Homily — Good Friday 2017

June 26th, 2017

Homily — Good Friday MMXVII 4/14/17

In my Palm Sunday Homily this year I talked about a book I recently read about the beginning of World War II, for our country at least; and in this my Good Friday homily, I’m going to talk about another book I recently read, about the end of World War II.

The book is called A Song for Nagasaki, and it’s all about a man named Takashi Nagai, who today is still considered a great hero by the people of Japan, and who currently is being considered for Canonization by the Church (I highly recommend reading the book, it was one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read).

Nagai grew up an atheist, and graduated from medical school the top of his class. In the early years of World War II, Nagai served as a military doctor. Like many young Japanese men of his day, Nagai went on Saki binges, and paid visits to the Geshia girls for hire.

But at the same time, he felt drawn to Christianity, and by Divine Providence he ended up teaching radiology in Nagasaki, the home of the biggest Catholic community in Japan, living in the home of a very devout Catholic family, converting to the faith, and marrying a devout Catholic woman.

On the morning of August 9, 1945, Dr. Nagai was at the college hospital he worked at, his wife was at home, and his children were out of town with their grandmother, when the Atom Bomb dropped on Nagasaki, immediately killing his wife but sparing all his children.

The concrete hospital was a half mile from the epicenter, but the bomb still killed 80% of the staff and patients, destroyed all the hospital equipment, and created a tornado of window glass and debris inside and outside the building.

Dr. Nagai found himself alive but buried under the rubble, and bleeding profusely from his head which was very cut up by the flying glass.

He was rescued by a nurse, and going outside with the few doctors and nurses still alive, they looked down the hill the hospital was on, and saw the giant mushroom cloud, the dead bodies everywhere, and the total devastation left by the nuclear bomb as far as the eye could see.

Then a few minutes later, they saw something even more distressing: badly burned and wounded people began pouring in from the city below, hoping to get help from the hospital, many of them crying “Mitzu! Mitzu!” Water! Water!

One of the nurses later said that the entire medical crew almost mentally broke down at that point, they were all themselves badly wounded and shell shocked, with no medical equipment whatsoever, and here were hundreds of victims looking to them for help.

When suddenly, Dr. Nagai did something: He yelled to a young doctor “Quick! Find a Hi no Maru — a Japanese Flag.”

The man couldn’t find one among the rubble; So then, Nagai took a white sheet, cut it into a rectangle, and pressed his badly bleeding head into the center of it, and they had their Japanese Flag, a solid red circle in the middle of a white background.

Nagai mounted the flag, and everything changed. As one of the nurses recounted 42 years later “Suddenly we had a headquarters to rally around, a center that put order back into the picture.” The medical crew helped the wounded, one by one, and managed to get through the worst ordeal mankind has ever experienced, by centering themselves around that flag which Dr. Nagai made with his own blood.

And today, we recall that day when, in the midst of this chaotic world, filled with violence, and hatred, and injustice, Our Lord Jesus pressed a wooden Cross to his broken body, which was bleeding from head to toe from the scourges, the crown of thorns, and the nails,

and saturating that Wood with his precious blood, Jesus placed that Cross in the center of His Church.

And now in the midst of this chaotic, violent, unjust world, we Christians find our “headquarters to rally around”, our “center that puts order back into the picture”.

Through the Cross of Christ, we can find strength to get through any ordeal this world can throw at us.

The Cathedral at Nagasaki was also destroyed, and three months after the bombing in November of 1945, the bishop had an open air Mass for all the victims, and asked Dr. Nagai to speak at it. After praying deeply about it, what he ended up saying was very provocative.

Nagai said that day: “On August 9 at 11:02 am, an atom bomb exploded over our suburb. In an instant, 8,000 Christians were called to God . . . At midnight that night, our cathedral suddenly burst into flames and was consumed. At exactly the same time in the Imperial Palace, His Majesty the Emperor made known the decision to end the war.

“On August 15, the Imperial Rescript, which put an end to the fighting, was formally promulgated, and the whole world saw the light of peace.

“August 15 is also the great feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is significant, I believe, that (our) Cathedral was dedicated to her. We must ask: Was this convergence of events, the end of the war and the celebration of her feast day, merely coincidental, or was it the mysterious Providence of God?

“I have heard that the atom bomb . . . was destined for another city. Heavy clouds rendered that target impossible, and the American crew headed for the secondary target, Nagasaki. Then a mechanical problem arose, and the bomb was dropped further north than planned and burst right above the cathedral. . .

It was not the American crew, I believe, who chose our suburb. God’s Providence chose it, and carried the bomb right above our homes. Is there not a profound relationship between the annihilation of Nagasaki, and the end of the war? Was not Nagasaki the chosen victim, the lamb without blemish, slain as a whole burnt offering on an altar of sacrifice, atoning for the sins of all the nations during World War II?”

While many in the congregation and those who read it afterwards found Nagai’s speech very moving, others were furious that he would be so insensitive as to say it was the will of God that their loved ones perished. But Nagai continued to give the same message to his fellow countrymen in the many best selling books he wrote, until his death in 1951, saying it was the only way he as a survivor was able to find peace.

And perhaps there’s a lot of truth in his words. For every year in Japan there’s a ceremony on the anniversary of the two atomic bombings, one in Nagasaki, and one in Hiroshima.

A person who attends both is quoted as saying that the one at Hiroshima is “bitter, noisy, highly political, and anti-American. its symbol would be a fist clenched in anger. Nagasaki (in contrast) is sad, quiet, reflective, non political and prayerful. it does not blame the US but rather laments the sinfulness of war, especially nuclear war. its symbol: hands joined in prayer.”

And perhaps that is the difference between those who do not accept the Cross of Jesus Christ, and those who by God’s grace come to embrace it: one is a fist, clenched in anger, the other are hands, joined in prayer.

Homily in Loving Memory of Fr. Lionel A. Blain, Ph. D.

August 24th, 2015

Homily – 21st Sunday OT B 8/23/15

In loving memory of Fr. Lionel Blain 11/10/29 – 8/22/15 by Fr. Michael Woolley

A man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.

That is the normal course of things for most people, to grow up and get married and raise a family. But from the time he was a child, Joseph Albert Lionel Blain felt called by God to a different type of marriage; he felt called to wed himself for life to the Bride of Christ, the Church, as a Catholic Priest.

And so at the young age of about 13, Lionel Blain left his father Georges, and his mother Marie Rose, and he left his home town of Woonsocket, to go live at Our Lady of Providence High School and College Seminary on Warwick Neck, to begin his studies for the priesthood.

After six years there, and two more years of college in Montreal, Nel then boarded a ship and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Rome; to live for the next four years at the newly Rebuilt Pontifical North American College for American Major Seminarians. He once mentioned to me that he was feeling very homesick when he got to Rome, when he walked into Ancora Bookstore next to St. Peter’s Square (which is still in business) and the first book he saw was “She wore a crown of thorns: The Life of Little Rose Ferron, Stigmatist of Woonsocket, RI”! He didn’t feel homesick after that.

Nel had the privilege of leading the seminary choir when Pope Pius XII blessed the new seminary building on October 14, 1953. He did such a good job leading the choir that the seminary allowed him to skip a grade and get ordained a priest a year earlier than his classmates, on July 18 1954 at the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Rome. Only one of his family members, a sister, was able to attended his ordination and first Mass thanks to his pastor paying for her travel expenses, and only a few Rhode Islanders seminarians were there; the only one still living being Wifred Gregoire, now a senior priest living at St. Agatha’s down the road.

Lionel Blain had received his life’s vocation, he had wed himself to God and to the Church, he had become a priest forever. And for the next sixty-one years, Fr. Blain remained faithful to the Bride of Christ, faithful to his calling a priest, ordained to bring Christ’s love and salvation to God’s people, faithfully serving where ever the Bishop sent him.

And for the first 20 years of his priesthood, where the Bishop sent him was back to the seminary! After getting his doctorate in philosophy at Louvain University in Belgium, Fr. Blain went back to his old seminary at Warwick Neck to be on the other side of the teachers desk. He taught philosophy there for 15 years, and was a favorite teacher of many a seminarian. He used to say to say to priests he had as a student “I should have flunked you!” Some priests responded “You did flunk me!”

Fr. Blain’s favorite philosophy was what is called Catholic Existentialism, which he studied from the famous 20th century philosopher Gabriel Marcel whom he personally met. Catholic Existentialism stresses how we can encounter God in every encounter we have with other people, and that the living God is found in the present moment; and I mention this because Fr. Blain had a real spark of life in him, and was able to connect very easily to people, whether one on one, or when at the pulpit before a congregation, so that you always left him feeling affirmed and loved by God. As one parishioner once told me when I first got here, Fr. Blain is “very fatherly.” What better complement can you give a priest than that??

In 1973 Fr. Blain was made the Pastor of St. John the Baptist in Pawtucket, and was given the job of merging that parish with another area parish; It wasn’t the easiest assignment from the little he told me of it, he laughing told me that in the end he had to un-merge the parishes as things didn’t work out so well. Fr. Blain even took failures like this in stride, not letting it get to him, which I think was great for me to see as a young priest.

Finally in 1983, Father Blain was assigned to our parish of St. Joseph Woonsocket. Bishop Gelineau said “you have a six year term, then we will evaluate your performance as a Pastor, and maybe reassign you for six more years.” But lucky for us they forgot about him way up here in Woonsocket, and for 24 years until his retirement in 2007, Father Blain led the flock of St. Joseph’s as our pastor, celebrating thousands of Masses, hearing hundreds of confessions, doing hundreds of funerals, weddings, baptisms and first communions.

A lot of people told me that when he first came here he was a bit strict and serious; but just like good wine which gets better with age, Fr. Blain mellowed out as the years went on.

St. Paul in the Second Reading says Husbands, love your wives. And Fr. Blain truly loved this parish which he was wedded to. One of the number one things a husband and father wishes to give his family is a beautiful house to live in, and to feel at home in. Father Blain also had that desire for his family, our parish. And so in the early 1990s, Father Blain embarked on a massive undertaking, the total renovation and expansion of our parish. This beautiful Church building we are proud to call our home today is due in large part to Father Blain’s vision and leadership.

The renovation committee voted to name the renovated Church Hall the Fr. Blain Hall. “I’m a living institution!” Fr. Blain would say.

But as concerned as he was about giving the Lord and His people a good home to worship in, Fr. Blain was just as concerned about giving the poor and homeless of Woonsocket a home to live in as well. He was one of the founding members of the Woonsocket homeless shelter, and spent many of his 24 years here being an advocate for the poor of our area.

I  could go on and on, but I will just end by saying thank you, Father Blain, for being a good, holy and faithful priest, friend and spiritual mentor to the end, and for all the love and service you gave to our parish for 24 years and to our diocese for 61 years.

The Lord came to take you home on the Feast of Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, August 22. May Mary, the Queen of Heaven, Mother of Priests, and St. Joseph our Patron, obtain pardon for your sins and receive you into Heaven to be reunited with your parents and all your family and friends that have gone before you in faith.

So Father Blain, we all love you and will pray for you, as we say together “Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace, and may his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace, Amen.”

Homily – Mary, the Holy Mother of God MXIV

January 1st, 2014

Homily – Mary, the Holy Mother of God             MXIV

Image of Mary, Untier of Knots

(The Shepherds) made known the message
    that had been told them about this child . . .
    and Mary kept all these things,
    reflecting on them in her heart.

Today we see our Blessed Mother keeping and reflecting on all that the Shepherds told her concerning her child. And what did they tell her?

Be not afraid, the Angel said, the child will banish all fear.
His birth is Good News, His birth will bring great joy,
and this Good News and this Great Joy will be offered to all people.

The Angel also said that this child is the Savior,
that He is the Christ, the promised Messiah of God’s people
and even more than this, He is the Lord, God Incarnate.

And then when the Angel was finished speaking, thousands of angels appeared to the shepherds, praising God the Father for sending His Son into the world.

As Christmas came and went, and a new year began for her and for the world, Mary kept reflecting, over and over again, each and every day, on these things the shepherds told her about her child.

According to Scripture Scholars, a better translation would be that Mary kept with concern these things, as if she believed that the words the Shepherds told her were going to be of vital importance for her in the days to come.

May we too, like Mary, keep the words of the Shepherds in our hearts as we go into this new year of grace, 2014.

Whatever this new year holds for us and for our world, if we keep with concern the fact that Jesus is with us, and that nothing in this world should make us fearful, then joy and peace will remain with us this whole year through.

But before we start a New Year with Jesus and Mary, its important also to reflect on this past year, and reflect on the many ways Jesus and Mary have blessed us and our parish these past twelve months.

It’s been kind of an exciting year in many ways, as far as our faith goes. For the first time in 700 years, the Pope resigned. For the first time ever, a Jesuit became Pope, and took a name no Pope ever took.  We ended a year of faith in the Church, and on a more local and personal level, I became the Very Reverend Dean of Woonsocket Cumberland and Lincoln, the youngest Dean in the Diocese (I call myself the “Deano Bambino”), and I started a new 6 year term as Pastor of St. Josephs.

But that’s what God did in the world. We should also reflect on what God did in our personal life – how did we encounter Jesus this past year? How did I grow in my faith this past year, how didn’t I grow in it? Its important I think to take 5 or 10 minutes thinking about all this.

As today’s feast in a special way honors Mary, I thought I would end my homily talking about a new title of Mary that became widely known this past year due to the election of our new Pope.  For the past 30 years, Pope Francis has had a devotion to Mary under the title of Mary, Untier of Knots. The devotion has spread throughout Argentina and Brazil apparently through him even before he became Pope.

The devotion has a very interesting history to it.  In the mid 1600s, there was a married couple in Germany that were having serious problems in their marriage, and were on the verge of getting divorced.  The husband sought counseling from a Jesuit priest, and on the fourth visit with him, the priest went before an image of Mary with the silk ribbon which was used in the couple’s wedding ceremony (tied their arms together).

The priest had put knots in the ribbon, and holding it up before Mary, he ceremoniously untied the knots and said “With this act, I raise the bonds of matrimony, and untie and smooth out all knots”.  As he untied and smoothed out the knot, the ribbon miraculously became pure white, and the couple’s marriage was saved.

Well, there grandson years later became a priest, and he commissioned a painting which is now venerated as Mary, Untier of Knots.  It’s got one angel on the left handing her ribbons all knotted up, and Mary in the middle, calmly and peacefully untying the mess of ribbon, and another angel on her right handing an untied ribbon to the person looking at the painting.

Pope Francis saw the painting in the 1980s when he was a Jesuit priest studying in Germany, and brought the devotion back to Argentina where it spread rapidly.

Whether it will spread in America is up to the Holy Spirit, but certainly the devotion brings out a great truth that, when our lives get all tied up in knots for whatever reason, and we can’t seem to straighten out our lives, but instead seem to be getting more and more entangled, Mary is the one who can untie those knots and smooth out our lives.

I will end with an abridged form of the prayer to Mary, Untier of Knots:

“Virgin Mary, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need . . . cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life. You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary . . . I entrust into your hands my life. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and through the intercession of your Son Jesus, take into your hands today this knot. [Mention request here]
I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope. O my Lady, you are my consolation, my strength, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains. Hear my prayer; Keep me, guide me, protect me, be my refuge! Mary, Untier of Knots, pray for us.”

Homily – 28th Sunday OT C 10/13/13

October 13th, 2013

Homily – 28th Sunday OT C                    10/13/13

Where are the other nine?

Jesus is amazed, and even a bit hurt, at the incredible lack of gratitude he encounters among the lepers he heals as he journeys to Jerusalem to die for our sins.

Jesus had given these ten men so much in taking away their leprosy; no more would they suffer the pains of sickness, no more would they have to fear an imminent death, no more would their bodies be disfigured, no more would they be estranged from their loved ones and their communities.

Yet despite all these blessings Jesus had freely given them, only one of the ten lepers, a non-Jewish Samaritan, returned to show his great gratitude.

Where are the other nine? He laments, as he journeys down to Jerusalem to save not ten lepers, but you and I and every person suffering from the spiritual leprosy of sin and death. Will those people be just as ungrateful as these were?

Gratitude is really central to our faith, to the point where we call what we do at Mass “The Eucharist”, a Greek word which literally means “thanksgiving”.  Even the word “Grace” means “thankful”.  And too often, we in our spiritual life are more like the other nine than we are like the Samaritan Leper: Jesus touches our hearts in the hopes that we will turn to him more fully, but 90% of the time, we miss the opportunity.

Where are the other nine?? Let’s see where they are.

One of them said to himself “There must be some rational explanation for my healing; I must have been getting better and didn’t realize it, it was just a coincidence that Jesus came around today, after all, there’s no such thing as miracles.” and went on his way.

The Second Healed Leper said “Boy, am I glad that leprosy business is over with. I never want to think of those days again!” And blocking out all memory of the past, went on his way.

The Third Leper, after realizing he was healed, said “I really need to get back to Jesus, to thank Him for all He did for me.”  but he got wrapped up in the busy-ness of life, and never got around to doing so.

The Fourth Leper was the closest in spirit to the Samaritan leper; after being healed he was deeply touched and genuinely  grateful for what Jesus did to him, and immediately resolved to return to Jesus and become a disciple.  But his family and friends were very opposed to the idea, and they managed to talk the healed leper out of it.

The Fifth Healed Leper talked himself out of going back to Jesus, because if he went back, he knew Jesus would challenge him, perhaps ask him to change his lifestyle.  And so like the Rich Young Man, this fifth leper went away sad, having many possessions he couldn’t detach himself from.

It never once crossed the poor Sixth Leper’s mind to be grateful to God for healing him.  He never deserved to be sick in the first place! What had happened to him was totally unfair, if there was really a God, he wouldn’t have let him get leprosy. And while, in a moment of weakness he cried out to God for help, he was still too bitter and upset at God to now be thankful.

The Seventh Healed Leper didn’t return to Jesus to thank him, quite simply because he was an ungrateful, self centered person. Either his parents didn’t teach him to always say please and thank you, and to send thank you cards when you are given a birthday or Christmas gift, or else they did, and he freely chose not to learn to be grateful.

The Eighth Healed Leper did have a grateful heart, and would have gone back to thank Jesus, but when he found out that only one other leper was going back, and that he wouldn’t be able to just blend in with the crowd, but would have to publicly be seen as a believer in Jesus, he chickened out and didn’t go.

And finally, the Ninth Healed Leper also didn’t want to go back with just the one other Leper, because the guy was a Samaritan, and he hated Samaritans, they were all a bunch of degenerates. If this is the kind of people Jesus attracts, No Thanks!

Where are the other nine lepers? Jesus asks. There they all are.

But the Tenth Leper by God’s grace realizes he had been healed by Jesus, as incredible as that seems to him.

He realizes that before he can go on with his life, as much as he would like to rush home to his loved ones, he needs to make thanking Jesus a priority, and more than that, He wants to repay Jesus for all he has done for him by giving his life to him as a disciple.

Yes, it will entail sacrifice, yes, some of his family and friends will object; still, Jesus has healed him and saved him from so much misery by coming into his life.

And so the Leper overcomes his fears, and burning his bridges returns in a loud voice, is vocal about what Jesus did to him.

And while before at a distance because of his leprosy, now he draws near to Jesus and kneels before his feet, showing himself to the High Priest of the New Covenant.

May we be like that Samaritan Leper, and be vocal in thanking Jesus each and every day for healing us of the leprosy of sin through his passion and resurrection.

Homily – Blessing of our Newly Renovated School Gym

September 7th, 2013

Sports leads us to a deeper relationship with God”

Talk given at the Blessing of the Newly Renovated Good Shepherd School Gym, September 6, 2013

Some people have asked me: Father, why are you blessing a Gym? What has that to do with religion? A lot, actually. Athletics has so much to do with our Catholic Faith, that I’ve written a full length talk on the subject, which you all will now have to suffer through!

Because Almighty God created us humans, body and soul, in His divine image, and also because God took flesh and was born of the Virgin Mary, the Catholic Church has always taught that the human body is good and holy, and therefore physical exercise which contributes to the well being of the body and even the soul is a good and holy thing.

For example, the great Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, over 800 years ago extolled the virtues of physical exercise for the purpose of renewing the mind.

In the Middle Ages of St. Thomas’ time, daily life for most people was very physically demanding, and a workout in itself. But in the 18- and 1900s, as more and more people moved away from farming and other vigorous physical labor to work in assembly line and white collar jobs, organized sports began to become very popular again for the first time since the ancient Greeks.

The Catholic Church gave its blessing to this new and  wide world of sports.  Great minds of the Church such as Blessed John Henry Newman in the mid 1800s taught of the great importance of physical education in a well rounded Catholic education.  In the mid 1900s, Pope Pius XII spoke frequently on the merits and virtues of playing sports to build Christian Character.

Blessed Pope John Paul II, who will be Canonized later this year, was probably the most athletic Pope and Saint ever. John Paul II was an avid soccer player, skier, mountain climber, and swimmer.  One of the first things he did as Pope was install an in ground swimming pool at his summer residence.  The Cardinals complained “Holy Father, that will be too expensive!”  He said “It will be cheaper than another conclave!”

Because of all this, the Catholic Church in our modern day has been a great patron and promoter of sports. Catholic Schools in America are known for their strong sports programs, and rightly so. Physical education isn’t optional, it is, in a way, essential and even foundational to all other education.

One great Catholic educator of 20th century, John Senior, wrote that the training of the body in athletics is the prerequisite to all other learning of the mind, because athletics sharpens our senses, and this in turn sharpens our minds, making one more able to mentally “hit the bulls eye”.  I have personally noticed that the better a person is athletically, the more mentally sharper that person is.

Not only Catholic schools, but also Catholic Parishes have been great patrons of organized sports.  30 years ago, when this Parish of St. Joseph had tons more kids than it does today, we had thriving CYO basketball, softball, baseball and volleyball teams for both boys and girls, as did all the parishes in Rhode Island.

The Church encouraged organized sports, because sports help us grow in the virtues of self-discipline, perseverance, team work and respect for authority.  Sport channels youthful energy in constructive, safe, and healthy ways.  Sports can even help build bridges of peace between peoples, countries and races.

I would encourage all of you boys and girls to get involved in the many sports programs here at Good Shepherd.  We have lots of great teams and great coaches, and whether you are a great athlete or not, you will have a great time if you join a team.  If there is one big regret I have in life, it is that I was never exposed to a good sports program and good coaches like this growing up. I think I would be a better, more effective priest today if I was.

Because the Church sees such value in Sports, just as Clergy and Catholic School teachers should realize what a very important role they have as educators and role models for our youth, so also should Catholic School Coaches realize what an important role they have, not only as Coaches, but also as role models for what it means to be a good Catholic and a disciple of Jesus. May God bless and strengthen all our Coaches, help them to be good Catholic role models, and reward them for their hard work and sacrifices for the good of our children.

Sports is a good thing, but like every other good thing in life it needs to have its proper place.

And so, amid the important weekly basketball, soccer, track and volleyball practices, we need to fit in the most important practice of the week, the practice of our faith:  namely, Sunday or Saturday afternoon Mass attendance.

Amid the important daily necessary physical exercises:  push ups, laps, drills, etc.; we need to make room for the even more important daily spiritual exercises: a minimum of 5 minutes of prayers, scripture reading, and examination of conscience each and every day, and not just at school.

A month ago, the local newspaper called me up and asked me what I thought of the new law which allows liquor stores to open at 10am on Sundays instead of Noon, whether I thought that would hurt Mass attendance.  I told them my gut reaction is that just as bad, if not worse, is the way all these sports games and practices for youth are being scheduled Sunday mornings.  I can’t count the number of times a kid has told me “I can’t get to church because I have games Sunday morning.”  Woe to us and our Catholic Schools if we ever start following the world in scheduling practices or games Sunday morning, or get so wrapped up in sports that we fall out of going to Church on a weekly basis.

And while sports can instill many virtues in a person, it can also instill vices in us if we aren’t careful.  We only have to look at the professional sports world to find lots of instances of pride, vanity, greed, steroid use, unchaste behavior, and other more serious sins among players and coaches. There’s also a tendency in our society to over-exalt sports figures, as seen in the exorbitant prices for a pro football game or the seven figure salaries some pro players get.

So may the Lord help us to use sports properly, that it may lead us to a deeper relationship with God, and not become a false god that we put over the One True God and His Commandments.

And so boys and girls, we pray today for God’s Blessing on all the teams who will play in this beautifully renovated gym in the days and years to come, especially the Good Shepherd Sharks!  On this gym floor, many of you will win many games, forge many friendships, learn to lose gracefully (especially when you play Fr. Woolley and the Friars in basketball!), and forge memories that will last a lifetime.   And in the midst of it all, you will, in a mysterious but real way, also encounter Jesus on the court with you, and grow in your Catholic Faith through the sports you play.

Lastly, I pray that all of us will always stay on Jesus’ team, the “Globe Trotters” known as the “Rom’n” Catholic Church.  May we all play well together on this team, knowing that each team member is a valued, vital member with unique gifts and talents that make the team great. With Jesus as our Team Coach and Team Captain, may we always “fight the good fight of faith,” and on this team, may we all “run the race” of life well, “so as to win the prize of eternal life” when this playing season of our earthly life is over.

September 6, 2013