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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 an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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"Upon the road, René was always occupied with God. His words and the discourses he held were all expressive of submission to the commands of Divine Providence, and showed a willing acceptance of the death which God was sending him. He gave himself to God as a sacrifice, to be reduced to ashes by the fires of the Iroquois, which that good Father's hand would kindle. He sought the means to bless Him in all things and everywhere. Covered with wounds as he himself was, Goupil dressed the wounds of other persons, of the enemies who had received some blows in the fight as well as those of the prisoners. He opened the vein for a sick Iroquois. And he did it all with as much charity as if he had done it to persons who were his best friends."
— St. Isaac Jogues (writing in 1643)

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.”