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

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.