Pastoral Sharings: "32th Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessageHomily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
November 9, 2014 

Today we are commemorating two different occasions. Firstly, today is kept as Remembrance Sunday in Britain and many Commonwealth countries. And so we call to mind those who lost their lives in the two World Wars and in the many other conflicts since then. It is appropriate that we keep alive the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might live our lives free from tyranny. We should not forget that, while war is something to be avoided whenever possible, it is also important that certain God-given values should be defended at all costs. So it is fitting that we pay tribute to those who gave their lives in these conflicts. But it is also our earnest prayer that future generations may live their lives in an atmosphere of peace and trust between nations.

If the Gospel means anything at all, it means the avoidance of war and the promotion of peace and mutual understanding. With the unforgettable words of Christ “Blessed are the peacemakers” in mind, we also pay tribute to those who work for the promotion of peace in the world of today. It is good to see with us today the Scouts and Guides who are marking Remembrance Day together with the parish; it is always nice to have them with us. We feel proud that our young people belong to such worthy organisations which are dedicated to peace and to the furtherance of all that is good.

With their many indoor and outdoor activities the Scouts and Guides aim to help their members to achieve success in all sorts of practical areas of life and so help our boys and girls to become good citizens and truly fulfilled human beings. The second occasion we are commemorating today is the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. Now you might think that this is a rather peculiar feast to be keeping since most other feasts are directly connected to Christ or to one or other of the Saints. So it is rather unique in that it marks the dedication of a Church, albeit the oldest Church in the West. Many people think that the Pope’s Cathedral is the Basilica of St Peter, but in fact his Cathedral is the Basilica of St John Lateran where the Popes resided for almost a thousand years. But this is no ordinary Church for it is generally regarded as the mother of all the Churches. For a thousand years it was also the principal residence of the Popes and the seat of the administration of the Church.

This was interrupted when the Popes moved to Avignon in 1309. When the Popes returned to Rome eighty years later St John Lateran was in disrepair and so they took up residence in the palazzo next to St Peter’s at the Vatican. St John Lateran, however, is still today the administrative headquarters of the Diocese of Rome and the residence of the Cardinal Vicar of Rome. And most importantly it still remains the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. One could say that when you get down to essentials any Church building is just bricks and mortar and this would be technically correct.

After all, the real Church, the one that counts, is the body of Christ’s faithful. It is we who are the Church. The Church then is not made from stone but from you and me and the countless other Christians spread throughout the world. That said; the building still plays a key role; for the building is the place where we gather for the liturgy and most importantly for the Eucharist. It is a place that we do not use for merely secular activities because it is dedicated exclusively to the sacred actions of God’s holy people. The Church building is therefore a real visible symbol of that much greater Church which is the Body of Christ. The building is a living sign of the unity of the Church. The building is the sacred place where God’s people gather to hear his Word and worship his holy name. It is appropriate that we have the story of the Cleansing of the Temple as the Gospel text for today’s feast.

This reminds us to keep the Church pure and free from earthly things. The eyes of the Church must always be on heaven. It must never become over concerned with its place in society or with material things. The Church must serve its master Jesus Christ and the best way for us to do this is to follow his example. We must defend the poor from injustice; we must bring healing and comfort to the sick; we must groom ourselves for holiness; we must proclaim the truth in love. And these things are not merely things we do together as Church. These are what we must also do individually; for while the Church is the community of Christians it is also something contained within us. We are, each one of us, temples of God. Our very bodies are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. That is why we treat the body of someone who has died with such respect and dignity.

The Church is the building, the Church is the Body of Believers and the Church is within us. But the Church is also all around us because the Saints also remain part of the Church—the Church Triumphant as we call them. In the I Confess we pray: I ask blessed Mary, ever Virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God. When we say these words what we are doing is calling on the whole Church to pray for us, the Church in heaven and the Church on earth. The Church is therefore a seamless robe uniting in worship its members in heaven and on earth.

This means that the Church is no mere human institution; it is the creation of God himself and is an integral part of his plan for the salvation of the world. It is therefore, by its very nature, holy. Sometimes we don’t play our part, sometimes we members of the Church act in a way that is inconsistent with that holiness—whether we are clergy or laity. Sometimes we drag the Church down and give it a bad reputation. And all of us need to examine our consciences in this regard. But the Church always recovers and it will endure till the end of time. And as Christ’s will that all will be saved is gradually realised the Church will come more and more into its own. We thank God that we have been drawn into the Church. We thank God for the role we have been given to bring Christ to the world, to be his ambassadors to the people of this area. We praise God for the Church he has created and uses to bring to fulfillment his Kingdom.

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
November 9, 2014

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica—November 9, 2014
As we celebrate the dedication of a church in Rome (St. John Lateran), built thousands of years ago and thousands of miles away, what exactly are we celebrating?

Gospel (Read Jn 2:13-22)

If we are pondering the question posted above, we will find that each of our readings offers a unique contribution to its answer. Once we have read them all, we will see the summary of their teachings stated most eloquently in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. May all of us be helped by this today.

Dedication of St. John Lateran: We Are Church
In the first three hundred years of its existence the Church was persecuted throughout the world.  The persecution was somewhat sporadic.  Sometimes, the Roman authorities would close their eyes to Christians, not bothering with them.  Other times they would only persecute Christians if an individual Christian was denounced by someone. Quite often, the  Emperors, such as Domitian and Diocletian, would declare that all Christians had to be found and put to death.

Are Catholics Saved?
Beth Haile always writes excellent posts, and I benefit a great deal from reading them. I particularly enjoy her commentaries on the lectionary. In her most recent commentary, Haile recounts a story that her priest told during his homily. The story involves an encounter with an “Evangelical” Christian. Haile describes her reaction to the story as follows: 

The Forgotten Church: 5 Reasons to Pray for the Souls in Purgatory
“Purgatory shows God’s great mercy and washes away the defects of those who long to become one with Him.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

When is the last time you heard a homily on purgatory? If your parish is like most, it’s been a very long time. Getting more personal, when is the last time you prayed for the Holy Souls? If you’re like many Catholics, the answer is not recently. The souls in purgatory are too often forgotten by Catholics, and I fear this is often out of a misguided desire not seem medieval (as if that were a bad thing), superstitious, or worse yet, ecumenically insensitive.

When Souls in Purgatory Return from the Dead
We don’t hear a lot about Purgatory these days and that’s a shame because most of us will be very lucky to slip in there rather than dropping straight into hell. And lest anyone complain that God is mean or judgmental in sending people to hell, it is well to remember that it’s entirely our own doing, having used the gift of free will to tell God “Nah, I won’t” or more often today “MEH.”

A Crash Course on Purgatory (Or Why You Should Care about Purgatory)
I’ve been in jail more times than I’d like to count, and certainly more times than I intended.   I’ve forgotten the names and faces of incarcerated clients, but I remember vividly the feeling of walls on every corner of a cell entombing me, the menacing glint of ankle cuffs, the fwoosh of an airtight door sealing the silent screams in my head, and the stench of urine mixing with un-showered detainees. Every visit, I trembled with anxiety because it jolted me aware of a human being trapped by the consequences of a crime, waiting powerlessly for the wheels of justice to turn, and entrusting their freedom to my mercy.  Jail visits made me painfully aware of a Catholic dogma that I once took for granted: purgatory.

Ten Ways to Prepare for a Holy Death
The most important moment in our life is the very moment that we die. This will determine our destiny for all eternity. Either we will be saved or damned. Either we will be with God for all eternity or we will be lost for all eternity. The best way for all of us to have a holy death is to right now and until we die prepare for a holy and happy death. Hopefully these short but poignant ten sign posts can help you to make the right decisions so that when you die the Lord Jesus will be your Savior waiting to open up the eternal gates of Heaven to receive you!

Cultivate a spirit of prayer
Prayer should be the breath of your soul. Conscious of your human weakness, and trusting in God’s power, goodness, and fidelity, you should constantly turn to Him in prayer. Pray in the morning when you arise, offering the day to Him and ask­ing His blessing. Turn to Him often during the course of the day with short but fervent prayers, such as these:

A post Satan did not want published? But Here it is anyway: In These Dark Days, the Church Needs Her Men to be Men
This is a post that Satan apparently did not like. When I posted it last Thursday, the Server of the Archdiocese (literally) burnt up within an hour or two of posting. And while things are slowly coming back online, the post you are about to read could not be found in the archive file, anywhere. Thanks be to God some intrepid readers (at had saved the post which I had not had time to back up. So here is a post that I suspect Satan did not want you to read. But the devil is a liar and God is able.

Becoming a Committed Catholic Man
There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it.

This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating decay of the post-modern culture. The long list of examples of cultural decay is obvious to those willing to look: industrialized slaughter of babies in the womb; the self-sterilization of contraceptives; epidemic promiscuity, pornography and sexual perversion; the avoidance of marriage; rampant divorce and adultery; so-called “marriage” of homosexuals; substance addictions; gender confusion; filth and coarseness in media; the loss of a connection to nature and escape into virtual “reality”; environmental exploitation; rampant materialism; the lost of the dignity of work; racial animas; commercialized gluttony; the dysfunctional political and legal system. Post-modern society is sick.

Beads for Men
“The rosary is for old ladies and funerals! The rosary is not for me. I’m a man!” Yes, I was one of those knuckleheads who felt I was way too cool, too macho for anything as quaint as the rosary. It took the Holy Spirit shaking me to my core during an ACTS retreat to finally conclude that “Mother knows best.” I finally learned, and was ultimately led, to a relentless and happy journey to pray the rosary daily and to love Mary freely.

The Sign From Which Demons Flee
In the midst of the tumultuous 4th century, God raised up a smart and holy priest from the church of Alexandria, Athanasius. Near the beginning of his long career of defending the orthodoxy of the Church, he wrote a little book, On the Incarnation, vigorously defending the core truths of the Gospel: the divinity of Christ, the humanity of Christ, the logic of the cross, the historicity of the resurrection, etc.

There’s one argument that Athanasius makes for the Christian faith that is very peculiar, at least to our modern ears.

Why Did Christ Humble Himself in the Face of Evil?
Earlier this week we read the magnificent Hymn from Philippians which sings of the Humility of Jesus:

    Have among yourselves the same attitude
    that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
    Who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    something to be grasped.
    Rather, he emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    coming in human likeness;
    and, found human in appearance,
    he humbled himself,
    becoming obedient to death,
    even death on a cross. (Phil 2:5-8)

Apostolic Maturity
Apostolic Maturity Presence of God – Your love, O my God, matures my soul and renders it capable of giving itself fully to the service of souls.


We may ask if the apostle can devote himself freely to the apostolate when he has reached the degree of union with God in which the flame of zeal bursts forth spontaneously. The fact is that, at this point, he cannot and should not evade the gift of self. Whether he is consecrated to contemplation or to action, whether he lives in the cloister or in the midst of the turmoil of the world, his life consists henceforth in giving himself unceasingly: in giving himself to God for the good of his neighbor, in giving himself to his neighbor for the glory of God.

Men, Honor Your Wives
Marriage is in trouble everywhere, with over half of marriages ending in divorce. That’s why the just-completed Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family was so timely.

Our culture, so influenced by Hollywood and materialism, has set about creating a society that no longer values marriage and the family, but which glorifies selfishness and greed and offers false idols to worship instead of God.

Being One, Holy and Catholic
Several rolling, rural counties of Northeastern Ohio are home to the largest Amish community in the world. Ohioans are very accustomed to passing by buggies, bicyclists, plain white houses with black and purple laundry on the line, and horses — hundreds of horses, who do the work in this idyllic area.

Stopping by a farm stand on the way to my mother’s home in Ashland, I am immediately in another world, where a fresh-faced girl with a bonnet, no buttons, and bare feet offers me fresh vegetables, cinnamon buns, pies, and a welcome in her clipped German-accented dialect. We talk about the weather, the fine-looking kale, and prices. She is a part of this world, but mostly apart from it. Her faith makes her holy in the true sense of the word, setting her and her people apart for God.

Is it really a mortal sin to skip Sunday Mass?
Pope Innocent XI has condemned the following proposition: “The precept of keeping Holy Days is not obligatory under pain of mortal sin, aside from scandal, if contempt is absent.” (4 March 1679)

Thus, it is the teaching of the Catholic Church, that it is always a mortal sin intentionally to skip Mass on Sunday or on a Holy Day without a serious reason. Catholics are obligated to attend Mass either on Sunday itself, or on the Saturday evening before.

If a Person Commits Suicide, Is He Automatically Lost?
Suicide is a delicate and disturbing subject.

After the recent suicide of Brittany Maynard, many people are discussing it, and some are asking perennial questions, like whether those who commit suicide are automatically lost.

While suicide can be a mortal sin, it is not always one, and the Church both prays for those who have committed suicide and encourages us not to despair of their salvation.

Here is a video in which I discuss the subject.

I Don’t Like the Rosary–6 Reasons I Pray It Anyway
A few months ago I went to confession at a conference where I was speaking and made the mistake of wearing my nametag into the confessional. Now, I’m not terribly concerned that Father would connect my name with my sins–it’s not like there’s anything he could do about it if he did. But my nametag identified me as a speaker at the conference, which evidently gave him the idea that I was serious about holiness because he gave me a rosary for my penance.

You read that right. A whole rosary.

Rather than working against one another, faith and science together offer a fuller picture of creation
“What do I do if science tells me one thing but religion tells me another thing? Which do I believe?”

There’s a false assumption at the center of that question, because neither science nor religion are about believing in “things.”

Our religious belief is not in a “thing,” but in a person — indeed, three persons. Our faith is in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as described and identified in the creed, and in the Church that leads us to those persons.

Prayer, Science, and the Existence of God
Can science find God? If God is defined as a being (or perhaps “the ground of being”) that is neither composed of matter nor confined to a spatial location, then the answer seems to be no. After all, science is limited to explaining the natural, physical world. If God exists beyond that world and is not composed of anything found within it, then he seems to be out of the reach of scientific inquiry.

But even if science can’t “find” God in the same way I can find my car in a parking lot, maybe it can indirectly find him. After all, if God affects the physical world, then couldn’t scientific experiments detect those effects and then infer from them that God exists?

Ghosts and the Catholic Church: Pointing to the Permanence of the Soul
Do you believe in ghosts?

You may be surprised to find out which Church Fathers and doctors did and which didn’t.

What’s clear is that, whether or not many Americans believe in ghosts, many clearly want to. Television and film are crowded with stories about ghosts and the supernatural. “Ghost hunter” reality-TV shows proliferate, producing no evidence to prove the reality of ghosts beyond a lot of grainy, green night-vision footage of people acting scared of the dark. Almost everyone has heard someone tell of an encounter that he or she cannot explain.

The enduring reality of evil
The headline on a recent Washington Post Op-Ed about the rise of the Islamic State proclaimed “The Return of Evil.” Although one was tempted to reply that evil never went away, the headline writer had a point — the post-Cold War 1990s in the United States were indeed marked by naïve optimism that the era of conflict had ended and the world could now look forward to universal peace, prosperity and democratic governance: the end of history, in other words.

As we now see all too clearly, and should have realized all along, the persistence of evil is an enduring reality in human affairs. The reason is simple. Evil has its immediate source in the human heart. And how are we to respond to that in light of the Gospel?

The Devil’s Favorite Word
How often do older generations say the word ‘awkward?’ Not that often, right? Okay, how often do Millenials say the word ‘awkward?’ All the time.

Why do we find more things in life ‘awkward?’

Maybe part of the explanation has to do with alienation and community breaking down. We live surrounded by lifeless stuff and live less and less in the context of nature and human beings. People may be in the background, but rarely do we dwell with others. …more

The Bible You Don’t Know: The Story of the Septuagint
It was some six decades after the death of Alexander the Great and more than two centuries before the birth of Christ.

One of the world’s greatest libraries—ever—was seeking new titles. It already had more than two hundred thousand of them, but there was one glaring omission: the Torah of the Hebrews. And the king of Alexandria badly wanted it. His orders to his librarian essentially amounted to: spare no expense in getting it.

So begins the epic story of the Septuagint, the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into ancient Greek, as told in the ancient letter of Aristeas, supposedly a royal court official, to his brother.

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