Silence is Necessary


Homilist: Fr. Michael Phillippino

Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 29, 2012

I had a friend in the seminary who became a Stigmatine priest. The superior of the house would see him lying on his bed and apparently doing nothing, so he would give him something to do. But my friend would explain that he was indeed working; he was putting together, in his mind, an article for some religious journal or publication of some sort. When the check of $50 or $100 would come in, he would give it to his superior and tell him, “See, this is what I was doing lying on the bed.”

We sometimes have a similar problem with silence. We have all types of devices now that can keep us occupied throughout the day if we choose. The point is: silence is very powerful and is necessary for us if we are serious about seeking God in our lives.

Wednesday night, we had continued with “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass” seminar that we had started in March. Those attending were very impressed with the importance of silence in the liturgy. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal reminds us that we should pause before and after the readings, since when the word of God is read, the pause provides us a time to prepare and the silence after gives us some time to sit in awe that God has actually spoken to us.

The Church teaches us that when a Lector proclaims the word of God, he or she is actually lending their voice to God, that he may speak His Word to the congregation. The point is God is not only speaking when we hear his word, he is also speaking in the silence.

It is important for us to learn to listen in silence and to teach our children how to stay in the silence since it will help them become aware of who they are, but also teach them how to deal with some of the darkness within them. I once knew a man who was part owner of a golf club. He would hire teenagers to work around the golf course, but he would send them off by themselves because he wanted them working and not fooling around. However, they would come back after only a few hours, he said, because they could not deal with the solitude of the world and the stuff that was coming up in them.

If, however,, we learn the importance of silence before God in our lives, we can have some powerful experiences of his love and guidance for us. In his book “The Way of the Disciple”, Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis quotes one of Guerric of Igny’s sermons, which said, “If in the depths of your soul you were to keep a quiet silence, the all-powerful word would flow from the Father’s throne secretly into you. Happy then is the person who has so fled the world’s tumult, who has so withdrawn into the solitude and secrecy of interior peace, that he can hear not only the Voice of the Word but the Word himself: not John but Jesus.”

In today’s Gospel, our Lord reminds us that he has sheep who will hear his voice. How can we hear unless we listen? Silence is a necessary part of our lives, silence in God’s presence, and silence in awe of God’s word. In heaven there is silence in the heavenly liturgy, as we read in Revelations 8:1, “When he broke open the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”

Sisters and brothers, let us learn to imitate Mary, who in the silence “kept all of these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:18)

A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
April 29, 2012

Fourth Sunday of Easter
In our largely urban society we tend to glamorize sheep herding. In fact, and especially in Jesus’ day, it was a lonely, harsh and dangerous occupation. Jesus was not using hyperbole, therefore, when he says that the good shepherd must be ready to lay down his life for the sheep. It is only the bad shepherd, for whom the sheep are of merely utilitarian value, who flees because he is unwilling to risk his own life when they are attacked.

The Way, The Truth, and The Life – Jesus Only!
Life It’s not politically incorrect to believe in God. Just so long as you acknowledge that all are God’s children, and that there are many, equally honorable paths to the Most High. After all, that’s only fair. How conceited it would be to claim that your way is the only way.

There is nothing really new about this attitude. In the days of the Roman Emperors, no one had any problems with people worshiping some carpenter from Galilee who they believed to be God’s son. As long as they’d be broad-minded enough to worship the emperor and Jupiter, and the rest of the Pantheon as well.

4th Easter: He Makes Us Want To Be Better
Recently I have been doing a lot of reading on the first days of our country. I read a really good book about the Founding Father, another one just on George Washington, and am just finishing a book of the War of 1812. I have on deck a book on Thomas Jefferson, one on Andrew Jackson, and McCullough’s 1776.

Most of these early American leaders were religious people in that they believed in God and trusted in Him to guide the country. They put “In God We Trust,” on our coinage. At the same time, most of them embraced a philosophy/theology that said God was distant from the individual. You might remember that they called this type of religion Deism. Simply put, Deism would say, that God created mankind and is available for major emergencies, but He doesn’t get involved with an individual person’s problems or even his or her life.

If We Can’t Call Priests “Father,” It Doesn’t Leave Much
Some time ago, I wrote a post on why we Catholics call our priests “Father.” In a nutshell, this is a recognition of the priest’s spiritual fatherhood. St. Paul sets the pattern for this in 1 Cor. 4:15, when he tells Timothy, “I became your father through the Gospel.” The typical objection to this title is based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:9 (“call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven”). But these words aren’t meant to be taken literally, as passages like Matthew 1:2, Mt. 10:37, Mark 10:29, Ephesians 6:2, James 2:21, and Romans 9:10 make clear.

Rather, Jesus is telling us in Matthew 23:9 to have no allegiances apart from Him. So it’s right to have St. Paul as a spiritual father (1 Cor. 4:15), but not in such a way that it turns into factionalism that damages or diminishes the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 1:12-13).

Clarifying Certain Misunderstandings About Confirmation
Yesterday we discussed a bit about baptism and some of the pastoral practices surrounding it. Today in a kind of companion piece I’d like to address some of the distortions and confusion that often surround the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Some one once said that Confirmation is the Sacrament in search of a theology. While not true, the statement does capture that there is a lot of incorrect and sometimes silly teaching about this sacrament to young people. And since it is the season for Confirmations, it may be helpful to explore what the Catechism teaches about the sacrament.

Benedict XVI reflects on the truth and inspiration of the Bible
The annual meeting of the Pontifical Biblical Commission this year was devoted to the topic of “the inspiration and truth of the Bible.” The Holy Father gave a brief comment to the commission members on April 18. This theme of inspiration and truth is needed for a correct interpretation of the Bibles’s message. The Bible itself is a product of the Church and Tradition; it was not first written and then the Church appeared. The Church appeared in an organized way. It subsequently recalled and recorded the essential teaching of the Christ and the apostles. The ultimate origin of the Bible is not human but is found in the Logos, in the Word of God. But this origin does not prevent God also from using human instruments. This is what Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul are about.

When God says “No”
It is common for all of us to have to struggle as to the great mystery of God’s providence and will. If it is not our own struggle then we must often commiserate with others who are in distress. One person is losing her young daughter to cancer, a friend is struggling to find work, still another has a husband who is drinking. Some will say to me, “I’ve been praying, Father. Nothing seems to happen.” I am not always sure what to say and God doesn’t often explain why we must suffer, or why he delays, or why he says, “No.”

On Fifteen Years a Catholic
“How can you join a church that tells you how to think?”

The question, uttered with equal parts puzzlement and anger, surprised me. In hindsight, it should have been about as surprising as an afternoon drizzle here in Eugene, Oregon, in early spring. The question—almost an accusation, really—was made one early spring day over fifteen years ago. It was said in the middle of an intense discussion about the reasons why my wife and I had, both graduates of Evangelical Bible colleges, had decided to become Catholic.

Which Books Were in Early Christian Bibles
What canon of Scripture did the earliest Christians use? A Protestant going by the handle Lojahw (Lover of Jesus and His word) argues that it was the modern Protestant Bible. Specifically, he claimed that:

There were at least nine church fathers from the second through the fourth centuries who endorsed the shorter canon: six explicitly listed Esther, including Jerome and Rufinus, who agreed book-for-book with the Protestant canon.I called him out on this claim, because it’s demonstrably untrue (as we’ll soon see).

Pope: Make Prayer a Priority
On April 25, Pope Benedict XVI told more than 20,000 pilgrims that they must commit themselves to works of charity, without neglecting prayer as a source of spiritual life.

“Without daily prayer,” Pope Benedict said in his Wednesday morning general audience in St. Peter’s Square, “our action is empty” and “loses its deep soul, resulting in a simple activism that eventually leaves (us) unsatisfied.”

On the Sin of Rash Judgment
On of the most common sins committed, and yet, one of the sins least confessed, is the sin of Rash Judgment. The commercial below humorously depicts the sin and how wrong we can sometimes be.

But in reality the sin is not often humorous and can lead us to some very dark places. We may, on account of rash judgments, harbor grudges, resentments, fears, and unjust anger. We may allow rash judgment to foster our pride as we feel superior to others, and we may carry deep hurts, or even seek revenge, all based on misinformation, or misinterpretation of what others do. And gossip is usually the daughter (or son) of rash judgment.

Trusting the Lord in Difficult Circumstances
When it was evening, his disciples went down to the sea, embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum. It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading. (John 6:16-21)

Tomb of Apostle Philip Found
At about the same time as the July/August 2011 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review was hitting the newsstands, containing an article about St. Philip’s Martyrium,* author and excavation director Francesco D’Andria was making an exciting new discovery in the field at Hierapolis, one of the most significant sites in Christian Turkey. A month later he announced it: They had finally found the tomb of the martyred apostle Philip.

One Flock,One Shepherd (John 10:11-18)
John 10:11-18: ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep. The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep; this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, and one shepherd. The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again; and this is the command I have been given by my Father.’

The Healing of a Football Player’s Wounded Heart
The 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated this Sunday, April 29, with the theme “Vocations, the Gift of the Love of God.” This theme is very close to the heart of Father Joseph Freedy, director of priestly vocations for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

There was a time when such a concept was distant from his heart, which had been set on worldly goods. He was a standout quarterback in high school and at the University of Buffalo. Thousands cheered him on and looked up to him, but his heart remained restless. Despite his earnest attempts to the contrary, he could not find happiness in the noise of the world.

Knowing Mary Through the Bible: Mary’s Holy Hour
One crucial theme in John’s Gospel can shed much light on Mary’s unique role in salvation history. This theme is so foundational that it will help us see how Mary becomes the “New Eve” and the spiritual mother of all Christians. Let’s look at this fundamental motif in the fourth Gospel: “the hour.”

The mysterious theme of Christ’s “hour” runs as a narrative thread through the Gospel of John and creates dramatic suspense for the reader. We first encounter this motif at the beginning of Christ’s public ministry during the wedding feast of Cana, when Jesus says to Mary, “My hour has not yet come” (Jn. 2:4). At this point, Jesus does not clarify what this hour is or when it will come. He only says that this mysterious hour has yet to arrive.

Can You BeGood Without God?
Time and again the middle-aged Catholic mother will ask me, “I can’t get my kids to go to Mass. Why don’t they go to Mass anymore?”

My answer shocks them: “Your kids don’t go to Mass because they don’t believe the Catholic faith.”

I go on to ask, “They probably think they can be good without going to Mass, right?” Nine times out of ten, they nod knowingly.

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