Sunday, November 28, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Reflection on the Gift of the Priesthood.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POPE-EUCHARIST

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

 

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

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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

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

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

Sincerely in Christ,

Father Carroll

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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

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

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

Homily for the First Sunday of Advent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 19, 2010

Homily for Friday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time

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

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

Homily for Thanksgiving Day 2010

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

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

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

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

Homily for Wednesday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time

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

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

Homily for Tuesday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time

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

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

Homily for Monday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time

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

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

Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King 2010

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memorial Mass for the Deceased Members of the Knights of Columbus

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 15, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Corpus Christi Young Adult Ministry Kick Off…

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

Please tune in for further information pertaining to upcoming events.

Homily for Thursday of the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time

“As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it.” Imagine our Lord Jesus Christ looking down over the world today. Perhaps we would find Him weeping over it as He did the city of Jerusalem. Our world is filled with abuse, hatred and violence. It’s plastered all over the place in the media. How do we change this image, how do we change our society for the better?

In order to make a major impact in changing our society’s mindset first we need to take a look inside our own lives. We cannot change society without first changing ourselves. One of the hang ups we have today is that we don’t allow ourselves to be changed. You and I have an opportunity each day to encounter the risen Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist. Do we recognize Him? Are we allowing Him to truly transform our lives or are we closing the door of our hearts to that possibility of being transformed? One kind act can change the course of everything. As our Lord fills us with His grace today may we allow ourselves to be transformed in order to go forth into the world making every effort to change it for the better!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Homily for Wednesday of the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time the Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungry

“Why did you not put my money in a bank?” This parable has a lot to show us. At times we are given gifts and treasures that we often keep to ourselves. Sometimes its greed, however many times we are like the servant who chooses not to do anything with them out of fear. To be a faithful of Christ at times means that we take chances.

Are we willing to take chances and share the gifts with others? God has given us everything that we have! As we go home this morning take stock of everything that has been given to us and ask the Lord how we can better utilize those gifts better to serve Him!

Homily for Tuesday of the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time

“If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” That is our challenge this morning, to open our hearts completely to Him and allow ourselves to bask in His presence. You and I who gather here each morning may think to ourselves that opening our hearts is really easy. However, we actually have a tougher time with it.

The reason is because in society we may say something in our minds in the intellect but there is no true movement of the heart. Keep your eyes on Jesus; He is here to keep us on the right path. Today look up to Jesus let your eyes meet Him in the Most Holy Eucharist! Let go of everything that distracts you and causes you to lose focus. Keep your eyes on Him and let Him penetrate deep into your hearts. When we do that what we will find is the door of our hearts will open wide to allow Him to work wonders through our lives!

Homily for Monday of the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time

“Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first.” As we prepare to wrap up this liturgical year this quote from the book of Revelation reminds us of the necessity of looking at one’s life constantly. You and I need to be examining our consciences daily to look for ways we can do better and turn away from our sinful ways.

However, we cannot do it on our own and in many ways we are like the blind man in today’s Gospel. You and I need to be constantly calling out to Jesus for help seeking His grace and His help to change. Sometimes the Lord doesn’t respond right away as we hear in the Gospel. At times we need to keep pleading. Now the Lord doesn’t do that to keep us hanging out in the wind, He does it rather to draw out our faith. May we never lose heart when it appears the Lord isn’t answering our prayers! Remember He does answer them according to His time and His will which is not bound by our concept of time. Conversion is a daily process may we take the time to call out to God much like the blind man did in today’s Gospel so that we may experience His healing power!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Homily for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

We are getting much closer to the end that is the end of this liturgical year. Today if we listen carefully to the readings it speaks of the end of time. Listen again to the opening line from the first reading taken the book of the prophet Malachi, “Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all the evildoers will stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch.” Then the reading continues, “But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” This passage clearly illustrates the last judgment when the Lord will return in glory to judge the living and the dead.

