Friday, August 17, 2018

From luxe to lean

After the fancy meal I prepared for the seminarians on Tuesday (and leftovers thereof on Wednesday, this was Thursday dinner:

Along with this I threw some frozen green beans in the micro, with some butter, garlic and red pepper, and I had a can of diet pop with this. I prepared these chicken pieces with olive oil, and generous amounts of garlic powder, red pepper, black pepper and coarse salt. If I have oregano, I will use that. Cook for about an hour at 350 degrees, give or take. I really judge it by the look of the chicken. This is pretty easy and tasty and the leftovers will make several more meals. If you live alone, this is a pretty painless way to do this. If I weren't avoiding carbs (mostly unsuccessfully of late), I could have put some rice in the pan below with a little chicken broth; with the drippings on top of it, that would have been out of this world. If you like other flavors, like Cajun or Chinese or Jamaican, Indian or barbeque, that would work just as well.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Dinner: Beef Wellington by Gordon Ramsey

Every year I have seminarians working in the parish for the summer, and the Solemnity of the Assumption serves as a kind of farewell dinner; as well as an opportunity to get out the best china and so forth and have an elegant meal. So yesterday, I was busy getting things together. I decided to attempt Gordon Ramsay's version of Beef Wellington. (Here's a video.)

First, one issue I have with Mr. Ramsay is that if you look up his videos, you'll see he doesn't always do it the same way. For example, the written recipe linked above calls for cooking the mushrooms with some olive oil; but then in the video, he doesn't do that. But overall, I was able to follow his lead and it worked pretty well.

Since I was having four seminarians over for dinner, I decided I needed to make at least two of the Beef Wellingtons, and to be sure there was enough for seconds, I made a third. On Monday I got everything I needed at the store.

Beginning yesterday, I wrapped the meat into little packets. Ramsay suggested doing it overnight; I was planning to, but forgot; so I ended up chilling them for several hours yesterday. Honestly, I'm a little unclear about what this accomplishes. Ramsay says it gives them "shape," but as far as I can tell, the shape was unchanged from how they came from the store.

Next I prepared the mushrooms. I used the food processor as Ramsay suggested -- with trepidation. I've not had success with it; but I'm sure that's because of my lack of skill. One of the seminarians had a helpful suggestion, and it worked! So the mushrooms were nicely chopped down, but not completely turned to mush as I feared. Ramsay emphasizes really getting out the moisture, and I kept cooking and cooking. I was a little nervous about burning things, so I probably could have done it at a higher temperature; and based on how things ended up, I probably could have cooked them a little longer than I did.

I try to clean as I go. The pile on the left also includes some breakfast dishes, but it's mostly this project. It's still early!

The menu included mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. Since we were planning dinner to follow the 5:30 PM Vigil Mass, I had to get as much ready beforehand as I could. So I decided to wash, peel and cut up the potatoes beforehand. At Ramsay's suggestion, I cut up the potatoes into roughly even pieces; I hadn't thought of that before.

Here are the mushrooms cooked down. After they sat on the counter for a bit, I noticed yet more water, which I soaked up with a paper towel. Several times. Only later did I realize I could have simply returned them to the pan.

Next I made the red wine sauce. The Kroger butcher didn't have any "trimmings" left from the fillets, so he offered me some pieces of chuck roast. I cut them up further and used them for the sauce. I decided not to triple the amount of sauce I made, and I'm glad I didn't; we didn't use up what we had.

In case you are wondering, yes, the mushrooms and this both smelled wonderful. And, again, I was being cautious with this, so it likely took me longer. Ramsay suggested straining this sauce, when finished, through cloth. I didn't do that; I just used a colander. It ended up looking like not much sauce, so I strained out some of the shallots and added them back into the sauce. In fact, there was more than enough sauce when dinner time came. Still, I liked the look of the sauce with the shallots in it. This was my first deviation from Ramsay's directions.

I might explain that there were pauses between all this when I attended to other parish business. But, yes, this project did have me in the kitchen for several hours. Here is the puff pastry, right out of the box. I let it thaw for about 30-40 minutes before I rolled each one out, and then returned them again to the fridge. I ended up needing three of these, so I gave the fourth to one of my staff members, because I had no idea what to do with it.

When the time came to assemble everything, I was rushed for time -- Mass time approaching! -- so no pictures. I tried my best to do everything as Ramsay suggested, but I didn't manage exactly. First, the pieces of meat I had were fatter and shorter than what he works with in his videos. As a result, the ham-and-mushroom layer didn't quite encircle two of them. Second, I found the "duxelle" -- i.e., the mushroom paste -- wasn't staying put, and I didn't use it all. (The leftover duxelle I put in the fridge to have with this morning's eggs, and I forgot until just now about that plan.) Third, I forgot to put mustard on the meat after searing it -- which I did exactly as GR suggested -- so, I did it after wrapping the meat in the ham, but before wrapping in the pastry. Finally, I did use dijon mustard, because I like it, and that's what I had. Sorry Gordon!

As I was rolling the final product together, because of the stoutness of the fillets, I had to do some stretching with the dough; I hadn't rolled them out enough. But I was able to re-roll the second and third sheets, and it worked. Then I remembered Ramsay saying to "trim" the pastry, but I couldn't remember just how he did it, so I just folded up the ends and hoped for the best. After it came out, I see why he suggested that, and I re-watched the video to see how he did it.

Surprisingly, I got all this done before Mass, even with the egg wash and little fancy cuts on the sides. All this was in the fridge waiting for Mass to be over. Back to the kitchen, potatoes on the boil, and three Beef Wellingtons into the oven. One final defiance of Ramsay: I didn't take time to add more egg wash. It looked fine as it was. While the meat and potatoes were cooking, I sat down with the seminarians and had a drink. My staff had presented me with a bottle of Basil Hayden Bourbon, and I decided to open it up. Yes, it is very good! Meanwhile, I'm checking the meat, and it's cooking very slowly; I don't understand, I put it in at 200 degrees, just as Ramsay said...wait: was that Celsius? Indeed it was -- that means 450 degrees Fahrenheit! So I cranked up the oven, and it cooked nicely. Here are two of the three little bundles of goodness:

So how was it? Overall, very good! The meat was cooked just right. The pastry came out pretty well, but a little soggy. That could have been because I didn't start with the right temperature, or the mushrooms not being dry enough. That also meant the pastry fell apart when I tried to serve it, but it still tasted very good. We ended up eating every bit of these two, saving the third for dinner tonight. Everything else turned out really well and we had a very enjoyable evening. We had red wine with this.

For dessert I picked up a "tiramisu" cake from Krogers; it didn't taste that much like tiramisu, but it was pretty tasty. Then digestivos for any who wanted them. Afterwards, we watched a film called "Argo," about the thrilling rescue of six American diplomats from Iran, who got away from the embassy when the Iranian mob stormed it, and were shielded by the Canadian ambassador.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Why can't everyone go to communion? Because the Eucharist is like sex (Sunday homily)

There is one thing in particular that we Catholics are known for,
that confuses people, or causes offense. 
We get embarrassed about this and we don’t know how to explain it.
Sometimes this causes arguments.

I’m talking about who can receive Holy Communion, and who cannot.
There are two types of people who get confused.

First, there are people who are Christian but not Catholic.
Many times they will feel free 
to receive the Eucharist at a Catholic Mass.
They have no idea that this offends Catholics.
Indeed, many Catholics don’t realize that non-Catholics 
aren’t supposed to receive communion at Mass, let alone why.

The second group that gets confused are Catholics 
who seem to think that receiving communion is more or less automatic.
The syllogism goes something like this:
“I’m Catholic; all Catholics go to communion when at Mass; 
I’m at Mass; therefore, I will go to communion.”

The result, I believe, is that many – maybe most – Catholics 
receive Holy Communion almost automatically, without reflection.
And this explains many Catholics who are mostly inactive 
will still go to communion, again without realizing this is wrong; or why.

So what’s the mistake here? What are people missing?

Jesus said, “the Bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” 
Doesn’t he want everyone to eat his Flesh, and drink his Blood?
The answer is, Yes he does, but in the right way.
I’m going to explain this, but you have to bear with me.

Jesus shows us what the full reality of the Eucharist is, 
when he says, over and over, that he the Bridegroom.
He is a Spouse; a Husband.
Who is the partner in that marriage? The Church: we are.
This  runs through the whole Bible, right up to the last book, 
where heaven is the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

And I want to be clear what I’m saying:
Human marriage is the sign, the foreshadowing; 
Union with God – beginning in this world and ultimately in heaven – 
is the complete reality.

So if the Christian life is a marriage – as Jesus says – 
then how does specifically receiving the Eucharist fit into this?

You may find shocking but: 
the best analogy for receiving the Eucharist is the marital embrace. 
And I want to be crystal-clear without being too explicit. 
I mean that special, physical, private moment of love 
between a husband and wife that can result in new life.

So if you ask, why is it wrong for someone 
just to walk in and receive the Eucharist?
For the same reason that it is wrong to be casual 
about the special act of love I’m referring to. 

And isn’t it curious that even as our society treats the sexual act 
as if it is nothing important, and we can do as we like with it,
that Christians and Catholics, in this same social milieu,
likewise treat the Holy Mass, and the Eucharist, so casually?

Look, I’m not married, so I may be off-base here, but:
Shouldn’t spouses enter into the marital embrace 
as something deserving preparation and supreme attention?
If it’s all about me, me, give to me, rather than about you, 
my being here for you, then isn’t that moment of embrace 
going to be a failure? Life-draining, not life-giving?

I know people will say, “In real life it doesn’t work out that way.”
Oh, I know that: and guess what? 
In real life, a whole lot of people are pretty unhappy in their marriages. 
And they don’t stay married.
All the more reason to get it right with the Eucharist!

As with the food Elijah received, the Eucharist is meant to give us life,
Strength for the journey, day by day, all the way to heaven.
The grave danger is that we approach the Eucharist the wrong way,
not seeking to be converted, not actually realizing the seriousness,
this brings not life, but death! 

Yes, that is what St. Paul himself said elsewhere in Scripture.
Our conscience becomes deadened and darkened.

To answer the question I started with:
This is why a casually-practicing Catholic should first go to confession – 
to the sacrament of reconciliation – before returning to communion:
For precisely the same reason that couples who are distant, 
or not giving each other much attention, 
likewise need reconciliation, first, in preparation for the marital act 
to be a true act of love, rather than something else.

So we have Catholics who show up at Mass one or two times a year, 
And they expect to go right back to communion:
If you’re married, and you stay away for months at a time,
Is that how it works? 
And even if it does, is that a good idea – for that marriage, I mean?

OK, but what about non-Catholics who are Christians. 
Aren’t they also “married” to Christ? Yes, indeed they are.
But the problem is, with rare exception, other Christian denominations 
believe that the Eucharist is not actually Jesus.
They believe Holy Communion is a symbol of Jesus, 
or a “reminder” of Jesus.

Yes, they use a lot of similar language to ours, 
but these other churches believe something fundamentally different.
To go back to the analogy: 
For these good people, receiving communion 
is like being given a picture of their spouse.
That is obviously totally different 
from meeting your Spouse in the flesh.

A moment ago, I said, “with rare exception.” 
Because there are some Churches that actually do believe
that the priesthood is real, and the Mass is truly a Sacrifice, 
and that the Eucharist truly is Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
And these Christians – generally speaking, Orthodox Christians – 
are in fact allowed to receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass.
So, if you know anyone in this situation, come talk to me.

But beyond that, for those who are not Catholic, 
and maybe you are here:
Yes, we do ask you wait, and not receive the Eucharist,
Until you understand the reality of Jesus, not only in this Sacrament, 
but in his whole Church, in all he teaches and asks of us.
Then you can respond with your whole self.

And to my fellow Catholics, I give a very serious caution:
Recognize the awesome reality of the Mass and the Eucharist!
Please don’t let Mass and receiving Holy Communion 
be a ritual you go through on auto-pilot.
Jesus wants to give you Life, from the Source! His very self!

But you can miss it; and become dead to it, if you don’t wake up.
This isn’t about you, and what you get; 
It’s about what you give: all of yourself; 
even as Jesus gives all of himself to you.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Pope Francis 'making a mess' of the Catechism, especially on the death penalty

(This originated as an article in my parish bulletin, but I reworked it a little.)

Let's talk about the Holy Father’s recent decision about the death penalty. This is complicated, so I apologize in advance if my brief comments don’t answer all questions; but I do think some explanation is needed. On Friday, August 3, the Vatican issued a letter – from Cardinal Laderia, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – that included a new paragraph for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that states the following:

2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.  

Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.

This announcement was hailed as a “change in Church teaching”; this startled me when I heard it on the radio. This is where the problem and the confusion lies.

The death penalty issue actually involves two distinct but overlapping questions. First, a morality question: what is good vs. what is evil? And both the Bible and the Church have said, continuously, that the death penalty is moral, if guilt is properly determined, and if not inhumanely applied. To be clear, this part cannot change! The pope did not – because he cannot – decide that what had been morally permissible for thousands of years, now is not. He can’t do it, because no one can. Only God determines good and evil.

The second question is a public-policy one: working from what is morally acceptable (the prior question), now we ask: what is a wise, prudent way to go forward as a society in our particular time and circumstances? Only this latter issue is subject to change with the times, whether by Pope Francis, or any other pope. The confusion here is that people are mixing these questions together.

Recall that it was Pope John Paul II who first proposed that society should avoid the death penalty, unless absolutely necessary; and in my judgment, Pope Francis is really only reiterating that point with greater emphasis. Pope John Paul II stated the following in the Catechism:

“The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor” (CCC 2267, prior version). However, Pope John Paul II went on to urge that non-lethal punishment be preferred, stating that “cases of absolute necessity” for use of capital punishment today “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

Candidly, I think the way this was presented, first by the Vatican and then others, lacked the clear distinctions that are needed. The Holy Father, having a praiseworthy objective of minimizing the death penalty (as did prior popes), is not addressing these distinctions at the moment, but he is well aware of them and knows that they matter. In time they will need to be clarified.

As far as I can see, the language of Pope John Paul remains in force, even if it isn't entirely retained in the Catechism. Namely: that on the morality question: is capital punishment good or evil -- then what the Church has always taught, is still true; the death penalty is justified with the usual conditions.

Nevertheless, on the public-policy question -- what's good for us here and now -- the Church urges avoidance of the death penalty to the maximum extent possible.

I know what many are saying: nope, Pope Francis closed that door. But the thing is, I can't see how he can. Can the pope declare good evil, and evil, good? No, he cannot. And note well, his language does not do that. Not once does the pope declare, explicitly, that capital punishment is "intrinsically" (or any other kind of) evil. He merely says, "inadmissible," which is -- from a theological and philosophical standpoint -- vague and loose. In my judgment, it boils down to a restatement of Pope John Paul's, try to avoid it all you can.

Someone asked me, does this mean I disagree with the pope? Well, the honest answer is, I don't know! But I don't really think so. The very lack of clarity here leaves me not knowing what Pope Francis' full intentions are. So I have to guess, and here's my guess:

1) He wants to discourage the death penalty as much as possible.
2) He thinks, at least in our circumstances, it is "bad" to do; meaning, it makes a net negative impact on society.

On these two points I agree with Pope Francis.

But does he think that the death penalty is morally evil and can never be justified in any fashion? Perhaps he does, and many people believe that's what he's saying here; but the problem is, if I say the pope believes that, I am accusing him of denying something the Church has always held, on the basis of Sacred Scripture, no less. And I will not make any such accusation against him; instead, I will err on the side of charity, especially in this matter.

That's not just an equivocation out of charity. I simply do not know what is in the heart of the pope, because I cannot know that. What I know is that the pope has issued new language for the Catechism, that in my judgment is muddled; but even then, it notably is careful about not going too far. That is to say, what if he had declared the death penalty intrinsically evil? And why didn't he? The answer, I think, is because he was told, if he did not tell himself, that he cannot do that and must not do that. In any case, he did not do that.

So, we have a mess. The pope is famous for saying "Hagan lio," which is translated as "make a mess." In the context, as I recall, he was encouraging folks not to be passive or inert, but to be active, engaged, and not to be afraid that their activism will ruffle feathers or challenge the status quo. This is something the pope himself does. At times this is very good advice; at other times, it can be unsettling, including for me in the present case. Some want to accuse him of malicious intent or gross neglect; some accuse him of being a heretic. If you wish to find fault with me for not reaching those conclusions, so be it; but I will make no such grave accusations unless I really have no alternative.

