Homily – Divine Mercy Sunday

The Divine Mercy Image

This week we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday, as proclaimed by Pope St. John Paul II in the year 2000.

Here are the readings for the day.

You can find out more about The Divine Mercy from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

Read Misericordiae Vultus, the Papal Bull from Pope Francis calling for an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy!

Give the homily a listen and let me know your thoughts!

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+Peace

Homily -An Atheist, a Vegan, and a Crossfitter Walk into a Bar…

This week I saw the following image on Facebook

Atheist, Vegan, Crossfitter

and it provided some inspiration for my homily.

First, check out the readings (especially the Gospel)

Give the homily a listen and let me know your thoughts!

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+Peace

Homily – Living in the “AND” Times

Okay, so I know this is the first new post on my blog in 19 months. But I had a friend say that she wanted to hear my homilies, and that I should post them on my blog. So this is a nod to Kimi.

Here are today’s readings

Hopefully you will find something helpful in this homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, titled, “Living in the ‘AND’ Times”. Please feel free to add your comments.

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+Peace

What is a Deacon?

I received a message late in the afternoon on Monday morning from my friend, Jon Leonetti, asking if I’d be interested in being interviewed on the Iowa Catholic Radio Morning Show, to help answer the question, “What is a Deacon?”  I guess being a deacon myself, Jon figured I might have some insight into the question.  All I had to do was be ready to go on live at 7:20am the next day!

It was especially exciting to be able to share about this ministry in the Church on the day of the inauguration of Pope Francis, named after St. Francis of Assisi, who was himself a deacon!  The audio clip below is courtesy of the good people at Iowa Catholic Radio.

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+Peace

Something Worth Giving Up

For the past 2 years, I’ve written posts suggesting that our big “giving up” for Lent is not all it’s cracked up to be. You can read them here and here. To be honest, I was prepared to write just such a post again this year (maybe I will, since I actually preached about it last Sunday). But, things seem a little different today.

It is hard to ignore the elephant in the room, namely, the fact that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, plans to renounce the Petrine ministry in just a few weeks. And with all that is being said and written about his papacy, and the next pope, I finally think I’ve found something worthy of “giving up”.

For Lent, I’ve decided to give up reading or writing about who will be the next Pope, listening to or participating in discussions about who will be the next Pope, or even considering the qualities I’d like to see in the next Pope.

Why, you may ask?

Because the election of the Pope is nothing like the election of the President, or the Governor, or the local school board representative, or the dog catcher, and as tempting as it may be, I’m not going to treat it like it is.

All I’m going to do is pray for our Church, and for the Cardinals who will be electing the next Pope, and for whomever the next Pope will be. That’s it.

My prayer is not going to include any helpful hints for the Holy Spirit about the qualities I think are needed or not needed in the next Pope, the continents that should or should not have a native son elected Pope, or the most important issues facing the Church and the world that the next Pope will need to address.

You see, to be Catholic means to accept Jesus promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. But, that is not to say that evil will not have its way from time to time. Jesus’ promise is an eternal promise. Sometimes it is difficult to recall that eternal promise in the face of the evil of any one day or period.

If we get (another) terrific Pope, glory be to God! May we offer up our prayers of thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father! Powerful experiences of God’s grace and mercy are part of the life of believers and of the Church.

If we get (another, although none recently) not-so-terrific Pope, glory be to God! May we offer up our prayers of thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father. In addition, we may offer up our sorrows, and if it comes to it, our sufferings. The apparent absence of God’s grace and mercy are also part of the life of believers and the Church. And, to be honest, great growth can follow these times of difficulty. So, rather than thinking the Holy Spirit got it wrong, we turn to the Holy Spirit as consoler and advocate.

Jesus promised to be with the Church to the end, and that’s that. I’m done worrying about the details. I’m giving it up.

Oh, and guacamole. I’m giving that up, too.

Top 10 Reasons Why I Can’t Be Part of the Genesis To Jesus Bible Study at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish

This past summer, I attended the Franciscan University of Steubenville Summer Conferences for the 23rd consecutive year.  It has been a great blessing in my life, and I give thanks to God for the good work of FUS!  One new thing I did this past summer at the conference was take the Journey Through Scripture Bible Study course, Genesis to Jesus, offered by the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and Dr. Scott Hahn.  It was really the training to be an instructor, and I’ve been anxious to offer the study at my parish, Sts. Peter and Paul in Springbrook, IA.

Well, that time has come!  The study begins on October 14 at 7:00pm, and there will be sessions on 7 consecutive Sunday evenings.  I am working to have a huge turnout from my parishioners!  I am challenging them to be a part of this study.  But, for those that are hesitant to sign up, let me present the:

Top 10 Reasons Why I Can’t Be Part of the Genesis To Jesus Bible Study
at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish.

10.   I don’t have a Bible.  Well, okay, I have a Bible, but I’m not very familiar with it, and just a little nervous.  I don’t want to look like I don’t know my Bible.

No problem!  I will make sure everyone has a Bible!  If you need a Bible, ask.  Or, better yet, go get one!  We use readings from the New American Bible at Mass, but most of the readings for this study are taken from the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition.  Any way you slice it, we’ve got a Bible for you.  And this study doesn’t expect you to be an expert.  It is a study that shows everyone how God has been working throughout all of history, from Genesis to Jesus, to bring us into his life and love.  And that is a message for Bible beginners and Bible experts!

9. I don’t have a way to get to the parish.  I don’t like to drive at night.

I will arrange for your transportation!

8. I have young kids, and I don’t want/can’t afford to get babysitting for 7 weeks.

If you let me know what you need as far as babysitting so that you can be part of this study, I will do whatever I can to make it happen!  I just need to know what you need!

7. I don’t have the $10 for the workbook.

I will not let $10 stand between you and being a part of this study!  Let me know what you need, and I will help.

6. I’m a high-schooler, and I don’t think I have the time, but I’m intrigued.  Didn’t you say something about a special offer?

Well, I can’t do much about the time management problem, but I bet with a little effort, you can.  And, yes, I did mention a special offer!  If you sign up and participate in this study, I will give you your workbook for FREE!  I know you were probably just going to get mom or dad to pay anyway, but I want you to know it is important to me and to the parish that you participate.

5. I would like to be part of the study, but honest, Sunday nights at 7:00pm just don’t work for me.

I know it seems like I’ve been gone a lot lately, but most of that should be coming to an end.  I would be thrilled to also offer the study at another time during the week!  I’m good with any time, Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday!  Let me know!

4. I don’t know how to get a hold of you to sign up.

3. I go to Mass every week, and I pray my Rosary.  Surely that is enough.

What is “enough” when we are talking about our relationship with our Heavenly Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?  Of course we need to go to Mass, and praying the Rosary is a powerful prayer.  But there really isn’t such a thing as too much of God, is there?  See how this makes your experience of Mass and prayer even better!

2. I don’t think I need to study the Bible.

A lot of people don’t think they need to study the Bible.  But if the Bible is God’s word to us, and we are serious about wanting to grow in our relationship with God, then we all need to study the Bible!  St. Jerome once said that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”

1. The truth is, I just don’t want to be part of a Bible Study.

I was really hoping after eliminating all the other reasons, we wouldn’t get to this one.  Unfortunately, this is the one where all I can do is encourage you, and pray that you have a desire to know God’s word more intimately.  Maybe, you should do it anyway, even though you don’t want to, and let’s see what God can do.

See You at the Reunion!

I typically write a little “Deacon Speakin'” for my parish, Sts. Peter and Paul in Springbrook, IA, each week.  This is what the deacon had to say for this upcoming weekend.

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Last month was a Schmidt family reunion, and my family had a reunion in North Carolina, and today is a Kilburg family reunion.  In case you didn’t notice, Sara and I were not at Mass with you this morning, because we are attending Sara’s 30th High School Reunion in Zanesville, Ohio.  In 2 weeks, we’ll be traveling to Kingsley, Michigan for my 30th High School Reunion.

What is it with all these reunions?  What are they all about?  Do they tell us anything about who we are, and about God and the Church?

To be honest, I’ve never really given it much thought.  But as I find myself excited about the recent reunions I have been and will be part of, it has given me reason to reflect.

One of the things I’ve been impressed by in my time in Springbrook is the importance of family.  I see it all around me, with all the Kilburgs and Sieverdings and Steines and Michels (with and without the “s”), just to name a few.  Family ties are very strong in this community.  People know who their relatives are out to third cousins and beyond.

And these families gather together.  We are a social people.  We were born into the community of a family, and we grow in a larger community.  And it seems natural to want to gather with these different communities to share the stories of our lives, to reconnect with our history.  Without really thinking about it,  we know our lives are wrapped up in the lives of these other people, and that we need to touch base.

Part of the reason we know this is because we are made in the image and likeness of God.  And God in the Trinity is a family.  God the Father pours out his life in God the Son, who gives His life back to the Father.  The Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, a love so real that it is actually a person of the Trinity.  And so our desire to connect is because made in the image and likeness of God, we are made to be in relationship, in communion with God and with others.

In a sense, we might think of our gathering at Sunday Mass as a family reunion.  After all, in our baptism we are adopted into the family of God, making us each brothers and sisters.  In the Mass we gather around the family table (the altar) to share in our great family Thanksgiving meal (the Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving”).  In the Scriptures, we tell our family stories, and hear of those who have gone before us.  And hearing the stories again and sharing in the meal, we go back out into the world, strengthened and renewed in knowing who we really are and to whom we belong and with whom we are connected..

Maybe we need to use this idea of the family reunion, the family gathering for the family meal, as a way to reach out to our family and friends that have been away from Mass.  This meal, the body and blood of Christ, and the feast of the Word of God is meant to be shared with family.  It is in this family, the family of God, that we find a source of our strength, and actually can find God himself.  Jesus told his disciples, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20).

So invite a brother or sister in Christ, and I’ll see you at the reunion!

+Peace,

Deacon Sean

Pick Your Battles

I wrote last year that I was going to give up guacamole for Lent.  You can read about it here.  It was a light-hearted attempt to bring a different perspective to the true eternal question, “What are you giving up for Lent?”

Sure enough, right on schedule, yesterday the question rang out anew,  “What are you giving up for Lent?”  And so I responded in manner similar to last year, about focusing more on growth for love of God and neighbor and less on guacamole or caffeine or chocolate or non-diet soda.

I actually got quite a bit of pushback.  I was told by multiple people that not giving up something that we like, such as chocolate, is actually missing the point of Lent!  We are always supposed to be growing in our spiritual life by working on our vices, so that is just a given.  The sacrifice of giving up chocolate is supposed to be “an extra layer of discipline” and “an opening for grace”.

Without denying either of those points, do we not understand that the 40 days of Lent is a desert journey, following our Lord’s same journey?  The opening of our Gospel for this weekend is,

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan. (Mark 1:12-13)

Jesus didn’t go into the desert for self-improvement; at least not in the way we think of self-improvement.  And he didn’t leave his candy dish at the edge of the desert so that he could gorge when the 40 days were over.  And he didn’t come out of the desert to a DVR full of TV shows that recorded while he was in the desert.  And I’m guessing he didn’t get Sundays off.

He went into the desert to do battle!  He certainly did not take this battle for granted, and neither should we!  And if we are going to take Lent seriously, we should be prepared to do battle, too!  I’m sure for some people that giving up guacamole or caffeine or chocolate or non-diet soda would be a battle; the question is with the real battles to be faced, is it a battle worth fighting?

I do not deny there are graces to be received from fasting from something that we enjoy.  What I’m not convinced of is that most of us are disposed to that grace because of all the other stuff in our life that we don’t give up.

I doubt I am the only person that professes a desire to love the Lord more, yet lives in a manner that betrays that profession. And at least in my life, it isn’t guacamole or caffeine or chocolate or non-diet soda that is the source of that betrayal.  It is nothing short of sin.  And if I am focusing on the sacrifice of guacamole or caffeine or chocolate or non-diet soda, while that sin is in my life, that seems to me akin to Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

Whatever the spiritual practices you follow this Lent, I pray that we all are conformed more and more to Jesus, the source of our salvation.

+Peace

Do The Math

It has been nearly a week since Susan G. Komen for the Cure, probably the best known advocate for a cure for breast cancer (pink ribbon anyone), implemented new procedures for determining how they will allocate grant money. The big “news” in this is that Planned Parenthood, probably the best known advocate for killing unborn children, will no longer eligible for grants because they under investigation by Congress. Watch and listen to Nancy Brinker, Founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and sister of Susan G. Komen, as she explains the decision.

The cry that has gone out across the land is that millions of women will be put at risk because Komen has chosen to “play politics” and “cave” to pro-lifers that have been objecting for years to this odd association. For some reason, I haven’t seen anyone actually take a look at these claims that have made otherwise reasonable people froth at the mouth. So, we’re going to do a little math today.

First, let me give you the sources for my data. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America 2009-2010 Annual Report, and a report detailing of the grants from Komen to PP for 2009-2010 from the American Life League.

According to PP Annual Report, they performed 747,607 Breast Exam/Breast Care services. This is out of a total of 11,003,366 services. The simple math there is that 6.8% of their services were breast exams or related to breast care.

According to the detailing of the grants from Komen to PP, in that same year PP received grants totalling $629,159. This is out of total revenues of $1,042,800,000. The simple math here is that 0.06% of PP revenue came from Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

More simple math…on an average, Komen grants provided 84¢ toward every breast exam/breast care service that PP provided. 84¢

How is it that this adds up to millions of women being put at risk?

The truth is, it doesn’t.

Susan G. Komen has chosen to direct its money and energy to organizations that do not have the baggage that Planned Parenthood has. To my way of thinking, they have chosen to focus more clearly on their mission, and to associate with others that are focused on the same mission. If you would like to be part of Komen’s mission of saving women’s lives by finding a cure for breast cancer, you can donate here. If you’d like to be part of Planned Parenthood’s mission of killing unborn children, find your own link.

Thoughts on faith and life from a deacon in the Catholic Church.