Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Homily for the Monday after the Epiphany…the Memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus

“Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” On this Monday after the Epiphany in the first reading we are challenged to test the spirits. Indeed within our world there are many false prophets. This is how we know whether the spirit is of God or not…“every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belong to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God.”

How do we know today whether or not which is presented before us comes from the Lord? In order to answer that question we need to ask ourselves is this message leading us to Jesus Christ. If the answer is no…then the message is false. However, if the answer is yes then the message is true. One this Monday following the Epiphany of the Lord and on this memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus let’s look for the road which leads to our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Homily for the Epiphany of the Lord

Epiphany means revelation and what is revealed to us today is the glory of God. Listen again to these words from the prophet Isaiah, “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.” God’s glory was revealed to us in a special way with the birth of Christ. Although we celebrate His birth year after year, you and I must look for the ways in which the Lord’s glory is communicated today.

Yet today we have moments of Epiphany, times in which our Lord reveals Himself to us on a daily basis. The most powerful way the Lord reveals Himself is of course in the Most Holy Eucharist. At the consecration we experience the Mysterium Fidei which is Latin for the phrase “mystery of faith” when the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. In recent years, it has come apparent that Catholics across the board in many places are losing an appreciation for the real presence of Christ. Beginning with the revolution of the 1960’s we have seen a dramatic drop in Church attendance. Yes the Church is growing, yet Mass attendance is down. While it would be easy to put the blame on the changing culture, can we place all the blame on that? Perhaps we can place some of the blame on our shoulders for allowing ourselves to lose that sense of the Mysterium Fidei.

Unfortunately many of us cannot appreciate the Mysterium Fidei because we as individuals become set in our ways. The Church is not centered on individuals, but rather is centered solely on Jesus Christ. We as Catholics have lost the sense of the Mysterium Fidei because we have thrown out many of our venerable traditions. Today the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated in many places in such a way that it has almost become routine! There is nothing routine about the Sacred Mysteries we celebrate and that is what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, a mystery. By eating and treating the Most Holy Eucharist as it were a mere piece of bread has contributed to the growth of the lack of appreciation and understanding for the real presence of Jesus Christ.

Thinking about the awesome gift that has been bestowed upon us as priests in the gift of the priesthood this phrase always stands out, “O Priest of God, say this Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass.” Everyone should reflect on those words for every Mass one attends. If we think of it in that way, the more we all grow to appreciate the Mysterium Fidei.

This morning the responsorial psalm we sang was, “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” Carpe Diem! Seize the day that is our theme for this Sunday. On this Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord we need to recapture our sense of the Mysterium Fidei! The Lord reveals Himself day after day week after week with the Lord shining the light of His presence in the world. Are we taking that light with us or are we allowing ourselves to block it? As you kneel down in adoration as those words are being said which makes the Mysterium Fidei present ask the Lord to open your eyes of faith and our hearts to experience His glory!

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Homily for the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God

St. Paul in writing to the people of Galatia wrote, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Today we honor Mary the mother of God because without her yes none of this would be possible.

In today’s Gospel we heard about the shepherds who traveled in haste to give witness to the greatest gift ever bestowed upon us. When they arrived in Bethlehem they found Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus lying in a manger. They told everyone what had been revealed to them about this child and Mary pondered all these things in her heart. This is a key part of the Gospel, “and Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” It is in this Gospel we see the pieces of the puzzle come together. Although Mary believed the angels message that she was to become the Mother of God, this encounter with the shepherds simply reinforced the message which had been revealed to her.

May God bless us in his mercy! Indeed He has through the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was her “yes” accepting the plan that God laid out for her that saved us all. Mary is the Mother of God and at the same time the mother of us all. It is in gratitude we honor her today! As we continue to take time to reflect on the great gift bestowed upon mankind may we take the time today to say thank you to Mary and ask her intercession in helping us follow the path which leads to her Son!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Innocents

“Beloved: This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.” A few days ago we celebrated the day in which the divine light formally entered the world with the birth of Christ.

Today’s Gospel we heard once again the account of the angel appearing to Joseph in a dream and asking him to take his family to Egypt because Herod issued an order to have all boys two and under killed. Because of Herod’s fear, greed, and pride he ordered this great massacre. However, as we have heard in the Gospel despite this great massacre he failed to achieve his goal. Although many innocent children were killed Herod was unable to stifle the light. In today’s world many innocent children die of abortion each and every single day. Many innocent children suffer in poverty from war and insurrection. Yet despite all this evil in the world the light of Christ cannot be dimmed. The light of Christ is much stronger than any evil present in the world today. This is our hope; this is the message that must be proclaimed by all of us every day of our lives.

Video for the Feast of the Most Holy Family

Video of the 6:00PM Christmas Eve Children’s Mass Homily

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family

Yesterday most of us gathered with our families and friends to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Less than twenty four hours later we gather once again as a parish family to gaze upon this image which is situated to my right and that this the image of the Holy Family…Joseph and Mary with the infant baby Jesus.

My brothers and sisters we cannot negate the importance of families in today’s society. In fact, the family unit is important and necessary. Without good healthy strong families our society would be at a loss. Yet today we see our world is full of broken families which have led to in many cases a loss of morals. Many of our criminals incarcerated in our prisons are products of broken homes. How did we reach this point? Is their hope for our society? Can we turn things around? The answer to all these questions is of course we can! We have hope and it can be seen in the humble image next to me, the image of the Holy Family.

This morning we heard in the Gospel that the angel of the Lord once again appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.” Even the Holy Family had difficulties arise and this was one of them. We must realize that conflicts and difficulties will arise within any relationship. One of the things we really need to focus on in marriage preparation is the phrase “for better or for worst, in good times and in bad.” It’s easy for us to run away when things get rough, but did the challenge facing the Holy Family drive them apart. No, it brought them even closer together as a family.

Parents must also understand that they are the primary educators of the faith. That it is not the responsibility of our Catholic Schools and our Religious Education program. Children should be getting the basics at home so many of the things which we go over here should not be something new. Also parents must be willing to discipline their children. Discipline is not abuse, but rather discipline as it is defined is a training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. Actually discipline is a form of love. This is something that is lacking in today’s society. Why are we afraid to discipline? Unfortunately many people confuse discipline with abuse. I’ve known many good parents who have been contacted by the child welfare office because someone witnessed them discipline their child. Abuse does happen and unfortunately is prevalent in places within our society however we should be careful not to confuse the two.

A failure to discipline has contributed to the decline in morality throughout the world. This past summer a young man I was in scouts with was shot and killed and the alleged shooter was a fifteen year old. I cannot help but think how this could have been allowed to happen. Is this what we want for our society? Too many people have bought into this concept that discipline is harmful to a child’s growth. The fact is without discipline there is no growth taking place. Many of these kids who grow up without discipline end up like that fifteen year old. How many lives have to be affected by our lack willingness to challenge and give guidance to one another? Parents are called not to be their children’s best friend but are called to be truly their parent giving them guidance preparing them for the future that lies ahead. That doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t be friendly with their children but rather when push comes to shove that they understand that most grave responsibility which has been placed upon their shoulders. Parents have a responsibility not only to discipline but also to monitor what their children are watching on television, what sites they are visiting on the internet, and what video games they are playing regularly. That’s not invading your child’s privacy that is being their parent. When I lived in my parent’s house, I followed the rules they established and I still do when I am home…the same should apply for all households. A word to children, listen to your parents. One day you will appreciate what they have said and done for you.

Our goal today is to take a good close look at this special image which is before us. May we strive to model the example of the Holy Family in our homes! Families are the core of our society and without good healthy families we are at a lost. There is no such thing as a perfect family; however our families are perfected when we unite them to the Lord and His family. As we approach these sacred mysteries today may we ask the Lord to strengthen our families so that we can make a positive impact helping others see the glory of God within our world!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Homily for Christmas Day (Using the Readings for Mass during the Day)

This morning “all the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.” As each of us gathers here this morning we celebrate the birth of our Savoir Jesus Christ. On this day we celebrate the day in which our Heavenly Father demonstrated His great love by sending down to earth His only begotten Son, who was borne of the Virgin Mary and became Man!

Jesus Christ is our greatest gift. He is the greatest gift that has ever been bestowed upon mankind. Our Heavenly Father gave the gift of His begotten Son freely without asking for any reward. Today our young children were visited by another individual who gives of Himself and that is Santa. Father Christmas demonstrates to us the importance of giving much like our Lord gave of Himself totally. Santa Claus shows us today how we are to give without considering the benefits. In doing so Santa Claus points everyone today in the direction of Jesus Christ! There is no conflict between the two, but rather an intimate connection; both men show us that it is in giving that we receive.

The Word has indeed become flesh as He becomes flesh before our very eyes, day after day, week after week on this very altar. So often we lose sight of those gifts especially those gifts that present themselves to us right before our very eyes. In the Gospel we heard, “A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.” My brothers and sisters, each one of us today are called to be a John! You and I have a duty to take the message that we receive and take us with us. All too often we are afraid to live our faith out of fear of offending someone which is a mistake on our part. There is nothing offensive about our faith. If we all stood up for what we truly believed in and lived our faith in the world it would be a better place. You and I cannot remain silent. If we remain silent and become too afraid to live our faith, then greed and worldliness will begin to rule over our lives.

Today our Lord has spoken to us in the celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. He continues to speak to us in many ways that so often we miss out because we close our ears of faith. My brothers and sisters it is our Lord’s words we are called to take with us in our thoughts, words, and actions. The Lord is dwelling with us; this is a gift that is not meant to be kept to ourselves but is a gift that is meant to be shared. On this Christmas Day as we gather together with our families may we share the gifts that have been given to us with one another in order to prepare ourselves to share the true message of Christmas with everyone we meet throughout this New Year!

Homily for the Nativity of the Lord Jesus (Vigil Mass at 4PM in Corpus Christi Church)

“For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.” It is with that line on behalf of Father O’Brien, Father Palomino, and myself I would like to extend to all of you the words that people are afraid to use out of fear, but without fear I say to you this afternoon, “Merry Christmas!” To the guests of our parishioners or to those perhaps just simply visiting the area this afternoon I welcome you openly to Corpus Christi Church.

This afternoon we gather here to prepare ourselves in anticipation for the birth of our Savior. The readings for the vigil, the readings for the Mass at midnight, the readings for the Mass at Dawn, and the Mass during the day help us to focus on the actual events leading up to the Lord’s birth. At this particular liturgy in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah we heard the line, “For the Lord delights in you and makes your land his spouse.” My brothers and sisters the Lord delights in each one of us. If He didn’t our God wouldn’t have sent down His only Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. Listening to this part of the reading should fill every one of us gathered here in this packed Church with hope and reassurance. Our Heavenly Father loved us all so much that He was born in a humble manger to set the stage for the greatest act of love which would come to fulfillment thirty three years later.

We were reminded this afternoon what the word “Emmanuel” means in the Gospel. It simply means, “God is with us!” How often do we forget that the Lord is with us? Today we gather here to celebrate His birth the day in which God’s the Father’s love was manifested. However, so many times we miss out in His presence among us here and now. As we celebrate “God is with us” we must look for the ways our Lord shows us His love. One of the ways He demonstrates His love is through our families. Christmas affords us all the opportunity to gather together. Another way He manifests Himself is through the Sacred Mysteries we celebrate this afternoon.

A few moments ago we sang together, “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.” Today as we leave here having been enlightened by his word and nourished by His Most Sacred Body we are challenged to always sing His goodness. In the Second Reading we hear how Saint Paul bears witness to Christ. You and I are called to live and practice our faith. Living and practicing our faith go hand in hand. In order to live our faith more fully in the world one needs to be practicing the faith and yes practicing the faith means going to Church every single Sunday. There is a reason why the Church asks us to go to Mass every weekend and holy day of obligation, and to utilize the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year. Our Lord knows what we need and that is expressed through His Church. You and I need to gather together each week to listen to the word of God, to receive our Lord into our hearts when we feel that we are able, and finally we need to gather together to support one another in the faith. We as a Church are a family we are family that needs to support one another!

Christmas Eve or Day is not the only day we celebrate “God is with us.” You and I have the opportunity to experience “God is with us” each and every single day on this very altar! As Saint Paul bore witness to Christ in His ministry, may we bear witness to Christ not only this evening and all day tomorrow but wear witness to Him every single day of our lives. May our Lord continue to bless all of you and may you have a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Homily for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent

In little over twenty four hours from now you and I will gather here in this Church to celebrate the birth of Savior. Today’s readings are about prophets. In the first reading taken from the Book of the Prophet Malachi we heard this verse, “Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes.” Then in today’s Gospel we have the account of the birth of John the Baptist.

As we come down to the final hours of our advent preparation may we strive today to be prophets! Holidays are often stressful and unfortunately we are not the prophets we are called to be. Today stop and mediate on ways we can be prophets to others. May we let the light of love shine forth from our hearts allowing others to experience with us the joy of Christmas!

Homily for Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

The first reading from the Book of Samuel we hear how Hannah returns to give thanks for the birth of her son Samuel. Listen once again to her words, “I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request. Now I, in turn, give him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the Lord.”

Christmas is an opportunity not only for giving but also a time to give thanks. As we get ever closer to the celebration of the Lord’s birth let’s take this opportunity to be thankful. It is so tempting to become overwhelmed with last minute shopping and last minute details, let’s take this opportunity to give thanks to the Lord who is our savior for all the many gifts and blessings.

Homily for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Today’s opening line from the first reading from the Song of Songs makes for a perfect love song. “Hark! My lover – here he come springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills.” In a few short days you and I will be celebrating the greatest act of love the world has ever known when the Lord became the flesh.

Our goal for today is to act and reflect joyfully. It’s so easy for us to become discouraged, however has we prepare to celebrate the greatest gift ever bestowed upon mankind we should stay positive. As Christmas draws closer and closer let’s reflect with joy on all the things that have been given to us. May that joy flow out to all those we meet helping them to experience the joy that Christmas has the potential to bring.

Homily for Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory. That’s our goal for this Monday to let the Lord into our hearts and minds. Listen to the words the angel spoke to the Blessed Mother, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that Mary conceived and bore a son. That same Holy Spirit is at work in the world. Make this your goal for today, take five minutes and spend it quietly to yourself. Reflect on how the Holy Spirit is working in your lives. As I mentioned in my homily yesterday we get ourselves wrapped up and excited over details that we lose sight of what this season is all about. Five minutes of silent reflection is a great way to condition ourselves for what we are going to celebrate in a few days. As we prepare to celebrate the Lord’s humble triumphant entrance into our world may we take advantage of humbling ourselves in prayer in His awesome presence!

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Advent is coming to a close and Christmas is literally right around the corner and today we are challenged to “let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.” The readings for this week are centered on the birth of Christ. Listen to the very last line of the first reading from the prophet Isaiah! “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”

This passage is once again referenced in today’s Gospel from Matthew, however it goes on to explain what the word means and that is “God is with us.” Our Lord is within our midst. Do we see the Lord at work in the world or do we totally Him? So often we tend to get wrapped up with trying to find that perfect gift or we panic when we look at how much we need to spend that we lose sight of what this season is truly about. If we are one of those who find themselves getting wrapped up with all that is going on chill out for moment. Put yourselves in the presence of God. Our Lord is indeed with us, spend time with Him. Holiday’s are stressful, because we make them be! Pray and relax in the presence of the Lord.

On this fourth Sunday of Advent we see the wisdom of the Church for using the readings leading up to the Birth of Christ, because we are getting to close to that special day. It’s like we said, right around the corner. We have about a week to get everything ready! As you prepare to celebrate Christmas with your family do not neglect your responsibility to prepare your hearts and minds spiritually. Don’t stress out too much about the details…presence under the tree, what you are going to feed the extra quests in your house, but rather keep your eyes fixed on Jesus! Our Lord Jesus Christ is the reason for the season, may we never lose sight of that!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Homily for Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

“I am the Lord, there is no other; I form the light, and create the darkness, I make well-being and create woe, I the Lord, do all these things.” This opening line taken from our first reading this morning reminds us that the Lord is the author of everything. All our blessings and even our crosses come from God.

That last line is often difficult for us to understand, our Lord gives us crosses. He gives us crosses for two reasons, one to help us grow in the faith. We cannot carry our crosses alone and we need help. Not only help from others but more importantly help from the Lord. As our crosses become increasingly more difficult we should instinctively turn to Him for help. The second purpose of crosses is to give us an opportunity to help one another. All of us share crosses to some degree and we have the ability to help one another with them.

