Monday, April 27, 2009

Pope Benedict's New Encyclical

Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) is the pope's next encyclical, which he has been working on for several years, that will address the Church's responsibility to care for the poor, and the effects of globalization on economic justice. It should be a great encyclical. Plan now on reading it during the summer. Word on the street is that the encyclical will be timely and will address the causes and effects of the global economic recession. It will be released on June 29th, on the great Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul!

Cool things

First of all, St. Lawrence got a shout out today from popular Catholic blogger Amy Welborn regarding its initiative to evangelize on campus - The Ask a Catholic A Question campaign gets a big thumb ups from the blogsophere as real evidence of the springtime of evangelization in the Church. Also great news for fans of campus ministry in the Church, Cardinal Newman has a confirmed miracle that allows him to be beatified at a date of the Holy Father's choosing. Reports indicate Gordon Brown has invited the Pope to do the beatification in England if he wishes. Cardinal Newman is the patron of campus ministries attached to universities! Many Catholics around the world had their faith strengthened and supported while in college at their local 'Newman Center.'
Finally, here is the actual text of the letter written by Mary Ann Glendon declining Notre Dame's prestigious Laetare medal.

The background to the Notre Dame/Obama/Glendon controversy

Fr. DeSouza in the NCRegister blog has an interesting history of the last 25 years of Catholic politicians visiting Notre Dame, the prestige and power of Notre Dame in American Catholicism and the interesting decisions of Notre Dame Presidents and Presidents of the United States to speak and to take stances at Notre Dame over the years. I didn't know all this history. I applaud Mary Ann Glendon's decision. Everyone is saying that this is the major turning point in American Catholicism that we have been waiting for. It is a decision that perhaps will set the American Church apart from the rest of western Catholicism. Hold on. We are in for quite a ride! May the Holy Spirit guide and protect the Church!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter

AMDG Homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter JMJ
St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas
For daily readings, click here.

I'm pretty much a coward. A scaredy cat. I'm afraid of heights. I'm afraid of death. I'm afraid of snakes. I don't read Steven King. I'm afraid to walk down a dark street by myself. I'm not into horror movies. I do not go to haunted houses. I stay away from evil spirits, ghosts and anything that approaches divinization like a ouija board. As I have told countless young people who have asked me, I do not know how to do an exorcism and I am not the Archdiocesan exorcist. I'm pretty much a coward. When I am playing sports, I think I am pretty tough, but I still admit that I am no daredevil. Sometimes my pride will be greater than my fear, and my friends will be able to dare me into something risky. But usually when I see the x games or sky diving, or anything of the sort, I am glad it is them and not me.

Those of you who aren't afraid of anything are probably still afraid of the Resurrection of Jesus. The disciples, as we hear today, were terrified. Even though they had fair warning that Jesus might rise from the dead, there was no way for them to get completely ready for it. How do you get ready to see a Resurrected Body? Death meant for them what it means for all of us - the separation of the body from the soul. So they assumed they couldn't be seeing a real human body - it had to be a ghost. At any rate, they were terrified. You and I would be to. Probably most of us here in this room have some unexplainable experience with a miracle or with the supernatural, or with a private revelation from God, or with a bizarre phenomenon. Such experiences can be incredibly weird, terrifying, or warm and inspiring as well. But they are as unpredictable as the appearance of Jesus in today's Gospel. The first experience of the disciples was one of terror. Our reaction would undoubtedly be the same.

In the Gospel story, however, this fear turns into amazement and joy. Jesus doesn't skip out of the room after giving his disciples a little slice of evidence about His Resurrection. Although Jesus does not stick around long, He does more than just scare His disciples, before disappearing again. No, Jesus stays long enough so that his disciples may get a second look at him, so that they can explore his hands and feet, and watch Him eat a piece of fish so that they can see that He is no ghost, but is truly Risen in His human body! What is more, Jesus stays long enough so that He can review how His suffering, death and Resurrection fulfilled all the predictions made by God's Holy prophets. Jesus does not appear only for a quick scare, so that His disciples are more confused than ever. No, He stays with them long enough for their fear to turn into joy and amazement.

So too this Easter season that Jesus' Church has given us. We have some time to be with the Resurrected Jesus, like the first disciples. 50 days to be precise. The 50 days of the Easter season. This is the longest special liturgical season of the year. Longer than Advent, when we prepare for the Lord's coming. Longer than Christmas, when we celebrate that God is with us. Longer than Lent, when we pray, fast and give alms in anticipation of entering into Christ's paschal mystery. So important is this time given us to be with the Resurrected Jesus, and to overcome our fear of the Resurrection, that the Church prescribes for us 50 days! 50 days to consider the evidence as to whether Christ is truly Risen. 50 days to ask ourselves whether the grace of the Resurrection is the power we need to overcome our fear of death and to be set free from sin. 50 days to ask ourselves whether we have been invited personally by Jesus to share in his victory, to no longer be a victim in a world damaged by sin and brokenness, but to instead be a victor with Christ and to join him in defeating sin and death with the power of God's recreative love!

