Sunday, November 29, 2009

Homily for the First Sunday of Advent

To you, O Lord, I lift my soul. Advent is a time of opportunity. It is an opportunity for us to focus preparing ourselves for the coming of our Lord by lifting our hearts and minds. This week our readings speak of anticipation of the coming of the Lord. In the Book of Daniel the opening line says, “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.” This promise refers to the coming of the Savior.
Turning to the Gospel account from Luke, Jesus makes reference to his Second Coming when he says, “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the cloud with power and great glory.” Why this focus on the Second Coming of Christ? The reason we have this focus on the Second Coming is because every advent is about preparing a place for the Lord in our hearts. Many times there are distractions and our Lord warns us about them today. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing or drunkenness and the anxieties of everyday life, and that they catch you by surprise like a trap.” How do we prepare a place for the Lord in the midst of everything?
During the Season of Advent we are encouraged to prepare ourselves spiritually. One of the Sacraments we are encouraged to take advantage of is the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation. By confessing our sins to the Lord and receiving His absolution we make room for Him in our hearts and properly dispose ourselves to listen to His words and act on them. We might also want to consider carving some time into our schedule to spend some extra time in prayer. Although we all have crazy schedules spending time in prayer is essential in order to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord.
Another way we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord is by decorating our homes and putting up symbols that remind us of what the Season is all about. Perhaps one might consider getting a miniature Advent Wreath for their homes to light each week. Lighting each candle every week helps gives us something to look forward to. In addition to the Advent Wreath and perhaps of course the Christmas tree we might also want to put up a Nativity Set a long with our other decorations. The Nativity Scene reminds us that for us as Christians the Christmas Season is about celebrating the greatest gift of all the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.
I am sure everyone here read about the decision of this week to remove the crèche from the center of the square. While for many of us this is disappointing our reaction must not be one of criticism, rather it should be one of loving action. This past week after the decision we decided that we would purchase an outdoor Nativity Scene that will be placed in the garden area alongside Philadelphia Avenue. The Nativity Scene is one of many symbols of the Christmas Season and for us and is one we will display proudly. It reminds us of how awesome our God is that He would come to us in the form of a little child.
This advent as we prepare our homes to celebrate Christmas may we not forget to prepare our hearts. Please consider taking advantage of the many spiritual blessings the season of Advent has to offer. By confessing our sins removing those things that weigh us down and by carving time in our schedule for a little extra prayer we will make more room for the Lord in our hearts.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Father Carroll’s Statement in regards to the decision to remove the Christmas Crèche from the Square in Downtown Chambersburg

This past week the Chambersburg Borough Council voted unanimously to remove the crèche from the square downtown. Now the council made this decision after receiving a request from a group who consider themselves non-believers who wanted to put a sign in support of our troops. The council decided to take an all or nothing approach and they decided on the later. While there are a few who welcomed the Borough Councils decision the majority of the residents of Chambersburg are upset about it. Some have harshly criticized the Borough Council for this decision and that’s unfortunate. I of course personally do not agree with the Borough Council’s decision but I can understand why they took the avenue that they did.
The Christmas Crèche is one of many symbolic images of the Christmas Season. For Christians, the Christmas Season is about the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. For others the Christmas Season is an opportunity for families to come together to give and share with one another. In recent years we as a nation have gone overboard by removing all religious references and symbols from our public buildings out of fear of potentially offending somebody. For Christians the Christmas Crèche serves as a reminder of birth of Christ. One thing I must ask is how can this image of a man and woman with child gathered with a stable filled with animals and three wise men be considered offensive. Even for a non-believer this is a beautiful image, it’s an image of a family. It’s sad today that we need to fight for the right to celebrate Christmas. Are we going to rip down all the lights and the Christmas trees? What’s next? Are we going to force members of the clergy and religious communities not to wear religious garb in public out of fear of offending someone?
In the United States of America we have a right to freedom of religion. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian celebrating Christmas, whether you are Jewish celebrating Hanukkah, or perhaps someone who uses Christmas as an opportunity to gather with family and friends we should have the right to express our beliefs openly. That is what our nation’s Founding Fathers intended for our great nation. Some will say that the crèche’s presence is unconstitutional; I argue that its removal is in itself unconstitutional. If we remove all references and symbols of religious significance then what we are doing is suppressing all forms of religions.
Situations and times like these can make or break us. It can bring out the best or the worst in us. In Thursday’s paper I read that there are few who threatened to boycott downtown business because of the Borough Council’s decision to remove the crèche. Boycotting downtown businesses is not the answer. It’s not the business fault and in fact I would encourage all of us to continue to support them because the majority of them are not in favor of the decision. If we start boycotting downtown businesses then those who have sought out to destroy the spirit of Christmas have succeeded.
As we move forward we need to look at how our decisions now will affect future generations. We are destroying the Christmas Spirit for our children. Some will make the argument that Christmas displays should only be displayed in Church’s and in private homes. Well it’s a sad day when in this great nation we the people cannot publically express our religious beliefs. While we might have lost the right to place the crèche in the town’s square I encourage everyone…church’s, downtown business owners, and home owners to keep the Christmas Spirit alive by proudly displaying images of the Christmas Season. We should be proud to live in such a great city. Let’s continue showing it by moving forward and rising to the occasion showing the world our Christmas Spirit!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Homily for Wednesday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time

Once again we are reminded that following the Lord is never easy. The Lord’s message is often seen as out dated and those who live and preach it are often persecuted and rejected by others. In fact, we know we are doing a good job when there are more people out to get us then praise us. Jesus says, “They will seize and persecute you, they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.” Later on he says, “You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.
Wow this gives us all something to think about that even some of those within our inner circle could reject us because of the message we preach. Despite the difficulties the Lord is always clear to tell us to never give up hope. Keep plugging forward. As we continue to preach the Gospel in our daily lives may we pray for the grace of perseverance in the midst of our earthly trials!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Homily for Monday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time

The Gospel account for today is one we heard a few weeks back on a Sunday. Today’s proclamation is rather short but to the point. Jesus watches closely to those who put offerings into the treasury. While many wealthy individuals put in large sums this poor widow by putting in those two small coins put in more. This poor widow was giving here whole livelihood.
As we approach thanksgiving in only a few short days may we strive to exemplify the life of the poor widow by giving completely of ourselves and offering the Lord our entire lives!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King 2009

“You say that I am King,” the Lord responds to Pilate this morning in the Gospel. Often times we profess our Lord as King, but our actions and words say otherwise. We come to Church listen to the Word of God, receive Him in the Holy Eucharist, and then when we leave we go back to that same way of life. Why is that?
Looking at my own life and my own sinfulness I can say with absolute certainty why this happens. It happens because we are not giving God our all. We are too distracted by all the noise that is present in the world. There are just too many distractions out there and when we come here each weekend we just simply hold onto them. Our Lord is not just any king; He is a King who humbled Himself by becoming man like us in all ways but sin. Jesus was put on trial as we heard in the Gospel and was ultimately sentenced to death, death on the cross. We need to model that humility. Now I don’t know about you but our Lord is a King I want to follow because if we think about it we should want to embrace a King that would love us so much that He would embrace suffering and death.
A question that might be going through our minds is the question of how one can overcome our own sinfulness and proclaim Christ as King. One thing we must be clear is that we are all sinners and yes there will be times we leave here and we fail. Someone will pull out in front of us while we are driving and that’s it we lose our temper. It happens to the best of us. How does one make Christ the King? You and I make Christ the King in our lives when we place everything into his hands. What do I mean by everything? By everything I am talking about our challenges, our joys, and our sufferings.
On this feast of Christ the King it is fitting that we should talk briefly about Eucharistic Adoration and the Mass. We are so blessed here to have the Adoration Chapel a place where we can adore the Lord in such an intimate way. I would like to personally encourage everyone here to take advantage of that opportunity to spend some time with the Lord. If one is struggling with a particular problem go there with a spirit of prayer and total surrender. Place yourselves in his hand and pour out your hearts to Him. By taking things to the Lord we find a sense of peace and relief. We are always in need of individuals willing to spend time with our Lord in prayer. Many of our regular adorers are moving out of the area, some because of health reasons are no longer able to come on a regular basis, and others have been called home to the Lord. So there is this need for individuals to step up and dedicate one hour with the Lord and it is a wonderful opportunity and I encourage everyone to take advantage of it.
Another vehicle provided by the Lord to assist us on a journey is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is the manifestation of the Paschal Mystery, the life…death….resurrection…ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many of us often times take this wonderful gift for granted. One of the ways we actively participate in the Liturgy (and this is the true active participation that was intended by the Second Vatican Council) is every time we gather together we offer Him the very sacrifice of our lives. We bring to Him our very lives, our challenges, our joys, and our pains. In the Liturgy of the Word our Lord turns towards us and speaks about his life, and then we turn to the Lord in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. When the priest prays aloud the words of the Eucharistic prayer the faithful gaze with him upon the image of the crucified Lord. As he stands at the center of the father offering the bread and wine that will become the Body and Blood of Christ, the faithful participate by listening intently while at the same time presenting their concerns and needs to the Altar of God. After we offer our lives to the Lord He extends to us His great gift of love when He comes down from the altar much like He came down off the cross and meets us in an intimate way in the Eucharist. Upon receiving this gift we kneel down in adoration and appreciation. Then we stand up giving thanks and before we leave as He did for His early disciples our Lord gives us His blessing and commission to go out into the world. Once that is done our Lord ascends from our midst leaving us to go and carry out the mission our He gives us.
On this the feast of Christ the King we must ask ourselves is Christ our King. Are we giving ourselves to Him totally allow Him to work in our lives? These are questions we must ask ourselves each and every day. Let’s make Christ our King by taking advantage of the wonderful spiritual opportunities we have here at Corpus Christi Parish. By making Jesus Christ the King in your lives and I assure you will not be disappointed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Homily of the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

If you haven’t heard the news reports yet, we have received word from the Vatican that our Bishop His Excellency the Most Reverend Kevin Rhoades has been appointed Bishop of Fort Wayne South Bend Indiana. He will be installed as the Bishop of that Diocese on January 13, 2010. May we pray for Bishop Rhoades as he begins his transition! Pray also for our Holy Father Pope Benedict as he prayerfully discerns who to appoint as our next spiritual leader.
As we listened to the readings today the one thing that stands out in the first reading and the Gospel is the clear reference to the end of time. Next weekend is the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, so this year is drawling to a close. In the first reading from the book of Daniel we hear about Michael and how he will appear during the time of distress. Then Jesus in the Gospel is clearly referring to His Second Coming.
Now in both passages there is something contained in them that we should take note. In the book of Daniel it says “at that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book.” What book is he referring to? Our Lord says in the Gospel, "And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” Who are the elect? Many will point to these passages and try to argue that there are only a limited number of people who are going to be saved. That is simply not true. Those who put their complete trust in God are His elect. We are God’s elect. Now that doesn’t mean our salvation is guaranteed. He has given us a free will and we can choose for ourselves whether or not we want to follow Him. However, these passages in no way suggest that it’s only going to be a few who will join our Lord in the Heavenly Kingdom. That door is open to all of us.
The scripture readings for today do give us something to think about. Are we living up to the call we are called to live? Jesus reminds us at the very end of the Gospel, “but of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Therefore we need to be prepared, by being faithful witnesses to the Gospel each and every day.
As we approach the close of this liturgical year and the upcoming holiday season may we pray for the grace to be faithful witnesses to the Gospel! In only a few short weeks we will approach the season of giving. While many of us are in no doubt struggling may we pray for the grace to continuously give of ourselves to God and our neighbor! Last week, I mentioned that it doesn’t matter how much we give, or what we give, as long as whatever we give it comes from the heart. We may not be able to give as much monetarily generous as we were last year; however we might consider sharing some of our gifts and talents and handing down those things we no longer use. Do not be afraid to give! When we stop giving we shut the doors to our hearts and become truly miserable. It is in giving we receive…we receive joy, peace, and satisfaction knowing we did something good.
Corpus Christi Church is truly a giving parish. Do not lose that giving spirit! You do a lot to support this parish and its many organizations! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, please take these words to heart. We are so blessed with many opportunities here at Corpus Christi to come together as a family of faith to support each other and to assist one another in preparing for the heavenly kingdom.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Homily for Wednesday of the 32nd Week of Ordinary Time…the Memorial of St. Martin of Tours

As a nation today we remember those men and women who served our countries throughout the years. We honor those men and women who laid down their lives to protect the interests of this great nation and fought to free those who were unjustly deprived of freedom. On this Veterans Day we pray for those serving in our nation’s military throughout the world.
Today we also honor another soldier St. Martin of Tours. At the age of 18 he had a conversion experience. The story goes one day he ran across a man on the street. Martin moved with compassion gave this man his cloak. Later Martin had a dream and in that dream he saw that man and it was Jesus. Those with the Lord asked Him about the individual who gave Him the cloak. Our Lord responded, “My friend Martin.” From that day on Martin became another type of soldier, a soldier of Christ.
When I studied at St. Charles Seminary the college division chapel was dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. Walking into the chapel on the left there was a stain class widow depicting St. Martin as a soldier. Then when you walked out of the chapel on the left directly across from the other stain class widow was a widow that depicted Martin as a bishop. Some might ponder the significance. This relates to the conversion that is supposed to take place each and every time we come here to Church. Like Martin who was converted we should be converted. We should be moved to change from our sinful ways. After receiving our Lord we should be moved as He Himself commands us each and every day to go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Every time we come here it should be a conversion experience.
My dear brothers and sisters, may we pray for our nation’s military men and women who work so hard to serve our country. May we also pray for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives for others! Today may we pray for St. Martin’s intercession that we may become like Him, soldiers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Homily for Tuesday of the 32nd Week of Ordinary Time

Yesterday for the feast of the dedication of the Lateran basilica I mentioned that we are the Church living temples of faith. This morning we hear in the Book of Wisdom that “God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature.” From the very beginning of time we were destined to be with God.
While sin entered the world, we are reminded that “the souls of the just are in the hand of God.” All we have to do is place our complete trust in Him. All of us have our own struggles, but if we place our trust in Him constantly He extends to us His gift of grace and mercy. May we strive each and every day to bless the Lord at all times in all our thoughts and actions.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Homily for the Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran

Normally when we have a feast day in the Church it is usually in honor of a particular Saint. Today’s feast is in honor of a dedication of a Church. This isn’t just any Church! It is the oldest of the four major basilicas in Rome. Also it is the Cathedral of Rome, the official seat of the Bishop of Rome.
Why do we honor this Church? The Basilica of St. John Lateran stands as a sign of devotion and a sign of unity with the chair of Peter. Being that it is the oldest of the Basilicas it stands as a testament of faith. In the second reading this morning we are reminded however, that the Church is more than a building. We are the Church and our faith is rooted in Jesus Christ. The Lateran Basilica just like our beloved Corpus Christi Church stands as a testimony of our faith. It was built by us the people of God. With our faith firmly rooted in Jesus Christ, may we pray this morning to always be the living temples of faith we are called to be.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Homily for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today there are two parts of the Gospel. In the first part our Lord teaching the crowds says, “Beware of the Scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.” This passage is directed at all of us. Many times we can do things for all the wrong reasons. Instead of doing things for the common good of others there is at times a tendency in us to want to do it for our own good. We look for things to do that will in turn make us look good.
After he said this He watched the crowd and one poor widow caught his attention. He watched as some rich people placed large sums of money in the treasury. However, the poor widow placed only two small coins into the treasury. Looking on calling his disciples to himself, He said to them, “Amen I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus of wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” There is something to be said about giving from our heart. That is what our Lord wants to stress in the Gospel account for today.
In light of our current economic situation many of you are struggling to meet ends meet. Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. As we approach the Holiday Season I want to stress we have a lot to be thankful for and I realize as we begin to approach the Christmas Season for many of you it will be stressful. When we find ourselves in desperate situations we tend to close the doors to our hearts. I challenge all of us not to let that happen. Perhaps we might not be able to be as generous as we were last Christmas, however it isn’t about how much we give, or what we give, as long as whatever we decide to give it comes from the heart.
We are approaching the season of giving. Since many people are struggling, I challenge all of us to model the widow we find in today’s Gospel. Yes we need to save, we need to be careful how we spend our money but that doesn’t mean we stop giving. There is more to giving than just money. We can give money but perhaps we might want to give our talents and time. Maybe we might want to consider donating those things we no longer use to someone who might now need them. Whatever we do as we approach this holiday season do not lose that spirit of giving because when we stop giving we become miserable. It is in giving we receive…we receive joy, peace, and satisfaction knowing we did something good.
Do not be afraid to give. A few weeks ago I mentioned, how blest we are as a parish. We have one of the most effective St. Vincent De Paul programs I have ever seen. It’s a program supported by you! Corpus Christi Church is truly a giving parish and I once again thank you for the generous support you give to our various programs and to our parish. Another thing I encourage all of us to take advantage of is participating in some of our parish gatherings. Yesterday we had the Craft Fair, in a couple weeks we have the Celebrate Corpus Christi Breakfast, and there other events coming up. Take advantage of these opportunities. It does more than raise money for particular organizations and the parish. These activities bring us together as a parish. It gives us the opportunity to gather and socialize as a parish family to encourage and support one another. Today more than ever we need our families for support.
My dear brothers and sister may we today model the poor widow in today’s Gospel by giving totally of ourselves to the Lord and to one another. As our beloved late Holy Father Pope John Paul II said so many a times, “Be not afraid.” As we prepare to close out this Liturgical Year and begin a new one in only a few short weeks let us be thankful to God for all the gifts He has given us and may we strive to keep the spirit of giving alive in our hearts.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Homily for Thursday of the 31st Week of Ordinary Time

You and I are sinners! There is a tendency in us to forget that. The Scribes and Pharisees did in the Gospel account for today. Complaining about the Lord they said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Jesus responds by challenging them by using two parables, the first of the Lost Sheep and the second of the lost coin. Our Lord by using these parables is illustrating the importance of every single individual. The Lord loves each one of us so much He longs for us to be with Him.
In everything we do we must strive not to be like the Scribes and Pharisees but to always try to be more like the Lord. We must always keep our eyes open for the lost sheep within our midst. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans this morning speaks clearly of not judging one another. This means we are not to write anyone off. However, this doesn’t mean we don’t challenge each other to a greater holiness a greater love. It’s just when we look at others we must remember that we are sinners as well and never write anyone off. As we approach the altar of the Lord this morning may we ask Him for the grace never to judge one another and to always to be on the lookout for the modern day lost sheep in our society.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Homily for All Souls 2009

On this feast of All Souls we have many options to choose from when it comes to picking the readings. Taking a look at our Second Reading from St. Paul we are reminded that none of us live is to live for ourselves. “For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord.” Today we commemorate All Souls day, where we pray for all those who have died and we particularly remember the souls in purgatory.
Purgatory is often a misunderstood place. It is often seen as a place where one slaves away to pay off a debt that they incurred while here on earth. Purgatory is a place of purification a place of refinement. While many don’t understand purgatory, for us who believe it is a positive place, for if one dies and are placed in purgatory they are truly in the hands of God. As the Lord said in today’s Gospel, “I will not reject anyone who comes to me.” Therefore today let’s make it a point to come to the Lord each and every day. Let us ask our brothers and sisters who have gone before us to intercede for us before the Lord to help us with always living for Him by living for others.