Archive for the ‘Holy Day Homilies’ Category

Homily – Trinity Sunday MMXII 6/3/12

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

 

Homily – Trinity Sunday MMXII 6/3/12

 

In the name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

That is my homily today, in a nutshell.

That is also our whole Catholic Faith, in a nutshell.

Most of us probably make and say the sign of the cross without really thinking about it much when we do it. But that most basic of Christian prayers and gestures is really a whole catechism class on what we believe about the Most Blessed and Holy Trinity, whose Solemnity the Church celebrates today.

So let’s break open this little nutshell and meditate on just a little of what’s packed inside it.

We begin that prayer “In the name of the Father” and we put our two fingers and thumb to our forehead as we say the Father’s Name.

We touch our forehead, because you and I have been created in the image and likeness of God the Father. God has blessed us with the gifts of intellect and free will, the ability to reason and to freely choose the good and reject the bad.

Touching our forehead reminds us of our human dignity of being made in the image of God, but it also reminds us that God the Father is the First Person of the Holy Trinity, and that the Son and the Holy Spirit both eternally proceed from Him.

Lastly, touching the highest part of our body reminds us that one day we will rise up to the heights of Heaven, which Jesus calls The Father’s House, and that Our Heavenly Father is always looking down lovingly on us His children, raining many heavenly graces and blessings down upon our heads each day.

The prayer continues “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son” as we make a straight line with our two fingers from our foreheads straight down to our waist area.

This vertical, downward action reminds us that God the Father sent His only Son into our world, that God the Son came down from Heaven to Earth to show us the way which leads back up to Heaven.

This action also reminds us of how God’s Son Jesus lowered Himself even further, to the point of suffering the agony of the Cross, and that the Son even went down among the dead, even into the deepest depths of hell, to lead every human person who chooses to follow him from those depths of sin and death up to the heights of righteousness and eternal life.

At the name of the Son, we touch the lower extremities of our body, near those parts of our body that human life is begotten from. This reminds us that God’s eternally begotten Son took human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary and became man.

We also touch near our belly button, which used to have an umbilical cord attached to it. Just as the umbilical cord is a lifeline between a child and its mother, so Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the lifeline between us and God. No one comes to the Father except through me, says Jesus. Jesus is our umbilical cord, we enter into the mystery and eternal life of the Holy Trinity only through Him.

The Prayer concludes “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and we raise our hand up, to symbolize our rising up from sin and death with Christ the Son.

But we don’t end by going back to our head, because Jesus doesn’t immediately bring us back to the Father’s House, rather Jesus puts us right back in the middle of the world, to be His witnesses, filled with His Holy Spirit. And so we end with the Horizontal line across our shoulders, to symbolize our mission in this world as disciples of Christ.

When we say the words “Holy Spirit” we first touch our heart, for the Holy Spirit is the Flaming Love of God poured forth into our Hearts.

We also touch in between our head and our waist because The Holy Spirit is the eternal Love between the Father and the Son, a Love so strong that it comes forth as a Third Person equal in power and divinity to the Father and the Son that it proceeds from.

And so, my brothers and sisters in Christ, every time we pray this most simple but most profound of prayers,we ask that this Most Holy Trinity, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, would bless and protect us,we ask that all our thoughts and deeds would be done in their thrice holy names, and finally, when we make the Sign of the Cross, we pray that all the Crosses we bear in our bodies and our souls will be lightened by our firm faith that in the Crosses of life, there and especially there can be found the powerful love of God the Father, the saving grace of Jesus the Son, and the sweet communion of the Holy Spirit.

Homily – Easter MMXII 4/8/12

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

 Homily – Easter MMXII 4/8/12

Well, I tried real hard at the beginning of Mass not to put the microphone into the Easter Fire when I was done using it, and thankfully I didn’t! (You had to be at one of last week’s Palm Sunday Masses to get that joke).

Actually, what I was really worried about was getting through the Exultet, that long, 1500 year old Easter proclamation I sang at the beginning of Mass, without passing out. There’s a whole new translation of it, and I just got around to really practicing it today, and I kept getting out of breath singing it all the way through.

Most Catholics either love the Easter Vigil, or else they find it, shall we say, lacking in brevity. But there are some of us who really love it and think its the best Mass of the whole year.

And those of you who attend each year might have noticed something new about the Easter Proclamation besides that it is a new translation. Namely, that there are bees in it!

After 40 years of being lost in the 1970s English translation of the original 6th Century Latin text, the bees are back in the Exultet, and are happily buzzing around English speaking churches throughout the world tonight.

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,

accept this candle, a solemn offering,

the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,

an evening sacrifice of praise,

this gift from your most holy Church . . .

(whose) light . . . is fed by melting wax,

drawn out by mother bees

to build a torch so precious.

You may or may not know this, but church law requires that this Easter Candle and all Candles used at Mass be at least 51% beeswax.

So tonight I thought I’d give you all a little talk on the bees. Not on the birds and the bees, not tonight at least! Just on bees.

The Fathers of the Church used to say that the Church is like a colony of honey bees.

I found a neat website called “Buzz about Bees” and here’s what it says:

“Honey bees live in very large, well organized colonies, (average hive has 50,000 bees). . . The colony functions as a single unit, with workers assigned ‘tasks’ or duties that ideally will help the colony to be successful.

“This efficient organization is vital – at any time there may be thousands of mouths to feed and eggs to tend to, as well as predators to fight off, all on top of general ‘house-keeping’ tasks!”

And in some ways, the Church as a whole is like a bee colony, and each parish is also like one. Just as every little bee in the hive matters for the good of the whole, so every one of us matters in the Church, in our parish, for the well being of one another.

And the Church, like the bee colony, has a lot of work to be done. We have thousands of hungry mouths to feed, the poor, the hungry, the uneducated, those who don’t know Jesus.

The Church also like those bees has predators to fend off – the world, the flesh and the devil, temptation and sin, which constantly threatens the well being of the Church.

All the worker bees in the colony work hard and go from flower to flower in order to make honey and beeswax, which they make to store the honey in for the winter.

And in some ways, this Big Easter Candle is a symbol of all the toil and efforts, all the hard work and prayers and struggles and crosses of each parishioner at St. Joseph’s parish over the past years.

Tonight, the Church on earth, and our Parish of St. Joseph in particular, offers to God the fruits of our labors for Him, we offer to God everything we have, all the faith, hope and love we’ve been able to bring forth throughout the year – we all kind of symbolically take all the wax we’ve all made, and pour it into this Candle, and say as we just did,

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,

accept this candle, a solemn offering,

the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,

this gift from your . . . .Church . . .

We give to God tonight, this lump of wax which represents our lives, our humanness.

And in turn, God our loving Father tonight gives us the Flame.

The Resurrection of Christ lights up the darkness of our lives on earth with the Brilliant Faith that Jesus is Risen, that for the believer in Christ, there is always Hope, that Christ’s Love is stronger than death,

that no matter what happens in this life, Jesus is with us and He will bring us through every Cross and Dark Valley to New Life and Love.

My brothers and sisters in Christ! God hasn’t made us to be lone ranger bees, but Honey Bees, depending upon one another, working and praying together, called to be one in Christ and in His Holy Church.

Each one of us is singular, unique and unrepeatable, each one of us has special gifts to share. Our world today emphasizes diversity and individualism, and that is good, but this needs to be balanced with a greater sense of community.

May God bless all the bees of St. Joseph Parish this Easter Season with Resurrection Faith, and may the Risen Lord Light up the Way for us which leads to Peace, Happiness, and Love.

Homily – Holy Thursday MMXII 4/5/12

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

 

Homily – Holy Thursday MMXII 4/5/12

 He loved his own in the world,

 and He loved them, to the end;

 He loved them, to the extreme;

 He loved them, to the depths.

 I give you a new commandment,

 Love one another

 as I have loved you.

 Ubi Caritas

 Where true love is found,

God is present there.

 We recline at Table tonight with Jesus

 at the Agapé banquet,

at the Love Feast.

 

Here it is that we learn from the Master and Teacher, first how to receive love, how to be loved; and second, how to give love, how to be love.

The Eucharist teaches us and enables us, first to be loved, and then to love.

 But what is love? Do I, do you, does anyone really know what Love is?

Probably not. This life is really all about learning more and more fully what Love is all about, and when, after years of trial and error, God sees that we’ve finally learned what love’s all about – or, God forbid, that we will never chose to learn from Him what its all about, then He takes the breath of life away from us and brings us to eternal life, where we will then fully know what love is all about.

 I’ve been thinking and praying a lot lately about Love. CS Lewis wrote a great book on the subject that I read this past year.

He says that the ancient Greeks and Romans spoke of Three Kinds of Love that every human being naturally experiences.

 The first love is called Storge or Affection – which is family love, the love of parents for children and children for parents, the love of siblings for one one another, the love of grandparents for grandchildren, aunts and uncles for nieces and nephews, etc.

The second natural love is called Philios or Friendship – what we men call our band of brothers, our buddies, our gum-bas. I don’t know what you women call your friends!

And the third natural love is called Eros – that crazy, all consuming, terrifying, fickle, frustrating, god-like love that occurs when one “falls in love” with another. Lewis says that while friends walk side by side, looking at a common goal or interest, lovers face each other and look into each others eyes.

 All three natural loves are part of our human experience, part of what love is all about. But CS Lewis’ book is called the Four Loves. There is a forth love, not a natural but a supernatural love, called in the New Testament Agapé, or in Latin Caritas, Charity, and that is God’s Love.

God’s Love, Agapé, governs and guides the other three loves. When we put God’s love over our family, friends, romances, we will then appreciate them to the fullest, we will have the best possible family relations, the best possible friendships, the best possible romances.

But when we don’t let Agapé rule over our natural loves, our family relations, our friendships, our romances can become strained, unhealthy, disfunctional, manipulative.

 St. Paul tells us that the Agapé of God, the Love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Its Agapé, Divine Love, that enables us to love God above all other natural loves in our lives. This is dramatically seen in the lives of the saints who sacrifice one or more of the three natural loves for the sake of Divine Love.

For example, St. Thomas More greatly loved his wife and four grown children, and was very good friends with King Henry VIII, but the love of God drove him to give his life rather than renounce his Catholic Faith.

 St. Augustine loved passionately the girlfriend he was living with for many years, but the love of God drove him to ultimately embrace Holy Purity and break things off with her.

 It is this same Agapé that will enable each of us to love our enemies, to forgive those who hurt us, and to see the face of Christ in the least of our brothers and sisters, the poor and oppressed.

It is Agapé that causes a young man or woman to renounce marriage and children and give themselves totally to God as a priest or religious sister.

Finally, it is Agapé that enables us to ultimately let go of this life and our loved ones here, and let God take us and our loved ones to the next life, knowing that the love of God will gather us together again in the joy of His Kingdom of Heaven.

 My brothers and sisters in Christ! I dwell on Agape, Charity, God’s Love, tonight, because here in the Eucharist is where we receive this Love. The Eucharist is the source of God’s Love, and the summit of God’s Love.

 Tonight we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist, and the institution of the Priesthood.

 The priest is called to the awesome task of making present God’s Love, and ministering this love of God to the people He is called to serve.

 I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jesus for calling me to be a priest; for using me to bring people closer to Him. Please pray for me, and for Fr. Marcin and all priests, that we would always be faithful to our calling and that our ministry would be fruitful.

I’d like to also take this opportunity to share with you some news. Today I got a letter from Bishop Tobin informing me that our parish will once again be getting a Transitional Deacon for the summer!

 We welcome this summer Thomas Woodhouse, who is a 3rd year seminarian at Blessed Pope John XXIII Seminary in Boston. Thomas is from St. Paul’s Parish in Cranston, and is what they call a late vocation seminarian (I’m not sure if he’s older than I am or not, but he’s no kid like Deacon Frank was last year!).

He will be ordained a Deacon Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM at St. Luke’s church, Barrington, and I hope to have him start his 10 week assignment soon after that so he can visit the school before it gets out for the summer.

Next June 2013 he will be ordained a priest, God willing. So keep Thomas Woodhouse in your prayers and give him a warm welcome which I know you all will when he comes.

The Eucharist and the Ministerial Priesthood are gifts Jesus gives us this Night, so that you and I would always know how much Jesus loves us, and so that you and I would be able to love others as Jesus did.

May Christ, truly present to us in the Eucharist, bless our families, our friends, and our lovers, may He save them all, and forgive them their trangressions, and bless them with many many graces, and may Agapé, the love of Christ, reign over all our loves, purify them and by His Holy Cross and Resurrection give them back to us at the end of our lives, that we all may love one another with a perfect love, for ever and ever in the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.

 

Homily – Easter Sunday MMX 4/4/10

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Homily – Easter Sunday MMX 4/4/10

That first Easter Sunday morning, the Three Holy Women went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared as St. Luke’s Gospel tells us.

These women were planning to sprinkle these sweet-smelling spices on and around the body of their Lord Jesus, which had been laying dead in that damp and musty tomb for three days.

And it could very well be that the women came up with the idea themselves, but it could also be that Peter and the other Apostles asked them to do this, maybe even ordered them to go to the tomb first thing that morning.

Perhaps that First Easter Sunday morning the Apostles planned on giving Jesus a better burial than the rush job that they gave Him late Good Friday afternoon, when the disciples had to hurry things up because sunset began the strict sabbath rest they had to observe as Jews.

Perhaps that first Easter Sunday, the disciples were hoping to take Jesus’ body out of the tomb and lay Him out in the Garden, like an outdoor wake, and reminisce about the Good Old Days that were now gone forever as they gathered around the Body of Jesus that was newly spiced up by the Holy Women

But instead, the women on entering the empty tomb found it to be filled with the most Heavenly Fragrance, a Fragrance so fair that all other smells paled in comparison.

The smell of Resurrection filled that early morning air.

And the women breathed it in, and then threw down their earthly spices and ran faster and lighter than they ever ran in their life back to the Apostles and said “The Funeral’s Off!”

And Peter and John smelled it on the women’s clothes, and then they ran faster and lighter than ever to the tomb, breathed it all in, and believed.

And this Easter Day, my brothers and sisters in Christ, the smell of Resurrection once again permeates the Air.

Jesus Christ, who was Crucified and Buried by the powers of this world is not dead, His Body needs no “spicing up” in our world today,

no, the Body of Christ is as alive and full of power and glory in our world today as it was the Day He Rose Victoriously from the Grave.

Let us this Easter Season leave the stale polluted air of this fallen world behind, and step out into the Fresh Air of Resurrection Faith.

Homily – Good Friday MMX 4/2/10

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Homily – Good Friday MMX 4/2/10

Pawtuxet River 11 ft above flood stage 3/31/10

Pawtuxet River 11 ft above flood stage 3/31/10

Save me O God, for the waters have risen to my neck.

I have sunk into the mud of the deep, and there is no foothold,

I have entered deep waters, and the waves overwhelm me.

(Psalm 69)

Last Night, on Holy Thursday Evening, Jesus reclined with His Apostles in the safety and security of the Upper Room, a room high above the flood line, a Room only the Disciples knew the location of, where His enemies could not find Him.

But after the Last Supper, Jesus freely leaves the safety and peace of that Upper Room, and descends down into the Valley of the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and prepare.

And at Midnight on Good Friday, the raging flood waters start flooding the Garden.

Not a 100 year Flood, not even a 500 year flood, but a flood the likes of which has never been seen before or since, a flood far more horrific and devastating than the flood in the time of Noah.

For in Noah’s Day, it was the Good God who for forty days flooded the world with water, to rid the world of Evil Men and to save the Just Man Noah and his family.  But on that Friday, it is Satan who for Forty Hours floods the world with Darkness, to rid the world of Goodness, Truth and Justice, and to destroy the God-Man, Jesus and His disciples.

At Midnight in the Garden, the Dams of Hell burst open, and streaming through the Olive Trees comes a river of lanterns, torches and weapons all converging upon Our Lord.

And then, Jesus the Son of God permits the waters to come crashing upon Him:

-The kiss of betrayal by His best friend,

-The abandonment by all His other friends in His time of greatest need,

-The loss of His freedom, the wrongful arrest,

-The corrupt trial in the middle of the night,

-The false accusations, the slanders, the lies and half truths and twisting of His words,

-The Pharisees stirring up the crowds against Him,

-The people all flocking to the low-life Barabbas and shouting for the crucifixion of Jesus,

-His right hand man swearing to God in public that he never even met Jesus before,

-The political authorities not caring one bit about truth and justice, only out to keep their office,

-The religious authorities even worse, saying their only King is Ceasar, the Priests the main instigators in bringing down the Christ,

And then, the Innocent One, the Truth, the Life, beaten down, Crowned with Thorns and mocked at, condemned as a criminal who should be cast out of decent society;

Stripped of all dignity, all his possessions taken from Him, Nailed to a Tree, humanly unable to move, humanly unable to escape as He is spit at and laughed at and given vinegar to drink.

Wave upon wave upon wave of misery and injustice and sin poured upon Him, until

It is finished.

No angel, or anyone else, comes to save Him at the last minute.

The betrayer, the Barabbas fans, the weak and corrupt religious and political leaders, the brutal Roman Army seem to have won the day, while Truth and Goodness is buried in a sealed tomb.

But even as the flood waters subside late Good Friday afternoon, Mary the Mother of Jesus knows who really won the day, and come Sunday, the Disciples of Jesus will know as well.

For as the Bride in the Song of Songs says, The deepest waters cannot drown my Love, nor can any flood sweep My Love away.

The Suffering,  Death, and Burial of Christ, which shows us the greatness of Jesus’ love for us sinners, also shows us that, as the Song of Song also says, Love is stronger than death.

Lord Jesus, when this world rejects you and crucifies you, may we, with the Virgin Mary and John the Beloved and Mary Magdalen, remain close to you;  May we cling to the Wood of your Holy Cross, knowing that the Cross alone is our one hope, knowing that the Wood of the Cross is the one and only Life Raft that will bring us safely through the  worst of floods this life can send us.