Tuesday, December 31, 2013

8 day feast of Christmas + a New Year's blessing

(from a Catholic blog -http://catholichotdish.com/faith-and-reasons/the-grinch-and-the-christmas-octave/)

It feels a little like the Grinch comes on Christmas Night for real. The same way that troubled green creature hauled out every trace of Christmas from Whoville, our culture removes all the signs that the Holy Day ever happened.

Trees wrapped in plastic are cast onto the curb, Christmas items are deep-discounted for quick sale on the Dec. 26 shopping holiday and Christmas music all but disappears from the airwaves.
When it comes to Christmas, the world could learn something about partying from Catholics.

The 36 hours from Christmas Eve through Christmas Night are just the beginning–our festivities go on for eight days. This liturgical octave of Christmas starts on Christmas Day and continues until the Solemnity of the Mother of God (New Year’s Day).

Besides offering seven more days for feasting and merriment, the Church has a serious reason for designating an octave celebration of Christ’s birth, along with octaves for Easter and Pentecost. It’s to help us contemplate the mysteries of these feasts experienced in the Church’s liturgies.

Old Testament roots

The octave commemoration has its origins in the Old Testament. On the eighth day, circumcision occurs in the Jewish faith, representing God’s covenant with Abraham and the Jewish people. The Feast of Tabernacles and other feasts were celebrated for seven days but the eighth day also carried special significance.

In the fourth century, the Church gave Easter and Pentecost octaves possibly because it allowed for an extended retreat for the newly-baptized. Also, since both of those feasts always fall on Sunday, the octave day of the following Sunday seems like a natural closing for a week of festivities.

The Church introduced the octave of Christmas in the eighth century. Other octaves were added for Epiphany, Corpus Christi and saints. Until the middle of the 20th century, octaves were ranked in importance. For the most “privileged” octaves, no work was done nor other feasts celebrated.
In 1955, Pope Pius XII simplified the calendar so that the Church recognizes only the octaves of Easter, Pentecost and Christmas.

Feasts within the Feast

As she celebrates Christ’s Nativity, the Church also commemorates these feasts during the octave of Christmas:
  • Dec. 26: Feast of St. Stephen
  • Dec. 27: Feast of St. John the Evangelist
  • Dec. 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents
  • Dec. 30: Feast of the Holy Family
  • Jan. 1:     Octave day of the Nativity, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
One of the ways to commemorate the octave of Christmas is by attending daily Mass:
The octave’s primary observation is by celebrating daily Mass in thanksgiving for Christ, with the gospel readings centered around the Incarnation and early years of Jesus’ life. The wisdom of the Church begins the octave with the birth of Jesus and ends it on the eighth day with the veneration of Mary’s role in the Incarnation.
Feasting and merriment are both in order for the octave of Christmas, as well as visiting family, visiting the sick and elderly, and helping the poor. Also, here are prayers and activities for each of the octave days.

In the end, the Grinch was converted and embraced Christmas. Maybe as we give this Holy feast its proper place on the calendar, our culture won’t unplug the Christmas lights so fast and will let the Nativity celebration continue.

Merry Christmas!
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LITURGICAL BLESSING FOR THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW YEAR



Every good gift comes from the Father of light.
May He grant you His grace and every blessing,
and keep you safe throughout the coming year.

R. Amen!

May He grant you unwavering faith,
constant hope, and love that endures to the end.

R. Amen!

May He order your days and work in His peace,
hear your every prayer,
and lead you to everlasting life and joy.

R. Amen!

May almighty God bless you,
the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit.

R. Amen!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Homily - "Mary and Joseph: open to life"


(Given at St Catherine Laboure Church in Maryland).

I'm the chaplain at the Newman Center at George Washington University in DC. On breaks, I help out at parish Masses like this morning. At a parish Mass one Sunday a few years ago, the second reading was the same as ours today which includes the famous line, “wives be subordinate to your husbands”. After Mass, an older couple told me a funny story of what happened with this line.  As the reading was being proclaimed, the husband nudged his wife on the arm, as if to gloat that she was subordinate to him.  She didn’t take kindly to this.  Then, I preached the homily and explained the line.  I said that being subordinate (or submissive) means to be “under the mission of”.  Wives are to be under the mission of their husbands.  What is the mission of husbands?  St. Paul writes in Ephesians 5, a husband is to love his wife “as Christ loves the Church”.  A husband is to love and serve his wife as Christ loves and serves the Church.  So, I explained, wives are to let their husbands serve them.  When I said this, the wife landed a huge elbow into her husband’s arm as if to say, “you serve me, buddy”!

It is a tall task, indeed, for husbands and wives to love each other as Christ and the Church love each other.  Christ gives his love to his bride, the Church.  She receives his love…just as a woman receives her husband’s love in the physical act.  She receives his love and returns it to him.  Think of what happens in the vows at a wedding: the man gives his life to his bride (as Christ gives his life to the Church), she receives his promises, and then gives hers to him.  They both act in persona Christi (“in the person of the Christ”); they act as Christ to the other.  By the way, it’s the only sacrament that the priest (or bishop) is not the celebrant.  Their task is to live out what they promised: to act as Christ to the other “until death does us part”.

Is this possible?  Some of my students at GW struggle to believe this because they never saw this model in their parents growing up.  Of course, the pool of faithful husbands and wives has shrunk in the current generation.  But, I can (and do) point them to examples like Sts. Joseph and Mary. In fact, they are the example for college students and adults everywhere.  How did they stay so committed and faithful to each other?  How did they live out the readings today, and remain as the Holy Family? A big clue comes in the Gospel that some of us heard on Christmas Eve.  It said that Joseph “did as the Lord commanded him” through the message of an angel.  He did as the Lord commanded him…even though it would change his life forever to stay with Mary who was pregnant with child even though they hadn’t had relations.  He didn’t question it.  He didn’t complain.  He just did it.  Mary, too, did as the Lord commanded her through the message of an angel.  What a huge message it was!  And, she was between 14-16 years old.  To hear that kind of message at 14 – that you would give birth to the Son of the Most High – and respond with “yes” is beyond remarkable.  And, yet, they both did as the Lord commanded.

They didn’t do as society commanded… or as the culture commanded….or friends…or family…or doctors.  I see the commands of a secular society up close and personal every day on campus.  And, they are often the opposite of what God commands. Young people are under so much pressure to sleep together, cohabitate, and use contraception.  Many of our young women were put on the pill by their doctors or even parents at a very young age.  Knowing the danger it does to their bodies and relationships, some are choosing to get off of it.  Probably half of my couples that I prepare for marriage are living together...then I read them the findings of a government study that found that 78% of couples who live together before getting married get divorced.  Cohabitation and contraception are preparation for divorce; chastity and Natural Family Planning (NFP) are preparation for marriage.  The divorce rate among couples that use contraception is about 50%; it’s less than 5% for couples that use NFP. Jesus says, "by their fruits you will know them".

The big point is for couples – and really all of us – to be open to God’s Plan.  The big problem about contraception is that it closes a couple off to God’s Will. It prevents procreation (open to life) as well as union between the spouses.  It’s like a barrier between them.  Using NFP doesn’t mean that a couple will have 20 kids.  It means that a couple is communicating with each other and with the Lord about how many kids He wills them to have.  It means greater communication, greater intimacy, and sacrifice which are all cornerstones of a healthy and lifelong marriage.  It gives a couple a better chance at imitating Mary and Joseph in being able to hear God and doing what He commands.  

Finally, Mary and Joseph couldn’t do it on their own, and neither can couples today.  They were both filled with the Holy Spirit.  At every wedding Mass, I say to the couple that the Eucharist is to be the center of their marriage.  Jesus promises tremendous fruit for any of us who eat his flesh and drink his blood.  It is the way for all of us to live as Christ on earth….this is what he mainly promises about the Eucharist.  Of course, the fruits of marriage are children. Every child is the fruit of his or his parents' love.  Jesus is the fruit of Mary and Joseph's love - how they bring him into the world, nurture, form, and shape him to be our Savior. Through their openness to God and to life, our salvation is born...our hope is born...our life is born. Through them, we have Jesus.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Find the Perfect Gift"





             

Monday, December 16, 2013

Homily - "God comes to save us!"


Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.
 
A priest friend of mine used to say,  "if you don't believe in original sin, pick up a newspaper". Sin and selfishness is all around us, and we see examples of it every day. "Me first" started in the garden with Adam and Eve, and continues in so many evil ways in our world. We read about another shooting at a school- in Colorado on Friday, just one day before the one year anniversary of the Newtown school shooting. We read about violence and crimes all around our city, country, and world. We read about lying, cheating and fraud - the latest being the interpreter at Nelson Mandela's service. We read about evil in our culture - in marriages, families, and among young people. It's even in the sports section! There was a commentary in yesterday's paper that pride among those who run the Washington Redskins is what's ruining the team. Pride is what led to original sin; St Augustine said it is the root of all evil.

Original sin messed up so much. Before the fall, there was perfect harmony in creation, between God and man, and with man (male and female) himself. They were naked and didn't even notice it. But, the first sin brought them shame, broke the relationship with God, closed the gates of Heaven, and sent the order of the universe into chaos. Suffering and death resulted from this, as well as moral evil (like what I described in the newspaper), physical evil (diseases, for example), and natural evil (typhoons, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, etc.). None of this existed before the fall.

Christ restored so much of what was lost in the garden. We know that He redeemed moral evil in His death and resurrection. He worked miracles to restore nature. And, we hear in today's readings that He restored what was lost physically for some people. In fact, the prophet Isaiah said these would be among the signs of the Messianic age - that the blind would have their sight restored, the deaf would hear, etc. When Jesus tells the disciples of John the Baptist to relay to him that the Messiah had come, he uses these signs as the evidence. Isaiah's prophesy that "our God has come to save us" is true in Jesus Christ!

He has come to save us, and continues to come to save us. The signs of the Messianic Age are still with us today, and should be making the papers. These things are happening even at GW...the Hatchet should be covering them!  There are many examples of each, but I will choose one.  One of our young ladies was begging God this semester that she could see Him working in her life, particularly with relationships.  She had been meeting a bunch of jerks prior to this, and wanted the Lord to show her a good guy.  One day after Mass (a Mass she doesn’t normally attend), she bumped into a good guy…someone that she knows and likes.  They have been talking since; he may be Mr. Right.  One of our guys hadn’t been able to hear God for so long in prayer.  Recently, though, he did.  How huge is it to hear God speaking to us!  I know that so many of you long to hear the voice of God.  One student said two years ago that she wasn’t able to speak about God or Jesus or the Church to people.  But, just this semester she led discussions with her peers about faith.  And, she gave a talk on campus to people of different religions about her Catholic faith which was beautiful and solid.  Last week, some students came to Advent Confessions spiritually dead because of sin.  They were raised to new life spiritually through the sacrament.  At the Healing Mass last month, I didn’t hear that the lame walked – there were no physical healings that I know of – but several people told me that they received personal healings which are even more significant.  We brought FOCUS her four years ago to bring the good news to the spiritually poor, and they have continued to do that this semester.  In general, many here had been spiritually deaf and blind to the teaching on the Real Presence (because you hadn’t heard the teaching before or seen it as the Body and Blood of Christ), but now you are raised to new life in the Eucharist.

Jesus would say that you all are greater than St. John the Baptist even though “among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist”.  You are greater than him because your works are greater.  They are part of the Kingdom of God on earth….they are part of the Messianic Age.  John preceded all of this, but you are in the midst of it.  God’s works through you are greater.

Finally, when are home celebrating Christmas, look at that baby – the Christ child – as your hope.  Our hope is born on Christmas.  The kid is the sign of our hope…and that everything will be okay.  God comes to save us!  Hope is so important in the spiritual life.  The worst thing we can do is lose hope; discouragement is the greatest tool of the devil.  Christmas is the sign of our hope, and a sign that God loves you…and that you are good.  At Christmas, wow….God comes to save us.

 

Friday, December 13, 2013

"The Surprising Surge in Catholic Priests"


Click HERE to view a video interview, "The Surprising Surge in Catholic Priests", and here to read the corresponding article from the Wall Street Journal.

Here is the report from the USCCB last year: 

VOCATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES


GENERAL TRENDS


Priesthood (slight but steady increase of seminarians and ordinations since 2006)

 Ordinations

1995: 511
2000: 442
2005: 454
2012: 480

 Major Seminarians (seminarians in major seminaries)

1995: 3,172
2000: 3,474
2005: 3,308
2012: 3,723

 Average age at ordination is mid-thirties and is trending slightly younger.

 Ordinands are more ethnically diversified than in the past (in 2012: 71 percent Anglo; 15 percent Hispanic; 9 percent Asian or Pacific Islander; 3 percent African or African American). However, this trend has not caught up with the increased ethnic diversification in the Catholic population as a whole.

 Between 20 and 30 percent of ordinands to diocesan priesthood for each of the last ten years were born outside of the United States.

Religious Life

 
    Most religious institutes are experiencing severe challenges in the recruitment of new religious, although some are experiencing a surge of young vocations.

There is ethnic diversity here as well with a spike in professions from the Asian community (professions in 2012: 69 percent Anglo; 8 percent Hispanic; 15 percent Asian or Pacific Islander; 2 percent African or African American).

 The brotherhood is particularly challenged. The number of brothers in the US has declined precipitously: 6,535 (1995) to 5,451 (2005) to 4,477 (2012).

 The average age of religious of the Profession Class of 2012 was 39.

CONSIDERATION OF VOCATIONS
Good news: the recent survey by the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reports that over 600,000 never-married Catholics (aged 14-35) have "seriously considered" a call to the priesthood or religious life. The key factors correlated with the consideration of a vocation were all relational.

There was a much greater likelihood for a young man or woman to consider a vocation if they:

 Attended a Catholic school (men who attended Catholic high school were 6 times more likely to consider a vocation)

 Participated in parish youth groups (women who participated in a high school parish youth group were 9 times more likely to consider a vocation)

 Were personally encouraged to consider a vocation

 Personally knew a priest, seminarian, or religious

HISPANIC VOCATIONS
U.S.-born Hispanics are a significant untapped demographic. Less than five percent of the Hispanic ordinands were U.S.-born Hispanics. Yet 70 percent of young Hispanics in the U.S. are non-immigrant.

The percentage of Hispanics who are in seminary, ordained or professed are significantly less than the percentage of Hispanic in the US Catholic population. Hispanics make up 41 percent of all US Catholics born 1961-81 and 48 percent of all U.S. Catholics born after 1981. In 2012, the number of Hispanic ordinands (15 percent) and professed (8 percent) demonstrates the gap.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pope Francis's condolences to South Africa

The Pope's telegram to the South African President, Jacob Zuma:

It was with sadness that I learned of the death of former President Nelson Mandela, and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the Government and to all the people of South Africa. In commending the soul of the deceased to the infinite mercy of Almighty God, I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss. Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late President’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations. With these sentiments, I invoke upon all the people of South Africa divine gifts of peace and prosperity.
FRANCISCUS PP.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Homily - "Imitate and Follow SJB"


Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

When I was out of the seminary the last time, my sister-in-law set me up on a date with a young woman who was Catholic (although wasn’t practicing at the time) and very nice.  We met up for coffee on our first date and hit it off really well.  That led to a second date for dinner.  She knew that I had been in the seminary twice.  So, at dinner, she asked me questions about the Church the whole time…through dinner, through dessert, and even after that.  I was thinking, ‘yeah, I like talking about this stuff, but come on, lady, this is a date!’  The classic line of the night was what she said at the end, “wow, I thought you wanted to be a priest because you’re a nice guy.  I didn’t know you were so religious”.  Hmmm…check, please!
Now, it’s not the best example, but I tell that story because of my sister-in-law.  I don’t fault her at all; we were all up against something else (my call to be a priest).  But, in the language of today’s readings, she “prepared the way” for that date.  I trusted her judgment about the young woman, and went ahead with the date.  She was the way for me to meet her.  I wouldn’t have had that experience (and a pretty funny story) if it wasn’t for her.  It’s the same way with so many of you on this campus.  You “prepare the way of the Lord” for so many other students at GW.  When you invite your friends to Mass or confessions after Mass like tonight, Newman Center, Bible study ,or whatever, you prepare the way of the Lord for them.  You are the way to Christ for them. They trust you, and go ahead with coming to Christ.  In that way, you imitate St. John the Baptist.

Two things I ask of you: Imitate and follow John the Baptist.  This is IF: Imitate and Follow.  Imitate him in preparing the way of the Lord.  He was the precursor to Christ.  He prepared the way of the Lord for all of us.  You are the precursor to Christ for your friends on campus.  My sister-in-law was the precursor to that young woman.  Prepare the way of the Lord!  Imitate and follow St. John the Baptist.  Follow his first word, “repent”! Repent means to turn away from sin and turn towards the Lord.  It means to have a conversion of heart. John repented for himself and others.  And, his example is what prepared the way of the Lord for others.  Follow his example of repentance – maybe not in eating grasshoppers and wild honey, but in living for Christ and holiness.  Preparing the way of the Lord in our own lives is the most effective way to prepare the way of the Lord for others.
We should repent every day, not just during Advent.  But, in a special way, the Lord calls us to repent to prepare the way of the Lord at Christmas.  We prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts.  We make straight his paths…make straight the path for him. The best way to repent, to prepare our hearts, to make straight the paths for the Lord is Confession.  It’s the best way to prepare for Christmas, and to enjoy it fully.  The best birthday present you can give Jesus is your sins…he wants them!  He died for them to be forgiven.  We will have three priests offering confessions after Mass.  We have guides to Confession in the back of Church to help you prepare for this sacrament of mercy….sacrament of repentance….to fully repent and be freed of your sins.   Repentance brings freedom!

Going through the guide is helpful to examine our conscience because we may not be aware of how we sin.  For example, under the first commandment, I might not have been involved in the occult, butdo I put God ahead of everyone and everything?  Or, do I put other people or things ahead of Him?  Do I pray daily?  Have I received Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin?  Mortal sin is a grave offense – and not everything I will go through here is a grave offense – which means it is seriously wrong, I know it is seriously wrong, and I freely choose to do it.  If we have committed a mortal sin, we need to go to Confession before receiving the Eucharist.  We need to prepare for the coming of the Lord in the Eucharist by being in a state of grace. Have I taken God’s name in vain?  Here’s an example: saying GD or JC (in vain) knowingly and freely is mortal; OMG is venial. 
Do I keep Sunday as a day of prayer, rest, and relaxation? Have I deliberately come late or left early from Mass without a good reason?  Do I honor and respect my parents and those in authority? Have I participated in any way in an abortion?  Have I abused alcohol or drugs? Have I used contraception? Have I engaged in sexual activity outside of marriage? Have I looked at pornography?  Have I masturbated? Have I told impure jokes or used impure language?   

Have I stolen or cheated or pirated materials? Do I share with the poor according to my means? Have I lied or plagiarized or gossiped?  Have I ruined the good name of others by spreading lies? Have I pursued or entertained impure thoughts?  Have I looked at impure scenes from movies, shows, or plays deliberately to be aroused? Am I envious of what other people have in terms of gifts or possessions?  Is there someone I refuse to love? Is there someone I refuse to forgive?  Have I not forgiven myself for things that I’ve already confessed?
Have I deliberately missed Mass on a Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation without a serious reason? Have I been to Confession in the past year? Do I contribute to the material needs of the Church as best I can?

And, the seven deadly sins: pride (selfishness…one definition of sin is “me first”), anger, lust, envy, greed, sloth (laziness), and gluttony (overeating/overdrinking).

We go through all of this to fully repent, get right with God, and to experience full freedom .  Sins weigh us down, so the more we give them to the Lord, the freer we are.  It’s like having a great weight lifted from our shoulders!  And, the beauty of being Catholic is that we hear from Christ through the priest that we are forgiven.  That is so healing to hear that all of this stuff is forgiven.  Maybe it’s major stuff going back five or ten years…we hear that it’s all forgiven, and that it’s done.  God has forgiven us!  We then just need to forgive ourselves.  But, that experience of freedom and healing is why Confession has spiked up among GW Catholics the past few years.  You have had that experience and have told others about it, and they have come.  You have prepared the way of the Lord for them in Confession!
Continue to imitate and follow St. John the Baptist in preparing the way of the Lord for others and in your own lives.


Friday, December 06, 2013

Big weekend: basketball, confessions

“Confession: Coming home for Christmas”

Two priests will be available to GW Catholics for Confession after the 7:30 pm student Mass this Sunday, December 8, along with Father Greg.  If you or your friends have been away for a time, you are invited to come home fully to the Church in time for Christmas through Reconciliation. Don’t be afraid to invite them.  What a great early birthday present to give to Christ -  your sins!

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2013 BB&T Classic
100 seasons ago, GW men's basketball defeated Maryland for its first-ever varsity basketball victory. In this 100th season, the Colonials take on the Terrapins in the BB&T Classic, benefitting the Children's Charities Foundation, on Sunday, December 8th. Your game ticket is also valid for the George Mason vs. Oklahoma contest, which will take place prior to the Colonials' clash with the Terrapins...

All BB&T Classic Tickets will be seated in Sections 102-103 or Sections 119-120 at the Verizon Center and will be assigned first come, first serve. For questions, please call 202-994-7325...

STUDENTS: GW students with a valid GWorld card can pick up their tickets to the BB&T Classic for FREE from the Smith Center Box Office during regular business hours (M-F, 9:30am-5:30pm). Each student can pick up one ticket per GWorld card. Tickets will also be available for pickup at the Box Office during the Women's Basketball game against Towson on Saturday, December 7. Doors open at 1pm for the 2pm tipoff.
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

"The Final Exam"

The Final Exam

Four best friends from a university took chemistry and all of them had an 'A' so far.  These four friends were so confident that the weekend before finals, they decided to visit some friends and have a big party.  They had a great time but, after all the hearty partying, they slept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to town until early Monday morning.

Rather than taking the final then, they decided that after the final they would explain to their professor why they missed it.  They said that they visited friends but on the way back they had a flat tire.  As a result, they missed the final.  The professor agreed they could make up the final the next day.  The guys were excited and relieved.  They studied that night for the exam. 


 The next day the Professor placed them in separate rooms and gave them a test booklet.  They quickly answered the first problem worth 5 points.  Cool, they thought!  Each one in separate rooms, thought this was going to be easy ... then they turned the page.  On the second page was written...

For 95 points:     Which tire?

Monday, December 02, 2013

Homily - "Judgment is like a blind date"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.
Happy New Year! The first Sunday of Advent is New Years Day in the Church as it begins a new liturgical year. Advent is also a season of preparation for the coming of Christ. It's a season of preparation and penance. We should be doing acts of penance or charity during Advent.  We prepare for and celebrate the 1st coming of Christ, as Advent leads to Christmas. But, the readings also help us to prepare for the 2nd coming of Christ.  Jesus says, "be prepared"..."for at an hour you do not expect the Son of Man will come".

How can we be prepared? Examples from society help to show how we are prepared in other ways. The motto of the Boy Scouts is "be prepared". Businesses should always be prepared for an audit, so they keep good books. Some people learn self-defense techniques in being prepared for an attack on the streets. These are examples of being prepared for something bad. But, people are prepared for good things, too! Engaged couples prepare for marriage, and men and women prepare for religious and consecrated life by entering seminaries, convents, and religious communities.

Two metaphors stand out about Christ's 2nd coming / judgment.  First, it’s like a pop quiz…the most dreaded part of school. You never know when it will happen so you always need to know your stuff.  Second, judgment will be like a blind date….you don’t know how it will go. If you've ever been on a blind date as I have (you see how well that turned out for me), going into it you know the person vaguely through others, or through their Facebook profile, or in talking to them. But, you don't know how it will go when you meet the person. With Jesus, we know him through others, or through his Gospel profile, or in talking to Him in prayer. But, we know Him now as Savior. In the 1st coming, He came as Savior; in the 2nd coming, He will come as Judge. We don't know how it will go in person with Him as Judge.

