Funeral Homily: Rosalie

March 27, 2017

The following homily was delivered Saturday morning at the funeral of Rosalie Snider, mother of a longtime friend, Jane.

The readings chosen for this Mass offer us considerable consolation. From the Book of Wisdom: They are at peace. God found them worthy. The faithful shall abide with him in love.

From 1 Thessalonians: God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. We shall always be with the Lord. Rejoice always.

And from the Gospel of Matthew: Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you. The righteous will go off to eternal life.

Being with the Lord for eternity – it is what we all work toward and hope for. That’s why we consider funeral Masses a celebration of life. Continue reading

Homily: At Least Leave the Door Open

March 26, 2017 – Fourth Sunday of Lent

Homily delivered at St. ius X Parish in Indianapolis, IN:

At first glance, today’s gospel reading offers a familiar two-part theme: The healing power of Jesus and the misguided tunnel vision of the Pharisees. Jesus gave sight to a man who had been blind from birth and the Pharisees called Jesus sinful for performing this miracle on the Sabbath. While it is a familiar story and message, it is one that bears repeating.

However, in preparing the homily for this weekend, I felt like I should dig deeper; there must be something more. First, this gospel was chosen specifically for the Lenten season. There has to be a reason for such placement. Second, the story comes from the Gospel of John, and John’s message is not always obvious. His gospel has layers that need to be peeled back. Continue reading

The Confessional is not a Dry Cleaners

The following is a summary of Pope Francis’ homily from Tuesday, March 21:

The confessional is a place where one can go to humbly seek forgiveness; it is not a dry cleaners where one goes to remove the occasional stain, Pope Francis said.

While forgiveness is “God’s great work of mercy,” Christians can take for granted the power of the sacrament of reconciliation and confess while being “unable to be ashamed” of their sins, the Pope said on March 21 in his homily during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“You did not go there ashamed of what you did. You saw some stains on your conscience and you were mistaken because you believed the confessional was a dry cleaners to remove stains,” he said.

Reflecting on the day’s first reading from the prophet Daniel in which the people of Israel humbly beg God to pardon their sins, the Pope said shame was “the first step” in seeking forgiveness.  

However, he noted, the Gospel reading from St Matthew recounts Jesus’s parable of the ungrateful servant who, although forgiven of a debt, refused to show the same mercy to another.

While forgiveness is “a difficult mystery” to comprehend, the Gospel helps Christians understand that going to confession is more than just making some kind of “bank transaction,” the Pope added.

“If you are not aware of being forgiven you will never be able to forgive, never,” he said. “There is always that attitude of wanting to take others to task. Forgiveness is total. But it can only be done when I feel my sin, when I am ashamed and ask forgiveness of God and feel forgiven by the father so I can forgive.”

Like the ungrateful servant in Jesus’s parable, Christians can be tempted to leave the confessional thinking that “we got away with it.” This feeling, the Pope said, is “the hypocrisy of stealing forgiveness, a pretend forgiveness.”

For this reason, he added, it is important to “ask for the grace of shame before God.”

“It is a great grace! To be ashamed of our own sins and thus receive forgiveness and the grace of generosity to give to others because if the Lord has forgiven me so much, who am I to not forgive?” he said.

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The Joy of Family

March 24, 2017

The following personal essay was written by Ashley Freiburger, a sophomore Creative Writing student at Bishop Chatard High School:

God has put 48 first cousins in my life. Not many people are able to say they grew up in such a big family – full of fun, laughter, and most importantly, God’s love.

It is not very often that all 48 cousins are together at one time. However, we had the occasion to come together when we celebrated a family wedding last fall.

The day after the wedding was an absolutely beautiful September day. In my family, God comes first. What better way to thank God for one another and for the beautiful day than to celebrate Mass together? My uncle is a priest and he agreed to celebrate the Mass for us. We were ready to praise God. We sang; we held hands; we participated in the homily, and shared in the Eucharist.

Near the end of the Mass, when we were all silently praying, I began to look around. I watched my family members deep in prayer and my little cousins praying, but anxious to be done. My grandmother winked at me and smiled.

I couldn’t help but thank God for the big family with which I was blessed. We fight; we bicker; we annoy one another. However, at times like this those moments fade away, and there is nothing but love in the air.

Reflection posted with permission of Ashley and her parents




Parents: Have that Spring Break conversation

March 23, 2017

Weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard High School parent community:

Spring break arrives next Friday!

Many of you will be leaving on family vacations or sending your child off with friends to enjoy time away from the rigors of academia. We pray that everyone has a safe and restful break. We also pray that parents have had serious conversations with their teens about spring break and all that is presumed to go along with it.

Over the years spring break has become less about getting away for a restful vacation, and more about being a rite of passage for teens to push limits or explore new things. Temptations abound and your children need advice and counsel on how to best exhibit resolve and fortitude in the face of these temptations.

Every year newspapers are full of stories of spring break tragedies. Every year people wonder if these tragedies could have been prevented. The answer in many cases is a definitive “Yes!”

Have that conversation. Give that advice. While on vacation, know where your children are, who they are with, and what they are doing. Check in with them often. Then the next day, do it again. In front of their friends, they will roll their eyes and complain that their parents are treating them like children (which of course you are, because they are children); but privately they will appreciate knowing that you care about them.

Our prayers are with all of our families for a safe and restful spring break!

God bless you!


Artisans of Reconciliation

March 22, 2017

Pope Francis offers us some thoughts on the Lenten season:

“We know who Jesus is, but maybe we have not met him in person, talked with him, and recognized him as our Savior.

This time of Lent is a good time to approach him, meet him in prayer in a heart to heart conversation, and see his face in the face of a brother or sister suffering,” Pope Francis explained.

By approaching the Lord in prayer and strengthening our personal relationship with him, he said, “We can renew in us the grace of Baptism, quench our thirst at the source of the Word of God and his Holy Spirit; and so discover the joy of becoming artisans of reconciliation and peace tools in everyday life.”


No Limits

March 21, 2017

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

The following is a common concern I hear expressed by young people and adults alike regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation: I feel I keep confessing the same sin over and over again. In my heart I wonder if God has a limit on His patience with me. He must be thinking, ‘I have already forgiven you for this sin multiple times – that’s it – no more!’

We hear God’s response to this concern in today’s gospel. He expects of us the same as He offers to us. That is, unlimited mercy.

What I share with those who express concern over being repeat sinners is this: If you are simply going through the motions, going to confession with the same script you used last time, in order to check “confession” off of your list…you will not reap the benefits of the sacrament.

However, God knows your heart. If you enter the confessional with a willingness to be open and honest in your failings, and a sincere desire to do better, mercy will be granted – regardless of the number of times you have confessed that same sin.

The words of the Act of Contrition capture the spirit of the “contrite heart”: I am sorry for my sins with all my heart…I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.

That is what God wants of me – He wants to know that I am sorry with all my heart and firmly intend to sin no more.

If He finds sincerity in my heart and in my words, He will forgive me “seventy-seven times.”

God’s mercy has no limits.