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, September 21, 2014

Homily - Views on Work: Stewardship vs. Consumerism

Audio: Click here

I want to make sure before my long tirade that we all are clear on the main point of this Gospel, so here it is: Heaven is worth anything - anything, even martyrdom.  Don't get sucked in to imagining that it's not enough to satisfy every single desire you could ever want.
Okay, now I'm going to talk about stewardship.  In this world of sin, our fallen human nature has that tendency toward sin (called concupiscence) that makes us see things from a corrupted perspective: we look at work and boil it down to just some way to get money, like in the parable.  But as Isaiah tells us, "my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways."  God remembers what work was meant to be.  We Catholics have to start thinking about things at a deeper level, not get sucked into the shallow views of the culture.
If we look around, we can see that work is not just about money.  The teachers in our school aren't doing it for the big paycheck, folks.  Their excellent skills could be compensated much better in public schools, but they stay at St. Pius because there is something besides money in their work here.
In today's Gospel parable, some of the workers  are sucked into the culture's way of thinking.  They look at work with a consumerist mentality: "what am I giving? what am I getting?"  Apparently consumerism has been around for quite some time in one form or another.  But the interesting thing about those 11th-hour workers is this: were they playing the game of "the best deal" or were they resisting a consumerist mindset?  I think they were waiting around for something worth giving their lives to.  And when the Lord invited them, they jumped at the opportunity and discovered a better way to live: Stewardship.
Stewardship helps us to think about work and about money at a deeper level: ultimately, every good thing we have is either a direct or derivative gift from God - it can all be traced back to His generous love.  Along with that, our work is a necessary collaboration with God's plan for our world: to make a communion of saints here on earth and not just in heaven.  So work is much bigger than just money, and here are some big examples:
1. Whether it is a paid job, a sport, an artistic talent, a chore at home, or a school assignment, work sanctifies us. We become saints one bit at a time, something that money could never buy.  Work fosters virtues in our hearts: discipline, perseverance, patience, courage, prudence, self-control, humility.  All of these are the building blocks of holiness, and many are fruits or gifs of the holy spirit.
2.  Work build's God's kingdom of peace and justice.  By work, we get a chance to let God work through us in bringing heaven to earth.
3.  Work teaches us to love.  In work, we learn how to properly relate to others and give of ourselves.  So many parts of any task (paid or otherwise) are done better if we are considerate and kind toward others.  This helps us to infuse love into all that we do.
Those are just a few examples.  I welcome you to think up some more from your own reflections.

Lastly, we find ourselves in the parable among those workers.  The question comes to all of us: who will you serve?  God or stuff?  Will you be a consumer, or a steward?  As I now invite Jan Druyvesteyn to come forward for her witness in stewardship, let us pray for the grace to remember that heaven is worth anything.

Witness Message for Stewardship Services - September 20 & 21, 2014
Saint Pius X Catholic Church (by Jan Druyvesteyn)

Four years ago this fall, I began weekly sessions in RCIA, thanks to Father Bill’s encouragement. I was received into full communion in the church the following Easter Vigil, and things have not been the same since. That’s the reason, this Stewardship Weekend (Sunday) I am grateful to share my story.
By way of introduction to the Catholic Church my husband (a new Catholic himself) gave me a subscription to The Magnificat – the monthly meditation that I know many of you read. The daily Scripture readings, prayers, and meditations opened my heart and fed me spiritually. So much so, that after a year, I was actually “dependent” on reading it each day. That was the beginning of the path that led to Saint Pius. What was happening, I realized, was the fulfillment of the words in the Epistle of James, chapter 4:8, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”  And God did – beyond my imagining.
To my surprise, I discovered that the Scripture readings for today hold that same message: Isaiah 55: “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near,” and  Psalm 145: “The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.”
So – drawing near to God ever more faithfully through prayer, reading God’s word, and listening in silence to the Holy Spirit, re-set priorities in my life. I began closely watching how I used my time and ally resources. I realized I was swept away – as most of us are – by the presumed “need” in our society for more and more possessions, for the excuses to be self-indulgent (think... specialty coffee drinks, the extra glass of wine … fill in the blanks) – and the mindless living with excess. 
What’s interesting is that I didn’t intentionally decide to change any habits. The changes occurred because I had drawn nearer to God. And one of those changes, or decisions, was how – and how much – I was giving to the church. I no longer viewed my annual pledge as an obligation, but rather an act of worship.  It’s thanksgiving! And that’s also what the Eucharist is for us each time we are here in worship to receive the body and blood of Christ. 
All that we have is from God – entrusted to us to serve him.  So I asked myself, “How can I possibly thank God except to return to him in thanks-giving ALL my gifts: time, talent, and treasure.
We are blessed to be members of this parish, to worship in a community that supports one another and seeks to be faithful witnesses of Christ’s love. We are blessed by Father Bill and Father Terry who lead us in worship and help guide us along our way through life. Many of us know what it’s like to have Father Bill walk through the door of a hospital room. He is in that instant the face of Christ.  And how often he, and Father Terry come alongside us when we are in need of comfort, support, or blessing.
I had a very dear friend, name Elsie, who rather late in her life discovered the peace and joy of drawing near to God. Elsie always said, “Gratitude is everything.”  May we all count our blessings today – in gratitude – and pray for what we might do to repay those blessings – past, present, and future to our wonderful parish.  May we all be disciples – shining witnesses of Christ’s love to the world – so others may come into this fellowship, welcomed as I was, into the open arms of Christ’s love. For this, I give praise to God, and I thank you.

Jan Druyvesteyn

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homily for Saint Joseph High School (Wed. - St.Robert Bellarmine)

1 Cor. 13 is a passage that is used so often in marriages that priests joke about getting tired of it, but really no one gets tired of love, seeing it, hearing about it, living it.

As we have the service organizations by the chapel during lunches this week, I think it is important to remember that the word for love in Latin is caritas, charity, and the saint for today, Sept. 17, is a great example of charity.  Robert Bellarmine was an important apologist, who explained the faith during the protestant reformation.  Buried in Rome where he took care of so many beggars, Bellarmine was known for pawning off even his episcopal ring, and at least twice his own bed mattress in order to give money to the poor around him.  His financeer who was in charge of his giving as well, would often complain about things disappearing in the residence such as the drapes, to which St. Robert Bellarmine said "the walls won't catch a cold!" Instead of big decorative graves for his parents, he took care of the needy in their name.  Rome called him il nuovo poverello, the new little poor-one, referring to the great Saint Francis (which was actually Robert's middle name and his patron).

But Charity and service are meant to fill up our whole lives: we are called to love, so that every moment of our lives is spent in love, like Bellarmine spent anything for others.  We should remember the great insight of St. Therese of Lisieux and her discovery of her vocation.  Therese is a great saint, also a Doctor of the Church (one of 4 women and the youngest and most recent of them all).  She is actually my brother's favorite saint, but he's a little jealous that my birthday was the day she was born into heaven, just a couple weeks away.
Anyways, while in the convent, Therese struggled to figure out what exactly she was called to spend her life for.  She had such great desires and dreams, yet she felt so ill-equipped to accomplish any of them.  She wanted to be a priest bringing people the sacraments, a martyr shedding her blood for Jesus, a missionary bringing new souls into the Church, a doctor of the Church (like Bellarmine) who led many closer to God, and not give up the life of a cloistered nun spending herself in prayer with God and for others.
She searched for her answer using Lectio Divina (praying with Scripture and letting God speak to her, like I just taught you freshmen in religion class last week).  She used today's reading, 1 Cor. 12 and 13, she must have spent an hour or more in prayer, and now I will read her from her autobiography called The Story of a Soul.

At prayer these desires made me suffer a true martydom. I opened the Epistles of St. Paul to seek some relief. The 12th and 13th chapters of the First Epistle to the Corinthians fell before my eyes. I read, in the first, that not all can be apostles, prophets, and doctors, etc., that the Church is composed of different members, and that the eye cannot also be at the same time the hand.

The answer was clear, but it did not satisfy my desires, it did not give me peace.... Without being discouraged I continued my reading, and this phrase comforted me: “Earnestly desire the more perfect gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way” (1 Cor 12:31). And the Apostle explains how all gifts, even the most perfect, are nothing without Love... that charity is the excellent way that leads surely to God. At last I had found rest.... Considering the mystical Body of the Church, I had not recognized myself in any of the members described by St. Paul, or rather, I wanted to recognize myself in all... Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that if the Church has a body composed of different members, the noblest and most necessary of all the members would not be lacking to her. I understood that the Church has a heart, and that this heart burns with Love. I understood that Love alone makes its members act, that if this Love were to be extinguished, the Apostles would no longer preach the Gospel, the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood... I understood that Love embraces all vocations, that Love is all things, that it embraces all times and all places... in a word, that it is eternal!

Then in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: “O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation, my vocation is Love!... Yes, I have found my place in the Church, and it is you, O my God, who have given me this place... in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be Love!.... Thus I shall be all things: thus my dream shall be realized!!!”

Therese finds LOVE as the heart of her vocation.  The more we become like God, who is Love itself, the greatest good we are to those around us, because Love transforms everything.
God is love.  The words can almost be interchanged at any moment.  Any love that is worthy of the name is God.  So we can look at the words of St. Paul and say: God is patient, God is kind, God is not jealous, inflated, pompous or rude, etc.  We could also replace it with "the Father" or "The Son" or "Jesus" or "The Holy Spirit."
But here's the real good one for all of us: because we are called to love, we can use this passage as an Examination of Conscience for us.  Fr. Terry is patient.  "Am I patient? Am I jealous or rude or pompous?"  Maybe these words are too old-fashioned for you, so I thought about some better ways to say it: Do I bash people either in person or behind their backs, or on social media?  Do I get mad when something good happens to someone else instead of me?  Do I hold grudges?  Do I feel hurt when others get more attention than me?  Do I always want things to go my way?  Do I end up complaining about it?  Do I sulk?  Do I spread rumors to get back at people?  When was the last time I forgave someone?  When was the last time I sincerely asked for forgiveness? (that is part of rejoicing with the truth - having the humility to confess it).

Saint Paul talks also about the Old Man vs. New Man.  The Old is Adam, earthly and sinful.  The New is Jesus, born of God and heavenly, and glorified.  We as humans are a work in progress between the Old Man and the New Man.  We have all been born into a world of sin, with a confused and corrupted heart that often leads us away from God.  But we are also redeemed, or bought back, from those sins by Jesus' death on the cross.
Christ, the New Man, transforms us, if we let Him, into His image.  And The Mass is the place for that transformation.  Here in the Mass we see that love given, and we receive it in the Eucharist.  The Corinthians were scolded harshly by St. Paul precisely because the Mass and the accompanying "Feast of Love" or "Agape meal" became an opportunity for division instead of unity.  The struggle goes on today.  We all can ask ourselves if we really live out the true meaning of the Mass as well as we should.  I think the answer would be yes and no.  Yes we are trying, but no, we aren't there perfectly yet.
On our journey to becoming more like Jesus, to being Love like St. Therese, and to being generous servants of the poor like St. Robert Bellarmine, we have to keep remembering who we truly are meant to be: who God has redeemed us to be: the New Adam, Christ Jesus, who is perfectly patient, kind, not jealous, etc. like from 1 Cor. 13.  If we don't reaffirm our identity, the devil will sneak in and wedge our sins against us.  If we let him remind us of all we've done wrong, we will run and hide from God, and then we will hurt our community and ourselves by holding grudges, being jealous, complaining, and tearing down relationships instead of building the family of Saint Joseph High School.
Here at Mass, we ask God who is love to help us to put our sins and the sins of our neighbor behind us.  We lay those sins at the foot of the Cross.  If we need to, we return to His loving embrace through the sacrament of Confession.  And finally, in this Sacrament of Divine Love, we beg Jesus in the Eucharist to help us to become what we are already but not yet: perfect saints who let Him love the world through us.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Subversive power - God's wisdom

Homily recording (Sat night): Click Here

This feast of the exultation of the cross in many ways is the foundation of our parish. This Catholic community would not exist, unless it were for devotion to the holy cross, inspiring a congregation of religious priests and brothers that started in France, moved over to the United States and started a University in this area, establishing a strong Catholic presence. This parish was run by priests of the Holy Cross order for about 40 years and for much longer before that on the farm.

Paul speaks of the cross as a folly of God that is greater than human wisdom.

I am just starting a book called quiet which speaks to the subtle and often unnoticed power of being introverted in a society where extraversion and flaring personality are so often praised.  One example of such quiet strength is Rosa Parks, an absolute introvert that became a critical witness of the African-American civil rights movement.  Human wisdom wouldn't expect such a humble, simple person to be the watershed of such a huge event in American history. But that just shows how God works.

I just finished once again the first episode of Father Robert Barron's Catholicism series, an excellent set of DVDs containing 10 one-hour sessions on the Catholic faith.  Standing in the coliseum where Christians were once persecuted at the behest of the emperor, Father Barron talked about the power of God through Christ's cross and resurrection, and told a little anecdote about World War II. Pope Pius the 12th, after making some scathing criticism's of Joseph Stalin and Russia, apparently retorted back, "... And how many divisions does Pius the 12th have?" But the power of the Spirit is greater then the power of the sword, as we see in the fact that the successor of Joseph Stalin was overturned and overthrown by the successor of Pius the 12th: John Paul the second, who stopped the flow and broke the foundation of communism without a single bullet.

He spoke of the cross as a very interesting new type of battle that God uses to stop the terrible cycle of violence that we so often experience in our world. The early Christians would use the cross as a symbol of victory, even though the cross was so clearly a symbol of defeat and destruction and fear. This was a way that they would simply show them what for, to get in their face so to speak. It is a subversive act because the Romans would use the cross precisely to instill fear, saying "if you mess up, you will end up like this." The Christians held up the cross and said "we aren't afraid of that. You can't hurt us, God has already conquered death!" 

 I think the same thing applies to what has happened in recent weeks, and what  happened 13 years ago this past Thursday, in regard to terrorism.  What is going to conquer such a nebulous monster as the corruption and perversion of the human spirit? Nothing other than the power of God in the witness of his Son's victory over evil by the cross! Certainly indeed we respond prudently to stop the spread of this evil, with the guidance of our church's leaders, face-to-face. But at the same time, we must not give in to the mind of this world: that the force of power and domination alone is enough, when we know that God's power is not shown in such a way.

Another important part of today's salinity is the transformation of human suffering. So many people in our world despair about suffering. Euthanasia, suicide, and other illnesses are clear signs that people cannot make meaning out of suffering. They get caught in it, and fall to despair.

But today we recall that Jesus suffered. She knows intense pain, intense isolation, intense betrayal, absolute rejection and animosity. He took all of that upon himself, bearing our curses, and now has turned them into something that can save us. If only we do not run away from suffering. We cannot avoid it, we were made for it to some degree. Our longing heart finds suffering in our world no matter what path we take, no matter how good we have it.  Suffering comes to every single one of us, so what are we going to do with it? If we want it to eat us alive, it can. If we wanted to draw us closer to God, to make us live happier lives, to transform our vision of the world, and to teach us to love, it can. Today from this cross we receive that sacrament of love poured out for us.   Even in an imperfect world where our hearts will always suffer, let us allow the holy cross to be the source and center of our lives and of our joys. 

Capital punishment in some ways is a sign of weakness within a society, since  it is a testament that they cannot truly win over a person's mind & soul.

In Anticipation of Tomorrow's Feast - My Friend's Cross and the New Life it Brings

Please watch this video if you haven't seen or heard about the Comeau family.  Also, a homily about Josh.

Stop and pray a Hail Mary for them all.

In Christ,
~Fr. Terry

Other links to Comeau News/Prayers: 
Caring Bridge

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Fraternal Correction

Homily audio from 10:30 Mass: Click Here

          In the  Lord of the Rings, one of the greatest images for the Church is found in the house of healing after the great battle.  There, the king heals, and the wounds of the past darkness are healed.  People are healed together and through each other.
          Today the readings speak of what is traditionally known as "fraternal correction," which literally means setting your brother back on the straight or right path.  In our world we might refer to it as calling someone out or to the carpet, or "being real," but the readings make a clear emphasis that this is not about a power-game to humiliate another or put ourselves on higher ground; rather, it comes from a sincere concern for the good of another.
          We talked about this a lot in seminary and learned how to practice it to some degree.  I remember one retreat the director spoke about the need for genuine correction in these words (kind of paraphrased): if your brother seminarian - who one day may be called by God to be a priest and be called "father" after God the Father and be called "another Christ" (alter christus) - if he is out of line and won't listen to reason when you try to speak to him, fraternal charity (in fact what Paul talks about today as the only true fulfillment of the law) charity demands that you take that brother out for a walk, and beat the snot out of him and replace it with some good sense!
          Now that was really a joke but he was stressing that we often quit too early on correction, and sometimes the cost of silence is too high, like with a priest, who role is so critical for people's spiritual lives!!
          Perhaps a better example of today's gospel is what I heard a friend do at a Notre Dame football game.  A couple people in the stands were clearly intoxicated, disruptive, and using foul language.  He  and those with him turned around and told the men to cut it out. They snapped back and in a minute or so were back at it.  They corrected them again, with others in the area joining in, and it worked for a fee more minutes. But after the mouths kept going they got the ND ushers who took those fools away.  Like Jesus says, "if they still don't listen, then treat them as you would one of the USC fans." That's the new translation for the word "pagan."
          Fraternal correction is one of the casualties of individualism and relativism in our country.  With the weakening of universal truth - especially in morality - people feel it is more difficult to confront problems and bring them face-to-face with another.  On top of that, individualism has created such isolation that we might not even feel connected and close enough to many people in order to call them to something greater.
          We as Christians are meant to be much more than that.  We are meant to be different from the rest of the world, and different in a good way.  The Christian community of Matthew's time saw the whole Church as a family. They called each other brothers and sisters just like we hear St. Paul say almost every week in the second reading.  And they followed Jesus' wisdom for caring for "the family" by observing fraternal correction.    
          In the family this should be easiest, but even that is not always easy.  We can at times try to correct our siblings, and hopefully we provide direction for our children.   A family is supposed to be on the same team and working for each other's health, such that one member's success is everyone's, and my sibling's spiritual illness is not her problem, but our problem. 
          Saint Paul uses the image of the body to emphasize how we are all connected, and how we rely on each other.  If one part suffers, all parts suffer, so we should work to remove any poisons or ailments from our body.
          And that connectedness and mutual relationship that a body has within itself is critical for fraternal correction.  We have to trust each other in order to take constructive criticism.  If we don't know that the other person wants what is best for us (and if we don't have the humility to confess that we aren't perfect) then we will not be able to move forward.  In many ways it is that stability that comes from trusting each other that sets the foundation for healthy correction.  So we have to spend time with each other, and we have to be vulnerable with who we really are.  With the erosion of family bonds by both divorce and the hyperactive modern lifestyle, how much time do we allow the family to relax together??  Do we truly share our lives and talk about our passions and aspirations, working out our problems together in mutual support?
          That bond that we need to do all this starts here at this Mass.  When we began Mass, we confessed our sins honestly.  We then let ourselves be taught by the word of God and soon we will profess the faith that unites us.  We can trust each other and help each other especially because in the Eucharist, we are one body in Christ, who wants us to be a house of healing for the world.