Mercy: Homily for Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, August 1, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

There is a natural tension between justice and mercy.  On the one hand, it is important to know that there are actions that are wrong, and that when we commit them we need to seek mercy.  On the other hand, God does not condemn us when we sincerely seek his forgiveness.  He has mercy.

Today we celebrate Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, founder of the Redemptorist Order.  He lived at a time with harsh rules and a spirituality which considered the human being to be fundamentally evil.  Against this backdrop, Alphonsus stressed the mercy and forgiveness of God.  Moses does this too.  He seeks God’s mercy for the sins of the people.  Perhaps today, in honor of Saint Alphonsus, you might go to confession to receive God’s mercy.

Resources for Lent: Cool ideas for Lent

OUTSIDE THE BOX: 66 THINGS TO GIVE UP OR TAKE UP FOR LENT (IN BEGINNER, INTERMEDIATE, AND ADVANCED)

Through my various Lenten fails over the years, I’ve learned a different way of approaching Lent. In our house, we now view Lent as a time to try adding or taking away things from our personal and family lives to see if we are improved. We make it a time, not of suffering (necessarily) but rather of increased focus on God and others and decreased focus on self and personal comfort. I have found that I can take up or give up just about anything, no matter how big or small, and use it as a reminder to pray more and love more. With that in mind, here are 66 ideas of things to consider giving up or taking up, in beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, for beginning, intermediate, and advanced Lents.

Resources for Lent – Canon Law

CHAPTER II.

Days of Penance

Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

Resources for Lent – Why do we fast?

In the early Church and, to a lesser extent still today, there were two fasts. There was the “total fast” that preceded all major feasts or sacramental events.  The ancient name for this fast was “statio” from the verb “sto, stare” to stand watch, on guard or in vigil.  The second fast was a fast of abstinence from certain foods, e.g., meats or fats.  This was more an act of self-discipline and self-control.  The statio fast was total and a means of watching and waiting…i.e. for something.  The fast of abstinence was more general and personal, to help oneself be more disciplined or self-controlled.  The total fast is still kept today prior to reception of Holy Communion.  Following Holy Communion, the total fast ceases because Jesus had explicitly stated that we don’t fast when the bridegroom is here, in other words, what we’re keeping vigil for has arrived, the wait is over.  On the other hand, the fast of abstinence was allowed on Sundays because the continuity of abstinence can be important for it to be effective.

To read the entire article, click here.

Sin: Hating what God Hates, Homily for Monday, February 27, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Sin. God hates sin.  Do we? We do not often think, at least I don’t, of God hating.  But God does hate.  God does sometimes detest.  And what God hates, what God detests, is always the same.  God hates sin. God detests sin.  Fortunately for us, God does not, however, hate the sinner.  God does not detest the sinner.  And God offers to the sinner a way back.  God hates sin, but loves repentence.  God hates sin, but loves the sinner.

Today’s first reading is a wonderful reminder of this.  To the penitent God provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope and has chosen for them the lot of truth.  As we are ready to begin Lent this week, how grateful we should be that God provides to us a way back.  God wants us to return to him.  In fact, this is what we are told to do.  Return to him and give up sin, pray to the LORD and make your offenses few. Turn again to the Most High and away from your sin, hate intensely what he loathes, and know the justice and judgments of God,
Stand firm in the way set before you, in prayer to the Most High God.  This is the perfect time to do so.

This is the perfect time to do so, for today is the day of salvation.  Lent is that time where we seek to be transformed, to change, to become a new creation in Christ.  It is the time when we turn back to God.  But giving up sin, the ultimate goal of Lent and the Christian life, is just the beginning, as we learn in today’s gospel.  Keeping the commandments of God is one thing.  Filling our souls with God and God’s priorities is quite another.

This is what the young man seeking more from Jesus learns.  This man has kept the commandments of God.  This man has really been faithful.  But, that is not enough.  He is not allowing God to fill his life, but rather his many possessions.  As a result, spiritual growth is stunted.  He is not able to give all to Christ.  And neither am I.  I too hang on to too many things that take me away from God.  If you wish to be perfect, surrender to God and seek the way of holiness.  Lent is the perfect time to start.

Rediscovering the Sacrament of Penance

Resources for Individuals

Rediscovering the Sacrament of Penance

Welcome. Has it been a while since your last confession? Do you have questions about the Sacrament such as:

Its been so long, I can not remember the words…I have committed too many sins, the priest will never forgive me…

What’s the Sacrament even called? Is it Penance, Reconciliation or Confession…

If you have experienced one of these thoughts you are not alone.

This website contains resources to help you rediscover the Sacrament of Penance and answer questions about the Church and Church teachings. We invite you to explore this site and contact your local parish.

Learn more here.

Homily for Thursday, December 11, 2014

Readings for Today

Do you think of yourself as a saint? Do you seek for and strive after holiness? Or is it the case that you struggle to believe that with all you have done, you simply are beyond what God can love? It seems that we find ourselves today either not believing we are sinful, or not believing that even the power of God’s love can save us. Either type of thinking is a failure to know God, and a failure to seek to discover what it is that God requires of us. And a primary purpose of Advent is to get to know the God that seeks to save us.

For those who do not believe they can be saved, since their sins are simply too great, perhaps it is today’s first reading that could provide the hope that God can give you. The language in today’s first reading is pretty harsh. But the focus is not on how awful Israel or Jacob is, but rather just how much God can do. Regardless of their many sins, God still longs to help them. We may feel we are beyond the power of God’s forgiveness, but that is never true. God’s love is more powerful than the sinful evil we can commit.

This serves as a good reminder of the way God gives us so that we will be able to be sure of God’s love for us. We can wonder about whether we can be forgiven, but Jesus did not leave this to chance. No, he wanted us to be certain of God’s forgiveness, and so gave us a beautiful sacrament. Rather than leave us to wonder if God can forgiveness, Jesus empowered the apostles to perform a sacrament where God forgives sins.

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Homily for Sunday, November 2, 2014

Readings for Today

I have always found funerals to be tremendous opportunities for pastoral ministry.  At a time when someone’s life is upended because of the death of someone, there can be an openness to God that was not present before. It is at these moments that we often ask ultimate questions.  “What is my life about?”  “Where do I find purpose? ” “Why did God put me here on this earth?”  We may even be led to ask questions of anger at God.  “Why didn’t you prevent this?” Why did she have to die so young?” Often when we ask these questions, we are not expecting other human beings to answer them. We are often looking for God in the midst of all of this, and to determine what our lives mean now.

Most of all, I think, we want to be certain we will never forget the person that we love. In the Old Testament, this concept of being “remembered” was an initial understanding of the afterlife. To be cast into Sheol, that “nothing” place, and forgotten was the ultimate suffering. For us today, we too know the importance of being remembered. People we love have a significant impact on our lives. They shape us and mold us into the persons we are. Our lives are quite different because they were in them than they would be if there were not.

We celebrate today, the Feast of All Souls precisely because we know as Catholics that ultimate meaning is found here in the Eucharist. It is found in receiving Jesus, but also in acknowledging that we are called to by God to be the Body of Christ.  Each time we come to Mass, we are united with the entire Body of Christ, living and dead.  Our ultimate identity is tied up with the person of Christ. He made us and he calls us to follow him, to imitate him, because in so doing we become our truest selves.

We also celebrate today because we believe our prayers for the dead have benefit.  The Bible does not say too much about the afterlife, but as we read in the Book of Maccabees it had become customary in Judaism, with the deepening awareness of the afterlife, to offer prayers for the dead.  In the Catholic faith, we hold to a tradition that there is a period of purification, for those of us who need it, where we will be purged from our sinfulness. There are so many ways to understand this, and really no one knows for certain, since only Jesus has died and risen again.

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