December 2, 2012 – FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

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December 2, 2012

“Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

          Jesus Christ, as Divine Head of the Catholic Church, has inspired the visible head of his Church, Pope Benedict XVI to proclaim the Year of Faith.  It began on October 11, 2012, the 50th Anniversary of  the beginning of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), as well as the 20th Anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

     The Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” ( Porta Fidei 6).  It is an opportunity for Catholics to pray for a deepening conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ and to pray for the conversion of hardened and violent sinners who have lost true faith in the God of life and eternal salvation.

     The Year of Faith will inspire and challenge us to put God’s priorities, his warm love and illuminating truth, before all else in order that we might fulfill his plan of redemption found perfectly in Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe.  The closing of the Year of Faith will be November 24, 2013 on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

     Our beloved Pope, Benedict XVI, wrote an Apostolic Letter entitled Porta Fidei which is Latin for “The door of faith” which is a reference to the Book of the Acts of the Apostles found in the New Testament to indicate the Holy Spirit’s call to live deeply this Year of Faith.

“The ‘door of faith’ (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church.  It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace.  To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime.  It begins with baptism (cf. Rom. 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn. 17:22).  To profess faith in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is to believe in one God who is love.”

     In order to take advantage of the Lord’s favors during this Year of Faith, the members of our Parish Pastoral Council support this year’s mission statement: “Family and Friends Fully Alive in Jesus Christ.”  They will advise me and explore with me ways to help increase the growth of faith and membership of our faith community.  We have looked at what contributes to the growth of faith individually and communally, and in searching Sacred Scripture and hearing about the lives of the Saints, we believe that there are 5 Essential Responses that we need to continue to understand, promote and live more deeply:

  1. Daily Prayer: (Individual and family) To listen and speak to God and one another in love.
  2. Weekly Worship: To gather as a community to celebrate the Word of God and his Sacraments.
  3. Christian Service: To serve the dignity of every human being in the light of faith and salvation.
  4. Discipleship: To regularly study the faith as a student follower of Jesus and his Catholic Church.
  5. Welcoming and Evangelization (W/E): To ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in sharing our faith and life with family, friends and others around us.

     The Year of Faith corresponds with our St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese effort to enliven the faith through the Rediscover initiative.  All those who are interested to learn more are invited to an inspirational gathering at theCrusaderCivicCenter on Tuesday, December 4 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM. 

Peace in the Lord Jesus Christ,

-Fr. Thomas McCabe

November 25, 2012 – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

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November 25, 2012 

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe 

“Everyone who belongs to the truth

listens to my voice.”

  In the month of November we remember the many blessings God has given to us.  We give God thanks and seek to help those who are poor materially by giving to our local food shelf.  We also help those who are poor spiritually by praying for the “poor souls in purgatory”.  Although we are called to give of ourselves and our talents completely to God for the salvation of souls, only some will love God perfectly to give everything and even die as martyrs and thus be brought immediately to heaven.

  The majority of us will have to be purified in purgatory after our death because of our attachment to earthly things at the expense of our relationship to Jesus Christ and those who are materially or spiritually poor.

   The Catechism of the Catholic Church (par. #1030) states: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven.”

     “The Church gives the name ‘Purgatory’ to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned …As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is purifying fire.  He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. (Mt 12, 32)  From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.”  (Cat. #1031)

   Fortunately, those who follow Christ on earth can help the suffering faithful who are in purgatory.  The following is a Summary of Norms for Gaining Indulgences for the poor souls in Purgatory or for oneself (Pope Paul VI, Jan. 1967).  A plenary indulgence is a complete release from the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven (as far as their guilt is concerned, assuredly through the Sacrament of Confession).  A partial indulgence is always gained when this is practiced imperfectly or incompletely.

   Conditions for a plenary indulgence: A) One must be baptized and in the state of grace. B) One must receive Holy Communion each time a plenary indulgence is sought. C) One must go to Confession within a two week period.   A single sacramental confession suffices for gaining one plenary indulgence each day for that two week period (*starting with a good confession is recommended).  D) One must have a disposition of mind and heart which totally excludes all attachment to sin, even venial sin (this is the most challenging part), otherwise he can gain only a partial indulgence. E) One must pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, the Pope, preferably one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary,” however, any other pious prayer may be substituted.  F) One must have a least a general intention to gain a plenary indulgence.  G) One must also fulfill one of the following suggested spiritual works: At least a half hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; or a family or group Rosary; a private Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament; a half hour of pious reading of the Sacred Scripture (Bible); walking the Stations of the Cross in a church or with a properly erected display.

   You can apply this indulgence to yourself or to someone who has died.  Also, ask that person to pray for you and your intentions.  In this manner we share in the mercy of Christ who is Lord of the living and the dead.  Let us recall what Jesus said to St. Peter, our first Pope, when he gave him the keys to theKingdomofHeaven, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will loosed in Heaven.” Mt 16, 19.

Peace in Christ the King and Divine Head of the Catholic Church,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

November 18, 2012 – November 18, 2012

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November 18, 2012

 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 “Heaven and earth will pass away,

but my words will not pass away.”

 

                Pope Paul VI wrote about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  He refers to the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 6, which talks about Jesus’ mission given to the Twelve.  “He said to them, …’Whatever place that does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.’  So they went off and preached repentance.  They …anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” (Mk.6:6b-13)

                Jesus’ ministry continues today because his words have a lasting power which the Church receives and embodies in faith.  In the early Church, about 30 years after Jesus was crucified, St. James wrote: “Is anyone among you sick?  He should summon the priests of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up.  If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:13-16)

                The “General Introduction” of the ritual and prayers of this sacrament sheds light upon this divine gift.  “In the anointing of the sick, which includes the prayer of faith, faith itself is manifested.  Above all, faith must be made actual both in the minister of the sacrament and, even more importantly, in the recipient. The sick person will be saved by personal faith and the faith of the Church, which looks back to the death and resurrection of Christ, the source of the sacrament’s power and looks ahead to the future kingdom that is pledged in the sacraments.” (Par. 7)

                “…Great care and concern should be taken to see that those of the faithful whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age receive this sacrament.”  “A sick person may be anointed before surgery whenever a serious illness is the reason for the surgery. (Par. 10)   “Elderly people may be anointed if they have become notably weakened, even though no serious illness is present.” (Par. 11) “Sick children are to be anointed if they have sufficient use of reason to be strengthened by this sacrament.  In a case of doubt…, the sacrament is to be conferred.” (Para. 12) “When a priest has been called to attend those who are already dead, he should not administer the sacrament of anointing.  Instead he should pray for them.  …But if the priest is doubtful…he should confer the sacrament, using the rite given in No. 269.  The anointing of the sick is not to be conferred on anyone who remains obdurately in open and serious sin.” (Par. 15)

                “For special cases, when sudden illness or some other cause has unexpectedly placed one of the faithful in proximate danger of death, a continuous rite is provided by which the sick person may be given the sacrament of penance, anointing, and the Eucharist as viaticum in a single celebration.

                If death is imminent and there is not enough time to celebrate the three sacraments in the manner already described, the sick person should be given an opportunity to make a sacramental confession, even if it has to be a generic confession.  After this the person should be given viaticum, since all the faithful are bound to receive this sacrament if they are in danger of death.  Then, if there is sufficient time, the sick person should be anointed.  The sick person who, because of the nature of the illness, cannot receive communion should be anointed.” (Par. 30)

                On Wednesday, November 21, I will have confessions from 9:30-10:50 AM, with an Anointing Mass at 11:00 AM at the Villages.

Sincerely,

Fr. McCabe

 

November 11, 2012 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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November 11, 2012 

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 

“For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty has contributed all she had…”

The Widow’s Mite: a story of a person filled with faith and love for God and his mission of  salvation!  We can bless the Lord by giving to hisLivingTemple-the Church-of our time, talent and treasure for the mission of his saving love and truth.  When we bless the Lord, we in turn are blessed by God through his ministers and one another.

