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, June 22, 2008

Homily 12th Sunday of the Year 22 June 2008

Throughout his papacy, Pope John Paul the Great
preached in churches, stadiums, and arenas throughout the world
and he consistently offered one brief, yet powerful message.

It was his most famous sound bite and the clarion call of his “New Evangelization.”
“Be not afraid!”

John Paul II was a man who lived through war, persecution, and poverty
and persevered in following the Lord’s call to priesthood.
There was much he could have feared…
and yet his relationship with the Lord was so deep and so authentic
that he lived and spoke with conviction
the Lord’s words in today’s Gospel: “Do not be afraid!”

Traumatic and difficult moments…
death, terminal illness, devastation and natural disaster…
often leave us speechless…or worse…reduce us to platitudes.

We foolishly say to people…imagining that we’re comforting them…
“Oh, don’t worry. Don’t be afraid. It’ll turn out all right.”
…when in reality we have no idea what they’re feeling
or what will happen in the end.
How often we casually tell people not to worry and not to be afraid.

Yet, that is precisely what Jesus says in today’s Gospel: “Do not be afraid!”
The essential and life-transforming difference
between our platitudes and Jesus’ command
is that the words of Jesus Christ…the Word of God…
have the power to accomplish what they signify!

John Paul II knew this intimately and he spoke with love and certainty
because He was absolutely convinced that being united to Christ
gives us the power never to fear again.

Jesus does not speak mere human words.
Rather, He enters our lives…and in Him we overcome all fear and anxiety.

Jesus’ teaching amounts to far more than cheap advice.
For each time Jesus mentions fear in this Gospel,
at the same time He makes reference to Himself or our Heavenly Father.
The remedy for earthly fear is entering into total union with God.

In today’s Gospel, the presence and wisdom of Jesus dispel three fears.

The first is the fear of our secret selves, and our past and hidden sins.
In most people’s lives, there is something hidden,
some paralyzing evil we struggle to keep concealed in the darkness,
some addiction or suffering of which we cannot bear to speak.

We are afraid what someone may think of us, or do to us…if they know.
All the while, we must remember that nothing is hidden from God
and all will be revealed on the day of judgment.
Sins we have foolishly feared to bring into the light in the Sacrament of Penance
will eventually be made manifest in purgatory.

Jesus calls us to have courage and come to confession regularly…
to confront the truth about ourselves and bring our dark side into the light…
so that we may be forgiven by Christ
and through the ministry of the Church
find the resources and the grace to live in peace and joy,
free from fear and the shackles of our hidden self.

Knowing the infinite love and mercy that awaits us…
we should run to the confessional…
for Jesus comes to free us from anxiety and bring us new life!

Second, there is the fear we often have about sickness and .
As we see other people…either family and friends or people in the news…
enduring serious sickness, surgery, or dying young or unexpectedly…
what we see in others can create anxiety within us.

Sickness comes to many…and comes to us all.
Yet, through every challenge of life…and in the passage from this life…
the presence of God’s providential care envelops and sustains us.
We need not fear anything that attacks our bodies…
for Christ has triumphed over
and God is more powerful than every disease…and even the sting of !

Even when God allows us to experience suffering, it is for some good purpose.
And all the while, He who knows and counts even the hairs of our head
walks the journey of life with us…
giving us grace to overcome details of life
over which we would without Him be powerless.

Jesus calls us to entrust every day, every decision, every moment of trial
into the loving hands of our Heavenly Father…
for His will is always best for us.
Give everything to God…and His care for us will never fail!

Third, there is the fear related to our self-worth.
The world tells us that we are only worth something based on what we have,
what we have accomplished, or what academic degrees we can boast of.

Jesus reminds us that, in God’s eyes, we are worth more than many sparrows…
more than all the gold and precious jewels in the world…
more than all the treasures of the Vatican and the money in Fort Knox

Our value in God’s sight is not based on what we possess or what we have done
but who we are…
creatures loved into being by God and sealed with His image.

What is more…God is not pleased with us
because of our money, possessions, and worldly success.
He is pleased with us when we study and share our faith…
remain committed to constant prayer…and love unconditionally.
It is in the fulfillment of our sacred duties that God delights in His people!
Christ comes to calm our fears and to offer us a sure remedy for every anxiety.

Confident in God’s loving and never-failing care,
we find the strength in our daily lives to live the words of Jesus:
“I am with you…Do not ever be afraid!”

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Homily Tenth Sunday of the Year A 2008

In these beautiful Spring days, we celebrate ordinations and graduations…
moments which are inevitably bittersweet.

The theme of friendship always surfaces this time of year…
as our young people make autograph books
and hug…and say goodbye…and shed a few tears.

Our Saint Michael School 8th Grade Yearbook includes the following reflection:
“A friend is a hand that is always holding yours.
No matter how close or far apart you may be.
A friend is someone who is always there and will always care.
A friend is a feeling of forever in the heart.”

We treasure our relationships with one another
and see in them the hand of God
who has made human relationship
an image of His divine communion of persons.

We cannot help but know that our loving Father has been hard at work
as we ponder the chance encounters…followed by years of growth…
that have matured into relationships we now could not live without.

Today we see in Holy Scripture the story of a simple encounter
which blossoms into a life-transforming relationship.

Saint Matthew is sitting at His tax collector’s post.
Jesus approaches and greets Matthew with two simple words: “Follow me.”
Matthew describes in his own Gospel that he arose
without hesitation
without a dozen questions about where and for what reason he was following
without frantically stressing out over what his new life would mean
and he simply followed the Lord.

Soon after meeting Jesus and accepting the call to be His disciple…
Matthew hosts Jesus in his home amid a gathering of unpopular people.
The Pharisees show their disgust that Jesus is dining with tax collectors and sinners
and in so doing they reveal that their hearts are closed to Jesus’ presence
and they do not understand His mission.

Jesus has come to enter into the lives of weak, sinful men and women
and to transform them into people of holiness and truth.

Filled with pride and delight in the visit of Jesus to his home
Matthew invited his colleagues in the tax collecting business to dinner.
These were men of poor reputation, who sided with the Roman aristocracy
and cheated the people out of the money they worked so hard to earn.
The food they are eating was bought with fraudulent funds.

Jesus could have refused to come into the midst of sinners such as these
and to leave them in the wretched state in which He found them.
But instead…because of His great compassion…Jesus dines with them
and makes of this meal with sinners an opportunity for conversion.
As Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Peter Chrysologus wrote…
“Not only while he was engaging in a formal discussion or healing
or refuting His enemies, but even at breakfast
he used to restore persons who were in bad condition.”
“Certainly the dishes Matthew set before Him at that time
had come from unrighteousness and covetousness.
But Christ did not ask to be excused from participating in them,
Because the gain to be derived from it was going to be great.”

“Jesus…will call [sinners] back through feasting, collegiality,
and human affection, enjoying Himself with their pleasant conversation
while they recline at table.”

Jesus enters into an unpopular and unpleasant situation
and seizes it as an opportunity to bring about the conversion of souls.

He uses a meal, the pleasantries of human interaction and conversation
as a moment to forge a relationship between Himself and these other men
a relationship within which he could show them
His way of love and truth.

In order to become their teacher, He first becomes their friend.

People in leadership are often encouraged to “meet people where they are”
before trying to lead them anywhere.

Of course, cleverly hidden behind this phrase is usually a fear of leadership.
“Meeting people where they are” in today’s world means
catering to people’s preconceived ideas
and tiptoeing through the maze of political correctness so as not to offend.
Such an approach serves only to leave people where they were found.

If we observe the actions of Jesus, he certainly meets people where they are
by dining with them despite the stigma is creates for him
and by using the ordinary circumstances of a casual dinner
to begin a relationship that would blossom into a conversion of hearts.

Yet, we know that Jesus does not leave people where He found them.
In dozens of Gospel stories there is conversion, healing, and transformation.

Matthew began his relationship with Jesus as a tax collector
and ended it as a priest…and a missionary of the Gospel.

In the midst of the meal, Jesus offers a teaching that challenges those who hear it.

What remarkable love the Lord has for us…
that He desires to enter into relationship with us
and through that relationship to transform us into holy people.

By our prayer and devotion to the person of Jesus,
may we open our hearts more and more each day to His loving presence.
May we allow Jesus to become first our friend whose hand is always holding ours
and in the midst of friendship and prayerful communion
may He also become our teacher in the ways of truth and love.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Homily Ninth Sunday of the Year 1 June 2008

When our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI visited us in April…
among the many great and valuable words of inspiration he offered to us…
he taught us all an indispensible lesson in authenticity.

Pope Benedict himself is a man of authenticity…
who does not try to be anyone else but the person God created him to be
who knows well who he is, and what God expects of him
whose entire life is lived in constant relationship to Jesus Christ.

By the words of his teachings and the witness of his life,
he urges and inspires us to be people of authenticity,
people who not only speak…but also live…the truth
people who are wise enough to build our lives on the solid foundation
of Jesus Christ and His Church.

Pope Benedict once wrote:
“To be wise means to know that the solidity of a house
depends on the choice of a foundation.
Do not be afraid to be wise, that is to say,
do not be afraid to build on the rock.”

This fear of establishing the whole of one’s life on the foundation of Christ
has gripped many people in our world today.

Today’s Gospel serves to spur us on to overcome that fear and build on the rock.
The choice is very clear.
There is no middle ground.

If we chose foolishly to build on sand,
failing to be anchored in the wisdom of Christ,
the temptation to worldly pleasure and the stress of daily living
will buffet us until we collapse and our lives become ruined.

The world builds on sand…on selfishness, commercialism, and …
and the suffering and debauchery displayed daily on the news
is sufficient proof that worldly values make a poor foundation.

If we chose wisely to build on rock,
to live every moment guided by the words and example of Christ…
though the sufferings and trials of human existence remain…
amid them all we shall stand firmly with the Lord.

The rock on which the true Christian builds is the words of Christ Himself:
spoken both in the Scriptures and through the Tradition of the Church.

Building on the rock means not only hearing the words of Jesus and His Church
and allowing them to drift through the empty space between our ears
but acting on them…making them the guiding principle of our lives.

Building on the rock means taking the words of Christ into our hearts and souls
and binding them to us as a seal of the new creations we have become.

Building on the rock consists not in simply saying we belong to the Lord
but in offering our hearts, souls, and bodies…every day…
in union with the will of our Heavenly Father.

As baptized Christians, we are consecrated as sons and daughters of God
and so there is for us a unique way of living
in which Jesus and the Church are our constant companions.

Building on the rock means conforming our lives to the life of the Church:
celebrating the feasts and season of the Church year in our homes
honoring the Saints of each day in our daily prayer
embracing the customs and traditions of the Church calendar.

Building on the rock means making Christ and the Church part of every day
and determining the course of our lives
based on the will of God and the wisdom of the Church.

As a priest, this is my life: to follow the will of God and to live the Church’s life.
This high calling is not limited to priests alone
but is the call of every baptized person.

For the one who builds on the rock of Christ, there is great freedom and peace.

Faced with a difficult situation, the Church prays with us.
Faced with suffering, Jesus carries our crosses with us.
Faced with a moral dilemma, the Church provides direction and answers.

Long ago as He did in the days of Moses…
the Lord sets before us this day a blessing and a curse.

The curse is a ruined life and the absence of God’s love…if we build on sand…
and give God only lip service and a second place in our lives.

The blessing is eternal life…if we build on the rock…
and allow our lives to be one with the life of Christ and His Church.

The choice is clear.

May we be always people of authenticity, who live the name we bear: Christian!
May we choose wisely to build on rock
and so inherit the blessings Christ promises us…both now and forever!

Homily Notes Corpus Christi 25 May 2008

One day, many years ago, a traveling preacher arrived in town for a mission.
While he was on the way to the stadium before his evening mission
he wanted to stop at the post office and mail a letter.
He ended up getting completely lost, and finally decided to ask for directions.
He came upon a boy walking on the sidewalk and asked him,
“Son, can you tell me the way to the post office?”
The boy replied,
“Sure. Just turn around and go back down the street to the first light.
Turn left, and it’s down a block or two on your right.”
The preacher said,
“Thank you very much, young man!”
“By the way,” he continued – handing the boy a flyer for the mission –
“I’d like to invite you to a mission tonight,
where I’ll tell you how you can find your way to Heaven.”
“Fat chance,” the boy said. “You can’t even find the post office!”

According to our own unique vocations,
we are all called to preach the Gospel by the witness of our lives
and in so doing, to help one another find the path to Heaven.

We make poor guides and inadequate witnesses…if we ourselves are lost.

Today’s feast is a celebration of the source and summit of the life of the Church…
that reality which is the foundation of all the Church is and all she does
that which grounds us and keeps us from getting lost in our lives…
the most holy Body and of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

The Church finds in the Eucharist a fountain of grace, a source of unity,
and living presence of Jesus Christ, who alone shows us the way to holiness.

Today’s celebration of the Most Holy Body and of Christ
originated with a vision of Saint Juliana,
a young Belgium , in the year 1209.
Juliana was an Augustinian nun, known for her virtue
and devotion to the Lord and the Church.
One day she heard the voice of the Lord from heaven saying to her:
“…a feast is wanting to my Church Militant, which I desire to establish.
It is the feast of the…Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.”

The Lord revealed to Juliana that by this feast He desired
faith in the Blessed Sacrament to be confirmed,
the faithful strengthened on the path to virtue,
and reparation made for irreverence shown to the Eucharist.

Juliana explained her vision to two bishops,
one of whom later became Pope Urban IV.
Corpus Christi was first made a local celebration in the Diocese of Leige
before Pope Urban IV declared it a universal observance
on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.
On this feast, we give thanks for the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist
in this Mass and in every Mass…
on this altar and on every altar of the world.

For the Lord is truly present with us,
and He who said to His disciples before His Ascension
“I am with you always”
is with us always in His Eucharistic presence in the tabernacle.

We experience Christ's presence in the Eucharist in three ways:

First, we adore Him
Saint Augustine: “Before we can receive Him, we must first adore Him.”
During Mass, before Communion,
the priest elevates the Host or Chalice or both four separate times.
These are moments of adoration,
moments when we gaze upon the Lord and say:
“I believe in you. I love you.”

This adoration which we experience in the Mass continues outside of Mass
and is intimately united to the Mass.

It is good for us to adore the Lord outside Mass and to spend time in His presence.

From the year 120, bishops were reserving the Eucharist they consecrated
so that it could be transported to other bishops
and then consumed by them as a sign of unity within the Church.
By the year 325, the Eucharist was being reserved in churches
so that it could be taken to the sick
and adored by the faithful.

Of course the Mass is pre-eminent in our lives
and our obligation to attend Sunday Mass comes first.
Yet, Eucharistic Adoration is an expression of our desire to remain with Jesus
whom we first encounter in the Mass.

The piety of the Church is intimately connected to the activity of the Church.
Prayer is not opposed to the work of the Church.
Instead it is the very source of strength and grace for all we do.

Mother Theresa…recognized as one who worked so hard for the Church
and for the good of others
also made a daily Holy Hour.

My own vocation to the priesthood cam in part as I spent time before the Bl. Sac.
and my priestly work is sustained by the time I spend with the Lord
in the Eucharist.

The men and women of our who spend time in prayer
are a source of strength for all that we do.

I encourage you all to come and be nourished by spending time with the Lord.

Second we receive Him.
Jesus becomes one with us as we receive His own body and .
We pray that we may be always one with Him in every moment of life
and that our hearts may beat as one with His
so that we may journey through life together with the Lord.

Third, we carry Him.
We carry Jesus, whom we have received
into our homes and workplaces and schools
that we may be transformed and come to see His face in one another.

The processions often held in parishes on this feast are an image of this reality.

We adore Him, We receive His, we carry Him with us…always…
that we may find the path to Heaven and never be lost!
As we honor Jesus present in the Eucharist in a unique way today, we renew our faith in the Eucharist and pray that we, too, might be strengthened on the path to holiness. We give praise and thanks for this sacred banquet…in which Christ is received, the memory of His Passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.