Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Ash Wednesday 2024

 2 Things for Ash Wednesday


1) Give up something that you never want to go back to.  10 years ago, I gave up TV for Lent and on Easter I started watching TV again.  The next year, I gave up TV for Lent, and after Lent I was hardly watching it, but by the time Lent rolled around again, I was back watching an hour a day.  I gave up TV for a third lent...and now, for the last 4 years or so, I don't even miss TV.  


2) Pick at least one partner who will hold you accountable.  I have always had a gym membership, and I have noticed that the gym crowd swells on January 2nd from all of the people who make New Year's resolutions, but a week later it is always back to the regulars.  But I have also noticed another thing...the aerobics classes and exercise classes that meet every week...they keep coming after January 7th and come all year...why...because there is a community and there is accountability..."where's Jan...oh she is on vacation in Florida...she'll be back next week"  Maybe you are a part of a Bible study or a small group...let them know what you are doing and meet weekly to pray and talk about how you are doing with your Lenten resolutions.



Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Best Catholic Novels

There are a lot of great Catholic novels out there.  Here are my top recommendations:


"Lord of the Rings" and the "Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

“Toward the Gleam” by T.M. Doran…a must for any Tolkien Fan!  https://ignatius.com/toward-the-gleam-toglh/

 

“Atticus” by Ron Hansen…written by a Catholic Deacon, one of the best novels I have ever read https://www.amazon.com/Atticus-Novel-Ron-Hansen/dp/0060927860

 

A Trilogy by Brian Gail

"Fatherless" https://cedarhouse.co/fatherless/

"Motherless" https://cedarhouse.co/motherless/

"Childless" https://cedarhouse.co/childless/

 

The following are all written by Michael O’Brien:

"Father Elijah" https://ignatius.com/father-elijah-fep/

 

"A Father’s Tale" https://ignatius.com/the-fathers-tale-ftp/

 

A Trilogy by Michael O’Brien

"Strangers and Sojourners" https://ignatius.com/strangers-and-sojourners-sasp/

"Eclipse of the Sun" https://ignatius.com/eclipse-of-the-sun-esunp/

"Plague Journal" https://ignatius.com/plague-journal-pjp/

 

 

"A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens https://ignatius.com/a-tale-of-two-cities-7ttcp/

 

"Kristen Lavransdatter" by Sigrid Undset https://ignatius.com/kristin-lavransdatter-klp/

 

"The Death of a Pope" by Piers Paul Read https://ignatius.com/the-death-of-a-pope-doph/

 

These final two were authored by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson:

"Come Rack, Come Rope" https://tanbooks.com/products/books/come-rack-come-rope-ebook/?h_campaign_id=436318446&bng_id=1363396189114446&h_ad_id=85212676805031

 

"Lord of the World" https://tanbooks.com/products/books/lord-of-the-world/

Monday, January 29, 2024

Deaconesses?

Currently in Canon Law, Canon 1370 says this:

"3. Both a person who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive the sacred order, incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See"


What that means is that no priest can absolve any person who attempts to ordain a woman to the diaconate, nor can any priest absolve the woman who is "ordained".  Instead, the priest who hears this in the confessional has to write to Rome in order to get permission to absolve the "ordainer" and/or the woman "ordained".


There has been some talk over the last 50 years about ordaining women as deacons.  My question is this: 


Can something that is currently a crime in the Catholic Church that a priest cannot grant absolution for suddenly be reversed and become Catholic teaching?  




Sunday, January 28, 2024

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2023 "If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts!"

 

“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts!”

 On the value of a holy hour

The first time I ever saw Eucharistic Adoration when I was a seminarian at St. Meinrad, and I instantly fell in love with it…and I can look back over time and see how the holy hours have made me an infinitely better person…I still have a long way to go but they have me infinitely better.

As Father Patrick Hyde talked about when he came to Dearborn County in November… just as nuclear radiation in a negative way reorients every atom of our being without us feeling the effects at first, being in the Presence of Jesus exposed in a monstrance reorients every fiber of our body and soul and over time changes us more and more for the better.

 

The average American spends two thirds of their waking hours staring at glass screens whether it is smart phones, tablets, laptops or television sets…and I just want to say that the only glass screen that will bring us any lasting peace is staring at the glass screen of a monstrance with Jesus’ Real Presence right behind it.

 

Starting on Ash Wednesday, there will be a new perpetual adoration chapel at St. Mary’s in Aurora…and we also be making an appeal to every parishioner next weekend to fill out a card to sign up for at least one hour each week at the adoration chapel.

 

I was listening to Catholic Radio on the way to Mass this morning here at St. Mary’s and a gentleman was recounting how he was baptized a Catholic at a young age, and fell away from the Catholic Faith…made millions of dollars…but was also addicted to alcohol…and when he hit rock bottom he went to the Catholic Church which was locked.  He said he walked around the corner, and there was what he would later learn is a perpetual adoration chapel.  He said he slept in the room, and when he woke up, he felt such a calm sense of peace, and that time in the adoration chapel put him back on the right course.

 

Next weekend after all the Masses, we will be asking you to sign up for an hour.  I love the psalm from today for many reasons, and it is “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts..” so Fr. Meyer and I just ask that you spend this coming week asking Jesus to show you what He wants from you in regard to an hour of adoration. 

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Homily for Epiphany 2023

 

Homily for the Epiphany, 2023

“And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.”

 

In this action of the Magi, returning to their country by another way, many Church Fathers and Saints have seen this as a metaphor for what happens when EACH of us encounters Christ…we take a new path after encountering Christ.  And we all encounter Jesus Christ every time we come to Mass!

 

We live in a culture that is saturated with gossip and slander…there are gossip tv shows, gossip magazines, gossip websites, gossip newspapers and even entire cable channels devoted 24 hours a day to celebrity gossip and slander.

 

All the social media platforms reward you for gossiping and slandering other people.

I used to gossip all the time…I would gossip and slander other people from sun up to sun down.  But I bought an audio version of the New Testament about 5 years ago, and listening to it over and over again, I was struck particularly by how so many sins committed with our speech, if left unconfessed, the New Testament authors say those sins will keep us out of Heaven.

Saint Paul says in First Corinthians chapter 6 That slanderers will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 

 

Saint Paul tells the Galatians that “The acts of the flesh are obvious: discord, fits of rage, dissensions…I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Book of Proverbs talks over and over again about how those who spread gossip are destined for calamity

 

Jesus says what goes into the mouth does not defile a person, but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles them.

 

Even spreading something we KNOW to be true about another person is a sin if it paints that person in a bad light…that sin is the sin of detraction.  Of course we need to tell the proper authorities if we see something happen that is a crime, but detraction is along the lines of “You won’t believe what I saw Lysander do this morning…”

 

I have two things to be particularly in rooting out the sins of gossip and slander from my life:

1 Monthly confession

2 Now, any time I am tempted to gossip or slander someone, I stop and pray a Hail Mary for that person in my head

 

The Catechism says “everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect.”

 

In Ephesians 4 St. Paul says that we should “say only the good things that people need to hear, things that will really help them

I used to come to my parents, and spend the first of couple of minutes “venting” to them about all the “problems” but I also realized about 5 years ago that “venting”

1 Is not “saying only the good things that people need to hear, things that will really help them”

2 Does not do any good for my family and friends, and wastes their time

 

Let us resolve to totally change our course, like the Magi to take a new road home, because our speech can often get us in trouble, and sins of gossip and slander and detraction, if left unconfessed, will keep us out of Heaven.

 

Let us instead commit to the new road home of saying only the good things that people need to hear

Thursday, January 4, 2024

A Homily from then-Cardinal Ratzinger 40 years before his death

 This is an excerpt from a homily Cardinal Ratzinger gave about 40 years before he died on December 31st, 2022:


"This year is ending.  This means, as always, that we spend a few minutes in reflection.  We draw up balance-sheets and make an effort to anticipate what the future may bring.  For a moment we become conscious of the strange thing called "time," which otherwise we simply use without thinking about it.  We feel both the melancholy and the consolation of our own transiency.  Much that caused us distress, much that weighed us down and seemed to make progress impossible, has now passed and become quite unimportant.  As we look back, difficult days are transfigured in memory, and the now almost forgotten distress leaves us more peaceful and confident, more composed in the face of present treats, for these too will pass.  The consolation of transiency: Nothing lasts, no matter how important it claims to be.  But this compromise, also has its discouraging and saddening aspect.  nothing lasts, and therefore along with the old year not only difficulties but mush that is beautiful has passed away, and the more we move beyond the midpoint of our lives, the more poignantly we feel this change of what was once future and then present into something past.  We cannot say to any moment: "Stay a while! you are so lovely!"  Anything that is within time comes and then passes away."

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The final battle will be over marriage and the family

 

“The final battle will be over Marriage and the Family”

 

One of the 3 children who were graced with visions at Fatima in 1917 was Lucia dos Santos.  Our Blessed Mother asked the 3 children in 1917 to let everyone know that there would be a great miracle, and when that day and time arrived, the Sun darted all over the sky for several minutes, and was witnessed by over 70,000 people, some were atheist and non-Catholic newspaper reporters and photographers who witnessed the Sun moving all over the sky.  Lucy has since died, and Pope Francis several years ago made her a venerable, putting her on the path to Sainthood.

 

Lucy said, before she died, “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about Marriage and the Family. Don't be afraid because whoever works for the sanctity of Marriage and the Family will always be fought against and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue.”

 

We have seen marriage and the family in the United States under assault for at least the last 100 years, and more recently marriage and the family have been under attack even from WITHIN some corners of the Catholic Church.

And so I just want to say tonight that those who are in a marriage recognized by the Catholic Church, and who are open to life…THANK YOU! 

As a priest, just know that I am SO inspired by all of you that are living out your marriage as the calendars prepares to turn to 2024…I know it is not easy but marriages and families that are pursuing holiness INSPIRE me and every other priest.

We have some great readings this weekend about marriage…about wives being submissive to their husbands and about husbands loving their wives as Christ loves the Church…I think it is important to recognize that Jesus says in another Gospel passage, “The rulers of the gentiles LORD it over them, but among you it shall not be so.  Whoever among you wishes to be great will become the SERVANT of all…”  True authority comes not from exerting power over another, but from serving everyone.”

 

Again, thank you to all the families in this parish trying to make it work…may the Holy Family intercede for all of us today and every day!

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Christmas 2023

 A Christmas Letter from Jesus

My Friends,

Thank you for coming and celebrating my birthday tonight (today).  I, like you, enjoy celebrating, and what we celebrate tonight is cause for much celebration because 2000 years ago, when I was born, people first began to realize that they were no longer in darkness, but that the light was attainable again.  People began to realize that I had opened a way for them not just back into the Garden of Paradise, but the infinitely greater gift of the opportunity to dwell in and with God!  As my beloved friend and disciple writes in his letter that you just heard:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light!

Although this is cause for much celebration, I want to write to you about something.  I am human, like you, and so I recognize that for a lot of you, Christmas is a time of pain.  Many of you have been blessed growing up with wonderful Christmas memories.  Let’s pause there and just smile thinking about those celebrations of the past.  Know that in those past celebrations I was there with you, in the midst of your celebrations, and your joy brought great joy to me. 

But on this side of Heaven, as we know, things can change.  A lot of you are sitting here at this Mass with a sadness because, if it were up to you, a certain person or a group of people would still be with you tonight (Today).   Through the years, this congregation has lost brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons and daughters.  Some of you are sad tonight (today) because you are separated from those who are still living, but are not able to make it home for Christmas.  Either way, whatever the cause of the separation, there is no pain like the separation of people who love each other.  I want to say to you tonight (Today) that I walk with you in your sorrow.  I would not say to you, “move on” “forget”, or “time heals all wounds” – I made you and I love you and like Job’s friends I sit with you in the midst of your sadness. 

I’ve heard the expression “I’m just trying to make it through Christmas”.  For many of you, Christmas is a more intense reminder of who is NOT here.  Precisely because past Christmasses with loved ones and family were so joyous, and were so awesome, Christmas becomes not a time for celebration but a time for being confronted by the grief and depression brought on by recalling the ghosts of Christmases past.

As I said earlier, I would not tell you to stop being sad, because I share your sadness.  I made you from before time began.  I am not a distant God who rules and commands from afar.  I made you because I love you.  And I am a human person too.  You may recall my reaction when I received word that my good friend Lazarus had died.  Again, as my friend and Apostle John wrote: “He wept”

I would like to issue an invitation to you – I want to invite you into the joy of THIS Christmas.  I was with you in the past, but I am with you right now in this moment too.  The first Christmas turned on a water faucet that is impossible to shut off.  The water flows now continuously, and that water is my presence among you.  I am flowing forth within all those who love me, bubbling up like a living stream overflowing, and so I am constantly “being born” and coming forth in this moment, in new ways

I loved you then, I love you now, and I will love you for all time.  So let Heaven and Nature sing, let Heaven and nature sing because the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

Love,
Jesus

Friday, December 22, 2023

O King of the Nations

 

“O King of the nations, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.”

Homily for Friday, December 22nd

 

Our Alleluia verse today is “O king of the nations, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust”

It is always a temptation to think the Christ is not in charge, and is not in control

But the Catholic Church has always taught that NOT ONLY is Jesus Christ the king of Heaven, but Jesus Christ is also the King of the Earth, right now, King of our Country, King of Indiana, King of the World.  In fact, we just celebrated several weeks ago the great solemnity of Jesus Christ, the king of the universe.

And one of the main teachings of the Catholic Church is that a key way that we see how Christ is King in the civil realm is through the institution of Marriage. 

And Jesus Christ, as King of the Earth, does not just care about marriage within the Catholic Church, but Jesus cares about every marriage period.  Jesus and the Catholic Church even recognize a man and woman who are both unbaptized and get married at the courthouse as a valid marriage.

So, just to reiterate, Jesus and the Catholic Church have ALWAYS understood marriage to be of central importance to any society.

In fact, there was a document “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons” issued by the Vatican several years ago that states: “If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good. By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties.”

Of course we can reject Jesus Christ the King’s authority over us, but there is a parable in Luke’s Gospel about a king who goes on a journey away from his kingdom, but remains King.  When the King returns, he says this: Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me Luke (19:27)

 

May we accept Jesus Christ’s kingship over our land, our lives, our families and our Church, so that when Christ returns completely and openly, we may hear him say well done, my friend, enter the Kingdom I have prepared for you from the foundation of the world!


Thursday, December 21, 2023

December 21st "Hark, my lover, here he comes"

 

“Hark, my lover – here he comes, springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills”

Homily for Thursday, December 21st 2023

 

It is so providential that we have this reading today from the Song of Songs!  There is a saying in our wider culture that “Love is Love”.  But we say in English “I love Doritos” and also “I love my spouse”…and clearly those loves are not the same thing.

 

In Hebrew, there are SEVEN different words for “Love” and in Greek there are FOUR different words for “Love”. 

 

There is so much confusion today about love and marriage…even within the Catholic Church…

 

One of the main things that distinguishes Human Persons from all the other animals is our ability to experience ATTRACTION and yet NOT ACT ON THE ATTRACTIONS that we experience!

 

Whether we are married in a valid marriage recognized by the Catholic Church, a single Catholic, a priest or a religious brother or sister, we all experience attractions of a sexual nature, but we ALL have ALL the Graces that we need to not ACT on those attractions.

 

Also, the Bible is FULL of teachings about how married chaste love between two spouses is a direct image of how God loves the Church, and also how God loves each of us.

 

Anything that would distort an image of how God loves us is an abomination in the technical sense, and sterile sexual activity is one of the sins that cries out for vengeance to Heaven.

 

I have a TREMENDOUS respect for people who experience same sex attraction, and yet are trying to live chastely…I raised over 90,000 dollars 10 years ago to make a documentary on some of those people who experience same sex attraction and none the less love being Catholic and were willing to appear on camera.  The documentary is called “The Third Way” and I am proud to say that it has been viewed millions of times.  It is for free on YouTube and Vimeo.  Click HERE to view "The Third Way"

 

All of us are called to chastity... to direct our sexual attractions in the proper direction, thus all imaging, in our various states in life, the perfect Love that God has for us.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The Catholic Faith Can be Grasped by Children

 

Confusion in the Church?

Homily for Tuesday, December 19th 2023

 

Advent is a special time for us to, among other things, focus on our Blessed Mother.

One of the titles of Our Blessed Mother is “Mother of the Church”, and for the last year or so I have been asking “Mary the Mother of the Church” to intercede for us at the end of my daily rosary.

There is a lot of confusion in the Church in our own day.  But confusion in the Catholic Church is nothing new.  In 325, The Council of Nicaea settled the Arian controversy definitively, but 70 years later, in 395, St. John Henry Newman, who wrote a wonderful book on the history of the Arian Controversy, found that number of bishops who were following the heresy of Arianism had GROWN to 95%

 

There was a bishop fighting the Arian Heresy long after the Council of Nicaea, and his name is St. Athanasius…there is a saying about St. Athanasius “Athanasius against the World” because he was one of only a few bishops who was teaching true Catholic teaching in the late 300’s…and he was sent into exile 5 times.

 

Confusion from authorities in the Catholic Church has been a story since the 300’s.  It is nothing new.

 

The Catholic teaching, Jesus said, can be understood by children.  Be wary of anyone who muddies the waters with an excess of words.  Jesus also said that anyone who causes a child to stumble, it would be better for that person to be drowned in the sea with a millstone tied around their neck.

 

May Our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary, under the title of “Mother of Church”, intercede for us today and always!

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent 2023

Rejoice?  Let nothing steal your joy!!!

 

Today we celebrate “Rejoice” Sunday…"Rejoice" is the first word of our entrance antiphon, and we hear about the need to rejoice in both the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading, and the first 2 words from our 2nd reading are St. Paul’s telling the Thessalonians to “Rejoice always”

 

First of all, joy is filtered through each of our different personalities, it does not look the same in every human person, but joy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

There are lots of things “of the world” that are constantly trying to steal our joy.  I would just like to talk about the main one that I have seen robbing my joy in my life…smartphones/social media/tv

 

I had over 100,000 followers on social media, but I recognized around the time I stepped away for chemo that it was all too much, and all of it was turning me into a person I did not like.

 

I am a huge J.R.R. Tolkien fan, and his main works is “The Lord of the Rings”.  The Devil character has these “seeing stones” scattered around the world, about 8 of them, and the Devil character is not allowed to show anything that isn’t true, but he shows true things in such a way to get people to despair…the Devil character intentionally withholds the fuller picture…

 

And that is just the perfect analogy for what our smart phones/social media and televisions do…they show true things, but often in such a way as to get us to not rejoice but rather to fall into despair.

 

I got rid of my smartphone and got off all social media and I don’t watch any television anymore.  We have a tv in the rectory, but it doesn’t have any channels and we have it just to watch Lord of the Rings😊

 

I have become infinitely more full of joy since getting rid of my smartphone, and social media and tv.

 

This is the season where young people ask for smartphones…I can’t recommend a lightphone enough.  (click here to learn more)  It has texting, phone calls, and driving directions…it would make the perfect gift for any child or teenager (or adult)

 

Let us, during this Mass, ask the Lord to show us anything in our lives that is robbing us of our joy, and let us quickly remove those things from our life!


Tuesday, December 5, 2023

"Silence and Presence" Homily for the First Sunday of Advent 2023

 

Homily on Silence December 2 and 3 2023

 

Jesus says in our short Gospel, three different times, that we should Watch!

What better way to “watch” than to sit in silence for a few minutes in adoration of Jesus truly among us in the Eucharist.

That is what we are going to be doing at the end of today’s Mass – just a few minutes of silence.

One of the best books I have ever read is titled “The Power of Silence” by Cardinal Robert Sarah, and the subtitle is “The Dictatorship of Noise” and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

And I would just like to share a few amazing quotes from it

First of all, Cardinal Sarah teaches “Silence is not an absence…on the contrary it is the manifestation of a presence.”

Last night, when we ended Mass with a few minutes of silent adoration at St. Lawrence, you could have heard a pin drop but it was also really clear that the Holy Spirit was there in our midst…

 

Secondly, a question I get a lot is “Father, is it a sin to get distracted in prayer and is it a sin to get distracted at Mass?”  And so I am happy to report that the Catechism says it is in no way a sin to get distracted…it says all that is necessary when you find yourself distracted at Mass and prayer is to just make a quick prayer “Jesus, I was distracted…I know it is not a sin, help me to refocus on you!”

Cardinal Sarah also shares a beautiful way to move forward from distractions, and he talks about how we get all these things thrown at us when we try to be silent, but he says during prayer time it is absolutely necessary to not to listen or engage with them, and that those temptations and distractions come to us, but they are not FROM us…

 

Finally, Cardinal Sarah says this “We are bombarded by noise and noise is often a deceptive and addictive tranquilizer…noise stubbornly hates silence, and our culture detests the things that silence brings us to…encounter, wonder, and kneeling before God”

 

I look forward to ending Mass this morning with a few minutes of silent adoration kneeling before God!

Monday, November 20, 2023

"Advent Adoration" Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023

 

“Advent Adoration” Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023

 

I returned this morning from the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, and it was a great experience!  Fr. Meyer and I have always prioritized our young people having experiences where they are connected to the larger Catholic Church, and this year there were over 12,000 people who attended NCYC!

 

The morning and evening sessions took place in Lucas Oil Stadium, while the break out sessions took place in the Convention Center across the street from Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

On Saturday night, during dinner, we asked the teens and chaperones to share, at their tables, their favorite experiences of NCYC, and overwhelmingly the favorite for most of them was Eucharistic Adoration, which took place for approximately one hour on Friday night in Lucas Oil Stadium.  But that holy hour only had about 5 minutes of silence, and the rest of the time there was music and talks going on. 

 

There was also SILENT adoration taking place throughout the 4 days of NCYC in the Convention Center as well, and most of our young people and chaperones shared that they actually preferred the SILENT adoration in the convention center.

 

Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote about several years ago called “The Power of Silence” with the subtitle “Combatting the Dictatorship of Noise” and we do live in a very loud world…radios, tv’s, social media, earbuds, smart phones…we are assaulted by noise all the time.

 

So at our parishes during Advent, we are going to be ending our Masses during Advent with just a few minutes of silent adoration and then move right into Benediction…there are handouts as you leave Mass for those who want more info…but this is part of the Eucharistic Revival that has been talked about a lot.

 

Fr. Meyer and I hope that this experience and exposure to a few minutes of silence in the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus will draw us all closer to Christ, to the Catholic Church that Jesus established…and closer to one another as well!

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Baby Indi

For those of you who are not familiar, Britain is on socialized medicine, and despite the Prime Minister of Italy granting baby Indi and her parents Italian Citizenship, and despite Pope Francis offering the Bambino Gesu to treat Baby Indi, Lord Justice Peter Jackson of the English Court of Appeal, citing a “best interests” of the child standard, blocked Indi’s parents from accepting Italy’s offer.

Baby Indi died on Monday morning, but something happened that the Devil did not attend.  A person suggested to Baby Indi's parents that she get baptized...and not only did the parents allow her to get baptized before she died...the parents were baptized as well!


The Father said that he had seen so much evil through this whole thing that it shook him out of his spiritual slumber.


J.R.R. Tolkien described God and Heaven, metaphorically, as a symphony with God as the conductor.  The Devil and other demons are playing notes off the script, trying to wreck the symphony, but God is able to weave their discordant notes into the symphony, and still make the symphony perfect and beautiful.


That is clearly what happened in this instance.  As St. Paul assures the Romans, "God is working all things for the good for those who love Him"!!!!!

Monday, November 13, 2023

"The 10 Virgins" Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023

 

Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023 “The 10 Virgins”

 

In the parable in our Gospel today, it may sound strange…we might ask why 10 virgins were waiting, in the middle of the night, for the groom to come back, by himself, for a wedding party, but every Jew listening to Jesus would understand the customs involved, and a quick internet search will point those things out to anyone interested.

 

But I want to focus on vocations, this weekend, as this is National Vocations Awareness Week in the United States, and some of the vocations involve vows related to virginity.

 

First of all, I never felt any pressure from my family to be a priest.  My parents just said once or twice over the years as we were growing up “if any of you became a priest or a sister, we would support you in that decision”  I would discourage any family from applying any sort of pressure to a young person.

 

I personally heard a very clear call my sophomore year of college when I made a commitment to read one chapter of the Gospel each day.  I just heard Jesus putting on my heart, every time I opened the Bible “be a priest”.  So that is the number one recommendation for discerning your vocation…read one chapter of the Gospel each day on your own.

 

I would just like to say a few things about the priesthood – I have never missed having children of my own… As a priest, no matter how young you are, you are welcomed into hospitals and nursing homes passed all the aunts and uncles and cousins right to the bed side because you have the Sacraments of the Church…and we invited to all of your wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, graduation parties, first Communion parties…

We are also connected to the family of the priests of the past…every family typically buys their son a chalice when he is ordained a priest, and usually when that priest dies no one knows what to do with that chalice, so they are kept in the archives at the diocese.  I went down to the Archdiocese and picked out one such chalice that was originally a gift to Fr. Edgar O’Connor, who was ordained a priest on May 25, 1920.  The Archdiocese gave me some information on Fr. Edgar O’Connor and my parents had it refurbished, and so now both of our names are on the bottom of this chalice.  Every time I celebrate Mass with this chalice, I see both my name and Fr. Edgar O’Connor’s name on the bottom of the chalice.  I now pray for the repose of his soul every night, and then I ask him to pray for me.

 

It is a beautiful thing…and all the religious brothers and sisters I know feel the same way about their vocations even though we all take vows to be live as virgins.  There is a young woman who I first got to know when I was the Chaplain at Cardinal Ritter.  Just a few years ago she made final vows for the Sisters of Life based in New York City.  The Sisters of Life are highly engaged in the pro-life movement, they minister to women and fathers who chose to have abortions, and they also celebrate with women and fathers that have chosen life…they have birthday parties for babies and take care of the families…she does not have any biological children but she is a mother to hundreds of fathers, mothers, and children.

 

When I was first ordained a priest, lots of people told them “you must be really proud of John” and they responded with “we are really proud of all of our children…” I think that was so wise of them to say because all of my siblings are still practicing Catholics and most of them are married and having children…marriage is also a beautiful vocation!

 

In conclusion, whether you are discerning your “capital v” Vocation (marriage, priesthood, become a religious sister or brother, or the consecrated single life) or you have already chosen one, and are just wondering what God is calling you to do today, my advice is the same…read one chapter of the Gospels each day…and in those 4 minutes God will let you know what you should do in order to grow in holiness and happiness.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Homily for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023

 

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023

 

In our first reading today the prophet Malachi warns the priests, saying “Listen, O priests, you have turned aside from the way and have caused many to falter by your instruction.”

In our own day as well, we still see lots of priests leading people astray by their instruction.  And those priests and bishops and Church leaders, if they do not repent, risk the fires of Hell.

 

Saint Paul, on the other hand, provides the Thessalonians a great summation of HIS approach, and it needs to be the same approach for all of us in this Church today.

 

St. Paul says this: “We were determined not only to share the Gospel with you, but even our very selves”  That is beautiful! 

 

First of all, St. Paul says he shared the Gospel with the Thessalonians…and sharing the Gospel can be pretty simple and straight forward…humanity sinned, God became a human person in order to rescue us, and now, through baptism and life in the Catholic Church, we had the gift of finding great joy in this life and in the life to come by following Christ who said “I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly!”  That is a beautiful invitation.

 

But that second part that saint Paul says is also critical…Saint Paul also tells the Thessalonians “Not only did we share the Gospel with you, we shared OUR VERY SELVES…” and that is really profound…he says he gave himself completely and wanted to be their friend.

 

All of us here this morning know one person that we can first of all demonstrate how much we love them by sharing our very self with that person…someone who is not here right now…I want you to think of that person, and make a resolution…I will be the best friend I can be to that person…radical friendship makes sharing the good news of the Gospel and the Catholic Church more fruitful…

Some of us fall more deeply in love with the Catholic, or even convert, by reading the Church Fathers and other saints, some of us are drawn to the Catholic because of the beauty of the Mass, the music, the beauty of the Church buildings, the incense…but all of us desire friendship as well and there are lots of people in our world today who have no one to be a friend to them. 

So please, go out and be a friend to someone, share yourself with that person, and in that process, you can that person and yourself becomes saints.