I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours recently, and a line from Psalm 14 really struck me.
"They never pray to the Lord
See how they tremble with fear
Without cause for fear"
I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours recently, and a line from Psalm 14 really struck me.
"They never pray to the Lord
See how they tremble with fear
Without cause for fear"
One of the 4 Pillar documents of the 2nd Vatican Council, the document governing revisions to the Mass, (Sacrosanctum Conclilium) in paragraph 54 says this: "Steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them."
So here are some of the most common Latin Mass parts:
Mass "Ad Orientem" (The Priest Facing the East) or, as it is typically referred to falsely as "The priest celebrating Mass with his back to the people", is the way 22 of the 23 Catholic Rites celebrate Mass EXCLUSIVELY.
Some in the Latin Church advocate celebrating the Mass "versus populum" or with the priest facing the people.
And some dioceses in the United States have started REQUIRING Mass be celebrated by the priest "facing the people" sighting the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, paragraph 299.
Father Z has written over and over again about how the translation of paragraph 299 of the GIRM, and the subsequent request for clarification sent to Rome on GIRM 299, expressly forbids dioceses from banning Mass celebrated by the priest "With his back to the people"
I quote from some of his article below:
GIRM 299 actually says that what is desirable, when possible, is that the altar be separated from the wall, not that Mass be versus populum.
The GIRM 299 in Latin from the Vatican: "Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit."
The main altar should be built separated from the wall, which is useful wherever it is possible, so that it can be easily walked around and a celebration toward the people can be carried out. (Emphases added)
THAT’s what the Latin really says.
On 25 September 2000 the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments issued a clarification (Prot. No. 2036/00/L) regarding 299 in the Latin GIRM. That clarification, Responsum, says:
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has been asked whether the expression in n. 299 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani constitutes a norm according to which the position of the priest versus absidem [ad orientem] is to be excluded. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, after mature reflection and in light of liturgical precedents, responds: Negatively, and in accordance with the following explanation.
The explanation includes different elements which must be taken into account. First, the word expedit does not constitute a strict obligation but a suggestion that refers to the construction of the altar a pariete sejunctum(detached from the wall). It does not require, for example, that existing altars be pulled away from the wall. The phrase ubi possibile sit (where it is possible) refers to, for example, the topography of the place, the availability of space, the artistic value of the existing altar, the sensibility of the people participating in the celebrations in a particular church, etc.
Expedit refers to a suggestion about the construction of the altar. It is suggested that, where possible (depending on the topography of the sanctuary, etc.) there be an altar that can be used from either side, that can be used for versus populum Masses. It does NOT say that versus populum is preferable."
4th Sunday of Lent – “Light and Darkness of Soul”
A theme that we hear throughout all of the readings for this Sunday is physical blindness, physical sight, spiritual blindness and spiritual sight.
I typically read the readings for the upcoming Sunday on Monday at some point and then see what happens over the week. And so every priest and monk and nun and religious brother and sister around the world promises to pray from this book, which is called the “Liturgy of the Hours” at least 5 times each day throughout the day. The first “Liturgy of the Hours” that most priests and monks and nuns pray is called the “Office of Readings” which consists of 3 Psalms followed by a page from Sacred Scripture and then a page from a saint.
All of this to say that this Wednesday, while praying the Office of Readings, I came across my homily. The reading was from a letter written by Saint Theophilus of Antioch, and I was just like to read a few excerpts from his letter.
“Those who can see with the eyes of their bodies are aware of what is happening in this life on earth. They get to know things that are different from each other. They distinguish light and darkness, ugliness and beauty, elegance and inelegance, proportion and lack of proportion…God is seen by those who have the capacity to see him, provided that they keep the eyes of their mind open. All have eyes, but have some eyes that are shrouded in darkness, unable to see the light of the sun. Because the blind cannot see the sun, it does not follow that the sun does not shine. The blind must trace the cause back to themselves and their eyes. In the same way, you have eyes in your mind that are shrouded in darkness because of your sins and evil deeds.
A person’s soul should be clean, like a mirror reflecting light. No one who has sin within him can see God.”
Let me, Fr. Hollowell, say here that the best way to deal with spiritual blindness is by taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will literally feel a weight lifted off of you, a physical weight, particularly if you have not been for a long time. Not only that, but when you come, the Sacrament of Reconciliation gives you new grace to move forward.
Saint Theophilus of Antioch says later “If you understand this, and live in purity and holiness and justice, you may see God.” About 99.9999% of time, it is not a physical vision, but rather when you pray and quiet yourself, you will experience a calm, quiet peace…which is what God desires for each of us at every moment of our lives.
Jesus tells the woman at the well in today’s Gospel that “the hour is coming when people will worship the Father in Spirit and truth”
Saint John Chrysostom, a saint in the 300’s, (whose relic is on our rerdos back here, which, by the way, these relics were donated by the Hopwood’s to Saint Paul’s. So the first one, as you are looking up here left to right is Saint Basil. The next one is a relic from St. Philip the Apostle. On the other side of the Tabernacle is St. Gregory of Nyssa and then the one on the end is St. John Chrysostom. Relics are meant to hearken back to the days when the first Catholics would have Mass in the catacombs over the dead bodies of the saints. Each Catholic altar also has a relic of a saint in it.
Anyway, St. John Chrysostom said about this line that Jesus speaks to the woman that the hour is coming when people will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, that Jesus is talking about the Catholic Church as being the place where this true worship takes place.
The Catholic Mass has been handed on through 2,000 years
There have been lots of changes through those 2,000 years, but the essence remains unchanged
There are now tens of thousands of denominations, and a lot of those denominations strive to worship more spontaneously than the Catholic Mass, but even then, there is a form to their spontaneous-ness. No denomination would say that complete and utter chaos is worship, so various denominations might not be aware of the form their worship takes, but there is always some form or another to any worship.
So the Catholic Mass has a form that has been preserved for 2,000 years. At this and every Mass we understand ourselves to be joining something that is already going on. Jesus appears on this altar when the words of consecration are prayed over bread and wine. Heaven, Calvary and this Church are intermingled in a glorious way.
At this and every Mass, literally the hour has come where we are worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth.
2nd Sunday of Lent, 2023 “Don’t Chase Mountaintop Experiences”
It is normal, on a human level, to crave mountain top experiences where we see Jesus in all His glory
But the vast majority of the time…when we pray we don’t feel anything, at least in the way most of us expect to “FEEL” prayer
Peter James and John in today’s Gospel see the most amazing sight. They see Jesus Transfigured, shining and golden and speaking with Moses and Elijah and God the Father tells them “this is my Beloved Son, listen to him.”
And yet, 40 days later, when soldiers come to arrest Jesus in the garden, all of the Apostles, including Peter, James and John flee. Peter, later that same night, denies 3 times that he know Jesus.
What this shows is that mountain experiences do not last…ever…on this side of Heaven. If they ever lasted on this side of Heaven, Peter, James, and John would not have abandon Jesus.
What DOES last?…a prayer life that involves listening to the quiet whisperings and nudgeings that God is putting on your heart.
There is no way around it…day in and day out setting time aside for prayer to grow in your relationship with Jesus. Find whatever works for you to get to a place of silent prayer, listening for the quiet and calm voice of God
If you are moving from one mountain top experience to the next, and don’t recognize Jesus at any other time, you will, when the going gets tough, abandon Jesus.
The Litany of Humility – Homily for the First Sunday of Lent 2023
In our first reading today, we see Satan tempting our first parents in the Garden of Eden, and he is successful in his temptation. We see Satan tempting Jesus in our Gospel today, and Jesus thwarts Satan’s pride by pride’s opposite virtue, which is humility.
And the Catholic Church has a “Litany of Humility” which was composed by Cardinal Merry del Val in the early 1900’s and it is this:
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, O Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
Charity is patient, is kind; charity does not envy, is not pretentious, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, is not self-seeking, is not provoked; thinks no evil, does not rejoice over wickedness, but rejoices with the truth, bears with all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
To have Charity is to love God above all things for Himself and be ready to renounce all created things rather than offend Him by serious sin. ( Matt. 22:36-40)
"What credit is there for you if you are patient when you are beaten for doing what is wrong?
But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is right, this is a grace before God."
1 Peter 2:20
The God of the Old Testament is some times thought of wrongly as an angry God. But in light of that, in case there is any doubt in anyone’s mind here today, this Ash Wednesday I would like to go through a list of sins that Saint Paul, Jesus, and Saint John mention in the NEW TESTAMENT that keep one from Heaven.
Saint Paul says in First Corinthians chapter 6 that “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”
Saint Paul tells the Galatians that “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Saint Paul tells the Ephesians in chapter 5: “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, Nor should there be obscenity…of this you can be sure: No sexually immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
And Saint John relates in Revelation “Outside of Heaven are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
In Matthew, chapter 25 Jesus says “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
I, Fr. Hollowell, have done lots of things in those lists. But here is the thing…I have confessed them all in the Sacrament of Confession, and now God no longer holds them against me.
The ashes you receive on your forehead today are a reminder of your sins. The ashes can be washed off. But only in the Sacrament of Reconciliation can you actually be cleansed from sexual immorality, adultery, homosexual sex, thievery, drunkenness, slander, impurity, witchcraft, hatred, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, envy, orgies, murder, liars, and those that do not recognize Jesus in the poor.
Jesus looks at you with love today, and asks you to leave your sins behind and sin no more. Let us heed His call.
I will be in the confessional until everyone who wants to go to confession today has had that opportunity.
Today, the Church honors Saint Peter Damien, who is a doctor of the Church. As with most saints, he preferred to live a life of prayer and solitude in a monastery, but the Catholic Church had other intentions for him.
His most famous work is this book, “The Book of Gomorrah” which is all about the sexual sins of priests against children. One passage in the book says this “A cleric or monk who persecutes adolescents or children, or who is caught in a kiss or other occasion of indecency, should be publicly beaten and lose his tonsure, and having been disgracefully shaved, his face is to be smeared with spittle, and he is to be bound in iron chains, worn down with six months of imprisonment, and three days every week to fast on barley bread until sundown. After this, spending his time separated in his room for another six months in the custody of a spiritual senior, he should be intent upon the work of his hands and on prayer, subject to vigils and prayers, and he should always walk under the guard of two spiritual brothers, never again soliciting sexual intercourse from youth by perverse speech or counsel.”
Another quote from a chapter titled “On rectors of the Church who are soiled with their spiritual children", Saint Peter Damien says this: “O unheard of crime! O offense to be mourned with a whole fountain of tears! If they who consent to those who do these things are to be struck with death, what can be conceived of as a worthy punishment for those who commit these evils, which are punishable by eternal damnation, with their spiritual children?”
I recently read an article on a fairly traditional Catholic website, and the thesis of the article was that the reforms made in 2002 have largely worked, and the author compared the Catholic abuse numbers to that of the Chicago Public School system. I can’t even imagine trying to compare the 2 situations. First of all, does the author not know how much more scandalous it is for a Catholic priest to abuse a child than for a public school teacher? Also, does the author not know that while school children tend to report abuse pretty quickly, it takes a child raped or molested by a priest on average about 30 years to come to grips with what has happened to them, if they haven’t already killed themselves out of shame?
As we hear in our Gospel today, Jesus, “Taking a child, placed the child in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me."
For this Lent, I will be offering up all of my sufferings for the victims of Catholic Clergy sexual assault, Catholic clergy sexual grooming, and Catholic clergy sexual harassment, that the living will find justice today, and those who are deceased, even by suicide, might one day be allowed into the eternal bless of Heaven.
Saint Peter Damien, please pray for all the victims throughout the 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church, and also please pray that any Catholic cleric who has harmed a child or any other person, in any way with regards to human sexuality, would immediately step away from the priesthood, and live a life of profound penance.
“Be Perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect”
A lot of us hear that and think that Jesus does not REALLY mean we should be perfect…but Jesus does want us to be perfect moving forward…and we stand on the cusp of a great season to help us grow in perfection…
Lent start this Wednesday with Ash Wednesday Masses and Liturgy of the Word services with ashes. The season of Lent provides three ways we can grow closer to perfection
Prayer. What are we adding to our prayer life every day this lent? Maybe it is a daily rosary if you haven’t been praying that, maybe it is the daily Mass readings if you haven’t been doing that. Also on the topic of prayer just know that one of the most confessed sins is distraction in prayer and distraction at Mass. Please know that it is NOT a sin to be distracted in prayer/Mass unless you are WILLING and ACTIVELY CHOOSING to be distracted.
Fasting is for Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59, excluding anyone who is sick, or suffers from Diabetes, nor are pregnant nor nursing mothers required to fast. The 2 days of Fasting in the Catholic Church are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is one meal and 2 smaller meals that, added together, do not equal a meal. Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all other Fridays during Lent we should also not eat meat if we are 14 years or older. All those are the regulations and laws with Fasting, but we should also be fasting throughout Lent from something every day. Maybe it is desserts and/or TV and/or social media…
Which leads into the third way we grow in perfection, and that is through giving alms to the poor. In America, we are so tremendously blessed with wealth…are we sharing it with those around us??? Also, I think another import aspect to almsgiving is one that Pope Francis has made a central theme of his pontificate – to encounter the poor directly…to not just give them a handout but to have a conversation with them…to honor their human dignity.
Let us use this upcoming season of Lent to grow more perfect, day by day, and thus heed Jesus’s call in today’s Gospel to become perfect!
“The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not. Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen.”
Sometimes, the Catechism can provide an entire homily, and so I would like to use the Catechism today, because the Catechism’s section on envy is beautiful, even though it likely disturbs us in some ways.
2538 The tenth commandment requires that envy be banished from the human heart.
Envy can lead to the worst crimes. (And the footnote here is to this passage from Genesis)
The Catechism continues: "Through the devil's envy death entered the world"
The Catechism here quotes from a sermon by Saint John Chrysostom, whose relic we have on our rerdos here at Saint Paul’s:
Saint John Chrysostom says “We fight one another, and envy arms us against one another. . . . If everyone strives to unsettle the Body of Christ, where shall we end up? We are engaged in making Christ's Body a corpse. . . . We declare ourselves members of one and the same organism, yet we devour one another like beasts."
The Catechism continues, saying “Envy is a capital sin. It refers to the sadness at the sight of another's goods”
Here we can pause and reflect “am I sad at the success of a fellow Catholic?”
The Catechism continues: “When envy causes a human person to wishes grave harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin:
Here the Catechism quotes St. Augustine, who saw envy as "the diabolical sin."... "From envy are born hatred, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbor, and displeasure caused by his prosperity."
2540 Envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity; the baptized person should struggle against it by exercising good will. Envy often comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility:
And here the Catechism quotes from another sermon by St. John Chrysostom:
"Would you like to see God glorified by you? Then rejoice in your brother's progress and you will immediately give glory to God. Because his servant could conquer envy by rejoicing in the merits of others, God will be praised."
