Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Lifetime Sermon Program

Given the plethora of readings in the Novus Ordo lectionary there is a dual temptation to the preacher of either avoiding most of the readings altogether or giving in to generic redundancy of religious cliches or scattered preaching without any clear direction, especially over the course of years of preaching.

I suggest the preacher begin by preaching six years on the Gospel texts (beginning in your diaconal year), writing out your homilies and saving them on hard copy (i.e. paper!), creating with them a filing system with one file per Sunday/Holy Day. Use a spiral notebook for daily homilies (noting the date and the liturgical day for each daily entry).

All homilies should be based on the scripture heavily using The Baltimore Catechism and Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma as the catechetical foundation of all your preaching, for clarity and brevity's sake! The number one flaw in all Catholic contemporary instruction is vague verbosity!!!

If you need additional quotes and examples go to The Catechism of the Council of Trent, A Catholic Catechism (John Hardon, S.J.), The Catechism of the Catholic Church, The 1983 Code of Canon Law and the Liturgical Books themselves (especially pre-1962). An annotated Catholic Bible (e.g. Navarra) is also invaluable for a synopsis of the Fathers' commentaries on the scriptures. Saint Thomas Aquinas' Catena Aurea and his commentaries on the Pauline Corpus, etc. are also very helpful.

Having read and used the above works for over ten years, what I now most often use to get a quick clear meaning of the text is an Italian annotated bible by Archbishop Antonio Martini first published in 1778 of which there are many used editions available from the late 19th century. Mine is an 1896 Napoli edition. There is also a similar work I have seen in Spanish but I do not know the author.

The six initial years of catechetical preaching from the liturgical Gospel texts will give you a solid preaching base which is an invaluable personal resource you may use in all future sermon preparation.

Next, in Advent of your seventh year of preaching (when you have completed the initial six years on the Gospels) begin the four year preaching cycle below. In twelve years you will have systematically preached three times on all the readings of the Mass (including the Psalms and the sanctoral cycle) and an additional time on the three year Sunday cycle (which now makes three times for the Sunday cycle). This four year preaching cycle is thorough and minimizes repetition.

Four Year Sermon Program

Sundays                                                                         Weekdays

. Gospel                                                                          Gospel

. 1st Reading (Old Testament)                                     1st Reading (Year 1)

. 2nd Reading (Epistle)                                               1st Reading (Year 2)

IV. Psalm                                                                         Psalm/Sanctoral

Using this method you will focus on one reading in turn at every Mass and go deeper and deeper in your appreciation of the Word of God. You will also be able to use the old homilies as quick preparation for future sermons when the cycle repeats itself, adding new anecdotes and adjusting as necessary. Finally, you might even prayerfully study each of the books of the scripture during the same period that the texts from that book are being read at Mass, for further reflection.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Health Care 101: Contraception is Not Healthy

The real underlying and taboo issue in the present health care debate is contraception!

Contraception should not be provided to anyone by anyone because it is not health care at all but a cover up for sexual immorality. Instead, Natural Family Planning instruction should be provided for every adult citizen and contraception should be against the law along with every type of fornication, adultery, sodomy, prostitution, incest and rape.

Contraception is bad for your health. It is not true medicine because medicine is for the sick and not for the healthy. If one that is healthy should take a remedy the remedy alters the patient's health, i.e. makes him unhealthy. Healthy young people are by nature potentially fertile. To alter the nature of that healthy fertility in any way is to damage the health of that person. And to distort the procreative act with a condom is dirty. The only real solution to irresponsible procreation is chastity and Natural Family Planning. Contraception is not the answer. Abortion is not the answer. Education and self-discipline are the only true solution. No medicine can remedy the need for human responsibility and upright behavior.

What we need is to recognize the limits of science and technology. Nature and morality are the limits of science. It is objective morality which determines the legitimate limits of technology and not technology which determines morality. We need to empower our women and youth with education in virtue and cease to corrupt them with contraceptive poison and dirty devices for immorality. We must promote and defend virginal integrity above all! Natural Family Planning does just that.

The college scene with it's men and women in close quarters to live and to sleep together is a set up for self-destruction. It is the systematic corruption of our youth and therefore of our future families. We make our youth live as if there were no right and wrong and therefore as if God were not. The surest way to eliminate God from the minds and hearts of men and women is to corrupt them with immoral behavior. That is most unhealthy for the individual and for marriage and for the entire society. All stability is thereby undermined. No. Contraception is not helpful or healthy for anyone, it should not be allowed never mind paid for by upright citizens. We do support however public funding of Natural Family Planning for our schools and all health care facilities to help cure our sick nation with the only truly healthy behavior--chaste.

