Saturday, October 31, 2009

Homily for All Saints 2009

We gather together today to honor all those Saints who have gone before us and are gathered with our Lord in the heavenly kingdom. There is a tendency when we hear about Saints we think just of those who are publically recognized by the Church as such. Saints like our own, Saints Katherine Drexel, Elizabeth Ann Seton, and John Neumann to name a few. However, anyone who is in the heavenly kingdom is a Saint.
In the book of Revelation we hear about John’s vision, where he saw “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue.” Here we get to see the great diversity of Saints. Everyone who dies and is present in the heavenly kingdom is considered Saints. When we refer to the Communion of Saints we are referring to everyone in heaven. That is our goal my brothers and sisters to strive for the heavenly kingdom.
How do we make it to the heavenly Kingdom? To find the answer we turn to Matthews Gospel. Our Lord sitting down after he reached the top of the mountain began to teach His disciples. He didn’t teach them with big words rather He taught them by addressing their needs. Our Lord in some cases today addressed an element of their suffering and then gave them words of encouragement. That is what he does for all of us today. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.” Listen closely to the words of the Lord. Not only does he address those who suffer, he also addresses those who follow the commandments closely, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” Those who follow the will of God as the Lord said at the end of today’s Gospel, their reward will be great in heaven.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are God’s children and He loves us so much. While things at times may be tough He never ever abandons us. There is a natural tendency in all of us longing to see the face of God. Today we are blessed with people in Heaven to help us reach the heavenly kingdom. Reach out to them, seek their help. Place yourselves in the palm of God’s loving and merciful hands. If we all do this we will accomplish our goal in life, to see firsthand the face of God.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Homily for Friday of the 30th Week of Ordinary Time School Liturgy

Today boys and girls I present to you this candle. As I mentioned in the beginning of this Liturgy the readings focus on light and that you and I are called to be a light in the world. Boys and Girls do you know when you receive this candle??? That’s right…in the Sacrament of Baptism.
When we were baptized we became members of God’s family and became children of the light. This light has been given to us and we are to see to it that it is kept burning brightly for all to see. We keep this light burning brightly when we follow Jesus. When Jesus lived here among us on earth He did many wonderful things reaching out to others. You and I are called to do the same. Every time we reach out to help another person, or say a kind word we fuel that light and keep it burning brightly.
Boys and Girls, today as we continue to pray let us ask Jesus to help us, to help us keep that light lit and burning brightly for all those to see.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Homily for the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude

We are members of God’s family. How awesome is that! St. Paul in writing to the Ephesians states that our foundation is “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. “ Today we honor two of the apostles Saints Simon and Jude. The apostles of course are his closest friends the ones he entrusted with this awesome ministry.
You and I should be familiar with the Gospel account for today. It’s Luke’s account of the calling of the twelve. As our Lord called the twelve, he calls you and me today. We are called to this very special ministry of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. May we turn to Jesus Christ who is our capstone and ask Him for His divine assistance in proclaiming the message of Christ’s love through all the earth.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Homily for Tuesday of the 30th Week of Ordinary Time

This morning I want to echo once again the beautiful opening words of St. Paul in his letter to the Romans, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” Where do we find our hope the hope that St. Paul refers to future glory? That hope is found in the person of Jesus Christ.
God so loved each one of us that He became man and embraced suffering. Our Lord embraced suffering to the point of death, death on the cross. The story of course doesn’t end there after three days He rose again from the dead. Our focus mainly today is on the image of the resurrected Christ. This is fine, but without the cross there would be no resurrection. So today let us mediate on the image of Christ crucified, the way in which He demonstrated to us His marvels of His love. He continues to demonstrate his marvelous love for us here and now in this Sacred Liturgy. For it was through His passion and death He gave us all hope in the great things to come.

