Audio on Soundcloud!

Audio on Soundcloud.

Now my recordings will be uploaded to the parish Soundcloud account. Here is the address: https://soundcloud.com/stthereselittleflowersb


Also, see what else is happening at our parish: https://littleflowerchurch.org/

Finally, look to the right for links to Audio from other good resources!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Homily (notes) - 3rd Sunday of O.T.

 

TWO OF OUR CORE VALUES - Joyful Receptivity: God’s dreams are bigger than my own dreams.

Sacrificial generosity: Letting God interrupt my plans.

Two movie scenes where someone is hanging off a ledge being held by another: INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE – LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING.

In both scenes, a person has to let go of something in order to be saved.

This is Jesus’ command for repentance. In order for us to be saved, we must let God change our plans and realize that we are not meant to be in control of our life.

JONAH, after resisting the hard call to go and help his enemies and then seeing how futile it was to resist God, had to let his plans change. He had to give over control.

SIMON (PETER) & ANDREW, JAMES & JOHN had to let their plans change. They had to let go.

IF OUR HANDS ARE FULL, WE MUST EMPTY THEM. If our hearts are attached to a dream, a plan, a goal, we must constantly put that goal into God’s hands. Surrendering is so difficult.

“give me the remote.” “give me the phone.” “Get off the computer.”

But surrendering is so rewarding. You don’t have to be in charge! You get to receive instead of feeling like life is only your own creation.

And God might drop a present into your hands. He might give you exactly what you gave Him. He might not.

Prayer of Thomas Merton – My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going….

Prayer of Abandonment, Charles de Foucauld – emphasizes our identity as adopted sons and daughters.

Father, 
I abandon myself into your hands; 
do with me what you will. 
Whatever you may do, I thank you: 
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me, 
and in all your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul: 
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, 
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, 
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve, 
and with boundless confidence, 
for you are my Father.

 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

God's questions, our desires.

 

In the beginning of the book of Genesis, after creating man and woman, God walks each afternoon with them in the garden of eden. He spends time with them, and they stay close to him. After the tragedy of sin, we hear God ask them a question: "Where are you?" This is a good question for all of us when we are found to have wandered away from God by dabbling in sin.

Our Gospel, which begins, on purpose, with the same words of Genesis ("In the beginning"), also has an echo of that union with God that Adam and Eve enjoyed in the garden, as these disciples also are walking with God (though they do not exactly understand it). Then Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, turns to them with another question "What do you seek? What do you want?"

When God asks questions, it isn't because He doesn't know the answer. It's because we don't know the answer, or we ignore it, or we are lying to ourselves. One way or another, God wants us to look into this truth for a reason, ultimately for our salvation.

THE SEARCH - the book (and accompanying video series) invites us to look at those desires. This question of Jesus is the focus for video one (or ch. 1 of the book) and it is a great starting point for beginning conversations of faith with others you know - family or friends. If you have a good relationship with someone you want to share the faith with, this is a way to get the conversation started.

Examining our desires is a good way to examine our conscience.

It is also a good preparation for prayer.

But if you do it with God, it is prayer.

A simple process for this is to "pray like a pirate" ("Arrr...")

ACKNOWLEDGE  - examine your heart and face what you find there. Honesty. Courage.

RELATE  - tell God exactly what is going on and perhaps why you think it is there. Trust. 

RECEIVE  - let Him tell you what He wants you to hear, which might seem unrelated. Openness.

RESPOND  - share with God any response: thanks; request; cry for help; petition for others. End with love.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

homily - Baptism of the Lord

Christian Identity.

Whenever you believe a lie, you give power the liar. This is hugely detrimental when it affects your self-image, your dignity, your person.

I'm not good enough. Or I'm not good. Or I'm not enough. I'm damaged goods beyond repair.

Letting these lies sit in your soul is like locking yourself up in handcuffs.

-------------------------

NOT FOUNDED ON GOOD FEELINGS EITHER

When we are having good feelings in the spiritual life (consolations), C.S. Lewis says that we should …Accept these sensations with thankfulness as birthday cards from God, but remember that they are only greetings, not the real gift. I mean that it is not the sensations that are the real thing. The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.

…(Mere Christianity) Unless you teach your moods “where they get off”, you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion.

OUR IDENTITY HAS A FIRM FOUNDATION ONLY IN GOD.

Transformation of your mind, seeing the world in a whole new way, is not easy. It does mean a type of dying of the old self, but it also means the exhilaration of a new life being born in you.

It’s hard to describe this well, but sometimes we see this in movies, where people get some new piece of information that helps them to realize every assumption they had made about that person or that situation was all wrong.

The best one I can think of right now is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. But it also happens in smaller ways in other movies. Ask me afterwards if you want me to tell you but it may spoil any films you haven’t seen yet. Citizen Kane, Sixth Sense, The Village, The Wedding Singer, Clueless, Clue, I Am David.

When this happens, these people experience a type of death of old self and come back to new life anew.

The Christian nowadays must do the same. The only way to survive as a Christian in our world is to die, mentally – to have your world view transformed – so that your identity is founded IN GOD and not in yourself or what others say about you.

The reading today ends with the words of the Father over the Lord Jesus. These words are huge and should be prayed about in depth for every one of us. Have you ever let these words, spoken over you in your Baptism, to sink into the core of your being? If not, then I’d say right now is a great time to do so.


Saturday, December 26, 2020

Holy Family

 GKC “Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.”
– Brave New Family


Even though it was written 25 years ago, many Catholics in family life ministries believe that the Church is only beginning to see the fruits of John Paul II’s message to families.
Although he was a celibate priest like me, Wojtyla became very close to a circle of young people whom he pastored while serving as chaplain to university students in Krakow. As they married and had children, Fr. Wojtyla offered spiritual and pastoral guidance to their families that would inform his work well into his years as Pope John Paul II.
“He was able to support these young families, to help them live the faith at a time when Communist society was really trying to undermine the family, ordering work and school schedules in a way that systematically minimized their time with each other. The state, and not the family, was, according to the government, the ultimate good and end of society.
JPII was working in his own small way to fight this head on as a priest, then in a bigger way as a bishop, and finally, after being elected Pope, much of his wisdom about the sanctity and importance of marriage and family life can be found in his 1994 “Letter to Families.”
In his letter, John Paul II wrote that men and women, particularly in their roles as fathers and mothers in the family, are key to building up a “civilization of love,” in which families are able to give and receive love at individual and societal levels.
The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family.
we're not investing for the future of society or for the Church. We're just living for the present moment, and for our own selfish desires.
Who can deny that our age is one marked by a great crisis, which appears above all as a profound ‘crisis of truth?’” John Paul II wrote. “A crisis of truth means, in the first place, a crisis of concepts. Do the words ‘love’, ‘freedom’, ‘sincere gift’, and even ‘person’ and ‘rights of the person’, really convey their essential meaning?

It is in our hearts and in our homes that the Lord ultimately desires to reside as well - not just in this church. This is why Pope St. John Paul II called the home “the domestic church” – for children it is the first community of faith, and for all of us it is the first step in bringing God’s kingdom into the world.
The family needs the parish for support, and the parish needs the family for support. So our community is trying to build up the parish family by building up the domestic church. Prayer must become the dominant element of the Year of the Family in the Church: prayer by the family, prayer for the family, and prayer with the family,” John Paul II wrote. “Prayer increases the strength and spiritual unity of the family, helping the family to partake of God's own ‘strength.’    
Resources, workshops, and other avenues will be utilized throughout the year. Please refer to other parts of this bulletin for more information.
Goals: 1 - invest into our parish families of all types.  2 - We are in God’s family, adopted sons and daughters in Christ Jesus 3 - Christ must be at the center of our families 4 - support network for families in smaller communities within the parish called “households," starting officially in the fall.
If you are… this is for you.   recently married. married for years. empty nesters. widowed. divorced or in other difficult situations. unmarried, you still have a family! (I know I do!)
We can say that the family is the unit of the state; that it is the cell that makes up the formation. [...] If we are not of those who begin by invoking a divine Trinity, we must none the less invoke a human Trinity; and see that triangle repeated everywhere in the pattern of the world. GKC

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Homily

All your plans are stripped away. You can't do what you want. You are stuck in a room staring at a wall. You are separated from your friends. You barely get to go outside.

Fr. Alfred Delp: 1944 Munich Germany - Tegel prison
It is going to be a beautiful Christmas, despite everything, or perhaps because of everything. With the state setting on these days, it's real, without obstruction, and a person can stand in face ultimate reality.…I think that from all of this we're going to have a watchful and blessed time with the child. The contradiction of everything we take for granted, the setting aside of all our important matters. Powerlessness on the tight-rope is an education in understanding the child.
… I'd like to light some candles for you. You've been with me in my night, and you still have your own darkness to live through. We are all in this together, for sure. Together will pull through. And in the midst of the night, the light will shine. You'll see. Let's help one another, not we really, but singing and praying the old Carol's and prayers, more earnestly and soberly than before, but in a way that is closer to reality.

But [I am] always trying to transform these whimpers into the only two realities that make this place worthwhile: adoration and love. Everything else is false. Believe me, these weeks have been a kind of bitter and unrelenting judgment on my past life. It's standing right here as a big question demanding its final answer, its seal. … during these weeks I've learned and re-learned enough for years.

Pope Benedict XVI:  On every child shines something of the splendor of that “today,” of that closeness of God which we ought to love and to which we must yield.

With eyes of wonder. The eyes of a newborn child.

Wonder and awe at this great mystery: God in the flesh.

Eternity comes into time.

It’s like a full grown man trying to wear the clothes of a kindergartner. Growing up in my house, our favorite pajamas were to simply wear my dad's T-shirts that were in his closet from 5Ks and other races that he had participated in. Everyone loved dad’s “running shirts” because we could curl our legs up into the shirt and fit our whole self inside. But not once did my dad ever wear one of my T-shirts. If he did I wouldn't have worn it ever again because it would have been destroyed.

Here’s another part of this great mystery: Omnipotence is weak. The all-powerful who created the stars with a “big bang” as easily as saying “let there be light” cannot hold up his head. The one who knit you together in your mother’s womb before you were born nine months (or so) later, He cannot move his arms in His swaddling clothes - he’s stuck, and he can get cold and hungry and sleepy. WHA?!


Pope Benedict XVI: In Jesus Christ, the son of God, God himself, God from God, became man. God's everlasting "today" has come down into the fleeting today of the world and lifted our momentary today into God's eternal today. God is so great that he can become small. God is so powerful that he can make himself vulnerable, and come to us as a defenseless child, so that we can love him. God is so good that he can give up his divine splendor and come down to a stable, so that we might find him, so that his goodness might touch us, give itself to us and continue to work through us. God has become one of us, so that we can be with him and become like him.

This is a great love story. What do lovers do? They talk, a lot. They hold hands. They spend all kinds of time together. They do all this to get close to each other, trying to share everything they can with the one they love.
That’s why God does this. We needed salvation, but God could have done it another way. He chose this way for a greater purpose.
And that is what God wants. He wants you to get close to him, to share everything you can. How can we do this? Here’s a couple ideas for this Christmas.

SING CHRISTMAS CAROLS: Make the home a place of worship. This year has especially taught us how important and how challenging that is for living and passing on the faith. I encourage you to go and sing your favorite Christmas carols at home together, since we cannot do so here. Look up lyrics online for these songs. You may also like to read from the beginning of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Talk to Jesus about your hopes for peace, your dreams for unity, reconciliation, and forgiveness, your longings for truth and justice and holiness.

END OF MASS?? The search of the shepherds. Sometimes it is hard to find God in our lives but that doesn’t mean He isn’t there.


homily - Advent 3rd (Gaudete Sunday)

This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday because "gaudete" (the command to "rejoice!") is the first word of this week's Mass. The entrance antiphon begins the Mass with the words "Rejoice"!

