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Get into the ring! How this works...

This is easy! Each week on Thursday I post my homily idea...my main focus for preaching this coming Sunday. What I am hoping for is a reaction from people in the pews. Does my "focus" connect with your daily life, faith, and experience? Or not? Either affirm the direction I am going in (by giving me an example from your life) or challenge me, ask for clarification! Questions are the best! Reaction rather than reflection is what I'm looking for here. Don't be afraid, get in the ring. Ole!



Friday, December 30, 2011

Mother of God Prep 2012

-Christmas Homily didn't get recorded.
-scriptures for MMOG January 1 are at USCCB.org
-I am preaching at 9:30 and 12:30 Mass on Sunday

Salve Regina

This advent I started wondering about personhood and asking if we see the "personhood" of self and each individual. Personhood is the soul, the God-likeness of each one. Failing to see one as a person, like God, is to be blind to the truth and then we can think, feel, speak, and act crazy.

Failure to see personhood makes us inhuman....we wander off or we are dragged off by this blindness into exile. Jesus' birth is the healing of that blindness. Our humanity is the dwelling place of God. Even that humanity that it rough, wild, wilderness.

This feast of MMOG expresses at least twice in the readings that it is all about "looking, seeing, knowing". God looks upon us, His gracious face shines upon us, the virgin looks at her child, the shepherds look and see him, she shows him to them (and the world) and they see and rejoice.

Christmas is the loving gaze of God upon the human race that reveals the godliness of human life.

The Hail, Holy Queen Prayer summarizes these thoughts perfectly. Say this prayer slowly and think about it.

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

How brilliant is our Catholic faith?!?!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas 2011

-last weeks homily is available by email
-scriptures for Christmas masses available at USCCB.org
-I am preaching at 4:00 (up), 10pm and 9:30am Masses

He "tented" among us

I am using the Gospel of John at all the Masses I'm preaching. I am planning to raise the question as to whether or not we have shown up where God has come to dwell -at home in our most human living. God has come to inhabit our lives no matter where we choose to live them. The tent was a shelter that the people of God used in the desert as the wandered. God came and found them in the worst of circumstances. He not only found them but he joined them "in a tent". God is not afraid to get down and inhabit our human lives. Wherever we might be.

But we don't believe God will do it for us. Let's face it, so much of life in the world is lived on a base, material, empty level. Preachers like me can even be heard to say that we walk away from God in choosing such lives. However, God's message to us is that he has come as savior, redeemer, one born into our empty lives...and he comes to find us there, where we've walked away. He is mercy incarnate: Hesed in Hebrew.

Do you think that most people are feeling distant from God because of the complications of their lives? Do you think they would be challenged to see with faith that God has come "there" to get them? God would stoop to my level? ....oh yes He does. God behind enemy lines, stealing captives in exiles and carrying them back home!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Advent 4 Prep -12/18/2011

-Last week's homily is available by email request
-This week's Scriptures are at USCCB.org>
-I am preaching at the 5:30 and 8:00am Masses

A House: our humanity

The entire first reading centers upon the notion of house. It begins with the consideration of the physical shelter of house as in tent or temple and it moves to the consideration of "dynasty" ...house of David. This is an interesting connection to the Christmas mystery we are preparing to celebrate.

John's gospel uses the term "pitched his tent among us" which we translate as "dwelt". Mary is often considered the tabernacle or arc of the covenant, the container or house of Jesus' incarnation. While Jesus is known to us in the Eucharist as "bread of life" he is said to have been born in Bethlehem, which means literally "house of bread". And of course he was "laid in a manger (feeding trough) because there was no room for them at the inn." Jesus in John's Gospel promises that the Holy Spirit will make a dwelling place for the Father and the Son "with you".

Mary conceives of Jesus in her womb as a member of the household of David and she does so as a member of the household of God, the human creatures made in God's likeness.. She stands at that moment with her "fiat" as the gatekeeper on the household of humanity, God's house...human life!

God does not simply "enter the world" for a temporary journey through the pure womb of the Virgin Mary, God re-unites Divinity with humanity once again my and establishes my humanity as His household, a dwelling place secure. Or is it?

I am thinking that, from the beginning we have wandered away from that humanity and from God. We're not very good at sticking close to home(cfr: Adam and Eve). In our "material self-fullment" misunderstanding of what it means to be human, we are far from home. That's where God is -Emmanuel.

How human are you? How human is your family life? How human is your work life? How human is your experience of healthcare, for example? The economy? The church? How inhuman? How ungodly!

To find Jesus this Christmas...maybe we need to get back home....living our human lives. That's where HE is, Emmanuel!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent 3 Prep 12/11/11

-Last week's homily is available by email
-The Scriptures for this week are available at USCCB.org
-I am preaching at 4:00, 9:30am at St. Albert and 12:15 at the cathedral

You have to be Free to have Joy

Our hearts must be free in order to rejoice.  The biblical witness of the prophet Isaiah is that of returning exiles. The effect of the prophecy is liberation. One cannot truly rejoice when he or she is captive. This is true of our Christian hearts and spirituality as well. Joy requires freedom from selfish pursuits.

We must be liberated from self in order to cling to God and God's will.  There is no true happiness outside of God's will.  In our world and culture this is strange proposal indeed. Those who rejoice in the Lord are exiles in the foreign land of our self-satisfying cultures.

To what is your heart enslaved that is stifling your joy? Does your joy make you feel like you are a prisoner in a foreign land? Wadayathink?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent 2 Prep - 12/4/11

-Last weeks homily is available by e-mail
-The Scriptures for this Sunday are available at USCCB.org
-I am preaching at the 9:30 AM and the 12:30 PM mass


Here is your God!

I am most inspired by the line in the first reading from today that tells us that "here is your God". I am a realized eschatologist. What that means is that I am convinced of the real, ALREADY presence of God in our lives; the kingdom of God. Already, but not yet.

I was discussing the word Advent with the eighth-graders this past week it is best defined as "arriving or appearing". Because we see advent as a preparation season, we have a tendency to interpret those words as future tense. What our scriptures and church tell us is that this appearance of Jesus, Emmanuel, is in history, mystery, and in majesty (past, present, and future).

So, are we distracted by the Lord's future coming or past appearing from seeing his mysterious appearance now? It takes faith.

What do you say?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Advent I Prep - November 27

-The homily of last week is available by email
-The Scriptures are available at USCCB.org>
-I am preaching at 5:30 and 8:00 Mass

The Good as Enemy of the Perfect

I know that the saying is usually stated "the perfect should not become the enemy of the good". However, I sense that the scriptures and the new church year in advent are inviting us to see it the opposite way. Yes, indeed it seems that even for us religious people that rather than the the good leading us into communion with the perfect love of God, the good stuff from God can cause us to wander away from Him. .

The first reading wonders "why do you permit us to wander from your ways, O God?". Well, the freedom to wander away is precisely the godlikeness of our human nature. God made us like Himself and that means we are completely free....like Him. Free to love. God's hope was that we would use that freedom to love Him as He loves us. But, noooooooo. We go and fall for every good but lesser thing that falls in our path. Even the religious stuff can be chosen by us and loved in a way that does NOT lead us to God but leads us away...hardened hearts..

The parable of the final judgment reinforces the point that even the good stuff that the master gives us to be "busy about" can draw us into hard heartedness. So...do you see it? Marriage, ministry, children, material possessions, studies, creative work, athletics, beauty, joy in life.....all of it can - if handled poorly - can draw us away from the Kingdom of God and into the dead center of self. That would put us to sleep...not awake.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christ the King Prep - November 20th

-Last week's Homily available by email
-This week's scriptures available at USCCB.org
-I'm preaching at 4:00pm and 11:00am Masses

How did we end up so far from here?

Exile is the condition of one's heart in relationship to God...who is here. I'd like to suggest that we have been dragged off into exile. We refuse to live "here" where God has come to find us. We are carried off by our sad strategies for happiness, our childish ploys for success and approval. We end up living life far away from where God is.

The church is the embassy/presence of the Kingdom of Christ. Can we recognize our homeland present in the ambassador's compound? Can we scurry to get on the turf where we are safely home...even though we may be far away from home?

Wow, my metaphor is getting too complex. To what extent are you regularly "away from home"? What choice of your life has "carried you off"? How can you get back to "here"?

Friday, November 11, 2011

November 13 Homily Prep

-The homily from 11/6 is available by email
-The Scriptures for 11/13 are available at USCCB.org >
-I am preaching at the 9:30am and 12:30pm Masses on Sunday

Living the Light?!

The Word this week and the feast of St. Albert (that we celebrate this weekend) invite me to consider all the "increase" that we at St. Albert have produced with God's gift of salvation - Light. The story of the talents and the warnings of the coming "day of the Lord" go together to challenge me.

The "talent" or "resource" that the Master has entrusted to me is "salvation" in the Kingdom. The story plays out with a couple of challenging questions.
1. Have I multiplied the gift that I have received?
2. Is there more of God's Kingdom present because of what I have done with God's gift?
3. If not, isn't it possible that I never really received it?
4. Am I not worse off than before the original offer?

My conclusion (which I would like you to test in your life), is that many of us are believers in the Kingdom "in general"., in our hearts, in a way that is "personal". We believe we have received the knowledge and love of God - in general. But we are not "productive" of the Kingdom in particular, in the world, in the concrete lives that we live (in prayer, morality, loving, marriage, ministry) where the Lord wants to see the growth.

The gift was not given for our personal satisfaction, it was given for God's glory. But we are not productive.

Isn't it fair then to see and to say that I have not truly received the gift that I like to claim I have? Maybe we really DON'T believe in God as we claim on surveys. Isn't it possible to religiously claim to be a "child of the light" while at the same time refuse to surrender certain aspects of my life to the Kingdom and thus dwell in darkness?

If it is a fact that I am not being productive for the Kingdom in concrete and real, observable ways then maybe I have not really recieved the gift of salvation/kingdom at all. "take away from Him the little he has"! Ouch.

Being saved is way more than a satisfying feeling in your heart, right? As long as one has life and breath it's never too late to start being productive. It's about on-going, never-ending conversion, right?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nov. 6 Homily Prep

-Last week's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures are at USCCB.org>
-I am preaching at 5:30 and 8:00am Masses

Wait for the Lord!

We often speak at this time of the liturgical year about our waiting for the Lord. I am thinking that the Scripture texts this week invite us to not only wait but to check the quality of the waiting. What I mean is that I think many Catholics are legitimately "waiting" for the Lord, but not desiring His life. Many have made an act of faith and sincerely believe in Jesus' resurrection and they are waiting for the Lord's return. But they are not desiring His Kingdom, his Life. What's the difference?

I believe the relationship that we have with God is deeply affected by what we desire and it is revealed by the quality of our waiting. If one believes in the love, mercy, and compassion of the Lord....one's waiting for Him will have a certain characteristic. In contrast, if one believes in the judgment and retribution of the Lord....that's a different demeanor in waiting. If one truly longs for and desires communion with God, one waits differently, believes differently, lives differently!

How are you waiting for the Lord? There are different types of waiting:
We can be waiting for a report from the medical test? That is dread, not desire.  
We can be waiting for a surgery to be completed.  That is anxiety, not desire.  
We can be waiting for the dentist to stop drilling on our tooth. That is endurance, not desire.
We can be waiting for the line to move at the grocery store.  That is impatience, not desire.
We can be wishing that our son or daughter would call or visit.  That is loneliness, not desire
We can be keeping vigil at the hospice waiting for our loved one to die.  That is agony not desire.

What is the quality of our faith? Does it have something to do with what we are waiting for? Do we truly desire the one we claim to be waiting for?

Dread
Anxiety
Endurance
Impatience
Agony
Loneliness

You?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 30, 2011 - 31st Sunday of the Year

-Homily's available by email at frete@saint-allbert.org
-scriptures for this Sunday at USCCB.org >
-I will be preaching at 4:00 Mass and 11:00 Mass.

Religious blindness to personhood is the worst

I am thinking that religious blindness (read: pharisaicalism) is the most damaging of all such blindnesses that plague our culture with disrespect. We usually are blinded to the Personhood and thus dignity of others because of their disturbing disguise. Others take things on themselves that we find offensive, disturbing and that distract or blind us to their dignity as persons. This has been my theme throughout Respect Life month.

The Pharisees however come up with a dangerous twist to this operation. They discover or design a difficult profile of religiosity that they can abide by. They are "able" religiously. They then impose this standard or profile or costume or disguise upon others. These others don't wear the disguise very well and then the pharisee disregards or disrespects the other because they are not living up to HIS standard. It's frightening and fierce. And it works very well.

I say it works well because it makes the broken, frail and imperfect Pharisee feel good about him/herself. The costume of perfect religious observance hides, consoles, and blinds the "unloved and unlovable Pharisee" even from her/himself. Self-hatred, the beginning of all disrespect for persons and life, is the devil's gift to the human family created in the Divine Image. Self-hatred is the blindness underlying all others that drives us to all manner of hateful thinking, speaking, acting, and choosing.

I propose that this pharisee's blindness to persons is worse than all the others because It is a misuse of God's gift of religion. It is using the most powerful force for Good in the world and twisting it into evil. This pharisaical blindness is a favorite weapon of the enemies of God. When the enemies of God see pharisaicalism they use it not only to hate but to get religion and God out of our social and political life. It is a very effective and powerful weapon in the culture wars between Good and evil of every age. Notice, for example, that whenever an insane or criminal person appears on the scene who has religious motives or associations, true religion becomes the "evil" that must be irradiated from society. Clever devil!

Being religiously motivated people ourselves, we have to beware of the temptation of the pharisee - fascination with our version of religious righteousness that allows us to judge others and blinds us to their value as dignified human persons. That is amazingly easy to do when you are living "right". It is, however, always wrong.

Is this temptation real in your life? Let me know if I'm just being pharisaical! :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sunday, October 23 - homily Prep

-Last week's homily is available by email: frete@saint-Albert.org
-This Sunday's scriptures are available at USCCB.org >
-I am presiding at 12:30 Mass on Sunday

Jesus On Loving Neighborliness

In our multi-cultural world we are often pushed to the "one God" political correctness. We try to make all the religions of the world to be fundamentally about the same thing..."there's only one God, afterall". As Christians we can be challenged to wonder "what was or is the impact of Jesus?"

Today's gospel is an experience of this wondering and an answer to it. Jesus gives us the greatest commandment for religious followers and he seems to be just quoting the Hebrew Scriptures....love God(Deut 6) and your neighbor as yourself(Lev 19). So, nothing new with Jesus?! Right? ,Wrong.

Rule #1: Jesus is not a prophet teaching about God's commands to love, he IS the God who commands AND loves. In fact Jesus re-defines and models what it means to "love" - give self away unto death. That is news and it is new.

Rule #2: Hidden in Jesus' use of the word "neighbor" is another revolutionary bit of news: your neighbor is "everyone" near you (not just your kinsman or fellow Israelite of Leviticus law that he cites). It gets bigger and better becuase as we come to discover, our neighbor (one who is near you) in distress is not cursed, to be feared, or ignored but IS Jesus Himself (Mt 25.... "the least of these are ME"). Now, with this piece of startling news, re-read Rule #1.

