Sunday, June 25, 2023
Friday, June 16, 2023
Sacred Heart 2023 – “Both the Old and the New”
There has been much written about the new evangelization that Pope St. John Paul II called for. And so when I was contemplating starting the First Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart upon word last Spring from the Archdiocese that I would be receiving an associate pastor, and thus able to have Masses on the First Fridays, I prayed about it for a long time. And a line kept coming to me from the Gospels where Jesus says “every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
And so we celebrate the culmination of these First Friday devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart today.
This morning I was praying through the encyclical written by Pope Pius XII about the Sacred Heart Devotion, and so I would like to share a few lines with you from this encyclical:
“There are some who sometimes go so far as to consider this devotion ill-adapted to the more pressing spiritual needs of the Church and humanity in this present age.”
It seems to me that this is in fact what is going on in our world today, and I have sometimes fallen into the trap of thinking that, but over the last 20 years, I have been gradually realizing the power of this particular devotion.
Pius XII continues: “There are some who, confusing this devotion with various individual forms of piety which the Church approves and encourages but does not command, regard this as a kind of additional practice which each one may take up or not according to his own inclination.”
I have often talked about how the Catholic Church offers a buffet of spiritual devotions, and that Jesus expects NO ONE to do them all. But this particular devotion to the Sacred Heart, Pius XII says, IS necessary for all Catholics.
The encyclical letter continues: “There are others who reckon this devotion burdensome and of little or no use to men who are fighting in the army of the divine King and who are inspired mainly by the thought of laboring with their own strength, their own resources and expenditures of their own time, to defend Catholic truth, to teach and spread it, to instill Christian social teachings, to promote those acts of religion and those undertakings which they consider much more necessary today.”
There is a tendency among Catholics in America to think that we can first of all rely on our strength and wisdom to spread the Gospel, which Pius XII explicitly rejects.
The encyclical continues: “there are those who see devotion to the Sacred Heart more suited to the use of women, since it seems to them something not quite suitable for educated men.”
“Those forces of evil which have now for so long a time been taking root and which so fiercely compel us to seek help from Him by Whose strength alone they can be driven away. Who can He be but Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God? 'For there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.' We must have recourse to Him Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
“Since then, alas, one can see that the number of those whose boast is that they are God's enemies is in some places increasing, that the false slogans of materialism are being spread by act and argument, and unbridled license for unlawful desires is everywhere being praised, is it remarkable that love, which is the supreme law of the Christian religion, the surest foundation of true and perfect justice and the chief source of peace and innocent pleasures, loses its warmth in the souls of many?”
Do we not see this happening throughout the western world today, in 2023, in an astonishing and exponentially increasing rate?
Let us continue to pray first, understanding that any true victory in the world comes through Jesus Christ, and His Inspiration of our own efforts begins first with each of bowing our head in prayer, and not first from relying on our strength.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus…Pray for Us!!!
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
Saint Anthony of Padua
Today the Catholic Church celebrates Saint Anthony of Padua, a powerful intercessor for us when we have lost something. One common prayer seeking St. Anthony’s intercession is
“Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony please come around.
Something is lost and needs to be found.”
I have prayed that prayer often, and it is amazing how often it works.
Why does Jesus grant prayers of intercession in these and lots of other situations when we seek Saint Anthony's intercession?
One of the reasons would seem to me to be because Jesus is searching and seeking us with all of His heart. Jesus is praying that we, who were lost, might be found. As the hymn “Amazing Grace” (a hymn that is not 100% theologically accurate) puts it, “I once was lost, but now am found”
How are we found by Jesus? One of the surest ways is to go regularly to the Sacrament of confession, which is offered a few minutes after this Mass. I am going to confession later tonight in Terre Haute.
Through the intercession of Saint Anthony of Padua, may we allow ourselves to once again be found by the loving and Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Sunday, June 11, 2023
Corpus Christi 2023
You may recall that last year, on Corpus Christi Sunday, there was a large Eucharistic Procession from the Cathedral in Indianapolis, down to St. John’s Catholic Church, and that Corpus Christi Procession kicked off the diocesan-level year of the National Eucharistic Revival.
Today, with our Corpus Christi processions, we begin the parish year for the Eucharistic Revival.
Often in my work as a priest I hear from those who I am speaking with some version of “Father, I don’t FEEL anything happening at Mass”. I too struggle with that doubt when I first entered the seminary and started going to daily Mass every day. I would sit there during the Mass and pray and receive the Eucharist, but I didn’t feel anything. And so I am relieved to share that story with those who also struggle with wanting to see or feel something at every Mass.
I have learned that Jesus’ presence at each Mass, after the priest prays the words of consecration over the bread and wine, is a quiet, calming presence, and not loud nor dramatic.
But there have been time throughout the 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church where the bread and wine, after the priest prayed the words of consecration over them, became actual human flesh, often because of the priest doubting.
And there is actually a young millennial who has been beatified, who created a website chronicling all of these Eucharistic miracles. He was born in 1991, and live only until 2006 when he died of Leukemia. His name is Blessed Carlo Acutis. Blessed Carlo Acutis recognized that many in his generation were walking away from the Catholic Faith, and so he created a website documenting what he rightly believed was one of the best ways to draw his generation BACK to Catholicism…Eucharistic Miracles. His website can still be viewed here: http://www.miracolieucaristici.org/en/Liste/list.html
As we begin this parish year of trying to strengthen both our own awareness of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist, and all of those around us in our community, I would propose that we seek the intercession of Blessed Carlo Acutis this year in a special way!
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Sunday, June 4, 2023
“Let us Make Man in OUR Image”
In the very FIRST chapter of the Bible, just 26 verses in we hear God refer to God’s self as “OUR”
It says “Let us make Man in our image” – so already, from the very beginning, we see that God is not just one God but some conglomeration of persons.
And yet God is also one God. God first tells Moses God’s name when God says “My name is I AM”
It took the Catholic Church about 400 years to figure out exactly how best to understand the Trinity.
But here is the point of today’s homily – one of the great figures in that hashing out of the Catholic Church’s understanding of the Trinity – God being one God but 3 persons, was St. Athanasius, and St. Athanasius wrote this: “Jesus was made man that we might be made God (On the Incarnation, Ch. LIV, Pt. III, circa 4th Cent. A.D.).
Also, similarly, St. Basil, (whose relic is right there on the rerdos) said this: “Through the Spirit…we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations – we become God.”
That is why Jesus told his disciples “It is better that I go so that the Holy Spirit can come upon you.”
At the very beginning of the Bible, it says that each human person is made in the image and likeness of God, but now, with the Holy Spirit coming upon each of us at our baptism and confirmation, we become God.
Do you believe that? And if you do believe it, do you share that with others? If we are meant to, even now, on this side of Heaven, begin to participate in the very life of the God, are we sharing that news with others?
So often, we and those around us fall NOT into the trap of asking or expecting too much of God, but rather we can fall into the trap of expecting too LITTLE of God.
Let us boldfully claim our rightful inheritance as baptized and confirmed Catholics dwelling in the very life of God with joy and peace that will attract others to seek out what we have found in the Catholic Church!