May your people
exult for ever, O God,
in renewed youthfulness of spirit,
so that, rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption,
we may look forward in confident hope
to the rejoicing of the day of resurrection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.
"Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ."
"Under the dispensation of the Spirit all things were to become new and to be reversed. Strength, numbers, wealth, philosophy, eloquence, craft, experience of life, knowledge of human nature, these are the means by which worldly men have ever gained the world. But in that kingdom which Christ has set up, all is contrariwise."
--Saint John Henry Newman, to whom the majority of the thoughts in this homily are to be attributed, Deo gratias.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
This homily was preached at Christ the King at the opening Mass for our faculty formation days, in which a representative of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education presented to us on the liberal arts pedagogy being implemented at Christ the King Catholic School. Please forgive my errata on the details of Polycarp's life and martyrdom.
"What is a farm but a mute gospel? The chaff and the wheat, weeds and plants, blight, rain, insects, sun — it is a sacred emblem from the first furrow of spring to the last stack which the snow of winter overtakes in the fields.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved."
Saint Ignatius Loyola
“Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of his minister, but especially under the Eucharistic species…, in the sacraments…, in his word…, and when the Church prays and sings…. Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ."
--The Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium
“What was visible in our Savior has passed over into his sacraments.”
--Saint Leo the Great
This homily was delivered in Spanish.
Yo pasé unas semanas meditanto y escribiendo este retrato de palabras para nuestras familias de la escuela Christ the King Clasiscal, y me gustaría compartirlo con ustedes como meditación sobre la importancia y dignidad de la familia.
Avoid the peddlers of outrage and despair. Do not retreat into a Stoic withdrawal and observe with grim satisfaction as the world crumbles about you. Cultivate the hope of the saints that nothing given to God is given in vain.
I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God. (Isaiah 49:4)
"The Church’s teachings concerning contingent situations are subject to new and further developments and can be open to discussion, yet we [as pastors] cannot help but be concrete—without presuming to enter into details—lest the great social principles remain mere generalities which challenge no one. . . . The Church’s pastors, taking into account the contributions of the different sciences, have the right to offer opinions in all that affects people’s lives, since the task of evangelization implies and demands the integral promotion of each human being."
Pope Francis, quote in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
Statement by Archbishop Joseph Naumann
From Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Spe Salvi:
We who have always lived with the Christian concept of God, and have grown accustomed to it, have almost ceased to notice that we possess the hope that ensues from a real encounter with this God. The example of a saint of our time can to some degree help us understand what it means to have a real encounter with this God for the first time. I am thinking of the African Josephine Bakhita, canonized by Pope John Paul II. She was born around 1869—she herself did not know the precise date—in Darfur in Sudan. At the age of nine, she was kidnapped by slave-traders, beaten till she bled, and sold five times in the slave-markets of Sudan. Eventually she found herself working as a slave for the mother and the wife of a general, and there she was flogged every day till she bled; as a result of this she bore 144 scars throughout her life. Finally, in 1882, she was bought by an Italian merchant for the Italian consul Callisto Legnani, who returned to Italy as the Mahdists advanced. Here, after the terrifying “masters” who had owned her up to that point, Bakhita came to know a totally different kind of “master”—in Venetian dialect, which she was now learning, she used the name “paron” for the living God, the God of Jesus Christ. Up to that time she had known only masters who despised and maltreated her, or at best considered her a useful slave. Now, however, she heard that there is a “paron” above all masters, the Lord of all lords, and that this Lord is good, goodness in person. She came to know that this Lord even knew her, that he had created her—that he actually loved her. She too was loved, and by none other than the supreme “Paron”, before whom all other masters are themselves no more than lowly servants. She was known and loved and she was awaited. What is more, this master had himself accepted the destiny of being flogged and now he was waiting for her “at the Father's right hand”. Now she had “hope” —no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: “I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me—I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.” Through the knowledge of this hope she was “redeemed”, no longer a slave, but a free child of God. She understood what Paul meant when he reminded the Ephesians that previously they were without hope and without God in the world—without hope because without God. Hence, when she was about to be taken back to Sudan, Bakhita refused; she did not wish to be separated again from her “Paron”. On 9 January 1890, she was baptized and confirmed and received her first Holy Communion from the hands of the Patriarch of Venice. On 8 December 1896, in Verona, she took her vows in the Congregation of the Canossian Sisters and from that time onwards, besides her work in the sacristy and in the porter's lodge at the convent, she made several journeys round Italy in order to promote the missions: the liberation that she had received through her encounter with the God of Jesus Christ, she felt she had to extend, it had to be handed on to others, to the greatest possible number of people. The hope born in her which had “redeemed” her she could not keep to herself; this hope had to reach many, to reach everybody.
"If I go on living in the flesh,
that means fruitful labor for me.
And I do not know which I shall choose.
I am caught between the two.
I long to depart this life and be with Christ,
for that is far better."
After a brief note on the Good & the Bad over my first year as pastor of Christ the King, Blessed Sacrament, and Our Lady & St. Rose, I present the possibility that the coming year will be not Ugly, but Beautiful. The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful.
In this lengthier homily, I try to articulate the reasons--both practical and fundamental--as to why the style of music is changing at our parishes. Comments and feedback is always appreciated.
The following podcast is an audio version of an essay that attempts to peer into the spiritual and moral machinery of our culture and discern its workings. I have personally returned to this essay many times since its publication, and I regard it as one of the most important for getting a handle on what is happening in our country at the present time. A teaser:
"How can one account for the rise of the extraordinary prestige of victims , as a category, in the contemporary world? The explanation is traceable to the extraordinary weight of guilt in our time, the pervasive need to find innocence through moral absolution, to discharge one’s moral burden, and to the fact that the conventional means of finding that absolution”or even of keeping the range of one’s responsibility for one’s sins within some kind of reasonable boundaries”are no longer generally available. Making a claim to the status of certified victim, or to identification with victims, however, offers itself as a substitute means by which the moral burden of sin can be shifted and one’s innocence affirmed."
You can read the essay online here: https://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/05/the-moral-economy-of-guilt
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.
"Monotheists believe their God created 1 billion trillion stars in the parts of the universe observable with telescopes on the Earth or in space—with a maximum of around 5,000 of them visible to the naked eye—so the inhabitants of earth would have a pretty sky to observe at night." --Atheist Tim Sledge
Since I'm on quarantine, I'm not doing homilies, but I thought this essay would be a great chance to reflect a little during these days of shelter-in-place. Dr. Cuddeback presents a perspective that has a lot of insight for how to make the most of these times.
You can read the essay in full here:
Would you like more of Dr. Cuddeback's thoughts on how to flourish as a family? Listen to his address to the 2018 Prairie Troubador Symposium in Fort Scott, Kansas:
After the homily, I've included a reading of Francis Thompson's poem, "The Hound of Heaven," which I reference in the homily. I hope you enjoy the reading in full. Thanks to Mike and Katie Cotter for the beautiful leatherbound copy of the poem, from which I read.
P.S. The Spanish word I was hunting for was sabueso.
Happy Easter to all!
Father Connor Danstrom (of Three Dogs North fame) mentioned he puts out the audio only of his Masses on his podcast. I found the idea appealing--a chance for the faithful to use their imaginations a bit. Amazon won't be delivering my high quality mics for another month or two, so the quality isn't great. It's just not up to me any more.
After a brief comment on the intercession of Saint Joseph in our community, we pause and try to swallow the improbable reality that God was tempted, and what that can mean for our own mortifications and determination to remain obedient to God even when tempted.
One of the most powerful sermons I have ever read by St. John Henry Newman speaks of the need to risk something for a future reward--by which is meant life after death. We risk it on the faith of Christ's word, not for any worldly benefit or improvement of our present life, but for hope of resurrection. Read the sermon of St. Newman in its entirety here.
Our parishes have been participating in the Seven Sundays of Saint Joseph Devotion, culminating with his Solemn Feast Day the 19th of March. I spoke about Saint Joseph some time ago and I thought it would be good to return to this homily as a reminder of why this devotion is important. I particularly recommend this essay summarizing the role of Saint Joseph in the Christian life.
The book quoted, referencing the effect that the widespread adoption of confession according to the Irish monks had on western civilization, is entitled Heroism and Genius: How Catholic Priests Helped Build—and Can Help Rebuild—Western Civilization, by William Slattery.
You see, there's good fire, and then there's bad fire...
This homily was the first homily Father Blaha delivered at the English-speaking Masses at Blessed Sacrament, Christ the King, and Our Lady & St. Rose.
A follow-up from last week's archival post, about the call to be transformed in that realm St. James calls the "bridle of the whole body"––our speech. "Look at the ships; though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell" (James 3:4-6).
Since I’m away for continued studies this summer, it seemed worthwhile to dig through the archives and re-publish older homilies that were well received. Many of these homilies didn’t get imported to the current podcast feed on Anchor. This week’s homily is from Father’s Day 2016.
" Lightly men talk of saying what they mean. Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, ‘Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.’ A glib saying. When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean?"
CS Lewis, Till We Have Faces
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good tidings to the afflicted;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion --
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
Aliens shall stand and feed your flocks,
foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
but you shall be called the priests of the LORD,
men shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
and in their riches you shall glory.
Instead of your shame you shall have a double portion,
instead of dishonor you shall rejoice in your lot;
therefore in your land you shall possess a double portion;
yours shall be everlasting joy.
For I the LORD love justice,
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
my soul shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
to spring forth before all the nations.
Isaiah Chapter 61
Asking God to accept our sacrifice implies it might not be. This homily addresses what must be offered, how it is to be offered, under what forms it is to be offered, and by whom it is offered in order to be a pleasing sacrifice to God.
We're grateful to Phil Couture for making the trip from Denver, Colorado to speak to us about his years as a missionary to the homeless on the streets. Phil offers some insight on how to help the people asking for help.
(Part 1 of 2) Daniel Kerr, President of newly founded Saint Martin's Academy, a boarding school and working farm in southeast Kansas, wants education to be simpler and to let reality do its work.
On the centennial of the Armistice ending the Great War, a meditation on the reproach of Christians and our need to embrace a real hope in the midst of the disasters from which we cannot deliver ourselves.
The Blessed Angela of Foligno said, “If we knew the just value of suffering for God, it would become an object of plunder”–which is as much as to say that each one would seek an opportunity of robbing his neighbor of the occasions of suffering.
A QUESTION OF CONSCIENCE:
A QUESTION OF CONSCIENCE – Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent
HIRELINGS (on Humanae Vitae, with extensive supplemental material):
HIRELINGS – Homily for the 4th Sunday of Easter
Nurses are the most trusted professionals in America.
Their reputation is deserved, but nothing comes without a cost.
Natalie offers some straight talk about the joys and challenges that nurses & medical professionals face in their professional and personal lives.
Read Father James Dominic Brent’s essay on chastity and contraception (click title below to read):
The link to the 1990 document by the Philippine Bishops containing the apology for lack of teaching on contraception and married life: here.
Dr. Janet Smith and Mary Eberstadt present the data on which many of the statements in this homily are based. You can read them in full here:
“Contraception: Why Not?” (detailed essay)
“The Vindication of Humanae Vitae” (2008)
“The Prophetic Power of Humanae Vitae” (2018)
“Quasimodo’s cathedral was enough for him. It was peopled with marble figures of kings, saints and bishops who at least did not laugh in his face and looked at him with only tranquillity and benevolence. The other statues, those of monsters and demons, had no hatred for him – he resembled them too closely for that. It was rather the rest of mankind that they jeered at. The saints were his friends and blessed him; the monsters were his friends and kept watch over him. He would sometimes spend whole hours crouched before one of the statues in solitary conversation with it. If anyone came upon him then he would run away like a lover surprised during a serenade.” 214372
The prayer of Saint Anselm quoted at length in the homily can be found here.
As promised in the homily, more information on the immigration issue:
The USCCB released a document in 2003 on immigration entitled “Strangers No Longer“.
A thoughtful exchange from two different perspectives can be found here.
Another thoughtful, more recent essay from the same publication.
“Take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.”