Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Homily for Friday of the 6th Week of Easter




St. Athanasius, pray for us!

Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!


Whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give you. This statement of Jesus at the end of today's Gospel is contingent upon a prior statement of Jesus Himself; namely, that 'I have given you everything I received from my Father.' Throughout the Gospel of John the mystery of the Trinity is being re-presented over and over again from different viewpoints. The viewpoint of today's Gospel is an explanation by our Lord to his disciples of why they may feel as if they are in anguish. It would have been enough, I think, for our Lord, to say that anything worth achieving requires suffering and is worth the suffering required for its achievement. The drama introduced by the dawn of human freedom requires this. The hope Jesus asks his disciples to have during their pilgrimage of suffering for the sake of the Gospel, however, is supported not only by the hope of what is to come, but also by the knowledge that He has already handed on to them in His paschal mystery everything He received from His Father. The Lord has already demonstrated His love for them in laying down His life while they were yet sinners, so there is no need for them to question Him now, let alone in the future. This is the proper response of one who consistently places his hope in the sacrificial love of Christ to those who would rather question whether or not God is good. The paschal mystery reveals the Lord to be the Good Shepherd who lays down His life out of love for His sheep, not a master who treats his creation as slaves.

Homily for Thursday of the 6th Week of Easter




Mary, Mother of the Risen Lord, pray for us


The Gospel we just heard can be oversimplified and understood to mean that during our short pilgrimage on earth, disciples of Jesus will be weeping and mourning, while those who follow the ways of the world will be rejoicing, but that the tables will be turned in the world to come. This is true of course, but in the smallest way possible. Faithful disciples of Jesus must say 'no' to many things of the world, and to those who belong to this world only they may appear to be taking an unnecessarily difficult path of voluntary suffering. Yet those who follow the truth that Christ points out to them realize that the temporary 'sting' of having to say 'no' to something good and promising fades quickly when this 'no' enables a greater friendship with Jesus, who alone can completely fill every human desire. During our time on earth, we do embody the beatitudes, and consider ourselves blessed insofar as we are able to participate in the humility and suffering of Jesus. This is the mourning and weeping of which Jesus speaks. It is not true, however, that we must wait until the afterlife to experience the joy of which Jesus speaks. It is true that in the afterlife this joy will be complete, but even in this life, those who set their hearts on Christ alone are saved from the disappointment that comes from putting out trust only in the temporary things of the world. In light of the joy that comes from our friendship with Jesus, even a lifetime seems like a 'little while' when compared to the glory to be revealed in us!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Homily for Wednesday of the 6th Week of Easter



For daily readings, see http://www.usccb.org/nab/readings/043008.shtml



Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!


This is maybe my favorite reading from the Acts of the Apostles, mostly because Athens is one of the few places I have been where Paul preached the Gospel. Mostly because of good fortune (long story for another time) I ended up in Athens with some time to kill in October of 2006, so I went with Fr. Bill Porter to the top of the Areopagus to visit the Parthenon. We took a bible with us and read about Paul's preaching there. Of course we had to laugh when we heard the reaction of the Athenians to Paul's preaching about the resurrection. Most of them said they might like to hear Paul about this another time!

Who are we to complain that preaching the resurrection of Jesus is difficult?

The Gospel today reminds me that indeed our heads cannot contain now everything that we will need to know for the future. Our futures consists of millions of small uses of our freedom, and in each situation, we are to call upon the Holy Spirit to remind us of Jesus' presence and to take from the truth that is His and deliver it to us as we need it. Just as we cannot haul around with us all the food and water that we will need for the rest of our lives - this would be cumbersome, so the Holy Spirit allows us to confidently travel light during this our pilgrimage, for the Holy Spirit will always be there to deliver to us the message of truth we need to hear from our Lord!

+m

Monday, April 28, 2008

Homily for Tuesday of the 6th Week of Easter




St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!


Perhaps the most difficult part of discerning the priesthood or religious life is taking the necessary step to 'subtract' something from one's life in order to pursue something greater. Jesus is disappointed that His disciples in today's Gospel are not asking Him where He is going. It is one thing for them to be grieved at his promised departure from them, for certainly they are losing the greatest thing in their lives, His presence among them. The Lord has to tell His disciples, however, that it is better for them if He goes. They can only see the pain of losing His immediate presence and cannot therefore see by themselves the greater ramifications of His ascension into heaven. Jesus must remind them that He will only do what is best for them.


many young people who are theoretically open to a religious vocation are confused by their intense desire for marriage and for other careers. Ordinarily, we are in the habit of adding as many good things to our lives as we can. Discernment is more than this kind of addition, however. The best discernment takes place when we find the one necessary thing. Jesus promises that this one necessary thing is He Himself, and He always invites us to leave everything else behind in order to follow Him more exactly. So discerning the voice of Jesus is oftentimes as much about subtraction as it is about addition. In the end, discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life can be likened to Jesus' conversation with His disciples regarding his Ascension. It is better for you if I go, Jesus says. Will it be better for all concerned if we go with Jesus so that many will come to believe in the kingdom of heaven?


+m

Monday, April 21, 2008

Viva Il Papa! Viva!



Returned this morning from an incredible weekend in New York City with the Pope. Although we had to stand in the sun for 7 hours straight with no food on Saturday, we were rewarded with great seats right in front of the stage for Kelly Clarkson (just kidding, although she was there and did unofficial 'open' for the main event) . . . er, for Pope Benedict XVI. I tried to take some video with my camera (only allows 10 minutes of video) and I'll put that up later this week when I have a chance. It was a great prayer service and the best part besides the Pope's gestures, enthusiasm and words, were the spontaneous cheers and songs that rang through the crowd at St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie, site of the seminarian and youth event. The seminarians were out of control boisterous, and I hope my amateur video captures that. On Sunday we had another glorious day, and although I could complain about how difficult it was to learn how to distribute communion at Yankee stadium, suffice it to say that distributing the Holy Eucharist at this papal Mass in my home country is something I wouldn't trade for the world! Thanks to Fr. Bill Porter, I was able to distribute on the lower level, which meant that during the consecration, I held a ciborium of hosts that the Pope consecrated. We then walked beside the Pope and I was 10 feet from him as he consumed the precious blood of the Lord. It was great! More reflections later on what the Pope said and what I experienced. Just for the record, I was standing in the hole between 3rd base and short during the consecration - right where ARod and Jeter usually play! I'll never be a fan of the Yankees, but I was able to do something on that historic field that went so far beyond the influence of baseball. I am so grateful!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Homily for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter




For daily readings, see http://www.usccb.org/nab/readings/041708.shtml



St. Peter, Vicar of Christ, pray for us!
+JMJ

St. Paul does his best to preach to the Jews in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia. He speaks in terms with which they are familiar, quoting the law and the prophets. Pope Benedict as he addresses the United States this week will try to make his knowledge of the scriptures and of theology accessible to us. He will do this in speeches of course, but most importantly, through his homilies that He will given in the context of the Eucharist. This is where we as Catholics seek conversion. I look forward to hearing the homily the Pope will give today at National Stadium in Washington DC. Pope Benedict is a great theologian, but He will speak plainly to us for the benefit of our conversion to Christ. He comes not to be served, but to serve, in imitation of Christ who washed his disciples' feet before reminding them that they will carry the same cross that He will carry, since no messenger is greater than the one who sends him.





What is great about the Pope's visit is that we see clearly in him Christ's promise to leave as gift more than His words. Christ's words are indeed recorded for us in Holy Scripture, and there are many who appeal to Scripture as the only revelatory authority, and many others who are happy to receive the spiritual message delivered by Jesus but who want no part of the Church that He founded. The Pope leads his flock in accepting from Jesus not simply the responsibility to pass on His words, but also the great gift of sharing in His mission of reconciling the world to the Father. Jesus does not say in today's Gospel - whoever receives the word that I spoke receives me. No, He says that whoever received the one I send receives me. Through our confirmation each one of us shares in the responsibility of making Christ more present by offering our bodies as a sacrifice acceptable to the Lord, and by making up in our suffering what is lacking in the suffering of Christ. Through apostolic succesion that can be traced to St. Peter, Pope Benedict appears to us this week as one who has been sent (an apostle) to represent Christ to the people of the United States. Pray that our country will be humble enough to receive Him as we would receive Christ, and in so doing to welcome the blessing of our Father in heaven!

