My Homily today was a good opportunity to share these notes from Archbishop Aymond, delivered at our recent Priest Convocation in late September. They outline challenges which we face as a Presbyterate in today’s world.

Advent is always a reminder that we are situated in time, and that ‘we know not the day or the hour’. Rather we need to live simply, and to live prepared for the Coming of Jesus Christ — whenever that may be.

These pointers are also important for all of the Christian faithful, as these are signs of our times, which can cause us to fall off of the narrow path, and straight into the deadly abyss. Not to be morbid.

But here they are…

Archbishop Aymond’s Notes on the Future of the Presbyterate

    1. We have no quiet time in society, and have lost a sense of quiet, and of openness to the Sacred
      • Many people can go from dawn to dusk surrounded by noise, of all types.
      • Can we move people to quietness if heart?
      • Can we help to bring about a Sense of quiet and solitude to our people’s hearts?

A) Respect quiet times in liturgy
B) Foster adoration, quiet prayer, 40 hours devotion, lectionaries divina… Quiet times before meetings;
C) People should see us in prayer
D) Don’t be caught up with latest things in life… Be filled with prayer and quiet
E) Know Jesus and what he wants

    1. We’ve lost a sense of the personal
      • Concern for young adults, who are losing the skill of relating to the other one on one
      • Virtual-long distance relationships are becoming common and the norm.
      • Such can only affect a relationship with God, who is personal, and one on one with us.

A) we need to be one on one and very personal

      • Be very present and personal – there’s an intense need for that
      • The Incarnational aspect of our spirituality – We’re in the flesh, not virtual and long distance

B)Presence, not distance, is required of the Catholic.

    1. Responsibity Overload
      • People lead very, very busy lives, with increasing burdens and obligations.

A) God, church activities, are competing with priorities
B) So many people have scattered from the flock (we say honestly and sadly.)
C) People are caught up in personal bubbles.
D) Some feel that the Church is irrelevant, or they have been hurt by the Church.
E) How do we find the busy and the scattered – Knock on doors?
F) Preaching, music, and a sense of hospitality, all must be honed to perfection.
G) We are Shepherds, not functionaries. Shepherd the flock!

    • We must be Personal, one on one
  1. The Age of Relativism — We all Live in Bubbles
    • We need to proclaim the Gospel with an authentic, consistent life
    • And strive to be unifiers amongst signs and camps of division
  2. The Age of Addictions
    • Societally there is Rampant alcohol, drugs, and sexual addiction.
    • Pornography is perhaps the greatest addiction in the world, raking in more $$$ than the NFL and NBA combined

“We need a church who isn’t afraid of going forth into the night… Capable of meeting people wherever they are, inviting them to know Jesus more deeply” and walk the road to Emmaus.

Thus ends the notes of the Archbishop. Tying this in with Advent is obvious… these are the things which can strive for our time and lead us away from wholeness, and holiness. They are challenges with our families and children. our lives need to be a reflection with our relationship with Jesus Christ and of our union with the Catholic Church, and her rich Sacramental life. Let’s pray for each other during Advent.)

Advent and All Things New

advent decorationsAh Advent, the long awaited season of the year when we wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, liturgically speaking. We don’t speak or sing the Gloria, the Sanctuary is draped in purple, a color of mourning. Well, it’s also a color of royalty, and the violet Advent hues also echo the colors of the dawn this time of year, which is all of course appropriate and fitting as we await the commemoration of the birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Secularly speaking we do zero out in the world, far away from the mandates of Faith and of Holy Church. Black Friday spawns riots and wild spending sprees for stuff that we absolutely cannot live without, such as TV’s, electronic games, decorations, et cetera. Cyber Monday continues the spree, online. And it’s usually all good fun, despite a few hardcore enthusiasts who run riot. I was out buying a copy of Absolom, Absolom, and ended up buying a Nook which was on sale for $79, and am now enjoying the novel via Nook.

Father, would you say that spaghetti is consubstantial with linguine?

