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, March 08, 2009

Homily Second Sunday of Lent Year B 8 March 2009

As our Lenten journey continues, we seize the opportunity this season provides
to deepen our friendship with God.

By sincere prayer and self-denial we purify our hearts and minds,
recalling that the Scriptures teach us to prefer nothing to the love of God.

In response to the innate human recognition of the presence of the divine
we are called to render worship to God.

Everything we have is from the Creator
and we owe Him the first fruits of our lives, as Abel knew so well.

God asks of us that we sacrifice our very best for Him,
as He asked Abraham to be willing to offer His own son.

The very purpose of the Exodus, as God instructed Moses to plead with Pharaoh,
was that His people be released from
so they could go out into the desert and worship Him.

Divine worship is the goal of our lives, toward which all our activity is directed,
the source of divine blessing
and the ultimate purpose of our human existence.

The Third Commandment God revealed to Moses is
“Keep holy the Sabbath day.”
The Lord’s Day, on which God rested from His labors in creating the world,
was to be for all humanity a day of rest and a day of worship.

In the fullness of time, the Son of God endured His passion and rose again in glory.
The saving action of Jesus fulfilled the old law and the old covenant,
and thus the first day of the week, the Day of Resurrection
is the new sacred day, the day of salvation for all people.

Sadly, our society has become detached from any semblance of Christian –
even religious – roots.

When an increasing number of people see Sunday as just another day,
or perhaps unique for the free time allowed for golf and shopping,
Christians see Sunday as a day dedicated to God.

The unique sacredness of Sunday has a two-fold meaning.

First, Sunday is a day set aside for worship and prayer.
The obligation to attend Sunday Mass is part of the duty we accept as Catholics
because to be a member of Christ’s body
demands that we gather to render Him praise and thanksgiving
on the day of the Resurrection.

For various reasons – mis-placed priorities, laziness, lack of understanding –
65 percent of Catholics do not attend Mass every Sunday.

It does not even cross most people’s minds that this is a problem.
Unfortunately, many parents who faithfully bring their children to PSR
either come to Mass without them during that time
or use PSR as free babysitting while they go out for coffee.

As a result, many families never attend Mass together
and many young people never have the experience of the Eucharist.

A family cannot be truly healthy and holy without Sunday Mass.
Our PSR programs, and even our SMS religion classes, can only do so much good
if the children have no experience of the Sacraments.

Pass along courageously to your friends who are not here
an invitation to prioritize attending Mass every Sunday as a family.

We cannot afford to forget that deliberately missing Sunday Mass is a mortal sin,
because refusing the gift of the Mass separates us from God.
Of course, sickness, family emergencies, and other serious reasons are valid.

Making the commitment to observe Sunday as a sacred day dedicated to God
by attending Sunday Mass is a counter-cultural choice.

Our society places sports, shopping, and sleeping in above God.
It is unacceptable for the Christian to give in to this worldly temptation
and neglect placing God above all things.

Rather, we are called to make a stand for the Lord and the Church.

I suspect if all the Catholic parents
collectively refused to send their children to Sunday morning practices,
there would be enough missing Catholics to empty the benches
and the coaches would find a different time.
Besides, as healthy and enjoyable as sports are,
a relationship with Jesus will serve our young people much better in life.

The proper living out of our faith and the continued growth of our society
demand that we cease giving in to what everyone tells us we must do
and learn to obey God alone.

After all, Jesus did die on the Cross for us.
Could not all people give Him one morning a week?!

For those who faithfully attend Mass, how are we prepared and disposed?

Do we always prepare our bodies for the Lord
by observing the one hour fast before Communion?

Do we prepare our souls by going to confession if we are aware of mortal sins
and by pausing in prayer before Mass to prepare spiritually?

Or do we rush in at the last minute, or during the readings,
neglectful of the significance of the awesome mysteries we are approaching,
and hastily meeting a mere obligation?

We are called to give our whole being to the celebration of these sacred mysteries,
in which the paschal mystery is made present, Jesus enters our souls,
and the grace of God is poured out in abundance.

Secondly, Sunday is a day of rest…not idle wasting of time…
but healthy recreation that refreshes our minds and bodies.

Sunday rest implies that it is a day for family gatherings and spending time at home.

The community of the family needs to be nurtured and tended with care,
like a tiny sapling needs to be fertilized, watered, and pruned.
The family is fertilized with recreation and the enjoyment of each other’s company,
watered with the grace of common prayer and Scripture reading
and pruned of all sinful and worldly influences
so that holiness may reign in the household.

Saint Paul teaches us today that God did not spare His own Son,
but handed Him over for us all, that we might have eternal life.
Who, then, are we to deny anything of this great and loving God?

To Him who spared not His own beloved Son we owe our lives and our salvation.
Can we not give Him our Sundays?!

In this holy season of Lent, may we resolve to keep Sunday holy,
set apart in our schedules as a day dedicated to God and family.
In this we will find a source of balance and strength
essential to living truly holy and fulfilling lives, pleasing to the Lord.

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