Dress Blues

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B
Is 53:10-11, Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22, Heb 4:14-16, Mk 10:35-45

If you have ever had the opportunity to talk to a recruiter in the Marine Corps, you will notice that they often walk around in their dress blue uniforms, looking very sharp and crisp and handsome. The Marines do this on purpose – it is part of their mystique, it is what draws young men and women into the corps to serve the country. What guy wouldn’t want to have a cool sword, nice threads and a Tank to drive on the weekends? What we don’t see are the endless hours of toil and discipline and hard work that go along with the uniform.

Dress Blues on the Road to Jerusalem
In today’s Gospel, Jesus and his Apostles are going through a similar problem. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem where He is going to suffer and die. He knows the road ahead and his Apostles are caught up in a classic “Dress Blues” moment. I can just see them walking down the road – “Won’t it be cool Lord when you are in your power and we can rule with you – how sweet that will be!” There are at least two ways that we can read the response of the other 10 Apostles, The first is that they are more pious than James and John, and hence their indignation – “How childish of you guys to ask such a lame question – don’t you see?” The other is from the attitude of “Drat! I wanted to be the first to ask that question!” I think that this is truly their source of indignation. The Apostles are indignant with James and John not because they asked to be on Christ’s right and left, but the other 10 didn’t think of that question first!

Be Christian – Be “Like Christ
Jesus takes this moment to teach his Apostles, and us, what it means to be his followers, to love him. The word Christian means ‘Like Christ’ – and today's Gospel makes it clear that our way to salvation is to love as Christ loved, and to serve as Christ served.

Sacraments of Service
There are two sacraments of service in the Catholic Church – Marriage and Holy Orders. Both have their “shiny, glossy covers” that are similar to the sharp dress blue uniforms of the U.S. Marines, and both have their “reality checks” in which we discover as James and John did that we are called to a ministry of service.

Dress Blues for Marriage
For marriage the “Dress Blues” is a mother snuggling a quiet, peaceful baby just reflecting on the wonder of the love that created this beautiful delicate life that has been entrusted to her. It is a Father coaching his kids in soccer or baseball and seeing them succeed in ways that he couldn’t. It is seeing a married couple deeply in love with one another, caring for each other and walking together.

Baby Blues for Marriage
Marriage also has its “Baby Blues side”. This comes with the first kid when Mom is sitting up late at night with a cranky kid that won’t settle down, or Dad is stuck changing a poopy diaper that somehow has exploded all over the place. We don’t often use these images when we speak of marriage, but they are the heart of the service of love that marriage calls us to.

This is what is happening to James, John and the other Apostles. They have the “rose colored glasses” view of the Kingdom, and Jesus is reminding them of the way of the Cross.

Dress Blues for Holy Orders
For Holy Orders, the best way to speak about the “Dress Blues” moment is to share with you a little bit about my own vocation to be a Deacon. When I first knew that God was calling me to be a Deacon I was very excited, but at the same time I kept it a great secret. The only person that I spoke about my vocation about was my wife. I told her that I thought that Christ was calling me to follow him in His life of service, but that part of following that calling meant to wait on her discernment. To ensure that she had the freedom of discernment, I told no one for over three years.

Talking with the Archdiocese
After years of prayer and quiet discernment Tina and I finally decided to speak to the Deacon in charge of Deacons at the Archdiocese about my vocation. I was expecting a Marine Corps recruiter – “Let me sign you up Son!” This is how I imagined that James and John thought when the approached Jesus. That is not what I encountered – Rather Deacon Al said to me – The life of a Deacon is a life of service – a life of sacrifice, of setting yourself last of all – so that they can come to know Christ. In his own way he was calling my attention to the tough times that lie ahead just as Christ points out the passion to his disciples.

Can you drink the cup? - Why do we do it!
Jesus challenges the Apostles, and he challenges us – “Can you drink the cup that I am to drink? Can you be baptized with the baptism that I will be baptized?” – That is – do you have the courage to walk the whole road to Calvary? Do you have the strength to give yourself fully to your spouse? To the Church? Marriage and Holy Orders are not about being served but about serving. We do this every day when we go to work, or get the kids off to school. When we do these simple things, we are following Christ.

No Pain, No Gain
My drill instructor in the military said a very similar thing to me in boot camp – he said “No Pain, No Gain!” – "No Service, No Reward!"

Quiet Prayer on the way of the Cross
Sometimes it is difficult to see that our day-to-day actions make a difference in the lives of anyone – that is part of the Gospel today. Christ shows us that part of the secret to sanctification is to offer our daily work, our daily sacrifices in prayer. Uniting our sufferings to the sufferings of Christ on the cross.

Being a Mom or Dad is not about having kids to serve you, but rather it is about building a life of service to one another – first as husband and wife, then as Mother and Father in order to allow ourselves to be transformed by the practice of selfless love.

The first Order of Holy Orders is Service - Diakonia
Being a Priest or Deacon is not about leading or being in charge – it is about surrendering your own wants and needs in order to care for the needs of the Body of Christ – the Church. The first step in the ordained life is to be ordained Deacon – the ministry of Diakonia is a ministry of service. Before any priest is ordained a priest he is first ordained Deacon. Before any Bishop is ordained Bishop he is ordained Deacon. The heart of ministry in the Church is the heart of the Gospel.

Can you Drink the Cup?
Christ say’s that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." In the same way we are not Mothers and Fathers, Deacons and Priests to be served, but to serve, and to give our life so that our children at home and in this flock can have a rich and fruitful spiritual life! Our Savior is challenging us in our lives for the week ahead – Can you drink His cup?


But first....

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B
Dt 4:1-2, 6-8, Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 4-5, Jas 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27, Gospel Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Building Model Airplanes
When I was a kid one of the things that I loved to do was to build plastic models. I would put together Model Battleships, Submarines, Aircraft Carriers and Airplanes.
The models came with a set of instructions, mostly pictures showing you how to glue part 17B to 17A. You would hunt through the pieces and find the parts, and then pull them out and glue them together. Only then would you recognize that the picture to the right had a big WARNING! Exclamation mark, instructing you to first insert part 16 between 17A and B so that the model would go together right. Often, I would glue 17A and B together before seeing the exclamation mark, and then I would have a sorry looking plane, ship or submarine. The lesson I learned from this was to read the instructions through completely before beginning. It is a difficult lesson for guys to learn, because we feel that building stuff ought to be in our genes.

Following instructions helps us stay safe
The readings today teach us that this idea of following the instructions in order to have a cool looking model airplane, or to figure out what is wrong in the radar system is actually a very ancient idea. The readings today speak about the Law – the revealed Word that God gave us to help us to live good and happy lives. In the first reading Moses instructs the children of Israel about the law that God has given them. This is an important point – The Law is a gift to help us to live life, so that we can be in possession of the land.

The Law is a Gift.
When you compare the legal code of God to the legal code of man you quickly realize that God is pretty brief. He outlined his law in 10 commandments, whereas it takes a library filled with books to describe the American legal code.

Why did God give us the Law? – To live and possess
God gave us the law to help us to live – to live lives that are compatible with his holiness, to live lives that would lead us to happiness. Living our lives in accord with God’s laws means that we are living our lives in a way that we are in possession of our land. This is one of the brilliant ideas behind Gods scheme, he recognized the dominance of sin in our lives, and so he left us the law so that we could be in possession of our lives instead of letting Sin rule our lives.

Testing Jesus – is He for real?
In the Gospel today we find that the Pharisees are testing Jesus. They are watching him closely. I think that this is a very natural, human reaction, and I think that we all do this. We all come to Christ with the question – How do I know that you are the Son of God? One of the ways that the Pharisees fall down, and I think that we too can fall down, is that they are watching the wrong things. They are watching to see if the disciples obey the hygienic laws (a minor point of the law), while not checking out the important laws (the 10 commandments). Once they see that the disciples don’t always wash their hands before eating they have the “AHA!” moment that Mark describes in today's Gospel.

Model Airplane Building contest
Imagine that in the Gospel today Jesus and his disciples entered into a model airplane building contest with the Pharisees. Jesus is watching his disciples put together their model and the Pharisees come up and say “AHA – your disciples got some glue on the airplane! I can see fingerprints on the airplane!”. Jesus’ response is – “Yes I see, and you have attached your wings to where the landing gear is supposed to go.

Is our way of life leading us to happiness?
The readings today invite us to examine our lives in the light of the Law. Are we living lives that allow us to be happy, to take possession of ourselves, or are we living lives that are ruled by sin? Is our heart far from Christ? Are we worshiping God in vain?

Where have we missed the important parts of the Law?
Are our hearts filled with unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance or folly?

Be Doers of the word!
If we find that we are, there is hope. James reminds us that we can begin the life of conversion today by first accepting the word that has been planted in us at baptism, the word that is able to save our souls. Not just to accept that word, but be doers of the word – to respond to this gift of God’s love by doing what is important, taking care of those who are in need, who are afflicted.
James exhorts us to be doers of the word, and not hearers only. How can we become doers of the word this week?

Those of us who struggle with unchastity, adultery or licentiousness can conquer those sins by serving others – especially in manual labor, or by keeping a vigil hour in the middle of the night and interceding for others who struggle with the same sin.

Those of us who are tempted with the sins of theft, greed or envy can attack those sins by striving to offer a little more of our alms to the poor – but to offer them out of a thankful heart, and not a grudging heart.

Those of us who find it easy to be overwhelmed with murder, malice, and deceit might try to spend a little time each day reflecting on scripture, so that we can see the great love that drives God to create and care for his creation.

Finally those who are blasphemers, arrogant or foolish might consider some time in Eucharistic Adoration – to encounter Christ as he is, and listen to him in your soul.

All of these medicines can be unsettling for our soul at first, but that is because they challenge us to repent – to believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to change our lives for the better.


Faith in Action

Memorial of St. Martha
Exodus 34:29-35 Psalm 99:5, 6, 7, 9 Gospel - John 11:19-27

St. Martha gets a bad rap
Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Martha, a saint who often gets a bad rap, because we always remember her in comparison to her sister Mary who Jesus says “has chosen the better part”. Martha has a feast day that is independent of her sister Mary so that we can reflect on Her witness to Christ, and on the way that God called her to live out her life allowing her to be liberated and transformed by her encounter with Jesus Christ.

Martha is a woman of mission and purpose.
St. Martha is a woman of mission and purpose. Her witness to the Gospel is that of action, she is a woman of action, who gets things done, and who does not like to sit still and wait. St. Martha teaches us that Holy work is one way that we can show the presence of Christ’s love to the world. In today’s Gospel, she hears that Christ is coming, and she does something about it – she goes out to meet him.

Martha relates to Christ in her actions
Martha is a woman of action, it is through her actions that her relationship with Christ is built. Martha relates to Christ primarily through her actions, and she recognizes that Christ’s actions are His way of showing the love of the Father to the world. She expresses her love in her actions and in that way imitates Christ who expresses the fullness of his love through his action of dying on the Cross.

Christ’s challenge / Martha’s response.
When St. Martha meets Christ he reassures her and then challenges her faith “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?

Jesus does this to reveal the heart of his life of action. He uses St. Martha, the woman of action today to reveal to us that his life, death and resurrection are the saving actions of God. It is in this revelation of his saving action that Martha makes her own statement of faith similar to that of St. Peter. She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.

How will our encounter with Christ today in the Eucharist transform us so that today our witness to the Gospel is expressed in our actions? What is Christ calling you, and me to do today?


The Heart of Theology = Knowing Christ

Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor
Ex 3:1-6, 9-12, Ps 103:1b-2, 3-4, 6-7, Mt 11:25-27

St. Bonaventure
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. He was a leader of the Franciscans, who said that as a youth he was spared from death by the intercession of St. Francis. He led the Franciscans during the time when St. Anthony of Padua was canonized, and continued in Anthony’s tradition of teaching the faith in a systematic way.

Systematic Theology = a Skeleton
A systematic approach to our faith is necessary, as it provides us with a framework in which to understand our relationship with God – but it is just that, it is the skeleton, and if we think that this is the sum of our faith, then we have a faith of dry bones.

Jesus Christ = Flesh and Blood
The readings today remind us, as St. Bonaventure reminded his brothers, sisters and students, that the path to God is not found in books, but in our everyday encounter with the God of Love. The love of God is a never-ending fire that burns without consuming – it respects the soul of the individual, and yet at the same time captivates, and fascinates us, so that we draw closer to Him.

God’s beauty is fascinating
When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, he appeared to him in a way that fascinated Moses and drew him in. It was only after he got over the fascination did he realize that he had encountered the invisible God. Moses did not encounter God in a Bible study, but rather he encountered God in the pursuit of his ordinary life.

The fire of our love for God is where the rubber hits the road
It is that fire of the love of God that puts the meat on our bones, that allows us to live life abundantly. Let us take the word of God to heart today – from Christ himself and remember that “although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” Lord Jesus, help us to walk with you today with a childlike heart so that we can witness your glory at work in the world!



14th Wednesday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B
Gn 41:55-57; 42:5-7a, 17-24a, Ps 33:2-3, 10-11, 18-19, Gospel: Mt 10:1-7

God gave Joeseph the Gift of Prudence
In the first reading, we see that God has given Joseph the gift of interpreting dreams so that he could help Pharaoh be a good ruler of Egypt. Joseph is made the steward of the graineries of Egypt to help the people; in fact all of the world endure this great famine. Joseph is Prudent – he uses that gift of wisdom to expand the graineries in Egypt and to store up the food so that when the famine hits, people are still provided for.

Spiritual Starvation – An understanding of man’s role in the world
Our world today is suffering from a famine of forgiveness, a famine of people’s ability to receive God’s grace. Many people are spiritually starved, but are unaware of the hunger for God that exists in their souls. To that feed that hunger God is pouring out His gifts of grace into the world through the Church.

It is our actions of love and forgiveness that proclaim the kingdom of God
In the Gospel today Jesus calls the twelve to become stewards of the sacramental gifts of the Church. The twelve are called to be apostles, to be his special disciples to steward the grace of God to the world. Christ’s commandment to them, is his commandment to us – “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and make this proclamation – The Kingdom of God is at Hand”. The way that the Church makes this proclamation is in the lives of the community of believers.

Let us allow the grace that Christ gives us in the “bread of angels” to work in our lives so that our relationships are healed – and the kingdom of God is proclaimed.
God used Joseph to steward his gift of bread to the Egyptians, and through the Egyptians to the world. God uses the Church, you and I to steward his gift of “The bread of angels” to his disciples. It is our relationship with Christ in the Eucharist that we share that God is commanding us to us to steward. As we reflect with Christ after receiving Him in Holy communion, let us bring to Him all of our relationships – especially those in need of healing. Let us invite Christ into our actions and words this day so that He can use these relationships with our families and friends to give witness to the coming of the Kingdom of God.


Encountering Providence

13th Wednesday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B

The readings today call to mind three key aspects of our relationship with God – Faith, Providence and Sin. In today’s Gospel Christ comes across the Sea and encounters two men possessed by demons. These men are so filled with evil that the roads near the tombs are not safe for travel. When these two men encounter Christ they are saved from the demons that possess them. St. Matthew does not focus on their salvation, but rather on the reaction to the presence of Christ of the local townspeople and the swineherds.

The demons are driven into the swine, who are driven mad and plunge into the sea where they die. The swineherd run into town not with the Good News, but fear for the village – their source of livliehood has just plunged into the sea and is gone.

When have we encountered a similar experience, when we encounter the “Good News” of Jesus Christ only to realize that our life has changed? How do we respond to this?

Providence is God’s action in our lives. Often times the providence of God is expressed through ordinary people and ordinary events, that lead us to deepen our trust in God and his love for us.

Faith is our ability to understand that God’s providence is at work in our lives. The more we recognize God’s providence, the easier it becomes for us to have faith in times of trial, when we, like the villagers are called to be purified from our sins.

Sin is the ways that we separate our lives from God. Sin weakens our ability to trust in God’s providence, because ultimately all sin is placing something that is not God above God. Whereever we find ourselves enslaved by sin, we are choosing our sin over God, and that makes these times of trusting to God’s providence more difficult.

When we encounter God’s providence in our lives today, will our Sin prevent us from seeing that the Good News has dawned into our lives or will our Faith allow us to see the truth of God’s love?


Hold fast to the Faith!

Solemnity of Peter and Paul – Cycle B

Happy New Year!
All over the world today the Church is celebrating the closing of the Holy Year of St. Paul, a year in which we celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the Apostle to the Gentiles. In that sense, let me be the first to wish you a happy new year!

Today all over the Church we are celebrating the martyrdom of both St. Peter and St. Paul. Saint Peter was crucified this day in Rome, hanging on a cross upside down, at the same time, the emperor Nero had St. Paul beheaded on the Appian Way.

The Church is celebrating
A good friend of mine, Deacon Hugo is assisting in the mass to close out this Holy year in Damascus – the place where St. Paul was baptized. Another friend of mine, Deacon Phil is closing out the Holy Year in Rome, at the place of the martyrdom of both St’s Peter and Paul. In a certain sense we too can live vicariously through them, as they are members of our Church, the Church of Denver, which is celebrating with the universal Church these two great saints.

The word martyr is a greek word, meaning to witness. In the readings for today we see how James and John were martyred, and we hear from St. Paul as he prepares to offer the final witness of his life, that he pours out his life-blood to point to Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Why did they both choose martyrdom?
It is natural for us to reflect on this radical willingness to point to Christ. What was it that caused Peter and Paul to be martyred? Both passed up earlier opportunities in their lives. Why did they both choose martyrdom today?

St Peter explains
It is in the Gospel that St. Peter gives us the answer – his profession of faith – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” It is their absolute trust in God. Both St. Peter and St. Paul had learned through the course of their lives to rely on the absolute providence of God.

Faith is knowing that you are living in God’s will
It was the knowledge that they were doing the exact thing that God had laid out for them. They knew by faith that they were doing His will. They knew that by their actions of witness they were keeping the faith, they were remaining true to Christ who saves them. This is why St. Paul says in his letter to Timothy, “He will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom”.

When we are called to witness to the love of Christ today – will he hold fast to the faith as Peter and Paul did?


Rise, let us be on our way… / Levántate y caminemos

Holy Thursday / Jueves Santo

Ex 12:1-8, 11-14, Psalm Ps 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18 1 Cor 11:23-26 Gospel Jn 13:1-15

Reverend Fathers and my dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

Reverendo; Padres y mis hermanos y hermanas en Cristo.

When Jesus finished praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he watched Judas coming to betray him, he turned to his Apostles and said to them “Rise let us be on our way”. With these words, Christ invites us to journey with Him these next three days as he undergoes his passion and death.

Cuando Jesús acabó de rezar en el jardín de Getsemani, pues él miró a Judas venir a traicionarlo, él se dio vuelta a sus apóstoles y les dijo “Levántate y caminemos”. Con estas palabras, Cristo nos invita a que viajemos con él estos tres días próximos mientras que él experimenta su pasión y muerte.

I want to invite you to take these words into your heart tonight, and let them become your prayer as we journey together through our celebration the most sacred mysteries of our faith – the Triduim. That is Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Over these next three days our Lord Jesus Christ invites us to walk with Him, to die with Him and to rise with Him.

Quiero invitarles a que tomen estas palabras en su corazón esta noche, y las dejo hacer su rezo mientras que viajamos juntos con nuestra celebración los misterios más sagrados de nuestra Fe - el Tridum. Éso es jueves santo, Viernes Santo y Domingo Pascua. Durante estos tres días próximos nuestro señor Jesucristo nos invita a que caminemos con él, muramos con él y nos levantemos con él.

“Rise let us be on our way” – We are the pilgrim Church
The first lesson that this prayer offers to us is that we need to be ready to travel – because the Gospel message of Christ’s death and resurrection is not for armchair Christians, but for Christians who have a mission, a purpose.

The first reading today instructs the Jews to share in the Passover feast – the Pesach, with their loins girt and sandals on their feet – ready to travel. Tonight Christ invites us to enter into His Paschal Mystery with our loins girt, and sandals on our feet, ready to walk the way of the cross with Him.

“Levántate y caminemos” – Somos la Iglesia Peregrina.
La primera lección que esta oración nos ofrece es la necesidad de estar listos para viajar – porque el mensaje Evangélico de la muerte y resurrección de Cristo no es un sillón para los Cristianos. Esta noche Cristo nos invita a entrar en su Misterio Pascual con nuestras espaldas erguidas, y sandalias en los pies, listos para caminar el camino de la cruz con El.

En la fiesta Pascual Judía Dios ordena a los Judíos a comer la carne del cordero y marcar sus casas con su sangre para ser salvados del sufrimiento y la muerte.
Esta noche estamos invitados a comer del Cordero de Dios y marcar nuestros labios con Su sangre. En Español la oración que rezamos antes de la Comunión dice:

Señor, no soy digno de que entres en mi casa, pero una palabra tuya bastará para sanarme.

In the Jewish Passover feast God commands the Jews to eat the flesh of the lamb and to mark their houses with its blood so that they are saved from suffering and death. Tonight we are invited to eat the Lamb of God and to mark our lips with His blood. In Spanish the prayer we pray before communion makes this point clear when it says translated into English.

Lord, I am not dignified for you to enter my house, but a word from you will heal me.

Christ, the Lamb of God invites us to eat his flesh and drink his blood so that we are saved from sin and death. Happy are we who are called to this supper

Cristo, el Cordero de Dios nos invita a comer su carne y beber su sangre para ser salvados del pecado y la muerte. Felices los invitados a esta cena.

“Rise, let us be on our way” – How do we know the way?
Tonight’s psalm gives us a glimpse into the heart of a Christ. Listen anew to the words of the psalmist as he prays from his heart.

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

At the heart of our journey these next few days is the Greek word Eucharist. For Father Dan and Father Adalberto this word has a special meaning because their priesthood is centered on offering thanksgiving to God.

All of us can share in that heart of thanksgiving by taking a moment to offer God thanksgiving for the many gifts that he has given us. In this way we too can share in the priesthood that Christ gave to the Church.

“Levántate, caminemos nuestro camino” – Cómo sabemos el camino?
El salmo de esta noche nos da un vistazo al corazón de Cristo. Escuchemos de nuevo las palabras de su corazón.

Cómo regresaré al Señor
Por todo lo bueno que ha hecho por mí?
Tomaré el cáliz de salvación,
Y llamaré el nombre del Señor.

En el corazón de nuestro viaje estos próximos pocos días es la palabra Griega Eucarística. Para los Padres Daniel y Adalberto esta palabra tiene un significado especial porque su Sacerdocio está centrado en ofrecer la acción de gracias a Dios. Todos nosotros podemos compartir un momento al ofrecer las gracias a Dios por los muchos dones que El nos ha dado. En este sentido también nosotros podemos compartir en el Sacerdocio que Cristo dio a la Iglesia.

When our hearts are filled with thanks we are able to respond to God out of love. Listen to the psalmist as he continues to pray.

Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.

Precious … is the death of his faithful ones
Brothers and Sisters take a moment and look at those who sit around you. Look around. [[PAUSE]] Because you and I are here tonight celebrating this mystery, we are God’s faithful ones. Tonight we remember that Christ says to His Father – “Not my will Lord, but yours be done.” He shows us how to surrender and die. His surrender to God is the supreme act of selfless love so that we can be freed from the bonds of death.

What is God calling us to die to?
The death of God’s faithful ones is precious because it is in dying that we find eternal life – communion with God. God is inviting us to die to sin – our attachment to the way of death. When we sin we are on a detour away from God. This evening as we watch and pray with Him in the garden He asks us to leave our detours into sin, to die to sin; so that we can rise to what Christ is calling us to do. [[PAUSE]] Ask yourself the question – “What sin do I need to die to so that God can give me the gift of new life?”

Cuando nuestros corazones están llenos con gratitud podemos responder a Dios con amor. Escuchemos al salmista cuando continúa rezando.

A los ojos del Señor es preciosa
La muerte de sus fieles.
Soy tu servidor, el hijo de su tu sierva;
Has desatado mis huesos.

Es preciosa la muerte sus fieles
Los hermanos y las hermanas tardan un momento y miran a los que se sienten alrededor de usted. Mire alrededor. [[PAUSA]] porque usted y yo aquí estamos celebrando esta noche este misterio, somos los fieles de Dios. Recordamos esta noche que Cristo dice a su padre - hagan “no mi señor de la voluntad, sino el suyo.” Él nos demuestra cómo entregarse y morir. Su entrega a dios es el acto supremo del amor desinteresado para podernos liberar de los enlaces de la muerte.

A qué nos está invitando Dios a morir?
La muerte de los fieles de Dios es preciosa porque es en morir que encontramos la vida eterna – comunión con Dios. Dios nos está invitando a morir al pecado – nuestro apego a la forma de muerte. Cuando pecamos nos desviamos de Dios. Esta noche al velar y orar con El en el jardín El nos pregunta a dejar nuestros desvíos al pecado, para morir al pecado; para poder resucitar a lo que Cristo nos esta invitando a hacer. [[PAUSA]] Hazte esta pregunta – “A qué pecado nesecito morir para que Dios pueda ofrecerme el don de la vida nueva?

Rise, let us be on our way – God invites us to a priestly life – a life of thanksgiving.
I want you to know that tonight God is calling men in our Church to the priesthood. All of us can cooperate with that plan of God by striving to live a life of thanksgiving. This means that all of us are called to listen to the voice of God. Not just the single men in our parish but all of us! God is calling us to a life of sacrifice and thanksgiving. God is calling us to become aware of those he is inviting to serve Him as priests. We do this first and foremost by being faithful to the Gospel in our own lives. We do this by being open to the presence of the Holy Spirit, to listen to him calling forth men from our community and give them the strength to lay down their lives for the Church. We make this possible through our own personal witness to a life of sacrifice.

I know that in my own vocation to the Diaconate God used certain people to open my ears to hear His voice. [[PAUSE]]

Levántate, seamos uno en nuestro viaje –Dios nos invita a una vida Sacerdotal – una vida de Gratitud.

Quiero que sepan que esta noche Dios está invitando a hombres en nuestra Iglesia al Sacerdocio. Todos nosotros podemos cooperar con ese plan de Dios al luchar para vivir una vida de gratitud. Esto significa que todos estamos llamados a escuchar la voz de Dios. No sólo hombres solteros en nuestra parroquia sino todos nosotros! Dios nos llama a estar alertas a esos que está invitando para servirlo como sacerdotes. Hacemos esto sobre todo siendo fieles al evangelio en nuestras propias vidas. Hacemos esto estando abiertos a la presencia del Espíritu Santo, escuchar a él que llama adelante a hombres de nuestra comunidad y darles la fuerza para colocar sus vidas para la iglesia.

Hacemos esto directo posible nuestro propio testigo personal a una vida del sacrificio. Sé que en mi propia vocación al diaconado dios utilizó a cierta gente para abrirse los oídos para oír su voz. [[PAUSA]]

· Tonight we watch and pray with Jesus as he undergoes his temptation in the Garden of Gethsemene.
· Esta noche velamos y rezamos con Jesús al ser tentado en el Jardín de Getsemaní.
· Tonight Christ invites us to be faithful to the vocation that He has created us for.
· Esta noche Cristo nos invita a ser fieles a la vocación para la que nos ha creado.
· Tonight God invites us to become free from the bonds of sin to live as his Sons and Daughters.
· Esta noche Dios invita a ser mas libres de las ataduras del pecado para vivir como sus hijas e hijos.

Do we have the courage? / Tenemos la Valentí?

Rise let us be on our way! / Levantémonos y caminemos.


Refreshing the Soul

3rd Sunday of Lent – Cycle B

Ex 20:1-17, Psalm Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11, 1 Cor 1:22-25, Jn 2:13-25

[[This homily requires some prop’s and setup. Walk to the back of the Church and put on a Police Badge on my Stole under my dalmatic. Then begin with the following announcement.]]

My new job!
I have some exciting news! This week the Father Dan gave me a new assignment – To the Church Offender Patrol – or COP. My new job is to write tickets to those folks who show up late for mass. (Walk up behind a parishioner, and place your hand on their shoulder). Sir (or Ma’am) – I notice that you were 27 seconds late for the entrance procession. Would you please step out of the pew? (Don’t forget to genuflect)…


Well, fortunately for the Church, for you and for me, this is all just silly. There is no such thing as the Church Offender Patrol. This little stunt is here to help us to begin to think about the Law, especially God’s Law.

“I have seen the light!”
Some of us here today have been driving down the highway when all of a sudden we have “Seen the Light” – that is the flashing red and blue lights in our rear view mirror because we are driving a little too fast or have done something else wrong. When we “see the lights” does our heart sink down into our chests, as that feeling of being “busted” spreads over us?

Experience of Human Law colors our understanding of God’s Law
I mention this up because the way we look at the law affects how we look at God’s Law. If we have a dim view of human law, then what is our view of God’s Law, and of God? Is the Ten Commandments just God’s way of being able to watch over us and “bust” us when we are caught breaking them?

