Monday, July 31, 2023
Saturday, July 29, 2023
“Let us pray!”
I am convinced that the best thing we can be doing with our time is praying for ourselves and other people. Being laid up with cancer for about 2 years, I realized that the most important thing each of us can do is pray. Pray for ourselves, and pray for each other, pray for the world, pray for those who have died...
Several years ago, I started the practice of praying for a particular person or a particular family and then
Writing them a HAND WRITTEN NOTE
Letting them know the DATE I prayed for them
And the TYPE of prayer that it was
It could be a rosary
It could be a holy hour in Church
It could be during a 10-minute walk outside
Also, and this is something Fr. Meyer and I have talked about making more well known, we are supposed to have a person, either living or deceased, who we bring with us in prayer to each Mass. The cantor announces the priest's intentions right before Mass, but each person, at every Mass, should also have a person or two who are THEIR intention at each Mass.
Both Fr. Meyer and I typically pray the first Eucharistic Prayer. Early on in that Eucharistic prayer, there is a time where the priest stops. That is a time where you can mention, in prayer, a person or two who is LIVING who are your intention at this particular Mass.
Toward the end of the Eucharistic Prayer 1, there is a moment where the priest pauses, and that is an opportunity for each lay person to mention, in prayer, a person or two who has died who are your specific intention at this particular Mass.
And so feel to write a note to the person who is still living who was your intention at the Mass. Maybe just say: “Hey, you were my intention at Mass on (date), hope you are doing well!”
If the person is deceased, you could write a note to the family “Just wanted to let you know that the repose of the soul of ____ was my intention at Mass on (date)”
I have started making my way through the 2,000 registered families and people of Dearborn County, so it will probably take me several years, but know as well that I pray every morning for all of my parishioners in general, and not just my parishioners, but all of those who live in our parish boundaries.
A lot of people in our culture today say that prayer is worthless but there are many psychological studies all saying, just from a scientific perspective, about the value or prayer/meditation on lowering blood pressure, heart health, etc.
And on the spiritual level, prayer is a VERY powerful tool, always having effects in both our life and in the lives of those we pray for, even though those effect are not able to be seen by most observers.
Prayer is something that changes ourselves, those we pray for, and the whole world. Let us pray for one another, and other people as well, trusting that what is unseen is more powerful than what is seen.
I encourage you to write one hand written note each day to a person or family who you have prayed for, letting them know that you prayed for them.
Saturday, July 22, 2023
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – “The Wheat and the Weeds”
'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' Jesus replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who I will definitely mention in other homilies as well because he is such a fascinating figure who lived through several different imprisonments in Russian prison camps before coming to the US and warning the US that he was seeing things similar to Communism that were already taking place in the US. He gave one of the most epic commencement speeches of all time to Harvard graduates in 1978 where he gave that warning!
But anyway, some of us likely have a good question which is “why doesn’t Jesus just destroy all the evil people in the world.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn answers our question this way “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”
The fact is that we are not allowed to give up on anyone. We all have evil in our hearts, although none of need let evil triumph in our hearts nor in our lives, but because each of us has evil in our hearts, none of us is allowed to judge another person as good or evil. We ought to judge actions, but never judge persons.
I realized this year during Lent as I was proclaiming the Palm Sunday Passion narrative from Matthew. In that Passion narrative it says the two thieves on either side were reviling Jesus.
But Luke’s Gospel recounts how, as Jesus’ death draws nearer, one of the thieves rebukes the other, and then asks Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into His kingdom, and Jesus says “Today you will be with me in Paradise”
What is the takeaway from these Gospel passages? it is that when the two thieves were hung on either side of Jesus, they were both mocking Jesus. But one thief, whether it was conversation with Jesus or simply watching Jesus suffer, in his last moments of his life, turns to Jesus, understanding now fully that Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah and makes this beautiful request
The lesson for us is obvious – we are not allowed to judge anyone, nor are we allowed to give up on anyone. But by the way we live our lives, by the ways that we endure suffering patiently and with hope, those things will attract people, and will inspire some of them to convert at the very end of their lives.
We pray that each of us will have the courage to endure suffering patiently, and so be a witness to all who see us, and inspire those who would have otherwise been thrown into the fire at the end of time.
Saturday, July 15, 2023
Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023
“Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth…so shall my word be…my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”
One of the manifestations of the Word of God mentioned in our First Reading today is the Bible.
There are, first of all, 2 false extremes regarding the Bible that I would like to address.
Certainly, most non-Catholic Christians and Catholics focus on our shared belief in Jesus to work together to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, run crisis pregnancy centers and so forth…99% of non-Catholic Christians are, as we sing in the Gloria are “people of good will”
But some of you who attended the Dearborn County fair were handed this pamphlet “Roman Catholicism: Scripture vs. Tradition”. Others have had their Catholic Faith directly questioned by other pamphlets. The proper response to a non-Catholic wanting to hand you a tract against the Catholic Church is to not take the tract, but instead ask the question “Why are there 20,000 different denominations, all claiming to be based on the Bible alone?” Jesus often answered questions from the Pharisees with another question, and those attacking Catholicism deserve to be asked another question as well.
On the other extreme, some who are in positions of teaching authority in the Catholic Church are teaching things DIRECTLY contradicted by the core teachings of the Bible. We need to pray for the conversion of these teachers, that they would return to the core teachings found in the Bible.
In conclusion, what is a healthy approach to the Bible? When I was a sophomore in college, I made a commitment to read one chapter of the Gospels each day. In doing that for 5 minutes each day, God spoke to me and put on my heart something I had never even considered up to that point…as I read one chapter of the Gospels each day, I heard on my heart God calling me to be a priest.
I encourage all of us here today to read one chapter of the Gospels each day. It is amazing how God will use that 5 minutes to speak to you a specific Word of guidance and comfort in that Gospel chapter. As we hear in the first reading, the Word of God always bears fruit in the lives of those who immerse themselves in it.
Saturday, July 8, 2023
“Come to me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest”
So MANY people, even ourselves, ARE tired, ARE weary and are looking for rest
The Devil is bombarding all of us with anxieties, noise, unrest, and the blinding light of our technological and mechanical world.
Given all of that, I had placards made at my previous Churches saying that all are welcome, and then below that I had the quote from today’s Gospel…”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
THIS Catholic Church building, and all the Catholic Churches around the world, are the LAST place the Devil wants people to come
1. Just a couple of stories. I got a phone call several years ago, and it was a guy who said that he had driven past the sign outfront of our Church for years, knowing that he should stop and come in. He then related that he literally sat in the Church parking lot for 30 minutes trying to work up the courage to come in before he finally did come in, and so he was calling me to say thanks.
2. A person who became Catholic was relating to me that in her 20’s she lived a life completely of the world. Crystals, raiki, oija boards, the occult, drugs, etc. and she said that one time she was walking past a Catholic Church and she was prompted to go in, and as she reached for the door handle, the Devil literally curled her hand and would not let her grab the door handle. She said fortunately there was a person coming out of the Church, and that person held the door open for her and she was able to come in
First of all, the Devil is also wanting to keep you out of this place, or, if you come in, which you all have, he will then try to get you out of here as quickly as possible. Stay a few minutes. Come back some time when the Church is open. Visit a Blessed Sacrament chapel. This is the year where the Eucharistic Revival is going on in every parish in the country. We need first of all to remind ourselves that being in the Real Presence of Jesus is refreshing, renewing, and reinvigorating.
And in conclusion, each of us here today knows at least 5 people that need the peace that we have found in this Church building. I beg you to go out and invite them to come into this Church building, and then offer to come with them. The Devil might keep their hand from opening the door, so be a hand for them if they need it.