Saturday, September 24, 2022

Saint Augustine on Catholic Giving 50% of their income - homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Saint Augustine on Catholics Giving 50% of their income

As I was doing research for last weekend’s homily on the steward slashing out his take from the master’s bills, I also came across an interesting thing that Saint Augustine said.  St. Augustine said that the steward, in telling the person who owed 100 measures of oil to sit and write a new bill for 50 measures of oil…the meaning of that action is this…Jews were commanded by God to give 10% to God, but Catholics should give half of their income to God.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis assigns to each new priest a mentor priest who is not the newly ordained priest’s pastor, and so I met with him once a month for a year or so.  He said he always published his tax returns in the bulletin.

 

So my recent tax returns, for the year 2021 I had a total gross income of 34,485.  My charitable donations totaled $17,243.  I didn’t crunch the numbers until today, but it worked out that last year I gave away to charity exactly 50%.  The largest part was to Saint Paul’s and Annunciation, roughly 11,000 dollars to the 2 parishes, and another 2,500 dollars to FOCUS missionary efforts, 2,000 dollars to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis annual appeal, and then the rest to catholic charitable organizations working all over the world to help the poorest of the poor.

 

So why do I share this?  Don’t I know that Jesus says in Matthew chapter 6 that we should keep quiet when we give alms, and that we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, and that if we announce our giving, we have already received our reward?  I have made the decision, through prayer, to forego my reward as my mentor pastor 14 years ago, in order to inspire Catholics to open their hearts more to the poor.  Catholics are statistically at the bottom in terms of their giving …and so I am sharing my giving publicly.  We live in a community where we are mostly sheltered from having to step right over poor people sitting at our doors, as the rich man in today’s parable in our Gospel had to step right over the poor man Lazarus.  But we don’t have to look far to see the poor in our community.  And also, the Catholic Church challenges us to give to all parts of the world generously as well.  To give to help eliminate the deaths of 25,000 children who starve to death every day around the world, to give so that our parishes can help alleviate the needs of the poor in our local communities and also provide a beautiful place of refuge for the poor in our communities.

 

In chapter 6, verse 38 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”  Let us all examine our giving, and trust that when God dares us to outdo him in generosity, that God really will supply all our needs.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

What in the world is going on with this parable?!? Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022

 

 “What in the world is going on with this parable?”

This week, I fielded lots of questions from our youth groups about today’s parable, and the questions were understandable.  Why does Jesus appear to praising dishonesty?

I have done more research for this homily than any other homily in my life.  And I found the answer on Friday, just in the nick of time!  One of probably 20 commentaries I checked was the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, where they have the entire Catholic Bible, along with the readings for each day of the year.  The Bishops’ website is an awesome tool, and I highly recommend their website for going deeper into Scripture.

I found the answer in a footnote about the parable of the “dishonest steward”, which says this (and here I am paraphrasing): The parable of the dishonest steward has to be understood in light of the custom in Palestine at the time of Jesus where stewards would add an expected cut for themselves in addition to what their master charged.

The dishonesty of the steward refers to the fact that the steward squandered his master’s property through dishonesty.  The dishonesty does not refer to the steward adding on his own cut to the master’s charge.  The master then commends the steward who has decided to not take his, the steward’s, own portion, but only having them write out the amount that each owed the master.

The steward acts in this way in order to win over the debtors because the steward and master both know he is being dismissed from his position.  The parable, then, teaches the prudent use of one’s material goods in light of an imminent crisis.”

So that is the end of the note on the bishops’ website.  A modern example might be a stock broker who knows he is going to be fired, and decides he will cut out his own commission in order to build up a relationship of trust with his clients, so that when he loses his job, the clients might give him a recommendation for his next job.  The stock broker does not defraud his company.  And the steward in the parable does not defraud his master.

What is the application for us…I think one of the things that Jesus is trying to say to us with this parable is that we are always facing the real possibility that at any moment we could die.  Are we always worried about making money and building bigger barns to store it all in?  God has given us countless material blessings…do we hold on to the material blessings tightly, or do we share generously and freely with the poor? 

If we do share our money freely with the poor, the poor will be there on the day of judgment ready to explain to God how we helped them and we put their needs ahead of our own needs. And, lest we think we are buying the vote of a poor person for us on the day of judgment, St. Thomas Aquinas clarifies that those of us who give alms to the poor in order to obtain from them the assistance of their prayers do not give with the intent of buying their prayers; but by our giving generously to the poor we can inspire the poor to pray for us out of charity. (Summa, second part of the second part, question 100, article 3, reply to objection 2)

Lord, may you open our hearts to continue to grow in generosity toward the poor in our own community and all throughout the world.  Amen!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Our Lady of Sorrows Homily for 2022

Our Lady of Sorrows

When I was up at Mayo Clinic after my first brain surgery, it took me about 5 days to wake up.  I was only awake about 5 minutes each day, and the thing I remember seeing is my Mom at the foot of my bed.  Sometimes it was night and she was hunched over in a chair sleeping at my feet.  Other times she was praying a rosary.  A few weeks later I remember telling my friend Fr. Meyer as I was preparing to go the next morning into emergency surgery…I said “I know this is harder on my friends and family than it is me.”  And I meant my mom and dad first and foremost.

 

Mary too was at the foot of the Cross, and while my parents and family and myself are all sinners, Mary and Christ were both without sin.  So their love was even more perfect than my mother and family’s love for me, but also love does not really admit of degrees.

 

Saint Bernard in today’s office of readings says “Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart.  For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son”

 

Some of us here today might not know their mother.  Some of us here today may not have a good relationship with their mother.  And some of us here this morning may have a mother who has died.  But now our Blessed Mother sits in Heaven at the right side of her son Jesus.  She is now the mother of all of us, so whether we have a great relationship with our earthly mother or not, Mary desires nothing more than to intercede for us and our intentions.

 

Let us go to Mary with our needs and our intentions, asking Her to place our needs and petitions at the foot of Her Son, where once she watched him die, but now rejoices with Him in Heaven.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Bob Boyle Funeral Homily

 

Bob Boyle funeral homily

 

First of all to Rita, on behalf of all of us in this Church, it was an honor and a privilege to have a front row seat for your 69 years of married life with Bob.  The way you cared for him during his battle with Alzheimer’s, even taking a job as a receptionist at the Hermitage during Covid so that you could still be with him every day…heroic even falls short of describing what you did for Bob and how you loved him more than yourself.

 

Sean and Angie, Colleen and Mark, Molly and Ed, Kevin and Amy and Brian and Q, it was an also an honor and a privilege to see how you all supported Rita in your various ways.  In our first reading today we heard this “take care of your father when he is old, even if his mind fail, be considerate of him.”  You all lived that out in a special way that none of us who watched from a distance will ever forget.

 

The south side Catholic community is a village, and there is truth that it does take a village to raise children.  Melissa Allerd, Don Elbreg, Kirk Heisig, Myself, Matt Hollowell, Father Tony Hollowell, Kathy Marren, Mike Moylan, Jimmy Moylan, Ann Reece, Judy Reichmuth, Matt Tebbe, and Candy Thorn all spent significant time growing up at 421 Daffon Drive and that circle only expanded as the Boyle children grew older.

 

Brian started an annual golf tournament when Bob was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s with the intent of bringing Fathers and Sons together, and that golf tournament has impacted tons of Father-Son relationships, and most of those fathers and sons are here today.  The annual golf tournament got a write up in Golf Digest, and at the end of the article Bob shared:  "Thank God for my son. This trip is the best thing that ever happened to us."

 

Bob loved the Catholic Church.  He was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, some of whom are here today.  He was an active member of the Knights of Columbus.  He loved all things Irish, and Saint Patrick’s day was always his favorite day of the year.  He was a huge Notre Dame fan, which is a requirement for any Irish Catholic.

He spent most of his retirement in service to the Catholic Church.  He helped with technology here at St. Barnabas, and his kind Irish heart even allowed him to cross over into enemy territory to help at St. Jude with their technology as well!  He donated his time also to Roncalli High School, and IPS – teaching elementary computer technology.  Here at St. Barnabas, Bob also served as a reader for Masses, as a member of the Finance and Technology Committees, he served on the Parish Council, and, fittingly, he served as a marriage prep mentor to couples preparing for marriage at St. Barnabas. 

 

 

 

We hear about the summit of the Catholic Faith in our Gospel today. That center of the Catholic Church is the belief in Jesus Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.  The belief that Christ is really present, Body Blood Soul and Divinity at Mass made the Catholic Mass a non-negotiable for him and his family every weekend.  I remember coming to Saint Barnabas often after spending a Saturday night at the Boyle’s.  It was not even a question…Bob took Jesus’ words seriously and came with his family to Mass every week, and it formed the center of Bob’s life.  In our Gospel today Jesus says to a crowd “Amen Amen I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”  Bob ate the Body of Christ, and so we now commend Bob to Jesus, trusting that Jesus will keep his promise and raise Bob up on the last day.

 

Bob Boyle, know that we will continue to offer Masses for you and to pray for you.  Please pray for us.   

"Where is Heaven" - Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 2022

 

Where is Heaven? Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sam Harris, who is a celebrity in the atheist community, several weeks ago asked the question, “Where is Heaven anyway?” He then gave the response: “We have all these satellites in space and no one has even seen heaven”

 

Sam Harris echoed the now 60-year-old comment from Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin after the first manned spaceflight when Yuri said "I went up to space, but I didn't encounter God."

 

Saint Paul, however, in our 2nd reading today, gives us the only real and logical notion of Heaven and God when Saint Paul says “To the king of ages, invisible, the only God”  invisible means not able to be seen. 

 

Here is what Sam Harris and Yuri Gagarin and most atheists do not understand: time and space are finite concepts, and God is not limited by them.   The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph 2794 that when we pray “Our Father, who art in Heaven” Heaven does not mean a place and the Catechism continues “Our Father is not "elsewhere": God transcends everything we can conceive of”

 

I think Sam Harris is expressing a question that most Catholics have as well about Heaven and its location.

 

But we can rest assured that Heaven is real even though it is not present somewhere in the universe.  God made the universe, and time and space.  Heaven is occupied by the angels and all the saints who have died in a state of grace and, every person in Heaven is experiencing eternal and infinite bliss beyond the universe.

 

Lord, we ask tonight for the strength to continue to conform our lives to your plan, knowing that when we do that, it helps us both to experience peace in this life, even amidst great suffering, and also our conforming our lives to your plan will eventually allow us to enter the eternal and infinite bliss of seeing you face to face in Heaven.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Joyce Barrell funeral homily

 

First of all, I would like to thank every parishioner of Annunciation.  To try and list everyone who helped Joyce would be pointless because literally every parishioner helped Joyce in some way.

 

First of all, a lot of parishioners were involved in cleaning out her rental apartment.  Joyce had some sort of mental break when her mother died, and basically her apartment was frozen in time from when her mom died.  As we were cleaning out her rental 7 or 8 years ago, We found a lot of cards from Joyce’s mom to Joyce with the “Hallmark Lady who was always saying inappropriate things, was always wearing a hat and a coat and smoking.”  It occurred to me after seeing all of those cards that perhaps Joyce was in some way, in the deep recesses of her mind, keeping that connection to her mom alive by acting that character out every day, even though it got her thrown out of most of the establishments in Brazil!


 

The entire parish was involved because our St. Vincent DePaul Society paid for 3 dumpsters worth of trash to be hauled away from her apartment, parishioners helped mover her into the Brazil towers, parishioners straightened out her finances, parishioners did her legal work, parishioners helped her when it was time to move from Brazil towers to the nursing home, parishioners brought Joyce the Eucharist while she was in the nursing home.

 

Caring for Joyce Barrell is the single greatest act, on the part of a parish, that I have ever witnessed as a pastor.

 

And, in caring for Joyce, I think we all learned again the lesson that is all over the New Testament; caring for someone does not just help that person, and it is not just some tally mark that goes into our column only to be paid out to us at the Final Judgment; no, helping Joyce changed every single one of us, for the better, WHILE we were helping her.

 

Joyce Barrell, we will continue to pray for you.  Please pray for us!  Amen.

"The Church's Teaching on Contraception Brought Me Back to the Catholic Church"

 This is a talk given by Dr. Maria Bajuyo at one of my parishes 7 years ago.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Talk 5 Years Ago on ministering to people with gender issues

 I think this talk was one of my best so far, not because I planned it out that way, but because the Holy Spirit took over in some spots and allow me the opportunity to process some of the things that had happened over the first few years of my priesthood.  I hope it helps some of you.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Homily for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 2022

 

St. Bede provides us some comfort when we hear Jesus say in our Gospel today “anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple”  St. Bede says there is a difference between renouncing all of our possessions, which Jesus DOES ask us to do, and LEAVING all of our possessions, which Jesus only asks some people to do.

 

The people that Jesus asks to LEAVE their possessions are monks and nuns

 

So first of all, some of you here today might be hearing Jesus call you to LEAVE all your possessions and follow him.  Let me know at some point if you are hearing Jesus invite you to becoming a monk or a nun, and I can help answer any initial questions and connect you with people who will help you figure out where God is calling you to.

But most of us, myself included, are not monks or nuns, so the question remains from our Gospel today: what does it look like for me to RENOUNCE my possessions but not leave them all behind?

 

And elsewhere in the Gospels Jesus gives us some examples because there are an infinite number of ways that we can loosen our grip on our material possessions…

Matthew 5:40 Jesus says if someone asks for your coat, give them your coat and also your undercoat as well

Are we willing, at a moment’s notice, to give to someone who needs what we have?

 

Jesus also says if someone wants you to accompany them for a mile, Jesus instructs us to accompany them for 2 miles. 

Do we have friends or family who desire us to help them?  Nursing homes are awfully lonely places, do we go and visit family and friends there?  Do we visit fellow parishioners? 

Are there other ways, besides walking, that we can accompany those who need some of our time?  Time is a precious commodity in our culture…are we generous with our time?

We don’t necessarily need to leave all of our possessions behind, but I think if we are honest we can loosen on our grip on our possessions, on our money and our time.  If we don’t at least loosen our grip, we risk not being a disciple of Jesus.

