Monday, September 30, 2013

Homily - "Live simply"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily. 

Two things that came to mind when reflecting on today's readings. The first is an article from the Washington Post Magazine in April.  You probably heard about it; it's about you.  It characterizes GW students as "a bunch of rich kids". It gives examples of exorbitant spending such as $1000 bar tabs (whenever I accumulated a $100 bar tab in college, I was crushed financially), $900 tote bags, and so forth.  It sounds exactly like what we hear in the readings: "they eat lambs taken from the flock.  They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils" in the first reading and "a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day".

The second is a talk that we heard two weeks ago from one of our Tuesday night speakers at Newman. He was from FOCUS and gave a power point presentation of mission trips around the world.  One of the places was Calcutta, India. He showed pic of college students serving the "poorest of the poor", some of whom were shown sleeping naked or half-naked on sidewalks.  He mentioned this Gospel, and like Lazarus, dogs would lick the sores of the bodies in the streets.

I have been to Calcutta to work with the Missionaries of Charity; he is not kidding.  The sights and smells there are awful and heart-breaking; it is horrific poverty. It was really hard to see naked or half-naked kids begging us every day on the streets; just like Lazarus, they would give anything for even scraps of food. Of all the things I learned, detachment was one of the best. The poor are truly detached from the things of the world. They have nothing; everything that they receive they see as a gift from God.  There is no interference between them and God.  Those of us in first-world countries are more attached to things, and to the nicest things.  We can start to build up an attitude that we have this or we are entitled to that. We can build up interference between us and God. Attachment can be dangerous stuff; detachment can be freeing.

I think that the majority of GW students - and GW Catholics - want to be more like Lazarus than the rich man.  I say this because of one pamphlet we have at Newman, "Living Simply". We have about a dozen pamphlets, from "Heaven" to "Suffering" to different teachings. "Living Simply" is the one that gets hit the most; it is the most popular among students.  It’s a great little guide to living simply, giving suggestions on how to have the poor in mind every day. For example, it says that the more you can save up in your bank account, the more you can give to the poor.  Try to save $20 this week in going out – dinners, bars, shopping, etc.  Then, give that $20 to the poor.  That can go a long way for kids in third-world places like Calcutta.
Pope Francis is someone who lives simply.  It is so refreshing!   As a priest I really appreciate his austerity and simplicity.  And, it seems that most people do.  At “Theology on Tap” the other night at Newman, we were discussing the Holy Father.  I asked the group what they have liked the most about him.  They said his new / old Popemobile which was made in 1984, and the fact that he is not living in the papal apartments.  In other words, they really like his austerity and simplicity.  His humility overall has made him extremely popular around the world.  When he first became Pope, he said that he wanted “the Church to be poor, and for the poor”.

The best modern example of serving the poor is Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.  She saw Jesus in the poor.  She said the poor were “Jesus in a disguise”. The thing about the rich man is that he knew who Lazarus was – he called him by name to Abraham – and he didn’t ever help him.  If we do the same thing to the poor – knowing that it’s really Christ in a disguise – we will suffer the same fate as him.  But, Mother Teresa based her whole service to the poor on 10 words from Matthew 25 which indicates that serving the poor means serving Christ.  She would count these words on her 10 fingers: “what you do for them, you do it for me”.  This remains the slogan of the Missionaries of Charity; we see this every month we visit their home in DC for men and women who are homeless or have AIDS.

Mother Teresa also saw Jesus in the disguise of bread and wine.  She once said that she would not have lasted more than a week taking care of the poorest of the poor if she didn’t receive the Eucharist every morning at Mass.  That was her strength.  That was her Grace.  That is how we all can serve Christ in the poor and grow in simplicity and humility.      

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Stephen Colbert defends the Eucharist...and the priesthood!

Click HERE to view a clip from the "Colbert report" in which Stephen Colbert teaches his guest and millions of people that "Jesus said, 'this is my body...this is my blood'".  This is of the coolest things I've seen on TV.  Also, one of the saddest with the man who wrote the book condemning the priesthood.  He's right to say that Holy Communion is not receiving the physical flesh of Christ, but wrong to say that it's not the real flesh of Christ. And, his main source for that is St. Augustine...he argued against receiving the Eucharist as cannibalism, saying that it's the spiritual presence of Christ....but REAL presence. 

If you scroll down the site, there is a commentary by Fr. Barron which puts the book and this man's view of the priesthood into its proper context. 

Great evangelization, Colbert!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Homily - "Everything we have is from God"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

Before I became a priest and in the years I was out of the seminary, I worked in sales for a construction company.  We did residential and commercial work. It was a great job, and I really enjoyed it.  Commissions were the main source of income as they are with any sales job.  I attended sales seminars to help drive up sales.  The main point was that we needed to stand out to our customers, and to be memorable.  One of the things they suggested was to change our voicemail regularly in creative ways.  So, I went with it, changing my voicemail greeting every week, to something goofy but memorable, oftentimes related to current events in the world.  This was in the late 90s.  One week it was, “Hi, this is Greg, I’m sorry I can’t take your call right now.  I’m in the Middle East, trying to track down Osama bin Laden.  Please leave a message”.  Another week it was, “Hi, this is Greg, I’m on the other line right now with the U.S. Olympic Committee, trying to finalize and realize my dream of being a U.S. Olympic figure skater.  Please leave a message”.  One customer told me that if he and his co-workers were working late, they would call my voicemail just to hear the greeting!  Sales tripled that year.

I mention all of this because it relates to the man in tonight’s Gospel parable.  In working the deals with the debtors of his boss, the steward forgoes his commissions.  He brings to his master what the master is due from the debtors, but the wealth that is lost is his own.  This is why the master praises him for how he handles his wealth.  It’s a lesson to us all about being good stewards of the wealth of another, namely God.  This is a confusing Gospel with words and phrases that don’t make sense coming out of the mouth of Christ.  For example, the Lord speaks of “dishonest wealth”. Another translation has this as “the wealth of another”.  “True wealth” is our own wealth.  The basic point is that everything we have is from God, and we are to be good stewards of the wealth of God.

As students, you all are stewards…of the wealth of another, most likely your parents.  They are paying for your education, and you are to be responsible in managing their wealth.  If you go to class, do your work, manage your time wealth, and do your best, then you are good stewards of their wealth.  And, if you are trustworthy in the matters of college, then you will have your own wealth after college.  In dating, too, you are to be good stewards.  When you are in a relationship with someone, it’s like you are given a treasure.  You are given the wealth of another, and if you prove trustworthy in the matter of dating, then you are given that person in marriage…they become yours.  Marriage on earth is an image of marriage in Heaven with God.  So, using the same analogy with stewardship, if we prove trustworthy in handling the wealth of God in this life, we will receive our own wealth in the Kingdom of Heaven.  If you’ve had a thought of your own mansion in Heaven, then that’s what this means…”eternal dwellings”.

So, everything we have is from God.  Everything around us is the wealth of God.  We are to be good stewards, mainly with money.  Jesus focuses on money in this Gospel, saying that one cannot “serve both God and mammon (money)”.  We are to use money responsibly, prudently, and simply, not bringing lavish things for ourselves.  Being a good steward means giving to the poor (“lift up the poor” as the Psalm says), giving to the Church…Newman Center collection! 

And, be a good steward at Mass.  God gives us incredible treasures at Mass through His Word and sacrament.  When you hear the readings, pay attention and try to pull out one thing that applies to you…one thing that God is saying to you tonight.  And, then when you approach the Eucharist – the greatest treasure on earth – come with a pure soul in a state of Grace. After you receive, go back prayerfully to your pew.  It’s a time not to talk or text, but to meditate on the gift you’ve received – God is in you!  And, go forth from here and do your best with all your work this week in being good stewards of your parents’ wealth.  If you prove trustworthy in these matters, you will receive eternal dwellings, your own true wealth, in the Kingdom of God forever.    

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pope Francis hitting "reset"

In today's first reading at Mass, St. Paul writes, "compete well for the faith".  It seems that Pope Francis is changing the game plan for us to compete.  Hopefully, it will help us to compete at the highest level! A Catholic blogger, Katherine Lopez, uses another metaphor to describe the Pope's most recent interview: "reset button".   Here are her helpful insights from

"Not everything in the world is about sex and politics. That message may take the New York Times a few more homilies and interviews with Pope Francis to understand.

The Catholic Church – or at least those preachers and teachers who are outspoken on matters concerning human sexuality, especially when catechetical discussions  are turned into clashes in the public square for political or cultural reasons – is often accused of being obsessed with sex. But the obsession might just be the media’s.

