Saturday, March 31, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations: 11-14


The 11th Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross

Meditation from Pope Benedict: “Jesus is nailed to the Cross. The shroud of Turin gives us an idea of the unbelievable cruelty of this procedure. Jesus does not drink the numbing gall offered to him: he deliberately takes upon himself all the pain of the Crucifixion. His whole body is racked; the words of the Psalm have come to pass: “But I am a worm and no man, scorned by men, rejected by the people” (Psalm 22:7). “As one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised … surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3f.). Let us halt before this image of pain, before the suffering Son of God. Let us look upon him at times of presumptuousness and pleasure, in order to learn to respect limits and to see the superficiality of all merely material goods. Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation, and realize that it is then that we are closest to God. Let us try to see his face in the people we might look down upon. As we stand before the condemned Lord, who did not use his power to come down from the Cross, but endured its suffering to the end, another thought comes to mind. Ignatius of Antioch, a prisoner in chains for his faith in the Lord, praised the Christians of Smyrna for their invincible faith: he says that they were, so to speak, nailed with flesh and blood to the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1). Let us nail ourselves to him, resisting the temptation to stand apart, or to join others in mocking him.”


The 12th Station: Jesus dies on the Cross
Meditation by Pope Benedict: “In Greek and Latin, the two international languages of the time, and in Hebrew, the language of the Chosen People, a sign stood above the Cross of Jesus, indicating who he was: the King of the Jews, the promised Son of David. Pilate, the unjust judge, became a prophet despite himself. The kingship of Jesus was proclaimed before the entire world. Jesus himself had not accepted the title “Messiah,” because it would have suggested a mistaken, human idea of power and deliverance. Yet now the title can remain publicly displayed above the Crucified Christ. He is indeed the king of the world. Now he is truly “lifted up.” In sinking to the depths he rose to the heights. Now he has radically fulfilled the commandment of love, he has completed the offering of himself, and in this way he is now the revelation of the true God, the God who is love. Now we know who God is. Now we know what true kingship is. Jesus prays Psalm 22, which begins with the words: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:2). He takes to himself the whole suffering people of Israel, all of suffering humanity, the drama of God’s darkness, and he makes God present in the very place where he seems definitively vanquished and absent. The Cross of Jesus is a cosmic event. The world is darkened, when the Son of God is given up to death. The earth trembles. And on the Cross, the Church of the Gentiles is born. The Roman centurion understands this, and acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God. From the Cross he triumphs — ever anew.”


The 13th Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross and given to his mother

Meditation by Pope Benedict: “Jesus is dead. From his heart, pierced by the lance of the Roman soldier, flow blood and water: a mysterious image of the stream of the sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, by which the Church is constantly reborn from the opened heart of the Lord. Jesus’ legs are not broken, like those of the two men crucified with him. He is thus revealed as the true Paschal lamb, not one of whose bones must be broken (…). And now, at the end of his sufferings, it is clear that, for all the dismay which filled men’s hearts, for all the power of hatred and cowardice, he was never alone. There are faithful ones who remain with him. Under the Cross stands Mary, his Mother, the sister of his Mother, Mary, Mary Magdalen and the disciple whom he loved. A wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea, appears on the scene: a rich man is able to pass through the eye of a needle, for God has given him the grace. He buries Jesus in his own empty tomb, in a garden. At Jesus’ burial, the cemetery becomes a garden, the garden from which Adam was cast out when he abandoned the fullness of life, his Creator. The garden tomb symbolizes that the dominion of death is about to end. A member of the Sanhedrin also comes along, Nicodemus, to whom Jesus had proclaimed the mystery of rebirth by water and the Spirit. Even in the Sanhedrin, which decreed his death, there is a believer, someone who knows and recognizes Jesus after his death. In this hour of immense grief, of darkness and despair, the light of hope is mysteriously present. The hidden God continues to be the God of life, ever near. Even in the night of death, the Lord continues to be our Lord and Savior. The Church of Jesus Christ, his new family, begins to take shape.”


