Sunday, October 4, 2020

Historical Parallels

This homily: 28:00 - 34:30

The month of October is observed as Respect Life Month. And this first Sunday of October is Respect Life Sunday. Looking forward to this homily over the past few weeks, the Lord kept putting on my heart a certain parallel in American history. We have an existing pattern for overcoming evil. It takes a really long time but we have one.

We learned in elementary school that even before the existence of our country, some colonists practiced slavery, mostly in the south. Then at the founding of our republic, slavery continued to be legal in the south. It was considered the “law of the land.” However, many people knew it was wrong and fought against it.

This struggle against the evil of slavery continued. Eventually, it seemed like the country was divided in half. On one side were the citizens who knew slavery was wrong, and on the other side were those who thought it was OK.

Some, who knew it was wrong, continued to fight it and hearts were changed. Some people, who were in favor of slavery, had a conversion of heart and later fought to end it. Many of them found healing in Jesus Christ. And I imagine there were even those who owned slaves, who later repented, and also found healing in Jesus Christ.

During this time abolitionists were attacked. Some were killed. Priests were beaten up and killed for preaching against slavery. Suddenly, in the middle of this division, slavery became illegal overnight. But that was not the end of the story. Unjust laws based on race and segregation continued for another century. The culture and civil laws continued to tolerate racism. Some people were attacked and killed because of racial motives.

Then in the 1960s the unjust laws of segregation based on race were removed. But was this the end of the problem? No. There was still a culture of racial division. Hearts still needed to be changed.

There is some good news. The vast majority of Americans, almost everyone, looks back on our history with disbelief. We question: How could the evil of slavery have been legal, practiced and tolerated by so many for such a long time? Thanks be to God: Any politician trying to promote slavery would not be taken seriously and would be relegated to the fringe of society where they belong. Now, there is greater civility among people of all races compared to the past two centuries, but we are still not finished. Hearts still need to be changed in our own time.

Here’s the parallel the Lord has put on my heart: Slavery is a horrible sin, but it could easily be argued that abortion is worse, because an innocent victim’s life is taken. And even though it happens almost 3,000 times a day in this country, it stays hidden. We run the risk of thinking about the greatest evil of our time as an abstract political idea, if we think of it at all.

Notice the similarities in the pattern. In 1973 legalized abortion becomes the “law of the land” when Supreme Court Justices write that they don’t know when life begins. Many people knew it was wrong and began fighting against it.

Now, it seems like the country is divided in half. On one side are the citizens who know abortion is wrong, and on the other side are those who think it’s OK. Some, who know it is wrong, continue to fight it and hearts are changed. Some people, who were previously in favor of abortion, have a conversion of heart and begin the fight to end it. Many of them found healing in Jesus Christ. There are even those who had abortions themselves, and those who performed them, who later repented, and found healing in Jesus Christ. Their stories of healing are the best witnesses of God’s love I have ever heard. Abby Johnson and Dr. Bernard Nathanson come to mind.

I always say in homilies on this topic, mention of the Church’s healing ministries is super important. We are deeply sorry that our sisters in Christ bought the lie of the culture. We do everything we can to bring them to healing and wholeness. And, in love, we promote awareness so no one else will experience this deep sorrow of lost parenthood.

Let’s continue with our pattern of comparison. People fighting to abolish abortion are attacked. Some are killed. Some priests are afraid to preach against it. Some who do are attacked for it. Sadly, about half of our politicians still promote it. But one day, it will be abolished. But will that be the end? No, hearts still have to be changed.

We look forward to that day in the future when Americans will look back on our history with disbelief and question: How could the evil of abortion have been legal, promoted and tolerated by so many for such a long time?

We get our orders from the readings today. The Lord expects good fruit from us in the vineyard. As faithful Catholics, we love the vulnerable. This means we do all we can to help mothers choose life. We do all we can to change unjust laws. In an election year, we have an awesome responsibility. What will be the fruit of our faith?

Thursday, July 2, 2020


How much have we heard about these tragedies, all of which should never happen?

Extremely Tragic: One day George Floyd was killed by those who were equipped to protect him.

Most Tragic: Every day 3,000 innocent Americans are killed by those who are equipped to protect them.

Imagine the protests if people knew the reality of abortion:
While blacks are 13% of the American population, blacks are 36% of the victims of abortion. Why aren't there protests that innocent black people are targeted by the abortion industry three times as much as others? Why does Planned Parenthood put their abortion facilities in walking distance of minority neighborhoods? Their founder was Margaret Sanger, known racist and eugenicist.

Monday, May 18, 2020

A Coronavirus Opportunity: What is Mass?

Yesterday, I celebrated my 12th anniversary as a priest. Thanks for your prayers! When I was a newly ordained priest, I began my first assignment as parochial vicar to a new pastor who had only been a priest for two years. He told me a story in his previous assignment where a parishioner told him she liked his Masses better than the other priest. I expected he was about to tell me how good this made him feel. However, he surprised me that he told the lady that she just gave him the biggest insult she could give a priest. His vocation was to facilitate an encounter with Christ, not to be the center of attention. Once the priest became the focus, it was all over.

