Feast of St. Pope John Paul II

October 22, 2020 – Feast of Saint Pope John Paul II

Saint John Paul II’s Story

“Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass where he was installed as pope in 1978.

Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father, and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology.

Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon Fr. Wojtyla earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin.

Communist officials allowed Wojtyla to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong!

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Are You Rolling the Dice?

October 21, 2020

“Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.” (Luke 12:39-48)

These are challenging words Jesus presented to His disciples in today’s Gospel. That “hour” He describes is Judgment Day, when our time on this earth ends.

When we meet Jesus face to face at the end of our days, who will He see?

Will He see someone who was only concerned about his own needs? Someone who lived carelessly and recklessly, always thinking, “I will make amends tomorrow”? Someone who rolled the dice, always assuming he had plenty of time left to get his life back on the right path?

Or will He meet someone who understood that how he lived his life on this earth mattered? Someone who understood God’s plan for him, and lived his life in service to Him and others? Someone who was prepared for this day, and meets Jesus confidently and joyfully?

Near the end of today’s Gospel, Jesus advised His disciples to “be vigilant at all times.”

He Came to Preach Peace

October 20, 2020

He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near… (Ephesians 2:12-22)

I see so many people, especially young people, trying to manage the stress they have allowed to be a part of their lives. You can see in their attitude and demeanor, and often in their physical appearance, that they are losing their battle against stress. Because of this, people who seem to be at peace really stand out in the crowd.

People who are at peace generally don’t stress over things that they can’t control. They tend to be reflective. Most importantly, they make time for prayer and put their trust, and their lives, in the hands of God.

That is what Jesus desires for us. He preached peace. How many times did He greet His disciples with, “Peace be with you?”

May the peace of Jesus Christ be with you today.

Homily: Dealing with “It’s not fair!”

October 19, 2020

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” (Luke 12:13-21)

Homily originally delivered in July of 2016 at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis:

I want to share a fascinating thing I have discovered about the homeless population: When offered food, blankets, or other basic necessities, they do not take more than they need. It would certainly be justified if they did. Why not grab a second sandwich? Who knows when they will get another chance to eat?

I noticed this phenomenon in my very first encounter with homeless people, on a trip to San Diego years ago.

Carol and I walked from our hotel through downtown San Diego one morning to attend Mass at a nearby church. There were homeless people everywhere – sleeping on every park bench, in the doorway of every place of business, leaning up against every trash can or dumpster, in the alleys, in the little park in the center of downtown – everywhere. We saw literally hundreds of homeless on our 10-block walk to the church. This was a completely new experience for us.

After Mass, we stayed in church for a short time, praying about what our response should be. We felt like we had to do something. On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped at a bakery. We gathered what money we had and bought as much as we could from the bakery display case.

We assumed it wouldn’t last long – assumed the first few homeless people we encountered would grab whatever they could. I guess we were picturing a piranha feeding frenzy of some sort.

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We are IN this world, but do not need to be OF this world

October 18, 2020 – Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:15-21)

The Pharisees and Herodians had heard Jesus say, “You can’t serve two masters.” They attempted to trip Him up by asking whether or not they should pay taxes to Caesar – can one serve both God and the Roman Emperor? By saying, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” Jesus made the distinction between being in this world and being of this world.

We are in this world. Because we are in this world, as good citizens we must abide by its laws, assuming they are not immoral or directly in conflict with God’s law. Speed limits, taxes, neighborhood association bylaws, school dress codes, and airport security searches are all expectations society may put on its citizens. We abide by these rules as they are reasonable and or may help maintain order.

Unfortunately, society also allows for, accepts, and in many cases seems to endorse, many other behaviors for those wishing to be of this world: materialism, abortion, disregard for the dignity of human life, sexual immorality, and much more.

Many people choose to be both in this world and of this world. Unfortunately for those who do, God’s law becomes more and more distant, often falling out of sight altogether.

Jesus urges us to recognize the difference between being in this world and being of this world. Be in this world (repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar) when it comes to following its laws, but do not get caught up in the immoral behaviors it promotes. Instead, do those things that will lead you to the Kingdom of God (repay to God what belongs to God).

No One is Beyond the Notice of God

October 16, 2020

Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:1-7)

These are reassuring words from Jesus to His disciples. They should reassure us as well.

At times, we may feel that God has forgotten about us. This feeling comes from our own insecurity, our own sense of unworthiness. Why would God “waste” His time on me? Surely He has better things to do then worry about me.

The message from Jesus is the same message that we have shared with our students the last few years: “You are loved. You have value. You are not alone.”

No one is beyond the notice of God. We are worth His time and attention.

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus

October 15, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Saint Teresa is among the most important figures of all time for Catholic spirituality. Her works – especially the four best known (The Life, The Way of Perfection, The Mansions and The Foundations) – together with her more historical works, contain a doctrine which encompasses the whole of the spiritual life, from the first steps right up to intimacy with God at the centre of the Interior Castle.

Her Letters show her occupied with a great variety of everyday problems. Her doctrine on the unity of the soul with God (a doctrine which was intimately lived by her) follows the Carmelite tradition which had preceded her and to which she herself contributed in such a notable way, enriching it as well as passing the tradition on, not only to her spiritual sons and daughters, but also to the whole Church which she served so unsparingly.

When she was dying, her one joy was to be able to affirm that “I die a daughter of the Church.”

Source: http://ocarm.org/en/content/liturgy/st-teresa-jesus-virgin-and-doctor-church-feast

Choose Wisely

October 14, 2020

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:18-25)

There are certain passages in Scripture that, in very simple terms, define what God envisioned when He created us. And we may have gotten there, too…if He hadn’t given us free will.

God offers us the fruits of the Spirit as His gift to us.

Imagine a world in which we all accepted that gift – a world of love, peace, and generosity. The fruits of the Spirit are ours for taking. We can choose to love, and to be joyful and peaceful. We can choose to be patient, kind, and generous. We can choose to be faithful and gentle. And yes, even self-control is a choice. These are all choices that glorify God and serve others.

Unfortunately, as broken human beings, we often exercise our free will and choose to go in another direction. We make choices that undermine the fruits of the Spirit and serve only ourselves.

Turning our lives around is also a choice.

What choices will you make today?

Staying Focused

October 13, 2020

After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. (Luke 11:37-41)

In today’s reading from Luke, the actions of Jesus were called into question. The Jews were keeping a close eye on Jesus and His followers. This ragtag group did not seem concerned about abiding by the Jewish laws and traditions. Why did they choose to ignore these laws?

Jesus did not dismiss Jewish law, but emphasized through His actions that He and His disciples were staying focused on what was most important.

We are a Church of many customs, traditions, and rites, all of which are important and enhance our faith. Jesus would tell us that if we get so caught up in these “rules” that we lose sight of loving God with all of our heart and loving our neighbor as ourselves, then our priorities are misplaced.

The laws of the Church are put in place to help us focus on the things that are most important, not cause us to lose sight of them.