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, April 19, 2009

Homily Divine Mercy Sunday 2009

Currently on television there is a commercial for the new KIA ,
which features a city filled with rats playing on wheels –
the kind one normally finds inside of cages.
The rats are peddling a rapidly as they can, the wheels are spinning,
but they are obviously going nowhere very fast.

Up to an intersection in the road rolls a sporty little car,
filled with joyful rats dancing to a blasting stereo.

The theme displayed on screen at the end of the spot is:
“KIA Soul: A new way to roll.”

This commercial is a silly and exaggerated portrayal of the impossible…
rats, at least in my limited experience, do not drive cars and play stereos.

Like many marketing ploys, the implicit message is that
is that this new car will transform the unfulfilling “rat-race” of ordinary life
into a happier and brighter way of living.

The world tells us that stylish products will make us happy and fulfilled.

We know better, of course.
A stylish car called “Soul” will never make us happy, and its allure passes quickly.
It is when our human souls are pure, when they are free of sin and devoted to God,
that true peace and fulfillment are found.
The nourishment on which our souls depend is above all, the Holy Eucharist.

In the Eucharist we find a reality that takes us beyond the material realm,
a gift that infuses nourishment, life and vigor to human existence
a sacrament that reveals the total love and grace of Christ,
who gives Himself – His Body and – as food for our souls.

The Eucharist opens our minds and souls, truly every aspect of our human lives,
to a Eucharistic life, to a new, more vibrant, and complete way of living.

To truly live a Eucharistic way of life,
we must first recognize and appreciate the unique gift of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is a meeting of persons: us and the person of Jesus Christ,
an encounter with the divine that is necessarily intimate and effective.
The Eucharist is nothing ordinary…not mere bread and wine…
but the Body and , soul and divinity, of the Son of God…
who died on the Cross and has risen from the .

Once we have truly come to see what the Eucharist truly is,
then we are called to respond by spending time with Jesus in prayer
and by living as Eucharistic people, who love others with the love of Jesus.

Perhaps the Eucharist has never touched you this way.
Perhaps it has never brought you to tears…brought you to your knees…
reduced you to awe and wonder…at the gift of the Altar!
Perhaps Mass is a beautiful experience of prayer, with music that moves your spirit,
but the experience only goes that deep and no farther.
In such a place along the spiritual journey, we find Thomas,
who, in today’s Gospel, sees Jesus,
but refuses to believe all that is true about Him…that He is risen…
until he touches the nail and spear marks for himself.

Jesus does not reject Thomas in his doubt, but instead calls him closer to Himself,
and invites him, “Come, take a look…understand…and believe.”

So, too, Jesus meets us in our lack of understanding,
and He calls us to Himself, longing for us to connect with Him,
to truly believe…rejoice in His presence …and then to live a new life.

Anything less than falling in love with Jesus and living a totally Eucharistic life
means that we are spinning in emptiness and going nowhere.

Today Jesus invites us to be so close to Him that we see His wounds…
to be washed in the which poured forth from those wounds…
and to find in the Holy Eucharist the nourishment for our souls
that will transform ordinary life into unsurpassable joy.

(4:00 Mass)
It is into this Eucharistic life that Jesus tonight welcomes Annie Winkhart
the first of many children in our parish to receive First Communion this year.

And into the new and glorious life of the Sacraments we welcome Megan Anne,
whom with her family we now invite to the font for Baptism.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Homily Easter Sunday 2009

Click on title for audio.

Christ is risen! Indeed He risen! Alleluia!

In the Resurrection of Jesus Christ the Church exults in glory,
the whole earth rejoices in shining splendor,
and the hearts of all believers resound with praise!

In the Resurrection of Christ, is put to ; life is given new meaning;
those who once were captured by sin and lost in darkness
are now bathed in splendid light
and washed clean in the sacramental life of the Church
which flowed from the pierced side
of the Crucified and now Risen savior!

O joy of joys! O mystery of mysteries! O solemnity of solemnities!
This is truly the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Our Catholic celebration of the Paschal Mystery began with Holy Thursday,
commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus on the eve of His Passion,
which, as a devout Jew, He celebrated in the context of the Passover.
The moment in which He instituted the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Priesthood
was also for Him a celebration of God’s gracious will for His people Israel,
as He delivered them from slavery in Egypt.

The Passover is celebrated by eating a meal of lamb, bitter herds,
and unleavened bread.
Pious Jews discard all leavened bread and eat only unleavened bread for seven days,
because it is said that their ancestors left Egypt in such haste,
that there was no time even for the bread to rise.

Also, in the ancient world, yeast was a proverbial symbol of evil and corruption,
because its mysterious action of making bread rise
had a sinister element about it.

So, in times of purification and celebration,
Jews search out and discard all yeast and bread that has undergone leavening.

As we rejoice in the glorious resurrection of Christ, the Paschal Lamb of God,
who was sacrificed, and who has risen triumphant from the grave,
we consider as Christians the meaning of this unleavened bread.

Saint Paul writes about the spiritual meaning of leavening to the Corinthians,
in response to disorder and inconsistencies in the Church at Corinth,
at a time when public sinners were corrupting the community.

He challenges the faithful there to discard everything that spoils the community,
all that is evil and distracts the focus of believers away from Christ.

On this most sacred of all mornings, we rejoice in the Passover of the Lamb of God,
that holy night when we were saved not from the oppression of earthly rulers
but from slavery to the corruption of sin.
On this morning filled with profundity and awash in brilliance,
we consider how the old leaven of sin gives way to new life in the Risen Christ.
The Resurrection of Jesus transforms life and gives it new meaning.
Because Jesus rose from the , we are filled with hope
and life for us who believe is different from the way the rest of the world lives.

Experiencing the new life that Christ brings by His Passion and Resurrection
necessarily demands radical change…
that is…change at the root and the core of life…
and complete conversion…
turning deliberately away from sin and toward the Risen Christ.
Baptism in the early Church included a ritual that expressed this total conversion:
catechumens physically turned westward and denounced Satan
and then turned toward the East…toward the rising Sun and new life…
and professed faith in the Risen Jesus.

Conversion and embracing new life in Christ, as Saint Paul writes,
means searching out and purging all the old leaven of corruption and sin
and consuming the unleavened…uncorrupted…bread of sincerity and truth.

For the universal Church, this purification sometimes means disciplining
flagrant public sinners and wayward Church institutions
whose inconsistency confuses and corrupts.

While our president and civil leaders deserve respect because of their office,
their consistent pattern of actively promoting policies that attack human life
is in opposition to the values of the Gospel of Jesus
and therefore is incompatible with the mission of the Church.
When tolerance devolves into indifference
and when exceptions to the Gospel are made for political expediency
one ounce of old leaven corrupts the entire batch.

Those who have faith, and especially those who lead in faith,
have the responsibility to clarify and to make distinctions,
and at times…painfully…this means cutting off from ecclesial support
those who divide and corrupt the community of faith.

For us personally, this purification means searching out and discarding
every trace of the old leaven of corruption and sin.

The agonizing self-gift of Jesus on the Cross and the glory of His resurrection
speak eloquently to us a message of true love and of new life
and compel us to respond in a life of consistency and dedication to Christ.

In the Letter to the Corinthians, Paul calls us to consistency and purity of heart.

We are called as Christians made new in the light of Christ
to empty ourselves of sinful ways
to reject anything that might lead us away from God
and to clothe ourselves in the life of Christ revealed to us in the Church.

This means following God’s plan for human life, love, and relationship,
spending time each day in quiet prayer and attending weekly Mass
studying the faith and living it in vibrant witness to Christ
and reaching out to others as the hands and feet of Jesus in our world.
This new life made possible in the Resurrection is shared by all who believe
and is offered to all human persons.
Thus, we are called to follow Christ as the exemplar of Christian life,
and to share that life with those whom we meet.

Just as a tiny bit of fresh yeast, which for us today is no longer sinister,
can leaven a whole loaf of bread,
so the life of one Christian soul can effect and transform many.

As we come forward to receive the pure, unleavened, Bread of Life,
the Body of Jesus Christ,
may we resolve to purge ourselves of the old leaven of sin
and embrace the challenge to be pure leaven in the midst of the world,
calling all people to sincerity and truth.

Praised be to the risen Christ! Now and forever!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Homily Good Friday 2009

Click on title for audio.

The mystery of the Lord’s Passion is too overwhelming to consider all at once,
and tonight we pause only at the trial of Jesus,
as the Lord of Life is brought before Pilate and condemned to the Cross.

Frustrated by the -thirsty crowds and jealous, power-hungry High Priests,
Pilate enters the Praetorium and summons Jesus, asking
“Are you the King of the Jews?”

Are you the King of this angry mob?
Are you a revolutionary threatening Roman authority?
Your own people condemns you. But what have you done?

Jesus calmly and unnervingly answers:
“My kingdom is not of this world.
If my kingdom did belong this world, my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”

Pilate, not understanding Jesus at all, and forced to put a label on Him, asks again:
“So, then, you are a king?”

Adding to Pilate’s confusion, Jesus responds:
“You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world: to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate finally betrays his frustration, and the emptiness of his existence, as he asks:
“But what is truth?”

Jesus has come to testify to the truth,
but Pilate has lost all perception of truth and is absorbed in his selfish concerns.

Pilate is concerned merely about worldly matters, and most of all,
about maintaining his own reputation as a representative of Caesar
responsible for squelching rebellion in the province of Judea.

And so, when He encounters Jesus the Christ, Son of God and Savior of the world,
he is perhaps struck by Jesus’ unique presence
but is unable to grasp the reality of the One who stands before him.

This meeting of Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate
is much like the encounter of Jesus Christ and our contemporary world,
which has devolved to such an extent
that it now asks the same pathetic question
that passed the lips of Pilate: “But what is truth?”

Like Pilate, minds are so warped that they can no longer be penetrated by truth.

Thus, reality is distorted: truth seems ugly and burdensome, while evil seems good
and for many around us the voice of God does not resonate in their hearts.

Our world is affected by an anti-establishment tendency,
and a pronounced lack of respect for authority:
the respect due to parents by their children…and also for teachers
the respect due to civil authority and law
the respect due to priests, bishops and the Holy Father
the truths of the faith, and the laws governing the Church.

Our society and our Church suffer greatly from indifferentism:
we are expected to go along with politically correct ways of thinking,
that every “religion” and “lifestyle” is as good as another.

We are oppressed as well by the dictatorship of relativism:
in society nothing is recognized as definitive
truth, we are told, is what we each fabricate or what feels good
and everyone’s ultimate goal is the satisfaction of one’s own ego and desires.

The authentic beauty of Marriage, Priesthood, human uality, the dignity of life
are distorted beyond recognition by academia and the media.

All this combines to create an atmosphere of darkness
in which vast numbers of people are the authors of their own reality.
We stand in desperation and are reduced to asking: “What is truth?”

In the midst of all this, stands the Cross.
Like a single shining lighthouse seen from a broken ship in storm-tossed sea,
the Cross gives hope to a confused and fractured world.

Jesus has come to testify to the truth, and His greatest testimony is His Passion.
The agony of the Cross testifies to the absolute value of the Gospel.
Jesus Christ is the truth...and the way…and the life!

As He promised, Jesus sent to Holy Spirit precisely to lead the Church into all truth.
Thus, the prophetic voice of Christ is heard in His Holy Catholic Church,
as the fullness of His truth resounds in the midst of the world
and yet the world still stammers: “What is truth?”

Jesus says to Pilate…and to us today…
“The one who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

On the other hand, the one who dismisses the voice of Christ and the Church
is living a lie and will be handed over to the governor of .

This is why Christ came into the world…and this is why we have been baptized…
to testify to the truth…by our words, our choices, and our example.

The truth which the world spurns is the defining reason for our existence.

It is time for all the disciples of Christ to be counter-cultural:

to boldly say “No, thank you!”
to the false values and lies of the world, the flesh, and the Devil
to greed, , indifference toward those in need,
and a mentality that s life

and to say instead “Yes!” to the truth of Jesus Christ
who died on the Cross for our salvation.
At last, from the pulpit of the Cross, Jesus cries out:
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!”

Jesus is .
For us and because of our sins he has died.
For Him and for His truth we must live.

O Lord Jesus Crucified, have mercy on us!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Palm Sunday 2009

Click on title for audio.

Palm Sunday 2009

Beginning today, the Church gathers in great cathedrals and country chapels
to commemorate the holiest week in all of human history
a week that begins in triumph…and ends in agony.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the loud cries of acclamation and shouts of joy
of the great crowd of people who welcomed Him as their king.

All the while, He knew that, in just four short days,
that same crowd would cry out…no longer “Hosanna!”...but “Crucify Him!”

Triumph of a merely human kind takes place today as crowds revel and rejoice.

But all that must give way to the Cross,
so that the Savior might display to the world the real meaning of triumph:
by His wounds we are healed…in His Passion love truly triumphs.

Today the Church throughout the world contemplates the scene at Calvary.

For us who believe in and love Jesus, the Cross stands as the model of perfect love.

The Cross is also a compelling challenge to us:
if we take the Cross of Jesus seriously…
we see in it just how much we are loved by God
and …at the same…the love we are called to imitate as his disciples.

Seeing how much God loves us…even unto death…
can we confidently say that we have always striven to love
as passionately as our Savior?

From the pulpit of Cross Jesus challenges us:
this is love…this is your vocation…this is how you must love
if you are to enjoy life to the fullest and belong to me forever.

As weak human persons, we do not ever want to be challenged.
Complacency is easy. Comfort is desirable. Resisting change is our pathetic ideal.

Each of us is in a different place on our journey of faith.
Many of us have been Catholics our whole lives and take the faith for granted.
Some of us gathered here today are preparing for Baptism.
The vibrancy and zeal of converts reminds us of what we have, right in our midst.

At Easter, our newly baptized will receive the Eucharist with us for the first time.
As you prepare for this holy Sacrament, consider the sacredness of the Eucharist.

In the Mass, we receive the same broken Body and poured out Blood
of the same Jesus who was crucified for our salvation.
The Passion of Jesus is re-presented for us in every Mass.
The Mass is not a re-enactment of the Last Supper
but an experience of being drawn into the Passion.

We see the Host and we are taken to the foot of the Cross,
where Jesus pours Himself out for us, empties His life that we might have life!
We are called to gaze upon the sacred Host…
and to contemplate the Altar of the Cross
to pause in adoration before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
and to feel the love of Calvary.

In this we truly come to know Christ…in this we know what it means to live!

Looking at the perfect image of love, we consider how deeply we have loved
and where our lives must change so that Christ may live in us.

Look, my dear friends, at the host, and see the Savior who died on the Cross.
Adore Him…follow him…
accept His challenge to love as He has loved…and live!