Archive for February, 2004

That Passion of the Christ

February 28, 2004

Unbelieveably good. Incredibly Catholic. Profound. I will see it again and again and certainly buy it when it comes out on DVD.

I think all Jr. High and up can handle it. It is graphic but no more so than video games and movies I have seen and those have violence for no purpose.

Iran against Bush

February 28, 2004

Seems the radicals in Iran are trying to influence the election by accuising Bush of keeping Bin Laden’s capture secret. As if that really could be kept a secret. But it is interesting to know they would rather the other candidate as president.

Hollywood betrays it’s bias

February 26, 2004

Here you have the self acknowledged hatred of religious themes and the attempt to persecute any Christians. God help us if people really want to see movies about Jesus.

Matt 5:11-12 Mr. Gibson. Your are in my prayers as you walk your via crucis. I encourage all my readers to pray for him. I am offering Mass for him soon. I offered Mass for the success of the movie back in July but it seems now the time is there to offer it for Mr. Gibson. Forza!

Kerry is a First Class idiot and no Catholic

February 26, 2004

John Kerry is a wacko. He is so full of contradictions. He was expressing his concern about The Passion of the Christ (anti-semetism supposedly) and talking about how he was enjoying Terminator 3 on his campaign plane. Today’s readings are clear:

“I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,”

Mr. Kerry has clearly chosen Death. His concerns are about a movie that depicts the author of life and he enjoys one that celebrates death an mayhem. He supports unrestricted murder of innocent children in their mothers wombs.

He “worries” about anti-semetism because he is trying to appeal to the Jewish vote rather than any real concern. How do I know? He calls himself a Catholic and doesn’t follow Church teaching or the recommendations of the film by prominent church leaders.

Kerry is no Catholic. I wish his Bishop would do the gutsy thing and excommunicate the guy formally.

And the Devil Screams`

February 25, 2004

This movie is going to change lives. You can tell by the amount of vocal complaining.

Today it Begins

February 25, 2004

Lent and The Passion of The Christ that is.

I am looking forward to a spiritually productive lent. HOpefully I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew. It is my first Lent as a priest and I am having to run everything on top of it. I just hope I don’t forget my ashes at one of the parishes. That would be quite the start.

The Passion of the Christ.
Lots of controversy here. I think mainly the devil is screeching because he knows this movie is going to change lives. I wish I was in a better spot to take the youth of my parishes but I don’t know if it will work out. The schedule fills up in rural parishes with all the confessions at surrounding Church’s.

The constant complaining about anti-semitism is going to backfire. If anything causes anti-semitism it will probably be the complaining about it where it doesn’t exist. The only ones that will walk into this film and come out of it thinking it was anti-semitic are those who have an agenda, want attention, or are trying to appear intellectual and open minded in their concern to protect everyone because they are so enlightened.
Too many good people have seen it and loved it and didn’t see a trace of anything that lays the blame at the Jews as a whole. It should be interesting to see.

Needless to say I am taking my purple stole in my pocket and will probably have my priest friend bring his as well. I know the movie will make people want to go to confession and I want to be ready if they come up. I get stopped in airports and parking lots occasionally so I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened in a movie theatre.

Have a spiritually fruitful day.

