Sunday, January 31, 2010

Images of Father Carroll from Chambersburg's ICE FEST 2010

(While I do like to wear my leather jacket (except for today as you can see) this is the only verison of a motorcycle you will catch me on)
(Showing off my youth coming down the ice slide)

(Me sitting on the ice throne in downtown Chambersburg

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Video)

Video of today's homily for the beginning of Catholic School's Week can be found at...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Homily for the Beginning of Catholic School's Week

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” The last line “a prophet to the nations I appointed you,” is a perfect line to begin Catholic School’s Week. A question many people ask is what is a Catholic School? Often times we think of a Catholic School as the building right next to us. However when we refer to Catholic School’s we should include not only our parochial schools, but also our Catholic Universities, and Parish Religious Education Programs. All these make up our Catholic Schools.
When Pope Benedict was in our country speaking to Catholic Educators in Washington D.C he said, “Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First a foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who is Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth.” If we stop to think about it the Church herself is the greatest Catholic educational institution. While the primary purpose for coming to Mass every Sunday is to give thanks and worship God, at the same time we must recognize that we learn more and when we do we grow closer to God.
While I am a product of our Catholic Parochial School system as a priest I recognize the importance of every structure of our Catholic Education System. We have a lot to be thankful for in the Church in regards to our schools of faith. It is our responsibility to maintain that wonderful system. However, all involved with Catholic Education are to be reminded that our schools are not considered schools with Church’s attached, rather they are schools attached to Churches. All Catholic Schools, whether it is one of our grade schools, High Schools, College and Universities, Religious Education programs which range from continued Adult Education, CCD programs and RCIA must be faithful and obedient to the teachings of Holy Mother Church. When our schools fail to recognize the authority of Christ and His Church they lose their Catholic Identity.
Also back in 2008 when the Holy Father was here he clearly stressed his support for Catholic Education. Once again speaking to the Catholic Educators he said, “Their long-term sustainability must be assured.” Catholic Education according to the Holy Father is vital to the life of the Church. He continues, “Indeed, everything possible must be done, in cooperation with the wider community, to ensure that they are accessible to people of all social economic strata. No child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation.” Speaking more along the lines of our parochial schools and Catholic universities our schools cannot be allowed to be seen as another private institution. They must be seen as beacons of light calling people to a greater knowledge and love of God. There should always be help available to assist those parents who want to provide for their children a Catholic Education. Our Spiritual Shepherd was clear the mission of all Catholic Schools is not to make money but rather to give all children an education of a lifetime by instilling in them the good Christian values that will help enrich a culture. All Catholics Schools are to strive to educate young people in the virtues of faith, hope, and love that St. Paul speaks about in his letter today to the people of Corinth.
Once again we are blessed with a wonderful educational system in the Church and we are encouraged to continue that mission of education that in this country was formed by Saints Elizabeth Seton, John Neumann, and Katherine Drexel. Because I like to leave the best for last, up to this point I have left out the most important school of faith the greatest of all our Catholic Schools, the family. It is primary duty of the family to provide for the religious education of their children. As we celebrate Catholic School’s Week everyone in the parish has a reason to celebrate. Everyone gathered here shares in the apostolic mission of Christian Education. Each one of us is called to be “a prophet to the nations.” Today we must reflect on that call we have received.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Homily for Friday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time

This morning the Lord likens the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed, one of the smallest seeds around. Why refer to the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. As the Lord said himself in the Gospel, “once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” In reality the Kingdom of God isn’t really that small, because it has grown over the years.
Our faith grows every time we water the seed that is planted within all of us. Through prayer and study of the faith as we are encouraged yesterday by following the example of Saint Thomas we grow in our knowledge and love for the Lord. After prayer and study comes service. You and I bear the awesome responsibility to proclaim the Gospel. We need to pray for the grace to proclaim the Gospel not only through our words but also by the way we live our lives. Today may we strive to nurture and water that tiny seed so it may grow even bigger.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Homily for Thursday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time the Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas

As we gather this morning in the presence of the Lord we honor one of the great doctors of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas. Today’s saint did a lot to advance the academic growth in the Church. There are many writings attributed to Saint Thomas, one of his most famous is the Summa Theologia.
One of his major contributions is that he helped others grow closer to God through knowledge. Often referred to as the patron Saint of Scholastics, he demonstrated the importance of study of the faith. Yet despite all his works, he never lost sight of Christ. All his work was directed to the Lord and never to himself. Saint Thomas himself would have reiterated the words of the Lord in today’s Gospel “Do not be called Rabbi. You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.” Looking at the life of this great Saint and all his works there is no doubt that everything he did was directed towards God. In fact, as Saint Thomas was nearly the end of his life, he was quoted as saying “my words are straw.”
Today as we approach the altar of the Lord, let’s reflect on the words of the responsorial psalm, “Lord, teach me your statutes,” and as we reflect on those beautiful simple words let them fill our hearts so we may go out and study to grow closer in our faith, closer to God.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Homily for Wednesday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time

“Forever I will maintain my love for my servant.” Our responsorial psalm reminds us that the Lord is always with us and will always remain with us. In the Second Book of Samuel in reference to David, the Lord said, “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.” You and I have that same relationship with the Lord. He desires to be with us every step of the way.
Even if we fail the Lord is still with us. He never abandons us. While we may at times reject Him he never rejects us. Like a parent never rejects their child even when they need to be corrected the loving Father never rejects us. Every once and awhile we need to be reminded of that. No matter what we do the Lord will always love us. As the Lord maintains His love for us each and every single day may we strive to maintain our love for the Lord!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Homily for Tuesday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time

Who are my mother and my brothers? That’s a good question from the Lord posed to the crowd. It’s one that should make us think. If I were asked the question my immediate response would be, my parents are Keith and Doris Carroll, my sister is Anne and my brother is Kevin. As the Lord responds to the crowds He wants us to look at that question a little deeper.
“Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brothers and sister and mother.” All of us are related, not by blood but related to one another by our common faith. We can also add, that our brothers and sisters are all those created in the image and likeness of God. It doesn’t matter whether they are a non-believer or someone who lives a life contrary to the teachings of the Church they are our brothers and sisters and should be treated as such. You and I at times are quick to write off these individuals, yet as we heard from yesterday’s reading from the Acts of the Apostle’s on the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, God calls all to conversion. It is our responsibility to reach out to them.
This is the Lord’s message to us today; we are all brothers and sisters. May we glorify the Lord the King of Glory by reaching out to everyone inviting them to do the will of God.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Homily for Monday January 25th the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

We listened this morning to the account of the conversion of St. Paul as told to us through the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. It is one of my favorite accounts in the Sacred Scripture. As we listened to it this morning what we heard is God calling a sinner to conversion. Saul was no ordinary sinner, he sought out to destroy Christianity and persecute the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet it was this man whom God called to be His disciple.
Another character that stands out is the high priest Ananias. If we are honest with ourselves there is a bit of Ananias’ characteristics in all of us. When told who he was to go and see he responded, “Lord I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your Holy Ones in Jerusalem.” Without skipping a beat the Lord responded, “Go for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name to the Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” So it happened, the greatest conversion story of all time. Saul’s name was changed to Paul to signify a change of life, and the beginning of a new vocation.
As we take the time to reflect this morning there are times we are like Paul before his conversion. We are all sinners, yet the Lord calls us each and every day to conversion. Sometimes we doubt God’s ability to call and work through sinners like Ananias did in the account from Acts. Yet today we are called to be faithful followers of the Lord and to model his love and concern for all people and to reach out to those who do not know God. This morning our challenge is given to us by Lord as He said to His disciples in the Gospel, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to every living creature.”

Friday, January 15, 2010

Homily for Friday of the First Week of Ordinary Time...School Mass

A few weeks back we had the homily of the parable of the sower. This week our Gospel account is that of the parable of the fig tree. Question for you...boys and girls how many of you are involved in Sports? What do you need to do in order to do better in the sport you play? Answer Practice.

Well today the readings focus on growing in our faith. Now how do you think we grow in our faith? Answer: By practicing it. Yes, you and I grow in the faith when we practice it. That is why it is important for us to go to Church every Sunday. Everytime we come to Church we grow in our relationship with God. Now let's be honest many of you aren't able to come to Church on Sunday and it's not because you don't want to, it's because you rely on your parents to take you.

I cannot help but tell you how important it is for you to come to Church and give thanks to God for all the many wonderful gifts He has blessed you with. It is so important. If we stop to think about it one hour a week isn't bad for a God who would love us so much that He became one like us. Boys and Girls, Jesus was like you. He was a kid too and had to learn to grow. If you have younger brothers and sisters you probably had the opportunity to watch as they learned to talk and walk. Then later He gave the most ultimate gift to us the gift of His life. God deserves an hour out of our week.

Boys and Girls I would encourage you all if you are not coming to Church on a regular basis to ask your parents each Sunday to bring you to Church. Going to Church is that important. I know as kids because I was there once that we beg our parents for that game or toy we want. Instead of begging for that game beg for opportunity to give thanks and worship God. It's important to give thanks to God for all the gifts He has given us. By spending time in prayer and going to Mass each Sunday you will grow stronger in your knowledge of God and your faith.

Homily for Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

“If you wish, you can make me clean.” The Leper’s words this morning models for us true faith in the Lord. As I mentioned earlier in the week the Lord has the power to do all things and when we pray to Him we must recognize that. He never abandons us and is there to help us. However, how He helps us is up to Him. He has blessed some with a share in His passion and in those moments He is right there with the individual standing alongside them for support.
Yes He can heal physically, but in most cases he chooses not to because He wants to give us time to heal spiritually. The Lord is merciful and gives us the time needed for us to redeem ourselves. May we today try to model the faith of the Leper and reflect closely on His words!

Homily for Wednesday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

“Speak; Lord for your servant is listening.” These few words taken from the first book of Samuel this morning is enough to give us food for thought. You and I are probably good when comes time to talking to the Lord, however when it comes time to listening now that’s another story. Many people including at times myself fail to let the Lord talk to us. Usually what happens is that we become so preoccupied trying to accomplish this and that we become distracted.
How do we focus in our prayer life? First we need to be determined. We to have determination in our prayer life making sure we set a few moments aside for prayer. Secondly, we need to be persistent! You and I have so much going on in our lives that it is easy for us to become distracted. That is why we cannot lose hope and keep being persistent. Yes there will be times it won’t be easy but our Lord appreciates our faithfulness. “Here I am Lord; I come to do your will.” May we take those words to heart!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Homily for Tuesday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

“My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.” Today we reflect on the greatness of God. Our Lord is so great He does wonderful things for us each and every day. As we listened to the readings this morning, we hear how the Lord remembered Hannah, allowing her to give birth to Samuel. Then in the Gospel the Lord drove out demons.
Today the Lord has blessed us with many wonderful gifts and is still at work in the world. He has the power to do all things. Many of us also suffer with particular heartaches and pains. The Lord has the power to heal those things. All we have to do is place our complete and total trust in Him. How He heals us is up to Him. He may choose to heal us physically or he may choose to heal us spiritually allowing us to accept the crosses He has given us. While he might not take away those burdensome crosses He does elevate them and helps us carry them through the journey of life. May we today be open to God’s plan for us and embrace the things He has given us.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Homily for Monday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

“To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.” How do we offer the Lord a sacrifice of praise? One of the greatest ways you and I offer our Lord a sacrifice of praise is when we turn away from worldly enticements and place our trust in Him.
In today’s Liturgy our Lord invites us to repent and believe in the Gospel. So many times we have our own agendas and plans that are not the Lord’s. When faced with a difficult situation we turn away from God rather than running towards Him. While we might not always understand what He has in store for us we must trust in His plan. As our Lord said to Simon and Andrew, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men,” may we pray for the grace to accept the Lord’s invitation to place our trust in Him!