Now that should stir up a question within us, who are the dead? Certainly those who have died experienced their judgment. The dead are those who chose to totally reject God while the living, are those who strive daily to follow His will. There will come a day when the Lord will return in glory to judge the whole world. Are you ready; are you ready for when the Lord will come in glory? Ask yourselves that question today. If the Lord of host were to return in glory today to judge the living and the dead would He find us prepared. Often times I get this question, “Father, do you think we are in the end times?” Let me expound upon that thought for a moment. Listen to Jesus and what He says in the Gospel, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,’ and 'the time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end." With that said, yes I do believe we are in the end times. Please do not get up in a fit of hysteria, I am not He! However I can say that with certain amount of certainty because we have been in the end times ever since the Lord’s Ascension into heaven. There is no one here in this room, other than of course the Lord Himself who knows when the last judgment will be. We do not know the day or the hour; we don’t even know the day or the hour when the Lord will call us home. The focus of the readings today is to prepare us for that day and time.

Are we doing everything that we can right now to prepare ourselves for that day? Are we making every effort to follow the Lord and His will? Or are we just continuing to do our own thing. It’s much easier in this day and age to simply do our own thing. I want us to ask ourselves today are we truly happy when we do our own thing? That’s a difficult question for us to answer because in some ways we are because there is some sort of pleasure and satisfaction to being able to do what we want, but is that healthy. What’s the alternative? The alternative is to follow the will of God and following the will of God is not easy. Our Lord reminds each one of us of that in the Gospel for following the will of God leads us to the cross. We might ask ourselves how one might know one is following the will of God. To find the answer to that question we must ask ourselves are we experiencing the cross. For me as a priest I know I am living the priesthood of Jesus Christ well not when I get accolades and praise, but when people complain and criticize. “You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name.” These are the words of Jesus Christ.

Yes the end is near…at least for this liturgical year! Go home today and think about the readings and let us ask ourselves are we doing enough to prepare our heart, mind, and soul for the coming of His kingdom.

Thank You to All those Who Have Served Our Great Nation!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have served our nation over the years.  We all should be very grateful to those who have sacrificed their time and some of them their very lives to protect us from harm. 

As we honor our veterans we also remember in our prayers those men and women who continue to serve our nation at home and abroad! 

May we be always grateful to those who served and those who continue to serve our country.  God bless our veterans and God bless the United States of America!!!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Homily for Tuesday Closing Night of Forty Hours at Saint Ignatius, Theme: The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist

Before I begin I would once again like to thank your pastor Father Ken Smith for inviting me to preach to you these past three evenings. It has been a tremendous honor to come here to this beautiful place to pray with you to our Eucharistic Lord. As always it is great to have my brother priests present and this evening I would also like to thank our shepherd Bishop McFadden for leading our Eucharistic devotions. My dear brothers and sisters of Saint Ignatius Parish please pray for Bishop and we your priests that we may continue to guide and shepherd you modeling the example of the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ. As we pray before our Eucharistic Lord please say a prayer for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Pray for our young people preparing to enter the Sacrament of Marriage and to give strength to those who are already married. Our families are the foundation of the future of the Church.

Let us begin! My brothers and sisters the last two evenings we have had the opportunity to contemplate before our Eucharistic Lord. Sunday night we reflected on the connection between the images of Christ crucified the Eucharist. Every time we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the Liturgy of the Eucharist is directed towards Calvary. We recall the events that led up to the passion and death of our Lord.

Last night our theme was Mary and the Eucharist. She models for us the virtues of humility and trust. Looking briefly at her life we looked at the ways she demonstrated those virtues throughout her life. Recalling the wedding feast of Cana where she said to the servants, “do whatever He tells you.” Our Blessed Mother points us in the direction of her Son and asks us to come to Him and present our burdens and cares before Him.

Tonight using many of those same themes we will speak on the topic of the Real Presence of Christ. There are many Catholics who struggle with the grasping the reality of the Real Presence. This crisis wasn’t caused by a lack of catechesis. The Church’s teaching on the Eucharist hasn’t changed over the years. Perhaps it hasn’t been driven into us as it should have been, but it hasn’t changed. What has caused this crisis in belief? Pope Benedict XVI has been a blessing for the Church because since becoming Pope continuing the work of John Paul II he has been working to recapture some of the sense of tradition that has been lost. On Sunday Night we mentioned one of Pope Benedict’s contributions is that He placed the crucifix directly in the center of the altar to illustrate the connection while the priest elevates the host between the sacrifice of the past with the sacrifice of the present. As we gaze upon the image of our crucified Lord we are reminded that the cross is the means to our salvation.

Another contribution of Pope Benedict’s is that at Papal Masses He invites the faithful to receive Holy Communion in the traditional manner kneeling while on the tongue. In doing so our Holy Father communicates to the entire Church that the reception of Holy Communion in such a manner is still a valid norm for the universal Church. Reception of Holy Communion on the tongue has always been the norm for the Roman Rite, with reception of Holy Communion in the hand granted as an indult in those areas that asked for it. While the Holy Father has not made any legislative changes with the Sacred Liturgy he has made some changes and is leading the Church by his example. Why does the Pope invite the people to receive in the traditional manner? What does kneeling and receiving communion on the tongue signify? Kneeling represents our humility and receiving communion on the tongue represents our trust in the Lord. Yesterday we lifted up the Blessed Virgin Mary as an example of humility and trust. This is an external application of those virtues. Some would be quick to criticize saying that the Church is becoming focused too much on externals. However, we cannot deny that externals are important and necessary, they are important because our external actions can convey an interior reality.

We are a Church that expresses herself through externals. For example why do we place the Sacred Body of Christ in an eloquent monstrance? Have you ever stopped to think about it? The same applies to Sacred Vessels. As a Church we use beautiful vessels to signify that for us here and now the Lord of hosts is glorified in His humility. Our Lord Jesus Christ chose a humble piece of bread and some wine to become the Bread of Life and the Cup of Eternal Salvation.

As Catholics we believe that the Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The loss of recognition in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist has not been caused by a lack of catechesis, because we have always taught the real presence, the problem developed when we took away the external action. External actions and interior movement go hand in hand. If we as Catholics truly recognized the real presence within the Eucharist there would be no question whether we kneel or stand because we would instinctively fall to our knees in the presence of our glorified Lord.

One thing we haven’t spoken of this evening is communion in the hand which has become the norm in so many places. While communion in the hand is widely accepted in so many places throughout the world as clearly stated by the Church communion on the tongue remains the norm for the Roman Rite. Why does the Church stress communion on the tongue? Holy Mother Church stresses communion on the tongue because one it illustrates our humility and trust but also ensures respect for the Sacred Body of Christ. Communion in the hand was introduced in many places as a way to foster greater devotion and as a way to grow closer to the Lord. However throughout the Church the opposite has occurred in many places. Many have lost the reality of the Real Presence and our Lord has become easily accessible to those who wish to mock His presence. While I am not telling those who receive in the hand regularly to change I invite you to consider the norm of the Church and perhaps try it as a way to enhance your own spiritual growth and development.

The theme for this evening focuses on the real presence and we have a moral obligation to look for ways to foster a greater recognition of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Some will be quick to say that the Holy Father is out of touch with reality and this is not the way we do it here. We must remember it’s not about us but rather is about Him. This evening I do not stand before you as a conservative nor as a liberal; I stand before you as a brother challenging and pointing us in one direction towards our Lord Jesus Christ. Our challenge tonight is to grow in appreciation and love of our Eucharistic Lord.

Tonight we gather together to kneel down and worship our Lord in this beautiful Church dedicated to Saint Ignatius Loyola founder of the Jesuits. Saint Ignatius founded the order for apostolic work to spread and teach the Catholic Faith. Saint Ignatius looked to the Pope as the Vicar of Christ on earth and was devoted to bringing our Eucharistic Lord too many. It is with that same mission you and I come here this evening. Not only to seek guidance and direction from our Holy Father but also direction from the Lord Himself. We kneel before the Lord and seek His strength to help us to carry on with that same apostolic mission to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ is those we meet. He is our survival of life; He will fill us with understanding and strength if we ourselves are open to it. Jesus Christ is truly present, the question for us is do we recognize His presence among us?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Homily for the Second Night of Forty Hours at St Ignatius, Theme: Mary and the Eucharist

Last evening our focus was on the crucifix and the Eucharist. As we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass this evening may we be mindful of that connection of the past sacrifice with the current sacrifice taking place on the altar. Tonight we stand at the foot of the cross gazing at the image of Christ crucified. Who else stood at the foot of the cross two thousand years ago? This question leads us to tonight’s theme. We already know the answer. Standing at the foot of the cross was His mother, our mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our theme tonight is Mary and the Eucharist.

For a moment, imagine ourselves in Mary’s position. Imagine ourselves looking up to our brother Jesus…beaten, bruised, and nailed hanging upon the cross. It must have been horrific for the Blessed Mother to have to endure such an ordeal. Parents want the best for their children, and they will do all in their power to protect them from harm. At that very moment she was powerless, she could do nothing to help her only child who was hanging up there on the cross waiting to die. We can’t even begin to imagine what must have been going through her mind as a mother. Why is it that after our discourse yesterday evening focusing on the cross and the Eucharist, that we focus on Mary and the Eucharist?

Like the Blessed Mother we too stand at the image of Christ crucified day after day, week after week. However this evening we gaze that something much more pleasing to the senses, our risen Lord within the Most Holy Eucharist. Two words can best describe the Blessed Mother, humility and trust. It is these two qualities in which we should strive to model. For most of us in 2010 these two words are hard for us to grasp. Why is this that? The answer is because our society puts greater stress on individual achievement. What happens when we put greater emphasis on the individual? It becomes all about me, and what I can accomplish. More and more are we learning to achieve things on our own without the help of others. When this happens we forget how to trust and we forget what it means to be humble.

Humility and trust go hand in hand. For us as Catholics to be humble means to let go of our own wants and desires and follow the path our Lord wishes for us to follow. With humility comes trust, because trust means letting go and allowing ourselves to be led. How many of us can easily allow ourselves to be led by someone else? Most of us would struggle with doing that because our societal attitude is so ingrained in us that it is hard for us to overcome. Look closely at the Blessed Mother. All her life she placed her trust in someone else. As she was growing up Mary had to place her faith and trust in Anne and Joachim to guide and nourish her. Then the day came when the angel Gabriel appeared before her and told her that she was to become the Mother of God. After the angel informed her of the gift that was being bestowed upon her and the gift being bestowed upon her cousin at the same moment, she said, “behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

From that moment Mary shows us what it means to be humble and to have trust. Not long after receiving the joyous news Mary sets out to visit Elizabeth once again placing her wants and desires to the side to care for her cousin. Our Blessed Mother shows us the direction in which we need to go. When Jesus was older at the wedding feast of Cana she told the servants, “do whatever He tells you.” It is these words she speaks to us, “do whatever He tells you.” Mary leads us to the Eucharist, and asks us to come before Him. She invites us to bring our concerns and needs before Him.

As we kneel in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord we ask Him to teach us that humility and trust. Last night we focused on the image of Christ crucified because living our faith requires sacrifice and accepting the crosses that have been handed to us. Tonight our Blessed Mother takes us by the hand and leads us pointing us in the direction of her Son. Life is difficult, filled with many challenges and difficulties but we don’t have to handle them alone. This evening the Blessed Mother gives us a model of humility and trust and it is with that example we come here before our Eucharistic Lord and ask Him for His help carrying those burdens that have been placed upon us. When we can learn to that we will experience something truly beautiful, a sense of joy and peace that the Blessed Mother experienced following God’s will.

Homily for Sunday Night the opening of Forty Hours at St. Ignatius Theme: The Sacrifice of the Cross and the Sacrifice of the Most Holy Eucharist

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My brothers and sisters in Christ it brings me great joy to be with you these next three nights as we contemplate in prayer before the Most Holy Eucharist. As we sit in His presence the next three evenings may we ask to be open to the message that He wishes to convey to us. I wish to express my thanks to your pastor, Father Ken for inviting me to be the homilist for the next three nights.

Tonight I wish to mediate on the theme of the cross and how it relates with the sacrifice you and I have the opportunity to celebrate each day. One of Pope Benedict’s contributions to the Liturgy which can be seen whenever he celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is that the crucifix is placed in the center of the altar. Why is that? What is the significance? In the Extraordinary Form the priest never had his back to the faithful but rather He and the faithful faced the same direction and looked together at the same image of Christ crucified. Pope Benedict by placing the crucifix on the altar reminds each of us of the intimate connection between the cross and the Eucharist which has been unfortunately lost.

What is the Liturgy? We find an answer to this question in the Compendium to Catechism of the Catholic Church. The answer given is this, “the liturgy is the celebration of the mystery of Christ and in particular His paschal mystery.” The Paschal Mystery as we remember is the mystery of our Lord’s life, death and resurrection. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist the liturgy reaches its climax as we recall our Lord’s passion and death on the cross. Tomorrow night, as we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass listen carefully to the words of the consecration. When the priest says the words, “this is My Body which will be given up for you.” Mediate on those words; take them into your heart. Listen carefully to words that conclude the consecration of the precious blood, “do this is memory of me.” In the Liturgy of the Word, the Lord speaks to us, however in the Liturgy of the Eucharist we turn and speak to God. However in the institution narrative (words of consecration) the Lord reminds us in His own words that He continues to offer Himself to us and asks us to do the same. Every time the Sacred Host and precious blood is elevated in the presence of the crucifix we see clearly how the two sacrifices the one offered long ago and the one being offered today are connected.

One thing we need to discuss is our participation in the Liturgy. As a priest I offer the sacrifice of bread and wine given to me by the faithful to consecrate. While I offer this particular sacrifice you too also offer a sacrifice for you offer the very sacrifice of your lives. There is no silent spectator gathered here this evening. Look up here, you and I are gathered in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord. Jesus Christ is present among us. While we might not think that we are doing anything, indeed we are. You and I are conversing with the Lord. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not a mere reenactment of the events that took place over two thousand years ago but rather it is our participation in the event that took place.

Adoration is an extension of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. With our presence here tonight we enter into the Pascal Mystery of Jesus Christ. God has spoken to us in His word and in a few moments we will have the opportunity for a few moments to stop and talk to Him offering back to Him our lives. Another food for thought the Holy Eucharist isn’t intended primarily for adoration and reservation the Holy Eucharist is intended primarily to be received. A few moments ago I mentioned that in the Liturgy of the Eucharist we participate and recall the events that led to the passion and death of our Lord. In the reception of Holy Communion we encounter in a personal way our risen Lord. He comes off the altar like He came down from the cross and greets us. Our Lord gives us Himself to give us the strength we need to move forward each day.

My brothers and sisters, the sacrifice of the past is communicated through the sacrifice of the present. That is why the crucifix placed center on the altar is important and necessary. The Celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist is intimately connected with the cross. Remove the crucifix than we are utterly dismantling our faith brick by brick. As we offer this great sacrifice day after day, week after week may we be reminded of its significance! This evening as we gaze upon the image of our Eucharistic Lord we have the opportunity to converse with Him. Thank Him for giving us the opportunity to adore and receive Him on a regular basis. Ask Him for the strength to carry Him with us into the world showing everyone we meet our Lord’s sacrificial love.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Homily for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Encouragement, what an uplifting word! It’s something that you and I are called to do. We are called to encourage one another to live the faith. Today it is so easy to become discouraged. Flipping through the channels on television, paging through the paper, or surfing the net we are inundated with images and stories of people suffering. Because of this we often to think to ourselves what’s the point. Following Jesus Christ means picking up our crosses and carrying them. What is the point of living our faith if all we are going to do is find suffering along the way?

Society has a problem and the problem is that we try to remove crosses. We don’t see the value in suffering. Yes suffering has meaning. One thing we must keep in mind is that suffering is not the end, in fact it’s only temporary something that we experience here and now on earth. Our crosses come and go but they are important. For suffering teaches us to appreciate the love Christ demonstrated for us by embracing His own cross and secondly suffering affords us the opportunity to be the Christians we are called to be by giving us an opportunity to reach out to those who suffer.

Removing of the Cross is not just a societal problem for it’s a problem we also face within the Church. Many of our Church’s, catholic institutions, and even our homes are removing the image of Christ crucified. We are replacing it with something much happier for instance the image of the resurrected Christ. While many wouldn’t see this as a problem please allow me illustrate why it is. When we remove the crucifix we in essence tear down the faith brick by brick, stone by stone. It is a symbol of hope for the crucifix stands as a reminder of God’s unconditional love. As Christians we know in our hearts through faith that the cross is not the end but the means to the end. The image of Christ crucified should be central in every Church, every Catholic institution or school, and in every home. Without it we become lost! The crucifix is indeed a symbol of hope for us when things get tough for it reminds us that God loved us unconditionally even to the point of embracing His cross. We must be cautious at attempts by some to make the Mass more entertaining and fun. Those who have removed the crucifix and have bought into this idea that the Mass should be more entertaining and fun are often the ones who first lose faith when things get tough. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not a form of entertainment but as its name suggests is a sacrifice. It’s a manifestation of the Pascal Mystery, the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, His sacrifice well as the mutual sacrifice of our lives. At each celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we unite our sacrifices with His.

Life is indeed full of crosses and we shouldn’t spend our time trying to avoid them. We should be encouraged to embrace them for they demonstrate and teach us how to appreciate God’s unconditional love. Do not be afraid of them! Also remember our sufferings afford us the opportunity to help one another. Corpus Christi Church is a generous parish and we have done a lot to reach out to those in need. That was demonstrated this past week with the organization of the Spaghetti Dinner by our school to benefit the Christian Keyes Foundation. Of course we cannot forget our Saint Vincent De Paul society which does a lot to help those in need not just within our parish family but also the surrounding community. These organizations would not have been able to do what they do without your support. Thank you for your generosity and willingness to help those in need.

As we move forward with our lives may we strive to encourage one another to live the faith! By living ones faith and by encouraging others to live their faith and accepting our crosses we will find ourselves filled with joy when the Lord appears to us in glory!

Homily for Friday of the 31st Week of Ordinary Time Mass with the School Children

This week boys and girls the Church celebrated the Feast of All the Saints. On that day as we do today we remember all the Saints in Heaven! As Catholics we believe anyone who is with God in heaven is a saint. A saint is a person just like you and me whom the Lord has called home to be with Him. The Church also honors some by officially naming them a Saint and she does that because of their contribution to the Church and of their willingness to say “yes” to the plan given to them by God. This week alone we had some powerful Saints mentioned, Saint Martin DePorres who reached out to the poor in Peru who was associated with another Peruvian Saint, Rose of Lima who took care of the sick and hungry and spent a lot of time praying before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. We also honored Saint Charles Borromeo yesterday who contributed to the catechism and education of the faithful.

Why should we look and pray to the Saints. We look to them because of the example they gave us in their lives. Like them we are called to follow God. Also we pray to them because they are in a powerful position to intercede or speak to God on our behalf because they are right there with Him. The Saints are very powerful not because they have some sort of magical power but because of their perseverance and the example they gave us they show us how we are to live.

Boys and girls, model your lives after the saints. Do kind things to help each other out. Listen to your parents and your teachers because they are the individuals God Himself placed in your lives to help guide you and help you to grow here and now. Your challenge this week is to look at the lives of the Saints, pray to them, and be Saints yourselves! Be the Saints God has called you to be!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why do we have the Option to Wear Black and Purple for All Souls?

While the readings this morning spoke of hope some might be wondering why we have the option to wear either black or purple vestments. Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints in which we wore white vestments in honor of all those saints in the heavenly kingdom. By wearing white we commemorate their victory over sin and death now that they enjoy the comfort and peace of being in God’s presence.

On the commemoration of the faithful departed we recall all those who have died and are working to gain full entrance into heaven. Today also we recognize our grief. It’s never easy to lose someone we love. The wearing of black or purple vestments is a small acknowledgment of the grief that is our hearts. We must remember externals are important…not that they are the be all and end all but they are important. Externals convey an interior reality and stress what we believe and in this case the exterior (wearing of black or purple) address the pain and void that is in our hearts. While the readings speak of hope it is also important for us to address the grief that is in our hearts caused by the death of a loved one. How can the emotion of grief heal if it is never addressed?

It is important for us to address grief and to stress that it’s a normal emotion one experiences. Often I speak of our society’s attempts to remove the cross. The cross is not something that is to be avoided but rather is something to be embraced and to be run towards. Address grief and stress hope and we can overcome the passing of a loved one and be able to rejoice with them that they now experience something awesome! They are now where we want to be with our Heavenly Father in paradise.