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!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

We saw the Pope!!

This morning was a free morning for the groups to seek out the experiences they were particularly interested in since there is so much to do and so little time to accomplish it all. I simply got some good sleep and a nice breakfast before I went for a smaller English catechesis in a church nearby. Unfortunately the first destination was all in Polish, oops! but the church was gorgeous so I snapped a photo.
We we finally found the right place nearby and had about 15 minutes to prepare for Mass. Then my friend Sean Allen found some radios (to listen to the real-time translation of the main events). We ran into Bishop Rhoades who was out on his own and about to eat lunch.
We visited a church with him and then met the big group to head back to the same huge park to see Pope Francis at his arrival.
He rolled right past us waving and smiling. We were screaming and I just yelled his name and that I love him. It was very moving, tears for some of the teens. We were very very close, like ten feet. Wow!
After some welcomes we introduced the saints of WYD and their messages of mercy. Then we read from the Gospel of Luke, the story of Martha and Mary, and Pope Francis gave a talk about the importance for youth to dream, to believe things can change, to never give up on life.
Then back to the hotel. I decided to call in pizza for the group to make things easier, so I can sleep!! :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tuesday & Wed.: Opening Mass & English mega-site

On Tuesday we had an easy morning where I was able to wash my laundry. Father Jonathan Norton and I went out to see if we could find the relics of blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. I found the church but was unable to enter the relics because there was a Mass going on inside:
Then we get it as a whole group after a quick lunch, and headed out to a huge public park near downtown for the opening Mass with the local archbishop Stanislas Dziwicz who was personal secretary for John Paul the second for most of his papacy and even before that.

There was a huge crowd for Mass, probably 200,000 people. (However, that is only a 10th of what is expected for Sunday!)

The rainstorm did not dampen anybody's spirits. And this small break in the and this small break in the clouds allowed the sun to shine during the consecration of the Eucharist.
On Wednesday, we went to a huge arena for a catechesis with about 18,000 English speaking pilgrims, and I ran into my sister Katie and her husband Matt!!!

The day began with amazing speakers with a wonderful mass and beautiful music. We stayed there for the whole day along with other lectures and opportunities, and it finished tonight with a huge mass concert with two of the best Catholic musicians around: Matt Maher and Audrey Assad. I was proud that I could sing almost every word of every song!
We also had adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: the young man leading the procession was a boy from our diocese who is now a Dominican priest!
The new bishop Robert Barron of LA gave a sermon during Adoration about the cross, especially noting the martyrdom yesterday of Father Jacques, a priest in France killed during Mass by an ISISfighter. It was obviously very moving for everyone. We walked 4 miles to get home and I am ready for sleep! :-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Auschwitz and Divine Mercy

Sunday we saw the heights of divine love and the lows of human sin. In the morning we woke in Katowice and headed to our destination of Oswiencim, the town where Germans drove out the people to make room for a labor camp that eventually became the extermination camp after its huge expansion in 1942.
The Poles (especially from here) did much to help the Jews, and this nation boasts the majority of those honored as "righteous" at the Shoah museum in Jerusalem.
Here Fr. Maximilian Kolbe starved to death, the last of 10 victims of Nazi retaliation for a prisoner escape (the SS, under Himmler, ran the concentration camps).
This pond was full of human ash. Evil leaves its mark, but the glory of Good cannot be conquered for it lives on into eternity.
Here Sr. Faustina's body lies. The Saint of divine mercy is beneath the image she commissioned on the left.
Above is the large chapel of Divine Mercy. A very strange modern church but it had good musical acoustics!
1/2 mile away is a shrine to JP2. Here is the cassock he wore when shot 4 times (twice through the abdomen).
The evening was on our own for dinner. A small group went out to eat and got ice cream. I ended up with one of our priests talking until 11:30 with a pair of locals! It was a nice surprise!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Real quick

Czestochowa was amazing!!
This chapel of Saint Michael is the oldest building in the region. About 600 years originally, and this one about 500. Sheesh! :)
Kalwaria is the second most popular site after Czestochowa. It's a huge hiking religious site. I loved it and I understand why JP2 did as well!  The picture below is a steep downhill, but hard to notice here.

Then we went to JPII's birthplace, Wadowice, and saw the basilica where he was baptized and went through the museum of his home. He lived right next door!!
It was Sunday so the church was full all day!!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Warsaw

We arrived in Warsaw after a 2-hr flight delay and things went well from there. It was a bit difficult being on the plane for 11hrs but I slept on-and-off the whole way.
Warsaw, despite being mostly leveled by Germans and Russians in WWII and after, has much beauty in its buildings, particularly in "old town" shown here.
The Mass for the 150 pilgrims (including Bishop Rhoades, 14 seminarians, and 5 priests) was at Saint Stanislas Kostka where Blessed Jerzy Popiulsko is buried.
His outspoken sermons against Communism cost him his life. He truly worked to overcome evil with the power of good.
after a great and much needed dinner we got our tired sleepy selves to bed before a nice breakfast and a 4hr drive to Jazna Gora to see the Black Madonna.
pray for us!!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Boasting in the Cross?

Audio: click here

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Last week we talked about making sacrifices for following Christ. When we choose Him, we say no to certain things. Indeed, when Elisha burned his 12 oxen with their own yoke, he was burning the bridge to his past life. He said “never again” to his old life, and Christ demands the same for us.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
No one proclaimed the Gospel more boldly than the apostles, and perhaps Peter and Paul, whose feast day we just celebrated, were the most outspoken. Every one of the 12, except for John the Beloved, were martyred for their witness to Christ. Saints Peter and Paul died in Rome, the city of the Pope throughout the centuries. Saint Paul's words today were very true in his own life: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Paul definitely lived these words, but I feel like for us it is difficult to grasp what it actually means.
Did you know that in the early church, the Christians never used the symbol of the Cross to symbolize their faith? It is not because they were ashamed of the Cross, but because it was such a horrific image. The only equivalent I can see in our own times would be something like the electric chair or the stocks or the guillotine or the gallows. You see, like them, the cross was a tool with one special purpose: public execution and humiliation. For Paul to say I boast in the Cross of Christ, was, and should be, a bit shocking for us.
But what the Cross has done for Paul is what makes it all make sense: through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
So what does it mean to be crucified to the world? Well, we have to understand what “the world” means. Think of it as the web of sin and evil that has grown up around us, like when we say “welcome to the real world” or “those are the ways of the world,” which are rarely consoling or complimentary. God so loved the world, that was created good and still is except for our history of sinfulness, that Christ was crucified for it. To be crucified to the world means to be transfixed with Jesus on the Cross and love what He loves there, and hate what he hates. We hate sin. We hate separation from God and from each other. We hate that innocent people are trampled on and that children aren't loved. We love justice and mercy. We love the weakest because of who they are and not what they can or cannot offer to society – their life and their love is enough. We love the Father's Will, no matter the cost, because we love union with Him forever in heaven.
That is what it means to be crucified to the world and the world to you.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Paul rejoices that the world is crucified to him and he to the world. So too can we, if we have made the decision to follow Christ completely, if we let Him lead us in life. When we give over everything to God, he consoles us like a mother nursing her child, as Isaiah reminds us. Then it is no longer a fearful thing to proclaim Christ to the world, to boast in the Cross of Christ, because you know Him who has delivered you and carries you and leads you and walks beside you all your days. That is how Paul could daily face death for years and never lose a wink of sleep. He was resting daily in the comforting arms of the Lord. Ask Jesus to help you to be united to Him on the Cross that you may be consoled by His presence in this Mass, that you may be fed by His Body and Blood in this Eucharist.