Saturday, January 19, 2013

OF 1 TO 10?


The title of my homily is, “Sympathy: On A Scale Of 1 To 10?”

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, how sympathetic am I?

That’s a self test I hear in today’s 2 readings.

When we’re in the box - or a jar -  if that’s what they will have us in if we’re cremated, will someone at our wake or in the homily or in the eulogy describe us as sympathetic?


I would hope so.

I would hope  the more we hear the scriptures, the more sympathetic - not pathetic - we would become.

I would hope the more we receive communion - the Word becoming flesh  - bread and wine becoming Christ  - so as to enter deeper into communion with us - becoming us - the more we will have sympathy - communion - community - with each other.

I would hope the longer we live - the more mistakes we make - the more times we were wrong in our judgments about others - the more we can laugh at ourselves - and be with each other - and not separate ourselves from others - by body distance - by labels - by words made out of sandpaper - that rub each other the wrong way.


Right there in today’s first reading is this message of sympathy.

The author of Hebrews in today’s first reading says the word is living. It’s effective. It’s sharper than any two edged sword. It penetrates between soul and spirit - bones and marrow. It cuts. It challenges us to discern our reflections - the inner conversations of the human heart.

The author of Hebrews in today’s first reading in describing Jesus as our high priest brags about him. Listen again to the words:
“Since we have a great high priest
who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize
with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly
been tested in every way,
yet without sin.”

Notice the word “sympathy”. It means with feelings - with sensitivity - with compassion - with awareness of what the other is going through.

It’s a literal translation of the Greek word “sympatheia” in the text.

At the end of our life will we be whining inwardly, “If I had to do it all over again, this time I would do it with more feeling - with more understanding - with more compassion? That’s what sympathy means.

Why did the crowds crowd at Jesus - encircle Jesus - reach out to touch him. Why did they eat him up? Answers: He spoke their language. He talked about the Golden Rule. He talked about a father who had two sons and one broke communion with him and left and messed up. Yet the father welcomed him back and organized a meal to celebrate his home coming. The story is about a father with sympathy. His heart was broken when the youngest son left, then healed when he came back, and was then broken again - when the older son wouldn’t come to the banquet - refused communion with father and brother. Jesus healed children. He told about being a good Samaritan. He welcomed people with leprosy and people with sin.


In today’s gospel he calls Levi, a tax collector, the son of Alpheus  - who then invites Jesus to his house for dinner to meet his friends. The Scribes and the Pharisees saw Jesus eating with these sinners and tax collectors and asked the question to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

And Jesus overhearing them says, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Incarnation means to eat and be with others in their stories - walking in their sins and moccasins  - grasping each other.


I don’t know about you, but my problem is having sympathy with those who don’t get that. I scratch my head when I overhear people complain about people who come to Mass in shorts or they have a  short list of people who can be with Jesus  in communion.

That’s where I need more sympathy. I’m assuming when we get to heaven - please God -  when we get to the big banquet - the big dinner in heaven - we’re going to be surprised.

Please God we won’t be like the older brother and refuse to sit next to certain people in heaven. Why? Well, because communion is heaven. The Trinity is 3 Persons in Communion with Each Other - who  have invited into their mystery, their dance, their union, us and billions and billions and billions and billions more - all of us becoming the Great Dance [perichoresis (1) in Greek - notice the word  “chorus” in there - perichoresis being another one of those mysterious words for the Trinity] a symphony of sympathy - especially for us who can’t dance or sing. Listen to the Music of God. Listen to the Dance of God. The older brother heard the music and the dance - asked what it was - but didn’t enter into it. [Cf. Luke 15:25-26]


(1) Check out in Google, “Perichoresis” a term meaning “clinging together” in reference to the Trinity started by Gregory of Nazianzus.


Quote for Today - January 19, 2013

"The term Satyagraha was coined by me ... in order to distinguis it from the movement then going on ... under the name of Passive Resistance.

"Its root meaning is 'holding on to truth,' hence 'force of righteousness.'  I have also called it love force or soul force. In the application of Satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not permit violence being inflicted on one's opponent, but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. For what appears truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by the infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on one's self."

Mohandas Karamchand [Mahatma] Gandhi [1869-1948] in Defense against charge of sedition [March 23, 1922]. 

I found the above quote in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. It's  from Mahatma [Great Soul] Gandhi and has a footnote that points the following words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.

"Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."

Martin Luther King Jr. in his Speech Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize [December 11, 1964]

Friday, January 18, 2013



The title of my homily for this 1st Friday in Ordinary Time is, “Pause!”

How good are we at pausing ----------- resting --------------- being silent -------------------- stopping --------------------------- becoming quiet?


As usual I picked up  today’s readings to read them out loud - so as to come up with a homily. Ooops!  I caught myself - before I started. I forgot to pray. I don’t always catch myself - pausing for a prayer beforehand. I closed my eyes and said a prayer to the Holy Spirit - for light - hoping something would hit me as I was reading the Word - something  that might help all of us.

Ooops. Sometimes I  look at an Ikon of Jesus Christ that is on my wall above me - above my computer.


To pause is important.

As I read today’s first reading  - Hebrews 4: 1-5, 11 - I noticed that  the text had the word “rest” in it - 6 times. Interesting.

I then asked, “What’s the Greek word in the original text that they translated it by the English word  “rest”? It was  “katapausin” all 6 times - 5 nouns - 1 verb.

I then tried to find the derivation of the English word “rest” - which was used to translate the Greek word “katapausin”. I found in Webster’s dictionary that it’s from an old English word - that comes from an old German word, “rast”. Okay.

Then I remembered the word “rest” in of Jesus’ words:  “Come to me all you who are weary or heavily burdened and I will give you rest!” Matthew 11: 28. I wondered if Matthew has that same word “katapausin”.  It didn’t. It had the word “anapausin”.

It was then that I said to myself, “Stupid. Stupid. Stupid! The English word 'pause' comes from both these words - each of which has a different prefix: “ana” up and “kata” down - but the same root word "pausin". We had studied about Xenophon’s Anabasis - the “going up” of the army he was part of. Our professor told us that “Katabasis” would mean in contrast, the “retreat”, or “going home” or “going down”.

Obviously, I like to pause at words - to see where they come from - to see their roots - prefixes and suffixes, etc. - and see what I can learn.

So the message for today is one word: Pause!  Rest. Stop. Calm. Peace. Relax.


I noticed in the Collegeville Bible Commentary on The Letter to the Hebrews  that the author of this text in Hebrews is stressing three understandings of  this theme of “rest”:

1) The Promised Land: the dream place of rest for the Hebrews.

2) The Sabbath Rest: the 7th day of Creation - the 7th day for the Jews (Saturday) - the 7th Day for the Christians (Sunday),

3) The Eternal Rest - eternity - heaven.


Pause at that! Besides the meaning of the some words, there’s plenty of food for thought right there at those 3 rest stops for some reflection today.

1) How many people around the world are like the Israelites in the desert, longing for the Promised Land? They are experiencing ongoing wars and raids and eviction and forced migration. They have a dream for peace. If only we could get to Scandinavia or America? If only we could relocate to somewhere where there is no horror and shooting and terror and bombs?  Those out of work, long for a paycheck and a home and food and peace.

2) How many people have to work 7 days a week? How many people don’t have Sabbath or weekends or breaks or holidays?

3) How many people don’t believe or sense or have even heard for sure that there is a life after this life - Resurrection - the Good News of Jesus.

As to inner rest, today’s gospel has the story of a man who can’t move outwardly. He’s paralyzed. Some friends bring him to Jesus. The crowd is crowing them out. They go up on the room and cut through it and lower the paralyzed man down with ropes to Jesus.

Jesus pauses to see the paralyzed man. Then Jesus shocks those present by forgiving the man of his sins.

I’ve preached on this gospel many, many, many times, so that’s why I went with today’s first reading. I want to learn something new. 

In the context of my message about rest or pausing, let me ask this question: “How many people are restless, or can’t be at peace, because of their sins? Sins can paralyze. Sins can force us to spend the rest of the day, the year, one’s life worrying about  a bad mistake on their part. Sin paralyzes people. Forgiveness is necessary for healing - to become unparalyzed.


So a conclusion is to take a break, pause, which is what we are doing here by being at Mass, and look at the issue of rest in our lives - and the rest of our lives and the rest of our existence.

In the meanwhile, just in case I was too wordy with my word stuff, let throw in one example that I have used all my life concerning this theme.

When I was in high school or college, way back, I once heard Jim Brown the famous football player on the Cleveland Browns being interviewed. He said something like this, “Watch young running backs  when they get tackled. They push off and fight to stand up and run back to the huddle. He said, “That’s wasted energy. When I get tackled. I slowly let the others get off me and get up. Then I slowly get up and slowly walk back to the huddle for the next play. Then watch me move.”


Quote for Today - January  18, 2013

"The dead tell no tales - but there's many a thing learned at the wake."

Irish Proverb


Think of funerals and wakes you've been to and what you learned about the person who died that you didn't know till you heard the eulogy, read the obituary, or talked to others about the deceased.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Quote for Today - January 17, 2013

"A diplomat must always think twice before saying nothing."

Irish Proverb

Wednesday, January 16, 2013



The title of my homily for this 1st Wednesday in Ordinary Time is, “Where Are Our Deserted Places?"

In today’s gospel - Mark 1: 29-39 - we have mention of a theme we find several times in the gospels:
Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place,
where he prayed.

The title of my homily is, “Where Are Our Deserted Places?

I know I have preached on this topic and theme at various times.

Where are my deserted places?


Make a list of the places where you can go to in order to escape, to find peace, to be alone.

My father loved the cellar.  A friend of mine built a chapel out of his garage. My niece told me about a Muslim co-worker, who used a closet to get in some of her prayers. I know of a lady who used to hide from her four sons under the kitchen sink. You’d have to be in great shape to do that one. My sister-in-law used the bathroom - to escape from her seven daughters when they were tiny. Fingernails from tiny hands on a locked bathroom door can induce guilt.

Where are your deserted places? The Eucharistic chapel, a corner in this church or St. Mary’s, a book, the library, a walk in the cold or the warm, shopping, a drive, the back porch, the house when nobody is home, Quiet Water’s Park, the Naval Academy, a museum, sitting with a journal, painting, writing a poem, knitting, making Ranger Rosaries, etc.?  Where are your woman caves, man caves, secret places?


Today’s gospel for starters triggers this topic, theme and question about deserted places?

Today’s gospel takes place in Capernaum - just off the Lake of Galilee. I can read today’s gospel and put myself in Capernaum with ease - because I was  there once. Anyone who has been to Israel knows this. Capernaum is part of the bus ride - part of the tour. It has the Fourth Century synagogue - whose restoration began in 1922-24. again in 1969, and 1984.  

When I was there in 2000 with 22 priests, Father Stephen Doyle, a Franciscan, who was leading the retreat and tour read today’s gospel story in one of its versions, He told us that this roofless ruin of a synagogue was possibly where this gospel took place - and then gave us a half hour or a hour for quiet prayer. Wonderful.

 Then we went to where the ruins of Peter’s house. It now has a church built over it - a church with glass floors - through which you can see the ruins - where today’s gospel took place - where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. That place was somewhat crowded compared to the space in the synagogue area - and it’s huge stones on which people can sit - and reflect.

Then we went to the gift shop and I bought this book by Stanislao Loffreda, Recovering Capharnaum. I have stepped back in many a gift shop in a place like Capharnaum - and noticed people often buying a pamphlet or guild book about a place - perhaps to hold onto the holy - perhaps to be able to go back there in memory - in some quiet place - in some quiet time - in the future.


Where are your quiet places? 

How do you quiet down?  

What do you do to grow and know the Lord and yourself and others better?  

What did Jesus do in his quiet places? 

The gospels tell us he talked to Our Father - and I’m sure he figured out how to do what today’s first reading from Hebrews 2: 14-18 - tells us he did: how to become like his brothers and sisters in every way. 

That’s our Jesus. That’s our brother! No wonder everyone was looking for him. They wanted to eat him up. 


Quote for Today - January 16,  2013

"A blind man should not be sent to buy paint."

Irish Proverb


Come up with 5 applications of this proverb.

For example: Size 20's should not be telling size 12's how to diet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013



The title of my homily is, “I Didn’t Turn Out To Be The Person I Hoped  To Be.”

Don’t we all?

That’s the thought that hit me when I read and reflected on today’s two readings - as well as today’s psalm - Psalm 8.

When we’re young, we dream - we hope - we make big plans and vast expectations for ourselves. Don’t we all? At some point - we face the wrinkled truth: I didn’t get as far as I thought I was going to get.