Jesus is not your grandmother's Rabbi. He is not only teacher but TEACHING, not just revealing but REVELATION! This is NEW, in fact it is NEWS, in fact it is GOOD NEWS and that's why we call it the life changing Gospel. Does Jesus make enough difference in your religious life?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homily Prep for October 16th

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email request at frete@saint-albert.org
-this Sunday's scriptures are at USCCB.org>
-I am preaching at Saturday 5:30, 8:00 and 11:00am Sunday

Status

Jesus Christ knows how to treat other people...like persons. Jesus sees every person not according to their status but as they are: as persons in the image of the divine person, His Abba. Even we believing Christians have a hard time seeing people for what they are: persons.

This is respect life month. We can expel a fetus from the womb (read: kill) because we don't see it as a person - but an unwanted pregnancy. We can ask our kids to suffocate us when we get "Alzheimer's" because we don't see Alzheimer's victims as persons - but as a burden. We can tell our spouses that we want to be cremated or don't want any funeral services because we don't want people standing around looking at us when we're dead because we see ourselves not as beloved person, but disgusting dead bodies.

We have a problem in how we treat people - even ourselves because unlike Jesus we forget or try to ignore that we are persons in the image of God. We need to stop that if we can hope to stop abortion.

Do you show any symptoms of this trend to not see personhood in those around you? In you?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 9 Homily Prep

-The homily from October 2 is available by email request
-The readings from October 9 are at USCCB.org >
-I am preaching at the 4:00pm at SAG and the 11:30 at St John Bosco

"It's Do-able"

St. Paul to the Philippians says "I can do all things in Christ...". I am reminded of the first anniversary of my father's death. My mom and sister and I went to St. Rita (where he was buried) and I had the Mass being offered for him. After Mass we went to the cemetery and stood at the grave, praying. I said, "well, Ma, how are you feeling?" She responded in the way only my mother could.."well, a lot better than I was a year ago."

Her admission that she was healing was a sign to me that while undesireable, widowhood and orphan-hood is do-able. Life still has meaning even when you think your purpose for living is taken away. This life in Christ is do-able. In fact, that experience of losing my dad at a "young" age was the first real suffering I had to endure, my first test of faith. On that first anniversary day, I realized with my mom, that with faith - it's do-able.

Too many of us live in the fear of life's difficulties and challenges believing that we couldn't "do it". How many things do you believe you could not survive? St. Paul encourages us to give up those small-souled thoughts and fears. Be strong, believe that in Christ we can "do it" - whatever it is. As long as we are in Christ, we are choosing with Christ, we are living and loving in Christ - then we can do"all things in him who strengthens me."

So, whose afraid of the big bad wolf? Not me. I might not be happy about it, I might prefer a hundred other things, I might even whine, kick, scream and cry over it - but I can "do it" if I remain in Him.

How about you?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

anx·i·ety \aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē\ - is it fear?

anx·i·ety \aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē\
noun
1 a : painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill
b : fearful concern or interest
c : a cause of anxiety
2 : an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it

Monday, October 3, 2011

Trouble Posting

A couple of people had a hard time posting a comment last week. Others did not. Anybody notice what the problem might be? Let me know. BTW, I have removed the word verification feature for leaving a comment so maybe that will help. Matador!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The 27th Sunday of the Year - October 2

-Last week's homily is available by request at .. frete@saint-albert.org
-The Scriptures for this Sunday are at USCCB.org >
-I am preaching at the 9:30 and 11:00am Masses

Are you INTO Jesus?

In the 80's maybe there was an expression among the really hip people that went something like this..."I am really into....blank."  Whatever the blank is was the thing that someone was really enthusiastic about, really interested in, or really preoccupied with.  What are you INTO?

Girls really used to be "INTO" their boyfriend.  Guys were really "INTO" drag racing.  Young professionals were INTO herb tea, vegetarianism, or jogging.  Being "INTO" something denotes more than simple interest or a casual hobby.  So, while the word "into" would be a preposition indicating location or action - the use of "into" in this way was meant to indicate "devotion or dedication" of a more serious kind.

St. Paul calls us to get "INTO" Christ Jesus.  Not in a casual or human interest way, but "INTO" Him.  His call indicates an intensity and a participation IN Christ Jesus to the extent that it is not accidental but substantial commitment, involvement, purpose.

Anxiety, or fear, is the enemy of "INTO".  For people of faith, fear is the killer of relationship with God.  I know that our first answer ew might give to the question "what kills your relationship with God?" is sin.  And that is true.  But fear is the innocent opposition to God.

Do you see fear/anxiety/worry as separating you from the love of God?  Tell me about that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 25 Homily Prep

-Last week's homily didn't make it into recording
-This week's scriptures are at USCCB.org
-I am preaching at the 4:00pm on Saturday and the 11am on Sunday
 
video


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 18th Homily Preview

-last week's homily available below on video
-the Sunday scriptures are at USCCB.org>
-I am preaching at 5:30pm and 9:30am Masses

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 11th Homily Preparation

-Last Sunday's Sept 4th homily is on Video below
-Sunday's Scriptures are at usccb.org>
-I am preaching at the Sunday 11am and 12:30pm Masses



Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 4th Homily Preparation Video

-The homily video from August 28th (kind of ) is below
-The scriptures are at usccb.org >
-I am presiding at the 5:30pm Saturday and the 8:00am Sunday Masses




Thursday, August 25, 2011

Preparing for August 28th Homily

-Last week's homily is below in the video format
-The scriptures are at usccb.org>
-I am preaching at the 4:00pm on Saturday and the 9:30am on Sunday

Here's the seeds of thought for your consideration:

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 21, 2011 - 21st Sunday of the Year

-The audio of last week's homily is availabel by emailing me frete@saint-albert.org
-The scriptures for this Sunday are at usccb.org >
-I am preaching at the 11:00am Mass only

Hope the video thing works!

Friday, August 12, 2011

August 14, 2011

-last week's audio homily will be emailed to the "list". Get on it if you like
-scriptures for this Sunday are at USCCB.org >
-I am preaching at the 5:30 Sat Mass and the 11am and 12:30pm Masses on Sunday

What Faith!

The caananite woman is a great instrument for revealing (even to Jesus' closest associates: read "us") what the Lord is looking for regarding faith. I see five features of her encounter with Jesus that tell me something about "great faith"!
-she sees as reality is rather than as she is: "Son of David"
-she is courageous about what she sees: "cried out"
-she is tenacious about what she believes:(in the face of negative response)
-she is beautifully humble: (help me!)
-she gets "into" Jesus' way of thinking: (engages in the Kingdom..."even the dogs...")

I could work on all of those, eh? How about you?

Friday, August 5, 2011

August 7, 2011 - 19th Sunday of the Year

-I can email you an audio of last Sunday's homily
-this week's scriptures are at USCCB.org->
-We have a missionary preacher this Sunday at all Masses

Transfigured!

On Saturday we celebrate the Transfiguration. It is the summer call to allow ourselves to be changed into the brilliance of Jesus' life and light. What does that feel like? Something between liberation and birth pangs. Hmmm. Ugh. We have to die of something.

..."Stay with me and then I will begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from you; none of it will be mine. It will be you, shining on others through me.   Let me thus praise you in the way which you love best, by shining on those around me." (Card. Newmann)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

18th Sunday of the Year - July 31, 2011

-my homily from 7/24 is available by sending me an email at: frete@saint-albert.org
-the scriptures for this Sunday are available at USCCB.org
-I am preaching at the 8:00am and 9:30am masses this weekend

Can't get away from it!

St. Paul's wondering "what can separate us....?" is answered...nothing! He reminds us that truly we cannot get away from the love of God in Christ Jesus. How reassuring.

This seems so far from much of contemporary Catholic rhetoric...that I hear so often from so many: everyone is going to hell (separation from the love of God). It seems so easy to "go to hell" as if it is part of God's plan to have us get away from him.

Jesus' revelation and accomplishment is that nothing can separate us..nothing of course but our choice to reject Him. Like the abundance of the bread (12 baskets left over), Jesus seems to say to us that "he is the very 'stuff' of life" - that you just cannot get away from.

Do you feel that overwhelming presence, abundance, unavoidability of the kingdom? Why not? What has you distrusting of it's availability?

Friday, July 22, 2011

17th Sunday - July 24, 2011

-if you are interested in The audio of last week's homily please send me your email and I will put you on the distribution list.
-the readings for the coming Sunday are at USCCB.org->
-I am preaching at the 5:30pm and the 11am Masses

Change your mind, change reality!

St. Paul's iconic statement about "For those who love God" is at the core of this week's scripture and my religious life. It reminds us that nothing can separate us from our destiny of eternal life if we in fact love God. To set our hearts on living with and loving God is the transformation of not only our inner life but "in effect" reality.

The love of God (an inner project) has the power to change what we call reality(the real world - outside project). The parables of this Sunday remind us of what that love of God feels like and how it operates within us. We call it "metanoia" - a change of mind. I know we think of love as a matter of the heart but it works through our minds.

To change our minds inwardly is to recast the priority of our daily operation outwardly. To "fall in love" with something is an operation of the heart but it works its way into reality..."s/he changed my world", one might say. Like a massive freeway "interchange" alters the route and direction we are traveling, so this "inner-change" makes all the difference, alters everything (inside and out).

In fact to change the priority of one's mind through conversion to the kingdom of God is to change the way life in the world is perceived. Therefore, suddenly "all things work now together for the good of those who love God"! Wow! That is changing all the stuff of outward reality. Just by an inner-change of the mind for the love of God.

Great system. Great God. Let's work the system for the love of God and change the world (one mind at a time)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

16th Sunday - July 17, 2011

-no more homilies to listen to. Email me at frete@saint-albert.org if you want one mailed
-readings for this Sunday are at USCCB.org
-I am presiding at 4:00pm and 12:30pm Mass

Hang in there!

The gesture of para-bole (parable) is what I hear in the Word this week and I see in the church. The church is sacrament of the kingdom and it's gesture is para-bole "alongside of". What I mean is that if we are the sign of the kingdom we show that nature by our relating...being next to each other/para-bole.

This "being cast together" is not only the key to our being the sacrament and sign of the kingdom, it is the hardest thing in the world. Like the weeds and the wheat our goodness and evil has to dwell together while we await the kingdom just as we are expressing the kingdom.

Aren't you discouraged at the level of dysfunction in the church? Can't we get rid of the problem people? No, cause they are part of our story, para-bole. In fact, we are alternately their weeds...ouch.

Wadayathink?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Set the Word of God Free!

-There are no audio homilies anymore. If you would like me to email you a .wma version of the homily from June 27th, simply email me at
-Readings for this coming Sunday are at usccb.org ->
-I am preaching at 5:30pm, 8:00 and 9:30am Masses

Be effective!

I am thinking that the prophecy from Isaiah 55 tells us something about our call to be not only honest, true, loving - but effective. God's Word has "mission" and "Purpose". The Word is put forth or brought out in order to accomplish something.

The experts tell us that this Isaiah passage concludes what is called "Second Isaiah" and it carries the theme of the Exodus. The Exodus event is a "coming out" of bondage event. In the Exodus event Israel was set free from bondage (like shackles), discovered their identity, and understood their mission.

The Word can be held captive within us, within the Church, within the world if its purpose is not accomplished. The purpose of the Word is to be effective - God said...it was. God's Word effects reality.

What is God's Word for you, the church, and the world today? Is it in bondage or is it brought out into effective freedom? What is keeping the Word of God bound?

I think our lack of faith is the answer. Just a guess... What do you think?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Matador is taking a "siesta" far away in the sunshine. Hasta la semana que viene!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Trinity Sunday Homily

Double click on title above and be patient

Body and Blood of Christ

-Last week's homily is not available yet
-Scriptures for this week are at the usual spot ->
-I am presiding at 4:00pm on Saturday and 11am on Sunday

Fed or Feeding

Is your sharing in the Eucharist more of your being fed OR is your participation in the Eucharist an act of feeding? I think there's a big difference. Do you?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Trinity Sunday - June 19, 2011

-the homily from last weekend was not recorded. I am looking for a host site for my recorded homilies. In the meantime, the recordings can be heard (after a long download) by double clicking on the title of the talk (not the library as before).
-the scriptures for Trinity Sunday are at USCCB.org->
-I am presiding at the 11:00am Mass on Sunday

Template!

Paul's second letter to the Corinthians very clearly describes what the church relationships "ought" to be: "Brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another,agree with one another, live in peace,". Tall order, yes?

However, St. Paul is not inventing this arrangement, imagining this set up, creating some new utopia out of nothing. No, he is encouraging the Church to be that which it was created to be: imago Dei (image of God)

On Trinity Sunday we usually talk about the inner life of God: a communion of life, love, and truth. But today maybe we should be seeing that inner life as a template for our inner life as the church. We were created in the image and likeness of God. We are to be as God is...we ought to see, in the patterns of our relating, the template of God's inner life (love, life, and truth).

Do you expect Christians to love one another, rejoice in each other, mending our ways, dwelling in peace because we are morally superior to others? I think we ought to witness such communion because it is who we are - Imago Dei

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ascension Homily - June 5, 2011

This "farewell" homily for Fr. Bona and Fr. Stock is now available for audio listening. Double click on the title "Ascension Homily"

Third Thursday Theology Lecture -June 16

This recording is about 1 hour long and its topic is Chaps 7, 8, and 9 of the US Cathechism for Adults. Double clcik on the title "Third Thursday Theology"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Come, Holy Spirit!

-Still no solution to homily tapes. My host site (archive.org) is not functioning so I need a new solution to posting audio files
-the scriptures for Pentecost are at USCCB.org->
-I am preaching at the 8am and the 12:30pm on Sunday

The Spirit is only Communication

I was always fond of saying that "pneumatology (understanding of the Spirit) was ecclesiology (understanding of the Church).". That is something to ponder if one hasn't before. However, I am growing in my understanding of the Church and, thus, I must reconsider my opinion about the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit, which we celebrate today, is more than ecclesiology. It is clearly the life-force, or as St. Augustine says, "the soul of the Body of Christ" - the Church. But that's the point...the body of Christ is more than the Church. The Church and the Body of Christ are the effect of the Spirit, they are One Communion.

We only know of the Holy Spirit because of divine Communion. The Spirit is the communion of the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is the relationship between the Father and the Son. Holy Spirit is the Divine Communication. In creation, in redemption, in salvation, in incarnation, in church building, in preaching, in sacraments, Holy Spirit is what's happening - divine sharing of Self, Communication.

If we could think about communication as something beyond the modern concept of "idea sending" and see it as "self-sacrificing communion" I think we'd be closer to God and God's Kingdom.

Any examples out there of a great communication in life? Holy Spirit!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dorothy of Oz

-Techno problems has 5/29 homily lost in space
-Scriptures for Ascension are at usccb.org
-I am preaching at 4:00pm and 12:30pm

Coming and Going!

In the classic movie the Wizard of Oz, one finds many repeatable statements that might be considered "classics" themselves. This is so true, in my opinion, that I have dubbed the protagonist as "Dorothy the Great of Kansas".

The line of Dorothy's that strikes at the heart of this week's Ascension Mystery is " My, people certainly come and go quickly around here!". Yes, indeed, "coming and going" is a phrase that describes a kind of dynamic interchange. You might see this most vividly If you ever "people watch" at an airport. What you see is the unending chain of farewell and hello, in fact that is the whole point of an airport...coming and going.

The Acts of the Apostles today locates the life of the nascent church in the context of this coming and going. It says that "This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” Going and coming - an intersection in reality - a rendezvous in communion.

Coming and going might be understood theologically as the Paschal Mystery, which we describe as dying and rising. It seems that this mode of interchange is fundamental to the life of God, the communion of the church, and the discipleship we embrace. Check this out.

God comes to us in creation and goes away from us in banishment from the garden. God comes to us in the Exodus and goes away in the wandering of the desert. God comes to us in the Law at Sinai and goes away in idol worship. God comes to us in the promised land and goes away in the exile. God Gomes to us in the Annunciation and goes away in the Passion. God comes to us in the Resurrection and goes away in the Ascension, God comes to us in Pentecost and goes away into the persecuted life of the Church. God comes to us in the Sacraments/Eucharist and goes away through the death to self.

Call me crazy but I see a pattern here. The arrival, the "hello" of God and grace in our lives is purely prelude and preparation for a departure, a loss, an exit, a farewell. Likewise, the perceived farewells in life with God are likewise prelude and preparation for hello, arrival, an entrance, a new and deeper communion in the life of heaven.

At 12:30 Mass we will celebrate this dynamic. The farewell of our two priests. The priesthood is one of these dynamic interchanges by which God comes to us so richly, in the unique presence of "another Christ". All the while (but especially in their departure from us) the priesthood is also an "usher" or an attendant for the household of heaven, leading us in the "farewell" that is this life and entering us into the life with Christ.

How has God come into your life? Beware...it is the first step in the divine dance which is looking for an exit. How has God gone away in your life? Don't despair, you are invited to take the step, enter, welcome!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May 29 Homily

Trouble in cyberspace

I cannot get my homilies uploaded to the archive.org. we'll work on it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 29 -Easter VI

-The homily from last Sunday is in the library->
-The scriptures for this week are at USCCB.org->
-I am preaching at 9:30am only

Power for What!

The Spirit, called the Paraclete, is in name and in fact a power for the sake of something. The Holy Spirit, from the beginning and always, is given or present for the sake that something else might take place. From creation, at the annunciation, at Pentecost....given so that something else would happen.

What are you suppose to be doing under the power of the Spirit that's been given to you?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 22, 2011 - Easter 5

-still working on last week's homily upload
-scriptures for this week are at USCCB.org
-I am preaching at the 8am Mass

Key word - "structure"

I am thinking that this week's homily is page two of last week's. Last week I said that Jesus is the encounter space, the opening into which we are called to dwell. Jesus is the place where we will intersect with the life of heaven, communion. To be alive in God is to live in Christ.

We as Catholics do nothing as individuals and so this week's encouragement is to dwell in Christ with others to form the full stature who is Jesus Christ. Our faith, our salvation is experienced fully in our communion with God, THROUGH Christ, in the Church.

To be a stone "in the structure" and to be "living" stone through our life in Christ. We are just a part. None of us is whole apart from Christ in the Church.

This theme is old and over used for me, but it is continuously "given" to me to reflect upon. How do I experience the Kingdom of God? Only through the opening which is Jesus Christ and the communion that is His body, the Church. Anything less is "dead".

Friday, May 13, 2011

May 15th - Good Shepherd Sunday

-last week's homily is not easily found by some. Here is the link http://www.archive.org/details/May82011-Easter3
-the Scriptures for Sunday are at USCCB.org->
-I am preaching at 4:00, 8:00, and 9:30 Masses

The Gate

On a Sunday which is typically celebrated as "priesthood Sunday" or World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the image of Jesus as the gate captured my attention. The most revolutionary thought I might have is that Jesus is NOT gate or door as we imagine these barriers. Even the Pearly Gate is imagined as a barrier.

Jesus is gate or door in the sense of "way" - thus "gateway" or "doorway". This is in contrast to the Pharisees who, in just the previous scene, have "barred" the man born blind from the synagogue. Rather than gateway or shepherd, the Pharisee is barrier and bouncer.

So, as was the sheep guarding practice of ancient palestine, Jesus lies in the gateway, making himself the principal path, the way, the conduit, the viaduct between sheepfold and green pastures of life (read: ourselves and the life-giving springs of communion).

Jesus Christ as sheep gate, priest, and lamb of sacrifice has placed himself between (mediatrix) God and humanity, reconciling us to the Father IN Himself. Priesthood is mediation! His priesthood lasts forever and he shares that priestly mission with the baptized, but in a special way with our consecrated priests. It is a noble goal and a humbling privilege to lay down one's life in the church as the gateway of grace, salvation, and reconciliation so that others (Jesus and souls) might traverse upon us - ecclesial doormats. The priesthood is encounter place, the way, the rendezvous for Jesus and souls. Thank God for priests.

It is of course a sad and serious temptation to assume that priestly position as pathway and usher of grace and then turn it into a barrier or become a bouncer in an material human reality called church! Ouch, Pharisee. Have mercy on us.

So, passing through the gate of grace and reconciliation is not a one-time event...it is a perpetual care plan. Priesthood( of Jesus and in the ordained office) is the role and function of mediation. For our souls must constantly and continuously enter into unity with Jesus as a way of walking through the gate. Be united with Christ and in Him pass through to communion in eternal life! There is no other way!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May 8, 2011 - Third Sunday of Easter

-Homily from May 1 is in the library->
-Sunday scriptures are at USCCB.org->
-I am preaching at 5:30 on Saturday and 11:00 and 12:30 Mass on Sunday

Stay with us....

The concept of "remaining" is a fundamental reality at the root of our Catholicism. It speaks to the sacramental relationship that Christ has established in and through his Church. It is not intellectual, but relational.

Most of us Catholics are preoccupied with the "whatness" of the Blessed Sacrament rather than the relationship to the Person of Jesus. Do we think of God's Word and Sacrament as an offer of intimacy or rather some divine fact or data that is to be simply understood and affirmed with the mind?

Pope JPII and Benedict XVI favor one over the other and they cry out with the church...stay with us!

Friday, April 29, 2011

May 1, 2011 - Mercy Sunday

-The Easter homily is in the library ->
-The Scriptures for May 1st are at USCCB.org
-I will be preaching at 4:00 Mass on Saturday and 12:30 on Sunday

Who's Doing What?

"....the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." The newborn Church of Acts of the Apostles seems to be the Body of Jesus Christ, doing what Jesus does, saving others. The church is not a highly efficient or necessarily effective organization with a mission. The Church is the incarnate Body of Christ reaching out, often clumsily, for souls. Jesus said, "when I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself."

Church, let's wake up to the role we are to play, in the person of Jesus, to reconcile all people into Communion with God who loves us. It is Jesus acting. We are the access point, the instrument, by which God is reconciling the world through Jesus Christ...adding to their number. We call it Mercy.

Can we let Him do what He does? That's the challenge.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday Preaching

The homily from Easter Sunday, April 24th, is in the library. Blessed Easter to all!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Sunday -April 24

-Homily for Palm Sunday is in the library
-Easter readings are at USCCB.org->
-I am preaching at the 11am Mass in church.

What time is it?

Time Keepers

Every major sporting event has a time keeper. What inning, quarter, period is it? How much time is on the clock? The question of time is pertinent this Easter!

