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.