Prayer of Trust by Thomas Mertin

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death,
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Amen.

– Thomas Mertin

The Holy Men and Women of Every Time and Place

Homily for All Saints Day (Year A)
November 1, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – Sunday 12:00 PM


The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs by Fra Angelico (ca. 1424-1424)

Today we rejoice in the holy men and women of every time and place:
those who have run the race before us,
those who made it and now cheer us on.

We hear their voices.
We sense their closeness.

They are here.
They are all around us…a great multitude.

The communion of saints – we feel the power and the presence of that communion today.

Today Holy Mother Church holds up our older brothers and sisters in the faith as an example for us.  Today she brings them for a visit.

Who are they?

They are known to us…

Mary, the handmaid of the Lord
Joseph in his gentle care
Mary in her contemplation and Martha in her work.
Benedict in his prayer and work
Francis in his abandonment of all in the pursuit of God
Dominic in his gift of eloquence in preaching
Thomas Aquinas in his intellect
Ignatius of Loyola in his discernment of spirits
Teresa of Avila in her very determined determination to never give up on prayer
Maximilian Kolbe in his love for Mary and his heroic sacrifice for Francis Gajowniczek in a concentration camp
Pier Giorgio Frassati in his love for mountain climbing, the Eucharist, and the poor
Gianna in her fierce motherly love
John Paul II in his love for young people and his philosopher’s mind
Faustina in her message of Divine Mercy

Others are known to us and to God but anonymous to the world…

Still others are lost to us in the obscurity of time but known to the heart of God and loved in the communion of Saints in Heaven…

Men and women who allowed their lives to be transformed by the saving power of Christ….

Men and women who,
little by little,
day by day,
offered simple sacrifices of love for God and for those near to them,
acts of love and kindness and compassion and service,
sacrifices that have been written in gold in the scroll of the Lamb of God

Men and women who were sanctified and transformed by the ordinary events of their lives.  There are no miracles attributed to them, except for the miracle of selfless love and surrender to the God who is Love itself.

Our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents,
our aunts and uncles,
children who died too young but are now fully alive in the glory of God.

Today we rejoice in them.

They are known
for their integrity and their courage in standing up for what is right and just,
for their ability to see the presence of God in everyday life,
for their humble faith in God in the presence of incredible suffering.

They are known
for their gentleness,
for their listening ear and wise counsel,
for their reliability,
for always being there when they are needed most.

They are known
for their faithfulness and commitment to living out their marriages,
for providing for their children.

They are here.
Today is their day.

Today,
as we remember them,
as we sense their presence,
as we benefit from their prayers and hear them cheering us on,
we are filled with a tremendous yearning…
a yearning to join them,
a longing to fulfill completely what we already are:

Saints. 
Children of God. 
Sons and daughters of a Father who is perfecting us in love and drawing us to himself.

The saints have made it.  They know the way.  Their example lights the way for those of us who are still on our way. 

What is the way?

Christ is the way.

The beatitudes are the way.

Rejoice and be glad, for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven.

It is the way of surrender. 
It is the way of love. 

Today we rejoice in the holy men and women of every time and place.
All you holy men and women pray for us.

You Duped Me, O Lord

Homily for 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
August 30, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – 8:00 AM
St. Francis, Fisher – 10:00 AM

Focus:             You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.
Function:         Embrace the Cross


You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Jeremiah the prophet – a story that started out so hopeful and with so much promise.

His calling:

God speaks to him:

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. 
Before you were born, I dedicated you. 
A prophet to the nations, I appointed you.

Beautiful words.

Jeremiah responds:

Ah, Lord God!  I do not know how to speak; I am too young!

God says:

Say not, “I am too young.”
To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you.

Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying to me,
See, I place my words in your mouth!

Today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to uproot and to tear down,
to destroy and to demolish,
to build and to plant.[1]

Beautiful.

Jeremiah is then sent to preach the coming captivity of Jerusalem.  He is a prophet of doom.  No one wanted to hear his message.  He was rejected and branded as a traitor.  He started out with so much promise, now he finds himself suffering greatly.

And so, in his anguish, he cries out to God:

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the couple, young and in love, infatuated with each other, as their wedding day approaches.  The image of family life begins at the altar with the beautiful white dress, hair perfectly in place (the groom’s and hers…), corsages bursting with color, everyone is all smiles as they exchange their “I do’s”.

Five years later, here is that same couple.  The honeymoon is over.  Dirty clothes are on the bedroom floor instead of in the hamper, kids are crying, bills are unpaid.  This one wet the bed, that one threw his orange juice on the floor, and the third one just gave his sister a haircut.

I just want a nap and some peace and quiet.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the young man approaching his ordination day.  Six years of seminary have prepared him for this moment.  Soon he will be celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, anointing the sick, acting in the person of Christ to bring the sacraments to the people of God to aid them on their journey toward heaven.  He’s ordained, it’s glorious, everyone wants to hug him and receive a priestly blessing.

Here is that same man 3 years later.  Priesthood in the time of corona.  Unable to visit the hospital to anoint the sick.  Preaching the Mass of the Lord’s supper without the people of God present.  An early Sunday morning is in order as it was a busy week and the homily is not ready for the 8 AM Mass.  No more handshakes, it might spread the virus.  He visits his nieces and nephews and family life starts to look pretty good in the time of corona.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the teacher preparing her lesson plans during the first year.  She is not much older than her students.  They think she’s cool.  They look up to her.  She is making a difference in their lives.

Here is that same teacher 7 years later.  Teaching to a computer screen in March, wearing a mask in front of her classroom in September.  She’s no longer that cool.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the parishioner praying to be open to God’s will…drawn to a neighbor they don’t get along with or don’t know all that well.  There’s a whisper in the heart:

“Do an act of kindness.  Stop and visit with them.”

“Really, Lord, are you sure?”

They are convicted.  Fire in the chest, a nagging thought that won’t go away. 

They do it.

The neighbor goes on and on, complaining about the world in which we live.  On the other side of the political divide.  The parishioner can’t get away.

Or the neighbor gives them a quizzical look when they stop to visit because the parishioner has never done this before.  The conversation is awkward and the parishioner leaves wondering why they even bothered.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

A heresy of our time: “the prosperity Gospel.”

“Become a disciple and you’ll be happy.”
It’s a half-truth.
You’ll be happy, yes, but that happiness comes at a cost.
The cost, the price, is the cross.

Christianity has the cross at its center.
A crossless Christianity is no Christianity at all.

The Gospel – the Good news – is that Christ suffered for us so that we could be redeemed and forgiven of our sins.

The Gospel – the Good news – is NOT that there will be no suffering.  It is that Christ suffers WITH US and FOR US.

The Gospel – the Good news – is that the Suffering of the Cross leads to the Glory of the Resurrection.

The suffering is not the end.  It is part of the path.

Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me.”
St. Paul says, “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.”

Lose yourselves to gain eternity.
Lose yourselves for the sake of love.

It is through the Cross that grace rushes in.

The blood of Christ that bought our redemption flows from wounded, suffering hands and feet and a pierced heart.

Throw out the cross and we throw out the means of our salvation.

Peter – denies the cross today.  Denies it 3 times during the Passion.  He will be filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and will be given the grace and strength needed for him to embrace his cross in Nero’s Circus in Rome, when he is crucified upside down for his witness to Christ.

Brothers and sisters, you too have the Holy Spirit.
You also have your cross.
Pray for the strength to carry it.

Maybe it’s not not what you expected.
It’s probably not what you’d have chosen.

But it is your call.
And there’s grace in it. 
There’s goodness in it. 
There’s beauty and life in it. 
There’s pain and suffering in it, yes, but there is also surrender and sanctification.

You duped me, O Lord, and praise God, I let myself be duped.


[1] Jeremiah, chapter 1

The Link Between the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption

Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary
August 15, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – 9:00 AM


The Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are closely linked. 

In the Immaculate Conception, Mary is conceived in her mother’s womb, and she is conceived free from original sin.  She is preserved from original sin so that she can bear Jesus into the world.  The gift of the redemption goes back in time and preserves Mary from sin before Christ comes into the world.

In the Assumption, Mary is assumed, body and soul, into heaven.

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). 

In the Immaculate Conception, Mary is preserved from original sin,
and so, it follows that:
In the Assumption, Mary is preserved from bodily decay.

Preserved from sin’s corruption in the womb,
she is also
preserved from death’s corruption in the tomb.

From the 5th century, the Church has celebrate the “dormition”, or the “falling asleep” of Mary.

From a 9th century sacramentary which was used in the celebration of the Eucharist on the feast of the Dormition of Mary:

Venerable to us, O Lord,
is the festivity of this day
on which the holy Mother of God
suffered temporal death,
but still could not be kept down
by the bonds of death, [she who has]
begotten your Son our Lord
incarnate from herself.

Christ passed from this life.
Mary passed from this life.
Her body did not see corruption.

Mary’s obedience undoes Eve’s disobedience. 
Eve’s disobedience led to four curses in Genesis:

  1. Loss of innocence
  2. Pain of Childbirth
  3. Urge for her husband who will rule over her
  4. Death

There are four events in the life of Mary where these curses become blessings:

  1. In the Immaculate Conception, Mary preserves her innocence where Eve lost it.  Mary is preserved from original sin.
  2. In the Annunciation, Mary remains a virgin while becoming a mother.  She is a Virgin Mother.  Theologians speculate that Mary brings forth Christ into the world without the pain of childbirth (which was a consequence of original sin).
  3. On Good Friday, Mary stands by her Son at the foot of the Cross.  Since the fall, to differing degrees, there has been strife in the relationship between men and women, between husbands and wives.  The relationship between Mary and Jesus is preserved rom this.  She is a companion of Christ.  She is with her son in the work of redemption.  The graces that he won for us pass through her hands on their way to us.  She intercedes for us to her son as she interceded at the wedding feast of Cana.  “They have no wine…Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:3,5)  
  4. In the Assumption, Mary is preserved from the bodily corruption resulting from death, where Even experience the corruption of death.
Eve’s Curse (from sin)Mary’s Blessing
Loss of Innocence (“their eyes were opened” (Genesis 3:7))Immaculate Conception: Preserved from Original Sin
Pain of Childbirth (Genesis 3:16)Annunciation: Virgin Mother
“Urge for your husband who will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)Good Friday: Companion of Christ
Death (Genesis 2:17)Assumption: Preserved from Corruption of the Tomb

The dogma of the Annunciation was declared in 1950.  Many of these reflections are taken from the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII called “Munificentissimus Deus” (“The Most Bountiful God”) which declared the Assumption of Mary as a dogma of the Catholic Faith.

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been declared in 1854 (just 96 years earlier) by Pope Pius IX.  Once that was declared, the Assumption naturally followed.  If Mary was preserved from original sin in her conception, it follows that she was preserved from the consequences of sin (death). 

Munificentissimus Deus!  The Most Bountiful God, indeed!  A God who, out of love for us, would provide a remedy for our fall – the woman who would crush the serpent!

We received the Son through her womb and her “yes”.
Now, we receive graces through her hands and her intercession.

Next Saturday, we celebrate the Queenship of Mary.

Raised to glory in Heaven,
may she be raised to glory in our hearts:
Our Mother
Our Lady
Our Queen

Pray for us,
O Holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

God Speaks in the Silence

Homily for 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) (Father’s Day)
June 20-21, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – Saturday 5:00 PM
Holy Trinity, Tabor – 8:00 AM
St. Francis, Fisher – 10:00 AM

Focus:             God speaks in the silence.
Function:        Spend time listening in silence.


A Father who is a calming force has a powerful impact on his children.

In chaos, He is calm so they are calm.  “Dad can handle this.  He’ll take care of me in this, he’ll be there for me, so I’ll be OK.”

He might get angry, but he doesn’t seem to worry.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that he is worry free.  It just means his inner peace, his inner calm, isn’t easily shaken. 

What could be the source of such inner strength?

His faith in God.  He knows where his true identity is found.  He knows what determines his true value.  It is not determined by whether he succeeds or fails at this or that task.  It is found in “who he is”, not “what he does.”

Who is he?

He is not God. 
He is not in control of every situation. 
No, he is a son.  He is a son of his Heavenly Father. 
He doesn’t need to be in complete control because God is in control. 

He works hard, does his best, realizes some things are out of his control, and leaves those things to God. 

When things go wrong, he doesn’t say, “I failed”.

When things seem to be spinning out of control, he knows that the one thing that he can control is how he reacts. 

His identity is found, not in “what he does” but in “who he is”. 

Who is he?

He is a son. 

He is also a father – a father of his own children. 
They have faith in him, and their faith give him strength. 
They need him to be strong and so their need provides his strength. 
He doesn’t have the luxury of coming unglued. 

They need a protector, a provider, a teacher, so he does his best to be these things for them.  His guidance and presence is a source of strength for them.  Their love gives him strength even as his love gives them strength.

Our Heavenly Father is the perfect Father.  Nothing shakes him. 

He is calm, never frantic. 
He is silent, always listening. 
He is in control.

He doesn’t worry about our temper tantrums or minor sins. 
He calls us out of them.  He calls us to repent. 
He calls us to reach our full potential. 
He corrects us and disciplines us in the depths of our conscience, if we will only listen.

He loves us.

He created us out of nothing, for a purpose, to share his love and goodness with us.

When the world seems to be falling apart…
When we, like Jeremiah the prophet, can hear the whisperings of many: “Terror on every side!”…Let us remember who we are.

Jesus reminds us today who we are.

What does he say about the two sparrows?

“Not one of them falls to the ground without my Father’s knowledge.”

That’s not what he says.

“Not one of them falls to the ground without YOUR Father’s knowledge.”

We have the care of the Father who created the universe.  Our Heavenly Father is a calming force, and he can have a powerful impact on us, his children, if we listen.

Jesus says:

“Fear no one…What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light.  “What you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops”

Darkness indicates the early morning or late evening, the time of silence and solitude when a father can be alone because the children are sleeping. 

It is then that the voice of God can be heard,
that tiny whispering sound that speaks
in the depths of a heart
that makes time to pray in silence and solitude,
the voice that whispers:
“You are my son. I love you. It is enough. I will see you through this.”

We need silence today more than ever. 
We need this silence because we need to hear God’s voice.

We need to be reminded who we are so that we can become who we are called to be. 

We need to hear what God has to say so that we know what to say. 

In the silence, we sense God’s care for us.  In the silence, we hear God speak.  God is in the silence. 

Are we?

Next week, I will be on a silent retreat.  I’ve been preparing for it by reading a book called “The Power of Silence” by Cardinal Robert Sarah.  Prior to becoming a cardinal, Sarah served for twenty years an Archbishop in Guinea, Africa, under a violent, authoritarian Marxist regime, where the dictator had his name on a death list.  

He is a man who has seen dark times.

I found his words on silence particularly appropriate for us at this time, when many are fearful and are asking, “what is happening to our country?”:

God is fashioning hearts, and evil never has the last word.  In the darkest night, God works in silence.[i]

Silence and prayer are not a form of defection.  They are the strongest weapons against evil.  Man wants to “do”, but above all else he must “be”.  In silent prayer, man is fully human.  He resembles David before Goliath.[ii]


[i] Robert Cardinal Sarah, “The Power of Silence”, #287.

[ii] Ibid., #291.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus bleeds, binds, burns, blazes, and beats

Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
June 19, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – 8:00 AM

Focus: The Sacred Heart of Jesus bleeds, binds, burns, blazes, and beats.
Function: So must ours.


Sacred Heart of Jesus statue

Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
East Grand Forks, MN

The Lord has set his heart on you, on us.

He has set his heart.

We hear way back in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses telling the people: “The Lord has set his heart on you.”

We celebrate today the feast of that heart, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The image of the Sacred Heart, of course, we know well. And I think the image itself tells us a lot about God’s love for us.

I think, in particular, there are five things that we see in that image.

The heart bleeds, because it was pierced.
The heart binds, and it is bound, by the crown of thorns.
The heart burns: the cross and fire that are on top of the heart.
The heart blazes: the rays of light that shine forth from it.
And it beats: it is alive. It beats with a living heartbeat because Christ is alive.

So, each those in their turn:

First, it is a heart that bleeds,
a heart that bleeds because it offered itself in sacrifice,
a heart that was willing to be pierced for us,
that desired to be pierced for us,
in order to save us.

It is a heart that suffers, and suffers gladly, for love of us. It is the heart of the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep.

Pierced and bleeding,
a blood of bleach flows forth which washes away every stain of sin.
The heart bleeds because it is open,
open for you and open for me,
a fountain of life from which we drink,
the wellspring of the Church’s sacraments,
the very stream, the blood that flows from that Sacred Heart is what gives power to the sacraments.

It is a heart that bleeds.

Secondly, it is a heart that binds.

The crown of thorns around the heart is like a wedding band around the finger of Christ’s Heart, uniting his heart to our heart, Bridegroom united to his Bride.

It is a heart that binds in a Holy Communion by offering his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity to us. And in receiving that Communion, we are, in turn, bound to him. And in being bound to him, we are set free: set free from our sins, set free to truly live and to love as he calls us to love. Every morning, when we pray morning prayer, we are reminded that “God has come to his people and set them free.”

A love that binds with a bond of love so tight that it can never be broken.

Thirdly, it is a heart that burns.

The flame on top of that heart, with the cross above that flame, providing the wood for the sacrifice. A heart that is consumed with love for us. A heart that burns within him, that pines, that yearns, that longs and aches for us. A stirring, a burning in the Heart of Christ. He says: “I have come to cast a fire upon the earth, and how I long to see the flames leap up!”

It’s a love that burns,
that purifies,
that burns away the selfishness of every sin.

And for hearts that cannot or will not open themselves to receive that love,
the burning of that love can be experienced as the fires of Hell,
a rejection of Christ’s love.
But his love is meant to be a love that moves us to repentance and stirs us to love of God and neighbor, a love that draws us to himself.

It is a heart that burns.

Fourthly, it is a love that blazes.

The rays of light that blaze forth from the heart light the way for us.

This love is attractive. Just like the light of a bonfire draws everyone in toward the fire and toward one another, so the love of Christ draws everyone to his Sacred Heart. The brightness of his mercy shines forth. He leads us to himself with the love of his heart, the love of the Good Shepherd. And in his light, we see light.

And, brothers and sisters, when we can be filled with the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, they see it within us, and we glow, we radiate, we shine, and we help others to see.

It is a love that radiates.

It is a love that blazes.

Finally, it is a heart that beats.

It is a love that is alive. With you is the source of life. Dead in sin, we were brought to life by the love of his Sacred Heart.

So, the love of the Sacred Heart:
It bleeds to justify us.
It binds to unify us.
It burns to purify us.
It blazes to glorify us.
It beats to enliven us.

Can these qualities be said of our hearts?

Can these qualities be said of the love in our hearts?

Do they bleed?
Do they bind?
Do they burn?
Do they blaze?
Do they beat?

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto yours.

 

What’s Your Motivation?

Homily for Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time (Year I)
June 17, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – 8:00 AM

Focus: Motivated by Love


Crucifixion

The Crucifixion
Leon Bonnat
What was Jesus’ motivation?

What’s your motivation? What’s your “why”?

Whenever we see the actions of another person, it’s very rare that we can actually see the motivation. We can sometimes guess at what the motivation might be. We can sometimes, through investigation, discover it, but we can’t always know…

So, what’s your motivation?

What was Jesus’ motivation?

“I have come to do, not my own will, but the will of the one who sent me.”

The motivation of Jesus, everything that he did, was to do the will of the Father.

Jesus’ motivation was love.

Love is the only motivation for our actions that is truly pure.

So, a good motto, perhaps, to live our lives by, or by which to judge our actions, is this:
Am I doing this because I am motivated by love?

Truly great deeds are not done in order to “wow” or amaze others. No, truly great deeds are accomplished by the driving force of love, and THAT “wows” others.

There’s a saying that “you’ll never make a good impression if you’re trying to make a good impression.” Instead, when we focus on the other, when we love the other, when listen to the other, when we anticipate the needs of the other, when we lose ourselves…that’s when we make a good impression.

So, what’s your motivation?

Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving.
All good things.
All necessary things.

And yet, the Lord reminds us this morning that the wrong motivation will spoil them.

What’s your motivation?

Why do you fast?
To punish yourself?
To prove your own inner strength?
Or to strengthen your will so that you’re able to love others as God calls you to love?

Why do you pray?

Do you pray to justify yourself in God’s eyes?
Do you pray to try to earn Heaven?
To avoid Hell?
Or do you pray because you love God and are grateful for all that He’s done for you?

What’s your motivation?

Why do you give alms?
Your time, talent, and treasure. Why do you volunteer?

Because your friends are there?
Because it looks good to others?
Or do you do it because you love God and you see him in others in need?

What’s your motivation?

Brothers and sisters,
All actions, in order to make of them a pure offering to God, must be motivated by love. Motivated by love of God, motivated by love of neighbor, not motivated by love of self.

The Eucharist is Jesus’ sacrifice of love.
Love of the Father.
Love of us.

A love that made him forget himself.

May this Eucharist strengthen us and purify our motivations, that we, like him, may be motivated by nothing other than love.

Silence

Homily for Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time (Year I)
June 12, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – 8:00 am


Listen. Did you hear that?

Silence.

Silence.

Silence is so much more than the mere absence of noise. Silence is a presence. Silence is the presence of an attentive heart: a heart that is listening for that tiny whispering sound that is the voice of God.

A heart in silence is a heart that is at peace. And a heart that is not at peace is a heart that is full of noise, even if there are no sound waves present around it.

Silence of the heart.

The presence of an attentive heart.

The ears of our hearts opened so that we can hear that tiny whispering sound of the voice of God.

A small voice.

A quiet voice.

Small, like the host we receive from this altar.

Silent, like the host we receive from this altar.

About a year ago, someone came to see me to talk about their prayer life. They were struggling to hear the voice of God. I said, “Tell me about your prayer.”

“Well, I go to adoration but I can’t hear the voice of God.”

“Tell me what you do in adoration?”

“Well, first I pray the rosary. Then evening prayer. Then I walk around and I pray the stations of the cross, and finally the divine mercy chaplet.”

Stop! Silence.

Ears open to hear what God has to say, not just filling up time with what I have to say.

When the voice of God speaks in our hearts, we know it, don’t we? That’s why we’re here today. We’ve heard that still, small voice at some point.

I remember the first couple that I prepared for marriage when I first came to Sacred Heart. I met with them in my office at 7:00 in the evening. They are in their early twenties, young and in love. We finish the meeting. I go back over to the rectory. It’s just after 8:00 and all of the lights are off. All of my housemates are in bed. I walked into the house and my heart was heavy and it just hurt. I thought, “What did I do? I could have had what they have!”

So, I went into the chapel and knelt before the. Blessed Sacrament, and I said, “Jesus, this hurts.” And there was a great peace. And I heard a still, small voice. Not an audible voice, but a voice nonetheless, speaking in the depths of my heart. It spoke my name.

“Matthew, you are thriving in the vocation that I have called you to.”

And there was peace.

The gospel today speaks of the importance of purity of heart. “Whoever looks at another lustfully commits adulterous in the heart.” That’s so dangerous because when our hearts are not pure, our hearts are not silent.

Purity of heart leads to peace of heart. Peace of heart leads to silence in the heart. Silence in the heart allows us to hear the voice of God.

That’s what we all long for. The psalm: “I long to look upon your face, O Lord.”

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.

So, my brothers and sisters, as we approach the altar today, we pray that the Lord might silence any noise in our hearts and give us the grace to hear his voice more clearly.

God Gave His Son For Us

Homily for Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (Year A)
June 7, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF –Sunday 10:00 AM (Baccalaureate), 12:00 PM

Focus: God gave his Son for us.
Function: Receive him and give yourself to him.


Trinity

The Trinity: Pandora’s box for the preacher. It is the central mystery of the Christian Faith because it is the mystery of God in himself. The challenge is to say something substantial but to not say something incorrectly.

What can we say about the Most Holy Trinity?

We believe in one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Each person is God.
The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God.

Each person is distinct.
The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is not the Father.

They are One. There is unity in the Trinity.

[1. Creed]

We can turn to the Creed – the statement of belief that was hammered out by the early Christians in the first few centuries of the Church.

“I believe in One God” – not three Gods. Unity.

“the Father Almighty” – creator of Heaven and Earth

“I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages…”

The Son has always existed along with the Father. Yet he is begotten. Like a human son is begotten by an earthly father, so the Son of God is begotten by God the Father, yet from all eternity. He had no beginning. As the creed goes on to say “begotten, not made”.

“Through him all things were made” – the Father made all things through the Son. Creation sprang into being when the Father spoke the Word. The Word is the Son.

“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.”

The Holy Spirit existed from the beginning.
The first words of the Book of Genesis, telling of Creation:
“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters…”
The Spirit was there when God spoke his Word…

The Most Holy Trinity:

The Father: creates and begets
The Son: is begotten, is sent, is the Word through whom all things were created
The Holy Spirit: proceeds from the Father and the Son

What else can we say?

[2. Gospel]

Let us turn to the Gospel. John 3:16. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”

The Trinity is present in those few words:
God: the Father
So loved: The Holy Spirit is the bond of love between the Father and the Son
That he gave his only Son:

God is love. An eternal exchange of love. The Trinity is a communion of persons.

God gave his Son in the act of Creation when he spoke his Word and creation sprang into being. Creation is a gift. Love always seeks to go outside of itself. To make a gift of itself to another.

We abused the gift. We sinned. God sent his Son again, sent his son to be born in time, in our human likeness and appearance, to take on our sins, to die for us and to rise again to new life.

The Son returned to the Father. He ascended into Heaven. He went back to the Father. Before he left, he gave the great commission: “Go, therefore, and preach the Gospel to all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.

The Son was sent into the world to draw us into the inner life of the Trinity – to draw us into communion with the Trinity. He was sent out to draw us in. He returns to the Father. “It is better for you that I go, if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.” He returns to the Father, and the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit.

All who are baptized are born of water and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in them. And where the Holy Spirit is, there is the Father and the Son. We who are baptized share in the life of the Trinity here, so that when we die, we are drawn into the inner life of the Trinity for all eternity. That is Heaven.

[3. The Implications]

What does this mean for us?

We are made in the image and likeness of God.

We came from the heart of the Trinity.
We are to return to the heart of the Trinity.

We have a mission. We who have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ are now sent out like he was sent out – sent to draw others into the mystery. Sent to proclaim the good news that:

We are not alone.

We are not abandoned.

We are loved.

We are loved by the God who is love itself – loved by a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.

We are loved with a love so strong that He would not leave us dead in our sins but would send His own Son to die in our place so that we could be reconciled.

[4. Graduates]

Dear graduates, remember this truth.

You come to the end of your high school years.
You are now sent out. You are to be sent out like the Son was sent out from the Father. You are sent out into the world with a mission.

Remember your mission.

“Go, make disciples…”

Go, but come back.

Remember that the Son returned to the Father

Go, but come back to back to be strengthened by the Eucharist.

Go, but remember why you go. You have a mission from God.

Go, to lead others home, to lead others back, to lead others into the Heart of the Trinity. You can only do that if you yourself are immersed in the heart of the Trinity…if you live in communion with the Trinity.

God is Trinity – an eternal exchange of love.

God so loved the world that he gave us His only Son.
Do you so love God that you will give him yourself?

He gives us his Son again in this Eucharist.
Will you give yourself to him?

“Jesus, come into my heart. Keep me close to your heart. Draw me into the life of the Trinity. Never let me be separated from you.”

God Calls Us to be Faithful

Homily for Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter (Year I)
May 20, 2020 – 8:30 AM
High School Mass – final for 2019-20 school year (Live-stream during COVID-19)

Focus:              God calls us to be faithful.
Function:         Be faithful.


Raphael - Paul Preaching in Athens

Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus Sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515.

Paul goes to Athens.

He goes, commissioned by the Holy Spirit, to tell everyone there about the Lord Jesus.

And it was a dismal failure.

Some scoffed.

Most left with hearts untouched and simply said, “We would like to hear you on this matter some other time, but not today.”

But some joined.

Some joined.
Some recognized the truth in what they heard.
Some became followers.

And so, in that respect, it was not a dismal failure. It was a success.

It was a success because Paul was faithful.
Paul was faithful to what God asked him to do.

Brothers and sisters, what about us?

Paul came to the end of his time in Athens.
We come to the end of this school year.

In many ways, it may feel like this school year was a dismal failure.
Ending early. Goodbyes not said.

And yet, in many other ways, it was a resounding success.

Look at what God has brought about because people were faithful.

Look at what God has brought about through teachers and staff who were faithful to their calling to educate our youth, to teach them the skills that they need for life, to proclaim the Gospel to them.

Look at what was done simply because we were faithful.

Look at what God has done in you simply by your faithfulness:
your showing up to attend Mass, increasing a hunger for the Eucharist…
your tuning into your live sessions…
your completing your school work…

God is bringing good out of it.

Some of you might have scoffed.
Some of you, perhaps, were indifferent.

And others were faithful.

Brothers and sisters, in the end, what’s important for all of us is that we’re faithful.

As we come to the end of this school year…
As we prepare to begin summer…
Take care to be faithful to what it is that God calls you to do.

Be faithful to pursue him in all things, to seek his face in all things.

The God who created heaven and earth has created you. He knows you and he loves you. He desires you to know and to love him.

At times, you and I have not chosen him. We have not reached out to him. We’ve rejected him by our sins and yet he never rejects us! God reaches out to us. God sent his Son, who died to take away our sins: Jesus.

Jesus rose from the dead.
Jesus appeared to his disciples.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon them, upon us.

As we approach the Feast of Pentecost, in a little over a week’s time, God prepares to send the Holy Spirit new upon the earth.

He gives you everything you need to become a saint, and he calls you to become one!

How do we become one?
Brothers and sisters, be faithful!

You are his masterpiece.

Do you believe that?
Do you really believe that?

Then join him.

Say not, “We would like to hear about this some other time.”

Now is the time.
Now is the day of salvation.