Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The City of God (Sunday homily)

 In the second reading we have the new Jerusalem, 

the city of God.

The thing about a city – or, even a rural area like ours –

is there is a lot of interdependence.

When I got up this morning, I wanted water, I turned the knob.

Food for lunch in the fridge. A/C hummed all night.

But all those wonderful things only happen 

because of those who run the water plant, 

maintain the electric lines, and who bring food to the store.  

The City of God works the same way. We belong together.

Our American way of thinking emphasizes individualism.

We like being free to do as we wish.

So a lot of Catholics tend to think about faith 

as being an individual thing.

And when we, or our bishops, talk about the obligations 

of being a Catholic, it doesn’t always register.

I think this explains why so many don’t go to confession.

Why can’t we just tell God? 

And the answer is because our sins don’t just involve God, 

they involve his Body, the Church.

And so, also, our reconciliation is in and through the Church.

Most of us were born American citizens,

but if you talk to people who are naturalized, 

they’ll tell you about the many steps they took, 

and they’ll talk about how powerful it was 

to swear their allegiance and become a citizen.

Well, it’s even more true with baptism. 

That’s why we renew our baptismal vows at Easter, 

and why we profess our Creed each Sunday. 

And being a citizen in God’s City, the Church,

Means we live our lives in our Faith and by our Faith.

When you think of it that way, 

how can we have a part of our lives we live outside the City?

And yet, that’s where a lot of Catholics are. 

Go on the Internet--get outside; 

how we run our business, or treat other people, 

how we shop or how we vote: we go outside the City.

And this is why we come here every Lord’s Day.

This is where the city we are not yet--

but which God is fashioning us to be--is made present.

This city doesn’t have a mayor; we have a King.

And the King is here! Of course, we come!

If you read further in the book of Revelation, 

you’ll see that in the center of that City is a Tree, 

“the Tree of Life” – and it gives fruit 

“for the nations 12 months a year.”

That Tree is the Cross. 

That Tree, the Cross, is made present at every Mass on the altar.

The fruit of that tree is the Most Holy Eucharist!

This church, right here: we’re in the City of God right now!

Of course, we come!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Let Mary be your companion (May Crowning)

 We honor Mary, which is quite right to do, 

because of her amazing generosity: she said yes to God. 

We honor her because she acted at the great fulcrum of history: 

everything that matters for us hinged on her yes to heaven. 

So, we have St. Bernard, who wrote a moving appeal 

to the Blessed Mother, as if he – and all humanity – 

were watching in the wings as Gabriel came to her. 

He says, answer boldly, don’t be afraid to answer, we all beg it of you!

Or, we have a Protestant poet, Wordsworth, 

who described Mary as our “tainted nature’s solitary boast,” 

and I confess those words bring tears to my eyes 

every time I call them to mind.

My point being to describe – and defend – 

our extravagant honors to Mary.

I might add, in passing here, that sometimes our friends and family 

who are not Catholic do not understand this. 

They think it goes too far and they suggest we are worshipping Mary 

in a way that only God is to be worshipped.

I want to answer those objections, as someone who – 

when I was in my 20s – would have made those very same arguments! 

Because in my 20s, I was away from the Church 

and bought into many of those ideas.

Let me point out, first, that if you understand clearly 

what IS Catholic worship, 

you will realize how wrong it is to say we worship Mary.

What, after all, is the heart and center of Catholic worship? 

What are we all commanded to do at least on Sundays, 

but attend Holy Mass? And Holy Mass is offered every single day. 

Here is something you will never see; indeed, it makes me shudder 

to think of it: you will never, not ever, see a Catholic Mass 

offered TO Mary. 

When the priest lifts up the Body and Blood, what does he say: 

“Through him, with him, in him, O God almighty Father, 

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is YOURS, 

forever and ever.”

There it is: the Mass is offered TO THE FATHER, 

through JESUS, “in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Never, not ever, will you hear a priest say these words to MARY. 

Likewise, we believe that as the consummation of Mass – 

if we are in a state of grace, we receive the Eucharist – 

which is Jesus of course. 

But here’s a great way to explain our devotion to Mary. 

We worship Jesus – particularly in the Eucharist. 

But we know that without Mary, there would be no Eucharist. 

She gave us his Body and Blood, when she conceived him in her womb! 

So while we ADORE Jesus, we are GRATEFUL to Mary.

The other point I want to make is this. 

In a prayer of dedication used at baptisms, it says, “our love for you” – 

that is, Mary – “is only a participation in the love of Jesus for you.” There it is.

Who can doubt that Jesus’ own love for his mother 

must be more intense than a thousand suns? 

Each of us feels such great gratitude and love for our own parents, 

who can ever imagine Jesus feeling any less? 

Indeed, it surely must be far, far MORE than our love can ever be.

So I will just say that if you think Catholics get silly 

in our love for Mary, 

all you really have to do is think long and hard 

about how much Jesus must love his own mother. 

She who, after all, was mocked by people who ridiculed her claim 

that the Holy Spirit caused her pregnancy. 

She who suffered in so many ways 

as a result of being the mother of the Messiah, 

and the worst of it, of course, 

was seeing her son tortured and murdered. 

Who could ever bear such a thing?

And what son could see his mother so tormented, 

and not feel a gratitude and love beyond all description? 

If you think Jesus could behold that 

and not love Mary beyond all words, you are basically saying 

he had no human heart at all, but was some sort of emotionless robot.

So, our friends who mean well when they say we overdo it, 

while intending only to honor Jesus, actually end up – 

again, unintentionally – diminishing him. 

But back to the main point which is this.

Yes, we honor Mary, we thank her, we love her. 

But do not make the mistake of thinking she is unapproachable. 

That she is simply to be admired. That would, indeed, go too far.

Mary is a companion, as are all the saints. 

As we are called to be to each other. 

The Scriptures always show her companionship. 

Immediately, she went to visit Elizabeth and Zachariah, 

no doubt because she learned her relative was six months pregnant. 

She accompanied Joseph and Jesus to Egypt 

and to Jerusalem for Passover. 

She and Joseph searched for Jesus when he was missing. 

After Joseph died, 

Mary was with her son and his companions constantly, 

right up until the day he died. 

She was with the apostles, praying for the Holy Spirit, 

in the days after Jesus ascended into heaven. 

And remember, Jesus gave Mary to the Apostle John to care for, 

and tradition tells us that is what he did, 

until her life on earth ended and her body was taken to heaven.

Surely she, too, cared for John?

What I invite you to do is remember this prayer book in the pews – 

on page XX you will find a litany to Mary. 

Some of the titles are obscure – 

although you can look them up online if you like – 

but many are perfectly understandable. 

They are invitations for you 

to see her as a companion in your own troubles:

“Mother most amiable” – that means friendly

“Mother of good counsel” – she will always give you good advice

“Mother of mercy” – 

she will always welcome you and help you seek out her son for forgiveness.

“Mother most prudent” – 

no one has a more level head and calm disposition. 

She’s been through a lot!

“Virgin most powerful” – her Son is God and he’s always listens to her!

She is a companion when you are sick, when you are afraid, 

and when you have lost your way. 

She knows what sorrow is, what missing someone you love feels like, 

and she knows the heartache of losing someone you love. 

She was there when Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist, 

she helped take care of Zachariah, she cared for Joseph until he died,

 and she stood at the foot of the Cross. 

There is no trial, no fear, no pain, she doesn’t know.

Let her be your companion.

Sunday, May 01, 2022

What should Peter say to a transgender sanhedrin? (Sunday homily)

When we hear in the first reading, 

the Apostles saying what the Lord sent them to say, 

and they are met with hostility...

