Saturday, May 28, 2011

Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

“Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.” Although this passage is in clear reference to the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection we can apply it to ourselves today in 2011. How? It applies to our calling, for we are called to sacrifice our fleshly desires meaning our wants and sacrifice them for the good of all. As Saint Peter said in the letter, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, that for doing evil.” There is plenty of truth in this passage because many times doing the will of God comes with a cross.

Jesus said in the Gospel, “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to Him.” Follow and look to Jesus my brothers and sisters! He is giving us the direction we need in order to experience the fullness of life. Do not think for a single second that because Lent is over that we should forget about the sacrament of penance. We should be constantly utilizing that awesome sacrament. Yes the Sacrament of Reconciliation is an awesome sacrament. It might not seem awesome especially when we have to humbly kneel down and confess our sins. However, something awesome takes place every time and it’s what Easter is all about and that is Resurrection. Every time we get up off the kneeler or out of the chair in the confessional we rise up anew freed from sin. You and I experience a true resurrection. It is in that awesome sacrament and in the other sacraments of the Church where He reveals Himself to us!

Now in the first reading we have the account where we hear how Peter and John went down to Samaria and laid hands on them which they received the Holy Spirit. My brothers and sisters no one needs to come down and lay hands on us because the Spirit is already in us. However, we need to let the Spirit do His work and the only way we can let that happen is if we ourselves allow it! How do we let the Spirit work wonders? The answer is by getting rid of those pesky road blocks known as sin. We need to let go of ourselves and place our complete trust in Him. One of the biggest problems we face in society in terms of spiritual growth is that many individuals let themselves get in the way. It isn’t about what you think, it is certainly not about what I think but rather it’s about what He thinks. My brothers and sisters it’s not about us, it’s all about Him!

One of the things we often hear people say, “I don’t like this” or “I don’t like that,” or “I don’t know if I can do this or that.” Well bingo there is the problem the first word begins with “I.” When it comes to our faith and growing in it we need to stop thinking of ourselves and start thinking about Jesus. It’s time we start looking beyond ourselves for the true answers. Our responsorial psalm was, “let all the earth cry out to God with joy,” but that isn’t possible my brothers and sisters unless we let go of our own selfish desires. Do we want to experience true liberation? May we then put to death our desires of the flesh and allow the Spirit to raise us up! Listen and look to that image of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, listen and look to Jesus Christ who is present body, blood, soul and divinity in the tabernacle…He is our true liberator!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Homily for the Closing of Forty Hours (Marysville/Duncannon)

On the first night we gathered here we focused on the connection between the crucifixion and the Eucharist. Yesterday in Duncannon our focus was on Mary and the Eucharist where we focused on her role and example. Mary represents a model of humility and trust. The Blessed Sacrament my brothers and sisters also represents humility. Bread represents a common source of nourishment, but it also represents humility for the Lord chose a humble piece of bread to become the bread of life. The Lord is glorified in His humility and looking to the altar that belief is clearly expressed where we see the Body of Christ placed in a magnificent monstrance. Tonight as we close our forty hours devotion I wish to talk about the real presence of Christ.

Jesus Christ is truly present within our midst. He is right there on altar. Most of us know that because that is why we are here. However, looking at statistics there are many Catholics who come to Church week after week who don’t really believe that is Jesus. Yes unfortunately this is true because if more people really believed that our Lord Jesus Christ was here with us in the Eucharist, people would be skipping band, t-ball, baseball, softball, soccer practice, and scouts to be here this evening. Who in their right mind would miss this opportunity to greet and meet their Lord? My question to you is where are they? Why aren’t they here this evening? The real problem is this, a lack of believe in the real presence. If people truly believed that this is the Christ, no one would miss this awesome opportunity. In fact you probably wouldn’t be able to find a seat in this Church and perhaps a crowd even spilling into the streets. This is the problem we face today.

How did we get here and how can we recapture what has been lost? Once again we turn our attention to the Holy Father. Pope Benedict in papal liturgies has reintroduced the traditional practice of giving communion kneeling and on the tongue. Now this practice was never abandoned by the Church after the Second Vatican Council. In fact the universal norm of reception of Holy Communion is on the tongue, and in many places throughout the world people still kneel. In the document Memoriale Domini which was issued by Congregation of Divine Worship in Rome in 1969 it says;

A change in a matter of such importance, which rests on a very ancient and venerable tradition, besides touching upon discipline can also include dangers. These may be feared from a new manner of administering Holy Communion: they are a lessening of reverence toward the noble Sacrament of the altar, its profanation, or the adulteration of correct doctrine.

It is fair to say that many of these have occurred. Today we face a lack of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lord is more accessible to our enemies who wish to mock Him, we have seen Him sold on EBAY, and finally today we are faced with crises in the belief of real presence. In the document after His Holiness Pope Paul VI polled the bishops of the world whom the majority felt there should be no change in the manner of the way the faithful receive communion it says clearly;

After he had considered the observations and the counsel of those whom "the Holy Spirit has placed as bishops to rule" (11) the Churches, in view of the seriousness of the matter and the importance of the arguments proposed, the Supreme Pontiff judged that the long received manner of ministering Holy Communion to the faithful should not be changed.

Thus, the document stresses that the Church hasn’t changed her thinking on the way communion is received. However the document did make the concession in places where communion in the hand was introduced that in may continue with permission of the Holy See, and that people be properly catechized on the proper way to receive Him.

Now we have a norm set here by the United States Conference of Bishops. In the United States we have been granted a privilege of allowing the faithful to receive in the hand while standing. Although I will be stressing the universal norm of the Church I want to be clear to those receiving in the hand that I am not telling you must start receiving on the tongue. There are many people who today receive our Eucharistic Lord reverently in the hand. However, we must understand it is a privilege not a right, and for those who receive in this manner must be reminded to do so with profound reverence. So often today we see many interesting ways of receiving communion in the hand. We have the grabbers, we have those who have their hands down low, and those who receive one handed and put our Lord in their mouths like they are swallowing a pill. When I teach our young people about receiving in the hand I teach them to hold out their hands chest level and make a throne for the Lord. You and I mustn’t forget we are receiving the king of kings. This isn’t a piece of bread we are receiving but Jesus Christ Himself!

Going back to Pope Benedict and the way he invites the faithful to receive communion we must understand that He isn’t taking the Church back forty plus years but rather is reclaiming a tradition that was abandoned. Before we can move forward genuinely in any liturgical movement we need to look back at tradition. There is something to be said about the act of kneeling and the act of receiving on the tongue. What does kneeling signify? It certainly signifies reverence but more importantly it represents humility. Kneeling demonstrates our willingness to humble ourselves before the Lord. Now what does reception on the tongue represent? How many of us have ever fed a baby a bottle? Many years ago when we were infants we trusted our parents to feed us. Receiving on the tongue signifies trust. When one receives communion on the tongue it demonstrates their willingness to trust God to nourish them. Some might be sitting and saying to themselves, “Father you are focusing too much on externals.” Think about this, what do we say to our children often as they grow up, “actions speak louder than words.” External actions are important, because after a while they will convey an interior reality. Our actions convey what we truly believe, so therefore they are important and cannot be dismissed.

My brothers and sisters I once again stress I am not suggesting those who receive in the hand to start receiving on the tongue, unless the spirit is actually moving you to do so. Now people will say that Jesus said “Take and eat.” Is this passage referring to an actual taking an eating? I really don’t think so; I think we can make this simple passage more profound. For our benefit let’s switch the words for moment to “eat and take.” When we receive Holy Communion we should allow the Lord to completely nourish us. Now that we have received Him we should “take” Him with us into the world. These past few days we have had the opportunity to spiritually receive our Lord, and from here having received the Lord’s many grace and blessings we are called to take Him with us into our communities. If you remove God from the picture the cloud of darkness runs rampant. When we take Him with us into the world that cloud begins to dissipate and disappear. My brothers and sisters we have before us the real presence of Jesus Christ right here on the altar. What a gift! Now He asks us to take that gift which is the knowledge of this truth and share it.

Indeed we have a lot to be thankful. We give thanks to the Lord for calling us to be here throughout these three days and giving us the opportunity to grow in faith. These days were given to us by the Lord, may we leave here utilizing all the gifts and graces that have been bestowed upon us for the greater glory of His name!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Homily for Monday of Forty Hours (Marysville/Duncannon)

Yesterday evening in Marysville we began our reflection on the connection between the crucifix and the Eucharist. Here on this very altar we can see the connection clearly with the image of the crucifix situated behind the Blessed Sacrament. “This is my body which will be given up for you (pointing to the crucifix); this is my body which will be given up for you” (pointing towards the Blessed Sacrament). Tonight I want to go back to that scene thousands of years ago on that very day as our Lord Jesus Christ as he hung upon the cross. We want to turn our attention to one of the individuals who stood by Jesus’ side during His whole ordeal, His mother Mary. This leads us to our theme, Mary and the Most Holy Eucharist.

What is Mary’s connection to the Eucharist? For us to be able to grasp Mary’s connection to the Eucharist we first need to understand what Mary’s role is, and how she serves as an example to us. Let’s start by looking at Mary’s role in the Church. Her primary role as the Mother of God is to lead us to her beloved son. Look at the rosary, a devotion that many of us pray daily. Have we ever stopped to ponder the all mysteries of rosary? Out of all the decades of the rosary, how many are focused on Mary? Two…the last two mysteries of the Glorious mysteries are focused on Mary. All the other mysteries are focused on the life of Jesus. A beautiful image that illustrates the Blessed Mother’s role in the Church is this, think of a parent taking their child’s hand as they walk across the street or walk together in a crowed mall. When we pray the rosary and move our hands through the beads we are taking the Blessed Mother’s hands and she guides us in the direction of her beloved Son.

Now that we have established her role in the Church what is the example she represents to us. Our Blessed Mother stands as a model of humility and trust. It certainly wasn’t easy for her to watch as her Son was being condemned, forced to carry a big wooden cross, mocked, and crucified. Those of you who are parents can understand this feeling. Most parents if their child was in trouble would instinctively what to defend their child. However, Mary didn’t painful as it was. She watched as her Son carried the cross to Calvary enduring everything He had to go through. Throughout all of this she was placing her trust into God’s divine plan. Then as her Son hung upon the cross she was right there with Him every step of the way.

Tonight as you continue to contemplate before our Lord Jesus Christ look to His mother, let her be a model of humility for you. We all need an example of humility. When we hit a road block in our faith most of the time it is because of ourselves. You and I let ourselves get in the way of our faith development. Today more than ever we need the Blessed Mother to guide us to her Son. Finally today on a practical level many people are having a difficult time. Some individuals are having a difficult time finding work to provide for the needs of their family. Gas prices are on the rise putting a dent into our wallets. Finally many people are struggling to cope with different aliments. No matter what the case may be when we are faced with a cross it is certainly difficult. In today’s world we attempt to run away from those crosses. Did Jesus run away from His cross? Look at Mary, did she run away from her Son’s side? In both cases the answer is no. When things are difficult we should never run away but instead address them and place our trust in Him.

These forty hours devotions provide us an opportunity to grow closer to Him. We all have some sort of crosses we bring with us. Come to Him right here and place those crosses into His hands. Every time we gather before Him we have an opportunity to do just that. Not only that I want you to image being in the Blessed Mother’s position that very day as her Son hung upon the cross. At this very moment each of us are in her shoes because we are gathering at the feet of her Son who is with us in the Most Holy Eucharist. This is Jesus my brothers and sisters. Open your hearts and minds to Him. Ask Him for the strength needed to embrace those pesky crosses in your lives. Don’t be afraid! Let Mary take you by the hand leading you to her Son. Sit at His feet and humbly place yourselves into His hands and trust what God has in store for you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Homily for Sunday Forty Hours (Marysville)

My brothers and sisters in the Lord it is a great joy for me to be with you as we celebrate our Eucharistic Lord in this period of forty hours. This special devotion provides us an opportunity to take a break from our crazy schedules in order to spend quality time with Him in prayer. May we make every effort during these next three days to deepen and our relationship with the Lord as we adore Him on the altar!

Before I begin please allow me this brief opportunity to introduce myself to you. My name is Father Keith Carroll and I am currently assigned as parochial vicar at Corpus Christi in Chambersburg. Having grown up in York I went to school at St. Rose of Lime and graduated from York Catholic High School in 2000. After spending one year at Penn State York I began my seminary studies at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia where I graduated in 2005 and completed my seminary studies at Mount Saint Mary’s. God willed it that on the 6th of June I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ on the very day 28 years earlier I was born.

Tonight I want to begin by focusing on the connection between the crucifix and the most Holy Eucharist. In the last couple years if you have seen Masses celebrated by our Holy Father he has asked that the crucifix to placed on the center of the altar. Some make the argument that the crucifix blocks the view of the Eucharist. Quoting directly from English translation of Pope Benedict’s book Spirit of the Liturgy which he wrote several years before becoming our Holy Father, “Moving the altar cross to the side to give an uninterrupted view of the priest is something I regard as one of the truly absurd phenomena of recent decades.” Why would he refer to this so strongly? The reason for it is because the crucifixion and the celebration of the Eucharist go hand in hand. Every time we gather together to celebrate to these sacred mysteries here and now we recall the ultimate sacrifice that took place thousands of years ago.

Listen to these words, “take this all of you and eat it, this is my body which will be given up for you.” Raising the host he elevates it looking directly to the crucifix. Here we see a profound connection. When each of us gazes at the image of our crucified Lord we are reminded that our Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed His actual body for our sake. Now I invite you to mediate on these words which we hear so often, “take this all of you and drink from it, this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, which will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven do this in memory of me.” That final part for the consecration of the wine is a reminder for each of us that the mysteries we celebrate each day is connected to the ultimate sacrifice of the cross and that we are to gather to together as one family and celebrate these mysteries often. The crucifix is not a barrier but rather an open door that helps us comprehend what takes place at the altar each day.

Many people make the argument based on physical sight; they argue that they can’t see what is going on. Since the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy many places throughout the world removed the image of crucifix from the altar based on that argument and guess what although people can see what is going on, doesn’t mean they actually can grasp and see what is going on. In overemphasizing the meal, we have lost an understanding of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. As our Lord sacrificed His body on the cross He continues to sacrifice Himself on every altar throughout the world. When we come here as we priest offer the sacrifice of the bread and wine on your behalf, you offer to the Lord the very sacrifices of your lives. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is about sacrifice, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which is an extension of the Mass gives us a period of time to adore our Eucharistic Lord which represents His ultimate sacrifice made visible. Tonight as we continue to gaze upon our Lord we thank Him for sacrificing Himself for us so that we can receive Him on a daily or weekly basis.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” This very last line taken from the first Letter of Saint Peter reminds us that we are indeed God’s chosen people. Indeed our Lord has chosen us and that is evident by all the things that He has given us.

Our Lord has given us everything from the food that is placed on our tables and the roof that is over our heads. He has blest all of us with a family so we can support one another. Finally He has given us the Church. It is within the Church where we experience the Lord’s love and mercy first hand. Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that He is the way the truth and the life. What does it mean when our Lord says He is the way? It simply means He is the one who will guide us through life. All we need to do is look to Him and He will point us in the direction we need to go. Next Jesus says He is the truth. Here our Lord is reasserting that what He says is true. Our Lord demonstrates this not only by what He says but also in the way He acts. Not only by the miracles He performed but also by accepting His cross. Finally Jesus says I am the life. We only experience the fullness of life when we embrace and follow Jesus Christ. Now some may say why should we follow Him? What reason does He give us? Look at what He has done. Not only do we have the miracles that He has done and continues to perform, but as we recalled a few weeks back the account of His passion. That should give us all the reasons we need to follow Him!

The opening words in the Gospel are Jesus speaking to His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” At times we find ourselves troubled. Things are going on in our lives that we don’t have answers for and when this happens we begin to despair and worry. So He encourages having faith in Him because He has never disappointed us. If we need to find strength look to Jesus, he demonstrated that strength clearly my enduring a brutal trial, embracing a heavy wooden cross, and suffering an agonizing death. However, three days later something happened which showed all those who believe that the cross is not the end.

Although we may experience trials that rattle us, our Lord assures each of us that we are His chosen people. He hasn’t and never will abandon us and that is the truth. We are the ones who often abandon Him but it’s never the other way around. Today we live in a world that does all its power to drown out the Lord’s voice and that is why we as Christians we must do all in our power not to let that happen. What we must do is surround ourselves with reminders of the Lord’s unconditional love! Place a crucifix in every room of your home, dust off those bibles and read them from time to time, spend some time getting to know the Lord through prayer each and every single day. May we not let ourselves forget about Him! Today let us place our trust in the Lord who shows us that He is indeed the way, the truth, and our very life!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

“Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” Today on this forth Sunday of Easter we remember Christ the Good Shepherd. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the good shepherd because He laid down His life for us His beloved sheep.

Looking back again at the Second Reading from the First Letter of Saint Peter we heard, “Beloved: If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His footsteps.” It’s not easy to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, because following Him means excepting the cross. How many of us like to embrace difficulties and trials? None of us do! We spend a lifetime trying to avoid them much as possible. But is that the way we should react. The answer is no we should be praying for the grace every single minute of our lives to embrace them. Jesus out of unconditional love embraced everything for us; we out of unconditional love should embrace everything for Him.

When we think about shepherds we immediately think of members of the clergy. However, there are plenty more examples of shepherds out there. Think back today to your parents. Do you remember when your parents took you by the hand to walk across the street? Do you remember when your parents sacrificed sleep to take you to various places band, scouts, student council, sports activities, etc.? Do you remember when your parents said “no” to something that you wanted? Parents are modern day shepherds. They helped shape who we are. All of us are called to be shepherds. It’s not easy being a shepherd in today’s world. For example, today the word “no” has given way to “ok” in order to appease rather the directly tackle the issue at hand. A shepherd is a leader and we are all called to be leaders. As leaders what are we called to do? We are called to lead one another into the heavenly kingdom. At times as leaders we need to call one another out on things we do wrong. This is really difficult. It is especially difficult for those who are recipient because who wants to be told that they are wrong. However, to ignore issues is just as bad not only for those heading in the wrong direction but also for the ones who stand back and do nothing.

It’s easy for modern day shepherds to fall in this trap of wanting to be liked. Example, I want this person to like me so I am going to overlook a particular flaw that is harming them. This is a big mistake! Be prepared for a shock…we aren’t called to like one another. Yes that’s right we aren’t called to like each other rather we are called to love another. You and I are called to lay it all down for each other much like our Lord laid down His life for us all. True love is a love that dares to challenge.

As we leave here today we must ask ourselves are we being the good shepherds we are called to be. Are we helping one another get to heaven? If someone finds themselves struggling to answer this question or have a feeling of knowing that they could do better than ask the Lord for His help. There is no better person than the Lord Himself who is the true Good Shepherd to learn from! He is the way…follow Him!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter

“Lord, you will show us the path of life.” The responsorial psalm for today’s liturgy reminds us that Jesus is the way the truth and the life. He is the one who leads us on the path to eternal life. That path is not an easy one for us because it entails embracing our crosses. As we were reminded in the second reading from the first letter of Saint Peter, we were saved…we were saved by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Although Jesus shed His blood on the cross as we heard in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles that God raised Jesus up. “God raised Him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for Him to be held by it.” Jesus Christ is not dead but rather very much alive in our midst. Most of us have probably seen products out there with the abbreviation WWJD which stands for What Would Jesus Do. These products are very popular; however it shouldn’t be worded that way. Rather it should say, what is Jesus doing, because the Lord is still in our midst here and now. We shouldn’t look at our Lord in past or future tense but rather look at him in the present. No He is not walking bodily on this earth but He is certainly present in many other ways.

We were reminded in today’s Gospel of one of the greatest ways Jesus is among us and that is the Most Holy Eucharist. It was in the breaking of the bread that the two disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized our Lord Jesus Christ. The question we must ask ourselves do we recognize Jesus Christ in the breaking of the bread which happens every single day on this very altar. People often get themselves wrapped up in the Second Coming of Christ that they miss how He is present right now. As a brief continuation of our homily for last week for the Second Sunday of Easter now referred to as Divine Mercy Sunday we spoke of growing in unity. That is done through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, prayer and the Most Holy Eucharist. In order for us to receive the full benefits of the Most Holy Eucharist we need to utilize the Sacrament of Reconciliation, be a people of prayer, and when we receive Him we need to be open to the grace we are about to receive and be in communion with the Lord by accepting His teachings.

In the event we are not recognizing our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist then we need to stop and do a little soul searching. First we need to develop our relationship with God through prayer. Then as we grow closer to God we begin to realize our faults and feel a need to seek forgiveness. For us as Catholics we do that through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is in that Sacrament we hear the words clearly “I absolve you from your sins,” so there can be no doubt that God has forgiven us. Once we have been forgiven and all the barriers have been removed then and only then can we receive Him. Many people don’t recognize Him maybe because we approach the sacred almost routinely today. If one is not ready to come forward for communion than one ought not to go. There is no shame in that. An individual doesn’t have to go to communion, especially if they are not spiritually prepared or carrying the weight of a mortal sin on their souls. In fact, they shouldn’t. Now we shouldn’t look at that as a punishment but rather as an opportunity to experience grace. Maybe one might need to go back and follow the steps that were suggested today before receiving again. The fact is every time we receive Holy Communion it should be like our first Holy Communion…if it is not then we need to do a little work.

One of the biggest obstacles to recognizing the Lord’s presence within our midst is our very selves. We let our own thoughts and whims get in the way. When it comes to growing in our relationship with God we should not focus on ourselves but rather focus solely on Him. Going back to the beginning our responsorial psalm was “Lord, you will show us the path of life.” He most certainly does. Follow Him, listen to Him, and He will lead each one of us in the direction we need to go!