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.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Homily 30th Sunday of the Year 29 October 2006

This evening, I would like to ask each of you to picture in your mind
a priest that has been important in your life.
For some of you, Father Bernie may be the only priest you know.
For many of you, you may have known several different priests.
Think of one who has made a difference in your life…
Perhaps the priest who baptized you and was there as you grew up…
Perhaps the priest who married you…
Perhaps a priest who was there to listen
when you were going through a difficult time in your life…
Recall a priest who was important to you.

When you have a priest in mind,
lift him up in prayer,
say “thank you” to God for his presence in your life,
and for the many blessings of his ministry to the Church.

Every person in this church has experienced the ministry of a priest.
Over the more than seven years that I have been in seminary formation,
I have come to know many holy and dedicated priests,
whose service can only be described as “heroic.”

You are blessed in this parish to have a priest who loves you very much,
a priest who cares for you, works hard for you, and prays for you.
The Serra Club is an organization dedicated to supporting seminarians
and to praying for vocations.
Every year they designate one Sunday
as a special day to affirm the priesthood in the life of the Church,
to honor Jesus Christ, as the Great High Priest,
and to honor the priests of His Church.
This year, this Sunday, October 29th,
has been chosen as “Priesthood Sunday” in the United States.
So, as we gather for Mass today,
we give thanks to God for Father Bernie…
and for all the priests who have been a part of our lives,
and we honor them for their love and dedication to the Church.

Our celebration of “Priesthood Sunday”
coincides with a beautiful reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
on the meaning of the priesthood.
The lessons the Holy Spirit teaches us through this reading
are beautiful beyond compare.

The Scriptures tell us that the priest is
“taken from among men and made their representative before God.”

The priest is a mediator…a bridge.

He stands before the Altar of God on behalf of the people
and brings their prayers to the Lord.
In the Sacrament of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick,
the priest is an instrument of God’s unconditional love…
a love which has the power to heal every wound and forgive every sin.

Hebrews also says that the priest is chosen “to offer gifts and sacrifices.”
In the Church of Jesus Christ,
the priest no longer offers the sacrifices of bulls and goats,
as in the rituals of the Old Testament.
Jesus Christ has offered the ultimate sacrifice of His life on the Cross.
In the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass,
we enter into the great mystery of the one sacrifice of Jesus.

It is through the hands and the words of the priest in the Mass
that Jesus chooses to make Himself present to us.
Without the priest, there is no Eucharist.
Without the Eucharist, our spiritual lives whither…
like fruit that has fallen from the vine.

The priest is called to offer more than the sacrifice of the Mass.
He must also offer the sacrifice of his own life
for the sake of the flock he is called to serve.

The Church in our time needs men to give up their lives for Christ.
The Church needs holy priests, to follow in the footsteps of all those men
who have been such an important part of each of our lives.

Think back to the priest who you had in mind a few minutes ago…
the priest who is important or influential for you.
Imagine your life without that man.
Imagine if there was not a priest around to minister to you when you were in need.
Imagine this parish without a priest to celebrate the Mass every Sunday.

It is a sad thing to imagine, is it not?

That is the reality for far too many people in the world today.
As the number of retiring priests outnumbers those who are being ordained…
those who are left are spread thinner,
and the faithful are left without the shepherd’s care they deserve.

As I look forward to ordination…
I anticipate being made a pastor much sooner and with less experience
than past generations of priests.
I also anticipate having the responsibility of more than one parish.

Some have suggested that the answer to this “vocation crisis”
is to give more of the duties of priests to those who are not ordained.
Others suggest allowing priests to marry,
in order to attract those men for whom celibacy is an obstacle.

Yet, practically speaking, the clergy of other Christian churches…
who have married clergy…
experience the same shortages as we do.
Besides that, celibacy is a beautiful gift a man offers to God and the Church…
a gift that bears fruit in abundance in his ministry.
Celibate priestly life is a life modeled after Jesus Himself.
It has been a part of our tradition of priesthood since the early days of the Church.

The response to the vocation shortage is not to change the priesthood…
but rather to encourage it in a new and fervent way.

It is the task of every one of us to create an atmosphere…
in our homes and among our children…
in which a vocation to the priesthood is encouraged and supported.
As one of the speakers on the U. S. Bishops’ vocations video Fishers of Men says:
“It should be part of the life of every male Catholic
to think about becoming a priest.”

Despite the trends in our culture and in the media,
which promote selfish choices and undermine life-time commitments,
we must affirm the value and goodness of the priesthood.

There is no greater gift a man can give to the Church and to the world
than to lay down his life as a priest.

Today, as we celebrate “Priesthood Sunday”…
I ask you to pray for the priests of our diocese,
and for me and my brother seminarians
Pray that we may serve the Lord faithfully
and persevere in doing all He asks of us.

I also encourage you…as you leave Mass today…
to express in your own way your thanks to Father Bernie
for all he does for you and for the Church.

Finally, I remind you that we need to plan for the future.
The next generation of priests is among us.
It falls to us to encourage them and support them,
to make our homes places where the priesthood is honored
and a vocation to the priesthood is respected.

In all this, we celebrate the priesthood of Christ,
and who, out of love for us,
comes to dwell with us in the Eucharist we celebrate.

May Jesus Christ be forever praised!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Homily Twenty-Ninth Sunday of the Year 22 October 2006

In a recent homily,
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston told a very touching story.

It was the story of a girl, whose mother had very badly disfigured hands.
The girl was embarrassed by her mother,
and even made her mother wear gloves over her hands
whenever they went out in public together.
The mother’s physical disfigurement was a source of shame for her.
Years later, when the woman died,
her daughter brought gloves to the funeral home
to cover her mother’s hands in the casket.
As she brought the gloves out of her purse,
her father stopped her and began to tell her a story.
He said:
“One night, years ago, in the house we used to live in,
there was a fire in the nursery.
Your mother burned her hands when she went in through the flames
to rescue you out of your crib.
She never wanted you to know,
because she never wanted you to feel responsible
for what happened to her.”


That mother’s wounded hands were a testament to the depth of her love
for her infant daughter.
They are a sign that she would risk her own life to save her child.

No doubt each of you who are parents
would do the same for your children.

Jesus Christ, the Messiah promised by the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“came to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Through His suffering He rescued us from the power of sin.

The wounds which He bore on His body…
the lashes on his back
the crown of thorns pressed into his head
the nail marks in His hands and His feet
and the wound from the soldier’s lance that pierced His Sacred Heart
…all of these are a testament to the depth of His love.

Today, Saint Mark tells us the story of Jesus and His disciples
walking along the road to Jerusalem.
Jesus is preaching about the suffering He would soon endure.

James and John boldly ask Jesus a favor…
a favor that shows how little they understand what Jesus is all about.

Next to Peter…James and John are the disciples closest to Jesus.
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus took Peter, James and John
up the mountain with Him when He is transfigured
and into the Garden of Gethsemene on the eve of His passion.
It is John, the Beloved, who remains with Jesus in His agony on the Cross.
They are close to Jesus in the most significant moments of His life…
and still the meaning of His life remains hidden from them.

They ask:
“Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and one at your left.”

Jesus must have been heartbroken.
Here He is…
trying to get through to these men the meaning of His mission on earth…
men He loves very much
men whom He has hand-picked to be His followers
men to whom He entrusts the mission of preaching His good news…
and they ask for seats of honor and power.

So, if you ever find yourself frustrated or misunderstood…
turn to Jesus…for He understands…He knew these kind of feelings, too.

Jesus says to the disciples:
“…those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant.”
Jesus re-defines the meaning of power and authority.
For the followers of Jesus…
“power” does not mean using our talents, our recognition,
or our position in a community
as a means to control, or dominate, or serve ourselves.
Rather, we are all called to place our talents, our abilities, and our position
at the service of others.

Discipleship means loving and humble service.
Everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God.
So, just as Jesus came to give His life and to serve…
so we are called to place all that we have…and all that we are…
at the service of the Gospel.

In my seminary class on the Theology of the Priesthood,
we are reading an excellent book by a Jesuit priest.
He writes that for Jesus, “service entails the sacrifice of his own life.”
And so, the “priesthood does not seek its own advantage or glory.
It recoils from demanding to be served.”
Priesthood means exercising an authority which unfolds in love…
love without boundaries.

The vocation of the priest is a call to lay down everything…
talents, authority, even his very life…
at the service of the Gospel.

Of course, the mission to spread the Gospel does not rest solely
on the shoulders of the bishops, priests, and deacons.
That mission has been entrusted to each one of you who have been baptized.

You live and work in a culture that does not respect the values of our Church.
We live in a country where it is legal to kill an unborn child…
where it is acceptable to terminate or genetically alter an “unwanted” person
where even the basic right to life…
of the unborn, the infirm, and the elderly…
is not respected.

The mission to spread the Gospel has been entrusted to each one of us,
And now more than ever the world needs us to
use every opportunity we have…
to speak the truth with love.

Every day, in school, at work, in the stores…everywhere…
you encounter people in need of God’s love…
people who need to hear the truth of the Gospel.
Sometimes you no doubt encounter people whose lives are broken by sin.
They need to know that God loves them…
but they also need to hear that there is a better way to live…
the way of Jesus Christ.

We are privileged to be able to vote
and participate in the democratic process of our country,
something certainly not guaranteed everywhere.
Or civic duty brings with it the power to have an effect on the life of our nation.
We need to place that power at the service of the Gospel.
We need to look carefully at the issues…
and then look carefully at the moral teachings of our Church…
and allow our Christian values to guide us as we vote.

We possess the power to do tremendous good in our world
because we have come to know Jesus and His Gospel.
We must now put that power and knowledge at the service of others.

The fulfillment of this mission will not be without suffering.
Jesus told His Disciples that they would share the cup from which He drank.
We, too, will surely undergo suffering for the sake of the Gospel.
That is part of being a disciple.
But our suffering is not useless.
It is worth a great deal
if it is the means by which another person comes to know Jesus.

This morning, we approach the throne of grace to meet Jesus face to face
in the Eucharist.
With confidence, let us ask Him for the grace
to go forth from this Mass strengthened in our commitment to the Gospel…
so that all we say and do may testify to our deep love for Christ!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Homily 27th Sunday of the Year 8 October 2006

From the ancient tradition of the Jewish Rabbis,
there is a beautiful saying about man and woman
that is appropriate, given today's readings from Holy Scripture:

God created woman…
Not from man’s head, lest she rule over him.
Nor from his feet, lest she be a slave to him.
But from his side…that she may be close to his heart.

In His love and wisdom, God has made men and women in a particular way.
Men and women are different in significant ways:
not only are their bodies created differently…
they relate differently to other people
and they approach life differently.
I once read a book about the many differences between men and women,
with regards to emotions, family life, and other issues.
In the book there was a story of a couple going through marriage counseling.
It came out that the woman wanted her husband to be more affectionate,
and to express his feelings more intensely, and more concretely.
So…the man responded immediately…
by going home and very thoroughly washing his wife’s car!

You may recall another popular book from a few years ago…
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
But the truth is that the differences we see in men and women
do not divide them…as if they are from different planets.
Rather these differences express a certain complementarity
which is essential to the very being of men and women.
and which is expressed in every aspect of their being…
in thew ways they relate
in the ways they approach situations in life,
in their very biological design.

As Pope John Paul the Great once wrote…
“Men and women are made for each other!”

Eve was created out of Adam’s rib…from his side.
She is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh…
and by the loving design of God…
man and woman are meant to cling to one another.


God knows it is not good for men and women to be alone.
He has created them to be suitable partners for one another.
He has made them to be joined as one flesh.

And what is more…
He has established the covenant of Marriage
as a sacred bond in which men and women live for one another.

The ancient Tradition of the Church,
founded on the Revelation of God as revealed to us through the Scriptures,
in particular the Book of Genesis, from which we read at Mass today,
defines Marriage as:
“a partnership of the whole of life
which a man and a woman establish between themselves”


A partnership between a man and a woman…
Is this simply because the Pope says so?
Or because the Church out of touch with our modern world?
Or because God or the Church is mean,
and wants to permit people from expressing their “love”?
Those are the accusations one hears in the media today.

Certainly none of this true…for the Church is guided in truth by the Holy Spirit…
and there is something incredibly profound at work in God’s loving plan.

So then why does the Church insist that Marriage is a
partnership between a man and a woman?
For no other reason than this:
because God has made us for love
and has designed the minds…bodies…and souls of men and women
so that they fit together…
and their entire persons become one!
No other partnership besides that of a man and a woman can express
the deep physical and spiritual complementarity
which is so essential to the way God designed men and women to be.

The covenant of Marriage is more than physical.
It is a relationship of self-giving love…
love which must be expressed not just in a bodily way but in every way…
in every moment.

God Himself is the model for the love to which we are called.
The Letter of Saint John contains three incredibly powerful words…
“God is Love.”
For God, love is not merely a personality trait or a past-time…
it is the most essential part of who God is!
God the Father loved us so much that He sent His own Son,
so that we might have life.
And in the greatest act of love and self-surrender known to human history
the Author of Life was put to death by men.
No greater love is or ever will be than this…
that Jesus laid down His life for those whom He loved.

We are created to love precisely like this…
totally…selflessly…completely for others!

This is particularly the vocation of husbands and wives:
to love totally…selflessly…for one another.


Many people in the world in which we live do not understand
the beauty of the human person
or the rich meaning of self-giving love.

Marriage is being re-defined today as something arbitrary and adaptable…
for whoever…whenever…and however it is convenient…
even to the point of so-called “gay marriages.”

We hear God speak to us today a very different message:
that men and women are created to become one flesh,
to be joined together in a bond that is loving, permanent, and fruitful.

And no other union to which one may arbitrarily attach the name “Marriage”
suffices to express who God has called us to be.

Marriage is seen by society as something that can be changed.
The joy of being Christian is that we know that Marriage is stable.
We do not change the Sacrament of Marriage…
Marriage changes us!

Marriage exists so that those joined by it may be sanctified,
and may be for one another a sure help on their journey toward Heaven.
Marriage is the means by which God has ordained that men and women
should participate in His work of creating new human life.


I can tell you that it always brings me great joy to see couples and families
striving to faithfully live out your commitment to one another.
Married life and raising children is not easy…
perhaps it is even more difficult in these times…
but your example of love and dedication is nothing less than
a sign of God’s love at work in the world.

Our world desperately needs the strong example of holy and faithful families.
It needs us to defend Marriage in its true fullness, as God designed it.
It needs us to care for those who find life burdensome,
who struggle with their sexuality,
who look for love in all the wrong places.
The world needs us to show it how to love again.

As we turn toward the Lord, to receive Him in the Holy Eucharist…
as the Bridegroom comes again to unite himself to His Bride, the Church…
as Heaven is wedded to earth again on this Altar…
May the grace of this Sacrament strengthen us to teach by example, and to pray
so that people will come to see the beautiful plan God has in store for them.
And may we ever remain close to the heart of Christ!