In this regard please read The Nightingale Pledge below, the oath of nurses upon graduation from nursing school, a pledge to promote good health and to do no harm. And at the same link you will find the Hippocratic Oath which is the age old oath for doctors which explicitely forbids any type of abortion (including "the morning after pill" and "Plan B" extra strong abortifacient pills).

By far the greatest preventable health problem in America today is sexual immorality of every form which comes from our official and individual rejection of God Jesus Christ. (cf. Romans 1)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Is the Church Open? Is there a Place in Your Church to Light a Candle?

These were the questions from a caller just now to this Newark, New Jesey parish.

The answer to both was yes!
--"We have candles all over the church, wherever you like; and we have perpetual adoration with 24/7 access to the whole church (after hours through the side door by ringing the bell [go to for more information]).
Go to for a video presentation.

Alas, that such questions should even have to be asked!

Thus is the state of the Church. Thus the state of the world!


The traditional Christian use of self inflicted physical mortification is not physically much different from or even more uncomfortable than any type of modern physical training for physical self development, dieting, exercise, etc. Who would not instinctively slap himself in order to stay awake at the car wheel! It is simply self discipline in order to be able to better apply oneself.

The purpose of the discipline is the Christian novelty: to serve the Lord! The purpose is God. It is spiritual. And the source is His love. Each man needs to become lord (king) of himself to have the freedom to be useful for God.

It is good to consider this truth on the Solemnity of Christ the King. Every man must rule himself in order to serve God. That is what is meant by Saint Paul's passage on athletics.

Do you not know that those who run in a race, all indeed run, but one receives the prize? So run as to obtain it. And everyone in a contest abstains from all things--and they indeed to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable. I, therefore, so run as not without a purpose; I so fight as not beating the air; but I chastise my body and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps after preaching to others I myself should be rejected. 1Cor. 9:24-27

Every man needs to dominate himself. Some do it simply for themselves, others for the world, for glory, etc. We, however, dominate ourselves in the Lord and for the Lord, to stand blameless before Him, our Life; to be a king in Christ the King. And, really, no man can achieve authentic self-domination except by the mercy and the power of Jesus Christ Crucified. He is the only strong Man. His Cross is the source of strength, self-domination in living the Truth in Goodness unto death!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Corporal Mortification

The Italian Journalist Andrea Tornielle, in his new book, Santo Subito, reveals the late Holy Father's habitual use of the cilice to keep him conscious of the Cross . Blessed Mother Teresa also used and promoted the use of the cilice and the discipline. Here we have the most prominent extraordinary persons of our sensual age, revered for their extraordinary holiness and compassion, mortifying the flesh in the traditional Catholic manner under the counsel of their confessors. This makes it clear that the Da Vinci Code mentality needs to reassess its stigma of corporal mortification as some obscurantist practice of an inhuman superstitious occult sect. (cilice catalogue)

A Kernel of Pope Benedict's Encyclicals is in Pascal

"Not only do we not know God except through Jesus Christ, but we do not know ourselves except through Jesus Christ; we do not know life, death, except through Jesus Christ. Outside of Jesus Christ we do not know what our life is nor what our death is, nor what God is nor what we ourselves are.

"Thus, without the Scriptures, which only have Jesus Christ as their aim, we do not know anything at all, and we do not see anything but obscurity and confusion in the nature of God and in our own nature." Pensees, Edition de Michel Le Guern, 396

And I add (to complete this thought with Benedict's constant emphasis on experience)...

To know Christ one must love Him, and to love Him one must follow Him.
Now compare the Pensees quote above to Caritas in Veritate, 78 "Without God man neither knows which way to go, nor even understand who he is...'Apart from me [says the Lord] you can do nothing' (Jn 15:5) and...'I am with you always, to the close of the age' (Mt 28:20). Or again from the beginning of the encyclical

Man does not develop through his own powers, nor can development
simply be handed to him. In the course of history, it was often maintained that the creation of institutions was sufficient to guarantee the fulfillment of humanity's right to development. Unfortunately, too much confidence was place in those institutions, as if they were able to deliver the desired objective automatically. In reality, institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone. Moreover, such development requires a transcendent vision of the person, it needs God: without him, development is either denied, or entrusted exclusively to man, who falls into the trap of thinking he can bring about his own salvation, and ends up promoting a dehumanized form of development. Only through an encounter with God are we able to see in the other something more than just another creature, to recognize the divine image in the other, thus truly coming to discover him or her and to mature in a love that 'becomes concern and car for the other.' (Caritas in Veritate, 11)

