Joined: 06 May 2005
Location: Greenville, Texas
|Posted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:20 pm Post subject: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2008
|29th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2008
Father Paul Weinberger
Saint William the Confessor Catholic Church
October 19, 2008
Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
On Christmas Day in 1776 in a blinding snowstorm, General Washington led his men out of Valley Forge across the Delaware River and into New Jersey. The men were very tired and even though the conditions were terribly cold, his army was melting away. You see, the Continental Congress allowed only enlistments for one year at a time; they feared having an army, which was too powerful. They figured they might seize control of the 13 Colonies and there would go independence. In just a few days, on January 1st, many of the men would walk away from General Washington and plans for independence would melt away.
Nothing was melting that night. General Washington had led a column 2,400 men. There were two others who were commanding divisions; one was General Cadwalader. He and another were to cross at different places and meet on the other side. Washington was the only one, who made the crossing that night in the blinding snow. His men lacked many of the basic necessities a solder needed. Some had no shoes so they tied rags around their feet. You could imagine what a great job that would do. Their blood stained the white snow
The men went on and crossed the river with their horses and cannon and the day after Christmas surprised the Hessians at Trenton. The ones that were not killed were taken prisoner. Washington made it all the way back to Valley Forge without losing a man in battle, although four were injured and two died on the way. They sat down, fell asleep, and froze to death. I don’t know if that has ever happened in here, but don’t try it. [Laughter]. Things looked terribly bleak that Christmas evening and it looked like a shot in the dark, yet all of his men returned with their cannon and the cannon of the enemy.
A few days went by and many of the men went home to their families and some stayed. Exactly what General Washington thought would happen, happened. Many were encouraged and signed up, enlisted in the army for the cause of American freedom.
The beautiful statue that you see over there surrounded by flowers is
Our Lady of Victory, also known as Our Lady of the Rosary. Pope St. Pius V is the one, who declared October 7th to be the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Pope Pius V was a Dominican so he always carried a big Rosary on his belt. I left mine inside but this is the one I carry with me in my pocket. There was a problem and things were looking very bleak in 1570 and 71. The Muslims had taken over the Holy Land and everywhere they tried they were successful. They even went to that Catholic fortress of Constantine, that city of Constantinople and they took the city and the beautiful Basilica of Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia, and turned it into a mosque. It was a mosque until 1935 but is now a museum. Pope Benedict visited the museum two years ago in November, in what is today, Istanbul.
The Muslims were successful; no one could stop them. In fact Ali Pasha, who was in charge of the Muslim fleet said that what they had done in Constantinople they would do in Rome to St. Peter’s and all across Europe. They would attempt to turn the churches into mosques. It appeared that they were doing exactly that.
Pope St. Pius X was having a very difficult time. The 1570s were after the Protestant revolt, so Europe was no longer united in faith as it had been for centuries. The pope had to struggle to get leaders in Europe to work together and go after the Muslims and engage them before they got to Europe. Don Juan of Spain was chosen as the leader of this Catholic league and they were just about to leave the island of Sicily when someone came for Don Juan; he had an express package for him from the Americas. I am serious. This is 1571; just 40 years after Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego in what is now Mexico City. Someone had painted an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and presented it to Don Juan in Sicily, which he gratefully accepted.
He and the league sailed thousands of miles away from Rome and met the Muslims off the coast of Greece at a place called Lepanto. Months before this meeting the pope had been exhorting the people of Europe to pray, to turn to the Lord and meditate on the Life, Death, and Resurrection. I am sorry, but so often as Catholics we are vulnerable and when sometimes people challenge our faith saying that this Rosary is all about ‘her”, Catholics fail to remember that the prayer ending the Rosary talks about how we have just meditated on five mysteries or more, concerning the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. The Rosary is the favorite of the Blessed Mother after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because it is a meditation on the Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ.
Many in Europe began to pray the Rosary and began to have Rosary Processions; prayer was spreading across Europe when the Catholic fleet met the Muslim fleet off the coast of Greece in Lapanto on October 7, 1571, which was a Sunday. The pope was in Rome and there was no natural way he could see what was happening. He was upstairs in his room talking to his accountant. Things must be really serious if you are talking to your accountant on Sunday, right? It must have been really important because he told the man they would discuss this another time and he walked over to the window overlooking the plaza of St. Peter’s Square and was obviously viewing something that others could not see. It was as if the large window before him was a big screen TV. I mean, it was Sunday and a man has got to be looking into a big screen TV even if it is the year 1571.
The pope started recounting the battle of Lepanto and what was taking place thousands of miles away. He did it with such great detail that when messengers arrived weeks later and told the people what happened at the battle it was exactly as Pope St. Pius V had said.
The first face to head into battle was Our Lady of Guadalupe. Don Juan had her portrait placed right in front and his flagship was the first to go into battle. The Catholics were outnumbered and the wind was against us. The Muslims spoke one language and the Catholics had many. The Muslims were rested and the Catholics were tired and yet that battle was over very quickly, and what had seemed impossible before was shown to be very possible. It is like what the Archangel said to Our Lady at the Annunciation,
With God all things are possible.”
The Muslim steamroller without brakes was stopped miraculously at Lepanto. It didn’t mean that the Catholics were going to get all that land back that had been grabbed, but it meant that the Muslims were not invincible.
Many people are afflicted at seeing how life today is so hard, so difficult, so impossible to get through and without prayer, especially the Rosary, we are easily capsized and conquered.
Take a look at the two people on the cover of the bulletin and you recognize that these are the parents of that young lady right there, St. Therese’. St. Therese’ parents, Louis andZelie Martin were Beatified today in Rome. Beatification is the step just before being Canonized a saint.
Zelie and Louis Martin were united in marriage kind of late in life. He’d discerned a vocation to the priesthood and attempted the seminary. He was told he had to learn Latin but after a year of that he gave up. Zelie had gone off to the convent but the Mother Superior had dismissed her and told her abruptly and to the point that she was very good at making lace according to the style of her town, Alencon. Louis’ mother started taking classes from Zelie on how to make the Alencon lace and you can kind of figure out what happened; she introduced the two and they were married. They got a late start so they only had nine children. St. Therese’ was the youngest. When Therese’ was four her mother died, but fortunately all the time they were together they understood that prayer was absolutely essential and the family Rosary was not uncommon in their home.
As I mentioned today, so many people feel overwhelmed just at the prospect of what lies just over the horizon. Forget the elections…if we could just take the elections and put them aside, which we can’t do, people still feel overwhelmed because of the uncertainty that has been put into the mix in the last few months. People, who feel overwhelmed, pass it on to their children, neighbors, students, coworkers and those around them.
Pope Pius V wanted to get people to pray and meditate on the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. General Washington demanded that his men attend church services everyday and if they didn’t they were punished. He knew that it was impossible to do such laborious work without God’s providence and intervention. Like a good father of that budding army, he made them attend church services the same way the pope promoted the Rosary across Europe and the same way Louis and Zelie Martin prayed and taught their children to pray in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, etc.
This is a book that came out twelve years ago. Peter Seewald interviewed the then, Cardinal Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI. Seewald meet with cardinal Ratzinger over a period of days, asking him some of those zinger questions. I don’t mean “zinger” just because his name is Ratzinger. [Laughter] They were zingers because they were real “gotcha” questions so famous in the media today, asked to conservatives. Here is the world’s biggest conservative and Peter Seewald gets three days to munch on the Cardinal. This is page fifteen and sixteen of “Salt of the Earth”. On page fifteen Peter Seewald essentially asks him,
|Aren’t you depressed that everything in the world is falling apart and there is no hope? |
Well, now I am Peter….thanks a lot! This is part of what Cardinal Ratzinger said in answer to Seewald.
|Perhaps the time has come to say farewell to the idea of traditionally Catholic cultures. Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of era in the Church’s history where Christianity will be characterized more by the tiny mustard seed, where the Church will exist in small seemingly insignificant groups, but nonetheless live an intense struggle against evil and bring the good into the world that lets God in. I see that there is once more a great deal of activity of this kind. |
You see this group right here, including her. Father points to Zelie and Louis Martin and St. Therese’ We can see how confidence comes from prayer. My grandparents lived a very different life than I lived. Last week we were talking about Octoberfest and the men were talking about having to make the sausage. They use Stan Merit’s homemade sausage recipe. Making sausage isn’t a quick process. I remember seeing my grandfather making it when I was a kid. My grandparents grew up in a totally different America. If they had central heating it was because the wood stove was in the center of the house; if they needed water they went outside and brought some in, in a bucket. And while they were out there they could always use the restroom because it was also located outside, right? If you wanted fried chicken for dinner someone had to go to the chicken coop and make the selection. They had more work with fewer conveniences than we have. They also had less leisure time but you and I have more leisure time than any other generation of the world, yet my grandparents found time for the Rosary everyday. My grandparents found time to pray but we don’t have time to pray. If you take out that huge lap of time when you are watching TV or browsing the computer etc., other than that we have no spare time to pray.
Now, you might think this is comical but it has terrible ramifications. Since Labor Day I have been going down to the abortion clinic on Thursdays and every single person I meet, who is there, has no confidence in their own abilities. I don’t care who they are or what language they speak they have no confidence. It is always something that can’t be managed. In fact, if I had a million dollars and was Warren Buffet, which I am not, I could say to a person attempting to have an abortion, “So, things are kind of rough for you today? Here ya go; here is a million dollars.” They would take the million and thank me for it but still go in and have the abortion with an excuse like, “because” or “but”. People have been beaten down. I have heard this sermon again and again from people in my own parish and from perfect strangers at the abortion clinic, and the answer whether it is 1776 or 1571 or 2008, is the same. You will be conquered; you will be overwhelmed and it will be too much for you if you fail to pray and pray well.
Praying the Rosary is to meditate on the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, and meditation is to pray well. We can pray poorly and get nothing out of it. You know the prayers that many say right before going to sleep? Hail…Mar…..Zzzzzzzzz. That is not prayer but laziness. In Confession when children finally make it in there, and parents that is your fault. I am just being honest. When they finally mosey in and go to Confession after months and months and months they confess their two sins. You are raising saints, right? Four months and two sins…that is great! Anyway, kids are kind of grasping and they need practice at Confession. Parents can really help in that respect. I try to help the kids along and ask them if they have no other sins and they say, “No.” I ask if they pray everyday and they say, “Yea.” I ask again if they pray everyday and they say, “Well, no.” It is like pulling teeth! I ask if their mom prays for them everyday and they say, “Yes.” I ask the same about dad and they again answer yes. So I say, “You don’t pray for mom and dad?” I don’t care what anyone says, a good dose of Catholic guilt everyday could be good for every one of us. Right?
Children need to be taught; children need to be brought along. When you see an example of a small community living the faith intensely, you see the fruit that was produced from this couple, Louis and Zelie Martin. Their daughter, Therese’, is a Doctor of the Church. She has touched the lives of millions. Children, who have the benefit of television and not the benefit of prayer, grow up with little confidence in themselves and something is going to get them just around the corner. Of course if you watch TV something is always jumping out at you and it is terrible. Children who are not taught, grow up to think that they are not able to meet the challenges that every generation has met since Our Lord Himself walked this earth.
The Archangel said to Our Lady the day that she was told she was going to be the Mother of Jesus, at the Annunciation, when she asked how this could be,
With God all things are possible.
We need to recognize that we are quick to respond to the IRS, the government, to tickets we get, or at the abortion clinic when someone comes out to move their car because they don’t want to get a ticket. That’s right! Better not get a ticket because that might stay on your record. Having an abortion is nothing but getting a ticket? He’s not going to forget the ticket, right? We need to remember the words of Our Lord in this Gospel.
Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.
Turning away from Caesar and turning to God will instill the confidence that only pray can.
Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit