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, January 9, 2016

Baptism - Three-fold calling.

Audio (9am Mass): click here

Forgive me for starting this homily off with some doomsday language, but I think it fits this time. The Catholic Church in the United States is undergoing a critical vocations crisis. In fact, it goes beyond just the Church to all Christians. We have a serious problem on our hands that is going to endanger our future if we don't make an adjustment to get it straight. I used to say that the crisis was fatherhood: too many men are falling short of this vocation. They are choosing other things for their hearts, and are leaving wounds in their sons and daughters. But I think this is the first and most tragic cause of a deeper vocations crisis, and no, it's not a lack of priests and religious here in the U.S. It's something far worse, something that hits closer to home and leaves more devastating effects. And now I'm finally going to end the suspense for you and tell you what it is: too many of us are failing to live out our fundamental vocation as Christians. Indeed, smaller numbers of priests is not so big a problem as fewer and fewer in the pews, in the confessional, getting married, etc.: priests and religious sure would look pretty silly if there wasn't anyone else in the church. We don't make sense without a parish community.

Our Baptism is essential. Fundamental. You know, we should almost celebrate it as much as our birthday. Which is funny because I didn't know the day I was baptised until I was in college. But now I can say it: Oct. 14th , 1984 was the day I was united to Christ Jesus, freed from original sin but not from its effects, and welcomed into the membership of the Mystical Body of Christ and thus received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God, at an early age I was able to have His grace at work in my heart, which needed all the time it could get.

I think the crisis of our universal vocation has a three-part remedy. Self-knowledge; self-possession; self-gift. This comes from the Catechism #357, which says in full: Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead.
Since grace builds upon nature (not destroying it and not replacing it but healing it and raising it higher like leaven in dough) then our baptismal calling develops further our human calling.

1 - Self-knowledge. We are in Christ a new creation. We are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. How often do we forget this and just get put into the machine of human living that we see in TV & movies, hear about on the radio, read about in books or the newspaper. We have to watch what we are feeding ourselves and make sure we are remembering who we really are. God, who does not lie, calls you his “beloved.” Do we remember that?
Also, this means learning our gifts, talents, weaknesses, wounds, and being honest about them so we can move forward to the next step in becoming truly Christian.
2 - Self-possession. When we come to know who we are, with all our weakness, we begin to (by God's help) learn how to deal with ourselves and direct ourselves towards to a goal. Only if I can conquer my heart and its passions can I become greater than the animals who do not know how to deny themselves. If you leave a steak on the floor and leave, your dog will eat it. If you leave ten steaks out... you better go to Confession!
3 - Self-gift. Love is the gift of self, and we find ourselves only when we give ourselves away. If we are Christians, we see it especially in the Cross and in the Eucharist and in the washing of the disciples feet. That is the model we are to follow, giving ourselves like that. Day in, Day out. May God help us.


Finally, another word about the Mystical Body of Christ. We are all connected. The saints are praying for you. The saints are good examples for you. Read about the saints. Watch movies about the saints. Pray to your saint for the year (see me if you need one). May our big brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ show us the three-part path to living our baptism: Self-knowledge, Self-possession, and Self-gift.

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