Nevertheless, I cannot help saying this. One regrettable consequence of this is that the Catechism, which heretofore I have always treated as a clear statement of Church teaching, is now a bit of a "mess." I'm sorry about that; and it will be a little more complicated making use of it. I have the prior edition, and I intend to keep using it. That way I can share with people the language placed there by Pope John Paul II that I think maintains the necessary clarifications. I will refer to the desire of the current Holy Father that use of the death penalty be "inadmissible," and do my best to explain how that is consistent with the unchanging teaching of the Church on this matter.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

The 'Food that endures' (Sunday homily)

Last Sunday, the key idea was “signs” – 
that is, which point us toward Jesus Christ, who is the destination.

This Sunday, we hear the Lord Jesus say:
“Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life.”

So I wondered: how do these two types of food compare?
Let’s start with “food that perishes” – that is, natural, ordinary food.
This food you and I can grow or raise ourselves, or we buy. 
Although food is much easier to get than in Bible times,
It still costs real money and takes real work.

If we don’t eat it, we will die.
If we eat the wrong kind, we will get sick.
If you or I eat too much, we get fat.
But even if we eat the right natural food, in the right amount, 
You and I will still die; because this natural life cannot go on forever.
Such is the “food that perishes.”

Now, what about the enduring food Jesus offers us?
You and I cannot produce it; we cannot prepare it. It is simply given.
What does it cost? I was going to say it’s free, and that’s true;
Yet in another sense, no food is more costly; 
because what we “pay” to receive Jesus is, simply, our whole selves. 
He gives himself entirely, and he demands the very same from us.

Our entire selves: let that sink in.
Many wonder why the Christian Faith is facing troubles in our time.
So many profess to be Christian, but don’t really live it. 
Many live compartmentalized lives: one part of me prays, 
one part of me believes, but another part of me cheats on my taxes,
or mistreats my spouse, or goes to dark places on the Internet, 
or depends on alcohol to make me happy,
or is envious or controlling, and so on and so on.

Meanwhile there are so many who simply ignore the claims of Christ.
They don’t think they are rejecting him; but he’s a figure on a cross, 
a picture on the wall, and maybe he gets a visit one or two times a year.

Why is this happening?
It is true that bad Christians – high or low – give scandal.
Nevertheless, the main reason people 
do not continue with their Christian Faith, or do not accept it,
is because Jesus simply asks too much.
We might be willing to give him a part of us; but he demands ALL.

And so, by the way, this is why when we commit a mortal sin, 
we must be reconciled – through confession – 
before receiving the Eucharist. 
Jesus is not content to have only part of us; he wants all!

So, yes, the “food that endures” is indeed costly.

What else about the food Jesus gives?
While natural food can only communicate natural life,
The food of Jesus provides supernatural life that never ends. 
But without Jesus, you and I will be eternally hungry and empty, 
and that is hell.

These are the two foods placed before us.
And Jesus says, you’re working hard for ordinary food; I understand.
Still, receive this Food; “work” for this Food I will give;
And the “work” we do for it, is to put our faith in Jesus; 
as I said, to give him our entire selves, nothing held back.

Now, here is the bread and wine, used for Mass.*
Right now, as I hold it before you, this is “food that perishes”; ordinary, natural food.

In a few moments, before our eyes, 
through the unworthy hands of a priest, who is also sinful man,  
Jesus himself will change these ephemeral, earth-bound elements, 
into that Food which he promised to give: 
His very self, his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Now, do you see what I’m saying here?
This food, this perishable food, this is us!
You and I, like this bread and wine, 
do not have supernatural life in ourselves; 
and if God had not acted and entered time to share it, 
we would spend eternity without supernatural life!

What Jesus does to the bread and wine on the altar, 
He is determined to do to you and me!
This is what it means to receive the Eucharist;
As Saint Augustine said, we become what we receive.

I’m going to end with two questions; but don’t tell me the answer.
Don’t answer too quickly. 
Look deep in your own heart, confront yourself, 
and tell yourself the answer. 
Think hard about whether you truly mean it. 

Do you believe this change – from bread and wine, 
into Jesus’ Body and Blood, his true and real Presence – 
actually happens on this altar?

And do you believe that what Jesus does to bread and wine, 
He can and he will – AND WILL! – do to you?

Jesus is the Food that Endures: Become what you receive!

* At this point in the homily, I held up a plate of hosts and a cruet of wine.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

You either point to Christ, or away from him (Sunday homily)

A few years ago, I made a trip in Germany; 
and I remember driving on the highways there.
I don’t speak German, but I did know the names of the places 
I was going; and I could tell the speed limit. 
The signs in Germany did their job very well – 
they got me where I was going.

