Archive for January, 2008

Homily — 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time A Jan 27, 2008

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Homily — 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time A             Jan 27, 2008

We see in the readings today, Our Lord Jesus beginning to proclaim “The Gospel of the Kingdom“.

Matthew says He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

This “Gospel” Jesus proclaimed would have been something totally different from anything that the people would have previously heard.   Even the very word “Gospel” would have been strange sounding to the people of Galilee, coming from a religious figure like Jesus.   They would have said “The Gospel?  What’s the Gospel got to do with our religion?  Moses never spoke about a Gospel, the Psalms or the Prophets never spoke about a Gospel.  Where does He get that from?”

In fact, the only person who spoke of a Gospel before Jesus and John the Baptist was the Roman Emperor.

The Emperor in Jesus’ day saw himself as a god and a savior of his people.  And from time to time, the Emperor would issue what was called an evangelium, the Latin word for Gospel, which was a decree from “god the Roman Emperor” which would have to be followed by all his subjects.

As he considered himself a god, these Gospels the Emperor issued were considered, by him at least, to be ushering in a better world than before.

More often than not however, these Gospels would be decrees which raised taxes, forced young men into military service, or declared war on some smaller and weaker country.

So these Gospels were not exactly what you would call “Good News.”  And most of the time these Gospels issued by the Emperor made the world a much worse place to live in, rather than a better place.

But it’s this same word “Gospel” that Jesus choses to use to describe his teaching.   However, whereas the Roman Emperor thought he was god but really wasn’t, Jesus thinks He’s God and really is.

And therefore, unlike the Roman Emperor’s “Gospels”, Jesus’ Gospel always does make the world an easier place to live in, for those who accept it.   For Emperor Jesus in today’s Scriptures decrees a Gospel which is a Kingdom of Hope, of Mercy, of Wisdom, and of Charity come to earth in the hearts and lives of those who believe in Him.

But in order for this Gospel of Jesus to take root, we need to be schooled in it.  We see in the reading today Jesus went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people..

Jesus spent a great deal of His time teaching people the ways of God, so that they would be able to embrace His Gospel and find healing.

We observe this weekend throughout our country Catholic Schools Sunday. At the 10 a.m. Mass this weekend, the school children from Good Shepherd Catholic Regional School next door will do the readings and serve at the altar, and the student choir of 45 children will supply the music.

And Catholic education needs to be mainly about training our children and young people in the ways of God — teaching them the wonderful doctrines of our Catholic Faith, teaching them the moral laws Christ and His Church give us to live by, teaching them how to pray and worship God, both publicly through the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, and privately through personal prayer and devotions such as the Holy Rosary.

I’m happy to say that our  Catholic Regional School system, of which Good Shepherd is a part of, places a strong emphasis on the Faith aspect of the education of students, at the same time keeping a high standard in the other areas of education.

Because Catholic Schools have a very vital important mission in our Church.

When St. Elizabeth Seton, one of the first canonized American born saints, started the Catholic School system in America, she said that Catholic Schools “are of the greatest importance for the propagation and preservation of the Catholic faith in the United States.”

St. Elizabeth Seton’s belief was that if Catholic schools weren’t strong, the Catholic Faith wouldn’t spread to other people in this country; and if Catholic schools weren’t strong, neither would the Catholic Faith survive in this country.

That is because just as it was in Jesus’ day, if people aren’t taught well the Gospel, there’s no way that they can be able to fully embrace the Gospel and benefit from it.

On this Catholic Schools Sunday, let us ask St. Elizabeth Seton’s and St. Don Bosco’s and all the other great Catholic educators to intercede for our Catholic schools in Rhode Island and America today, and may we do all we can to support the mission of Catholic Education of our youth.

2nd Sunday Ordinary Time A January 20, 2008

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

I didn’t preach this weekend – we had our diocesan vocations director preach at all the Masses on vocations.

See you next week!

Homily — Baptism of the Lord MMVIII Jan. 13, 2008

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Homily — Baptism of the Lord MMVIII            Jan. 13, 2008

The Church has from ancient times celebrated Jesus’ Baptism as an adult only a few weeks after celebrating his birth at Christmas, even though there is a span of 30 years between the two events in the Gospel.

And while at first, the two feasts might not seem to have that much in common, if we look closer we see how appropriate it is to celebrate them one after the other.

For at Christmas, Christ is born a man; at the Baptism Christ is re-born, Sacramentally.

At Christmas, we see the Mother of Jesus in Silent Wonder looking down at her new born Son as He lies in the Manger;

At the Baptism, we “see” the Father of Jesus, not Silent but for the first time in the whole New Testament Speaking in praise of His Son as He comes up from the Water; this is my beloved Son, listen to Him.

At Christmas, we see the Magi opening up their treasures before Jesus, never to take back the gifts they give Him.

At the Baptism, we see God the Father opening up the Gates of Heaven for Jesus and us His disciples, never to shut them again, and never to take back His gift of the Holy Spirit.

And from the Baptism of Jesus on, every Baptism is a second Christmas, because at every Baptism Jesus is sacramentally born again in the hearts and minds of the newly baptized Christian.

And just as in the Incarnation, God’s Eternal Son, the Second Person of the Trinity sealed Himself indelibly to a human soul and body in the Person of Jesus Christ, so in the Sacrament of Baptism, you and I are sealed indelibly with the love of God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the section on Baptism, speaks about this Seal of Baptism:

1272  Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.  Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated. . . .

1273 . . . .  (This) baptismal seal enables and commits Christians to serve God by a vital participation in the holy liturgy of the Church and to exercise their baptismal priesthood by the witness of holy lives and practical charity.

But while we are sealed with the love of Christ at Baptism, the gift we are given at Baptism is just like the baby Jesus — we must care, nurture, feed and protect it in order for it to grow to maturity.

On this Feast of the Lord’s Baptism, may we give thanks to Jesus for being born for us a Baby in Bethlehem on Christmas, and especially for being born again in us on the Day we were brought to the Font and Baptized in Christ.

Homily — Epiphany MMVIII Jan. 6, 2008

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Homily — Epiphany MMVIII                Jan. 6, 2008

Today the Church throughout the world, from the East to the West, solemnly celebrates the Epiphany or Manifestation of the New Born Christ to the Magi.

Today, the first of many countless Magi, who will come down through the centuries, rejoice at seeing the star right over the place they had been searching for.

For from this day forward, men and women from every race, ethnicity, and country, who, like the Magi, are highly educated, and financially prosperous, and whose names are well respected among their people,     who like the Magi are leaders in their communities,

These men and women also are called by a tiny light — the light of faith — to set out on a journey which ultimately brings them to the House of Jesus and Mary His Mother — the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church —  there to prostrate themselves before Jesus, and offer Him all that they have to give.

Many of these Magi, past and present, have had to make a long, difficult and even dangerous journey in order to arrive at their destination.

And while some have more challenging or exciting journeys than others, each and every Magi that follows the star all the way to the House where Mary and Jesus resides always leaves that house the way the first Magi did:  they depart for their country by another way; As the Gospel says.

They return to their pagan, unbelieving countries by another way, for the former way they had of worshiping the false gods of those around them no longer appeals to them.

They return to using their great wealth, their vast knowledge and learning, and their positions of authority by another way, for now they put all these talents and treasures at the service of Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

On this great Feast of the Epiphany, may you and I take our place alongside the wise Magi, the wise shepherds, and the wise sheep, and oxen and donkeys, and offer all we have to the Newborn King and God of all peoples and nations and ages.

Homily — Mary Mother of God MMVIII 1-1-08

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

Homily — Mary Mother of God MMVIII        1-1-08

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Today we see our Blessed Mother reflecting on all that happened to her the past year.  Reflecting on her marriage to St. Joseph, on the Annunciation the Archangel Gabriel made to her that she would be the Mother of God.   Reflecting on the Holy Spirit’s overshadowing her, on her virginal conception, and how for nine months she carried in her womb the God Man.   Reflecting on her Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, and on her surprise trip to Bethlehem with Joseph, and finally on the  miraculous Birth of her Son, Jesus, in the Manger at Bethlehem.

All these things, all these blessings of God over the past year, Mary kept and reflected upon in her heart.

We too should certainly take some time in prayer this New Year’s, reflecting on the many things God has done for us personally this past year — on the blessings and graces God has given us, even the trials God has permitted us to face.   May we keep these blessings and graces and ponder on them in our hearts as we begin 2008, knowing that the Lord has many more blessings in store for us this coming year.

We should also reflect not only on how God has blessed us individually, but on how God has blessed us as a Church community this past year — how God has blessed our parish, our diocese and our universal Church as a whole.

If we reflect on the past year at our parish, it was certainly a most eventful year.  Last March, Fr. Blain announced that he was retiring after 24 years of being pastor of St. Joseph’s.   Then, about a month later, it was announced that the Bishop had appointed me as your new pastor, effective July 1!

In August, Bishop Tobin visited our parish for the very first time, for my Mass of Installation as Pastor.

And in September, we were all pleasantly surprised by the arrival of Fr. Marcin, only 3 months ordained, as our new part time assistant pastor.

Our parish honored Fr. Blain with a Mass and dinner in October;

And finally, our parish this past year embarked upon it’s first major capital campaign since the renovation of the Church 13 years ago, and happily we made our $600,000 pledge goal in a matter of weeks.  May we keep all these blessings in our hearts.

On a diocesan level, the Providence Visitor became the Rhode Island Catholic, and Bishop Tobin could also be heard and seen very frequently on talk radio shows and TV News shows and Sunday newspapers, proclaiming the Gospel and teaching the faith “without a doubt” as he would say.

Our Bishop even made the national news because of a column he wrote in the Rhode Island Catholic criticizing a certain Catholic presidential candidate for his stand on abortion.   When the candidate was asked at a nationally televised debate to respond to Bishop Tobin’s criticism, lightning bolts kept silencing the microphone he was trying to talk into.

The Bishop told the national and local news media it was just a coincidence, but a few weeks later at a priest get together I was at, one of my confrère’s ask him “Bishop, can you really call lightning down from Heaven?”  and he said “Well, I’m tempted to try it on certain football teams!”

Finally, in the universal Church, probably the single biggest event this past year occurred, appropriately enough, on 7-7-7, July 7th, 2007, when our Holy Father Pope Benedict issued a document which lifted the restrictions on the celebration of the centuries-old Traditional Latin Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass.   The Pope did so in response to the growing number of Catholics, old and young, who are strongly attracted to the older form of Mass.

And as I mentioned in the bulletin back in September, I plan by the end of this year to offer the Traditional Latin Mass here at St. Joseph’s, at a time separate from the normally scheduled Masses, for those parishioners who have expressed to me an interest in having it, and for anyone else who wishes to attend.

I’m now currently in the process of training some altar servers to serve the Mass.  I’ve already bought my biretta, the black felt hat with the pom pom on top, which I’m ready to put on and “Go to the Altar of God” with!

And so there are some of the major events that happened in our Holy Catholic Church this past year.  Certainly in countless other ways, God has blessed and guided us in 2007.

As we begin this New Year of Grace, let us entrust ourselves and our families and our Church to our Bl Mother.   May she hold us all in her maternal heart throughout this year, and help us to reflect upon and keep all the great things her Son Jesus has done for us, and be open to all the great things He will continue to do his disciples.