Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Safely Home

Last night, we all safely returned from an amazing pilgrimage to Italy. The past ten days were extremely blessed, with many memories and graces to treasure for the days, months, and years to come.

I'll post a real travel-log as soon as I have a few moments, including some of the best pictures I took.

Highlight for me: Mass at the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi. Simply unbelievable.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

On Pilgrimage!

Along with 45 parishioners, I am leaving today for Italy. We'll arrive in Rome, then immediate go to Assisi; after a day in Assisi, we head to San Giovanni Rotondo. After a day there, we return to Rome for four days.

Please pray for our safe travel and spiritual growth, and be assured of our prayers for you as well. If I get a chance to "check in" from an Internet Cafe, I will post an update of our travels.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Annual Football Challenge

We had a great time at the St John Neumann Young Adults football game on Sunday. Check out the rest of the pictures at our Picasa web album.

Faith Seeking Understanding for October 15, 2006

Before we move on to our next patristic writing, the Shepherd of Hermas, I would like to write briefly about the Pilgrimage to Italy. Many of you know that a group of 45 pilgrims (most are from St. John Neumann) and I are traveling to Assisi, San Giovanni Rotondo, and Rome this week. We depart on Wednesday evening, and will be bringing you with us in our prayers; please pray for safe travel, good weather, and spiritual growth as we visit the tombs of Sts. Francis, Clare, Padre Pio, Peter, Paul, and many others. Since this is a pilgrimage, we will celebrate Mass daily at a different holy site, and promise to remember your needs and intentions.

If you would like to request specific prayers, please e-mail me at and your petitions will be brought with us to Italy. We also have a public papal audience on our itinerary, as well as a visit to the necropolis, or Scavi, beneath St. Peter’s Basilica. I promise to take plenty of photographs to share with you on our return. For any of you who were unable to join us this time, don’t be discouraged: I have just finalized the details for our next pilgrimage to the Holy Land from March 9 – 18, 2007. Stay tuned for more details!

As we change gears and return to our study of the Fathers, the Shepherd (or Pastor) of Hermas offers excellent material for the next few weeks. The Shepherd was one of the most popular pieces of Christian literature during the second through fourth centuries. Often ranked among Scripture, this work was written during the middle of the second century, probably around 160 A.D. The author is technically unknown, although the work attributes itself to a “Hermas” who was the brother of “Pope Pius (I)”; therefore, we cannot study the life or teachings of “Hermas,” but simply examine his writing, which is an excellent example of the piety and spiritual life of the early Church.

The work is divided into three books containing Five Visions, Twelve Commandments, and Ten Similitudes (or Parables). Unlike the authors we have encountered to this point, The Shepherd is not concerned so much with theology as with morality; that is, its goal is to preach conversion and repentance. Such writings are valuable even to us today, not just to see what challenges faced the early Church, but also to allow us to reflect on sin in our own lives and to encounter the merciful love of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Visions begins with Hermas’ encounter with a Lady, who accuses him of sinfulness, especially in his heart; nevertheless, in the second vision forgiveness is offered to him and his family, if they would but repent and amend their life: “Forgiveness will be granted to all the saints who have sinned even to the present day, if they repent with all their heard and drive all doubts from their minds” (Bk. 1, Vision 2, Ch. 2).

The third vision is of a tower, built with a variety of stones representing the Church and all Her different members. Supporting the Church, however, are seven ladies, representing Faith, Self-restraint, Simplicity, Guilelessness, Chastity, Intelligence, and Love (cf. Bk. 1, Vision 3, Ch. 8). Nevertheless, Hermas is cautioned not to seek revelations in prayer: “Make no further demands for revelations. If anything ought to be revealed, it will be revealed to you” (Ch. 12).

In the fourth vision, Hermas encounters a great and terrible beast: “Go therefore and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then you prepare yourselves and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and you spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly. Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will direct them” (Vision 4, Ch. 2).

Finally, in the fifth vision, we encounter the shepherd for whom the book is written; this shepherd guides Hermas (and us) through the next two books; the shepherd is actually a guardian angel, sent to enlighten the conscience and direct Hermas to eternal life. We will discover his wise advice next week. May God bless you all … and of course, Go Tigers!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Book Mentioned in Today's Homily

I don't have time to post the whole homily at the moment, but the book I mentioned in today's homily is the Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life, by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. It's at here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for October 8, 2006

St. Irenaeus has given us a wealth of information as we have studied his writings during the past several weeks. In Against the Heresies, he stresses the importance of remaining within the Church to receive the teaching of Christ, passed on through the Apostles and their successors. The Gnostic heresies are clearly false, because they depart from the Tradition of the Church, in their search for “knowledge.”