The marriage - good - but it could have been better. We live some more and change that “it” to an “I” as in, “The marriage - good -  but I could have been better.”

At work -  if things fell apart - or people saw through my coffee breaks or solitaire escapes - or if they saw my inadequacies and limitations -  if I was passed over - or if I lost my job, I could be deeply hurt by these ughs of life.  

Deeper and more painful there is that  day - or afternoon - or sleepless night when I realized, “I didn’t turn out to be the person I hoped to be.” "Lost time: I lost too much time!" That moment was a bummer. It was down right hurting and depressing. These moments could also teach us how to laugh at ourselves - which is an essential part of humility.

Sometimes the cake, the meeting, the conversation, the vacation, the speech, the sermon, the date, the show down - one’s life - doesn’t happen like I thought it would happen.

We might remember Judy Collins or Joni Mitchell singing the following message:

I've looked at life from both sides now
From WIN and LOSE and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all


Today’s first reading from Hebrews - Chapter 2 - quotes Psalm 8 - that we were made a little less than the angels. That’s a very high bar!

I did a little research last night and read that the translation we have here - that we were made a little less than the angels - is from the Greek Septuagint scriptures of the Psalms. The Hebrew text of that psalm raises the bar much higher because it says we’re made “a little less than God.”

The higher the expectation, the higher the “Uh oh! Oh no!” depressive feeling we might  feel when we realize -  like Adam and Eve we didn’t reach God’s goals for us. I don’t know about you, but when I make a mistake - when I put my foot in my mouth - when I lay an egg - the only person on the planet that I’m with at that moment is me.


Today’s gospel - along with that first reading - point out it’s not all me - it’s not all - I, I, I. Surprise, Jesus can arrive in our village - in our mind, in our temple - and if we’re humble enough - down enough - we can celebrate being like the guy in the gospel, the guy with the unclean spirit. We can know  who Jesus Christ is and he came to be with us. Jesus can be for us  the one who fills the gaps - the one who fills the holes in our life - can understand and heal the disasters in our pages - our story.


The title of my homily is, “I Didn’t Turn Out To Be The Person I Hoped  To Be.”

If we reached 25% of our life goals - praise God - Jesus can be the other 75%. If were minus 35, Jesus can be plus 135.

When we look at our life - hopefully we can laugh more than cry.

As we’re sitting in the back seat of a limo on our way into heaven and we give our best Marlon Brando imitation: “I could have been a contender.”

When we die, others might see us entering paradise with a smile on our face and we only worked 1 hour in the vineyard - or might have been like the Good Thief - we got on the right side of Jesus just as we died. This might tick people off who got 90’s all their lives.

We can smile, because we made it. We can be like the Prodigal Son and find ourselves welcomed back home no matter what. In heaven they will even throw a party for us. We’ll sit down to eat the fatted calf with only one regret: others will be mad at God for this. Then Jesus will welcome us too and tell us not to worry about older brothers who never messed up. Surprise, they have all eternity to get the hints from Jesus about mercy and forgiveness and love.


Quote for Today - January 15,  2013

Life: "A long lesson in humility."

James M. Barrie [1860-1937]


Agree or disagree?

Does this quote by James M. Barrie ring true for you?

Put into words for another your 3 biggest learning moments?

Painting on Top: Andrew Wyatt  [1917-2009]



The title of my homily for this first Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Straightforward Or Sideways Speech.”

Another title could be, “Direct or Indirect Speech.”


Is most communication sideways, indirect, backdoor, giving the other time to discover or notice or figure out the message?

Is 99% of communication body language and 1% words?

Is most communication unconscious speaking to unconscious - and we only figure out who the other and what they are saying 25 minutes or 25 days or 25 years later?

How many times have we heard in the past 25 years someone saying in a sermon the following words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel; sometimes use words.”


Two of my favorite stories are basically the same story.

The first is from The Fiddler on the Roof when Tevye asks his wife, Golde, if she loves him.”

She gives a list of all the things she’s done for him for 25 years of marriage - cooking, cleaning, but he still asks, “Do you love me?” She won’t give a direct answer - but moves to, “I suppose I do.” Then both sing, “After 25 years it’s nice to know.”

The second story is also from Broadway. In a play a little girl is whining that nobody around here ever tells her that they love her. Someone says, “You’re wrong. Last night at supper you aunt said that she loves you.” The girl says, “She did not. When did she say that?” The speaker says, “She said, ‘Don’t eat too fast.’”


