To Be, Or Not To Be: A Seminarian

A blog by the Diocese of Brooklyn

 

Countdown to Ordination: Day 82

Posted by on Apr 5, 2014 at 6:00 am | Uncategorized

As we wrap up Jesus’ sermon on the mount today, reading the Gospel according to St. Matthew: Chapter 7, I don’t have my own reflection for you today.

This morning I will have the grace to lead the RCIA Candidates of St. Bonaventure and St. Benedict the Moor parish in a morning of reflection. Then tomorrow I will offer for the Rosarian society of the same parish my first annual “Last Seven Words of Christ.” So I’m going to be a little occupied with last-minute study, prayer and preparation for the next couple of days.

But in the mean time, allow me to share with you a moderately long blog post from a consciously Catholic politician Oklahoma state representative Rebecca Hamilton. In the post, she is lamenting the fact that the Church seems to lack string, bold teachers and leaders especially among the clergy. I thank God I didn’t write the article. I might be kicked out of the seminary for presumption and pride. And while I don’t have enough learning and experience to say that her observations are universally true, I have to admit that I’ve seen a good deal of clerical weakness where instead strength was required.

Jesus, Himself, is very bold and challenging throughout the sermon on the mount (Matt. ch 5-7). Let us pray that the new class of priests may (while always being respectful) may never sacrifice Truth.

 

Countdown to Ordination: Day 83

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 at 6:00 am | Uncategorized

Bishop DiMarzio’s visit yesterday was a great benefit for the seminary. It seemed that all the men had a fruitful meeting with him. He had a long day, meeting with men at ten minute intervals from 11:00AM straight through to 4:00PM with only a break for Mass.

At Mass, he used a rare chalice which was given to the seminary as a gift from Blessed Pope John Paul II. It is certainly  a beautiful, expensive and noteworthy chalice. It was brought out of a special safe. While I was purifying the chalices after Mass, I quickly stole a snap shot before the chalice was whisked away back to the secret safe.

It’s funny for me to ogling this extraordinary chalice while reading the Gospel according to St. Matthew: Chapter 6

In verses 24 and 25 of this chapter we read “You cannot serve God and mammon.  Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?”

Mammon is another name for worldy riches. I say: hey, Jesus said not to worry about food and drink. But he didn’t say not to worry about the vessels!

I’m joking of course. But, in truth, there is something to be learned here. How can Christ tell us not to worry about food and drink? Won’t I starve to death while I’m waiting for God to just give me food?

No, we shouldn’t simply wait for food and drink, and all the necessities of life to be handed to us on a silver platter. But God has given us talents and skills which naturally come for human being to do the work they need to gain what they need to survive.

In the birds of the air, which Jesus uses as an example, don’t simply sit around to be fed magically. The fly around and use their bird sense to get what they need….but they’re not worried about it. They simply carry out their business as they should. Our Lord teaches us today to do what we can, what we should, as best as we can and the whole shall be taken care of.

And since this chapter begins with a reference to alms giving, we must not that some people aren’t always able to work; they aren’t able to make ends meet. For them, we pray that a kind stranger, a beneficiary, sometimes even the state government can step in to help them with their needs.

There will always be opportunities to give form the extra we have to others who have less. And there will always be opportunities to use of gifts and talents (given by God) to help us to fulfills the common needs we have.

But the best way for us to remember those opportunities to give, and the best way for us to live a life in union with God, appreciating all His gifts and using them wisely is to united with what the Douay-Rheims translation calls “supersubstantial bread.” That Supersubstantial bread is the Eucharist, the Bread of Life which helps us to live now and in the future with God in heaven. The drink which gives us the power to find new ways to alleviate the world’s pain and to assure mankind of God’s presence and care for us is the Precious Blood held in the Chalice.

Jesus doesn’t tell us to get rid of all “nice” things like shiny chalices in churches or laymen with well-made cars. But we must always revisit our priorities and remember a genuine, generous spirit when giving to the poor. The priest, in a spirit of poverty and simplicity must always remember that Christ’s Body and Blood, the priest’s own soul, and the souls of his people are infinitely greater than any chalice, altar, building, or or man-made thing -because all of these have come directly from God. The Eucharist itself comes from God to man to help man return to God. And that must always be our priority.

Let us pray for priests, especially this new class, that they may remain faithful to their priorities, seeking for the Kingdom of God in all things. Let us pray for young men, that they may find in their talents, possessions, and education wonderful gifts given by God and always at His service. May they have the courage and confidence to lay aside even their most prized possessions or life-plans, if they have the sense that God is calling them to be priests.

 

Countdown to Ordination: Day 84

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 at 6:00 am | Uncategorized

Today the men from Brooklyn will meet with Bishop DiMarzio. Every year around this time, he makes his official visit to the seminary.

I think it coincides well with our readings of the Gospel according to St. Matthew: Chapter 5.the Gospel according to St. Matthew: Chapter 5.

Jesus is the High Priest of the world. He lifts up His body, together with every created thing in the universe and offers them to the Father as a sacrifice of love. Jesus is also the supreme teacher. By His words in the Gospel, the unwritten Traditions which He handed unto and entrusted to the Apostles, and Teaching Authority He left in the hands of the Church to live with, breathe, and use the Holy Spirit is the Church’s decision-making, Christ teaches us every day. In this section of the Gospel, we find the image of Christ as teacher made very clear since He goes up a mountain (like Moses) and instructs the people.

This chapter is admittedly long and there are many elements which I could touch upon for today. But I’ll simply note the wonderful grace it is to have Christ, the Son of God and Son of Mary teach us. Many people wonder “what am I supposed to do with my life,” and “why am I on this planet.” They seem to throw their questions out into the air as if no one would hear them or care. And yet two thousand years ago, God came down to earth to show them, speak to them, and assist them tangibly to figure out their goals in life and the reason why they are here: to live heaven on earth –to make this planet as much like heaven as they possibly can– and still yet to prepare themselves for the true heavenly kingdom that is infinitively better than we can even imagine while still on earth. That’s the goal. And Christ teaches us along the way.

So too, it’s a great grace to have the bishop visit us. Not only is every bishop the High Priest in his diocese, he is also the principle teacher in the diocese: he warns against the elements in the local and global society that can harm our faith, he corrects the misjudgements of the culture around us and encourages new projects and efforts to bring Christ into the world, making sure that they conform with the Gospel teachings and the Magisterium (the supreme teaching authority) of the whole Church throughout the ages! It’s a significantly important position and one that our Bishop takes seriously.

On this day Bishop DiMarzio will celebrate Mass for the house and meet individually for ten to fifteen minutes with each man. He finds out their concerns, encourages their good efforts, and (occasionally) give them the spurs to do better where they’ve been slacking in their formation. I remember on one such occasion, I remarked to the Bishop: “I don’t find the academics challenging enough.” Rather than critique the faculty or the formation system, he replied to me pointedly, “that means you’re not working hard enough.” Very true. I learned from that brief interaction a truth that has stuck with me throughout formation for the priesthood: The man who waits to be given more work is a slave. The man who takes more work upon himself is a servant.

We may not think that ten to fifteen minutes is much. But when the moment is graced by the presence of the Holy Spirit, ten  to fifteen minutes with such an important person can profoundly change a person’s perspective on himself and on the world. With the presence of the Holy Spirit, even five minutes in the confessional with a priest or in the audience as a priest preaches can be extremely transformative.

Please pray for all the Brooklyn men meeting with the Bishop today (especially the deacons). May they receive a word of encouragement and ,where necessary, a spur to do greater things. Pray as well that these future priests may always live united to the Holy Spirit and the Church in order to give the same heavenly teachings of Christ to the faithful people of God from the confessional and the pulpit.

 

Countdown to Ordination: Day 85

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 at 6:00 am | Uncategorized

At the seminary today, the priests from the archdiocese of New York share a day of recollection with Cardinal Dolan. Lent is a busy time of year for priests. Missions, confessions, spring plantings, taxes, school budgets, preparations for all the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter, etc. Because of the busy-ness, it’s an excellent time for priests to ignore saying the Divine Office (which is required for every priest to pray), an excellent time to grow slack and lazy in the spiritual life because they are already doing so much work. In short, it’s an excellent time for the devil and his angels.

So I’m glad to see that over 200 priests have taken the day off -not for a golf game or the movies- (as important as those activities are to restore the body) but for a spiritual day around their bishop, Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Cardinal Dolan isn’t really taking the day off as he walks around getting to know his men, doling out bear hugs and slapping them on the back in his characteristic fashion. Getting to know so many men individually and deeply personally is a lot more work than I could ever handle. Then this evening, he’ll be celebrating Mass for a group of Young Adults who meet at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the first Wednesday of each month.

