Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Christmas 2023

 A Christmas Letter from Jesus

My Friends,

Thank you for coming and celebrating my birthday tonight (today).  I, like you, enjoy celebrating, and what we celebrate tonight is cause for much celebration because 2000 years ago, when I was born, people first began to realize that they were no longer in darkness, but that the light was attainable again.  People began to realize that I had opened a way for them not just back into the Garden of Paradise, but the infinitely greater gift of the opportunity to dwell in and with God!  As my beloved friend and disciple writes in his letter that you just heard:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light!

Although this is cause for much celebration, I want to write to you about something.  I am human, like you, and so I recognize that for a lot of you, Christmas is a time of pain.  Many of you have been blessed growing up with wonderful Christmas memories.  Let’s pause there and just smile thinking about those celebrations of the past.  Know that in those past celebrations I was there with you, in the midst of your celebrations, and your joy brought great joy to me. 

But on this side of Heaven, as we know, things can change.  A lot of you are sitting here at this Mass with a sadness because, if it were up to you, a certain person or a group of people would still be with you tonight (Today).   Through the years, this congregation has lost brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons and daughters.  Some of you are sad tonight (today) because you are separated from those who are still living, but are not able to make it home for Christmas.  Either way, whatever the cause of the separation, there is no pain like the separation of people who love each other.  I want to say to you tonight (Today) that I walk with you in your sorrow.  I would not say to you, “move on” “forget”, or “time heals all wounds” – I made you and I love you and like Job’s friends I sit with you in the midst of your sadness. 

I’ve heard the expression “I’m just trying to make it through Christmas”.  For many of you, Christmas is a more intense reminder of who is NOT here.  Precisely because past Christmasses with loved ones and family were so joyous, and were so awesome, Christmas becomes not a time for celebration but a time for being confronted by the grief and depression brought on by recalling the ghosts of Christmases past.

As I said earlier, I would not tell you to stop being sad, because I share your sadness.  I made you from before time began.  I am not a distant God who rules and commands from afar.  I made you because I love you.  And I am a human person too.  You may recall my reaction when I received word that my good friend Lazarus had died.  Again, as my friend and Apostle John wrote: “He wept”

I would like to issue an invitation to you – I want to invite you into the joy of THIS Christmas.  I was with you in the past, but I am with you right now in this moment too.  The first Christmas turned on a water faucet that is impossible to shut off.  The water flows now continuously, and that water is my presence among you.  I am flowing forth within all those who love me, bubbling up like a living stream overflowing, and so I am constantly “being born” and coming forth in this moment, in new ways

I loved you then, I love you now, and I will love you for all time.  So let Heaven and Nature sing, let Heaven and nature sing because the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.


Friday, December 22, 2023

O King of the Nations


“O King of the nations, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.”

Homily for Friday, December 22nd


Our Alleluia verse today is “O king of the nations, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust”

It is always a temptation to think the Christ is not in charge, and is not in control

But the Catholic Church has always taught that NOT ONLY is Jesus Christ the king of Heaven, but Jesus Christ is also the King of the Earth, right now, King of our Country, King of Indiana, King of the World.  In fact, we just celebrated several weeks ago the great solemnity of Jesus Christ, the king of the universe.

And one of the main teachings of the Catholic Church is that a key way that we see how Christ is King in the civil realm is through the institution of Marriage. 

And Jesus Christ, as King of the Earth, does not just care about marriage within the Catholic Church, but Jesus cares about every marriage period.  Jesus and the Catholic Church even recognize a man and woman who are both unbaptized and get married at the courthouse as a valid marriage.

So, just to reiterate, Jesus and the Catholic Church have ALWAYS understood marriage to be of central importance to any society.

In fact, there was a document “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons” issued by the Vatican several years ago that states: “If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good. By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties.”

Of course we can reject Jesus Christ the King’s authority over us, but there is a parable in Luke’s Gospel about a king who goes on a journey away from his kingdom, but remains King.  When the King returns, he says this: Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me Luke (19:27)


May we accept Jesus Christ’s kingship over our land, our lives, our families and our Church, so that when Christ returns completely and openly, we may hear him say well done, my friend, enter the Kingdom I have prepared for you from the foundation of the world!

Thursday, December 21, 2023

December 21st "Hark, my lover, here he comes"


“Hark, my lover – here he comes, springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills”

Homily for Thursday, December 21st 2023


It is so providential that we have this reading today from the Song of Songs!  There is a saying in our wider culture that “Love is Love”.  But we say in English “I love Doritos” and also “I love my spouse”…and clearly those loves are not the same thing.


In Hebrew, there are SEVEN different words for “Love” and in Greek there are FOUR different words for “Love”. 


There is so much confusion today about love and marriage…even within the Catholic Church…


One of the main things that distinguishes Human Persons from all the other animals is our ability to experience ATTRACTION and yet NOT ACT ON THE ATTRACTIONS that we experience!


Whether we are married in a valid marriage recognized by the Catholic Church, a single Catholic, a priest or a religious brother or sister, we all experience attractions of a sexual nature, but we ALL have ALL the Graces that we need to not ACT on those attractions.


Also, the Bible is FULL of teachings about how married chaste love between two spouses is a direct image of how God loves the Church, and also how God loves each of us.


Anything that would distort an image of how God loves us is an abomination in the technical sense, and sterile sexual activity is one of the sins that cries out for vengeance to Heaven.


