Archive for September, 2004

Busy Busy Busy

September 27, 2004

Well sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Things are pretty hectic. I am putting up a BB for my youth to discuss things right now. I also have to work on their class for Wednesday night and I had a meeting with the Bishop and one of the finance council’s from my parish.

That has been a lot of work.

And we had our Bazaar yesterday. It was a really good time but I am wiped. A bit slower of a day today but I am looking forward to next week.

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Homily – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

September 19, 2004

Homily – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Last week I spoke of the holy Father’s call for a new evangelization. At the heart of evangelization is the hearing of the good news and then accepting it into our lives. What we accept is the Lordship of Jesus Christ over every area of our lives. The Good news is that Jesus Christ became man, suffered and died for our sins to pay the price we couldn’t pay, and then rose from the dead. We share in the fruits of his sacrifice if we too are willing to die to ourselves and live for others. We are only able to die to ourselves with God’s grace and we receive that grace as we submit our will to his.
The Gospel is very clear about the choice we face. It says “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” In other words you cannot serve both material wealth, possessions, the things of this world, and God. You will either hate one of them and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. These are not my words but the Word of God himself given to us by Jesus Christ. It is a stern warning to us, his disciples, that we are not to be deceived. He clearly sees that we are in danger of being deceived. The devil tries to deceive us into believing that we can have it all. Most often he tries to convince us that: God love us so much, it doesn’t matter what we do on this earth because we will go to heaven. So our faith doesn’t really have to affect the things we do. We can live our lives the way we want and in the end God will forgive everything. This is the lie. The gospel today points out a clear choice for us. We serve God or we pursue the world. If we try we try to do both then we will end up hating one, and often times that is hating God.
How does this happen? Our faith becomes a burden to us. We see that clearly in the first reading when the people can’t wait for the Sabbath to be over so they may get back to making money. It is no accident that our Holy Father, John Paul II, wrote a letter to the Church warning people that Sunday was no longer the day of the Lord and we needed to move back to setting aside one day for the praise and contemplation of God. For modern society the laws of God have become a burden. We can’t even stand to have the 10 commandments posted in public places and we use any excuse to get them out. They have stood for hundreds of years and we still have religious freedom in our country. They have never been a threat to religious freedom but we argue that if they are posted it is the state legislating a religion. It is a lie simply to get rid of them. Why? Because we want God’s law out of our site so we can pursue the world. Christ said it would happen. We despise God’s law in order to pursue our own ends. We do not want to respect the Sabbath, dedicating it to God’s praise, glory and contemplation because we want to earn money, and watch sports. It is so bad now that some people tell themselves they don’t have to go to Church every Sunday but can go camping or do something else instead. For them God’s law has become an obstacle to their desires and they simply put it aside telling themselves that it is okay, they love God and God forgives them.
Or how about the 5th commandment. You shall not kill. We are willing to kill babies so that our lives won’t be affected by the choices we made to break the 6th commandment against adultery. 1.2 million children a year are killed through abortion. The media screams about 1000 deaths in Iraq in two years by people who gave their lives in service of others but they say nothing of 1.2 million killed because people want to serve themselves. We have nearly 1000 abortions a year in South Dakota alone. Why are the small towns dying? 32 years of abortion has destroyed 32000 lives of South Dakotan’s. That is 64 Herreids, 40 Selby’s, or 27 Eureka’s that were wiped from our map because of abortion.
You cannot serve both God and mammon. Yet some politicians will call themselves Christians or Catholics and allow 1.2 million babies a year to die so they can win an election. Jesus Christ says: “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” You will hate one and love the other. The truth of this is seen in the fact that some people, when confronted with the preached Gospel, Choose to hate the Church, to hate the Pope, to hate their Bishop, to hate their priest, or to hate their fellow Christians rather than love the Gospel. Christ was right. You will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to on and despise the other. Christ also said this hate would happen. In John 17 he says “I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.”
The Sixth commandment is one that people would like to get rid of as well. Thou shall not commit adultery. Our society argues against anything that limits them. They want what they want, when they want it and how they want it. Thus you see increased co-habitation, divorce and remarriage outside the church, premarital relations, trial marriages, people who want to redefine marriage to mean something other than between one man and one woman. You see it in the widespread use of artificial contraception even among people who call themselves Catholic. For some reason people think they can ignore 2000 years of teaching of the Church instituted by Jesus Christ, they can ignore the Pope: Christ’s vicar on earth, they can ignore their Bishop, a successor to the apostles appointed by Christ, and they know what is right. When we stand before God on judgement day we will have to give an account of our actions before God and every soul ever created. It will be interesting to see some of the explanations. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
We are called clearly in the Gospel to choose our Master. We cannot have two. That is not a choice. Jesus Christ says it isn’t a choice and he can’t be wrong. We must choose to serve God or we choose to serve our worldly desires. They are called the 10 commandments, not the 10 suggestions. The reason they are commandments is because they are for our good. God gives us his law, not for his good, but for our good. We are called to choose to live for God and his will for us. We cannot serve things that contradict God’s will for our life.
When I was ordained a deacon the Bishop handed me the Book of the Gospels and commanded me “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” It isn’t an option for me. My salvation depends upon it. What I can tell you is that the Yoke of Christ is easy and his burden light. Although we are called to die to ourselves we are called to live for Christ. That life is far better than anything the world has to offer. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love him. Service of God and others brings us the happiness we seek. Service of the world and ourselves brings us hate and destruction. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” The choice is yours. Choose well.

Typo’s

September 17, 2004

Again a periodic disclaimer and apology for any typo’s in the homilies. I write them out but don’t edit in the written form. I do the editing on the fly as I preach.

It has been a very busy week and will continue into next week as well. I have a lot of administration stuff I am working on now and have to begin preparing classes next week as well.

Homily – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

September 17, 2004

Homily – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Today in the Gospel we hear three separate examples of God’s great love for us. Over and over again you will hear me preach about the dignity of the human person. This is especially important in today’s society which treats people as objects to be used for personal gain or preference. We live in a society that does not regard the individual life as precious. Rather, it is considered expendable if it gets in the way of someone else’s desires. We see this in embryonic stem cell research that treats unborn human beings as objects to be used for the furthering of science. In the name of a cure for disease some people are willing to kill babies if it makes their quality of life better. We see it in our laws that permit abortion on demand. We see it especially in the terribly hideous procedure of partial birth abortion and the activist judges who strike down laws against in the name of “personal freedom”. We see it in Euthanasia where the old and the disabled are treated as objects to be discarded when society determines they are no longer “worth” keeping around. We live in a culture of death and Christian’s are doing little to stem the tide. Our Holy Father, John Paul II, has said that we stand at a turning point in Human History. It could be a Christian millennium or the culture of death can continue to grow and dominate until it enslaves or kills us all. He says that to turn the tide we need to have a new evangelization and he has called us to that task. Whether we succeed or fail depends upon the choice we make of whether or not to embrace the new evangelization.
We see very clearly God’s great desire and love for the lost sheep, for the lost coin and for the prodigal son. God did not create any of us to spend eternity apart. God wills that all be saved. From the Adolph Hitler’s and Osama Bin ladan’s of the world to the neighbor we don’t like in town. God’s love for them still stands and he wants them to return to him. No one can be forgotten or discarded. No one is not worth our effort. By virtue of our baptism we are called to holiness. We are called to be priests, prophets, and kings. Each of these relationships is a relationship with others. A priest offers sacrifice on behalf of people. A prophet goes and speaks God’s word to people and calls them to repent, and a King orders society for the common good. Each and everyone of us is called to do this by our baptism. If we are not doing these things then we are failing God. As the first reading says: We have turned aside from the way God pointed us and we are worshiping idols. To do that leads us to destruction as it was leading the Israelites to destruction until they repented.
We are also strengthened by confirmation, to explain and defend the faith. We are strengthened in a special way so we can be evangelizers, so we can share the faith. If God gives us the gift and we don’t use it for his glory then we will be judged worthless as the lazy steward who buried his talent was. To be a Christian is to be an evangelizer. It is our duty, our obligation and our privilege to share in the saving work of Christ. It is not our job to change hearts but it is our job to extend the invitation to change and offer reasons for the hope that is in us. If you found an unlimited supply of gas on sale for 25 cents/gallon, how many people would you tell. In the same way, if we value our faith, we should share it with others. You don’t lose what you have when you share your faith, you gain more.
The call of the Gospel is clear and if you read our Bishop’s column in this month’s Bishop’s bulletin you would see he is calling us to do the same. He says that “every pastor must examine his conscience, mindful that everyone has the right to know the riches of the mystery of Christ, and see how he can develop an evangelizing faith community through teaching, preaching and pastoral leadership.” But it isn’t the pastor’s job to do all the work. It is his job to call help the community to develop as well as to evangelize. In fact the Bishop is clear that the job belongs to the parish. He says it is “The first priority of every parish pastoral council to make sure that their parish is an evangelizing parish.”
But again the burden doesn’t fall on the pastoral council. It falls on the parish. We need to be evangelizing parishes. We are not called to be stagnant but to grow. We are called to share the truths of the Catholic faith with others. Each and everyone of us has that call.
This is one of the reasons I have been speaking to the pastoral council’s about the need to form an evangelization committee in each parish. If we are to be true Christians we must be working toward the spread of the kingdom. It is an essential duty and privilege of all Christians but it is also vitally important in small parishes. In order to keep our smaller parishes open we must be working to spread the Gospel to all people living in our parish boundaries. One of the questions the Bishop asks a parish when they are considered for closing is “Do you have an evangelization committee.” If a parish isn’t willing to be what a parish is called to be then they really don’t have a right to be open as a parish.
Evangelization isn’t always going door to door but it includes that as well. It can be as simple as inviting someone to return to Church, or having a parish potluck and inviting people to come. It can and should include offering sacrifices for the salvation of others. There are countless ways if we are willing to make it a priority in our lives.
We are called by God to be holy and to evangelize. To be holy is the Love of God and to evangelize is the Love of neighbor. It is not an option for a faithful Christian. If we fail in this then we fail in our baptismal and conformational calls. If we do not turn out to others then we turn in on ourselves.
We will be looking at forming evangelization committees in the parishes in the near future. As our Bishop says, becoming and evangelizing parish has to be a first priority of parish pastoral councils. From there we will seek out others to help us in the work of evangelization. It is here we will need to make individual choices. Do we seek to be evangelists and do we seek to make our parishes evangelizing parishes? The choice to be an evangelist is a choice to be what God called us or to refuse. Our spiritual life or death depends upon it. The choice to be an evangelizing parish is a choice to be what a parish is supposed to be or to refuse. The life or death of our parishes depends upon it. I invite you to join us when the time comes and I invite you to pray for the evangelization of our communities until then. If your faith is a blessing to you then we should be willing to share it. If it is not then we should be willing to share it with you. In the end our life depends upon it. As the scripture says “I put before you life and death. Choose life.” The choice is yours. Choose well.

Highschool youth

September 10, 2004

The first youth class went pretty well. It was a little chaotic with 50 teenagers but I think we will be able to work with that. Some of the kids are pretty well catechized and that is alwasy good to see.

We debated the exitences of God. I let them choose the side they want. They chose that God exists. We then debated. I came at them with the problem of evil and the standard arguments of evolution. One group came back with both free will and the argument from design. I was pretty impressed. I was able to use a bit of sophistry to leave them confused. They didn’t buy my arguments though.

I later explained to them they were right on both answers and showed them how the arguments I used were could be refuted. I told them they had the right answer but just hadn’t had as much experience debating it as I had so that is why I was able to “get off the hook”.

Overall though I think it went pretty well. At least they will recognize some of the tactics people will use against them in the future. I hope then they will realize there is a reasonable explanation for the challenges and that the existence of God is a more reasonable position than not believing in a God.

Homily – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

September 8, 2004

Homily – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
This week we celebrate the 23rd Sunday in ordinary time. This weekend is surrounded by days in which we have experienced the profound evil of terrorism. Most recently we experienced it in the tragic situation in Russia in which many children were killed by terrorists. Next weekend we will mark the 3rd anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. These images are very vivid in our mind and that is why I want to use an analogy of terrorism to make the point of the gospel today.
If you were captured by a terrorist and told they would cut of three parts of your body but you could choose them. Your choices were a finger, an ear, a leg or your head. They tell you that you can keep one. Which would you choose? Obviously everyone would choose their head. Why? Because some things are much more important than others. No one wants to lose a single part of their body. But if they did then there are certain parts we would rather lose than others. We keep our head because it is necessary for survival. We can lose the others and still live so we make our choice in order to survive. We choose our head.
Now this might seem like a bizarre analogy but you will see how it fits very soon. Why? Because the Devil is a terrorist. He attempts to coerce others to his position by threatening the things they love. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians we hear that we are members of the body of Christ. Christ is the head, we are the members. The devil will do anything he can to separate the members of the body from the head. But he can only do this by getting us to choose to lose our head. We must choose to forsake Christ. You would think that no one would make that choice but, sadly, people make that choice every day. The devil gets them to make that choice by having them choose another member of the body, or something outside the body, over the head of the body. He tricks us into choosing someone or something over Christ.
We hear this in the Gospel today. Christ says “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Now is Christ truly commanding us to hate? No, the word probably doesn’t translate accurately. Christ wouldn’t command us to love our enemies and hate our loved ones. We are called to love all. He is speaking very strongly here though. The true meaning is that Christ needs to be our ultimate choice. We must be willing to forsake everything for him if necessary. We must be willing to give up our family, our friends, our possessions and even our life if necessary in order not to be separated from Jesus Christ.
We were created to spend eternity with God in heaven and it isn’t God’s will that a single member of the body be lost. Yet some people choose to leave. Some choose to leave because of a loved one, some because of possessions, some because they don’t want Christ to rule their lives. The devil deceives them into choosing something else as their first priority over Christ. We can choose many things over Christ: a boyfriend, a spouse, a child, a job, wealth, success, politics, friends, prestige, or even our own lives if we are threatened with suffering if we will not renounce our faith. In order to get us to do this the devil deceives us. He is the father of lies. He keeps things in secret and darkness in order to carry out his plans. He doesn’t bring things into the light because then we will see clearly. He obscures and deceives in order to get us to choose to be separated from the head.
If we desire to spend eternity with God in heaven, then we must be disciples of Christ. This requires us to forsake all things. Christ must be the ultimate choice of our life. That choice might cost us friends, it might cost us families, it might cost us comfort, it might cause us to suffer, it might cost us our life. But as the scripture says, if we want to save our lives then we must be willing to lose it.
Christ must be the first choice of our lives and the rest of our lives must be ordered around it. If someone wouldn’t begin building a tower without calculating the cost and planning why would they not calculate the cost and have a plan for their spiritual lives. The most important things require the most attention and planning in our lives. We need to have a plan for getting to heaven. Showing up on Sunday’s is not enough. We must constantly be striving to grow closer to Christ. We need to have a plan for spiritual growth. We should plan to go to church. We should plan to go to confession. We should plan to pray. We should plan to examine our lives and our consciences. We should plan to grow in virtue. We should plan on how to eliminate our vices. If not, then we go into battle against the terrorist, Satan, without our troops. We go unarmed to battle.
Our spiritual lives need to be constantly in our thoughts. The scripture says we are to pray without ceasing. If we choose to spend our time planning for other things, then we are being deceived. We must plan to protect the most important things if we want to live. That is we must plan to make sure we have a relationship with our Head: Jesus Christ. If Jesus isn’t our ultimate goal then we will choose other things ahead of him and we will suffer eternal, spiritual death. If he is our ultimate goal and we don’t spend time planning on how to reach him then we won’t. We will be easily deceived into choosing other things and we will die spiritually.
We must be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ. It might cost us a lot but in the end it will cost us more if we aren’t willing to lay down our lives. In the end the choice is ours. But we will make that choice by the thousand little choices we make every day. Every choice we make is a building block of our final choice. We had better plan those choices well. If you don’t have a plan for your spiritual growth then it would be a good idea to sit down and map one out. Do not be deceived into thinking you can coast. Would you leave a choice that important up to chance? You can plan for Christ, but if you don’t then you plan to fail. That seems like too big a choice to leave to chance. In the end though, the choice is yours. Choose well.

Cowboy up

September 4, 2004

Well I went to as much of the Herreid Rodeo as I could today. I got to see the kids ride the calves and the sheep. I went to a bunch tonight but had to leave before it was over to get some rest for tomorrow.

It is a lot of fun. I have always loved rodeo’s and it is nice to go. Next year I will have to wear my boots and hat with my clerics.

This weekend takes me on a trip to Platte, SD for a priest gathering. Then to Aberdeen, SD on Mon to visit a nursing home resident and sign a contract for some work at one of the parishes. I also need to work on my class for CCD which begins next week. Busy, Busy.

Back from vacation and ready for another

September 2, 2004

Wow have the last two days been exhausting and I haven’t even gotten to the mail yet. I didn’t sleep monday night because I packed until about 1 and had to get up at 4 for my flight (yes that is a.m.) I figured better safe than sorry. So I caught about an hour on the plane. I arrived back in Sioux Falls and ran errands for about 2 hours. Then I started the 300mile drive home. After about 50 miles I pulled over to sleep a bit. Then I made it the rest of the way getting home at around 9pm.

Next I had to get ready to meet with the family for the funeral in the morning. I climbed into bed and got 7 hours. Then I was busy non stop on Wednesday until about 10pm. I relaxed an hour and went to bed.

I had the funeral today which was very nice. One of the Grandsons was a policeman and I enjoyed talking to him quite a bit.

Then I went to two nursing homes in two different towns. I had a brief meeting on CCD. Picked up my dog and headed home. She is doing great by the way.

I made it here and told the secretery I needed an hour to sleep before I could get to talk with her. I did that and we worked on the bulletin. I still have to finish that tonight.

Tomorrow I drive to Bismark to visit a parishioner who is in the hospital and need to return for First Friday devotions. Somewhere I need to write a homily for Sunday and make another nursing home visit. I also have a wedding prep at 10am on Saturday.

Allt his and I haven’t even gotten to the mail as I mentioned above.

Egads. But in the end…. I can still celebrate Mass whenever I want to. That is a tremendous blessing.