Adapted Homilies & Talks

Immaculate Conception

From a homily on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

My parents, when I was a child, emphasized manners. One improper enterprise of mine, for which I was often called to task, was drinking milk or Gatorade straight out of the bottle. Having a requisite glass to a drink is a courteous gesture. The rest of my family suffered from my inelegant action. It reminds me of Hilaire Belloc's limerick:

Of Courtesy, it is much less
Than Courage of Heart or Holiness,
Yet in my walks it seems to me
That the Grace of God is Courtesy.


Christ the King

From a Homily on the Feast of Christ the King

Father Aloysius Schmitt was just finishing the 7am Mass aboard the USS Oklahoma docked at Pearl Harbor when eight torpedoes slammed into the ship's side. Within minutes the ship rolled over and began to sink. The 32-year old Catholic priest immediately began to direct frenzied men through a small porthole to escape the capsizing ship. Bob Burns, who had served at Mass that morning, was one of those sailors who escaped. Burns recalls: “[Father Schmitt] recognized my voice and said, ‘Over here!’ There were two gentleman topside pulling, and he was pushing people through — he pushed me out. He was one of the finest men I had ever known. It was an honor knowing him.”


Thanksgiving Homily

From a Thanksgiving Day Homily

The giving of a gift is a prerequisite to gratitude. We cannot be thankful if nothing has been given to us. To be a thankful person, therefore, means we understand there to be a source behind all good things. For good things do not merely happen. Good things are given by someone. A thankful person recognizes this, which, by the way, makes the virtue of thankfulness the antidote to the dangerous vice of entitlement. Entitlement destroys the concept of gift. Everything, to the entitled person, is owed, not graciously bestowed.


Daily Mass Homily

From a daily Mass homily.

We hear this morning a wrenching account of martyrdom in the second book of Maccabees. “Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother, who saw her seven sons perish in a single day, yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord” (2 Mc 7:20). The mother would not let her sons apostatize, but rather encouraged them to bravery.



From a Homily on Pentecost

Chicago reinvented itself in the latter half of the 20th century. The city went from an agro-industrial to a "knowledge" economy. Whereas cities like Detroit and Pittsburgh, based on the automobile or steal industry, were unable to recreate themselves when those industries declined, Chicago was able to do so. Gone were the meat-packing plants and warehouses, replaced by skyscrapers offering financial and legal services. Chicago has continued to renew itself, becoming a global economy, and hopefully will continue to do so.


Memorial Day

From a Homily on Memorial Day

At last the woman who had been sobbing outside of the president's office was granted entrance. She explained that her husband, fighting in the war, had gone missing and with it the money he had been sending home. She begged the president to discharge one of her two enlisted sons, as she had no means of support. Abraham Lincoln, staring at the fire, hands behind his back and head bowed low, simply said, as if speaking to himself, “I have two you, you have none.” The president walked over to the desk and wrote a note of discharge.


Good Friday in Nuremberg

From a Homily on Good Friday

Befehl ist Befehl. Translated: ‘I was only following orders.’ That is the plea known as the "Nuremberg Defense," used by the Nazi officers convicted of crimes during the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-1946. Hermann Goering and others claimed they were only following orders; they did not know of the atrocities that were occurring within the Reich. The Final Solution was all the work of Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels, they argued. The judgment of the International Tribunal upon the ex-Nazis? Guilty.


Irish Mass

From a Homily on the Saint Juliana Irish Mass

William Francis Meagher (pronounced "Mar") was born in Waterford, Ireland in the 1820s. Identified by the British as a threat early into his adulthood, he was arrested and exiled to the penal colony in Tasmania. Meagher would escape, sail to New York City, and rise through the political ranks, eventually ending his career as the governor of Montana. His political success was owed to his leadership of the Irish Brigade in the Civil War, of which Robert E. Lee said “I have never seen men so brave.” The unit of Irishman performed admirably in many battles–Bull Run, The Peninsula Campaign, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville—so much so that President Lincoln elevated Meagher to Brigadier General. From this position of authority, Meagher had the War Department create green Irish flags with a harp symbol. The men carried this flag into battle, and in the event that the men were separated from the flag, or the flag was destroyed, the Irish soldiers could be identified by a green sprig in their cap, for which Meagher also gained permission. Two other allowances Meagher provided that endeared him to his men: the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and the presence of a Catholic priest for every regiment.


4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Adapted from a homily.

The Beatitudes are Jesus' way of describing himself. He is meek, merciful, a peacemaker, and so on. Being called to be these eight characteristics means we are, in effect, being called to be like Jesus. How do we be like Jesus? By being friends with him. Friends resemble one another. If we're friends with Jesus, which we can be by talking to him, we will be happy and blessed.


To Parents About First Communion

Adapted from a talk to parents about First Communion.

I did not play golf as a kid. I thought the game was too hard and that it was boring. I regret this. Why? Well, forming good habits and muscle memory is easier as a child than it is as an adult. I play golf now and if I had played it at a younger age I would be a lot better at it–at least that's what I tell myself–and would enjoy it even more.


Christmas Mass

Adapted from the homily.

There are three "reasons" God became man. I'd like to discuss these, using Christmas gifts from my past to help illustrate.

1) Redemption. Jesus was born to redeem mankind. “He will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). The separation between man and God due to the Fall could only be restored by God becoming man. My "saving" Christmas gift from childhood was snow pants. The gift was lame, I thought at first, but it allowed me to play in the snow and have fun without getting cold or wet.


Thanksgiving Day 2016

Adapted from the homily.

When General George Washington asked the Abenaki Native American tribe to support the colonists in the American Revolutionary War, they agreed on one condition: Washington send them a Catholic priest to live with and minister to them. Washington happily obliged. The tribe in Maine received their priest and the Americans received their allies.


Grandparents' Day Mass

Adapted from the homily.

Paul Revere was a Son of Liberty, a militia officer, a silversmith, and, rarely mentioned, a grandfather. As most grandparents do, Revere passed several qualities onto his grandson, Joseph Warren Revere. Joseph was likewise an American patriot. He served first in the Navy during the Mexican-American War before switching to the Union Army in the Civil War, where he fought in many battles. Paul's bravery served his grandson well.


Wedding on November 12

Adapted from the homily.

As we sit here in St. Clement's in Lincoln Park–a very circular church, mind you–it's fitting I mention our bride and groom's shared interest: the Daytona 500.

NASCAR seems to be simply a group of rednecks driving in a circle all day. Likewise, marriage, from an outside view, seems boring. But from what I'm told, NASCAR is anything but dull. There is an incredible energy from the racing cars in a stadium holding hundreds of thousands of spectators—where, by the way, you can bring in your own beer and food. Just like the Wedding of Cana we heard about, I doubt there is ever a shortage of drink at Daytona Speedway. It's a fascinating place to "people watch" and meet new types of individuals, and the event, contrary to appearance, gets more interesting as it progresses. The final 20 laps are the most thrilling.