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Monday, January 21, 2013

New Location

To go to the blog of Bishop Kevin Vann:  http://blog.ocbishop.org/

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Month of “Weeks” and “Stan the Man”

       As I began my reflections for the new year - still in the Liturgical season of the Nativity of the Lord - I mentioned that in this month there are a number of special weeks that call us to reflect on a number of dimensions of our life of Faith:  National Migration Week, Church Vocations week, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,  Catholic Schools Week, and a novena of preparation for the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade,  among other celebrations and prayer.   Each of these weeks gives us a chance for a special focus and reflection.  In this way, the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord does not simply fade away, but rather points to specific themes of Faith that follow from the Birth of the Lord.

       In National Migration Week, the images of the journey of the Magi to follow the star to the Christ Child reminds us of their journey from their homeland to find the child Jesus.  The journey of Mary and Joseph in the infant Jesus to Egypt, fleeing King Herod is another journey, another migration. A scholarly and faithful  commentary on both of these journeys can be found in Pope Benedict XVI’s recent publication Jesus of Nazareth:  The Infancy Narratives.  A journey in Faith and for meaning and a better life certainly drew so many of our ancestors and forebears to the United States.  Their welcome certainly could symbolized in the words of Emma Lazarus when speaking of the statue of Liberty in New York:  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddles masses yearning to be free.”  In these days, as  people of Faith we certainly come to know many people who are among us for the same reasons.  As their brothers and sisters in Faith, fellow Catholics, are we not called to pastoral care and concern for their welfare, not unlike what was offered to so many of our great grandparents.  As our pastors and ministries of the Body of Christ reach out to them, can we not stand by in solidarity, faith, and support so that the same dreams and hopes that drew our ancestors  to the United States can be theirs?  National Migration week call us to do the same, and bring our faith and convictions to our processes so that their desires to live rightly in our country can be realized.  

         The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity runs from January 18 (the feast of the Chair of St. Peter in Antioch) to January 25 (the Conversion of St. Paul), we take time to reflect on the words of the Lord that “All may be one.”  This week has been a feature of January for many years, and is due, in some way, to the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, who still continue, by their materials and publications, to promote this week.  Like many other repeated yearly celebrations, some may think that it lost the excitement that it once had.  Yet, the search and prayer for Christian unity is a call to patient fidelity and prayer over many years. In a culture of “instant results” this is certainly a contrast, but the call to unity is as important and vital as ever.  Perhaps it may not have the “glamor and excitement” of the l960’s, but in many ways it has now become a movement that has great importance at a local level, and that at an international level has matured in many ways.   I think of the various  endeavors that I have been involved in over the years, in relationships with so many men and women  of  faith, and I thank God for the gift of friendship and mutual endeavors that have resulted from these encounters.  The work of Christian unity is best summed up by Pope Benedict XVI when he said in his “Twitter Post” recently that “What does the Lord ask of us as we work for Christian unity?  To pray constantly, do justice, love goodness and walk humbly with Him.”   I am particularly grateful for the blessing to have been involved with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and now the Pastoral Provision, and all of the priests and people in those endeavors, that are in a very tangible way, the fruit of the Second Vatican Council.  I thank Bishop Jack Iker of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and Bishop Michael Lowrey, the Methodist Bishop of Fort Worth for their friendship and encouragement.

          I want to make special mention of Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church here in Orange for his welcome and the chance we have had to visit and reflect together.  The many Bishops, clergy, ministers and representatives of so many Faiths here in Orange were a great witness to all who were present for my installation Mass in December.  This is due in no small part to the commitment of Bishop Tod Brown here in Orange for making these relationships and dialogues not only a priority, but a part of life here.  Thanks to Fr. Al Baca, Vicar of Ecumenism of the Diocese of Orange for his tireless efforts, dedication and commitment to this ongoing part of our life of Faith, and to which I am committed to as well.  

More to follow!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"New Evangelization"

Dear brothers and sisters,

I plan, from time to time, to ask some of the priests of Orange and others to share their gifts and talents with us.  What follows is a reflection on the " New Evangelization " by Fr. Tim Peters of our Diocese.  It follows beautifully from this past Sunday of the Baptism of The Lord.  
Fr . Tim will be writing some further reflections as the year goes on. Fr. Tim is parochial vicar of the Mission Basilica of San Juan Capistrano .