The Church gives us 50 days because we too need time, like the first disciples, for our fear of the Resurrection to turn into joy and amazement. Jesus' Resurrection at first inspires fear in every disciple because it changes everything. Because of the Resurrection, we cannot remain in our sins - we have to move. We have to change. We have to win the victory over sin and death, just as Jesus Himself won the victory. Change is always scary. We have a big investment in who we are at the present moment - it is hard for us to jump out of a plane, for we know if we do, we will never be the same. Overcoming our fear of the Resurrection is something like that. We need time for this fear of the change that the Resurrection of Jesus brings to turn during this season of Easter into joy and amazement. It takes time to recognize the new freedom that is ours because Jesus is truly Risen, to be amazed at the new intellectual and spiritual space opened within us by the grace of the Resurrection. Because of the Resurrection, there is no excuse we can come up with to remain in our sins, as powerful as evil might be and as deep seated as our patterns of sin might be. That is why the apostles first began to preach immediately after the Resurrection that the grace of Christ is powerful enough to destroy the momentum of sin in a person's life. That same powerful grace experienced by the disciples as they probed his hands and feet and conversed with Him is present here tonight - that very same grace - the grace of Christ sharing His abundant Resurrected life with us is the grace we receive by eating His body and drinking His blood - we receive really and substantially in the Eucharist that same body probed by the first disciples. The same grace that kept the apostles from turning back toward their former way of lives, and back toward fear, is the grace that comes to us tonight as we break open the Scriptures and receive Christ's body. It is a grace, the grace of one Eucharist, that is enough to completely set us free to be different as the first disciples were set free to live and to proclaim the truth of the Resurrection. Overcoming our fear of the Resurrection is to remain close to the Resurrected Jesus, not afraid of the change that is possible in and through Him. It is to recognize and to believe by faith that the grace of holiness is closer to us and more powerful within us, than the momentum toward sin and darkness that we also experience.

Most of the time, unfortunately, we assume that sin and temptation are very close to us, and the grace of the Resurrection is very far away. That is why the Church gives us these 50 days of Easter, to turn around this false way of thinking. Easter is a time of grace and change because the power of the Resurrection has brought about the possibility of living in another dimension, of moving to the next level of sharing in God's power over sin and death. Easter is a graced time, a time for a change of heart and a change of life, for because of the Resurrection, it is true that with God, all things are possible! Amen! Alleluia! +m

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fr. Barron on the Georgetown situation

If you haven't read anything about Georgetown covering up the IHS (Jesus monogram) symbol for President Obama's policy speech there recently, here is an excerpt from the end of Fr. Barron's commentary explaining why it was unacceptable for the University to do so, considering the Church's historical relationship with Universities and our Catholic tradition that puts Jesus the Logos not at the periphery of learning, but at the center of any serious search for truth! Enjoy!

In point of fact, understanding Jesus is the key to this particular controversy and to the wider question of the church and the public square. The peculiar claim of the church is that Jesus is not one religious figure among many, not one more in a long line of prophets and inspired teachers. Jesus is the Son of God, the incarnation of the Logos, which is to say, the very word by which God created the universe. The great theologians of our tradition clearly grasped the implication of this doctrine: Jesus, precisely as the Logos made flesh, is related to any and every expression of logos (mind or reason) in the culture.
Every truth discovered by science or philosophy, every design apparent in
nature, every instance of artistic beauty, every arrangement of justice is a
reflection of what appears fully in Jesus. And this is why the church, at its
best, has always been the friend of the arts, of philosophy, of science, and

And this is furthermore why the first universities—Bologna,
Paris, Oxford, Cambridge—emerged precisely out of the milieu of the church. In
the thirteenth century, St. Bonaventure, professor at the University of Paris,
composed an extraordinary text called Christ the Center, the gravamen of whose
argument is that Jesus the Logos is at the heart of physics, mathematics,
history, and metaphysics. In the mid-nineteenth century, John Henry Newman, in a series of lectures entitled The Idea of a University made much the same
assertion. The Jesus reverenced by the great tradition belongs therefore very
much in the public sphere and around the table of intellectual conversation. In
that context, he poses no threat to legitimate expressions of reason and he
serves as a trump to the unreason that can surface easily enough in the
sciences, in politics, or in philosophy. A Catholic university worthy of the
name is a place where Jesus the Logos has this essential regulating role.

What is particularly interesting (and troubling) about the Georgetown
decision to cover up the name of Jesus is that it symbolizes something much
broader, viz. the tendency of too many Catholic institutions to consider Jesus
something of an embarrassment, a hindrance to the full immersion of Catholics in the secular society. The Christ who is the embodiment of Reason itself does not hinder, and should never embarrass, those who are seeking truth in any form.

Fr. Barron new series on answering the basic questions

The Church's apologetics just keep getting better and better, and more and more modern. Fr. Barron does an extraordinarily good job of keeping up with the times, always keeping his videos short and thus attractive to a young audience, while providing something that people at all levels of understanding can appreciate. I really admire and value his ministry, and hope you will follow Him like I do and support his work if you are able.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chrism Mass Breakfast 2009

sorry there are not more pictures - i'm just starting to learn how to make these videos with the pictures I am taking

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday

Around this time of year, I always get apologetic. By that I do not mean that I get more sorry for my sins, or that I go around apologizing to all my enemies, although this should always be happening too. But I do not mean that I get more apologetic in this way. I mean it in the way that I get more defensive. The Easter proclamation always makes me ready to not only promote the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, but it also makes me more defensive against the attacks of those who do not believe. Maybe it is the emails I receive from parents who are disappointed that their college student is moving away from the Catholic faith, for their son or daughter no longer sees that faith not as a precious gift they received from their family pointing them toward truth, goodness, beauty and purpose, but as an unnecessary burden, linking them to an outdated mythology and an embarrassingly repressive code of morality. Maybe I'm frustrated that it is as hard as ever, given the wounds that continue to scar the Church and the world and have yet to be healed, to proclaim the truth of the Resurrection to a skeptical world, and to fulfill Jesus' command to make disciples of all nations. Maybe it is the frailty of my own faith, and my difficulty in resacrificing my life, every day, for the truth of this faith in the Resurrection to which I have been chosen by Christ to give witness. It is probably a combination of all of these things, circumstances personal and communal. For whatever reasons, I get apologetic this time of year. I get defensive.

When I hear the story of the doubting Thomas, of course I see myself. We all do. Who doesn't want more proof of the Lord's Resurrection? But I have another reaction as well. It is the 'you've got to be kidding me' reaction.' Thomas enters a room where everyone is in unanimous agreement that they have seen the Lord. Unanimous agreement. Not one dissenter. Not one witness saying they saw something else. And Thomas thinks it is an April fools joke? You've got to be kidding me. I guess this is why I get defensive when I see how hard it is for faith in the Resurrection of Jesus to gain ground in our age of skepticism today. There exists a 2000 year history of faith in the historical bodily Resurrection of Jesus. Not a perfect history, mind you, but an impressive legacy nonetheless. The witness of countless lives changed and redeemed by faith in Jesus, the heroic stories of selfless men and women who have done unthinkably beautiful things because they trusted in the truth of the Resurrection. Countless Churches and monuments that attest to the truth of that first witness given by the apostles, that Jesus Christ is truly Risen from the dead. And still there are people who have concluded for sure that the whole thing is the greatest April fools delusion of all time? Still there are people who will not admit the possibility of the Resurrection, let alone its probability given all the evidence, until they have ruled out every other possibility? I'm not saying that the witness of the Church today is exactly the same as the witness of those first disciples to Thomas, nor am I saying that I can prove the truth of the Resurrection to anyone; nonetheless, the 'are you kidding me?' reaction is always the same within me this time of year. I get apologetic about the Resurrection. I get defensive.

Thankfully, Divine Mercy Sunday arrives to distract me from continuing a 7 week long homily rant on the ability/inability of the Church to prove the truth of the Resurrection, and the ability/inability of the modern world to hear such a proclamation. Divine Mercy Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter, per the wishes of the late Holy Father John Paul II, who died in 2005 on the eve of this great solemnity, is a Solemnity that proposes to us the 'why' of the paschal events, not simply on the historical authenticity of them. The Gospel alone on this Sunday, the Gospel of the doubting Thomas, is focused on Jesus giving his followers the evidence that they will need to proclaim the truth of the Resurrection. Yet in saying that this is Divine Mercy Sunday, the Church points us as well to a deeper question of faith that precedes faith in the true historical bodily Resurrection. The deeper question of faith is this? Do you believe God is love? Do you believe God is merciful?

If the Bible had a title or even a subtitle, it would be hard to decide the perfect title that summarizes the story of the world's salvation. What title would you pick? God is victorious? Jesus Christ is truly Risen? These would be good choices. On Divine Mercy Sunday, another title for the story of salvation is suggested to us. God is merciful. He is merciful in creating the world, even though He did not need to. He is merciful in creating man in his image and likeness, including creating him with the gift of freedom wherein man could choose whether or not to love God in return. He is merciful in not allowing us to remain forever in our sins in an imperfect world, but instead inviting us to be members of his family forever and to share in the mission of His only Son to redeem the world and to make it new by the power of His Resurrection. The Bible is a story of mercy. Its proper title could well be - God is merciful. The Bible is a story not of necessity, not of what has to be, but it is a story about love. It is a story not of how things must be, but how they really are. It is a story of increasing love, page by page, until even the fiercest enemies of evil, sin and death, are conquered by love.

This is the theme the Church points us to on this Divine Mercy Sunday. God is love. God is merciful. This theme makes the story of the doubting Thomas more than a story of more proof in the Resurrection of Jesus, although it is this as well. The theme reminds us that the question of whether God is love is deeper and more fundamental than the question of whether Jesus is truly Risen! If one believe in the possibility that God is love, then the Resurrection easily makes sense as the most perfect revelation and the crowning achievement of that love. If one does not admit the possibility of God being love, then that person is obligated to explore with as much doubt and skepticism as possible, every other possible explanation, like Thomas, as to why all of these people think that Jesus is alive, and proclaim Him to be Lord and God!

Man cannot live without faith. This is why Jesus says that blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed. If you think having faith is hard, you should try living skepticism. How many of your triple-check the spark plug wires under your hood before starting your car? True skepticism is impossible to live. Man must live on faith. Now there is a time and a place, to be sure, when the facts need to be reevaluated over and over in light of new circumstances and new evidence. There is a time and a place, to be sure, when the reasonability of what we believe must be demonstrated. There is a time and a place for apologetic homilies on the Resurrection. But Divine Mercy Sunday moves us behind the specific facts detailing the Resurrection, toward faith in a more fundamental question - is God love?

That question is meant to come to each of us now in a personal way? Do you believe God loves you? When you look at the meaning of your life, do you believe you exist because God loves you? Do you believe that in the end that the love of God is the only thing that is truly necessary and eternal? Does the definition of love given by John ring true in your life - that in this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He has loved us, and has given us His only Son in expiation for our sins. Do you believe that love is not something you create by your own power, but something you first receive? If you believe these things about love, if you believe the possibility that God is love, and that He loves you, then you are predisposed for receiving faith in the Resurrection.

We will all continue to have our doubts, and times when our faith is stronger or weaker. You may have a life where you have many doubts, many questions, many arguments against God, and many unresolved whys? The proclamation of the Church on this Divine Mercy Sunday is to challenge every human person to put those doubts, questions, arguments, and every circumstance of your life, within the wounded side of Jesus, within the paschal mystery of his suffering, death and resurrection, just as surely as Thomas put his hand into that very side of Jesus. This is the invitation of Divine Mercy Sunday, for Jesus asks you to place the circumstances of your life within the circumstances of His, so that despite the difficulties of life, you may see and experience once again that God is love. God is merciful.

And so goes the proclamation of our Church during this Holy Season of Easter. Not only that Christ is Risen, He is truly Risen, just as He said! But also that the whole world can and should give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, and His Mercy Endures Forever. Amen. Alleluia!

KU Living Stations of Cross Slideshow

this made my good friday this year - i didn't even watch the passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson's movie, which I usually do, because the KU students did such a great job. St. Lawrence, pray for us! Happy Easter to all!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Homily for Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

For daily readings click here.

We pick up John's Gospel today on the Tuesday of the Octave of Easter where we left off on Easter Sunday morning. Mary Magdalene was the first to the tomb on Easter morning, then she became the apostle to the apostles, and ran to tell Peter and the beloved disciple, who in turn ran and discovered the empty tomb. Peter and the beloved disciple then returned home, but Mary remained weeping outside the tomb. Her devotion led her to be the first to arrive at the tomb to venerate it. Her devotion caused her to remain behind at the tomb after Peter and the beloved disciple left. She is the first to arrive and the last to leave, and she receives a double blessing for her devotion. She is the first to see the empty tomb. She is the first to see and to hear the Resurrected Jesus.

We see at the dawn of Jesus' Resurrection, just as we saw at the dawn of His Incarnation, that the Church to which Jesus makes Himself known is decidedly and primarily feminine. The angel appears first to the virgin Mary and announces that she will be the first to see and to hear and to touch the word made flesh. Here on the morning of the Resurrection, the angels clad in white appear first to Mary Magdalene, a woman, and she is the first to hear and to see the new Jesus, reborn from the tomb. Rightfully so, the virgin Mary is called the Queen of the apostles, and Mary Magadalene is known as the apostle to the apostles - the one sent to those sent. In both cases, the apostles, who will receive the commission from the Church to carry the message of the Resurrection to the ends of the earth, receive the Good News of the Incarnation and the Resurrection from the women chosen by God to first receive it. +

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Vigil Homily 2009

For daily readings, click here.

Jesus Christ is not raised. Your faith is in vain! Depending on where you stand in the cathedral basilica in St. Louis, MO this is perhaps what you might see. The simple two-letter word 'if' is easily obscured if you are standing in a part of the cathedral that does not have an unobstructed view of the transept within which the famous quote of St. Paul is stenciled, "if Jesus Christ is not raised, your faith is in vain.' (1 Cor 15:17). I have to admit that my favorite thing to do in the St. Louis Cathedral, besides, of course, celebrating Mass or visiting the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, is to walk around the cathedral and to look at that stenciling. The beauty of the stenciling focuses me on the precious gift of faith in the Resurrection of Jesus, but the unique positioning of the stenciling also helps me to see how precarious is this same faith.

Faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the true historical bodily resurrection of Jesus, is a precarious faith indeed. Not that it is going anywhere anytime soon. The symbols and prayer of tonight's liturgy proclaim forcefully that darkness has been overcome by light, that death has been vanquished. Faith in the Resurrection is not going anywhere anytime soon, as deeply as it is founded upon the rock of St. Peter's confession, and passed down through the witness of the saints and martyrs whose intercession we invoke before our profession of that same faith tonight. Our faith in the Resurrection is not a completely new faith, but instead is a gift handed down with great care by the Church, and more personally, by family and friends whom we know and trust, so that most of us make the risk of faith not alone, but within the strength of a community. We enjoy the security of believing in a Resurrection that has rung true within the hearts of billions, on every continent, who have seen in the paschal mystery of Jesus the story that explains how things really are. We have received faith as a gift, and have been incorporated into the Rock of faith that is the body of Christ. Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is something we are here to celebrate tonight, and it is not something that is going anywhere anytime soon.

Yet we are acutely aware of how precarious this faith in the Resurrection of Jesus really is. We have lived in an age of skepticism for decades, but in the last decade in particular, it is more likely for a person to lose religion instead of finding it. Even as the Church welcomes with great joy her new catechumens tonight, 155,000 strong in the United States alone, the fastest growing segment within the sociology of religion is the segment of people who do not claim any religious affiliation at all. The non-religious have grown from 8 to 15% of the United States population in just 10 years, and they are now the second largest denomination. If we haven't experienced this already in the culture surrounding us, this trend should show us how precious is the gift of new catechumens for the Church, how tremendous the obstacles that stood in the way of their conversion, and how precarious our own faith is in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

To join the Church today, or to renew our baptismal promises, is actually to go against the tide. There is no doubt about that. Even as Christians are still the majority, and some 2/3 of Americans will attend a Church service today to celebrate the Resurrection, professing faith in the Resurrection of Jesus is not the latest craze like Hannah Montana. It is not like becoming a fan of chocolate chip cookies on facebook, which I did last week. No, it is more fashionable today to lose religion, not to find it. Professing faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, whether we are doing it for the first time or for the 90th time, is less and less a going with the flow. It is increasingly a decision that has more dramatic consequences. It is a decision that is getting increasingly harder to make. Professing faith has consequences for what we know to be true and real and good and necessary. Just as importantly today, professing faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is to stand in opposition to a trend within society to increasingly see religion as detached from reality and as ultimately harmful both to the human person and to the world.

Standing in especially strong opposition to this trend was the preacher of the papal household, Fr. Raneiro Cantalamessa, who preached the Good Friday service at St. Peter's. Referring to a clever campaign underway in London which aims to paint the city with billboards that say, 'There is probably no God, so stop worrying and enjoy your life,' Fr. Cantalamessa, while seeing the billboards as a great opportunity for us to correct misperceptions about religion, nonetheless laments the insensitivity of the billboards by saying this:

Atheism is a luxury that only those with privileged lives can afford; those
who have had everything, . . . . That slogan on the bus in London and in other
cities is also read by parents who have sick children, by lonely people, the
unemployed, refugees from war zones, people who have suffered grave injustices
in life. I try to imagine their reaction to reading the words: "There's probably
no God. Now enjoy your life!" How? Suffering is certainly a mystery for
everyone, especially the suffering of innocent people, but without faith in God
it becomes immensely more absurd. Even the last hope of rescue is taken away.

In the light of real human suffering, stop worrying and enjoy your life is an absurd answer, certainly more absurd than the answer that God, while not taking away suffering, has redeemed it through the death and resurrection of His Son. What does it mean to say to someone who is in the throes of death, to stop worrying and enjoy your life? It seems that such an answer in insensitive at best, and of course only useful if a person has a lot more life to live. Yet in trying to persuade us to do this and not that, the billboard point toward the possibility of faith, and toward its reasonability. The billboards appeal to human freedom, the spiritual dimension of the human person that goes beyond the scientific and deterministic viewpoint the billboard represents. It is this same human freedom to which the billboard appeals that can be drawn not toward the simplistic pleasures that fade over time, but toward faith in a life that never ends, a life made possible through the Resurrection of Jesus. Because of the paschal mystery we have celebrated during this Sacred Triduum, there is the possibility, for those who can see with eyes of faith, that suffering and death do not have the final say. For people of faith, suffering and death can be embraced. Because of the Resurrection of Jesus, a faith carefully handed down to us, suffering and death become not our arguments for disbelieving in God and living only for ourselves. Quite the opposite, suffering and death are the pathway, chosen for us by Christ, who first loved us and gave His life on the cross in expiation for our sins, toward eternal life. Because of the Resurrection, we are all moving not toward sin and death, holding on for dear life, trying to squeeze every ounce out of a life that is quickly fading. No, because Christ is truly risen from the dead, just as He said, we know our life to be getting bigger, our love deeper, and we know we are moving toward a joy that this world can never take away! +m

Ouch! Fr. Cantalamessa takes on insensitive atheists in his Good Friday Homily at St. Peter's

See if this doesn't sting a little bit, in reference to a recent campaign by atheists to put the following slogan on buses and billboards, "There probably isn't a God, so quit worrying and get on with your life"

"So Christ did not come to increase human suffering or preach resignation to
suffering; he came to give meaning to suffering and to announce its end and defeat. That slogan on the bus in London and in other cities is also read by parents who have sick children, by lonely people, the unemployed, refugees from war zones, people who have suffered grave injustices in life. I try to imagine their reaction to reading the words: "There's probably no God. Now enjoy your life!" How? Suffering is certainly a mystery for everyone, especially the suffering of innocent people, but without faith in God it becomes immensely more absurd. Even the last hope of rescue is taken away. Atheism is a luxury that only those with privileged lives can afford; those who have had everything, including the possibility to dedicate themselves to study and research."

Father Barron on Good Friday

The Coliseum is where the Holy Father celebrates the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. At night. It is a powerful scene always, and Fr. Barron in this video explains why. When you visit the Colosseum on any other day except Good Friday, almost invariably, you will be told by your tour guide that the Colosseum was a not a major place of the persecution of Christians. They will tell you instead that it was the Church who did violence to the monument of the history of Rome by 'stealing' the marble from the Colosseum to build St. Peter's. On Good Friday, however, a different story is told at the Colosseum. It is a story of how love and forgiveness overcome the power of violence, and endure longer than any human empire. See what you think.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Homily 2009

For daily readings, click here.
We call a merciless execution good. We kiss the very means of this execution. What is wrong with us?

We celebrate a passion. We call to mind torture, not so we much so we can denounce it, or keep from doing it again in the future, but that we might enter into the hour of this torture more deeply. So that we might feel it more precisely. Are we sick? We buy the video made by Mel Gibson showing the scourging in greater detail than ever before. We go on campus to lift a KU student on a cross on Wescoe beach, showing off our love of this famous execution. What is wrong with us? We call evil good. We celebrate death. We kiss the most effective instrument of torture and humiliation the ancient world knew. If we really are this confused, we might as well call darkness light. We might as well call pleasure pain. We might as well call evil good. We might as well call nothing something.

If we may be so bold, we are here tonight to do all of these things. For our faith allows us to see the paradox inherent in the Lord's passion, and the paradox present to us tonight through our liturgy in the hour of our Lord's suffering and death. Our faith allows us to see in this holy hour the redefinition of good and evil, pleasure and pain, light and darkness, something and nothing, and yes, even life and death.

As surely as Jesus, through whom all things were made, created something from nothing, at the beginning of time, just so is our Lord creating something from nothing in this hour we contemplate - the hour of his crucifixion. In the beginning, Jesus created the world in obedience to the will of the Father, not but because He had to, but because He wanted to share of part of Himself. Just as surely as something came from nothing at the hour of the world's creation, so also in the precise hour we are here to celebrate, the hour of our Lord's passion, Jesus begins to remake the world in an even more beautiful way than it was originally made, not because He had to, not even because He merely wanted to share a part of Himself, but for a more noble purpose altogether, because He wanted to share all of Himself, including His creative power to bring something out of nothing. So we are here to celebrate something evil, the reduction of everything to nothing, that Jesus accomplished out of love not merely for His friends, but more especially for His enemies. On the cross, Jesus hands over everything that He has received from His Father, including His ability to create and to rule the world, into the hands of evil men. Jesus becomes nothing, drinking the cup of suffering that was in front of Him, and drinking it to the dregs, so as to completely empty Himself, so as to become nothing. He who was everything became nothing so that we who had lost everything through the sin of Adam, and through our own sin, might regain everything. For as Jesus says clearly in tonight's Gospel, He who is the Lord of all creation, who created everything out of nothing, He alone has the power to lay down His life and to take it up again. He embraces the cross chosen for Him by His Father not because He cannot avoid it, but because He wants to. Through the cross, Jesus wants again wants to make something out of nothing.

So we too tonight come to embrace the cross of Jesus, not merely because we cannot escape suffering and death, but because we want to be here. We want to kiss the cross. We would not kiss the cross if the cross only meant an inability on our part to avoid suffering and death. We might grab it begrudgingly, as a reminder to keep death daily before our eyes, and to be more aggressive in choosing suffering and death before it chooses us, lest we look like cowards, but for this reason alone, we would not kiss the cross. No, we come here tonight not because we have to, but because we want to. We want to kiss the cross. Why? Might I suggest that we kiss the cross because by faith we see the cross not simply as our natural ending but as a new beginning. We see in faith that from the death on the cross springs a new kind of life that we greatly desire, a life that no longer begins in light but ends in darkness, a life that no longer begins in goodness but ends in evil, a life that no longer begins with pleasure and ends with pain. We kiss the cross because we see in faith a world that can be remade from the axis of the cross. We see the cross as the beginning of a new story that we are invited to write with Jesus, a story that begins with evil but ends with goodness. A story that begins in pain, but ends in pleasure, a story that begins in darkness but ends with everlasting day. That is why we kiss the cross, not because we admit, to our dismay, that the cross is where our lives too must end, but because it is from the cross that we want our lives to truly begin.

Beginning from the cross of Jesus, evil is defeated. That is why we kiss the cross. It is the tree of victory. In handing over to us everything that He received from His Father, including the power to create the world, Jesus chooses us to meet Him at Calvary, and to begin remaking the world with Him there. In kissing the cross, and accepting with joy every cross that comes our way, we escape the victimhood of having to accept suffering and death as the way things really are, and instead we volunteer, because we want to, to be chosen by Christ make up in our bodies what is lacking in His suffering, to enter into the great privilege of redeeming the world, bit by bit, with Jesus, beginning from the cross. Everlasting life means for us not simply avoiding enough evil to be put on the ark that Noah built, and so floating above evil, relatively untouched, nor does it mean vainly hoping that we will get a ticket back to Eden from whence we came, where all the drinks were free before man misused his freedom. No, everlasting life for us is a life that begins not in a land far, far away, a land of gated communities where Satan has not yet mastered mankind, but is a life that begins right here, and now, when we kiss the cross of Christ, where Satan is defeated. From the cross of Jesus that we kiss because He has chosen us to do so, and through the power of the divine faith and love most fully revealed to us in this hour, may we keep taking back inch by inch from Satan, through our willing suffering, a world that begins in light and ends in darkness, and continue building with Jesus, who has the power to lay down His life and take it up again, the new and eternal Jerusalem, a world that begins in death but ends in everlasting life!

Shroud of Turin evidence

I think Fr. Jonathan does a good job representing the Church on foxnews, where he is a regular contributor, but at least in this interview, I get confused when he says he has faith in the shroud, but that the shroud is not an element of faith. I know exactly what he means, but in a forum like foxnews, it is important to do our best to distinguish between private revelations and private faith versus the corporate faith of the Church in the original deposit of faith. I wouldn't be that good of doing it on tv in a short amount of time, but this interview is a little confusing for a marginal Catholic or a non-Catholic.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Divine Mercy Chaplet Novena recommended for Octave of Easter

Remember that John Paul II has instituted the 2nd Sunday of Easter, this year April 19th, as Divine Mercy Sunday. John Paul II died famously on the eve of this solemnity that he instituted in 2005. For information on how to pray the chaplet and for the intentions proper to this novena, click here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Crown of Thorns galaxy

Does this pic and story make the Hubble seem less expensive to anyone? Did NASA time this picture for Holy Week? Enjoy!

Let us pray!

Let us pray for the victims of the earthquake near L'Aquila, Italy in the Abruzzo region. I guess I didn't know or had forgotten how vulnerable Italy is to earthquakes. I was last there in October and am excited to go back there many times in the future on pilgrimage. Please pray for all those working in the recovery effort, and that the faith of those experiencing such great loss may help assuage their grief. Sorrowful Mary, who stood at the foot of the cross, pray for us!

Catholicism and Buddhism

I won't really comment here on the convergences and distinctions that emerge from Catholic-Buddhist dialogue, but I like how the Church uses the opportunity of Buddhist holy days not only to affirm the friendship we have with Buddhists, but also to 'preach the Gospel.' I have marveled how Pope Benedict XVI does this during his travels when he meets with leaders of other religions. He always affirms the value of other religions and thanks God for the friendship we share with them, but never in a way that relativizes the distinctive worldview of Catholicism. Rather, he uses ever opportunity to preach Jesus Christ and to introduce everyone to Him, who is the way the truth and the life. Text of today's statement here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Death of Father Charles P. Andalikiewicz

We were able as brother priests, probably 70 of us or so, to concelebrate the Mass of Christian burial with Archbishop Naumann today for Fr. Charles, a priest of 51 years of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. May he rest in peace. Fr. Charles was the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Louisburg, Kansas. His funeral Mass was at St. Joseph parish in Shawnee, where a number of his relatives live. Fr. Frank Krische, a good friend of Fr. Charles, gave the homily and shared some good stories about the times they had traveled together. Fr. Charles received special commendation for his work with the deaf community in the Archdiocese. He was 78 years old. Here is a picture immediately following the funeral Mass. Requiescat in pace!

Homily for Monday of Holy Week

Both . . . and. It is the usual Catholic answer to an apparent conflict, contradiction or paradox. Both . . . and.

Scripture or tradition?
Faith or works?
Contemplation or action?
Individual or communal?

The answer to all these questions is both . . . and. So too Jesus' answer to Judas in today's Gospel. Not either serving the poor or loving extravagantly, both both.

Jesus points out that Judas has no right to make the judgment that since Mary is anointing his feet, that she is necessarily unconcerned about the poor. The argument does not follow. Loving extravagantly and serving the poor is not an either, or dichotomy. Not in any way at all. If anything, Jesus points out that Mary's willingness to love Him without counting the cost makes it all the more likely that she will leave everything that she has to the poor, so that she may follow Him all the more closely. It is not an either, or scenario. It is both, and.

This Gospel highlights the virtue of human friendship. By all accounts, Mary, Martha and Lazarus were the best friends of Jesus. He loved just spending time with them, wasting time with them, without counting the cost, and the value he puts on their friendship does not waver in the face of the terrible mission that lies just before him in a matter of days. May this blessing of friendship, friendships within which we find the freedom to love extravagantly, help us always to give as the Lord commands us to give, without counting the cost! +m

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Preaching like the pope? I wish!

Here is what I wanted to say in a nutshell in my homily - but what took me eleven minutes takes the Pope about 30 seconds, and he says it much better. Thanks, Holy Father, for the lesson in faith, and the lesson in humility! By the way, would it be so hard for you to get your homilies up a week in advance or so? I know, I know, I can't get mine done that early and you have a bit more on your plate than me. Sorry for asking!

The pope then turned his consideration to the moments of "Jesus' fear," "his fear before the power of death, before the entire abyss of evil that He sees and into which he must descend." "We as well," Benedict XVI explained, "are able to pray in this way. We as well are able to complain before the Lord as Job did, to present to him all of our questions which, in the face of the injustice of the world and the difficulty of our own selves, emerge within us. Before Him, we must not take refuge in pious phrases, in a fictitious world. Praying always means fighting with God as well, and like Jacob we are able to say to Him: 'I will not let you go until you bless me' (Gen. 32:27)."

Mark your calendars! World Youth Day Madrid 2011

The summer of 2011 I'm going to do everything I can to make it to World Youth Day Madrid and to take as many pilgrims ages 16-35 that I can! Fresh off my experience from WYD Sydney, I follow with excitement today the transfer of the World Youth Day cross from the Sydney youth to the youth of Spain in St. Peter's square today! As a alum of Denver (93) Paris (97) and Sydney (08), and an alumnus of the International Youth Forum that precedes the World Youth Days, I am recommitted as a priest to give as many young people as I can the chance to experience the Church as I have experienced her and love her. Meeting John Paul II in Paris in 1997 made an indelible mark on my life and on my vocation! Another great thing about the World Youth Days being in Spain is the opportunity that many youth will take the make the pilgrimage walk of St. James to Compostela. A true pilgrimage walk that lasts 30 days, it can be the experience that your faith needs to solidify you for the long journey ahead that the Lord has marked out for you! Don't plan anything else for the summer of 2011 - keep it open! And save $$ now!

Homily for Palm Sunday 2009

Betrayal. It is all over Mark's account of the passion. It jumps out at us. Starting with Judas. Then the disciples - Peter, James and John - the very disciples that saw Jesus transfigured in glory on the mountain - could not stay awake with him even one hour. Then the disciples fled at the first sign of trial. Then the false testimony against Jesus. Then Peter's three denials. Then the mocking of the soldiers and chief priests, and even those crucified alongside Jesus. Betrayal. Lots of it.

Worst of all of course, worse than all these betrayals Jesus suffered at the hands of men put together, is the betrayal Jesus felt from His Heavenly Father. It is one thing to be betrayed by man. It is another to feel betrayed by God, who is all good and the source of all love. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. Do you notice that Jesus in these last moments feels so far away from God that He does not even call God His Father. In the garden, when his soul was already sorrowful unto death, Jesus still felt close enough to God to call God His Father. Abba - Daddy - Father - all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will. In the last moments, Jesus feels betrayed by His Father. In the Gospel of Mark, the betrayal Jesus felt stands alone. It is not tempered by words of mercy from the mouth of Jesus. Mark's account is stark. There are no words like 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.' No, Mark's account is haunting. It is full of betrayal.

Of all the evil that we suffer in this world, betrayal is the worst. Of all the evil we commit in this world, betrayal is the worst. Breaking a promise. Letting people down. Refusing to love. These are the things that hurt us the most. They are the things that hurt others the most. Betrayal. The sin that Jesus accused His own Father of has to be the worst sin of all. Betrayal. Taking someone's love, someone's heart, and throwing it away.

Betrayal steals a person's faith, hope and love. We have been betrayed and so we are more cautious. We betray others, and lose confidence in our willigness to love to the end. We project this betrayal onto God, which is understandable since Jesus Himself was dismayed by the pain of the world. We keep our distance from God, on the suspicion that He too may be part of the web of betrayal, that His promises are a ponzi scheme and so we need to keep a little cash under the mattress, away from God, just in case.

It is not shameful to doubt God. We all do it for a moment. To suspect Him of betrayal. The question even entered the soul of Jesus. Life is complicated and difficult. We are asked to do more, and to love more, than we think we can. We are not always ready for the next challenge to our faith that lies around the corner. Yet this natural doubting of God, wondering if He might forsake us, must not destroy us. Evil may damage our faith, as it even touched the faith of Jesus, who entered into the depths of forsakeness that God willing, none of us will ever know. Evil may damage our faith, but it must not take it away.

In this holy week, we have a choice of whether we will join Jesus where He is, on the cross, and so come through the cross to the glory of His resurrection. Jesus, the owner of all time, became man in order to accomplish this great hour of his passion, death and resurrection. It is God's promise through Jesus that all of us can place the many hours of our lives within the mystery of this holy hour, within the paschal mystery of Jesus. Through our celebration of Holy Week, we are invited to allow the power of this most holy hour the world has ever known, to come once again and swallow the haphazard circumstances of our crazy lives, and sort them out again, so that we may emerge from this most holy week of the year with some idea again of how God asks us to live with His Son, how to suffer with His Son, how to die with His Son, and how to rise with His Son to new and everlasting life! +m

Friday, April 3, 2009

Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations is Out!

Click here for the Holy Father's words for this year!

Commentary to follow later!

Kind of pricey - but new video out on death of JPII, Benedict XVI's election

Bill Self AP Coach of Year - Suprised? I am!

I wasn't expecting this today. I know he did a great job this year (and last!) but I didn't expect the voters to remember the Big XII regular season title and to weight it as much as they did. Congrats to Bill - I don't think he is going to get another raise this year, though - maybe just another bonus in his contract!

DETROIT – Bill Self, who led Kansas to the national championship last year and had the Jayhawks back in the title hunt this season, is The Associated Press' college basketball coach of the year.
Self, who was presented the award later Friday, lost all five starters from the team that beat Memphis in the championship game, leaving him to work with two veterans and eight newcomers.
The Jayhawks finished 27-8 and reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament, winning the Big 12 title for the fifth straight season.
Self has a 169-40 record in six seasons at Kansas and is 376-145 in 16 seasons as a head coach. He received 28 votes from the 71-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25, easily beating Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh, who had 10.

Obama, Notre Dame and the Vatican

Although I do not think Notre Dame should have invited President Obama to give its commencement address, and I express my support for the actions taken by many US Bishops, the CNS blog has an interesting point this morning on why the Vatican has not joined a number of U.S. Bishops, including the President of the USCCB, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, in voicing its displeasure. Remember in the last year in Italy, the Pope decided to decline an invitation to speak at Sapienza University, the public university of Rome, because of planned protests of his talk. The Vatican saw the intolerance showed by faculty and students of Sapienza as quite disrespectful of the Holy Father. Because the Vatican has not spoken on Obama's appearance at Notre Dame, there may be a stronger opinion there that his presence at Notre Dame does not compromise the Catholicity of the university. Just in case the two visits have a relation, this is food for thought.

Anti embryonic stem-cell medical opinion voiced in front of Oprah and Michael J. Fox - watch!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mass in memory of JPII today

On the fourth anniversary of his death, we pray that not only John Paul II rest in peace, safe from all that could harm him, but also, if indeed he has passed the gates of heaven, which I believe he has, that he might help us all by his powerful intercession to be a culture of life. May we not be afraid to live and to proclaim the Gospel! John Paul II, pray for us! Santo subito!

Priesthood and soccer

I just visited Conception Seminary College last weekend for their Encounter with God's call weekend, and I was reminded when I saw the new soccer pitch they are developing that they are the reigning seminary champs for soccer. I didn't start playing soccer until I went to seminary at St. Meinrad School of Theology. We had a team that played in a Hispanic league, and I just wanted the exercise, and we had a great field at St. Meinrad, so I joined and was surprised how much I liked it despite how bad I was at it. Soccer is not a sport you can pick up late in life, at least not very well. I thought of Chase Hilgenbrinck, now a seminarian for the Diocese of Peoria, last night when watching the US qualifying game highlights. I'm hoping to go to the World Cup in South Africa next April with a newly ordained priest for our Archdiocese. The lottery for World Cup tickets is April 15th - I usually don't play the lottery, but this is one that I like! Pray for Chase and for all seminarians, as he asks us to do in this video!

Great new video that summarizes religious life so well!

This is the best short video I have seen on religious life for women - it shows both the joy of the vocation and the theology of what it means to be a woman religious in the Church. This order is getting tons of vocations!

Holy Name Confessions

This morning I dropped by one of my favorite places, Holy Name parish on Southwest Boulevard in the Rosedale neighborhood of Kansas City, KS. It is a smaller parish where most of the school students are Hispanic. I get invited from time to time to stop by for a Mass, or as I did today, for school confessions. I would love any assignment as a priest that I was given by the Archbishop, but I found myself in the 15 seconds between confessions today sipping coffee and dreaming about being pastor at a place like Holy Name. It was 2 hours very well spent, just exercising my priestly ministry and thanking God for every new young person who walked into the confessional. What a beautiful life I have been given. And tonight - confessions for those candidates for full communion in the Catholic Church and then a spring break alternative reunion! Can't wait to see everyone from the Mexico trip! Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!