Monday, November 28, 2022

A Helpful Article on Whether Catholics Are Allowed to Attend Invalid Marriages

(Note from Fr. Hollowell: "This article first appeared in the magazine "Homiletic and Pastoral Review" in the February edition from 1988.  It has been republished on this blog with the permission of "Homiletic and Pastoral Review")


Participation in Invalid Marriages

An article from Homiletic & Pastoral Review
February 1988

By Rev. Regis Scanlon

How long has it been since you preached or heard from the pulpit that it is evil for a Catholic to marry in a ceremony not approved by the Church? Perhaps fear of publicly embarrassing someone in the pews and belief that these invalidly married Catholics may be in good conscience has silenced preaching against invalid marriages. This new sympathy toward invalid marriages is not without grave risks. Couples living in invalid marriages could remain blind to the truth that they are really (objectively) living in adultery or fornication and that "these are the sins which provoke God's wrath" (Col. 3:5-6). The ultimate danger here is that invalidly-married Catholics will not heed St. Paul's warning that "God will judge fornicators and adulterers" (Heb. 13:4) and "those who do such things (impurity) will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:19-21). A fact that must not be ignored today is that a number of these Catholics die cut off from the sacraments of the Church because they are still living in an invalid marriage. The impossibility of reconciling a number of these invalid marriages in the Catholic Church, along with the difficulty of abandoning an invalid marriage once a family is formed, argues for a prompt and honest response to these marriages right from the start. Should a Catholic attend such a wedding ceremony? Should he attend only the reception following the ceremony, or just send a gift or card? Or ought he do none of these? This article is an attempt to evaluate certain pastoral answers to these questions recently adopted by both pastors and laity in the United States.

Traditionally, Catholics did not participate in invalid marriage celebrations because it was seen as approval to adultery or fornication. As invalid marriages increased among Catholics, however, moralists began to de-emphasize the danger of scandal from these celebrations. For example, Msgr. Raymond T. Rosier, nationally known during the 1970s for his syndicated column answering moral questions for Catholics, stated that "Attendance at a wedding shower or giving a gift does not today mean approval of marriage."1 Msgr. Bosler implied that this applies to parents attending invalid weddings, since most relatives and friends would understand and sympathize with the parents. Once more, according to Msgr. Bosler, ". . . it is quite possible that more scandal might be given to Protestants by what could appear to be a lack of love and interest in their child were the parents to avoid the wedding."2




Parents must manifest disapproval

More than a decade later Fr. Frank Sheedy offered another version of this new pastoral approach in "Ask Me a Question" of the July 22, 1984 issue of Our Sunday Visitor. When Fr. Frank Sheedy was asked about the possibility of parents being present for their child's invalid wedding, he stated that "some pastors would permit a presence in such a case as long as the child was clearly aware that the parents disapproved of their action."3 According to Fr. Sheedy, attendance is justified on the ground that one should not "irretrievably cut off the relationship with a son or daughter."4 Two years later in the same column of Our Sunday Visitor Fr. Sheedy commented more extensively on the wisdom of attending an invalid marriage of a divorced person in these words: There are three things that have to be considered here. One, we cannot cooperate in the wrong of another. Thus it would be forbidden for a Catholic to take an active part (bridesmaid, best man, etc.) in such a wedding. Second, one cannot give seeming approval to an illicit act. Third is family harmony, which is particularly important for parents and siblings. If the person is fully aware of their disapproval of such a ceremony, I would permit parents and siblings to attend so that family lines of communication may be kept open and the door not closed. Other relatives and friends I would counsel to avoid the ceremony but attend the reception. This way they let the person know that while not approving of his or her actions, they still care for the person and do not want to end the relationship. People who have followed this counsel tell me that it works well. However, there may be a case where an uncle, aunt or godparent might feel obliged to attend the wedding for the sake of family harmony. This would be permitted as long as the Catholic relative was truly aware of personal disapproval.5

This pastoral advice of Fr. Sheedy, which permits Catholics to attend invalid marriages, is similar to the official position of a number of dioceses in the United States. Fr. Charles Bober of the Pittsburgh Diocese, for example, states that: There is a PastoralManual in use within the Diocese of Pittsburgh. It states that "As a rule, Catholics should not attend or participate in marriage ceremonies which are invalid. However, when such attendance cannot be construed as approval and when there are" serious reasons for attendance (such as retention of Christian ties of family or friendship, or the founded hope of contact for future reconciliation) such attendance may be justified."6

The present practice of Catholics attending invalid marriages in the United States goes far beyond any limits set down by recent pastoral moralists and diocesan statutes. If one scans the wedding announcements in the societal section of one's home-town newspaper, he will find Catholic names listed time and again as best men, bridesmaids, formal attendants, and ushers at weddings not approved by the Church. Reports of Catholics being ridiculed by family members for not attending invalid marriages of relatives indicates that a type of reverse legislation has taken root. The unwritten rule now seems to be that the Catholic must attend the invalid wedding of a loved one, and the exception, for which the Catholic will receive much flack, is to avoid these celebrations. Let us evaluate this new pastoral approach permitting parents to attend the invalid marriages of their children by examining the theories of Msgr. Bosler and Fr. Sheedy.




Bible reflects two types of scandal

In order to clearly understand the question about scandal in relation to attending invalid weddings, one must first recall that there are two types of scandal mentioned in Sacred Scripture. There is the scandal arising out of evil mentioned by Jesus Christ in a well-known passage from the Bible: "Scandals will inevitably arise, but woe to him through whom they come. He would be better off thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than giving scandal to one of these little ones" (Luke 17:1-2). Then, there is the scandal from good actions which comes from Christ himself (Luke 2:34). This second type of scandal involves the truth that, like Christ, all Christians must suffer and die rather than yield to sin to attain eternal life. This is the scandal of the cross (Matt. 16:21-27). About this kind of scandal Jesus says: "Blest is the man who finds no stumbling block in me" (Matt. 11:16). In today's materialistic and permissive society, the only absolute imperative seems to be the avoidance of pain. Following the sexual revolution, too many Catholics in the United States believe that it is wrong to require children to suffer for the sake of chastity and purity. Because parental avoidance of weddings usually involves both parents and children in the pain of misunderstanding and rejection, parental avoidance of weddings is a "cultural heresy."7 Consequently, Msgr. Bosler fears that avoidance of a child's invalid wedding by parents, out of fidelity to Christian Law, will be interpreted by others as a lack of love and interest in their child.

Msgr. Bosler, however, confuses the scandal of the cross with the scandal of evil. For it has never been the Christian philosophy of love to yield to impurity and infidelity in the face of misunderstanding so that others might not feel rejected. If it had been, John the Baptist would have never enraged the feelings of Herodias at the cost of his own life over the matter of her adultery (Mark 6:14-29 and Matt. 14:1-12), nor would Saints Agnes and Maria Goretti have been honored as Christian Martyrs for infuriating their suitors by rejecting their sexual advances. In other words, if the early Christians had compromised Christ's teaching on chastity to spar the feeling of others, Christianity would have never made it to the twentieth century. Scandal arising from following the Law of Christ is not only permitted, it is even desirable! Karl Rahner was correct when he stated that in our pluralistic modem world people should be encouraged to give witness to Christianity "even if their environment is scandalized."8

Msgr. Hosier's theory, that parental attendance at invalid weddings does not mean approval nor cause scandal, hinges entirely upon his claim that even if the parents attend these invalid wedding celebrations, friends and relatives will still understand that the parents disapprove of the invalid marriage. Msgr. Bosler probably thought that the faith of Catholics in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s was so strong that almost all Catholics believed that marrying invalidly was evil. The difficulty with Msgr. Hosier's theory today is that recent parochial studies following the sexual revolution show that many Catholics in the United States no longer believe that marrying invalidly is evil. Consequently, it makes little sense today to claim that relatives and friends of Catholic parents who attend invalid marriages will understand that these parents disapprove of these marriages.9




Some approve invalid marriages

What is even more damaging to Msgr. Hosier's theory is the fact that the change among Catholics from disapproval to approval of invalid marriages surfaces about a decade or so after Msgr. Bosler first began advising Catholics through the public media to attend the invalid marriages of then- loved ones. It is most difficult to believe that this change on the part of Catholics toward approving invalid marriages is not in some way linked to Catholics attending invalid marriages for the past ten years or more. It certainly appears that Msgr. Bosler was wrong when he advised that attending invalid marriages does not mean approval and does not cause scandal. Whatever credibility Msgr. Hosier's theory had decades ago, it certainly has less today! Proof that Msgr. Hosier's (no scandal) theory has lost its appeal is that recent moralists, like Fr. Sheedy, insist that the children be made "clearly aware" that the parents disapprove of the marriage before the parents attend the wedding celebrations. Obviously, the need for clarification implies that scandal will be caused. The explanation to the child by the parents is supposed to cancel or wipe out the scandal from parental attendance at the wedding celebrations. The problem here, however, is that it is impossible for parents to make the child "clearly aware" of parental disapproval of the invalid marriage when the child knows full well that the parents are attending the wedding celebrations.

One should recall St. Anthony of Padua's sound advice about teaching morality when he stated that "actions speak louder than words."10 It may be possible for parents to convince then: son or daughter that they disapprove of the invalid wedding, but these parents will not convince their child that they seriously disapprove. Any high school teacher knows that the only way to inform students that you are serious about anything is to back up words with action. Similarly, the only way for parents to convince their child that they seriously disapprove of the invalid marriage is to avoid the wedding celebrations altogether. If one follows Fr. Sheedy's pastoral advice, however, not only will actions supporting parental disapproval be lacking, but, instead, the parent's actions will contradict their words of disapproval. When words and actions collide, the best that can be hoped for is that the child will be confused, and the worst that can happen is that the child will be more influenced by the actions than by the words. The same must be said for Fr. Sheedy's advice that the friends and relatives might avoid the wedding ceremony, but attend the wedding reception. Recall that Fr. Sheedy required, as a necessary condition for parental attendance of the wedding celebrations, that the child be "fully," "truly," or "clearly aware" of parental disapproval. Inconsistency, whether it be in words or actions, can never be a basis for clarity.




We cannot cooperate in a sin

But there is something more than scandal that is fundamentally wrong with attending an invalid wedding celebration. Fr. Sheedy, himself, stated that, first of all, "we cannot cooperate in the wrong of another." It would be illicit, then, to formally cooperate in the evil act of adultery or fornication by cooperating in an invalid marriage. Thus, as Fr. Sheedy says, "it would be forbidden for a Catholic to take an active part (bridesmaid, best man, etc.) in such a wedding." Fr- Sheedy, however, must be limiting his consideration of the couple's formal act of adultery or fornication just to the formal exchange of invalid marriage vows since he limits formal cooperation in this act of adultery or fornication just to being a formal member of the wedding party. But the formal act of adultery or fornication of an invalidly-marrying couple certainly includes the attempted consummation of these invalid wedding vows in the couple's act of sexual intercourse on the night of the wedding. It is precisely the promise of this act which makes the invalid wedding ceremony evil.

Now, according to sound traditional moral theology, if one "concurs" in the will and attention of another doing an evil act, or, if one's own action "influences" the evil act of another, then, one is formally cooperating in evil. "Consequently, anyone who concurs in the will and intention of an invalidly marrying couple to have sexual intercourse on the night of their wedding, or anyone who influences such an act of sexual intercourse, is formally cooperating in adultery or fornication. It is obvious, however, that: giving away the bride; throwing rice and kisses; giving hugs and handshakes of support; sending congratulatory cards and gifts; and even singing and dancing at the following reception all concur in the will and intention of the couple to complete their wedding vows with the act of sexual intercourse on the night of their wedding. Because these actions all encourage the invalidly-marrying couple to some degree (be it ever so slight) to consummate their invalid marriage on the night of their wedding, they all influence the couple's act of adultery or fornication. All who knowingly do such things, therefore, are formally cooperating in the evil act of adultery or fornication. Some Catholics believe that they are justified in attending an invalid marriage because they intend to support the invalidly-marrying couple, but not the invalid marriage, itself. But these Catholics intend to support the invalidly marrying couple by means of supporting (attending) the invalid marriage. And to do so is to adopt an old pagan theory that the end justifies the means, which was rejected by St. Paul (Rom. 3:8) and by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical, Humanae Vitae, when the Pope stated that "it is not licit, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil so that good may follow therefrom."l2 Against the theory that one can have a good reason to formally cooperate hi evil, Genicot said that "formal cooperation hi sin is always illicit." and Bernard Raring stated that "It is never permitted, directly or indirectly, to cooperate in an act which is in itself evil, even though one anticipates the very greatest good as a result of the act."13



End does not justify means

Sometimes the wrong of formal cooperation in a specific evil act can be more easily seen when it is paralleled with formal cooperation in another act which is more obviously evil - like abortion. What pastor or moral theorist, for example, would advise a disapproving husband or parent to show up at the abortion clinic to hold his wife or daughter's hand and comfort her through the ordeal of abortion to support her (but not the abortion!), or to avoid irretrievably cutting off his relationship with her? Yet, this parallels the pastoral advice to Catholics which states that they should attend the invalid marriage of their loved ones to support them or to avoid irretrievably cutting off their relationship with them.

Influencing, supporting, concurring in, or celebrating the evil act of adultery or fornication by formally cooperating in an invalid marriage out of a so-called motive of love is also inconsistent with the gospel. No one loved sinners more than Jesus Christ, yet he avoided their evil acts entirely. While Jesus Christ did not shun Mary Magdalene, he certainly did shun her sin of impurity, and he ordered her to do the same when he said: "But from now on, avoid this sin" (John 8:11). If a Catholic attends an invalid wedding of a loved one, attends the reception following the ceremony, or just sends a congratulatory card or gift, he cannot claim he is acting out of love, because, as St. Paul states, "Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but with the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6). Love is always honest!

The idea of a Christian cooperating in the evil act of adultery or fornication by attending an invalid marriage seems so contrary to correct reasoning and Sacred Scripture that one wonders why so many Catholics today attempt to justify it. Fr. Sheedy expresses the main reason when he stated that one should not "irretrievably cut off the relationship with a son or daughter." When Catholic parents have to say "no" to their children and break the unity and peace of the family, the Catholic parents often feel that they are the ones who are doing something wrong and un-Christian. It is at these times that the reason must prevail over emotion. Catholics must recall that, while honesty and chastity are absolute moral values for which a Christian may even have to give his life (St. John the Baptist, St. Agnes, St. Maria Goretti, etc.), filial friendship or family unity is not. Our Lord, himself, has said: Do not suppose that my mission on earth is to spread peace. My mission is to spread, not peace, but division. I have come to set a man at odds with his father, a daughter with her mother, daughter-in-law with her mother-in-law: in short, to make a man's enemies those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother, son or daughter, more than me is not worthy of me. he who will not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of me. (Matt. 10:34-38)

As painful as it is, invalidly-marrying couples must clearly understand that insofar as they reject the moral teaching of Jesus Christ concerning the sixth commandment, it is Christ's will mat they be separated from then- parents, the Christian community, and even Christ himself. In the same way the parents must understand that it is Christ's will that the parents embrace the cross of division rather than lay it down in a false gesture of moral unity. As the primary teachers of their children in the Catholic faith, parents have the solemn responsibility to clearly teach to their children the truth that sin separates one from Christ. So if the invalidly-marrying son or daughter interprets parental avoidance of the wedding celebrations as a sign of her separation from the Christian community of her parents, then this is good - because it is the truth! Again, there is no way to clearly communicate this truth to an invalidly-marrying son or daughter other than by avoiding the wedding celebrations altogether. What must not be overlooked here is that it is the rejection of the gospel by the invalidly-marrying son or daughter that is the primary cause of separation, not Christ or the parents. The claim on the part of pastoral moral theorists, therefore, that parental attendance at invalid weddings is justified on the grounds that the parents should not "irretrievably cut off' their children must be rejected as false and as bad psychology. The notion of parents "irretrievably cutting off' their son or daughter merely by following their own conscience turns out to be a case of inverted logic. Who is cutting off whom? No one is demanding that the parents shun their invalidly-marrying child, but only that they shun the marriage. As long as Mom and Dad keep the lines of communication open from their side, no one is being irretrievably cut off. If a son or daughter, however, refuses to associate with the parents following the wedding, he or she is cutting off the parents, not vice versa. It is downright immoral to make the parents feel guilty for following their consciences, especially when their consciences are formed according to Christ and his Church. It is the children who are out of step with the gospel, not the parents. Let up put the responsibility for the break-up where it belongs. The very justification offered by those who favor the new pastoral approach fosters immaturity in the young by stripping them of responsibility for their own actions.




Adults suffer moral defeatism

Although the new pastoral theorists do not state it, they could be yielding to popular pragmatic parental thinking which goes something like this: "My son (or daughter) is going to marry outside the Church anyway, so we might as well make the best of a bad situation." While this course of action may appear to be a benevolent act of diplomacy and prudence, it presumes that the son or daughter will do evil. This attitude fits so well a culture in which numerous minor seminaries, aspirancy convents, and Catholic schools have close even though these institutions had more students than when they originally opened. The main problem here is not with the young, but with the adults who are suffering from moral defeatism. Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible for a son or daughter to master their sexual desires and heroically follow Christ's teaching on chastity and marriage. It is even possible for a son or daughter to call off a marriage prior to the wedding ceremony, or to reverse it soon after. But this is likely to occur only when parents struggle with their children to get them to do good and avoid evil because they expect their children to succeed. If pastors and moral theorists are to reverse the plague of invalid marriages among Catholics in the United States today, they must avoid a pastoral approach in these matters that "throws in the towel" on the moral life of our children. Rather, the pastors and moral theorists must adopt an approach which encourages adults to hope in the young by giving them the opportunity to be responsible for their own moral actions. But for this to be possible, both parents and children must be made clearly aware of the evil of invalid marriages and the immorality of formal cooperation in these celebrations. This means that pastors must engage in some tough preaching and teaching from the pulpit This will be somewhat unpopular, but part of the pastor's job is preaching the word is "... to stay with the task whether convenient or inconvenient" (2 Tim. 4:2). This is surely part of the burden of the gospel, but the young are worth it!



Footnotes

1 Raymond T. Bosler, What a Modern Catholic Believes About Moral Problems (Chicago: The Thomas More Press, 1971), p. 73.

2 Bosler, p. 71.

3 Fr. Frank Sheedy, "Ask Me a Question," Our Sunday Visitor (July 22, 1984), p. 11.

4 Fr. Frank Sheedy, "Ask Me a Question," Our Sunday Visitor (July 22, 1984), p. 11.

5 Fr. Frank Sheedy, "Ask Me a Question," Our Sunday Visitor (May 11, 1986), p. 18. My underline.

6 Charles Bober, "Questions for Fr. Bober," Pittsburgh Catholic (June 6, 1986), p. 4.

7 Daniel E. Pilarczyk, "On Preaching Heresy," America (February 22, 1986), p. 135.

8 Karl Rahner and Herbert Borgrimler, Theological Dictionary (New York: Crossroads, 1981), p. 465.

9 James S. Young, "The Divorced in the Parish Community Today," New
Catholic World (November/December, 1985), pp. 272-275.

10 St. Anthony of Padua, Sermon, 1,226, in The Liturgy of the Hours, vol. 3 (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1975), p. 1470.

11 Ed. Genicot, S.I. etlos. Salsmans, S.l.Jnstitutiones Theologiae Moralis, Caput 11 §6,235, Notiones, editio decimaseptima ed. A. Gortebeck, S.I. vol. 1 (Brussels: Uitgeveriz Universum, N.V. 1951), pp. 184-185; Bernard Raring, C.SS.R., The Law of Christ, vol. 1 trans, by Edwin G. Kaiser, C.PP.S. (Westminister, MD: The Newman Press, 1963), p. 293.

12 Pope Paul VI, "On the Regulation of Birth (Humanae Vitae)" No. 14 (Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1968), p. 9.

13 Genicot, Asserta. 1, p. 185; Haring p. 293.


Sunday, November 20, 2022

"We are not allowed to write anyone off" Homily for Christ the King 2022

"We are not allowed to write anyone off" - Homily for Christ the King 2022

 

Christ the King desires to save everyone through the Church that He founded, the Catholic Church, and that salvation is accomplished most specifically through the Sacraments of the Church.

 

But we, as Catholics, are not allowed to write anyone off…like the Good Thief hanging on the Cross next to Jesus Christ, Christ desires to say to EVERYONE “This day you will be with me in paradise”

 

As a priest new to the Terre Haute area about 10 years ago, I was called to Union hospital and there was a man who was dying.  He had never been baptized but I was called because this man had told the nurses that he wanted to become Catholic.  I baptized him on his hospital bed, gave him the Sacrament of Confirmation and then his first Holy Communion and then gave him anointing of the sick.  That gentleman died the next day.

 

Again, no matter how far people might seem to our human eyes to be away from God…we are not allowed to write anyone off from being able to be saved.

 

Jesus’ Kingdom is already breaking out in the world through all the gifts that come from the Catholic Church…let us continue to proclaim the good news that everyone is invited into Christ’s Kingdom, and let us remember that we are never allowed to give up on anyone, no matter how far away from God they might seem to our human eyes.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

"Catholic and Married Outside The Catholic Church" - Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Marriage Outside the Catholic Church Without the Bishop’s Permission” 

Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time


We hear in our first reading from the Prophet Malachi “Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven”

Next weekend is the last Sunday in Ordinary Time before beginning the new Church year with the First Sunday of Advent.  The readings, as the Church year comes to a close every year, focus on the end of the world and the 4 last things…death judgment Heaven and Hell.

 

There is one thing I would like to focus on this weekend.  Sister Lucia, who died in 2005, was one of 3 visionaries at Fatima, and she said toward the end of her life: “The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.”

 

And so I would like to address one specific situation this weekend and that situation is this: if you were Catholic at the time of your marriage, and were married outside the Catholic Church without the Archbishop’s permission, please do not take Holy Communion but rather set up a meeting with me so that I can help you work through the process to have your marriage recognized by the Catholic Church.  There is one exception, but I would like to explain that exception privately.

So, again, there are two conditions that I would like to stress:

1)    If you were Catholic at the time of your marriage

2)    And were married outside the Catholic Church without the Archbishop’s permission

Please do not take Holy Communion but rather see me so that I can help you work to have your marriage recognized by the Catholic Church.

 

Again, as our First Reading says, “the day is coming, blazing like an oven” and combined with Sr. Lucia’s prediction that the final battle will be over marriage and the family, I beg you to see me if you have been married outside the Catholic Church without the Archbishop’s permission.

 

Please know that I pray daily for all of you, my parishioners, and for all the marriages in my parishes. 


Sunday, November 6, 2022

"Plenary Indulgences" a homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022

 

“Plenary Indulgences” - Homily for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

In this month of November, Catholics are especially mindful of our deceased who have gone before us.  Much like the brother in our first reading today from the book of Maccabees who, while being tortured, says "It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him.”

Did you know that you can assist the dead in a very concrete way through plenary indulgences?  Clearly plenary indulgences got a bad name during Martin Luther’s revolution, but the Catholic Church has ALWAYS strictly forbidden the selling of any indulgences.

So what is a plenary indulgence?  It is the complete removal of all punishment due to sin.  Sometimes, even though we confess a sin, we still have earthly consequences for that sin, and likewise the souls in purgatory are being purified in the fire of love so that they can one day enter Heaven.

So how do you go about earning a plenary indulgence?  The first thing to consider is that a plenary indulgence can only be applied to yourself or someone who has died.  You can also only gain one plenary indulgence per day.

The first thing you need to do for a plenary indulgence is go to confession once a month.

The next step to earning a plenary indulgence on a day is that you have to go to Mass on that day.

The next step to earning a plenary indulgence on a day is you have to pray 1 Our Father and 1 Hail Mary for the Pope’s intentions.  You also have to pray for a complete detachment from mortal and venial sin.

And then you have to do, each day, something that merits a plenary indulgence, and there are pamphlets in the narthex about the easiest ways to earn a daily plenary indulgence, those 4 things being either praying in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament for 30 minutes, reading the Bible for 30 minutes, praying a rosary silently in Church or out loud in a family setting, and the fourth is walking the stations of the Cross in our Church and praying them.

We all know people who have died that we are worried about.  We have the opportunity, every day, to earn a plenary indulgence either for ourselves or someone who has died.  This November, and all throughout the year, let us pray for the dead, and assist them with our prayers. 

Sunday, October 30, 2022

"The Law of Gradualness" - Homily for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 

“The Law of Gradualness” - Homily for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 

In our first reading today from the Book of Wisdom we hear that God rebukes offenders little by little.

Similarly, in the New Testament, Saint Paul tells the Corinthians “I could not address you as spiritual men, but as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it”

This is what is referred to in the Catholic Church as the “Law of Gradualness” – according to which people should be encouraged to grow closer to God and His plan for our lives in a step-by-step manner, rather than expecting a person to jump from an initial conversion to perfection in a single step.

 

St. John Paul 2nd taught that this “Law of Gradualness” is Catholic, but Gradualism of the Law, (which wrongly suggests that there are different degrees or forms of God’s law for different individuals and situations) is not Catholic

I have experienced the law of gradualness in my own life for a long time.

God has slowly, in His mercy and His infinite love for me, revealed to me things that I did years ago that are sins, even grave sins, so that I can confess them and seek His pardon in the Sacrament of Confession and thus be reconciled to God. 

I used to take the Lord’s name in vain a lot…but I have confessed that sin when God revealed to me the gravity of that sin, and I have not taken the Lord’s name in vain since.

More recently, the Lord revealed to me the grave sin of gossip and calumny and slander, and so I have confessed those grave sins and have tried to move forward without committing those sins.

On the positive side as well, God has slowly revealed to me things that I can be doing to love God better, how to have a more radical care for the poor in my life, how I can lay down my life for my parishioners better, and like Zacchaeus in the Gospel today, I have realized that I too am able to give half of everything I take in to the poor.

God loves us more than we could ever imagine…and as we grow in love with God, he slowly, at our pace, is drawing us closer to Himself.

 

Let us thank God for the gentle ways, little by little, in which God is constantly drawing us closer to Himself. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

"The Preferential Option for the Poor" - Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 

“The Preferential Option for the Poor” – Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 

Our First reading today from Sirach almost exactly spells out the Catholic Church’s teaching on the preferential option for the poor.

 

In that first reading, Sirach says “Though not unduly partial toward the weak, yet the Lord hears the cry of the oppressed.

 

When the Church speaks about the need for each of us to have a preferential option for the poor, it says “the preferential option for the poor…must embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without health care and, above all, those without hope of a better future” (St. John Paul II as found in the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church”)

 

As Catholics, we also need to be working directly with the poor in our community.  There are all different types of poverty, not just monetary, but also spiritual poverty, and poverty of relationships.  What are we doing ourselves to encounter the poor face to face in an attempt to show them the love of Christ?

 

As Catholics, we might be tempted to say that the poor in our community are taken care of by the government, but the Catholic Church teaches that “The principle of subsidiarity, (which is caring for the poor locally) is opposed to welfare assistance…[because] the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies…”

 

As Catholics, we also need to be people who are supporting the poor all over the world, particularly supporting Catholic missionary efforts around the world, who are working with the poorest of the poor. 

 

The Catholic Church is clearly calling each one of us to do our own part, to have contact with the poor ourselves, and support the care of the poor throughout the world!

 

Let us embrace this call to care for the poor everywhere, and let us embrace that call with joy!

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 

“Both The New and The Old” Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

I have always been struck by the image of Moses with his arms propped up by Aaron and Hur that we hear about in our first reading, and how the battle changed whenever they lifted Moses’ arms.  I think a question we might ask would be why in the world would the battle hinge on whether or not Moses’ arms were raised?

And I think one reason is that God desires Israel to know that it is through God’s power that they win the victory.  And then the next question would be “Well, why does God desire to have Israel know that it is through God’s power that Israel wins their victories…is God some kind of egomaniac?”

And here it is important to understand a key thing: God is not an egomaniac; God still desires all of us to know that God is the power behind every victory for our own good AND the good of the whole world.  That is a super important point, and so I would like to repeat it: God desires that we know He is the power behind every victory for our own good and the good of the whole world.  God loves us and every person in the world, and desires that we see that we need God’s help always and everywhere.  Israel was always falling into the temptation of thinking they were accomplishing things on their own, and it is still a temptation for us…to think that we are capable of doing good WITHOUT God.

As we face a “battle” in our own day…the battle of bringing the Good News of Jesus to the culture around us, we need to both rely on our own God given creativity to think of new ways to reach out to the culture while at the same time trusting totally in the power of God.

In Matthew chapter 13 verse 52 Jesus commends those who bring out from the storehouse both the new and the old.  I hope that we as a parish are doing both new things to reach those around us, but also doing “old things” and two old things to help change the culture that I would like to start are a First Friday Devotion and a First Saturday devotion.

For first Fridays, starting Friday November 4th – Mass will be at Annunciation every First Friday of the month, along with all the other prayers for the First Friday devotion.  I have never done the First Friday Devotion, so I am looking forward to taking part.  We will have Mass and the prayers every first Friday, all year round.

Another thing that we will be bringing out of the storehouse of the old is a First Saturday devotion as well.  We will have Mass at 9 am at Annunciation on the first Saturday of each month all throughout the year, starting on Saturday, November 5th, along with the subsequent prayers required by the first Saturday devotion.  When I was a seminarian I did do this devotion, and found it to bear tremendous fruit in my spiritual life.

We will have pamphlets at Annunciation and St. Paul’s on the First Fridays explaining the devotion, and we will have pamphlets on First Saturdays at Annunciation and Saint Paul’s explaining the First Saturday devotion.  I hope to foster a spirit of both devotions again, in addition to all the new and creative ways that we are also seeking to reach people in new ways.  May we always remember, as St. Paul says, “We can all do things through Christ who is our strength” (Philippians 4:13)

Monday, October 10, 2022

"Washed in the River" - Homily for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

"Washed in the River" - Homily for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Like Naaman the Syrian in our first reading, who washed and was cleansed from leprosy in the Jordan, I washed in the river at Lourdes and was cured.  And like the leper who returns to give thanks, I want to publicly thank Jesus for healing me.

In thanking Jesus and the Blessed Mother for healing me, I also want to say that my brain tumor was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me and so I want to thank Jesus for the gift not just of my healing but also the gift of the tumor surgeries, radiation and chemo as well.  Almost nothing in my life is the same since my surgeries radiation and chemo, and I have realized that all those differences in my life since the surgeries radiation and chemo have been blessings!

I thought I was offering up my suffering for the victims of Catholic clergy sexual abuse, but I have realized that the number one person God used my suffering to help has been me.  St. Therese wrote that the best thing God could have done in her soul was “to have shown her her smallness”  And I would echo that in my own life as well…the greatest thing I learned through the tumor, radiation and chemo was my own smallness.

 

One of the first blessings after learning my own smallness was that I got off social media.  Another blessing was that my suffering got me to get rid of my smartphone, and it got me off tv.  Chemo got me eating healthier, and since I don’t have tv anymore I’ve been able to get tons more sleep.

All those changes in my life got me to start noticing my parishioners more.  I always just thought I was bad with names, but it turns out that in my case, when I cut a lot of the noise and distractions out of my life, I AM able to remember names, and pray for parishioners by name and be more present to parishioners and those living in my parish boundaries.

Chemo and radiation and the suffering also got me to realize how often I was talking about people not present, spreading gossip and committing all kinds of sins with my talk.  That realization has led me to make a promise to never talk about a person who is not present, unless it is to say something positive about that person.

I was and still am totally fine if I would die, but my tumor brought me to Lourdes and on that trip, in addition to the miraculous healing, I began to recognize God’s unwavering Love for me in that God answered all my thousands of prayers on that trip, and I began to see God’s love for me more clearly.

I think both of my parishes need a place where we can write down all the things we want to THANK God for.   We are really good about asking each other and the parish for prayers, but we are not very good about thanking God for blessings and miracles.  My prayer is that all of us, in the midst of the sufferings of our lives might realize two things:

1)     Your personal suffering can be offered up for other people and bear real fruit in their lives

2)     That God is able to use your personal suffering to help YOU, as I have just recently come to realize

Let us all resolve to give God thanks for all the miracles that He has worked in our lives, and wants to work in our future.  The Mass is the greatest way that we can give thanks to God…it is the way God desires most clearly to be thanked.  Eucharist means thanksgiving.  So let us give thanks to the Lord our God, because it is right and just.  May we be just like the leper who was healed, and let us return not just once, but again and again to Mass to say “thank you” to Jesus.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Finally for Free - "For Love Alone"

 This is a 15 minute film I originally purchased in 2015, and I am so glad that Grassroots Films has released it on Youtube!  It is a BEAUTIFUL film highlighting the beauty of Religious Life in the USA today.



Tuesday, October 4, 2022

"I no longer call you servants" Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time…From Servant to Friend

Jesus says at the end of our Gospel today: “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done all that we were obliged to do.'"

 

Those are harsh words from Jesus – but later on, at the Last Supper, Jesus says in John chapter 15 verse 15 “I no longer call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing.  I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from My Father.”

 

That is a MASSIVE swing from servant to friend!

 

So how do we grow in friendship with Jesus?

 

1)    Spend time with him each day and talk to Him in prayer, and even if you do not hear anything back, just be content to sit and rest in Jesus

 

2)    Love what and who Jesus Loves.  Jesus loves every human person.  Jesus also says he has a special place in his heart for the poor.  Do we love every human person, are we working and willing each person’s good, and do we love the poor?

 

3)    Remove anything from your life that is telling you that Jesus is not your friend.  If there are any songs or movies or shows or games or radio that are telling you that God doesn’t love you, stop immediately.

 

For some reason that we will only know when we die or when the Lord returns, God has allowed the Devil to suggest things to us in our mind.  Do not listen to that voice.  God always speak to us calmly and quietly, even when He is nudging us to confession.  The Devil is suggesting some combination of “Look what you’ve done”…”God loves some people but he does not love you” just ignore the voice of condemnation and listen to the quiet voice of God speaking to you

 

Jesus is clear at the Last Supper, He does not desire us to be His servant, He desires us to be His friend.  Let us take Him up on His offer!

St. Francis 2022

 

The Memorial of Saint Francis 2022

As I have stated before in Homilies and even gave a retreat on this topic last Fall, as I was going through Chemo at Fr. Meyer’s, I came across a collection of all the encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII and was struck particularly by his encyclical on the Saint we celebrate today…Saint Francis.  It is actually titled in English “On Saint Francis”

Just a few quotes from the encyclical:

11. “amidst the effeminacy of the time, Francis is seen to go about careless and roughly clad, begging his food from door to door, not only enduring what is generally deemed most hard to bear, the senseless ridicule of the crowd, but even to welcome it with a wondrous readiness and pleasure.

 

23. “you well know, venerable brethren, that no small alleviation is to be found in the institutes of St. Francis, if only they are brought back to their pristine state; for if they only were in a flourishing condition, faith and piety, and every Christian virtue would easily flourish; the lawless desire for perishing things would be broken; nor would men refuse to have their desires ruled by virtue

 

25. “We have always bestowed special care upon the Third Order of St. Francis…We exhort Christian men not to refuse to enroll themselves in this sacred army of Jesus Christ…(may you) strive to imitate (St. Francis)…Therefore take pains that the people may become acquainted with the Third Order and truly esteem it; provide that those who have the care of souls teach what it is,

how easily anyone may enter it,

with how great privileges tending to salvation it abounds,

and what advantages, public and private, it promises.”

 

That is why I am pursuing the Third Order Franciscans.  The plan is for me to make my promises in November.  Please pray for me, and I invite anyone who feels called to discern the 3rd order of St. Francis to pursue it as well.  There is a fraternity in Bloomington, there is a fraternity in Terre Haute.

 

St. Francis, pray for us.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Saint Augustine on Catholic Giving 50% of their income - homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Saint Augustine on Catholics Giving 50% of their income

As I was doing research for last weekend’s homily on the steward slashing out his take from the master’s bills, I also came across an interesting thing that Saint Augustine said.  St. Augustine said that the steward, in telling the person who owed 100 measures of oil to sit and write a new bill for 50 measures of oil…the meaning of that action is this…Jews were commanded by God to give 10% to God, but Catholics should give half of their income to God.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis assigns to each new priest a mentor priest who is not the newly ordained priest’s pastor, and so I met with him once a month for a year or so.  He said he always published his tax returns in the bulletin.

 

So my recent tax returns, for the year 2021 I had a total gross income of 34,485.  My charitable donations totaled $17,243.  I didn’t crunch the numbers until today, but it worked out that last year I gave away to charity exactly 50%.  The largest part was to Saint Paul’s and Annunciation, roughly 11,000 dollars to the 2 parishes, and another 2,500 dollars to FOCUS missionary efforts, 2,000 dollars to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis annual appeal, and then the rest to catholic charitable organizations working all over the world to help the poorest of the poor.

 

So why do I share this?  Don’t I know that Jesus says in Matthew chapter 6 that we should keep quiet when we give alms, and that we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, and that if we announce our giving, we have already received our reward?  I have made the decision, through prayer, to forego my reward as my mentor pastor 14 years ago, in order to inspire Catholics to open their hearts more to the poor.  Catholics are statistically at the bottom in terms of their giving …and so I am sharing my giving publicly.  We live in a community where we are mostly sheltered from having to step right over poor people sitting at our doors, as the rich man in today’s parable in our Gospel had to step right over the poor man Lazarus.  But we don’t have to look far to see the poor in our community.  And also, the Catholic Church challenges us to give to all parts of the world generously as well.  To give to help eliminate the deaths of 25,000 children who starve to death every day around the world, to give so that our parishes can help alleviate the needs of the poor in our local communities and also provide a beautiful place of refuge for the poor in our communities.

 

In chapter 6, verse 38 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”  Let us all examine our giving, and trust that when God dares us to outdo him in generosity, that God really will supply all our needs.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

What in the world is going on with this parable?!? Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022

 

 “What in the world is going on with this parable?”

This week, I fielded lots of questions from our youth groups about today’s parable, and the questions were understandable.  Why does Jesus appear to praising dishonesty?

I have done more research for this homily than any other homily in my life.  And I found the answer on Friday, just in the nick of time!  One of probably 20 commentaries I checked was the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, where they have the entire Catholic Bible, along with the readings for each day of the year.  The Bishops’ website is an awesome tool, and I highly recommend their website for going deeper into Scripture.

I found the answer in a footnote about the parable of the “dishonest steward”, which says this (and here I am paraphrasing): The parable of the dishonest steward has to be understood in light of the custom in Palestine at the time of Jesus where stewards would add an expected cut for themselves in addition to what their master charged.

The dishonesty of the steward refers to the fact that the steward squandered his master’s property through dishonesty.  The dishonesty does not refer to the steward adding on his own cut to the master’s charge.  The master then commends the steward who has decided to not take his, the steward’s, own portion, but only having them write out the amount that each owed the master.

The steward acts in this way in order to win over the debtors because the steward and master both know he is being dismissed from his position.  The parable, then, teaches the prudent use of one’s material goods in light of an imminent crisis.”

So that is the end of the note on the bishops’ website.  A modern example might be a stock broker who knows he is going to be fired, and decides he will cut out his own commission in order to build up a relationship of trust with his clients, so that when he loses his job, the clients might give him a recommendation for his next job.  The stock broker does not defraud his company.  And the steward in the parable does not defraud his master.

What is the application for us…I think one of the things that Jesus is trying to say to us with this parable is that we are always facing the real possibility that at any moment we could die.  Are we always worried about making money and building bigger barns to store it all in?  God has given us countless material blessings…do we hold on to the material blessings tightly, or do we share generously and freely with the poor? 

If we do share our money freely with the poor, the poor will be there on the day of judgment ready to explain to God how we helped them and we put their needs ahead of our own needs. And, lest we think we are buying the vote of a poor person for us on the day of judgment, St. Thomas Aquinas clarifies that those of us who give alms to the poor in order to obtain from them the assistance of their prayers do not give with the intent of buying their prayers; but by our giving generously to the poor we can inspire the poor to pray for us out of charity. (Summa, second part of the second part, question 100, article 3, reply to objection 2)

Lord, may you open our hearts to continue to grow in generosity toward the poor in our own community and all throughout the world.  Amen!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Our Lady of Sorrows Homily for 2022

Our Lady of Sorrows

When I was up at Mayo Clinic after my first brain surgery, it took me about 5 days to wake up.  I was only awake about 5 minutes each day, and the thing I remember seeing is my Mom at the foot of my bed.  Sometimes it was night and she was hunched over in a chair sleeping at my feet.  Other times she was praying a rosary.  A few weeks later I remember telling my friend Fr. Meyer as I was preparing to go the next morning into emergency surgery…I said “I know this is harder on my friends and family than it is me.”  And I meant my mom and dad first and foremost.

 

Mary too was at the foot of the Cross, and while my parents and family and myself are all sinners, Mary and Christ were both without sin.  So their love was even more perfect than my mother and family’s love for me, but also love does not really admit of degrees.

 

Saint Bernard in today’s office of readings says “Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart.  For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son”

 

Some of us here today might not know their mother.  Some of us here today may not have a good relationship with their mother.  And some of us here this morning may have a mother who has died.  But now our Blessed Mother sits in Heaven at the right side of her son Jesus.  She is now the mother of all of us, so whether we have a great relationship with our earthly mother or not, Mary desires nothing more than to intercede for us and our intentions.

 

Let us go to Mary with our needs and our intentions, asking Her to place our needs and petitions at the foot of Her Son, where once she watched him die, but now rejoices with Him in Heaven.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Bob Boyle Funeral Homily

 

Bob Boyle funeral homily

 

First of all to Rita, on behalf of all of us in this Church, it was an honor and a privilege to have a front row seat for your 69 years of married life with Bob.  The way you cared for him during his battle with Alzheimer’s, even taking a job as a receptionist at the Hermitage during Covid so that you could still be with him every day…heroic even falls short of describing what you did for Bob and how you loved him more than yourself.

 

Sean and Angie, Colleen and Mark, Molly and Ed, Kevin and Amy and Brian and Q, it was an also an honor and a privilege to see how you all supported Rita in your various ways.  In our first reading today we heard this “take care of your father when he is old, even if his mind fail, be considerate of him.”  You all lived that out in a special way that none of us who watched from a distance will ever forget.

 

The south side Catholic community is a village, and there is truth that it does take a village to raise children.  Melissa Allerd, Don Elbreg, Kirk Heisig, Myself, Matt Hollowell, Father Tony Hollowell, Kathy Marren, Mike Moylan, Jimmy Moylan, Ann Reece, Judy Reichmuth, Matt Tebbe, and Candy Thorn all spent significant time growing up at 421 Daffon Drive and that circle only expanded as the Boyle children grew older.

 

Brian started an annual golf tournament when Bob was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s with the intent of bringing Fathers and Sons together, and that golf tournament has impacted tons of Father-Son relationships, and most of those fathers and sons are here today.  The annual golf tournament got a write up in Golf Digest, and at the end of the article Bob shared:  "Thank God for my son. This trip is the best thing that ever happened to us."

 

Bob loved the Catholic Church.  He was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, some of whom are here today.  He was an active member of the Knights of Columbus.  He loved all things Irish, and Saint Patrick’s day was always his favorite day of the year.  He was a huge Notre Dame fan, which is a requirement for any Irish Catholic.

He spent most of his retirement in service to the Catholic Church.  He helped with technology here at St. Barnabas, and his kind Irish heart even allowed him to cross over into enemy territory to help at St. Jude with their technology as well!  He donated his time also to Roncalli High School, and IPS – teaching elementary computer technology.  Here at St. Barnabas, Bob also served as a reader for Masses, as a member of the Finance and Technology Committees, he served on the Parish Council, and, fittingly, he served as a marriage prep mentor to couples preparing for marriage at St. Barnabas. 

 

 

 

We hear about the summit of the Catholic Faith in our Gospel today. That center of the Catholic Church is the belief in Jesus Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.  The belief that Christ is really present, Body Blood Soul and Divinity at Mass made the Catholic Mass a non-negotiable for him and his family every weekend.  I remember coming to Saint Barnabas often after spending a Saturday night at the Boyle’s.  It was not even a question…Bob took Jesus’ words seriously and came with his family to Mass every week, and it formed the center of Bob’s life.  In our Gospel today Jesus says to a crowd “Amen Amen I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”  Bob ate the Body of Christ, and so we now commend Bob to Jesus, trusting that Jesus will keep his promise and raise Bob up on the last day.

 

Bob Boyle, know that we will continue to offer Masses for you and to pray for you.  Please pray for us.   

"Where is Heaven" - Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 2022

 

Where is Heaven? Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sam Harris, who is a celebrity in the atheist community, several weeks ago asked the question, “Where is Heaven anyway?” He then gave the response: “We have all these satellites in space and no one has even seen heaven”

 

Sam Harris echoed the now 60-year-old comment from Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin after the first manned spaceflight when Yuri said "I went up to space, but I didn't encounter God."

 

Saint Paul, however, in our 2nd reading today, gives us the only real and logical notion of Heaven and God when Saint Paul says “To the king of ages, invisible, the only God”  invisible means not able to be seen. 

 

Here is what Sam Harris and Yuri Gagarin and most atheists do not understand: time and space are finite concepts, and God is not limited by them.   The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph 2794 that when we pray “Our Father, who art in Heaven” Heaven does not mean a place and the Catechism continues “Our Father is not "elsewhere": God transcends everything we can conceive of”

 

I think Sam Harris is expressing a question that most Catholics have as well about Heaven and its location.

 

But we can rest assured that Heaven is real even though it is not present somewhere in the universe.  God made the universe, and time and space.  Heaven is occupied by the angels and all the saints who have died in a state of grace and, every person in Heaven is experiencing eternal and infinite bliss beyond the universe.

 

Lord, we ask tonight for the strength to continue to conform our lives to your plan, knowing that when we do that, it helps us both to experience peace in this life, even amidst great suffering, and also our conforming our lives to your plan will eventually allow us to enter the eternal and infinite bliss of seeing you face to face in Heaven.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Joyce Barrell funeral homily

 

First of all, I would like to thank every parishioner of Annunciation.  To try and list everyone who helped Joyce would be pointless because literally every parishioner helped Joyce in some way.

 

First of all, a lot of parishioners were involved in cleaning out her rental apartment.  Joyce had some sort of mental break when her mother died, and basically her apartment was frozen in time from when her mom died.  As we were cleaning out her rental 7 or 8 years ago, We found a lot of cards from Joyce’s mom to Joyce with the “Hallmark Lady who was always saying inappropriate things, was always wearing a hat and a coat and smoking.”  It occurred to me after seeing all of those cards that perhaps Joyce was in some way, in the deep recesses of her mind, keeping that connection to her mom alive by acting that character out every day, even though it got her thrown out of most of the establishments in Brazil!


 

The entire parish was involved because our St. Vincent DePaul Society paid for 3 dumpsters worth of trash to be hauled away from her apartment, parishioners helped mover her into the Brazil towers, parishioners straightened out her finances, parishioners did her legal work, parishioners helped her when it was time to move from Brazil towers to the nursing home, parishioners brought Joyce the Eucharist while she was in the nursing home.

 

Caring for Joyce Barrell is the single greatest act, on the part of a parish, that I have ever witnessed as a pastor.

 

And, in caring for Joyce, I think we all learned again the lesson that is all over the New Testament; caring for someone does not just help that person, and it is not just some tally mark that goes into our column only to be paid out to us at the Final Judgment; no, helping Joyce changed every single one of us, for the better, WHILE we were helping her.

 

Joyce Barrell, we will continue to pray for you.  Please pray for us!  Amen.

"The Church's Teaching on Contraception Brought Me Back to the Catholic Church"

 This is a talk given by Dr. Maria Bajuyo at one of my parishes 7 years ago.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Talk 5 Years Ago on ministering to people with gender issues

 I think this talk was one of my best so far, not because I planned it out that way, but because the Holy Spirit took over in some spots and allow me the opportunity to process some of the things that had happened over the first few years of my priesthood.  I hope it helps some of you.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Homily for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 2022

 

St. Bede provides us some comfort when we hear Jesus say in our Gospel today “anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple”  St. Bede says there is a difference between renouncing all of our possessions, which Jesus DOES ask us to do, and LEAVING all of our possessions, which Jesus only asks some people to do.

 

The people that Jesus asks to LEAVE their possessions are monks and nuns

 

So first of all, some of you here today might be hearing Jesus call you to LEAVE all your possessions and follow him.  Let me know at some point if you are hearing Jesus invite you to becoming a monk or a nun, and I can help answer any initial questions and connect you with people who will help you figure out where God is calling you to.

But most of us, myself included, are not monks or nuns, so the question remains from our Gospel today: what does it look like for me to RENOUNCE my possessions but not leave them all behind?

 

And elsewhere in the Gospels Jesus gives us some examples because there are an infinite number of ways that we can loosen our grip on our material possessions…

Matthew 5:40 Jesus says if someone asks for your coat, give them your coat and also your undercoat as well

Are we willing, at a moment’s notice, to give to someone who needs what we have?

 

Jesus also says if someone wants you to accompany them for a mile, Jesus instructs us to accompany them for 2 miles. 

Do we have friends or family who desire us to help them?  Nursing homes are awfully lonely places, do we go and visit family and friends there?  Do we visit fellow parishioners? 

Are there other ways, besides walking, that we can accompany those who need some of our time?  Time is a precious commodity in our culture…are we generous with our time?

We don’t necessarily need to leave all of our possessions behind, but I think if we are honest we can loosen on our grip on our possessions, on our money and our time.  If we don’t at least loosen our grip, we risk not being a disciple of Jesus.