Monday, October 22, 2012

We're in this together!

Katie, William and I preparing to process at the beginning of the ordination (Photo by: Colleen Bonadonna)
This weekend, I came across the following words from the Bishop of Trenton, New Jersey. It was part of an address he gave to his permanent deacons on October 13, 2012 - the day of my ordination in Richmond, Virginia! I think they reflect the sentiment captured by this photograph perfectly. The only thing I would add is that our children have an integral role to play as well!

"A word about the person who came here with you, the person sitting next to you, the person who shares you with the Church: your wives.

"In addition to loving you — and that is a probably a special challenge in itself — she is called to love your ministry.  Together, you give powerful witness to the Sacrament of Marriage and to family life.  There is a special grace and holiness to that.  The more you grow in mutual love, and love and dedication to your family, the greater the witness you give to the Christian community.  A married deacon cannot do this alone.  You must do it together with your wives.  As a couple you make an incredibly unique contribution to the renewal of married life and love in your communities.  The wife of the married deacon is called to an extraordinary life of faith and fidelity.  Your life as wife and mother goes hand in hand, literally, with the pastoral ministry your husband exercises.  Your love and support sanctifies him and gives the most profound witness to those he serves.  Love, cherish and sanctify her as well."

 - Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., Bishop of Trenton, New Jersey  

Friday, June 29, 2012


Well, I am heading off to the Saint Francis Springs Prayer Center for five days of solitude in the woods of North Carolina. All candidates for ordination are required to make such a retreat before they are ordained (Canon 1039). I have never been on a silent retreat before, so I am really excited to see what God has to say, if I am only willing to let him get a word in edgewise! I promise to keep you all in my prayer this week and ask you to do the same.

A friend described this center as "Frank Lloyd Wright meets the Adirondacks" From their website and Facebook page, it looks like I will have a wonderful experience. In the "It's a Small World" category, the spiritual director on site next week is from the motherhouse of the Sisters of Christian Charity, located in Mendham, New Jersey - my hometown! Since I am a firm believer that God often uses the pseudonym "Coincidence," who knows what He has in store for me!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Promises, promises....

Since deacons are permitted to preach during Mass, and are official representatives of the Church, Canon Law requires that all candidates for ordination to the diaconate must make a profession of Faith and take an Oath of Fidelity in front of the Local Bishop (or his delegate) prior to ordination. Today, I did just that.


I, Joseph Marotta, with firm faith believe and profess each and everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith, namely:

I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.


I, Joseph Marotta, in assuming the office of deacon, promise that in my words and in my actions I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church.

With great care and fidelity I shall carry out the duties incumbent on me toward the Church, both universal and particular, in which, according to the provisions of the law, I have been called to exercise my service.

In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of faith in its entirety; I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it.

I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.

With Christian obedience I shall follow what the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish. I shall also faithfully assist the diocesan Bishops, so that the apostolic activity, exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church, may be carried out in communion with the Church.

So help me God, and God’s Holy Gospels on which I place my hand.

It was a pretty major step for me, and as you can tell by its length, we are being asked to promise some pretty serious stuff as we embark on a pretty serious job! But it really hit home when I was given a stack of the following announcements:

So folks, mark your calendars! I sure hope someone remembers to mop the cathedral floor!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pre-Cana, American Edition

A couple of days ago, Deacon Greg lamented the current state of affairs when it comes to Catholics preparing for the Sacrament of Matrimony. I came across this video that I think goes a long way to explaining how we arrived at that state. It is a bit on the long side (nearly 15 minutes), but makes an important point in a funny way.

Simply providing more instruction on the sacrament is not the answer. The problem is much deeper than a lack of knowledge. I think we need to reintroduce nearly an entire Church to the concept of marriage as a vocation. So the question really is, how the heck do we do that?

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Sacred Heart of a Parent

Photo by: Mike Baird
Conspicuously absent from the Ten Commandments is any obligation of parent to child.  We must suppose that God felt it unnecessary to command by law what He had ensured by love.  ~Robert Brault
My family spent the past week at the beach. The weather has been great, and I have enjoyed watching my four children play in the surf and sand. It was not too long ago that Katie and I would not even think of allowing them to go near the water without one of us within arm's reach. As their swimming ability improved, so did our comfort level - first ankle deep, then knees, until now we are able to enjoy the sun on the beach as they frolic in the waves. However, we still find ourselves counting heads every few moments... just to be sure. My guess is that we'll do that forever.

Today is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is a feast that calls us to reflect upon the love God has for each of us. The readings proclaimed during Mass today help us in this endeavor. The First Reading - from the Book of Hosea, opens with a reminder that God's love is a parent's love: "When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son...I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks." The intimacy of this passage is quite profound! Our God is no distant deity - his care and concern bring him as close as a parent's affectionate embrace. 

As we grow, we become less and less fond of that embrace. We seek to find our own way, and crave independence. Still, even after our parents relent and allow us to head out on our own, they are usually not far behind - read to pick up the pieces. My kids may think they are on their own in the ocean, but it would only take one big wave to propel Katie and I out of our beach chairs and into the surf. 

And so it is with God. His love for us is not conditioned on our making good choices. He is there for us regardless. Hosea reminds us, "though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer." The Sacred Heart of Jesus is with us whenever we encounter sacrificial love. Whenever we sacrifice for others, we participate in the Sacred Heart. 

As we enter into this Father's Day weekend, I invite us to call to mind all of the sacrifices our fathers made (or continue to make) for us - to provide for our material, emotional and spiritual needs. However expressed, that gift is a constant reminder of the love God has for each of us. No matter how big the wave, there is always a loving arm to keep us safe. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Joke of the Day

I think having a son named Jack made me giggle all the more at this joke:
Jack's mother ran into the bedroom when she heard him scream and found his two-year old sister pulling his hair. She gently released the little girl's grip and said comfortingly to Jack, "There, there. She didn't mean it. She doesn't know that hurts."

She was barely out of the room when the little girl screamed. Rushing back in, she asked, "What happened?"

"She knows now," Jack replied.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Joke of the Day

Thanks to the Happy Catholic, I came across this site with a few gems, including this one:
A miser had three sons, one of whom became a Dominican, one of whom became a Franciscan, and one of whom became a Jesuit. On his deathbed he called them in and told them that he wanted each of them to place a thousand dollars in his casket to be buried with him.

At the service, the three went up and the Dominican said, "This is a waste of money, Dad, but since you are my father and I owe you your last wishes, I've gotten permission from my Order to fulfill them." And he place a thousand dollars in hundred-dollar bills in the casket.

The Franciscan said, "Dad, it eats me up inside, but there is so much good that could be done with that thousand for people who need it more that I just can't do it: I will not waste it on something so frivolous."

The Jesuit behind him clapped him on the back. "Don't worry, brother, I have you covered." Then he took the Dominican's thousand out of the casket, pocketed it, and replaced it with a check for three thousand dollars.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prayer of the Week


I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Annunciation

Today, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. It is nine months to the day before Christmas. If retailers had any clue about this feast's significance, I am quite certain we would be hearing Christmas carols on the radio and the window displays would be up already!!

Last year, Deacon Greg shared this depiction of The Visitation, painted by John Collier. I think the expression on "Mary's" face is priceless. You can almost hear her say, "Ummm....excuse me?!?!"
I am taking time this lent to read some of my favorite Jesuit authors. This morning, as providence would have it, I came across the following poem by Denise Levertov in A Friendship Like No Other by William Barry, S.J.

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
        Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one
        The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
                       God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

Aren't there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
             Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
           More often
those moments
       when roads of light and storm
       open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
                  God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child—but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
                only asked
a simple, 'How can this be?'
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel's reply,
perceiving instantly
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power—
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
         Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love—

but who was God. 

And don't forget Canon 1251:

"Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday."

Have a blessed weekend!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Buon Onomastico!

Growing up, unlike my sister, I never received a St. Patrick's Day card from my Irish grandmother. No, the card I received in the middle of March every year wished me a "Happy St. Joseph's Day". I always thought that was the coolest thing. I had a feast day all to myself! I guess since Jesus' foster-father is actually the patron of the entire Church, that isn't entirely accurate, but a boy can dream, can't he? (Joseph certainly did!)

From the first time I saw it, I have always enjoyed Barocci's painting of the Holy Family. It is called "Rest on the Flight to Egypt" and, although it depicts Joseph taking the Son of God away from Herod's slaughter of the innocents, there is such a serene joy to be found. The smile on his face says it all. Joseph is HAPPY to be a dad!

Here is a little video clip from one of my favorite authors, James Martin, S.J. I have been reading some of his works this Lenten season, and I think he does a great job of painting a portrait of my patron!

Prayer to Saint Joseph for Fathers

Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary,
you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty.
You supported the holy family of Nazareth with the work of your hands.

Kindly protect those who trustingly come to you.
You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes.
They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them.

You too knew trial, labor and weariness.
But amid the worries of material life, your soul was full of deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with God's Son entrusted to you and with Mary, his tender Mother.

Assure those you protect that they do not labor alone.

Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over Him faithfully as you have done.


-Pope John XXIII