Monday, August 30, 2010

…and after preaching on humility

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I am happy to report that the Corpus Christi Family Picnic was a great success!  With over six hundred people in attendance and perfect weather it was a great day.  There was plenty of food and games for everyone to enjoy.  As one can see everyone had the opportunity to teach this priest some more humility by sending me into the tank.   However, I must admit with temperatures in the 90’s, I think that I got the better deal!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Homily for the Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

“God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.” The readings for this particular Sunday focus on the subject of humility. It’s a word in today’s society we need to hear more often. The word humble means, according to the Webster dictionary, “not proud or haughty, not arrogant or assertive.” It also means, “Reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission.”

Too many individual’s, live their lives like it is a competition. There is a tendency in us to always want to outdo one another. In some cases we even try to outdo each other in generosity. Is this the way we are called to live? Our Lord Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” How do we learn humility? There is only one way, and that is from the Master Himself. Our human tendency is to try to handle everything on our own and when faced with the prospect of others trying to help us we become agitated and embarrassed. There is nothing wrong asking for help, in fact in ways it can save our lives.

Life is not a competition! We are not trying to outdo one another but rather called to help one another along in this race of life to get across the finish line, to the true Heavenly Kingdom. We can learn something from Disney’s animated Pixar Film “Cars,” about a young Hot Shot car named Lighting McQueen. This car was driven to succeed. Without giving away the ending of the movie, although many may have seen it, throughout the movie we see a change. It becomes less about the finish the line. My brothers and sisters in Christ, we aren’t in a race but rather together on a journey, a journey through life.

As we leave here today the Lord issues each of us a challenge. Look for those who are struggling in the journey of faith. Stop and look back and offer to pick them up and help them to cross over that line, where are loving Lord awaits each of us!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Homily for Friday of the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time the Memorial of Saint Monica

“We proclaim Christ crucified a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Together my brothers and sisters we proclaim Christ crucified. We do so, when we embrace with the Lord and join our sufferings with His.

This morning we commemorate the memorial of Saint Monica. She had a difficult life keeping an eye on her rebellious son. We mentioned his name in the opening prayer of today’s liturgy and he’s the Saint whom we honor tomorrow, Saint Augustine of Hippo. He lived a life of pleasure and promiscuity and in fact even bore a son. However, with the persistence of his mother who prayed unceasingly for her son’s conversion. Not only did her son convert to Christianity but he became a priest, bishop and is considered a doctor of the Church. Saint Monica demonstrates to each us what good things can happen for those who are persistent and are willing to wait. Our goal to day is to strive to model Saint Monica’s example of persistence in the midst of our trials of everyday life. In doing so by keeping our eyes and hearts focused on the Lord we will find as Monica did, that good things can happen, all we have to do is patiently wait for it.

 

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Monica, model of mothers, please pray for us!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reflection for Thursday of the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time

“Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” The Lord’s very first words to His disciples should really awaken us today! How many of us really reflect on the Lord’s Second Coming each and every day? Do we take our days for granted? It is true; we do not know the day or the hour when the Lord will return in glory. That is why we must stay alert!

One thing we must constantly remind ourselves is that conversion is a daily process. Because we are human we fall often. Just because we fall however, doesn’t mean we lose hope. It is important for us each evening to take a few moments not only to give thanks to God for the many gifts and blessings bestowed upon us but also to seek forgiveness asking Him also for the grace to overcome our weaknesses. The time is now, may we not fall into the temptation of standing idle while we should be staying alert.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homily for Wednesday of the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time

“If anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.” Listening to Saint Paul’s letter to the people of Thessalonica this morning, he is offering them instruction about following the Lord. Saint Paul reminds us of some of the difficult challenges that may arise as we live a life of faith. He said, “In toil and drudgery, night and day we worked.” Following the Lord many times is hard work. Not that it’s always physically demanding but rather spiritually demanding.

For you and me to grow in our faith we really need to work at it. It is unfortunate that some of the societal affects have really crept into our lives. How many of us expect something without doing anything to get it? There are many in our society who want the world, however don’t want to do any work to earn it. Today as we reflect on the Lord’s message may we ask ourselves, are we making every effort to grow in our faith or are we falling short? Working hard is good for the soul! As we approach our Lord today and receive Him into our hearts let’s ask Him for the spiritual strength we need to be His faithful disciples!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Homily for the Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

“The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.” Today the Church commemorates the feast of Saint Bartholomew one of the twelve apostles. In this last line we are reminded of the Churches foundation. Our Lord entrusted the Church into the hands of the Apostles.

Structure is important. This past weekend we spoke about disciple at the Sunday Liturgy in which I celebrated. Discipline is something that is lacking in society and because it is lacking in many places the structure is almost nonexistent. Those who have been blessed to be called to parenthood whether physically or spiritually have sheep entrusted to their care. In the Church we have shepherds who have been entrusted to lead and guide us in the direction of the Lord. Every time we gather here we entrust ourselves to the true shepherd. As we prepare to receive our living and true God may we ask Him for the grace to follow the shepherds He has placed here to lead us so we may in turn go forth to be the good shepherds we ourselves have been called to be!

 

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(Saint Bartholomew, pray for us)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Homily for Monday of the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time…the Memorial of St. Rose of Lima

“We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith, that the name of our Lord may be glorified in you and you in him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.” In this line taken from St. Paul’s letter to the people of Thessalonica, Paul is offering them a little bit of encouragement. It’s important for us to hear words of encouragement every so often. We need those words to keep pushing us forward allowing us to fulfill the mission we were called to complete.

What is that mission each of us is called? It can be really summed up in today’s responsorial psalm, “proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.” Today may we strive to fulfill that mission by guiding our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord’s direction!

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(St. Rose of Lima, pray for us!)

Side Note:

Today the Church remembers the life of St. Rose of Lima.  This memorial has a special place in my heart because I grew up all my life in St. Rose of Lima Parish in York Pa.  In 1969 with the reform of the Roman Calendar of Saints it was decided that her memorial would be the 23rd of August.  As my brother priest, Father Ignacio Palomino pointed out in Peru where he is from she is honored on the 30th of August.  To my brothers and sisters in St. Rose Parish I wish you all a happy feast day.

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(The main altar of my home parish with the mosaic of St. Rose of Lima depicted behind the Main Altar.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Homily for the Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Discipline! What a word to begin a homily with! You and I live in a society that fears this word and what it means. The Webster dictionary defines discipline as “a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity.” Why do we struggle with the topic of discipline? One reason is because many in our society confuse discipline with abuse. Secondly because many of us can’t stand being told we are doing something wrong.

Today in the Second Reading taken from the letter to the Hebrews we heard, “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by Him; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines.” One thing is lacking in society and that is discipline. Look at our society, why are so many of our young people getting mixed up in things that are harmful for them? The answer is because in many cases they lack discipline. Yes abuse may be part of it, however in so many cases it’s because they lack direction. Too many parents are inclined more to be their children’s best friend rather than being the person who helps directs them to the right path. As Jesus said, “God treats you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline.” Parents who let their children get what they want and strive to be their best friends rather than their parent, are allowing their children to become lost.

Not only is it difficult for parents but it is also difficult for our schools and other institutions. One thing we must make clear discipline is not abuse. Homes and schools must have clear guidelines for what happens when rules are broken and follow them. We are doing our young people a disservice if we allow them to do what they want without consequence to their actions. There is the famous line “you do the crime, you do the time!” Of course all discipline must be in accord with the law of God. True love is expressed when we understand the importance of our vocations. It is unfortunate that in many places throughout our nation that there is a breakdown between lose who are in authority with those under their care. In too many cases we have children referring to their parents and teachers by their first names. This clouds the parent/child, teacher/student relationship. Soon as this relationship becomes blurred than the breakdown begins.

If you take anything with you this morning/evening remember this line, “for whom the Lord loves He disciplines!” My brothers and sisters if we are going to change our society for the better than it must begin with modeling the Lord’s example of love. Follow Him and follow the guidelines He sets before us and we won’t fail!

Saint Pius X…the pope of the Eucharist

Pope Pius X did a lot for the Church. One of the things he is most noted for is encouraging frequent communion and allowing children around the age of reason to receive Communion. His Holiness did this because he saw the importance of regular reception of Holy Communion and the grace received by it. With the introduction of frequent communion Pius X encouraged everyone to make use the Sacrament of Reconciliation so one could always strive to receive communion worthily. He also spoke out clearly against the heresy of modernism. Many good things happened during his pontificate!

This weekend as we prepare to receive our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament may we be mindful of this great saint who made it possible. Saint Pius X, pray for us!

 

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Reflection…

This week, my brother priests, religious, and the lay faithful of the diocese gathered in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for the installation of our new shepherd Bishop Joseph McFadden. In his homily Bishop McFadden reminded everyone on the centrality of the Eucharist in one’s faith. Quoting directly from his homily bishop said, “I believe one of the challenges I face as Bishop in the Church today is the diminished appreciation of Catholics for the importance of the Sunday Eucharist in their lives.”

In recent years, attendance at Sunday Mass has dropped. Many of our brothers and sisters of other Christian denominations have seen the same trend. Why??? We live in a noisy world, with so many worldly distractions. For us as Catholics however, one can attribute a drop in attendance to a loss of appreciation of the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist. Again quoting from my Bishop’s homily, “Saint John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, often remarked to his people in Ars that if we truly understood the Eucharist and the great gift God was offering us we would not only seek it once a week but would long for it constantly.” It is unfortunate that many of us take this awesome gift for granted. However, what is more unfortunate is that we ourselves have allowed it to happen.

As a priest I make it no secret that I believe it would be more beneficial to adopt Pope Benedict’s example and invite the faithful to receive communion on the tongue while kneeling for those who are physically able. I say this not as a “conservative” nor as a “liberal” but as someone who desires to help others fall in love with Jesus Christ. One of the things we lost as Catholics is this sense of wonder and awe in the way we worship. In striving to make everything more accessible, we have lost the sense of mystery. Those who argue for communion in the hand, say that it allows them to get to know the Lord more personally. However, there is something to be said about being too familiar with someone. Today children refer to their teachers and in some cases even their parents by their first name. This is very problematic because it leads to the ultimate breakdown of society through a lack of respect for those in authority. Yes, while Jesus said to His disciple, “I no longer call you servants, but friends,” one can never forget that Jesus Christ is truly God the Word made flesh. Not only is He our friend but He is more importantly our Lord and God. While the reception of Holy Communion is an external action it expresses an internal reality. Kneeling expresses reverence while receiving communion on the tongue expresses our humility and trust. By receiving in this manner we allow the Lord Himself to nourish us much like an infant trusts his or her parents to feed and nourish them. Speaking as a priest, while I am privileged to be able to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I consider it not a right and often consider myself unworthy to offer the Sacrifice, however God Himself provides.

How do we encourage people to come to Church each Sunday? The answer is we invite and we teach. In essence we need to live our faith. We cannot be living our faith just on Sunday but rather each and every day of our lives. As a priest I can only do so much, however if each person left Church each week and invited a friend to come with them who has been away from the Church the next Sunday think of our parish family could grow. Think of what we can accomplish! One of things we must do is help people once again grow in love with Jesus Christ. We need to show them the way by guiding them in the right direction. If we can help others grow in love with Jesus Christ and help them to appreciate the Sacred Mysteries we celebrate and the awesome gift we have the opportunity to receive each day, how the Church would grow.

Another thing my Bishop addressed in his homily was the importance and value of all human life. All life is sacred from the very moment of conception till natural death. It is extremely unfortunate that many people see life as burdensome rather than the gift it truly is! As Catholics we must hold firm to these principles set forth by God Himself! God is the author of all human life. While the temptation is there, to conform our lives to the world, we mustn’t! Abortion and Euthanasia is murder the killing of an innocent human life. Contraception is dangerous because it allows us to play God and determine when life begins. We are not God. You and I must not get in the way and allow Him to do His work in the world.

Today we must listen to the words of Jesus Christ to “be not afraid.” We mustn’t be afraid to proclaim the truth in a world that strives to silence it. While we will face opposition and rejection we must keep focused on the goal salvation of others and our eternal salvation. In everything we do and say we must always remember that it isn’t about us but rather all about Him, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It’s Official…New Translation of the Roman Missal to take effect First Sunday of Advent 2011

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Earlier today it was announced that the New Translation of the Roman Missal will take effect on November 27th 2011 the First Sunday of Advent.  This will give us ample time to learn and mediate on the importance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Yes the new translation will take some time to get used to, however we have been given plenty of time to prepare ourselves for the change.  May our preparation for the new translation help us to grow in love with the mysteries we celebrate day after day, week after week!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bishop Joseph McFadden to be installed the 10th Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese this afternoon!

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At 2:00PM this afternoon Bishop Joseph McFadden will be officially installed as the 10th Bishop of Harrisburg.  The installation Mass will be covered live on EWTN and also on the PCN network.  Please pray for Bishop McFadden as he becomes our new shepherd!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Homily for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.” Today we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day in which she was given the honor of being taken up bodily into heaven. Mary’s assumption into heaven is a pre-figuration of what is to come, when at the appointed hour when the Lord returns in glory when our bodies are taken up.

Why did our heavenly Father honor her in this way? For that answer we turn to today’s Gospel which reflects on the account of the Visitation where Mary traveled to see her cousin Elizabeth. Mary is honored because she was humble enough to say “yes.” Her humility is also demonstrated in the fact that she cared so much for her cousin that she went out to meet her to spend about three months assisting Elizabeth with her needs. Our Blessed Mother shows us what good things can happen when we say “yes” to the Lord.

Today we must make Mary’s song of praise our own. “My soul proclaims the greatest of the Lord.” May we strive hard to proclaim God’s goodness to all we encounter every day! “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked upon his lowly servant.” Are we living our faith happily and presenting our concerns to the Lord? “From this day all generations will call be blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.” In this passage we hear the Blessed Mother stating the good works the Lord has done for her while giving Him all the credit He truly deserves. “He has shown the strength of His arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.” Here we see God’s strength and power. Many times we are proud and with His help we can do all things. “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.” This line is a promise. Trust in Him and one will have all they ever needed. Be careful of worldly enticements they only leave an individual feeling empty. “He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered His promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.” Our Lord invites us to come to Him and be not afraid, He is here to help us. Look around Jesus hasn’t abandoned us, for He continues to manifest His presence to us every time we are gathered together here each Sunday.

As we honor the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary we seek her intercession to help guide us in the direction of her Son Jesus Christ. Ask her to help us model her humility and say “yes” to God’s will. In striving to model her holy example may we hope to experience what she fully enjoys the fullness of God’s heavenly kingdom!

 

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Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Homily for Friday of the 19th Week of Ordinary

“You have turned from your anger.” While many times we offend God by our words and action, we are reassured today of God’s mercy. In the first reading from the prophet Ezekiel we hear the phrase of “new covenant.” That “new covenant” was established through Jesus Christ. Through His life, death, and resurrection Jesus opened the door for us to the gates of heaven.

We see the difference between the “old law” and the “new law” in this morning’s Gospel which references divorce. In responding to the question of why Moses allowed divorces to occur our Lord responded, “because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” This verse references the fall. “I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” There is something more than the subject of marriage discussed here. Jesus is laying out the difference between the old and the new law and how He fulfills it. There is no change between the old and the new but rather we see the continuity between the two. Our Lord has the power to make all things new and has given us the vehicle to return to Him every time we fall down in the Sacraments of the Church.

Contemplating this morning on the goodness of the Lord may we take advantage of the gifts God has bestowed upon us and seek out his merciful love!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homily for Thursday of the 19th Week of Ordinary Time

Yesterday’s Gospel focused on fraternal correction where today’s Gospel focuses particularly on the topic of forgiveness. Approaching the Lord this morning Saint Peter posed the question, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?” How often do we ask the Lord the same question in our hearts?

What makes forgiveness so hard? It is easy to say “I forgive you,” but in our hearts why is it so difficult. Often times when someone hurts us, it is more often than not our pride which is hurt or it could be a case where the pain inflicted was so bad that at this particular moment we haven’t cope with the hurt that has been inflicted upon us. However, we must remember true healing doesn’t come with vengeance, it comes through forgiveness. Violence for Violence, harsh words for harsh words does not bring healing and it certainly does not bring peace. If we are going to transform this world, than it must begin with our hearts. We must learn the value of forgiveness and strive to forgive all those who have hurt us over the years.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Homily for Wednesday of the 19th Week of Ordinary Time

The theme for this morning’s homily is simply “why can’t we all get along?” As we just heard in the Gospel, Jesus is addressing his disciples about fraternal correction which means addressing one another’s faults. So often when someone offends us, rather than speaking with the other person directly about it we tip toe around the other person and speak to everyone else about the situation.

What does Jesus tell us to do first? He says, “If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” In other words, we are called act like civil human beings and work it out. Then if that doesn’t work “take one or two others along with you so that every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Notice this passage doesn’t say go run off and tell these two witnesses about the problem. Simply take them with you so that every fact can be ascertained.

The very last line Jesus reminds us all that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This serves as a reminder to us that we are created in the image and likeness of God and therefore deserve to be loved and respected as fellow Christians. Always remember this line, “whatever you did for the least of your brothers, you did for me.” Thus, since we are created in the image and likeness of God we must strive to treat one another civilly and with respect. If we commit a sin against one another we must work together to overcome them, so that we may see Christ in one another.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Homily for the Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

Jot this line down, “God loves the cheerful giver.” Today the Church commemorates the feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr. He was one of the early seven deacons who were sent out to minister to the poor and the needy. During his time a persecution broke out Pope Sixtus was condemned to death. In an exchange between the two men the deacon said to the condemned Pope, “"Father, where are you going without your deacon?" he said.”I am not leaving you, my son," answered the Pope. "In three days you will follow me." Filled with joy Lawrence went out and gave money to the poor. When the Prefect of Rome asked Lawrence to bring Him the treasure of the Church, the deacon went out and brought together the poor and the needy, and said to the prefect this is the treasure of the Church.

As one can imagine the prefect wasn’t too amused and ordered this deacon to suffer and cruel painful death. Saint Lawrence was basically thrown on to the grill and his flesh was roasted. However, because of God’s grace he didn’t really feel the flame, in fact he made light of the situation and said to his executioners, “turn me over, I’m done on this side.” Today’s Saint got it right, the treasure of the Church isn’t necessary found in the elaborate architecture, painting, vessels, and vestments. The true treasure of the Church is all of us. May we today reach out and be that treasure we are called to be by living our faith and showing others to Jesus Christ with joy!

St__Lawrence Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr, pray for us!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Homily for Monday of the 19th Week of Ordinary Time

“Heaven and Earth are filled with your glory.” Last week on the Feast of the Transfiguration I mentioned that every time we gather here in this Sacred Space for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we experience a little taste of heaven here on earth. So often we take for granted all of God’s many blessings not out of disrespect but because of a lack of knowledge. We don’t often know and because we don’t often know we fail to recognize God’s presence within our midst.

The very last line taken from the first reading from the prophet Ezekiel says, “Such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” Every time you and I gather here we are witnesses to the glory of the Lord. Christ is robed in majesty because of His humility. Next time you happen to stop by the adoration chapel keep that in the back of your mind. Our Lord Jesus Christ chose a simple piece of bread to become the bread of life. The Sacred Host radiates the Lord’s glory expressed through the eloquence of the monstrance. It is in the Lord’s humility, he is glorified. God’s glory is also demonstrated through our accomplishments when we follow His will. So often we take for granted the things we accomplish in our lives. Next time we think about, take a look back and take stock on the blessing and gifts bestowed upon us over the years.

As we once again approach these Sacred Mysteries may we strive to always be aware of our surroundings and presence of God within our midst!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Homily for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“For where you treasure is, there also will your heart be.” My dear brothers and sisters this is such a true statement. If we spend our money, talents, and time putting them into the things of this world than our heart is going to be set on worldly pleasures. However, if you set your hearts on things in which God holds dear than your hearts will be directed and geared towards the things of God.

Another word stands out today and that is the word “preparation.” How do we prepare our hearts for the things of the Lord? Many times we think we know how to prepare our hearts. The key in that phrase is “we think.” Of course if we believe we can do things on our own, we know in the back of our minds from experience this can be a recipe for disaster. To prepare our hearts and minds for things of the Lord we need a little divine assistance. We need to begin with prayer! Many will say to themselves that’s easy. Wrong! Stop and think when things get tough and there are many things going on in our lives what is the first think to go! Is it the internet? Is it the television? Nope guess what…its prayer! Why is that? The reason is because within today’s media there are so many enticements that distract us from our heavenly purpose. These enticements draw us away from God and towards worldly pleasures.

Prayer is not easy, especially for people with families. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but rather at times it can be a challenge. What we must understand for families the Lord doesn’t expect holy hours day after day. He only asks for a little bit of our time each day. A thing one could do is first thing in the morning when one gets ready for the day is stop and say a quick prayer asking the Lord for His help throughout the day and dedicate that day for His greater glory. How many of us dedicate ourselves to God each morning? Let’s be honest the majority of the mornings when our alarm goes off we’re rolling over grumbling trying to find that allusive snooze button. Another way we can remember God throughout the day is praying before and after meals. Are we praying before and after meals or are we rushing through them like everything else we do? Praying together as a family is important! Finally at the end of the day do we take time to stop for a moment to thank God for all the opportunities He has given us that day and do we take time to examine our conscience for the mistakes we made and seek His forgiveness asking Him for the strength to overcome them. Parents you have an obligation to teach your children how to pray. If you don’t know how to pray yourselves, take this opportunity to learn.

One of the difficulties with prayer is often people don’t know where to start with busy schedules. I often find with my schedule that I too am often distracted. My holy hour in the chapel is Sunday night at 9. Now image celebrating multiple Masses, baptisms or baptism classes, youth group meetings, and those other unplanned things that pop up throughout the day. I’ll be honest with you I’m totally distracted; my mind is a hundred places at once. Those with families face the same dilemma between going to work and taking the kids numerous places. How can we regain our focus? A suggestion, dust off those bibles pick them off the shelf and open it up to a particular passage. Read it over, mediate on it, and discuss it over with the Lord. Perhaps a particular life of a saint really perks your interest. Buy a book on their life and read it. Do the same thing you would with reading the bible and talk with the Lord. Many times in chapel or when I am at prayer I find it necessary to read something to regain focus. If it doesn’t work at first don’t panic, just stay persistent and keep trying. That’s all the Lord expects from us.

Prayer is essential in preparing our hearts and minds to focus on things of the Lord! This week I must give you a report on something unique that took place here at our Vacation Bible School program and that is for the first time we had a station that focused on the Church (altar, sacred vessels, vestments, explained the importance of genuflection and blessing ourselves with holy water every time we enter Church, the organ, etc.) Cute story from our experience this week, I had one of those Clark Kent/Superman moments this week. We were in the Sacristy and I was explaining the vestments as I was putting each of them on. Finally I placed the chasuble on over myself and out of the blue a young girl said, “hey I know you I see you in Church every Sunday.” God is good! Another thing we did which was truly special for our young people was that on the closing night for each group we did Eucharistic Adoration with Benediction. It was truly a moving experience not only for me as a priest but I know also more importantly for our young children. My prayer is that our young people will take what they have learned and share it with their families. Our children had the chance of a lifetime to learn from the master, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. May we strive to take the time to allow Him to teach us on preparing our hearts for the things of heaven!

