Sunday, October 28, 2018

Two Homilies for the Price of One

Once again, I didn't get last weekend's homily up in a timely manner (but I did still get a blogpost out). So here I am posting both last week's homily "Ransom for Many" and this weekend's, "Believe Because Trustworthy" all together. 

Oct. 21, "Ransom for Many"

Oct. 28, "Believe Because Trustworthy"

Monday, October 22, 2018

Saved By Grace Through Faith

Today's first reading, Ephesians 2:1-10, prompted me to want to share a class topic from this summer's Totus Tuus program with all of you over the age of 13. 

When reading St. Paul, especially in Romans and Galatians, but even in Ephesians, it can sound like Paul is maybe a little bit Protestant. <<read scarily>> I mean, he said today that "For by grace you have been saved through is the gift of God; it is not from works." But if that sounds non-Catholic, then we need to get to know Paul better and brush up on the Council of Trent's Decree on Justification.

So this summer, as the Totus Tuus teams taught the Creed, and specifically the class "The Forgiveness of Sins", we taught the kiddos St. Paul and The Council of Trent! We just didn't tell them we were teaching them that, since it's a thing that even a Catholic college student might assume is some of the deepest theology in the any Church document.

The key to understanding lies in this sequence:

1) We are forgiven...
2) by God...
3) in the Messiah...
4) by grace...
5) through faith...
6) by our conversion/metanoia...
7a) at first repentance (sacrament of baptism)...
7b) at second repentance (sacrament of penance)

(Imagine these in a long line stretching across a black board, and then the last two, 7a and 7b, branching off of 6 together.)

The genius of this list is that the entire sequence can be read as a single sentence, and it is true. But also you can drop out any and all of the following points and it's still true.

We are forgiven. (True)
We are forgiven by God through faith. (True)
We are forgiven by grace. (True)
We are forgiven in the Messiah at first repentance. (True)
We are forgiven at second repentance. (True)

This is the Catholic teaching on forgiveness/being saved/being justified/reckoned right/being redeemed. And is almost fractal in its ability to be completely true in its longest and shortest forms. 

Now, you might ask, what is this first repentance/second repentance mumbo jumbo? You've been a Catholic for forty years and you've never heard of this!

Well, that is also Trent. But it's spelled out in a different document, the Decree on Penance and Extreme Unction.

But don't worry if you didn't know about this until just today. I only learned about it in the last year, and I learned about it through a silly hobbit meme. Yup.

I saw this and I was totally lost and so I had to look up the term "second penance" and I learned it has a long history running from as early as the Shepherd of Hermas (~140 A.D.) through the Scholastics up to Trent. 

Baptism, where we reject Satan and accept the Messiah through faith, where we are forgiven by God by His utterly free gift (grace), is where we make our conversion and are justified—that is, declared a part of God's family in Jesus the Messiah. This is first repentance.

But well, sometimes we turn away from God. Sometimes we reject him, leave the family farm, and stomp off to waste Dad's money with prostitutes, and end up sleeping in a pig sty. But God is merciful, in his grace he lets us convert ourselves, and in the Messiah we can return to that living faith-working-through-love of Galatians 5:6. We cannot redo our Baptism, but this new conversion, this new repentance has a name: the Sacrament of Penance. This is second repentance. And thanks be to God for that.

So now you've learned about justification, about first and second repentance, and you've also learned that the Council of Trent isn't as scary as you once had thought. You are almost as smart as an 8th grader now. 

If you want to see me train the Totus Tuus teachers in this and see it all worked out on the board, you can watch this video.

Also, for Catechism references on all this, see CCC 976-983 (forgiveness of sins), 1427-1429 (second penance), and 595-618 (Jesus died for our sins). 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sanctuary Voting and other Announcements

The main topic from the pulpit today was my explaining our options for voting for sanctuary renovations. This recording though also includes the announcements because I gave an impassioned and somewhat stern commentary on the Bishop's Appeal for Vocations collection. If you're not in our diocese, or if you already gave generously, you can skip to 4:13 on the recording. Otherwise, listen to it and then skip ahead.

The recording is from Saturday evening's Mass, but there were a couple of questions after that Mass and so I added two more points to the homilies on Sunday morning. I will add the text of those clarifications right here:

Two questions came up after the Mass last night:
Who can vote? Most places would say “adults in the parish family”. And by that we mean, those who are past high school. Whether they live at home or are off at school, they can vote. If they are still in high school, they don’t get too. Sorry about that, but you have to draw a line somewhere, and that seems easier than at “age 18”, where half the high school seniors would be able to vote, and the other half not.
Another question that came up, and it goes along with the idea of matching colors and styles: If we do either Option 1 or 2, what do we do about our current stained wood main altar? Won’t it not match? Correct, the dark wood and the white paint would not match, but the companies who are offering Option 1 and 2 are both willing to make a matching white front altar if we want one.

And if you only want to read the text of the homily, it is substantially the same as the letter on the website where parishioners can go to vote.