Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eternally grateful

Today is my last full day at the Newman Center.  I continue to rejoice in the Lord for my 5 1/2 years here, and will for the rest of my life.  I am eternally grateful to Almighty God, Cardinal Wuerl, GW Catholics, parents, alumni, friends, and benefactors for the most incredible gift of being the chaplain here. You are in good hands with Father Park, Julie, the missionaries, and leaders going forward.  The Holy Spirit will continue to bless and grow this community!

I will be stationed for the next six months at St. Mary of the Mills in Laurel, Maryland, helping out at the parish and doing hospital ministry, starting January 5.  My email is  Please pray for me, and trust in my daily prayers for you.  Until I see you all next, I will see you in prayer!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Homily: "What's the point of Confession?"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

Reflecting on the past five and half years at GW regarding Confession, there are many highlights.  The most humorous one involved my Confession policy which is similar to 7 Eleven stores: I'm open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for Confession.  It took students a little while to realize I wasn't kidding, and some called at 1 or 2 am for Confession or a shoulder to cry on.  My favorite highlight was Ash Wednesday Masses.  I brought in 6 priests to hear confessions at the Masses, and about 100 students went to the priests.  Awesome! In the first year or two, it had been many years since students had been, on average.  Now, the average is a few months, In general, there has been such a change in culture regarding Confession, thanks be to God.

This sacrament is the perfect preparation for the Lord's coming.  The Church gives us tonight's readings to say it's a great Advent preparation for Christmas.  We focus on St. John the Baptist's preaching on the forgiveness of sins.  We hear about being "found without spot or blemish before him" from St. Peter in the second reading.  Even Mass itself is like a mini Advent: we begin by confessing "to Almighty God....that I have greatly sinned".  We ask the Lord to remove our spots or blemishes before He comes to us in the Eucharist.  This forgives venial sins...again, spots or blemishes.  But, for big blotches - mortal sins - we need to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession).

We Catholics see the need for priests in other sacraments.  We call a priest for Baptism or Anointing of the Sick.  We come to Mass with a priest for the Eucharist, recognizing we don't have the power to do it on our own.  Why do we think we don't need a priest for Confession?

Catholics approach this sacrament differently than the others because we focus on what we do, and not what God does.  If it was just all about what we do - being embarrassed time and again by admitting our darkest secrets and failures - then I can understand why so few go to Confession...what, 10% of Catholics? But, it's more about what God does...more about what we receive.

This has been the shift in approaching the sacrament by GW Catholics.  You have received a good experience of peace, love, kindness, and mercy.  You have received good advice from the priest - and not just me because many priests have heard your confessions - that really helped.  In general, you received the deep experience of being forgiven by God, and the immense freedom and peace it brings.  A few minutes of embarrassment and humility is worth receiving all that!

People who go to Confession hear that they are forgiven. This is a huge, healing aspect of the Sacrament. When we hear from someone else that we are forgiven, then that sin is done.  It's over. We let those sins go. I know people who say they go to God directly for their sins, but still talk about sins from many years ago. This is one of the reasons Jesus gave us the sacrament. In John 20:20, Jesus gave the first priests the power to forgive sins. When we go to the priest for confession, we are going to Jesus.  It is really Jesus who absolves of our sins.  It is really him who forgives us. We hear “I absolve you of your sins”, just like we here at Mass, “this is my body”.  It is Jesus who celebrates the sacraments through his priests.

The Lord has given us the Sacrament of Confession mainly to forgive our mortal sins. If we die in mortal sin, we go to hell. The Lord has given us the Sacrament, then, to keep us out of hell! A mortal sin is a grave offense done with full knowledge and full consent. This means it is seriously wrong, we know it is seriously wrong, and we freely choose to do it. For example, skipping Sunday Mass is a mortal sin.  It is a grave offense against the third commandment. We know that we need to go to Mass every Sunday. And, if we freely choose to skip Mass, then we commit a mortal sin.
Fulfilling the Sunday obligation means being present for the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the Eucharist. So, if someone comes to Mass on Sunday after the Gospel, then they need to find another Mass to fulfill the obligation.  Coming in late but before the Gospel or leaving early is a venial sin.  We don't really have a problem here with people leaving early, but always keep in mind that Judas left the first Mass early.  We don't want to go there!    
It's a serious thing to go 24 hours on the Lord's day and choose not to come to Mass. In that instance, the person chooses everything else ahead of the Mass and the Eucharist. It's like saying, "Jesus I don't need you today, I don't need the Eucharist." Only one time can bring this break in our relationship. Look at the first mortal sin by Adam and Eve.  One major sin broke their relationship with God and closed the gates to Heaven.  Christ came to mend the broken relationship between God and man. 
So, if we've left the state of Grace because of a mortal sin, we need to go to Confession before receiving the Eucharist. Receiving the Eucharist in the state of mortal sin is a mortal sin…it's sacrilege. If a person can't go to Confession before Mass, they should remain in their pews to make a spiritual Communion, or come up to receive a blessing. Don’t worry about what other people will think; worry more about what Jesus thinks.  Please respect the Eucharist.   

The priest to whom you go to Confession is a sinner too. He goes to Confession himself. (He doesn't go to confession to himself… "bless me, me, for I have sinned… I have absolve me of my sins".  Yeah, that doesn't work!).  I go to another priest for Confession once a month because I am a great sinner, and I need God's mercy regularly. I would recommend going to confession once a month even if there's no mortal sin.  Confession keeps us clean and in a state of grace, helps us to live the virtues, and more easily forgive others when they sin against us.

All of these points about Confession are what you, GW Catholics, have come to realize and understand... and, now you live.  You get it that the Sacrament is real and it's awesome.  You seek it out.  I'm guessing that a few thousand confessions have been heard here the past five years.  That is so awesome!  As your spiritual father, I am so proud of you for this and so many other things.  I love what you have done, and more importantly, who you are.   I have such great love and respect for you.  You are salt of the earth and light of the world.  These are my words to you tonight, but also the words of Jesus Christ to you tonight and the rest of your lives.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Homily - "Are you awake?"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

Friday, November 28, 2014

So thankful for my years at GW

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily and announcement.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Announcement from GW Catholics

Fr. Greg Shaffer, chaplain of the George Washington University Catholic Newman Center and priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, will be leaving his position in early January. Diocesan priests like Fr. Greg are ordained to serve not just one specific parish or ministry, but wherever the bishop assesses that there is a need. Cardinal Wuerl has determined that Fr. Greg is most needed elsewhere in the archdiocese and has given him a new assignment which takes effect on January 1, 2015.

Fr. Adam Park, the pastor of Epiphany parish in Georgetown, will be the new Catholic chaplain for GW. He will remain as pastor there and will take on the additional responsibilities of providing spiritual care and guidance to the GW Catholics. We hope you will warmly welcome Fr. Park and introduce yourselves when you see him around the Newman Center, the GW campus, and here at St. Stephen Martyr parish.  

Over the last six years, Fr. Greg has served as a shepherd to the budding GW Catholic community, helping it to flourish both in number and in faith. He has established multiple thriving retreats, community service programs, and brought Focus missionaries to campus. During his time as chaplain, Fr. Greg has dedicated himself to the enhancement of ministry among students.

At the very beginning of his time at the Newman Center, Fr. Greg immediately focused his preaching and teaching on the Eucharist. His love for the Eucharist is immeasurably shared by the many young adults who frequent the Newman Center for the sacraments, as well as those who attend Sunday student Masses.

Fr. Greg formed a foundation of collaboration to ensure the continued growth of programs at the Newman Center, including two staff members, an alumni advisory board, student leadership board, and Focus. God has built up this ministry beautifully and substantially. There are many key leaders who will remain involved running GW Catholics at the Newman Center, and God will certainly continue to bless the ministry going forward.

Fr. Greg’s passion and dedication will be greatly missed, but he knows the GW Catholic community’s support and prayers will be with him as he goes. 
Please pray for both of these wonderful priests as they begin their new endeavors.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pope Francis coming to the U.S.!!

( Pope Francis plans to visit Philadelphia in 2015, the pontiff announced today. It would be his first trip to the United States as pope.
The pope made the announcement when he addressed participants at a Vatican conference on traditional marriage.
The trip, expected for late September, would coincide with the World Meeting of Families organized by the Catholic Church, a world event that will take place in Philadelphia that focuses on strengthening family bonds.
“I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families,” Francis, 77, speaking in Italian, told the crowd at the Vatican. “Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.”
Only three other reigning popes have ever visited the United States: Paul VI in 1965; John Paul II, who traveled to the country seven different times; and Pope Benedict XVI, who visited the United States in April 2008.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who was on hand for the announcement in Rome, expressed excitement about the pope’s planned visit in a statement released by World Meeting of Families.
“I am overjoyed by Pope Francis’ announcement that he will join with us for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year. A hallmark of his papacy has been a keen focus on the many challenges that families face today globally. His charisma, presence and voice will electrify the gathering,” Chaput said in a statement.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Homily - Healing Mass (Fr Dan Leary)

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"It Is Right to Call Them Heroes"

This is a fitting reflection because I celebrated a funeral Mass for a woman yesterday (Veterans Day).  I referred to it as a "day of heroes", and  that she lived a heroic life.  Donna Clarke was a hero for Jesus Christ!

It Is Right to Call Them Heroes
A Reflection for Veteran's Day
By Tom Hoopes

ATCHISON, KANSAS, November 11, 2014 ( - This Veteran’s week, there is growing irritation on the part of some to the modern American custom of calling all veterans heroes. One recent example is David Masciotra’s Salon piece “You Don’t Protect My Freedom: Our Childish Insistence on Calling Soldiers Heroes.” 
I am very sympathetic to his point. The term heroes has been devalued, just as Masciotra says (though even he falls into the “easy hero” trap by suggesting that teachers, hospice workers and social workers deserve the designation more than soldiers). He decries the sexual harassment problems in the military that arose after the decision to put women in combat. Then he reminds us that not every U.S. war is just. That is a truth Catholics are keenly aware of (though Masciotra is certainly wrong about the justice of the U.S. war in Afghanistan against the Taliban).
I get it. It is healthy and necessary to question the wild stadium applause and automatic cheering of all things military.
But I think Masciotra might misunderstand why it is Americans are so quick to call soldiers heroes. Some thoughts …

1. We call them heroes because they do what we would not or could not.
Recently students, friends and I watched The Hurt Locker together. Seeing the soldiers living under the constant threat of roadside IEDs and insurgents, one comment kept being repeated: “I’m glad I’m not in Iraq,” and “I wouldn’t go to Iraq for any amount of money.” 
It is true: Many — most — of us wouldn’t do what they do. But they do.

“No one has greater love than this,” said Jesus, “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
We recognize that veterans have shown a willingness to sacrifice themselves that is admirable in and of itself, even as the centurion’s faith in the Gospel was admirable, even though he was a leader in the occupying force that would crucify Christ. 
2. We call them heroes because they have committed themselves to virtues we lack.
Of course, Jesus praises the centurion not for offering his life but for his faith. His faith derives from his military virtues. 
“For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me,” he tells Jesus. “And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes.” These virtues dispose his mind to accept Christ. In the 21st century, the military has preserved the virtues of discipline, hard work and loyalty that are the antithesis of the carelessness, acedia and infidelity that have weakened the national fabric.
There is something thrilling in watching the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier because we recognize in their precision a whole way of life. I know a priest who uses both  to teach his altar servers the care they should have around the altar. What better institution than the military can he use to show the self-control and reverence kids need to see?
3. We call them heroes because they rise above partisan pettiness.
Today’s public discourse is toxic not because it is partisan — humanity has always been thus — but because we have become so petty about it. 
It is one thing to disagree over ideas. It is quite another to reject the persons who disagree.

For all our talk of tolerance, Americans have become very thin-skinned. Friends, families and coworkers are too often torn apart over differences that we should know not to take personally. It need not be so — and in a healthy democracy it should not be so.
The men and women who are willing to go to serve regardless of who is in power live out in their lives the nonpartisan spirit many of us only pretend to share.

… in the end, I agree. Let’s not glorify war.
It is right to question military decisions. We should not mindlessly rush into violent answers to situations where often the last thing needed is more killing.
But as for the men and women who serve our country, I think it is right to stand and applaud them, without reservation.
When someone is willing to risk their life, their limbs and their sanity for me; when someone has conquered their fears and their selfishness to the degree one must in the military, it is right to call them heroes. We have no better term to acknowledge our debt.
Reprinted with permission from the Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Homily: "You are the temple of God"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

When we were in Israel this past summer, we visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  This is the site of the Jewish Temple that was built 3,000 years ago and destroyed in 70 AD.  It is a sacred site to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  It's the holiest place in the world to Jews because it was where God dwelled on earth.  It is sacred to Christians because of our Jewish roots and because Christ prayed and taught there.  It is holy to Muslims because they believe that is where Mohammed ascended into Heaven in the 7th century.  The iconic image of Jerusalem - the Golden Dome - is actually a Muslim building.

While we were there touring the site, we saw religious extremists from the different religions.  Our guide actually pointed them out to us, and stopped the tour a few times just to monitor them.  There was definite tension.  It wasn't violent like it's been there at that site in past days, but aggressive. The temple area is actually the focal point of the conflict in Israel and the religious tension there.

The temple is the focal point of tonight's readings as we celebrate a feast of a major Christian church, the dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.  This was the mother church of Christendom before St. Peter's. The temple was revered so much by Jews because it was the House of God on earth.  It's where they experienced the presence of God, especially the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies.  They worshipped God and paid Him homage in the temple.  They still do it today at the only remaining remnant of the temple, the Western Wall.  We prayed at the wall - also known as the Wailing Wall - while we were there. We hear in the first reading that everything flows from the temple - vast amounts of water and fruitfulness.

A transition regarding the temple is made in today's Gospel.  This is a popular Gospel account, though, for other reasons.  People cite this often to show that even Jesus got angry (righteous anger).  This is true, but is also reveals his intense love and respect for the temple..."zeal for your house consumes me".  The transition that is made here is that the temple goes from being a building to a person, Jesus Christ.  He talks about rebuilding the temple.  Those who are there think he is referring to the enormous building.  "But he was speaking about the temple of his body".  He was referring to himself as the new temple!

He is the presence of God on earth.  He is the new Ark of the Covenant...the new Holy of Holies.  And why is this transition to a new temple tied in with the resurrection? Because the resurrection is the greatest manifestation of his divinity. When he rose from the dead, the disciples recognized His divinity.  And, then they “remembered that he had said this”, that He was the new temple.  His risen body is the new temple, the presence of God on earth.  Just as the Jews worshipped God in the temple, we worship Jesus in his risen body, primarily the Eucharist.  We pay him homage and respect when we come before his Eucharistic body, genuflecting and kneeling in his presence.  The seeds of respecting and reverencing the presence of God on earth were planted in the Old Testament, and were fulfilled in the New Testament in Jesus Christ.

Finally, there is an even stronger transition.  In the second reading, St. Paul writes that “you are the temple of God”.  He is speaking to all of you and me.  It is a plural “you”.  In a few chapters later in 1 Corinthians, he refers to the individual Christian: “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”.  Here he is referring to all of us who have been baptized, and “that the Spirit of God dwells in you”.  In Baptism, the Holy Trinity makes His dwelling in us; we are God’s presence on earth.  We all make up the Church which is the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.  You are holy and sacred, just like the Temple and Eucharistic Body are holy and sacred.  Don’t destroy or desecrate the bodies, souls, reputations, and spirits of those around you, just like you wouldn’t destroy or desecrate a temple or church.  Build each other up.  Treat each other as holy and sacred, the new temple, the mystical Body of Christ on earth. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Homily - "Why?"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

The most frequent question that people ask  me is, “why?”  “Why does the Church teach (this or that)?” is up there.  But, mainly it’s, “why is God allowing (this or that)?”  Why does God allow death or anything bad?  We are celebrating All Souls Day, and praying for all those who have died.  But, why did God allow them to die?  These are all tough questions, and the Church does not claim to have all the answers.  But, when it comes to death, tonight’s readings give some help to formulate answers.

My first funeral as a priest was for a baby who was two weeks out of the womb.  How do you talk to that family?  They are a devout, Catholic family, but they asked, “why?...why is God allowing this, Father?”  I listened to them and cried with them.  I later responded to them by saying that when I ask why, I look at a crucifix.  Why did God allow His own son to die?  If we look at why we call the day He died “Good Friday”, we can again arrive at an answer.  We call it “Good” because of the good that came out of it: our salvation and redemption, of course.  But, and this is what we hear in the readings tonight, resurrection is what comes out of Christ’s death.  In other words, we call it Good Friday because of Easter Sunday. 

In general, the Church teaches that God allows bad things to happen in order to bring good out of them. In fact, it’s a greater good.  Think about Christ’s suffering and death: as bad as it all was, the good that God brought out of it was even greater.  That greater good was resurrection. The second reading (Romans 6:3-9) says, “we know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him”.    In His resurrection, Christ conquered death!  He has power over all things, including death.  To get a fuller sense of the magnitude of this, imagine if you’re at a funeral.  The casket is in the front of the Church, and the person has been dead for 3-4 days.  Imagine the person getting out of the casket, and walking around….alive!   That is resurrection.  That’s what happened with Christ, and I’m sure it freaked the people out like it would freak us out at a funeral.  In fact, even more so: no one had ever risen from the dead before Christ.  That’s what happened with Him: His body was dead, and then it was alive. 

That’s what can  happen for us: “if, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him”.  And, the Lord says in the Gospel (Jn 6:37-40), “everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day”.  If we live and die in Christ, we shall rise with Christ.  So, God allows death, as bad as it is, so that something greater can come out of it which is resurrection and eternal life.  In short, we have to go through death to get to Heaven.

But, what about suffering in this life?  Why does God allow that?  Every person in this Church is probably thinking that right now about a particular situation in our lives.  Again, He is allowing it to bring about a greater good.  I count fourteen things in the first reading (Wis 3:1-9) that are good coming out of bad…fourteen “goods”.  Granted, half of them refer to life after death.  But, listen to some of these things attributed to “the just”…by the way, any reference to a “just man” in the Old Testament is an indirect reference to Christ…He is the just man, and the “just” are those who follow Him.  “The souls of the just are in the hand of God (awesome!), and no torment shall touch them…in peace…immortality…worthy…shine…judge nations…understand truth…grace and  mercy.”  The reading describes that they (we) are “chastised a little…God tried them…as gold in the furnace”.  Sometimes, God tests us with suffering.  He is trying us, and refining us as gold is refined in the furnace.  Two things about this: one, if you are suffering, you being Christ-like.  God allowed Christ to suffer because He of His trust and love for him.  “God chastises those He loves”, we hear in the Book of Judith.  Two, the good things I just mention are immeasurably valuable.  You may not want to be like gold in the furnace; you may not want to be made stronger  or better through fire or heat (one of the qualities of fire is that it purifies), you may just want to chill and have a normal situation.  But, “God’s ways are not our ways”.  And, the good that comes out of suffering is profound.  We had a speaker at Newman last Tuesday who has suffered much in his life: Vietnam veteran and recent widower, with much suffering in between.  He had so much wisdom, it was incredible.  He was dropping “knowledge bombs” everywhere.  Through his suffering, he has been able to better “understand truth”.  If you are suffering, good will come out of it.  Trust me.

Finally, tonight is like a funeral Mass for all the faithful who have died.  At every funeral Mass, I preach about one of the greatest teachings of the Catholic Church: the Communion of Saints.  The Communion of Saints refers to the interaction between the saints in Heaven and the saints on Earth.  It happens at every Mass, including every funeral Mass.  In a few minutes, I will consecrate bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God .  Where there is the Son, there is the Father and the Spirit, and all the angels and saints.  The Eucharist is where Heaven and Earth unite.  This Church will be like a chamber of Heaven.  We won’t see the saints, but we believe that they will be here.  Baby Ikesi and all those you know who have died who are among the saints in Heaven will be here.  This is where the saints on Earth and in Heaven unite: the Communion of Saints.           

Friday, October 31, 2014

"Halloween History" video

Happy Halloween!  Click HERE for articles about Halloween from 

Here's a 3 min. video on the history of Halloween from the National Geographic Channel.  Even the video says that Halloween has historically been a "dangerous" holiday.  BE SAFE!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Homily - "Four types of love"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

We have materials in the back of church for the upcoming election.  They are from the Archdiocese of Washington, but can be applied to any election because they address main issues.  It's helpful to have a Catholic guide to vote, not for particular candidates or parties, but on issues. The Church's teachings are based on love of God and neighbor - as we hear in today's Gospel - and are compassionate - as we hear in today's first reading. In 2012, we put out similar materials to help guide GW Catholics.  A young woman contacted me, strongly objecting to what the Church teaches on social issues.  I met with her and listened to her objections.  The more we spoke, the more she realized that the teachings are compassionate and biblically based.  Even in the first reading, we hear a basis for the teaching on immigration: "you shall not oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves".  By the way, she and I have become friends, and she is trying to embrace the Church's teachings.

Christ gives us the greatest commandments in today's Gospel: "you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind...and love your neighbor as yourself". In his encyclical, "God is love", Pope Benedict XVI gave us a beautiful exposition on love.  He began by writing that love is the most overused word in the world.  In our language, we have one word that is used for everything: we love our pets, we love movies, we love our parents.  The Greeks had four words for love.  "Storge" is love within families; "Philia" is love within friendship; "Eros" is passion or desire that normally led to marriage: and "Agape" is self-emptying, sacrificial love.  The Church today defines love as "gift of self" which would be agape love.  The former pope made the point that Greek Old Testament writers only used eros twice, and none in the New Testament.  Philia was used in the New Testament by St. John in his letters to describe the friendship love between Christ and His followers.  So, we can deduce that the love Christ calls us to have for God and neighbor is agape love.

In a tender, non-judgmental way, Pope Benedict examined how eros can be distorted.  Passions and desires are good, and they ultimately lead us to fulfillment.  For example, whenever I preach at a wedding, I ask the couple to look deep into each other's eyes, and say to them, "you are looking at your happiness...really, God's happiness for you through the other". This is all true when eros is joined with agape, meaning that our desires are fulfilled when they are used to serve another.  They become distorted when they are used selfishly.  The most common example of this, unfortunately, is viewing pornography.  This obviously does not constitute love, but lust.  It involves using others to feed our sexual desires in a selfish way.  And, it doesn't lead to fulfillment.  I have worked with many, many people who habitually view pornography, and they are not happy at all.  It’s actually the opposite. We will never be fulfilled by pleasure only.

My favorite quote from the Pope's encyclical is, "love can be 'commanded' because it is first given.  Christ commands us to love God and neighbor with agape love because He first loved us in this way.  He merges eros with agape.  He emptied Himself by becoming man, and showed his intense passion for our love and souls..."I thirst" (for love), He said from the Cross.  The Cross is where eros (horizontal part of the Cross) and agape (vertical part) merged.  Christ emptied Himself for us (horizontal) to God (vertical) in his sacrifice.  He commands us to give ourselves - heart, soul, and mind - to God first and foremost.  Remember what we heard last week: "give to God what belongs to God".  Give him your life! Love means gift of self.  Love means sacrifice.  Give of yourselves to God and neighbor.

Finally, we might say that the Eucharist is the face of eros and agape love merging in our world.  Christ "earnestly desired" to eat with the disciples, and He gave Himself as the food.  He gives us His agape love tonight, saying to each of us, "this is my body, blood, soul, divinity, heart, and mind". In the Eucharist, He lives in us so that we can live out His command to give our body, blood, heart, soul, and mind to God and neighbor.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

St. John Paul II and Eucharistic Adoration (happening now at GW Newman Center)

With Eucharistic Adoration happening right now in the GW Newman Center chapel until 10 pm on the feast day of St. John Paul II, it is fitting to quote him on the importance of Adoration (via 

Pope John Paul II:
Defender and Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration

"I hope that this form of perpetual adoration, with permanent exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, will continue into the future."

(International Eucharistic Congress in Seville, Spain June 1993)

"Public and private devotion to the Holy Eucharist outside Mass is highly recommended: for the presence of Christ, who is adored by the faithful in the Sacrament, derives from the sacrifice and is directed towards sacramental and spiritual communion."
      (Inaestimabile Donum, #20, 1980)  "The Church and the world have great need of Eucharistic adoration. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and contemplation full of faith. And let us be ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease."       (Dominicae Cenae: Letter to Priests, Holy Thursday, 1980)  "Closeness to the Eucharistic Christ in silence and contemplation does not distance us from our contemporaries but, on the contrary, makes us open to human joy and distress, broadening our hearts on a global scale. Through adoration the Christian mysteriously contributes to the radical transformation of the world and to the sowing of the gospel. Anyone who prays to the Eucharistic Savior draws the whole world with him and raises it to God."       (Letter to the Bishop of Liege, Reported in L'Osserv. Romano, 1996)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Homily - "Give to God what belongs to God"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

At our grad student Bible study last Monday night, I asked the group what does it mean to do what Jesus says in tonight's Gospel, "give to God what belongs to God". One of the students pensively answered, it means give God your life.  Wow, I thought, good answer! Yes, in general terms, give God your life. But, what does it mean specifically?

Give God your time.  By coming here tonight, you are giving God your time...on His day.  Other students have seen that you give God an hour every Sunday, and they now do the same.  You give God time every Wednesday during ten hours of Eucharistic Adoration at Newman, some for thirty minutes and some for just a few minutes.  Dozens of you give God time every week for FOCUS Bible studies and discipleship.  Almost twenty of you gave early time last Saturday morning to serve breakfast to the homeless. You are the busiest people I've ever met, and yet you give time to God each week.

Give your money to God....ten percent. The biblical formula of tithing is based on Abraham giving ten percent of what he had to the priest, Melchizedek.  As students, you don't have income, so give ten percent of what you spend every week.  If you can drop $50 at dinner or shopping, you can drop $5 in the basket here.

Give your anxiety, stress, burdens, hurts, and wounds to God.  Jesus basically says this in Matthew 11:28 - "Come to me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest".  He wants us to give him what's on our, it belongs to Him.   I give you permission to give all of your crud to Him.  He wants it.  You have been open to this with our healing ministry, giving your wounds from relationships or family to Jesus the Divine Physician.   We will have a Healing Mass next month, a great opportunity to give Christ your burdens.

Give your life to God. We normally think of this in regards to vocations.  Several GW Catholics have given God their lives after graduation by entering the seminary, convent, or marriage.

Give God your Confession / Reconciliation.  He gave His life for your sins, so He definitely wants them! GW Catholics regularly go to Confession whether before or after this Mass, or during the week to me or Father Zack on Tuesday or Thursday evenings.  Keep giving your sins to Christ!

Give the sins of others to God.  Forgiveness is so huge in our relationships and families.  Trust me, if you forgive others throughout your lives, you will save a lot of money on counseling.  So many problems result from a lack of forgiveness, especially in marriages.  Small things that aren't forgiven can become big things. Forgive! Just as recently as last week, a student came to talk to me about the rough break-up with her ex...and was open to forgiving. Give God the sins of others...He wants them.

Give God your heart.  Caesar was inscribed on the Roman coin. Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Christ is inscribed on your heart.  Give to God what belongs to God.

Finally, give God the credit. For everything good in our lives, the credit belongs to God.  Give Him thanks every day.  I have encouraged you to give thanks for a moment or two after Mass, in imitation of the saints: give thanks to God for all your blessings, especially Jesus in the Eucharist and on the Cross.  So, now at Tuesday night Mass before dinner, I finish Mass and then have to wait a moment or two to greet the 30-40 students.  They are all making their thanksgiving! You do give thanks to God, for you see that all that you have is from Him.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Synod say what?"

The following is from to provide some clarity to what has been reported on from the Synod in Rome this week.  The best part is the first link below which has the actual text of what was said and written.  I found some of the media's headlines to be misleading, and so getting it "straight from the horse's mouth" is necessary here.  There is different, more positive language and tone from the Church on some modern issues, and that's new(s).  But, doctrine hasn't changed (it can't change), and there is nothing from the Synod that hints at changing doctrine. 

Synod say what?

The document admittedly is far from perfect -- and at times appears contradictory. Perhaps it should be rewritten (as some Cardinals are suggesting), or perhaps it should never have been released.

The truth is the document contains no definitive teaching. It is merely a working summary of discussions that will continue for another week -- and then again next year.

A few things to consider:
  • The Church doesn’t decide what it teaches based on emotions, trends, or whims of the people. Instead, it proclaims those truths found in Scripture (revelation), sacred tradition, and that which we can know by right reason (natural law). Knowing the truth however is not enough. The Church must use prudence to discern how best to lead others to it, especially the truth about human dignity and sexual love. This is what the Synod is really about.
  • The document presupposes that everyone needs God’s mercy. Nobody is perfect. Christ came to save the broken. But this “mercy” or what the media calls a “softening of tone” is only possible in the truth. Real mercy cannot be based on a lie about the nature and dignity of the human person.
  • Is there room for the Church to grow and adapt in the pastoral challenges that surround the difficult situations of our modern world? Absolutely. Is there room for innovation or new ideas on how to best carry the truths of the Church to those in ‘irregular’ situations, or those who mistakenly believe that Catholics hate homosexuals? Yes, indeed. But always in the truth.
  • Pope Francis has called the Church a hospital for sinners. The evidence is clear that marriage and the family around the world are in need of conversion and transformation. How to address these challenges is not easy, and the conversations surrounding it are messy. Efforts to reduce the document or the Synod to a few hot button issues for mass media consumption does a disservice to the conversation occurring in Rome.

So what can you do?

Don’t lose patience or despair. The Holy Spirit isn’t asleep at the wheel. He is working with imperfect people.

And of course, don’t believe everything you read from big media outlets. They lie a lot and have their own agendas.

Pray. Pray extra hard for the Church and for those in Rome during this Synod.

Finally, check out the articles below. Especially the commentary by Fr. Robert Barron.


Helpful Links and Articles:

Relatio post Disceptationem
Having Patience for the Sausage-Making Synod (Fr. Robert Barron)

Catholicism, Sex and Marriage (R.R. Reno)

The Great Catholic Cave-In that Wasn’t (George Weigel)

The Earthquake, the Vacuum, and the Still, Small Voice (Thomas Peters)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Boy Celebrates (Mass) In English/Latin

Gone are the days of private, pretend Masses as boys when no one is home, I guess!  They are now celebrated with the family.  This is an incredible video.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Homily - "You are precious, and I love you"

Please take out your phones...not to go into your email or text messages, but to go into the App Store.  Please download an app called, "Laudate". It's a great Catholic app that contains the Bible, among other things.  We wanted to give you pocket Gospels this year, just like Pope Francis handed out at World Youth Day in Rio last year.  Unfortunately, they really can't be purchased..guess it was a special deal for the Pope.  With this app, though, you have the Bible with you wherever you and your phone go.  You should be reading the Bible every day. The saying is, "ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ". Get to know Christ better through the Word.

Speaking of Scripture, we have cards for you that have a verse from Isaiah 43: "you are precious, and I love you" (v. 4).  Our campus minister, Julie, and our FOCUS missionaries, SJ, Becca, and Jim, are handing out a card to each of you now.  If you're thinking, 'I got this, I know it...  Fr Greg is always saying, "you are good and you are loved"', then listen to a story about Fr Larry Richards who is a well-known priest, author, and speaker in the Church.  He went on a retreat one time, looking forward to going deep with Scripture. The nun directing his retreat told him to meditate on Isaiah 43:1-5 which says God loves you.  He responded by saying, "Sister, I got that.  Can you give me something deeper and more advanced?" She insisted on those lines, and he finally agreed.  He then spent 4-5 days meditating on God's love for him, and it changed his life.  He went to the depths of his heart which rejoiced in being loved by God...who made his heart. So, even if you think you know that God loves you, have this card in clear sight - on your desk or somewhere you will see it - and meditate on the verse this week.

Now, our crew will pass out envelopes which have five of these cards in them.  A couple of weeks ago, I spoke about starting a campaign on campus as a result of the “hate preachers’” visit to Kogan plaza.  That motivated us to do this.  And then, we had yet another tragedy on our campus with the student jumping from Shenkman Hall on Thursday.  It’s a miracle that she survived, and we are praying for her recovery.  On Friday, we printed out 5,000 of these cards; tonight we launch this campaign of love through you.  Please give these cards to five people you know who need to hear the message from God that, “you are precious, and I love you”.

You are essentially sending out invitations.  Tonight’s Gospel is a parable of a king who sends out his servants to invite guests to his banquet.  It really tells the story between God us over the course of time.  God has invited his guests to a banquet which is his kingdom.  He has sent out prophets, apostles, and disciples to invite his sons and daughters.  You are modern-day apostles.  The word “apostle” means “one who is sent”.  God is calling you to invite people to receive his love through this campaign. 

Please don’t be afraid to give this card to five people who need to read it and think about it.  You could save a life.  You could save a heart.  You could save a soul. The message on this card is real.  It is really good.  We need to get it our real quick.  Many people on this campus – maybe even some of you here tonight – are hearing a different message in their heads every day, maybe even every hour.  It’s a message that says, “you are not precious.  You are a piece of trash.  God doesn’t love you, he is not even there.  No one loves you.  You are all alone”.  These thoughts are garbage.  They are not true.  They are not real.  “You are precious” is real! An “I love you” from God is really good.  We need to get this our really quick.

Today, I preached at a couple of different parishes about invitations.  I spoke about you, and how effective you have been at inviting other students to good events.  Through your invitations, almost twenty students came out yesterday morning in the cold and rain to serve coffee and breakfast to homeless men and women.  Through the attractive invitation of a student leader to Wednesday Adoration one week, we had several students every hour come to adore our Lord.  The best example, of course, has been narrated many times by Cardinal Wuerl: you have invited other students to Sunday Mass, and our Mass attendance has quadrupled in the past five years.  A Pew Research poll found that the number one reason students go to Mass during college is because they were invited by other students.  So, your personal invitation is powerful indeed.  Please don’t be afraid to invite others on our campus to receive God’s love.

Finally, if this initial invitation leads to another conversation, then great.  They might ask where these cards came from, and you can say that you received them at Mass from the GW Catholics.  You can invite them to the feast of “rich food and choice wines” that is Holy Mass.  You can invite to go to Confession or prayer or Bible study.  Invite them through your witness which means tell them of your experiences there, and the peace and joy you have experienced.  It is powerful indeed!  But, for now, I send you out tonight to give these invitations of God’s love.  This the message of Jesus Christ that is real, is really good, and needs to get out real quick: “you are precious, and I love you”.  


Friday, October 10, 2014

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

"Tommy and God"

Father John Powell, a professor at Loyola University in Chicago, writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy:

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of  Faith. That was the day I first saw Tommy. He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long.  I guess it was just coming into fashion then. I know in my mind that it isn't what's on your head but what's in it that counts; but on that day, I was unprepared and my emotions flipped. I immediately filed Tommy under "S" for strange... Very  strange. Tommy turned out to be the "atheist in residence" in my Theology of Faith course. He constantly objected to, smirked at or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father/God. We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.

When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a cynical tone, "Do you think I'll ever find God?" I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. "No!" I said very emphatically. "Why not," he responded, "I thought that was the product you were pushing."

I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then I called out, "Tommy!  I don't think you'll ever find Him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!"  He shrugged a little and left my class and my life.

I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line He will find you!  At least I thought it was clever.

Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was duly grateful. Then  a sad report came. I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer. Before I could search him out, he came to see me.   When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.

"Tommy, I've thought about you so often;  I hear you are sick," I blurted out. "Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It's a matter of weeks."  "Can you talk about it, Tom?" I asked. "Sure, what would you like to know?" he replied. "What's it like to be only twenty-four  and dying?  "Well, it could be worse."  "Like what?”  "Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real biggies in life.”

I began to look through my mental file cabinet under "S" where I had filed Tommy as strange. (It seems as though everybody  I try to reject by classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.)

"But what I really came to see you about," Tom said, "is something you said to me on the last day of class." (He remembered!) He continued, "I asked you if you thought    I would ever find God and you said, 'No!' which surprised me. Then you said, 'But He will find you.’ I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time. (My clever line. He thought about that a lot!) "But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, that's when I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven. But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened. Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success?  You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying. And then you quit."

"Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit. I decided thatI didn't really care about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable. I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: 'The essential sadness is to go through life without loving.’ But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them."

"So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him. "Dad."  "Yes, what?" he asked without lowering the newspaper.  "Dad, I would like to talk with you."  "Well, talk.”  "I mean. It's really important."
The newspaper came down three slow inches. "What is it?"  "Dad, I love you, I just wanted you to know that." Tom smiled at me and said it with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret  joy flowing inside of him. "The newspaper fluttered to the floor.  Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing
before. He cried and he hugged me. We talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me."

"It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years. I was only sorry about one thing --- that I had waited so long."

"Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to. Then, one day I turned around and God was there. He didn't come to me when I  pleaded  with Him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop,  'C'mon,  jump through. C'mon, I'll give you three days, three weeks.'  Apparently God does things in His own way and at His own hour. But the  important thing is that He was there.  He found me! You were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for Him."

"Tommy," I practically gasped, "I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize.  To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make Him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love. You know, the Apostle John said that. He said: 'God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living  in him.’
"Tom, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now.  Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what  you have just told me? If I told them the same thing it wouldn't be half as  effective as if you were to tell it.” "Oooh.. I was ready for you, but I don't know if I'm ready for your class." "Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call."

In a few days Tom called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me.  .So we scheduled a date. However, he never made it. He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time. "I'm not going to make it to your class" he said. "I know, Tom."  "Will you tell them for me?  Will you...tell the whole world for me?"  "I will, Tom. I'll tell them. I'll do my best."

So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read this simple story about God's love, thank you for listening.   And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven --- I told them, Tommy, as best I could.

If this story means anything to you please pass it on to a friend or two.
It is a true story and is not enhanced for publicity purposes.

With thanks, Rev. John Powell, Professor, Loyola  University, Chicago

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Homily - "Here"

“The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” ( Phil 4:6-9). In my time as  chaplain here, I have wanted you to experience the peace of God…the grace of God.  It’s what is best for you, and like any parent, I want what’s best for my (spiritual) kids.  We have tried just about everything in order for you to have an experience with the peace of God – on campus and elsewhere.  We have done many trips and pilgrimages – to World Youth Day in 2011 when we went to Madrid and stopped by Rome, Paris, and Lourdes; on mission trips and service trips over spring break in Appalachia.  These have all been good and grace-filled, and given GW Catholics an experience of the grace of God.

The most fruitful trip we have taken was our pilgrimage to the Holy Land this past May.  19 of us went for 10 days just before the trouble and bombings began.  It was an awesome trip…awesome!  It’s been interesting telling friends and family about it.  So many people said, “I want to hear all about it”, but then about 30 seconds into telling them all about it, they don’t want to hear any more.  It’s either that they aren’t interested anymore, or they say to stop talking about it because they are jealous and probably won’t ever go.  It is one of those “you had to be there” trips, and it’s hard to fully describe it, but I will try over the next few  minutes.

We spent the first few nights in Galilee on the “Mount of Beatitudes”.  This is where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, and it overlooks the Sea of Galilee.  It’s not a huge body of water, so we could look out over it and think, “this is where Jesus walked on water or called Peter or did this or that”.  This is where it happened!   This is where He was!  Going for a walk at night on the grounds, it was amazing to think, “this is where he preached the Sermon on the Mount”. We couldn’t believe where we were.  “The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel”.  We were in the vineyard!  It was a good primer for when we went up to Jerusalem.

For the 17 students, the pilgrimage really began in Nazareth at the Church of the Annunciation.  On the Church’s façade is a Latin phrase that meant, “the Word became flesh here”.  “Here” became a theme for the trip.  In many of the missals that I used at Mass at different sites, it said that (such-and-such) happened HERE.  I’ve never seen that in any of the prayer books at Mass.  We went into the Church, and down to the grotto of the Annunciation.  This is the cave where the angel appeared to Mary at her house when she was a teenager and revealed God’s Plan for Mary to conceive the Savior.  Mary said yes, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit…  “the Word became flesh”.  The students were so moved by this, and were saying, “this is where it all began”.  I was so psyched as a chaplain, firstly, because they are pro-life!  Life begins at conception, so the Word became flesh at conception.  December 25 is great and all that, but the Word became flesh at the Annunciation on March 25.  Secondly, the students were theologically accurate that God became man when Jesus was conceived at the Annunciation.

The most powerful moment was at Gethsemane where Jesus had his agony in the garden the night before He died.  We walked through the garden and saw the 2,000 year old trees that have been described as the “silent witnesses” of Christ’s agony.  We talked about the agony Christ went through; Mother Teresa said that he went through the worst human pain there is…loneliness, rejection, isolation.  He also sweated blood. Then, we went inside to the Church of Agony for Mass.  In the Church, there is a huge rock at the base of the altar.  It is believed that that rock is where Christ agonized and sweated blood.  It’s where He first shed His blood for us.  In thinking about his suffering – with which we could all identify – and the blood He shed, we heard the words at Mass that we probably take for granted: “this is my blood…poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins”.  The whole experience was so powerful…overwhelming, really.  It was the only Mass that I thought to suggest confessions after Mass because there were other priests there.  But, I totally forgot to announce it.  After Mass, I made my thanksgiving and went out to meet the group.  No one was around.  I was thinking, “where did they go?”  They were all in line for Confession.

The most emotional Mass we had was in the tomb.  IN. THE. TOMB.  Our guide hooked us up with an early morning Mass in the tomb where Christ was buried and rose.  It is in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  We first went up to Calvary which is the highest point in the Church.  We learned that at the time of the Crucifixion, Calvary was just outside of the city line, so as today’s Gospel says, “they threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him”.  We then went down to the floor of the Church to the tomb.  The students were in the front area, and I went alone to the small back area to celebrate Mass.  Our guide had said that he’s been to Mass in the tomb 50 times, and 3 times the priest cried.  No pressure!  Well, when I began Mass, the water works started immediately and continued all Mass.  It was literally Niagara Falls for me and all the students. We could barely talk.  I was offering Holy Mass on a marble slab where He lay…where He was buried…where He rose.  I was thinking the entire time, “who am I to be here doing this?”  We also thought of Mary Magdelene and the Apostles, and all the events of Holy Week that we celebrate so reverently every year.  We were right there where it all happened!

Many of the students who went were looking for an experience of the presence of God…of the peace of God.  Among the 19, we had some doubters.  We came back 19 believers.  There were 19 conversions in the Holy Land.  One of the graduating seniors quite her well-paying job in a law firm after the trip to work for the Church.  It was that powerful for all of us.  “Then the God of peace will be with you”.  The God of peace was with us.        



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Nats Mass" covered on TV!

Click HERE to see the story from Channel 7 this past weekend, featuring Fr. Drew Royals, founder of the "Nats Mass".

Monday, September 29, 2014

Homily - "You are good and you are loved"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

We had some excitement at Kogan Plaza on Wednesday as you might have "overheard (at GW)". Four men were preaching in the name of Christ all day with a bullhorn, but they weren't preaching Christ’s love. They were holding up the Bible, but misrepresenting it, misinterpreting it, and misusing it. When I walked up, they were saying Catholics aren't Christians.  Within a few minutes, I was being told that I perform "witchcraft" with the sacraments.  There was a small crowd of students there, most of whom were bewildered and angry.  Some came up to me to join forces, and really to urge me to speak to the men which I did. My first question to them was, "what are you trying to do here?"

What offended me most was not being called a witch or sorcerer or magician or whatever personal attacks they launched. (Btw, the one guy apologized for his personal attacks).  The thing that offended me the most was that they didn't even know you, and they were condemning you.  In twenty plus years of doing youth ministry, I've learned that you have to first establish trust, respect, and love with young people before you can preach to them....before you can reach them.  Those men were there just to preach, not to reach.

The second most offensive part of their "preaching" was that it was faith without reason.  They were unreasonable in their approach (preaching and not reaching), but also in the points they made.  The man on the bullhorn exclaimed, "baptism doesn't save!", while holding a Bible. In our conversation, I pointed out that the Bible says, "whoever is baptized will be saved" (Mk 16:16).  His main point was that we don't need the Church or the sacraments.  I pointed out that Jesus said we need the Eucharist in John 6: "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life" (53,54).  To that he said: "you make a good point".

There were about twenty to thirty students gathered around him and me while we discussed these things.  So, while I was focused on talking with him, I was really teaching them....many of whom were Catholic.  One came up to me afterwards and asked, "so, when did Jesus give his power to the Apostles?" Matthew 16, Matthew 18, Luke 10, John 20, and other places, I answered (and had quoted all this to the man).  He then asked, "how did they give it to others?" I said, "they ordained other priests and passed on the power...for 2000 years. It's called Apostolic Succession". He was taking notes at this point, looked up, and said, "Apostolic Succession! That is so cool!".  Yes, it is very cool! So, all that plus the positive media coverage showed that God brought good out of this bad situation.

Tonight's second reading says, "humbly regard others as more important than yourselves". Those men were on Wednesday primarily for themselves, not for you.  They were there to preach just to preach, not preach to reach.  Jesus mentions John in the Gospel; St. John the Baptist preached a tough message.  But, he reached tax collectors and prostitutes. They changed after hearing his preaching.  He preached "tough love".  But, those who heard it knew that he loved them.  What we heard on Wednesday was not tough love; it wasn't love.  It was just...tough.

Finally, I would really like to start a campaign of t-shirts or signs that say, “YOU ARE GOOD AND YOU ARE LOVED”.  I have heard that these men come to campus regularly, although Wednesday was the first time in five years that I’ve seen them here.  Let’s be ready the next time they come with signs or shirts.  Students protested with signs the other day, and I wish that I had thought to make a sign saying “YOU ARE GOOD AND YOU ARE LOVED” and hold it next to the men.  That is the message to give to young people, especially college students.  That is Christ’s attitude toward you, first and foremost! Everything starts there, and then later we get into more challenging stuff.  I will challenge you this year to say “yes” to Christ.  I will challenge you to say no to premarital sex and drunkenness, but will more emphasize saying yes to chastity, self-control, and virtue…to freedom.  I will encourage you to say yes to Christ!  On Wednesday, all you heard preached was “no”.  Who’s going to choose that? It’s much more attractive to say yes to good than to say no to bad. I will challenge you to say yes to Christ and what’s good because that is what is best for you.  When you love someone, you want what is best for them.  You know that I love you. You know I want what is best for you.

“Have the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus”.  Believe deeply in your hearts and minds what He thinks of you: YOU ARE GOOD AND YOU ARE LOVED.