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.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Homily Solemnity of Christ the King 2008

[Personal story relating to goats...]

Goats are rather self-sufficient animals, preferring the higher ground for eating,
seldom remaining in one place for long,
and causing dissension by their ting temperament.

In stark contrast, sheep enjoy lush, green pastures and peaceful streams,
and they are content to remain for lengths of time,
truly appreciating their environment and their nourishment.

Sheep are docile, that is, easily cared for, taught and trained,
and they happily wait upon the will of the shepherd.
They are gentle and affectionate creatures,
which enjoy still waters and naturally avoid situations that cause agitation.

As the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King,
we hear the words of Holy Scripture
calling us to contemplate the kingship of Christ
and its implications for our lives.

The Gospel for today’s feast is the image of the great and final judgment.

Using an image that resonates with the nomadic and rural people of his time,
that of a shepherd separating sheep from goats
Jesus describes the judgment he will make
as king of heaven and earth.

The Lord refers to sinners as goats
because their vices resemble the behavior of goats:
belligerence, pride, mean-spiritedness toward other creatures.

Most sin can be traced back to the common roots of pride and self-absorption.

the tendency toward sin that is in all of us because of Adam’s fault…
leads people to think highly of themselves,
and to seek their own way and their own personal satisfaction,
all the while ignoring the needs of others.
Jesus definitively condemns the self-centered and destructive behaviors
of those on the left…
those who spend all their time, energy and resources on themselves
darting about from one fanciful notion to another
and never pausing to recognize the needs of the others in their midst
like the goats who browse the fields but never
and who seek the best for themselves while ignoring the flock.

He also condemns the prideful ignorance that resembles the pride of goats,
especially those who cause constant turmoil within families and workplaces
and dissent within the Church,
by always believing they know better, asserting their flawed ideas,
and pouting if they are not agreed with and acclaimed.

Men and women who are far from the heart of Christ and unworthy of His promises
bring their punishment upon themselves
by their self-promotion, pride,
and negligence toward fellow human persons.

The virtues of the blessed ones, who are judged worthy of eternal life,
are compared with good behaviors of the sheep beloved by the shepherd.

The Lord commends the virtue of those on the right…
whose lives were characterized by self-sacrifice and kindness toward others
and who sought to bring healing and aid rather than division and turmoil.

Even though we are far removed from the culture of nomadic shepherds,
we must not fail to grasp the meaning and value of this parable,
for by these same standards we, too will be judged.

The essential difference between the blessed and the condemned…
is the manner in which they have beheld the startling majesty
of Christ the King.

To accept the kingship of Jesus Christ means to recognize
that He reveals His person in the person of others.
Jesus the Good Shepherd is revealed in the teaching of the pastors of the Church.
The person of Christ the Suffering Servant is revealed in the poor and needy,
whom we are called to serve and care for always.

To accept the kingship of Christ also means to recognize and revere His humility,
His humble submission to the will of God…even unto …
and to imitate the humility of Jesus
by our submission…our placing ourselves under the mission…
of God and of the Church.

The Kingship of Jesus Christ is perfected only in the glory of Heaven.

Yet, it is the mission of the Church on earth to bring about the salvation of souls
and to establish the Kingdom in the hearts of men and women.

Today’s feast raises our awareness that our time on earth is not a waiting room,
not an experience of passing time and enjoying life’s available pleasures.
We are caught up in the mission of the Church
and called to contribute to the formation of the Kingdom.

Our acceptance or neglect of this profound invitation from God
most certainly has real and eternal consequences.

We will be judged on whether or not we have recognized the startling majesty of J. C.,
on whether or not we have seen Him in those who suffer
and met their needs with joyful love
on whether or not we have embraced the opportunity to imitate His humility
placing our desires aside in order to enter into the work of the Church:
to teach, to sanctify, to serve in love.

Every day we are faced with the choice to be obstinate and contentious goats
or docile and obedient sheep.
On those choices we will be judged
and nothing less than our eternal inheritance is on the line.

Christ invites us today to turn our backs on the self-serving road to perdition
and choose the road that leads to glory.

Our King invites us to enjoy the blessedness prepared by our Father…
a banquet of eternal life,
a kingdom of justice, love and peace.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Homily Dedication of Basilica of Saint John Lateran 9 November 2008

One day around the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries…
while he gazed intently at the crucifix in the Church of San Damiano in Assisi,
lost in contemplation of his life’s struggles, and the mysteries of God,
Saint Francis heard the voice of Christ call to him:
“Francis, rebuild my Church!”

Taking the Lord quite literally, Francis, without permission,
sold goods from his father’s warehouse
to pay for repairs to the church building.
Needless to say, his father was quite upset and confronted Francis.
He even disowned him for what he had done.

Francis, for his part, renounced his father’s wealth,
went before the bishop in the middle of the town square,
stripped himself of all his clothes,
and in this dramatic moment gave his whole life to Christ and the Church.

As he left behind his father’s wealth and embraced poverty,
Francis drew closer to Christ and began to understand His words:
He was not calling Francis to repair the building,
but to spend his life building up the Mystical Body of Christ.

Today, as we celebrate the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran,
we are mindful of these two meanings of the word “church”
and how both of them carry great significance for us.
First of all, our church buildings are significant to us:
They are works of art, fashioned by our ancestors, for the glory of God.
They are the sacred places where God dwells in the Blessed Sacrament.
They are the gathering places of the worshipping community
and the sanctuaries where the mysteries of our faith are celebrated.
They stand as monuments of faith and houses of prayer for the people of God.

It has been widely publicized that our diocese is undergoing a process of study
in preparation for a re-ordering of our parishes and schools.
In the end, some parish communities will have to give up their churches,
or combine for worship with another parish.
Priests and bishops are sensitive to the fact that the buildings…
seemingly insignificant…
in fact mean a great deal to the people
who have called them home for generations.

Today we honor one particular church building:
the Basilica in Rome dedicated to Saint John the Baptist,
on the site of the ancient royal palace of the Laterani Family.

Of the four major basilicas in Rome, Saint Peter’s is the most widely recognized,
and yet Saint John Lateran remains the most significant

It is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome…where the pope is bishop…
as Saint Columba is the cathedral of the Youngstown diocese.

As the Pope’s cathedral, Saint John Lateran stands as a sign
of the love and union shared between all Catholics and the Holy Father.
It is known as the “mother of all churches.”

In our parish in Canton, Ohio, our first church building was built 50 years ago
and our current church was built in the Year of the Great Jubilee.
We remember that the existence of our church depends historically
on the establishment of the Diocese of Rome
and the subsequent spreading of the faith from the See of Peter.
In fact, our first bishop traced his sacramental lineage to a cardinal who lived in Rome.

So, today, we also celebrate our own parish church,
where we gather each Sunday for worship
and where we encounter the person of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Like Jesus in today’s Gospel, we ought to have passion about this place of prayer,
and zeal for this house of God should consume us.
For it is holy ground, and the meeting place of Heaven and earth.

Our attitude about our church should be one of respect and reverence.
A church should be quiet, so that people are able to pray
freely and without disturbance, any time of day.
It is not a place to chew gum, carry on idle conversation, or appear immodestly.
We should remember that Jesus is present in the Tabernacle
and we should show him due honor.

Secondly, the “Church” is the Body of Christ
and today’s feast draws our attention to our high calling
to build up Christ's body by faithful fulfillment of our own vocations.

The Church…throughout the world and down through the centuries…
is the temple built of living stones,
established by the Lord on the foundation of the Apostles,
with Jesus Christ Himself as the capstone.

Each one of us has a unique role in the mission of Christ to build His Church.
As Jesus spoke to Francis centuries ago, He speaks to each one of us:
“Build my Church!”

The future of the Church depends on holy families,
and forming a holy family requires a tremendous amount of work
and a constant commitment to prioritizing our lives
so that God always has first place.

We all build up the Church within our own lives
by a life of constant, intimate prayer with God, Mary, and the saints.

In these days, many people express dismay at the situation of the world
and of our own nation.
Our Catholic Christian values are under attack.
Now is the time to pray more fervently, love more deeply,
and never give up on what matters most.
The future of the Church requires our intense involvement in her sacred work.
The Church is devoted to the person of Christ in the Eucharist,
and dedicated to working for justice for every human person.
The building up of the Church and the spreading of the Gospel message of Jesus
depend upon us and our posterity.

When ancient church buildings were constructed, they took decades to complete.
Workers died in dangerous conditions.
They labored for a lifetime on a project they did not begin
and would not see completed.
They followed plans they did not create.
They were committed to a project that was not of their own design.

So, too, we are committed to an enterprise begun long ago by Jesus
which will last for ages to come.
The Church of Christ is not our own and we did not create it.
The plans are given to us in the Scriptures and the Catechism.
Serving the Church can be dangerous, and even costs some people their lives.

The Church is the sacrament of unity and the instrument of salvation for all people,
and, despite the challenges and sorrows, to serve and to build up the Church
is an act of love which brings the greatest joy and peace.

The psalms present the question:
“Once the foundations have been destroyed, what can the just do?”
In a time when it seems as though our foundations are being shaken,
Christ offers us a compelling answer to this question.
He looks us in the eye and says: “rebuild my Church!”