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Get into the ring! How this works...

This is easy! Each week on Thursday I post my homily 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!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Simple, Hardly Easy

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 8:00 and 11:00am

God is doing nothing new!

While God is always new and ever new, the Christmas mystery and the revelation of God in the human person of Jesus at Bethlehem is nothing new, it is not a new message. In fact, it is so purely and simply the same message that we have heard from God from the beginning.

In the beginning, God made them male and female in his own image and likeness and he charged them to love, to become one flesh, and to be fruitful, multiply - as in be co-creators with God. To be human: mother, father, child.

The Christmas mystery revealed today especially in the Holy Family - husband, wife, child-is the same message: our God enters our human existence and reality not as a powerful angel from on high nor as an otherworldly creature but as a helpless child of innocent and committed parents. The message is the same as that first creation: that I am love, I have created you as humans in love, I have placed my mode of loving into your very bones/humanity, and I am calling you to simply love as human beings do.

As Fr. Chuck said on Christmas eve, "God has chosen to not only create us in his image of love, call us to his work of loving, but shown us how to live in love in Jesus."

It's simple, but it ain't easy! We certainly have complicated our basic task. Mother father and child. Husband, wife, family. How far have we gotten from our Nature and our mission? How might we reconnect through the gospel with both? In simply being and loving as we were called, created, and redeemed, to do... We could find peace.

Simple! Hardly easy!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dec 23 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 9:30 Sunday

Live it

Mary has just had the most powerful religious or spiritual experience of her life - the annunciation. That closeness and intimacy with God. She has been longing for God her whole life. She believes that God has visited her. She is on fire!

And what does she do? Evidently she did not run to the synagogue to share with the rabbi or the scribe this great spiritual phenomenon, evidently she did not call her spiritual director. She did not meet up with her small faith sharing group.

No, she went to verify the message of the angel, she went to confirm this spiritual experience in the real life of her kinswoman Elizabeth. She went as a contemplative of light radiating the presence and love of God and she manifested the meaning of her religious experience by caring for another.

It seems easy for us to long for a connection with God in faith. We want to feel religious. We are seeking spirituality. Some of us are frustrated and not experiencing enough. Others of us claim to experience this depth of religion but we do not confirm it with compassion.

The tell tale sign of true communion with God in faith is compassion for our neighbor. We cannot escape this demand. Mary shows us the truth. To encounter the loving and living God is to conceive of that love in and through one's life. There is no true love of God that is absent of a true compassion for one's neighbor in need.

I believe we can work this system in reverse as well. This is the recommendation of Jesus. Let us love one another, for God is love. We can deepen our religious experience, our spirituality by extending our compassion and love for others in the moment, here, and now, in the simple, in that which is most common, close to us, available to us, accessible!

So, if we are longing for communion with God, a deep spiritual!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

More than a happy feeling

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 9:30 and 6:00pm at St. Albert the Great and at 12:15 at the cathedral with our confirmandi and families.

It's about what you do!

All the people coming out to see John the Baptist to be baptized were experiencing religious fervor, responding to the invitation of God but very possibly seeking only a feeling. Enthusiasm and spiritual desire are an important part of our spiritual conversion. However, they cannot substitute for it. Feeling fine is not not being saved.

The remedy for this possible misunderstanding is remedied by the firmness of the Baptist. John the Baptist reminds everyone who comes to him in response to his Holiness, his fervor, his invitation.... "here is what you ought to do".

In Catholicism we call this "incarnation". Is your faith more than a feeling? Is what you seek simply better feelings? On this Gaudette(rejoicing) Sunday it is possible that we might conceive of the goal on our religious life as feeling joyful, happy. Joy is the symptom of our faith and conversion, however, it is righteous, truthful, and holy living that is the means to that joy. And the faith and knowledge that the Lord is near is the cause of our joy?

Is our faith and our religious life a cyclical and frustrating pursuit of feeling bad and then better? Or is in a response to the gift of Emmanuel?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ears versus mouths

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 5:30 and 8:00am

Brand New Ears!

My father was famous for saying to me that "when I died my ears would be brand new and my mouth was going to be worn out". I've heard another version that says "the reason God gave us two ears and one mouth is that we would listen twice as much as we talk".

I am struck by the prophetic vocation of John the Baptist. It begins "in the desert" and the Scripture says the "Word came to John". I don't believe that I have ever noticed this pattern in one who is called to be a prophet. One must receive the word of God before he or she can pronounce the Word of God.

I have always thought of prophetic activity as words or actions that are saying something. I have always understood the prophetic function of the church as the teaching and preaching function. What I am realizing with John the Baptist and of course Jesus himself (both modeled on Moses) is that the essence of being a prophet is "listening".

Therefore, before I accept the role of prophet of the Lord I must consider my qualifications: have I listened.

In fact, the whole Church through baptism is called to a prophetic life in Christ. Have we nurtured this essential prophetic qualification? Have we heard? Have we listened?

I am embarrassed to say that I am shocked by this insight but I can't resist being honest. How about you?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent 1 - Dec 2 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 4:00pm and 11:00am

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

This end times and last things gospel text from Saint Luke proposes two options when confronted by calamity: die of fright or cling to the Lord. I am certain that the gospel recommendation is to keep your eye on the Lord, stand erect, lift your head, your redemption is at hand!

There is a lot of handwringing going on within the church and within the society about the end of the world, the end of life as we know it, the end of our western culture, the end of the American experiment. I will admit that there are a lot of frightening indicators in our world and our church that suggest painful and problematic times. Nonetheless, I believe this is Jesus' point.

What is Jesus's point? That when we hear of these things, when we see these things, when we experience these difficulties, and these pains, these frightening circumstances, we are not to turn away, turn to self, turn to defensiveness, turn to protectionism, turn to Isolationism, give up on relationships, abandon the community, build a fort, hide ourselves away, enter the bomb shelter!

No! We are called to stand up and lift our heads and fix our eyes on the redemption of the Lord that has been poured into our hearts. It is the light of Christ, the eternal life, the springs of never ending life, the restful waters, the indwelling, the power coming on the clouds of heaven - these should overwhelm us and keep us firm on our mission, on our path, in our peace!

Really?! That is precisely the point! If we are not going to cling to the hand of Jesus in the face of calamity then what good and what use is faith at all? To stroll along the sunny path of life? To celebrate the joy and the success of life? I don't get that impression from our crucified Savior.

The whole point it seems to me is that we have been given a Savior, we have received the Holy Spirit, we have been joined to the Body of Christ, precisely because we were going to need courage and clarity of vision (read: the truth) when things get stormy. If we lack faith in the stormy times-there is no point of faith at all.

So, see some storm clouds on the horizon? Standing erect, lift your head and believe

Friday, November 23, 2012

November 25 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 11:00am and 6:00pm Sunday

"You're not the boss of me"

That expression coming from somewhere in our preschool/early years, rather sums up the proposition of the church on this feast of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Are we subjects, can we subject ourselves to anyone - let alone Jesus Christ?

The only way that one can submit or subject him or herself to the will of another is if that other is perceived as True, More true than our own best idea. The question for all of us on this feast is to what extent have we encountered the truth of Jesus Christ and subjected ourselves to it?

The human condition and thus the "average Joe" cannot see or hear or perceive the truth of others because of the infantile, defensive demand to be free(In charge of himself). "You are not the boss of me" is the expression and the attitude of the independent, autonomous, headstrong child within each of us. "You are not the boss of me" is also the subtitle of the original sin in the garden of Eden. While they are created as the first man and woman they end up choosing like the first little two-year-olds!

As the church celebrates the sovereignty of Jesus Christ, king of the universe we can all have our "autonomous, independent, free-thinking" wounded little children alarmed. Before we get our "backs up" let's be reminded of Jesus in the garden. He has won the title of universal king by being the first and best, humble subject. "Your will, not mine, be done" is the motto of this kingdom.

Are you safe and secure enough, like Jesus in the garden, to hear and recognize the truth of the Lord Jesus and to subject your life to his? If not, why not? That is the point of our faith and our salvation!

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 18 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at>>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 5:30 Sat and 8:00 Sunday

Passing Away

I can't help but retell the story of a couple of weeks ago about my attending the wake of a deceased parishioner. I found a four-year-old great-grandchild of the deceased sitting alone next to a laptop computer staring at a video of his deceased great-grandmother...they called her "Mutti".

With my most compassionate intentional smile and showing concern I said to the little boy "is that your "Mutti"?" He answered "yes". I said, "I am sorry that she passed away." He looked up from the video and turned to me puzzled and said "oh, she didn't pass away, she died."

That little boy was 100% right. no sugar-coating his reality. She died. We use the expression "pass away" to say "die". Jesus uses it to communicate the very nature of things...those permanent and those transitional, if you know what I mean.

Jesus says that everything is "passing away" except, of course, his Word will never pass away. It seems that faith may be this clarity of vision: the ability to see, know and understand what is "passing away"(transitional) and what is enduring forever(real).

I am interested as to what in my life and in your life are we called to see clearly as "passing away"? If you are like me I often get my heart set on the transitional or on the unreal and I see it as reality, not passing away. I need, like that little four-year-old, to get real and see things as God sees them. The ones that are made to "pass away" and those that are intended to endure.

And, what could be the providential and graceful purpose of this "passing away"? What is the good of it except to "make way" for God's real life and reality now?

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 11th Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at>>>>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 4:00 Sat and 6:00pm Sunday

Give it Up!

While we are celebrating the 32nd Sunday in ordinary time, we at St. Albert the Great parish are celebrating the solemnity of our patron, St. Albert. We will be reflecting, however, on the Scriptures for Sunday.

Jesus points out to his disciples the poor widow and her generosity to the temple treasury as an "object lesson" about something much more fundamental than tithing to the Sunday collection.

The Jesus secret! I have expressed my appreciation of this "object lesson" of Jesus as the "Jesus secret" because it is the central mystery of our Christian faith and it is the principal mechanism of Jesus' revelation to the world of the love of God and the Kingdom of God. I am speaking, of course, of the Paschal Mystery.

What the poor widow shows the disciples of Jesus is that being poor in this world's estimation and giving all of the littleness of one's life (poverty) for the sake of the mission of God is the path to holiness. In the Incarnation and most poignantly in his self offering on the cross, Jesus has not only revealed the wisdom of the kingdom but accomplished the salvation of the world. We, his disciples, are invited to employ the same mechanism (the cross and resurrection) in our lives in order to announce the kingdom of God and to share in the salvation won for us.

So, what is the poverty of our lives, specifically the area of life in which we believe we are insufficient or suffering from "not enough"? If we identify this area of "not enough" we will have put our finger on the place where we are vulnerable. Vulnerability is an uncomfortable and unattractive condition for us Americans of the 21st-century. By claiming in our spirituality this vulnerable aspect of our lives we can begin the connection with the kingdom of God: we are needy! We are, like the poor widow, in this vulnerable condition, called to give ourselves away, exposing ourselves completely as having nothing but trust in God alone. (That's called holiness) it's a secret...from the world.

Its a secret (in the world) because the world says that you can find happiness only through your strength/winning and by taking what you need for happiness even from God (remember Adam and Eve). That is the invitation to self-sufficiency and death.

How might your poverty, your vulnerability be the key to your salvation. Instead of hating our poverty, weakness or vulnerability - we can use it to offer ourselves to God. That's the Jesus Secret. That would be a plan for holiness and a source of salvation, freedom, and life.

Friday, November 2, 2012

November 4 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend on Sat. 4:00, Sunday 9:30 and 11:00

Nailing Jello to the Wall!

I am convinced that keeping the love of God and the love of neighbor together and integrated into one Christian life is as difficult and as challenging as trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. It is as if the wounded or broken human condition (read: Original Sin) is, of it's nature, inclined to one or the other of these virtues...but not both at once.

In fact, the competition between love of God and love of neighbor may very well be the specific manifestation of original sin. I am, of course, talking about the popular or customary understanding of what "love of God" looks like (read: devout, holy, pious!) And, of course, "love of neighbor" in our popular understanding is to never offend anyone else, tolerance, if you well.

Pope Benedict, in his first encyclical as pope, "God is love" tried to bring this point to bear. He said there that there is no such thing as love of neighbor that is not true (in the line with The love of God). Conversely there is no love of God, truth, that is exclusive of the love of neighbor. The Pope had to make this point because of my suggestion above that in the world today one cannot cling to the truth revealed by God and "appear" to be "loving" according to the standards of this world (read: tolerant).

Therefore, many of us are challenged today to be faithful to the love of God or the truth about God (who is love) and at the same time deal with the perceptions and the feelings of others who do not find the truth revealed by God to be loving.

I believe in popular culture we call this today "tough love". To know the truth and to do it in love in spite of the pain that it might cause us and those we are loving. I don't think there's any way around it. And it seems that all of us, who are planning on being faithful to the Gospel, have to go through it. It is as challenging as trying to nail Jell-O to a wall.

In a world whose greatest value is tolerance, how can we cling to the love of God (who is truth revealed) and avoid this pain in our emotional lives? Can't be done-check with Jesus on the cross. For me and my household, we will obey the Lord!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Homily Prep Oct 28

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at Sat 5:30 and Sunday 8:00am and 6:00pm

Faith is all about the approach!

In order to connect with my thoughts about the homily this week it's necessary to recall the gospel story from last Sunday. If you recall the Sons of Zebedee asked the Lord to "do for us what we ask of you". Contrast this approach to the blind man in this week's gospel who is asked by Jesus "what do you want me to do for you?"

Wow. These two stories right next to each other in the scriptures and in our liturgy beg for comparison. They instruct us in the process of faith and discipleship.
1. You must recognize Jesus as Lord and Messiah - both did that
2. You must be convinced that being close to Jesus can make a difference in your life - got that!
3. You must desire what Jesus desires not what you desire for yourself. Oops.

An act of faith by one who presumes to be a disciple of Jesus of necessity requires that you desire that Jesus do something in you that will further HIS life NOT that Jesus do something to guarantee the build up of your self/ego or esteem. Secondly, faithful discipleship obviously demands that you strive to see things the way Jesus sees rather than that you get Jesus to see things YOUR way. Duh.

I know it's obvious but obviously from the time of Jesus and even among his closest followers we've not been getting this. Maybe even today Christians think that faith is a process of trying to get God to see things our way (prayer, petiton, devotion, storming heaven)rather than growing into the gradual and graceful way of seeing our lives the way God sees them. Hmmmmm.

Unless and until we have our hearts turned by faith so that we begin to see Him and His way as the answer to life's question - we are going to remain blind and worse arrogantly imposing our short-sightedness upon God and of course following our own best ideas rather than Him.

Faith...seeing myself as he sees me. hmmmmm!

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 21 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at>>>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 4:00 Sat and 11:00 Sunday

Faith - access code

It seems that this year of faith, this political season, and the Scriptures are presenting me with the invitation to an essential connection with God for the transformation of my life and the world. That connection is accessed by faith first, faith essentially, faith alone.

It is by faith uniquely that we gain access to communion with God, God's great mercy, the throne of grace, the truth. It is only by faith and in authentic communion that one can be transformed from death to life, from isolated, nominal, Catholic to responsible conscientious voter, from simply observant Catholic to fully alive member of the body of Christ, the church.

Maybe I am starting to sound like Martin Luther with this faith alone stuff (you know the Protestant affection for the five alones), however, I think that this fundamental act of believing it is the inescapable foundational principle of our living life to the fullest in Christ. If you don't have faith - you cannot have a full human life.

Therefore, the question remains, "do you believe?". Yes, Lord, I believe, increase my faith!

Friday, October 12, 2012

October 14 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at >>>>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 8:00 and 12:30 Sunday


Small souled! That's what pusillanimous means. To be of a small soul. Magnanimous means to be of large soul. The condition of the rich young man is a oxymoron. He is large in this world's standard of success, But small in his capacity of soul.

We are beginning the year of faith, can we be enlarged in our soul? Jesus was clearly trying to grow the soul, increase the faith, stretch this good, young man.... of small soul.

Can we see the smallness of our soul? Are we interested in re-igniting our faith? I'm not sure we need it? I'm not sure we want it? I'm not sure we're capable of allowing it.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Oct 7 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at >>>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 5:30 Saturday

Are You Disappointed in Love? Of Course!

The troubling and heartbreaking mystery buried in the text of this Sunday's respect life scriptures is that God has planted deep within us an unquenchable thirst for communion. In our broken human condition, there is no quenching that thirst. We are called to "settle".

The problem in the blindness of our broken human condition is that we have never accepted the inability of human fulfillment of love on this side of heaven. Therefore we romantically seek and don't find satisfaction in the relationships of this world. Whether it is in marriage, in the family, in the church! We go seeking that which is not promised to us. Only God can fulfill the hunger he has placed with us for communion.

Too many of us in the world spend our entire lives disappointed in the lack of fulfillment in love. We never accept in faith the limitation of our human condition and the fulfillment of our desires in God alone.

This is a tremendous waste of time, effort, and energy. Let us take a new look at the hunger of our hearts and accept the limited satisfaction that our human loving can accomplish and turn our desire to God alone.

Make sense? We don't have to be happy about it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Someone Asked for this Quote

In the homily on Faithful Citizenship September 30th I read....

"Yes, America, all this belongs to you. But your greatest beauty and your richest blessing is found in the human person: in each man, woman and child, in every immigrant, in every native-born son and daughter.
For this reason, America, your deepest identity and truest character as a nation is revealed in the position you take towards the human person. The ultimate test of your greatness in the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones.
The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life! All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person:
– feeding the poor and welcoming refugees;
– reinforcing the social fabric of this nation;
– promoting the true advancement of women;
– securing the rights of minorities;
– pursuing disarmament, while guaranteeing legitimate defence; all this will succeed only if respect for life and its protection by the law is granted to every human being from conception until natural death.
Every human person – no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society – is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God.
This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival – yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenceless ones, those as yet unborn.
With these sentiments of love and hope for America, I now say goodbye in words that I spoke once before: "Today, therefore, my final prayer is this: that God will bless America, so that she may increasingly become - and truly be - and long remain one Nation, under God, indivisible. With liberty and justice for all."
May God bless you all.
God bless America!”

–Blessed Pope John Paul II
Farewell Ceremony from the United States
Detroit Metro Airport
19 September 1987

Friday, September 28, 2012

Prophetic Citizenship!

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at>>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 4:00 on Sat and 8:00 on Sunday

Be not just "faithful, but Prophetic!

The Scriptures for this 26th Sunday in ordinary time as well as the context of the political season brings the question of "what is God doing in our midst and who is accomplishing God's will in our presence".

The role of the prophet is not to "announce the future" but rather to "reveal God present" - literally, to "speak for or on behalf of" God. The question presented in both the first reading and the Gospel text today is the issue of "who" is presenting God's truth or wisdom. Both Moses and Jesus teach and instruct us that the "who" is not the important question. The "what" is of the essence.

Therefore, in our Catholic life we might stop looking for a prophet and begin to search for the "prophetic" within the church. That would demand that we stop considering the person and start considering the message, the truth, the movement of the Spirit of God in our midst.

Our Catholic teaching and ecclesiology does not contribute to this understanding of prophecy. We, like the followers of Moses, are convinced and taught that certain persons, office holders, consecrated people speak on behalf of God. The office of Pope, for example, has swirled for centuries about infallibility: when the pope speaks. Our notions of obedience are referred always to the office holder or the authority figure who speaks on behalf of God.

We have not been trained or instructed to expect the prophetic action of God to come through just the ordinary believer. In spite of the instruction of Jesus and Moses, we give too much credence to person rather than prophecy.

If the truth be told, even the Holy Father or pastor or superior or head of the household must not be obeyed if what they say is not in conformity to the truth of God. That demands discernment by the people of God. Do we have such discernment?

If, in fact, we have all been anointed like Jesus as priest, prophet, and King at our baptism can we not and should we not expect the prophetic action of God to be at work in each of us and in and through all of us as a communal manifestation of the Body of Christ in the world? Should not the Catholic Church as a body be prophetic for the rest of the world-revealing the truth, speaking on behalf of God?

When we hear the call of our church leaders to be engaged in the democratic process of this year's election, we should hear the invitation to be prophetic. Rather than "faithful citizenship" I am hearing the call for "prophetic citizenship"! What I mean is that for a Catholic to discern and hear and know the truth and then to cast a ballot based upon that truth is to be a Catholic prophet to the nation. A vote is the most effective voice that an American citizen has in our democratic society. To vote as a Catholic Christian based upon the principles and values taught by the Church, the call to justice, especially the defense of life, the truth of the gospel, is to speak on behalf of God, which is the definition of prophetic.

Can and will you be a prophet for God, a prophet for the truth, a prophet for life, a prophet for justice, a prophet for freedom, a prophet to the nations? Vote as a believing, living Catholic - that is prophetic. Would that all God's people would be prophets!

Friday, September 21, 2012

September 23 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at>>>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 5:30 Sat, and 8:00 and 12:30 on Sunday

Tea Leaves

Folks I don't think we are reading the tea leaves correctly. At least not the way Jesus recommends. I am struck by the comment from Jesus in last weeks gospel "you are thinking not like God does but like human beings do".

What I am referring to is this business of "assessing success or greatness". My experience tells me (and my own temptation and proclivities suggest to me) that we are reading and estimating greatness, quality, success, etc. according to or through the lens of this world's values. The driving motivation of most everyone in the church and outside of the church Is to avoid losing, being last, failing, serving and to succeed in this world, to win at the game of life in this world.

My question is "has our Christian conversion made an impact upon our judgment?". Maybe you will agree with me, even the religious and pious people have a temptation to conclude or judge that when they are losing in the world that God has abandoned them.

What this tells me is that we have not adopted or been impacted by Jesus's "inside out" revolution on humanity's journey in the world and in the kingdom. Jesus says "if you want to be great you must be the least, last, servant of the rest". That sounds fine and well until it starts to happen to us. When we start to lose, when we fall down, when we are persecuted, when we are frustrated, when it looks like we have been defeated, we turn to God and pray that He would turn it around for us. That doesn't seem to me to be Jesus's message.

What God is calling us to, what God-thinking is all about is that we are assuredly going to lose in this world, we are definitely going to die, we are going likely to be downtrodden, persecuted, and disparaged. When those things happen to us we should rejoice for the kingdom of God is at hand. I don't think we're getting it. We are not reading the tea leaves correctly.

Maybe we have been confused by the notion that if we VOLUNTARILY become the last, if we choose to lose or serve or die THEN we can see it as a path to greatness in God's eyes. This is kind of like the Mother Teresa mentality of being holy and religious "if I elect to give up on success" then my failure is a sign of closeness of God to me. But when losing, littleness, last-ness, death, servitude, etc. is imposed upon us BY life and BY others THEN we don't get it. We don't read those tea leaves so clearly as the fact that we are great.

Is it possible that this success-in-the-world routine and standard of success is the reason that the Gospel has been so unsuccessful in changing the world? Maybe?

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 16 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at>>>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 11:00am

Working: definition 5 : being in use or operation

The type of faith that St James is describing and Jesus is witnessing to is "faith that works". What I mean is that the effect of faith on one's real life is a "faith that works" - it is accomplishing the effect in life that it is intended to do.

When Jesus asked his disciples who people say that he is, he is asking if in fact his faith is effective, is it working? He also explains the need to allow faith to work in your life which is manifest by the cross. If the faith that Jesus has come to give us is working in our lives then we will pick up our cross and follow him. Losing our life is the symptom of faith at work in our lives.

Like a fever, laying down your life, detachment from life in this world, a lack of reliance upon success in this life - this is the symptom of a lively or living faith-as St. James would call it.

So, do you have works of faith in your life? Are there observable symptoms of a living faith in your life? Is the dying and rising of Jesus evident in your daily life? This is faith.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 9 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at >>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 4:00, (Sat), 8:00 and 6:00pm

-to make pained expression: 
to make an expression of pain with the face because of seeing or thinking of something unpleasant or embarrassing
-to move body back slightly: 
to make an involuntary movement away from something because of pain or fear
-an expression of pain: a facial expression of pain or fear.

It seems typical for our broken human condition to squeeze our eyes firmly tight claiming that God is absent - rather than open up our eyes in faith and see the God who is with us.

Life hurts and can be startling. It makes us wince. Wincing is a reflexive squeezing of the face and eyes In the response to some threatening event. Did you ever wince in fear of something you perceived was coming after you or at you but then you realized there was nothing really there? Like being the passenger in a car of a driver who is reckless, we can live life jerking at every turn with our foot pressing against an imaginary brake pedal.

Pretty "uptight". I think that's the way we walk through life...eyes closed in a wince against the threatening appearances of the world. In that posture or disfigurement we cannot see what is because of the fear of what we see.

Today we hear that for people of faith, there is no need to walk so fearful and contracted. In fact, such contracted, uptight, posture is precisely the thing that blinds us from seeing the answer to our fears - the God who has come to save us.

Can you ease your heart, mind, your body and your eyes by faith? If so you will join me in seeing the God who has promised to be with us always. It is not that God is absent, it is our self-defensive misconceptions that blind us to the God who saves us in every moment. Emmanuel.

Friday, August 31, 2012

September 2 Pomily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at Sunday 11:00am

Litmus test!

We live in the era of empiricism and scientific method. We are all familiar with the analysis that can be done on anything: a liquid solution, the particulate matter in the air, the radioactivity in an object or area, the sugar in one's blood, the lumens of light in a room. Such analysis has called our attention to the invisible yet ascertainable quality of things.

St. James seems to have applied such discernment or empiricism to the quality of our faith and the efficaciousness of the Word of God. People of faith can discern, judge, or ascertain the efficaciousness of the word of God by examining the morality, righteousness, justice, goodness of one's works.

