Thursday, May 30, 2013

Three reasons why marriage is unique

          Ok, so I'm very late in posting my homily from last weekend.  It's kind of heavy lifting, but give it a shot.  I think that it reads better than it preaches, so perhaps this is a better medium for it.

(P.S. Doug and Jenny... I hope you don't mind me using you as an example!)


Homily: Trinity Sunday – Cycle C
          As human persons, we all know love in some way, and we know that love always involves at least two things: someone who loves and an object being loved.  Further, I would guess that most of us can tell the difference between the superficial love we have of things, such as coffee, chocolate, or a delicious steak, and the love that we have for other people.  I would even venture to say that those of us self-styled as “pet lovers” would still be able to distinguish between the love we have for Snoopy, Rufus, Fluffy, and Mr. Pickles and the love we have for our wives, our husbands, our children, and our close friends.  We recognize that the deepest, most authentic love is something that is shared equally, and that even the most loyal dog or loving cat, or even the most decadent slice of Ghirardelli chocolate cheesecake, cannot return our love to us as equally as we can give it.  Thus, for us to say that “God is Love” should strike a chord in us.
          Throughout the centuries, many theologians (most notably Saint Augustine) have come to the realization that for God to be perfect, he must be love, because there is nothing more perfect than love.  And that for God to be love, fully and completely within himself, there must be a plurality of persons within the one, singular Godhead.  If there wasn’t, God would have to go outside of himself in order to love, which would mean that at best he would be someone who loves, but that he couldn’t be love itself.  But God is love in himself, as Saint John reveals to us.  What this means then is that God somehow—mysteriously—must be more than one person, otherwise he couldn’t be love—fully and completely—in himself.  Still further, for love to be perfect it must be shared between persons who are equal to each other.  Since God is perfect, the persons who are somehow mysteriously within the Godhead must both be perfect, otherwise the love that is God would be incomplete, which is impossible, because he is perfect.  Confused yet?  So am I.  Let’s see if we can bring this closer to home.
          When Jenny loves her husband Doug, she does so “perfectly” (inasmuch as she can, since none of us can really do anything perfectly, per se).  This is because the love between two people who are married is a love between equals, a man and a woman, a husband and a wife; that is, two people.  Because Doug and Jenny are equal, Doug can receive the perfect love that Jenny gives completely and he can return his own perfect love to Jenny, which she can receive completely.  Now when Doug loves his cat Smokey, he does so “imperfectly” (though I’m not sure Doug would agree with me on this one).  This is because love, in order to be perfect, must be shared by equals.  Obviously Doug and Smokey are not equals; Doug is a human being created in the image of God and Smokey is a cat, created to be at the service of man (if you don’t like that, don’t get mad at me… take it up with God).  This doesn’t make Doug’s love for Smokey any less real, but it does make his love less than perfect, because Smokey cannot fully receive Doug’s love—that is, he can’t know it for what it is—and he certainly cannot return to Doug his own love, at least not in the way that we understand love.  I would venture to say that all of us understand this: that love, in its most deep and authentic form is the love between persons, between equals.  Yet, there is still something even more wonderful here.  In the human world, perfect love is always between two persons who are different beings.  In God, amazingly, awesomely, mysteriously, perfect love is between persons within himself.
          While this image of the “perfect” love between husband and wife does a lot of work towards making the Trinity comprehensible for us, there is still something missing.  Let’s continue by stating something that we might think is pretty obvious: that if God is perfect love within himself, he must be supremely happy.  Just as Doug and Jenny know that with their perfect married love, they need nothing else in this world to be happy (besides God, of course), so God, because he is perfect love within himself, needs nothing else to be happy.  Did you hear that?  God needs nothing else to be happy, not even us.  Even if God hadn’t created anything, he would still be perfectly happy in the perfect love that he is in himself.  Sounds kind of selfish, doesn’t it?  Well, rest assured, it is.  Love between two people that is closed off from being shared with others is self-serving; in a sense, the couple is “hoarding” the delight of their love all for themselves.  For love to be perfect, and if it is to be the highest level of happiness that one can experience, there must be a “going out to another,” that is, an openness to being shared.  In other words, the perfect delight that results from perfect love would not be possible if a) the two were not open to sharing that delight with a third and b) if there wasn’t a third person to share it with.  This sharing is what certain theologians have called, “fellowship.”  And just as the two who love must be equal in order for love to be perfect, the third, in order to fully share in the delight, that is, the fellowship, of the two, must also be equal to them.
          Doug and Jenny were having difficulty conceiving a child.  This was a great burden for them because their married love literally ached for there to be a third person, equal to them, who could fully participate in the delight of their love.  After a while, they decided to get a puppy, Daisy.  They knew that Daisy could never participate fully in their delight, but their desire that there be fellowship in their family was so great that they were willing to compromise with an incomplete fellowship until God’s will granted them the grace of a more perfect fellowship in having a child (which he did, by the way, giving them a baby boy, George, last year).  For God, however, this isn’t a problem.  We know that he is perfect love.  And so we know that he is a plurality of equal persons in himself.  And, thanks to the work of various theologians, we know that this plurality of persons must be three: the One who loves, the One who is loved, and the Fellowship of their love; that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
          I know that this has been a lot to take, but there is one last thing that needs to be said.  There is good reason why the example of Doug and Jenny works here, because the very nature of a family, formed by the marriage of a man and a woman, is itself an image of the Trinity.  And it is in the differences, differences which are complementary, between a man and a woman that makes this image possible.  Just as the differences between the Father and the Son complement each other and make possible the outpouring of love that literally begets the Holy Spirit (a begetting that would not be possible if it were “the Father and the Father” or “the Son and the Son”), so to the differences between men and women complement each other to make possible the outpouring of love that begets, that is, co-creates with God, a child, a person equal in dignity that delights in the fellowship of love with his or her mother and father.  Anything else, quite frankly, is a knock-off: it’s artificially creating something God never intended.  Can co-equal love exist outside marriage?  Sure.  But it cannot be marriage, and therefore an image of the Trinity, if the possibility of total self-giving, to the point of the natural creation of another, does not exist.  To think otherwise is to fall victim to original sin: believing that we can have it our way, instead of adhering to the wisdom with which God created the world (the Wisdom that spoke to us in our first reading today).
          My brothers and sisters, marriage truly is “Unique for a Reason”: because when we truly live it out according to God’s plan it draws us into a mysterious participation in the life of the Trinity and it also witnesses the mystery of that life to the world, which is of great value.  Objectively, that is, scientifically speaking, marriage (as God has defined it) is good for us, for our children, and for our society and therefore ought to be defended from any attempts to alter its nature, attempts that are occurring right now in our country.  Let us, then, courageously come to its defense: for in doing so we will not only be defending the good for ourselves, but we will also be giving glory to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.
Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – May 26th, 2013

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The "grace of orders" (aka: the Holy Spirit)

So after a sad week in which we commended to God my dear friend Fr. Scott Carroll, I spent last weekend back in Jeffersonville, IN, where I had done my 2-year internship during seminary.  While my pastor thought I was crazy for taking my weekend off and going to cover masses for someone else, I found it to be a rather relaxing and somewhat refreshing weekend.  I had wanted to return there to celebrate Masses of Thanksgiving since I was ordained and this was the last chance that I would have to do so.  It also turned out to be rather fortunate as Fr. Tom had developed a pretty serious back issue that made it pretty painful to stand for long periods of time.  Since he also ended up with two funerals and a deanery youth Mass that weekend, he was pretty happy to see me when I showed up on Saturday!

The rest of this week has been an attempt to rest and relax with my folks in Illinois.  I'm not sure if I can say that it is deserved, but it is definitely needed!

I hope that you'll enjoy my homily for the Solemnity of Pentecost that I preached in Jeffersonville this weekend.  PEACE!


Homily: Pentecost – Cycle C

Please let me say again what a joy it is to be here with you all to celebrate these Masses of Thanksgiving for my own ordination last June, especially today as your own Archdiocese celebrates the ordination of three men to the priesthood!  Add to that the announcement of your new pastor and you all have more than enough reasons to be excited (…and perhaps a little frightened) this weekend.

Back in the seminary, one of the priests on the formation staff named Fr. Ron spoke to us often about what it would be like to transition from the seminary into priesthood and parish life.  He repeatedly quoted a certain bishop (whose name I can’t quite remember) who described the transition in this way: he said, “Leaving the seminary and entering the priesthood and parish life is kind of like leaving the hospital and having all of your IVs pulled out at once.”  What this bishop was implying was that there are many support systems built into seminary life (structured prayer schedule, ready-made food, and plenty of mentors and guides) that simply aren’t part and parcel of the life of a parish priest.  And so to leave the seminary is literally like “pulling the plug” on many of these support systems.  And if a new priest is not prepared for that, it can actually “shock” his system somewhat.

In my own transition out of the seminary and into parish life, I can attest to the fact that there is a lot of truth in this bishop’s admonition.  My first assignment is to All Saints Parish in Logansport, Indiana, a town that I had perhaps driven through one time, but in which I did not know anyone and which was at least an hour’s drive from any of my close friends.  Oh, and did I mention that I had to start speaking Spanish almost from the moment that I arrived?  Even though everyone was very welcoming and assuring, it could not change the fact that I felt like I was very much alone as I made this transition.

Nearly eleven months after ordination, however, I can say that I’ve weathered the storm pretty well, so far.  There have been lots of challenges and new and exciting experiences, and many moments when I was about to enter into a new situation feeling like I might make a complete mess of it all, which turned out to be very beautiful.  As I reflected on all of these situations, I realized that there is one very real aspect of what we describe as the “grace of ordination” that has helped me through it all: and that’s the promise of the Holy Spirit.

In our Gospel reading for today, Jesus tells his disciples that “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”  In many ways this is the same promise that the seminary makes to each man as they send them forth to be ordained, and it is the promise that every bishop makes to them as he ordains them.  It’s as if they are saying, “We’ve done our best to teach you everything, but there will inevitably be things that we could not have fully prepared you for.  But don’t worry because the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will teach you everything and remind you of all that we have told you.  After eleven months of priesthood, I can say that this promise certainly rings true.

This promise, however, isn’t limited to the newly ordained transitioning into parish life.  Remember, the Gospel tells us that “Jesus said to his disciples…”  Therefore, this promise is for all of us and especially when we are experiencing any big transition in our lives.  This could be individually, as we transition from single life to being married and then from married life to having children.  It can also be when we are moving from college into the working world, or if we are changing jobs or even careers.  So, too, once all of the children leave the house and we transition back to the “solitary married life” or when we transition from working into retirement.  But it could also be a communal experience, like the one that the Catholic Community here in Jeffersonville is about to embrace in the transition from one pastor to another.  In all of these cases Jesus’ promise remains with us: that the Holy Spirit would be with us to teach us and remind us of what it was that he told us.

The danger in each of our vocations, however, is becoming too comfortable in how we are living it out, because when we become comfortable, we start to close in on ourselves.  We think, “I have this all figured out and now I can just cruise from here.”  What this does, however, is close us off to the voice of the Spirit and we start to get stale.  After a while this staleness can lead to disillusionment and apathy.  How many people do we know who have said “Well, there’s not much I can do about it now, so I guess I’m stuck here.”  But it’s precisely in these moments that the Holy Spirit is most available to us and when it is most likely that he is waiting to show us a new avenue—or a new aspect of our vocations—that he is calling us to embrace: perhaps something that will take us out of our comfort zones and move us towards a place we never imagined we would go.

My brothers and sisters, times of transition can be exciting times; but they can also be scary.  More than anything, however, they are chances to shake off the cobwebs of our routine lives and wake up to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit moving us once again: the Spirit who Jesus promised to his disciples nearly 2000 years ago and who has remained with the Church ever since; guiding her and each of her individual members even to this day.

