If you want to lift your hearts you really should come to Children’s adoration. I had my first one tonight. There were rough patches. Timing is tough. But overall it was amazing. Such faith in little children. It is a beautiful thing. I am going to have to bring a bunch of the younger priest in on this. They will be pretty pumped up.
Archive for November, 2003
Homily Ė Christ the King
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be Done. Are those words that just role off our lips every Sunday and occasionally on weekdays, Or, are they in fact the true desire of our hearts? This is a question each and everyone of us has to answer. We were created with free will and only we can decide who we will have as our King.
In our hearts everyone of us has a throne. On this throne sits a ruler to whom we must all answer to. Our every action is guided and decided by the will of our King. That King can only be one of two people: Christ the King or yourself. Each one of us is faced with a fundamental choice and that choice is: Thy will be done or it is: My will be done. Whom do you serve: Jesus Christ or Yourself? Who is master of your life: Jesus Christ or yourself?
Todayís scriptures tell us that in fact Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. All peoples, nations and languages serve him. His Kingship will not be destroyed. Can we say the same of ours? If the King of our Hearts is Jesus Christ then we can.
Each of us has a choice. That is what free will is. Whom will we serve? Whose will do we want? Christís will or ours? We were created for one reality and that is to know, love and serve God in this life and spend eternity in heaven. We can live according to that reality or we can rebel against it. Let me give you an example of each.
When God created the world, the heavens and all creatures he created one angel above them all. One angel more excellent than all the others, more intelligent, more beautiful than all the others and God named him Lucifer which means the bringer of light. This angel, at the moment of his creation, looked upon himself and saw the beauty and the intelligence and was fascinated by it. He said I will not serve, I must be the master and he rebelled against God and determined to wage war against him for all eternity.
This angel appeared to the woman Eve in a garden and asked her to disobey God. She saw the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil and she wanted to be its master. She wanted to decide what is right and wrong. So she reached for the fruit and she took it. She rebelled against God and she convinced Adam to do the same. They decided who would sit on the throne of their hearts, and all hell broke loose. We suffer today because of that decision.
Thousands of years later another Angel appeared to another lowly woman with an offer: Hail full of Grace. Would she like to be part of Godís plan and bear his son. This handmaid didnít know how it was possible since she consecrated herself to God from a young age. But Gabriel told her the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would conceive and bear a son: God is with us. She didnít understand. She didnít need to. Godís messenger was speaking, and that was good enough for her. Let it be done unto me according to thy word, she responded. Through her yes to God she bore a son that would conquer death and restore order. Hell was loose no longer. We were free to choose again.
It seems an easy choice for us to make. If we let Christ rule in our hearts then salvation, happiness and paradise follow. Then why is it so tough in real life? Why is it tough to trust? Why are we afraid? We are afraid that if we do it Godís way then we wonít be happy. That is the voice of Satan whispering lies in our ears. St. Maximilian Kolbe said, ďLucifer is so clever he can blind any man.Ē Godís plan for us is one for our complete happiness. Listen to what it says in Godís word in the book of Jeremiah.
For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the LORD,
When Christ is king of your life then you will indeed see Godís plans for your welfare unfolding. Not necessarily in the big things but in the little signs of love he has for us and shows us everyday if we are willing to see with the eyes of faith. Let me offer you two examples.
When I was in studying Rome I was given a lock of Mother Teresaís hair by a priest who works for the Congregation for the causes of Saints. Relics have not been a large part of my spirituality but I was very touched and I decided to give it to Bishop Carlson to use for the Diocese. In the course of moving home from the seminary I lost track of where I was keeping it. I looked for it for three months and couldnít find it. My room is still recovering. Recently I tried again because I wanted to take it with me to a familyís house to pray for one of their family.. I thought we would ask for a miracle. I knew one would be granted even if it wasnít what we hoped for or even if we didnít recognize it. I searched again and was unsuccessful. Finally I said to the Lord: ďLord if itís your will that we use this then please let me find it.Ē And then I let it go.
