Homily for The Day of Pray for the Protection of Unborn Children

Here is my homily from this morning’s Mass. God bless you!

That one sentence from yesterday’s Gospel keeps ringing in my ears, especially on a day like today: “Then they remained silent.”

We Christians cannot remains silent! We are called to be witnesses to the Truth. Witnesses to Life! We must speak out.

On this day some 40 years ago, I was a high school senior and I remember a classmate of mine coming up to me that day and saying, “Bob, did you hear what they have done?” Then I read the headlines on how the Supreme Court legalized abortion in all 50 states and territories. Even then as a high school student I could scarcely believe it. I could have predicted with accuracy the full impact of that decision, but we are seeing that impact in our society today.

Satan is extremely adept at taking something and twisting it in such a way that what is evil sounds very good. He is very good at this, and has been able to insert lies and deceptions into the minds of so many people today to the point where abortion is justified in their minds.

Life is not a commodity that we take from God. It is not a commodity that we are to manage and spend and dispose of in some way. No. Life is a gift to be received from God. We are not to take life out of God’s hands. We are to receive it from his hands and cherish it as a great gift. That is the truth. That is what we are called to witness, to say, to speak openly about to all the world.

Let us this day pray for those whose hearts are hardened and deceived. Let us this day discern how and in what way we may share in the mistaken notions about life that permeate our world. Let us pray for the sacredness of all human life, from conception to natural death.

Amen!

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Homily for Memorial of St. Agnes

Here is my homily from last night’s celebration of the feast of St. Agnes. God bless each of you!

Did you catch that one sentence in tonight’s Gospel that I tried to emphasize? “Then they remained silent.” We, who dare to call ourselves Christian, who say we follow Jesus Christ, must not remain silent. We are called to witness by our words and our lives to the Truth. We are called to give witness to our love for Jesus Christ.

We cannot avoid this calling even in the face of death.

Today, we remember St. Agnes, one of the first martyrs of the Church. She died around the year 257 during one of the persecutions of the Church by the emperor of Rome. She was only about 10 years old. A mere girl, who gave her life in witness to her love for Jesus and the truth of her faith. Can you imagine? A young girl faced with the reality of evil and faithlessness yet courageously and openly gave witness to her love for God and died in maintaining her faith. It would have been so much easier for her, especially at that tender age, to have gone along with her tormentors, to have remained silent and preserved her life. Wouldn’t have we? In all honesty, it would have been very difficult for any of us to have spoken if we were to have been in her place. Our fear would have overtaken us.

But not St. Agnes. She spoke. She did not remain silent.

This is a special day in Rome, for every year at this feast, the Holy Father receives and blesses several young white lambs. The wool from these lambs is then used to weave the fabric of the Pallia that are placed over the shoulders of each archbishop in the world. Agnes means “lamb” in Latin and the word is also derived from a Greek word meaning “pure.”

My friends, let us pray this night that we, like St. Agnes, may have the courage to speak the truth in the face of temptation and evil. Let us pray that we may meet our responsibilities as follower of Christ to give bold witness to him and his Gospel.

Amen.

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Quote for the Day

“Where there is mercy and discernment, there is neither excess nor hardness of heart.” — St. Francis of Assisi

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Pope Francis Defends Family and Marriage

Our Holy Father today spoke in his usual pastoral and eloquent manner in defense of marriage and family. He did so in the Phillipines, where he is making an apostolic visit. The quote below is taken from the blog Whispers in the Loggia who says it is the Vatican’s transcription of the Pope’s actual remarks.

Beware of the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family. It’s not born of the dream that we have from God and prayer – it comes from outside and that’s why I call it a colonization. Let us not lose the freedom to take forward the mission God has given us, the mission of the family. And just as our peoples were able to say in the past “No” to the period of colonization, as families we have to be very wise and strong to say “No” to any attempted ideological colonization that could destroy the family. And to ask the intercession of St Joseph to know when to say “Yes” and when to say “No”….

The pressures on family life today are many. Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality. The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.

I think of Blessed Paul VI in the moment of that challenge of population growth, he had the strength to defend openness to life. He knew the difficulties families experience and that’s why in his encyclical (Humanae Vitae) he expressed compassion for specific cases and he taught professors to be particularly compassionate for particular cases. And he went further, he looked at the people on the earth and he saw that lack (of children) and the problem it could cause families in the future. Paul VI was courageous, a good pastor and he warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching. And from the heavens he blesses us today.

Thank you, Holy Father, for your defense of marriage and family!

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To All Deacons

Brothers in Christ,
 
A colleague of mine from Rome, Bishop Anthony Taylor of the diocese of Little Rock, wrote the following:
 
But [Jesus’] best friend, John, did stay with him all the way to the end. And notice, John was the only apostle who ended up dying later of natural causes. Why? Maybe because he had already experienced a type of martyrdom — spiritual martyrdom — by risking his life to stay with Jesus at the foot of the cross.
 
One of the themes in my own spirituality and in my recent writings has been that a sort of spiritual martyrdom is part and parcel of the diaconal vocation. The early Fathers of the Church spoke of how each Christian, by virtue of their baptisms, were called to be a witness (i.e., martyr). All are called to die for their faith; for most of us a spiritual martyrdom.
 
I want you to know that increasingly I am coming to see how you, in your ministries and in your families, stand by the cross of Christ. Ministry can be difficult. Personalities can be irritating or discouraging. People, even within the Church, can be unforgiving and inconsiderate. The suffering of humanity is always before us as deacons. If it is not, we are not living out our vocations.
 
For deacons, to stay at the foot of the Cross is to remain completely committed to and identified with the People of God, the Church, to remain faithful to them in their need, to never reject the cross as it is experienced in the common man or woman. To stay at the foot of the Cross means we nuture within us the virtues of patience rather than anger, mercy rather than judgment, charity rather than injustice, and chastity rather than selfishness. In a way unlike other vocations, ours is a call to a spiritual martyrdom requiring great virtue, intimate knowledge of the Gospel, and a participation in the Blood of Christ. We are, after all, custodians of the chalice, which we elevate at Mass, and proclaimers and preachers of the Gospel. To suffer this kind of spiritual martyrdom requires we become very intimate with Jesus, as Bishop Taylor tells us.
 
Brother deacons, keep up your fine work. Keep each other in prayer. I pray for you.
 
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Congratulations, Diocese of Grand Island Nebraska!

At noon today, Rome time, the Holy Father appointed Father Joseph G. Hanefeldt bishop of Grand Island, Nebraska succeeding Bishop William J. Dendinger. Father Hanefedlt hails from neighboring Omaha.

Bishop-elect Hanfeldt was born on April 25, 1958 at Creigton, Nebraska. He studied philosophy at St. John Vianney Seminary on the campus of St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota from 1976-1980, then studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome from 1980 through 1984 after which he studied at the Anselmo in Rome attaining his diploma in Sacramental Theology. He was ordained a priest for Omaha on July 14, 1984. He served on various diocesan assignments later becoming Spiritual Director for the North American College in Rome from 2007-2012. Most recently, he was pastor of Christ the King parish in Omaha. He was named Monsignor in 2010.

Congratulations, Diocese of Grand Island!

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the Baptism of the Lord – 2015

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless each of you!

The Baptism of the Lord 2015

The Baptism of the Lord – Cycle B, 2015

Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7; Acts 10: 34-38; Mark 1: 7-11

January 10/11, 2015

Why it is so important to be baptized, so important that Jesus both said as much with his words and did as much by his actions? After all, today we hear that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John.

Of course the answer we all know is that baptism erases original sin from our lives, restores us to friendship with God, gives us grace, and makes us sons and daughters of God and members of his Church. That is very important, and a great gift given to us by God, an immeasurable gift that opens the door of salvation to us. This is perhaps the most important personal reason for us.

But Jesus had no need of forgiveness of sins, for he was sinless, and he had no need to become a son of God for he was from all eternity the Son of God, and he had no need of salvation for he was salvation. By being baptized by John Jesus was showing us something important and it was this: By the grace of our baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit we are to be signs of difference, examples of peace in a world torn by war and terrorism, a people of justice in the presence of poverty and prejudice, a people who stand for life in the culture of death. We are to stand strong and tall and be a witness, a sign from which Satan himself will flee. This is the other reason why baptism is so necessary for all of us, for in that sacrament we are given that power and that responsibility.

When we are baptized, we are made right with God and the world, and God infuses his Holy Spirit and his grace into our very beings. At that moment God calls us to freedom, to light, to justice, to a covenant with him, to a holy relationship which he establishes with us! God said of his Son Jesus and he says to us: Here is my servant whom I uphold! Upon whom I have put my spirit! I have formed you to be a covenant to others, to bring light to all peoples, to bring freedom to the poor! This is the great Christian reality that we all too often forget.

God has anointed us with his Holy Spirit at baptism. Even the Old Testament prophets, as we heard today in our first reading, attest to this anointing, this baptism we all must receive.

O, the glory of God breaks through the gloom and darkness of injustice each and every time a person is baptized, just as the heavens opened at Jesus’ baptism. The Spirit descends and the Father proclaims to each and every person at the moment of their baptism: You are my beloved son (or daughter)! I am well pleased!

Although we see and hear it not, the heavens indeed open and the Spirit descends, and the Father makes his proclamation. Yes, the miracle of divine sonship is extended to everyone at their baptism. God himself was heard that day when Jesus was baptized, but a miracle no less is performed at our baptisms when the deacon pours the water on the head and says these words: I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

God welcomes you into his divine family and you are completely flooded with divine grace, with God’s life and love, and the Holy Spirit enters you and you become a completely different person in God’s eyes. He sees the beauty of the change, even though we don’t. The old person is gone; only the new remains. The old is stripped away.

It is as if God the Father lifts you up, caresses you, and forms you into something very beautiful, very pure, and very innocent. It is as if he sets you up as a light to the nations, and a sign of justice and freedom to those locked in sin and darkness. He sets you up as a shining example for all to see.

This is our baptismal dignity. With such a dignity, I ask you how can we then violate to one another, act unjustly toward one another? If we truly believe that we all have been baptized as brothers and sisters in the family of God, sons and daughters of God, and that the power and authority to proclaim peace and establish justice is poured into us at baptism, how can we violate one another, we who have been inundated by the grace of God, anointed by his Spirit and consecrated to him and to each other? There is so much violence in our world, in our families, in our communities, even within us.

There is a scene in the movie Ben Hur in which Judah Ben Hur is chained to a long line of convicts and marched across the desert. He is dying of thirst. They enter a small village called Nazareth and a man by the name of Jesus tries to give him a drink of water. A centurion kicks the water away from Judah before he can drink, saying, “No water for this man!” Jesus, without saying a word and without lifting a threatening hand, simply stands tall and stares at the centurion in the eye. The centurion is frozen, unable to continue his injustice and sin. Jesus defeated him by his silent witness.

Do you believe that by virtue of your baptism, by the grace you have received and the Holy Spirit who has come down upon you that you too, like Jesus, can stand tall when faced with injustice and war and subdue it? Will you do what Jesus did?

If God loves us so, let us, then, love one another.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Thursday after Epiphany

Here is my homily from this morning’s Mass. God bless each of you!

All this week we have been hearing from the first letter of St. John in our first readings. We hear some very beautiful words, beautiful thoughts, indeed some very beautiful and deep theology. We have heard how he who loves abides in God and God in him. We have heard how God has infused his Spirit within us, and drawn us up into divine life itself. We have heard that we are God’s sons and daughters.

Beautiful words and beautiful thoughts that convey to us a basic Christian reality: That we have been given such great dignity in God’s eyes because of our baptisms. That we share in God’s dignity and life. That each and every person is immeasurably valuable in the sight of God. That each and every person is unimmaginably beautiful and that beauty is seen by God.

My friends, I think that if we could only begin to appreciate more fully this basic Christian reality, then we would begin to treat ourselves and each other very differently. As St. John said today, the way we know we love God is to keep his commandments and the greatest of these is to love one another.

I do not know how we will turn the tide of abortion, euthansia, war, violence and terrorism in the world until we begin to deepen our appreciation for the dignity that is ours, given us by God, by our baptisms. I do not know how we will stop the killing and begin the peace until we meditate on and live out the dignity that has been restored to us by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

May we, this day, as we go about our day, take time to meditate on the underlying message of St. John’s letter, i.e., that God loves us so much that we are, in his eyes, beloved sons and daughters and that each of us, by virtue of our baptisms, has immeasurable and unimmaginable dignity, and that we are called to recognize that dignity in each other. Let us pray today for that grace, the grace of this discernment and understanding.

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Quote for the Day

“My God, make me worthy to grasp your ardent and ineffable love overflowing from the Blessed Trinity and effecting the profound mystery of the holy Incarnation, the source of our salvation.” — Blessed Angela of Foligno, SFO

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Deacons Preach

With all due respect to the writer of a recent article over at  Aletia who states that diaconal preaching is essentially non-liturgical (http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/father-rutler-on-preaching-the-art-of-drawing-the-flock-to-the-sacramental-life-5874308433838080), I must underscore here the importance and indeed I believe the centrality of deacons preaching in liturgical settings.

I often heard in formation that all deacons must preach. Those who have a well-honed skill in doing so should do so often; those who may not have as strongly that skill and ability should do so less often, but preaching is integral to the vocation. Not only does Canon Law permit this (see Canons 764 and 767 #1), and the Catechism addresses it (see #1570), the Sacred Scriptures themselves demonstrate it (see the preaching of the deacons Philip and Lawrence and Stephen).  Finally, the ordination rite of the deacon itself emphasizes the proclamation of the Gospel and witnessing to that Gospel.

Indeed, as I have written about in an article soon to be published in the Josephinum Diaconate Review, an essential aspect of the diaconal vocation is a call to a spiritual martyrdom that results from a deacon’s complete consecration to the preaching of the Gospel. Yes, it is true that preaching the Gospel is inclusive of preaching by example and by works of charity, it preeminently includes the deacon preaching the homily in the liturgical assembly, including the Sunday Mass.

The lived reality of the Church is that deacons preach.  They preach as well as their brother priests for the most part. Yes, there are complaints about the quality of preaching by many, but those complaints lay not exclusively in the laps of the diaconate.  Frankly, the impression I have is most in the pews find diaconal preaching refreshing. That impression is not only mine, but also a respected bishop who I will leave unnamed.

The faculty to preach throughout the world is extended to all deacons by virtue of their ordination, only to be limited by specific directives from a local bishop. These are the same limits placed upon those in the presbytery.

Yes, deacons preach. Yes, deacons, preach the Gospel and give a good homily!

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – 2015

Here is my homily for this week’s Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. God bless each of you!

Solemnity of Mary 2015

Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

December 31, 2014/January 1, 2015

St. Stephen’s Parish

Bentonville, Arkansas

 

Humble and bold. Two words we don’t often associate in our minds. Humble and bold… we find them both in the person of Mary.

The humble virgin Mary, docile to God’s will, God’s word, yet the most bold of all the witnesses of the Word made Flesh, of her Son and Lord, Jesus, and Mother of God: Theotokos.

No, it was not Peter. No, it was not James or John or Paul who was the boldest yet most humble of all the witnesses of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus….. No, it was Mary, the Mother of God, Theotokos, for from her heart came these words: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord! My spirit finds joy in God my savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.

It was Mary who bore the most humble but bold witness to her Son. It was Mary who bore the Word of God in her heart and then conceived that Word in her womb.

Only because of her faith in that Word that came to her, a Word she nurtured in her immaculate heart, was she then able to conceive and bear the Son of God, her creator and Savior, Jesus. Yes, she is the “God-bearer”, Theotokos, in Greek, as the Church Fathers in 431 professed at the Council of Ephesus.

Mary kept close to her heart the Word made Flesh. She said, “Yes.” She said, “Fiat.” She said, “Let it be done to me.” St. Augustine would later write that Mary was more blessed for hearing God’s word and keeping custody of it in her heart than because of the flesh she gave to her divine Son. Since this was true, Mary was able to stand by her Son as he died on the cross, stand by Him without staining her Immaculate Heart. She knew it was by virtue of her faith in God’s Word that she had been able to conceive that Word in her womb, and it was by faith in that Word that she was able to give bold witness to her Son when he gave up his life on the Cross.

She who surpasses all of us in her sanctity and her fidelity, Mary, the Mother of God himself remains like us, a member of the Church, and a member of the Body of Christ her Son, and a witness to her Son’s death and resurrection.

You too are members of the Body of Christ. You also carry God’s Word in your hearts and you are to be witnesses to that Word, to Jesus Christ. Just as St. Augustine spoke of Mary, St. Ambrose spoke of us when he wrote: Blessed are you who have heard and believed; every soul that believes conceives and begets the Word of God. May Mary’s soul be in each of us to glorify the Lord. May the spirit of Mary be within each of us to exalt in God. (Commentary on Luke, CCL 14, 39-42)

My dear people of St. Stephen’s parish, you will be more blessed and find greater dignity in the Word you nourish in your hearts and profess with your lips than in any office you may bear. You are first, and most importantly, members of the Body of Christ. Never separate yourselves from this Body, from the Church! Never separate yourselves!

You cannot become witnesses to Jesus unless you first have welcomed the Word in your hearts, treasured it, nurtured it, obeyed it, followed it, and trusted it. Mary would not have become the Mother of God had she not first accepted and kept the Word of God in her Immaculate Heart. You cannot become witnesses to Jesus if you do not first hold in purity of your heart the Word entrusted to you. Mary could not have endured the passion and death of her Son without cradling in her heart the Word that had come to her. You will not be able to endure the trials and difficulties of life without first knowing and nurturing and loving the Word entrusted to you.

Yes, our lives can be modeled after Mary. A Christian is to give humble yet bold witness to the Gospel. Ours is a vocation of humble service to God and to humanity. It is not about power, but rather bearing witness. May our lives magnify the Lord!

 

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Holy Father’s Christmas Message to the World

As in every year, the Holy Father sends a message “to the City and to the World” (Urbi et Orbi). Here is Pope Francis’ 2014 message.

URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Christmas!

Jesus, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, is born for us, born in Bethlehem of a Virgin, fulfilling the ancient prophecies. The Virgin’s name is Mary, the wife of Joseph.

Humble people, full of hope in the goodness of God, are those who welcome Jesus and recognize him. And so the Holy Spirit enlightened the shepherds of Bethlehem, who hastened to the grotto and adored the Child. Then the Spirit led the elderly and humble couple Simeon and Anna into the temple of Jerusalem, and they recognized in Jesus the Messiah. “My eyes have seen your salvation”, Simeon exclaimed, “the salvation prepared by God in the sight of all peoples” (Lk 2:30).

Yes, brothers and sisters, Jesus is the salvation for every person and for every people!

Today I ask him, the Saviour of the world, to look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria, who for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict, and who, together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution. May Christmas bring them hope, as indeed also to the many displaced persons, exiles and refugees, children, adults and elderly, from this region and from the whole world. May indifference be changed into closeness and rejection into hospitality, so that all who now are suffering may receive the necessary humanitarian help to overcome the rigours of winter, return to their countries and live with dignity. May the Lord open hearts to trust, and may he bestow his peace upon the whole Middle East, beginning with the land blessed by his birth, thereby sustaining the efforts of those committed effectively to dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

May Jesus, Saviour of the world, protect all who suffer in Ukraine, and grant that their beloved land may overcome tensions, conquer hatred and violence, and set out on a new journey of fraternity and reconciliation.

May Christ the Saviour give peace to Nigeria, where [even in these hours] more blood is being shed and too many people are unjustly deprived of their possessions, held as hostages or killed. I invoke peace also on the other parts of the African continent, thinking especially of Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and various regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I beseech all who have political responsibility to commit themselves through dialogue to overcoming differences and to building a lasting, fraternal coexistence.

May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence, made objects of trade and trafficking, or forced to become soldiers; children, so many abused children. May he give comfort to the families of the children killed in Pakistan last week. May he be close to all who suffer from illness, especially the victims of the Ebola epidemic, above all in Liberia, in Sierra Leone and in Guinea. As I thank all who are courageously dedicated to assisting the sick and their family members, I once more make an urgent appeal that the necessary assistance and treatment be provided.

The Child Jesus. My thoughts turn to all those children today who are killed and ill-treated, be they infants killed in the womb, deprived of that generous love of their parents and then buried in the egoism of a culture that does not love life; be they children displaced due to war and persecution, abused and taken advantage of before our very eyes and our complicit silence. I think also of those infants massacred in bomb attacks, also those where the Son of God was born. Even today, their impotent silence cries out under the sword of so many Herods. On their blood stands the shadow of contemporary Herods. Truly there are so many tears this Christmas, together with the tears of the Infant Jesus.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Holy Spirit today enlighten our hearts, that we may recognize in the Infant Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, the salvation given by God to each one of us, to each man and woman and to all the peoples of the earth. May the power of Christ, which brings freedom and service, be felt in so many hearts afflicted by war, persecution and slavery. May this divine power, by its meekness, take away the hardness of heart of so many men and women immersed in worldliness and indifference, the globalization of indifference. May his redeeming strength transform arms into ploughshares, destruction into creativity, hatred into love and tenderness. Then we will be able to cry out with joy: “Our eyes have seen your salvation”.