“Upping the Bar” – Homily for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023
In our Gospel today, Jesus says I have come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, and so it is important to understand the various types of laws that we find in the Old Testament. Some laws in the Old Testament were CULTURAL laws – laws to help the Israelites form a culture of their own…so we find laws like “you shall not eat shell fish” and “garments must be made of one color”…those laws obviously do not apply to us anymore. The 2nd type of laws that we find in the Old Testament are LITURGICAL laws… “you shall make the Tabernacle this way” and “here are the specific instructions for the altar” and “here’s how many candles you should have” and all of these liturgical laws are fulfilled in the Catholic Church…our parish Church buildings are laid out very similarly to the Liturgical laws laid down first in the Old Testament.
The third type of law, which Jesus mentions in today’s Gospel, are the MORAL laws of the Old Testament. These are the laws that Jesus says He has not come to abolish but to actually raise the bar.
The first example from today’s Gospel is when Jesus says "You have heard that it was said You shall not kill; But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment”. You shall not kill is the 5th commandment, and so Jesus says not only shall you not kill, but you should forgive your family members. A lot of us here today do have family members we don’t like (or worse)…Jesus is saying we need to forgive those family members for OUR sake…we don’t necessarily need to let them back into our lives but we need to forgive from our side…
A second thing that Jesus says in today’s Gosepl: "You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” More and more Catholics are addicted to pornography. If that is you, there is a website in our bulleting about a free video resource put together by former porn addicts and approved by the Catholic Church. To buy the videos is about $400, but you can watch them online for free.
"It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Civil divorce is not a sin, and separating from a spouse is not a sin. It is a sin for Catholics who were married in the Catholic Church to separate from a spouse, and, while the former spouse is still living, marry someone else. I have preached on this recently, and have been blessed to have lots of weddings at both parishes over the last several months, including one this afternoon here at St. Paul’s. If you have ANY questions about marriages, I am happy to sit down and talk with you. The Catholic Church bends over backwards to try and help Catholics fit through this window that Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel…if I can help in any way, please schedule a meeting with me.
A final instance from today’s Gospel…Jesus said "Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, Do not take a false oath, But I say to you, do not swear at all; Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one." I have also preached on this recently as well. Do we tell lies? Some of us may be tempted to think that there are noble lies or white lies, but there is no middle ground. There is THE Truth, that does not changed based on which culture one finds themselves living in, and there is THE Truth that does not change based on circumstances.
All of these instances where Jesus raises the bar of the MORAL laws in the Old Testament Jesus is also giving us the strength, through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, to clear that higher bar. Let us resolve to cooperate more freely with the Grace that Christ is pouring out on us to clear that higher bar, finding in that striving not just a future bliss in Heaven, but also greater freedom and joy while still on Earth!
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023 – “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket”
“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a bushel basket; but rather it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.”
I originally preached that I was healed in Lourdes to both of my parishes the 2nd weekend of October of 2022. But some people still have questions and so I would like to provide a bit more detail.
I received my initial diagnosis up at the Mayo Clinic on February 11th, 2020 (The Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes) and got to have Mass that night in the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes which is attached to the Mayo Clinic.
Fastforward to March of 2022. My MRI showed that the tumor was starting to grow back and that there was also now a tumor on my pituitary gland.
Although I was perfectly happy to die and offer my life up for the victims of clergy abuse, I thought that since I received my diagnosis on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes and had Mass that night in the chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes, that I should make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France and if I was healed there, it might bring some fallen away Catholics back to the Catholic Church.
So I went to Lourdes this past June and was healed there. It took me a while to realize I was healed because there is no pain associated with a brain tumor. I have been in touch with the medical examiner at Lourdes, and they have a very extensive process that they go through in order to verify miracles.
Although I have been off social media for the past 2 years, I was still receiving emails from victims wondering about my medical progress so I made a video this past Monday to let victims know that I had been healed at Lourdes.
Jesus says in our Gospel today that no one lights a lamp and then places it under a basket, rather it is placed on a stand for all to see.
And here is the major point…we ALL…each one of us…has an infinitely better message than a healing…we have our Catholic Faith, we have the Sacraments of the Church that give us an infinite amount of grace if we are open to it, and the primary Sacrament that sustains the Church and holds the Church together, we have Jesus Christ becoming truly present to us in his Body, Blood, Soul, and in His Divinity at every Mass.
Are we willing to witness to that fact in a charitable and attractive way? A question that each one of us needs to decide is “do I want to do whatever I can to get the word out that Jesus is alive and well in the Catholic Church”…or are we content to bury our light under a basket?
I pray that each one of us, in our own way, will do whatever we can, in the ways that we feel we are being nudged in prayer to do, to testify to the power of Jesus Christ alive in His Catholic Church today.
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time – “They will speak no lies”
The prophet Zephaniah in our first reading, speaking on behalf of God, says: “But I will leave as a remnant a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD: and this remnant shall speak no lies”
Our American society rests on the idea that there is “truth” that does not change based on the culture or circumstances. Every person who testifies in court promises to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
In order for America to flourish, we need to return to believing in a Truth that does not change based on the culture, and a Truth that does not change based on circumstances.
At a sidebar to the trial of Jesus, Jesus claims to be the truth, and Pontius Pilate asks in a scoffing way “what is truth?” And there really is no middle ground, either there is Truth that transcends cultures and circumstances, or there isn’t.
Our schools, our universities and the media feed all of us a lot of lies. May we have the courage to point out to others the lies that are being pushed on all of us.
Again, our first reading promises that there will be a remnant who will not tell lies. Let us all be that remnant who commit to saying only true things, and not speaking anything, nor teaching anything that is a lie.
Fishers of Men – Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023
In our Gospel today we see Jesus calling 4 fishermen, while they are fishing, to come and follow Him. They leave their nets immediately and follow him and Jesus promises that from now on they will be fishers of men and women.
I would venture to say that in America today, no fallen away Catholic nor non-Catholic would feel comfortable approaching a Catholic priest as their first point of contact with the Catholic Church. But many fallen away Catholics and non-Catholics do feel comfortable approaching you who are here today.
Just a couple of stories to illustrate this
First of all, a parishioner from Annunciation let me know this week that her hair dresser has been asking her questions about the Catholic Church, and the hair dresser asked this parishioner if the parishioner could get her a Catholic Bible. This parishioner approached me about this, I was able to get the parishioner a Catholic Bible to give to her hair dresser. The likelihood that the hairdresser would have approached a Catholic Priest for a Catholic Bible is almost zero.
Another example is just today I was talking with a Saint Paul’s Parishioner, and she was saying that her physical therapist told her that she has come to a couple of Masses. The Saint Paul’s Parishioner said if you ever want to come to Mass with me, just let me know, and the physical therapist said thank you.
And then one final example, I was listening to Catholic Radio Saturday morning, and this formerly fallen away Catholic was being interviewed, and she shared that she had had divorces and abortions, and felt like God hated her, but someone invited her to Mass, and she heard something at that Mass that totally changed the trajectory of her life, and this person now works at a Catholic parish helping other couples through the annulment process.
There are at least 5 people who know that you are Catholic…and it may be up to you to say something to them encouraging that will start the process of them coming home to the Catholic Church. Let us all pray for those 5 people tonight who we are called to go fish for and bring them home to Jesus and His Church!
"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
Homily for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A, 2023
In our Gospel today we hear St. John the Baptist say, while pointing to Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” And that is the exact same thing every Catholic priest (or bishop) says at every Mass when they hold up the Host and chalice…”Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…”
And so this forces a decision for every Catholic, including myself, and indeed every person around the world… do I really believe that bread and wine, after the priest or bishop prays the words of consecration becomes the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus…do we really believe the priest or bishop when they say “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”
There really is not a middle way…The Catholic Church is making a Truth claim…it either IS the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus or it is not…There is not a half way “Maybe”.
And if it is a yes, then I need to orient my entire life around that reality.
But if it is not the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus than I need to run as far away from the Catholic Church!
If we do believe that Jesus becomes present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at this and every Mass…let us all together orient our entire lives around the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.