Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Off to Hoxie

The next couple of days I'll be in Hoxie with my dad, hopefully fishing if the weather is nice. I'll be celebrating Mass Thursday and Friday at my home parish St. Frances Cabrini in Hoxie. Thursday is my fourth anniversary of ordination. I'll be back on Friday for the ordination rehearsal at Most Pure Heart in Topeka for prospective deacons Andrew Strobl, Matt Schiffelbein and Pat Sullivan. Congratulations to those three guys! It will be a great day for the Church in northeast Kansas.

Totus Tuus and Prairie Star Ranch

Exciting things happening in the Archdiocese - the staff for Totus Tuus is training at Savior and the staff for the Prairie Star Ranch is training at . . . .well, the Ranch! Both groups will do amazing catechetical work with our youth over the summer. I am so excited for the respective staffs to get an experience of working in the Lord's vineyard, where the harvest is rich but the laborers are few. Please join me in praying that their own faith will grow, that they will be great 'witnesses' to the beauty of our Catholic faith, and that they will be good vocation directors, opening hearts to the voice of Jesus at every opportunity. Pray also that these staff members will be open to the priesthood and religious life themselves. They have so many gifts to give, and the Lord Jesus will not let them down! Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Global Living Rosary

Congratulations to all the faithful in Northeast Kansas for a well-attended Corpus Christi procession and praying of the rosary at Kauffman stadium on Sunday. Most of the folks seemed to find some places in the shade to sit. It was a wonderful turnout at Kauffman stadium. As someone in the procession, it was great to see an event in Kansas City that reminded me of the recent papal Mass I attended at Yankee stadium. It was great to be on the centerfield grass at the K, since I'm a huge Royals fan. Thanks for everyone who was there and prayed. It was a great witness to our Catholic faith!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fr Shawn Tunink Priesthood Ordination

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has a new priest - Fr. Shawn Tunink. Archbishop Naumann announced publicly at the Mass that Fr. Shawn is assigned as the new parochial vicar for Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka, Kansas. Today's liturgy was extraordinarily beautiful at our St. Peter's Cathedral. The staff from Camp Tekakwitha was there praying, as well as the Little Sisters and Brothers of the Lamb, a mendicant order from France that is just taking up residence within our Archdiocese. The Litany of the Saints was again a high point of the liturgy. It was easy to tell that Shawn had worked on selecting the individual saints whose intercession was invoked - they were divided into sections! A good two hours spent. May Fr. Shawn be a good and zealous priest of Jesus Christ! The picture of the monstrance here is a picture taken by Shawn at the site of the tragic accident that took the lives of Shawn's fellow seminarians, Matty Molnar and Jared Cheek, in 2005.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Homily for Monday of the 7th Week of Ordinary Time

When we are in the presence of Jesus, evil loses its power over us, just as the evil spirit lost its power over the boy in today's Gospel. Have we not experienced this many times over, my brothers and sisters? How much harder is it for us to think evil thoughts, to turn our minds to the bitter jealousy and selfish ambition that St. James discourages in today's first reading, when we are in the presence of Jesus. His presence comes to us in so many ways whenever we are open to the promptings of the Spirit, but of course, His presence is full and unique in the Blessed Sacrament, which we are privileged to be able to adore and even more privileged to receive once again this evening. Reception of the Eucharist completes the sacrament of reconciliation. The sacrament of reconciliation, while casting out evil in its own right by the calling down of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of our sins, also predisposes to realize the power of the Eucharist to cast out evil from our lives in an even more powerful way, since through the Eucharist Jesus is most fully present to us - body and blood, soul and divinity. As we learn from today's Gospel, the more Jesus is present, the less power that evil has.

It is the powerlessness over certain kinds of evil experienced by the disciples, and by us, that should drive us to return to Jesus in the Eucharist for the strength that we need to continue the battle. All of us suffer from some sin that we worry will prove fatal in our lives - that sin that we have confessed a thousand times over and plan on confessing a thousand times more in the hope that the sin will not overcome us. Rather than turning to despair in the face of such persistent sins, however, today's Gospel urges us to turn to prayer instead, and of course, to continue calling upon Jesus who alone has won the definitive victory over evil. It is because Jesus has such ultimate power, given to Him by His Father, that He can say with confidence that everything is possible for the one who has faith. Looking only a few days, or months or years ahead, many things do seem impossible to us - will I ever be virtuous? Will I ever be holy? Will I ever know God's will exactly? All of these questions unaided by faith seem impossible. Faith, however, turn us to the contemplation of Jesus and His promises, and sees in the completion of the paschal mystery that Jesus has indeed given us everything that He received from the Father, and what is more, He has given us everything we could ever desire or hope for by going to prepare a place for us in the kingdom of heaven. With the perspective of faith, which is the assurance of things that we hope for, and evidence of things we cannot yet see, all things are possible for us, for all things await in heaven for those who persevere with Jesus in faith, hope and love. Let us strengthen one another, then, in the battle against evil, by helping each other to know Jesus truly in the Holy Eucharist that we now share together. Lord, we do believe! Help our unbelief! +m

Come and See Retreat with the Apostles

First time in awhile I am posting something besides a homily or a short Pope Benedict 'ferverino'. Off in the beautiful weather today to somewhere in Missouri I've never been (the Loehr getaway house) with the Apostles of the Interior Life from KU and Wisconsin and their invited guests for a 'Come and See' retreat. Good timing, the week after graduation before the summer gets hectic. The weather for KU graduation was absolutely perfect - 80 and still and sunny. Congrats to all graduates at every level - now go and share what you have learned! The Royals are playing well, just a couple games out of first, and the summer is filled with promising trips, retreats, and time for prayer and reading as well. I've had the fishing bug lately, and have caught quite a few crappie at Clinton lake, but very few big ones! Later this week it's on to the seminarians retreat for KCK and then the ordination of Shawn Tunink to the priesthood on Saturday at our Cathedral. Should be a great week, thanks be to God!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit Part XIV

From remarks made to Catholic educators

"This sacrifice continues today. It is an outstanding apostolate of hope, seeking to address the material, intellectual and spiritual needs of over three million children and students. It also provides a highly commendable opportunity for the entire Catholic community to contribute generously to the financial needs of our institutions. Their long-term sustainability must be assured. Indeed, everything possible must be done, in cooperation with the wider community, to ensure that they are accessible to people of all social and economic strata. No child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation"

All those involved in the religious education of students should take great hope in these words from the Holy Father, who describes such work as an outstanding apostolate of hope which nurtures the soul of our nation! He challenges all of us to be most prudent stewards of the resources available to us, and to do an extensive examination of conscience regarding the way that we use our money, and to be aware of the great good that can be done when quality religious education is available to all regardless of socioeconomic background. He thanks all of those who are already making great sacrifices within this apostolate.

