Sunday, September 4, 2011

Homily recordings move ...

Effective today and moving forward, the audio recordings of my Sunday and Holy Day homilies will be posted on our parish website rather than on this blog. We recently (two days ago!) launched a redesigned parish website that now allows mp3 files to be uploaded and posted directly to the site rather than going through a third party. I hope to return this blog to more regular reflections moving forward, but to find homily recordings, visit here:

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church - Homilies

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Homily for the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Jeremiah 20.7-9 Psalm 63 Romans 12.1-2 Matthew 16.21-27

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

We can be faster, higher, and stronger – not in comparison to others, but through the grace of God, in reaching for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Liturgical Catechesis Homilies

Over the past several months, I have preached an ongoing series of homilies on liturgical catechesis in preparation for the implementation of the English translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, coming to Catholic churches in the United States on November 27, 2011. These homilies have not dealt with the Roman Missal directly as much as they have been on the liturgy in general, helping us understand and appreciate the Mass more and more. Below are collected links to audio (mp3) recordings of all of these homilies. They were recorded at Sunday Masses at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in New Albany, Indiana, and include the gospel reading of that day along with the homily itself. As we begin to make final preparations for the implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, my hope is that we can continue to explore the beauty and richness of the Mass in the life of the Catholic Church.

The Mass as Source and Summit of our Faith (8th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A)

The Structure of the Mass: The Pattern of Emmaus (Third Sunday of Easter, Year A)

The Sign of the Cross (Ascension of the Lord, Year A)

The Penitential Act (First Sunday of Lent, Year A)

The Breaking of the Bread (18th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A)

The Blood of Christ (Holy Thursday, text only - no audio)

The Final Blessing (Second Sunday of Lent, Year A)

Liturgical Hospitality (Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A)

The Trinity and the Liturgy (The Most Holy Trinity, Year A)

The Eucharist Stays the Same (The Body and Blood of Christ, Year A)

Full, Conscious, and Active Participation in the Mass (19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A)

The Richness of the Roman Missal (21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Richness of the Roman Missal

Homily for the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 22.19-23 Psalm 128 Romans 11.33-36 Matthew 16.13-20

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily, part of a series of liturgical catechesis in preparation for the implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.

Same Mass ... Different Words ... Deeper Meaning

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tearing Down Walls

Homily for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 56.1, 6-7 Psalm 67 Romans 11.13-15, 29-32 Matthew 15.21-28

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

Fifty years ago Saturday, a concrete wall covered with barbed wire was erected in the middle of Berlin, Germany. For almost thirty years, this wall separating communist East Germany from democratic West Germany was a symbol for the whole world of the deep divisions that had been created by different views of power, government, economy, and even religion. And even though the wall was toppled over twenty years ago, there are still deep divisions in our world – new ways that we continue to separate ourselves from one another. From the violent reaction to a multi-cultural Norway to the famines in Africa that widen the gap between the poor and the rich, the starving and the well-fed – it might seem like that the literal and figurative walls of separation are growing longer, higher, and stronger all over the world.

Our challenge and our call as Christians is to recognize where these walls exist and find a way around them. Scripture could not be any clearer … in Isaiah, “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples;” … in Romans, God shows his mercy to all people, Jew and Gentile; … in Matthew, Jesus recognizes the faith of a foreign woman, greater faith from this outsider than from many of the insiders he had encountered. Our Church is a catholic Church, which means that it is universal – for all people – because God is for all people. Regardless of politics, or convenience, or economy, or personal preference – our challenge and call as Christians is to be a people that has no divisions, a people that welcomes everyone, a people that does not create walls to keep people out, or to keep people in. Because God does not build walls; He tears them down. God doesn’t separate people based on income, race, or country of origin; He brings people together. And we must do the same thing.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Participating in the Mass - Body, Mind, and Spirit

Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
1 Kings 19.9a, 11-13a Psalm 85 Romans 9.1-5 Matthew 14.22-33

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

What does it mean to participate in Mass? – say the responses, sing the music, pay attention to what’s going on? When we come to the Mass, we are called to participate fully, consciously, and actively. Why? Because it’s the best way we know to encounter God.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Breaking of the Body of Christ

Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 55.1-3 Psalm 145 Romans 8.35, 37-39 Matthew 14.13-21

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

When we're broken, Jesus doesn’t necessarily put all the pieces back together; sometimes he does, but sometimes he refashions the pieces and forms them into something new, something that we never would have imagined before.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Solomon and Harry Potter

Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
1 Kings 3.5, 7-12 Psalm 119 Romans 8.28-30 Matthew 13.44-52

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

The greatest temptation of the modern world is believing that we can conquer death on our own – that we don’t need God and we don’t need anyone else. The ultimate message of the Harry Potter books and movies is that love wins, and the love of family and friends is the only thing that is lasting in life. The Christian gospel takes that one step further – God is love, and the one who shows us ultimately what it means to have sacrificial love is Jesus Christ.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Listening to the Wisdom of God

Homily for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Wisdom 12.13, 16-19 Psalm 86 Romans 8.26-27 Matthew 13.24-43

