Archive for April, 2012

Homily – 3rd Sunday Easter MMXXII 4/22/12

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

 Homily – 3rd Sunday Easter MMXXII 4/22/12

About a month ago, the School had a lock-in on a Friday night, and so I went over to visit the kids who were having fun playing games in the cafeteria and gym.

The school has in the cafeteria about four new Foosball tables, and I never really paid much attention to them since they were purchased, but I went up to a group of kids playing at one of the tables and noticed that instead of little soccer players, they were star wars characters – Jedi Nights and Storm troopers I think.

I said to the kids “Wow, a Star Wars Foosball Table.

The Foose be with you!”

And one of the kids answered and said “And with your Spirit!”

Luke Skywalker knows the New Translation of the Mass!

In the New English Translation of the Creed, we now all say “I believe . . . . Jesus . . . rose again on the Third Day

in accordance with the Scriptures”

The old translation was

“He rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures.”

While we certainly believe Jesus rose again in fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures, that the Old Testament predicted the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, the Latin word secundum doesn’t mean that. It means “in accordance with” or better yet: “according to”.

Its actually the same exact word as when the priest says A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

So in the Creed when you and I say “I believe He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures” we are saying that Jesus Rose again just as the Scriptures say He did, not only in accordance with the Old Testament prophets, but also in accordance with, according to, the New Testament writers.

And so in that part of the Creed, we are professing not only our belief in the Resurrection, but also our belief in the Scriptures as telling us the truth about the bodily Resurrection of Jesus.

The Tomb was really empty on Easter Sunday, just as the Scriptures say it was, and Jesus of Nazareth was truly seen, Risen Body and Soul from the Dead, by his disciples, just as the Scriptures say.

In looking over today’s Gospel, and all of the other appearances of the Risen Jesus mentioned in the Four Gospels, one similarity about all of them jumped out at me that I had never noticed before until this Easter: I noticed for the first time that the Risen Lord Jesus asks the disciples a heck of a lot of questions.

In almost every one of his appearances to them, Jesus is posing questions to His disciples. The first recorded words out of the Risen Lord’s mouth are “Why are you crying? Who are seeking?”

The first words out of His mouth at His second appearance on the Road to Emmaus: “What are you guys talking so excitedly about? What’s been happening around here anyway?” “Don’t you realize Christ had to suffer so as to enter into his Glory?”

And in today’s Gospel, after saying “Shalom – Peace” to them, the Risen Jesus says: “Why are you afraid? Why do doubts, questions, arise in your hearts?” “Got anything to eat?”

And finally, at the Third appearance to the Apostles early in the morning at the Sea of Galilee, he says “You guys catch anything the last eight hours? No?” and then when they get on shore, the Risen Jesus says “Peter, do you love me more than these? Do you love me? Do you at least like me?”

Before His Passion and Resurrection, Jesus gave them many teachings. But after His Passion, Jesus became Socratic, drawing out of them the seeds He had planted in them.

And the Risen Lord Jesus does the same with us, asking us the same questions so that we might come to an awareness of His presence in our lives. (Perhaps He does so even more after we have experienced the Cross in our lives.)

Why are you sad? Its all right if you are, but tell me why?

Who are you seeking, deep down inside?

What are you excited, passionate about? Do you understand why you are passionate about that, that it is pointing to me, to my passion and resurrection, that I wish to purify and fulfill those passions and desires?

Why are you afraid (to give yourself to me)?

Why do doubts arise in your heart? I’m not upset that they arise, I just want you to think about why you doubt – to make vocal your doubts, bring them to the light.

Do you got anything to eat? Will you eat and drink with me, at the table of the Eucharist, and we can have a nice long talk over candlelight dinner?

Have you been at it for a real long time and have nothing to show for it again? Do you feel like giving up? Tell me about it.

And one last question: Do you love me more than these?

Do you love me?

Do you at least like me?

May we mull over and over those questions that the Risen Lord asks us. Maybe in our prayer time this Easter, we can verbally answer some of those questions, or write our answers to them in our prayer journal.

In every one of the his appearances in the Gospels, the disciples didn’t at first realize the Risen Jesus was with them, until he started posing questions.

And as they thought over the Lord’s questions, and started answering them, they began to realize: It is Jesus asking these things to me, He is Risen, and with me always, alive in my life, making my heart burn with love as He reveals His Word to me.

Homily – Mercy Sunday MMXII 4/15/12

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

 

Homily – Mercy Sunday MMXII 4/15/12

When the Risen Lord appeared to the Apostles that first Easter Sunday Night, St. John says He showed them His hands and his side. And, The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord’s wounds, now glorified in His risen body.

And just as there are Five Glorified Wounds in the Risen Body of Jesus that the Apostles rejoiced over, so today’s Gospel gives us Five Glorious Fruits of the Resurrection which you and I and every believe can rejoice over.

And in the Spirit of the Fathers of the Church, who loved to do such things, and at the risk of making this sound a bit contrived, I’m going to relate each of these Five Fruits of the Resurrection with one of the Five Glorious Wounds of Christ.

The First Fruit of the Resurrection comes from one of the pierced Feet of the Risen Jesus, and this First Fruit is that the Resurrection turns Fear into Joy.

Before the Resurrection, the Apostles ran away from the Cross, ran away from doing God’s will, ran and hid from the hostile outside world, out of fear of all these things.

But after the grace of the Resurrection, the Apostles no longer feared the Cross, no longer feared sin and temptation, no longer feared persecution for the Faith, rather their fear was transformed into Joy that Jesus had conquered all these things.

Blessed Pope John Paul II, who died 7 years ago on the Eve of this Divine Mercy Sunday, was a man who had tremendous Crosses in his life, but because of his great faith in Christ’s Resurrection he would tell people everywhere he traveled “Be Not Afraid! Christ is Risen, and is with us always!”

The Second Fruit of the Resurrection corresponds to the other pierced foot of the Risen Lord, and it is that the Resurrection breaks down all barriers.

We see Jesus in the Gospel taking those two pierced feet of his, and walking right through a locked door so that the people he loved so much could encounter Him.

And just as Jesus back then went through a lock door, so today Jesus can get through a locked heart, a heart imprisoned in sin and sadness, a heart that has rejected God and lock Him out of its life – the Risen Jesus will not give up on that person, no matter what, til their last breath Jesus will touch their hearts with his grace, and patiently wait for them to open wide their hearts again to him.

The Third Fruit of the Resurrection, corresponding to the Pierced Right Hand of Jesus, is that the Resurrection bestows Peace to our souls.

The Risen Jesus lifts up that pierced hand of His (as he does in the Divine Mercy image), blesses us with it, and says ShalomPeace be with you!

The Peace of knowing that our sins are forgiven and that we are reconciled to God; the peace of knowing that God is with us amidst our trials; the peace of knowing that we will be reunited with our deceased loved ones in Heaven.

The Peace that enables us to love our enemies and forgive those who sin against us, that enables us to hold out our hand and shake the hand of a brother or sister, in a gesture of peace and friendship and reconciliation.

The fourth Fruit, corresponding to the pierced left hand of the Risen Lord, is that the Resurrection dispels all doubt and imparts a concrete and lasting Faith on believers.

We see the Risen Jesus in today’s Gospel holding up that pierced left hand of His and saying “Go ahead Thomas, put your finger through the nail marks.”

Many scripture commentators say Thomas wasn’t with the other Apostles that first Easter Sunday, because he took the Cross harder than all the other Apostles did; Thomas was so upset with himself after abandoning Jesus on Good Friday that he didn’t want to face the other apostles.

But while a part of him doubted, another part of him believed enough not to despair like Judas did, and believed enough to come back to the Christian community of believers.

And so, because the Cross weighed heaviest on Thomas, in the end, Thomas’ faith in Christ was the strongest among all the other Apostles, as he is the first to say My Lord and My God, the first person to so explicitly affirm Jesus as not just the Son of God, but truly God Himself.

Lastly, the Fifth and Final Fruit of the Resurrection, which corresponds to the Pierced Side of Christ, is that the Resurrection Floods the World and our Hearts with the Mercy and Love shining forth from the Heart of the Risen Jesus.

Through Faith in the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, our hands, our feet, our hearts become the hands/feet and heart of Jesus for others.

For the True believer in Christ, faith without works is a dead faith.

Some influential people in our society have been trying to narrow the definition of what a religious institution is, saying that while a house of worship such as a church or mosque or synagogue is a religious institution, a catholic hospital or jewish school or baptist soup kitchen isn’t a religious institution.

But such thinking is totally opposed to Catholic thinking. Listen to what our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI says in his 2005 Encyclical Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”), paragraph 22.

He states (quote): “the exercise of charity,. . . love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to (the Church) as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel.”

Good Shepherd School, Catholic Social Services, Fatima Hospital, according to the Pope, are as essential to the Church as the Mass, Baptism, Confirmation, the best Sermons are; these institutions are as Catholic as this Parish is,

and God have mercy on us and on our country if we start thinking they aren’t just as Catholic and start allowing our culture to treat them that way.

And so, my brothers and sisters in Christ, may we Rejoice along with the Apostles this Easter Season, that Jesus, who was Crucified, is now Risen Gloriously from the Dead,

and that His Resurrection will enable us to Rise gloriously with him from all our trials, to an ever greater Faith, Hope, and Love in our lives.

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 – Good Friday MMXII 4/6/12

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

 Homily – Good Friday MMXII 4/6/12

It was now about noon,

and darkness came over the whole land

until three in the afternoon

because of an eclipse of the sun.

Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”;

and when he had said this

he breathed his last.

when they came to Jesus

and saw that he was already dead,

they did not break his legs,

but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,

and immediately

blood and water flowed out.

The Veil in the Temple in Jerusalem, which barred the entrance to the Holy of Holies, a Veil which, according to Jewish Legend, was 4 inches thick, about 70 feet high, 30 feet wide, and so heavy that took 300 priests to hang, is torn open, from top to bottom, and as that Veil is torn open on earth, the Veil, barring the entrance to Heaven is also torn open at the same time, never to be closed again.

And as both of those Veils are torn open, a third Veil, the side of Jesus hanging on the Cross, is at the same time torn open, opening wide His Sacred Heart, revealing fully the intimate secrets of His heart and the depths of His love for us.

And in a few moments, we will have the unveiling that caused all these wonderful unveilings – the unveiling of the Cross. The priest and two servers will go to the back of the Church, and the priest takes the Cross, which is wrapped in a purple cloth, and unveils it, tears it open, saying Behold the Wood of the Cross, on which hung the Salvation of the World. And all will kneel and respond Come, let us adore.

We have had the Cross veiled, wrapped up, for the past two weeks, and today we unveil it, unwrap it.

When you or I love someone, we most especially show that love by giving our beloved a present.

And we don’t just give them the present, say “Here it is, see, a diamond ring, take it!” Instead, we wrap it up, and watch them open it, tearing the wrapping paper off as they wonder what it is.

And so today, we unwrap, unveil this most precious of gifts from the one who loves us more than any other person – God.

And this, my brothers and sisters, my spiritual children, is how we should view the Crosses of our lives – as the most precious gifts God our loving Father, and Jesus our Friend and Lover sends us.

Through the Cross, unveiled this day, Heaven is torn open, the Love of Jesus is fully revealed, the sins of the world are forgiven and man is reconciled to God.

And through the Crosses God permits me to suffer, when I unite them to the One True Cross of Christ, the Way to Heaven is revealed to me, the Love of Jesus is known to me, and begins to be seen through me, and my many sins are forgiven and atoned for, and I am reconciled with God.

This Good Friday, let us call to mind, and thank God for, the many gifts of the Cross God the Father and Jesus His Son have given us, both past and present, and for the ones still wrapped up and veiled that He will give us in the years to come.

Ave, Spes Unica – Hail O Cross, our one hope!

We adore your Cross, O Lord,

we praise and glorify your holy Resurrection,

for behold, by your Holy Cross,

joy has come to the whole world.

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.