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, September 28, 2008

Homily Solemnity of Saint Michael (Transferred) 27/28 September 2008

50 Years ago this Monday…September 29, 1958…
Monsignor George Habig…representing Bishop Emmett Walsh…
dedicated the original church…what is now the gym…
here in Saint Michael Parish.

As many of you would remember,
until the Catholic people in northwest Canton had a church of their own,
Mass was held in the Avondale School.

Since that dedication day…50 years ago on the Feast of Saint Michael…
our parish has grown rapidly and beautifully
into a family of faith of over 2,600 households.

Though we have since seen the dedication of a new church building in 2000,
it is significant that we remember the first church
and the labor and love that made it a house of prayer for our ancestors,
consecrated to God and set aside as a sacred place for divine worship
under the patronage of the great Archangel Michael.

This year, as Church norms permit for patronal feasts,
we have transferred the Feast of Saint Michael to Sunday,
that we may together honor the holy Archangel
in whose honor our parish was established
and under whose patronage we continue to journey in faith.
We honor him with incense, chant, song, white vestments, and unique prayers.
As we reflect upon the ancient and beautiful Prayer to Saint Michael,
as well as the stories of Saint Michael in the Sacred Scriptures,
this special feast day offers us three very valuable spiritual lessons.

First of all, we are reminded of the supernatural realm that is quite real
though we cannot perceive it with our human senses.
Angels…pure spirits who serve God faithfully and worship him continually…
are as real as we are to one another.

There are three chief angels, or Archangels, in the splendid hierarchy of Heaven:
Gabriel, which means the “Strength of God”
is the one who brought God’s message of salvation to JBap and Mary.

Raphael, which means the “Medicine of God”
is the one who cared for Tobias on his journey,
as we read in the Book of Tobit.

Michael, whose name means “Who is like God?”
is the great defender of the Church and of God’s people.

The church believes in, trusts in, and invokes the intercession of the holy angels.

Secondly, it is also true that the supernatural realm is not entirely good and holy
as the angels who serve and worship God.
The Devil is also real.
Satan, whose name means “adversary,”
is an angel who rejected God and was cast out of Heaven.
From his abode of darkness, distant from the love of God,
he now prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls
and deceiving men and women striving for holiness.

It is convenient but dangerous to de-personalize sin
and to speak in general terms about “evil.”
Never forget that the Devil’s greatest trick is to convince us that he does not exist.

Saint Michael is the great protector,
who fought against the Devil and who defends us against evil.
Whenever we find ourselves in a struggle against sin and temptation,
it is of tremendous value to have recourse in prayer to Saint Michael.

Finally, our celebration brings into focus the reality that we are in a time of war.
This war is not the military conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Middle East.

Instead, I speak of a spiritual battle…a battle for truth, holiness, and morality…
a battle being waged in courtrooms, classrooms, and hospital rooms.
The enemies are selfishness, decadence, and the culture of .

We who have been baptized into the Mystical Body of Christ
have been summoned by Him to take our place as defenders of truth
and are led by the holy Archangel Michael into spiritual warfare.

The false values of the world, temptations of the flesh, and snares of the Devil
converge as the enemy of the truth, love, peace, and justice of God.
The examples abound…
Our children in public school are denied the opportunity to freely pray.
Catholic physicians and Catholic Charities are compromised or forced to close…
because of pressure to dispense contraception or perform abortions.
Priests are prosecuted for preaching the teachings of Christ.
Music media, television, movies, and the internet…
which provide great advantages and opportunities…
also provide new technological outlets for immorality and deviance.

Saint Michael is the defender of truth and justice.

We need him close to us today more than ever…as a companion in the trenches…
as we stand together against the injustices that affect our world…
against poverty, hunger, religious and racial discrimination,
and the greatest injustice ever conceived of by mankind:
the deliberate destruction of human life in the womb.

We must arm ourselves against these visible and invisible enemies.

St. Michael is shown dressed in armor and carrying a sword.
His image is symbolic of the true armor offered to every disciple.

Contrary to the radical ideologies some who invoke God in defense of
disciples of Christ stand in firmly rooted in love and peace.

The greatest weapons we have in the struggle for holiness are
our relationship to God, Mary and the Saints in daily prayer
the grace of the Sacraments, to which we must frequently make recourse
and the powerful truths of the Bible and the Catholic Catechism,
which we must read, study, and thoroughly understand.

With God’s grace in our hearts and souls…
with the wisdom of the Scriptures and the Church’s teaching in our minds…
and with Saint Michael at our side…
we constitute a formidable force against sin and evil.

By our words of truth and love, the example of our actions in the world,
our fervent prayers, and our well-formed participation in political life
we can and must make a stand for truth!

We have seen , corruption, and immorality for far too long
and it is time for us to say that we have had enough.

Jesus Christ is our Savior…our brother…and the source of our hope!
His truth brings us peace in this life…and the promise of eternal life!
We are called…and privileged…to fight for Jesus Christ…to fight for holiness!

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!
Christ our God, give us courage to love you and to defend the truth which sets us free!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Homily Exaltation of the Holy Cross 2008

Many centuries ago, in the year 312, Emperor Constantine the Great
faced a conflict which would have lasting impact on western civilization
and also be a life-transforming moment for Constantine himself.

On the eve of the battle, Constantine beheld a vision from Heaven:
a flaming cross in the sky,
and the words “In hoc signum vinces.” – “By this sign you will conquer.”

Constantine, a pagan military commander,
had the sign of the Christian cross painted on the shields of his soldiers.

The next day, he met the Emperor Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge,
and, by defeating him, gained control over the ancient Western Empire.

A victory of a different kind was also achieved.
Constantine’s soul was won for Christ and he converted to Christianity.

As a result, two events of major significance took place.
First, in 313, by the Edict of Milan, Constantine ended Roman persecution,
allowing Christians to build churches and worship freely.
No longer was Christianity an illegal, secret sect.
The Church could now actively grow and develop.

Second, Constantine effected the conversion of his mother, Saint Helena,
who became a devout and zealous servant of God.
It was Helena whom God called to undertake pilgrimages to the Holy Land
in search of places where Jesus lived and holy relics of His life and passion.
On September 14th, 326, Saint Helena and her companions discovered three crosses,
buried for nearly three centuries by persecuted Christians,
who could not freely venerate or display them.

As they were exposed, a sick man sat up the moment he beheld one of them,
and so they came to believe that it was truly the Cross of Christ's crucifixion,
the other two of course belonging to the two thieves.

From that moment, the true Cross of Christ, and other relics of the Passion,
became objects of public veneration and devotion for the Christian people
and remain so even unto our own day.

Today, because September 14th falls on a Sunday,
the normal course of Sundays in the Year is interrupted
as the Church throughout the world
celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Today’s Feast commemorates the miraculous discoveries by Saint Helena,
and the dedication of a church on the site of the Passion at Calvary hill.

Today the Church honors the Cross of Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been raised up and given the promise of eternal life.

The prayers and music of the Sacred Liturgy
teach us much about the realities we are celebrating.

The ancient hymn Vexilla Regis, used for centuries on this feast and Palm Sunday,
Abroad the royal banners fly And bear the gleaming Cross on high- That Cross whereon Life suffered And gave us life with dying breath.

Another ancient Christian hymn, like several other Saint Paul used in his writings,
is found in today’s Second Reading.
The famous Philippians Hymn recounts for us the ineffable mysteries we celebrate
as we honor the Holy Cross.

It is a hymn centered on Jesus Christ, which follows the thread of grace
from His Incarnation…through his humiliation…to His exaltation.

Jesus emptied Himself, being born of the Virgin and taking on our human likeness.

This reading hearkens back to the “Suffering Servant” passages of Isaiah 52.
Jesus Christ is the suffering servant, whom Isaiah foretold,
the one who would submit Himself to and abuse,
and eventually pour out His life in sacrifice for human sin.

There is a close relationship between the humanity and divinity of Jesus,
so that the self-emptying we see in Jesus’ humanity
reveals the reality of the life-giving love
that flows from Person to Person within the Divine Trinity.

Jesus humbled Himself, accepting the ignominious of crucifixion.

Jesus is contrasted to Adam in the first chapter of Genesis.
Whereas Adam asserted Himself in grasping at divinity,
taking the fruit that the serpent said “would make him like a god”
Jesus restricts the use of His divine abilities
and accepts our human limitations.
Jesus was in fact God…but He did not use His godliness for His benefit…
but instead humbled Himself for our sake.
Jesus made Himself poor, so we could be rich in God’s grace.

Jesus endured the ultimate indignity of Roman law – crucifixion –
a punishment reserved to slaves, insurrectionists, and the worst of criminals,
that sinful humanity might inherit eternal life.

Therefore, He was exalted, and His humanity was clothed with divine glory.

The exaltation we celebrate was not only in the Resurrection, after the Passion.
Truly, the triumph occurs as the Son of God is immolated for our salvation.
It is in the moment the Crucifixion…in His suffering…that Jesus’ glory is revealed.
The Cross itself is the sign of victory, and the standard of triumph!

Therefore, all creation…in Heaven, on earth and under the earth…
must bend the knee, acknowledge Jesus as Lord, and be humbled before Him.

The same glorious destiny of Jesus awaits all who humble themselves as Jesus did.
The Gospel proclaims to us that, because of His infinite love for us,
God sent His only Son into the world to give His life
that we might have eternal life.

As the serpent, which, when lifted up, cured those who were bitten,
so the Son of Man was lifted for the salvation of those
who have been bitten by sin.

The bronze serpent was a sign that healed.
The Cross is the instrument of our redemption.

Jesus was lifted up…He was exalted in His suffering
and displayed for us the perfect example of self-emptying love and humility.

So, the Cross is so much more than a symbol that hangs on a wall
or around our necks.
The sign of the cross points to a person, an event, a reality.
What happened on the Cross is the most significant and defining reality of
who Jesus is and who we are.
Many of us wear crosses.
All of us, hopefully, display a crucifix in our homes.
When we look upon the Cross, we are reminded of its powerful meaning:
that Jesus Christ accepted the worst possible
to reveal to us the extent of God’s love.
The Cross also reveals to us the ideal of true Christian discipleship.
We, too, have a dignity, as human persons made in the image of God.
But it is not a dignity that we regard as something to be grasped,
something to be used for our benefit.
It is a dignity we lay down for Christ and for others.

We must be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ and for others, even our lives.
Our sufferings, inconveniences, and sorrows take on infinite value
when we embrace them and unites them to the Cross of Christ.

For Constantine the Cross was the sign of victory.
For us it is a reminder that Christ was victorious over sin and .

And so the Church calls us to honor the Cross…
to display the Cross…wear the Cross…to live the Cross…
that with our lips, our hearts, and our lives,
we shall forever proclaim with the Church throughout the world
We adore you O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross we have redeemed the world!