Reasonably Catholic: Keeping the Faith

Introducing Wesleyan’s new Catholic chaplain

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Fr. Bill WallaceUntil recently, Augustinian Father William Wallace wore an additional hat, as a practicing lawyer in lower Manhattan, handling fraud cases in the New York Attorney General’s office. Recently, he retired from that job to become Wesleyan University’s new Catholic chaplain.

Click below to hear the episode:

At a November 15, 2015, Mass in Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel, marking the terrorist attack on Paris, Father Bill read the following, which includes a litany of French saints:

Once again atrocity and tragedy strike our civilized world. The killing and wounding of innocent lives in Paris shakes us to the very core of our being. It demands our attention and our prayers.

In times like these, prayer is, perhaps, the only response, the only action, that we human beings can offer, and, yet, it is an action of great power and great grace. It is an action that Jesus Himself did when faced with unthinkable suffering and death – His own.

Let us now call upon those who have gone before us in faith – the holy men and women, martyrs and saints, of France who intercede for us and with us. Let us call upon their names and ask them to hear our prayers for the people of Paris, the people of France, and all people who are victims of war, violence, injustice, oppression, and hatred.

As Catholics, we pray:
Lord, the ones you love are under siege and in danger at the hands of those who do not know you, and who do not love life. Already many are dead, dying, suffering, mourning, and our grief is unbearable.
We beg your mercy on the souls of the dead, and your healing upon those injured; we beg your mercy upon the city of Paris and the people of France, as they are targeted by a dark madness that travels among us. We understand nothing, Lord, but we do know and are convinced that a light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it. That light is Christ Jesus, your Son.
Christ Jesus, light of the world, come into this darkness. In your light we see light.
Notre Dame de Paris, pray for the people of your city!
Our Lady of Grace, you who showed yourself to Saint Catherine Laboure and brought miracles, who smiled upon Saint Therese of Lisieux and created a missionary, in your holy Motherhood, please intercede for your fearful and endangered people; bring your consolations to the people of Paris and all of France. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, hear us.
Saint Therese of Lisieux, Patron of France, pray for them
Saint Joan of Arc, Patron of France, pray for them.
Saint Martin of Tours, Patron of France, pray for them
Saint Remigius, Patron of France, pray for them
Saint John Vianney …
Saint Jeanne Jugan …
Saint St Genevieve…
Saint Denis…
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux …
Saint Germain Cousin …
Saint Peter Julian Eymard …
Saint Louis …
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque …
Saint Peter Fourier …
Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat …
Saints Louis and Zelie Martin …
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal …
Saint Catherine Laboure …
Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne …
Saint John Eudes …
Saint Vincent de Paul …
Saint Hilary of Poitiers …
Saint Isaac Jogues …
Saint Jane de Chantal …
Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle …
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre …
Coptic martyrs and all victims of hatred and intolerance…
All you holy men and women, pray for France and pray for us.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil and all evil.
Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, hear our prayers tonight and the prayers of the people of France, those living and those who intercede for us from heaven.
Bring your faithful departed safely home to heaven, heal those who are wounded and cry out to you for help, comfort those who mourn and are sorrowing, and help us, Lord, help all of us, to be signs and instruments of healing, of hope, and of peace to our troubled and broken world.
We ask you all these things in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Father Bill also read as his homily the testament of Father Christian de Cherge, written in the 1990s during the Algerian War, in anticipation of being murdered along with his fellow monks:
If it should happen one day—and it could be today—that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to encompass all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to this country. I ask them to accept that the One Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure. I ask them to pray for me: for how could I be found worthy of such an offering? I ask them to be able to associate such a death with the many other deaths that were just as violent, but forgotten through indifference and anonymity.

My life has no more value than any other. Nor any less value. In any case, it has not the innocence of childhood. I have lived long enough to know that I share in the evil which seems, alas, to prevail in the world, even in that which would strike me blindly. I should like, when the time comes, to have a clear space which would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of all my fellow human beings, and at the same time to forgive with all my heart the one who would strike me down.

I could not desire such a death. It seems to me important to state this. I do not see, in fact, how I could rejoice if this people I love were to be accused indiscriminately of my murder. It would be to pay too dearly for what will, perhaps, be called “the grace of martyrdom,” to owe it to an Algerian, whoever he may be, especially if he says he is acting in fidelity to what he believes to be Islam. I know the scorn with which Algerians as a whole can be regarded. I know also the caricature of Islam which a certain kind of Islamism encourages. It is too easy to give oneself a good conscience by identifying this religious way with the fundamentalist ideologies of the extremists. For me, Algeria and Islam are something different; they are a body and a soul. I have proclaimed this often enough, I believe, in the sure knowledge of what I have received in Algeria, in the respect of believing Muslims—finding there so often that true strand of the Gospel I learned at my mother’s knee, my very first Church.

My death, clearly, will appear to justify those who hastily judged me naive or idealistic: “Let him tell us now what he thinks of it!” But these people must realize that my most avid curiosity will then be satisfied. This is what I shall be able to do, if God wills—immerse my gaze in that of the Father, to contemplate with him his children of Islam just as he sees them, all shining with the glory of Christ, the fruit of his Passion, filled with the Gift of the Spirit, whose secret joy will always be to establish communion and to refashion the likeness, delighting in the differences.

For this life given up, totally mine and totally theirs, I thank God who seems to have wished it entirely for the sake of that joy in everything and in spite of everything. In this “thank you,” which is said for everything in my life from now on, I certainly include you, friends of yesterday and today, and you my friends of this place, along with my mother and father, my brothers and sisters and their families—the hundred-fold granted as was promised!

And you also, the friend of my final moment, who would not be aware of what you were doing. Yes, for you also I wish this “thank you”—and this <adieu>—to commend you to the God whose face I see in yours.

And may we find each other, happy “good thieves,” in Paradise, if it pleases God, the Father of us both. Amen.

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