Homily for Saturday of the 6th Week of Ordinary Time

Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!
St. James the Apostle, pray for us!
What an extraordinary meditation St. James provides for us regarding sinning with our tongues. Can it really be true that if we are able to control the evil that passes from our lips, we have control over the whole body. If this is not an incentive to do a better examination of conscience regarding our speech, and to confess sins of the lips as often as possible so as to destroy the momentum that cursing and gossip have in our lives, then I don't know what is. I had forgotten until this week what a powerful letter the letter to St. James is! I wonder if there has ever been a better examination of conscience ever written? In the story of the Transfiguration we hear in today's Gospel, the disciples are instructed not to try to 'capture' the glory of heaven here on earth. The glory of heaven is revealed by the splendor of creation, and Peter, James and John receive the additional gift of seeing the glory of the Trinity reflected by Jesus' transfigured body, but the disciples are discouraged from building three tents to prolong the Transfiguration experience. The object of the Transfiguration is not to make room for God here on the earth, where His glory could never fully reside anyway, since God is bigger than the world. Instead, the object of the Transfiguration is to renew the focus of the apostles on the kingdom of Heaven, to which Christ one day will ascend. The object of the Transfiguration is to get the apostles to 'listen to Him' - to the one who will lead them to a place where their desire for the supernatural can be satisfied completely. That is why the disciples are even forbidden to speak about the Transfiguration until after the Resurrection, for the Transfiguration is not an end in itself, but was provided as a precursor to faith in the more important mysteries of the Resurrection and the Ascension. +m

Friday, May 16, 2008

Homily for Friday of the 6th Week of Ordinary Time

Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!
In working with high school students, oftentimes I find that their faith starts to lose meaning to them unless they can demonstrate it somehow, by serving the less fortunate or by teaching. Admittedly, oftentimes I get frustrated at how little progress teenagers are making in theological knowledge, but the letter from St. James shows how faith and works must grow together. They are partners in discipleship, and there will be times when works undertaken will precede and open the way for a greater confession of faith. Even though faith is always primary, for Jesus says that without Him we can do nothing, St. James teaches us that it is less important to proclaim the victory of faith over works than to realize the two are partners in discipleship. Works support faith and faith supports works. St. James further points out that in fact it is better to perform good works and be ignorant of one's faith than to have faith, but to ignore the needs of a neighbor. Christians, then, should never be so preoccupied with their individual pursuit of holiness that they neglect the work of charity. Jesus reminds his disciples in today's Gospel that if they want to follow Him, they must die to self. Vocational discernment, then, must always move beyond a consideration of trying to fulfill the deepest desires of one's heart, although this cannot be ignored. Imitating Jesus as exactly as we can, which is the foundation of every vocation, requires a consideration not merely of adding something to our lives, but more importantly, requires finding out what needs to be 'substracted' so that people no longer see us, but Christ.

Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit Part XIII

From homily at Nationals Park in Washington DC

"In today’s Gospel, the risen Lord bestows the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and grants them the authority to forgive sins. Through the surpassing power of Christ’s grace, entrusted to frail human ministers, the Church is constantly reborn and each of us is given the hope of a new beginning. Let us trust in the Spirit’s power to inspire conversion, to heal every wound, to overcome every division, and to inspire new life and freedom. How much we need these gifts! And how close at hand they are, particularly in the sacrament of Penance! The liberating power of this sacrament, in which our honest confession of sin is met by God’s merciful word of pardon and peace, needs to be rediscovered and reappropriated by every Catholic. To a great extent, the renewal of the Church in America and throughout the world depends on the renewal of the practice of Penance and the growth in holiness which that sacrament both inspires and accomplishes."

It is no accident that the hardest thing for Catholics to do also ends up being, according to the Holy Father, the thing that will most help them to grow in holiness. We must achieve a great balance between receiving the sacrament of penance and receiving the Eucharist. There is nothing wrong with receiving the Eucharist regularly; unless, of course, the patterns of sin in our lives render us unable to unwrap the grace made present by the sacrament. The sacrament of reconciliation always brings about the virtues of courage, humility and faith within us, which are fundamental to anyone wanting to change and to be made more fully into the likeness of Christ, whom we have the privilege of receiving in the Holy Eucharist.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Homily for Thursday of the 6th Week of Ordinary Time

St. Isidore, pray for us!
The word of God cuts more surely than a two-edged sword. Today the privilege of sharpening our consciences belongs to the letter attributed to St. James, who indicts those of us (all of us I imagine) who show partiality toward those held in higher esteem by the world. The temptation to be liked by others who are important, and to thus become more important ourselves, is so extraordinarily difficult to resist. I suppose there are some who are naturally meek, and who do not have to go to great lengths to follow the advice of John the Baptist to 'decrease, so that He may increase!' For most of us, however, we want to matter. We want our lives to make a difference. We crave to be noticed by others, and so we cater to those who seem to have the most influence. St. James suggests, in a way characteristic of the word of God which always turns our thinking upside-down, that the rich of this world, far from being able to give us a 'leg up,' instead should more likely be considered to be those who 'oppress us' This is hard for us to get our minds around, isn't it? We think of oppressors being those who hold power over us and have the ability to treat us like slaves, not people whose autographs we clamor for! St. James warns us not to be slaves of those people that we idol, but slaves like Christ, of those whom the world considers weak. If we really think about how hard it is to make ourselves the slaves of those we look down upon, we will realize how sublime is the love that flows from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and how narrow the road that leads to the discovery of this kind of divine love!

Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit - Part XII

From remarks made to US Bishops concerning vocations!

"In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers. He even admits that the workers are few in comparison with the abundance of the harvest (cf. Mt 9:37-38). Strange to say, I often think that prayer – the unum necessarium – is the one aspect of vocations work which we tend to forget or to undervalue! Nor am I speaking only of prayer for vocations. Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by which we come to know the Lord’s will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God’s call. Programs, plans and projects have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call."