For our reflection today on the Gospel according to St. Matthew: Chapter 4, we find ourselves most appropriately in the desert. Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights…and afterward He was hungry. That’s got to be the most dramatically understated verse in the Bible.

In any case, despite His hunger, Jesus does not succumb to the temptations of the Evil One. He is tempted first to turn stones into bread, then to throw Himself off of the pinnacle of the Temple, and finally to bow down and worship Satan. Clearly, when tempting Jesus, Satan did not know exactly to Whom he was speaking.  He offers Jesus three temptations which can be summed up as Pleasure, Pride, and Power.

In truth, these are temptations that plague us everyday: either to follow our passions and indulge in pleasures, to test God’s love for us and force His hand in helping us, or to grab after more power than is our right. Jesus side-steps these temptations in a calculated, grace-filled manner. As the reward to His unfailing focus on what the Father desires for Him to do, angels come and minister unto Jesus. He then goes out to formally begin His mission to help others resist the Devil and give themselves over to God. And He begins the work by calling a few disciples to help Him.

Similarly, the bishop is the high priest of his diocese. When a man is ordained priest, his soul is changed and he is conformed, made one with Christ. When a priest is ordained bishop, he is elevated even further to have the fullness of the priesthood of Christ. With Cardinal Dolan visiting today, leading, encouraging, and strengthening his priests in a season where we who are active in the church can be most distracted, we have a good example of priestly spirituality and fraternity for the sake of the kingdom.

When these priest go out at the end of the day, having listened to conferences by the Cardinal and other priests, having united in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and filled with the peace of fraternal love, they’ll be that much more prepared to serve the people of God.

Let us pray for the priest on their day of recollection and those who were unable to make it. But let us pray especially for any priests who are being tempted, attacked by the Devil, or have fallen to temptation already. Perhaps a man is living a life in the spiritual desert alone, and at some point abandoned the help which is present in his  brothers and has fallen to temptations in the wilderness. Let us pray he  finds his way back to the Spring of Living Water and, carried back on the shoulders of his band of brothers, he may be healed and return to full service in the healing of others.

 

Countdown to Ordination: Day 86

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 at 6:00 am | Uncategorized

Today is set to be a special day for vocations. Cardinal Dolan is visiting the seminary this evening for Evening Prayer. He’ll bring with him about 250-300 young men from around the archdiocese. These are men who have been selected by their pastors and teachers as having some signs of a possible call to priesthood. Please pray for the guests this evening.

In the meantime, here’s the Gospel according to St. Matthew: Chapter 3.

What strikes me in this chapter is John the Baptist’s baptism homily. When he sees the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized he yells out “Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come?” Well, that certainly got their attention. It isn’t exactly the kind of homily you heard at Mass last Sunday, right? Why not?

Why don’t priests “tell it like it is?” So many times well-meaning Catholics will lament that priests don’t give the riot act from the pulpit. “They should say this and they should say that.” On the otherhand there are some “pastorally-sensitive” Catholics who would rather not say anything even remotely corrective to anyone.

St. John the Baptist’s words seem particularly harsh for us modern Americans. Believe me, I’m sure the Pharisees and Sadduccees took offense at what John said. But if John is the forerunner of the Lord, that means he prepares the way of the Lord with justice AND with mercy.  He uses some harsh words because it is what he believed would bring this specific group to repentance. The same words might not work on another group. They might just become hardened, bitter, and end up rejecting God and going to hell. Surely, they would be responsible for their own damnation. But the preacher would be partly responsible as well…for giving them a word which was too hard to receive, for being insensitive to a different mode of listening and understanding.

Like John the Baptist, a true preacher will know his audience, what words to use, what to leave out for next time, and what must be presented unavoidably.

I witnessed some time ago a priest yell at the sacristan like a child because the man put out the wrong chalice. Hardly necessary. It was brutish and a sad way to begin preparing for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. On the other hand, I was at a Mass recently when the “liturgical dance team” (whatever that is) performed a surprise routine in the sanctuary which featured a tap-dancing solo at the bridge of the song. And the pastor watched and applauded, seemingly incapable to say that what was done was wrong.

As mere human beings, when it comes to correction we’re either going to make a mistake on the side of being overly harsh in the name of “justice” or overly limp in the name of “mercy.” And the priest’s preaching may take the same form as well. What I think St. John the Baptist teaches us today, though, is that with prayer the Holy Spirit will give us the words to address each situation according to the measure it deserves. We can speak to each sinner or soon-to-be saint or to each congregation with the words they need to hear from God. My vocation to live as a true Catholic Christian began when a religious sister challenged me, saying “what kind of a Catholic are you?” If she asked anyone else that question, they would have left the Catholic Church. But that was exactly the word I needed at the time I needed to hear it. Others, like a good friend of mine, are converted by kind conversation and the open, truthful, loving disposition of Catholics they know.

Pray for the next class of priests. They may be tempted to preach the words they think people need to hear and end up crushing their spirit. Or they may muffle the voice of God and refuse to say what is needed for fear of offending. Let us pray that they are given the Holy Spirit to offer the Word to His people in exactly the manner each needs according to His desire.

 

Countdown to Ordination: Day 88

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 at 6:00 am | Uncategorized

Hey it’s Day 88!

The Men are still waiting to hear from the diocese whether they’ll be ordained this year…*hint, hint* to any diocesan officials reading this page.

Just by that comment, my chances might have gotten slimmer.

In any case, here’s the audio for The Gospel according to St. Matthew: Chapter 2.

One thing I’d like for us to pay attention to in this reading is the repeated sense of following a call.

The Magi follow a star to a place not well-known to see a king new-born whose family they have never met.

St. Joseph in the last chapter and in this listens to the angel who appears to him: first the angel tells him to take Mary into his home; now he’s told to flee into Egypt. Then, when Herod has died, Joseph is instructed by the angel to return to Israel.

But what is most mysterious to me is when Joseph reaches Israel, he realizes that Herod’s son is on the throne and he is fearful. Then the text reads that “being warned in sleep retired into the quarters of Galilee.” It is interesting to me that the angel of the Lord would instruct Joseph to return only to have him make another change mid-course to live in another town which isn’t his home.

It is an example to me of the many different paths of a vocation. Many of us reading here have felt a call from the Lord in a specific way: married life, monastic life, active religious life, the priesthood. Some haven’t found their calls and are still asking the Lord. They feel an inkling, a nudge from the Lord but they are fearful of making a mistake, wasting time by entering the wrong religious order, or dating the wrong mate.

Listen: on your own, you won’t figure it out. None of us can. But by praying, consulting with very close friends and a spiritual director, we can start to make feeble steps in one direction or another. If a man or woman is not seriously dating or married, hey…the world is practically open. One can walk three feet in one direction, visit a religious order and enter it and find that the Lord is nudging him further. Perhaps one man will start in an active religious order and feel moved to go further an become a monk in a community. Perhaps one feels the calls to be a monk in a community and then feels moved to become a solitary monk. Perhaps one feels called to be a priest and after a couple of years in seminary finds that the married life was God’s design for him.

There’s no shame is changing course if one goes honestly, open-heartedly and simply wants to do what God wants of him or her at that moment. There are some points of “no return” like ordination to the diaconate or when one is finally married. But all up unto the point, make baby steps: call, visit, enter a religious order. Believe me, the other brothers and sisters in the community, your superiors and your spiritual director in a community will not let you “make a mistake.” A man who prays earnestly find out after some time whether our Lord wants him to stay or go. But he won’t know completely if if sits like a bump on a log and never makes a step.

Pray for the deacon seminarians who have followed the voice of the Lord in their various paths. Some have taken four years, others seven years. For some, this has been a twelve year journey because they started in high-school or had to be members of their religious orders for a few years before beginning studies for the priesthood. Whatever their paths, our Lord has them here and now and have carefully cultivated each man for the tasks He will inspire in the near future.

Pray for the men discerning the priesthood or religious life who are kind of shifting their feet back and forth indecisively, the man who think he has to have it all figured out before doing anything. If the man has no other pressing obligations, may the Lord give him the grace of action, to do immediately and boldly what he’s felt stirring in his heart. If his path turns in a way he had not foreseen, that he had not expected from the beginning, let him praise God and take further steps to accomplish His will until we all come to the fulfillment of our vocations: life with Christ in this earthly journey and in the heavenly Homeland to come.