Some of the language He uses in today's Gospel gives us an indication. He says that some will be "taken" and some will be "left". He references those on the ark with Noah. He doesn't say they were sinning, just that they were doing ordinary things like "eating and drinking". But, the point is that they didn't give a thought about God, or judgment, or an impending disaster. Their sin was carelessness; they didn't care about anything other than worldly or secular desires. St. Paul describes these as "desires of the flesh" and tells us to make no provision for them. The prophet Isaiah urged people to "climb the mountain of the Lord". It's like the bumper sticker that we've seen: "this car climbed Mount Washington". That's great, but it should be accompanied by one that says, "this soul is climbing the mountain of the Lord". We should be concerned with the things of God as well as the things of the world.

Three ways to be prepared for the coming of Christ / judgment. First, choose what is good in your daily life. Christ references people who were taken while doing good in ordinary ways - out in the field and grinding at the mill. It helps to be surrounded by good people in order to choose the good. St Don Bosco once said that "one who associates with those who are good with be with them in Heaven". Second, live in a state of Grace. "Cast off the deeds of darkness - drunkenness, promiscuity, lust" - as St Paul writes, with the help of Confession. "Put on the Lord Jesus" in the Eucharist. Going to Confession regularly and receiving the Eucharist at Mass every Sunday are the best ways to be prepared. Third, always be ready. I celebrated a funeral Mass last Saturday for the mother of a friend of mine.  She and her husband of 51 years were walking across the street when a car hit them. She died, and her husband just came out of a coma. I said at the funeral that we always have to be ready because we never know when our time will come. Always be ready with God as I have been saying. Always be ready with family. Tell your family regularly how you feel about them...and that you love them. Reconcile with them if you need. Always be ready with life. Live each day as if it's your last. It's such a cliche, but it really seems that's what Christ is saying. People who try to live this way find the great joys of life.

When we are prepared and are ready to go at any time, we are filled with tremendous peace. And, we experience the great joys of life. We can expect that peace and joy to continue on our blind date with Christ the Judge and forever in His Kingdom.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday "sales"

The Dirty Secret of Black Friday 'Discounts'

How Retailers Concoct 'Bargains' for the Holidays and Beyond

full article here
 
 
When shoppers head out in search of Black Friday bargains this week, they won't just be going to the mall, they'll be witnessing retail theater.
 
Stores will be pulling out the stops on deep discounts aimed at drawing customers into stores. But retail-industry veterans acknowledge that, in many cases, those bargains will be a carefully engineered illusion.
 
The common assumption is that retailers stock up on goods and then mark down the ones that don't sell, taking a hit to their profits. But that isn't typically how it plays out. Instead, big retailers work backward with their suppliers to set starting prices that, after all the markdowns, will yield the profit margins they want.
 
The red cardigan sweater with the ruffled neck on sale for more than 40% off at $39.99 was never meant to sell at its $68 starting price. It was designed with the discount built in.
     
Buyers don't seem to mind. What they are after, especially in such a lackluster economy, is the feeling they got a deal. Retailers like J.C. Penney Co. who try to get out of the game get punished.                                                       
"I don't even get excited unless it's 40% off," said Lourdes Torress, a 44-year-old technical designer, as she browsed the sale racks at Macy's Inc.'s flagship store in New York on a recent afternoon.
 
The manufactured nature of most discounts raises questions about the wisdom of standing in line for the promotional frenzy that kicks off the holiday shopping season. It also explains how retailers have been able to ramp up the bargains without giving away the store.
The number of deals offered by 31 major department store and apparel retailers increased 63% between 2009 to 2012, and the average discount jumped to 36% from 25%, according to Savings.com, a website that tracks online coupons.
 
Over the same period, the gross margins of the same retailers—the difference between what they paid for goods and the price at which they sold them—were flat at 27.9%, according to FactSet. The holidays barely made a dent, with margins dipping to 27.8% in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 28% in the third quarter of that year.
 
"A lot of the discount is already priced into the product. That's why you see much more stable margins," said Liz Dunn, an analyst with Macquarie Equities Research.
 
Retailers including Best Buy Co., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Macy's are warning this will be an unusually competitive holiday season and that all the deals could hurt margins. That can happen when chains have to fight hard for sales or get stuck with excess inventory and have to take heavier-than-planned markdowns. Stores also field loss leaders, true bargains that pinch profits but are aimed at getting customers into their stores. Most deals, however, are planned to be profitable by setting list prices well above where goods are actually expected to sell.
 
Retailers could run into legal trouble if they never try to sell goods at their starting price. Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with the practice. Companies can be pretty frank about how things work...
 
Here's how it works, according to one industry consultant describing an actual sweater sold at a major retailer. A supplier sells the sweater to a retailer for roughly $14.50. The suggested retail price is $50, which gives the retailer a roughly 70% markup. A few sweaters sell at that price, but more sell at the first markdown of $44.99, and the bulk sell at the final discount price of $21.99. That produces an average unit retail price of $28 and gives the store about a 45% gross margin on the product.
 
Retailers didn't always price this way. It used to be that most items were sold at full price, with a limited number of sales to clear unsold inventory. That began to change in the 1970s and 1980s, when a rash of store openings intensified competition and forced retailers to look for new ways to stand out...
 
The rise of e-commerce has made it possible to track pricing on the Web and see how much time products spend at their list prices. Amazon.com Inc. is featuring a 60-inch HDTV in its 2013 Holiday Gift Guide.                                                     
 
The TV is selling at a 45% discount to its list price of $1,799.99. But, according to Decide.com, a price-tracking firm owned by eBay Inc., the TV hasn't sold for anywhere near the list price in months. The most it has sold for in the past eight months is $1,297.85, according to Decide.com. As recently as October, it was priced at $997.99, about the same as its current sale price.
 
An Amazon spokeswoman said that "showing the most 'recent' price can be somewhat arbitrary and could be confusing to our customers," since the retailer changes prices so frequently in an effort to provide the best deals...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Homeless man returns wallet, gets Thanksgiving reward

myfoxphilly.com
Nov 23, 2013

To view the video related to this story, click HERE.


ATLANTA - A homeless man is being rewarded after he found a wallet and then returned it to its rightful owner.


Two weeks ago, the man found the wallet while digging through a Marietta Street trash can. The wallet belonged to a woman from France who was staying at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta.

Security photos showed the man leaving the wallet at the hotel and then walking away.  After seeing the photos, hotel officials began searching for the man.

"Finding a wallet that contained credit cards and ID that he really could have done anything with, doing the right thing -- and that really I think just fills a special place in everyone's heart," said Scott Stuckey, the Omni Hotel general manager.

Officials showed his picture in the park, in homeless shelters and shared it with the media.

Finally, it clicked. Someone who had seen the picture recognized the man as Joel Hartman.

FOX 5 Atlanta  was there when Hartman walked back into the Omni lobby on Friday afternoon.

"I was riding the bus and this girl that usually rides the same bus as me, she's like, 'I think somebody's looking for you,'" Hartman said.

Hartman said that turning the wallet in is something he believes most people would do.

"I look at something like that as the opportunity to do the right thing," Harman said.

It was an easy decision for a man who has lived a hard life. Hartman said he battles depression and has been homeless for about a year ever since he lost his wife.

"I loved her, loved her like -- nothing else in the world mattered to me except for her," Hartman said.

The Omni Hotel has given him a room through Thanksgiving as well as $500.

The first thing he did with that money was the right thing: he tipped the hotel worker who brought him room service.

The Omni Hotel is working on establishing a fund where people can make donations to help Hartman get back on his feet.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Homily - "Christ the King on the Cross: #winning"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.


The collection at all of the student Masses this weekend will go to the relief efforts in the Phillipines.  100 % of what you give will go to Catholic Relief Services who are on the ground there helping the people in that awful, awful situation.  Please be generous.

I hope that you are full when you are home for Thanksgiving.  I’m not advocating gluttony…but I won’t be able to stop you anyway.  I mean, stuff-ing happens.   What I am talking about is being full of virtue when you go home.  I definitely want you to evangelize your family and friends, but know that it can be hard to do this with words.  So, teach them about Christ in your actions…through your virtue.  If we focus on one – generosity – then be full of generosity.  Be generous in your cheerfulness, your joy, and enthusiasm to see your family and friends.  Be generous in helping out around the house – that will freak them out.  I know that you are going home to get some rest, and you should.  But, for some, home is more stressful than here.  But, be generous in helping out, especially with the meal on Thursday.  My family has relegated me to clean-up after dinner.  They don’t even ask me anymore to bring anything, much less cook anything.  My job is dishes, and I try to be generous in doing that.  Be generous in praying for your family.  Pray for them on your way home.  Pray for peace and reconciliation in your family, if needed.  Pray for safe travel of all of your family members.  Be full of generosity!

Today, the Church celebrates the solemn feast of Christ the King of the Universe.  The majestic language of St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians helps us to enter into this feast so well.  He really nails it! “For in him were created all things in heaven an on earth…all things were created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”  Think of all the kings who have ever lived…all the kings in history.  They can’t touch this!  Or, think of all the “kings” of our world…kings of the culture….celebrities.  They can’t enter into this.  Christ is the King of Kings.  In him all things were created.  All things were created through him and for him.  He is before all things.  He has power over all things.  He is King of the Universe!  This helps us to see the majesty and glory of Christ the King.

But, then, we hear the Gospel passage about Christ on the Cross (Lk 23:35-43).  He certainly doesn’t look like a king at that scene.   He is mocked as being a king…"the king of the Jews”.  They give him a crown…but it is made of thorns.  He is given a throne…but it is a cross.  In fact, all of the things and people at the scene are created through him.  It’s pretty incredible to think that He created the tree on which he would die.  He created the people who would kill him.   So, he is definitely the king of the scene.

Someone asked me last week, ‘what is the deal with the Cross for Christ or for Christians?  Is suffering just something to endure and then you receive your reward for it in Heaven?’  Well, yes, that’s part of it.  But, the Cross is where Christ takes sin head-on.  He enters into his suffering and death in order to reign over sin.  He becomes King of sin…King of suffering…King of death.  Through his death and resurrection, he wins victory for us.  The people there said, “(come down  from the Cross and) save yourself”.  He could have.  He could have saved himself.  But, he chose to save us.  He chose to win victory over sin for us.

St. Paul writes that he made “peace through the blood of his cross”.  Blood is a symbol of life.  So, the Cross is a symbol of life, not death.  It is a symbol of victory, not defeat.  It is a symbol of power, not powerlessness.  It’s like we can put “#winning” next to the Cross!   He is King of the Universe, not just the good parts, but the bad or ugly parts, too.  He is winning and reigning over the bad parts from the Cross and in his death and resurrection.  It’s like at last week’s Healing Mass: you came to him and said, “Lord, reign over the bad parts of my universe.  Take them, Lord, and heal them, win victory over them for me”.  Or, when you go to Confession, you are saying, “Lord, you have power over all things.  Free me of my sins, and help me to reign over them”.

At this and every Mass, we commemorate Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.  We celebrate and receive His precious, life-giving Blood and Body.  And, we ask Him to reign through us.  When we unite our suffering to His…when we take up our share of the Cross, we become sharers in his victory on the Cross.  We share in His kingdom.  May the Lord reign through us on earth and in Heaven forever.     

 

   

Friday, November 22, 2013

Catholic Charities worker saved from bullet by cellphone: "this guy is blessed"


Wallet and cellphone in man’s pocket save him from bullet in Northeast Washington
washingtonpost.com
Nov 18, 2013

The bullet headed toward Brian Harris’s stomach.

It pierced the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt and bored into his wallet, going through his diver’s license, a bank card and a folded $10 bill. It struck five more cards and broke partway through the wallet’s cover, shattering the glass front of his smartphone.

There, the .380-caliber round finally stopped, a few millimeters from his flesh.

Harris, 45, who had stepped out of his apartment in Northeast Washington’s Edgewood neighborhood to enjoy a balmy Sunday night, smoke a cigarette and sip instant coffee from his favorite green mug, emerged shaken but unscathed. His wallet and cellphone had saved his life. “That’s what people tell me,” Harris said, unwilling to admit how close a call he had.

Others weren’t as shy.

A miracle, proclaimed his boss and co-worker at Catholic Charities, where Harris has worked for three years delivering meals in some of the District’s most impoverished and dangerous neighborhoods.

Even cops who had seen everything hadn’t seen this.

“I am generally not a religious man, but this guy is blessed,” said D.C. Police Cmdr. Andrew Solberg, a 26-year veteran who heads the 5th District station, covering the area where Harris lives. “I want to go over and touch this man’s hand or clip off a lock of his hair. I want to rub him and feel some magic. We’re all glad that he’s here. I think somebody was watching out for him.”

The shots rang out about 8:30 p.m. from an alley across from the apartment where Harris has spent the past 18 years with his wife and five children, some now grown. Police said they found spent shell casings from a .380 semiautomatic.

They don’t know who the gunman was aiming at, but they don’t think Harris was the target. At least four bullets sailed across Adams Street. One crashed through an apartment window; another shattered the windshield of a gray Chevrolet Impala; still another punctured the side of a black BMW.

Harris thinks he was struck by the first round. The impact shoved him back in his white plastic lawn chair. At first, the Army veteran, who was assigned to a field artillery unit from 1988 to 1990, didn’t know what had hit him. “Then I heard, ‘Pop, pop, pop,’ ” Harris said.

Incoming.

He dove for cover as more bullets flew.

Then he pulled his wallet out of his pocket. The hole reveals an archeological dig, layers of different-colored cards — a white medical card, a red bank card, his veteran’s card.
Sounding more angry than relieved, Harris said that had the bullet’s path been two feet higher, it would’ve crashed through his window; inside, his wife was finishing up dinner and others were settling in to watch a football game.

“The first thing the cops asked me was, ‘Who is out to get you?’ I told him, ‘No one.’ What I really want to know is who did this, and for what purpose?”

Harris has lived for nearly two decades in Edgewood, just off Rhode Island Avenue between Bloomingdale and Brookland, and describes the neighborhood as “so-so.” It was one of four communities targeted by D.C. police for a summer initiative, stepped-up enforcement to combat violent crime. Adams Street, a strip of neatly kept rowhouses and apartment buildings, is just off a main city thoroughfare.

Harris said he worries about what people now think. “I mean, what’s the first thing you think of when somebody gets shot?” he said. “Drugs and guns. Well, there isn’t any of that over here. ”

The day after the shooting, Harris went into his Catholic Charities office to turn in his plastic key card, which broke apart when the bullet hit it.

Scott Lewis, director of enterprises, education and employment for Catholic Charities, took a picture of the card to share with co-workers. “It’s amazing, and we’re really grateful that he wasn’t harmed,” Lewis said. “To think what could have happened.”

Harris’s immediate supervisor, Eric Curry, the food-service manager, said that his driver “is a true witness that God lives. That was a miracle, definitely a miracle.”

Catholic Charities delivers daily meals around the District to charter schools, elderly housing complexes and adult day-care programs. Lewis said Harris is more than a driver — he’s an ambassador who is the face of the charity to the people who need help the most.

“For many, our meal might be their only meal of the day,” Lewis said. “We want it to be a good meal. Brian makes sure that happens.”

Some on his route may have to wait a bit before seeing Harris again. Lewis said he gave him a couple of days off to recover.

Added Solberg, the police commander: “The only time you hear about something like this happening is in a John Wayne western.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bold and beautiful: GW Catholic's speech at GW inter-faith dinner

Good evening, my name is Olivia Bee and I am a senior in the Elliott of school of international affairs. I am a Greek outreach coordinator for GW Catholics at the Newman Center.

I would like to begin with a reading from the Gospel according to St. Matthew:  “The King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

I chose this passage because it perfectly reflects the fact that social justice is at the absolute core of my Catholic faith and the Catholic Church’s teachings. This is because Jesus taught us, as portrayed in the passage, that those who will be saved are the people who helped others in their times of need. As a result, the Catholic Church keeps social justice at its very core. It does so by engaging in charitable work across the world, from mission trips to the NGO Catholic Charities. In this way the church has made it its mission to improve the lives of millions of people and continue its commitment to social justice.


At the Newman Center here on GW’s campus we have found Pope Francis to be an incredible role model for the pursuit of social justice through the lens of our faith. Pope Francis has worked tirelessly to promote social justice, most notably through the virtue of love. He has done so because love is at the very core of Catholicism, and I know this is not at all unique to my own faith. Pope Francis has shown us that by being truly loving we can successfully and most effectively promote social justice. He has done this most prominently by stressing the importance of the dignity of every human being, no matter his or her ethnicity, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, age, or gender. He has helped us fully understand that we are all children of God, and as a result each one of us deserves love.


At the Newman Center we try to exude these values daily by doing our best to help the least among us. We have monthly volunteer opportunities with the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Theresa's sisters, who serve men and women who are homeless or have AIDS, there are weekly visits to juvenile detention centers as part of the Justice for Juniors program, we volunteer in soup kitchens and make sandwiches for the homeless in DC, during our spring break we lead a service trip to Appalachia and we work towards creating a culture of life on this campus in an effort to preserve the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. Finally, we offer a smile, kind word, food, or a prayer to the homeless around Foggy Bottom and DC.

The church’s focus on social justice through love and aiding the least among us is what makes me most proud to be Catholic. Therefore, I urge each of you to find this pride in your faith and practice social justice through love, because as Pope Francis said, “The measure of the greatness of society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Catholic and pro-life quarterback Philip Rivers

I was asked to celebrate Mass with the San Diego Chargers when they were in town two weeks ago to play the Redskins.  It was a quite a thrill for this life-long football fan.  Six players and coaches attended the Mass at the hotel in which they were staying.  I told them how inspiring it was to be with them. They live in a different world...a very big world.  But, there they were, getting small like the rest of us in humbling kneeling before God in worship and adoration during Mass.

One of them was their quarterback, Philip Rivers.  He appears to be a serious Catholic.  He was very devout and prayerful during the Mass.  I talked to him for a few minutes after Mass. His wife just gave birth to their seventh child, so I congratulated him and told him that we were praying for his daughter and family at Mass.  Below is an interview with ESPN Magazine from August of this year.  The last question is ridiculous and offensive, but Rivers handled it (and all the questions) with tremendous humility and grace.



Rivers, 31, doesn't have time to peruse fan forums, so we fired your comments at the four-time Pro Bowler before July's Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Awards in LA. Shocker: Rivers fired back.

 
He's a crybaby on the field and is always yelling after he throws picks.
-- From ESPN.com comments

Rivers: I play with the same energy, passion and fire that I played with as a 10-year-old in north Alabama, and I'll continue to play that way. I think sometimes that's misrepresented. There's nothing I say out there that I can't say to my mom, wife or daughters. It's all clean.


Rivers has shown that if he's given the O-line and receivers, he can put up big numbers. If I was the new coach or front office, I'd rebuild other positions, figuring I had a legitimate QB.
-- From USAToday.com comments

Look, I'm my own worst critic. I've made mistakes in areas that I need to improve -- most notably, turning the ball over. But I have great faith in our receivers and the guys up front, and I'm excited about our new offense. We'll still push the ball downfield, but you'll also see more high-percentage passes and intermediate throws than in the past. We have an opportunity for a bounce-back season. It's a matter of doing it now.


A good coach would make all the difference with him. True fans see that Rivers lost respect for Norv Turner, but Rivers is a quality guy and will not talk bad about his coach.
-- From NFL.com comments

Yeah, that couldn't be further from the truth. Norv was great all of our years together. We lost games for a lot more reasons than his coaching. We'll have a great relationship forever. I owe him thanks and credit for the player I've become.


Six kids? Regardless of your profession, it's impossible to be a good parent to six kids. Not enough hours in the day.
-- From TheBigLead.com comments

It's a two-year rotation: Once the diapers come off of one, we usually have a newborn. And we have another one on the way, due in October. I help when I can, but my wife, Tiffany, is the key. My big, growing family keeps everything balanced and grounded. My oldest is 11 now, and the kids are getting into football. They're Daddy's biggest fans, and they don't get on you as bad as most fans. If you throw an interception, they still love you.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Homily - "Sex is holy"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.


We hear about marriage in tonight’s Gospel (Lk 20:27-38) which is fitting because marriage has been the theme for GW Catholics this weekend.  Our campus minister, Amy, got married yesterday to Dave Kovacs in Williamsburg, Virginia.  It was a glorious wedding!  Several GW students participated or attended.  It was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve been a part of.  A couple of things from it.  The first is the story of their engagement.  Dave called me up last fall and told me he wanted to propose to Amy at the Newman Center.  I said something romantic like, “Oh, cool”.  (What depth).  His plan was romantic and poetic, and right in the heart of one of our busy Tuesday nights.  After Mass, I took Amy up to her office for an “emergency meeting”….about nothing.  I had to stall her while Dave set everything up downstairs.  He had students at different stations from her office down to the chapel, holding parts of a poem.  The floor was covered in rose petals.  Amy came out of her office and was led through the stations.  She was wondering what we were doing, and thinking we were freaks or something.  She was led to the chapel where Dave was on one knee and holding a ring.  Amy lost it! Tears of joy came streaming down her face, and she said yes to his proposal.  About 50 students came into the chapel at that point, celebrating the incredible moment.  Amy was smiling from cheek to cheek, showing everyone her ring.  Minutes later, while still grinning ear to ear she said quietly to Dave, “you proposed to me…at work!  Get me out of here”.  She would say later it was perfect.  It was one of the best nights ever at Newman!

One of the things I said yesterday at the wedding was that Amy and Dave are such good examples to you all.  They teach better than I do on some key issues…ones that you ask about all of the time: relationships, sex, marriage, virtue, holiness, etc.  I provide the explanation of the Church’s teaching and that gives you some understanding, but they live it.  When you ask me why wait until marriage to have sex or why use Natural Family Planning in marriage or not to live together until marriage, I can point to them and say, “go talk to Amy or Dave”.  Or, just look at them.  You have seen their love, joy, and happiness in living out the Church’s teachings.  They do it freely, too.  They have been freely, obediently, and authentically living the teachings. Every student that I know of who has looked at what they have has said in one way or another, “I want that”.  They are such a normal, holy, and beautiful couple!  That’s why yesterday was so beautiful; they put so much into waiting and preparing for it, that it just exploded with beauty.

To your question of why wait until marriage to have sex – which I get about every other appointment! – let’s look at what happened yesterday and see that that’s at the core of the answer.  Amy and Dave brought their relationship to God yesterday, and He made it holy. He made it sacred. It happened when they gave their consent / promises / vows.  They gave their lives to each other.  “I promise to be true to you…in good times and in bad….in sickness and in health…I will love you and honor you all the days of my life”.  They made a full commitment to each other before God and witnesses.  That’s when they became one.  That’s when they received the Sacrament of Marriage.  Once that bond is in place, then the couple gives themselves fully to each other in the physical act / the sexual act / the marital act.  The physical act consummates the bond that is already in place.  It cements it.  It’s a sacred act.  Outside of the marital bond, the sexual act is not holy.  Think of a seminarian who wants to celebrate Mass.  He is preparing to be a priest, wants to be a priest, and can even say that he’s “engaged” to the Church.  But, he’s not a priest.  First of all, he doesn’t have the power to consecrate the Eucharist.  But, he hasn’t received the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  The celebration of Mass is reserved for priests.  It would be unholy for him to attempt it.  The same is true for couples.  The marital act is reserved for couples who have received the Sacrament of Marriage.

The image of a sanctuary is also helpful in understanding this.  Think of the body as a sanctuary. The body is a “temple of the Holy Spirit”.  It is sacred ground.  Most Catholics know this, and are timid when it comes to entering the sanctuary of a Church.  Have the same respect and reverence for the body of the other as you do for the sanctuary of the Church.  But, the Church goes even deeper with married couples.  She says that the bedroom of a married couple is like the sanctuary of a Church.  It is holy ground.  Sacred acts take place there.  And, of course, the one-flesh union between husband and wife is akin to the one-flesh union between God and us in Holy Communion.

Marriage on earth is a foretaste of marriage with God in Heaven.  One of the points from tonight’s Gospel is that we will no spouse in Heaven other than God.  Some of my couples have been disappointed to hear that they will not be married to the other in Heaven; “til death does us part” indicates that.  God is the ultimate spouse! He is the most attractive and desirable spouse…ever.  He created us to be with Him. He made us to be with Him in the resurrection of the dead in the marriage feast of Heaven forever.