Monday, October 10, 2011

Another weekend...

Saturday wasn't too bad...

Pet blessing in the morning (every year near St. Francis Day); worked (fitfully) on homily till confessions at 3:30; Mass at 5 pm. Had to run over to other parish before confessions to take care of a few things, took a little longer. After Mass, retired priest who lives at rectory and I had dinner, something that happens rarely.

Sunday up for 7 am Mass; visited children in religious education classes at 9 am, presented Bibles to 6th graders. Mass at Noon; baptism after.

From 3-4:30 pm I was with junior high, giving them some information about the Bible. Back to St. Mary for evening Mass. After Mass, a distraught parishioner needed to talk about a problem, we could only speak a short time before I headed to the nursing home to visit a parishioner. Turns out the parishioner was sent to hospital, so I went there (after visiting other parishioners).

After that I had dinner around 8 pm. Around 9 I remembered I was going to try to stop in at another church in town for a tribute to a soldier who died in Iraq, but the call to the nursing home prevented that.

Sorry no text of homily. I developed some points but never wrote it out.

Briefly, my homily was about heaven. And I explored three points:

> Heaven is good--we don't know a lot about it, but it will be good. However, it may be good in a way we don't, at present, like (and not everyone wants it; note the folks who refused the wedding invitation); because we may have to give up other things for heaven. I compared how some say heaven sounds "boring" with those who say the same for Mass; and pointed out that if you view Mass in a worldly way, it is boring. But the true reality of Mass is anything but. What's more, I said, "let me tell you a secret: when you're at Mass, you're in heaven." And I explained that.

> Heaven is a gift--we don't earn it, we get invited. I said: "we don't go to heaven because we're good; we're good to the extent we're being influenced by heaven." Our spiritual life is the back-and-forth between heavenly influences and what we want that's not heavenly. If we allow it, heaven will draw us and make us ready for heaven. I touched on purgatory here.

> But we do have to get ready for heaven. I explained the fellow who lacked a wedding garment; it seems unfair to have him thrown out, but that detail serves as a warning for us: get ready; be ready in case you are summoned quickly.

The possibility of missing heaven and going to hell is real; or else so much in the Scriptures would be pointless. But God is working really hard to get us to heaven, so we have hope.

I said other things but that is a quick summary.

Today I had my day off, and I'm taking it easy. I saw "Moneyball" which was enjoyable but slow at the beginning. Too much navel-gazing.


Anonymous said...

I am thankful that your homilies seem to coincide with the occasional disconcerting information my son has been receiving in his religion class "creed and call". This week they did a mock debate on 'does God exist' and he was startled by the arguments his fellow classmates gave, without correction from his teacher, that you get to heaven by doing good works. It was the first thing he mentioned when I picked him up from school because he found it such a startling theological viewpoint. I reaffirmed that you do good works in response to Gods gift of salvation and told him I thought the official Catholic viewpoint was similar and that the boys probably just misspoke. Today I was able to show him your homily so he would not get a biased view of Catholic theology.

I really do appreciate your blog as a resource for Christian hermeneutics from a Catholic perspective. It has alleviated some potentially awkward misunderstandings.


Fr Martin Fox said...


Thanks for your comments!

About faith and is a subtle point. We don't "earn" heaven, we don't get there because of our good deeds; on the other hand, we also don't go empty-handed. As the Letter of St. James points out, "faith without works is dead."

In theory, someone could die in a state of grace yet have no works whatsoever; someone who, let us suppose, lived a completely terrible life, and yet--at the very last moment--threw himself on the mercy of Christ and made a sincere profession of faith.

But the Scriptures show us being judged according to our works, for example, the sheep and the goats.

And if we cling to our sins, then we can submit these for judgment; but we won't like the Lord's honest assessment of them. Far better to bring them to the judge for mercy--which is what we do in confession, at which time the guilt of them is erased. What remains is the effect they had, and that we still deal with: that's what we call the "temporal punishment due to sin" and what our penances in this life, and our experience in purgatory, deal with.

So...our works matter, but they don't earn us heaven. They are the fruit of our cooperation with God; and remember, the Lord said he expected fruit from his vineyard.