 

Countdown to Ordination: Day 89

Posted by on Mar 30, 2014 at 6:00 am | Uncategorized

Today begins the countdown to Ordination. I’ve decided to punctuate this time with daily readings from the Gospel.

Yesterday I posted a voice recording of Chapter 1 of Matthew in preparation for today.

For our reflection today:

Let us consider, this long list of “begots.”

“Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Judas and his brethren. And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar.” Mt 1:2-3

And the list seems to go on and on and on. Why do we have to know all of these ancestors? Matthew starts us off in what seems to be a very boring way. But when we look closely at the list, we see some names connected to stories that may be familiar to us. This is going to take a little more homework but if you check out the women on the list, you’ll notice that they didn’t give birth to the sons in the most ideal situations…not exactly traditional marriages. Almost all of those listed are men but when you see “so-and-so begot so-and-so jr. of what’s-her-name,” the “of” lets you know that the name to follow is a woman. So going down the list, you can spot all of the women by finding the “of.”

Thamar (Genesis chapter 38): after her first husband died for offending the Lord, her second husband also died because he used her but didn’t want to have children with her. Lastly, she deceived her Father-in-law into having a child with her. [Believe me, he wasn’t all that innocent because he thought she was just a local prostitute.]

And one of the sons she had, Phares, ends up being one of Jesus’ ancestors. …The list goes on…

Rahab (Joshua 2): was a prostitute turned spy who helped the Israelites to conquer the kingdom of Jericho. She wasn’t an Israelite herself but, I suppose, someone saw something good in her and the settled down together (probably something like Richard Grier and Sandra Bullock in “Pretty Woman”).

Ruth (Ruth 1): Is a Moabite woman who married into the Jewish faith like Rahab. But she was a pagan and didn’t know the God of Israel. She freely chose to become a follower of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. She even says to her mother in law “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16-17). [They must have thought she was pretty strange to have such a good relationship with her mother-in-law.]

“Her that had been the wife of Urias” (2 Samuel 11): Usually called Bathsheba…she was duped into a relationship by David the King. Bathsheba was already married. To covered up the pregnancy and make things look legitimate, the king sends her husband Urias into a dangerous section of a battle

And yet at the bottom of this whole list, we find St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary, a match made in heaven. All of Jesus’ ancestors gave birth to children through the natural means. But in Joseph and Mary we find a couple who have a Son by supernatural means.

 

Some of Jesus’ ancestors had impure of irregular marital unions and sexual unions. St. Joseph and Mary were surely irregular since he remained chaste and she was forever a Virgin…and yet a Mother. You will never find a more pure couple.

In our day and age, some men applying for the seminary have family trees that could use a little pruning, if you know what I mean. The same is true about most families. Somewhere along the line, someone might have been born out wedlock, after a rape, because of deception, or infidelity, etc. But know this, man makes mistakes but God doesn’t. Every single human being is intended and love, even if their earthly parents had not intended them or had loved them.

Joseph was destined to be the chaste protector of Mary and she was destined to be the Mother of our Lord. Because they followed God’s will, they were able to persevere through all temptation and fulfill their mission in life, one of the most blessed missions on earth.

Pray for the men to be ordained who have been brought to this blessed moment by the thousands of natural unions, maybe hundreds of weird ancestors, maybe a few dozen “unfortunate circumstances.” Some of the men, may have even made big mistakes in their own past. But whatever the history, at present our Lord has a new life for them that is unimaginably special, anointed, and fruitful…where they will give birth to thousands of spiritual children in Baptism, Confession, and through the Holy Eucharist. Thousands of souls in this life and millions of souls in the generations to come will enter into the heavenly kingdom because of these men. How good of our Lord to bring them to this moment.

Lastly, pray for the man who has yet to apply to the seminary, who thinks his sins or the issues in his family, or the hurt that has been passed on to him is insurmountable. He too, can be Christ in the world if God wills it.

 

 

 

Countdown to Ordination: Day 90

Tomorrow starts the Gospel countdown to ordination. So, I suppose this is the countdown to the countdown.

I thought today to post a resource for those who want certain access on mobile devices:

There are plenty of Apps available with free versions of the Catholic Bible. But, in addition, as an easier way of getting through each chapter, some of the teens might appreciate an audio version to go along. You know, it’s tough getting through a long list of “begot, begot, begot” without some change in tone of voice.

So I’ve started to record an audio Bible version and will post the next chapter each day. If you miss a day; don’t give up. Just click play on your Zune, Winamp, or Ipod player and carry on.

Unfortunately most translations are still under copyright and I’m not allowed to record myself reading from those versions. There’s a old version called the Douay-Rheims. The English is a little old. So it kind of sounds like reading Shakespeare. But that’s alright. You’ll survive. Find a version on www.DRBO.org

I will post the mp3 files and short reflections on this blog. You can also check Facebook: “Pray for the Brooklyn Priests of 2014” for the same updates.

You can check there or on this page for updates.

Here’s the beginning: The Gospel according to St. Matthew: Chapter 1

 

Pray for the Brooklyn Priests of 2014

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Uncategorized

The Deacon Seminarians for the Diocese of Brooklyn are looking forward to their ordination to the priesthood of Jesus Christ in less than one hundred days.

You can share in the joy of their anticipation by praying each day that the new priest may have the heart of Jesus Christ. Try this for a challenge: pray one single chapter from the Gospel each day. On Sunday March 30th start with the first chapter of Matthew, then Mark, then Luke, then John. 89 Chapters in all.

By the date of ordination, June 28th, you’ll have read the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ and helped these men by your prayers.

I’ve already asked the young altar servers and ushers at my parish to begin preparing and helping the ordinandi in this way. Are you in?

 

The Word made Flesh and preached through flesh.

Posted by on Dec 27, 2013 at 5:00 am | Uncategorized

Between the Fall and Spring semesters, the seminarians are scattered all over the map with different activities.

Typically those who are from the United States return home for some rest, relaxation, and a home-cooked meal. Many of the men paid visits to their home-parishes where they grew up and have been supported in their vocations. With our schedule as it is, sometimes months or even a whole year goes by where we don’t get to spend substantial time with the parishioners and priests in the parish which inspired our vocaions. The Christmas break is a good time to catch up. I refer to these times as the cameo appearances which reminds the people that I’m still in the seminary and they should continue praying for me. It’s encouraging for me to see many familiar faces and some new ones. Seeing, talking with, and praying with them after Mass reminds me of the motive for the toil of my academic studies: the salvation of souls (even those I’ve not yet met), the healing of families, and the joy in fostering communion with the Lord.

This year of my formation is a little different, however. As a deacon I served at Ss. Bonaventure Church (where I am assigned for the year) at their Mass during the night (9PM). At many parishes this is usually a midnight Mass. But, I suppose, because the Mass at St. Bonaventure is typically 2 hours, the pastor felt that it might be a little more that folks can take in at midnight. Trthfully speaking though, I think that cogregation would have no problem with Mass if it lasted even three hours at midnight. I rarely run into a congregation where people so enthusiastically enjoy so much preaching and so much music on a regular basis. It was a joy to continue the begin the celebration of Christmas with them and a beaustiful sacrifice of the Mass on Christmas Eve.

As soon as I had finished shaking hands and seeing people off to their cars, I jumped into my own car and raced over to Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Jamaica where the pastor, Fr. Christopher O’Connor graciously allowed me to preach at the Midnight Mass. Needless to say, I was quite a nervous (even to the point of editing my homily in the glow of street lamps whenever I stopped and a red light.

Truth be told: I’m usually an effective homilist. But this time, I laid an egg. The homily, delivered in English and Spanish, was so painfully drawn out some people might have thought we transitioned from Advent to Lent.

I recovered the next day, however. I offered the homily at St. Bennedict the Moor Church (the other worship site of the parish where I’m assigned). This (even more edited) version was much more solid, direct, and (if I may say so) effectively edifying. I felt it in my bones as I stepped down from the pulpit.

Sometimes a preacher hasn’t gone over the material enough and fails for lack of preparation. Sometimes he failed because he went over the material too much. Thankfully, though, Christmas reminds us that we can’t get it right on our own. If anyone is edified by a homily on Christ it is because of the grace of Christ working through the preacher. He is not only the Word proclaimed but also the linguist (so to speak) helping us to translate the Word into a understandable and helpful message.

May the grace of Christ in our hearts prepare us to share Him with everyone we meet according to our station in life (teenager or college student, husband or wife, catechist, deacon, or priest).

And may our Lord raise up new shepherds to call his people out of darkness and into the marvelous light of the Incarnate God.

Several months ago my family moved to Florida and I had the opportunity to visit them there for the first time.

 

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