Sunday, February 26, 2006

'Moving Past' as an Archdiocese (Sunday homily)

That first reading comes from
the Prophet Hosea.
It is a very passionate book.
God is speaking to his people
as if he is a husband,
and his people are his wife.
So it starts out negatively,
Talking about unfaithfulness and adultery—
And God says, "you are not my people."

But then comes today’s reading.
"I will allure her"—God woos his people!
"I will espouse you to me forever."
God always wants to move past our sins.
We may hold on to them,
but God is always ready to forget.

Every year, we have an annual appeal
for a number of needs of the Archdiocese.
Today I’m making that annual appeal.

There’s a painful reality here
I might as well acknowledge.
Because of unfaithfulness
on the part of some who wear this collar—
because of how the Archbishop handled things—
There’s a lot pain and hurt
and it affects this fund drive.

Unfortunately, a lot of good causes
suffer as a result.
Let me tell you about some of them.

Retired priests. Last December,
you were very generous
in supporting the fund
for retired sisters and brothers.
That fund is for those in religious orders—
such as Franciscans, Sisters of Charity, and so forth.

Retired, diocesan priests—such as Father Ang—
are provided for by this fund.

Catholic Social Services. Last year,
when the hurricane hit,
hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans
were refugees; Catholic Social Services helped.

Every year, couples seek adoption and need help;
folks get in trouble, and need counseling;
someone is faced with an unexpected pregnancy,
and needs guidance;
Catholic Social Services
meets these and many other needs.

Our seminary. From time to time,
you will say to me,
"Father, we like your homilies!" or,
"Father, we like how you offer Mass,"
or other words of encouragement—
for which I thank you.

Well, I give my parents a lot of credit,
But as far as being trained as a priest,
Knowing Scripture, liturgy,
the teachings of the Church—
I learned them through our seminary.
The Athanaeum of Ohio provides everything
our future priests need—free!

It also trains folks for lay ministry
and as permanent deacons.

The St. Rita School for the Deaf
provides for children
from kindergarten through high school
who have hearing disabilities—
especially those with profound hearing loss.

As you might imagine, it’s expensive;
It requires teachers with special gifts and training.
I don’t have to say much more, except:
Aren’t you proud to support such a school?

One more good cause, especially now:
Our vocation programs
to attract more sisters, brothers, priests and deacons.

When I first called the vocation office,
Father Mark Watkins did a lot to help me.

I think you agree, these are all good causes.
But I know many wonder:
will the money go where I want it to go?

So here’s my suggestion.
You have a choice.
If you want, write your check
to the Archdiocesan Fund—
or just tuck cash into the envelope in your pew.
And that’s where it will go.

But you might prefer to designate a cause.
You’ll find a yellow slip of paper in your pews,
just like this.

It mentions some, not all,
of the causes being supported.
If you write your check,
payable as listed on that slip,
your donation will go directly to them.

We’ll separate them out,
And when we turn what is given for this appeal,
I’ll tell the Archdiocese
how you want the money spent.

If they don’t agree—I’ll give you your check back.
Our parish goal is $15,200.
If every family gives $25,
we will make that goal.
Of course, some have more, some have less.
Please do whatever the Lord leads you to do.

I invite you to put your contribution
in today’s collection,
or drop it off another week, or send it by mail.
Only what is in these envelopes
will go to this fund.

I began with Hosea, let me return there.
Despite infidelity, despite the hurt of that,
God cannot abandon his People.
You have shown that quality!

Despite the hurts and wrongs we all know about,
Here you are:
Faithful to your parish,
faithful to our Catholic Church.
Lent begins this Wednesday.

For all of us,
may God give us the grace "to move past":
Just as God moves past our sins,
may we be able to do the same for each other,
and to move forward as a parish and his Church.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

$25 per family!! Good grief - our average contribution is $10 per family, for the usual contribution, and this from a middle class parish in Australia. Special collections such as you mention here would be lucky to garner $5 per per family.

Our priest said that because Hosea was away from home alot his wife, in order to put food on the table for the children, was forced to become a prostitute. Is this correct?

