Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Congratulations! You're in the target-hairs of 'the gay agenda'!

News item: In Synod-Related Effort, Homosexual-Rights Activists Target Eight U.S. Bishops.

Picketing outside Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago, February 14, AD 2010
From the National Catholic Register article:

ROME — The start of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family has triggered a wave of activism from well-funded LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) activist groups in the U.S., who are targeting “outspoken” Catholic bishops in hopes of changing Catholic practice and moral doctrine.

“Most important is the opportunity to create a precedent for change,” the Human Rights Campaign said in its pamphlet on the synod.

The LGBT group has announced an activist effort targeting eight bishops in a pamphlet that labels them as “the best of the worst Catholic bishops across the country.”

Its campaign will target Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore and Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill.

The effort aims to target bishops the activist group claims have been “most outspoken in their rejection of LGBT Catholics, their civil rights and their rightful place in the Church.” The effort will include Rosary events and literature distributions in the bishops’ home cities.

Among the Human Rights Campaign’s corporate partners are large corporations like American Airlines, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Bank of America, Northrop Grumman, Chevron, Lexus, Goldman Sachs, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. (Emphasis added.)

See that? Our Archbishop has been "targeted." That means we in the Archdiocese have been "targeted."

Let me amplify that. This isn't about the Archbishop. Our Archbishop is simply being faithful to the teachings of our Lord and Savior. He is doing his job. He is being our shepherd. This is an attack on the Body of Christ as a whole, and that means every one of us.

And the Archbishop deserves to know that the faithful stand with him. When he stands up for Christ, we must stand with him!

While I don't imagine his Excellency is fretting over this, I also don't imagine this is going to be pleasant. Even if the efforts of the "LGBT activists" are reasonably civil (let us hope), this is not something most of us would want to endure outside our places of work, churches, or homes.

I'm not sure the Archbishop would want me to, er, organize any letter-writing, but I don't know why you couldn't contact him and let him know he has your prayers and support.

Second, you may want to contact some of those companies above, to see if they wish to be enlisted in this effort. Do these companies really intend to lobby the Catholic Church to change her teachings? Really?

Third, and most important: it's time to get ready. This is only the beginning. A storm is brewing. It will get ugly. We are not delicate flowers; we are soldiers of Christ! You and I had better prepare ourselves so we can endure what is coming; because one of the things that's going to make this difficult is having people around us losing heart and helping the enemies of the Church.

Get ready, folks. It will get worse before it gets better. A lot worse.

(Headline note: someone no doubt will quibble about my use of "the gay agenda." Headlines need to be brief; and I'm hard-pressed to find a brief expression for, "those who seek to overturn God's plan for human complementarity and family." Feel free to suggest polite alternative language if that's your thing.)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How do we exalt Christ as King? Here are three ways (Sunday homily)

We might wonder, why do we have this feast of Christ the King? 

This solemnity was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. 
And it helps to understand the times.

For some time, the trends in society 
had been to denigrate the Church and the Catholic Faith. 
A few years before, the most powerful nations 
had all been drawn into the slaughter of the First World War. 
And in the wake of that war, extreme movements were taking hold: 
communism, fascism and militarism.

And so the pope sought to remind the world who its true king is. 
As the pope said, “all men, whether collectively or individually, 
are under the dominion of Christ. 
In him is the salvation of the individual, 
in him is the salvation of society.”

Ninety years on, the situation has only worsened; 
Today the Church is caught between the anvil of secularism 
and the hammer of radical Islam. 

On the one hand, we have supposedly free societies – 
including our own – where more and more people 
are being shamed and harassed and punished 
because they believe what Jesus Christ teaches 
about marriage and family. 
People are losing their jobs. 
Business owners are being fined by government, 
forced to shut up or shut down. 

It is likely to get worse before it gets better.

On the other hand, in many places you and I are witnessing 
a ruthless effort to exterminate Christians in the name of Islam. 
Thankfully there are some efforts to stop it, but not much.

The need to accept Jesus Christ as king is as great as ever!

So what does that look like?

The starting point is our own lives. 
Is he king over how I use my time? My money? 
Over my eyes, my hands, my words? 
Do I use my body and talents according to his laws—or my own desires?

The truth, of course, is that I’m still fighting the battle in my own life; 
and most likely, so are you. 
The great tool we have in this is the sacrament of confession. 
When you and I bow our egos and bend our knees in the confessional, 
We renew our loyalty to Jesus, not vaguely, but concretely – 
in my life, today, right now.

Second is what happens in our homes. 

There’s no rule that says 
you and I have to have a crucifix or an image of Jesus in our home; 
but I can’t understand why we all wouldn’t want that. 

Personally, I want an image of Jesus or Mary in every room. 
I have a crucifix over my computer and a statue of Mary over my TV. 
They help me remember.

As you may know, there is a nice tradition 
of enthroning the Sacred Heart in our homes; 
I’ll put something in the bulletin about that next week 
for anyone who is interested. 

And at the end of Mass, 
I invite you to join me in an act of dedication to the Sacred Heart – 
the prayers are already in your pews. 

There is a plenary indulgence given 
for reciting this prayer on this feast, 
which also calls for going to confession and receiving holy communion, 
and offering a prayer for the intentions of the holy father, 
which we’ll do as well.

But what best shows Jesus as king in our homes 
is how you and I treat one another. 
When our homes are places of prayer, forgiveness and peace, 
Christ reigns – and people will want what they experience in us!

Finally, we lift up King Jesus with the difference we make in the world. 

The Gospel gives us a powerful measure: 
how we treat those who are least and easily forgotten. 
If Jesus were accepted as king of this world, 
there would be no one hungry or naked or forgotten; 
but as it is…our world is rather different.

This weekend many of you made casseroles to feed the hungry. 
And I think we’re all aware of a lot of generosity 
that happens without a lot of fanfare. 

Meanwhile, there are a lot of us who, in various ways, 
are trying to promote alternatives to abortion 
and to protect unborn children. 

Still, I think what many of us feel, 
when you and I look at so many problems in our society, 
is that we are overwhelmed. 
How can we fix it all?

But take heart! That’s not what the Gospel talks about. 
You and I don’t see the Lord saying to anyone, 
“well done, you solved the whole problem.” 

Instead, we see Jesus commending those who did what they could; 
and condemning those who passed by.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fixing Jesus dinner

Today I'm working up a couple of casseroles as part of Saint Remy's "Casserole Crusade" -- the food is prepared by parishioners, frozen, and then taken to soup kitchens in the area.

I'm not posting this to get credit; but to show you how easy it is. You can do this!

First, the organizers give you the aluminum pans and recipes. I had eight or so to choose from. I chose "Chicken and Noodles," which was fairly easy, and sounds like it will taste good.

So, first, I picked up the ingredients I needed. Only when I got to my car, I remembered I'd taken two casserole pans, but I'd only bought enough for one. So back to the store to buy all the same things again. The clerk was amused.

Once home, I get my kitchen in order before cooking. That is, I put some dirty dishes (still in the sink) in the dishwasher, and then get a sink of suds ready. When I cook, I find keeping some hot, soapy water in the sink makes things go more smoothly.

First, I pour all the broth into the pan and get it heating.

Next it says, "spray pans generously with "Pam" -- only I don't have any Pam, so I use butter instead.

While the broth is heating, I open up all the cans of chicken meat. I make sure I scrape out all the goodness in the cans before throwing them away. The chicken tastes pretty good, but I season it with some black pepper. The soup I'll add will provide some added salt, so I don't add that.

Next I open up all the soup cans. It called for two cans of chicken soup, and two cans of mushroom soup. Campbells now has "Chicken and Mushroom" soup, so I get four of those. I scrape out all the goodness I can.

The broth reaches a boil; then I realize I was supposed to have thrown the noodles in already. Oops! But no worry; it says, "let sit for 20 minutes." When 20 minutes goes by, I'll taste them; if not quite ready, I can always boil them a bit more. I think they'll be fine.

I notice the recipe doesn't call for onions or garlic. I'll hold off this time, but that might be nice. Or maybe shallots? But they would need to be sauteed.

While the noodles soak up the broth, I get this post started. Then back to the stove to check the noodles and broth:

I taste it...

Pretty good! A little bland for my taste, but perhaps not for those who will eat it, so I don't add any seasoning.

The directions say to drain off the broth, so I do -- but into another pot. Then I put all the ingredients together and stir:

And then I spread all this into the two pans, like this:

They looked awfully plain, so I added some parmesan cheese over the top. I think some paprika would be good, too, but I leave that off in case anyone mistakes it for red pepper (which would also be good, but...)

I did taste the final product. Pretty good, but in retrospect, some added red pepper and maybe some garlic would make it better. I may well make this again, for myself! I'd serve it with some green vegetables; how about you?

And here are the casseroles ready to freeze; then on Sunday, they go to the Saint Vincent de Paul Society who will take them to their destinations.

Now, did you forget about that leftover broth? Not I!

I put it back on the stove, and dug into the fridge for some items I've been saving. Remember the chicken I roasted a few weeks back? I saved some of the carcass and some of the onions that were roasted with it, along with the innards of the chicken. And I had some vegetables that were a little wilted. I threw it all in.

After I cook this for awhile, I'll be able to strain off the broth and use it for something or another. Meanwhile, in my mother's immortal words, I "cleaned out the icebox"!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Do you know how many American saints there are?

Yesterday was the observance of Saint Rose-Philippine Duschesne, one of our American saints; but I missed it, until after I'd offered Mass, using the other optional memorial for November 18, which is the Dedication of Saints Peter and Paul Basilicae in Rome.

Happily, today is a "ferial" day, which means the priest can pick any Mass (in the ordinary form); so I used the Mass for Saint Rose-Philippine.

After Mass, I was talking with one of the parishioners about how many American saints there are; and I wasn't sure. So, when I got back, I did some research:

Feast               Saint                                                               Burial/shrine

January 4         Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton                              Emmitsburg, MD                   
January 5         Saint John Neumann                                       Philadelphia, PA
January 23       Saint Marianne Cope                                      Syracuse, NY
March 3           Saint Katherine Drexel                                   Bensalem Twp, PA
April 2             Saint Pedro Calungsod, martyr                       Martyred in Guam;
Shrine: Cebu City, Philippines
May 8              Blessed Teresa Demjanovich                          Convent Station, NJ
May 10            Saint Damion de Veuster                                Leuven, Belgium
July 1               Blessed Junípero Serra                                   Carmel, CA
July 13             Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Santiago  Caguas, Puerto Rico
July 14             Saint Kateri Tekakwitha                                 Kahnawake, Quebec
October 3        Saint (Mother) Theodore Guerin                     St. Mary of the Woods, IN
October 5        Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos                        New Orleans, LA
October 6        Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, Martyr    Guam
October 19      Saints Isaac Jogues,                                        Midland, Ontario;
John Brebouf and Companions, martyrs        Auriesville, NY
November 6    Blessed Eduardo Farre, Martyr;
Blessed Lucas Tristany, Martyr
(Priests of Tucson, AZ who died in Spanish Civil War)
November 13  Saint Francis Cabrini                                      Manhattan, NY;
                                                                                                Chicago, IL.
November 18  Saint Rose Philippine Duschesne                   Saint Charles, MO.

I bet that's more than you thought!

A couple of notes. Not all these are on the general calendar; the blesseds, in particular. As a result, I'm not 100% certain of the date they are observed; the two martyrs from Tucson, Arizona, in particular, were hard to track down. Also, I don't know of a shrine for either of them. Readers?

Monday, November 17, 2014

A full Sunday: bishops and rock bands

I had the first two Masses; Archbishop Schnurr was coming up for the 11, for confirmation. So in-between everything else, I had a few things to attend to:

> Getting out the sacramental books for him to examine, as is traditional when the bishop comes;
> Cutting up a lemon and remembering to bring it over to church;
> Making sure the servers know what they need to;
> Watching for the Archbishop and seeing to any of his needs;
> Making sure the right readings were set out -- different from the other Masses.

Thankfully, all went well. Our servers were on it; my mistake was to assign too few. Nothing bad happened, but we only had two torches during the consecration.

I was especially proud of our tenth-graders. When the Archbishop addressed questions to them, they didn't freeze as so often happens, but they actually answered! Correctly! Well done!

So the Archbishop was able to get on the road to his next engagement, and we got the church back in order. Next up was a baptism; that went off with a hitch; but by now, I was ready to stretch out on the couch, which I did for a couple of hours.

Then, around 5:40 pm, it was time to link up with the youth group. They were gathering to car-pool down to Troy for a concert with Matt Maher and Toby Mac. These guys:

So I sent off the kids with a blessing, then got in my car -- I was going too! But I wanted to drive separately, as I didn't plan on rocking out with the youth group to the end.

I never heard of these guys; have you? What are your thoughts?

I can't say that TobyMac (or tobyMac or t0bYmaC or Mac and toby or however he styles himself) was my cup of tea, but Hobart Arena was rocking as I slipped out during his third song.

On the ride down and back, there was some snow coming down -- not a lot -- but much more came later. The kids and the chaperones were banking on at least a two-hour delay this morning, which they got, plus a subsequent cancellation of school.

I know this thanks to two helpful phone calls with perky recorded messages from the school between 6 and 7 am.

There was one nice surprise on the way back. Even though it was after 8:30, I hadn't eaten supper; I wasn't hungry earlier. So I'm thinking about what to eat when I get home, when what catches my eye, but the Skyline in Troy is still open! Praise the Lord! Can I get an amen!? I turned in, and got me a Three-Way and two coneys with everything. There's nothing quite like driving home on a snowy evening with the fragrant aroma of Greek "chili" in the car.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What do you put at risk in our venture of faith? (Sunday homily)

The parable we just heard can be a bit misleading. 
A “talent” was a quantity of silver – in New Testament times, approximately 130 pounds. 
Based on the current price of silver, 
one talent would be about $34,000. 

