Saturday, June 30, 2012

Spreading God's Life (Sunday homily)

As you know, right now all Catholics in America--all 70 million of us--
are focusing intently on a “Fortnight for Freedom,”
which will conclude this Wednesday as celebrate our nation’s independence. 

It’s inspiring to see your responses! 
Between both parishes, over 5,000 rosaries, prayers, sacrifices and so forth, 
that we know of. 

We have all that posted in the vestibule. 
And, of course, many others are praying and sacrificing 
but didn’t turn in a response. 
Multiply that by the tens of thousands of parishes nationwide, 
and it adds up, doesn’t it? 

Also, remember this isn’t just Catholics. 
Many of our fellow Americans, of different faiths,
likewise see the threats to religious freedom; 
and not just at home, but everywhere. 

For example--in Germany, a court ruled that 
parents commit a crime if they circumcise their children. 
If that ruling is upheld, 
that makes an essential part of Islam and Judaism is now a crime. 

Now, we are all, also, aware of the major decision handed down 
by the U.S. Supreme Court last week. 
It isn’t my place to talk from the pulpit about that whole decision. 
But, it does connect to the question of religious freedom--
because the mandate hanging over our heads, 
that would force our Catholic institutions to act contrary to our Faith, 
was authorized by the President’s health-care law. 

A lot of folks are asking, 
how does that ruling last week affect the mandate threatening us? 

The answer is that we continue our efforts. 
There are lawsuits against the mandate 
that would force us to provide contraception and abortion services, 
and those are still working their way through the courts. 
They haven’t been decided yet. 
So we keep praying and we keep sharing our message. 

 If you are tempted to give up, call it over, remember the woman in the Gospel. 
She waited twelve years! Remember the official whose child died--
they said, don’t trouble the teacher any longer. 
They gave up. And yet Jesus answered the prayer. 

A lot of folks are reacting to this discussion of religious freedom 
by saying, it’s all political. Well, it’s partly political of course. 
The politicians are making decisions that affect our mission as Christians. 
They chose to do that; and so we must respond. 
Our response is prayer and asking them to relent. 
This is totally legitimate. 
The Mass prayers, you’ll notice, are for our public officials. 
We’re praying for them. 
We want good for our President, our Congress and our courts. 
Let’s not give up on them. 

But let’s step away from that arena and talk about the bigger picture. 

We must defend the freedom of the Church to carry out her mission 
because that mission is about fostering God’s Life in the world. 
As the first reading said: God fashioned us for life; 
God desires all Creation to enjoy the fullness of life. 

Everything we profess; everything we do, is about that fullness of life. 

We defend marriage because that makes a difference for families. That’s about life. 

We stand for all unborn children to have life. 
We want mothers to have the help they need to choose life. 
Many of the institutions now in danger exist to do just that. 
 Instead of contraception, we stand for 
welcoming and cooperating generously with the gift of life, 
because we know the problem is not too much life--too many people--
but too little justice in how this world’s abundance is made available for all. 

We built countless schools, charities and hospitals 
precisely to help share God’s life with the poor and those in the shadows. 
And we aim to keep doing that, without interference. 

Other people are questioning our motives, perhaps attacking us. 
But you and I are clear on what we stand for. 
God’s Creation which is fashioned for life. 
We are sent to heal and to restore--to give God’s healing and life. 

As you know, this is my last homily to you. 
I thought a lot about what I might say about that. I’m grateful to have been with you. 
I’m thankful you have helped me become a better priest.
 I am strengthened by your faith, your generosity and your prayers. 
But the fact is, I was sent here to share God’s Word. 
So I’m content to let that be the last word. 
Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever, Amen!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


It's been a couple of years since I commented on a political question here, and in general I intend to continue that. But I will say a few things about the Supreme Court decision today regarding the President's health care legislation.

> I'm greatly disappointed. Obviously you have your opinions, and mine is worth every penny you pay for it--but as a citizen (not, obviously, as a legal scholar)--I am appalled that this legislation was judged to be "constitutional." But I shouldn't have been surprised. This has been the trend in federal jurisprudence for many decades. Like many people, I was fooled into thinking we had better judges than we do. So it's good that the scales have fallen from my eyes, and those of others.

Now, some will say, wait--aren't you for health care? Of course I'm for everyone having health care. I am very much in favor of remedying the many problems. And it may be there are some elements of this law I would be in favor of. But there are--in my opinion--many problems with this, particular law, and as a citizen, I think the Constitution and the limits of federal authority should be respected. In my view, this law did not respect those limits.

And, yes, I'm aware a majority of the Supreme Court held otherwise. I respect their authority to hand down the decision. It doesn't mean I have to agree with their reasoning or result. And to the extent this law may lead to coercion of consciences, I am fully ready to object conscientiously and to pay the price of not obeying an unjust law.

That's what I said publicly about the HHS mandate, which arises out of this law, and that's still where I stand. They can send me to jail--I won't obey a law that violates my conscience! I won't force anyone else to participate in abortion, sterilization or contraception, and the government should not force me or anyone else to do so. 

> I can't offer expertise but I find the dissent's argument that the mandate shouldn't be deemed a tax to be persuasive. But I haven't read Chief Justice Robert's argument, so I'll concede he may have a reasonable one.

> I won't hold my breath to see if all those who thought a 5-4 decision striking down Obamacare would be horrible, are now bewailing a 5-4 decision upholding it. It was a bogus argument, simply part of a larger campaign to mau-mau the Court. Now, of course, those who tried to pressure the Court will scoff at the notion that the Court bent to such pressure. But, you know, if you make threats to hurt someone, and that person actually is hurt, it's perfectly reasonable to treat you as a suspect. So I think it's perfectly reasonable to wonder if the Court gave in to intimidation. It wouldn't be the first time. So all those who said they didn't want this process to be politicized have, in fact, contributed to that.

> It was probably unreasonable, given the long arc of our nation's jurisprudence, to expect the High Court to strike down this law. A lot of us were guilty of "irrational exuberance."

> I can't help thinking of all those who have said for many years that Chief Justice Roberts can be counted on to be a solid vote to overturn the infamous Roe decision mandating abortion on demand. One of the long-standing arguments people make for voting for a GOP candidate for President, no matter what else one may find objectionable about him, we can expect good nominees to the Court, who will oppose the Roe decision and similar extremism. And when folks pointed to Roberts and Alito as examples of "good" appointees (from the perspective of abortion law), I said, wait, we don't know how they'll rule on Roe. I was scoffed at.

Well, I think I was right.

Of course, the Chief hasn't voted to sustain Roe, either; so we wait. But I've made the point many times that the GOP shouldn't be seen as reliable on judges. After all, five of the seven justices who gave us the Roe decision were GOP-appointed. And when that atrocious ruling was upheld in 1992, all five of the justices who did so, were Republican appointed! (Including Anthony Kennedy, whose turn it was to be the heart-breaker that year.)

Someone said to me, today, "yes, but at least there's a chance Romney's nominees will be better than Obama's." And, I suppose you can say that. But I find that thin gruel. That's all I'll say on that.

> This isn't the end of litigation.

My understanding is that there are many other grounds on which the health care law can--and almost certainly will--be challenged. Some of those are probably working their way through the courts already. Some of them, I'm guessing, won't begin to be litigated until more of the law takes effect. For example, once the mandate--whoops, it's a tax!--actually begins to be applied, someone might be able to file a relevant lawsuit. That's not my purview.

> Remember the forced-contraception mandate--it's still alive.

I admit I was wondering, yesterday, if I'd have to explain this weekend why we were still facing threats to religious freedom. I.e., if Obamacare had been struck down, then the HHS mandate would fall with it. Instead, litigation against that outrage continues. And from what I read, and my layman's understanding, I think we have a case. But let's remember, the courts don't like to stand up to the other branches. We must keep that in mind.

> Remember it's God's world and God remains in control. If you wonder why God runs things the way he does, you are in good company. All of us at various points wonder. If this decision really bothers you, remember there are folks who wonder why God allowed them to get sick, or to be unemployed, or to be homeless, or to suffer persecution, or why God allows violent and depraved acts against the innocent. Put your unhappiness at God not giving you what you wanted from the Supreme Court against those "why God?" questions.

Monday, June 25, 2012

New chapter, new blog name?

I created this blog when I arrived as pastor in Piqua. To be honest, I was bored one night, and on a lark created a blog. When the set-up program asked me for a name, I had no idea what to type; so I typed in the name of a favorite novel and didn't give it another thought.

Nor did I give much thought to how long this project would last or what direction it would take. Now, seven years later, as my time in Piqua draws to a close, folks have asked: are you going to keep up your blog?

Well, it never occurred to me not to keep it up. I enjoy it, it seems to serve a purpose and I do hope posting my homilies and other thoughts does some good for someone. So, for the time being, I'll keep it going.

But maybe a new name?

For some time I've thought the vanities I've been casting into the bonfire were my own--that's a good description of being a pastor. Beyond that, I'm not sure the title makes much sense. But then, perhaps it doesn't have to.

Anyway, what do you think? New name? And if so, any nominations?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Farewell Party

Well, I won't say as much as I might, because the words I come up with seem all wrong.

But it was a wonderful farewell party in Piqua today, with so many people and so much effort to make a nice event. I was glad to be able to talk to everyone, and I am especially grateful to those who brought children--not easy!--and those who don't get around well.

The parishes provided me a nice gift! An I-pad--which I now have to learn how to use!--and a nice gift of funds as well. Then there were many gifts from parishioners. Thank you so much!

To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this. I didn't want to say goodbye! But really, given that it is sad, it was as nice as it could be. That turned out to be pretty nice indeed!

Thank you to everyone who came and who sent cards and notes; thank for every gift, and all the efforts to put this together. Thank you for all the kindnesses, for overlooking my failures, bad temper, impatience, bad judgment, biases and inaction. Thank you for helping me to be a better Christian and a better priest.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

'He must increase; I must decrease.' (Sunday homily)

Of all the saints we honor, other than the Mother of God, 
no other saint is honored as much as St. John the Baptist. 

John is the last prophet of the Old Testament—
yet notice, while there’s a book of Jeremiah, a book of Isaiah, 
there is no book of John the Baptist. 
As Saint Augustine said, John is the voice—
but he only speaks one Word: Jesus Christ! 

In a sense, John in his person, 
summarizes and represents the entire Old Testament—
and in another sense, he simply points. 

This literally happened. 
All the other prophets said the Messiah would come. 
But John alone had the privilege of saying, “here he is!” 

In fact, we use his words at every Mass. 
Right before communion, the priest says, 
"Behold the Lamb of God—
behold him who takes away the sins of the world.” 

Those are John’s words. 

John said something else worth remembering: 
He must increase, I must decrease.” 

An ancient homily took note of the fact 
that John is born when the sun is high in sky—
and for the next six months, the days get shorter and shorter—they decrease. 
Then, our Lord is born in December—when the days are short—
and then the days get longer and longer. They increase.

Many people will say, I don’t know how to be a good Christian. 
I don’t know what God asks of me. 

How about this: if all you do this week is imitate John the Baptist, 
you would do very well! How? 

John’s every word was about the Lord. 
Prepare the way of the Lord. Get ready! 

If, when your life comes to an end, 
would it be all right if folks said of you, 
“All he ever did was point to Jesus Christ?” 

John was not wealthy or important—in a worldly way. 
He did not build anything. 
He did not have a family. 
Sometimes people will shy away 
from the religious life or the priesthood because of that. 

But if the Son of God said of you,
"no one born of women is greater than he”—
would that be a good enough legacy? 

A lot of us want to be witnesses to our Faith, 
but we may be afraid to speak up. 
People around us would rather we not say anything. 
Remember this: when John was arrested—and then martyred—
King Herod did not demand John deny anything he believed. 
He simply demanded John keep silent. 

When—after the Resurrection of the Lord—
the high priests arrested the Apostles, they asked the same thing: 
the Apostles simply keep silent about Jesus. 
 Today, not just at home, but throughout the world, 
Christians are being told by governments, 
by the media, by the culture, “keep silent!” 

Right now, we’re marking 14 days for Religious Freedom. 
When our government seeks to interfere 
with how we serve the poor and run hospitals and schools, 
it would like us to go along, quietly. 

In the spirit of John the Baptist, we must not be silent! 
But, like John, we have only one Word to say: 
the Word of God, Jesus Christ! 

Like John, we are focusing these two weeks on prayer and sacrifice. 
John spent a lot of his time deep in fasting and prayer. 
There is a place for us, as citizens, to speak out, to write letters, 
to be engaged in public affairs as is our right and duty… 
But for this Fortnight, we focus on prayer and fasting—like John. 

