Sunday, October 31, 2010

Homily for Thursday of the 31st Week of Ordinary Time (the Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo)

“But whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ.” There is nothing that we have here and now that can overcome the goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ. If we have Christ in our lives and make Him the center of all our thoughts, works, and actions there is no need for anything else.

Today we remember the memorial of St. Charles Borromeo patron saint of learning and the arts. Learning is a never ending process for we are called to always learn about our faith. The more we learn, the more we grow. If we let go of our earthly desires perhaps we could experience what Saint Paul experienced so profoundly. As we reflect on the readings we renew our desire to grow ever stronger in the faith. By letting go of those gains that distract us we will gain something much greater, we will gain a stronger relationship with the Lord who can help us do all things.

Homily for Wednesday of the 31st Week of Ordinary Time (The Memorial of Saint Martin De Porres)

God is at work in us! At times our desires and wants overshadow His work, however He is indeed in us and wants to work through us for the purpose of building up His kingdom. St. Paul writes to the Philippians “for God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.

Then in the Gospel speaks of possessions and renouncing them. What are we to get rid of in order for us to better follow Him? You and I are to get rid of those things that distract us. Sometimes it is possessions. If we find ourselves overly attached to a particular possession then it’s probably a good idea to get rid of it. However there are other things that we need to get rid of too! There might be a particular behavior or sin that weighs us down to the point of despair. God speaks to us today, get rid of it; get rid of everything that prevents you from being His faithful disciple. The Lord is our light and our salvation. Get rid of those things that prevent us from serving Him faithfully and let His light shine through our lives.

Homily for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Department

Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints and today we remember the commemoration of all the faithful departed. Whenever we lose a loved one there is always a void in our lives. Although our faith teaches that with death our life is changed not ended for us who remain it is still hard. That is why typically with this feast we wear black or purple in recognition of our grief.

Also we remember all those who have died and are still working their way in purgatory to get to heaven. This morning as we express our grief for the loved ones we have lost throughout the year we rejoice in knowing that they are in good hands with our Heavenly Father!

All Saints Day 2010

“Rejoice and be glad your reward will be great in heaven!” My brothers and sisters we gather to celebrate All the Saints of the Church those formally canonized and those known to us who live with the Lord in the Heavenly Kingdom. For us in the Diocese of Harrisburg as we celebrate the Diocesan Marian Year today’s date also has significance for it was on this date in 1950 Pope Pius XII decreed infallible the doctrine of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

All Saints are those whose souls are present with God in heaven. Mary’s Assumption into heaven is a pre-figuration of what is to come. For there will be a day in which our bodies will be glorified. There will be a day when we like Mary and the Saints will see God as He is. While we may find life challenging and difficult from time to time we are reminded that what we experience now is not the end. Rather it’s a mean to an end. There is a reward awaiting each of us and that reward is a special place in His kingdom. Until then we are a people that longs to see His face. Although we don’t have to look really far! Now on earth we see our Lord in His humility in the Most Holy Eucharist but one day we will see Him in His glory. May we find peace and reassurance in this promise to one day experience our true heavenly reward!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Homily for the 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time

What we have just witnessed in the proclamation of the Gospel is an encounter or exchange between two individuals; our Lord Jesus Christ and a man by the name of Zacchaeus. Most of us have heard the story before, whether here at Church or somewhere else. It’s an encounter that is often depicted in children bible stories and religion text books. Because it’s an account that is often familiar too us we tend to miss some of the imagery that is contained in this Gospel passage.

Who is Zacchaeus? He is identified in the Gospel as the chief tax collector and a very wealthy man. In the Gospel he is described as short. But this description of him has nothing to do with his physical height. Then we might be left to wonder what purpose his physical stature has in the Gospel. This description of Zacchaeus highlights our similarities with him. One like Zacchaeus we are imperfect and I am not referring to our physical characteristics. You and I are human and because of our humanness we are sinners. We make mistakes each and every day. Another similarity we have with Zacchaeus is that we too are seeking Jesus. Now because of his short stature it wasn’t easy for Zacchaeus to see the Lord as He passed by through Jericho. Like Zacchaeus we too have a difficulty seeing the Lord. Worldly allurements, aspirations, and possessions all get in the way of our relationship with Him. At times because of our own stubbornness we ourselves too get in the way. It’s easy to just simply give up and roll over, but did Zacchaeus do that? No he climbed up the sycamore tree. My brothers and sisters are we willing to work as hard as Zacchaeus did that day? Are we willing to do all that we can to see our Lord Jesus Christ as He works in our lives?

After his hard work and perseverance we have an exchange between Zacchaeus and the Lord. This evening/morning I don’t want to focus on the verbal exchange between the two of them, I want to focus on the nonverbal exchange. It says in the Gospel this morning in the Gospel, “When He (Jesus) reached the place, Jesus looked up.” At this point their eyes met. Wow…what a powerful encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. It should give us goose bumps. This is the kind of relationship the Lord wants with each of us. The Lord wants to look us directly in the eye. Now listen to the Lord’s words to Zacchaeus, “come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” The Lord knew Zacchaeus’ imperfections but when He saw His imperfections the Lord looked up with love and asked to stay in His house. Today the Lord tells us that He wants to stay with us. Are we willing to open the doors of our hearts to allow that to happen?

Every time we celebrate these Sacred Mysteries we too have an opportunity to experience that Zacchaeus encounter with the Lord. In a few moments after the Lamb of God you will kneel back down and I standing at the altar as the priest will lift the Sacred Host and Chalice filled with the Precious Blood and say these words “Behold the Lamb of God, Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those called to His supper.” We as priests say those words clearly, because that is a Zacchaeus moment. Our Lord looks down from the altar and stares into our eyes with love. That is an opportunity for a personal encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ that is so often a missed opportunity. It’s a missed opportunity because we priest rush through the words and you often have a million things going through your minds at that moment but it’s there for us.

What does this passage mean for us today Sunday October 31st 2010? Our Lord Jesus Christ stated His purpose at the very end of the Gospel, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” You and I at times are lost and are in need of direction. We get bogged down and distracted easily. Zacchaeus is a model of perseverance. When the odds are stacked up are we willing to do everything humanly possible and give up those things that block our spiritual vision from seeing Jesus Christ working in the world?

In conclusion I would like to issue those same words that Saint Paul wrote to the people of Thessalonica in the Second Reading. “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 Jesus may be glorified in you and you in him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is calling us! He wants to stay in our house! The question is…are we open to it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why All Saints Day is not a Holy Day of Obligation this year?

This year All Saints day is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation.  The reason it is not is because it falls on a Monday.  Normally when January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints,falls on a Saturday or a Monday the obligation to attend Mass on those days is waved.  The exception to this in the United States is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th because our nation is dedicated to Mary under this title.  Therefore it is still honored as a Holy Day of Obligation.  When December 8th falls on a Sunday because it falls during Advent the Solemnity is transferred to another day.

Since All Saints falls on a Monday and is not a Holy Day of Obligation for example at the parish which I am assigned we will follow our normal weekday Mass schedule of 7AM and 8:30AM. Although it is not a Holy Day of Obligation Catholics should still be encouraged to go if they are able to honor all the Saints in heaven.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How A Marriage Between Man and Woman Models the Kingdom of God

There is so much that can be said about today’s readings however with Daily Mass there is so little time to flesh out its true meaning. As I mentioned in the beginning of the homily, this reading from Saint Paul to the Ephesians is so often taken out of context. Some groups take this passage to demonstrate a male dominated society. However that is not what is being communicated. We need to look at the passage in its entirety.

Saint Paul writes in the opening line, “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” We are called to live for one another. Then he continues, “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.” What certain individuals fail to recognize is what it says later in the reading, “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the Church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Taking this passage in proper context we can relate how the Sacrament of Marriage between husband and wife is mutually life giving. It can only be life giving with both spouses give themselves to one another freely and totally. Individuals who see this passage as one that encourages a male dominated society should take a deeper look at the message that is being conveyed by Saint Paul.

From a marriage between husband and wife families are built. For the Lord Himself said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Families start off small and in the union of husband and wife in the marital act families grow larger. Thus we see the connection between what was proclaimed in the first reading and the Gospel. Our Lord says in the Gospel, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it?” It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.” A husband and wife who live faithfully the call of the sacrament of marriage model perfectly the Kingdom of God. While it starts small it has the potential of growing leaps and bounds.

With that said, there are many challenges facing couples today. In 2010 there are many examples of couples abusing one another. Today husbands abuse their wives and in many cases also wives abuse their husbands. Abuse doesn’t have to be physical…it can also be verbal! Here are a few questions each spouse must ask themselves. While there are times in which arguments arise and things get tough and out of hand, think about the following questions.

1. Do I find myself looking at my spouse often in ways that I shouldn’t?

2. Do I find myself regularly belittling my spouse in my speech?

3. Do I at times find myself hitting my spouse often?

These are some questions we need to ask. If you find yourselves in this situation there is help out there for you! I am not a counselor, I am a priest so I don’t pretend to know all the answers, however what I do know is that families are important and we need to do all in our power to make sure that they are doing well.

Some of these problems can be attributed because we have introduced contraception into the mix. Pope Paul VI warned in his famous encyclical Humanae Vitae of the danger of the use of contraception. First it is written, “Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.” An effect of contraception is that it opens the door to an increase of marital infidelity between spouses. It can make it easier for couples to participate in the marital act outside of marriage without consequence.

Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Oh how prophetic Pope Paul VI was! Because of the increase of the use of contraception throughout the world we have degraded our bodies. While this quote from Humanae Vitae focuses on women it can be said the same for men. We see each other as sexual objects rather than something that is truly beautiful and special created in the image and likeness of God.

As people have heard me say over and over again the marital act between husband and wife is unitive and always procreative physically and spiritually. Our families are vital to our society. Parents have the responsibility to teach their children about God and His goodness to us. Through your example you invite your children to consider serving the Lord in the priesthood and religious life. You also show them by living faithfully the married life how they can be good to their future spouses. Families are important for the advancement and growth of society. Also families are important for the building up of the Kingdom of God.

The readings for this Tuesday of the 30th week of ordinary time demonstrate to us the importance of the institution of the sacrament of marriage. While there are some who criticize Holy Mother Church for her regulations and rules, in reality we have been blessed by them. Rules are not a bad thing. By not following rules we become a slave to our passions and are led into sin. Yes sin is slavery! However when we follow the rules and guidelines set before us we find our true freedom. May we open our hearts and minds to the will of God so we can experience what He has in store for us!

456px-HolyFamilybyGutierrez As always if we need help we ask the intercession of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to pray for us!

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html

Link to Humanae Vitae the encyclical letter of

His Holiness Pope Paul VI

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reflection on the Readings for the 30th Week of Ordinary Time

“How great are the works of the Lord!” What a way to open up our reflection on these very words! Do we ever think about the great works that the Lord does for us day after day? So many times we take them for granted. Yet today we are asked to strive to keep our hearts and minds focused on the great gifts that have been given to us.

St. Paul writing to the Philippians says this, “I am confident of this that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” We are created in the image and likeness of God, we were created for God. Our Lord created us to love and serve Him in this world and the next. Everything that has been given to us has been given by Him to be used. The best gifts are not the ones we hold onto but truly the best gifts are the ones that are meant to be shared! May we share those gifts each day to prepare one another for the Lord’s return in glory!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Homily for the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude

We are reminded that on this Feast of Saints Simon and Jude of our call to be disciples of the Lord. As we gather here we are disciples of the Lord. You and I are not strangers but members of his household. At baptism we became members of God’s family and given a mission to call more people and bring them to the Lord.

There is nothing we can do on our own, for we need the Lord. With Him we can do everything and more. On this feast of these two apostles we strive to go out and bring in more disciples. It is in our living of the faith here within this community, at home, and in the work place we introduce or in many cases reintroduce who Jesus is to them. Preaching without action is useless. Show people who Jesus is and we will build up His kingdom here and now.

Homily for Wednesday of the 30th Week of Ordinary Time

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” This opening line reminds each of us of the importance of listening to ones parents. Even if our parents are no longer with us they are still to be respected for they imparted something in us that we in turn impart to our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

For all of us we all have a parent to whom we are called to love and respect and that is the Lord Himself. He gives us a guide in the Ten Commandments of how we are to live our lives. As we said together a few moments ago that “the Lord is faithful in all His words,” we come to Him. He gives us what we need and shows us what we need to do to be with Him. All we have to do is follow Him.

Homily for Tuesday of the 30th Week of Ordinary Time

Many people cower when it comes to proclaiming the very first reading because many people are quick to take it out of context. That is why they always offer a shorter form. There is some great truth contained in the first reading taken from Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This passage cannot be defined just by the opening lines; it needs to be looked at in its entirety.

Look at the very first line, “be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” As we taught yesterday we are always called to live for God and one another. Much like a husband and wife live for one another. Today we are called to build up the Body of Christ. We do so when we come together for one purpose to live for the Lord. That is our challenge today. It is not about us, but rather about doing good for our Lord by reaching out to our fellow brothers and sisters and showing them the way to Him.

Homily for Monday of the 30th Week of Ordinary Time

“Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you. Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed Himself over for us.” No more words need to be said this morning. St. Paul in writing to the Ephesians illustrates to all of us what is necessary to really live ones faith.

There should never be a moment in our lives when we are not looking after the best interest of another. That is why our Lord was quick to chastise the leader of the synagogue and the crowds for criticizing Him about curing on the Sabbath. Good work is to be done every day of the week. Today as we go home let’s reflect on the message of the readings and think has there ever been a time in which we failed and not done what He asked of us. If we find that there were times in which we failed come back to Him seek His forgiveness and ask Him for His help to love like He does.

Homily for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Once again we hear this word “humble.” To be “humble” means to let go of our own wants and desires. As Catholics it means to let go of the things we want to do in order to do the things our Lord wishes us to do to build up His kingdom on earth.

We as Catholics are called to be missionaries. Unfortunately today we too quickly associate missionary work with reaching deep into our pockets to pull a few extra bucks out to put in the collection basket. Missionary work isn’t that easy. Yes we are called to be supportive of our brothers and sisters in other countries. A few weeks ago we were reminded of that with the visit of His Excellency the Most Reverend Bishop Castillo of how our generous contributions assist our sister parish in Uruguay. Some may say to themselves “well Father Carroll, I don’t know how to be a missionary other than put some money in the collection plate.” While supporting the missions in other countries is important and necessary it isn’t the only missionary work that needs to be done. A little hint: you don’t have to look very far.

In recent weeks throughout my homilies I have been using this reference that not only is it necessary for us to practice our faith, it also important for us to live it. Some think by coming here every Sunday we are living our faith. No, we are practicing it but not necessary living it. One of the major contributions to a drop in Church attendance throughout the world is caused by a lack of willingness on our part to live our faith in society. In conjunction with that we have become more dependent upon ourselves and focused on ourselves that we no longer find it necessary to truly live our faith. Many people don’t come to Church today to give thanks to God or truly worship Him; they come here because it’s an obligation. That is evident in the number of people who come in week after week late or week after week early after receiving the risen Lord in the Eucharist. Our Lord challenges us today with this question…why are you here? Are we here to give Him thanks for all the many gifts that He has given us? Are we taking the time to adore and worship Him every time we gather here? Go home today and think about it.

Today we fear living our faith or fear mentioning the name of Jesus Christ out of fear of offending someone else. If the Church is going to grow we need to move from practicing our faith and start living it in our homes and in society. You and I are so richly blessed with many gifts that we are meant to share with others. Many of us gathered here have people we know and love in our homes and in our circle of friends who are Catholics who are not practicing our faith and if they are not practicing it certainly they are not living it to its fullest potential. I say it that way because while they may not be practicing the faith they might be living it to a certain extent. Many of them are good Christian people who would do anything to help another person and certainly are doing some good things. So we can’t say they are not living the faith but without practicing it, their faith can never reach the potential that God wishes for them. You need to be missionaries in your homes, out with your friends, and even in the work place. There are many things that you can do that are not being done. Missionary work is much more than giving money, it’s about reaching out and teaching others who Jesus us is in our words and actions. Parents talk to your children about Jesus and show them how to live their faith. If you have an older child who does not practice the faith or know a friend who is Catholic that doesn’t go to Church invite them to come with you so they can experience God’s love and mercy. Don’t force the issue, because that can do more damage than good, but invite them to come home.

From my experience in the short time I have been a priest I know that I am not the most effective minister of the Gospel. You my brothers and sisters are the most effective ministers. Because we are human we priests make mistakes. Sometimes people are justified for not wanting to speak to a priest. There are times people get upset with us as priests because we have to say “no” to something and that does happen from time to time. However, if you know anyone who has been away from the Church invite them to give us a call. You have my permission to tell them that “Father Carroll would like for you to call him.” Speaking for myself I do not and will not hesitate to speak to anyone who has been away from the Church no matter how long it has been. I welcome their call to talk about the faith and when they themselves are ready our Lord will welcome them home.

To become true effective missionaries we need to perfect the faith within us. In order for us to do that, we need to open our hearts and minds to the Spirit. Many times we do not allow the spirit to work and we only live our faith at a superficial level at the surface. Today we must ask ourselves are we willing to let ourselves be challenged. Are we allowing the Lord’s words spoken to us to penetrate deep down in our hearts? The purpose of the homily is challenging us to live the faith. How many of you take the time to think about what was said. An effective homily is one that not only invites but also challenges. Again speaking for me if I say something that makes you think or makes you mad come to me and talk about it. Our Lord wants us to become the best Catholics we can be. Many people are quick to complain and criticize the message that is preached because they themselves fear being challenged. That is the result of a self-centered culture. Our faith is not to be focused on ourselves but is to be focused on Him. It is not about what we like or what we prefer but it’s about what He expects. We should want to give God our very best. Our Lord challenges us because He expects the best from us!

This afternoon/evening/morning, our Lord challenges all of us to be all that we can be! Let’s put aside our worldly wants and desires and place our focus where it should be on Him and Him alone. Do not fear the Spirit but open your hearts to it. Remember whoever exults himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Open your hearts and listen to His voice. Humbly place yourselves before Him, open yourselves up and ask Him to help us be the effective ministers of the Gospel to which we have been called!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why Do Priest Wear All Those Vestments?

There are various ways we could prepare ourselves for Mass. For the faithful it is good to arrive about five to ten minutes before the Mass and read over the readings for the Mass that are found in many missals in the pews. Have you ever wondered how the priest prepares for Mass? Each article of vestment has a symbolic meaning. Below I will list each vestment along with the vesting prayer that corresponds to each and explain briefly what they signify.

Prayer of the washing of the hands before Mass:

hand%20washing

Give strength to my hands, Lord, to wipe away all stain, so that I may be able to serve Thee in purity of mind and body.

In this prayer the priest is asking the Lord to free Him from His sinfulness so that He may be able to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass worthily. (This is not substitute the Sacrament of Reconciliation for even the priest himself must go to confession.)

Prayer while putting on the Amice:

An_amice_exp

Lord, set the helmet of salvation on my head to fend off all the assaults of the devil.

Some may wonder what the amice is and what its purpose is today. Practically, the amice is intended to cover the priest’s street clothes. However it has a spiritual significance as indicated by the text of the prayer. Years ago the vestments had a cow (or hood) to them. Explaining the purpose of the amice to school children I said when many kids when riding on a bicycle put on a helmet. That helmet is intended to protect them. The amice represents a spiritual protection. We as priests are asking the Lord to protect us from evil.

Prayer while putting on the Alb:

alb

Purify me, Lord, and cleanse my heart so that, washed in the Blood of the Lamb, I may enjoy eternal bliss.

At our baptisms we were presented with a white garment. That white garment serves as a reminder of our baptism. We become a new creation at baptism and original sin is washed away. When we say this prayer and put on the alb (which should always be white) it serves as a reminder of our baptism.

Prayer while we tie the cincture around our waist:

Cincture

Lord, gird me with the cincture of purity and extinguish my fleshly desires, that the virtue of continence and chastity may abide within me.

The cincture is basically a belt and it does serve a practical purpose. If the particular alb we are wearing is too long it helps us to lift the alb up that way we don’t trip over it. However it is evident in the prayer that we say that it too has a spiritual purpose. As priests we are called to be celibates for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Therefore it represents chastity and the state of life in which we are called to live.

Placing the Maniple over the left arm:

maniple

Lord, may I worthily bear the maniple of tears and sorrow so as to receive the reward of my labor with rejoicing.

Although this prayer was not included in the 1970 text of the vesting prayers the maniple itself was never officially abrogated. Such as with any vocation we all have our crosses to carry with us through life. I personally wear the maniple primarily for the spiritual significance attached to it. The maniple represents the weight and crosses that come with living the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

Prayer while placing the stole over our shoulders:

regada%20stole%20gold%201

Lord, restore the stole of immortality, which I lost through the collusion of our first parents, and, unworthy as I am to approach Thy sacred mysteries, may I yet gain eternal joy.

The stole simply represents the authority of the priesthood. As the prayer states it is an authority that is exercised with humility.

Prayer while putting on the chasuble:

zoom_gothic_chasuble_white-gold_back

O Lord, Who hast said, "My yoke is sweet and My burden light," grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace. Amen.

The last vestment the priest puts on is the chasuble which covers the other vestments. It signifies the virtue of charity. As priests we are called to exercise our priestly ministry with love. (Note: the stole is always to be worn under the chasuble. Our authority is not greater than our charity) By placing everything under the chasuble we are reminded that everything we do is done out of love and that we exercise our priestly ministry with humility.

Everything we do has a meaning and purpose. May we strive to understand the meaning of everything we do and say.

Why Dress Appropriately for Church?

Often I hear from people, “God doesn’t care what I wear, long as I come as I am.” Ultimately this is true, God does want us to come as we are, however, there is something to be said about wearing our Sunday best every time we come together to worship our Lord. In this post I would like to discuss why it’s important for us to strive to wear our Sunday best.

One of the things we lack most in our society is a sense of formality. Not only applying to dress we can also apply this to everyday life. Today in many places teachers invite their students to refer to them by their first name. In some cases even children are calling their parents by their first name as well. This results in a breakdown between the parent/child, student/teacher relationship. Yes, what really matters ultimately is what is inside ones heart, however externals are important. Everything we do and say conveys something. Externals are important because they can convey an interior reality. What does that mean exactly? Take for example the creed we profess every Sunday. In the creed there is a section which asks us to bow while saying the word, “by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.” Why does the Church ask us to bow during those words? The reason is those words are a central mystery and teaching of our faith. When we bow it causes us to highlight and reflect on the meanings of those words rather than just say them off the top of our head. Not only are externals important, they are also necessary.

With that said we return our focus to proper attire for Church. What would our Sunday best consist of? Does that mean I have to wear dress, suit and tie every weekend? No of course not although it would be appropriate for Christmas and Easter. We ought to want to give God our very best. I see for men a buttoned down shirt, polo shirt, dress slacks, for ladies a casual dress or blouse, skirt or slacks as appropriate dress for Church. Especially in the current economic situation people should not be made to go out and buy fancy clothes. If we believe Jesus Christ was truly present in the Eucharist we would want to come before Him with our best. Sadly today people dress up better to go out to eat than they do when they come to Church. As mentioned in the last paragraph soon as we drop our formality the faster we lose respect for authority. Parents and teachers who allow their children to refer to them on a first name basis lose respect for the authority that the parents and teachers have to guide them.

Soon as we lose a sense of formality at the Sunday liturgy then we begin to lose sight of the devotion and respect we should have every time we gather to worship. Externals eventually convey an interior reality. Lose the externals than it will eventually erode our internal belief. That is why externals are important. We shouldn’t dress when we come to Church as we were going to the beach or to a movie theater. Again why is that? When we go to a beach or a movie theater we go and let our minds relax. Speaking for myself when I go to the beach I let my mind relax to the point where I don’t focus on anything. You and I when we come to Church should be focusing; we should be focusing on our Lord Jesus Christ and the Sacred Mysteries we celebrate. Dressing appropriately for Church has an effect on how we approach our faith.

Yes God wants us to come as we are! Absolutely, however we should keep in mind the formality of the occasion. Every time we gather together each Sunday or throughout the week you and I encounter the risen Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. Dressing appropriately for the occasion helps us to come as we are. Just think about it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Homily for Tuesday of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time

“The Lord speaks of peace to His people.” As we listen to His words this morning you and I are encouraged to remain vigilant being mindful of the Lord’s presence in our lives. There are times in which we take Him and the ways He communicates to us for granted. However, every time we gather here with one another we are brought closer to Him. As we heard in the first reading to the Ephesians, Saint Paul writes, “but now in Christ Jesus you who once was far off have become near by the Blood of Christ.

This morning we prepare our hearts to absorb His words and to receive Him in our hearts. May we strive to listen to the words He speaks to us each and every day! Be prepared and vigilant for the moment when the Lord comes knocking at our door. At that time may we be ready to say “yes” to the Lord’s invitation to do this will.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Homily for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it.” This opening line from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy exhorts Timothy as well all of us gathered here today to remain faithful. We are called to remain faithful to God and His commands. “Faithfulness” is a word that we need to hear more often.

Society struggles with this word. It’s a word we often tend to forget. A married couple on the day of their wedding promise to remain faithful to one another in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, till death do them part. In our world today we tend to forget the promise too easily. Soon as something goes wrong or things get tough couples are quick to divorce one another rather than work together to make the marriage work. Think about our faithfulness to God. There are people who do not come to Church on Sunday or even live their faith. Today many Catholics profess one thing on Sunday and soon as they leave here profess another. Do we comprehend what it truly means to remain faithful in the world today?

Together we are called to faithful to God’s will. It really isn’t difficult, because it’s all contained in this book the word of God, the Holy Bible. Everything is here at our fingertip, which often sits lonely collecting dust on the bookshelf. As Catholics we must make the effort to page through it, not only studying it ourselves, but also studying together as a family. Each book has its purpose! The Old Testament gives us a historical overview leading up to the New Testament. Then the New Testament begins with the Gospel which is the life of Jesus and we hear how He fulfills the Old Law. Finally in the Letters we hear the Gospel put into action. In writing to Timothy, St. Paul exhorts us to be faithful. That is our challenge today, to be faithful to God’s law and His mission!

Not only today are we called to remain faithful but we are also called live our faith. Last week we were reminded to give thanks to God. Giving thanks to God is one of the reasons we come here each week. Just because we come here and practice our faith doesn’t mean we are truly living it. While we might be faithful to our obligation to the very first precept of the Church, are we being faithful to His commission to go in peace to love and serve the Lord. For instance we were reminded also in the Second Reading that “all Scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for the training of the righteous.” Are we using the gifts we have received to the fullest? Are we leading others to Christ by our examples? Parents are you taking the time to teach your children about prayer and about Jesus through the use of these Sacred Writings? Think about, are we truly living our faith daily or are we just practicing it only on Sunday!

Indeed our help is in the name of the Lord. He is there to help us along the way. As Jesus told his disciples in the Gospel about the importance of prayer to pray unceasingly to the Father. Ask Him for the grace to help us to live our faith especially in a world filled with so many distractions and road blocks. Be faithful to God and He will not disappoint us!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

IHS Holy Hour Homily 10/10/2010

“I am the vine, you are the branches.” These words describe perfectly our relationship with the Lord. Truly indeed He is the vine. Our Lord is the very source of our strength. He is the one to whom we turn to when we find ourselves afraid, alone, and beaten down from the challenges we face each and every day. Tonight we gather and turn to our risen Lord, our vine in order for us to branch out into the world.

My dear friends it is absolutely essential that we take time to be fed and nourished by our Eucharistic Lord. What would happen to a branch if it became separated from the vine? The answer is that it would wither and die. When we separate ourselves from the true vine we begin to die spiritually. We start to lose our faith and eventually our hope. Ask yourselves this evening, how long have I been away from the true vine? Have I done things that keep me from receiving the nourishment the Lord wishes to fill me with? These are some things we have to think about this evening.

There are three things I wish for us to discuss this evening briefly as we reflect on the vine/branch relationship. The very first thing I wish to bring up is prayer. Most of us know what prayer is, prayer is a communication between us and God. While we know what prayer is, at times we don’t know how to do it. What makes prayer so difficult? Prayer is difficult because you and I are faced today with so many distractions. There are only twenty four hours in a day and how many times do we spend our time going from one thing to another. Between school, extracurricular activities, work, you are faced with many more challenges and responsibilities. With all these things going on it is easy to become tired and to start neglecting our relationship with the Lord. When it comes between choosing Church or football too many people in today’s society choose football rather than God. In order to grow in our faith we need to be a people of prayer. You and I must make the commitment to spend time with Him each day not only to chat with Him but also to listen. Will it be easy, while certainly it can be; most likely it won’t because of the many distractions and temptations present in the world. However with any relationship we need to keep working at it to build upon it.

Now the second thing I wish to talk about this evening is about the most underutilized sacrament in the Church today and that is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Think about that this evening, when was the last time you have been to confession. Was it last Easter??? Or was the last time you were in the confessional at the time when you made your first reconciliation? If it’s been awhile since you have experienced the Lord’s love and mercy in this beautiful sacrament, the Lord invites you this evening when you get the chance to come and experience the love He has in store for us. Confession is essential for it removes those pesky road blocks within our souls that keep us from giving ourselves totally to Him. Why is this wonderful sacrament so underutilized? For starters the times we priests offer it, are not always convenient for you. It drives me nuts to read in a bulletin, confessions are Saturday afternoon or by appointment. How many people do you think are going to take advantage of that by appointment ad in the bulletin? Not many! “Hi Father Carroll, my name is, and I would like to go to confession.” I have a problem with that, especially if the penitent wishes to remain anonymous which is their right. While I won’t exclude entirely the “by appointment” notice in the bulletin we need to make available more time so you can take advantage of the Sacrament more often.

Another reason the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so underutilized is because as a society we try to rationalize sin. In essence we make excuses for ourselves. Also many people don’t know what they are doing is sinful. They don’t know it is sinful because they were never told. You and I have a moral obligation to help one another get to heaven. Guess what we are not helping ourselves if we see someone we know living a life of sin and we do nothing to guide them back on the right path. Yes it can be true if we don’t know something is sinful than we might not be culpable, however if we know what they are doing is wrong and we stand back and do nothing to help them than we ourselves are held accountable. I know people who will say well I can’t confront that person because I myself am a sinner and who am I to judge. One you are not judging them! Two, last time I looked each one of us gathered here in the presence of the Lord this evening are sinners. Three, there are no better ministers to sinners than other sinners.

With that last point there are no better ministers to sinners than other sinners we shall discuss why confession. Many people think all we have to do is ask God for forgiveness and He will grant it. While I do not deny that God can choose to work that way if He so chooses, I will not negate the importance of this Sacrament. I have some breaking news for you this evening…Father Carroll sins! Yes I am a sinner and I am called to minster to other sinners. For you I am a priest, with you I am a sinner. People fear the Sacrament because they are afraid of what the priest is going to say. Get the image of the priest at the pulpit out of your heads for a moment. When we preach it is entirely different than when we are in the confessional. For the confessional is to be the instrument of God’s love and mercy. Remember what we said about prayer and why it is often so difficult because of so many distractions, in the confessional we hear God physically say “I absolve you from your sins.” You and I need to hear those words out loud! It does something for us!

Finally, I want to talk about the importance of going to Church on Sunday. As you continue through school and begin to get jobs one of the things that goes unfortunately is the importance of the Sunday obligation. Many young people buy into the idea that we can pray and worship God anywhere. While true, God desires us to be present with Him once a week for our sake. On Sunday we have the opportunity to gather together as a parish family to support one another in the faith. Now I know some will say I don’t get anything from coming to Church. You and I don’t come to Church to be entertained, but rather we come to Church to give thanks and worship the Lord. We can only get out of it what we put in. If we think that we are going to get something out of our experience here week after week without putting any effort into it of course we aren’t going to get anything out of it. Now that is not to say if we’re having a bad week and struggling to cope with the things that pop up in life and not participating fully in the Sacred Mysteries that we don’t get anything out of it, for God Himself provides. God gives us three things each time we come together. First, He nourishes us with His words. Second, He gives us Himself in the Most Holy Eucharist. Finally, He demonstrates His support through the care and love of His holy people.

Tonight you and I are in the presence of the vine, for adoration is intended to be an extension of the Holy Mass. It gives us an opportunity to bask in the splendor of our Eucharistic Lord. A word of advice, if you wish to grow ever stronger in your faith, stay close to the vine, stay close to the vine. Please do not detach yourself from Him! Jesus Christ is our survival of life. Without Him we can do nothing, however with Him we can do everything!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Homily for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Do we acknowledge God each and every day or do we take for granted what He has given to us? This is the question for us today. Another question, are we coming here to Church because we love God and want to thank Him for all the many gifts bestowed upon us or are we coming here because it’s an obligation? These are just a few questions you and I need to ponder this morning.

Today many people come to Church only because it’s an obligation. We don’t stop and think to give thanks to God. So many times we take those gifts that have been given us for granted. Listen to Jesus, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Where would we find ourselves? Would we consider ourselves the one foreigner who returned to thank the Lord for the gift of healing that was given Him or would we find ourselves as one of the nine? Perhaps there is a tendency within us that at times that can side with the one and another part of us that side with the other nine who left without thanking the Lord.

Living a life is not easy and it takes work. It takes perseverance. Today we need to examine our lives and think about those gifts we often take for granted and fail to give God credit. How many times do we take this gift given to us day after day, week after week, for granted? Yes I am talking about the Eucharist! Do you recognize the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? My fear is that many people don’t. This is evident when you see people week after week leaving early after receiving our Eucharistic Lord. If individuals truly recognized Christ in the Eucharist no one would dare leave early (unless of course if it were an emergency). In fact, if we truly recognized Jesus present in the Eucharist we would not be able to stand. We would fall to our knees in adoration.  Think about it!

It’s time that we start listening to the words that are being said rather than rush through them just to get it over with. This is our mentality today and this is the mentality we must strive to change. If we want to come to Mass just too simply “get it over with” then we are here for the wrong reason. In this case we are like the nine ungrateful lepers. We are in the presence of the Lord our God. He has given us everything and has done everything to see to it that we have the opportunity to be with Him in paradise. Our Lord has revealed to us His saving power, the Lord’s question to us this morning…do we recognize it!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Homily for Friday of the 27th Week of Ordinary Tim (School Mass)

“You will have all you want to eat and you will never run out of food.” Boys and girls these words do not pertain to the food that you eat at home for breakfast, or lunch in the cafeteria, the food that is being referred to is a spiritual food.

When I was younger I used to collect toys and I was very possessive of them. How many of you have things that you collect, baseball cards, books, and toys? All of us do! What you and I need to keep in mind boys and girls is that our physical possessions are not all that important. Rather what are more important are our relationships, our relationship with God and our relationship with our family and friends. Our relationships are more important than the things we build up and collect.

Today God makes us a promise! He reassures us that He will stay with us always. With that God asks us, “Do you promise to stay close to me.” Ladies and gentlemen it is important for us to stay close to God. He is the source of everything in our lives. Do you take time to talk and thank Him for the gifts given to you? Build your relationships with your family and friends, because when we do that we build our relationship with God because of course we are created in His image and likeness. Now what is spiritual food…spiritual food is the Lord dwelling within us which fills us with happiness and peace. Think of the times when you were happy. While life can have some challenging tests in store for us, the Lord reminds us in subtle ways that He is indeed here.

My dear children you might not now recognize our Lord’s presence within our midst or not fully understand what I am talking about. Don’t worry, often times neither do us. Just remember this, “if you want to eat where you never run out of food, and are fulfilled, come to God and He will give you everything you need.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Homily for Thursday…the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

Praying to Jesus through the intercession of the Blessed Mother is one of the ways we as Catholics communicate with our Lord. Some will ask why we pray through Mary, why we don’t go to Him ourselves. Good question! Often times we need advocates on our behalf, testifying to our character. Think of the last time we had a job interview and how important it was to put down references. Now we cannot compare our faith to a job interview, but it gives us some sort of visual picture.

Speaking as a son, if someone wanted me to do something, they would ultimately go to my mother because they knew that my mother would get me to do it. Mary and her Son have a perfect relationship and He loves and respects His mother and would do anything she asks Him according to His will. Why pray the rosary? The rosary is more than a series of prayers we say often. Rather it a way we can enter into the Pascal Mystery. Think about it all the mysteries with the exception of the last two Glorious Mysteries focus on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Like our parents when we were growing up taking us by the hand to cross the street or walk in a crowded mall, our Blessed Mother takes us by the hand and leads us to her Son. In this month dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary may we make it a point to pray some part of the rosary each day and ask for her guidance showing us the way to her Son!

John_Paul_rosary (John Paul II, praying the rosary)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Larger Picture…Why Archbishop Nienstedt denied Holy Communion to a Group of about 25 Students at St. John’s Abby in Collegeville, Minnesota

On Sunday September 26 Archbishop Nienstedt denied 25 students Holy Communion. These students were part of a group called People Representing the Sexual Minority, which represents gay and lesbian students. Now those who read this will read into it that the Church is discriminating those who are gay. However, there is another issue.

The students who were denied Holy Communion that evening were wearing rainbow buttons and sashes to protest the Church’s position. Speaking as a priest I would deny Communion to anyone who would use the moment of reception of Holy Communion as an opportunity to protest. By publically wearing those buttons and sashes they are publically going against what God intends for the Sacrament of Marriage. There are many people within our congregations who struggle with same-sex attractions, however strive to live the teachings of the Church. Then there are those who wish to use the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as an opportunity to protest. If those students on that particular Sunday opted not to wear those buttons and sashes at Mass they would not have been denied Holy Communion. However, because they chose to do so they were.

During Holy Communion we have an opportunity for us to encounter our risen Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist. Think of the word “communion” for a moment. What two words do you see? We see the words “community” and “unity.” When we receive our Eucharistic Lord and say “Amen” we are saying yes to God. Our “Amen” means “so be it” or “yes Lord I believe.” We believe that you are truly present in the Eucharist, body, blood, soul and divinity.” Also we believe and hold everything you teach as true. Holy Communion is an opportunity for unity. However, those who wore those sashes that day were using that sacred time as an opportunity to promote disunity. Individuals who disagree with the Church ought not to receive Communion. To receive Holy Communion in this state is as if we are saying one thing to the Lord and then turning around and doing another. In essence we are lying directly to Him. While the moment of reception of Holy Communion is our personal encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, it should be the communicant who decides whether or not they should receive. For ministers of Communion, ought not to deny Communion to those who are properly disposed. There are exceptions however, like this one where those gathered came to Communion with the wrong intention to primarily protest a teaching of the Church.

Our Lord clearly taught that marriage is between one man and one woman. This can even be seen in the creation story in Genesis with Adam and Eve. God created them to bear fruit and multiply. The marital act expressed between a man and woman within the Sacrament of Marriage is always procreative and unitive. We explored this in the homily this past weekend for pro-life Sunday. The female and male bodies were created for unity. It’s a divine teaching that will not change not only expressed within God’s Word but it is also expressed in life through the marital act expressed between husband and wife.  It is this union which can only be life giving…not only physically but also spiritually.

As I said earlier like Archbishop Nienstedt I would deny communion to anyone in that particular situation. While the Archbishop denied them communion He did not deny them the Lord’s blessing. In that situation I would have done the same. With that said if there were groups who do not agree with the Church present who did not participate in the protest but would approach me later I would be happy to have a conversation with them. The Church is not against those who struggle with same-sex attraction. In fact, those who struggle with this are welcome in any Catholic Church throughout the world.

Now there are those “conservatives” who think reaching out to others who struggle with this is wrong. I am a proud Roman Catholic, and I am proud to be a Roman Catholic priest. I believe everything that the Catholic Church teaches is sacred and true. Therefore, I believe with conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman. That will never…ever change! With that said, I have friends who are gay. I love and respect them as children of God. They know where I stand on this issue. We must never forget that many gays and lesbians are good people. Many of them would give you the shirt of their back. As Catholics we need to welcome them into our community to listen to the Word of God. Like everyone they need to hear it! Like those who deny the Church’s teaching on Abortion, Contraception, and Euthanasia, those who engage in marital acts outside the boundaries of the sacrament of marriage ought not to go to receive Holy Communion. The reason for this was outlined above. However, as mentioned they are welcome to worship along with us to be nourished with God’s word.

God bless Archbishop Nienstedt for standing up for the faith and not allowing the moment of the reception of Holy Communion to be a moment of protest. As Catholics may we strive to lead others to Christ, and reach out to those who do not think like we do! We ought not to agree to disagree but rather reach out and show them the love of mercy of Jesus Christ. In our conversations with one another and respecting one another as Children of God, we will lead more people to the path that leads to eternal life.

Homily for Wednesday of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time

“They recognized the grace bestowed upon me.” Listen to that line again, “they recognized the grace bestowed upon me.” If we are struggling this morning to reflect, think about those words that St. Paul wrote to the Galatians. All too often we forget that our words are not enough! Bringing people to Christ requires us to live the faith. By living the faith we show others who Jesus Christ really is and helps them to see clearly the path to eternal life.

Many of us can say to ourselves, “well Lord I come to thank and worship you daily, I am living my faith.” While yes we are practicing our faith which is of course important are we really living it. Our responsorial psalm is a commission and it’s a call from the Lord Himself to go out to the entire world, and tell the Good News. You and I have been given a gift, may we not waste it by keeping it to ourselves. We have been given God’s grace, let’s show others who God really is not only by practicing our faith here in Church but living it in the world!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Homily for Tuesday of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time

The Gospel speaks of a need for balance. We just heard about two women whom probably are familiar to us who gather here this morning. Martha was an active woman. She was a doer, concerned with details. Most of us probably have a Martha tendency within us. Then there was Mary, who spent time sitting at the feet of Jesus. She on the other hand liked to ponder and reflect.

With our vocations there needs to be a balance. Most people have jobs or family responsibilities which makes it difficult often times to recollect. Speaking of my own vocation as a priest I need to be a Martha. To be effective priests we need to be able to relate with our parishioners. We priest need to provide the Sacrament readily to those who ask for them. However we need to be Mary’s too! If we are going to be effective ministers of the Gospel we need to take time and reflect. Our Lord knows we live in a busy world that is why the Church gives us a precept that requires us to attend Mass on Sunday’s and Holy Days of Obligation throughout the year. The Church builds in days to provide for us the opportunity to be those Mary’s we need to be in order to live out our vocations.

Today, we ask the Lord to guide us along the everlasting way. May He teach us how to balance our lives accordingly between good works and prayer!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Homily for Monday of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time…the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi

“The Gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” In writing to the Galatians, St. Paul reminds us of the source of the Gospel we together preach. It is not our own words we speak but rather our Lords!

At times it is easy for us to forget the source of the words we speak. Sometimes we let ourselves get in the way. When we are called to stand up and preach the truth we must remember that it is not our own truth that we are preaching but rather His. This morning may we pray for the courage and strength to accept the Lord’s words as truth and preach it to our fellow brother and sisters!

Saint_Francis_statue_in_garden (St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!)

Today it is customary in many places to have the blessing of animals.  In Chambersburg we did it yesterday as part of LARC (Lutherans, Anglicans, and Roman Catholic) group over in the parking lot of Trinity Lutheran Church down the street from Corpus Christi.  Also yesterday I had the opportunity to bless two dogs on the steps of Our Lady of Refuge our mission over in Doylesburg.  The blessing of animals reminds all of us of our responsibility to care for all of God’s creation. 

our%20lady%20of%20refuge%20headon (St. Mary’s Church in Doylesburg, which is a historic mission to Corpus Christi Church in Chambersburg.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Homily for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Respect Life Sunday)

“The measure of love is to love without measure.” This year’s theme for respect life Sunday reminds each of us that the basic premise for the entire pro-life movement is centered on love. Do we love God and our neighbors? Do we love ourselves as His children? Are we allowing God’s love to be expressed in the world by allowing ourselves to be open to His plan or are we allowing our plans to get in the way of His? These are some of the questions you and me must ponder today!

“Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord.” Unfortunately, many in our society and many within our Church have bought into the lies promulgated by the culture of death. Because of this we are faced with more challenging situations and what is more unfortunate this that many of us don’t see the correlation between the acceptance of the culture of death and things we face today such as the current economic downturn. Think about it, if we close the doors of our hearts to life, how that can affect jobs. Less students, means less teaching positions for teachers and less people means fewer patients for doctors and nurses to treat. Have we ever really thought about that? While there are those who are still scratching their heads trying to figure out a way to stimulate the economy, we know where to find the answer. Listen to these words, all life is sacred from the moment of conception till natural death. Accept God’s plan or be ready to accept the consequences. The more we allow the culture of death to filtrate our society, the faster we are going to self implode.

How often do we do things without considering the consequences? How quick we are at times to write someone or something off! Every action has a consequence whether for the good or for the bad. Don’t listen to the voice of the culture of death but rather listen to God’s voice crying out to each one of us. To those of the Catholic faith who think abortion, contraception and euthanasia are perfectly alright, the Lord wants you to know that you are wrong! Abortion, contraception, and euthanasia are sins. Most of us can recognize why abortion and euthanasia are sins because it is the direct killing of an innocent human life, but there are many who don’t understand why contraception is a sin in fact there are more and more people who use contraception on a regular basis. Why is contraception sinful? Contraception is the closing of one’s heart to the possibility of the procreation of human life. It is sinful because it renders the marital act which is always intended to be unitive and procreative into a dead act and by introducing contraceptives husbands and wives rather than unite themselves separate themselves from one another. One must always remember that there are two elements in procreation, one physical and the other spiritual. While the marital act expressed between husband and wife may not always be physically procreative it is always spiritually procreative. Because contraception causes division between the married couple, it also takes away the opportunity for spiritual procreation to take place. The use of contraception is also dangerous because it encourages individuals who are not married to freely engage in the marital act without consequence. Yes, the marital act expressed between a man and a woman outside of marriage can be physically life giving, it can never be spiritually. Again the marital act expressed within the context of the sacrament of marriage between a man and a woman is always intended to be procreative and unitive.

Let me say a brief word about those who struggle to watch a loved one struggle with illness or advanced age. Even at this stage, life is sacred! Only God Himself can decide when it’s our time to go. Why would we want to rush death? Those who are given a time frame as foreign as this may sound to our ears are really given a blessing because they are given the opportunity to get their affairs in order and say their proper goodbyes. Many of us won’t know the hour when the Lord will call us home. Also those who suffer from Alzheimer’s must be treated with respect. As the disease progresses the individual forgets what happened yesterday but they remember the past as if it were yesterday. Although it was painful to watch my grandmother struggle with this horrible disease because she often didn’t recognize us her grandchildren it was interesting to listen as she told stories from the past. Although it is painful to watch someone we love suffer with this disease they do have something to offer us. Listen to them, absorb their knowledge, many times the events of the past often times holds a key to the future. Suffering is redemptive. Those who suffer unite themselves to the heart of Jesus Christ who suffered out of love for you and me. We are called to offer our crosses up for the Lord and for the needs of others.

To those who struggle with following the teachings of Holy Mother Church and those who may have committed past sins, please know that our Heavenly Father loves you. If there is anyone present who has not repented from a past sin, know that our Lord waits to welcome you back with open arms. Do not be afraid. God is love and He is merciful! God has given us all a gift which we were reminded to stir into flame as we heard in today’s second reading from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy.

My dear brothers and sisters within the prolife movement, listen to these words from the second reading, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” It is not always easy taking a pro-life stand because we often face oppositions from those we love the most. Stay the course, a new day is dawning and the tide is turning back in the Lord’s direction. In your ministry do not look at it as protesting but rather look at it as a form of prayer. Put down those signs, and pick up your rosaries and ask the Blessed Mother’s intercession for the protection of human life in all its stages. Praying silently works more wonders than our posters and signs can ever do! In fact that’s what our opposition wants us to do, thus we must not stoop to their level by moving from prayer into protesting with posters and signs which often detract from the message we wish to convey! Will people mock us for our stance, absolutely, will they try all within their power to interrupt our prayer, absolutely! They will do that because they know, prayer is much stronger than our words. Stay the course! The pro-life movement is young, vibrant alive and well!

“The measure of love is to love without measure.” Remember that line! Today it is not if today you hear his voice, but rather we have indeed heard His voice speaking to us! The question we must ask ourselves now, how are we going to respond to it!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Homily for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time (8:30 AM Mass at Our Lady of Refuge)

The measure of love is to love without measure. Our theme for this Respect Life Sunday is a reminder to each one of us of our call as Christians. As Christians we are called to bring others to Jesus Christ.

In the very first reading taken from the Book of the prophet Habakkuk, we heard in the very last line, “but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” You and I are reminded clearly on this Prop-Life Sunday of the importance of living ones faith. It is unfortunate that many place their faith on the back burner. If more people stood up for the Lord’s commandments the world would be in a better place. Today you and I are faced with challenges and they are challenges that we ourselves got us in. Think about it why are we struggling economically. Why are teachers having a tougher time finding jobs to teach? That’s because there are fewer children. Fewer people also mean less people for doctors and nurses to treat. We are part of the problem. So the question is when we are going to wake up and smell the coffee.

Saint Paul writing to Timothy says, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord.” Today we are challenged to live our faith and not be ashamed of it. As Catholics the Lord calls each one of us to be open to His plan. So often we get wrapped up with our own that we lose sight of His. You and I are called to protect the dignity of all human life from the moment of conception till natural death. Marriage is between one man and one woman. We are called to be open to life in every stage. Close the doors of your hearts to life than you immediately close the door of your hearts to life. Many people are afraid to live their faith, because they are afraid of offending others. We cannot shy away from teaching the truth. Yes we will come up against resistance, especially from those we love the most however, and this is to be expected.

Indeed the measure of love is to love without measure. What we mustn’t forget is that we are called to love unconditionally and that includes those who do not think like we do. That doesn’t mean we have to agree to disagree with them or accept the sinful behavior, what that means is that we love them unconditionally. Everyone is welcome in this house, saints and sinners alike. Today as we reflect on this pro-life Sunday may we ask the Lord for the courage and strength to assist us in bringing others to Him!

BIG WEEKEND COMING UP….

First the fun…

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(Let’s GO RAVENS!!!)

Yes there is a big game this weekend.  My favorite team the Baltimore Ravens take on the Pittsburg Steelers.  It is my hope that the Ravens will come out on top!  However, if they don’t its only a game.  But it is fun to have a little competition.  I am pumped up for the big game.  However, I won’t be able to enjoy it right away.

Now for things of more importance:

Although it is during the same time of the start of the game there is something else that brings me EVEN GREATER EXCITEMENT and that is I have the opportunity to baptize five infants this Sunday bringing them into God’s family!

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There is nothing that brings me greater joy as a priest than to baptize children bringing them to Christ.  After this weekend I will have baptized forty children this year alone and in past two years I have baptized eighty four! 

One of the things I started when I was a deacon and now as a priest is that I keep a notebook with the names of the children I baptize.  I also keep a notebook of the names of those I bury and those whose marriage I witness.  That way when I page through the books I can keep all those individuals is my prayers.

Also this weekend as a Church we celebrate the PRO-LIFE movement.  The pro-life movement is young and vibrant.  Please pray that more and more people may be open to God’s Divine Plan for life.  All life is Sacred from the moment of conception till natural death.  May we as a society always remember that!  This years theme is…the Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.  To be pro-life means that we love unconditionally and I challenge and invite all those within the pro-life movement to do just that…to love unconditionally.  The greatest thing we can do to advance the pro-life cause is by our prayers. 

Finally last but not least the month of October is the month of the Rosary.  I would encourage families to pray the rosary often as possible not only for the strengthening of their own families but also for the strengthening of families throughout our world.  Many of our families are faced with difficult situations and need to discover the power and value of prayer.  The rosary is another powerful tool in promoting the pro-life cause.  As you pray ask the Blessed Mother to intercede on our behalf to her Son for the protection of all human life.  The Blessed Virgin Mary is a powerful intercessor because of her close relationship with the Son.  Seek her help!

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Homily for Friday of the 26th Week of Ordinary Time…the Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

“Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.” These words are a fitting way for us to begin to reflect this morning as we ponder the Word of God and honor St. Therese of the Child Jesus. What can this saint who died very early in her life show us today in 2010.

One of the things St. Therese is known for is her “little way.” St. Therese once said, “Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and doing the least actions for love.” How many of us make spirituality so complex? But aren’t these words from St. Therese so true! Many times you and I can become too focused on a particular style and type of prayer that we begin to lose our focus. If only we recognize more frequently that we have the opportunity to offer praise and sacrifice to God every single minute of the day through our actions, thoughts, and words.

Today, St. Therese shows us a way to the Father through her own simple way. Using the example she demonstrates to us may we simply place ourselves into His divine hands and ask Him to guide us along the path to everlasting life.

 

TeresadiLisieux(Saint Therese, pray for us!)