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!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Bad Shepherds

Audio from 9:30: click here

A couple people met up with me after this Mass and expressed concern with my homily.  I did not express clearly whole breadth of the problems, and tried to emphasize it better in future homilies.
Here are various resources that I find helpful.

"The truth will set you free." John 8:32.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Bread of Life - Self-Gift

Audio (9:30am Mass): click here!

If the Eucharist is the Bread of Life, then we need to change the way we look at our lives, especially on Sundays.  I’m preaching a truth that we all need to hear, but especially the people who are not in the room.  For Jesus says “unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood…” and yet the reality is that 75% of Catholics in the United States don’t make it to Mass regularly.  It’s not a priority, so they are spiritual zombies like we talked about last week.

The Eucharist isn’t magic.  God doesn’t bulldoze us.  He desires our free response, and so He allows us even to reject Him. This explains That type of person ends up being someone who eats the Bread of Life but doesn’t live it - perhaps even trying to live a life of duplicity - as if sin and God can be friends within our hearts.  —And in light of the news over the past weeks, I think especially especially for priests or other church leaders who do harm through a life that in serious ways does not conform to Jesus, a life with a dark side that ends up causing more harm than good.  “Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin…” Jesus says, and indeed it is a tragedy to see how some of the Church’s representatives have failed to help others, even here in this parish in the past from what I’ve heard.  No, clearly the Eucharist isn’t God’s magical way to force us to change.  We must be willing to be changed.

Communion will not affect you unless you let it.  And the biggest part of letting it, letting Him, work within you, is to grow in intimacy with Jesus.  If you know Jesus deeply and personally, the Eucharist will transform you.  You will start to become a different person, you will become Him, and through that, you will become the best version of yourself.  We may also need to get to Confession, for the Eucharist will not help us at all if we take it when not prepared, for Saint Paul says “whoever eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

The Seven Secrets of the Eucharist would be a great book to help you unleash the power of the Eucharist in your life. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Running on empty

Audio (9:30am Mass): Click Here!

Elijah is trying to run on empty. He needs food but even is entering a type of despair, practically begging for death and almost refusing to eat.  He can’t make it to the mountain God has sent him to unless he eats.

This reminds me of a story in my life. A time that I’m very happy about - when I ran a half marathon in southern Ohio while in seminary in Columbus. I remember it so fondly because it is the one time I beat my brother Fr. Matt in a head-to-head race.  Unfortunately, it was only because my brother has a finnicky stomach and a strong will that I was able to pull it off.  Like Elijah, he tried to run on empty, or almost empty.  He was afraid of cramping so he had a banana and some granola for breakfast - that's it.  Then we drove for like an hour and warmed up and tried to run 13.1 miles.  Not a good idea, but at least there's gatorade stations right?  Nope, not for Fr. Matt - they will slow him down from his goal time and he might cramp up, so "no thanks" on the only fuel he had for the race.  So he's out there clipping like 6-minute miles or something for the first ten or 11 miles, but eventually he just can't do it.  He literally stops, completely.  He sits down, lays down out in the middle of nowhere.  A few minutes later, he's up and just walking, and I come along and find him.  He explains that he hit the wall (I like the word "bonked") and will have to go in nice and slow, unfortunately.  I say "well, glad you're okay, see you in a bit!!" And there you have it.  I beat him!  But only sorta-kinda.

You can't run without fuel. Life is usually not an easy stroll.  It's not a marathon either, at least not all the time.  But you will certainly "bonk" without getting fed.  A lot of our world doesn't seem to care about God, but really, they have just hit a wall and need to be refueled.  They need their souls to be recharged.

We need to feed our souls good, wholesome stuff.

How to refuel?
1. Get to Sunday Mass, even when difficult.  Not going to Sunday Mass is like missing the family photo.  When your not there, you can't be replaced.  Alongside that, nothing can replace the gift of God in the Eucharist.
2. Set a daily payer routine - When?  Where? How?  What? (Include a daily review and a plan for the next 24 hours)
3. Go on a Retreat.  Jesus says "come away and rest a while."  You know, even organizations often take time to think deeply about what they are doing and where they are headed.  Why don't we realize how important that is for our spiritual lives?
4. Find some Christian Fellowship. We need to face the fact that our culture, with its rampant individualism and moral relativism, is not supportive of Christian living.  If we want to survive, we need support.  That's why God gave us each other.
5. Practice Acts of Service.  Whether it is volunteering at the parish or in a charity program, or just spending yourself for the sake of those in your daily life, God recharges us when we give ourselves away.  Love overflows back into us.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Food that perishes

Audio: click here!

When I thought about Jesus' words today, "food that perishes," I couldn't help but think of my refrigerator.  Let's be real, as far as sanitation goes, you don't know what you're gonna get when you walk into a single guy's house.  I mean, a teenage bedroom isn't much better, but they usually don't have free reign over the entire house so it just stays in their room.  The single-adult male however, yikes.  Especially their refrigerator, unless they cook often (I don't devote much time to that). So, over the past few years of living alone and spending most of my evenings out and about with high school and parish activities, I have discovered that almost any food will eventually perish, and then can take on new and exciting life in the wonderful ways of bacteria.

But when Jesus was speaking of "food that perishes," he wasn't talking about things that spoil - since the only thing that doesn't is the Twinkie that layed on a science teacher's shelf in Maine for 40 years and counting.  Not physical food, then, but something else - a type of spiritual food, something that feeds our immaterial parts of ourselves: our souls and our minds.  Our minds long for truth, they are made to eat it up, so to speak.  G.K. Chesterton says "The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid."  If it doesn't do that, then the open mind is just plain foolish.  We were made to cling to truth and find a spiritual satisfaction in that truth, a truth that is bigger than just facts because it goes beyond trivia questions to the deeper wisdom about life and eternity.

1. Jesus says "The truth will set you free," and indeed it does, even if it puts you in jail.

Whether it's Cardinal McCarick's recent demise in public light or the truth about Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae from 50 years ago that prophesied how contraception (the pill, etc.) will exploit women, destroy marriage and family, and make parents feel that children are burdens instead of blessings.  People thought he was crazy then, but we can say with perfect hindsight that this Pope had God-given foresight as to where our culture would head.  Hard truths are not always easy for us to take, just like turnips or brussel sprouts (without bacon!), but the truth will set you free.

Besides Truth, we were made sure something even more, and that is the deeper meaning of Jesus' words: "Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."

2. GOD IS DESIRING US.  We often think of the Eucharist as God's fulfillment of our desire to be with Him.  Indeed it is this.  We were created by God with a special longing that can only be satisfied by Him alone.  Our human nature is hard-wired for a "food" that goes beyond the natural world.  Even beyond the spiritual food of truth that our souls hunger for.  The desire for little truths ultimately lead us to larger ones, until we are swept up in the Lord alone as the only true satisfaction of our souls.

But we should also look at this Eucharist and see that God is desiring us.  Remember that: God gave us the Eucharist and the other sacraments, God gave us His only-begotten Son, and opened heaven for us by His resurrection and ascension, He allows us to encounter Him in prayer, all because He wants to be with you.  He can't wait for heaven.  He brings heaven to earth.  Yes, we indeed desire God.  But if you look at the gift of the Eucharist, you must see that God desires you even more.

3. Little kids don't know what's good for them.  In some ways, adults will say they don't even know what's good, period.  I mean, looking back at some of the foods I really enjoyed, can make me a little squeemish.  If we let kids choose what they wanted, they wouldn't eat their vegetables or go back to school or do their piano lessons or help around the house.  We don't know what's good for us, and we are all a bit like those little kids who would rather listen to those more immediate, earthly desires rather than the deeper ones for truth, love, and God.  

Prayer keeps us in touch with those deeper desires.  So too does discipline, sacrifice, and a life of spent on those around us.  Quiet yourself down each day, listen to that desire for God, and God's desire for you.  Amen.