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, October 31, 2015

Holiness is happiness

Today's reading from the beginning of the sermon on the mount, where we hear the eight Beatitudes, I'd a sort of blueprint for the Christian life. Jesus begins his most important sermon with a road map to becoming a saint. Beatitude means blessedness, as in sharing God's blessedness. And when Jesus uses the word blessed today, it can also be translated as "happy."

Father Glenn at holy family Parish always says this phrase, and has even established as the slogan for his parish: "holiness is happiness"!

You may remember that I have spoken of happiness in a different way from the Continuing Education Days for Clergy. We talked about four different ways that we experience happiness, each being more deep and lasting than the one before but also more difficult. 

A review of the four levels of happiness
One – material pleasures (I see the pie, I  lunge for the pie)
Two – ego - comparison (Personal success, even at the cost of others)
Three - contribution (What kind of legacy am I going to leave behind?)
Four – internal things (love, truth, unity, goodness, beauty) finding God

Father Spitzer's accounts of experiencing the fourth level of happiness.
What is it for us? I think of World Youth Day, or the March for life, or an ordination Mass with so many from the diocese gathered around. Even the weddings that I experienced last weekend we're just another reminder of profound unity we can have with other people.

That unity that we can feel on earth, is only a glimpse of the unity we can have in heaven. That is why we call the reception of Eucharist "holy Communion." That is why we refer to the saints in heaven as the communion of saints. Let us follow Jesus' road map and blueprint for holiness on earth, so we can experience are full happiness both in this life and the eternal communion of the next life. Eucharistic Jesus, make us to be Saints!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ambition and happiness

Although we should credit their zeal and enthusiasm, James & John really have no idea what they are asking today. They picture an earthly kingdom where power is for the taking, even if they want to use it for good.  Jesus shows them later what true power is.  "Right & Left" next mentioned at the cross, in His glory - totally against our expectations, with two criminals at his sides.

Jesus blows our sense of long-term happiness out of the water.  We need to keep eternity in perspective.

4 levels of Happiness -
1-Material things and sense-experience
3-Contribution to the common good
4-Eternal things (God Himself)

James & John want low-level happiness: Ego-comparative. They want to build themselves up. They want to pursue the best. They desire great things for themselves.  They know there will be some sacrifices but they are ready.

In fact that is most of Americans. Television and magazines prove easily that what we focus on is levels 1 & 2.

1 & 2 are brief & more shallow (doesn't engage our higher spiritual powers). 
3 & 4 Long-lasting, deep, and pervasive (not just affecting me).

It might not surprise you that we are stuck in 1 & 2.  It might not surprise you that there is a part of all of us that sort of drags us down to those levels, even if we have moved beyond them (concupiscence). But also, God's grace and our cooperation with it will allow us to overcome the gravity of our weakness. And the Lord shows us how in the Eucharist.  

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Synod 2015 and half-conversion

Audio link:
The rich young man wanted to "have his cake and eat it too", he wanted one foot in the world and another in heaven. He was a disciple of Jesus but only so far, only to the point where it hurt, where it made him uncomfortable and demanded exactly what he didn't want to give up.

Because we find it so scary when we don't have any control, we all end up wanting just some small, minor adjustments to our lives.  We want tweaking and not transformation.

Jesus doesn't want to make a minor adjustment on your life.  He wants to completely transform it.  He wants you to love in a radical and full way, not just a little bit better than where you are right now.   Will we allow ourselves to lose control so that we can find the happiness we truly want?

The same set of problems goes true in our families.  Families struggle because we don't go "all in" as Jesus' disciples.

Right now a select group of bishops throughout the world are gathered in Rome for an extraordinary synod on the family.  This 2015 Synod started just after the World Meeting of Families, held every three years, which we were able to host in Philadelphia and was the cause of Pope Francis' visit to us.  I ask that you continue to pray for this meeting.  The family has been under attack from without and within: divorce, domestic violence, jobs that tear families apart, equating same-sex unions with marriage, abortion, an aggressive individualism that forgets relationships, contraception, the need for constant entertainment and distraction from those around us, and of course the selfishness that corrupts every human heart.  Yet despite all this, God is faithfully working to build us up.  Some 900,000 people, members of families desiring to live their faith deeply, gathered around Pope Francis in Philadelphia much like that rich young man came enthusiastically to Jesus.

Those families were eager to follow Christ, but the demands are going to continue to come for us to give everything to Christ Jesus.  My sister and brother-in-law just had their fifth child.  I am so excited for them.  What a blessing it is for me to be an uncle again.  I have a new person to love and be loved by in my family.  But my family, like all families, has challenges both without and within: brokenness, weakness, selfishness, demanding workplaces, a culture of boredom and entertainment.  Like the rich young man, the temptation is always there to keep control of our lives and only let Jesus make minor adjustments on ourselves.

Our families need prayers so that we can build on the good foundation of love that the Lord has blessed us with.  We need to continue to grow in our discipleship to Jesus.  It is only when we let go of everything and follow the Lord with a greater intensity that we will be able to experience the beautiful blessings of family life in all their richness.  Even the small glimpses of family love that we have experienced should encourage us to give Jesus everything that our families are.  Let us as God to give us the Wisdom that we need to see our lives from the perspective of eternity, and let the trivial things pass from our hearts so that we can experience the fullness of family life.  and May God bless the Synod and its leader, Pope Francis, to speak words of the Gospel that the world needs to hear.