So much for inventing new vocations programs. The Pope instructs that we have failed to raise vocations to the priesthood and religious life insofar as we have failed to teach the young people of the Church how to pray. This is first the responsibility of families, to spend as much time learning how to develop this 'intimate dialogue' with the Lord as they do on other activities and entertainment. Vocation directors as well, would do better to stop trying to find new ways to convince young people that the priesthood or religious life is the best life for them. Instead, we should teach them how to pray, and then trust the response that emerges as the fruit of that prayer!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit Part XI

From remarks made to US Bishops regarding secularism
"Of course, what is essential is a correct understanding of the just autonomy of the secular order, an autonomy which cannot be divorced from God the Creator and his saving plan (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 36). Perhaps America’s brand of secularism poses a particular problem: it allows for professing belief in God, and respects the public role of religion and the Churches, but at the same time it can subtly reduce religious belief to a lowest common denominator. Faith becomes a passive acceptance that certain things “out there” are true, but without practical relevance for everyday life. The result is a growing separation of faith from life: living “as if God did not exist”. This is aggravated by an individualistic and eclectic approach to faith and religion: far from a Catholic approach to “thinking with the Church”, each person believes he or she has a right to pick and choose, maintaining external social bonds but without an integral, interior conversion to the law of Christ."

For me, the Pope's comments here about picking and choosing represent a tendency on the part of Americans to speak about making God a 'bigger part of my life' instead of real interior conversion and obedience to the law of Christ. The same tendency regards the Church as a store and the sacraments as 'items for purchase' within the store. We think of going to Church when it is convenient for us and of availing ourselves of the sacraments if and only if we are convinced they will be able to add something to my life. We have to move beyond thinking of adding or subtracting God from our lives. We have no power to do this. We only have the power to use our freedom to recognize his presence, and to unwrap the superabundance of grace that is always present through the sacraments of the Church. Thinking with the Church as the pope instructs us does not allow for our thinking of the Church as something of relative value, but we must recognize Her as the unique instrument of the salvation found in Christ alone.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Homily for Tuesday of the 6th Week of Ordinary Time

For daily readings, see
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
Baccalaureate Mass for 2008 Graduates of St. Thomas Aquinas High School

Jesus gives better advice, as you might expect, than anything I could think to tell you, the Class of 2008, at your final Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas High School. In the Gospel proclaimed by the Church throughout the world today, Jesus says to His disciples: Watch out! Guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. As astute graduates of an esteemed high school through which you have pursued theological study, you should all immediately know what Jesus is talking about here. The leaven of the Pharisees consists in their overemphasis on religious law, to the exclusion of heartfelt love of God and of neighbor. The leaven of Herod is an overemphasis on the things of the world, to the exclusion of love of God and neighbor. From both of these leavens Jesus asks you, the class of 2008, to be on guard. Your advice, class of 2008, from Jesus is simple: Watch out!

As we learn from Jesus' instructions to his disciples in today's Gospel, Jesus has a really, really hard time softening the hearts of his disciples. He has a really hard time opening their eyes and ears and getting them to truly contemplate the things of heaven. The reason there were twelve baskets of bread left over after Jesus fed the 5000, and 7 baskets of bread left over after Jesus fed the 4000, was to point to the superabundance of life and love awaiting all of us in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus came to earth, not to feed us for a day, but to point us all to heaven, to a place so far beyond our imagining, a place so much better than anything Adam and Eve experienced in the garden of Eden. For in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve did not see the face of God, nor were they invited to participate completely in the love of the Holy Trinity, nor were they invited to have all of their millions of desires, and to have their greatest desire, to speak to God face to face as a friend, fulfilled in a single instant. No, Adam and Eve were offered none of these things in the garden, but all of these things are offered to the disciples of Jesus who are willing to follow Him through His paschal mystery. Yet Jesus has a dickens of a time getting the disciples to realize what heaven is really like. He has a hard time getting them to soften their hearts, to open their eyes and ears, and to realize the superabundance of life and love to which He is inviting them. After feeding the 5000, He said to them that whoever eats that bread will be hungry again, and will eventually die, but whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood will never die, but will inherit everlasting life! Yet here He is again, after the fact, teaching disciples who are worried about whose fault it was that they only remembered to bring one loaf of bread on the boat!

Jesus asks you, the class of 2008, to not fall into this trap of basing your lives on the leaven of Herod or the leaven of the Pharisees. He asks you to guard against the leaven of Herod, and to not fall into the temptations and traps of materialism and secularism that lie before you. As St. James says in our first reading, the idolatry that trusts more in things and in human esteem than in God leads to patterns of sin in your life, and these patterns of sin lead to the death of your soul and to the death of your relationship with God. We are all sinners, and there is no shame in this because we have a Savior, Jesus, who loves us at the point of our weakness, and is always there to heal and strengthen us, and to free us so that we may start again on the path of goodness. Dear seniors, whatever you do, do not fall away from the sacrament of reconciliation in the years ahead, and if you have already fallen away from it, return as quickly as you can. Go to confession every month when you are in college. We are all sinners, and we all give in to the things of this world, and we are always tempted to form addictions to things that are less than what God desires for us. This is the leaven of Herod. Jesus asks us however, to keep fighting for the gifts of God that last forever, and not to be too prideful to ignore the gift of His mercy or too wimpy to give in and to give ourselves over to a life of sin. Dear seniors, continue to be humble and courageous in your pursuit of virtue and holiness. Do not let your hearts become hardened, your eyes and ears closed to the reality of how much God loves you and desires you to have life and happiness in great abundance! Let your sinfulness not bring you despair or cause you to lower your expectations of yourelf, but let those sins lead you back to Jesus. May they only serve increase your dependence upon the unique love Jesus has for you, and may it deepen your conversation and friendship with Him who is always ready to forgive your sins!

