20 September 2013

OMG! BREAKING NEWS!!! The Pope is Catholic!!!!

In what can only be described as a Radical About Face, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, reverses his recent approval of abortion, announced only yesterday in a long interview with a Jesuit magazine, and proclaims -- in accord with 2,000 years of Catholic teaching -- that the direct killing of innocent life is morally evil. 

The Vatican P.R. team couldn't be reached for comment on this unprecedented development. Neither could the anti-Catholic bigots in the MSM who couldn't be bothered to spend two minutes googling the Catechism.

Film at eleven.

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Preaching Report

The third year seminarians in my homiletics class have been coming to my office this week  for tutorials on their baptism homilies.

Frankly, I'm impressed.  (But don't tell them that!)

My comments/suggestions are mostly about how to expand/elaborate on what they preached in class. IOW, not one of them has preached a Bad Homily. 

They've been energetic, authentic, orthodox, authoritative (but not authoritarian), pastoral, and interesting. 

We need to work some on presentation but other than that. . .excellence all around!
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19 September 2013

Nothing New in Latest Papal Interview. . .

Once again, the media/Catholic Progs are all A-Gaga over the Wonderfulness of Pope Francis b/c he's saying Something New and Refreshing About the Apostolic Faith.

No, he's not. Again.

It's a great interview. Candid, personal, etc. 

But absolutely boring in terms of basic Church teaching. . .no innovations, no surprises, nothing at all that calls for the '68 Squad to break the tie-dye vestments and the peace bong.

Don't be fooled by the MSM/Catholic Progs who are desperately trying to co-opt the Holy Father for their agenda.

Here's a challenge:  find anything in the interview that contradicts the Catechism. One thing.

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Loving greatly

24th Week OT (Th)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Notre Dame Seminary, NOLA 

Like a first-century Maury Povich or Jerry Springer, Luke sets the scene for an epic showdown between the Professional Religious Figure—proud of his social standing and secure in his holiness—and the, um, ahem, Professional Woman—humbled outcast, confident of nothing more than her sinfulness. Plopped down between them on stage: an itinerant preacher, healer, and rabbi who's been running around town hinting to the crowds that he's the Son of God. The fuse for this explosive mix of conflicting personalities and cultural norms is lit when the, um, Professional Woman cries on the preacher's feet and then dries them with her hair. The audience, cued up for outrage, gasps at the uncleanliness of the brazen act, and as the disgusted murmuring grows to a low mobbing growl, the audacious harlot dumps a jar of expensive perfumed oil on the preacher's feet! The audience goes wild, and the Religious Professional, offended but composed, raises an eyebrow, screws up his face, and clears his throat. The Preacher, his attention focused on the sinner at his feet, whispers to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then, a little louder, over the heads in the audience, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Her faith has saved her? What faith? When does the Harlot profess the faith? When does she confess her sins and express contrition? She doesn't even speak! All she does cry on Jesus' feet, wipe them off with her hair, and then rub some oil on them. Apparently, this is enough for Jesus to pronounce his forgiveness. Twice. BUT! This is exactly backwards. Note what Jesus says to the Religious Professional: “. . .her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.” So, her sins are not forgiven b/c she has shown great love; rather, she shows great love b/c her sins are forgiven. It's her faith that saves her not her works. Her works express gratitude for her salvation and her great love for Christ. This scandalous public display of affection is best understood as testimony. The scandal of Jesus' ministry among the Jews is made manifest—given body and soul—in the scandalous gratitude of the Harlot. What is her witness? Faith forgives. Faith dares. Faith humbles and frees. So, while the Religious Professional waits for cleanliness to happen; Jesus does the cleaning. And great love flourishes.

But if great love so obviously flourishes, how does the Religious Professional misread a scene so carefully staged to teach him the rewards of faith? We might say that he is hopelessly trapped in the social conventions of his station; or, blinded by his religious ideology; or, even forever scarred by the “purity” of his moral legalism. Any one or all of these might explain his misreading. However, Jesus clearly indicates why he thinks that the R.P. fails to understand: he has no faith, no faith in Christ. And having no faith in Christ, he cannot greatly love. The Harlot's many sins are forgiveness b/c of her faith, therefore, she greatly loves. “But,” Jesus says to the R.P., “the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Those deepest in debt rejoice loudest when their debt is canceled. And their gratitude is louder still. How much do you love? A little or a lot? If we are truly grateful to Christ for forgiving us our sins, then our love must always be great. Must always be greater than any sin we might commit and greater still than any sin that might be committed against us. Social conventions, religious ideologies, moral legalisms must not be allowed to render us illiterate when it comes to reading the signs of God's forgiveness, nor leave us paralyzed when it comes time to act in love. 
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18 September 2013

Culture, Thomism, Preaching. . .THANKS!

Mendicant Thanks to Dr. A.O. for sending me Tracey Rowland's Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican Two

I highly recommend this book to seminarians, deacons, priests, bishops, even Popes! To anyone who's interested in a fresh take on the aftermath of Vatican Two.  Rowland's central claim is that the Council Fathers did not have a philosophically-theologically workable understanding of culture when they delved into their common Thomist tradition to write Gaudium et spes, thus leaving one of the key interpretative documents of the Council open to radically modernist readings. She attempts to provide the Church with a theology of culture within the Thomist tradition. . .though not a tradition that many of us are familiar with!

My research library for next semester's advanced preaching seminar is coming along nicely!

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15 September 2013

Lost, then found. . .

NB.  This is your basic Come To Jesus homily. No frills. . .

24th Sunday OT 
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP 
Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA 

Lost then found. Israel—not so soon out of the desert—is depraved; they turn away from God, inviting His wrath by worshiping an idol. Paul, a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant, ignorant unbeliever hunts down and arrests those Jews who dare to follow Christ. And the younger son of a rich man who takes his inheritance, parties it all away, and then returns to his father destitute and starving. Israel, Paul, the Younger Son—all lost, now found. When the Pharisees and scribes chastise Jesus for eating with sinners, he tells them a series of parables in which we hear the characters of the stories say: “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep. Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin. Rejoice with me because my son was dead; once he was lost, and now he is found.” A nation, an apostle, a younger son. Or a mother, a daughter, a widow, a child, a city, or even the whole world. Doesn't matter who or what. No one will stay lost if they want to be found by God. Though we are free to walk away from God, He will never walk away from us. We can't be lost to Him b/c He is with us always. 

Israel, the people of Moses—freshly rescued from slavery in Egypt by God and miraculously delivered closer and closer to the Promised Land—take it upon themselves to craft a golden idol of God and offer it their worship. The Lord orders Moses, “Go down at once to your people. . .for they have become depraved.” God threatens to punish His people and relents only after Moses intervenes on their behalf. Though convicted of idolatry, God shows His people mercy. Paul, a zealous persecutor of the early Church, confesses his sins to Timothy, admitting that he acted against Christ's followers out of ignorance b/c of his unbelief. Yet, he makes his confession as an apostle, as one who has been “mercifully treated” and is “grateful to [Christ] who has strengthened” him. The Younger Son, having squandered his inheritance drinking, gambling, and carousing, finds himself during a famine working as a day laborer for a pig farmer. But like Israel and Paul, he too receives mercy when he returns to his father and asks for forgiveness. There is nothing we can do so terrible we cannot be found by God if we but ask. Of course, God never loses us; we, however, all too often lose God. 

Our readings this evening focus our attention on the joys of being found, the relief we feel at knowing—at last—that we are no longer lost. However, we're supposed to be scandalized as well, slightly shocked by the behavior of those who are lost. Scandalized by Israel's national idolatry. Scandalized by Paul's bloody persecution. Scandalized by the Younger Son's life of dissipation. But these seem like minor offenses when set beside the horrors we see everyday on CNN or read about in the NYT. It's one thing to read about Paul's conversion, or hear read the Younger Son's welcome home party. It's quite another to believe that those responsible for using chemical weapons against Syrian civilians can be shown mercy. It's quite another to believe that those who are butchering Coptic Christians in Egypt can be shown mercy. Or the greed and corruption that collapsed the economy in 2008; or, the darkened hearts that abort 1.7 million American children every year. Can these lost souls be found? You and I may find it difficult to accept, but, yes, they can be found. God has never left them. They turned from Him. 

If serial killers, genocidal maniacs, war-mongers, gang rapists, terrorists, mass murderers, and slavers can still turn to God for mercy and receive it, what worries should you and I have about being lost and found? I mean, what's the worst we do? Tell a few lies. Miss Sunday Mass. Watch an inappropriate movie. Our sins can't compare with some of what's going on out there. And that would be an important point to remember. . .if my holiness were somehow comparable to yours. Or if our holiness were comparable to terrorists or abortionists or rapists. Unfortunately, for me, my sins aren't made less damaging to me by the gravity of my neighbors' sins. Your sins aren't made less damaging to you by the gravity of my sins. Though it is absolutely true that our sins don't even come close to comparing to the truly evil things done in this world, our sins are ours. And our sins take us away from God. We are probably more like the Younger Son than we are like mass murdering terrorists, but the Younger Son ended up nearly starving to death while working for a pig farmer. Why didn't he starve? He remembered his father's loving care, swallowed his pride, returned home, and asked for forgiveness. And b/c he did all these things, his father gave him a new set of clothes, new shoes, a gold ring, and a big party. Though he'd forgotten his father while sinning his life away in a foreign country, his father never forgot him. 

Running through all of the readings this evening is the clarion call for us to return to God's ways and receive His mercy. What's keeping you lost, apart from God? Is it pride, anger, envy? Maybe lust? Is it a sexual sin: masturbation, adultery, porn? Is it hatred, vengeance, a stubborn refusal to be joyful? Have you stolen something? Gossiped, lied, cheated? Whatever it is that's keeping you from being with God, keeping you lost, apart from God, know this: His mercy is boundless. You can come home. You can stop wandering alone. You can put those sins aside by confessing them, and then rejoice that you have been found. Or, rather, rejoice b/c you have found God again. Moses' people, Paul, the Younger Son, they all believed in their sin that they were doing the right thing at the time. It took a prophet to shake Israel to its senses. Divine intervention on the road to Damascus to close then open Paul's eyes. And nearly dying from hunger set the Younger Son back toward home. We have their example to follow, so there's no good reason that any of us should require anything more than a simple reminder: God's mercy is infinite. And He wants us back where we belong. With Him, with Him always. 

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