Covid-19 preventing Deacons from gathering for the annual renewal of vows, Mass and dinner with the Bishop.
Here is my annual promise I make from home this year.
Renewal of Diaconal Ordination Promises
(addressing the assembly)
My brothers and sisters in Christ, we are gathered here to pray for those who serve as deacons in Christ’s name.
Many holy men have gone before these men in this ministry: Saints Lawrence, Stephen, Ephraim, Philip, Francis of Assisi, and many others.
Let us join with them as we bring our prayers before the throne of God,
(addressing the Deacons)
Beloved sons, we chose you for the Order of the Diaconate. Continue to embrace the ministry to which you have been called. As deacons, and ministers of Jesus Christ, who came among his disciples as one who served, and not to be served, do the will of God from the heart: serve the people in love and joy as you would the Lord. Since no one can serve two masters, look upon all defilement and avarice as serving false gods.
Are you resolved to renew, in the presence of God’s holy people, the promises you once made?
Deacons: I am.
Are you resolved to discharge the office of deacon with humble charity in order to assist the Priestly Order and to benefit the Christian people?
Deacons: I am.
Are you resolved to hold fast to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience, as the Apostle urges, and to proclaim this faith in word and deed according to the Gospel and the Church’s tradition?
Deacons: I am.
Are you resolved to maintain and deepen the spirit of prayer that is proper to your way of life and, in keeping with this spirit and what is required of you, to celebrate faithfully the Liturgy of the Hours with and for the People of God and indeed for the whole world?
Deacons: I am.
Are you resolved to conform your way of life always to the example of Christ, of whose Body and Blood you are ministers at the altar?
Deacons: I am.
Lord, look kindly on your servants: we send them as messengers of salvation and peace, marked with the sign of the cross.
Guide their steps with your mighty arm and with the power of your grace strengthen them in spirit, so that they will not falter through weariness.
Make their words the echo of Christ’s voice, so that those who hear them may be drawn to obey the Gospel.
Fill the hearts of your deacons with the Holy Spirit, so that, becoming all things to all people, they may lead many to you, the Father of all, to sing your praises in your holy Church.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. All: Amen
Say a prayer for me, please. May Christ dwell within.
In 2020 we mourn the loss of several Civil Rights leaders…
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The Gospel reading today starts with a rather startling point.
John the Baptist was murdered and Jesus withdrew.
At first glance you might be very disconcerted by this reaction.
Why? Well, among many things we mourn the dead, we have the liturgy of intercession for the dead and those mourning them. Even this Wednesday I will preside over a Funeral Outside of Mass for the twin purpose of (1) Intercession and invocation of the Mercy of God; and (2) Prayer of supplication for the grieving that in both purposes we may know the love of God in the paschal mystery and glorious resurrection.
But the death of John the Baptist wasn’t a simple death. It was an execution. John, having challenged King Herod, was beheaded.
The death of John is the most radical rejection of the baptism of repentance – killing the messenger.
Jesus withdrew to the deserted place and it became a great nonverbal message in the gospel. It is the message that can reach those guilty of murder.
The Message of John
Hardly anyone misses the message of John the Baptist. John preached the baptism of repentance. John called everyone who approached him to consider their actions and the commandments and make some changes. The gospel of Luke gives a really detailed account of these types of fruitful encounters.
John prepared the way of the Lord. Or more specifically. John helped us to prepare for the Lord.
The Deserted Place
When Jesus withdrew the crowd heard of it. They followed him.
Jesus went by boat – a straight line. The people walked/wandered through hill and dale to get to him.
They left behind any and all comforts, food, weapons, and all their possessions.
They knew something about Jesus was special. They wanted him.
In fact the point is that they valued nothing but him and his miraculous ways.
They wanted to enter the deserted place because that is where he is.
Where is the Deserted Place
This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.
The disciples were worried. Of course it was for the ordinary needs of the people. Very much appreciated and expected.
Jesus asks them to look beyond. Beyond the body, the wealth, the possessions.
Surrender the five loaves and two fish to him.
Surrender in the deserted place.
And be filled with every good, thing, God’s being.
The Most Deserted Place
In the center of your soul.
In the center of your soul Jesus has ‘retreated’. He rests there waiting for your return. Taking your attention away from possession and the belly.
There you will find Jesus who will restore you, feed you, speaking to you.
It is a gigantic leap of presumed power to align President Trump with the Catholic Church and to align just about anybody else with the children of darkness. Endorsing him is at the least a questionable act. For millions President Trump personifies the very evil you decry. It was in fact a shameful letter.