11949847661568287344heart_jon_phillips_01_svg_medAre our heart’s on focused on the things of heaven???

Friday, August 6, 2010

Homily for the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

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This morning we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord in which we commemorate the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The very last line from our Gospel is, “this is my chosen Son; listen to Him.” How often are we listening to the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts?

“The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth.” What does it mean to say the Lord is King? How does He express His kingship to us? As most of us already know the Lord is a different kind of king. He isn’t the type of king that would force His ways upon us. Rather He is a humble king who invites us and reaches out to us as friends. He is the king who willfully lay down His life. While He sits at the right hand of the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us and gave us the Sacraments as a way to reassure us of His love. When we come here each day we experience a piece of heaven, we see the glory of Christ manifested in the Liturgical Rites of the Church, but not only do we see the glory of Christ but we also see his humility.

Often when asked why does the Church have beautiful vestments and vessels while there are so many poor out there in the world, I respond quickly that most of what you see before was not donated by the rich, but rather the poor hard working people themselves. One of travesties of the effects of the Second Vatican Council which was never called for was that many of these beautiful sacred items were labeled as old fashioned and tossed out into a dumpster. Do we recognize the transfiguration within our midst? Jesus Christ was glorified in His humility and still is today. He uses the humble items of bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ. Why do we use an elaborate monstrance to expose the Sacred Host for exposition? Again the Lord is glorified in His humility! The Lord’s humility radiates forth from the Sacred Host and the Monstrance represents His glorification. That is also why many of our Sacred Vessels are so elaborate. Our Lord Jesus Christ is glorified within our midst every morning. How blest we are to experience a piece of heaven on earth!

This morning we are eye witnesses to our Lord’s majesty here and now. May we strive to testify to it each and every day!

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Homily for Thursday of the 18th Week of Ordinary Time the Memorial of the Dedication of Saint Mary Major

“The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” Today is the day! Beginning with the life, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ a new covenant was formed. Listen again to the very last line from this morning’s first reading from Jeremiah, “All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evil doing and remember their sin no more.”

It is so easy for us to look at the readings proclaimed day after day, week after week, in the past tense. However, we must always remember that when the word of God is proclaimed it is proclaimed here and now. God has indeed made a new covenant with us and it’s a covenant that in fact He reiterates each and every single day. In fact, every time we gather here we are reminded of that promise. One He promises that He will remain with us forever. How blest we are to have our Lord manifest Himself each and every day in word and sacrament in the Most Holy Eucharist. This allows all of us the opportunity to get to know Him in a personal way. Also, how blest we are that He gives us the vehicle to seek forgiveness and be forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession!

While it is tempting for us to place things off to the last possible minute may we not let that happen when it comes to our own conversion! As we approach these Sacred Mysteries let us be mindful of our own failings and ask the Lord for His strength to overcome them. Today we also ask the Blessed Mothers intercession as we commemorate the dedication of Saint Mary Major in Rome. May our prayer be this Lord, help me each and every day to recognize my own faults, please give me the courage and strength to overcome them so that I may come back to you all the days of my life. Amen!

 

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Homily for Wednesday of the 18th Week of Ordinary Time the Memorial of Saint John Marie Vianney, the Patron Saint of Parish Priests

As a norm I usually focus on the readings of the day. However, today I want to focus on the life of the Saint with whom we honor today, St. John Marie Vianney. Throughout this past year as we celebrated the year of the priest, his life has been a focus of study. John Marie Vianney was a humble parish priest and he has a lot to teach not only we as priests but also all of you.

Today the Church throughout the world is indeed of a renewal. The priesthood of Jesus Christ is indeed of renewal and there is no better individual Saint to turn to than the Cure of Ars. How do we renew our faith? In order for us to renew our faith we need to become truly a people of prayer. Some may say to themselves I already know how to do that. However, prayer is easier said than done. When things get hard or more things come up what is the first thing to go…unfortunately it’s our prayer life. Our Lord knows prayer at time isn’t easy and there will be times in which our prayer life will be totally dry, however…He doesn’t expect us to be successful but rather expects us to be faithful.

Jesus this morning in the Gospel, is in no way ignoring the pleas of the Canaanite woman.  Rather He was fishing for a response.  After getting the response He desired He said to her, “O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.” The Lord wants us to be faithful and sometimes in order to grow in the faith we need persistence.   Saint John Vianney himself struggled.  It wasn’t an easy road for him especially when it came to the study of Latin.  Through hard work and dedication He persisted and became a humble parish priest. 

Another element in the Cure of Ars life was that He was truly devoted to the confessional. In devoting himself to the confessional many sinners found themselves back to Christ. By encouraging prayer and penance he transformed a little tiny town in France that was often seen by most clerics of the time and undesirable place to minister. As priests if we are going to encourage people to utilize the Sacrament of Confession than we need to do what we preach. It is not enough to say confessions will be only on Saturday afternoon and by appointment. Confessions should be offered several times a week and at different parts of the day to encourage those who cannot make the Saturday afternoon timeslot and are intimidated by the “by appointment” notice in the bulletin. Priests must also themselves utilize this sacrament often as possible themselves. Not only will it benefit the life of the priest but it will more importantly benefit the faithful He serves.

Finally the last point we should make about the Cure of Ars life was His devotion to Catechesis. In his sermons and through his teaching St. John Marie Vianney strived to teach the Catholic Faith. This is something each one of us is called to do. Every time we act and speak we have an opportunity to bring people closer to Jesus Christ. Today as we mediate on the life of this ordinary saint who accomplished extraordinary things may we model his example of faithfulness and holiness! May we go forth today doing what we are called to do, to go out to the entire world and tell the good news.

st-john-vianneySt. John Marie Vianney, pray for us!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Homily for Tuesday of the 18th Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel is about faith. Imagine ourselves being in the position of the disciples seeing someone walking on the water. Let’s be honest, we would be astonished and in a total state of shock. Our Lord reassures them that it’s not a ghost but rather He Himself. Jesus invited Peter to come out and join Him and at first He too was walking on water. However, when He noticed how bad the storm was and began to doubt He began to sink.

Now in this account we see something that is truly supernatural. It is not natural for two people to walk on the water. Put that concept aside for a moment for there is something truly meaningful contained in this passage! Jesus Christ asks something of us each and every single day. He invites us to come follow Him. How many times do we choose not to follow Him out of fear or doubt? If we truly believe in our hearts that the Lord is calling us to do something, than we should do it. Of course we must remember that the Lord doesn’t ask us to do the impossible but rather He asks us to do those things that will make Him known to others.

As the Lord invites us this morning to “come” and follow Him may we strive each and every day to discern His will and follow it. May we pray also for the grace never to doubt or second guess the Lord! For if we want to succeed and stay afloat in life…then we must have faith.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Homily for Monday of the 18th Week of Ordinary Time

This morning I want to focus particularly on the first line of the Gospel, “when Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew to a deserted place by himself.” There is something important about this line for all of us gathered here. At times we will be faced with a difficult situation that will require us to get away. There is nothing wrong with that for even the Lord Himself felt it necessary at times to get away. Sometimes it is important for us not only to grow in faith but it is also important for us to get away so we will better be able to serve others.

Now in Gospel we do see Jesus reaching out to others in their need for it says, “When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured the sick.” As a priest even when I am “officially” away for a day there may be a time in which I am required to minister to others. There is no day off or vacation from our vocation. In life there will be times which will require you to do the same. However, there is something important to be said about getting away and taking a break from the normal routine of everyday life. Another thing we must understand is that we cannot do everything ourselves. Now how to we strike a healthy balance? For us it’s impossible, we need the help of our heavenly Father.

A few moments ago we said “Lord, teach me your statues.” Today reflect on the actions of the Lord in the Gospel and ask Him for His help and when we find it necessary to step away for a moment may we not hesitate to go to our own deserted place.