Our Gospel is similar to the one proclaimed this past weekend where John sends two disciples to the Lord. It says in the Gospel, “at that time Jesus cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits.” As we have said repeatedly the last several days is that advent is a time of preparation. Today our preparation gets a little deeper. God has indeed given us everything. Part of our preparation today is to learn how to place our trust in the Lord. While God does not provide us physical healing, when we come to Him our Lord does indeed provide us spiritual healing. He helps us carry those difficult crosses. In your prayers today and as you go home make a mental note of all the gifts that have been given to you and also take a close look at those crosses and look for ways the Lord communicates to us through them showing us His love.

Homily for Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Together as we listen to the Gospel he heard our Lord say, “When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did.” The season of advent is about paving a way for the Lord to work in the world. We do that when we live our faith through our thoughts, words, and actions.

There are many individuals today we are at a lost and are in need of hearing the Lords beautiful words. Our Lord reminded the chief priests and the elders of the people that the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before them. As we can imagine that probably didn’t sit well with them at all. Yet it is true, many times all of us write off individuals who don’t live according to the commandments of the Lord. Notice the Lord doesn’t say that they are guaranteed heaven what He said to the chief priests and the elders that they are answering the Lord’s call to conversion. That is what the season of advent is all about, it is about a response. How are we responding to the Lord’s call? Are we responding in such a way that is not only bringing us closer to the Lord but also bringing others to Him as well? These are the questions we must reflect on today!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Homily for Monday of the Third Week of Advent

Take a shot! Have you ever had one of those moments when a situation presented itself that you chose not to participate in and afterwards you can kick yourself for not doing it. Each of us probably had that happen to us at time point in our lives. Today the chief priests and the elders approached the Lord and asked Him, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” In response the Lord said “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Advent is about preparing our hearts for the birth of our savior. It is a time of preparation. With any type of preparation it means we got to take chances. Are we doing everything possible to prepare our hearts for the coming of our savior or are we letting worldliness distract us and get in the way. Our responsorial psalm was “teach me your ways, O Lord.” Are we letting the Lord guide our hearts and minds this advent or are we just allowing ourselves to get in the way. This advent, take a chance and let the Lord Take control of our spiritual preparation!

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent

Let the countdown begin! “Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Today we lit the third rose candle on the advent wreath which signifies that the day in which we celebrate the birth of our Lord is getting closer. Can’t you feel the excitement in the air!

Some may be saying what excitement, come on we celebrate Christmas every year. Perhaps some might be thinking Father we can’t get excited about this Christmas money is tight and we are struggling to stay afloat. Listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Be strong, and fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication.” My brothers and sisters our God has come to save us and that is what we celebrate this Christmas. No matter how bad things might seem, let’s keep our chins up! Saint Nicolas or Santa Claus shows each of us that it is in giving that we receive and sometimes even Santa is affected by budget cuts. It’s not that he can’t afford to make those toys, but rather he wants to show us the true purpose of Christmas. Santa like Jesus gives without counting the cost. While we might not be able to afford everything we want to buy this Christmas don’t lose that spirit of giving. They are many ways we can give without going shopping or handing out cash this Christmas, give of your time to reach out to those in need. Spend time together as a family. Christmas is about Jesus Christ and helping others to experience the love He has for each one of us!

We all have something to rejoice about this Christmas! Our Lord has given us many gifts…gifts that we so often take for granted that it takes economic hardships and other problems that arise for us to appreciate the gifts that we have! Indeed today we must make our hearts firm for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Soon we all be gathered back here celebrating the greatest gift that has ever been given to the world in the Christ child. However, we need to be patient. There is still work that must be done!

As we heard in the Gospel “behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.” You and I have a call and that call is this…to prepare the way of the Lord. Keep Jesus Christ in Christmas. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly afraid to live one’s faith on one’s sleeve. Our world is becoming increasingly messed up because the prince of darkness is interested in ruining our spirit. We cannot bury our faith in the ground and expect it to grow; we need to keep it out in the open for everyone to see. Without God there is no other alternative and the dimmer the light of Christ becomes. If we want to truly prepare our hearts for the birth our savior, than what we need to do is take this opportunity seriously. So often we get ourselves wrapped up in details that we lose sight of everything. Continue with your spiritual preparation and if anyone hasn’t started, start it today! Spend some time in prayer, go to confession and get rid of those things that weigh us down. Let’s celebrate the birth of our Savior with a clean slate.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet this advent season and it’s a good way for us to grow spiritually each day. It’s a gift that we have as a parish and that is our perpetual adoration chapel. My brothers and sisters our Lord extends to us the invitation to spend time with Him and when we do He fills us with His abundant grace. What we have here as a parish is truly a gift and I hope that many more accept the invitation to spend time with Him in adoration and prayer. As time goes by more hours open up and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to cover hours. In some cases people are covering more than one hour in the chapel or are taking several hours throughout the week to cover times. We have a lot of people in this parish, new people coming into the parish regularly; we should be able to cover those hours. Let me remind all of us here present, this is really truly Jesus Christ! It is not a symbol; it is truly the Lord Himself. Jesus did not say, “This is a symbol of my body,” he said clearly “This is my body.” If we as Catholics truly believed it was truly Jesus Christ we would not hesitate to run in haste to be in His presence. This is an awesome gift that we have going here my brothers and sisters it would be a shame if we lose it.

Lord, come and save us! May we place everything into His hands and continue our preparations for the day in which we celebrate the birthday of our Savior by keeping Christ in Christmas and living our faith in our thoughts, words, and actions!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remembering those who have died this day

Today is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor!  On this day back in 1941 our base in Pearl Harbor was attacked and many people lost their lives.

We remember those who died in the attacks of Pearl Harbor and we remember all those who have died in service to our country.  Also we continue to pray for all those men and women who continue to serve our nation each day abroad and at home. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Homily for Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Yesterday we heard in the first reading, “I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand; it is I who say to you, and “Fear not, I will help you.” Then we hear in this morning’s responsorial psalm, “those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.” Advent is a time in which we prepare our hearts and minds for the light that is to come.

There is some truth in today’s Gospel, often times when we live our faith, we cannot win! Listen to what Jesus said, “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” However, this should not discourage us from living our faith. The Advent season is a gift. It’s a gift of time in which we have the opportunity to take some time to prepare our hearts and minds for this special celebration that awaits us!

For approximately the first two weeks focus on our spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord in a few days we will notice a shift in the readings preparing us for the immediate birth of our Savior! There is plenty of wisdom to this setup because we cannot prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of the Lord’s birth if we don’t do immediate preparations in our own lives. Today my brothers and sisters in Christ, keep your eyes focused and centered on Christ whom is the light that lightens our paths!

Homily for Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

“I am the Lord, your God, who grasp for your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” During advent we are asked to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Lord’s birth. Too often in the midst of our preparation we hit a rut and can’t get ourselves out of it. Reflecting back on my own life the times I find myself getting stuck are when I become focused on doing things myself rather than trusting in the Lord.

The Lord reminds us through the writing of the prophet Isaiah that He is there with us every step of the way. There is only one thing we must do and that is to simply ask Him. If we ask the Lord to help us, He will do it. So often we hear those words, but because we are so accustomed to doing things ourselves we fall back into the old pattern. Listen to these words that concluded the Gospel, “whoever has ears ought to hear.” What does it mean to truly hear the word of the Lord? Many times we hear the way the world does, in ear out the other; however that is not the way we should hear. When we hear the word of God we should let it penetrate from our ears down into our hearts.

Our goal for today is to truly open our hearts and minds to the Lord, allowing Him to grasp us by the hand to assist us with our advent preparation!

Homily for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (7PM Mass)

Two stories stand out in today’s readings! The first is the one of the fall of Adam and Eve and the second is story of the Annunciation when the angel Gabriel appeared before Mary and told her of God’s plan for her to become the Mother of God. Why is it that we have these two very different stories within the readings?

As Catholics we refer to Mary as the New Eve and her Son Jesus as the new Adam. With Mary’s Immaculate Conception the day in which she was conceived without sin set God’s plan in motion for mankind’s salvation. Today my brothers and sisters in Christ we should be singing a new song for we celebrate our Lord doing something truly magnificent for each of us. In choosing Mary he opened the door for us to be saved. You and I are His chosen people and although we often fail He did not leave us on our own. Mary’s yes opened the door for us to bask in the Lord’s presence when our earthly journey is over.