So one servant received about $170,000, 
another $78,000, and the last one, $34,000.

While this passage is so often taken to refer to our God-given abilities – 
and it certainly applies there – 
I think the parable is primarily talking about faith.

And so the question becomes: how do you and I invest our faith? 
Do we put anything at risk?

Notice it says, they immediately went out 
and “traded” with their funds, and doubled their investment. 
If I told you our parish funds were being handled this way, 
you should call the Archbishop as soon as Mass is over!

So what does it even mean to say we put our “faith” at risk? 

Blessed Cardinal John Newman made the point this way. 
He spoke of the “venture” of faith—
and his point was not that our faith would be lost; 
but rather, in what way might we be less well off – in this life – 
if it turns out our hope in Jesus Christ is false?

If we drive close to the speed limit, do we do that because of God – 
or because of the state patrol? 
If we were atheists, would we have chosen a different vocation in life? 

I guess I would have, and perhaps many of us would. 
But in all honesty, wouldn’t many of us be where we are now?

How much does our faith affect our purchasing decisions? 
Our business decisions? 

One of the ways we do indeed put something at risk 
is when we are generous to others, particularly in helping the poor. 
The Lord Jesus said many times, when we give to those in need, 
our repayment will come from God. 
Do our actions show that we really believe that? 

If we really believe in life after death, heaven and hell, 
how does that change our actions in this life? 

To use the dinner analogy: 
if you or I are invited to a nice dinner later, 
then if someone offers us a sandwich, what do we say? 
“No thanks, I’m going to dinner later.”  

But if we don’t trust that dinner will happen? 
We take the sandwich.

One of the things you will see in so many of the lives of the saints 
is that they lived in this life as if they were waiting for that banquet. 
They denied themselves many of the good things of this life – 
not because there is anything wrong with any of them – 
but precisely like someone who says, 
“No thanks; I’m going to a banquet later!”

This is the meaning of celibacy 
embraced by priests and religious brothers and sisters. 

Many people think the practice of celibacy 
means the Church thinks badly of marriage. 
On the contrary; it’s only makes sense 
precisely because we believe marriage is such a great good 
that giving it up becomes such a powerful sign 
of our hope in the Kingdom to come. 

If I told you that, in becoming a priest, 
I gave up poking myself in the eye, you’d say, 
“hmm, well, that’s good Father…” – but where’s the merit in that? 
What’s the sacrifice?

But if I said, I gave up a million dollars; or, a promising career…
then someone might ask: why would you do that? 
And the answer is, because the Kingdom I look forward to 
is that much better!

And in case it wasn’t clear, let me spell something out. 
Sometimes young people will say to me, 
I don’t know about being a priest or a sister or brother, 
because I want to be a husband or a wife, a mother or a father. 
And while I’m not saying you aren’t called to that – most people are.

But what I want to make clear is that the sort of people we need 
as brothers, sisters, deacons and priests 
are precisely those who do want those things. 
You don’t enter the priesthood 
to run away from being a husband and father; 
instead, you are a husband and father in a different way.

I won’t even claim that it’s a more sacrificial way; 
because if there’s one thing that’s blindingly obvious to me 
is that married couples and parents make tremendous sacrifices. 
That leads to a related point about chastity. 
When I was a young man, I figured chastity 
was just something I had to put up with until I got married! 
It doesn’t take many candid conversations with married folks 
to discover how silly that notion is. 

The truth is that chastity is about a lot more than saying no to desire. 
It’s about true self-possession. 
And you can’t really give away what you don’t possess. 
And it’s about the ability to choose the good of another 
at the expense of what you, yourself, really, really want. 

That’s what two people, dating each other, 
do when they wait until marriage. 
But it’s also what our parents do when they get out of bed, 
every morning, sick or well, and do the thousand things they do 
to make a home and family – and then have to wait decades 
before we really wake up to what they did for us.

So I return to my main theme: 
what do we really put on the line – at risk – in our venture of faith? 
The last words of the Gospel give sober meaning to the saying, 
“nothing ventured, nothing gained.” 
If we put nothing on the line, 
how are we different from that worthless servant? 
And it really is true that if we do not exercise our faith, 
we can see it weaken like unused muscles. 

It is not for me to tell you how to “invest” your faith. 
Ask the Lord. Ask him what he wants you to leave behind; 
ask him what deeper waters he calls you to; 
what unknown future to bet on. 
And pray for me that I will find courage to do the same.