Monday, August 29, 2022

The Path of Humility - Homily for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, year C, 2022

 

A theme that we hear about in both our first reading and in our Gospel today is humility.  There are at least a thousand different true directions that a homily on humility could take, so I would just like to focus on one aspect of humility.  Humility can be understood as not being afraid of being humiliated.

 

I was listening to Catholic Radio this week, and a person brought up that particular aspect of humility as not being afraid of being humiliated.

 

And that struck me as so true.  So often, I am afraid of being humiliated, and while, since becoming a priest, I have not lied to avoid being humiliated, I certainly have in some instances not been as forthcoming as I could have been in order to avoid being humiliated.

 

And so I think one question for all of us, including myself, for an examination of conscience is “do I avoid being humiliated?”

 

And lest this homily sound like some random reflection on humility, I think it is important to call to mind that Jesus EMBRACED being humiliated.  He is 100 percent human like us in every way, and yet

He allowed himself to be humiliated by the spitting and the punches of the soldiers whom He created,

He allowed himself to be humiliated by getting whipped with cords and crowned with thorns

He also allowed himself to be humiliated by being stripped of all of his clothing in front of his Mom and everyone else who saw His Crucifixion.

And Jesus’s death on a cross was considered the ultimate humiliation for a faithful Jew (which Jesus was) because Deuteronomy chapter 21 says a person who is put to death on a tree is cursed

 

Humility is the antidote to pride, and so often our fear of being humiliated is rooted in our pride.  May we never run from an opportunity to embrace humiliation.   May we never lie or tell only part of the truth in order to avoid humiliation.

Saint Augustine, who we always remember every August 28th in the Catholic Church said “Let us follow Christ’s paths which He established, above all the path of humility

Avoiding humiliation, whether in our marriage, our family, our parish, or in our larger community, is a great temptation.  But let us not avoid humiliation but rather embrace those moments head on, because Jesus first embraced all of His humiliation.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Queenship of Mary, August 22nd 2022

 

Today the Church celebrates the Queenship of Mary

 

This memorial was set up with an encyclical written by Pope Pius XII in 1954

 

The encyclical has lots of awesome references, mostly from early Saints in the Church, and so I would just like to mention some of them In case anyone is under the impression that Mary’s queenship was just discovered in 1954

St. Andrew of Crete frequently attributes the dignity of a Queen to the Virgin Mary. For example, he writes, "Today Christ transports from her earthly dwelling, as Queen of the human race, And in another place he speaks of "the Queen of the entire human race.”

St. Germanus speaks to the humble Virgin in these words: "Be enthroned, Lady, for it is fitting that you should sit in an exalted place since you are a Queen and glorious above all kings."

She is called by St. John Damascene "Queen, ruler, and lady," and also "the Queen of every creature."

In the eighth century Gregory II called the Mother of God: "The Queen of all Christians."

Pope Sixtus IV described Mary as the Queen Who is always vigilant to intercede with the king whom she bore.

Pope Benedict XIV wrote an encyclical called Mary the Queen of heaven and earth

St. Alphonsus Ligouri, wrote "Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of 'Queen'.

Furthermore, the Church sings hymns such as "Hail, Holy Queen"

 

We can rest assured that since her Assumption, Mary was crowned the queen of Heaven and Earth, and desire nothing more than to intercede for us.

 

Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, pray for us!

Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

 

Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”

 

1)    First of all, that same question is asked by lots of people today to Jesus, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”  But see what Jesus does; He doesn’t answer the question.  And really, what good would it have done if Jesus had answered that question? 

 

If Jesus had said “Yes only a few will be saved”, everyone would still wonder “But will I be saved?” 

 

And likewise if Jesus had answered, “No, lots of people will be saved” that answer leaves the individual person still wondering about their salvation.  Instead of answering the question, Jesus responds with this line “Strive to enter through the narrow gate”.  It seems to me that one of the things Jesus is doing here is He is again restating the importance of following His teachings in this moment, right now, today.  And then we are to do the same thing the next day, and if we string enough days together where we cooperate with God’s plan, then Heaven will be there for us at the end.

 

2)    Secondly, that is what I love about being Catholic…the Church echoes the teachings of Jesus Christ and gets us to focus on the here and now as the only arena of spiritual battle of importance.  So many of us are worried and even haunted by the sins in our past, but one confession restores us back to full spiritual strength. 

 

At the same time, so many of are worried and fearful for what the future will hold, but Christ encourages us to trust in Him.  And Christ and His Bride the Catholic Church tell us a thousand different ways that the present moment is where Christ is to be found, and He is most clearly found in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, and the central Sacrament of the Catholic Church is what we are celebrate here in this particular Mass.

 

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for shepherding us through our past, and also shepherding us through our fears of what will come, and for encouraging us to continue to strive to enter through the narrow gate! 

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.