The most positive thing I can say on this letter is indeed pray. Pray without preconception of the arrogance of knowing from your excess and treasure. No, pray from the poverty of your spirit.
Peace be with you,
Children of light (the preeminent Christian focus and phrase).
Children of darkness (usually associated with the Modernist movement). See Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius X PASCENDI DOMINICI GREGIS.
Offspring of the Woman
Offspring of the Serpent
Law of God
Kingdom of Heaven
Deep State – (circa 2000) – an alleged secret network of especially nonelected government officials and sometimes private entities (financial services and defense industries) operating extra-legally to influence and enact government policy.
Deep Church – No known generally accepted reference except to say shares the Deep State worries. Specific to the Church are the financial, sexual and liturgical norms of the Church being violated, diluted and ignored by a secret network..
Invisible Enemy – A Virus. A Satan. An unholy appliance between the Deep State and Deep Church. Multiple meanings.
References Used In His Letter
Appeal – Veritas Liberabit Vos (A document he wrote and posted and of which I previously responded).
Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana – modern Kosovo Serbia.
Apostolic Nuncio – former diplomat to the USA.
New World Order
Solve et Coagula – Dissolve and Coagulate (an Alchemy)
The appeal makes no attempt to document or prove any of its medical assertions.
The freedom of worship, expression and movement have been disproportionately and unjustly restricted in the name of good medicine.
Doubt of the COVID-19 contagiousness, danger and resistance to the virus.
To approve and spend money on ineffective vaccines and treatments.
To develop vaccines from aborted fetuses (he may have meant this as a generalized warning).
The appeal maintains that the true purpose of the epidemic response is:
The epidemic is a pretext to control the population.
To impose a permanent restrictions on freedom.
To isolate populations, i.e., ageism, ethnic or racial segregation.
To criminalize personal and social relationships, i.e., religious people.
To ignore shady business interests wanting to profit from the virus.
To allow experts to enjoy immunity of prosecution.
To reduce our lives to a virtual reality alone.
To establish an odious technological tyranny.
To eventually establish a world government beyond all control.
The appeal uses good and solid Catholic positions as well as the long standing governance worries into a certain synthesis of an argument of these multiple worries and concerns. It is an interesting blend of nationalism, Catholicism, and governance by way of political convention. Taken in context of the political language of the day, it is completely intertwined with American political drama.
It is better to describe the intention of the letter this way: Given the supernatural powers that attempt to subject humanity and the Church to oppression the Bishop sees the COVID-19 pandemic as a handy pretext to push forward this evil agenda.
The caution are as follows:
Medical assertions #1 to #4 above in the United States are matters of reasonable differences of opinion in support or against these statements (except #4 which seems a flip in for flavor).
Worldwide you would have to take a country by country review with a skeptical eye toward totalitarian nations.
As to the true purposes, I don’t buy most any of it. It’s a virus. It kills people and would by the millions if no intervention is attempted. We have hundreds of year experience with epidemics. No credible exaggeration.
The Church by the way once enjoyed ‘worldwide’ domination and simply had no problem with it. Just a reminder that those who dominate see no problem.
The disintegration of treaties and multi-State agreements makes the idea of a world government to be much less of a worry. Perhaps natural resource wars, trade wars and regional wars are a more immanent emerging problem.
Church Integrity – Free to
To govern itself.
To govern its members.
To perform its evangelization of the Good News.
To administer the Sacraments as the perpetual gifts of the Christ.
To opine and participate on governance of the population.
To offer prayer and supplication in the Name of God and His Son Jesus Christ for the salvation of and peaceful existence for humanity.
I don’t think any Catholic differs in this opinion. We must also agree that the Church, like the human family it is composed of, continues to learn the deeper meanings of the Gospel and adjust its social-cultural opinions accordingly. Faith and Science (including Sociology) play a part in informing the Church and the results in changes to the changeable doctrine. The steadfast and unchangeable remain. The wisdom to know the difference is a dynamic, constant progression in time just as the Divine revelation itself was and is a progression in time.
Real Common Good Worries
The virus need a cooperative and reliable response from all segments of the society. We are all at risk when any fail to do their part.
In the USA, some States suggested closing and some Sates ordered closings. In all cases, the Church decided on its own what to do. It wasn’t the State that restricted gatherings, the Church of its own good judgment decided so. Even still, the Mass continued with smaller gatherings according to the good judgment.
In other countries these worries are more palpable and such concerns should be addressed regionally.
Many people of good will and with no religion certainly agree about unregulated technology as tyrannical.
Many people of good will and with no religion agree that unregulated medical-industrial complex as oppression.
Irresponsible Arguments – Responsible Leadership
It is irresponsible to address the World Domination worry as the preeminent concern of this virus. We should not mirror the behaviors of others who commingle arguments in order to provide greater support for our core positions. It is beneath the Church to do so. The anti-religious have been around a very long time. Let’s not be their mirror.
The Gospel of Matthew in today’s reading is concerned with the necessity of reaching and living in the highest of love, that is the love of God. He helps us to let go by not holding so tightly the natural love of family in which we are born.
Really Jesus gives the list of tendency we have to limit ourselves and our acceptance of others.
Stopping our growth in love:
In our love of father or mother ‘more than’;
In our love of son or daughter ‘more than’; and
In our self-love by avoiding the costs of discipleship of loving others.
Letting Go Frees Up Our Hands
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
The amazing expanse that is your life is beyond the known and comfortable. Jesus is describing the willingness to lose one’s self-limiting importance and capacity and cleaving to Jesus so you will find the infinite graces of the life that is lived Christ.
Making no mistake here that this homily is not about a self-help program or merely about personal growth for the sake of growth.
This is about the relational growth in the person of Jesus.
Jesus prescribes that we receive him and in receiving him we receive the Father. There are many ways in which to receive Jesus especially in the Eucharistic gift that is Holy Communion.
Here though Jesus outlines the two basic ways to receive him, the reward hinted at and the outcome that comes from that.
A prophet and a prophet’s reward. The reward of receiving the prophet is what the prophet offers. A prophet speaks in the name of God. A prophet prescribes knowing and understanding God and relational reality of God. Jesus being a Prophet rewards us with knowing and trusting the Father. This is Faith.
A righteous man and a righteous man’s reward. The reward of receiving a righteous man is the gift of being in right relation with God and Man. Jesus being a righteous man through his behavior brings us the hopeful expectation that righteousness brings. Acting righteous with others is the very essence of hope, hope for oneself, hope for the other, hope for peace with God and peace with your fellow man. This is Hope.
Ah, the charity of Jesus. It is always described by inference of the natural spiritual outflow of Faith and Hope. Faith and Hope yield Charity founded in the love of the Lord.
Saint Jerome said this about the cold water: That none should say, I am poor and therefore cannot be hospitable, He takes away even this plea by the instance of a cup of cold water, given with good will. He says cold water, because in hot, poverty and lack of fuel might be pleaded. And whosoever shall give to drink to one of the least of these a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.
This is Love (Charity).
So by now you have guessed I am speaking to the rewards of the gifts of the theological virtues. Faith, hope and Love (Charity). Jesus in his most gentle way is making an example of his life in these virtues whos power comes from the Father through the Holy Spirit.
Death-Life or Life beyond Death
Saint Paul describes the letting go in these terms: because of Christ’s ultimate victory over death… Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.
So a life limited as described in the beginning (the list I wrote above), is a death-life and holding firm in faith and hope we can life, the Life beyond the worries of death.
Greetings on this the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: JER 20:10-13; PS 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35; ROM 5:12-15; MT 10:26-33
Please be forewarned this is a hard hitting homily.
A good priest friend of mine celebrated his 55th year ordained a priest. As part of his reflection on the year completed and the year to come he said, ‘Next year I will be holy’.
Knowing him in excess of 20 years I recognized the twin message. A bit of humor at his own expense and a recognition that sanctification is a lifelong process. It requires all the disciplines of the Church recommended for priests as well as the prayers of the faithful to help priests on their path of sanctification. In fact, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus includes the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. Maybe I should have prayed harder for him in 2020.
Never the less, he didn’t fail to examine his conscience as a part of his annual memorial of going prostrate and the kissing of the marble before the Lord.
Pitfalls and pratfalls abound in life. Jeremiah faced the constant possibility of any and all ‘misstep of mine’ would be the vector by which the attacks come. Sure enough this is a common reality that all of us should be able to relate to his situation in the ordinary sense of it. Office politics is a common phrase for it. Palace intrigue is the arena Jeremiah operated in the ancient Washington, DC.
In his case he was urging behavior in opposition to the popular sentiment. A stiffened necks and disobedient hearts had moved them to despise the warnings of Jeremiah and to look for any opportunity to destroy him.
Jeremiah was given a very difficult task about speaking the truth. Simply, ‘If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece. (Jer 15:19b). Not an easy task. Every prophet must master his desire to grow angry with a righteous anger that tramples the violator and the prophet together. Jesus instead insists upon being meek and humble.
Precious and Vile Time
We live in a precious and vile time. A time of contradiction and a fear that transcends viruses and bad governance but rather a fear of our own desires and the truth about those desires. The truth that exposes and reveals the inner fears we possess, rather, that possess us.
In modern language we call it rationalization.
Curses and Curses
(No names, true stories).
I have many acquaintances on LinkedIn from a long career in business. I also have many acquaintances of people I worshiped with in the Church. Both groups are on LinkedIn.
Years ago when our daughters were young my little girl developed some foul language. She taught another girl the same. Not the finest moment in the life but a story worth telling.
The parents of the second girl came to my home and retold the story as they know it. Fair enough I insisted my daughter listen to the complaint as it is in fact serious business to use foul language.
But things turned ugly. The father grew angrier and angrier as he told the same story over and over again. I would interject we understand and certainly apologize and will work to not repeat the problem. He insisted in repeating the story each time getting more and more agitated. I mean seriously agitated. Knowing something of people who have made a practice of entering in to a rage by slowly increasing volume and increasing the intensity of their feelings and comments something had to be done. Finally, I had to call an end to the diatribe. I explained he has made his point repeatedly, there is no point continuing and knew if I didn’t stop him this would enter possibly violent rage.
It took a bit to get him to stop and leave my home.
Story One Redux
Reading this man’s posts on LinkedIn he expresses by way of shares and link his disapproval of the Black Lives Matter movement. It hit me. Hard.
This man could barely contain himself over kids using bad words so much so that he might just have gone into a rage over it. Yet he explicitly will not defend Black men wanting to defend their family and children from implicit and overt racism.
In today’s Gospel Jesus warns ‘Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known’.
This error in thinking is described by Our Lord as FEAR. FEAR and all its entrapments. Fear of the different, fear of competing interests, fear of losing what you rightfully gained, and fear of every bias we are exposed to by the race baiters.
Being fearful and afraid are the enemies of the Christian life.
Even still Jesus warns if you deny him he will deny you. Period. You cannot act like a trapped animal or a discovered thief wanting to fight your way out of it.
Christian men who congratulate themselves on pious speech and the defense of proper grammar and yet scoff at men fighting for their very families by way of the BLM movement are fearful pagans. There is no Christ in them.
Met another former coworker in the grocery store yesterday. Pleasantries. Why aren’t you wearing a mask? Literally the litany of science denying, political advantage promoting excuses and proclamations.
I assured him that Covid-19 is very deadly not just for the aged whom he cares nothing for but for any who get sick. It is a complete gamble. I described my work in these days.
How many people have you seen die?
Really you ask such a question.
Can you be so willfully ignorant as to make claim the pandemic is a figment of imagination. Fear. Fear that your advantage will be lost by way of a virus.
He literally said the annual pneumonia deaths are equal to the COVID-19. Of course the difference is 3 months verses 12 months. The correlation is times 4. Madness. Fear of ideological loss nationwide allows him to calculate the death of old people as a statistical noise.
Natural death is not when we willfully allow those vulnerable to be subjected to mortal danger. There is no Christianity in this position.
Story Two Redux
Tomorrow I visit another family. In this case I must explain what induced coma is and the survival rate is 20%. In this case I have to describe how to be sanitary and isolation focused when six family members are infected and the head of household may never come home again. What did these people do wrong? Nothing, except be alive in a time where the President makes jokes about slowing down testing to improves his popular standing. A family facing possible annihilation. The Department of Health shrugs the shoulders. The newspapers write the warm fuzzy articles.
Even still Jesus warns if you deny him he will deny you. Period. You cannot act like a trapped animal or a discovered thief wanting to fight your way out of it.
Fear is Your God
How can it be that people are being discarded so thoughtlessly? COVID-19 families, do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. The Lord in his great love will answer you.
How can it be that people are being denied the fullness of BLM? Black families, do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. The Lord in his great love will answer you.
I say Fathers, Happy Father’s Day. Your Father in Heaven wants you to protect your families. Be persistent in BLM. Protest, march, speak up and let’s stop the madness.
But for you who act pious O warn you that you deny these little ones. Then know the certainty of Divine denial.