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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward a doctorate in liturgical theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“If I could only make the faithful sing the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei…that would be to me the finest triumph sacred music could have, for it is in really taking part in the liturgy that the faithful will preserve their devotion. I would take the Tantum Ergo, the Te Deum, and the Litanies sung by the people over any piece of polyphony.”
— Giuseppe Cardinal Sarto, Letter to Msgr. Callegari (1897)

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Knowledge of God
published 24 December 2011 by Fr. David Friel

A marvelous line from St. Therese of Lisieux graced the front of a Christmas card I received the other day: “A God Who became so small could only be mercy and love.”

That wise remark from the saint of the Little Way caused me to think of all the characteristics of God we can know simply from looking to the baby Jesus. Numerous words came to mind. Here are some of them:

Mercy. Love. Humility. Peace. Life. Joy. Sacrifice. Subtle. Coy. Captivating. Real. Inviting. Youth. Curiosity. Hope. Spirit. Power. Glory. Strength. Weakness. Truth. Goodness. Beauty.

It is astonishing to me that King Herod felt threatened by the coming Messiah. How could a grown man be afraid of a Baby—even One Who possessed all the powers of the world? A thousand years earlier, another king, David, expressed it thus: “The Lord is my light & my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1).

That God would become so small testifies to Who He is. Yet, who are we to have this insight into His nature, much less to benefit from His extraordinary gift of Self? In the words of St. Augustine of Hippo: “Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.”