Fortnight for Freedom Opening Mass Homily

“Tonight we celebrate the opening Mass of the 2016 Fortnight for Freedom, returning to this, the first Cathedral in the United States, a Cathedral that was under construction even as “a new nation conceived in liberty” began to take shape. But we are not here tonight to argue a point of constitutional law nor are we here to re-argue what has already been persuasively argued in our courts. No, we are here to honor the martyrs, to celebrate the freedom to bear witness, beginning with Jesus Christ, “the faithful witness” of the Father’s love (Cf. Rev. 1:5), for Christ and his sacrificial love are the very heart of the Eucharist we celebrate.

“The Lord Jesus bore witness to his Father’s love in many ways. As the Word Incarnate, he proclaimed the Good News. As the Divine Physician, he healed the sick and raised the dead. And at length, when the hour of his own death had come, he was brought before Pilate who asked him, “Are you a king?” (John 18:37) Jesus stood in that tribunal, which represented the authority of Caesar, not a rabble-rouser seeking confrontation with the state but rather as the very personification of the Beatitudes (Mt. 5:1-12a) he once proclaimed on the mountainside. He came before Pilate in the sovereign freedom of the Father’s love: poor in spirit with few possessions and no visible means of defense; full of sorrow and anguish for our sins; meek and mild, the Lamb of God, seeking only the Father’s will; a man of singlehearted love who came to bring us the peace of God’s kingdom, and who was now being persecuted for the sake of righteousness. This is the Christ who stood before Pilate: at once meek and invincible. No decision Pilate could render would deter him from his mission. Caesar could not touch the things of God. (Cf. Mark 12:17)”

Read the complete homily HERE.

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Feast of St. Josemaria Escriva Homily, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“I am delighted to welcome all of you to this venerable Cathedral as we celebrate (in anticipation of) the Feast Day of St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder and patron of Opus Dei. So many of you have come from near and far to celebrate this feast and to attest by your presence and your devotion the enduing influence of this great saint upon your daily lives. I join you in giving glory to God for the gift of this holy priest and in begging for the grace to reflect his teaching in my own life and ministry.

“As together we celebrate this joyous feast, let us turn to the Scripture readings just proclaimed to discover yet again why St. Josemaria continues to exert such an important and blessed influence upon our lives and upon the lives of many people throughout the world.”

Read the complete homily HERE.

Orlando: A Christian Response

Sunday, June 12 was in its first hours when tragedy struck our Nation. Most of us didn’t know it at the time but we awoke to the news that 20 people were shot dead, murdered at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida just hours earlier. Soon, our deep sadness and shock gave way to horror when the number of dead more than doubled. With the news that 50 innocent people had been killed and another 53 injured, our country was forced to acknowledge that it had endured the worst mass murder in its history and the largest loss of life on domestic soil since September 11, 2001.

Whether the assailant hated gay people, hated Americans, or was driven by some other motivation, is unclear at the time of this writing. What is clear is his disregard for human life and the evident evil behind his decision to commit such an unthinkable crime.

By mid-day, Pope Francis would join his voice to the many expressing outrage and sympathy in the wake of the shooting. The Holy Father’s spokesman shared with the world the Pope’s grief and dismay: “The terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando, with its dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred. Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion…We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity.”

To effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence, as the Pope wisely counsels, must indeed be our task–the task of all Americans of good will. The first part appears to not be too difficult. In Charleston, South Carolina, the apparent cause was a hatred of black people. The tragedy that befell the Boston Marathon was caused, at least in part, by religious intolerance. And in Orlando, it appears the shooter targeted homosexuals; his father spoke of his son’s anger towards gay people and the assailant drove 90 miles from his home to where approximately 350 people spent the final hours of their lives before they were forever changed. The cause? One clear cause—and I suspect there are others—is hatred.

Now comes the harder part—contrasting the hatred that fueled these acts with a commitment to love and understanding.

The United States is a pluralistic society, comprised of people of many faiths, many cultures, many beliefs, and many lifestyles. Those of us whose beliefs and actions are informed by religious faith must follow the example of Jesus by exercising Christian charity and an open heart when presented an opportunity to share Christ’s teachings with others. There can be no justification for resorting to violent means to further perceived righteous ends, no matter the issue. This is what separates civilized societies from terrorists, or at least it should.

As we continue to pray for the victims of the nightclub shooting in Orlando and for their families and loved ones, let us also reflect on our response to such a tragedy. Let us look deep within our own hearts to contrast such hate-inspired atrocities with the understanding and love bestowed on us by our loving God. Let us reflect on our own words and actions when responding to the words and actions of others. And let us pray for an end to the violence that has once again shaken our Nation to its foundation.

St. Barnabas Memorial Homily, Knights of Columbus State Deputies Meeting

“Today the Church remembers the Apostle Barnabas. Though not one of the original Twelve Apostles, Barnabas, as we shall later see, came to be called an Apostle. Happily, today’s Scripture reading from the Acts of the Apostles paints a portrait of Barnabas whose name means “son of consolation”. All of us can be consoled as we reflect on this depiction of Barnabas – and his work of spreading the Gospel in the earliest days of the Church – because his life and example applies to us as leaders in the Order in four ways. Let’s see how this is so.

First, St. Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, tells us that Barnabas was “a good man filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.” As today’s reading opens, Barnabas is living in Jerusalem in the days following the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We see how the Gospel quickly went beyond Jerusalem and spread to Antioch where many people were being won over to the Lord. The Apostles decided to send Barnabas to have a firsthand look at what was happening in Antioch, a Greek and Roman city in modern-day Turkey.”

Read the complete homily HERE.

10th Sunday C Homily

“Today’s Scripture readings relate two instances in which a son was restored to life and returned to his mother:

The prophet Elijah pleaded with God for the child of a woman who had accused the prophet of having come to remind her of her sins, sins which she wrongly assumed were the cause of her son’s death. Elijah pleaded with God not only to restore her son to life but also to restore the woman’s faith. God listened to his plea and Elijah was able to return the child to his mother alive. For her part, the woman glorified God and put her faith in the prophet’s words as he spoke in behalf of the God of power and glory.

In the Gospel, Jesus’s mercy and compassion are revealed. Entering the city of Nain, accompanied by a large crowd, Jesus came upon a grieving widow who had lost her only son. She did not ask him for a miracle but Jesus showed her great compassion. In his own power as the Son of God he raised the young man from the dead, just as he would raise the daughter of Jairus from the dead and cause Lazarus to come forth from the tomb. Thus Jesus is revealed as the very incarnation of God’s mercy, as truly the Lord of life and of love.”

Read the full homily HERE.