The 14th Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb
Meditation from Pope Benedict: “Jesus, disgraced and mistreated, is honorably buried in a new tomb. Nicodemus brings a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight, which gives off a precious scent. In the Son’s self-offering, as at his anointing in Bethany, we see an “excess” which evokes God’s generous and superabundant love. God offers himself unstintingly. If God’s measure is superabundance, then we for our part should consider nothing too much for God. This is the teaching of Jesus himself, in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:20). But we should also remember the words of Saint Paul, who says that God “through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. We are the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14ff.). Amid the decay of ideologies, our faith needs once more to be the fragrance which returns us to the path of life. At the very moment of his burial, Jesus’ words are fulfilled: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Jesus is the grain of wheat which dies. From that lifeless grain of wheat comes forth the great multiplication of bread which will endure until the end of the world. Jesus is the bread of life which can satisfy superabundantly the hunger of all humanity and provide its deepest nourishment. Through his Cross and Resurrection, the eternal Word of God became flesh and bread for us. The mystery of the Eucharist already shines forth in the burial of Jesus.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Here's a shocker: our parish gets in fights all the time

Homily for Holy Thursday

We have something going on at this parish that has been going on since I arrived, and it has been going on for I’m sure the 152 years of this parish, and it has been going on in every parish and every family for the last 2,000 years, and it was going on all the time with the Apostles

There are fights and disagreements and frustrations among us

I’m not chastising our parish for it – I’m sure I’m the cause of some of it, I’m sure I make some of it worse or exacerbate some of it…I’m not alarmed by the bickering and disagreements

I’m from a family of 11 kids – I know what is possible despite the bickering, fighting, skirmishes, alliances, etc.

In fact, far from saying that it is some huge problem, I’d say almost the opposite – I’d suggest that if it is a scandal for you when people argue and disagree and have alliances and bicker then you need to get out more

The Apostles were fighting and arguing all the time.  “Lord, whose the best?” “Lord, can I sit at your right and my brother at your left?” “Hey Thomas, we saw the risen Christ – and  Thomas responds: Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it” Luke tells us: “They were arguing among themselves about who was the greatest”  They all fled him on his arrest.  They denied him.  They didn’t trust the women who would see the empty tomb..St. Paul rebuked St. Peter in front of the early Church...and on and on

Jesus shows them how to navigate this as a Community: SERVE EACH OTHER


The Eucharist and the Priesthood form the apparatus of the Church in the world, but he is saying SERVE EACH OTHER AMIDST THE BICKERING and DISAGREEMENTS


Pope Benedict Stations - The Tenth Station

The Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

Meditation by Pope Benedict: “Jesus is stripped of his garments. Clothing gives a man his social position; it gives him his place in society, it makes him someone. His public stripping means that Jesus is no longer anything at all, he is simply an outcast, despised by all alike. The moment of the stripping reminds us of the expulsion from Paradise: God’s splendor has fallen away from man, who now stands naked and exposed, unclad and ashamed. And so Jesus once more takes on the condition of fallen man. Stripped of his garments, he reminds us that we have all lost the “first garment” that is God’s splendor. At the foot of the Cross, the soldiers draw lots to divide his paltry possessions, his clothes. The Evangelists describe the scene with words drawn from Psalm 22:19; by doing so they tell us the same thing that Jesus would tell his disciples on the road to Emmaus: that everything takes place “according to the Scriptures.” Nothing is mere coincidence; everything that happens is contained in the Word of God and sustained by his divine plan. The Lord passes through all the stages and steps of man’s fall from grace, yet each of these steps, for all its bitterness, becomes a step toward our redemption: this is how he carries home the lost sheep. Let us not forget that John says that lots were drawn for Jesus’ tunic, “woven without seam from top to bottom” (John 19:23). We may consider this as a reference to the High Priest’s robe, which was “woven from a single thread,” without stitching (Fl. Josephus, a III, 161). For he, the Crucified One, is the true High Priest.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations - The Ninth Station

The 9th Station: Jesus Falls The Third Time

Meditation: “What can the third fall of Jesus under the Cross say to us? We have considered the fall of man in general, and the falling of many Christians away from Christ and into a godless secularism. Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall! All this is present in his Passion. His betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison — Lord, save us (cf. Matthew 8: 25).” - Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict Stations - The Eighth Station