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

We are so inundated with information, that this information starts to shape how we think – act – live. And if the information we see and hear and absorb day after day is filled with hatred, judgment, division, and stubbornness – well, then we’re going to start thinking and acting and living the same way. How can we sort out the wheat from the weeds – truth from fiction – good from evil?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Seeds, Soil, and the Sower

Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 55.10-11 Psalm 65 Romans 8.18-23 Matthew 13.1-23

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

Where do you fit into this parable? Are you like the seeds? Or are you like the soil, and if so, what kind of soil? Or are you like the sower?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Eucharist Stays the Same

Homily for The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year A
Deuteronomy 8.2-3, 14b-16a Psalm 147 1 Corinthians 10.16-17 John 6.51-58

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

There is one thing that has always been at the heart of the Mass, no matter the language, the time, or the place –bread and wine are taken, blessed and consecrated, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to become the Body and Blood of Christ – the Bread of Life and the Cup of Eternal Salvation. It is this Eucharist that has strengthened and supported the Church each and every day since Christ gave it to us. The same Eucharist that has become present at every Mass in every place in every time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Paying Attention to the Trinity

Homily for The Most Holy Trinity, Year A
Exodus 34.4b-6, 8-9 Daniel 3 2 Corinthians 13.11-13 John 3.16-18

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

Especially if you’re not used to the Catholic Mass, it’s almost like the Church has designed the Mass knowing that people’s minds wander, that we get distracted, that we might even be bored, and that chances are pretty good that at least once during each and every Mass we go to, we’re going to be caught not paying attention.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Holy Spirit and Change

Homily for Pentecost Sunday, Year A
Acts 2.1-11 Psalm 104 1 Corinthians 12.3b-7, 12-13 John 20.19-23

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

The Holy Spirit is God’s gift
To keep us grounded
To help us navigate the waters of change
To help us adapt

To strengthen us
To reassure us
To give us hope
To guide us in the right direction

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Sign of the Cross

Homily for the Ascension of the Lord, Year A
Acts 1.1-11 Psalm 47 Ephesians 1.17-23 Matthew 28.16-20

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

This homily is part of an occasional series of liturgical catechesis in preparation for the implementation of the English translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.

When we walk into a church and use holy water to mark ourselves with the sign of the cross, we’re supposed to remember that we have been baptized – each of us, individually. And then when the Mass begins and the priest leads the assembly in making the sign of the cross, he uses the name of God in which we were baptized – the formula Jesus himself gave us as he ascended into heaven – the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And once again, we’re supposed to think about baptism.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Spirituality of Travel

Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 8.5-8, 14-17 Psalm 66 1 Peter 3.15-18 John 14.15-21

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

Would you like to take a trip to Samaria? It’s Memorial Day weekend – summer is here – which means it’s time to travel – to take a vacation – to visit family and friends – to get away from it all – or, if you’re not planning on going anywhere, then someone is surely coming here – to visit you, or to visit your town, your church, your local park. But would you like to join Peter and John on their trip to Samaria, or do you have your own plans?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Heaven on Earth

Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 6.1-7 Psalm 33 1 Peter 2.4-9 John 14.1-12

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

We have a long way to go – as individuals and as a human race. But the more each of us can follow Jesus – the way, the truth, and the life – the more earth will be like heaven, and the more ready we will be whenever that day comes and Jesus comes back to take us to the place he has prepared.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Bible Guarantees It

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 2.14a, 36-41 Psalm 23 1 Peter 2.20b-25 John 10.1-10

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

So what do we know for sure? What is guaranteed? That Jesus is Lord. That he is life and resurrection, the way and the truth. That he gives us his Body and Blood. That he died and rose from the dead for our salvation. That the world will know his followers by the love they show one another; the proud will be punished; but God forgives our sins. And we know for certain that the Lord will come again.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Pattern of Emmaus

Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 2.14, 22-33 Psalm 16 1 Peter 1.17-21 Luke 24.13-35

This homily is part of an occasional series of homilies on liturgical catechesis in preparation for the implementation of the English translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

If we say that the Last Supper was the first Eucharist, then what happened on the road to Emmaus and in that city close to Jerusalem was the first complete Mass as we know it today. Because the Mass is not just about receiving communion, although that is its high point. The Mass has a structure – an order – a ritual – that we see for the first time in a Christian context on the road to Emmaus.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sitting in Front of the Resurrection

Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 2.42-47 Psalm 118 1 Peter 1.3-9 John 20.19-31

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

The Christian story is a story told in the image of a frail, elderly man – unable to walk on his own – sitting in the shadow of the resurrection, a reminder that death has been conquered – pain and sorrow have been vanquished – sin has been destroyed – now, in this life, and in the life to come. We may not be able to see it clearly, but this we believe – because God himself has promised us.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Witnesses, not Spectators

Homily for Easter Sunday, Year A
Acts 10.34a, 37-43 Psalm 118 Colossians 3.1-4 Matthew 28.1-10

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) version of this homily.

