Education leads us to God

Last week, we went on a parish pilgrimage to Pilsen, KS. While we were there, we heard a talk on Fr. Kapaun’s life growing up, we learned about the miracles associated with him, and I was able to celebrate Mass on the High Altar that Fr. Kapaun would have used. It was a great day!

During the talk about Fr. Kapaun’s life, we heard that he would walk three miles to school and three miles back every day, and this was after doing all sorts of chores on the farm. At school, the teachers recognized that he was a sharp student. He was diligent in his studies, and it showed. Even when he went to school, the faith that his parents had taught them was very important to him. If the teachers ever lost track of him at recess, they would just go check the church and find him there.

As school is starting, all sorts of thoughts are swirling around in my mind, and they are all coming to the same conclusion: education, to truly be education, must lead us to God. When I was preparing for my talk at the Open House, I was playing around with the Latin word “duc”. Most of the time, the word “duc” means “lead.” It’s the root of many words, the most obvious being, perhaps, “duke.” Much more interesting to me, though, is that the word “educate” is a descendant of the word “duc.” The Latin components of the words literally translate as “to lead out.”

To lead out of what? When we educate, where are we leading one another?

When we look at the example of Fr. Kapaun, we can see where education must lead us: to God. God is the one who created us, who gave us the gift of reason, who gave us curiosity, who gave us the ability to wonder. He did not give us these gifts so that we would hide them. The true situation is quite the opposite, in fact. God wants us to look up at the stars and experience wonder at the cosmos. God wants us to be curious and ask, “how does that happen?” God wants us to think through a problem, even if we already know the answer, so that we can understand why. God wants us to recognize that he created us out of love and wants us to be happy with him, in heaven, forever.

Education leads us out of ourselves so that we might experience the universe God created in all its beauty, so that we can answer some of those questions we ponder every day, so that we can recognize that my true fulfillment comes not from myself, but from another. Education leads us out of ourselves, through wonder and curiosity, into knowledge. Not just book knowledge. Knowledge of reading and writing, history and science, mathematics and religion, all are important, but beyond that, we must have knowledge of life. We can learn in so many ways. We can learn through prayer about God and our relationship with him. We can learn through practice how to play a piano or to tie a knot. We can learn about the beauty of the stars by looking up at the night sky. We must learn in these many ways, because it is through all of ourselves and all of our knowledge—practical and theoretical—that we learn to experience God in all his glory.

Fr. Matt celebrating Mass at St. John Nepomucene in Pilsen, KS.

One of the ways Fr. Kapaun learned was by looking at the statues of saints and the windows in his parish church St. John Nepomucene. He is the most prominent saint in the whole church, placed at the top of the high altar. Looking at that statue every day, then-little Emil Kapaun learned that a priest would rather die than violate the seal of the confessional, because that is why St. John Nepomucene gave his life. Rather than betray the seal of confession as the king demanded him, he accepted torture and death by drowning instead. When we look around our church here at Blessed Sacrament, we can learn about the Gospels in the windows, we can learn about Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and the Divine Mercy of Christ.

None of us can afford to stop learning. There is so much in this universe that is interesting and fascinating if we open our eyes and look for it. For example, even if we already know the stories in our church windows, we can always ponder their meaning and how they can teach me in my life right now. We must always keep learning: Learning helps us grow closer to God. We must help those around us learn, because Christ taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Every day we are given the opportunity to wonder at the beauty of God. Let us take inspiration from Fr. Kapaun, and when we get a chance, let’s not be afraid to steal away marvel at God.

Pray like Jesus

I just finished reading Personal Prayer: A Guide for Receiving the Father’s Love. I don’t want to admit how long it took me to finish this book, but in it I found some great insights and a few reminders about prayer.

The first and most important thing that we must always remember is that prayer is always about relationship with God. God has invited us into relationship with him, and prayer is our response to that invitation. We see this exemplified perfectly in Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is God, takes time away regularly in the Gospels to pray. The Gospel writers never hide this. They tell us that Jesus went away to pray, especially when something huge was going on. Jesus, the Son of God, did not need to pray to maintain his relationship to God the Father. The relationship between the two of them drew Jesus to prayer.

As we grow closer to God in our own prayer, we will find something similar happening in our lives. In our prayer, we put in the effort to grow closer to God. It is very challenging at times. To truly grow closer to God, we must grow in humility and vulnerability. We humbly recognize that God is God, and I am not. Through our humility, often a painfully challenging virtue to learn, we can then be vulnerable to God. Our humility before God reminds us that he has the answers and we do not, so the smartest thing we can ever do is bring them to him so that God can heal us. We can present him with those dark corners in our hearts, those dark corners that we really don’t want to admit to anybody—sometimes not even ourselves. This is not fun. It is hard.

True change is never easy, but that is exactly what happens when we bring our vulnerabilities to God in silent prayer. We entrust ourselves, our futures, and our souls to God, knowing that he will never hurt us. Remember what Christ said, “Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:9-11)

There is so much more in this book that I could share, but I will save it for another article. In Ephesians today, Paul writes, “So be imitators of God, as beloved children.” When we were baptized, we became the children of God. We must imitate him in his love and generosity. If we ever wonder what imitating God looks like, we can go straight to the source and look at the example of Jesus Christ. He brought all of himself to the Father in prayer. We should strive to do the same.

St. Cyril of Alexandria writes that “Prayer is happy company with God.”

May we strive to keep that happy company.

Letting the silence move your heart

A year or so before I entered seminary, I was getting more involved at my home parish in Wichita. One day the gentleman who was in charge of the Adoration Chapel over there, asked me if I’d be interested in taking an hour for him.

My (naïve and overly-optimistic) response, “Sure, what hour do you need filled the most?”

“2am Friday morning.”

“OK…”

I could tell all sorts of stories about my 2am hour. There were the times I got pulled over by the police. (When they asked where I was going, I said “Church, to pray for an hour, you can come too if you want.” Fun fact: I found something you can say that does surprise a police officer!) There were the times I almost didn’t wake up in time. There were the times I sat down and promptly “rested my eyes”… for 45 minutes.

But despite the occasional hiccup or craziness, most of my Friday mornings passed without anything unusual happening. A few weeks into my 2am commitment, I had a good routine for Thursday nights so I wasn’t super tired during my adoration hour, and I began to truly enjoy the time with God. There is simply something different about the world at 2am. You can guess the obvious things: no traffic, not a lot of noise, it’s dark. But describing those mornings in that way never felt right. I never felt that such descriptions did that adoration hour justice. The world “silence” came close to describing the experience, but even that didn’t seem sufficient. I never could find the word to describe that hour on Friday mornings.

It wasn’t until six months into seminary that I stumbled across a word to describe what I felt those mornings in the adoration chapel. I began to read the book Meditations before Mass by Romano Guardini. He begins his book by meditating on stillness, writing:

When Holy Mass is properly celebrated there are moments in which the voices of both priest and faithful become silent. The priest continues to officiate as the rubrics indicate, speaking very softly or refraining from vocal prayer; the congregation follows in watchful, prayerful participation. What do these intervals of quiet signify? What must we do with them? What does stillness really imply?

Later, he writes:

It implies above all that speech end and silence prevail […] People are often heard to say: “But I can’t help coughing” or “I can’t kneel quietly”; yet once stirred by a concert or lecture they forget all about coughing and fidgeting. […] Stillness is the tranquility of the inner life, the quiet at the depth of its hidden stream. It is a collected, total presence, a being all there, receptive, alert, ready. There is nothing inert of oppressive about it.

This meditation moved my heart and gave me the word I had been seeking for years. Stillness is the word for the world at 2am from the perspective of the Adoration Chapel. There is nothing going on. The noises are gone. You can finally focus on the one person that matters: Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

I have not yet mastered stillness in Adoration or while at Mass, but the pursuit of stillness allows for a tranquility of heart that has been vital to my life. I know where to go when I’m in trouble, need help, am anxious, whatever. More accurately, I know to whom I must go. No matter where I am, whether I’m saying Mass with a lot of exuberant children, standing in the middle of an airport where everyone is on edge because the flight is late, waiting at the bedside of someone who will soon be going to their eternal reward, I can always go back to those moments of stillness and remember who is there to save all of us and who I am meant to bring into the situation. I am meant to join Christ in making his love incarnate. (This is one of the reasons I love Christmas so much: despite the excitement of the season, I feel a great stillness when I am at Christmas Mass celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.)

It took me a long time to understand what happened to me at those 2am Adoration hours on Friday mornings, but my encounter with Christ in Eucharistic Adoration was a school of interior stillness which has been a source of grace and peace for years.

Sacraments and Stewardship

When I talk about stewardship, I often think of the “time, talent, and treasure” formula that people my age grew learning in Wichita Catholic schools. More recently, the diocese has recognized that stewardship is “the grateful response of a Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.” We can easily apply this definition to our time, talent, and treasure: After we focus our attention, we recognize the vast multitude of gifts we receive from God every day.

When we try to apply that definition of stewardship to the rest of our lives, though, it gets a little harder. Time, talent, and treasure give us a nice, clean workspace. But if we limit our stewardship to these categories, we run the risk of getting ourselves stuck in a box. In reality, the entirety of our life is a gift from God. The only worthy response is to give ourselves entirely over to God. We can’t settle for just giving God one hour of my Sunday. That’s only 0.6% of the week, for those who are counting. We can’t kid ourselves into thinking that we are giving ourselves back to God by throwing a few bucks in the collection and helping with some charitable activity every once in a while.

Our gift to God must have deeper roots. God demands and desires to be present in our lives at every moment of every day. St. Paul wasn’t joking when he said, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess 5:17) He truly intends for us to lift ourselves to God at every moment of every day. In order to do this, God must be a constant companion in our hearts. His love must be the source of all our action.

This love starts and is nourished by the sacraments. In Baptism, we are reborn into the life and light of Christ. In Confirmation, we receive the love of the Holy Spirit who gives us the strength and courage to spread and defend our faith. In the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith (Lumen Gentium no. 11), we receive the love of God in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, and allow Him to transform us into the people he created us to be.

Because these sacraments are the source of God’s love in our daily life, we should take great care as Catholics to ensure we do our best to make use of them. Going to Confession regularly, participating at Mass, and following our vocational call to marriage, the religious life, or the priesthood are ways we are stewards of the life that God has given us, because we are returning to God to allow him to live more deeply within us. One of the major points of the council fathers of Vatican II was for the faithful to recognize the incredible importance of the gift of the sacraments and liturgies of the Church. In Sacrosanctum Concilium, they wrote “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations.” (no. 14)

We are bound together by our common worship of God, in which we recognize that all we have been given—our life, our time on this earth, and the salvation won by Christ—is a gift from God. At Mass, we receive this gift, share it with those around it, and offer the depths of ourselves to God in return. The sacraments are where stewardship begins. The Mass is where we learn how to practice stewardship and are gathered as a community to share the love of God. Let us not be afraid to share our gifts in service of the liturgy, whether as readers, servers, ushers, musicians, the faithful gathered in worship, or, for some of us, perhaps as a priest.

For the Greater Glory of God,

Fr. Matt

“Don’t care how. I want it now!”

Veruca Salt, in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, summed up the last decade way back in 1971. Personally, I find it extremely amusing that this movie is available from all the “On Demand” type services, or if I simply must have the 4k Blu-ray, Amazon can get it to me tomorrow.

More and more, we are only content when we get exactly what we want and when we get it now. It’s not just merchandise and movies. We want policy changes in the government now. We want to lose 40 pounds now. (Well, in my case, it’s a little more than 40!) We want an answer to our email/text/phone call/letter now.

Having everything now is not good for us. Our culture’s gospel of immediacy is also a gospel of impatience and, often, vain materialism. There are many ways we can fight these unhealthy tendencies.

One great way is to pick a day every week to do a digital fast. On that day, you’d only use your phone, tablet, and computer for calls, texts, emails, and whatever you’re required to do for work. A digital fast means not getting on social media, avoiding YouTube, Netflix, and all of that. It’s a day to take a step out of the immediacy of modernity and back into a place where we can rest and be in relationship with one another. Let’s be honest: it is much more fulfilling to spend a few hours talking, eating, or doing some sort of activity with a friend than to watch a movie with them, and both are more fulfilling than spending three hours on Facebook or Twitter. Fridays would be a great day to do this digital fast. The Church still calls on us to make some sort of sacrifice every Friday. While not eating meat is an option outside of Lent, another great option is a digital fast.

Why is a digital fast so effective against all these things? Social media, while it can connect, also promotes a strange sort of vanity where self-worth is quantified by “likes.” Online shopping, while it makes all sorts of things more accessible, makes it easy to fall into materialistic tendencies where our self-worth is quantified by “stuff.” Online video, games, and all of that, while they entertain, often gives us an escape from our surroundings so that we can withdraw from reality and completely lose ourselves. All of these things show us that results are possible right now, and they give us the illusion that we are in control of our immediate future.

When we break the stranglehold that our digital culture has on us, we start to recognize how unrealistic and unsustainable our instant-fulfillment culture is. We begin to recognize the beauty of the people around me. We can see that it is not always a big deal if something takes a little while—that sometimes the best things are the ones you wait for.

In the peace of Christ, who made the sloth too,

Fr. Matt

we’re the birds

God tells us today, through his prophet Ezekiel, that he will take a tender shoot from the highest branches of a cedar tree and plant it in the mountains of Israel, making a home for birds of every kind and every sort of winged thing. Christ also mentions a tree to us today, a tree which grows large enough so that all the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade. When we read such things, it is tempting to think we are somehow related to the seeds or the trees. For example, we can understand the mustard seed as a seed of faith planted in our hearts so that virtue, represented by the birds, may find shelter in our souls. This is, certainly, a good way to understand the parable. When we put the parable into a greater Biblical context, I think a somewhat different reality emerges: We are the birds.

Credit: El Golli Mohamed, via Wikimedia Commons

We human beings love to do things. We like to build stuff. (Unless we are 3 year old boys, in which case we like to destroy stuff.) We like to be able to say, “I did that!” and maybe slap our name on the thing. It is no different in our spiritual lives. We like to claim that we are in control. That our hard efforts at prayer and asceticism led to us being good Christians. While this is, to an extent, true, we must recognize one very important thing: We are the birds. We aren’t in control. And that’s OK. God has provided a place for us to find refreshment and rest from our labors. He invites us to stay and make our home with him in the shady branches he has provided for us. The tree is the Kingdom of God, and we are invited to live there.

When we look at what God spoke through Ezekiel, we learn that the topmost branch of the cedar refers to the King of Israel. When God says he will take from the crest of the cedar and plant it on the highest mountain in Israel, (New Jerusalem Bible) he is undoubtedly giving us a glimpse of Calvary, where Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One, was planted on Calvary. God tells us that this cedar he has planted shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar. From Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary, the Church gushed forth from his wounded side, and she spread through all the world, giving refuge to all the poor ones suffering from the tyranny of evil and sin. God finishes his speech through Ezekiel by saying I, the LORD, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom. God wants us to remember that he is in control, no matter what the political powers of this world might want us to think. Our trust belongs in God.

While we are still on this earth, though, we do not see God clearly, and it can be hard to trust him. Many things block our sight of God; so, we must walk by faith. St. Paul exhorts us to be courageous, and we certainly must be courageous. The Christian life is not easy. We stumble and fall constantly. Sometimes we fall flat on our face and lose the way entirely. We must pray always, asking God to show us the way and to have the strength to continue following him. No matter what sin we fight every day, we must bring it to prayer, surrender it to God, and ask for his help in finding our way back to him. For mortal sins, we bring them to confession so that the gaping wound in our soul can be sewn up and healed.

As we work to find our shelter in the Kingdom of God, let us also remember one more thing about birds. Birds help to scatter the seeds as well. As Christians, we are called to take the Good News and bring it to those around us, so that the Kingdom of God might grow. Most of us do this within our marriages. The love of spouses should be an image of the love of God: fruitful and beautiful. There are many, though, called to spread the Good News in a different way. Those of us called to religious life or to the priesthood are called to love just as fruitfully and beautifully. No matter what your vocation, do no be afraid to follow God. Do not let society deter you. If we follow society, we’ll find ourselves in a dead tree with no shade and recognize that we’re just a whole bunch of angry crows.

Instead, let God be in control. Fly into the branches of his kingdom. Let God lead you to his lush garden, full of beauty and peace.

Cedars of Lebanon from Wikimedia Commons

Today’s Readings:
June 13, 2021
Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:25-34

quick update

I wanted to put out a quick note, since I haven’t been able to post much on here lately.

I do still plan to start updating my site with more resources and helpful materials, and I also plan to continue posting homilies. My intention is for this material to come from the texts I write for these various things. For example: If I were to write a homily, it would get posted after some minor editing. If I were to give a talk on the Eucharist, I would have an outline of the talk. When I get a chance to fill in the outline, I would post it here.

This has all had to take a bit of a back seat. Due to circumstances beyond my control, ministerial demands have required me to focus on in-person things more than online things. Hopefully, as things stabilize, I will be able to start updating my site a little more regularly.

In the meantime, the one thing I’m going to try very hard to keep up to date is the homily podcast.

Thanks.

the destiny of sheep

Today we hear the beautiful Gospel of the Good Shepherd who does not flee from the wolves but is prepared to lay down his life for the sheep. Many, if not most, of us who read this see it as a call to be like the Good Shepherd, to stand fast in the face of evil and protect those around us. That is, perhaps, one of the many things Jesus wants to take from this parable, but I believe that we are missing the rather obvious point if that’s what we take away from today’s Gospel. That so-obvious-we-often-miss-it point? We are the sheep. Christ says, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16) Israel was the original flock, and we are the sheep that belonged to another fold. Christ came to add us to his flock. We are the sheep who will hear his voice and unite as one flock with one shepherd. Well… We are the sheep, unless we have chosen to follow Satan and become one of the wolves.

Jesus Christ is the one and only Good Shepherd. If we follow anyone else, we are not in safe hands. We must follow the voice of the one who conquered death. We hear in the Easter Sequence “Death with life contended: // combat strangely ended! // Life’s own Champion, slain, // yet lives to reign. […] Christ is truly risen // from the dead we know. // Victorious King, Thy mercy show!” (Victimae paschali laudes, ICEL trans.)

The battle of the Good Shepherd against the wolves is already won. The real question is not, “Am I like the Good Shepherd?” but, “Do I follow his voice when I hear it? Do I allow him to protect me?” St. Peter tells us that “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” (Acts 4:12) If we follow Christ’s voice, we will be saved, but if we instead follow the voices of this world, the voices of power, money, carnal pleasure, gender ideology, politics, or whatever else is floating around, then we will not be saved. We will become one of the wolves who scatter and capture, dragging others down to hell with us.

God has bestowed his love upon humanity and invited us to become his children. When we were baptized, we were given that title: Child of God. We don’t entirely grasp how glorious this is because we don’t grasp the glory of God. We were created in the image and likeness of God. We were adopted as his sons and daughters at our Baptism. Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, came to this earth to call us to himself so that he might save us from the wolves of sin and death. We have been invited to join God in an eternal life of joy after we pass from this earth. This is the destiny to which every one of us are called.

Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete once said, “Our first interest is in our own destiny, and it that is not there, there is no way we can be interested in anything beyond that. To say that, the accusation, the fear will immediately grow in us that I am being selfish. I should first take care of the needs of other people; I should care first more about other people, and then about me. But you cannot care about anyone else unless you care about yourself. […] Christ presents himself as our Redeemer because he rescues, strengthens, safeguards this interest in our destiny.” (Albacete, Culture at the Crossroads (online PDF), pg. 63)

Let us look to the glorious destiny to which we have been called. We are the beloved children of God. We are the sheep protected by the Good Shepherd. “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

Today’s Readings:
April 25, 2021
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18

Do I know Him?

As I prepared for this weekend, a few lines from the second reading, from St. John, kept haunting me:

Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.

This is strong language. St. John does not use the term “liar” lightly. None of the Biblical authors do! These lines forced me to consider a question: “How do we know?” Perhaps, even more pointedly, my heart proposed a question to me: “Do I know Him?”

Let’s start with what “knowing” isn’t: to know is not to understand completely. We will never fully understand God. He is utterly beyond our comprehension. It isn’t just God, though, who we cannot fully comprehend. We will never fully comprehend another human being. We may get to know them, but we won’t fully understand them. If you look at a couple who has been married many years, the spouses can still be surprised by one another. These surprises delight us, because they are not something we expect from that person.

So what does it mean “to know”? When we come to know something or someone, we allow that thing or person to influence our minds and shape how we see the world. Some examples might help understand.

  • When we were young and learned our numbers for the first time, it changed the world for us. We could now count things and understand quantity. Everything became different because we came to know our numbers.
  • Let us go back to that married couple I mentioned. When a person first met his or her spouse, the spouse-to-be was a total mystery. The man and woman did not know each other well. Over the years, though, the spouses come to know one another more and more. As they come to know each other, the way they see the world changes. Their understanding of reality is different, because they know this other person.

When we come to know God, it means that we have allowed him to enter our minds and teach us. We allow him to change how we see the world. As we come to know God, we begin to see the world through his eyes: we see the beauty of creation, and we see the horror of sin.

The process of coming to know things—one could call this the process of education—is a risky process, because it changes us. What is other than us, that which is not us, becomes familiar to us by entering our mind and residing with us in a mental, but real, way. If the process of education doesn’t change us, if we do not change as we come to know things and people, we have learn nothing.

As we come to know God, we can more fully imitate Him and love Him. We experience his love more fully, because we know it better. We have seen it. Because we have seen God’s love, we can then love those around us more freely, because we have learned how to do it from God. We seek to know God so that we may fulfill the deep desire in our hearts: to love and to be loved.

But is this all even possible. Is knowing, as we are called to do, even possible?

Some deny it is possible to know anything. This lens of doubt and suspicion started at least as far back as Descartes, and is the core of many modern philosophies. If it isn’t possible to know anything, if there is nothing outside of me that can change me, that can alter how I see the world, then the logical approach in life would be to do whatever is best for me.

Some deny that it is possible to know anything beyond the material. This reductionist view of the universe takes away the beauty of our humanity! If it were true, things such as beauty and love become chemical byproducts of our bodies. How sad would that be if it were true? To deny our ability to know beyond the material results not only in a denial of truth, but in a reduction of our desire. If we believe there is nothing beyond this life, then slowly, over time, we will lose our very human desire to survive death and seek the infinite.

The ability to know is at the core of our humanity: it is by knowing the other that we fulfill the most basic human desire: to see and to be seen by another. Look at Adam in the Garden of Eden. Until he knew and was known by Eve, he was not fulfilled. Until he could love and be loved, know and be known, see and be seen,—all of these are different faces of the same action—he was not fulfilled.

