Monday, December 29, 2014

Synod on the Family and the Holy Family

Trimmed down version:

Full version:

Here are the documents referenced

1) the final document from the Synod - click HERE to read

2) Humanae Vitae - on human life, marriage, contraception, etc.  Short and POWERFUL.  Click HERE to read

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Torture is ALWAYS Wrong

The past few weeks have been crazy, and thus the drop off in blog posts.

I received a unibomber-esque anonymous note today in the mail asking why I hadn't addressed torture.  Answer - too busy.

However, it is an issue that has been weighing on my mind as I've been driving around and ministering and listening to talk radio and seeing fellow Catholics' posts on social media.

So, while my stance is not to respond to every anonymous letter I receive, I did want to take time out of clearing my desk of the four inches of paper to type up a quick post.

Torture is wrong.  Always.  This is an excerpt from the USCCB's statement on torture:

Despite torture being condemned by international human rights organizations, the United Nations
Declaration of Human Rights, and the Universal Church, a 2009 poll released by the Pew Forum on
Religion and Public Life reported that 51% of Catholics agreed that torture of suspected terrorists
could sometimes or often be justified; only 20% of Catholics believed that torture can never be

Church teaching is clear. Torture is abhorrent and can neither be condoned nor tolerated. The
Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that “torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract
confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person
and for human dignity” (2297). Quoting the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Pope
Benedict XVI has reiterated that “the prohibition against torture ‘cannot be contravened under any
circumstance.’” Torture is morally wrong and can never be justified because it debases human dignity
of both the victim and the perpetrator, estranging the torturer from God, and compromising the
physical or mental integrity of the tortured.

Torture is corrosive to the society in which it exists as it devalues human life and dignity. Any society
that tolerates torture places the human rights of all of its citizens at risk. It creates a climate hostile to the dignity of the human person. 

You can read the entire statement here.  It is very good and helpful.

As to politicians not receiving Communion who are in support of torture and as to people voting for such candidates not receiving Communion, the issue just isn't black and white like it is with abortion.

The line for torture just isn't black and white.  Abortion is black and white.  There was a child, and then there isn't after an abortion.

There is also the hierarchy of moral values, and the right to life is at the top of that list.  

I agree wholeheartedly that we need to have a very clear discussion about what torture is as a country, and the Church needs to be a player in that discussion.

Politicians who push for allowing more than what the Church considers torture to be should probably refrain from Communion.

Catholics who want to see our country do more to prisoners than what the Church considers to be the line of acceptable treatment of prisoners should also probably refrain from Communion.  

Torture is a question we HAVE to get right as a society, or it will be another step down the moral black hole that we seem to have already begun plunging ourselves into.  Keep our country in prayer, and pray for fellow Catholics to recognize that torture doesn't just harm the prisoner, it assaults our own moral fiber as a nation as well.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mary Embodies Courage, Hope, and Trust

And the WARP SPEED version.  Please let me know if you find this warp speed version helpful or if you think others that you know might find it helpful.  It doesn't take too long to cut up, and I'm just curious to see if some people might be more willing to watch it if it were condensed.  Let me know if you get the chance.

I know most people who read this blog don't mind watching full versions of homilies, but what about your relative who has left the Church?  Any thoughts as to whether this might be helpful?

Monday, December 15, 2014

One of the Scariest Things I Do

One of the scariest things I do as a priest is my annual retreat.

Canon Law requires that priests take a retreat once a year, and I always try to take mine during Advent.  It helps me:

1) rest up for Christmas

2) get my homilies for Christmas, January 1, Holy Family, Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord, etc. together

3) Advent is my favorite time of year and the perfect time for a retreat

That being said, it is also terrifying, and as it gets closer, I get really nervous.

It is really hard to go from 100 mph to contemplation/meditation/prayer.

It is very similar to what most of you all experience as well.  Our daily lives keep us hopping, and "finding time for God" is hard.

I also think, however, that there is a big part of us that WANTS to be distracted because, at least subconsciously, we are AFRAID of what we will find when we encounter Christ in the silence.

There is the beautiful passage from Scripture about the Prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19:

“Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle"

Silence is terrifying, and I always am nervous about heading into it.

I also know it is exactly what I need and the Church is wise to instruct Her priests to "head for the silence" and to be still with God.

Keep me in your prayers this week, and know of mine for all of you!

God bless!
Fr. John Hollowell

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Awesome New Effort from Tekton Ministries

This is a very well done short promo about an effort to help Catholic parishes evangelize and bring the Gospel to all nations.  If your parish could use some help in this area, pass this video on to your pastor!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Missing Mass and Leaving the Church

I've had a very similar conversation with several different people at multiple parish assignments.

The same person will ask two questions maybe a few days or weeks or months apart:

1) "Father, why do you talk about missing Mass and mortal sin?  It's so off-putting and mean."

and then, at some other point:

2) "Father, why have my kids stopped going to Mass?"


If no one tells the next generation that going to Mass is SERIOUSLY important, and that their salvation is on the line, then why would they go?

Canon Law, 1247:  "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass."

The Catechism, 2180: "The faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants)...Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin."

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mass in honor of St. Francis Xavier

4 Minute Advent Retreat - Day 2

In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, today we deviate from the Lectionary to use the particular readings for our Patron Saint Francis Xavier.  Saint Francis Xavier preached to India and other areas of India, bringing countless souls to Christ

Excerpt from the readings for St. Francis Xavier: "If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!" (1 Corinthians 9:17)


"Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15)

Reflection: Christ has sent you to preach to all people of the Earth as well - who is God asking you to preach to today?  Who is in need of hearing from you about the good news that can only hear from you?

Advent hymn for the day: "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Our Annunciation food pantry, doing miraculous things on a budget of about $3,000 a year, is up for a $20,000 grant.  All we need is votes!

You can vote once a day for the next 10 days.  Here is how you can help:

1) Click on the following link:

2) Click on the button that has you log in with your Facebook account

3) At the bottom of the page in the search bar, type in "Indiana" and our Annunciation pantry will come up

4) Click on Annunciation SVDP to vote for us

5) Repeat once a day for the next 8 days

Our county is VERY poor and our parishioners are doing AMAZING work feeding 50-60 families a week with groceries.  We could REALLY use your help.  Thanks so much!

Monday, December 1, 2014

4 Minute Advent Retreat Day 1

Scripture excerpt from the daily readings:

"I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 8:11)

Reflection: With the coming of Christ, the chosen people are no longer just the Jews but all of humanity.  The Gospels suggest that this "preaching and calling of all nations" will take place mostly DESPITE the efforts of Catholics more so than BECAUSE OF the work of Catholics.  What are we doing to help call ALL people to the Church, the Bride of Christ?  Do I think it matters if a person is even Catholic?  Do I know people at work, do I know friends or family, do I have friends who are STARVING to know God but need me to invite them?  

Is Advent a time where I simply think of it as me preparing myself for the return of the King or do I see it as an opportunity to reach out and help others properly prepare themselves for the return of the King as well?

Read the day's entire readings by clicking HERE

Advent song for the day: 

hymn words:
 Wake, O wake, and sleep no longer,
For he who calls you is no stranger;
Awake, God's own Jerusalem!
Hear, the midnight bells are chiming
The signal for his royal coming:
Let voice to voice announce his name!
We feel his footsteps near,
The Bridegroom at the door--
Alleluia! The lamps will shine
With light divine
As Christ the savior comes to reign.
2 Zion hears the sound of singing;
Our hearts are thrilled with sudden longing;
She stirs, and wakes, and stands prepared.
Christ, her friend, and lord, and lover,
Her star and sun and strong redeemer--
At last his mighty voice is heart.
The Son of God has come
To make with us his home:
Sing Hosanna! The fight is won,
The feast begun;
We fix our eyes on Christ alone.