The 8th Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem who pray for Him

Meditation from Pope Benedict: “Hearing Jesus reproach the women of Jerusalem who follow him and weep for him ought to make us reflect. How should we understand his words? Are they not directed at a piety which is purely sentimental, one which fails to lead to conversion and living faith? It is no use to lament the sufferings of this world if our life goes on as usual. And so the Lord warns us of the danger in which we find ourselves. He shows us both the seriousness of sin and the seriousness of judgment. Can it be that, despite all our expressions of consternation in the face of evil and innocent suffering, we are all too prepared to trivialize the mystery of evil? Have we accepted only the gentleness and love of God and Jesus, and quietly set aside the word of judgment? “How can God be so concerned with our weaknesses?” we say. “We are only human!” Yet as we contemplate the sufferings of the Son, we see more clearly the seriousness of sin, and how it needs to be fully atoned if it is to be overcome. Before the image of the suffering Lord, evil can no longer be trivialized. To us too, he says: “Do not weep for me, weep for yourselves … if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

All Hell breaks loose if God made Judas betray Jesus

This is one of those homilies that you wish everyone could hear, not because I think I’m awesome but because it cuts to some really important issues
I first remember hearing it in religion class in grade school, not from my teachers but from my classmates, and then have heard it a lot since from lots of different people – “Didn’t Judas HAVE to hand Jesus over?”  or “God made Judas do it”
-         i.e. “Judas might be okay?”
-         i.e. “Judas was a robot…an actor reciting lines given to him by God…”
But the Gospels of course discredit all this as hogwash
Jesus: “woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.  It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”

Now, the reason I wish everyone could hear this homily is that there are TWO huge implications of this

1.       God never has someone do evil

Here’s the problem with thinking God DOES have someone do evil – if God can have people do evil for good outcomes (i.e. betray Jesus Christ so that the world will be saved) then we can start doing evil things because of the good outcomes that we think will happen

It becomes okay to destroy embryos for the good perceived outcome of curing diabetes

It becomes okay to use contraception in my marriage for the good perceived outcome of making my marriage happier

It becomes okay to experiment on human beings for the perceived good outcome of medical science

It becomes okay to torture people for the perceived good outcome of saving soldiers lives

It becomes okay to make money illegally for the perceived good outcome of feeding my family


Even worse…it starts to be the case that if God wills evil or causes evil, then I can too…and it even begins to be the case that, as we go down this road, that God can’t do evil…so Him having Judas do this evil isn’t actually evil…so not only do the ends justify the means, the end result according to this line of thinking MAKES THE EVIL ACT GOOD.
And so it has become fashionable to say such things today, even in the Church – the apparently evil acts might not actually BE evil, as the circumstances or intentions of an act might make an evil act actually good.
Because look – God did something that looked evil but wasn’t

3 things to each act –
1)      Act itself
2)     Circumstances
3)     Intentions of the person

And numbers 2 and 3 NEVER change NUMBER 1

2.      God never makes any robots – good or evil.  God doesn’t use people.  He doesn’t give people lines to recite – GOD GIVES US FREE WILL!!!

It is a highly damaging and false way to view God if we think of him as EVER using people for something.  If God uses people, then we start to think we can to. 

Jesus’ words about Judas need to be with us always – Woe to that man by whom the son of man is betrayed.  It would be better for that man if he had never been born

Monday, March 26, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations - The Seventh Station

The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time

Meditation from Pope Benedict: "The tradition that Jesus fell three times beneath the weight of the Cross evokes the fall of Adam — the state of fallen humanity — and the mystery of Jesus’ own sharing in our fall. Throughout history the fall of man constantly takes on new forms. In his First Letter, Saint John speaks of a threefold fall: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. He thus interprets the fall of man and humanity against the backdrop of the vices of his own time, with all its excesses and perversions. But we can also think, in more recent times, of how a Christianity which has grown weary of faith has abandoned the Lord: the great ideologies, and the banal existence of those who no longer believing in anything, who simply drift through life, have built a new and worse paganism, which in its attempt to do away with God once and for all, have ended up doing away with man. And so man lies fallen in the dust. The Lord bears this burden and falls, over and over again, in order to meet us. He gazes on us, he touches our hearts; he falls in order to raise us up."

Pope Benedict Stations - The Sixth Station

The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
Pope Benedict Meditation: “Your face, Lord, do I seek. Hide not your face from me” (Psalm 27:8-9). Veronica — Bernice, in the Greek tradition — embodies the universal yearning of the devout men and women of the Old Testament, the yearning of all believers to see the face of God. On Jesus’ Way of the Cross, though, she at first did nothing more than perform an act of womanly kindness: she held out a facecloth to Jesus. She did not let herself be deterred by the brutality of the soldiers or the fear which gripped the disciples. She is the image of that good woman, who, amid turmoil and dismay, shows the courage born of goodness and does not allow her heart to be bewildered. “Blessed are the pure in heart,” the Lord had said in his Sermon on the Mount, “for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). At first, Veronica saw only a buffeted and pain-filled face. Yet her act of love impressed the true image of Jesus on her heart: on his human face, bloodied and bruised, she saw the face of God and his goodness, which accompanies us even in our deepest sorrows. Only with the heart can we see Jesus. Only love purifies us and gives us the ability to see. Only love enables us to recognize the God who is love itself.”

Pope Benedict Stations - The Fifth Station

The Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross. 

Meditation from Pope Benedict: “Simon of Cyrene is on his way home, returning from work, when he comes upon the sad procession of those condemned — for him, perhaps, it was a common sight. The soldiers force this rugged man from the country to carry the Cross on his own shoulders. How annoying he must have thought it to be suddenly caught up in the fate of those condemned men! He does what he must do, but reluctantly. Significantly, the Evangelist Mark does not only name him, but also his children, who were evidently known as Christians and as members of that community (cf. Mark 15:21). From this chance encounter, faith was born. The Cyrenian, walking beside Jesus and sharing the burden of the Cross, came to see that it was a grace to be able to accompany him to his crucifixion and to help him. The mystery of Jesus, silent and suffering, touched his heart. Jesus, whose divine love alone can redeem all humanity, wants us to share his Cross so that we can complete what is still lacking in his suffering (cf. Colossian 1:24). Whenever we show kindness to the suffering, the persecuted and defenseless, and share in their sufferings, we help to carry that same Cross of Jesus. In this way we obtain salvation, and help contribute to the salvation of the world.”

God CAN'T come to us on OUR terms

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Friday, March 23, 2018

2 Takeaways from the Movie "Paul the Apostle"

I found this to be a FANTASTIC movie, and it portrays something that I think is HUGELY important for people to remember.

On the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul last year, I was struck by and preached on the fact that many people look at Paul's conversion and say "I wish God would hit me with lightning...then I'd be like Paul and become a saint too."

But we KNOW that throughout the rest of his life, he struggled.  Unfortunately, sometimes we think of Paul like we think of Mary...automatons who had some religious experience, and so had no doubts and no real pains moving forward, like they just floated on air from that religious experience that they had.

"Paul the Apostle", though, shows the reality of being a disciple - struggle, suffering, doubts, tormented at times by thoughts of things done wrong in the past...and yet, despite this, Paul perseveres.  THAT is holiness.  And THAT is achievable for you and I as well.  

Satan gets so many people to give up by thinking that having doubts and fears means you are not a saint.  This film is in accordance with the testimony of the Saints and the Church, and thus gives people HOPE.

Anyone who has ever had any kind of religious conversion experience like St. Paul's getting hit by lightning KNOWS that the "religious high" never lasts - but for some reason we think it DID for Paul?  The guy was shipwrecked, beaten, scourged, stoned almost to death, harassed - if we think that he experienced that without difficulty, we deceive ourselves.

Therefore, I find James Faulkner's portrayal of Paul to be COMPLETELY in alignment with what the Church and her saints ACTUALLY teach about the reality of Christian living.  I thus find Faulkner's Paul to be a perfect antidote to the sugary preaching that seems to dominate our airwaves.  If the "Prosperity Gosepl" is a real thing, Paul definitely missed out on it!

2) The second take away that I have is simply this: every day priests and religious are given a reading by the Church.  Usually it is a homily or a teaching from a saint.  One of my top five readings of the entire year is from a homily by St. Fulgentius given to us for the Feast of St. Stephen

I share an excerpt here: 

"love led Stephen to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition. 

Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exalts, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy."

Pope Benedict Stations - The Fourth Station

The 4th Station: Jesus meets His Mother

Meditation from Pope Benedict: “On Jesus’ Way of the Cross, we also find Mary, his Mother. During his public life she had to step aside, to make place for the birth of Jesus’ new family, the family of his disciples. She also had to hear the words: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers? … Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is brother, and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:48-50). Now we see her as the Mother of Jesus, not only physically, but also in her heart. Even before she conceived him bodily, through her obedience she conceived him in her heart. It was said to Mary: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son. He will be great and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:31ff.). And she would hear from the mouth of the elderly Simeon: “A sword will pierce through your own soul” (Luke 2:35). She would then recall the words of the prophets, words like these: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he was like a lamb that is led to slaughter” (Isaiah 54:7). Now it all takes place. In her heart she had kept the words of the angel, spoken to her in the beginning: “Do not be afraid, Mary” (Luke 1:30). The disciples fled, yet she did not flee. She stayed there, with a Mother’s courage, a Mother’s fidelity, a Mother’s goodness, and a faith which did not waver in the hour of darkness: “Blessed is she who believed” (Luke 1:45). “Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). Yes, in this moment Jesus knows: he will find faith. In this hour, this is his great consolation.”

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations - The Third Station

The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

Pope Benedict: “Man has fallen, and he continues to fall: often he becomes a caricature of himself, no longer the image of God, but a mockery of the Creator. Is not the man who, on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among robbers who stripped him and left him half-dead and bleeding beside the road, the image of humanity par excellence? Jesus’ fall beneath the Cross is not just the fall of the man Jesus, exhausted from his scourging. There is a more profound meaning in this fall, as Paul tells us in the Letter to the Philippians: “though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men… He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). In Jesus’ fall beneath the weight of the Cross, the meaning of his whole life is seen: his voluntary abasement, which lifts us up from the depths of our pride. The nature of our pride is also revealed: it is that arrogance which makes us want to be liberated from God and left alone to ourselves, the arrogance which makes us think that we do not need his eternal love, but can be the masters of our own lives. In this rebellion against truth, in this attempt to be our own god, creator and judge, we fall headlong and plunge into self-destruction. The humility of Jesus is the surmounting of our pride; by his abasement he lifts us up. Let us allow him to lift us up. Let us strip away our sense of self-sufficiency, our false illusions of independence, and learn from him, the One who humbled himself, to discover our true greatness by bending low before God and before our downtrodden brothers and sisters.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations - The Second Station

The second station: “Jesus is given His Cross”.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: "Jesus, condemned as an imposter king, is mocked, but this very mockery lays bare a painful truth. How often are the symbols of power, borne by the great ones of this world, an affront to truth, to justice and to the dignity of man! How many times are their pomps and their lofty words nothing but grandiose lies, a parody of their solemn obligation to serve the common good! It is because Jesus is mocked and wears the crown of suffering that he appears as the true King. His scepter is justice (cf. Psalm 45:7). The price of justice in this world is suffering: Jesus, the true King, does not reign through violence, but through a love which suffers for us and with us. He takes up the Cross, our cross, the burden of being human, the burden of the world. And so he goes before us and points out to us the way which leads to true life."

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations - First Station

Over the next 14 days, I’ll be sharing a station each day.

The reflections are from BEAUTIFUL meditations written by now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

First station: Jesus is condemned to death.

“The Judge of the world, who will come again to judge us all, stands there, dishonored and defenseless before the earthly judge. Pilate is not utterly evil. He knows that the condemned man is innocent, and he looks for a way to free him. But his heart is divided. And in the end he lets his own position, his own self-interest, prevail over what is right. Nor are the men who are shouting and demanding the death of Jesus utterly evil. Many of them, on the day of Pentecost, will feel “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37), when Peter will say to them: “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God … you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law” (Acts 2:22ff.). But at that moment they are caught up in the crowd. They are shouting because everyone else is shouting, and they are shouting the same thing that everyone else is shouting. And in this way, justice is trampled underfoot by weakness, cowardice and fear of the dictate of the ruling mind-set. The quiet voice of conscience is drowned out by the cries of the crowd. Evil draws its power from indecision and concern for what other people think." - Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 2005

Monday, March 19, 2018

Local mega-church

Picked up a flyer from a local mega church

They have a team of people come to your home to tell you what is expected of those who join their church

to rephrase: "we have church laws, a catechism, a hierarchy, and we don't think that it is by Scripture alone"

Parishioner, former Lutheran pastor, on his journey to Catholicism

As I said below, the audio got destroyed from my homily this weekend.  In lieu of that, here's a presentation a parishioner gave on his journey from being a Lutheran pastor to joining the Catholic Church

Your NCAA bracket, like your Lent, is destroyed!

Homily audio was completely unusable this weekend do to wifi interference

gist: Everyone's NCAA basketball brackets are shredded. Places offer new opportunities to enter new brackets (Sweet Sixteen brackets) the following weekend.

Most people's Lenten promises are shredded. We face two weeks left of Lent. Begin again. Make these final two weeks of Lent the best final two weeks of Lent you've ever had. Double down on your prayer. Did you promise 10 minutes? Do 20. Did you give up candy? Give up soda too!

We see in the Gospel today a theme throughout Holy Week - Jesus shows us His human will is pulling him in a different direction from His Father's Will. He will repeat this in the garden and on the Cross.

Our will often does the same thing. We know the Father's Will but we are pulled in another direction. RESIST! FIGHT BACK! Deny yourself these final two weeks of Lent and come to Easter resurrected with Christ!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Father, the person with the mental illness that sits in the back of Church smells bad

Every Catholic parish has people in it who are battling and living with mental illness.  I have a person at one of my parishes who is that way.  This person spiraled into some form of mental illness when her mother died, long before I arrived to the parish.  She has no family and no one else to turn to, and it is likely that she had some kind of serious breakdown when she lost her mother who was also her last true friend.

She says inappropriate things to people at times as she moves from one place to the next around town.  She's been thrown out of McDonald's and the hospital and so forth.  She can certainly be a nuisance, but with some firm love, and repeating instructions to her over and over, she understands that she's not to be up and talking with people while she's at Church, nor is she to greet people at the door.

We've done some pretty awesome stuff at the parish to help her out, and it has been pretty amazing to see a lot of parishioners pitch in to help.  She was going to be evicted from her home, but we were able to stave that off by going over and cleaning out her house which had years of trash in it.  We were able to get her into government housing, and she's doing a lot better.

So yesterday a parishioner came to me and said "Father, some parishioners have told me to tell you that ________ still smells bad at Mass"

And here's the point of all this: my response: "Tell those parishioners to invite her out to dinner"

Mental illnesses are certainly assisted by counseling and medication, but I'm convinced that a lot of the struggles out there that people have with mental illness would be cured, or at least greatly improved by love.  By people inviting others out to a meal, by visiting them, by talking to them.  "Hey _______, how are you?"  Those kinds of simple things.

If you take _______ out to dinner, will she say something inappropriate?  Maybe.  But every show and movie you watch says something inappropriate too.  Who cares that she might say something inappropriate?

We need a lot more people caring for each other, and a lot less people who see other people who are struggling and just call the cops, the government, or tell their priest to do something about it.

But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight.  He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him.  The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’  Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”  He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”  

Sunday, March 4, 2018

"Well, we have to do SOMEthing for invalidly married couples!"

In the "Communion for those in invalid marriages debate" the most detached-from-reality statement is: "We have to do SOMEthing for them"

The logical restatement of that claim is "we are currently doing nothing for invalidly married couples"

But in my parishes (and probably every other parish in the world) they can:

Participate in Bible studies
Join and pray with us at Mass
Hear the Word of God proclaimed and preached
Participate in religious ed
Receive charitable assistance
Receive individual or couple counseling from the pastor
Pray in our unlocked churches throughout the day
Participate in our social activities
Go on our parish retreats
Join us for processions
Pray with us during our communal rosaries
Pray with us during our hours of adoration

and about 14,000 other things

Any bishop or priest who says we aren't currently doing anything for couples in invalid marriages has been away from parish life for too long and needs to be reminded of what is happening on the ground