As your courageously battle against the leaven of Herod, guard also against the more invidious leaven of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were indicted by Jesus for trying to control the gifts of God, and to define who was worthy of salvation. By trying to ration the gifts of God, they showed that their hearts were far from the kingdom of heaven. We can be guilty of the same thing, especially when we view heaven as a distant reality, as a place where we might want to go after squeezing every ounce of happiness out of our earthly lives. We can see heaven as a place we might like to go someday, but not today since we don't know much about it, and as a place for people who didn't mess up too badly while on this earth. This is not the heaven to which Jesus invites us, however. Jesus begs his disciples to be people who are ready for the things of heaven right here, right now. In the Eucharist you are about to share for the last time as a St. Thomas Aquinas community, Jesus invites you, the class of 2008, to pray with the angels and with the saints from all of human history, and to enter into the reality of heaven made possible by His Resurrection and Ascension. Too often, like the Pharisees, we are too concerned with micro-managing our lives here below without ever thinking about heaven, and we are guilty of thinking about God as something we can add to our lives here on earth to make our lives a little better. My dear friends, the kingdom of heaven to which Jesus invites us is not something we can make a bigger part of our lives, it is an altogether new reality to which we must abandon ourselves. You've heard me say to you while I was your chaplain - the leaven of the Pharisees is their thinking that they can control the salvation of God, their thinking that they can move the Grand Canyon into their living room. Jesus came that we may have more life, and have it in abundance (Jn 2:5) but to realize his promises, we cannot approach going to Mass the same way we approach shopping, giving it a relative value within the context of our lives. Yes, Jesus wants us to get something out of Mass, he wants to make our lives better, but first we must recognize that He is through the Mass offering us a bigger and better life than anything we can imagine or hope for, and we must resist every temptation to fit Him in when it is convenient for us!

So go to Mass and go to confession in college. Go as often as you can. Be disciples, class of 2008, who keep your hearts and minds fixed on the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. It is from heaven that every perfect gift comes, as St. James says to us today. Never stop pursuing the perfection that God has marked out for you and wants to accomplish within you. Never settle for anything less. Ask Mary, your Mother, to guide you in knowing your vocation, and in responding to that vocation with generosity and with a soul that magnifies the Lord. Ask Mary to be close to you in your struggle for chastity, for in trying to keep this virtue you will distinguish yourselves from your peers, give a convincing witness to the truth of the Gospel, and experience a freedom to recognize a call to sacramental marriage or to religious life. Do not be like others who when asked what Jesus wants them to do with their lives, say 'Uh, I don't know!' You know Jesus' voice. It has been with you from your baptism. He asks you to follow Him as exactly as you can, and so I challenge this class of 2008 to do everything you can to not throw away your vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Jesus will not let you down - do not be afraid to follow Him and to imitate Him as exactly as you can, and so give witness to to the faith and hope that is within you.

Finally, dear class of 2008, remember your identity as Saints. Remember the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to you at your Confirmation, and go out and make the love of Christ more real in the world around you. If you desire holiness only for yourself, your faith will easily be taken away from by others. If however, you desire holiness and the kingdom of heaven out of love for your neighbor, then you will persevere to the end. Know that God is counting on you to make disciples, and to bring many people with you to the kingdom of heaven. Know that there are people out there who will only get to heaven if you are willing to make great sacrifices that give witness to them of the strength of your faith. As you leave your final Mass, and go your separate ways after graduation, may you, the class of 2008, be able to look each other in the eyes, and promise to one another to do everything you can to arrive together one day in the kingdom of heaven that Christ has marked out for each one of you. May the song that you have heard a thousand times over within the walls of St. Thomas Aquinas high school continue to echo in your hearts and keep those hearts set on the things of heaven. When the Saints go marching in, oh when the saints go marching in, oh let us all arrive there together, when the saints go marching in!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Homily for the Solemnity of Pentecost

For daily readings, see

As Jesus breathed upon the disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit, He handed on to them the power to bind and to loose sins. Now ordinarily, when we think about this gift of the Spirit given to the Church, we think about sacramental confession. This is the ordinary place, is it not, where the Church 'looses' sins. Most of the time, you and I do not come out of the confessional with some of our sins loosed and some of our sins bound. Almost all the time, we leave the confessional with our sins forgiven, and this is good. The power to bind sins that Jesus gave to his Church, then, deals more with the responsibility the Church has, guided by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to teach the truth given to Her by Her Lord, and to keep people united in this truth. This gift of the Spirit to bind sins is not a power the Church has to condemn anyone, but is a power to distinguish good and evil, and it is a responsibility of the Church to never stop proclaiming the moral truth needed to preserve human dignity, no matter how hard the circumstances. To this end, most of you are aware that Archbishop Naumann in his Leaven column this week spoke out about the responsibility of every Catholic who is in communion with the Church to uphold the sanctity of every human life, especially to do everything we can to protect the rights of unborn children. He discusses in the article his ongoing discussions with Governor Sebelius, regarding her moral responsiblities as a practicing Catholic. I invite those of you who have not yet read the Archbishop's article to take a copy as you leave Mass today, and to prayerfully consider what He is saying. The reaction to the article has been strong already, but it seems to me that most of the people who comment on the internet either are triumphalistic Catholics who do not see the sadness of this situation at hand, or those who think the Archbishop has no authority whatsoever to speak out on behalf of the truth, because of scandal within the Church, or a false understanding of the separation of Church and state. I hope most of us realize that situations like the one before us are unfortunate, and indicate a great need for deep reflection, prayer and reconciliation so that the unity Christ desires for His Church may become a greater reality.

It is this unity, which is Christ's gift to His Church through the working of the Holy Spirit, that we are here to celebrate with tremendous joy on the great Solemnity of Pentecost, the end of our 50 days of Easter celebration. Sometimes I think we too easily identify the gifts of the Holy Spirit with the charismatic movement of our Church, with those who have the ability to speak in tongues, or with great artists and musicians, or with those people who have great gifts for the evangelization of others. Certainly all of these charisms are gifts of the Spirit, meant for the building up of the body of Christ, as St. Paul instructs. It is more important, however, to realize, that the Holy Spirit can and must work powerfully in the lives of each one of us who have been baptized and confirmed, regardless of whether we possess any of the more sublime or artistic talents associated with the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul puts it to the Corinthians - No one can say that Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the essential gift to those who wish to walk by faith, and not by sight, as the Lord now wishes us to do in the time after his Ascension, for it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we remain in His Word. The Church enjoys the gift of the Spirit to remind the faithful of everything that the Lord did and said. What is more, however, the Church receives the gift of the Spirit to make Jesus Christ really and truly present through the gift of the Holy Eucharist.

