I recently heard a talk by Fr Michael Gaitley in which he spoke about three great acts of Divine Mercy which have great significance in each of our lives. A request to those who have studied Latin. Please have mercy on me for mentioning a Latin phrase which I believe I mispronounced.

https://soundcloud.com/deacon-matt-hens/aka-divine-mercy-sunday-2019

Advertisements
Posted by: matt25 | March 25, 2019

Stop, Look, and Listen

When I was a child and had to cross the street, my mother taught me to stop, look, and listen so I would make the right decision about what to do. Nothing was more important than that, in that moment. Of course I also taught that practice to my children precisely because it is important, and now they teach that practice to their children, because it is important.

In a similar way, because it is important, the Church teaches us to practice the devotion of Lent, preparing ourselves for a deeply profound remembrance of the Passion of our Lord Jesus. We began by reflecting on how Jesus’ spent 40 days in the desert with prayer and fasting to face the temptations that he would have to overcome in order to one day cry out to the Father in the garden, “Your will, not mine,be done!” So we journey in small ways with prayer, fasting and almsgiving to face the temptations that we need to overcome in our lives so that we may hear and answer “Yes!” to God’s calling in our lives.

How appropriate it is then, that we remember today the Annunciation Of The Lord, when Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word”, when she said “Yes!” to God’s calling in her life.

Our mother is speaking to us in this solemn day of remembrance to stop, look, and listen. Seek out the quiet in your own life where God can speak. Make the effort to overcome the distractions of constant activity which prevent your spirit from hearing what God wants to say to you. Create the space to hear the voice of the Lord, and “harden not your heart”. Then you like Mary may be able to know what God created you for, and choose to say yes to God’s calling in your life. Nothing is more important than that. Nothing can give you greater joy.

Posted by: matt25 | February 24, 2019

A Homily For My Sister Becky

It’s been almost 4 months since my sister Becky went home to the Lord. For the first time today I listened to the message I preached at her funeral. Maybe I listened just due to the passage of time, or maybe it was the fact that my dear friend Jack, who was like a brother to me, also passed last week, but if I am honest, it was probably both. Anyway, I guess I am ready to post it now. Perhaps it will bring someone else a measure of comfort in their own mourning as well. May God bless you and keep you always.

https://soundcloud.com/deacon-matt-hens/beckys-homily-2018-11-03

Posted by: matt25 | December 31, 2018

Dreaming Of What To Say On A Sunday

This is the the story of Homily that actually came to me in a dream for The Feast of The Holy Family Of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. After celebrating The Nativity of the Lord at Midnight Mass at my parish of St Joseph Church, I did not get to sleep until around 3:30 AM. I woke up after only three hours of sleep on Christmas morning and forced myself to go back to sleep, because I did not want to be tired and irritable with my children and grandchildren for our Christmas festivities. I woke up about an hour later from a dream about this homily. I immediately got out of bed and wrote down some notes, roughing out what I would preach before the dream faded. I thought I was mostly done with my preparations for the weekend liturgies.

God did not think so, and mercifully decided to give me a little more help. A couple of days later I awoke from another dream about this homily. This time it was about how I should change the way I would start it. So again I immediately got up and wrote additional notes about the introduction.

I am very grateful for all of the ways that God speaks to me, including dreams. I pray that you may hear and see God everywhere in your life, and that you never leave him behind as you move forward through your years.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

https://soundcloud.com/deacon-matt-hens/oh-no-we-left-him-behind-holy

Posted by: matt25 | August 31, 2018

When Jesus Was Hurt As A Boy

I can’t help but wonder about the life of Jesus sometimes. After all, the gospels don’t give us every detail of his life. Today, I started to think about Jesus as a young boy. How long did it take him to learn how to walk ? What were his first words ? What kind of games did he like to play with the other children? What did he do if he fell down and skinned his knee? It was this last question that gave me pause today. I started to think about that, and in my mind I saw an image of him running to his mother in tears. And she did what any good mother would do, she embraced him, washed his bloody knee, may have bandaged it if it was necessary, and perhaps even kissed his boo boo.

Mary comforts Jesus from The Passion of Christ

Mary comforts Jesus from The Passion of Christ

As sinners do we not all fall down in our spiritual lives? Do we not all skin our knees? Has not the church itself fallen and hurt itself badly? I don’t think that it would be wrong for us as individuals and as a church to go running to Mary in tears. After all, she was given to us by Jesus as our mother at the foot of the cross.

So let’s run to Mary our mother. She will embrace us, clean and bandage our wounds, perhaps even kiss them. Then as she always does, point us toward our brother, Jesus.

This brief reflection was a reponse in my heart prompted by reading a blog by Fr. Broom. Perhaps it will prompt something for you as well. Here is the link.

http://fatherbroom.com/blog/2018/08/sad-depressed-in-desolation-turn-to-mary/

Posted by: matt25 | August 27, 2018

How Can You Still Be A Catholic?

Last week my pastor and I discussed the need to address the recent wave of revelations regarding the sex abuse scandal in the Church.  We knew it had to be done and agreed that it was possible that it might be a good idea for it to come from a deacon.  I pray that my meager efforts to wrestle with the pain, confusion, and suffering in a homily were led by the Holy Spirit, and of some value to those who heard it at Mass.  I pray that it will be of some value to you who listen here as well.  Just push the play button below in the orange circle.  Peace be with you.

 

to_whom_shall_we_go

Posted by: matt25 | February 22, 2018

What Is My Place?

fl.vu/b6Y3Z

Posted by: matt25 | February 20, 2018

Today!

org.wordpress.WordPressShare non intercettato

Posted by: matt25 | February 10, 2018

Give It Up

Giving up usually carries a negative connotation of quitting in a contest we want to win, but Lent turns that on it’s head. During Lent, giving up means an increased striving for something we deeply desire, a deeper relationship with God. When considering what to give up for Lent, it is important to understand this is why you are doing it. One aspect for me, is to figuratively “go into the desert”. The desert is a place where there is less. There is less vegetation, less animal life, less noise, less stuff to distract.

Why is less good? After all, we live in a culture of more that invites us to super-size everything and to wash it down with a big gulp of more. Isn’t that a problem though? We fill our lives with so much that we leave precious little room for God. In our hectic lives, we often times struggle to work God in. We may fill our time with unimportant diversions, or important and worthwhile activities but, fill them we do, quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Perhaps you can join me in an exercise this year in preparation for Lent. Prayerfully examine your daily life. Write down, or at least think about, the things that you actually do every day. Not in an abstract way, but in a specific and concrete fashion. As you think about your activities and interactions with others, one at a time, ask these or similar questions.

Is it a sinful?

is it a habit that I no longer consider as bad but I really know is wrong if I think about it?

Is it a necessary activity but, I have a negative attitude when I do it?

Is it neither good nor bad, but it keeps me from giving time to prayer each day?

Does it build others up or tear them down?

I do not mean for this to be an all inclusive list, just a catalyst for prayerful consideration. This year, I want my Lent to be super-sized by fasting from something that keeps God at arms length in my life. I want to go into the desert with Jesus and let him cast out the demons in my life. Then, I will be better able to take a big gulp of Easter joy when I come out on the other side.

Posted by: matt25 | January 25, 2018

Alexa, Elvis, and Mary

I received an echo dot for Christmas last month. I finally got around to using it a bit. I know those of you who have known me for years will find it difficult to believe that I received a gift of technology and it took me a month to start using it. Still, times change and I guess I do as well.

I have mastered asking Alexa, to update me on the score of sporting events, report on the weather, to tell me a joke, and to make a decision by flipping a coin for me. I have also asked it to play music for me, and it was this that led me to think it could play a recording of the Rosary that I could pray with this morning so I said, “Alexa, play the Rosary”. The light ring dutifully glowed blue and I heard something unexpected and new to me. Elvis Presley singing his May 15th, 1971 recording of “The Miracle of the Rosary”.

This was surprising to me because, although I knew Elvis had a body of work that included Gospel music, I had never heard this particular song released on his 1972 album, Elvis Now. So I did a bit of digging and found a fascinating article about the song and its origin from 2014 in the Dominicana. It turns out that a Rockabilly musician, the man who taught young Elvis to play the guitar, wrote the song. But you should enjoy the article in full, so here it is.

Elvis & The Rosary?!?!?!?

By Br. John Maria Devaney, O.P.| June 4, 2014|Blessed Virgin Mary, Music
Elvis Teaching His Daughter Lisa Marie How To Pray

In May of 1971, the 15th to be exact, Elvis Aaron Presley recorded a song entitled “The Miracle of the Rosary”. It would be released the following year on February 20, 1972 on the album entitled Elvis Now!  It’s one of the great mysteries of faith why Elvis, raised in the evangelical Christian denomination Assemblies of God, recorded a song devoted to arguably the greatest Catholic sacramental, the rosary. For Dominican friars and our history of promoting the rosary, this question bears particular interest. How many songs have been recorded about the rosary by major artists and released on a major record label? None… except for Elvis. Now Elvis recorded and performed dozens of other hymns and spirituals over his whole career. Interestingly enough, of the 14 Grammy nominations from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), his only three wins were for gospel recordings: the album “How Great Thou Art” (1967), the album “He Touched Me” (1972), and his live concert recording in Memphis of the song “How Great Thou Art” (1974). Don’t forget this is the person who has sold over one billion albums, more than any other person in recording history.

It wasn’t Elvis who actually wrote “Miracle of The Rosary,”  but an early pioneer of rockabilly music and the man who first taught Elvis to play guitar at the age of 13. The writer’s name was Lee Denson. Denson’s father, Rev. James Denson, ran the Poplar Street Mission, a Pentecostal church that Elvis and his mother and father attended in Memphis after moving there in 1948. It was here that the two families became friends. Denson went on to have a music career with a few minor hits, but obviously never to the same success as Elvis. It was in 1960, however, that Denson penned an English version of the “Ave Maria.” With lack of interest from his publishers because it was of a religious nature, Denson was living in L.A. at the time and took it to Elvis, knowing his love of Gospel music. Elvis, who was in town filming a movie, received Denson warmly at his Bel-Air home where he performed it for him. A little later on, one of Elvis’ entourage reached out to Denson about the publishing, but nothing ever came of that at the time. Then over a decade later, Denson got a call from one of his old band mates in Memphis, telling him to sit down as he broke the news that Elvis had recorded a version of it.  Denson couldn’t believe that after all that time, Elvis had held onto the song and had actually recorded it. (Don’t forget, Lee Denson grew up evangelical as well, and there is no record of him being a Catholic. Maybe somewhere there is another story which explains why Lee Denson wrote the song in the first place. Was there a basket of rosaries in the back of the pentecostal mission his father ran? We’ll never know.)

What moved Elvis to record that song so many years later? That we must leave to providence and the mystery of God’s plan for salvation. Yet we can speculate, and in the case of Elvis and his salvation, it is worth it. Here’s where we can begin: Jesus loves his mother perfectly, dearly, and greater than any of us can love her, or our own mothers.  For decades Elvis sang of Jesus (and the rest of the Holy Trinity), and he even recorded a version of the perfect prayer, the Our Father, all via what we commonly call Gospel Music. But what is the Rosary? Nothing else but the Prayer of the Gospels! The whole point of the Rosary – “The Miracle of the Rosary” if you will – is to ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to bring us closer to her Son, as we reflect on his life, death, and resurrection with each bead that slips through our fingers. The miracle is that more and more, as the years go by in our life of faith, the Mother of God intercedes for us to her son Jesus, who obtains grace upon grace for ourselves, the Church – the Mystical Body of Christ – and the whole world.  Only in heaven will we find out all of the Rosary’s many miracles. Dare we say that this song is the capstone of Elvis’ Gospel recordings, and perhaps of his whole recording career? For what light can his secular work really hold to this subject matter?

Not being Catholic, Elvis obviously did not have the fullness of the sacramental life that Christ left us, but he was baptized. We will only find out in heaven how God extended his hand of mercy to Elvis throughout his life. At the foot of the cross, Jesus gave Mary to care for all members of his Church, and every Hail Mary prayed in the rosary begs the blessed Mother to pray for us “now and at  the hour of our death.”   Elvis himself sang the Hail Mary, and remember the old adage “singing is like praying twice.”  Is not the most loving Mother of her children concerned about the salvation of all God’s adopted children? Was she praying for Elvis at the hour of his death? I have no doubt in my mind!

“The Miracle of the Rosary” lyrics

Oh Blessed Mother we pray to Thee

Thanks for the miracle of Your Rosary

Only You can hold back

Your Holy Son’s hand

Long enough for the whole world to understand

Hail Mary full of grace

The Lord is with Thee

Blessed are thou among women

And blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus

Oh Holy Mary dear Mother of God

Please pray for us sinners

Now and at the hour of our death

And give thanks once again

For the miracle of Your Rosary

Image: Elvis teaching his daughter Lisa Marie how to pray

Older Posts »

Categories