27 Nov

Isaiah ushers us into a season of hope.

Dear Parishioners,

I hope you like the Prophet Isaiah from the Old Testament because we're going to get a healthy dose of him in our first readings throughout the Sundays of Advent.

Advent is a time of preparation. We prepare our hearts for Christ to come alive more fully in us. Christ is already in us. He was in us at the moment of our Baptism and is always with us. And when we receive the Eucharist he is really, really in us. But he needs to become more and more a part of us. That is one of the “objectives” of Advent.

The more our Lord is alive in us and the more we are conformed to him, the better off we are. It's a joyful hope, thus, we experience during Advent. We are readying to become more like Christ, and that will be good for us.

27 Nov

Andrew and the X-Shaped Cross

Think of what the look on the apostle Andrew's face would have been if Jesus told him how his life would end, and particularly what would happen with his body and his name. Allow me to reconstruct our Lord's words:

Jesus: Andrew, you will leave Galilee here, never fish again, and go to a place named Achaia, which is in Greece. There you will be crucified on a X-shaped cross, which is particularly painful.

Andrew: oh.

Jesus: Your body, then, will somehow make its way to a town called Amalfi, which is on the Italian coast about two miles south of Rome. Thousands of people will come each year to this town—not for you, but because of the beautiful landscape. The rich and famous will come to this town, and they will know nothing of you.

Andrew: oh?

24 Nov

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.

20 Nov

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.

20 Nov

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Dear Parishioners,

Jesus Christ has many appellations. He is a son, a brother, a friend, a Messiah, a Lord, a Son of Man, and many others. He is also a King. It's this title or feature of Jesus we celebrate today, The Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This feast is a reminder to us that Jesus is in control of everything. Men, women, plants, animals, the stars, and planets are all under Christ's guidance. The section from Paul's letter to the Colossians in our second reading today emphasizes this point (cf. Col 1:12-20). Christ commands and everything obeys. Or, at least it should. And we should especially. Because Jesus is a good King. He knows what's best for us and if we follow his commands we will never be let down. I believe that's why we sing in our psalm today, “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord!” (Ps 122:1).

It's fitting that often within this final week of Ordinary Time (next Sunday is Advent) falls Thanksgiving. While we're musing on Christ the King, we're also giving thanks for the blessings of our life and of our nation. I don't think Jesus would want it any other way. It's good to be grateful. It's good to spend time with family and friends. It's good to eat good food. Christ our King is happy we take a day to do all these things and be filled with a spirit of gratitude. I know Abraham Lincoln created this holiday in 1863, but I have a hunch Christ had a hand in bringing this about. Remember, “all things were created through him” (Col 1:16).

20 Nov

It's good to be Catholic.

President Kennedy was assassinated 53 years ago—November 22, 1963. Christ the King was "assassinated" 1,983 years ago. Christ's "secret service" was Peter and the apostles, who similarly failed to protect their master in the Garden of Gethsemane. Golgotha was the grassy knoll and the assassin's bullet was the cross. Dallas was a tragedy; Calvary was...a victory! That's right. Not only is it not painful for us to recall the death of Christ, we celebrate it and reenact it every day. I'm referring to, of course, the Mass, which is the re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice. We would never dream of reenacting with celebration that presidential motorcade in Dallas—to exalt the assassin's bullet—but not so with Christ.

19 Nov

Spirits and Ghosts

What is the Church’s perspective on spirits and ghosts?

GhostThank you for your question. These are subjects about which we might not often think. We live in an era where focus is most often on the material realities of the world. However, the Church has always maintained that there are spiritual realities. God’s creation is not just limited to the world that we can see. In fact, we maintain that human beings are themselves composites of the material and spiritual.

If we look at the diverse creatures of the world, it’s not a stretch to surmise that there might be a diversity of spiritual beings as well. The most common spiritual creatures, angels, are mentioned numerous times in the Bible. A quick search of the Bible brings up 295 instances of angels being mentioned. Rafael, Gabriel, and Michael would be the three identified by name. The Bible also affirms the existence of spiritual beings that are opposed to God. Jesus frequently expelled demons, demonstrating the power of God over the spiritual powers of darkness opposed to Him.

13 Nov

Prized Possessions?

Dear Parishioners,

As nice as our houses, cars, clothes, and even parish are, they are simply objects and ultimately will return to the dust from which they came. Our most prized “possessions” are each other. People—not objects—are what this life is all about.

I think Christ acknowledged this. In the opening of our Gospel, the people speak of how nice the temple is, only to be dismissed by Jesus. “While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.’” (Lk 21:5).

13 Nov

Gentleness is not weakness.

Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

These are the opening stanzas of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, The Village Blacksmith. The virtue of gentleness is what I'd like to discuss, and I feel the poem is an intriguing introduction to the topic.

11 Nov

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.