Jesus said to the disciples before his Ascension - it is better for you if I go! How true are these words spoken by Jesus, because of the great Solemnity of Pentecost that we are here to celebrate today. Jesus appeared to 500 disciples or more after the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead. What a tremendous gift this was to those who were able to see the Risen Lord! Yet through the working of the Holy Spirit given in its fullness at Pentecost, over one billion Catholics throughout the world this morning, are invited not simply to see Jesus, but to become one flesh with Him as the Holy Spirit changes ordinary bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, and enables us to say Amen - Jesus is Lord - He is truly Risen from the Dead and has gone to prepare a place for us in heaven - immediately before we receive the sacred body and blood of our Lord on this great Solemnity.

How sublime is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Through the Holy Spirit we profess our faith in the Lord Jesus are are able to really and truly receive Him - body and blood, soul and divinity, even more surely than those who saw Him after He rose from the dead. This same Spirit, the bond of love between the Father and the Son, keeps our minds and hearts on the new destiny given to all those who belong to Christ. Only a sharing in the very love of God, which is the gift awaiting us in heaven, a gift greater than anything given to Adam and Eve in the garden, can fulfill the supernatural desires that are within each one of us. Empowered by the Spirit, let us leave our Pentecost celebration this morning intent on keeping our thoughts on the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. Let us contemplate the things of heaven, and place our lives within the mystery of the love between the Father and the Son, rather than trying to fit such an infinite love within the context of our much smaller lives on this earth. The Spirit teaches us how to set our hearts on the things of heaven, and then compels us to share these gifts with others; to evangelize and to share the Good News of the hope that is within us!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Homily for Saturday of the 7th Week of Easter

Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!

John the Beloved Disciple, pray for us!

Peter and Paul, Princes of the Apostles, pray for us!

Jesus tells Peter in today's Gospel not to worry that the vocation of John, the beloved disciple, is different than Peter's vocation. Jesus reminds all of us who meditate on today's Gospel that it is by following the lot marked out for us that we will find our delight! Questions often arise in our hearts as to why Jesus asks us to do this our that, especially if we think we are being asked to do more by the Lord than someone else. Jesus tries to save Peter from useless comparisons of mission and holiness. The litany of humility invites us to pray that others will be holier than we are, provided that we be as holy as we are supposed to be. Jesus says the same thing about Peter's vocation. He is not to worry whether John's vocation is different or more or less than his. Instead, Peter is to be single-hearted in following the vocation given him by Jesus. Jesus reiterates His command to Peter - follow me! In the same way, I think those who are called to the priesthood and religious life are not to worry about who else is receiving the call, and who else might ignore it. We must trust that Jesus is picking out a life for us better than the life we would chose for ourselves. We must simply follow His will even if it takes us where we do not want to go!


Friday, May 9, 2008

Homily for Friday of the 7th Week of Easter

For daily readings, see

St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, pray for us!

The obedience asked by our Lord of Peter is an obedience born of love and forgiveness. Jesus issues a direct call and challenge to Peter at the end of today's Gospel. If Peter is going to feed and to tend the followers of Jesus, then he will be led by them to a place he does not want to go, in imitation of the Lord who prayed that the cup of suffering would pass Him by, but followed the will of the Father nonetheless. In the same way, there will be many times when Peter will want to do something other than to tend the flock of Jesus, and something other than to follow the Lord's will for his life. Reminded of the love that He has for Christ, however, Peter will be the Rock whose faith will not fail. Indeed, he will be the one to strengthen the faith of his brothers, and he still does this today through the ministry of his successor, the Pope. Note that Jesus' command that Peter feed His sheep is not a precondition to his receiving Jesus' love. No, quite the opposite, it is the reception of Jesus' love despite Peter's unworthiness that is the precondition for Peter's becoming strong enough to obediently follow Jesus' will, no matter if that will takes Peter where he would rather not go.

Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit - Part X

From remarks made to US Bishops

"Time spent in prayer is never wasted, however urgent the duties that press upon us from every side. Adoration of Christ our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament prolongs and intensifies the union with him that is established through the Eucharistic celebration (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 66). Contemplation of the mysteries of the Rosary releases all their saving power and it conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 11, 15). Fidelity to the Liturgy of the Hours ensures that the whole of our day is sanctified and it continually reminds us of the need to remain focused on doing God’s work, however many pressures and distractions may arise from the task at hand. Thus our devotion helps us to speak and act in persona Christi, to teach, govern and sanctify the faithful in the name of Jesus, to bring his reconciliation, his healing and his love to all his beloved brothers and sisters. This radical configuration to Christ, the Good Shepherd, lies at the heart of our pastoral ministry, and if we open ourselves through prayer to the power of the Spirit, he will give us the gifts we need to carry out our daunting task, so that we need never “be anxious how to speak or what to say” (Mt 10:19)."

The Holy Father reminds his bishops wisely and simply that time spent in prayer is priceless. The main thing that radically configures a person to Christ is this willing sacrifice of time and energy that could be spent elsewhere, even doing good, so that a bishop or priest is never confused as to whether it is He or the Lord that is acting. Prayer eliminates this confusion, and attributes all actions to Christ. Prayer keeps us focused not on our own achievement, however important, but on the gifts that God wants to bestow. Without prayer, in vain is our earlier rising, and in vain is our later going to rest (Ps 127). The pope suggests that anxiety is a sign of a lack of prayer, and trust in the work of God. The pope proposes Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary and the Liturgy of the Hourse not as a checklist, but as a minimum of prayer that is justly expected of a priest, to aid His interior dedication to Christ the High Priest.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Homily for Thursday of the 7th Week of Easter

For daily readings, see

Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!
Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten our hearts, and enkindle in us the fire of your love!

Today's Gospel reading from John is a beautiful prayer by Jesus describing the kingdom to which His followers are invited. Jesus prays that His disciples would share in the oneness of the Father and Son, in the perfection of the Godhead, in the glory of the Trinity, in the exchange of love between the Father and Son, and in Jesus' seat at the right hand of the Father. In other words, Jesus is praying that the new destiny shared by those who are members of His body far exceeds anything that Adam and Eve experienced in the garden, and so far beyond what has dawned upon the mind of man. One of the greatest inhibitors to people's seeking to be more religious is a failure to contemplate just how great a gift Jesus is offering. We do not contemplate heaven enough, nor do we meditate on how to place our lives within the kingdom of heaven. Instead, we spend a lot of time meditating on how to make the kingdom of heaven a part of our lives, and in so doing, our vision of the glory of heaven is impoverished. This is why Jesus says that it is better for us if He goes to the Father to prepare a place for us. The Ascension keeps our attention to the new destiny opened by the Resurrection of Christ, and then gives way to Pentecost. The Holy Spirit moves those born of the Spirit to seek those things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God!


Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit Part IX

From remarks made to US Bishops

"If you yourselves live in a manner closely configured to Christ, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, you will inspire your brother priests to rededicate themselves to the service of their flocks with Christ-like generosity. Indeed a clearer focus upon the imitation of Christ in holiness of life is exactly what is needed in order for us to move forward. We need to rediscover the joy of living a Christ-centered life, cultivating the virtues, and immersing ourselves in prayer. When the faithful know that their pastor is a man who prays and who dedicates his life to serving them, they respond with warmth and affection which nourishes and sustains the life of the whole community."

Let us support the Pope and our bishops by answering the Holy Father's call to immerse ourselves in prayer, and by living that distinctive joy that comes from our relationshiop with the one who came that we might have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10). The pope is very clear in reminding us that it is our single-hearted imitation of Christ that will bear the most fruit and that will bring us the deepest happiness. Let us strive to be ever closer to the One who became man to be close to us. May we grow in humility through our prayer, and decrease so that He may increase!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Homily for Wednesday of the 7th Week of Easter

Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!

Come Holy Spirit, enlighten our hearts, and enkindle in us the fire of your love!

St. Paul pray for us!

Both of today's readings speak of goodbyes, which are hard to be sure, but a necessary part of a good life. Jesus asks us to follow Him, and to be led by His Holy Spirit, and this means for Paul, that He is continually driven by the Spirit to different places to preach the Gospel. Today, Paul is saying a tearful goodbye to the presbyters at Ephesus. Whenever biblical Christians say that the priesthood is unnecessary, I always point them to this part of the Acts of the Apostles, where Paul addresses the prebyters of the Church of Ephesus. The early Church had priests, there is no denying this, and the priesthood is an integral part of the apostolic tradition, as testified by Scripture. I hope that you are looking forward as I am to the Year of St. Paul proclaimed by our Holy Father, that I believe begins in June. We have so much to learn from Paul by spending a year praying with Him and meditating on his apostolic mission. His zeal and courage are to be an inspiration for those of us struggling to live out the charism of our Confirmation, and our call to baptize all the nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

On this graduation week as we say goodbye to our graduates, let us pray that with our Lord Jesus in today's section of his farewell discourse that the graduates of KU, especially those who have immersed themselves in the ministry of the St. Lawrence Center, may be consecrated in the truth. May they live in the world in imitation of Jesus, not hating the world but allowing the world to hate them. May they transform the world through an effective witness of the truth, beauty and goodness that is within them because they belong to Christ, and not to the evil one. May they experience the fullness of life that comes from the grace of Christ received through the Holy Sacraments of the Church, and live in this world joyfully even as their hearts remain set on the eternal things of heaven, where Christ has ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father!


Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit - Part VIII

From remarks made to US Bishops

"What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today? We need to reassess urgently the values underpinning society, so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike. All have a part to play in this task – not only parents, religious leaders, teachers and catechists, but the media and entertainment industries as well. Indeed, every member of society can contribute to this moral renewal and benefit from it. Truly caring about young people and the future of our civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to flourish. It falls to you, as pastors modeled upon Christ, the Good Shepherd, to proclaim this message loud and clear, and thus to address the sin of abuse within the wider context of sexual mores."

Let us pray in thanksgiving that bishops such as Archbishop Naumann in Kansas City, Kansas ( and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joe ( have stepped forward to answer the Holy Father's call to speak out against pornography and against a culture of sexual mores. Let us pray with the Holy Father that those who produce material that injures the moral formation of young people will repent and be converted to purity, truth and goodness. Let us all care for the young people by doing everything we can to look upon one another the way God looks upon us, and do everything we can to avoid the objectification of the human body.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Homily for Tuesday of the 7th Week of Easter

For daily readings, see

Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!
Come Holy Spirit, enlighten our hearts, and enkindle in us the fire of your love!

What a bold proclamation we have from Paul in today's first reading! In imitation of Christ, who in today's Gospel says in His farewell prayer to the Father that He has not lost any of those the Father gave Him, so Paul in saying farewell to the presbyters at Ephesus says that He is not responsible for the blood of any of them. In other words, Paul is saying that He handed on to them faithfully what He himself received, and did not neglect to tell them anything necessary for their salvation. In imitation of Paul, whose Holy Year we will begin celebrating in June at the request of our Holy Father, may we work not so much for the salvation of our own soul, but instead seek holiness for the sake of others to whom we are sent. It is easier to rationalize our own sins and to convince ourselves that they have a minimal impact on our relationship with Jesus. It is harder, though, to rationalize that our sins do not impact our ability to preach the Gospel, and to hand on everything that we have received. Let us work like Paul, then, and realize that the salvation of souls, how many we do not know, depends on the witness of our lives!


Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit - Part VII

From remarks made to US Bishops

"The family is also the primary place for evangelization, for passing on the faith, for helping young people to appreciate the importance of religious practice and Sunday observance. How can we not be dismayed as we observe the sharp decline of the family as a basic element of Church and society? Divorce and infidelity have increased, and many young men and women are choosing to postpone marriage or to forego it altogether. To some young Catholics, the sacramental bond of marriage seems scarcely distinguishable from a civil bond, or even a purely informal and open-ended arrangement to live with another person. Hence we have an alarming decrease in the number of Catholic marriages in the United States together with an increase in cohabitation, in which the Christ-like mutual self-giving of spouses, sealed by a public promise to live out the demands of an indissoluble lifelong commitment, is simply absent. In such circumstances, children are denied the secure environment that they need in order truly to flourish as human beings, and society is denied the stable building blocks which it requires if the cohesion and moral focus of the community are to be maintained."

As we pray for more vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, which are greatly needed, let us not forget that such vocations depend primarily on strong Catholic families. Renewing family life and values is a precondition to promoting religious vocations, and yet the call to leave everything and follow Jesus must go out nonetheless. Pope Benedict has said that the Church will be renewed by apostolates that foster the renewal of the Catholic family, for it is in the family that children learn that the Church and their personal relationship with Christ are always the most important thing. Let us pray for all young people in the Church who can no longer discern the authentic call to sacred marriage because of unchastity or cohabitation. May they see through the teaching of the Church the opportunity to share through their marriage in the eternal marriage of Christ to His bride, the Church.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit - Part VI

From remarks made to US Bishops

"In a society which values personal freedom and autonomy, it is easy to lose sight of our dependence on others as well as the responsibilities that we bear towards them. This emphasis on individualism has even affected the Church (cf. Spe Salvi, 13-15), giving rise to a form of piety which sometimes emphasizes our private relationship with God at the expense of our calling to be members of a redeemed community. Yet from the beginning, God saw that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). We were created as social beings who find fulfillment only in love – for God and for our neighbor. If we are truly to gaze upon him who is the source of our joy, we need to do so as members of the people of God (cf. Spe Salvi, 14). If this seems counter-cultural, that is simply further evidence of the urgent need for a renewed evangelization of culture."

Isn't it true that we have become 'shoppers' even when it comes to religion. We look for the community that most entertains us and most meets our needs, and neglect the fact that we go to Mass in order to place our lives on the altar within the context of Jesus' complete offering to the Father of Himself. The individualism of which the pope speaks causes more and more people to create God in their own image. Religious communities can too easily bow to this pressure to give their members great latitude in accepting any real moral or doctrinal teaching. Let us pray with our Pope that our bishops will be able to strengthen the unity of our Church. Let us pray that all fallen away Catholics will see that true worship can only take place within a community that believes the same thing and worships the same way! May the Holy Spirit continue to guide the Church into the truth that Jesus left Her, and preserve Her unity!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Homily for Monday of the 7th Week of Easter

For daily readings, see

Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!
Come Holy Spirit, enlighten our hearts, and enkindle in us the fire of your love!

Paul insists on a baptism by the Holy Spirit during today's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. He describes the baptism of John as efficacious but insufficient. Just as insufficient is a Christian life that simply focuses on repentance for sins committed. This is a good and necessary start, but the kingdom of heaven is not reserved just for those who get a high enough score on the moral behavior entrance exam. It is not enough to just be a good person who does not commit grave evils. No, the baptism of the Holy Spirit which the Church greatly anticipates in this last week before Pentecost is a baptism into a sharing in the very life of God. The baptism of repentance preached by John preserves our human dignity as made in the image and likeness of God. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, our human nature is elevated and we become His children capable of sharing in the divine nature. It is this baptism that prepares us to follow where Christ has led through His Ascension we celebrated on Sunday. Led by the Spirit, who delivers to us a real and personal relationship with Jesus, we are transformed into His likeness. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, all things are possible, even our becoming perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect!


Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit - Part V

From comments made to US Bishops

"People today need to be reminded of the ultimate purpose of their lives. They need to recognize that implanted within them is a deep thirst for God. They need to be given opportunities to drink from the wells of his infinite love. It is easy to be entranced by the almost unlimited possibilities that science and technology place before us; it is easy to make the mistake of thinking we can obtain by our own efforts the fulfillment of our deepest needs. This is an illusion. Without God, who alone bestows upon us what we by ourselves cannot attain (cf. Spe Salvi, 31), our lives are ultimately empty. People need to be constantly reminded to cultivate a relationship with him who came that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). The goal of all our pastoral and catechetical work, the object of our preaching, and the focus of our sacramental ministry should be to help people establish and nurture that living relationship with “Christ Jesus, our hope” (1 Tim 1:1)."
Let us pray with our Holy Father for the bishops of the Church in the United States, that they will continue to give to all the faithful, and especially the priests of our Church, the fruit of their deep and personal relationship with Jesus. Through the example of faithful, generous and courageous bishops, may many come to realize that Jesus asks us to leave everything and to follow Him because He alone satisfies the deepest longing of our hearts. Those who have Jesus lack nothing, so may our bishops not be known simply for condemning the world, which they must do, but also for what they offer in return, the hope that comes from the presence of Jesus in their lives, through the working of the Holy Spirit!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Homily for the Ascension of the Lord

Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!

During the Transfiguration of our Lord, a voice came from the cloud – This is my beloved Son, listen to Him. The transfiguration of Jesus before Peter, James and John was a special moment in the lives of these apostles, when the glory of God and the identity of Jesus were made clear to them. The Transfiguration came to an end, however, and after the event was completed, the apostles were left not only with a memory but also with a commandment – This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.

Jesus in gathering disciples to Himself, gave his followers plenty of things to listen to and to think about. Leave what you are doing, give everything to the poor, then come and follow me. Whoever loves Father or Mother more than me is not worthy of me. This is my commandment, love one another as I have loved you. Whoever does not eat my flesh or drink my blood has no life within them. Where I am going, you know the way, for I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

After listening to all of these things, the disciples of Jesus saw them fulfilled in the paschal mystery – in the suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Like the Tansfiguration, the paschal events in Jerusalem were the highlights of Jesus' time on earth. The disciples rejoiced to have been able to see the risen Lord, just as Peter, James and John rejoiced to see Jesus glorified during the Transfiguration. Like the Transfiguration, however, which was not the final word but was followed by a commandment – listen to Him – so also the Resurrection is not the final word in the story of Jesus either. Jesus made many appearances to His disciples after His Resurrection from the dead, but it was not Jesus’ intention to make an infinite number of cameo appearances to His disciples. No, Jesus tells His disciples after His resurrection that it is better for them if He goes to the Father to prepare a place for them in heaven, and in His place the Father will send another advocate, the Holy Spirit, to guide them into all truth and to remind them of everything that He did and said. We are here today, my dear friends, to celebrate Jesus’ going to prepare a place for us by way of His Ascension, and to prepare ourselves for the incomparable Solemnity of Pentecost that will mark the end of our Easter celebration next Sunday.

It is due to the goodness of today’s Feast, and to our trust in Jesus’ promise that it is better for us if He goes to the Father, that we do not have to be gloomy at the Lord's Ascension, his leaving us. We neither desire nor do we expect additional resurrection appearances from the Lord Jesus. What is more, since the Father and the Son have sent the Holy Spirit to be with us, our faith does not require such special cameo appearances by the Risen Lord. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed, we are told at the end of John’s Gospel. In leaving us and sending us the gift of the Holy Spirit instead, Jesus assured that those who would follow Him after His Ascension would not engage in a contest to see who Had seen the Risen Lord the most or the longest, or who had seen Him perform the greatest sign. The Lord in ascending to the Father saved the Church from just this type of gnosticism, and sent the Holy Spirit instead so that everyone would have the same access to Him, through the Eucharist which He asked His disciples to celebrate in memory of Him, and through the Scriptures, Tradition and Sacraments of the Church. Without the Ascension, we would not have the great Solemnity of Pentecost and the assistance of the Holy Spirit who helps each one of us to seek a personal and intimate friendship with Jesus and to recognize the truth of what the Lord did for us and what He said to us. Maybe most importantly, without the Ascension of Jesus which we are here to celebrate tonight, we would not set our hearts and minds on the high destiny that is awaiting us in the kingdom of Heaven. Without the Ascension, we would not be looking beyond this world to the opportunity to have all our desires fulfilled in an instant through a sharing in the divine life of the Holy Trinity, and through an opportunity to speak to God face to face, as a friend. This is the gift awaiting us because of the Ascension, a gift so much greater than anything Adam and Eve ever experienced in the garden of Eden, a gift so much greater than the experience of the disciples who saw our Lord after He rose from the dead.

Without a doubt, it would have been great if the Transfiguration had lasted a little longer. It would have been great if the Resurrection appearances of our Lord had lasted longer than 40 days. For such experiences had by the disciples of Jesus undoubtedly strengthened their faith and gave them great hope for the pilgrimage that awaited them. Yet we are here on Ascension Sunday to take the Lord Jesus at His word. It is better for us that He goes to prepare a place for us. It is better that we walk by faith and not by sight, for blessed are the ones who have not seen, and yet through the Holy Spirit, have believed in the reality of Jesus' Resurrection. Blessed are those of us who look forward with great joy to the end of our Easter celebration next Sunday at Pentecost, and to the gift of the Holy Spirit who continues to keep our Church in the truth that Jesus left us, and gives us all access to a deep and personal relationship with Jesus by reminding us of everything that He did and said.

Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit - Part IV

From remarks made on the White House lawn

"The Church, for her part, wishes to contribute to building a world ever more worthy of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27). She is convinced that faith sheds new light on all things, and that the Gospel reveals the noble vocation and sublime destiny of every man and woman (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10). Faith also gives us the strength to respond to our high calling, and the hope that inspires us to work for an ever more just and fraternal society. Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized, when political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting the life and future of the nation."

Oftentimes, our politicians talk about the American way of life, or American values or ideals. Pope Benedict suggests that America should build a society mirrored on the kingdom of Heaven revealed in the Gospels by Jesus Christ, a society that seeks not just to preserve a minimum of rights (note that our country in allowing abortion does not even guarantee this minimum of a right to life for all) but a society that inspires each man and woman to pursue a 'noble vocation' and his or her 'high destiny' as a child created in the image and likeness of God. Our leaders sometimes settle for far less, talking much about preserving the 'American way of life' but spending less time than our Holy Father contemplating how to make this American way an inspiration to all the world.

Homily for Saturday of the 6th Week of Easter

St. James and St. Philip, pray for us!
Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!

It takes a lot of thought to process what Jesus is really saying to his apostles like James and Philip, whom we celebrate today. It is especially hard when Jesus says that his apostles will perform works greater than the works that He Himself performed. One of the keys to understanding, I think, is to realize that through the sacramental life of the Church, it is always Jesus Himself, working through the human minister, who performs the work worked. This is true of the priest at Mass and in confession to be sure, but even of the couple saying wedding vows at the altar. We are performing the works, and yet He is the one performing the works, and vice versa. This is why Jesus says to His disciples that it is so important that they understand that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him, so that they will also understand that through the Holy Spirit, He is in them and they in Him! It is impossible for us, indeed, to perform works greater than the ones Jesus performed, unless He is completely in us as He promised to be, and unless it is impossible to distinguish who is doing the work. Once we understand this, the apostolic work of the Church, especially as embodied in the sacraments, makes sense. Jesus performed many works, or signs, that were outside of his ultimate sign of being lifted up on the cross, but were performed so that people would believe that He was sent from the Father in heaven. His apostolic Church, engages in these lesser works as well as She is able, in imitation of Christ, but the central work of the Church is the work of the Eucharist, the source and summit of the sacramental life. The Mass at Yankee Stadium, for example, made present the paschal mystery of the Lord, His greatest work, for 50,000 in attendance, and in a smaller way, for the millions of others who watched and prayed. Jesus did not have any crowds of 50,000 in the Gospels. More importantly, the Church is entrusted with the greater work of finishing the mission that Jesus began, of reconciling the world to the Father. We can only do this if through the gift of the Holy Spirit we prepare to celebrate at Pentecost, He is truly in us and we are in Him!


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit - Part III

From remarks made on the White House South Lawn

"In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24). Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation”, and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus Annus, 46). Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent “indispensable supports” of political prosperity."

Let us pray with the Holy Father that our democracy, which we hope to be a model for the world, will not lose its soul. The Holy Father has such high regard for the religiosity of our country, a religiosity that is open to universal, objective and eternal truths about the nature of man and his destiny. May this religiosity of our country continue to help our leaders to set their hearts on the greatest gifts, and to not accept a freedom divorced from the pursuit of truth and virtue.

Pope Benedict Ferverinos from US Visit - Part II

From Welcome Remarks Made at the White House South Lawn

"Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate."

Having lived through World War II, Pope Benedict knows of the incalculable sacrifices made by men and women of our country to preserve freedom. He knows just as well that the freedom for which these men and women sacrificed is not the freedom to do whatever we want, but is the freedom to pursue excellence, and the freedom to imitate the sacrifices of those who have gone before us so that many more will have life, and have it in abundance. We insult the heroic sacrifices of American predecessors by using the freedom won for us to pursue mediocrity. Let us pray with our Pope that America will be known for its virtue, self-discipline and sacrifice rather than for our self-centeredness.<