Bishop Paprocki’s Homily for the Opening of the Year of Faith

Our bishop, Thomas John Paprocki, gave a wonderful homily on October 14 marking the opening of the Year of Faith. In it, he laid out his plan for how Catholics in our diocese can live the Year fully:

To our sorrow, today there seems to be fewer and fewer people willing to apprentice themselves to Christ, to learn from him the will of the Father and the ways in which we may live in his love. You have heard the statistic, no doubt, that the second-largest religious group in the United States is non-practicing Catholics. I am sure that many of us know personally the people and stories behind these numbers. They are our sisters and brothers, our nieces and nephews, our sons and daughters, our neighbors and co-workers.

What can we say to reignite in them the fire of faith? What is Christ inspiring us to do to proclaim the faith anew to these lost sheep? These questions lie at the heart of the Year of Faith. Of this task, the Holy Father wrote: “To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived, and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year” (Porta Fidei, 9). To this end, I would like to propose to a three-fold plan to make the most of this Year of Faith.

First, we must be grateful for the faith we have received, for our encounter with the Lord. Families should strive to make their homes places where the family prays together, reads the Scriptures together, and is nourished together at Sunday Mass. Families should strive to allow their faith to influence everything they do, rather than reserving their faith only for an hour or so on Sunday.

Second, we must endeavor to understand all the more clearly the faith we profess. If a friend, family member or co-worker asks us a question about Catholicism, can we provide an adequate “ and correct “ answer? We ought to be able to do so.

Third, we must share our faith, not only with our family and friends, but with our co-workers and everyone we meet. As the Holy Father reminds us, “Confessing with the lips indicates in turn that faith implies public testimony and commitment “(Porta Fidei, 10).

This three-fold plan is the way of discipleship and through it we learn to apprentice ourselves to Jesus Christ.

The entire homily can be read on our diocesan web site; I heartily recommend it to you.

#NCCL2011 Opening Mass Homily – Four Points

Fr. Ron  Cochran of St. Luke Catholic Church in El Cajon, California, celebrated this evening’s Mass for the NCCL conference in Atlanta. He gave a very nice reflection on this Sunday’s readings and, most helpfully, laid out his four main points:

  1. If we have faith in Christ, we will allow God to work through us.
  2. We can’t allow God to work through us unless we have died to ourselves.
  3. We offer spiritual sacrifices by offering ourselves on the altar with Christ.
  4. We do service so that we have something to bring to and offer on the altar.

I will definitely be mulling over these reflections and how they apply to my work with the diocese during the next four days of catechetical goodness!

“I’m not backing down now.”

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to return to my grad school for some official diocesan business. While I was there I attended a school Mass led by Fr. Dennis Logue, an 84-year old diocesan priest who is still taking continuing education classes at the school.

Fr. Logue is a chaplain at a St. Louis soup kitchen and lives on the city’s north side. During his homily he explained how the north side has declined in recent years. But, even at 84, he declared that is “not backing down now.” Even in the midst of widespread poverty and crime he still sees it as his duty to minister to those around him — especially as he takes his daily walk around a local park. Fr. Logue challenged us to “proclaim the Gospel we believe in” and “live a Eucharistic life every day.”

This was, as they say, the right homily for me at the right time. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now and have been feeling a little overwhelmed. But I’m taking “I’m not backing down now” as my marching orders from God for the next few months. Onward, Christian soldiers!

“Nothing less is expected of us as priests…”

This past Saturday our diocese ordained two men to the sacred priesthood. More specifically, His Eminence Francis Cardinal George of Chicago ordained the men as our diocese awaits the installation of Bishop Paprocki on June 22.

Rev. Msgr. Carl Kemme, our diocesan administrator, delivered the homily and I have to say: it probably ranks in the top five homilies I have ever heard and is the most moving reflection on the priesthood I can remember. Here’s a short sound bite:

To my brother priests in this presbyterate I want and need to invite something very important from us. These men to be ordained are a gift to us, gifts not to be taken for granted, but cherished and honored. It behooves us to offer them and those who come after them, in union with our bishop and his successors, a presbyterate that is healthy, supportive and joyful. To that end, I would humbly submit that we have work to do. We cannot afford to allow them or any of us, to be subject to the destructive forces strong in our world today, which have gripped far too many priests in our church, the evil that is isolation, the inclination to cynicism, or the abandonment of the hopes and dreams of the Church for us, in exchange for spiritual apathy and moral indifference. Rather, with courage and love we must invite them and ourselves to stand firm in the faith, to unite in a stronger bond of prayerful and priestly fraternity and to together become saints for nothing less is expected of us as priests after the mind and heart of the Good Shepherd.

My estimable friend Fr. Daren Zehnle has the complete homily posted on his blog. It is definitely worth the read.