Advent also sees many, (many, many) wild parties which go by the name of Christmas parties except that, of course, they’re during Advent and not Christmas. Christmas is wonderfully peaceful and rich time after the hectic season of preparation and ‘waiting’.

Advent also marks the new year in the Church, and this year of course the long awaited much ballyhooed debut of the new translation of the Mass. The tension mounted as I walked to the front of the Church, lit the Advent candle and made the sign of the cross. “The Lord be with you,” I said. “And also with you,” came the reply.
Roosevelt Lobby during Advent
We started over, after a brief explanation and some laughs, and did it the right way.

The readings this week speak to humility; having the humility to be honest with ourselves about our faith lives and our relationship with God; and having the humility to render our lives in the state of readiness to meet God.

I always imagine I’ll live a long life and grow in holiness with all the time for prayer which old age allows. But what if the Lord suddenly appeared before me in the next two minutes and said, “OK, time’s up here. What have you done with your life? Have you even bothered to grow in holiness?”

Well. First off, let me just say that the Lord would have to wake me up with smelling salts if that happened. I also like to think that He would be a bit more polite and circumspect about it all. And that there would be heavenly music involved and a thank you for being a faithful Priest despite my struggles and flaws. Second off, I’d like to respectfully add that I hope that does not happen for many reasons. But if it does, I’d like to think that I’m watchful and ready in many ways.

But what do I know about the mind of Christ? He’s God, not me.

Holy Face

We also, with the beginning of the new Church year, are dealing with the new translation. It’s beautiful and I love it; and everyone has done very well with it thus far. I gave some excerpts from the handouts by the Dominican Fathers, which help to elucidate the meaning of the translations.

For example, John Chrysostom wrote, on using the phrase “and with your spirit,” during a Homily on the Feast of Pentecost:

If the Holy Spirit were not in our Bishop when he gave the peace to all shortly before ascending to his holy sanctuary you would not have replied to him altogether, “And with your spirit.” This is why you reply with this expression… reminding yourselves by this reply that he who is here does nothing of his own power, nor are the offered gifts the work of human nature, but it is the grace of the Spirit present and hovering over all things which prepared that mystic sacrifice.”

We also spoke about the meaning of the word consubstantial. It’s hardly a difficult word. In fact, there is currently a decent discussion of it over at Wikipedia. (Someone may change it tomorrow, but hopefully it will correct back to a decent discussion if that happens.)

‘Consubstantial’ also sparked a discussion here in the rectory about pasta. Fr. Bob, I said. Would you say that spaghetti is consubstantial with linguine? Seems like a fitting analysis, if not completely off target. Why, yes, he replied. I would.
We have great discussion here over dinner.

Advent, the beginning of a new year in the liturgical life of the Church; a time to call to mind humility, and the fact that God is to be in charge of our lives. We may get tired of waiting for him, and lose focus from time to time, but he is always as near as a prayer, when our hearts are with His spirit.

XXV Sunday, Ordinary Time

Here is my Homily from this weekend. Or at least, here are notes from my Homily this weekend. As usual I enjoy your feedback and comments! And as usual it writes out much longer than it speaks. So if you have a half hour to read through my five minute Homily, God bless you!

Several Things

Catechetical Sunday

This weekend we celebrate Catechetical Sunday, which goes to the heart of our mission as Christians to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.


We read in Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.”

We have the concept of the high way of God, which is often repeated in Scripture. (Prepare a highway for our God.) Through prayer, through meditation on the law of the Lord, our minds and our ideas are lifted. The uplifted ideas and ideals of our Church are what we are called to share from one generation to the next.

The US Bishops write of Catechetical Sunday:

This year, the Church will celebrate Catechetical Sunday on September 18, 2011, and will focus on the theme “Do This in Memory of Me.” Those whom the community has designated to serve as catechists will be called forth to be commissioned for their ministry. Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith.

We read especially “The role each person plays in handing on the Faith and being a witness to the Gospel.”