Today first reading - Hebrews 1: 1-6 triggered this homily.

The writer says that in the past God spoke in partial ways.  The writer says that God speaks in partial ways and in various ways. Then he says that God speaks directly through his Son. The author also uses the word “imprint”. I didn’t get a chance to look up what the Greek word is - but I’m sure it has the idea that if you see footprints, someone was there - if you see fingerprints on the glass door, someone was there. Then the author of Hebrews adds the verb “sustains”. God sustains all.

If you want to get in touch with that last theme of “sustaining” - read The Book of Job - especially The Lord’s Speech - Chapters 38-30. It tells us about how God is keeping the vast enterprise - this big house going. This is a powerful theme to keep exploring. This planet is around 4.5 billion years old. There’s a message here somewhere.

Today’s gospel - Mark 1: 14-20 -  is an example of straightforward and direct speech.

Jesus comes up to four fishermen,  Peter and Andrew, James and John, and says, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”


The title of my homily is, “Straight Forward Or Sideways Speech.”

Today - let’s open our eyes and our ears and see and hear Jesus’ calls to us - calls that are direct and indirect, straightforward and sideways.

Today, we’re already saying a lot with our feet by being here. It’s indirect and sideways - but God understands all languages.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Quote for Today - January 14,  2013

"Humor is really laughing off a hurt."

William Maudlin [1921-2003] - famous cartoonist - especially of war scenes.


Agree or disagree?

Any comments?

For example?

Sunday, January 13, 2013



My homily for this feast of the Baptism of Jesus has two parts. It’s title is, “Post Christianity - Re-Christening.”

Notice Christ’s name in both parts. "Post Christianity and Re-Christening”.

When was the last time anyone asked you: “Are you in a relationship with anyone?”

Christianity is being in  a relationship with Christ - who brings us into a relationship with other persons: the two other persons in the Trinity; as well as with the community called “The Body of Christ”- Church - Us; and hopefully with all the people of our world.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori - the founder of the Redemptorists - the priests in this parish - whose statue is up here above the altar - wrote over 100 books. His key book is, “The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ.”

It begins this way: “The whole sanctity and perfection of a soul consists in loving Jesus Christ, our God, our sovereign good, and our Redeemer.”[1]

How do we learn to play the piano?  How do we get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Practice. Practice. How do we find joy, become a saint, find meaning in life? Practice, practice, practice the love of Jesus Christ.


For the past few years I have been hearing from time to time the phrase, “Post Christianity.” Post meaning “past”.

I assume there is no official definition on what that means exactly.

For me,  it simply means that for some who were Christians - they have dropped out of Church - and away from having Christ as God in their lives. In their mind or attitude - being a Catholic or a Protestant - is basically past history. It’s over!

Then there are some who are still Christmas and Easter and funeral and wedding Catholics - and they call for a priest when someone is sick or dying. They might also have their kids baptized - and make First Communion - but in reality they are drop outs when it comes to voting with their feet - by walking into a church and putting their butts on the bench or knees on the kneeler on a regular basis. Christ’s attitude  is not their attitude on how to do life

There’s talk at times by "Strict Catholics" that Benedict XVI is for a small, lean, deeply committed Catholic Church - whose members are following Jesus - living the Christian life  - and  let those other "so so Catholics" drop out of the Church or not be considered part of the Church. Others say that he’s not saying that.[2]

Is the history of the Catholic Church,  a Church of hot and cold Catholics? Is the history of the Catholic Church basically the same down through the centuries - a whole mass of different type Catholics - in different states or stages of practicing their faith?

I keep hearing that attendance at Mass by Catholics around the world is the highest in the United States - and I’ve seen numbers from 28% to 35 % going to church on a regular basis. I hear that in countries like France it’s around 9 %.[3]

I’m also hearing that in the United States that number has been gradually dropping in the past 25 years. 

Peter Berger once wrote about the magical train station in Paris - where Catholics from the country upon moving to Paris arrive at the train station and when they get off the train - they are no longer Catholics.[4]

Does this happen when people go off to college - or as soon as Confirmation is over?

As priest I wonder about these things.

Did the word “obligation” or “under pain of mortal sin” get people to go to church - when down deep there was no grab at Mass for them? Does guilt work? Should we talk and think about “have to” and “want to” being at church and being a Catholic when we talk about all this?

What are your thoughts, opinions, stands, questions, wonderings about any of this? Talk to each other. I love it when someone says they were talking about a homily I gave in their car on the way home.

I know some of you think and worry about your kids - many of whom you paid for a Catholic education or brought them to Mass and made them go to both Mass and religious education - and they have dropped out or somewhat dropped out.

When I’m on to say the 5 PM Youth Mass at St. John Neumann on Sunday evening and say, “The Lord be with you” there seems to be a greater response to that same greeting  than when I have Mass like I did Friday morning for our whole high school.

I don’t know why some high school kids seem like statues at Mass. Is silence, being blah, resisting religion - church - synagogue - part of being a teenager?

When kids don't respond at Mass, I hate it when priests say: “Let me try that again: ‘The Lord be with you!’”

If I heard it once I heard it a 5 dozen times, people didn’t like it when Father Ted Heyburn would try to make people sing the opening hymn a second time at Mass - because he didn’t think they were singing it the first time around.

The Mass … Music… Prayers…  The Homily or Sermon … the Our Father … the Sign of Peace …  Communion… The Experience of being in Church... what is that like for folks?  What do people want, need, hope for when they come to Mass? How do we avoid driving people away from God, Church, prayer, the Holy, receiving Communion - Union with Christ and each other? What do folks hunger for in their gut - in their deepest deep?

Sometimes when reading the papers or a magazine - I notice articles about  attendance at church. I'll read that article. I do that especially because before I came here to Annapolis I worked for 8 years with a priest named Tom out of Lima, Ohio. He had a Ph.D. in Sociology and in our many car rides all over the Eastern Part of the United States - especially Ohio - which is east of the Mississippi, if I learned anything from conversations with Tom, I learned that research by professionals like CARA - Center For Applied Research in the Apostolate  or the Pugh Forum Religious Landscape Study - or the Lilly Endowment Inc. on Religion - they tell me at times that my projections  and opinions can be wrong, very wrong.

Perhaps that’s the reason I like the saying from the Jewish Talmud, “Teach thy tongue to say, ‘I do not know.’”

So I don’t know - but I sense two things: 1) the numbers are going down a bit faster than usual; and 2) we might be at a stage in Church life - where we better be careful - “a little more carefully - than anything” to steal from the words of e.e. cummings -  about this gift of faith called “Christianity” - and our Catholic Faith in particular.

In my opinion, babbling, fluffy stuffy homilies - or hammer, hammer, hammer homilies - don’t help. The Child Abuse by priests didn’t help. That really hurt us. The efforts to return to a top down Church structure doesn’t help. The way some in the Church dumped the new translation of the 1973 Sacramentary in English that was a long work in progress and replaced it with a tongue twisting very close to the Latin translation didn’t help - in my opinion. There was research recently that said U.S. Catholics favored the new translation.[5] I scratched my head at that - because I hear priests complaining about the priest’s prayers as being clumsy, clumsy, clumsy. We’re up here mouthing them. We were told to practice them more beforehand. I’ve tried - but to me, ugh, ugh, ugh - and to be honest, I assume I’ll be dead by the time, they get this right. Opinion. Opinion. Opinion.


Part One of this homily was called, “Post Christianity”.

Part Two of this homily is called, “Re-Christening.”

For the past 50 years I’ve been hearing the word, “Evangelization”.  Lately, I’ve been hearing the words, “New Evangelization.”[6]

Someone is saying that what the Church says from time to time is a call for us to "Wake up!" Attempts are made to  shake it up once more. The history of the Church is a history of Awakenings and Renewals.[7]

In the meanwhile, here we are at Sunday Mass.

In the meanwhile, on this Sunday we are celebrating the feast of the Baptism of Jesus.

Why are we here? We’re here to be renewed - to renew our Baptism.

We here to hear the readings and to receive Christ in Communion.

In today’s first reading from Isaiah 40 we heard, “Comfort, give comfort to my people…. Speak tenderly …. prepare the way of the Lord…. Every valley shall be filled in …. every mountain and hill shall be made low …. the glory of the Lord shall be revealed …. Go up onto a high mountain …. cry out at the top of your voice …. good news…. Fear not …. Here is your God! …. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock …. in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.”

In today’s psalm - Psalm 104 we heard, “O Lord, my God, you are great indeed…. when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.”

In  today’s second reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to Titus, we heard, “The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ….”

In today’s gospel from Luke we heard that people were filled with expectation wondering if John the Baptist was the Christ. Is he the one everyone has been waiting for? And he said, No. “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Jesus is the one John pointed to and pointed out and Jesus is the one that the voice from heaven said as we heard in today’s gospel, “You are my beloved Son; with whom I am well pleased.” [Luke 3: 22]

Most of us were baptized as babies - christened as babies.

Christened - means - Christ was implanted - put into us - and we became sacred, new, a Sacrament - a sign of Christ’s presence wherever we go.

Christened  - means we are called to be salt, light, life, joy, hope, help, love, wisdom, good example - to our world - each day.

Part 2 of this homily is called, “Rechristening.”


For the past 35 years at least, I’ve thought that the Catholic Church should announce a new sacrament - for those 35 and over. I never knew what to call it. As I reflected on this homily I’ve thought, “Maybe ‘Rechristening” might be a good name.

Now the Catholic Church won’t do this. They’ll stick with 7. Someone will probably say my thought is heretical or what have you.

I could go for confirmation being put off till 35 as a compromise - but they won’t do that either.

In the meanwhile, this year 2013 is one more year where those of us who are here can grow as Christians.

This year at Mass we’ll hear the Gospel of Luke proclaimed. By the end of this year, will you be a better Christian than you are right now?  Our move! Our decision! Our action!

As John the Baptist also said, “I must decrease. He must increase.” 

So Re-Christening is the step after Post Christianity. I am called to be re-Christed, re-Christened - becoming Christ - more and more each day. Amen. [8]



[1] St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ, pp. 261-477, in Volume VI, The Ascetical Works, edited by Rev. Eugene Grimm, CSSR, Redemptorist Publications, 1934

[2] Cf. The Tablet, The International Catholic Weekly, UK, "Map For the Journey of Faith," Page 2, October 6, 2012

[3] Linda Woodhead, "Faith That Won't Fit The Mould," article in The Tablet [UK], page 8, December 15, 2012

[4] Cf. Peter Berger's book, A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural. In it mentions the statistical study by Gabriel LeBras - who is actual one who made the statement that "a certain railroad station in Paris appears to have a magical quality, for rural migrants seem to be changed from practicing to non-practicing Catholics the very moment they set foot on it."

[5] Cf. U.S. Catholic, volume 77, No. 12, December 2012, "Words Fail Us - The View From the Pulpit ....  The View from the Pew," pp. 12-21 - Claretians; National Catholic Reporter, Bar Is Set Low In Acceptance of Year-Old Missal, by Anthony Ruff, page 1, page 12, December 7 - 20, 2012,  Vol. 49, No. 4; National Catholic Reporter, "Study: Catholics Differ On New Mass Translation," page 4, December 21, 2012-January 3, 2013, Vol. 49, No. 4; 

[6] John Allen, The Future Church, How Ten Trends Are Revolutioninzing the Catholic Church, Doubleday, 2009; Cf. America Magazine, September 26, 2011, The New Evangelization by Donald Wuerl, pp. 11-13; Cf. Father Barron's Seven Tips for New Evangelization, by Brandon Vogt, Our Sunday Visitor, page 14, December 30, 2012;

[7] Cf. William G. McLoughlin, Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform, An Essay on Religion and Social Change in America, 1607-1977, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1978; Duquoc/Floristan, Spiritual Revivals, Herder and Herder, 1973; Daniel Cohen, The Spirit of the Lord: Revivalism in America, Four Winds Press, 1975; Ian Bradley, The Call to Seriousness, The Evangelical Impact on the Victorians, Macmillan Publishing Co. New York, 1976; Conrad Pepler, O.P., The English Religious Heritage, B. Herder Book Co. St. Louis, MO, 1958.

[8] There is a lot of literature on being a Christian - conversion - renewal - re-looking at what it means to be a Christian. For example: C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Macmillan, 1952;  Timothy Ratcliff, What Is The Point of Being a Christian, Burns and Oates, London, 2005;Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 2007; Brian D. McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, Ten Questions That Are Transforming The Faith, Harper One, NY, 2010; Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken N.J. 2005; Jim Wallis, The Call to Conversion, Harper San Francisco, 1981.