Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday, April 09, 2012

Easter Homily 2012

Easter Sunday 2012
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! Alleluia!
I have had the opportunity to
travel to different regions of the country…
to
meet people from a variety of cities
and to see weather
and calamity reports from different climates…
Florida, California, the Plains, New
England, Georgia.
And I have reached the conclusion
that I am quite content
to live in
the greatest state in the union
where we enjoy a variety of seasons and
weather patterns
and a mildness
compared to the extremes of the coasts and border states.

Ohio
weather gives us hope…
if you don’t like the weather, have
hope, it is destined to change soon!

My favorite
season of year is definitely Spring,
not only because Holy Week falls in Spring
and these are my favorite feasts
but because I thoroughly
enjoy the outdoors
and Spring afford me many
opportunities
to bask in the
glory of nature and the beauty of the land.
At least in
the northern hemisphere, Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth,
a time to breathe in the splendor of
the universe and give praise.

Before it
became optional in the 1970s, and later forgotten altogether,
the Church’s practice of celebrating Rogation
Days in the Spring
coincided with and honored
the change of seasons,
all the while
praying to God for in the season of planting
and asking His
blessing upon the parish territory.
Emerging
from the darkness of winter, the Spring blossoms give us new hope.

Many things
give hope to each of us individually…
For some it’s the day the equipment truck
leaves Progressive field for AZ.
For others it’s Friday at 5:00 on
payday.
For me it’s the first day of the year
when it’s warm enough to bike.
A new baby,
a first date, an acceptance letter, a great test score, a raise, a hug…
life’s exciting moments give us hope
all the time…
hope that we will succeed,
that things will get better.
And all of
these are ultimate signs of hope in the One who provides for us,
God, the author of life and the source
of goodness.

For many
people in the world, there seems to be no hope at all.
People who starve and never find food
die in despair.
Women and children kidnapped, tortured
and abused
forget that
they were ever loved.
Parents in poverty think there is no
way out and spend every night in tears
wondering how
to feed their children.

There is
emptiness out there that we in our relative security cannot fathom.

Yet, we
have our moments, too.
There are break-ups with significant
others and failures on tests,
the
gut-wrenching feeling of getting laid off or being diagnosed with illness, the
tragedy of sudden death of someone we love.

Most of us
have likely found ourselves at a point when don’t know how to go on.
Psychology
calls these “liminal moments,” from the Latin for “threshold.”
These are
moments when we come to a threshold because of something shocking,
faced with the choice to turn back in
fear
or step over the threshold in to a new
stage of our journey of life.

The Resurrection
of Christ is such a moment.
Jesus did
not fear to accept the Cross according to His Father’s will,
and thus His dying and rising has
changed the world forever.
By dying He
has destroyed death, and by rising He has restored life in abundance!

Emerging
this Easter morning from the darkness of the grave,
Christ radiant in glory gives new hope
to all creation!
As the
stone rolls back and the Risen Lord crosses the threshold of the tomb,
to the amazement of the Roman
soldiers,
He inaugurates a new reality
for the whole world
and promises new hope to all
who follow Him.

The angels
exult, Mother Church rejoices,
and
every creature from least to greatest sings its own song of praise!
Behold,
Christ has made all things new!

Saint Paul
writes in the Letter to the Romans that “in
hope we were saved.”
We hope not
in what we see but in what we do not see, Paul writes,
and by keeping hope alive we put our
trust in God who cares for us.
The following
verses share the promise of God to those who hope in Him:
“the Spirit
will come to the aid of our weakness”
and “all things work for good for those who love God.”
Hope saves
because when we hope in God’s love and in His promise of eternal life
we tap into the infinite power of God
to care for us
and to save us from sin.

The bottom
line of the Easter message is that we are so valuable to God
that He sent His only Son, who died
and rose for us
to bring about for us an end
to the reign of darkness
and the promise of light and
life eternal.

Therefore,
Pope Benedict is confident when he writes in his encyclical Spe Salvi,
on the virtue of hope, that
“The one who
has hope lives differently;
the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new
life.”
Christ has
made all things new!

So, now
when life brings us to those liminal moments,
when
we are standing at the threshold
stunned by
life’s turn of events
and unsure
if we can cross over into an uncertain future,
we know that we do not ever walk
alone.

The same
Jesus who died and rose for us is always present to us,
just as He promised: “I am with you always until the end of the
world.”
He will
never forsake or abandon us.
He will
send His Spirit to guide and perfect us.

We know
that we are loved, and our God has conquered Hell for us.
Thus, we do
not live like people covered in darkness with no way out.
We live as
people filled with hope,
glorious hope in our loving God, with
whom all things are possible!

The Spring
flowers arise from the cold ground and the dark of winter
to proclaim a renewal of life and a
new beginning to creation.

The Risen
Christ emerges from the stone-cold tomb
to reveal a world re-created by the
triumph of God over sin and death.

No matter
what, we are loved and we have hope in the goodness of God
who cares for us, walks with us, and
whose love sets us free.

May dear
friends, in these days, pause to ponder the beauty of the Spring blossoms,
and to see in them a living sign of
the hope in which we are saved!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Holy Saturday: the Church waits by the tomb!

