Prayers of the Faithful – August 31th, 2014

  1. For Holy Mother Church, that she may unite all people of good will who honestly desire to love and to serve the Lord, let us pray to the Lord.
  2. For our political leaders, that a dedication to the common good and to the advancement of all may be a pillar of their work, let us pray to the Lord.
  3. For those suffering from sickness, injury, or infirmity – especially those who are a part of our parish family, that they may find both healing and comfort in their time of need, let us pray to the Lord.
  4. For an increase of vocations to marriage and for a deep respect for the Sacrament of Matrimony, let us pray to the Lord.
  5. For our soldiers, sailors, and airmen – especially those who are entering basic training – that God may protect them and watch over them always, let us pray to the Lord.
  6. And that Missouri legislators will have the courage to protect and defend the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves, let us pray to the Lord.

Prayers of the Faithful – August 24th, 2014

  1. For Christ’s Holy Church, that she may always be an effective witness to the love of God, let us pray to the Lord.
  2. For our political leaders, that the recognition that what is good for the family is good for the country may guide them in their work, let us pray to the Lord.
  3. For the sojourner and stranger, for the immigrant, for the poor and the marginalized, and for the homeless, that they may be met with hands and hearts open in friendship, let us pray to the Lord.
  4. For an increase of vocations to the ministerial priesthood, the permanent diaconate, and to religious life, let us pray to the Lord.
  5. For our service men and women in the armed forces, that God may protect them and watch over them always, let us pray to the Lord.
  6. And for a respect for all human persons from conception until a natural death, and for an increased awareness of the dignity of the human person, created in the likeness and image of God, let us pray to the Lord.

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

jesus-buen-pastor

In today’s reading, we see Peter cut through the hemming and the hawing and get right down to the heart of the matter. The people who saw Christ only from afar tried to put Him into a convenient box – a category with which they were familiar. But our Lord transcends categories; He cannot be conveniently placed in a safe, familiar framework and considered in terms of what we know. He must be encountered as an individual, both fully human and fully divine. He must be encountered in relationship.

This is exactly what Peter does. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter, under the inspiration of God, smashes through the categories and encounters Christ as He truly is: the Son of God; the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity; Our Lord, who exists in relationship to the Father and the Holy Spirit and who exists — or, at least, who desires to exist — in relationship with us… who absolutely should exist in relationship to us… not because that relationship makes Him better, but rather because it moves us toward completeness. That is to say, God is complete in and of Himself. In His mercy, He offers us a completeness that can only be had in relationship to the totality of completeness, which is God Himself.

While Peter recognized that Christ transcends categories, others of the day had other things to say: some said Christ was John the Baptist, because they could see in Christ things that reminded them of John. Christ, after all, acted in some ways as a herald of the divine… but He is far more than that. He was no mere herald, but is Himself divine.

Some said Christ was Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets because they could see in Our Lord elements of a prophet, and so they tried to put Him in that box. But we know that Christ is more than a prophet. A prophet speaks what God tells him to speak; Christ, being one Person of the Blessed Trinity, spoke through His own authority.

The same thing happens today. People — some people, anyway — try to put Jesus into a little box… consider Him, categorize Him, forget Him. Why? Because that is safe, and because doing so requires nothing further from the individual.

Some people say they believe Jesus was a good man or a good teacher or a great spiritual person, but that they do not accept His divinity. And this, after all, at some level, seems to be a safe out. To say that He was a good man — but just a man — gives the individual permission to pick-and-choose. After all, if He was just a man, then He had only the authority of a person… the same as you and me. Nothing He ever said is really binding on me if I think I know better.

But this is not the truth. This is not reality, and this does not deal with reality. It ignores it in hope that it will go away. It is the wrong notion that it will be more convenient if one kicks the decision to deal with reality down the road and comes back to it later. But the truth doesn’t go away. Sooner or later, the truth has to be encountered. It has to be recognized. And it has to be dealt with, either in this life or in the next.

I assure you, it is far better to deal with reality in this life, because if you kick it down the road long enough you eventually run out of road. Jesus doesn’t go away. In the two millennia since He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary, He has shown remarkable staying power. One might safely say supernatural staying power.

Those in power in the Jewish world 2000 years ago tried to destroy the memory of Jesus and to end the movement His disciples and apostles maintained, and they failed. Pagan Rome, center of temporal power in the ancient world, not only could not stop the Catholic Church despite brutal persecutions but was eventually overcome by it and became Christian itself.

Other attacks on the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church have likewise failed. The so-called Reformation, more accurately rebellion, has splintered into tens of thousands of competing factions, each with a part of the Truth but lacking the totality of Truth.

There is also the rise of Muhammadanism in the east, which is recognizable to any student of history as being just another Christian heresy in both nature and origin. Muhammad first became aware of monotheism through the heretical teachings of Ibonian monks, who denied the divinity of Christ.

And in our present day, we are living through the tag-end of the so-called Enlightenment, which broadly speaking seeks to cast off belief in God and replace it with what? Science? Secular humanism? Absolutely nothing whatever? The desired replacement has never been as clear as the revolution itself. It’s really not possible to believe in nothing, and secular humanism breaks down under even the loosest scrutiny. Science is a fine thing, as far as it goes. It is perfect for describing the natural world. That is its realm. However, it is totally unequipped to describe the supernatural world. Using science to consider God is akin to using the Bible as a manual of aerodynamics. Your intentions may well be good, but you’re using the wrong tool.

There is one Truth, and that is God. There is one Church that possesses the fullness of truth — not by the merit of the Church itself but by virtue of the fact that it is the Body of Christ; the Church is the Body and Christ is the head — and that is the Catholic Church. Christ Himself said to Peter, “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”

Now, two-thousand years later, we Catholics still stand with Peter. We, like Peter, should strive to truly encounter Jesus. To enter into relationship with Him. We shouldn’t try to make Him fit into safe, familiar categories, but instead understand that we will be transformed by the encounter.

God does not change, but we must change. We must be transformed by our relationship with Jesus so that we become what we were meant to be from the beginning.

It is in the encounter with Christ that we can see Him as He is. And once we see, we can truly begin to be transformed.

Pope Saint Pius X

“Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven. There are others: innocence, but that is for little children; penance, but we are afraid of it; generous endurance of trials of life, but when they come we weep and ask to be. The surest, easiest, shortest way is the Eucharist.” — Pope Saint Pius X

pius x pont max

Today (August 21) is the feast day of Pope Saint Pius X and is the 100th anniversary of his death. “For if true love alone has the power to unite the wills of men, it is of the first necessity that we should have one will with Mary to serve Jesus our Lord.” — Pius X, Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum [On the Immaculate Conception], 1904.

Pope Saint Pius X Coat of Arms

Pope Saint Pius X Coat of Arms

“But since the Modernists (as they are commonly and rightly called) employ a very clever artifice, namely, to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement into one whole, scattered and disjointed one from another, so as to appear to be in doubt and uncertainty, while they are in reality firm and steadfast, it will be of advantage, Venerable Brethren, to bring their teachings together here into one group, and to point out the connexion between them, and thus to pass to an examination of the sources of the errors, and to prescribe remedies for averting the evil”. — Papal encyclical letter “Pascendi dominici gregis” (“Feeding the Lord’s Flock”) promulgated by Pope Pius X on 8 September 1907.

PPXTRAD

“Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the Prophet: “There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man.” — Statement prior to World War I, quoted in Biographical profile at Living Water Community

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Instaurare omnia in Christo!

From the Desk of Deacon Richard…

Dear Parish Family:

November is coming, and with it Christmas tree sales will return to Our Lady of Lourdes! In past years, this has been a great way for the parish to raise money while also providing something many people want and need as a part of their family’s Christmas celebration: a freshly-cut tree.

OLL’s Christmas Tree Committee, led by Bob Slusher, has been hard at work for months planning and preparing for this month-long event. There are five teams in place to handle tree sales, but more help is always appreciated. If you would like to be a part of this effort, please contact me and I’ll find you a place on one of the teams.

Something new has been added this year: each weekend during the sale, the Christmas Tree Committee will be holding themed events. Some of the ideas the committee is investigating include Christmas sweets sale, Christmas crafts sales and demonstrations, preparing for a Catholic Christmas tips and ideas, Mother’s Day Out, and pictures with Santa. If you have ideas for a possible weekend theme or would like to be involved in one of these, please email me at richard@richardgross.net.

Contact me at 816.679-8974 if you would like to volunteer or if you have any questions.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

Prayers of the Faithful – August 17th, 2014

  • For Christ’s Holy Church, that she may be a beacon calling all to the fullness of truth, let us pray to the Lord.
  • For our political leaders, that the recognition that what is good for the family is good for the country may guide them in their work, let us pray to the Lord.
  • For the community of Ferguson and for all communities throughout the world suffering from unrest, that a spirit of peace and reconciliation can bring healing, let us pray to the Lord.
  • For those throughout the world suffering persecution, especially the community of Christians in Iraq, let us pray to the Lord.
  • For our service men and women in the armed forces, that God may protect them and watch over them always, let us pray to the Lord.
  • And for a respect for all human persons from conception until a natural death, and for an increased awareness of the dignity of the human person, created in the likeness and image of God, let us pray to the Lord.

From the Desk of Deacon Richard….

Dear Parish Family:

I would like to stress once again that the Wednesday evening adult faith enrichment classes that begin on September 3rd are not just for people entering the Church. Most people — even lifelong Catholics — could benefit from attending these classes. Everyone is invited, and I hope you will make plans to attend.

The classes meet on Wednesday evenings following the evening Mass and last for approximately two hours each week. On September 3rd, we will be having an introduction to the classes and an overview of what to expect, plus we will tour the church building itself.

On September 10th, I will be discussing topics including God the Father, the Trinity, Creation, and the existence of God. On September 17th, Mother Julia will be presenting topics including Original Sin, Angels, and that we are made in the image of God.
I hope to see you there! Contact me at 816.679-8974 if you have and questions.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

Homily for Sunday, August 10, 2014 — the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Late Saturday night a week ago, about 11, every dog in my neighborhood started going nuts. It lasted most of the night. My dogs were convinced there were invaders just outside the windows, and it was their job to drive them away.

This continued most of the night. I got out of bed several times over the course of the night, took my brightest flashlight, and made sure everything was okay. As far as I could see, it was. I would get the dogs settled, just get to sleep, and it would start all over again. I even began wondering if we were going to have an earthquake, since dogs will become very agitated before an event like that. All night, dogs were barking for as far away as I could hear.

Finally, about three in the morning, I gave up, got dressed, put the dogs on their leashes, and took them outside. Bright flashlight in hand, I took them to see if we could discover the source of their agitation.

I was more than a little bit shocked – and the dogs were scared into not only silence, but into retreat behind me – when we came around a tree and were face-to-face with something glowing white in the flashlight beam and hovering about three feet off the ground.

When the pups saw it, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said and cried out in fear.

Well, it wasn’t a ghost… and it wasn’t Jesus walking on the water, either. It was nothing more than a part of a white plastic bag that was caught in a thick spider web and so appeared to be hovering in the flashlight beam in front of us. The way it diffused the light made it seem to glow.

Certainly, it’s not the same as seeing a miracle, but in that moment of encountering something both unexpected and unknown, there was a brief moment of terror that must have been very similar to what the disciples felt when they saw Our Lord walking on the water.

Jesus calls us to a trust in Him that drives out fear. Notice that as long as Peter was not overcome by fear, he – with Christ’s help – did the impossible. He walked on water. But when he began to fear, he began to sink.

There are many things in the world today that can drive us to fear, and fear can drive us to hate. There is no room in the life of the Christian for hate.

The 24-hour-news-cycle has killed journalism, but it has also created fear in many people. There are commentators of all political stripes calling on their listeners and viewers to fear. Fear the other guy. Fear the other party. Fear the lunatics waiting always just out of sight. Fear. Fear. Another terrorist bombing. Fear. And now a word from our sponsors.

When Father Angelo first came to Our Lady of Lourdes, he spoke several times about what a waste of time television can be. Now, Father, I have to admit: I still watch Star Trek every single chance I get. But, I decided I was going to stop watching so much news. Father spoke mostly about shows like American Idol. There’s no real danger of me ever watching that… not even accidentally.

But I did tend to watch a lot of news, and that’s kind of a reality program… even if it is one of the less believable ones.

I know that I really don’t need to see the news every day… not in the way I need to breathe, or in the way I need to pray, or in the way I need to read Scripture. So I decided that, in the spirit of obedience, I would watch considerably less news, and never watch any 24-hour-news channel or political commentator except for those who are authentically Catholic first and commentators second.

In all honesty, I have to say I have been much happier for it. I don’t know if ignorance is necessarily bliss and I am not advocating burying your head in the sand and ignoring everything; I’m simply suggesting that it might be a good idea to be selective about sources of information you allow into your life. And, I can say firsthand it has been a great relief to not constantly feel like I have to worry about every nutcase with a rocket launcher on the other side of the world… because, they’re crazy. And they’re on the other side of the world.

So much in the world today makes it seem as if we are in a tiny, wooden boat… huddled in with others… taking on water… and in danger of being lost in a storm. But that’s the world talking. It isn’t God talking. Our Lord does not call us to fear. Quite the opposite: Jesus calls on us to take courage… to be not afraid.

Fear is an emotion. Sometimes we find ourselves afraid; sometimes, it is even for good reason. Not every real danger is on the other side of the world. However, we don’t have to respond in fear; we don’t have to respond in weakness, not when Christ calls us to strength and courage.

We are called to a faith that endures not only in the face of difficulty and fear, but that is strengthened by difficulty and fear. Christ will never abandon us as long as we remain faithful to Him and put our trust in God. If Christ is with us than nothing can overcome us… not fear, not difficulty… not even death itself – for none of these is greater than Christ.

From the Desk of Deacon Richard. . .

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear Christ tell his disciples, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” At first glance, it makes sense they would be afraid; after all, they were out a few miles offshore in a little boat on a stormy sea. Sinking or going overboard would likely mean death. And, to make things even more terrifying, someone was approaching them, walking on water.

But Christ tells them not to be afraid. He is with them. He will bring them safely through the storm. We know from John’s first letter that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

Love of the Lord is what enabled Peter to step out of the boat and begin walking toward Jesus on the water. But, Peter’s love was not yet a perfect love; he doubted, and fear gripped him. He began to sink into the water.
And when he began to sink, our Lord was there to rescue him. Jesus knew that Peter’s love was not yet complete; Peter was a work in progress, just like every one of us is a work in progress. Peter made fine progress toward perfect love of the Lord in his lifetime, and we know his journey is complete; his love of God has been perfected, because that is what happens when one becomes a saint: one sees God completely and is able to respond to Him with a perfect love.

Though few reach a true perfection of love in this life, this perfection is precisely what our hearts should desire above all else, for it is in this perfection, which comes from the grace of God, that we are able to truly be what we were designed to be from the beginning: a friend of God.
In times of fear, we as Christians must remember that our strength is in the Lord and because of this, we need not truly fear, for when we walk with God we never stand alone.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard