Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Homily First Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church 30 June 2006

Yesterday, we heard of the grace and strength
which come from unity with the Church…
and how authentic unity with the Church
means faith in the whole teaching of Christ, and His One, Apostolic Church.

Today, we recall the words of Saint Augustine:
“Orthodoxy – that is ‘right belief’ – “without charity is not Christianity.”
“Orthodoxy without charity is not Christianity.”
For union with Christ is also a bond of love.

We speak of love so casually today:
I love golf…I love my car…I love apple pie…
But, is that love?

For an understanding of the true meaning of love,
we need to look no further than the Cross…
for no greater love is there than this:
that a man lay down his life for his friends.

The First Martyrs of the Church of Rome…whom we celebrate today…
knew this all too well.
For these men…and women…and children…people of all walks for life…
yet united under the one Faith and one Baptism of Jesus Christ…
suffered greatly for the faith they held dear.

Their ultimate sacrifice is the ultimate witness to the truth of our Faith.
Jesus Christ was so loved by these holy martyrs…
His Church so dear to them…the Faith so true for them…
that they were even willing to give their lives for Him.

So, when the doctrine of the Church makes no logical sense to the modern mind…
approach it with the love…the faith…the trust…of a martyr.

The example of the martyrs also teaches us how we are to live our faith.
Love, for the disciples of Christ…means being will to give our very life.
So, we must ask…
in our relationship with Christ… are we willing to die for love of Him?

Of course, persecution does not face us in Poland, Ohio, as it did the early Church.
There are no Emperors with hungry lions waiting for us here.
Still, it is no secret that the Church in our time is not immune from attacks…
they simply take different forms:
not being able to pray in public schools
being mocked in school or at work because of what you believe
family disputes over religious beliefs
the many demands modern life places on us…
which keep us from practicing the faith completely.
No less in our time than in any other…
does the faith demand courage in the face of persecution.

And this love unto death for Christ shall not go unrewarded…
for, as the Gospel today tells us…
“the one who perseveres to the end will be saved!”

The love of Jesus Christ whom we meet in this Eucharist is unfathomable…
it makes no exceptions…it knows no end.

So must our love be for Him and for His Church…
without exception…even unto death.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Homily Ss. Peter and Paul 29 June 2006

Every year, on the Feast of Saint Agnes, January 21st…
two young lambs are chosen from the fold of the Trappist monastery in Rome…
placed in baskets decorated with flowers…
and carried in procession at Mass.

They are shown to the Pope, and placed in the care of Benedictine Nuns…
until Holy Thursday, when they are sheared.

From the wool of these young lambs
is made a special ecclesiastical vestment known as the pallium.

The pallium is a long band of white wool
that fits over the head and hangs down both in front and back…
and has six crosses embroidered on it.

It is worn ceremonially by the Pope and metropolitan archbishops…
as a symbol of their unity as brother bishops
and authority as successors of the Apostles.

On June 28th, the pallia woven from the lambs’ wool
are placed on the altar in the crypt of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

And today, the 29th of June, on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul…
each new archbishop personally receives his pallium from the Holy Father.

The pallium is rich in symbolism…

Those who wear this garment of wool around their necks
are the shepherds of the Church to whom Christ speaks:
“Feed my sheep.”

It is a powerful symbol of the strength which the Church possesses
as the Body of Christ…
founded on the Apostle Peter…
and united under the bishops, successors of the Apostles.

In Saint Peter, the first Pope…and Christ’s chosen vicar on earth…
and in Saint Paul, charged by Jesus Himself with teaching the Gospel…
we have a visible sign of the unity of the Church…
and of communion in faith and charity.

Unity is a hallmark of our faith and our Church.
As we profess in the Creed, the Church is One…the Church is Apostolic.

All who are baptized…and partake of the Body and Blood of Jesus…
are one body in Christ.

Jesus entrusted to Peter, to his brothers, and to their successors,
the mission of celebrating the sacraments,
teaching the truth of the Gospel,
and shepherding the people of God.
The Pope and the bishops form a college…
and together carry out that mission in our own day.

Thus, the Tradition of what Christ taught…and the Apostles handed down…
is safeguarded, guaranteed, and proclaimed
by those who remain united to Christ
and to the Church of the Apostles.

To remain united with the body of Christ is demanding for us…

It means professing faith in all the teachings He and His Church set forth…
even the difficult and unpopular ones…
such as the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life,
and the marriage covenant.

It means remaining obedient to the bishops…
obeying all that the Church asks of us in love.

It means receiving the sacraments worthily.

It means loving and trusting in a radical way, after the example of Christ.

Truly united to Christ in this way…
we find a source of lasting strength for our lives.

The chains which bind us fall from our hands…
as Christ rescues us from the power of evil.

God’s grace is bestowed on us through the ministry of the priests…
to whom is entrusted the power of binding and freeing
those caught in sin.

To all those who do as Saint Paul did…
who keep the faith..
who pour out their lives as a libation in humble service to the truth…
who submit to the will of Christ…
who loves us and wants the best for us…

to such as these is promised the crown of righteousness and eternal glory.

What strength is found in the bond of unity with Christ and the Church!
Even the power of hell shall not prevail against her.

.As we celebrate those to whom Christ first entrusted His body, the Church..
may we who dare to partake of the one bread and the one cup
answer the call to be truly one in every way with Christ,
and by what we say and do…bring those we meet ever closer to the one fold.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time – 22 June 2006

Often times in confessions the priest assigns a certain number of prayers to say…
perhaps a few Our Fathers and Hail Marys.
One of the most meaningful penances I ever received
was the day the priest said to me:
Go, and pray the Our Father very slowly…
one phrase at a time…
for as long as it takes…
and reflect on the meaning and power of each word.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives to His disciples the model of all prayer.
The Our Father, named by Saint Thomas Aquinas “the perfect prayer”
is like a summary of the whole Gospel of Jesus.
Its seven petitions…
three which give glory to God, and four which beg His grace…
give to us in the form of a prayer…
the essence of the Good News.

Yet, Jesus gives us more than the words to pray…
He taught His disciples, and us, how to live as people of prayer.
Authentic prayer demands a purity of heart that prays “Thy kingdom come”
not only as a future event…
but as a living, present reality…
that forgives the faults of others…
that seeks to be holy for love of God…
and not to be seen.
Real prayer demands faith that goes beyond what we see and understand…
a faith filed with hope of eternal realities.

Saint Thomas More, whose feast we celebrate today…
was a model of such faith in the midst of adversity.
He stands as a model for us today…
when again the sanctity of marriage is under attack
While he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, he wrote this prayer…
Give me the grace, Good Lord
To set the world at naught. To set the mind firmly on You and not to hang upon the words of men's mouths. Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help. To lean into the comfort of God. Busily to labor to love Him.

Prayer is essential to our Christian life…
and to our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
In prayer we raise our minds and hearts to God…
it's as if we are having a conversation with God…
telling Him our joys and sorrows and seeking His love and grace.

Prayer is communal, and reaches its highest form in the Liturgy of the Church…
but it is also deeply personal.
Prayer is the meeting of persons who love one another…God and His children.

Our Heavenly Father loves us and desires that we remain close to Him…
that our relationship grow ever stronger.

As children of God, each of us is called to converse with Him in prayer often…
to set aside a place and a time that is just for us and the Lord…
whether that be before the Blessed Sacrament…
or in a special place at home.
I encourage each of you to do as that priest asked me to do…
pray each petition of the Lord’s Prayer, one at a time…
reflect deeply on what God desires to say to you through those words.

May we who meet Christ’s this morning in this Mass…
strive always to people whose hearts never cease to praise the Lord!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Homily: Corpus Christi / Fathers' Day 2006

Mark Twain once wrote…

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned."

When we’re young…convinced we know everything…
convinced we’re invincible…
we often think our parents are pretty foolish.

As we grow up, we realize how much they really knew…
or, rather, how much we have learned from them over the years.

As we celebrate Father’s Day,
we are given an opportunity to pause and reflect
on the blessing our fathers and grandfathers have been in our lives,
to appreciate what they have done and what they have taught us.

It is also a moment for us to recall that we are sons and daughters of our Heavenly
What does mean to be children of a Heavenly Father?
It means that, in a way similar to our relationship to our earthly fathers,
we need Him,
we are called to love Him,
and we must honor and obey Him.
In our weakness and sinfulness…as frail human beings,
we depend on the grace and mercy of God to strengthen us.

We were created by God to know Him and love Him,
so that we may find true happiness in loving Him above all things in this life
and especially in the life to come.

Our Heavenly Father sets before us Commandments,
not simply as laws to restrict us
but as guides to show us the way to real freedom, and authentic happiness.
So often we are tempted to look at the Commandments of God,
and think that our Heavenly Father is ignorant of our life’s situation.
God just doesn’t understand!
Truly, our Father in Heaven does understand,
He does love us,
and He longs to bring us into the fullness of His truth.
Our calling as Christians is to trust in Him, and follow where He leads.

As Catholic Christians, we look to our priests as leaders and call them “Father.”

The ancient tradition of the Church looks on the local churches as families,
of which the bishop is a “father.”

And do we not call the Pope the “Holy Father.”

The Church is more than a corporation. It is a family.
When the teachings and the laws of the Church seem to us a great burden,
or the imposition of a Pope far away who is ignorant of our situation,
we must recall that the pastors of the Church are the “fathers” of our
spiritual family.

Our earthly fathers and our fathers in the Church
share together in the essence of “Fatherhood”
which they receive as a gift from God our Heavenly Father.

That is…a father passes on his life to his children.

Our earthly fathers give us life, and teach us life’s important lessons.

Priests and bishops pass on life through the sacraments they celebrate,
those outward signs of God’s mysterious grace.

And in all of this, it is God our Heavenly Father who is at work…
the Author of all life…
and the source of the grace poured out in sacramental signs.

The most august of all sacraments,
through which the very life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
is poured out for us…
is the Eucharist.
The Eucharistic Sacrifice is more than the blood of bulls and goats.
It is more than a covenant sealed in animal sacrifice.

It is a new covenant, sealed with the blood of the Son of God who became man.
It is truly the Bread of Life…and the Cup of Eternal Salvation.
It is the life-blood of Jesus, which we receive,
so that we become one with Christ.

Our celebration of the Holy Mass
is an expression of our faith…
faith in the real and abiding presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist demands faith…
for it is a reality which is not perceptible to human senses.

Through faith we know that the Father sent Jesus…
and that Jesus gave His very life for our salvation
Because He did not want to abandon His people, after He ascended to the Father,
He left us the Eucharist as His sacramental presence.
He continues to remain with us, and to give us His life.

How have we made a return for the goodness of the Lord?
How have we responded to the awesome and undeserved grace of our
Heavenly Father?

The grace of the Eucharist is not a gift to be squandered
but a treasure to be cherished.
Our love for Christ should inspire us to express our faith in His presence through
outward signs.
This is why we genuflect toward the Tabernacle…
why we bow our heads before receiving Communion…
why we strive to remain attentive to the prayers of the Mass
and participate as fully as possible…
and why we prepare for Communion…
by receiving the Sacrament of Penance
and fasting for one hour before receiving Communion.

Because the Eucharist is such a marvelous gift from our Heavenly Father…
because it is a sharing in the very life of the one who gave His life for us…
we respond with lives that show forth our love and faith.

Those who pass on life to us deserve our love and honor.
Our fathers deserve our love because they gave us life.
Our pastors deserve our respect because it is through their hands that we receive
the divine life of the sacraments.
Our Heavenly Father deserves to be loved above all else.

This Father’s Day, as we show our gratitude for all our dads have done for us,
may we also give thanks for our Heavenly Father’s love,
that love which He shows us in sending us His only Son,
as we approach with faith and love to meet Jesus, our Bread of Life and our eternal salvation.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

New Movements and Ecclesial Communities

On Pentecost weekend, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI met with representatives from various New Movements and Ecclesial Communities from throughout the universal Church. His comments to them are most interesting. I have selected some of the most salient, which together point to a theme in Benedict’s approach to these communities, and to the Church as a whole. I offer my own reflections as well.
The Holy Father sees the Church as a “symphony” toward which all the various groups and elements within the Church contribute. Most important is that the communities and movements serve and are united to the divinely instituted hierarchy of the Church, the pope, bishops, and priests. The Holy Father called the movements and communities to offer their talents, charisms, and gifts from God to the building up of the one Church. There is to be no division among the Body of Christ, as Paul teaches in First Corinthians.
The Holy Spirit inspires new elements in the Church but the same Spirit first inspired the Apostles and their successors. All the members of the hierarchy and the laity are called to work in unison to fulfill the one mission of the Church. Movements and communities are not to take the work of the Church into their own hands, or carry on a mission of their own. They exist to collaborate with the mission of the pope and the pastors. They are not to work outside the bishops and priests, even if they think the work of the pastors is insufficient.
New movements and communities can offer tremendous gifts to the Church. They do so best when they offer their gifts to the whole Church, and collaborate with the Church’s pastors.

Pope Benedict on “New Movements and Ecclesial Communities”

“And you will not fail to take your gifts to the whole community.”

“In him [Christ] multiplicity and unity go together…He breathes where he wills. He does so in an unexpected way, in unexpected places, and in ways that had never before been imagined.”

“Multiformity and unity are inseparable.”

“The Holy Spirit desires your multiformity, and wants you for the one body, in union with the lasting orders – the joints – of the Church, with the successors of the apostles, and with the Successor of St. Peter.”

“…be even more, much more, collaborators in the Pope’s universal apostolic ministry, opening the doors to Christ.”

“The whole Church…is only one great movement, animated by the Holy Spirit…”

To stay together was the condition Jesus placed to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; the premise of their harmony was prolonged prayer.”

Archbishop Rylko’s Comments

“For Benedict XVI there is no opposition between the ‘hierarchical’ Church and a ‘charismatic’ Church.”

“The appropriate theological placement of movements in the Church must be found in apostolicity, the dimension from which arises the particular bond that unites them to the ministry of the Successor of Peter.”