Saturday, June 28, 2008

True to His Name

This morning, over breakfast, I was visiting about peace, prudence, and bishops. If I ever complain about not being a bishop, somebody slap me. But, I kept this in prayer as I went to pray my office. What a combination this morning, 1st Samuel 26 and Irenaeus. In 1st Samuel, as David stands over the sleeping Saul he says: "As the Lord lives, it must be the Lord himself who will strike him, whether the time comes for him to die, or he goes out and perishes in battle. But the Lord forbid that I touch his anointed!"

David refused to slay Saul who was seeking to slay David. David respected the dignity of the anointing Saul had received and, rather than dispatch him, used that as a moment to call Saul to conversion, as shown later in the chapter. Priests, Bishops, and the whole of the Church have, through their baptism, received a greater anointing than Saul. Why should we seek to strike them down in various ways. We must boldly call them to conversion. In this insight, I was moved by the Benedictus Antiphon for Irenaeus: Irenaeus, true to his name, made peace the aim and object of his life, and he labored strenuously for the peace of the Church.

I am not familiar enough with Irenaeus' life to say how he made peace the aim and object of his life, but I know it wasn't by being silent in the face of opposition to Christ. Even if that opposition was by a fellow bishop, priest, or baptized Christian, he would boldly proclaim that invitation to fully follow Christ.

St. Irenaeus, pray for me that I may not be too polite to proclaim Christ. That I may not be too polite to challenge others. That I may not be too polite to risk a martyr's death. That I may invite everyone, especially those who have received the dignities of Baptism or Orders, to fully follow Christ. St. Irenaeus, pray for me that my priestly life may give witness that the glory of God is man who is fully alive.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Discipleship Camp

I will be gone Sunday afternoon through sometime on Thursday as I assist at a High School Youth Camp for our diocese. It is usually a wonderful time with many graces. The last I heard we had almost 120 students signed up. This year, the teachings are from Theology of the Body for Teens- so keep us in your prayers!

Homily for 12th Sunday A

These past few weeks when Fr. Joe was away with the National Guard, you might think I was pretty busy. I was. You might also think I was too busy to think. I wasn’t. These past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about the next 50 years. Maybe it’s the 2nd anniversary of my ordination, maybe it’s the 6-month warning for my 30th birthday, or maybe it’s just the gas prices, but I’ve been thinking.

When I think about all of these things one thought remains with and haunts me as I go to sleep at night. It isn’t gas prices, it isn’t growing older, but I am scared that I will fail as a priest in preaching the Gospel. You see, I’m a people pleaser; I want people to be happy and to be happy with me. I make jokes and I use self-depreciating humor but I am afraid that I where the rubber meets the road I will fail to preach the truth of Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel, Jesus says: “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” The teaching of Jesus is for our whole life, covering every aspect. And Jesus’ teaching of what it means to be fully human is at odds with the world around us. The Catholic message is bigger than just one hour a week, the Catholic message is bigger than “to be nice,” the Catholic message is bigger than Republican or Democrat, the Catholic message is bigger than the economy. Jesus reveals to us what it means to be fully alive.

Will we have the courage to proclaim this 100% yes to Jesus? Will we have the audacity to proclaim on the housetops: “Jesus Christ is Lord and he is the only name on heaven and earth by which we are saved!” Will we be willing to brave those who have power over the body but not the soul?

Do not be lulled into false security thinking that everything is fine here in Aberdeen. We support our Church, we support Family Ed and Roncalli, what more can we do? We must invite every man, woman and child to know Jesus Christ in his Catholic Church. We must not be afraid to offer them the fullness of human life in Jesus Christ.

You see, I’m afraid to do just that. I flinch when I’m supposed to gently challenge a couple that is living together outside of marriage. I blink when I’m called invite people to the truth about marriage being for one man and one woman. I hesitate when I could invite victims to pray for their enemies. And when I look at the world around me, when I look at the progress of sin, I know that I will have more opportunities in the years to come.

So if you are like me and you flinch, you blink, and you hesitate when you should boldly proclaim the full truth of Jesus Christ for all people, join me in praying today. Join me in asking the prophet Jeremiah for a share of his courage, boldness, and love for his fellow man that allowed him to preach an unpopular truth. Join me in living out our baptismal obligation to be prophet of Jesus Christ. Join me in renewing our trust our Father who counts every one of the hairs of our head. Jesus says: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” So join me as we turn to the Lord.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Savor and Infinity

I don't think I understood salt until I started cooking. How often do we think about the only rock that we eat? Salt was something I mindlessly added to food, almost on reflex when it would hit the table. Now, I can recognize when I forgot salt, or left a dish under seasoned. Something is definitely missing. It is hard to explain unless you see or taste it for yourself. Unfortunately [or fortunately] Al Gore has yet to add taste-o-net functions to his invention of the internet so I hope you try it, on purpose sometime. As my favorite celebrity chef says, "Salt, you might not know it when it is there but you'll definitely miss it when it is gone."

That natural experience of cooking has added a whole new reality to Matthew 5:13 You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

What does salt do in cooking? It enhances flavors and raises awareness of what is going on in the food itself. Aspects to the food: brightness, savor, smokeyness, and sweetness might go untasted unless salt is there to draw them out. So we are to be salt.

Particularly in our time, we are to draw attention to the greater dimensions of life. We must awaken others to the spiritual dimension of life that would otherwise go unnoticed and hidden. We must preserve against the death of desire.

Just as a child who has only eaten candy bars would not know the sweetness and goodness of a pork loin, the world around us is loosing its appetite for the Divine. It is a natural appetite, but one that we can diminish to the point of loss. We Christians can reawaken a desire for the infinite, for God, by living Christian lives.

Sometimes, when a dinner is off, flat, or tasteless, it doesn't need fancy additives or exotic ingredients, it needs simple salt. Our culture doesn't need heroic acts but we do need simple Christian faithfulness. We don't need amazing miracles but we do need simple Christian virtues. This simple living will do to transform our culture than any politician or referendum- it is the power of people, the power of the saints.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Verily, I am most Erudite!

And I owe it all to my MacBook Dictionary Widget!

blog readability test

***And I'm even smart enough to edit their tag to take out the advertisement!***

h/t Some Have Hats

Monday, June 9, 2008

Homily for 10th Sunday A

We are all sick. And the sickest thing of all is that we never want to admit that we are sick. Do we not hear that “true love is blind?” Yet we spend millions on plastic surgery, hair transplants, botox and other things designed to mask our weakness. We are all broken to one degree or another and yet we all still hide it. This physical and emotional poverty is real. Even a life at the YMCA can’t cover this up.

The wound goes deeper still. We are spiritually and morally sick. All of us. You and I both are in need of a spiritual physician and yet we so often do not want to admit it.

Today, St. Matthew writes about his own conversion experience. He is a tax collector- not a public servant, but a representative of the oppressive foreign regime. Matthew is at the lowest of the low. Here comes Jesus, full of power and mystery, and he totally disrupts Matthew’s life. Matthew does nothing to attract attention, he is sitting down and Jesus says to him, “Follow me.”

What was in those two words to make Matthew follow Jesus? What was in those two words to make Matthew the tax collector become St. Matthew- author of the first Gospel? What did Matthew hear?

More importantly we should ask, “Jesus, why don’t you call me like you called Matthew? Call me from the midst of my ordinary life, my sin, my habits of sin that I can’t seem to stop. Call me from my sickness, Jesus the Divine Physician!”

Where do we meet Jesus the Divine Physician? We meet him in confession. There is no more perfect, more ready way to meet the healing of our souls than in confession. I was visiting with some non Christian men recently and they asked me, “Father, have you gotten to do the good stuff yet? You know, exorcisms, stuff like that?”

My answer shocked them. “Exorcisms? I’ve done better than that.” They leaned in close, “I’ve heard confessions.”

There is no better way to meet the Divine Physician than in confession. The priest speaks to us- not you, but me as well-the priest speaks to us in the person of Jesus. As Jesus forgives us- not just you, but us- he says the same words he said to Matthew, “Follow me.”

The Church tells us we need to go to confession at least once a year. Although if you only NEED to go once a year, pray for me because I NEED to go every two weeks. Every two weeks I admit that I am sick and I seek out the Divine Physician. I call one of the other priests in town and ask if I can drive over. I am sick and I need the Divine Physician.

Remember the beauty of Matthew’s conversion. Remember the inspiring love of Jesus. Remember Jesus desires to give us his mercy. And do not forget to remember that we are sick, all of us. Then, in confidence, let us turn to the Lord.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Is Catholicism Evil?

A summer movie (blockbuster?) is the documentary "Constantine's Sword" by James Carroll. The author of a book by the same name, James Carroll claims to be a faithful Catholic and so his views of history and the Catholic Church may gain credence in many places. You or your friends may have questions. Please read or at least bookmark this article by First Things, an intellectual journal:
Among the destructive myths of modernity is the idea that Christianity caused the Holocaust. Though refuted many times, it continues to circulate. Among its chief recent proponents is James Carroll, whose 2001 book, Constantine’s Sword, was a mammoth effort to breathe new life into the old claim. Now Carroll, with filmmaker Oren Jacoby, has decided to expand his book into a documentary—and the result is ninety-five minutes of unrestrained propaganda.
Clarity, transparency and the truth are always are best friends.