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Be sure to check out in each blog post the links to the audio recordings of my homilies. They are at the beginning of each post! Also, look to the right for links to Audio from other good resources!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fr. T. Coonan Homily 7-29-2012 Eucharist: Sacrament of True Unity

Fr. T. Coonan Homily 7-29-2012 Unity in Communion with Christ

As I was praying this week with today's readings, I was reflecting on how Unity is so important in life, whether it is with our families, friends, co-workers, etc.

Friday night I was watching the opening ceremonies for the London Olympics, and I was moved by the Torch lighting ceremony – over 200 flames forming one great fire – a powerful symbol of unity between cultures, though truly more of an aspiration than a reality. If only they were completely united! Yet we know that the current state of affairs cannot be as good as it gets; there's a lot to be desired.

This is because as long as there is sin, there is disunity, since sin always says me over and against God and against others. Sin destroys relationships because it destroys our ability to love.

True unity is only fulfilled in the church, in God. Because God, who is a unity of persons, calls us to the same type of communion. This is what St. Paul describes in our second reading today from Ephesians: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one hope, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. God is the source of our unity. Saint Paul also describes, in the great image of the body with many parts, a difference among the members, as we hear from CCC 814:
From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God's gifts and the diversity of those who receive them. Within the unity of the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together. Among the Church's members, there are different gifts, offices, conditions, and ways of life.

Thus the unity of God, who is a communion of persons, is seen also in the church in the unity of her different members as they become the one Body of Christ. And nothing shows this to us more clearly than the Eucharist, which we hear of in the Gospel. It is our Eucharistic Lord Jesus that draws us together as one.

This is described Didache, an ancient writing of the early church written about the same time as the last books of the New Testament. This text, which we will use in our hymn after communion (Father, We Thank Thee Who Hast Planted), prays that just as the grains of the field are united in the broken bread that is offered in the Mass, so also may the peoples of the world be gathered into one in the Church of Jesus Christ.

Miracle of the Mass – greater than miracle of bread. Listen to what happens in the words of consecration at Mass: for 2000 years, the same actions of Christ at the Last Supper were foreshadowed in this miracle of the multiplication of the loaves: he takes, blesses, breaks, and gives the bread. This is what the Eucharist symbolizes in the Cross, when Christ took, blessed, broke, and gave his body to us on Calvary! May the Eucharist, the great Sacrament of Unity, draw our hearts into one.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Homily 7-22-2012 Staying Close to the Source of Life

Fr. T. Coonan Homily: 7-22-2012 Staying Close to the Source of Life
On the Fourth of July, after things were done in the parish, I went to spend the rest of the day with my family at a lake in northeast Indiana. When I arrived, my family warned me immediately: “don't dive off the dock, or at least be ready for very shallow water.” The lake had lost its depth this summer, being about a foot and a half lower than it normally is, and we all know why: there wasn't any rain, and the high temperatures made it much worse. The lake was giving and not being replenished.
Our Lord today commands his apostles to be replenished, saying “come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Rest here means what happens next: time alone with God. Even if it isn't for long before they get back into the swing of things, the apostles cannot survive without that time. They will run themselves dry, they will have nothing left to offer, if they are not replenished from the source of their life.
We ourselves are also God's messengers, baptized into Christ the great Priest, Prophet, and King, and we are to bring the message of Christ to the world as the apostles have done. However, if we don't stay close to the Lord, the message we carry will end up being more of our own than of His.
“Come away and rest a while.” Even though God sends us out on our mission to bring the Gospel to the world through our lives and relationships, we have to continually return to Him in order to fulfill that vocation properly.
Take Mother Teresa for an example: She said the only reason she and her sisters were able to serve the poor for 10-14 hours/day was because they first spent an hour with God in prayer before the tabernacle and the crucifix. This “rest” where they were taught in the classroom of silence by being with Christ was what kept them from running dry.
It is sometimes surprising how we often make God's will some difficult, harsh thing that is hard to follow, even if it's the right thing for us. Well, here's one of the many examples where God's will is easy, refreshing, and agreeable to us.
So why don't we do it enough? Why do we fail to rest in God through our prayer? Why do we fill up our Sundays with unnecessary activities that fill us with stress instead of with peace?
If God is our Shepherd, let us prove it by resting with him, listening to His voice, and following His lead. Whatever works for you, do it: whether it is the rosary, the Bible (esp. the Gospels), reading the lives or writings of the saints, meditating with Sacred Art or Music, or coming to the Chapel to be with the Lord Jesus present in the Eucharist. God isn't picky about how you pray, how you obey his command to “rest” with Him; He is picky about you in fact doing it!
Lastly, I beg you to spend some time praying for your pastors, your shepherds: Fr. Bill, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Pope Benedict XVI. Beg God to help them stay close to the heart of Christ, so that we may always remain close to Christ by their faithful care of His Flock. May they always be replenished by God, the Source of all Goodness, so that they may bring His message to us and never run dry.

Homily 7-15-2012

 Last week we heard Saint Paul say, I am content with weaknesses and persecutions for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Today we see once again that God does not call those who are equipped for the task at hand; He rather equips those whom he calls. We see this in the characters from today.
The prophet Amos had nothing to do whatsoever with prophecy, but was called by God to go from the Southern part of the promised land and preach a hard message to the northerners. Beyond inconveniences, He clearly suffered insults and spurns for doing God's will.
The Apostles in the Gospel today are, like Amos, what the world would consider to be nobodies. However, God equips them to bring the message of the Gospel to the world on this their first mission. And in the instruction we see what style this work of evangelization takes: it is focused, it is unwavering, it is life-giving.
The mission of the Twelve is focused because they are not to concern themselves with amenities: they are told not to “shop around” for the best host they can find. Also, they take no extra clothes, no cash, nothing except sandals and walking stick: symbols that they are on the move – not to be relaxing on their laurels.
Their mission is unwavering because they are told to shake off the dust of towns that do not accept them. They are not interested with immediate results. Their task is to sow the seed; God is the one who sees to its growth. They must keep moving, keep sharing the news, and not be discouraged by what does or does not happen in the midst of it all.
The mission is life-giving because we see that their ministry is essentially focused on healing the sick and driving out demons. This seems to go hand-in-hand with their message of preaching repentance. Since sin is death, then repentance is life. The work of evangelization always gives life to those who receive it, because it echoes Jesus' opening words: “Turn away from sin, believe in the Gospel.”
The life-giving nature of the Gospel is found in the beautiful hymn of St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians that we hear today. I encourage you to reflect on this text over the next week, to discover how in Christ we have received every spiritual blessing in the heavens. This encounter with the Good News is what equips us to spread the Gospel. God does not call the equipped, he equips the called. May he strengthen us today by this Eucharist, this gift of all gifts, to be messengers of his Good News who are focused, unwavering, and life-giving.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Homily 7-1-2012

Today Christ shows us servant leadership: He who was rich in what really counts becomes poor so that we, the poor, may become rich. The cross shows us that self-emptying love is the only true love. There, on Calvary, God has done everything He can to not only reveal his great love for us, but to give us every good gift possible, especially His Grace and the gift of everlasting life for which we are destined.

"God did not make death," Wisdom tells us. "He formed man to be imperishable." It is sin that brings death, which is why those who accompany the devil are the ones who experience it.

Not all sin is equal, but their effects are the same. Whether they are great sins or small ones, our actions bring about death into our lives and into those around us. Even little venial sins, committed regularly with little or no attempt to change, even these injure the body of Christ, they cause it to bleed in pain like the woman with the hemmhorage of 12 years.

That twelve years connects this story with the greater story it is found in, where Jairus' daughter is 12 years old. Thus the evangelist makes clear that these two stories are meant to be taken together. The truth they teach is unlocked with the help of the other.

Two women show us two ways to be healed by God: in one, the sinner goes to God who draws near and passes by; in the other, one waits as the Lord comes to her and seeks her out. In one, the prayers and faith of others bring the healing and salvation of God; in the other, it is her own faith in action that has made her well.

"Do not be afraid; only have faith." So many people trudge through life under the burdens of fear: Fear of loss. Fear of failure. Fear of changing your plans. Fear of what others may think. Only Faith in a loving, all-powerful God who has a plan for our lives will free us from this.

Do you know of someone you love who has been bleeding in pain for years? Family fight? Harsh words? Running from God or others? Have you yourself been living with great hurt either from your own sin or the sins of others? Whether it is you or another who is in need, let your faith in the power of Christ, the loving healer, bring the peace and salvation that our hearts long for. Run to Him, reach out in faith through extra prayer, through new works of charity, through random acts of kindness, through running to confession if needed. "God does not delight in the destruction of the living." Jesus tells us that He came that you may have life, and have it to the full. What are you waiting for?

Today, on this altar, Our Lord passes by, and we have the opportunity to reach out to Him. Today he comes to us to make us well. May our Eucharistic Lord bring His power and save us from the death of sin and evil, and fill us with His love.

7-8-2012 Homily - The Messenger and the Message

We have just heard how Our Lord received a terribly cold welcome into his hometown of Nazareth. They are all bent out of shape because they have heard of Jesus doing wonderful signs everywhere else, gaining some worldly fame among the people, and they seem neglected and this fills them with contempt. Because of this, they are unable to hear what Jesus has to say, their faith is weak, and they are unable to receive similar great signs. And Jesus, after doing what little He can, moves on to other towns.

In the first reading we hear a similar story: Ezekiel must preach the Word of the Lord to His People whether they want to hear it or not, so that at least this rebellious lot will know that there was a prophet in their midst. So today, let us remember, and pray for, our Pope, our Bishop Kevin and all bishops and priests, that when they preach they do not shy away from the truth that the Lord wishes to speak through them, because whether it is easy to hear or not, it is truly for our good.

I bet the people of Nazareth and the Jews of Ezekiel's time had the same struggle: they did not want to hear what the Lord had to say. And one of the easiest ways to disregard the message, and something that people still do today, is to throw out the messenger by pointing out their faults. For example, let's look at myself and Father Bill. One easy thing that could be said of Father Terry, and I hear it a lot, is that I am so young! This can be used to mean I don't have enough experience or knowledge of life, etc. Well, don't worry, I agree with that quite a bit! Turning to Father Bill, what could we say? Ah, only too easy to say, especially for me, is that, even if he doesn't look it, he is so old!

What we need to remember is that when someone is speaking the Word of the Lord, The message is not their own. They are sharing God's message to you. We can tell this difference when something turns our heart and reaches our soul. Because people can speak to our ears and minds, but only the Holy Spirit can reach to our heart and soul and demand that we “turn away of from sin and be faithful to the Gospel!”

And so, in these messages, The real messenger is God, not the person bringing it, because God alone speaks to us in this deep and powerful way. No one else is able.

Lest we forget this mission is not only for our priests, bishops, and pope, we need to recall that all of us are baptized into the prophetic mission of Christ. We share in the Universal call to proclaim the Gospel to our world.

CCC 851 Missionary motivation. It is from God's love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, "for the love of Christ urges us on." Indeed, God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"; that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.

What ways should a Christian manifest his concern for those who don't believe? What does it look like? Should we be nagging, antagonistic, prodding, provoking? Are we completely silent? Do we speak around it? Do we let our actions speak? The Holy Spirit will guide us in how we are to proclaim the Gospel, but let us do so after the example of Christ our Leader and Brother. Following His example in today's gospel, let us not be discouraged when sometimes people do not listen. If Jesus didn't convert every heart, why should we be discouraged if we cannot?
Let us pray to Our Lord as we receive this Holy Communion that we will not only be good listeners to the Lord when he speaks to us, but also good bearers of His message, proclaiming it in season and out.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

5/27/2012 Homily (Pentecost)

Our Cathedral in Fort Wayne is in Honor of Mary, The Immaculate Conception. Every window shows a scene of Mary's life, and the largest and greatest window is found behind the altar and beautiful wooden raredos in the sanctuary. Picture of Dove (Holy Spirit) is directly above that window, to show that without the Holy Spirit, Mary' slife would have been ordinary and unimportant, since every event of her life, including her own conception without sin and her later consent to bear Christ in her womb, was overshadowed with the blessing of His Grace.
As He was the source of her holiness, so today we see that The Holy Spirit is the source of the Church's life and mission. The dynamic of life in the Church is from the top-down, not from the ground-up, just like the Cathedral shows us.
As the Church first prayed nine days for the coming of the Spirit, so do we unwaveringly beg from God the gifts that we need for our life.
And those prayers are always answered. Any studying of Church History will show you in hundreds of ways how the Holy Spirit knows what we need and gives us the Grace to carry out His Mission, indeed Christ's mission entrusted to us: to be witnesses to the Resurrection in our own time and place.
Today, Deacon Jacob Meyer became a priest. He is now called (and I know this will sound a little frightening), Father Jacob Meyer! This new priest who grew from our own parish community, especially over the past six years of his time in seminary formation, is a concrete sign that the Holy Spirit can work and is indeed working in the lives and hearts of the faithful here in this parish. If we open our hearts to God's plan, we will find God doing wondrous things in our hearts, too. They won't necessarily have all the flare of tongues of flame, speaking in new languages, or administering the sacraments in the person of Christ the High Priest, but they are not for that reason any less real, nor less remarkable, nor less important. A father or mother who loves his or her children so perfectly that he gives up his own hobbies and plans that they may have time with mom or dad and know they are cherished and fostered, they are just as critical to the life of the Church. A teenager who prays daily that God will help him or her to be a saint and prepare their hearts to make a gift in their later vocation, they are exactly what the Holy Spirit needs to work with to change our world. A faithful Christian whose life of constant prayer becomes a source of intercession for the Church in her mission to be a light to our world, that is the most important part of the Church's future - for if we are to have any future at all, it has to come from above. We cannot fulfill this mission on our own. We need God. We need the Holy Spirit, the one gift that bears all others unto us. With Him, all things are possible.
That Holy Spirit comes to us through prayer and the sacraments, particularly Sunday Mass. And where would we receive the sacraments if we have no priests? Where would priests come from without a seminary formation? As I also celebrate my own ordination to the priesthood and my first Holy Mass last year on Pentecost Sunday, I give thanks to God for my years in seminary where I grew in the Holy Spirit's Graces so that I could one day be a vessel, as unworthy as I am, of Christ's priestly power for His Church. As we recall how The Holy Spirit is the source of the Church's life and mission, I beg you to pray for priests and to consider generously donating to the Pentecost Sunday Collection for seminarians.
May the Holy Spirit of Fire, of Courage, and of Love, continue to strengthen the Church for its mission by uniting us more deeply to Christ, Our Head and Shepherd!

6/10/2012 Homily

Homily for June 10, 2012
The Eucharist, as the Catechism famously says, is the Source and Summit of our faith, because it is God Himself in whom we exist and whom we seek as Our Goal. If this is true, any part of our faith can be directed toward the Eucharist as part of understanding it. So let's give this a try. We are going to take today's reading and see what it has to do with this quote from Saint Athanasius: The Glory of God is man fully truly living, and the life of man is to behold God.

We have heard a lot in today's readings about blood. Blood for the Jew is equivalent to life. And of all the gifts God gives to mankind, life is the most fundamental and in so many ways the most precious. So blood represents God's greatest gift to created beings, including the human race.
Since it was his gift, God demanded an account for when blood was shed. Remember how God tells Cain that the blood of his brother Abel cries out from the earth for justice. Blood could never be abused. It was God's special domain.
The Jews could not unnecessarily touch or to eat the blood, this was why they had such strict dietary laws. Genesis 9:4 Saving that flesh with blood you shall not eat. And contact with blood or impure meat made you unclean for three days, you could not enter the Temple.
In temple sacrifices, animals were drained before being sacrificed. God does not want his gift of life offered back to Him, because it would be in a sense wasting it.

Perhaps this strict law of avoiding blood and not sacrificing it to God was so that man could at the fullness of time receive once again the gift that God had already given him, but in a new way.
Now the life that the blood symbolizes which was already given to man is giving in and you more complete more fulfilling way. Jesus Christ gives not just physical human biological life, but rather super natural to find life: God's greatest and ultimate gift to the human race.
This is the great mystery we find in the Eucharist – in the Body and Blood of Christ. Here God gives us more than just our daily life by which we can enjoy all the other wonderful gifts he has given us. Here he gives us more; here he gives us what were created for, what we must deeply long for: Communion with Himself who is our Creator and Our Lord. Can this mystery ever be exhausted? The saints have spent their lives reflecting on it, cherishing it, adoring it.

Saint Athanasius: The Glory of God is man fully truly living, and the life of man is to behold God.

May the Lord God who daily offers Himself to us in bread and wine be our very life, not merely human life, but life in its truest and deepest sense: life to the full, life for all eternity in God.