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.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Opening Mass: Year of the Priest

Click on the title above for an audio file of Fr. Chris Saliga's homily at the Solemn Mass on the Vigil of the Sacred Heart 2009 celebrating the opening of the Year of the Priest at Saint Michael Parish, Canton, Ohio.

Announcing: The Year of the Priest!

In his address of 16 March 2009 (available at to the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI announced the celebration of a special year dedicated to the priesthood. The Year of the Priest will begin on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, 19 June 2009, and end on the same feast on 2010. This special year focused on priesthood coincides with the 150th anniversary of the of Saint John Vianney, patron saint of priests and a shepherd. The Cure of Ars wrote the following about the holy priesthood:
"The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you... When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice there is no religion...
What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of Our Lord, at seeing the Master whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy at seeing Our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loretto. But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the adorable Flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice which contained His , into the pyx where His Body has lain, are they not still more precious? The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus."
The final sentence of this excerpt brings to the fore the appropriateness of the Holy Father’s choice to begin the Year of the Priest on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart.
As the Holy Father explains in his address, the Year of the Priest is first of all directed toward encouraging priests in striving for spiritual perfection on which their ministry depends. The Pope reminds priests of the “aspiration to moral perfection that must dwell in every authentically priestly heart.” Priesthood is more than ministerial activity; it is a call from Christ to “participation in a ‘new life.’” Every priest must cultivate in his own life a deep and abiding union with Christ, who is the perfect High Priest and the one whom every priest images in his ministry to the Church.
Secondly, this Year of the Priest is an opportunity to recall the true identity and mission of the priesthood and to proclaim that truth for the good of the whole Church. The Holy Father reminds us all that “the ministerial priesthood…is ontologically distinct, and not only by rank, from the baptismal priesthood that is also known as the ‘common priesthood.’” Furthermore, the priest’s mission is carried out “in the Church.” The priest does not proclaim himself but, rather, brings God to the world. The priest ministers in communion with the Church, in its hierarchical and doctrinal context. Solid formation of priests, rooted in the uninterrupted Tradition of the Church, is essential. The life of the Church depends on good priests, formed in the mind and heart of the Church, to bring the love of the Heart of Jesus to the world. “As priests,” the Pope said, “we proclaim Jesus of Nazareth Lord and Christ, Crucified and Risen…in the glad certainty that this truth coincides with the deepest expectations of the human heart.”
Finally, for the whole Church, this Year of the Priest is a time to be reminded of the unique and indispensible gift of the priesthood to the Church. It is a time to appreciate our priests and to express our appreciation to them in prayer and deeds of love. It is a time to pray earnestly for priestly vocations, that the Church may never be deprived of an abundance of love and grace, flowing from the Sacred Heart of Christ, through the heart of every priest, and into the hearts of all believers.

Read the Holy Father's announcement of the Year of the Priest...

...and his letter to priests...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Attack on Morality: Phase 2

