Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Homily for Advent by Origen

Let us examine the scriptural texts foretelling the coming of Christ. One such prophecy begins with a reference to John the Baptist: The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight. What follows, however, applies directly to our Lord and Savior, since it is by Jesus rather than by John that every valley has been filled in.

You have only to recall the kind of people you were before you put your faith in the Lord to see yourselves as deep valleys, as pits plunging precipitously into the lowest depths. But now that the Lord Jesus has come and has sent the Holy Spirit in his name, all your valleys have been filled in with good works and the Holy Spirit's fruits.

Love no longer tolerates the presence of valleys in your lives; if peace, patience, and goodness find a home in you, not only will each of you cease to be a valley but you will actually begin to be a mountain of God.

Among the pagans we daily see this prophetic filling of every valley realized, just as among the people of Israel, now deprived of their former privileged status, we see the overthrowing of every mountain and hill. But because of their offense, salvation has come to the pagans, to stir Israel to emulation.

If you prefer you can visualize these fallen mountains and hills as the hostile powers that formerly raised themselves up in opposition to the human race. Such an interpretation is legitimate because, in order to fill in the kind of valleys we have been speaking of, the enemy powers—the mountains and hills—must be laid low.

Now let us turn to that part of the prophecy which also concerns the coming of Christ and see whether this too has been fulfilled. The text continues: Every crooked way shall be straightened. Each one of us was once crooked; if we are no longer so, it is entirely due to the grace of Christ. Through his coming to our souls all our crooked ways have been straightened out.

If Christ did not come to your soul, of what use would his historical coming in the flesh be to you? Let us pray that each day we may experience his coming and be able to say: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

Jesus my Lord has come, then. He has smoothed out your rough places and changed your disorderly ways into level paths, making in you an even unimpeded road, a road that is absolutely clear, so that God the Father may walk in you and Christ the Lord make his dwelling in you and say: My Father and I will come and make our home in them.

(Homily on Luke's Gospel 22, 1-4: SC 67, 300-02

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Homily for Advent

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ. But there are two comings of Christ. His first coming when he was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem and his second when he will come again in glory at the end of time. And so the Church divides Advent into two parts.

The first part which begins on the First Sunday of Advent and lasts until December 16 emphasizes the preparation for the second coming of Christ. Advent should be a joyful time. A large part of the joy of Christmas is the waiting in joyful expectation for it. If we prepare in the right spirit for Christmas we will not only enjoy our Christmas morning but the time of preparation as well.

Advent should be a time when we renew our Christian commitment. We should seek during this time to deepen our relationship with Christ so that when we appear before him as judge, we won’t hear those awful words "I never knew you. Depart from me into the everlasting flame prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 7, 23)

During Advent, we should seek to find ways to deepen our longing for the second coming of Christ. The early Christians had an intense yearning for it. We pray the Our Father at every Mass asking God that His Kingdom will come. The way to grow in our relationship with Christ and deepen our longing for his second coming is through prayer and the Sacraments. Christ is present in a spiritual way everywhere and so we can pray to him wherever we are. We need to deepen our consciousness of his presence in everything we do. This is what St. Paul means when he says "pray constantly." (1. Thess. 5, 17)

Now, although Christ is present everywhere in a spiritual way, in the Blessed Sacrament he is present in his full human reality - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. In the Holy Eucharist, union with Christ is accessible here and now. We should take time during Advent to come before Christ in the tabernacle to tell him how much we love him. That we trust in him and that we want to be with him. This would be a good time for us all to get back the habit of genuflecting to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament or to start doing so if you never have. So many Catholics walk right by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as if he wasn’t there.

To pray before Jesus in the tabernacle is a good way to increase our desire for union with him in Holy Communion. In this Sacrament we have a deeper union through faith than a husband and wife can have in sexual intercourse. In our union with Christ, it is no longer us who lives but Christ lives in us. By ourselves it is impossible to overcome sin and temptation but with Christ’s help it is possible. In the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we begin to experience union with Christ which will be brought to fulfillment after we die. We need to prepare ourselves for this union as well or else it will become very routine. First of all we should be sure to receive Jesus in the state of grace. This means if we have committed any mortal sins we should go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion. A mortal sin is anything the Church teaches is seriously wrong when the person knows that it is wrong or should know and does it of his own free will. But it's a good practice to go to comfession once each month even if we are not conscious of any mortal sins that we have committed.

It is not true that all you have to do to receive Holy Communion is to make a good act of contrition if you have committed a mortal sin. Also if you are not able to receive you must still go to Mass, and that Mass will still have value for you because you can unite your prayers with the priest’s prayers as Jesus is being offered to the Father. The sacrifice of the Mass is most powerful prayer and you need the help you receive from it to avoid worse sins, overcome temptations and help you get the courage to reconcile yourself to God through His Church as he desires. Like the early Christians, we should have an intense yearning for the second coming of Christ. We don’t know when that will be but we know at least that our personal end would come at any time.

So we must prepare ourselves. If we are prepared then we have nothing whatsoever to fear. To prepare ourselves for Christ’s second coming we must deepen our consciousness of Christ’s presence now in our own lives in the daily comings of Christ - in the disguise of the poor, the unborn child, the sick, the eldely and the handicapped and also under the appearances of bread and wine. Only if we prepare ourselves in this way will we hear Christ’s words "Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 25, 34)

For more information see:

"The Two Parts of Advent":

For the official teaching of the Catholic Church on Christ’s Second Coming see: http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p1s2c2a7.htm

For more explanation of the Catholic teaching on this topic see: Catholic teaching on the end times: http://www.conventhill.com/endtimes/

For an explanation of what the Catholic Church teaches about the “Rapture” see: http://www.catholic.com/library/Rapture.asp

For Bible passages describing Christ’s second coming: http://www.jesusiscoming.com/Scripture.htm


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pro-Life Homily for the Feast of Christ the King

The Feast of Christ the King is always on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time at the end of the liturgical year. The readings during Mass over the past few weeks have reminded us that we need to be prepared, because one day we will die and will have to give an account of our lives before Christ, the Just Judge (Romans 14, 12), who will reward those who have done good in this life and punish those who do evil (Matthew 25, 31-46). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Cor. 5,10). Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word of God through whom all things exist. Christ is the King of all creation. He is also the master of human life. Only God has the power to give life. Only he has the right to choose to take an innocent human life to him.

One day Jesus will return to this earth, but his second coming will be different than his first. Many were not prepared for his first coming and rejected him. He deliberately left the time when he would return unclear, so that in every age people would prepare themselves spiritually to be ready for his return (Mark 13, 35-37). He told us that we must always be prepared because we don’t know the day of the hour (Matthew 25, 13). Will we be prepared when he comes to judge the living and the dead?

When Jesus first came to this earth he was vulnerable, meek and obscure. He took on flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was born as a Babe in Bethlehem. (Luke 1, 26-38)
When he comes again he will come in power and Glory (Matthew 24, 30).

At his first coming very few paid him homage (Matthew 2, 1-11).
At his second coming every knee shall bend before him (Romans 14, 11)

When he came to Bethlehem the door of the inn was closed to him (Luke 2,7).
When he returns The Book of Revelation describes the heavens opening and Jesus coming as King of kings and the Commander of an enormous army. (Rev. 19, 11)

His first coming was a secret. It was announced to only a few people (Luke 2, 8-20).
But when he comes again every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will mourn over him (Revelation 1, 7).

He came first as a meek and humble servant. He was rejected, endured suffering, humiliation and death (Phil. 2, 5-11).
When he returns, he will return as Judge to pass judgment on all who rejected him (Hebrews10, 30-31).

At his first coming cruel soldiers put a crown of thorns on his head (John 19, 2).
When he comes again he will wear a crown of gold (Rev. 14, 14).

He first came to this earth to give an opportunity for all people to enter into his kingdom including the good and the bad (Matthew 22, 1-14).
When he returns he will separate the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares. Those who did good will be rewarded, but those who have done evil will be punished (Matthew 13, 24-30: 25, 31-46).

The first time he came he said his kingdom was not of this world (John 18, 36).
When he returns he will exercise his power over the nations (Revelation 2, 26).
He came first as our Savior (John 3, 16-17).
He will return as a Merciful and Just Judge (Matthew 25, 31-46).

When he first came to this world Jesus warned us that his kingdom was not of this world (John 18, 36). Christianity has been criticized by outsiders for focusing so much of people’s attention on the next world that we have little concern about improving life here on this earth. Karl Marx called religion “the opiate of the people” since it he said that it distracted poor people from rising up against unjust social structures that kept them in poverty.

But in the Second Vatican Council document Gaudium et Spes(#39) the Church teaches us:

“… while we are warned that it profits a man nothing if he gain the whole world and lose himself (Cf. Luke 9:25), the expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one. For here grows the body of a new human family, a body which even now is able to give some kind of foreshadowing of the new age.

Hence, while earthly progress must be carefully distinguished from the growth of Christ's kingdom, to the extent that the former can contribute to the better ordering of human society, it is of vital concern to the Kingdom of God.( Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931), p. 207.)

For after we have obeyed the Lord, and in His Spirit nurtured on earth the values of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, and indeed all the good fruits of our nature and enterprise, we will find them again, but freed of stain, burnished and transfigured, when Christ hands over to the Father: "a kingdom eternal and universal, a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace."( Preface of the Feast of Christ the King.) On this earth that Kingdom is already present in mystery. When the Lord returns it will be brought into full flower.”

Christians need to be advocates for the weak and the marginalized in a whole host of areas, but the greatest issue of social justice today is abortion, because it attacks the very right to life itself which is the condition for enjoying every other right.

Here is an excerpt from Mother Teresa’s speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway in 1979:

“But I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing, direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the scripture, for God says very clearly: "Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have curved you in the palm of my hand." We are curved in the palm of his hand; so close to him, that unborn child has been curved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget, something impossible - but even if she could forget - I will not forget you.

And today the greatest means, the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And we who are standing here - our parents wanted us. We would not be here if our parents would do that to us.

Our children, we want them, we love them. But what of the other millions. Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing between."

I had the privilege of meeting Mother Teresa twice. She gave me “her business card”. On it was written: “The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.”

We prepare for Christ the King to come again through prayer and working for justice in this world. Mother Teresa showed us all the importance of the dignity of each and every human life created in God’s image and likeness. She also showed us the importance of keeping our eyes fixed on heaven while caring for the least fortunate among us.