I have a TREMENDOUS respect for people who experience same sex attraction, and yet are trying to live chastely…I raised over 90,000 dollars 10 years ago to make a documentary on some of those people who experience same sex attraction and none the less love being Catholic and were willing to appear on camera.  The documentary is called “The Third Way” and I am proud to say that it has been viewed millions of times.  It is for free on YouTube and Vimeo.  Click HERE to view "The Third Way"


All of us are called to chastity... to direct our sexual attractions in the proper direction, thus all imaging, in our various states in life, the perfect Love that God has for us.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The Catholic Faith Can be Grasped by Children


Confusion in the Church?

Homily for Tuesday, December 19th 2023


Advent is a special time for us to, among other things, focus on our Blessed Mother.

One of the titles of Our Blessed Mother is “Mother of the Church”, and for the last year or so I have been asking “Mary the Mother of the Church” to intercede for us at the end of my daily rosary.

There is a lot of confusion in the Church in our own day.  But confusion in the Catholic Church is nothing new.  In 325, The Council of Nicaea settled the Arian controversy definitively, but 70 years later, in 395, St. John Henry Newman, who wrote a wonderful book on the history of the Arian Controversy, found that number of bishops who were following the heresy of Arianism had GROWN to 95%


There was a bishop fighting the Arian Heresy long after the Council of Nicaea, and his name is St. Athanasius…there is a saying about St. Athanasius “Athanasius against the World” because he was one of only a few bishops who was teaching true Catholic teaching in the late 300’s…and he was sent into exile 5 times.


Confusion from authorities in the Catholic Church has been a story since the 300’s.  It is nothing new.


The Catholic teaching, Jesus said, can be understood by children.  Be wary of anyone who muddies the waters with an excess of words.  Jesus also said that anyone who causes a child to stumble, it would be better for that person to be drowned in the sea with a millstone tied around their neck.


May Our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary, under the title of “Mother of Church”, intercede for us today and always!

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent 2023

Rejoice?  Let nothing steal your joy!!!


Today we celebrate “Rejoice” Sunday…"Rejoice" is the first word of our entrance antiphon, and we hear about the need to rejoice in both the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading, and the first 2 words from our 2nd reading are St. Paul’s telling the Thessalonians to “Rejoice always”


First of all, joy is filtered through each of our different personalities, it does not look the same in every human person, but joy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

There are lots of things “of the world” that are constantly trying to steal our joy.  I would just like to talk about the main one that I have seen robbing my joy in my life…smartphones/social media/tv


I had over 100,000 followers on social media, but I recognized around the time I stepped away for chemo that it was all too much, and all of it was turning me into a person I did not like.


I am a huge J.R.R. Tolkien fan, and his main works is “The Lord of the Rings”.  The Devil character has these “seeing stones” scattered around the world, about 8 of them, and the Devil character is not allowed to show anything that isn’t true, but he shows true things in such a way to get people to despair…the Devil character intentionally withholds the fuller picture…


And that is just the perfect analogy for what our smart phones/social media and televisions do…they show true things, but often in such a way as to get us to not rejoice but rather to fall into despair.


I got rid of my smartphone and got off all social media and I don’t watch any television anymore.  We have a tv in the rectory, but it doesn’t have any channels and we have it just to watch Lord of the Rings😊


I have become infinitely more full of joy since getting rid of my smartphone, and social media and tv.


This is the season where young people ask for smartphones…I can’t recommend a lightphone enough.  (click here to learn more)  It has texting, phone calls, and driving directions…it would make the perfect gift for any child or teenager (or adult)


Let us, during this Mass, ask the Lord to show us anything in our lives that is robbing us of our joy, and let us quickly remove those things from our life!

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

"Silence and Presence" Homily for the First Sunday of Advent 2023


Homily on Silence December 2 and 3 2023


Jesus says in our short Gospel, three different times, that we should Watch!

What better way to “watch” than to sit in silence for a few minutes in adoration of Jesus truly among us in the Eucharist.

That is what we are going to be doing at the end of today’s Mass – just a few minutes of silence.

One of the best books I have ever read is titled “The Power of Silence” by Cardinal Robert Sarah, and the subtitle is “The Dictatorship of Noise” and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

And I would just like to share a few amazing quotes from it

First of all, Cardinal Sarah teaches “Silence is not an absence…on the contrary it is the manifestation of a presence.”

Last night, when we ended Mass with a few minutes of silent adoration at St. Lawrence, you could have heard a pin drop but it was also really clear that the Holy Spirit was there in our midst…


Secondly, a question I get a lot is “Father, is it a sin to get distracted in prayer and is it a sin to get distracted at Mass?”  And so I am happy to report that the Catechism says it is in no way a sin to get distracted…it says all that is necessary when you find yourself distracted at Mass and prayer is to just make a quick prayer “Jesus, I was distracted…I know it is not a sin, help me to refocus on you!”

Cardinal Sarah also shares a beautiful way to move forward from distractions, and he talks about how we get all these things thrown at us when we try to be silent, but he says during prayer time it is absolutely necessary to not to listen or engage with them, and that those temptations and distractions come to us, but they are not FROM us…


Finally, Cardinal Sarah says this “We are bombarded by noise and noise is often a deceptive and addictive tranquilizer…noise stubbornly hates silence, and our culture detests the things that silence brings us to…encounter, wonder, and kneeling before God”


I look forward to ending Mass this morning with a few minutes of silent adoration kneeling before God!