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.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Homily Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity 18 May 2008

This Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
will forever hold a special place in my heart.
For it was on this feast a year ago,
which, because of the later date of Easter, fell on June 3rd…
that I celebrated, with much joy and all due solemnity…
my first Mass as a priest.

There is nothing this side of heaven so exciting and at the same time so humbling
as to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
I am grateful to God for my First Mass and for every Mass I am privileged to offer.

This Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is a great gift to us from the Church…
for it affords us all the opportunity to reflect upon
the core mystery of our faith: the very reality of God.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains,
“The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the
central mystery of Christian faith and life.
It is the mystery of God in himself.
It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith…”

God is the author of our lives
the origin of everything we behold in our human existence
and the reason for our faith.
Thus the reality of God is the foundational truth
in which all of faith and life is grounded.

Without the wise and loving Triune God, life and faith would not simply be empty
but entirely inconceivable.

Today we celebrate with joy our faith in the Triune God
whose never-failing presence and unconditional love
fill our lives with grace in every step of our earthly journey.

And we pray with gratitude for our relationship with God,
which brings us peace and consolation amid the trials of life.

Today we rejoice and give thanks that we are so privileged to know the Lord…
that we are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father
that we have been redeemed by the of the Son
and filled with the grace of Holy Spirit through the Sacraments.

Today we cry out with one voice…
joining with the Church in every corner of the globe
and together with the hosts of angels and the whole company of the saints…
“Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
who was, who is, and who ever shall be!”

With this feast the Church deliberately re-awakens our drowsy faith …
and reminds us that the very center of our lives…in every moment…
as Catholics and as human persons…is the Triune God.
God is at the same time three distinct divine persons and yet also perfect unity.
Certainly this is a mystery…inaccessible to reason alone…and dependent on faith.

Reason tells us that distinct persons cannot be at the same time unified.
Faith reminds us that love conquers all division…
and…as Saint John writes in his First Letter…“God is love!”

God is love itself!
God is three persons eternally in loving relationship with one another…
and what is more…they are divine persons…sharing perfect love!
God is a communion of persons who are eternally and completely
giving themselves over to the others
to the point of sharing their very being with one another!

And so…in God…three are at the same time one.

The profound mystery of God is that unity and distinctness coexist.

This mystery sheds light on the beautiful balance essential to our Catholic faith.
As three distinct persons are perfectly one in God…
so the distinct and seemingly disparate elements of faith
blend in harmony to create the great symphony of truth.

God is at the same time the author of truth and love itself.
As truth and love are one in God, so they must be in our lives.

What is more, Catholicism is a religion of “both…and” and never “either…or.”

For us it is both Martha the busy servant, and Mary, who rested with the Lord…
both Peter the outspoken leader, and John the beloved contemplative
both authentic participation in the Mass, and prayer before the Bl. Sacr.
both working for justice, and nurturing our life of prayer and study
both love unto , and fearless defense of the truth.

For us it is always both…always a total embrace of whatever is good and holy.

There are those who want Jesus without His Mother
His Church without a Pope
Mass without the Eucharist
the Eucharist without Jesus’ presence in the Tabernacle.

Any such sense of separation is a tendency toward Protestant minimalism
and is not the marvelous wholeness that Jesus has given to His Church.

There are those among our own community…
often called “cafeteria Catholics” for their tendency
to select the doctrines and traditions that appeal to them
as if picking and choosing from a smorgasbord.

They want a slice of Jesus…but trim off His Cross of suffering
a good slab of ecology with a little bit of pro-abortion on the side.
Such dichotomizing of the realities of the faith is just as empty and lifeless
as believing in only two of the three persons in God.

Authentic Catholicism embraces all that God is
and all that the Lord and the Church offer to us…
lock, stock, and barrel…with joy and excitement.

We praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
We open our hearts to all the bountiful blessings the Lord has to offer us.

We rejoice that our Triune God is so good very to us!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Homily Pentecost 2008

On Tuesday, September 10th, 1946…
while travelling to her annual retreat at a convent in the Himalaya Mountains
Mother Theresa of Calcutta experienced a mystical encounter with J. C.

She described it as
“a call within my vocation…a second calling…
a calling to give up even Loreto where I was very happy
and to go out in the streets to serve the poorest of the poor.”

Mother Theresa described this day in her life as the Day of Inspiration
the day on which her new order – the Missionaries of Charity – began.

With the guidance of her spiritual director, Mother discerned and prayed
about what the Lord was calling her to do.
When the priest believed it was a calling from the Lord, he helped her to pursue it.
So, Mother wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Calcutta.

She would write dozens of letters over the coming 15 months…
letters which are complied in a book called Come, Be My Light…
until January 1948 when the Archbishop finally gave permission
for her to pursue the founding her new order.

Even more painful waiting would follow…
as Mother sought the permission and followed the procedures of the Vatican.

All the while, Mother Theresa remained convinced
that the calling she received came from Jesus Himself.
Truly the Holy Spirit was at work in the young nun…
and truly the Holy Spirit has been at work in the MCs for over 50 years…
as the fruits of her labors blossom throughout the world.

The Archbishop and the Cardinals…from their own perspective…
also knew that spiritual experiences and callings must be discerned.
The Holy Spirit also gives inspiration to the pastors of the Church
guiding the Church in the direction that is best for all
and revealing the will of God in our midst.

As the Holy Spirit inspired Mother’s vocation and her radical “call within a call”
so the Spirit continues to inspire great and wonderful gifts
in the hearts of people throughout the Church.

When I was in New York for the Holy Father’s Mass in Yankee Stadium,
a New York City detective
who had worked a security detail at the youth rally the night before
commented enthusiastically to my friends about the Pope’s visit.

“The Church is not ,” he said, “the Church is alive, the Church is young!”

The Church is very much alive and forever young at heart
as the Holy Spirit continues to inspire various spiritual gifts
and, through the members of Christ's Body, to renew the face of the earth.

The Church is alive in every Catholic family
that lives the truth of God’s plan for marriage and family life.

The Church is alive in every Catholic college and university
where the truth is sought in faith.

The Church is alive wherever pastors and teachers pass on the fullness of the faith
to coming generations.

The Church is alive where young people pack stadiums and seminary grounds
not to see a rock star or a sports hero…but the Pope!

The Church is alive where authors and writers use their talents and the media
to evangelize the nations in the name of Jesus.

The Church is alive is soup kitchens and Catholic Worker houses
across the fruited plain and throughout the world
where the face of Christ is seen in the suffering and forgotten of society.

The Church is alive in seminaries where good men are being formed well
to be shepherds in the person of Christ in the 21st Century.

An obvious excitement for the faith has recently filled the Church in the U. S.
and it has not come from any human accomplishment.

The extraordinary atmosphere of zeal and joy which filled New York last month
was not created by the crowds nor even by the Holy Father.
Of all people, the Pope knows the excitement is not about him!

What we have witnessed is the unsurpassable grace of the Holy Spirit
at work in a remarkable way through the Vicar of Christ.

The life of the Church is vibrant…
and the world is filled with the presence of the H. S.!

Sadly, there are those who cite or claim the inspiration of the Spirit
to justify behavior or ideas which is anything but holy.
Sometimes individuals encourage us to “be open to the movement of the Spirit”
who, it is claimed, is challenging us to move in a new direction,
even in a way contrary to the existing teaching of the Church.

We must be vigilant in such situations
and remember that the Spirit cannot contradict itself.
The Holy Spirit could not have inspired the Second Vatican Council
in any way contrary to the inspiration He gave to the previous 20 councils.
The Holy Spirit does not inspire in some people
an understanding that runs contrary to the truth taught by the Church.

We must also beware of those who claim to have received charismatic gifts
and who in turn flaunt them in an air of superiority
or use them with a sense of unique knowledge of God’s plan.

Certainly, the Spirit inspires wisdom and different spiritual gifts in many people.
At the same time, the Spirit guides the Church into all truth
and inspires her teaching authority…
and so we look to her for the sure path to holiness.
The Spirit is one and His inspiration is consistent truth.

Spiritual gifts and apparitions must be tested and discerned well
as the Bishop of Calcutta did in the case of Mother Theresa.
In the end, what is truly from God will endure in lasting peace
and will always resonate with the truth taught by His Church.
All else is the deception of the enemy.

