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.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Homily Christmas 2008

Throughout the four weeks of Advent, the children of our parish…
in children’s choir performances and at school Masses…
have been singing a beautiful song called
The Whole World is Waiting for Love.

The lyrics include…
We’re waiting for Jesus like Mary, we’re waiting for Jesus the Lord.
We’re laying a manger for Mary.
We’re making it lovely…for Jesus the Lord.
Come down, Lord Jesus! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
The whole world is waiting for love…

We have indeed been waiting…
our hearts filled with wonder, praise, and eager expectation.

We have waited with Mary,
who was chosen from the beginning of time
to be the virgin mother of the Son of God
and whose assent of faith and docility to God’s will
allowed the mystery of the Incarnation
of the Word of God in human flesh to unfold.

We have waited with the people of Israel,
who longed with aching hearts for the Messiah,
whom the prophets foretold for countless generations.
In the prophetic history of the ancient Hebrew people…
the Messiah is called at once the Mighty God and the Prince of Peace.
He is likened to a shepherd who gathers his lambs in His arms
and draws His flock close to His heart.
On the mountain of the Lord envisioned by Isaiah,
the Messiah will bring justice and peace,
so that enemies become companions
and harmony is the life-blood of the whole land.

What the children’s song proclaims in simple words
is precisely the same as the compelling message of the prophets:
the whole world has been waiting for love –
the love of God incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ,
the redeemer of the world.

From time immemorial, since the moment of the original sin,
when Adam and Eve first turned from the perfection God planned for them,
to grasp for themselves at what they thought was best,
humankind has been in search of meaning and value in life
and has longed to be satisfied with true and lasting love.

The whole world has been waiting for love.

At last, it has come to pass that God, Who is the very essence of Love in Himself,
has entered our world as an infant.

In this tender scene, Mary,
who has born the Christ child in her womb with love beyond all telling,
now at one moment gazes into the eyes of her precious little boy
beholds her Messiah and Lord, whom she longed to see
and kisses the face of the mighty God.

The whole world has indeed waited for love, and Love Himself has come!
Jesus Christ is born!

At long last, humankind has encountered
the satisfaction for the deepest yearnings of human souls:
Jesus Christ, the answer to which every human heart is the question!

In our time…in so many ways…the whole world is still waiting for love.

Selfishness has a mighty grip on our society
and so we are blinded to the dignity of human life
the sanctity of Marriage
and the values and virtues proper to the family.

Lust and greed have captivated many, so overwhelmingly,
that they cannot perceive the gifts available to us in the life of the Church
and the unsurpassable worth of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Convenience, material possessions, and worldly success
are worshipped in place of God, who has made everything from nothing,
and without whom none of what we grasp at would even exist.
The whole world is very much indeed still waiting for love…
waiting for authentic and lasting love to come and take root in human hearts
that we might be transfixed by divine grace
made docile to the will of God
and transformed into people of truth, self-sacrifice, and holiness.

The world in which we live desperately needs the love of God
to continually become incarnate in human lives.

For this great mystery to unfold, the world needs our love as well.
Peace in our world and the salvation of souls
depend upon our self-sacrifice,
our purifying of our lives and emptying of our selfish desires,
in order that we might become instruments of God’s grace.

The glory of Christmas gives us hope…
hope in Jesus Christ…the savior who is born for us today…
and people of hope live differently than the rest of the world.
We are people of hope, who pray unceasingly, love passionately,
and find in the Word of God the blueprint for our lives.

The whole world is waiting for our love,
the love of people who have come to know Jesus
and who are not afraid to share Him with the world.

This Christmas, receive the Lord Jesus into your life more deeply than ever.

If the Lord is touching your heart for the first time this Christmas,
take the first steps:
join us every Sunday for Mass,
spend tine in prayer each day,
read your Bible and begin to study the Catechism.
Allow the truth and love of Jesus to become the pattern of your life.

If you are farther along on your journey of faith, this Christmas go deeper:
read some new Church documents,
increase your daily time in prayer
look for ways to reach out and serve those in need
seize every opportunity to share in the life of the parish.

All of this may mean you have to make some changes in your lives,
and change is scary and disconcerting.
Yet, let us not forget the exhortation of Cardinal Newman:
“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”
In order that we might truly have life, we must experience conversion in our lives.

The whole world is waiting for love – first, the love of God
and also the witness of your love as people who have hope in Jesus Christ.

Open your hearts to allow Christ to be conceived within you,
Christ, whose presence brings hope, and whose love brings peace.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Homily Gaudete Sunday 14 December 2008

About half-way through my seminary studies,
I had the opportunity to spend a week of retreat at Saint Michael’s Abbey
an abbey of Norbertine fathers and brothers in Orange County, CA.

While I was there, I experienced the schedule of the Norbertine canons,
including going to bed at 9:00 pm and rising at 5:00 am for prayer.

Given that I am not naturally a morning person, it was surely penitential!

At the same time it was a beautiful experience
of entering – briefly – into the hidden life of religious priests and brothers
where prayer is a constant routine which gives meaning to their lives.

At every hour of every day…somewhere in the world…priests, brothers and nuns
are praying the prayer of the Church called the “Liturgy of the Hours.”
Religious men and women pray according to an established schedule –
in the morning, the daytime, the evening, and at night –
in order to sanctify the hours of the day by their offering of prayer
and so that there arises before the throne of God
a continual sacrifice of praise, pleasing to the Lord.

Even here in Canton, Ohio, we are blessed to have Sancta Clara Monastery,
where the Poor Clare Sisters spend their days offering prayers
for the intentions of the Church,
for our community, and for people throughout the world.
Diocesan priests pray the same prayers,
but not at such strict times and not so early in the morning!

I once saw a prayer book that contained a one-dimensional map of the globe,
complete with the time zones,
and a listing of selected cities where Mass is celebrated at each hour.

It was a reminder of the beauty and constancy of the Eucharist:
at every hour of every day, somewhere there is a priest celebrating Mass.
that Jesus is always present to His people as they gather at the holy altar.

According to the third Eucharistic Prayer:
“Father…From generation to generation, you gather a people to yourself,
so that from the rising of the sun to its setting
a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name.”

The Church indeed follows faithfully the exhortation of Saint Paul
to “pray without ceasing.”

We rejoice heartily in the abundance of graces that flow from the Church’s prayer
and in all things we give thanks, for this is the will of God.

The Liturgy of the Hours is not only for clergy and religious,
but is truly available to all people in the Church.
I hope you will join us Sunday evening at 4:00 as we pray Vespers together.

Saint Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is filled with hope and encouragement
for the new, young church community at Thessalonica.

Paul is reminding the recent converts of the abundance of gifts
they have received from the hand of the Lord, as the members of His body.
He is exhorting them to appreciate what they have,
to give thanks in everything, to pray without ceasing,
and to live to the fullest extent their new life as baptized Christians.

Christian discipleship involves looking forward
to the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation…the coming of the Lord in glory…
and living in constant readiness for his appearance.

Celebrating Advent…indeed the whole reality of being Christian…
is not an idle waiting
but an experience of living in hope of the coming of the Lord
and doing our part to make Christ's kingdom come alive in our world…
here and now…in every aspect of our human existence.

Christian believers are people of hope, and, as Pope Benedict has written,
people of hope live differently!

Absolutely essential to fulfilling the Christian life
is the call to pray without ceasing.
If we are to participate in the Church’s mission
to bring Jesus into every heart and every human endeavor,
then we, too, must sanctify the hours of every day with our prayers.
Prayer is most fundamentally a conversation with God,
wherein we share with Him our thoughts and cares,
and, more importantly, listen intently to His voice.

We need this constant conversation with God,
that we might come to know His will, experience the strength of His grace,
and be led by Him on our journey of faith.

Liturgy is the public prayer of the Church,
celebrated by the whole community,
according to established norms and traditions.

Prayer also takes the form of devotions:
the Rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Novenas, Stations of the Cross…

Reading sacred scripture or the writings of the saints
is also an experience of praying, for God’s Word is revealed in sacred texts.

Prayer does not have to include written or spoken words,
and often the most beautiful prayer
is the quiet moments we spend with the Lord…
before the Tabernacle or in a special place at home.

However you pray, what is most important
is setting aside substantial time each day for the Lord
to praise God every morning and thank Him every night.

If you were to give your family no other gift this Christmas
than to lead them in daily prayers
your gift would surpass our human capacity to measure.

In prayer we hear God’s voice, calling us to follow after Him with rejoicing.
And so we heed the exhortation of the Apostle Paul:
Pray without ceasing!
In all things give thanks!

This Advent and always…
allow the presence and love of God to penetrate the depths of your heart in prayer,
and draw you into intimate union with Him,
the One in whom alone our souls rejoice!