Sunday, March 27, 2022

The Older Son is Blind to All His Blessings


Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent, 2022


There is a line in our Gospel today that I would like to preach on, and it is this: “He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.”


The main problem with the older son is his blindness to all the blessings that have come to him precisely because of his Father.  The oldest son has food at every meal thanks to his father, he has wealth built up by his father, he has servants because of his father, and on and on…and yet he sees none of these blessings but only what he lacks.


And we also tend to be blind to the gifts given us by our Heavenly Father.  Our food, our shelter, our heat and air conditioning, medicine, water, electricity, our clothing, our schooling…we have so many blessings from our Heavenly Father…and yet do we thank Him… or do we complain about what our Heavenly Father is NOT doing for us?


Paragraph 1360 of the Catechism instructs us that every Mass is “a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits”.  Indeed the very word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving”…so all of us who are here are participating in the best way possible to thank our Heavenly Father for all that He has done for us.


Let us ask God that we might have our eyes opened to all the blessings He is freely pouring out on us, including our sufferings.  Let us not be blind to all the good things our Heavenly Father is doing in our life, but instead let us recommit to thanking God unceasingly!


Lord Jesus Christ, help us to be freed from the blindness of the older son in your parable of the prodigal son.  May we see all of the blessings you are pouring out on us, and be grateful for all of them.  Amen.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Gift of Smallness...a homily on the Annunciation, 2022


Annunciation 2022


Several years ago, if anyone had asked me a question about the state of our country or ways to improve the Catholic Church, I would have had answers to those questions.


But today, I do not have any answers.  I have realized that I am very limited, indeed very very limited in what I can do to change our country or improve the Church. 


In stepping away from social media, I have made a commitment to be as present as possible to the people of my parishes, and trust in God that God will take care of the bigger picture, and I am at peace now that I do NOT think I need to understand it all.


Mary is the same way in the Annunciation story from today’s Gospel.  It is clear she struggles to fathom God’s plan when She asks the angel, “How can this be?”  But Mary immediately understands that she can put all her trust in God’s plan…she does not need to know anything about God’s plan beyond an obscure reference by Simeon, when Mary brings the baby Jesus to the Temple, that a sword will pierce Her heart.  She trusts in God even when she watches Her Son Jesus tortured to death.


Let us focus on our local community, and make that our priority.  Let us take care of one another as Catholics, and let us be a light that attracts others in our community to come here.  Let us leave the big things for God, and let us be content to be small, as Mary was.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

"Their god is their stomach"


“For many conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their God is their stomach”

Saint Paul warns the Philippians that many among them treat their stomach as their god.  This is a hard teaching, but I think all of us Americans need to look at ourselves very closely on this one.  And it is a particularly timely topic for us this Lent.  Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins.

Before diving into the sin of gluttony, I want to acknowledge here in the beginning that some people also struggle with eating disorders…mostly young women…and so it is important for anyone tempted to binge and then force yourself to vomit, or to starve yourself because of athletics or to try and make yourself look like any other person, please see me or any other person you trust, and that person or I can help connect you with a counselor to treat that condition.  My sister Laura, when she was in high school, suffered from multiple eating disorders, and she was not aware it for multiple years.  She shared her story on my blog (click here to visit her post), and she recommended a website with lots of resources called

Most of us, however, struggle with eating too much.  Gluttony can be defined as eating or drinking in excess, or eating in such a way as to damage one’s health or mental capacity.

Food is pleasurable, and God created pleasure as a way to incline us to take care of ourselves, but provided that we do not make pleasure our aim.  Some pleasurable things are nonetheless sinful, and some pleasurable things require moderation.  Food is a pleasurable thing that requires moderation.

Alcoholic beverages, in moderation, are also okay because, as St. Thomas says, they can make conversation easier, but it is a deadly sin to fall into drunkenness.

Recreational Marijuana and all other illicit drugs are mortal sins because, unlike alcohol which can be enjoyed in moderation, all illicit drugs can rewire and alter a personality after using it just once.  Even medical marijuana has a sketchy foundation, at best.  The Mayo clinic found: “One of the most common reasons cited for medical marijuana is glaucoma. Data for this, though, is extremely weak; any positive effect is short term.”  The Mayo Clinic also found more broadly that there is “substantial evidence for an association between Marijuana smoking and respiratory disease, motor vehicle collisions (MVCs), lower birth weight offspring, schizophrenia and other psychoses”

Another reason that people cite for gluttony is stress, and at the beginning of 2022, a survey found that 80% of Americans report being stressed.  3 or 4 years ago, before my brain tumor, when I was watching TV, had a smartphone and a social media presence, I would stress eat.  If we find ourselves stress eating, let us examine what we are doing to avoid stress.  Are there things we can cut from our life to still work in the world but avoid stress?

Also, during this Season of Lent, as we think about potentially fasting from some foods, let us approach that fasting in a healthy way, seeing that most of us typically have more than enough to eat, and, when we cut back, we have more time and a clearer head so that we can enter more deeply into our prayer life as well.  Gluttony, as with all sins, can only ultimately be defeated in each of us cooperating with Jesus Christ each moment.  Do you have a relationship with Jesus?  Let us make Jesus the Lord of our hearts, as opposed to making a god out of our stomachs.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

The War in Ukraine and Our Lady of Fatima


“The war in Ukraine, and Fatima” - Homily for March 5th and 6th


At the beginning of our Eucharistic Prayer, we will once again say blessing the bread and wine “which we offer you firstly for your holy catholic Church.  Be pleased to grant her peace, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world”


As we have watched the events in Ukraine unfold these past 2 weeks, I can’t help but think of Our Lady of Fatima.  Fatima is a Marian Apparition that has been recognized by the Church, and it was a series of 6 visits by Mary to 3 shepherd children in Portugal.  The final apparition on October 13th, 1917 was accompanied by a miracle of the sun dancing in the sky, which was witnessed by approximately 70,000 people.

There were also three visions given to the children, and in the second vision, our Blessed Mother asked that the Holy Father, in union with all the bishops of the world, consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Our Lady cautioned that if Her requests were not granted, “Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, raising up wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer and various nations will be annihilated.”


Russia was never consecrated the way Our Lady of Fatima had requested, and so the error of Russia, which is Communism, has spread literally from 1917 onward, now being present in China, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam and Cuba, but also a stunning number of Americans and Europeans also have a favorable view of Communism – 30% of young adult Americans report being supportive of Communism…clearly Russia’s error has spread not just to countries to where Communism is the official government of the land.


In a stunning move on Ash Wednesday, the Bishops of Ukraine asked Pope Francis to consecrate Russia as Our Lady of Fatima requested. I cannot see anything that the Pope has to lose in consecrating Russia and asking all the bishops of the world to join him.  Let us unite our prayer, fasting and almsgiving to this effort as well.


Let us pray for the Holy Father, and for the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the Catholic Church around the world, that God “be pleased to grant her peace, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world!”

For the Victims

 Please share this with any victims of Catholic clergy sexual assault/abuse/harassment.  Thank you!

Friday, March 4, 2022

Do not let your fast be another person's penance?


“Your Fast ends in quarreling”


I had heard the phrase a lot these past couple of years – “Do not let your fast be another person’s penance”.


What I think this phrase gets correct is that we should not allow our fasting to end in quarrelling as the first reading from Isaiah puts it.  We should have enough discipline not just to abstain and fast from something, but also the discipline and spiritual strength to not let that fast deteriorate us to the point where we are irritable.


But if by the phrase “Do not let your fast be another person’s penance” one means there are certain things that a person should not fast from, that is problematic.  An example might be “If I give up caffeine, because I know that it will make me irritable, I should not give up caffeine.”  But I think that is wrong.  What we should do is give up caffeine AND have the strength to not allow that fast to become another person’s burden.

I am not saying that we should set ourselves up to fail...if we are new to giving things up for Lent certainly we need to be patient with ourselves.

The Catholic Church does not even require us to fast during Lent other than Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but if we fast from something, perhaps it should be the thing we are most afraid to go without.

Isaiah chastises those whose fasting ends in quarrelling…may that not be said of us, no matter what we are fasting from.