Our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus can be understood and experienced in one of two ways....as hard time or God's time. Too many of us have heard the Good News of Easter Joy "he is risen" and we have believed that resurrected life is simply something for Jesus, somthing that happens only in heaven, something out there, something future, - promised land at last.  In the meantime, however, we have to do the "hard time" of life without heaven, imprisoned, locked up, without eternity, without light, joy, peace, and love.  That would not be faith in the Risen Lord at all. That's hard time even for religious people who claim to believe and live free.
 
The other choice, the recommended choice today, the choice that we can make as people of Faith is to know and believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and to live it by faith now and unto eternity.  Jesus has not simply risen unto heaven but by his death and resurrection "heaven has been born in our hearts."  By faith and baptism we can step into God's time, God's eternity, God's mercy and peace, God's love and life - here, now!

What time are you keeping?

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 17, 2011 - Palm Sunday "Homilette"

The brief introductry remarks to Holy Week from this Sunday are in the library

Bible Study April 14th in the Library

The lecture for our LRSS Bible Study April 14th in the Library. It is 57 minutes long and includes a practice of Lectio Divina.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Palm Sunday-April 17

-Last week's homily I in the library(as well as scripture study lecture from 4/14)
-scriptures for Sunday are at USCCB.org
-I will be preaching at 11:00am Mass

Lay down Your Cloak

One of my favorite scriptures in all of the bible is from chapter 3 of the Letter to the Colossians(former translation): "Because you are God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy...."

A friend reminded me that this Holy Week, the passion will invite us to throw our cloaks and palms before the Lord. One of the fathers of the church encouraged us to see our lives, our virtues, our selves down in sacrifice and support of Jesus.

In fact, what aspect of your life and mine does Jesus require that we lay down? This Holy Week would be the time to lay down that article of clothing, that garment, as we approach the Lord's Passion.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

Oops! Guess I mis-spoke

The April 3/Lent IV Homily was NOT in the Library. It is NOW!

Apil 7 Bible Study Lecture

The 45 minute lecture concerning the April 7th Little Rock Scripture Study is in the library. It is entitled "April 7 Bible Study 5 - MtAndMk Resurr"

April 10th - Lent V

-The homily from April 3 is in the library->
-the scriptures for Lent V are at USCCB.org->
-I am preaching at the 8:00am and 9:30am Masses on Sunday 4/10

Now!

In the years that I served as an emcee for the bishop I was always training young servers for big liturgies. Somewhere in that instruction I would say "today we are going to use the first definition of the word 'now'. When I say "now" to you about some task I mean now, immediately, right away, this moment.".

The instruction generally would make them smile but it alerted them to the mode of operating for the task at hand. Jesus' conversation with Martha outside the tomb of her very dead brother is missing the word "now" but the definition of "now" is implied and essential to the mystery of who Jesus is and what faith is all about.

Martha says " Yes, Lord, I know he will rise...in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus then gives her the "now" instructions..."I AM the resurrection". NOW!

There's obviously at least two ways to believe in the resurrection: for then or NOW. I am thinking that this is the heart of St. Paul's instruction to the Romans...living in the flesh or in the Spirit. There must be disciples of Jesus living in the flesh (delayed resurrection) and those living in the Spirit (NOW).

In theology class we refer to some of this as "already but not yet" meaning that, while something is real for us, it is not yet complete. I think I and too many disciples of Jesus are straddling the time divide: thinking that we are living His life already with and in the Spirit, but really we are walking dead men in the "not yet" attitudes of the flesh.

What is a not yet attitude of the flesh? Yep, fear, sadness, and anger(see "Martha"). How many disciples spend how much energy and religious capital justifying sadness, fear, and anger. When we do that, we are if you will, dead in the water (baptismal water, that is). We really don't believe in the Jesus who is resurrection and life NOW. Or do we?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31, 2011 Bible Study 4 - John's Passion

The 45 minute lecture from St Albert Lenten Bible Study on 3/31 is in the library->

Lent IV - April 3, 2011

-The homily from 3/27 is in the library->
-The scriptures for this Sunday are at USCCB.org
-I am preaching at 5:30 Mass on Saturday and 12:30 Mass on Sunday

Bias!

That's not a nice word. It certainly isn't meant as a compliment. It is used in it's most benign way in reference to research or scientific methodology. Frequently, the best researchers are desperate to identify their biases in regards to the subject to be studied. The doggoned thing about bias is that you don't readily see them.

If one wants to be free of bias, which is nearly impossible, one must be constantly vigilant and interested in seeing them. The reason it's hard to see your own bias is because bias is part of the way you see. So, can you see the way you see? Rarely does one have the courage to see one's bias. And often the best we can do is to admit our bias and try to compensate for it. You really are never free from your bias.

The scriptures this week and the art of believing is imaged as seeing. Grace, in fact, may be define as to "see as God sees." Most of us suffer from our biases regarding religion. Jesus is presented in Johns gospel as the Truth... that must be seen. The religiously trained and engaged people in today's story of the blind man were especially blinded to Jesus' Truth and Jesus as the Truth. Their bias was messianic expectation. They were so certain about what and who and how the messiah would be that they couldn't acknowledge or see the Real Thing as He came. Bias!

I think too many Catholics have a broken/deadly bias regarding God and eternal life. It is sad because it blinds them to the Real God they think they see. How might that bias be affecting you? Fear? Self-doubt? Anger or resentment? Many things are blinding us to seeing as God sees or even seeing God as He desires to be seen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sunday, March 27th, Lent III

-The homily from March 20/Lent II is in the Library ->
-The Scriptures for Lent III are at USCCB.org ->
-I am preaching at the 4:00pm Saturday Mass and the 11:00am Sunday Mass

"We are not in Kansas anymore!"

This week's scriptures and the scrutiny we celebrate with the Elect for Baptism remind us that being saved is a new "place" out of which we live. The grace of salvation is a new orientation for our lives and a new arena or operation that IS our lives "in Christ Jesus."

Do we sense and interact with the grace in whch we now stand? Do we realize that our old self was crucified with Christ and that the life we now live is a life of faith hidden with Christ in God?

I hope so because if not we could be missing, not having access, to that all-important "grace", which is, partcipation in the life of God. The life of the Trinity is a new reality, new stuff, a new place out of which we can live with power and light.

By faith, let's open our eyes and see, or renew our sight, that where we are standing isn't in "kansas anymore"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lent II Homily

The homily from the Second Sunday of Lent, March 20th, is in the library ->

Friday, March 18, 2011

March 20 - Lent II, the Transfiguration

Pain at the heart of glory!
-The homily from last Sunday is in the Library->
-The scriptures for this week are at USCCB.org->
-I am preaching at the Saturday 5:30 Mass and the Sunday 11:00am Mass

I am most encouraged and captured by Paul's words to Timothy from this week's second reading: "Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God." Enduring suffering for the sake of the gospel opens or gives the apostle access to the power of salvation, grace.

We see this similar truth taught in the Gospel of St. Matthew this Sunday. The transfiguration of Ch 17 is  a remedy to the scandal of the cross that has been revealed to the disciples at the end of Ch 16. Together with Paul's admonition to Timothy this says that bearing the suffering for the gospel (the cross) is necessary portion of bearing the glory of the Kingdom. in fact there is no glory of salvation and eternal life but through the "access code" of the cross/suffering.

My continuing reflection upon the Mass Lent leads me to see that the gift of the Eucharist similarly preceded, anticipated, and interpreted for the apostles the agony of the cross. The scandal of the cross is made meaningful and useful for all the disciples of Jesus unto today. The grace of the Eucharist is precisely the power to bear with or see through life's hardships from the position or reality of the joy and glory of Jesus' triumph over death and the gift of eternal life. 

Jesus Last Supper (eucharisitic) advice to his apostles and all of us: Don't be scandalize (torn away from God), do not misunderstand the agony of human hatred, sin, and death(the crucifixion). See through it as a door to real life, joy, and peace of the Kingdom.

Does this make sense to your faith journey in life?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bible Studay Lecture

The third lecture in this LRSS bible study has been recorded and posted in the Estok Library. It is entitled "March 17, 2011 - Bible Study 3" ->
It is 42 minutes long.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lent I Homily

The homily from Sunday, March 13th (Lent I) is in the library ->

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 13 - Lent I

-The Homily for March 6th is in the Library ->
-The scriptures for Sunday March 13th are at USCCB.org ->
-I am preaching at the 4:00pm Mass on Saturday and the 8:00am Mass on Sunday


Ally Ally in Free!

The scriptures on this first week of Lent 2011 hold up two "characters" for us to examine. One is "autonomous" and the Other is "free". In the first case I am speaking, of course, of the woman in the garden who uses her freedom to detach herself from God = autonomy. In the second case I am speaking of Jesus who execises his freedom to reject the self and embrace the hand of God.

This comparison between license and true freedom is something that affects every Christian life everyday. The temptation is to mis-read one's identity, one's purpose, and one's circumstance AND then to exercize the great gift of freedom by choosing God or self.

The witness of Eve reminds all of us of the innate tendency of our broken human condition (to defend and build up the false self at every moment in every circumstance). The witness and ministry of Jesus shows us and helps us to enter into the "Pattern of salvation". What I mean by the pattern of salvation is that we have to see that there is a system at work and then we must work the system.

The false self always reads every situation from the perspective of how threatened it is. It always presents us with a very reasonable motivation for "taking care of ourselves (even religious, but always emotional reasons)." That's the system that is built into us from sin. It's called death. In fact, even though it is death we think it's really "living". Our sharing in the liberation that Jesus has instituted into our human condition by His resurrection and the Holy Spirit is to buck the system.

By His grace we can, ever so slightly, begin to cause and see some light between our circumstances and our false self demanding autonomy. By His grace, we can 'starve' the false self through the logic of the cross(I have to die) and we can cling to God, abandoning the falsehood. We have to start small (like curbing the hunger for bread) and thereby allowing the distance between our hardened selfish hearts and everyday choices to widen. More and more kingdom can get in.

Only a heart, a true self, that is pacticed in true freedom, self-denial, can ultimately embrace God and His Kingdom." Before we judge 'ol Eve, we need to ask "are we free enough to conquer our own bellies? If not, how will we ever resist the cunning devil himself? That will be the test.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

March 6, 2011- 9th Sunday of The Year

Last week's homily is in the library ->
-The scriptures for this Sunday are at USCCB.org->
-I am preaching at the 12:30pm Mass on Sunday only

Shaky Ground

I don't know where you were in 1986 when the earthquake hit Cleveland, but I had the unhappy experience of being at my buddy's apartment near Lake Erie.  It was terrifying.  I know it was nothing like the Haiti or the New Zealand quakes of late -but it was my only experience.

Having the earth under you become unstable is frightening. We could say the same about our life of faith in the church.  Maybe some of you have had an earth-shaking experience within the church as well. That is terrifying too. When the church, the rock of our salvation, the barque of Peter, becomes for us unstable it is terrifying.

This Sundays scriptures encourage us to push through our perceptions of the world and our experience of the church and to rest our faith on the rock who is Jesus.  I didn't say separate from our life in the world or our practice in the church - push through it with faith in Jesus - who never waivers.

As the Lenten season begins, I would like to call us to be rooted in the love of God and centered in the Eucharist....our rock.  Let's make this the Year of the Mass.  As we prepare to implement the new Roman Missal, how could we renew our life resting upon the rock of the Eucharist?  It is our Catholic foundation.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February 27th - Don't Forget!

-the Scriptures for this coming Sunday are at USCCB.org->
-I will be preaching at the Sat. 4pm and the Sun. 12:30pm Masses


Don't forget!

When I was in college I remember my Grandmother( who lived out of town) saying to me that she really would just like a phone call once in awhile to let me know that I remembered her. How could I forget her? How did I demonstrate that remembrance?

Today, God reminds us that He never forgets us....even if we forget Him and one another. What does it mean to be forgotten by someone that you love?

Today's Catholic Charities Appeal has the theme "I will never forget you" from our first reading and it is a reminder to all of us that we ought not forget the least among us - the needy.

The poor are just one of the people we need to work at remembering. Do we forget God? Even though the heart of the Eucharist is "remembering", we can even weekly celebrate Mass and still forget God. Too often our lives and even our worship can become about us, our problems, our needs, our hurts and resentments. That is to forget God.

The gospel says it another way..."seek first the kingdom of God" . We could say today, "remember God's Kingdom and call FIRST and everything else will fit together."

How do you know that someone is remembering you? How do we indicate to God, others, the poor that we have not forgotten them?

Monday, February 7, 2011

February 6 Homily

The homily from last Sunday's Mass is in the Library->

Special Note: I will not be preaching on the weekends of 2/13 or 2/20. Stay in the ring!

2/13

On this World Marriage Day we celebrate the gift of marriage in our community.  Our parish priests have prayerfully decided to use this occasion to speak about the gift of Holy Matrimony and to focus upon one of the greatest opponents of marriage in our culture: co-habitation.  Co-habitation is a prevalent "social arrangement or choice" that brings together all of the major vices that our world promotes: instability rather than fidelity, relativism rather than truth, radical independence rather than community, practical materialism rather than virtuous spirituality, absolute freedom of choice rather than obedience to the will of God, lack of discipline, and right to privacy rather than the sacredness of life every life. That's what encourages co-habitation.

Co-habitation is "sold" to our young people as "trial marriage".  As a matter of fact, we are often told that only a fool would get stuck in "a relationship" that they haven't tested.  This sounds so reasonable that often innocent couples can falsely believe that if they "like" living together or if it "works" they will be good at being married. An even more corrupt message is at the root of this and that is that our "sexual compatibility" is something that smart people test prior to marriage.  These fundamental tenents of co-habitation are bits of wisdom from the world and they are all mistaken,half-truths, and intentional deceptions (lies), The fact is that co-habitating couples who go on to legally marry get divorced at a rate of 87%!

The truth that we proclaim and believe is that matrimony is a sacred calling that is BEGUN by the GIVING OF SELF completely in the sacrament and the SEALING OF LOVE in the marriage bed.  One cannot practice or prepare for such a graced state in life by living the "lie of co-habitation."  Co-habitation is essentially a falsehood lived everyday in the body. It is a conscious choice NOT to make a permanent commitment, it is an open refusal to live the virtue of chastity, it is a sinful decision NOT to live in communion with Christ and the Church. THAT is what co-habition is. It is not a help to the engaged but a toxic choice for the married. The effect of this practice on marital success is obvious.

 As Catholics we ought not be persuaded by the salesmanship of our co-habitating culture.  "Living together"  or "co-habiting" is not a substitute for marriage, a help to or practice for marriage.  It is marriage's enemy. And we are not seeing it. Let's celebrate God's gift to humankind: commitment, communion, self-sacrifice, life,and love. Matrimony!

 



2/20
This week our local Catholic community is beginning in earnest the 2011 Catholic Charities appeal.  As the bulletin has noted over the past few weeks, the "in pew" portion of this annual appeal will take place on the weekend of February 27th (next week).  I don't think anyone really likes the "in pew" process that we have been using now for four years but it is a proven method for gaining the needed support for the important work of Catholic Charities. I am especially uncomfortable taking time out of the Mass to perform the rudimentary tasks of filling out pledge envelopes.  But we have to do it in obedience to our bishop trusting that it is worth it.  But why do the appeal at all?
 