In our world, knowing the other is a very challenging thing to do, because something quite sinister gets in the way: sin. To repent from sin helps us to see the other more clearly. It removes the gunk in our eyes and in our minds that clouds our perceptions of the world. Sin clogs our vision. Lust, for example, prevents us from seeing the value of the other. When we lust for power, for money, for people, it means that we want to take something which not us and possess it. It is a desire to make things a part of myself so I no longer have to admit my weakness, so I no longer have to admit that I need someone other than myself for my fulfillment. We could do a similar analysis with each of the seven deadly sins.

Christ suffered the effects of sin and conquered them so that we could convert our lives, repent, and follow him. When we repent and turn back to him, our vision is slowly cleared, the clouds lift. The Sacrament of Confession is a very important part of this process. We are all witnesses to the Resurrection of Christ who conquered sin and made it possible to repent, to convert, to not only to know each other but to know God. Christ showed us how our deepest desire will be fulfilled. We can love and be loved infinitely and forever. This love can conquer death itself.

At the beginning of Lent, we were told to repent and believe in the Gospel. Let us continue to convert our lives and follow Christ, so we might experience the glorious knowledge of the Resurrection.

Today’s Readings:
April 18, 2021
Third Sunday of Easter, Year B
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9; 1 John 2:1-5a; Luke 24:35-48

Remember…

If we dig into the history of worship, way back beyond the coming of Jesus Christ and even farther back than the Old Testament takes us, we see a few trends. We see that human being are innately religious. We see that the first human communities were formed around worship sites to help care for them so that people might come to perform and observe rituals to the gods. If the rituals were not done correctly, the people feared that the now-displeased deity would inflict punishment of some sort upon the people. As a result, a specialized group of people with the knowledge necessary to ensure that rituals were performed correctly developed. This priestly class became the people tasked with mediating between humanity and their gods. The priests were responsible for ensuring that their idols were fed and clothed properly and expected the worshippers to provide the necessary goods and materials to care for their gods.

When we look at the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and his followers, we find something different. Yes, we see holy sites and a specialized class of priests, and on first glance it looks very similar. But the priests act very differently. Our God specifically prohibited the making of images. Our God specifically tells his people that he does not eat the flesh of animals offered to him. The priests of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not there to provide for God. Our worship of God adds nothing to his greatness, but our worship of God is valuable for a very important group of people: us. By worshiping God, we express our desire for his closeness to us and his presence in our life.

In the liturgical celebrations commanded by God in the first reading tonight, the most important command is to remember. God says that This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution. What must we remember? God comes to our aid. When his people cry out to them, he is not a passive observer. This is why he sent his Son: to save us from the mess we got ourselves into. But these things are easy to forget. So we must memorialize these events. We must remember.

The Priesthood of Jesus Christ, in which Fr. Drew and I participate, assists us in remembering God’s love for us. The pinnacle of the worship of our God is the celebration of our Eucharistic Liturgy, and the pinnacle of the priesthood is the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy, which in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church we call Mass. In the Mass, we do this in remembrance of Him by making those events ritually present through the actions of the priest. When we celebrate the Mass, literally make the events of our salvation present, and even more so tonight. Tonight is not simply a night in which we remember the Last Supper. Tonight is the Last Supper. Tonight we do not simply remember Christ feeding his apostles with his Body and Blood. Tonight Christ feeds us with his Body and Blood.

When we receive the Eucharist, we receive God, and we receive his love in our hearts. Love is not a gift that can be hoarded. It must be given. In this great Sacrament of Love, God gives us the ability to love our neighbor. Tonight we are fed with the Body and Blood of God. We share in a Communion of all believers who have been similarly united with God. This is the glory of the Eucharist, a glory which our human senses fail to see. By faith alone can we behold this mystery, which enables us to follow the commands of Christ: to love God and to love our neighbor.

Today’s Readings
April 1, 2021
Thursday of the Lord’s Supper
Exodus 12:1–8, 11–14; Psalm 116:12–13, 15–16bc, 17–18; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; John 13:1–15