to Mary, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
In this Sunday’s passage from Luke’s Gospel (3:1-6), St. John the Baptist features prominently, proclaiming a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” The sacred author reminds us of the words of the prophet Isaiah which he uses to identify John as “a voice crying out in the desert: prepare the way of the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3). John the Baptist is an enigmatic figure in the Gospel. He is the meeting point between the Old and New Testaments, preparing the way of the Lord as his forerunner and then introducing the world to him. He is an ascetic Jewish prophet – Jesus referred to him as the “greatest prophet” (Matthew 11:11), indeed the last of the Old Testament prophets. His greatness derived most importantly because God chose him for a singular purpose in the Scriptures.
The Church year is celebrated with different seasons: Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, Pentecost. This weekend, we begin the Season of Advent: four weeks before Christmas. The two seasons are related but distinct.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has shared these reflections for the consideration of all Catholics throughout our country. As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, I am happy to offer them to you for your thought and prayer. On the last Sunday of each liturgical year (this year, Nov. 21), the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, or Christ the King.
I will join my brother bishops of the United States (USCCB) at our annual meeting in Baltimore, beginning Monday, November 15, 2021. This will be our first “in-person” meeting since 2019 due to the pandemic. Although there is no vaccine-mandate to be observed, the bishops will be required to wear masks indoors during the meeting.
Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., issued the following notice on a new decree from Rome: On October 28, 2021, the Holy See extended the pandemic provision for obtaining a plenary indulgence for the faithful departed during the month of November, traditionally regarded as the month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
by Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., Message for All Saints and All Souls Days 2021
"On this solemn Feast of All Saints, the Church invites us to reflect on the great hope that is based on Christ’s Resurrection: Christ is risen and we will also be with him. The Saints and Blesseds are the most authoritative witnesses of Christian hope, because they lived it fully in their lives, amidst joys and sufferings, putting into practice the Beatitudes … that Jesus preached are the path to holiness" (Pope Francis, Angelus Message, November 1, 2020).
I rarely enjoy traveling alone, whether for business or pleasure. When going somewhere, especially on a longer trip, I prefer the company of others for conversation, for the exchange of ideas, for sharing different experiences, and, quite simply, just for companionship. In many ways, I think that preference explains why I began my journey to the priesthood in a religious community where the emphasis is on life and ministry with a “band of brothers” joined together by the charism of a common founder, spirit and purpose. That is the point, really, of religious life and, perhaps a unique contribution I make to diocesan priests as their diocesan bishop. I enjoy “journeying together!”
During a recent hospital stay, I had an interesting experience. The night nurse was taking my “vitals” before bedtime when she noticed my Rosary on the nightstand. She told me she was a Hindu and never heard of the Rosary before.
'I have come that you may have life and have it to the full’ (John 10:10) I am convinced, after 66 plus years on this earth, that all of the problems impacting us in this world of ours derive from a single root cause: the failure to “respect life in all its stages, from conception to natural death.”
As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, I write to share these reflections of the Bishops of the United States and the message of our Holy Father Pope Francis. For nearly a half a century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.
by Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., on Catechetical Sunday 2021
Catholics “pass on the faith” not only by what they say or teach but also by the way they live their lives. This responsibility belongs to all the baptized faithful, but especially to parents and those who serve as catechists.
It was a beautiful Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C., on September 11, 20 years ago. I was scheduled to concelebrate Mass later that day so I had a bit more personal time that morning to read the paper, have another cup of coffee and watch the end of New York’s “Today” show before heading downstairs to my office to begin work.
Six years ago this past May 24, our Holy Father Pope Francis issued his second encyclical letter, “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.” He focused our attention as Catholics, as inhabitants of this earth, on another type of disaster among those that confront our world, this one man-made and not natural. Calling our planet “Sister Earth,” the Holy Father wrote — not about “what nature can do to us” but, rather, about what we do to nature, to our “common home” — to a planet that “cries out because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.” Pope Francis is sounding the alarm, the warning. We cannot, we must not remain unprepared for this storm of our own making.
We all have been hoping and praying that the effects of the pandemic would be well behind us by the time we opened our Catholic school doors for the 2021-22 academic year. Sad to say, that is not the case. Although much progress has thankfully been made in so many areas of endeavor, the pandemic continues to make its presence felt through Delta and other emerging COVID variants causing spikes in the virus in many parts of the country, including here in our own state of New Jersey.
The Catholic Church in recent years, particularly during the pontificate of Pope Francis, has become accustomed to hearing the expression “synodality” used to describe the nature of the Church in our day.
The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven falls on Sunday this year and remains a pre-eminent Marian feast day that should be honored and remembered. In the Diocese of Trenton, Mary Queen of the Assumption is our diocesan patroness and the name of our Cathedral.
It was a beautiful summer evening Thursday July 22 as the priests of the Diocese of Trenton gathered together in St. Robert’s Co-Cathedral Parish for dinner! Over 100 priests from the four counties joined together in wonderful priestly fraternity as the mid-point of summer (FYI, August 7!) quickly approaches.