If you believe the news these days, the most important thing going on in the world is the upcoming royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Now, I don’t always believe the news, and it seems to me that there are many more pressing issues in our world than a spectacularly planned display of pomp and circumstance in Westminster Abbey. But for whatever reasons, royal weddings have always captured the hearts and imaginations of people all over the world. And it’s hard to ignore all the hype.

One official this week talked about the attitude of people who watch or take part in the royal wedding. He said, “We have to be witnesses in an active sense: the kind of witnesses who really support what's going on. To be a witness is more than to be a spectator, and I hope that'll be part of people's experience at the time of the wedding.” (Archbishop Rowan Williams, quoted in Episcopal News Service, And believe it or not, today’s celebration of Easter should about the same thing.

It’s so easy for us Christians to be spectators. It’s so easy for us to look at things like the death and resurrection of Jesus, even saying that we believe in them, as if we’re watching TV or a movie; we think for a moment about Jesus, then we move on with our lives. It’s so easy for us to hear the commands to love one another and think, I really should do that, and sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. It’s so easy for us to come to church, sit and stand and kneel, maybe sing along on some of the songs, watch what’s going on in the sanctuary, and then go back to our daily lives, and nothing’s changed. We’re spectators, not witnesses.

Think of what it would have been like if Peter and Mary Magdalene and all the others had only been spectators at the resurrection, watching what happened, and then getting back to their lives. We certainly wouldn’t be here today. But they weren’t spectators – they were witnesses. A witness tells other people what they saw. Peter and Mary Magdalene were so transformed by witnessing the resurrection of Jesus that they spread the good news – they ran to tell people about it. And those people told others, who told others, all the way to us today who heard about the resurrection through someone else.

It’s probably true that the royal wedding will get more news coverage this week than any Christian celebrations of Easter. But what really matters is what happens in personal relationships and in people’s hearts, not in the media. We can be witnesses to what we have seen and heard today – witnesses to new life through Jesus Christ – witnesses to a God who loves us more than we can imagine – witnesses to love and forgiveness and peace in a world desperately in need of God. And that witnessing will really transform the world.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blood of Christ, Fill All My Veins

Homily for the Mass of the Lord's Supper, Holy Thursday
Exodus 12.1-8, 11-14 Psalm 116 1 Corinthians 11.23-26 John 13.1-15

Tonight’s Mass is one of the few times when the Church tells the priest specifically what he is supposed to preach on. It’s right in the Sacramentary – the official book of prayers used at the Mass. So you’d think that putting together a homily for Holy Thursday would be pretty easy and straightforward. Here’s what we – the priests – are supposed to do – and what you are supposed to hear: “The homily should explain the principal mysteries which are commemorated in this Mass: the institution of the eucharist, the institution of the priesthood, and Christ’s commandment of brotherly love.” That’s all. No big deal. Just explain the greatest mysteries of the faith in one, brief homily. Pretty simple. But not really.

To help tie all this together, there’s an image that is woven throughout our Scripture readings tonight – and really all during this Holy Week. It’s the image of blood.

Think back to tonight’s first reading from the Book of Exodus. The Israelites are told to take the blood of the Passover lamb and put it on the lintel of their doors and their doorposts. The Israelites were familiar with using blood in ritual ceremonies; animal blood was used to cleanse and purify people or things, to set them aside as holy – claimed by God. And so the blood on their doorposts also marked them – set them apart – as God’s children.

Then think of the Responsorial Psalm; it too talks about blood, but in a different way. We sang that the cup we drink is a sharing – a communion – in the blood of Christ. This Eucharist, this meal unites us to Jesus Christ himself through his blood. It’s the same in the second reading from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians – Jesus speaks of the blood of a new covenant, a covenant that God has made with us, his people; a covenant that establishes a relationship between us and God, a relationship that is based in the blood of Christ.

But now think back to a passage we heard earlier this week, on Palm Sunday, from the Passion Narrative according to St. Matthew. Here, too, we hear about blood – Christ’s blood – but in a way that is often misunderstood. There is a line in Matthew’s Passion Narrative, when Jesus is on trial before Pilate, and certain representatives of the Jewish people cry out: “His blood be upon us and our children” (Mt. 27.25). This verse has been used by some people to put responsibility for the death of Jesus on the Jewish people. But that’s really a misunderstanding of what is being said. Remember how the Jewish people thought of blood – it was not used for vengeance or punishment, it was a sign of purification and cleansing. It was a sign of being set apart – claimed by God. And in the light of the gospel, the blood of Christ takes on an even deeper meaning.

Pope Benedict reminds us that the blood of Christ is a sign of love; the blood of Christ has been poured out for us in love and has marked us a children of God. (See Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. II: Holy Week, Ignatius Press 2011, p. 187-188) Jesus was handed over to death for our sake. His blood is more precious than anything else in the whole world because it shows how much he loves us. And we all need that love; we cannot cleanse ourselves; we cannot purify ourselves; we cannot save ourselves – Christ must do it for us. As followers of Christ, we are proud to say that the Blood of Christ is upon us, and we hope and pray that it will be upon our children as well; because it is only through the Blood of Christ that we are saved.

So think now of those things we remember on Holy Thursday. Tonight, we remember the institution of the Eucharist – the gift of sharing in the blood of Christ. When we eat Christ’s body and drink his blood, we share in his life; Jesus’ blood runs in our veins. The more we receive the Eucharist, the more Christ lives in us and we live in him. Tonight we remember the institution of the Priesthood. As priests we have the humble privilege of bringing the Eucharist to the world. By a power not our own, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, we make the Blood of Christ present today. And everything that we do reminds the world that we cannot save ourselves; only the Blood of Christ can save us. And tonight we remember the command to love one another as Christ loves us. And how does he love us? – to the point of death. True Christ-like love is being willing to lay down your life for another. True Christ-like love is being willing to shed our blood for our fellow human beings, because Christ has shed his blood for us.

That’s who we are as Christians – men and women saved by the Blood of Christ, gathered together around a table to share a meal through which that same blood runs in our veins, giving us the strength and the courage to love all people so much that we are willing to shed our blood for them, because Christ has already shed his blood for us.

A 14th Century prayer says it well. It’s called the Anima Christi and was translated by Blessed John Henry Newman into English.

Soul of Christ, be my sanctification;
Body of Christ, be my salvation;
Blood of Christ, fill all my veins;
Water of Christ's side, wash out my stains;
Passion of Christ, my comfort be;
O good Jesus, listen to me;
In Thy wounds I fain would hide;
Ne'er to be parted from Thy side;
Guard me, should the foe assail me;
Call me when my life shall fail me;
Bid me come to Thee above,
With Thy saints to sing Thy love.

May the Blood of Christ – this night and always – be upon us, upon our children, and upon the whole world.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Who are you in the Passion Narrative?

Click here to listen to or download an audio recording of the Proclamation of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Matthew.

From a Homily by St. Gregory Nazianzan
"If you are a Simon of Cyrene, take up your cross and follow Christ. If you are crucified beside him like one of the thieves, now, like the good thief, acknowledge your God. For your sake, and because of your sin, Christ himself was regarded as a sinner; for his sake, therefore, you must cease to sin. Worship him who was hung on the cross because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself. Derive some benefit from the very shame; purchase salvation with your death. Enter paradise with Jesus, and discover how far you have fallen. Contemplate the glories there, and leave the other scoffing thief to die outside in his blasphemy.

"If you are a Joseph of Arimathea, go to the one who ordered his crucifixion, and ask for Christ’s body. Make your own the expiation for the sins of the whole world. If you are a Nicodemus, like the man who worshipped God by night, bring spices and prepare Christ’s body for burial. If you are one of the Marys, or Salome, or Joanna, weep in the early morning. Be the first to see the stone rolled back, and even the angels perhaps, and Jesus himself."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Miracle of the Seeds

Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A
Ezekiel 37.12-14 Psalm 130 Romans 8.8-11 John 11.1-45

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

No matter how long our hearts have been dormant – God can breathe new life into us and give us the grace we need to be loving and compassionate to everyone we meet. No matter how much time we have spent gratifying our own desires and turning away from our faith, God can set us on the right path and give us the guidance and strength we need to trust in him. Miracles happen every day. And there is nothing more miraculous than life coming from death.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Liturgical Hospitality

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A
1 Samuel 16.1b, 6-7, 10-13a Psalm 23 Ephesians 5.8-14 John 9.1-41

Click here
to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

I wonder today, how can we be more inclusive? How can we open our eyes to see Christ in all people, not just the people we’re used to? How can we remove our blindness to people who will look to us for a reflection of God’s love?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Face to Face Encounter

Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year A
Exodus 17.3-7 Psalm 95 Romans 5.1-2, 5-8 John 4.5-42

Click here
to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

There is no technology or app that can take the place of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. He wants to meet us in person, face to face, to give us what we need to follow him.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sent Forth by God's Blessing

Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent
Genesis 12.1-4a Psalm 33 2 Timothy 1.8b-10 Matthew 17.1-9

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

Blessings ask God to be with us and guide us in whatever we are undertaking. So the blessing at the end of Mass is really not a signal that the Mass is over, but a blessing over all the people who will be taking the presence of Christ into the world, the people who have listened to God’s word, reflected on how God is calling them to live, have been strengthened by the community, and are now sent forth on a mission – a mission to live as disciples of Christ.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What do you do with silence?

Homily for the First Sunday of Lent, Year A
Genesis 2.7-9; 3.1-7 Psalm 51 Romans 5.12-19 Matthew 4.1-11

There’s a lot that can happen in the short moment of silence at the beginning of Mass. If we know what it’s about – if we’re ready for it – and if we’ve gotten in the habit of reflecting on our personal relationship with God and our relationships with other people – if we use that silence to remember God’s love and mercy for us, always, then we’ll be in good shape spiritually for the rest of the Mass.

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Cross of Ashes

Homily for Ash Wednesday, Year A
Joel 2.12-18 Psalm 51 2 Corinthians 5.20-6.2 Matthew 6.1-6, 16-18

These 40 days of Lent are a time to remember that we are not God, but that we desperately need God's grace, and we need to transform our lives day by day to become the people God has called us to be. The simple cross of ashes placed on our foreheads tells us everything we need to know about who we are, who God is, and how we are called to live.

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preparing for the Roman Missal: Schema for Liturgical Catechesis

As of today, there are 264 days until the implementation of the English translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal!

Many of us who have been preparing for this implementation are hoping to be able to make it a time of general liturgical catechesis - helping people understand what the Mass is all about and why we do what we do. This can be done in homilies, in faith formation programs, in small group discussion, and in weekly meetings. For several months, I had been looking to see if anyone had taken the Sunday and Holy Day lectionary readings for this year and made connections from these readings to the liturgy and the Roman Missal. I never really found what I was looking for, so I decided to try to put something together myself.

At the bottom of this post you will find a link to what I have come up with so far - a Schema for Liturgical Catechesis. There is an introduction in the document itself that explains it in more detail, but the basic idea is that this Schema takes the lectionary readings for Sundays and Holy Days from the First Sunday of Lent through Christmas and makes suggestions for how to use these readings as a springboard for liturgical catechesis and formation for the implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. There are probably other connections that can be made that are not included here, but it is a start.

I plan to use this Schema especially for homilies, but there are many other possibilities. And while there is something in the Schema for every week from now through the end of December, it provides a lot of flexibility to pick and choose topics or dates that might be most beneficial for your community. I have also shared this Schema with LTP (Liturgy Training Publications), and it is posted on their website: Feel free to use it as you can and to pass it on to anyone else who might be able to use it. And let me know if you have anything to add.

Click here to view or download the Schema for Liturgical Catechesis.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reflections on Bishop Coyne's Ordination

Yesterday, Wednesday, March 2, I joined with about 1,000 people to witness and join in the celebration of the ordination of Bishop Christopher Coyne, the newly-appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Held at St. John the Evangelist Church in downtown Indianapolis - the church where my parents were married almost 40 years ago - it was an inspiring and moving experience, the first time a bishop has been ordained in Indianapolis since 1933!

Perhaps more than anything, for me, the most meaningful aspect of the ordination was that it was a true gathering of the Church - 16 bishops, including one cardinal; about 160 priests; numerous deacons and deacon candidates; representatives of the Knights of Columbus, the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher, the Knights and Ladies of Malta, and other fraternal and charitable organizations; religious sisters and brothers from Indiana and as far away as Switzerland; lay men and women from every corner of our Archdiocese, the Archdiocese of Boston, and other places - all gathered together for the same purpose: to witness the 2,000 year-old tradition of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands to ordain a successor of the apostles, a new shepherd for the Church. In one place, at one time, the community of the Church was gathered together in prayer - representing so many more people praying from their homes or workplaces - thanking God for his presence among us and for giving us shepherds after his own heart.

In his homily at the ordination, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, OSB, talked a lot about unity and the role of a bishop to bring about and preserve unity in God's flock. He reflected on the importance of bringing about unity in a divided world through faith and charity. There is so much that divides us - both within the Church and in the secular world - and it seems harder and harder to find any source of unity. To have the vision and leadership of shepherds whose primary task is to be humble servants of unity is a great gift. In his remarks at the end of the ordination liturgy, Bishop Coyne spoke of the importance of putting our house in order - building on the good things that are happening in the parishes and Catholic organizations - becoming truly welcoming places of prayer, formation, and service. Then, we can do the hard work of evangelizing - spreading the gospel throughout the world, especially to people for whom faith is not an important part of their lives. And through that work, we strive to bring all people together in the one family of God. This is the work God has put before us.

There was a great spirit and energy at yesterday's ordination - the Church that is the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is excited about our new auxiliary bishop, and we look forward to the gifts and blessings that will flow from his ministry among us. Bishop Coyne places great emphasis on preaching, liturgy, and teaching, and he has wide-ranging experience in communications - including blogging. We welcome him with open arms and pray for the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit as he begins his ministry as a bishop. And his episcopal motto is a good one for all of us to remember: "Trust in the Lord."

Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, OSB, prays the prayer of consecration during the ordination of Bishop Christopher Coyne.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Source and Summit: The Mass and the Roman Missal

Homily for the Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 49.14-15 Psalm 62 1 Corinthians 4.1-5 Matthew 6.24-34

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

The Mass is the most important thing we do as Catholics. It is here at the Mass that we gather together as a community to bring our prayers and needs to God. It is here at the Mass that we listen to God’s word in Scripture and begin the process of applying Scripture to our daily lives. It is here at the Mass that we remember we are part of God’s family, a family that includes people of every race, language, and way of life. It is here at the Mass that we are reminded of the need to serve one another and are given the strength to do that service. It is here at the Mass that we are nourished by Christ’s Body and Blood, the sacrament of grace that unites us to God and to one another more than anything else we can do. If all we do as a Church is celebrate the Mass, and celebrate it well, then we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. But if all we do is celebrate Mass, and this celebration doesn’t impact the way we act away from here, the way we treat one another, the personal relationship with God that is developed through prayer – if all we do is come to Mass, then we’re missing something. That’s why the Second Vatican Council called the Mass the source and summit of our faith. It is the high point of what we do as a Church – the summit of Church life – but it’s also the source of service, love, prayer, and community leading us from this table to be God’s presence in the world. But sometimes we don’t completely understand or appreciate what the Mass is all about.

Over the next year or so, we’re going to be spending a lot of time looking at the Mass – breaking down the parts of the Mass, trying to understand why we do what we do, looking at the words we say, the postures and gestures we make, the approach we bring to this celebration of the Eucharist. We’ll look at everything from why there’s a blessing at the end of Mass to the role of silence in the liturgy, from the purpose of the petitions or prayers of the faithful to meaning of the sign of peace, from why we stand and sit and kneel to the meaning of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Of course, this isn’t the only thing we’re going to be doing as a parish over the next year, but you’ll notice a theme in homilies, faith formation programs, Bible studies, and meetings. The Mass is so important that every once in a while it’s good to step back and think about what we do and why we do it.

But this focus on the Mass is something that will happen not just here, in this parish, but in every Catholic parish across the United States. And it comes as part of a specific context. You may have read in the bulletin or The Criterion that there are some minor changes coming to the texts of the Mass in English. Starting nine months from tomorrow/today, on November 27, we will be using a new English translation of the prayers of the Mass. These prayers are part of what’s called the Roman Missal, the book that contains the texts for all the parts of the Mass except the Scripture readings: the dialogues between priest and people, the prayers the priest says, and the common prayers like the Gloria, the Creed, and the Holy, Holy, Holy. These prayers are the same in every language around the world – it’s part of what makes the Church universal. In order to keep the prayers as faithful as possible to their origin and to one another, each language translates these prayers from a Latin original. About ten years ago, a new version of the Latin book of Mass prayers was published, and since then, bishops, scholars, and linguists have been working on translating these prayers into English. It’s this new translation that will be used starting this coming November 27.

Most of the prayers themselves are the same, but the rules of translation have changed since the 1960s, the last time these prayers were translated into English, and the translators have gotten better at translating. The new translations are closer to the original Latin; they bring back Scripture references that are hidden in the translation we’re using now; they are more accurate theologically, helping us understand the depths of the faith; and they have more of a cadence – a rhythm – when they’re proclaimed in public. Really, the changes are minor – but in many ways the new translation is more beautiful and meaningful than the translation we’re using now. And there is a lot that’s not changing – the translation of Lord’s Prayer isn’t changing, several of the responses aren’t changing, the Scripture readings aren’t changing, and the order and structure of the Mass itself isn’t changing. But it will take some getting used to new words, and it will take some preparation to help us understand why some of the prayers we have been praying for 40 years will sound different.

After spending a lot of time looking at these new translations, I’m convinced that it’s really nothing to worry about – and if Jesus tells us not to be anxious about what we are going to eat or what clothes we’re going to wear, we certainly don’t need to be overly anxious about changing some of the words we say at Mass. But it is important, and it is giving us an opportunity to better understand and appreciate the most important thing we do as a Church – the celebration of the Mass. We have a group of parishioners who are working on designing a period of formation and study, especially for next fall, as we prepare to implement the revised Mass texts at the end of November. There will be many opportunities to learn about the new translations and ask questions between now and then. But before we start talking specifically about the new translations, we’re going to focus on the Mass itself. As St. Paul says, we are “stewards of the mysteries of God.” And while there are great mysteries that we celebrate at the Mass, it doesn’t have to be mysterious. It’s the source and summit of everything we do as Catholics. Here, at this table, from the book of Scripture, in the midst of this community, we meet God and we learn how to love. And there’s nothing more important than that.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Love Your Enemies

Homily for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Leviticus 19.1-2, 17-18 Psalm 103 1 Corinthians 3.16-23 Matthew 5.38-48

To follow Jesus – to be what we call today a Christian – means loving all people, especially your enemies. All the rest is important, but if we don’t love our enemies, then there’s nothing that sets us apart.

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I Love Us

Homily for the Sixth Sunday in Ordiary Time, Year A
Sirach 15.15-20 Psalm 119 1 Corinthians 2.6-10 Matthew 5.17-37

God has already said how much he loves each of us. Saying, “I love you,” back to God is good, but it’s not enough. We have to learn what it means to say, “I love us,” I love the relationship that God and I have developed, I love the good that I can choose because of what God has given me, I love the union of humanity and divinity that can be found in the depth of my heart.

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Broken Record Gospel

Homily for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Zephaniah 2.3, 3.12-13 Psalm 146 1 Corinthians 1.26-31 Matthew 5.1-12a

People whose lives are focused only on themselves really don’t want or need God’s blessing. But for those of us who try to live for others and for God, for those of us who seek true humility, peace, justice, and love – we know we need God’s help, and we pray for his blessing on our lives. Because we can’t do this work of becoming holy on our own.

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI on Digital Media

Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age
June 5, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the occasion of the 45th World Day of Social Communications, I would like to share some reflections that are motivated by a phenomenon characteristic of our age: the emergence of the internet as a network for communication. It is an ever more commonly held opinion that, just as the Industrial Revolution in its day brought about a profound transformation in society by the modifications it introduced into the cycles of production and the lives of workers, so today the radical changes taking place in communications are guiding significant cultural and social developments. The new technologies are not only changing the way we communicate, but communication itself, so much so that it could be said that we are living through a period of vast cultural transformation. This means of spreading information and knowledge is giving birth to a new way of learning and thinking, with unprecedented opportunities for establishing relationships and building fellowship.

New horizons are now open that were until recently unimaginable; they stir our wonder at the possibilities offered by these new media and, at the same time, urgently demand a serious reflection on the significance of communication in the digital age. This is particularly evident when we are confronted with the extraordinary potential of the internet and the complexity of its uses. As with every other fruit of human ingenuity, the new communications technologies must be placed at the service of the integral good of the individual and of the whole of humanity. If used wisely, they can contribute to the satisfaction of the desire for meaning, truth and unity which remain the most profound aspirations of each human being.

In the digital world, transmitting information increasingly means making it known within a social network where knowledge is shared in the context of personal exchanges. The clear distinction between the producer and consumer of information is relativized and communication appears not only as an exchange of data, but also as a form of sharing. This dynamic has contributed to a new appreciation of communication itself, which is seen first of all as dialogue, exchange, solidarity and the creation of positive relations. On the other hand, this is contrasted with the limits typical of digital communication: the one-sidedness of the interaction, the tendency to communicate only some parts of one’s interior world, the risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can become a form of self-indulgence.

Young people in particular are experiencing this change in communication, with all the anxieties, challenges and creativity typical of those open with enthusiasm and curiosity to new experiences in life. Their ever greater involvement in the public digital forum, created by the so-called social networks, helps to establish new forms of interpersonal relations, influences self-awareness and therefore inevitably poses questions not only of how to act properly, but also about the authenticity of one’s own being. Entering cyberspace can be a sign of an authentic search for personal encounters with others, provided that attention is paid to avoiding dangers such as enclosing oneself in a sort of parallel existence, or excessive exposure to the virtual world. In the search for sharing, for “friends”, there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful, and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself.

The new technologies allow people to meet each other beyond the confines of space and of their own culture, creating in this way an entirely new world of potential friendships. This is a great opportunity, but it also requires greater attention to and awareness of possible risks. Who is my “neighbour” in this new world? Does the danger exist that we may be less present to those whom we encounter in our everyday life? Is there is a risk of being more distracted because our attention is fragmented and absorbed in a world “other” than the one in which we live? Do we have time to reflect critically on our choices and to foster human relationships which are truly deep and lasting? It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives.

In the digital age too, everyone is confronted by the need for authenticity and reflection. Besides, the dynamic inherent in the social networks demonstrates that a person is always involved in what he or she communicates. When people exchange information, they are already sharing themselves, their view of the world, their hopes, their ideals. It follows that there exists a Christian way of being present in the digital world: this takes the form of a communication which is honest and open, responsible and respectful of others. To proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one’s own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically. Furthermore, it is also true in the digital world that a message cannot be proclaimed without a consistent witness on the part of the one who proclaims it. In these new circumstances and with these new forms of expression, Christian are once again called to offer a response to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is within them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

The task of witnessing to the Gospel in the digital era calls for everyone to be particularly attentive to the aspects of that message which can challenge some of the ways of thinking typical of the web. First of all, we must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its “popularity” or from the amount of attention it receives. We must make it known in its integrity, instead of seeking to make it acceptable or diluting it. It must become daily nourishment and not a fleeting attraction. The truth of the Gospel is not something to be consumed or used superficially; rather it is a gift that calls for a free response. Even when it is proclaimed in the virtual space of the web, the Gospel demands to be incarnated in the real world and linked to the real faces of our brothers and sisters, those with whom we share our daily lives. Direct human relations always remain fundamental for the transmission of the faith!
I would like then to invite Christians, confidently and with an informed and responsible creativity, to join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible. This is not simply to satisfy the desire to be present, but because this network is an integral part of human life. The web is contributing to the development of new and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons, new forms of shared awareness. In this field too we are called to proclaim our faith that Christ is God, the Saviour of humanity and of history, the one in whom all things find their fulfilment (cf. Eph 1:10). The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive, which stimulates the heart and moves the conscience; one which reflects the example of the risen Jesus when he joined the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35). By his approach to them, his dialogue with them, his way of gently drawing forth what was in their heart, they were led gradually to an understanding of the mystery.

In the final analysis, the truth of Christ is the full and authentic response to that human desire for relationship, communion and meaning which is reflected in the immense popularity of social networks. Believers who bear witness to their most profound convictions greatly help prevent the web from becoming an instrument which depersonalizes people, attempts to manipulate them emotionally or allows those who are powerful to monopolize the opinions of others. On the contrary, believers encourage everyone to keep alive the eternal human questions which testify to our desire for transcendence and our longing for authentic forms of life, truly worthy of being lived. It is precisely this uniquely human spiritual yearning which inspires our quest for truth and for communion and which impels us to communicate with integrity and honesty.

I invite young people above all to make good use of their presence in the digital world. I repeat my invitation to them for the next World Youth Day in Madrid, where the new technologies are contributing greatly to the preparations. Through the intercession of their patron Saint Francis de Sales, I pray that God may grant communications workers the capacity always to carry out their work conscientiously and professionally. To all, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 24 January 2011, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales


© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Christ the Same

Homily for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 8.23-9.3 Psalm 27 1 Corinthians 1.10-13, 17 Matthew 4.12-23

If we can train ourselves to think first of the ways we are like one another, the many things we have in common, if we can become “united in the same mind and in the same purpose” (1 Cor. 1.11), then we will do a much better job of accomplishing what it is God has set out for us.

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's Not About Me

Homily for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 49.3, 5-6 Psalm 40 1 Corinthians 1.1-3 John 1.29-34

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this week's homily.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fr. Christopher Coyne appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, OSB (right), introduces Bishop-Designate Christopher Coyne during a Press Conference at St. John Church in Indianapolis on January 14, 2010.

On Friday, January 14, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Fr. Christopher Coyne as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He will be assisting Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, OSB, in the administration and pastoring of the Archdiocese. Fr. Coyne is a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and is currently serving as pastor of St. Margaret Mary Church in Westwood, Massachusetts. This is an exciting day for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and we look forward to welcoming Bishop-designate Coyne to our local church!

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) you may be interested in:

What is an auxiliary bishop? Each diocese has a bishop who is called the ordinary, or diocesan bishop, the chief shepherd of the diocese. When pastoral needs suggest it, additional bishops can be appointed to assist the diocesan bishop in his ministry. An auxiliary bishop “assist[s] the diocesan bishop in the entire governance of the diocese and take[s] his place if he is absent or impeded” (Code of Canon Law, 405.2).

How will the new bishop relate to our current archbishop? Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, OSB, remains the diocesan bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and is the chief shepherd of the diocese, with full pastoral and administrative responsibility for the diocese. As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop-designate Coyne will serve as Vicar General of the Archdiocese, second in leadership after the Archbishop, and will help Archbishop Daniel in his ministry. He will be able to assist in some pastoral functions that are reserved to bishops, like celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation, as well as other duties designated by the Archbishop.

Why have an auxiliary bishop now? Over the past few years, Archbishop Daniel has battled cancer and other health issues. The presence of an auxiliary bishop will allow the many responsibilities of a bishop to be shared among two people.

Have we had an auxiliary bishop before? The last auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis was in 1933-1934, when then-Bishop Joseph Ritter, a New Albany native, served in this capacity. Upon the death of Bishop Joseph Chartrand, Bishop Ritter became the diocesan bishop. He was later named Archbishop of St. Louis and a Cardinal. Bishop Denis O’Donaghue also served as auxiliary bishop in Indianapolis from 1900 until he was named bishop of Louisville in 1910.

Does an auxiliary bishop automatically succeed a diocesan bishop when he leaves the office? No. An auxiliary bishop does not have a right to succession when the diocesan bishop retires or dies. He remains as an auxiliary bishop, although he could be raised to the position of diocesan bishop or transferred to another diocese through a papal appointment. A coadjutor bishop does have automatic right to succession, but that is a different office and title than auxiliary bishop.

When will our new auxiliary bishop be ordained? Bishop-designate Coyne will be ordained a bishop on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, at St. John Church in downtown Indianapolis.

What do we know about our new auxiliary bishop? Bishop-designate Coyne is 52 years old and has served as a priest for 25 years. A native of Boston, he has a background as a pastor, teacher, liturgist, and communications coordinator. He holds a doctorate in liturgy from Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. In the Archdiocese of Boston, he has served as a parish pastor, media spokesperson, director of the Office of Worship, and professor of liturgy and homiletics at St. John Seminary in Brighton, MA. A media-savvy priest, he has a blog and has recorded a number of videos for, especially on issues of liturgy. He is new to Indiana – his only visit to the state before his appointment was to the University of Notre Dame – so we have a chance to show him some Hoosier hospitality!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

God Chooses Us

Homily for the Baptism of the Lord, Year A
Isaiah 42.1-4, 6-7 Psalm 29 Acts 10.34-38 Matthew 3.13-17

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily. Like last week, this homily was preached from an outline, so there is no full text to post.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Following the Star to Holiness

Homily for the Epiphany of the Lord, Year A
Isaiah 60.1-6 Psalm 72 Ephesians 3.2-3a, 5-6 Matthew 2.1-12

I did not write a full text for this week's homily, but rather preached from an outline - an experiment in a different method of preaching than what I am used to. So there is no full text for the homily, just the sound file below.

Click here to listen to or download an audio (mp3) file of this homily.