Monday, May 31, 2010

Given to my Brother Priests and Religious in Curely Hall

When you guys started teasing me about preaching to you last week I thought I better read the scriptures to begin thinking about what I might say.

And to my chagrin… it was this passage where Jesus tells disciples that even though they think understand, even though they think they get it

They will not remain faithful and that they will all abandon him.

Oh boy I said to myself, wonderful I’m going to tell some of the finest theologians around that knowing is not enough. Great…

But the more I thought about it and prayed about it there is indeed an important message here for all of us to hear in this passage.

Think about it even though they “got it” even though they thought they understood when Jesus was arrested the Apostles still lost heart and they abandoned him.

Why did they run and hide when they were just starting to understand.

The fact of the matter is simple. Their knowledge was simply not enough

They needed something more…
Something more was required for their fidelity

And that something was and is a life giving relationship,
a relationship rooted in and sustained by love.

In chapter 15 of the Gospel of John Jesus said  “Greater Love than this no one has than to lay down his life for his friends."

It would seem then that love and laying down your life go hand in hand.

Knowing someone or something is one of God’s most incredible gifts.
Often the knowledge we have of something or someone else is the first thing that attacks us them.

And with the gift of knowledge we can go  deeper and deeper into the mystery of the other.

But just knowing about someone is rarely enough for us to be willing to suffer for them
or die for them.
The disciples scattered because even though they began to know Jesus better
their love for him was not yet strong enough.

We all know that eventually everyone of them would get it and  everyone of them would willingly give their lives for Jesus whom they loved.

And so dear brothers… this gospel reading should call us all to examine our hearts
How strong is our love for Christ
How strong is our love for the Church
How passionate is our love?
And when we are able to truthfully answer questions like these then we will know
how much of our life are we willing to give away,
how much of our life we are willing to lay down for Christ, and his people, the Church.

Will we stay or will we run?
He loves us either way.

And I know in my life
running doesn’t necessarily mean leaving…
sadly running often means compromising.
Running often means getting and working to stay comfortable.

It is so easy to go about our business or busyness and allow our hearts to grow lukewarm or even cold.
It is so easy to forget the passion that brought us to this place.

Sadly sometimes it seems that for so many of our brothers
the incredible gift of our vocation to the priesthood or religious life is just burdensome.
They or we are tired, and lonely and fed up,
They or we have been disappointed  just one too many times,
or even worse…
sometimes they or we get the “father knows best syndrome”
where they or we think that only our view and our perspective seem to matter…
What a mess that turns out to be.

I have come to believe that the one best ways for a priest to avoid all of the above
is the company of priests.

And when I say priests for those of us who live in religious communities
I also include Brothers or friars or monks in that older traditon and even, the Jesuits.

Living in the company of fellow priests and religious is such an incredible gift.
Some might disagree and there are always exceptions…
but I really only feel comfortable being myself in the company of priests.

I only feel comfortable really comfortable sharing my feelings and doubts and weaknesses in the company of priests and religious.

I say things to you that I just would not feel right about saying to others.

A priest or religious can be most vulnerable with other priests.
There is no one like a fellow priest or religious to put you in your rightful place,
Or put things in perspective.
No one…

Recently I was all worked up about something… and someone in this room a fellow priest listened very patiently and when I had finished spewing out my… concerns or frustration and resentments
He simply looked at me and said…
Get over it.
(I could not have received better advice.)

The unpretentious subtle example of good priests and religious is such a wonderful thing

Yesterday when I was fishing for homily points at breakfast.. as I often do..
by the way some of you are a little stingy.

One of you said.. plagiarize St. Augustine from Office of Readings today…
I hadn’t said Office of Readings…  but I did later because he had reminded me to.

When we are in the company of our fellow  Priests and Religious in the “drink room” or at the table…

Its about being together.
It’s about sharing our day and the gossip of the University.
It’s about being together like any family.
We laugh…  we share each others concerns..
we feel free to ask questions or express our frustrations.

We tease each other… and we all know deep in our hearts
that we are in the company of good men
who share a call for which none of us are worthy.

I’m afraid that during my years, here especially my first years, I really didn’t commit enough to this community  and I didn’t commit enough to you. Please forgive me.

You know Jesus didn’t tell the Apostles they would all scatter to make them feel bad.

He wasn’t saying you bunch of losers you are all going to abandon me.
And in fact at the moment they didn’t seem to believe him.

They all thought that they would be faithful and that he was talking to someone else.

He foretold their lack of fidelity because when it happened when fear took over
when they ran and hid…
they would remember that what Jesus had foretold and that he still loved him.

Brothers those words were not meant only for the Apostles
they were also meant for us and they are meant for the whole Church

No matter how far we fall
no matter how much we mess up

Or how… discouraged we become…

Jesus loves us
He loves us so much he called us to this wonderful  life
Despite our messiness.
And just like he conquered the world
He can also conquer our sins and our weakness
And the sins and weaknesses of our brothers
And the sins and weaknesses of the whole Church

Let us always be filled with great hope…

Thank you for 12 wonderful years.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trinity Sunday – Year C 2010

When Fr. Luigi walked into the class he carried with him his “dispensa” or large book  of mimeographed graphed notes in Italian.

It was 1 1/2” think and we knew that we all would becoming intimate friends with it’s pages. 

There was a collective sigh when he started handing them out. 
The sigh was heartfelt but almost inaudible because you didn’t mess with Fr. Luigi.

The notes contained many chapters.
There were chapters on the historical development of the dogma Trinity,
and the scriptural basis for the belief in the Trinity.

There was a chapter on what the Church Fathers had said about the Trinity,
and  also a long chapter on the theological controversies which were rooted in our understanding of the Trinity. 

We dutifully memorized and quizzed each other over and over again,
On the exam I gave Fr. Luigi back everything he gave me so much so  that I got an A on the Trinity.

It sounds weird even to say it ,
“I got an A on the Trinity.”

At the end of the class the notes were put back on the shelf hopefully never to be opened again.

After all I reasoned the Trinity was and is a mystery and we can never really go much deeper than memorizing the formula.

Remember the vision of St. Augustine and the little boy.

St. Augustine was walking along the shore meditating on the mystery of the Trinity when he caught sight of a little boy  who had dug a hole and was running to the sea filling up a shell and dumping it in the hole.

When Augustine asked him what he was doing he said, “I am going to put the sea into that hole.”

Augustine responded, “you will never  be able to put the sea into that hole.”

The little boy responded, “you will never be able to figure out the  mystery of Trinity” and disappeared.

It just goes to show you that even brilliant saints need humility.

Then one day  a little Nun named 
Sr. Bianchini brought up the Trinity.

Her theology came not from a big dispensa or book of formula rather it sprang from the hours she spent in prayer.

She said to me.
”We were created by God who is a communion of love.”

The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit love each other in the most intense and passionate communion of love which ever has existed and ever will exist.

She went on to explain that
our desire to love and be loved is so strong because  God who created us is Himself a communion of love which we call  the Trinity.

It made so much sense to me.
Our fear of loneliness,
our desire to share our lives with others,
our ability to love,
our ability to do heroic things,
all of these come from a tiny  memory in our heart of the communion which exists in the Trinity.

We spend our whole life and all of our energy trying to get back to that communion and live in the presence of God.

As St. Augustine said.
“Our souls can’t rest until they rest in You”

So once we understand that because we were created by God who revealed Himself as a community of never ending love we can understand that we too were created to love,

Our desire to love in a small way is a mirror of God’s passionate love in the Trinity.
Our love can be generative because God’s is.
Our love  heals because God’s does.
Our love is faithful because God’s is.

Think about it,
this deep seated desire to love motivates almost all of what we think, say or do.

Why else would a father or mother get up and go to a job they hate for years and even decades if it wasn’t motivated by love of their families?

Why would a husband and wife struggle through all the seasons of marriage if they were not motivated by love?

And why else would parents refuse to give up on their kids even when they seem distant and cold?

And why else would anyone lay down their life for for a complete stranger like st. Maximillian Kolbe did … in the horror of Aushwitz?

What is a person really looking for when they casually hook up or go on the internet for things they would never watch with their mother?

Even these sins are often vain attempts to be loved to be freed from loneliness, to be whole.

GK Chesterson said “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God

Yes on this day on which the Church calls us to meditate on the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity
we have also gain insight into ourselves,
what motivates us and  
how we were created to live and love.

Holy ones,
our faith properly understood is not a dry collection of formula and ritual in a dusty book on a shelf,
it is a passionate search for unity and communion with our God,
our God, who lives in the incredible communion of the Trinity
and longs for us to love Him,
Father Son and Holy Spirit.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pentecost Year C - 2010

I’ve lived here for twelve years,
in the beautiful shadow of the Shrine,
½ a mile from the Franciscan Monastery,
and about 7 miles from my secret place on the Potomac.
I have prayed in all of these places,
and to be honest I have even cried in all of these places.
And from time to time I have felt God’s presence,
God‘s real presence, in all of these places.

It’s a wonderful thing to feel God’s presence
But my most special memories and my most special place is in simple old, hot in the summer / cold in the winter Caldwell Chapel.

That’s where I go when I need to experience the presence of God in my life.
That’s where I seem to be able to let Him in to my heart and mind.
That’s where I seem to be able to listen to His voice.
I always kneel in the same place before the Blessed Sacrament and I look at the widow over the altar.
I call it the Mary window but in reality it is depicts Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles.
Sadly, There are only eleven Apostles there because one gave up one and lost heart. Please never lose heart.

Two things happened at Pentecost.
At Pentecost we became the Church
and as the Church we were given the tremendous task of proclaiming the Kingdom and bringing the world to Christ.

After the Ascension Jesus no longer walked the face of the earth.
The walk,
the mission,
the proclamation of the Kingdom,
now belong to us.
They belong to us individually and
they belong to us as the Church, 
a bunch of sinners and saints

The second thing that happened was that we were promised and received the Advocate, the very Spirit of God.
After Pentecost we know that we are never alone.
We know that the Spirit of God is with us to guide us,
encourage us, 
and empower us in our awesome task of bringing the world home to God,
If we remain attentive to Him and His presence we can’t go wrong.

So often I hear…Father “I feel alone,
I don’t see or feel the presence of God in my life.”
Sometimes I feel that way myself.
Holy Ones the presence of God is not like a water spigot,
One can’t just turn Him on when life gets tough
and turn Him off when things are going well.
We do that with so many things and so many people in our lives.
We can’t do that with God.
If we want to feel the presence of God in our lives we need to train ourselves to seek him out and listen to Him.

The Spirit is always present but we need to learn how to shut off all the noise and distraction and vices which keep us from hearing him.

We need to kneel in the presence of God
be it in the chapel,
or next to our bed, before we go to sleep.
Kneeling reminds us who we are and who God is.
No holy ones we are never alone we can’t be alone.

If we open our hearts to God’s Spirit,
we will have the wisdom to see his presence in our lives.
We will understand what it means or takes to follow Christ.
We will have the benefit of good counsel to know what is right and what it wrong.
We will have the fortitude or courage to stand up for what we believe in and not give up on God, on others or on ourselves.
We will have the knowledge to know which road leads us home.
The Holy Spirit can always help us pick the right road.

If we open our hearts to the Him.  
We will have piety or the ability to reverence God and reverence each and every person created in the image and likeness of God.
If we open our hearts to the Spirit  we will have a just and holy Fear of the Lord, not in the sense of being afraid,
but rather we will have a feeling of wonder and awe at the mighty works of God’s hand.

What a different world it would be if we always remembered with awe and wonder that everything we have comes from God.
What a different world it would be if we always remembered that every human being deserves our reverence and respect.
What a different world it would be if we allowed the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our lives.

One more word on the Gospel
Jesus makes a special point in the Gospel of John to remind us that along with coming of the Spirit comes the gift of forgiveness.
The Holy Spirit empowers us  to be able to forgive and be forgiven.
John 20:21
”Receive the Holy Spirit  whose sins you forgive are forgiven them whose sins you hold bound are held bound.”

With those words spoken to the Apostles,
Jesus gives this awesome responsibility and privilege to the Church,
a church which has always had need of forgiveness itself.
It is one of the most important and fundamental things we are called to do.
Forgiveness is essential for a follower of Christ.
We have to seek forgiveness,
accept forgiveness
and forgive.

By giving the Apostles and their descendants the power to forgive sins,
He allows us to experience the joy of Forgiveness
He challenges us all to forgive each other.

We’ve all been hurt and
The people who have hurt us have been hurt
and they people who hurt them have been hurt.

Only the spirit of God can give us the power to break the cycle and forgive.
May we kneel often in the presence of God.
May we all try to find that special place where we are able to let God in.
May we open our hearts and minds to accept the gifts the spirit of God so longs to give us.
May we individually and as a church be heralds of forgiveness and mercy.

Come Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit
Help us open our hearts to you.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Commencement Prayer 2010


Lord as we finish the 121th commencement of the Catholic University of America
we are filled with gratitude and expectation.
For once again You send forth from this holy place
another class of fine young women and men
who are ready to take their place in our world.

Some are excited.
Some have been ready to go for a while.
Some may even be a little nervous but all of them are ready.

They will care for the sick.
They will teach, preach and inspire.
They will build beautiful structures.
And delve into the wonders of your creation.
They will listen and give wise counsel.
They will open up for us whole wide range of emotions with their talents on the stage and screen.
With their music and the gift of their art they will draw us into the mystery of your beauty .

We are sad to see them go, but filled with anticipation We can’t wait to see
the good that they will do with the many gifts that you have given them.

Thank you for our graduates Lord
Thank you for those who have brought them to this beautiful moment.
Bless their parents and grandparents
Their siblings, spouses,
Their friends, teammates, classmates professors
Bless everyone who has inspired them on their journey.

And thank you for The Catholic University of America
May it never waver in its commitment to truth
and its commitment to you.
We ask all of these things    
Through Christ our Lord   Amen

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A few words to the Class of 2010

As I've been packing for my next assignment I found the sheets of paper that I used to preach to you from this pulpit four years ago. Don't worry I'm not going to read them again.
Can you remember that day? Can you remember what you were thinking and how you felt? You were ready and not ready, excited and afraid. Some of you, probably most of you, couldn't wait for your families to leave, some of you wanted to jump back in the car. Some parents cried a river as they drove away. I often felt like handing out boxes of Kleenex on Monroe St. and 7th as families drove away. Some parents didn't cry at all, go figure. That Friday afternoon 4 years ago was the last time we were all here together in this Church with your families. Now we are back. It seems so long ago and yet it seems like yesterday.

At first glance your circumstances might appear very similar. You were taking the next step and in your life as you are now and some were wondering if they were up to the challenge, just like some of you are wondering now. In reality you are at a much different place. You have grown up. (well most of you have grown up) You have established good friendships. Many of you are stronger in your faith. The challenges of college life have made you more confident and helped you stand on your own two feet. You know how to get the job done if you didn't you wouldn't be here. Some of you still slip in under the wire but you got the job done you are here none the less.

You have increased the incredibly beautiful pallet of your skill set. There are so many more things you can do. You have so many more gifts to share. As we sit in this Basilica today you are no longer surrounded by your family (who will always be your greatest supporters)
Now you are seated with your friends and your future colleagues. And while you must never fool yourself into thinking that you have stopped learning, now the majority of your time will be spent sharing the gifts you have developed here at CUA. Please share them generously. Use what you have learned for the good of others. That's what God would have you do.
Just like four years ago some of you are nervous. What happens if I don't get the right job? What happens if I don't know what to do? What happens… What happens What happens if. Enough already! You have avoided the icebergs of disaster. You know how to avoid disaster. 
If you didn't you wouldn't have gotten to this place. If you see an iceberg in your future, steer around it or land on it and make something good of it.
You are ready to create You are ready to start giving your gift. You are ready to paint your life on your canvas. Don't freeze don't be afraid start painting and if the picture is not coming out right paint over it. That one of the most incredible gifts of our faith, you can always start over always right up until your very last breath. Go out and color the world with your skills and your dreams, paint it with your vibrant personalities, paint the world with your generous hearts. This noble task is now yours to do. You are ready.
In the first reading the Church was faced with a dilemma. They are faced with the tragedy of Judas's betrayal and despair. Jesus would have forgiven Judas, he forgave Peter, but Judas gave up on love. Judas was their friend and his despair and suicide must have been so difficult for them to carry.
Jesus didn't leave them specific instructions for every possible situation yet they knew they had to fill Judas' spot and so their very first inclination was to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They prayed. They prayed together They placed their need before God and waited for him to answer.

Faced with a challenge the first thing they did was to try to open themselves to the Spirit of God and God's will. They asked themselves what does God want? Who does God want to take Judas' place?
As you face the challenges of life the first counsel I would offer you is to follow their example. If your job is challenge, and your marriage is difficult if your kid is driving you crazy, (for some of you what goes around comes around) or if the world seems so unfair, don't knee jerk a response.
Sometimes it's best to say nothing we say and do such sad things when we are upset or hurt. Before you speak, Pray open your heart to discern God's will in your lives. That's what the Apostles did as they chose Matthias And that what all of us need to do. Every single day of our lives we have to continually discern what does God want? What does God want? God Loves us and I guarantee you that if you seek his will and follow it your life will be so much the better for you and for everyone around you.
The Second… piece of advice I would share is found in the Gospel. In this passage from St. John Jesus is saying good bye to his disciples. It is a very touching scene. Whenever it is time to say good bye there is a rush of emotion sometimes its really overwhelming.

Jesus and the Apostles have been through so much together and he loves them. He doesn't give them a lot of rules He simply gives them something to do… Love one another as I have loved you. Love one another as I have loved you. If throughout our lives our actions are rooted in our love for God and our love for our neighbor..If everything we do is rooted in love,if we continually try to put others first no matter how crazy things get love will always shows us the way. Love will teach us how to act. The path of love is rarely the easiest, ask your parents. I promise you however it is the best possible way to live your life. If you act out of love, if you live lovingly, how can you go wrong? Love one another as I have loved you. Those were Jesus' words to his Apostles and they are Jesus' words to you.

Permit me a couple of words to some special people here. A word to your parents. Do you remember our conversation 4 years ago ? There were lots of tears that night in the great room. I am always so inspired by your vocation as a parent. You must have gotten it right. They are here and so are you. What a beautiful day this is for you. God gave these beautiful people to you
and together you have walked to this incredible point in their lives. Thank you for all the love and support you've shared with your Sons and Daughters.
I want to thank Fr. O'Connell for this last chance to speak to you. It is a privilege for which I am most grateful. Father O. and I have been though a lot together. When things got difficult or when we didn't know what to do we've tried to carry each other… I'm a little heavier than he. 
Thank you Father.
Class of 2010 The other day I took out my cell phone to call a woman who graduated last year. When the voice at the other end answered, you know how I am Without listening the first words out of my mouth were "Caitlin how are you?" The person responded "this isn't Caitlin this is Mary." 
I apologized and was about to hang up when the woman on the phone yelled "You have the right number." Confused I continued to listen.The young woman explained Caitlin graduated last year so on the day after graduation Dad took her off the family plan and I got her phone.
I know that I am coming off the University Plan soon but I hope to keep the same number. I wouldn't inflict my number on the new chaplain. He'd go crazy. The line is always open for you. I'd love to hear about your new adventures and successes. If things aren't going well it will be a privilege for me to listen. Whether it's good news or bad we can always pray together.
So Holy ones, and wannabe holy ones, and those who don't want to be holy at all at least for now, on this incredible day of achievement and blessing write these two questions on your heart. I promise you they will serve you well.

What is God's will for me?
How does God want me to act?
If you let these two questions guide you on your journey home to God I promise you that you will be able to face any challenge that life throws your way and you will be able to face life's challenges with an abundance of hope and an abundance of joy
God Bless and keep you All

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Real Presence

When a soldier goes to war invariably he/she carries with her a picture,
a picture of a loved one a picture which in some small way makes him/her feel the presence of that special person whenever they look at it.

When Daddy has to work all the time many times Mommy show their children his picture.

“Here’s daddy” they say to remind the kids that he loves them, and cares for them, and misses them.
Sadly a picture is not enough it is never enough.

What the soldier needs on the battle field is a kiss or an embrace.
What the little girl needs is to dance on Daddy’s feet or to lay on his chest and feel his heart.
What the little boy needs is to throw play ball with his Dad or be tackled by him.

No a picture, a memory, is never enough.
It never satisfies.
It never fills the wound or hole which exists in our heart when we are alone,
absent from the ones we love.

Human beings need presence.
We need to be in the presence of the one we love.

You see holy one’s at the risk of being a little racy
God understands the human heart and God understand the human body.
He created them and He Himself became incarnate.

The Word was made flesh and dwells among us.

And when you think about it and pray about it.
Our bodies are they way that God has given us to be in communion with each other and His Body is the way we can live in communion with Him.

Our bodies are how we relate.
Our bodies are the window to the soul of the other
an embrace,
a touch,
a smell,
even a taste,
bring us into communion with each other.

It is only through our bodies that we can appropriately become
one with the other.

The way we express our communion depends on the nature of our relationship.

What a gift it is to be in communion with someone else,
what an incredible gift.

And just like we need our bodies and the bodies of others to be in communion with each other…

Jesus understood that we could only be truly in communion with Him if we shared His Body, His Blood , His Soul, and Divinity.

That is why we come here to be in the presence of God…

In the synoptic Gospels we hear the narrative of the Last Supper, in which Jesus plainly says,

He doesn’t say this could be my body.
He doesn’t say this could be by blood.
He doesn’t’ say remember me when you do this…
No, He says “THIS IS MY BODY.”

And sadly for some strange reason,
those who read the scriptures literally in every other aspect….
those who believe that
there were really seven 24 days during creation,
and Moses was really 120 years old, etc.
refuse to take Jesus literally when He says, “this is My Body.”

Granted in the scriptures Jesus also says He is the vine and we are the branches.
I am the sheep fold… etc. and in these cases he is speaking figuratively

To find more evidence that Jesus was not speaking figuratively and meant what he said…we have to God to the 6th Chapter of John’s Gospel and the Bread of life discourse.

To set the stage at this point a huge crowd is following Jesus because he has just multiplied the loaves and the fishes and gave them all the food they could eat.

Many kind of viewed him and a super Wal-Mart or a unlimited source of bread and wine.

To this crowd Jesus boldly proclaims, 
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood you have no live within you.”

Many taking Jesus literally as he intended and turn away.
They say to themselves… “this is too weird for me.”

How can this man give us his flesh and blood to eat?

They leave because they refuse to comprehend or accept this incredible teaching of Jesus.

They refuse to accept Him at His Word and they make the mistake of their live time and walk away.

Knowing that they are leaving because they are taking him literally JESUS does not call them back and say wait you misunderstood…
I’m talking figuratively. I don’t really mean it.

No He lets them go their way in the hope that someday they would understand and return.

Then He simply turns to the Apostles and says.
“Are you going to leave me too?”

To which Peter, the impulsive  one, responds.
“Lord to whom shall we go?
You have the words of everlasting life.”

No a picture is not enough
And a memory is not enough

God understands that just like we need the real presence of those whom we love to live in communion with them….

We need His real presence, His body and His blood to live in communion with Him

Why is this so hard to understand?
Why is this so hard to believe to accept?

If God can make the whole universe with all its wonder and beauty..
Why can’t we accept that God can take some bread and some wine ordinary things and turn them into his body and his blood so that we might live in communion with Him?

Holy ones… our world, our culture, our nation, our neighborhoods and sadly even our families  are becoming more and more isolated and isolating.

Even with the advances in mass media it becomes harder and harder to simply live in communion with another person.

Don’t be afraid

It is possible to live in communion with God,
and God longs to be in communion with us as much or more than we could ever desire to live in communion with Him.

“Eat his flesh and drink his blood”
Live in communion with the very Word of God made flesh.

You can never be alone…
He is here
He is present

Not simply in a memory or a written text or a picture
He is here His body and His blood, His Soul and divinity.

He longs for you to live in His presence of and be nourished by His body and blood.

Year after year this chapel has been filled with people longing to sit in the very presence  of God.

To sit with him
To listen to him
To sing to him
To pray to him.

It is my hope and my prayer that in your lives you will always find great solace both at the celebration of the Eucharist or at the feet of our Lord at  Eucharistic Adoration.

It is my hope and my prayer that the real presence will be a great source of hope and courage and comfort for you as you journey home to Him

His Body and
His Blood are the best possible way to live in communion with Him who loves us and created us.

