Back in 2008, I began my studies for the Diaconate. After the process got rolling, maintaining the website was something that I just didn't have time to do, so it went dormant. In June 2013, I was ordained a deacon by Cardinal Donald Wuerl and have now settled into my ministries at Holy Cross Church in Garrett Park, Maryland. The site now has some new content. A few of our parishioners and others unable to get to Mass and have expressed a desire to have the homilies available, so I have recorded a number of them. You can listen to them under Homilies.
Starting on the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (July 29), the Church has us pause from our reading of the Gospel of Mark and for 5 consecutive Sundays we read together Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John. In all the Scriptures there is perhaps no more in depth teaching on the Holy Eucharist than is John 6. Please take the time during this 5-Sunday study to get to know Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus waits for us in the tabernacle; waits for us to spend some small portion of our time with Him Who entered time and then gave it all away to save us. A homily introducing this study of the Holy Eucharist can be found here.
On the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Church winds down the liturgical year with a meditation on the winding down of our lives. Jesus speaks of horrific events to His disciples regarding the end of their world. St. Francis de Sales advises us to "Fear death without fearing it." This sounds almost contradictory but it illuminates for us the narrow path between assuming we will go to heaven (presumption) and seeing no way to avoid hell (despair). To hear more on St. Francis' thoughts, listen to the homily from the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time. Also, you may want to read the article, Are Catholics Saved?
Last Saturday, I participated in the Easter Vigil. While any Mass is an awesome experience, the Easter Vigil is truly a Night to Remember. It is a night to remember in the sense of its deep symbolizm and extraordinary beauty. It is a night to remember because it is a unique celebration that is shared by Catholics around the globe and throughout the ages. Most of all it is a night to remember because it focuses our minds and hearts on the central truth of our faith--a truth without which, St. Paul tells us, "your faith is in vain" [1 Cor 15:17]. That truth is the Resurrection of Jesus from the tomb. "He is not here, but he has been raised." [Lk 24:6]
Alleluia! He is Risen!
Well, it's time to get the green dalmatic out of the closet--Ordinary Time is back. Why do you suppose that it's called Ordinary Time? As my former pastor, Fr. Tom Kalita, used to say, "There is nothing ordinary about it." And yet the parts of the Liturgical Year that are not filled with the celebrations of Advent, Christmas time, Lent, and Easter are known in the Church as Ordinary Time. There is a very simple reason behind this name. If you think back to math class is grade school, you may remember that you learned about the Ordinals. Remember? The numbers are 1, 2, 3... and the Ordinals are 1st, 2nd, 3rd... Ordinary time is so called because the Sundays are named (or should we say numbered) after the ordinals. For example, this year June 5th is called the "10th Sunday of Ordinary Time" but it is NOT ordinary; you can count on that!
This October 31st marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther defiant nailing of his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. This act ignited what is popularly called the Protestant Reformation yet a reformation it was not. There is little dispute that the Church in 1517 was badly in need of reform. Indeed, the Church is always in need of reform. But what took place in 1517 was not a reforming of a Church by turning it back to its core doctrine and acting in accordance with those doctrines. Martin Luther began not a reformation; but a revolution. Teaching that the Bible was the sole rule of faith and that every individual was empowered to interpret it according to his own conscience. He even excluded seven books of the Bible. Further, both Luther and John Calvin disputed the notion that good works were necessary for salvation because salvation was a legal declaration of holiness by God rather than an actual transformation of the individual into holiness. They did not reform the Church but revolted against the Church. As a result, the Church which is called by Christ to be One has been splintered into 38,000 denominations each believing something different. Let us all pray on this occasion that the unity which Jesus so desired will again be found in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church--The Catholic Church. Click Here to see a genealogy of the Christian denominations.
For my Lenten reading this year, I read A Doctor at Calvary by the French surgeon, Dr. Pierre Barbet. The description of Jesus' sufferings on our behalf was heart-wrenching. I don't think that I will ever now forget the physical pain involved in His most merciful gift to us. Remember, He voluntarily took on our punishment, but how many of us really understand the full implications of that choice. On the 4th Sunday of Lent, I included some of what I had learned and reflected on in my homily. This book gives us a new and terrifying persective on the verse, "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son." [John 3:16]
As we round out the Liturgical Year this Sunday, we can anticipate the liturgical "New Year" beginning Sunday, December 2. The Church has organized the Gospel readings into a three-year cycle labeled A, B, and C. Each of these focuses on one of the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke respectively. This new liturgical year begins Year C which is dedicated to the reading of St. Luke. Luke was a physician and accompanied St. Paul as he spread the Gospel to the Gentiles. St. Luke's Gospel is the first volume of a two-volume account. The second volume is called the Acts of the Apostles.