Homily – Ash Wednesday

February 25, 2004

Homily – Ash Wednesday
June 5, 1944: It was the eve of D-day. A young soldier from Iron Mountain, Michigan stood in the dying sunlight waiting to go to confession. He didn’t know what tomorrow would hold for him but he wanted to make sure that he was ready. What struck him about this night was that the lines were so long. It didn’t surprise him that all the Catholics were in line for confession on the eve of the big battle. What made an impression on him was the fact that the protestants and even the Jews were lined up to go to confession to a Catholic priest. Then again, as one Catholic Chaplain put it, there are no atheists in foxholes.
This story is a true one that was told to me by that soldier 50 years after D-day. You see he became a priest and he was my spiritual director for 4 years. When push comes to shove, people know what is important. The truth of the Sacrament of Penance is not lost on anyone when the stand in the face of death. All people want to be reconciled and to confess their sins. Our readings today make it clear that we all need to do this and God calls us to it. Rend your hearts, not your garments. We must remove sin from our hearts by violence. It should be torn from us. That is what it means to rend something. Strong words.
They might be a little too strong for some people in today’s day and age. After all, many believe God is a God of warm fuzzies. There is no such thing as sin. Everybody is saved. We seem to be losing fast the understanding of personal sin. After all in today’s day and age, if you eat at fast food restaurants and become overweight then it is the fault of the restaurant not you. Or if you spill hot coffee on yourself while driving with it between your legs and burn yourself then it is the fault of the restaurant and not your own and you deserve millions of dollars. Nobody seems to be responsible for anything these days. It is always the fault of someone else.
This goes for Catholics as well. Never in our history have the lines for communion been so long and the lines of confession so short. Scripture says: “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.” It seems that everybody thinks they are worthy to receive the body of Christ and that they are worthy to receive Him without going to confession.
Some might think they can be worthy of receiving without confession because they confess their sins directly to God. Well that is not a Catholic belief that is a protestant one and we don’t have open communion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states all Catholics are to go to confession at least once a year. It is known as our Easter duty. If you protest the beliefs of the Catholic Church that makes you protest ant. You can’t call yourself a Catholic with integrity if you deny the necessity of going to confession.
One of the many great things about being a Catholic is that we have a rhythm to our lives. We have regular times during the year where we fast, repent, mortify ourselves, rend our hearts and reflect on the great gifts we have received. Every Advent we prepare to reflect on the great gift give to us when God became man. That is why Advent is a penitential season. Every Lent we prepare for Easter and the great gift given to us in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. That is why we rend our hearts and turn back to God. And finally every Friday of the year is penitential for Catholics because it is the day that Christ died for our sins. We are supposed to practice penance and mortification every Friday, not just Fridays in lent. We used to do it by giving up meat every Friday, for now everyone can choose their own but we are still supposed to do penance.
Why do we do this? It is said very clearly in the tracing of the ashes. Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return. Without God we are nothing. We are a bunch of chemicals, carbon, water, that are worth about 25 cents if we were split apart and sold for our chemicals. With God however, we are made in the image and likeness of the Triune God and with that we become priceless treasures. But only if we turn away from sin and back to the source of our dignity.
Lent is a time to remind ourselves that without God we are nothing. It is a time to rend our hearts and tear from them anything that might keep us from God. Everything of this earth is dust and to dust it will return. In the eternal scheme it is worthless unless it helps us return to the one reason we have meaning, which is God.
Today we mark ourselves with ashes. Not to show other people how holy we are and be like the Pharisees in the Gospel. Our reward has been received if that is the case. We mark ourselves to remind us that without God we are nothing and nothing is worth losing our relationship with God. We repent. We confess our sins. We change our hearts and our lives and we prepare to honor what Christ has done for us in his passion, death and resurrection. We go to the inner room of our hearts and pray to the Father in secret and he repays us. We each choose what we get out of Lent. Will it be a time of true conversion and repentance. Or will it just be another outward show to fool ourselves or others. That choice we will each make in the secret of our hearts. A sincere cry to the Lord to create a clean heart or business as usual. The choice is yours. Choose well.

February 21, 2004

Homily – 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel today tells us of one of the most radical aspects of Christianity. It is a belief unique to the Christian religion that clearly sets us apart from the other monotheistic religions. That belief is that we are called to love our enemies, to do good to those who hates us, bless those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us. These are clearly hard things to do. It is much easier for us to understand: an eye for an eye. It is much easier for us to understand the notion of revenge or what some people might call justice. After all the Jewish faith tells us an eye for an eye. Islam that you should cut off the hand of a thief. These seem like more natural notions for us. They are easier to understand. They seem to make more sense according to what our feelings tell us. But we are not called only to an earthly or natural reality. As the second reading tells us, we are also called to a heavenly or supernatural one. We are called to bear the image of the heavenly one Jesus Christ.
This is the fundamental meaning of what it means to be a Christian. We must conform ourselves into the image and likeness of Christ. That image is of one who is willing to die for others. It is one who meets all the criteria mentioned in the Gospel. He loves his enemies, he does good to those who hate him by dying for their sins, he blesses those who curse him and prays for those who mistreat him. This is made clear from the cross. After he had been bruised, beaten, scourged, whipped, cursed, spat upon, mocked and given over to die he prays for those who did it to him. In the midst of that execution, he calls to his father in heaven and pleads for mercy for those killing them: Forgive them Father for they know not what they do. That is heavenly Justice; that is heavenly Mercy; that is what we are all called to as Christians.
Now that might seem like a lot or it might seem like it is impossible. Both are true if we look at it from a human standpoint. As far as impossibility goes I refer you to Phil 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” As far as it being a lot or too much we need to understand that it is no more than has already been given to us in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Many of you have heard about the controversy surrounding a new film that is coming out on Ash Wednesday by Mel Gibson called The Passion of the Christ. Some claim it is too violent and some claim it is anti-semetic. I know good and holy people who have seen it and they say it is neither. They say it is a good portrayal of the Gospels and the crucifixion. They say it is a prayer. One great priest I know said it changed forever the way he will say the Mass. The main question that has been raised by Jewish leaders is does it portray the Jewish people as responsible for the death of Christ.
I think that can be answered by watching the first nail go through Christ’s hand in the movie. The hands that hold the nail and drive it in with the hammer are those of Mel Gibson’s own. We don’t see his face, just his hands. There is a profound truth being conveyed here. Mr. Gibson is saying “I killed Christ”. That is true for all of us. The answer to the question of who is responsible for Christ’s death is: “We are.” Each and everyone of us must say “I killed Christ.” Why? Because we have sinned and Christ needed to pay the price for our sin. He paid that price by dying on the cross. He paid the price because we couldn’t. That is the gift we have been given. That is the gift also which gives us the power, ability and responsibility to love our enemies and forgive them their sins. What we are given, we are expected to give in return.
The extent to which we are blessed is fundamentally tied up in how we share those blessings with others. To whom much has been given, much will be required. You notice it clearly in our Gospel today. Stop judging then you will not be judged. Stop condemning then you will not be condemned. Forgive then you will be forgiven. Give then gifts will be given to you and in greater abundance than what you gave. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
How many of us go to God asking for more of this or more of that? How many of us ask him to make us more generous. More forgiving. More loving. Or are other, earthly things our priority?
Lent is a time to reassess our priorities. We meditate on the Passion, Death and resurrection of Christ to remind ourselves of the great gift we have already been given in our salvation. We deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ as he walks the road to a complete gift of self for others.
The disciplines, mortifications, and penances are things we do to bring ourselves closer to Christ. We give up things that are temptations or keep us from Christ. We take on new things that bring us closer to Christ. These are the two ways we should evaluate our Lenten practices. What things in my life tend to distract me from Christ? Then you give those up. What do I need to do to draw closer to Christ? Then you add these on.
One of the students in CCD asked me what they could do for Lent. I suggested pray 15 minutes in front of a crucifix each day. They said that isn’t giving something up. I said: “Sure it is. Your giving up the 15 minutes you could be doing something else and giving it to Christ.” They said but 15 minutes is such a long time. I said “It depends on how you look at it.” If your parents told you that you could only talk to your friends 15 minutes a day. Or you could only watch 15 minutes of television, or you only could have 15 minutes to do what you want… how would you feel. You would probably say…. That isn’t enough. If 15 minutes seems like a long time to pray then that is exactly something we should add. Only 15 minutes with someone we love a day isn’t a long time. If it is then we ought to question if our love is true. I would also suggest that it be 15 minutes of thanksgiving for the blessings in our lives.
Finally I encourage you to see the film: The Passion of the Christ. I will be seeing it this week and probably more than once during Lent. Why? Because I want to be reminded and reminded clearly of the price Christ paid for my sins. If we remember the goodness we have been given then that will inspire us to give more. We will be judged as Christians on judgement day by whether or not we did our best to conform our lives to Christ. Christ gave all and we are called to as well. Christ says “the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” The good news is we get to choose what we do with the gifts we have been given. The choice is yours. Choose well.

Price Reduction

February 20, 2004

Well by a little bit of time spent on the internet trying to save my parish money it turns out I can get the monstrance I was looking at below for about 1/2 the price or $1500. If that makes it anymore enticing for someone to offer as a memorial you can see the other one here.

Fun Stuff

February 18, 2004

Well the Diocesen Audit team is here going through the books. That should be fun.

I had dinner at a parishoners house last night and that was a lot of fun. They are teaching me the local card games. I Hope I catch on eventually.

Also I am working on getting into the Navy Reserve which is a lot of jumping through hoops. I am commissioned but now I have to wait for the recruiter to call me to get into a unit.

And off we go.