     The Widow in today’s gospel points to the trust we should have in Divine Providence.  God will provide for those who give themselves to His plan of salvation.  It is obvious that Jesus commends the Widow in her total reliance on God, despite what some commentators have written.  That is why we also read in the today’s first reading about the widow of Zarephath who trusted the words spoken by God’s prophet Elijah. 

     The widow of Zarephath put her trust in the Lord God and helped feed the prophet her last bit of food, thus opening herself to God’s providential care and blessing.  She was the recipient of God’s blessing and miraculously her jar of flour and jug of oil remained full for herself and her son, and the prophet Elijah who lived nearby her.  In fact, if we read the rest of the story, Elijah seems to have built a little apartment on top of her roof, which was the custom of the time in a compact village of little apartments.

     At one point the widow’s son became deathly ill and the widow gets upset with Elijah because it seems she doubts his God given mission.  Elijah takes the boy who has stopped breathing and revives him back to life with this prayer:  “O Lord, my God, let the life breath return to the body of this child.”  The Lord heard the prayer of Elijah; the life breath returned to the child’s body and he revived…The widow responds, “Now indeed I know that you are a man of God.”  See 1 Kings, 17:17-24.  

     The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about blessings as a sacramental: “Among sacramentals, blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts.  In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father ‘with every spiritual blessing’.  This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.”  CCC #1671

     The widow in today’s Gospel, and the widow from Zarephath found in the Book of Kings both go unnamed.  However, they are not anonymous to God, and their sacrificial giving lives on in the hearts of God’s people everywhere who give themselves over to God and his mission of salvation. 

     Let us give ourselves to God by blessing those who are living, and our deceased loved ones especially during this month of November, by giving of our time, talent and treasure to Jesus who is the Divine Head of the Church.

Blessings upon you and yours,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

 

November 4, 2012 – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

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November 4, 2012 

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time  

“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”                                                                

   The key to entering into the House of God the Father for all eternity is to have the fullness of faith, which is expressed in the love found perfectly in Jesus Christ for his Mother, Mary.

        “Someone asked Jesus, ‘Lord, will only a few people be saved?’  He answered, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.  After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’

    “He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’  And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’  Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you evildoers!’  And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in thekingdomofGodand you yourselves cast out….”  Lk. 13:23-28  

     Thank God we know where we come from!  We know that we come from a father and a mother.  We know the 4th Commandment – “Honor your Father and your Mother” – by living the truth that God is the source of family life, which is the basis of understanding the natural law.  On a supernatural level we also know that God is our Heavenly Father and throughHoly MotherChurch we have been baptized into Jesus Christ and have become adopted members of the family of God.

     As Catholic Christians we have a moral duty to help people understand and live out these two levels of reality.  The first level is the natural law, by which through reason alone we can know that God is the Creator of the basic building block of society – the family – which is made up of one man and one woman married for the potential birthing and educating of children in God’s truth and love. 

     This fundamental respect for God and his natural law allows for divine grace – God’s supernatural life – to build upon our human nature to raise us up to the supernatural destiny that God calls each human being to.  God calls us to be saved through the repentance of our sins and a “striving strongly” to enter through the narrow door of the Father’s House with a love that embraces Jesus and Mary, his Mother.

     Jesus says that some will appeal to the fact that they ate and drank with him at his table, like the table of the Eucharist, but since they did not believe in the basic natural law and refuse to support the self-evident natural law, they find themselves – surprisingly to them – to be locked out of heaven.

     As Catholics and citizens of theUnited States, let us make sure to vote with God’s natural law in mind that leads to the “strong love” of the supernatural law of salvation.  To do any less is to place one’s soul in jeopardy of hearing Jesus say, “I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you evildoers!”  Thank God we make our presence known to God every week as we seek his mercy and live out our baptism into Jesus – the Son of God the Father, and the Son of Mary.

Peace,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

 

October 28, 2012 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 28, 2012

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Priesthood Sunday

National World Youth Day 

“Go your way; your faith has saved you.”