If we don’t pass on the truths of our Faith, we can often end up with empty traditions. For example, some people may not have been to Mass in 30 years, yet they refuse to eat meat on Fridays in Lent, because, “it’s what we do.”

But the reasons it is “what we do,” is because we’re Catholic, and we’re uniting with the Lord’s Passion by an act of sacrifice, which we’re actually called to do every Friday throughout the year.

And, if you’re not even going to Mass regularly, what does it matter if you do or do not eat meat on Friday? Our traditions often become devoid of meaning when we fail to catechize properly.

Catechetical Sunday and the New Roman Missal

Another focus this week is brought out on the Bishop’s site:

The theme for 2011 Catechetical Sunday is “Do This in Memory of Me” (Lk 22:19). By reflecting on this theme, we are also preparing to receive the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. The Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis hopes that these materials will provide the opportunity not only to reflect on the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist, as found in the Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church, but also to be moved to a more intense participation in the Sunday celebration of Mass, worthy reception of Holy Communion, and a more intentional embrace of the Church’s sacramental life and mission.

The new missal is coming in Advent, with new translations of the prayers of Mass. This is a good thing! We’re implementing this by introducing Mass cards the first week after the fair (the second week in October.) Also, there are handouts being published with the bulletins, and near the entrances which help to explain this more.

Catechesis and Viaticum

Last Rites

With the idea of catechesis in mind, we now turn our gaze to the Gospel.

“Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

During seminary we had a theoretical discussion about Adolph Hitler. If, for example, Adolph Hitler had had a deathbed conversion with true sorrow and repentance, would he have ended up in heaven?

The answer of course is that yes, he probably would have. But what do I know? (You don’t know either.)

Christ and the Good Theif

Discussions of purgatory aside, we look at the example of the good thief. Jesus said unto him, “This day you will be with me in paradise.” So we know that it’s entirely possible to wait until the ver last minute, and then receive absolution and pardon.

That’s great and wonderful. And we should rejoice in those who come to the Lord for salvation after a life of spiritual wandering.

A problem with this though, is that many people decide it’s OK to wait until the last minute.

Which leads us to the notion of Last Rites.


Many people use the term “last rites”, though technically the term is archaic, and is not truly an accurate depiction of the theology of today’s rite.

We’ve all heard of Extreme Unction. An anointing which many people received at the hour of death. But what happened realistically is that many people would do whatever they wanted, wait until the hour of death and then receive a Sacramental absolution, almost as if it were magic, so they could have remission of sins and a direct pathway to heaven.

But that’s not what the Christian life is all about.

The Christian life is a daily commitment to live the Gospels of Jesus Christ: to conform ourselves to His will, to be mindful of both sin and virtue, and to seek through prayer and meditation to live a life of authentic holiness, which is simple and conducive to joy and peace.

Many people use the term “last rites”, though technically the term is archaic, and is not truly an accurate depiction of the theology of today’s rite.

“Last Rites” was on my mind, because the other morning I received a phone call from a sheriff’s chaplain letting me know that one of our parishioners had passed away, and I needed to come give last rites. I thought to myself, “Well, it’s a little late for that.” Nonetheless, I went to visit and pray with the family. But it reminded me of the need for catechesis on the role of Viaticum and the Anointing of the Sick.

Anointing of the Sick

Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the Catholic Church that is administered to Catholics who are sick, or who, through old age or sickness are in danger of death, even if the danger is not immediate. It gives comfort, peace, and even forgiveness of sins.

Notes from the Catechism:

1514 The Anointing of the Sick “is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.”130

1515 If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.

” . . . let him call for the presbyters of the Church”

1532 The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:
– the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church;
– the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age;
– the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Penance;
– the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul;
– the preparation for passing over to eternal life.


And then, another gift of the Church is Viaticum.

1524 In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum. Communion in the body and blood of Christ, received at this moment of “passing over” to the Father, has a particular significance and importance. It is the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection, according to the words of the Lord: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”140 The sacrament of Christ once dead and now risen, the Eucharist is here the sacrament of passing over from death to life, from this world to the Father.141

1525 Thus, just as the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist form a unity called “the sacraments of Christian initiation,” so too it can be said that Penance, the Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist as viaticum constitute at the end of Christian life “the sacraments that prepare for our heavenly homeland” or the sacraments that complete the earthly pilgrimage.

And from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Among the ancient Greeks the custom prevailed of giving a supper to those setting out on a journey. This was called hodoiporion “Convivium, quod itineris comitibus præbetur” (Hedericus, “Lex. græc-lat.”). The provision of all things necessary for such a journey, viz. food, money, clothes, utensils and expense, was called ephodion. The adjectival equivalent in Latin of both these words is viaticus, i.e. “of or pertaining to a road or journey” (Facciolati and Forcellini, “Lexicon”). Thus in Plautus (Bacch., 1, 1, 61) we read that Bacchis had a supper prepared for his sister who was about to go on a journey: “Ego sorori meæ coenam hodie dare volo viaticam”, and (Capt. 2, 3, 89), “Sequere me, viaticum ut dem trapezita tibi”, and in Pliny (VII, ep. 12, in fine), “Vide ut mihi viaticum reddas, quod impendi”. Subsequently the substantive “viaticum” figuratively meant the provision for the journey of life and finally by metaphor the provision for the passage out of this world into the next. It is in this last meaning that the word is used in sacred liturgy.

Not everyone is able to recieve Viaticum. But if you are preparing for the death of a loved one, Anointing of the Sick, or Viaticum, is both be referred to as “Last Rites” in this day and age.

In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum.

And they do not have to happen at the last minute! Planning ahead is the best way to go. Viaticum should be done while the elderly or frail person still has consciousness. An anointing can be done at any time.

And a gentle reminder, if you want to wait until the last minute, and hope and pray that a Preist might be available for all of this at the last moment, the best way to ensure that is to encourage your children to become Priests, Sisters or Brothers.

And again, waiting until the last minute to strive for holiness is not the best way to go. But, what is necessary?

• Live a life of discipleship
• Day, by Day…. Try to do our part to remain in a state of grace
• Try to live as an example, so that others may perceive the peace and integrity that come from living the Gospel

To Dwell in the light of Jesus Christ; To learn the High Ways of the Lord; To teach and witness to others, the High Way for our God… these things lead to wholeness and Truth.


Night of Confessions

Stormy Eve

Today at all Masses across the diocese we read a letter from our Archbishop:

The Catechism teaches that we should go to Confession at least once per year

On September 14, 2011 the Sacrament of Penance, more commonly known to us as Confession will be available in all of our parish churches beginning at 7:00p.m.

September 14 is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is a reminder that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and draws us to a life of conversion and new life through his resurrection.

On this day, on September 14 of this year, all of our Churches in the Archdiocese of New Orleans will have a light on in the confessional as a sign that Christ is not only a light of the world but one who is eager to forgive and to heal us.

May I encourage you to take this opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance not only this month but on a regular basis as we have the opportunity to meet the forgiving, loving and merciful Christ.

Wishing you God’s blessings,
et cetera, et cetera, …
Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond
Archbishop of New Orleans

So, this Wednesday is the Night of Confessions.

The readings today speak to forgiveness, and with the Sacrament of Confession looming so importantly in our diocesan psyche, I used most of my Confession Story as my Homily. (Fear not, it was well edited from the rambling post I published here.)

The Catechism teaches that we should go to Confession at least once per year; I find every 2 months or so is good for many.

At any rate, we’re looking forward to Wednesday evening, which will be a great time of healing for many.

My Homily for the XXIII Sunday of Ordinary Time

Here’s my Homily for this week. As always, I appreciate the prayers and feedback. God bless!


The Church has many symbols of expression, and some of these include a sheepfold, a cultivated field, a family; the Mystical Body of Christ, the People of God. And in today’s readings we look at yet another aspect, that of the Church as communio, or communion.

Jesus tells us today, that where two or three are gathered, there will he be in their midst. That more or less sums up communio in a nutshell; one could certainly find more theologically profound definitions. But, communio is, more or less, amMovement of community in the Holy Spirit; we experience relationships with one another, and with God, both personally, and as a group.

When we gather together in community to worship: the founding principle is love; of God, and of neighbor. In addressing the Christians of Rome, Saint Paul has no doubt in asserting peremptorily “Love is the fulfillment of the Law.”

So, The Church as communion is first and foremost the sacrament of the intimate union of humans with God. And, this communion with God is the purpose of the Church.

The idea is ever ancient, and goes back to the very beginning where we find it in the books of Genesis.

In the Beginning…

In Genesis I, man is created male and female, and man and woman are to subdue and be victorious over the world; they have dominion over it. They are created male and female, separately and as coworkers in this great movement of God’s will. There is a desire to create; to build new and bigger; to get to the moon; to build the tallest building; to achieve great things.

In Genesis II we find a very different story.

Eve said to Adam… “Adam, Do you Love me?” And Adam said, “Honey, Who else?”

In Chapter Two, man is created in humility, from the dust. God breathes life into him, in a very intimate connection; Yahweh is the most intimate name for God. Man’s job is to tend to the garden of life … to life giving things. And everything is good.

Except for one little thing, which is really bugging him: man is alone.

So, woman is created from a rib of Adam, again a very intimate union. They are together; “Ah, at last!: flesh of my flesh, bone of my bones.”

They are only ultimately fulfilled in togetherness, and moreso, they are only fulfilled in togetherness with each other and with GOD. I + Thou, + God. That’s communio.

As an aside: Eve said to Adam… “Adam, Do you Love me?” And Adam said, “Honey, Who else?”

Josiah Royce and a Philosophical Dimension

Josiah Royce

Josiah Royce was an American philosopher of the 18th and 19th centuries. Interestingly enough, his philosophy mirrors the entire idea of Communio.
Also, interestingly enough, his house was later purchased by Julia Child, and was used in filming many of her TV shows; it’s kitchen is now in the Smithsonian.

Royce said that man is most fully realized in community with others.

For instance: I’m Joe, and I show up on a bike…. You look at me strangely and say, “What?!”

But when you start asking me, what schools did I go to? Where did you grow up? Do you know so and so? What Parish are you in? What diocese? Etc…

All of these community associations help you to understand who I am, and what I am about.

In Genesis, when Cain kills Abel, his punishment is to walk alone amongst the tribes of the earth. He says No! Such a fate is cruel; cruel and unusual punishment, so he is given some sort of marking; something. But to be alone, to not have a tribe, a clan, a community: that’s a fate worse than death.

The challenge is to take to heart the message of Jesus Christ: Love God; love your neighbor as yourself.

Josiah Royce looked at Rugged Individualism (for example, Thoreau on Walden Pond, a country club, with the Alcott sisters bringing him dinner, living on an inheritance…) and said,
“If this continues, in 100 years people will no longer be willing to pay income taxes; divorce will sky rocket, the family will fall apart.” Very Prophetic.

Nihilistic Trends – To Each His Own

John Paul II, in Fides et Ratio wrote of the prevailing philosophical currents in the world today, one of which is an unhealthy sense of indiviualism: unhealthy in that it promotes isolation.

We’re called to be fully formed individuals, and to have independence, of course. But in community with others and with God.

In the world today we find a great sense of separatism and isolation. Each in his own room, own TV, own music, own computer, own world. Each is his own demi-urge…. Or small god unto his or herself

The challenge is to take to heart the message of Jesus Christ: Love God; love your neighbor as yourself.

Take to heart the writings of St. Paul and look up how to live a life of authentic fraternal love: Love is patient, kind, not jealous, not blind, honest, it is noble and true.

Living in a world of Faith, we find one another in Jesus Christ; we gather in His name; we grow through communion with others.

Fr. Kenneth Allen