Let’s hit the obvious point: 2,000 years and nothing has changed.

You and I face the same choice as Peter: Do we obey God or men?

An urgent case right now is what’s happening in the medical field.

There are powerful forces, including in the federal government, 

who believe doctors, nurses, pharmacists, 

and others in the health profession, 

must not be allowed to refuse to take part in an abortion, 

or in a suicide, 

or in providing drugs or surgery that facilitate someone to say, 

I’m not a girl anymore, I’m a boy, or vice-versa.

I’m going to take a couple of minutes on the transgender question, 

because this is still pretty new, it’s confusing, 

and people don’t know how to respond.

A great deal of what you hear on transgender issues 

is propaganda and outright lies.

They refer to so-called “transgender medicine.”

No! It’s not medicine, it’s abuse, it’s quackery, it’s magical thinking.

I’m now going to state, not theology or faith, but biological fact; 

as much a fact as that this planet is round, and we circle the sun:

human beings are either a boy or a girl.  

In extremely rare situations there can be some physical ambiguity, 

but the fundamental male or female identity is still there.

And there are all manner of ways people’s thinking or self-perception 

can be out of sync with themselves or the world around them.

So, people feeling at odds with their physical bodies is not fake.

It’s not a joke. This a difficult trial deserving real help.

Even so, whether you are male or female is not a choice or a mindset.

And no surgery, no drug, nothing can undo the basic biological fact.

By the way, this isn’t the only way this happens in life, 

that we long to change something about ourselves, but we cannot.

Some things we can change. Others are beyond our control.

If the latter, it becomes a matter of better or worse ways 

to carry our cross and make peace with the hand we’ve been dealt.

One more key detail: this whole thing is largely aimed at children.

Again, children. Not just under 18, but pre-puberty.

And you should know that counselors and psychologists 

and other medical personnel are being told, 

that if a child comes to you, you must – MUST – “affirm only.”

What does that mean?

It means you are not allowed to assist that child 

to get back to a place of self-acceptance. 

Instead, you can only say, OK, you are now a boy, 

here’s a drug, here’s a surgery, your life is altered forever.

All before you hit 15 years old.

All that is only one way you and I must be Peter today,

and obey God rather than men. 

There are lots of other hard things our Lord had to say: 

about money, about possessions, about the poor,

about clearing my own eye before dealing with your flaws.

And sooner or later, you and I aren’t actually Peter being brave.

We’re the Sanhedrin saying, I don’t want to hear that!

Notice Jesus asked Peter about his love three times.

They were using two different words translated as “love.”

Jesus was asking, Do you love me with a go-to-the-cross love?

Peter comes back with a, yeah-you’re-kind-of-cool “love.”

Peter’s love was weak, but Jesus built on that, 

and Peter ultimately did go to the cross.

Give Jesus your little bit of love and he will get you there.

When you and I face our Sanhedrin, our “stop saying that” moments, 

there is no excuse to forget that we want the good, 

including the final good of heaven, for each person we disagree with. 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Mercy, Resurrection, Eucharist Junction (Sunday homily)

 So, this Sunday we focus on three things.

First, the Mercy of God since this is Divine Mercy Sunday. 

Second, the Resurrection. 

And third, about the Holy Eucharist, because our second graders are making their first Holy Communion.

Let’s start with God’s mercy, because that’s what it’s all about.

Why did God do any of the things he did for us? 

Come to earth, take up the cross, give us the sacraments?

It’s all mercy, it’s all about saving us, changing us, making us saints.

So, what I’m going to say next is just for some people here, 

because some good folks, who are trying SO hard, 

need to stop and, if you will, press their nose to that image of MERCY. 

Let me explain it this way: we humans have a NEED:

we are alienated from God. 

God responds with a GIFT: that is, his Mercy. 

So, again, NEED and GIFT.

Some folks don’t really take their need seriously. 

As a result, they undervalue the gift.  

So, if you think pretty much EVERYONE goes to heaven, 

then where’s the urgent need?

Meanwhile, there are others, some of whom are here;

And you focus so intensely on your NEED – 

“I am so sinful, I am so, so far from what God wants!” – 

that you don’t focus enough on the GIFT.

Remember what St. Faustina said: “Jesus I TRUST in you!”

Take an example from the Apostle Thomas. 

He started out looking at his doubts and fears; i.e., at himself.

Jesus tells him, don’t look at yourself, look at ME: 

see my wounds, touch them. Believe in ME. 

When you and I get overly anxious about our sins, it’s the same.

Yes: take a few minutes to examine yourself. But then stop! 

Shift your gaze from your own failings, 

from your impossibility and look at JESUS: “Jesus, I trust in you!”

This is where his Resurrection is so important. 

Jesus rising from the dead proves everything he said was true. 

Every word.

No wonder Thomas fell to his knees and said: “my Lord and my God”!

Second, when he shows us his resurrected body, 

Jesus isn’t just “showing off”: “Look at what I have!”

He’s showing what is, and will be, OURS.

Lots of Christians are mixed up on this point. 

They think our goal is to ESCAPE this life.

So, they think the body doesn’t matter after they die.

No, no! Jesus did not come to lead an escape from this world,

But rather, to lead the REDEMPTION and healing of this world.

So, even after death our body is sacred. 

And we will have it back, new and improved: what Jesus shows us.

Now we come to the Most Holy Eucharist. 

We talked about mercy, 

and we talked about sharing Jesus’ resurrected life. 

This – and more – is what the Most Holy Eucharist is.

Don’t miss the connection: 

On the first Easter, Jesus SHOWS us his risen, live-forever-body. 

Then at each Mass he GIVES us his flesh and his blood, his very self.

The connection is absolutely necessary.

Very important: what he GIVES us is identical to what he SHOWS us. 

What lies ahead for Jesus’ disciples is far more than we may realize.

I wonder if many imagine, in the New Creation, Jesus is on the throne, 

and we’re like his pets, gathered at his feet.

No! Jesus told the Apostles that they would sit on thrones beside him. 

Everything Jesus has, everything Jesus IS, he GIVES, he SHARES,

and in giving us himself, he changes us to become ONE with him. 

This is why there can be no question 

that the Eucharist is more than mere bread and wine. 

It is not merely a symbol or a reminder. 

The Eucharist is precisely what Jesus said, what Saint Paul said, 

what the first Christians all said and believed: 

the true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. 

Very simply, the Eucharist IS Jesus. 

Yes, it keeps the appearance of bread and wine 

because isn’t that more approachable than the alternative?

If the Eucharist is not Jesus, then what does he give us?

Bread? If I eat too much bread, I get fat. 

Too much wine, I get sleepy and then a headache.

These cannot save me. I need Jesus and nothing else will do.

Jesus gives us HIMSELF, and his TOTAL self. 

That’s what the Eucharist is. You don’t have to see it. 

And you don’t have to take my word for it. 

Believe the one who came to earth to take up the Cross,

who came back from the dead, all for you, all for me.

Believe him when he says, “This is my Body…This is my Blood.”

Sunday, April 17, 2022

What will you choose to live for? (Easter homily)

 All over the world, Catholics and other Christians 

are marking this night, this day, the day that the Lord has made. 

The day Jesus came back from the dead, 

conquering sin and defeating death, 

and opening the path for us to heaven. 

That is why Alleluia belongs to this day: praise the Lord! 

This is the day of victory!

But what victory, exactly? What is this triumph? 

Are we claiming that we will not die? We know that we will. 

Our victory is that we know what lies ahead for us: 

not a grave, but heaven!

And what do we mean by this defeat of sin? 

I still struggle with sin. I’m guessing you do, too. 

But we have seen God weigh into the battle – for us and with us. 

All our sins have been nailed to the cross – 

and when Jesus died on that cross, 

so did our sins and all our condemnation! 

So remember: when you go to confession, and the priest gives you absolution, 

all that power of Jesus’ blood is poured out for you.

Never doubt, never waver: all your sins are forgiven forever: 

Gone, gone, gone!

No one else can take away sin but Jesus. 

As we say at each Mass: 

“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. 

This is that day!

Not everyone celebrates this victory tonight. 

Lots of people in our world either do not know what Jesus did, 

or they do not care. They do not believe. 

Many in our own country have only a passing awareness. 

The story of who Jesus is and what he did 

has become a steady, background buzz in their ears. 

Perhaps they were raised as Christians, but they have turned away, 

or tuned out. Maybe someone hurt them.

They may take more notice of the wrongs of Christians, 

And the saving work of Christ is a little distant.  

Some just sort of drifted and haven’t found their way back.

What can we say?

Each of us must choose what we will believe, what we will live for. 

Lots of people live for enjoyment, for fulfillment, for pleasure. 

This sounds worse than it is. 

God created us, and pleasure, 

a desire for the new and exciting, is built into us. 

But these are blessings of a good life; 

they aren’t enough to be the focus of life. 

There comes a point when we realize: 

I can live for me, or I can live for others. 

Those who choose self, who live for themselves, 

that’s all they have in the end: themselves, and nothing else.

Many people give everything to their careers, to sports, to causes. 

Then there are those who devote everything to their family or country. 

Even then, there remains a question.

In loving our country, or loving our family, what do we want for them? 

Obviously, the kind of country America is, the things we stand for, matters most, doesn’t it?

Likewise, far more important than our children’s physical health or material success,

 is the state of their soul, and what they value most?

Brothers and sisters, we have completed our time of penance. 

You and I have faced the reality of our own sinfulness 

and, even more than that, our own radical dependence. 

You and I cannot live a day, not an hour, without God’s help and grace. 

This is the day you and I renew our decision for Jesus Christ.

And maybe you’re thinking, when did I ever make that decision? 

It was made for me when I was baptized. I’ve sort of tagged along.

Then, today is your day to speak for yourself: I choose Christ!

That’s what we do each year when we renew our baptismal vows.

But do not be too quick to answer. 

In many places in the world, to be a Christian can cost you your life.

In our country, it may cost you a friendship or a promotion. 

More and more men and women faithful to Christ 

are being shut out of the medical and health professions. 

Or you may face derision and embarrassment. 

The question is before you.  

We will live our lives for something – what will you choose?

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The deep meaning of our Christian Passover (Holy Thursday homily)

It is necessary to peel back the layers of tradition 
to reveal the full meaning of what we do tonight.*

The first reading describes the Passover, 
celebrated by the Jewish People. 
It speaks of the “the fourteenth day of the month” – 
that is, fourteen days after a new moon, which means, a full moon. 
The moon will be full this weekend.

The lamb was one year old and “without blemish”; 
it was obtained several days before and lived with the family.  
Why is this important? 
This points to Jesus, who became a member of the Jewish household, 
a member of the human family.

Then, with the whole assembly present, the lamb was slaughtered. 
When we come to church tomorrow, what do we recall?
Jesus is crucified with the whole assembly present.

The blood of the lamb is then spread over the doorposts.
This is protection from divine judgment. 

By the way: when you and I are baptized, 
that’s when the blood of the Lamb covers us! 
When we fall back into mortal sin, confession renews it.

And then after the lamb is sacrificed, its flesh was eaten. 
This was necessary to complete the sacrifice.
But only those who were members of the household could eat the lamb.
This is why only those baptized and in a state of grace 
receive Holy Communion at Mass. 

Now, let’s drill into the details of the Last Supper, 
which was Jesus’ Passover with his chosen twelve apostles. 
He’s acting as the head of a family. 

I already pointed out how central the lamb is to the Passover.
But the accounts of Jesus’ Last Supper never mention a lamb.
Instead, he takes the bread, and says, 
“this is my body, given up for you.” 

And of course, there was a cup of wine.
In fact, there were four cups of wine.

The first cup that was prepared with water added. 
Ring a bell? You’ve seen me do that.
This was called the “cup of sanctification,” 
and the father began the meal with a prayer, over this cup, 
and the food is brought to the table.

The second was the cup of “proclamation” – 
it was prepared, but not drunk right away; 
because while the food was on the table,
the father would tell the account of what God did 
for his people in Egypt, in the exodus.

By the way, when these events were “remembered,”
the understanding was that in remembering, you were present!
You were actually brought there spiritually, through the meal.

So, when Jesus says to the Apostles, “do this in memory of me,”
two things:

First, he knows that all of us would be coming after in years to come.
He made a plan for each of us to be part of his Passover.
That means Jesus planned for what we call Holy Mass,
and for priests to offer this sacrifice.

And second, our “remembering” here, not quite 2,000 years later,
likewise makes you and me truly present: 
in the Upper Room, at Calvary, at the empty tomb.

Now, back to the Passover.
After everyone ate, the father would share the third cup, 
called the “cup of blessing.” 
And Saint Paul just told us that this was the cup Jesus took up, 
and said, “This is my Blood.”

I said earlier there were four, where’s the last one?

Tomorrow, you and I will hear these words in the Gospel of John:

After this…Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine….
They put a sponge soaked in wine…up to his mouth. 
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” 
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

So we don’t finish this Mass tonight. No final blessing.
We do go on a procession – to the side altar – recalling the Garden.

Oh, I meant to give you one more detail. 
In Jesus’ time, when the lamb was prepared for the meal, 
in order to roast it, do you know how they did it? 
They took two skewers, made of wood. 
One was speared through the torso, from head to tail. 
The other was speared through both shoulders. A cross.

Tomorrow we will worship the Cross on which our Savior, 
our Lamb of God, was slain. This is our Passover. It begins tonight. 

* All these details come from Scripture scholar Brant Pitre.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Make the most of Holy Week (Palm Sunday homily)

 Every year on Palm Sunday, part of me – and maybe you, too – 

has so much to say in response. 

But another part of me responds: What is there to say?

There is only silence before the Son of God on the Cross.

But real, true, extended silence? That is hard to do, 

with family and work and sports and farms and businesses to tend to.

All I can do is to challenge you to TRY.

Kids? Spouses? Parents? Maybe you can help.

This might be a good time to say, “I’ll leave them alone this week.”

Let’s give each other the gift of silence and peace, if we can.

Maybe your Lent has been good, or maybe not so good.

But every day, every breath, is another opportunity.

This Holy Week is such a gift.

The church is open from 5 am to 9:30 pm every day.

We will have confessions 

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday – 

see the bulletin for the times.

I invite you to be part of Holy Thursday, 

Good Friday and Holy Saturday evening.

These days take us deep into the pulsing heart of our Faith.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Look forward like God (Sunday homily)

 Do you know what one of the biggest differences 

between us and God is? (Changed after 5 pm Mass.)

There are a lot of ways we are different from God.

One of them is that…

You and I look backward. God looks forward.

For us, only what has already taken place, is real.

The future is guesswork. It hasn’t happened yet.

And when we set our highest dreams against bitter experience,

hope seems a slender thread indeed.

But God knows the future – because he is already there. 

God looks forward, and over and over again, 

he tries to get you and me to do the same. 

What did you just hear?

