Sunday, July 20, 2014

Effective Preaching

Those of us who go to mass each Sunday do so for many reasons: prayer, obligation , community, Eucharist, etc, etc.  But what we often do not hear is the Word of God broken open for us in a well written and delivered homily.
And why should we?  The average Roman Catholic clergy receives about six credits of homiletics (the study of writing/giving homilies) during their formal education.  And in fairness to the vast majority of priests, their time is consumed with managing the needs of a parish and ministering to their parishioners.  So finding 8 -10 hours each week to pull together a cohesive 10 minute Sunday homily (much less daily homilies) may be difficult – but is sorely needed.
As a whole, we often spend so much time focused on Christ being present in the Eucharist that we forget that Christ is equally present in the congregation gathered together, as well as in the Word.  But we are a people coming together who deserve to have the scripture broken open and poured out in a way that touches us, heals us, and gives us a meaningful message for the coming week.
This past January the National Catholic Reporter printed a short article they had asked me to write on the steps needed for an effective homily.  Since it was only released in a particular supplement addressed to deacons (have no idea why), I thought it would be good to release it here on my blog site and invite your comments, suggestions…or better yet, encourage you to print out a few copies and if you hear a poor homily, hand one to the preacher (priest or deacon) on the way out the door!
For a copy of the article click HERE

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Homily: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we hear a gospel from Matthew which is broken into three basic parts: the parable of the sower…Jesus’s reasoning for using parables… and then lastly, the explanation Jesus gave his first century followers of what this parable was all about.  But there is something so obvious to see in this story that even Jesus omitted it from his explanation. 
What did Jesus leave out of his elucidation of this gospel?  And how can that missing piece of the puzzle change your life? 

Click and listen to how the answer to these questions is found….in the soil.

Click here for the podcast of the live recording of the Homily
Click here for the text of the Homily
Click here for the readings

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Homily: Most Holy Trinity

This Sunday we celebrated Trinity Sunday – which is one of the few Feasts of the Liturgical Year that celebrates a reality and a doctrine rather than an event.  It is a time that we give glory and praise to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – three divine and distinct beings and at the same time, one true God.

And through the centuries countless volumes have been written on this doctrine of three beings in one God.  But due to the limits of our own language we have been forced to use metaphors when trying to describe the Trinity.  

But what if we took some time and stopped looking at God as a noun…and considered God as a verb?  Could the mystery of the Trinity make more sense if we considered God more like some sort of dance or movement?

Before you report me to the Bishop – take a few minutes and listen to my take on this concept which is really rooted in our faith – for it may just change the way you live your life!
Click here for the podcast of the live recording of the Homily
Click here for the text of the Homily
Click here for the readings

Monday, May 12, 2014

Homily: 4th Sunday of Easter

Christ is Risen!  Christ is Risen Indeed! 

But why are we still celebrating Easter?  Fifty days seems like a long time to be singing Alleluia - and we are only half way through the season.  And so, it is at this midway point, that we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday – a title taken from the today’s famous gospel passage.

So why do we call Christ the Good Shepherd?  And how can insight from a New Mexico shepherd help us to use all of our senses in order to uncover the Gospel message and of how we can find Christ today?  Check it out.

Click here for the podcast of the live recording of the Homily

Click here for the text of the Homily

Click here for the readings

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bring Flowers of the Fairest

One of the advantages of being a permanent deacon is being married!  My wife, Teresa is a Spiritual Director, a Master Gardener, mother of four and whose life is a beautiful balance of action and contemplation.  Please enjoy the following piece that she wrote for my blog…
As a young girl growing up in a small Pennsylvania town and sharing a room with my many sisters , every May we made elaborate altars to the Blessed Mother when the lilacs bloomed and we sang the hymn we were taught in our catholic grade school (Saint Mary's, of course) “Bring Flowers of the Fairest.”

The nostalgia and quaintness of this activity may mask its deeper importance for us as Catholics today as we are awash with scandal and the ennui that may perhaps come after a long time in any spiritual practice. We can become more jaded and as a result deny ourselves some rituals that are both sustaining and rich.

Catholicism taught me the wisdom of sacramental, bodily celebration of our inner movements.  This simple ritual consecrates beauty and femininity and gives us a portal right now to enter even more deeply into the mystery of Easter.  We can immerse ourselves in the death and resurrection that are so evident to any gardener or nature lover at this time of the year when “as long as the bowers are radiant with flowers, as long as the azure shall keep its bright hue.” (An azure, by the way, is a type of butterfly!!)

Perhaps this is the week to resurrect this sacred ritual and make a small altar to honor Mary and her beautiful and bountiful femininity.  Below is the list of symbols from my altar and click here to listen to this lovely hymn (lyrics below).

Flowers : consecration, beauty
Shells: the spiraling wisdom of the feminine
Candles: passion, enlightenment
Icon of Mary

Bring flowers of the rarest
Bring blossoms the fairest,
From garden and woodland and hillside and dale;
Our full hearts are swelling,
Our glad voices telling
The praise of the loveliest flower of the vale!

Refrain: O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today!
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.
O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.

Our voices ascending, in harmony blending,
Oh! thus may our hearts turn, dear Mother, to thee;
Oh! thus shall we prove thee how truly we love thee,
How dark without Mary, life's journey would be.

O Virgin most tender, our homage we render,
Thy love and protection, sweet Mother, to win;
In danger defend us, in sorrow befriend us,
As pure as the lilies we lay at your feet.

Their lady they name thee, their mistress proclaim thee,
Ah, grant that thy children on earth be as true
as long as the bowers are radiant with flowers,
as long as the azure shall keep its bright hue.

Sing gaily in chorus; the bright angels o'er us
re-echo the strains we begin upon earth;
their harps are repeating the notes of our greeting,
for Mary herself is the cause of our mirth