Sunday, April 29, 2012

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter 2012

 

“There is no salvation through anyone else.” My brothers and sisters, Peter having been filled with the Holy Spirit reminds those gathered back then and all of us gathered here today that there is only one way to salvation and that is through Jesus Christ. In offering Himself over to death and today by inviting us to carry our own crosses He shows us the road we must travel.

Jesus Christ is indeed “the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.” The words from the responsorial psalm are slightly different from the words spoken by Peter in the first reading. Peter says, “He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” These words should make each of us feel uncomfortable. It is not just those back in the time of Christ who rejected Him, but there are times in which we all reject our Lord. We reject Him when we chose to sin rather than follow the road He shows us. Brothers and sisters we are builders, for Jesus calls us to build up His Church. Yet there are times when we are not faithful to the mission in which we are called.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The correlation between the first reading and the Gospel is that not only should we understand ourselves as builders but we should also understand ourselves as shepherds. In describing Himself as a shepherd our Lord shows us His humility because a shepherd was seen as an outcast. Since they worked long hours in the field in the bright hot sun, they often smelled horrible. We are called to model our Lord Jesus Christ who was the good shepherd and be the humble builders of the Church He calls us to be. Today we must ask ourselves, when was the last time we laid down our lives for someone else? When was the last time we really worked up a hypothetical sweat laboring in the Lord’s vineyard?

Having worked prior to entering seminary and even during the summers while in college seminary I have seen a serious change in attitude in the minds of many people. Speaking from my experience, here is a problem I see and that is our generation lacking a serious work ethic and it is my fear that has even crept into our attitudes when it comes to our faith. Many people today want to start at the top without putting in the time. What ever happened to the idea that we have to earn what we get? When it comes to building up our Church and our personal faith it takes work, real hard work. One joke I have heard over the years which I don’t find very funny describing priest’s hands is this, “these hands are meant for holding chalices, not calices.” My response, a priest who is not willing to work hard enough to get calices on his hands in the vineyard of the Lord is not worthy to even hold a chalice. The same thing goes not just for priest but also for religious and the entire people of God. When it comes to our faith and growing in it we must be prepared to work hard. If we are not willing to work hard, then we need to ask ourselves, what’s the point? Why are we even here?

Why is it important for us to work hard especially when it comes to building up the Church and our own personal faith? We find the answer in today’s Second Reading from the first letter of Saint John, “We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” This line reminds us of what it will be like in heaven. Working hard now will help us get to that day when we in heaven will see God in all His glory. So brothers and sisters, we have something to look forward to. Therefore, let’s now put are hands to the plow and get to work being the good builders and shepherds He calls us to be! God gives us the means, but He awaits a response from us.

 

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Vatican

 

There has been a lot in the news recently about the decision from the Vatican calling for a renewal of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. This doctrinal assessment is not calling for a reform or a restoration, but for a genuine renewal of this religious conference. Of course with any renewal their might be some reforms and perhaps a few restorations, however this is about moving forward not backwards.

I want to begin by praising many of the women religious congregations that are a part of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Many of these religious congregations have done great work in the areas of education over the years and social justice. For this they are to be commended! Yet over time, like what can potentially happen to all of us, some of them have lost their way. Liturgical practices that are not contained in the rubrics crept into the liturgy. Some have even spoken out against their bishops and priests on matters of faith and morals or if they have not spoken out they chose to remain silent on these matters.

This doctrinal assessment isn’t about picking on a group of religious women but is rather about saving them. The fact is many of these religious communities that are a part of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious have experienced a drop in numbers that threaten their communities.  Young women are choosing to enter other communities who are faithful to the magisterium of the Church. The Lord said that He is the vine and we are the branches. If we separate ourselves from the vine our branches will not be able to produce fruit. Many faithful in the pews, many religious congregations, and many clergy have over time separated themselves from the true vine. This is why we have seen scandals arise within the Church in recent years, a breakdown of the family, and a drop in numbers of clergy and religious. We are called to seek what is above, not the things of the earth. Things of the earth pass away, which we have seen over time.

In calling for the renewal of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, it is the hope of the Holy See that they may be renewed in the Spirit. As I mentioned earlier, there usually a point in all our lives we all need a little redirection. For the Leadership Conference of Women Religious this is an opportunity for them to recommit themselves back to their Divine Spouse. It is our hope that these communities do not see this as an act of rejection but rather an act of love and reaffirmation. The fact is our Lord believes in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, for if He didn’t this wouldn’t be happening. This is not about folding a particular group of religious communities, this is about revitalizing them so that they can continue the good work they have done in the past, are doing now, and will do in the future.

It is my hope that this particular group of women religious will use this opportunity for a genuine renewal of their organization. Again our thanks go out to many within these communities who have served the Church over the years. Jesus Christ is our survival of life, may we pray that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and every member of the Church may stay attached to Christ who is our true vine.

 

I would invite everyone to pray for the members of the Leadership Conference of Religious Women, all other religious communities, ordained clergy, and for our families.  All of us play a major part in God’s divine plan.  May we stay close to Him, who nourishes and gives us strength to live out our vocations.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Test of Fire video

 

A day after the primary in Pennsylvania we look ahead to the general election in November.  Each person is invited and encouraged to vote in the upcoming general election.

 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter 2012

 

There are two lines we should play particular attention to in the first reading. The first line is “the author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.” Then the second line is the final words we hear from the reading from Acts, “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

These two lines remind us of the importance of the Resurrection in which we continue to celebrate. Although our Lord was put to death on the cross, He was raised up three days later. Indeed “of this we are witnesses.” In today’s Gospel standing in the midst of His disciples, He greets them with the words that should be familiar to all our ears, “peace be with you.” Realizing that they were afraid He showed them his hands and feet. On this third Sunday of Easter, I want us to ask ourselves do we see the risen Christ in our midst? Do we recognize His presence in the Sacraments that He provides for us through the Church He founded?

First we were reminded in Acts that we are witnesses and as witnesses we are reminded that we are to act. Last week the Church on the Second Sunday of Easter now referred to Divine Mercy Sunday we were reminded that we are to continue utilizing what we reflected upon in Lent and carry that with us all throughout life. Peter reminds us in Acts that we are to, “repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” In this final line of the first reading we are reminded of the importance of repenting and turning away from our sins getting them off our chest so that can experience the joy of Easter as we are able to rise up and stand tall no longer being weighed down by those things that keep us down.

In the Second Reading from the First Letter of Saint John we heard proclaimed, “My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.” Once again we are encouraged to place our faith in the person of Jesus, the one who laid down His life for everyone. Our Lord has given us a gift which has been passed down from one generation to the next. Last week, we heard in the Gospel the Lord Jesus say to His disciples, “receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” While our Lord gives everyone the Holy Spirit, he delegated only His apostles the power to forgive sins in His name.” The Church established a sacrament that we can receive frequently that restores us to grace, may we use that gift often. It is important that each one of us receive it at least once a year or more often when necessary, for each time we do our hearts are conditioned to forgive as the Lord Himself forgives.

Concluding our reflection today I want to repeat the words of the responsorial psalm, “Lord, let your face shine on us.” Indeed we are blessed the Lord continues to bless us with His presence and shines His light upon us through the sacraments of the Church. While the Lord shines His light on us, there still must be a response from us to that light. Remember as witnesses we are called to act, may we always act on the word of God, giving God our all!

 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rite For the Blessing and Sprinkling of Water

In the Easter Season the Church encourages and invites us to use the sprinkling of water as a memorial of our baptism.  During the prayer over the water we are reminded not only of our own baptism but also that we are to pray for those who were baptized during the Easter Vigil.

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Another option given us is the mixing of salt with the water.  Here is the prayer taken directly from the Roman Missal,

We humbly ask you, almighty God: be pleased in your faithful love to bless + this salt you have created, for it was you who commanded the prophet Elisha to cast salt into water, that impure water might be purified.  Grant, O Lord, we pray that, wherever this mixture of salt and water is sprinkled, every attack of the enemy may be repulsed and your Holy Spirit may be present to keep us safe at all times. 

In baptism we become members of God’s family.  However, as we go through life there are temptations that often arise.  May we when the sprinkling rite is done at Mass be reminded of God’s love and seek His powerful intercession to protect us from all harm! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy 85th Birthday Your Holiness!!!

 

Today marks the 85th Birthday of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.  For his birthday gift may we take some time to honor His request to pray for him that the Lord may continue to give him strength to carry out his mission here on earth. 

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Happy Birthday Your Holiness, may the Lord continue to give you strength to shepherd us! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter…Divine Mercy Sunday

 

Blessed John Paul II referred to this Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. In referring to this Sunday as Divine Mercy Sunday we are reminded that in order to celebrate the joys of the Easter Season we must continue to recall and put into practice those things that we learned during the Lenten Season.

What does the word mercy mean? Merion Webster Dictionary defines mercy as “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; also: lenient or compassionate treatment.” Another definition for mercy is “a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion.” Finally mercy can be defined as “compassionate treatment of those in distress.” How should we look at the definition of mercy? In light of Easter we should look at all of them.

First, we looked at mercy being defined as “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power.” In this definition we must understand ourselves at times in the role of an offender. There are many times we offend God by choosing under our own free will to turn our backs on Him. We choose to do those things that lead us down a path of sin, rather than those things that would help us get to heaven. However, no matter how many times we offend God, He is always there ready and willing to take us back which He demonstrates to us by providing for us a sacrament that restores us to grace.

The second definition of mercy we looked at is “a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion. All last weekend beginning with Good Friday through Easter Sunday we were reminded of God’s act of divine favor and compassion towards us. God the Father sent His only Begotten Son into the world for the purpose of enduring a grueling passion and death, only to rise up on the third day for the purpose of restoring the possibility of the salvation that was lost by the fall of Adam and Eve. Now last weekend we focused on this great act but we must understand that God’s divine blessing continues to be with us. He showers us with His gifts each time we celebrate all the Sacraments especially the Most Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and for those who are ill the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

Finally, the last definition of mercy we looked at is “compassionate treatment of those in distress.” On this divine mercy Sunday we are reminded that as God is compassionate towards us, we are to be compassionate towards one another. How do we show compassion towards one another? We find the answer in the person of Jesus Christ? Being compassionate means willingness on our part to challenge and invite others in a charitable way to live the Gospel values. Another way is by helping to elevate the pain of others by assisting them to get back on their feet. Finally, one of the greatest ways we can show compassion is by willing to forgive those who have wronged us in some way.

I do want to say something about the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles especially the opening line, “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.” It is that unity referenced to the Acts of the Apostles we as Catholic Christians should strive to have. Unfortunately, many times we do not have that unity as a result of our pride and sinfulness. We must understand that sin doesn’t just stretch or break our relationship with God; it also has an effect on the community. While the Church is not divided on what she teaches, there are many people within the Church who are divided. The Church is not a buffet line where one can pick and choose what we want to believe. We either accept what she teaches in faith or we run the risk of separating ourselves further away.

Today we paused and reflected upon the word mercy. Also we were reminded of ways we can show mercy. In demonstrating mercy tying it in with the reading from Acts we move ourselves towards the unity the Lord desires. Right now I want to reflect on the words of one of the options for our entrance antiphons. Unfortunately with having a hymn each Sunday we miss out on some of these treasures that the liturgy provides us. Listen carefully, “like newborn infants, you must long for the pure, spiritual milk, that in him you may grow to salvation, alleluia.” Our Lord gives us nourishment that strengthens us. May we place our faith in the Lord, who gives us the means to salvation! Let us conclude by listening once again to the opening collect, pondering these words in our hearts,

God of Everlasting mercy, who in the very recurrence of the paschal feat kindle the faith of the people you have made your own, increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed, that all may grasp and rightly understand in what font they have been washed, by whose Spirit they have been reborn, by whose Blood they have been redeemed.

Homily for Friday within the Octave of Easter

 

My dear children, faculty, and parishioners, today the Church celebrates a Friday within the Octave of Easter. Earlier in the week I explained the Octave of Easter is eight continuous days in which we carry the joy of Easter Sunday further into the week. All too often like the day after Christmas, and the day after Easter we are too quick to move immediately to the next thing. In providing for us these special days the Church reminds us not only of the importance of these special days but also that we are to continue to celebrate them.

I mention this to you in light of the focus of today’s readings from the lectionary which talks about being witnesses to the resurrection. No one here was an actual first hand witness to the resurrection but the account of the resurrection of the Lord has been passed down from one generation to the next. We testify to the truth of the resurrection by believing in it. Also, we are charged today in the Responsorial Psalm to proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations. How can we as students, teachers, and parishioners continue the Easter celebration? One of the simplest ways we can remind each other is by continuing to wish one another a Happy Easter. Another way is my recalling some stories from the bible in the Gospel that occurred after the resurrection with our families.

This morning I challenge each of us not to forget also what we learned during the Lenten Season. Don’t forget that hard road our Lord Jesus walked out of love for us. The last time we gathered I talked about the profound moment of the sign of peace. Make peace with those you hurt, whether that be a family member (a parent or brother or sister), fellow classmates, teachers, or friends we may have outside of school. The Lord asks all of us to continue to seek peace and reconciliation not only with Him but also with one another. Live your faith and live it proudly. Look to Jesus…the resurrection gives us hope something to look forward too! That is how we can continue the Easter celebration.

 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Homily for Thursday within the Octave of Easter

 

“O God, who have united the many nations in confessing your name, grant that those reborn in the font of Baptism may be one in the faith of their hearts and the homage of their deeds.” You might have noticed that the past several days I have been tying in the words of the opening collect as part of our reflection these past couple days during the Octave of Easter. The words we now use not only are very beautiful but at the very same time they are very powerful.

In the opening line we prayed, “O God who have united many nations.” He united us to Him in the sacrament of baptism and continues to unite us in the Sacrament of Unity at this very altar. During the Easter Vigil the Church welcomed new members in the Sacrament of Baptism. It is important for us to pray for those individuals but it is also important for us to recall our baptisms. Of course many of us can’t recall our actual baptisms, but we can recall aspects through the rite of baptism itself.

Let us recall today the words contained in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, “the author of life you put to death but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.” May we leave here today testifying to the truth of the resurrection! May we leave here testifying to the Lord’s abundant goodness to us! May we leave here proclaiming how glorious the name of the Lord is in all the earth!

 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Homily for Wednesday within the Octave of Easter 2012

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The opening collect reminds of something. Listen carefully once again, “O God, who gladden us year by year with the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection, graciously grant that, by celebrating these present festivities, we may merit through them to reach eternal joys.” Two points, first we have this opportunity each year to renew us. It’s a good thing we don’t focus on the same thing all year long. Imagine if there was no change of season, life would become kind of stale. Even the Church has a change a season and this particular season is one we should be looking forward to each and every year.

Now the second point we wish to make is that we hear the words like “celebrate” and “festivities.” These mysteries are not just to be mediated upon but they are to be truly celebrated. Yesterday we focused on repentance to remind us how important it is for us to receive the gift of the Lord’s forgiveness so we can feel relief as those burdens are being lifted from us. Having experienced Lent, and now Easter we are called to take what we learned and recalled placing it into practice.

Today once again mediate on the words of the responsorial psalm, “rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.” As we celebrate these Easter mysteries may we always strive to seek the Lord in the ordinary activities of everyday life!

 

Homily for Tuesday within the Octave of Easter

 

“He gave them the water of wisdom to drink; it will be made strong in them and will not be moved; it will raise them up forever, alleluia.” These words found in today’s antiphon remind us of something that Peter said to the Jewish people, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The words spoken by Peter are saturated with wisdom. As we began by saying in the antiphon “He gave them the water of wisdom to drink,” we are reminded that in baptism we were welcomed into God’s family and infused with His grace. Then the very next line, “it will be made strong in them,” think of the sacrament of confirmation which strengthens our baptism. Finally think right here at this very moment our Lord gives us His very self in the Most Holy Eucharist to strengthen us. In the first reading Peter called the Jewish people not only to baptism but He also called them to repent. Now we spent most of Lent talking about repentance, why would we continue stressing the importance of this point? The answer is simple because the only way we can celebrate and experience the true joy of Easter.

One of the effects of sin is that it prevents the gifts of the spirit working to their fullest potential. It means we let ourselves get in the way. When we remove those barriers, watch out, God can work wonders through us. Together we recited the words, “the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord” in the responsorial psalm. Meditate on those words throughout the day. May we also strive to grow in greater appreciation of the Sacred Mysteries we have the opportunity we celebrate daily. It is here God strengthens and helps raise us up.

 

Homily for the Monday within the Octave of Easter 2012

 

Once again let us say, “The Lord has risen from the dead, as he said; let us all exult and rejoice, for he reigns for all eternity, alleluia.” This morning’s entrance antiphon, reminds us simply that we are to continue with our Easter celebration. Today celebrates Monday within the Octave of Easter, where the Church continues to celebrate the joys of Easter. It says something about Christmas and Easter that following these special Holy Days that we continue the celebration for eight straight days.

Look at how quickly the world forgets Christmas and Easter. On the day after Christmas we kick the Christmas trees to the curb and the day after Easter we get ready for the next season. The Church reminds us with the Octave that these Sacred days are not once and done but are meant to continue. Keep in mind every time we celebrate these Sacred Mysteries we are celebrating Christmas and Easter.

This morning I want to focus briefly on the words of the opening collect which I did all throughout Holy Week. Listen once again to the words we heard a few moments ago, “O God, who give constant increase to your Church by new offspring, grant that your servants may hold fast in their lives to the Sacrament they have received in faith.” The first few words remind us what Easter is about, “new life.” Our Lord’s resurrection should rejuvenate us, that the cross wasn’t the end but the very means to it. There is something much greater in store for us. As we continue our Easter celebration may we not seek the things of this world that pass away, but turn our eyes to what is above, where we find Christ seated at the right hand of the Father.

 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Homily for Easter Sunday 2012

 

“He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.” Today we gather here together as witnesses. We stand here as witnesses to the Resurrection. Our Lord has risen; he is risen indeed alleluia, alleluia!

Each year we celebrate this day, which he has made. We rejoice for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son not to just die on the cross, but to raise up conquering death three days later. I opened up my homily quoting from the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. As the Lord commissioned His Apostles, He commissions each one of us. I mentioned we stand here as witnesses…well as witnesses we are to go forth testifying to this revealed truth. Today is a day in which we should rejoice and be glad.

One thing we should keep in mind is that every single Sunday is another Easter. We have the opportunity to encounter the resurrection of the Lord each time we receive our Eucharistic Lord. The events in which we recalled this past week have made all this possible. Keep this in mind, the altar is not just a mere table but it is also represents the cross in which the Lord sacrifices Himself upon and comes down off. When we receive Holy Communion we encounter in a special way the risen Christ. Each Sunday is Easter and with that in mind the Lord invites us to celebrate that Easter joy each weekend.

Brothers and Sisters, we have heard in the Second Reading from Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth, “Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough.” In other words, do not forget what you learned in Lent. Preparing to celebrate this day we recalled all throughout Lent our sinfulness and we have been stressing the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. What does recognizing our sins and confessing them have to do with Easter? The answer is the only way we can truly celebrate the Easter Season is by removing those things from our lives that keep us from growing spiritually. For many the Sacrament might seem intimidating but I challenge us to think about how good we feel when we get something we have been harboring off our chest. We feel relieved and we find the strength to move forward. The only way we can celebrate Easter is by clearing out the old yeast.

On behalf of Father O’Brien, Father Palomino, Deacon Ramsey, and myself; I wish to extend to each of your families a happy Easter. It is our hope that as you gather together with your families you may celebrate with joy this great day in which the Lord has made and given us. Too all those visiting our parish this weekend with your families I welcome you to our parish. You are always most welcome here. As we go forth rejoicing in this day, may we go forth following the Lord’s commission to preach this good news! This isn’t a celebration that should be contained to just one day but rather is a celebration that should continue each day of our lives!

 

Homily for Easter Sunday 2012 in Doylesburg

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This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.

On this Sunday we gather here to celebrate with great joy the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection. This past week we as a Church celebrated Holy Week the week that changed the world, stealing the line found on the EWTN poster found in our adoration chapel back at Corpus leading up to this day. I would like to purpose that we the community of Our Lady of Refuge have endured our own extended kind of Holy Week. Since September 11, 2011 we have experienced our own passion as we grieved the loss of our beautiful Church. Despite that major loss we have gathered here faithfully in this community center to celebrate these Sacred Mysteries. While we may have lost our Church we haven’t lost our faith. Each time we celebrate these mysteries it is Easter, the Lord raises us up and gives us hope.

