Sunday, December 26, 2010

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family

In preparing for today’s homily I was scanning over Pope John Paul II’s letter to families issued on February 2, 1994 on the occasion of the Year of the Family. It dawned on me while looking through this letter that most families in the parish have never read this, or a multitude of the letters issued over time by the various popes. I want to share a few of the highlights as the Holy Family is to be an example for our own families.

In the beginning of his letter, Pope John Paul mentions the various paths that leads a person throughout life. He then comments,

Among these many paths, the family is the first and the most important. It is a path common to all, yet one which is particular, unique and unrepeatable, just as every individual is unrepeatable; it is a path from which man cannot withdraw. Indeed, a person normally comes into the world within a family, and can be said to owe to the family the very fact of his existing as an individual. (John Paul II 345)

He continues,

The family has its origin in that same love with which the Creator embraces the created world, as was already expressed "in the beginning", in the Book of Genesis (1:1). In the Gospel Jesus offers a supreme confirmation: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn3:16). The only©begotten Son, of one substance with the Father, "God from God and Light from Light", entered into human history through the family: "For by his incarnation the Son of God united himself in a certain way with every man. He laboured with human hands... and loved with a human heart. Born of Mary the Virgin, he truly became one of us and, except for sin, was like us in every respect". (3) If in fact Christ "fully discloses man to himself", (4) he does so beginning with the family in which he chose to be born and to grow up. We know that the Redeemer spent most of his life in the obscurity of Nazareth, "obedient" (Lc 2,51) as the "Son of Man" to Mary his Mother, and to Joseph the carpenter. Is this filial "obedience" of Christ not already the first expression of that obedience to the Father "unto death" (Ph 2,8), whereby he redeemed the world?
The divine mystery of the Incarnation of the Word thus has an intimate connection with the human family. Not only with one family, that of Nazareth, but in some way with every family, analogously to what the Second Vatican Council says about the Son of God, who in the Incarnation "united himself in some sense with every man". (5) (John Paul II 345)

How important is the family to society?

The family has always been considered as the first and basic expression of man's social nature. Even today this way of looking at things remains unchanged. Nowadays, however, emphasis tends to be laid on how much the family, as the smallest and most basic human community, owes to the personal contribution of a man and a woman. The family is in fact a community of persons whose proper way of existing and living together is communion: communio personarum. Here too, while always acknowledging the absolute transcendence of the Creator with regard to his creatures, we can see the family's ultimate relationship to the divine "We". Only persons are capable of living "in communion". The family originates in a marital communion described by the Second Vatican Council as a "covenant", in which man and woman "give themselves to each other and accept each other". (11) (John Paul II 345)

Pope John Paul mentions a Civilization of Love.

Yet there is no true love without an awareness that God "is Love" and that man is the only creature on earth which God has called into existence "for its own sake". Created in the image and likeness of God, man cannot fully “find him- self" except through the sincere gift of self. Without such a concept of man, of the person and the "communion of persons" in the family, there can be no civilization of love; similarly, without the civilization of love it is impossible to have such a concept of person and of the communion of persons. The family constitutes the fundamental “cell" of society. But Christ--the "vine" from which the "branches" draw nourishment--is needed so that this cell will not be exposed to the threat of a kind of cultural uprooting which can come both from within and from without. Indeed, although there is on the one hand the "civilization of love", there continues to exist on the other hand the possibility of a destructive "anti-civilization", as so many present trends and situations confirm.
Who can deny that our age is one marked by a great crisis, which appears above all as a profound "crisis of truth"? A crisis of truth means, in the first place, a crisis of concepts. Do the words "love", "freedom", «sincere gift", and even "person" and "rights of the person", really convey their essential meaning? This is why the Encyclical on the “splendour of truth" (Veritatis Splendor) has proved so meaningful and important for the Church and for the world--especially in the West. Only if the truth about freedom and the communion of persons in marriage and in the family can regain its splendour, will the building of the civilization of love truly begin and will it then be possible to speak concretely--as the Council did--about "promoting the dignity of marriage and the family". (35) Why is the "splendour of truth" so important? First of all, by way of contrast: the development of contemporary civilization is linked to a scientific and technological progress which is often achieved in a one-sided way, and thus appears purely positivistic. Positivism, as we know, results in agnosticism in theory and utilitarianism in practice and in ethics. In our own day, history is in a way repeating itself. Utilitarianism is a civilization of production and of use, a civilization of "things" and not of "persons", a civilization in which persons are used in the same way as things are used. In the context of a civilization of use, woman can become an object for man, children a hindrance to parents, the family an institution obstructing the freedom of its members. To be convinced that this is the case, one need only look at certain sexual education programmes introduced into the schools, often notwithstanding the disagreement and even the protests of many parents; or pro- abortion tendencies which vainly try to hide behind the so- called “right to choose" ("pro-choice") on the part of both spouses, and in particular on the part of the woman. These are only two examples; many more could be mentioned.
It is evident that in this sort of a cultural situation the family cannot fail to feel threatened, since it is endangered at its very foundations. Everything contrary to the civilization of love is contrary to the whole truth about man and becomes a threat to him: it does not allow him to find himself and to feel secure, as spouse, parent, or child. So-called "safe sex", which is touted by the "civilization of technology", is actually, in view of the overall requirements of the person, radically not safe, indeed it is extremely dangerous. It endangers both the person and the family. And what is this danger? It is the loss of the truth about one's own self and about the family, together with the risk of a loss of freedom and consequently of a loss of love itself. "You will know the truth", Jesus says, "and the truth will make you free" (Jn 8,32): the truth, and only the truth, will prepare you for a love which can be called “fairest love" (cf. Sir 24,24, Vulg.).
The contemporary family, like families in every age, is searching for “fairest love". A love which is not "fairest", but reduced only to the satisfaction of concupiscence (cf. 1 Jn 2,16), or to a man's and a woman's mutual "use" of each other, makes persons slaves to their weaknesses. Do not certain modern "cultural agendas" lead to this enslavement? There are agendas which "play" on man's weaknesses, and thus make him increasingly weak and defenceless.
The civilization of love evokes joy: joy, among other things, for the fact that a man has come into the world (cf. Jn 16,21), and consequently because spouses have become parents. The civilization of love means “rejoicing in the right" (cf. 1Co 13,6). But a civilization inspired by a consumerist, anti-birth mentality is not and cannot ever be a civilization of love. If the family is so important for the civilization of love, it is because of the particular closeness and intensity of the bonds which come to be between persons and generations within the family. However, the family remains vulnerable and can easily fall prey to dangers which weaken it or actually destroy its unity and stability. (John Paul II 345)

I guess the real question that comes up is how does one create this “civilization of love”? This civilization of love is based upon our giving of ourselves within the family. We need to get beyond the utilitarian aspects of which Pope John Paul speaks. The late holy father further points out in his letter that we need to hold on to the basic principles of married life. A marriage is between one man and one woman. A marriage is a total giving of self, including one’s fertility, to the other.

The family is a community of persons and the smallest social unit. As such it is an institution fundamental to the life of every society.
What does the family as an institution expect from society? First of all, it expects a recognition of its identity and an acceptance of its status as a subject in society. This "social subjectivity" is bound up with the proper identity of marriage and the family. Marriage, which undergirds the institution of the family, is constituted by the covenant whereby "a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life", and which "of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children". (40) Only such a union can be recognized and ratified as a "marriage" in society. Other interpersonal unions which do not fulfil the above conditions cannot be recognized, despite certain growing trends which represent a serious threat to the future of the family and of society itself.
No human society can run the risk of permissiveness in fundamental issues regarding the nature of marriage and the family! Such moral permissiveness cannot fail to damage the authentic requirements of peace and communion among people. It is thus quite understandable why the Church vigorously defends the identity of the family and encourages responsible individuals and institutions, especially political leaders and international organizations, not to yield to the temptation of a superficial and false modernity. (John Paul II 345)

I wish I could keep going on with more about the family, but I realize that families with little ones find it difficult to sit through long homilies. I’d like to sum this up with a few points.

The family is the basic building block of our society. We need to hold on to the true nature of family life.

We can all look to the faithfulness of the holy family of Nazereth as an example for our own families. While Joseph did not understand all that the angel proclaimed, he trusted. While we may not always understand all the God proclaims through the Church concerning families and family life, we need to trust her and her God given wisdom.

On this feast of the Holy Family, may each of you be blessed within your families both here and in heaven.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Homily for Christmas

Our psalm response for Midnight Mass is, “Today is born our savior, Christ the Lord.” With great joy we gather here to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. We come to commemorate that event some 2,000 years ago when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. We are gathered here for “Christ’s” Mass. The Prince of Peace has come into the world and shares in our human nature so that one day we may come to share eternal life with him forever.

When we look around today, our surroundings are far different from the stable at Bethlehem. Most of us came here in heated cars. We were in heated houses before we began our journey, and we gather in a heated church. Tonight we’ll sleep in comfortable beds. Yet, we look into the creche and we find a reminder that God came among us and began his earthly existence in a humble stable. There was scandal surrounding his very beginning. The angels called out to the shepherds and directed them to the new born King. They came, now knowing what to expect.

As we gather here tonight, we are familiar with the rest of the story. We know about Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. We have heard the good news he proclaimed. We have had the time to reflect upon what these things might mean in our hearts.

Throughout (tonight) today, and hopefully for the full twelve days of Christmas, we will be opening gifts. Perhaps we’ll open a package that has that book we’ve been wanting to read. Perhaps, if we are a child, or child like, we’ll find the toy we’ve been wanting. Maybe we’ll have a package with new clothes, or tools, or . . . . whatever it is that we really want for Christmas. It is important to remember that these gifts pale in comparison to the gift of God himself.

When we look around during this time of year we see houses with all sorts of decorations. Some of the decorations are definitely winter in theme such as overgrown snowpersons. Others start to get a grasp of our celebration by bringing in St. Nicholas. They still miss the point, besides his feast day was earlier this month. And then there are some that portray the birth of Christ. The real reason for the season. The reason for the season is the joy that Christ brings into the world. This joy is our hope as we look to our own futures. What are the decorations that adorn our lives? As we adorn our hearts and souls, do we continue to make Christ the center of our lives, not just on special days like Christmas, but always?

It is God’s love for us, and ours for him, that leads us to keep Christ as the central focus in our lives. We hear in a letter from Leo the Great,

The mystery of this boon is great, dearly beloved, and this gift exceeds all gifts that God should call man son, and man should name God Father: for by these terms we perceive and learn the love which reached so great a height. (Leo 2026)

This great gift of God taking on flesh becomes even more present in our lives when we participate, not just in the celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas, but when we share in the fruit of that gift, the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Whenever we gather for Mass the baby we see represented in our creche is truly present in our midst in the Eucharist. It is with great joy that we gather, not just on Christmas, but in some places, daily for Mass. The Word is in our midst in so many ways. As you celebrate this Christmas season, don’t forget the reason for this season. Don’t forget it is the reason for our lives as we celebrate the gift and adorn our lives with Christ.

May God bless you.

Homily for 4th Sunday of Advent

I'm a bit slow in posting this


Skies, let the Just One come forth like the dew, let him descend from the clouds like the rain. The earth will open up and give birth to our Saviour. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands

This verse, rooted in Isaiah, is a translation for the opening antiphon assigned to the Mass today.

One of the things I remember from my boy scout days is wilderness survival lessons. There was a secret for collecting water over night, even in most dry climates. One would dig a hole, place a cup in the bottom of the whole put a piece of plastic over the hole and secure it in place with dirt around the edges. One would then put a rock in the middle of the piece of plastic to create a low spot over the cup. Over night, dew would collect on the underside of the plastic, roll down to the low point created by the rock and drip into the cup. This bit of dew fall could save a person’s life.

At the time of Isaiah, the people were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the messiah. The image of the life giving water from heaven in the form of dew fall, or rain, was evident. The messiah would save the life of the people of Israel.

What the people of Israel did not expect was that the long awaited messiah would come to the world as a simple child. Despite the word of the prophet Isaiah, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel”, many were looking for a temporal messiah. They were looking for one who would lead them triumphantly over their enemies.

When the events from today’s Gospel started to occur, there were many who would not accept this child as the messiah. As he grew older, they did not understand his teachings about having come from the Father, having come down from heaven and returning to heaven.

We have the benefit of knowing the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey said. We know that this child, born simply in time, is the Savior of the world.

We are now in the time of immediate preparation for the celebration of the Nativity next Saturday. Last week we heard, “Rejoice in the Lord always, I say again rejoice. The Lord is near.” As we prepare for our celebration, let us take time to reflect upon the story. I would suggest that as we prepare for Christmas, that we take some time to read the beginning of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Both contain the true story of Christmas.

Let us also continue to pray in the spirit of the opening antiphon that the Lord would send down the life saving dew into our own lives. As I said last week, as we fall in love with Christ, we have reason to rejoice. As we realize all that Christ does and has done for us, including coming among us in time, we realize the love God shares with us. This is the source of our love for Him and for each other.

May God bless each one of you as you prepare for the celebration of Christmas.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

3rd Sunday of Advent Homily

Short and sweet this week

When most Catholics are asked how many scripture passages are assigned to the Sunday Mass they’ll answer 3. They are quick to remember the 1st reading, 2nd reading and the Gospel. When asked if there are more, and with a little more thought they throw in the psalm. Yet, that is still not all of the scriptures readings that are assigned to a particular Mass. We still have our alleluia verse, or during Lent our Gospel Acclimation.

There are two additional verses that are assigned to each Mass which usually do not come to mind because we have an option which often replaces these other two verses. Using our common terminology, these two verses would be the opening antiphon and the communion antiphon. I’ll have to admit that occasionally, these verses are not strictly taken from scriptures, but they allude to the feast which is being celebrated. It is common in many places to use the option for a hymn in place of one or both of these verses. Those who attend daily Mass know that I routinely use a hymn in place of the introit, or opening antiphon, but I recite the communion antiphon.

That being said, I’d like to share the introit that is assigned to our celebration of this Third Sunday of Advent, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” This comes from the fourth chapter of Phillipians, verses 4 and 5.

I sometimes wonder if we are truly filled with the joy that this holy season anticipates. I know from my own experience that it is easy to get caught up in the stress of the season as opposed to the joy of the season. But, even when we get away from the stress, what is the source of our joy? Is it the fact that we’ll be gathering with friends and family? Is it watching our children preform in their winter concerts? Is it the joy we have because we’ve reached out to someone else in need during this holy time of year?

As joyful as each of these events may be, there is something far greater in which we rejoice. We rejoice in the Lord who is near. Sometimes we need to really work on rejoicing in the Lord. It starts with our relationship with the Lord. How often do we spend time in prayer? When we do pray, how much time do we spend? Do we look forward to the opportunity to pray, or do we try to avoid prayer time? Do we “have to go to Mass because it’s Sunday”, or do we “get to go to Mass”? How we answer each of these questions gives us an idea about how we are doing as far as rejoicing in the Lord.

What do we do if our focus on the coming of Christ has gotten off track? The first thing we do is start with prayer, preferably before Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament. We should, in our prayer, ask God to help us fall in love with the Mass. As we fall in love with the Mass, we can look forward to attending Mass, not only on Sunday, but on other days as our schedules allow. As we fall in love with the Mass, we also come to appreciate the other sacraments as well.

The second half of our antiphon deals with the fact that the Lord is near. He will soon return. As we fall in love with Christ, it is easy to rejoice about the fact that he is near. Just as we get excited about the family and friends that will be joining us when we celebrate Christ’s first coming at Christmas, we can look forward with joy to his return in glory.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Homily for 2nd Sunday of Advent

As I was preparing for today’s homily I came across an encyclical that was written by Blessed John XXIII which he issued on July 1, 1962, shortly before the Second Vatican Council. I will be making frequent reference to his work throughout the homily this morning.

In our Gospel, we hear the story of John the Baptizer calling for all to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He was that voice crying out in the wilderness.

In our own times, we too need to take a fresh look at our lives to see how we are living out the faith in the modern world. In preparing for the council, Blessed John XXIII begins his encyclical,

Doing penance for one's sins is a first step towards obtaining forgiveness and winning eternal salvation. That is the clear and explicit teaching of Christ, and no one can fail to see how justified and how right the Catholic Church has always been in constantly insisting on this. She is the spokesman for her divine Redeemer. No individual Christian can grow in perfection, nor can Christianity gain in vigor, except it be on the basis of penance.

After making a few remarks about praying for the council and our need to do penance for the success of the council he continues by talking about the calls to penance in the bible.

5. Now we have only to open the sacred books of the Old and New Testament to be assured of one thing: it was never God's will to reveal Himself in any solemn encounter with mortal men—to speak in human terms—without first calling them to prayer and penance. Indeed, Moses refused to give the Hebrews the tablets of the Law until they had expiated their crime of idolatry and ingratitude.(5)

6. So too the Prophets; they never wearied of exhorting the Israelites to make their prayers acceptable to God, their supreme Overlord, by offering them in a penitential spirit. Otherwise they would bring about their own exclusion from the plan of divine Providence, according to which God Himself was to be the King of His chosen people.

7. The most deeply impressive of these prophetic utterances is surely that warning of Joel which is constantly ringing in our ears in the course of the Lenten liturgy: "Now therefore, says the Lord, Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments... Between the porch and the altar the priests, the Lord's ministers, shall weep and say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people, and give not thy inheritance to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them."(6)

8. Nor did these calls to penance cease when the Son of God became incarnate. On the contrary, they became even more insistent. At the very outset of his preaching, John the Baptist proclaimed: "Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."(7) And Jesus inaugurated His saving mission in the same way. He did not begin by revealing the principal truths of the faith. First He insisted that the soul must repent of every trace of sin that could render it impervious to the message of eternal salvation: "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."(8)

9. He was even more vehement than were the Prophets in His demands that those who listened to Him should undergo a complete change of heart and submit in perfect sincerity to all the laws of the Supreme God. "For behold," He said "the kingdom of God is within you."(9)

10. Indeed, penance is that counterforce which keeps the forces of concupiscence in check and repels them. In the words of Christ Himself, "the kingdom of heaven has been enduring violent assault, and the violent have been seizing it by force."(10)

11. The Apostles held undeviatingly to the principles of their divine Master. When the Holy Spirit had descended on them in the form of fiery tongues, Peter expressed his invitation to the multitudes to seek rebirth in Christ and to accept the gifts of the most holy Paraclete in these words: "Do penance and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."(11) Paul too, the teacher of the Gentiles, announced to the Romans in no uncertain terms that the kingdom of God did not consist in an attitude of intellectual superiority or in indulging the pleasures of sense. It consisted in the triumph of justice and in peace of mind. "For the kingdom of God does not consist in food and drink, but in justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."(12)

Penance and Baptismal Innocence

12. However, a rude awakening is in store for the person who thinks that penance is necessary only for those aspiring to membership in the kingdom of God. He who is already a member of Christ must learn of necessity to keep a rein upon himself. Only so will he be able to drive away the enemy of his soul and keep his baptismal innocence unsullied, or regain God's grace when it is lost by sin.

13. To become a member of Holy Church by baptism is to be clothed in the beauty with which Christ adorns His beloved Bride. "Christ loved the Church and delivered Himself up for her; that he might sanctify her, cleansing her in the bath of water by means of the word of life; in order that he might present to himself the Church in all her glory, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she might be holy and without blemish."(13)

14. This being so, well may those sinners who have stained the white robe of their sacred baptism fear the just punishments of God. Their remedy is "to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb"(14)—to restore themselves to their former splendor in the sacrament of Penance—and to school themselves in the practice of Christian virtue. Hence the Apostle Paul's severe warning: "A man making void the law of Moses dies without any mercy on the word of two or three witnesses; how much worse punishments do you think he deserves, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant through which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?... It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."(15)

As we hear these words from Blessed John XXIII, it is a call to us to sincerely look into our own lives. Many times it is easy for us to look at others and see them as the scribes and pharisees. Yet, sometimes we too take on those same tendencies. We are like the ones who attempt to remove the splinter from the eye of a brother while having a beam in our own eye. I know that in some of my homilies I have preached the message that I need to hear almost as much as those gathered in the congregation. I speak from my own experience of being a fallen human being, recognizing that I am far from perfect. Because of our attachment to the things of this world caused by the sin of Adam, Blessed John XXIII went on to remind us,

17. The very frequency with which this call to penance is reiterated [throughout her history] makes it imperative for Christians to recognize it as coming from the divine Redeemer for the purpose of bringing about their spiritual renewal. It is transmitted to us by the Church, in her sacred liturgy, in the teaching of the Fathers and the precepts of the Councils. "Make our souls to glow in Thy sight with desire of Thee."(17) "Help us to repress our worldly appetites, that we may the more easily obtain the blessings of heaven."(18) That is how the Catholic Church prays to God's Supreme Majesty in these ancient prayers from the Lenten liturgy.
Hearing the end of today’s Gospel reminds us all the more why personal penance is important for each one of us here today.

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thoughts from the past for this season of Advent

I was doing some searching for material for my Advent homily for this weekend and ran across this from John XXIII just before the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Here is a taste

Doing penance for one's sins is a first step towards obtaining forgiveness and winning eternal salvation. That is the clear and explicit teaching of Christ, and no one can fail to see how justified and how right the Catholic Church has always been in constantly insisting on this. She is the spokesman for her divine Redeemer. No individual Christian can grow in perfection, nor can Christianity gain in vigor, except it be on the basis of penance.

I would almost just take his Encyclical and use it for my homily this weekend. Maybe I can make use of extensive quotes. Hum!!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Homily for First Sunday of Advent 2010

First, I’d like to apologize to those who felt my homily last week was a personal attack on some of our musicians. That was not the intent, but I should have foreseen that possible interpretation.

We are now beginning the season of Advent. I believe last year I commented on the fact that Advent has two themes dealing with the waiting for Christ. The first part of Advent, through Dec 16 deals with waiting for Christ’s return in glory. Starting on Dec 17th we start to focus on and prepare more immediately to celebrate the birth of the Christ.

Our readings today deal with being awake so we are ready for Christ’s return. Not only are we to be awake, but we are to prepare for the coming of Christ.

In our second reading, from Paul’s letter to the Romans we heard:

Let us then throw off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,
not in orgies and drunkenness,
not in promiscuity and lust,
not in rivalry and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

And in the Gospel we heard, “So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Two weeks ago I spoke on preparing using the context of the motto of the Boy Scouts, “Be Prepared.” How is it that we start to be prepared.

We read in the CCC

2607 When Jesus prays he is already teaching us how to pray. His prayer to his Father is the theological path (the path of faith, hope, and charity) of our prayer to God. But the Gospel also gives us Jesus' explicit teaching on prayer. Like a wise teacher he takes hold of us where we are and leads us progressively toward the Father. Addressing the crowds following him, Jesus builds on what they already know of prayer from the Old Covenant and opens to them the newness of the coming Kingdom. Then he reveals this newness to them in parables. Finally, he will speak openly of the Father and the Holy Spirit to his disciples who will be the teachers of prayer in his Church.

2608 From the Sermon on the Mount onwards, Jesus insists on conversion of heart: reconciliation with one's brother before presenting an offering on the altar, love of enemies, and prayer for persecutors, prayer to the Father in secret, not heaping up empty phrases, prayerful forgiveness from the depths of the heart, purity of heart, and seeking the Kingdom before all else.(64) This filial conversion is entirely directed to the Father.

2609 Once committed to conversion, the heart learns to pray in faith. Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand. It is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to "seek" and to "knock," since he himself is the door and the way.(65) (1997 Catechism of the Catholic Church 2607)

This conversion of heart of which the CCC speaks comes with throwing off the “works of darkness”. This is truly the first step leading to fruitful prayer. Paul mentions the works of darkness and we’ve heard the list twice already this morning so I’ll not use them like a battering ram.

I do want to comment upon how easily we can get trapped in these “works of darkness.” In one of our recent CD of the month offerings, Matthew Kelly compares our soul to a car. I know, for some of us this requires us to move to our imagination.

Matthew talks about getting our car cleaned. We come out of the car wash. The interior has been vacuumed. The trash as all been left in garbage can. The dash has been wiped down with Armour-all. Wow! What a beautiful looking car we have. We start down the street and see a mud puddle. We go out of our way to make sure we don’t hit the mud puddle. The car is still clean. We go through the drive through for a Whooper. We are careful not to drop any of the lettuce on our lap and when we finish we make sure the bag is properly placed in the trash. As time goes on, the outside of the car starts to pick up a little dirt and grim from the road and just the dirt sticking to the dew on the outside of the car. After a while we might put a small wrapper in back seat to be picked up later. Soon, the back seat is filled with wrappers and other trash. We don’t care if we hit a mud puddle because the car is already dirty.

Our souls are much like this car. When we first get out of confession with our sins forgiven, we are excited to keep ourselves clean. As we go on through life, we start to pick up the dirt of daily living. Once the car shows a little dirt, or picks up a little trash in the back seat, it is easier to add little more. What difference does that little more make? Even the venial sins in our lives can start to add up and make us more open to the next sin. The “works of darkness” are growing in our hearts.

Jesus calls us to prepare because we do not know when the Son of Man will return. One of the ways we prepare is to work on cleaning our soul with a good confession. This is a step towards the conversion of heart from the CCC. Having received the sacrament of reconciliation, it makes it easier for us to work on the same reconciliation with others. Jesus talks about loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors. We hear of the need for prayerful forgiveness from the depths of our hearts. For these things, we need God’s grace working in our lives. That grace grows as we participate in the sacraments, especially the sacrament of reconciliation.

As we heard in the CCC, “Once committed to conversion, the heart learns to pray in faith.” Note it does not say once converted, but once committed to conversion. “ Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand.” We many times do not understand all we are asked to do in faith. As we pray and ask for God’s guidance, we may come to understand some of it more completely, but we may only be give the grace to accept certain things as a matter of faith. But, “It is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to "seek" and to "knock," since he himself is the door and the way.”

We do not know when the Son of Man will return. We do know we need to prepare and cast off “works of darkness.” We can do this through confession and prayer. May God bless you as you prepare for his return.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Homily for Christ the King, 2010

This it the text of the homily I plan to deliver tomorrow in my parishes.

I ran across a story recently about Dorothy Day. She was the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. She was very much aware of the need for social justice in the world. After the Second Vatican Council allowed parts of the Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular, or tongue of the people, she was pleased to say the least. Yet, she still saw a difference between the sacred and mundane. It seems that one day, a priest saying Mass for her group at a soup kitchen took a simple coffee cup to use as the chalice. Dorothy was greatly offended. After the Mass she took the coffee cup, kissed it and buried it so that it would no longer be used for the mundane. That cup had held the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Dorothy knew that this cup was no longer just a cup and did not want it to be confused as such. As I read from the person telling this story, “ I learned more about the Eucharist that day than I had from any book or sermon. It was a learning experience for the priest as well—thereafter he used a chalice.”

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King. In our Gospel reading we hear the story of Jesus own crucifixion. Above him there was an inscription that read, "This is the King of the Jews." Two criminals were also crucified with Jesus. One demanded that Jesus should show his kingship and save them all. The other, realizing a bit more about Jesus made a simpler request, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

The first criminal wanted to bring Jesus down to his level. He saw this king as a way out of the problem in which he found himself. His real focus was on himself – on his escape from the suffering and death he was about to face.

The second saw something greater and hoped to be raised up to the dignity of a person sharing in Christ’s kingdom. One was focused on the here and now while the other was being drawn to a far greater reality.

Many times in our daily lives, we fail to recognize Christ as King, but tend to see him more as a friend. We’ve brought him down to our earthly existence and we fail to focus on the heavenly banquet to which we are called. We can even see it sometimes in our celebration of the Mass. Our focus becomes about ourselves. I can’t help but think of the lyrics of a song that appears in popular hymnal, We Are the Church. This song focuses not on God, (Father, Son nor Holy Spirit), nor on Mary or one of the great saints. If focuses on us. The refrains is,
“We are the Church, the Body of Christ. We are the Church, a people redeemed. We are the Church, anointed to serve God’s Holy People, the People of God.”

The focus of this song is upon us and our earthly existence. The closest we come to actually acknowledging God’s role is to have him say, “Live in my marvelous light.” But the whole song sounds like it is all us doing the work.

Let’s contrast that to “To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King”.
To Jesus Christ, our Sovereign King
Who is the world’s salvation.
All praise and homage do we bring,
and thanks and adoration,
Christ Jesus, Victor
Christ Jesus, Ruler
Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer

This song truly directs our hearts and minds to a greater reality, that of Christ who is the ruler and king of our lives.

I think the sense of the mundane that has made an appearance in many Masses has caused us to forget that in the Mass, heaven and earth are united in the great banquet of heaven. The eternal sacrifice that was achieved on Cavalry is made present here and is offered for the forgiveness of our sins. We forget who it is that is present in so many ways during the course of the Mass. It is Christ who is present as we gather. It is Christ who is present as the Word is proclaim. It is Christ who, through the priest, transforms the bread and wine into his body, blood, soul and divinity. It is Christ who is most especially present on the altar. The Mass is not about us, but about getting beyond the ordinary to the extra-ordinary. It is about recognizing our Lord and King.

Yesterday, Bishop Conley, an auxiliary bishop from Denver, gave a talk on the translation of the new Roman Missal to the music people of that archdiocese. According to an article on the Catholic News Agency web page, Bishop Conley stated,

God “makes it possible for us, though we are but creatures, to sing and worship with the angels” – an awe-inspiring task for which household objects, popular music, and casual language are inappropriate. Bishop Conley indicated that many attempts to make worship feel more familiar, have instead made it less inspiring.

The use of a sacred vocabulary directs our hearts to the beyond. The occasional use of elements not common in the normal routine of our lives such as Latin, incense and bells will tell us something different is happening here than what is happening when we are in the store, or the beauty parlor, or even the bar.

I hope that over the next year, as we prepare to implement the translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, we’ll approach it with a new sense of awe and wonder.

Dorothy Day took the cup and buried it because the wine it once contained had become Jesus’ body, blood, soul and divinity, and the cup was now holy and sacred, not fit to be used for the mundane, but to be buried as sacred. She was able to recognize that there is truly a difference between the ordinary and extra-ordinary.

The inscription over the head of Jesus read, “This is the King of the Jews.” One criminal tried to lower Jesus to his way of life and demand that Jesus save them from death on the cross. The other looked ahead and asked to be with Jesus when he comes into his kingdom. We too look forward, but realize that as Jesus said, “today you will be with me in Paradise”, we are experiencing a taste of that Paradise as we worship God at this Eucharistic table where heaven and earth unite.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Homily for Nov 14, 2010

Here is the homily I've prepared for this weekend. If I record it I'll update this post

****Here is the link to the recorded homily*****

The motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared”. When Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the worldwide scouting movement, was asked about what this means he responded, “Be Prepared... the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.”

Some would say that this is a direct contradiction to today’s Gospel passage where Jesus says, “Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.”

Yet, I’d like to suggest that they go hand in hand. Jesus is reminding us that we do not need to prepare our defense. We don’t need to think ahead of time about how we might answer questions if we are brought before the authorities.

I think the real key to Baden Powell’s idea is to “prepare by . . . practicing how we act . . . so that [we are] never taken be surprise.”

I’ve mentioned in daily homilies before how I am astonished about how some groups of people react when a prophet of some sort says the end is near. People gather together and start reading scripture. They start to pray. Some even go through some sort of confession. I guess this is what we as Catholic refer to as immediate preparation. This is the last bit of preparation that needs to take place to be ready for something.

Yet, we need to also think about remote preparation. I’ll give you a quick example of the difference. When I preach a homily on the virtues of marriage and what it means to be married I am remotely preparing people for marriage. When they come to meet with me to prepare for their reception of the sacrament, we are doing immediate preparation.

How do we remotely prepare ourselves for the end days? A good start would be to do what people do when they think the end is near. Start by taking time to grow as people of prayer. Spend time reading the scriptures. Go to confession.

These ideas are the beginning of practicing how we act so that we are not taken by surprise.

When scouts learn about first aid, they usually have all of the things they need at hand to make a splint and to make a sling. They learn the principles needed to stop bleeding with dressings and bandages at hand. When scouts face real life emergencies, they do not have splints and slings and dressings and bandages. The scouts fall back upon their training to use what they can find to make a difference. Scouts learn to think through the emergency to get the results that are desired.

Earlier this month, five young scouts were out elk hunting with their fathers. The boys were in one tent with a wood stove to keep them warm that night. They got up the next morning, enjoyed their breakfast and then went over to the tent in which their fathers were sleeping to let them know they were taking off to hunt. When they got to the tent they found the men unconscious and suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of having a propane heater running all night in the tent. The boys reacted quickly to remove the men from the tent and to go for help. They had fallen back upon the training they had received as boy scouts.

We will face a lot of persecution for our faith. We will face people questioning our beliefs. We will need to be prepared.

In addition to reading scripture and learning to pray, we need to live our lives dedicated completely to Christ. We need to live moral lives that are an example. If we are practicing our faith to the fullest, we will be ready when the time comes.

Lord Baden Powell also said, “A Scout is never taken by surprise; he knows exactly what to do when anything unexpected happens.”

Jesus told us in today’s gospel, "Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.”

If we live the faith in all that we do, we will have the wisdom given by Christ that will make our adversaries powerless and in reality make us strong.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

YouTube - The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Just a reminder of this event 35 years ago.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sacred vs. Secular Music at Mass

Great idea and message, but I'm not sure I appreciate the artificialness of the video. Thanks Corpus Christi Watershed

Fr. Barron comments on Eucharistic Adoration

This is a little old, but I think we need to hear this message. It ties into my talk last month on Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

ObamaCare: The Facts On Abortion

Where will our taxpayer money end up?

Monday, September 27, 2010

How we pray what we believe

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi from Leo McDowell on Vimeo.

I’m not sure how many Catholics today have heard the axiom, “lex orandi, lex credendi”.
Last year, for Catechetical Sunday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a document, “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi: The Word of God in the Celebration of the Sacraments”. Near the beginning of the document they write:
Literally translated, it means “the law of prayer [is] the law of belief.” This axiom is an adaptation of words of Prosper of Aquitaine, a fifth-century Christian writer and a contemporary of St. Augustine. The original version of the phrase, ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi (“that the law of praying establishes the law of believing”), highlighted the understanding that the Church’s teaching (lex credendi) is articulated and made manifest in the celebration of the liturgy and prayer (lex orandi).1 We understand this to mean that prayer and worship is the first articulation of the faith. The liturgy engages belief in a way that simply thinking about God or studying the faith does not naturally do. In other words, in an act of worship, the faithful are in dialogue with God and are engaged in an active and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and every individual member of the liturgical assembly is connected to one another as members of the mystical Body of Christ in the Holy Spirit, as they look together with hope for the salvation promised in the Kingdom of Heaven. Theology, christology, ecclesiology, pneumatology, and eschatology are all expressed in word and deed, in sign and symbol, in liturgical acts.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Come by the Hills

Thought I'd share a little video I recorded this evening :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mother Teresa and Love of Christ

In August, we celebrated what would have been the 100th birthday of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In September we celebrated the 13 anniversary of her death. The US Postal Service issued a stamp on that day in her honor. Most of us are familiar with Mother Teresa's story, but I want to hit a few highlights. Mother Teresa left home at age 18 to join the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. She soon found herself in India, teaching at a girls school. While teaching the more affluent families, she was constantly aware of the poor who were in the neighborhood of the school

In 1946, while on her way to make a retreat she heard what she later explained as “a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and, instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.”

After getting permission to leave the Loreto Sisters and start a new community, Mother Teresa took some courses in nursing and returned to India to take care of the "poorest of the poor". Mother Teresa did not care for them because they were poor, but because she could see Christ in each one of them.

As we grow in our love for Christ, we need to seek to recognize Christ where he is present. This means in the Eucharist, in the person of the priest, and in the others we see around us. It is easy to get caught up in our own world and not see Christ in the other. Take some time this month to step back and look.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Bishop Olmsted says ‘divisive’ attempted ordination of woman harms Church :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Thought I'd share this. Be sure to read the whole story at the link on the bottom of the post
he Catholic Bishop of Phoenix responded Wednesday to a priest’s reported participation in an attempted priestly ordination of a woman. Urging prayers for all involved, he said such actions are “divisive” and have “profoundly harmful consequences.”

Writing in a Sept. 1 letter published in the Catholic Sun, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted informed Catholics in the diocese that a “schismatic group” in Tempe, Arizona called the Ecumenical Catholic Communion tried to ordain a woman. Fr. Vernon Meyer, a priest of the Diocese of Phoenix, reportedly participated in the alleged ordination.

Bishop Olmsted says ‘divisive’ attempted ordination of woman harms Church :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Archbishop Chaput: "Systematic Discrimination Against Church Now Seems Inevitable"

Excerpts from Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput's address to the 15th symposium for the Canon Law Association of Slovakia on TuesdayArchbishop Chaput: "Systematic Discrimination Against Church Now Seems Inevitable"

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sing a Joyful Song

As most of you may know, two years ago I spent the summer in Kyrgyzstan. While there one night, I picked up the movie “August Rush”. It is a story about a child in foster care who is the son of two musicians who met one night. The child follows the music until he is reunited with his parents. The antagonist asks young Evan, later named August Rush, “Do you know what music is?” He continues, “It’s God’s little reminder that there is something else besides us in this universe.”

Oftentimes, we fail to appreciate all that music can bring into the world and into our community. It is said that Saint Augustine once said, “He who sings, prays twice.” This may not be the direct quote, but it gives a sense about his thought. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, author of the blog, “What Does The Prayer Really Say?” offered some of his own research on the subject a few years ago which he details in his blog on February 20, 2006.

Having written my thesis on Augustine I decided to dig into this. I happen to have my trusty CCL 39 nearby. Looking up that reference we find what Augustine really said:

Qui enim cantat laudem, non solum laudat, sed etiam hilariter laudat; qui cantat laudem, non solum cantat, sed et amat eum quem cantat. In laude confitentis est praedicatio, in cantico amantis affectio. . . For he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyfully; he who sings praise, not only sings, but also loves Him whom he is singing about/to/for. There is a praise-filled public proclamation (praedicatio) in the praise of someone who is confessing/acknowledging (God), in the song of the lover (there is) love.

This is a very interesting passage. Augustine is saying that when the praise is of God, then something happens to the song of the praiser/love that makes it more than just any kind of song. The object of the song/love in a way becomes the subject. Something happens so that the song itself becomes Love in its manifestation of love of the one who truly is Love itself.

When one really thinks about our celebration of the Mass, we see the role that music plays. We have the hymns and psalms that we sing. The various parts of the Mass are also meant to be sung. I have found it sad, that some of those who questioned our singing of the Latin parts, and even refused to sing them, often don’t even attempt to sing the English parts. Our singing at Mass should reflect our praise and love of God who is the creator of all. As we join in song our minds and hearts should be directed heavenward and fill us with a sense of the wonder of God.

As we gather at Mass, whether you have been blessed with a beautiful voice, or one that is not so beautiful, please make the attempt to make a joyful sound unto the Lord. We are called to raise our voices to the God above, and the key word here is “we”.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mass becomes 'perverted' when 'community celebrates itself,' laments Spanish cardinal

Here is another great article from Catholic News Agency

Lima, Peru, Jun 3, 2010 / 10:05 pm (CNA).- During a conference in Peru this week, a Spanish cardinal expressed sadness over the fact that often, the Mass is “reduced to a mere banquet, a celebration of the community,” instead of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. He noted that “Worship becomes perverted when we have a celebration in which the community celebrates itself.”

The prelate added that the primary focus of the Mass should be God.

Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, made his remarks at the Eucharistic and Marian Congress taking place in Lima, Peru, earlier this week.

Speaking to some 2,000 participants at the event organized by the Archdiocese of Lima, Cardinal Canizares first emphasized that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the life of every Christian and that “the Church is the living and efficacious sacrament of union with God and unity among the entire human race.” This union, he said, “is only possible through participation in the Body of Christ. This is what happens in the Eucharist.”

“The Eucharist is only possible through the priesthood,” he added. “Consequently, the Church can exist only with priests.”

“We priests are necessary not only so that the Church can function or be well organized or can teach doctrine,” the cardinal continued. “We are priests in order for there to be Eucharist. If we do not recover this, there will be no vocations. Consequently, what is at stake is the future.”

Cardinal Canizares also underscored the centrality of the sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist, saying that oftentimes, the Mass is “reduced to a mere banquet, a celebration of the community, a commemoration, but not the very sacrifice of Christ who gives himself up for us on the Cross.”

“Without this we can understand nothing about the Eucharist and we celebrate nothing more than ourselves,” he said.

“We have become secularized and convinced that everything has been the result of our own creativity,” the prelate remarked. However, what truly matters is that “we recognize the mystery, that the mystery be celebrated. We must remember God’s right. God tells us how the mystery, how the celebration should be carried out.”

After underscoring the spirit of renewal proposed by Vatican II, Cardinal Canizares noted that the council fathers placed a priority on liturgical renewal because “we cannot understand (the Vatican II document) Gaudium et Spes if our understanding is not based on the foundation for everything: the Eucharist.”

“There will not be a Gaudium et Spes Church if it is not a Sacrosantum Concilium Church,” he added. For this reason, the Pope has a great interest in the liturgy. For this reason, when renewal is understood merely in terms of changes to the rite, we do not understand anything that the Holy Father is telling us,” he added.

“Renewal does not mean a different puppet show every day,” the cardinal underscored. “It means making it possible to celebrate the mystery of faith that occurs. This renewal must express the entire reality of the mystery. Worship becomes perverted when we have a celebration in which the community celebrates itself. The principle should be that God occupies the central place.”

The Spanish prelate noted that in Communion, it is not we who assimilate Christ, “but rather He who assimilates us unto himself,” and consequently we are pulled out of our individuality. “Thus the Eucharist takes on a social nature.”

“To celebrate the Eucharist is to bring about the renewal of society,” he said. “For this reason, renewing the sense of the Eucharist is what guarantees a future for the Church. This is the true danger for a humanity that does not acknowledge God.”

Copyright © CNA

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I just ran across this post from a former classmate. Although it was written almost three years ago, it is still relevant today.

Pope Benedict XVI has just made it possible for any priest in the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate the Mass of the Roman Missal 1962. That is to say, the priest is now able to celebrate Mass in Latin with a special ritual that resembles the older Mass ritual performed before 1965. For a point of reference, rent any movie that deals with Catholicism (usually something with either the Devil or the Mafia in it) and most likely the Mass will be Latin.

The instruction (motu proprio) is available in Latin and English here.

You will notice at St. John here in Oxford, we use Latin quite a bit during our Masses. However, we do not do the so-called "Latin Mass". The Mass we celebrate is called the "Novus Ordo" Mass and this Mass has been the "ordinary" Mass for the Catholic Church since the 1970's.

So what's up with the Latin at St. John's?

Normally, we use Latin sparingly during the Mass. The parts most likely that are in Latin are:

Kyrie: "Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison" which means "Lord, have mercy" and "Christ, have mercy". The words are actually Greek and the chant form we use is used throughout the world. For nerds, "Kyrie" is also used on many video games as background music such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. But I've said too much.

Sanctus: This is also known as the "Holy, Holy" in English. Some of the terms in the Sanctus are a bit different in the Latin than in English. For instance, where the English says "Lord, God of power and might" which is pretty cool, the Latin says, "Dominus, Deus Sabbaoth" which means "Lord, God of 'invincible armies'" in a literal translation. Now, that sounds even cooler! Like an army made of Iron Men! Or not....

Agnus Dei: Note for note, the Latin "Agnus Dei" is the "Lamb of God" without some of the English derivations such as "Lamb of God, prince of peace" or the innovative "Lamb of God, dancer of dreamshadows, weaver of womyn's song" or some other thing like that. From the book of Revelation, Jesus is the Lamb of God and the redeemed people are gathered around him praising him day and night. This ancient form of "Agnus Dei" chant unites us with the saints in a mystical and beautiful way.

Salve Regina, Ubi Caritas, etc: Well, actually we don't sing "etcetera" which is also Latin but not Churchy Latin. The other uses of Latin are in some traditional hymns and songs. "Salve Regina" is the "Hail Holy Queen" (not exactly the same one Whoopi Goldberg sang in "Sister Act" but close enough) and "Ubi Caritas" is a classic monastic hymn that says "Where you find charity and love, you will find God".

We use the Latin in our Mass for a few reasons:

1. We serve an international Catholic community. Jews have Hebrew, Muslims have Arabic, Christians have Latin. It's the language of the Church and it does unite us with our brothers and sisters from Africa, Asia, Europe and Central America.

2. Latin is supposed to be used! Although the vernacular is encouraged in the celebration of the Mass, Latin was never to have been abandoned.

3. Young people appreciate tradition. In the 70's, the priests and nuns listened to the youth and celebrated Mass that would bring relevance to their lives. From Masses held in the middle of fields, to the priest painted up in clown makeup and dancing around the altar, to the nun wearing a stole made of burlap and playing "I AM WOMAN" for the closing hymn, innovation and creativity was used during Mass. And it wasn't too cool. It was more like your dad singing a Gwen Stefani song to be "hip".
The youth of this generation wants stability and something they can count on. The use of Latin and the reverence given to the Mass is something that is more than "cute" or grasping at relevance. It's true.

4. Ole Miss is a teaching institution. So why not learn how to be Catholic? I have an obligation as pastor to give you the best our Catholic tradition has so when you move on in 2, 4, 13 years, you at least will have the fundamentals of the faith that will have you at home in any Church throughout the world. You're welcome.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Making God visible is highest priority today, Pope says at vigil

From the Catholic News Agency

Fatima, Portugal, May 12, 2010 / 06:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- We must not be afraid to share our faith, said Pope Benedict XVI from the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on Wednesday evening. The "highest priority" today is to make God present in the world lest his light be "snuffed out forever."

The Pope was joined by thousands of candle-bearing faithful for the traditional prayer vigil before the Solemnity of Our Lady of Fatima, celebrated every May 13. He blessed the candles for the procession and recited the Rosary with the people.

Speaking about the crowd of pilgrims, the Pope said that seeing so many people with candles reminded him of "a sea of light" around the Chapel of Apparitions, "lovingly built to the honor of the Mother of God and our mother, whose path from earth to heaven appeared to the shepherd children like a way of light."

At the same time, the light is neither ours nor of Mary, Benedict observed, saying that "we receive it from Jesus.”

"His presence within us renews the mystery and the call of the burning bush which once drew Moses on Mount Sinai and still fascinates those aware of the light within us which burns without consuming us."

Further developing the image of the burning bush, the Holy Father said, "we are merely a bush, but one upon which the glory of God has now come down. To him therefore be every glory, and to us the humble confession of our nothingness and the unworthy adoration of the divine plan..."

The Pope then went on to recount the story of Moses who guided his people to freedom in the promised land. He said, this was not about the possession of land or a national territory "to which every people has a right," rather, at the center of Moses' struggle for the freedom of Israel is “above all the freedom to worship, the freedom of a religion of one’s own.”

"Throughout the history of the chosen people, the promise of a homeland comes more and more to mean this: the land is granted in order to be a place of obedience, a window open to God."

These days, said the Holy Father, in places where it seems as though the faith is like "a light in danger of being snuffed out forever, the highest priority is to make God visible in the world and to open to humanity a way to God." This doesn't refer to just any god, he said, but to the God whose love was shown in the crucified and risen Christ.

The Pope implored the faithful not to be afraid to show the faith or speak of God.

Reminded of how the shepherd-children entrusted themselves to Mary's influence and the many times we have been urged to pray the Rosary, the Pope then invited Catholics to allow themselves “to be attracted by the mysteries of Christ, the mysteries of Mary’s Rosary."

Reciting the Rosary, he explained, turns our eyes and hearts to Jesus. When Catholics meditate on the mysteries the Rosary, he said, "let us reflect upon the interior mystery of Jesus ... let us contemplate the intimate participation of Mary in the mystery of our life in Christ today, a life which is also made up of joy and sorrow, of darkness and light, of fear and hope."

Grace, he continued, will thus fill our hearts and lead us to say as St. Paul did, “For me to live is Christ.”

Laying the worries and hopes of our times at the feet of the Virgin Mary, the Pope asked for her intercession that all peoples, Christians and non-Christians, "may live in peace and harmony" and be united as "the one people of God, to the glory of the most holy and indivisible Trinity."

Following the prayer, the Holy Father returned to the House of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, while Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone celebrated the Vigil Mass before the Solemnity of Our Lady of Fatima.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Knights need to be a witness for life

I wrote the following for the Montana State Council of the Knights of Columbus newsletter.

Where do we stand as far as putting our faith into practice, not only in our church attendance, but in all that we do as Knights? I bring this up because of recent events related to Council 140 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Members of the council become members of the Casey Home Association which owns the Casey Function Center, which is basically the KC Hall. Note the pun Casey=KC? All sounds good so far.

In May, it became known that the Casey Function Center had entered a rental agreement to NARAL Pro-Choice (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) for a fund raising event. After some concerns were raised, the Casey Function Center canceled the contract. While this part of the story sounds like a good ending, one needs to ask how this rental agreement happened in the first place.

But, let's look at the rest of the story. It appears that the current president of the Casey Home Association is upset that they were required to cancel the contract. Remember that he is a member of the local council. He is now attempting to sever all ties between the local council and the Casey Home Association. After he accomplishes this separation, he plans on leaving the Knights of Columbus and maybe even the Catholic Church. If the Casey Home Association is made up of members of the Knights of Columbus, how can this happen?

What is happening to the Church? As Knights, we are called to defend the Church. We are called to be witnesses in the world to the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until natural death. For some reason, we've gotten in our minds that we can be personally opposed to something which is evil, but allow, or even sometimes promote, evil in our society. We can not allow society to control who we are as Catholics. We need to be transforming society.

In the vision of the president of the Casey Home Association, it is not Christian if the organization does not rent to anyone regardless of color, race, or creed. I do not believe that color or race should prevent us from allowing a group to use our facilities. But, if they profess something that is completely at odds to what we believe as Catholics, we need to take a stand. It is not Christian to allow evil to take over our society.

Perhaps this is a good time for each of the councils in Montana to take a look at the policies which exist concerning their ties with their halls, and their rental policies. If the policies would allow anyone to question our total support for live, perhaps it is time for us to rework those polices before we end up in a sitituation like that of Council 140 in Portsmouth.

Until next time may God bless you. Vivat Jesus

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Chouteau County Christmas

I just ran across this video on the Get Lost in Montana webpage. My parish and I get mentioned towards the end of the video. There is even a glimpse of my secretary when they are talking about the churches in Fort Benton, and I saw a few parishioners from Geraldine in the earlier photos.

Choteau County Christmas from Lynn Donaldson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Translation to be Released Soon?

This letter was posted in the Daily Bulletin of the Vatican Press Office

Dear Cardinals,

Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,

Members and Consultors of the Vox Clara Committee,

I thank you for the work that Vox Clara has done over the last eight years, assisting and advising the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English translations of liturgical texts. This has been a truly collegial enterprise. Not only are all five continents represented in the membership of the Committee, but you have been assiduous in drawing together contributions from Bishops’ Conferences in English-speaking territories all over the world. I thank you for the great labour you have expended in your study of the translations and in processing the results of the many consultations that have been conducted. I thank the expert assistants for offering the fruits of their scholarship in order to render a service to the universal Church. And I thank the Superiors and Officials of the Congregation for their daily, painstaking work of overseeing the preparation and translation of texts that proclaim the truth of our redemption in Christ, the Incarnate Word of God.

Saint Augustine spoke beautifully of the relation between John the Baptist, the vox clara that resounded on the banks of the Jordan, and the Word that he spoke. A voice, he said, serves to share with the listener the message that is already in the speaker’s heart. Once the word has been spoken, it is present in the hearts of both, and so the voice, its task having been completed, can fade away (cf. Sermon 293). I welcome the news that the English translation of the Roman Missal will soon be ready for publication, so that the texts you have worked so hard to prepare may be proclaimed in the liturgy that is celebrated across the anglophone world. Through these sacred texts and the actions that accompany them, Christ will be made present and active in the midst of his people. The voice that helped bring these words to birth will have completed its task.

A new task will then present itself, one which falls outside the direct competence of Vox Clara, but which in one way or another will involve all of you – the task of preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy and lay faithful. Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world.

Dear Brother Bishops, Reverend Fathers, Friends, I want you to know how much I appreciate the great collaborative endeavour to which you have contributed. Soon the fruits of your labours will be made available to English-speaking congregations everywhere. As the prayers of God’s people rise before him like incense (cf. Psalm 140:2), may the Lord’s blessing come down upon all who have contributed their time and expertise to crafting the texts in which those prayers are expressed. Thank you, and may you be abundantly rewarded for your generous service to God’s people.

I wonder if this is a sign the new translation is going to be approved and released soon? Is it possible that we'll have things in place to start using it this Advent? I know I'll be ready and will be able to educate my parishes by then. The only people in my parish who will not understand the new translation will be those who are willfully ignorant.

Can you tell I'm getting excited?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Some Thoughts on Communion

It is interesting the discussions that take place over time in the life of the parish. Some of the conversations are first hand, and others tend to come to me via a more remote process.

One such conversation that has been taking place in the parish relates to an experience of a parishioner who was traveling over Easter. They had attended the Vigil Mass in Florida. At communion time, the priest made it clear that only Catholics, an only those in good standing in the Church, could come up for communion. The parishioners were put out by the fact that the priest would make such an announcement.

At dinner last night, a similar conversation took place. We were talking about why a priest might make such an announcement. This is especially troublesome to some because other priests invite everyone to come forward. Is it any wonder that people are confused?

Also yesterday a couple of parishioners were talking about an experience the week before of confirmation and 1st communion. Our retired bishop was talking to one of the candidates and reminded him that he should not be eating potato chips right before Mass. His teacher asked what the problem was about. When the bishop explained about the hour fast before communion, she indicated that she did not know that fasting was a requirement.

I’d like to go back and discuss a little about the announcement by the priest in Florida. Why does the Catholic Church not have, what other churches call, “open communion”? Perhaps this reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church will help us understand the answer to the question.

1384The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: "Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."

1385To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself."(1 Cor 11:27-29) Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.

1386 Before so great a sacrament, the faithful can only echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion: "Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea" ("Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed."). And in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom the faithful pray in the same spirit:O Son of God, bring me into communion today with your mystical supper. I shall not tell your enemies the secret, nor kiss you with Judas' kiss. But like the good thief I cry, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

1387 To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. [Code of Canon Law #919 §1. A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine. §2. A priest who celebrates the Most Holy Eucharist two or three times on the same day can take something before the second or third celebration even if there is less than one hour between them. §3. The elderly, the infirm, and those who care for them can receive the Most Holy Eucharist even if they have eaten something within the preceding hour.] Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.

1388 It is in keeping with the very meaning of the Eucharist that the faithful, if they have the required dispositions, receive communion when they participate in the Mass. As the Second Vatican Council says: "That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's Body from the same sacrifice, is warmly recommended."

1389 The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season. But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily. (1997 Catechism of the Catholic Church)

In his encyclical letter, Sacramentum caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI stated

The Synod Fathers rightly stated that a love for the Eucharist leads to a growing appreciation of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Given the connection between these sacraments, an authentic catechesis on the meaning of the Eucharist must include the call to pursue the path of penance. We know that the faithful are surrounded by a culture that tends to eliminate the sense of sin and to promote a superficial approach that overlooks the need to be in a state of grace in order to approach sacramental communion worthily. The loss of a consciousness of sin always entails a certain superficiality in the understanding of God's love. Bringing out the elements within the rite of Mass that express consciousness of personal sin and, at the same time, of God's mercy, can prove most helpful to the faithful. Furthermore, the relationship between the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation reminds us that sin is never a purely individual affair; it always damages the ecclesial communion that we have entered through Baptism. For this reason, Reconciliation, as the Fathers of the Church would say, is laboriosus quidam baptismus; they thus emphasized that the outcome of the process of conversion is also the restoration of full ecclesial communion, expressed in a return to the Eucharist. (Sacramentum caritatis EN 20)

It is clear from the above that one puts his soul in danger when he comes to communion unworthily. In the same token, the pastor who is responsible for the souls of his flock, is neglecting his duties if he does not advise those not in the state of grace about this danger. The pastor who refuses to call these situations to the mind of his flock not only jeopardizes their souls, but his own. This being the case, it is easy to understand why a priest would announce the need for the gathered congregation to truly examine their mortal state. On occasions such as Easter and Christmas, when many of those gathered are there for the first time in a long time, we can see the added need of making this known. Many of those who are gathered have not been practicing the faith and it is probably that many do not understand that they should not be coming forward for communion.

Of course, if a First Communion teacher does not realize the requirements for fasting before communion, it is probable that there are many other Catholics out there who do not understand the need for confession before communion if they are in the state of mortal sin. I often wonder what our kids are taught in many of our Religious Education programs. I’m guessing it is not a sense of the sacred that exists in the Blessed Sacrament.

It is clear that we need to pray for the Church and for all Catholics that they may understand the gift we receive in Holy Communion and the proper disposition one should have when coming forward.


VATICAN CITY, 25 APR 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope quoted the theme of this year's World Day, "witness awakens vocations", noting how it is "closely linked to the life and mission of priests and of consecrated persons.

"The first form of witness that awakens vocations is prayer", he added, calling on parents to pray that "their children's hearts may open to listening to the Good Shepherd", because He alone "protects His flock with immense tenderness and defends it from evil, and in Him alone can the faithful place their absolute trust".

The Holy Father continued: "On this day of special prayer for vocations, I particularly encourage ordained ministers, stimulated by the Year for Priests, to feel a commitment 'to interior renewal for the sake of a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world'; to remember that the priest 'continues the work of redemption on earth'; to pause 'frequently before the tabernacle'; to remain 'completely faithful to their vocation and mission through the practice of an austere asceticism': to make themselves available for listening and forgiveness; to undertake the Christian formation of the people entrusted to their care; and to cultivate 'priestly fraternity'".

After praying the Regina Coeli, Benedict XVI turned his attention to two priests, Angelo Paoli and Jose Tous y Soler, today proclaimed as Blesseds in, respectively, Rome and Barcelona, Spain. The former was an "apostle of charity in Rome, nicknamed the 'father of the poor'. He dedicated himself particularly to sick and convalescent people in the hospital of San Giovanni".

Jose Tous y Soler, founder of the Institute of the Capuchin sisters of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd, despite numerous trials and difficulties, never allowed himself to be overcome with bitterness or resentment. He stood out for his exquisite charity and his capacity to bear and understand the shortcomings of others", said the Pope.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Homily for World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Here is this week's homily.

Today, this “Good Shepherd Sunday”, we are celebrating the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. I would like to share with you a few thoughts from Pope Benedict’s Message to commemorate today’s celebration.

When talking about a response to the call to priesthood or consecrated life, Pope Benedict offers three primary thoughts to keep in mind. I would argue that these would also apply to all who are called to single life, and especially married life.

First, our Holy Father reminds us that “a fundamental element, one which can be seen in every vocation to the priesthood and the consecrated life, is friendship with Christ.” We are reminded that Jesus had a close communion with his Father. Observing this was an inspiration for His disciples which inspired them to seek the same type of a union. As Pope Benedict continues, “Prayer is the first form of witness which awakens vocations. Like the Apostle Andrew, who tells his brother that he has come to know the Master, so too anyone who wants to be a disciple and witness of Christ must have ‘seen’ him personally, come to know him, and learned to love him and to abide with him.”

The second item is a complete gift of one’s self to God. Even in marriage, spouses give themselves to God so that there are not two involved in the marriage, but three. It is the witness of sacrifice and service that is an inspiration to others who are listening for their call from God. Priests and consecrated persons, living that example of service is a draw to many who are looking for a deeper meaning in their lives. When others see the faithfulness of spouses to each other, centered around a life of faith, they are inspired to search for same commitment if they are called to marriage. The complete gift of self to God allows God to work through us when calling others to a vocation.

The third aspect mentioned by our Holy Father is communion. “Jesus showed that the mark of those who wish to be his disciples is profound communion in love: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35)” It is important that into whatever vocation God may be leading us, we work on building that communion through love of one another.

Pope Benedict reminds us that, “every priest, every consecrated person, faithful to his or her vocation, radiates the joy of serving Christ and draws all Christians to respond to the universal call to holiness.” All married couples, by being open to life and sharing in the love Christ makes present within their marriage is also an inspiration that can help others understand that universal call to holiness.

As Pope Benedict sums up his message, “May this World Day once again offer many young people a precious opportunity to reflect on their own vocation and to be faithful to it in simplicity, trust and complete openness. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, watch over each tiny seed of a vocation in the hearts of those whom the Lord calls to follow him more closely, may she help it to grow into a mature tree, bearing much good fruit for the Church and for all humanity.”

I want to encourage all of you to set aside some additional time to day for prayer in order to pray for vocations, especially vocations to priesthood and consecrated life.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New website to help laity and clergy promote vocations

This is from the Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Apr 21, 2010 / 03:43 am (CNA).- The U.S. bishops are preparing to launch a website to help laity and clergy promote vacations. The site aims to help individuals “hear and respond” to God’s call to the priesthood or consecrated life. Scheduled for an April 25 launch, the website will host discernment resources for men and women, and aids for promoting a “vocation culture’ within the home, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said in a press release.

A range of tools for educators, youth leaders and vocation directors include prayers, videos, best practices, lesson plans and vocation awareness programs.

Following the theme for the 2010 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, “Witness Awakens Vocations,” the site also hosts videos of priests and religious men and women giving witness to their call to the priesthood or religious life. Testimonies from family members are also included.

The USCCB says the site exemplifies the Vatican’s “embrace” of new communications media. It cites Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the 44th World Day of Communications, in which he challenged clergy to use the “latest generation” of resources to put the media “ever more effectively at the service of the word.”

The launch of the site will be promoted through social media forums, with Facebook users allowed to become “eVangelizers” for the site.

The April 25 launch coincides with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations and Good Shepherd Sunday. is a project of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations. A Spanish-language version of the site will be available this fall at

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Homily for Third Sunday of Easter Year C

This is the homily I presented for this weekend

Today’s gospel reading appears to be a followup to our passion readings where we hear of Peter’s denial. As we reflect back a couple of weeks we remember Peter denying Christ three times, “I tell you, I do not know the man.”

In today’s Gospel, we hear Christ asking Peter, “Do you love me?” three times. “You know that I love you” is the response we hear back from Peter with a response from Jesus to feed or tend the lambs and sheep.

Much is entrusted to Peter at this point. Not only is Jesus receiving an affirmation of Peter’s love, but he is giving Peter a mission.

On June 29th, 1959, Pope John XXIII, who would later call for the Second Vatican Council, released an encyclical entitled “Ad Petri Cathedram”, (To the Chair of Peter). In his encyclical, John XXIII tries to help us understand a bit more about this mission given to Peter and his successors.

That there is unity in the administration of the Catholic Church is evident. For as the faithful are subject to their priests, so are priests to their bishops, whom «the Holy Spirit has placed ... to rule the Church of God.» So, too, every bishop is subject to the Roman pontiff, the successor of Saint Peter, whom Christ called a rock and made the foundation of His Church. It was to Peter that Christ gave in a special way the power to bind and loose on earth, to strengthen his brethren, to feed the entire flock.

Pope John XXIII’s encyclical helps to understand a bit more clearly the hierarchical nature of the Church in passing on the faith and reaching out to the world. There is a sign of unity in respect to the relationship of all within the Church, the Body of Christ.

In the Second Vatican Council Document “Lumen Gentium” (Light to the Nations) we hear additional teaching in this regard.

Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body.

This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as "the pillar and mainstay of the truth". This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.

Later on, in this same document we hear,
But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope's power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff. For our Lord placed Simon alone as the rock and the bearer of the keys of the Church, and made him shepherd of the whole flock.

As we hear today’s readings, it is important for us to realize what a great privilege it is for us to be part of the flock of Christ, knowing that he has sent faithful shepherds to guide us on our pilgrim way. Christ also warns that there will be other shepherds who will try to take the flock. They will try to lead them away from the shepherd that he has entrusted to care for them. There are times when these shepherds even exist within the hierarchy of the Church. Most of them have good intentions, but have lost a sense of unity within the whole church.

Sometimes they throw out suggestions that the Church is moving backwards. If they follow the actual teachings of the Church and their development, they find that they have gone beyond what the Church teaches and when she tries to reel them back in, the rebel. When I am looking at books for reading about the Church, one of the first things I do is take a look at the footnotes, or endnotes. If they tend to quote magisterial documents, I tend to put more credence in what the authors have to say. This is one way to make sure I am staying in union with the Church established by Christ. Sometimes the texts make frequent use of other sources, some of them sources known for questioning magisterial teachings. These texts are often not useful in building up the true Church, but are divisive, causes of confusion.

Christ has appointed Peter and his successors to shepherd, feed and tend the flock entrusted to them. Let us have faith that He will fulfil his promise to Peter earlier in the Gospels. “You are Rock, and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of the nether world will not prevail against it.” Tomorrow we celebrate the anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s election as Pope. Let us keep him, and our bishops in our prayers.