Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday - Be Not Afraid to Be Fully Catholic

This homily was given at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church
in Corpus Christi, TX, April 17th, 2014, for the celebration of
Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper
If you have trouble listening, click here.

On this most sacred night we celebrate with joy the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist, that our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night he was betrayed took bread, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said, THIS IS MY BODY.  He took wine and said, “THIS IS MY BLOOD.”  

Because Jesus is not merely the prophet, or teacher of God, not just born of divine grace, but actually the Eternal Son of the Eternal Father, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, because He is God from God, when he spoke these words, he was creating something new.  Just like when He spoke the words “Let there be light,” and light was created. He said, “THIS IS MY BODY,” and “DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME,” at that moment he created, or we say instituted, this, the Most Holy Sacrament of His Love and with it the ingenious invention of Love by which the Eucharist is given to us - through the Sacred Priesthood.

Tonight’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper is the first of three days, that is for us one sacred liturgy, or the Sacred Triduum, where we remember and call to mind the most important moment of our salvation, when Jesus offered Himself as a Eucharistic Victim, then began immediately to enter into his sufferings in the garden, his betrayal and arrest, his overnight incarceration, his rejection and abandonment by his closest friends and apostles, which we will commemorate tonight by a procession to the altar of repose, where we ought to spend a moment with Jesus thinking about the time he spent imprisoned for us that we may be made free.

Tomorrow, on Good Friday, all day we should be thinking about once again living through his trial, his torturous scourging, the mockery of his kingship with the crown of thorns, his condemnation, his rejection and revilement by the crowds, his way of the Cross, his Crucifixion and glorious death after bitter hours of suffering on the Cross.

Saturday night we will celebrate the Easter Vigil, entering the church in darkness and pondering on the events of salvation through the readings. Then with the service of light and the singing of the Alleluia, we will celebrate the glorious Resurrection of our Savior, triumphing over the world, the flesh, the devil, sin, and death.

As we go through this Sacred Triduum, let us remember that it is through the sacred liturgy the work of our redemption is accomplished, that we do not just remember or commemorate what Jesus did for us, but by participating in Sacrament of the Eucharist, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Death and Resurrection of Christ will be carried out in us in a new and powerful way.

In all of this we ought to come to a more intimate and profound awareness that God loves each of us personally, and the key to unlocking each moment of his passion, death, and resurrection - is that he did it for me.  He gave himself in the Eucharist and Priesthood FOR ME.  He suffered FOR ME.  He died FOR ME.  He rose FOR ME.

Tonight let us see that Jesus wants to cement and institute in our lives anew the Most Holy Eucharist.  Let us pause to reflect for a moment on the meaning of the Sacred Priesthood and the Eucharist.

A few years ago I was getting a few things at the H-E-B over on Leopard and Neuces here in Corpus Christi, TX. I was walking by the checkout lane and a woman saw my gray robe that I wear and gave me that look.  You know that look.  She obviously wanted to say something to me. I wasn’t sure if she was curious or confused, so I approached her and she blurted out in a kind of irritated way, “So…what are you?”

I prayed to the Holy Spirit so that He would be the one to answer her question.  Then I was surprised to hear myself say, “I AM CELIBATE.  I am dressed like this to remind people that God loves them and want to be in a relationship with them.”   Her face was full of contempt and she said with disgust, “Oh! Yeah I guess so,” and motioned to me to get going as if I were a bad smell she didn’t like.

A television producer of a secular reporting show approached a well known media priest asking for help putting together a show which would investigate, “why so many priests are depressed.”  A few young men told his parish community that they were seriously thinking about becoming priests.  Some of the people were horrified at the idea and tried to talk them out of it telling them that priesthood is “sad and lonely existence” and that it is a “negative and unsatisfying life.”

With all the negative anti-catholic anti-priest press lately, a picture has been painted of priesthood that would assume it is a sad and lonely life that would attract psychologically unhealthy men.

Not long ago priesthood was thought of as a noble choice for a young man, one that require great manly virility, strength, practice of heroic virtue, something not for the faint hearted or weak kneed, but a privileged calling.  Although many were called, few were chosen.  Only a select few of upright conscience and keen faith could answer this lofty vocation.  Many parents and communities were proud to have their sons’ moral fiber cut of the clerical cloth.  It meant they were doing a good job as parents. It meant that a parish was fruitful in faith, and that a people was producing men of outstanding character.
Living in the UK and traveling many European countries for the past three years, I cannot count the times I have been sneered at, scoffed, or how many parents have sought to protect their children from me as I walked by, as if I were some kind of monster.  The public sector paints a dreary picture of priesthood.  As if it were a dying race of disillusioned, stale-hearted, dysfunctional men, who must be disturbed to continue in such a foul profession.

YET…despite all this.
-There has been a 16% increase in vocations since 1995, a 10% increase since 2005.  In this diocese of Corpus Christi the number of men studying for the priesthood has increased by 20% in the past few years alone.
-A study that involved 36 diocese and over 3700 priests in 2004 and 2009, in the wake of the scandals that rocked the priesthood actually asked priests, “Are you happy?”  The results were staggering. 
-92.5% of all priests were very happy with the decision to become a priest. Out of average Americans, only 45% could say the same. 
-90% of all priests reported fulfilling relationships and satisfying friendships with other priests and laity. 
-75% found celibacy to be a positive part of their lives, which goes against the deception of dissent or dissatisfaction by the media. 
-Despite the hype of bishops not siding with priests in investigations, over 75% said they enjoyed a good relationship with their diocesan bishop.-The psychological well being of priests scored very high and priests are scored a higher well being than most Americans
Let’s keep in mind here, what is meant by happiness is a clinical, psychological, and objective well being of person.  Particularly what is called a Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) which measures depression, anxiety, and distress caused by bodily dysfunction, which is a "highly sensitive screen for psychiatric disorders and psychological integration.”

I remember taking a very extensive psychological test called the MMPI, shortly before my profession of perpetual celibacy.  The psychiatrist who interviewed me, was looking at the results and her face had a surprised look on it and she had a funny smile.  For a moment, I was sure she was going to say, “Yep, it is just as we thought, you are totally nuts!” Actually she said, “Wow, I don’t know if I have ever come across anyone who is as happy as you are!”  I knew I was happy being a celibate, religious missionary, but no idea that I was measurably psychologically happy in my own skin.

But why are priests so happy?

The reasons priests gave, had to do with their spiritual lives:
-“The strongest predictor of priestly happiness was the priest's own sense of inner peace.” 
-“The research confirmed the importance of a number of traditional aspects to the spiritual lives of priests such as devotion to Mary, theological and spiritual reading, private prayer, Sacrament of Penance, Liturgy of the Hours, obedience to religious authority, and attending priest gatherings. All of these common elements of priestly spirituality correlated significantly with a priest's relationship to God. In addition, one of the most common comments made by priests was the centrality of the Eucharist and other sacraments in their lives.”
Theologically, the reason priests are so happy could be said this way…

On the night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread, broke it, gave it to His disciples and said, “Take this all of you and eat of it, for this is my body.”  

Who was He speaking to, primarily?  First and foremost, the Lord Jesus was speaking to God the Father.  It was the Father who received the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus as a sacrifice.  The Sacrifice of the Eucharist and the mystery of suffering that this inaugurated, was primarily a gift of expiation to God.  Secondly, He was offering His Body and Blood to the Church, that it could be fed by His Love.

When the priest says these very same words of Jesus, he is speaking in Persona Christi. The priest is offering again to the Father that same sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus, and once again, offering the Eucharist to nourish and build up the Church, so that the faithful may be given, “a foretaste of heaven, a pledge of future glory.”

HOWEVER!!!!!  The priest is not only speaking in Persona Christi.  Although he speaks primarily in the Person of Christ, he is ALSO speaking secondarily in persona sui, in his own person - he himself, as a man, as a human being is also speaking these words and offering NOT ONLY the Body of Christ to the Father.  He offers his very own body to God.  In that sacred moment, Jesus Christ joins the manhood of the priest to His own Sacred Manhood and offers them both totally to the Eternal Father.

So, what happens when you offer your own body to God, to pure Love itself?  What happens when you gift your entire being, your heart of hearts, all your fears, hopes, joys, anxieties, all your time, energy, emotions, thoughts, all your life, your body, your all, your soul, and humanity?  FREEDOM!!!!

The deepest urge, the most powerful longing, the most consuming hunger in the depths of our humanity is FOR GOD!  A sign of this, an expression of this desire is felt as the desire for sexual union with the Other.  Celibacy is a very potent sign that the deepest longing we have is God almighty.  As St Augustine said, “our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O God!”

This is something that celibacy teaches married life, or as J.R.R. Tolkein told his son in a letter

The breviary that the priest prays is said to be “the extension of the Eucharistic Sacrifice” (CCC 1178) throughout the day.  So the priest not only offers himself to God once a week but through daily Mass, daily Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, praying the Liturgy of Hours, the daily Rosary, and other spiritual practices - he offers his body to God many times a day. 

Also, like the Lord Jesus, the priest doesn’t just say the words of consecration to God, he is also saying them to a particular group of people, who actually hear him say the words.  He says to the people, “This is my body, this is my heart, my time, my attention, my thoughts, my feelings - this is my life offered for you, People of God!” The Eucharist brings about for the priest a very deep bond with the people, and makes for very deep and meaningful relationships.

I remember my first year of priesthood, as I would lay my head down on my pillow at night amazed at the sheer depth and richness of emotional content, the vast spectrum of meaningful exchanges I had in just one day was overwhelming.  I felt as if I was experiencing the depth and quality of significant experiences in one day that the average man would have in a month.

This is why studies show that most priests report that they have a high quality of happy and meaningful human relationships, because the Eucharist and the faith community that it generates is a kind of super-charged love fest, where the human heart can love and be loved intensely on a daily basis.  This kind of happy life is extremely attractive.

Last week I attended the ordination of seven deacons and visited a Major Seminary.  I can assure you that these men are not only good candidates for priesthood, but they are also some of the greatest men I have ever met.  They are the cream of the crop, the best of the best, they were great achievers in professional world yet exuded humility with a gentle and upbuilding sense of humor, creative, athletic, virile, strong yet sensitive, extremely well balanced, well rounded, thoughtful, eager to encounter good in everything, to find beauty everywhere, and most important - of keen moral conscience - they were very pure-hearted.  And all of them were there because of their personal and living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist.

It is clear that some of the greatest men of our time are being attracted to the Sacred Priesthood.  Here I am not talking just about the stories of professional baseball, football, soccer players, or great scientists, lawyers, doctors, or college professors who are now being attracted to the priesthood.  I am speaking about men who live very holy and self-sacrificial lives - living saints - the greatest men of our time.

What is interesting here is to see this pattern statistically.  The studies of why priests are happy show that the same pattern of those great men who became priests in the World War II era, whom the author of this study calls, “spiritual grandfathers” of the young men today.  They have the same scores psychologically and emotionally, but also the same kind of reasons why they are so happy - traditional devotions and practices that help center a man’s life on the Eucharistic Jesus.

The 60’s, 70’s, 80’s were a kind of dark age in the Church, reflected in the psychological dip in well being of priests, lessening of satisfaction with the priesthood, and dip in priestly vocations.  It appears that the past twenty years have been marked by coming out of this darkness.

So Church of God, if we are now experiencing a renewal in the Sacred Priesthood, what should that say to you?

Get off the defensive.  Stop thinking of the Church as dying, or weak, or somehow so sad and pathetic.  Stop listening to the loud minority of lying mouths that tell us we should be cowering like a bunch of fearful old fools.

Start listening to the Holy Spirit, who teaches us as Pope Emeritus Benedict taught us that, “The Church is alive!  The Church is Young!”

Listen to our holy father, Pope Francis, who is also telling us to get off the defensive.  Get on the offensive to claim this world for Jesus Christ. Pope Francis has said, 

“We should stop thinking that being Catholic is defending a position….The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow…The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful. It needs nearness, proximity…The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.”

Pope Francis’ reform of the Church could be said in one simple phrase:



Get rid of the hypocrisy.  Get rid of all the fluff. Focus on what is essential. Focus on Jesus in the Eucharist and the rest will take care of itself.

I dare say a happy priest is a very clear proclamation of this.

A happy Catholic says this without even opening his mouth.  He radiates the Church’s warmth.  He reveals that the Church is a hospital for the sick, a home for the poor, God’s response to the needy, the consolation of the afflicted and the afflicter of the comfortable in self-satisfaction.  A happy Catholic reveals that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ is God’s response to all this modern world’s aches and pains, the solution to the greed that has destroyed our economy, the ordering of society’s mess, the peace for which the people of our time are desperately seeking.

How to become a happy Catholic?

Simply follow the same thing that makes a happy priest.

Frequent. Intense. Contact. With Jesus in the Eucharist.

Practically speaking this is very easy here at Our Lady of Guadalupe.

1.  Mass 
Sunday - God gave you 7 days and only asks for 1
God gave you 168 hours and only asks for 1
If the source of happiness is here, why just once a week, why not once a day?

2. Eucharistic Adoration
There is Eucharistic Adoration from Tuesday to 9am - 6pm and every First Friday 7-8pm.
Effects of Eucharistic Adoration:
1.  Increased Mass attendance and Confessions.
2.  Increase in priestly and religious vocations.
3.  The return of fallen-away Catholics and conversions to the faith.
4.  "Personal sanctification and the sanctification of all Catholic action." (Pope Pius XII)
5.  Marriages restored.
6.  Greater unity.
7.  Inner peace.
8.  Decrease of crime rate in local neighborhood.
9.  Building up of a Gospel Culture

3.  Frequent Confession - How often do you need to clean up your body, once a year.
Clean up your soul at least once a month. 

4.  Make the Church the center of your family and social life
-The community center that Fr James built here?  What is it for? So that the Eucharist becomes the center of the local community. The basketball court, the playground, the stage with the little booths for fiestas?  So that faith is put back in the center of our lives. This is how it used to be. It is the beginning of a happy community life, a happy family life, a happy marriage.  When God is number 1 everything else falls into place.

5.  Go out and invite more to become happy

Finally, a priest, a catholic, a community, are not happy if they are closed in on themselves. We must be an inviting community - to share the Good News with everyone we meet. We become a proclamation of joy.

May Our Lady of Guadalupe help us to become truly happy by becoming totally centered on her beloved Son the in the Most Holy Eucharist.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Feeding Pet Temptations? Taste Victory Instead in the Most Holy Eucharist

The Lord your God shall you serve. Worship Him alone.

Today is the First Sunday of Lent.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening click here.

Mass Readings for today.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Homily at Latin Mass for St Valentine, Who Teaches us the Love of God

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening to the homily click here.

During the persecution under Emperor Claudius II, Valentine, a zealous priest in Rome, ministered boldly to the martyr. He was arrested and taken before the prefect, who made tempting offers to induce him to apostatize. Finding that he was wasting his breath, the prefect condemned Valentine to death. The beheading took place on February 14, about the year 270. The true follower of Christ ignores worldly caution when he is called upon to bear witness to Jesus. "The inclination of the flesh is death, but the inclination of the spirit, life and peace" (Rom. 8:6)


O Almighty God, today we are celebrating the birthday of Your blessed Martyr Valentine. Hear his prayers and rescue us from all the dangers that threaten us. Through Our Lord . . .


O Lord, graciously accept the gifts we offer You, and let them help us in our salvation through the merits of Your blessed Martyr Valentine. Through Our Lord . . .


  May this heavenly Sacrament bring us health of soul and body, O Lord, and may the intercession of the blessed Martyr Valentine make us feel the power of the Sacred Rite which we have celebrated. Through Our Lord . . .

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jesus in the Eucharist is the One and Only Completion of Each Human Heart

All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”

Like a monstrance was made for the Host,
Each heart was made for the Eucharist,
to first receive, and then to give Him to the world.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Gazing at Mary through the Eyes of Baby Jesus

“Where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and see.”

My homily for the Saturday before Epiphany:

If you have trouble listening click here.

Children, let no one deceive you. 
The person who acts in righteousness is righteous,
just as he is righteous. 
Whoever sins belongs to the Devil,
because the Devil has sinned from the beginning. 
Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the Devil. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

HOMILY for the Holy Family: Society has an Auto-Immune Disease Which Attacks the Healthy Cells- the Family

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience

Here is my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

This account was taken from the Morning Sun, March 25, 2013:

On a normal day, Jennifer Digmann goes to class and Dan Digmann goes to work at his job at a University communications office. 
Though both have been diagnosed with different forms of multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects nerve cell communication, they don’t let their diagnoses control their lives. 
Jennifer, now 38, was diagnosed when she was 23 and Dan, now 40, was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS at the age of 27. 
Jennifer, diagnosed with secondary-progressive MS, relies on a wheelchair to get around. 
Because the disease affects each differently, Dan said he is often stricken with numbness in his hands and feet, and general fatigue. 
Jennifer said she lost the ability to walk five years after her diagnosis.

Through it all, Jennifer said she does not have a lot to complain about.
“I always say, other than MS, I’m quite healthy,” Jennifer smiled. 
Because MS is a degenerative disease, the two focus on a day at a time.

Jennifer said she’s cautiously optimistic about the future of the two. 
“When it started to get serious, thinking about it, you’re just like, ‘How would two people with MS function as a married couple?’” Dan said. 
Though each day is unpredictable, they consider themselves to be blessed. They still have each other.
Jennifer and Dan Digmann believed the words when they spoke them on their wedding day, “In sickness and in health.”
Multiple sclerosis is what is called, an auto-immune disease.  An auto-immune disease is a disease where the immune system turns against the body.  Normally the immune system attacks threats against the body, but in an auto-immune disease, like Multiple Sclerosis, the immune system becomes convinced that the good cells are threats and starts to attack them.
We could say that Multiple Sclerosis is a kind of parable for the way family life is now within society.
Pope Francis said in his Apostolic Exhortation, the Gospel of Joy, Evangelii Gaudium (66-67),
“The family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. 
“The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious. 
“Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensible contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple. 
“The individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which weakens the development and stability of personal relationships and distorts family bonds.”
The family is the cell of the body of society.  Society of late seems to think that the traditional one-man, one-woman family that would stay together, to have and to hold, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part - is evil.
In a society that is fundamentally based on the fulfillment of one’s own personal happiness, any kind of threat to one’s own egotistical ends is seen as a threat, an evil, a disease.
Society today has an auto-immune disease.  Egotism has turned us in against ourselves.  We are our own worst enemy.  
The Church teaches not its own doctrine but merely re-echoes the very teaching of Christ. The Church is merely the instrument, the voice of Jesus, in today’s world.
What is Jesus teaching?
That the nature of man, like the human body, is not something we can redefine at whim.  We can no more decide the composition of the family the way we can not decide the composition of the human body.  We cannot redefine white or red blood cells, organs, nervous or gastric systems of the body, we can only accept the nature we have been given and take good care of it, keeping it in good health.
What does this mean?  It means that marriage and family life, like the human body can also be sick.
We are sick. Society is sick right now.  No matter how far and how deep this sickness is, even if it is an epidemic, we can never settle for the sickness, deny it’s existence, or just pretend it is not there and hope it will just go away.  We cannot stop being prescriptive of what a healthy family is.  We can’t stop teaching our children what healthy marriages and families look like, we cannot stop passing laws that protect healthy marriage and family life, we cannot change our nature.
The auto-immune disease that calls traditional family life as evil and says it is a good that you can redefine family life to whatever you want to be shows itself in a persecution of families, an attack on healthy cells of society.
Upholding family as a gift, a way of living, a way in which most disciples, most believers find themselves as their way of following Christ and growing in Christian faith, hope, and love, is seen as a disease on society, and so a persecution begins to try to destroy the traditional family as a one-woman, one-man, life-long, mutual, exclusive, unbreakable and irrevocable covenant.
Well there is the bad news.
What is the good news?
The holy family - Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  The good news is that although the human family is a broken family, God became a member of it.  God became a baby to a mother and a father.  God was a son who had to tidy his room, obey his mummy and listen to his father.  He had to be served and taught by a mum and a dad.
It is also the good news that this family faced every kind of struggle, attack, weakness, pain, sorrow, suffering that most families face.
Mary was tempted to not conceive Jesus, or at least was given the choice to contracept him by not conceiving him.  She would have had to face being an unwed mother.
Joseph was tempted to divorce Mary, being tempted to think of her, the Immaculate Virgin Mary, as being unfaithful - facing down the other possibilities of jealous retaliation, overcoming thought of her as adulterous.
Joseph had to face the decision to adopt Jesus and bring him up has his own boy.  When he found out that an evil king wanted to kill him, he never said to Mary, “Your kid is too much of a problem for us.”  He simply manned up and faced down the threat decided to protect Mary and the child, confirming his fatherhood and manhood as a protector and provider.
He had to make the difficult decision to move his family to a foreign land, where they would be refugees, not speak the language, would experience the hatred and racism of the Egyptians for the Hebrews, therefore also facing unemployment, poverty, hunger, worry, having to make difficult financial decisions.
Then Joseph and Jesus had to work very hard, every day.  They were laborers.  They sweat, they bleed, they got weary and tired.
When Jesus was young Joseph got old and died.  They had to face infirmity, death, and bereavement.

Jesus also had to obey elderly parents.  I love the first reading.  God seems to know how difficult elderly parents can be.  It seems like they become like little children in many ways.  It is almost as if he wants us to experience some measure of what they did for us.  In the first reading for today we read:
“My son, support your father in his old age,  do not grieve him during his life.Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy,  do not despise him in your health and strength;for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten  but will serve as reparation for your sins.”
When people get very old, it is like they recede to being like children again.  This is the cycle of life.  
If our parents had to be with us when we were impetuous, irritable, irrational, why could we not do it for them?  They had to feed us, why would we think twice of feeding them in their old age?  They had to change our diapers, why if they become incontinent, would we think it above ourselves to do the same for them?  What? We can’t handle them being difficult?  Forget not how difficult you had been in your life and repay the favour. 
The other thing we learn from the holy family is trust.
Mary had to trust Joseph.  Imagine if your husband woke up and said, “Right we have to go face hardship in a foreign land because an angel appeared to me in a dream saying so.”  The angel didn’t appear to Mary at that time.  At certain times wisdom and grace was given to one and not given to the other.  God did this in the holy family and he does this in our families to teach us to trust and obey one another, to learn to rely not on ourselves but first on God and on one another.
This is the good news.  This is the Gospel for today. 
“Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.”
It is basically the new commandment of Jesus, “LOVE ONE ANOTHER,” except in the dimension of family life you can substitute all the things that love means, Listen to one another. Obey one another. Trust one another. Serve one another.
In short the good news of family life is:
Prayer - family prayer, constant prayer, faithful and fervent prayer 
Obedience - to God’s plan and to each other 
Trust - of God and through God of each other, even negatively though sin 
Service - of God and each other. 
Observance of the Sabbath Rest
I would love to tell you that this is the easy answer.  It is not.  It is certainly simple, but just because it is simple, doesn’t mean it is easy.  It is very difficult.  