Homily for Monday of the 30th Week of Ordinary Time

Jesus turning to the crowd this morning says, “Hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering.” He speaks to the crowds with rather harsh and strong words to drive home a point. Our God is the God of Salvation, his saving acts never stop. He is still working them today although we ourselves might be blind to them.
Many people confuse service and work. When defining them I like to separate them, while yes our society uses them interchangeably. Service is something we provide for the betterment of others, while work is something we do to earn a living. Sunday is a day when we should try to avoid unnecessary work; however it should always be a day of service. Now there are some who need to work on Sundays, firefighters, medical staff, and police officers to name a few. Our Lord reached out today in the Gospel to the woman who had been crippled by the spirit, may we strive today and everyday to reach out to all those in need.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Homily for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” This plea of Bartimaeus should be constantly our plea to the merciful Father. Today, one thing we can take away from the blind man in today’s Gospel is his persistence. Despite being rebuked by the crowds he didn’t give up and in fact he cried out to the Lord and said a second time, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Did this blind man’s plea go unnoticed? The answer is no, after hearing his pleas the Lord called him over.
As we look at the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Behold I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng.” One thing you and I can take from these readings is the Lord has an affection and love for those who suffer. He does not want them to feel like they are outcasts. Many times you and I can listen too much to those crowds who prevent us from coming to Him. Who are the modern crowds today? They are the ones who say to us, why do you put your faith in God who lets you suffer? How can you put your faith in a God who let’s bad things happen to good people? These are the voices we need to ignore. Do not give up on your faith, no matter how bad things may appear or actually get.
Today may we model our lives after Bartimaeus! Be persistent! Jesus looking at the blind man with love asked him what he wanted. This morning he asks us the very same question,” What do you want me to do for you?” May our response be the same, “Master I want to see!” Don’t be afraid to tell him what you need. If we ask the Lord presenting ourselves to Him completely, holding nothing back, he will grant the very same thing he granted Bartimaeus, he will help us to see the ways of His Kingdom.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Homily for Friday of 29th Week of Ordinary Time

You and I struggle with many things and at times find it difficult to follow the commandments. It is often difficult because we find pleasure in many worldly things. It’s a struggle because sometimes we find sinning more pleasurable. If we stop to think about it we know it’s true. That’s how the devil tricks us; he takes what is good and twists it. Many people struggle with sins of the flesh because sex is naturally good. Others struggle with gathering up worldly possessions and money because they want to be comfortable and not suffer. Let’s face it having a roof over our head and having other things to keep us preoccupied is a lot better than the alternative. However, that’s where we have to be careful.
God does not want us to be unhappy, however at the same time he warns us about worldly pleasures. True happiness is found when we follow the will of God, and not our own will. At times when we follow our own will, while we try to keep an outward appearance of happiness, deep inside us we know something is missing. It’s a struggle we all have, and as St. Paul points out the answer can be found in Jesus Christ. As we prepare to come forward to receive our Lord Jesus Christ in a personal way in the most Holy Eucharist, let’s ask to Him to teach us His ways.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homily for Thursday of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time

“But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God.” When we hear the word slave our immediate reaction because of our history is one of negativity. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word slave as “a person held in servitude as the chattel of another or one that is completely subservient to a dominating force.” What we have to take into account this morning that St. Paul was speaking in human terms as he himself stated, “because of our human nature.”
Yes to be a slave of God means we have to surrender ourselves to Him but at the same time He doesn’t domineer over us. Rather, he gives us the free will to be able choose whether we follow Him or not. Now what is the benefit of placing our trust in the hands of God? St. Paul answers, “The benefit that you have leads to satisfaction, and its end is eternal life.”
Today our Lord challenges us to follow Him. The road he asks us to follow isn’t easy, he eludes that when he says, and “Do you think I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Many times you and I fall in the trap where we become comfortable and get set in our ways. When we are challenged to a greater holiness we balk at it. I believe today we are afraid of living out our faith because we are afraid of what others may think. Jesus Christ wasn’t afraid. He isn’t afraid to challenge us to follow and place our trust in Him. Neither was St. Paul! If you and I are living out our faith correctly we will find many who will chastise us. “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.” Place your hope in the Lord, and just sit back and watch what happens.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Homily for Wednesday of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” If we struggle at times with being overwhelmed perhaps we should turn to this passage to help us. You and I are blessed with many gifts, one of which is the gift of faith. We gather here each day to be nourished by the Lord and each time we gather here we receive a gift. It’s a gift not to be kept to ourselves but a gift that is meant to be shared.
When we become discouraged may we remember the words we said together a moment ago, “Our help is in the name of the Lord.” Repeat it to yourselves throughout the day. Take that short phrase to prayer. As we make this short phrase from the responsorial psalm our focus for the day, the easier it will become for us to place our trust in the Lord.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homily for Tuesday of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time

