Fortnight for Freedom Homily

Fortnight for Freedom 2016

We pray and fast during this Fortnight for Freedom for one precise purpose: that our Church would enjoy the liberty to do the work we need to do, the work our divine Founder has commanded us to do. [Click para leer en español.]

We hear in our Sunday gospel reading how the Lord passed through Samaritan territory on His way to Jerusalem.  The straight way from Galilee passed through lands occupied by the remnants of the northern tribes of the Hebrew people.  Nearly 1,000 years of history had passed since all the children of Jacob had been united in religion and government.  The northern tribes had never accepted Jerusalem as a capital or site for the Temple.

Although Jesus grew up in the north, He belonged to the tribe of Judah, the southern tribe whose land included Jerusalem.  Galilean Jews like Him usually crossed to the east side of the Jordan River to travel south by a safer and more welcoming road, in order to reach the Temple for the annual feasts in Jerusalem.  In other words, they generally took the long way, in order to bypass hostile Samaritan territory.

But for His own mysterious reasons, the Lord decided on this particular trip to take the more direct route, straight through Samaria.  Which meant risking harsh treatment and rejection at the hands of the unsympathetic natives.

Trump-Taco-BowlI think maybe we can relate to the emotions that the Apostles experienced when the Samaritans mistreated them.  It is a particularly painful, agonizing thing to be mistreated when you are a stranger and a sojourner in a land that is not your own.

Anyway, as we read, the Lord would have none of the Apostles’ angry reaction to this.  He insisted that everyone stay focused on the one thing necessary:  to keep moving toward the goal.

Now, honest and good people can disagree about the particulars of immigration policy.  There is no easy prescription for resolving all the problems involved.  But I think we can safely say we find ourselves at a crossroads as a nation.  Will we continue to welcome immigrants?  If we speak about immigrants with fear and defensiveness, we will not prosper.  America has prospered precisely because we have been a country that welcomes Jesus and His companions, when they wander among us as strangers.

Now, maybe we Catholics are just silly idealists on this subject?  After all, here in the halls of the Church, we exercise no border controls at all.  Every baptized person belongs.  Every baptized person belongs.  And any unbaptized person can join our church by receiving Holy Baptism.  There are no other criteria for membership.  If you’re baptized, you’re a member of our church.

As you know, we read the same Sunday readings every three years.  Three summers ago, the US Congress labored through the summer on “immigration reform.”  A lot of people of good will spent a lot of energy—me included—to try to find a solution to the problem of immigrants living in the shadows here in America, utterly unprotected by our laws, because they don’t have certain ‘papers.’

Now, three years later, I think it’s fair to say that we find ourselves in a much, much bleaker situation.

Manhattan New YorkWhat kind of nation are we?  Do we think that two wrongs can make a right?  Is it right to respond to craven acts of violence by defensively imagining that we can seal ourselves off from danger?  If we think deporting immigrants and shutting our borders will keep us safe, we utterly delude ourselves.  The more closed-off and self-centered we try to become as a country, the more violence will find its way to us.

What we need is real faith.  Faith in the sure and loving hand of God.  Over and over again I find myself stunned by the technocratic impulse of these times.  When the shooting happened in Orlando, before the dead were even all identified, much less peacefully buried–before we stopped to pray in silence for the repose of their souls–the shouting about how to “fix” it erupted.

But, before we get all depressed about our political situation, let’s remember this:  Here on earth we have no lasting city.

A whirlwind carried the prophet Elijah from this world up to heaven.  Our Savior, when He walked the earth, had no home in which to lay His head.  He revealed to us what our life here really is:  a pilgrimage.  An arduous journey toward a goal.  All Americans are immigrants, to be sure.  But even more so:  All Christians are emigrants.  We are on our way somewhere else.

We do not see our destination.  We believe in it.  Why can’t we see it?  Why can’t we see the heavenly Jerusalem?  Because it is invisible?  No.  The angels know how brightly that city shines—a million times more splendid than the Manhattan skyline on a starry night.  We can’t see the heavenly homeland now because our eyes do not possess adequate seeing power.  Our minds, that see by faith—our minds perceive reality more comprehensively than our eyes.  That is, provided we live by the Spirit and not by the flesh.

Let’s pray and fast this Fortnight for the freedom to love our neighbors with pure hearts.  In the heavenly Jerusalem, chaste and true love is the very light and air by which everyone sees and breathes.  We pray for our own interior freedom, and we pray for our country, that our laws will always serve the cause of justice, protect the innocent, and foster the peace and tranquility of brotherly love.

18 thoughts on “Fortnight for Freedom Homily

  1. Good one as usual. Please father I sent you an email I really need to know what to do. Thanks God Bless Hope to see you soon!

  2. How about a little parallel with Catholicism , since you brought it up?
    No papers ? -no Baptism, no sacraments
    Anyone can belong? – as long as you go through a process of understanding the faith and committing to its precepts
    and, in the case of Confirmation pledge to defend the faith not murder non-believerss protecting unsuspecting members from attack
    Impedimennts such as divorced and remarried or female and priesthood or diaconate , not taking a Virtual training
    Sacrilegious acts result in separation even excommunication
    Just thinking

    God bless you, I do miss your delivery.

  3. Immigration needs no real change other than securing our borders. This is a life and death real need to preserve our society. We are a land of immigrants. LEGAL immigrants. Not illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants are criminals by being illegal.
    “After all, here in the halls of the Church, we exercise no border controls at all. Every baptized person belongs. Every baptized person belongs. And any unbaptized person can join our church by receiving Holy Baptism. There are no other criteria for membership. If you’re baptized, you’re a member of our church.” SERIOUSLY??? Baptized is all that is require??? What about a belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our Savior? What about the Profession of Faith in the creed? What about the REQUIRED R.C.I.A. before one can be baptized in the church? What about the points brought up by Ms. Masouris? I went through the pain, trouble, time, and danger to get an annulment and now YOU say it was not required??? I wish I could say “bless you” but you have caused great concern that I may be in the wrong place, the wrong parish or church.

  4. I obviously must misunderstanding something, or it is way above my intellect. Therefore, I will concede.

  5. Lois, thanks for chiming in. But I can’t agree with your analogy between the laws of the Church and our current immigration-enforcement regime.

    1) The Church’s laws have one ultimate enforcement mechanism: conscience. We do not have detention centers for people who make sacrilegious communions, removing them by hundreds of miles from their families. We do not have gun-toting ICE officers to arrest Catholics living in invalid marriages who sign up to be lectors, and then put them on planes to another country, with ho hope of returning for a decade or more.

    2) The Church’s laws all proceed from clear principles, they apply to all equally, and, if one presumes the principles are true, they are fair. But our immigration enforcement operation is (by the admission of the people running it!) perfectly arbitrary, selective, and manifestly unfair.

    Thank you to you, too, Mr. bam, for chiming in. Hopefully this distinction will help clear up the misunderstanding.

  6. Well, I have read and reread and reread and I still come up with my original understanding. Ms. Masouris I obviously misunderstood, and that’s ok. But, I still have the same questions for Fr. White. It really concerns me that you, (Fr. White), apparently have no interest in those of your congregation that don’t understand you. Even more so that you won’t respond here or via private email. Very concerning.

  7. Dear Mr. bam,

    When you insult people via an intemperate e-mail, you should not expect a response. You won’t get one from me.

    I think you confuse “misunderstanding” with DISAGREEMENT. I read the first part of your comment above as paranoid and unfair. I do not agree with it.

    Regarding your own personal situation, I can’t really address it, since I don’t know the case. One important concept might be: “membership” DOES NOT EQUAL “full communion.” All baptized persons are members of the Catholic Church. But many are in imperfect communion with Her, for various reasons. One possible reason: a marriage which the Church cannot recognize, at least not without further discernment.

    I hope this is helpful to you.

    Love, Fr. Mark

  8. No Sir,
    I can not say you have been helpful at all. What is paranoid and unfair? I do not confuse misunderstanding with disagreement. I misunderstand Ms. Masouris; I disagree with you. I was not asking you to address my own situation. My situation has been resolved for some time. I was, instead speaking of the broader sense of the requirements of the church being fulfilled. i.e. annulment, R.C.I.A., etc. I was not trying to insult you; honestly, I was rather upset at your confusing article. Confusing to me anyway.

  9. Father Mark,
    Gun toting ICE officers.
    Clearly you have no respect for law enforcement.
    Ive had enough of your one sided comments.
    Like it or not, we live by the laws of this land, don’t like the laws, change them, if you can’t change them, perhaps the Church, starting with ST Andrews can fund legal council for illegal immigrants to file for asylum.
    Visit website, read the news releases, look at the percentage rates 91% arrested have committed crimes, other than being undocumented.
    There are also links on that site of forms for the undocumented to submit for asylum.
    Also visit federal immigration court in Arlington Va, look at the percentage rates of the judges that give the undocumented asylum, if they have not committed any other crimes while here in USA. Their website also provides links to council, forms, FAQ,etc.
    How does a law abiding undocumented person get a drivers license, buy a car, fill out W2 forms, apply for section 8 housing… They buy forged documents, identify theft, usually of someone deceased, they pay underground black market for the documents, Now if caught, are guilty of Fraud.
    Which, will get them deported. oR choose to drive with no license. Are they still law abiding.
    The sad part is, the people who sell them these social security numbers are members of their own country who Are here legally, and taking advantage of them.
    Look within for helping the undocumented, instead of blaming the “gun-toting Police/ICE.
    Knowledge from the streets, make connections with immigration Attorneys, learn what to tell the undocumented Not to do ( identity theft), give them resources, web sites on how to apply for asylum . Quit blaming the gun-toting agents just doing their jobs.
    You have/had parish members who spent whole careers in law enforcement, who struggle with your comments, it’s not all just black & white as you portray in some of your comments. And it appears (to me) you have no intent to understand .
    Just as I don’t understand you at times, such as your photo of your burned Prince RIP songs you posted. Some of the songs, look up the lyrics have fowl suggestive disrespectful words n them, I would not expect a priest to listen to. You apparently see no harm in it, I was and still am confused over that.. Do as I say, not as I do. Double minded.
    I find its above you to attempt conversation with someone who doesn’t agree or struggles to come to a mutual agreement with you.
    I will seek council with another Priest, and not participate in Holy Eucharist until council. And seriously considering going back to being Protestant, as clearly I’m not worthy in some circumstances of being a Devout Catholic, an on going struggle.
    Worked with LEO’s 29 years

  10. Mr. tired,

    I know city police officers and sheriff’s deputies who do not appreciate the way ICE operates. Asylum applicants can wait for years for their cases to be heard, and then get rejected for no apparent reason. The people running the system as it currently operates want it changed, with a path to citizenship opened. But the politics of irrational fear has prevented reform. I don’t blame the officers.

    You can take my words out of context and insult me all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that undocumented immigrants have the same human rights as everyone else. For you or me, a routine traffic stop could result in a fine. For someone undocumented, it could mean separation from spouse and children for years.

    Prince himself expressed regret about his sexually suggestive lyrics. I wrote earlier that I hardly approve of them.

    None of us are worthy of being Catholic. God gives us the privilege as an unmerited gift. I hope you will stay with us.

    Love, Fr. Mark

  11. You know Father, there will always be found a few who “do not appreciate the way ICE operates”. Most of the time; it is because those officers or deputies have limited to no true experience with ICE first hand. The major problem ICE faces; dealing (now) hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and extremely limited funds and resources to deal with them. All thanks to Mr. Obama. I recent investigation by the Senate and released last week into what was truly happening with illegal immigrants found that over 95% were released back into the USA! 95%!! Of that 95% more than 90% were three time convicted criminals of crimes other than immigration violations. Over 2,000 were convicted killers with their victims here in the USA. Dollars, not irrational fear, has prevented any change. Would you like to try living in the border states of Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico and actually see what has happened to the legal citizens from the onslaught of the illegals? I don’t think you would. I have worked the worst of the worst neighborhoods and have witnessed the multitude of problems compounded by the illegal immigrant. Are our own citizens and legal aliens entitled to the protection and resources only after the illegals? Are we to take care of illegals in all manner and form over our own citizens? Are you aware of the term OTM crossing our borders? The term is Other Than Mexican. Yes sir, there is a huge influx of OTM Muslims crossing our open border. Can you imagine who has supplied the money for these middle eastern OTM’s to get to Mexico just to cross into the USA? Do the rising number of killings by “radical violent lone wolf” muslim terrorists in the USA concern you? I have worked in law enforcement for more than thirty years. I don’t appreciate you referring to our ICE officers as “gun toting” any more than you would appreciate priests being referred to as pedophiles. These officers are risking their lives everyday, just like all the other officers, deputies, troopers, and agents in the USA for your protection. They protect your rights, and human rights irregardless of the persons country of origin. Are there occasional bad eggs in the law enforcement community? Of course there are! Just like there is he occasional bad egg in the priest community.
    I’ll take your word for it that Prince expressed regret for his lyrics. I would question what he meant by regret. Irregardless of his regrets and your lack of approval of them; just the fact that you would use them at all shows a tacit approval of them.
    The backlog of cases for illegal immigrants is not as dire as you make it to be. The turnaround is quite fast compared to a citizen charged in a felony criminal matter. If the illegal immigrant is concerned a traffic violation could separate him or her from their spouse and children; then the illegal should have taken care of his or her legal status before bringing a full family here or making a family here. The illegal immigrant is first of all illegal. Thereby he or she becomes involved in an entire world of crime from that simple beginning. Granted, most of the time they do not wish to be involved in other crimes, but they become involved due to being blackmailed or victimized as a form of slavery “paying off” the person who helped them cross over illegally. They routinely end up in very poor, crime ridden neighborhoods where they (or their sons/daughters) frequently cross into that criminal behavior. Defense of our borders is not just for our humanity and safety; it is also for theirs.

