Monday, December 31, 2012

Homily for the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God 2012

 

There is something significant about this feast during the Octave of Christmas. It was only yesterday we honored the feast of the Holy Family but today we honor the special and unique role the Blessed Virgin Mary has as the Mother of God.

All women have a gift which is unique only to them and that is they have the capacity within them where life is developed and nurtured. On the feast of the Holy Family I mentioned how men and women were created distinct for a reason. Men and women have unique and special roles. While distinct however, men and women are unique in dignity before God. Mary embraced her special role and it was her yes that allowed her to become the Mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Today’s solemnity is a challenge to all women to see their vocations to be mothers as a special gift given and unique only to them. Mother’s especially expectant mothers should see the children in their womb not just as a child but more importantly as a child of God. Like the Blessed Mother all women carry within them God’s children for all of us are created in the image and likeness of God which makes all of us brothers and sisters in Christ. I want all of us to keep that image and that thought in the back of your minds, that a child in a mother’s womb is a daughter and son of God. Mankind must recapture that sense of wonder and awe of the most sacred gift of human life. All too often we in society forget that we are sons and daughters of God.

Before you leave Church today make it a point to stop over to visit the crèche over by the exit on the Blessed Mothers side. I ask that you be the shepherds we heard of in today’s Gospel and walk over to see the image of the infant lying in the manger. Then as you leave I ask each of you to meditate and ponder in your hearts the importance of that awesome gift. In your prayers, take some time to say “thank you” to Mary for giving us Jesus. Finally, the next time you hear an infant cry keep in mind that is a child of God. Our Lord has indeed blessed us in His mercy. There is no better way to show our appreciation to the Blessed Mother than by honoring the gift she bore for us…our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Homily for the Feast of the Most Holy Family

 

Brothers and Sisters in the midst of this Christmas Octave we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Holy Family stands as a model for all Christian families for like most of us they too had ups and downs. It wasn’t an easy journey for them, but they too ploughed through life, like each of us do day in and day out.

For us as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family how does this family show us the way? Mary and Joseph are models of what it means to submit to one another. Our second reading was taken from Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians where we heard that line which is not very popular, “wives, be subordinate to your husbands.” In order for us to understand what is being said we must look at the very next line, “husbands, love your wives.” It is in the Sacrament of Marriage a man and woman submit themselves to each other and it is in that mutual submission that brings forth life. Not only did Mary and Joseph submit themselves to each other but they also submitted themselves to the will of God.

Saint Joseph stands as a model for adoptive parents. He was not the biological father of Jesus, but he accepted and treated Jesus has his own son. While the Holy Family’s situation was certainly unique Saint Joseph shows us how we are to love. It is certainly difficult for a husband and wife after being married to discover that they are unable to have children of their own. When I speak of procreation I always mention its twofold dimension physical and spiritual. Their relationship is life giving at the spiritual level and I would challenge any couple in this position to not look at their physical limitation but to see it as an opportunity for the both of them together to look beyond themselves and to open their hearts to another…a child who has no home. When God closes one door He often opens another that leads to a world of possibilities.

Finally we must say something about obedience. Jesus certainly followed the will of God, but when it came to his parents Mary and Joseph He was certainly obedient to them as we hear in today’s Gospel. Luke’s Gospel detailed the finding of Jesus in the temple where after discovering Jesus missing Mary and Joseph went back in haste retracing their steps trying to find Him. They found Him in the temple area and it has in Luke’s Gospel we hear after the exchange with His parents, “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.” Even Jesus listened to his parents!

Looking at the Holy Family they can teach us many things. They demonstrate to us of the importance of following God’s will. There is one more thing about parenting I want to mention today is that the Church and parents have a difficult job. Parents enforce things that are not popular with their children. Many of the Churches teachings are not popular with modern culture, for some they are quite difficult to accept. Holy Mother Church doesn’t teach what’s popular, she teaches what is true. As I look back to when I was a kid I often remember my reaction to anything when my parents said “no” to something I really wanted. I kicked, I screamed, I stomped by feet, and I pouted in the corner. Trust me it did no good…but let’s be honest it is something we all do when we hear something we do not like. However as I look back my parents didn’t say no because they disliked me, they said no because they loved me and wanted me to look beyond my wants in order to see the bigger picture. The same thing goes for the Church when she says “no” she says it out of love with love for a reason. She doesn’t reject anyone; she loves us and invites us all to see the bigger picture. Marriage isn’t merely a right, it is a gift and it is a vocation defined by God, not by man. Today I close with the words from one of our two options for today’s responsorial psalm, “Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in His ways.” Today as we reflect upon all these things may we strive to walk and follow in the ways of the Lord and not our own!

 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Homily for Christmas Day 2012…following the Readings of Mass During the Day

 

“All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.” Following the readings for the Christmas liturgy during the day we gather to celebrate what we have seen and that is the saving power of God in the celebration of the birth of His Son.

What is it that we see on this day? We see numerous people attending Church to worship God. Also we see the light of Christ in acts of charity in the exchanging of gifts. Families come together to share a meal and spend time together. These are great things, and in all these simple actions we see the glory of God shine throughout the world. As I mentioned on Sunday there are twelve days of Christmas and its amazing how quickly we forget that. There is nothing more depressing than driving around on December 26th and seeing the line up of Christmas trees lined up along the road to be picked up in the trash collection. Unfortunately we light up our trees way too early and extinguish them prematurely. Going back to what I said on Sunday I wish to reecho my challenge and that is during these twelve days of Christmas to do some sort of act of charity. Whether it be donating food to a food kitchen, donating clothing, giving a monetary donation to a charity that helps people, and for those who are unable to commit to those things I mentioned to say a prayer for all those in need. It is important for all of us to do acts of charity because it is in giving that we receive.

Today we celebrate the Word becoming flesh. Jesus dwells among us here and has made His dwelling among us. Keep His presence alive and present in the world by keeping the celebration of His birth going. In John’s Gospel we heard, “but to those who did accept him, he gave power to become children of God.” As we accept Christ into our hearts this Christmas, let us pray for the grace and strength as His children to keep the light of Christ burning for those who desperately need it this Christmas season.

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Homily for Christmas Eve 2012…the Vigil Mass

 

Brothers and sisters, this afternoon we gather together in large number to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On behalf of Father Quinlan, our deacons Joe Wrabel and Jerry Forrester, and myself, we would like to extend to all gathered here a very Merry Christmas. To those who are visiting family and friends from other areas I welcome you to Holy Name of Jesus Church.

What can I add that each of us doesn’t already know? We are here in this Church to celebrate the birth of Christ, the day in which God became man taking on our human flesh. There is something to be said of John the Baptist’s words that we proclaimed in today’s Second Reading from the Acts of the Apostles. “What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.” His words exemplify humility. Today we celebrate on of the greatest acts of humility the world as ever known. Jesus was a king but He wasn’t a king robed in the finest jewels but rather he was a king robed in humility. From the very moment He was born of the Virgin Mary He was taken from her loving arms and placed in a humble wooden manger. The description of a manger is very significant especially in the time of Jesus for it was the place animals went to get their nourishment.

This afternoon we come to gaze at the image of the infant baby Jesus lying in the manger. We come to the manger to receive our spiritual nourishment. This building is our version of the manger; He is here all the time waiting for us to come to Him. As Christ humbled Himself for us we are called in return to humble ourselves in His presence. In order for us to embrace and see the fullness of the Lord’s glory we must be embrace humility something which is often a challenge for many in today’s world. Embracing humility…letting go of our wants and desires is the only way we can experience true joy.

On this day we celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ’s the true light of the world entrance into the world. Jesus is the light of the world; He is the true lamp that lights the way in the midst of darkness. One of the things I find truly disheartening with modern culture is that we light our trees way too early and turn them off too quickly. There is nothing more depressing to see a line up of Christmas trees tossed outside for garbage pickup on the December 26th. There are twelve days of Christmas and keeping that in mind we are called to keep the light of Christ burning. Keep the lights on…keep the fire burning…do not rush to forget that the celebration of Christmas continues. “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.” May we always sing of His goodness by working tirelessly to keep His light burning in our midst! Merry Christmas!!!!

 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent 2012

 

“Behold, I come to do your will.” On this fourth week of Advent I think it is important for us to keep this line taken directly from today’s Second Reading from the letter to the Hebrews front and center for our reflection as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. God’s will is not our will and all too often we neglect His will in favor of following our own.

In only a few short days we will celebrate with great joy the day in which God became man, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As the day gets closer we must pray for the grace and strength to accept God’s will, which sometime for us can be difficult. One of the things I have stressed this advent season along with prayer and penance is the call from God to live our faith in acts of charity. It is in giving that we receive and when we give without expecting anything in return we receive the fullness of joy.

There are many ways we can demonstrate acts of charity. We can donate food to a food kitchen, give clothes to good will, or give monetary donations to organizations to serve the needy during this time of year. Of course if we are unable to do any of those things we must not forget there is something we can do and that is say a prayer for them. Prayer is a charitable work and we must never forget that. This week as we approach the celebration of the birth of Christ I want each of us to ask ourselves what am I doing to demonstrate to the Lord that I am following His will. Keep in mind the path to joy is Jesus, Others, and You. Are we doing the things the Lord expects from us serving Him in service to our brothers and sisters? Finally are we taking care of ourselves? For in the end if we are not taking care of ourselves, how can we expect to take care for the needs of others?

Keeping in mind that there is twelve days of Christmas I would ask that we consider within that period of time doing some act of charity. For those with young families, I would invite you to make it, a family protect. During your family meals each day have each individual make it a point to pray for someone they know in most need. If you know someone who is alone and unable to get around go visit them and see if they need anything. Perhaps take over food and join them for a meal. Maybe if you have the opportunity, go groceries shopping as a family buying some nonperishable foods to be donated. If you get a chance and your cleaning out your closets and drawers this Christmas Season take some of those clothes you have outgrew and if they are in good condition donate them. For those unable to do some of the things suggested remembering prayer itself is an act of charity say an extra prayer for those who really need them. There are little things each one of us can do to make things brighter for everyone this Christmas season.

The will of the Father is to love Him and love our neighbor as ourselves. As we begin our final preparations to celebrate the birth of Christ our Lord may we never loose sight of what is important! It is easy for us to become discouraged especially when our generous offer is not accepted. We should never allow ourselves to become discouraged but rather shake the dirt from our shoes and keep moving forward with this message that can bring for those who accept it, true joy of heart. As we leave here today may we mediate on those very words we began with today, “Behold, I come to do your will.”

 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent 2012

 

“Your kindness should be known by all.” Today on this third Sunday of Advent which is known as “Gaudete Sunday” the word “Gaudete” is Latin for the word “rejoice.” This evening we rejoice, we rejoice because as St. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, “the Lord is near.”

It is my hope that all of us have taken the opportunity so far this advent season to pray starting the preparation for a place in our hearts for the Lord. Prayer is an essential part of our advent preparation. The second part of our preparation is penance. Brothers and sisters it is my hope that you have taken the opportunity to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation a part of that preparation to welcome the Lord into hearts. If you haven’t I invite you to consider coming this Tuesday at 7PM to our parish penance service. We will have about fifteen priests here to hear confessions Tuesday evening. I should also mention that Tuesday evening is also a big day for us as a parish as we celebrate the first anniversary of the dedication our beautiful Church. If you are available Tuesday evening please consider celebrating with us. There is no better way to celebrate the dedication of this building than to celebrate what it represents for us…the Church from which her sacraments flow.

Yesterday as we know from the news cycle a terrible tragedy occurred in the town of Newtown Connecticut. This town is grieving the loss of many innocent lives. It’s going to be a long hard road for all those affected by this tragedy. When faced with tragedies such as the one that happened in Connecticut it is hard for us to rejoice. Today I ask you to pray for those affected by this senseless act of violence but I also ask you to pray for all victims of violence. We hear of tragedies such as the one that happened in Newtown in the news but there are also those who are victims of violence also in our local communities. It is important that we pray for all victims of violence.

In the midst of tragedies like the one our nation experienced yesterday celebrating this advent season reminds us of the Lord’s presence among us. He has not abandoned us…He is right here! This liturgical season reminds us as we prepare to welcome Christ into our lives of our call to live our faith. The Lord’s “kindness should be known by all.” However, today many times His kindness isn’t shown because good people fail to act. We live in a broken world, a world that is in desperate need of fixing. You and I can no longer bury our heads in the sand to the problems we face in our society. Many today want to back the practice of faith into the confine of these four walls; however we cannot let that happen for if we allow that to happen senseless acts such as this will continue to increase. Jesus Christ is the true healer; Jesus Christ is the true liberator; follow His lead. It is important in times such as these we come together to place our total faith and trust in the Lord and Savior.

This is not the time to be pointing fingers but rather is a time to step up to the plate and take responsibility in search of ways that will ultimately work to prevent tragedies like these from occurring. Unfortunately, evil will always be among us, but the effects of evil can be limited and many times overcome by generous acts of charity. The evil one is trying with all his might to back us in a corner. Today I challenge all of us to strive to open our hearts to others this advent season! I ask each of us to foster a spirit of hospitality towards others welcoming them into our Catholic community.

People ask in times such as these where is God? People who do not practice a religion have a terrible time answering this question. Even if they say that they have faith they still have a hard time answering that question. Where is God? The answer is simply He is right here. We as Catholics believe and profess that He is right here in the tabernacle. Take a moment to look around you He is present in this entire congregation. When we gather to worship under one roof we are clearly reminded that He is right here among us. God never abandons us, yes we may from time to time abandon Him, but He never abandons us. We know where we can go to find Him and for that we should rejoice. The Lord is indeed near to all of us!

Today as we leave here I ask us to consider keeping up with our advent preparation, but this week I kindly ask that we consider praying not just for those affected by the events in Newtown, but also pray for all victims of violence. It is important that we come together in times such as these to pray for the grace and the strength to work diligently in the vineyard of the Lord in an attempt to prevent senseless acts of violence such as this from occurring. Many of these kinds of tragedies can be prevented and what it takes for averting tragedies such as this from occurring is love. Acts of love! In a few short weeks we will be celebrating love coming into in the world in the celebration of the birth of Christ, but let us never forget that He is already near us. May we remind ourselves and others of the Lord’s presence through acts of love!

 

Wednesday Adoration Reflection 12/12/2012

 

At the 8AM Mass this morning for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe I chose the option which I just proclaimed to you this evening from the Gospel of Luke that was about Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. On this the evening of Our Lady of Guadalupe and as we celebrate the Second Week of Advent I wish to briefly discuss the significance of this feast and how it can help us prepare to welcome Christ into our hearts.

The Virgin Mary appearing to Saint Juan Diego desired that a Church be built where she stood. Our Lady instructed Juan to see the Bishop and the Bishop not convinced asked Juan to ask Our Lady for a sign. That sign would be the very image of Our Lady we venerate today. The Blessed Mother desired that a Church be built for the purpose of honoring her beloved Son Jesus. Isn’t that why we are here tonight…to build a special place for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our hearts. The Church is more than a building built up of bricks and mortar, for each of us makes up the Church. Our Lord desires to dwell in us in order to work through us, but we must allow and invite Him in.

There is no better way to honor our Lady on her feast than to honor her Son. Tonight as we come here should allow ourselves to draw closer to Him. On the first week of Advent I preached on the importance of prayer, then last week I preached on the importance of the Sacrament of Penance, and as we gather here this evening I invite you to allow yourselves to do a little advent spring cleaning. As we take this opportunity before our Lord and Savior whom we honor in His humility on this altar this evening I ask each of us to take a moment to in return humble ourselves before Him. May we take a moment for some intense prayer asking the Lord to help us make room for Him in our lives!

How many of us have ever watched the show on A&E entitled Hoarders. A hoarder is someone who collects to an extreme where it even becomes hard to even walk in their homes. Sometimes there is a tendency in us to become hoarders in our hearts building up feelings of anger and hurt so much to the point where it is virtually impossible to grow in our spiritual life. Advent provides us another opportunity to let go and clean out our hearts so that there is room in there for the Lord. Tonight I ask you to pray and start preparing a place for Him in your hearts. Allow yourselves to pour out your hearts before Him. Lay down your life before the Lord this evening before the One who lays down His life for each of us day after day upon this very Altar.

Brothers and sisters this year of faith provides us a tremendous opportunity to deepen not just our knowledge of the faith but also strengthen our relationship with God. The Gospel I mentioned today really speaks of hospitality. Mary was hospitable reaching out to her cousin Elizabeth and Elizabeth was hospitable in welcoming Mary. I really think we as Catholics need to do a better job in the area of hospitality. The human condition as it is often times causes us to become set in our ways where we feel uncomfortable going outside the box. What is it we often complain about? That person is sitting in my seat…or won’t that child ever stop crying and don’t the parents know there is a place they can go in the back of Church. Perhaps that person sitting in your seat is Jesus. How is easy it is for us to forget that even the Lord Himself cried and made baby talk. You and I must do a better job when it comes to welcoming families and guests into our Churches. We need to go outside the box and this year of faith provides that opportunity. This week I challenge you to invite a guest to Church on the weekend or to join you here for adoration next Wednesday. Brothers and sisters; be His voice…be His voice in the world a world that often tries its best to drown it out.

Tonight we close by seeking Our Lady of Guadalupe’s intercession to help us to become more hospitable towards others for when we welcome the stranger we welcome her Son. Her instruction to Juan Diego was to build a Church tonight she challenges you and me especially during this year of faith to build up the Church.

 

 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent 2012

 

“John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Last week in my homily I talked about the importance of prayer in preparing ourselves during the season of advent. I touched the surface of structured prayer, personal prayer, and family prayer. Prayer is a good way for us to open our hearts in preparation for us to welcome Him into our lives. This week I opened up with the line from today’s Gospel from Luke which stated John the Baptist’s purpose and that was to prepare a way for the Lord by proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Continuing with our theme of preparation I want to speak on the topic of the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a part of our preparation during this Advent season. In order for us to utilize this sacrament we need to prepare ourselves properly. This is where prayer comes in because in order for us to confess our sins we need to make a good examination of conscience. We need to ask ourselves honestly when did I made a mistake, when was there a time I did not live up to God’s expectations and when we pray often times we discover those things we need to bring before the Lord. As I said last week, prayer is powerful because it can transform lives or change how we look at our life. Prayer often opens the door to discovering those things about ourselves that we need to change which is sometimes why prayer is often difficult for us.

Engaging in prayer can help us make a good confession. In approaching the Sacrament we need to keep in mind that we are approaching the Lord who longs and desires to have a relationship with us. When we approach this awesome Sacrament we should always keep that in mind and not reduce the Sacrament to simply a mere listing off of sins. The only kind of sins that need to be confessed by degree and number are mortal sins. The challenge for all of us is not to allow our confession to become simply a generic listing off of sins but rather allow it to be an opportunity to allow ourselves to open our hearts completely before the Lord.

So then what’s a mortal sin? For a sin to be mortal three things must be present…it must be grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. Now I am going use an example of what a mortal sin would look like injecting my lame attempt at humor. Let’s say I Father Carroll currently of sound mind and body with full use of reason were to go out and pick a fight with all Steeler fans. Picking a fight with someone can be considered grave matter, from what I mentioned as you can see I know it’s wrong, and finally I am choosing to do it deliberately. That’s a mortal sin. Although I am sure many of you are questioning my sanity especially since we both know there are probably more Steelers fans in this congregation than Ravens. However, let’s say someone got in an argument with me and I said some things that weren’t very Christian, would I be guilty of a mortal sin. Most likely not because I didn’t intend to get in the argument in the first place and I didn’t have the opportunity to deliberately think out what I was going to say…my passion at that very moment got the best of me. It happens to all of us.

I want to say something about the frequency of use of the Sacrament. As Catholics we are asked to confess our sins once a year, that’s the minimum. There is a reason for that and the reason is simple…sometimes we need to hear clearly that the Lord forgives us. When we confess our sins to a priest when he absolves us there should be absolutely no doubt we have been forgiven…we hear it. The world is noisy often times the Lord’s voice is drowned out…in confession His voice isn’t drowned out for we hear it clearly. Taking the minimum a step further it would be good to consider going twice a year at least once during the seasons of Advent and Lent. For some who want to deepen their spiritual life or perhaps are struggling with things more frequent might want to consider going once a month. An individual is free to go more than once a month, but unless there is a mortal sin involved I would generally recommend sticking to once a month. As a priest I believe frequent confession is important and necessary but at the same time we need to be cautious. The danger is twofold we can begin to use the sacrament as a crutch not allowing ourselves to grow spiritually, or it can cause us to become so scrupulous where we find ourselves paralyzed with fear to the point where we are not living the faith. We are called by God to be vigilant, but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to become so overwhelmed with the anxieties of everyday life to the point where we are not living the faith in our daily lives.

The advent season as I mentioned at last weeks Evening Prayer is twofold; it is about preparing ourselves for the Second Coming of Christ in glory, but it is also about preparing a place for Him in hearts as we prepare to celebrate His birth in order to help us live our faith in the world. Prepare the way of the Lord. As Saint Paul mentions prayer in today’s Second Reading I invite you to consider prayer as part of your Advent Preparation. Also I invite all of us to consider utilizing the great gift God has given us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation but before you go make sure you say a prayer. Don’t be afraid and approach the Sacrament with open hearts. Take this Advent seriously and be honest with the Lord…if you do I promise you your experience of Advent will be like no other you have experienced before.

 

Homily for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2012

 

In today’s readings for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception our readings are centered on the fall and the restoration of mankind. The first reading taken from the Book of Genesis focuses on the aftermath of the fall of Adam and Eve. There mistake was that they turned their back on God after being tricked by the serpent to eat of the tree in which the Lord had forbidden them. They balked at God.

Today’s Gospel reading taken from Luke is centered on the Angel Gabriel’s appearance to the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” While Adam and Eve balked at God, Mary accepted the Lord’s invitation becoming for us the new Eve and the Son who was to be born to her, was to become for us the new Adam. For at the end of the exchange Mary responded, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Adam and Eve’s rejection was overcome and the possibility of eternal life was restored with Mary’s yes.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is often misunderstood by Catholics. Often times when Catholics here the phrase Immaculate Conception the immediate thought is of Jesus’ conception. However, today we honor Mary’s conception and that we profess our belief that she was conceived without sin. Our readings today do not shed light on Mary’s conception, so then why do was as a Church honor the Immaculate Conception. One of the mistakes we can tend to make is that we spend all our times looking for things that are not there rather than looking for things that are present. For example, while the readings do not speak of Mary’s Immaculate Conception they do speak of God’s plan. In the first reading there was a fall resulting from Adam and Eve’s disobedience and because of that fall there needed to be a restoration. A restoration, that began to unfold with the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is why we honor the Immaculate Conception year after year because when we honor the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary we are honoring the process of our redemption.

Anne and Joachim received a miraculous gift in their daughter. The whole Church benefits from that gift. Mary’s Immaculate Conception paved the way for the birth of Christ. Today as we approach these Sacred Mysteries and as we honor the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God may we take the opportunity to thank Almighty God singing His praises for He has done wonderful things for us. Saying yes to God has its benefits! May we pray today through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary as we honor her Immaculate Conception for the grace and strength to never turn our backs on Him!

 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Homily for Evening Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent 2012

 

For our reflection this evening I would like to use the opening paragraph from today’s Second Reading from the Divine Office from the Office of Readings. This second reading is taken from a catechetical instruction by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop. “We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.” Advent is about preparation, in particular preparing for the Second Coming of Christ in glory.

Each year we as Christians celebrate Advent giving us a new opportunity to look ahead into the future for that day when the true light of the world returns. It is that day we await and it is that day in which we prepare ourselves for which is why during the season of Advent we are encouraged to utilize the gift which the Lord provides through this Church…the Sacrament of Reconciliation. See brothers and sisters there is really two parts of advent…the first part is about preparing to welcome in the Second Coming of Christ and the second part is about celebrating His birth at Christmas. One thing resonates with both parts is that the true point of advent is really about welcoming Christ into our lives. Advent is about welcoming Christ into our hearts.

This evening brothers and sisters we come together in this Church with that desire. We desire to welcome Jesus into our hearts. For that to happen…we simply need to make room. This afternoon we have an opportunity to allow our hearts to be moved as we reflect on the word of God and as we raise our voices together in song. Music and the word of God have the power to move hearts. While we can see from statistics how lyrics to music have a negative effect in our world it must be understood that it can also have a positive influence in the world. Adding music often changes how we look at the words, which is why chant has always been apart of Catholic Worship.

How should our hearts be moved? The answer is simple…our hearts are to be moved towards Him. Often times it is difficult for us to move closer to Him because our hearts are carrying heavy baggages. Perhaps there is a grudge we are harboring towards someone else, maybe there is a wound in our lives we keep opening up not allowing it to heal, or perhaps we carry an attitude that is not Christ like. Sin weighs us down. We need to clear the way for the Lord to enter our hearts. Each Advent we are looking forward to the Second Coming so we must legitimately ask ourselves if the Lord would come back tomorrow would we be ready. As Christians we need to be ready for that day. One of the biggest mistakes we make as a culture is that we tend to put things off to later. We often hear this phrase or we often use it ourselves, “there is still time.” When it comes to preparing our hearts, when it comes to living our faith, the time is now brothers and sisters. Prepare yourselves now…do not wait!

Today as we enter this season of preparation let us take this opportunity to renew ourselves. Renewal must begin from within; rid yourselves of evil from your hearts so that you can begin anew. Jesus Christ is coming…prepare now for His return in humility and prepare now as we all await together His return in glory!

 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Homily for the First Sunday of Advent 2012

 

Preparation is what the season of advent is all about. Particularly it’s a time that is set aside to help each of us to welcome Christ into our hearts. Some of us might have already did a little preparation already for the season, but the question we must honestly ask ourselves…was it the right kind of preparation.

In preparation for Christmas to get ourselves in the spirit we rush out to buy that perfect gift for the ones we love, spend countless hours decorating the interior and exterior of the house…details…details…details…we can easily get wrapped up in these details. Now I like decorating for Christmas, but much as I like decorating for Christmas I recognize that there is often one detail we fail to take into consideration and that is our own spiritual preparation. Preparing ourselves spiritually is a key in helping us to prepare for welcoming our Lord Jesus Christ into our hearts and our lives.

How does one prepare spiritually? Here is one way…prayer. It sounds simple, but trust me brothers and sisters it’s not. I’ve been a priest 3 ½ years and I still struggle to prepare myself spiritually because it is so easy for us to get so wrapped up in details that we fail to take the proper time we need in order to prepare ourselves spiritually. One thing that helps me as a priest is that we as priest have the divine office which we are required to pray. Some of you might be familiar with Divine Office often referred to as the Liturgy of the Hours which can be found in the four volume set or in its simpler form Christian Prayer, or even more basic form Shorter Christian Prayer. The Divine Office is to be said throughout the day and it takes about 15 minutes each to pray Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer. So if you are looking for some structured way to find time to pray you might want to consider picking up a copy of the shorter Christian Prayer that way you can pray the hinge hours (Morning, Evening, and Night).

Now structured prayer is good and helpful, but there is another kind of prayer that is more beneficial for us and that is our own personal prayer. As Bishop McFadden said at a recent closing of Forty Hours the rosary, the Our Father, the Hail Mary they are all good prayers but the most important kind of prayer we can bring before the Lord is the one in which we use our own words. “Hi Lord, how are you? I just wanted to stop by to pay you a visit today because I need some advice on how to handle a particular situation.” “Good Morning Lord, I just wanted to stop and say thank you for all that you have given me.” The words I just used are simple forms of prayer. Once you have spoken to the Lord take a moment or two to listen to what God has to say. If you find yourselves on a lunch break and are close to the Church the chapel is open during the day for you to stop and pray. If it’s in the evening remember you can always stop at the adoration chapel over at Saint Margaret Mary’s. There is always a place where we can go to spend some time with Jesus.

I have mentioned structured prayer, personal prayer, I now what to say something about family prayer. It is important we pray together as a family. One of the things we are lacking more today because of individuals being pulled in so many directions is the family meal. The family meal provides a great opportunity not only to share stories, provide an opportunity to inquire about how the day went, but more importantly gives families an opportunity to pray together. If you are not praying together as a family I invite you to start. Make that an advent pledge that you intend to make into a family tradition for each single day. Prayer is powerful! Prayer is powerful because it can transform lives and also how we look at life. Prayer must be an important part of our advent preparation. As I mentioned family prayer I want to talk about family prayer in the context of us here at a parish. We are more than a community…we are a parish family. It is important to come together as a parish family. Tomorrow/This afternoon if you are free we invite you to come back at 4PM to join for Solemn Evening Prayer. It is our hope that we will do this several times a year providing us simply another opportunity to pray together using song. Since it is the year of faith we are using this special time to renew ourselves in the faith and we will come together on Wednesday evenings throughout Advent in the chapel for Eucharistic Adoration and reflection. Today I extend to you a personal invitation to take advantage of the opportunities provided to come together and pray with and for one another.

Brothers and sisters as we leave here today going about our lives I invite you to take some time in prayer. In the midst of your preparation for Christmas during this advent season I ask you to consider making it a point to spend some time lifting your hearts and souls to the Lord. Be vigilant the Lord is near may we prepare a place in our hearts to welcome Him!

 

Homily for Confirmation Retreat 2012

 

Ladies and Gentlemen today we offer Mass for your confirmation retreat on the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle. This is fitting because Saint Andrew was invited to participate in something big; our Lord Jesus invited him to be His apostle in order to go out into the world to bring the good news. Today I want you to recognize that each one of you are also invited by the Lord to something big and that is to be His disciples and as we meditate upon God’s word I want you to think about how you are going to respond to the Lord’s invitation.

We have heard the word “confirmation” before in fact we use it often. Typically when we hear the word “confirmation” used we think of it as confirming a reservation. I often have the doctor’s office call to confirm by appointment or if I register for a trip often someone will call to confirm the reservation. Each of us has probably heard the word “confirmation” used that way before. In a few short months you will be confirming something your parents made at your baptism. On the day of your baptism your parents made a promise that they will raise you in the practice of the faith. They desired to dedicate you to God. Your parent’s made a reservation for you and now will be your opportunity to confirm that reservation before God. Before you are confirmed you will stand before your parish family and will make a profession of faith renouncing sin and stating publicly for the first time on your own your belief in Jesus Christ. This is a sufficient event in your life, please take it seriously.

At one time it was taught that confirmation made us an adult in the eyes of the Church. That is not an accurate understanding of what confirmation does. Nor is it the day in which the Holy Spirit enters you…for already you have the Holy Spirit with you. The Holy Spirit has been with you since your baptism. When you are confirmed you will receive the fullness of the Spirit. You will be endowed with the fruits and gifts of the Spirit which will help you through life. For this to happen…you must want it. Confirmation is not just another passage or stepping stone through life and while you can receive it for it to be truly spiritually beneficial you must be open to it. You are coming to a very critical point in your faith journey my friends and while confirmation doesn’t make you an adult so to speak in the Church you have come to a point where you are about to make a very adult decision in your life.

As I mentioned at the very beginning of my homily to you on this special day I said the Lord is inviting you to something big. Listen to these words once again from Jesus, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus is extending His hand to you. Listen to His words…for His words are Spirit and life.

 

Homily for Christ the King 2012

 

On this last week of the liturgical year we give thanks to Almighty God for the gift of Christ our King. Our Lord Jesus Christ is a king not like we are used to for most of us when we hear the word king our immediate thought is of someone of royalty who are dressed up in fancy robes and a crown adorned with best jewels money can buy. When we thing of a king we think of the ones we read about in fairy tales, but this is not kingship of Christ.

Christ’s kingship is expressed in humility. Today’s Gospel is taken from the Gospel of John and we are given the account of the dialogue between Pontius Pilate and Jesus at His trial before He was about to be put to death. “Are you the king of the Jews,” Pilate asked. Jesus responds, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Our Lord Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel reiterates something we already know and that is He was sent into the world to lay down His life so that those who believe in Him could be saved. This image the image of the crucified Christ reminds us of the totality of the love our Lord had for us. That image reminds us of why Jesus Christ is the King of the World. These mysteries we celebrate when our Lord Jesus Christ comes to us on this altar remind us of why Jesus should be our King.

Brothers and sisters it is extremely easy for us to get wrapped up in the world around us. It is extremely easy for us to become discouraged when things don’t seem to fall into place. Look up once again brothers and sisters at that image which is centrally located above the tabernacle. I hope you have that image in your homes and if you don’t make sure you go out and get a crucifix. In fact consider putting that image up in every single room of your homes…perhaps with the exception of the bathroom, but all joking aside make sure it is prominent fixture in every room. That image reminds us of God’s love and when someone says those phrases “Jesus loves me” and “you are special,” we can respond yes indeed Jesus loves me and indeed I am special that the Son of Man laid down His very life to save me.

This past week we had the opportunity to celebrate as a nation and more importantly with our family’s Thanksgiving Day. It is my hope in the midst of spending time with your families we took some opportunity to give thanks to God for all the gifts He has given us over the years. For the Mass on Thanksgiving Day the Gospel account for the day talked about the ten lepers who were cured. In the story only one of them who were cleansed returned to thank God for his healing. The Gospel account for this past Thursday paints a telling picture of our modern society. I don’t think we are expressing our gratitude much as we should especially when it comes to expressing our gratitude towards the Lord. How many of us would not think twice about spending an hour or two at a party or watch a movie that is a couple hours long, but when it comes to the celebration of the Mass we complain when it goes an hour. Standing up front and looking out it is evident some days to the number of people who leave after receiving communion or the Mass exodus after deacon or I say “go in peace.” Why are we in such a rush? I have even had people break the procession and walk past me while I am recessing out of the Church. If we truly realized what we have received there is no way we would rush out those doors. In some cases I realize there might be work schedules, someone gets sick, or the need to get home to take care of a sick child, however to do it on a regular basis for the sake of being the first one out the door to beat the lines at the restaurants is just unacceptable. Brothers and Sisters this is Jesus Christ…Christ the King of the universe…our actions should express and reflect our belief.

On this the Solemnity of Christ the king, I challenge all of us to renew our appreciation for the Lord. Indeed the Lord is King; he is robed in majesty, but his majesty is expressed in His humility. A humility that led to the cross and humility that continues to be expressed today in the very mysteries we celebrate today in the changing of the humble elements of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Personally I would rather follow a king whose words and example go hand and hand. Indeed Jesus Christ is King and that is what we express today, but today I challenge all of us to express our appreciation for His Kingship by witnessing to what He Himself demonstrated in our very lives.