“Remember not the events of the past,” God says in the first reading.

“I am doing something new!”

Saint Paul tells us he counts everything as “rubbish”

and forgets “what lies behind,” because Jesus Christ is his prize!

The pharisees say, “look what this sinner did!”

Jesus says, “start new.”

At the risk of being tedious, I’m inviting you again to confession.

Maybe someone needs just one more nudge.

The truth is, I can’t change the world. 

Maybe I can help you change you. 

You can’t change the world. 

But there’s one little chunk of this world 

that you and I have supreme power over. 

And that is our soul! Our choices!

That’s why we go to confession. 

I can’t speak about anyone else, but about myself I say this:

If I didn’t go to confession regularly, I believe I would go to hell.

I would lose my way, little by little.

You’ve heard of the “invisible fence”: to keep your dog in the yard?

You know how it works: there’s a wire underground,

and if the poor dog crosses the wire and ZZZZZT! 

That’s what my conscience does for me, and yours for you!

Confession keeps my conscience alive and reasonably healthy.

You want to make the world better? You want to bring peace?

Start with your own soul. It’ll radiate to your family.

Friday, April 01, 2022

Broccoli Omelette

I didn't intend to do a post about today's lunch, but I had some time to kill, so here I am!

(Sorry no pictures...)

So, it's a Friday in Lent, what shall I have for lunch? Also, I'm trying to cut back on carbs (because I'm carrying around enough for a small village), so...

I remember I have some frozen broccoli, and of course, eggs. And I remember the late Father Angelo Caserta whipping up amazing omelettes when he would invite me over for dinner back in my days in Piqua.

So, here's what I did:

1. Start heating a pan well coated with olive oil. Don't skimp on the oil unless you don't like olive oil; in that case, use whatever fat you prefer. You could even make it without fat, if that's your jam.

2. Once the oil is good and hot, toss in a good handful of broccoli florets. I didn't bother to cut them down, because I was going to cook them till tender. But if you prefer, you can certainly do that. If I had been working with fresh broccoli, I might blanche them first, or else still sautee them, only longer. In any case, the goal here is to get the broccoli both hot and soft, but not mushy. I cooked the broccoli on around medium.

3. While the broccoli cooks -- keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn -- crack three eggs into a small bowl (I use a coffee cup). Add a generous pinch of salt (don't be scared of it). You can add a little water if you like, I did not. Mix these well, so that the yolks and whites are well blended. Or not, if you don't care about that.

4. When the broccoli is cooked as you like, pour the eggs over the broccoli. Check your heat; the temp in the pan will go down, but come up fast -- too fast -- if the fire is too high. You don't want to cook your eggs too fast, and I prefer my omelettes not to have any brown.

5. Stir the eggs, until they are still a little wet but fairly well set. Again, this is how I like an omelette. Remember, the eggs will continue cooking even after you turn off the fire. So when the eggs are close, I turn off the fire and let the residual heat do the rest. That's environmentally conscious, isn't it? I added a good grind of black pepper here, as well as a bit of cayenne pepper. Then I sprinkled some grated "Parmesan" cheese right out of the jar; real Parmesano or Pecorino would be worlds better, but I used what I had.

6. Now you roll it, and this intimidates people. The key here is not to overload it, or it won't fold over very well. And if that happens, who cares? As long as you don't over (or under) cook, it will be delicious. But the way I do it is to fold over a third of it, then...well, this is hard to explain, but Youtube videos aplenty show you how to do it. The point is that you end up with an omelette either with two folds (my preference) or one. If you fold twice and don't overcook it, you can further shape it on the plate.

7. At this point, I put just bit of butter on it, and sprinkled a little more black and red pepper. You could put parseley on it if you want, or paprika.

My omelette was very tasty, although I ought to have let the broccoli cook a bit more. No, not as tasty as I remember Father Caserta's, but still a lovely meal. And it only took a few minutes, and if you think about it, pretty cheap to make. 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Confession: your sins are goney-gone-gone! (Sunday homily)

 If you have ever wondered what God is like, really like,   

this parable is where you must begin and end. 

Which of these two children do you want to be?

Would you like high adventure on the road – or stay close to home?

Do you think it would be fun to go on a spending spree?

Or do you find satisfaction in a good day’s work?

Do you want to end up with nothing, envying the pigs for their slop?

Or would you rather be convinced you’ve never done anything wrong –

and you can’t think of any gift your Father ever gave you?

Can you imagine your Father running toward you, overjoyed to see you?

Hugging you, crying from pent-up sorrow but also swelling with joy?

Well…are you prepared 

to abandon pride and self-regard and simply admit being wrong?

Or can you not think of any reason to go to confession?

As I’ve said before, Lent is all about conversion. 

If you and I aren’t thinking about, praying about, 

working toward our own conversion, 

we are missing entirely what Lent is.

Confession is one of the best helps God gives us, 

but this tool doesn’t do us much good if we leave it in the drawer.

I want to commend many of our parishioners: 

you work at developing the habit of regular confession, 

and that’s a really good move, 

and a powerful example to your kids and others.

Let me stress, especially to our kids: 

if you only go to confession once or twice a year, 

you’re not getting anything like the benefit from it you could be.

Why do I say that?

If, starting from your first confession in 2nd grade, you go once a year, 

by the time you’ve done it ten times, you’re in college!

At that pace, I bet you feel awkward every time, 

because you can’t quite remember what you’re supposed to do, 

and that makes all the easier to put it off. 

If the only time you go is right before Easter or Christmas – 

when lots of people are going, and there’s a long line – 

guess what happens?

You’re a little nervous, Father Fox is kind of hurrying things along – 

so, you shrug and think, what’s the point?

Let me introduce you to other possibilities.

Instead of once a year, go once a month. 

This morning, from 9 to 10, it was quiet in the confessional, 

I dozed a little!

And I had plenty of time for those who came. 

Like almost anything, if you keep at it, it gets more familiar,

and, instead of investing all that mental energy around the “how-to,” 

you can actually focus on the meat of it:

being truly honest with God and your own need to change.

Going frequently to confession will enable you to SEE yourself – 

without flinching, without excuses, and without being ashamed.

To be able to admit, “I am a sinner, I failed,” 

without being wrecked by that recognition, is powerful;

because then you and I realize our sense of worth and self-respect 

doesn’t come from some false image:

“I can do it myself” or “I’m really a good person!”

God doesn’t love us because we’re so capable, or so impressive; 

there are no “becauses” with God’s love. He loves us, PERIOD.

As I’ve heard Father Vonderhaar say many times: 

God loves us AS we are, 

but he loves us too much to leave us WHERE we are.

And I want to pause here and make one point in bold, capital letters, 

and I am begging you to believe me when I say: 

When you go to confession, and the priest gives absolution, 

your sins are gone. 

Gone, gone, gone-issimus gone; as gone as gone can be!

And, that includes ALL OF THEM. “But I forgot one!” 

It’s INCLUDED! It, too, is GONE!

In the first reading, Joshua and God’s People crossed the Jordan 

and left Egypt behind, forever.

That is a sign of what God’s absolution in confession means to us:

You and I leave those sins behind forever.

True, like the Children of Israel, we often want to go back.

You and I are unsteady. But God is not unsteady. 

The Father is a Rock. He never wavers.  

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Catholic progressives: Ukraine should be happy to lay down and die

 The thing about "progressive" crazy is that no matter how out there they are, there is always a further move to make.

So the National Catholic Reporter took this particular moment to argue that Ukraine is evil to fight the Russian invaders. Not because the invaders aren't also evil; but because fighting back is evil. You think I exaggerate? Read the headline for yourself (and click on it if you want to see more):

Ukraine shows we must reject the possibility that war can be just

The article really is as inane as you can imagine. To combat Russian bombs and bullets, "we need a paradigm shift." Putin is blowing up your apartment building? Try "music and art"!

No doubt Ms. Marie Dennis, author of this article, would offer Ukrainians the advice Gandhi gave the Jews during the Holocaust: you should happily leap into the gas chambers, that'll show Hitler! (Oh yes, he really did give that advice.)

I am trying to unravel this madness, but then these words ring in my head: "Forget it Jake; it's Progressive-town."

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Heaven -- God's invitation -- and hell -- our refusal (Sunday homily)

 In a way, these readings are about heaven and hell.

Let’s start with heaven.

In the first reading, Moses asks to know God’s Name. 

He wants to draw closer to God. 

After all, Moses and God’s People had been in slavery 

for over 400 years. 

The stories of what God did in Abraham’s life, 

in the lives of Isaac and Jacob and Joseph, were all distant memories. 

Perhaps even God himself seemed very distant. 

In Hebrew, names are more than just what someone is called.

They express the essence of who someone is.

When God tells Moses he is “I AM WHO AM,” 

he is revealing his true nature, 

that he is the One who truly and fully exists.

By responding this way, God is being very intimate with Moses,

And encouraging Moses’ desire for that intimacy.

Notice that: God WANTS US to know him this way!

This intimate union with God is heaven.

Remember, always remember: God wants this for us.

Some people seem to think God’s salvation is grudging. NO!

The problem is never God’s want-to, but ours.

You and I never have to change God’s mind. 

It is our mind, our lives, that need to change, 

and God is always at the door our heart, 

you and I only need to invite him in.

At the beginning, I mentioned hell. Where does that fit in?

Well, that’s what Jesus is warning against in the Gospel. 

Unless you and I repent, he says, we will all likewise perish.

He doesn’t mean natural death, but spiritual death.

As we all know, a terrible war is raging in Ukraine.

The thing about war is that it, too, is about both hell – and heaven.

The hell part is obvious. But notice the grace that is at work.

It was C.S. Lewis – in his book, Screwtape Letters – 

who noted that war strips away, better than almost anything, 

the illusion that death is far away. 

Amid the horror, acts of courage and generosity take our breath away.

As people worldwide unite in a common purpose and pray together, 

our hearts lift with hope. 

Let me call to your attention Pope Francis’ plan 

to consecrate Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

People are asking, is this about Fatima?

Honestly, I will let other people deal with that.

I know that Sister Lucy, one of the Fatima visionaries, 

said that Pope John Paul properly consecrated Russia to Mary in 1985.

I’m not interested in getting into the weeds on that. 

Pope Francis wants to renew that consecration. I’m 100% in favor.

This will happen on Friday, at noon our time. 

Meanwhile, Archbishop Schnurr has asked us all 

to pray a novena of Rosaries for Ukraine, 

so I invite you to pray a Rosary every day through Friday.

Maybe people would like to gather at St. Remy, on Friday, at noon?

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

'Brace for Impact' (Sunday homily)

 Every Lent we hear this Gospel describing Jesus’ “transfiguration.” 

The question we might ask is, why did this happen 

and what does it mean?

The meaning is this: Jesus knows the Cross is coming.

He has already warned the Apostles, but they don’t grasp it.

This experience – this revelation of his true glory as God – 

is meant to inoculate the apostles in advance 

for the crisis of the Cross.

He knows that the Cross will shake them to the core.

Even after this experience, Peter and James 

will be missing in action on Good Friday. 

Only John stays with Jesus to the end.

What would have happened to them 

without this strengthening experience?

Now, let’s bring this forward to our situation.

You and I don’t usually have a crisis of faith when all is well.

Actually, maybe we do, but we don’t realize it.

When everything is on the upswing, 

we don’t notice how rickety our faith may be:

that it’s shallow and we’re just going with the flow.

Then when the you-know-what hits the fan, we’re a mess, 

just like happened to the Apostles.

So, consider our situation: we get two years of Covid, 

and just as it seems like that is behind us…

Wham, supply-chain problems! Wham, inflation!

And I’m sorry, but let’s be candid: 

our political leaders do not inspire confidence in most of us.

Now we have a war in Europe, and it only requires a little slip

for this to become our war – another world war.

How’s that for our own shaken-to-the-core crisis?

Like the Apostles faced.

What the apostles needed to face their crisis is what you and I need:

To see the glory of Jesus. To remember who he is. 

If recent events are too much for you, turn off the TV and radio. 

Fix your eyes on Jesus. If you can, come here to St. Remy.

If you can, come on Thursday when we have exposition.

This church is open every day at 5 am, until 9:30 pm.

Anyone who wants access earlier or later, please let me know?

That can easily be arranged. 

And remember what an advantage you and I have over the Apostles.

When they saw everything fall apart on Good Friday, 

Easter hadn’t happened yet. 

They hadn’t had Jesus come back from the dead.

They hadn’t yet been given the Holy Spirit.

They didn’t know yet the power of the Holy Mass!

They didn’t yet realize that Jesus would always be present with them, 

above all in the Eucharist.

So: brace for impact. But remember, when the Cross came, 

Jesus was not alarmed, and he was not shaken.

Whatever may lie ahead, it will not surprise Jesus 

and will not be too big for him.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Today's Mass & homily...


Sunday, March 06, 2022

The alarm clock (Sunday homily)

 In my first assignment as a priest, the other priest with me 

would often refer to this as the “baptismal” season of Lent. 

At first, I found this confusing, 

but as I listened to him and reflected on his point, I understood.

Lent is about baptism: what does that mean?

Well, that’s how Lent originated. In the beginning of Christianity, 

people would prepare very seriously for their baptism, 

for their confirmation 

and for the first reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus.

They would prepare for months or years – 

and the last six weeks would be especially intense. 

They would fast every single day.

After all, they were entering an entirely new life. 

They would receive a new name. 

And they knew they might lose their life; they might be martyred.

For pretty much all of us, of course, we’ve already been baptized, 

and that happened when we were a few months old. 

No drama, no peril; we may have literally slept through our baptism.

For us, Lent is our invitation to go back and make it all personal. 

That’s what the sacrament of confession is all about.

We go back to the font of baptism.

Now, for our kids in 2nd grade, preparing for your First Communion?

For our older kids, maybe in your teenage years, 

and you’re starting to put it all together? 

I’m talking to YOU right now.

Sometimes there isn’t any special moment; 

we just sort of grow into our own faith. 

But there can come a moment, when the lights go on; 

it all comes together, and you realize:

This isn’t about my parents or my family, but it’s ME:

It’s MY relationship with God. Who is Jesus TO ME?

For me, it was when I was 19, in my first year of college.

I had an encounter with our Lord, very personal, very intense.

It’s hard to describe, but I knew, down to my bones, 

that he was calling me to follow him. 

That moment changed everything.

Later I figured out that in that moment, 

the reality of my baptism, and my confirmation, came alive.

I woke up.

To be clear, that’s not when I heard the call to be a priest; 

that was when I heard the invitation to be a disciple.

This is what Lent is for: to wake us up.

Right now, I’m the alarm clock: RING, RING, RING!!!

Some here are already awake. You’re out of bed, getting to it.

So maybe you’re trying to turn me off! That’s OK.

The alarm is ringing for those who haven’t woken up yet.

Or think of this as the alarm on your phone, reminding you of a task.

Just now, I spoke to the kids; so, let me say something 

to those at the other end of the journey.

As you and I get older, we get set in our ways.

I’m 60 and it’s true for me. 

You start saying, “No, not trying that.”

I used to go camping, sleep on the ground – but now, no!

The danger is when that mindset comes into your spiritual life:

“Nah, I don’t need that! That’s for somebody else!”

Once again, I’m your alarm clock.

Jesus is speaking to every single one of us when he says, CHANGE.

And if you say, “Well, I don’t know how!”

Jesus does! Ask him. Open your heart.

As I said, many of us are awake, so just…keep going! 

God’s grace is at work in your life, trust that, give thanks for that.

And, for some here, the truth is, 

you’re not only awake, you’re TOO awake!

You’re charged up on “spiritual caffeine.” You’ve got spiritual jitters.

That part before wasn’t for you! It was for the sleepy, OK?

You’re earnest, you’re intense, that’s good! 

And I’m not trying to discourage fervor.

What I want to say to you in particular:

Remember God’s grace. It’s not all on you. 

God’s part is 99.999999999%; our contribution is a speck.

You and I cooperate with grace, but we don’t replace it. 

And we certainly cannot earn it.

You don’t have to fast on crackers and water. 

If you want to, that’s fine, but your family doesn’t have to.

Remember: when you were baptized, you didn’t do a THING.

Even now, no matter how old you and I are, 

each of us is still that baby that really doesn’t understand. 

God carries us. And that’s how we’ll get to heaven.

And some of us, hearing that, you think, “OK I can go back to sleep!”

No…that was for the already awake, the maybe “too awake.”

For every one of us, this is our time to come back to font, 

to the place of our new birth, to our baptism.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Preparing for Lent (Sunday homily)

  The first reading said, 

“When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear.”

That’s a good image for what we want to do with Lent.

We want to get those unsavory parts of our lives up on the surface – 

and, of course, get them out.

If you are thinking about Lent as something to be “got through” – 

just grit your teeth and march through to Easter – 

then you’re not going to gain much of anything from Lent.

The whole point of Lent is conversion. We all know that Jesus said: 

“Repent and believe in the Gospel. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

All Christians know that. 

But what we as Catholics do – that not all Christians do – 

is give ourselves six weeks of focusing on that repentance, 

that turning back to God, that getting ready for the Kingdom.

Now, you and I can shake the sieve,

But truly, the conversion – the change – only happens with God’s help.

With the help of his supernatural grace, 

that is, his divine life poured into our lives.

So please do not reduce this to ritual or rules.

Those exist in service to something far more important, which is – 

to repeat myself – our conversion. Our becoming heavenly.

One day every one of us will leave this life, we know not when.

When you depart this life, where will you go?

Do you want to go to heaven? Of course, you do.

Do you take this for granted? 

What exactly in the words of Jesus lets you think so?

Jesus keeps saying, wake up! Get ready! Change your life!

Why would he do that if we could just cruise on autopilot 

straight through the Pearly Gates? 

Here’s a lesson that each of us can – and will learn – during Lent:

Change is hard. Conversion is hard.

Talk is cheap. Six straight weeks is something else.

One reason to give something up is precisely to humble ourselves, 

and to face the reality of our weakness and our spiritual flabbiness.

And I say it again: me too.

In the second reading, St. Paul talked about resurrection.

When the discipline of Lent becomes a real drag, 

remind yourself of what lies ahead. 

By the calendar, Lent leads to Holy Week and then to Easter:

The way of the Cross to Calvary, to the grave and then to new life.

For us that means taking up the Cross here and now.

Embrace purgatory, here and ahead.

One day it will be heaven and resurrection.

That means having our bodies back, new and improved.

What is mortal and frail will clothe itself with immortality.

That’s what Jesus told us to get ready for. 

The classic tools of this conversion are fasting, prayer and giving alms.

Each of us can offer more prayer, give up things we like, 

and give things away to help others. 

I repeat, everyone can do this, at any age.

I’m speaking right now to our children.

Talk to mom and dad about what you can do without or give away, 

about learning new prayers this Lent. 

And if you really want to make a good Lent, 

think about how you can make things easier for mom and dad. 

I especially want to highlight some opportunities for prayer 

you may not realize.

Daily Mass will be at 7 am, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

If you come about 20 minutes before, we pray Morning Prayer.

You can come to adoration anytime from about 8 am to about 8:30 pm. 

We’ll have Stations of the Cross every Thursday evening at 7 pm.

All the many opportunities for confession are available.

It’s game-time, let’s go! Let’s you and I make this our best Lent ever.

I’m praying that this will be a time of conversion:

For myself, for you, and for our parish.

Will you join me in that prayer, and in making that happen?

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Which Adam will you be? (Sunday homily)

 What Jesus asks in this Gospel seems impossible.

And, at a certain level, it IS impossible.

The wrong someone causes you can be devastating.

Blackening your good name.

Betraying trust.

Damaging your relationships with others.

Causing you to lose your job.

The other day I saw a story about a man 

released from prison after many years. 

He’d been convicted of murder, 

but eventually the truth came out that his brother had done it. 

Imagine that: your own brother lets that happen to you.

You and I can also be in situations – like David’s in the first reading – 

where the right thing to do seems utterly inexplicable to everyone. 

As his right-hand man said, 

“God has delivered your enemy into your grasp!”

But what David understood was that 

this wasn’t primarily his fight, but God’s. 

The King was the Lord’s anointed; David left Saul to God.

How could David do this? The people around him, following him, 

not only found it confusing; they may have found it threatening, 

because their lives were in danger from Saul as well. 

So, I reiterate what I just said: at a certain level, this is impossible. 

How do you and I find the grace to do this?

Here’s where the second reading fits in.

This ability to forgive, this calm in the midst of a storm – 

both from your enemies, but also from your friends who are baffled –

Can only come from the Lord.

When Paul talks about two Adams, 

he means Adam at the beginning of the human race, 

and the second Adam is Jesus.

What he’s also saying to the Corinthians is:

Which Adam will you be?

The one who said, I don’t know if God is there or not. I’m on my own.

Or the one who said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

When you and I become a Christian, when we live as Christians, 

it means choosing that second Adam.

And when it seems especially difficult, 

ask yourself whether you’re acting more out of that first Adam 

point of view: I’m on my own.

If David had thought that way, he’d have killed King Saul.

This last week I was on retreat, 

and we were looking at the life and teachings 

of St. John Henry Newman.

Newman made a point about faith:

That, contrary to how people describe it, faith is NOT blind.

There can be times of darkness, but it’s not about being blind.

Rather, what faith does is enable you and me to see more fully.

If I take off my glasses, everything is fuzzier, 

especially way back there!

I put my glasses back on, and the weakness of my vision is corrected. Things are now clear. 

That’s what faith does.

One way to deal with people who have harmed you, and are harming you, 

is to follow David’s example.

David was not passive when King Saul was unjust and threatened him. 

David acted to protect himself and to escape danger.

Yet at a certain point he said, Saul is God’s problem.

So, whoever that is in your life, acting like Saul to you,

you can protect yourself and others.

But, if you have a chance to strike out, but maybe you don’t have to?

That’s what Jesus means by saying, “turn the other cheek.”

This person, this situation, is God’s problem. God’s battle.

Look at David’s life. 

He wasn’t off somewhere, away from the action – 

he was in the thick of battle, 

he’s living off the land, he’s on the run from danger.

But with all that, he’s talking to God. 

We have his psalms in the Bible:

“I was in battle, and you saved my life.”

“Wild animals were all around me, and you, God delivered me.”

“My sins are so loathsome, yet you forgive me!”

David would have loved being out in the woods in camo, hunting deer.

And he would have loved the sacrament of confession.

So, what St. Paul said to the Corinthians, he says to us:

Which Adam will you and I be? 

The worldly Adam who says, I’m alone, I don’t know where God is?

Or the Spirit-filled Adam who will be at the altar in a few minutes, 

offering himself to the Father for us, 

to give us his Body and Blood, cleansing us of sins, 

giving us eternal life, and making us life for others?

Which Adam? 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

'Our leaves will stay green!' (Sunday homily)

 I really didn’t want to give this homily.

As you know, there is a reorganization of parishes 

called Beacons of Light underway. 

This involves some priests being moved around, 

and this weekend is when these changes are being announced.

I am one of those priests who will be moving. 

The Archbishop asked me to take charge of three parishes in Dayton. 

I’ll become pastor of St. Henry, Our Lady of Good Hope, 

and St. Mary of the Assumption.  

Your new pastor will be Father Ned Brown, who is now in Fort Recovery. 

This will all take effect July 1st.

I have been so happy here as your pastor. I asked to stay.

I pushed. It wasn’t possible.

I will miss you. I will miss watching our children grow up.

There’s so much I could say, but this isn’t about my sadness.

I will just add that you helped me more than you can imagine.

You nourished my faith and helped me be a better priest. 

If I make it to heaven, you will have helped. Thank you!

Now let’s talk about the future.

Father Brown will be joined by three other priests.

That includes Father James Reutter, 

who is currently leading several rural parishes in Clermont County, 

and Father Matt Feist, who is currently pastor in Greenville, 

which of course is part of this new family.

The remaining priest will be named later.

So, that makes a team of four priests led by Father Brown.

You may recall the original plan called for three priests, 

so, getting a fourth is a bonus.

We may not keep that fourth priest long term, 

but it will help during the transition.

Everyone always asks, what do I think of these priests?

I will say they are all my friends; I have worked well with them. 

But I’m not going to build them up, setting you up for a let-down.

Nor am I going to tear them down either!

You will meet them soon enough. 

Father Brown has a big task, especially between now and July 1:

he has his own parishes to lead, 

he has to help with the transition there, 

and of course, make the transition to this new assignment.

Let’s talk about the fear these changes engender.

Father Brown knows we have strong, well-run programs here; 

he is well aware of our strong parish identity; because I’ve told him. 

He told me he’s not looking to mess up what works.

What he wants is to provide good leadership for all the parishes,

in order to navigate this transition as smoothly as possible.

He’s going to need everyone’s cooperation and patience.

It may take longer than you like, but he will get to your questions.

For my part: I will be on retreat this coming week.

No, it’s not anything mysterious, I planned this months ago.

But I’m glad to have these few days under these circumstances.

I have to move from my sadness and grief to my next challenge.

So, with all this affecting Father Brown and the other priests,

affecting his current parishes, 

and then, our parish, and our family of seven parishes, 

and affecting me, and my own transition to a new assignment…

You can understand there may not be time for some things.

I’m going to zero in on the essentials, 

on the deadlines that are out of my control, 

and otherwise, I’m going to have to gear down.

In the Gospel, our Lord Jesus talks about blessing and woe.

This “woe” language can be unsettling.

But Jesus is not condemning those who are rich and comfortable.

He’s saying, if you are putting your hope in that comfort: woe to you!

Apply that to our present situation:

a lot of us are unsettled by change, but we forget change is constant.

You and I overlook that we’ve adapted more than we realize.

We will navigate the change ahead better than we think – 

because that’s what we do. It’s built into us.

If you’re sitting here saying, “Not me: I do TERRIBLE with change,” 

my answer is, relax and look around: you’re not alone. 

People around you will help. We’re going to help each other.

Don’t forget the advantages you and I bring to this challenge.

We have deep reservoirs of faith and God’s help.

The gifts we need are in other people, 

and together, you and I have all we need. 

This is God’s Church – he died for it.

And if you are griping, “but where are we going? Why this way?”

Remember, God’s People have been saying that for 3,500 years, 

starting way back in the desert with Moses.

Whatever comes – and all my experience tells me the actual reality

will be nowhere near as bad as we imagine on fretful, sleepless nights…

Whatever comes, our leaves will stay green. That’s God’s promise!

Sunday, February 06, 2022

How to get on the first rung of prayer (Sunday homily)

 Have you ever considered how often the Lord met people at work: 

farmers in the field; women caring for the household; 

shepherds and fishermen, working all night?

When you are at school, or at your job, 

or doing the daily tasks of the farm or the home, Jesus is there. 

And if you find it hard to remember he’s part of your day, 

here are some easy, practical ways to keep Jesus with you all day:

- Start each day with the Morning Offering. 

You can do it in the shower or as you brush your teeth.

- Turn off the radio in the car and pray while you drive. 

You will drive more politely, and if you have a long enough drive, 

it’s not hard to complete an entire Rosary. 

There’s nothing wrong with praying part of your Rosary 

and coming back to it later. 

It’s not the best, but better to pray part, 

than to wait and not pray it at all.

- Make an effort to pause during the day, if only for a moment. 

Our parish staff takes five at Noon to pray the Angelus.

- Keep a Rosary or a medal in your pocket. 

Reach for it when things get crazy.

- Talk to Jesus through the day. This is a way to remind yourself 

of God’s presence and to develop the habit of realizing, you are never alone.

- On the way home, reflect on the day, both what’s behind 

and still ahead. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a second wind.

- Be sure to give yourself a few minutes before bed to look back, 

ask forgiveness and give thanks for the ups and downs of the day.

Of course, there is more to prayer than this. 

This is just how you get your foot on the first rung of the ladder.

Now, the other thing I’m supposed to do this weekend is invite you 

to make a commitment to the Catholic Ministry Appeal. 

You know about this. 

This provides for St. Rita School for the Deaf, 

for our seminary, for our retired priests, 

for Catholic Social Services which provides help to people in trouble, 

including here in Shelby County,

for hospital and prison chaplains, for outreach on college campuses, 

and for other evangelization efforts.

We have parishioners who have benefited from St. Rita, 

we have parishioners who have been in our seminary or are there now, 

we have people who quietly seek out help from Catholic Social Services, 

and a lot of our kids are away at college.

This is help that stays close to home.

There are pledge forms and envelopes in the pews. 

Feel free to fill one out and include it in today’s collection, 

or mail it in later.

Let me add one more point about prayer. 

As important as a plan is, such as what I outlined to a moment ago, 

that never gets anywhere without something far more basic. 

And that is desire.

So, if you’re having a hard time getting out of the starting gate, 

then here is my very simple advice. And it will work if you follow it:

Start with this short prayer: “Jesus, give me the desire.”

That is, for a habit of prayer, for a deeper spiritual life, 

for the grace to kick the habit of going to dark places online, 

whatever it is.

Five words: “Jesus, give me the desire.”

Say it over and over, a hundred times a day. That’s how it starts.

“Jesus, give me the desire.”

Sunday, January 30, 2022

What's love got to do with it? (Sunday homily)

 Jeremiah had to do it, and so did Jesus.

That is, they had to say things that upset people.

But the reason they did it wasn’t just to stir the pot.

It was out of love for the people who needed to be woken up.


So, before you get into an argument with someone – especially online – ask this question: 

how is what I am saying fundamentally about loving this person I’m talking to?

You could even start that way. Instead of leading with, “you’re wrong!”

Begin with, “because I care about you, I want to say thus-and-so…”

Ah, but that takes more work:

you and I have to stop and process that question: 

what has love got to do with whatever I’m going to say? 

See, everything you and I stand for, as Catholics – 

everything we get beat up for believing – is about love.

God’s love for us, and a proper love on our part for each other.

So, for example, consider what we say about marriage.

That, in turn, is directly related to what a man is, what a woman is.

Sexual love is properly shared between a husband and a wife. 

There is another love – it’s called friendship – 

which is proper for two men, and for two women.

Yet another love that is proper being parents and children,

and between brothers and sisters. 

So, consider the popular slogan: “love is love.”

That makes people feel good, but that is actually a lie.

The love of married couples is NOT the same as love between siblings.

And lying is never the loving thing to do.

Here’s the hard truth no one wants to say:

Because men and women are different – 

they complement each other, but they are not interchangeable – 

then, when two people of the same sex attempt marriage,

there are some essential things that are missing.

And people will say, oh those don’t matter. 

But we know that’s not true, because many same-sex couples themselves go looking, 

outside their relationship, for precisely those missing elements.

So, we all saw a picture of the Secretary of Transportation, 

Pete Buttigieg, with his “husband” and two newborn children.

Everyone said, how wonderful!

But what was intentionally excluded from that happy picture? 

The mother of those children. 

Men need women to compensate for their weaknesses, 

and women need men for the same reason.

If you are wondering what love is: it is to seek the good of the other.

And again, a hard truth: the good of you, the good of me, 

is rarely “self-fulfillment.” The true good I need is self-DENIAL.

So, when you or I just nod and go along with today’s false values,

that is easier, but how is that the loving thing to do?

So many people say, I’ll just create my own reality.

That sounds great, but it’s an illusion. 

After 80, 90, 100 or so years, we all die,

and then we face Ultimate and Unyielding Reality.

Then, either our choices in this life prepared us for God’s Reality, 

and then we will be happy forever!

Or else, our choices shaped us at cross-purposes to God’s Reality, 

and that means eternal misery.

Yes, these are hard things to say, and people may not accept them.

But remember when Jesus said the tough things he did, 

at the same time, he was planning to die on the Cross, 

for the people to whom he spoke.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Jesus gives you the best access (Sunday homily)

 First, let me say that I am still recovering from Covid. 

My energy levels are low. 

I’m very grateful for so many prayers and so much love, thank you! 

This will be a short homily.

Second, this is the weekend to announce 

the Catholic Ministries Appeal. 

I’ve written more about this in the bulletin. 

You know about this: 

it supports several very worthy causes in our archdiocese, 

and you’ve always been generous in supporting them. 

Remember that when we exceed the goal, 

a portion of that comes back to St. Remy 

and we use that for our youth programs.

Now let me talk about the readings. 

If you are enough of a bigshot in politics, 

you might be able to have dinner with the President to give him advice. 

If you write a big enough check, 

you can get one of those fancy suites 

at the Bengals stadium, protected from the weather, 

and have a waiter to bring you drinks and snacks whenever you want.

But notice what Jesus does. 

He doesn’t just call us VIPs who can sit close to him. 

He makes us part of him: members of his Body! 

What could be closer or more intimate? 

And it doesn’t require a million-dollar check. 

This privilege isn’t only for a few. 

Anyone, no matter how lowly or disreputable, can have this access.

And yet how many Catholics, treated so royally by Jesus, 

disregard his generosity? 

He asks that you and I come be with him once a week, 

but many find that too much to ask. 

Since you and I are a part of him, 

of course that calls for living holy lives – 

but we don’t want to be too different from the world around us. 

If people had to pay money for this access, 

perhaps they would value it more?

Remember what Saint Paul said to you today: 

“You are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.”

There is nothing anyone in the world can say, or do, 

to change that great honor and dignity! 

There is no one who can take away that good news! 

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Jesus' baptism and your identity (Sunday homily)

 Today we recall when Jesus showed up 

on the banks of the Jordan River and asked to be baptized.

We might wonder, first: why did he do this, 

and second, why is this important to us? What does it mean?

John was baptizing people as an act of repentance. 

They were confessing their sins along the way.

So: they were, in a sense, going to confession.

The shocker is to see the Lord Jesus get in that line.

Jesus puts himself squarely with us, in our situation. 

He does not hesitate at all.

This is also about Jesus showing himself as the new Adam.

The first Adam rebelled and failed to keep God’s law, 

and that set the whole, sorry story of human history in motion. 

Here, Jesus does the exact opposite.

This Adam is obedient. He fully does his Father’s will. 

And, most astounding, Jesus accepts the punishment for sin 

that otherwise was due to Adam and the rest of us.

So, when Jesus came to be baptized, he accepted 

his vocation as the faithful Son, the new Adam, the Messiah.

That included the Cross.

Remember something else John said on this occasion:

“Behold the Lamb of God”!

I hear you saying, “Fine, but what does this have to do with ME?”

When you and I were baptized, we became part of Jesus, 

born again of water and the Holy Spirit. 

So, I ask you: will you respond to God as Jesus did?

Will you embrace the life you have been given?

Will you take up the Cross? Will you be a witness to Jesus?

Maybe you never gave much thought to your baptism. 

Think about it now. 

At a certain point, each of us must decide 

to make the commitment of baptism our own. 

So, in case it wasn’t clear, this is why I sprinkled you with Holy Water. 

And, in case you never realized it, 

when we recite the Creed in a moment, 

you and I are confirming our baptism.

Something else happens when we are baptized.

You and I become part of Jesus, and we gain God as our Father.

Saint Paul said we become “heirs of hope of eternal life.”

When Paul calls us “heirs,” that is no metaphor.

He means that literally.

Children not only inherit all the stuff their parents owned, 

they inherit all that their parents are.

When children are conceived and born, 

What do people say? “You have your mother’s eyes!”

“You look just like your daddy!”

And as we grow to adulthood, like it or not, we become a lot like them.

So, to be “heirs” with Jesus, means that when the Father said, 

"You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased,”

He didn’t only say it to Jesus. He said it to you and me, too!

That’s what the Father said – of you – when you were baptized.

It is what he says every time you and I go to confession.

Each of us has moments of doubt.

Maybe you are single and wondering, what does God have for me?

Are you called to be a priest or in religious life?

That seems so scary, and you may think, I’m not holy enough.

Or you are married

and you despair of ever being a good enough parent. 

Every mistake is always on your mind.

Perhaps you are a young person, and you hate being asked, 

“what are you going to do with your life?” Because you have no clue!

Let’s talk about how, in recent years, so many people are “coming out” 

and saying, “I’m gay,” or “I’m trans” and the like. 

So many of us are bewildered. We’re told, just say it’s great.

We react with jokes or just trying to wave it all away.

These developments are part of a much broader problem: 

more and more people simply do not know who they are. 

By that I mean: they are losing the thread of what it means 

to be human, as opposed to being just another animal.

They are losing the realization that they – we – are a child of God.

And by that, I mean, a God who relates to us 

and acts in our lives and wants you and I me to know him.

A lot of the anger and dislocation in our society is a product of this:

that people who were created to be loved, are starved for that love.

Without stable, secure, family love, they don’t know who they are.

Sooner or later, each of us will meet a family member or friend 

who says he or she can’t relate comfortably with the opposite sex.

They are so disoriented 

that they don’t know if they are male or female.

Don’t dismiss them. Embrace them! Walk with them. And tell them:

Jesus got in line with you! He takes up your cross with you!

The Holy Spirit came down on you!

And the Father says to you: “You are my beloved child. 

With you I am well pleased!”