People of love, goodwill and faith across America have good reason to be concerned about the path on which our country finds itself. Mounting evidence clearly indicates disregard for human life on the part of our government. The previous ban on embryonic stem cell research – which involves the creation, manipulation and destruction of human persons in the embryonic stage and yet has shown no scientific benefit – has been reversed. The Mexico City Policy has been rescinded so that our tax dollars may be used without our consent to promote the killing of innocent children through abortion in foreign countries. President Obama has a 100% approval rating from Planned Parenthood, an organization whose policies are beneath human dignity.
Having established its policies on a course toward indifference to – or even hatred of – the sanctity of human life, the next phase in the administration’s immoral domestic policy appears to be the promotion of sexual deviancy, which likely is itself a step toward the destruction of authentic family life. President Obama, by a presidential proclamation dated June 1st, has proclaimed June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. While claiming to be directed toward ending discrimination and prejudice – a noble endeavor in itself – this proclamation effectively places government support behind deviant lifestyles and encourages the immoral behavior of “openly LGBT” persons.
Two core issues must be kept in balance here: (1) charity towards all human persons and (2) the preservation of truth and moral values. Christians, and indeed all people of faith, understand that the love and mercy of God is infinite and extends to all persons. Bigotry, hate crimes, and discrimination are unacceptable in a faith-filled, loving, and rational society. Every man and woman possesses dignity because they are created in the image of God. Every person deserves the opportunity to live freely, make the best of their lives, and succeed according to God’s will for them. Persons with homosexual tendencies or those who experience confusion about their sexuality deserve our charity and support, so they can mature and live chaste lives.
At the same time, it is the duty of all people of goodwill to recognize sin and admonish sinners. Men and women who openly and actively participate in the “gay culture” and persist immoral sexual behavior violate God’s eternal plan for human sexuality. Authentic sexual intimacy is the physical expression of the wedding vows of a man and a woman, who in marriage become “one flesh,” and a sharing in God’s action of creating new life. Any act posing as sexual intimacy that is not part of a marital commitment or not open to life is a lie. As we reach out to support and assist others, the most loving action is to tell them the truth and challenge them to change according to the laws of God and nature.
It is vital to the success of the human community that all men and women help to create a society in which relationships and sexuality are experienced in a natural and human manner. Young people especially deserve an environment of love and morality in which they can fully and authentically develop their sexuality, without being forced by peers and the popular media into promiscuous and deviant activity.
People of traditional faith are labeled as hateful bigots for maintaining that homosexual behavior is contrary to divine and natural law. However, preserving this truth is the most loving response faith can provide to our self-destructing society. We are told we must seek common ground with those who stand on the other side of the great divide on social issues regarding human life and sexuality. Yet, fewer people seem willing to open their hearts and minds to the positions of traditional faith. Seeking common ground is no more than a code phrase for the abandonment of faith and the acceptance of immorality.
What is more, the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, and the truth that sexual activity finds its proper expression within marriage for the union of spouses and the procreation of children, are not merely “religious values.” These are fundamentally human truths and an attitude opposed to the truth is the result of the disintegration of one’s humanity. Continuation on this path opposed to truth will only result in further misery and societal decline. Conversion to the truth about human life and love is the only path to peace in our human community.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Homily Trinity Sunday 2009

Dietrich Bonhöffer, a young theologian of great promise,
was killed by the Nazis for participating in a plot against the life of A. Hitler. His writings have since greatly influenced theological thought.
His poetic article “Who am I?” appeared in the Journal Christianity and Crisis,
on March 4, 1946.

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?

Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

In the darkness of imprisonment,
Bonhöffer grappled with questions of human identity
and yet returned to the fundamental truth that…whatever he endures…
he belongs to God.

On the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity,
we celebrate the reality of God,
to whom we belong
and to whose image we owe our very identity as human persons.
We understand who we are by knowing who God is.

God is an eternal and indissoluble unity of three divine persons…
at the same time one and yet three distinct persons.

From eternity, God the Father begets the Son in an act of pure self-emptying love,
and the Son is not born or created
but is begotten from the Father’s very being
and is of one substance with Him.
From eternity as well, the love of the Father is reciprocated by the Son,
and together Father and Son live in perfect harmony
as sharers of one divine substance.
The shared love of the Father and Son is so perfect and powerful that it bears fruit
in a distinct and third divine person: the Holy Spirit.

It is love, perfect and infinite, that binds the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
in perfect unity…in a loving communion of three divine persons.
Thus we can profess with Saint John that God is Love!

As a creature made not out of necessity but through a loving act of God,
made in the image of God, who is Love,
the human person contains a capacity for love and relationship.

To love…to empty oneself for the sake of others…
is therefore the fundamental vocation inscribed in the human person…
This vocation founded in our identity as children of God
created in and sealed with the image of God who is Love itself.

We know who we are when we know who God is!
The fundamental human vocation to love
is manifested in the three vocations of the Christian life:
marriage, priesthood and religious life.

Husbands and wives realize their human identity according to their vocation
by giving of themselves totally to one another in a life-long covenant
which bears fruit in mutual care and in the procreation of children.
Celibate religious brothers and sisters live out their vocation
in total dedication to Christ and the Church
according to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience
and their love is fruitful in works of education, service, and pastoral care.

The priest is a man called, consecrated, and ordained by God
to stand in the person of Christ the Head of the Body, the Church
both in his ministry and in his whole manner of life.

