Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Priest for Life comment on Obama/Notre Dame

From Fr. Pavone, Priests for Life:

We at Priests for Life are joining with the students of Notre Dame, calling upon believers to offer rosaries for the conversion of President Obama and in reparation for the scandal of him being honored during the Notre Dame commencement ceremony. Go to www.prayercampaign.org to sign up.

Here is what the Notre Dame students are saying on their website at www.ndresponse.com.

Call to action

"In recent weeks the announcement of President Barack Obama as Notre Dame's commencement speaker has caused much controversy. We, the concerned students at Notre Dame, are attentive to this and have led several efforts to voice our opposition to the decision to honor President Obama with a doctor of laws degree, given his stance on abortion. We know that this controversy has gained much attention worldwide, but we are aware that our story is merely one case among many in which the struggle of Catholics in political life becomes clear. Our sad situation is an occasion for Catholics across the country, and worldwide, to reflect on the tragedy of abortion, the real danger of policies opposed to life, and the important role we must play in fighting for the dignity of all human life. There are many important and necessary ways for us to fulfill this role. We remember, however, that Notre Dame is indeed Our Lady's University and that our strongest weapon to fight this public scandal and disregard for the importance of life is to have recourse to prayer.

As such, we now call for a Rosary Crusade of One Million Rosaries.

We students will pray the rosary daily for 40 days – from Wednesday of Holy Week (4/8/09) until the day of commencement (5/17/09). We will pray especially for conversion of heart for President Obama, that he might grow to respect life from conception to natural death and that his policies might reflect that (in particular that he will reverse his pro-abortion stance). As a secondary intention, we will pray for the University of Notre Dame, and all Catholic universities, that they might grow in their understanding of what it means to be Catholic and truly embrace their Catholic identity. Finally, we pray that this country, and all countries throughout the world might embrace a greater respect for life in all its stages.

But we know that we cannot achieve this without help. We have found many internet petitions that have been signed in support of this effort and know that one of them has well over 200,000 signatories already. If only a fraction of you join us in prayer for 40 days, we will reach our goal of One Million Rosaries, and perhaps we will even surpass it. We hope that you will join us in prayer, and encourage others – through whatever means – to do the same. We encourage you to visit our website to report how many rosaries you have said for this intention (www.ndresponse.com).

Many of us have responded angrily to this situation, questioning why Our Lord would allow such a public scandal. It is to remind us to put all of our hope in Him, and to redouble our efforts to pray for an end to abortion in this country and across the world. Perhaps all we need to do is to recall the words of our own fight song. Assured of Victory, we call to mind the words of the Blessed Mother given at Fatima: 'In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.'

Onward to Victory."

Friend, please join us in this effort by signing up at www.prayercampaign.org and we will let the Notre Dame students know of your commitment.

Thank you,

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

Sunday, November 12, 2006

32nd Sunday - Homily

If I were to ask you to think of someone who is an example of generosity – whether it’s someone in your family, or a friend, or someone you’ve read about – who would you think of? Is there a specific act of generosity that you might think of that stands out as particularly impressive or inspiring? Well, we hear of two examples of generosity in today’s readings: two poor widows. They have lost so much already –they’ve lost their husbands. And, they don’t have much in terms of money or things. And yet, the little they have, they generously give to others.

In the first reading from the first book of Kings, the poor widow and her son seem to be on the verge of death. They are running out of food, and maybe out of hope, too. Even in her poverty, the poor widow gives to the prophet Elijah the little food she has, trusting that he is a man of God. And, she is richly rewarded for her generosity, receiving far more food than she had in the first place.

In this passage from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus highlights the generosity of the poor widow. The rich are giving large amounts of money to the temple treasury, but she only gives a couple of coins…a couple of cents. But, Jesus says, ‘there! That’s generosity. She is giving all that she has’. Sure, the others give much more in terms of money, but she gives offers up more in terms of sacrifice. The others are giving from their surplus, but she gives all that she has. It is an example of giving when it hurts to give. It is a great example of generosity for us.

So, if each of us looks in the mirror, we ask, ‘am I an example of generosity? Do I generously give my time, talent, and treasure to God and to others?’ We can all be so protective of our time. Our time is very valuable to us. We spend so much time working and being busy that we want to keep the little free time we have to ourselves. But, again think of the widow from the Gospel- she only had a little bit of money, and she still gave the little that she had to others. There are so many here at St. Andrew’s who give the little free time they have to others – serving in the liturgy, as teachers, catechists, and coaches. But, there still is a need for more to give of their time. For example, we still need five coaches for basketball teams this year.

What about coming to Church: do we make coming to Mass “God’s time?” He has given us everything…He gives us 168 hours in the week, and only asks us to give Him one hour each week. Do we give Him that hour? Or, do we come late to Mass, and leave early? Do we really try to pray while we’re here, or do we talk and socialize during Mass, maybe even during Holy Communion? This is His time, not ours.

I have been extremely impressed with the amount of talent we have in our parish and school. So many people generously share their gifts with others, whether in the arts or athletics or education. They see that God has given them all of their gifts, and they give back to Him by sharing their talents with others.

A priest once said to me that if each Catholic were to give 3% of his/her income, Catholic education would be free. I guess we don’t even give 3%, because Catholic education is not free. The Bible says we should give 10%…what do we give? Again, God gives us everything. He gives us all of our income, and only asks for a fraction in return. If we are men and women of faith, we give generously to Him and His Church, and trust that ‘God will provide’. God knows we all have bills to pay, and we are to be wise in how we handle our money. But, He calls us to give generously, and to believe that He will provide for us.

Jesus uses the example of the woman from the Gospel to point to His own act of generosity. Just as she gave her whole livelihood, so Christ gave his whole life as an offering for us on the Cross. He continues to give us his life in the Eucharist. He gives us his life, his love, and his generosity. As we receive his Body and Blood in Holy Communion, may the Grace of this sacrament help us to be more generous. May it help us to be more generous in giving our time, our talent, and our treasure to others, and thus, to Almighty God.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Humanae Vitae

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, here are excerpts from Pope Paul VI's encyclical on the regulation of birth, Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), 1968. In particular, I have included the paragraph where the former Pope presents the "consequences of artificial methods" (contraception). Please go to the address at the bottom of this post for the full text.

7. The question of human procreation, like every other question which touches human life, involves more than the limited aspects specific to such disciplines as biology, psychology, demography or sociology. It is the whole man and the whole mission to which he is called that must be considered: both its natural, earthly aspects and its supernatural, eternal aspects. And since in the attempt to justify artificial methods of birth control many appeal to the demands of married love or of responsible parenthood, these two important realities of married life must be accurately defined and analyzed...

10... With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time...

16. If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained...

Consequences of Artificial Methods

17. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection...

20. The teaching of the Church regarding the proper regulation of birth is a promulgation of the law of God Himself. And yet there is no doubt that to many it will appear not merely difficult but even impossible to observe. Now it is true that like all good things which are outstanding for their nobility and for the benefits which they confer on men, so this law demands from individual men and women, from families and from human society, a resolute purpose and great endurance. Indeed it cannot be observed unless God comes to their help with the grace by which the goodwill of men is sustained and strengthened. But to those who consider this matter diligently it will indeed be evident that this endurance enhances man's dignity and confers benefits on human society...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

True love means sacrifice

We've had many recent comments about vocations, mostly concerning religious vocations. My favorite one is, "Sorry to have to tell you this but there is already major shortage of the priesthood and even worse the nunhood (is that a word?)". I hear this kind of comment every so often (by the way, sisterhood is a word, nunhood is not). I hope that the anonymous blogger who wrote this is doing his/her part to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life through prayer and fasting.

While it is true that there is a shortage of priests and nuns in the United States, it is also true that there is a lack of commitment in the other two vocations: married and single. The unfortunate and sad statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce in this country is a major indication of that. Also, very, very few people seriously consider a permanent commitment to the single life. It's a vocations crisis across the board; a crisis in commitment.

Every one of us has a vocation. When God created the world, He had each one of us in mind. He has a Plan for all of humanity, and each one of us plays an important role in living out His Plan and doing His Will. Our job is to figure out to which vocation He is calling us: married, religious, or single. Most people are called to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, thanks be to God (we need to survive as a race!). Some are called to serve as priests or religious brothers and sisters, and some are called to give their lives in service to the Church as single men or women.

The obvious and earliest Scriptural basis for marriage as a calling from God is the Book of Genesis. God establishes the institution of marriage right away: "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body" (2:24). In Matthew 19, Jesus reaffirms Genesis and presents marriage as a vocation: "what God has joined together, no human being must separate" (v.6). A few lines later, Christ indicates that celibacy is God's Plan for some people: "Some are incapable of marriage...because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" (v.12).

As I told the junior high students in the school last week, Christ is to be the center of every vocation. If we center our lives on Jesus Christ, especially in the Eucharist, we will know our vocations and live them out. He is Love; Love is to be the center of every marriage, every priesthood, every religious life, and every single life. True love means sacrifice. But, if we are committed to Christ and His Eucharistic Sacrifice, then we will be committed to our vocations and lay down our lives for others.

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends" (Jn 15:13).

Sunday, August 13, 2006

19th Sunday - Homily

It’s interesting to think about how much time we spend each week or even each day watching movies or television…listening to music…surfing the internet. There are a variety of reasons why we spend so much of our free time on these different media. We might feel that movies make us laugh or make us cry. We might experience certain emotions through a character or like a particular actor. Movies entertain us. But, the question is, are movies real? For the most part, no they are not. And yet, we invest so much time, money, and energy in them.

Then, we ask the question that many people don’t like to answer. How much time do we spend with God each week? I trust that it's at least one hour a week…at Mass. So, the question is, is what happens at Mass real? Yes!! If we have some understanding of what takes place during Mass, then we know that what happens here blows away any movie that’s ever been made. God appears before our very eyes! In probably my favorite line from Scripture, Jesus tells us in John 6:51 from today’s Gospel that this is true: “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world”.

What happened on Mount Calvary was real. Even the most ardent atheist in the world would agree that Jesus of Nazareth shed his blood and died on a Cross 2000 years ago. It’s an historical fact. It was really his flesh and blood on the Cross. We differ with the atheist, of course, with what happened three days later in the Resurrection. Christ teaches us in John 6:51 that the same flesh and blood that was on the Cross is the same flesh and blood on the altar at each Mass.

If we put John 6:51 into an equation, we see that “the bread that I will give” (the Eucharist) “is” (equals ) “my flesh for the life of the world”. So, the Eucharist = flesh. The Eucharist that is on the altar at Mass is the same flesh and blood that Jesus offered for the life of the world on Good Friday. People will ask, ‘so, does Jesus die over and over again at every Mass?’ No, Scripture says he “died once and for all”. His sacrifice on Mount Calvary is re-presented on the altar under the signs of bread and wine.

The only difference has to do with what happened since Good Friday: the Resurrection. The Eucharist is the risen body and blood of Christ. It is the same Jesus. What happens at Mass is real, and it is awesome, baby! Awesome!!

So, we come to this Mass and every Mass to give thanks to God the Father for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us. In a special way, we give thanks for the Eucharist. Eucharist comes from the Greek word, ‘eukaristeion’ (sp?), which means ‘thanksgiving’. We thank Jesus for this incredible gift. Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice for us. Thank you for giving us your life. Thank you for the Eucharist. Thank you for your life. Thank you for your love. Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Blurb on the Eucharist from the Catechism

As we approach the Bread of Life discourse, I thought this quote from the Catechism (#1106) was very insightful:

You ask how the bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the wine...the Blood of Christ, I shall tell you: the Holy Spirit comes upon them and accomplishes what surpasses every word and thought...Let it be enough for you to understand that it is by the Holy Spirit, just as it was of the Holy Virgin and by the Holy Spirit that the Lord, through and in himself, took flesh.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

17th Sunday, Ordinary - Homily

Normally, when I am giving a talk to a group about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and what takes place during the Mass, I can stump the group with one question: what is the moment of consecration? When do the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Christ? I will reveal the answer to this group in a few minutes. Now, when we hear this Gospel, we might ask the same question…when does the multiplication of the loaves and fish actually take place? One minute we hear that there are five loaves and two fish, and the next minute…they “have their fill”.

It’s kind of like here at Mass…the multiplication of Catholics at Mass. When we processed in, there was practically no one here. And, now, as I give the homily…poof…the place is full! Nevertheless, we see many similarities with this Gospel and what takes place at Mass.

The first reading is a preview of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. They are almost identical stories; the story involving Elisha in the second book of Kings occurred 500 years Before Christ. Like all Old Testament events, it leads to and is fulfilled in the New Testament. The events of the Old Testament spoke to the people of those times, but also to the people of later times, particularly the ones who are alive during the time of the Messiah. They prepared people to recognize the Christ, so that they would proclaim him as the Messiah.

In this Gospel from John 6, we hear phrases that remind us of Holy Mass. “A large crowd” came to Christ…we, too, come in large numbers to Christ, to his altar at Mass. They brought him “five barley loaves and two fish”…we bring him bread and wine. These are all ordinary gifts of the earth, and they represent us, humanity. In fact, barley loaves were seen as the food of the poor.

He had them “recline”; he was preparing them for a meal… we prepare for this Sacred Meal by kneeling. He “took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them”…we hear the same words from the Last Supper accounts: “he took bread, gave thanks…and gave it to them”. The distribution of the loaves and fish is a preview to Holy Communion. They all “had their fill”…whenever we receive a gift from God, we are satisfied. “Twelve wicker baskets with fragments” were left over…twelve is a significant number because it represents the twelve Apostles. They are all there for this miracle.

Also, when God gives, He gives in abundance. They collected the fragments in the same way that we collect the fragments of the Eucharist, and store any leftover in the tabernacle so that none goes to waste. Finally, witnessing this miracle leads them to have faith. They proclaim that Christ is “the prophet, the one who is to come into the world”…how much more are we who receive the Body and Blood of Christ filled with faith to proclaim him as our God?

The main difference between this Gospel and what happens at Mass is the difference between a miracle and a sacrament. In a miracle, a change in nature takes place that our senses can pick up. The people could see that loaves and fish had been multiplied…that water had been turned into wine…that a blind person could see. But, in a sacrament, we don’t see any change. It’s not a natural change, it’s a supernatural change. We don’t see a change in the bread and wine; we only know by faith that a change takes place... Jesus says, “this is my body”.

The moment of consecration, then, is when the priest says these words of Christ…”this is my body... This is my blood”. Then, it is no longer bread, and no longer wine. That is why we ring the bells at that moment; the bells say, ‘be alert…something extraordinary is happening here’.

So, as we prepare to witness this extraordinary event in a few minutes, this amazing occurrence, we prepare to be fed by our Lord. How much more do we receive our ‘fill’ when we are filled with the Body and Blood of Christ … filled with God’s love? May we know God’s love through the Eucharist this day.

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