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Father George William Rutler Homilies

Syndicate content Father George William Rutler Homilies
The homilies of Fr. George William Rutler, pastor of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in New York City.
Updated: 1 hour 59 min ago

2018-09-16 - Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

09/16/2018 - 2:47pm

16 September 2018

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 8:27-36 + Homily

16 Minutes 17 Seconds

Today's Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091618.cfm

(from the parish bulletin)

On the ninth of October in 1845, Blessed John Henry Newman was received into the Catholic Church by the Passionist priest Blessed Dominica Barberi. On the 150th Anniversary of that meeting of saints, to the very hour, I had the privilege of offering Mass in the little room where it took place.       Newman’s decision was hard, as he had devoted his life to many souls whom he would have to leave. On September 25, 1843, he preached his sermon of farewell—“The Parting of Friends"—in the church he had built. This means that next week will be its 175th anniversary. His sermon ended with lines that belong to literature as well as to piety:   And, O my brethren, O kind and affectionate hearts, O loving friends, should you know any one whose lot it has been, by writing or by word of mouth, in some degree to help you thus to act; if he has ever told you what you knew about yourselves, or what you did not know; has read to you your wants or feelings, and comforted you by the very reading; has made you feel that there was a higher life than this daily one, and a brighter world than that you see; or encouraged you, or sobered you, or opened a way to the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed; if what he has said or done has ever made you take interest in him and feel well inclined towards him; remember such a one in time to come, though you hear him not, and pray for him, that in all things he may know God's will, and at all times he may be ready to fulfil it.        Some years before, Newman had traveled to Italy where he entered unfamiliar churches: “I neither understood nor tried to understand the Mass service—and I did not know, or did not observe, the tabernacle Lamp—but now after tasting of the awful delight of worshipping God in His Temple, how unspeakably cold is the idea of a Temple without that Divine Presence! One is tempted to say what is the meaning, what is the use of it?”    Newman would later realize the effect of the Blessed Sacrament reserved for adoration, and what he said could describe our situation on 34th Street: “It is really most wonderful to see this Divine Presence looking out almost into the open streets from the various Churches . . . I never knew what worship was, as an objective fact, till I entered the Catholic Church.”    Ours is a restless city, and no more serene these days is this earthly part of the Holy Catholic Church. Visitors stop by hourly to look at our building, and whether known or not, the axle on which our world turns, often shakily, is that Presence with the candle burning by it.

 

2018-09-09 - Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

09/09/2018 - 4:04pm

9 September 2018

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 7:31-37 + Homily

17 Minutes 21 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

   A rare gift is to be the pastor of a parish, and one  of its greatest benefactions is a fatherly part in the lives of so many people.  One thinks of the film “Good bye Mr. Chips” when the venerable schoolmaster sees in his memory’s eye all the lads he had taught over generations.  That is why at each Mass there is a timeless family reunion, when all the departed of the parish are invoked at the altar.  I do not envy prelates and other officials who, albeit obedient to their vocation, have not had long experience as a pastor. 

   This struck me recently when I received a newly published four volume set of a collection of my pastoral letters going back many years, and elegantly bound in leather: “A Year with Father Rutler.”  Perhaps the bindings are superior to the content.  This was not my initiative, and  I had  little to with it.  Much of what is worthy in the pages is the work of the editor, Duncan Maxwell Anderson.  His family is a model of the blessings of a pastor, for I received Duncan into the Church, married him to his super wife, baptized all four daughter and son who serves often here as an altar boy, married the oldest daughter and recently baptized her first baby. So the generations move on, and these end of summer days I think lines from the “September Song” which was first performed on Broadway in 1938 with music by Kurt Weill:  "For it's a long, long time,/From May to December,/And the winds grow cold,/When they reach September,"   Even surpassing the beautiful wistful music are those lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, the distinguished playwright, novelist, and songwriter.  Our good parishioner  Duncan is named for his grandfather who wrote those words.

   Moving from May into September, it may be said without understatement that this has not been an uneventful summer.   What we may make of events in the Church as they unfold remains to be seen, but for the faithful, the consideration of corruption and dishonesty in its many forms, can only move one to thankfulness that the Lord who cleansed the Temple of thieves is now at work exposing and wiping away what has sullied the holiness of the Church for which our Lord died to give us.  Like resetting a broken limb, the process is not gentle but the result will be of inestimable good.  As no on is born without an assignment vouchsafed to God alone, it is a special honor to be chosen by our Creator to live in days of salvation history which by their critical nature require that those alive now be nothing less than what Saint Paul described: “… servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Here, furthermore, it is sought in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

2018-09-02 - Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

09/02/2018 - 2:58pm

2 September 2018

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 + Homily

17 Minutes 57 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

As is our custom, the Pastor's Column does not appear in the weeks of August, and will be resumed after Labor Day. Fr. Rutler wishes to thank you for all your interest and support.

For summer reading,  Father Rutler's latest book, "Calm in Chaos," is now available through the publisher, Ignatius Press, and can also be ordered on Amazon

2018-08-26 - Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

08/26/2018 - 3:46pm

26 August 2018

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6:60-69 + Homily

19 Minutes 35 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

As is our custom, the Pastor's Column does not appear in the weeks of August, and will be resumed after Labor Day. Fr. Rutler wishes to thank you for all your interest and support.

For summer reading,  Father Rutler's latest book, "Calm in Chaos," is now available through the publisher, Ignatius Press, and can also be ordered on Amazon

2018-08-23 - St. Rose of Lima

08/25/2018 - 10:32am

23 August 2018

St. Rose of Lima

Matthew 13:44-46 + Homily

19 Minutes 29 Seconds

 

2018-08-19 - Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

08/19/2018 - 2:44pm

19 August 2018

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6:51-58 + Homily

15 Minutes 44 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

As is our custom, the Pastor's Column does not appear in the weeks of August, and will be resumed after Labor Day. Fr. Rutler wishes to thank you for all your interest and support.

For summer reading,  Father Rutler's latest book, "Calm in Chaos," is now available through the publisher, Ignatius Press, and can also be ordered on Amazon

 

2018-08-12 - Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

08/12/2018 - 2:23pm

12 August 2018

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6:41-51 + Homily

18 Minutes 48 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

As is our custom, the Pastor's Column does not appear in the weeks of August, and will be resumed after Labor Day. Fr. Rutler wishes to thank you for all your interest and support.

For summer reading,  Father Rutler's latest book, "Calm in Chaos," is now available through the publisher, Ignatius Press, and can also be ordered on Amazon

2018-08-05 - Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

08/05/2018 - 2:22pm

5 August 2018

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6:24-35 + Homily

19 Minutes 42 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

As is our custom, the Pastor's Column does not appear in the weeks of August, and will be resumed after Labor Day. Fr. Rutler wishes to thank you for all your interest and support. For summer reading,  Father Rutler's latest book, "Calm in Chaos," is now available through the publisher, Ignatius Press, and can also be ordered on Amazon

 

2018-07-29 - Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

07/29/2018 - 2:40pm

29 July 2018

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6:1-15 + Homily

17 Minutes 1 Second

(from the parish bulletin)

  While our weekly parish bulletin continues through the season, it is our custom to suspend my weekly column through the month of August until Labor Day. I do not take a vacation (for reasons I explained half a dozen years ago in an essay called “Vacation Trials and Tribulations,” available on the Crisis Magazine website.)    Summer is supposed to be a time of repose, and that has bid me reflect on how our Lord himself “rested” on the Sabbath. That image intensifies the fact, corroborated in the totally separate sphere of physics, that he brought all things into existence from a “void,” the word for which we draw from Greek as “chaos.” God is not a God of chaos but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). The saints, in the most tumultuous times, have an inner serenity reflecting this.    Our nation now boasts unprecedented material prosperity and thankworthy low unemployment, but these benefits can only be enjoyed if man’s true joy is found in God. Despite the many favorable indexes of our current material order, there seem to be unprecedented explosions of chaotic hatred and bitterness in daily discourse. These are polemical evidences of separation from the consolations of holiness. Atheists are the bitterest of people, and those who cloak their distance from God under the euphemisms of secular progress become most violent when the philosophical bubble in which they have been comfortable, is punctured by reality.    Because the human life is meant for happiness, people will strive for peace of soul, unless they decide to make a bargain with Satan: “Evil, be thou my good.” For instance, the chaos unleashed by atheistic Communism in Russia was truly diabolic, and not merely a malfunction of socio-economic policy. It is recorded that Stalin, one of the world’s worst mass murders, died with a frightening look in his eyes, as he pointed an evil finger at those around his deathbed. And yet, his cooperator in evil, Georgy Malenkov, who succeeded him as Premier of the Soviet Union, escaped purges and died in 1988, a convert in the calm embrace of Russian Orthodoxy, singing in a choir at the Divine Liturgy.    Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, understandably perplexed throughout life, became a Roman Catholic in 1982 on the Feast of Saint Lucy the Martyr, and after years in exile as a daily communicant, she died in Wisconsin in 2011. This is the peace “not as the world gives” (John 14:27), but as only Christ can convey it, and every Christian is commissioned by baptism to show it to others.    I suppose this is prelude to mentioning that Ignatius Press has just published a collection of my essays entitled “Calm in Chaos.” I cannot claim that they will calm unsettled minds, perhaps the opposite, but they might offer some repose in these warm weeks, occasioning thanks that our God is not a God of chaos.

2018-07-25 - Feast of St. James

07/29/2018 - 2:29pm

25 July 2018

Feast of St. James

Matthew 20:20-28 + Homily

21 Minutes 30 Seconds

2018-07-16 - Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

07/22/2018 - 4:18pm

22 July 2018

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 6:30-34 + Homily

15 Minutes 5 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

   Samuel Taylor Coleridge indulged his romantic naiveté in suggesting that culture should be governed by an educated elite, which he called a “clerisy.” The word had the same root as “cleric,” since the clergy had a pre-eminent role in erudition. Coleridge meant it to include all who were versed in higher thought. He was ignorant of the dictum that an intellectual is often someone educated beyond his intelligence. Knowledge is not wisdom. Common sense thrives best among those whom the clerisy caste tend to patronize as common.    Along with professors and bureaucrats, the clergy have to be careful, since clerisy is a relentless illusion. The clergy are at their best when they proclaim the solid Gospel, and they can be at their weakest when they assume a prerogative to comment on problems outside their competence. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops published in 1983 a pastoral letter on disarmament, “The Challenge of Peace,” which, if taken seriously, might have prevented the fall of the Berlin Wall six years later. Their pastoral letter on economics in 1986, “Economic Justice for All,” prescribed a big-government solution that could have thwarted the economic boom that ensued despite them. The clerisy rejected a cogent critique of “Economic Justice” chaired by the former Secretary of the Treasury, William Simon, and supported by Secretary of State Alexander Haig and J. Peter Grace, among others. Opponents of the peace pastoral, Archbishop Philip Hannan and then-Bishop John J. O’Connor, were ignored even though Hannan was the only bishop who had served in World War II, and the future cardinal was auxiliary bishop for the Armed Forces.    Recently, a bishop suggested that anyone who supported laws on illegal immigration might be subject to canonical penalties, a stricture he did not invoke against Catholic congressmen in his state who support abortion. The bishops have also disagreed with the Supreme Court’s defense of the right to work for federal employees. Clerisy often prefers gratuitous politics to doctrinal orthodoxy.    Then there is the curious inconsistency of a cardinal who has said that priests “have no credibility” when it comes to marriage instruction because they have not been married themselves. Having prepared over eight hundred people for marriage, I might venture to enlist most of them in witness against his demurral from competence, and would also ask, if that cardinal is correct, why does he not see any inconsistency in declaring this as prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life. Pope Francis has said that “no one better than [a priest] knows” the challenges that married couples face. Clerisy may be well-intentioned, but Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said that the road to Hell is full of good intentions.    Clerisy does have its flaws, in witness to which one might conjure the ghost of Samuel Taylor Coleridge who, despite his erudition, died from recourse to opium.

2018-07-15 - Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

07/15/2018 - 2:23pm

15 July 2018

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 6:7-13 + Homily

13 Minutes 45 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

   It may be the seasonal heat that incubates revolutionary sentiments, since both Independence Day and Bastille Day occurred in the feverish days of July. One admires the temperance of our Founding Fathers meeting in Philadelphia in un-airconditioned rooms. The other revolution unleashed more violent passions against a devout monarch who, like Charles I and later Nicholas II, inherited the consequences of less benign forebears. There were excesses in the American colonies, but pulling down the statue of George III was unlike the French actually beheading their king and queen.    Inasmuch as the “infamy” that excited the tarring and feathering by Americans was a matter of parliamentary representation and taxation, it was genteel compared to the “infâme” in Paris which meant destruction of the Christian social order. In Philadelphia, no Goddess of Reason was enthroned on the communion table of Christ Church, nor was George Washington drenched in blood when he prayed in Saint Paul’s Chapel before his inauguration. I say this not in a pejorative spirit, for I think many Frenchmen would agree with me, and I have been exhilarated by several Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, with their unsurpassed elegance, albeit absent the concomitant enormities of the Reign of Terror.    What differentiates the two revolutions, is the invocation versus the rejection of God. In one sense, the American Revolution was not a revolution at all, for it asserted the historic claims of citizens as Englishmen mantled with the protestations of the Magna Carta, which had been neglected by more recent German occupiers of the throne. My prejudices are compromised by the fact that my French paternal antecedents were compatriots with Rochambeau and Lafayette, and my English maternal ancestors in their Cheshire regiment may even have taken aim at the Massachusetts militiaman who fired the shot heard round the world.    In America, there were fanatics like Sam Adams, whose eponymous beer should be a caution to God-fearing men, and Tom Paine, who disdained religion. But many more thoughtful American patriots invoked John Locke and, with a few unmeasured exceptions, would have found zealots like the Jacobins ridiculous.    French Revolutionaries tried to substitute the Catholic Church with a mockery of it, rather like what is going on in today’s China. The Constitutional Church would have no pope and its clergy would be compliant state agents, and so forth. The Devil knows how to choreograph religious anarchy. Because Washington did not contradict divine order, he did not end up on the chopping block like Robespierre.    All of that pales in comparison with the only revolution that truly counts, for it changed the world permanently: when Christ rose from the dead, he set free vital germs of human rights, social progress, philanthropy, the philosophical matrix for science, universities, the consciousness of a Creator who made the world a channel of grace strengthened by moral order, and, finally—shown by a mercy divine—the prospect of life eternal.

2018-07-08 - Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

07/08/2018 - 2:25pm

8 July 2018

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 6:1-6 + Homily

17 Minutes 8 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

  There is no limit to the excuses ideologues will make to promote theory over fact. Consider attempts to justify Aztec human sacrifice in the interest of “multiculturalism.” Archeological discoveries of massive numbers of victims are being explained away as not really significant. The estimable scholar, Victor Davis Hanson, has written: “For the useful idiot, multiculturalism is supposedly aimed at ecumenicalism and hopes to diminish difference by inclusiveness and non-judgmentalism. But mostly it is a narcissistic fit, in which the multiculturalist offers a cheap rationalization of non-Western pathologies . . .”  

   Like hyperbole about the Spanish Inquisition, refuted by the latest scholarship, the “Black Legend” would have us believe that the Spaniards destroyed a benign and creative civilization in Mesoamerica. The Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún, a missionary and pioneer anthropologist who translated the Gospel into the Aztec Nahuatl language, represents the best of a not unblemished Hispanic cultural imperative that led to the abolition of human sacrifice, though at a cost, for many Spaniards were cannibalized by the Acolhuas, Aztec allies. Similarly, it was the influence of Christian missionaries like William Carey that banned the Hindu practice of “sati,” the cremation of widows on their husbands’ funeral pyres in the Indian principalities. Between 1815 and 1818, 839 widows were burnt alive in Bengal province alone. A general ban was enforced by Queen Victoria in 1861, the year her own husband died, but sati was still practiced in Nepal until 1920.  

   One estimate has 80,400 Aztec captives sacrificed in 1487 at the re-consecration of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlán. Although the actual figure may have been lower, the cutting out of hearts from victims still alive is an intolerable barbarity, graphically depicted in the film Apocalypto, which shows such rites among the earlier Mayan people. A mixed-race descendant of Cortez, Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxóchitl, calculated that 20% of the infants and children in the general “Mexica” area were sacrificed annually to appease rain deities, along with men and women sacrificed in honor of the serpentine god Quetzalcóatl, the jaguar god Tezcatlipoca and the aquiline warrior god Huitzilopochtli.  

   In the sixteenth century, Montaigne, anticipating Dryden’s “noble savage,” sought to cut the primitive cultures a little slack because he saw barbaric acts among his own European peoples. Those who were scandalized by his analogy then are like those today who commit atrocities under the veneer of progressivism. In 1992, a writer in the leftist Die Zeit of Hamburg rhetorically bent over backwards to deny that the Mesoamericans had committed human sacrifice. We know what happened in his own country among the National Socialist eugenicists.  

   Sacrifices on the altars of ancient temples cannot match the millions of infants aborted today in sterile clinics. Pope Francis has said, “Last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves.” Perhaps five centuries from now, revisionists will deny that abortion was ever legal.

2018-07-01 - Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

07/01/2018 - 2:32pm

1 July 2018

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 5:21-43 + Homily

17 Minutes 46 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

   Now that the Summer Solstice has passed, and amateur Druids have left their plastic litter at Stonehenge for another year, the human mind has the past six months to reflect upon and the rest of the year to anticipate.    It is only because humans are in the image of God, which means we are able to think of him and reflect his love that made us, that we have the imaginative gift to picture past and future. Some scientists claim that certain animals have a reduced capacity for doing that, but only humans can say “I can’t imagine . . .” and "Can you imagine...?    A professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yuval Harari, has speculated that even if there is some minimal ability for other creatures to remember and anticipate, “Only Homo Sapiens can cooperate in extremely flexible ways with countless numbers of strangers. One-on-one or ten-on-ten, chimpanzees may be better than us. But pit 1,000 Sapiens against 1,000 chimps, and the Sapiens will win easily, for the simple reason that 1,000 chimps can never cooperate effectively. Put 100,000 chimps in Wall Street or Yankee Stadium, and you’ll get chaos. Put 100,000 humans there, and you’ll get trade networks and sports contests.” You also get the Holy Church.    The Prince of Lies would twist the imagination so that we are haunted rather than hallowed by the past, and hesitant rather than hopeful about the future. The American Psychological Association surveyed 2,000 people and found that only one percent of them wanted to know about what is to come.      Our Lord did not tell the apostles about the future, except to say, “Follow me.” So the doctors of the soul bid us say upon rising in the morning: “Serviam—I will serve.” Whether you are a Latinist or indulge the vernacular when half awake, that consecrates the day.    Approximately 3,866 years after the completion of Stonehenge, New Yorkers can watch a similarly spectacular sight when Manhattan becomes a sundial here on our worst and best of streets, 34th Street, viewed from the East River right across to our parish along the Hudson. If you missed the Solstice, you can see this phenomenon on July 12 and 13. The sun becomes blinding as the east-west grid aligns with the sunset and creates a spectacle that has come to be called, in competition with the Druids, “Manhattanhenge.” The sun will sink below the skyscrapers at 8:20 pm on Thursday and on Friday at 8:21 pm.    I have the selfish privilege of going into our church to pray after the doors are locked at sunset, with the noise of 34th Street shut outside. The mellow light filters through the nineteenth-century German glass windows. “And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23).

2018-06-24 - Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

06/24/2018 - 2:34pm

24 June 2018

The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Luke 1:57-66, 80 + Homily

19 Minutes 20 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

  The recent dedication of our parish’s shrine of Our Lady of Aradin for persecuted Christians evoked a powerful response. We heard the Our Father prayed in our Lord’s native Aramaic, which is still spoken in northern Iraq along the Nineveh Plain. When the ISIS militants finally were driven out from that area, 1,233 houses of Christians had been totally destroyed, another 11,717 were partially wrecked or burnt, 34 churches were totally destroyed and 329 partially ruined.    Some years ago, I did a television program in Canada with the author Pierre Berton, who had published a book in 1965 called The Comfortable Pew. He was an atheist, albeit one of natural virtue sufficient to disdain the self-satisfaction of those who called themselves Christians but who had become relaxed about the Gospel imperative. A generation before, the ethicist H. Richard Niebuhr had described that sedated kind of Christianity as: "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross." An English theologian whom I knew, summed up most of the preaching he had heard in the United States: “Might I suggest that you try to be good?”    Laodicean lukewarmness (Revelation 3:16) tends to be discomforted by reports of men and women actually sacrificing all they have for the Faith. In one survey of issues that concern Catholics in the United States, economic matters and changes in the climate are prominent, while the persecution of Christians ranks last.    Saint Francis of Assisi went to Egypt during the Fifth Crusade to convert the Muslim caliph who had him beaten and imprisoned, but then released him with some token gifts. The next year, five friars were beheaded in Morocco. The sight of their bodies, ransomed by the King of Portugal and returned to Coimbra, determined Saint Anthony to become a friar. He made the trip to Morocco, but returned after a grave illness.    The great little man of Assisi wrote in his First Rule for the Friars Minor an instruction just as applicable today for dealing prudently with persecutors of the Faith:  

  "The brothers who are to live among the Saracens and other non-believers will enter into spiritual contact with them in one of two ways: The first way is by avoiding every conflict or discussion, and being subject to every human creature for God’s sake, while confessing at every moment that they are Christians. The second way is, at that moment when it is seen to be the will of God, to proclaim the word of God . . . because, as the Lord says in the Gospel: 'Everyone who recognizes me before men, I will recognize before my Father in Heaven And everyone who is ashamed of me and my doctrine, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes clothed in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.'”

2018-06-17 - Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

06/17/2018 - 2:26pm

17 June 2018

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 4:26-34 + Homily

20 Minutes 8 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

   Our Lord was probably a teenager when the Roman general Publius Quinctilius Varus impaled himself on his own sword in despair for having lost three legions in combat with Germanic tribesmen. Thirty years earlier Mark Antony had killed himself the same way in Egypt. The Celtic queen Boudica poisoned herself in Britain some sixty years later, and then, if the historian Josephus is to be believed, there was the mass suicide of Jews on Masada in the year 73.    In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Albigensian cult thought that all created beings were the work of an evil power and considered suicide the ultimate good, as it freed the soul from the “prison” of the body. Contrary to those pessimists, life is sacred: “You have been purchased at a price, so glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Consequently, “We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2280).    Thus Chesterton, who fought serious depression, said: “Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in life . . . The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.” Though suicides were once denied Requiem blessings, the Church now teaches that a suicide victim's responsibility can be diminished by "grave psychological disturbances, anguish or grave fear of hardship, suffering or torture” (CCC 2282).    Much publicity attended the recent suicides of a woman who designed fashionable handbags, and a celebrity chef. I never availed myself of their apparent talents, yet one wonders whether such lives might have been spared had the victims of their own hands studied more intently the wounds in the hands of the One who died so that “none be lost and all be saved.”    Suicide rates in our country in all age groups have climbed nearly 30% in the last generation. Among women between ages 45 and 64, who were promised sexual and social liberation, suicides have increased 60% in the last twenty years. While not wanting to lapse into the logical fallacy of “cum hoc ergo propter hoc” (a coincidence must be a consequence), these figures almost exactly match the increased number of Americans who say they have no faith or belong to no religion.    The only suicide whose fate is certain was Judas, who fell into remorse rather than repentance, and the difference is that he was ashamed of himself out of pride, and so he “repented to himself” and became the “son of destruction” (Matthew 27:3; John 17:12). Christians should not lose hope for those they loved and lost. Saint John Vianney, that master of mystical intuition, told a woman whose husband had jumped off a bridge: “Do not despair. Between the bridge and the water, he made an act of contrition.”

2018-06-10 - Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

06/10/2018 - 2:26pm

10 June 2018

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 3:20-35 + Homily

18 Minutes 7 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

   The Internal Revenue Service would not be impressed by someone who paid taxes not in the formal way, but in a spiritual sense. Yet the equivalent of that has be come an esoteric mantra among many who identify as Catholics but reject Catholicism as their religion. The Pew Research Center found that 13 percent of those surveyed, who regard themselves as “indelibly Catholic by culture, ancestry, ethnicity or family tradition,” do not practice the precepts of the Faith.    That “cultural Catholicism” does not work when challenged by Catholicism’s despisers. There is much to be said for inheriting the faith of ancestors, but ancestors are betrayed when that faith is a patrimony that is squandered by a spendthrift heir. In the Middle East there are Christians who can trace their religious identity back to the apostles, but theirs is not a mere cultural religion. A year after Christian towns of northern Iraq were liberated from the Islamic State, many families still live in refugee camps. Various organizations are providing assistance, but the challenge is to encourage resettlement, not by temporary financial relief, but by restoring and developing local economies to revive ghost towns. The pope’s creation of the Chaldean Patriarch, Louis Sako of Baghdad, as a Cardinal affirms hope of revitalization.    In those areas, the faithful have had to resist attempts to make them renounce the Gospel by force. In decadent Western cultures, such surrender has been voluntary. Much of Europe has long since abandoned Christ through indifference. More recently, the illusion of Ireland as a Catholic country was shattered by the overwhelming vote for abortion, following the vote in 2015 for redefining marriage.    Cultural Catholicism abandons the Holy Spirit for the Spirit of the Age, a seductive chimera that haunts once-holy halls. Saint Patrick could say once again: “I dwell amongst barbarians, a proselyte and an exile, for the love of God.” He preached Christianity as a vocation and not as an avocation: “That which I have set out in Latin is not my words but the words of God and of apostles and prophets, who of course have never lied. He who believes shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be damned. God has spoken.”    Here in New York, the virtual evaporation of candidates for the priesthood, while vocations have grown in many other parts of the country, is like the canary in a coal mine. Facts are shrewd mentors, teaching that cultural Catholicism is not enough. Yet consider some of the most significant and diverse figures in the history of the Church in New York: Elizabeth Ann Seton, Isaac Hecker, Orestes Brownson, Paul Wattson, Rose Hawthorne, Thomas Fortune Ryan, Joyce Kilmer, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Clare Boothe Luce, Avery Dulles, Bernard Nathanson. As converts, they were counter-cultural, and they did not degrade the Sacrifice of Christ by being Catholic in a cultural, but not a religious sense.

 

2018-06-03 - Corpus Christi

06/03/2018 - 2:21pm

3 June 2018

The Solemnity of the Most Holy

Body and Blood of Christ

Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 + Homily

15 Minutes 58 Seconds

(from the parish bulletin)

   At each Mass in our parish we recite the Prayer to Saint Michael, which was written by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 when the temporal sovereignty of the Holy See was under attack. While it used to be prayed universally after Low Masses, we continue it here since our patron is Saint Michael, and our neighborhood of “Hell’s Kitchen” historically has been in the crosshairs of Satan.    A friend of ours, Father Benedict Kiely, founded an organization (Nasarean.org) to help Christians in the Middle East where, as Pope Francis has said, the Church is being persecuted in ways more violent than at any time since the early centuries. As I write this, Fr. Kiely is in Mosul, Iraq, which has been almost totally destroyed, and where only a few Christian families remain after thousands have fled. To the discredit of much of the Western media, this has been downplayed, not unlike the refusal to report genocides and persecutions by Soviets and Nazis in times past.    The Aradin Charitable Trust, founded by Dr. Amal Marogy, in cooperation with the Nasarean organization, intends to have two shrines in the world dedicated to prayer for the persecuted Church. Our parish is fortunate to have the first such shrine, with an icon of Our Lady of Aradin that has been donated to us, in our important location in Manhattan. The icon depicts Mary in the traditional dress of an Iraqi bride. The border is written in Aramaic, the language of our Lord, which still is spoken in Qaraqosh, the home of the Iraqi Christian artist Mouthana Butres, who “wrote” the icon. Mr. Butres was driven from his home, along with all the Christians of Qaraqosh, by militant Muslims in August 2015, and he and his family now are refugees in Lebanon.    On the Feast of Corpus Christi, we give thanks that Our Lord is with us always, as he promised. In recent decades, there has been a neglect of the sacrificial character of the Mass. The Blessed Sacrament is a triumph of the Resurrection, which would not have occurred without the Crucifixion. Pascal said, “Jésus sera en agonie jusqu’à la fin du monde” — “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.” There are lands today that once were Christian, at least in ethos, but have abandoned the Cross Triumphant through sloth. There are other countries, as we have recently seen in Ireland, that have lost that triumph by violating and repudiating the Cross. While bourgeois populations dance in the streets for legalized abortion and the blessing of perverse imitations of marriage, there still are Christians taking up the cross in foreign lands, and in ways that decadents prefer to ignore. But their cries may yet redeem those who act as though they had never known the Lord.    Our icon will be blessed on Tuesday, June 12, at 6:30 PM in a brief service of dedication. All are welcome.