Sunday, November 30, 2008

Homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent

Advent is wanting God to come closer. Advent is wanting God to come sooner. Advent is wanting God to come closer and sooner, and actually meaning it!

To borrow a metaphor from yesterday's momentous KU game, Advent is 4 and 7 from the 21 with 27 seconds left, down by four to Missouri. Advent is 10 seconds left, down three against Memphis. It is watching Mario's shot in the air.

Advent is a hospital waiting room. It is pregnancy tests. It is biopsy results. It is keeping vigil when a child is to be born, or a loved one is about to die.

Advent is the hour before a first date. It is the moment before a first kiss. It is making the final preparations for a perfect proposal.

Advent is the fear before going into enemy fire. It is the anxiety we have in answering the phone when we know a loved one has been in harm's way.

Advent is opening the mail after taking the ACT. It is applying for a job that my family really needs, and waiting for the answer.

Advent is the excitement of getting ready to see someone we love whom we have not seen in a really long time.

Advent is wanting God to come closer and sooner, and actually meaning it!

Advent invites us to become more like those who pray in today's first reading from Isaiah, those in exile to Babylon, who actually blamed God, and His distance from them, for their plight. You and I are probably too timid to blame God for our exile, for our long-suffering inability to make ourselves into what we want to be. We instead blame ourselves, and ask God to keep his distance and to give us more time to tinker with our self-improvement projects. This is not the attitude taken by those exiled to Babylon. Isaiah reports that they refuse to believe God has decided to keep his distance from them. They want God to come closer, and to come sooner, and they really mean it!

Advent is the time for us to stop asking God to leave us alone as long as possible, so that we can mold ourselves, before having to turn in the final product for judgment at an unspecified date. Jesus tells his disciples that they may never be ready to turn in their final product, for they do not even know the deadline. Rather than despairing, however, He tells them to keep vigil. Isaiah shows us the way of the Israelites who prayed for God to come sooner rather than later. It is futile to pray that God will give us all the time we need. Rather, we are to expect that God is coming now, so now is the time to beg God Himself to mold us into what we are supposed to be, according to His will.

Most of us are too timid to blame God for our exile. We are too self-centered to ask God for less time instead of for more. Yet if we ask God to come closer, and to come sooner, and we mean it, what but good can result? If we place our lives are in God's hands, if He is the potter and we are the clay, we can and should rejoice that every situation, especially the ones we cannot control, and the ones fraught with the most excitement, vigilance, and yes, even anxiety, is a situation of God's molding us into someone beautifully ready to participate in the eternal mysteries of divine life and divine love, the mysteries that complete the mystery of who we are.

Advent is about asking God to come closer. Advent is asking God to come sooner. And actually meaning it!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Homily for Solemnity of Christ the King

President-elect Obama has outrageous expectations. Although he has never claimed to be a miracle-worker, if the crowds that cheered his election are any indication, there is a tremendous faith out there that he will do amazing things as President of the United States. The expectations of the president-elect as he prepares to enter Washington are not unlike the expectations placed on Jesus Christ, who was indeed a miracle worker, as He entered Jerusalem to the shouts of great crowds. The inauguration of the next president will be an amazing sight for all of us indeed, as was the welcome of Jesus into Jerusalem. Let's hope, however, that the President-elect will have better luck at fulfilling the expectations of his fans than Jesus did at fulfilling the expectations of His fans. Remember, those fans who chanted Hosanna to the Son of David were the same ones who chanted 'Crucify Him' when He did not turn out to be the Messiah who could liberate Israel from Roman occupation.

Who is the most powerful person in the world after the last set of elections anyway? Certainly most of the world would say president-elect Obama, the leader of perhaps the most powerful and prosperous kingdom the world has ever seen. Who is the most powerful person in the world? Well, actually we gather tonight on this great Solemnity of our Church at the end of the liturgical year to proclaim that despite the results of the most recent elections, Jesus Christ remains the most powerful man in the world, for unlike any other figure in human history, He has a kingdom that is both universal and eternal. It is a kingship, as we know, that is unlike any other kingship in the world. President-elect Obama has the secret service, even the Pope has the Swiss guard. Jesus Christ the eternal and universal King has neither, only the heavenly weapons of truth and love.

As Catholics it is especially important for us, even as we respect and support the legitimate authority of our elected leaders, and even as we challenge them, especially our Catholics in elected office, to govern us in accordance with the natural and divine law, that we do not place expectations on our elected officials that we should rightfully place instead upon Christ our eternal King. In our proclamation of Christ as the eternal and universal King, we assert that any temporal earthly authority that does not recognize and participate in the kingship of Christ is ultimately a house built on sand. Remember the question that Pilate posed to Jesus? 'Do you not know that I have the power to crucify you?' Jesus replied, 'You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above.' In the same way through our celebration tonight we recognize that an earthly kingdom that does not share in the kingship of Christ can only give limited and temporary prosperity, whereas Christ promises life in abundance to those who belong to His kingdom, and guarantees that the Church He founded to extend His mission will prevail against all evil, even the gates of hell. As Catholics who celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King then, we are to be at the same time more detached from political life, avoiding anointing anyone a Messiah except the one who can bring everlasting life, and also more involved in political life, working to build a civilization redeemed by the love of a King at whose name every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth.

When we place expectations on political leaders, and even on political systems like democracy, to guarantee our lasting prosperity, we can fail to focus instead on the abundance of life that Christ our King provides for us, especially through the gift of the Eucharist. Christ shows Himself on the cross, where He was proclaimed to be the King of the Jews by Pilate, that He is the most self-forgetful of kings, measuring His life's worth not by any earthly standards of accomplishment but by how radically He could serve and make the love of God more visible and real to you and me. Rather than seeing his own self-importance, Christ the King gives His life for His subjects, carelessly, it would seem, forgoing any protection whatsoever and throwing His life into the hands of His enemies, out of love for them. This is why if Christ is our King, we can say with the psalmist that the Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. Who can ask more than for a King who is willing to lay down His life for them, even when they hate Him in return? In asking Christ to be the King of our hearts, we place our ultimate prosperity in His hands. In doing so, we gain much freedom. We gain the freedom to forgo the futility of having to place a price tag on everything we might cram into our busy lives, including God Himself, in the hopes of making our lives more important and prosperous. What is more, we no longer need to employ the secret service of pride and fear to distance ourselves from those who threaten our precious little kingdoms. With Christ as our King, we escape the the sinful tendency to build a kingdom of self-importance, and we escapte the need to preserve that kingdom by neglecting our brothers and sisters in need. +m

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Homily for Wednesday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, see

The way Luke frames tonight's Gospel, it seems that the Lord is instructing his disciples that things will be incomplete even after the fantastic events that will happen in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem Jesus would perform the most important signs He had performed to date, the sign of the Last Supper, and the signs of his suffering, death, resurrection and Ascension. It is in Jerusalem that the kingdom of God would be most fully revealed, as his disciples were expecting. Luke, however, points out in this Gospel that although God's revelation would be definitive in Jerusalem, the end of the world was not promised by Jesus. Quite the opposite, Jesus teaches his disciples that the road ahead may be a long one, like a king going away for a time until an indefinite return, but that the necessity to live fruitful lives in fidelity to the king would remain and would be the sure way to salvation.

We are in year 2000 or so since the Lord's Ascension. Those events in Jerusalem that established the everlasting covenant between God and man have indeed been remembered and celebrated for a long time, including our celebration of the Mass tonight. It should not be a surprise to us that the everlasting covenant has lasted for what seems like forever, nor should it surprise us if the Lord wishes it to continue for a great while longer until He comes in glory. The reading we have from the book of revelation helps us to keep the end in sight, the return of the King in all His glory. It is for this end that we prepare and for which we pray, that the Lord may come and complete the work of redemption initiated by the events in Jerusalem. We pray for Jesus to return sooner rather than later, for His coming brings good and not evil to us. We know that His presence brings eternal significance to the lives of those for whom He died. His coming raises our human dignity 5 times, 10 times, more times than any parable could signify. This is the expansion of life, human and divine, for one who has faith, for one who no longer wants to be merely a child of dust. So we so we await that coming of Jesus, experienced most intimately on this side of heaven in the Eucharist, with great joy and optimism, not with fear that He will get back while our lives are still buried in the ground. +m

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Homily for Tuesday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, see
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, pray for us!

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, the only canonized saint to have done part of her work in Kansas, albeit only for a brief period of one year in 1840 with the Potawatomi indians near Sugar Creek, is a saint known mostly for the heroic virtues of patience and perseverence. The Potawatomi indians, whose language she could never master, described her as the woman who 'prays always.' Her prayer must certainly have been the source of her perseverence despite the obstacles that stood in her way beginning at the age of 17. St. Rose, even from an early age, was not known to be an especially beautiful or happy child. She was known to be quite irascible and selfish actually, and surprised many when she indicated her desire to go to the convent at age 17. After four years of formation, Rose was forbidden by her father to make final vows, as he correctly saw the impending breakup of religious orders by Napoleon during the French Revolution. Rose's vocation had to wait for about 15 years, before a Concordat between Napoleon and the Church allowed her to return to religious life. It took her another 15 years before she could convince anyone to allow her to go to the United States as a missionary, something she had wanted to do since studying history at age 17. She was named the superior of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and founded several schools along the Mississippi for poor children, the majority of them around St. Louis, where she is today buried. Her sisters always suffered from many setbacks and the lack of money, but her saintly virtue was proven by her steadfast determination in the face of any difficulty. St. Rose lived up to the prophetic challenge of today's reading from Revelation, allowing herself to be refined and made into pure gold by the chastisements and crosses that came her way. She resigned as mother superior at the age of 71 to fulfill her final wish to establish a mission among the indian peoples of Kansas. Even though she never learned to speak the language, and was only able to stay in Kansas for a year because of declining health, she gives to our great state the privilege of having had a canonized work on our soil. She was canonized by John Paul II in 1988 and is the secondary patron of the St. Lawrence Center.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Homily for Sunday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, see

Guys, tonight's first reading from Proverbs is an encouragement for you to 'marry above yourself''! Now don't get the wrong idea. The proverb is not about marrying a girl better looking than you, although that is not a bad idea and usually not that hard to achieve. The proverb is not about marrying a girl who will make more money than you, although that also perhaps is not a bad idea, and not as hard to achieve as it used to be, since almost 57% of college students are now women. Guys, tonight's proverb is about marrying a woman that is holier than you. The proverb extols the virtues of a good and holy wife, whose worth is beyond measure. In terms of our faith, this means that the kind of woman that a guy should be looking for is a woman that knows Christ so well that a guy has to deepen his faith in Christ if he is to have any chance to get the girl. Ladies, I'm sorry that you perhaps do not have the same luxury of looking for guys who are holier than you. Although it is difficult for anyone in today's culture to live a virtuous life, especially in the area of sexuality, it is more than safe to say that women are more naturally virtuous and open to the things of God. That is why of course that God, when He was ready to make an everlasting covenant with His people, went to a woman, the Virgin Mary, as the representative of all of humanity, to receive a 'yes' to his invitation. Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word. Ladies, I pray that you will be able to find guys who desire such goodness and purity from you. I know your situation of trying to find a man who is virtuous enough to marry is a difficult problem. Besides, if I find a virtuous and holy guy, I'm not going to ask him to date, but I'm going to ask him to go to seminary. Well, at any rate, the discernment of vocations takes a lot of prayer, so I invite everyone to keep praying.

St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians invites them to be children of the day and not of the night. He invites his audience to invest liberally in the things of heaven, the things that last forever, and to invest conservatively in the things that provide only fleeting peace and security. Now St. Paul did not know the current condition of the stock market when he wrote his letter to the Thessalonians, but he did know the fragile nature of the human condition. If you turn on the tv this evening, you could find financial advisors telling us to do 10 different things with our money. Some will be telling us to be very conservative; others, to take advantage of the current situation and take risks that may pay off. But St. Paul reminds us that no matter what our investment strategy is with our money, based on the current conditions of the market, that our trust in money should always be conservative when compared to the trust that we put in the promises of God. In reference to God's gifts of faith, hope and love, we are to be as liberal as possible in asking for these gifts from God and sharing these gifts around us. This is how we become children of light.

The parable of the talents reflects what happens to a person who keeps his faith hidden. The parable shows that there is no 'safe way' to get to heaven. We cannot get into heaven by trying to keep some small spark of faith alive and living a barely good enough life to get in the back door of God's favor. No, if we live this kind of faith, we will be called wicked, lazy servants. Faith is a gift that can only grow when it is risked, when it is exposed to those who might try to take it away. In such an environment, however, faith grows bigger and stronger, and we grow in confidence as children of God in the midst of a generation that puts its trust in things that easily pass away. Keeping our faith to ourselves is a short road for losing our faith, and this is the path that I would say at least 90% of Catholics students take when they are in college. There will always be challenges to our faith - moral, personal, philosophical - challenges to God's goodness or to his existence. But we have to risk our faith anyway, or else it will quickly become worthless.

One of the ways we grow stronger in faith is to be generous with our time, talent and treasure. We volunteer to reach out to the poor, we volunteer to teach our faith, and we willingly sacrifice and fast from our own wants in order to contribute financially to the Church. This is the risk of faith that everyone should be taking. Thankfully, college students are mostly poor, so the temptation to keep too much money to yourself is not as dangerous as it would be for a rich person. Most of you have debt, which is a better position to be in when Jesus return than to have too much money. Still, all the same, it is possible for a rich person to be detached from his money and generous, and for a poor person to be attached to what little he has, and to be stingy. The parable of the talents show us this clearly. Our giving to the Church is an indication of our detachment from the things of this world. Giving to the Church is always more about us living our faith than about the Church's need to receive. We do want to invite students to help pay the light bills around here, and to take ownership of the Center. This is important and is a constitutive element of being a full member of the Church. It is something you will all be asked to do in your future parishes. But most of all, we want students who are only conservatively attached to the things of this world, and are liberally attached to the things of God. And so we invite you all, through the forms that are in the bulletin this weekend, to contribute $15 a month to the St. Lawrence Center, and more if you can or should. If you do an EFT, you don't have to worry about bringing cash when you come to Mass. Please take a bulletin as you leave Mass today and prayerfull consider what God might be asking you to do. +m

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Students at Catholic Universities - new study

New study reported by National Catholic Register -

The survey’s findings also showed that the experience of attending a Catholic institution of higher education did not appear to increase Catholic faith and practice for most students.
57% said the experience of attending a Catholic college or university had no effect on their participation in Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation.
54% of respondents said that their experience of attending a Catholic college or university had no effect on their support for the teachings of the Catholic Church.
56% said their experience had no effect on their respect for the Pope and bishops.
Finally, the survey also found that 6% of students who were Catholic while in a Catholic college are not now Catholic. Only 1% who were not Catholic while at a Catholic college are today Catholic. According to the survey, “This net decline in Catholic self-identification suggests that very few convert to the Catholic faith after leaving college.”

A groundbreaking study of Catholic college students and recent alumni found:
60% say abortion should be legal.
60% say premarital sex is not a sin.
57% say same-sex “marriage” should be legal.
39% saw officials or staff encouraging contraceptive use.
31% saw officials or staff encouraging acceptance of homosexual activity.
Men vs. Women
50% of college women engage in premarital sex.
41% of college men engage in premarital sex.
23% of college women are drawn to the sacraments.
40% of college men are drawn to the sacraments.
Source: Center for the Study of Higher Education, QEV Analytics

Missouri maybe no longer a 'bellweather' state - how did Catholics vote?

from Our Sunday Visitor -

Obama getting few votes than Kerry only in a few states - interesting!

Who got Catholic vote?
Obama's percentage of the Catholic vote represents a gain of 7 percentage points from the vote totals for the Democratic Party's 2004 candidate Sen. John Kerry. But while Obama won the overall Catholic vote, McCain won majorities of non-Hispanic white Catholics (52 percent to 47 percent) and Catholics who say they attend Mass weekly or more often (50 percent to 49 percent). But the estimated margin of victory among weekly Mass-goers is too close to the margin of sampling error for the exit polls to be decisive. Even in losing among these Catholic sub-groups, Obama made gains compared to Kerry's results in 2004 of 4 percentage points among non-Hispanic white Catholics and 6 percentage points among weekly Catholic Mass-goers.
How about Hispanics?
The exit poll results currently do not break out vote percentages for Hispanic Catholics. However, these do reveal that Obama won 67 percent of all self-identified Hispanic voters of any faith compared to McCain's 31 percent. CARA's surveys estimate that approximately 70 percent of Hispanics in the United States self-identify as Catholic.
Bellwether no more
The Catholic vote in Missouri may have an historical consequence. At the time of this writing McCain leads Obama in total votes in the state by just more than 5,800. The state has yet to be called for either candidate. If Obama does lose this state, one of the central reasons will be his inability to attract the support of a majority of Catholics. If Missouri is declared for McCain it will have lost its "bellwether" status. Missouri has voted for the winning candidate in every election since 1960 and no Democrat has ever been elected president without winning Missouri.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Homily for Monday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, see
St. Leo the Great, pray for us!

St. Leo is one of only two popes to be called 'Great,' although there are already many who have begun called John Paul II this, in the hope that it will catch on. As far as I know, and I could very easily be wrong, there is no official process as to whether a Pope is declared Great or not - it is more by popular acclamation and usage. The fact that this title has stuck only to the names of two Popes in all of the history of the Church, gives us a great indication of the kind of man Leo was. He is known to be the principal theologian of the Council of Chalcedon, which solidified and codified the Church's belief in the two natures of Christ. As we know from studying Church history, the doctrinal statements of Chalcedon were essential in preserving the unity of the Church, especially in what she believed about Christ. St. Leo's defense of the unity of the Church extended as well to his work on behalf of the temporal welfare of the Church. He is known for protecting Rome and her most sacred churches and shrines, most of which were less than 100 years old at the time, from the onslaught of barbarians.

The commemoration of St. Leo gives us a chance today to pray for our holy father, and as St. Paul instructs in his letter to Titus, for our presbyters and bishops. The surest way to defeat the Church is to weaken her sacred ministers. We know well in the current situation of our Church, the immense amount of damage that can be done when a bishop or priest is not living a virtuous life that fosters unity within the body of Christ. St. Paul instructs that the Church cannot be too careful in who she ordains to the sacred ministry. The efficacy of the sacraments is never in question, but the fruitfulness of the sacraments is effected by the holiness of the ministers who dispense the grace. In addition, the first responsibility of bishops and priests is to preach the word of God. Jesus Himself warns that it is one thing to sin personally, but quite another thing to lead another person into sin. Just so, we should pray for the strength of our bishops and priests, who act in the person of Christ, that they would never give scandal by their conduct, and that they would form consciences with great courage and fidelity through their preaching and witness. St. Leo the great, pray for us, and for our pope, bishops and priests! +m

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Homily for the Feast of St. John Lateran

St. John Lateran, although it is one of the four major basilicas of Rome, is not the most famous. When most of us think of Rome, we think of St. Peter’s and its magnificent square. We think of the Pope celebrating Mass in the square or insider St. Peter’s basilica, or appearing at his window from his apartment overlooking the square. Throughout the history of our Church, however, the Pope has appeared more times at the Church of St. John Lateran, the oldest western Church, and the mother of all other Churches, including St. Peter’s. The popes lived for many centuries on the property given by the Laterani family in Rome, and the Holy See was housed there, before eventually being moved to its current location on the Vatican hill overlooking St. Peter’s. While St. Peter’s has always been a greatly significant Church, since it is built on the site of St. Peter’s crucifixion, since it is built over the place where St. Peter was buried, and since it houses the relic of the chair St. Peter sat upon, St. John Lateran has the distinction of being the first Church built by Constantine, and dedicated as the cathedral Church for the bishop of Rome. While there is no doubt that St. Peter’s is more famous today – many people who go to Rome never visit St. John Lateran – it is important to know that St. Peter’s is a daughter Church of St. John Lateran, and that St. John Lateran is the Pope’s principal Church, even if he has to take a short cab ride to get over there.

Any celebration of the dedication of a Church, especially a Church like St. John Lateran, the mother of all western Churches, gives us a chance to reflect on why we build Churches, how we use them, and what kind of Churches we should build. As we remember from David’s conversation with the Lord in the Old Testament, David was embarrassed that he lived in such opulence as king of Israel after all his great military victories, while God, whose presence was signified by the stone tablets of the law, was made to dwell in a tent, the ark of the covenant. David resolved to build a magnificent temple for the Lord, and although David’s desire was holy, he was reminded by the Lord that no temple David could build could adequately house God, who Himself made the world and all it holds. The same stands true for today, our Churches, no matter how beautiful or magnificent, can never adequately ‘house’ the glory of God or ‘house’ His presence. God does not need us to build a house for Him – this was the message to David that still holds true today.

So why do we build beautiful Churches like this magnificent chapel built in the 1980s by Msgr. Krische and many others who wanted to have, and to pass on, a beautiful chapel in which students, faculty, staff, and visitors to the University of Kansas could gather and worship God. God does not need this Church for Himself. It was rather a recognition on the part of those who built this Church of the need we have to give witness to our faith. We do this all the time as human persons. We give witness to who we think we are, and give witness to what we believe, by the way we dress, by the kind of houses we build, by the way we decorate our rooms. We surround ourselves with things that indicate who we are and what we believe – what is important to us. In the same way, building a Church is something we need to do to give witness to who we are as the people of God. St. Paul says to the Corinthians in tonight’s second reading – You are God’s building. Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? St. Paul tells us how easy it is to forget the dignity given us by Christ. Through Him we have become the very sons and daughters of God. That is why we build Churches, so that we do not forget. A Church like St. John Lateran, the first church built in western Christianity, and every one built after it, are meant to serve as necessary reminders of who we are. They are sacraments of who God has chosen us to be, temples of His glory. It is true that each person in this Church today is infinitely more valuable than this Church itself. This Church, although extremely important because it houses the Blessed Sacrament, is here only to facilitate the transformation of human persons into becoming the body of Christ temples of the Holy Spirit. God does not need a house made by human hands to dwell in, but we need a place where we can accomplish our transformation to becoming people in which God can dwell. This is why we build Churches, to remind ourselves of what we are becoming, what our true destiny is.

If you ever visited Rome you know that there are countless Churches which are more magnificent than this Church, Churches that have a tremendous capacity to lift hearts and minds to God, and yet you also know that these Churches mostly sit empty. It is important to try to think about why this is. Jesus experienced the Jerusalem temple as a busy place, but busy not because people were coming there to be transformed by God, but because they were there to do business. So he cleared out the temple, in a fit of righteous anger. Jesus in turn warns us against turning our Churches, which are supposed to be sacred spaces dedicated to intimate and deep encounters with God, into utilitarian spaces that are more about us than about God. There is a great temptation not to build great Churches or to make Churches multi-purpose facilities, thinking that God is more than willing to come and meet us where we are, even if we do not build a great Church or if we use it as a meeting hall. The humility shown by our Lord in being born in a manger in obscure Bethlehem does indeed show that He is willing to come be with us wherever we are. Yet we must remember that the Lord came among us not only to be a companion to our humanity, but to open the gates of heaven to us, and to transform us through the gifts of grace that come from heaven. Our Churches then are sacraments of what we imagine heaven to be like. They are not so much places to celebrate our like-mindedness in having chosen to worship God in the same style. No, they are places not where we choose God, but places where He chooses us, and showers down the grace that even now is transforming us into citizens of heaven. It is a tragedy in my own mind that some of the most magnificent Churches sit empty, because people are afraid of becoming all that God is calling them to be, whereas pedestrian Churches are oftentimes packed, because this is where we feel most comfortable, expecting God to conform Himself to our expectations of who He is. Jesus in the Gospel points to a continual need we have to cleanse our Churches from utilitarianism. Our Churches are never to become places where we come to purchase God with our capital, but places where we allow Him to purchase us and to draw us to a destiny beyond our imagining. +m

Friday, November 7, 2008

Conception Seminary has record enrollment - including the best 4 students - from our archdiocese (bias blatant!)

Here is the story from

An Opinion on the Effectiveness of the Bishop's Teaching in this election from

from Brian Burch, founder of Fidelis and

Q: Did the strong stance of the episcopate have any noticeable affect on the election? What could the Church have done more of?

Burch: The results of the election seem to indicate that, for the most part, Catholic voters ignored the guidance of their bishops. The results simply do not show any dramatic shift away from the larger trends seen during the past several election cycles.One area of concern was the document "Faithful Citizenship," which was used by many organizations to improperly justify support for pro-abortion candidates. The shortcomings of the document forced many bishops to issue their own pastoral letters, leaving many voters confused. Regrettably, I believe the net effect of "Faithful Citizenship" was more confusion than clarity.We must also remember that the bishops can only do so much. The teaching of the Church is clear, and the laity must be equally dedicated to pastoral efforts in this area. The task of evangelization is most effective, where possible, person-to-person, in a spirit of charity.You probably have heard the saying that all politics is local. In the same sense, the moral witness of individual Catholics, in their families and in their parishes, will likely do more good than any teaching document from our bishops.

Parables, the Catholic Sacramental Imagination, and Priesthood

Looking at life through the eyes of Cardinal Newman - thanks Fr. Denis, OSB for this reflection!

Words from SJV just in case a priest is having a bad day!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Homily for Friday of the 31st week in Ordinary Time

There are so many spiritual weapons at our disposal. The sacraments, especially daily Mass and frequent confession. Prayer - especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Fasting - keeping our stomachs or material things from becoming our Gods, as St. Paul tells us. Almsgiving - sharing what we have and working for justice for the poorest and most vulnerable. Friendship with the saints. Hundreds of devotions, including consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In our Catholic tradition, we have so many spiritual weapons at our disposal, so many ways to keep our hearts set on the highest things of heaven, rather than on focusing narrowly on our own comfort and prosperity. Yet, we oftentimes remain in our sins, and the momentum they have in our lives seems to remain greater than our willpower and our growth in virtue.

Jesus tells his disciples through the parable not to be discouraged or to lose heart. When faced with a sin that persists, or with a difficult situation where we do not know exactly what to do, or with the enormity of our own vocation, we are to simply look at the other areas of our lives where we are effective and to make similar progress in the spiritual life. The dishonest steward is good at making deals to keep himself afloat in today's parable. Of course we should not imitate his dishonesty, but Jesus proposes his resourcefulness and getting what he wants. We have so many spiritual weapons at our disposal. We just have to become better at using them, instead of remaining pushovers who give in to sin to easily, and accept less than that for which we are made. If we really desire holiness, we can't take shortcuts, but there is plenty of help available for us, and plenty of nifty tricks we can use against Satan on our way to perfection. Jesus encourages us to never lower our standards, but to look around at the resources available to us. He challenges us to find a way to get the job done! +m

New Jayhawks getting love on

I actually thought the Jayhawks, especially Morningstar and Reed, looked pretty good in the first exhibition game. Those two can shoot and maybe will get a lot of playing time as the newcomers learn the college game. In a new way, this season will be really fun as we won't have to be biting our nails worrying about an upset but can really get after our opponents and maybe surprise some people. I hope we're hungry!!!

Pope Benedict welcomes Muslims

and reminds them to remain focused on God's love, which necessarily entails love of neighbor, and on the rights of individuals to worship in freedom.

Dear Friends,I am pleased to receive you this morning and I greet all of you most cordially. I thank especially Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran as well as Shaykh Mustafa Cerić and Mr Seyyed Hossein Nasr for their words. Our meeting takes place at the conclusion of the important Seminar organized by the "Catholic-Muslim Forum" established between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and representatives of the 138 Muslim leaders who signed the Open Letter to Christian leaders of 13 October 2007. This gathering is a clear sign of our mutual esteem and our desire to listen respectfully to one another. I can assure you that I have prayerfully followed the progress of your meeting, conscious that it represents one more step along the way towards greater understanding between Muslims and Christians within the framework of other regular encounters which the Holy See promotes with various Muslim groups. The Open Letter "A Common Word between us and you" has received numerous responses, and has given rise to dialogue, specific initiatives and meetings, aimed at helping us to know one another more deeply and to grow in esteem for our shared values. The great interest which the present Seminar has awakened is an incentive for us to ensure that the reflections and the positive developments which emerge from Muslim-Christian dialogue are not limited to a small group of experts and scholars, but are passed on as a precious legacy to be placed at the service of all, to bear fruit in the way we live each day.The theme which you have chosen for your meeting – "Love of God, Love of Neighbour: The Dignity of the Human Person and Mutual Respect" – is particularly significant. It was taken from the Open Letter, which presents love of God and love of neighbour as the heart of Islam and Christianity alike. This theme highlights even more clearly the theological and spiritual foundations of a central teaching of our respective religions.The Christian tradition proclaims that God is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16). It was out of love that he created the whole universe, and by his love he becomes present in human history. The love of God became visible, manifested fully and definitively in Jesus Christ. He thus came down to meet man and, while remaining God, took on our nature. He gave himself in order to restore full dignity to each person and to bring us salvation. How could we ever explain the mystery of the incarnation and the redemption except by Love? This infinite and eternal love enables us to respond by giving all our love in return: love for God and love for neighbour. This truth, which we consider foundational, was what I wished to emphasize in my first Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, since this is a central teaching of the Christian faith. Our calling and mission is to share freely with others the love which God lavishes upon us without any merit of our own.I am well aware that Muslims and Christians have different approaches in matters regarding God. Yet we can and must be worshippers of the one God who created us and is concerned about each person in every corner of the world. Together we must show, by our mutual respect and solidarity, that we consider ourselves members of one family: the family that God has loved and gathered together from the creation of the world to the end of human history.I was pleased to learn that you were able at this meeting to adopt a common position on the need to worship God totally and to love our fellow men and women disinterestedly, especially those in distress and need. God calls us to work together on behalf of the victims of disease, hunger, poverty, injustice and violence. For Christians, the love of God is inseparably bound to the love of our brothers and sisters, of all men and women, without distinction of race and culture. As Saint John writes: "Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen" (1 Jn 4:20).The Muslim tradition is also quite clear in encouraging practical commitment in serving the most needy, and readily recalls the "Golden Rule" in its own version: your faith will not be perfect, unless you do unto others that which you wish for yourselves. We should thus work together in promoting genuine respect for the dignity of the human person and fundamental human rights, even though our anthropological visions and our theologies justify this in different ways. There is a great and vast field in which we can act together in defending and promoting the moral values which are part of our common heritage. Only by starting with the recognition of the centrality of the person and the dignity of each human being, respecting and defending life which is the gift of God, and is thus sacred for Christians and for Muslims alike – only on the basis of this recognition, can we find a common ground for building a more fraternal world, a world in which confrontations and differences are peacefully settled, and the devastating power of ideologies is neutralized.My hope, once again, is that these fundamental human rights will be protected for all people everywhere. Political and religious leaders have the duty of ensuring the free exercise of these rights in full respect for each individual’s freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. The discrimination and violence which even today religious people experience throughout the world, and the often violent persecutions to which they are subject, represent unacceptable and unjustifiable acts, all the more grave and deplorable when they are carried out in the name of God. God’s name can only be a name of peace and fraternity, justice and love. We are challenged to demonstrate, by our words and above all by our deeds, that the message of our religions is unfailingly a message of harmony and mutual understanding. It is essential that we do so, lest we weaken the credibility and the effectiveness not only of our dialogue, but also of our religions themselves.I pray that the "Catholic-Muslim Forum", now confidently taking its first steps, can become ever more a space for dialogue, and assist us in treading together the path to an ever fuller knowledge of Truth. The present meeting is also a privileged occasion for committing ourselves to a more heartfelt quest for love of God and love of neighbour, the indispensable condition for offering the men and women of our time an authentic service of reconciliation and peace.Dear friends, let us unite our efforts, animated by good will, in order to overcome all misunderstanding and disagreements. Let us resolve to overcome past prejudices and to correct the often distorted images of the other which even today can create difficulties in our relations; let us work with one another to educate all people, especially the young, to build a common future. May God sustain us in our good intentions, and enable our communities to live consistently the truth of love, which constitutes the heart of the religious man, and is the basis of respect for the dignity of each person. May God, the merciful and compassionate One, assist us in this challenging mission, protect us, bless us and enlighten us always with the power of his love.

Blog Banter regarding Obama/Sebelius/Naumann

Homily for Thursday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, see
Mary, conceived without sin, patronness of the Americas, pray for us!

As we continue to see and to experience, it is difficult to find a basis for reasonable discourse within our society. With such great emphasis on privacy, pragmatism and popularism, there was little reasonable discussion on the natural law and the right to life during the most recent election; unless, of course, one was going to Mass and listening to the teachings of the Church. There is such an ignorance of the natural law that predictably, there were few conversions based on rational debate, and thus even fewer conversions based on appeals to the human heart.

But we should not be discouraged. Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist today to love us at the point of our greatest need, and to strengthen us for the journey ahead. His love revealed and fully received in the Holy Eucharist prepares us to recommit ourselves to loving one another, especially our adversaries, just as He has loved us. Jesus came to be our Savior, to love us while we were still helpless, unable to love Him in return. We should approach the altar then with the joy of one who has been found after straying, and searched for after having been lost. Our recognition that we are the sheep and the lost coin in today's parable, gives us the joy and optimism we will need to continue the fight of seeking after those who have been co-opted by the culture of death. Our friendship with Christ and our exchange of love with Him, experienced most fully in this Holy Eucharist, will allow us to become the circumcision, as St. Paul instructs. Becoming the circumcision allows us to go beyond our desire for perfect laws, to the end that the law is meant to facilitate, friendship with Christ. While justice demands our fighting with all our minds to convince the culture of death that it destroys itself by ignoring the natural law and the right to life, we realize that the deepest desires of the human heart are not for perfect laws but for perfect love. We are the ones who have been found and have received this perfect love from Christ who redeems our hearts. As ministers of this love, then, we leave this Mass unafraid to love others, especially our enemies, just as Christ loves us. It is this love that perseveres even when our rational discourse seems to fail. +m

Archbishop Chaput continues the good fight!

See his public letter responding to those Catholics who claim to have found 'proportionate reason' (from the Pope's instruction) to vote for Barack Obama. I admire Archbishop Chaput for his courage, but also for his clarity and commitment to re-explaining this issue as many times as it needs to be re-explained. Let's continue to pray with Archbishop Chaput for at least three things:

1. abortions would continue to decrease in our country due to increased commitment to chastity and more mothers choosing life

2. the new administration will be able to break cycles of poverty and the lack of education that contribute to unwanted pregnancies

3. for the conversion of our national leaders that they will recognize the right to life as the foundation of any meaningful discussion of human rights and the common good.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Homily for Wednesday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, see
Mary, conceived without sin, patronness of the Americas, pray for us!

In light of yesterday's historic election, three prayers come easily to mind. First, we should pray that abortion, since it appears certain that it will remain legal, will continue to become more rare, especially due to an increase of the virtue of chastity among young people and due to more women choosing to keep their children or to place them with adoptive parents. Secondly, we should pray that president-elect Obama will be able to inspire the American people to become more educated, more virtuous, and more charitable. Thirdly, we should pray for the conversion of all our elected officials, that they may pursue policies for our country that will benefit the common good of all Americans, especially by guaranteeing the first and most indispensable of human rights, the right to life.

St. Paul's letter to the Philippians makes perfect sense for those of us clinging to the word of life in times that are challenging to our faith. St. Paul tells us to work out our salvation by trying to shine like lights in the darkness, never giving in to discouragement and blame, but being glad always that Christ has called us out of darkness, into His own wonderful life. Christ speaks to those following Him in today's Gospel that becoming perfect and building the kingdom of God is not for the faint of heart, nor is it a part-time endeavor. To be free from ourselves and our own expectations, so that we may live in the eternal splendor of divine love to which Christ invites us, we must detach completely from all exterior possessions, to be sure, but even more importantly, from all the interior possessions that are the product of our pride. It is through self-forgetfulness that we become free from the need to conform to the morality of any given moment, and become free to follow Jesus and to receive the riches of His kingdom.