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Sunday, January 26, 2014
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
This Scripture means a great deal to me on a number of levels. You may or not know my vocation story, but I am always grateful to my older brother Bobby and the role he played in my answering the call to the priesthood.
Let me just paint the picture real quickly. I'd thought about priesthood my entire life, but never told anyone, partially because I wanted to be married and have a family, partially because I didn't think it would be a very enjoyable life, and partially because I was afraid of being called. It wasn't until my last year of college that this "call" became very loud and clear. Bobby was discerning the priesthood and he broke the news to my parents and finally it gave the courage to talk openly about my "call". He mentioned that he was going to make a retreat at the seminary and told me I could join him if I wanted. I never did get the date from him.
It was a friday evening weeks later. Now remember, I was in college, getting ready to go out to the flats and party the night away. One of my friends was already at my house to pick me up. My brother, much like myself, is not very good with dates forgot to tell me that this was the Friday of the retreat. He called on his way to the Seminary and asked if I was still coming. I realized I would be late for the retreat, would have to tell my friend to go without me and miss what looked to be a pretty good night.
My parents have a beautiful back yard with trees and a creek running through it. It was evening and the sun was setting. I vividly remember going out there on the back deck and talking to God and asking Him for some clarity. In the beauty of His Creation I had a great sense of peace and rightness and goodness. The phone rang and it was the priest who was running the retreat. He told me I could come late. I told him I wasn't packed... "That's Ok" he said just come now. I told him "I'm not even sure what to bring." He said you don't need anything just come now. I told him "one of my friends was already here and I wasn't sure what to do." "Come now." He said. And I did.
The truth is when we finally hear the voice of God it is effective. What I mean is that we don't necessarily have to be prepared, we may not be expecting it at all, we may not think we are ready, but when we know deep down that it is Jesus calling. We have a tendency to respond immediately.
Notice in the Gospels today when Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee he invites Peter and Andrew, He calls them and "at once they left their nets and followed him." Later he comes across two other brothers: James and John who were fishing in their boat with their father. He calls them and "immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him."
I think about the people who have joined the Catholic faith over the years. At some point maybe even after years they finally decide to take the step. In some mysterious way God speaks to them, takes their heart, and immediately they dive in. It's amazing to watch someone convert to the faith and give themselves entirely over and open themselves up so wonderfully to the grace of God in the Sacraments.
I think of the people who helped start the men's and women's renewals. Each one of them felt "a call" at some point and when they knew it was Jesus calling... they responded without hesitation. They just say "Father, I knew it was the time." "I know this is what I need right now."
I think about the people who have traveled on the Mission Trips to El Salvador. They too will have this moment of resolution where they know there is no turning back. God is calling them to this great adventure and once they realize that there is no hesitation, no reluctance, they just know they have to do it and they have to do it now.
Maybe God is calling you to some mission or purpose?
The truth is he is still calling today. I was blessed to walk along the Sea of Galilee last year and I feel as though the Galilee is right here... Jesus is walking in our midst. If you are reading this, it's like right now He's walking by you in the Sea of Galilee.... calling you. He's calling some of you to the priesthood, I know there are right now reading this that he is calling to the priesthood. Some He may be calling to religious life. I know there are others that are worried about leaving their families, or their work, or their business... but when they realize it is Him calling, when they hear it is His voice there is no doubt in my mind that they will "immediately leave their boats and their father" and follow him.
When God calls, it doesn't matter so much if we are expecting it, or prepared, or ready... the power more so remains in God Calling.
Is God calling you to something? This is the Sea of Galilee right here... when you realize it is Jesus calling, he has an ability to move you and stir you that you respond "at once" and "immediately"... Follow me.
April 5-11, 2014
contact me if you are interested!
Last year we focused on renovating an old bell tower into a Perpetual Adoration Chapel!
This was our progress while we were there...
The Project is now finished!
This year we plan on helping to build and subsidize an all new Parish Academy!
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Pope Francis is starting a new series of teachings on the Seven Sacraments. His first one providentially is on Baptism and today we celebrate "The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord."
At the end of it he gives you some homework!
Here are some excerpts from his "General Audience."
Baptism is the Sacrament on which our very faith is founded and which grafts us as a living member onto Christ and his Church.
Yet a question may stir within us: is Baptism really necessary to live as Christians and follow Jesus?
And on this point what the Apostle Paul writes is illuminating: “Do you not know that all of us who have been
baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4). Therefore, it is not a formality! It is an act that touches the depths of our existence. A baptized child and an unbaptized child are not the same. A person who is baptized and a person who is not baptized are not the same. We, by Baptism, are immersed in that inexhaustible source of life which is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history; and thanks to this love we can live a new life, no longer at the mercy of evil, of sin and of death, but in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.
I have asked this question two or three times already, here, in this square: who among you knows the date of your Baptism, raise your hands. It is important to know the day on which I was immersed in that current of Jesus' salvation. And I will allow myself to give you some advice... but, more than advice, a task for today. Today, at home, go look, ask about the date of your Baptism and that way you will keep in mind that most beautiful day of Baptism. To know the date of our Baptism is to know a blessed day. The danger of not knowing is that we can lose awareness of what the Lord has done in us, the memory of the gift we have received. Thus, we end up considering it only as an event that took place in the past – and not by our own will but by that of our parents – and that it has no impact on the present. We must reawaken the memory of our Baptism.
It is by the power of Baptism, in fact, that, freed of original sin, we are inserted into Jesus' relation to God the Father; that we are bearers of a new hope, for Baptism gives us this new hope: the hope of going on the path of salvation our whole life long. And this hope nothing and no one can extinguish, for it is a hope that does not disappoint. Remember, hope in the Lord never disappoints. Thanks to Baptism, we are capable of forgiving and of loving even those who offend us and do evil to us. By our Baptism, we recognize in the least and in the poor the face of the Lord who visits us and makes himself close. Baptism helps us to recognize in the face of the needy, the suffering, and also of our neighbour, the face of Jesus. All this is possible thanks to the power of Baptism!
A last point, which is important. I ask you a question: can a person baptize him or herself? No one can be self-baptized! No one. We can ask for it, desire it, but we always need someone else to confer this Sacrament in the name of the Lord. For Baptism is a gift which is bestowed in a context of care and fraternal sharing. Throughout history, one baptizes another, another and another... it is a chain. A chain of Grace. I cannot baptize myself: I must ask another for Baptism. It is an act of brotherhood, an act of filiation to the Church. In the celebration of Baptism we can see the most genuine features of the Church, who like a mother continues to give birth to new children in Christ, in the fecundity of the Holy Spirit.
And do not forget your homework today: find out, ask for the date of your Baptism. As I know my birthday, I should know my Baptism day, because it is a feast day.
(You can read the whole address and watch the video by clicking here).
So here's the homework:
1) Find your baptismal certificate and remember the date you were baptized on and celebrate it as a feast day every year!
2) Remember the people who have taken you by the hand in the faith. You can't baptize yourself!
As we hear in the first reading today from the prophet Isaiah?
"I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
The Holy Father reminds us no one can be self-baptized. Someone using their very own hands poured water over you and spoke the words "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Spend some time reflecting on the people who have taken you by the hand. And if you feel so moved acknowledge them, write them a letter, take them out to lunch, thank God for them.
(My Baptism: June 24, 1979)
(My Baptism: June 24, 1979)
3) Take someone else by the hand in the faith.
Just as you have been taken by the hand and others have invited you into this faith, helped form you in this faith and grow in this faith. You too are called to grasp others by the hand. Try to think of someone that you can reach out to and grasp them by the hand and bring them into this wonderful gift of salvation.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
My pastor at my last parish uses the same homily every year on Epiphany. You will only hear it from me this one time. It is so profound it only requires five words. This may be the shortest homily you ever get from me!
As many of you are so generous and thoughtful to us priests during Christmas (Thank you!), we get to see a lot of Christmas Cards. One of them is a beautiful scene with the Magi and their camels following the star to Bethlehem.
Inside the card are the five words: