Thoughts after Southerland Springs 1st Baptist Shooting.
I didn’t want to respond to the violence in Southerland Springs right away. I was mad and frustrated. How could this be and so close. This will be a summary of my homily and for those upset that I am not jumping on the gun control wagon, please look at purpose of what I am trying to do.
Is it the guns?
My opinion is that guns are not the issue. The closest I have come to being hurt in an attach was in Germany, with very strict gun control. There they used a propane tank. Oklahoma City was a truck. 9/11 were planes. Chicago, DC and Mexico have amazingly strict laws, yet shockingly high levels of violent crime. I think it is us…
Are we silly virgins from Gospel parable?
Multiple times in the last year I have had to deal with threats from middle school kids to kill someone. This is in a Catholic school. Yes, we take it more seriously now, but these were kids with a plan. I have watched young kids in less than 10 seconds wipe out a small village in a first person shooter game. That has to have an impact.
I remember the first time I was in the ER as a Chaplain and a chest was opened and the smell and the sound almost made me toss my lunch. After time, I became accustom to it. Are we “virtually” becoming desensitized to violence through movies and games? Or by texting and not talking, especially while in same room.
What about the mental health angle. I have tried to get people help. I have friends that have family members, but their personal rights seem to get in the way of getting them help. Everyone is too afraid to do what needs to be done because they might get sued. How is that being our brother’s/sister’s keeper?
How do we help overworked and under prepared parents?
I don’t have answers, yet. But I am working at finding them. I am hoping this blog starts a discussion. I will not approve any comments stuck on guns. That is not the point here. That is a whole other issue.
How to we regain a sense of godliness or holiness for each other? How do we engender that in our youth?
Some of my ideas:
If you die in a first person shooter game, you are dead, you have to buy the game again.
Make all violent movies and games NC-17. Let the person form before subjecting themselves to these “games.”
If we are going to really fix health care, we need to fix our mental health system. How?
We can’t ban texting, but can we force more interpersonal relationships. We are shifting to more project based education to help facilitate this.
Please take a moment of prayer for all those affected by violence before responding.
Reverence, how do we or should we show reverence….
I was asked today about how I project reverence. That took me back a little, because I’ve struggled with that question. I don’t really think that working at showing reverence is appropriate. How do we show reverence? Kneeling? Folding our hands? By what we wear? The prayers we say out loud? I don’t think it is any of those things by themselves.
Reverence is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
1 :honor or respect felt or shown :deference; especially:profound adoring awed respect
4 :one held in reverence —used as a title for a clergyman
So what does that mean for me?
On Ash Wednesday, I find the readings challenging. We are told to pray in quiet and not to mark ourselves, and yet we do just that. We put a big black cross on our forehead. I reconcile that because our intent is to show our humanity and frailty, not that we are fasting. We show our dependence on God.
We all see those people doing things to be noticed. The person with the wad a prayer cards or the 30 rosaries dangling from their hands, arms and neck. Any overtly obvious sign to look at them praying or being holy. We have all seen it. This doesn’t apply to all. I think of the widow and the one coin, the woman at the well, the tax collectors and all those Jesus lifted up and they all have one thing in common, they were humble and simple of faith. Simple, doesn’t mean shallow, but unencumbered. Simple faith can be the deepest. We know when we meet those people too.
So how do I show reverence?
By respecting all of God’s people. Whenever I slip and think or say bad things about someone, I feel that I have not been reverent to God’s creation. Same is true with self-talk, we need to respect ourselves. As a priest, it is about being respectful of my duties. It isn’t my Mass, it isn’t your Mass. All our official liturgies belong to the Church. I show reverence, by doing them as closely as possible to what the Church intended. I show reverence by being the best possible priest that I can. Showing reverence is being all of who God created us to be.
23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Homily, and subsequent thoughts…
It wasn’t until mass today, see video below, that I realized that today was 9/11. Not only do we have a mysterious God, but a good God.
This weekend I preached on the internal part of the message in the readings. Click here to read readings. All of them had an internal element. Ezekiel reminds us that our faith requires us to take responsibility for our brothers and sisters in faith. Even correcting those that need correcting. The second reading and Gospel tell us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Seems pretty simple.
First, in context, before we can correct or direct our fellow journeyers on this path, we have to make sure we are right with God. To hit this home more, we have to love our neighbor as ourselves. Simple, until you realize that you have to love yourself first! To love ourselves as God loves each of us.
To apply this, we all have people in our lives that seem to be placed on this earth to drive us crazy or to be our arch nemesis. These are the people we like to hold a grudge against. These are the people we try to get others to side with us against them.
The command is to love! What we naturally want doesn’t fit today’s message. With absolutely no clue that today, Monday & day I am typing, was 9/11, I mention that it took me 10 years to even realize that I should be praying for our attackers on 9/11. The way I have found it best to deal with those that really drive me to distraction is to earnestly pray for them. Pray for their well being! (Not that they fall off face of the earth or something along those lines.)
In our human state, that is the only way I have found to try and live this message to love. How else can we correct those with us in our faith. Only in love and prayer. I am not sure it is ever easy, but it certainly makes life easier.
Today’s Mass on CTSA: (You will recognize presider)
This story, which we celebrate every August 6th, is in all three synoptic Gospels and is a bit odd. It really doesn’t fit with the rest of the Gospels. It is more like a magical Hollywood production than a story about a humble Savior who came with mercy and forgiveness. We have the dead reappearing and the voice of God from the heavens. It is hard not to think of Charlton Heston and The 10 Commandments.
So why is it in the Gospel? Each Gospel is written to a different community and this story is still there. I don’t know if this is my thought or from a book I read or from a seminary class, but I have seen this for a long time as having to be true. It doesn’t meet what a historian would say was fact, but the purpose has to be true for us and for our faith. Jesus even asked his disciples to not say a word about this until after the resurrection. The Transfiguration is an event that has to be for our faith. That is the only reason that it is there.
The Transfiguration brings old and new together; it shows for all people that Jesus really is our Lord and Savior. When we doubt or lack trust, we just need to look to the Transfiguration and the words of our God.
Hot of the press if you are reading this in August. Here are the details of St. Pius X and friends pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Some questions answered:
Who is eligible? Anyone with $2900 that wants to go on pilgrimage to Holy Land.
Do we have to fly out of from Houston? Yes, seats are booked, but if you live in other part of country all you need to do is get a ticket to either San Antonio and take bus, or Houston in time to meet us before flight.
Do I have to be Catholic? No. It is, however, a Catholic pilgrimage with Mass every day and focused on the Christian sites. There is not requirement of anyone to attend Mass, but there will be no transportation to other places.
Is it safe? I purposely picked a tour company that specializes in the Holy Land. The company owner is from there and his brother still lives there. They have sent thousands of people there and they have all returned safely. That is there livelihood. We are actually paying a little more to reduce our travel and avoid delays, which again increases our safety. Please come to meetings and meet Moses and he can discuss this further. (yes his name really is Moses)
Can Anyone tell us we sinned? I get asked almost every weekend, is this action a sin. I have to resist just saying, what do you think or would you be asking if it wasn’t. Too many people have the wrong notion of how to determine a sinful act and I know who to blame. I blame years of poor teaching on our part. So when I hear, I did (fill in the blank), is it a sin, I need to do a little teaching first.
Defining sin, people constantly ask, if I am sure. To avoid people thinking I’m making this up, here is the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s definition:
1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. Sin wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.
To just add a bit more Church talk a mortal sin must meet this conditions:
1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”
A mixed day, a farewell to Archbishop Patricio Flores.
–Written the evening Archbishop Flores was burried. Due to a glitch, or operator error this never published, so very late, it is published.
A mixed day, a farewell to Archbishop Patricio Flores is bitter sweet. He wasn’t himself, yet now he is again whole. To all accounts he was an amazing man that was unable to speak Spanish except in confession during his first assignment and then was ordained the first Mexican-American Bishop. A priest for the poor, his family picked cotton and he would say he was a cotton picking bishop. His sense of humor was one of many great qualities.
I could write a months worth a blogs on the man we bury today, but I don’t think he wants that. His life focused on the poor and the building of the kingdom. His stories and his music might someday be forgotten, but the courage of Archbishop Patricio Flores can never be forgotten. The courage to be exactly who God created him. Always simple & humble and he knew from an early age that God had called him to be a priest and against most odds, he got there. Even as a famous Archbishop he seemed to always see himself as a everyday priest.
I hope as we celebrate his life tomorrow and inter him into the earth that everyone remembers that he is whole again. He is cooking, singing and loving life! Our challenge, I hope, for each of us to remember that we are all called to bring the message he constantly proclaimed in word in song to all those we encounter. Archbishop Patricio Flores was an amazing cook and host. He loved the poor and was constantly helping his priests help the poor. Spreading the Gospel was his life! Going forward, I believe he wants us all to do just that; spread the Gospel in all that we do!
Thanks for all you taught me, I miss you Archbishop!
Today, on paper, is my day off. I started the day with a few school issues, had a funeral, dropped in on the diocesan counselor that are visiting our students to asses some issues, worked on relocating WiFi controller and confirmed 92. The only bad part of the day happened when counselors from Dept. of Catholic schools informed me that the process to eradicate bullying takes up to 3 years. Seriously, I don’t have that time I want it done now. I spend some time thinking of 30 years of Catholic Schools, Youth Groups and Almost years of Priesthood and had another sad realization.
