Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wedding Homily

We speak words of love. We exchange gifts. Then we embrace. This is a natural expression of human love. We say what we feel as best we can. We exchange gifts that express that affection. Then we embrace, sharing that love in a physical way.

The vows. The rings. The kiss. The three natural progressions that take place during a wedding. Yet in the liturgy we are in the midst of celebrating, the vows and the rings do not immediately give way to the kiss. They give way to something else - they give way to the celebration of Mass.

Chris and Sasha, when you are asked if you come here today freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage, you will be able to say yes in a way that gives a witness to what true freedom is, and what it is for. When you say yes to this question of your freedom, you say much more than simply stating that it didn't take any shotguns to get you here, nor did you have to resort to anesthesia to get the courage to come down the aisle. At least I hope you did not. No, those that know you, Sasha and Chris, know that you have found freedom in Christ Jesus, for it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. In Christ, you have discovered the truth that as unnatural as it is for man to live alone, without the benefit of human companionship and love, it is far more unnatural for man to live without God. You have found in Christ the completion of the mystery of who you are, for Christ came, as our late Holy Father John Paul II said, to fully reveal man to himself. Christ has set you each free, and so you enter into this sacrament with real freedom, the freedom of one whose heart and whose life has been completely redeemed by the love of Christ, the freedom of one who has decided to follow Jesus by loving another person just as He has first loved you.

In the spirit of this freedom you have received from Christ your Lord, it is natural for you to direct the minds and hearts of those who have come with great joy to celebrate the beauty of your romantic love for each other toward the love of Christ revealed most fully in the Holy Eucharist. After the exchange of vows and rings, there is of course great momentum for you to celebrate the new ontological reality of your marriage in a physical way, beginning with a kiss. Yet directed by the liturgy of the Church, you will turn instead and offer your bodies not first to each other, even as a new married couple, but to Christ. After the vows and the rings, you first act as a married couple will be to offer your bodies on this altar of sacrifice, asking God to take your bodies up into the one perfect sacrifice of His only Son, the acceptable sacrifice that brings salvation to the world.

Chris and Sasha, you proclaim in and through the liturgy of the Church today, that Christ is the source and the seal of your marriage. You place your new marriage within the eternal marriage of Christ to His bride, the Church, the one marriage that is fully free, and faithful and fruitful, as you wish your new marriage to be. You proclaim that the vocation you have received from Christ is to complete the mystery of another person, your spouse, by first sharing with your spouse the truth that Christ has completed the mystery of who you are. Before you kiss your spouse for the first time as a married couple, you turn to remember that you have first been kissed by Christ Himself, and are already one flesh, one mind, one heart, one Spirit with Him through the Holy Eucharist.

Chris and Sasha, as essential as it is that you use the human freedom given you by God to choose one another today, you proclaim all the more loudly that you have been chosen by God to be his adopted son and daughter through Jesus Christ, and by Christ you are chosen to go out and to bear fruit that will remain. May the eternal salvation that flows from the Holy Eucharist be always the greatest gift that you offer to each other and to your children, and to those of us so privileged to share in your marriage as your family and friends. Thank you for coming here in freedom today to strengthen the faith of all of us who know Jesus to be the way, the truth and the life. +m

Thursday, January 29, 2009 video

While I think that made a great video regarding the potential of President Obama's life that was protected because his mother gave birth to him, perhaps in less than perfect circumstances, I have to admit that I was not a fan of the campaign to run the ad during the Super Bowl. Although I realize the ad would have had a great impact in addition to the impact it has already had through youtube, having been viewed over 700,000 times already, I cringed at the thought of paying NBC $3 million. In my humble opinion, and perhaps I could be talked out of this, I think NBC losing money on the SuperBowl would do more for the pro-life cause than this ad. NBC has plenty of air-time, more than enough to make up for a 30 second ad, so if their network does not agree with the pro-life position, and there is ample evidence that they do not, then they have thousands of opportunities to counteract this one pro-life ad, none of which cost them a dime. Which is why I was shocked today that they decided to turn down such a benign ad, not that the pro-lifers had raised the $ anyway, but they turned it down not wanting to run political advertisements during the Super Bowl. The video is not very political, but regardless, I am surprised that they would turn down the $ were the people to be able to raise it. I know we should be open as pro-lifers to every opportunity to evangelize the culture, and should be looking for great opportunities. Yet given that NBC stands to profit as much as we do from this ad, I would rather see us promote the ad in other ways. I say this knowing there are many good pro-life Catholics and people of good will who work for NBC, and who work for the cause of life in their workplace as best they can. Thank you to all such people, and our prayers are with you! +m

St Lawrence Staff Retreat

Thursday morning was spent with the staff of the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at KU, where I serve as Associate Director alongside my responsiblities with vocations for the Archdiocese. It was a brief but fruitful retreat. Sr. Debbie Li's meditation on the placing of the papyrus basket containing the baby Moses into the Nile even before the oppression of the Israelites at the hands of the Egyptians worsened, shows how God takes care of us in small ways and prepares for our good, even when we do not perceive it. She meditated further on how the exodus through the desert may have challenged the Israelite people, and caused them to grumble, that the result was that they were forged by God into a nation once again. The exodus erased the tribal affiliations of the Israelites, and prepared them to enter into the promised land together. So too in the Church is can be the trials we endure together than can prepare us for the good things to come, good things that are meant for us together, as Christ's body, the Church, moreso than for individuals. The sisters treated us to a great pasta lunch and homemade cake afterwards - the spiritual feeding made me want to return to work right away - the physical feeding, which I also greatly enjoyed. Made me want to take a nap!

Homily for Friday of the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, click here.

God is capable of big works. He is capable of big signs. The great flood. Check. The parting of the Red Sea. Check. He is the almighty. He can overwhelm us anytime He wants to.

Yet He chooses to come among us like a mustard seed planted in the ground. He chooses a young virgin to be His mother. He is born most humbly in an out of the way town. He throws his life away, delivering Himself into the hands of sinners.

The Lord loves our freedom so much, He finds us human beings to be so very good, created in His image and likeness, that even though it is His right to demand obedience from His creation, He humbly asks for it instead. The Lord usually invites in small ways. The Lord whispers to us. Our vocation usually starts out this way. As a seed. As a whisper. As an invitation to move forward in faith rather than in fear.

The author of the Hebrews tells us that if we move forward in fear, we will avoid sufferings, and latch on to the things that require no faith, the simple pleasures that are closest and easiest. If we move forward in fear, we will conform our lives to the standards of the world.

But the just one will live by faith, and joyfully endure whatever sufferings are necessary for him to move toward the fullness of life and his eternal destiny. To move towards life with faith instead of towards death with fear requires endurance. Once we move forward in faith, we must not turn back. Building upon that initial gift of faith, that initial vocation to holiness, that first invitation to follow the Lord, each time thereafter that we choose faith and not fear, we grow closer to bearing that beautiful fruit that the Lord has called us to produce! +m

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Homily for Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Ordinary Time

For daily readings, click here.

Is Jesus intentionally trying to confuse us? The Gospel might make us think so. Jesus taught the crowds in parables, which are uninterpreted metaphors that do not have an allegorical or literal meaning. Parables are puzzles that point to a truth but do not give it away. You have to work for them, and even after you think you have figured them out, there is still more to be discovered. That is why Jesus says that it is important for his followers to look and see but not perceive, and that they listen and hear but not understand. It is not that Jesus wants to confuse us. But He wants us to realize that if we think we understand God, we are not understanding Him. For God is not like a sudoku puzzle or a rubik's cube, He is not something that we can solve and be done with. No, God because He is shrouded in mystery is always able to stretch our minds even further. Like a parable, there are an infinite number of ways to try to understand Him.

