Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Homily for Wednesday of the 26th Week of Ordinary Time the Memorial of St. Jerome

How many times have we said to ourselves, “Lord, I will follow you wherever you go?” This morning when he extended the invitation to one of the disciples to follow him the disciple replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury by father.” How did the Lord respond? He said, “Let the dead bury their dead.” Very interesting! Is our Lord being heartless to a disciple who just lost his father? The answer is no.
It is fitting we speak this morning on interpretation of Sacred Scripture as we commemorate the memorial of St. Jerome patron Saint for those who study the Sacred Scriptures. He is well known for translating the Bible into the Latin vulgate. Here is where those who take a literal view on scripture need to be careful. This has nothing to do with the idea of burying the dead. As another disciple said following the first, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” The idea the Lord is trying to get across to us this morning is this habit of ours of making excuses. We all do it! When Jesus invites us to follow him, we often make excuses ourselves. Lord, I will get to that later. When dealing with a particular sin this is many times our attitude I’ll confess that later I have plenty of time. The problem is we don’t know exactly what time we have. As we go about our busy lives let us ask for the grace to never make excuses when it comes to following the Lord.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Homily for Tuesday of the 26th Week of Ordinary Time The Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

This morning we gather to celebrate the feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael the three archangels. Each of the archangels has a specific role. Michael is the protector. Many of us are familiar with the prayer to St. Michael which begins, St. Michael defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. Saint Gabriel is the one announces. He is the one who announced to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive a son. Raphael is our guide. He is seen in the Old Testament in the Book of Tobit where he guides Tobt’s son Tobiah.
As we celebrate this feast in honor of the three archangels may we ask them for the grace to persevere in living out the Gospel! Seek their help, so we can all together sing the praise of the Lord.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Problem of People leaving Mass after Communion

There is only one thing that drives me crazy as a priest and that is when people leave during communion. It seems to be a problem in every parish to which I have been assigned. Leaving Mass early because one is sick, an emergency responder on call or caring for a sick loved one is one thing. However, to leave each week on a regular basis to catch a football game or to go and be the first one in line at a local restaurant is another.
Why should we stay after receiving communion? The first reason we should stay is to say thank you to God. Each week we should be thanking Him for the wonderful gift he gives us in the Most Holy Eucharist. So often we take this gift for granted. Jesus Christ laid down His life for us on the cross and He continues to lay down His life for us in this wonderful Sacrament. When one leaves right after receiving communion it communicates our lack of gratitude for the gift our Lord has given us.
Another reason we should stay after receiving our Lord is so the Lord can impart to us His blessing and dismissal. After the prayer after communion the priest imparts our Lord’s blessing to the congregation and once he concludes the blessing, He gives the command of Christ, “to go forth in the peace of Christ,” and we together go on our way. The Lord wants so much to impart His blessing on all of us, however because of our arrogance and pride many people reject that gift by walking out on the Lord. These are two reasons one should stay after receiving communion.
Leaving after receiving communion not only shows disrespect for the Lord it also shows disrespect for those who worship. In the particular Church to which I am assigned there are two doors in the front of Church that open up to the outside. When one opens these doors it makes a noise. I cannot help as a priest of Jesus Christ to be distracted by this. Let me say this as a priest crying infants do not bother me, little accidents or mistakes within the Liturgy do not bother me, however disrespect for the Lord does! People need to understand when one leaves by way of these side doors during communion not only are they showing disrespect for the Lord, they are also distracting those who are at prayer. To those who need to leave for legitimate reasons and those who for whatever reasons feel they need to leave, I kindly ask that they leave by way of the rear of the Church that way one does not distract others at prayer.
In a parish that has a lot of activities going on where people need to leave to sell things to raise money great care must be taken that it be done in such a way that individuals need not leave early. Although groups are doing wonderful things, by leaving early they give the appearance to others that it’s ok to leave Mass early. This is not the appearance we want to give. Therefore we must strive to be attentive to these matters.
Last week after the Saturday evening Mass after noticing a lot of people leaving early I commented to those present my disappointment on the amount of people who left Mass after Communion. Actually a little less than half the Church left. I do not apologize for making those comments; however I do apologize for those who took my comments the wrong way. Yes I know I was preaching to the choir. The point I was trying to get across is that it’s not ok to leave Mass early and those who are present can assist me in making the point to those who find it necessary week after week to leave early. If those present felt I was yelling at them then I apologize, however I felt it was necessary to release my frustrations at the blatant disrespect shown to our Lord by others.
I know some will say Father we need to leave early because we don’t feel comfortable driving in a crowded parking lot. Having glaucoma in both of my eyes I can understand that however, from what I can gather if one waits five minutes after Mass lets out then this isn’t much of a problem because it’s like the max exodus. It is wrong to leave Mass early, and in fact it’s a sin. It’s a sin of arrogance and pride we feel we don't need God, it’s a lack of appreciation and gratitude for the gift we have received. What one says by leaving after just receiving communion is thanks but no thanks Lord. It is a sin most of all because of the disrespect shown to the Lord. After everything the Lord has done for us one can sacrifice five extra minutes by staying to say a quick prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord.
It is sinful and wrong to leave after receiving Communion without legitimate reason. If someone needs to leave early to care for a sick relative it always good practice to inform the priest before Mass. That way the priest Himself can remember your sick loved one in prayer. Also it is good practice for those emergency people on call to inform the priest of who they are they that way He knows you are not leaving for the sake of leaving. For those who question their reason for leaving Mass early call and make appointment with your priest and discuss the matter. If you’re questioning it then perhaps your reason for leaving is not right.
One thing I do when I am not celebrating Mass I stand outside to greet the people after Mass, however I can't help but notice at the same time those who leave early during communion. It is my hope people when they see the priest that they will begin to stop and think about what they are doing. This blog entry isn’t about yelling at people but rather calling people to a deeper holiness and respect for our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament who is a Survival for Life. In the end we all have to answer to the Lord Himself. As our Lord Himself said to Peter in the garden, “so you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” Today he poses the same question to us. This is all He asks for one hour of our time each week. After all He has done for us couldn’t we give Him at least that!
I know most people reading this blog don’t have a problem with leaving Mass early. However, I invite those reading it to send it to anyone they know who has the habit of leaving early for their reading and discernment.

