Monday, December 31, 2007

Homily: Solemnity of the Holy Family

1. Every year on the first Sunday after Christmas the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family in order to emphasize the fact that Jesus, the Son of God and Prince of Peace was born into a humble, poor, normal family. Jesus did not mysteriously appear one day fully grown, but like all of us, he was born into a family, was taught by his parents and played with friends just like us.

2. The holy family of Mary, Joseph and the Child Jesus is the model for all families, and in our world we certainly need a model for what a family ought to be. We know that in our world the family is under attack, the idea of what a family is and is not seems to be up for grabs, although in truth, it is not. The family has been instituted by God, and we have no right to change what God has set up for our own good. As Pope Paul VI said in 1964 “May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplify its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing…the perfect setting for rearing children – and for this there is no substitute.” And so the Church, in Her wisdom, gives us this Solemnity every year to help us meditate on what God’s plan for our families truly is.

3. The family is a special setting in which the love of God is shown to the world in a particular way. In fact, the family, is shows forth God in a very particular way because it mirrors for us the Holy Trinity. Within the Holy Trinity the love between the Father and the Son, and their total self giving, is so strong, so real, that it becomes a whole new person – the Holy Spirit. The family mirrors this reality in a very particular way. The love and total self gift between a husband and a wife is so strong, so real, that nine months later you have to give it a name. The family then is called to mirror, as faithfully as it possibly can, the relationship that exists within the Holy Trinity. That, my friends, is a very high calling, a great responsibility, but not one that is impossible or harsh.

4. The evil one, because he knows the great power that a holy and healthy family has to show forth the love of God in the world, has a very particular hatred for the family. In our world he has had great success in twisting and perverting the family. He has managed, in a great number of cases, to turn families from being what they should be: a true sign of the love, of the total and complete self giving, of the fruitfulness and life producing power of God Himself. He has managed to turn them into an image of selfishness, of lust and sterility in which the fruit of love, namely children, are seen as a burden rather than a gift. He has managed to make so many families into images of disunity, hatred, anger, and unforgiveness instead of what they should be; images of unity, love, peace, and forgiveness. He has managed to pervert that most beautiful act of love between husband and wife, that act in which husbands and wives are called to give themselves to each other freely, totally, and faithfully to one another in such a way that it is always open to the gift of new life. He has twisted this holy act into something that is full of lust, full of selfishness, all to often unfaithful, and rendered unfruitful and sterile through the great evil of contraception.

5. My dear friends, our families, our marriages, are meant to show forth the love of God – the very love that is shown to us in God’s gift to us of His only Son. The birth, life, and death of Jesus shows us the great love He has for us. We are called show forth that love by living out family life to the full by never being afraid to follow the plan for life and love that God lays out for us even if it seems hard. In my few years as a priest I have been invited into the lives of many families. Some of those families are not living God’s plan – they have played into the traps set by the devil – and they are not happy. On the other hand, some of those families are giving themselves to the plan God has for married life and the family. They are striving to live according to the teachings of Christ and the Church, they are giving God full permission to use their love to bring new life into the world, and they are happy and joyful. They remind me of the Holy Family of Nazareth. If only that could be said of all families.

6. My friends, do not be afraid to live family life to the full, for when we do we will find a joy like no other. Will it be easy, no, but I promise, we will experience a joy and love like none other both here and in the life to come.

Child Jesus, model of innocence and purity, have mercy on us.
Mary, mother of the Son of God, pray of us.
St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus Christ, pray for us.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

"God’s sign is simplicity. God’s sign is the baby. God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendour. He comes as a baby – defenceless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts and his will – we learn to live with him and to practise with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him."

Pope Benedict XVI

Midnight Mass 2006

Saturday, December 15, 2007

From the Desk of the Pastor

Here is this weeks edition of "From the Desk of the Pastor":

This week there was a question in the Question box, but since it was a topic that was previously discussed in the bulletin I figured I probably didn’t address it as thoroughly as I should have, so attached to the bulletin is an expanded answer to the question.
This week at the Holy Mass you will have noticed a change in the color of vestments from violet to rose, or what most people would call pink. This is to signify that today is Gaudete Sunday. This Sunday gets the name Gaudete from the Entrance Antiphon for Mass. The Antiphon goes like this;

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Dominus enim prope est.

The English translation is:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord in near.

Since Gaudete Sunday is a day of special rejoicing because the coming of Christ is near the Church allows us a little leeway in our Advent penances so that we can anticipate what is about to happen, and the Sacred Liturgy expresses this by allowing flowers in the sanctuary, rose colored vestments, and here at St. Rose, at the Sunday Morning Mass we used rose scented incense – all ways to remind us that we should rejoice because Christ is drawing near. During these last days of Advent I encourage everyone to keep up their preparations; to not give up on their Advent practices. After all, our Christmas will only be as good as our Advent preparation. So please, take advantage of the opportunities to cleans your hearts through confession during these last days of Advent. There will be extra confession times this week to allow as many people as possible to prepare in this way...

The following is the attachment to the bulletin with the extended answer to the question from the Liturgical Question Box:

The question this week goes like this: “What is the significance of the incense? It smells terrible and makes some of us almost sick.”

The topic of the use of incense in the Sacred Liturgy has been covered previously in my comments in the bulletin and so I reprint what I said then below as well as make some additional comments.

This is from the September 23rd bulletin:

“Incense, according to the Institutio “is an expression of reverence and of prayer, as is signified in Sacred Scripture (Psalm 141:2, Revelation 8:3). Incense may be used…in any form of Mass.” Incense is a beautiful expression of our prayer rising before the throne of God, and its sweet aroma reminds us that our prayers are pleasing to God. Incense is also a beautiful reminder that the presence of God is mysterious. Just as He appeared to Moses in the cloud on Mt. Sinai, and as He appeared to Peter, James and John on Mt. Tabor in the midst of a cloud, so in the Eucharist He comes to us in the midst and mystery of a cloud.

Incense also allows us to enter into the Liturgy using all of our senses. The Liturgy is meant to involve the whole person, not just parts of us. So in addition to hearing the words of scripture, the music and the bells, seeing the altar, the statues, the windows and many other beautiful things in our Church, tasting the very Body and Blood of Christ, touching Him with our tongue or hands, we also see clouds of smoke and smell its sweet odor. Truly then Mass becomes a full body, full sense experience, which is exactly what it is supposed to be. Truly then we are living out what the Second Vatican Council called for when saying we should have “full, conscious, and active participation” in the Liturgy.”

Surely some of you have noted that we have been using incense fairly frequently. This is because the Church encourages us to ensure that the Sacred Liturgy is celebrated in the very best possible way that it can be celebrated. When we come to the Holy Mass we are here to give our very best to God, and we do this by striving to worship in a way that incorporates our whole selves (see above). It also means that we worship in the way that He desires to be worshiped, not the way we desire that He we worshiped. It’s kind of like marriage. If a husband desires to love his wife he will do things that she desires – he will love her the way she desires to be loved, not the way he desires to love her. So, he will give up his own desires in order to love his wife the way she desires to be loved. Yes, it is a sacrifice, but love always involves sacrifice; if we truly love someone we will die to ourselves and our wishes in order to give the one we love what they desire. The same is true of our relationship with God and our worship of Him. He desires to be worshiped in a particular way and that particular way is given to us through the scriptures and through the teachings of the Church that Jesus Himself founded. We may not personally like some of the particulars of how He desires us to worship Him, but if we love Him – truly love Him – then we should be willing, out of our love for Him, to sacrifice our own likes and dislikes in order to worship Him as he desires to be worshiped.

One of the many ways that Scripture and the Church tells us we can offer fitting worship to God is by using incense as part of our liturgical celebrations – especially ones that are more solemn such as Sundays and Solemnities. It helps to remind us that God is present at Mass, that our prayers rise up to Him as a fragrant offering, and that what happens at Mass is mysterious and awesome.

“But Father” some of you might ask “why are we doing this when none of the other parishes are doing it?” It’s a good question, but we are certainly not the only parish using incense on a regular basis. There are many, many parishes in our diocese that are using incense regularly. Some are even using it every Sunday of the year. Recently I came across a bulletin from another parish in our diocese and the pastor was addressing the very same issue in their bulletin. Here is what that pastor said in his bulletin on the Sunday right before Advent:

“In a couple of weeks we begin a new liturgical year – we move from Ordinary Time into Advent. Advent is a season of anticipation and hope. Mixed in with the preparation for Christ’s coming as a baby, is the preparation of His future coming in the “end times.” Of course, that means there will be changes in the liturgy. The most obvious one is color…Another addition to the 9 and 11 a.m. Masses will be the use of incense. I know at times this “incenses” some of our people who don’t like it or who are allergic to it. So I had to ask myself if it is really necessary. Why does the Church ask us to use incense...? Well, for one, incense was a gift brought by the Magi to the Christ child. It indicated that the Magi recognized Christ’s divinity. Aa we contemplate the end times during Advent, we will hear readings from the Book of Revelation describing in detail how the Lamb on the Throne is “incensed” by the angels o His right and left. When we begin to remove these important tangible signs and symbols from our worship, we mitigate the greater meaning of our celebration, and lose a certain understanding of our faith. This year, we will be using hypoallergenic incense in hopes of being sensitive to those with allergies. Today Malachi says in the First Reading that “the Day of the Lord is a fire that consumes some, and heals others.” May the “fire” we use this Advent be a sign of our desire for healing in every area of our lives.”

As we move toward Christmas I encourage all of us to be willing to allow ourselves to truly enter into the Sacred Liturgy; to let the signs and symbols, the sound and the sights, the smells and gestures to soak into us and lead us deeper and deeper into the mysteries that we celebrate.

As always, thank you for your questions and comments. I appreciate them because they help us to better understand our faith and can be a tool to help us understand why we do what we do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ah...How True It Is...

Here is a great quote from Mike Huckabee (and no, this is not an endorsement...just a good quote that struck a chord with my experience).

"In one of the first churches I was assigned to, I thought I was supposed to be the captain of a warship leading the congregation into a battle against spiritual darkness," he said."But they wanted the captain of the Love Boat. They just wanted everybody to be happy. It was not about how many people were won to Christ or how many teens were pulled away from drugs or how many marriages were saved. Instead, it was about the seniors having a great trip going to watch the fall leaves change, the teen-agers going to a better summer camp than the church across town."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cell Phones and Coffee Don't Mix

As I was minding my own business driving along I-29 on my way to spiritual direction I had my cell phone/PDA on my lap and my steaming cup of java in the cup holder. As I drove along peacefully, listening Fox News Radio, my phone ever so gently slid off of my lap and plopped itself right into the coffee.

So let this be a warning to all reading this, coffee and cell phones don't mix, so keep them far, far apart.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Liturgical Changes at St. Peter's Basilica

From The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI):
"Facing toward the East, as we heard, was linked with the "sign of the Son of Man", with the Cross, which announces Our Lord's Second Coming. That is why, very early on, the East was linked with the sign of the cross. Where a direct common turning toward the East is not possible, the cross can serve as the interior "East" of faith. It should stand in the middle of the altar and be the common point of focus for both priest and praying community."

"In this way we obey the ancient call to prayer: Conversi ad Dominum, "Turn to the Lord!" In this way we look together at the One whose Death tore the veil of the Temple -- the One who stands before the Father for us and encloses us in His arms in order to make us the new and living Temple."

"Moving the altar cross to the side to give an uninterrupted view of the priest is something I regard as one of the truly absurd phenomena of recent decades. Is the cross disruptive during Mass? Is the priest more important than Our Lord?"

"This mistake should be corrected as quickly as possible; it can be done without further rebuilding. The Lord is the point of reference. He is the rising sun of history."

Pictures taken at Mass this Morning in St. Peter's Basilica:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


No, I'm not dead...but you wouldn't know that by reading my blog. I have been really busy. Between running a parish, doing work in the office of vocations, and keeping up with the homeschool families I don't have to worry about being bored. Below you will find a number of homilies and bulletin letters which have been piling up for quite some time now.

Please keep me in your prayers and have a great Thanksgiving.

Homily: 33rd Sunday of the Year

Malachi 3:19-20
Psalms 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
Second Thessalonians 3:7-12
Luke 21:5-19

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever. Amen.

1. Well Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. What is it about Thanksgiving that appeals to us so much? Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that really gets our juices flowing. Maybe it’s the food…I like that part. Maybe it’s the family gatherings. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because deep within us there is a desire to give thanks to God. It seems to me, that in most people, there is an inherent knowledge that we should give thanks to God. We all know, deep within ourselves how very blessed we are, and so naturally we feel a need to give thanks to God, who has given us all of these gifts.

2. For us as Catholics this is especially true, because the spirit of giving thanks to God is at the heart of our lives. It is what we come every to Mass every Sunday to do, in fact the very word Eucharist means thanksgiving. So for us as Catholics, every day is Thanksgiving Day, every day is a day where we can come to the Eucharist- to Thanksgiving - in order to give God thanks for the gifts He gives us, and there are so many of them.

3. As Catholics we have been given so many gifts that often times we take them for granted. I would like to talk about three of these gifts, today. First, the gift of baptism which washes away original sin, makes us children of God, and members of His family - which is the Church. This is one gift that we Catholics share in common with our separated brothers and sisters. It is also a gift that we often take for granted, in part because most of us don’t remember our baptism, but nevertheless we could say it was the single most important day of our life, because it was the day we became children of God, and that’s no small thing. To be a child of God means that we have a Father who will always watch over us, who will always make sure that no matter what happens, that He is there to help us through it. It also means that we have a family, the family of the Church; a family which is full of heroes and saints, and a goodly number of sinners too.

4. Second, God has given us the gift of the Sacrament of Penance. A sacrament where we come to have a personal encounter Jesus and have our sins forgiven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that "Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church…." In other words, the only way that we know for sure that our sins are forgiven is to go to confession. Some people out there might say that we don’t even commit sin, that it’s some sort of disease that can’t be stopped. Some people will tell you that you don’t even need to confess, since we don’t really sin. Or they might say we can just confess our sins in private prayer without going to confession. People who teach these things are not teaching what Christ taught. They have strayed from the true teachings of Christ, they have refused a gift that Jesus desires to give them, the gift of knowing for sure, without a shadow of a doubt, that our sins are forgiven no matter how horrible they may be. What an awesome gift it is to know that our sins are forgiven. It’s a gift that so many in our world, and even in our Church, to not accept as frequently as they should. So in thanksgiving to God for giving us the Sacrament of Penance we should accept the gift and go to confession.

5. The third gift from God that we often times take for granted is the Eucharist itself. The Eucharist, the Church teaches us, is the source and summit of our lives. It is the be all and end all of our faith. Why do we as Catholic put so much emphasis on the Eucharist? Because the Eucharist is Christ Himself. As most of you this past weekend I was at St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul with a group of eight young men who are thinking about the priesthood. While I was there I heard a priest share his vocation story. It was a story that was very powerful – almost unbelievable. One of the things that he talked about was how he was raised with really no religion at all – his family’s religion was sports, but when he was getting ready to go to high school his parents decided to send him to Catholic high school; not because of the faith, but because it had a good sports program. While he was there he had an experience of the Eucharist that changed his mind about religion and about the Catholic Faith. In a moment of prayer at Mass he knew that the Eucharist was Jesus – he knew in an instant, that what he thought was ridiculous – that bread and wine could turn into the very body and blood of Jesus – was real. After that, he knew he had to become Catholic, which is what he did. After High School he moved to Mississippi to play college baseball, and there, in the an environment which was predominantly protestant and anti-Catholic, he began to doubt his decision to become Catholic – after all, many of his new protestant friends were telling him that what he believed as a Catholic was not true. In the midst of this doubting he began to visit many protestant communities, he went worshiped with them, he prayed with them, and many of them had many great things going for them. For some it was the preaching, for others it was the music, for others it was their youth program, but no matter what denomination he worshiped with there was one thing missing. It was the Eucharist. It was the true presence of Christ in the tabernacle. It was the gift of being able to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. He found himself going to a protestant worship service, and then rushing off to Mass because he just couldn’t go without receiving the Eucharist.

6. My brothers and sisters, what a gift it is to have the Eucharist. What a gift it is to have this act of thanksgiving where we literally receive into our bodies God Himself, yet so many of us take it for granted, so many of us fall into the trap of making something so extraordinary, something so amazing, into something that is just routine. May God deliver us from such a thing! May He make us truly grateful for this gift. May he inspire in us a desire to give thanks for such a gift by accepting the gift frequently – certainly every Sunday since it would be sinful to willing miss Mass on Sunday – but also on other days as well. Thanksgiving Day would be the perfect day to accept this gift, to come, grateful for the gifts God has given us and give thanks, the Thanks of the Church, which we call the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. May we never, on a day set aside by our Country to give thanks, fail to give the greatest Thanksgiving we could give: that of joining in the eternal Thanksgiving which is the Holy Mass.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Mary, Queen of all Saints, pray for us.
St. Rose, pray for us. Amen.

Homily: 32nd Sunday of the Year

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever! Amen.

“It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king, to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law. One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said ‘What do you expect to achieve by questioning us? We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.’”

1. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our readings today all speak of the resurrection of the dead and life after death, but that’s not what I am going to preach about today. Something else in our readings today, especially in our first reading, struck me while I was reading and praying over it. The theme that seemed to jump off of the page was that of family and heritage and history, a theme which is at the heart of this parish family, a theme which is at the heart of who we are as Roman Catholics in the twenty first century.

2. One of the things I have liked to do since my childhood when I was growing up in Milbank is to pray my rosary while walking in the cemetery. I find it to be a very peaceful and quiet place to pray, but also a place which reflects the great heritage and the great history of our families. Just the other day I was doing this very thing in our parish cemetery and I was once again reminded of the value of family, the value of our common heritage that has been passed on from one generation to the next, down to this very group of people gathered here today. It was the men and women buried in that cemetery who gave birth to us, who raised us, and most importantly, who passed on to us our Catholic faith, our strong moral fiber, and our life of prayer and devotions. It was the men and women buried in that cemetery who out of their faith and love for God built this very building with the labor of their own hands and the sweat of their brow. It was they, our ancestors, who gave us this great gift, who built for us this place in which to offer sacrifice to God and nourish the faith which they instilled in us.

3. The brothers Macabee who we hear about in our first reading understood the great gift which their ancestors had passed on to them in their Jewish faith. Their parents, especially their mother, had instilled in all seven of them the great value of their faith, of the laws which guided their life, and the way in which they worshiped God. It was their faith in what had been passed on to them from their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents which gave them the strength to say “We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.” Their faith ran deep through the generations. Their faith was so deep, so rooted in history and family, that they were willing to endure some of the greatest cruelties ever recorded in order to hold firm to what their ancestors passed on to them. What an amazing example for our world in which so much of what was passed on to us from our ancestors is easily discarded as old fashioned, archaic, or irrelevant. As people of modern society we all too often have thrown out the baby with the bathwater. We have all too often been unfaithful to the heritage and traditions which our ancestors worked so hard to instill in us. This is why it is so important for us as a parish to remember our ancestors and what they did for us. This is why it is so important that we be good stewards of what they have passed on to us, whether it is this beautiful building or whether it is our strong work ethic. As good stewards of God’s gifts we should seek to preserve, and in some cases even restore, what they worked so hard to give us.

4. The other thing that struck me about this reading was that all seven brothers, along with their mother, remained united and steadfast when they were confronted with hardship and death. They, as a family, supported one another in their darkest day. Something tells me that if they did not all hold firm, that if even one of them had left, that they might have all left and denied their faith, their family, and the heritage given them by their ancestors.

5. This is why it is so important that we, as individual families, but also as a parish family, support one another; that we stick together, that we never, for any reason whatsoever abandon the faith entrusted to us by our ancestors. Because if one of us leaves, the rest are affected - it brings down the whole family. So let us be strong, let us embrace the faith traditions given to us by our ancestors, let us stick together through thick and thin, so that as one family, whole and entire, we can support and uphold one another when the faith of our Ancestors is threatened by outside forces as it is today. Our ancestors gave their blood, sweat and tears so that we might worship freely as Roman Catholics. So let us stick together as a family when so many in our world tell us that this very faith we believe, that our life of prayer and devotion is old fashioned and irrelevant to the modern world. Let us, along with the brothers Macabee and their mother proclaim that we would rather die than abandon the Catholic faith and traditions passed on to us by our ancestors.

6. My parish family, let us be strong, let us be united, let us be men and women of faith no matter what people might say or think. For by standing firm we will one day be given the inheritance reserved for those who keep the faith to the very end; we will be given the kingdom of heaven.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with insults, have mercy on us.
Mary, gate of heaven, pray for us.
St. Rose, pray for us. Amen.

From the Desk of the Pastor: 31st Sunday of the Year

This week we continue our liturgical discussion by answering a question which was placed in the Liturgical Question Box. The question is this: “What is the difference between a normal Mass and a Solemn Mass?”

First of all, we should define what we mean by a Solemn Mass. The term Solemn Mass could be interchangeable with the terms Sung Mass or High Mass. A Solemn Mass could include (but doesn’t have to include) things like the singing of the prayers, the Gospel, the first and second reading, the responsorial psalm, and even the Eucharistic Prayer itself. It may also include incense, the use of more candles and the use of festive vestments. Now certainly not every parish has the resources needed to do all of these things, but every parish certainly has the ability to do some of these things in order for some of their celebrations to take on a more solemn nature.

One thing I would like to clarify is that in some ways a Solemn Mass is indeed the “normal” way of celebrating Mass. In fact, The Solemn/Sung Mass remains the normative (normal) form of Celebrating the Mass, but, sadly, it is not the norm in most parishes. “A liturgical service takes on a nobler aspect when the rites are celebrated with singing,” says the Second Vatican Council. Another post Vatican II Church document refers to the sung or Solemn Mass, saying “For the celebration of the Eucharist with the people, especially on Sundays and feast days, a form of sung Mass is to be preferred as much as possible, even several times on the same day.” (Musicam Sacram).

As we can see from the documents of the Church, the solemn celebration of the Mass is to be preferred. That being the case the Holy Father, both before and after his election to the papacy, as well as Francis Cardinal Arinze, head of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as well as many other liturgist and theologians recommend that every parish, even those who are small and in remote areas, have at least one Solemn Mass for every Sunday and Holy Day. This will enable the parishioners and priests to offer their very best to God, something that should not be out of the ordinary, but a regular occurrence.

I hope that answers your question sufficiently, and as always, feel free to ask me any questions either in person or through the Liturgical Question Box.

Homily: 30th Sunday of the Year

Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
Psalms 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23
Second Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Luke 18:9-14

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever! Amen.

1. On a British Airways flight from Johannesburg, a middle-aged, well-off white South African Lady had found herself sitting next to a black man. She called the cabin crew attendant over to complain about her seating. “What seems to be the problem Madam?” asked the attendant. “Can’t you see?” she said. “You’ve sat me next to this man. I can’t possibly sit next to this disgusting human. Find me another seat!” “Please calm down Madam.” the stewardess replied. “The flight is very full today, but I’ll tell you what I’ll do- I’ll go and check to see if we have any seats available in club or first class.” The woman cocks a snooty look at the outraged black man beside her (not to mention at many of the surrounding passengers also).

2. A few minutes later the stewardess returns with the good news, which she delivers to the lady, who cannot help but look at the people around her with a smug and self satisfied grin: “Madam, unfortunately, as I suspected, economy is full. I’ve spoken to the cabin services director, and club is also full. However, we do have one seat in first class”. Before the lady had a chance to answer, the stewardess continues, “It is most extraordinary to make this kind of upgrade, however, and I have had to get special permission from the captain. But, given the circumstances, the captain felt that it was outrageous that someone be forced to sit next to such an obnoxious person.” With which, she turned to the black man sitting next to her, and said: “So if you’d like to get your things, sir, I have your seat ready for you in first class up at the front...” At which point, apparently the surrounding passengers stood and gave a standing ovation while the black guy walks up to first class in the front of the plane.

3. You know, as we listen to this story, hopefully it disgusts us. The prideful attitude of the woman who would not sit next to the African American man should cause us to be utterly repulsed. This attitude of thinking oneself superior to others rears its ugly head in our Gospel as well. There, it is not a white woman and an African American man, but rather a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee stands in the front of the temple and prays loudly so that all can hear him as he says “'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity -- greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector.” In other words, “Thank God I am not like those people. Thank God that I am so much better than them.”

4. It’s sad that this Pharisee thinks he is better than others, when in reality, it is he who is in need of changing. In this story it is he, and not the tax collector, who has the problem. It is he who needs to learn to be welcoming and loving toward all no matter what their background or heritage or social and economic status. We are all brothers and sisters and should treat each other that way.

5. This is something that, to a more or less degree, we all need to work on. All of us have our prejudices and stereotypes that we need to overcome. And not only do we need to work on this as individuals, but also as groups. Maybe it’s a clique at work that is not welcoming to others. Maybe at school, it’s a group of friends who for one reason or another, feel the need to bully others and treat them badly.

6. Sometimes this sort of prideful attitude finds it’s way even into a parish. I have been to many parishes where there was a kind of an attitude of pride where if you weren’t financially well off or if you were not of the right ethnicity, or if you were a newcomer of any kind, you really didn’t feel welcome. I have even been to a parish where families with children were not allowed…imagine that, a parish without children…how sad.

7. We, as a parish family, need to make sure that we never fall into this same trap. We must all make sure that we never look down upon any of our brothers and sisters for any reason whatsoever. We must make sure that everyone, no matter who they are, what they do, where they come from, or how long they have been in our community, always feels welcome. The day that I hear from someone that they did not feel welcome to be part of our parish or any group within our parish is the day that I know we have, as a parish family, fallen into the sin of the Pharisee who looked down on the tax collector or the woman on the plane who didn’t want to sit next to the African American. God forbid that we as individuals or as a parish would ever fall into such a sin.

8. You know, we as Catholics are about the salvation of souls, nothing more and nothing less. We want all people to be saved, and if we treat others badly, we are failing in that task. Bishop Swain spoke about this very thing when, one year ago this past Friday, he was ordained and installed as our Bishop. On that day, in speaking to us for the very first time as our Bishop he said “Some view the Church as just another special interest group, but the Catholic Church is a not political institution or a non profit agency organized to do good things, although it does. We don’t endorse candidates or support political parties. The Church, rather, is a mystery of God’s plan to sanctify and to save. The Church is the people of God, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. She is God’s instrument for the salvation of souls. Yet we must take stands on issues in the public sphere when they touch the core of what we know by reason to be true and affect the salvation of souls. We care about all our brothers and sisters.”

9. Yes, my friends, we care about all our brothers and sisters, we want them all to find salvation; and by being prideful, in looking down on others, by judging them, by not including them in our families, in our groups of friends, in our communities, and in our parishes we are not doing that.

10. Today, as we gather around the Altar of Sacrifice, let us ask God for the grace to always be welcoming, to always be ready to lead others, no matter who they are, to Christ, the one who, through the Church, offers us Salvation.

Blood of Christ, generous to all who turn to you, have mercy on us.
Mary, gate of heaven, pray for us. Amen.
St. Rose, pray for us. Amen.

From the Desk of the Pastor: 29th Sunday of the Year

Glory Halleluiah! A question has appeared in the Liturgical question box, and it fits right into where we are in our discussion of the Holy Mass. The question is this; “how were the readings chosen? Of all the messages in the Bible why are these chosen as more important?” This is an excellent question.

The Lectionary, or book of readings used at Mass, has a long history in the Church. Prior to the Second Vatican Council there was only a one year cycle of readings. This means that the same reading would be heard on the same Sunday or Feast Day every year. Now we have a three year cycle for Sundays (Years A, B, and C) and a two year cycle for weekdays (Years 1 and 2). This allows for a greater variety of scriptures to be used, in fact, if one were to go to Mass every day (which is a good idea by the way) they would hear almost all of the Bible (with the exception of some of the more obscure passages) over the course of three years.

The readings that have been chosen to be part of the Lectionary were chosen by a group of scripture scholars, bishops and priests and reflect the season, feast day, or theme of any given Mass. On Sundays the first readings is taken from the Old Testament, the Second reading from the New Testament and the Gospel is from one of the four Gospels. If we pay attention we will find that there is usually a theme or connection between the readings chosen. Granted, sometimes I even wonder why a particular passage was chosen when another reading might fit in better, but the Holy Spirit works through the Church, and He must have a reason, even if you and I don’t understand what it is.

There is a common misconception that Catholics do not read the bible, but protestants do. This may be true when it comes to our private bible reading, but when it comes to our liturgical celebrations Catholics by far have more scripture than any protestant denomination. There is a wonderful book entitled “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic” by David B. Currie. In the book he recounts his journey from Protestantism to Catholicism, part of which was his own survey looking into which Church was really a “bible based church.” He did an informal study of what percentage of any given denomination’s worship service was actually scripture reading. The results are amazing. “The Evangelical Church…spent less than 6 percent of its Sunday Service in Scripture. The fundamentalist church….which considers itself biblically based spend 2 percent of its morning in Scripture….Catholics at Mass spend more that 26 percent of the time is Scripture.” Surely, for us as Catholics scripture is important, and that is why we spend so much of our time at Mass reading Sacred Scripture.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Stop Clowning Around

Whispers reports something the Holy Father said at his Wednesday Audience. I think it is quite good and pertinent to the Church today, so I thought I would share it.

Those who teach the faith “cannot run the risk of appearing like a type of clown who is playing a part; rather he must be like the beloved disciple who rested his head on the Master’s heart and learned therein how to think, speak and act”. Because “at the end of it all a true disciple is he who announces the Gospel in a credible and effective way”, in short “authentic witness”...According to the Pope, an effective announcing of the Gospel can only occur there where the “witness” of the preacher’s life and the “exemplary conduct of the Christian community” are credible, as was the case with Saint Ambrose and his Church. As Augustine himself writes in his ”Confessions” what urged the young sceptical and desperate African to convert was in fact “Saint
Augustine’s witness and that of his Milanese Church, which sang and prayed as one united body, capable of resisting the arrogance of the Emperor and his mother”, who demanded a building for the Arians. But in that building “the people held vigil ready to die together with their bishop”. “It is all too clear – commented Benedict XVI – which the witness of the preacher and the exemplary conduct of the Christian community condition the effectiveness of the spreading of the faith”.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Another Ministerial Appointment

His Excellency, Bishop Paul J. Swain has entrusted to me, in addition to my current assignments, another ministry. He has appointed me Chaplain to St. Margaret's Fellowship, a Catholic homeschool organization for families in the Sioux Falls, SD area. I look forward to serving this wonderful group of families and, with God's grace, lead them closer to the heart of Christ, the Divine Teacher.

Please remember me in your prayers as I take on this new ministry.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And The New Cardinals Are...

New Cardinal Electors:
1. Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern
2. Archbishop John Patrick Foley, Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order
of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem;
3. Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, President of the Pontifical Commission for
the Governance of the Vatican City-State;
4. Archbishop Paul Joseph Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council "Cor
5. Archbishop Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, Vicar
General for the Vatican City-State and President of the Administration of St.
6. Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko, President of the Pontifical Council for the
7. Archbishop Raffaele Farina, Head of the Vatican Archives and
8. Archbishop Agustín García-Gasco Vicente of Valencia (Spain);
9. Archbishop Seán Baptist Brady of Armagh (Ireland);
10. Archbishop Lluís Martínez Sistach of Barcellona (Spain);
11. Archbishop André Vingt-Trois of Paris (France);
12. Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genova (Italy);
13. Archbishop Théodore-Adrien Sarr of Dakar (Senegal);
14. Archbishop Oswald Gracias of Bombay (India);
15. Archbishop Francisco Robles Ortega of Monterrey (Mexico);
16. Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston (USA);
17. Archbishop Odilio Pedro Scherer of São Paulo (Brazil);
18. Archbishop John Njue of Nairobi (Kenya).

Honorary Cardinals:

1. His Beatitude Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the
2. Archbishop Giovanni Coppa, emeritus Apostolic Nuncio to the Czech
3. Archbishop Estanislao Esteban Karlic, emeritus of Paraná
4. Fr. Urbano Navarrete, S.J., former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian
5. Fr. Umberto Betti, O.F.M., former rector of the Pontifical Lateran

The big surprise, at least for us Americans, was Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston. This is a new thing, but a sure sign of the Holy Fathers realization that there is something very important going on in the Southern United States.

Let us pray for these men that they will continue to be faithful servants of Christ, even to the point of shedding their blood.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Homily 28th Sunday of the Year

Second Kings 5:14-17
Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
Second Timothy 2:8-13
Luke 17:11-19

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever. Amen.

1. When I was in the seminary in St. Louis one of the things our rector, the head of the seminary, would say over and over again in his homilies and in the conferences and talks, was that as Catholic Christians we should always cultivate an attitude of gratitude. At the time I thought the saying “attitude of gratitude” was a bit hokey, but nevertheless there is a great truth in that statement. We, my brothers and sisters, do need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for what God has given us. For He has given us so much, he has blessed us as individuals, as a community, and as a parish family.

2. Our first reading from the Second Book of Kings recounts for us the healing of Naaman by the prophet Elisha and his immense gratitude for that healing. But what the reading doesn’t recount for us are the events leading up to this, and the fact that right before this, Naaman wasn’t exactly grateful at all, in fact he was rather upset that he didn’t get what he wanted from Elisha.

3. The whole story begins like this: “Naaman, commander of the army of the King of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper...”

4. As the story continues Naaman, through one of the servants of his wife, heard that there was a great prophet who could heal of him of his leprosy, so he went and sought him out. After a stop to see the King of Israel, he eventually made his way to Elisha. Here is how the Scriptures recounts the encounter between them:

Elisha said “Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a
prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and halted
at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying
‘go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you
shall be clean.’ But Naaman was angry, and went away, saying ‘Behold, I thought
that he would surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord
his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper. Are not
Abana, and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of
Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?’ So he turned and went away
in a rage.”

5. You see, Naaman had a preconceived notion about how the Lord would work in his life. He thought that there would be some sort of special encounter with all sorts of theatrics and special effects, and that the would be healed through this. As the story says, he wanted Elisha to come out and stand before him. He expected him to call on the name of God and wave his hands about and thus cure him. That’s certainly not what he got; all he got was Elisha’s servant telling him to take a bath in dirty water. He didn’t get what he wanted, and this reduced this great man of valor, this mighty warry to nothing more than a tantrum throwing self centered brat. He was healed, but not the way he wanted to be healed. Even though he was healed, he complained and moaned and groaned because he wanted it to be done according to what he like and what he wanted.

6. Sometimes we can be a lot like Naaman. We can be given everything we could ever desire, but we still complain, we still moan and groan because it wasn’t done the way we like it, or the way we are used to, or the way it’s always been done.

7. This sort of attitude can find its way into a lot of aspects of our lives. It can find its way into family life, into our work, into our social life, and sadly, even into parish life; even into the Holy Mass.

8. In the Mass we are given literally everything we could ever want, for we are given Jesus, God Himself, in the Holy Eucharist. We are fed with the very body and blood of Jesus, we are given the very life of God in our souls. What more could we possibly want? Yet, as any priest will tell you, there is nothing more complained about, nothing which attracts more moaning and groaning than the Holy Mass. It seems that no matter what parish one is at there are complaints about the décor of the Church, or about the music, or about the homily; and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Things like the use of chant, Latin, incense, and a whole host of other liturgical items can overshadow the beauty and true meaning of the Sacred Liturgy and foster a spirit of division and whining rather than a spirit of unity and gratitude which is at the heart of what the Eucharist is all about. Surely, there can be valid reasons to discuss why some of these things are used, but the discussion should always have gratitude and a spirit of thanksgiving for what we do have as its basis. Maybe in some places the music is bad or the homilies are boring, but at least there is Mass, at least there is the possibility of receiving Holy Communion, something that not everybody in our world has.

9. My brothers and sisters, God has given us so very much. We have so much to be grateful for, so much to thank God for. I hope and pray that the Eucharist can truly be a time to express an attitude of gratitude rather than a time to moan and groan. I hope that all of us can overcome in our lives that part of us that is like Naaman, who even though he was healed, was not satisfied because he wasn’t healed in the way he thought he should be healed. I hope that all of us will truly be grateful for the gift which is the Mass, even if it isn’t celebrated the way would like it to be celebrated. After all, the Mass isn’t about us and what we want or what we get out of it. The Mass is about God, and giving Him what is due to Him, namely our thanks.

10. Mary, our mother, is the perfect example for us of what it means to be men and women of gratitude. Her attitude of gratitude shined brightly throughout every moment of her life. I am sure that she didn’t particularly enjoy giving birth in a stable, or fleeing to Egypt, or seeing her Son suffer unimaginably. Yet she never uttered a single complaint, rather, she was grateful for the great gift which was bestowed upon her, namely Jesus. May we, like her, always be grateful that to have been bestowed the grace of having Jesus, God Himself, dwell within our very bodies in the Holy Eucharist. May we, like her, never give in to the spirit of complaining even if things aren’t the way we would like them to be. For by rejecting that spirit we will be embracing a true and holy attitude of gratitude.

Heart of Jesus, generous to all who turn to you, have mercy on us.
Mary, vessel of selfless devotion, pray for us.
St. Rose, pray for us.

From the Desk of the Pastor: 28th Sunday of the Year

This week we continue our journey through the Holy Mass by delving into the Liturgy of the Word. The Institutio gives a wonderful overview of the Liturgy of the word by saying that “The main part of the Liturgy of the Word is made up of the readings from Sacred Scripture together with the chants occurring between them. The homily, Profession of Faith, and Prayer of the Faithful, however, develop and conclude this part of the Mass. For in the readings, as explained by the homily, God speaks to his people, opening up to them the mystery of redemption and salvation and offering them spiritual nourishment; and Christ himself is present in the midst of the faithful through his word. By their silence and singing the people make God’s word their own, and they also affirm their adherence to it by means of the Profession of Faith. Finally, having been nourished by it, they pour out their petitions in the Prayer of the Faithful for the needs of the entire Church and for the salvation of the whole world.”

The Institutio also speaks of the great value of silence during the Liturgy of the Word. Often times people become uncomfortable with the amount of silence that many priests insist upon during the Liturgy of the Word, but according to the Institutio this silence is to be observed and valued, in fact, it says that we should never hurry through this time set aside to listen to the Word of God. It says “The Liturgy of the Word is to be celebrated in such a way as to promote meditation, and so any sort of haste that hinders recollection must clearly be avoided. During the Liturgy of the Word, it is also appropriate to include brief periods of silence, accommodated to the gathered assembly, in which, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the word of God may be grasped by the heart and a response through prayer may be prepared. It may be appropriate to observe such periods of silence, for example, before the Liturgy of the Word itself begins, after the first and second reading, and lastly at the conclusion of the homily.”

The readings from Sacred Scripture, except for the Gospel, are proclaimed by a Lector. The Gospel is proclaimed “by a deacon or, in his absence, a priest other than the celebrant. If, however, a deacon or another priest is not present, the priest celebrant himself should read the Gospel.” The office and role of the Lector will be discussed next week.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Rectory

Here is a lovely little parody done by some of the pius seminarians at my alma mater Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. It's quite amusing.

From the Desk of the Pastor: 27th Sunday of the Year

Once again there are no questions in the Liturgical Question Box and so we continue our discussion of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Last week we began our discussion of the Gloria. The roots of the Gloria are found at the very beginning of the life of Christ when, as the scriptures say, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glòria in excèlsis Deo et in terra pax homìnibus bonae voluntàtis.’” (Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.) The origins of this great hymn of praise remind us again of how in the Holy Mass we truly do join with this great multitude of the heavenly host in their song.

The Institutio says of the Gloria that it is “intoned by the priest” or if it is necessary, it can be intoned by a cantor. “It is sung either by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone.” The Institutio also points out that this hymn can never be replaced by another song.

After the Gloria the priest invites the people to pray. After this invitation there should be a short moment of silence so that all “may be conscious of the fact that they are in God’s presence and may formulate their petitions mentally.” Then the priest sings or says the collect. This opening prayer is called a collect because, as the Latin word suggests, this prayer collects all the prayers that we have offered in silence and offers them, through the ministry of the priest to God the Father.

After all respond with the Amen, everyone sits for the Liturgy of the Word, which will be our topic next week.

From the Desk of the Pastor: 26th Sunday of the Year

This week, since there are no questions in the Liturgical Question Box, we continue our explanation of the Mass. Last we examined the procession and entrance into the sanctuary focusing on the use of incense. This week I will begin by quoting someone much smarter than I, Bishop Peter J. Elliott who has written a wonderful book entitled “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite” Bishop Elliott says “…the celebrant makes the sign of the cross, saying or singing, “In the name of the Father…”, and then joins his hands. He opens his hands as he says or sings the liturgical greeting, and closes them at the end of the chosen formula. He does not say “Good morning”, etc, as the sacred greeting obviously includes all human sentiments of goodwill.”

After the sign of the cross and the greeting we enter the Act of Penitence. The Institutio says that there should be a brief pause in order to call to mind our sins. You may have noticed that I truly do try to pause at this time. All to often the pause seems to be hurried and not at all long enough for us to truly enter into prayer and recall that we are sinners and in need of God’s Mercy and forgiveness.

When it comes to the Penitential Rite itself there are three options. Option A is the Confiteor (I confess…). As part of this option all should strike there breast at “through my own fault.” Option B is unfortunately rarely used and therefore most Catholic are unfamiliar with it. I encourage you to pick up the Missalette and become more familiar with this option. Option C is a series of invocations followed by Kyrie Eleison... When form A or B is used the Kyrie is “sung or said in the vernacular or in Greek. Form C includes the Kyrie within it and therefore is not repeated afterward.

After the Penitential Rite, on Sundays and Solemnities, comes the Gloria. According to the Institutio “The Gloria is a very ancient and venerable hymn in which the Church, gathered together…glorifies and entreats God the Father and the lamb. The text of this hymn may not be replaced by any other text.”

Next week we will continue discussing a few things about the Gloria and move on to the Collect or Opening Prayer.

From the Desk of the Pastor: 25th Sunday of the Year

Since there were no questions in the Liturgical Question Box we continue with our journey through the Holy Mass. Last week we discussed the beginning of this journey, the procession. Once the procession reaches the sanctuary, the most sacred part of the Church building, the Altar Servers (if they are not carrying anything) genuflect along with the priest. The genuflection is a sign of reverence for our Lord truly present in the Tabernacle. After this the priest and deacon reverences the altar with a kiss. The altar is venerated in this way because the Altar represents Christ Himself. This is also why at this time the Altar is often times incensed.

Incense, according to the Institutio “is an expression of reverence and of prayer, as is signified in Sacred Scripture (Psalm 141:2, Revelation 8:3). Incense may be used…in any form of Mass.” Incense is a beautiful expression of our prayer rising before the throne of God, and its sweet aroma reminds us that our prayers are pleasing to God. Incense is also a beautiful reminder that the presence of God is mysterious. Just as He appeared to Moses in the cloud on Mt. Sinai, and as He appeared to Peter, James and John on Mt. Tabor in the midst of a cloud, so in the Eucharist He comes to us in the midst and mystery of a cloud.

Incense also allows us to enter into the Liturgy using all of our senses. The Liturgy is meant to involve the whole person, not just parts of us. So in addition to hearing the words of scripture, the music and the bells, seeing the altar, the statues, the windows and many other beautiful things in our Church, tasting the very Body and Blood of Christ, touching Him with our tongue or hands, we also see clouds of smoke and smell its sweet odor. Truly then Mass becomes a full body, full sense experience, which is exactly what it is supposed to be. Truly then we are living out what the Second Vatican Council called for when saying we should have “full, conscious, and active participation” in the Liturgy.

Next week we, unless there is a question, we will move on to the Greeting, Act of Penitence, and the Kyrie Eleison.

Homily: 24th Sunday of the Year

Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
Psalms 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19
First Timothy 1:12-17
Luke 15:1-32 or 15:1-10

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever. Amen!

1. There is a story about a little boy that I know. Being the good, warm hearted boy that he was, Tommy decided to do a good deed.

2. Lying in bed early one Sunday morning he decided to make his mom and dad breakfast, and he immediately set out for the kitchen. He had seen his mom make pancakes a hundred times so he knew exactly how to make them. First, he needed a big bowl, so he opened the cupboard and peered into the darkness inside…he finally caught sight of the big bowl way in the back. He reached in, grabbed it, and yanked. It made the biggest racket he had ever heard when all those pots and pans came tumbling out…they were strewn all over the floor.

3. Next, he pulled a chair over to the counter, crawled up on it, opened the cupboard and pulled down the big canister of flour, spilling it all over himself, all over the countertop, all over the floor, and even all over the dog. Needless to say, the little guy was getting a little frustrated, but he really wanted to do this nice thing for his parents so he kept plugging along. Suddenly, he saw his puppy licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push him away and in the process knocked the eggs onto the floor. He tried to clean up this huge mess as fast as he could, but he slipped on the eggs and got his pajamas all dirty. He was nothing but a big bundle of mess, covered from head to toe in flour and eggs.

4. Just then he noticed his dad standing in the doorway and the tears began to well up in his eyes. All he wanted to do was a good deed for his mom and dad, but all he ended up doing was making a really big mess…he thought he was in for a talking to…and maybe a little spanking, but his father just stood there and watched him. Then, walking right through the mess, his dad, with tears in his own eyes picked Tommy up in his strong yet gentle arms and hugged him, getting his own pajamas dirty in the process.

5. In today’s readings we hear a lot about people who have made messes; people who have turned aside from the way that God had pointed out, people who worshiped idols, people who were blasphemers and arrogant, people who left home and squandered their inheritance on a life of dissipation. People like us. We are all sinners…you and me. There is no way to avoid that fact – even St. Paul in the second reading admits that he was a sinner. In his own words, he was “the foremost” of all sinners.

6. St. Paul had a very healthy sense of his own sin. On one hand he knew he was a great sinner, but on the other hand he also knew that he was redeemed by the blood of the Lamb – Jesus Christ. He knew that like the prodigal son, he could run back to his Father at any time, and he would welcome him back with open arms, and a fabulous feast. He knew that even though he was weak and foolish, his Father would lift him out of his mess and embrace him in his most loving and merciful arms.

7. We, like St. Paul in the first reading, and the prodigal son in the gospel have made messes in our life – some big, some small, but messes nevertheless. But I don’t care what mess – what sin we are involved in, God wants to enter that mess and lift us out. Whether it’s an addiction to pornography, a past abortion, contraception, marriage problems, a living together before marriage, drinking, drugs, murder, or theft, God wants to forgive us. He wants to enter our messes and rescue us from them. He wants to wipe away our tears. He wants to forgive us. But my friends, are we humble enough, are we childlikee enough, to let him love us?

8. Letting God love us, letting him forgive us…that is what the Sacrament of Penance is all about. It’s not about beating ourselves up. It’s not about telling our sins to a priest just for the sake of telling them. In fact it’s really not even the priest that we are confessing our sins to. We are really confessing them to Jesus, Who is present to us through a mere instrument; the instrument of His priest. It is Jesus himself who is sitting in the confessional through the mysterious ministry of the priest. This is the very reason why my personal preference as a priest is to hear confessions behind the screen. It helps us to remember that it’s not Fr. Christensen, or Fr. Tony, or Fr. Tom to whom we are confessing, it is Jesus, and the fact that you don’t have to look at us will hopefully help to remind you that it is Jesus, not Fr. Christensen or any other priest who you are confessing your sins to, it is Jesus Himself.

9. Still, even though we know it is Jesus to whom we are confessing it can be hard. I know that sometimes we may feel like little Tommy – waiting for the wrath of our Father – a talking to, or a spanking. But we know from scripture and from our own experience that Our Father is not going to turn his back to us, but rather he will run to meet us like the father of the prodigal son. He’s not going to be angered at our sinfulness; rather he will rejoice that this child of His who was dead through sin is once again alive.

10. My friends, today we gather around this altar to enter into greatest act of love our God could ever offer to us, the very death and resurrection of his own Son Jesus Christ. Today we will truly and really be present as he freely gives his life so that we might live. So let us resolve right here and now to allow God to love us, to let him enter our messes through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I promise you, that if you allow yourself to be honest, if you really open up your messes to the Lord in the Sacrament you will not regret it, for in that moment He will look at you, and with tears in His eyes He will walk right through the midst of your mess, He will lift you up and hold you in His strong yet gentle hands, and love you with all His Merciful Heart. And then, my friends, the celebration in heaven will begin.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Mary, refuge of sinners, pray for us.
St. Rose, pray for us. Amen.

From the Desk of the Pastor: 24th Sunday of the Year

This week we begin our discussion of the Holy Mass. The source of the information I will use to discuss the Mass comes largely from a document called the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (Latin for: General Instruction of the Roman Missal.) This document is often times called the GIRM but since I don’t particularly like to refer to Church documents as germs I usually refer to it as the Institutio. The Institutio is basically the Church’s rule book for the celebration of the Holy Mass. It tells us how the Holy Mass is to be celebrated and what things we should avoid.

Since, as the song from The Sound of Music states, the beginning is “a very good place to start” I thought we would begin at the very beginning of the Mass, the Entrance Procession.

The Institutio says that “after the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster unity…introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.”

The Holy Mass begins with a procession, which, although a great way to get from point A to point B, has a very important symbolic meaning. It symbolizes the journey that all of us make from Baptism (this is why the baptismal font ought to be in the entrance to the Church) to Eternal life in heaven, which is symbolized by the sanctuary since it is there, in the sanctuary, that we truly enter into heaven whenever we celebrate the Holy Mass.

The procession is made up of the Thurifer carrying the thurible (incense burner), the Crucifer who carries the cross, the candle bearers, the other Altar Servers, any concelebrating priests, the deacon(s) and finally the Presider.

Every time that we see the procession, or if we are so privileged to participate in it, we should be reminded that we, as one family in Christ, are on a journey from Baptism to Heaven. We should also be reminded to pray for those, who during their life, have lost their way and have strayed from the path that leads to eternal life.


Some of you may be wondering by now if I am still among the living. Well, I am, but it has been a bit of a whirlwind lately. That being the case there is quite a backlog of homilies and bulletin letters. You will see them appearing shortly.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Requiscat in Pace

Please remember in your prayers my uncle, Roger Christensen, who died early this morning.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Pope is Coming!

Yes, according to Whispers, the Holy Father will visit the United States April 15-20, 2008. It looks as if he will only visit the East Coast, which for us midwesterners is kind of a letdown...but nevertheless he will be in the country.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Good Things Happening...

From The Desk of the Pastor

From this weeks Bulletin:

Many of you may remember that Bishop Swain, in his homily during the Installation Mass this past August 15th, said that he knows that I have a great love for the Sacred Liturgy. Boy, did he hit the nail on the head. As I think most of you have already come to know, I do indeed have a great love for the Liturgy, and I will certainly try my best to ensure that our Liturgies here at St. Rose of Lima are always done with utmost reverence, devotion, and respect for the Tradition of the Church. With that in mind, I thought it would be useful for all of us, myself included, to begin exploring the various parts of the Mass and to answer the question “Why do we do that?” We will do this through these little letters in the bulletin. Starting next week, I will begin a series on the parts of the Mass. Hopefully it will provide answers to all of the questions you may have about why we do what we do. It will also be an opportunity to delve into a dialogue and conversation about how we, as a parish family, can continue to enter more deeply into the liturgies we celebrate here at St. Rose.

To facilitate this, next week when you come to Sunday Mass there will be a box in the entry way to the Annex where you can put questions of a liturgical nature which I will then try to answer over time in the bulletin. I may not answer all of them right away, but I will eventually get to them all. And if there are no questions, I will begin systematically working my way through the Mass, explaining what happens and why.

I hope this will be of benefit to all of us as we seek to make our worship into a beautiful and pleasing gift to God.

I also want to encourage everyone to feel free to contact me personally with any questions and concerns that you may have. I am always open to discussing our parish and its needs with anyone.

Homily: 23rd Sunday of the Year

Wisdom 9:13-18
Psalms 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17
Philemon 1:9-10, 12-17
Luke 14:25-33

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever. Amen!

It was last Wednesday evening that God taught me a lesson. He taught me that one should be careful when praying for humility, because He will surely give it, usually at the most inopportune times. Earlier in the day, when I was preparing for the Harvest Mass at the Sorenson’s I printed off some directions off the internet, but knowing that they are not reliable I called one of our fine, upstanding parishioners just to make sure the directions were right, which they assumed, although not the way they usually went, were just fine.

I figured, by what the directions told me, that it would only take about 15 minutes at the most to get there. Since Mass was slated to start at 6:30 I figured I would leave at about five to six…that would give me plenty of time…or so I thought.

I began my journey full of confidence, only to become a bit worried when at about 6:15 I arrived in Jasper…hmm…not where I thought I should be…so I turned around and tried again…once again I found myself where I shouldn’t be…as the clock was ticking and my mind racing I realized that my car was beeping at me…telling to me that I was about to run out of gas…what I thought would be enough gas to get me to the Sorenson’s and back, was now, in the midst of being lost, not nearly enough to get me where I need to be. Just then a sign told me that Sherman was just a few miles off. Now, never having been to Sherman, I made the mistake of assuming that they would have a gas station…an assumption which of course…was dead wrong…an assumption which in the long run probably saved me some embarrassment since I then realized that I had failed to bring my wallet. Now as the clock was nearing ten to seven I figured I should head back to town to get some gas and try again. But realizing that when I did try again, I did not know where to go, I called our faithful parish council Chairman. I informed him of my dire predicament and he only laughed at me…which made me wonder if this wasn’t some sort of joke that they play on all the new pastors…I began to wonder if there even was a Harvest Mass or if this is just way you break in the new pastor.

After putting in a few gallons of Gas and confident with new directions I began again. Just then my cell phone rang and it was our trusty Deacon. When I answered he said “Father, where are you?” I said “I’m lost.” He said “I figured that, but where are you.” When he realized I was just headed out of town he was so kind to lead me to where everyone was waiting…thanks be to God the folk group was there to keep the people from rioting by playing for them…I don’t think I will ever live this down…so be careful what you pray for…you just might get it.

“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple…In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

1. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this, as they said about Jesus’ teaching on the Holy Eucharist, is a hard teaching. It seems as though Jesus is encouraging us to hate people…and surely that cannot be so. Jesus teaches us to hate no one or no thing other than evil and sin. So what exactly is Jesus getting at? Is He really telling us to hate our parents, our brothers and sisters, and our other family members? Clearly, the answer is no.

2. I think this passage is really not about hate at all, but about love. It is about making sure that our love priorities are straight. He wants to tell us, in no uncertain terms that if we want to follow Him, if we want to be faithful Catholics, then we must love Him more than anything else. St. Matthew, in recording this same event puts it a little differently. There Jesus says “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who love son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Jesus is not so much telling us about hate, but rather about our love for Him. Jesus is making a point about love and what we might call a hierarchy of loves, a prioritized list of people and things we love.

3. It is clear then, that Jesus wants to make perfectly clear that if we want to follow Him, and I assume every one here does, then He must be the first priority on that list, and nothing, not even our father or mother should come before Him.

4. I do no think that what I am about to say will come as a surprise to anyone. Our world, our society, or nation, sometimes even our own communities, and families have this backwards. They seem have the whole hierarchy, the whole list of priorities upside down. Instead of God being at the top where He should be, He is at the bottom. Coming to Mass or religious ed is sort of a thing we do if we have time left over after all the other stuff we like to do. And even some of the things other than God which should be priorities are not. Things like our spending time with our spouse and children and serving our country and community sadly take the back seat to things like working overtime to buy another car, sporting events and practices, hunting, fishing, and I hate to even say it, watching TV.

5. You know, it’s easy for us to just sort of sit here and think about all those other people who don’t live this teaching of Christ well. I know when I was writing this homily I started making a list in my mind of people who don’t do this well, the suddenly I realized that before condemning everyone else I should take a good long look in the spiritual mirror. I would be willing to bet that a good number of us while listening to this homily have already started thinking about those other people…neighbors, family members, co-workers, who put all kinds of thing before God. That’s easy to do…but when it comes to this, before judging others, we need to should take a good long look at ourselves.

6. I think it would be a very good and spiritually uplifting thing for all of us, myself included, to take a good look at our priorities and ask ourselves a few questions. Are we really putting God first? Do we think about Him every day or just on Sundays and Wednesdays? Do we give Him some of our time every day in prayer, and if we are giving Him time in prayer every day are we giving Him the best of our time, or just what is left over? Can we honestly say we love Him and put Him above everything else in our life? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then I say to you, welcome to fallen humanity. There isn’t a man, woman, or child on earth who lives this perfectly. So don’t be discouraged, but keep trying.

7. If we want to grow in this area I would offer the following suggestions. First, if we have not put God first in our lives, we should repent. We should say we are sorry and resolve to change for the better. The best way to do that is to make a good honest confession. Second, make a commitment to never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever miss Sunday Mass. Unless you are dead, dying, or really sick, never miss Mass. Once you are fully resolved to do that we move on to number three, give God the best of your time. Are you the kind of person who is at their best in the morning? Then give Him some prayer time then. If you do your best work in the afternoon, then give Him some time then. If the best thing you can do is sew, then make a beautiful Altar Cloth and give it to the parish, or make some clothing for the poor. If the best thing you do is garden, then take the best of your vegetables and give them to the Red Sisters in Sioux Falls, or the Carmelites in Alexandria, or to the Banquet where they can be used to feed the poor. And this isn’t just for adults. Children, if the best thing you can do is ride your bike, then ride it to the Church to visit Jesus who lives in the tabernacle. If the best think you can do is play football, then play it honestly and well for Jesus.

8. If we start by doing these three things then what follows will come naturally, and soon we will be able to say, with totally honesty, that we do love Jesus above all things, and then we will truly be able to call ourselves followers of Jesus, men and women seeking to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus along that path that leads through Calvary to the joy of heaven.

Heart of Jesus, patient and full of mercy, have mercy on us.
Mary, Queen of families, pray for us.
St. Rose, pray for us. Amen.


Wednesday 12 September 2001

I cannot begin this audience without expressing my profound sorrow at the terrorist attacks which yesterday brought death and destruction to America, causing thousands of victims and injuring countless people. To the President of the United States and to all American citizens I express my heartfelt sorrow. In the face of such unspeakable horror we cannot but be deeply disturbed. I add my voice to all the voices raised in these hours to express indignant condemnation, and I strongly reiterate that the ways of violence will never lead to genuine solutions to humanity’s problems.

Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. After receiving the news, I followed with intense concern the developing situation, with heartfelt prayers to the Lord. How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.

With deeply felt sympathy I address myself to the beloved people of the United States in this moment of distress and consternation, when the courage of so many men and women of good will is being sorely tested. In a special way I reach out to the families of the dead and the injured, and assure them of my spiritual closeness. I entrust to the mercy of the Most High the helpless victims of this tragedy, for whom I offered Mass this morning, invoking upon them eternal rest. May God give courage to the survivors; may he sustain the rescue-workers and the many volunteers who are presently making an enormous effort to cope with such an immense emergency. I ask you, dear brothers and sisters, to join me in prayer for them. Let us beg the Lord that the spiral of hatred and violence will not prevail. May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Mercy, fill the hearts of all with wise thoughts and peaceful intentions.

Today, my heartfelt sympathy is with the American people, subjected yesterday to inhuman terrorist attacks which have taken the lives of thousands of innocent human beings and caused unspeakable sorrow in the hearts of all men and women of good will. Yesterday was indeed a dark day in our history, an appalling offence against peace, a terrible assault against human dignity.

I invite you all to join me in commending the victims of this shocking tragedy to Almighty God' s eternal love. Let us implore his comfort upon the injured, the families involved, all who are doing their utmost to rescue survivors and help those affected.

I ask God to grant the American people the strength and courage they need at this time of sorrow and trial.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Homily: 21st Sunday of the Year

Isaiah 66:18-21
Psalms 117:1, 2
Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
Luke 13:22-30

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever. Amen.

Jesus passed through towns and villages…making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him,“Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them,“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.

1. I find it very providential that this Gospel comes after last weeks Gospel in which Jesus very frankly and honestly says talks about how His teachings will bring division; that it will cause people to disagree. This disagreement has been seen throughout History as we as Catholics try to bring all people to the truth and the joy which is found in being Catholic. This disagreement and tension naturally comes to a point where the question asked in today’s gospel must be asked. “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”

2. I know that after last week’s homily many in our Parish Family have been discussing and pondering a very similar version of the same question. Is it this: Is it only Catholics who can be saved? Does the Church rally believe that a person must be Catholic to go to heaven? It’s a good topic of discussion, something that Christians have been grappling with ever since the first division within the Church so many centuries ago. So for us to grapple with the same question is normal and even healthy. It makes us think. It makes us examine our beliefs, and it makes us ask another very important question, which I suspect is what the questioner in our gospel was really asking. I don’t think he really wanted to know how many people would be saved. I think what he really wanted to ask was “Lord, will I be saved?” This question too is a very important question; in some senses it is an even more important question than the first, because before we begin speculating about whether others will be saved we should take a good look at ourselves, and ask ourselves if we are doing everything we can do to make sure that we will be saved. What a pity it would be if we were so concerned about condemning others for their sins that we forget to work on our own sins. What a pity it would be if on judgment day the Lord did not recognize us, as he did not recognize the man in the Gospel parable.

3. The question about whether or not someone who is not Catholic can be saved is a very delicate question; one that can cause a lot of tension within communities and within families, but even so it is one that must be addressed. Sometimes we need to confront these difficult questions head on and without fear, trusting in God and knowing that ultimately He is guiding the Church.

4. So, is there salvation outside of the Church? Can someone who is not Catholic go to heaven? The teaching of the Church is very clear. As a wonderful article from a magazine entitled This Rock says in explaining the Church’s teaching “Extra ecclesiam, nulla salus (Latin for “Outside the Church there is no salvation) does not mean that only faithful Roman Catholics can be saved. The Church has never taught that.” In fact, the Church has taught quite the contrary.

5. The Church, from the very early centuries of the Church has believed what we find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. The Catechism states that “Every man who is ignorant of the gospel of Christ and of his Church but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it can be saved.” So clearly, someone who does not know and understand that the Catholic Church is the path that God has willed for our Salvation cannot be held accountable for not choosing that path. They can be saved. This certainly applies to our protestant brothers and sisters who, through no fault of their own, do not understand and know that Jesus founded the Catholic Church specifically to be the door to eternal life. They can be saved. It would be unreasonable to say anything otherwise, and God, by His very nature is reasonable.

6. At the same time, however, the Church also teaches that one who knows and understands that the Catholic Church was founded by Christ to be the path to heaven, and having that knowledge, still chooses to reject the Church cannot be saved, because they are consciously and deliberately choosing something they know to be contrary to God’s will. The Second Vatican Council affirms this when she says “They cannot be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or remain in it.”

7. So, can someone who is not Catholic be saved and go to heaven. Absolutely! Do we still want them to become Catholic? Absolutely! Even though it is possible find Salvation outside the Church, why not find it within the Church? Why not find Salvation in the best way possible, with the assistance and aid of the Holy Eucharist, The Sacrament of Penance, and the other Sacraments? As I said last week, we have a great gift in the Catholic Church, we have an assurance of grace and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance, we have the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we have the assurance from Christ Himself that the gates of hell will not prevail against us. Why would we not want others to have what we have? Why not do what we can to help our friends and family members to experience what we experience?

8. My brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus desires all men to be saved, from the most ardent atheist to the most devout Catholic. Today as we gather as one family in Christ, let us ask our Eucharist Lord to give us the grace and strength to do everything in our power to achieve our own salvation and to bring others to know that same salvation so that one day, as one body in Christ, we will stand before the throne of God in Heaven and forever sing His praises.

Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, have mercy on us.
Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.
St. Rose, faithful daughter of the Church, pray for us. Amen.

N.B. Since this homily has the potential for rude and uncharitable comments I have decided to close comments for this post. If you have a constructive comment to make please e-mail it to and if appropriate I will post it.

Homily: 20th Sunday of the Year

Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
Psalms 40:2, 3, 4, 18
Hebrews 12:1-4
Luke 12:49-53

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever. Amen.

“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!”

1. My brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus has come to set the world on fire. He has come to set you and me on fire with His love and His truth, and not only you and me, but each and every person who walks the face of the earth. He wants the whole world to be set ablaze with Love for Him. It is clear through the gospel reading that this is the greatest desire of Jesus “Oh” he says “how I wish it were already blazing!” Those are passionate words from a passionate man. His passion, His desire is that all – not just some - would come to Love Him. But in order to love Him, we must know Him and know His teachings. But those teachings, as we know, can be a cause great division. All we have to do is look at the History of the Church or at the current religious atmosphere throughout the world and we will see division – division caused a failure by some to accept the teachings of Christ.

2. In today’s gospel Jesus is very realistic about the division that will come about as a result of His teachings. “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?” He says. “No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

3. These words seem contrary to what many people think about Jesus and about Christianity. There are many in our world that hold the belief that Jesus came to bring peace and harmony, to help everyone get along, to make everyone happy. Surely, if – and that’s a pretty big if - everyone embraced the teachings of Jesus there would be peace and harmony, everyone would get along, and certainly everyone would be happy, but Jesus lives in reality. He knows that this peace and harmony can not fully happen in this life, but only in the next. We can move toward it, but it will never be fully achieved here on earth. Jesus knew that because of sin many would chose not to follow Him and His teachings, and thus there would be division. From the time of Jesus to our own time there has been one division after another. The most prominent division being the division between the Church Christ founded, the Catholic Church, and our Protestant brothers and sisters.

4. For a number of years now there has been a strong movement toward Ecumenism, towards unity among Christians. It is a movement encouraged by the Church, but commonly misunderstood.

5. The goal of authentic ecumenism is not that the Catholic Church changes Her teachings and practice in order to make non-Catholics more comfortable. Rather, according to the Second Vatican Council, true Ecumenism is to restore unity by helping non-Catholics to come to understand the truths of the faith and to bring them into unity with the one and only Catholic Church (UR 24). In more simple and straightforward terms, we are called to help them come home to the one true Church. Pope John Paul II, one of the greatest promoters of Ecumenism, assured the world in many of his documents that full communion between Catholics and non-Catholics “will have to come about through the acceptance of the whole truth into which the Holy Spirit guides Christ’s disciples” (UUS 36). And where is that truth to be found? The Second Vatican Council’s answer is this: “It is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone…that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained” (UR 3).

6. We, as Catholics must be clear. There is a difference between Catholics and Protestants. Yes, we have many things in common. Yes, we both are Christians. But the Catholic Church and she alone, is the Church founded by Christ. The Catholic Church and she alone has the fullness of truth and speaks with the authority of Christ himself. The Catholic Church, and she alone has the fullness of Sacramental life. It is only through acknowledging these truths, and living them fully in our lives that we will be set on fire, and draw others into that same fire of Love.

7. At this point many of us may be thinking that the Church seems kind of full of herself, kind of prideful in saying that She has the fullness of truth, in saying that She is the Church founded by Christ, and that everyone should unite themselves to the Catholic Church. Yes, sometimes it may come across this way, but that is not the Church’s intention. The Church teaches these things out of humility, realizing that She has been given a great gift.

8. My brothers and sisters, we are greatly privileged to be Catholic. We have been given a great gift. We, unlike our protestant brothers and sisters, are able to receive the very body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We are able to visit Jesus day and night in our tabernacles. We are able to know the forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament of Penance. We don’t want our non-catholic brothers and sisters to join us merely out of pride, but out of a desire for them to be able to experience the joy we experience in being Catholic. We want them to be Catholic because it is an awesome privilege to be Catholic, not because it will build up our ego.

9. Today we come before our Eucharistic Lord grateful for the gift of our Catholic faith. So grateful in fact, that we desire everyone to have what we have. In the midst of that gratefulness, however, our hearts are heavy because we realize that not everyone has what we have; that there is division, because, sadly, some choose to divide themselves from the one true flock– the Church. Let us pray for them that they may be set on fire with love for Christ and His Church and will one day join us. Let us also pray for ourselves, that our Love for Christ and His Church may increase. That we will never take for granted the great gift which has been given to us in the Church, the Sacraments, and the teachings of Christ.

Heart of Jesus, burning furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Mary, mother of the Church, pray for us.
St. Rose, ardently zealous for the salvation of souls, pray for us. Amen.

N.B. Since this homily has the potential for rude and uncharitable comments I have decided to close comments for this post. If you have a constructive comment to make please e-mail it to and if appropriate I will post it.