Thursday, March 13, 2014

New Contracts

In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, teachers of all the archdiocesan schools were introduced to their new contract last week.  I see the new contract as an enormously positive thing; however, some people seem negative about it.  I think this negativity comes from fear and ignorance.  The first thing to point out is that the standard has not changed.  By signing the contract, teachers are agreeing to the exact same standard to which they have agreed for years.  But now, they are able to do it with more clarity.  Before, in the old contract, the language about Church doctrine and scandal was vague.  Now common areas of scandal are spelled out clearly.  One would think that more clarity and more information would be a positive thing, making one freer to make a decision as an adult.
Secondly, it seems to me that few people take the time to find out why the Church teaches what she does.  When we go to such effort, we find out that the Church's teachings are the most loving set of doctrines in the world.  We find that her teachings are reasonable, based on both reason and revelation from Christ.
I am confident that those who sign these new and improved contracts in good faith and embrace the Church's teachings will be holier and more fulfilled.  Mission accomplished!  Some human beings would be on the way to salvation.  And the ripple effect would cause those around them to be more likely on the path of salvation also.  However, it seems that we are wired as human beings to think that living according to Church teaching will make life boring or sad.  The happiest people I know are those who strive to live the Faith.  The saddest and most miserable people I know are those who reject Church teaching and try to find fulfillment in worldly things.
One concern I have heard is that our Catholic schools may lose some of the better teachers because of the new contract.  I think the answer to this supposed problem is in the contract itself where the teachers are now referred to as "teacher-minister".  This makes it clear that teaching at a Catholic school is not just a job but a ministry, not just a job but a mission.  I would hope that parents would not lament the loss of supposed "better teachers" who may not be witnessing the way to Heaven.  Inversely, I would hope that parents would celebrate the teachers who embrace the Church's teachings and show their children the way to Heaven.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The UN is not a friend

It has been awhile since I have read up on the amount of our money the United States government alocates to propping up the UN.  I don't even want to look because it will probably make me sick to see how my tax dollars and those of so many hard working Americans are being spent to prop up such a corrupt, anti-American, anti-Christian, pro-abortion organization.

This past week's "report" from the UN child protection committee is clearly not a true report but a piece of anti-life, anti-Catholic propaganda.  In their corruption, they clearly want to control the Church.  In reality, just like the hijacking of airliners, the sexual abuse of minors at the hands of clergy is largely a thing of the past.  There are effective safeguards in place to prevent terrorists from taking over airliners.  Plus, the other people on the airliner will not tolerate it.  Since 9/11/01 several terrorist attempts have been stopped by the people.

Sure, more stories of abuse will come out in the future, but we notice that these cases are almost exclusively from decades past.  In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, effective processes were put in place way back in 1993, nine years prior to the issues that came to light in 2002.  Notice how the vast majority of cases are decades old not new.  At every level: local, national and global, effective child protection measures are in place and working extremely well.  Plus, the people will not tolerate it.

The thing that blows me away is the lack of intellectual honesty in the "report".  This UN committee says the Vatican has to do more to protect the little ones from harm but then also says the Vatican has to do more to allow the killing of the little ones in the womb. 

I pray that some day the rest of the world will notice that the Church's teachings on contraception and homosexuality are the most loving and reasonable in the entire world.  Contraception has only, and will only weaken families by opening the doors for further infidelity and spousal abuse.  Since the family is the basic building block of society, we have a weak society when we have weak families.  One would think that the UN would try to do what works for making a strong society: strong families.

It is not politically correct to point out the fact that practice of the Church's teaching would eradicate AIDS in Africa and everywhere else in the world in just one generation.  Don't have sex before marriage.  A simple blood test shows if a prospective spouse has AIDS.  Maybe think twice about marrying that person.  If only the UN would put our resources behind that agenda!

The Church has been a constant voice of the demand of Christ to love all people no matter his or her sins, background, religion, race, etc.  There is no other option besides love and respect for all.  This UN "report" charges the Church with the opposite without showing any evidence.

Where do they get the gall to demand the Church change unchangable teachings based in natural law reasoning?  So much more could be written on the hypocracy of the UN and their lack of reason.
Here are some excellent links to more information:

http://www.hli.org/2014/02/un-committee-statement-requesting-changes-catholic-moral-teaching-egregious-attack-religious-freedom/

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-un-oversteps-its-boundaries-in-report-conclusions/

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Catalytic Converter

I have chosen a new name for my blog.  The old one, "The Faceless Man", was the name of my first blog post as I wrote about the liturgical "East" of ad orientem.  Christ is the focus of the liturgy, not the priest, who is merely a faceless man standing in persona Christi leading the faithful in a procession to the Father.

I have chosen "Catalytic Converter" for several reasons.  First, I am a bit if a gear head.  As I child I enjoyed working on my own bikes.  Then in high school, I enjoyed working on two different 80cc dirt bikes, my 1963 Fairlane, and my 1981 Mustang, which actually had catalytic converter issues and was too slow to get out of its own way and really didn't deserve the name Mustang.  I continued tinkering on my 1990 Ford Probe, 1988 Ranger, and 1992 Toyota pickup.  However I notice that the older I get and the newer my cars get, the less I am able to work on them.  I was able to do very little on the 2008 FJ Cruiser and now even less on the Diesel engine of my 2013 Volkswagen.

The second reason for the new name is that another gear head may accidentally stumble upon my blog and hear the Good News of the Gospel.  Or a thief who steals catalytic converters for the scrap money may stumble upon it and have a conversion experience.

The most important reason for the new name is in reference to the Holy Spirit.  At an archdiocesan priests' convocation last year, the Most Reverend  Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R, Archbishop of Indianapolis, gave a keynote address to the priests of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.  In the address, Archbishop Tobin referred to the Holy Spirit as the "Catalytic Converter".  That imagery blew me away.  Isn't the Holy Spirit the most awesome Catalyst for everything good we do?  And isn't the Holy Spirit the true Converter, even though we are sometimes tempted to take credit?

In the Gospels, Jesus tells us of the crucial importance of conversion that we may live.  Since then, Holy Mother Church has been passing on to each generation the importance of our need for daily conversion.  My prayer is that all of us will open our hearts to ultimate Catalyst and Converter, the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Presentation of the Lord

It has been 40 days since Christmas.  Some churches remain decorated for Christmas until today.  Since then we have celebrated a whole series of epiphanies, or events of God showing Himself to the world: Christmas, the Epiphany when the magi bring their gifts, the Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan, the Wedding Feast at Cana are all epiphanies of the Lord showing Himself.  Today we celebrate another one.  When Jesus is presented in the temple, God is showing himself to the world.

All the candles for the year are blessed on today which is also known as Candlemas.  It is appropriate to focus on the candles because they bring light into the church.  We recall that day when the Light of the world, Jesus was brought into the temple.  Sin and evil hide in the dark shadows.  But Christ comes as the brilliant shining light.

And what a rich story we hear today: Old Simeon recognized the Christ of the Lord.Do we recognize Christ?

The Canticle of Simeon is prayed daily at Compline or Night Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours.  He says: “My eyes have seen your salvation,” not just Christ, but salvation, the act of being saved.  Saved from what?  Is there something that will ruin us?  Yes, sin entered the world.  Sin messed things up.

Today’s feast only makes sense to us if we acknowledge sin as a reality in our world.  A couple days ago, Pope Francis quoted Pope Pius XII: “The greatest sin today is that people have lost a sense of sin.”  And because of that we lose the meaning of the Kingdom of God.  If sin is not real or not important, then anything goes.  So why has God made His presence with us?  Because it is real, it is important, and He loves us too much to be separated from us.

We baptized Christians are called to build up the Kingdom of God.  The pope said that the loss of a sense of sin is always a sign that the Kingdom of God is diminishing.  We pray for the coming of the Kingdom daily in the Lord’s prayer: “Thy Kingdom come.”  We’ll pray it here together in a few minutes.  We are praying that we will allow the Kingdom of God to grow in our midst.  We need salvation.  Pope Francis points out that it can’t come from our cunning, our cleverness, or our intelligence in doing business.  It comes from God’s grace and how we train for it every day in the Christian life.  He reminds us that Christian mediocrity will never cut it.

The good news is we have a Redeemer to imitate.  We need a redeemer.  We have been redeemed.

And there is more good news.  Simeon reminds us that Jesus is for the people of Israel and the Gentiles, all nations.

It’s interesting that the Presentation we celebrate today is one of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.  It is a joyous occasion.  It is an epiphany when God shows himself to us.  But notice this Gospel is also used when we celebrate Mary as our Sorrowful Mother.  Simeon predicts “you yourself a sword will pierce.”  She would witness her Son’s act of redemption as he is tortured and dies on the Cross.

Anna is a great witness to all of us of the importance of redemption, the importance of God in our lives.  She worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

As if that’s not already enough good news, we hear a little bit about how God does it in our second reading from the letter to the Hebrews:  Jesus shared in our humanity fully – flesh and blood.  He redeems everything he assumes.  He assumes our flesh and blood – He redeems our flesh and blood.

The temple was God’s dwelling place.  We acknowledge Mary as God’s dwelling place as she carried him in her womb and presented him to the world.  What about us?  We are also God’s dwelling place.  We receive him in a very real way in the Eucharist and the other sacraments.  Now, our task is to present him to the world.  Mary brought the Light to those in darkness.  We must also bring Christ the Light to those in darkness until no one remains in the darkness.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pro-life homily

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Behold love.  Behold the one who offers himself as a gift so that we may have life and have it abundantly.  That is the definition of love.  And great saints have been imitating the love of Christ for 2,000 years.  They realized that love is sacrificing one’s own comfort for the good of another, and they imitated that love.  That sacrificial love of the Lamb of God is the Good News.

You and I are also called to imitate that sacrificial love.  Parents daily make sacrifices so their children may have life and have it abundantly.  There is nothing more beautiful.

But there’s bad news today.  Love’s opposite runs rampant in our land.  Some who get the news they are parents ask the child to sacrifice her life for the comfort of the parent.  On this Respect Life Sunday, we acknowledge that this is the opposite of love.  And it has been legal in our country for 41 years.  And it happens over 3,000 times a day.  Meanwhile married couples waiting to give sacrificial love through adoption continue waiting.

Today the words of Isaiah from our first reading have special meaning.  “Now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb.”  The Lord formed all of us to be His servants from the womb.  All of us have a unique task to serve the Lord and each other, no matter if we are wanted or unwanted in the womb.

No reason will ever justify taking the life of the child in the womb.  Some may say:  The mother is poor.  She can’t afford a child.  We don’t fight poverty by killing born people who are poor.  So we can’t fight poverty by killing unborn people who are poor.  It can’t happen anymore and we are the ones who have to stop it.

It is up to us to actively change the culture of death into a culture of life.  We can’t be shy about speaking up about the beauty of sacrificial love.  We have to get engaged in the battle for God’s most precious gift of life.  If we don’t know what to say, we have to find out what to say.  We can ask someone engaged in pro-life work how to get trained.

We have to let our politicians know we are pro-life, and killing the unborn is not acceptable.  It is our duty to let them know with our voice and with our vote. 

Now is the time to pray and act.  Please pray for our youth groups who are traveling to Washington for the March for Life on Wednesday.  I’m taking 21 students from Fenwick with 4 other chaperones.  These students will brave the severe cold to give a voice to those whose voice cannot yet be heard.  These students will make a sacrifice so that others may have life.  Their love encourages me.  More importantly, pray for the healing of those who suffer the wounds of past abortions.  Many of them were told lies.  Many of them were convinced they had no choice.  The burden of regret is becoming more well-known for both men and women.  Nobody needs to carry that burden.  The Lord will bring them to healing through his Church.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Religious Persecution Homily

“Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.”  These are words from our Lord in today’s gospel.  Persecution is guaranteed for the Christian.  Regarding persecution, the U.S. Bishops have issued a “Special Message” which they rarely do.  Furthermore, it has unanimous passage of the bishops.  I’m not sure how many but we have 265 active and 180 retired bishops in this country.  Archbishop Schnurr has asked priests to spread it far and wide.  It can be found in its entirety at www.catholiccincinnati.org or at http://www.thecatholictelegraph.com/american-bishops-issue-statement-on-hhs-contraceptive-mandate/16365

I read part of it at Mass today: “[T]he government is refusing to uphold its obligation to respect the rights of religious believers. Beginning in March 2012, in United for Religious Freedom, we identified three basic problems with the HHS mandate: it establishes a false architecture of religious liberty that excludes our ministries and so reduces freedom of religion to freedom of worship; it compels our ministries to participate in providing employees with abortifacient drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception, which violates our deeply-held beliefs; and it compels our faithful people in business to act against our teachings, failing to provide them any exemption at all.  Despite our repeated efforts to work and dialogue toward a solution, those problems remain. Not only does the mandate undermine our ministries’ ability to witness to our faith, which is their core mission, but the penalties it imposes also lay a great burden on those ministries, threatening their very ability to survive and to serve the many who rely on their care.”

The ministries that suffer are feeding the poor, healing the sick, educating the young.  If all the bishops of this country are correct—and I’d like to think they are—it brings to mind several questions:  What is the hold up? Why has this persecution been happening for over an year and a half?  Are we in denial that a persecution is actually happening?  Maybe this is why about a year ago Francis Cardinal George of Chicago said: “I will die in my bed. My successor will die in prison. His successor will be martyred.”  Back to the questions that come to mind: Is religious freedom not important any more?  It was important to our founding fathers.

We have had a major election since March of 2012 when all this started.  If Catholics are such a large voting block, why are the persecuting politicians still in office?  Have we willingly forfeited the very basic human right of religious freedom in exchange for a promise of handouts of temporal goods?  Is it too abstract?  I hope not.  It forces people to pay for the killing of human beings.  It forces people to pay for the very things that have been proven to destroy families over the last 50 years.

There is Good News:  Christ has a plan that works.  The challenge is the same:  Christ has a plan that works.  The evil one and the culture of death do not want us to bring about his plan.  The Lord tells us in today’s Gospel: “It will lead you to giving testimony.”  The message is countercultural, and Catholic Christians will have to act in a countercultural way.

I wanted to preach on vocations today.  The Archdiocese is celebrating Vocation Awareness Week.  I love preaching on vocations.  However, the more time I spent with this Gospel, the more I kept coming back to the Special Message of the Bishops.  It reminds me of the thing the bishops have been saying over the past year and a half:  We didn't ask for this fight.  We would rather not be in it.  We would rather be in the business of teaching, healing, feeding.

Are we up to the challenge of the Cross?  Are we up to giving the Christian testimony to the next generation by our example?  Christ has set the example for us.  Now we are to set the example.  Hopefully, the Lord’s words at the end of the Gospel will be consoling: “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives.”

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Catholics: Get active in politics.

It looks like there are currently three opportunities for faithful Catholics to participate in the political process right now.  We must get active.  Our voices must be heard in the public arena.  If our voices for the culture of life are not heard, only those of the culture of death will be heard.

1.  The United States House of Representatives has passed the Pain-Capable Abortion Ban.  This would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks, which is when scientific evidence shows babies in the womb are able to feel pain.  The bill has been introduced in the Senate.  One source reports that it would save about 18,000 lives per year.  This would be a nice incremental step in the right direction.  We would still have another million lives per year to save in this country.  We should contact our senators asking them to support the ban.

2. The Senate has passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which has been hanging around Washington for about the last 20 years.  The last news I heard was that John Boehner, Speaker of the House, was not going to allow it for a vote.  This is good news!  The Catholic Bishops of the United States oppose the bill because it would punish those who disapprove of sexual conduct outside of marriage.  We should contact Speaker Boehner asking him to hold firm in his decision not to allow the vote.  We should also contact our own representatives asking them to oppose the bill.

Be forewarned: One thing we will continue to hear from those in the culture of death is that the Church should not be concerned because churches, their offices, and parochial schools will be exempt.  This drives me crazy.  What about the Catholic business owner who wants to live his or her faith in the workplace?  Freedom of religion goes well beyond the 50 minutes we spend in church on Sundays.  We are called to have Christ as Dominus of our lives.  I use the Latin "Dominus" instead of the English "Lord" to show we should let Him dominate our lives.  I cannot take credit for that.  Fr. Robert Barron just said it about an hour ago in a speech in Philadelphia.

3. Cardinal Dolan recently sent a letter to John Boehner asking him for swift action on immigration reform.  We should support the efforts of the bishops as they strive to protect human dignity.  With our broken system the way it is, we end up with an unjust arrangement that makes it easy for human beings, made in God's image, to be exploited.  They deserve protection of the law from exploitation because they are made in God's image.  Then there are the issues of destruction and separation that happen to the family because of the current broken system.  We need policies for strong families because families are the building blocks of society.