Archive for the ‘Most recently preached homilies’ Category

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.

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10-11-09

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10-11-09

“We have given up everything and followed you” Peter said to the Lord Jesus.

To which Jesus replied “Peter, all that you have given up by following me – houses, relatives, children, land – you will receive a hundred times that in this life.”

When Peter decided to follow Jesus, as Jesus reminded him, he gave up houses – that dream of one day having a big expensive house to call his own.

In return, Jesus gave Peter a house a 100 times better, he gave Peter the Keys to the House of God, the Church.

When Peter decided to follow Jesus, he gave up relatives, gave up living the easy life with his brothers and sisters. He could have chose not to follow Jesus, and instead spent all his life lounging about with Andrew and the rest of his clan at the beach resort on the shores of Galilee. Instead, Peter gave up the easy life, and instead sacrificed much of his leisure time praying and learning about Jesus and working for the spread of the faith.

And because Peter gave up an easy life with his brothers and sisters, Jesus gave him 100 times as many brothers and sisters in Christ. And Jesus also made his relationship with his biological brothers and sisters such as his brother Andrew a 100 times better than it would have been had he not given up everything and followed after Jesus.

Peter gave up everything – even as Jesus mentions, his own children. Not that St. Peter disowned his children or gave them up for adoption, but rather Peter gave his children to Jesus, instead of pampering and spoiling them as he and his wife would have been inclined to do, Peter instead taught discipline to his children and raised them to know love and serve the Lord.

In doing so, Peter as a Dad received a hundredfold of blessings when he saw his children fully grown and fervently following Jesus according to he and his wife’s good example.

And finally, as Jesus mentions, Peter gave up lands or Kingdoms for the sake of Jesus. In Peter’s case, the lands he gave up were really seas. Peter in his fisherman days probably dreamed of one day having a fleet of fishing boats under him, he probably aspired to be the most successful fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, maybe of even doing deep sea fishing in the Mediterranean.

But Jesus had other plans, as the hymn goes, Jesus gazed into Peter’s eyes, and called his name, and all Peter had he left on the sand to follow Jesus, walking by faith he knew not where to.

And in return for the lands or seas Peter sacrificed, Jesus gave Peter the Ocean of Mankind to Sail in, Jesus made Peter the Chief Fisher of all Men.

And in exchange for his tiny boat, Jesus made Peter Captain of His Enormous New Ark which is the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the bark of Peter, which rides the stormy seas; and unlike the Titanic, God won’t ever allow this ship to sink, no matter how stormy it gets out there.

Lord, “We have given up everything and followed you.”

May you Lord Jesus be our one and only possession in this life. May we cling to nothing – no person, no place, no thing, no title, no position, no reputation – may we cling to nothing but you, that we may truly possess a hundredfold of all these things in this life, with blessed persecutions for being your disciples, and eternal life with our loved ones in the age to come.

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10/4/09 (Respect Life Sunday)

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10/4/09

st-francis

Photo of St. Francis and Wolf of Gubbio Picture

You are probably wondering what this enormous (60 inch X 40 inch) picture (shown above) is doing here in the sanctuary.

I recently acquired the picture from St. Francis House, the assisted living facility on Blackstone Street that had to be closed down by the Diocese this past week because of the stricter Rhode Island Fire Code in the aftermath of the Station Night Club Fire.

The picture was hanging up in one of the halls of St. Francis House, I have no idea how old it is, nuns moved into the building in the 1930s and perhaps it goes back that far.

In case you haven’t guessed, the man in the picture is St. Francis of Assisi, who’s Feast Day is today (October 4).

Tomorrow (Monday) at 1:15 p.m. I’ll be celebrating a special Mass with the school where I’ll bless the picture, and after that we’ll be hanging the picture on one of the walls in the school.

The picture depicts the very famous story of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio. The account can be read in a Book called “The Little Flowers of St. Francis” written 100 years after Francis’ death on October 3, 1224.