This is my last homily to you.*
I have thought a lot about what all I might wish to say. 
But I was sent here to speak his word, not mine. 
Seven years ago, I swore before you, and before God, on this altar, 
to make Christ known here. 

* This is my last weekend at Saint Boniface Parish. Next weekend will be my last weekend at Saint Mary.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mostly moved out...

We had a productive day.

Four of us hit the road to Cincinnati this morning after Mass with most of my worldly goods. (We prayed our office on the way.) First stop St. Rose, where folks came out of the woodwork to help get my stuff up the flight of stairs to my room.

Next stop St. Theresa of Avila Parish, where we picked up a load of items for Father Bolte, who is headed here in July. A crew of workers--and a small pile of stuff!--made things go fast.

Next stop--for one of the seminarians and me, in my car--was a stop to the White Castle at Hopple and Central Parkway. The drive-through was pretty slow.

Next stop: St. Mary, where we unloaded most of Father's items. Then St. Boniface, to unload items for his office. The truck went back to U-Haul, and I came back here to clean up for my next several tasks.

I still have some work to do in my office, but I'm getting things organized. It'll be spotless by June 29!

Then I'll have plenty of time in July to get unpacked at St. Rose. See y'all soon!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

50 Boxes...

I'm sitting in the dining room, surrounded by most of my worldly goods. Even though I'm not taking up residence at Saint Rose until July 2, most of my stuff will go there tomorrow. As we are driving down to Cincinnati, it made sense to bring back some of Father Bolte's stuff as well. So that made today a narrow window of opportunity to have the carpets cleaned--i.e., my stuff is out of my rooms, and Father Bolte's hasn't arrived yet.

But cleaning carpets means no walking on them all day today. So that meant everything had to be packed, and moved downstairs--to the non-carpeted rooms--last night.

So, while the carpet cleaners do their stuff, I'm sitting in the dining room, surrounded by most of my worldly goods. Still upstairs are enough clothes for my final two weeks, as well as a few personal items--such as a breviary and a Bible. I still have several boxes of items at the parish offices, but that may not go tomorrow.

It all adds up to fifty boxes, more or less. Pretty much everything I own. A lot of it is keepsakes from years ago, untouched in the boxes I packed them in when I came here.

It's a lot of stuff, although it easily could be more. I have almost no furniture, just three tables and two stools. A lot of it is books, many of which I could probably get rid of. A lot of the papers I probably would get rid of, if I cared to take the time to go through them. Chances are, I'll stick them in a closet once more...

I don't much like moving but it does force me to do an inventory doesn't it?

And I wonder what I'll forget and leave behind?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The threat to marriage (Sunday homily)

Thursday begins our “Fortnight for Freedom,” 
which all our bishops have asked us to observe with prayer, fasting and sacrifices. 

If you look in the vestibule, or in St. Clare Chapel, you’ll see a chart 
showing how many of us have already made some commitment. 

All told, we have commitments of thousands of Rosaries, 
holy hours and other prayers and sacrifices. Just from Piqua! 

The slips are still in the pews for you to make a commitment—
you can either put it in the collection, or take it home and bring it back later. 

Again, while the most immediate threat 
is the mandate forcing us to include contraception, 
sterilization and abortion-causing drugs in our health care plans, 
this isn’t the only threat. 

More lie ahead. I’m talking about the efforts to re-define marriage—
and the related issue of redefining 
what is normal and healthy in the area of sexual attraction. 

In a few minutes, I can’t cover all the issues here. 
 If you recall, last August, I wrote up a pamphlet 
that went through all this, and I put it in the bulletin. 
It’s called “What Catholics believe about same sex marriage.” 

If you want a copy, call the parish offices this coming week. 

So why do we believe what we believe? 
Let me make the point with some questions. 

Parents: when you were in your teens or 20s, 
did you say something like, “when I’m a parent, 
I won’t do it the way my mom and dad did?” 
You didn’t like your parents’ rules—they were too restrictive, 
they didn’t make any sense. 
Now that you are parents, how many of you have found yourself back—
at least to some extent—where your parents were? 

And I bet your own kids are saying the same things you said—
and you’re saying, “Yes…and you’ll find out.” 

Well, if it’s true for you, maybe it’s true for God? 

God gives us a path to walk—it’s called “chastity”: 
being open to the gift of life, waiting till marriage, 
marriage being for life, and marriage being about a man, a woman and a family… 

It isn’t an easy path. The alternatives seem harmless. 
Maybe the full wisdom of it will only be clear, when we reach the end? 

We’re at a point where as Christians, 
we are at odds with our culture in this respect. 

In fact, we’re at odds with ourselves—we don’t live this all that well. 

So either we get laughed at; or we’re called “bigots” 
when we insist that the government must not re-define marriage. 

Many ask, what’s the harm? 

First it harms the truth. The government can change laws, 
but it can’t change human nature. 

Second, it harms children. 
We are designed to grow up with a father and a mother. 
Yes, of course it doesn’t always work out. 
Single parents make great sacrifices, and thank God they do. 
But let’s not kid ourselves and say, it makes no difference—
of course it makes a difference. 

So why should we actually plan for children not to have a mother or a father? 
This is what happens when you redefine marriage; 
you also redefine family as well. 

The third harm is to religious freedom. Let me share some examples:

> Just a few weeks ago, a wedding photographer in New Mexico 
was sued because she chose not to take a job involving—
you guessed it—a same-sex wedding. 

> In Canada, a Catholic bishop was charged with “human rights violation”—
because he wrote a letter to priests about Catholic teaching on marriage.

> Now, both in Canada and in Britain, 
there is talk of denying tax-exempt status to churches 
that won’t allow same-sex marriages. 

> Finally, already in Massachusetts and in Illinois, Catholic charities 
no longer takes part in adoptions 
because the law demanded they accept 
the government’s re-definition of what a family is. 

It’s so tempting to go along with the culture. 
Saint Paul said, oh if only we just go be with the Lord! 
Yet he added, “we are courageous”! 

You and I are like the farmer in the Gospel: 
we don’t really know just how things grow. 
And even if the farmer does know, 
we don’t presume to know 
how God’s plans work out over long centuries. 

Are you discouraged by this situation? We’ve been here before! 
The first Christians faced a society where slavery was normal, 
parents could kill children if they were “defective,” 
and watching men kill each other was entertainment. 
Those first Christians—hated and persecuted—sowed the seed of the Gospel. 
And in time, that culture was transformed. 

Courage is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Even the bravest heroes in battle feel fear; 
but with God’s help, leaning on their comrades, they do what has to be done. 

But if we’re going to be courageous witnesses, 
we have to know what we believe—and why. 
In short, before we can convert our culture, we have to look at ourselves. 
Our culture isn’t going to be impressed 
with a message we ourselves don’t follow. 
Maybe that’s why we’re facing this trial: to prod us to face this question: 
Do we really believe this? 
Are we prepared to pay a price for what our Faith teaches us?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stand up for religious freedom

Here's my friend Father Jeffrey Keyes' compelling speech at a religious freedom rally.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Church's interest in our religious sisters

This isn't a subject I want to write about--but I think it's important that I say something.

As you probably know, there have been several stories involving some sort of disagreement between Church authorities and some of our religious sisters. What's that about, you may wonder?

Well, one story has to do with a series of concerns with a group called the "Leadership Conference of Women Religious"; the other has to do with a book authored by Sister Margaret Farley. In both cases, the concerns are being expressed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith--i.e., the office in Rome that seeks to ensure that those charged with teaching the faith, do so faithfully.

So what's this about? To put it simply, some of the decisions and statements of the LCWR have, over the years, sure seemed to deviate from what we believe as Catholics. The CDF folks have cited a number of concerns, such as speakers at public events, statements about "moving beyond" the Church, and other ways that Church teaching and practice have been contradicted or called into question.

Now, of course, if the folks at the LCWR believe that's not true, they have been invited to respond. Some of their leaders just met, yesterday I believe, with officials in Rome. This has yet to work itself out completely. And it isn't just about direct challenges to the Faith, but also how these religious orders might best go forward, so that they flourish, rather than shrink--as, sadly, many of them are.

But let's not beat around the bush. This didn't come out of nowhere. There have, indeed, been very real causes for concern over many years. So serious were these concerns that in the 1990s, a group of women religious in the country sought, and received, from Rome permission to form a new leadership group to represent them--because they grew unsatisfied with the LCWR.

Now, just to be clear, the issue is not with all religious--although that's how it's being framed. My understanding is the LCWR has a membership of about 1,500--as it's name makes clear, it's made up of leaders; those leaders may, or may not, accurately reflect the views of all the thousands of women religious in this country.

By point of comparison, there are two groups that might be taken as representing priests in this country: the longer-established "National Federation of Priests Councils," based in Chicago, and the recently established, "Association of U.S. Catholic Priests." I have no particular issue with either group--but I am not a member of either one. Many of the priests of the Archdiocese are affiliated with the first group, and one of our priests is part of the leadership. If any of our priests are part of the second, I'm not aware of it. The thing is, if someone--either in Rome or elsewhere--were to find fault with either group, I might agree, or disagree, or have no opinion; but why would I take that as a criticism of me?

The other question that comes to mind is this. For those folks who are up in arms about Rome calling for changes in the LCWR, is it their position that Rome isn't allowed to exercise this oversight?

It might be well to point out:

-- Every five years, every bishop in the world is required to present himself personally to the pope in Rome and give an account of his office.

-- Before I was ordained a deacon, I swore an oath on the Gospels to uphold the entirety of the Church's teaching; I repeated that oath when I became pastor, first of St. Boniface, then of St. Mary.

-- Every several years, my performance as pastor is subject to review by the Archbishop. Parishioners, staff and the pastoral councils complete evaluations which are sent to the Archbishop.

-- Besides these, there are many other ways I am accountable--to finance committees, to the pastoral councils, etc.

So while I can understand someone saying, the complaints aren't fair. But I don't accept the notion that Rome simply has no business even providing oversight.

Then there is the question of Sister Farley's book.

I haven't read it; I doubt I'll find time to do so. But in all the news reports I've read, I have yet to see her dispute the main point: that in her treatment of various subjects, such as sexual morality, marriage, and who can be ordained, she departs from, and in some cases directly contradicts, what the Church teaches.

So...why is she surprised that the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith would issue a statement saying her book is contrary to the Faith in these respects?

Again, if I wrote a book touching on questions of faith and morals, and if my book were contrary to the Faith--aside from the fact that I'd be mortified, aside from the fact that my soul would be in peril, both because I'd denied the Faith, and taught others to do so--well, as a priest, OF COURSE I'd expect someone in authority to throw a flag!

Here's what a lot of folks don't seem to understand about our Faith. I suspect a lot of us Catholics aren't clear on this.  This has to do with who has authority to teach in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As Catholics, we profess firmly that our Lord established his Church, and he gave to the Apostles--with Peter as the head--the "power of the keys." Now, there are folks who love to quibble and argue this point. They'll say, "Oh, did Jesus really establish the Church?" They question just what our Lord actually might have said to Peter and the Apostles, and what things might have "evolved" in the years after the Day of Pentecost.

Now, there are legitimate questions to consider in just how it happened--but what is not in question, for a faithful Catholic, is what happened: the God-Man, Jesus Christ, established his Church on the foundation of the Apostles. The exact words, where and much one might attribute to the Holy Spirit--who, Jesus said, would be sent precisely to continue to guide the Apostles and to illuminate those things they didn't quite understand before the Resurrection--such issues do not challenge the fundamental truth: He founded his Church on the Apostles. Period.

There is no need to quibble over whether our Lord used terms such as "sacrament" or "Mass" or "bishop," "priest" and "deacon," etc. These are distractions. What is important is that the Church, led by the Apostles, and their successors, his His Church--it's His enterprise more than it is ours; and thus it is up to Him, not us, to keep her on the path He intends.

So we believe, firmly, that in establishing His Church, our Lord conferred on her a "teaching office"--this is what is called "the Magisterium." Who exercises this teaching office in the name of Christ?

The answer is, the pope, in union with the bishops; and the bishops, when they are in union with the pope and each other. To the extent you and I teach what they teach, we teach authentically. (I've attempted to present this subject accurately yet simply. If anyone wants to read more about it, you can read the relevant sections--paragraph 85 and following--of the Catechism of the Catholic Church here. You have to scan down to find the section.)

Now, anyone who is looking at the present situation can see very plainly that there is great confusion about this.

We have priests in Germany who are openly defying the teaching of the Church regarding folks who have attempted marriage contrary to the Church's teachings, being able to participate in the sacraments. Sorry, Fathers, that's not your call.

We have colleges in this country who are more embarrassed to be associated with the Catholic Faith, than they are to be associated with political figures who think killing unborn children must remain legal. (Yes, I said "must"--that is the position of President Obama, HHS Secretary Sebelius, and many others.)

We have a newspaper called the "National Catholic Reporter" that, when not embracing and promoting heresy, pours acid on the foundations of faith.

Last year, we had a religious sister, as head of the Catholic Health Association, ride to the rescue of President Obama's health care bill, just when the bishops were united in seeking ironclad language protecting the unborn. At the moment when the bishops had firm prolife language almost in place,  Sister Carol Keehan's intervention was decisive in convincing pro-life Congressmen to ignore the bishops' concerns, to drop insistence on better language, and to pass the bill as it was.

At the time, Sister Keehan assured everyone that the bill was fine. Fast-forward to last February, when the Obama Administration issued rules--which are now law--that would force Catholic hospitals (and charities and universities and even religious orders) into immoral participation in contraception, sterilization and abortion.

When that happened, Sister Keehan said, in effect, "oops"--only quickly to reprise her role as Catholic apologist for the administration yet again, when the White House issued an essentially meaningless "accommodation" that, even if it is worth something, still hasn't been written into law! Millions of Americans will begin having their consciences coerced in this matter, starting August 1, thanks to Sister's intervention. And if we don't turn back the full implementation of the President's coercion, our Catholic institutions, including Catholic hospitals, will be shipwrecked, with her help.

And when we have a religious sister authoring a book that--by her own admission--contradicts the Church's teaching, and church authorities, as is their duty, point this out, what does the so-called association of Catholic "theologians" do? They endorse Sister Farley's book that contradicts the Faith!

My friend, Father John Zuhlsdorf, to describe this crisis, has coined a term, "Magisterium of Nuns." I would simply refer to all those, religious or not, who are determined to undermine the authentic teaching office ordained by our Savior--bringing with them many others who are unwittingly part of this.

Now, I said from the outset this isn't a comfortable item to write. Why did I say that?

Because there are priests and religious who will say, the Church's approach to this is unfair. (And that's possible; let them make their argument.) Or that I am being unfair. There is an admirable quality in so many of us Catholics, particularly priests, that we feel so much gratitude for what our religious sisters and brothers have done for us, that even where a criticism may be warranted, we'd rather not voice it, certainly not publicly.

There's something else worth mentioning.

Many times our religious brothers and sisters--especially our sisters--are subjected to cracks and criticisms from Catholics of a more traditional bent. A lot of this criticism quickly devolves into mockery.

Sometimes it's because sisters are deemed "too liberal"; or because they don't wear a habit, or other reasons. And while it's not that there can't be questions or criticisms about these matters, I have to say I find a lot of that commentary offensive and unworthy. I make a practice of wearing clerical attire most of the time; not all priests do that. Obviously I have my view on the matter, but I don't see the need to make cracks about other priests who handle it differently. If I have something to say to them, I'll say it directly, not here. Even moreso do I find it distasteful to make cracks about our religious sisters.

In my experience, I have known many religious sisters. We would not always see eye-to-eye on all matters. Yet I have tremendous respect for their commitment. Many of the sisters I know may not wear the habit, and you can make the argument they should, that's fine--but they are very serious about their service to the Church, and to their vows of poverty. I have seen it first-hand. That demands respect.

So, for all that, you might wonder--why then did you publish this post?

The answer is that this subject is being discussed--widely. Sadly, some who (I think) should know better are lining up against the Magisterium. The grave confusion that I described above is being made worse. And that is a crisis. That is, properly speaking, a "scandal"--meaning something that causes others to stumble and be turned away from the Faith.

As a priest, I have a duty to help build up the Faith, not tear it down. Others are choosing to use this situation as a means to tear down the Faith. Many of them are doing it, shamefully, under the cover of the name "Catholic"--as described above. I believe it's necessary to take a stand.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Corpus Christi Weekend, Procession & Benediction

Ah, I'm sitting in air-conditioning, reflecting on the weekend!

We had our annual 40 Hours this weekend for the Feast of Corpus Christi--all went well.

It was even crazier than usual--I was out of town till Thursday evening, and I had a lot waiting for me in the parish office on Friday. As an earlier post describes, I forgot we had a missionary visiting, till after I'd completed my homily for the weekend! You can read that homily if you like, I posted it Friday.

Yesterday was a blur. Rehearsal of the procession at 11 am; then we brought some items needed for the procession back to St. Mary; then I ran down to Troy to have some signs made for the vestibules--to show how many had promised rosaries, prayers, and sacrifices for the upcoming "Fortnight for Freedom." Then I met with the visiting missionary, Father Luis, and we went over the plan for the weekend--including how he would get back and forth, as he had no car. Then I had to put up the posters, then confessions, Mass, baptism, then a baptism party--which included a whiffle-ball game (which isn't easy wearing a cassock), which was called on account of darkness, with the score 30-28 or something like that. Our team--which lost--decided our defense needed work. I was home at midnight! It was fun being with this family: I've baptized their three youngest. Lots of things about being a priest are great: making new Christians is one of them.

This morning I actually had it easy. Father Luis took the 7 am; Father G. took the 9 am; Father C. took the 10:30 am, and I had the noon, plus the procession and benediction.

The procession was the smoothest ever I think. It was a hot but pretty day--thank God for the canopy!

We carried our Lord through the streets of Piqua, with everyone singing and praying. Thank you, neighbors for your forbearance.

At Jamieson & Yannucci Funeral Home, run by a parishioner, we had a temporary altar for prayers and benediction. We prayed for the Archbishop and Bishop Binzer, as I told them we would, and for our nation and for our community.

The only sour note was that, somewhere along the way, I stepped in a pile of some sort of goo. I knew it immediately; and I tried, while walking, to shake or wipe it off my shoe. No luck. I glanced down: it was big blob of multi-colored gunk, on both my shoes. Forgive me, Lord, but I'm thinking--as we approach Saint Boniface, about what a distraction that would be, on the soles of my feet, facing the people, as I knelt before the altar. So, at the doors of Saint Boniface, I kicked off my shoes and went in stocking-feet the rest of the way.

When I gave my homily, I explained that--adding I couldn't bring myself to track that goo on our new, hardwood floor!

I had more elevated things to say, however. I spoke about the privilege of bearing witness to our Faith, about the threats to our freedom and I mentioned the film, "For Greater Glory," which is currently in the theaters. It tells the story of how the Mexican Church was crucified not so long ago, but rose from the dead, victorious.

After we concluded Benediction--and I retrieved my shoes at the church doors! (Someone kindly cleaned off most of the crud--thank you! I am told it was a big bag of gummy worms. Whoever threw them into the street will have five extra minutes in Purgatory.) We had a potluck. I drank several cups of orange drink right away.

Then I met with a family I hadn't seen since my days at St. Albert. Five boys and a girl. Their oldest is now a seminarian, and he--along with another seminary student--made a special trip here to help out. And their mom reminded me that when they all came, as children, to daily Mass, I would encourage the boys to think about the priesthood. And now the oldest was in the seminary!

Of course, such things are in the hands of God--but wow, how encouraging is that?

By the way, the four seminarians who helped all had to leave right after; one to be with family, three to return to Indianapolis for a retreat with high school boys thinking about the priesthood. Two of them had driven over just for this, and now were driving back. How awesome is that?

Now I'm drying out and enjoying the silence and giving thanks to God for so many who made it all possible. What a joy!

Clueless (and embarrassing) Wash Post Lisa Miller

Ms. Lisa Miller, who covers religion for the Washington Post--what qualifies her is unknown--in a June 7 article ("Whose ‘radical feminists’?") engages in the familiar, sophomoric critique of the Church, making much of how clueless those dreary old men at the Vatican are. But let's see who's clueless.

It surprises me a little that the men--

notice right here the formulaic, men v. women template. Why is this relevant? Is it really true--as feminists argue--that men and women think so differently that men simply can't "get it"; which, if true, makes things like explanatory articles--such as every word that follows--rather pointless, doesn't it? But is it true? Ms. Miller expects you to assume it is true.

...who run things at the Vatican--

notice here that it's all about power: "who run things." Let's see if Ms. Miller shows any interest in an alternative question: is it true?

 ...did not use their most favorite recent pejorative – “feminist” — when they rapped the knuckles of Margaret Farley, a nun who has long been a professor at Yale, for having written a book about sex and love that condones masturbation (and as of Thursday morning was in Amazon’s top 20). In a million other ways, it doesn’t uphold their view of Christian sexual morality.

"Their" view: note again the reference to power. Ms. Miller: do you concede the possibility that it might be Christ's view? Are you interested in this question? Can you consider the possibility that some people, even dreary old men at the Vatican, might care about that question?

By the way, since you focus on masturbation--no doubt because for secular minds, the Church's concern about it seems so ridiculous--here's a clue, Ms. Miller. Can you offer a plausible explanation for why men in the Vatican insist on "their view" of masturbation...other than that they believe it's true? Here's a clue about masturbation: there aren't many men who wouldn't be happy to have permission to do it. Cheeky feminists like to say, "if men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." To which I counter: if sacraments are created by men according to their needs, then why isn't masturbation one?

And if you think I am unfair in explaining Ms. Miller's emphasis of masturbation, may I ask, then, of all the many topics Sister Farley addressed in her book, why focus on that one? That was neither Sister's only topic, nor her only dissent from Church teaching, nor the only matter raised by the mean men who "rapped her knuckles." So why masturbation? Is telling people it's sinful actually the gravest injustice of a male-dominated hierarchy? Greater than refusing sacraments to remarried divorced? Than refusing to validate same-sex relationships?

Because, unlike the other nuns the Vatican has been reprimanding recently, Sister Farley is, in fact, a feminist. An ethicist who has worked on the problem of HIV/AIDS, Farley was commended in 2005 by her Yale colleagues for her contributions to feminist theory.

I'm willing to bet the Vatican's criticism of Sister Farley has nothing to do with her AIDS work, or her accolades from Yale--oh, did you know she has long been affiliated with Yale?

Members of the Vatican hierarchy are using the word “feminist” and even “radical feminist” the way third-graders use the word “cooties.” 

Seriously, Ms. Miller? OK, it's your argument. Let's see what she can offer...

In April, the Vatican accused the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 57,000 nuns nationwide, of allowing “radical feminist” ideas to flow unchecked in their communities. In 2008, after launching an investigation against American nuns (the results of which have not yet been released), Cardinal Franc Rode told a radio interviewer that the nuns are suspected of “certain irregularities,” a “secular mentality” and “perhaps also a certain feminist spirit.”

The authors of these rebukes never define “feminism” or “radicalism.” In their hands, these words, which can carry legitimate intellectual meanings, appear to signify something like: “Yucky women who fail to heed our instructions and, anyway, don’t meet our standards of womanhood.” In other words, the sisters aren’t behaving as girls should.

Really, Ms. Miller? The Vatican's statements regarding problems in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious fail to say anything more about those problems other than women are "yucky"? What page does the "yucky women" quote appear, by the way?

Ms. Miller, you may not be aware of this, but if you do a search online, you will find a lot of items about the LCWR and it's dispute with the Vatican. Along the way, you'll discover quite a lot about the Vatican's concerns. Why, there's quite a history--not only of conflict between the women (yay!) of LCWR and the men (boo!) of the Vatican--but even among women religious, such that a new leadership organization representing women religious was created in 1992 by those religious who lacked confidence in those "who run things" at the LCWR. Oh, but we don't  hear about that question, do we? Can't fit it into the men-v-women narrative, can we?

Their casual use of these terms convinces me that the cardinals, in their vast experience, have never actually met a radical feminist theologian. 

Ms. Miller, I bet $100--to the Red Cross--that members of the college  of cardinals have, indeed, "met a radical feminist theologian." Will you take the bet?

Such creatures do exist, although American religious orders are hardly their breeding ground. What the Vatican hierarchy sees as a “radical feminist” is a woman who dares to believe that she’s equal to a man.

This sort of "argumentation" is embarrassing. Ms. Miller, maybe edit before you file your item?

"Even large sectors of the church itself have legitimate concern and want to continue to talk about the place of women in the church, and rightful equality between men and women,” Sister Pat Farrell, a member of the LCWR, told the New York Times last week. “So if that is called radical feminism, then a lot of men and women in the church, far beyond us, are guilty of that.”

Now that we have a quote from the LCWR's perspective, will we see something presenting the Vatican's concerns? (Crickets...)

Lisa Isherwood is a real-life radical feminist theologian. She is editor of the journal Feminist Theology and a professor at Winchester University in England. She believes that the men at the Vatican are using the term “radical feminist” as a right-wing scare tactic, for it evokes other enemies far more dangerous than nuns. Their thinking, she says, goes like this: “We hear the word radical Islam, and everyone panics, so let’s chuck that at them.”

The mother of radical feminist theology was the late Mary Daly, who started life as a committed Roman Catholic and spent most of her career teaching at Boston College, a Catholic institution.

She was driven to criticize her beloved church after she sat in on sessions of the Second Vatican Council in Rome and felt that women had no meaningful part in the proceedings. She was, she wrote later, appalled by “the contrast between the arrogant bearing and colorful attire of the ‘princes of the church,’ ” she wrote later, “and the humble, self-deprecating manner and somber clothing of the very few women. . . . Watching the veiled nuns shuffle to the altar rail to receive Holy Communion from the hands of a priest was like observing a string of lowly ants at some bizarre picnic.”

In her breakthrough 1974 book, “Beyond God the Father,” Daly wrote, “If God is male, then the male is God. The divine patriarch castrates women as long as he is allowed to live on in the human imagination.” Now that’s a radical feminist for you. Daly’s work gave voice to generations of feminist scholars.

Yes, indeed, that's a good representation of radical feminism. Good examples of (a) contempt for women who don't follow their mindset ("a string of lowly ants"); (b) absurd reasoning: "If God is male, then the male is God." OK, try this: If God is spirit then the spirit is God--there is  no such thing as created, non-divine spirits. Is this even logical?

And what does it say about Ms. Daly's thought-process that she uses the image of castration? Women can't be "castrated" of course; the only meaning the statement has is to suggest that there is something especially powerful about having testicles. Why would a radical feminist argue this way?

And (c), it's an example, yet again, of how it all comes back to power. If you were holding your breath waiting  for Ms. Miller to pursue the question of what's true, you've passed out by now.


She deeply loves her church and believes that at its core, Roman Catholicism has a radical feminist message. “The church should be radical. It should be saying, ‘More inclusion, more equality.’ An abundance of life is a fundamental Catholic value. The idea of ordination of women and so on is just one very small, very significant point. Radical feminism would want the church to be more proactive in terms of working for a life of abundance for the marginalized.”

First, one notes the assertion: "she deeply loves her church"--really? Does she believe her Church possesses the Deposit of Faith? That what we seek is the truth about God and about ourselves, as Jesus taught us? What if that truth is other than what she hopes? Isn't it even possible the Church is right in her moral teaching, in her theology of God, and in defining who can be ordained? What then?

And has anyone else wondered what any of this has to do with masturbation? Which--aside from the question of truth, which never seems to matter--which seems more radical: to challenge worldly notions of sexual gratification and to demand commitments involving real sacrifice; or to endorse the sexual revolution and let people know they don't have to make much change in their sexual and marital practices, as a consequence of following Christ? Which sounds more like "take up your cross and follow me?" Or is that too much like what "lowly ants" do?

Now that’s a threatening idea.

To whom?

Friday, June 08, 2012

The suffering of the whole Body of Christ (Corpus Christi homily)

OK, this is a lesson in what happens to parish priests.

All day I've been working on my homily for this weekend. The reason it took all day is because I had a number of phone calls, problems, visits, etc. Finally, about an hour ago, I finished it--it seemed reasonably polished--good!

For the last hour, I worked on a few other things.

Another phone call, 5 minutes ago. Leave me alone!

It was the retired priest at the rectory. He'd gotten a call about a visiting priest this weekend.

Head slap. "Oh, yeah, I forgot."

That's the priest who is making his mission appeal. At all Masses. He's preaching.

Meaning I didn't need to prepare a homily.

While I don't blame anyone but myself, can you imagine how frustrating this is?'s the homily I was going to preach. Why waste it?

And as my mother still says, from heaven, "offer it up." Amen, mom.


We often say, we want Mass to be a celebration. And it is.

Yet we’re gazing at the Cross. Our God suffering and dying.

We don’t like looking at the Cross. 
In the 70s and 80s, a lot of churches took it out; 
or we left it bare; or we took down the broken body of the Lord
and put up a smiling, resurrected Jesus.

But not only our bishops said, bring back the crucifix—
the sense of the faithful said it. And there he is.

Around the world, right now, religious persecution is a major problem. 
Hundreds of thousands are suffering or dying each year for their faith. 
Most of them are Christians. Major parts of the Body of Christ are suffering.

Here at home, we’re facing threats to religious freedom.

On August 1, the President’s order that health plans 
include contraceptives, sterilization and drugs that cause abortions 
will go into effect as law. 
Only religious organizations have been told they can wait a year to comply. 
Unless a court suspends the order, 
most of you will come under this in about six weeks; 
and all religious organizations, next August.

To comply, our hospitals, universities and charities 
will have to operate contrary to our Catholic faith. 
When we can’t run Catholic Charities in a Catholic way, 
it ceases being Catholic Charities. 
That’s why the Archbishop of Chicago said he’ll close the hospitals 
rather than be false to our faith. 
Archbishop Schnurr hasn’t said what he’ll do—
but he said, “we cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law.”

Will Notre Dame will become the University of South Bend? 
Will Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton 
become Good Citizen Hospital, run by the government?

Many of our bishops and charities and colleges have gone to court. 
We have a good case. But nothing is certain.

This is why the bishops are asking us to keep a “Fortnight for Freedom”
—from June 21 to July 4—in which all 70 million Catholics in this country 
unite in prayer and sacrifice for the preservation of our religious freedom. 
And this is why we asked, last week, 
for commitments to pray or sacrifice in some way. 

So many of you responded! Thank you! 

But a lot of us haven’t committed yet. 
I admit I held back because I wanted to think about it, 
and write down my promises so I’d remember!

Commitment forms are in the pews. Feel free to fill one out now, 
while I’m talking. 
Or else take one home and bring it back next week. 
Again, I ask everyone, young to old, to make some commitment.

