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, August 31, 2008

Homily Twenty Second Sunday of the Year 31 August 2008

[Some sections ad libitum.]

This is my body, broken for you--Feast so you will never hungerThis is my , given for you--Drink that you may never thirstThe body that will nourish you--And bring you to share in my gloryThe that will give you new life--And fill you with love that will not disappointIt costs me everything, yet I give it freely--It is my greatest joy to give my life for youThis is my body--Do this and remember me

These lines make up the first half of a poem by an anonymous author
Te writer reflects upon his devotion to Jesus Christ,
the one for whom these words carry a profound meaning of self-sacrifice:
“This is my Body, given up for you.”
“This is my Body, scourged, beaten, torn open, pierced, and crucified,
for you, that your sins may be forgiven.”
“This is my greatest joy: to give my life that you may have life.”

The selflessness of Christ is perfect, redemptive, and compelling.

In every Mass we commemorate this great Paschal Mystery,
represented on the Altar of Sacrifice.
The body and once broken and poured out on the Cross
is again made present among us and within us
and continues to be the source of life eternal for all who believe.

The second half of the poem is a reflection on a modern expression of these words,
rooted not in selfless sacrifice, like that of Jesus,
but a selfish thirst for personal satisfaction.

In contrast to the Savior’s perfect offering of His body for our salvation
is the self-serving attitude embraced by many in contemporary society –
“This is my body. I can use and abuse it however I please.”
– in particular the so-called “right to choose.”
The poem continues…
This is my body, kept for myself--Barren so I may prosperThis is my , withheld from you--You would steal my vitalityThe body would nourish you--But you must suffer that I may thriveThe would be shed to give you life--But you will bleed to give me “freedom”Your cost is too high, I will not pay it--You are my shame, you are not wantedThis is my body--You are soon forgotten

Today, we encounter people who, in a variety of unfortunate ways,
view their own human bodies and the bodies of others as objects to be used
rather than beautiful works of art fashioned by God
and living signs of His loving presence and creative genius.

Odd and numerous piercings and tattoos
mutilate and disfigure the body as God created it.
Immodest dress fails to recognize the dignity of the body
and makes it into an object of for another.

In contrast to the attitude of the world,
the Church echoes the wisdom of Saint Paul,
who calls us Catholic Christians to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.

The human body is God’s crowning achievement in His masterpiece of the universe
and a temple of the Holy Spirit by virtue of our Baptism.
We are called to honor and please God by the way we treat our bodies
and to view them as holy creations,
which are involved in our total act of worship.

Paul reminds us, too that we are called to be holy, to seek to know the will of God
and to conform ourselves to His will rather than the attitudes of this age.

It is providential that this Sunday follows Friday’s feast…
for there is a spiritual theme that connects today’s reading from Saint Paul
with the Gospel of the martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist.
John the Baptist prepared for his as a martyr by the way he lived His life…
He denied Himself constantly and so did not hesitate to give even his life,
as he was beheaded by Herod…
From conception, he proclaimed the presence of the Messiah, as was his vocation,
and stood up in defense of the truth….
He could have taken the easy road and kept his mouth shut about Herod’s marriage,
but it was not who he was…
He could not ignore the truth and he paid the ultimate price….
In contrast is Herod’s selfishness, who took John’s life only to please his guests…

John the Baptist laid down his life in little ways every day,
denying himself, offering his body as a living sacrifice for the glory of God,
until finally he have his head for the sake of the Gospel.

No less is asked of us, who call ourselves Christians.

We can take the easy road.
We can go with the flow of the world’s attitude, and be comfortable and popular.

As ship is safe in the harbor. But that’s not why a ship is built.
It’s always safer to avoid risk.
But the easy road is not what Saint John the Baptist, or Saint Paul,
or you and I have been called to follow.

It’s not who we are, for we are the body of Christ.
Be who you are. Offer your bodies and lives as living sacrifices for Christ.
Find in him the peace, the love, and the joy that lasts forever!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Homily 21st Sunday of the Year 24 August 2008

Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus, bonae voluntatis.
Laudamus te.
Benedicimus te.
Adoramus te.
Glorificamus te.
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.

If ever you’re in Rome, and attend Mass at St. Peter’s on Sunday/Feast/Solemnity,
you will hear these words chanted.
They are the first words of the Gloria in Latin, the official language of the Church.