Some have suggested that this attitude of St. James is a corrective to the disengagement or dismissive attitude of St. Paul to the law and his emphasis on the freedom of the Spirit.

This has certainly, from the Reformation onward, been a great debate among religious people: the connection of faith to righteousness, morality, ethics, community, good works. Can we do an analysis of our faith and detect in it justice, righteousness, ethical behavior, compassion, peace?

Can our Christian lives be tested, "testify" to the effective work of the Word of God in our lives.? Is the litmus test of the Word in our lives a life of justice and compassion?

Friday, August 24, 2012

August 26 Homily Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at >>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 9:30am and 6:00pm

No Reservations!

I believe the actors in the movie entitled "No Reservations" were Sandra Bullock and child-star Abigail Breslin . It was a rather tender story about the call to love-to self-Sacrificing love. This call to love was manifested in the movie by the "requirement of love" which is to lose everything for its sake and to gain everything by it's Grace. the reservations in the movie had to do with a meal. Interesting.

Our fifth and final homily in this series on the "bread of life discourse" presents us with that precise invitation, opportunity, and challenge. Jesus says to his listeners, his disciples, who murmur against him out loud and have silent reservation in their hearts "will you leave me too?". The entire homily that Jesus has been sharing in dialogue with his followers has been about the new and powerful life available through intimacy with Jesus IN his body from the living Father. When it has become difficult to understand they find it threatening to their sense of self and they leave him.

They are very interested in the miracles that Jesus works, they are very interested in the truth about the Father that Jesus proposes, they are very desirous of this bread for which they will no longer hunger, but they have serious reservations about a life of intimacy with God lived in Jesus' body. They protest. They like all the self-benefiting ideas about Jesus, the miracle worker and the man of faith. But they have serious reservations about his offer of communion.

The faith of the Catholic church, the power of Jesus' Eucharistic presence in the bread of life, our lives of faith in the church are complicated by these same reservations. The incarnate, fleshy, actual, real life complications of belonging to the body of Christ, the church, is actually the only problem or reservation that we as Christians have. Everybody loves Jesus, everybody is inspired by the word of God in the Bible, everybody is looking forward to living forever with God in heaven. It's the church, the vessel, the Body of Christ in which we are called to live our daily lives of faith that gives us pause-reservations. We find it "hard" and we are tempted to walk away. Even if we don't externally walk away, we dwell in and among the church believing, belonging, participating as if we are not IN communion with the body. We are "reserved".

St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians (that has been accompanying the bread of life discourse throughout these five weeks) comes to a culmination today in the image of life with God as a marriage. The embodied communion of two lives, no longer two but one flesh, is held up for us as a goal for our life of faith. The minister asks the engaged couple "have you come here freely, without reservation, to give yourselves to each other in holy matrimony?" No reservations.

That is the level of communion that the faith requires of us as Catholics. Communion is not simply intimacy with Jesus in the sacred host. It is a life of faith lived IN communion with the body of Christ, IN the church. It is a shared life with relative strangers. It is not a cozy fellowship of friends-it is rather a communion of faith-filled members! It is a process of clinging to one another under the conviction that our communion in faith reveals and possesses the grace necessary for salvation. That doesn't always feel like friendship-it is more like marriage or family for sure.

This is a hard teaching, we are tempted to "walk away". It does not always feel like a friendly relationship with Jesus. Will we protest against the embodiment of Christ in the church, the Catholic Church, the imperfect church called to holiness? We are tempted to walk away from what feels threatening to good-feeling self preservation. We are called to have "no reservation"! Are you in?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bread of Life - August 19 Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-YThis Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 5:30, 8:00am, and 11:00am.

Thriller and Sr. Helen Prejean!

Do you remember that first full-length TV music video entitled thriller? It was Michael Jackson's title song from his album in which a bunch of zombies, the living or walking dead, come to life and dance to Michael's music. I am recalling it because the bread of life discourse brings us to the question of, although we are walking (or even dancing) around, "are we really alive?" Our ancestors, Jesus says, "ate the bread from heaven but died nonetheless". We are offered and have eaten the living bread from heaven-but have we come to life?

Are we truly alive in Christ Jesus? This question of life in Christ, living, is the challenge of this fourth homily in a series on the bread of life. Is it not possible that we who have been baptized and have fed upon the living bread come down from heaven are nonetheless not alive? It is deceiving, because we seem to be alive as the Jews in the desert - we are surviving. To what extent is what we call our daily life surviving or truly living? How much of my daily existence is alive?

Is it not true that through sin death entered the world? Our ancestors were cast out of the garden, experiencing death, but they were still living in the world. They were challenged to work by the sweat of their brow and the labor of their childbirth. This death that entered the world was not human dying, meaning the cessation of respiration only, this death was separation from God and life lived for self. Dead men walking!

The life that Jesus offers us in himself is communion with the living father and a life that is given away(even when our hearts stop beating). We become "life livers" inasmuch as we are "life givers". So that is the litmus test - I am alive in as much as I am giving life to others. Living for self is a zombie experience, the walking dead.

Are you alive? Are you giving life? Have you eaten of the living bread? Are you a walking dead man? "It is no longer I who live, but Christ living within me!"

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bread from Heaven - August 12 Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 12:30 Mass


As we continue this series of homilies regarding the bread of life discourse, the third theme that we have identified is "bread from heaven". The first theme( the gathering assembly) and the second ( table fellowship) bring us to a fascinating aspect of St. John's Gospel: the double entendre. St. John's Gospel in its entirety and then in particular scenes and sections is using the language and imagery of one reality or level while it can be interpreted and should be completely on a second (a court trial vs. revelation of salvation; this world vs. the kingdom; light and darkness; sight and blindness; you will live vs. they are dead)

In the bread of life discourse we hear this type of speech and interpretation used by Jesus. Especially around the notion of hunger and feeding. In today's theme of the bread from heaven Jesus is using imagery and reality from the Hebrew Scriptures. As the Jews ate manna in the desert, bread come down from heaven, they died. His followers have pursued him not because of the sign that he worked but because they have had their fill of the bread-the loaves. That means that it is entirely possible to be eating the bread from heaven, who is Jesus, and to eat in the wrong way-Thus, to die

For what are we hungry when we come to table fellowship with Jesus? If in fact we understand the Eucharist to be miraculous bread from God only, we may be hungering and desiring it for an incomplete reason. Hungering for miraculous grace from God might be a very self centered religious activity. as usual, with us human beings, it is all about "me".

Following the themes of this series we would be encouraged to see, rather, that we the Body of Christ ourselves head and members gather and constitute the "whole Christ" coming to offer praise and sacrifice to the Father in the power of the Spirit. In that sacramental meal we find and receive communion with God's life and love and we are deepened in our communion with eternity..

In this case then the bread from heaven, is not something we hunger for in order to remedy our personal, worldly concerns. Rather, the bread from heaven is that graceful pathway to knowing ourselves in God AS the Body of Christ and remaining IN God as we journey in the world. We do not hunger for and consume the bread from heaven in order to have a successful, pain-free, problem free life in the world. Rather we come to celebrate and eat the bread from heaven so that we might know and cling to the hand of God which is extended to us in Jesus Christ now and unto eternity - a path to communion with God's saving love

So, for what are we hungering? Relief in our troubles, to fill our bellies with God's miraculous antidote? Or are we hungering for heaven itself and recognize such "communion" in the bread we eat who is Jesus Christ?

Do you come to church hungry at all? Have you ever come to church expecting and demanding to be fed for the wrong hungering?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sharing a Meal

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at Sat 4:00, Sun 11am, and 6pm(during the picnic

Sharing, a Meal!

There really is supposed to be a comma in the title of this blog entry. By inserting the comma after "sharing" we can see that the notion of meal defines or conditions or interprets the act of sharing. We are invited and challenged as the disciples of Jesus to recognize that the importance of a meal is not so much the content or "what" is being shared, in this case bread, and much more that "sharing" itself is the mode of our salvation.

In these five Sunday sermons on Saint John's bread of life discourse we at St. Albert are reflecting on various aspects of the holy Eucharist. Last week we began with the "gathering or gathered assembly" and reflected upon the real presence of Jesus in the assembly and members of the Body of Christ. This weeks theme or subject is "table fellowship". As with the real presence of Jesus in the assembly/Body of Christ gathered, the context of the Eucharistic celebration as "table fellowship" is not our customary understanding or our first interpretation.

