Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fighting Bishops, Heresies, Today's Solemnity, and YOU!

Notes from my homily today that I preached off of:

Some brief history

Ecumenical council – a council working on the unity of the entire Church throughout the world

325 we had our first ecumenical council – the council of Nicea.  A priest named Arius had a teaching that had spread far and wide –

Christ was NOT God in the fullest sense – Christ was CREATED…a DEIFIED human being

OVER HALF the bishops of the world are believed to have been following Arius teaching in 325

St. Nicolas, at the council, after Arius presented his side, walked over and slapped Arius

Arius is eventually condemned and exiled.  It took many years for the people following Arius to return to the Church.  Some still hold to his teaching.  Hardly anyone has heard of his Church today.  It is insignificant.

So, there was debate, violent at times, but eventually, the Church came out and said on this question – “You are either in bounds or out of bounds, that there are things you can think and believe that are OUTSIDE the realm of the Church, things that can NOT be believed by Catholics”

Third ecumenical council involved today’s Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God
431 in Ephesus

Nestorius vs. Cyril of Alexandria

Again there was fighting

Nestorius – we can’t really say Mary is the Mother of God…we can say she’s the Mother of CHRIST, but not the Mother of God

Cyril – If Mary is the Mother of Christ, she’s the Mother of God

Fracture again as some held to Nestorius view.   It took a long time, decades, for unity to return to the Church.  Today, some people still follow Nestorius’ teaching, but no one has hardly heard of them


1)      We can laugh at the violence – but do we care that much?

2)      Do we think there is an “in bounds” and an “out of bounds”? 

Do we know all the teachings of our Faith, particularly those things that the Church has definitively said “These are in bounds, and these things over here are distinctly out of bounds and not up for discussion?

The Church does allow for debate, discussion, collaboration, etc.  That’s what all the Ecumenical Councils have been – but when the Church rules definitively, are we on board?  Do we know what all those teachings are? 

3)      May 2016 be a year where we learn about those teachings, and learn the “why’s” – Formed, RCIA, etc.

A Christmas Funeral Photo

This was following a funeral I had today during the Christmas season.  The quote is the end of one of my favorite novels - "Middlemarch"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Defeating Evil Every Day

A Catechetical Homily on the Year of Mercy

I have combed through "Year of Mercy" info, web pages, resources etc. and here's a condensed version of the best
1) This past Sunday was the "Jubilee of Families" - an invitation for families to get involved more directly with the Year of Mercy. Our bishops are asking families to: 1 - go to confession as a family 2 - pray a Psalm together as a family 3 - learn the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and then pick one of each to do AS A FAMILY 4 - Have a time where the family sits down and asks for forgiveness of one another for things done to each other in the past that have not been explicitly apologized for 5 - Travel to the Holy door in your diocese and engage in the prayers and so forth that are part of that pilgrimage. Here's a link to the USCCB guide for families:
Here's a GREAT short document that families can use when making a pilgrimage to the Holy Door:…/RESOURCE-FOR-THE-PASSAGE-OF-THE-H…
Our Archdiocese of Indianapolis has absolutely HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK with a booklet they put together for the Year of Mercy. I'm printing it up for all of my parishioners. It is something I hope EVERY diocese and Catholic is able to use. BRAVO to our Archdiocesan team that created this. PLEASE print this off for yourself and consider printing off some copies for others and handing them out as well. I hope every priest is able to utilize this booklet for their parishes because it is VERY well done:…/Archdiocese%20of%20Indianapolis%2…
Our Archdiocese also has a website with a lot of useful links all in one place:
Finally, here is a set of 8 books for 40 dollars that I am ordering from OSV. "Mercy in the Fathers of the Church" "Mercy in the Saints" "Mercy from the Popes" and 5 other great titles. I think this will be a tremendous help for preaching mercy throughout the year. Lay people would also find these books VERY helpful and informative and enlightening:

Friday, December 25, 2015

What my Goddaughter Taught Me About Christ and Christmas

Something happened about six months ago in my life, and I knew, when it happened, that I would be preaching about it at Christmas.  I don’t normally plan out my homilies six months in advance, but I knew in that moment that I would be talking about it today

To set the scene a little bit, I’m the oldest of 11 children, and my Mom and Dad have a standing invitation to whomever is around to come over for Sunday dinner.  When DePauw is in session, I’m not able to make it as I have Sunday night Mass, but usually in the Summer, if it is a slow Sunday evening, I’ll head over for dinner.

We have a huge table in my parents’ dining room.  My Dad actually made it by hand and he wasn’t a carpenter or anything, so I still remember when he was out in the yard making the table.  We all gave him hard time…”Dad, what are you doing, you don’t know how to make a table.”  It was kind of like Noah building the ark, and we were all the people heckling him.  But anyway, it worked, and the table is about 75 feet long, and it has been around for 20 plus years now.  There is room for everyone, and dinners around the table are a great thing.

So this one particular Sunday night in July we were gathered for dinner, and around our big table there were a couple of conversations going on at either end of the table, and I was sitting in the middle just kind of listening to both conversations.  I was going to offer something if it seemed relevant, but I didn’t feel like I had anything to add, so I just kind of listened and enjoyed being in the presence of my family.

So I have 5 nieces and nephews and one of my nieces is also my goddaughter.  Her name is Lucy.  She’s about one year old, and she can’t talk yet, and I am kind of partial here, but I think she’s at least tied for cutest child in the world.  Most of you probably know some kids that are tied for that award as well.

As I was looking back and forth to both ends of the table, at one point I noticed my goddaughter Lucy, sitting on her mom’s lap, and she was just staring at me smiling from ear to ear with a twinkle in her eye.  And in that moment I was struck by a lot of things, and I also recognized, as I thought about it, that, out of my peripheral vision, she had been staring at me for a minute or so, just waiting for me to look in her direction.  And I realized in that moment – this is how God looks at me.  And I was taken back, in that moment, to Christmas and the Christ child and the fact that Christ became a baby.  Not just a human being who came down on a chariot, but instead he became a child.  And so Christ looks at me in the same way that Lucy does.  Lucy, as awesome as she, is not God.  She doesn’t love me as much as Jesus does.  Jesus looks at me in the same way as Lucy does, if not with a bigger smile and with more love, if that’s possible.

Last night and this morning, Churches around the world are overflowing.  And I think one of the reasons for that is that people, when they see the Christ child, they say themselves, “That is a God that I can get; that’s a God that I understand; that’s a God that resonates with me; a God that smiles at me as a child, that loves me and looks on me with that same look.”

The problem is that moving forward, next weekend and so forth moving forward, the crowds will die out a little bit, and I think one of the main reasons for that is that we forget that Christ still looks at us this way ALL THE TIME!  When we grow older, and we hit the terrible twos, and then we become teens, and we get that angst, and we keep growing, and our hearts harden and we develop this thick skin, and we change, not always for the better.  I think a lot of people think, ourselves included, that Jesus went through all of this growth and change too.  He grew into angst and bitterness and became mean.  We think the Jesus changed, so we stop coming to Church.  But God does not change.  Jesus did grow up and become grumpy or embittered or hardened.  He didn’t grow into being some sort of disciplinarian who is mad at us.  So many of us have the wrong image of God in our minds, and those wrong images keep us from authentic spiritual encounter, authentic spiritual growth.  Those false images of Christ keep us from Church, from prayer.  They might think of God in an image that I reference a lot – the P.E. teacher.  Maybe I need to see a counselor about my P.E. Teacher because I use that image a lot, but I actually had a great p.e. teacher, but anyways…the image of a person standing over you saying “GIVE ME ONE MORE BEATTITUDE” and “Don’t forget the 10 commandments!”  and “You’re bad” and “You’re in trouble and you have to go see the dean”…many people think of God, the Church, and Jesus in that way…they forget that Christ looks on us as a child…we forget.

We’ve all heard that phrase “May we keep Christmas in our heart year round” and I think what that means is “remember this Nativity scene year round”…remember that Jesus looks at us with that same smile that a child looks at us with.  And no matter what we do, no matter what sins we commit, we can turn from the Christ Child, but He doesn’t turn from us.  We might not notice the smile of the Christ Child, Jesus looking at us with His infinite love, but He doesn’t stop.  We can commit sins, we can do things where we can definitively turn away, but God doesn’t do that.  Christ ALWAYS looks at us with the same smile, hoping to catch our attention, hoping to catch our eye, hoping to get us to smile back.

Before I looked at Lucy that night, I wasn’t smiling. I wasn’t in a bad mood, but I wasn’t smiling, but when I caught her eye, it warmed my heart, and it changed me and I was able to smile too.

So as we think about these things, what I’d like you to do, in this moment, is just to think of whatever sufferings you might be going through right now, call to mind the crosses that you are carrying right now.  I’d also like you to call to mind any teachings of Jesus that you find to be a challenge, any teachings of the Church that you say “I’m not sure I like that, I’m not sure I agree with that, I’m not sure I get it.”  Instead of thinking of that coming from a disciplinarian, or from drill instructor or from a P.E. teacher, I want you to think of it instead being said by the smiling Christ Child “I’m asking you to carry thins cross, to endure this suffering, to follow this teaching even though you may not get it, you may not fully understand it.”  If we hear it coming from a child, with a big smile on His face, saying “Trust me I love you” it is so much to follow Him and to trust

And so we pray that we may be people who keep Christmas year round, and not just today, that we may help spread that Good News that Jesus looks on us with the smile of a loving child.  And we pray that we may also bring other people to encounter that same Jesus.

We pray that what we celebrate today, the prayers, the Eucharist, everything that we’re here doing, that it may help us keep Christmas year round, and not just today.

"Hello from the other side!"

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The lethally accurate SNL video that sums up why I struggle sometimes with diocesan priesthood

This came out a year ago on Saturday Night Live.  You can get upset about this, but a lot of it is fair criticism.

In many places, this stuff is par for the course, and any time you try to change any of this at your average parish today, and try and make Mass more sacred, you are labeled as trying to do things your own way

Pretty much everything they talk about in here is par in our post Vatican II American Catholic experience, and almost nothing in the above video were things that the Church ACTUALLY changed about the Mass.

We changed all this stuff above, and it is an absolute train wreck, and we wonder why the number of people joining the Church has dropped off.

This stuff doesn't happen at parishes that have held to the tradition of the Church, and have actually only implemented the changes that the 2nd Vatican Council has called for.

If you walked into your average suburban Catholic parish today - what would draw you in to the celebration of the Mass?  What would let you know that something sacred is taking place?  The megachurch down the street has hymns, readings, they might even pass the grape juice and bread around...but if you walked into a traditional Catholic parish, you would figure out real quick...something different is happening here.

Why does the above video have to be so accurate?  Why do we tolerate this stuff and watch the numbers shrink?

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Reflection on Crucifixes

As Catholics, we know Christ has risen from the dead.

We have crucifixes because WE haven't risen from the dead.

So while we suffer in this valley of tears it helps a great deal to be reminded that Christ CHOSE suffering when he walked this earth, even though He could have saved us without being crucified and tortured.

The ancient prophecies could have said "The Christ will die in child birth" and we'd still be saved. He CHOSE the cross. If that doesn't help you in the midst of suffering, then don't have crucifixes around.

But what I want to know when I'm suffering is not "hey, just think about Easter"...I want to hear God say "I'm with you in the midst of this. I bled too. Your suffering has meaning in this moment, not just a future reward."

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Year of Mercy - Doctrines aren't changing, it is about the doctrine that we can change

He chose us in be holy and without blemish before him!  Ephesians 1:4

In your mercy keep us free from sin... (The Mass, immediately following the "Our Father")

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Morality Chapter 13 - The Beatitudes

Why is there suffering?
What is mercy?
What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
Does meekness mean being a wimp?