Archive for December, 2007

Homily — Immaculate Conception MMVII

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Homily — Immaculate Conception MMVII

You are all beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish to be found in you.

We read those words in the Old Testament Song of Songs.  King Solomon speaks them in reference to his bride whom he just married.  You are all beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish to be found in you.

But God intended there to be a much deeper meaning to this verse of inspired Scripture.  Certainly the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, spoke those same words the moment they created the soul of Mary in the womb of St. Anne.

You are all beautiful, my beloved Daughter, said God the Father, and there is no blemish to be found in you.

You are all beautiful, my beloved Mother, said God the Son, and there is no blemish to be found in you.

You are all beautiful, my beloved Spouse, said God the Holy Spirit, and there is no blemish to be found in you.

And the Most Holy Trinity desires that we too would honor and venerate their most beautiful of creatures.

After successfully tempting our Mother Eve, the devil never ceased to send his fallen angels to her and her children, saying to us “Hail, empty of God’s grace, the Lord has banished thee.”

But now for the first time since the fall, we hear see an angel of the Lord God say to Our Mother Mary “Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee.”

No longer are we merely “poor banished children of Eve,” deprived of sanctifying grace.  In the Immaculate Conception of the woman who will say “no” to the Serpent and “yes” to God, the dawn of our salvation begins to rise.

In 1847, in response to the request of Bishop Carrol, Blessed Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception the patroness of the United States.   It is very fitting that Mary be the patroness of our country under this title, because if there’s one thing our country prides itself the most on, it is freedom.   And freedom is the reason why God created Mary without stain of original sin and preserved her from all sin throughout her life.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #490, states “in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary” that she be Immaculately Conceived, “full of grace.”

Sin keeps us from being truly free, keeps us from fully seeing truth, from fully loving.  And while we don’t share in the singular gift of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, we share in the graces Mary receives from God, which Mary our Mother wishes to bestow on us to help us say “no” to temptation and “yes” to God.

May Mary the Immaculate Conception bring true freedom to our country, and may the grace of Christ her Son help us to say along with Him and the Father and the Holy Ghost: You are all beautiful virgin Mary, my beloved Queen and Mother, and there is no blemish, no stain of sin, to be found in you.

Pastor’s Letter on “The Golden Compass”

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Here is the letter I wrote in my parish bulletin on November 25 regarding the movie “The Golden Compass” being released tomorrow:

Next Sunday marks the beginning of Advent, the Season when the Church prepares for the coming of Christ. Unfortunately, this year the Church will need to prepare for the coming of the latest Antichrist, in the form of a truly diabolically disturbing, major Hollywood movie, geared for children.

The film, entitled “The Golden Compass,” stars Nicole Kidman and opens December 7 in theaters across the country. It is based on the first book of the “His Dark Materials” Trilogy written in the 1990’s by British author Philip Pullman. Two of the books in the Trilogy have actually won children’s literature awards in England.

Watching the trailer to the movie, one might think that “The Golden Compass” is just another children’s fantasy movie along the lines of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” I will let Mr. Pullman speak for himself as to what kind of story his Trilogy tells: “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief (through these books)”, he told the Washington Post in 2001; “My books are about killing God” he told the Sydney Herald. In the fantasy world of these books, the archenemy of humanity and freedom controlling the world is the “Church,” which is composed of a college of Cardinals, a college of Bishops, a Magisterium, priests and nuns. The God this Church worships and serves (“Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty”) is depicted as a liar and a creature. Here’s one quote from a “good” character in the book: “I used to be a nun you see. I thought physics could be done to the glory of God, till I saw there wasn’t any God at all and that physics was more interesting anyway. The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.” And all of this is written for children!

Supposedly, the upcoming movie is to be a very watered down version of the least anti-Catholic of the three novels. But children who go see “The Golden Compass” and enjoy it will want to read the books, which of course will be on sale everywhere for the Christmas buying season. And in no way are any of these intentionally blasphemous, atheistic books appropriate for children. Parents, get educated, get the word out, and steer your kids clear of this movie and book series. Steer them towards the wonderfully Christian and Catholic fantasy books and films of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien instead.

It looks like this Advent we will have all the more reason to fervently pray: “Maranatha — Come, Lord Jesus!”

God Bless, Fr. Woolley

Homily — First Sunday Advent A December 2, 2007

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Homily — First Sunday Advent A December 2, 2007

Mount Everest

Here we are in Advent! And in the First Reading, from the Prophet Isaiah (who we’re going to be hearing from every Sunday and almost every weekday in the Mass Readings), gives us this Advent Prophecy:

In days to come, the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established as the Highest Mountain, raised above all others.

Isaiah’s prophecy is that the Lord’s Mountain will one day be the Highest Mountain in the World, higher than Mount Everest. Mount Everest is 29,000 ft high, over ten times the size of the 2500 foot Mount Zion, the LORD’s Mountain of the Old Testament, atop which the city of Jerusalem resides.

But Isaiah isn’t referring to Mount Zion in this prophecy, he’s referring to Mount Jesus.

The fulfillment of the prophecy is Jesus, the true mountain of the Lord who has come into our world and has been established as the Highest Mountain, raised above all others.

There is no summit in this world higher than the summit which is Jesus Christ, the Son of God made Flesh. Jesus is higher than Everest, higher than the Himalayas, the Andes or the Rockies. All nations shall stream towards Him, many peoples shall come and say “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain.”

And in this Holy Season of Advent, Jesus invites you and me and everyone to climb up to the heights He lives on.

You know, Mount Everest, the highest mountain on earth after Jesus, can’t be scaled in one day. It takes at least three weeks to get to the top of it. And so we shouldn’t expect it to take less time getting to the summit of Mount Jesus. If we wait to the last minute to prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas, we’re not going to anywhere close to where Jesus wants us to be. That’s why the Church gives us Four Weeks of Advent. We need every day of these next four weeks to each day climb a bit higher, each day get a bit more closer to Jesus.

May we make sure that as we get closer to Christmas, we are ascending in our faith, and not descending into sin or despair. And so these next four weeks, as busy as they are, must also be for us days of prayer and reflection. The daily Mass readings, which are given in the bulletin each week, are excellent ways to climb higher in our faith.

We also should take the opportunity in Advent to make a good confession. I hope to have a penance service on Monday Evening December 17 with four priests available to hear confessions, I’ll let you know for sure next weekend. We also have confessions every Saturday morning after the 7:30 Mass and Saturday afternoons from Noon to 1 pm.

So let’s all make the resolution to start climbing this Highest of Mountains which is Jesus Christ, every day this Season of Advent. December 25 is coming like a thief in the night, it will be upon us before we know it, and these short Grace-filled weeks will be over. May we not get to Christmas day and realize we’ve wasted them, and are still way down in the valley, at the base of this enormous Mountain.

Rather, as the Psalmist says, Let us go rejoicing to the House of the Lord. Hope to see everyone, including myself, at the summit, where the Baby Jesus awaits us in the manger.