Audio Available!

Audio Available!
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!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Homily 2-16-2014 "Forever" and Marriage

 Sirach tells us today: If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live. This is a good summary of the call to conversion that we hear every Sunday in one way or another. In our hearts we hear God wake us up and show us what we were made to be.
Do not murder, nor adulterate, nor divorce, nor lie. These commandments in today's Gospel are good starting points, and if you keep them (which means to let them thrive in your heart and in your actions), then you will live. Jesus takes that foundation and ups the ante today, when he demands a righteousness that surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees (those most upright people of His time). He shows us what we are truly called to.... and points out a funny thing about our fallen human nature: if we don't try for the best, we don't get very far. We have to go for it all as Christ calls us to, or we won't even make the minimum that the commandments demand of us.
It's National Marriage week, and the Holy Father met on Friday with 10,000 of engaged couples for a special audience in honor of the love celebrated on Valentine's Day. He was asked many questions, and one that was most important to me was about the fear of “forever.” This to me is a foundational crisis we all go through: how can someone be certain and make a perpetual commitment that steers their entire life? Fear of “forever” is the start of our vocation crisis, whether it be marriage, priesthood, or a life of faith in general – if we live in fear, we will never go “all in.” Pope Francis' answer was “forever” is built day-by-day, and is built up like a house, stone upon stone, board upon board.
My grandma is slowly passing from this earth, resigning herself to the cancer that has ravaged her energy and her appetite (but Thanks be to God, no pain). I went home and on Thursday I celebrated Mass at her bedside with grandpa, just the three of us on a makeshift altar. Right behind grandma hangs the photograph of them leaving Church on their wedding day. Afterwards, we talked for five minutes and she was thinking back to times when she was a child, showing me the miraculous medal she has worn since she was about 15. I squeezed her hand a little and she squeezed back, saying, “how did you know that? Who told you that?” I said, “Told me what?” “Me and your grandpa have been doing that for years.” And squeezing my hand three times she said, “I...Love...You.” and then four times for “I Love You, Too.” Then her exhaustion forced her to rest again. Little things, that's what builds up to “forever.” So don't be afraid of forever, just build it up day-by-day.

Say “yes” for today. Let our yes be yes and our no be no. Jesus is all yes. The cross shows us that God is not afraid of loving us forever. The Eucharist is the source of our strength to make that same commitment to our world and to each other. In our marriages we make a forever “yes” to another. In my priesthood I made a forever “yes” to Jesus and to you, His Bride, the Church. And this month, the Lord is calling our parish to make a kind of “yes” also to this campaign for our future, a “yes” built up day-by-day and founded on the “yes” that Jesus is for us. I now invite parishioner Jack Ruhe to come to the cantor stand and share his experience of responding generously to Christ's “yes” through his life. Thank you, Jack.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Homily 2-2-2014 Light in the Darkness

Today I want to quickly give you something to reflect on.  One of the questions every person must answer is this: What is the point of pain and suffering?  Is life just hard sometimes?  Why do we have to endure such trials?
The Blessed Mother today is promised to undergo suffering.  Some promise, huh?  If someone came up to me and simply said, "You've got yourself a long and ugly road ahead," then my response would probably be "Wow, thanks a lot!"  But Mary doesn't flinch, she only treasures these words in her heart and looks to her Son.
That's the way we all should address that deep question we have to answer.  Let us look to Mary's Son, who Himself, infinitely more than Mary, didn't deserve to suffer.  But despite that, he freely chose it.  And for this we give thanks, because we know we do not suffer alone.
One year ago, my spiritual director, Bishop D'Arcy, who mentored me all my life and especially those first 1.5 years of priesthood, passed away.  I visited him on Feb. 1st, watched Him suffer on his death bed, celebrated Mass with him and my brother and Fr. Bill.  As he clung to a crucifix, we knew that he wasn't suffering for nothing.  He was being purified, as we all are in this life.  I thank God for the witness Bishop D'Arcy was all my life, especially in his last moments.
Today Mary and Joseph come to the Temple, bearing the Son, and giving thanks to the Father.  They thank God for the blessings, for how he works even in the midst of their difficulties.  They are truly a light for us also.
Both in Sacred Scripture and in Church liturgical life, The light of a candle is a very layered image, evoking a wide array of meanings and allusions.  It represents our faith when we are told to at baptism to keep the light burning until the day Christ Jesus' return in glory.  It represents Jesus Himself when at the Easter Vigil we remember that the resurrection is the light that shines in the darkness of human history.  It represents the soul infused by the Holy Spirit just as the tongues of flame hovered over the Apostles at Pentecost.  It represents the truth and goodness of the Christian who is called to be a lamp shining in the world.
As we at St. Pius Parish reflect on how to be a better light to the world with Christ in our hearts, please watch this video in preparation of our parish campaign.  It shows us some of what we are called to be at St. Pius, and what we hope to become more and more as a parish family shining light in the darkness.