Sunday, December 8, 2019

The wolf will be a guest of the lamb

Stroke

Dear friends, this week it was discovered that I have had a pretty serious stroke.  Serious in that the part of my brain that has been affected was fairly large.  Through the Grace of God, however, I have had zero noticeable effects of this stroke.

I spent 4 days in the wonderful care of doctors and nurses at St. Francis Hospital as they tried to figure out why the stroke happened.  Despite their diligent work, they could not locate the source of the stroke. 

They have referred me on to the Mayo Clinic, where I will visit in a few weeks.  The Mayo Clinic specializes in cases like mine that defy the normal battery of tests and procedures.

I know that before, during, and after (and always) that there are lots of people praying for me and for their priests.  I appreciate that, and ask for your continued prayers.

I am very much at peace, and have been given medication to ensure that until I can get further diagnosed, I will not have another stroke.

I have been given the green light to carry on with my priestly ministry as normal with the encouragement from the doctor to take it easy. 

Thanks again for your ongoing prayers.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Strengths and Weaknesses of NCYC 2019


Weaknesses

1 – There were zero talks on what I would consider the top 5 threats to the Catholic Faith of teenagers.  Nothing on:
a. How science and Catholicism are compatible
b. Catholicism and homosexuality
c. Catholicism and transgender issues
d. How to respond to the new atheists (nor was there anything on how to respond to the old atheists)
e. Catholicism and same-sex marriage

I have no idea why the top 5 threats our Catholic teens were not addressed head on.  They may have been mentioned at some point in some break out session, but you would have no way of knowing.  Those 5 topics need to be the TITLES of talks.


2 – Intentionality.  Every conference needs to welcome in people at the beginning and recognize where they are, but then there needs to be an intentional plan to help them MOVE to a new place, closer to the Lord.  I did not feel like NCYC did that.  At some point there needs to be an intentional ….”we’ve talked about the ways in which we are hurting and broken…and so now we are all moving towards confession…this is what confession is…we now have an opportunity to do that…and then this is Jesus in the Eucharist and adoration…this is the fulfillment”

It just seems like all weekend there are confessions available without intentionality and then there’s adoration but it isn’t a moving the group, together, through those stages nor through catechesis.  I’m not blaming Mark Hart’s talk on adoration because it was PHENOMENAL…I just mean I’d like to see an intentional and catechetical movement that everyone knows about and is working on.


3 – Our young people need to see liturgies (Mass, liturgy of the hours, and adoration) that are the liturgical rites of the Church, and not amended.  There is a humility in submitting to the liturgical texts and rites of the Church. 

4 – a lack of silence in adoration.  The group adoration in Lucas Oil stadium had really loud music playing almost completely throughout adoration, and I think there was literally about 90 seconds of silence.  Imagine how powerful it would be for our young people to be in a place where 18,000 people were all together in silence.

And you don’t need noise to cover over confessions.  Priests know how to do confessions quietly, or you could also move confessions out into the concourse.

I’m sure some will accuse me of bemoaning all of his lack of silence to my young people, but I literally made a commitment to not say a word or make weird faces or in any way express my discomfort with the lack of silence, but as my kids walked out of adoration, they expressed to me an exasperation with how adoration went. 

Also with regard to silence, I went to the adoration chapel set up in the convention center.  The following things interrupted it.  I was never able to have more than 10 minutes of silence in the chapel despite trying numerous times.
1 – adoration ended so that there could be a teaching Mass
2 – a religious order giving a talk while Christ was exposed, and then proceeding to invite everyone forward to be blessed by an image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.
3 – A priest giving his vocation story while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed
4 – my young people wanted to go to the chapel so we did, and there was a reflection/homily being given
5 – after that, my young people were hoping for silence, but an organist started in with music and asked everyone to join him in the songs

Young people want and can handle silence, and those who haven’t experienced it will be moved by it when they experience it.  We don’t have to keep the young people moving/talking/singing…let them spend time in silence with the Lord, particularly as our world gets louder, more frantic, and more under the iron grip of the dictatorship of noise. 

Have an adoration chapel where only adoration takes place.  Do all the other prayer/music/Masses/blessings/witness talks somewhere else.


5 - You have tons of seminarians at the conference.  Let them serve the liturgies.  They are contemplating giving their lives to the Church...why not hold them up and let them do what they have received tons more training for?



Strengths



1 – I bring my young people to NCYC mainly to see thousands of other young Catholics who are willing to give Jesus Christ and His Church a try, and many who are living it vibrantly.  My young adults go to 7 different public high schools, and most of them have only 1 or 2 other Catholics in their entire school.  NCYC is a 45 minute drive to show them thousands of other Catholic teens.

2 – Every single speaker that we heard was absolutely amazing.  The keynote speakers of Immaculee Ilibagiza, Mark Hart and Sister Bethany Madonna were mind-blowingly great.  Our breakout presentations that we attended were also very much loved by our group.

3 – There was a nice emphasis on chant and beautiful liturgical music.  I know my group appreciated that very much.

4 – I loved the lectio divina modeling that took place.  That was a great idea!

Monday, December 2, 2019

same-sex marriage and Catholicism

Same-sex marriage is THE issue that finishes off whatever vestiges of Catholicism were still lingering in lukewarm Catholics.

“I’ll do the “no meat on Lenten Fridays” thing, but if you’re saying my sister/friend/cousin can’t receive Communion if they marry whomever they want, I’m out!”

Sunday, December 1, 2019

We worship a God who "waits"...

so we should be people who "wait" as well






The point: we worship a God who waits, so we should be people who wait.  

1)     God waits and does not come as Jesus Christ.  He waits for thousands of years of the Old Testament, through awful leaders, horrible sins, giant failures of His people, horrible persecutions and famines, God waited.  Of course it is not an inactive waiting, God was very much at work in both holding everything in existence allowing everything to exist, active through an infinite number of interventions, most that we won’t know about until the end of time…but God did not yet come as Jesus Christ until, as the Bible puts it, the world arrived at the fullness of time.

2)     God also waits in that He has not come back to wrap the world up yet.  Through horrible persecutions, great sufferings, awful wars, horrible sins etc. the curtain still remains up on the world…the world continues and God waits for the fullness of time.  Of course God doesn’t sit on the sidelines, it is not an inactive waiting, God was very much at work in both holding everything in existence allowing everything to exist, active through an infinite number of interventions, most that we won’t know about until the end of time, but God has not returned.

We worship a God who waits, so we should be people who wait

Waiting seems terrible.  No one else makes us wait – everyone responds instantly – Kroger usually opens a new checkout line if the person in front of you has too many groceries, Amazon will deliver your package today…But God waits, and in this season of Advent in a special way, the Church asks you and I to wait.

A couple of things about this waiting:

1)     Is it an inactive waiting?  No!!!  Jesus says in the Gospel today “Stay awake”…the readings urge us to vigilance…and that is the type of waiting we are called to…the type of waiting that God does – a vigilance and an alertness to every single thing that is happening, action and intervention when needed, and so the same for you and I.  We wait, but we are alert, and we are still acting. 

2)     This “waiting” to me is best lived in prayer.   When we pray, it is the waiting of God
a.      It is not the waiting to get in to see a doctor
b.      Our contemplative prayer in Advent (and always) is a sitting WITH the doctor…the waiting with Him in prayer is what heals us and refines us

We worship a God who actively, alertly, lovingly and vigilantly waits.  This Advent, let us be people who also actively, alertly, lovingly and vigilantly wait as well!

Sunday shopping, sports, restaurants, etc.

I will never shop on Sunday, and have tried to cut out Sunday restaurants (once or twice in the past 5 years) - I am hoping to never do it again.

I'm not sure where these exceptions came in paragraph 2187 of the Catechism of things allowed to happen on Sundays.




I am also in favor of getting rid of CYO sports on Sunday.

So I'm not sure how either "sports or restaurants" DON'T make unnecessary demands on others.

"I don't want to make any unnecessary demands on you, but I need someone to ref my kids soccer game, and someone has to make me a sandwich"?????

I'm not debating the Catechism, I just share all this as the fruit of some research and thinking over the years on this subject, along with sharing this quote from the Catechism as well.  What are your thoughts?  Why do you think the Catechism includes sports and restaurants as things that are necessary?  Is it the inclusion of something unique to a particular culture?