Lets go back to our couple with Multiple Sclerosis.  Not all couples were like Jennifer and David.  Here are a few others.

These are actual stories taken from MS and Marriage
I've had ms for so long I can't even remember. When I was first told I had it I was happy I wasn't dying. My husband thought otherwise. He left me. I had 3 small boy's. He just took off and left me with no money. I went back to school raised 3 wonderful boys that I am so proud of. Nobody can understand why he left. My boy's are drop dead handsome, and I actually won a beauty contest after I colored my hair blonde. So HA HA to him!!! 
Diagnosed with MS in 1996. Since the diagnosis the relationship with my husband is better than ever. He is my loving caretaker and because of that am able to work full-time. Our faith in Jesus Christ and love for each other has grown through the years and for that am very thankful. Recently broke my fibula from falling, but due to MS caused numbness have little pain in the ankle. Am very thankful for this. God works all things together for good. 
Husband has ms. He's now not working and on disability. He does what he can. I am 41. He's 43. He can still walk poorly with walker. Can help with kids homework. He doesn't help in household- could but doesn't. He's not depressed thAnk god- but I am. I feel resentful and then sorry for him. Grateful every day I don't have MS cuz I doubt he'd stick around. Live with blinders on and denial. Could always be worse.. Grateful he's still alive and doesn't have something worse! I get angry he can't even stop and get me milk - can't walk or no energy.. Then I think - what if it was me.. ? Life's hard but could always be worse.. I try to live in the minute - not future
The truth about family life is that it is not easy.  It isn’t so black and white.  The plan for the family given to us by God is rather simple.  Love, obey, trust, serve one another.  But that does not mean it is easy.

Sometimes it breaks down.  When this happens, we have to be very careful as a parish community, as a Church to walk not further, but closer to those families, “most in need of God’s mercy.”

We have to walk closer to divorcees, single mothers, the bereaved, the sick, the poor, the unemployed, those facing issues like infertility, infidelity and adultery.

On the other hand, this doesn’t mean we stop proclaiming God’s plan for the family in all its fullness, with all clarity and beauty of a one-man, one-woman, fruitful communion that is open to life, mutually exclusive, that is an irrevocable covenant.  For this is the cell of the body of society.

On a final note, perhaps the greatest indication of just how sick our society is, is the fact that the most vulnerable, the tiniest, the unborn, are threatened every day by laws that permit mothers to take the lives of their children by aborting them.  Unless we are working hard to stop this sin, we are at fault and contribute to the sickness.  Let's get healthy.  Now.

May the prayers and love of the Holy Family help all families to try to grow in faith, hope, and charity, of mutual prayer, trust, obedience, and service.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stop Combing the Fleece of the 1 and Go Seek Out the Lost 99

"Console my people, console them says your God."

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

This is what Pope Francis said to pastoral workers and priests of the diocese of Rome about today's Gospel

I want to tell you something. There is a beautiful passage of the Gospel which tells us about the shepherd who, when he returned to the sheepfold realized that one sheep was missing. He left the 99 others and went in search of it, he went off to look for one. But brothers and sisters, we have one sheep. We have lost the other 99! We must go out, we must go out to them! In this culture — let us tell the truth — we only have one, we are a minority! And do we feel the fervour, the apostolic zeal to go out and find the other 99? This is an enormous responsibility and we must ask the Lord for the grace of generosity, and the courage and patience to go out, to go out and preach the Gospel. Ah, this is difficult. It is easier to stay at home, with that one sheep! It is easier with that sheep to comb its fleece, to stroke it... but we priests and you Christians too, everyone: the Lord wants us to be shepherds, he does not want us to fuss with combing fleeces! Shepherds! And when a community is withdrawn, always among the same people who speak, this community is not a life-giving community. It is barren, it is not fertile. The fecundity of the Gospel comes through the grace of Jesus Christ, but through us, our preaching, our courage, our patience.