Posted by: matt25 | October 27, 2014

What Do You Steer By?

Ships at sea uses to steer by the stars and the sun in the days before the compass.  Cars and trucks used maps and signs in the days before GPS.  But they all used, and still use something to help guide them to where they want to be.  Many organizations have found it helpful to have a guide of sorts in place to help them chart their course in the form of a mission statement.  Some individuals have found it useful to have a personal mission statement as well.

As I was meditating upon the Scripture Readings for Mass last weekend, I inadvertently uncovered just such a personal mission statement.  I say inadvertently, but what I really mean is that I was guided through the process of prayerfully wrestling with thoughts and ideas to what was already there waiting for me to see.

Please consider reading the scriptures prior to listening to the recording below.  I hope you are blessed in listening as I was in preparing for my homily.  Please pray for me that I may  faithful in my first calling in marriage and my second in holy orders, as I pray now for you who will read and/or listen to my post exactly when you are supposed to.

Here is a link to the scriptures this post grew out of:   Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1                     EX 22:20-26

Responsorial Psalm       PS 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51

Reading II                    1 THES 1:5C-10

Gospel                         MT 22:34-40

My spoken homily is never an exact match to the written and the homily is meant to be heard rather than read but nonetheless here is the written form that I worked from.

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Some people say a wood-carver takes a piece of wood, something that we can all already appreciate in the beauty of its grain, texture and shape.  Then they carve it to reveal something else in the heart of the wood.  Something that was already present and waiting to be revealed.  An image of beauty that stays with the viewer in a way that the unrevealed wood did not.

I like to look at scripture that way sometimes.  I may take a reading and underline the key parts.  Then pray over those and perhaps highlight specific words that reveal something of the heart of the passage that I didn’t clearly see at first.  Let’s look at the reading from 1st Thessalonians that we heard today.  Now just what I highlighted…

You became imitators of the Lord, a model for all.

You turned to God who delivers us from the coming wrath.

That is something I can remember in a way that I could not remember the entire reading.

Jesus did that in a way today.  We heard in Matthew’s Gospel how Jesus was tested yet again by the Jewish authorities.  They wanted to put him in his place by asking him a question about the sacred scriptures that they thought he could never answer adequately.

But Jesus, saw into the heart of the scripture and revealed the answer that was already there.

The Scholar asked him what is the greatest commandment in the law?  On the face of it, the question appears very honest. The Pharisees identified 613 commandments in the Torah.  How could anyone remember all of them? And there was probably a great deal of debate over how some might be more important than others.

Jesus combines two in his answer:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” ( Dt 6:5).  And the second of equal importance is “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lv 19:18).

Jesus does not discard other commandments. In fact he explicitly adds:

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

There it was, brought to light in a way that all could see and remember!

The heart of the 613 commandments can be summed up in those two.

Perhaps if we take these two readings and connect them, we can bring out a single ideal upon which we can build our lives.  A single way of life which will not only fill us with joy, but also build the kingdom here on earth and attract others to do the same.

A mission statement, if you will, for our lives.

This is what I heard God say to us today, our mission statement.

We are imitators of the Lord, whom we love with all that we are, and above all else.

We are a model for all, joyfully sharing with them the love that is our salvation.

I will say that once more, slowly, so that you can pray it within your heart and mind as you hear it.

Can I get an Amen?

(tie in to Catholics Come Home Campaign)

Posted by: matt25 | October 14, 2014

Come To The Water

You know you are a sinner and you feel like your unholiness is a reason to stay away from church. First off, we are all sinners. If there were no sinners in church it would be completely empty. Second the nagging feeling in your heart, your “feeling bad” about your sins, is your personal invitation to accept the forgiveness offered to you through Jesus Christ. Come to the water. Be like the prodigal son who upon coming home was surprised by a forgiving father who held a feast in his honor. Yeah, God’s like that. Just come home.

All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
Come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!

Isaiah 55:1


Posted by: matt25 | October 4, 2014

St Francis Pray For Us

St Francis of Assisi was the guy who loved animals, right? Yes, but if that is the depth of your understanding of his life and spirituality you looked only at the book’s cover and never read it.


Francis was a bright and talented “life of the party” kind of guy.
He was a soldier who was wounded, imprisoned, and held for ransom.
He was a disillusioned young man in poor health who went for long walks in the countryside.
Some people, probably most, thought he was delusional when he said he heard a voice come from a crucifix on the wall.
Francis was a man who surrendered in a radical way to God’s calling.
He was used as an instrument of reform and renewal in people’s hearts and minds, and the Church.
Francis was the founder of a religious order, who received the stigmata.
I encourage you to look inside the book and read the chapters. But for now, let us pray.

St Francis pray for us.
Intercede for us before the Throne of Divine Mercy that we may hear God speak to us, and have the grace to say yes to what is asked, without stopping to count the cost.
Help us to see the incarnation of our God who is as close to us as the beating of our hearts, the out reached hand of the homeless, the hidden pain of the prisoner, and the warmth of the sun on our face.
Lead us to rebuild the church in our hearts, the church in our homes, the church in our country, and the church in our Church.
Encourage us to be radically loving intentional disciples of the Christ of God, Jesus our Savior.
St. Francis, pray for us.

Saturday 4 October 2014
About Today
St Francis of Assisi (1181 – 1226)

Francis was the son of a prosperous cloth merchant in Assisi. When his father objected to having his goods sold without his consent to pay for the restoration of a church, the bishop commanded Francis to repay the money. He did. He also renounced his father and gave back everything he had ever been given, even his garments. He began a life of perfect evangelical poverty, living by begging and even then only accepting the worst food that people had to give. He preached to all the love of God and the love of the created world; because, having renounced everything, he celebrated everything he received, or saw, or heard, as a gift. A rich man sold everything and joined him in living next to a leper colony; a canon from a neighbouring church gave up his position and joined them also. They looked into the Gospel and saw the story of the rich young man whom Jesus told to sell everything; they saw Jesus telling his disciples to take nothing with them on their journey; they saw Jesus saying that his followers must also carry his cross. And on that basis they founded an order. Francis went to Rome himself and persuaded the Pope to sanction it, though it must have seemed at once impractical and subversive, to set thousands of holy men wandering penniless round the towns and villages of Europe.
Because Francis was wearing an old brown garment begged from a peasant, tied round the middle with string, that became the Franciscan habit. Ten years later 5,000 men were wearing it; a hundred years later Dante was buried in it because it was more glorious than cloth of gold.
There is too much to say about Francis to fit here. He tried to convert the Muslims, or at least to attain martyrdom in doing so. He started the practice of setting up a crib in church to celebrate the Nativity.
Francis died in 1226, having started a revolution. The Franciscans endure to this day.

“Catholic Calendar” iPad app

Illustration is from

Posted by: matt25 | September 30, 2014

Incest and Rational Thinking About Pornography


Have you ever thought about incest and the reasons it isn’t accepted behavior? This isn’t a topic that most people in our culture ever consider rationally. If they consider it at all, they may not dig any deeper than emotional reactions or the possibility of birth defects in children born from the union of people who are closely related. In a world of shifting patterns of what is considered morally acceptable behavior, the taboo against incest still holds mostly firm but, since that may not be true for our children or their children, some deeper thinking is in order.

This is not a new question. In fact it was one that Thomas Aquinas addressed In the Supplement to his Summa, where he discusses questions of consanguinity. This was brought to my attention in a recent post by Christopher O. Tollefsen, Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina, in which he shows Aquinas had three arguments against incest which are strikingly similar to three observed results of the use of pornography. I recommend reading the entire post but here is a portion:

- First, there is an erosion of the sexual integrity of young men and women, who have no place to escape the pressures of a sexualized world.
– Second, use of porn among young people is correlated with early, and risky, sexual activity. Such activity is itself harmful to those engaged in it, to their families, and to the stability or even possibility of their future marriages.
– And third, porn use destabilizes marital relationships, bringing competition into the home. Indeed, the worry that wives cannot “compete” with what their husbands see online is a frequent complaint of those who are married to porn users.

Perhaps our cultural taboo against incest is quite wise after all. Perhaps the cultural acceptance of pornography is not. I know what I think about it and I know it is worth thinking about.

Posted by: matt25 | September 22, 2014

Windows and Androids and Apples Oh My!

While I am not sucked in by the iHype over the new phone release, here is some advice from Wired if you are tempted to take a bite out of that apple. I am glad that they mentioned rare earth minerals and the environmental cost associated with phone manufacturing as something to consider.

Posted by: matt25 | September 17, 2014

Does It Matter? Will You Shed Tears?

Are we living in a boiling cauldron which is brewing WWIII?

Pope Francis spoke on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War (13 September 1914), in a reflective and challenging way.

“even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction.”

“With the heart of a son, a brother, a father, I ask each of you, indeed for all of us, to have a conversion of heart: to move on from ‘What does it matter to me?’, to shed tears…humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep”.

You can read the Pope’s full remarks here:


Reflections and hard truths on racism & Ferguson by Ralph McCloud, Director, Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Originally posted on to go forth:

The recent tragic events in Ferguson, MO have brought to the forefront issues of racism, public accountability and the role of faith leaders in communities. Organizations supported by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development are working to rebuild community ties in Ferguson, and join the Archbishop of St. Louis in his call to “dismantle systemic racism”.

Recently, the online journal Millennial interviewed Ralph McCloud, director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, to discuss these issues. With the kind permission of Millennial, we’ve re-produced the interview in its entirety here.

Ralph McCloud serves as the executive director of the USCCB’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Ralph McCloud serves as the executive director of the USCCB’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

It seems as though one of the things motivating people to protest is the sense that racial bias is leading to unequal and unjust policing. Do you see this as a major problem in the country? If so, what can be done to address…

View original 972 more words

Posted by: matt25 | September 5, 2014

If You Know, What Are You Going To Do About It?

Do you know the answer? If you do share it with the children in your life. In fact share it with adults as well. Have a blessed day and TGIF in your heart, for it is a Friday that was blessed with the title “Good”.


Posted by: matt25 | September 3, 2014

Who Am I To Be A Watchman?

Once there was a monk and deacon who became a pope.  Today we remember him as St Gregory the Great.  This homily gives us a glimpse into a spirituality which we all should emulate because it is based in a true humility and understanding of the reality of our human weakness.
2014-09-03 20.50.29

From the Office of Readings

Memorial for Gregory the Great, Pope & Doctor

Second reading

From a homily on Ezekiel by Saint Gregory the Great, pope
For Christ’s love I do not spare myself in speaking of him

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Note that a man whom the Lord sends forth as a preacher is called a watchman. A watchman always stands on a height so that he can see from afar what is coming. Anyone appointed to be a watchman for the people must stand on a height for all his life to help them by his foresight.

How hard it is for me to say this, for by these very words I denounce myself. I cannot preach with any competence, and yet insofar as I do succeed, still I myself do not live my life according to my own preaching.

I do not deny my responsibility; I recognize that I am slothful and negligent, but perhaps the acknowledgment of my fault will win me pardon from my just judge. Indeed when I was in the monastery I could curb my idle talk and usually be absorbed in my prayers. Since I assumed the burden of pastoral care, my mind can no longer be collected; it is concerned with so many matters.

I am forced to consider the affairs of the Church and of the monasteries. I must weigh the lives and acts of individuals. I am responsible for the concerns of our citizens. I must worry about the invasions of roving bands of barbarians, and beware of the wolves who lie in wait for my flock. I must become an administrator lest the religious go in want. I must put up with certain robbers without losing patience and at times I must deal with them in all charity.

With my mind divided and torn to pieces by so many problems, how can I meditate or preach wholeheartedly without neglecting the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel? Moreover, in my position I must often communicate with worldly men. At times I let my tongue run, for if I am always severe in my judgments, the worldly will avoid me, and I can never attack them as I would. As a result I often listen patiently to chatter. And because I too am weak, I find myself drawn little by little into idle conversation, and I begin to talk freely about matters which once I would have avoided. What once I found tedious I now enjoy.

So who am I to be a watchman, for I do not stand on the mountain of action but lie down in the valley of weakness? Truly the all-powerful Creator and Redeemer of mankind can give me in spite of my weaknesses a higher life and effective speech; because I love him, I do not spare myself in speaking of him.

Posted by: matt25 | August 31, 2014

Get Out, Pick It Up & Follow

Those who follow my blog know that my written homily and my spoken homily are not an exact match.  I hope you are blessed by it either way but, homilies are meant to be heard rather than read so I hope you will listen to it first.  You can see the scriptures for the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Cycle A here.

I will foChristian Boatllow him, follow him wherever he may go
There isn’t an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep me away

I bet you didn’t expect to hear the Deacon singing a Little Peggy March tune from the pulpit at mass did you?

Well I am not the only one who has ever sung to begin a homily. I was reminded of that when I went to my friend Deacon Bill Boneberg’s funeral on Thursday and heard that he started the last homily he ever gave by singing a bit from a contemporary song. In his case it was “I Wanna Hold You Hand”. He was preaching the Gospel of Matthew from Chapter 14 and how when Jesus called to him, Peter got out of the boat to walk with Jesus on the water. Of course Peter became frightened and would have drowned if Jesus had not held his hand. But the main point of Bill’s homily was that Peter got out of the boat.

Bill then talked about how we are called to get out of the boat.
When the government continues to legalize and expand abortion, we have to get out of the boat.
When the mentally ill or the elderly, are forgotten, we have to get out of the boat.
When prisoners, immigrants, and the poor are considered to be of little value, we have to get out of the boat.

Bill tried to live that message. You may have heard how last Saturday morning he was electrocuted in Westfield while responding to a call about downed power lines. But the news media didn’t have all the information. It wasn’t until the OSHA investigative report came out, that we found out the rest of the story.

