Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Tuesday of the 20th week in Ordinary time, year C, 2022

 

The prophet Ezekiel in our first reading today says to a prince of a nation named Tyre “Because you are haughty of heart, you say, “A god am I!”

 

Archbishop Thompson, when he was dedicating Saint Paul’s in Greencastle last weekend, said we live in a culture where the temptation is for everyone to think of themselves as a god.

 

Our wealth and our technology tend to give us the impression that we ARE all powerful. 

 

But working with the poor, both the materially poor and also the spiritually poor and lonely are a great reminder that we serve a God who is especially mindful of the poor.  When we work with the poor, we are doing what God has asked us to do, and working with the poor has so many benefits for US. 

1) By cooperating with God, we are reminded that we are not God

2) By cooperating with God, we can glimpse His wisdom in setting up the world this way

3) By cooperating with God, we are changed by Him and become, over time, more and more like Him

 

We are not a god, as the Prince of Tyre thought, but by cooperating with the God, we become something better than a god which we can never be anyway, no, rather we have been adopted into the very Trinity of God, and as we grow in that relationship we see foreshadowings and glimpses of the eternal bliss that awaits us if we stay the course

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven Body and Soul, 2022

 

At the First Vatican Council which started in 1869 defined papal infallibility.  It has since been invoked explicitly in 2 instances.  One of the instances was in 1950 when Pope Pius the 12th wrote the encyclical Munificentimus deus which infallibly declared that the Blessed Mother was assumed body and soul into heaven.

 

Why just in 1950, almost 1900 years after the event took place?  I would like to read just an excerpt from his encyclical

 

"The holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ's faithful. They presented it more clearly. They offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly.

Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges. "It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."(17)

These words of St. John Damascene agree perfectly with what others have taught on this same subject.

 

We give thanks that we have a person who was only a human being already in Heaven, body and soul to intercede for us.  Mary please pray for us and for your whole Church!

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 

Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 

Jesus promises in our Gospel today: “From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three”

 

And I think in our own day, we see that happening at an accelerating pace.  The Name of Jesus Christ divides families.  Many of you here have had children not just leave the Church, but now have a disgust for the name of Jesus Christ.  And some of that, of course, is due to the behavior of priests, and also the behavior of those professing to be Catholic.

 

But also technology has exploded exponentially, and has provided the Devil access to our children in countless ways, ways that would have been unimaginable just a few short years ago.

 

Jesus mentions in our Gospel today that He has come to set the Earth on fire.  When the fire hits, may we and our children be like gold that has been tested in fire, may we become even more pure, and avoid becoming like the chaff in another of Jesus’ parables, where Jesus says the chaff will be burned up by the fire.

 

Amen

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Homily for Saint Lawrence 2022

 

Saint Lawrence 2022

 

Jesus says in our Gospel today “whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”

 

Jesus does not JUST say we should not give in to the sinful pleasures of this life, he says we should HATE the sinful pleasures of this life.

 

Saint John Chrysostom put it this way “When the soul invites us to things contrary to God we should turn our soul away with all our might”.  Saint John Chrysostom here is saying we should rip ourselves away any time we feel temptation to sin.

 

And today the Church celebrates the martyr Saint Lawrence who was told by the Roman Emperor to gather the treasures of the Church.  Saint Lawrence asked for three days, and went around gathering all the lame and blind and poor persons of the Church and presented them to the Emperor as the treasure of the Church.

 

He was martyred for this act.

 

Saint Lawrence illustrates what Saint Augustine says in regards to our line from the Gospel we have already been reflecting on about hating our life in this world.  He says “when no other option is given and when the persecutor threatens death and you must either disobey God’s law or depart from this life, then choose death.”

 

Most of us likely fall into the need to pull ourselves away with all our might from sinful temptations.  But some of us, at some point in our lives, might be given the ultimatum that Saint Lawrence faced: disobey God or die.  If that is ever the situation for any of us, may we choose to die rather than disobey God.

 

Saint Lawrence, pray for us!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Saint Dominic 2022

 

Saint Dominic 2022

 

Today, as I shared at the beginning of Mass, the Church celebrates today the witness of Saint Dominic.  He was the founder of what became known as the Order of Preachers, or the Dominicans for short.  Perhaps the most famous Dominican other than Saint Dominic is Saint Thomas Aquinas.  And St. Thomas Aquinas has an awesome take on our Gospel today where we see Jesus provide the tax for both Himself and Saint Peter in a miraculous way.

 

In the Catholic Church, there is the sin of scandal, such as when a Catholic politician advocates openly for greater access to abortion or a priest publicly defies his bishop.  That is not the scandal that St. Thomas references in his commentary on today’s Gospel.  Scandal in what is to follow is scandal in its worldly sense.

 

So St. Thomas Aquinas says that Jesus does not care about worldly scandal in some instances, and in other instances Jesus does care about worldly scandal.  Worldly Scandal sometimes arises from the Truth, and in that situation, one should not care about who is scandalized by the Truth.  But other times worldly scandal arises from weakness or ignorance, and one should care about not causing this kind of worldly scandal.  But if Jesus had not paid the tax, the temple tax collectors scandal would have been from ignorance because they did not know that Jesus was God.

