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Chaplain’s Memorial Mass (3rd Sunday Ordinary Time) Homily - January 26th 2019

“I wish I had been there”. At one time or other we might be tempted to make that wise, when we hear Our Lord describe his earthy mission quoting the words of Isaiah the Prophet, at the very time he was fulfilling that prophecy: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tiding to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners, to a announce a year of favor from the Lord.”

 

But why should we wish that we were back there in the synagogue at Nazareth? In every way that counts, we are there, When Our Lord says “today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing”, it really means not just “today” 2000 years ago. It means “today” January 26th or 27th 2019. Christ does not give us something and then take it away. Certainly not the most essential things in his mission of salvation.

 

Christ continues to give all the good things mentioned in that prophecy if Isaiah. But he also ASSOCIATES ALL OF US with the GIVING, as well as the RECEIVING. Why do I say that? Listen to the words of today’s second reading from St. Paul: “The body is one and has many members, but all members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ….You, then, are the body of Christ.”

 

Some of the responsibility, then for making that prophecy of Isaiah come true here and now, for making Christ’s mission come true here and now, belong to us. We have, “all of us….been given to drink of the one Spirit”. We are members of the body of Christ. The Spirit of the Lord came upon us at Baptism; we were anointed with that Spirit at our Confirmation. We are, then, the feet and legs and voice of Christ today, with the mission of bringing glad tidings to the poor. We are the ones sent by Christ to perform those spiritual and corporal works of mercy described in the prophecy.

 

These scripture lessons are especially appropriate today, when this Council of the Knights of Columbus commemorates its deceased members, along with its living members and the windows and families of those deceased members. The Knights of Columbus take especially seriously the fact that we share Our Lord’s mission on earth and strive to make known to the community we live in, by the example of our lives and by the charitable activities we carry out in the community, the fact that Christ is present and working in our community through us. When our present living generation passes on, may we leave behind a new generation of Knights to carry on our share of Christ’s mission.

 

And so, [for all members of the Knights here present, and] for all the faithful Catholics and Christians here today, Our Lord was not present 2000 years ago in his public life. He is present with us and in us today, members of his body, sending his Holy Spirit to inspire us to carry on his mission today.

Chaplain’s Message - January 2019

The baptism of Our Lord by John the Baptist in the Jordon River , is an occurrence about 30 years after Our Lord’s birth, which we have just been celebrating. The Church celebrates Our Lord’s baptism now, as a kind of transition from thinking about Our Lord’s birth and infancy toward the mission he was born on earth to accomplish. As I celebrate a transition to a new year of my life on the day after the feast of Our Lord’s Baptism, we hear the Blessed Trinity give a solemn and spectacular introduction to Our Lord’s public life. As John the Baptist baptizes Our Lord, God the Father, from heaven calls out” “this is my beloved Son” and the Holy Spirit descends on Our Lord in the form of a dove, an event which St. John’s gospel tells us was a sign John the Baptist was told to watch for, identifying the savior he was sent to introduce.

 

Our own baptism , if we were old enough to be aware of it, or the baptisms we have attended , whether of your own children or of others, remind you that God has adopted you as a Son of God and brother of Christ. Baptisms also remind you that you too share in Our Lord’s mission to bring salvation to the world, to your own children and to many others.

Chaplain’s Message – October and November 2018

November 2018

    This is the month of Thanksgiving Day, and also November 11th, the anniversary of the end of World War I, “the war to end all wars”. Yet it led to a Second World War, then a Cold War and a number of smaller wars. We can claim victories in these wars, and so have reason to give thanks. Those victories however, are partial victories, compared to those of the saints, whom we commemorate on November 1st, and the victory we pray will come to the souls in Purgatory, whom we pray for on All Souls Day.

    The victories in the World Wars and the other wars were the result of human efforts, and therefore flawed by human selfishness, revenge and hate. When we pray for and strive for final victories in our own lives, in the lives of our families, of our nation and our world, we pray for victories more in line with the victories of the saints, who shared Our Lord’s love and his sacrifice.

 

October 2018

    Well and gradually developed over the centuries of Christianity, the rosary seems to have begun by the recitation of 150 “Our Fathers”, for illiterate laity to match the 150 Psalms, recited by monks. Then 150 “Hail Mary’s” became added to the devotion. Later, the practice developed of mediating on mysteries of Jesus’ life, corresponding to the “Our Fathers” and “Hail Mary’s”. the Dominican Order was known as promoters of reciting the rosary. All of this came before 1573, when Pope St. Pius V became the first Pope to institute a Feast of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which we celebrate this month, the Month of the Holy Rosary. He did so in thanksgiving for the naval victory of Lepanto, which saved the West from being overrun by the Turks.

    In this past century, Pope St. John Paul II point out how the rosary and its meditation on events in Our Lord’s life answers our contemporary age’s renewed interest in meditation, which contemporary people call “Mindfulness”. As Knights, our own devotion to the rosary is thus, one answer to contemporary needs and interests.

Chaplain’s Message – September 2018

    We would do well to ponder St. Peter’s words in answer to Jesus’ question, “Will you too leave?” when he says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” In the Church’s present situation when we are constantly reminded of the abuse of children by priests and the cover-up by certain bishops, these words can strike home.

    In the 6th chapter of St. John’s gospel, it was Our Lord’s “hard saying”, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you.” In our present situation, it is not so much Our Lord’s words that tempt people to turn away, but the failure of some trusted leaders in the Church to obey Our Lord’s words and his example of true, self-sacrificing love, and instead, the betrayal of that Christ-like love. This is true despite the fidelity of the vast majority of bishops, priests and lay people.

    This is not the Church’s 2 thousand year history in which the teachings of Christ have been betrayed. In the years following the 5th century collapse of the Roman Empire, chaos engulfed not only civil society but infected the Church with corruption. Yes, those Dark Ages were followed by the flowering of faith in the Middle Ages. In the 1500’s the Renaissance was accompanied by self-indulgent corruption in the Church, leading to the Protestant Reformation and the Church’s Counter-Reformation beginning with the Council of Trent.

    With the silent and not so silent majority of faithful Catholics, laity, clergy and religious the Church overcame those dark times to flourish again. The Knights of Columbus, renewing its leadership today with new officers, will make its strong contribution to the preservation and flourishing of the Church in our own time.

 

Monsignor Collins

Chaplain’s Message – August 2018

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, which we celebrate this month with a Holy Day of Obligation, certainly reminds us of Mary’s special privilege, but it also reminds us of her Divine Son, whose Transfiguration we also celebrate this month. These feasts and what they signify do not however, leave us completely as spectators. As the Breviary, the Church’s official prayer, reminds us on the feast of the Transfiguration, that feast should “inspire in your people the hope of being transfigured at the last day” (Breviary, vol IV, P.1277). For us, we wait for the “last day” but Mary  shared our Lord’s transfiguration and resurrection at her Assumption. As the transfiguration liturgy says, ‘O Christ, you will reform our lowly body and like it like your glorious one’ (Ibid.,p.1278).

 

The words of the following hymn, speak of Our Lord’s name but makes us think of his Ascension, His Blessed Mother’s Assumption, and out belated sharing of that same honor, when it says that Our Lord “bore it up triumphant, With its human light, Through all ranks of creatures, To the central height, To the throne of Godhead, To the Father’s breast, Fill it with the glory, Of that perfect rest.” (Breviary, vol IV, p. 785).

Chaplain’s Message – July 2018

Patriotism is one the most important values inculcated in the Knight of Columbus. It is appropriate for us to think about patriotism in this month of July, when we celebrate our independence as a nation, and the ideals on which our country is founded, expressed in the Declaration of Independence, such as the fact that all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights, and later by Abraham Lincoln, in calling this a nation of the people by the people and for the people.

 

As Catholics and especially Knights of Columbus, we should not be saying, “My country right or wrong”. We live in a time of many conflicting opinions, based on motivations, some of which are good, and some of which are bad. Instead, we should be affirming as our heritage as Christians and Catholics, under the guidance of the Pope and of the American bishops, not only in our private lives, but in public discourse as well, those fundamental values which are both truly Christian as well as truly American.

Chaplain’s Message – June 2018

“What is man, that you are mindful of him….” as Psalm 8 asks God. We might ask the same question. We know we are not self-sufficient. We are quite conscious of our vulnerabilities, our dangers; domestic ones of violence and financial fragility. We are conscious of world-wide vulnerabilities: turmoil, terrorism, threats from adversary and enemy nations. Closest to home is our vulnerability from the fragility of our own health, and our final earthly destiny of dying. We therefore have reason for gratitude to God, who protects us in all these dangers. God is self-sufficient; he doesn’t need us.

 

Why, then, is God mindful of man? Why did he create us, with all our abilities and talents? Why did he save us from our sins by the death of His only-begotten Son? We should ask, not only what is man to God but also why is God mindful of us. It is because he loves us, despite our unworthiness and weakness, a love he demonstrated in the passion and death of Our Lord, something we celebrate this month in devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose feast day we celebrate this month, is the symbol and more than the symbol, also the source of that divine love which redeems us and looks after us in this life and in the next

Chaplain’s Message – May 2018

We are coming to the season when we see and experience graduation ceremonies for children and grandchildren. This is also the liturgical season when we celebrate a commencement or graduation of Our Lord’s apostles. He tells them to go into the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). In the Acts of the Apostles (1:11), Our Lord commissions the

 

For us, who have already graduated, maybe many years ago, this is a time for re-dedication, not just to our worldly tasks, but also to our share of the apostles’ work of bringing Our Lord’s gospel, in our own way, in our area, in ways proper to our own vocation in life, the depth of our faith, and our level of education, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, who helped the apostles, especially on Pentecost, who helps us, by the grace of our Confirmation. This month, we also ask the help of Our Blessed Mother, whom we honor in a special way this month.  Monsignor Collins

Chaplain’s Message – April 2018

    In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you….I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:2). Our Lord has risen from the dead and he promises us a share in his resurrection. In the Creed, we say, “I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come”.

    Our Lord’s resurrection is a proof of our resurrection with him. Our resurrection must be like Our Lord’s resurrection.  He is our only example in this. Our Lord did not come back to life with no memory or connection with his early life. In appearing to his apostles and disciples, he knew them and interacted with them, although he was different in some ways, appearing to them through locked doors. Mary Magdalen recognized him only when he called her, “Mary”. By the Sea of Galilee, St. John was the first to recognize him on the shore. He said, “It is the Lord”

    Like Christ’s, our resurrection, promised at the end of the world, includes our whole person, with our bodies and all our history, “that wonderful, venturous, convoluted history. With its tears and ecstasies, its sorrows and blessings – it all ‘travels with us’ into eternal life with God” (p177. Lohfink, Gerhard. “Is This All there Is” tr. By Linda M. Mahoney. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press Academic, 2017-2018)

Chaplain’s Message – March 2018

    We are deep into Lent, into our commitment to, we might say our gamble on God and his son, Jesus Christ as the Church is urging us to. This month ends Lent with Holy week, and next month begins with Easter. Yet, at a time when many people around us, and sometimes even family members, respond to God and Christ with indifference, at the most, this might be a good time to take a lesson from Blaise Pascal. He was a 17th century French mathematician. He spelled out the stakes of our gamble on God’s existence and on the truth of Our Lord and his promises.  Blaise Pascal said: “Either God is, or is not. But to which view shall we be inclined? Reason cannot decide this question…At the far end of this infinite distance, a coin is being spun, which will come down on heads or tails. How will you wager?

    Let us weigh up the gain and the loss involved in calling heads, that God Exists…if you win, you win everything, if you lose, you lose nothing….But here there is an infinity of infinity happy life to be won, one chance of winning against a finite number of chances of losing, and what you are staking is finite. How, what harm will come to you for choosing this course? You will be faithful, honest, humble, grateful, full of good works, a sincere, true friend…It is true you will not enjoy noxious pleasures, glories and good living, but you will not have others?” 

Chaplain’s Message – February 2018

    Lent is upon us. The Church sets a program before us to make us appreciate the salvation Chris won for us by his passion, death and resurrection.  I read a description of that Lenten program summarized in three words: UPWARD, INWARD and OUTWARD.

    Upward stand for Lenten practice of prayer, including personal private prayer, religious reading to fuel that prayer, along with Mass, Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    Inward stand for fasting, THE SECOND Lenten practice designed to get us to control our passions and desires so that they don’t demand all our time and attention, but leave us room to communicate with God, especially with Jesus Christ, who fasted and emptied his human self of everything to win our salvation.

    Then, there is the Outward these of almsgiving.  The Church encourages us to look beyond ourselves to others: to our family, our friends, our country, especially those in need of help.  In this time of contention about the willingness to help others, such as immigrants and refugees here at home and abroad, Lent should call us to our obligation as followers of Christ, Christians, to do what we can help all those less fortunate and in need.

 

Monsignor Collins

Chaplian's Message - November 2017

   “We are not alone”. Nowadays , that sentence probably first makes us think of science fiction, or speculation, or attempts to pick up radio signals from outer space, presumably from intelligent beings somewhere in outer space. This is another way we can answer the question of whether we are alone in the universe, by saying that we are definitely NOT alone.

   On All Saints Day, the first scripture reading, from the biblical book of Revelation says, “….I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from very nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne before the lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a load voice: ‘salvation come from our God who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb”””. The preface to All Saints Day’s Eucharistic prayer speaks of “….the heavenly Jerusalem, our mother, where the great array of our brothers and sisters already give you eternal praise.”

   We are definitely not alone, but not being alone is not threatening or menacing as in the fictional “War of the Worlds”. For us, not being alone is definitely positive and helpful. We are accompanied by all the saints, as Preface I of all Saint’s Day says:

   “By their way of life, you give us an example, by communion with them you give us companionship, by their intercession [as we have with patron saints and in our prayers to the saints] sure support, so that, encouraged by so great a cloud of witnesses we may run as victors in the race before us, and win with them the imperishable crown of glory.”

   In this sense, our not being alone is something for which we should be thankful, as we are thankful this month for all the veterans of the armed forces who have defended our liberties, and also thankful, on Thanksgiving Day, for all the blessings God has showered upon our country and upon our individual families.

 

Monsignor Collins

Chaplian's Message - Sept 2017

On the 14th of this month, we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. We call it holy because it is Christ's cross which won our salvation. After 2000 years of Christianity, we no longer have a vivid image of the cross as a gruesome punishment which the Romans reserved for non Romans and for the worst criminals and rebels. When however, we think of Our Lord's call for each of us to carry his or her cross, that is something which makes us uncomfortable, like a trip to the dentist, entering a hospital for surgery. Those indeed may be crosses we will have to bear, along with disasters and tragedies. We may give in to the human tendency to concentrate on seeking pure pleasure and to avoid unpleasant things, even those we know are necessary. 

 

Pure pleasure, or at least pure please that lasts, is something which comes only from allowing Christ and seeking first and foremost doing God's will for us. That is the only thing which, in the end, will truly give us pleasure, the pleasure of being one with GOD in heaven.

 

Monsignor Collins