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.