Consider, for instance the wide-ranging interview given by Pope Francis that has just been published in several Jesuit publications, including America magazine here in the United States. It is over 10,000 words. A few paragraphs involve homosexuality and abortion. And yet homosexuality and abortion were what the New York Times chose to lead their news report on the interview with.

The interview is Pope Francis’s first extensive public conversation since becoming pope about his own vocational call to serve God – for example, we are told that Jorge Mario Bergoglio considered joining the Dominicans, and why he needs the discipline of the religious life. He further explains why he as pope has chosen to live at the Vatican’s guest house: His desire for community. (He explains that the papal apartment is not luxurious, but it is isolated.)

The interview gives some context to his daily pleas to the faithful and, as we saw in his letter to the G-20 and four-hour prayer vigil for peace earlier this month, to every man and woman in the world. It is reintroducing what some refer to as the project of the New Evangelization, and with the most inviting, non-jargony language.
The pope is challenging us all to see what Christ wants for us and our brothers and sisters, each one of them.

Francis talks about the Church as a “field hospital after battle.” He talks about the need for the church “to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.” He says: “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up.”

Many people are interpretating this interview -- along with the interview the pope gave on his plane ride back to Rome from Rio after praying with some three million youth in Brazil -- as the pope hitting “reset.”

The metaphor works.

The Church is always called to renewal; we hit reboot, so to speak, when we pray at night and go to sleep, and wake up to prayer, exercise, coffee, whatever our routine is. We move forward, encountering the circumstances of the hour. The Christian does this with God, aware of his presence.

That is what the pope is telling us.

It is often said that the Church is a hospital for sinners. And that’s how Pope Francis describes himself: “I am a sinner.” He’s a sinner loved by God, anointed in this most public way for public service not of his own choosing. Again, this is the life of the Christian, who is called to discern what exactly it is God wants him to do. It may not always be what we’d prefer or what makes complete sense to us. It may, in fact, be a mystery to us, but in our faith, we trust.

When reading his words about homosexuality and abortion – which are drenched in love and mercy as well as justice – it is only fair to read them in the full context of what the pope has to say, representing the Gospel of Christ, the Catechism of the Church, and his own pastoral interaction with men and women living in the world as it is today.

There has been much attention paid to phone calls he has made to men and women who have written to him, hurt and struggling.

He explains one call in this interview, to a young man who “is growing,” who saw in the pope a father. “I cannot say, ‘I do not care.’” So he picks up the phone, open to the needs of a son, as we must be to every one of our sisters and brothers. And while speaking in gratitude for the discipline of religious life and in agreement with what the Church teaches, he also cautions that the church – who he makes clear includes all its people in faithful union with God – must never get locked up “in small things, in small-minded rules.”

The mission is the Gospel of Jesus Christ who became man and suffered humiliation and death for every man and woman. That must always be clear even as Catholics tell the truth about what the Church proposes on specific intimate, contentious issues.

The pope is challenging us all to see what Christ wants for us and our brothers and sisters, each one of them: It’s exactly what he says in the interview is the reason he wound up a Jesuit: He wanted “something more.”

“God is to be encountered in the world of today.” We don’t find God by making him in our own image. Pope Francis calls on Augustine here: “Seek God to find him, and find God to keep searching for God forever.”

So, yes, by all means, let’s have a “reset,” so that God may orientate the life of the Christian and the life of the Church each day. Catholics must live lives of a hope that does not deceive. It’s not a political hope, or, as the pope puts it, mere optimism. It’s a theological virtue. It’s “a gift from God.” It “does not disappoint.”

That’s Gospel truth. And that’s the message. It’s about more than the headlines will ever tell you. It simply has to be encountered. And so the pope pleads that hearts might be open to the alternative lifestyle that has a world leader asking himself daily: “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What should I do for Christ?” These are not only questions  for a pope. This is the radical call of Christianity. And that’s the message this son of the Father is preaching as the Holy Father.

Whatever your politics, be careful what you read into this. He’s talking to you. He’s talking to me. He’s reminding himself. The news isn’t that he isn’t “a right-winger,” as he tells us. It’s that he’s a pastor. He’s a priest, not a politician.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a director of Catholic Voices USA.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Most unique and inspiring obituary

A GW Catholic sent me the following newspaper notice of the death of a friend's grandmother.  It is the most unique, creative, and inspiring obituary I have ever seen.  And, our student writes,  "This woman was one of my catholic role models growing up... These are pretty outstandingly definitive lessons for how to live a catholic life exactly the way Jesus intended".

My favorite part, of course, is, "Cry at the consecration, every time".  Love you, Pink...and your family!!


Mullaney, Mary A. “Pink” If you’re about to throw away an old pair of pantyhose, stop and Consider: Mary A. Mullaney—you probably knew her as “Pink” who died on Sunday, September 1, 2013. Her spirit is carried on by her six children, 17 grandchildren, three surviving siblings in New “Joisey” , nieces, nephews, in-laws, and a large extended family of relations and friends from every walk of life and corner of the globe, who were blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Pink during her 85 years.

Among the most important: Never throw away old pantyhose. Use the old ones for rosary repairs, to tie the gutter, child-proof the cabinets, tie up the toilet flapper, or hang Christmas ornaments. Also: If a possum takes up residence in your shed, grab a barbecue brush to coax him out. If he doesn't leave, brush him for twenty minutes and let him stay. Let a dog (or two or three) sleep in bed with you. Say the rosary while you walk them. Go to church with a chicken sandwich in your purse. Cry at the consecration, every time. Give the chicken sandwich to your homeless friend after mass. Go to a nursing home and kiss every person there, and let them have communion, no matter if they are Catholic.

When you learn someone’s name, share the story of their patron saint and when the feast day is, so they can celebrate. Invite new friends to Thanksgiving dinner. If they are from another country and you have trouble understanding them, learn to “listen with an accent.” Never say mean things about rotten people, instead think of them as "poor souls who we should pray for." Put the children who are picky eaters in the laundry chute in the basement, close the door and tell them they are hungry lions in a cage and feed them their veggies through the slats. Correspond with the imprisoned and have lunch with the cognitively challenged. Do the Jumble every morning. Keep the car keys under the front seat “so they don’t get lost.” Make the car dance by lightly tapping the brakes to the beat of songs on the radio. Offer rides to people carrying a big load or caught in the rain or the summer heat.

Believe the hitchhiker you pick up who says he is a landscaper and his name is "Peat Moss”. Offer to help anyone struggling to get their kids in a car, into a shopping cart or across a parking lot. Give to every single charity that asks. Choose to believe the best about what they do with your money, no matter what your children say they discovered online. Allow the homeless to keep warm in your car while you are at Mass at Gesu. Take magazines you've already read to your doctors’ waiting rooms for others to enjoy. Do not tear off the mailing label … "Because if someone wants to contact me that would be nice."

 In her lifetime, Pink made contact time after time. Those who’ve taken her lessons to heart will continue to ensure that a cold drink will be left for the garbage collector and the mail carrier on a hot day, that every baby will be kissed and every person in the nursing home will have a visitor, that the hungry will have a sandwich and the visitor will have a warm bed and a soft nightlight, and the encroaching possum will know the soothing sensation of a barbecue brush upon its back. And above all, she wrote Everyone. You may be reading this and you may recall a letter you received from her that touched your life or made you laugh, or even made you say “huh?”

Pink is survived by those whose photos she would share with prospective friends in the checkout line, and her children and grandchildren: Tim (Janice) their children, Timmy, Joey, T.J., Miki and Danny; Kevin (Kathy) their children, Kacey, Ryan, Jordan and Kevin; Jerry (Gita) their children, Nisha and Cathan; MaryAnne; Peter (Maria Jose) their children, Rodrigo and Paulo; and Meg (David Vartanian) their children, Peter, Lily, Jerry and Blasé; as well as her siblings, Anne, Helen and Robert. Pink has joined in heaven six of her siblings and is reunited with her favorite dance and political debate partner, her husband Dr. Gerald L. Mullaney. Friends (and strangers she would loved to have met) can come to visit with Pink’s family at the Feerick Funeral Home on Thursday, September 5th from 3:00 until 7:00 pm. Mass of the Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Whitefish Bay on Friday, September 6th at 3:00 pm. Dress casual with a splash of pink if you have it. In Pink’s memory donations may be made to Dominican High School, 5635 N Santa Monica Blvd, Whitefish Bay, WI 53217 or Saint Monica Parish, 160 E Silver Spring Dr, Whitefish Bay, WI 53217 or any charity that seeks to spread the Good News of Pink’s friend, Jesus. Valet Parking at the funeral home on Thursday on East Capitol Dr.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Navy Yard prayer for peace

Last night at the Newman Center, GW Catholics organized a prayer vigil for peace after yesterday's tragic shootings at the Washington Navy Yard.  While holding candles, we recited the following prayer for peace, commonly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.  Lord, grant peace to our nation and world.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Cardinal Wuerl to Celebrate Mass for Consolation and Healing
In the wake of the shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington will be the principal celebrant and homilist at a Mass for Consolation and Healing at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington.
The Mass will be to invoke God’s embrace of those who died, and for the consolation of families, healing for those injured, and for the community.
Mass for Consolation and Healing
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
12:10 p.m.
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
1725 Rhode Island Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

Monday, September 16, 2013

Homily: "God rejoices in you"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

Friday, September 13, 2013

What a cool Pope

We have one cool Pope!  Stories pop up every day, it seems, that are so refreshing and inspiring.  Below are a few of the most recent.  They continue the same themes of humility and simplicity (1984 used car as the new Popemobile), pastoral outreach (calling a 19 year old student), and accessibility ("selfies" and photos with youth at the Vatican).

Priest gives used car to pope, who wants to drive

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis now has his own mini popemobile after getting a good deal on a used car that he plans to drive himself.

Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, says Francis accepted the 1984 Renault 4, donated for free by a priest in northern Italy who used it to visit poor parishioners. The four-door car, in papal white, is manual shift and has a new engine. Benedettini told The AP on Wednesday: "The pope intends to drive it."

The donor, the 69-year-old Rev. Renzo Zocca, says he took Francis for a short drive in the car at the
Vatican on Saturday and that Francis told him he knows how to drive it. Zocca said he thinks Francis will use it for short commutes on Vatican grounds.

Check out some encouraging comments to the article HERE.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11: Reflections and Remembrances

"In this hell I found grace."
-Fr. James Martin

To watch a moving video by Fr. Martin, "A Prayer at Ground Zero", click HERE.

September 11, 2001 —Those Who Were There Remember

A Muslim Serves her Country

"I feel the resiliency of my faith as the biggest strength in helping build bridges of understanding with my fellow Americans."
-Lt. Col. Shareda Hosein, U.S. Army Reserves, Muslim chaplain

Choosing Action in the Face of Evil

"Tom was a hero on Flight 93. He and his fellow passengers were drafted unknowingly as the first citizen-soldiers in the war on terrorism."
-Beverly and Thomas Burnett, Sr., parents of Tom Burnett

One Firefighter Spared Twice That Day

"I still try to figure out what God was thinking and why I deserved to be spared twice that day."
-Kenneth Zaveckas, New York City firefighter

Suffering, Death and Resurrection: a Pastor's Experience of 9/11

"The preciousness and also the precarious and vulnerable nature of the fundamental gift of life burned its way into the depth of our souls."
 -Monsignor Anthony Sherman, Brooklyn pastor

An Instrument of Peace at Ground Zero 

"I did not see the devil's face at Ground Zero. I saw the face of God in the people working, caring, sweating, crying, rescuing, recovering and being very spiritual in their very humanness."
-Franciscan Father Joseph Bayne, chief chaplain of New York's Erie County Emergency Services

We Stood Together on September 11

"People came together in unity that day. We can all remember where we were on 9/11 because we were all together."
-Paulist Father Paul Wierichs, a former chaplain to the Federal Bureau of Investigation

The Parable of Ground Zero

"I thought 'what is God like? God is like the firefighter who rushes into a burning building to save someone. That's how much God loves us."
-Jesuit Father James Martin, culture editor of America magazine

A People Changed by 9/11

"The years have gone by, but the memories remain for all who were involved in that one single day and its aftermath that changed the lives of so many and of our nation."
-Monsignor Robert J. Romano

Experiencing 9/11 From Afar

"I sat the whole day in front of the TV watching the video of the tragedy and listening to the commentary."
-Deacon Tom Aumen

Minnesota Twins at a Ground Zero Hospital

"What I learned about faith is that it is active."
-Father Jeff Ethen, of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota

Forgiveness and Unity at Ground Zero

"How in awe I was seeing the crowds along the New York streets praying and saluting as we wheeled the American flag-draped bodies to the makeshift morgue."-Father Bruce Nieli, C.S.P.

Remembering 9/11

"It was a time of great pain and great love. It was a time of testing and a time of faith. It was a time of endings and beginnings."
-Father James E. Devlin, pastor of Good Shepherd Parish in the Diocese of Brooklyn

To view the USCCB site with more 9/11 videos and tributes, click HERE.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pope reaches out and touches someone...again

Pope Pledges to Baptize Mother’s Baby After She Rejects Abortion

Steven Ertelt

A mother who decided to reject her boyfriend’s request for her to get an abortion received a surprise call from Pope Francis — who told her he would be glad to baptize her baby.

Anna Romano became pregnant after having a relationship with a married man, who told her he would not help her raise the baby and pressured her to have an abortion. Not wanting to compound one mistake with another, Romano refused and will give birth. In a desperate plea for help, she wrote to Pope Francis for advice.

In a new personal outreach to Catholics across the globe, Pope Francis picked up the phone and called Romano.

“On the phone I was stunned” she says. “I listened to his words: he had read my letter, he reassured me that the baby was a gift from God, a sign of Providence. He told me that I would never be left alone.”

“He filled my heart with joy when he told me that I was very brave and strong for my child,” says Anna. “When I told him that I intended to baptize but I was afraid that is not possible because I am a single mother, already divorced, he reassured me, saying: “I am convinced that you will not have trouble finding a spiritual father, but if not, know that there is always me.”

The London Telegraph has more:
“At the beginning I thought it was a joke, but then he referred to the letter, which only my best friend and my parents knew about,” she told Italy’s Corriere della Sera.
In her letter, which she had addressed to “His Holiness Francis, Vatican City”, Romano wrote that her boyfriend had revealed he was married when she told him she was pregnant. “He left me, telling me he had no intention of taking care of the baby,” she said. The man also told her to have an abortion, advice she was determined to ignore.
Forgetting about the letter, she departed for a holiday with her family, only to receive the call.

Explaining to the Pope that she feared no priest would baptise her illegitimate child, the Pope told her that if she had any trouble he would personally hold the baptism.

“The Pope told me I was very brave and strong to decide to keep my baby,” she said.

The Pope has bolstered his popular appeal by picking up the phone at his residence in the Vatican and calling people out of the blue.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Homily - "Love God first"

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.

If there was one place on earth you could go, where would it be? For me, it would be the Holy Land (Israel). There are many beautiful, fun, and majestic places around the world, but the Holy Land is where God lived, taught, died, and rose from the dead.  It's where God walked the earth!

The Newman Center is coordinating a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from May 27-June 6, 2014. We have flyers in the back of Church tonight that show the itinerary, costs, and details. We will have an info session on Tuesday night, 7:45 pm, at Newman.  15-20 students can go.  So, pick up a flyer and come to the info session if you're interested.

Everyone I've ever known who has gone to the Holy Land has said they now the Gospel sounds differently to them.  It has more meaning and power.  We are offering something this semester which might do that for you anyway. Brother Richard will be speaking to you briefly after the homily to describe the Bible Study he is offering on Thursday nights. In short, it sounds awesome! He will help the Word of God come alive in your life.

We don't need any help in hearing the power of tonight's Gospel.  It is strong stuff from The Lord. He says we need to "hate" our parents, family members, even our own lives if we are going to follow Him.  The proper translation of "hate" in this context - and what The Lord intends - is "love less".  We are to love all people and things less than God.  God is our first love; we love Him above all people and things. It makes more sense if we recall what Christ says elsewhere: that the first commandment is to love God with our "whole mind, heart, soul, and strength", and then to love our neighbor as ourselves. God is our first love.

This demand of a total commitment might sound familiar to you. I'm sure some of your professors demand that you love their classes above all others. Some of them make it seem that their class is your only class! And, the work they give you reflect that. But, no professor or boss created you, died for you, or saved you. God created you, and loved you first. He can make the real demand that you love Him first.

A practical application of this Gospel is Sunday Mass.  When you come to Mass on Sunday, you are putting God first.  There is a lot of competing "loves" on Sunday; Jesus refers to them as "possessions". When you make the time to come here on Sunday, you are saying that The Lord is more important than work, family, friends, relationships, football (yes, football is back!), shopping, etc. Whether you go Saturday night, Sunday morning, or Sunday night, you are loving God first and living out this Gospel.  But, the converse is true if you skip: all those things are more important than God. And, if you think, 'I'll just go on Monday or Tuesday instead of Sunday", it's not the same. Going to Mass during the week is beautiful and awesome, but Sunday is the Christian Sabbath. It is the Lord's Day.

We come to Sunday Mass, then, to love God first, then, but also to reap the benefits that lie herein. I'm referring to the Eucharist.  When I ask people what is the main reason we come to Mass, very few answer correctly.  It is to receive the Eucharist.  This is the high point of the Mass; the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church's life. Let me explain briefly what I say before receiving the Eucharist at every Mass: "let all faithful Catholics come receive our Lord". I will basically be preaching to the choir because you all respect the Eucharist so well.  Visiting priests have seen the way you approach the Eucharist with bowing profoundly, receiving properly (if in the hand, one hand over the other making a throne for our King or on the tongue), and have commented that you are among the most reverent people approaching the Eucharist they have ever seen.

First, we need to be Catholic to receive Holy Communion.  Non-Catholics have thanked me for laying out the guidelines: if a person can’t receive, they can come forward, cross their arms and receive a blessing.  Or, they can remain in their pew and make a spiritual Communion (which is preferable). We need to be Catholics who are in a state of Grace.  If we are in mortal sin, we need to go to Confession before receiving Communion.  Again, just come up for a blessing or make a spiritual Communion.  Do not worry about what others around you are thinking; worry about what Christ is thinking.  Put God and respect for the Eucharist first!

The basis for what I say is St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11, verses 25 and 27.  He addresses those who receive the Body and Blood of the Lord unworthily (none of us is worthy but Christ commands us to receive which makes us worthy).  It’s bad news, basically.  St. Paul says that anyone who receives unworthily “brings judgment on himself”…for the Body and Blood of the Lord…he will be responsible for the death of Christ. I don’t want anyone here going there.  It is out of love for you and the Eucharist that I say it. 

It is really a spiritual reminder or reflection on what – or who – we are receiving: God in the flesh.  It is the God who has loved us first and who we love above everyone and everything.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Saturday: Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria

Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria

Statement of Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Bishop Richard E. Pates
September 3, 2013

Pope Francis has called for a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria, the Middle East, and the world to be held on September 7, 2013, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace. The Holy Father reminds us that "peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected" and that "all men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace." 

We are anguished by the terrible suffering of the Syrian people and again affirm the need for dialogue and negotiation to resolve this conflict that has wrought so much devastation. The use of chemical weapons is particularly abhorrent and we urgently pray for the victims of such atrocities and for their loved ones.  And we applaud the work done by those bringing humanitarian aid to people affected by this crisis and pray for their efforts to ease the suffering of our brothers and sisters.

As our nation's leaders contemplate military action, it is particularly appropriate and urgent that we in the United States embrace the Holy Father's call to pray and fast on September 7 for a peaceful end to the conflict in Syria and to violent conflicts everywhere. Pope Francis has exhorted "the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace, …a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people." 

Last Friday, our Conference of Bishops reaffirmed an earlier message of the Holy Father "that the path of dialogue and negotiation between all components of Syrian society, with the support of the international community, is the only option to put an end to the conflict."  We urged "the United States to work with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial and neutral humanitarian assistance, and encourage building an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities."

We ask all U.S. Catholics and people of goodwill to join us in witnessing to the hope we have in our hearts for peace for the Syrian people. May our prayers, fasting, and advocacy move our nation to promote a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria.  And may Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us and the people of Syria.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Bishop Richard E. Pates
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
To view the Holy Father's statement, click HERE.

A Prayer for the People of Syria

God of Compassion,
Hear the cries of the people of Syria,
Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
Bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
Strengthen Syria’s neighbors in their care and welcome for refugees,
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
And protect those committed to peace.
God of Hope,
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies,
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
And give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Prince of Peace and Light of the World,

[This prayer is from Catholics Confront Global Poverty. . . , a collaborative effort of USCCB and Catholic Relief Services.]

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Homily - "Welcome to GW Catholics"

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.