Feast of St. Lawrence – Patron Saint of Deacons

August 10, 2022 – Feast of St. Lawrence

A well-known legend has persisted from earliest times. As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. When Lawrence knew he would be arrested like the pope, he sought out the poor, widows, and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels of the altar to increase the sum. When the prefect of Rome heard of this, he imagined that the Christians must have considerable treasure. He sent for Lawrence and said, “You Christians say we are cruel to you, but that is not what I have in mind. I am told that your priests offer in gold, that the sacred blood is received in silver cups, that you have golden candlesticks at your evening services. Now, your doctrine says you must render to Caesar what is his. Bring these treasures—the emperor needs them to maintain his forces. God does not cause money to be counted: He brought none of it into the world with him—only words. Give me the money, therefore, and be rich in words.”

Lawrence replied that the Church was indeed rich. “I will show you a valuable part. But give me time to set everything in order and make an inventory.” After three days he gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned, and widowed persons and put them in rows. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, “These are the treasure of the Church.”

The prefect was so angry he told Lawrence that he would indeed have his wish to die—but it would be by inches. He had a great gridiron prepared with coals beneath it, and had Lawrence’s body placed on it. After the martyr had suffered the pain for a long time, the legend concludes, he made his famous cheerful remark, “It is well done. Turn me over!”

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-lawrence/

Most Important

August 9, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from or inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

There are two questions asked in today’s gospel – one by the disciples: The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” and the other by Jesus: If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?

MOST IMPORTANT: The question asked by the disciples came from a selfish viewpoint. They were trying to establish some sort of rank order. They are hoping to be able to jockey for a position of prominence in heaven.

However, by sharing the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus is turning the tables on them. The question becomes, “Who is most important in the eyes of God?” If there are ninety-nine sheep secured and one that is lost, it is the lost sheep that is most important – so important that the Good Shepherd would leave the ninety-nine vulnerable to save the one.

That said, once the lost sheep is found, the most important sheep becomes the next one that gets lost, or gets its leg caught in a fence, or is being stalked by a wolf.

Whichever sheep has the greatest need is the “most important” in the eyes of the shepherd.

If you – like me – are a sheep that gets lost at times, or struggles with a variety of problems, knowing who is most important to the shepherd should bring you great peace.

Memorial of Saint Dominic

August 8, 2022 – Memorial of St. Dominic

Dominic began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He did this work for 10 years and was successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.

He and his fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 Dominic founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans.

Dominic’s ideal, and that of his Order, was to organically link a life with God, study, and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal: contemplata tradere: “to pass on the fruits of contemplation” or “to speak only of God or with God.”

Prayer of St. Dominic

May God the Father who made us bless us.

May God the Son send His healing among us.

May God the Holy Spirit move within us and give us eyes with which to see, ears with which to hear, and hands by which His work might be done.

May we walk and preach the word of God to all.

May the angel of peace watch over us and lead us at last, with God’s grace, to the Kingdom.

Amen

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-dominic/

Homily: Sure and Certain Hope

August 7, 2022 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Wisdom 18:6-9 / Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-12 / Luke 12:35-40

I delivered the following homily BACK IN 2019 on the same readings we have today:

Many of you know that my wife, Carol, has retired after working nearly 25 years at St. Pius X School and Bishop Chatard. On that topic, before I begin my homily, I’d like to answer some of the pressing questions I have been asked lately.

With a great deal of concern, people have asked, “How is Carol doing? Is she OK? Is she adjusting to retirement? Any regrets about retiring?”

Let me say this as clearly and emphatically as I can: I assure you, Carol is fine. Please do not spend another minute worrying about Carol and her adjustment to retirement. She has never once looked back. She sleeps well at night and does whatever she wants during the day – so yes, I think she’s “adjusting.”

As a matter of fact, in the history of retirement, I would dare say no one has adjusted more quickly and efficiently than my wife.

Please put your concerns about Carol aside – she is just fine.

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Listen to Him

August 6, 2022 – Feast of the Transfiguration

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from or inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” (Luke 9:28-36)

LISTEN TO HIM: I will be preaching at a Mass this morning for the newest students at Guerin Catholic – the Class of 2026 – and their parents. The gospel today has an important message for them.

The gospel tells the story of the Transfiguration. The always impetuous Peter is at it again. While taking in this awe-inspiring event on the top of the mountain, he immediately goes into “what we need to do next mode.” He suggest they build three tents – one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. However, Luke wrote, “But he did not know what he was saying.”

While still speaking about his plan, the voice of God interrupts him: “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

God was saying, “Stop! Be in THIS moment. Take in the beauty and awe of THIS experience!”

Oftentimes, we are too busy thinking ahead to truly appreciate what is happening in the here and now. I will encourage the students and their parents to take in the “high school experience.” The four years will go by in the blink of an eye.

Take it all in. Embrace the beauty of forming relationships, growing in your faith, and finding your passions. Be PRESENT.

The future will come soon enough. Don’t grow old and look back with regret on what you missed, people you never really got to know, and opportunities that went undiscovered.

Live each day with a grateful heart. Be present to both circumstances and the people you’ll encounter. Take in God’s grace.

Take Up Our Cross

August 5, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from or inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”  (Matthew 16:24-28)

TAKE UP OUR CROSS: When Jesus was performing miracles and feeding large crowds, followers flocked to Him. However, when He spoke as He did in today’s gospel, many turned away.

Jesus never spoke of immediate gratification or short term fixes. He wasn’t promoting what followers needed to do to get by that day. He was offering eternal life. He was calling them to short-term sacrifice and hardship in exchange for a place with Him in Paradise.

It wasn’t for everyone. Some who heard about Jesus came to listen to His message. The self-denial and cross-carrying argument simply did not appeal to them.

Jesus knew then and knows now that not everyone will buy what He is selling, but He will keep trying. He will never give up on us.

“Create a clean heart in me, O God”

August 4, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from or inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“…write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

Responsorial Psalm: “Create a clean heart in me, O God” (Psalm 51:12)

CLEAN HEART: I will be leading a retreat today for the teachers and staff members of St. Maria Goretti Catholic School. At the retreat Mass, I will share these thoughts in my homily:

God’s grace is all around us. It is ALWAYS all around us. Why do we experience that grace at times and feel anxious and alone – Godless – at other times? It has to do with the condition of our hearts.

The grace of God can only enter a willing heart, an open heart. The Responsorial Psalm asks God to prepare our hearts, to clean away anything that might impede that grace: bitterness, hatred, intolerance, anger, stress, anxiety, fear, etc. This is echoed in another familiar Psalm (95:8): “If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart.”

On the other hand, an open or clean heart gives God’s grace access. With that access, God shares His love with us – He “writes it on our hearts.” There is an intimacy to this – us opening our hearts to God and God writing “I love you!” on our hearts.

What is the state of our hearts? We are called to let go of anything that may impede access to our hearts. That is not easy, so we pray: “Create a clean heart in me, O God.”

Great is Your Faith

August 3, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from or inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! (Matthew 15:21-28)

GREAT IS YOUR FAITH: I have never been much of a fan of the “squeaky wheel” mentality. Being a squeaky wheel does seem to be effective, but I have been on the receiving end of some of that squeaking and it can be very annoying! There were a number of times I caved in to the squeaking just to make it to stop.

In today’s Gospel, the Canaanite woman tries to approach Jesus to request His help and is turned away by the disciples, but she persists. Even Jesus seems to be dismissing her, but that does not deter her. She believed her daughter could be cured, and she believed Jesus was the one to do it.

Jesus was able to filter out the squeaking. He knew that no one would continue to fight through that much rejection unless she truly believed he could grant her request. Ultimately, this belief, this faith, was rewarded and her daughter was cured.

Jesus hears the prayers of a persistent, faith-filled heart.

Take Courage…Immediately

August 2, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from or inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him… (Matthew 14:22-36)

I will be leading a retreat today for 60+ teachers and staff members of St. Mark Catholic School. We will begin with Mass and I will share these thoughts in my homily:

As ministers of the Church – which Catholic school teachers are – our work is never done. That is just the reality of ministry.

Think of all that educators have been asked to do over the years: fire drills, tornado drills, and now, active shooter drills. The Department of Education has a list of requirements that must be met, plus those of the Archdiocese. Don’t forget CPR training. And of course, when a pandemic came along, they needed to throw they’ve ever known about traditional teaching out the window and start over – learning to teach remotely, or electronically, or with half their students in the classroom and the other half at home. All of this is in addition to teaching the content of a particular academic area according to curriculum standards.

And to top it all off, I’m going to tell these teachers that they are also obligated – by their baptism – “to preach the gospel to every living creature.”

All that said, today’s gospel offers hope. Jesus tells us to “Take courage.” These are not hollow words of encouragement. He backs the words up with the promise that He will be there every step of the way, if we simply believe.

How do we know? He showed us by how He responded to Peter when he became frightened and unsure if he could do all that was being asked of him.

The most important word in this gospel – in my opinion – is IMMEDIATELY. When Peter faltered, Jesus did not leave him to flounder. He immediately stretched out His hand and caught him.

My message to these educators: The work of ministry is never done. When what is being asked of you becomes overwhelming, take courage and push forward. Walk with confidence, knowing that if you should falter or doubt, Jesus will immediately reach out His hand to you.

They All Ate

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied...  (Matthew 14:13-21)

THEY ALL ATE: Each time I have read the parable of the loaves and fishes, my focus has been on the miracle of the multiplication of resources. With only five loaves and two fish, Jesus fed 5,000+ and had plenty left over.

Different words jumped out from the Gospel as I read it today: “They all ate and were satisfied…”

Today’s Gospel points to this: We must feed them all.

We cannot selectively feed those who come to us. The Gospel does not say that Jesus went through the crowd, deciding who would eat and who would not eat. He fed them all; and they were all satisfied – He met the needs of each individual.

For Christians, it is the same: Go out and make disciples of all men.

We must challenge ourselves by asking the question: Are we feeding everyone we encounter, or are we being selective in our feeding?