Most Catholics of a pre--Vatican II formation, are focused on the context of the Eucharistic liturgy as sacrifice: the sacrifice of the mass. Since the second Vatican Council, however, we have been encouraged to recognize the equally valid context of the celebration of the mass as a meal, table fellowship. The connection to Passover and the last supper, both of which are ritual meals, is the source of this expanded understanding. The fact that Jesus's sacrifice on the cross is communicated to the church as bread "blessed, broken and shared"(a meal) is a fuller understanding of what it means to live a self sacrificing life.

So, like the Jews in the Gospel text, Catholics today can be more focused on the bread that we eat-having our fill of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and fail to recognize that it is the self sacrificing sharing of God's life that the Eucharist makes really present- its a meal. Another word for fellowship is participation, sharing, "agape" -the love of God.

Can we benefit from expanding our understanding of the mass to include table fellowship or the self sacrificing sharing that Jesus communicates to the church in the form of bread and wine? He is the lamb who was slain on the altar of the cross for our salvation and our sins forgiven by the outpouring of his blood. The sacrifice of the mass. However, Jesus chose to make that sacrifice perpetually present to and in the church, his body, by a meal shared in the company of his disciples the Body of Christ - the gathered assembly.

Are we at church, then, with the obligation to witness an unbloodied sacrifice and to receive the miraculous bread from heaven only? Or are we called to be the Church, the Body of Christ present and sharing the self-sacrificing meal of love which is God himself? It has to be both!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Present! Homily prep for July 29

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 12:30 only

The "bread of life discourse"

We begin a five week series of gospel texts from St. John called the "bread of life discourse". It is a multiplication miracle story with a theological explanation by Jesus in the form of a discussion if you will. The priests of St. Albert have decided to collectively approach these five weeks with an agreed-upon focus.

Underneath the five weeks of homilies is the liturgical and sacramental truth of the four presences of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic liturgy. The gathered community, the priest-presider, the Word proclaimed, and the consecrated Eucharistic species are the four presences of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic liturgy. This first week in the series will focus on the gathered assembly.

How do we gather? I am trusting that a majority of Catholics are convinced that they, sinful and unworthy, are required to come to a Catholic church in which a validly ordained priest will say the mass validly and they will fulfill their obligation and avoid sin by showing up. They will principally participate in that mass by being present for at least the Gospel, offertory, and consecration. If properly disposed, they will encounter the only real presence of Jesus within that event by receiving the consecrated Eucharist- take Communion.

How, rather, do we as the individually baptized members of the church constitute the very Body of Christ, head and members, in our assembling for the Eucharistic liturgy? Other than touch the water in the mini-fonts at the doors of the church, do we recognize and offer reverence to the body of Christ in and among the members of the assembled community? I didn't think so.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Reconstruction Architects!

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 4:00, 8:00, 9:30 and 12:30

Demolition or Reconstruction?

I think i might like being a Reconstruction Architects. I don't think I have the creativity to be an architect (design something from scratch), but I do think I have an interest and knack for analyzing what exists and proposing a more workable renovation. I see the salvation won for us in Christ Jesus as not a "new creation" so much as a re-creation - a reconstruction job putting things right.

What is this effect of Christ's Salvation? I am considering Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. The "blood of Christ" and the work of Christ "in his flesh" have accomplished some big reconstruction. That "new person" or "one person" from the two was created out of the demolition of the dividing wall between us and God and us and our neighbor. Whoa!

This makes salvation fundamentally reconciliation, that is, the taking of something broken and dysfunctional and healing it by a reunion. Did you realize that you were far off? Do you experience salvation as a "being put back together"? To what extent is EVERY Eucharist a re-connecting with this reconstruction process?

Let me know

Friday, June 29, 2012

Intimacy With Jesus - Homily Prep July 1

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at >
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 11:00am and 6:00pm


Through the literary technique of "framing", the author of Mark's Gospel points out to us the importance of "contact with Jesus" to the life of faith. The touch of Jesus, "if only I could touch the hem of his garment". He takes the little girl by the hand - touching.

I am certain that this feature of physical contact with Jesus is the most important lack of faith in the world today. It is the crisis of the impetus of the call for the "new evangelization". What I mean is the lack of desire by the human family to touch Jesus and be touched by him.

The incarnate physical embodied presence of Christ in the church, as Christ instituted it, is the feature of religion most challenged in the world today. The scandals of the church and the over-intellectualization of faith since the Reformation have eroded humanity's ability to find and to seek contact with Jesus in and through the place/person of the church.

In fact, the biblical disciples in conversation with Jesus about the bread of life, found his embodiment to be scandalous, meaning that they "walked away". Likewise, the scandal of the cross is an expression that refers to the in ability of the disciples and of course the Jews to endure the physical embodiment of God in Jesus. They walked away wagging their heads claiming "and this one claimed to be the son of God".

Almost everyone in the world and, I believe, most Catholics do not believe that the church, the institutional, human, embodied, social, divine sacramental body of Christ in the world is a necessary feature of their salvation. Actually, the majority of the people in the world see the church as an obstacle, a pain, difficult, boring, annoying.

In that lies the source of a lack of faith. God is so unable to be effective in the world because of a lack of confidence in and contact with the body of Jesus-the church. Do you feel and experience this lack of intimacy with the body of Jesus-the church? Can our eyes be opened and our hearts opened so that Jesus might touch us again today in and through the imperfect Church? Can we as the limited and imperfect church, his body, re-present ourselves to the world convincingly that they might simply long "to touch the hem of our garments"? It is there that the world will be healed and brought to life!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at >
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 4:00, 9:30, and 12:30

I Am Not He

Remember the television show "what's my line"? A person would present themselves with some sketchy details and a panel of experts would ask questions to determine what it was that this person did. Who is this person? What is his or her "line" of work?

What we do and who we are, role and identity, are at the heart of our human journey and thus our Christian journey. Carl Jung is quoted to have said "a man spends the first 30 years of his life finding out who he is, and the next 30 years finding out who he really is." Our recent high school and college graduates, no doubt, have been confronted this summer repeatedly with the question "so, what are you going to do?" This is the fundamental question of our lives not only who are you but what are you going to do?.

John the Baptist, whose birthday we celebrate on this Sunday, is a man whose life is a solemn celebration of identity and mission: a call. John is icon of identity and mission in God! Knowing who we are and what we are called to do is important and essential to our salvation. Who is God? What is God's mission in the world? Who are we in relationship to the truth of who God is? What role we will play in God's work of salvation!? Those are the basic religious questions we must ask and be asked.

If we have misread the "clues" (read here scripture and tradition, self-knowledge and God-knowledge) then we will misunderstand who we are. If we misunderstand who we are we will not take our proper role in the mission of the kingdom. Look around. It is apparent that we as a people, a culture, a church and as individuals are very unclear about who God is, who we are in God, what God is doing in the world, and how we share in that reality. As the prophetic (read: John the Baptist) mission of the church (read: new evangelization) is less and less effective in reaching the human family so the chance for identity and mission in Christ is threatened. God is frustrated!

Who are you and what are you going to do? Who is God for you and who are you in God? What's your line?! What, in the world, are you going to do?

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 17 Prep

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at >
-I will be speaking at all the masses this weekend regarding the Rooted in Faith campaign.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Corpus Christi Prep - June 10

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 4:00pm and 11:00am

Most sacred Body and Blood of Christ!

Many years ago I attended a house party. As I enter the house the hostess shouted "welcome" in glee. She was carrying a tray full of unidentified morsels. In her enthusiasm she picked up one of these morsels and approached me and said "father, open wide." I was not inclined to take this morsel of food. I said "what is it?" She said "trust me you'll like it."

I took it and as I sunk my teeth into it I realized I didn't like it and I asked "what is it?" She said "froi gras". Well I did not know what froi gras was at the time but I knew I didn't like it. I simply had to swallow.

On this feast of the body and blood of Christ I am afraid that too many of us Catholics are approaching the precious Eucharist with the same attitude. When we realize what it is - in its entirety- we do not like it but we swallow it whole. We move from our first holy Communion very anxious and welcoming to receive the body of Jesus. We welcome Jesus into our hearts.

However, as adults we are called to realize all that the Body of Christ proposes and contains and, quite frankly, we choke. Oh, we receive the sacred host, however we are full of reservations about all that it means for us. Many Catholics today have to swallow hard when it comes to the full embrace of the Body of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ, that is present and signify in the holy Eucharist - His Body.

That is understandable. The difficulty in being people of faith is NOT believing in the miracle of the Eucharist and longing for the grace of salvation contained in the sacred species. The difficulty with being in communion is that we must live in love with the body of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. The body of Christ, the church, is a sacrament in and of itself however it is made up of people. As Charlie Brown is quoted to have said "I love humanity, it's people I can't stand." Too often the thorny, disagreeable, demanding, rule-making, mistake-making, sinful, Body of Christ, human-divine institution, is very distasteful to us. Many of us must swallow hard to remain in communion with the church.

We cannot claim to love the Eucharist and at the same time have reservations about the church. That's what makes it difficult. We are called to recognize in and through faith the presence of Jesus Christ in communion with the church as much and as readily as we recognize Jesus Christ present in the communion of the church we call the Eucharist.

This is the heartbreak of denominationalism in the body of Christ. People protest and leave the church - they do not leave Jesus, at least that's what they say. Quite frankly, it is easy to love Jesus it is almost impossible to be happy with his body, the church. However both are necessary for living a life full of salvation. How are you doing on swallowing the fullness of Communion along with the sacred body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist?

Let me know.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Blessed Trinity Prep - June 3

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at >
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 8:00am and Sunday night at 6pm (NEW!)

The drive-through at McDonald's!

One of my favorite commentaries says this:

"In 28:19, Jesus reveals the inner power of God in three names. The three are listed together (expressing the unity of God) and as equals (expressing the all-powerful nature of each). When believers are baptized in the name of the Trinity, they become intimate with all that God is: God above them (Father), God beside them (Son), and God within them (Holy Spirit). With God so close to the faithful, they become God's instruments."

Whoa! So while the celebration of the Blessed Trinity is all about God we can see that the Blessed Trinity is all about the church. The church is called in the second Vatican Council "the universal sacrament of salvation". So the church is a sacrament! There are eight sacraments then?! I was discussing this with the seventh grade last month. The drive through window at McDonald's became for me the best and most accessible image to discuss what I mean and the church means and what the Trinity is celebrating today. The drive through window at McDonald's is the hole in the wall through which we pass all that is good and valuable(i.e. our money and McDonald's food).

A sacrament is that hole in the wall of reality between this world and the next. If the church is sacrament then we need to apply and understand this definition to the life of the church that we share. The sacrament of the church is the encounter place with God and God's people. We then are members, friends, and instruments of this encounter place - this rendezvous..

So this grace filled communion of the faithful: head and members, announcing the gospel and celebrating the sacraments, is the pass-through or drive-through opening in the wall of reality by which and through which God, divinity, heaven and earth, humanity, you and me encounter one another.

The individual members of the church created in the image and likeness of God, joined in communion with Jesus Christ risen from the dead, and empowered and possessing the Holy Spirit of God (the Blessed Trinity Whom we celebrate today ) are the icons or windows through which God breaks into the world and through which the human family can reach into heaven.

That's a blessed and powerful challenge and mission for us and for each individually. Is that your experience of life in Christ?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pentecost Prep - May 27

-There is no homily from last week
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 5:30 on Saturday and 12:30 on Sunday


The gifts of the Holy Spirit are the actualization or the "understanding" of what it means to "believe in the resurrection from the dead". This Easter has been filled with this do we not only believe, but understand.
To believe in the resurrection is to come to know the resurrected Christ in your heart, the possibility of eternal life, a new horizon and source of meaning in life. To understand what that belief means is to live and move and have our being in that resurrected spirit.

The journey from believing to understanding is conversion. Conversion is the movement and transformation of life lived in the body and in the world. The application of the truth.

This Pentecost Sunday challenges us again to understand "what it means to believe in the resurrection" by living in and making visible the resurrected life of Jesus Christ. That can only be done in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Do you understand? Do I? How's that resurrected daily life going?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ascension Prep - May 20

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be presenting at all the mass this weekend

Rooted in Faith

I am making the public appeal for this campaign at all the masses. "by signs" were they known as his disciples. It's about the church!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Easter VI - May 13, 2012

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 5:30 and 8:00am

Remain, stay, live!

The captivating phrase in this Sunday's gospel text for me is in Latin "manete" which is translated in several different ways: remain or stay or live on. Remain is the preferred English word and it is the one used to translate our scriptures for mass. However I prefer live. "Live on in my love" is the motto of Bishop Pilla who served along time as the Bishop of our church. To Live on in my love is a rather lively translation of the word to remain. There is more than one way to remain.

The translation of the word remain that I do not favor is stay. Staying is a very passive, undynamic, and deadly expression. Think of the many different ways that you might remain or stay somewhere. The inmate must remain behind bars. The patient in the doctors office must remain in the waiting room. The celebrity who is about to go onto the television or to the stage must remain in the green room. The athlete about to come up to bat must remain on deck and the skier about to come down the slope must remain in the shoot.

Many different ways of remaining. If we are instructed to remain in Christ the resurrected One we must have several options. How are you and I remaining in him? Is our remaining a sense of being trapped or imprisoned? Is our remaining waiting with dread of bad news about ourselves? Is our remaining the energized and excited anticipation of the actor or the athlete? Is our remaining that of the incurably ill persons confined to their bed awaiting or remaining in watch for death? Where you are remaining dictates how you will experience life.

Our faith, our life in Christ, our remaining will depend upon what we understand Christ is and what He's doing. What we understand it is supposed to be. Remember, they believed but did not yet understand. Isn't it possible that many of us are remaining in Christ with very little understanding, therefore, very little life in Christ, life animated in Spirit, life lived in the resurrection from the dead? I think so!

What do you think question?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May 6 Homily Prep - Easter V

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at >
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 4pm and 11am

Remain in me! Revolving Door

I am interested in the concept of not simply believing but understanding. This Easter season has been challenging for me to conceive of and express the complexity of Easter faith. While I do not like making things more complicated than they are, I believe simplistic preaching and teaching has led the household of God astray.

Specifically  "Jesus only" preaching that excludes life in Christ and Christ in life. If Jesus's promise to us is that he will remain in us and we are called to remain in him, this notion of Jesus' only purpose is to get me into heaven is really deceiving.

The fundamentalist scheme is two separate believers from the body of Christ, the church. They do this by telling us that what God did in Jesus was simply and historically come down from heaven, die a horrible death, and with his blood forgave my sins so that anyone who accepts this idea (believes) has a guaranteed ticket to heaven when they die. 

This "accepting the idea believing" is insufficient and not completely catholic.  It most specifically and tragically leaves the believer wondering "what would Jesus do?". 

The last time I consulted the Scriptures or the Holy Spirit I was reminded that God is all-powerful and almighty and had long ago, before Jesus died on the cross, created us, the human family, in communion with Him and in communion of heaven.  In fact, that creation in the image and likeness of God is the center of our story of salvation.

The incarnation of God in Jesus, his life, ministry, death, and resurrection did not simply accomplish a necessary task by God on behalf of the human race. What the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus did was to reveal our life in God and to re-establish the fullness of our humanity(read god-likeness) REAL life IN God.  So, Jesus liberates our broken hearts and broken understanding of human life and reveals the fullness of life IN him. Therefore, our human life is changed in its purpose, meaning, and power.

So baptism is not a ceremony in which we become members of the group of people who believe in the good idea that our sins have been forgiven and that heaven is assured for us. Baptism is the entrance and initiation into the spiritual and godly reality, realm, communion with Jesus Christ risen from the dead. This is the one who could not be kept out by the door being locked. This is a life force, a truth, a reality, and we must understand how our lives are lived in it. Remain in the heart of Christ dwelling among us - it is a new and resurrected life.

"Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth". We Catholics do not only BELIEVE in the truth, we belong in the truth of Jesus risen from the dead. It is a passage into deeper communion with the resurrected Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit through the life of the church, understood through the Scriptures and celebrated and made real in the sacraments.  

Wow, I think I understand

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 29 Homily Prep

-last Sunday's homily is available by email
-Sunday's scriptures are available at
-I am preaching at the 4:00 PM Saturday mass the 9:30 AM Sunday

Who are you? Where are you going?

Maybe this good Shepherd Sunday is the obvious opportunity to speak about vocation. Obviousl, the vocation of the priesthood is on the top of mind. However the role or function of vocation in the life of the church is not so obvious.

Last Sunday I offered the parent instruction class for those who are bringing a child to baptism for the first time. One of the three topics for discussion is the actual rite of baptism. I explained that the rite of baptism begins by asking "what name have you given this child?". Then we ask "are you parents ready to lead this child in faith?". The final question is to the sponsors, "are you ready to assist these parents in their role as Christian mother and father?".

We have just celebrated the sacrament of confirmation. At the time of confirmation their is the opportunity and the necessity to identify a name and a sponsor. Since the sacrament of confirmation, in the current theology, is understood as a completion of baptism and/or initiation, young people are invited to recall that they already have a baptismal name and a baptismal sponsor-at least one.

At the rite of ordination, after the gospel is proclaimed, the deacon goes to the ambo and announces the following "for the diocese of Cleveland". Then he says the name "Edward Thomas Estok Jr". The one to be ordained steps forward and says "present"!

What is your name? And where are you going? These two question: identity and leadership strike at the heart of vocation who are you and where are you going?

The good Shepherd, hopefully manifested powerfully in the ministry of the holy priesthood, is the time for us to reflect upon who God calls us to be and where and how God calls us to walk in the world.

As a religious person in 2012 "Who are you? And where are you going? How will you get there?"

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 22-Third Sunday of Easter prep

-Last week's Homily available by email
-Scriptures for this Sunday available at>>>
-I am preaching at the 8 AM and the 12:30 PM mass on Sunday

The devil is in the details!

Can you imagine a young couple falling in love with their perfect house, their dream home? They fall in love with it and they cannot imagine living in some other house-they have to have it! They go ahead to the bank, do the the loan application, and they get approved for their loan. The years begin to unfold month by month and the couple realizes what is actually involved in home ownership: a morgage payment, taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, yardwork, repairs, remodeling, new furniture, baby's room,…

Sooner rather than later, they come to realize that the "idea" of living in their ideal home, the "notion" of their dream house, is a far cry and a distant journey from the actual "reality" of home ownership. If they are going to survive they have to do two things: hang on to the dream AND stick to the day-by-day implementation of their possession. It is in that two-pronged approach to home ownership where the devil lurks.

I am using this imagery of the dream of home ownership versus owning your own home as a metaphor for the difference between believing and understanding, according to the Scriptures. Jesus again is recorded to have opened their minds to understanding the Scriptures. This means or indicates that believing, "having faith", in the fact that "Jesus miraculously triumphed over death and grave and is risen from the dead" is not the full story of faith in our Christian religion. Believing that Jesus was raised from the dead is much different than understanding what God's Word and good news means in our lives, our real lives, our daily human complicated, difficult lives. In fact, the point and the purpose of the gift of faith is to transform our minds into understanding the mind of God and thus "conform" our living to the pattern of his cross.

The devil and the details that are troubling in this regard is that often times for many of us our religion, our faith, has been handed to us as simply a dream-like proposal, a miracle about a future reality, that is supposed to comfort and encourage us to be good - but it has no understanding built into it. To the well-educated contemporary mind this religion appears to be simply an irrational, emotional and disconnected fantasy far from the real world. The stuff that only children and grandmas can get excited about(oh, and there are the fanatics who are crazy about Jesus).

Do we have a faith that simply tells us that "with God everything will be alright in heaven on the last day"? Or do we have the gift of faith, the gift of resurrected life, that is an instrument of God for the opening of our mind to the truth that God intends for us to have and to know and to live in our daily lives? Don't we have faith so that we can figure out our human life in God?

Good question Lord!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mercy Sunday Prep

-Last Easter Sunday's homily is available by email
-The scriptures for this Sunday are at>
-I am preaching at the 5:30 and the 11:00 Masses

Re-creation of Reconciliation

This scene in John's Gospel is the first "communal celebration of the Sacrament of reconciliation". Jesus finds the apostles dead in guilt, fear, and sadness. He breaks into the bomb shelter of their "death in sin".

He extends to them the peace of God - "everything is 'good' between them and God" - shalom.

Then he does something (the word is the same as the creation story) that only God is known for doing: breathing into dead clay and creating a "new life". That is the effect of the healing mercy of God - new life, God-like life, where there was the emptiness and dead of sin. And then he "sends them" to do it again and again.

The identity, means or the mode, and mission of the Church is revealed as breathing the Spirit of Jesus into those who are isolated, separated, and dead in their sins, guilt, and sadness and re-creating them into instruments of mercy, life, and love - the Body of the Resurrected Jesus.

Wow.. Is that what you think you're doing in your Christian life? Or...not so much. Let's get it going.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Triduum 2012

-The homily from passion Sunday/Palm Sunday is not available
-The readings for Easter Sunday are at >
-I will be preaching at holy Thursday evening mass at 7 PM and Easter Sunday mass at 9:30 AM downstairs and 11 AM mass upstairs

Holy Thursday

Are you up to celebrating Christian Passover? This question locates our reflections on Holy Thursday to what in fact Jesus was doing. It is clear that as a Jew, a rabbi, and a teacher that Jesus was celebrating the Jewish Passover meal with his disciples. However, it is also clear to the eyes of faith that he was transforming the experience of the Passover meal for his apostles. Jesus clearly was inviting his apostles and thus the church to experience a new Passover meal, a Passover meal with deeper significance: his saving death and resurrection. He was creating sacrament.

In considering sacrament, Eucharist, and the Last Supper,we must consider the Passover. Jesus had the attention of his Jewish brothers at the Passover meal. He knew that they were reflecting upon and celebrating in faith the liberation of God's people from slavery and death in Egypt by the "passing over" of the houses marked with the blood of the lamb. Thus, the function of the Passover ritual with unleavened bread and cup of blessing is the remembering the freedom from oppression and the new life with God (not the Re-dramatization of the Passover event) .

Jesus lays down on top of the passover in signs and words an anticipation of his saving death and resurrection which liberates the human family from the oppression of death and sin and ushers in the kingdom of God and eternal life in reconciliation with God. Onto the passover bread and cup he imposes and exposes the powerful presence of his own sacrificial life and love, his death and resurrection. He opens up and widens the window of the Passover bread and cup and turns them into access points for the church to be present to his saving grace. So the Eucharist is not simply the miracle of the Last Supper, it is not simply a dramatic and bloodless re-enactment of Calvary, but it is the sacramental sign and thus "access point" to the passing over from death without God to life with and in God through Jesus Christ. Paschal (of the lamb) Mystery!

Sacrament, then, becomes a passing over or passing through in which the believer is introduced into the life of God made accessible and the reality of God, Communion, is inserted into the life of the believer. That is liberating and saving grace. Communion!

Is that what we are doing here? I dont know. Are we simply re-enacting the Last Supper in order to get ahold of the Sacred and miaculous Body of Jesus Christ, the lamb who was slain? I think not. That would be to fall short of God's gift to all of us. What we are called to do in sacrament is to remember - to hear, touch, see, and taste the bread and wine of the new covenantv( now His Body and Blood) - Jesus' passing over from sin and death (which is the realm of this world) to life Eternal in the Kingdom of God - Salvation, Sacrament, grace, Communion.

And it is suppose to change us....every time! Woohoo. That's all I've got to say.

Easter Sunday

See Holy Thursday above. Not much else to say.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Holiest of Weeks

I will be presiding at the 4:00 PM to 8:00 AM and 12:30 PM masses this weekend.

Enter in to the Mystery! Were you there?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Homily prep for March 25th

– the homily from last week is available by email
– The Scriptures for this Sunday are available at>>
– I am preaching at the 12:30 mass only

Hearing in action

I think hearing looks like something! Can you see what is being said?

I am captured by the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews. It is the word obedience or the concept of obedience that has captured my attention in this Lenten time. We are beginning the intensive period of penance and preparation known as the Passiontide.

The word obedience comes to us from the combination of two roots: "ob" "audiere" = to listen to. I am thinking that Jesus' obedience on the cross is "listening in the flesh". I am considering the call to "hear with my life."

It is fully possible to listen to someone and not truly hear what is being said. The concept of hearing is one that carries the response within it. Listening is possibly the intellectualizing of the words, of the concepts, understanding so to speak. But to hear what you're saying in plies that one responds appropriately according to the truth.

The theologians tell us that the cross of Jesus Christ was the end of human disobedience. We can see that Jesus' obedience was hearing the will of the Father, doing the truth in love.

I am wondering how obedient, how well I am hearing the truth of God in my life. Would I look differently if I were truly hearing what God is saying to me, calling me to in my life? Would I be more configured to the crucified Christ if I were perfect in hearing? Is there room for better hearing your life? How so?

Friday, March 16, 2012

March 18 Prep

I am preaching at 5:30, 11:00 and 5:00pm masses

This is Laetare Sunday. Joy. Do you believe that everything about your existence today is "gift of God"? What's not? Why not? How do you decide?

Friday, March 9, 2012

March 11 Prep

-Last week's homily is available by email
-This week's scriptures are available at
-I am preaching at the 4:00pm, 8:00 and 9:30 am Masses

Pixelation! A problem of imagining

All the buzz in the technology world is the rolling out of the New iPad. And the buzz on the New iPad is the retina screen - which I understand means a lot more pixels per inch(points of light and color) that go into the quality of the picture on the screen. Remember in the days we used to worry about dpi's: dots per inch on our matrix printers.

Pixels are electronic dots of color and light that make the images we see on our screens either duller or clearer. The secret of pixels is that the more pixels, points of light, that we put in a square inch of the screen, the richer the image is that we see. Pixels are really invisible, if you know what I mean....we don't see the individual pixels unless there's a problem. When pixels start breaking up, we call that pixelation.

Pixelation is that crazy, choppy, blocky, jerky, thing that happens on the screen that we're looking at. And we can no longer see the image but the difficult pieces that make it up.

The cross of Jesus Christ is the troubling and distracting piece of the self image that God is proposing to the world. For the Jews, they are looking for religious sign, and the Greeks they look for reasonable argument - the cross is stumbling stone and foolishness, weakness, and defeat.

So, the message of St. Paul and of lent for us may be that what we are looking for from God may have everything to do with what it is we find. What I mean is that many Christians look at life in the world, in the family, in the parish, in the marriage, and see only sadness, human conflict, boring ritual, oppressive teaching, emptiness and pain. They may be concluded that the Christian life therefore is not for them, it is not meaningful, it is not the answer or purpose of their lives.

What St. Paul might say to us is, "stop and ask what it is that we were looking for from the life of faith. What did we expect to find in the Christian life? Was that what God had promised?

The cross is the disturbing revelation of the manner by which God is going to save the world.....and we can't see it. Self-sacrificing love really blurs the vision of worldly-oriented eyes. If we are coming to religion so that we can win in the world - then we are going to be pretty disturb, confused, and disinterested in the religion of Jesus.

However, if we are converted to Jesus' religion, the golden rule, the downward mobility of holiness - then the crucified God comes into perfect focus.. We see and then we're saved.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Any Hope Out There?

-Last weeks homily available by email
-This weeks Scriptures available at >
-I am preaching at the 9:30 and 12:30 Masses on Sunday

Anything to be hopeful about?

In our parish lenten mission we were encouraged to understand our journey to God as being lived on four tracks...bodily gratification, ego-satisfaction, care for others, and communion with God. We have to get to God on all four tracks. And, of course, God has not left us alone to make this journey....he has planted his very self at the core of our being. So, we begin with the end in mind.

This presence of God is understood as grace and it is grown in us through virtue. We need the grace and we must build the virtues because the journey to God or holiness is tough. Jesus explained this to his disciples....about the cross and all - and he knew they were "feeling it". What does "feeling" the harshness of the human journey to God mean? Hopelessness!

So, he is transfigured before them. What? He is revealed to them as 1. God and 2. With them! Emmanuel! Well now that's precisely what they needed: to be reminded that in the challenge of human life - the Lord is with us as love, light and life. That's hope. Hope is a principal feature of fortitude. Fortitude is one of the cardinal virtues and is best understood as courage. Foritude is associated with level two and three happiness (ego-satisfaction and caring for others above). So, when we are feeling discouraged, failed, unloved or appreciated, weary in the long struggle of loving others - we need fortitude and it's friend HOPE.

So, regardless of how hopeless things appear, be strong, have faith, see things as they truly are, God is with us, Emmanuel....hope.

Does that make any difference to your difficulty at the moment?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Can You Be Happy With God?

-Last week's homily is available by email
-The Scriptures for this Sunday are at >>
-I will be introducing the Lenten Mission at all Masses this weekend (pray for me)

Drive(driv) vt, 1. to force to go; urge onward; push forward

Mr. Webster's first definition of the word "drive" is at the beginning, the heart, and the base of the Christian life.  I have come to this conclusion from this portion of Mark's Gospel, Chapter 1, in which we are told that following the baptismal experience of the Spirit.... "The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert.".  Think about that.  Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, is subject to the Spirit.  The Spirit moves him and he is subject to the Spirit.  Is that same Spirit the driving force of our lives, our church, our family, our parish?

What drives you? be driven. To go, urge,

The text then reveals that this same Jesus, who is Lord and Master of the Christian life, encountered other and contrary forces that attempt to "drive" him.  In this immediate case, Satan.  Jesus, of course, remains close to the angels of God and he demonstrates to his disciples that we can and must choose which powers, motivations, desires, compunctions, temptations we will submit ourselves to.

What drives you? be driven. To go, urge,

 That's, "Good News"!  Kind of.  What I mean is that Jesus (and we his disciples) are beloved children of God with whom God is apparently well-pleased...happy with us and we with God.  God's desire for us is our happiness....walking under his wings, "ever near to His side" (seasonal responsorial psalm).  This is NOT so Good News inasmuch as we are free and we are tempted to submit to "other" powers as our driving force.  Since Adam and Eve - the temptation has been there, Jesus showed us the "path to life" (seasonal responsorial psalm). 

What drives you? be driven. To go, urge,

Our lifelong call is to continuously submit to the Spirit as the driving force in our lives, that we may "walk ever joyful"  (seasonal responsorial psalm) clinging to the hand of God.  Happiness is God's desire for us - too often we choose to follow those forces that bring us nothing but ultimate unhappiness.  

What drives you?  

Our Parish Lenten Mission 2012 begins this Sunday evening at 7:00pm and we will spend three evenings reflecting upon this call to happiness with the Lord and how the Spirit might more and more be the driving force of our lives.  Mr. Jim Berlucchi will preach and teach, we will have wonderful prayer, and even enjoy the growing spirit of friendship among us through some social time.  

I urge you, prompt you, tempt you, dare you, to allow the Spirit to drive you to our Lenten Mission this year.  What are you driven to do the next three nights?  Come and be free!

Friday, February 17, 2012


Believe what's revealed!

Masses at 4:00, 8:00 and 5:00.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sunday IV - January 29 Prep

-Last week's homily is available by email
-Scriptures for this Sunday at >
-I am preaching at the 4:00pm and the 9:30am

"Without Distraction"

Two week's ago, the Lord Jesus himself turned around and asked those following, "what are you looking for?" Great question and not such a great answer for all of us. What I mean is that the issue or question of our motivation, our desire, what it is that we are seeking is a nagging one at best.

In the eighth grade this week we were talking about sacramental marriage and one young person cried out, "you can't help who you fall in love with". There may be some truth to that claim but we can certainly be sure about "what we are looking for". I begged them not to knowingly choose in a spouse what they were NOT looking for...holiness, heaven, communion.

St. Paul takes this conversation one step further and says that not only should we know what we're looking for "in" a spouse he warns that it may be hard to "share our hearts desire". He warns his listeners to choose carefully what they want in this world based upon how it will affect their "adherence to the Lord without distraction".

So, like last week, I guess there is more than one way to do everything...even be married. If adherence to the Lord is the goal and standard of our lives, then any other thing we voluntarily choose (yes, falling in love is voluntary) ought to be ordered to the first desire of our cling to the Lord without distraction.

This isn't a rule Paul says, it's just smart. It just makes life ordered toward our highest goals. Think back about the most important decisions we have made in life. Did we even think to consider how they would affect our "adherence to the Lord"? Not so much.

I do about you.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jan 22 - Third Sunday Prep

-Last week's homily available by email
-This Sunday's readings available at
-I am preaching at the 11:00 and 12:30 Masses

More than one way to skin a cat!

St. Paul's repeated admonition to do something "as if....." tells me that it is obviously possible (if not expected) to do what we are doing from a new and different perspective. Those who are doing whatever it is, do it "as if" you were not doing it. The crux of the Christian life may very well lie in this "as if" possibility.

What I mean is that as human beings living in the real world we might not be able to completely change our reality - what it is we're doing. However, the power of Christ enables us do to it "as if" we are in Christ, because we are.

Jesus' call of the apostles in St. Mark makes this explicit but we may have missed it as just a catchy trip of a phrase. You fishermen will become fishers of men. There it will be doing the same thing but for a different purpose, different intention, different meaning as if you were Jesus. Because you are.

This is important in our spiritual life, no? Those of you who are it as if you were not dying. Those of you that are grieving, do it as if you are not grieving. Those of you who are winning at this world's game of life, act as if you are not winning. Humility, joy, freedom, peace, these are all possible ways of doing the stuff of life that others do in resentment, fear, and sadness.

There's more than one way to skin a cat. Right?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Second Sunday of the year Prep. 1/15/12

-Homily from 1/8 by email
-Scriptures 1/15 at USCCB .org
-I am preaching at 5:30, 8:0 & 11:00

Destination Theology

"What are you looking for?" It really does determine what you see, what you find and where you end up. Test that aphorism against each aspect of your life. Let me know if it is true for you.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Epiphany Prep 1/8/12

-MMOG homily available by email
-Scriptures for Epiphany at>
-I will preside at 4:00pm and 9:30am Mass


The fact of faith that the Epiphany presents is that the glory of God (read salvation) is not primarily something that we have to seek and find as much as it is someone who comes and finds you. Jesus Christ is not God who sits in heaven and waits for us...He is good shepherd who comes and seeks us in exile and lights us up turning our exile into home.

Do you see yourself in a place of exile and realize that God has come to make it a redeemed "home" for you? Gotcha!