The current tragedy of the faithful being away from Mass has given members of the Church the opportunity to ponder many things that we seem to do second nature or take for granted. For example, my Archbishop has asked that all priests offer private Mass daily while public Mass is suspended. A private Mass may or may not have anyone else there assisting. It has been a great reminder that the vast majority of the words of the Mass are spoken in prayer to the Heavenly Father while very few are spoken to the people in the assembly. Mass is prayer and worship offered to God, not an opportunity for me to interact with the congregation. However, since priests were ordered to face the people during Mass in the wake of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, more emphasis has been placed on the priest’s ability to engage with the assembly. Before the Council, priest and assembly were all facing the same direction in a procession of sorts toward the glory of the returning Christ in the liturgical east, symbolized by the rising sun. Much like a pilot in an aircraft with the passengers behind him, or a guide, leading pilgrims through the fire swamp to the glory of freedom on the other side, it would not make sense for the priest to face the people the whole time. Joseph Ratzinger treats liturgical direction very well in his book Spirit of the Liturgy.

With the priest facing the people, we now have a closed circle. While it can be a legitimate arrangement for prayer, it lacks the sense of a procession with direction that we would have with everyone facing the same direction: priest and people. This article points out the closed circle at least has something of a human symbol. Now with all the live-streamed Masses happening, there isn’t even that. It’s a priest facing a camera, often times with his back to the crucifix and the tabernacle.

Whether we speak of Mass with an assembly or those live-streamed, we would be wise to take caution in entering into a cult of personality around a charismatic priest who is found extremely “engaging.” Are we having an emotional encounter with the priest because of his stories, jokes, and the emotional high we achieved? Or, is he a faceless man that leads me to an authentic encounter with Christ? What are we coming to Mass to see, hear, encounter? The right answer to all of these is that which is invisible, inaudible and veiled in the mysteries of the sacraments. At my live-streamed Masses, I have been fortunate enough to have a crucifix on the altar in front of me, and beyond the crucifix is the tabernacle in the middle of the nave, temporarily, thus giving me the ideal of liturgical east. The camera is off to the side somewhere.

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Ultimate Loophole

I kept pondering the loophole as I wrote most of this post on January 23rd. We sadly commemorated Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton the day before with the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. The following day I left the house at 3 AM for the March for Life. During this time of year, we get the opportunity to hear and read more about the pro-life movement and its rival: the culture of death.
One thing that continues to befuddle me is that so many adults buy into the loophole mentality. Almost every adult human can reason the point, and agrees, it is wrong to kill another human being. We vastly agree: All humans must avoid killing other humans; and those who kill other humans should be punished greatly. Yet, in the 21st Century, about half of adult humans are at least sometimes OK with killing the unborn. This is the ultimate loophole. The loophole says: If you get the killing done while she's in the womb, then it's not wrong like killing someone outside the womb.
We rightly lament the fact that throughout the history of humanity, people have invented all sorts of devices for killing other humans. In the loophole mentality, the instruments to kill the unborn are still OK because once again the loophole says: If you get the killing done while she's in the womb, then it's not wrong like killing someone outside the womb.
She is the same human being, whether inside the womb or outside.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Wake Up!

I love this theme of "Wake Up!"
If taken far enough, perhaps it could bring about the real change of direction we need in the world. It seems that many in the culture want to attack the symptom without addressing the underlying pathology. Why are so many surprised that unstable people act out in violence when they were raised playing violent video games living in the culture of death? We now have two generations of people who were raised with abortion on demand being the "law of the land." If the lives of the unborn are disposable, why would we expect respect for the born.?
Perhaps we will wake up a sleeping giant of common sense and respect.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Autonomy is the new god of the culture of death

Alyssa Milano says she is happy and joyful about her decisions to have two abortions in this article:

My response is the classic: "Me thinks she protesteth too much." I am not convinced of her having any joy and fulfillment as a result of two abortions in order to organize her career. As a matter of fact, it seems she is trying to convince herself more than she is trying to convince me, the reader.

I agree we have to pray for Alyssa Milano and all those who buy into the lie that radical autonomy is a human right. Belly buttons are proof of that. We also need to invite her to repent and come back home to the Church where she will find true and lasting joy in a life of love and service.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Culture War (follow up)

I used the phrase "radical autonomy" in my previous post "Culture War" pointing out the goal of the pro-abortion movement. This article shows that Alyssa Milano admits it on twitter but uses the phrase "bodily autonomy." This is the new gnosticism. It means you decide to do whatever you want with your body and never deal with the bodily consequences of that decision. Of course, this is contrary to reason. You can decide to do the thing that makes babies, but if a baby is made, you can kill the baby as long as you do it before she is born. Of course that is also contrary to reason as the location or size of the human being does not provide her worth. We need to change hearts and change laws to protect the unborn. Thank you Governor DeWine and the Ohio legislature for passing the heartbeat bill!