One of the things I love about St. Paul’s writings is that he tells us the way it is. While at times his writings might be hard to understand the one thing that permeates through his entire writings is the focus on love, especially the love our Lord Jesus Christ has for us. This morning he speaks of how sin and death entered the world through the disobedience of one, and how it was through the obedience of one we are all saved. Another thing to take note he says to the Romans, “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.”
My dear brothers and sisters, while we live in a society where a lack of faith permeates, the grace of God is still present, all we have to do is ask for it. God is more than ready to come to our aide, but He wants us to do it on our own accord. This morning our Gospel verse reads, “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you may have the strength to stand before the Son Man.” Let’s make that the goal for today, to always be vigilant and to pray. If we do this daily, you and I will experience the love our Lord has for each one of us.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Homily for Monday of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time

“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” These words from our Lord remind us of the importance of simplicity. So many times we get wrapped up and become jealous of others who may have more than we do. Our Lord reminds us that there is something more.
The danger exists in all of us. Although we come here day after day to be nourished by the word of God and in the reception of Holy Communion we too can become distracted. While we may at times become discouraged let us today model the faith of Abraham. As it is written, “Abraham did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God and was fully convinced that what God had promised he was also able to do.” Let us rejoice for the Lord continues to be with us each day and pray for the strength to always place our trust in Him.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homily for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time...World Mission Sunday

“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Does this sound familiar? At times we can be like James and John that instead of asking the Lord for things we need, we demand things from Him. What were the two sons of Zebedee looking for? They were looking for places of honor in the heavenly kingdom. How did our Lord respond to their request? He said, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink? Or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
Once again as we have seen many times before our Lord is indirectly making reference to His upcoming passion and death on the cross. For when He says, “can you drink that cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized,” he isn’t speaking about a glass of water or the sacrament of baptism he is speaking about the trials and tribulations of life. Can we accept the crosses life has in store for us? That’s the question. You and I so often wrongly believe we can find happiness by avoiding the crosses of life. However, true happiness is not found running away from the cross, true happiness is found when we accept and embrace it.
Can anything good come from suffering? The answer can be found in the passage of the first reading from the prophet Isaiah. In the first reading it says, “If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him.” Then it also goes onto to say, “Through his sufferings, my servant shall justify many.” Yes a lot of good can come from suffering. This weekend is World Mission Sunday. You and I bear the awesome responsibility to care for one another, whether that is here at home or abroad. Here at Corpus we already have a wonderful missionary spirit. Your generosity is clearly evident in the weekly parish collections; your willingness to contribute to our Saint Vincent De Paul program is something to be commended. I can truly say this, in all of the parishes I have been assigned we have the most effective St. Vincent De Paul Program I have ever seen. You are to be commended because I know many of you are struggling as well. Keep up the good work.
While we will continue to seek your generosity I would like to ask you to assist me in my missionary work as a priest. Many times from the pulpit I have said that we live in a world that looks for happiness in all the wrong places. We look for happiness in material possessions and money. Today many of our people are unfortantely losing their shirts. Normally when people hit bottom there is a natural tendency in them to turn back to God. However, it’s my fear this isn’t happening. It’s not happening because of the lack of faith that is prevalent in our culture. We live in a society that in essence has turned its back on the crucifix and rejects the idea of redemptive suffering. This is very dangerous and we see the effects of this more and more in the news reports. When people hit rock bottom they end up turning not only end up hurting themselves but also those they love.
Today, I challenge all of you to grow in holiness. I challenge you to strengthen your relationship with the Lord through prayer and be a people of service always striving to bring others to Christ. Also be open to the crosses of life. Embrace them with joy, allowing the Lord to work through you. I would also like to ask everyone to assist me in my priestly ministry my inviting the lost sheep back home. You know who they are, even better than I do; they are your co-workers, neighbors, and even members of your own family. Invite them home to the Lord. More than ever we need the Lord, we His love.
We find our strength and hope in the Lord and when we place our trust in Him we can handle anything. This is the truth! Do not run away from the cross, run towards it and ask the Lord for the strength to carry it well. If we all want to see change, the change we can really believe in, than let us start by placing our hope in Jesus Christ and we will not be disappointed!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Homily for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time...and explanation of new diocesan guidelines to help prevent the spread of flu

One thing that stands out from today’s first reading is the power of wisdom and how it surpasses all the riches of the world. True wealth is not found in material possessions, it is found in wisdom. That is what Jesus challenges us today in the Gospel, he tells the rich man to go and sell what He has and give it to the poor. Now we can look at this passage literally or we can look at it at a spiritual level. If we look at it literally then we simply go sell what we have and be done with it. However, if we look at it spiritually than we need to recognize that everything that has been given to us has been given to us by God and we need to thank Him for those gifts. One of the ways we thank him is by sharing those gifts with others. To those more has been given, more is expected.
Now there is one thing that we don’t want to share with everyone else and that is this flu bug that is going around. In light of this upcoming flu season the Diocese of Harrisburg has adopted two norms starting next weekend Oct 17th and 18th. Beginning next weekend distribution of the precious blood is generally suspended. The second norm adopted is that beginning next weekend the sign of peace is to be offered with no physical contact. For example if the priest celebrant chooses to extend the invitation for the sign of peace one way we can greet each other is by bowing the head to those around us. Although the sign of peace has become customary the General Instruction of the Roman Missal clearly refers to it as an option therefore the priest celebrant may choose not to extend the invitation for the exchange of the sign of peace. For example after the priest says, “may the peace of the Lord be with you always with you,” he usually says “let us offer each other the sign of peace.” The priest celebrant may choose to skip that second line and go right into the Lamb of God.
These two norms established by the Diocese of Harrisburg begins next weekend and will be in effect until further notice. Last weekend I was asked about other things we can do to prevent the flu from spreading. One of the things I will gladly address is the issue of holding hands during the Our Father. This has become custom in a lot of parishes but is not included in the Liturgy. Therefore, please do not hold hands during the Our Father. Some may wonder why it’s wrong and it’s not wrong in a sinful way, however it just shouldn’t be done. Everything in the liturgy is done for a particular purpose. Holding hands during the Our Father detracts or takes away from that true act of unity which is expressed in the reception of Holy Communion.
Also last week I was asked about the possibility of requiring the faithful to receive Holy Communion in the hand only. Some dioceses around the United States has adopted this policy, however Rome is clear communion may never be denied to those who wish to receive in the traditional manner. Therefore if the communicant wishes to receive on the tongue they may continue to do so. While some are trying to encourage the faithful to receive communion in the hand I will actually encourage the opposite. If we think about it where would we find most germs, on the tongue or in the hands? Most germs would be found in the hands because we touch everything with our hands. So please consider that along with these other norms as we try to prevent the spread of the flu. As a Sacred Minister of Holy Communion I am not overly concerned about the spread of the flu through Holy Communion because I believe I am distributing the Body of Christ and that He will protect all of us.
The best way we can prevent the danger of spreading the flu is simply by not coming to Mass when we feel sick. If we are truly sick than missing Mass is NOT A SIN. Therefore, there is no need to confess it. Also even if you are sick on Saturday and feel a little better on Sunday and not sure if the disease has run its course, if you find yourself concerned about spreading germs and you feel it is best to stay home then do it. Once again it is NOT A SIN; it is an act of charity. Also if you feel sick at any point during the Sacred Liturgy you have my explicit permission to get up and leave Mass early. Yes I did say you have my explicit permission to leave…that’s of course only if you feel sick, and not to beat the crowd getting in line for the breakfast special at some restaurant.
Finally in regards to me as a priest I will continue to greet people offering to shake hands after Mass. As a priest I feel it is necessary and important to do that. There is a danger of becoming overly obsessed with worrying about the flu. I am not saying we shouldn’t be concerned but at the same time we shouldn’t panic. If you are one who is overly sensitive to following certain health procedures, you may want to consider purchasing little bottles of hand sanitizers for your cars or to carry with you. Now I just spoke to you about if one’s sick it’s ok not to come to Mass, unfortunately I don’t have that luxury. My ministry is kind of essential for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Please know if at any point I am not feeling well I will not greet you in the back of Church. I just wanted all of you to know that in cases when I don’t stand back and greet you after Mass for a couple weeks that I’m not being anti-social.
During these next few months let us pray for all those affected by the flu and ask the Lord’s help to protect each one of us from harm. If we work together and use our heads taking a few simple precautions we can prevent this deadly flu from spreading.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Homily for Wednesday of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time...The Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