In his opening words the angelic messenger Gabriel said to the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Hail full of grace! The Lord is with you!” Like the Blessed Virgin Mary we too are full of grace. We were instilled with a divine grace at our baptism although many times because of our human tendencies that grace is often dimmed. It is fitting that the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception falls during the Holy Season of Advent. The Sacred Season of Advent is a season of preparation and one way we prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is through penance. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we remove those obstacles that block out that light of grace that is in us and although the Lord is with us in few short moments we will receive Him into our hearts in the precious way through the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Now having the Lord within us comes with a responsibility and it’s a responsibility to live our faith. Yes we too like the Blessed Mother have been chosen for a mission. For some of us that mission is already something that we grasp while others it is a call they are still discerning! However, Saint Pail is right in his writing to the people of Ephesus when he said to them, “he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world.” For what purpose did he create us? Listen again to Saint Paul’s words of wisdom, “In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.”

Thus today as we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception may we look for ways to continue our discernment or to live out the vocations to which we have been called!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Homily for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (7AM Mass)

Today as we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary the day in which she was conceived without sin setting God’s divine plan in motion in which she was a major part! In the Gospel the angel Gabriel’s opening words to her were, “Hail full of grace. The Lord is with you.” Indeed from the very beginning the Lord was with the Virgin Mary preparing her for the call in which she would fulfill.

As we celebrate this great solemnity we should let those words also resound in our hearts, “Hail full of grace. The Lord is with you.” Although at times we might not be living a life of grace because of our many failings in this season of grace in which this celebration is situated the season of Advent we have the opportunity to receive the Lord’s forgiveness and strength so that the divine grace which was instilled in us at baptism shines brightly. Finally as we come forward to receive Jesus in need the Lord of host will dwell in us completely and as we go worth into the world we celebrate with great joy the plan in which our Lord set in motion by choosing the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God. Like Mary we too are called…we are called to bear witness to Jesus Christ by preaching the Gospel of love!

Homily for Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” In sending His Son into the world the Heavenly Father comforted us with His presence. This advent we must make it a point to reach out to those who need to be comforted and help raise their spirits so they can celebrate with joy the birth of our Savior.

Often times we tend to forget and neglect those who have no one left or live too far to visit them. We cannot let ourselves forget about those individuals. There are also those individuals who have been away from the family of faith for a considerable about of time. You and I must also this advent make every effort to reach out to them and gently invite them back to the Lord and His family.

As we continue this advent may we include in our preparation reaching out to all those who need our help and assist them by preparing their hearts for coming of our Savior!

Homily for Monday of the Second Week of Advent

“We have seen incredible things today.” You and I have an opportunity to see astonishing things every day. Yet all too often we miss them because we are not playing close attention or were so busy looking for the spectacular that we miss the ordinary things that happen all the time. For example you and I have the opportunity to often hear the words, “I absolve you from your sins,” but so often to we fail to see the value of those important words.

The scribes and Pharisees missed the point any many times so do we! That is why our Lord performed the miracle He did as we heard in the Gospel. Our Lord saved the paralytic spiritually which is the most important healing on can receive. Reading their hearts He said so “that you may believe that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” he said to the one paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” When extraordinary miracles happen it is because there is a lack of faith. Advent is an opportunity for us to grow in faith and that is why we need to take this opportunity to prepare our hearts and minds spiritually for the celebration of the Lord’s birth.

Yes our Lord has come to save us! That is what we must remember today! Today look for the ordinary ways the Lord shows His saving love!

Homily for Thursday of the First Week of Advent (1:30 Nursing Home Homily)

One word stands out in our readings today and that word is strength! It is fitting to ask ourselves in this first week of Advent to think about where we place our faith and trust. Whom do we seek for strength? Do we rely only on ourselves?

There is only one true source of strength and that is Jesus Christ. Often times when we enter the winter months and the days get shorter and bodily aches and pains are more noticeable with the change of temperature we need find ourselves needing more strength. At this Sacred Liturgy we invite those who would like to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing to please extend your hands as I come around. In this Sacrament the Lord gives us not only a special grace but also a special strength. If we open our hearts and minds to the Lord we have the opportunity to experience a special kind of healing of body, mind, and spirit.

As you and I my brothers and sisters continue to prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of the Lord’s birth may we make every effort each and every day to keep our eyes focused on our Lord Jesus Christ through our prayers. Keep focused on Christ and we will experience the joy that awaits us in the celebration of the birth of our Savior.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

Today we remember in our prayers all those who suffer from the devastating disease of AIDES and the HIV virus. These individuals need our love, our prayers, and our support. May we remember all of them in our prayers and entrust them to our Divine Physician Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent 10:30AM Mass

Listen carefully to the words of Saint Paul in this morning’s Second Reading, “Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God. Piggybacking from my homily from last week I challenged all of us to make this goal as a parish, “to build this family of faith to build up Corpus Christi…the Body of Christ.”

Last week we focused on accepting children and young families into our faith community. This week we shall focus on accepting and welcoming those in our community who are young at heart. Here at Corpus Christi we have a wonderful outreach to the sick and homebound. We have a great team of Extraordinary Ministers who visit our nursing homes and parishioners who are home bound on a regular basis. There are many of you who volunteer your time to reach out to those who are homebound and bring them to Church every Sunday. Of course there is much more that we can do to address the needs of those who come to worship with us each week.

As we get older our hearing and our vision begin to deteriorate. It is very easy for us to get distracted. For those of you who do not know I suffer from glaucoma in both eyes and when I lose my place it is easy for me myself to become frustrated and it takes me sometime to figure out where I am at. As I travel around to parishes around the diocese I see how many of them address the needs of those who are young at heart. Some of them have Missalettes that contain not only the readings for the day but also the words of the Mass so those who cannot hear clearly can follow along. Others have the audio devices that one can plug directly into your ears to follow along a little closer when one cannot hear directly from the speakers. Many parishes are working to make their parishes more ADA accessible. There is more work that can and should be done to address the needs of those who are physically struggle.

Now going back to last week’s homily a few individuals came to me to talk about my homily which I am very grateful. As I said before I am grateful for individuals who do that. There are times I say things in the homily that I know will cause a stir and that is done to get us thinking. All too often we sit here week after week and that’s what we do, we simply just sit. The purpose of the homily was to encourage us to be more welcoming as a parish community to our young children. There are some who took my words to say that I don’t care about the young at heart and their desire to worship at Mass. If that is the way you took my comments than I truly apologize, however my intent was to clearly remind us of the importance of every child and that we should not easily become disturbed when they start to make a fuss. When every child cries we should hear the voice of God. To us that should not be a distraction but a blessing. Cell phones are a distraction, Father Carroll’s naturally loud voice is often a distraction, but a child’s cry represents the humble innocent voice of God who came to us as an infant. Over the years we have become preoccupied with the concept of hearing every word that is said, however we already know them. What happens when a priest gets to the point in his life that he is unable to project his voice even to the point of not being able to project his voice with the help of the microphone? Does that disqualify him from celebrating Mass publically? The answer is no…because what is more important that we hear every single word or that we receive Jesus. Hopefully our answer is that we receive Jesus.

Not everyone is going to agree with this interpretation; however it is the right one. Yes young families must try to respect the needs of others around them; however those who are young at heart must become more understanding of our younger families. It is not always practical in the middle of the sermon or in middle of the consecration for people to get up and utilize the children’s chapel when they are sitting in the middle of the pew without causing a greater distraction. During the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we should not be focusing necessarily on the words spoken but rather should be focusing our hearts and minds on the Lord and how He speaks to us. We mustn’t forget that our Lord came to us in the form of an innocent crying infant and we will one day in the presence of God fall down in His presence where we will find ourselves speechless unable to clearly get out a single word much like an infant.

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI began Advent with the vigil for life focusing on the unborn for a reason because every child is a blessing. They are not a distraction. With that said we must also respect the needs and formulate ways to minister to those within our parish community who are young at heart. After beginning the year our Holy Father turned to pray for the sick and the less fortunate. The Church is one family and we must respect and welcome one another. Failure to do that is once again a failure on our part to welcome Jesus Christ into our lives.

Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent 9AM Mass Homily

Listen carefully to the words of Saint Paul in this morning’s Second Reading, “Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God. Piggybacking from my homily from last week I challenged all of us to make this goal as a parish, “to build this family of faith to build up Corpus Christi…the Body of Christ.” Many times as priests we hear this complaint from people especially young families that they don’t feel welcomed in our Church’s because they feel embarrassed when their young ones act up. I have also heard this passed down to me second hand, that there are individuals within this parish that don’t feel it is necessary to support the youth and their involvement.

Our Lord welcomed children and so should we. Corpus Christi Church is not a community of faith but is something much stronger…a family. You and I have a grave obligation to welcome all of those in our midst. If there is one thing that bothers me is when I hear how our young families feel they are treated when they come here to worship our Eucharistic Lord. We as Catholics need to do a better job when it comes to living our faith in the world and welcoming others into our parish family. Everyone who worships here should feel the warmth of the radiance of God’s love every time they worship with us.

My dear brothers and sisters we cannot begin to prepare the way of the Lord if we do not openly welcome everyone, especially our young people! No one should ever feel that they are unwelcomed in this family. For those who have committed this act of injustice by becoming impatient with others when their children begin to fuss, complained when someone took your seat in the pew or failed to welcome the outsider into our family of faith than you must do as John the Baptist said in today’s Gospel, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” We don’t come here to be entertained, we don’t gather together to listen to the homily, you and I gather here for one purpose and that is to give thanks and worship the Lord. Our children, our families are gifts from God, any failure to recognize those gifts than we are failing miserably when it comes to our relationship with the Lord.

With that said I understand completely were our older parishioners come from. As our hearing and vision begin to decrease (which I completely understand because I do have glaucoma in both of eyes) it is easy for us to get agitated and frustrated when we get distracted. I feel we are not doing enough to address your concerns and needs as well. Some parishes provide listening devices to assist those with hearing disabilities. Others provide visual aids through Missalettes that contain the words of the Mass in them that way if you could not hear what was going on clearly you could follow them along. These are some suggestions all our churches ought to look at. Here at Corpus Christi there is one thing we do well and that is we have a wonderful group of lay extraordinary ministers who take our Lord out to the sick each weekend and during the week. As a priest I am very appreciative of the ministry they provide and the assistance these ministers give me in assisting me in my priestly ministry. Perhaps some may wonder why I keep the tabernacle key on me rather than leave it in the tabernacle for ministers to get communion in between Masses and a major part of that reason is not because I distrust our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion but rather because I want to keep a connection with those who are homebound. Every time the ministers come forward I ask them the number of hosts and who they are going to see. When I hand them the Sacred Host, I ask them to tell those whom they are going to see to give them my greetings and to assure them of my prayers. That way they know that we as priests haven’t forgotten them and that they are important.

Our Lord invites and welcomes everyone into His Holy Family. This morning I leave you with this question directed towards all of us. Are we doing everything that we can to extend that open invitation to everyone?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Homily for the Sunday Evening Holy Hour on 11/28/2010

Lord Jesus Christ, with your permission! Once again to the members of the NET team I would like to extend to you my affirmation and appreciation for the hard work you do preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You and I live in a world where it is often difficult to stand up one’s faith out of fear or persecution or rejection. What you provided for the members of our Youth Group this evening is encouragement and hope that there are those who are willing to spend a part of their lives serving the Lord.

Speaking in my capacity as a priest of Jesus Christ, I thank you with my whole heart for assisting me in my priestly ministry. You my friends bring people to Christ and in many cases back to Him. Each one of you through your ministry has an opportunity to reach individuals that as a priest I would have a hard time reaching. While I represent the vine, you my friends are the branches keep reaching out to others helping them to understand the love and mercy the Lord has for each one of us.

This morning the members of the NET team and many of you gathered this evening had the opportunity to hear my homily in which I laid out a new liturgical year resolution to build up the Body of Christ. While I certainly intended this to be a parish goal, it is meant to go much further than that. You and I are called to build up the Body of Christ here on earth by bringing more people to Him. Religion is something that we can’t force on people; however our faith is something we should be constantly inviting people into. The Catholic Church is not a closed circle but rather an open family that is constantly welcoming people into it. Today I focused on children especially since last night in Rome our Holy Father held a vigil for the protection of all human life especially the unborn. As you already know we live in a society that often rejects children and the value they bring to our society. My dear young friends this is a culture that we are meant to change and we can change it with His help. The Gospel we must preach is this and it was the closing statement in the homily, “close the door to our children and our young families than we do indeed close the door to Christ.”

So often we Catholic’s tend to across at times as being closed and cold as the stone that often outlines many of our Church buildings, but that shouldn’t be. Our church’s should be places in which everyone who comes to worship and give thanks to God feels the warmth of God’s loving embrace. That is our challenge today! Do we have all the answers? No of course not. This evening we have the opportunity to worship our Lord who is truly present among us. Our Lord chose to come to us under the appearance of bread for a reason. Bread represents a source of nourishment and strength but also in the time of Christ it was a common food. In choosing an ordinary piece of bread to become the bread of life our Lord demonstrates His humility. This evening we have the opportunity to exercise our humility by kneeling in presence of our Eucharistic Lord. Yes we don’t have all the answers, but right here is a good place for us to start.

To begin our spiritual journey of advent we need to trust in God. We need to let it all go our desires and wants and place everything into His hands. Stay focused! Keep your eyes on Him! Don’t take your eyes off Him for even one second! He is indeed our survival of life; He is the one who keeps us afloat. No matter what we do, long as we keep our Lord in our sights and make Him the center of everything we do, we will be successful in bringing more people to His Kingdom!

Two links of interest as we enter a New Liturgical Year!

http://www.usccb.org/advent/

The above link will take you to the United States conference of Catholic Bishops website section on Advent.  As mentioned in my homily for the first Sunday of Advent there are plenty of ways families can prepare their hearts and minds for the celebrating the Lord’s birth.  This section on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Website provides some resources for families to prepare for the Lord’s birth in their homes. 

http://www.usccb.org/romanmissal/

The next link is the one pertaining to the New Translation of the Roman Missal which will be making its debut here throughout the United States next year at this time on the First Sunday of Advent 2011.  I would encourage everyone to take the time to read over some of the changes and become familiar with the text.  This new liturgical year provides us the opportunity to grow in greater appreciation and knowledge of the Sacred Mysteries we have the privilege to celebrate day after day!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Reflection on the Gift of the Priesthood.

To live in the midst of the world, Without wishing its pleasures; To be a member of each family, Yet belonging to none; To share all sufferings; To penetrate all secrets; To heal all wounds; To go from men to God And offer Him their Prayers; To return from God to men To bring pardon and hope; To have a heart of fire for charity And a heart of bronze for chastity; To teach and to pardon, Console and bless always-- What a glorious life! And it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ!

 

As I sat down at the kitchen table in the rectory yesterday evening for my not so traditional thanksgiving dinner (two microwaveable French bread pizzas) I read a note from parishioners who are moving in which they wrote down the above prayer which can be found on many old holy cards written by an unknown author it got me thinking about the awesome gift that has been bestowed upon me.  Our Lord has given me an awesome gift to which I will always be grateful!   While the priesthood like any vocations is not always easy I can see the Lord’s hand at work in my priestly ministry.  There are times in which I am placed in a difficult situation without the words to say and I can all of a sudden feel the Holy Spirit take over and speak through me. 

Looking back at almost a year and a half of priesthood I give thanks to God for all that He has given me through my priestly ministry.  I have had the privilege to baptize, to forgive sins, to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to witness marriages, and to offer the Lord’s healing through the anointing of the sick.  God is good, all the time!  All the time, God is good!  I thank God everyday for the gift of the priesthood and I thank God everyday for allowing me the opportunity to minister to His holy people. 

As we begin to close another liturgical year and begin to enter a new one may we look back over the past year and take note on the many gifts and blessing that have been given us.  And as we move forward may we strive to look forward to those gifts that have yet to come!

Tomorrow Night…Let us join in prayer with our Holy Father!

Tomorrow night Catholics throughout the world are asked to join in prayer with our Holy Father His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI as he celebrates “A Vigil for all Nascent Human Life.” The unborn are the most vulnerable members of our society. In a society that does not often value human life at this stage it is important that we pray. Not only are we praying for their protection but we are also praying for a conversion in the hearts of those who write them off. All life is sacred from the moment of conception till natural death. This sacred teaching of the Church is not up for discussion and is something all Christians throughout the world are to hold close to our hearts.

In our society many will look ahead and say that we face a rough road ahead. The economy is bad and individuals are having a hard time finding work. Violence is increasing in many places and it is easy to see how one can be discouraged. However, there is hope and the hope is found in God and accepting the plan He lays out for us. All too often the big mistake we each make is that we try to play God and allow ourselves to get in the way. I have said it once and I will say it again we got ourselves into this mess and only we with the help of God get ourselves out of it. The future looks bleak because many in our society wrote off the future. If we want to make a complete three hundred and sixty degree turn then we must allow ourselves to rediscover the value of all human life especially those who are still developing in the womb.