Homily for Monday of the 26th Week of Ordinary Time

The Lord will build up Zion. It is our Lord who builds up His kingdom. Often times we need to be reminded of that. Jesus does just that in today’s Gospel. After His disciples were arguing among themselves about who is greatest, he says to them after placing a child in their midst, “whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”
How does one learn humility? Well the answer is simple, at least in theory, by practicing it. One of the biggest problems we face in our society is the focus on individualism and it makes it hard for us who strive to live the Gospel each day. We are molded by what we see on television or read in the newspaper or online. You and I learn humility each time we throw ourselves down before the Lord and seek His help. When we fall we humbly present ourselves to Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There is no better way to learn humility than that. The more we learn the gift of humility the more wonders the Lord can work through us.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Homily for the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“Are you jealous for my sake? We see this theme of jealousy in the first reading and the Gospel. Joshua, son of Nun said to Moses, “my Lord, stop them. John in the Gospel said to the Lord, “teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” How did the Lord respond? Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.”
Where would we find ourselves? Would we be like Joshua and John, or would we be more like the Lord? If we were to think about it most of us would probably find ourselves to be like Joshua and John. Just picture ourselves in their shoes. Perhaps they weren’t jealous. Maybe they found themselves thinking the way most of us think if we saw someone proclaiming the kingdom of God outside a Church setting, we would think they’re just a little nuts. Well maybe not just a little. Many of us would be impartial and some would be concerned. However, we must remember our Lord can work through the homeless person on the street, he works through those who suffer from mental illness, and he works through the sinner.
Today people of faith struggle with these individuals. They struggle to understand how our Lord can work through them. When they hear and see them their hearts are filled with contempt. Why? One reason is due to the mindset of our culture. Our society is centered on individualism rather than caring for the well being of others. By turning our attention inwards we become prideful and when we see others doing what we cannot or choose not to do we become jealous. What is our initial reaction? It’s the same as everyone else, what do they know they’re just crazy. Worse yet when we look at sinners we fail to see the Lord in them. We look at them and say look at so and so can you believe that they are preaching about the Lord’s love and mercy and look at how they live. Well folks I think all of us gathered here are all sinners, it’s just some peoples sins are more visible than others.
People who struggle with particular sins are not necessarily bad people. They are human beings with crosses to carry. Many carry their crosses well and when they fall they get right back up utilizing the Lord’s gift of grace through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Others, while they struggle with something in particular, they are naturally good people who would give the shirt off their backs to help another human being. There are also those who are in need of our help to bring them back to the right path. Everyone is a child of God and must be treated as such.
My dear brothers and sisters there are many times you and I fail to see Christ in others. In the letter of James we are issued a warning, “come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.” We are considered to be the greatest country in the world, why is it now that we are struggling. It’s because we turned away from the most important person in our lives, the Lord. If we want to be happy then we must turn our attention away from ourselves… our desires and wants and turn our attention back where it belongs. There is plenty of truth with our responsorial psalm, “the precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.” May we be open to His precepts so our hearts can be filled with happiness and joy!

Homily for Friday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time...Votive Mass of the Precious Blood of Christ

At the close of the Gospel our Lord told his apostles, “the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” In this passage our Lord foretells His own passion and the death. Then He foretells his own resurrection. What does this passage communicate to us? As we look at this passage we find hope in the midst of our own suffering.
Yesterday I asked us to consider who Jesus is to us. If we place ourselves in his midst and spend quality time with Him in prayer this all becomes clearer. Not only can we refer to him as Lord and Savior we can also refer to Him in a more familiar way as friend. While we might not understand it now there is a purpose for our suffering. It brings us closer to the Lord and helps us relate to Him in some way. Today we celebrate a votive Mass of the Precious Blood of Christ. By shedding his blood our Lord redeemed us and the world. He never abandons us. By placing our hope in God we will not be disappointed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

All things Liturgy…Gloria…should it be said or sung?

According to the GIRM 53 “The Gloria is a very ancient and venerable hymn in which the Church, gathered together in the Holy Spirit, glorifies and entreats God the Father and the Lamb” Note it says the “Gloria is a very ancient and venerable hymn.” The paragraph continues, “The Gloria is intoned by the priest or, if appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir; but it is sung either by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone.” It is made to be sung. However, it also notes, “if not sung, it is to be recited either by all together or by two parts of the congregation responding one to the other.”
Now I am going to quote from the Introduction to the Order of the Mass: A Pastoral Resource of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy. Their document is clear. It says, “Every effort should be made to ensure the Gloria can be sung; however, for pastoral reasons it may be recited.” The Gloria by its very nature is a festive hymn. It should be sung because it helps us lift up our hearts and minds to the Lord. We are giving glory to God. Often times I find when it is recited it sounds rather dry. The Gloria is not meant to be dry but to be filled with spirit.
Please allow me to offer my humble commentary on the line “for pastoral reasons it may be recited.” What constitutes pastoral reason? In my humble opinion a good pastoral reason for the Gloria to be said rather than sung would be when a feast or solemnity falls on a weekday morning in which many people are going directly to work after Mass. However, on a Sunday there is usually no excuse for the Gloria not to be sung. Choosing not to sing in order to get Mass over with early is not a legitimate pastoral reason for it not to be sung. On average Sunday Mass is an hour. As I always say after all that our Lord did for us sacrificing one hour out of our week to thank and worship Him won’t harm us. Therefore, let us give glory to God in song!

Homily for Thursday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time

Who is Jesus to us? Today it’s easy for us to place names with Jesus. We refer to Him as our Lord and Savior. He is the Son of Man, our redeemer. Yet, while we can easily refer to Him by these titles the question we have to ponder is whether or not we know Him. Herod in today’s Gospel was perplexed. As some were saying that our Lord was Elijah or John the Baptist raised from the dead he thought to himself, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
While we know Jesus by the various titles, do we know who he truly is? I am not talking about the titles but more importantly do we know him personally. Is He our friend or just someone we call upon when we find ourselves in trouble? Are we spending time in prayer in effort to get to know Him better? Our challenge this morning is to open our hearts and to allow ourselves the chance to get to know our Lord better.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Homily for Wednesday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time...the Memorial of St. Padre Pio

“For slaves we are, but in our servitude our God has not abandoned us.” When one hears the word slave we immediately think negative. We think of someone who has lost their liberty and are not truly free.
Often times when we submit to the will of God we think we are losing our freedom, however the opposite happens. What we find is more doors are opened up to us. Instead of being isolated, we are surrounded by the Lord’s love and peace. St. Pio understood what it meant to trust in the will of God. After receiving the stigmata he was forced into seclusion and to live a life of prayer. While this certainly wasn’t easy for him, his time in seclusion and prayer helped him reach out to many people and become a great confessor and spiritual director to many. Today may we strive for our true and everlasting freedom by placing ourselves into the palm of God’s hand!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Homily for Tuesday of 25th Week of Ordinary Time

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. The responsorial psalm for this morning should be our motivation each day. There is a temptation on our part to just limit this with the concept of going to Church. While certainly we should be rejoicing every time we come here, it’s much more. This rejoicing we refer today transcends specific time and space. We should be rejoicing everyday of our lives at every moment.
Each moment of everyday is truly a blessing. By rejoicing in the midst of our difficulties we lift others up showing them the way to true happiness, a life with Christ.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Homily for Monday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time..."The Feast of Saint Matthew"

This morning I would like us to turn our focus to the verse, “Grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gifts.” Last evening I fell asleep at the wheel and prepared the reading for Monday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time and not for the feast of St Matthew. However, these readings can be applied today on the feast. Jesus said to the crowd in the Gospel account for Monday: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed.” This quote from our Lord should give us something to think about. Each one gathered here as a member of God’s family are children of light. That light shines brightly every time we utilize our gifts and talents. Unfortunately, we too often keep that light buried and to ourselves.
There will come a time when we will be unable to utilize those gifts given to us because physical limitations will catch up with all of us over time. Then how do we keep that light burning. We keep that light burning by being faithful. Being faithful to our prayer life and accepting those crosses that have been given to us. This morning, we pray for the grace in the midst of our trials of life to place our lamp of faith on the table for all to see! May this light which we place up lead others to Christ!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Homily for the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits. Once again we are directed by Saint James to look to the Lord and away from those things in the world that keep us away from Him.
Many times we ask the Lord for things but we become discouraged because it seems that He doesn’t answer our prayers. At the end of the second reading Saint James says, “You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” We need to reflect on the meaning of this passage. First, our Lord always answers our prayers, perhaps in ways we ourselves cannot accept, but he always answers them. There are times we expect God to read our minds and give us what we need however, He doesn’t work that way. Our Lord wants us to come to Him and when we do He gives us what we need, not what we want. When we pray to the Lord, do we ask Him for things that we truly need, or do we seek the things we don’t. Lord, please give me a million dollars, Lord please give me that Play Station 3 I want for Christmas. Do we need a million dollars; do we need the Play Station 3? The answer is No. They might be nice to have but they are not necessities. We need things such as clothing, food, and shelter. Some are in need of a family to love them. When we pray to the Lord what is our motivation? Are we looking for true happiness or are we looking for that happiness in the wrong place?
Turning to today’s Gospel we have the account of the disciples arguing among themselves about who is the best who is the greatest. One of the biggest problems we face today is that we try to outdo one another. It’s true, while we might not show it externally, internally it tears us apart. Just imagine our neighbors getting a brand new car, new clothing, or some new piece of furniture that we like, the thought that pops up in our minds is that we have to have it. We want it all, the bigger and better things and we won’t settle for anything less. You and I at times even try to outdo each other in generosity. People today donate a lot of money just to put their name on a building. Whatever happened to this concept of giving just for the sake of being generous? It is essential that we understand that when we give and it doesn’t matter how much we give, we are rewarded. It’s not a physical reward but it’s a spiritual one given by God. Whatever we give it must be with our whole heart and when we do that there is this sense of true joy that fills ones heart.
How did Jesus teach his disciples today? He picked up a child and basically said, look at this child, if you receive this child you receive me. As a child grows and develop they need assistance. This child in the Gospel represents every child in the world and everyone who is needy, helpless, poor and sick. Therefore, whenever we embrace whether it’s a child or one who is less fortunate we embrace our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
As we listened to the First Reading and the Gospel we hear clear reference to the suffering of Christ. Today as we close let us reflect on a verse from today’s responsorial psalm, “Behold God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life. Freely will I offer you a sacrifice; I will praise your name, O Lord, for its goodness.” God has blessed us all with many wonderful gifts may we not waste them by keeping them to ourselves. Look to the Lord and as He gave Himself to us completely, may we ask for the strength love Him with everything all we got.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reflection on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross

In the last several years one of the saddest developments in our time is our tendancy to turn away from the cross. Yesterday, Jesus said in the Gospel, "whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." Sadly, even in the Churchs Liturgy we have turned away from the cross. In fact, in some Churchs the image of Christ crucified is nowhere to be seen.
What does this communicate? It communicates our tendancy to deny the existance of suffering. I have said it more than once turning our back to the crucifix has led to our lack of faith. Without the crucifix we are unable to cope with the crosses of life. However, with it we can handle anything thrown our way. The crucifix serves as a reminder of the love our Lord has for each one of us. It is also a symbol of hope! As we gaze upon the crucifix we know the crucifixion is not the end, but rather the beginning. It is the means to our own happiness!
How blest we are to have Pope Benedict as our Holy Father! One of the first things he did to enhance the Liturgy is placed the crucifix in the center of the altar. This shows the intimate connection between the Sacrifice we celebrate today and the sacrifice that took place on Calvary. The Crucifix as the Holy Father shows us my his example is to be central in every parish Church.
As we today look towards the cross of Christ may we look upon it with awe and wonder! It serves as a reminder of the love our Lord has for us. The cross of Christ symbolizes the victory over sin and death. It is a symbol of hope. May we ask the Lord to give us the strength to embrace the crosses that are given to us!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Homily for Sunday of the 24th Week of Ordinary Time

“Who do you say that I am?” This is question posed to us today! Our Lord stands before us today and asks all of us the very same question He posed to Peter. How would we respond? Can we say with certainty as Peter did, “You are the Christ?”
The last couple weeks our second reading has been taken from the Letter of James. This week’s passage focuses on faith. Many people today say they believe however their actions demonstrate otherwise. What does Saint James have to say about that? “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead.” They cannot be separated. Saint James continues, “Indeed someone might say, ‘you have faith and I have works.’ Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.” It’s impossible to separate faith and works, they go hand in hand. In the real world if someone says they personally believe something is right and they decide to go another direction, what would demonstrate? It demonstrates a lack of true conviction. One cannot separate faith and works!
A couple weeks ago I gave a homily on the topic of contraception. That week the Gospel account from Mark our Lord said, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” The premise of my homily was how contraception affects everything. How it has even led to our current economic collapse. Of course as you can image I got plenty of feedback from that homily, most of it of course not direct feedback. This is what I heard indirectly, “These priests don’t understand the emotional stress we woman go through with childbirth.” “Can you believe that priest?” Why do I mention this a couple weeks later? While I don’t understand the emotional and physical pains a woman goes through with childbirth I do understand emotional stress. My life as a priest is at times an emotional rollercoaster. One minute I might be celebrating a baptism or teaching religion to children and the next I am thrust into a situation in which I am counseling a grieving family and then have to switch gears and go attend some youth event. All of which I have to register my own feelings at the door. This is an extreme example of an emotional rollercoaster we priests go through but it can and at times does happen. In just a little over three months into my priesthood it’s already happened to me.
What did Jesus teach his disciples in the Gospel? “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.” As Jesus pointed out to Peter you are not thinking as God does, but as human beings do. As human beings we look for the easy way out and we all do it. We look for the ways that will be less painful or the way that will cause us less inconvenience for ourselves. To those of us who want to travel the road less painful this is Lord’s message to us today and it’s only one word, “TOUGH.” As he said to his disciples, “whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
When the new translation of the Mass is introduced one of the positive changes will be seen in the Creed. I am referring to the change from “We believe” to “I believe.” Some will say why is this positive? Don’t we when we proclaim the Creed do it communally? Well first let this be noted it’s done communally by the shear fact it’s said together. The change is positive because finally some won’t be able to hide their own personal beliefs under the royal “we.” Sadly today this has become our mindset, we believe as a Church this, but however, I believe personally something different. We will once again have to testify with certainty, as Saint Peter did, our own personal belief. There will be no room to hide. That’s just something to think about.
My brothers and sisters our challenge today is simply to follow our Lord’s example by living a life of faith. For those who try to avoid suffering by rejecting the teachings of Holy Mother Church please reflect on this if we truly believe our Lord loved us so much that He carried the cross for us, what makes us think we’re so special that we should dodge the crosses life has in store for us, the very crosses our Lord Himself gives us to carry. May we pray for the strength to love Him the same way He showed His love for us!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Homily for Thursday of 23rd Week of Ordinary Time

