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!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Trinity, family, identity


Our family makes us who we are.
That phrase might be a little overstated, but it cannot be denied that our families have huge effects on us, and can direct the course of our lives in a huge way.  

As we celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day during this time of year, we also have an opportunity to remember the great influence our parents have upon us, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill.  I grew up in a practicing Catholic family, and my faith is still important to me.  I grew up a Midwesterner, and I will remain one (even if I love traveling away sometimes).  Our family grew up watching dad play and coach sports, and sports have always been a part of my life.  On the other hand, I know my family wasn't perfect growing up and it certainly isn't perfect today.  I had nights of tears, I fought with my brothers and sisters to the point of blood, and my family suffered the effects of old grudges and wounds among parents' siblings. But in the long run, I know, and am very grateful, that I was blessed to have the family I had.

And while I have been working through the fact that I am leaving this parish in just over 3 weeks, I thank God that I have been a part of this family.  You guys have left lasting effects on me, and I am eternally grateful.  Like I said, our families have very deep effects on us. 

Now the mystery of the Trinity relates to this idea family. For the center of the universe, the start of it all, God Himself, is love, and God is in a certain sense a family kind of love.  Three divine persons in perfect communion.  Our families, including the parish family, are meant to reflect that communion of God Himself.

And when we are baptized, we enter into God's family. The divine family becomes our own.  We are united to God the son, Jesus Christ. We become God's adopted sons and daughters as we heard Saint Paul mention in the second reading.

And as I said, families have a huge effect on us, we ourselves are called to find our identity there above all else.  So it doesn't matter how good or bad our earthly families were or are.  Here in the Church we are part of God's one family.  The deeper we immerse ourselves into this mystery, the more we become what we were always meant to be: members of God's heavenly family.  As we approach the altar as brothers and sisters in Christ, may our prayer today be that we can fully live out the truth of our adoption into the divine family of the Trinity, so that our heavenly family can transform us.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Piano a piano, poco a poco


The Ascension of Christ into heaven elevates human nature to a level never before imagined: man is destined for eternal communion with God.  This was the Gospel (or Good News) that Jesus commissioned the apostles to proclaim, and it is still very Good News for us today.  Our world needs to hear it because the despair that is felt ultimately stems from forgetting about heaven: we who are united to Jesus are now welcomed into a place where all the evils and pains of this life are gone forever.  We are witnesses, but becoming courageous and effective witnesses to the Lord Jesus is a process!

Rome wasn't built in a day - neither were saints.
One step at a time - but willing to do whatever the Lord requests.
Little by little - but always with the big goal in sight. 

If I am ever going to run faster than my older brother, it's not going to be some instantaneous transformation. It will take training and perseverance.

Becoming courageous and effective  witnesses to the Lord Jesus is a process!
Jesus took it slowly with his apostles: 3 years, then 40 days, then still a steady progression into preaching all over the world.
Saint Paul was a process, even if we don't tend to think about it that way because we focus on the day when Jesus appeared to him. That wasn't really the beginning of his formation; nor was it the end of it.

We too need to incrementally increase our investment into the person of Jesus. Indeed Jesus deserves all of our heart starting yesterday, and we should offer it to Him in our prayer daily, but we have to make that concrete in life through small steps in the right direction. 

The three parts of stewardship are good concrete areas of life we can examine for judging our progress (or our slipping away) in the life of true discipleship and thus witnessing to Jesus.  Today we are refocusing ourselves in stewardship of service, and I now invite Phil Hayes to share his own story of growth in service here at Saint Pius X Parish.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

"Be Jesus' Friend"? That's Possible?

Audio Sat. Eve:
Before I talk about friendship, I want to share a story.  So as we celebrate Mother's Day, I was asked by a mother in the parish what I'm going to get my mom this year.  I said "Oh, nothing; I'll just send her an e-mail."  Well you can imagine her shock at that response.  But what I then explained is that my parents are away in Italy right now - their first trip out of the country, ever.  Mom sent me a picture saying they are enjoying some chocolate in Bologna.  I asked them if they went to Chocolate yet and tried the bologna.  I don't know how well the joke went.  So anyways, I decided to get on my Facebook page for the first time in like literally three years to see if they have been posting any pictures there (because they've only sent one e-mail and one text message).  What a whole new world I found there.  My entire family's life right before my eyes!
Then I remembered why I hadn't been on this website for, yes, 3 years: 700 friends?  How could that be the case?  I haven't even made 700 phone calls in the past year! How many of these are actually "friends?"  What does it even mean to be a friend?

I know one thing: a hamster cannot be my friend.  Not even my childhood dog can be my friend.  There needs to be some kind of mutual exchange and sharing of hearts, sharing of our very person with another.

Pope Saint Gregory says "A friend is, as it were, a keeper of the soul." To guard and care for the soul of another person, as a gardener protects and nurtures a plant, is to be a true friend.  Aristotle has three types of friendship, but really the first two are false versions: simply for usefulness (such as co-workers) or for mutual enjoyment (having a good time together).  These aren't necessarily bad but they certainly could be very unhealthy, and definitely leave a lot to be desired.  True or perfect friendship Aristotle describes as "the friendship of people who are good and alike each other in virtue; they both wish well upon each other, and are good themselves."  My point in all this is simple: a true and perfect friendship is a special blessing and gift from God.

Now in the Gospel today, Jesus calls us His friends.  But some of you might be thinking: "Be Jesus' Friend"? That's Possible?  In fact, On Wednesday I was at a conference and heard a surprising statistic from a reputable study.  The study was focused on religious practice in the United States, and it said that among the practicing adult Catholics (that would be you who are here today), most of you are not certain that a personal relationship with God is possible.
Today my friends, I am here to tell you again, YES, JESUS IS CRAZY ENOUGH IN LOVE WITH YOU TO WANT YOU TO BE HIS FRIEND.  Look at that Cross.  Would you do that for your dog? No, or at least you shouldn't.  Would you do that for your soul-mate? Yes, even if it was the hardest choice of your life.
Jesus chose you.  You are (or can be) His friend.  You aren't here for yourself, and you aren't here by yourself.  God made you, and he brought you here to this day.  Thanks be to God for the great condescension he shows in becoming human so He can befriend us.  Now let us accept that invitation, but not with one of the half-hearted versions of friendship.  Jesus doesn't want to be just a facebook friend, one among the 700 that we never think about or talk to.  He doesn't want just a utilitarian friendship, where He becomes a means to an end.  And he deserves more than a friendship that only shares the good times, even though a life in God will bring happiness both now and into eternity.  No, Jesus wants a true and perfect friendship, a sharing of hearts and a guarding and nurturing of their very person.

It's pretty simple, Jesus says: "You are my friends if you do what I command you."  So our response is to love Our Lord in a true and perfect friendship, guarding and keeping our Lord's heart in the choices that we make, in the way that we live.
May we pray today and always: Jesus, lover of my soul, my true and deepest friend, help me to stay close to you and to love you in all that I do, to never abandon your friendship.  Amen.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

5th Sunday of Easter

First penance Service
- Vine & Branches

first communion retreat
What is this called? - monstrance 
What does this look like or remind you of?  - The Sun

The Son of God is like the sun! He is "the Light of the World"!

Ask 2nd graders "what would happen if the earth decided to not revolve around the sun anymore?" (Planet would get cold and living things would due)

We have to stay close to the Son, Jesus!
1. Prayer - Personal Prayer and group prayer (family)
2. Sunday Mass
3. Sacraments. Especially Confession and the Eucharist!  (Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament!)

Your relationship started at Baptism, and continues now today into the deepest part.  But this is far from the end, it is something  that we need to grow closer to every day.