I was asked as a baby priest preparing for World Youth Day in Denver, what the hardest part of dealing with youth was and without really thinking just said their parents. Before I’m compared to a salamander again, let me make a few things clear. Most kids in Catholic programs either schools or youth group come from amazing families. That said there is a small number who drop off their kids and expect us to make them Catholic. We never see them on weekends and they don’t understand why it isn’t working. I really don’t see that working ever.
I put on Facebook over the weekend that I wanted to find a way to get parents who wanted their kids at our school to agree to a app store password that only parents knew, no snap-chat or other like program, and regularly checking your kid’s phones. Not easy, but in my mind essential We have to assure the safety of our young. I can’t find any reason snap-chat has enough value to be an under 18 or even 21 game.
Our school needs and students deserve a whole community that is aware and working to eradicate bullying. Working together. Parents need to remember that they are the adult and not the friend. Kids have friends at school and if they don’t us being their friend isn’t going to help. Our kids need adults making good choices, enforcing tough rules and insuring our kids get the education and formation they deserve.
Guest Blog – Message from an 8th Grader on Good Friday
My Parochial Vicar wanted to add to Good Friday and proclamation of the 7 last words of Christ. I said to go for it and I am so glad that I did. The only mistake was that I let him talk me into taking one of the words. As pastor, people hear me enough and what came out of our parishioners was amazing. Many priests think that priests that love having a school are crazy. (We might be, but for good reason) If we let them, our young people can teach and amaze us. This is the first Guest Blog and is a message from an 8th grader to those gathered for the 7 last words. As I listened there was no doubt why I love being at parishes with schools.
So, a message from an 8th grader on Good Friday:
The sixth last word of Jesus- it is finished.
From the Gospel according to John
There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said: it is finished.
“It is finished,” is written as the Greek word tetelestai which translates directly to “it is finished” or “it is completed.” There are only two places in the New Testament in which this word is used and both are found in St. John’s version of the Passion of Christ. In John 19:28, this word is used to state that Jesus completed the scripture passage from what the Old Testament testifies and in John 19:30 Jesus simply states “it is finished.” It may seem very obvious to us here today about what Jesus implied when he spoke these words, but I hope I may help you dive a little deeper through my reflection on these words.
At this time, the word tetelestai was also written on business documents or papers to indicate that the bill or loan had been paid in full. Now understanding the basic components of this word, it is clear to see why Jesus stated this words. It was no accident that he was handed over to be crucified, was beaten so horribly at Pilate’s Palace, it was not an accident when he died on the cross. It was all a part of God’s plan of complete salvation for his children. Jesus took the burden of suffering the hideous death on the cross so that we might obtain the promise of eternal life. When Jesus said this before he gave up his spirit to death, he stated of his fulfillment of his mission on earth. It can be easily mistaken to be spoken with grief, despair, and surrender. This probably what Satan believed to be true and he rejoiced, as seen in Mel Gibson’s, the Passion of the Christ film. We believe this to be the opposite. With these words, Jesus was victorious over evil and I am confident to say he spoke these words with an overwhelming sense of relief. Jesus knew that he had won over evil and that he had completed his earthly task. We must recognize that right now and have faith in our true Savior. God loved us so much that he gave up his only Son to death on the cross. To me, this is hope for my spiritual life and future and peace for knowing that God’s love never dies. It is at times like today when we feel most vulnerable when we have to look up at the cross and trust in what God has done for us.
Thanks for letting me use this and get my birthday off!
I look that the spread of our Faith in the early years and it boggles my mind! Happy Easter, it is a miracle that we are here. At Pentecost the message of Happy Easter! Let the message go out! was listen to as not other message in history! Lot at how the message spread in early day of our faith…
It amazes me every time I see it. Last weekend, Churches across the world were full. People got up and for the first time in months decided to go celebrate their faith and will the world be different tomorrow? Will this Easter have the impact of the first Easter? I am afraid by next weekend, we will worry about fitting in the Divine Sunday extras. A week later people will say, oh, they are still celebrating Easter.
So why do we bother? Why do we put all the effort we do into these celebrations? It is like the story of the boy tossing starfish back into the sea and an older guy comes up and says, Son there are thousands of starfish on this beach, you don’t really think you are going to make a difference are you? Boy shrugs and tosses another back into sea and says, it made a difference to that one. Happy Easter to all if it made a difference to that one.
Happy Easter! Let the message go out! Means for me that I have to trust that through what we do God is working. I asked those at mass last weekend. What is that stone in your life that needs to be rolled away so that you can truly embrace the risen Lord. I have also taken that to heart.
What else can we do
I am not content just doing what we are doing. So at Mass last weekend and now here, I am asking a few questions:
What do we need to do so that you want to be here every day or at least every week?
What is missing in your life that sucks you into the internet or TV and how can the Church help to fill that void?
I want to hear it ALL! (that said, I can’t change the past, so lets focus on what we can do from TODAY forward!)