Sunday, April 28, 2019

The High Priest of Revelation

St. Paul tells us that Jesus is the one mediator between God and man. St. John in his first letter says Jesus is our advocate who ever pleads our cause to the Father. The Letter to the Hebrews constantly affirms that Jesus is our great high priest. We should not be surprised then that the Book of Revelation starts with Jesus dressed as a high priest of Israel, surrounded by liturgical imagery, and then shows that as human Messiah and divine Victor, he is the ideal mediator between fallen humanity and the heavenly Father. Revelation then, isn't a play-by-play of tribulations and the end of the space-time continuum as much as it is a vision of the perpetual worship in heaven, the constant struggle on earth, and of Jesus as leader of the faithful in both.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

3 Days, 1 Mystery, 6 Verbs

1) In Lent we usually force ourselves to not think about Easter. And then we get to Easter and forget Lent. We can struggle to hold the Paschal Mystery as one, and let Good Friday and Easter permeate each other.
2) And then, what happened in those mysterious High Holy Days? The apostles ransacked the prophets and psalms to try —not to explain so much as to describe— what happened within that Mystery. They use at least six different words to tell us what the Messiah did for man, and we might be selling them short by conflating those images and their scriptural contexts into "now I can go to heaven went I die."

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Holy Thursday: France & The Eucharist

Recently on social media I've seen an anonymous Roman prelate quoted commenting on some exercise in theological banter (a conference, the Council, a continuing education workshop?) who barked something like "Less chatter, more processions!" (I've also heard "banter" and "chit chat" so there must be some great Italian word behind this.) We moderns like to think that we are thinking people. But if so, we might want to rethink that, and see if we don't get more out of a life of story and song, icons and mysteries, wayside shrines and cool, dark churches. And to support that argument, for Holy Thursday I reflected on two modern Frenchmen who lived their Catholic Faith in the very teeth of secular opposition: Fran├žois Mauriac (interwar poet) and Fr. Jean-Marc Fournier (rescuer of Notre Dame cathedral). These two get it. And they don't mind living it aloud even if others don't. And they showcase the very best of 1,500 years of French Christianity—lived real and tangible and devout. [I'll see if I can get some text up later, or at least some of the best quotes from them and others.]

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Palm Sunday Preface

There are two qualities needed in order to be a good Palm Sunday homily: 1) say something worthwhile about the events of Holy Week/the Paschal Mystery, and 2) be short. You'll have to judge whether this homily achieved the first requirement, but at least it pulled off the second one.

For, though innocent, he suffered willingly for sinners
and accepted unjust condemnation to save the guilty.
His Death has washed away our sins,
and his Resurrection has purchased our justification.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Safe Haven Sunday: No Shame, No Fear

Sexual sin, and the shame that comes with it, is not new. The two-pronged response of Jesus in the gospel and for us trying to protect our family and community is: break through the shame and fear and then set the person on the road to freedom and recovery.  Don't hesitate to contact your priests to get referrals to therapy and recovery groups for yourself, your family, your spouse. (This is both the audio of me reading the Bishop's letter for Safe Haven Sunday and then going directly into the homily; if you heard the letter elsewhere you can start 01:45)

5th Sunday of Lent, Year C

(Sorry, this is just my notes; not the complete text of the homily)

Bishop's Letter

Safe haven Sunday, 25 dioceses

Ideal weekend to put it on, 

since obviously the gospel has to do with sins of the flesh...

And shame

And fear

And competing modes of how to respond to the struggle 

Ideal place for reflection: what do we do? 

2 answers even in Jesus’s own final statement:

Neither do I condemn

Go and sin no more

He lifts the shame

Sets on a path to solid freedom and recovery

We do hear in a thing like Safe Haven Sunday, A call to protect,
Be vigilant,
Lay down defenses,
Not pull punches in calling out what is dangerous,
Not be wishy washy
Not be naive

Little booklet is great on that.  

But we also recognize that shame is not our friend in this work, 
And shame will quickly undermine what we Christians actually want
For our brothers and sisters,
Sons and daughters

Ch. 6, the fourth wall

Safety and trust within the home...

Openness and healing, 
not shame and hiding

8yo sees a pop up or a weird scene on tv

Safety to say it

11yo curious and tempted

Vulnerable—through trust and love—to admit

14yo to admit and say I need help. I’m caught in this

We might be tempted to assume it’s just a certain age range or a single gender. 

It’s not. 

So we, as families and as a community, need to be putting out the constant message:

Do not be afraid 

Do not be ashamed

Quoting Jesus: “Then neither to I condemn you”

This isn’t your fault; 
this didn’t start with you; 
you were targeted from an early age by marketers and media makers 

You are not alone. 

We will get you help. 

We won’t abandon you in this.

We love you; 
we don’t despise you.  

We will do anything it takes to help you get free

But know that—because of our great love for you—we will fight hard against the thing that is tormenting you.

Who do we go to? 

Talk to me. 

Talk to Fr. Kilcawley. 

He’s got tons of counselors to refer you to. 

Most likely, we would visit with you and send you to some trained to really start recovery. 

Even if you want to tell priests nothing and just get a referral: awesome. 

And like I said, this doesn’t apply to just one gender,
and it isn’t a message that stops at 14 or 18 or 22. 

We are now to the point where multiple generations have been surrounded and attacked, 

and probably with more casualties than escapees. 

And so to the adult here:

If this is a problem for you, or

For a spouse

For a friend

For an adult son or daughter

For a boyfriend or girlfriend

Again, the message of today’s gospel is the same:

We love you

We will help you

We cannot be a community of shame

We have to be a community of healing 

....of recovery 

Of vulnerability and transparency

“Vulnerability kills shame”

Help is available. 

Mentioned therapy

Kilcawley: Therapy, recovery group, eventually spiritual direction 

Recovery groups

About 40 years ago, 2 guys who were struggling, took the AA model, the Alcoholics Anonymous model, and applied it to these kind of behaviors 

There is one of those meetings for men right here in Wahoo every week. 

Not the kind of thing that is advertised openly

But if you come to one of us priests, 
either in the confessional or in person, 
we can tell you when 
and where it meets. 


Not one in Wahoo that I know 

All-women Lincoln, 

I think Omaha too

Could have one here. All you need is 2-3 people who will be honest and vulnerable and can meet regularly. 

SAnon: for, not the addict, but those affected by it—spouse, kids, etc.

Books and Cards

Concluding thought

Beside the gospel today, it’s great this happens in Lent

We know that Jesus came to take on—not only our sin—but our shame as well

He came that his wounds might heal our wounds

So we can, in our turn, break down those barriers of shame

To say—even though it’s awkward—we can talk about this...

We need to talk about this. 

Open up that path of communication 

So that what is broken may be healed

And what is hidden in darkness may come to light