Christmastime is Here. But I always get That Christmas Feeling reminding me that Christmas is so much more than a Sleigh Ride Over the River and Through the Woods. It involves more than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. We Deck the Halls with The Holly and the Ivy, Mistletoe and Holly, Pine Cones and Holly Berries, but we prepare our hearts for more. Do You Hear What I Hear? Ding Dong! Merrily On High, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, but they were more than Silver Bells, Silver and Gold Jingle Bells. No, the Carol of the Bells declares much more. As we celebrate Christmas, we are taken back to The First Noel, when, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear on that Silent Night. Away in a Manger, in a Little Town of Bethlehem, In royal David’s City, the world first celebrated the Birthday of a King. Oh Holy Night, When A Child Is Born, willingly saying “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come.” A Savior is Born! Mary’s Boy Child! Sweet Little Jesus Boy! But What Child is This, that While Shepherds Watched, Angels, From the Realms of Glory come to earth to witness this event. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, declaring In excelsis Gloria. Still, Still, Still. It was A Baby Like You and me, only the Son of God, Eternal Savior. Christ is Born in Bethlehem, who is the Greatest Gift of All. The Shepherds Went Their Hasty Way, they declared to Mary, Dear Mother of Jesus, “Angels We Have Heard on High.” The Friendly Beasts, the Little Drummer Boy, and, eventually following the Star of the East, Three Kings of Orient Are all that are present to see this sight. One has to ask of the rest of the world, Do they Know It’s Christmas? Oh Come, All Ye Faithful, O Come Little Children, let us like Good King Wenceslas come Rejoice, The Lord is King. Rejoice, Rejoice All Believers, not just Angels and Shepherds! Joy to the World, Christ is born. Rejoice and be Glad, Rejoice and be Merry. Christmas day is The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year, but it is so much more than a day – it is The Holiday Season that lasts the full The 12 Days of Christmas and all year through. So, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and ask you to remember that when we sing The Christmas Song, we Sing of God, the Greatest Good. Sing We Noel this Christmas. So Go, Tell It on the Mountain, Up On the Rooftop and everywhere else. Sing the Carol, Raise Your Voices! Come On, Ring Those Bells, ring them until the Jingle Bell Rock. Ring Merrily! Bells will be ringing, and yes, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, too, With Bells On. So God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and women. Sleep Well, Little Children. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. And Let There Be Peace On Earth, peace made possible by Jesus. This is What Christmas Means To Me. (Hidden among these rambling thoughts are the titles of at least 80 Christmas carols and tunes. Have a Merry Christmas.)
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Friday, December 23, 2016
Merry Christmas! I hope that this season is one of peace and joy for all. Christmas is a season - it only begins on December 25. The Twelve days of Christmas, of carol fame, begins - not ends - on Christmas day. Indeed, the twelve days ends on the feast of the Epiphany, we we remember three events in which Christ is revealed to the world (the arrival of the Magi, the Baptism of Christ, and the first miracle at the wedding at Cana). Different cultures have different endings of the season culturally, for example marks is through February 2 (the feast of the Presentation), while others end with the official end of the liturgical season on the Baptism of the Lord, this year January 9. There is something profoundly human (and humane) about this. We prepare for Christmas with another season, Advent, to prepare our hearts to celebrate His birth, but also for His glorious return in the Second Coming. In the Church, we need that time to prepare. While not as intense as Lent, it is a season in the Catholic and Orthodox churches marked by prayer and penance (and even fasting by some). But after such preparations, we also need to to celebrate, and do so for more than one day! Why all this preparation and celebration? Because Christmas is so much more than celebrate a birthday, thought true it is that in part. The Church recalls that Christ was born, but also that He will come again, and when better than when we celebrate His first birth. For a deeper understanding of the meaning of His birth, we need look no further that to some of the carols that we sing during this season. Hark the Herald Angels Sing tells us "God and sinners reconciled”. Silent Night proclaims “the dawn of redeeming grace.” The First Noel reminds us that with His [Christ’s] blood mankind hath bought.” Indeed every Christmas hymn (the religious ones, anyway) tell us the story of the Birth and the reason behind it. Clearly, this is no mere child, but is a Divine Being with a heavenly purpose. Being the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (the persons of the the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit in the one Being of God), Jesus took flesh (the Incarnation) in the womb of Mary, and He was born in a humble stable. While some might quibble about the date, the fact is that He was born, and we celebrate that fact. God became Man, became one of us, so that He would lead us to Himself. He was born that He might offer His life to the Father to redeem us. This is the core of the Christian faith, which begins with Christ’s Incarnation and Birth. He came to die on the Cross to bring the Father’s grace and loving presence to us. With that noble purpose, we need much more than one day. So sing long and well those glorious songs of Christmas and share the joy of our salvation with all.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
On Wednesday, we commemorate All Souls' Day, remembering all who have died. It would be most appropriate to visit a cemetery if possible, to offer a prayer for our dearly departed, and to pray for them. We do not have certainty of their current state - heaven united with God, condemnation because of their rejection of Him, or in the state of purification (Purgatory) where they are purged from the attachments to sin, having been forgive of them already. Because of this, this day offers us the reminder to pray for them.
But these days are also a gentle reminder to us to remember and prepare for our own death. As an epitaph on a grave stone puts it, "Remember me as you pass by, As you are now, so once was I, As I am now, so you must be, Prepare for death and follow me." Put more succinctly: Remember death - Momento mori.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Monday evening was our first Catholic Watchmen night. It was filled with great conversation and faith-sharing, food and prayer! There were about 40 men in attendance, and there is plenty room for more. This first night, Tony Grack presented a little about the Catholic Man Crisis. Too often, the media portrays men in a negative light (think Al Bundy or Homer Simpson). Too often, men are displayed as idiots or dolts, or over domineering. A few more ‘positive’ portrayals include James Bond who has no really family bonds (as Bishop Olmsted in his document Into the Breach points out). We can point to more misbehaviors than strong models of masculinity. Much of society’s ills can be traced to the lack of true men - from the BLM movement to single mothers to abortion. But there is another way, one that is not portrayed well in the media - the family man, sure, strong, consistent, and humble. These are the men that fill our parishes, and these are the men we hope to reach, encourage, and develop. There are men willing to give of themselves, to sacrifice for wife and family. There are men who are modeling their lives after Jesus Christ and being disciples and invite others to follow Christ. With this in mind, hopefully we can all see that the Catholic Watchmen is not in competition to the KCs, mens groups, etc, that are already in place but a means to help them. The Midnight Watch and the events themselves, while they take the men away from their families for those times, actually allow them to return stronger and better!
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Friday, September 2, 2016
I know that it has been a while since I have blogged except for the various articles that have appeared in newspapers and prayers.
Part is that my focus has been elsewhere.
Recently, though, a few have asked about recording my homilies. After doing some research into process and equipment, and after praying about it, I have decided to create a podcast. You can find it at http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:251744182/sounds.rss, or soon on iTunes (View From the Ambo).
The reason is not in pride, but rather in humility. I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to proclaim the Good News, and I try to do so. I know that the first few may be rough until I get the settings right, as well as the knowledge of the software to help make things sound better.
Input is appreciated!
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Friday, May 13, 2016
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Monday, May 9, 2016
Sunday, May 8, 2016
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Friday, May 6, 2016
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Pope Francis has given us a great gift in declaring this year (December 8, 2015-November 20, 2016) an Extraordinary Year of Mercy. Like Jubilee years of the Old Testament, it is meant to be a time of righting wrongs, or returning things to their proper order, and to rejoice in the good things that God has done. Pope Francis is giving us an opportunity to reflect on the nature of God as merciful, and encouraging all to “be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
But what is mercy? Mercy is a willingness to respond to the needs of another, even when the other does not ‘earn’ or ‘deserve’ a response. It is a response to the chaos of the other person’s life and help to bring order. It is seeking to put things right.
Too often, mercy is seen as opposed to justice, that it is understood a being permissive. In encountering sin, we might be tempted to act in such a way that might confirm the sin instead of comforting the sinner. That is not true mercy, however. Mercy is the treat the other person with dignity, to call them out of a destructive behavior, and to remind them of the great and loving God we have. God does not wish us to remain in sin, but rather that we come to Him for forgiveness. Justice is giving a person what they deserve, but mercy is always greater than justice. In showing mercy, God displays His power. While we are yet sinners, He loves us, pardons us, and calls us back. This is mercy! While there is still breath in us, He is always ready to pour His mercy on us. When we are left with no more time to return to Him, His justice comes.
In the end, even Hell itself is an act of mercy, and not blind justice. God loves us enough to let us have our will. If we live apart from His will for our lives, why would we want to live for eternity with Him? Yes, by our actions, we can reject God, in which case He shows His love in allowing us to reject Him. But we can also be presumptuous, assuming His mercy and that He would accept us, unrepentant sin and all. No, we are to call on His mercy, knowing Him to be just. Then, and only then, can we live in His mercy and extend that mercy to others.