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, April 30, 2016

The Goal of the Christian Life - A Spirit-ed way of living!

At this point in the Easter season, over halfway through, we see a transition in the readings that prepare us for and direct us towards the mystery of Pentecost. Next Sunday, we will transfer the Thursday feast of the ascension (40 days after Easter) to Sunday and celebrate it together. Jesus wasn't with us forever, at least not in bodily form. God had other ideas for us: The Father sends us the Son to give us the Spirit. This is a short summary of God's plan of salvation. Jesus works our redemption, but we are united to that redemption through the gift of the Holy Spirit we have received in baptism and maintain through the rest of the Christian life in the community of faith.
The Holy Spirit according to Jesus' promise, leads us to all truth. We see this working in the first reading from the acts of the apostles.
Acts 15 is known as the first ecumenical council, the council of Jerusalem. It is here where Christianity made a definitive separation from Judaism. Even after this council Christians were still going to the synagogue, but they were also praying privately together in their houses. Soon after the temple was destroyed and the Jews drove out the Christians from their synagogues, Christianity fully developed its own liturgical uniqueness.
The apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit in their decision-making. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth, and it happens both in extraordinary ways like the councils (including other meetings like the recent synods led by Pope Francis) as well as in ordinary ways.
As a Holy Spirit leads the universal church, so also he leads every individual Christian to our ultimate goal: perfect communing with the father and son in heaven. Sometimes this happens in extraordinary ways, such as powerful moments of prayer or miraculous events of God's providence that steer our lives. Most of the time, however, this happens in ordinary events where the Holy Spirit is trying to speak to us and lead us and guide us and direct us.
Pope Francis said just a few days ago in a morning homily that "the Holy Spirit has been surprising the church since the very beginning". We must allow ourselves to be surprised by the Holy Spirit. We must not become stagnant, lazy, or narrow-minded in our spiritual lives. If God is going to do amazing things with us, it is only because we have allowed those amazing things to happen by taking daily steps in his guidance. St. Paul once told a Galatians, "if we live by the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit." We should as Christians pray every day that's the only spirit may be the one truly in control in our lives.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. Lead us to our true home, two are true happiness, One day at a time, one moment at a time.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Homily (notes from Amoris Laetitia Ch 4)

"Love as I have loved you." For Christians love is different. In fact, love is what makes us what we are. Our witness as Christians is nothing if we do not have love.
Gos is the source of our love, as God Himself is love.
We see this is another way in Revelation today: the church is the bride of Christ. We are "married" to God in a sense in the Mass, which is one of the reasons girls wear such nice white dresses when they are to receive their First Communion. 
Married love is a model for how perfectly we should love in all types of relationship: friendship, sisterhood/ brotherhood (family), religious community (orders or the parish), teachers/coaches, classmates/ co-workers, etc.
Amoris Laetitia speaks about love in marriage in Chapter 4.  Pope Francis begins by examining St. Paul's 1 Cor 13 looking at each phrase, one by one, that describes love: patient, kind, not jealous nor boastful, not arrogant nor rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable nor resentful, does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  With this full picture of love he can now speak on married love. 
The key word he uses is TENDERNESS.  
Who's never read any of Pope Francis' documents?  They are way easier to read than JPII's or Benedict XVI's!!!

Mothers, who are those who love the most, seek to love more than to be loved.
Indignation is only healthy when it makes us react to a grave injustice; when it permeates our attitude towards others it is harmful.
My advice is never let the day end without making peace in the family.  "And how am I going to make peace? By getting down on my knees? No! Just by a small gesture, a little something, and harmony within your family will be restored.  Just a little caress, no words are necessary.  But do not let the day end without making peace in your family.
There is no family that does not know how selfishness, discord, tension and conflict violently attack and at times mortally wound its own communion (JPII)
Blaming others becomes falsely reassuring.  We need to learn to pray over our past history, to accept ourselves, to learn how to live with our limitations, and even to forgive ourselves, in order to have this same attitude towards others.  All this assumes that we ourselves have had the experience of being forgiven by God.
rejoice at the good of others when we see their dignity and value their abilities and good works.  This is impossible for those who must always be comparing and competing, even with their spouse, so that they secretly rejoice in their failures.
...the use of the tongue.  The verb can mean "holding one's peace" about what may be wrong with another person.  It implies limiting judgment, checking the impulse to issue a firm and ruthless condemnation.
Married couples joined by love speak well of each other; they try to show their spouse's  good side, not their weakness and faults.  In any event, they keep silent rather than speak ill of them.
Recognizes that these failings are part of a bigger picture.  We have to realize that all of us are a complex mixture of light and shadows.
The other person loves me as best they can, with all their limits, but the fact that love is imperfect does not mean that it is untrue or unreal.  It is real, albeit limited and earthly.
Love trusts, it sets free, it does not try to control, possess and dominate everything.
though things may not always turn out as we wish, God may well make crooked lines straight and draw some good from the evil we endure in this world.  here hope comes most fully into its own, for it embraces the certainty of life after death.  Each person, with all his or her failings, is called to the fullness of life in heaven.
Not only the ability to tolerate certain aggravations, but something greater: a constant readiness to confront any challenge.  It is a love that never gives up, even in the darkest hour.
MLK Jr: The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hats you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it.  And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls 'the image of God,' you begin to love him in spite of [everything].  No matter what he does, you see God's image there.  There is an element of goodness that he can never sluff off... Another way that you love your enemy is this: when the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it... When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system... Hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe.  If I hit your and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and so on, you see, that goes on [forever]. It just never ends.  Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that's the strong person.  The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil ... Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.
Marriage ins a precious sign, for 'when a man and a woman celebrate the sacrament of marriage, God is, as it were, 'mirrored' in them; he impresses in them hos own features and the indelible character of his love.  Marriage is he icon of God's love for us.  Indeed God is also communion;: the three Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit live eternally in perfect unity.  And this is precisely the mystery of marriage: God makes of the two spouses one single existence.
"Joy" refers to an expansion of the heart. Marital joy can be experienced even amid sorrow; it involves accepting that marriage is an inevitable mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures, but always on the path of friendship. 
That "gaze" which contemplated other persons as ends in themselves...has enormous importance.
After suffering and struggling together, spouses are able to experience that it was weorth it, because they achieved some good, learned something as a couple, or came to appreciate what thye have.
Three words: 'Please,' 'Thank you,' 'Sorry.' Three essential words!
The right words, spoken at the right time, daily protect and nurture love
A love that fails to grow is at risk. Growth can only occur of we respond to God's grace through constant acts of love, acts of kindness that become ever more frequent, intense, generous, tender and cheerful.

Our way of asking and responding to questions, the tone we use, our timing and any number of other factors condition how well we communicate. We need to develop certain attitudes that express love and encourage authentic dialogue. Take time, quality time.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Future Not Our Own

Sorry it's late, but here is the audio!

I don't know if I've talked about it much, but I am pretty into Christian music.  There aren't many musicians in the Christian music scene who are Catholic, but there are a few that I love listening to: Danielle Rose (an Notre Dame graduate) whose music is more peaceful and the lyrics really foster meditation; Audrey Assad, who has some great stuff out there right now and various styles in her albums; and Matt Maher, the rock star of it all, who really broke through when Chris Tomlin asked if he could do a recording of his song "Your Grace is Enough" and thus got Matt Maher more popular.  On his most recent album, he starts with a song called "A Future Not My Own," where the singer cries out to God asking for that future that isn't of his own making, not his own plans, because as he says "we see the start, but you (God) see the end; we see in part, but Your (God's) Love sees everything." (Full lyrics here)
This seems to go along quite well with today's gospel, and what we all really do need.  There is always a temptation to want to be the shepherd instead of the sheep.  Adam & Eve, and every one of us, so often want to "be like gods" on our own terms and can't see that God actually wants to do the same for us, in an even more magnificent way.
One of the interesting things about this reality in our world today, is that with all the freedoms we have and all the options for life out there, we tend to end up less satisfied.  Since we feel like we can control every aspect of our lives, our futures, our persons, our personalities, etc., we then come to the conclusion that the only reason we aren't happy is because we haven't "designed" our life properly.  In reality, the problem is that we aren't seeing that life is a gift, and that God wants to lead us to that place of our true joy instead of us leading Him around somewhere.  C.S. Lewis described it as humanity is like a little child who would rather make mud-pies in a puddle even when dad invites him to a day at the beach to see the ocean (or for us, Lake Michigan!), simply because the child can't imagine what his father is talking about.  We take the short-term happiness instead of the long-term.
So if Christ the Lamb of God is our true shepherd, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, leading us to the Father to our true joy, we must follow Him.  We follow our maps or GPS devices even after we know that they've been wrong before: why not follow God who cannot be wrong?
Pope Francis' document Amoris Laetitia, on Love in the family, speaks of the importance of conscience.  We have a responsibility to form our consciences.  One way we do that is trying to hear God's voice every day.  He speaks in our consciences, in our prayer, through others, through the Church's teaching in the Catechism or elsewhere.  If we want to hear God's voice, we must choose to follow it in the daily things.  We must choose God daily in prayer (both at fixed times, and throughout the day).  We much choose God weekly in Sunday Mass.  We must choose God in our broken families, in our friends, and in the strangers who need help.
So may we truly be docile sheep and let the Lord lead us, through these small daily steps of life, to that eternal future not our own.  No, heaven is not something we designed.  And thank God it isn't, because it is much better than our narrow vision ever could have thought up.  Lead us on, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Homily - P. Francis - AMORIS LAETITIA - On Married Love

  • The Apostles “rejoice to be found worthy to suffer for the name” of Jesus. This was partly because they were making up for their previous abandonment; partly because they now realize they are living Christ's own story in their lives (taking up their Cross, dying to the world, living for God by the Holy Spirit).
  • They are WITNESSES above all, and so must we be.
  • Amoris Laetitia
    • Introductory remarks
    • Concluding Summary
    • Chapter Titles & brief comments
  • The family is one of the most important ways that Christians can offer a witness to the world. If Jesus is alive, we need to show it in our families. It must change us just like it changed Peter, like it changed Paul and all the Apostles, like it has changed so many saints in the past 20 centuries. Our world needs saints of the family more than ever. Let us live the Joy of true love in marriages and family life.