This musical setting of the Gloria has been sung in Rome…
and in churches throughout the world…for at least 1,000 years.

In every Mass on Sundays and major feasts of the liturgical year,
the Church recites or sings the Gloria,
an ancient hymn of praise to God.

The Gloria is among the most beautiful and significant prayers of the Liturgy.

The hymn begins with the words of the angels to the shepherds
on the night of the birth of Christ…
Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will…
and continues with poetic lines expressing our humble prayer of praise
before the presence of our almighty and ever-loving God.
The Liturgy and the devotions of the Church
celebrated throughout the world in every age
constantly give glory to God in prayers, hymns, readings, chants.

As our Holy Father writes in his book Jesus of Nazareth,
human words are not sufficient to give voice to our praise of God
and so we must employ music in our sacred worship.

The prayers of the Mass are meant to be sung,
and our musical prayer is the fullest expression of our glorification of God.
At the same time, the music we employ is itself a gift from the Lord.
It is He who inspires the talents of composers and musicians.
In singing God’s praise in the Sacred Liturgy,
we return to God what we received from Him,
just as in the Mass we offer bread and wine which come from His bounty.

The Eucharistic Prayer always ends with the doxology:
Through Him, with Him, in Him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father,
forever and ever.

One of the most common prayers…used in the Rosary and Liturgy of the Hours…
is the Gloria Patri…

In so many ways, we glorify God by our liturgical and devotional prayer.

Our prayer expresses what we believe, and is also the for how we are to live.

Our stance of glorifying God does not end with the end of the Rosary or Mass.
Our daily lives are meant to be a living sacrifice of praise…
rising to Heaven like the beautiful fragrant smoke of incense…
and a constant living hymn of adoration.

The faith we pray about must take root in us and enliven our every word and action
if we are to be authentic disciples of Jesus Christ.

The Jesuits have for centuries kept as their motto:
“Ad majoriem Dei gloriam.” “For the greater glory of God.”

This is an ancient phrase that can serve as a life’s motto for any Christian.
In all that we do, we ought not ever seek our own interests
but instead seek to give glory to God in everything…
even in the seemingly minute activities of each day.

Perhaps that seems strange.
Certainly we do not mean that we could possibly “give” God His glory,
as if His great beauty and splendor depend somehow on us!?

Surely not, for as Saint Paul writes, who has ever given the Lord anything
for which the Lord remains in debt to him?!

Truly it is God who deserves all the glory from His humble servants.

When we say speak of giving glory to God,
what we mean is that we…in our humble, frail way...
acknowledge the glory of God
and the awesome mystery of His presence.

In a chapter of his Letter to the Romans charged with passionate emotion,
Saint Paul proclaims the unfathomable depths
of the wisdom, riches, and knowledge of God.

The fullness of His plans is not known to us and His divinity remains a mystery.
No one of us…no human person that is or ever was or will be…
would presume to truly know the extent of the mind of God.

The more deeply we enter into the spiritual life,
the more we realize that everything we are able to do, and all that we possess
is entirely an undeserved gift from God.

Truly, everything is grace!

The more we realize this, the better our lives will be
and the closer we will be drawn into relationship with God.

As we acknowledge that we are not the source of our own existence
that we are not sustained by our own merits
and that everything we accomplish is aided by the presence of the H. S.
we begin to more and more praise and thank God for everything.

In this our lives truly become a living sacrifice of praise.

Notice that in the Gloria, the phrase “Glory to God in the highest!”
is followed immediately by “and peace on earth to men of good will.”

The prayer of the Church always teaches us,
and in this case it reminds us that true, lasting peace is only found on earth
when men and women first give glory, praise, and thanks to God.

And so we must join our prayers and our lives
to the prayer and the activity of the Church,
who never ceases to praise the living and true God,
the source of our well-being and redemption.

From God and through Him and for Him all things are, Paul reminds us.

With the Church, we beg the peace which comes only from God
as we give glory and honor to Him forever!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Homily Solemnity of the Assumption 2008

For over 2,000 years,
the Church both in the Roman Rite and in the East…
in numerous languages, tribes and nations
through a great variety of images, feasts, and prayers
has ceaselessly rendered honor and devotion to the Mother of God.

The icons of Church in the East do not attempt to portray human details
but instead are windows into Heaven
which present lessons from another world with great spiritual value.