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” It is always good for us to be reminded how we should treat our neighbor. Often times we forget that we are to love those who hurt us unconditionally. We are to love the sinner. Because of our human condition it’s often difficult. We tend to look at sinners as a disease and want to push them away. By doing this we do more harm than good.
On more than one occasion I have often said that true conversion comes not through discussion but by showing them the compassion, love, and the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must look at others with the eyes of Christ. Is this possible? Of course it is however, it takes perseverance and strength which can only be gained by prayer. As we go about our daily lives may we pray for that grace to love others as He loves them! And as we strive to do this remember the closing verse of today’s Gospel, “for the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

Homily for Wednesday of the 23rd Week of Ordinary Time

Our responsorial psalm is a beautiful reminder for all of us that “the Lord is compassionate toward all his works.” No matter what we do, no matter how many times we reject Him, he turns and looks upon us with compassion and love.
Luke’s Gospel account this morning begins with the tail end of the beatitudes. The passage begins with “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.” What does it mean to be poor? Often times we associate being poor with not having money. However, to be poor means not necessarily external appearance but an internal deposition. It is often true the more we have the more we can become distracted in our relationship with the Lord. That is why Saint Paul in the letter to the Colossians says, “If you were raised in Christ to seek what is above. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.”
May we today always look to the Lord and ask Him for the grace to overcome our worldly desires. By looking above to the Lord we will rejoice for we will recognize our heavenly reward.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Homily for the Feast of the Nativity of Mary

This morning we gather to celebrate the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Why do we celebrate our Blessed Mother’s birthday? We celebrate her birthday because she played an essential role in our salvation. She said yes and in doing so became the Holy Mother of God, our mother. As the angel of the Lord said to Joseph, “For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
What can we learn from the Blessed Mother? As the responsorial psalm said this morning, “with delight I rejoice in the Lord.” Mary by accepting the Lord’s invitation to become the Mother of God demonstrates to us how we should react to our Lord invitation. Our Lord calls us to follow him each and every day. This morning as we invoke the Blessed Mother’s intercession may we ask her to intercede on our behalf to the Lord for the grace to always say yes to the will of God!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Homily for the Twenty Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

This week our Second Reading from the letter of St. James isn’t about clothing. It isn’t about who is rich or who is poor. The central theme of our Second Reading is about giving our hearts completely to Jesus.
In the letter the point is made that, “God chose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom." Several years ago when I was studying at St. Charles Seminary I had the wonderful opportunity to teach in one of the Catholic Schools in West Philadelphia. One day I remember one of the students in seventh grade raising their hand to ask the question, Mr. Carroll would you ever want to be assigned here. Now this parish was in a poor neighborhood, had bars on the first floor windows, and the rectory was falling apart! The school was actually predominately Non-Catholic. Without skipping a beat I said of course I would like to be assigned to a parish like this.
Why is it that the poor have a better appreciation of the faith then many of us do? It’s because they’re not weighed down by material possessions as many of us are. They see the value in a hard day’s work and appreciate the importance of family. Now we may ask where they find their happiness. The answer is that they find their happiness in the midst of their suffering. Many of us try to either avoid or mask our sufferings? Big mistake! We mask it by accumulating more and more things for ourselves the things we think will make us happy. The poor are happy not because they avoid or mask it but because they embrace it.
Once in a while I get this question about the Church. Why is it that the Church has all these material possessions. They point to our elaborate chalices, vestments, beautiful statuary and stained glass windows. Now this is a complex question. What many people tend to forget is that many of our magnificent churches were not built by the rich; they were built in fact by the poor. Many people sacrificed money, talent, time and some even their blood to build some of our greatest treasures all for the greater glory of God. That is why many of our people were hurt after the Second Vatican Council when they began chopping down old high altars, ripping out altar rails, and throwing out chalices. Can you imagine people throwing these things out into a dumpster? That’s not what the Second Vatican Council intended. Also today that is why many people are hurting when some bishops are forced to close parishes. Many of their ancestors built these Churches and they know the stories of how they were built and know the sacrifices that were made. That is why I believe whenever a new Church is built and when the old worship site will no longer be in use that many things from the old Church should be incorporated with the new.
Here’s another thing to think about. Our Lord by humbling Himself on the cross was glorified. At the Last Supper, he chose a humble piece of bread and a cup filled with wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ. Our elaborate vessels highlights our belief that it’s in the Lord’s humility He is glorified. Some of you I am sure have noticed that for the Masses in which I celebrate that I use the chalice veil. Now some are happy to see this beautiful tradition return, while others are scratching their heads and saying we haven’t see one of those in forty years. Why do I cover the chalice? There are several reasons one of which is that the Church encourages it. The chalice is covered one to show respect for the Sacred Vessel. Practically, just like the pall it protects the contents of the chalice. However, more importantly the chalice when covered with the veil symbolizes humility that way throughout the liturgy it’s beauty doesn’t distract us from our true focus. For example it’s covered during the Liturgy of the Word not to distract us from what is being proclaimed.
This week the second reading from James challenges us to be poor in Spirit. It’s about giving one’s heart completely to God and giving him our very best. Many of us aren’t giving ourselves completely to Him. Many of those who are in true poverty get it. They can spend a good solid hour worshiping the Lord if not more. We know how much some of us struggle to spend a solid hour with him. Perhaps we need to look to those who are truly poor in order to appreciate the precious gift we have and to learn how we should live our lives.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Homily for Friday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time

Our responsorial psalm this morning is “Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.” There are times perhaps this is easier said than done because we get bogged down with all the stresses life hands us. Perhaps were struggling with a family member, experiencing some sort of financial deficit, or perhaps having a tough time with a particular illness. Many things can bog us down.
How is it possible for us to come with joy in the presence of the Lord? It is possible not when we try to avoid the crosses of life but only comes when we accept them. So often we try to run around and not think about those things weighing us down and by that time we got ourselves so worked up we can’t concentrate. Do not run away, run towards. Throw everything to the Lord. By doing this you will be able to come in the presence of the Lord more readily without being overwhelmed by all of life’s burdens.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Homily for Thursday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time

“Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for the catch.” How does this single verse relate to us? What nets do we have to lower? As was mentioned yesterday in the homily our faith is a gift from God that is meant to be shared with everyone we meet. Therefore the net we have to lower is the gift of our faith.
One may also ask how one can share the faith with others. It can be done in simple casual conversation. But, in my experience the best way we can share the faith with others is through non conversational means. We share the faith simply by the way we live our lives. May we strive to be like the disciples that after hearing the voice of the Lord we may find the strength needed to leave those things that hinder us from following the Lord, so we can be a good example to others!

After the prayer after communion:
Today we honored the Memorial of St. Gregory the Great. He is also one of the great reformers of the liturgy. St. Gregory is known in the Church as the Patron Saint of Music. As we go forth today may we ask the intercession of St. Gregory to help us with our lives make joyful music to the Lord.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Homily for Wednesday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time

Each one of us has the responsibility to proclaim the Gospel. Proclaiming the Gospel at times is hard work. However, its work when we take the time to prepare that’s very rewarding. How does one prepare for proclaiming the Gospel? Let’s look at what Jesus did “at daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.” Sometimes we need to get away and spend some quality time to ourselves. During this quiet time we are able to spend time in prayer and recharge our physical and spiritual batteries.
The major temptation for us is to think our faith is a gift that is meant just for ourselves. It’s not, faith is a gift from God and it’s a gift that is meant to be shared. As the crowd tried to keep Jesus corned he said, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” As we receive our Lord today let’s ask him to give us the grace to share the gift the faith which He has given us with others. Today as our Lord healed others by sharing the faith with others we too will bring healing to all those we meet.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Homily for Tuesday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time

The very last line from the first letter of Saint Paul to the people of Thessalonica is important for all of us to note. “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up.” As followers of Christ we all have the responsibility to build one another up. Now in the Gospel we have Jesus driving out a demon. There are many demons in our world today and they can take many forms.
The question is how we drive them out. Of course, the primary means is through prayer. However, how do we encourage others to follow the Lord? Sometimes all we can do especially for those we love when they do something that is obviously not what the Lord wants is to love them. When we show them our Lord’s love and mercy it will help lead them to a true conversion. Do this and we will see more and more people come home to the Lord.