Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas 2022


Christmas 2022 Homily


There is a saying which I agree with, and the Knights of Columbus even have magnets for cars that say this phrase - “Keep Christ in Christmas”

Again, I agree that we should Christ in Christmas, but it is important to also say “Keep the “Mass” in Christmas.”  The -mas at the end of Christmas means “Mass”  just like we have "Michaelmas", which is a Mass in honor of Saint Michael the Archangel, and “Candlemas” which is a Mass where we process into Church with lit candles in honor of Mary bringing the Christ Child, the true light of the world, into the temple for the first time, so as well we celebrate tonight “Christ’s Mass”.  

The event that we remember and celebrate tonight was Jesus being manifested to the world for the first time 2,000 years ago, and so as well, on this altar, at this “Christ’s Mass”, when a priest says the Words of Consecration over bread and wine, they instantly become Christ once again manifested to the world.  And so it is good to be here with you tonight!

I would like to tell a brief story about Poland, and a Christmas Midnight Mass.

In 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland, which triggered WWII.  The same day that WWII ended in 1945, Poland found itself behind the iron curtain, now under the brutal oppression of the Communists.  So Poland suffered brutally for decades.

I mention all of this to say that in 1959 a young bishop Karol Wojtyla, who would become St. Pope John Paul the Second, started having a Christmas Midnight Mass OUTSIDE in a city that had been built by the Communists, and that Christmas midnight Mass was usually well below zero like it is tonight.

100,000 Poles showed up for that first Christmas midnight Mass, outside…imagine that…100,000 people outside, below freezing temperatures, but they were there for Mass 100,000 strong, and the Polish people showed up at every subsequent Christmas Midnight Mass until the Communists relented and in 1977 the Ark Catholic Church was built, the only time a Communist nation has allowed a Catholic Church to be built.

It is well below zero tonight, but we are here celebrating Mass. 

In our world today Communism and Socialism are once again on the ascendant, but just like Herod, just like Pontius Pilate, and just like the rulers and lords of our day, every ruler who runs up against the Christ Child is doomed. 

The Devil and the Communists and Socialists play the long game, but God’s plan is prior to their plans…Christ’s plan existed before the world was even created!

We rejoice tonight at the birth of our savior Jesus, as He once again appears on our altar tonight.  We gather this night and at every Mass to give thanks for the greatest gift of all time…the gift of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

"Look what you've done!"

This was a song I heard a couple of months ago that speaks to what the Devil says to us, "Look what you've done" but then the singer, Tasha Layton, turns that around and says to God "Look what you've done" in a positive sense.

I also think this song does a good job of describing what happens in adoration and prayer "standing in your presence, Lord, I can feel you digging all the roots up, I feel you healing all my wounds up"



Tuesday, December 13, 2022

3rd Sunday of Advent at Annunciation - Solemn Worship and Glad Rejoicing


Rejoicing Sunday and Solemn Worship


As I said at the beginning of Mass, this “Rejoicing Sunday” and we also heard in our opening prayer at Mass today “solemn worship”.  But we might ask where is the rejoicing in solemn worship?  And here I will allow a convert to Catholicism from Evangelicalism to explain it way better than I ever could.  He writes this:


“It may be worth pressing home a point that often troubles observers of Catholic worship and that certainly rises in the consciousness of Christians coming to the Mass having been nurtured in denominations where hearty fellowship and humming activity are the hallmarks of Sunday morning at church. It can be the case, however, that one comes to Mass from the happy precincts of Evangelicalism, say, and goes away at the end with great sadness. "But I miss the fellowship!" He might say. "I didn't since the eager atmosphere of glad attention and participation I knew in my former church."

This response from a newcomer touches on a matter very near the center of the mystery brooding over Christian worship. When the Roman Catholic "goes to church", he or she sees themselves as joining them self to something that is already going on. He sets aside both the hurly-burly of his domestic or professional situation and any preoccupation he may have with such patently excellent concerns as fellowship or chat or even a certain vitality in the air. He has been summoned to the one necessary thing. He here takes his place, literally, he believes, with angels and archangels and with all the company of Heaven, who laud and magnify the Holy Name of the Most High.”


Every Mass is a dramatic intersection of Calvary, Heaven and this Church building, and it is totally unique to Catholicism.  Non-Catholics do not even think they are entering Heaven when they go to their services.  Praise and Worship music actually distracts from Mass because it is not the music of Heaven nor Calvary…at Mass we do not emphasize our own words…the Catholic Mass, as we said in our opening prayer today is both “solemn worship” and a rejoicing that is deeper than the surface level.


Like Peter 2,000 years ago, utterly bewildered by a glimpse that the three Apostles had on the mount of Transfiguration of a glorified Christ, we can say today and at every Mass, “Lord, it is good that we are here!”

Monday, December 12, 2022

3rd Sunday of Advent at Saint Paul's


“Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged”


This weekend is called “rejoicing weekend” in the Church.  Rejoice or “Gaudete” in Latin is the first word of our Mass today.  And that “rejoice” comes from Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians which he wrote while in Jail!!!


As we think about “rejoicing” this weekend, there are so many places in the New Testament where it says we will condemned if we use our mouth for gossip, slander, complaining, lying


And our second reading today from James is no different.  “Do not complain about one another that you may not be judged…”


Are we complaining about people?  Do we realize how much that destroys US???


One of the reasons I think God cautions so often in the New Testament against using our speech wrongly is because we are all given a certain amount of words to say in our life… God already knows the exact number of words that we will say in our lives.


And God wants us to use those number of words to rejoice.  That what this weekend in the Church is called…rejoicing weekend.


I have made a commitment over the past few years to use my mouth only to praise and thank God…and I go to confession any time I have fallen short.  Certainly there are times where people need to be corrected for a sin…and that is so hard for us to do face to face, but if we see or hear a brother or sister using their speech wrongly, let us have the courage to say something to that person’s face in charity…and not complain about that person when they leave.


Let us once again resolve tonight to not complain about each other…but let us use our words to rejoice in God…

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Immaculate Conception 2022


"Hail Mary, full of Grace"


Why do we have this Gospel passage of the Annunciation, which is the moment that JESUS is conceived, when we celebrate today MARY'S conception?

I would like to point out 2 reasons we have this Gospel today.

First, all Christians (and even a lot of non-Christians and atheists) love the “Ave Maria” sung in Latin. It begins “Ave Maria, gratia plena”


Gratia plena translates to "Full of Grace" and there is no other way to translate it other than "Full of Grace".


Luke was written in Greek though, so how do we know that “Full of Grace” is the proper translation?


St. Jerome, in the 300’s translated the Greek into Latin, and his translation into Latin was known as the vulgate.  Martin Luther would not be born for another 1200 years

Some Protestants, going back to the Greek text, have changed the translation into something like "Hail, favored one."

But I am going to trust St. Jerome's translation as he was doing it in the 300's.

The second reason we likely have this Gospel today is that all the other figures in the Sacred Scriptures who encounter an Archangel are all full of fear, and usually fall down in terror.  But the Archangel Gabriel speaks to Mary with DEFERENCE, saying "HAIL, Mary"... and the mere fact that she is able to ask Gabriel questions and have a conversation with the Archangel shows her profound holiness.

We are right, as Catholics, to say, every day, "Hail Mary FULL of Grace!"