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, May 18, 2009

Homily 6th Sunday of Easter Year B

Please click on the title for an audio file of this homily.

America and Notre Dame

Click on the link below to view an editorial recently printed in America.

The following is my letter to the editor, which has so far not been printed.

Dear Editor,

The editorial titled “Sectarian Catholicism” in the May 11, 2009 edition of America was most intriguing. The basic premise of the piece is that “self appointed watchdogs of orthodoxy” have defined orthodoxy not as “adherence to the Church’s doctrine” but as “adherence to a particular political program” and that, in so doing, these “sectarians” “threaten the unity of the Catholic Church” by ignoring the “broad-tent,” “big-church” Catholic tradition.
In fact, the Church’s tent embraces people of different intellectual and political persuasions but is also precisely defined to exclude the possibility of denying fundamental truths of faith, including the sanctity of human life.
The particular event cited to exemplify the editorial’s argument is the opposition by Catholic laity and clergy to the invitation of President Obama by the University of Notre Dame to be the 2009 commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary degree. Nearly 60 U. S. bishops, tens of thousands of concerned ND alumni and other Catholic laity, and prominent Catholic American figures have all united in opposition to ND president Father John Jenkins’ invitation of President Obama. Such a unified voice can hardly be called sectarian. This action by ND’s president and board clearly violates the agreement between Catholic university presidents and the USCCB, which states that no Catholic university may give a platform to or honor a person who holds positions contrary to the teaching of the Church.
The opposition of the bishops and laity to President Obama addressing ND’s graduates is not political or sectarian at all; rather, it is grounded in the truth of the sanctity of human life and the duty of Catholic institutions to be authentic and uphold the truth revealed by God. Defending orthodox faith is not political or sectarian. It is the mark of fidelity to Christ.
The editorial calls abortion “evil” while at the same time defending ND’s decision to honor a man whose policies are definitively pro-abortion, an intellectual gymnastic feat similar to ND’s original plan to invite both President Obama and the pro-life devout Catholic Mary Ann Glendon in the hopes of appearing broad-minded. Such positions are not broad but duplicitous and disrespectful toward persons of authentic faith. One cannot help but wonder if ND and America Magazine have pitched a tent that is not big enough to include respect for human life.
Catholic institutions are not political organizations and ought not participate in political maneuvering or agendas. Instead, as Pope Benedict said at Catholic University in April 2008, “…every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth.” Catholic universities are called to preach the truth, whole and entire, in season and out of season, in all aspects of their mission. That means giving voice to and honoring only those who support the truth, especially the dignity of life.
The congratulatory message of the Holy Father to a head of state should not be construed as support for President Obama’s policies. The Church clearly opposes the consistent anti-life agenda of this presidency, revealed in its policies allowing research on human persons in the embryonic stage and promoting abortion abroad with taxpayer dollars. While the president may in some limited way be able to improve life for Americans, he is a failure on the most fundamental life issues.
What is at stake today is not the loss of a so-called broad vision of the faith but the lives of thousands of unborn children. What the Church in the United States desperately needs is strong episcopal leadership and unity among the laity around the fundamental truth of the sanctity of human life. This requires a resounding “yes” to the fullness of the truth revealed in Jesus Christ.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Letter published in The Catholic Exponent 15 May 2009

To the Editor,
I cannot help but comment on the front-page article in the last edition of the Exponent, titled “Catholics generally optimistic about church,” which presents the results of the 2009 LeMoyne-Zogby survey about trends in the Church. The general trend among Catholics who were polled is positive: close to three-fourths were optimistic about the future of the Church.
The next set of statistics is intriguing. While survey results have a small margin of error and my own observations may not be true 100 percent of the time, there is a striking correlation between this survey, my own experience, and the faith of our Church. Within the survey, those “Catholics who identified themselves as progressive were more likely to be pessimistic,” while “those who identified themselves as ‘orthodox’ Catholics were much more optimistic.”
A “progressive” attitude is commonly understood to include uninhibited creativity, a craving for the new and exciting, a break with history and tradition, and a challenging opposition to established truths. As particular examples, progressive people within the Church today advocate for the “ordination” of women to the priesthood, insist that Pope Paul VI’s teaching against artificial contraception is archaic, clamor for a change in the discipline of clerical celibacy, and water down the doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Along with these concerns, there is a notable lack of respect for priests, bishops, the Holy Father, Canon Law and liturgical norms.
It is no wonder that “progressive” Catholics end up pessimistic. When a person identifies himself as belonging to the Church and at the same time embraces a set of beliefs that are contrary to the Church, there is a clear self-centered hypocrisy that naturally ends in frustration. “Progressive” Catholics often believe in, hope for, and even fight for, fabricated notions that are outside of reality. They are running up against a wall – the firmness of the truth revealed in Jesus Christ – and so end up bitter, pessimistic, or disappointed when the folly of their progressive project is revealed and the Church does not give them what they want.
To continue with the previous examples, we can see the sacred realities that frustrate the progressive mind. Even though women possess a unique dignity and bring irreplaceable gifts to the Church, they will never be priests because Jesus chose only men. The unitive and procreative aspects of the marital sexual act cannot be separated if God’s plan for human persons is to be fulfilled. The discipline of celibacy could in theory be altered but for now the Church believes that it is good for her priests. The Eucharist is in fact the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
The Church is not found in progressive agendas that deviate from the teaching of Christ. Instead, as Saint Ambrose taught: “Where there is Peter, there is the Church, and where the Church is, there is everlasting life.” The Church, established by Christ on the rock of Saint Peter, is shepherded, sanctified and taught authentically by the Holy Father and the bishops in communion with him.
It is self-evident that Catholics who remain orthodox, that is, rooted in the unchanging deposit of faith, would have greater reason for hope, optimism and happiness. To be orthodox is to believe in and live the truth that God has established for human fulfillment and salvation, which is revealed in Scripture and Church Tradition. Everyone who embraces that truth, while he may have to endure suffering for the sake of the Gospel, will ultimately find the peace that only God can provide. Imagine the difference that could be made in our world if all who claimed the name of Christian truly lived and defended orthodox faith. The result would real and lasting progress.
Father Matthew J. Albright

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Homily Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B 3 May 2009

220 years ago this past Thursday in Federal Hall on Wall Street in NYC
George Washington delivered the first Inaugural Address
as the first president of the newly-formed U.S.A.

Regarding his election to the presidency, he said…
I was summoned by my country,
whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love…”

He confidently declared that
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providen[ce]…”

And that
“…there is no truth more thoroughly established
than that there exists...
an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness…
the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained…”

As he spoke that day in 1789, men sat “entranced” before him
while Washington spoke barely above a whisper and his hands trembled.

In George Washington we behold a statesman of great virtue…
who displayed reverence for our nation and awe before his high office
a passion for virtue in governance and leadership
and, above all, love of and devotion to Divine Providence.

He provides an example of a public life not dedicated to his own selfish desires
but lived in service to God and to the common good of our country.
Washington understood that we belong to God
and we owe our lives and fortunes to His Providence.

We are sons and daughters of Almighty God,
for we are created in the very image and likeness of God
and by the great love He has bestowed upon us
we experience the rich blessings of that intimate filial relationship.

Everything in the created world reflects the richness and glory of God.

In a singular way, the human person reveals the image of God,
and by Baptism actually shares in the divine life of the Risen Christ.

Our life has a whole new dimension because it is united to the life of Christ.
We pass from the relationship of creator to creature
to an intimate love between father and children.

That life in Christ which we enjoy as baptized children of God
includes also a collaboration in the ongoing work of God
for the creation and redemption of the world.
Our human existence…our love…our choices, words and actions…
are all meant to reflect God to the world
and fulfill some aspect of God’s creative and saving mission
in the unique circumstances of our individual lives.

Our loving self-sacrifice for God and for the good of others
reveals the identity of God, who is love itself
and the loving communion of persons within the Trinity.

This relationship we have with God
necessarily distinguishes us from the rest of the world.
We remain set apart from the world by the mark of our Baptism
and called to a mission of building the Kingdom of God.

As we persevere in doing so, we surely encounter formidable obstacles,
which chip away at the foundation of God’s Kingdom.

In addition to the anniversary of President Washington’s first inaugural,
this Thursday was also the 100th day of our current president.

After 100 days in office is customary to evaluate a new president
and ask certain questions of effectiveness and popularity.

As Catholic Christians, we ask different questions…of morality and virtue.
Do we find in our leaders a commitment to the true moral good of all people?
Do we see in our government the virtuous leadership of George Washington?

The evidence suggests that the whole operation and strength of our government…
with our money but without our consent…
is being placed solidly behind a particular political agenda
that opposes the sanctity of life
and our freedom to follow the dictates of conscience and religion.

As religion and basic moral values are being squeezed out of society…
we know that we are not alone…for we are in the company of the saints
and we live in the grace of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was the stone rejected by the builders, as our psalm proclaims,
who has become the cornerstone of the whole Church.
He is the Messiah, who, though rejected by the leaders of the world,
remains the sure hope and salvation of all people.

Because the world did not know or accept Christ...Saint John tells us…
so the world does not know, understand, or accept his disciples.
Just as the world rejected Christ,
so the world rejects us and our message of life, love and virtue.

We are stones rejected by the builders
who must become the cornerstone of a new and glorious edifice
built on Christ and sealed with the truth of the Gospel!

That kingdom we help to build must be strong and filled with hopeful zeal.
It must proclaim Christ without remorse, defend life without hesitation,
and love every human person because they possess dignity as a child of God.
By our carefully chosen and clearly spoken words of truth, heartfelt prayers,
and generous hearts committed 100% to the Gospel of Life
we must be the cornerstones of conversion in our world!

No matter what our living out of the Gospel entails…no matter what we loose…
our freedom to be who we are in the midst of society…
even perhaps our Catholic schools and hospitals…
we will always be led and nourished by the Good Shepherd
and we will always have the sacraments.

Jesus is the good and faithful shepherd, who leads His flock to holiness,
cares for His beloved even to the point of laying down his life for the sheep,
and feeds us with the precious gift of Himself.

In receiving the Holy Eucharist, the very Body and of Jesus,
we become one with Him who loves us more deeply and perfectly
than the greatest of human words can describe.

The person of Christ penetrates, infuses and enlivens our whole being,
and we find strength in His divine nourishment and shepherding…
strength to be solid and immovable cornerstones
of a new and vibrant evangelization.

Summoned by Divine Providence, we hear His call with veneration and love.
Strengthened by Christ, we answer the call to be cornerstones of conversion,
and co-workers with God for the salvation of the world.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Homily from April 30, 2009

Memorial of Pope Saint Pius V

[Editor’s note: this reconstruction of Father Matthew’s homily was taken from his handwritten notes. Unfortunately, you cannot hear the passion with which he spoke, and I know there were parts of his homily which were not in his notes. I have tried to capture the essence of his homily, which garnered a round of applause at daily Mass.]

220 years ago today, George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States. At Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City, he delivered his first Inaugural Address.
He began by saying, “…no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order…I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love…the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not by overwhelm with despondence one who ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.”

He went on to say that “…no people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency…”

He continued, “…there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness…[and] the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained…”

We see in George Washington a reverence for America and his role of leadership, great humility before his office, a commitment to virtue in governance, high regard for virtuous and moral leadership, and, above all, a great love and devotion to God.

The historian David McCullough recalled that during his Inaugural Address, Washington’s hands trembled and he spoke in a low and quavering voice.

We are told that Representative Fisher Ames from Massachusetts sat “entranced” as he spoke. The French Diplomat Louis Guillaume Otto said that “real merit and faithful virtue must be at the basis” [of Washington’s conviction and the shared support of the whole government].

One hundred days ago today, another man took office. On the anniversary of 100 days in office, it is customary to assess and raise questions of effectiveness and popularity of each new president.

As Catholics, we raise different questions, questions of morality and virtue. How has the president lived virtuously? Do we see the moral ideals and single-minded virtue of George Washington in our government today?

The evidence suggests otherwise:
Our president’s campaign promise to sign the “Freedom of Choice Act” as soon as possible, his support of and alliance with Planned Parenthood, the reversal of the Mexico City Policy, the reversal of the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, the nomination of so-called “Catholic” politicians who do not support the Church’s teaching on the dignity of life, and the exploitation of the unfortunate division within the Church…the division between our bishops and our universities…the division among “Catholic” politicians.

The Church is enduring a new kind of persecution…
I daresay that before too long our Catholic schools and hospitals might very well cease to exist.

As we mark the customary 100 days of this president, we mourn 100 days of .

We are coming loose from our foundations – both our historical and moral foundations. Unless we recover our roots and our values, the values George Washington knew and understood, the values Pope Pius V believed in, and the values of our Church, heaven’s smiles will not fall upon us.

In this Easter Season, we celebrate the new and abundant life we have received in Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord. We also mourn 100 days of . We pray and speak out in defense of the voiceless. We dedicate ourselves to a 100% absolute commitment to human life.

In Christ, who is our life, we must conquer, not for ourselves, but for Him and for those who have no voice. May the Lord of Life be forever praised!