Sunday, September 15, 2019

24th Sunday of OT Year C Homily

Every pope and bishop has a pectoral cross. The one that is currently worn by Pope Francis is based upon today’s Gospel passage. In the middle of this cross we see Jesus who is the Good Shepherd. Here He has found the lost sheep and now has it placed it gently upon His shoulders. He is surrounded by the flock of sheep which have stayed obediently by His side. At the top of the cross we see a dove which represents to us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is found helping those who are lost and in darkness in order that they may be brought to new life.

To go in search of the one lost sheep does not mean that we are to abandon our faith, our teachings, and our morals in order to make them happy. To go in search for the lost sheep is to bring the fullness of faith to others in order that they may be snatched up by the truth of the Gospel message. As a Church we need to learn to walk with those who are astray in order that we may assist them in coming back into the flock of Christ’s Church on earth.

Between the years 2000 and 2009 10.1% of adults Catholics have left the Church. The reasons given: life is too busy, they don’t understand the Church’s teachings, scandals, they have married someone of a different faith tradition, they are looking for a more vibrant church life, and it is simply easier to become Protestant. When it comes to young adults 50% no longer practice their faith. It has been said that fallen away Catholics may be America’s largest Christian denomination.

These are troubling numbers, but at the same time they must remind us that we have a lot of work to do in the abundant harvest of the Lord. These numbers tell me that the faithful need to educate themselves better upon the Church’s teachings. These numbers tell me that we have done a poor job when it comes to educating others concerning the reality of the Eucharist. If one comes to believe that the Eucharist is truly Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divnity there would be no reason to leave the Church.

No matter how small or large a parish may be we very much so are a missionary people. We cannot allow ourself to become complacent. After all, it was at the Great Commission that Jesus said unto His disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” We do this in the words that we proclaim with our lips and we do this through the actions that we accomplish. Hopefully these words and deeds do not detract from the Gospel message, but invite others to partake of it.

The disciples could of never of become a missionary people if they did not first know Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to come into their life. With that I invite you to enter fully into the study of your faith, to enter fully into the silence of prayer (especially by filling the empty hours in our Adoration Chapel), and to participate fully with the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It is a great error to see the dismissal of the Mass as its conclusion. Rather the dismissal is an invitation to take what we have received into the world and live it. Here we come to commune with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. From that exchange we are sent into the world to “proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

Monday, September 9, 2019

Bulletin Article: September 8

Next Sunday our parish will hold a Communications Fair following each Mass. The purpose of this fair is to make people aware of the many ways that we communicate at our parish. I thank our Communications Committee for organizing this event and also thank them for their continued willingness to assist in this area. If you would like to volunteer to assist this committee please speak to one of the committee members at the Communications Fair or contact them at the communications email found in the bulletin.

Also, please keep in mind that we will have a Parish Town Hall scheduled for September 9 in the school gym. A pot luck meal will begin at 5:30pm with the town hall starting at 6:30pm and ending at 7:30pm. It is my hope that all will come to this event and work together for achieving the common goal of growing our parish community in number and holiness. This will be the perfect place to ask questions, bring ideas, brainstorm, and work together to reach this common goal. The topics of this town hall will be used as future agenda items for our pastoral council meetings and can lead to other serious discussions into the future.

I also want to make you aware that planning for our Fall Festival is underway. This event will be held October 26. Please get it onto your calendars and spread the word among your family and friends. If you would like to volunteer to help please contact the parish office. 

In Christ,
Fr. Dustin Collins

Sunday, September 8, 2019

13th Sunday After Pentecost Homily

On this 8th day of the month of September we come to celebrate with great joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast falls precisely 9 months following the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception which is celebrated on the 8th day of December. This celebration of our Blessed Mother’s birth further prepares the way for the Lord’s coming. With every celebration of Mary we draw close to our Blessed Lord and the mysteries of His life, death, and resurrection. With this in mind may we come to further develop Marian devotion in our life.

It was at the time of Mary’s birth that the whole world was plunged into darkness. Throughout the world sin reigned, but with Mary’s birth a great light began to shine forth for she was born who would usher in the coming of the Messiah. Likewise, we must grow in our Marian devotion for through devotion to her the darkness of sin is pushed away as we begin to more perfectly orient our sight upon Christ.

Our Gospel reminds us that we are sick and that we are in need of the Divine Physician who is Christ our Lord. Ten lepers came to Him in order that they may be healed. Nevertheless, only one of these ten returned to give thanks for this miracle that had been worked. Of this man it was said: “Arise, go thy way; for thy faith hath made thee whole.” This man like the other nine had been healed, but he is the only one who was said to be made whole. His faith in the Lord brought him back to give thanks and here we can see he was not only bodily healed, but his soul came to be healed.

We too need to realize that the Lord is merciful with us. We need to realize that we are sick and He is the Divine Physician who is able to make us whole. We can go through the motions of our faith, but better yet we should practice our faith with the fullest intention which we are able to give. The Sacraments bestow grace upon the receiver, but do we in return truly want to participate with the grace that we are given? This one leper who returned to give thanks to God desired to participate with this divine font of grace.

As those who live in the midst of the world we should fear not to participate in this same font of divine grace. We must be willing to realize that our practice of faith is not a simple check off list, but is to enter into truth itself. When we encounter the sacraments we encounter Christ and His love for us. Do we fathom the great that we have been given or do we take it for granted? I see so many who receive our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion and rush out the door as if they have received nothing of importance. These people are in such a hurry that they forget that the one they have received is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Take not advantage of this Sacrament, but kneel down in trembling and adoration of the great gift that has been given.

Despite the sin that had been plunged upon this leper it was Christ who made him whole again. Likewise, despite the darkness of sin and death may we allow Christ to be the one who makes us whole again. Our Blessed Mother on this her birthday singnals this reality unto us. From her birth will eventually come a great light which will dispel the darkness of sin and open the way to our salvation.

23rd Sunday of OT Year C Homily

As a reminder today is September 8th which is normally celebrated on our calendar as the Nativity of the Blessed Mother. Due to this memorial falling on a Sunday it is not celebrated in our liturgy, but still remains an important day. May we continue to set our sight upon our Blessed Mother and allow her to intercede for us in order that we may strive to follow after her towards the Kingdom of Heaven.

Saint Paul’s Epistle to Philemon introduces us to the figure of Onesimus. Onesimus is probably not someone who we are very familiar with. Nevertheless, Onesimus has since has been canonized a saint of the Church, he is held as being a bishop of Ephesus, and his life reached its conclusion through the reward of martyrdom. 

This name, Onesimus, means “useful” in Greek. This is interesting because in the one verse missing from our Epistle verse 11 we are told that he: “was once useless to you but is now useful to [both] you and me.” Saint Paul interestingly chooses this play on words concerning Onesimus. He calls the one whose name literally means “useful” useless.

Now we must ask why Onesimus was once useless, but now useful. Onesimus was useless because he was originally a slave for an earthly master, but through his conversion he became a slave for God. Through the intercession of Saint Onesimus I hope that we too will grow in being useful by letting go of all that holds us as slaves to way of the world. It is only though Christ Jesus that we are converted and can live.

The Gospel of Saint Luke presents us with this challenge. In it Christ reminds us of the importance of carrying the cross and following after Him. In it Christ reminds us of the importance of renouncing all in order that we may follow after Him. For whatever reason Onesimus heard this call and chose to embrace it. We have heard this invitation given to us on many occasions, but do we ever take these words to heart?

The more that we become enslaved to the ways of the world the more useless that we become. We can only become useful in so far as we come to know Christ. Through coming to know Christ we are liberated from all those holds us hostage. Through coming to know Christ we realize the importance of the sacrificial offering upon the cross and desire to orient our sight there in order to find meaning and healing in the midst of our own life.

Onesimus came to understand all of this. From this understanding he came to believe and came to have true faith. From this encounter with the truth he was sent into the world as an evangelist for Christ Jesus. In like manner, we too must come to believe and have true faith. From this encounter with our Lord in Holy Communion we too are sent into the world to bring others to come and know the Good News of Christ Jesus.

Saint Onesimus, pray for us.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

St. Mary Men Evening of Recollection I: Holiness in Everyday Life

It is easy for us to become a pacifist in the midst of the Church. What I mean here is that it is easy for us to not see holiness as something that we are called to in our everyday life. Sometimes when a lay person thinks of this call to holiness they instead think that it is a call which has been reserved to the clergy alone. Well I am here to tell you that the call to holiness is not reserved to the clergy alone, but instead to all of us for we are all to strive towards holiness. All of us are to strive to be saints. 

The universal call to holiness was not something that was new at the time of the Second Vatican Council. Nevertheless, it was something that the Second Vatican Council was highly concerned with. The document to take this up in detail is known to us as Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Here we are told: “it pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness.” This document would later say this of the universal call to holiness: “Therefore in the Church, everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: "For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”

This my fervent hope concerning our time together that each of us strive for “the will of God, your sanctification.” Here there will be an opportunity for reflection in our faith, the cleansing of our sins through confession, an opportunity for fraternity, and most of all an opportunity to sit in the Presence of our Lord who is present with us Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Through the various topics which I brought up here through the course of time we will delve more and more into this call to holiness for all of this is intertwined.

As Pope Francis reminded in a General Audience given in 2014: “Holiness is a gift, it is a gift that the Lord Jesus gives us, when He takes us to Himself, and renders us like Himself.” Here we must remember that if we are to become holy that we must grow to know Christ. The more that we grow in faith in Him the more that we grow in this universal call. This is why we must make use of reflection, prayer, confession, and Most Holy Eucharist enter into our life if we in return can grow in this universal call. Some, those filled with pride, believe that they can do without this. To those I remark if we do not enter into the full sacramental life of the Church this is an impossibility.

Now when we think of holiness sometimes we think that this requires us to do something which is impossible. Saint Josemaria Escriva summed things up perfectly in the words of this homily: “There is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it. There is no other way, my daughters and sons: either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or we shall never find Him.”

It is with this that I continue to challenge each of you to find way to search out holiness in your everyday life. Moving forward with these Evening of Recollections we will spend our time with this being the line of our focus.