In summary, Irenaeus defines true knowledge as “the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved, without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither receiving addition nor subtraction [of the truth]; and … above all the pre-eminent gift of love, which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and which excels all the other gifts” (bk. 4, ch. 33, n. 8).

The Gnostics also, by denying the goodness of the material world, deny the Incarnation. He says, “if the flesh were not in a position to be saved, the Word of God would in no wise have become flesh” (bk. 5, ch. 14, n. 1). The heart of the Gospel message is this truth, that God became man to save all men: “He had been made flesh and blood after the way of the original formation of man, saving in his own person at the end that which had in the beginning perished in Adam” (ibid.).

Irenaeus ends Against the Heresies with a beautiful conclusion, summarizing the recapitulation of these things in Christ – that He has come to us, that we might return to Him: “the First-begotten Word, should descend to the creature, that is to what had been molded, and that it should be contained by Him; and on the other hand, the creature should contain the Word, and ascend to Him, passing beyond the angels, and be made after the image and likeness of God” (bk. 5, ch. 46, n. 3).

As we conclude our study of Irenaeus this week, we will read a few quotes from the Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, which was discovered in 1904. He begins by establishing the rule of Faith in the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (cf. n.5, ¶ 2). After summarizing the Fall of Man (Original Sin) and the clear division that existed between God and man, Irenaeus presents the beautiful argument of “recapitulation” (as we saw above), that is, that Christ restores all things in Himself:

“For it was necessary that Adam should be summed up in Christ, that mortality might be swallowed up and overwhelmed by immortality; and Eve summed up in Mary, that a virgin should be a virgin’s intercessor, and by a virgin’s obedience undo and put away the disobedience of a virgin. And the trespass which came by the tree was undone by the tree of obedience, when, hearkening unto God, the Son of man was nailed to the tree; thereby putting away the knowledge of evil and bringing in and establishing the knowledge of good: now evil it is to disobey God, even as hearkening unto God is good.” (n. 33 - 34).

By demonstrating the prophecy and typology that points to Christ throughout the Old Testament, Irenaeus illustrates the continuity of the Old and New, as well as God’s continued providence to draw His people to Himself. If we reject the Trinity, which is the foundation of our Faith, however, we fall into error: “So then in respect of the three points of our seal [the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit], error has strayed widely from the truth. For either they reject the Father, or they. accept not the Son and speak against the dispensation of His incarnation; or else they receive not the Spirit, that is, they reject prophecy. And of all such must we beware, and shun their ways, if in very truth we desire to be well-pleasing to God and to attain the redemption that is from Him” (n. 100).

St. Irenaeus not only has given us a glimpse into the errors of Gnosticism, but also has allowed us to see the beginnings of theology as reason and faith work together to address contemporary issues. Next week, however, we change direction slightly and encounter the Shepherd of Hermas, which addresses the moral challenges of Christians in the second century. May God bless you all!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Homily for Sunday, October 8, 2006

Because I forgot to post my "Faith Seeking Understanding" today, and since tomorrow is my day off, I will post some of the thoughts from this Sunday's homily:

Today's readings (Gen 2:18-24 and Mk 10:2-16, in particular) read like they were chosen for a wedding Mass. It's appropriate therefore, to reflect on the meaning of Christian marriage, especially when Christ seems to hold up such a high standard in the Gospel.

First of all, it's clear that Marriage itself -- as an institution -- is under attack in our culture today. Maybe not explicitly, since we don't read editorials or books calling for the abolition of marriage. But implicitly, we live without understanding the necessity of faithful, stable marriages as the bedrock of our society.

Look around: divorce is the result (and it is a tragedy), but it begins even before we start thinking about the hazards of casual sexual encounters. We continually treat other human persons as things for our entertainment and gratification. Whether through contraception, homosexual activity, pornography, extramarital sex, premarital sex, adultery -- and all of these things promoted and encouraged by the media and entertainment industry -- we diminish the value of the human person.

Christ, however, comes to free us from the bondage of sin and death that comes from denying the "nuptial meaning" of the body. He tells the Pharisees, the Apostles, and us, that marriage is the permanent, lifelong, exclusive and fruitful union of one man and one woman. Sexual relations are meant for this union alone, and it is within marriage that sexual intimacy brings about the "one flesh" union spoken of in Genesis and quoted by our Lord.