Listen carefully to this prayer in which I will say over the offerings in a few moments, “Exultant with paschal gladness, O Lord, we offer the sacrifice by which your Church is wondrously reborn and nourished.” The Lord offered His body on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice in which together we were raised up. Right now He offers us this sacrifice to raise and nourish us in this life. On this Easter Sunday while we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection we too commemorate that ultimate sacrifice that has brought us to this day. Sacrifice is good! Our Church was built up by sacrifice; our nation was also built up by sacrifice. Hopefully in a few months we will see the fruits of our many sacrifices come together when our Church rises up once again from the ashes.

As I mentioned as we have been gathering here the last couple months we have been celebrating Easter week after week. Our faith has kept us together and out of this tragedy I would say our faith has brought us much closer together. This Easter we focus on the result of the Lord’s ultimate sacrifice. His sacrifice gives us hope. The Lord has risen; he is risen indeed, alleluia, alleluia! At the end of Mass I will say this prayer after communion, “Look up your Church, O God, with unfailing love and favor, so that, renewed by the paschal mysteries, she may come to the glory of the resurrection.” Reflect upon those beautiful words. God looks upon this community of faith with love and His favor. In return let us continue to offer this sacrifice and the sacrifices of our lives so that we can continue build up His Church.

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The crucifix above the altar at Our Lady of Refuge Mission in Doylesburg taken before the fire.

 

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Image of the charred remains of crucifix is the only thing visible from the outside.  A fire destroyed Our Lady of Refuge Mission on the early morning hours of September 11th 2011.  The cross stands as a source of our faith. 

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The resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fills us with hope.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Homily for Good Friday 2012

 

In my homily for Palm Sunday I said, “The cross is meant to be embraced by all for all because the cross is the very means to salvation.” For us as Christians the cross is indeed the very means to our salvation, therefore it is important for us not just to embrace and carry our personal crosses, but it is also important for us as Christians to embrace and venerate His cross. In just a few moments we will have an opportunity to venerate the large wooden cross that represents for us the cross of Christ.

Like the liturgy for Palm Sunday this liturgy for the Friday of the Passion of the Lord is also a journey. The liturgy of Good Friday is split into three parts. First we have the liturgy of the word in which we recalled the passion and death of our Lord. The liturgy of the word concludes with the Solemn Intercessions. Then the second part of the liturgy is the adoration of the Holy Cross. After we recalled the death of our Lord in the passion we are given the opportunity to come forward to reverence the cross that represents for us the very cross our Lord died upon.

Following the veneration of the Holy Cross, the cross itself is placed in the center of the Church, directly in front of the altar because today the cross takes center stage. There is a significant reason for placing the cross directly in front of the altar. My brothers and sisters the altar is the cross, the cross is the altar, the two are inseparable! The cross does not block or hinder us from seeing the Eucharist but rather opens up a window for us to understand the mystery of the Eucharist in a much deeper way. Last evening we celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, where we heard these words given to us from St. Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth, “this is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Also, we hear these words each time we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As we gaze upon the image of Christ crucified, the words “this is my body which will be given up for you,” should take on a deeper spiritual meaning. We should see a clear connection between the sacrifice of the present and the sacrifice of the past.

Once the cross takes its place in the center of the Church we move to the distribution of Holy Communion. There are two purposes for the reception of Holy Communion in today’s liturgy; the first is to give us strength for the journey. Jesus asks us to “do this in memory of me.” Not only does this reference the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but serves as a reminder that He calls us to carry and embrace our own crosses each day. Carrying and embracing our crosses can be extremely difficult so the Lord gives us Himself in the Holy Eucharist to give us the necessary strength we need to embrace and carry them through life. The second reason for the distribution of Holy Communion is to prepare us for celebrating the day of His resurrection. Each time we receive communion we encounter our resurrected Lord. In Matthew 27: 40 it says, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” While Jesus did not come down from the cross then, He today comes down from the altar into each of us. In the Eucharist the Lord prepares us for the resurrection by giving us Himself as a source of strength for the journey.

Pope Benedict XVI stated in His homily for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, “Pride is the essence of sin.” Using those words I want to say something briefly about the words that make up our responsorial psalm, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” These words should make up our disposition in approaching the Lord. It is an act of surrender. As Jesus surrendered Himself over to death for our sake, we must in turn surrender ourselves back to God. Today, we live in a society where more people are believing that they can do no wrong. We live in a society where more people do not understand the effects of their sins. Our sins don’t only hurt our relationship with other people; our sins also hurt our relationship with God. In the person of Jesus Christ, we are given an opportunity to be reconciled with God. Jesus showed us the road we must travel by surrendering Himself over to death. Surrendering ourselves back to God is extremely important and He gives us a way to do that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Following today’s liturgy you will have an opportunity for the Sacrament. All three of us hearing confession, Father Ignacio and Father O’Brien will be in the confessionals and I will be in the back in the children’s chapel.

As we prepare to venerate the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, may we mediate on the words of our responsorial psalm, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” As the cross today takes its place in the center of the Church in front of the altar, may it also be central in our lives. May we let go of our pride, surrendering ourselves over to Him so that we can look forward not only to celebrating but also experiencing the Lord’s resurrection.

 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Homily for Wednesday of Holy Week 2012

 

“O God, who willed your Son to submit for our sake to the yoke of the Cross, so that you might drive from us the power of the enemy, grant us, your servants, to attain the grace of the Resurrection.” Once again we are reminded why the Lord embraced the cross, and He did it simply for our sake.

In the opening collect, we heard reference to the “yoke of the Cross.” The word “yoke” often referred to a device that connected a pair of animals. Jesus connected Himself to the cross for our sake. So when Jesus said elsewhere in Scripture, “take my yoke upon you,” what He is really inviting us to do is attach ourselves to Him. How do we attach ourselves to the Lord? We find the answer in what we have been doing repeatedly the last couple days, mediating on the Passion of Christ. While mediating on the Passion of Christ, we should be moved by Lord’s love for us to willingly take up our cross each and every single day. When we embrace our trials of everyday life we attach ourselves with the Lord to the yoke of His Cross.

Think of the cross as a weight we use to build up our muscles. We use them to give us strength. The Cross for us is our source of spiritual strength. May we look to it not as something to be avoided, but as something that gives us the strength to embrace the path that leads to everlasting life!

 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Homily for Tuesday of Holy Week

 

Yesterday we were reminded in the opening prayer how we are revived through the Passion of Christ. This morning we heard in the opening collect, “Almighty ever-living God, grant us to celebrate the mysteries of the Lord’s Passion that we may merit to receive your pardon.” Today’s opening prayer is drawing us to open our hearts to the mysteries that we celebrate.

Brothers and sisters what we celebrate here is indeed that, a beautiful mystery. It is something that cannot be logically explained although many times we make that fatal mistake. We are called to embrace something that cannot be simply explained away. At this very Altar our Lord Jesus Christ continuously lays down His life reminding us in this present world of His love. As He embraced His passion over two thousand years ago He reminds us of those important events in the mysteries we celebrate together here each morning. The key to getting the most out of these mysteries is to let go, letting go of ourselves in order to enter into a mystery. We are living in a day and age when this is becoming more increasingly difficult. This morning may we allow our Lord Jesus Christ to feed and nourish us in the Sacrament of Altar and as we go forth in prayer may we ask Him to help us let go of our way of thinking and embrace His.

 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Homily for Monday of Holy Week 2012

 

This morning let us focus on the words the newly translated opening collect for today’s Mass, “Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, though in our weakness we fail, we may be revived through the Passion of your Only Begotten Son.” What powerful words we have to mediate upon on this Monday of Holy Week.

As we mediate formally on these mysteries we should be reinvigorated to know that the Lord loved us to the extent He would lay down His life for us. In doing so He reminds us that the means to salvation comes through the cross. Our Lord demonstrates to us the road we too must travel. This is the road that leads to everlasting life. During this week we will continue to mediate on the events that remind us so ever clearly of the Lord’s love. May we allow the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ to transform our lives and reinvigorate us in the faith! Yes we may from time to time fail but with His divine help, He purifies us and restores us to life.