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 28, 2010

Homily Palm Sunday 2010

Some sections ad libitum.

The earthly life of Jesus begins and ends in strikingly similar fashion: in darkness.

The marvelous exchange of the incarnation…
in which the Son of God humbles Himself to take on human flesh
that we might become sharers in His divine life…
occurs in the silence and darkness of a winter’s night.

In the fullness of time
the Lord’s earthly ministry reaches its fulfillment in the Paschal Mystery.
His saving occurs as well in darkness
as the sun is eclipsed in the middle of a hot Jerusalem afternoon.

From noon until three darkness covered the earth.
This cosmic sign recorded by Saint Luke in his account of the Passion
tells us that all the earth is anguished.

Creation itself is suffering with the suffering Christ and in mourning for her Lord.
Tombs are spilt open, rocks are rent asunder, and the mountains are shaken.

The whole world is paralyzed with fear, is covered in darkness,
as all humanity, nature itself, and the fullness of all that dwell therein
behold its savior dying on a cross.

Every human person who has experienced loss or tragedy…
the of a beloved, the loss of a job, a disintegrating relationship
knows personally the feeling of being covered in darkness.

The Church is experiencing…first in America…now in Ireland and Germany…
the dark cloud of clerical scandal
and the sins committed by my brother priests in their weak humanity.

Our nation is experiencing the darkness of the culture of
and government policies which do not respect the dignity of life
and the freedom of conscience…
as the U.S. Bishops have pointed out to us.

Darkness seems to cover the earth.
Yet we know that in Christ, who knows darkness and who is with us dark times,
darkness does not have power over us…it need not hold us paralyzed in fear.

The of our loved ones is not the final word
for Christ is victorious over and promises life to His faithful ones.

God’s love is more powerful than any human struggle.

As we allow God to lead us from our disappointments and dashed expectations
into the fullness of His divine plan
we discover what it truly means to know joy and peace.

Though every priest is a sinner, the priesthood is not defined only by scandal.
Indeed, the Church must root out sinful patterns of behavior.
At the same time, the Church is so much more than this scandal.
She is alive in many ways,
and her priests continue to bring the word and presence of Christ to the world.

Disdain for life is not the defining reality our society.
The voice of Christ speaks through His people as they defend the dignity of life.
Statistics show that America is pro-life.
The younger generation is turning away from the folly of their leaders
and embracing for themselves a culture of life.

As we begin to celebrate the holiest week in all of human history,
we behold Christ dying on the Cross and the earth covered in darkness.
We look forward to week’s end,
when we shall rejoice in His resurrection from the .

As we behold the darkness in our Church, our world, and our individual lives
we look forward with hope, trusting that God has a remarkable plan for us
even as we now see how He is alive in our midst
bringing light to our darkness.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

25 March 2010 Solemnity of the Annunciation

25 March 2010

Solemnity of the Annunciation

Homily notes and main points compiled after extemporaneous homily…

15 years ago today, on this Solemnity of the Annunciation, Pope John Paul II issued his encyclical letter Evengelium VitaeThe Gospel of Life. This most significant and beautiful text reiterated the truth about the dignity of human life in the midst of a time when disdain for life had gripped much of the world.

God is the author of all life.

Men and women are created in the image and likeness of God.

Every human person has an inherent dignity, not because of anything we do, but because of who we are: people created in the divine image.

Human life possesses that dignity from the moment of conception until the moment when God chooses to call us home to Himself.

The beginning and end of life are in the hands of God.

The ultimate decisions about life are God’s and not ours.


15 years later, we are witnessing a dark time in our nation’s history – a time when the gospel of life is trampled underfoot, a time when our government and the representatives we the people elected reject the dignity of life, federally fund the of children, enshrine evil and in law, ignore the dignity of the conscience of human persons and restrict the freedom of men and women to act as their moral values and conscience prompt them.

In this time, a wound in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, has been exposed, and exploited by those same political leaders. In one of the local newspapers the block quote in the center of an article on the health care bill read something like “Catholic bishops, faithful and health care professionals at odds over health care.” That was painful for me to read. It is sad to see that the perception of the general public toward our Church, which we love, is that we are “at odds” with one another over the dignity of human life. It need not be so. It ought not be so!

What we are seeing is not simply a human argument, not a disagreement over man-made teaching, over mere words, but a division over the truth about human life. This is not a moment of agreeable disagreement.

It is even more than a disagreement over Church teaching. It is a division over Christ.

As Pope Benedict XVI has said, the Church is not a set of philosophies and ethical codes. It is an encounter with a person: Jesus Christ. Some among us have encountered Christ and said “yes” to Him. Some of our brothers and sisters whom we love have encountered Christ, have heard His voice speaking through His Church, and said “no.”

Today we celebrate the Annunciation.

Mary is visited by the angel who announces the miraculous birth of the Savior…etc…

Mary, despite the fear and confusion she no doubt felt at this incredible event in her life, was inspired by her faith and love to say “yes” to God. She did not say…why me…what will people think…who am I…it’s my body…none of that…instead she said “yes” to God!