Perpetual Adoration and the fallen away Catholics


Fixing the public school system

How to fix the public school system: teach philosophy. Philosophy can be taught in a completely "secular" way according to even the strictest understanding of that term.

It would also greatly help our Catholic schools as well.

Start in about 4th or 5th grade. One class a year on the history of thought and thinking. Most kids sit around asking the serious questions of life around 3rd-4th-5th grade anyways, and most of them don't know that their questions are the same questions that many great thinkers have been writing about and working on (and even "asnwering") for millennia.

When I was in the seminary learning philosophy, I regularly thought:
1) This is AMAZING!
2) These were the same questions I was thinking through and wrestling with since 3rd grade.

"Rethinking" Catholicism

‪“If the Church was not directly instituted by Christ, then it has to be rethought ceaselessly, reorganized according to rational schemes answering the needs of the moment”‬

‪Cardinal Robert Sarah‬
‪“The Day is Now Far Spent”‬

Christ as coach and teacher


Thanksgiving

The candles are lit.  The linens are fresh.  The chalice is prepared.  Everything is ready for Thanksgiving ad orientem!


A statement from my Dad on Roncalli

Given the recent situation that has made the rounds concerning Roncalli High School, I wanted to share this message from my Dad.  Prayers for all involved!

Read the message by clicking here: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1101402553986&ca=85d34caa-71f4-4782-8d43-85100d14ce77&fbclid=IwAR275hvNVknOD7pYGBl7SmIt712dWFMysawKHlBZv2Oqnr3QSN5OZ_Kh2oY

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Kanye and Zacchaeus






Kanye West is one of the more famous music acts of the 2,000’s, selling about 40 million rap and hip hop albums in that span.

Lots of profanity and so forth

Kim Kardashian is Kanye’s wife, and she is probably more famous than Kanye

If you don’t know who they are, I promise you’ve seen their faces in the grocery check out lane every week for the last 15 years.

About a month ago, Kim Kardashian and her three children were baptized in the Armenian Orthodox Church

Kanye started hosting religious revival prayer services

And this past week, Kanye released a gospel hip-hop album titled Jesus is King

This is not a homily about the text of any of the songs – but there is some good stuff in there – I’ve listened several times….

I would still suggest first reading Scripture, the Catechism and about 200 saints

But the same applies to me too – I would suggest Scripture and the Catechism and hundreds of saints vs. anything I’ve ever written as well

What I want to preach about today is not the text of a song but the reaction Kanye’s conversion has received both inside and outside Christianity

Some have said they think he is insincere

Some have said they think he’s doing it just to make money

Some think he may be sincere now, but he’ll backslide
HE MIGHT!  HE MIGHT BE INSINCERE…HE MIGHT BE DOING IT FOR THE MONEY…HE MIGHT be sincere now, backslide, reconvert, backslide 80 more times…I have no idea.

But it strikes me that Kanye is very much like Zaccheus in the Gospel today. 

Worldly, wealthy, and when Jesus comes and dines with him, it says

“The Pharisees grumbled saying, “He has gone to eat at the house of a sinner”, but folks, he has dined with Saint Peter, Saint John, Judas, Zaccheus, and You and I – we have no idea where our story ends, or where Zacheus’ story ends, nor do we know where Kanye’s story ends….some people that Jesus dines with become saints, and some are Judas’

But this also is not a “do not judge homily” – although we shouldn’t judge a person’s conversion from afar…I should judge actions…If Kanye makes his old music again, I can judge that act…if people who are close to me do something wrong, I should judge that act and speak up…but armchair authenticity judgments from 1,000’s of miles away are gross and wildly inaccurate.

Here is the point of the homily: and it is in the first reading: God rebukes us little by little
Rebuke might turn us off, so let’s rephrase it as “God is patient and showing you the next little thing to work on, to change, the next vice to remove, the next virtue or habit to work on

God is patient with you and I, God is patient with Zacheus, God is patient with Kanye, God was patient with Saint Peter, and God was patient with Judas.
Some respond to God’s nudges, his little by little

God doesn’t usually show us ALL the things we need to fix in ourselves because it might crush us or get us to despair

Some might read the saints and despair – Therese or John of the Cross is so far from who I am
Maybe….but God works with us little by little

And perhaps, for those who can’t handle Therese yet, the words of a Kanye or even a person like me might be the way God chooses to nudge them forward, little by little

Conclusion: I ask you to ask God today “Lord, what is the next thing you are calling me to do…the next step to take…what is a small thing I need to get rid…and a small thing I need to add?”

