Sunday, July 06, 2008

What my Grandma knew about Saint Paul (Sunday homily)

When Paul talks about the “flesh” and the “Spirit,”
he’s not saying our bodies are bad;
but rather that, if we don’t fight it,
we will find that our bodies rule us,
rather than we ruling our body.

Who likes Doritos?
Have you ever looked at the little box on the back?
It gives the suggested portion…who knows what it is?
Nobody knows, because nobody pays attention to that!
Either you grab a handful, or, if you are like me,
you rip it open, head to the recliner, then...
“Gee, where’d they go?”

Maybe Doritos don’t do it for you;
maybe it’s the Internet or beer;
maybe it’s always winning the argument.
One way or the other, we’re all “debtors to the flesh.”

That changes when we are baptized—born of the Spirit.
When you and I became Christians,
we began an entirely new way of living.

And yet, how many Christians are surprised,
even offended when the Church—when the Lord—
calls us to a way of life that is challenging, sacrificial,
and put us out of step with the world around us?

With every ad and web page, our culture blares at us,
mocking chastity, devaluing sex,
telling us there’s something embarrassing
about being a virgin—why do we tolerate that?

Teenagers, I want to say this directly to you:
I’m sorry we grownups are letting you down.
We’re leaving you a culture that gives you trash.

Understand this: the advertisers, the entertainers,
they dangle a pretty lifestyle in front of you, but—
all they want is your money.
They make you feel “left out” so you’ll buy in.

You and I must be bold to say,
it is not living for Jesus Christ that is wrong;
it is our culture that is wrong—it is sick, and dying.

More and more couples live together before marriage.
If they are intimate and using contraception,
that will likely continue in their marriage.
No wonder what the Church teaches about
keeping that intimacy open to the gift of life
seems such a impossible ideal.

Yet studies show that couples living together
before marriage are more likely to get divorced.
That is also the case for those using contraception.

One of the many things couples practicing
Natural Family Planning discover
is something new and powerful in their intimacy.
They report it is better, fresher, more enduring,
because it’s less about self-fulfillment,
and more about giving oneself away.

So what do we do?
We're like the folks in Iowa--the flood waters are pouring in everywhere,
and we don’t even know where to begin.
We might begin with the wisdom of my grandmother, who said:
Being a Catholic is a hard life—but it’s an easy death.

And we can begin by recalling the wisdom
of weekly, even daily penance.
We used to do without meat on Friday every week.
The idea was to honor the day the Lord died for us,
But also to die to the deeds of the flesh.

Please pray for me.
As a priest, it is easy for me to think,
“I give a lot—I’m entitled…
to a beer, a snack, a little extra sleep!”

At the end of the day,
the reason we Christians choose works of the Spirit
is that, while we will feel out of step in this world,
we will find we fit perfectly into the Kingdom to come!

As my grandmother used to say:
Being Catholic is a hard life—but it’s an easy death.


Osgood said...

I love the quote at the end! Your grandmother hit it right on!!!

Anonymous said...

It has been a while since I thanked you for posting your homilies. Thanks.

Tim Lang

mamacantrix said...

I missed this today...I was at the 9:00. But I'm so glad you post these! Thank you! And I'll bring you a beer at the choir party on Friday.

Mark Daniels said...

With the expected Lutheran caveats, this is another fine message.

Pastor Mark Daniels

mrsdarwin said...

Father, I'm constantly impressed by your ability to pack so much into such a short sermon (for which all parents of young children must thank you), by your willingness to take on the "controversial" topics, and by your pastoral sensibilities. We need more homilists like you! God bless your ministry.

And I eat Doritos like you do...

Father Martin Fox said...


I would be interested to hear the "usual Lutheran caveats" -- I hope my other commenters won't give you a hard time (Father gives everyone a hard glance).

Father Martin Fox said...

Thank you Mrs Darwin!

frival said...

Just one word, Father: excellent. As someone once told me, anything can be said poorly with many words but to say something well with few words takes work, talent or both. Didn't Chesterton have a line about the inverse relation between preparation needed and time given to speak?

Jay Anderson said...

What she probably did NOT know is what Maureen Down claims to know: that St. Paul was, apparently, a "world-class misogynist".

Rachel Gray said...

Well, Katharine Jefferts Schori says those who oppose women being ordained bishops "just don't like women", so we'll have to get in line with St. Paul. :)

Really great homily, Father! It's so true we need penance, and we need to feel out of step in this world.

Just today I was at jury duty watching people who looked very well-dressed, powerful, and purposeful go by. I wished I was one of them, and then I opened the Diary of St. Faustina and read something about how she dislikes what the world admires, and I realized how much my head had been turned simply by standing in the hallway of a court building. This world just sucks me in!