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“Are You Proud of Yourself?” (Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

My latest homiletic effort is published here.  I hope you find it useful.

If you’re Catholic, please consider why you don’t frequent the confessional.

If you aren’t, heck, I’m happy to have a conversation about the Sacrament of Reconciliation if you like; it will be fun.

God bless y’all; have a great week!

Time to Get Back To Business…

For all five of you who pay attention at all to this blog…

I’ve been away on an extended absence; let’s say I was wandering the desert for a while.

But I hope to be back, now.  So you will see more frequent posts here on matters of faith and its connection to the lives we lead everyday.  Sometimes those connections will be tenuous, but I promise there will be one!

Please pray for me (if you’re a person of faith) or wish me luck (if you aren’t).

Scorpions? What scorpions? (Homily for the14th Sunday in OT, 2013)

The audio for this homily is available here; it varies a bit, as usual, from the written text, which is available here.

I know that some folks may have been put off by some of what I said.  But let me be clear:  Just because the Church would propose that someone you love dearly is participating in a lifestyle that the Church considers sinful doesn’t mean that the Church, or anyone in the Church, hates anyone.  Just because I tell you you’re doing something wrong doesn’t mean I don’t love you, and accept you as you are.

Here’s a funny question:  What do contracepting, missing Mass without good reason, and (homo- or hetero-) sexual expression outside of the sacrament of Matrimony, for example, all have in common?  They are all mortal sins (meaning, they are all actions that separate us from God in a way that threatens our immortal souls).  Does that mean that the people who commit any of those sins are base, evil, and hateful people?  No; they might be, but it isn’t just because they sin. And funny enough, none of those sins is any more “mortal” than any other.  Everyone sins. Most people commit the occasional mortal sin.  And when they do, there’s a way to deal with that.

But brothers and sisters, things don’t become “good” just because we can’t imagine that God would think that the thing is bad.  God, for better or worse, isn’t limited by our imagination.  He designed us a certain way; His intent has been frustrated in individual lives by the presence of sin and by our free will; and God is both merciful and just.  Can someone who lives a clearly sinful life get into Heaven?  Who knows for sure about any individual? Nobody can say for sure who is NOT in Heaven (even if we can’t imagine God letting a particular person in!). At the same time, us wishing that someone is in Heaven doesn’t make it so, either.

And the really sad thing is this:  it isn’t about what punishment might or might not come if a person continues to do whatever it is we say is so wrong.  It’s more (much more) that the person committing those acts misses out on the good, the peace, the happiness in this life that comes from walking with God.  We are all looking for God.  When we find Him, when we embrace Him, we are at our happiest.  When we turn away from Him, we are less happy.

I like the image Christopher West often uses when discussing Theology of the Body.  It’s like we are invited to this sumptuous banquet, with great food and choice wines…and because we don’t want to be told what to do, we eat from the dumpster out back instead.  Can we get nourishment from what we get out of the dumpster?  Sure.  But we have to pick through a lot of crappy stuff to find the nourishment, and occasionally, we will get sick.  We might even run across something that will kill us.

So enough of that.

My wife, Ann Marie, pointed out something about my homily yesterday.  As she observed, I do a good job, calling out the demons that afflict us.  But I spend ever so little time actually trying to help uncover strategies to actually do the junk I say I think people ought to do.  So let me rectify that.

What are some ways to help our families becomes saints?  Here’s a short list; not meant to be exhaustive:

  • Pray with your family. Daily.  Even if it’s only an “Our Father”, everyone in the family needs to acknowledge that there is Someone bigger than themselves to whom they owe their lives.
  • Pray with your spouse.  Men, (especially Catholic men!), don’t think that your wife cares how articulate and complex your prayer is.  She cares more that you have it in your heart to lead her spiritually. Pray.  Real Men do it. Ladies, if your husband is reluctant, don’t beat him up.  You lead the prayers for a while.
  • Pray for your spouse.  Especially if one or the other is reluctant to do all this God stuff, enlist the power of the Holy Spirit, and the intercession of the Saints in heaven, to help change your spouse’s heart.  If you’re praying for someone, it’s hard to be angry at them, too!
  • Take your family to Mass.  At least every Sunday.  Not only is it a requirement for Catholics (in line with keeping holy the Sabbath day, and emulating the Apostles and the early Church), but it’s good for you.  See bullet point #1 above.
  • Have at least one meal with the entire family gathered, every day.  It’s hard to do, and with the tempo of life we impose on ourselves, it sometimes isn’t possible.  But if your goal is to eat together every day, you’ll do it most of the time.
  • Turn off the TV.  And the BluRay player.  And the XBox/PS3/Wii/other gaming device.  Take a walk.  Play a board game. Heck, play poker and win back your kids’ allowance money.  But spend some time together unmediated by media that don’t care about you and your family.
  • If you’re married, here’s one final recommendation:  Just give Church’s proposition about the proper order of sexual expression in marriage a try.  Yes, it’s a risk.  But…just suppose for a moment…that the Church is correct.  Just suppose, for a moment, that what we’ve had force-fed to us by the culture since 1965…is completely and utterly false.  Go audit the first part of a Natural Family Planning class.  Or if that’s too much, talk with a friend who practices Natural Family Planning.  But get informed.  And then give it a try.

God bless everybody!  I’m always interested in hearing what you are thinking.  feel free to comment on the blog, on Facebook, or via Twitter.  And thanks for reading!

Homily for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Speak Life!

Readings for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time are posted here.

The homily is accessible here, or at the link near the bottom of the parish website home page.

I have been doing some reading as the summer starts; the main theme of this homily is inspired by one title:  Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter.  If you read the book, you will recognize the connection.

At its heart, though, this homily addresses a need that I believe every church experiences sometime in its life cycle:  the need to basically figure out what’s Most Important for its people, and then to Do That Thing.  I believe that, when a parish figures out what That Thing is, everything starts to come together.  And I believe that Fr. White’s/Tom Corcoran’s book lays out a blueprint for finding That Thing.  For what it’s worth.

Anyway, enjoy; comments are always welcome at the blog, or on Facebook/Twitter, or on the parish website.  God bless!

I love it when they make my point for me…

I love this…:

The attached video is from Powerful stuff, IMHO. So powerful, I had to get somewhere and post about it *right now*.

The reason pro-abortion folks refuse to follow the logic of the beginning of life is exactly this: If you acknowledge that life begins at conception (and when else would a human being come into being…implantation doesn’t add anything to the developing person at all; it just gives him/her the ability to grow (kind of like Mom serving breakfast and dinner to a five-year-old…), this is where you end up.

President Obama articulated the pro-life message more eloquently than most of us ever manage. and you don’t even have to substitute words! Just listen, and assume for a moment that those of us with science on our side are actually correct, and life really *does* begin at conception. But don’t think about it too long; you may find yourself suffering cognitive dissonance.

Black people, you’re particularly at risk. We trot off to the “clinic” to solve the racists’ problem *for* them. They don’t want y’all breeding, producing more inferior humans to be cared for by the State. There isn’t any need for them to do anything; all they have to do is convince you that a) sex is recreation, and b) a baby is a “choice”; you’ll kill the next generation off all by your lonesome.

W A K E   U P, dang it!

I hated statistics when I studied it in college…

…but I’m liking it now. With a h/t to Aggie Catholic, this is pretty cool.

Lies, @$&%ed lies, and statistics. Proof of the axiom, right here.

We have *so* lost our appreciation of this…

I am convinced, the older I get, that the reason so many things that are wrong are being taught as right is that we have lost our appreciation for the Natural Law. Now, don’t get me wrong: I didn’t learn it, either, and I was vapidly following the herd mentality of “If it feels good, do it!” like everyone else. But when compared to first principles of Natural Law, mainly, that good must be done, and evil must be avoided, that advice from the culture doesn’t hold up.

This article, however, from The Catholic Thing, does a great job of explaining those first principles. I thought this line was telling:

If we equate natural law merely with what Aquinas calls the “first principle” of natural law – i.e., good is to be done, evil is to be avoided – the world understandably. . .yawns, and goes on its merry way.

The author goes on to explain:

The three “precepts” of the natural law that follow from this basic principle are what give “teeth” and specificity to the natural law, and rescue it from being the merely vague and abstract idea of “conformity to nature,” which elicits dismissal by critics.

The article explains those three precepts in a way I, a mere mortal, found accessible. The Kantian Categorical Imperative, Jeremy Bentham’ utilitarianism, and other 19th century philosophical frameworks all fail in one way or another to take into account the special nature of Man, and thus fail to acknowledge what John Paul II termed the Personalistic Norm: a person’s a person, no matter how small (ok, that’s Dr. Seuss and Horton Hears a Who, but that’s the gist of it).

I think it’s interesting how our moving away from a strong basis in philosophy in our teaching methods has wounded our ability to think. I hope you find the article helpful!

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