Here is an excerpt from Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Families on February 2, 1994:
“Our faith tells us that Jesus Christ, who "is seated at the right hand of the Father", will come to judge the living and the dead. On the other hand, the Gospel of John assures us that Christ was sent "into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (Jn 3:17). In what then does judgment consist? Christ himself gives the answer: "And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world... But he who does what is true comes into the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought by God" (Jn 3:19, 21).

Recently, the Encyclical Veritatis Splendor also reminded us of this. Is Christ then a judge? Your own actions will judge you in the light of the truth which you know. Fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, will be judged by their actions. Each one of us will be judged according to the Commandments, including those we have discussed in this Letter: the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Commandments. But ultimately everyone will be judged on love, which is the deepest meaning and the summing-up of the Commandments. As Saint John of the Cross wrote: "In the evening of life we shall be judged on love". Christ, the Redeemer and Bridegroom of mankind, "was born for this and came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of truth hears his voice" (cf. Jn 18:37). Christ will be the judge, but in the way that he himself indicated in speaking of the Last Judgment (cf. Mt 25:31-46). His will be a judgment on love, a judgment which will definitively confirm the truth that the Bridegroom was with us, without perhaps our having been aware of it.

The judge is the Bridegroom of the Church and of humanity. This is why he says, in passing his sentence: "Come, O blessed of my Father... for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me" (Mt 25:34-36). This list could of course be lengthened, and countless other problems relevant to married and family life could be added. There we might very well find statements like: "I was an unborn child, and you welcomed me by letting me be born"; "I was an abandoned child, and you became my family"; "I was an orphan, and you adopted me and raised me as one of your own children". Or again: "You helped mothers filled with uncertainty and exposed to wrongful pressure to welcome their unborn child and let it be born"; and "You helped large families and families in difficulty to look after and educate the children God gave them". We could continue with a long and detailed list, including all those kinds of true moral and human good in which love is expressed. This is the great harvest which the Redeemer of the world, to whom the Father has entrusted judgment, will come to reap. It is the harvest of grace and of good works, ripened by the breath of the Bridegroom in the Holy Spirit, who is ever at work in the world and in the Church. For all of this, let us give thanks to the Giver of every good gift.
We also know however that according to the Gospel of Matthew the Final Judgment will contain another list, solemn and terrifying: "Depart from me... for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me" (Mt 25:41-43). To this list also we could add other ways of acting, in which Jesus is present in each case as the one who has been rejected. In this way he would identify with the abandoned wife or husband, or with the child conceived and then rejected: "You did not welcome me"! This judgment is also to be found throughout the history of our families; it is to be found throughout the history of our nations and all humanity. Christ's words, "You did not welcome me", also touch social institutions, governments and international organizations.”

For More Information:

For the full text of Mother Teresa’s speech accepting the Nobel Prize in 1979 see: http://nobelprize.org/peace/laureates/1979/teresa-lecture.html

For the official teaching of the Catholic Church on Christ’s Second Coming see: http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p1s2c2a7.htm

For more explanation of the Catholic teaching on this topic see: Catholic teaching on the end times: http://www.conventhill.com/endtimes/

For an explanation of what the Catholic Church teaches about the “Rapture” see: http://www.catholic.com/library/Rapture.asp

For Bible passages describing Christ’s second coming: http://www.jesusiscoming.com/Scripture.htm

Jesus will come “in the sight of all the people”.: http://www.cynet.com/jesus/PROPHECY/sight.htm

For The full text of Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Families in 1994 see:


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Memorial of St. Leo the Great November 10

St. Leo’s family was from Tuscany, but he was born in Rome in the year 440 AD. He was a deacon under St. Pope Celestine I and later Pope Sixtus III. St. Leo was sent to make peace between two disputing Roman generals, Aetius and Albinus, when their feud threatened to leave Gaul vulnerable to invasion by barbarians.

He was still in Gaul when he was sent word that he had been elected the Successor of St. Peter. He immediately showed extraordinary skill as a pastor and preacher. Ninety-six of his sermons are still in existence. In his sermons he explained Christian doctrine, especially the Incarnation. He also stressed almsgiving and other social aspects of Christian life. He also dealt with the heresies of Manicheanism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Priscillianism which was becoming a problem in Spain and Monophysitism, the heresy of Eutyches.

143 letters written by him and 30 letters written to him are also still in existence. In them we see him quashing the proceedings of St. Hilary, the Bishop of Arles in Gaul who was exceeding his authority. In one letter he confirms the authority of Anastasius, Bishop of Thessalonica over the bishops of Illycrium. On another occasion he asks him to be more tactful and considerate. On another he reminds him that bishops have a right to appeal to Rome, ”according to ancient tradition”. In another letter he forbade the appointment of laymen as bishops, or any man who had been married twice or married a widow.

St. Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople, excommunicated Eutyches an abbot of Constantinople. Eutyches appealed to St. Leo the Great. St. Leo wrote to St. Flavian explaining that Eutyches had fallen into error. In attempt to avoid the heresy Nestorius, Eutyches denied the two natures in Christ. Christ is a Divine person with a human and divine nature. Eutyches denied that Christ shared our human nature.

A council was now called by Emperor Theodosius supposedly to look into the matter, but it was packed with friends of Eutyches including Dioscorus, the Patriarch of Alexandria. At the council St. Flavian was condemned and beaten so badly that he later died of his injuries. The council was nicknamed “The Robber Synod”. The Popes legates were not allowed to read St. Leo’s letter. As soon as the proceedings became known to the Pope, he declared the synod null and void. In a letter to Emperor Theodosius he wrote “Leave the bishops the liberty of defending the faith: no worldly power or terrors will ever succeed in destroying it. Protect the Church and seek to preserve its peace that Christ in His turn may protect your empire.”

Two years later a general council was held at Chalcedon in which St. Flavian was vindicated and Dioscorus was declared, excommunicated and deposed. On June 13, 449 St. Leo had written St. Flavian a letter which became famous as “The Dogmatic Letter” or the “”Tome of St. Leo”. When the letter was read at the Council of Chalcedon, it contained such a clear explanation of the Divine and human nature of Christ that the Bishops exclaimed “Peter has spoken by Leo!”

Pope Leo the Great won the great respect of all when he turned Attila the Hun away from the city of Rome. In the year 452 Attila invaded Italy. He savaged the cities of Aquileia, Milan and Pavia. When he turned toward Rome the population of the city was in panic. The Empoeror Valentinian III and the Senate ordered him to negotiate the enemy. At once he set out to meet Attila with Avienus the consul and Trigetius the governor of Rome. The Pope spoke with Attila and convinced him to take an annual tribute rather than entering the city. Rome was safe for the moment, but it wouldn’t last for long. Three years late Genseric the Vandal appeared before the walls of Rome which was practically defenseless. This time St. Leo was not as successful. He was however able to restrain Genseric from slaughter and burning the city and to be satisfied simply with pillaging it. After fifteen days the Vandals left Rome. They took an immense booty and prisoners back to Africa.

St. Leo immediately set about repairing the damage done by the Vandals. He tried to replace the vessels and ornaments of the plundered churches and had alms sent to assist the captives in Africa. Only two other Popes have been given the title “the Great”, they are St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) and St. Nicholas I the Great (d. 867).

St. Leo the Great died on November 10, 461. He is buried at St. Peter’s Basilica. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1754. St. Leo had a very even temperament and remained calm even in the most difficult moments. He served as Pope for twenty-one years. During this time he won the respect of all, the rich and the poor, Roman and barbarian, emperors, laymen and clergy.

His Anglican biographer, Dr. Jalland, summed up his character by extolling “his indomitable energy, his magnanimity, his consistency and his simple devotion to duty.”

The information above comes mostly from Butler’s Lives of the Saints.

For more information on St. Leo the Great see the following:






Letters of Pope Leo the Great:



The Tome of St. Leo: http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-14/Npnf2-14-94.htm

A fresco by Raphael of St. Leo’s encounter with Attila the Hun: http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/r/raphael/4stanze/2eliodor/4meetin.html

Eutyches: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05631a.htm


Homily for November 9 Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran

The Basilica of St. John Lateran was one of the first churches built by Christians after the era of persecution during its first three centuries ended. The original Church built on the site was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324 and given the name “Our Savior.”

A council against the Donatists was held at the Basilica in 313 even before it was consecrated. From that time on it became the Cathedral of the City of Rome and the place where Popes lived. The Pope no longer lives there, but it retains its distinction as the Cathedral of the Popes. Hence the following title is written on its walls "Omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater, et caput" which means “the mother and head of all churches of Rome and the world".

Why are churches so important? If our prayers can be heard anywhere as we believe, why do we need churches? Before there were churches, God made his presence known to Moses in the “Tent of Meeting” in the desert. There Moses spoke with the Lord as with a friend. A cloud would descend upon the tent as a special sign of God’s presence. When Solomon finished the construction of the Temple, he acknowledged God’s presence everywhere but he prayed “Whatever people shall pray for in this place, You will hear them and show them your mercy.” Solomon’s prayer of the Dedication of the Temple is recorded in 1 Kings 8, 22-53.

In the Jewish religion, the Feast of Hanukkah or the “Festival of Lights” celebrates the memory of the purification and re-establishment of worship in the Temple after Judas Maccabeus defeated the Greek army that had defiled the Temple. 1 Maccabees 4, 52-59 recounts the consecration of the altar. On this feast candles or lanterns - the symbols of the law are placed in the windows of the home to commemorate the anniversary. So also Catholics celebrate the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Individual parishes throughout the world also celebrate the consecration of their churches.

The prophet Ezekiel wrote during a period of exile. He dreamed of returning to his home in Israel and especially to the Temple. The Temple was seen as the House of God. God was at the center of life for the Jewish people. The image of the Temple in Ezekiel prefigures Christ and his Church. Ezekiel had a vision of water flowing from the Temple giving abundant life to the valley below, even to the arid, lifeless region around the Dead Sea(Ezekiel 47, 1-12).

We are called to give respect to the physical Church as the sign of God’s presence among us, to the Church made of living stones – the People of God who have been baptized who are united under the Pope as the successor of St. Peter who share our common faith, and we are called to respect our own bodies as the Temples of the Holy Spirit. We need to refrain from anything that would defile all three.

We need to have a greater spirit of reverence when entering a Church, toward other human beings who are made in the image and likeness of God and for our bodies as Temples of the Holy Spirit.

Reverence is practiced first by recognizing that a Church, especially when the Blessed Sacrament is present, is more than a space where we gather. It is the house of God. It should be a place where the ordinary hustle and bustle of life stops and we focus our attention on the Lord. The Church teaches us that we need to prepare to receive Jesus in Holy Communion by fasting for at least one hour before receiving.

Jesus is truly present in the tabernacle in his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. We acknowledge his presence by genuflecting before the tabernacle. We should take care to arrive at the Church early, not simply to socialize, but to prepare our hearts through silent prayer. We should also try to spend time in Church after Mass to thank God and visit the Church outside of Mass when we have an opportunity. Even a short time spent in prayer can help us continue our work with renewed strength, joy and peace.

St. Paul teaches us that the members of his Church form the Mystical Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12, 12-28). This reminds us that we come to God not simply as individuals, but as a community. The Church is not a purely human institution, it also has an element of the divine.

Pope John Paul II said “The mystical Body is as strong as the degree to which the members adhere to their Head and the measure to which they ‘grow’ in him toward ‘the fullness of Christ’. In and through the Church, ‘the dwelling place of God in the Spirit’, the Lord is glorified by virtue of the spiritual sacrifices of the ‘holy priesthood’ of the faithful (1 Peter 2,5). The Lord’s kingdom is thus established in the world.” St. Paul also said “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3, 16)

We tear down the Church by sin, unfaithfulness and disobedience to the laws of God, destructive habits, lack of charity, laziness, indifference, slander, gossip, lack of forgiveness, envy, etc.. We build it up by faithfulness and obedience to the will of God, love prayer, corporal and spiritual works of mercy, diligence, generosity, etc..

Rededicate yourself to holiness and the Lord will use you to purify and sanctify his Church and build up the Mystical Body of Christ - the Church.


Any readings taken from the Common of the Dedication of a Church (LFM 701-706)

Preaching for Life

Rejected Stones Deserve our Love

The Church is built of living stones. So when we celebrate the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, mother of all Churches, we celebrate the Church universal.

That Church is made up of living, breathing men and women, each endowed by God from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death with the dignity of the children of God. It matters not how big the stone, how strong or prominent the stone, it still makes up the Church.

Christ, the cornerstone, was rejected by the builders, and all who seek him will find him in the stones that everyone else has rejected. How blessed we are to be called to make up the household of God!

Reflections for Life

In fact, while the climate of widespread moral uncertainty can in some way be explained by the multiplicity and gravity of today's social problems, and these can sometimes mitigate the subjective responsibility of individuals, it is no less true that we are confronted by an even larger reality, which can be described as a veritable structure of sin. This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable "culture of death." This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency. Looking at the situation from this point of view, it is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another. A person who, because of illness, handicap or, more simply, just by existing, compromises the well-being or life-style of those who are more favored tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of "conspiracy against life" is unleashed. This conspiracy involves not only individuals in their personal, family or group relationships, but goes far beyond, to the point of damaging and distorting, at the international level, relations between peoples and States.

—The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II, no. 12.

The following is from chapter 5 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

The Church Building

§ 16 § Just as the term Church refers to the living temple, God's People, the term church also has been used to describe "the building in which the Christian community gathers to hear the word of God, to pray together, to receive the sacraments, and celebrate the eucharist." That building is both the house of God on earth (domus Dei) and a house fit for the prayers of the saints (domus ecclesiae). Such a house of prayer must be expressive of the presence of God and suited for the celebration of the sacrifice of Christ, as well as reflective of the community that celebrates there.

§ 17 § The church is the proper place for the liturgical prayer of the parish community, especially the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday. It is also the privileged place for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and reservation of the Eucharist for Communion for the sick. Whenever communities have built houses for worship, the design of the building has been of critical importance. Churches are never "simply gathering spaces but signify and make visible the Church living in [a particular] place, the dwelling of God" among us, now "reconciled and united in Christ." As such, the building itself becomes "a sign of the pilgrim Church on earth and reflects the Church dwelling in heaven." Every church building is a gathering place for the assembly, a resting place, a place of encounter with God, as well as a point of departure on the Church's unfinished journey toward the reign of God.

§ 18 § Churches, therefore, must be places "suited to sacred celebrations," "dignified," and beautiful. Their suitability for worship is determined by their ability through the architectural design of space and the application of artistic gifts to embody God's initiative and the community's faithful response. Church buildings and the religious artworks that beautify them are forms of worship themselves and both inspire and reflect the prayer of the community as well as the inner life of grace. Conversely, church buildings and religious artifacts that are trivial, contrived, or lack beauty can detract from the community's liturgy. Architecture and art become the joint work of the Holy Spirit and the local community, that of preparing human hearts to receive God's word and to enter more fully into communion with God.

For more information on the Basilica of St. John Lateran see:




For pictures of the Basilica of St. John Lateran:

Exterior: http://jesuit.ls.luc.edu/~yost/photogallery/Complete/johnlat2.JPG

Interior: http://www.breviary.net/images/churches/lateran10.jpg

Exterior and Interior: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.breviary.net/images/churches/lateran10.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.breviary.net/propsaints/propsaints11/propsaints1109.htm&h=595&w=463&sz=47&tbnid=ENLv6PsrAGwJ:&tbnh=133&tbnw=103&hl=en&start=18&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbasilica%2Bjohn%2Blateran%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26sa%3DG


Monday, November 07, 2005

Retreat in Ars, France

St. John Vianney inspires retreatants from the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ

“In the Cure of Ars, we have an incomparable guide. He remains for all an unequalled model both of the carrying out of the ministry and of the holiness of the minister.”
Pope John Paul II

Who better to comment on priestly holiness than our beloved Pope John Paul II? In his 1986 Holy Thursday letter to priests, he cited St. John Vianney, or the Cure of Ars as he is more popularly known, as the model for priestly service and holiness. Explaining the remarkable attraction of John Vianney, Pope John Paul II wrote to his fellow priests: “What attracted them (the faithful) to him was not merely curiosity nor even a reputation justified by miracles and extraordinary cures, which the saint would wish to hide. It was much more the realization of meeting a saint, amazing for his penance, so close to God in prayer, remarkable for his peace and humility in the midst of popular acclaim, and above all so intuitive in responding to the inner disposition of souls and in freeing them from their burdens, especially in the confessional.”

John Vianney’s is a remarkable, indeed even improbable, story. With just two years of formal education before entering seminary, he struggled in his studies and it was only through the good sense of his bishop and the constant support and prayers of his pastor that John Marie Vianney was ordained a priest in 1815. Soon after, he was sent to the remote little village of Ars, situated along the Rhone River, a 30-minute drive from Lyon, France. His assignment was to one of the poorest, most run-down parishes in the diocese and it was there that he would exercise his priestly ministry over the next 40 years.

When he arrived in Ars, John Vianney found little religious practice and much indifference among its inhabitants, prompting his bishop to warn the young priest, “There is not much love of God in that parish; you will put some there.” Did he ever! His work as confessor, catechist and his holy example brought about a spiritual renewal that touched not only the people of his small parish but all of France and beyond. By the time of his death in 1859, over 100,000 people a year visited Ars, waiting days to go to confession to him and to listen to his simple preaching and catechetical instruction. The man who started his life as one who very few thought would ever amount to anything became, by the time of his death in 1859, the vehicle for thousands of conversions.

Just four years after his canonization in 1925, Pope Pius XI named him “Patron Saint of Parish Priests.” Ars has now become a major shrine in France, visited by over 500,000 pilgrims a year. Among them was a young Polish priest, Fr. Karol Wojtyla, who visited Ars in 1947. The next time he visited was in 1986 as Pope John Paul II, when he give a three-part meditation and homily on the essential role of the priest as the one who makes the work of salvation present everywhere in the world.

With the priestly model of St. John Vianney in mind, 33 priests, deacons and seminarians from the Pontifical North American College in Rome set off for Ars during Easter Week to make a retreat under the direction of Newark priest Fr. Frederick Miller. The retreatants included Fr. Peter West, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, Deacon Philip Sanders of the Archdiocese, and myself, an Archdiocesan seminarian who will be ordained to the Order of Deacon in October. The retreat was held at the Foyer Sacerdotal Jean Paul II, an international seminary built at the urging of Pope John Paul II after his 1986 visit.
The theme of the retreat was “The Holy Priesthood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Exemplified in the Life of Saint John Vianney, Patron of Diocesan Priests” Addressing himself above all to those who would soon be ordained to the priesthood, Fr. Miller focused on exploring the dignity and duties of the priest, as one who is configured to and acts in the person of Jesus Christ. The retreatants heard meditations on Jesus as the Good Shepherd, on the ministry of the Word (evangelization, preaching, teaching), on the ministry of reconciliation, on the mystery of the Eucharistic sacrifice and the central role of the Eucharist in the priest’s life, as well as the prayer life of priests and the priest’s devotion to Mary.

The retreat also included daily Mass at the altar where the incorrupt body of St. John Vianney rests. By the end of the retreat, all of the retreatants felt themselves more prepared to exercise the ministry of the priesthood and they now had a new model in St. John Vianney, a wonderful example of how God works through those who dedicate their lives to Him and who seek to do His will. As Pope John Paul II said, “What an example of courage for those who today experience the grace of being called to the Priesthood!”

Left to right: Rev. Mr. Philip Sanders, Rev. Peter West, Brian Needles and Rev. Frederick Miller in St. John Vianney’s parish church in Ars, France.

Priests, deacons and seminarians from the Pontifical North American College in Rome at the altar of St. John Vianney.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Homilia en Español por la Fiesta de Cristo Rey Juan 18, 33-37

Fiesta de Cristo Rey
Juan 18:33-37
Domingo November 27, 1991 La Iglesia de Santa Catalina, Hillside New Jersey
Ciclo B #162

Estoy usando incenso por la solemnidad de Cristo Rey. Recordamos que los tres magos trajeron regalos de oro incienso y mirra. Regalos apropiado para un Rey. Incienso es un simbolo de nuestros oraciones subiendo a Dios. Pedimos que Dios bendiganos; y los regalos que vamos ofrecir a El.

Este es mi primero vaz ofreciendo la misa en espanol. Invoco los nombres de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe y San Miguel Pro cuyos ultimas palabras fueran "Viva Cristo Rey" ayudame. Y quiero dar gracias a todos mis amigos hispanos por me ensenando especialmente mi maestra Teresa Rodriguez.

Y yo pido sus oraciones que mejoro en espanol y crezco en santidad.

En la proxima frase del Evangelio Pilato dice "Verdad? Que la verdad?" Hay mucho informacion historical sobre Poncio Pilato. Rigio al procurador Romano de Judea en el sur de Israel. Rigio debajo del gobernador de Syria, quien fue debajo del emperador. Durante su reinado del ano veinteseis al treinta y seis sus obligaciones primarios fueron administrator haciendas y cobrar impeustos por el tesoro imperial.

Su tratamiento de los judios fue insensitivo y frecuentamente cruel. Tuvo no talento grande y es recordado en historica casi enteramente por que de su papel en el muerte de Jesus.

La pregunta de Pilato a Jesus "Eres tu el Rey de los Judios?" es recordado en todo de los cuatro evangelios. De este pregunta podemos ver que la acusacion oficial contra Jesus por los sacerdotes jefes fue que Jesus queria ser un Rey en oposicion al autoridad del emperador. Actuamente no tuvieron mucho respeto por el emperador, pero tuvieron sus razones propios por deseando Jesus muerte que es protegir su posiciones a lideres del Judios.

La pregunta de Pilato fue peligroso. Una repuesta imprudente pudo ha resultado su condemnacion a un revolucionario. Jesus eventualmente contesta su pregunta muy directamente. Si, es un rey pero un rey da un tipo muy diferente que Pilato imagina. Su reino no es da este mundo. Su mision entero es testificar a la verdad. Todo son cometido a la verdad oyen a su voz.

Aparece que Pilato es el juez de Cristo. Pero en realidad la situacion es a lo contrario. Jesus hace a Pilato que hace a cada uno de nosotros. Cristo nos fuerza decidir para El o contra El. Pilato como nosotros sera juzgado por su decision aceptar o rechazar Cristo a la verdad eterna quien ha entrado este mundo a un hombre.

Pero Pilato no puede comprender importancia de la situacion. Su alma es nublado de la casas de este mundo. Pilato trata escapir responsibilidad como mucho gente hoy. El pregunta un pregunta que muchos filosofos falsos pregunta hoy "Verdad, que es la verdad?"

En negando el facto que hay verdad objectiva, un realida en fuero su mismo, no solamente en su mente pero que el y otros pueder saber. En negando esta o negando que no puede solar que es la verdad, la fata de Pilato es determinado.

Debemos tomar el cuento de Pilato a un aviso. Tenemos que busca por la verdad activamente y entonces aplica lo o nuestros vidas imediatamente cuando lo encantramos.

Jesus la verdad eterna es todavia entre nos. Jesus prometio mandar el Espiritu Santo a su iglesia para guiar la en la via de verdad. Cristo no nos ha abandonado Caminar en tinieblas, no sabiendo que es correcto o que es malo. Mucho veces es muy dificil para nos saber que es la verdad por nuestros mismos. Porque Cristo supo este, establacio su iglesia para nos ensenar que es la verdad y que es falso.

Cristo continua nos ensenar que necesitamos sabes para nuestro salvacion por el Papa y los obispos en comunion con el. El Espiritu Santo protege los contra ensenando errores en asuntos de fe y moralidad. Pueden ser pecadores muy grande y puederir a infierno pero por el bien de la iglesia no pueden ensenar error. No es un regalo dado sacerdotes or instructores de catecismo solamente a el Papa y los obispos en comunion con el. Y este regalo de infalibilidad no es solamente cuando el Papa es usando su autoridad extraordinario, pronunciando una ensenanza "ex cathedra." Aplica al ordinario ensenanza diario de la iglesia. Necesitamos tratar aprender que nuestra iglesia ensena. Educacion es necesario no solamente para jovenes pero para adultos tambien.

Algunos algunos ensenenzas de la iglesia podemos encontrar dificil poner en practica. Particularmente por jovenes en el area de sexualidad y matrimonio. Pero siguiendo los nos traera felicidad en cielo y la paz que viene de conciencia limpia y con union con Cristo, cuando tratamos nos mismos a templos santos del Espiritu Santo. La paz y la felicidad que es un gusto de nuestras vida futuro en cielo si somos fiel a Cristo Rey.


Homily Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Matthew 25, 14-30

A talent was not a small coin, but weighed 100 ponds and was made of gold or silver. One silver talent would be worth about $1940 today.

The message of the parable is the need to respond to God's grace by making a genuine effort throughout one's life. God has given us gifts by nature and grace and he expects us to use them in his service and for the service of others. It doesn't matter how many gifts we have received. What matters is our generosity in putting those gifts to good use.

We must live no longer for ourselves, but for Christ. We need to dig up our buried talents and put them at his service.

Jesus chose to outline his teaching on the response to grace by using the example of men at work. This is also a reminder that our call to serve God is lived out in the context of our ordinary affairs that are done well and for the glory of God.

We must discover God in our ordinary everyday life. We should seek the hand of the invisible God at work in visible and material things. There is no other way. We should not look for great signs and wonders for assurance we are on the path to God. Instead, we can see confirmation of our faith by recognizing the goodness of God providing for our needs each day. We must strive to live out our vocation with a strong faith, hope and love for God and our neighbor, recognizing that one day we will stand before God and have to give an account of what we did with our lives.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

November 3rd Memorial of St. Martin de Porres

November 3rd Memorial of St. Martin de Porres

St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru in 1579. His father was a Spanish knight and his mother was a free black woman from Panama. Martin’s parents never married and Martin and his mother were left to take care of themselves. Martin was exceptionally generous to the poor. In fact, his mother thought he was “too generous”. She would send him to the market to buy things for them and Martin would give the money to the poor. His mother punished him for this, but he took it without complaint.

When he was eight years old his father returned to Lima and saw that he went to school. He had just two years in school. He also an apprentice to a barber in Lima. At that time barbers also served as surgeons. He gave medicine and other gifts to the poor and began to become known for miraculous healings. At the age of fifteen he answered the call to a higher state in life and became tertiary helper of the Dominican Convent of the Holy Rosary.

He became a model of humility, hard work, prayer and penance. St. Martin had a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist and would often spend hours in prayer before Jesus present in the tabernacle. He began to become more widely known for his charity to the poor and the sick. St. Martin begged more than the equivalent of $2000 per week to feed more than 200 people every day to the least of God’s people. He helped people who were discriminated against including Indians, Blacks, the sick and the dying.

St. Martin was known to have performed great miracles including bi-location. He mysteriously aided Christian captives in Africa. He was also seen ministering to sick and the poor in Mexico, China and Japan, all the while remained in Peru. St. martin also had the ability to forsee the future.

He erected an orphanage to take care of poor and abandoned children. Like St. Francis, St. Martin also had a great love for animals. He set up a shelter for stray dogs and cats and nursed them back to health.

He died at the age of 60 on November 3, 1639. At his death there was a great outpouring of grief in Lima and the surrounding countryside. Miracles took place at his tomb.

St. Martin was beatified in the year 1837. He was canonized by Pope John XXIII who named him the patron of interracial justice.

St. Martin reminds us that there is no such thing as an unimportant person. He saw the image and likeness of God in each and every human being and treated them with dignity and respect. We ask him to pray for us to do the same; to help us to always be mindful of the poor and to work for the defense of each and every human life, no matter what stage or condition from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.

The following is from a homily by Pope John XXIII on the canonization of St. Martin de Porres

The example of Martin's life is ample evidence that we can strive for holiness and salvation as Christ Jesus has shown us: first, by loving God "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and second, by loving your neighbor as yourself."

When Martin had come to realize that Christ Jesus "suffered for us and that he carried our sins on his body to the cross, he would meditate with remarkable ardor and affection about Christ on the cross. He had an exceptional love for the great sacrament of the Eucharist and often spent long hours in prayer before the blessed sacrament. His desire was to receive the sacrament in Communion as often as he could.

Saint Martin, always obedient and inspired by his divine teacher, dealt with his brothers and with that profound love which comes from pure faith and humility of spirit. He loved men and because he honestly looked on them as God's children and as his own brothers and sisters. Such was his humility that he loved them even more than himself, and considered them to be better and more righteous than he was.

He did not blame others for their shortcomings. Certain that he deserved more severe punishment for his sins than others did, he would overlook their worst offenses. He was tireless in his efforts to reform the criminal, and he would sit up with the sick to bring them comfort. For the poor he would provide food, clothing and medicine. He did all he could to care for poor farmhands, blacks, and mulattoes who were looked down upon as slaves, the dregs of society in their time. Common people responded by calling him, "Martin the charitable."

He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: 'Martin of Charity.'

It is remarkable how even today his influence can still move us toward the things of heaven. Sad to say, not all of us understand these spiritual values as well as we should, not do we give them a proper place in our lives. Many of us, in fact, strongly attracted by sin, may look upon these values as of little moment, even something of a nuisance, or we ignore them altogether. It is deeply rewarding for men striving for salvation to follow in Christ's footsteps and to obey God's commandments. If only everyone could learn this lesson from the example that Martin gave us.

For more information see http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintm02.htm

See also "St. Martin de Porres Father of the Poor" by Theo Stearns T.O.P. available from New Hope Publications (270)325-3061.


Homily for Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A, Matthew 25, 1-13

The main lesson that Jesus gives us today is to be alert. We must keep the flame of faith alive in our heart. This flame is lit with the oil of charity and prayer; charity performed through and for the love of God.

It was a great honor for the bridesmaids to be chosen to members of the bridal party, but not all the members were ready when the Bridegroom came. Their lamps were going out of oil.

The Bible often uses the symbol of a Bride and Bridegroom to symbolize the love between God and his people; between Christ and his Church. As a Bride becomes one flesh with her Bridegroom, so Christ, the Divine Bridegroom becomes one with his Church. He sacrifices himself for her, even to the point of offering his life for her. All the members of the Church form part of that Mystical Body. In this Gospel the Church is also symbolized by the whole bridal party. We are reminded of what Christ says in another Gospel passage that many are called, but few are chosen. (cf. Mt. 22, 14)

The Gospel reminds us that we not saved automatically simply by being members of the Church. Unless we are striving for holiness we can’t hope to enter the Kingdom of God. In his document Dominus Iesus, written when he was the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Benedict XVI teaches us the following:

“22. With the coming of the Saviour Jesus Christ, God has willed that the Church founded by him be the instrument for the salvation of all humanity (cf. Acts 17:30-31).90 This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism “characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good as another'”.91 If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.92 However, “all the children of the Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results, not from their own merits, but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in thought, word, and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be more severely judged”.93 One understands then that, following the Lord's command (cf. Mt 28:19-20) and as a requirement of her love for all people, the Church “proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life”.94”

We must keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts through prayer, reception of the sacraments and works of charity, especially towards those who are least among us, so that when Christ calls us, and we never know when that time will be, we'll be ready to enter his Eternal Kingdom to take part in the Great Wedding Feast.

See the following links for more comentary on the parable of the foolish virgins:





For Dominus Iesus see: