Archive for July, 2007

Homily — 17th Sunday Ordinary Time C July 29, 2007

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Homily — 17th Sunday Ordinary Time C July 29, 2007

(Note:  above is a picture of Lake Sysladobsis, Maine, where I stayed on my vacation last month)

Lord, teach us to pray . . . .

With summer almost half way over, many of us are well into our summer reading lists.

Whether we’re going off on a week’s vacation, or just taking a day trip to the beach, packing a good book is just as essential as packing sun screen for most people.

And on my recent vacation to Northern Maine with five other priests from different parts of the country, I notice that four out of the six of us either had read or were reading the same book.

No, not Harry Potter! Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth was the number one beach bag book for us priests!

While I wouldn’t call it light summer reading, it’s not heavy reading either.

And the book has a whole 40 Page Chapter on the Lord’s Prayer.

You know, any literate person can say the Our Father, but that doesn’t mean they can pray it.

In a way, life is all about learning to pray that Lord’s Prayer.

And so Pope Benedict, in his chapter on the Our Father, wisely begins by first teaching us what prayer is, and then how to pray in general. That’s what I’d thought I’d focus on today.

What is Prayer? Prayer, says the Pope, is “being in silent, inward communion with God.”

What a great definition!

Prayer isn’t acting, it’s Being — the essence of being human
Prayer is Being Silent-be still and know that I am God
and it is Inward Communion with God
— God dwells in us and we dwell in God.

But while prayer is being in silent inward communion with God, we fallen humans can’t sustain this silent communion without some help.

Our prayer needs to be nourished by pictures, by written and vocal words, by our thoughts and our imagination.

Next, Benedict says that the more we already have God in our life going into prayer, the more He will be present to us in our prayer time.

But the great thing about prayer is that even if we aren’t close to God when we start praying — even if we are separated from him by sin, prayer will draw us closer to God’s presence again.

**This is one of the points of the parable in today’s Gospel: the man outside the house represents the person far away from God, locked out, asking to come in; while the children asleep with their Father are those who are close to the Heart of God.

Finally, Pope Benedict concludes his little teaching on how to pray by saying two things about the content of our prayer.

He first says that the best prayer comes from the heart of the person praying. Personal Prayer should spontaneously arise from “our needs, our hopes, our joys, our sufferings, our shame over sin, and our gratitude” for God’s goodness.

But secondly, prayer from the heart is not enough. Prayer also needs to be from a heart inspired by the Holy Spirit of Christ.

St. Paul says “we do not know how to pray as we ought.” Without the Holy Spirit, our pray is self-centered, not Christ centered.

And this, Benedict says, is where the written Prayers of the Church come in.

The challenge of prayer is to take those written prayers of the Church and make them our own prayers.

The greatest written prayers of the Church are the 150 Psalms of the Old Testament. They’re the greatest because Jesus as God wrote those 150 Psalm-Prayers before He came to earth, and after He became man he Prayed them up every day till the very hour He died! The Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph, and every saint also took the Psalms as their favorite daily prayer book.

And the Church has a treasure house full of beautiful, inspiring prayers that have stood the test of time:

the Rosary and other ancient Marian prayers; the Stations of the Cross; prayers to the Sacred Heart and the Holy Spirit.

and then there are famous prayers that saints have written: St. Ignatius, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Thomas Aquinas for example, all wrote prayers that have been translated into English.

The Venerable Cardinal, John Newman wrote beautiful prayers in the English language; and St. John Vianney and St. Therese wrote beautiful ones in French.

The more we become familiar with some of these prayers, making them our own and praying them from the heart, the more Christ-like our prayer will become.

And so, as we do our best these hot days of summer to stay cool and get some well deserved rest, may we take time out in between chapters of our favorite summer read, and spend some quality time each day asking, seeking, knocking, . . . and then “being in silent, inward communion with God.”

Homily — 16th Sunday Ordinary Time C July 22, 2007

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Homily — 16th Sunday Ordinary Time C        July 22, 2007

Martha, Martha. . . .

There’s a bit of the Martha Martha in every one of us, a part of us that is anxious and worried about many things.

Anxious and worried about the future, about finances or health, about a loved one, about what people are thinking of us.

There was even a bit of the Martha Martha in her sister Mary, as we see later in another passage in John’s Gospel.  Mary becomes so anxious and worried over her brother Lazarus’ death that see initially refuses to see Jesus when He comes to console her.

Martha, Martha, there’s a bit of you in all of us.

And therefore, Jesus’ words to Martha are addressed to us as well.

You are anxious and worried about many things(;)
There is need of only one thing.

And that only one thing is to know the incredible love and care that I the Lord have for you, at every moment.

On that same occasion of her brother Lazarus’ death, Jesus reminded Martha of that only one thing needed, when He told her I am the Resurrection and the Life;  whoever believes in Me, even if he die — even if he or she has great reason to be anxious and worried about many things — will have the fullness of life.

And Jesus concluded that statement by asking her, “Do you believe this, Martha?”

And Martha, Martha said to Jesus that day, “Yes Lord, I have come to believe in the only one thing that’s needed.

I have come to believe that you are the Christ, . . . .who has come into the world. I have learned, since first I met you, to bring all my many anxieties and worries to you each day, placing them before your Pierced Feet.

“I have learned to each day come to you in prayer so that I may take up your yoke and learn from you, and I have found rest for my soul by doing so.

“I, Martha, have learned to choose the better part, and it shall not be taken from me, so help me Jesus.”

Through this Eucharist we today celebrate, may Christ help all of the Martha, Martha’s in us to also choose the better part.

On Vacation

Monday, July 9th, 2007

I am away on vacation until the 20th of July.  No updates to the site until then!

God Bless, Fr. Woolley

Summorum Pontificum – Full Translation

Monday, July 9th, 2007

first mass of a newly ordained priest of the Fraternity of St. Peter

In case you are wondering what the Pope’s recent Moto Proprio allowing the use of the old form of Mass (in Latin) says, you can read an unofficial English translation in pdf format at the US Bishop’s website by clicking here.

(Note that many websites don’t have the full translation, as the official English Translation of the Moto Proprio gives only the norms and omits the introduction.)

Homily — 14th Sunday Ordinary Time C July 8, 2007

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

Homily — 14th Sunday Ordinary Time C July 8, 2007

Isaiah by Michelangelo

In Jerusalem you shall find your comfort, Isaiah the Prophet tells us in the First Reading.

The Old Testament prophets, of course, are frequently seen prophesying the coming of Christ. But St. Augustine teaches us that the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah more frequently prophesied the coming of Christ’s Church.

And the (Roman) Catechism tells us that when the prophets speak of Jerusalem, they are usually speaking of the Church Jesus would establish in the distant future.

And so Isaiah says that In this new Jerusalem, In the Church, you shall find your comfort.

And how time and again do we experience the fulfillment of that great prophecy. How much comfort there is to be found in the Church of Christ!

The Christian has the comfort for instance of knowing that he or she is a child of God, redeemed by the Precious Blood of His Son. God is our Father! Jesus is our Brother! We are Temples of the Holy Spirit! How comforting and assuring are these truths.

The comfort of having faith. How would we get through the tough times of our life without our faith to carry us through them?

In the new Jerusalem which is the Church, we also find the comfort of the Sacraments:

Jesus present to us in the Eucharist, here in our midst 24/7 in the tabernacle;

Jesus forgiving our sins in the Sacrament of Penance;

and Jesus strengthening us & our sick loved ones in the Anointing of the Sick, or giving us or them the Last Rites;

In the new Jerusalem of the Church we find the great comfort of our Mother Mary, given to us from the Cross by Jesus.

And then, how very comforting are the many devotions of the Catholic Church: the Holy Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, the Brown Scapular, Divine Mercy, the Sacred Heart, & so so many more.

The comfort of feast days and fast days: Christmas, Easter, Holy Week, Advent & Lent.

And then in the New Jerusalem which is the Church, we find what I think Isaiah meant by the wealth of nations: the Saints, human beings like us from every nation and age, who struggled with what we struggle with and who were victorious. How comforting it is to know that the saints are with us as we fight the good fight of faith!

And finally, how comforting it is to have the Pope and the perennial Teachings of the Church. How comforting it is to have priests we call father, nuns we call mother and sister, monks and friars we call brother.

How comforting it is to have a parish to come to each weekend to worship God in and to raise our children in.

Yes Isaiah, you were exactly right when you prophesied that in Jerusalem we shall find our comfort.

But may we who love our faith remember two things:

1) First, our faith may be comfort-ing, but it’s not always comforta-ble.

As St. Paul says, God forbid that we should boast in anything but the Cross of Jesus Christ, though which we have been crucified to the world with all its false allurements.

We can never become comfortable with our faith, but must always be ready to bear the Cross when it comes.

2) And secondly, while we have been blessed to have found comfort in our faith, so many people in the world have yet to find the comfort of knowing Christ and his Church.

The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few. Even in Jesus’ day there was a shortage of vocations. We must pray fervently and ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.

If we don’t pray for laborers, especially full time ones, priests and religious vocations, that abundant harvest of souls for Christ will rot away out there in the field.

So as we come before Christ in this Eucharist, we thank Him for all the many ways He comforts us through His Church.

May He spread prosperity over His New Jerusalem like a river, so that our hearts will rejoice, our bodies flourish like the grass, and so that the Lord’s power will be known to His Servants.