World Cinema (Classic and New)

For decades I have been searching almost in vain for ready, easy (and preferably free) access to the greatest films in the world (ideally in the original language [perhaps with optional Spanish or English subtitles]) and I must say that even with the Internet and our present state of "globalization" we in the USA have not progressed at all in this area. Why can't our theaters, our cable companies, our video rentals or our websites provide us with some access to the wealth of cinematographic creations the world over? I envision and long for the day when every home has a dozen foreign equivalents to our Turner Classic Movies channel. It is all too rare for our cable movie channels to show a foreign film.

For example, I should like to watch the two top 2009 Cannes Festival winners:

"Das weisse Band" and

"Un Prophete".

As far as I can tell they are not available here at all in any venue!!! (Nor are the winners of previous years or of the myriad film festivals every year throughout the world: e.g. the Middle East and the Far East) Why is that? This is not Russia! I suppose even there they have access to great foreign films throughout the country.

If someone could tap this untapped area of the media for us it seems to me that it could easily become the biggest movie industry in the country (given the excellent quality of much of the foreign film industry and given the largely foreign makeup of our own people here). Maybe it's a job for Google: e.g. If that should happen we could all replace the television with the computer and America would broaden its artistic horizon to include the world. Of course, there would have to be some way to warn against (and preferably censor) the ubiquitous pornography on the screen.

In this regard I must say there has been some small progress from Ignatius Press which sells a limited line of fine videos from around the world and EWTN which now has EWTN CINEMA Saturday nights at 8PM. The most recent film I'm seeing there (Part 2 tonight) is "San Giuseppe Moscati": a superb drama of an extraordinary life.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sedes Sapientiae

The first reading of today's Mass (Wisdom 7:22b-8:1) speaks of the qualities of Wisdom. Mary is the Seat of Wisdom: in her alone among mere mortals you will find every perfect quality of Wisdom, Wisdom is perfectly hers, perhaps this is also why in literature wisdom is personified as She and as a sort of Spouse of God. I would transpose Mary's name in the passage as follows.

"For in [Mary] is the spirit of understanding: holy, one, manifold, subtile, eloquent, active, undefiled, sure, sweet, loving that which is good, quick, which nothing hindereth, beneficent, gentle, kind, steadfast, assured, secure, having all power, overseeing all things, and containing all spirits, intelligible, pure, subtile. For [Mary] is more active than all active things: and reacheth everywhere by reason of her purity. For she is a vapor of the power of God, and a certain pure emanation of the glory of the almighty God: and therefore no defiled thing cometh into her. For she is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God's majesty, and the image of his goodness.

"And being but one, [Mary] can do all things: and remaining in herself the same, she reneweth all things and through nations conveyeth herself into holy souls. [Mary] maketh the friends of God and prophets. For God loveth none but him that dwelleth with [Our Lady]. For she is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of the stars: being compared with the light, she is found before it. For after this cometh night, but no evil can overcome [Mary].

You can also substitute "the Church" for "Mary" or "Wisdom" in this passage.  Our Lady is a perfect image of the Church, the Spouse of God.

[Mary] reacheth therefore from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly..."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Show That You Care

A thought for the day.

People don't care what you know until they know that you care.

P.S. This thought comes from a poster I saw this morning in a local hospital which read "People don't care how much we know until we show how much we care."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Marriage Sermon

Marriage Gen. 2:18-24, Jn 2:1-12 (Cana)

"...[A]nd the two become one flesh." (v. 24b) The "one flesh" union is what we celebrate today: the union of a man and a woman, made by the Creator (God), faithful, fruitful and "for good" (permanent).

M. and F., God unites you as you unite to each other in Him, in Jesus Christ our Blessed Lord. It is spiritual. The difference between Church marriage and all other union is the spiritual reality: God unites you, which means you are really united, deeply, from the inside, and from above. (Apparently the same as any romantic union but really this is different, it is true because it is supernatural and not just natural: like the Incarnation [not just man but true God], like the Eucharist [no longer bread but the Flesh and Blood of God], like the baptized believer versus the non-believer, and again like the person in the state of sanctifying grace versus one in mortal sin.) God, in you, makes this different.

You unite sacramentally by Christ who was at the Wedding Feast of Cana, and since then sanctifies every marriage of those who marry in Him. As expressed in the title of Fulton Sheen's book on marriage It Takes Three to Get Married. (There are four relationships in holy marriage: 1) M. (baptized) with Christ, 2) F. (baptized) with Christ, 3) M. and F. with each other, and 4) M. and F. together with Christ.)

This holy union (on earth today) was made by God (from the beginning of creation) for the sincere, transparent relations of the woman and the man, for the complete commitment (giving of self) in persevering union ("getting along;" together, "working [all] things out") and for the continuation and civilizing of the human species (generously accepting the God-given children and undertaking to civilize, i.e. Christianize, them by raising them to follow Christ). Holy marriage is the principle school of mutual respect, forgiveness, self-denial, selfless service and sincere prayer. God willed that this should be the context of the bringing of new life into the world: the openness to which is so essential to the joy, the excitement and, indeed, the sacrifice of married life. (N.B. Love/Life double inseparable meaning of the holy marital act).

We know, though, that in human relations and in the family egotism and sin must constantly be overcome for the reign of Christ's peace; that, as the years pass the love must mature, otherwise it will become sterile and even bad (like bad wine: vinegar), which is spiritually poor, gives no joy, is unpleasant and even harmful.

For love to mature it needs to reach the love of Jesus, it needs to find and accept the Cross, because love needs God!, and He loves us through the Cross (cf. Deus Caritas Est). So, we too are to love Him through the Cross. "And the wine having run short, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.'" (Jn.2:3) And Christ gives the best wine (at the end!) Commit yourself, M and N., to Him. Love Christ and love the Cross (and "the Cup") with frequent repentance, (go frequently [monthly] to Confession => forgiveness; e.g. Charlton Heston's testimony to the journalist who, at his golden jubilee asked the secret for his fidelity in Hollywood: "three words: 'I was wrong'" [repentance is the school of forgiveness {receive mercy to give mercy}]), family Mass (receive the mystery of the Redemption) on the Lord's day (even daily); and worthily receive Holy Communion (eat God in the Flesh!) there. Everything depends on Him, on His love, on His forgiveness, He does the miracle of the wine (providing every good thing) for those who have Him in their marriage. Please notice one more significant element here, that Christ does the miracle for marriage because His Mother noticed the need and asked Him to act.

M. and F., have a true devotion to Our Blessed Mother, Mary, she notices the need of the couple at Cana and gets Our Lord to perform the miracle for them. She always obtains from God what is needed for the faithful marriage--the sweetness, the peace, the joy and the selfless love and endless generosity symbolized by the gallons and gallons of the best wine. Pray the daily family Rosary for her constant care for your home.

M. and F., your hearts, your love, your marriage, made by God Himself, becomes, in this way, the fountain of God's life and love in the world, starting with your Christian/Catholic home founded here today in this Church with your blessed vows.

American Anti-Catholic Penchant

Archbishop Timothy Dolan's excellent article on Anti-Catholicism as America's favorite pass time was rejected by The New York Times. The Archbishop posted the censored article on his blog at the archdiocesan website and pasted below.


The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.
By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!
Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.
It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”
If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:
  • On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community.According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”
Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.
  • On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.
  • Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.
  • Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription — along with every other German teenage boy — into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.
True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm — the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives — is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.
I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness forALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?
The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.
I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.
Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Daylight Savings Time's Anti-Christian Bias

Speaking of time...

Have you ever wondered why the time change should be on The Lord's Day and thereby disrupt the Christian observance thereof? Invariably, every year many Christians miss the Sunday observance because of the early Sunday morning time change, which first hits us (at least those of us who are not hooked on American mass media) when we show up late in the Spring and early in the Fall for Sunday worship (and I'm not sure which is more disconcerting).

It would be much fairer to have the time change for Saturday rather than Sunday morning. Even Monday (or any day of the week) would be preferable, i.e. it would be preferable that people be confused on a work day than on the day of worship. Or perhaps a federal holiday might be convenient for the hour changes (when people rest presumably not for worship).

This inconvenient choice for the hour changes is a subtle yet significant instance of the government systematically (whether intended or not) confusing worshipers. It can and therefore should be changed.

Furthermore, this brings up the broader topic of a government's audacity in presuming to change the hour at all. It is not necessary. There are many nations which do not do it. We should rather adapt our schedules (work hours, breaks, vacations, etc.) to the seasons, not our clocks. Politicians should not pretend to have authority over the sun by tinkering with our clocks and even less with our Christian worship.
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