This year's appeal is focusing upon the individual lives that are changed, not just helped, by the good works of Catholic Charities in our Diocese.  The Cleveland Catholic Charities operation is the largest such diocesan catholic charity in the world.  We assist over 600,000 individuals throughout our eight counties each year with head start, end-of-life and nursing care, youth and mentally disabled residential care and services, ministry to families, youth, job training, hunger centers and so much more.  Those are not just great numbers, they are individual lives being changed for the better.  This is God's work and we are sharing in it by our support of Catholic Charities. 
 
Thank you for what you did in last year's appeal.  We surpassed our goal and broke our record.  Thank you again for what you are able to do this year.  We at St. Albert do many good things for the poor; we serve meals downtown, offer medical care in Latin America, provide food and assistance to North Royalton families in need, visit the sick, bury the dead, console the bereaved, etc.  We also contribute to national and international collections throughout the year, especially the annual missionary appeal (remember Fr. Don's African Orphans?).  But there is even greater work to be done in our own local community that we cannot do on our own. The Bishop of Cleveland and the good services of Catholic Charities can do it on our behalf - if they have our support.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

February 6, 2011 - Fifth Sunday of Year

-The homily from January 30 is in the library->
-The Scriptures for this Sunday are at USCCB.org ->
-I am preaching this week at 4:00(Sat), 9:30, and 11:00am(Sun)

Light is seen, not heard!

I am reading Matt Kelly's "Rediscovering Catholicism" and at one place he tells the story of Abraham Lincoln in which a man tells the President that he "is willing to die for our cause". The President said in reply, " I have 25,000 troops willing to die for the cause, I need one who will live for the cause."

To live one's life for "the cause". That is what I hear in Jesus' invitation to let our light shine before others. Too often faith is seen as something personal or private between God and the believer. Even an overly religious life, if you will, can be seen as one lived within religion ( kind of inner circle type of faith).

What we need to hear in this call to be light is that light of Christmas...the Word made his dwelling among us, a light in the darkness, that the darkness could not overcome.". The light of faith is not intended to light up our hearts only. The light of faith is not like a fire at the center of the church to keep us all warm and together. The light is intended for the darkness - out there! Faith LOOKS like something.

Where are the dark spots in your world? Personally, in work, in family, in church? Can your faith and communion with Jesus Christ shine out through your love, in the way you live for the kingdom, in those places so that others will know that there is an alternative to the
darkness...it is light ithe Lord.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Two Homilies

I guess the Januar 23rd homily never made it to the library. Now IT and the January 30th homily are available. Thanks for listening.

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 30, 2011 - Fourth of the Year

-Last Sunday's homily is in the library->
-This Sunday's scriptures are at USCCB.org->
-I am preaching at the 9:30am Mass on Sunday

State of the (comm)Union

St. Paul reminds us that we are "in Christ". In fact, throughout the corpus of Pauline scriptures he uses that expression 166 times. How is that working out for you? That's my question.

In a talk on the Eucharist (available in the library 'January 18, 2011') I was discussing the Communion procession as one of the four processions of the Mass(entrance, Gospel, Offertory, Communion). I asked the folks if they knew they were in a procession at Communion time and if so how did it feel, how was it made a procession for them. I suggested that for most they are thinking that they are "just in the communion line". Just waiting in line to get Communion rather than "a procession of the faithful in Communion moving together as one body, in song, in unison, in love, in one direction, with one purpose within the Communion Rite". In Christ.

Is Christ in You through your sharing in the Sacrament, Holy Communion? Are you in Christ as a sharer in the Sacrament of the Church, the Body of Christ? This is what makes us Catholic - not simply that we RECEIVE Communion but that we ARE Communion in Christ. I am afraid this lack of understanding and appreciation of it is why so many of us don't feel our salvation. Could our experience of God be transformed by the conversion of our minds and hearts to the fuller understanding of what is Real? I think so.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Third Sunday of the Year - January 23, 2011

-The homily for last Sunday is in the library
-The scriptures for this Sunday are at USCCB.org
-I am preaching at the 4pm on Saturday and the 11:00 and 12:30 on Sunday

Why are you so sad?
This past week I had my annual physical, actually I skipped last year so it wasn't exactly annual. Physicals are funny things because you go see a doctor when you are not feeling sick. You have no symptoms (that you're aware of) and the doctor looks for them. And you know, in this day and at my age, they can usually find something to give you a pill for. Thank goodness

Symptomology is a great thing: by careful observation and study we have become familiar with the signs that one is sick. Depending upon the symptoms of one's discomfort, we can diagnose the illness within. The external manifestations or symptoms, reveal the hidden innner reality.

The symptom of our salvation is joy and peace. Too many ostensibly religious people manifest neither symptom. There is so much sadness in the Body of Christ. Why are you sad, down, flat, depressed, disappointed, given up? The absence of the symptoms of peace and joy seem to call into question whether or not one is truly saved.

Have you had a check up lately. Ask your best friend, your spouse, your kids, or co-workers...am I redeemed by Jesus Christ and enjoying everlasting salvation? I'll bet they will tell you how sad or how joyful you are.

Third Thursday Theololgy

This month's offering of the Third Thursday Theology is in the Estok Homily Library (->). The topic was Divine Revelation and the US Catechism Chps 1-3. It is a 66min recording. It is titled "January202011-ThirdThursTheology-Catechism1-3"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Understanding the Mass" Lecture January 18, 2011

The Theology and Spirituality of the Catholic Mass is presented in a 90-minute lecture by Fr. Estok of St. Albert the Great parish. This talk is in the library ->

Monday, January 17, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

January 16 - Second Sunday of the Year

-the homily from the baptism of the Lord is in the library ->
-the Scriptures for this Sunday are at USCCB.org ->
-I am presiding at the 5:30 Mass on Sat and the 8am Mass on Sunday.

The Apostle

There was a movie out a few years ago about an evangelical preacher who struggled with many personal and family demons called The Apostle. If that movie is an indication of what our society thinks an apostle is then its no wonder faith and participation in the church are dwindling.

This last week I had the privilege to offer a retreat for six young men about to be ordained priests. We spent a great deal of time reflecting upon things "apostolic". While the first definition of the word is "one sent", the deeper meaning is "the one who bears the presence of another" - maybe ambassador. The apostle or ambassador must be emptied of his own "baggage", his own credentials, if you will, and transparently make present or bear that of the one who sends him.

That is St. Paul. That is Israel in our first reading. That is the priesthood of the Church. That is your life baptized in Christ Jesus: to set aside yourself and make room for the one you bear to the world.

Does your Christian character bear the image of Christ crucified and risen? Do they see no longer you but him whom you bear? The world needs to see him in us. God's purpose for our lives is to bear His light and life to a darkened world dying from sinful self-aggrandizement.
Apostolic!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's Personal - The Baptism Homily

The homily from this Sunday's feast of the Baptism of the Lord is in the Library ->

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Baptism of the Lord -January 9

The homily from the Epiphany, Jan 2, is in the library
-The scriptures for the Jan 9 Baptism are at USCCB.org
-I will be preaching at 5:30 Mass on Saturfay evening and 11:00 and 12:30 on Sunday

How shall we do this.

I believe that the radiated hearts of those who have received the message of the manger are challenged now by the Baptism of the Lord to make that message known to others in an "equally personal fashion" as was the baby in swaddling clothes.

The world will never understand or receive the Good News of Jesus Christ unless we each become a humanity like his...humble, vulnerable, cared for and about. You know what I mean?

Monday, January 3, 2011