10 August 2012

Speaking in tongues at the LCWR

The Redneck Squirrels have released me from bondage long enough to post this. . .

NB.  There's no solid evidence that the Good Sisters of the LCWR are taking this gobbledegook seriously; however, by inviting this woman to address their assembly as the keynote speaker, we may safely assume that they do not find her gibberish in any way odd or offensive.  

They refused to allow Bishop Blair to speak at their gathering.  They didn't even want him to attend!  

So:  Freaky New Age guru--YES!  Catholic bishop--NO!

Go figure.

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06 August 2012


Headed out for two weeks of books, squirrels, and a deepening of my southern accent.

No cell phone. . .limited internet access.

God bless!  Fr. Philip

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05 August 2012

Get some beautiful feet

Solemnity of St. Dominic
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

Audio File

Brothers and sisters, I would begin this morning with a question: are your feet beautiful? Up and down the mountains, do you walk with beautiful feet? If you bring glad tidings; announce the Lord's peace; bear his good news; and proclaim salvation through his mercy; if you raise a cry of joy; break into song; rejoice at his marvelous deeds; and give witness to the Lord restoring his people, then your feet are indeed beautiful. Your feet are beautiful b/c they bring you among us as a preacher of the Good News! A prophet of the Lord's salt and light, his blessing and fire. Are your feet beautiful? In word and deed, do you bring his Good News to the world? Do you rejoice, sing, give witness, bear his glad tidings? Are you Christ-for-others out there? We collect ourselves together this morning for one purpose: to become more like Christ than we were yesterday. To accomplish this, we will pray in thanksgiving; hear his Word proclaimed and preached; and we will eat and drink his Body and Blood from the altar. Then we will go out there and present ourselves to the world as evidence, as living, breathing testimony to the truth of the Gospel. We are sons and daughters of the Father. Brothers and sisters to Christ. And with St. Dominic, we are preachers of the Good News! 

Whether we know it or not, we are all preachers. Through baptism, we were all made priests, prophets, and kings along with Christ. Now, let's be honest: some of us are better at preaching than others; all of us have good preaching days and bad ones. There are times when being a witness for the mercy of God is more aggravating than it is delightful. The burden of forgiving those who hate us can be crushing. Most of the time, the temptation to dive into the flow of the world and revel in passion is overwhelming. No Christian who wakes up to an ordinary day can deny that following Christ out there can test one's patience, endurance, and resolve. It would be easier not to bother, safer to just walk away. Jesus knows this, and this is why he says to us, “You are the salt of the earth. . .You are the light of the world.” Salt preserves, enlivens, seasons. Light shines through the darkness, reveals what's hidden. As his disciples, his students, we are charged with being salt and light for one another and for the world. So, not only are we to be preachers, we're to be bright, salty preachers of the Good News! 

Jesus knows all too well the realities of being a faithful servant of the Father in this world. His life and death provide us with ample evidence that preaching the Father's word of mercy is a dangerous gamble for the preacher. Just being a Christian these days, even a bad Christian, invites persecution and death. Look at the mass murder of Christians in Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Afghanistan. There have been no car bombs exploding outside American churches yet; however, militant secular humanism, disguised as a human rights movement is building its case against Christ and his Church in the U.S. Through bureaucratic regulations, employment anti-discrimination laws, “hate speech” codes, social engineering in the military, and the redefinition of marriage through judicial fiat, the Church is being bullied out of the public square and silenced as a voice for the least among us. Facing this secular challenge as preachers of the Good News requires more than political savvy and good media skills. It requires courage, strength, perseverance, and, most of all, an absolute trust in God. Given all this, Jesus warns us that though we are the salt of the earth and light for the world, salt can lose its power to season, and a light can be extinguished. How does this happen? How does salt become tasteless and light become darkness? 

To put the question more directly: how do we as faithful preachers of the Good News become “go along to get along” pewsitters? The answer lies in our reading this morning from Isaiah. If we fail to bring glad tidings; fail to announce the Lord's peace; hide his good news under a bushel basket; and only whisper about our salvation through his mercy; if we stifle our cries of joy; break into griping, whining instead of song; begrudge his marvelous deeds; and give witness to only to our disappointment and despair, then our feet, the feet of Christ's preachers, become anything but beautiful. Salt loses its taste when it is stored too long, never used. The fire of the Spirit, its light will dim and go dark unless it is fed. Like any normal human person, we are all prone to being intimidated into silence by ideological opposition, threats of violence and protests, ridicule, and public bullying. And our courage and faithfulness are easily compromised by our sin. Whatever joy we have, whatever elation we may want to express with Christ can be beaten into hushed and private words. Being all too aware of our own sinfulness, our own failings, we can easily be shamed into taking our faith indoors, away from those who are all-too-ready to be offended by it. We can find ways to accept the division of our public and private selves and only show our acceptable faces outside these walls. But when we do these things, we cease being preachers of the Good News. We become dim lights and tasteless salt. 

 Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He also says that salt can lose its power to season and light its power to shine. What happens to the preacher who become tasteless and dim? Jesus says, “. . .if salt loses its taste. . .It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” When we are confronted by opposition to our preaching, to the proclamation of the Good News with our words and deeds, we must remember that this world passes away; it's nature is change. The kingdom of God is eternal, unchanging. And if we hope at all upon the promises of God, we trust, have full faith in the Spirit's guarantee that we will given what to say, shown what to show when the Enemy sends for us. What we cannot do, as preachers, is run after weak compromises, faithless accommodations, and hope upon the temporary promises of this world's princes. Paul encourages Timothy, “. . .proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” Paul knows what Christ himself knew: that when made to feel the heat of opposition, we are likely to ask for relief from those who are stoking the fires. Paul writes, “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine. . .and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.” 21st century myths abound! How tolerant are we of sound doctrine? Do we listen to God's truth and preach it? Or do we beg for negotiation, hoping to just be left alone? 

Do you have the beautiful feet of a preacher? In word and deed, do you bring his Good News to the world? Do you rejoice, sing, give witness, bear his glad tidings? Are you Christ-for-others out there? We are sons and daughters of the Father. Brothers and sisters to Christ. And with St. Dominic, we are preachers of the Good News! In season and out, convenient or inconvenient, shout it out: The Lord is king! And there is no other! 

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Skilled in Love: a vesper's homily

From 08 Aug 2007. . .

Solemnity of St. Dominic, Vespers: Philippians 1.3-8
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory, Irving, TX

We begin with an innocent question: are you skilled in love? Do you possess the distinguishing talents, the connoisseur’s gifts for hunting, finding, and cultivating love? If so, Paul is writing to you on this evening feast of St. Dominic, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion…” In fact, he is writing to all of us who are skilled in love, promising us the achievement of the Good Work, a sterling finish to the gospel race we have vowed to run. If we are to be graced love-makers, committed craftsman of our Lord’s saving charity—looking to our Dominican brothers and sisters: Jordan, Thomas, Catherine, Rose, Martin, fra. Angelico, Margaret, Lacordaire—if we are to light even the smallest fire among the wet woods of this wearying world, we will imprison our hearts and minds in the gracious, re-creating Word, defending and confirming with every word we speak the Good News of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no joy for us in anything less. Our fiery brother, Savonarola, preached the Lord’s Passion, saying, “Our preaching will be refined and not refined, yet everyone can receive it, particularly those skilled in love. Those who are not skilled will know their distance from Love.” And that distance we must make our own and then travel to those who do not yet know Love. Our sister, Catherine of Siena, preached this ministry, saying, “The soul in love with [the Lord’s] truth never ceases to be of service in a small enough way to all the world…” Surely, it is a small enough way for us to walk, gifted as we are with the work of preaching Christ Jesus and skilled in nothing less than giving voice and volume to the advent of our Father’s Kingdom! We can find those who do not yet know Love even when we ourselves forget to love, forget to be Love. From our long history, we Dominicans know that it is never enough for us merely to preach. We must be the preaching—with all our anxieties, human quirks, tongue-tied failures, and even the occasional cold heart. The sacred preaching is never just an imitation of Dominic. We do not channel Hyacinth or Peter of Verona from the pulpit. Love shapes each voice of the Word given the nature of the tongue that speaks it, so that all the syllables of the Gospel will find their artful expression. And all those skilled in love will hear One Word, One Voice, One Herald of the Good News. 

Lord, on this solemn feast of our Holy Father, Dominic, free us from the silent death of fear and worry and jail us in your saving Word. Bring to perfection the Good Work you have begun in us and take us with ready hands and hearts to serve those who are not yet skilled in your Love. Amen.

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