Jesus wants to dine with us too…and the Pharisees will grumble…but God is working with us little by little.  We thank God for his patience and we get to work with a sense of urgency…because our salvation, as always, hangs in the balance

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Stop trying to "find yourself"!

"Who am I?" is a really strange question

Homily for All Saints




All Saints – the feast day for our time, because we’re not sure who we are anymore. 
Thomas Howard - Who Am I? Who Am I?
He said if you were given phrases like “Who Am I?” or “Identity Crisis” “my self concept” you know they would be phrases uttered in our own day.
“all of art, movies, poetry, painting – it all assumes that somewhere we lost ourselves and must grope for any straw of affirmation that may float by in the dark…we send up flares signaling “Help!  What are we?”
And so we consult gurus, sages, horoscopes, palm readers, fortune tellers, or you join a group that will nudge you along toward an answer by getting you to sit in a circle with them, or breathe with them, or dance with them, or work through your hangups with them

When did this happen?  When did the question “Who am I” push itself to center stage?  Probably somewhere after the Renaissance when in the 18th-19th centuries we exiled the gods, but we had nothing left to contemplate but ourselves.

A certain distance has to be between the asker and the thing they are asking about, so when we ask about ourselves, that means there has to be some unnatural divide in us
And then comes Christ to show us salvation, but we might be offended that he just seems to give us a lot of commandments…the beattitudes, deny yourself, love your neighbor….
After all, we might say, I must find out who I am before I can do anything else?
But God would say “must you?”  In the Bible, there is a curious lack of any suggestion that our business is to first find out who we are.

Conclusion: but in doing the things of God, REALLY praying, REALLY serving the poor, REALLY fasting, REALLY being humble I discover my real freedom and personhood not in looking for it but in learning to love God and my neighbor

It is dangerous to preach about yourself on all saints day…but let me just say that very imperfectly it has been THROUGH doing the things I’m asked to do, imperfectly, that I have come to settle in who I am, in a way that the long years of searching have not

Often with Saints, we are drawn to their stories
“What would it look like if I lived like Saint Francis?
Or Therese who died as a teenager?
Or King Louis, or Saint John the Baptist, or Dominic, or the Blessed Mother or St. Joseph…
And those are all good.

But what we must know, in this age where we question our identity and think we have to find ourselves first before we hop on the train with God, is that we won’t find ourselves UNTIL we pick up a shovel, and get to work doing the things God is asking of us, and when we do that, we’ll wake up one day somewhere we never planned being a person we never planned on our own, and could never have known when we were 18 or 50 or 90 and trying to find ourselves
What any person’s life will look like when they begin to follow God … it is anyone’s guess, but you and I will be as varied as St. King Louis of France is from Saint Damien the leper
As different as the bookish and brilliant Thomas Aquinas is from the warrior St. Joan of Arc

Do you want to know who you are? In your baptism, you are a son or daughter of God…now get to work living that…and the question “who am I” will evaporate and never be a concern again.

Monday, October 28, 2019

A supply-side approach to the Eucharistic Crisis

In learning that only 25% of Catholics under 40 believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, most of the discussion has been from the demand side ("What can we do to get people to want/believe in the Real Presence?")

We also need to be looking at it from the supply side.

1) What, as a Church, are we "supplying" around the Real Presence? (read: "How is Mass celebrated?")

2) Among the VASTLY different ways that the Eucharist is "supplied" to people, are some MORE effective in communicating to the "consumer" that Christ is "Really Present"?

3) Can bishops do anything to change the way the Eucharist is "supplied" in their diocese in order to move it towards what imparts to the "consumer" that Christ is truly present, or are they essentially powerless, and thus subjected to the whims of how any particular priest/parish chooses to "supply" the Eucharist?