Do we think that God is like a Speed Trap?
If you take a moment to speak with people about their image of God the Father, often times you will hear them describe God as the man in the sky with a long flowing beard who spends eternity looking down on us waiting for us to mess up so that he can take pleasure in punishing us. I think that for some of us, God is like a like a policeman hiding out with a speed gun trying to catch us speeding. This kind of theology is just as silly as a Deacon with a ticket book.

How then, should we look at the Law of God?
Certainly the readings in today’s mass speak of God’s law and Christ’s anger. The passage that we heard today from the book of Exodus is referred to as the “giving of the Law”. It is interesting to note that in this passage of Scripture Moses uses more than half of the words to describe the first three commandments, and then the last section to discuss the last 7 commandments. The reason for this is that the first three commandments help us to get our relationship with God in the right perspective. If our relationship with God is in the right perspective then the other seven commandments flow from that relationship, and keeping the law becomes easier, more straightforward.

I bring up this idea so that we can take a moment and think about how we think about God, and our relationship with Him. At the heart of Jesus’ mission here on earth was to reveal the love of His Father to us. If we have been living out life with the idea that God is a traffic cop, then now is the time for us to repent – to change our minds and take a new path. The reason why God gave His law to Moses on Sinai, and the reason why he sent His Son to us was so that we could enter into a relationship of love with God.

What is our relationship with God like today?
In the Gospel today Jesus enters into the Temple in Jerusalem and cleans it out. He makes a whip out of cord and drives out the moneychangers and the animal sellers. Jesus drives out those who are changing the temple from a house of prayer into a den of thieves. Jesus cleanses the temple to make room for something that is missing in the hubbub Jesus is trying to make room for people to worship God.

As we reflect over our Lenten journey thus far, are we succeeding in making room for God in our lives, or are we allowing the moneychangers and the animal sellers to overwhelm us so that we are unable to worship. Are we allowing sin to enslave us so that we are unable to be free so that we might hear the Gospel?

Our Bodies are the temples that need cleansing
There is another temple that Christ desires to enter and to cleanse this Lent Brothers and Sisters. That is our souls. St. Paul says that when we are baptized our souls become “temples of the Holy Spirit” and God comes to dwell with us. Christ is driving out the moneychangers because they are a distraction to the real purpose of the temple. What distractions does Christ need to drive out of our temples this week?

What are the distractions that need to be driven out?
This really takes us back to the first three commandments of the Law of God. Do we have other Gods besides God? Television, Computers, Sports, Work, Alchohol, Drugs? Do we keep the Lord’s name holy, like we would the name of a cherished loved one, or do we use his name habitually to curse and to profane? Do we keep the Lord’s day holy? Do we rest on the Sabbath? Or do we allow our cultural work-aholicism to infect this day too?


This brings us to the other experience of the law that we might have. For some of those gathered here today have had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night to hear some disturbance going on in the street outside our houses. What do we do? Call 911. Three or four minutes later the law shows up to help us. The key experience that we have here is the recognition that we need help.

How do we dial 911 for God?
The Church has its own version of 911 for the soul. It is called the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For those of us who are thinking that it has been a long time since I received the sacrament of reconciliation that I forgotten how, I have the 30 second refresher on how to make a good confession.
· Sign of the Cross
· Forgive me Father for I have sined.
· It has been XX days / weeks / months / years / decades since my last confession.
· Here are the Sins that I have committed.
· Father will give you some advice, perhaps ask for some clarification and then ask you to make an act of contrition – which is a short prayer to God expressing your sorrow at sin and your desire and resolve to sin no more. It goes like this. “O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.” (If you have forgotten your act of contrition, they are written down in the confessional.)
· Then you will receive absolution – which is the Holy Spirit cleansing of your soul from all sin.
· Lastly Father will give you a penance – which is medicine for your soul, to help you to get stay strong in your battle against sin.

We have confession here are St. Anthony’s Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. So one way that we can allow this Gospel to take root in our hearts is to make a commitment to attend Confession one of these nights this week.

The Law of the Lord can transform our lives
The Psalm today speaks of our encounter with the Law of God in a positive way. Listen anew to what the psalmist says “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul; The decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.” And again he says “The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the command of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eye.”

I think that some times our experience with human law – which is imperfect and not entirely just that influences our response to God’s law. Jesus cleanses the temple in the Gospel today to make room for the God’s law to take root in our hearts and to grow because God’s law is a law that “is perfect, refreshing the soul”, a law that “is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple”. God’s law is “right, rejoicing the heart” and His law “is clear, enlightening the eye”.

The goal of our Lenten penance is to cleanse the temple of our souls from the corrupting influences that lead us away from God. We need to make room in our souls for God’s law, because it leads us to freedom from sin, freedom to truly love God, and to truly be loved by Him.



Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-18, Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17

I am excited!
One of the reasons why Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite days of the entire Church year is because I get to see so many of my Brothers and Sisters who I haven’t seen in a long time. So in a special way, to my brothers and sisters who I haven’t been here for a while - welcome back! We have missed your presence with us.

I am also excited about Lent because it is an opportunity for us to transform our lives so that God can use us to show his love to the world in a special way these next 40 (forty) days of Lent. Lent is a time for fasting, for prayer and for almsgiving. It is a time of penance where we are invited to change the way we live so that we become more aware of God’s action in our lives in this Easter.

The Day of Signs
Today is a day of signs. There are three signs that I want to reflect on with you today. The sign that we are to one another in this community which God has gathered here today; the sign of the cross that we receive on our foreheads today; and the sign that we will be to our family, friends and neighbors in the world after we leave here today.

The First Sign - God has gathered us!
The first sign that we have today is the sign that God has shown us in our lives. That sign is the fact that we are all gathered here today to begin our Lent together. Why has God done this?


God has gathered us here to give us a common mission, a common purpose. In the reading today the God speaks to us through the words of the Prophet Joel when he says “return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness”. The question is – how can we do this?


The Second Sign - the cross of ash
The answer to the question of how can we return to God with our whole heart is found in the second sign – the sign of a cross of ashes that will be written on our foreheads. This is a sign for us to repent, to turn around and change our ways, to open our hearts to God in a new way.

We conform our lives to the cross when we choose to listen to him and follow the 10 (ten) Commandments, do good and avoid evil. To help us do this, I would like to offer a brief refresher of the way of God, the way that leads to life and not the way that leads to death.

The first three commandments have to do with our relationship with God, and our worship of God.
  • I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
  • You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  • Remember to keep holy the LORD'S Day.
What are the things that we place before God? Do we use His name with reverence, do we treasure His name in our hearts as we would a loved one, or do we use His name as a curse? Do we come and visit him in the Mass on Sunday, or only when it suits us?

The fourth commandment is related, because parents are the first teachers of Gods love to their children.
  • Honor your father and your mother.
If we are parents, are we being faithful to the special mission that God gave us to teach His love to our children? Are we honorable Mothers and Fathers? If we are children, are we respectful, and obedient of our parents.

The last six commandments deal with how we treat those whom we live with.
  • You shall not kill.
  • You shall not commit adultery.
  • You shall not steal.
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  • You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
  • You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
Do we kill – with our words, with our anger, with our gossip? Do we sin against marriage with pornography, or with an affair? Do we steal from our neighbors, our employers? Do we lie? Are we a people of truth or falsehood? Are we envious of the way that God has blessed our neighbor’s family or possessions?


The cross that we are signed with today helps us to battle these sins. When we are tempted to sin, when we know that what we are about to do breaks one of these commandments and we are tempted to do it anyway knowing that it wounds our relationship with God, remember this cross of ash that we are signed with today. If you wear a cross, then touch it when you are tempted and ask God for strength you to overcome temptation, resist sin and choose the way of life rather then to sin and choose the way of death!


The Third Sign - Our witness in the world
The third sign is the sign that we are to the world. When we leave here tonight, we will meet people on the streets, at the store, at work or at home. The sign that God wants us to be to them is our living out the change that he is inviting us to make in our lives this Lent. It is our faithfulness to this Lenten discipline that Christ will use to show His love to the world. So “return to God with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness”.


Secret Agent Saints

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B

Lv 13:1-2, 44-46 Psalm Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11, 1 Cor 10:31-11:1, Mk 1:40-45

The Saint
One of the television shows that I watched as a kid was the show “The Saint”. The main character of this show was a cross between Robin Hood and James Bond. Every episode he would disguise himself and use the name of some Catholic Saint as an alias. Thus disguised he would rob from the rich and give to the poor using the coolest secret agent gadgets available.

Mark – The Gospel for Secret Agents and Spies
I mention the Saint because I jokingly refer to the Gospel of Mark as the Gospel of Secret Agents and Spies. I do this for two reasons; One, Mark’s Gospel is the Gospel of Action; Mark never wastes words describing the scene, Jesus is always busy doing things. The other reason why Mark’s Gospel is the Gospel of Spies and Secret agents is that He is always trying to keep his identity as the Messiah as a secret. In today’s Gospel Jesus orders the Leper not to tell anyone who cured him. The reason why Jesus is trying to keep his identity secret is that he wants people to encounter him as he really is, and not through their expectations. Jesus reveals the truth of his secret identity when he dies on the Cross to show us the fullness of God’s love.

Jesus’ Secret Mission
Not only does Jesus have a secret identity in the Gospel today, but he also has a secret mission. The secret mission of Jesus is to show God’s love to people, and to lead them to give thanks for God’s presence in their lives. We see this in the Gospel today, Jesus heals the Leper and sends him to offer sacrifice in the temple for his healing. This act of offering sacrifice is a way of offering praise and thanksgiving to the Father. The secret mission of Jesus is to give us grace and to invite us to return to God with thanksgiving in our hearts.

We too are Secret Agents for Christ
There is a saying, “you’re preaching to the choir”. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but today, “I am preaching to the spies”. I say this because all of us Christians here are called to be “Like Christ” – If Christ had a secret mission, then so do we. In the second reading today St. Paul helps us to carry out our mission in three concrete ways. We can think of these as three principles of living our lives as “Secret Agents of Christ”. These are

  • Do Everything for the Glory of God
  • Avoid giving offense, Try to please everyone in everyway.
  • Seeking the Benefit of the many – that they may be saved.

Ad Majorem Dei Glroiam
St Ignatius of Loyola’s is a real-life example of the fictional Saint. The motto was was “ad majorem Dei gloriam“ – In English, “For the Greater Glory of God”. Whenever Ignatius thought about some new undertaking, or some new venture, he always evaluated it in the light of this saying. If the goal, the purpose of the idea he had would result in the greater glory of God, then he would do it, if not, then he would discard it.

It is healthy for us too to develop a motto or slogan that we use to guide our lives. This is helpful because God has created each one of us for a specific mission, purpose in this life. Reflecting on that, and having a way to express it, often gives us a way to focus our life here on earth and order it to be productive and fruitful. If there is just one thing to remember from this homily today – it is that homework assignment – pray about your personal mission statement.

Try to please everyone in everyway.
Once we have a motto, then we understand how to frame our entire life. This was the case for the French-Canadian Blessed Andre Bessette. He had it in his heart to join the Holy Cross brothers in Montreal, but they refused because he was illiterate and ill. Perseverance and providence paid off and in 1870 he entered the order, and was given the job of door keeper, laundry worker and messenger. He spent the next 67 years of his life trying to follow the exhortation of St. Paul to “Please everyone in everyway”. This does not mean that Blessed Andre was a doormat for everyone coming to the brothers, on the contrary, he understood that the best way to please everyone in everyway was for him to allow them to encounter Christ in his actions whenever they came to the brothers in need. When people came to Blessed Andre’s door, he listen to them, he prayed with them and God used him to heal them. So many people were miraculously cured through his prayers that at the time of his death in 1937 he was receiving 80,000 letters a year from people asking for his prayers or needing advice. God used Andre’s pure devotion of heart to reach his people in the simple way he answered the door and took care of those who came before him.

“not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved”
As a teenager, St. Therese of Liseux wanted to be a missionary, to travel to wild lands and win souls for Christ. She made her first convert when she was only fifteen years old. There was a notorious murderer named Henri Pranzini on death row in France at the time. Therese prayed intensely to God that he would convert before his death. When she read the paper the day after his execution at the Guillotine, she saw that this man had asked to kiss the crucifix three times before being beheaded. This convicted Therese that the best way she could help others was through her fervent prayer so when she grew up she entered the Carmel at Lisuex and spent the rest of her life as a cloistered nun praying for the conversion of souls. This is what she wrote later in her life about how she was living out her vocation;

"I feel in me the vocation of the Priest. I have the vocation of the Apostle. Martyrdom was the dream of my youth and this dream has grown with me. Considering the mystical body of the Church, I desired to see myself in them all. Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with love. I understood that Love comprised all vocations, that Love was everything, that it embraced all times and places...in a word, that it was eternal! Then in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my Love...my vocation, at last I have found it...My vocation is Love!


Our homily today began with Simon Templar, “The Saint” who robbed the rich and give to the poor while using the name of some obscure Catholic Saint as his identity. In some way we are imitating him by taking the rich grace that God gives us and bringing it to the poor in our lives. We do this by listening, caring for and loving those we live and work with. When we look at the saints, Ignatius, Andres and Therese we see the many different ways that they lived out their lives responding to the love of God. Our secret mission is the same, and it is perhaps best summed up by St. Paul in the second reading today when he says; “Be imitators of Me, as I am of Christ”.

That – my Brothers and Sisters is our mission this week. The question is, are we brave enough to carry it out?


For whom the bell tolls…

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B

Dt 18:15-20 Psalm Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9 1 Cor 7:32-35 Mk 1:21-28

Eastern Europe
A Cardinal who grew up in Eastern Europe once shared with a group of young people why church bells were so important to him. “They remind me of my Baptism, of my faith and my mission in life” he said. In his country the Church bells were rung every morning at sunrise to remind the people to begin their day with a prayer of thanksgiving to God. The job of ringing the bells belonged to the altar boys who had to get up before dawn, and walk down to the Church in the dark in order to ring the bells at sunrise.

When the communists took over Eastern Europe they wanted to destroy the Church, so they imposed a curfew until dawn to try to prevent the ringing of the church bells. This cardinal, and his boyhood friend were committed to serving God, and so they would get up early in the morning and sneak over to the Church to ring the bells. One morning when it was his friend’s turn to ring the bells, he was shot for violating the curfew. This tragedy devastated the village, but every day, the bells of the Church still spoke out…

Ringing Bells make a Joyful Noise
At St. Anthony’s we begin every Mass with the ringing of the Church bells. Our bells have always made a joyful noise to the Lord because they call us to open our hearts to God so that we can receive His love. In a certain way our bells are the voice of our Church, because when we hear them, we are reminded of God, our faith and our Baptism.

It takes two to ring the bells
There are two people involved in the ringing of the bells, the one pulling the rope, and the ones listening to the sound. All of us who are baptized have this dual vocation in our lives; we have a responsibility to listen to the sound of the bells (to listen to Christ) and to be a bell for Christ by living our witness to the Gospel before our friends and family.

Listening to Christ
The first reading today contains a stern warning to those of us with this dual responsibility. In it, God warns Moses and all of the prophets (That is us sisters and brothers) that we need to hear the truth – that is the whole truth, and not just the parts of the Truth that we are comfortable with. It is not enough for me to simply hear the Churches teachings on abortion and not hear her teachings on immigration or war, or to hear the Churches teaching on the liturgy and not hear her teachings on the care for the poor or the sick. If we want to be faithful listeners, then we need to hear the whole truth.

How do we listen to Christ?
The response for the responsorial psalm today says, “If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts”. This means that we have an obligation to listen to Christ each day. We listen to Christ through attentive prayer. God has created each one of us with a specific mission in mind, a specific vocation, a calling. If we never listen to Christ, then we can only become aware of our vocation when God sneaks up behind us and whacks us over the head with the spiritual 2x4 (two by four).

Christian Life is Baptism flowing out into the world
The word Vocation means “one who is called”. There are two different connotations of the word vocation that I would like to address today; our baptismal vocation, and the vocations of service that we might be called to in Marriage or Holy orders.

Christian Life is our Baptismal Vocation flowing out into the world.
Fix in your minds the idea that at the moment of your Baptism God placed into your soul a rich spring, welling up with the purest, sweetest, cleanest water. Our Baptismal vocation is not a split instant in our life, but rather the water from this spring welling up within us and flowing out into the world over the course of our entire life. The grace that we received at Baptism remains effective for all eternity – and it desires to permeate into all of our relationships and interactions, washing them clean through the grace of God. Sadly, many Catholics receive this spring at Baptism and then seldom turn again to listen to the voice of God resonating in their souls. Some of us gathered here today may share this experience. For all of us, the readings today call us to listen anew to the bells of the Church!

Have a Conversation with God
I want to encourage all of us gathered here today to make time in our lives to listen to God. Specifically, we can take 10 minutes in the morning as we begin our days to reflect quietly with God about the people that God is calling us to be the bell of the Church for today. This is what God and Moses were doing in the first reading. They were reflecting together over the people that God had entrusted to Moses. Listening to God in prayer this way helps us to become aware of the ways that the grace that God has given us at baptism is flowing through our lives and into the world. It is also a way to become aware of when God is calling us into a more specific vocation – a vocation of service.

All are called to listen and dialog today
In the Church there are two sacramental vocations of service, marriage and holy orders. As a married Deacon, I need to be attentive to both of these calls, but all of us have a need to listen to God about both of the sacraments because all of us experience these sacraments in our lives. Those of us who are single, or young are called to listen and dialog with God about where He is calling us to serve and how he is calling us to serve. If we are ordained, or married, then we too have an obligation to dialog with God about how he is calling us to live out our sacraments today.

This means that like Christ, the prophet that Moses and God spoke about in the first reading, we have an obligation to listen to the whole truth of God in our sacramental life and not to shy away from the teachings of the Church that we find difficult or inconvenient. In this sense all of us need to hear the bells, and all of us need to be bell ringers…

Don’t be anxious about the things of the World.
St. Paul warns us today not to be anxious about the things of the world, but rather to trust in God. The reason why St. Paul warns us about this is because anxiety strangles our ability to listen to God and prevents us from trusting God.

Married People – Trust in the Lord
When it comes to marriage, do we choose to listen to Christ about contraception, or be anxious about the burden of children and so we contracept? Do we place other things above our vocation to serve one another out of love? Where in our marriage do we need to invite in the healing love of God. How can we allow him to enter into the wounds of our love and redeem them, heal them? In what ways are our marriages thirsty for the flowing, cleansing, refreshing, life-giving waters of baptism?


Bishops, Priests and Deacons – Trust in the Lord
For those of us in Holy Orders, are we faithful to the vows we made at our ordinations? Are we humble to His Will readily following the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our ministry? Does our life of prayer continue to grow and deepen? Are we holding fast to the faith of the Church – the whole faith? Are we obedient to our Bishop, listening to him as good sons ought to? Do we continue to conform our lives to the example of Christ?


Pray for Vocations – Pray for our married couples
All of us experience the sacrament of marriage – either as husbands and wives or as sons and daughters, and so all of us are affected by the fidelity of those married couples in our community who are called by God to live out this sacrament. Let us pray then sisters and brothers for the married couples of our parish that God may give them the grace to live out their sacrament faithfully, and fruitfully.

Pray for Vocations – pray for our Bishop, Priests and Deacons
Likewise all of us here experience the sacrament of Holy Orders. Without it we could not gather week after week to receive the Eucharist and to celebrate the Mass. Let us take some time this week to pray in a special way for those in Holy Orders and those living the religious life. That they might be faithful to their vows taken at ordination and so reflect the love of God to the World.

Listen and Trust in God and you will discover your vocation
All of us here are called to a vocation in life. The way that we begin to discover this vocation is to listen to God and to trust in God.

To those of us here today that have not yet received either of these two sacraments I want to offer you this reassurance. The decision to enter the seminary to study for the priesthood or diaconate is a serious decision, however, it is not the final decision to be a priest or deacon but rather the next level of listening and trusting in God to see if He is calling you to Holy Orders. In the same way becoming engaged is a serious decision but it does not mean that you are married, but rather that you are going to spend some time considering marriage seriously. Engagement and entering the seminary means that we are willing to listen to God and to trust that He will make his will known to us.

To those of us here today who are living in Holy Orders or Marriage – we too have the same challenge: to listen to God in the context of our vocation and to trust that God will provide for the needs of our ministry. If we do this we will become better wives, better husbands, better priests and better deacons.

Brothers and Sisters when we listen to God we hear the peal of the bells. When we trust in God, we are the ones who are ringing the bells. Go and make joyful noise to the Lord this week!



Marian Devotion Hour with the Knights of Columbus

1 John 4:11-16, John 15:7-17

Oh Aahhu Aaahu Aaaaahu”!
When I was a kid we used to watch Tarzan movies. Everytime someone got into trouble, Tarzan would grab a vine, start swinging through the trees and yell “Oh Aahhu Aaahu Aaaaahu”! Then he would arrive in the nick of time and save the person in crisis or to right whatever wrong was being committed.

By now, I am sure you are now wondering, what is the connection between those old black and white Tarzan movies and our Blessed Mother.

Tarzan’s Vine – the means of heroic work
The connection is the vine. Without the vine Tarzan would not have gotten anywhere fast, and he would not have been able to go about the heroic work that made for great Saturday morning movies. The Gospel for our devotion today is taken from Jesus’ discourse at the last supper, where he says, I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me, I will remain in you. Brothers, like Tarzan we to are called to heroic work, like our Blessed Mother, we too need to keep our hand ready to grasp onto the vine, so that God is able to work through us to show His love to the world, to speak out against what is wrong, and to do what is right.

Mary – the example of remaining in the vine
The readings today teach us how to stay connected to the Vine. Mary is the example “par excellence” of being connected to her Son Jesus. She teaches us with her loving acceptance of the words of the Archangel Gabriel, when she said to him – “Let it be done to me according to your word.” It is in her example of acceptance to the will and providence of the Father that we learn how to “remain in his love”. When Mary said yes to God, the Word began to take on His flesh within her womb, and so every day, she remained in His love, connected to the vine of salvation.

How do we remain in the love of God – Do His work!
God is glorified when we choose to spend time each day remaining in His love. We do this when we pray. When we provide for the sick, the poor, the disabled. When we choose to reject the love of God in our actions of Sin then we fall into darkness and separation from him. The Gospel today invites us to be whole and holy; to be men of integrity where who we are on the inside is reflected by who we are on the outside. That our connection to the vine that is God’s grace shines into the depths of our heart, illuminating the areas of our hearts that are in need of repentance, and motivating us to love as Christ loved – without counting the cost.

Grab a hold of the vine – take up the Rosary
Praying the Rosary is one way for us to stay rooted in the vine. It is through our meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary that we reflect on the events of Christ’s life through the eyes of His mother Mary. My dear brothers, let us grasp firmly to this vine as we live out our Christian life in the world, let us allow these meditations to penetrate to the depths of our hearts, so that all of our actions reflect clearly that we are men who abide in the Love of God.


Empty Chairs…

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B

1 Sam 3:3b-10,19 Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10, 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20, Jn 1:35-42


I know that you are wondering why I am sitting here at this card table for our homily. I wanted to use the idea of the kitchen table to help us reflect on some rather difficult issues that affect our Church and our families today.

The Kitchen Table
One of the places that our families regularly meet is around the kitchen table. Most days, after a long day at work, or school, or keeping up the house we gather here to share a meal, to give thanks to God and to talk about our day. Sometimes the kids dread the ritual questions such as – “What did you at school today?” It’s ok though, because most kids have equally ritual responses such as “Nothing”, or “Not Much”.

The place where families share life
At other times we share times of great joy, or love, or sadness. We might have a heated discussion, or laugh about a funny story, or just be happy hearing about a new friendship. Sometimes, we gather here in grief, to mourn the loss of loved ones, or some other family tragedy. It is around our kitchen tables that we share the joys and the struggles of life. Here at our table we share life with one another.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a good friend of mine who will always have an empty chair at her kitchen table, a chair that does not have a child to fill it.

When Bernadette was 33 (thirty three) years old she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. The doctors said that she would be lucky to live. This news hit Bernadette like a ton of bricks because 3 (three) days earlier she had discovered that she was pregnant with her second child. One of her doctors said that she would probably die, and if she died then her baby would die as well. The doctor said “You’re going to have to fight this with all that you’ve got – without the baby on board”. Bernadette was confronted with the choice – die from cancer, or get an abortion and fight for all its worth – and you might live.

Empty Chairs…
Bernadette’s story is not an isolated story. The truth is that in our community one in three women have had an abortion. This means, that one in three women live with a kitchen table that has at least one empty chair at it – the chair for their missing children.


Women confronted with Abortion
Bernadette’s story is not uncommon in other ways. Most of the women who end up having abortions make those decisions in a time of crisis in their lives. Often women struggle with the issue of abortion not in clinical, academic debate, but in the nitty-gritty reality that we often find at our kitchen tables. Many times we face this decision in a state of psychological distress, and quite often we don’t end up making the best of choices. Many times we suffer the consequences of this crisis for years and years to come.

Men shirking responsibility
Men too share in this culpability to abortion – typically we panic and frantically look for a way to avoid our responsibility. There are probably men here today who have been responsible for paying for, or encouraging their wives or girlfriends into getting an abortion. We too have empty chairs at our kitchen tables. We too are in need of healing, forgiveness. The church teaches that those who have procured an abortion are in a state of mortal sin, and in need of receiving Christ’s forgiveness.

The quick-fix is a lie
Here is where our society fails us. Our culture teaches that happiness is a quick fix. We thrive on instant gratification, because it’s all about me. We like things to end up nice, neat and tidy, no muss, no fuss. It doesn’t often end this way at our family table, because it is here, when we are home, alone that we have to face the reality of the empty chair at our table. Mothers often suffer from guilt, anger, sadness, depression. These feelings come and go over time – but the wound remains, unhealed and bleeding deep inside of us.


Behold the Lamb of God!
John the Baptist begins today’s gospel with the expression – “Behold the Lamb of God!” With these words he points out to us the one person who we can meet that is able to bring forgiveness, healing and peace into our lives. With this expression – “The Lamb of God” St. John recalls to us that Christ is the paschal lamb, the sacrificial lamb who has taken on flesh like us, has joined us to offer himself in sacrifice, to assume the responsibility that we have shirked, to take away our sins, to wash us clean in the blood the cross.

Rabbi – where are you staying?
How can I ever approach Christ with sin on my soul? This is where we see the good news of the Gospel today. Andrew comes up to Jesus and asks an important question – “Rabbi – where are you staying?” Jesus answers him saying “Come and you will see”. Andrew stayed with Jesus for the rest of that day, and it convicted him in his heart that Jesus truly is the Lamb of God, that He is the one who was sent to take away the sins of the world. The beauty of responding to Christ’s invitation to follow him is that through our relationship with Him he purifies our lives, he washes away our sins allowing us to be transformed from a life of darkness in sin into the joy and peace of Christ.


Wounds bleed, only Christ heals
The wounds of abortion hurt us intensely. Personally, the wounds that we carry from abortion remain with us the rest of our lives. Often we hide them away behind grief, denial, shame where they fester and weep slowly in our souls for years. Today, the Gospel invites us to change that – to come to the “Lamb of God” and invite him into our wounds. Modern psychology gives us many wonderful tools for managing and understanding our pain and our suffering, but only Christ has the power to wash away our sins, to cleanse and heal our wounds with His loving grace. I invite all of those present who suffer from these wounds to look into Project Rachel – a ministry of the Church where those who suffer from the effects of abortion can find support, healing and peace in their lives.


Pray and write a letter
The Gospel calls all of us to action. For those who are not directly involved in abortion, we still suffer the consequences of a society without children. What can we do? Two things; Pray and write a letter.

Prayer and Fasting
This Thursday is the 36th (thirty-sixth) anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe vs Wade that legalized abortion on demand in our country. This is a day of penance for our Church. This means that we are all to pray in a special way, and go out of our way to perform works of charity and to deny ourselves through fasting and abstinence.

Oppose FOCA
The second is to take some action to protect the children of our country who are in the womb. This week, congress is considering the Freedom of Choice Act – a law that will permit abortion in all 9 (nine) months of a woman’s pregnancy. I want to encourage all of you to sit down and write your senators and representatives encouraging them to oppose this horrible piece of legislation.

Learn the providence of God
Bernadette was faced with a crisis. She and her husband turned to Christ and prayed. After much struggle and discernment she chose to forego an abortion, and to have surgery to remove the cancer. After the surgery she had to wait until her child had grown large enough to survive the chemo-therapy, which she began starting in her second trimester. Bernadette delivered a healthy 8 (eight) pound baby girl, and survived her cancer at the same time. She did this by choosing to trust that God’s plan was the best for her. This is not the easy choice for her to make – but it was the best choice – because through it she learned to trust in the providence of God.


Come and you will see
Like Bernadette, we too are invited this week to learn to trust in the providence of God so that we can learn that He truly has the best plan for us. God’s plan isn’t always the easiest plan, but it is always the best plan. God is calling us as He called Samuel in the first reading. He is calling us to gather around his kitchen table in heaven. This week we are invited to begin to share our life with God anew.

Do we have the courage to invite Christ into our lives?
Do we have the faith to listen to Him?
Come and you will see!