I will miss this sacred place.
I will miss kneeling in that back corner and turning off the lights.
I will miss watching some of you lost in prayer.

But every time I kneel in the presence of Jesus Christ our Lord,
Our savior,
Our brother.
And our God.
I will also be kneeling in communion with you.

Seek his presence always.
No a picture or a memory is not enough.

Trust surrender believe receive.


(Given at my last Praise and Worship Adoration in Caldwell Chapel)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Good Bye CUA and THANK YOU

It’s hard for me to believe that this is my last big 11:00 AM Mass or 9:00 PM Mass here at St. Vincent’s next week most of you will be gone and it will never be this crowded until the class of 2014 comes to CUA at the end of August and the new Chaplain is here.

I have always approached Mass in St. Vinnie’s with fear and reverence.

To this day get goose bumps when we sing the Gloria here or the great AMEN.

It has been such a privilege and a blessing for me to pray with you here in this holy place.

The first thing I want to say is that I am sorry if I ever hurt any of you.

I have always been burdened with a short memory.
It is a terrible thing for a priest to forget someone’s name.

If I ever ignored you or forgot you,
or was not attentive to your needs, I am sorry.

If I ever lost my temper or was frustrated with youI apologize please forgive me.

One of the jokes on campus is that I remember people’s names then I forgot them, I remembered them again then and then I forget them.

You’re right I do.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Next to my chair in my room there was a big white binder with all your pictures.

Before I would go to a building I would look at the pictures of the kids who lived there try and remember their names.
One year I even made flash cards.

When I would come back
I would write little notes next to your picture like

Pray for her mom.
he’s having trouble studying.
She’s not happy
EAN.. extra attention needed ..
Possible Freshman Retreat Team
Funny Kid… or
unmade bed.
Heard he pee’d in the spellavator… talk to him.

Sometimes in the morning when I pray I would pick up the binder look at your pictures and pray for your intentions.

That’s why I would remember and forget and remember and forget.

I know some of you are happy I forgot who you were or what you did.

The binder is never gonna get updated again so if you lived in Spellman this year you are going to live in it forever…

I have loved my time here at Catholic so very much. Yes, you are a very bizarre parish,
a very bizarre beautiful parish,
a very bizarre wonderful parish.

People between the ages of 18-21
Go through so much
You come to CUA adolescents and you leave young adults.
So much comes together for you.

College is kind of like the microwave of life…
I have always loved your passion.
I have always loved to watch you interact with each other.
You have made me laugh until it hurts (what’s this pain) and I have shed a few tears with some of you.

What a privilege, what a privilege, what a privilege it has been for me to share your life.

I am going to miss you and Catholic so much.
The Lord has placed four simple words
on my heart of late some of you know them.
I have been saying them over and over again
whenever I get afraid.
or whenever I realize that I am really leaving you.

Trust, Surrender, Believe, Receive.
Trust, Surrender, Believe, Receive.

For those of you who don’t know I’ve been told that I am going to go to be presented as pastor of a parish. ( I can’t tell you where because I want to be respectful of the Bishop who must approve me)

A parish where I know I will be in awe of the innocence of the little ones in.
(I can’t wait to have lunch with the Kindergartners)
A parish where I will do my best to form some kind of life giving youth ministry that can touch the hearts of the kids in High School.

I am going to a parish where
I will have the privilege of helping to prepare couples for marriage,

I am going to a parish where I will be able to work with actual middle aged people like me… and we can talk about cholesterol together.

Finally what a privilege it will be for me to anoint and hold the hand of a person going home to God. I will be able to console them with the sacrament, comfort them and pray them.

All of these things inspire me.

They are part and parcel of the life of every priest.
I hope I am up to the task.

I know that from the very first moment of my existence I was created to be a priest.
Even with all the scandals and problems our church faces

I wouldn’t trade my life for an instant not one Instant.
I want you all to know that
I know I am not worthy of this call.

I’ve been praying a lot about what I should say to you.

And I have narrowed them down to three simple thoughts…

The First is this.

I assure you.
You will be
a better wife
a better husband
a better father
a better mother
you will be a a better boss
a better employee
a better person
if you allow God into your lives.
Not only that,
but your life will be more peace filled.
and more joyful…. if you allow God into your lives.
With God in your life you can be filled with Joy… a joy that no one can take.
And don’t be afraid when you mess up
we all do….. go to confession and ask God for forgiveness.

I have never had any problem figuring out what to say to my confessors at the Monastery every week… I always have more than enough to say.

Nothing can compare to a life of faith
that is lived and true.… Let God into your life.

The second is this
I challenge you to have a passion for souls
Not just your own soul but everyone’s soul
Have a big enough heart
Have a strong enough heart
Have a brave enough heart
Have a generous enough heart
To Love people to God
that’s what I mean when I say have a passion for souls.

You know Souls come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
there are cantankerous souls
And loving souls
There are souls that always live in fear or shame
There are souls which are addicted
There are poor souls and wretched souls
There are holy souls and gentle souls
And in every soul there is the image and likeness of God

Sometimes you gotta remind yourself that the image and likeness of God is in there someplace. But don’t give up..

Love them to faithLove them to faith In quiet and gentle and humble ways call them to more
and be patient with them when they fall or miss the mark.

We have been given so much here at Catholic
It has to be shared.
Please have a wonderful beautiful passion for souls.

The Third thought is this.

I have become convinced that most important thing a person can do in life is to give their heart away.

That’s the greatest commandment that Jesus spoke about in the Gospel.

I know I know
It’s very scary to hold your heart in your hand and say here…
here’s my heart

I know it is terrifying to say I love you. The dreaded “l” word.

That’s what a parent must give their life to their child.

Couples give their life to each other as they walk through the seasons of life

That’s what dedicated single people do when they give away their lives in loving service.

That’s what priests and religious do when
we try and spread their heart all over a parish,
or a hospital
or all over a campus.

Think of a peanut butter sandwich… you gotta try cover the whole piece of bread.

I know we are all tempted to hold on to our lives and our hearts

I’ve been tempted to stay here and hold to you and all that is beautiful and comfortable for me.
We are all tempted to protect ourselves and our interests

Don’t hold on… let go… that’s what Jesus did
all you have to do is look at the cross to know that… follow Him.

So there are my three thoughts for you…. Repeat after me

Let God into your lives
Have a passion for souls
Give your heart and give your life away

This has been no theological treatise to be sure… but it’s all I’ve got.

Finally I need to ask you one last favor
And that is to pray for the priests and religious
We need your prayers
We count on your prayers
The assumption that all Priests or religious or bishops have our act together is long gone.
That’s probably good.

Now everyone knows we need prayers.

One of you told me yesterday…
Every saint has a past every sinner has a future.
I had never heard that before…

I’ll have to google it and find out who said it.

Please pray for us and please pray for me…
put me in your white binder…

Pray That I may be open to my future in God’s plan
Pray that I can figure out how to spread my heart over a whole parish

I have to admit I’m afraid I won’t know how to do it.
Illustrious Alumni here present

You are some of my dearest friends thank you so much for coming.
Some of you came from so far away…
Thank you…. thank you so much
We had great times together..

I know you are doing great things with your life I love it when I see you with your children and I am so proud of you.

Dear faculty and staff we all know CUA is a great place
sometimes we just take the challenges we face every day too seriously….
Please, never forget to see the wonderful place we have been privileged to help create here…
look at these Gumbas that God has give us…. they are beautiful.

The privilege of preparing the next generation is awesome indeed.

It has been an honor working with so many very dedicated people

I am proud of you and grateful for the chance to serve with you on such a noble cause and I ask your forgiveness for the times I hurt you or disappointed you.

Lastly Holy Ones… wanna be holy ones… and even those who don’t want to be holy for now.

When you sing on the stage in the Harke or outside my window at 3 in the morning.

When you play on our fields… compete on our courts or swim in our pool

When you actually go to class and do your work, go figure…

When you make me laugh or when we share a tear

When you create life giving and holy friendships and relationships

I am proud of you I am proud of you I am proud of you

I thank God because I am so privileged to have spent this time with you

Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you

I’ve not exactly sure why I am leaving CUA.

But I trust my religious superiors.

And I surrender my life to God or at least I want to surrender my life to God.

And I believe that he loves me as messed up as I can be

And I know that I will receive the graces I need wherever I go.

Trust surrender believes receive