Bill was a professional. He had retired after a career with the electric company and then Westfield hired him to be their electrical supervisor. He knew what he was doing. When he arrived at the scene on Saturday he was the first one there. Normally, for safety reason he would have waited for his backup to arrive before addressing the situation but he didn’t on Saturday. He didn’t wait because there was a little 4 year old boy and his grandmother on the porch whose lives were in danger.

Jesus called and Bill got out of the boat….
He followed all of the safety protocols for handling downed wires, the long pole, the heavy duty rubber gloves… But, just as he was working to save the little boy and his grandmother, more of the wire came down and it wrapped around his leg. He was killed instantly.

Bill was preaching about Matthew chapter 14 not only with his singing and his words but with his life on that day. But, I think could also have been preaching about the Gospel of John chapter 15 which starts by with Jesus telling us he is the Vine and we the branches and ends by saying that we will have the Holy Spirit to help us to testify to the truth. In the middle of the chapter, in its core it says:
11“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
12 This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

This isn’t really a surprise to me because the whole of the scriptures has an integrity to it. It is the very word of God that was in the beginning with God and that was God. The integrity of that truth rubs off on those who pick up their cross daily and follow Jesus.

Bill was preaching about Matthew chapter 14 for that last homily but I couldn’t help but wonder how Bill would have preached about the Gospel we heard today from Matthew 16. He might have started out singing as I did. He might have talked about Peter again and said how this week he gets it wrong and is called an obstacle after just last week he got it so right and was told he was the rock on which the church would be built.
He might have talked about how Peter didn’t and we don’t always get it right but, we still have to get out of the boat. But I think he would have talked about being a disciple of Christ.

Today we hear Jesus say to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
He says we have to do 3 things:
1) we must deny ourselves
2) we must pick up our cross
3) we must follow him.

Are you like me?
Because I look at that and that first one, that self-denial thing I want to say to God,
“that is a bit tough, I think I want to warm up to that one God.
I’ll just save that for later..
Can I just set that aside for now and tackle number 2 God?
That’s okay with you God isn’t it?

Wait a minute.. Pick up my cross?
Hmmm… I am not sure I am ready for that one either.
Maybe I can start at the end and work backward.
You don’t mind do you God?
Yeah, that’s the ticket… It’ll be a last shall be first kind of thing.
I like that idea don’t you God?
After all it’s sort of almost scriptural in a way.

I know just how I’ll follow Jesus too.
He prayed, he prayed a lot, so I’ll pray.
That’s what I’ll do God I’ll pray, just like Jesus taught me.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, MY WILL BE DONE….

Wait that isn’t right is it.
But, it is frequently how it plays out when I pray. I tell god what I want.
I tell God I want is to be saved, preferably by a savior who doesn’t demand anything of me.
I tell God all the things I want, for myself.
I tell God all the things I want, for others.
I tell God all the things I want, for the world.
Not that any of that is a bad thing, we need to tell God those things but following the model of prayer
Jesus actually gave us, not what we wished he gave us…
Thy kingdom come, THY WILL BE DONE….

Jesus tells us, and shows us how that looks during his passion when he prays,
“My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”

We also heard in the 2nd reading what that looks like. We are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.
That means we live our lives only for God, not for ourselves.
That means we spend our time the way God wants us to, not the way we want.
That mean we use our abilities and talents the way God wants…
That means we spend our money on what God wants us to…

So it isn’t about us and what we want.
It is about surrendering our will and asking what God wants,
and then rather than conforming ourselves to worldly logic and morality,
we are transformed by the renewal of our minds,
and seek to discern what is the will of God.

We seek hear God’s call and how we are to deny ourselves, carry the cross, and follow Him:
By reading and reflecting on the holy scriptures to learn what God has already revealed to us.
By praying and about how God is calling us live every day.
By getting out of the boat when we know we should.
By frequent reception of the sacraments.

It isn’t easy to deny ourselves, carry the cross, and follow Him.
Sometimes picking up the cross means pain and suffering.
Sometimes it means that, for reasons that we cannot understand we have illnesses or even death.
Can God miraculously heal? Can God send angels to protect us from physical harm? Yes!
But sometimes he chooses not to.
Like last Saturday when in my thoughts Deacon Bill died much too soon.

But it was God’s will to call him home.
Sue told me that. Sue is Bill’s wife, and she told me that we have to remember the Word of God spoken by the prophet Isaiah (55:8-9) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—(oracle of the LORD). For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Sometimes denying myself, carrying the cross, and following Him is hard.
But it is worth it.
Sometimes we don’t want to get out of the boat. But if we do, we won’t be sorry.

“For … whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” and
“the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory…and
repay all according to their (his) conduct.”

I must follow him, ever since he touched my hand I knew
That near him I always must be
And nothing can keep him from me
He is my destiny

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