 

I think that, of course, is a great point. 

 

And it is a point that St. Thomas Aquinas and others make in their commentary on other Gospel passages as well, such as why Jesus asked the young man “Why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone.”  Jesus is God, but he knew that the young man was not ready to hear it, so he dodges the question without denying that He is God.

 

Where am I going with all of this?  I think it is important for us to pray for the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit when we encounter people who are not ready to hear the entirety of the Truth.  Is there something else we can say that is not false, but also respects where this person is?  And again, I think friendship, particularly in our own day and age, is a great place to start with those who are not yet ready to accept the divinity of Jesus.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

11 Places in Romans Where Saint Paul Says We Get into Heaven or Hell Based on Works We Do or Don't Do

Romans 3:28 says "For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law."  This verse was twisted by Martin Luther, and he also added a word "alone", rendering the passage "For we consider that a person is justified by faith alone, apart from works of the law."  Most Protestant denominations have now taken that passage, and made it one of the foundational passages for their break from the Roman Catholic Church.

So I throught it would be helpful to look at the most clear cut passages from Romans where Saint Paul says our entrance to Heaven or Hell IS based on the works we perform.


1:21 “for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.”

 

2:6  “who will repay everyone according to his works"

 

2:7 “eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works”

 

2:10 “There will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good”

 

2:13 “For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified”

 

2:16 “God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.”

 

10:9 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

 

10:10 “one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.”

 

10:13 “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 

13:2 “whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.”

 

13:8 “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

Homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

Jesus says in today's Gospel: “be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.  Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.  Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.”

 

The first part of Jesus story would be familiar to those who were listening.  Jesus says that we need to be vigilant, awaiting his return, and so indeed we should be.

 

But the second part of this parable, that the master will come and have his servants recline at table, and the master will proceed to wait on them would have struck all those listening as completely backwards.  The servants are supposed to tend the needs of the master at a table, but instead Jesus says that he, the master, will serve those who He finds vigilant.

 

And indeed at the Last Supper, that shock and surprise is still present in His Apostles when Jesus does proceed to wait on them and wash their feet.  Peter is so scandalized that he tells Jesus “you will never wash my feet!”

 

Of course we are probably familiar with the rest of the Gospel where Jesus says if I do not wash you, you can have no inheritance with me.

 

Perhaps some of us find it scandalous that the Lord would wait on us and wash our feet and make us His top priority, but that indeed is the inexhaustible Love that Christ has for all of us while we are still drawing breath on Earth. 

 

But if we reject Christ’s love (his offer to stoop down and wash our feet and love us) then Jesus says we can not enter into Heaven. 

Let us acknowledge God’s greatness in comparison to our lowliness, but also still allow him to stoop down to our level and wash us and care for us and mend our wounds, particularly through the Sacraments of the Church.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Homily for St. Jean Vianney 2022

 

Today is the Feast Day of Saint John Vianney, originally the patron saint of parish priests, and whom Pope Francis several years ago made the patron saint for ALL priests.

 

The liturgy of the hours are prayers that every priest and religious brother and religious sister promise to pray every day.  Each day consists of at least 5 different times of prayer.  And so part of Saint John Vianney’s liturgy of the hours is taken from the back where we find what is known as the Common of Pastors, and here as why I say all that.  I was praying that this morning and there was a line from Scripture in the common of pastors that struck me, and it is this.  “On your walls, Jerusalem, I have set my watchmen to guard you.”  Which is Isaiah chapter 62 verse 6.

 

Every pastor is literally appointed a watchman over everyone living in his parish boundaries, and the Catholic Church takes that very seriously.  Every pastor is mandated to offer one Sunday Mass for his people.  I literally pray every morning for all those living in my parish boundaries. 

 

That ministry of being a watchman flows from the Archbishop of Indianapolis, who is also a watchman for the entire Archdiocese, and in some ways the Pope is also a watchman for the whole world.

 

Saint John Vianney is the patron saint for all priests because he was a watchman par excellence.  He heard confessions between 10 and 16 hours each day, and preached the truth with zeal and love.

 

Please pray for me, your pastor today, that I may be a better watchman on the wall of my parish boundaries, and that I may be more closely conformed to the heart of Saint John Vianney and the Heart of Jesus through prayer.  Amen.

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

A quick story

when I was in Lourdes at the beginning of June, I saw people who looked like they were practicing for the Tour De France.  When I got back to the United States, I looked up the route for the Tour De France, and one of the last stages did actually start from Lourdes, and that stage was on TV just last Thursday

So at my parents house, I watched that stage, and it was awesome.  The stage actually started at the shrine!

 

Anyways, watching the Tour de France, I was amazed how the riders orient their entire life around cycling. 

1)    First of all, each rider has an entire nutrition plan put together by nutritionists and doctors.  Every single thing they eat and drink is geared towards making them the best bicyclist they can be.

 

2)    Secondly, they train relentlessly riding their bikes 5 hours a day most days, and when they are not training on their bikes, they are lifting weights or doing some other type of cardio exercise.  Or sleeping in oxygen tents

 

3)    Thirdly, hundreds of thousands of dollars go into their equipment, their bikes, the team personnel, the cars following the riders on the road with spare bikes and spare wheels if one goes flat for a rider

 

And so, yet again, watching that race and this Gospel today have me asking myself “Am I pursuing Heaven with everything I have?”

Does what I eat put me closer or further from Heaven?

Am I looking to orient my entire life, trimming, so to speak, everything out of my life that would slow me down in my pursuit of becoming a saint?

The guy who builds bigger barns for his food instead of sharing it with the poor is spiritually out of shape and spiritually flabby.  And it cost him everything.

The guy in today’s parable is trying to win the tour de France pulling his barn behind him

 

Let us not build bigger barns to store our possessions in, let us, as Saint Paul says, run the race of this life so as to win Heaven.

Monday, July 25, 2022

17th Sunday in Ordinary time, 2022

 Give us each day our daily bread

 

Again, as with last week, a lot of saints have written about this “Give us each day our daily bread” in connection to the Eucharist…but again I would like to also reflect on the literal meaning of this phrase “give us each day our daily bread.”

 

I have been reflecting a lot on food and its role in my life recently.  I have been thinking about how much food we have beyond “our daily bread” in America,

and I have also been wrestling with the quality of our food, its mass production, wasteful packaging, etc.

 

In Laudato Si, Pope Francis wrote about food, and the importance of shifting to more sustainable small scale food production. 

Currently most of our food in the US is produced on a massive scale in very concentrated places with lots of chemicals and preservatives and shipped around the country.

Also, our extra food produced is shipped to other countries, destroying their local farming systems and making them dependent on foreign shipments of food.

We have tons of food at our disposal, but not many people know how to farm, how to raise and slaughter cows, chickens and goats and grow vegetables.  However, I do see a lot of positive signs in our communities of Clay County and Putnam County.     

First of all, I think that is what is great about the 4h clubs in each county.  Young people learn how to raise animals, cows, chickens goats, grow crops, etc.

There are also lots of parishioners who farm, grow gardens, and can their food for the winter. 

There are also lots of parishioners who raise cattle, goats and chickens.  Consider buying your meat and eggs from them.

There are also farmer’s markets throughout my parish boundaries which are a great way to buy local food

As we think about practical ways that we can ensure everyone has their daily bread, let us think local.  Catholic Social Teaching actually has a word for thinking local called subsidiarity.  It means doing things like food production at the most local level possible.

Let us do our small part to help shift our food growing to the local level, and also by doing so ensure that more people have their daily bread.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 

The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.

 

Like Martha, we are almost assuredly anxious and worried about many things.  But when Jesus says there is need of only one thing, what, exactly IS that one thing?

 

St. Thomas Aquinas and others identify that one thing as being a life of contemplation, or contemplative prayer.  And most of us probably associate contemplative prayer only with monks and nuns and priests.

 

But we all have the capacity for contemplative prayer, and, when we try to enter into contemplative prayer we should know that the Devil will try to distract us in every moment.  But the Catechism says it is not a sin to be distracted in prayer, all that is needed is to, once you realize you have been thinking about other things, to simply refocus back on the Lord Jesus.

 

We live in anxious times and distracting times…the most distracted times in human history so far.  And so it is hard to carve out time for prayer.  But a monk at St. Meinrad said “Until we are convinced that prayer is the best way to spend our time, we will never find time for prayer.”

 

Like Mary, let us choose the better part; let us spend time in the presence of Jesus each day in prayer.  Let us step away from the busyness of life to still our minds, hearts, bodies and souls at the foot of the Master.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

"You need to smile more"????

I have heard it around from a lot of different directions, that I need to smile more, and other priests need to smile more, or are not smiling enough.


I would just to offer this reflection on smiling.


First of all, there are many acts of love that are accomplished totally absent smiling, and in fact done with screams of agony.  Most notably, the greatest act of love for all eternity, Jesus' death on the Cross, was done with extreme agony.   Most of the martyrs also went to heaven under cries of agony and pain.

Also, we have Jesus' various words throughout the Gospels, including:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."

"And Jesus wept"



Secondly, most sins are done with a smile.  Gossip and lots of other sins are done with a smile.  


Certainly the Bible, in a few verses, encourages smiling. 

Proverbs 15:30 “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart"

Proverbs 15:13-15 “A glad heart makes a happy face"

Psalm 126:2-3 “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy”

Romans 5:3-4 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance."



But none of the above passages say in any way that smiling equates to holiness.



Let us not judge a person's soul for any reason

Let us not judge a person good because they smile

and let us not judge a person as "lacking" because they do not smile

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Tuesday in the 15th Week in Ordinary Time, 2022

 

In today’s first reading, Jerusalem finds itself far outnumbered, and surrounded by enemies intent on destroying the city.  The prophet Isaiah is sent to strengthen the king of Judah, Ahaz, and Isaiah says to Ahaz, although you do not see a way out of this situation, God will destroy all these nations encamped against you.  And the prophet Isaiah ends his speech to king Ahaz with the line “Unless your faith is firm
you shall not be firm!”

 

As we look around the world today, it seemed like Catholics are surrounded on all sides by people intent on destroying the Church.  The Catechism even assures us, in paragraph 675 that

Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.”

 

We feel surrounded, but Isaiah’s words to king Ahaz in our first reading today are as relevant as ever…unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm.

 

There are millions of miracles being worked in Brazil, IN, every day.  Let us resolve to not have Jesus say about Brazil, IN  “it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you”

Monday, July 11, 2022

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

There are lots of amazing things that have been written by Catholic saints about this parable.  As with any of Jesus’ parables, we can never stop gleaning fruit from the parable of the good Samaritan.

 

But I would like to keep it simple today with a few questions.

First of all, I would like us to think about whether we love the poor and hurting around us and stop to see how we can help?

And of course some of them are hurting and poor because of sin.  But I heard a great reflection from Dr. Ray Guarendi a while back on Catholic radio, and he said something to the effect of “If we could see each person’s past, we would likely be much more empathetic towards them, and much more willing to help them.”  That is also why God tells us not to judge anyone.  Of course we are supposed to judge individual actions, but God tells us to never judge another human PERSON.  One of the reasons is that only God knows the entirety of a human person’s past.

 

We are all moved when we see or hear of a toddler being abused, but most of those toddlers do not get help, and become adults.  Some of them turn to drugs or alcohol or gangs to try to cope with the trauma. 

 

I also think it is important to recognize that by loving the poor we are literally willing their good, and so that does not always mean money, but it does always mean working for this particular person right in front of me, working for his or her good, and it is really hard to do that without speaking to them.  Often just speaking to a person is a reminder to them of their dignity and worth, especially with so many in our country today without family and without friends.

 

The questions are simple, but it is a lot harder, at least initially, to stop and talk to those who are hurting and poor, and who if we could see their past, we would likely be much more sympathetic to.  But like all things in our Catholic Faith, the more we do it, the easier it gets. 

 

And if we are waiting on God to tell us to help this person or that person, God has already told us what to do…we should love our neighbors as ourselves.  If you are waiting on a thunderous voice from the sky, it probably will not come.

 

Let us set about talking with and honoring and encountering those around us who are broken and hurting, and let us not pass by on the other side of the road.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Saints Peter and Paul

 

Today is a great Solemnity in the Catholic Church.  The two pillars of the Church, Saint Peter and Paul. 

 

We hear in today’s first reading about Saint Peter being thrown in Jail during the Passover in Jerusalem, exactly one year after the Crucifixion of Jesus.  And God sends an angel to free Saint Peter because God still has plans for Saint Peter for the next 40 to 50 years before Saint Peter is killed in Rome.

 

The second reading talks about Saint Paul being in prison at the end of his life, 40 – 50 years after our First Reading.   Paul, after his initial conversion, spent another 40-50 years preaching.  We see him also in jail in our 2nd reading, but Saint Paul now knows that it is the end.  He writes this letter to Timothy from a jail cell, perhaps sharing that cell with Saint Peter.  Tradition says that Saint Peter and Saint Paul were martyred on the same day.

 

Saint Paul, in his letter to Timothy, knows now that it is the end.  He says “the time of my departure is at hand.  I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.  From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me.”

 

Saint Paul is NOT presuming his entrance into Heaven in our 2nd reading, but rather must have had some special vision from God, right near the end, where God in some way assured Saint Paul that he would go to Heaven.


One of the takeaways from these two readings is that some of us are at the beginning of our mission like the young Saint Peter in our first reading.  Others of us may be nearing the end of our mission, like the Jailed Saint Paul at the end of his life.  Whether we are at the beginning or the end of our ministry, all of us, just like Saints Peter and Paul, are given the opportunity to cooperate with God’s grace to become saints.  Let us open our hearts to what God is desiring to do through each of us today, so that we can one day join Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the eternal bliss of Heaven!

Monday, June 27, 2022

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 

Homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 2022

 

Saint Paul warns the Galatians in today’s 2nd reading “if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.”

One of the main ways that we bite and devour one another is through gossip.

 

And gossip is everywhere in our country today.  We have entire channels on our televisions dedicated 24 hours a day 7 days a week to gossip.  We have an entire genre of gossip magazines.  Our newspapers have gossip columns.  The number of websites completely dedicated to Gossip are uncountable because there are so many.

 

And yet Saints Paul, James and John all warn, in the New Testament, that Gossip is mortally sinful.

Just a few examples.  Saint Paul warns the Ephesians in chapter 4 verse 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

 

Saint James says in Chapter 4 verse 11 “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law.”

 

Saint Paul warns the Romans in Chapter 1 verses 29 and 30 “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, and slanderers”

And Pope Francis recently said that gossip is worse than Covid.

I have recently committed to never speaking about a person who is not present, unless my speak praises the person not present.  The only exception to this is when I am asked to evaluate a person, either by the Archdiocese or some other relevant organization, in which case I give an honest assessment of that person even though they are not present.

 

Let us commit to using our words to build up others, and not risk Hell in spreading gossip about others.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Corpus Christi 2022

 

Corpus Christi 2022

 

We normally have a public procession this weekend, but the Archdiocese is having a massive Corpus Christi procession on Sunday, June 19th that starts at 4:15 at the Cathedral in Indianapolis https://eucharisticrevivalindy.org/procession

Today’s procession is the start of a 3 year process called for by the USCCB.  This Eucharistic revival starts with today’s Eucharistic procession downtown and the events that follow at Saint John’s and ends 3 years from now with a Eucharistic congress that should see about 100,000 visitors to Indianapolis.

But what can we do in our small parishes day in and day out over these next three years and beyond?  I have an idea that I could think be really powerful.

A Holy Hour is an hour spent in prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, either exposed in a monstrance, or simply in the tabernacle.  The Holy Hour comes out of Jesus’ question to his apostles the night before he died as he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane “could you not watch one hour with me?”

I believe that 99.9% of people, whether they are Catholic or not, appreciate knowing that they have been prayed for.  And so what our parishes will start doing is having holy hour cards that you can fill out and send to a person who you offer up your holy hour for, whether that holy hour is done at one of our parishes, or any other Catholic Church that has the Blessed Sacrament reserved.

It doesn’t take much to offer up your holy hour for a person.  You can just start that hour with a quick prayer “I offer this holy hour up for ____ and their intentions” and then you can just move on with some silent Scripture reading, a silent rosary, some other spiritual reading and perhaps some contemplative silence at the end.

We have pre-printed cards and envelopes that you can use which will be set out on a table in the front of our Church, but you can also just create your own card or letter. 

Certainly you can also send people cards and notes that you prayed for them in nature or in your house, and those notes also, I am sure, would be very well received.  However, the Catechism, in paragraph 1374, says “Christ's presence [in the Eucharist] is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments…"This presence is called 'real' because it is presence in the fullest sense

And so I know that this effort of offering up our holy hours for people and their intentions will have a deep impact on both us who pray these holy hours, and also on those whom we let know were the intention of our holy hours.  May this effort have some small part to play in leading to a reawakening of an awareness of Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist.


Thursday, June 16, 2022

My Trip to Lourdes

In case anyone is interested in a more detailed description of my trip to Lourdes, I am providing this summary.  Feel free, as well, to pass this on to anyone who is interested.  I write this because I will not have the chance to speak with each of you in depth.

 

Let me begin by saying the best way that I can think of to summarize my trip is that I know that God’s hands were all over this trip.  Because I did not have much time to prepare for it, I entrusted my entire trip to God’s Providence.  And so, about 1 week before I left, a very generous donor upgraded my tickets to first class.  So on Monday, June 6th, I flew out of Indianapolis and landed in Newark, NJ with about a 5 hour layover.  I walked to my gate for my departure to Paris, and right near my gate to Paris was a glass door saying “United Polaris Lounge”.  I went in to the lounge to see what it was all about, and they asked me to scan my ticket, and so I did.  Long story short, I did not even know such a place existed in an airport.  This lounge had showers, a free food buffet, a free bar, office spaces, its own special wifi, lots of comfortable spaces to sit down…in short, these lounges ended up being an even better blessing than the first class seating on the plane!

 

On Tuesday morning, June 7th, I landed in Paris and followed the signs to the train station.  I went to the train station and purchased a trip to Lourdes which was about 8 hours.  I had reached out to the shrine of our Lady of Lourdes about two weeks prior to my arrival, and they had sent me the name and place for me to stay for 5 nights, but because I had been locked out of my protonmail account, I could not access my reservation.  Also, as my train was pulling into Lourdes, I could see the shrine, and the town was a little bit bigger than I had imagined but I figured I could walk there pretty quickly.  When I got off the train, however, I walked around the town of Lourdes for about 2 hours and was still not able to find the shrine.  I started to panic a little bit, getting that same feeling I had when I first landed in Rome almost 20 years prior when I had a taxi driver take me to the North American College, and, when I arrived the gates were locked and, after waiting several hours, ended up climbing the gate and pulling my bags up and then lowering them down the other side.  I had that same fear of spending the night outside starting to creep in.  But I finally circled back to the train station and found a taxi and asked him to take me to Lourdes and he did.  A special shout out to my sister Laura who had been to Lourdes several times and was able to guide me, through some text messages, at key moments that night!

 

When I arrived in Lourdes, though, I still did not know where I was staying.  I walked around and found some pilgrims who spoke English and they stuck with me until I got a room at a pretty simple place connected to the shrine itself which was only 18 euros a night and pretty close to the shrine.  I finally got to my room at about 11 pm, feeling very blessed to have a place to stay!

 

On Wednesday, June 8th, I went back to the shrine, and went to the crypt Church and did a holy hour.  So Lourdes is 3 churches stacked on top of each other.  There is the lowest level Church where there are some stunning mosaics of the 15 decades of the rosary.  Then the next level is the crypt Church and then the Church at the very top is the Church of the Immaculate Conception.  Anyways, in the crypt Church they had altars off to the side where priests could have private Masses, and so I had my first of 4 private Masses there at a side altar off to the side.  The sacristans in the crypt Church did not speak English but were so kind and helpful.  I then walked around the grounds the rest of the day and just sort of oriented myself.

 

On Thursday, June 9th, it was my day to go into the baths.  People have rightly asked what it was like, but I had to confess that I didn’t really have time to properly prepare for two reasons.  The first reason was when I walked down to the place where pilgrims go into the baths around 4 pm, there was a sign that said the baths close at 4:45, and I had told everyone I would be going in at 5.  The other thing that threw me off was I realized that masks were required.  So I had to walk back to the place where I was staying about 10 minutes away and grab my mask and then head back to the baths.  Thankfully, I was able to get in line before they closed up.  When I got back to the baths, because of Covid precautions, they were pouring water into your hands three times, the first time, I was able to figure out from the 2 ladies helping me who did not speak English that I was supposed to wash my hands with the water.  The second pour from the pitcher I was supposed to drink, and the third pour from the pitcher I was supposed to rub it on my face and head.  I did all of that, and trust that if God wants to work a miracle, then He certainly can with that.  All this just to say, though, that because all of the surprises of that hour, I did not really have time to prepare properly, and so when people ask me if I felt anything miraculous, I have said “I am not sure if I did or not.” 

 

Thursday night, June 9th, I was able to participate in the nightly candle light procession at the shrine that starts every evening at 9 pm and lasts about 1 hour.  Everyone purchases a candle that has a paper cup with it with some prayers, and you end up processing around with your candle and paper cup with all the other pilgrims who want to participate in it.  It is probably easier to just say that some clips from Bishop Robert Barron’s Catholicism trailer are from the night time procession at Lourdes if you would like to watch that.

 

Friday, June 10th, after Mass and prayers and so forth, I decided to walk back to the Lourdes train station, just to make sure I knew the way.  When I arrived at the train station, though, I found out that all the trains departing for Paris on Sunday, June 12th were already full.  I panicked because I had planned to leave Lourdes on Sunday, June 12th, but a very kind employee at the train station was able to help me find a train that left for Paris on Saturday, June 11th.  I was able to email the hotel in Paris and book an extra night, so that again was God’s Providence at work!

 

Saturday, June 11th, I woke up, had Mass in the crypt one last time, and then walked to the train station at Lourdes and departed for Paris.

 

Sunday, June 12th was a day of providential adventure as well.  Canon Law says a pastor is required to have one Sunday (or Saturday anticipation Mass) for all the people under his pastoral care.  My hotel was right near Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, which is about a 30 minute metro ride from downtown Paris.  I looked up the night before “English Masses in Paris” and there was a parish that had 4 Sunday Masses all in English, and the parish was located very near the “Arch de Triumph”.  I took an hour metro ride down to the Arch, but when I arrived, I remembered I did not know the exact name nor the exact address of the parish Church.  So I headed the hour metro trip back to the hotel to find the name and exact address of the parish.  I then took the hour metro back to the Arch, found the parish, but now the 12:30 Mass was ending.  I asked the parish priest if I could have a private Mass in English, and he said that unfortunately they were having a catechetical event for the young people of the parish, and were shutting the doors to the public until the 6:30 pm Mass.  I then took the metro up to the Basilica of Sacre Ceur, (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) which I had read an awesome book in the seminary on, and wanted to see it and also see if I could have a private Mass there.  When I got off at the metro stop for the basilica, though, I was not prepared for the size of the crowd.  It was unlike anything else I have experienced other than maybe a World Youth Day.  I made my way up this massive hill of steps literally with people EVERYWHERE and eventually made it to the top.  At the top was the entrance to the Basilica, but then the wait to get in was about 50 minutes in the sun, and so I bailed and went back to the hotel.  But I resolved to have Mass for my people, and made a 5th and 6th trip back to the Arch and was standing in the sacristy fully vested at 6:05 for a 6:30 Mass.  The Mass ended up being awesome because I got to meet some Americans who came up and said hello after the Mass, and I got back to the hotel and started to pack for the flight back to the US the next morning.

 

Monday, June 13th was my flight home. 

 

In summary, I feel very blessed to have been able to go on the trip, and I know, whether I am healed or not, it was a blessing to get to travel to Paris and Lourdes.  Thanks for any prayers you offered up for me during my trip!

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Gradualness of the Law??? No.

"What is known as 'the law of gradualness' or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with 'gradualness of the law' as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God's law for different individuals and situations."


- Saint Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, paragraph 34

Pentecost Homily 2022

 

Pentecost Sunday 2022

 

Pentecost was already a feast day in the Jewish Calendar for about 1500 years when the events of our first reading today from Acts chapter 2 play themselves out.

The Jewish celebration of Pentecost was a celebration of the 2nd harvest of the year

 

So that is why so many devout Jews are in town in our first reading.  They all speak different languages because by this time, Jewish people had been scattered throughout many different nations, but still made a pilgrimage back to Jerusalem for major holidays, including Pentecost.

 

 

And so the Jewish celebration of Pentecost receives in today’s first reading its fulfillment in the coming down of the Holy Spirit.

 

And so as well the celebration of the 2nd harvest now is transformed into our call to go out and bring other persons to Christ…to draw them to Christ now that we too have been given the Holy Spirit.

 

On Pentecost, The Holy Spirit transformed pretty cowardly men into master harvesters full of zeal and joy who were able to start the conversion of the world to Christ

 

That mission is the same for us today.  We have been given the fullness of the Holy Spirit through our baptism and confirmation; may we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as the Apostles did…may we too become people who, by our lives and our preaching and our teaching, win human persons for Jesus Christ

Father Michael Clawson's First Mass Homily

 

Father Michael Clawson’s First Mass Homily - Vigil of Pentecost

 

Father. Michael. Clawson.  Before diving into this homily, I just wanted to address anyone here who wonders why Catholics call priests Father.  The question might be put this way – “Don’t you know that Jesus says in Matthew 23:9 that we should call no man Father”?

And so here I think it is important to note just 4 instances in the New Testament, where we find Jesus, Saint Paul and Saint Stephen using the word “father” to refer to someone other than God the Father.

1) in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7 verses 9-13, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for not honoring their "fathers."

2) in Acts chapter 7, verse 2, Saint Stephen refers to “our father Abraham,”

3) in Romans chapter 9, verse 10, Saint Paul speaks of “our father Isaac.”

4) in 1 Corinthians chapter 4, verses 14-15, Saint Paul says “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel”

 

I would just like to spend the rest of my time reflecting on what most of us were blessed to witness early today at the Cathedral.  The Holy Spirit came down upon Deacon Michael Clawson, and placed upon him an unchangeable spiritual character which can never be undone.  And, at that moment, he became Father Michael Clawson.

 

And so now I say to you, Father Michael Clawson, most of the people that you will minister to as a priest, particularly the younger people, will not have a relationship with their earthly Father.  Some of their earthly fathers may have been killed, some of the people have been abandoned by their earthly father, and so your experience of losing your own earthly Father will give you a way to connect with all the people you minister to for the rest of your priesthood who have no earthly Father in their life. 

You will be able to walk alongside them, and become a father to so many who have lost their Father through death, or through drug use, or estrangement, and you can say “I lost my earthly father as well…and it is hard…but I have, through it all, found solace in keeping my focus on my Father in Heaven and Jesus and the Holy Spirit…and I encourage you to do the same.”  As Saint Pope Paul VI put it, people no longer listen to teachers, but they do listen to witnesses.  You will be an awesome witness to all, and in particular, again, to all those in your path who no longer have a relationship with their earthly father.

 

Our 1st reading this evening from the prophet Ezekiel sees the Prophet Ezekiel told by God to preach to dry bones, and as the prophet does, the bones slowly turn back into human persons.   Father Michael Clawson, I believe that you are being sent to speak life back into the lives of all those who are metaphorically dead because of a lack of a fatherly presence in their life.  And in so doing, you will find healing for your own soul as well.  Henry Nouwen described every priest as “a wounded healer” – do not run from the death of your earthly father, pray Masses for him, ask daily for your earthly father’s prayers, but also use your experience to bring healing to others as well. 

Monsignor Schaedel said this a few weeks ago at his Mass commemorating his 40th anniversary of ordination, and I have preached on this as well…if you had asked me, while I was still in the seminary, to write down the best 50 things that I hoped would happen in my priesthood, looking back on my life as a priest, the actual 50 best things of my priesthood are all better than anything on my list as a seminarian.

I think this lengthy quote from St. John Vianney also sums up what and who you have just become this morning: “O how great is the priest! If he realized what he is he would die… God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from Heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host. Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in the tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for the journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest—always the priest. And if the soul should happen to die (as a result of sin) who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again the priest. After God, the priest is everything. Only in heaven will he fully realize what he is.”

 

May God bless you every day of your new life as a priest and as a father!  Amen.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

I Give You a New Commandment - Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter

 

Jesus says in our Gospel today: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

 

The first half of Jesus’ teaching is already found in the third book of the Old Testament.  Leviticus 19:18 already says “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the Golden Rule, found in lots of different religious traditions.

 So what makes Jesus’ command new?  It is new because Jesus has come and illustrated exactly what love is.  So Jesus adds to the end of the Golden Rule this 2nd piece of His teaching: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

In the Old Testament, God asked us to love our neighbor as ourself.  But Jesus, by becoming a human being and laying down His life for us, shows us that love actually involves a willingness to in some ways love our neighbor more than ourself…no longer putting our neighbors needs on the same level as our needs as Leviticus asks, but Jesus now calls us to actually put our neighbors needs ABOVE our needs.  To put our own desires last!  And that is why Jesus says “I give you a new commandment.”

 

Let us put our needs last, let us cooperate with the Grace God is pouring out on us to Love our neighbors, and to actually put our neighbors needs over our own needs, wants and desires.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Abortion and Sorcery - homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter

In the Criterion, the newspaper for the Archdiocese, there is an awesome story this week about our new St. Vincent De Paul food pantry.  There was also a great write up about it in the Brazil Times.  There was also a story this week in the Brazil Times about a new store in downtown Brazil opening up that traffics in the demonic, crystals, raiki, tarot cards etc…all that Saint Paul and Moses and the Catholic Church describe as gateways to the demonic.

 

And this weekend as well national abortion groups are calling for protests in Catholic Churches around the USA.

 

All of this goes to show, academically, that there are really only 2 sides and no middle ground for people who just want to sit on the sidelines.  It, at the end of the day, comes down to the Catholic Church doing battle with literal demons who have possessed human persons.

 

There is no sideline from which you can watch this battle unfold.  You have to make a choice about which side you will fight on.

 

God, all the way back in the book of Exodus, tells Moses there are two reasons that God is going to allow the Israelites to take over the Promised Land

1) Because the current inhabitants literally sacrificed their children to false gods

2) and they practiced witchcraft and sorcery

 

Abortion and sorcery comprise the priesthood and the sacrifice of the anti-church. 

Let me also be clear, no matter how far away from the Church you have fallen, and no matter what you have done in your past, whether it is abortions, murder, witchcraft, apostasy, and on and on…no matter what sins are in your past, Christ welcomes you back with one confession.  Peter betrayed our Lord 3 times, after swearing an oath just a couple of hours prior that he would never do that , but Saint Peter had the sense to repent. 

 

One of the ways you can tell the Catholic Church from the anti-church, the anti Church will always talk about care for the poor ONLY in big terms, while the Catholic Church talks about working with the poor individually – treating and reminding the poor of their dignity, which is what the St. Vincent DePaul Society is all about.  The Catholic Church also supports programs that care for the poor on a larger scale in some instances, but always also encourages, and frankly demands, that all Catholics encounter the poor individually as well.

 

The villain in one of the greatest novels of all time says “I love humanity…it is individual people I can’t stand.”  Some of our global planners talk that way.  They love humanity…and I would encourage every Catholic and every person of Good Will to run as far and as fast as possible from anyone who offers a plan to save humanity which does not involve Jesus Christ and His Bride the Catholic Church.

 

Christ, the Good Shepherd, chose to live in poverty and is calling us to follow Him back to the poor.  Let us heed the calling of the Good Shepherd.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

What Heaven is Like - Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, 2022

 

We hear in our second reading from the book of Revelation today “I heard every creature in heaven and everything in the universe, cry out:  “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.”  and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

 

This excerpt from the book of Revelation describes what is in store for us in Heaven.  Heaven is infinite bliss every moment for all eternity.  

 

When I was young, I used to think that there was down time in Heaven, maybe go for a jog or relax around the pool.

 

But I now know, through the teachings of the Catholic Church, including through the Sacred Scriptures, that Heaven is infinite bliss, every moment for all eternity.

Infinite bliss

Every moment

For all eternity

 

At this and every Mass, Heaven and Earth literally overlap

Saint Paul says that we see now as through a dark piece of glass, but one day, when we get to Heaven,  we will see fully.  Saint Paul means that we can only see shadows most of the time, if that, but rest assured that this Mass today is the opening up of Heaven to all of us, we have an actual Lamb of God on an actual altar and all of us are here singing praise to the Lamb of God, and the angels are really here with us singing praise to the lamb of God.  It is what is happening, even if we do not see all of it happening with our physical eyes, we believe and see it through the eyes of Faith.

 

I want to be in Heaven someday, and I hope you do too.  Infinite bliss, every moment for all eternity.  Lord help me and all here present today to live our lives in such a way that, when we die or when you return, we may pass straight in to the eternal bliss of Heaven.  Amen!

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Divine Mercy 2022

 

Jesus says in our Gospel blessed are those who have not seen, and believed. 

One of the things that this line from Christ implies is that even though He promises to be present in every Sacrament of the Church, we should not expect to ever SEE Him, rather He says that we are blessed if we still believe in Him without actually seeing Him.

 

Saint Paul puts it this way to the Romans in chapter 8 verses 24 and 25: “hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance”

 

It is also Divine Mercy today and at the bottom of the Divine Mercy image is 5 words, “Jesus I trust in you.”  Trust and hope go hand in hand.  One can only trust if they have not been let down by the other person.  The moment the person asking for trust lets us down, it is hard to reestablish that Trust.  But Jesus always and everywhere keeps his promises, so when Jesus asks us to trust Him, it makes sense for us to trust Him.

 

There are over 100 Eucharistic Miracles that have been approved by the Catholic Church, usually because of a doubt in the priest’s mind, where the bread at the consecration did actually turn into physical flesh or the wine, at the consecration, became physical blood.  But I have always thought that God, in His Mercy, does not reveal Himself that way 99.9999% of the time SO THAT WE CAN STILL EAT and receive him into our body and souls.  Sometimes we think it might be nice to see a Eucharistic Miracle like that, but would anyone want to actually eat Jesus’ skin?

 

So let us put our trust in Christ when He says to us “Blessed are those who have not seen and still believe”

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Easter 2022

 

If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God…not of what is on earth.

 

This encouragement from Saint Paul to the Colossians is an encouragement that is still applicable to us today, to seek what is above, not of what is on earth.

 

Seeking implies a striving for…saint Paul elsewhere uses the image of athletes denying themselves all sorts of things so that they can win…the same analogy applies to scholarly study…scholars deny themselves sleep because they are striving to master a subject…and good students sacrifice the prize of basking in the now to strive forward on their pursuit of a degree

 

Let us STRIVE for what is above…Jesus’ Resurrection opens for us the possible of living with Him forever in Eternal bliss.  This world is not corrupt, God made it, but this world is not our HOME.  Let us strive with one another to get to our Heavenly home.

 

A friend said a good way to find holy and good friends is to run toward Heaven and then look and see who is running in the same direction.  May we do that… may we run for Heaven and also look and see who is running in that same direction and encourage each other with the unbelievable if it were not true, the message that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and opened up for us a way if we follow his teaching, his example, let us be nourished by the Sacraments, by the food for the journey, and let us win Heaven through Christ’s victory.  Amen!