During this month of October, designated as Respect Life month, we want to recognize the beauty of every human life, especially the unborn and the poor.  We                  celebrated the feast day of St. Francis ofAssision October 4. St. Francis had a deep love for God and every person.  He knew that every person had a need for God’s saving grace.  He also knew that God’s order of creation was basically good, but disordered by Original Sin. 

Thus, St. Francis followed Jesus’ life of prayer and penance for the salvation of souls, offering up his trials, praise and sufferings as he grew in holiness.  He understood well that God’s “saving grace” builds on God’s order of creation.  He wrote the following poem, his final one, in the spring of 1224 AD.

Canticle of the Sun                                                                                                                                                                               Most

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.                                                                                                                                           To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.                                                                                                                                                                     Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.                                                                                                                                                     Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful.                                                                                                                                               Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which you give your creatures sustenance.                                                                                                                                 Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.                                                                                                                                               Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.                                                                                                                                                 Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.                                                                                                                                                     Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you;
through those who endure sickness and trial.                                                                                                                                         Happy those who endure in peace,
for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.                                                                                                                                                       Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.                                                                                                                                        Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve him with great humility.

 

May we do our part to acknowledge God’s order of creation, his natural law, and continue to protect and restore this order of creation with the help of God’s supernatural grace found assuredly in Jesus’ seven sacraments.

Peace,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

October 21, 2012 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 21, 2012 

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

WORLDMISSIONSUNDAY

 

“Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” 

 “Jesus came forward and addressed them in these words: ‘Full authority has been given to me…; go, therefore and make disciples of all nations.  Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.  And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” (Gospel of Matthew, 28:18-20)

     This last statement of Jesus at the very end of the Gospel of St. Matthew is the beginning of our call to receive God’s love given to us through Jesus in his Church beginning with Baptism.  We are then called to return God’s love by worshipping him in the Sacraments and serving others for His glory – that is our mission. 

     The late Pope John Paul II had reminded us that every Catholic has the “privilege”, “grace” and “obligation” to take part in the global effort for evangelization.  Through our prayers, our personal and financial sacrifices, through the Propagation of the Faith, we affect the lives and faith of people throughout the world.

Fact: St. Therese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower” who is depicted in our statue in the back of church, never went to the “missions” but she offered up her crosses to God, both physical and psychological, in order to obtain blessings of faith for those who did not know Christ.  She is the patroness of the missions, with St. Francis Xavier as patron.

Fact: Catholics now number about 1.3 billion people, about 19% of the world’s population.  To reach the other 7 billion with the Good News of Jesus Christ – the one Savior of the world- the missionary task must be a shared responsibility by each one of us.

Fact: The Propagation of the Faith was founded 189 years ago.  Its first support in 1822 was divided equally for missions inChina and the young Church here in theUnited States (Louisiana andKentucky).

     Your contribution to World Mission Sunday, this weekend of October 20 and 21 is helping the Propagation of the Faith – the Church’s central means and organization of support for the missions – to proclaim the love, compassion and truth of Jesus’ saving grace found in the sacraments.  The Word of God became flesh in the womb of Mary and made his dwelling among us.  The Son of God is now the son of Mary made flesh in the Eucharist to sustain life and bring eternal life to all those who believe, “And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” Mt 28:20.

     As baptized disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ and his Church, let us rejoice in this call to know God’s infinite love and salvation in Jesus Christ, and pass on the Good News by serving others – for this is the call of evangelization.

Peace,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

October 14, 2012 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 14, 2012 

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  In today’s Gospel, the young man asks this most essential question of Jesus.  Everyone should ask and then humbly accept Jesus’ answer if they are at the age of reason (7years):  “You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.” 

     We should know God’s Ten Commandments and meditate upon them, asking God for the grace that all our family members and members of the human family would follow them.  This would bring lasting peace, happiness and harmony into the world until that perfect peace arrives on Judgment Day for those who are truly following Jesus and his Ten Commandments.

    For those who have memorized God’s Ten Commandments of life and love, we realize that Jesus does not repeat them in the exact order found in the Old Testament.  Why?  It seems Jesus does this in order to show the young man that he must deepen his faith in God by being detached from everything and helping the poor.    Jesus looked at him with love and said, “You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 

     It is also obvious that Jesus leaves out the first three commandments which deal directly with our relationship to God.  “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before; Do not take God’s name in vain; Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.”  These definitely remind us to pray to God daily and to worship him on the weekend Sabbath at Mass…But it must be done with true hearts for the glory of God, not just to attain wealth and well-being!  We must be able to sacrifice for God and participate in the saving mission of divine truth, love and everlasting life!    

    Jesus calls each of us to trust God the Father and follow him into service of providing for and protecting the most vulnerable among us – the unborn babies and the poor.  Jesus assures us that the banquet hall of God’s kingdom will be accessible to those with a humble and grateful heart, for the feast is none other than divine love that has become our food – Jesus Christ in the Eucharist!  We are to dress up in our Sunday best, but most importantly we are to dress interiorly our soul with a contrite heart (Lord have mercy: Kyrie eleison) by praying and living acts of contrition, faith, hope and love.

     I say these prayers as my daily devotion apart from the prayers that I pray in my Divine Office as a priest.  I hope they will profit your journey into the feast of God’s divine love, truth and mercy.  I begin with an examination of conscience, calling to mind my sins with sorrow, and then I pray:

An act of ContritionO my God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart, in choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.  I firmly resolve with the help of your grace to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my live.  Amen.

An act of Faith:  O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I believe that your divine Son became man, died for our sins and will come again to judge the living and the dead.  I believe these and all the truths the Catholic Church teaches, for You have revealed them who can never deceive nor be deceived.  Amen.

 An act of Hope:  O my God, relying on your almighty power, infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain the forgiveness of my sins, the help of your grace and life everlasting through the merits of Jesus Christ my Lord and Redeemer.  Amen.

An act of Love:  O my God, I love you above all things with my whole heart and soul because you are all good and deserving of all my love.  I love my neighbor as myself for love of you.  I forgive all those who have injured me and I beg pardon for all those whom I have injured.  Amen.    

     May God continue to bless this faith community with an abundance of temporal and spiritual gifts for God’s glory and the salvation of souls, especially during this Year of Faith. 

Peace in the Risen Lord,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

 

September 30, 2012 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 30, 2012 

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time 

“For whoever is not against us is for us.

Our Archbishop John Nienstedt is fulfilling his Apostolic Office with great vigor.  At a recent event, youth gathered for catechesis and to worship God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  At the summit of this event was the Holy Mass.  The following are excerpts of his homily that capture some of the energy generated by our youth who are open to the Holy Spirit:

      Welcome youth of the Archdiocese! Welcome members of the Body of Christ! Welcome my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord! Wow! It is awesome to be with you! Hasn’t this been a fantastic day?

     You know, I got the idea for today in Madrid two summers ago. I was there with the World Youth Day pilgrims from the Archdiocese and we had just a wonderful religious experience. But during those ten days, I also vividly remembered being present in St. Peter’s Square for the very first World Youth Day gathering called by Blessed John Paul II in 1984…I arrived on the platform and such dignitaries as Mother Teresa and Cardinal Martini, may they rest in peace, were present on stage. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is a big deal!” Within minutes, the youth from Poland entered the square, carrying the World Youth Day Cross. They handed it off to the youth from Rome, where the next World Youth Day would be held.

     But I also recalled in Madrid…that the Pope wanted World Youth Day to be celebrated every year in the dioceses of the world… So, I came home determined to fulfill that vision and voila! –here we are!  Thank you for being a part of this historic moment…here you are—close to 2,000!

     In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks two questions and gives us a pretty serious challenge. The first question is of a general nature, “Who do people say I am?” It’s a kind of surveying question, “What’s the buzz?”

     But then Jesus gets personal: “But you, who do you say I am?”  Peter, speaking on behalf of the others, gives the penetrating answer of faith, “You are the Christ.” In other words, “You are the Messiah. You come from God. You are the Savior of the world.”

     The difference between these two questions should be an important one for each of us. For it is one thing to know about Jesus—the time when he lived, what he taught, the miracles he performed, the way in which he suffered, died and rose from the dead. All of that is important, yes, but what is so much more essential is that we know Jesus—personally, intimately and directly.

     And that requires that we have an experience of being present to Jesus where we encounter in faith the love and concern that he has for each of us.  After those two questions had been asked and the answers had been given, Jesus poses a demanding challenge: “If you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your Cross and follow!”

     Well, my dear friends, the struggle for religious freedom goes on today and we are indeed going to be a part of it, and at times, with great cost. As followers of Jesus, we will be called upon to combat poverty, injustice and oppression. We must actively defend the rights of conscience and stand up against the secularism, the hedonism and the relativism of our times. We must make bold stands on even the most controversial issues of our day- abortion, marriage, contraception-even when it impacts on our reputation or good name.

     And that’s where today’s second reading is so helpful. James asks us what faith can possibly mean if it does not result in action…Faith in the True and Living God means being willing to make a sacrifice of myself in order to reach out in loving concern to those around me. This is what our faith demands of us and that’s why it is called the Good News!  My dear friends, here at this altar today, Jesus once again offers the total sacrifice of himself to his Father for us. And we are invited to participate in that sacrifice in order to know not just about him, but to know Him and to love Him. And in doing so, we are invited to offer the sacrifice of our own lives with his in a deep personal act of faith. Come, let us follow him!

                                                                 -Peace,  Father Thomas McCabe

 

September 23, 2012 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 23, 2012 

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time  

“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

 What do we believe about God, anyway?  Fortunately we have the gift of divine Wisdom to help us understand that God is the Father and source of all life.  Most especially, we believe that God has directly created you and every human soul with a plan to receive his grace and thus live freely here below and forever with him and all those who believe and live God’s love and truth.

     In today’s Gospel reading Jesus Christ speaks to our hearts of the importance of protecting every human life so that they may grow in God’s grace, love and wisdom.  To make his point he takes a child from among his disciples and places him in their midst and puts his arm around the child and says: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”  Mk. 9:37.  We are blessed by so many parents, teachers and catechists who have received us in the name of Jesus Christ and have taught us the true faith in love.

     Jesus established his Church on St. Peter and the other Apostles and called them to share in his ministry of teaching about God and his Kingdom of truth and love.  We are called to continual learning of our faith and grow in our effectiveness of sharing it with others, with the guidance of the successors of the Apostles, the Pope and the Bishops of today, and the power of true love found in Christ’s community.

50 years ago, October 11th, 1962, the Pope and the Catholic Bishops united to him, opened the Second Vatican II Council with prayer to the Holy Spirit.  The Pope and the Bishops of every nation met inRome,Vatican City, which is the central location of Christ’s Church, to address the concerns of the Church and the world.

     In the opening Message to Humanity, the Council Fathers issued this: “The Fathers of the Council to All Men:  We take great pleasure in sending to all men and nations a message concerning that well-being, love and peace which were brought into the world by Christ Jesus, the Son of the living God, and entrusted to the Church.

     “For this is the reason why, at the direction of the most blessed Pope John XXIII, we successors of the apostles have gathered here, joined in single hearted prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus, and forming one apostolic body headed by the successor of Peter.

     “May the Face of Christ Jesus Shine Out:  In this assembly, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we wish to inquire how we ought to renew ourselves, so that we may be found increasingly faithful to the gospel of Christ.”

     This process of renewal continues in our everyday life as individual Christians and as a Church as the Holy Spirit leads us into new insights and new approaches in living out the natural and supernatural law of God’s love and truth for creation and salvation.  Catholic teachers and catechists help in this mission.

20 years ago October  11, 1992, Pope John Paul II approved and promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is the norm of helping all pastors, teachers and catechists to summarize and systematically pass on the faith.

     The Catechism begins by quoting the Gospel of John, “Father…this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Jn 17:3  It also quotes fromSt. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy 2:3-4:  “God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.”

     As we prepare for the Year of Faith which begins Oct. 11, 2012 to celebrate these two important anniversaries, we want to honor all those teachers and catechists who faithfully taught us about Jesus Christ and his plan of salvation.                                     

Peace,                                                                                                                                

Father Thomas McCabe