Archive for April, 2007

Homily — 4th Sunday of Easter C April 29, 2007

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Homily — 4th Sunday of Easter C April 29, 2007

Christ the Good Shepherd

In today’s Alleluia Verse we sing “I am the Good Shepherd says the Lord, I know my sheep and mine know me.”

We focus every year on this Fourth Sunday of Easter on Jesus the Good Shepherd.

The word for Shepherd in Latin is Pastor. I am the Good Pastor, says the Lord Jesus.

I’ve been reflecting much on Jesus the Good Pastor lately. I don’t know why!

Clearly, those who, like St. Peter in last week’s Gospel, are called by Christ to Feed and Tend His flock must take as their standard the example of Jesus.

I’d like this weekend as I prepare to become your Pastor to put forward Seven traits of Christ the Good Pastor as revealed in the Gospels. This is the kind of Pastor I will strive to be for you in the next six years. I know that in saying this, I sound like a politician making promises he never keeps, but I hope that isn’t the case! If you see me straying from this ideal, please feel free to point it out to me.

First off, the Good Pastor knows His sheep, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel. He doesn’t stay aloof from them, but is approachable, friendly, and available to them, especially to the young, the sick and the struggling.

I’m happy that over the past four years I’ve already come to know many of the families of our parish. I hope as Pastor that I’ll get to know you all even more.

And as Pastor I want to imitate Christ by continuing to be very involved with the youth of the parish and the school, to visit the sick and homebound, and to be available and approachable to all people of the parish.

The Gospels also show however, that while Christ was very available to people, He wasn’t always available. Which leads to the Second Trait: Jesus the Good Pastor always took time out each day to pray and have communion with God His Father.

And as Pastor, I want to continue to make top priority my daily prayer life: Holy Hour, the Breviary (the official daily prayers of the Church prayed by clergy and religious), and the Rosary (Daily Mass will of course be a given in this parish).

The third mark of Jesus the Good Pastor is His Simplicity of Life. Jesus chose to be born in a Manger and throughout His life he lived simply and not extravagantly. I’ve always tried to live simply and to be a wise steward of finances, and will continue to do so as Pastor please God.

The next three traits, four, five and six, are that Christ the Good Pastor is a Teacher in the Ways of Faith, Hope and Charity, a Moral Voice of Authority, and a Prophet who sometimes has to say unpopular or uncomfortable things that people nonetheless need to hear.

Please pray that I may especially be faithful in continuing to teach and explain the great truths of our Roman Catholic Faith in all their fullness, without ever watering them down or compromising them out of fear of being unpopular.

The seventh and final trait of Christ the Good Pastor is certainly the most important one of all: that is the Love He has for His sheep, even to the point of laying down His life for them.

Jesus loves them because as today’s Gospel says,
My Father . . . .has given them to Me.

The Good Pastor sees his flock as a great gift from God, and out of love for the Giver, He loves every one of them and lays down his life for them.

I thank God for the great gift of the priesthood, and now I also these days thank Him for the gift of serving Him and you as Pastor of St. Joseph Parish. May He give me the strength to love and serve you in imitation of the One Good Shepherd and Pastor of us all, Jesus His Son. God Bless.

Homily – 3rd Sunday of Easter April 22, 2007

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Homily – 3rd Sunday of Easter April 22, 2007

Jesus' Charge to St. Peter by William Morris Troutbeck

Follow me. Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep.

Peter in today’s Easter Gospel gets his call within a call, a second calling from Our Lord.

Peter’s first calling, many years before this one, was to become a disciple of Jesus. Today Peter, despite his past sins and present imperfections, receives a second calling. He is now to be, not only a disciple, but a Shepherd, a Pastor, of Christ’s flock.

It is very appropriate that we read of Peter’s new calling to become a Pastor this weekend. That is because this past week, our pastor Fr. Blain received a letter from Bishop Tobin announcing to him who the next pastor of St. Joseph Parish will be after he retires at the end of June. I have a copy of the letter here; Fr. Blain has asked me to tell you the news.

The letter from Bishop Tobin states that, effective July 1, 2007, your new pastor is a priest by the name of (I want to make sure I say his name correctly):

Father Michael James Woolley!!!!

While I will be your pastor officially beginning July 1, Bishop Tobin will come to our parish on Sunday, August 12 and at the 10 a.m. Mass solemnly install me as pastor. We will afterwards have a little reception in the School Auditorium. You are all invited!

Believe me when I tell you that becoming your Pastor is to me on the magnitude of a Second Calling from Christ. Sixteen years ago, when I was a senior at URI majoring in Civil Engineering, I heard Jesus first say Follow Me — follow me into the priesthood.

And today, I’m now hearing Him say “Michael, do you love Me? Then Feed and Tend my sheep of St. Joseph Parish — all 4,200 of them!”

And this is something that I greatly look forward to doing for the next 6 years. Feeding you with the Holy Eucharist, and with the other sacraments, and with the Word of God. Tending especially to the children and young people in the parish; tending to the sick, the grieving, those struggling in their faith. And as Shepherd and Pastor, it will also fall on me to Keep the “corral,” these Church buildings, in good condition.

I’ll have more to say in the weeks to come, but I want today to thank Bishop Tobin for allowing me the privilege to serve you.

I also want to thank Fr. Blain for his encouragement and support. I’ve been very blessed to have had two great pastors in my 8 years of priesthood, Fr. Blain and Fr. Donnelly my pastor at my first assignment at St. Mark’s Cranston. And although he’ll be living at another parish in the city, Fr. Blain will always be welcome back to say Masses (especially on Wednesday Mornings, my day off!).

I especially want to thank all of you who have been praying for me and the parish this past month. Please keep up the prayers!

And the final word of thanks is to St. Joseph, for answering my prayers. I want St. Joseph to know that my prayers for his help have only just begun these next 6 years!!

The last thing I want to say is that it’s been a wonderful preparation these past four years being your assistant pastor, and remember, I remain only the assistant for the next 2 months. So up until June 30, any serious problems or complaints, please see Fr. Blain!

May Jesus Christ be praised through His Mother, in the people and priests of St. Joseph Parish. God Bless You.

Homily — Divine Mercy Sunday MMVII April 15, 2007

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Homily — Divine Mercy Sunday MMVII        April 15, 2007

Divine Mercy Original Image

It’s appropriate that we are starting our Catholic Charity Fund appeal on Divine Mercy Sunday, because today’s Feast Day teaches us that while being charitable and merciful will cost us something, being charitable and merciful will reward us much more in return.

Being charitable and merciful cost Our Lord Jesus throughout His life, and in some ways the five wounds Jesus bore on the Cross on Good Friday were a summary of His life long sacrificial giving, a visible way of saying “He gave till it hurt.”

Jesus gladly “gave till it hurt” because he saw the many around Him who were more needy than He was.

And today, 8 days after Easter Sunday, we see those same five sacrificial wounds that hurt when Jesus gave of Himself on Good Friday — but now they cause Jesus no pain at all.

In fact, just the opposite:  those wounds now give Jesus the greatest feelings of pleasure to Him and to those around Him.  Rays of light shine forth from those glorified wounds.
The Divine Mercy Jesus exercised caused Him initial discomfort on Good Friday, but from Easter Sunday onward they only caused Him eternal joy and happiness.

And my brothers and sisters in Christ, it can be the same with us.   The Divine Mercy we show to the poor and needy in our midst will also cause us some discomfort.

Being merciful might not get us nailed in the hands, but it sure might get us a little nailed in the wallet, or maybe nailed down to spend a few hours of our free time doing some work of mercy to help the needy.

But those merciful sacrifices we make will eventually cause us the most joy, because the more charitable and merciful we are in this life, the more we will shine like Jesus in the next life and even starting in this life.

And we have a great opportunity upon us to exercise Divine Mercy through this year’s Catholic Charity Drive.   As you might know, Bishop Tobin is asking all of us to try to increase our gifts this year, he’s also hoping that those who haven’t given to the Charity Drive in the past 5 or 10 years will consider giving again to this worthy cause which helps so many people of all ages and classes and faiths in our Diocese.

He’s asking this, partly because our Diocese is actually below the national average in giving to Catholic Charities.   And you know, there are a lot of doubting Thomas’ in our Diocese who won’t believe unless they see the wounds — they won’t believe unless they see Catholics living a life a sacrifice.

May this great feast of Divine Mercy Sunday inspire us to more fully imitate the sacrificial Mercy of Jesus.  May we like Christ “give till it hurts”, so that afterwards those wounds Mercy has worked in us may be transformed and eternally glorified in us by the power of Christ’s Resurrection.

Homily — Easter Sunday MMVII April 8, 2007

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

Homily — Easter Sunday MMVII April 8, 2007

blessed fra angelico the women at the tomb

The empty tomb is truly empty of Jesus’ body, but it sure is full of spectators this Easter Sunday morning.

Behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to the women at the tomb, St. Luke tells us.

Last night after the Mass, a parishioner asked me “Father, who are those two men at the tomb?” I said, “I don’t know, but I think I’m going to preach about them tomorrow morning.”

And thinking about it later, I bet they are Moses and Elijah, coming back to check out what Jesus told them he’d be doing 40 or so days before at the Transfiguration.

But Moses and Elijah, and the Holy Women weren’t the only ones to high tail it to the tomb early that morning. Matter of fact, the three other Gospels give us three other groups of people whom the women bump into that first Easter.

In Matthew’s Gospel, there’s an Angel of the Lord, who causes a great earthquake and then rolls back the huge sealed stone and sits on it. Sounds like Michael the Archangel to me, but I could be wrong!

In John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene sees two angels in white sitting inside the tomb. Gabriel and Raphael, maybe??

And finally, St. Mark recounts one last person met by the Holy Women Easter Sunday morning at the tomb: a young man. . . .clothed in a white robe, who rumor has it is going to be the next pastor of St. Joseph Church Woonsocket!

Angels, young men, Holy Women, men in dazzling garments stand in wonder and awe at the empty tomb this Spring Morning — Jesus is Risen from the Dead!

Peter breaks away from his unbelieving friends, who think its all girlish nonsense, and he also runs to the tomb and sees and believes.

And in this Church, and in Churches throughout the world today, we the disciples of the Crucified and Risen Christ put on our dazzling garments and join alongside the two men and the young boy and the angels and women and Peter and proclaim with them that Christ has truly Risen from the Dead.

And the dazzling garments we wear aren’t so much the Easter Suits and Dresses we bought at the Mall. The real dazzling garments are the Faith Hope and Love Christ has clothed us with by our baptism.

Garments we’ve been shining up these past 40 days of Lent through prayer, fasting, alms giving, and meditating on His Passion.  And no matter how much mud the world throws on these garments, they can’t stain them, they only become more dazzling, as Christ’s own garment of flesh became dazzlingly beautiful on Easter Sunday.

These next 50 days of Easter, may the Risen Christ reveal Himself ever more fully to us.  A blessed Easter to you and your family.

Homily – Good Friday MMVII

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

Homily – Good Friday MMVII

Holy Face

Homily — Good Friday MMVII April 6, 2007

From the Old Testament Song of Songs, Chapter 8:

(The Bride says to her Bridegroom) set me as a seal on your heart . . . for (Your) Love is stronger than death, . . . .its flames are a blazing fire. Deep waters cannot quench (Your) love, nor floods sweep it away.

We call this day Good Friday, because on this day Jesus proves that His Love is stronger than death.

For despite all the trials Jesus undergoes on this day, the Love in Christ’s Sacred Heart for us and for His Father does not dim one bit, it remains a blazing fire.

On this Day, Christ’s love was tested in every way possible. He endures the physical pain of being scourged from head to toe, then being crowned with sharp thorns, then being nailed to a Cross.

But through it all, Jesus still loves those who do this to Him; He still trusts that His loving Father will deliver Him.

On this Day, Jesus suffers the emotional pain of being betrayed by one close friend, being disowned by another even closer friend, and being abandoned by almost every other friend. On top of that, He’s is also treated unjustly by both His religious and political leaders, and rejected by His own people, who prefer the murderous revolutionary, Barabbas, over Him.

But through all that, Jesus still holds immense love for those who are doing this to Him; He still trusts that His loving Father will bring great good out of it all.

And finally, worst of all, on this Day, Jesus the Son of God suffers the spiritual pain caused by my sins and your sins, past, present and future. He feels every injustice, every betrayal, every sin of omission we have committed more painfully to His being than any physical torture He’s going through.

But even through all that, Jesus still loves me, still loves you; still sees the image of God His loving Father deep within our beings. He suffers His passion to restore that Image and Likeness in us.

We call today Good Friday, my brothers and sisters, because before this day, Death and Sin were stronger than Human Love, but after this day, Human Love transformed by Christ shows itself stronger than Sin and Death.

Sweet Jesus, set me, set us all as a seal on Your Heart, so that Your love, which is stronger than death or any other trial I may face in this life, may be a blazing fire which carries me through the Crosses of my life.