And so today let us give thanks for the great gift of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit; and let us renew our trust in his presence and guidance in the life of the Church.  Let us also, however, renew our trust in his presence and guidance in each of our lives so as to joyfully embrace all that the God wishes to give us.  My brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit is alive and well in the Church and in this parish.  Perhaps it’s time for us to let him loose once again.

Given at Saint Augustine and Sacred Heart parishes: Jeffersonville, IN
May 18th & 19th, 2013 – the Solemnity of Pentecost

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Somewhere... out there...

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord.  What a great day to know that Jesus - the one mediator between God and man - has ascended into heaven in bodily form and now stands at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us forever.

In the midst of this joy, there has been challenges.  I lost a dear friend this week, Fr. Scott Carroll, to cancer.  Fr. Scott and I began seminary together.  Even though he dropped back a year because his diocese (Toledo) required that he take a pastoral year, we remained close and I looked forward to having a priest friend close by that I could "get away with", when I needed a break from the good work God has called me to do.  He was scheduled to be ordained on June 22nd, but earlier this week it became clear that he wouldn't make it that long (even though Fr. Scott always hoped that he would) and his bishop ordained him on Wednesday.  Less than 48 hours later he died peacefully at home.  I will write more about this good man later.  For now, I look forward to celebrating his life and giving thanks to God for it on Tuesday at his funeral Mass in Toledo.

Fr. Scott, you are a priest forever.  Rest in peace.

In your charity, please continue to pray for his repose and for comfort for all who mourn his loss.


Homily: The Ascension of Our Lord – Cycle C

Now, I don’t know about all of you, but for me, the feast of the Ascension has always been a bit mysterious.  Not necessarily in the facts, of course.  Those are pretty straight forward.  Jesus finished instructing his disciples after his resurrection and then was taken up, body and spirit, into heaven where he is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.  The mystery for me, rather, is in what the Ascension means for us.  Compared to some of the other great mysteries of our salvation, the Ascension leaves me with something intangible, something somewhat difficult to get in touch with.

Take the incarnation for instance.  The Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, for us and for our salvation, humbled himself to become one of us, a human person.  This is something I can get in touch with.  Every time I celebrate the beauty of a newborn life, every time I am delighted by the coo of a little baby or a toddler’s joyful outburst of laughter, I get in touch with the awesome mystery of God’s humility, that the God of the universe would lower himself to become vulnerable like us and place himself at the mercy of his creatures.

Or how about the mystery of Christ’s ministry on earth?  That one’s easy to get in touch with.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, shows us what it means to be human, to be created in the image of God as male and female, to be created to be in communion with each other and with God.  The narratives in the Gospel give us ample material to help us see how Christ demonstrated for us how we are to live as brothers and sisters.  There is a lifetime of fruitful meditation that can be made on this mystery alone.

Then, there’s Christ’s Passion.  No doubt that since the release of Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ few of us would have difficulty getting in touch this great mystery.  I personally have never escaped a viewing of this film without feeling the tinge of guilt knowing that our Lord was willing to suffer and die so that I, even in my sinfulness, might be made clean.  And if you’ve ever heard the sound of a clump of dirt hitting the top of a casket of a loved one, then you know what Mary and the others felt when the stone closed over Jesus’ grave on Good Friday.

Always linked to Christ’s Passion is the mystery of the Resurrection, where sorrow of death was converted into the joy of new life, literally overnight.  We have touched the joy of the resurrection whenever we’ve tasted the bitterness of despair but then were surprised by a miracle that turned the situation around.  Yes these are all great mysteries of the faith that I can immerse myself in, plumbing the depths of them and letting them soak into my bones.

Today, however, the Church presents us with the feast of the Ascension, when Jesus, in his glorified human body, is taken up into heaven.  Now, let’s think about that for a second.  What we are saying—which is what Scripture reveals to us—is that Jesus, in bodily form, exists somewhere… out there… To me, that is just a bit mysterious.

As I think about it, however, I start to realize that, in fact, the Ascension reveals something remarkable.  In order to see it, though, we have to look beyond the Ascension itself.  We have to look at how it fits into the bigger picture.  In two weeks, we will celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity and I think if we start there, we can see just how awesome the mystery of the Ascension is for us.

The great mystery of the Trinity is that God is perfect love within himself.  He does not need to go outside of himself for anything.  He is complete: the Lover, the Loved, and the Love in one divine nature.  Because he is perfect love in himself, he needs nothing outside of himself: not us, not the universe, nothing.  Yet, out of his goodness and his desire that others should share in this perfect communion of love, he created the universe and gave us the privileged place in it for the sole purpose that we might freely choose to enter into his perfect communion of love.

In our freedom, however, we chose against him and separated ourselves from him forever.  He never forgot us, though, and in the fullness of time, he sent his Son to become one of us in order to make possible again our communion with God.  Saint Athanasius summed this up beautifully when he said that “God became man so that man could become God.”

After his death and burial, Jesus rose in a glorified human body.  His resurrection was not just spiritual, but corporal, that is, bodily.  And when he returned to the Father in heaven, he did so in that same glorified human body.  Do you realize what that means?  It means that Jesus now dwells forever in the pure act of love that is the Trinity in a glorified human body.  The Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, has always and forever dwelt in the Trinity in spiritual form (even while he was incarnate on earth), but now, since the Ascension, he dwells also—somehow, mysteriously—in bodily form, and not just any body, a glorified human body.

My brothers and sisters, this is a reason for great rejoicing!  As humans here on earth, we know how difficult it is to experience true communion with another person.  This is because all of our expressions of unity must be mediated through our bodies.  A handshake, a hug, a kiss, giving gifts and saying things like, “I love you.”  These are all ways that our communion with others is expressed, but also limited because we have bodies.  Christ’s ascension, however, promises us that our bodies, once glorified, will no longer be a barrier to communion, but rather a conduit, a means for entering into perfect communion with God.  Now that’s something that I can get in touch with.  Yet the Ascension is more than that.

The Ascension is not just about Jesus returning to heaven to mount his throne where he lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit forever—which is an awesome mystery in itself.  But it is also about how much more God desires to give us.

If Jesus remained with us here on earth, let’s be honest, it would be pretty amazing.  We know how wonderful it is to have Christ-like people in our lives and in our world.  Just look at what an impact Blessed John Paul II had on our lives.  I could only imagine how much more wonderful it would be to have Christ himself, in his glorified human body, here with us today.  Yet that would only be a fraction of what God truly longs to give us.  Remember those words of Saint Athanasius: “God became man so that man could be made God.”  Although it was not necessary for him to do so, Christ returned to the Father in bodily form so that we, who can only come to him in bodily form, could also enter into his perfect communion of love.

My brothers and sisters, the lesson of the Ascension is a lesson in letting go.  On the day of his resurrection, Jesus told Mary Magdalene, “Stop holding onto me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.”  Forty days later, his disciples would need to let go of his bodily presence among them so that they could be open to being filled with “the promise of the Father,” the sending of the Holy Spirit that was spoken of in the first reading.  As we enter this last week of the Easter Season and anticipate the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, perhaps we can spend some time examining our lives and identifying some things that we need to let go of so that we can make more space for the Gift of the Holy Spirit.  In doing so, we will not only make ourselves ready to fulfill Christ’s commission to “go and make disciples of all nations,” but we will also prepare ourselves for that great day when we will be welcomed, body and spirit into the communion of love that is God, the communion that in a few moments we will receive sacramentally here from this altar.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – May 12th, 2013

Sunday, May 5, 2013

It all starts with communion...

I had a very joyful experience yesterday as I celebrated the Mass of First Communion for about 30 kids.  It was so beautiful to see them come forward and receive Jesus for the first time in the Blessed Sacrament.

Today I was (finally) able to complete the degree exemplifications in the Knights of Columbus.  I had been stuck at First Degree for years, but am very happy and proud that I am now a full-fledged Knight.  If you or someone you know is looking for a way to connect in a deeper way with his parish and with other men striving to live out their baptismal call as men in the Church, then the Knights of Columbus is where they need to be.  Here's the link to the Supreme Council's website:

All of this had me thinking a lot about communion as I prepared my homily for today.  May God bless your week!


Homily: 6th Sunday of Easter – Cycle C

You know, I find it kind of interesting how we came to be as a nation.  If you look at it (from a very high vantage point, of course) you can see that, at least on the surface, no one living in the original thirteen colonies in the middle 1700’s wanted to break away from British rule.  Nevertheless, as the British government continued to enact laws and ordinances that many of the colonists considered to be unjust, there arose a movement among them towards declaring independence from Great Britain.  Had they remained a loosely banded group of individuals, however, the movement would have never gotten anywhere.  Instead, they formed a congress that could speak with one voice to the King of England and, when their demands for just treatment under British law were ignored or flatly denied, could declare their independence from England and form a new nation.  In a sense, it was as if they had realized that the only way that they could maintain individual freedoms, was to bind themselves to each other so as to speak and act as one body.

In many ways, this was not unlike the movement of the Early Church towards independence from the Jewish religious laws and customs from which it emerged.  The first Jewish Christians saw this “Jesus movement” as an extension/renewal of Judaism and, thus, they continued to follow the Law of Moses as they embraced the Risen Jesus as Messiah and King.  Some maintained this so closely that they believed that all non-Jewish believers would have to submit themselves to following the precepts of the Law: especially the Law of circumcision.  Given the incredible success that Paul and Barnabas (along with others) were experiencing in converting non-Jews, however, this proposed obligation seemed to be an excessive burden that wasn’t consistent with what Jesus had taught.  Besides, it would also be rather constrictive: only men can be circumcised, right?  And so where would that leave the women who came to believe in Jesus’ power to save them?  Thus, as the Scriptures tell us, “a great dissension arose among them,” and, as a loosely banded group of believers, they realized that they needed to form a “congress” (if you will) in order to address and solve this problem.

Certainly, this is not something that is foreign among believers even today.  There is no shortage of issues that Christians face in this day and age that haven’t already created a considerable dissension among us.  And while the Church has already issued definitive statements about many of these, there are other issues that the Church hasn’t made any over-arching, definitive statements on that still create division among us.  For example, let’s say that a Catholic came down from Lafayette and walked into the church and said that all politicians who support abortion should be denied communion.  I suspect that there might arise some dissension among us as to whether or not this would be an appropriate move to make, and if the Catholic Church was just a loosely banded grouping of parishes formed on the individual preferences of each of the parish’s members, then it doesn’t seem like we would have much recourse to resolve the problem, does it?  And I suspect that one of the first things we might do is call up some of the other parishes to see what they were doing, perhaps even getting a group of representatives from each of the parishes—particularly the elder members of the parishes—together to discuss and pray about how we could resolve this problem.  In other words, we’d probably form a “congress” of some sort; almost as if it was a natural thing to do.

Going back to the Early Church, we notice just how confidently Paul and Barnabas went off to Jerusalem to try and resolve this problem.  It seems that they didn’t allow this dissension among them to cause them to despair or any desire to break away from the Jewish-Christian community.  Rather they engaged it, traveling to Jerusalem to meet with the other Apostles and elders of the Church there.  Why could they do this?  Well, I believe that it’s because of the peace that they received from Jesus.  In the Gospel Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.”  This was no ordinary peace.  The peace that Jesus was talking about was not just the absence of conflict—thus distinguishing it from the pax romanum, which was only a “peace” from war, because Rome had conquered all of the world’s powers—rather, the peace that Jesus gave was a confident hope that allowed them to see beyond the difficulties and conflict to the peace of the resurrection: the peace of eternal rest.  And so, with this confident hope Paul and Barnabas traveled to Jerusalem to meet with the other Apostles trusting one other thing: that Jesus’ other promise would also ring true that the Holy Spirit would teach them everything and remind them of all that Jesus had told them.  In other words, although there was dissension among them, they had peace because they knew that Jesus had promised them the help of the Holy Spirit and that he could be relied on—that is, when the Apostles “congressed” together—to help them resolve this crucial question.

My brothers and sisters, with charity and trust that this same peace and this same grace of the Holy Spirit have been given to us, we, too, can resolve all of the conflicts that arise among us.  You know, the Apostles made rational decisions about these conflicts; decisions that were informed by their faith.  Certainly, we can do the same, but only if we allow Jesus’ peace to fill our lives and, thus, bring us a sense of calm in the midst of turmoil.  So that, when dissensions arise among us, we’ll have confidence to submit ourselves to the faith of the Church, which has been handed down to us from the Apostles through their successors, the bishops.  This peace is a peace that withstands dissensions, because it is the peace of knowing that all will be definitively resolved when Christ returns.  And this trust in the faith of the Church is a trust that comes from the guarantee that it will remain true in every age by the grace and help of the Holy Spirit.

You know, I was blessed to be able to participate in the National Day of Prayer service that was held at the county government building last Thursday.  In it, the new pastor of River of Life community, Keith Kincaid, noted in his message that our Founding Fathers did not begin writing our nation’s constitution with the words “I, the person…” but rather that they had used the words “We, the people…”, indicating that this was not a declaration of loosely banded individuals, but rather that it was a declaration of a people united in thought and spirit.

My brothers and sisters, as individuals there will always be dissension among us.  As Church, however, (that is, as we become “we”, instead of a grouping of “me’s”) we are able to transcend our differences and discern the movement of the Holy Spirit who reminds us of what Jesus taught us and teaches us how to interpret it for our lives today.  So how do we begin?  Well, it all starts with communion.  As we approach this altar to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, we demonstrate our willingness to become more “we” than “me”, and we effect that communion when receive its transforming grace, the grace that actually makes us the “we” we desire to be.  Trusting, therefore, in the peace given to us by Christ let us confidently come forward, giving thanks for the grace of the Holy Spirit that has led us here today and with hearts ready to be sent forth as instruments of this communion in our world today.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – May 5th, 2013

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The National Day of Prayer: Prayer of Repentance

       I gave this prayer as part of the National Day of Prayer in Logansport this morning.  It was a nice experience to pray with so many other men and women from our area and for our nation, that it may truly be as "great" as it so often claims to be.


National Day of Prayer: Prayer of Repentance

LORD, WHO ARE WE AS A PEOPLE, having been given blessings in portions as no other nation before us?  What has become of us, Father?  We have spoiled your spacious skies with buildings and cities breathing with sin.  The amber waves of grain are no longer viewed as our blessing but as our due.  The awe and reverence due You when we gaze upon the purple mountains and their majesty is no longer held; rather, how much pleasure they can give us.  Father, we have spurned You.  We’ve blamed our problems on those who promote darkness, but You have revealed yourself to us through Your Son.  Now our eyes have been opened by Him.  Our lack of holiness, our not being light has allowed darkness to prevail.  Indeed, our sins which we wrongly view as small have allowed those in darkness to commit great sins without shame.  We now realize that it is because of our failings as Christians.  Father, Samuel told your people, “It is true you have committed all this evil, still you must not turn from the Lord, but worship Him with your whole heart. For the sake of His own great name, the Lord will not abandon his own people.”  Father, we come before You with our whole hearts and ask You to grant us the pardon won for us by your Son.

Jesus, we do not deserve to even be heard, yet we know Your passion merits that we are.  Lord Jesus, we call You as You have called us.  Please, intercede before God to forgive us, to heal us, to heal our families, and to heal our nation.

Father, grant Your Son’s intentions and hear His pleas for us. We know you are justly irritated with us but we beg and plead for forgiveness through our repentance from our hearts.  We realize our nation is headed toward disaster by so many signs You have given us.  Holy, Holy, Holy God, grant Your Son His requests that we may again be your people, not a nation above God but one nation humbled and under God.  Amen.

Adapted from the “Prayer to Heal America” by A Friend of Medjugorje

Given at the Cass County Government Building: Logansport, IN
May 2, 2013 – The Memorial of Saint Athanasius