Homily for the Baptism of Our Lord

On this day we gather together to commemorate the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ in the waters of the Jordon. As we listened to the first reading and the Gospel we hear very similar words, “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased” and “you are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” This morning’s readings direct us to the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
A question often asked is if Jesus Christ was the Son of God, why did He have to be baptized? It was important for our Lord to be baptized by John for several reasons. One reason which was already alluded to is that at the moment of Lord’s baptism He was revealed by God to be His Son. If we stop to think about it when we are baptized there is a revelation. We become children of God, His sons and daughters. Thus, as the Father revealed in the Jordon that Jesus was His beloved Son, He also reveals at our baptisms that we to are His special children.
Another reason for Jesus being baptized is that He Himself demonstrates the importance of baptism. Jesus didn’t have to be baptized by John. Of course, He needed to in order for the Heavenly Father’s plan to be fully revealed. Jesus was baptized at the very beginning of His public ministry. Likewise we began our journey of faith when we were baptized. As Jesus demonstrated to us baptism is the beginning of our journey of faith on this earth. When we are baptized original sin is wiped away and we become a new creation in Christ. Our Lord enters and dwells in our hearts.
Finally it was important for Jesus to be baptized in the water in order to bless the water. When Jesus stepped into the water it was His intention to bless and sanctify all the waters in the world. That is why for a valid baptism Holy Water is not needed. If I have to baptize a child in the hospital it can be done from water right out of the tap. Water is a very important symbol of our faith. In baptism it washes us away from original sin, when we wash our hands underneath the faucet it removes many of those bad germs. Water symbolizes cleanliness, death, and life. All water having been created by God was blessed when Jesus set foot into the Jordon to be baptized by John.
My dear brothers and sisters as we contemplate our Lord’s baptism today may we take a moment to reflect on our own baptism. Do we reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God’s Children? Do we reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin? Do we reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness? As we profess our faith in a few moments do we truly believe what we profess? As we continue to contemplate our own baptism today may we strive to fulfill our earthly mission given to us by our Heavenly Father!

Homily for Thursday after the Epiphany

“Today the Scripture passage has been fulfilled in your hearing.” While the Lord spoke these words in the temple back when He walked the earth they still ring true today. For our Lord continues to appear to us and fulfills the promise made in the prophet Isaiah. He comes to us in the ordinary events of everyday life.
“Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” Each one us created in the image and likeness of God are also instruments of God’s message of salvation that keeps those words spoken by the Lord present today. Not only conveyed through the Church, the Sacraments, and the Sacred Scripture. You and I are called by God to bring glad tidings to the poor and to build and raise each other up. As we ponder the words from the Sacred Scripture may we pray for one another and the grace to continue loving one another as Children of God!

Homily for Tuesday after the Epiphany...the Memorial of Saint John Neumann

Our responsorial psalm this morning was “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” How do we show adoration to our Lord? The best way we can demonstrate our love for the Lord is by loving one another as was stated in the first letter of St. John.
Today’s saint, Saint John Neumann is a perfect model of someone who modeled his love for the Lord by loving another. As the Bishop of Philadelphia, He modeled a shepherd’s heart by caring for his flock. For Saint John Neumann it was not unusual for Him to travel His diocese on a regular basis. He would often travel by horse or walk. Another thing St. John Neumann is accredited with is introducing to this area the forty hours devotion. He was a simple man who would often pray, “God give me holiness.”
As we continue with this Sacred Liturgy let us ask God for the grace to love one another. He knows it is tough some days, however if we ask Him, He will give us the strength we need to overcome our own weaknesses to allow us to love one another more fully.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Homily for the Monday after the Epiphany and the Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

This morning we hear in the first reading from the Letter of John, “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.” It’s interesting that this reading was chosen the day after we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord. One of the things that the feast of the Epiphany encourages all of us to do is to look for the presence of the Lord in our lives.
However in the first reading we are encouraged to be vigilant and careful. There are so many false prophets in today’s world. These false prophets don’t necessarily have to take the form of individuals. They can take the form of places and things. What do we place our hope in? A true prophet in today’s world is one who points not to himself or a particular place or thing but one who directs us to God and Him alone. That is a true prophet.
We are so blessed to honor one of our own native born Saints today in Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Her work to educate the poor and establish the parochial school system which we are blessed to have today has made a profound impact in the spread of the faith in our country. Despite her own personal struggles Saint Elizabeth Ann Set never gave up hope and directed her thoughts and prayers to the Lord. She always placed her trust in Him.
May we strive today to continue looking for ways the Lord manifests Himself in the world today and in our lives.

Homily for the Epiphany of the Lord

This morning/afternoon we gather together as a parish family to celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. The word “Epiphany” means “manifestation, or “to be made known.” So today our meditation focuses on how the Lord makes Himself known to us.
In the opening verse for the first reading from the prophet Isaiah it says, “Rise up in Splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.” Every time we gather to celebrate these Sacred Mysteries the glory of the Lord shines upon all of us. God is forever present amongst us. There are times when we can tend to forget that from time to time. Look around each one of us is created in the image and likeness of God. So many times when we look at others we are so quick to see their faults and weaknesses and not the Lord present within them. The light of Christ is within all of us and was instilled in us at our baptisms.
Unfortunately, what happens so many times we allow our own faults and weaknesses to overshadow the light of Christ that dwells within us. You and I spend a lot of our time looking for an external light like the bright star referred to in the Gospel that we fail to see the internal light that dwells and burns within our hearts and souls. The question we should be asking ourselves this day is how one overcomes these obstacles that prevent the light of Christ from shining forth.
There are really two ways, the first way is by taking advantage of the gift of the Sacraments in particular the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Most Holy Eucharist. In these two Sacraments we receive God’s grace in a special way. You and I receive His love and mercy and the encouragement we need to overcome our sinfulness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Then when we receive the Holy Eucharist the Lord gives His very self to carry with us into the world.
Now I mentioned there is a second way, and this is a way at first is difficult for us to understand and it is actually opposite of the first and that is an absence from the Sacraments. There is an old saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” By this statement I am not encouraging people to stop going to the Sacraments. However, there is some wisdom to what was said. What happens when we take a certain medication over and over again on a regular basis? Our bodies begin to adapt. The medication becomes less effective. Unlike medication however the Sacraments in themselves never lose their effectiveness, but for them to be truly effective in our lives we need to make sure our hearts are prepared to allow them to be effective. For example when one finds themselves not in agreement with our Lord’s teachings which He expresses through His Church one ought not to receive Holy Communion. Because when we receive communion not only are we saying Lord Jesus I believe you are truly present but I also affirm and believe everything you teach as true. Therefore, because the door of the individual’s hearts is closed to the will of God the Sacrament cannot be truly effective.
In regards to the absence of the sacraments whether it be voluntary or involuntary one should not look at it as a punishment but rather as something that is truly medicinal. Absence does make the heart grow stronger and allows an individual the opportunity to grow in knowledge and in strength allowing them time to appreciate the gift they are about to receive. It allows them time to prepare their hearts to purge those things from their lives that prevent the Lord’s divine light from shining through. There are some who even decide not to practice the faith for a period of time and in those cases the worse thing we can do is force it upon them. Some people need that time away and when they return their faith is much stronger than it was before.
The Lord encourages us today to prepare our hearts. On this feast of the Epiphany of the Lord we must look for the manifested Lord in our lives. My dear brothers and sisters, we don’t have to look very far.