Story about how there was a “fearfully large and fierce” wolf living outside of the town of Gubbio Italy that was so hungry it began to eat humans who were walking out in the country. The story says that people were so afraid that they would carry weapons with them “as if they were going to war” – which is why the men in the background of the picture look like confederate soldiers.

St. Francis hearing of this went out to where the wolf lived. The wolf saw Francis coming and lunged towards him with his sharp teeth and claws ready to tear him to pieces and make lunch out of him.

But Francis stood there and made the Sign of the Cross over the Savage Wolf, and immediately the big wolf stopped running, lowered his head, and meekly walked over to Francis and laid down by his feet like a little lamb would do.

And Francis said to the Wolf “Brother Wolf, . . . . you have committed horrible crimes. . . .in killing and devouring human beings made in the image of God. You deserve to be put to death . . . . this whole town is your enemy. . . .but I want to make peace with you and the town”

And Francis told Brother Wolf that if he promised not to hurt any animals or humans any more, he would promise to make the people of the town feed Brother Wolf every day for as long as he lived, “for I know that whatever evil you have been doing was done because of . . . . hunger. Will you promise (and pledge) me that, Brother Wolf?”

Let’s shake on it! And as you see in the picture, the wolf put out his paw and shook on that promise. And the people of the town of Gubbio forgave the wolf of his former sins of killing their fellow townspeople, and for the rest of it’s life they fed and took care of the wolf, and when it grew old and died they built a shrine over its burial place which you can visit today. (In the late 1800s, excavations under the shrine unearthed a very large skull of a wolf with teeth intact.)

This story could not be more relevant to us today as we observe Respect Life Sunday.

For again, a “fearfully large and fierce” wolf prowls not around the village of Gubbio Italy, but around the city of Woonsocket, around the state of Rhode Island, around the country, around our Western World.

For decades now, this savage wolf has terrorized and devastated our Christian Culture.

This wolf has for the past 30 years torn millions of unborn children from their mother’s wombs, and has hindered and prevented millions more born children from growing up knowing loving and serving Jesus so that now our Church pews are empty of children and our Catholic schools are closing.

This wolf has also torn apart countless marriages through divorce, infidelity, and the sexual revolution.

And like the townspeople of Gubbio, our efforts to stop this wolf from harming our society have all been in vain, the wolf only gets bigger and fiercer with each passing year.

And that is a pity, because we like St. Francis have been given by Jesus the power to not only stop this wolf but tame it as well, by courageously standing up to the Wolf as Francis did, and by arming ourselves with the Sign of the Cross.

The Holy Cross of Christ has the power to transform the wolf into the lamb, the culture of death into a culture of life.

But while many of us Catholics know how to make the Sign of the Cross, few us of Catholics really pray the Sign of the Cross.

St. Francis prayed the Sign of the Cross as we can see in the picture with crucified hands, standing on two crucified feet, with a pierced and crucified heart – that kind of prayer and only that will tame the wolf.

And while St. Francis was given the visible stigmata by Jesus, all of us Catholics are called to bear the invisible stigmata – to have the Hands and Feet and Heart of Christ – totally dead to sin and evil, totally alive to Love and Good Works.

On this Respect Life Sunday, and during this Respect Life Month of October, may we ask Jesus to give us the grace to Crucify ourselves to the world, that the Sign we are sending to the Wolves who prowl about our culture and hold sway over it will be the Saving and Tranforming Sign of the Cross, which will tame that wolf and turn it into a Lamb who will lead the little children and their parents to Jesus the Good Shepherd.

Homily — 23rd Sunday OT B 9/6/9

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Homily — 23rd Sunday OT B 9/6/9

About a month ago I was visiting an old high school friend of mine, who is now married with two young children and living in the woods of Western Coventry.

He told me about how one day his kids were swimming in a pond at a day camp near his house; about 30 kids or so were in the water, when all of a sudden the life guard got out of his life guard chair, walked up to shore of the beach, and said in a calm, loud voice “All right boys and girls, everyone please swim over to this side of the pond right now, let’s go!”

All the kids on the right side of the pond swam over to the left side of the pond and kept on playing and swimming.

What the kids didn’t know was that the lifeguard had seen a big snapping turtle way out beyond the buoys, heading towards the right side of the shore. The turtle after a few minutes eventually swam off in another direction, and the kids went back to swimming on the right side of the pond, totally clueless as to what just happened.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a deaf man with a speech impediment.

Through the gift of speech, the lifeguard was able to lead those children away from danger.

And through the gift of hearing, the children were able to hear the lifeguard and swim to safety.

But the Church also sees in this miraculous healing a symbol of how Jesus heals the spiritual deafness and spiritual speech impediment every human being is born into this fallen world with.

From ancient times up unto our present day, whenever children or adults are baptized, what’s called the Ephphatha Rite is performed as part of the Baptism Ritual: the Priest touches the ears and the mouth of the baby or adult, just like Jesus touched the ears and mouth of the deaf man, and prays “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the mute speak, may he open your ears to receive His word and your mouth to proclaim His faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father”.

The grace of Baptism enables us to hear the voice of Jesus speaking to us, it enables us to speak without any impediments the saving Word of God to others.

But even after Baptism, we can grow deaf to the voice of God, and forget how to speak the heavenly language of love and truth, if we are not careful.

Lukewarmness in our prayer life and even small venial sins can create a kind of spiritual wax build up that will make it harder for us to hear Jesus speaking to us.

We need to get out the Q-Tip so to speak, clean out that dirty wax by a daily regimen of prayer. Notice how before Jesus heals the deaf man, the Gospel says Jesus first took (the man) off by himself away from the crowd. If we want to hear Jesus speak to us, we need to spend time each day alone with Him in prayer and spiritual reading.

And then, if we’ve done major damage to our eardrums by listening and giving into the lies of the devil, we’ll need to get spiritual ear surgery by making a good confession.

He who has ears, let him hear says the Lord.

And once we hear God speaking loud and clear, o r tongue will be loosened and we will be then able to speak clearly as well.

One spiritual author says this about how a follower of Christ is to speak. He says “We Christians cannot remain dumb when we must speak of God and transmit his message openly: Parents (must speak) to their children, teaching them their prayers and the basics of their faith from their infancy; a friend (must speak) to his friend (about Christ), when the opportune moment presents itself . . . .a . . . .worker (should speak) to his colleagues, offering them, by word and example, a cheerful model to imitate . . . . “

“ . . . . there are even moments in which it would be unnatural for a good Christian not to (speak) something supernatural: (as on the occasion of ) the death of a loved one (or) a visit to a sick person.”

And this author concludes by reminding us of our obligation to speak out in defense of the moral and doctrinal teachings of our faith when these teachings are belittled, misunderstood, or denied.

As we come before Jesus in the Eucharist today, may He touch us and say to us “Ephphatha! Be opened!”

Be opened and hear me saying to you how much I love you;

Be opened and hear me saying to you how much I have forgiven you;

Be opened and hear my voice, gently leading you away from harmful and sinful things, and towards good and virtuous things.

Be opened, and speak with your mouth my words of truth and love to others;

Be opened, my beloved, and then see how your words and actions will open the ears and mouths of the deaf and dumb in your midst.

Homily – 18th Sunday OT B 8/2/9

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Homily – 18th Sunday OT B 8/2/9

In the First Reading, we read the account of how God provided for His People as they journeyed through the desert to the Promised Land.

The Israelites had no sooner miraculously escaped death on the shores of the Red Sea, when they are suddenly confronted with another major crisis: they have no food, and they are in the middle of a barren desert.

But just as the Lord God delivered them from cruel slavery in Egypt, and just as He delivered them from Pharaoh’s armies at the Red Sea, so did God have a plan to deliver them from hunger in the desert.

For all Forty Years of their journey, God gave the Israelites a miraculous Bread to satisfy their hunger and give them the strength the journey on.

As the first reading says: In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.

On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another “Man hu?” (Man hu being Hebrew for “What is this?”). (They) asked one another “Man hu?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them “This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”

The Bible says that the Manna first appeared on a Sunday morning, and the Israelites first ate it on that day.

Every day of their journey, every able bodied Israelite was required to go out in the morning and collect only enough Manna for that day’s meals.

Whatever Manna was left on the ground would melt and disappear when the heat of the noon day sun hit it. The Manna left on the ground miraculously melted, but the Manna that was collected didn’t melt even when it was baked into bread in a hot oven, which was how the Israelites normally prepared it.

If the Israelites tried to collect extra Manna and stockpile it for future use, the next morning the Manna they stored would be miraculously rotten and worthless, because the LORD God strictly ordered the Israelites only to take enough for that day.

But while the Israelites were strictly forbidden to gather extra manna, their were two exceptions to this rule.

First, God did allow them to collect more than a day’s worth every Friday. On Fridays they were to collect two day’s worth, because on Saturdays, the manna would not appear as it was the day God commanded the Israelites to rest and do no work. On Saturday, the sabbath day, the day old Manna would not be rotten but was able to be eaten until the Manna reappeared every Sunday.

And the other exception was that God ordered Moses to take an omerful of Manna (which is about 8 cups worth) and place it in a golden urn for future generations to see it.

According to the Book of Exodus, Manna looked like tiny little white seeds about a half a centimeter in diameter.

Seeds that the Israelites baked into Bread. The Book of Wisdom Chapter 16 famously says “You Lord have given them Bread from Heaven, having all sweetness within it/Serving the desire of him who received it, and blended to whatever flavor each one wished”

In other words, the Manna miraculously tasted like whatever flavor you wanted it to taste like. If the Israelite eating the Manna wanted it to taste like chocolate, it tasted like chocolate. If they wanted it to taste like Lobster, it tasted like Lobster. Like Dynamites, it tasted like Dynamites!

Such miraculous food did the People of God eat every day for Forty Years as they journeyed to the Promised Land. And three days after they finally entered the Promised Land it was the feast of Passover, and Book of Joshua says On the. . . .day after the Passover on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. No longer was there manna for the Israelites, who that year ate of the bounty of the Promised Land.

Such was the Miraculous Manna which the People of the Old Covenant were Fed as they journeyed through the wilderness.

But in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the Old Manna given was just seeds compared to Him.

I am the Living Bread come down from Heaven.

Like the Israelites of old, Jesus miraculously appears each day on our altars to be the Spiritual Food that will keep us from Spiritual Starvation in this dry and barren world as we journey to the Promised Land of Heaven.

Each day each one of us must go and gather up some of this New Manna for our day’s journey. We pray in the Our Father “Give us this day our daily bread”

Maybe we can’t get to communion each day, but we still need to each day make a spiritual communion, asking Jesus to come to us in our prayer time, being fed by His Holy Word, the Bible.

Like the Manna of old, we can’t stockpile holiness, we need to pick up our Cross each day and follow Jesus.

And on the Lord’s Day, now Sunday, we rest before the Lord as He does the work for us and comes to us in Holy Communion.

And just as Moses reserved the Manna of Old in a Golden Urn, so the Church Reserves the Blessed Sacrament in a golden Tabernacle for the veneration of the faithful.

And the Eucharist, like the Manna of old, “serves the desire of him who received it, and (is) blended to whatever flavor each one wishes Whatever “flavor” of grace we are in need of – some virtue, a healing, graces for a loved one – Jesus will supply that when we eat of the New Manna, the Bread of Life.

And finally, when we reach Heaven, the promised land, at the end of our journey through the wilderness of this life, we will no longer eat the Bread of Life, we will instead see Jesus face to face.

So may we say to Jesus what the people in today’s Gospel said to him: Sir, give us this bread always!

May Jesus always give us this bread, and may we who eat of it live forever with him one day in Heaven.