Treasuring things in your heart: Homily for Monday, Janaury 1, 2018

Readings for Today

This might not be the time of year you feel like slowing down.  It may not be the time of year you can slow down.  But today’s gospel is an invitation to contemplation. As we consider the role and person of Mary, Mother of God, we are given the model of someone with a contemplative heart.  And this contemplative heart allows Mary to overcome some very difficult things.

In our lives, too, things can be hard.  We can find that so much activity is part of life. It can seem there is no time to think. But is this really true? What if we imitated Mary and treasured what happens in our hearts? What if we made time for prayer and contemplation in our lives? Try to do so during this year.

What do you carry in life?: Homily for December 8, 2017

Readings for Today

I remember a dramatic scene in the movie, The Mission, where a war mercenary decided there needed to be a change in his life.  He converted and turned his life around. As a sign of his desire to change, he put the implements of his sin, his armor and weapons, in a bag and lugged it up a mountain.  It made the journey difficult and slow.  So slow in fact, that another person climbing the mountain became frustrated and cut the rope to the  bag, and it tumbled all the way back to the bottom of the mountain.  He did not go on.  He went back down and started over.  When he finally reached the top, the natives, members from the village,  members he had killed and sold into slavery, finally cut the bag as a sign of reconciliation.

Our Blessed Mother, Mary, is sometimes referred to the Ark of the Covenant, because she carried Jesus in her womb.  It makes for a question.  What do we carry? Do we cling to our sinfulness, carrying it with us because we will not turn our lives toward God, or do we carry our witness to the Gospel in the way that leads us and others to a deeper relationship with Jesus?

Signum Fidei: Homily for November 1, 2017

Readings for Today

Do you witness to sanctity? Do you show forth holiness in your life? The bishop that ordained me said this: “Don’t wait until you die to be a saint.  That’s too late.  Become a saint now.” Are you a saint? On the seal of the high school where I teach is the Latin phrase, “signum fidei.” It means sign of faith. It suggests that in all things we are to see ourselves as signs of faith.

How do we do this? We are a sign of faith when we are generous, faithful, prayerful and kind. We are a sign of faith when Jesus becomes the center of our lives.  Each time we see another human being as the image of God, we are a sign of faith.  So do not wait to become a saint.  Do so now.

Without Sin: Homily for Assumption of Mary, August 15, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today (Vigil Mass)

Readings for Today (Mass during the day)

There are moments when we might wish to have lived in a different time.  How many have longed to be alive in the time of Jesus? How many seek to live during the time of our favorite saint? When we think this way, we forget that regardless of when we live, the mission is always to follow Jesus.  We must see how Jesus is alive.  We must seek God in all things. It does not matter when we live, but what we do.

Where is God in your life? How does God call you to holiness? What is it that gives life? We live during the present age because God wants us to.  And because God wants us to, God also gives us all the grace we need.  Becuase Mary knew this and remained close to God, she was rewarded by God with the immediate presence.  She did not have to wait for death but rather went right to God.

 

Immaculate Conception: Will you help me? It is going to be hard. (12-08-16)

Will you help me? How often have you heard this question? Parents certainly have.  I have.  The most difficult part is when the help needed is hard.  Who likes to help a friend move?  How about spending time with a person who makes us uncomfortable? These situations, and others like them, are hard.  It is not always easy to say yes to helping.

What is worse, sometimes we make excuses to avoid helping.  I’m busy.  I have to do this very important thing, like watching television.  I have to lie, so that I do not have to help.  We celebrate today two things. First, we celebrate the great gift of God to Mary to spare her from Original Sin.  Second, we celebrate her “yes” to following God, especially when it is hard.  Mary was aware of God’s grace.  Mary relied upon it.  And she also was aware of the people that God placed into her life.  Elizabeth.  And Joseph.

So, today, as every day, God gives you grace.  And today, as every day, God seeks your help.  What will you say?  Will you help God?

Readings for Today

Homily for Saturday, August 15, 2015 (Assumption Mass During the Day)

Readings for Today

Watch out! I use a GPS system that not only tells me the directions, but also warns me of obstacles to driving I might encounter. It warns me by saying “Watch out!” and then it indicates what the hazard or issue is. The first time I used this, when I heard “Watch out!” I was startled. But know I look forward to hearing it, because I find the verbal warnings to be helpful in keeping me safe.

I think of the Solemnity of the Assumption in a similar way. Only on this day, when we are encouraged to “Watch out!” it is not simply to avoid hazards, though that is part of what we do today. It is also to give us the path to follow. By reflecting on the way in which Mary lived her life, we are shown the way a disciple of Jesus is led to follow him and find in doing so, God himself.

To be sure, there are many things we can encounter on a daily basis that might cause us to proceed with caution. It can be quite difficult indeed to remember that every person is created in the dignity that God gives. When people cut us off in traffic, it is not easy to remember God given dignity. When we see someone begging for help, it can be quite the challenge to see them as person of Christ himself. Even with those we love greatly, we can be tempted to consider only our own needs and not the needs of those with whom we live.

When we consider eastern Church art, we can see that Mary is always pointing the way to Christ. It is not that Mary reflects the greatness of Mary, but of the Lord. Mary does not exalt her self, but God, her savior. God is the source for Mary, and it is God who fills her heart with joy when Mary considers what God has done.

Because of this, we celebrate then with Mary what glory awaits those who encounter God. And what is that? It is the most precious gift God enables for us, namely the gift of the eternal possibility of a relationship that fulfills us far beyond anything we can imagine.

Homily for Good Friday, April 3, 2015

Readings for Today

One challenge in life, it seems to me, is to be a person of balance. Centuries ago, Aristotle discussed the ideal location for virtue was in between two extremes. There can be a value to being generous. But real generosity lies between being foolhardy with the gifts we have been given on the one hand, and resisting the type of stinginess that never gives away anything.

How it is we view the human person requires this same ability to recognize the virtue that lies in the middle. There can be times in our own life when we fail to see any goodness in ourselves, when we beat ourselves up simply for existing. Yet at the same time, there are moments when we can justify almost anything we do, easily excusing our mistakes and sins.

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Homily for Holy Thursday, April 2, 2015

Readings for Today

The Body of Christ. Tonight provides us the powerful celebration that helps us to focus upon the beauty of the Body of Christ as presented to us in the Scriptures. The Body of Christ. It is the Eucharist. It is the people of God. Tonight’s readings put before us both profound truths. At the center of Catholic worship is the Eucharist. This is because it is true that the center of Catholic worship is Christ. It can be no other way.

The gospel reminds us though, that there is an essential relationship between the Eucharist, body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, the the indwelling Christ in each person. When a person hungers, Christ hungers. When a person thirsts, Christ thirsts. When someone is in prison or in hospital, then Christ is there too. It matters that we make the connection between what we do here, or more specifically, what Christ does here, and what we do in worshiping Christ both here and in the world. Our lives become the constant attempt to take what Jesus does for us here and to live it out there.

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Homily for Thursday, January 1, 2015

Readings for Today

Peace. What is it that brings peace? This is a day that focuses on many things. In fact, it has been a day where we celebrate many things. But today I think of peace. And the thought of peace today means thinking about the Blessed Mother. Why? Because she shows us in how she lived her life how in the way that lead her to constantly experience true and lasting peace. “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Think of the months Mary has experienced. There was the message of the angel, the trip to Elizabeth, and the challenge being pregnant without Joseph, and explaining what had happened would be difficulty enough. Then there is the travel while pregnant and the miraculous events of the shepherds. No wonder Mary feels the need to reflect and pray. She has experienced so many things, that it is only by taking the time to treasure them in her heart that she can remain focused on the meaning that God has brought forth in her life.

When we reflect on the blessings in our life as did Mary in hers, our eyes become more attuned to the blessings that await us in our life. We can even see in the difficulties and challenges how they can become blessings. In fact, this constant reflection lets us know that indeed we are never alone.

We spoke about this when we discussed the Incarnation. Today we learned that it is not just the awareness of the Incarnation, but that this beauty of God’s presence can come to us in so many ways. Think of how Mary will experience God’s presence. An angel. Joseph. Shepherds. Wise men. Miraculous signs. Jesus. And most importantly, Mary recognizes the presence of God that never leaves her heart. It is when she can treasure the events of her life in the perspective of God’s constant presence that Mary finds the true peace that lasts.

Our world certainly needs this peace, the peace that surpasses understanding and only God can bring. If we are to have this peace, we must change our hearts. We must see how the events of our life could be seen in the way God wants us to see the world. We need to be less selfish, and learn to share. We need to make sure the witness we provide by how we live our lives is indeed the way in which the gospel calls us to live.

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Homily for Christmas 2014

Readings for the Vigil Mass

Readings for the Mass at Night

Readings for Mass at Dawn

Readings for Mass During the Day

Over these past few weeks, I have had the powerful realization that I am not alone. My father died a little more than a week ago. Throughout his most recent illness, the result of a fall where he broke both hips, I spent a lot of time in a hospital and in a nursing home. Interestingly, these two locations can be places of loneliness and connection. I witnessed both. But I experienced connection. It was because I was not alone. First, and most important, I felt repeatedly the presence of God. But beyond that, my mother and brother were beside me. We were together. Second, thanks to my connection to the Dominicans in the Central Province, my relatives, and those with whom I am connected on Facebook, I felt a tremendous sense of being to connected to many people from aspects of my life.

But in the midst of these days I saw many who appeared to be alone. This was not a result of care. My father received amazing care. But as my father had dementia, there were many spouses visiting persons they loved who did not know who they were. My father over the past few years had his mind taken from him little by little. At the end of his life, I think he thought I was one of the nurses. Thinking not only about my father, as well as the others in the various care facilities, caused me to wonder what someone with dementia really felt and experienced.  I thought about a woman whose husband had been in the care facility for years. He did not recognize him. Even so, moved by what seemed to me to be loving care, she visited him every day for hours a day. I wonder if she felt alone in the midst of this horrible illness.

During the holidays, like Christmas, while for many are times when family and loved ones can make us feel connected, for others it can be a time of profound loneliness. As beautiful as Norman Rockwell Christmas paintings can be, they do not reflect for all the reality of the season. How is it we attempt to cope with this loneliness? There are a variety of ways. For some, it is the desire to get and to purchase lots and lots of material things in an attempt to fill up what we are missing. For some, it can be a time where there is a lot of drinking to numb the pain.

But the profound mystery we celebrate this Christmas is the reality we are not alone. God is with us. We have learned that in the name we sometimes us to refer to Jesus, “God with us.” And what can be more powerful than knowing that really, we are never alone. God is with us. For God could not bear for us to be alone, the result of sin. Sin breaks our relationships. Sin causes the connections we desire to form due to our social nature to be destroyed.

God desires nothing more than giving us every chance to experience salvation. Knowledge we are not alone helps us to face just about anything. While the awareness I was not alone did not keep my father from dying, it did remind me in a powerful way that life is beyond simply what I can see. I learned I was connected in ways I was not even aware of before my father’s death.

It can be easy in our world to question whether God exists, because there seems to be so much disconnection. There is such brutal and unbelievable suffering and death in places like Syria and Iraq. There are too many who go without the basics in life. Each day people starve not because we cannot produce enough food, but because we do not share it. The possibility of a person coming into the United States might have Ebola causes tremendous panic, even though we here can live with the reality that too many in the world have little or no health care structure at all.

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