Priesthood Ordination of Andrew Morkunas

AndrewMorkunasDeacon Andrew Morkunas is part of the priesthood class of 2009 for the Archdiocese of Washington, which had seven new priests ordained on June 20th of this year.  Andrew was skiing this past winter and had a pretty nasty fall.  A routine scan shockingly revealed a brain tumor which required surgery and Andrew was therefore unable to be part of the June ordination. Andrew had surgery before the scheduled ordination, and thanks be to God, and the many prayers offered for him, his recovery has gone very well.   Andrew is very ready and able to join the presbyterate of the Archdiocese of Washington and will be ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Wuerl this Saturday Aug. 29 at 10 am in the crypt of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

If you have a moment please say a prayer for Deacon Andrew that the good work God has begun in him may be brought to completion.

If you are interested in learning more about Andrew and his experience of dealing with a brain tumor and preparing for ordination to the priesthood, here is an article on Andrew that was run in the Washington Post this past Saturday.

In Christ,

Msgr. Panke

“Year for Priests”Indulgences

Today we have a post from a guest blogger: Anthony Lickteig is one of our seminarians from the Archdiocese of Washington. He is entering his fourth year of Theology and will be ordained a transitional deacon in the Fall.

Today is the 150 Anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests. Since this is the year the Pope has dedicated for Priests, the Holy Father has offered Catholics the opportunity to earn a Plenary Indulgence on this feast day. In fact, during this whole “Year for Priests”, the Pope has declared that any lay Catholic may earn a Plenary Indulgence every first Thursday of the month from now until the close of the Year on June 19, 2010, as well as on the close of the Year itself. See the following link (especially Section B) for more information:  Enchiridion of Indulgences

So what does this mean? Well, it means that contrary to popular belief, the Church still believes in indulgences. The practice of selling indulgences during part of the Church’s history was wrong, not the belief in indulgences. The Church’s understanding of indulgences is tied to the understanding of sin and the authority of the Church as the Body of Christ to forgive sin. If one doesn’t believe in either of these, then of course one will not believe in indulgences. Now God is all-Holy and through the gift of Jesus Christ, he has called us to that same Holiness, and has even given us the ability to reach that same Holiness. Sin is choosing to reject this gift and not respond to that call. This free choice has consequences. If this choice destroys our communion with God, it causes death to the soul (mortal sin). However, all sin, even venial sin, has consequences. “It disrupts our communion with God and the Church, weakens our ability to resist temptation, and hurts others. The necessity of healing these consequences, once the sin itself has been forgiven, is called temporal punishment. Prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and other works of charity can take away entirely or diminish this temporal punishment.” (U.S. Catechism for Adults, p.244). God desires our ultimate perfection, but he wants us to cooperate with him to remove these imperfections of temporal punishment. It is still his grace in Christ working, but we are freely responding to it.

The bottom line is that prayer and works of charity really do change things; they help the one praying and the one for whom the prayers are offered. See Tobit 12:9 – “almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin” and James 5:16 – “pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” And Jesus himself said, But as to what is within [i.e. unrighteousness] give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.” (Luke 11:41)

If these temporal punishments are not removed before death, a final purification or Purgatory is needed. So in addition to prayer, fasting, almsgiving and other works of charity, the Church also “attaches to certain prayers and actions an indulgence or pardon, that is, the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due to sin.” (p. 244). A Plenary Indulgence is the full remission of temporal punishment due to sin. These indulgences can be applied to ourselves or to a deceased person.

So go out today (and every first Thursday until June 19th) and cooperate with this great gift that God wants to give us and our deceased relatives and friends! However, certain conditions must be met to receive this indulgence today (and in the future). See the following link to know how you can meet them: Conditions for Plenary Indulgence

Saint Patrick’s Day

On March 17th we celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick.  Since I reside in the Church of St. Patrick and count both Flinn’s and Murphy’s in my lineage I always look forward to celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day.  While we may raise a glass to St. Patrick (hopefully not too many) we cannot forget that he is best known for raising his heart to the Trinity, and I am sure he would beseech us to do the same.  We should offer a prayer tomorrow that the faith in Ireland will deepen, and that our own lives may emulate an undying dedication to evangelization like St. Patrick. 

Below is portion of St. Patrick’s famous and beautiful prayer known as “St Patrick’s Breast-Plate.”  A full version of the prayer can be found at along with a short biography.  Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!


I bind to myself today

The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:

I believe the Trinity in the Unity

The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today

God’s Power to guide me, God’s Might to uphold me,

God’s Wisdom to teach me, God’s Eye to watch over me,

God’s Ear to hear me, God’s Word to give me speech,

God’s Hand to guide me, God’s Way to lie before me,

God’s Shield to shelter me, God’s Host to secure me.

Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me, Christ within me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ at my right, Christ at my left.

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,

Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

The Role of Mary

A question was asked about the importance of Mary in the spiritual life of Catholics and the misconception that Mary can appear equal to Jesus.

Recently I was asked to please pray for someone because “Father, I know you’ve got a direct line to the Big Guy upstairs.” It is natural to ask others for prayers and it’s not uncommon to think those who have dedicated their life to God have more impact with their prayers of intercession. With Mary this is certainly true. She is unique in her holiness and unique in her role as Mother of God. I told the gentlemen that I would pray for his intention but implored him to put Mary “on the team.” She’s the real all-star when it comes to intercession.

We honor our Lady because she is unique in the order of grace. Mary is the Mother of God. No other creature can state that she bore the Redeemer of the World. At the wedding feast in Cana, Mary instructed the servants to, “Do whatever He tells you.” Mary’s holiness and dedication to the will of God surpassed all others and she continues to guide us gently to her Son. When we honor Mary in our prayers and liturgical feasts we are honoring the power of God and His generosity in giving us so loving a mother. When we venerate Mary and ask her intercession we give glory to God.

The teachings of the Church have always explicitly stated that Mary is in no way equal to Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the importance of our Lady in paragraphs 963-975 and clearly states her unique role which finds it’s source in Christ Himself. Here are a few important excerpts from the Catechism which explain the Church’s devotion to Mary and her powerful intercession:

969 “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.

970 “Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.”

971 “All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.” The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.” The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.