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.

Slow Posting...

Sorry things have been a bit slow around here lately...I haven't even been keeping up with homily postings as of late, but before the end of the day I hope to have a few up.

Friday, August 17, 2007

EWTN To Televise Celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Via Fr. Z at What Does the Prayer Really Say:



EWTN to Televise Live Tridentine Mass Celebrated by the Priestly Fraternity of St. PeterDENTON, Nebraska – AUGUST 17, 2007 –

For the first time in its 26 year history, Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) will be broadcasting a live Solemn High Mass at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama on September 14, 2007 at 8:00AM EST. EWTN has asked for the assistance of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an international Society of Apostolic Life of
Pontifical Right, to help celebrate this "extraordinary" form.

This past July 7th, Pope Benedict XVI affirmed the beauty and importance of the Tridentine Mass by issuing Summorum Pontificum, a papal document encouraging and confirming the right of all Latin Rite priests to use this more ancient use of the Mass starting September 14th. The Tridentine Mass was the normative liturgy experienced by Latin Rite Catholics prior to the
Second Vatican Council.

"Most Catholics have not seen this heavenly celebration in over 40 years," said Father Calvin Goodwin, a professor at the Society’s international English-speaking seminary located in Denton, Nebraska. "We are very excited to help EWTN and to support the Holy Father’s call for a wider presence of this form of the Mass. This is a cause for great joy."

Priests and seminarians from Denton, Nebraska will travel to Alabama and provide the celebrant, deacon, subdeacon, preacher, master of ceremonies and altar servers.

About the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter

Established in 1988 by Pope John Paul II, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter is an international society of Catholic priests entrusted with the preservation and administration of the Catholic Church’s ancient Latin liturgical traditions. Over 120 seminarians are preparing for the priesthood in the Fraternity’s two seminaries in Bavaria, Germany and Denton,

About EWTN

Founded by Mother Angelica, a Poor Clare nun, the Eternal Word Television Network has become the largest religious media network in the world, transmitting programming 24 hours a day to more than 123 million homes in 140 countries and territories on more than 4,800 cable systems, wireless cable, Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS), low power TV and individual satellite

Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary
7880 West Denton
Denton, NE 68339 U.S.A.
(402) 797-7700

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Elvine Virtues

Some of you who know me well...I mean really well...know that I am somewhat of a closet Elvis fan. I have often wondered why it is I like him, but on my one and only visit to Graceland a few years ago I think I figured it out. I like him because the whole Elvis phenomenon is so incredibly weird. There is alot of strange Elvis groups, memorabilia, and even a Church called the . Since it was 30 years ago yesterday that Elvis went to his eternal reward I thought I would offer this clip of Elvis at Mass:

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Reading From The Book of Blah

Mark Shea of Catholic and Enjoying has this to say:
I sometimes wonder how many of us Catholics receive the readings on Sunday like this:

Sadly, I think many do. We should work on that.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

From the Desk of the Pastor...

As many pastors do, I have been writing a little note to be included in the Parish Bulletin. After much thought I have decided to start posting them here. So here is my first online edition:

The daily Mass readings for this past Thursday reminded me of the two documents that I have written about the past two weeks. In the Gospel that day Jesus said “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” This saying of Jesus reminded me of Pope Benedict, who without a doubt, is very wise in bringing from the two thousand year old storeroom of the Church both the new and the old. He has recognized that there is value and beauty in what is old as well as in what is new.

Sadly, there are many in the Church, who do not agree, especially in the area of the Sacred Liturgy. Many get nervous, anxious, or even angry when the Church continues to affirm the beauty of things that are considered by some to be “old” and “outdated.” Surely we should be understanding of their hesitation, for many of them had bad experiences of the Church in the past, but we should also be able to affirm that one who is wise sees value in both the old and new. We should be able to recognize that what was once holy must indeed still be holy. If Latin and Gregorian Chant was once holy, then it must still be holy. If the priest facing the same way as the people (which is often mistakenly referred to as “having his back to the people) was once holy, then it still must be holy. If the Mass that nourished countless saints throughout the ages was once holy, it must still be holy. So there is no need to fear! Wisdom is at work in Pope Benedict, for he is bringing from the storeroom of the Church both the old and new.

I hope, that over time, I will have the wisdom to know how to bring both the old and the new from the storeroom of the Church into our Parish. I also hope that all of us will have the wisdom to see the beauty and value of both the old and new, and welcome them both into our Liturgies.

Homily: 18th Sunday of the Year

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever. Amen.

“You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you!”

1. This night your life will be demanded of you. This very night…if I were the rich man from the gospel these words spoken by our Lord would strike terror in my heart. For at that moment I would know that the Lord’s return is near, at least for me. For in that moment I would hear the hoof beats of His white horse coming in the distance. In my mind and heart I would see Him as He is portrayed in the book of Revelation, His crimson blood dipped cloak flowing in the wind, His fiery eyes flashing flames of thunder, His sharp sword blazing forth from His mouth and His heavenly army behind Him. For those who are not ready, for those who seek the things of the earth, this would truly be a horrific and terrifying sight.

2. But for those of us who seek the things that are above, these words should quicken our hearts, for if we are truly living the life that we are called to, then the day that our life is required of us will be a day of great rejoicing, for on that day we will be born from Holy Mother Church into the glories of eternity.

3. Today, through the scriptures our Lord calls us to reject the ways of the rich man whose focus was solely on the things of this world in order to focus solely on the things of heaven – for that is our goal - and everything we do or have must point us in that direction.

4. St. Paul, in the second reading spells out for us what things of earth we are to avoid if we desire to reach our goal, and these hold true especially for those of us who are baptized Christians. We, my brothers and sisters, have a special responsibility to focus on the things of heaven and lead others, especially our families and children, to do the same. In order to do this effectively we must live what we teach – we must practice what we preach.

5. On the day of my ordination to the diaconate Bishop Carlson handed me the book of the Gospels and said “Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” Practice what you teach! This is a lesson that I have already learned in my short time as a priest. People listen to their priest, and not only that, they watch – they know when I am just shooting off my mouth or when I am speaking something that I know because I live it. And the same is true for those of us who are parents. Your children will know when you are just shooting off your mouth, or when you are truly speaking about something you know to be true because you live it. They can see right through us when we don’t practice what we preach. For instance, if we tell them over and over again how important our faith is, and how important it is to go to Mass and then skip Mass while on vacation or when there is a conflict with a sporting event, they can see right through it. They know we don’t practice what we preach, and if that is the case, they will never take us seriously.

6. A few years ago I entered into a very long conversation with an atheist gentleman who had many, many critiques of the Church. Of all of his complaints and accusations against the Church there is one that always sticks out in my mind – he critiques us because of the fact that many Catholics, even Catholic Priests, have not lived what they taught. He’s not the only one who has pointed this out in recent years - there have been many who remind us of this, and as much as I hate to admit it, it is all too often a justified critique.

7. But it is one that we – you and me - must prove untrue. We can only do this by living what we teach, and whether we know it or not, we are teaching at every moment of every day. You parents know this. You know who easily Children pick up what we say and do. All of us teach those around us constantly, if not by words, certainly by example. But sadly, we all too often lapse into the ways of the world – we lose our focus on the goal. We forget that we are made for heaven.

8. It’s easy to lose our focus – we all know that from experience. When we are surrounded day and night by filthy television, billboards, and immodestly dressed women and men, it is hard to keep our focus on our goal, but we must because if we do not we will never be able to lead our flock to heaven. We must keep our goal always before us and be determined to be the instruments of God that we are called to be. We must work hard at allowing God to form us into the parents, that we are called to be. We will fail, no doubt, but in the face of our weakness we always move forward toward our goal remembering what St. Therese taught us, namely, that “We must have confidence, not in spite of our miseries, but because of them, since it is misery which attracts mercy.”

9. Life is short, and soon the Lord will come for us. Soon we will hear the hoof-beats of his white horse in the distance and if we have made heaven our focus and lived what we teach the veil that separates this world from the next will be pulled back and we will step into the Glorious Kingdom of God.

10. Today, as we gather around this altar to be nourished and strengthened by the flesh and blood of our Savior let us ask God to pour out upon us everything we need to practice what we teach.

Heart of Jesus, hope of all who die in thee, have mercy on us.
Mary, Gate of heaven, pray for us.
St. Rose of Lima, pray for us.