Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holy Thursday Homily on the Priest Scandal

Here's a homily from a Holy Thursday Mass in 2010 that was on the priest abuse scandal.  I'm posting it now so I can share it with someone who was interested in it.  Hope it helps.

Every Holy Thursday, by mandate of the Church, the homily is to focus on charity, the Eucharist and the priesthood.  Given the atmosphere of things right now, I want to spend most of my time focusing on the priesthood.

I love movies and so I watch a lot of previews online to see which ones I really want to see. 

I was recently watching one for an upcoming summer blockbuster in which the villain said a phrase that really caught my attention.  He said – “If you can make God bleed people will cease to believe in Him and there will be blood in the water, and the sharks will come.”

The same applies to God’s Church.  There are many out there who think that if they can make the Church bleed, people will stop believing in it.

And OH, they have tried.  The attacks on the Church in the last two weeks would be sad if they were not also a display of the most childish journalism.

1)  The Indianapolis Star published an article a few days ago on page 2 of the main section about protests in London calling for the Pope’s resignation.  In paragraph 7 that we learn it was a couple dozen protesters. 

A COUPLE DOZEN.  I just returned last month from the March for Life, which saw 250,000 young people protest the atrocities against life that our country commits daily, and not a word in the star.  30 people stand on the streets of London, and they make national news.  HUM

2) A little over a week ago, another article in the Star, pretending to be balanced, talked about the abuse case that is now making headlines and quoted two people on behalf of the Church.  First, Hans Kung.  What they didn’t say is that Hans Kung was one of the few people to actually be forbidden to teach theology by Pope Benedict when he was still a Cardinal.  Who honestly thinks that Hans Kung is going to speak on BEHALF of the Catholic Church or Pope Benedict.  REALLY?  Hans Kung?

The articles other voice “on behalf of the Church” was a member of the “Voice of the Faithful.”  The Voice of the “Faithful” is a group of people who consider themselves Catholic but who hate nearly every central teaching of the Church. 

Those are the two voices who are supposed to give a balanced perspective on the Church and celibacy??

The article also featured a juvenile understanding of things Catholic, interchanging celibacy and chastity as if they were the same thing – a pretty serious mistake when celibacy was the point of the article.

3)  New York Times writer Maureen Dowd has absolutely gone off the deep end with her story trying to link Pope Benedict to a case in Wisconsin.  I could spend 10 minutes debunking every lie in her article, but many have charitably done so on the internet.

4)  MSNBC published a headline which they apologized for a day later which said “Pope Describes Touching Boys:  I Went Too Far.”  The article had nothing to do with the pope.  Was the headline an accident?   To the average person on the street who won’t care to follow up with the facts, can that damage ever be repaired?

5)  Cartoons in editorials have been blatantly anti-Catholic and anti-priesthood throughout the country. 

6)  Newsweek magazine recently published an article by Fr. Richard McBrien, a teacher at, surprise, Notre Dame, who has been teaching outright against the Church for 4 decades.  Again, a big shock that he wasn’t exactly pro Church or pro priesthood.

6)  The media machine also loves to talk about a priest shortage (a sure sign that the priesthood is dying out in their minds) – but the United States has one of the best ratio of Catholics to priests in the world.  Are the numbers lower than the 50’s, yes, but that is because we had more than we needed.  A priest friend of mine is a pastor of a parish with about 500 people in it.  The rectory he lives in housed at least two priests in the 50’s, perhaps three.  My priest friend has three parishes and manages just fine - those priests had one parish.  Is there a decline, or is the situation just getting more realistic?

I could go on, but you’ve all seen the Church and the priesthood dragged through the mud

Before moving on, let me here say for the first of many times, the crimes committed against children by priests is sickening, needs to be punished to the fullest extent of both Church and secular law, it needs to be rooted out NOW.  Any bishops that knowingly protected those priests ought to resign instantly.  This homily tonight is not about justification of the tragedies that have happened in any way!

The question that does need to be raised here is this – do the actions of this small portion of priests apply to the priesthood in general? To the over 400,000 priests serving today. 

A question here needs to be asked – what would motivate people to attack the Church and the priesthood in this way?
Some just like seeing if they can move something that claims to immovable by human beings
Some have genuinely been hurt by a member of the Church
But I suspect most see the Church as the last voice that speaks out against contraception, abortion, wars of aggression, unjust social structures, and unchecked greed. 

The real battle here is between two competing views of what sets human beings free.  Atheists and others who hate the Church particularly or Christianity in general like to offer one view of freedom.  They say, “If we can just get rid of God and get rid of the Church, then human beings will be truly free.  They believe, ultimately, that religion suffocates humanity and stifles its flowering.  That view is contrasted with the view of the Church.  What sets humanity free in the eyes of the Church is living as Christ showed us.   The two sides directly contradict the other, and so there is a war going on between these two views of where true freedom lies. 

We get a glimpse in tonight’s Gospel of those with the mindset that religion suffocates humanity, and we see what perhaps motivates them.

Something VERY interesting happens.  Peter says to Jesus, “You will NEVER wash my feet.”

Why is Peter so offended?? – It is because the world is safer where God does Godly things, and humans do human things. 

If we keep God over there, in heaven, the good guy, the guy who floats on a cloud, and if we are the human beings who are to simply continue to wallow in the mire and the muck of our lives, then we don’t have to go through the uncomfortable hassle of CHANGING, of SEEKING FORGIVENESS, OF CONVERSION!!

God, you stay over there, we say.  Be Holy, fix things, send down hail and fire if you want, just leave us alone.  Be God, and we will be human sinners. 

We want, down deep, to be left to the madness of our sins.  We want there to be a divide between the Holy and the Human.

So when Peter sees Christ on a knee, he freaks out.  Lord, you will NEVER wash my feet!”

But with Christ’s words, we see the gravity of this moment.  Peter wasn’t just saying that to Jesus to be nice.  He meant what he said, and we see the severity of the situation affirmed by Jesus when he says – “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”

That human beings can stand in the place of Christ, and be his presence in our midst through the sacraments is more than some can handle.  The Catholic Priesthood stands in opposition to the divide between the Holy and the Human.  The Priesthood reminds people that humans are supposed to do God things, and that God works and does human things. 

Priests are, in some ways, the last reminders to our world of what Jesus was sent to do.  A friend of mine once said “You don’t get it, you are the last sign of the Church to people out there.” 

He didn’t mean me – he meant THE PRIESTHOOD. He meant this white collar.  The priesthood is not an individual priest, it is something much more than that.  Trust me, I know my own limitations very well.  Indeed, no doubt, some of you probably wish I preached differently, or held my hands differently, or didn’t chant, or smiled more, and I’m sure you have a list for Fr. Joe as well – much shorter than mine of course! – and I’m sure he has a list of things for me that he’d like to see changed!  I, of course, have no complaints for him!  that myself and Fr. Joe have shortcomings is the whole point that most of the world doesn’t get.  The Holy and the Human, through Christ, through his Church, through his priests and through ALL OF US are to be mingled.  This mingling takes place most notably through the Eucharist.  We receive him, and the Holy and the Human mingle. 

Those that say to Christ – “You will never wash me” and who want God to stay in Heaven so that they don’t have to change have to overcome the priesthood itself.  They have to devalue the priesthood, they have to change it and bend it according to their own will.  The first thing they always come after – celibacy.  A great Church historian once said that all the great attacks on the Church start by attacking the priesthood and celibacy.  That is true from the earliest heresies through Arians, the Gnostics, the Agnostics, the Lollards, the Jansenists, the Donatists, the Hussites, the Lutherans, and now the dissenters of the Church and atheists.  The game plan has always been this – TOPPLE THE PRIESTHOOD AND WE TOPPLE THE CHURCH. 
Celibacy is said to cause all the problems that we see right now with the abuse cases.  They hear not just angry journalists but even some ex priests saying – “I made this vow in my youth, and it just became more than I was expecting.”  HELLO – does that sound like any marriages any of you know about??  EVERY vow becomes more than people bargained for.  Married Life, Religious Life, The Priesthood – it all is more difficult and MORE rewarding if lived right, than people bargained for. 

Also, those who hate the Church have always, throughout history, sought to make the priesthood a club that anyone can join, because they know that then it loses its power.  They portray the current priesthood as some rich boy’s club set up solely to keep others out and preserve power.  Let me just say that that historian was right, when you meet someone who is trying to change the Catholic priesthood into what they think it should be, you should run far away from them because Heresy and Dissent and hatred of the Church follow quickly in their footsteps.  To those people, the priesthood is no longer something that God gives as a gift to the Church, it is something humanity makes for itself.  The divide between the Holy and Human is reestablished.  Humanity is free to be irresponsible and live however they want once again. 

the Letter of the Hebrews in this morning’s office of readings smashes the portrayal of priesthood as an “all are welcome club” to pieces.  Referring to the priesthood, St. Paul says “ONE DOES NOT TAKE THIS HONOR ON HIS OWN INITIATIVE.”  The priesthood was established by Christ – about that the Scriptures are very clear. 

In the preparation of the Gifts, the priest pours water into that which is still wine and says silently, “By the mingling of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”  Priests are called in every age by God to be signs that in Christ the Holy and the Human have mingled.  In the Eucharist, the Holy and the Human have mingled.  And in all of us here, the Holy and the Human have mixed.  It is the Church’s vision of humanity which is meant to set us free.  May we not settle for the vision of humanity that those who hate the Church and want to devalue the priesthood offer up.

And so, we remember the words of that movie, “If we can make God bleed, people will stop believing in Him.”  Well God has been bleeding for 2,000 years now, and His Church has been bleeding for 2,000 years because it is full of people who sin.  Some rejoice at the blood because they believe it spells the end of God or of His Church or both, thus setting humanity free to rule itself.  We the Church mourn our sins, but just as those who hate the Church, we too rejoice over the fact that God is bleeding; we rejoice because Christ’s blood will win us a freedom that those who hate the Church could never imagine.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A SWOT Analysis of NCYC

This past week I brought 8 young people and two other chaperones to my first NCYC (National Catholic Youth Conference) in Indianapolis.  I wanted to share my thoughts on the experience.


1) The main reason I brought my young people to NCYC was to see 25,000 other Catholics together praying and celebrating life together.  There are roughly 1,000 students at my local public school, and 8 of them are Catholic.  That is obviously a pretty low ratio.  NCYC, the March for Life, World Youth Day, etc. are opportunities for young people to realize that they are not alone in their Faith.  This was certainly true for my young people at NCYC.  They were blown away by the fact that so many other people their age share their Faith.

"You are not alone" - being with 25,000 other Catholics made it all worth it!

2) The keynote speakers were amazing.  Topics included bullying, loss of a loved one, hurt, sin, disappointment, etc.  If you ever get the chance to hear Bob Perron, Jackie Francois Angel, or Ansel Augustine, then do it.  Also Matt Maher, the only national Christian music performer that I personally like, was great.  Also a shout out to Archbishop Tobin who was great both with our opening Mass for our Archdiocese, and also at the closing Mass as well.  Additionally, Bishop Caggiano from Bridgeport gave an amazing reflection at one of the morning prayer sessions that got everyone fired up!


1) The liturgy.  I have been telling my young people that most in the Catholic world seem to think young people are “spiritually retarded” in the true sense of the word retarded – like they have a ceiling and they can’t go to the next level and so they have to be treated like children.  It seems to be that some think that Catholic teens can only handle real short bursts of “spiritual things” so everything has to be flashy and showy.  Archbishop Buechlein once noted that NCYC is “90% show, and 10% content.”  After my first NCYC, I would wholeheartedly agree.  I’m not advocating 100% content, but perhaps we could move away from the 90/10 ratio and get closer to 50/50? 

There was a “prayer session” one morning where a kid was running around on the floor with a sheet over his head, and then a bunch of kids on stage held up red sheets that were lit up, the lighting went berserk, crazy music kicked in, and I thought, briefly, that I was watching the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies again.  My kids turned to me several times throughout NCYC and asked "do they think we're spiritually retarded?"

2) There was nothing for the young people on homosexuality.  There had to be over 100 breakout sessions and presentations over three days, and not one covered the topic that our young people want to know about.  Bishops were reporting that the number one question they were fielding in their panel discussions with young attendees was “what does the Church teach about homosexuality.”   Too bad the conference didn’t try to address the issue with anything.  That fact alone makes me very suspicious.


1) NCYC does a great job of getting young people in the door.  I remember walking up the steps of Lucas Oil Stadium on the first night, and when our kids saw the lights and heard the music and so forth, they went from walking lazily up the steps to literally running for the doors to see what all the excitement was about.  They were pumped up and drawn in.  NCYC nailed that aspect of things.  The opportunity, then, is to move the young people to a new spot by the end of the conference so that, at the end of the conference, the teens recognize that they don’t need such things to encounter God.  It seemed, though, that NCYC ended in exactly the same way that it began…that we never moved away from entertainment…no one challenged the kids to move beyond pyrotechnics.  The problem with that is that they leave the conference wondering “why can’t Mass be like that when I get home?”  The answer – because no parish has 3 story tall jumbotrons and professional music.  I’ve often described Protestant worship services as pep rallies with no game to follow – they get you all jazzed up, but you’re not quite sure what to do when they’re over, whereas the Catholic Mass is the game.  NCYC felt a lot like a good pep rally, but there needs to be a bigger push to help the kids realize the deeper realities of our Faith.   They can handle it, and they want to be shown those realities.

2) I didn’t hear much at all on the Eucharist nor did I hear much on confession.  Those are the two things that any youth conference ought to be emphasizing and getting kids to encounter, and I didn’t see that taking place, nor did I hear it from the speakers.  On Friday, the middle day of the conference, my kids and I had to have Mass at the high school we were staying at, and we had to have it at 7:30 in the morning because there was no Mass scheduled at NCYC that day except during dinner.  The two options at a National Catholic Youth Conference should not be “dinner or Mass?”


1) Before the closing Mass, all the 200 or so priests gathered and were chatting with one another.  It was a really good opportunity to meet a bunch of new guys from all over the country as well as an opportunity to connect with guys that I had studied with in the seminary.  The OVERWHELMING topic of conversation is exactly the same things I mentioned above.  I probably heard 20 times “this is great for my kids to see all these other Catholics…but it could be so much better.”  I had never heard of Steubenville Conferences, but a lot of the young priests in attendance (the vast majority of the guys who were there) were talking about them telling me I needed to check them out as well.  After hearing about them, I checked them out when I got home, and that will definitely be the next thing I try to get my young people to attend.  I would say that from the looks of things, Steubenville Conferences seem to be the biggest threat to NCYC at the moment.

In closing:

I’m sure that young priests can easily be dismissed as crazed and conservative, but I would also ask that it be considered that perhaps the reason we want the things we do is because we grew up in this generation of young people, and maybe the things we are clamoring for come from an actual awareness of what people from our generation need and want, and that perhaps we’re not just a group of angry people who wear cassocks and talk about the Eucharist and confession because we’re simple-minded foot soldiers of Pope Benedict.  This analysis is certainly free to be dismissed, but I would say that Pope Francis recently called a “conservative” Italian blogger and thanked him for his criticism.  I certainly hope this can be received by the leaders of NCYC, and that they continue to evolve and discern where the Holy Spirit might be leading them today.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rolling Stone Magazine and Politics? Please!

So maybe you heard the story out of San Francisco from Friday.  I tweeted about it and shared it on my blog as well.  If you haven't seen it, click here for the story.

Today, Planned Parenthood tweeted out the following

The tweet links to a Rolling Stones article about 10 congressman who want to, as they say in the article's title, which is a lie:

10 Republicans Who Cheered on Batkid, Want to Revoke His Obamacare

1) I am fascinated that Rolling Stone Magazine has a "politics" section.  It would be similar to Oprah weighing in on the NFL or the NBA.  Dear Rolling Stone mag, you guys do rock and roll.  Stick to that, because politics and morality are apparently way beyond your pay grade.  

2) The title is a lie because the kid is surely not on Obamacare already.  Or was he one of the 7 that has been able to sign up so far?

3) What disgusting exploitation of an otherwise wonderful, heartwarming story.  The Rolling Stone clowns and Planned Parenthood drones who retweeted the story are showing that they have absolutely no dignity.  

Does anyone really believe that those working against Obamacare don't want people to be covered?  Of course not.  The trick for all people of good will in our country is to figure out how to do this smartly, and not simply drop a law on the heads of Americans that was not debated, not researched, and which, from the very beginning has been a mixture of deceit and technological incompetence of the highest order.

Planned Parenthood, thanks for allowing, once again, your demonic nature to shine through in all its glory.

I Have Some More Copies of My Book

In preparation for my ordination to the priesthood in 2009, I decided to put together a collection of stories and reflections on events that lead to my ordination as a Catholic priest.  It was really nothing more than an attempt to explain to my family and friends why I "made the plunge."  

If you would like a copy, I am asking for $20, and shipping is included in the $20.  If you'd like a copy, please send a check to Fr. John Hollowell, 19 North Alabama Street, Brazil, IN, 47834.  I promise I will put any money taken in through this to good use for the Church.  I hope it helps people grow in their faith, and might also help any young men discerning the priesthood to take the plunge as well.

Millions of Catholics Celebrating Advent Two Months Early (satire)

Rome, Italy.  Fr. Giuseppe Gnocchi, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, today lamented a growing trend around the world - the premature celebration of Advent.  "A not insignificant amount of Catholics are ignoring the Liturgical Calendar, and are instead celebrating Advent way in advance."  Margie Hopkins of Pittsburgh noted, "This year, I had my Advent wreath up a week before Halloween."

Many Catholics are shirking the Church's calendar because they are seeking more silence and introspection.  Jay Johnson from Cheyenne shared that "4 weeks isn't even close to the amount of time that I need to spiritually prepare for the birth of the King of Kings."  Johnson says he celebrates a 12 week Advent.

Companies are planning to capitalize on the trend.  Walgreens has announced plans to sell electronic Advent wreaths starting July 5th.  Lowe's will also have an "Advent Wonderland" starting the day after Labor Day. 

Black Vestments, Suicide, and My Funeral

"Neglecting to face these realities and presuming the heavenly bliss of the faithful departed is a presumption that is rather lacking in charity in point of fact -- like presuming a sick family member is not so sick as to need care and tending and therefore going merrily along our way without regard for them or their current state."

- Shawn Tribe

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Super" Cool Story Out of San Francisco

A super cool story from San Francisco!

Click here for the video

Some Cool Chants

This group came across my Pandora account, and I love their music.  It is chant, but chant done with a little bit of regional flare.  I thought I'd share two of their tracks.  I highly encourage you to pick up the whole album.  Yay Gregorian Chant!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PROGRESS: Let's Paint the Picture that Every Woman Is a Sex Addict

Who saw this coming with Obamacare...oh wait, Pope Paul VI in 1968 and every sane Catholic sense then and every sane Catholic who has been seeking to reform Obamacare and the HHS mandate.

This is an ad that appeared in Colorado, sponsored by, ironically, PROGRESS Colorado.  This is progress?

The idea that these clowns in the picture, or anyone like this, can't afford carcinogenic birth control pills is ludicrous.  This ad goes to show that it really all has been about, from the beginning, Planned Parenthood's agenda vs. the Catholic Church's agenda, or the Devil's presence on Earth vs. Christ's presence on Earth.

It is also in times like these where I wonder how anyone can be a Christian but not a Catholic.  The Catholic Church is the only Church that has been speaking out about this garbage, warning about it, and predicting stuff just like this.  It is time for Christians out there to pick a side - the Devil or the Catholic Church...time is running out to tread water in between the two poles.

You can read the whole story by clicking here

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"The Blessed Virgin is Appearing to This Guy...."

I get a lot of questions about new "prophets" that pop up on the internet.  Even among Catholics these types of things seem to be enticing. 

For example, one person sent me a link to "The Warning Second Coming" (click here to visit).  When you go to visit it, which I advise you to do only once, you quickly see what is going on there. 

Of course, there are things as well like "the Book of Truth", such-and-such lay person who is having visions out in Nebraska, a woman in France who Mary told the world would be coming to an end next Wednesday, a guy writing under the pseudonym "Daniel" from Pittsburgh who receives spiritual teachings from his pet frog, etc.

Not at nearly the same level of insanity we have miracles being reported at Medjugorie and so forth.

What is a person to make of all this?

Some of it is quite clearly hogwash.  There have been lots of people writing "Books of Truth" both in our own times and in the past.  The general rule - run as far away from "Books of Truth" as possible.  There is one "Book of Truth" and we were promised there would NOT be a sequel.

I've seen the hogwash lead a lot more people away from the Faith than I've seen the hogwash lead people TO the Faith.  As Jesus said: "By your fruits you will know them."

As for the stuff that seems like it MIGHT be of God, such as the apparitions at Medjudorie (which has not been recognized by the Church as authentic yet), here's my suggestion:

When you've read the Bible, the Catechism, and all the writings of all the saints, then you can look for supplemental spiritual literature from other writers and claimants to spiritual visions.  Until then, however, I'd stick with the writings that have come from people we know are in Heaven.