Joined: 06 May 2005
Location: Greenville, Texas
|Posted: Sun May 02, 2010 9:06 am Post subject: 4th Sunday of Easter 4/25/10 Good Shepherd Sunday
|4th Sunday of Easter
April 25, 2010
Homily by: Father Paul Weinberger
St. William the Confessor Catholic Parish
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice; I know them and they follow Me.
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Most people, as adults, have already heard of Romeo and Juliette and know that these two people that were so much in love belong to two different families, who hated each other. This was a big problem for those two, who were in love.
Most people have seen or heard of the movie, “Fiddler on the Roof.” The movie features a man, who part way through the movie, he and his wife appeal to a matchmaker to help them find a suitable husband for their daughter.
Today being Good Shepherd Sunday, the Church puts a focus on praying, especially for vocations, specifically to the Priesthood. I think a great error is made whenever you and I have heard about vocations to the Priesthood. Vocations to the Priesthood is spoken about as though somehow disconnected from a vocation to married life or a vocation to religious life. They are all intimately inter-connected and this is by God’s design.
We have many young men and women in our parish, who are finishing high school and going on to many different things.
One of the great questions that each and every young man and woman has involves a vocation. Every young man and woman has a vocation given them by God and the difficult part is to discern that vocation. I can recall the father of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. He was in his 30s when he left his seminary studies behind and moved back home with his parents, who were wondering what was going on. They thought he was going to be a priest. He had prayed about it, gone to the seminary to study for the priesthood, but the answer came back, “No, no.” His mother was worried about what was going to happen to her 30 year old son when she met this nice young woman, who knew how to make lace like an expert. One thing led to another and she introduced the young lady to her son and they got married. They had nine children and St. Therese’ was the last.
Isn’t it interesting that this young woman had been in the convent and was discerning a vocation? She did not stay because she wasn’t called to the convent, although she had given it a chance. She’d discerned the call and the answer came back, “No.” She and her husband would send five daughters to the convent and they all stayed. St. Therese’ entered at the age of 15. Some would think that this was too young an age to be entering the convent, but she got special permission from Pope Leo XlV and it is fortunate that she did because she did not make it to her 24th birthday; she contracted tuberculosis and died. St. Therese’ is a Doctor of the Church and we can see from her parent's information that is very useful about discerning vocations. They both thought they were going to pursue Religious Vocations but it turned out very differently. They both had a great impact on the world. The Little way of St. Therese’ has had a big impact on the world. I will come back to St. Therese’. I am going to speak specifically about the priesthood because this is the day when the Church prays specifically for priests.
Last week when I mentioned the Holy Father giving that speech about needing to get rid of the filth in the Church, I failed to mention that last Sunday was the exact date, the 5th Anniversary of that homily that the pope gave to his brother cardinals. Yesterday was the 5th Anniversary of Pope Benedict being installed as the current pope.
As you can see on the cover of the bulletin, the first pope was St. Peter, then St. Linus, then St. Cletus, then Pope St. Clement. The first three-hundred years or so of the Church, it was common to have the pope martyred for his faith in Christ. Oh, people can pick out the bad popes, the ones who led less than stellar lives, like the Borgia Popes for example. But, so many of the men who have been the Successor of St. Peter have led lives that were truly inspiring. Notice that the four popes I just mentioned are saints, they are martyrs for the faith.
Friday some news came out that actually shows how the Successor of St. Peter is getting some better help. Maybe you have been at work and your boss comes up to you and gives you a new assistant and tells you that this assistant is going to help you and then they turn around and run away. The reason they left so quickly is because you find out that this assistant that is going to help you is really no help at all. Well, the Holy Father is in the same predicament, but things are looking up.
Friday, the Bishop of Bruges Belgium announced that he is resigning after 25 years as bishop, admitting that, as a priest and even as a bishop that he’d abused a minor. The pope accepted his resignation. Thanks be to God! It will be very interesting to see how quickly that individual is reduced to the lay state. In other words, no longer a priest, no longer a bishop. I am very interested in seeing how long it takes before that happens. If it were a priest it wouldn’t take long at all. A bishop? Why is it any different?
You see, what happened on Friday is very helpful to the pope as well as the people of Bruges. You can imagine that for 25 years having such an individual in charge of everything from A through Z, but especially “V” for vocations, you can imagine how the vocation picture in Bruges began to sink to a trickle and then that even dried up, leaving for his successor a real mess. He did the Church no favor in accepting the position of bishop when he knew who he was. But, this is really good news. Someone who wasn’t really helping things in now gone.
The same thing happened last week with a bishop there. It was a different kind of abuse but he resigned after admitting that he was part of the problem. In the last couple of weeks four bishops of Ireland, so far, have resigned. It was not because they’d abused minors but when they’d found that those under them had done so they either did nothing by moving the priests elsewhere or hurting the victims by some means. So, those bishops in Bruges, Germany and Ireland are out and it appears that there will be more on the way. This means that Pope Benedict can now replace them with men who are on board with his reform of the Church and, in the pope’s own words, rid the Church of the filth.
There is a man in Massachusetts, who is a philosopher and has a wife and nine children. His name is Phil Lawler. He wrote a book two years ago called, “The Faithful Departed.” No, it is not a book about the Poor Souls in Purgatory. I recommend this book to you. This book chronicled the life in the Archdiocese of Boston from 1900-2008. It covers an 108 year period.
Phil Lawler started with a man, who became archbishop of Boston. His name was Archbishop Connell, then Cardinal Connell. His was the Cardinal-Archbishop for a long time there in Boston. Lawler traced how the archbishop of Boston sewed the seeds for bad things to come in the future. It isn’t going to sound terrible when I tell you what Archbishop Connell did. You see, he had a new image that he wanted to promote to priests, priests as “professional” That would mean priests would be in the same category as a doctor or a lawyer. Priest as professional. That is really sad! It is not that a priest shouldn’t be professional in his demeanor, but priest as professional meant something very different to Cardinal Connell. For him it was a job like being a doctor or lawyer…being a professional.
The priesthood is not a job; the priesthood is as much a job as being the father of a family is a job. Being the father of a family is a 24/7 job, 365 days a year and it is the worst paying job in the world. It is right next to being a mother. They would be the lowest paying jobs, but they are not jobs, they are vocations.
When Cardinal Connell promoted professional priests that is exactly what he got. You can trace the Diocese of Boston and the direct impact it had on the Archdiocese; it had devastating effects. Even Cardinal Connell’s own nephew, who became a priest while he was Cardinal-Archbishop, started to act un-priestly with a young lady and his friend the same way, instead of doing something about it, Cardinal Connell just looked the other way as though to say, “We just want to be professional about this now.” That was the attitude and look at what has happened in 108 years.
When we look at the priesthood as anything other than being the father of a family or the shepherd of a flock, we see it in ways that Christ never intended it. He wanted this connection to be made and that is where you and I enter in and must help the young people of this parish to discern their vocations. Is it to marriage? Well, even that.
The young people today are at a great disadvantage. When I was a kid marriage meant one thing, a life which started when a man and a woman met at Church and received their Sacrament, a Sacrament that meant for the rest of their lives they were open to children. This is still what Christ teaches through His Church, but marriage has taken a severe beating in the last 30 or 40 years. Today so many of the things I just spelled out about marriage are questioned.
Here is an example. Last week I heard of a kid who sent his grandmother an email. I am serious about this; it is not a joke. She lives a long way from her grandson and she was going to visit him. The kid is in kindergarten or first grade.
He said, “Dear Grandma, please do not come and visit me on a plane. Instead, please ride your bike. Planes hurt the environment.”
Well, it is going to take her a long time for that visit.
The emphasis today on the vocation of marriage is very misunderstood because of politically correct innovations and also just perversions. We have to pray and support the men and women in our own parish who have already begun down the road to a vocation to serve the Church as a priest or religious brother or sister. Many people say,
“I don’t want my son to be a priest; he is my only son and we want him to get married and raise a family.”
Tell that to John and Meg Fowler, whose oldest and only son, Aaron Fowler, nowFra Lawerence, is studying with the Franciscans of the Immaculate for about three years now. He is over in Italy. David Rodriguez as many of you know has been over working for Mother Angelica’s Knights of the Eucharist in Hanceville. He is just finishing his first year in the seminary, studying to be a priest for the Knights of the Eucharist. And then there is Brother Christopher Daveron, long beard and a shaved head, who is now over in Italy at the Monastery where St. Benedict was born. (Chris is an only child)
View a photo of Fra Lawerence and Brother Christopher at the Benedictine Monastery in Norcia. Fra Lawerence was allowed to pay Brother Christopher a visit when he arrived in Italy. Both these young men were parishioners of St. William the Confessor as well as Father Paul’s previous Parish, Blessed Sacrament in Dallas.
Brother Christopher is doing very well. I feel like I am leaving someone out but it will come to me.
Speaking of Brother Christopher, this is a book I have mentioned before on the life of St. Therese’. The book is by Pierre Descouvemont, titled. “Thérèse and Lisieux” It is a great book on the life of the Little Flower. There is a photo in here that looks like Brother Christopher, but he lived 100 years before Chris was born. His name was Father Maurice Bellier. He wrote to the convent where Therese’ was living, in Lisieux, The letter was written to the Mother Superior, which was very direct. He was entering the priesthood and was going to become a missionary, serving in foreign countries. He asked the Mother Superior if a Carmelite sister would help him persevere in his vocation; especially taking charge of his future priestly apostolate. This would be by prayers of St. Therese’ as well as her wise spiritual direction.
View the book Maurice and Therese’
The letter was given to Therese’ and the Mother Superior told her she would be perfect for this request. This was about two years before St. Therese’ died. She was very happy and had always wanted a brother, who would be a priest. She had two older brothers that died in childhood. She wrote to Maurice one day saying,
“O my Jesus, thank you for fulfilling one of my greatest desires, to have a brother, a brother priest and apostle.”
She offered for him all her prayers, acts of renunciation, and sacrifices, and as for Maurice, he did not overwhelm St. Therese’ with mail. He was satisfied to send her a card now and then. Again, he was a man and he only sent a card now and then but she would send long letters. You ladies know exactly what I am talking about; men are the worst correspondents. I am the worst.
But, St. Therese’ shared in the many graces and blessings that would come into this world through Maurice’s priesthood. The same thing is possible for us as well, and we should be knocking down the doors to support similar vacations to the priesthood and religious life. Again, I am just going to focus on the priesthood today.
On page six of your bulletin you see a notice concerning the Sodality of Our Lady of Lourdes here at St. Williams. I have not done a lot with the Sodality this year as I have in the years past. I think I have finally figured out how the Sodality can best serve St. Williams parish.
I am asking that the young ladies from the Sodality come at least one Sunday a month to make a Holy Hour from 3:15 pm to 4:45 pm. That would be a Holy Hour and a half. They, in the presence of the Lord exposed in the Blessed Sacrament on the Altar, would pray. Those who live a great distance and it would be an inconvenience to return, could perhaps pray at a location closer to their homes. This is a way of fulfilling a request that Bishop Farrell made a few years ago. He wants a vocation committee in every parish. I didn’t want to start a vocation committee; it would be something for bureaucratic red tape. I want a vocation committee that will actually promote and pray for vocations, especially to our own Diocese of Dallas.
This is a very historic time. I mentioned things about Pope Benedict and his reform, his cleaning out the filth in the Church, but closer to home our diocese is experiencing something it hasn’t seen in over 160 years.
On Tuesday two bishops will be consecrated at the Cathedral by the Bishop Farrell. These two men were priests in the Diocese of Dallas and they will serve in the same diocese. It appears, in my opinion, that on Tuesday or very soon after, our diocese will become an archdiocese like San Antonio and Houston. It would make three Archdiocese in Texas, three. Texas has 14 or 15 diocese and Dallas was the second diocese in Texas. You could take a line and draw from East Texas and draw across the map to West Texas and Dallas was the northern half of the State of Texas. Now we are the smallest diocese geographically, but the best read we have on the number of Catholics in the Dallas Diocese is 1.2 or 1.3 million Catholics.
That is the good news but the bad news is only 2 to 3 thousand Catholics attend Mass on Sunday here in this Diocese. You can see that Bishop Farrell has a lot of work ahead of him; he needs helpers, but he needs good helpers. The pope needs help, but he doesn’t just need help he needs good competent help. He doesn’t need professionals but helpers, and that consists of men who have the mind of Christ and serve as Christ did…to the point of shedding His blood for His bride, the Church.
There are other vocations in the Church beside being a Diocesan Priest. You can be a priest in a religious order, like Fra Lawerence or like Brother Juan Bernadino. You could be a brother like Brother Christopher, who may go on to be a priest in the Benedictine Order. I know that there are women in the parish that are considering religious life.
Blessed Mother Teresa is a nun that everyone would recognize and something she said again and again bears repeating today. She would say to any and all that the Missionaries of Charity, her sisters, were not social workers. She was right; everywhere you look you find religious sisters who have changed their standing in the Church; there are those who have become social workers. This is always what happens to the number of vocations in those religious orders. They either die out altogether or reform and move away from being social workers. That would be like saying,
“Well, mom is not my mother, she is a social worker.”
No, she is your mother and Mother Teresa knew that being a social worker was putting a professional spin on being a nun; it would be the death of religious life. In the same way, it is death to a priest being a professional. Not that priests shouldn’t be professional in our demeanor, but we are not professionals in the strict sense of the word; we are to be servants.
The Church asks that you and I pray and sacrifice for the men and women here in our parish, who are considering a vocation, whether is to be a husband or a wife, a priest or brother, or a religious sister. Only God will know which one is for them. But, we must pray because it is the most important move they will make in their lives and they need to be assisted by our prayers.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice; I know them and they follow Me.
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit