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.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Homily Second Sunday of the Year 20 January 2008

Father Isaac Hecker…the founder of the Paulist Fathers…once said:
“The whole future of the human race
depends on bringing the individual soul
more completely and perfectly under the sway of the Holy Spirit.”

Father Hecker lived in the early 1800s.
Yet, his words are not bound to the moment in which they were spoken.
They mean a great deal to us today…
as we watch the world around us grown further from God
and more distant from the dominion of the Holy Spirit.

In a world of license and endless creativity for its own sake…
precious few souls are under the sway of the Holy Spirit.

In a world of selfishness…
the virtue of docility to the will of God has been forgotten.

As men and women who have been baptized into Christ's Body…
our lives have been given a radically new meaning from the rest of humanity.

We do not live for ourselves but for God and one another.

An essential element of our Christian life is surrendering ourselves to God’s will.

This means praying each morning and offering the day to God…
thanking Him in prayer each night for the blessings and lessons of the day…
making God a part every decision of our lives.

Instead of falling into frustration and despair…
because we can’t figure something out…
or because we can’t find the answer…
we ought to turn instead to the Lord…and away from ourselves… and pray for guidance from above.

If we do this…then life will become less about our disappointing selves…
and will become focused on the Lord,
whose perfect wisdom will never let us down.

Docility to the Holy Spirit also means surrendering our ideas and opinions
to the mind of the Church.
Even when we are convinced the Church needs to change her teaching…
to conform to what we think…
the true Catholic is docile to the Spirit, who guides the Church,
and says: “The Church knows better, and I shall cling to her.”

In everything, our lives should proclaim the refrain of our Responsorial Psalm…
“Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will!”


As the Prophet Isaiah teaches in today’s First Reading:
It is too little for us to be the Lord’s servants…
The Lord desires to make us lights to the nations.

It is not enough for us
to have this deep relationship of docility in the Lord’s presence the Lord…
and keep it to ourselves.

In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist testifies
that he has seen the Holy Spirit…right before him…descending upon Jesus.

Like John…we, too, are called to testify to the presence of the Holy Spirit…
wherever and whenever we recognize Him.

The presence of the Holy Spirit is alive in this parish!
He is alive…
in the hearts of every person who worthily receives Holy Communion… in every soul forgiven in Confession…
in every sick and suffering soul who receives love and peace from our hands.

The Spirit is alive in the hearts of the men and women
who are serving on our newly-formed Vocations Committee…
which met for the first time this past week.

The Spirit is alive in the devout parishioners
who pray before the Blessed Sacrament
in the chapel every Thursday evening.
It is because of their prayers…
that grace that the rest of us need to continue our mission in the Church…
flows in abundance.
He can be alive in your heart, too, if you give of your time and join them in prayer.

The Spirit is alive in the busload of your fellow parishioners
who will be travelling to Washington, D.C. tomorrow for the March for Life.

The so-called “pro-choice” movement…is one stark example
of how our society has drifted far from the sway of the Spirit.
Praying for an end to abortion…as well as euthanasia and the death penalty…
and witnessing publicly to the sanctity of human life
is one critical way we can witness to the Spirit
and bring souls once again closer to God.

The culture of death must end now…and no one but you can make that happen.
If we still have to go next year, we’re taking two busses to Washington.
I’ll be counting on you to fill them.

We testify to the Spirit whenever we teach others about the Faith.
We testify to the Spirit whenever we live lives of holiness and virtue.
We testify to the Spirit whenever we reach out to others in need.
The world needs you…now…
to be a voice for the innocent ones who suffer
to testify to the Spirit’s presence, and His truth
and to bring every soul under the sway of the Spirit.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Homily Baptism of the Lord Year A 13 January 2008

The Baptism of Jesus is a moment of supreme humility
on the part of Jesus, the Word made flesh.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the whole world,
has no sins which could be washed away in the waters of Baptism.
Yet He insists on being baptized.

John the Baptizer protests.
Even John, the one who came to prepare the way for the King, does not understand.
It doesn’t seem right to him.
Yet, John…in humility and in obedience…surrenders his will to the will of Christ.

Jesus was not baptized for His own sake but for ours.

Jesus comes to present Himself for Baptism…
not that He may be sanctified…
but so that He might Himself sanctify the very waters of Baptism.

As He enters the waters, He is not cleansed of sins…
as we have been in our own Baptism.
Instead, as He rises from the waters, our sins cling to Him.

As He did in becoming man in the womb of the Virgin,
Jesus again humbles Himself to be baptized by John.

By his own plunging into the waters of the Jordan River…
He makes the sacramental sign of water holy
and institutes the Sacrament of Baptism for the good of His Church.

The voice of the Father is heard delighting in what His Son has done.
The Spirit hovers over to river to bestow grace on this holy moment.
The Triune God is present in His fullness
as the path to holiness and eternal life is opened for all humanity.

Baptism bestows on our souls an indelible character… a mark…a seal…
which brands our soul…as belonging to Christ.

The baptismal character consecrates the baptized for the Christian life…
sets them apart from the rest of humanity…
because of the intimate relationship with Jesus Christ
into which we are drawn through this sacrament.

The Baptismal seal enables the baptized…and compels us…to live in Christ…
by authentic participation in the Sacred Liturgy
by the witness of a holy and devout life
by the practice of charity
and by carrying the truth and love of Jesus Christ to the world!

The baptismal call of all the baptized is a solemn responsibility…
and it is one that must be understood in its authentic fullness.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council
offered very beautiful and precise teachings
about the mission of the baptized faithful.

In Lumen Gentium,
the Council’s document on the nature of the Church, it is written:

The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated as a spiritual house…
They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity.

This teaching of the Church is of incredible significance to all of us…
for it not only offers a framework of what disciples are called to do…
but it defines who you are as members of Christ’s Mystical Body.

You who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ…
are strengthened and enlivened by his grace to live the faith you profess.

What defines the unique call of the baptized faithful
as distinct from the clerical state…
is that you are called to evangelize the world.

My own unique vocation is intimately connected with the celebration of the Mass.
I am most a priest when I offer the sacrifice of the Mass and preach the Gospel.

While the faithful are expected to take part in the Mass…
in a real and deeply spiritual way…
your own vocation is not fulfilled there.

You have access to people and places where I as a priest cannot go…
your workplaces, your schools, your homes…
and so you can bring Christ…and His truth and love…
into the lives of others in ways I could never dream of.

While it is good that so many of you offer yourselves to the Church
in various ministries in the Liturgy…
your proper vocation is not fulfilled by your service in the sanctuary.

God desires to work in you in so many other ways.
You are husbands and wives…mothers and fathers…students and teachers…
co-workers and colleagues.
Open your hearts to God’s grace at work in your lives in the world.

The Church does not teach about the distinct call of laity and clergy and religious
because of a need for power or a sense of superiority…
as the accusations go.

Rather, we recognize that essential distinctions must be made
and the truth of who we are must be lived out.
Holiness is in the details!

Every baptized person has been renewed in Christ by the grace of our Baptism…
and so are called to live in Christ and to proclaim His Gospel.

From within the faithful, men chosen by God for the priesthood
are further set apart as consecrated ministers of Word and Sacrament.
Also from within the faithful, God calls men and women
to live the consecrated religious life.

As we celebrate the beginning of Vocations Awareness Week today…
we are reminded of these critical distinctions
among the members of Christ's Body.

Holiness is in the details!
Muddying the distinctions only serves to suck the life out of each unique calling.

God calls each person for a unique purpose.
Holiness is found only by living as God calls you…
and none of us can live another’s vocation!

Ponder today where God has called…or is calling…you.
Humble yourselves before His will…and embrace the fullness of your vocation.

Embrace the truth…
and strive always for holiness in the details of each and every day!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Homily Solemnity of the Epiphany 6 January 2008

Today we reflect upon and ponder
the journey of faith of three men of the ancient world
whose lives are caught up in a search for Christ.

Legend and history combine to help us imagine these men and their journey.

First, there is Gaspar…
His name is from the Persian word for “treasurer.”
Gaspar is a man of wealth and power…
dressed in fine robes of purple silk…
his head crowned with an elegant turban.

He makes his way down from the region around the Black Sea…
to bring his treasure box to the newborn king:
a beautiful vessel of frankincense…
fragrant African aromatic resin…
symbolic of prayer…and laced with gold.

He brings incense…an ancient symbol of the presence of God.
All the treasure in the world cannot compare to the joy and splendor
of being able to adore the Christ Child.

Second, there is Balthazar…
His name is of Phoenician origin, meaning “Lord protect the king.”
Legend says he was a Nubian, the king of Saba in Africa.
He brings to Jesus a vessel of myrrh, an aromatic oil
that comes from the bark of thorny African trees.

The gift of myrrh keeps the inevitable passion of Christ in our minds.
For myrrh is a symbol of suffering…
and was used in the ancient world to anoint the bodies of the dead.

Hidden in that precious gift to the baby Jesus…in a time of joy and love…
was the gentle warning that suffering was to come…
that the passion would come.

Finally, there is Melchior…
His name is Semitic, from the Middle East, meaning “king city.”

He is a wise and dignified man, allegedly the eldest of the Magi.
He is a king in the ancient Arab world.

He brought to Jesus the precious gift of gold…
a fitting honor for this child who is also a king.

These men of wealth, power, and prestige…
men who had all they needed to be comfortable in this world…
set out on a journey
which was the goal and summit of their whole lives.

They set out separately…each from their own homeland…
following the same star through deserts and mountains…for perhaps years…
until at last the star…a sign of God’s providence…
showed them the way to Bethlehem.

They meet one another near the city and together approach Herod
to discover the precise place where they will find Jesus.

Imagine the excitement in these men’s hearts as they encounter one another…
realizing how God has drawn them together from separate and distant places
and has woven their lives together for a very special purpose.

They represent all the nations of the world coming to adore their king and God.

Imagine the stories they share with one another about their unique journeys.
Imagine their amazement at realizing they are not alone in this journey…
that God was leading them to Christ…and to one another…as well.

With Herod’s directions, they make the last steps of their sacred journey.
One might imagine that they are dead silent…
overcome with anticipation and awe as they approach the Holy Family.

They lay down their treasures…fall to their knees…prostrate…and adore Jesus.

Humbly, they place their costliest treasures before Him.
Humbly, they lay down themselves before Him!

Rising, they are filled with grace and peace.
They are changed forever, renewed and enlivened by their encounter with Christ.

They depart…as the Lord tells them…by another route.

The Lord has touched our hearts and called each of us from different places
to meet him face-to-face…and to be members of His holy Church.

His providential hand has led us through deserts of suffering
and the seemingly insurmountable mountains of life’s troubles.

Each of you has a uniquely amazing and beautiful story
of how you came to truly know Jesus Christ.
We could share with one another our stories…
and be amazed at how God has drawn us to Himself…and to one another.

We are Christians…and we have been drawn into a relationship with Christ.
Christ awaits us.
He waits for us to lay down before Him all that we treasure…
the material things that we hold on to…
to return to Him…for His glory…the gifts He has bestowed upon us.

But it does not end there.
He waits for us to lay down ourselves before Him…as the wise men did…
to lay down our egos, our pride, the ideas we hold contrary to the Church,
our vanity, our need for approval…everything.
Having come to Jesus silently…in awe…in trembling…
Having spiritually prostrated ourselves before Him…
Having done Him homage in our prayer and works of charity…
Having laid down our whole lives at His feet…in His service and for His glory…

We shall rise!

We shall rise filled with grace and peace…
changed forever…and renewed in Christ.

Once we have truly known and loved Jesus Christ…
we cannot possibly take leave of him by the same route.
The old way of sin by which we have lived needs to be closed to us.
We cannot return to past sins.

We have all come to know Christ in our lives.
We need to go forward having encountered Him…
and journey toward our true heavenly homeland
by a new and different route…the road of holiness and love.

The hand of God has led us from distant places to His own beloved Son.
We…like the magi…have made the journey of a lifetime.

From this moment and forever…may we travel by a different road!