I will shortly compose and post  a reflection on " National Migration Week" and " National Vocation Week" . 

God bless you and thanks!!


The Baptism of the Lord and the New Evangelization
January 13, 2013
By Fr. Tim Peters
Parochial Vicar Mission Basilica, San Juan Capistrano

“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”

In this Sunday’s reading from Luke’s Gospel (Luke 3:15-16, 21-22), the Father himself calls Christ His “Beloved Son!” Christ is the Son of God by nature and we are adopted sons and daughter by grace and through faith. In other words, our entrance into God’s family is totally a gift. It is a gift that we have received and one that we must invite others to receive. God’s children must always desire to see the family grow and for this reason all of us have a responsibility to help build up the family of God. I grew up in a large family of 12 children in all and I always remember the joyful news of another birth taking place or of siblings that were being adopted (4 in all). The family of faith is no different; we desire and are overjoyed to see it grow when more sons and daughters are united to it through Christ!!!

The bishops of the world together with the successor of St. Peter are calling on all members of the Church to participate in a “New Evangelization.” This New Evangelization is a presentation of the same Gospel with new energy, vigor and love. Even for the most committed members of the Church a deep conversion and recommitment to the Mission of Christ must take place in our own lives if we are to realize a fruitful new evangelization. For this to happen there must be a rediscovery of the ancient truths of the faith so there is always a true encounter with the person of Christ. This will make more fruitful our reading of the scriptures, celebration of the liturgy, prayer with our families, or participation in the life and activates of the Church. Would we expect anything different from the sons and daughters of the living God? Hence, we must rediscover the same great truth that Jesus’ first disciples discovered in Christ who is the Son of God and Savior of the world! Secondly, an ardent desire to communicate and share our faith with others must begin to grow within each one of us. The first Christians understood Christ to have fulfilled the ancient scriptures; he was the long awaited Messiah that they yearned to know. They brought this message to a world that had succumbed to polytheism, paganism and immorality. The new work of evangelization is one that starts with a deep interior conversion. One problem today is that many members of the faithful are living a mere shadow of the faith as they should be living; they are only partially evangelized!!! We must seek out these spiritually marginalized Catholics and seek to evangelize them. In other words there is still much work that needs to be done in order to help them live more fully like God’s children. Benedict XVI explains in His Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei:

Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. In rediscovering his love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigour that can never fade away. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed, it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord’s invitation to adhere to his word and become his disciples. Believers, so Saint Augustine tells us, “strengthen themselves by believing”. (Porta Fidei 7)

Thus I ask the question, “What does it mean to be sons and daughters of the living God?” In Christ we find the answer. The first thing that comes to mind is that Christ was filled with the Holy Spirit and He did the will of His Father. In Luke’s gospel account the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ and the Father spoke to His Son. After this account Jesus then began his ministry, he started to evangelize! Just as Christ received the Holy Spirit, so too all Christians must receive and be guided by the same Spirit, which in turn enables them to recognize and worship the Father as God’s children (Rom 8:15-17). Is the fire of the Holy Spirit truly burning in your life? If so you will see the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) the first of these fruits is love/charity and it is this same love that compels us to evangelize (2 Cor 5:14). Led by this same love one will always want to do more for our Lord and they won’t be ashamed to share their faith with others even if they are rejected for doing so. Most importantly we must make an effort and not take rejection as an offense but see it as an invitation to further our own study of the faith and to continue the conversation. It’s amazing what the Holy Spirit can do if we just continue the conversation always being conscious of the most charitable manner in which to proceed. Secondly, Christ did the will of the Father perfectly and we must seek to follow His example. To do so, means that we must often walk against the temporary currents and trends of our own culture when they come in conflict with the eternal truths of our faith. In the must difficult circumstances the sons and daughters must make great sacrifices to do the Father’s will, just as Christ did for us.

As we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and prepare to begin Ordinary Time let us ask our Lord to show us how we can profoundly rediscover our own identity as “beloved” sons and daughters of God and commit ourselves to participate in the mission of Christ by actively seeking to actively participate in the New Evangelization.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


These are the words of Jesus to his the apostles from St. John’s Gospel, chapter 14, verse 30. They are addressed by the Lord to them after the Last Supper, following what his called his “farewell discourse”. They are words also, I believed directed to all of us in this new year. As we are called more and more into the new year, with all of its concerns, but blessings as well, we hear these words of the Lord to us. We certainly still look back toward the celebration of the His birth, as we are yet in the Christmas season, having just celebrated the Epiphany on January 6, and his baptism on this coming Sunday of January 13. Both the Star which led the Magi to the Lord, the voice of God the Father at Jesus’ baptism, and the Lord’s first public miracle, the changing of the water into wine at Cana in Galilee, are spoken of by the Fathers of the Church as “Epiphanies” - that is manifestations of the glory of God to the world.

Thus, as we still look to the celebration of the birth of Christ, we now “rise and be on our way” to this new year that awaits. It is not any year, but also a “Year of Faith”, to receive once again, and to propose again, the good news of Jesus Christ to our world, and our culture. The Diocese of Orange has already embarked upon this year of Faith as part of the “New Evangelization”. At the same time, let us look into this month of January with the many opportunities for growth in Faith that are already there: National Migration Week (reflecting on the lives of Migrants as reflected in the “Magi”; the events surrounding the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade - both in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C.; the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; Catholic schools week, and all of the Saints days that beckon us this month: the Conversion of St. Paul, St. Vincent, St. Agnes, St. Thomas Aquinas and more.

Finally, the words of Pope Benedict XVI, in his address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, are important for us to consider, as on January 7 he reflected on St. Luke’s Gospel and the birth of Christ: “The Gospel of Luke recounts that on Christmas night the shepherds heard choirs of angels who gave glory to God and invoked peace on mankind. The Evangelist thus emphasizes the close relationship between God and the ardent desire of men and women of every age to know the truth, to practice justice and to live in peace…Yet from the Christian point of view, the glorification of God and human peace on earth are closely linked, with the result that peace is not simply the fruit of human effort, but a participation in the very love of God. It is precisely man’s forgetfulness of God, and his failure to give him glory, which gives rise to violence.”

May this new year, and a proclamation of the Gospel anew help us once more to see the presence of Christ in our midst, and there truly find the peace and harmony within ourselves and in our society and culture that is so needed.

As this retreat ends, as we are all now “on our way” into this new year, I would like to share with you some more images at the Cardinal Timothy Manning House of Prayer for priests here in Los Angeles.

+Kevin W. Vann
January 9, 2012

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy Feast day: St. Raymond of Penyafort OP

         As a canonist by training at the Angelicum in Rome, I can never approach this feast day of St. Raymond of Penyafort - a Canonist and Friar Preacher - without gratitude to the Dominican Friars and the education I received in Canon Law at the Angelicum. This sentiment, I know is shared by all of us who were in school in Rome at the “Ange” at about the same time.

         Looking first to the Saint’s feast day, we can find that he was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1175 and died in 1275. Following the wishes of Pope Gregory IX, he took the existing canons and legislation of the time and produced a collection of canon law that was both orderly and pastor. He was later elected General of the Dominicans. As a Dominican and as a canonist, we can find what guided him in his life with these his words: “May the God of love and peace set your hearts at rest and speed you on his journey; may he meanwhile shelter you from disturbance by others in the hidden recesses of his life, until he brings you at last into that place of complete plenitude where you will find response for every in the vision of peace, in the security of trust and in the restful enjoyment of his riches.” [Office of Readings for January 7]

       This thoughts and convictions certainly were found in the example of the Dominican Friars who taught so many of us in Canon Law in those years. Not long ago, Sr. Melanie Di Pietro S.C. and I were reflecting on our years in Rome and the opportunity it was for so many of us of many vocations [priest, consecrated religious, lay women and lay men] to study, pray and work together in the Eternal City, and to have a place where we could do that and not be pulled in different directions by the various forces which are capable of that in our culture.

         She and I were expressing our gratitude for our Dominican Canonist Professors like Father Jose Castano OP, Fr. Benito Gangoiti OP, Fr. Mark Said OP, and many others. I had heard the same expressed from my co-worker in the Tribunal in Springfield, Illinois at the time, Sr. Esther Redmann OSU (now having returned to the Lord), my good friend and now also deceased classmate Sister Ann Keevan C.S.J. of Portland, Maine, and priest classmates of the Casa Santa Maria of the North American College, now in ministry around our country in various Dioceses and Institutes.

          And I know that this is not confined to the Angelicum alone in Rome, but being St. Raymond’s feast day, I wanted to thank the Angelicum in particular! The Dominican Friars at the “Ange” certainly reflected what St. Raymond himself expressed in his letter, caring for their students, both pastorally, academically and canonically as well. They called us the “Angelicum Family.”

          At the time that we were all studying Canon Law, we always celebrated the feast day of St. Raymond. These were also the years during which there was preparation for the Revised Code of Canon Law and its Promulgation on January 25, 1983 by Pope John Paul II. I would like to close with these following few words from the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Legis. They certainly reflect the life of St. Raymond, and what we learned and lived in our years of study in Rome and at the Angelicum, and how to live and minister as canonists:

“This being so, it appears sufficiently clear that the Code
is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace, and
the charisms in the life of the Church and of the Faithful.
On the contrary, its purpose is rather to create such an
order in the ecclesial society that, while assigning the
primacy to Faith, grace and the charisms, it is at the same
time renders easier their organic development in the life
of both the ecclesial society and of the individual persons
who belong to it.”

Saint Raymond of Penyafort, Ora Pro Nobis!
To the Dominican Friars of the “Ange” , Ad multos annos!

+Kevin W. Vann
Bishop of Orange
January 7, 2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunrise on the Epiphany

Sunrise from the Cardinal Timothy Manning House

         As  I mentioned in my last entry, resuming now the “blogging” for “Shepherd of Orange”, I would like to share this morning two photos that I took of sunrise from the Cardinal Timothy Manning House of Prayer for Priests, here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  This year, because the 6th of January falls on Sunday, we have been able to celebrate the full 12 days of Christmas, which is many countries is now “truncated” because the Epiphany is celebrated now on the closest Sunday, and not on the 6th of January.  We are still in the season of the birth of the Lord, the Nativity, which continues until next Sunday, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  The sunrise on this day of the Epiphany, coming from the East, calls to mind the Magi coming from the East as well to seek the Christ Child.  These images call to mind excerpts of  the reading from Isaiah the Prophet  (60: 1-22) for this day in the Church’s Office of Readings: 

“Rise up in splendor, O Jerusalem! 
You light has come, the
glory of the Lord shines upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
But upon you the Lord shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.

Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
Your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.”
                   The pictures of the sunrise on the Epiphany, at the above verses from Isaiah help us to reflect on the Epiphany.  In all likelihood, it is a much earlier liturgical celebration of the birth of the Lord than the day on which was celebrate the Birth of Christ (although this certainly is ancient as well).  Like December 25, it does invoke images of light over darkness, just as Isaiah does.  The day calls to mind the journey of the Magi, from the East to follow the star, to follow the Light to the Christ child.  Some Scripture commentaries that I have read have said that the gifts of the Magi to the Christ child represented their surrender of their earlier ways of life.
           In this new year, in this year of Faith, what we we willing to surrender of our past to the Lord.  Are we willing to let his light and glory shine in the sometimes dark corners of our lives and our cultures.  We have indeed, like the Magi, “seen His glory”.  Now it is our turn to follow as well.  The words of Pope Benedict XVI, in his recent publication Jesus of Nazareth, The Infancy Narratives, are worth considering at this point:

 “The key point is this:  the wise men from the east are a new
 beginning.  They represent the journeying of humanity toward
 Christ.  They initiate a procession that continues throughout
 history.  Not only do they represent the people who have found
 the way to Christ:  they represent the inner aspiration of the
 human spirit, the dynamism of religious and human reason
 toward him.”  (p. 97).

          As, then, the Epiphany of the Lord dawns upon us in this new year, as we are still in the season of the Lord’s Birth, where are we in our own procession toward the Lord?  The Magi accompany us, and the entire narrative of this day reminds us of the obligation to let the glory of the Lord show through our lives, so that others may also see and follow, and that as the dawn overcomes the darkness, so too, the glory of the Lord is always the last word. 

And in the afternoon, the afternoon sun coming through with its light,
shining on the wet leaves and oranges...!