Today’s Gospel applies in a broad sense to all Christians
but Jesus’ words to the apostles contains a uniquely priestly commission:
“Go forth, to teach all nations and baptize.”
To preach the word and celebrate the Sacraments
are the unique and essential priestly duties.

In the morass of all that broken human life involves…
good and evil...sanctity and sin…wholeness and heartache…
stands the Catholic priest...ever blessing, consecrating, forgiving.

At every hour, on the altars of the world...
Jesus Christ again and again descends into our world in the Eucharist
in the hands of a priest.

By the example of a chaste celibate life
and a heart that beats with the pulse of Christ's truth and love
the priest brings Jesus to the world and the world to Him.

In his wisdom, Pope Benedict XVI has announced a special “Year of the Priest” –
a year dedicated to encouraging priests to strive for holiness,
recognizing the gift of the priesthood in the life of the Church,
appreciating our priests, and praying for priestly vocations.

It is indeed a time of grace for every priest to grow closer to Christ
and a much-needed opportunity for the whole Church
to give thanks for the priesthood.

The Year of the Priest will begin on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart,
and our parish will be celebrating with a vigil Mass at 7:00 pm on the 18th.
Please be attentive to the bulletin for more details
and plan to join priests from the Stark Deanery in celebrating the priesthood.

Saint John Vianney once wrote quite beautifully that
“the priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus.”
On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
we will celebrate the love of the Heart of Jesus revealed in the priesthood –
divine love manifested in the ministry of sinful men.

It is this divine love that sustains the Church, strengthens us in our own vocations,
and serves as the image of our very identity.

Who am I? I am a priest…called…despite my unworthiness…
to reveal the love of the heart of Jesus in my life.
Who are we all? Persons made in God’s image…
summoned and destined to reveal to the world the love of the Trinity!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Canton Repository May 2009

On Sunday, President Barack Hussein Obama delivered the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, America’s most notable Catholic university. By not only inviting President Obama to speak – as several presidents have been invited – but also presenting him with an honorary degree, Notre Dame violated the policy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which prohibits giving a platform to or honoring those whose policies violate the teaching of the Church. As a Catholic institution, Notre Dame shares in the mission of the Church, which includes belief in the sanctity of human life. To profess respect for life and honor the most anti-life president in our nation’s history in the same commencement ceremony is duplicitous.
Notre Dame does not speak for the Church. The Bishops do. Over 60 bishops have been joined by tens of thousands of alumni and vast numbers of Catholics in a unified voice declaring the inappropriateness of Notre Dame’s decision.
Notre Dame remains an institution of academic distinction. However, in matters of faith, it has lost its credibility. Notre Dame is out of touch with both Catholicism and mainstream America, at least 51% of which is confidently pro-life according to latest polls. Beginning with Mario Cuomo in 1984, ND has opened its doors to those who fail to defend the sanctity of life.
Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, intended for devout Catholic and former ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, will now be known as the award that Mary Ann Glendon declined because she refused to stand aside President Obama in Notre Dame’s artificial attempt at open-mindedness.
The moment President Obama mounted the dais at the University of Notre Dame is the last moment this great school, named for the Mother of Jesus, will ever speak credibly about matters of faith until the moment it repents.

Father Matthew J. Albright

Homily Pentecost 2009

The following are incomplete notes that do not reflect the completeness of the homily.

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Separate room devoted to Thomas Cole’s “Voyage of Life”
4 paintings in succession depicting stages of life
Each scene is of the same man in a boat on the water accompanied by an angel

Youth, childhood – obvious serenity, hope, beautiful scenes of bright sunshine,
verdant meadows and peaceful streams
Old age – still waters, man at rest, sunset, all is at peace

Manhood – violent storm, jagged rocks and gnarled trees, choppy waves,
demon figures lurking above and the angel is distant
Only in the distance through a natural rock arch can we see the horizon and a glimpse of sunlight.
To the right we see that the boat is helplessly floating toward the brink of a waterfall.