We gather together to commemorate the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. In the last line of the first reading for today it says, “All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. The most Holy Rosary is a very powerful devotion. Because if we pray it well, and mediate on each mystery we are at that very moment being brought closer to Christ.
Our Gospel account this morning is of when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she is to give birth to a son and that she is to name him Jesus. Mary is the mother of God and she is our mother too. When I was younger I remember my mother grabbing my hand to walk my brother and me across the street. You and I when we pray the rosary that is what the Blessed Mother does, she grabs us by the hand holding on to it tight and leads us to her Son. That is why the rosary is so powerful.
As we continue our devotion to the Most Holy Rosary may we always strive to grow closer to Jesus through the intercession of His Blessed Mother!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Concerns over Swine Flu…

This past weekend one of the extraordinary ministers in the parish asked me if I could ask the parishioners to receive on the hand only in fear of the swine flu epidemic. Although we are in the midst of the spreading swine flu epidemic I will not tell communicants that they have to receive on the hand only.
A few weeks back I preached on the proper reception of Holy Communion. Holy Mother Church teaches that the norm for receiving Holy Communion in the Roman Rite is on the tongue. Reception of Holy Communion in the hand is seen as an option. I encourage everyone to read the document Memoriale Domini, the document that addresses instruction of the manner of distributing Holy Communion from the Congregation of Divine Worship issued in 1969. The document can be found on the EWTN website. Here is the link.
http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDWMEMOR.HTM
Some may question the documents relevance today, however while the practice of receiving Holy Communion in the hand is an approved option here in the United States one must recognize and teach reception of communion on the tongue as the norm in the Roman Rite. In regards to the swine flu I believe it would be a mistake to require the faithful to receive in the hand. First, I believe those who think they will spread disease by placing the Sacred Host on the tongue are mistaken. There is a greater chance of one spreading the disease by touching ones hands than my accidentally touching ones tongue. If we think about it more germs can be found on the hand. There is the argument that by placing the Sacred Host on the hand limits contact. That’s not true, because the Sacred Host is to be placed directly on the hand, not dropped in place and in that simple exchange there is a danger of brushing up against the hand of the communicant. Therefore I find that encouraging reception of Holy Communion on the hand during this swine flu epidemic would be wrong and unnecessary and in fact I would encourage the opposite. Besides if we as ministers truly believe we are distributing and receiving the Body of Christ than we should trust that our Lord will protect us from all disease or harm.
Now during this swine flu epidemic I would encourage the discontinuation of the distribution of the Precious Blood. While we do use purificators to wipe the chalice it really isn’t sanitary. Although the minister should turn the chalice each time as they wipe the mouth of the chalice all we are really doing is wiping germs all over the chalice. Therefore it would make more sense to discontinue distribution of the precious blood. Besides whether we receive the Holy Eucharist whether it is under the Sacred Host or the Precious Blood we are always receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.
How else can we prevent the spread of the flu? You and I can both limit the spread of the flu by simply using our heads. It goes without saying we need to wash our hands on a regular basis. It might not be a bad idea to have a little container of instant hand sanitizer in your pocket. If we know we are feeling a little sick then we should not extend our hands to our neighbors during the sign of peace. All you have to do is simply bow your head to the person next to you. This is not rude; it’s an act of charity. This weekend I was also asked to mention to the congregation not to hold hands during the Our Father to prevent the spread of the flu. Well this one is easy because we are not supposed to be holding hands during the Our Father. I will use this opportunity for a little liturgical catechesis. Holding hands during the Our Father has become a popular gesture for us during the Liturgy. Some may ask why it is wrong to hold hands during the Our Father. Well it’s not necessarily wrong it just shouldn’t be done because it detracts or takes away from that true act of unity which is expressed in the reception of Holy Communion. That is why I caution and encourage people not to hold hands for the Our Father.
Now the best way we can prevent the danger of spreading the flu is simply by not coming to Mass when we feel sick. If we are truly sick than missing Mass is NOT A SIN. Therefore, there is no need to confess it. Also even if you are sick on Saturday and feel a little better on Sunday and not sure if the disease has run its course, if you find yourself concerned about spreading germs and you feel it is best to stay home then do it. Once again it is NOT A SIN; it is an act of charity.
During these next few months let us pray for all those affected by the flu and ask the Lord’s help to protect each one of us from harm. If we work together and take a few simple precautions we can prevent the flu from spreading.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Just a word of caution...

As you read this blog one needs to keep in mind that they are just the texts of my writings and homilies. Yes I use strong words and I do that to make the point. As a priest, I follow the mindset of St. Alphonsus that a priest should be "a lion at the pulpit and a lamb in the confessional." While I use strong words to drive home the point, those reading at home are not here to hear the tone in which it is being presented. Strong words and tone help make the homily or writings meaningful.

At this time I do not have the capablities or the time to place and audio recording of my homilies or even at times my writings available. I mention this because many people found my blog entry about the problem of leaving Mass early offensive. Once again they are just words...I know some reading could find my pro-life homily for this Sunday offensive however if you weren't present to listen to how it was delivered than you don't know how it was presented.

With that said, please keep in mind what you read here are just words without the tone.

God bless,

Father Carroll

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Right out of the mouth of little children...

In light of the end of today's Gospel where the children were coming to Jesus, at the 10:30 Mass this morning I had something funny happen. As I was saying the words of instition a child yelled out. Here is what I said and what I heard it...

Me: "Take this all of you and eat it, this is my Body..."
Child: "Yes"
Me: "which will be given up for you."

That's why little children make me laugh! They pick things up which we adults tend to miss.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Homily for the Twenty Seventh Sunday of Ordinary (Pro-life Sunday)

Before I begin the homily I preface it by saying today is pro-life Sunday. As you listen to the homily this morning I caution you to listen to it in its entirety. I invite you to listen closely to every single word in order to find the total meaning.
“From the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” The first reading from the Book of Genesis and Mark’s Gospel are clear, marriage can only be defined as between one man and one woman. While some will try to act and say otherwise this is the only definition accepted by God and His Church. A couple weeks ago I said, “When the love of man and woman is expressed in the marital relationship it is always life giving, physically and spiritually.” Therefore, it is clear that the law of God expressed within the law of nature marriage between one man and one woman, can be the only true definition of marriage. It is the only form of marriage that can give life both physically and spiritually.
Speaking on this subject, there are some in our country who want to make it a hate crime to preach on the true definition of marriage. They suggest that preaching on it persecutes those who hold the contrary position. Well if they make proclaiming the truth a hate crime then they can come right up here and haul me away. It would be rather humorous because while I do appear to some to be a strict no-nonsense conservative some would be shocked to know that one of my friends is someone who lives a life contrary to the Church’s definition of marriage. While I don’t agree with my friend, I will always love and respect them as a child of God. See, I believe true conversion comes not through discussion; true conversion comes by showing others the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. That is why often times in the confessional I don’t always give counsel on things that are brought up. I look at the Sacrament as being not about counsel but being about showing the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. Of course up here when I preach or when I write it’s a different story, because I have a most grave obligation to preach and teach what the Church holds as Sacred and true even if it is much too many people’s displeasure.
On this pro-life Sunday all of us gathered here are called by God to build up a culture of life. My brothers and sisters we are at war with a culture that promotes openly the culture of death. Abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and same sex unions has become openly acceptable in our culture. Holy Mother Church is clear, abortion is a sin, contraception is a sin, and euthanasia is a sin. Individuals who engage in a life which is contrary to the Church’s teaching regarding the sacrament of marriage live in sin. While they are clearly sins (and they are sins because they go against God’s divine plan which was intended from the very beginning of creation as we heard this morning in Genesis) we must know that God is merciful and those who have fallen into these sins and have repented can attest to God’s merciful love. There are many however, who believe it is ok and it’s not just the people in the pews it’s also priests and religious who go on preaching and teaching things contrary of what the Church really teaches. The Church is not a cafeteria where we pick and choose what we want to believe. These teachings are non-negotiable. We are called to accept it in faith. This is what our Lord taught, teaches and will always teach. Those who hold positions which go against everything our Lord and His Church teach must repent. Once again while the Church is clear about the sinful nature of these particular sins, Holy Mother Church is also crystal clear about the love and mercy of God. There is no sin that is unforgivable in the eyes of God however we ourselves must seek that forgiveness.
At this time I would like to address members of the various pro-life groups. In recent years, certain pro-life groups in their zeal have gone to extremes by using disturbing images of aborted babies to demonstrate the atrocity of abortion. Showing these images is something that must not be done in public. If you want to demonstrate the atrocity of abortion do it in a book or a pamphlet and not on posters where every five and six year olds can see. Damaging the minds of these innocent children is not right, and if I were their families I would be upset too! What happens is that instead of opening up their hearts and minds to the truth the door is slammed shut. The most powerful witness we can give in the pro-life movement is by our prayers. Standing in prayer silently outside an abortion clinic is powerful enough and on those occasions when someone utters slander at us remember this, “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” Once again, true conversion will come only through the power of prayer!
There is a danger that one could associate the pro-life movement with just the topic of abortion. It’s much more than one topic. To be pro-life means working to build up the Kingdom of God by promoting the dignity of every human person. Life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death. As mentioned earlier I do have a friend who lives a life that is contrary with our beliefs in regards to marriage and when we worked together several years ago my friend said to me, “My grandparents want nothing to do with me, but you who are studying to be a Catholic Priest respect me.” In response I told my friend, “While I don’t agree with your lifestyle I look at you as Christ looks at you with love and mercy.” To look at others with compassion is pro-life. Hate the sin, but not the sinner. Love them!
To be pro-life means to look at others with the eyes of Christ looking upon them with true compassion, love, and mercy. This is how we help others see the truth! This is how we build up the Kingdom of God here on earth and in heaven. As we continue with this liturgy and move forward with our lives may we strive to be more pro-life in our actions and thoughts!

Homily for Friday of the 26th Week of Ordinary Time...the Memorial of the Guardian Angels

Boys and Girls,

Today we celebrate the Memorial of the Guardian angels. Now for my homily I want to ask you two questions. First what do I have in my hand?

Student: "A flashlight"

Yes a flashlight. Now for my second question why do you think I have a flashlight?

Student: Because God lights up our path.

You are correct. God does light up our path and He does that my sending Guardian angels to us to protect us. They also lighten up our path to the Lord. Just like a flashlight helps lighten our path at night so we can see where we are going. Not only do the angels lighten up our path and guide us to Jesus they also sing to the glory of God. That is why this morning we are singing some of the Mass parts. For when we sing our song is being joined to that beautiful choir of angels who sing to God's glory.

Now boys and girls let us conclude by saying the prayer to the Guardian Angel for their protection as we continue on with our day. Let us pray..."Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God loves entrust me here, every this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen!

Homily for Thursday of the 26th Week of Ordinary Time The Memorial of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Therese of the Little Flower. We can learn a lot from her life. She heard the call of God at a very young age and knew in her heart she was to follow him. St. Therese inspired many not by great works, but by her little way. She spent her life in prayer and in humble service in the monastery. Her life was short, she only lived to the age of twenty four. St. Therese suffered from tuberculosis and it took a lot out of her, however she never took her eye off our Jesus.
What can we learn from this young saint who died at such a young age? As we look at the life of this young we should strive to live in simplicity. It is the little ways we build up the kingdom of God. By accepting the crosses of life, greeting others, a smile, and by living a life of prayer we demonstrate to others the little way and thus work to build up the kingdom of God. Today as we go forth may we reflect on the words of our responsorial psalm. As St. Therese showed us, it is in the Lord we find our peace.