With these thoughts I wish you all a Happy Christmas!

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the Solemnity of the Holy Family

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless each of you!

Solemnity of the Holy Family 2014

Solemnity of the Holy Family – 2014

December 28/28, 2014

Sirach 3: 2-6, 12-14; Col 3: 12-21; Luke 2: 22-40

The ways of the world and the ways of Christianity. The ways of individualism and autonomy and the ways of relationship and family and mutual responsibility. The ways of “me” and the ways of “us” and community.

In so many ways I have been reflecting on these questions in the last few years. More and more, I see the effects of the “ways of the world” are having on families, how families live, how they come together, yes, even how they are now defined. That which is given to us today in the Gospel as a model for family life is increasingly being ridiculed in modern society. If not ridiculed, then at least considered a sort of nice Christmas season ornament. The idea that family consists of a man and a woman coming together with a sacrificial love for one another, uniting their lives as one and in that love bringing forth children whom they raise and nurture, that definition of family is considered more and more as unrealistic and even in some quarters disrespectful and prejudiced.

How can this be? How have we come to this point in our thinking about family and our experience of it?

Nobody’s family is perfect. We all know that. They can’t be, not this side of heaven. None of our families are as holy or as happy or as secure or as stable as the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. This side of heaven we are imperfect people in an imperfect world using imperfect means in our attempt to become perfect. But God has a plan and we have to listen to Him. Christianity teaches us how to be a family and the world tries to make us individuals and the two don’t go together well.

We are not autonomous individuals in this world. We need each other. The world would want us to think we can make it on our own. The world would want us to think that the model for health and maturity is individuality, that what is important is self-determination, knowing yourself well, setting your own course in life, being assertive, and defining yourself. The world would say that what is true is what you decide is true, that you should be independent, self-sufficient, owe no one anything, and at all costs, be free.

The fact is, my friends, we are not independent autonomous individuals, nor should we be. We are human beings, human persons made in the image of God. We are deeply embedded in relationships and we are dependent on each other, we need each other. What we do, we do not do in isolation or secrecy; rather what we do has profound effects on one another, especially our families.

That which is threatening families today is the world’s attempts to get us to buy into the idea that life and love and marriage and family are all about “me;” that life and love and relationships are defined by me; that when life or love or relationships do not mesh with my definition, my way of thinking, my needs or my desires, or my perception, then that life should end, that love should die, and that relationship should be terminated. That is the reason for the acceptance of abortion, the high rate of divorce, euthanasia, and the redefinition of marriage that is sweeping the nation.

We are not autonomous individuals, independent beings. We are human persons deeply embedded in relationships, in family. This is the Christian view. Who we are is not defined primarily by us. It is defined by our relationships: by our families, by our parish, by our community. We need each other in this way. What I do, how I feel, what I believe, and what I value has profound effects on others.

My friends, we were created for others. We are for others. Ultimately, we are God’s, and we were created to be a gift to someone else. This is why a man gives himself to a woman in marriage. That is why a father and mother give themselves to their children. That is why children give obedience and respect and love to their parent and care for them in their old age.

Let us pray:

O Jesus, give us the grace and the understanding we so desperately need to be family

To be Christians in name and in truth

To strive to be families modeled after you Holy Family.

May we always remember that who we are and what we do has profound effects

On our husbands and our wives, on our children and our parents.

Mary, Pray for us!

St. Joseph, protect us!

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O Mary! Show us Jesus!

Our Holy Father, just moments ago, concluded his Christmas homily with these words: “O Maria! Mostraci Gesu!  (O Mary! Show us Jesus!)”

Yes my dear readers, this is our prayer tonight. Show us Jesus, Mary! This is your entire vocation, O most holy Virgin Mother of our Lord; to show us the the face of your Son who is the divine refulgence of the Father, the Savior and Redeemer of all humankind and indeed all of creation.

Mary, you are our mother too. In your face God sees ours. In your countenance is the presentation of all of man’s needs, all of man’s possibilities. Mary, you bring to our constant attention the only way to our salvation, i.e., Jesus Christ and faith in him.

Mary, show us Jesus! Mary, show us to him so that we may be loved and brought to new life.

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Quote for the Day

“What is religion? Ah! The science of Heaven come down to Earth: the science of our happy dependence on God and one another, the science whereby Almight God makes men like to Himself.” — Venerable Solanus Casey, OFM Cap.

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