Archive for the ‘Most recently preached 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 – Mary, Mother of God MMXI 1/1/11

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Homily – Mary, Mother of God MMXI 1/1/11

Today when we write out the date we will put 1-1-11.

And today the Church honors a person who is number one in every way: #1 saint, #1 human being, #1 woman, #1 creature even higher than all the angels, #1 disciple, #1 enemy of Satan, #1 friend, #1 mother: Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother.

During Holy Week, it is a traditional practice to reflect on the Seven Last Words of Christ – those seven statements Jesus made while hanging on the Cross for Three Hours on Good Friday.

Jesus spoke Seven times from the Cross, but Mary speaks only Seven times in the whole of Sacred Scripture. So as we end one Year of Grace and begin a New Year, let us briefly look at those Seven Words of our Mother Mary and see what they can teach us.

The first Word we hear Mary say in Sacred Scripture is at the Annunciation: How can this be, since I am a virgin?

Immediately we see Mary as a woman caught up in the Wonder of God. Mary is amazed that God is doing such awesome things through such a young humble virgin as her. Throughout her life, Mary never lost that childlike wonder for God and Creation: How can this be that God is so good to me?

Mary teaches us that we too should be caught up in a childlike wonder over God’s nearness to us and over how He works in and through our lives.

The second Word Mary says, also at the Annunciation, is Behold, I am the handmaid, the servant, of the Lord.

Whatever God wants me to do, no matter what it is, I will do it. Mary teaches us obedience to God and Christian service to God and neighbor.

The third Word Mary says is FiatLet it be done to me according to God’s word.

Not only will I do anything for God as His servant, I will let God do anything to me – I will let God pour His Holy Spirit upon me, I will let God make His Son be born in me, I will let God give me special gifts that He wants me to use, I will even accept as coming from His permissive Will sufferings and crosses if that is in accordance with God’s mysterious plan.

May our Mother Mary teach us to also say Fiat – be it done to me according to God’s Word.

The fourth Word of Mary, appropriately right at the center of her seven words to us, is not a Word but a Song from the depths of her being – Magnificat! – My Soul Magnifies the Lord . . . for He that is Mighty has done great things for me, and Holy is His Name!

Mary magnified and praised God for the great things God did for her, and she teaches us, who too often magnify our worries and trials, to also reflect on God’s goodness to us.

The fifth Word Mary says in the Scriptures is at the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple: “Son, why have you done this to us? In sorrow your father and I have been seeking you.”

Mary, the Mother of God, prayed “God, why are you doing this to me?” Mary, God’s Mother, lost Jesus for a time. Mary experienced bitter sorrow in life, even though she was sinless and had the greatest Son and Husband in the world.

Here Mary teaches us that life will have it’s sorrows and crosses, and at times Jesus will even hide from us, will even appear to have abandoned us, but if we keep seeking after Him we will find Him in an even deeper and joyful way than before.

The sixth Word Mary says is at the Wedding at Cana: They have no more wine.

Mary asks Jesus her Son to give this young couple the wine that they are in need of.

And Mary our Mother is constantly up there in Heaven, looking down on us and saying Jesus, this disciple of yours needs more grace, this other one needs this grace, that one needs this other grace – give them the grace they need my Son!

And just as Jesus, at his mother’s request, gives them not just a normal amount of ordinary wine, but an abundance of the best of wine, so Jesus at Mary’s request gives us an abundance of the best of graces for us to serve Him with and get to heaven.

It’s interesting that this married couple didn’t just invite Jesus to their wedding, they invited Jesus and His Mother Mary. And if they had invited just Jesus and not Mary, Jesus wouldn’t have worked the miracle!

May you and I and all Christians be sure to invite Mary into our lives as well as Jesus, so that she can obtain many special graces for us we wouldn’t otherwise receive.

The seventh and final Word of Mary is also from the wedding feast of Cana. They were said right at the moment when Jesus was going to work His first public miracle and thereby begin His three year public ministry which would culminate in His death and resurrection.

As such, these final words were said by Mary on the day that Her Son, who had lived for thirty years under her roof, who had shared such an intimate love and life with her up until then, was now leaving home for good, and going forth into the world to save mankind.

Mary’s famous last words as she gave her Son Jesus to the world were: Do whatever He tells you.

And that is Mary’s words to us today as we begin a New Year: Do whatever He tells you. Every day take the time to listen to Him speak to you, in prayer, in the Scriptures, at Church on Sunday, in the teachings of His Bride the Catholic Church, and Do whatever He tells you.

Do this, Mary says, and you will have a year of growth in faith hope and love; a year filled with grace and lasting peace.

Homily 18th Sunday OT C 8-1-10

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Homily 18th Sunday OT C             8/1/10

Vanity of vanities, says Quoheleth,

Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity!”

The Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes is one long, extended meditation on how vain – in other words, how empty, how unsatisfying and how superficial – this world we live in is.

Quoheleth searches high and low in the world, and comes to the conclusion that “all things are vanity” and “vexation of spirit” or wearisome to the spirit of man.

Quoheleth first tries to escape from this emptiness in pleasures of the flesh, but after doing so, he found this even more empty, vain and unsatisfying. Then he tries to drink his emptiness away with wine and alcohol; neither does this satisfy him.

Then he tries to laugh away his emptiness with jokes and entertainment, but even this he finds unsatisfying and shallow, his spirit now more restless than ever.

So next, Quoheleth tries to find meaning in his work. He says “I undertook great works; I built myself houses and planted vineyards . . . . gardens and parks, I constructed reservoirs, and acquired servants to work under me, and became the richest and wisest person in all the land”

“But when I turned to all the works that my hands had wrought . . . . behold! All was vanity,” and “wearying to my spirit.”

Lastly, he tries to find satisfaction in science and learning, becoming the wisest man in all the land. But even the pursuit of knowledge left him just as empty and unsatisfied as an uneducated person.

And so Quoheleth sadly concludes that “There is nothing new under the Sun,” that everything under the Sun is old, and weary and unsatisfying. “Even the thing which people say ‘Wow, this is new and exciting’ has been done before, it’s the same old same old.”

And really, this inspired message of this Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes could not be more relevant in our time.

How many Quoheleth’s there are in our world today, how the Quoheleth mentality tempts the best of us, how many young, old, and middle aged men and women today are chasing after things of the world, even things good and virtuous in themselves, trying to find ultimate happiness, contentment, and satisfaction, and coming too late to the conclusion: “Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity!”

The Bible does not lie, the hard truth is, that all things in this fallen world, even legitimate pleasures, are vain and empty. The harsh reality is, that “there is nothing new under the sun,” nor will there ever be, but all remains old and tired and dull, for our world apart from God is fallen.

But while the Bad News of the is that there is nothing new under the Sun, the Good News of is that now, there is and forever will be something new above the Sun.

For high above the Sun, high above this vain and empty world of fleeting pleasures and lasting affliction, there now sits Our Lord Jesus on His Glorious Throne, still as young, and as strong, and as manly as ever for these past 2000 years.

And Jesus says to us here on earth, “behold, I make all things New for those who turn from the vanity of this world, embrace the Cross, and follow after me.”

And that’s not all that is “new” above the Sun. For standing at the Right Hand of Jesus, radiant in beauty, eternally youthful in Her glorified body and soul, is Mary, the ever Virgin, Queen of Peace, and full of graces which she showers down in abundance upon those who strive to follow Her Son.

St. Paul tells us therefore to “seek what is above . . . .not what is on earth. For in Baptism you have died to this world and it’s vain pleasures, and your life is now hidden with Christ.”

It is the great paradox of Christianity, which is as relevant today as it ever was, that the key to joy and fulfillment and happiness is to embrace a life of self-denial, of simplicity in our lifestyles, of a radical, counter-cultural chastity in body and mind, of an even more radical forgiveness towards one’s enemies, and of generosity to the poor.

And so, you and I must choose each day whether we will chase after Vanity, or follow the Way of Jesus.   If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

At every Mass, at the Preface before the Holy Holy, the priest says “Lift up your hearts” and the people respond “We lift them up to the Lord”

May the grace of the Holy Eucharist enable us to not harden, but truly lift up our hearts and minds and bodies high above this vain and unsatisfying world; may it enable us to die to this world, and live each day of our life in the Kingdom, by the power of the New, Eternally Youthful Holy Spirit of Jesus our Risen and Ascended Lord.

Homily – 17th Sunday OT C 7/25/10

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Homily – 17th Sunday OT C 7/25/10

The Importunate Neighbour by William Holman Hunt, 1895

Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel Ask and you will receive – Ask in prayer, and you will receive what you pray for.

This is one of those passages where we might be tempted to think the Bible is wrong.

Probably most if not all of us have asked God for things in prayer, and haven’t received them.

Sometimes it even seems like God’s sending us snakes and scorpions instead of the Fish and Eggs we ask Him for.

So what’s the problem? Why do we many times not seem to get what we pray for?

The problem is that Jesus didn’t say “Ask and you will receive, period.” There’s more to the sentence: What he said was “Ask and you will receive, Seek and you will find, Knock, and the door will be opened to you.”

Asking, Seeking and Knocking, are like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they are inseparable from each other when it comes to prayer.

In other words, Jesus says to us, “Ask for anything in prayer, and God will answer you – but you need to go seek God out to get it! He’s not going to bring it to you, He wants you to come get it from Him. Seek, and you will find. And the only way to God is through the narrow gate, and up the narrow road.

And once we have finished this seeking, once we’ve got off the wide road that leads to destruction and climbed up that narrow path of holiness which leads to life, even after all that seeking, then we have to knock on God’s door to please come out and give us the answer to our prayer. And nine times out of ten, God won’t open the door on the first or second knock.

Then and only then, will we obtain from our Heavenly Father what we have prayed for, and we will appreciate it all the more because of the effort it took to get it.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, prayer isn’t as simple and easy as it looks. To become a master at prayer, to pray effectively, takes great effort on our part.

Take a close look at the parable Jesus gives us on prayer.

This man goes out at midnight, not to the neighbor next door, but miles away to his friends house to ask His friend to help him.

And back in Jesus’ day, the man wouldn’t have just hopped in his car, drove down a paved road all lit up with street lights, and got there in a couple of minutes.

This man would have rather set out on foot, in the dark, down dirt roads and paths, with only a lantern to light his way.

He would have to be concerned about bad weather, biting insects, wild animals, and thieves as he made his way in the night to his friends house.

But the man in the parable willingly made that difficult journey, and didn’t turn back, because one, he cared greatly for his needy friend and would do anything for him, and two, the man knew that the friend he was journeying to would give him the help that nobody else could give.

Jesus is teaching us in this parable that to pray well takes the same love for others, the same faith in God’s power to answer our prayers, the same sacrifice of time and comfort, the same courage to turn away from sin and to seek the dark narrow way of holiness which leads to God, the same persistence in knocking on God’s door until He answers us.

Through this Holy Eucharist may Our Lord give us the grace to keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking, until God throws the door wide open and pours out His Holy Spirit in abundance upon us and those we pray for.

Homily — 30th Sun. OT 80th Anniversary Weekend 10/25/09

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Homily — 30th Sun. OT 80th Anniversary Weekend 10/25/09


Original Church 1929


Current Church 2009

The Lord has done great things for us,

We are filled with joy!

Today’s first reading and psalm speak of the joy the Israelites had when they were able to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem after the Exile.

Even Jeremiah, usually a pretty grim, doom and gloom prophet, is bursting with happiness at seeing God’s Temple go up, as he says in the first reading: Thus says the LORD: Shout with joy, proclaim your praise and say “The LORD has delivered His people!” Behold, (now) I (the LORD) will gather them . . . . the blind and the lame, mothers and those with child, an immense throng.

(Now) I will console and guide them, I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road so that none (of them) shall stumble.

Today’s readings are most appropriate for us, as we rejoice, as we celebrate this weekend the 80th Anniversary of the building of this Temple of God, St. Joseph Church Woonsocket.

The story of the birth of our parish goes back to the mid 1920’s. Our wonderful parish historian, Raymond Bacon, has for over 30 years chronicled our parish history, and as the current Pastor I’d like to take the opportunity to thank him for his excellent work, just a little of which I will share with you in this homily.

In the late 1920s, this area of East Woonsocket was rapidly changing from a rural farmland to a populace suburb. The population of Woonsocket had doubled since the turn of the century, and St. Anne’s Parish which then included East Woonsocket was bursting at the seams.

In July of 1926, at the request of East Woonsocketers who felt a strong need for a parish in their growing corner of the city, the Bishop of Providence, Bishop Hickey, purchased 6 acres of land from Elmer and Edwin Jillson, which is the present site of St. Joseph Parish. The cost of the whole 6 acres: $23,000 – less money than it cost to repair our steeple this past summer!

Two and a half years later, the Bishop gave permission for a new parish to be founded. The Reverend Joseph F. Dumont, a curate at St. Anne’s, was appointed Pastor of the still unbuilt parish on Friday, July 12, 1929.

But Fr. Dumont wasted no time getting things moving. As Ray Bacon tells it in his history: “On Tuesday afternoon, July 16, work was begun on the new Church. As if inspired by their patron saint, some fifty men, under the direction of Mr. Aime Lefebvre, gave of their time, their talent and their labor, and successfully completed the Church in time for the following Sunday, July 21 1929.”

“The original structure was 80 feet long, 30 feet wide, and had a seating capacity of some 500 people” (And I’m happy to say, we continue to this day to be blessed with people in the parish who work hard in that same spirit of sacrifice – the building committee, food cupboard workers, bingo volunteers, liturgy committee, 50/50 Club, choir, and so many others)

On that Sunday, July 21, 1929, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated for the very first time at St. Joseph’s Parish, and Jesus our Lord took up residence in the Tabernacle, where He has happily lived for the past 80 years.

The Lord has done great things for us

We are filled with Joy!

Filled with Joy, over the thousands of people who were born again of water and the Holy Spirit from this Baptismal Font.

Filled with Joy for the many holy vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life and married life that have been nurtured from our parish.

Filled with Joy that over these past 80 years, countless men and women have been nourished with the Eucharist, reconciled to God through the Sacrament of Penance, healed and consoled by Jesus through the anointing of the sick, and honored with Christian burial when their earthly pilgrimage ended, all here at our parish.

Filled with Joy, that 80 years later, in 2009 we now worship God in this beautifully renovated Church building (with one of the best Steeples in Woonsocket!); and our Catholic School and Public School children are getting taught the faith in a equally impressive, solidly built school building.

But the greatest thing by far the LORD has done for us, my brothers and sisters, the thing we are most filled with joy about, is that the Faith our ancestors built this parish upon remains strong in the hearts of those who come to Mass here each week.

Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, the Foster Son of St. Joseph, continues to be the Lord of our Hearts,

Jesus Christ continues to be made known through the lives of so many faith filled parishioners.

May St. Joseph our Patron, and Mary his Immaculate Spouse continue to shower these blessings from their Son down on us, as we celebrate this weekend, and for many many years to come.