Later that week I was eating at HyVee and someone came up to me and our conversation got me thinking about beauty. I have always enjoyed the topic and went back to the office to look up something in a book I had on beauty. Upon opening that book it fell open to a page where the Lock of Mother Teresaís hair was. I immediately saw Godís hand moving and guiding the course of events. I went to the familyís home, told them the story and we prayed for the miracle. Right after we came down from praying the whole room was flooded with sunlight. One of the family members commented on that happening right after we prayed (it had be cloudy for days). I told them that is no coincidence. That even if we didnít receive exactly what we hoped for God was showing us his love. In the midst of difficult situations God is moving even if we donít see it. So we should trust in God and his plan for our lives. I went back to the office and I walked in and the ladies said ďFather look what we just got.Ē They pulled out a beautiful framed picture of Mother Teresa. The hand of God is in our lives if we allow it to be and if we allow Christ to be the Lord of our lives we see his hand moving. Maybe some of you think all these are just coincidences. I pity you if that is the case. It must be a dark and dreary world you live in full of sadness and despair. But Lucifer can blind any man and he wouldnít want you to see the hand of God moving because then you would not doubt. He wants you to doubt.
A second example. While I was in Rome, before I left, I bought a bunch of St. Michaels medals to bring back. Both my brothers are police officers and St. Michael is the patron saint of police officers. I had them blessed by the Pope. I brought enough for every member of their department and every member of the Sioux Falls Police Department who wanted one. If you know someone in the Sheriff, Police or Highway Patrol let them know I have them. Word got out and people started coming by the office to pick them up. I wanted to meet them and thank them for what they do.
A few weeks after I gave one to one man, he was in a terrible accident. I received a call from his wife, letting me know of the situation and thanking me for the medal, and saying it meant a lot to him. I asked if I could visit him and she told me how. I visited him and he lit up when I came into the room. He said, ďFather have I got a story to tell you.Ē He proceeded to tell me of the accident. He said in the course of the accident everything was ripped from his body. His clothes where shredded, his rings and watch were torn off. He said the only thing left on him was a thin gold chain that had his crucifix and his St. Michaels Medal attached. He said he had a half hour laying there waiting for the rescue workers with just him and God and it was a profound experience that changed his life. His wife and daughter are convinced that the medal and crucifix are the only reason he is alive and they insisted he keep it on during his surgeryís. St. Michael the Archangel, Defend us in Battle, Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. Do you still believe God and his heavenly host donít take their Lordship seriously?
We have a choice about who sits on the thrones of our hearts. We canít have them rule some parts of our lives and not others. The Lord Jesus Christ is Lord of all or not at all. You get to decide. Will you surrender the sovereignty of your heart to him or will you be the king of your heart. The Kingdom of Christ is a Kingdom of Faith, Hope and Love. There is no room in that kingdom for Doubt, Despair or Hate. Even in the midst of lifeís terrible tragedies you can see Godís hand moving if you are willing to let him be the Lord of your life. If you choose to be the Lord of your life then in the midst of lifeís terrible tragedies you will see your hand moving.
If your life is full of doubt, despair, hate, fear. If it is dark and dreary then I suggest to you that you have a regime change in your heart. Surrender your life to Christ and let him be the Lord of your entire life. Of every aspect of your life, not just one hour on Sundayís. His yoke is easy, his burden light. His plans are for your welfare and complete happiness. I can tell you that my experience is I have never regretted the choice I make for Christ each morning. I donít think you would either. Itís not a magic, happy pill but it is a life of beauty and of peace. Perhaps you doubt him. Lucifer can make any man blind. Perhaps you think you can do better. That choice is yours to make. You get to choose who will sit on the throne of your heart. Choose well.
We are having Jesse Romero speak here this weekend. He is quite dynamic and has a lot of good material. I am partial to people who are passionate about their faith and he is definitely fired up. I look forward to buying his stuff on CD. He only has tapes here so I am going to wait.
If you get a chance to hear him speak then I recommend it to you.
His website is JesseRomero.com
I can’t believe that a week from today I will be on vacation at home and surrounded by friends and family. It has been a quick 5 months of priesthood but I am ready for a little break. Hopefully I will get some work on the site done.
I have heard great things about this book, especially from people I really trust. One of them is a priest, the best preacher I know, and a one who has really done a lot of study on the male soul and Fatherhood.
So I feel I can recommend it safely without having read it. But I just ordered it so if you want to wait I will give you an update later.
Today’s memorial is St. Albert the great. St. Albert of course is a doctor of the Church and also a Dominican. I happen to have been trained theologically by the dominicans and have a great affection for them so I was pleased to celebrate the memorial of St. Albert the Great.
When you go to seminary at the North American College at Rome you have a choice between two schools. The Angelicum run by the Dominican’s or the Gregorian run by the Jesuits. Some guys don’t get a choice and their Bishops decide.
The Gregorian has the reputation of being the better school, the Bishop’s school, the more intellectual of the two educations. Students of the Greg often enjoy teasing the Ang studnts about this reputation. They say we take crayons to class and draw pictures of Jesus and Angels and what not. One student, a close friend, gave me a pack of crayons for Christmas.
Well as I told my people at the end of Mass today the Dominicans were founded to combat the heresy of the Albigensians and the Jesuits were founded to combat the Protestants.
If you pay attention and look around carefully you will see that their are no longer any Albigensians.
Crayons are sometimes effective tools for the Gospel.
St. Albert the Great; pray for us.
I went to dinner at a families home last night and had a really great time. I enjoy visiting homes quite a bit and don’t get to do it too often. Our Parish is about 2000 families. While that is small by many standards it is the largest in the state of South Dakota. In this priests’ personal opinion it is far to large.
I am pretty sure I was made to be a small town priest. About 500 families in a parish would be stretching it but I would prefer 300 or less (which is doable). Personally I would like to be able to visit every family’s home once a year but at least once every 2 years.
I definitely think a parish where it is impossible to visit every home once during your 5/6 years there is too big.
Realistically you probably won’t get an invitation from everyone and of course there is your day off and nights when you have appointments. I think you understand my main point.
I just hate people saying “Hi Father” to me out in the city somewhere and I have to ask them if they are a member of the parish.
We shall see what happens. I sure wish we would shy away from the mega parish where the priest becomes a manager of a household instead of a father.
Homily – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
I must admit to you that I really enjoy the television show on Tuesday nights called 24. I record it every week to watch later. Every week I look forward to it with suspense. The basic premise of the show is that each episode covers one hour of a 24 hour day. During the day there is some crisis that must be solved in the 24 hours or episodes of the show.
The crisis is always one of Terrorism and handled by a counter terrorist unit known as CTU. The crisis is usually of such a nature that many people could die as a result of a terrorist act and the CTU must try to stop it. This year they are trying to stop the release of a biological weapon virus that could result in 90% casualties if it is let out in the US. When a person is infected they have 24 hours left to live.
The question I would like to have you think about is: What if you just found out you had 24 hours to live? What would change in your life? Would your priorities change? Would certain things become more important to you and certain things less important? What would you do with that last 24 hours of your life? Go to work? Go shopping? Watch football? Would you keep on living your life the way you are? Or would you call your family members and tell them you love them? Would you try to reconcile yourself with people you have had fights with? Would you try to reconcile yourself with God and prepare to die? If I told you we had all been infected by this virus in Church today and I went was going to the confessional would any of you get in line? Would there be a fight to get in line?
For many people the knowledge that they only had 24 hours left on this planet would dramatically alter the way they lived their life for the last few hours. Their priorities would change and their relationship with God would move up higher in that list.
For some though it wouldn’t change much at all. These people are the ones that know the truth of todayís readings. That truth is that we don’t get 24 hours notice or time to prepare. We have to be ready at any moment to meet our maker.
Our first readings and the Gospel speak of the second coming of Christ. Christ will return and no one knows the hour. The question is, how many of us will be ready? How many of us will be gathered as the elect it speaks about in the Gospel. How many will rejoice when they see the second coming and how many will be fearful?
The same question can be asked of each one of us about death. Every single one of us here will die. That is the truth. No one lives forever on this earth. It is also true that most of us do not know the hour when we will die. Most of us might think it is far off and distant. Few of us think it might happen today. The question you need to answer is are you ready? Are you prepared? If you found out you had 24 hours to live would you run about frantically trying to get things done you have been putting off or would you be able to peacefully put your affairs in order.
The readings just before advent always focus on the end times for a couple of reasons. One because it is the end of the liturgical year. But more importantly because they are preparing us for Advent.
Advent is a penitential season that we are supposed to use to prepare for the coming of Christ into our hearts at Christmas. When Christ the Messiah came to earth the first time, his parents had to search about from Inn to Inn looking for a place for him to be born. The couldn’t find any room at any of the Inns and Christ had to be born in a Stable. The King of Kings should have been born in a palace but had to settle to be born in a manger he shared with animals.
When we celebrate the birthday of Christ at Christmas, will he need to go from heart to heart looking for a place to lay his head or will he be welcomed with the red carpet rolled out? Advent should be a time in which we reorder our priorities and make room in the Inns of our hearts for Christ. We need to move out anything that is taking up his rightful place. We prepare to receive him in our lives and reflect on changes we need to make.
What do we use Advent for? Is it a time of spiritual preparation or is it a time for shopping, parties and playoffs? If you knew you only had 24 hours left would you be ready to welcome Christ or would you be frantically trying to catch up?
If you are in a state of serious sin or haven’t been to confession in over a year then I strongly urge you to go to confession as soon as possible. Don’t wait for Advent. You might not make it to advent.
If you are not in a state of serious sin or have recently been to confession I urge you to get ready to make Advent a time of true reflection on the birth of our savior and his place in your life. Is it the same place he would have if you only had 24 hours to live?
Very soon the countdown will begin. 24 shopping days left to Christmas. 14, 7, 3 and its here. The retailers don’t want you miss out. They want you to be ready for Christmas and you don’t want to be caught off guard. How would that look?
I don’t want you to be caught off guard either when you die or Christ returns. Should I give you a countdown as well? I can’t. Nobody knows how much time we each have. Are your affairs in order? Is your relationship with Christ where you want it to be when you die or if you knew he was coming back today? Are you ready to meet Christ face to face? You had better be. And if you are not you need to get prepared quickly. After all you might meet Christ tonight.
Today we visited the Nursing home. It is amazing how people can be really out of it but can respond quite happily to the familiar parts of the Mass. Another piece of wisdom passed down to us through the Church. With Catholicism there is a real beauty to the rhythm and pulse of life. It would be tough to be somewhere where you didn’t know what to expect when you walked in the door.
Yesterday, on my day off, I went to Hoven, SD and a bunch of small towns in between. In Hove is St. Anthony’s church often times called the Cathedral of the Prairie. It is an amazing and beautiful place.
Some may remember a while ago when I put up a link to an article about them raising funds to do some long needed maitenance. They are still doing that and I will probably pitch again for them soon.
I am going to try to do a website for them as time permits.
One of the projects they are considering is restoring and old convent to a nice Catholic bed and breakfast. They could rent it out to Hunters in the hunting season but then to people who wanted to get away to a small little town (less than 500) with a great big Church and beautiful, faithful liturgies.
I am curious to find out if anyone looks for those kind of places. Do you think there would be a market for something like that?
I think its a great idea but I know my tastes are different than a lot of others.