This is echoed in our first reading today from Isaiah 61 v. 10: I rejoice heartily in the Lord. The Hebrew language uses repetition for emphasis, and thus the word rejoice is used twice in a row, as it is also picked up in the Latin translation St. Jerome gave us 14 centuries ago: "I rejoice rejoicing in the Lord."

In today's 2nd reading, it becomes clear what true joy is: holiness. And St. Paul makes it clear that holiness doesn't come from us.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.

However, this does not mean we do not cooperate, as I stressed last week from the message of repentance we hear from John the Baptist. (Gregory of Nyssa) He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.

In fact, St. Paul also gives us a recipe for joy. We can all probably think of a type of Christmas cookie or other special food that we really cherish around this time of year, and each one of these has a special recipe. If we don't follow that recipe, we won't end up with the same cookies or whatever it is that we remember so fondly. If we try to abandon that and do it our own way, we end up missing our goal, it's not right.

If you want to be joyful at all times, simply follow the recipe of St. Paul, the advice he gives us today. Try it for the next two weeks. See if it works. If you do nothing that goes against this, you will have joy. Rejoice always, he tells us, and then gives us the program: Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.

 

CCC 736 By this power of the Spirit, God's children can bear much fruit. He who has grafted us onto the true vine will make us bear "the fruit of the Spirit: . . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." "We live by the Spirit"; the more we renounce ourselves, the more we "walk by the Spirit."
(Basil the Great) Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven, and adopted as children, given confidence to call God "Father" and to share in Christ's grace, called children of light and given a share in eternal glory.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Homily - Advent 2

 The Jordan River was the “gate” so to speak by which the people of Israel entered the promised land, as told in the book of Joshua. Just like they went through the waters of the Red Sea to be set free from slavery 40 yrs earlier, the Hebrew people go through the Jordan River. When the Messiah is finally among them, hiding and waiting, John the Baptist begins his work of preparing the way at the same Jordan River. He message is clear: he is calling us to conversion from sin through a baptism of repentance.
The Church brings us these readings today to remind us that Advent is not a time to slouch around. That petitionary prayer: “Come, Lord and save us!” is not permission for us to be lazy because God is going to fix everything.

Think of a child sitting on a couch watching television and calling to a parent to go get them some food or drink. They don’t want to get up and do the work. Just bring me this please.

That’s not Advent, friends. “Couch Christianity” is fake Christianity. We need to cooperate with God’s grace, as a bride dancing with her husband must be attentive and responsive to the movements of his lead.

For the next two and a half weeks of this season, and truly for the entire Christian life, that means always hearing again and again the call of Jesus (and first also the call of John the baptist): The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,  repent and believe in the Gospel.

Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, came to free us and save us, but from what? From our sins and the slavery it brings us. The only way to do this is to heal our hearts so that they can actually love. Every sin destroys a bit of the love and justice that the Lord’s kingdom is meant to embody and shine forth. We sometimes confuse sin with self-disgust, a sense of not measuring up to this idea of what we want to be. Sin is not the same as our human poverty - that we are creatures who need God every moment of every day. Jesus isn’t going to take away that need for Him, He only wishes to satisfy it for those who truly open themselves to it - precisely by turning away from sin and turning towards God. That is true conversion.

with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day… he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. the day of the Lord will come like a thief. This is the second week in a row the readings mention the image of a thief, last week Jesus said it in the Gospel. This is a scary image. We won’t be ready. We will be surprised terribly if we aren’t trying to pay attention now. The urgency is clear.

In order that we don't become lazy in the spiritual life, it is helpful to make a daily practice of the examination of conscience or of some other technique for reviewing our lives. A different method, called the daily examen of St. Ignatius, is particularly powerful for finding God's hand at work in your life. I highly recommend this practice for "staying awake" and not turning into a "couch christian."

1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.

links to more info on the EXAMEN PRAYER: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/

A DAILY EXAMINATION based on 7 capital sins: http://www.standrewsemporia.org/uploads/1/0/9/8/10980758/selfexamination.pdf