As society makes technological advances there are medical ways to determine whether our children are healthy or not. Those who discover that their children in the womb suffer from Down syndrome or other physical abnormalities are given the opportunity to abort their children. This is a grave mistake. Even these children have a right to life! While they may face challenges and crosses as they grow up their lives serve a purpose! These special children teach us how to love!!! I loved my ministry working with the mentally challenged. They taught me a lot! Looking back I wouldn’t have had that wonderful experience if they would have been aborted. These special individuals can teach us all how to love and to grow in that important theological virtue.

Tomorrow night at my parish we will join our prayers with the Holy Father’s as we bless our outdoor nativity scene. As we bless this important symbol of Christmas we remember that it is our families who are backbone of our society. Without our families we would be in worse shape than we already are in. If we want to make a difference and make a change in our society for the better than it is important for us to open our hearts and minds to the will of God.

POPE-EUCHARIST

Dear Lord, we your people turn to you to offer up our prayers for the protection of those unborn children in the womb who are threatened by the sin of abortion. Open their parent’s hearts to the great gift of life. We know times are tough and we know the lies that permeate through our society, however we know with your strength we can get through anything that comes our way. Help those of us who stand up for life to keep our chins up when faced with opposition and to embrace our crosses with joy. May we never lose heart and may our ministry helping others to open their eyes to your gift of life help them come back ever closer to you! We ask this through the name of Jesus Christ our Lord…amen.

 

OPEN YOUR HEARTS TO LIFE AND YOU WILL AT THE SAME TIME OPEN YOUR HEARTS TO GOD!!!

A suggestion for those who might not be participating in any local prayer vigil.  Perhaps at some point tomorrow if one is able to pray the Most Holy Rosary for the intention of the protection of all human life.  Prayer is very important and the Lord hears all our prayers! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is always a glorious morning when one can offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and take our Lord Jesus Christ to those who are in the hospital. This morning when asked, “Are you going to spend time with your family father,” I thought to myself, I already am spending it with my family. There is no better way to celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving than to remain with the family I have been called to serve.

This morning I am grateful for the gift of the priesthood of Jesus Christ and all those individuals that have been brought into my life. I have been truly blessed! Today as we celebrate in our nation “thanksgiving day” may we give thanks to the Lord for all the many gifts and blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Please be assured of my prayers for you and your families as you gather together around your tables enjoying thanksgiving dinner. May we never forget to give thanks to the Lord who gave us everything!

Sincerely in Christ,

Father Carroll

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Brief Homily at the Blessing of the Christmas Crèche outside Corpus Christi Church

On this night in the eternal city of Rome our Holy Father is holding a vigil for the protection of all human life and in particular the unborn. This evening we gather together as a parish family to bless this beautiful nativity scene which reminds us of the importance of family.

The Holy Family didn’t have an easy life much like many of us are experiencing tough difficult times. As we bless this Christmas Crèche this evening may we be reminded of the importance of family. Our families are the pillar of our society. The breakdown of our families in many places throughout the world has caused major long lasting complications. Tonight as we gaze upon this beautiful image we remember two things. First we join in communion with our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in praying in support of all human life especially for the most vulnerable the unborn. Secondly we remember to pray for the strengthening of our families. We cannot negate the importance of families and the role they play in forming a culture of life. While this image depicts the perfect family, there is no perfect family within our world today, however we turn to this family depicted before us and we together ask them for their help in guiding us through the rough passages we may experience. This family is our model; this family is our strength, turn to them for guidance. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph pray for us!

Homily for the First Sunday of Advent

Saint Paul in writing to the Romans says, “You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.” My brothers and sisters now is the time for us to begin our spiritual preparation for the celebration of our Lord’s birth.

Each year we are given this great spiritual opportunity to prepare our hearts and minds for this celebration. Advent is a time of preparation and that means we have to do some work. As we heard in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, “Come; let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob.” Yes we have to put some effort into our spiritual life. If we don’t put any effort than we can’t expect it to go anywhere!

How does one prepare for the coming of the Lord? We have many wonderful ways in which we can prepare for the birth of our savior in our homes. Here at Church we have the advent wreath. It might me a good thing for families to purchase each year a smaller version of the advent wreath and light it each week together as a family. His Holiness just wrote an Apostolic Exhortation on the importance of the Word of God so as part of your family activities take the opportunity to read from sacred scripture. Invite your family and friends especially those who have been away from the Church for some time to come to Mass and if they have been away from the Church from some time invite them to take advantage of the great spiritual opportunity in utilizing the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There are many ways in which we can prepare our hearts and minds for the birth of Christ.

With each New Year and that is what this is a new liturgical year I would like make a goal for us as a parish and that is to build this community of faith to build up Corpus Christi…the Body of Christ. We are so blessed to have many young families within the parish and unfortunately I often get this complaint that they feel unwelcome in this parish. Young families mean crying infants and young toddlers. We should make them feel welcome. As a priest I am in favor of having children’s chapels (aka crying rooms) available for parents to utilize if their children start to fuss, but we shouldn’t be quick to drive them out of the assembly especially when our children’s chapel is not adequate in size. I want young families to bring their children to Church, I want to hear the choir of angels singing, and as I have told you before if I get distracted while I preach I take it as the Lord Himself telling me to wrap things up. Parents do their very best to address their children’s needs. The one thing I would ask parents to do is please reframe from bringing Cheerios and Tonka Trucks into Church. Cheerios make a mess and trucks or other items make a lot of noise going up and down the pew.  Please know your child throwing a brief fuss does not bother or faze this young cranky person who stands before you. If that bothers anyone here…too bad! Besides our Lord welcomed little ones and so do I! Anyone who thinks otherwise let me be frank should find another place to worship. My brothers and sisters you don’t come here to hear me preach you come here to give thanks and worship to God. Our young families and their children are the future and now of this Church and they free to worship here in peace. Now if you’re insistent in wanting to know what I said you can go to my blog in which you will find the text of my homilies at fathercarroll2009.blogspot.com.

As a priest I am pro-family and pro-young people. I do not see the Church as a community but rather I see it as something much stronger…a family. We are a family united together by one common faith. You and I are called to reach out to one another in order to build up His kingdom here and now on earth. If we want to prepare for the birth of our savior than we must be open to welcoming the children and families within our midst. Close the door to them…than you close the door to Christ!

Statement explaining the statement made by the His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

A few days ago the media picked up on a quote made by our Holy Father in regards to the use of condoms in order to prevent the spread of AIDES. In picking out this particular passage the news media quickly took the message completely out of context which should come to surprise us.  Having received my copy of the book Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times today and having read that section in its entirety I feel I am now able to explain what his holiness intended.

Let’s be perfectly clear there is no change in the Church’s teaching in regards to contraception and in particular in this case the use of condoms. The quote which raised eyebrows was “there may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward rediscovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality. First, “there may be a basis” does not mean there is a basis. Secondly, of course wanting to protect someone from the spread of HIV is a good thing. Being aware of one’s illness and wanting to protect others from it is not a bad thing. Therefore those who want to prevent the spread of the disease from spreading to others should be commended. However, that does not mean it is right.

As the Holy Father said clearly, “but it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in the humanization of sexuality.” That means we must do what God intends for the marital act! Those who have the HIV virus and are concerned with preventing the spread of the disease should live a life of chastity. Living accord to our state of life is the only morally acceptable way of preventing this terrible disease of spreading. Therefore, there is no change in the Church’s position in regards to the use of condoms.  There is only one real clear solution to the spread of Aides and that is living a chaste life.

Many people read into this passage what they wanted to read into it.  There are individuals in our society who wanted to cause confusion within the Church to advance their agendas.  Condoms are not the answer for the only true answer can be living a life of chastity according to one’s state of life!  Yes the cafeteria is CLOSED!  Like our Holy Father pointed out the intention is not bad, however condoms are not the true answer.

On this weekend we join in communion with our Holy Father as he prays for the protection of the most venerable members of our society the unborn we also pray for him as he continues to guide and shepherd us in the right direction.

Note:  While I have not read the book in its entirety I have read over certain passages from the book and I would encourage everyone to read it! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Homily for Friday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Although our earthly bodies will one day pass away there is one thing that will always remain a constant and that is our Lord God. It is true, if we want to look for consistency to whom do we turn.

Take a look at ourselves, do we always remain constant. No because of our humanness we often fail. Many times we say hurtful things to others or withhold forgiveness from someone who seeks it. Does God say hurtful things to hurt us or does He withhold forgiveness to those who properly seek it. The answer is no, God’s love and mercy is unconditional. No matter what we do or say He is there to welcome us back with open arms. This morning we said together in our responsorial psalm, “Here God lives among His people.” Indeed He does! As we receive Him this morning let us once again give thanks to God for the gifts of His love and His mercy!

Homily for Thanksgiving Day 2010

“And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth.” Today my brothers and sisters in Christ we gather together to give thanks to God for all the many gifts and blessings He has bestowed upon us. There is no greater place to be than here in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You and I have a lot to be thankful for! We are so blessed with family and friends, food, a roof over our heads and other necessities that allow us to live each day. To bring the Church into the twenty-first century we are blessed with our computers with applications such as Skype that allows us to communicate and see our relatives and friends who are scattered throughout the country and the world. Our Lord has also blessed us more importantly with spiritual gifts…the bible, the Most Holy Eucharist, and the Sacraments of Healing (Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation). This morning as you leave here today to spend it with family and friends together make a list of everything that you should be thankful.

All too often we are like the other nine lepers who were healed by Jesus and left with returning to give thanks. Everything that I mentioned just a moment ago has been given to us ultimately by God. Have we ever stopped to say thank you to the Lord for giving us all that we have? What happens often is that I think we take all that has been given to us for granted. We just expect God to nourish us in the Eucharist, we expect Him to give us comfort in the anointing of the sick and the sacrament of reconciliation. For many the faith is something that we have grown up with and take for granted. Who was the most appreciative of the Lord’s healing in today’s Gospel, it was a Samaritan. Listen again to Jesus’ words, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” That is why I believe many converts to the faith have more vigor than many of us cradle Catholics. They have been on a journey of faith and they grow in faith to believe and experience the Lord’s presence where most of us have just grown up with it.

Each day is a new day and we should treat it as such. May we strive to be that Samaritan who recognized the Lord’s healing power and returned to give thanks to God! Remember your assignment as you go home today with your family to take stock in all that you have in which we should be thankful for. Today as we as a nation celebrate thanksgiving let take the opportunity to give thanks to the Lord who has given us all these wonderful gifts. However, while we celebrate Thanksgiving Day once a year let us not forget that we have the opportunity to celebrate thanksgiving each and every single day with our Lord Jesus Christ!

Homily for Wednesday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time

The readings the last few days speak of the signs to come. As we prepare to wrap up this liturgical year may we take stock in all that has been given to us! Our Lord is truly a king for He was a king, who laid down His life for us.

In following His path we experience crosses that often come in the experience of persecution. So often we don’t find that persecution come from outsiders, we find that persecution from within. More and more family member challenges other family members when it comes living the faith. Even within the Church there is a faction between those who stand up for her principles and teachings and those who wish that she change and get with the time. Following Jesus comes with a price and that price is indeed the cross and it’s a price we should all be willing to pay because it leads us to our eternal reward. Can we accept them like our Lord accepted His cross for us?

Homily for Tuesday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time

Our responsorial psalm reminds us that the Lord will come to judge the earth. This is a fact, while you and I don’t know when that will be, He will return! That is why you and I need to live our faith every single day.

This morning we need to ask ourselves are we doing everything we can here and now to live our faith to fullest? Unfortunately, many people spending their time living their life to the fullest in worldly pleasures and ways, they don’t find their way back to the faith until the end is near. We mustn’t forget that many perhaps will never know when the Lord will call them home, that is why we must live our faith today. The more we live our faith now the happier we will be in His Kingdom.

Homily for Monday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time

While the Gospel for this morning may have been brief it contains a wealth of information about how we are give back to the Lord. How many of us have ever gone into our cupboards at home when we know there is a food drive coming up and give up what we know we are not going to use. Think about this, how many of us look at our bank accounts and say “oh look I have an extra two hundred dollars how about I give it to charity for a tax right off.” Every one of us does this from time to time.

All too often we are so tempted to give up things we readily don’t want or we give because there is some benefit to us. Jesus noticed this in today’s Gospel. As He stood back our Lord watched as the rich would give from the surplus of their wealth while this poor widow gave all that she had in those two coins. This morning as we leave here let us ask ourselves can we give of ourselves totally without thinking about the benefits to us. Our Gospel passage this morning makes us think, are we giving of ourselves totally to the Lord or are we holding back? May our prayer be this, Lord God we your people long to see your face, help us to give of ourselves completely so that we may experience everlasting happiness!

Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King 2010

This morning we celebrate with great joy the Solemnity of Christ the King. Our Lord Jesus Christ is no ordinary king. He doesn’t describe Himself as Lord of all or mighty prince of peace. So often He describes Himself as the Bread that come down from heaven or the Good Shepherd. What makes our Lord so special?

Jesus Christ is special not only because He is the Son of God, our Lord is special because of what He has done for each of us. The Gospel account is a familiar scene for all of us with our Lord hanging upon the cross. While He as God could have certainly saved Himself, He chose not to do that. Rather in the Gospel as we see He chose to save someone else. That is what makes our Lord so special. He did not live for Himself, but rather He lived for others. Some might try to argue that Jesus did nothing as He hung on the cross but that is not right. While He might not have saved anyone’s physical life, He did save someone’s spiritual life that day. Our Lord saved the life of the repentant thief. As everyone else was spending their time ridiculing Him while He hung up there in agony, that repentant thief got it. Looking over to the Lord He said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Then our Lord responded with love saying, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Thus, He did save the repentant thief; He granted Him forgiveness allowing Him to experience eternal glory.

We have the opportunity to experience the Kingship every single day. The past two weeks I have preached for Saint Ignatius’ and Saint Mark’s forty hour devotions. Last week at Saint Mark’s where the theme was one of the phrases our Lord used to describe Himself, “I am the Bread that has come down from heaven.” Jesus used the word “bread” to describe Himself because bread was a source of common food. Our Lord in using a common item of the day which gives us strength also demonstrates His humility. That is what makes Jesus Christ the King. That’s what makes our Lord a great king who should be followed. We should instinctively want to follow a God who would love us to the point of sacrificing His very life for us and continues to sacrifice His life for us over and over again.

Today as we sang “let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord,” on this solemnity of Christ the King may we rejoice in the Lord’s love for each of us by living our faith in the world! Our Lord has given us plenty of gifts, the Bread of Life the most Holy Eucharist; the vehicle in which we experience what the repentant thief experienced the love and mercy of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You and I have so much to share with others that so often we keep to ourselves. As Catholics we must do a better job with evangelization. While going door to door might not be the best option there are so many ways we can share our faith. Whenever we interact with one another is an opportunity for us to share our faith with others. Perhaps there might be guidelines imposed that prevent us from speaking about religion in public places that should not stop us from showing others who Jesus Christ is by our actions. At times while the internet is being betrayed as a negative we have an opportunity to evangelize online through blogs and websites. There will people who do might not want to hear the word of God and will do all within their power to discourage us but we cannot cower in fear, but rather we need to stand up and live our faith.

Yes…Jesus Christ is King! My we profess that faith boldly in a world that truly longs for a King whom we all can believe in!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Homily for Friday of the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (8:30AM School Liturgy)

Become stronger in your faith! That is our challenge today! It’s not always easy to stay strong in our faith because throughout life we are given some tough blows and when that happens it’s hard to get back up again. At your age perhaps a hard thing you may have experienced is a loss at a game. Many of you and I have something in common, both of our NFL football teams lost last week. I was a little disappointed but we get over it. Maybe you have experienced or know someone who is going through is really rough time at home because one or both parents might be out of work. Perhaps you know someone who is sick. Having been there myself how does one grow stronger in our faith.

First we need to ask ourselves, what does it mean to have faith? We can define faith as simply belief and trust in God as defined by the Webster Dictionary. That is indeed true. For our younger children present having faith comes easier for you because you need to place your trust in someone else each and every day. However, as we get older and the more we begin to know the harder it is to have faith because we are so preoccupied doing everything on our own. Remember this phrase, “pride leads to the fall.” The more we think we know the more are more we become isolated and alone!

Having faith is important and how we start to grow in our faith is by putting our faith and trust in someone else. For starters do it with your parents. Boys and girls trust that your parents are going to do what’s best for you. Put your faith in one another. Play and work together as a team. Build friendships with one another. Trust your teachers and in their guidance. When we can understand what it means to have faith than we can start growing in it.