Even if we win the present challenge, more storms are on the horizon.

I said before that we don’t like looking at the Cross—but we can’t look away.

And it’s not just the Body of Jesus on the Cross—
it’s the whole Body of Christ on the Cross.

To be a Christian is to share in his suffering—
precisely because the Son of God chose to share in human suffering. 
And by the way—there’s our teaching on social justice summed up. 
Jesus chooses to stand with the poor and the persecuted—
so if we want to be with him, that’s where we’ll be.

There’s a film in the theaters right now called “For Greater Glory.”

It tells how, just 80 years ago, Catholics in Mexico 
saw their government declare war on them. 
I cannot say strongly enough: go see this movie! 
It is violent—that’s why it’s rated R. 
It’s the violence of how Mexico was crucified by her own Pontius Pilate.

Now, you could just see violence in that story and nothing else—
just like people look at the Cross, and simply want to look away.

But you can also see something beautiful. I went with a group of priests. 
We were crying. We saw why we became priests. 
For me, part of why I became a priest 
was because of the story of those Mexican priests, 
hunted down and killed during those years.

I remember when I learned of Blessed Jose Sanchez—
whose image we added to St. Boniface last year—
and it touched me powerfully, 
as it did our kids who suggested him. 
His story is part of this movie. 

To see that boy, stand for Christ, standing alone—
and really to be at Calvary, even though
it was Mexico, not Jerusalem, 1900 years later. 

I want to be Blessed Jose! I want that courage! 
I want to stand with Christ when the hour of choosing comes! Don’t you?

So when we see Christ on our crucifix…
we see our Lord on the altar, in the Mass…
when we feed on his flesh and blood…

Remember it is the whole Body of Christ. It’s our cross. 
When the priest offers the Lamb of God to the Father, 
we also offer ourselves. 
To the extent we really live our Christian lives before others, 
then folks who have never received the Eucharist, get their first taste.
They will follow us back to the Source.

Mass for Sacred Heart: ad orientem

You are invited.

Next Friday, June 15, is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart.

Mass at 7 pm at the beautifully restored Saint Boniface Church in Piqua.

Mass will be offered in the ordinary form, with some Latin, plenty of incense, and ad orientem--meaning for the second half of the Mass, when the priest is at the altar, he will face the same way as the people.

Because it's Friday, it's hard to get much of a choir together, sorry about that. But if folks who can sing show up, we're there! As celebrant, I'll do my part.

FYI, we'll do it again on Thursday, June 28, the Vigil of Saints Peter and Paul, again at Saint Boniface, again at 7 pm.

Some folks don't get why any of this is appealing or worth doing. Feel free to ask questions via comments.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Holy Trinity: We're part of God and part of his work (Sunday homily)

Last week was Pentecost—the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Today we reflect on the Holy Trinity.
What’s the connection?

When we receive the Holy Spirit,
He brings us into the life of God himself.

It’s like our church. A lot of folks drive by it;
they know people here;  
maybe they’ve been here for a festival.

But until you pass through the doors, 
you aren’t actually “inside” the church.

In a similar way, we may read about God, hear about God,
but until we are born again in the Holy Spirit,
we aren’t “in” the life of the Trinity.

This is what making the sign of the Cross means:
Jesus’ death on the Cross opens the door to God’s inner life;
then the waters of baptism bring us there.

When we say these things—“we enter the inner life of God”—
This is an astonishing thing to say.

Let me contrast this with other world religions.

Islam insists there is a gulf between us and God
that cannot be crossed.

Buddhism says very little that’s definite about God;
God is largely a question-mark.

Hinduism looks at God and the world
as a jumble of contradictions, we can’t hope to unravel.

Don’t get me wrong—we all ask many of the same questions.
And as Vatican II said, there are elements of truth in all these religions.

But as Christians, we make a unique statement.
We assert very confidently that we can penetrate the mystery of this world.
We claim to know some very definite things about God and his plan for us.
And we don’t just say “maybe”—we say, “these things are true!”
That’s what we do when we profess our Creed together.

And the reason we say claim we can know these things,
Is because God himself has given us a key to the mysteries.
That’s who Jesus is!

That’s what it means when he says:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life—
no one comes to the Father except through me.”

To be a Christian is to go beyond the veil.

Because Jesus also said,
he would give us the Spirit to lead us
into the fullness of the truth.

That’s a promise that, as St. Anselm said,
Faith really can seek understanding;
that knowledge and faith go together.

That’s why Christianity gave birth to
great universities a thousand years ago.
That’s why those Christian universities
gave birth to modern science as we know it.

And that’s why, here in Piqua,
we invest so much in our Catholic schools.

Because we believe Jesus gives us
the power to penetrate the deepest mysteries!
He is the light when all other lights go dark.

And this is why we will protect our religious freedom.

As we talked about last week, there are many threats.
Some are bigger than others.
But they aren’t coming from one political party or one direction.
It’s not only the federal mandate about health care,
although that’s the biggest threat.

In Alabama, some vagueness in a new law raises questions:
will churches be breaking the law
if they give food and clothing to illegal immigrants?

In California, there was talk of banning circumcision,
a religious rite important to Jews and Muslims.
Those are just three examples of many I could cite.

You and I must stand up for religious freedom
for the sake of the Truth Christ entrusted to us.
So, the bishops have asked all Catholics, nationwide,
from June 21 to July 4 to tap the power of the Spirit  
by fasting and praying and sacrificing—as one Body—
for our rights to be safeguarded.
They’re calling it the “Fortnight for Freedom.”

In your pews are commitment slips. Please pass them out now.
I am asking everyone—of every age—
to make some personal commitment
to prayer and sacrifice for religious freedom.

Parents, help your kids make an appropriate commitment.
Go ahead now and mark them if you want,
and then put them in the collection basket in a few minutes.

In the vestibule you may have seen a “Commitment Board.”
Right now it’s blank.
We’re going to fill it with all these commitments.
We’ll record them at both parishes
so everyone can support each other in this.

What you turn in today we’ll put on the boards by next weekend.
Next week we’ll see if more folks want to make commitments.
We’ll keep doing this until we complete the Fortnight for Freedom.

Being part of God’s inner life means being part of his work.
No sideline-sitting.
This isn’t someone else’s job.
It’s the task of the whole Body of Christ.

That includes you.
That’s why I’m asking you to decide what part you will take.