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.


Fr. Kenneth Allen