Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Homily 19 October 2008 Twenty Ninth Sunday of the Year A

Story of godson Joseph swallowing a quarter…

Today’s Gospel story centers around a coin, specifically the Roman denarius.

The Pharisees, overcome by greed and for power,
seek a way in which they can trap Jesus
and use His words to destroy His public image.

Passionate about covering their own tracks, they send their students to Jesus,
and even their approach to Jesus is inauthentic and shrewd.
They offer Him compliments in an effort to win Him over and appear trustworthy.
Instead they are wolves in sheep’s clothing, who come to make a fool of Jesus.

They ask: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their hearts, Jesus replies:
“Show me the coin that pays the census tax.
Whose image is this and whose inscription?”

The Pharisees point out the obvious: the coins of the empire bear the image of Caesar.

Jesus concludes the seemingly mundane dialogue over the census tax
with a much more profound statement:
“Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

It is important to focus on the theme of “image” in today’s Gospel.
As believing Israelite would have known,
every human person bears the image of God.
Even more, the Christian bears the indelible inscription that comes with Baptism.

The coin that bears Caesar’s image belongs to Caesar.
We who bear God’s image belong to God.

When Jesus says “Repay to God what belongs to God,”
He intends that we would offer, not the passing wealth of coins,
but our very selves, to Him, as a living sacrifice of praise.

Thus, the Church Fathers write:
“The image of God is not depicted on gold but is imaged in humanity.
And so, give your wealth to Caesar
but reserve for God the sole innocence of your conscience,
where God is beheld.”

We see in this teaching of Jesus the two realms in life: the temporal and the eternal.

The divine image within us binds us to Almighty God
and our true citizenship is in Heaven.
Yet we have a legitimate obligation to care for the world here and now
and to participate in public life as faithful citizens of our country.

Archbishop Charles Chaput recently published a timely book
titled Render unto Caesar
on the subject of living our faith in the public sphere.
In it he writes,
“We have obligations as believers [in God].
We have duties as citizens.
We need to honor both, or we honor neither.”

Because even the wealth we render to Caesar – to the State – is gift from God,
everything in the temporal realm as well must be used according to His will.
As Americans, in 17 days we will face a decisive moment:
a day on which we exercise our civic duty
and have a voice in our nation’s future.

As Catholics living in the United States,
we have an obligation to approach this important responsibility
with deep faith and a commitment to advancing the kingdom of God.

In their 2007 document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,
the U. S. Bishops lay out the truths that guide us
as we discern our participation in political life.

As we heard from the Fathers of the Church, we reserve for God our consciences,
that innermost sanctuary within us where we behold God
and hear His voice calling us to obey His law – a law we did not create –
to love with all our hearts, to do good and avoid evil.

Living, acting, or voting according to our consciences
does not mean following a “good feeling,” or a hunch, or taking a poll.

Instead, it means desiring to embrace goodness and truth,
learning the truth of God about the issues we face
and the facts about our choices
prayerfully discerning the will of God for our lives
and making a sound and prudent judgment.

The obligation to enter into the political process with a well-formed conscience,
in this particular historical moment, means three things:
First, our consciences must be formed according to God’s law
through prayer, and study of the Scripture and teachings of the Church.
Every Catholic family should have a Bible and a Catechism, and read them often.
As Bp. Murry told us, priests have an obligation to teach the faith in our homilies.
We cannot live without the Word that comes from the mouth of God,
and which is revealed to us in Scripture and Tradition.

Secondly, we must know God’s truth regarding the issues we face
and the Church’s moral principles.
As the bishops write, “There are some things we must never do…
because they are always incompatible with the love of God and neighbor.”
These things we call “intrinsically evil acts,”
for they are evil in themselves, regardless of circumstances in which they occur.

We have a moral obligation to always pursue the good and avoid evil.

In our time, the bishops call to our attention that
“abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity.”
and, furthermore,
“direct threats to the sanctity and dignity of human life,
such as human cloning and destructive research on human embryos…
must always be opposed.”

There are many things that can broadly be called “life issues” –
genocide, , , poverty, health care.

What is more, there are certainly many issues that affect our nation,
as we face economic uncertainty
and as many young people are still fighting for freedom in far away places.

Yet, there is nothing so heinous as the
violation of the sanctity of a mother’s womb
the so called “mercy ” of the elderly,
or the creation and destruction of human persons for research.

Yes, there are many issues, but some are more significant than others.

We must avoid two temptations:
either to treat all issues with no moral distinction,
or to manipulate distinctions in order to justify ignoring the sanctity of life.

We must never forget that, as Pope John Paul II said,
“the common outcry…on behalf of human rights…
the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture –
is false and illusory if the right to life…
is not defended with the maximum determination.”

A unique threat to human life which we face now is a bill called the F.O.C.A.
Please read the insert in this week’s bulletin at Bishop Murry’s request.
and research the various candidates’ position on this legislation.

Finally, it is important to know where the candidates for both parties stand
on all the issues that face us as a nation.
It is simply not good enough to vote straight ticket because that’s what Grandpa did
or to vote without deliberation for one party
because the other has been previously disappointing.

God’s Word to us today…as well as the compelling situation we face…
as Catholics and as Americans…demands that we
know our faith…research our choices…and make sound moral judgments.

The choices we make next month will determine the course of our nation
and the kind of society we leave as an inheritance for our children.

By God’s grace, may it be a society where everyone…everyone…is loved!

Homily 5 October 2008 27th Sunday of the Year/Respect Life Sunday

When in the course of human events, it became necessary for the 13 colonies which formed the U.S.A. to separate themselves from the imperial power of Great Britain, the God-fearing gentlemen who met in Congress to form and lead the infant nation declared in writing their independence, the reasons for their declaration, and the grievances which precipitated it.

They declare also what they believed about the dignity of the human person: the self–evident truth that meant women are created by God and endowed with the inalienable right to life.

In the history of our nation, that truth has become much less self-evident for Americans – indeed for all people – and particularly in the last 35 years the respect due to human life has suffered numerous attacks.

In our nation, that which the founding fathers thought to be self-evident has been stripped of all legal and cultural support.

Today the Church observes Respect Life Sunday, as she calls to mind for all people of good will the inalienable right to Life and the Divine imperative to respect dignity of human person.

In his famous farewell address to the nation, George Washington remarked that religion and morality are “indispensable supports” to political prosperity.

With this observance of Right to Life Sunday, the Church is reminding all people of the absolute necessity to pray and labor in defense of the unquestionable sanctity of human life, for without a basic moral framework that recognizes dignity of the human person and of human life, prosperity is truly impossible.

Respect for life was at the foundation of our country’s formation; it remains at the core of the Church’s Social Justice teaching; and it must remain the fundamental law in our hearts.

Respect for life is not the limited purview of certain committees, lobby groups, or even camps within the church. God forbid I ever hear the disparaging phrase “those pro-lifers” again.

God is pro-life. His church is pro-life. To love life is not simply a Catholic position. It is fundamentally human. To fail to love life is to abandon the essence of Christianity and humanity.

Isaiah likens chosen people of Israel to a vineyard, cherished by the Lord – a labor of love, cultivated by the Lord and planted with choicest vines.

In the history of salvation the Lord established a covenant with His people, instructed them and cared for them, that they might know Him and serve Him in holiness. God mercifully tried again and again to draw His people to Himself. These things happened as preparation and image of a new and perfect covenant in Jesus Christ.
In the fullness of time, God sent His son into the vineyard to become man and to give His life on the Cross, that we might have eternal life.

Christ established Church as the sacrament and instrument of unity for all people. The Messiah rejected and crucified has become foundation of the Church.

Christ is Vineyard of God in its’ fullness. The Lord looks upon the Church with love and delights in the worship offered to Him and the service rendered to others in His name.

The Church possesses a great dignity. The members of the Mystical Body of Christ are called to embrace their identity as the Lord’s treasured vineyard and their vocation to bear fruit that will last.

In particular, we must bear fruit in defense of life. When God looks upon His Church we do not want Him to behold a pathetic harvest, influenced by the culture of . We must pray, labor and learn every day, that we may increase in holiness, bear fruit in the Lord’s vineyard, and preach with our words, and more importantly with our lives, the Gospel of Life.

The issues surrounding respect for life are numerous. We often hear the stories of men and women in our midst: child neglect, spousal abuse, poverty, genetic engineering, , and discrimination, ography and contraception.

A person of faith cannot help but cry out: What are we doing to ourselves?

Like the servants sent into vineyard, Christ sends people into the world and we destroy their lives.
As if all that was not enough evil, then there are the even more heinous crimes against life.

Euthanasia treats the elderly and sick as disposable commodities to be thrown away when no longer useful like a pen that runs out of ink. Contrary to this, the Church says your dignity is not based on what you produce but who you are as people created and loved by God.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research presumes to create human embryos or to use existing ones gained from other illicit procedures, and then to kill these viable human persons and use them for research. This practice is all the more ridiculous given that no scientific benefit has come from it and great advances have been made from morally acceptable research on cells from umbilical cord and skin. Human life is not a laboratory experiment.

Finally, even though most Americans oppose abortion, or perhaps in limited cases
support it, misguided politicians and the media continue to try to convince us that it is good for us.

A bill in process in Washington called the Freedom of Choice Act obliterated gains in legal protection of life of the last 35 years. It defines not life but abortion as a ‘fundamental right,” eliminates parental notification, eliminates parental notification, and eliminates laws protecting women for unsafe medical clinics.
I can’t begin to describe the pain man and women in our world suffer because of abortion. The loss of 45 million lives and the devastating results in countless broken lives because of abortion demand that we oppose this kind of legislation.
Call your Senator or Representative, and ask them to defend life on your behalf.
“Freedom of Choice” is more than an interesting title. Pope Benedict XVI…speech on the South Lawn of the White House during his visit to the U. S. in April…“Preservation of Freedom calls for cultivation of virtue.”
We cannot enjoy real freedom without virtue, without love for life.

We who have come to know the love of Christ are compelled by our faith to be a voice for the old, sick, poor, and unborn. We are called, empowered and compelled by the grace of Christ to pray, speak out, write letters…all in defense of human life…that we may bear fruit that will truly last.