+m

Bale/Nomo disaster




Tonight was the first night all year when I had a chance to watch a few innings of the Royals and I turned the TV off because the game was so bad. Last time I checked it was 11-6. What is terrible is that this is the first time all year we are going to score over 5 runs, and we will not get the win. Bale looked very hittable what little I saw of him, and Nomo was terrible unless he got a guy to swing at his splitter in the dirt. I think we are paying Bale a fair amount so I guess he will probably get 3-4 more starts as long as we are staying around .500. Nomo could be gone tomorrow. I love the Royals' start, and I am so excited about Greinke and Bannister. I know there is no reason to complain right now. But these wins are just as important as those in September, and if we hand the 4-4 tie off to someone besides Nomo, who knows if this is one we might have let get away. By the way, the Royals are running the basepaths like kamikazes right now. They are getting away with it, but man, hasn't sabermetrics shown conclusively that you have to steal a really high percentage ot make it worth stealing at all? I'll be interested to hear Rany comment on the topic some more.

Homily for Wednesday of the 4th Week of Easter





For daily readings, see http://www.usccb.org/nab/readings/041608.shtml

2nd Day of Apostolic Visitation of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the United States of America

+JMJ
Mary, Mother of the Risen Lord, pray for us!

The pope is appropriately called the Vicar of Christ - his principal representative. I saw in the National Catholic Register today a large apologetic piece talking about the papacy. It looks like it has been prepared for printing in major newspaper around the country, and I hope that it is. The pope as the Vicar of Christ takes on the responsibility of speaking on behalf of Christ, and this is what he is in the United States to do. First of all, the pope must strive to know Christ, especially in the Scriptures and in the breaking of the bread, and no doubt Pope Benedict has done this well or he would have never been elected to this special office. But what is more, through the holy office of the papacy which is Christ's gift to the Church, the pope receive the special assistance of the Holy Spirit to help him to speak the words Christ would want us to hear. Just as Barnabus and Paul were impelled by the Holy Spirit to carry the Gospel to new lands, so Pope Benedict has also been driven by the Spirit to carry the Gospel to every corner of the earth. Now is the time he sees fit to visit the United States and to proclaim the Gospel to all people here whom he has the responsiblity to shepherd. May he be helped by all our prayers and he takes on this responsibility. The pope must imitate Jesus closely by always reminding us of the great love Christ has for us. The pope does not visit us to condemn us, but to remind us of all that Jesus did and said. It is the word of Christ which gives life, and gives life in abundance. It is this word that the pope comes to speak to us, so that we will no longer dwell in darkness, but can enjoy the happiness that God the Father intends for us through the redemption of His only begotten Son. The pope does not come to condemn, but in imitation of Christ, he does come to leave us a word that can lead to life, or if it is ignored, to death. Let us pray that our country will have the humility to listen to this Vicar of Christ, and the courage to be converted by the words we hear!


+m

Seminarians playing dodgeball!

I did not play at Conception seminary this last weekend because there were too many players already, but see in these videos Jaime Zarse (our newest seminarian) showing his great moves on the dodgeball court and Justin Hamilton (in application for seminary) also getting into the action. Please pray for our seminarians from KCK and those men in application!
video
video

Pope Benedict Arrives Safely - in Red Prada Shoes?


I think the Pope loves those slippers - wouldn't you? You can't see the slippers in this picture with Bush, but look for them during Benedict's public audiences. I am so glad he is here, and he has already said that the priest abuse scandal is an 'embarrassment' and that he would rather have good, holy priests than sheer numbers of priests. Amen to that! I am glad he did not shy away from the first question from the media. Way to go, Pope Benedict! I am looking forward tomorrow to all he has to say, and I can't wait to hear what he will say to seminarians and priests in NYC.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Royals lose 2nd in a row!


I could see the Royals slipping on Thursday night against the Yankees. It was almost as if they were saying - 'we've already won the series from the Yanks, and no matter what happens tonight, we'll still be leading the division' - and so it seemed like a mailed-it-in kind of performance. Handling success is a difficult thing, and this team has to keep the foot on the throttle while the other teams are having a hard time getting out of the gate to ensure that we will be there in September when it matters. It is like KU's early lead against UNC in the national semifinal last week - 28 points is great, but you have to keep your foot on the throttle as much as possible. And of course, the Royals do not have the luxury of a 28 point lead. Almost predictably, the Royals laid down last night against the Twins, and are now 1-3 against the only team in the division with comparable talent. We need to get these next two games if at all possible, so we can hit the road with some swagger. We left 8 on last night, and Jose Guillen had a bad strikeout with the bases loaded and one out, then Billy Butler missed his chance as well. Last night was a winnable game, as was the final game against the Yankees. I hate to see this team slip. By the way, if you are not following the Royals blog http://www.ranyontheroyals.com/ you are missing out - he does a great job! Go Royals - beat the Twins, please!!

Off to Conception, MO



I'm taking some guys to the Encounter with God's Call weekend retreat at Conception this weekend. This is the college seminary that the Archdiocese primarily uses, an apostolate of the Benedictine monks of Conception Abbey. The monks have a beautifully renovated Church of the Immaculate Conception under the patronage of the Archangels (http://www.conception.edu/) and they run the Abbey Press and gift shop as well. This will be a good weekend to spend time with our seminarians, Jaime Zarse, Trent Schmidt and Oswaldo Sandoval, and to introduce some guys to the seminary program in the hope that they will apply. We have traditionally not had that many guys enter college seminary for the Archdiocese, but I am hoping that will change in the near future, as there is a trend for younger seminarians and many college seminaries are filling up once again with candidates for the priesthood. If it were warmer I would throw in my fishing pole and golf clubs, but alas, it is snowing as I leave today for the Abbey. Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, April 7, 2008

The key to tonight's game!

No suprise here - Russell's defense on Derrick Rose, the best player in the tournament, will determine tonight's game, and here is one fan thinking that he is up to the challenge. North Carolina was a terrible team because Russell Robinson was on Tywon Lawson, and Memphis will not nearly be as good with Derrick Rose staring into the eyes of a defender who will be attacking him, not running away scared. Go Russell! Go Jayhawks! Beat Memphis! One Shining Moment!

Archbishop Keleher's 50th Anniversary of Priesthood


Today we had a Mass and luncheon at the chancery celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Ordination of Archbishop James P. Keleher. This year is also his 25th anniversary of election as bishop, so there will be more celebrations to come. I have the distinction of being the last priest ordained by Archbishop Keleher, who is now retired as serves as Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. As always, Archbishop Keleher was gracious and in good humor today, and gave a good homily that encouraged us.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Royals come home with a winning record??



The Royals were below average offensively today but prevailed because believe it or not, Brett Tomko did alright as their 5th starter. He had life on his fastball and got some double plays when he needed them. I hope the Royals saw something during Tomko's stint as a Dodger that everyone else missed - that they were not letting him pitch his game or something. Admittedly, Tomko is nothing better than a 5th starter right now, but his first start was better than the Royals have been getting the last 10 years from their fifth starters. I actually thought without looking ahead that the Royals would pitch Bannister today and pitch Greinke for the home opener, but I'm glad they did it this way. Bannister will have a better approach against the Yanks, whereas Greinke will hit them Wednesday with great stuff after getting a look at them Tuesday. What do you say we take 2 of 3 from the Bombers, who suddenly seem to have less power than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays! I think it would be great if the American League were just a bloody mess this year, with all good teams just hanging around .500 and the Royals hovering around there somewhere as well. Wouldn't that make for a great summer? I'll be at Opening Day, thanks to some great friends, but will miss the debut of the Powder Blue jerseys next Saturday since I am headed to Conception seminary for a retreat! It's great that the Royals are 4-2 with Guillen off to a slow start, and with Teahen, Buck and Pena being absolutely brutal offensively so far. Teahen looks stronger this year but seems to me to be popping everything up! Thanks to our pitching and defense however, there is less pressure on the offense so they can relax and get it going soon. I've never been a Joey Gathright fan, but he is slowly and surely winning me over. I think he strikes out way too much for an OBP guy, but boy did he make an awesome catch today in center that I'm not sure DeJesus makes. Get him in the lineup everyday and give Teahen or Guillen a rest from time to time.

Championship Game!





OK, I admit it, I wanted Roy to lose almost as much as I wanted KU to win. This is pathetic and small of me, but I'm just one of those people who was disappointed that Roy left KU before winning a national title, but more importantly, he allowed a KU alum (Dean Smith) to convince him that North Carolina was a better place to coach basketball than Kansas. I never understood why Roy would want to coach in the shadow of Dean Smith at UNC rather than staying and becoming the all-time greatest coach at Kansas. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I haven't forgiven Roy, and boy am I glad that Bill Self is our coach now, and I would have said that even before KU's win last night. But since Dean Smith converted from being a Jayhawk to being a Tar Heel, I have a hard time believing that it was impossible for Roy to make the same conversion. Maybe North Carolina is a supremely better place than Kansas, but I'm from Kansas, so I wouldn't know. Now, admittedly, there are probably a hundred other circumstances that led into Roy's decision, and in the long run, his leaving could be the best thing that ever happened to KU. Still, I wanted to beat him last night, and I'm not proud of how badly I wanted to beat him. But we don't have to worry about that anymore, do we? Invite Roy back to the Fieldhouse now, if he'll come! I'm sure he is looking forward to his next chance to get us, and we'll be ready! Rock Chalk!


Regarding the game, I really can't believe what I saw. The rest of the nation is calling the semifinals a big letdown, and maybe they're right. I have a hard time believing that we are really than must 'stronger' than North Carolina, but who, after watching last night, thinks that the Jayhawks wouldn't beat North Carolina at least 6 or 7 times out of 10? Our defense is that much better than theirs. I can't believe how easy our buckets were the last 8 minutes of the game, and what is more, how badly the Tar Heels trapped us at half court those last 8 minutes. The traps were a joke and led to so many easy layups and dunks.




Anyhow, after watching last night, I have a great feeling that we are going to play tough against a great Memphis team. We will defend them, and who knows, maybe we will take them out of their game as well! Go Jayhawks! We can all taste it now!




P.S. Who is going to be the next coach at Oklahoma State???

Homily for Monday of the 3rd Week of Easter

For daily readings, see http://www.usccb.org/nab/readings/040708.shtml

+JMJ
Jean Baptiste de la Salle, pray for us!

Well, it is hard to write a homily when all I can think about is the Jayhawk game vs. Memphis tonight for the national championship. Actually, I can think about a lot of other things, but living in Lawrence, it is on the front of everyone's minds. Stephen in today's readings from Acts shares intimately with Christ his Lord, and as we will hear soon, becomes the protomartyr of the first Christian community. Stephen's name is remembered in the Roman Canon of Eucharist Prayer I, used most often during the highest solemnities of the Church year. Stephen is given the grace of martyrdom because He is ready to testify to his belief that Jesus is truly the Savior of the world. This is the very thing that Jesus says can be done to accomplish the works of God (Jn 6:29). The first and most important work of God is to believe in the one whom God has sent. Before we can be as ready as Stephen to make the ultimate witness of our faith, we must begin by meditating on the last beatitude - Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great (Mt 5:11)! Meditating on this beatitude will help us to lose our fear of professing our faith, and will encourage us to make the sacrifices necessary to let the light of our faith in Jesus' resurrection to shine brightly before our brothers and sisters (Mt 5:15).

+m
Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!