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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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“We wish therefore and prescribe, that all observe the law of the Church, and that at home or in the church they shall always wear the cassock, which is proper to the clergy. When they go out for duty or relaxation or on a journey, they may use a shorter [coat] which is to be black in color, and which reaches to the knees, so as to distinguish it from the dress of the laity. They should reject the more elegant and worldly styles of garments, which are found today. We enjoin upon our priests as a matter of strict precept that, both at home and abroad, and whether they are residing in their own diocese or outside of it, they shall wear the Roman collar.”
— Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884)

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Knowledge of the Infant Lord
published 10 December 2017 by Fr. David Friel

MARVELOUS line from St. Therese of Lisieux graced the front of a Christmas card I once received: “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 our Infant Lord. Numerous words came to mind. Here are some of them:

Mercy. Love. Humility. Peace. Life. Joy. Sacrifice. Subtle. 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 a Baby 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 Whom 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.”