Sunday, May 31, 2009

Homily for Pentecost Sunday

To be Catholic is to evangelize. Let me say that again. To be Catholic is to evangelize. Evangelization is at the very heart of what it means to be Catholic.

Most of the time, Catholics are the worst at sharing their faith. We let our tradition speak for itself. We know the religious tradition we inherit is so great, there is no way we can know it all nor explain it all nor defend it all, so we let the tradition speak for itself. That is ok, because our tradition really is impressive. The legacy of faith left by the Church and handed on to us is impressive. It does speak for itself, provided that someone is looking for something like Catholicism. But as we also know, our Catholic tradition, as impressive as it is, as powerfully as it testifies to the truth of Jesus' Resurrection, can also be ignored. People are busy. People are subjective. There are lots of people not looking for the right religion, and those that are oftentimes do not end up joining the Church.

To be Catholic is to evangelize. I say it again. To be Catholic is to evangelize. To be Catholic is more than being attentive to the moral teaching of the Church, more than acknowledging the ministry of the Holy Father, more than knowing how to pray the Rosary and more than finding the courage to go to confession, as important as all of these things are. To be Catholic is to evangelize, to share our faith. To be Catholic is to accept a part in the mission of Christ to redeem the world and to bring it back into relationship with God our loving Father. To be Catholic is to find a way to share our faith with those who do not know Christ, and to bring them, however we can, into God's family the Church, the bride of Christ to whom He wishes to give His gift of eternal life.

More often, we know the stories of those friends and family who have left the Church. We know these stories more than we know the story of those that we have brought to the faith. People who have sponsored RCIA candidates for baptism or confirmation in the Church know what it is like to witness someone come to faith, and to enter into the Church. It is a most fulfilling ministry, always strengthening the faith of the sponsor more than the faith of the one receiving the Easter sacraments. I am convinced that the people who are actually growing stronger in their Catholic faith are those that are finding a way to share and to teach their faith. This is why evangelization is so central to the mission of the Church. The Church is only a sect, a cult, a scared group of gnostics, like the apostles were before the gift of the Holy Spirit, unless She finds a way to share the Gospel and to preach it to the world! If the Church is not sharing and teaching Her faith, she is losing Her faith, which is guaranteed Her by the Holy Spirit. We know on this great feast of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit that guarantees the holiness of the Church and the deposit of faith does not guarantee these things only in a defensive way. No, the Holy Spirit inspires the Church to score points, to play offense, to be aggressive, and so with us Her members. If we are not finding a way to teach or to share our faith, we are losing our faith. This is the difference, I am convinced, between KU students who grow in their faith while at KU, and become more certain of their Catholic identity in the midst of a culture that denigrates their faith, and those who slowly but surely lose their Catholic faith, casting aside the tremendous gift of faith that they have received. The difference is this. Some students witness to their faith, courageously calling upon and receiving the gifts of the Spirit, whereas some students only live the faith for themselves, and if they only do this, their faith cannot and will not survive.

I'll be the first to admit that sharing our faith is not easy. Opportunities are rare, and proselytism doesn't work. Yet we all must find a way to share the story of how we have come to know Christ and what difference He has made in our lives. We should all know our story of how we received the faith, and how Christ has personally touched our lives with His love and mercy, and set us free to be different, to be the people we deeply want to be. We should all be able to speak of our friendship with Christ, whenever given an opportunity, and be ready to share why we go to Church, and what membership in the Church is like! We should always be inviting others to come and see where Christ is staying in the Catholic Church. To be Catholic is to evangelize.

Archbishop Naumann has challenged us, by making evangelization one of the priorities of the Archdiocese, to do something to strengthen the tradition and legacy of the Church that we too often take for granted and let speak for itself. Pentecost is a time to reflect upon the sacrifices of many who have gone before us to hand down the tradition of our faith to us, and to imagine with the Holy Spirit how we will further that tradition. We are called on Pentecost not to just play defense, to just maintain the tradition of the Church. No we are called to add to it, to play offense, to be aggressive. To be Catholic is to evangelize. No apologies. No excuses.

The practice of our Catholic faith must be supported by the friendship we have with Christ in and through the Holy Spirit, who reminds us of everything Jesus did and said, and makes Him present to us so that we may be united with our Lord. If we are not sharing our faith with others, it is often because this intimate friendship with Christ has grown stale, or is being ignored. It is because we are writing our own autobiography without Christ, instead of being in conversation with Him, and writing our story together with Him. Through the great Solemnity of Pentecost, we ask to be open the the gifts of the Spirit and to recommit ourselves to deep and intimate prayer - to listening with the ears of our hearts and to seeing with the eyes of our hearts, confident that the Lord is with us and calls us His friends.

Finally, in finding ways to share our faith, we must be confident that we are not selling something to our friends and family that they may or may not need. We are not used car salesmen. No, we are selling something that is written at the most profound depths of the human heart. We are selling Christ, who fully reveals man to Himself, and completes the mystery of every human person. We trust in the Holy Spirit to write on the hearts of all people the truth and the mystery that we celebrate on this holy altar every Sunday, so that when we share our faith with people, we are not telling them what to do or what to believe, but inviting them to go deeper into the mystery of who they are and who they want to be, and sharing with them that through our friendship with Christ, we have been set free. That is why we are sent to proclaim the Gospel to every nation and language, because the truth of the Gospel is already written on their hearts, if only they have someone to tell them what is there! To be Catholic is to evangelize. No apologies. No excuses. +m

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Homily for 6th Sunday of Easter - Graduation at KU!

JMJ Homily for 6th Sunday of Easter 2009 AMDG
St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center
Graduation Mass

Friendship. Wherever we go in life, friendship shapes us more than anything. Of all the things we remember about high school, our friends are the most important. The same thing is true about college. For our graduates from KU today, friendship is what will endure. Many academic accomplishments will be celebrated today. Many things have been learned, minds freed, and skills mastered. The Rock Chalk graduates will be challenged, no doubt, in Memorial Stadium today, on a beautiful Easter Sunday blessed by the Lord, to go out and to bear fruit with what they have learned. They will be challenged to use what they have learned at the University to make a difference - to make the world a better place. We pray that they will. Yet no matter what happens to our graduates after they leave KU, whether they use the skills they learned at KU and build upon them, or whether life takes them in another direction altogether and they wonder why they ever learned calculus in the first place, the friendships they have made here will remain. Above all, the university is a community - a community of learners - it is a place of encounter with people you have never met before, people from whom you can learn. It is a place where friendships are born, friendships that should last well into the future, shaping our graduates as much as the classroom ever did. And this building of friendships is not something adjunct to the learning that is central to the mission of the University; to the contrary, it is something essential. For deeper than man's vocation to know is man's vocation to love. Man is made, beautifully so, not only to learn what he does not know but also to love, and as Jesus puts it, life reaches maturity and arrives at meaning when one gains the capacity to love, the capacity to lay down his life for his friends. This is why friendship is so essential on graduation Sunday; it represents the spiritual aspect of learning that intersects beautifully with scholarship. Friendship is the spiritual aspect of learning, for love, as we hear from St. John's letter, is in the end a spiritual reality; in the end, love is of God, and whoever loves is begotten by God.

Jesus reminds us his disciples through his farewell discourse that He intends to be our friend. He reminds his disciples of the essential components of true friendship, a friendship that goes beyond clicking a facebook icon or going to grab a beer and watching the game together. The essential qualities of friendship are simple - you must tell each other everything - a real friendship is free of secrets and betrayal; indeed, nothing destroys a friendship more quickly than secrecy and exclusion. The other quality of friendship is that you must do what your friends ask. Friendship has a cost. Indeed, friendship goes much deeper than simply liking the same things, or feeling attracted to one another. Friends do what their friends ask them to do; they respond to the needs of their friends. They love their friends, and so choose to always do what is good for their friends, without counting the cost, even to the point of laying down's their life for their friends. Jesus invites us to base our friendship with Him, and with each other, after the friendship that Jesus Himself has with His Father, a friendship in which Jesus is obedient to the will of his Father, without there ever being a suspicion that He is being treated as a slave. In the same way, our friendship with Christ begins with His choosing to love us without counting the cost, even to the point of death, but in turn, He is able to command us not as a master commands a slave, but as a friend commands a friend, to love one another as He has loved us.

Jesus chooses us for this friendship - this is the Christian mystery and the source of our vocation from God. Those who are seeking God do well, but those who are chosen by God to go out and to bear fruit that will remain do better. The quality of your Christian faith, dear graduates, will depend upon your choosing to allow Christ to 'choose you' rather than your continued discernment of whether or not you will choose Christ. The decision to allow yourself to be chosen is a decision to go out and to bear the fruit that God has chosen for you to bear, and to go perhaps even where you do not want to go, and to do things you never thought you would do, in obedience to the friendship you have with Christ, as an expression of the trust you have in His love for you. Do not be afraid of Christ or of His love - he takes nothing from you and offers you everything. Indeed, the plans that you have to go out and to be successful in the world, using the skills you have rightfully earned at a great cost through the University, must never obscure the spiritual vocation that you have deep within you, a call to give without counting the cost, a call to love as Christ has first loved you. As successful as you will all become in the world, and the many blessings you will enjoy because of the privileged education and degrees you have earned, for most of you, your greatest fruit of your lives, the fruit that will remain the longest, will come from your spiritual vocation to love, and to lay down your life for your friends. For many of you, this will mean the discernment and answering of a vocation to marriage; for others, it will involve receiving a supernatural invitation from Christ to be His bride as a religious sister or to marry His bride, the Church, as a priest. Finally, some others will receive a call to a special mission of love that can be best accomplished by remaining single. In all of these, the discernment of how Christ is calling you to love, and to bear spiritual fruit that testifies to the reality of God, who has first loved us, must always remain primary, and the answering of your vocation must never be delayed for superficial reasons.

In celebration of your many accomplishments, and in thanksgiving for the friendships you have made, and for the support of so many family members and friends who rejoice with you on this beautiful day of graduation, the Church sends you Her prayerful best wishes and asks that the gifts of the Holy Spirit be renewed and stirred up in you on your graduation day. Please remember the St. Lawrence Center and its mission to the University in your thoughts and prayers! Congratulations! +m

Friday, May 15, 2009

Royals watershed game

I won't be going out to the K tonight - it is a sellout and I don't have tickets, and we have an ordination rehearsal dinner anyhow which is way more important, but I will weigh in just a bit on tonight's game. After having lost 6 in a row, including a start where Greinke only gave up one run, tonight is a game when everything needs to work. We need to get out of this tailspin and whatver fog we are in and start playing confident baseball again. This feels like a watershed moment to me. I know it's not - at worst, we will be one game out of first at the end of the night. But I think given our history, we will lose a lot of confidence if this losing streak isn't stopped soon -like now! Go Greinke. Go Royals bats! I don't want to lose another season. Get is turned around!

Can this be true? More people pro-life?

I don't have time to read all the commentary and/or interpretation that comes with this new poll today, but the dramatic difference from a year ago is very encouraging, whatever it can be attributed to. I can't think of a single reason, but maybe a confluence of many circumstances. This should be very encouraging to anyone working in the pro-life movement. Keep praying and keep working! Alleluia!

Congrats to Scott Wallisch - new deacon for the Archdiocese!

Scott Wallisch will be ordained a transitional deacon (on the way to priesthood) for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas on Saturday, May 16th at 10:30am at St. Joseph Church in Shawnee, Kansas! Congratulations to this KU alum and good friend of mine! I had the privilege of knowing Scott through the St. Lawrence Center at KU and I actually had the chance to live with him for one year before I left for seminary, so I know firsthand the depth of his faith and his commitment to Christ and to the Church. As he celebrates the gift of Holy Orders from Christ Jesus and His Church, may Deacon Scott begin a long and fruitful ministry of service to the people of God! Pray for him! His official bio:

Scott Wallisch
Date of Birth: April 6, 1978
Parish: St. Lawrence Center, Lawrence
High School: St. Louis University High, St. Louis, MO
University: University of Kansas/BS Architectural Engineering and Architecture
Seminary: Mundelein Seminary
Years Seminary: Third Year Theology
Favorite Saint: St Anthony of Padua

My advice to men considering the priesthood: I would tell him that the key is to trust the Lord. If he is feeling a call to discern his vocation in the seminary, he should not be afraid of that call. If God is calling him to the priesthood, then he will find the beginning of his fulfillment in the seminary. If God isn't calling him to the priesthood, He will still bless the young man in the seminary and take care of him when he leaves. If you give time to God, He will always make it worth your while.

Why I want to be a Priest: Christ’s call to the priesthood is such a wonderful gift. He calls a priest to bring Himself physically to humanity. Though an enormous sacrifice, I believe that a call to His priesthood is a profound blessing. God has blessed me every day of my life, and there is no way that I could ever thank Him enough, but I can think of no other way to begin showing my gratitude more fully than through serving Him in His priesthood. I want to bring Christ to His people is such a real, concrete way, through the sacraments, through His Word, and through a total gift of self for others. Hobbies & Interests: Running, soccer, music, art and architecture

Influence: Msgr. Vince Krische, Fr. Mitchel Zimmerman, my parents.

Saint Meinrad New Video

In thanksgiving for the formation for the priesthood I received at Saint Meinrad School of Theology in southern Indiana, I post this video of their monastic life, and pledge my prayers for more vocations and for the health of the monastery. Sanctitate et scientia (Holiness through learning).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Venite et Videte retreat grades 6-8

thanks to the guys who came and prayed and had fun! Pray for Vocations!

Pope in the Holy Land

The Pope is doing very well in the Holy Land as expected. He does not have the star quality of John Paul, and both the Jewish people and Muslims have 'bones to pick' with the Holy Father, but his visit is going well. John Paul blazed a beautiful trail that Pope Benedict XVI can now follow, adding his own special gifts which are easier to share since John Paul laid the groundwork for numerous apostolic visits around the world. John Paul was adored by the Jewish people, and Pope Benedict will probably never achieve such popularity, but his track record outweighs the damage caused by the lifting of the excommunication of Bishop Williamson and others. Regarding the Church's relations with the Muslim world, the Pope was received very well in Jordan, made a pilgrimage to a mosque, and has shown that anyone who takes his comments at Regensburg to mean that the Church is ready to antagonize Muslim people is looking for a fight that Pope Benedict did not pick. Many prayers for a safe and fruitful apostolic journey for our Holy Father!

By the way, good PR move to celebrate a first communion while in the Easter season! The pictures are priceless!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Homily for 5th Sunday of Easter

JMJ Homily for 5th Sunday of Easter AMDG
St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center
Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us!

As Easter moves on, we graduate. In this KU graduation week, when another crop of thousands will break the threshhold of the campanile tower and walk down the hill, only to peel off and go on to parties instead of enduring another homily from a distinguished speaker, we too graduate through the Easter season. Last week we were sheep following the good shepherd. Good advice, to follow Jesus, rather than being foolish enough to try to follow ourselves. But of course, a bit unflattering. Considering ourselves to be sheep. This week we graduate. We are the branches. Granted, branches are not actually more intelligent than sheep, but at least they don't suffer from the reputation of being dirty and unintelligent. Branches are beautiful. Everybody likes branches. So we graduate this week. From sheep to branches.

Eventually, as we know well from celebrating the Easter season in past years, we will continue to graduate through Easter all the way to being chosen by Jesus to be His witnesses. We graduate all the way from being sheep followers to those Christ has chosen to remind the world of everything that He did and said. At Pentecost, the culmination of the Easter season, Jesus' disciples receive the Holy Spirit in all its fullness, as each one of us did at our Confirmation, and with these gifts of the Spirit comes the great commission that all of us receive, to go out and to baptize all the nations, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and to remind them of everything that Jesus did and said. And to remember, that Jesus is with us always, until the end of the world.

In Easter we graduate from those chosen to be disciples - sheep who follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, to those chosen by the Shepherd to be His apostles, those sent by Him to do greater works than He Himself did, by the power of His Spirit dwelling within us. This is what we celebrate during graduation season - we come to KU to learn, to be led, and we leave being sent out to do new things that have never been done before, armed with the knowledge and the gifts never before seen in history. Between these two extremes - being followers on one end and being evangelists on the other end, comes today's Gospel reminding us that we are to remain in Christ, as a branch remains with a vine. Whether we are following Christ, or being sent by Him, we are to remain in Him all the same. For He is the true vine, and we are the branches. No disciple is greater than His Master. A branch cannot bear fruit apart from the vine. But it is true that if that branch remains on the vine, that branch can go where the vine has not gone before. That is why Jesus tells us His disciples that as we graduate through the Easter season, we will do greater works than He did, and whatever we ask the Father, He will give us. Yes indeed, we are graduating quickly. Being a branch is different than being a sheep.

We begin by remembering that we will always be followers of Jesus. Apart from Him, we can do nothing, for without Him nothing would ever have come to be, for He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the one through whom and for whom all things were made. Without him we can do nothing.

We will always remain disciples, but as branches on the vine, we are also called to be apostles. Remaining in Christ gives us confidence that are not desperate - remaining in Christ reminds us that we have already received from Christ more than we could ever ask for or imagine. We begin with faith in Jesus' words that everything has been handed over to Him by His Father. Jesus has confidence that His Father will never withhold from Him anything that is good. Through faith in the one who died for us while we were yet sinners, we share in this confidence that through Christ we have received everything, in fact more than we could ever hope for or imagine. For eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned upon man, what God has prepared for those who love Him. Focused solidly not on what we lack, but what has already been accomplished in us, we celebrate with great joy during Easter our new dignity as God's adopted children. As God's children, we proclaim with confidence that because we are in Christ, through the grace of baptism, it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives within us. We remain in Him and He remains in us, and so we can say exactly what Christ says to His Father - that Father, you have handed over everything to us. And whatever we ask from the Father, He will give us.

With this great confidence and hope and joy, we graduate through the Easter season. We graduate from being sheep to being branches, from discipleship to apostleship. Because we are in Christ, both when we follow and when we are sent, we know we are able to bear abundant fruit that will remain, fruit that has never been produced before nor will ever be produced again. On this Mother's Day, we give thanks to almighty God for our mothers, for their vocation to love without counting the cost, and for the special work that God accomplishes through their generosity in bringing new children destined for eternal life into the world. Talk about bearing fruit that has never been produced before, nor will ever be produced again! Our mothers co-create with God in bringing about a new person who is made in the image and likeness of God, a new person with a destiny to live forever! May God bless all our Mothers abundantly on this day, and may He keep the vocation of motherhood special and strong in the future, protected by His mercy and grace, through the intercession of the Mother of God who does not have a Father, Mary most holy. +m

Monday, May 4, 2009

Man of Christ

New video produced by the college seminarians of Glennon seminary in suburban St. Louis. The video features heavily the comments of our own Kansas City, Kansas seminarian, Anthony Saiki. Enjoy! The advice of the college seminarians in simple. Be a real man. Don't be afraid. Try the priesthood of Jesus Christ.