Saint Bernard wrote that the whole world held its breath waiting for her answer. For upon that answer depended everything.

Her answer inaugurated God’s saving plan and changed the world forever…etc…

As we hear this Gospel, we hear Jesus speaking to us.

Jesus is calling us to say “yes” to Him!

He is calling us to be healers of the wound in the Body of Christ, to be living witnesses to Him, to apply the salve of His love and truth to the wound in His Body that is infected with evil.

We reveal the truth about love, life, marriage, priesthood, the Church…all the essential elements of our faith…as we encounter people and share those truths with them.

We ought to pray and ask God how and when it is that He desires us to speak the truth and then to do so with confident faith and with love.

Our “yes”…our witness…can change the world…etc…

Praise be to Jesus Christ, son of God and son of Mary!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Wound in the Body of Christ

The recent debate and subsequent legislative action by congress on health care reform has exposed a wound in the Church which is deep and harmful to the Body of Christ. In a local newspaper in Stark County, the block quote highlighted this wound with words to the effect of “Catholic bishops, religious, and health care professionals at odds over health care.” Such a statement gives the impression to the general public that the Church is a free-for-all, a smorgasbord, and that it is perfectly acceptable to believe what you want all the while remaining “Catholic.” Furthermore, such a statement makes it seem that the Church is a loose collection of people who believe all sorts of different things, people who are “at odds” with each other, people who “agree to disagree.” However, what is at stake is not a matter of opinion or agreeable disagreement. Rather, the issues at hand are fundamental truths about the human person and religious values essential to the Catholic Tradition.

Those who supported the Senate version of the Health Care Bill, contrary to the USCCB’s urgent directives, are “at odds” with the teaching authority of the Church. The Catholic Health Care Association and the religious who make up the Leadership Conference of Women Religious are not only “at odds” with the bishops but with the truth about the sanctity of life and the dignity of every human person’s conscience. The USCCB, which manifested the consistent teaching of Christ and the Church, and the Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious, who confidently supported the bishops, are truly at the heart of the Church.

This wound is not new. Yet the pain of it is again felt as we witness religious and health care professionals within our own Church take positions contrary to the Church’s teaching authority and to the authentic good of the human person. In the Gospel reading from last Saturday, Saint John writes “A division occurred…because of Him.” Today there is a division, not only because of Church teachings and moral concepts, but because of Christ Himself. As Pope Benedict XVI has said, Christianity is not merely a code of ethics or a philosophy but an encounter with a person: Jesus Christ! Within the Church there are those who have encountered Christ and say “yes” to Him in all things and in all people, and there are those who harden their hearts to the voice of Christ, which resonates in His Church’s teaching and which cries out in the unborn and vulnerable of our society.

Politically, much will be done in response to the decision made yesterday. Spiritually speaking, there is much to be done as well. The wound in the Body of Christ caused by division over the truth is perhaps more harmful than any legislation, for it scandalizes, confuses, and weakens the Church’s mission to lead all people to God. As people of faith, we need to challenge each other and those around us to lay aside egos and ideologies which keep us “at odds” with the truth – about ourselves, about our faith, about our society, about Christ! Only when we unite around His truth can we then be a beacon of hope and an instrument of change in our world. We may be disappointed not to be part of a grand sweeping change. We may not see all the ideologues defeated. Yet, if all we do is to bring one wayward soul back to the truth of the Catholic faith, we have been the hand of God. Souls who know and love the truth can work miracles. We can heal even a small part of the wound in Christ’s body left by those among our ranks who have abandoned the truth as we lovingly share that truth with all we meet.

A popular radio commentator lamented today that there may no longer be a pro-life Church, for the Catholic Church is infected by liberals who want to change and destroy it. Of course, Christ is always with His Church, guaranteeing by the power of His Holy Spirit that she possesses and leads us into all truth. The Church is pro-life! At the same time, there is indeed an infection in her – an infection caused by scandalous ideologues who neither proclaim the truth nor speak with the authentic voice of the Church but who instead spread the poison of lies and deception. People’s understanding of the Church, the sacrificial priesthood, the Eucharist, the Sacraments, the Commandments, life, love, marriage, uality, and so on, is confused – because Catholics have not told the truth for far too long. The wound is infected. The infection is spreading.

And yet there are antibodies on the move. There are signs of new life, of hope, of growth. Solid Catholic colleges, young orthodox priests, the pro-life movement, the leadership of the popes since Vatican II – Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, faithful writers and journalists, liturgical renewal, marvelous growth in seminary formation, the bishops’ initiative on marriage. All these and more serve as signs that the Body of Christ is alive!

We are called to be healers of the wounds and confident sharers in the love and truth of Jesus, who has given us new life in His Paschal Mystery. Live in the heart of the Church! Stand with Christ! “Where there is Peter, there is the Church.” We stand with Peter, with the Magisterium. The Church is not at odds with Christ. She is one with Him always. Be where Christ is, where Peter is, and thus live in the heart of the Church. Within the heart of the Church, share the love and truth of Jesus with the world. Bring healing to the Body of Christ with the salve of His Love and Truth. This is our task in these days.

Thursday, March 18, 2010