I’m talking about signs because the readings today talk about signs.
Elisha performs a sign, which points to what Jesus himself did later.
And in the second reading, 
Saint Paul tells the Ephesians, in effect, they are a sign, 
by how they live their lives.

All that was clear enough, 
but here’s something you may not have realized.
For the next five Sundays we will hear Jesus himself teach 
about the Eucharist, from Chapter six of the Gospel of John. 

That decision by the Church, to give so many Sundays to this, 
is also a sign: of how very important the Holy Eucharist is.

Vatican II called the Eucharist 
the “source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium 11).
Well, when I say that, who disagrees? No one, right?

Now, let me back up to my trip to Germany. 
There were a couple of times when I was looking for a particular city, 
but I didn’t see the name on the highway signs.
That’s because the signs point you to the next place;
And then after you reach there, the next place.
But where I was going was a ways down the highway.
And because I am not familiar with the territory,
that threw me off a few times.
I-75 is exactly the same. As you go south from here, it’s all “Dayton”; 
then it’s all “Cincinnati,” 
and only south of there will you see “Lexington.”

So we have the signs in the Scripture, 
but they don’t take us the whole journey. 
How can that be? Because Jesus wants us to receive the Eucharist!
That requires the Holy Mass and that requires the Church.
Christ founded the Church in order to give us the Eucharist.

The Eucharist – Jesus’ Body and Blood, his own self –
Is not, of course, a sign; but the destination!
It is to Jesus himself, to union with him, 
that all the signs should point.

Now, here’s where you and I come in.
Up to this point, you could sit there and say, that’s all good stuff!

But here’s the punchline:
You and I are signs. Let me say that again: You and I are signs.
And we can either be good signs – 
that point the right way – or bad signs, that warn people off.
Last week I talked about bad shepherds, including bad bishops.
We might as easily have talked about prominent Catholics 
in Hollywood or business or politics who give bad example.

As we know, people will say: I’m not going to be Catholic, 
Look at the bishops, look at those phony politicians!

But the answer is to give them another sign to look at.
A convincing sign. A sign that is bright with the Holy Spirit.
That sign is your life. Your family life.
People aren’t stupid. We all know there are fakes everywhere.
But that just makes us want something real all the more!

Now, if you are still with me, then let me give you two ways 
to be credible, powerful signs that point people the right way.

The first is to be a penitent. A repentant person.
One thing we don’t need to convince anyone of, 
is that there is corruption in the world, even in the Church.

But what we can do is show – not just tell – others that, for our part, 
we are not full of pride, but we are sinners trying to grow in holiness.
In short: go to confession. Make a habit of confession.

We all have excuses. They are all bogus.
If Catholic churches started filling up with people going to confession, 
do you think that would be a powerful sign?

And, I might just remind you that if we are aware of a mortal sin, 
we must go to confession before receiving Holy Communion.
The second way you and I can be a powerful sign is by our reverence, 
at Holy Mass and specifically, in receiving Holy Communion.

Now, I want to be very clear: many here are doing that.
Many who visit St. Remy will comment on the reverence.
Many of you are an inspiration to me by your love for the Eucharist.

“But”: you knew that was coming.
Some of us I do want to challenge. 
Some folks come to communion like it’s a concession stand.
Or a drive-through: grab-and-go.
Stop and realize: 
You are approaching your God, who made you, 
and who became human precisely so he could die on the Cross for you.
And God is giving himself to you.

The bishops decided some years ago 
that we would approach standing, rather than kneel. 
Honestly, I wish they hadn’t done that.
But we do what they directed us to do.

At the same time, they also said something most people forget:
That everyone should show a sign of reverence.
Kneeling itself is perfect; and some of you do kneel.
Others genuflect. Awesome.
Not everyone can do that, so can you bow?
Can you make the sign of the cross?

And in that context, doesn’t receiving on the tongue make sense?
It is an act of great humility and submission – to Christ.
I know I will hear from folks who will say, for this or that reason, 
they don’t receive on the tongue. I understand.
But those exceptions don’t apply to most of us.

I’ll say it again: you are receiving the Lord, your God!

Jesus’ plan was for the Church – for each of us –
To be signs pointing to him.
Never more needed than today.
What others fail to do we cannot control.
But you and I can decide how powerful a sign we will be.