November 24, 2017 – Memorial of Saint Andrew Dũng-Lac and Companions, Martyrs
On June 19, 1988, Pope John Paul II canonized a group of 117 martyrs who died for the Roman Catholic Faith in Vietnam during the nineteenth century. The group was made up of ninety-six Vietnamese, eleven Spaniards, and ten French. Eight of the group were bishops, fifty were priests and fifty-nine were lay Catholics.
St. Andrew Dung-Lac, who represents this group of heroes, was a Vietnamese diocesan priest. He came from a poor, non-Christian family and was taught by a Christian lay catechist. He worked in the missions with the priests of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris. He was imprisoned and repeatedly tortured during the persecutions of Minh-Meng, the emperor of Vietnam between 1820 and 1840 who was famed for his persecutions of the Christians.
This feast day, and the witnesses of the lives of the martyrs, give testament to the sufferings inflicted on the Vietnamese Church, which are among the most terrible in the long history of Christian martyrdom.
Each morning, I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the communal prayer of the Church. Before I begin I pray my own personal prayers. My prayer follows a pattern. I fight the urge to ask for something for myself right away, but instead begin with prayers of gratitude. I follow this by praying for the needs of others and finally, praying for my own needs.
As we enter the Thanksgiving holiday, I reflect on all those prayers of gratitude I have shared with God over the past year. While I occasionally thank God for small victories – we paid our bills this month, our basement didn’t flood with the last heavy rain, a conflict was resolved, etc. – more often than not I find myself thanking God for the people He has put in my life. Continue reading
November 22, 2017 – Memorial of St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians
St. Cecilia, by preaching, had converted four hundred persons, whom Pope Urban forthwith baptized. Then Cecilia was arrested, and condemned to be suffocated in the baths. She was shut in for a night and a day, and the fires were heaped up, and made to glow and roar their utmost, but Cecilia did not even break out into perspiration through the heat. When Almachius heard this he sent an executioner to cut off her head in the bath. The man struck thrice without being able to sever the head from the trunk. He left her bleeding, and she lived three days. Crowds came to her, and collected her blood with napkins and sponges, whilst she preached to them or prayed. At the end of that period she died, and was buried by Pope Urban and his deacons.
Prayer to St. Cecila:
Dear Saint Cecilia,
One thing we know for certain is that you became a heroic martyr in fidelity to your divine Bridegroom.
We do not know if you were a musician, but we are told taht you heard Angels sing.
Inspire musicians to gladden the hearts of people by filling the air with God’s gift of music and reminding them of the divine Musician who created all beauty.
November 21, 2017
The following is the homily I will be delivering later today at the Guerin Catholic HS all-school Mass. I am the former principal of GCHS and have been graciously invited back to be a part of their Thanksgiving program, Because We Are Grateful (BWAG) – an effort that will send truckloads of donations collected by GCHS students to multiple charities in central Indiana.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way. (Luke 19:1-10)
One thing to keep in mind as you reflect on this familiar gospel story of Zacchaeus: It’s not about being seen; it’s about climbing the tree.
Climbing the tree is about seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus, attempting to lock eyes with Him. He can already see us, but our effort shows Jesus we want Him in our lives.
You might have noticed that when Jesus saw the active faith of Zacchaeus, there was no fanfare. Instead, he immediately put him to work. Climbing the tree showed a desire for a relationship and the faithful have a call to duty
If we truly want to deepen our relationship with Him, it means getting to work. Continue reading
November 20, 2017
“Have sight; your faith has saved you.” (Luke 18:35-43)
Today we meet Bartimaeus, a persistent blind man. He heard Jesus was near, so he began to call out to Him. People tried to tell him to stop. Jesus was an important man. He couldn’t be bothered by blind beggars on the side of the road. Bartimaeus responded by calling out to Jesus even louder. He would not be denied; he would be heard.
And so he was. Jesus rewarded Bartimaeus’ perseverance by giving him his sight.
What others heard as annoying, Jesus heard as perseverance. What others viewed as embarrassing, Jesus saw as courageous. What others thought was impossible, Jesus made possible.
Bartimaeus was persistent because he believed Jesus could give him sight. Jesus saw a man of faith and rewarded him accordingly.
November 19, 2017 – Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time
Readings: Proverbs 31:10-31, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, and Matthew 25:14-30
Carol wanted me to preach on today’s first reading from the Book of Proverbs. I’m not sure why, but I did notice a few lines of the reading that might have caught her eye, “When one finds a worthy wife, her value is beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.”
While I agree Carol has value far beyond pearls and is an unfailing prize, I will be focusing on the other two readings today.
Have you ever done this?: An announcement is being made – at work, at school, at the mall – and after just a few words, you tune it out. You heard something in those first few words that led you to believe the message did not pertain to you. Continue reading
November 17, 2017
For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen. (Wisdom 13:1-9)
I am gaining a new appreciation of the Book of Wisdom, as I have reflected on the weekday readings. The words provide some much…well, wisdom!
I often find myself caught up in the beauty of things I see around me.
I walk outside on a bright, sunny day with a bit of a nip in the air, take a deep breath and say, “What an awesome day!”
On vacation, I often get up at 4:00 a.m. to go out on the lake in a rowboat. I enjoy the quiet and the lake is like glass and so serene. I say to myself, “Wisconsin is so awesome!”
I see one of my grandchildren look up at his or her mother with an adoring look, a look that says, “You are so awesome!” I see this and get a bit choked up and think, “The love between a child and his mother is so awesome.”
Yes, beautiful weather, the nature that is all around us, and the love shared between one another are all awesome. Wisdom reminds us: For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.
In other words, if you think what you are seeing around you is awesome, just imagine how awesome the Creator of all these things must be!