Archive for the ‘sundays in ordinary time homilies’ Category

Homily 18th Sunday OT C 8-1-10

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Homily 18th Sunday OT C             8/1/10

Vanity of vanities, says Quoheleth,

Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity!”

The Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes is one long, extended meditation on how vain – in other words, how empty, how unsatisfying and how superficial – this world we live in is.

Quoheleth searches high and low in the world, and comes to the conclusion that “all things are vanity” and “vexation of spirit” or wearisome to the spirit of man.

Quoheleth first tries to escape from this emptiness in pleasures of the flesh, but after doing so, he found this even more empty, vain and unsatisfying. Then he tries to drink his emptiness away with wine and alcohol; neither does this satisfy him.

Then he tries to laugh away his emptiness with jokes and entertainment, but even this he finds unsatisfying and shallow, his spirit now more restless than ever.

So next, Quoheleth tries to find meaning in his work. He says “I undertook great works; I built myself houses and planted vineyards . . . . gardens and parks, I constructed reservoirs, and acquired servants to work under me, and became the richest and wisest person in all the land”

“But when I turned to all the works that my hands had wrought . . . . behold! All was vanity,” and “wearying to my spirit.”

Lastly, he tries to find satisfaction in science and learning, becoming the wisest man in all the land. But even the pursuit of knowledge left him just as empty and unsatisfied as an uneducated person.

And so Quoheleth sadly concludes that “There is nothing new under the Sun,” that everything under the Sun is old, and weary and unsatisfying. “Even the thing which people say ‘Wow, this is new and exciting’ has been done before, it’s the same old same old.”

And really, this inspired message of this Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes could not be more relevant in our time.

How many Quoheleth’s there are in our world today, how the Quoheleth mentality tempts the best of us, how many young, old, and middle aged men and women today are chasing after things of the world, even things good and virtuous in themselves, trying to find ultimate happiness, contentment, and satisfaction, and coming too late to the conclusion: “Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity!”

The Bible does not lie, the hard truth is, that all things in this fallen world, even legitimate pleasures, are vain and empty. The harsh reality is, that “there is nothing new under the sun,” nor will there ever be, but all remains old and tired and dull, for our world apart from God is fallen.

But while the Bad News of the is that there is nothing new under the Sun, the Good News of is that now, there is and forever will be something new above the Sun.

For high above the Sun, high above this vain and empty world of fleeting pleasures and lasting affliction, there now sits Our Lord Jesus on His Glorious Throne, still as young, and as strong, and as manly as ever for these past 2000 years.

And Jesus says to us here on earth, “behold, I make all things New for those who turn from the vanity of this world, embrace the Cross, and follow after me.”

And that’s not all that is “new” above the Sun. For standing at the Right Hand of Jesus, radiant in beauty, eternally youthful in Her glorified body and soul, is Mary, the ever Virgin, Queen of Peace, and full of graces which she showers down in abundance upon those who strive to follow Her Son.

St. Paul tells us therefore to “seek what is above . . . .not what is on earth. For in Baptism you have died to this world and it’s vain pleasures, and your life is now hidden with Christ.”

It is the great paradox of Christianity, which is as relevant today as it ever was, that the key to joy and fulfillment and happiness is to embrace a life of self-denial, of simplicity in our lifestyles, of a radical, counter-cultural chastity in body and mind, of an even more radical forgiveness towards one’s enemies, and of generosity to the poor.

And so, you and I must choose each day whether we will chase after Vanity, or follow the Way of Jesus.   If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

At every Mass, at the Preface before the Holy Holy, the priest says “Lift up your hearts” and the people respond “We lift them up to the Lord”

May the grace of the Holy Eucharist enable us to not harden, but truly lift up our hearts and minds and bodies high above this vain and unsatisfying world; may it enable us to die to this world, and live each day of our life in the Kingdom, by the power of the New, Eternally Youthful Holy Spirit of Jesus our Risen and Ascended Lord.

Homily – 17th Sunday OT C 7/25/10

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Homily – 17th Sunday OT C 7/25/10

The Importunate Neighbour by William Holman Hunt, 1895

Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel Ask and you will receive – Ask in prayer, and you will receive what you pray for.

This is one of those passages where we might be tempted to think the Bible is wrong.

Probably most if not all of us have asked God for things in prayer, and haven’t received them.

Sometimes it even seems like God’s sending us snakes and scorpions instead of the Fish and Eggs we ask Him for.

So what’s the problem? Why do we many times not seem to get what we pray for?

The problem is that Jesus didn’t say “Ask and you will receive, period.” There’s more to the sentence: What he said was “Ask and you will receive, Seek and you will find, Knock, and the door will be opened to you.”

Asking, Seeking and Knocking, are like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they are inseparable from each other when it comes to prayer.

In other words, Jesus says to us, “Ask for anything in prayer, and God will answer you – but you need to go seek God out to get it! He’s not going to bring it to you, He wants you to come get it from Him. Seek, and you will find. And the only way to God is through the narrow gate, and up the narrow road.

And once we have finished this seeking, once we’ve got off the wide road that leads to destruction and climbed up that narrow path of holiness which leads to life, even after all that seeking, then we have to knock on God’s door to please come out and give us the answer to our prayer. And nine times out of ten, God won’t open the door on the first or second knock.

Then and only then, will we obtain from our Heavenly Father what we have prayed for, and we will appreciate it all the more because of the effort it took to get it.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, prayer isn’t as simple and easy as it looks. To become a master at prayer, to pray effectively, takes great effort on our part.

Take a close look at the parable Jesus gives us on prayer.

This man goes out at midnight, not to the neighbor next door, but miles away to his friends house to ask His friend to help him.

And back in Jesus’ day, the man wouldn’t have just hopped in his car, drove down a paved road all lit up with street lights, and got there in a couple of minutes.

This man would have rather set out on foot, in the dark, down dirt roads and paths, with only a lantern to light his way.

He would have to be concerned about bad weather, biting insects, wild animals, and thieves as he made his way in the night to his friends house.

But the man in the parable willingly made that difficult journey, and didn’t turn back, because one, he cared greatly for his needy friend and would do anything for him, and two, the man knew that the friend he was journeying to would give him the help that nobody else could give.

Jesus is teaching us in this parable that to pray well takes the same love for others, the same faith in God’s power to answer our prayers, the same sacrifice of time and comfort, the same courage to turn away from sin and to seek the dark narrow way of holiness which leads to God, the same persistence in knocking on God’s door until He answers us.

Through this Holy Eucharist may Our Lord give us the grace to keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking, until God throws the door wide open and pours out His Holy Spirit in abundance upon us and those we pray for.

Homily – 2nd Sunday OT C 1/17/10

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Homily – 2nd Sunday OT C 1/17/10

Marriage at Cana, by Bernat Martorell (15th C.)

Marriage at Cana, by Bernat Martorell (15th C.)

Four years ago, in 2006, scientists and government leaders began to get very concerned when honeybees began to start mysteriously disappearing in large numbers in our country.

Hundreds of thousands of beehives across America would be thriving and healthy one day, and the next day all the bees were nowhere to be found.

By 2008, one out of every three beehives in the United States had been destroyed, in what is now referred to as “colony collapse disorder,” the cause of which is still undetermined.

Now, you might say to yourself “No Big Deal, I don’t eat much honey anyway, and there’s always sugar if the bees go the way of the dinosaur and dodo bird.”

But it is a Big Deal if all the bees disappear, a very, very very Big Deal.

Because if all the honeybees in America disappear, we would have a nation-wide disaster on our hands that would make the Haitian earthquake look like a picnic.

Because while the bee doesn’t seem very significant compared to other problems our world faces, in reality, the survival of the human race is totally dependent on the survival of the honeybee.

There is a famous quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, that says: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

The good news in all this is that last year, only a very small percentage of beehives experienced colony collapse disorder compared to the large numbers in the previous three years, so hopefully that’s the end of that.

I bring up all this, because in recent years a similar and equally serious phenomenon has taken place in our Catholic Church.  But instead of Bees disappearing, we have priests disappearing.

Just a few decades ago, even the smallest Churches in America had 2, even 3 full time priests ministering in them.

U.S. Seminaries in every major city were filled to capacity with young Catholic men studying for the priesthood.

Today however, Parishes are lucky if they have one full time priest all to themselves, and the big seminaries of old look as empty as a beehive which has suffered colony collapse disorder.

And if you read last week’s bulletin insert, it said that in 15 years, half of the priests currently active in our diocese will have retired or be eligible for retirement. And we currently are in no way ordaining enough priests each year to replace these retiring priests.

And this my brothers and sisters is a very serious problem, for the local Church is as dependent upon priests for it’s survival as humans are dependent upon bees for their survival.

No more priests, no more Eucharist, no more grace, no more Church, no more mercy, no more salvation.

As St. Padre Pio once said, “It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!”

The hopeful news, however, is that we can, if we want to, easily stop priests from disappearing.

Mary says to us in today’s Gospel “Do whatever (My Son) tells you” And Jesus tells us clearly in Scripture that when priests start disappearing, you and I just need to Pray, and God will turn some of the young men in our parish into priests, just as Jesus turned water into wine at Cana.

The Harvest is abundant,” Jesus says in Luke’s Gospel “but the workers are few, therefore pray to the Master of the Harvest to send out workers to His Harvest.”

As I mentioned last week in my homily and in the bulletin, our parish is having “24-Hours of Prayer and Adoration for Priests and for Vocations to the Priesthood from our Woonsocket Parishes” which will be held at our parish from 4 p.m. Friday February 5 and end 4 p.m. Saturday February 6.

This weekend, I’m asking every parishioner at Mass to make an offering of at least 15 minutes of their time to come to Church during that 24 hour period, to come to Church and pray for priests and for vocations.

In your pews, you’ll find a “prayer pledge card”.  If you could take a moment to fill this out. . . .Once you’ve filled the pledge card out, please put the completed form in the collection basket with your budget today.

Thank you for your patience in filling this out, and for your commitment to pray for vocations.

Jesus didn’t allow the the Wine to disappear on the good Bride and Groom who invited Him to their wedding, and neither will He allow the priests to disappear on us good Catholic who pray fervently to him for vocations.

And while He’s at it, may Jesus keep those Honey Bees from disappearing again on us as well!

Homily — 30th Sun. OT 80th Anniversary Weekend 10/25/09

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Homily — 30th Sun. OT 80th Anniversary Weekend 10/25/09

original-church-1929

Original Church 1929

current-church-19292

Current Church 2009

The Lord has done great things for us,

We are filled with joy!

Today’s first reading and psalm speak of the joy the Israelites had when they were able to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem after the Exile.

Even Jeremiah, usually a pretty grim, doom and gloom prophet, is bursting with happiness at seeing God’s Temple go up, as he says in the first reading: Thus says the LORD: Shout with joy, proclaim your praise and say “The LORD has delivered His people!” Behold, (now) I (the LORD) will gather them . . . . the blind and the lame, mothers and those with child, an immense throng.

(Now) I will console and guide them, I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road so that none (of them) shall stumble.

Today’s readings are most appropriate for us, as we rejoice, as we celebrate this weekend the 80th Anniversary of the building of this Temple of God, St. Joseph Church Woonsocket.

The story of the birth of our parish goes back to the mid 1920′s. Our wonderful parish historian, Raymond Bacon, has for over 30 years chronicled our parish history, and as the current Pastor I’d like to take the opportunity to thank him for his excellent work, just a little of which I will share with you in this homily.

In the late 1920s, this area of East Woonsocket was rapidly changing from a rural farmland to a populace suburb. The population of Woonsocket had doubled since the turn of the century, and St. Anne’s Parish which then included East Woonsocket was bursting at the seams.

In July of 1926, at the request of East Woonsocketers who felt a strong need for a parish in their growing corner of the city, the Bishop of Providence, Bishop Hickey, purchased 6 acres of land from Elmer and Edwin Jillson, which is the present site of St. Joseph Parish. The cost of the whole 6 acres: $23,000 – less money than it cost to repair our steeple this past summer!

Two and a half years later, the Bishop gave permission for a new parish to be founded. The Reverend Joseph F. Dumont, a curate at St. Anne’s, was appointed Pastor of the still unbuilt parish on Friday, July 12, 1929.

But Fr. Dumont wasted no time getting things moving. As Ray Bacon tells it in his history: “On Tuesday afternoon, July 16, work was begun on the new Church. As if inspired by their patron saint, some fifty men, under the direction of Mr. Aime Lefebvre, gave of their time, their talent and their labor, and successfully completed the Church in time for the following Sunday, July 21 1929.”

“The original structure was 80 feet long, 30 feet wide, and had a seating capacity of some 500 people” (And I’m happy to say, we continue to this day to be blessed with people in the parish who work hard in that same spirit of sacrifice – the building committee, food cupboard workers, bingo volunteers, liturgy committee, 50/50 Club, choir, and so many others)

On that Sunday, July 21, 1929, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated for the very first time at St. Joseph’s Parish, and Jesus our Lord took up residence in the Tabernacle, where He has happily lived for the past 80 years.

The Lord has done great things for us

We are filled with Joy!

Filled with Joy, over the thousands of people who were born again of water and the Holy Spirit from this Baptismal Font.

Filled with Joy for the many holy vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life and married life that have been nurtured from our parish.

Filled with Joy that over these past 80 years, countless men and women have been nourished with the Eucharist, reconciled to God through the Sacrament of Penance, healed and consoled by Jesus through the anointing of the sick, and honored with Christian burial when their earthly pilgrimage ended, all here at our parish.

Filled with Joy, that 80 years later, in 2009 we now worship God in this beautifully renovated Church building (with one of the best Steeples in Woonsocket!); and our Catholic School and Public School children are getting taught the faith in a equally impressive, solidly built school building.

But the greatest thing by far the LORD has done for us, my brothers and sisters, the thing we are most filled with joy about, is that the Faith our ancestors built this parish upon remains strong in the hearts of those who come to Mass here each week.

Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, the Foster Son of St. Joseph, continues to be the Lord of our Hearts,

Jesus Christ continues to be made known through the lives of so many faith filled parishioners.

May St. Joseph our Patron, and Mary his Immaculate Spouse continue to shower these blessings from their Son down on us, as we celebrate this weekend, and for many many years to come.

Homily — 29th Sunday OT B World Mission Sunday 10/18/9

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Homily — 29th Sunday OT B World Mission Sunday 10/18/9

The Universal Church celebrates this Sunday “World Mission Sunday,” a Sunday when we focus on our call as a Church to be Missionary, to spread the faith to the ends of the earth.

And while we are certainly to support the foreign missions to the Church in non-Christian lands, by our prayers and our financial support to today’s Second Collection, we also need to be mindful of the mission lands found right here in Woonsocket, in the neighborhoods we live in, in the places we work or go to school in – those people right around us that have yet to respond to the Gospel message, or have need of hearing it afresh.

At the end of every Mass, the priest (turns to the people and) says “Ite, Missa Est.” This could be loosely translated as “Go, you are missioned – you have your Mission from God this week.”

For we are sent from the Real Presence of Jesus here at this Church, back into the world, with the very important Mission to bring His saving love to all we come in contact with.

I’d like to take the opportunity this World Mission Sunday to let everyone know about a major Missionary Effort our own Diocese of Providence will soon be undertaking – a mission to bring back Catholics in our Diocese who have fallen away from the faith.

Bishop Tobin has announced that beginning this Advent, the Diocese will embark on a “Year of Evangelization.”

Throughout the months of December 2009 and January 2010, the Diocese will be airing, on prime time Television, three Television Ads created by a group called Catholics Come Home. An anonymous donor gave the Diocese the $200,000.00 needed to air these ads. If you go to www.catholicscomehome.org, you can watch them on line.

The ads are geared towards Catholics who have either left the Church, or have stopped practicing the faith. They are very professionally done and in my opinion are pretty powerful, especially the first one which simply shows who the Catholic Church is, what we’ve done and continue to do, and then invites the viewer to join us.

The Diocese of Phoenix Arizona ran these same ads in Lent of 2008, and seven months later they found that 92,000 more people were attending Mass than the year before, which was a 12% increase in weekend Mass attendance throughout the Diocese. (At St. Joseph’s, we have about 1000 people come to Mass each weekend. It would be great if a year from now, 100 more people were coming to our parish for Mass, if next year, 37% of RI Catholics instead of 25% were practicing their faith!)

The Diocese has already started getting ready, and is asking all parishes and their parishioners to get ready for these ads. People you work with or live next door to might say to you in a month or so “Hey, you go to Church, don’t you? I’m thinking of going back.” You will need to be a missionary to them, inviting them Home to the Catholic Church.

To help you do this, one thing our parish has already done for this Year of Evangelization. When we were making the 80th Anniversary Photo Directory last Spring, if you had so many people get their picture taken, not only was the Directory Free for us and them, but we were able to also get, free of charge, 1000 full color parish brochures inviting people to join our parish, with photos of different parish groups and events.

Once these TV ads begin, I’ll be putting some in the pews for people to take home and give them out if they’d like.

And so, as we celebrate World Mission Sunday, let us pray that we will imitate Jesus our Lord, who was sent by God the Father, not to be served by those He was sent to, but to serve them by sharing in their sufferings and by sharing the Gospel with them.

May we imitate Jesus, whose Mission was to give generously of His life, that many would have the fullness of life.