Archive for the ‘Lent/Easter Homilies’ Category

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.

Homily – Holy Thursday MMX 4/1/10

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Homily – Holy Thursday MMX 4/1/10

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

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

Our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone whose loved ones have been adversely affected by the terrible flooding we have been experiencing.

As many of you know, I come from Coventry, and my parents live only a quarter of a mile from the South Branch of the Pawtuxet River, thankfully on high ground. Most of the major roads in Coventry are closed; my friend Fr. Kelley, Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul has 18 inches of water in the Church basement and no heat, half of his parish yesterday and most of today was under mandatory evacuation from a dam 150 yards from the Church which threatened to give way, one of the homes evacuated is a duplex my mother grew up in and my parents lived in when they were first married.

The Warwick Mall I grew up going to is now Lake Warwick Mall, with cars almost totally submerged in water, as is many other shopping centers and homes in the Cranston and Warwick area.

Macy's at the Warwick Mall, Warwick RI, 3/31/10

Macy's at the Warwick Mall, Warwick RI, 3/31/10

Thankfully, the Blackstone Valley has been spared, and thankfully also no lives have been lost, but certainly this will be a financial and emotional hardship for many many people and our prayers go out to them this Holy Thursday.

But in the midst of all these trials, and in the midst of the many other trials you and I our facing, tonight, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, invites us to come to Higher Ground, to this Upper Room where no flood waters can reach.

Here in this Upper Room tonight, Jesus gives us three gifts which will help us weather any storm this life can bring us, three gifts which will enable us to walk across the stormy waters: Jesus this night gives us the Eucharist, the Priesthood, and the New Commandment to Love One another as Christ has loved us.

Just as the Holy Trinity is One God in Three Persons, in a similar way these three Gifts are really One Gift in Three Forms.

For Jesus our Lord and Savior is both truly present and truly hidden in all three Gifts.

He is most of all truly present in the Holy Eucharist. This is Jesus’ Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity – Jesus, whose Word in the Beginning Created the Whole Universe, who said “Fiat Lux – Let there be light” and there was light, and it was good, tonight says “Hoc est Corpus Meum – This is my Body, this is my Blood” — and ordinary Bread and Wine are Transubstantiated into the Flesh and Blood of Jesus, the Bread of Angels.

And in order to continue giving us this Bread from Heaven until the end of time, Jesus this night Ordains the first Twelve Priests of the New and Everlasting Covenant. And as the Saints and most recently Pope John Paul II tells us, not only did He ordain those Twelve Priests, but He also held in His Sacred Heart and thought of Fr. Charland, Fr. Blain, Fr. Marcin, Fr. Woolley and every man who would be called to the priesthood until the end of time.

Like the Eucharist, Jesus is truly present in each and every validly ordained priest. We call priests alter Christus – other Christs. The priest says “This is my Body” not “This is the Body of Jesus”, He says in confession “I absolve you from your sins” not “Christ absolves you” because the priest is another Christ.

In this Year of the Priesthood, may we this Night in a special way thank God for the gift and the mystery which is the Holy Priesthood, and pray that all priests may be more and more converted inwardly, that all their thoughts, desires, words and actions may be those of Christ the High Priest whose dignity they sacramentally partake in.

Let us pray in a special way that This Night, as He sits at table, that Jesus is even now thinking of some young man or boy in our parish, calling Him to one day “Do this in remembrance of Me” to one day give his life totally to Jesus and His Church as an Ordained Priest.

Finally Jesus is present in the New Commandment He gives us this night “As I have washed your feet, so you must wash each others feet, As I have loved you, so you must love one another”

And Jesus washes the Apostle’s feet and gives them the New Commandment after He has given them the Eucharist and the Priesthood.

This is because the gift of the Eucharist enables us to live out that New Commandment.

The Gift of the Eucharist, if worthy received, fills us with the Peace of Christ and raises our Hearts to the Joys of Heaven. But the Eucharist also fills our Hearts with a burning desire to like Jesus, humble ourselves and take the form of a servant, it makes us want to stoop down and wash the grime and sewer water off the feet of those knee deep in the mud.

And in that act of service to the poor and needy, we will also encounter Our Lord and Savior Jesus, truly present and hidden in the Poor. Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, to the physically or spiritually sick or suffering, to the flood victim, the stranger, to the unwanted and rejected by society, that you do unto me.

And so on this Holy Night, as we recline with Jesus in this Upper Room, may Christ renew our love and appreciation for these Three Gifts which bring Jesus to us, and which raise our Humanity above all the storms and floods that this fallen world can bring our way.

Homily — 1st Sunday Lent MMX C 2/21/10

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Homily — 1st Sunday Lent MMX C 2/21/10

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus . . . . was led . . . . into the desert (and) for forty days . . . . he ate nothing, St. Luke’s Gospel tells us today.

St. Mark in his Gospel tells us Jesus lived fearlessly among the wild beasts as he fasted in the desert, and that He conversed with Angels.

But so far at least, Satan, the reigning Prince of this world since the Fall of Adam, is not impressed with this latest so-called Holy Man to come down the pike.

In the thousands of years he had been prowling around the earth, the devil had met men and women who could like Jesus fast for incredible amounts of time in the wilderness. Some of Satan’s own disciples could do such.

And on occasion, even Angels would appear to the good ones; but as Holy as they were, the Devil knew how to trip even these ones up, he knew how to tempt them so that they would freely choose to sin.

Ninety Nine times out of a Hundred, Satan would snag them with the First Temptation he threw at them.  He would come to them towards the end of their marathon fasting, and say to them “Boy, am I impressed with your great holiness, forty days without bread and water, staring down wild beasts so that they run away from you, talking with angels – you are probably the holiest person on earth!”

“As a matter of fact, I bet you could even turn those stones over there into loaves of bread to feed the hungry of the world.”

And 99 times out of 100, these men and women in their pride and in their lust to play God would say to Satan “Yes, I do want these stones to become Bread, and I command God to do this.”

And when God fails to answer such a prideful, faithless prayer, when God fails to make this world a utopia where there is no more poverty or injustice, these men and women refuse to believe in God any more.

But Jesus doesn’t fall for the temptation, he knows it is in no way God’s fault that men don’t share their bread with the hungry, and that the poor who die of starvation will eat at the eternal banquet, while the rich who failed to feed them will starve for eternity.

But Satan still isn’t worried about losing this battle. One out of 100 resist temptation number one, but no man or woman ever resisted the second temptation Satan throws at Jesus.

“I see what tremendous faith you have in God, combined with great virtue and discipline.” Satan would tell them. “But if you ask me, you’re wasting all that talent by serving God with it.”

“I could use a man like you; I would make you my second in command. Why serve in Heaven when you could reign in Hell? Allow me to give you a foretaste of the Power and Glory that would await you.”

And then in a Vision, Satan would show the tempted person all the Kingdoms of the World in an instant, he would let them feel the tremendous earthly power he possessed.

It would always be too much for a human being to resist, after tasting power they would say, “Yes, I want that power, I will fall down and worship you, give it to me!”

How many tyrants and mass murderers had Satan made this way for thousands of years.

But now, for the first time since the Fall, Satan experiences fear. Jesus resists the irresistible temptation, He is given a vision of absolute worldly power, and refuses it. And the Devil begins to ask himself “Could this really be the Son of God, the One who will crush my head and topple my Kingdom?”

But Satan dismisses that notion as a temptation against faith in himself. This Jesus, standing before him, is clearly flesh and blood. No wretched human will get the better of Satan.

So the Devil confidently throws one final temptation at Jesus – he quotes the holy scriptures to him, and then twists it’s meaning.

The Devil has the whole Bible memorized, and he is an expert at taking verses out of context and wrongly interpreting God’s word so as to make people doubt God’s goodness and/or existence.

So he takes Jesus up to the top of the highest temple wall and says “Scripture says if you are Holy, you could jump off this wall and God’s angels would catch you before you hit the bottom.”

Give me a break” the devil says. “You mean you believe in Angels, and Heaven and Hell, and that someone called God wrote this Book? You believe there’s a God that loves us and tells us what’s right and wrong? What are you, in the Middle Ages still? Modern science and scripture scholarship has debunked all that nonsense!”

“There is no loving God”, Satan continued, “there’s just a senseless universe made up of atoms smashing into each other, and we are a colossal freak of blind evolution.”

“And when we die, game over. So you might as well end it all now by jumping off this wall.”

To which Jesus, and all who follow Him faithfully through the desert of temptation, says “Get behind me Satan, you are standing in My Way, a Way of Faith in God the Creator of this great mysterious universe that manifest His Power and Existence, a mysterious universe you think you can put in a box and totally figure out,”

“You are standing in My Way, a Way which leads to Calvary, where on Good Friday I will show the depths of God’s love for mankind.”

“I and my disciples are finished with your temptations now Satan, so get behind me and my disciples before I knock you out of the Way, for we must be on our Way to the Cross and the Empty tomb.”

Homily — 6th Sunday Easter MMIX 5/17/09

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Homily — 6th Sunday Easter MMIX 5/17/09

I started my day off this week by going to see the new Star Trek movie at Lincoln Mall Cinema Tuesday morning.

As I was leaving to see it, I was coming from teaching a class at the school, and the children were out playing for recess.

Mr. Jones, one of the sixth grade teachers and a huge sci-fi fan was also outside monitoring the kids.

So I said to him, “Mr. Jone’s, I’m going right now to see the new Star Trek Movie.” “You’re going to be disappointed Father” he said; I said “Don’t tell me anything, I want to be surprized.” “You’ll see what I mean” he said.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed at all, the movie was for the most part a very entertaining, well put together film with good character’s lots of action and great special effects. And aside from one brief but very immodest scene, not morally objectionable for teens and over to see.

But I think I knew why a hard core Trekkie like Mr. Jones would be upset at the movie, and a few days later when I was over at the school and ran into Mr. Jones again, I found out I was correct in my assumptions.

Mr. Jones and some other Star Trek fans dislike the new film because it totally revises Star Trek History.

Without spoiling anything for those who haven’t seen it, in the new movie some major, life-changing events happen in the early lives of Kirk and Spock and the gang, events which are totally inconsistent with the original Star Trek series with the same character’s.

And as this new Star Trek is a huge hit, most probably there’ll be sequels made which will further revise Star Trek history.

Now, whether it’s wise or unwise to muddle the history of the fictional crew members of the Starship Enterprise is more a matter of opinion than morality.

But let us leave Cinema #5 where Star Trek is playing and pop our heads into Cinema #6, where Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons” is making it’s weekend debut to a packed audience.

This follow-up to the infamous DaVinci Code also not surprisingly tampers with historical facts, not as blasphemously as the DaVinci Code does, but still enough to warrant calling “Angels and Demons” an anti-Catholic piece of entertainment.

In this new film millions of people will flock to see this weekend, the Catholic Church is portrayed as being so historically opposed to scientific progress that in 1668 the Vatican tortured and killed four scientists as a warning to other scientists not to disagree with the Church.

In the novel which the movie is based on, Dan Brown goes so far as to say that the famous scientist Copernicus was (quote) “murdered by the Church for revealing scientific truths” (endquote).

All of this is baloney. Copernicus was never even criticized by the Church, let alone persecuted. On the contrary, Copernicus and countless other early scientists were encouraged and even funded by the Church hierarchy to further their scientific research.

“Angels and Demons” sadly perpetuates on a mass-media scale the anti-Catholic myth which the Church in America has had to combat since the founding of our country, the myth that Church history is full of scientists like Galileo who were tortured and/or silenced by Church hierarchy.

What history really shows is that Galileo is the one sad exception to an otherwise glowing record of the Catholic Church being one of the foremost patrons of modern science down through the ages.

But let’s leave Tom Hanks and the movie theater altogether and walk out into the real world we live in, and let us take a look at the even more disturbing revision of history going on in around us.

We see court houses and senate chambers throughout New England rashly going where no man has gone before.

Now Judges, Congressmen, and Governors in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts are trying to tell us that all this time, civilized humanity has been bigoted in restricting the institution of marriage to one man and one woman, all this time the pedestal of honor society has put marriage on has been in reality a shameful perpetuating of inequality and homophobia.  The institution of marriage has been all this while an evil institution which, like human slavery, we must progress beyond in this 21st century.

Certainly this is how our children’s history books will spin things in year’s to come if we continue down this path to legal recognition of gay marriage.

Finally, I’d like to leave past history and pseudo-history and conclude with history in the making.

For today is certainly one of the saddest, lowest days in the History of our Church in America, as Notre Dame University, one of the biggest and most prestigious Catholic Universities in our country, bestows an honorary doctorate to our President, a President who in his first 100 days of Office has started using your tax dollars and mine to pay for overseas abortions and to fund the destruction of innocent embryonic human beings in the name of scientific research, a President who is trying to deprive health care workers of their right not to cooperate in abortion or other immoral medical practices. <!– @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>

While we Catholic can and should certainly respect our President, and while a leader with views such as he holds could be invited under certain circumstances to give a talk at Catholic institutions, we Catholics can in no way bestow honors upon people who hold such anti-life views, and for Notre Dame University to bestow an honorary degree and the honor of giving a commencement address on such a pro-abortion figure is a grave scandal.

You know, President Obama right now has the ability to do something no president in the past 35 years has had the ability to do: With the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, President Obama has the ability to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion.

Imagine if Mr. Obama said to America at this time “I’m replacing Justice Souter with a Judge who will defend the inalienable, God given rights of all unborn children in this country from the moment of their conception on. In doing so, I’ll be tipping the scales of our Supreme Court in favor of overturning our countries greatest offense against humanity since the Dread Scott decision which upheld human slavery.”

Do that, Mr. President, and every believing Catholic in this country from the bishops on down will give you an honorary degree from every Catholic Institution in America, from Notre Dame to Providence College to Mt. St. Charles to Good Shepherd Catholic Regional.

But after today, what hope do we have for our non-Catholic President Obama to ever change his mind on abortion?  Should he ever in the future get the slightest twinge of conscience on what he’s doing to the least of Christ’s brethren, he can brush it away by saying to himself: “Notre Dame gave me an honorary degree, what could be so wrong about abortion?”

And this is the message we’re sending not only to our President, but to our children and to the young adults of our Church. Is it no wonder why the Catholic Church is shrinking in America?

May we not lose hope however. Jesus has not abandoned us, and Our Lady has not either. As Jesus says in today’s Gospel “If you love me by keeping my commandments, Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.”

Let us pray fervently to them, that our Country and our Church in this great land may, in the words of a famous Vulcan, continue to “live long and prosper,” and not die fast and flounder.