The image depicts the trials of life, which are often dark, threatening, unforgiving
Scene of complete emptiness and despair and everything is against man in the boat
He is pleading with the divine on the brink of disaster

Every person faces this – family disputes, job loss, economic hardship, betrayal, disintegration of relationships
We all face times when love is absent from our lives
We all experience emptiness and fear
We all want to be happy…to be loved…
And so many times life fails us, disappoints us, leaves us empty

In the painting, the demons are hovering over the stormy waters while the angel is far away
The man has a choice – to give in to the demons
or turn to the divine presence and open himself up so that God can be close to him, to ignore his identity as a human person and a child of God or to embrace the image of the divine that is within him

The man is each of us at some point in our lives – pleading with the divine, pleading for love, knowing he cannot survive on his own any more than we can survive without God and one another, knowing only in God will he find peace

In the end he makes it through to old age with the angel beside him
He made the right choice

When we are in trouble, empty, longing for love, searching for answers, where do we turn?
When our hearts are restless in what or in whom do we find comfort?

In the trials of life, our human sorrow longs to be consoled
In every season of life, there is a yearning within each of us for something more

The world and the fleeting fancies forced on us by the media and clever advertising cannot calm our fears nor satisfy our desires, for we are made for God

As we celebrate Pentecost, we rejoice in the truth that God’s Holy Spirit is the true source of life and that the goal of the entire Christian life is to become intoxicated in the love of God

Our reading from Acts stops short of one of the best parts of the story
After the Spirit descends upon the Apostles and Mary in the upper room, the Apostles go out into the streets acting in a most peculiar way – proclaiming the good news in many languages, perhaps dancing like giddy children, leaping for joy

The people watching them say “they have had too much wine” and “they are acting like drunken men”
Peter, ever the voice of reason in the name of the Church, cries out, “they are not drunk, it’s only 9 o’clock in the morning and they have not had any wine
They have received the Spirit, just as the scriptures foretold

The Apostles were intoxicated on the Spirit, on the love of God

The Holy Spirit is none less than the love of the Father and the Son which bursts forth in a new and third person in the divine Trinity
Thus the intimate love that is shared between God the Father and Jesus Christ is shared with us in our baptism

On Tuesday I will have been a priest for 2 years and, in that short time, amid a tremendous amount of goodness and love, I have seen a great deal of untapped, unfulfilled potential

I have seen superficiality, bitterness toward the Church, narcissism
I have seen men and women in their pride ignoring the obvious working of the Spirit in their own lives and living as if they only need God some of the time

I have also seen that God’s people are in need everywhere; that they are starving for fulfillment and love, and many of us are settling for mediocrity

When we are starving, McDonalds chicken nuggets seem mighty good
Christ and His Church offer us a gourmet banquet…and it’s all free…if we only drink deeply of the wine of God’s love…and be intoxicated in the Spirit

We are called to be inebriated with God’s Spirit, to leave ourselves behind and allow God to take over
When we do He will have us bursting at the seams with love and peace

Because I love you, I say to you that there is so much good in you left unexplored.
All that we are afraid to lose when we leave “me” behind and say yes to God will be restored a hundred fold more beautifully that we can imagine

Before I was a priest, I worked in a funeral home and among my duties was mowing the lawn.
When I set out to mow for the first time, I struggled with the mower until a co-worker decided to tell me that it was a self-propelled mower and I had to engage the wheels
I was mowing but working against the motor and struggling all on my own
Once I engaged the self-propelled feature, I was still mowing but in straight lines without the messiness that came from struggling
So, too, when we allow God to be in control, we do not lose our identity but instead we discover its fullest reality
God leads and we hang on for an incredible ride

We begin this journey toward intoxication in the Spirit
by making daily prayer an unshakable priority
by reading and understanding the Bible and the Church’s teaching
and then submitting ourselves to the will of God and the Church
by giving our very best for God every day
and by opening our hearts to His grace and to the possibility that He actually
knows what is good for us better than we know ourselves

When we are filled with the Spirit, will there still be storms?
Of course…there will be storms, rocks, waves
And yet the Spirit will allow you to soar above them and even above the clouds, and the demons will not harm you

Instead, if our hearts are opened and the eyes of our minds are perceptive to the things of God the Spirit will overshadow us and we will truly find peace.