Category: Homilies

Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil

It has been been a long and strange year. Last year as we celebrated the vigil for the sake of safety there was only a few of us in this space at Saint Rose. Tom and Doreen were here recording. There were only 2 to 3 music ministry and enough readers to proclaim the Word of God were also present. Although we are still not back to where we want to be, we are getting much closer than we have been. For the most part we have been able to celebrate the Triduum as a family in faith.

Along those lines… can you imagine how you are going to feel when the headlines, TV news, and updates from the states announce: Covid-19 no longer a threat, all restrictions lifted across the globe. How will you feel at that moment… relieved, happy, excited, joyful? Personally, I am going to do the snoopy dance… maybe even in public. Who are the first people you want to see… children, grandchildren, parents, friends? And when you see them, how will you greet them… hug, dance, cry, laugh? What will you do first… travel, go on a shopping spree without a mask, go to a concert or a sporting event, take a trip with a long plane ride? Me, I want to invite all my family, friends, and fellow musicians to a huge picnic and jam session lasting way into the night, and the next day, go play out in the woods. Have you captured the feeling of that and subsequent moments? I want you to make note how you feel as the burden of this experience is lifted from you, those you love, and our world. This, my brothers and sisters, is akin to the Easter joy we celebrate this weekend! The gift of having a burden… the burden… lifted that we could not lift by ourselves.

Tonight our readings recall not only the kind of world God longed to provide for us, but the lengths that God went, and continues to go, to bring us back to his protection and love. Tonight our readings recall the people, places, and things that he used to lift the weight of sin and division from our backs. In all that time, whether we accepted or rejected God, He never gave up on us or stopped fighting for us — even to the point of sending his son, our brother Jesus to “lift from us the prison bars of death”. That death, being more than the end of lives on earth, but a separation from the God who loves us and who is the source of life — not just for a day or two, but for eternity. This is a true reason for celebration and joy. It is like having the joy that you feel about having the virus lifted from you by multiplying it by the number of breaths you will take in a lifetime. That does not mean that the road ahead of us will always be easy or joy filled because we still live in a broken world. What it does mean is knowing how this story ends that we can experience the joy and peace of his presence here as well as in the world to come. Through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, no matter where we go or what we do, there is no escape from love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Jesus has risen! Happy Easter!

Readings for Holy Saturday at the Easter Vigil

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday marks the end of the Lenten season. I hope this Lent has been a very positive one for you that through your prayers, fasting, acts of reconciliation and helping the less fortunate, your faith has been enriched and that you are now more excited to serve our Lord.

On Holy Thursday we celebrate the many gifts and facets of our Catholic faith. By Catholic faith I mean the universal faith that calls all people to God himself. Our gathering this evening starts right off with recognizing these gifts as the Holy Oils are presented. The Holy Oils remind us of course of the sacraments those moments of personal encounter with God that transform, heal, and leads us more deeply into the mystery of God‘s love. The Holy Oils also represent how God through the gifts of the Holy Spirit uses all of our senses to help us to better understand and to experience the richness of His Being. This richness of sensory experience surrounds us in this beautiful worship space, is enhanced by the beautiful linens and vestments, by the candles, the fragrance of the flowers and incense, wine and bread that is transformed into the body and blood of Christ and the chambers of this hall filled with glorious and beautiful music. This celebration of our senses by God emphasizes the beauty of what it means to be a human being when we are United to him.

Holy Thursday is also the night when we celebrate the washing of the feet which is a symbol of service most often associated with Holy Orders and the living out of consecrated life. As a baptize people we are all called to be Priest,Prophet and King but some of us have the wonderful privilege to serve God and his community in some very intimate ways. Through our ordinations Father Mark and I share in this wonderful gift of consecrated service to the people of God.Ordination into the priesthood takes this ministry of service one step further by adding to  it the charism  of sacrifice. That a priest gives all that he has to the service of God. It is through the gift of priesthood that we have the Bishops, the Cardinals, the magisterium and the Pope whose mission is be stewards of the gifts of God and to make sure that we the people of God stay true to what God has instructed.

Linked with the priesthood we celebrate tonight our most treasured gift, the Institution of the Eucharist.Jesus told us that he would be with us even to the end of the age. The Eucharist is the mechanism by which Jesus remains present and fully alive in creation. Through this wonderful gift of the altar we not only have a chance to see with our eyes and touch with our hand the very flesh and blood of Jesus himself but he invites to consume him so that he may travel with us out into the world.Through this most sacred gift our own bodies become living vessels that carry Christ out into our communities and the world so that we get to share in his most holy ministry.

My brothers and sisters as we celebrate these gifts and move through the Triduum may our love for God be ever deepened, our desire to serve be renewed  and our hearts be filled with joy for the celebration of Easter that awaits us.

Readings for Thursday, April 1, 2021

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

A little joke written by George Goldtrap:

A small boy ran home and excitedly told his parents: “School will be dismissed for good ………. on Friday April 2nd!”

“I just don’t believe that”, his mother said.

“It’s true,” the boy said. “I just got this note from the teacher.”

The teacher’s note said: “School; will be dismissed at 11:00am for Good Friday, April 2nd.”

Do you remember what the Gospel Reading was on the 2nd Sunday of Lent this year? It was from the Gospel of Mark. It was the story of the Transfiguration. The end of the gospel reads:

As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Just like in the joke, Peter, James, and John had to be asking themselves, did we hear him correctly? What does he mean about rising from the dead?!

We are Easter people; we know the story and how it ends. Can you imagine what they were going through? Even to the point of questioning everything — including Jesus’s mental well-being.

Let us together journey into another Holy Week, but this time — imagining that we were either Peter, James, or John — and simply being in awe for the very first time. Uncertainties, yes; great faith will definitely be needed. 

Readings for Sunday, March 28, 2021

Fifth Sunday of Lent

A little joke written by Paulo Cesar Menegusso:  

Driving back from a car-repair class, John said to his buddy, Joe, “I’m going to turn now. Could you stick your head out the window to see if the blinker’s working?”

“Sure,” Joe replied as he peeked outside. “It is, no it isn’t, yes it is, no it isn’t, yes it is…”

Have you ever been recommended a good movie, or a good book, or a nice restaurant, or a new vehicle? Sure, we have! But from whom we receive that recommendation matters to us. If it is from a complete stranger, versus a close friend, well that makes all the difference in the world! We trust our friends!  

One of the joys of my pastorship is seeing friendships form out of our parish experiences, whether by family gatherings within the Knights of Columbus organization, or from our many opportunities of Christian Formation from our Religious Education Program or our Adult Faith Sessions, and of course the many social functions that we usually celebrate during normal times without a pandemic. I witness people out to eat, or other social functions, or attending other church functions sitting together as friends. These friendships create the foundations of trust as we all mature within our faith and our lives.

Our readings of scripture this weekend force us to see how many times God takes the initiative to start up a “friendship” or a “relationship” with us. He does so by creating Covenants

We see how many times humanity fails the conditions of the covenants, and how many times God comes to our rescue.

The golden calf had to be destroyed, this lent, what is it in our lives that we need to let go of and what in us must die to self so that we can bring others to Jesus Christ?

We too must invite others to this relationship we have with Jesus. Our recommendations will be received with trust, simply because our lives have been molded and shaped by God’s mercy.

I know this was a short homily… it is my gift to you. 

Next week we celebrate Palm Sunday, which means the Mass will be a little longer than normal.

Readings for Sunday, March 21, 2021

Fourth Sunday of Lent

When I was probably in first or second grade, my maternal grandfather would wear this really nice Bulova watch. I really admired that watch, and so my grandfather knowing that, made a deal with me. He said if you will learn to tell time, and then can demonstrate that to me that you can tell time well, I will give you this watch. It really gave me an incentive, and in about a year, my grandfather gave me his watch as part of a birthday gift. Looking back, I see how my grandfather, like so many of my other relatives, were proactive in teaching and sharing knowledge with me. My relatives didn’t necessarily wait until I was interested, they looked for opportunities to show me something new. And so it is with our God.

As I was researching for this homily, I came across some words from Bishop Baron that reminded me that, like my relatives, God is not passive. God does not wait for us to seek him; he has been and is seeking us. The “chosen people” we hear about in the Old Testament week after week, are a sign of God’s efforts to develop a relationship with the human race — an effort which continues to this day and includes us. The reading from the Book of Chronicles reminds us how God sent messengers through the prophets in an effort to call, teach, and to warn these chosen people. Not only did God call, but over time, He created a sacred place where they could encounter God personally. This temple was a place where they could be reminded about the wisdom God shared with them, the wonders that he had done for them, and a place where they could offer thanks for these repeated acts of love by God. Sadly, time and again, the chosen people became distracted, turned away and actively rejected what had been given to them. God gave them the freedom to choose, so he could not save them from the consequences of their choices. The temple was defiled and destroyed. The people were exiled to Babylon for seventy years, and once again, they were slaves. God, however, would not let this be the final word. God himself would rebuild this temple in such a way that it could never be destroyed or defiled again. It would be temple where all people would be gathered across place and time. It would be a temple where the Word and presence of God would dwell in perfect harmony.

For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

Bishop Baron says that these familiar words from John 3:16 are the perfect summary of God’s active pursuit and the fullness of his plan — to not only have a relationship with all humankind, but to save it from eternal destruction. Jesus himself becomes this new temple — a place where God dwells, a place where we can actually see the wonders of God with our own eyes, and touch him with our own hands. We do it each week as we gather around this table and celebrate Eucharist. Through this tremendous example of love, not only do we experience redemption, but we are invited into the unfathomable love that exists between Jesus and His Father. A love so deep that Jesus intentionally pursued his own physical destruction so that we could have the fullness life, both now and in the world to come. A love, as Saint Paul says, in that letter to the Ephesians that is rich in mercy and graces poured out on us each and every day. Grace that is freely given without strings, purely out of love. Grace that allows us to give the gifts that we have been given to others for their betterment. My brothers and sisters these are not the acts of a God who is judgmental and angry, but one who truly feels our pain, understands our difficulties, and wants to help us. A God who wants us to experience the fullness of his love.

In these remaining weeks of Lent may we spend time contemplating this great mystery of the Cross. Like Father Mark, I invite you to participate in the Stations of the Cross and/or the Divine Mercy Hour. May these moments of active reflection remove our fears, fill us with hope, and help us to pursue God as actively as He is pursuing each of us.

Readings for Sunday, March 14, 2021

Third Sunday of Lent

In the Book of Exodus, we hear of the 10 commandments. Being so close to St. Patrick’s Day, did you ever hear about the St. Murphy’s Commandment?  It goes like this: 

Anything a preacher says that can be misunderstood will be misunderstood!

Do you remember my homily I gave to you three years ago? It was one of my favorite homilies ever! I threw bags of cotton candy high into the air as a re-enactment of Jesus thrashing the Temple area.

If you look in your Bibles in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you will see this event happening near the end of Jesus’ ministry. However, in John’s Gospel, it takes place at the beginning of his ministry!

For John, this story is about Jesus challenging the very authority of the Temple with his own authority.

The ultimate question just has to be: why is Jesus ANGRY?

Is it because the merchants are selling sacrificial animals? No!

Was it because the merchants were turning secular money into Temple money? No! After all, this was the only way for the Jewish people to pay their Temple tax!

So why is Jesus so angry?

He is angry because the whole situation, the marketplace, the temple taxation, the purity of unblemished animals to be used for sacrifice, the attitude of the people, the place of gossip, and “The Place to Hang out” has lost its original purpose and meaning!

It was supposed to be the place where people who sought out the Presence of God, would find it!

Jesus declares that His Body, is now the new Temple!

The Body of Christ.

So, when I threw the cotton candy, it was meant for you to think about Jesus simply just losing it, for all of us to take special notice! Think about how we do a spring cleaning, whether in the garage or in our homes! Lent is a time for us to do the same thing with our spiritual lives! What needs to be cleaned out? What is getting in our way of recognizing the Presence of God within the Temple of the Holy Spirit — yes, ourselves!

What habits, feelings, emotions, sins, memories, etc., need to be cleaned out this Lent? Our first reading from Exodus is an awesome examination of conscience! Let us simply do that.

Whatever I say, will probably be misunderstood. The Holy Spirit will take over and speak to us directly, even if it feels foolish to us.

May we be fools for the sake of Jesus, and know the renewal and life that only such foolishness can bring.

Happy 3rd week of Lent!

Readings for Sunday, March 7, 2021

Second Sunday of Lent

A little joke from Deacon Tom Sheridan:

When the diocesan information technology people checked the parish computers for security problems, they found that the youth minister was using the following password for her computer: 


When the technician asked why she had such a long password, she said,

Hellllloooooooo! You guys in support said that it had to be at least eight characters long, didn’t you?

When I look at the readings each weekend, I always ask myself, what is the common denominator? This weekend is no different. It is kind of hard to find, but I believe it is a combined story of love. More specificly, the power of Love. With a few “characters” along the way.

In the Book of Genesis, we hear the story of Abraham and his son Isaac.   Abraham struggled with his faith in God, and his faith grew very slowly. He has a son, Ishmael born from his servant, Haggar. Abraham at first believes that Ishmael would be the heir to serve God’s Kingdom. But he also has another son, a younger son, Isaac born of Sarah, his wife. God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac and he doesn’t hesitate. God’s messenger stops the sacrifice and promises Abraham will be blessed with many descendants. God asks, God sees, God relents, and God blesses! Isaac becomes the child favored by God!

In our 2nd reading from Romans, we hear that God loves us so much that he allows his own Son to die for us! For the sake of our salvation! Not only did Jesus die for us, but he rose from the dead, and becomes our greatest intercessor! If God is for us, who can be against?

In the Gospel of Mark, we hear that the Transfiguration story clarifies the divine identity of Jesus.

This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.

We have heard that before, haven’t we?

Peter, James, and John witness Jesus conversing with Elijah and Moses. Do you wonder what they were talking about? It doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is that Moses represents the Law, and Elijah represents the Prophets. And Jesus becomes “dazzlingly white” before them which represents his Divinity.  

If you have ever awoken from a deep afternoon nap, you know the feeling of not totally being aware of things. Here, Peter has experienced something that he’s not quite sure about, to the point where he is terrified. To experience the presence of God in such a way, must have been overwhelming! And, as quickly as it all began, it was over with. Jesus instructs his disciples not to say anything until after His resurrection from the dead. And the three disciples just looked at each other, and thought, what does He mean by that?!

Here we are on the 2nd Sunday of Lent! How’s it going? Do you wish that you chose something different to give up this year for Lent? I say, go for it, make the change, choose something different, it’s okay! After all, it isn’t really what we do, but rather why we are doing it!

God sees us all as his children, and many of us are “characters!” Just remember, if God is for us, who can be against?! Our faith needs to mature and change along the course of our lives, and it is only by the grace of God that we can accomplish great sacrifices and grow in spiritual ways! Let us journey together, one day at a time.

Readings for Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word is that we Americans are consumed with maintaining our youth and youthful appearance. That some people will go to any lengths to remove blemishes, imperfections, and the signs of aging. If you don’t think that’s true think about some of the individuals you have seen who have had extensive plastic surgery. With that and our readings in mind can you imagine an infomercial like this…

Hello my name is Deacon Steve Noyes from the Diocese of Manchester. As humble and stunningly handsome cleric I frequently am asked this question:

Deacon how do you maintain that unique, breath taking and iridescent complexion of yours?

So now, in the next minutes, I will selflessly reveal a formula that I modified from the Three Stooges website, using mostly household items and tools that will allow you to achieve these breath taking results. I will warn you this is not for the faint of heart or those who only want to use half measures to maintain a blemish free, youthful appearance like you see before you. Now first you need to cleanse the skin and exfoliate. Now you can’t use some basic sort of facial scrub with those little tiny scrubbing bubbles — that just won’t cut it. No, the first step is coarse sandpaper — you can use it wet or dry. Use a little bit of elbow grease, flatten that furrowed brow, collapse those crows feet, liquidate those liver spots. After rinsing, dry with an organic terry towel you are ready for  the second step.

This is a custom blended paint and clear-coat called diaconal diamond glow (available in finer stores and apothecaries). Apply a thin coat. If you choose to forgo my custom blend, make sure to buy paint that doesn’t run, otherwise it makes it look like you’re crying all the time and will require additional sanding in the preparation phase. Make sure that you close your eyes — failing to do so will not sting, it’ll cloud your vision for several days. I learned the hard way. After that is completely dry comes the third step.

Apply a liberal portion of bowling alley wax. Not only will this protect against the elements but will also ensure that you don’t get dents and unsightly scars from those little bumps and bruises that can happen in daily life. If you prefer a high luster, take out your Dremel tool with the polishing cloth on it and apply to those areas you would like to have glow with a youthful iridescence. Yes, with these few steps you too can look like this.

Now none of you, or any reasonable person, would not do this to themselves. We all know that it would cause damage, and even more to the point, it would not remove the blemishes that really matter. The blemishes that get in the way of relationship with God and each other. 

This week both the Old Testament and Gospel readings refer to the Book of Leviticus. The book of Leviticus, when combined with some of the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, create an instruction manual per se about how to praise God, how to treat other human beings, as well as how to deal with wide range of what we would call social justice issues. To us, some of these laws and regulations are going to seem fairly basic. Father Mike Schmidt, is currently doing the Bible in a year timeline readings through Ascension Press, explains these laws this way:

At the time when these laws and rules were introduced, the world was a pretty uncivil and violent place. You could essentially do most anything you wanted without any sort of legal or social consequence because they did not really exist. When God called the chosen people, he said they could not continue to act like this if they were to execute justice like he executes justice. That there was a limit that to what you could do to another human being, or group. That there were ways to address the health concerns so as to protect the community. God also wanted to outline how we are to worship him and seek his forgiveness when we have made a mistake. These laws all get woven into this covenant between the chosen people and God. They continued to exist up to the time of Jesus and have influenced our laws and codes of contact to this day. Isn’t it interesting in our Gospel reading that Jesus who is God incarnate after healing a leper obeys the law the law and refers the leper to the priest as prescribed by these rules? 

In much the same way, our reading from first Corinthians this week reminds us that we are to be imitators of Jesus. Saint Paul reminds us that Jesus perfectly lives out the law of God. That by imitating and approaching him our blemishes and barriers are removed.

Beginning on Wednesday, we enter the season of Lent, which like the leper, allows us to approach Jesus and examine how are we doing living out God’s law. Where there are blemishes and injuries we can present ourselves to our priest for reconciliation and healing?

May this Lent help us become less consumed with our outward appearance, inspire us to intensely live out God’s law of love, and to be more concerned about the health of our eternal soul.

Readings for Sunday, February 14, 2021

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I have a feeling this joke was written prior to the invention of email.

Written by Susan Reilly:

Now that my mother’s office has a fax machine, I fax my correspondence to her instead of using the post office. Although I’ve told her many times that it’s a faster and less expensive way to communicate, she continued to mail me weekly letters.

On my last birthday, however, she showed me that she now has a full grasp of technology. She faxed me a $100 bill with the note:

Happy Birthday. You’re right — it is cheaper to fax than mail,
Love, Mom.

Today’s readings challenge us to look beyond ourselves, and to embrace God’s mercy, and then be light for others. There’s an incompleteness when we try to handle or control things on our own.

In the Book of Job — Job isn’t happy, he finds his life burdensome. Job doesn’t understand why his situation in his life is so difficult. His very close friends try to persuade him to repent of his past sins, and then hopefully God will take mercy on him. However, Job knows that he has done nothing wrong, so why should he repent? 

In our 2nd reading, Saint Paul has this burning compulsion to simply PREACH!! He is driven to save as many souls as possible.

In the Gospel of Mark, we hear Jesus proclaim the Kingdom of God being at hand. In this passage we hear Jesus cures Peter’s mother-in-law, he also heals others, and then he travels onward to the next village.

Jesus heals! Jesus is present to us! Jesus moves ahead of us. Jesus journeys to the next situation.

One little note, once Peter’s mother-in-law is healed, she immediately does something… What? That’s right, she proceeds to wait on them! Jesus’ healing brings about a whole new way of life. The Greek word for this is:  Diakonos what the English would translate into Diaconate — a life of service.

All of us at times:

  • Have doubted like Job!
  • Have persecuted like Saul!
  • Have denied Jesus like Peter!

The Holy Spirit changes all of this for us, as He calls us to love as Jesus did, and to proclaim the Gospel with our lives. And as Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us, sometimes when we proclaim the Gospel, if we have to, use words.

Even though at times we feel loneliness and desperation, the Lord is with us — not only in our hearts, but also miraculously in the presence of the Eucharist at this very altar. Let us open our hearts and proclaim him to the world!

Readings for Sunday, February 7, 2021

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Denise Stewart wrote this joke:

Two American tourists are driving through Wales. They decide to stop for a bite to eat in the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwillantysiliogogogo-goch.  

Baffled by the name, one of them turns to a local and asks,

Would you please say where we are — very slowly?

The Welshman leans over and says, very slowly,


If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts!

Each and every day we hear so much, on the tv, or on the radio, or the sounds of street traffic, etc. Each day we are bombarded with noise! To hear God’s voice, we need to know how to turn down the volume!

I remember being in major seminary at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ (very close to Newark NJ). I was homesick. I wasn’t used to the city life. I remembered taking comfort at looking up at the stars at night, so I found myself laying on the ground looking up one night, and you know what I saw? No stars! Planes! And a milky sky! The sky was simply too busy!

Our lives can be that noisy and busy as well, but not all noise is bad — such as a baby’s laugh, or a phone call from a loved one, or a favorite song comes over the radio — these can all be touches of blessing and joy.  

So where do we find ourselves finding the quiet time to slow down and be able to listen? You may think about being next to a riverbed or near the crashing waves of the ocean as you walk on the beach, or even high up on a mountain trail. For me, often at times, it’s sitting in my favorite Lazy Boy rocking chair, with the tv OFF, and me just looking at the ceiling thinking about how my day was, and what tomorrow might end up being.

In Mark’s Gospel, it stated that He taught with authority. Every time we hear the scriptures, Jesus speaks to us with that same authority! The Gospels reveal to us who Jesus is: Savior, Lord, teacher, healer, miracle worker, and even our friend. They also reveal his mission to us: love one another, feed the hungry, care for the widow and the orphan, pray for the sick, wash each other’s feet, and do this in remembrance of me.

How well are we listening? Each time that we leave Mass, or watch it on YouTube, or the internet, what do we do with what we have just heard? Do we talk about it with our family or friends? Do we let it impact our actions, our words, and our choices in the coming week?

If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.

People need to hear the voice of the Lord more than ever, for today there are many other voices speaking to us.

God’s voice speaks the Truth. He speaks with Love! And, with Acceptance.  God’s voice encourages us, and forgives us, and brings us together as one.

As Christians we are called to be that voice in our community, our school, our place of work, on our team, wherever His voice is needed.

This week, ask yourself: Where can you be the voice of Jesus? and What words will you say?

May the Eucharist strengthen us always to be his voice of inclusion, forgiveness, and love!

Readings for Sunday, January 31, 2021