The Lord calls us today
to open our hearts to receive the grace of the Holy Spirit in abundance
and to use the gift of our intellect to discern and seek the truth.

Filled with the Spirit and grounded in truth,
we shall find the joy and peace for which our hearts long…
joy and peace which only comes from the Lord
joy and peace which the world cannot give…
and which it cannot ever take away.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Homily Ascension of the Lord 2008

As we pause once again along the journey of this life
we gather to reflect upon the Word of the Lord
and to be nourished in the Lord’s living and abiding presence.
Each and every time we come to the holy Altar of God,
we are strengthened anew by the boundless and eternal presence of Christ
and reconnected to our true homeland in Heaven.

In a unique way, today’s feast of the Ascension reminds us
and that our high calling as Catholic Christians is to live for eternity.

Saint Paul constantly exhorts us in the prayers and readings of the Easter Season to
“Seek the things that are above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

We who are united to Christ as members of His Mystical Body
yearn to be with Him and to share in the glory and perfection
of the eternal kingdom of light and peace
where He now reigns at the Father’s right hand.

Because Jesus has ascended to Heaven,
those who love Him in truth have a place with Him in eternal glory.

Thus, the Ascension of the Lord is a moment in our Lord’s life
which is a source of tremendous grace and joy for us all.

Today’s celebration focuses our attention at the same time upward and outward:
upward on the glory of Heaven where Jesus now reigns
and outward on the mission entrusted to the whole Church.

The great commission to go into the whole world…
preaching, shepherding, and baptizing…
is given by Jesus to the Apostles immediately before His Ascension.

His command to the Apostles…and to us…to be witness of His love and truth…
is connected both historically and theologically to His Ascension.

These realties are not only close in historical succession
but they are related in their spiritual content
and in their significance for our lives as disciples in the 21st Century.

Thus, there is an inseparable union
between the demands of our faith in this world
and the eternal life of heaven to which everything is directed.

Our fulfilling of Jesus’ mission
is intimately connected to our yearning for Heaven where He now lives.

It is precisely because Jesus has ascended into Heaven
that the life we live in Him…and the work we do in His name
is given new meaning and greater purpose.

We do not live for this world alone but for eternity.
There is thus no separation…as some would have it...
between our heavenly perspective and destiny
and the mission of serving the needs of our human community.

The call to participate in the social justice mission of the Church
is not a call to neglect our heavenly inheritance.
It does not mean that in order to serve the bodily needs of others
we have to abandon the spiritual life, theological study, prayer, and liturgy.
The Christian life does not mean setting the Mass aside to fight for justice
or tolerating minimal participation in the liturgy
because somehow the work of service is more significant.

The Ascension teaches us that there is not separation in the Christian life
between our calling to meet the needs of others
and our commitment to keeping immersed in the spiritual life.

It is only with the nourishment of the Mass and prayer
that we have the strength to work for justice and peace.

It is only with a view to Heaven that our efforts find meaning,
for we are called to fill much more than the emptiness of bodily hunger.
We are called to bring the teaching of Christ's to the people of the world,
which alone can fill the longing of their hearts and souls.

We work in this world…but we live for Heaven.

Each time we come to Mass we are reconnected to the reality of Heaven’s glory,
where the Son of God sits at the right hand of the Father,
exercising His eternal priesthood in His Church.

The priesthood of Christ is manifested in essentially different ways
in the ordained ministers…and in the lay faithful of the Church.
Yet, without the participation of all members of the Body,
the Church struggles to fulfill its mission.

A head without truly active arms and legs bears little fruit.
Limbs without the shepherding of an ordained head are chaotic.

In all things it is Christ to whom we look for our source of truth and life.
Christ is the everlasting head of the Body.
Christ is the true celebrant of the Liturgy.
Christ is the real teacher.

In our unique and God-given vocations,
we must all remain rooted in the eternal realities of Heaven
as we strive to build up the human community on earth.

With souls nourished by the Bread of Heaven and the of the new covenant,
we shall go forth from this Mass to proclaim Christ
by our words of teaching and by the witness of our lives
All the while we live in hope…that in the fullness of time…
we shall live where Jesus now reigns.