Category: Homilies

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

One of the things that we can readily see when we think about God and creation is that God seems to love variety. Just think about our own state here in New Hampshire at the northern most point of it we have almost boreal forest and 2 1/2 hours south will put you on the beach next to the ocean. As a result  there is a wide variety of trees, creatures, insects, terrain, soil — all of which seem to fit a specific niche that in turn contributes to the health of the state, and the larger environment. We see the same variety and specialization in the spiritual world as well saraphim, cherubim, principalities, angels and archangels. This weekend on the Assumption of Mary we have an opportunity to focus on one of God’s most unique, beautiful and important creations our Blessed Mother Mary. The liturgy this weekend invites us to think deeply about who Mary is, what she has done and what she continues to do for us to this very day. 

Blessed Mary is born of two parents just like you and me. However, God did something just a little different in her formation because she was not touched by the corruption of original sin. Based on this observation, it is apparent that God had something very specific in mind for Mary. This does not mean however that she was predestined to say yes to everything that God would offer or desire. Like us, Mary was given a free will, and we see this will exercised as she is greeted by the angel who proposes what God would like to do. She could’ve said no, but she didn’t. Instead, she gives her consent and becomes the vessel by which God will be made flesh. Just let that sink in for a moment — Mary’s womb becomes the place where the God, who created all that is, will reside for nine months; Mary’s womb becomes the vessel by which love, in its most perfect form, lives. Mary must have been an extraordinary person with extraordinary capabilities to be the vessel of God’s supreme love and presence. Mary must also be an incredible woman of faith and trust in God‘s goodness because when she said yes she had no idea where it would lead or what it would require. She had no idea that towards the end of her pregnancy she and her husband would have to trek many miles from home for a census. She had no way of knowing that she would give birth to her child in a manger far from her home. She was not even given the option of the comfort of family after she gave birth because she and her husband had to go to a foreign land in order to protect their son from those who wanted to kill him.

Scriptures to tell us that Joseph, Mary and Jesus did move back closer to home and lived a pretty ordinary life. Mary is present as Jesus makes his way into his ministry. She saved a young couple from social embarrassment when she realizes at a wedding that the wine is going to run out and and then request of her son Jesus that he address this problem of the wine and she instructs the stewards to listen to him and follow his directions. Once again, Mary is present in Jesus‘s life when she meets him as Jesus carries his cross and stands beneath that cross during his passion. Can you imagine the kind of strength and faith it must have taken for her to stand there, watching her flesh and blood die such a violent death? All through this there is no evidence that Mary becomes upset or angry with what happens to her son. It is our belief that at the end of her life that Mary is assumed into heaven, body and soul, where she hears our prayers and brings them to the attention of her son that are suffering and pain may be relieved. In addition to that, Mary is the for us the model of what it means to be a truly well-ordered human being, a model of perfect discipleship, perseverance, complete acceptance and trust in the will of God.

This weekend, Heavenly Father, we thank you for this most precious gift our Blessed Mother Mary and for her continued intercessions for us. Out of gratitude we lift our voices to you as we say:

Hail, Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.


In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Readings for Sunday, August 15, 2021

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Each weekend our readings come from different time and seek to address different needs that have happened in the course salvation history. In our Old Testament reading, Ezekiel is inspired to write as the chosen people are experiencing what it’s like to be ruled by a foreign power during the Babylonian exile. The second Reading, from 1 Corinthian’s, takes place as Paul is traveling throughout Greece spreading the good news about Jesus and what it means to be one of his followers. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is tasked with the difficult situation of trying to put into words that we can understand, what is meant by the kingdom of God.

That is precisely the focus of our readings this weekend the building and the meaning of the kingdom of God. Those words we heard from Ezekiel, tell of how God is going to eventually end a period of exile and restore the leadership to the line of David. Saint Paul, in Corinthians, is describing a tension that exists between the “present and the future as this kingdom of God is being revealed”. This is all pulled together as Jesus describes how the planting of a seed, and the growth of a plant from that seed, is like how God works in the world.

In this parable, Jesus seems to emphasize that we won’t necessarily understand or be able to comprehend what God is doing — that much of the work by God will seem to us like it is random, and that just happens or occurs on its own. Bishop Barron, in his commentary on this parable, emphasizes that this process will be gradual and slow. He says this is a gradual unfolding will happen so we can comfortably grow into what God is giving to us. Bishop Barron further emphasizes that God is inviting us to participate — he does not just want us to stand by. He wants us to use our gifts, talents, and intelligence to be co-creators with God. This kingdom is still unfolding and it is not something that we have to wait to experience after death. No, it is something that is happening now — that we can enjoy now. This kingdom is something that is not only happening to us — as individuals, but it is happening in our community, and throughout the world. Ultimately, the kingdom of God is not so much a thing or a process but a relationship… perhaps even a series of relationships. A relationship to God — yes; but also a relationship to each other, and all created things. A relationship, to which, we must give our consent. In closing I would like to offer you these words from Father Thomas Keating from the prologue of his book Intimacy with God.

Readings for Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Two years ago, Saint Rose of Lima Church was broken into from the downstairs. Early on a Monday morning at about 5:00 am I was informed by George Dimick, our groundskeeper, to come over to the church to check things out.  Several doors were busted down, as if the robber was trying to find something specific, but nothing seemed to be taken, other than a dozen eggs from the downstairs refrigerator. Of all things weird, it was obvious that the robber thought that our Tabernacle was a safe! He had to have worked through the night chiseling away to get into the inside of the Tabernacle! Once the Tabernacle was opened, the robber must have realized what he had done, for he actually tried fitting everything back together (an impossible task for anyone other than John D’etcheverry).

In reality, it is our safe, and it does hold our most treasured person, it holds the very Body of Jesus Christ — the actual Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ!

As your pastor, there is no greater feeling than to restore the Body of Christ to the Tabernacle following Mass at the Easter Vigil! The Tabernacle is emptied prior to the start of the Holy Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil). I know this building is where the Church gathers (brothers and sisters of Christ), and that is why they call it a church, but in reality, without the bodily presence of Jesus, it would feel just like a building. It simply feels sacred and holy to me, and I know from the depth of my existence how important that is to me, and you!

I would like to end this week’s sermon with a little joke written by Deacon Tom Sheridan:  

Recently at Mass, the gruff pastor’s homily was just four minutes long, a fraction of his usual ramblings. Why? “I regret to inform the congregation,” he explained from the pulpit, “that my dog, which is very fond of eating paper, ate that portion of my sermon which I was unable to deliver this morning.” Following Mass, a visitor from another parish shook hands with the pastor and said, “Father, if that dog of yours ever has any pups, I want one to get one for my priest.”

Readings for Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

In our first reading from Deuteronomy, the people Israel have come to the end of their forty-year journey. They find themselves at the river’s edge of the Jordan River. Moses gives them a stern warning that the Promised Land is filled with many temptations and false worship of pagan gods. If the people remain faithful — as the God of Israel has been for them — then not only will their future be safe, but it will also be prosperous. We know the outcome.

In our own country, we have been given so much, and yet there are so many temptations to turn away from worship of the One True God. I’m sure you’ve heard the joke about Father O’Malley…

Father O’Malley answers the phone.

“Hello, is this Father O’Malley?” a woman’s voice says.

“It is,” he replies.

“This is the IRS. Can you help us?”

“I can”.

“Do you know Ted Houlihan?”

“I do.”

“Is he a member of your parish?”

“He is”.

“Did he donate $10,000 to the church?”

“He will.”

Yes, this is Trinity Sunday, and no I can’t fully explain this great mystery of our faith. I do, however, believe in the most important part. In today’s Gospel from Matthew, we see that the early church understood the baptismal formula that Jesus used, by stating go forth and baptize In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The early church understood that God continues to be with them, just as he was for the Israelites as they began a whole new life in the promised land.

God remains faithful, even when do not.

This is also Memorial Day Weekend, let us please pause in silence in honor of all of our men and women who laid down their lives for all of our freedoms, including our practice of religion and for the dignity of the human person.

Readings for Sunday, May 30, 2021


Bob Phillips quoted by Martha Bolton:

An optimist who went hunting with a pessimist wanted to show off his new dog. After the first shot, he sent his dog to fetch a duck. The dog ran across the top of the water and brought back the game. The pessimist said nothing.  The dog retrieved the second and the third ducks in the same way — over the water. Still the pessimist did not react. Finally, the optimist could stand it no longer. 

Don’t you see anything unusual about my new dog?

he asked his companion. 

Yes — he can’t swim.

This celebration of Pentecost, 50 days after Easter, is the Birthday of our Church! The Holy Spirit is given to us!  What is his purpose? To draw us into the love of God. The Holy Spirit empowers us with special gifts to not only benefit ourselves, but all within the Kingdom of God. By using these gifts, we can accomplish the Will of God.  

Last year, due to coronavirus, I was given the honor by Bishop Libasci, to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation.  As the candidate stated his or her saint’s name, I stated “Be sealed with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.” As I looked into the eyes of each candidate, I easily thought of the many Gifts that each individual had from my perspective. What a blessing, it was for me, to simply witness and celebrate!

This week, I challenge you to say to one of your family members, or to a friend, neighbor, or classmate: “I recognize that you have a special gift, a talent, a way about you that really must come from the Holy Spirit! God has truly blessed you, and as a result, us too!

Happy Pentecost everyone!

Happy Birthday!

Readings for Sunday, May 23, 2021

Seventh Sunday of Easter

A little joke: 

The boss to one of his staff: “We’ve got a vacancy. Your twin brother could fill it.”

“My twin brother?”

“Yes. The one I saw at the football game yesterday while you were attending your uncle’s funeral.”

A couple of weeks ago, my challenge was for you to use the power of using Jesus’ name for the purpose of “Good.”  To actually say, “By the power of Jesus Christ’s name, I will keep you in my prayers!” When we think about Jesus’ name, we all know that it isn’t really Jesus Christ. It would probably be something like Jesus BarJoseph (Meaning:  Jesus the son of Joseph). So, in our minds and hearts we call him “Jesus, the Christ.” Christ means “The way, the truth, and the light.”

Can anyone remember the name of the apostle that betrayed Jesus? Yes, you’re correct, there was more than one.  Judas, who was seduced from the truth by the shiny objects of this world. And there was also Peter. Despite Peter’s 3-fold denial of Jesus, he becomes the “Rock” on which the Church is to be built. It is Peter that declares Jesus as the “Christ!”

This past week, not only did we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus, but we also celebrated the feast day of St. Matthias. Matthias became the Apostle that replaced Judas. We don’t know much about him, other than he traveled to a foreign land, and eventually was martyred for his faith. However, it is pretty safe to say that he took the words and works of Jesus to heart. When Peter spoke to the 120 listeners, the Holy Spirit empowered Matthias to come forward.  

As we approach the celebration of Pentecost, I encourage you to make a place in your heart to receive the Holy Spirit! To replace the Judas in our hearts, with that of a saint! This is the perfect time to get our spiritual houses in order. Like Matthias, when the Holy Spirit prompts us to come forward, don’t hold back!

Jesus’ mission was to allow all of us to know that even though we live in this world, we who accept him and his words, do not belong to this world. That not only those who witnessed Jesus and heard his words belong to his kingdom, but we too, belong to his kingdom.

Jesus wasn’t born to die. Jesus was born to show us how to live.

So, ask God for guidance, talk with him, praise him, and enjoy his friendship.

I will pray that your hearts will be opened and that you will receive the Holy Spirit with joy-filled hearts.

Readings for Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sixth Sunday of Easter

One of the things I enjoy about living in New England is the changing of the seasons. Yes, as crazy as it sounds, I still love these changing seasons despite the challenges they can bring with likes of finger numbing cold, oozing spring mud, biting summer insects, and falling leaves that suddenly reappear after I thought I had picked the last one up. Despite these annoyances, the changing of the seasons often reminds me of the phases of life and how each of those phases gives us a chance to see and experience life differently.

Our first reading this weekend, from the Acts of the Apostles, looks at the process of spiritual change, as it focuses on the conversion of Cornelius. Just as we see in this reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Baptism is the principal place of conversion as we actively “reject what is evil and receive the gift of new life.” This call to conversion is not just a call to a single person but “a call to the whole Church… to penance and renewal.” As followers of Jesus, we are called as a both individuals and community to look carefully at our lives, ask ourselves are we living out our baptismal promises and continue to actively ask God for the strength to live this call to renewal (CCC 1427-1433). As our Psalm response reminds us, this “saving power” has been revealed to the nations and is available to all people.

This call to all people is precisely what Jesus means when He says we are to love others as he has loved us. The word love in the instance is not the unconditional love that God lavishes on us, but filial love. This filial, or brotherly love, is a reminder that because of our common origin we are all children of God and thus a single human family. That as individuals and as a community of believers, we are called to look beyond the human weaknesses and resistance to the unconditional love of God — to see the inherent human dignity that resides in each person. We are called do this by being a person and community that is humble, approachable, and genuine. Being true to what God wills, allows those gifts of the Holy Spirit to work through us, which leads to healing and transformation beyond anything we could ever achieve through human efforts alone. 

This process of conversion — like the changing of the seasons and their challenges — offers periods of renewal, growth, harvest, and rest. Ultimately, these periods have the power to heal, restore, and transform all of the human family.

Readings for Sunday, May 9, 2021

Fifth Sunday of Easter

A little joke from Deacon Tom Sheridan:

The little church suddenly stopped buying office supplies from its regular office supply dealer. So, the dealer called the pastor to ask why. “I’ll tell you why,” shouted the pastor indignantly. “Our church ordered some pencils from you to be used in the pews for visitors to register.”

“Well,” interrupted the dealer, “didn’t you receive them yet?”

“Oh, we received them alright,” replied the pastor. “You sent us little pencils each stamped with the words: Play Golf Next Sunday.” 

1st Reading, from Acts: 

Can you imagine being at war, and in the heat of battle, one of the enemy’s soldiers came to your side and said ‘I’m now fighting on your side’? Would you simply trust him? Probably not!

This is how it was with Saul: the disciples of Jesus knew exactly who he was — he was their persecutor. So, the apostle Barnabas actually steps in on Saul’s behalf and becomes like his sponsor, and shares with the other apostles how the Risen Lord appeared to Saul and spoke with him. Something the apostles would find very familiar.  From that point on, not only was Saul accepted and protected, but wherever Saul went, the Church flourished and grew, and was at peace.

2nd reading, from 1 John: 

The thrust of this reading is that we must believe in the Name of Jesus. So often, the Name of Jesus is only used in a curse. Do we, can we, use His Name in the Power of Good? Try it this week! Use the Name of Jesus out loud in a positive way. If it feels awkward to you, then it is something that you MUST work on, as you are a disciple of Christ.

The Gospel, from John:

The Gospel of John reminds us that God wants us to have an intimate relationship with him. The image of the Father being the Vine Master, and Jesus being the Vine, and all of us being the branches that need to bear fruit, is a reminder for us as disciples that we must always remain connected to Jesus, as Jesus is connected to the Father.  To bear fruit means that we continue the work of the Lord.

Let’s go back to the 1st reading, where Saul becomes known as Paul. In meeting the Lord, Saul realizes who he truly is supposed to be. It enabled Saul to confront himself, to see himself in truth. Now, known as Paul, he blossomed because he accepted who he was. Paul shows us what it takes to become and remain part of Jesus’ vine.

When we receive the Eucharist today, either physically or spiritually, may we in return become Eucharistic people, meaning that we are thankful people and use the Name of Jesus for only good things.

Readings for Sunday, May 2, 2021

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Good Shepherd Sunday

Joke (Anonymous): 

Shepherds really get offended when you refer to them as “ewe” people!

On Good Shepherd Sunday, the obvious two questions are: 

  1. Who are the sheep in my flock? And,
  2. How can I be a good shepherd to them?

These questions are a good source of reflection for all of us this weekend. I encourage you to think about each of them this week. Obviously for me, as your pastor, I have to do a little soul searching along with some reflection. As your pastor for the last nine years, I realize that I might not fulfill all of your wishes of what a pastor might be, but I definitely try my best. As most of you know, I am also the Dean of the White Mountain Deanery, which includes supervision for the parishes of North Conway, Lincoln, Woodsville, and every parish north of there.

I realize my weaknesses are not being overly charismatic in my spirituality, and also I am not one for confrontation, so you won’t hear me preach fire and brimstone homilies. I try to stay away from talking about politics. I also realize that my preaching could be a lot different as I admire so many other preachers who are better than me. I don’t consider myself as a conservative or a liberal person when it comes to my faith and my liturgical style. I am also an ultra-introvert when it comes to my personality.

I realize my strengths include organization and order; management of the parish operations. Also, my willingness to try to talk with everyone and to get to know them. To simply hold the door and be a welcoming pastor. To have good judgment without being judgmental. To use my “Priestcraft”, as Bishop O’Neil told me to do, on my ordination day.  He said that the “Ministry of Presence” will be vital in my ministry. When tragedy strikes, and they call you to come — even though you might not have any answers — you must go, and simply be present to your people. The same is true in graduation or birthday parties, just being present goes a long way. Visitation to the hospital, the nursing homes, and the homebound, or that person you just haven’t seen in church for a while, or even visiting the children in the classroom, simply has to happen — and it does. I also find, I can get along with all the age brackets, simply by using a little humor every now and then.

I love the image of the one lost sheep, and Jesus leaving all of the others, simply to rescue the one who is paralyzed due to fear. That’s what sheep do — their legs go stiff and they simply can’t run away. Jesus picks up the paralyzed sheep and places it on his shoulders and carries it back to the flock. Once the fear-filled sheep has been returned to flock, its legs become un-paralyzed and it returns to normal activity.

Jesus knows his sheep, Jesus knows who we are, by name. He is our shepherd and we are his sheep. Jesus has laid down his life in order for us to be saved. Fear and death can no longer paralyze us, for the Good Shepherd continues to place us back into his flock.

So, think about those two questions this week:

  1. Who are the sheep in my flock?
  2. How can I be a good shepherd to them?

Let us, together, imitate the Good Shepherd of our lives!

Readings for Sunday, April 25, 2021

Divine Mercy Sunday

On this second weekend of Easter  we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. All of our readings this weekend have this theme about trusting in the mercy and goodness of Jesus. 

Our reading from Acts of the Apostle s reflects on how the early Christian community shared things in common as a means of demonstrating a trust in the mercy of Jesus who through his disciples would take care of the needs of their growing community.The Psalm  response reminds us that the love of God is “everlasting”.The reading from 1 John reminds us that that the Spirit testifies to the “truth” born from the water and blood which is a reference to that which flowed from the side of Jesus during the crucifixion.Lastly we  have these acts of mercy by Jesus by giving his disciples the power to forgive sins as well as encouraging Thomas to overcome his disbelief by probing his wounds 

I thought this weekend might also be a good time to reflect on Saint Faustina. “Saint Faustina was a young, uneducated nun in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland during the 1930s.  She came from a poor family that struggled during the years of World War I.  She had only three years of simple education, so hers were the humblest tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or garden.  However, she received extraordinary revelations — or messages — from our Lord Jesus.  

Though the Divine Mercy message is not new to the teachings of the Church, Sr. Faustina’s Diary sparked a great movement, and a strong and significant focus on the mercy of Christ.  Saint John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina in 2000 making her the “first saint of the new millennium.”  Speaking of Sr. Faustina and the importance of the message contained in her Diary, the Pope called her “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.”

Today, we continue to rely of St. Faustina as a constant reminder of the message to trust in Jesus’ endless mercy, and to live life mercifully toward others.  We also turn to her in prayer and request her intercession to our merciful Savior on our behalf. There is a National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. 

The message of The Divine Mercy is simple. It is that God loves us – all of us. And, He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy

This message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina who in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread. 

The message and devotional practices proposed in the Diary of Saint Faustina are completely in accordance with the teachings of Church and are firmly rooted in the Gospel message of our Merciful Savior. Properly understood and implemented, they will help us grow as genuine followers of Christ. 

Personally I am deeply moved by St Faustina’s prayer for the Healing of the family tree which we will pray this Sunday from 2:30 to 3:30 pm here at St Rose as part of our Divine Mercy Holy Hour. I hope you will consider joining Father Mark and myself. 

Jesus I trust in you.

Source information St Faustina from

Readings for Sunday, April 11, 2021