God has inscribed within our very being "from the beginning" this "law of the gift" which means that each person is meant to be "for another." We can see it in the story of the creation of Eve, where Adam found completion in his human nature by giving of himself for his bride's very existence. So, too, in a similar image, when Christ in the sleep of death brought forth His bride, the Church, from his pierced side.

We have many resources to learn about what Pope John Paul II called the "Theology of the Body," and to fight back against our culture which continually wears away at the true meaning of life -- the meaning of the Cross. Read the Theology of the Body, recently retranslated and republished; or for an easier introduction, try Christopher West's books: Good News About Sex and Marriage, Theology of the Body for Beginners, or his talks available on his website. Another great resource is John Kippley's Marriage is for Keeps, which helps us understand what makes for a successful, happy, and lifelong marriage. Finally, Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote a marvelous book entitled Three to Get Married.

How do we individually fight the battle for marriage? It begins at home, by embracing the cross in our daily lives -- overcoming sin through the power of the Sacraments (Confession and the Eucharist) and dying to ourselves for our spouses and families. It seems simple, but the reality is that this is the greatest drama and most important challenge we will ever face.

Christ Himself strengthens us when He raises the bar for lifelong, faithful marriage; be confident that with His grace, nothing is impossible.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for October 1, 2006

Even though we are continuing with our study of St. Irenaeus, and his Against the Heresies, the month of October brings to mind two things. First, October is the month of the Rosary; it is also “Respect Life” month. As such, I would like to encourage everyone to come to the Life Chain at Warren and Wayne Roads on Sunday afternoon, from 2:30 – 3:30 pm. Also, throughout the month, we can pray the rosary – alone, with our families, with friends, or at the parish – for an end to abortion and for a greater respect of human dignity at every stage.

Interestingly enough, the very Gnostics that St. Irenaeus dealt with had very little regard for human dignity, because everything “material” was the result of the principle of evil. Hence, the Gnostics opposed marriage, procreation, and even supported suicide as a means of allowing their “spiritual self” to escape the evil body. Although our culture now seems to worship the material world – instead of rejecting it – the Catholic Church still plays an important role in calling to mind the truth and meaning of the human person.

Last week, we saw how Irenaeus demonstrated the historical truth of the Church: bishops in every diocese could be traced to the apostles. Most importantly, the Diocese of Rome was at the heart and center of the Catholic Church, preserving her unity and doctrine. Irenaeus continues: “Since therefore we have such proofs [of apostolic origin], it is not necessary to seek the truth among others with it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers” (bk. 3, ch. 4, n. 1).

We notice clearly that Irenaeus stresses the importance of the Church as the repository of the truth; Scripture is often silent, in which case: “How should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down?” (ibid.).

Having established the Church as the firm rule and guide of the truth, he returns to demonstrating the theology of redemption. Jesus Christ must have truly become man, not only appearance, but completely; otherwise, our salvation would be empty: “He caused man to cleave to and become one with God. For unless man had overcome the enemy of man, the enemy would not have been legitimately vanquished. And again: unless it had been God who had freely given salvation, we could never have possessed it securely. And unless man had been joined to God, he could never have become a partaker of incorruptibility. For it was incumbent upon the Mediator between God and men, by His relationship to both, to bring both to friendship and concord, and present man to God, while He revealed God to man” (ch. 18, n. 7).

He concludes this argument with stirring words, offering us profound hope in the reality of the Incarnation (God becoming man): “If, not having been made flesh, He did appear as if flesh, His work was not a true one. But what He did appear, that He also was: God recapitulated in Himself the ancient formation of man, that He might kill sin, deprive death of its power, and give life to man; and therefore His works are true” (ibid.).

Irenaeus begins the fourth book with an analysis of the continuity between the old covenant and the new. Both, he says, are established by the same God – not two different Gods. God has not changed, but rather fulfilled the covenant through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: “The Lord did not abrogate the natural [precepts] of the law, by which man is justified…but He extended and fulfilled them. …He did not teach us these things as being opposed to the law, but as fulfilling the law, and implanting in us the varied righteousness of the law” (bk. 4, ch. 13, n. 1).

Irenaeus continues to supply a wealth of theology and history for us, so we will continue next week. My pilgrimage to Italy is from October 18 – 27, and I appreciate your prayers for our group. If anyone would like to send prayer requests along with us, please e-mail or bring your requests by the office. May God bless you!