Saturday, February 25, 2023

The Litany of Humility - Homily for the First Sunday of Lent, 2023


The Litany of Humility – Homily for the First Sunday of Lent 2023


In our first reading today, we see Satan tempting our first parents in the Garden of Eden, and he is successful in his temptation.  We see Satan tempting Jesus in our Gospel today, and Jesus thwarts Satan’s pride by pride’s opposite virtue, which is humility.

And the Catholic Church has a “Litany of Humility” which was composed by Cardinal Merry del Val in the early 1900’s and it is this:


O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, O Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Charity is patient, is kind; charity does not envy, is not pretentious, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, is not self-seeking, is not provoked; thinks no evil, does not rejoice over wickedness, but rejoices with the truth, bears with all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

To have Charity is to love God above all things for Himself and be ready to renounce all created things rather than offend Him by serious sin. ( Matt. 22:36-40)

Friday, February 24, 2023

Suffering for Doing What is Right

"What credit is there for you if you are patient when you are beaten for doing what is wrong? 

But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is right, this is a grace before God."

1 Peter 2:20

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Ash Wednesday 2023


The God of the Old Testament is some times thought of wrongly as an angry God.  But in light of that, in case there is any doubt in anyone’s mind here today, this Ash Wednesday I would like to go through a list of sins that Saint Paul, Jesus, and Saint John mention in the NEW TESTAMENT that keep one from Heaven.


Saint Paul says in First Corinthians chapter 6 that “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”


Saint Paul tells the Galatians that “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”


Saint Paul tells the Ephesians in chapter 5: “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, Nor should there be obscenity…of this you can be sure: No sexually immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

And Saint John relates in Revelation “Outside of Heaven are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

In Matthew, chapter 25 Jesus says “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’


I, Fr. Hollowell, have done lots of things in those lists.  But here is the thing…I have confessed them all in the Sacrament of Confession, and now God no longer holds them against me.

The ashes you receive on your forehead today are a reminder of your sins.  The ashes can be washed off. But only in the Sacrament of Reconciliation can you actually be cleansed from sexual immorality, adultery, homosexual sex, thievery, drunkenness, slander, impurity, witchcraft, hatred, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, envy, orgies, murder, liars, and those that do not recognize Jesus in the poor.

Jesus looks at you with love today, and asks you to leave your sins behind and sin no more.  Let us heed His call. 

I will be in the confessional until everyone who wants to go to confession today has had that opportunity.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Homily for Saint Peter Damien, 2023


Today, the Church honors Saint Peter Damien, who is a doctor of the Church.  As with most saints, he preferred to live a life of prayer and solitude in a monastery, but the Catholic Church had other intentions for him.


His most famous work is this book, “The Book of Gomorrah” which is all about the sexual sins of priests against children.  One passage in the book says this “A cleric or monk who persecutes adolescents or children, or who is caught in a kiss or other occasion of indecency, should be publicly beaten and lose his tonsure, and having been disgracefully shaved, his face is to be smeared with spittle, and he is to be bound in iron chains, worn down with six months of imprisonment, and three days every week to fast on barley bread until sundown. After this, spending his time separated in his room for another six months in the custody of a spiritual senior, he should be intent upon the work of his hands and on prayer, subject to vigils and prayers, and he should always walk under the guard of two spiritual brothers, never again soliciting sexual intercourse from youth by perverse speech or counsel.”


Another quote from a chapter titled “On rectors of the Church who are soiled with their spiritual children", Saint Peter Damien says this: “O unheard of crime!  O offense to be mourned with a whole fountain of tears!  If they who consent to those who do these things are to be struck with death, what can be conceived of as a worthy punishment for those who commit these evils, which are punishable by eternal damnation, with their spiritual children?”


I recently read an article on a fairly traditional Catholic website, and the thesis of the article was that the reforms made in 2002 have largely worked, and the author compared the Catholic abuse numbers to that of the Chicago Public School system.  I can’t even imagine trying to compare the 2 situations.  First of all, does the author not know how much more scandalous it is for a Catholic priest to abuse a child than for a public school teacher?  Also, does the author not know that while school children tend to report abuse pretty quickly, it takes a child raped or molested by a priest on average about 30 years to come to grips with what has happened to them, if they haven’t already killed themselves out of shame?


As we hear in our Gospel today, Jesus, Taking a child, placed the child in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me."


For this Lent, I will be offering up all of my sufferings for the victims of Catholic Clergy sexual assault, Catholic clergy sexual grooming, and Catholic clergy sexual harassment, that the living will find justice today, and those who are deceased, even by suicide, might one day be allowed into the eternal bless of Heaven.


Saint Peter Damien, please pray for all the victims throughout the 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church, and also please pray that any Catholic cleric who has harmed a child or any other person, in any way with regards to human sexuality, would immediately step away from the priesthood, and live a life of profound penance.

Monday, February 20, 2023

"Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect" homily for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023


“Be Perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect”

A lot of us hear that and think that Jesus does not REALLY mean we should be perfect…but Jesus does want us to be perfect moving forward…and we stand on the cusp of a great season to help us grow in perfection…

Lent start this Wednesday with Ash Wednesday Masses and Liturgy of the Word services with ashes.  The season of Lent provides three ways we can grow closer to perfection

Prayer.  What are we adding to our prayer life every day this lent?  Maybe it is a daily rosary if you haven’t been praying that, maybe it is the daily Mass readings if you haven’t been doing that.  Also on the topic of prayer just know that one of the most confessed sins is distraction in prayer and distraction at Mass.  Please know that it is NOT a sin to be distracted in prayer/Mass unless you are WILLING and ACTIVELY CHOOSING to be distracted.


Fasting is for Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59, excluding anyone who is sick, or suffers from Diabetes, nor are pregnant nor nursing mothers required to fast.  The 2 days of Fasting in the Catholic Church are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Fasting is one meal and 2 smaller meals that, added together, do not equal a meal.  Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all other Fridays during Lent we should also not eat meat if we are 14 years or older.  All those are the regulations and laws with Fasting, but we should also be fasting throughout Lent from something every day.  Maybe it is desserts and/or TV and/or social media…


Which leads into the third way we grow in perfection, and that is through giving alms to the poor.  In America, we are so tremendously blessed with wealth…are we sharing it with those around us???  Also, I think another import aspect to almsgiving is one that Pope Francis has made a central theme of his pontificate – to encounter the poor directly…to not just give them a handout but to have a conversation with them…to honor their human dignity.


Let us use this upcoming season of Lent to grow more perfect, day by day, and thus heed Jesus’s call in today’s Gospel to become perfect!

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

"Envy" a homily for Monday, February 13th, 2023

“The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not.  Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen.”  

Sometimes, the Catechism can provide an entire homily, and so I would like to use the Catechism today, because the Catechism’s section on envy is beautiful, even though it likely disturbs us in some ways.

2538 The tenth commandment requires that envy be banished from the human heart.

Envy can lead to the worst crimes. (And the footnote here is to this passage from Genesis)

The Catechism continues: "Through the devil's envy death entered the world"

The Catechism here quotes from a sermon by Saint John Chrysostom, whose relic we have on our rerdos here at Saint Paul’s:

Saint John Chrysostom says “We fight one another, and envy arms us against one another. . . . If everyone strives to unsettle the Body of Christ, where shall we end up? We are engaged in making Christ's Body a corpse. . . . We declare ourselves members of one and the same organism, yet we devour one another like beasts."

The Catechism continues, saying “Envy is a capital sin. It refers to the sadness at the sight of another's goods”

Here we can pause and reflect “am I sad at the success of a fellow Catholic?” 

The Catechism continues: “When envy causes a human person to wishes grave harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin:

Here the Catechism quotes St. Augustine, who saw envy as "the diabolical sin."... "From envy are born hatred, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbor, and displeasure caused by his prosperity."

2540 Envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity; the baptized person should struggle against it by exercising good will. Envy often comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility:

And here the Catechism quotes from another sermon by St. John Chrysostom:

"Would you like to see God glorified by you? Then rejoice in your brother's progress and you will immediately give glory to God. Because his servant could conquer envy by rejoicing in the merits of others, God will be praised."

Let us resolve to affirm the good we see in each other, and in each other's actions, particularly when we feel ourselves being tempted to be envious of them.

Monday, February 13, 2023

"Upping the Bar" - Homily for the 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, 2023


“Upping the Bar” – Homily for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023

In our Gospel today, Jesus says I have come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, and so it is important to understand the various types of laws that we find in the Old Testament.  Some laws in the Old Testament were CULTURAL laws – laws to help the Israelites form a culture of their own…so we find laws like “you shall not eat shell fish” and “garments must be made of one color”…those laws obviously do not apply to us anymore.  The 2nd type of laws that we find in the Old Testament are LITURGICAL laws… “you shall make the Tabernacle this way” and “here are the specific instructions for the altar” and “here’s how many candles you should have” and all of these liturgical laws are fulfilled in the Catholic Church…our parish Church buildings are laid out very similarly to the Liturgical laws laid down first in the Old Testament. 


The third type of law, which Jesus mentions in today’s Gospel, are the MORAL laws of the Old Testament.  These are the laws that Jesus says He has not come to abolish but to actually raise the bar. 


The first example from today’s Gospel is when Jesus says "You have heard that it was said You shall not kill; But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment”.  You shall not kill is the 5th commandment, and so Jesus says not only shall you not kill, but you should forgive your family members.  A lot of us here today do have family members we don’t like (or worse)…Jesus is saying we need to forgive those family members for OUR sake…we don’t necessarily need to let them back into our lives but we need to forgive from our side…


A second thing that Jesus says in today’s Gosepl:  "You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.  But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  More and more Catholics are addicted to pornography.  If that is you, there is a website in our bulleting about a free video resource put together by former porn addicts and approved by the Catholic Church.  To buy the videos is about $400, but you can watch them online for free.


"It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.  But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.  Civil divorce is not a sin, and separating from a spouse is not a sin.  It is a sin for Catholics who were married in the Catholic Church to separate from a spouse, and, while the former spouse is still living, marry someone else.  I have preached on this recently, and have been blessed to have lots of weddings at both parishes over the last several months, including one this afternoon here at St. Paul’s.  If you have ANY questions about marriages, I am happy to sit down and talk with you.  The Catholic Church bends over backwards to try and help Catholics fit through this window that Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel…if I can help in any way, please schedule a meeting with me.


A final instance from today’s Gospel…Jesus said "Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, Do not take a false oath, But I say to you, do not swear at all; Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.'  Anything more is from the evil one."  I have also preached on this recently as well.  Do we tell lies?  Some of us may be tempted to think that there are noble lies or white lies, but there is no middle ground.  There is THE Truth, that does not changed based on which culture one finds themselves living in, and there is THE Truth that does not change based on circumstances.


All of these instances where Jesus raises the bar of the MORAL laws in the Old Testament Jesus is also giving us the strength, through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, to clear that higher bar.  Let us resolve to cooperate more freely with the Grace that Christ is pouring out on us to clear that higher bar, finding in that striving not just a future bliss in Heaven, but also greater freedom and joy while still on Earth! 

Sunday, February 5, 2023

"No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket" - Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023


5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023 – “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket”

“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a bushel basket; but rather it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.”

I originally preached that I was healed in Lourdes to both of my parishes the 2nd weekend of October of 2022.  But some people still have questions and so I would like to provide a bit more detail.

I received my initial diagnosis up at the Mayo Clinic on February 11th, 2020 (The Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes) and got to have Mass that night in the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes which is attached to the Mayo Clinic.

Fastforward to March of 2022.  My MRI showed that the tumor was starting to grow back and that there was also now a tumor on my pituitary gland. 

Although I was perfectly happy to die and offer my life up for the victims of clergy abuse, I thought that since I received my diagnosis on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes and had Mass that night in the chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes, that I should make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France and if I was healed there, it might bring some fallen away Catholics back to the Catholic Church.

So I went to Lourdes this past June and was healed there.  It took me a while to realize I was healed because there is no pain associated with a brain tumor.  I have been in touch with the medical examiner at Lourdes, and they have a very extensive process that they go through in order to verify miracles.

Although I have been off social media for the past 2 years, I was still receiving emails from victims wondering about my medical progress so I made a video this past Monday to let victims know that I had been healed at Lourdes.

Jesus says in our Gospel today that no one lights a lamp and then places it under a basket, rather it is placed on a stand for all to see.

And here is the major point…we ALL…each one of us…has an infinitely better message than a healing…we have our Catholic Faith, we have the Sacraments of the Church that give us an infinite amount of grace if we are open to it, and the primary Sacrament that sustains the Church and holds the Church together, we have Jesus Christ becoming truly present to us in his Body, Blood, Soul, and in His Divinity at every Mass.

Are we willing to witness to that fact in a charitable and attractive way?  A question that each one of us needs to decide is “do I want to do whatever I can to get the word out that Jesus is alive and well in the Catholic Church”…or are we content to bury our light under a basket?

I pray that each one of us, in our own way, will do whatever we can, in the ways that we feel we are being nudged in prayer to do, to testify to the power of Jesus Christ alive in His Catholic Church today.