The Lord's descent into
hell
From
an ancient Homily on Holy Saturday

Something
strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence
and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The
earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he
has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in
the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first
parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in
darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the
captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord
approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At
the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror
and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And
with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O
sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
I am your God, who for your sake have
become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own
authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in
darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O
sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise
from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you
who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me
and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.
For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a
slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath
the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without
help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was
betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received
in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the
marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my
image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden
of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for
you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword
pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your
side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your
sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned
against you.
Rise, let us leave this place. The
enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that
paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was
only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I
appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them
worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift
and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal
dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open.
The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Good Friday Homily 2012

Click title for audio

Good Friday 2012

The movie of the moment is The Hunger Games,
and
both the books and the film are all the rage with my students.

A post-war civilization called
Panem now exists in place of the Americas.
Each of 12 districts is required to
select by lottery one young boy and girl
and
send them as tributes to the Capitol,
wherein
lies all the power and wealth,
for a battle of strategy and survival.
Reminiscent of the gladiatorial
games of ancient Rome’s Coliseum,
The
Hunger Games is a fight to the death among the 24 “Tributes”
viewed
by blood-thirsty millions via television.


Early on in the film, during the
reaping to choose the tributes in District 12,
the
protagonist Katniss Everdeen, a girl of about 18,
volunteers
herself in place of her much younger sister.
She enters the game through a free
choice to value another’s life above her own
and
to take the place of one surely destined to die.
As the
story unfolds, selflessness and sacrifice are exemplified in her choices.

Ultimately,
it is love and other-centeredness that triumph over the evil of the game.
The real
winners are not those who will murder the innocent to survive
but those who will choose love and
truly live.

The most
poignant example of real-life self-sacrifice we have
is the story of Saint Maximilian
Kolbe.
In an act
of love nearest as humanly possible to the sacrifice of Christ,
Maximilian, a Franciscan Friar and
Nazi prisoner in Auschwitz,
volunteered his life in place
of a fellow prisoner – a stranger –
condemned to death
by starvation.
He valued
that man’s life above his own and took the place of one destined to die.

On this day
we call Good Friday, despite its agony for the story’s protagonist,
we remember the sacrifice that given
meaning to all others:
Jesus Christ, who first
entered our world in an act of supreme humility,
takes the place of
us who are condemned because of our sins
and submits Himself
for our sake to the agony of the Cross.

On the
night before he suffered, He felt entirely empty in His humanity
as He prayed anxiously and sweat blood
in the Garden of Gethsemane.
He cried
out: “Father, if it possible, take this
cup away from me!”

Yet, His
love for us compels Him to make a choice, for love is more than feeling:
“Father,
not as I will but as you will.”
It is sin that
brought Jesus to the gibbet of the Cross
but it is love which held Him there
for three long hours, gasping and writhing.

The One who
created all things and in whom rests power over life and death
is now bound in chains, scourged
beyond recognition and nailed to a tree.
His flesh
is torn asunder and pierced, His body throbs with pain,
and His heart is broken as His friends
betray, deny and abandon Him.
Has
humanity ever beheld a more pathetic sight?
Any why? –
because He made a choice – a choice to love!
The
sacrifice of Christ in embracing the death-bed of the Cross
created a ripple effect of power and
goodness
that has continued to cascade
through human experience
for nearly two
millennia.
The historic
event on Calvary has become an eternal fountain of grace.
Christ’s
dying and rising has changed everything,
for in Him we are given a model of
humanity perfected
and the source of eternal
life.

As we adore
the Cross tonight,
we honor the instrument of torture in
the Roman Legionnaires’ game of dice
that has become the
instrument of our salvation.
The game of
brutality and the evil of injustice is vanquished by the Lord of love!

The choices
of our lives have consequences and create ripple effects as well –
for good or for evil.
Like a
stone thrown into a lake,
creating ripples great and small,
above and below the surface,
every human choice has
effects far beyond what we can see.
Our choice
to sin laid the burden of the Cross on the Son of God.
His choice
to love ended the reign of sin and opened the door to new life.

If we gossip,
bully, cheat, lie, swear, abuse, destroy or act impurely,
we create ripple effects of hurt and
enduring wounds of heartache.
But if we
love, heal, pray, build up, give life and respect human dignity,
we create powerful ripple effects of
goodness beyond our imagination.

Christ accepted
the condemnation of sinners and chose love above all else,
thus offering the gift of life to all.

In our
choices and in our words and deeds, may
love always triumph,
so Christ’s love will live on us and
in our world.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Palm Sunday Homily/Holy Week 2012

Click title for audio of homily.

Holy Thursday: I will concelebrate at O.L. Mt. Carmel, Youngstown, with Monsignor Cariglio.
Good Friday: 7 pm, St Mary, Warren
Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil: I will concelebrate at St. Mary
Easter: 8:00 am St. Mary

On Sunday, April 15th, I will be celebrating the Divine Mercy Sunday Feast Day Mass for the Jesus, the Living Mercy Community at 3 pm in Cleveland. See them for more information.

Blessed Holy Week to all!