Jackie said...

Fr Fox - it's a lovely homily. I'm have given to the Appeal ONLY one time at the behest of my new pastor who had been at my parish less than a year - but was OK - better than before and he was asking for people to participate so I gave. Not a lot - but I give seperately to many very orthodox Catholic Organizations - and within 4 months my pastor had his mug shot on TV and the newspaper for grabbing an undercover cop at a park. And 7 months later he's at the Cathedral and saying Masses elsewhere. The ONLY way I have to provide feedback that the archbishop MIGHT hear - is with my money. SO - I send money directly and then send a letter to the archdiocese with an accounting of what I am giving EVERY MONTH - and tell them again why THEY aren't getting any of it. I HATE that I have to do that but I don't have anything left to provide correction.

Father Martin Fox said...

anonymous:

I really don't know if your priest's information about the reading is correct or not; however, the text itself doesn't say that, and I would tend to gravitate to what the text actually says, although what might be "behind" the text -- such as something like what your pastor says -- is not invalid, of course.

Here's what Hosea says (chapter 1, verses 2-3):

"In the beginning of the LORD'S speaking to Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: Go, take a harlot wife and harlot's children, for the land gives itself to harlotry, turning away from the LORD.

So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim; and she conceived and bore him a son."

So, the text says she was already a "harlot."

In my reading of Hosea, I see no reason to conclude as your pastor does. That doesn't mean he's wrong; it means I can't say, "it's correct."

jackie:

I'm sorry for all that crap you have to deal with.

Thank you for communicating your feelings; at least that gives the Archbishop awareness of what you think and believe, and what's going on among his flock.

I am not against talking about money in a homily; money isn't dirty, its a useful thing that can be used to do good things, and how we use it is an index of our values -- so talking about it and asking for it is valid in a homily.

But I do prefer to talk about other things. Not that my preferences are what matter.

For me to do a whole homily on an appeal such as this is . . . well, it's the first time, to tell the truth. But the Archbishop asked me to do it, and I have no reason not to.

joeh said...

I do the same as Jackie. I send an accounting of all that I give making sure that those that receive are clealy orthodox in the way they operate and in full support of the Pope. I constantly monitor everything about those organizations while also watching the performance of those under the control of our bishop. I have done this for over 5 years and you might think that my report and letter would gain a response, but none come even though my address, phone, and email are included. Two years I even included a stamped self addressed envelope and paper for them to use. That alone tells me a lot about this leadership. The other thing that confirmed this was when the Catholic Telegraph interviewed our bishop about the survey and he said he was surprised people's faith was important to them. How could he be bishop for all these years and not understand that. Maybe if he started hanging around some of the orthodox parishoners, he would find out that their faith is important to them. If he continues to hang around his liberal friends, he will indeed be around many people whose faith is found clearly in cafeteria format.

Mark Anthony said...

anonymous:

Sweet Jesus in the morning! Your priest said what??!?

I'm not as diplomatic as Fr. Martin, so I can say that your priest's exegesis is crapum magnum (I made that up...should it be crapus magnus?)

Are you sure he wasn't kidding?

Richard said...

I'm reading this on Tuesday. I read the homily just now.It was a good homily Fr. You clearly explained what the collection was for and told how it could be directed.
Here in Southern New Jersey, (St Bernadette's) our Diocese of Camden suggests that we give much more to the Diocesan Fund. A lot of us cough up 7 or 8 hundred dollars. Thankfully it is collected over a period of months.
You woumd up your homily very nicely and I wish I could have really heard it.

Father Martin Fox said...

Mark:

I think crapum -- a neuter ending seems suitable.

Anonymous said...

Father-

I have to commend you on spelling out what the appeal is doing. Too often really dumb ideas and projects appear under innocuous names. As a result people, myself included, hesitate to give to vague, but worthy sounding causes, By spelling out what there is you made it clear what this money is going to support.

Also, the optional yellow paper if you want to designate where your money goes is terrific. It does tend to take some of the flexibility out of the budget, but it's great for people who want to make sure that their favorite cause isn't going to be "cheated" out of the money they gave.