Our responsorial psalm was “God is our help in times of trouble.” Indeed He is, and when we are faced with those difficulties that make us wonder if He is even there have faith that He is there. Things might get worst before that they even get better but by having faith we get through those rough patches. Look up there; see the image of the crucifix that is our God. He understands our crosses and you know what I would follow anyone who would do that for me. Yes that image might be difficult for some of us to look at, but I don’t see that image as depressing…let me tell you what I think of it…it’s a sign of victory.

This morning I leave you with this…boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen if you want to grow in your faith and if you want to experience life to its fullest, place your trust in God! Let go of the things you may want to do and let Jesus take the wheel. While we may experience bumps in the road, we will never experience anything better!

Memorial Mass for the Deceased Members of the Knights of Columbus

Tonight we gather here to remember our brother knights who have entered eternal life. As members of the Knights of Columbus we are charged with promoting a culture of life by standing up for those who do not have a voice. We are charged with praying for the strengthening of our families and for our priests and religious. Finally brothers we are called to support the Church. These charges do not end in death and tonight as we gather here to remember our brother nights that have entered eternal life we ask them for their help by interceding for us here on earth that we may be true to our mission.

The Knights of Columbus organization is a brotherhood and as brothers we are called to support one another. That bond of fraternal brotherhood does not end in death. Many good men have gone before us many of whom introduced us into this great organization. Tonight in appreciation for the work they have done on earth we continue to demonstrate that bond of fraternal brotherhood by remembering our deceased brothers in our prayers. Life is indeed changed not ended. Our brothers continue to live in our hearts and in our minds. Do not forget what these great men taught us about living our faith in Jesus Christ.

As we gather this evening to remember them in our prayers we ask that they help us fulfill our mission here on earth. In these days we are faced with many challenges. There is a greater need to support the Church and her mission. We must pray unceasingly for the pro-life movement that we may respect the dignity of all human life from the moment of conception till natural death. Also there is a need for us to pray for our families and to look for ways we can promote the importance of family especially in a society that is not overly promoting it. Finally my brothers we need to support our Church and pray evermore that more young men and woman would answer the call to the priesthood and religious life. We need young men to answer the call to the priesthood. Remember without the priesthood there would be no Eucharist. But we also need young women to answer the call to religious life. Their life of prayer and example modeling our Blessed Mother Mary leading us to Jesus Christ is vital and necessary. While the Church faces attacks against what she believes we have a great resource available to us in our brother knights we have gone before us. May we ask them for their help in helping us continue to stand up for these most sacred principles and teaching of Holy Mother Church!

Let us never forget these men have done for us as we pray, “eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light sign upon them. May they rest in peace! May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed in the mercy of God rest in peace, amen!”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Homily for the day of Eucharistic Adoration at St. Mark’s in Greencastle

Good afternoon everyone! I would like to begin my thanking your esteemed pastor Fr. Joseph Stahura for inviting me to be with you today to reflect in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord. How blest are we to have this opportunity!

For our theme this afternoon we use the very phrase Jesus used to describe Himself in the Gospel, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” Why did Jesus refer to Himself as bread and why did our Lord choose bread to be used at the last super? Have we ever stopped to think about those questions? What is it that bread signifies? Bread is a source of common food and food is something which gives us strength. In saying that He is the bread is saying to us gathered here that He is indeed our source of power and strength. There is something else to be said by his choice of using the word “bread.” Our Lord could have described Himself as the Lord Almighty or other terms to show His position as God; however He chose to describe Himself as bread which was a common source of food and in doing so illustrates His humility.

Our Lord continues to illustrate His humility to us each day when He makes Himself present on the altar in the Holy Eucharist. What you receive from the hands of us who are priest is not just any ordinary piece of bread, but it is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Eucharist is not to be received just like any ordinary piece of bread, for our Lord is to be received with care and reverence. One of the problems we face in today’s society is a loss of recognition of the real presence in the Eucharist. If Catholics truly understood what an awesome gift we have before us the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ this Church would be packed with members of this congregation spilling over into the streets. Our Holy Father recognizes this problem and that is why He invites those who receive from Him to do so in the traditional manner kneeling and on the tongue. In doing so, our Holy Father has signaled to the Church that this is still very much a valid way of distributing Holy Communion in the Roman Rite. There is something to be said about this practice. One it clearly illustrates our faith and trust in God. It is an external recognition on our part of the real presence of Christ. Receiving Communion on the tongue symbolizes our trust in the Lord much like an infant trusts his or her parents to feed and nourish them.

We are a Church that uses externals to convey what we believe. Our Lord is placed in an eloquent monstrance to convey the mystery that it is in the Lord’s humility that He is glorified. The Church has always believed and taught the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Than how did this crisis of faith develop? The crisis of faith developed when we lost the external action. After the Second Vatican Council many were told that they needed to stand rather than being the option to kneel. Also the faithful were encouraged strongly to receive Holy Communion in the hand, which by the way is not the norm of the Roman Rite. Receiving Communion in the hand is a permission that has been granted by indult here in the United States but is not the Norm. Please do not think that I am criticizing those who receive in the hand, this afternoon I want to address some of the problems that have developed with its introduction. While the intention of the introduction of Communion in the hand was meant to increase the devotion and faith of the faithful and afford us an opportunity to grow stronger in our relationship with the Lord unfortunately throughout the world the opposite has occurred. With reception of communion in the hand our Lord has been made more easily accessible to those who wish to mock the real presence of Christ. This afternoon while I am not telling those who receive in the hand to switch I invite you to consider the Church’s norm and perhaps adopt it and take it as an opportunity to grow in the virtues of faith and trust. As a society we have been focused too much on ourselves and what we can do and we need to challenge ourselves to let go and place our trust in someone else.

External actions are important. As we mentioned the elaborate monstrance, we must add the other sacred vessels and vestments to that list. Also we consider our postures as important. At the name of Jesus and Mary we bow our head. In the Creed we profess each weekend we make a profound bow at the words, “by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” In bowing we are recognizing the mystery of the incarnation. It was the power of that same Spirit that changes the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. While many criticize the Holy Father for some of His reintroductions into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by saying He is out of touch we reality and that what He is reintroducing is not what we are doing here and now we cannot deny externals are important and necessary because our external actions convey an interior reality. It is an outward sign of what we believe and profess. If everyone truly believed what they were receiving is the true Body of Christ there would be no question whether we kneel or stand because we would instinctively fall to our knees in adoration in the presence of our glorified Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist.  (Additional commentary:  If we were to return to the venerable tradition of receiving Holy Communion in this manner those who are unable to kneel because of a physical limitation should not be made to feel that they are doing something wrong by not kneeling.  Ultimately the Lord knows our hearts and our intentions).  

Today we have a challenge my brothers and sisters and that challenge is to recapture what we have lost. This afternoon I am not interested in giving you a theological dissertation and I don’t want to make you necessarily think, what I want to do this evening is move your hearts. We already know in our minds what's on the altar is the Body of Christ, but is what we know moving our hearts. I want to help you grow in holiness and provide you an opportunity to grow ever stronger in your relationship with Christ. Indeed it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that our Lord makes Himself available to us. Now some may ask well in Sacred Scripture it says to take and eat. You and I are fed every time we receive our Eucharistic Lord whether we receive in the hand or directly on the tongue. Yes our Lord gives us a command to take His Body but that doesn’t necessarily mean a physical reception, a deeper understanding of that meaning is that we take our Lord Jesus Christ with us into the world.

St. Paul writes in His letter to the Ephesians, “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace which was given me by the working of His power.” My brothers and sisters God gives us His grace in this Sacrament. He fills us with Himself and expects us to use that gift in proclaiming His love to the world. As Catholics we need to do a better God with evangelization. We have the gifts available to us but you and I need to learn how to better utilize them! This gift that we have is not something that is meant to be kept to ourselves it’s a gift that is meant to be shared with everyone.

Today we must take this opportunity placed before us as we kneel and pray before Eucharistic Adoration to ask Him for the strength to let go our own wants and desires to focus solely on Him and Him alone. As we learn to let go of our own wants and desires inviting Him to take control of our lives we will find the ability to reach our fullest potential as His disciples. The more we hold onto our own wants and desires, the less effective we become. Indeed this is the Bread that has come down from heaven! As we are fed spiritually may we take that gift and share it with those we meet today!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Corpus Christi Young Adult Ministry Kick Off…

The Corpus Christi Young Adult Ministry will be having their “Official Kick Off” this Friday evening November 19th at 7:00PM in the Parish Center.  Young Adults ranging from the age 18 and over are welcome to attend this exciting event as we prepare to look for ways to grow in the faith and also have some fun in the process. 

Please tune in for further information pertaining to upcoming events.