In the icon of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help,”
Mary is portrayed as a royal woman amid Heaven’s splendor.
The gold in the background and in Mary’s robes symbolize the glory of Heaven.
Mary is wearing a hooded cape of royal blue, lined in green, over a red tunic.
These are the royal colors worn by the Byzantine Empresses.
On her head is an 8-pointed star,
showing that Mary is the star that points the way to Christ.

Mary is an important woman,
truly a Queen arrayed in gold as the Psalm today proclaims,
a woman of power and position in God’s plan of salvation.

Mary looks…not at Jesus or to Heaven…
but out toward us, as if ready to share with us something very significant.

Greek Letters: “Mother of God” / “Jesus Christ”

The figure of the infant Jesus is also clothed in royal red and green.
He is curled up in His mother’s arms, clutching her thumb,
and looking back at something that has frightened Him.
He has run in fear to His mother’s secure embrace,
and has run so fast that His sandal broke and is dangling from His foot!

In the upper corners, according to the Greek abbreviations,
are the angels Michael and Gabriel.
They are the source of the fear that overcomes Jesus,
for they hold in their veiled hands the instruments of the Passion:
the Cross, nails, jar of vinegar, stick with a sponge, spear.

Having seen a vision of the Angels,
revealing to Him the instruments of the Passion that awaits Him,
Jesus runs into the loving and comforting arms of His dear Mother.

Mary, was a strong, loving, and wise woman,
a perfect mother who comforted the Christ child in His infancy.

Mary looks at us with intensity,
knowing that there are times of fear or sorrow when we need to be comforted,
and she promises never to leave us.

As we celebrate today, at the end of her earthly life,
Mary was kept free from the decay of
and was assumed body and soul into Heaven, where she reigns as Queen.

Mary is the Mother whom Jesus Christ took on our human flesh
and the one through whom we, along with our merits and prayers,
return glory and praise to Jesus.

Ad Jesum per Mariam…the famous Latin adage proclaims.
To Jesus through Mary!

Jesus Christ is our salvation and it is to God alone that our worship is rendered.
Yet Jesus Himself, in entrusting Mary to John at the foot of the Cross,
and in so doing giving her to the entire Church as our Mother,
has showed us that we can and should worship Him through her.

Saint Louis De Montfort…
author of the great spiritual book True Devotion to Mary
teaches us that by establishing in our lives devotion to Mary,
we establish for ourselves a more perfect relationship to Christ.

Just as Mary was necessary in the drama of salvation,
as the vessel through which Jesus entered into the world,
so she is essential to the fulfillment of our salvation.

Of course we can appeal directly to Jesus.
But how much more complete and beautiful are our efforts and prayers
if they are offered in union with Mary, the sinless Mother of God!

Imagine any good work and prayer of your life.
On its own it is worth much and is precious in God’s sight,
for God delights in our prayer and self-offering.

But imagine our prayers and sacrifices offered to Jesus through Mary!
Mary takes them in her loving hands,
wraps them beautifully with her own perfect prayer,
and like a gift wrapped in gold paper and silk ribbons,
presents a perfect package to Her son Jesus on our behalf.

How could Jesus refuse anything brought to Him by His beloved mother?!

The perfect exercise of devotion to Jesus is devotion to His Mother Mary.
Devotion to Mary consists in giving everything to her:
our bodies and souls, our possessions, our prayers, and our good works,
that she may accompany us in every moment of our journey of life
perfecting all that we have and all that we do,
and drawing us into intimate union with Jesus her Son.

The culmination of Saint Louis De Montfort’s spiritual teaching
is the great and beloved Consecration to Jesus Through Mary.
“Consecration” means to set something or someone aside for a sacred purpose.

Chalices and Altars are consecrated for sacred use in the Liturgy.
Men and women religious are consecrated to God by the vows they take.
Priests are consecrated for the offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass
by the laying on of hands by the Bishop.
Any prayer of consecration is an act of devotion
by which we give ourselves entirely to God
and promise complete fidelity, obedience, and surrender to Him.

The consecration to Jesus through Mary consists of 33 days of prayer
with the act of consecration itself taking place on the 34th day,
which is always a Marian feast.

Before my Ordination to the Priesthood, led by the seminary Rector,
I made the consecration with several of my brother seminarians.
I plan to renew it in the coming weeks leading up to the Feast of O. L. Walsingham
and I am happy to share information about it with anyone who is interested.

By this act of consecration, we open our hearts completely and without hesitation
to Mary, our Mother,
allowing her to share in our lives
and bring us into deeper communion with Jesus.

Mary is our Mother and the source of perpetual help and comfort.
The more we dedicate ourselves to Mary and through her to Jesus,
the more grace we will receive from Him to resist sin and choose holiness.

Give everything to Jesus through Mary,
and your fears and trials will fade in the light of God’s peace
as your bodies and souls find rest in Mary’s embrace.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Homily 19th Sunday of the Year 10 August 2008

Brad Braxton, a Baptist minster who teaches homiletics at Vanderbilt Univ.
defines preaching as
“The faithful, passionate reporting of God’s useful news.”

We expect a clergyman giving a homily to be faithful.
We expect that he is telling us the truth and believes what he is saying.

We usually benefit and are inspired if he is also passionate,
if he shows that he cares about his hearers and about what he is saying,
because passion is a sign of authenticity.

However, it is not too common to refer to preaching,
or to the Gospel message in general, as “useful.”

Of course, what is common is not necessarily true.

In fact, God’s message does have practical implications for our lives.
It is indeed useful.

The Word of God, revealed in the Scriptures and the teaching of the Church,
is not simply the topic of seminary classes and the prayer of monks.

It is a real message that has meaning and value for the daily lives
of every human person.
We can all read Church documents and the Bible.

Though they may take time to digest...they are not beyond us.

The spiritual life is ultimately meant to bring us to Heaven’s glory
and yet God’s Word and the mission of the Church
has great value for making life on earth peaceful, joyful, and fulfilling.

And as the Second Vatican Council reminds us,
every baptized person has a role to play in spreading the Gospel message.
We are called to witness to God’s truth and love, so that lives can be made whole.

As Saint Paul so poignantly describes to us today,
there is an certain anguish within the hearts of all true Gospel witnesses.

Saint Paul writes,
“I speak the truth, I do not lie;
my conscience joins with the Holy spirit in bearing me witness
that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.”

He goes on to describe the special relationship Israel has to God
and the glorious promise given to them by their creator.

Paul is an apostle who sees the promise and potential in his people
and as he longs for the fulfillment of that promise, he is filled with anguish.

This is the anguish of parents who know the potential within their children
who want them to be happy, healthy and holy
who long for them to remain close to God and the practice of the faith
and yet have to see them falter as they find their own way.

This is the anguish of minister of the Gospel
who knows in his heart the dignity of the human person
and their capacity for loving God and neighbor
who knows in his heart the splendor of truth and the power of God’s love
and yet must behold God’s people straying from Him in sin.

This is the anguish of the misunderstood and rejected preacher
who knows the fullness of what life in God can be
and at the same time encounters those who are not even interested.

For Saint Paul, the sorrow is great and the anguish is constant.
He would even die…and be himself separated from Christ…
if it meant that other souls would enjoy the fullness of God’s promises.

The truth is that the heart of every Christian mother, father, teacher, and minster
should be filled with this very anguish.

There should be sorrow in our hearts as we realize
that there are those who live without God…
those who live without the Eucharist, Mary, the Saints...etc...

The sorrow should be great and the anguish constant…
because the number of those who need to hear the Gospel…from us…is vast.
Sorrow over those who do not know the fullness of God’s revelation
should not lead us to despair
but should inflame within us a passion for living as witnesses to Christ.
If the flame of faith given to us at Baptism has weakened or wavered
then we need to re-ignite it through a life of constant prayer and study.

This passionate flame of faith gives us the courage to step out of the boat…
out of the realm of security, comfort, popularity
and into the rough waters of being a radical Christian
in the midst of the world.

Being a Christian in the 21st Century can be an experience of sinking,
of overwhelming pressure to give in to society’s temptations.

Notice that Peter only begins to sink
when he focuses on his own fears and problems and takes his eyes off Christ.
Our calling as disciples of Jesus is to fix our gaze entirely on Him,
to walk and speak with confidence, leading others to Him.

With a passionate faith, we can joyfully and lovingly speak to others
a word about God that will be truly useful,
that will make their lives more complete.

We can tell our friends, coworkers, the people we meet by chance…or Providence
what God means to us, what the Eucharist is,
who our favorite saint is and why,
why human life and married love must be valued.

Each of us can faithful and passionately proclaim God’s useful news…
and in so doing we might just find that we will change a life forever!