Because of the impending winter weather the Course on Prayer being offered at Corpus Christi Church from 6:30-8:30PM has been postponed for Tuesday February 1st 2011. Our first class will be next Tuesday February 8th.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
“Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters, not many of you were wise by human standards, not may of you were powerful, and not many were of noble birth.” Saint Paul continues in his letter to the people of Corinth, “Rather God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something.” This passage happens to be on of my favorite writings of Saint Paul; in fact I would say it got me through seminary.
It is one of my favorite passages because if we get to the very heart of this passage we realize that it can be applied to each one of us. The very first words, “consider your own calling,” remind each of us that we have a mission from God. Yes we all have a calling! The Lord calls us to a particular vocation yet today how easy it is for us not to appreciate it. My fear for our society is that we are simply losing sight of everything. Married couples, do you recognize the gift that the Lord has given you in your families. Do you see your vocation to the married life as a vocation given to you by God? Husbands and wives getting past those occasional arguments that arise, do you see God in one another? I believe if more people sat down and really considered their marriage as a vocation given to them my almighty God the divorce rate in this country and all over the world wouldn’t be so high. Married couples are called to live their vocation faithfully the way God intends by giving witness to others.
Everyone here has a mission and that mission is this to allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine. We allow our Lord’s light to shine bright when we put out wants and desires aside and do what He wants us to do. Now we need to be careful, we cannot let the mission of the Church take us away from our vocations. By that I mean yes we need catechists…yes we need some ministers to assist the priest in taking communion to the sick, however that should not prevent an individual from living out their true vocation. I have known many good people who get overly involved with ministries within the Church that it puts a strain on their marriage. This my brothers and sisters is not what God intends. What our Lord intends for us is that we live our vocations faithfully. God places opportunities each and everyday for us to be ministers of the Gospel. Be careful my brothers and sisters not to lose sight of your true vocation. Now I don’t want to sound like as a priest I don’t want volunteers, because I do. Speaking as a priest I need your help, but it is ok to say “no.” Most people have families and that is your primary obligation. I want people to be involved but I don’t want people to become overly involved to the point where it takes you away from your primary vocation that is your families. That is the point I want to make. As members of the faithful you are called to evangelize and you do that most importantly through your witness by the way you live your lives.
If we listen to the first reading and the Gospel we can pick out one word and that is the word “humility.” The word “humble” is a word that we cannot hear enough. So often you and I go about doing our own thing that we lose sight of what the Lord is calling out for us to do. When it comes to living our faith it cannot be my way or the highway, but rather we need to seek the Lord and do it His way! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what is wrong with our world today, the problem lies with us. We are spending to much time doing it our way and when it comes to our faith our way is simply staying on the couch. Yes we might come to Church each week but are we living our faith outside this hour each Sunday? My brothers and sisters how much time are you taking each day to pray together as a family? How many of us are afraid to discuss our faith with others even members of our own family out of fear of being rejected and ridiculed. What’s wrong with talking about our faith? Faith is a gift and gifts are meant to be shared. Today we need to be discussing our faith more because there are plenty of other things out there that simply doesn’t need to be out there. Before my ordination I worked in the work force and often times when I went to work I felt like I was in a middle of a horrible soap opera. Enough said, we don’t need to go in to details. If we take religion out discussion do you see what we are left with?
Today is the day we should start living our faith. Some one might say Father C. I struggle constantly with trying to be humble. My first response would be, don’t we all! Who here doesn’t struggle with humility? How do we learn how to be humble so that we can live out our vocations?with the Lord in prayer? Here is a suggestion, take a holy hour over there in the chapel at least once a week as you know we are always looking for people to take an hour. It’s perfectly quiet and you have the opportunity to place yourselves in the presence of Almighty God. You can talk to Him privately in prayer or if you have nothing to say at the moment you could simply sit staring up at Him and let Him stare back loving at you. There is no better way to learn humility than that my brothers and sisters…no better way to learn than at the foot of the Master. Prayer before the Lord also helps us in living out our true vocations. It is there where we have the opportunity to gain spiritual strength, guidance and lasting peace. Seek my brothers and sisters the Lord and let Him guide you!
Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of God is theirs! Consider your vocations my brothers and sisters…may we always seek to do the Lord’s will!
Listen to these words from the first reading, “do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense. You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.” Two words we should focus on are the words “confidence” and “endurance.”
When it comes to our faith we should remain confident that God hears and answers our prayers. Perhaps not the way would like but He does indeed hear and answer them. Endurance comes in because when we live our faith it comes with a price and the price is the cross. Carrying the cross is not easy therefore we need to condition ourselves to carry them. How do we condition ourselves? That happens when we place our complete faith and trust in God. Keep focused…keep working on building your relationship with God through prayer…these are ways in which we not only build up our confidence in our Lord’s power but also builds up endurance within ourselves to embrace those crosses of life and carry them so that we may reach our final destination.
Remember my brothers and sisters that the salvation of the just comes from the Lord. Keep your eyes focused on the Lord and not only will you build your confidence in Him but you will also grow in endurance to carry those crosses which ultimately lead to our salvation.
My brothers and sisters in Christ today we seek the Lord through living lives of love and good deeds. Every time we keep ourselves focused on the Lord our lamps are refueled and the light that is within each one of us gets brighter.
Our challenge today is to keep our hearts and minds focused on the Lord. Today’s saint Angela Merici was orphaned at the age of ten. She would go on to found the Ursulines, which was the first teaching order especially to young girls. Her mission was to re-evangelize families through the education of future wives and mothers. May we follow her example by helping others get to know our Lord so that His light may sign ever brighter in the world!
Yesterday hundreds of thousands of individuals gathered in our nations capital to give witness to the sanctity of human life. Our parish took down a bus of around fifty people who braved the cold for several hours to stand with people from across the country. May we all stand up for the right of life not only in our witness in events such as these but also through our prayers.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Only a day after many people gave a peaceful prayerful witness for life in Washington D.C. and others prayed at home for the protection of the unborn we gather back here to together to commemorate the conversion of Saint Paul. The feast of the conversion of Saint Paul is one of hope, especially for us sinners. At the same time however, it is one that carries a clear message and that is we are never to write anyone off. Everyone can change and that is what we must keep in mind.
Saint Paul was a persecutor of Christians causing the death of many of them. Yet with God’s divine grace he was able to change. Food for thought how many of us write people off for less? In my experience I have known people who have been written off by family members and friends because of some of the things they struggle with. Even these individuals can have a change of heart; all they need is to be shown the love of Jesus Christ. Our call today is for each of us not only to recognize our sinfulness but also to show others the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior. While at times it is not easy with God’s divine grace it is very much possible!
“So also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.” It is with those words we begin our reflection on this Monday of the third week of ordinary time and the obligatory memorial of St. Francis De Sales. Today’s saint strived to bring people back to the Church through his personal life and prayers.
It is fitting my brothers and sisters that on this very day in a few short hours a group of parishioners and myself will be giving a peaceful witness in defense of life in our nation’s capital. Our group will be joining other people from the Diocese of Harrisburg and others from across the nation to pray for an end of abortion. It is not a true march but rather a witness for life. This isn’t a time for harsh words and name calling but an opportunity to join together in prayer. As you go home today, I ask that you pray for us who travel down to Washington D.C. but I also ask you to pray for the souls of all those affected by the sin of abortion. May our witness in the nation’s capital and your prayers change all hearts leading them to our Lord and Savior!
Friday, January 14, 2011
Ecce Angus Dei…Behold the Lamb of God! May these words which we hear said regularly at each celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass resonate stronger in each one of our hearts! These very words which are said at each celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass were the very words John the Baptist spoke as we just heard in the Gospel as the Lord approached Him.
Why was the Lord approaching John the Baptist? Obviously, Jesus was approaching John to be baptized, but there is more. Why was Jesus being baptized? Listen once again to John the Baptist words at the end of the Gospel, “I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whoever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” John was called to prepare the way for Jesus Christ and with John’s baptism our Lord was thus revealed to all as God’s beloved Son!
Last week we focused on the Sacrament of Baptism as we commemorated the Baptism of the Lord. This week I want to address a crisis that is developing and that is more and more people delaying baptism for their children. In the homily we stressed the importance of infant baptism but we did not address what is becoming more prevalent within the Church this notion of delaying baptism to later. One reason for this is perhaps more children are being raised up in households where their parents come from different faith traditions. Yet this isn’t the true problem. The true problem has developed because our younger generation doesn’t take their faith seriously as they should. Quoting from the homily last week, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 1250, “Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God.” It goes on to say in that very same paragraph, “The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.” Therefore, by delaying the sacrament of baptism till later we are denying them a gift that our Lord wants to bestow upon them.
Today our Lord Jesus Christ is walking towards us in the very same way He approached John the Baptist. The questions we are left with are we going to accept the Lord as He comes towards us or are we going to head in the opposite direction. Our Lord wants a relationship with us, He wants to bestow upon us His grace yet because of our own stubbornness we deny ourselves and in some cases others that awesome gift. The Lord says to us, “I will make you a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Indeed the light is in us and it was instilled in us at our baptism! Are we using that light to its fullest potential or we allowing others to receive that light? Our responsorial psalm was, “here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.” That should be our response! Our response should never be “here am I, Lord; I come to do your will as long as it doesn’t conflict with mine.” Today the Lord Jesus Christ will meet you in the Eucharist and will look you straight in the eye, what are you going to tell Him. Are we going to cooperate with His plan making His salvation known to the ends of the earth?
Ecce Angus Dei, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! As you hear these words may they echo louder in your ears! Jesus Christ is walking towards you today, what is your response going to be?
On May 1st Pope Benedict XVI will formally beatify Pope John Paul II. As John Allen in an interview with CNN pointed out May 1st has great significance. It happens to be Divine Mercy Sunday which John Paul II had a great devotion. Another great devotion of the late Holy Father was to the Blessed Mother. May begins the month of Mary. Therefore, it is truly fitting that May 1st be the day in which John Paul II becomes blessed.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
“Encourage yourselves daily while it is sill today, so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.” There are a couple of things that we can take from this verse taken from the first reading from the letter to the Hebrews. The first thing we hear is the word encouragement. You and I are called to be constantly encouraging one another to live the faith. If we listened carefully the last couple days our focus in these liturgies has been on encouraging one another to live the faith, to forgive sins, to see the redemptive element in human suffering, and to recognize the great gift that has been bestowed upon us in the Most Holy Eucharist.
The second part of this verse is the reason why we should be constantly encouraging one another. Listen again “so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.” We live in a world that is often afraid to live one’s faith. Unfortunately, this attitude has contributed to the breakdown in our societies morals. If we let our faith remain silent there is no other alternative and the cloud of darkness begins to spread. However, that darkness is dissipated when the Lord’s words are spoken. May we always strive to speak the Lord’s encouraging words to one another allowing the light of Jesus Christ shine forth!
One of the suggestions for today’s liturgy was to offer a votive Mass of the Most Holy Eucharist. Three days into ordinary time it is interesting to see how we focus on three things the forgiveness of sins, those who are sick, and now on the Eucharist. For us who take advantage of the opportunity to gather here for daily Mass belief in the Eucharist is not necessarily an issue. However, in the world in general there is a crisis in the clear recognition of the real presence.
Together we said, “The Lord remembers his covenant forever.” Indeed the Most Holy Eucharist is the way in which the Lord continues to be with us. Our challenge today my brothers and sisters is not only for ourselves to grow in a deeper appreciation for our Eucharistic Lord but also to help others to grow in that same appreciation. Jesus Christ is our survival of life, He is our life line. May we always be grateful for that great gift which will remain with us forever!
In only our second day of ordinary time our scripture readings focus on suffering. We read in the first reading “but we do see Jesus crowed with glory and honor because He suffered death.” Suffering can be and is redemptive. Of course tell that to someone who is suffering. Yet there is plenty of truth to that statement and the world saw a powerful example of that in Pope John Paul II.
Suffering is not easy and that is a fact. Human suffering on one hand can help bring us closer to the Lord. When we embrace our suffering we formally unite them, in a unique way, to His. That is what is meant by redemptive suffering is that it formally can bring us closer to Christ. Not only does suffering formally bring the one who is suffering to Christ, it can also give those who care for them that very same opportunity. Yet despite what we say it doesn’t change the fact that suffering is never easy. That is why in today’s liturgy we pray for those who are sick. Through our prayers may we ask the Lord to be with them! Perhaps we might know others who suffer in other ways and may we remember them in our prayers as well. God is indeed merciful! May we help others to see the redemptive element in all human suffering!
“Repent and believe in the Gospel.” It is with those words we open our brief reflection on the word of God. You and I are called constantly to conversion to turn away from our sinful ways and return to a life of grace. The second part of that is that we are called to believe in the Gospel. As a family of faith we have just wrapped up our Christmas celebration in which we celebrated the manifestation of His love.
The prayers of this particular liturgy focus on the forgiveness of sins. God becoming man was the greatest act of love the world has ever known. When you and I forgive one another and accept that call from God striving to live a life of holiness, we continue to demonstrate to the world our Lord’s merciful love. In our prayers this morning may we ask the Lord for His guidance in helping us to forgive one another!
Many Catholic’s often wonder if Jesus was indeed the Son of God why was it necessary for Him to be baptized by John. As we heard in the Gospel when our Lord Jesus Christ came up from the water the Spirit of God descending like a dove came down and said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” On the day of His baptism it was revealed to us who Jesus is, the Beloved Son of God.
Other Church scholars such as Saint Ignatius of Antioch and Saint Ambrose offer this reason for the baptism of the Lord. They believed Jesus was baptized not to be cleansed, but to sanctify and bless all the waters of the world. This would explain why when we baptize in cases of emergency that we can use plain ordinary tap water. In allowing Himself to be baptized in the Jordan River our Lord indeed blessed all the waters. Of course this is only one interpretation. We mustn’t forget that the Lord being baptized by John also stresses clearly the importance and significance of this sacrament.
Jesus was baptized as an adult; however the Sacrament of Baptism confers a grace that even young infants can receive. Many of our Christian brothers and sisters defer baptism to later in life allowing the individual to make the choice to become a Christian or not. In conversations with individuals from other denominations they get hung up on the fact of the desire of the individual. In their tradition the individual themselves should make the decision to become baptized. They ponder looking at our Catholic faith how we can baptize a child who has little understanding of what happens. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 1250, “Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God.” It goes on to say in that very same paragraph, “The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.” Thus, the Church stresses infant baptism is important and necessary.
In the Roman Catholic Church there are three types of baptism. We have already mentioned one baptism by water. The other two are baptism of blood and baptism of desire. Baptism of blood occurs when one who is not baptized suffers death for the sake of the faith. In regards to the other type of baptism “For catechumens who die before their baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the Sacrament,” this is the baptism of desire.
Another question that pops up often is what happens to children who die prior to receiving the Sacrament of Baptism. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church Holy Mother Church expresses that “the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused Him to say, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism.” Speaking for myself, in these cases although we say that we entrust them to the abundant mercy of God, if a child is baptized through the faith and desire of the Church and the parents, could we not apply baptism of desire? However in this same paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says clearly, “all the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of Holy Baptism.” The Sacrament of Baptism should not under any circumstance be delayed.
On the feast of the Holy Family this past year we reminded parents of their most grave obligation to bring their children up in the practice of the faith. Our Lord wants to instill His divine grace in these little ones and any movement on our part to keep that from happening is a failure on our part to cooperate with the will of God. Today on this feast of the baptism of the Lord we recognize the importance of this sacrament that allows us to become members of God’s Holy Family. May we all strive to live our baptismal calling by bringing others to Him!
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Our Lord Jesus Christ reveals Himself to the people in the synagogue. Taking the scroll He read directly from the prophet Isaiah and then rolled it back up and told everyone there that “today this scripture passage has been fulfilled in your hearing.” In this passage our Lord directly revealed Himself. Jesus told them that He was the one “sent to proclaim liberty to captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.
Every single day the Lord reveals Himself in one way or another and many of the ways He reveals Himself is through each of us. When we do good works we make known the love and mercy of God. It says in the Gospel that after He was done, that they “were amazed at the gracious words that came from His mouth. When we show others the compassion and love of God people yet today are overcome with amazement. That is why we must continue to strive for holiness centering our lives on Jesus Christ. May we make every effort to adore the Lord by living a life of holiness and striving to show others God’s compassion and love which He has for each and every one of us.
After feeding the five thousand, our Lord went off to the mountain to pray. This very line in Mark’s Gospel shows us the importance of making some sort of spiritual retreat. For many people they are unable to get away for a long period of time; however it is necessary for ones spiritual growth to take a few moments during the day to pray. A spiritual retreat doesn’t have to be a few days; it can also be a few minutes within the day.
Today’s epiphany is this, it is necessary for us to spend time in prayer taking the time to reflect and give thanks to God for the many gifts and blessings that have been given us. Our saint for the day, Saint John Neumann shows us the importance of prayer. It was his prayer life that sustained him in his ministry to the people of Philadelphia. He showed us with prayer we can accomplish anything. That is what we must remember today.
Today’s first reading is short but yet it is so profound. “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” That is today’s epiphany that our God is love and that He expressed that love on the very day our Lord Jesus Christ was born in the manger.
With that said we need to ask ourselves how we are showing others God’s endless love. Today in the USA we remember Saint Elizabeth Seton who dedicated herself to the education of the poor. That was her mission in life. Each one of us gathered this morning has a mission. May we reach out showing others the love of God!
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton…pray for us!
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord…Happy New Year! These words were issued to you a few weeks back on the First Sunday of Advent, however I issue them again as we enter into a brand new calendar year.
Food for thought…how many of us make a New Year’s resolution? Let’s follow that up with another question…how many of us succeed in keeping our New Year’s resolution? I’ll be honest I made a News Years resolution last year to lose some weight. As many of my parishioners can attest that hasn’t happened yet. My point is many of us make New Year’s resolutions that we do not keep, so why do we continue to make them. As we celebrate today with great joy the solemnity of Mary the Mother of God let’s not make a New Year’s resolution that we are going to fail at but rather make it a point to have a New Year’s revolution. Mary the Mother of God said “yes” which allowed mankind to receive the greatest gift of all our Savior Jesus Christ. Let’s make it a point to continue to strive to make Jesus Christ the center of our lives. May He be at the center of everything that we do! Families take some time to pray together each day for a few moments. Make our Lord and His divine family the center of yours. In the world, whether that be with our neighbors or our co-workers or even some random member we meet on the street let’s strive to show them the love of Christ. We need to make ourselves attentive that we have the opportunity to demonstrate the love and mercy of God all throughout the day.
If one looks at numbers the Church grows every Easter. People are constantly joining the Church. Yet if one looks at weekly Church attendance only a small percentage join us for Mass each week. That is why I say we need a revolution. Faith is a gift, and it’s a gift that is not meant to be kept to oneself but rather is meant to be shared. Are we willing to live our faith boldly in a world that is so eager to squash it? On this Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God there is nothing that would please the Blessed Mother more than to renew our faith in Jesus Christ. She said “yes” submitting herself to God’s divine plan which brought the world its Savior. Her very life points in one direction that is toward Jesus Christ and that’s what she wants to do for us…to bring us to her Son!
Another thing that would please our Blessed Mother is that today as we honor her that we take the time to honor our parents. If it weren’t for our parent’s “yes” you and I would not be here at this moment. I wouldn’t be writing this blog and you wouldn’t be reading it. Whether our parents are here still with us on earth or in the eternal kingdom let’s take a moment to pause and say “thank you” to them.
As we celebrate a new calendar year let’s make it a point to do two things. One to be grateful for our parents who modeled the Blessed Virgin Mary’s “yes” for giving us the gift of life and allowing us to fulfill our earthly vocations. Secondly, to renew our commitment to make Jesus Christ the center of everything we say and do. This brothers and sisters in Christ should be our New Year’s revolution!