Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not my homily...

I've been sick this week and haven't gotten around to posting my homily from Sunday but I found a couple of great articles by other Catholic bloggers that you should read if you haven't.

The first one concerns our Holy Father, Pope Benedict. In our country we are often very limited in how we describe people and it usually comes out as one of these terms: "liberal" or "conservative." Some people in our mainstream media have struggled to describe Pope Benedict and if you're only reading about him there, you need to find other sources. Carl Olson, a blogger from Oregon, has a great article regarding Pope Benedict.

What's important to note about Benedict XVI's "radicalism" is that it does not rest upon success in the political sphere; his vision for the Church fundamentally eschews much of what actually is shared in common between contemporary "liberals" and "conservatives." In the American context, "liberals" and "conservatives" alike are too much and too often in the throes of the modern orthodoxies, particularly a near-fanatic embrace of science and technology, devotion to "progress," "choice," and "growth," and a fealty to "the Market." Both are essentially earth-oriented, power-hungry and materialist.

We make a grave mistake if we interpret and understand the actions and activities of Pope Benedict XVI through the narrowly political lens that we all tend to wear in these times.
I really hope you read the whole article.

The second blogger is no ordinary blogger, its the Archbishop of New York, New York, Timothy Dolan! That's right, this is a real live Archbishop, the Archbishop of "The City that Never Sleeps" and he is blogging. I've read Archbishop's writings and I've heard him preach on retreats- these are his words. He isn't writing fluff pieces either, here he takes on the New York Times for having an anti-Catholic bias in some articles.
It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.
I hope you read His Excellency's article in full and frequent his blog. He's at a blistering pace since he started with over 15 articles in a month. Say a prayer for Archbishop Dolan as he leads the Church in New York.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homily for 29th Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009

This past week has apparently been a slow week for news. The leading issue on CNN the past four days has been whether or not the balloon boy in Colorado was a publicity stunt by his attention starved family. In such a leisurely week, you might have caught this ridiculous news item as well. A marginally successful Hollywood comedian, Sarah Silverman, released a youtube video challenging the Holy Father.

Ms. Silverman proposes that Pope Benedict should sell off the Vatican: land, buildings, artwork and everything to feed the poor of the world. Ms. Silverman’s proposal [linked out of fairness], which is laced with profanity, seems new and interesting. Or possibly she was watching the 1968 movie “The Shoes of the Fisherman” starring Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quinn, which makes a similar case without swearing.

Ms. Silverman’s proposal misses two points. First, the Church already does feed the world. We said this last week, but today, on World Mission Sunday and a few days after U.N. World Food Day, it bears repeating. No private or public institution serves and cares for more poor than does the Catholic Church. Secondly, the artistic holdings of the Church are more than simply dollar signs in a frame on a wall.

The artistic treasures of the Church, not only in Rome but throughout the world, are more powerful than any dollar. Why? They inspire hearts to the Gospel life. I have prayed Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, I have toured the Sistine Chapel, and I have visited the Vatican Art Museum. I spent 30 minutes looking at Raphael’s Transfiguration. This painting of the event from Matthew 17 is over 12 feet tall and features some of the most vivid colors I have ever seen. This painting inspired me with a greater love for Jesus Christ, in almost 500 years it has inspired millions. The artwork of the Vatican is there to turn hearts to Jesus Christ and to service of our fellow man.

Even in a slow week, I am sure few, if any, of you heard of the Special Synod for Africa, that was going on in Rome. Pope Benedict and several hundred African bishops gathered to pray and talk about the Church’s mission to Africa. From this meeting comes the heart of Christian mission. Sr. Genevieve Uwamariya, a Sister of St. Mary of Namur. Sr. Genevieve is a survivor of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide in Rwanda in which most of her family was killed while in a church. One day, while visiting prisoners awaiting execution for genocide, Sr. Genevieve shared this with the Holy Father:

“On August 27th 1997 at 1 p.m., a group from the Catholic association of the “Ladies of Divine Mercy” led me to two prisons in the region of Kibuye, my birthplace. They went to prepare the prisoners for the Jubilee of 2000. They said: “If you have killed, you commit yourself to ask for forgiveness from the surviving victim, that way you can help him free himself of the burden/weight of vengeance, hatred and rancor. If you are a victim, you commit yourself to offer forgiveness to those who harmed you and thus you free them from the weight of their crime and the evil that is in them.”

This message had an unexpected effect for me and in me...

After that, one of the prisoners rose in tears, fell to his knees before me, loudly begging: “Mercy”. I was petrified in recognizing a family friend who had grown and shared everything with us.

He admitted having killed my father and told me the details of the death of my family.

A feeling of pity and compassion invaded me: I picked him up, embraced him and told him in a tearful voice: “You are and always will be my brother”.

Then I felt a huge weight lift away from me... I had found internal peace and I thanked the person I was holding in my arms.

To my great surprise, I heard him cry out: “Justice can do its work and condemn me to death, now I am free!...”

I also wanted to cry out to who wanted to hear: “Come see what freed me, you too can find internal peace”.

This mission of forgiveness is the heart of the Church. If we are to create a culture of life then we must begin by forgiving those who harm us, even grievously. When Sr. Genevieve forgave this man, genocide did not then become allowable- she forgave the person and not the action. With this in mind, listen again to the letter to the Hebrews:
"Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Eternal Revolution of Christianity

In my homilies of late (What, those didn't post? Oh, I must have been lazy or rather, I am learning first hand the beautiful sacrifice of parenthood), I have been pointing out that the major source of contention between Catholicism and the culture at large is NOT the nature of God but rather the nature of man. The "hot-button" issues of our day: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, the definition of marriage- they can be addressed as simply natural and non-theological discussions. I am at odds with the culture around me, not because I believe in Jesus Christ but because of what I believe about our natural world.

In all of this, faith and reason is in accord. In fact, reason looses its ground without faith. Just as faith divorced from reason is inhuman so too reason without faith becomes inhuman. Sandro Magister, an Italian journalist for the magazine Chiesa, has an article about Europe's newest advocate for the reunion of faithful reason. Juan Manuel de Prada is a successful Spanish author who was adrift in the cultural millieau and returned to the "ancient liberty" of the faith in April of 2005 while witnessing the death and burial of Pope John Paul II.

The bulk of Magister's article is the translation of the introduction to de Prada's newest book: The progressive matrix of the new tyranny. De Prada expresses a Catholic vision of engagement with the world around us. What is at stake, what are the battlefields, and what we are to do about it. I can only hope a good translation of the whole work is forthcoming:
The eternal revolution of Christianity consists in revealing to us the meaning of life, restoring to us our nature; from this discovery is born a joy with no expiration date. When this joy is combined with a minimum of artistic sensibility, life becomes a feast for the intelligence. Chesterton wrote that joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian.
Read it all and tell me what you think in the comments.