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.

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 the Ascension (either Sunday May 17, 2015 or Thursday, May 14, 2015)

Readings for the Ascension

Readings for the Seventh Sunday of EasterHomily for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

When I was little, one of the most exciting memories for me was my first trip to Fenway Park. I was young – 7 I think – and the thought of seeing my Red Sox, LIVE, and where they played, was almost too much to bear. The Boston Red Sox were playing the Washington Senators. (For those of you not old enough to remember, these Senators became the Texas Rangers. The previous Senators became the Minnesota Twins.) At that time, in Boston, getting to Fenway Park was not so easy, and as one might expect the rural Vermonters did not have such an easy time of it. We got lost.

Now driving in Boston is an adventure. I know that there are those who think they face the worst drivers, but I think Boston, or New York, easily take the cake. If you have driven in Boston, you might know that they have rules for driving that are a little bit different than other places. First, using direction signals rarely occurs, since you would not want to tip off the enemy. Stop signs are merely suggestions. I hope you get the idea.

Finally, my father did the unthinkable for a man. He stopped to ask for directions. This was a monumental event. My father was like most men, where asking for directions is seen as a tremendous sign of weakness. “I know where we are.” But, after circling Fenway for what seemed like an eternity, we stopped at a gas station. These were the days when there were station attendants who pumped the gas into your car. At this stop, there were two men outside. I watched as my father walked over to them. It did not go as I expected. My father obviously asked how to get to Fenway. But the two men immediately pointed in opposite directions, and I new we were in trouble. They argued, and I think my father tried to remember enough of the argument to get us where we needed to go.

Being lost is not a pleasant experience. It can be especially challenging when the destination is one of excitement for us, like traveling on a vacation. Perhaps in the age of the GPS, being lost is not as difficult as it used to be. A calming voice speaks the directions to get us where we need to go.  But when we are lost, either with directions to a destination or in our lives, it is not a good place to be.

Jesus did not want such to be the case for us. It may have seemed easier if Jesus simply remained in a visible form here on earth after his resurrection. Why did he ascend back to his place in heaven at the right hand of the Father? It is because being here on this earth is not our final destination. Heaven is our ultimate end and destination. The destination where we live and love with God for all eternity.

Even though we may know this to be true, the events of our daily lives can lead us astray. What are we to do in the face of the wars, violence and terrors we hear about so often? Imagine how desperate our existence would be if this was all there was? Imagine how pitiable we would be if those killed by ISIS, for example, had their entire existence ended by their killing. Such despair. Imagine the sadness of a child contracting a terminal illness. Imagine how tragic it would be if those who are starving in our world could not at all hope for anything different?  There are many instances where these sad and tragic events would be made all the worse if this earth, and this life on earth were our ultimate end.

But it is not. Jesus did not want to leave our final destination as one where we would not know the way to get there. Even the disciples needed to ask how to get to the place where Jesus is going. But he did not want us to be left to our own devices. He wanted there to be certainty about the way, and so he reminds us he is the Way. And further, we now begin our waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The nine days between the traditional date for the celebration of the Ascension and the celebration of Pentecost is what gives rise to our notion of a novena, as the word comes from the Latin for nine. So not only do we seek to follow the Way, Jesus, but we wait because he will do even more for us. He will send the Spirit into our lives, so that we may have the help we need to live a life that leads us on the way to Christ.

What is it you should do over these nine days? How about using this time to pray. That is what the apostles and Mary did in the Upper Room. They were frightened and scared, but they new from where their strength came from. And so they placed themselves in the presence of God. So perhaps over these nine days you might seek to read the bible prayerfully. Maybe you would try to get to a daily Mass or two. Perhaps you might pray the rosary, or repeat a Scripture verse over and over. Maybe you simply find silence. You may seek in that silence to repeat prayerfully, “Come, Holy Spirit”. Whatever, take this time of waiting to come to know the Christ. Because of his example, presence and grace, you know the way.