This does not mean that our search for God is hopeless. No, the life of St. Thomas Aquinas, perhaps the greatest Church theologian ever, shows how exciting it can be to develop our minds so that we can say something excellent about who God is. Nobody gets excited when we learn about the obvious, but when we strive to stretch our minds to understand things that at first seem impossible to understand, then we are doing something exciting. We are stretching the capacity of human reason. St. Thomas Aquinas did this in a beautiful way, and was able to penetrate the mysteries of God with great clarity. The great result of his intellectual search for God, however, was that he realized that God was still so far beyond him. This did not lead St. Thomas to despair, however, but made him more prayerful and ready for Christ to come and dwell within his heart. St. Thomas had a great mind, to be sure, and wrote incredible things, but even more importantly, He allowed Christ Jesus to write on his heart. +m

Viva Miege!

Had a great time today visiting Bishop Miege high school during Catholic schools week and giving a homily today. Of course it was about vocations and prayer. After the Mass, Fr. Greg Hammes, their chaplain, led the Miege students in a short time of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. This is the first time any kind of silent adoration has been done with such a large group at Miege in a number of years. It went great! Tomorrow I'm headed for the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas to my old stomping grounds, STA high school in Overland Park! Archbishop Naumann will be there to preside and give the homily. Looking forward to seeing all the saints! Although these two schools are great rivals, and really don't like each other, I have great affection for them both!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Homily for Monday of the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, click here.

Before there was a Bible, there was a Church. Yes, even a church with presbyters. Our reading from Titus, a very early letter from St. Paul instructing Titus to appoint presbyters, or priests, testifies to this fact. From the earliest days of the Church, there was the reading of scripture and the presence of priests who both proclaimed the word, broke the bread just as Jesus had asked his disciples to do, and who worked to build the family of the new Church. There is no shame in our being the institutional Church. Paul, the great apostle, worked hard to build a family with structure that could sustain itself and be effective in proclaiming the Gospel.

The unforgivable sin described by Jesus is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Obviously, we lead others away from God by our sinful actions, but according to the words of the Gospel, such sins are forgivable. It is forgivable for us to tell our fellow Christians - do as I say, not as I do. What is not forgivable, however, is deliberately telling people that they cannot believe in God. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, who directs people toward truth and the knowledge of God, is deliberately leading someone away from faith that God is real, that He is love, that He is omnipotent, and that He is with us. Jesus came to reveal these eternal truths about God in the most humble and intimate of ways. To characterize Jesus as a master of deceit, as the scribes do in today's Gospel, is blasphemy against the one sent from God to give His life to reveal the truth of who God really is.

Thanks to friends for more March photos!

St. Paul Indulgence

For Catholics in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, a plenary indulgence is granted this year for those who attended the Mass of the Conversion of St. Paul celebrated in our parishes this weekend, and who fulfill the other requirements as follows:

  • pray for the intentions of the Holy Father

  • go to confession

  • turn away from serious sin

The plenary indulgence removes not the guilt of the sin (this is done in confession) but the debt owed because of the sin. This debt can be paid either in this life, through prayers and sufferings, or in purgatory. The plenary indulgence offered this year removes all the temporal punishment due to sin. It can be applied to the life of one seeking the indulgence or to the life of a soul in purgatory.

Friday, January 23, 2009

some impressions from the March for Life

  1. We had some guardian angels helping on the way here. Our bus driver originally thought we left at 5am not 5pm on Tuesday, so his sleeping schedule was a little off, and he had a hard time staying awake, or so it seemed at times. Some brave pilgrims tried to keep talking to him throughout the night so we could get there safely, and we did!

  2. Should have had Powerbars, not fast food. Stomach ached a lot.

  3. Sleeping pills or no sleeping pills? I have one, but am scared to use it.

  4. 16,000 people at the Shrine Mass - it's neat, but so crowded - no way to do an outdoor Mass in DC in January, is there? The new football stadium? They have football there in January!! Jesus was born outside (almost) - am I crazy here?

  5. Young people are learning how to pray. No complaints from our group about Mass, rosary, Liturgy of the Hours - they eat prayer up and are always ready for more!

  6. Politically, it is still an advantage to be pro-life, up to 3% more of Americans are against abortion, but not many of those are 'single-issue' voters.

  7. Without Catholics, the March for Life would die, but with them, it is 200K strong, and is the most consistent and enduring civil rights demonstration in US history.

  8. One theme of the March is that if Obama wants to be like Lincoln, he should find a just cause and deliver the neglected and the innocent from oppression - there was optimism that He could really be converted to the cause of life. This surprised me.

  9. Obama was challenged to know what an abortion really is, to meet with mothers and fathers harmed by abortion (as President of all Americans) to define when his life began, to define when the lives of his daughters began, and to explain why abortion on demand is necessary.

  10. Another theme was that some Americans are for abortion because they do not see abortion. Again, greater effort must be made to show exactly what we have made legal in the country, and familiarize Americans with abortion procedures. It is not medicine.

  11. Pro-lifers were encourage to pray, to live joyfully, to make friends, to be community organizers, and to persevere until the cause is won.

  12. There is still great optimism among pro-lifers for our country. That our country can be a moral leader, and be the first country who once legalized abortion who later came to the defense of the unborn.

  13. We had a gorgeous day on which to March - 42 degrees and sunny! We didn't have to offer up the bad weather!

Every once in awhile, you'll find a priest who can 'rip it' - is that the right terminology?

Priests do lots of stupid and fun things

Pope Benedict choosing 'friendship' with Obama first?

Deacon Greg Kandra in his blog is proposing that Pope Benedict is taking a more conciliar tone with the new American President than are the American bishops, who have immediately decided to challenge the new President on his stance on abortion while the Pope has only sent friendly greetings to date. Given that this Pope has been unpredictable in his decisions of when to push buttons (see dialogue with Muslims) and when not to, but has been successful when doing both, I can only assume that the Pope would like to see U.S. policy change in many areas, and sees a chance to build a friendship with President Obama on many fronts, before directly confronting his stance on abortion. How will it work? Time will tell.

Vatican has new YouTube channel - watch!

If you didn't already know this, the Vatican is up with its own YouTube channel so make sure you tune in regularly for new videos of papal addresses and events! This does not replace the need to make a pilgrimage to Rome, but might intensify your desire to do so! This week's feature video - the blessing of the lambs on the Feast of St. Agnes - the blessed wool will be used to make palliums for the new metropolitan Archbishops named during the last year. The palliums will be given by the Holy Father on June 29th, the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul.

March for Life Photo Gallery from Washington Post

A nice gallery of HD pictures - there were about 200,000 people this year - best estimates. For those of you who have not been on the March, these pictures represent the diverse sentiments within the same pro-life message. This is much better coverage than the March usually gets from the Post.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Presidential Inauguration/March for Life Departure Mass Homily

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood.

At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and
virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Can it be true that the very words that President Obama used today to inspire Americans to move forward with hope and virtue can also be used, without addition, subtraction, or deletion, to define what it means for us to go on this religious pilgrimage in defense of life? Remarkably the answer is yes! The president's words, even though he does not share our moral view and will not be on our side when we march on Thursday, are perfect for us!

How appropriate is that night when George Washington and the small revolutionary army faced almost certain defeat, not only for the political situation that confronts our country today, but even more importantly, for the moral situation of our country that no longer guarantees the right to life. Allow me now to paraphrase for our current condition.

On a day when the threats to life are as great as ever, when our capital seems more devoid than ever of those who stand for the right to life, when it seems like the enemy is advancing and our cause retreating, when the snow is stained with blood, at a moment when it seems there is no way our cause can win, when nothing but hope and virtue can survive, we leave to March for Life!

Those of us born after 1973 in a country that did not guarantee our right to be born go to our nation’s capital with righteous anger that so many of our brothers and sisters have been lost to the sin of abortion. We go also with hope and virtue and against great odds, because we refuse to let the story end as it now reads We refuse to let the American conscience be dulled anymore than it already is. We will not turn back, until we carry forth and deliver safely to our children the most fundamental right of every human person, the right to be born. The right to life!

There are many who consider the events of today to be a great miracle. Where there was once moral blindness, there is now light, and a person of African-American heritage is now the president of the United States. For those who worked to make this day a reality, for those who marched and suffered to end the dehumanization of persons, this day is understandably a great joy! Barack Obama is a person! Barack Obama is the president! We rejoice with them! It is good that 2 million people descended upon Washington DC today. We rejoice as a nation for the hope that President Obama represents, and for the possibility of change through his great gift of leadership. We pray for him and his family!

We pray as well, however, that our new President and our Congress will listen to our pleas for conversion of heart and mind! Tomorrow night we will wear purple, the liturgical color of repentance, to give witness, that although change is possible, and moral blindness can give way to light, that in our country since 1973, an even greater moral blindness has come upon us. The sin of abortion is the greatest sin in our country’s history because its victims, the unborn, are even more defenseless than any group of persons who have been persecuted within these borders. They are invisible. They are without a voice. We leave tonight to March for them. We leave tonight to make them visible and to be their voice. We march and suffer so that this greatest of moral blindnesses can one day be replaced by the light of truth and love. We march so that we can grow in virtue and holiness by this spiritual pilgrimage, so that we can change even when the laws of our land do not change, so that we will continue the struggle for life with hope and virtue no matter how long it takes. It is good that 2 million people descended upon Washington today. We will be a small group, maybe 100,000, maybe more. Yet we march with confidence that on the day Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land, tens of millions will join us in Washington to celebrate that great victory! In the meantime, do not lose hope because our numbers are not greater. Look with faith and see who is marching with us! If you look with faith, can you not see the invisible army marching by our side! 53 million children lost to abortion. They march with us. The great cloud of witnesses, led by the apostles and martyrs, who gave their lives so that we might believe in the Gospel of Life, and have life in abundance, march with us! Mary, who gave birth in the most challenging of circumstances, who is the mother of all who have eternal life, marches with us! Jesus, our Lord, who gave His life so that our sins, including the sin of abortion, may be forgiven, marches with us! Now that, my dear friends, is reason to hope. We are on the side that cannot lose, because in Christ the victory over sin and death has been won forever! Let us proclaim that not just in eternity, but also in time, and within the borders of this great country of ours, life will be victorious! Let us march with faith, hope and love! +m

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fun Friday!

Friday included a delayed Christmas luncheon with the Vocation Office staff and going out with friends to the Wheel and Free State Brewery for great conversation! Saturday is the Catholic Charities Snowball in Kansas City, Missouri. Also, pray for the TEC 216 taking place at Savior Pastoral Center this weekend! Jayhawks on the road at CU - easy win??? I hope so!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Homily for Thursday of the 1st Week of Ordinary Time

Sin produces either contrition, or hardness of heart. Sin 'tests' the subjective good we disorderedly desire versus the objective good. When we realize there is a disparity between these two goods, one being greater than the other, we respond in one of two ways. Either we pretend we are the final judge of what is good and what is evil, or we feel contrition for our sin. Our hearts are either hardened, or they are softened.

If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. It could be the voice of your conscience awakening you to the presence of God within you. It could be the voice calling you toward your perfect vocation. Harden not your hearts. Do not pretend you do not hear this voice. Do not rationalize away this voice. Do not ignore it. It is the voice of love. It is the voice of meaning. It is a voice sharpening your ability to distinguish between being merely subjectively good, versus hearing the call of the Lord to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect! +m

Was at the game!

Kind of seemed more like an Iowa State game than a K-State game. No Beasley to hate. The crowd was loud in small spurts, but that was all it needed to be. Those guards from KSU are really fast but ours are more effective. More lobs to Cole - he catches almost all of them and will finish more of them as he gets more opportunities. I see KU getting better but it is hard to know if they will be good this year. They learn some lessons and get better and then seem to forget them. We have a favorable schedule so we should be NCAA eligible. I'm in Mexico City for the first couple of rounds so I will miss us play - any chance we will make the sweet 16 with this team? Well, it was a good game - people got their $55 worth, except the smattering of KSU fans that found their way into the Phog.

National Vocations Awareness Week

Two full days at St. James Academy (getting some prayer in early in the morning before Day 1) and then a morning Mass and visit to St. Agnes in Roeland Park today. More phone calls coming in from guys interested in seminary - keep praying for them! Most of the crew was back at the St. Lawrence Center today for evening Mass and then we had a very inspiring speaker Sherri Bickley who told us of her conversion and her work in the pro-life movement. The KU/St. Lawrence contingent is ready to March proudly and strongly in DC on January 22nd! Rock Chalk Pro-Life Hawks!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Homily for Monday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, click here

Nice Gospel for the 2nd day of National Vocations Awareness Week. The calling of the first apostles. Nice. Notice that Jesus called the first apostles two by two. He called two sets of brothers. Too often we try to figure out our vocations as individuals. We should be asking our best friends about our vocation. We should be asking our brothers and sisters. What do you think Jesus is calling me to do. When the Lord calls us, there is a good chance he is calling our best friends as well. How much less scary is it to answer your vocation from God if your best friend answers at the same time. These kind of conversations should be taking place between friends and siblings all the time. Let's be priests together. Let's be sisters together. Wouldn't that be cool?

Does Jesus thinking fishing is a lame job? Not really. It's just that a vocation to follow Him more precisely is more than a job. Jesus is offering the chance to get to know God as an intimate friend. He is offering a chance to be a part of the mission to redeem the world. So he has every right to ask the apostles to leave their nets. And they do. In the same way, we should not compare any career, no matter how cool, to the chance to be a priest or a sister. Being religious is in a different category and is something we have to seriously consider before moving on to pursue some other career. Being a priest or a sister, as Jesus shows, should be our first option, not our back-up plan.

Everyone should give Jesus every opportunity to call them to be a priest or a sister. We should be ready to go as soon as possible, as ready as were the first apostles. Too many people try to hide their vocations or they end up throwing them away because they are not ready to answer. But it is true that Jesus does not call everyone to be a priest or a sister. He is calling more than are able to answer, but He does not call everyone. We see this in Zebedee and in the hired men whom Jesus did not call. In the end, we can't be a priest or a sister unless Jesus invites us and calls us by name. But to hear His call, we must pray, or we will never hear it. +m

Pope Baptizes in Sistine Chapel

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord marking the end of the Christmas season usually finds the Pope celebrating Mass in the Sistine Chapel and performing baptisms. Here is a great shot from this year.

KU finally starts conference basketball play Tuesday versus K-State. The fieldhouse better be rockin, because the 'Hawks need to win all their home games this year to challenge for the conference title and to be NCAA tournament eligible. Here's hoping Tyshawn Taylor gets it going again soon.

This week in National Vocations Awareness Week. Among other things, I'll be visiting St. James Academy in Lenexa and St. Agnes school in Roeland Park. We have a few good men interested in seminary for the Archdiocese this year. Please continue to pray for them.

I'll be headed to DC on the 20th of January for the annual March for Life - we'll arrive just one day after the Obama inauguration. What a time to be in DC and to be standing up for life! Rock Chalk Pro-Life Hawks! Remember KU fans how much fun parades are to celebrate life?
My pictures on this blog post are all messed up but I'm not going to take the time to fix them - you all know what you are seeing, don't you?