  12. Father White,
    I am not “Bam” as you seem to assume. I am his wife, with my own opinions,I worked WITH law enforcement as a civilian.
    Right after the President primary’s ( which I voted for Trump) the lesser of the 2 evils we have to choose from, you blogged ” no decent person would vote for Donald Trump”. And finished by saying that “we would have to answer to Jesus on judgement day if we did”
    I’ve never before in any church environment had anyone to make me feel so bad. I don’t know you family background, but mine is surrounded by Veterans, my Father, Father-n-law, my husband “Bam” and many uncles, and relatives. My Father-law who stepped on a land mine in Normandy on D-Day, reminded me at ever election, to Go Vote, he didn’t try tell anyone Who to vote for, just Vote, Many men lost their lives to give us the freedom to Vote, so he just asked that we vote.
    And I did
    And then you say, we will answer to the Lord on judgement day if we vote for Trump. I found that to be on the same level as being a bully, and threatening.
    I come from entirely Protestant family, my father was a Protestant Minister, I was a PK (preachers kid). I was raised to believe Catholics were different, all the usual things most Protestants believe about Catholics. But I had more open mind, and frequently attended Mass with my husband, at St Francisis of Assisi in Rocky Mount, made friends with some very nice people there, long time Catholics. I also attended St Andrews, and frequently OLPH , Father McKay ( oh how I miss that kind gentle man ). My experience with St Andrews during my recent conversion to being Catholic was good, Father Millers Homilys always touched base on current events intertwined with the Gospel readings. Always leaving there feeling challenged to become a better person and follower of Jesus.
    You refer to Law Enforcement as Gun-toting Police, you appeared in your blogs to blame the Police for doing their jobs their sworn to do, wondering How could they be Catholic/Christian and put a man on a plane thousands miles away from their family’s… And Gun-toting Police arresting law abiding un documented immigrants….these comments lead me to believe you are not in touch with the real world your parishioners have to deal with on daily basis.
    Also…. I don’t want to come to Mass and hear about Prince… Yet it seems to be okay, as long as its something you are passionate about.
    So, I’m passionate about supporting law enforcement , and voting, But find my Priest, and another Priest in the valley Not supporting law enforcement. Again, apparently basing your opinions on information from media and other outlets. In another Parish, making fun of an officer for doing his job and accusing him of racial profiling. I really wish before priest make these decisions, you would attempt to seek both sides of the issues and try to make a difference, rather than to continue to make law enforcement out to be bad, as that’s what it appears to me
    I would challenge you to seek a ride a long one time to form your own opinion, not media opinion. Just a few tips, ask for District 8 or District 4 a high call volume area. make sure you go on night shift or better midnight shift, oh, and for an extra eventful night, go on a full moon.
    Don’t let them put you in an area with little call volume, where people are nice and shake your hand and say Hi, go to the ones where you may have something thrown at you before you get out of the car, or your car is surrounded before you can open the door, and yelling “F” the Police
    Yes.. This does happen and no I’m not paranoid.
    Now, I’ve said my peace, and thank you for listening
    My husband can and will form his own opinion, as he will, I’m sure without any guilt from me.. He has always been good to support me and I him in his choices.
    Before converting to Catholic, BAM would get up early, attend mass, then meet me at my Protestant church ( he was always late) but join me at my church. It was my choice to become Catholic.
    Now it’s my choice Not to be Catholic anymore, i will be making my journey back to a Protestant church, I thank the Church for teaching me about the Eucharist and Adoration..I learned a lot.

  13. Father White,
    This will be my last blog, Regarding undocumented illegal immigrants, 3 incidents i will include that I personally have knowledge of, all occurred in the Roanoke area that are hard to understand involving illegal immigrants
    1. State Trooper at night pulled over a car that had been reported by several callers for driving with high beams on and speeding, Trooper called in traffic stop, gave tag number, which didn’t come back as stolen (at that time). Trooper Shot as he was approaching the car, occupants (all illegal immigrants) exit the car and run up hill to a residential area, Trucker traveling in opposite direction calls in Trooper down on pavement. All local area Police with access to I-81 start that way. Illegal immigrants break into a house, where family with 2 young boys are sleeping, parents hide boys in closet, Father shot and killed in the house, Mother taken hostage, forced into her own van and speed off back onto I-81.
    Responding police see van entering I-81 at high rate of speed, pursue van.
    Police go up hill to see where van was taken from, find house broken into, Father dead, boys hiding and now know Mother is missing as well as her van. Police stop the van, Mother has been shot and dead.
    Police run car registration,, which belongs to another county in Virginia, send that area police to that address where the car is registered too, and find that house also broken into, and elderly man and his wife Shot and dead.
    The first arriving officer on scene finding the trooper dead on pavement from gun shot, (who also has a wife and small son) was “BAM”
    There is a bridge now named after the trooper on I-81
    2. Friend of family stops at night on a bridge in the valley to assist an elderly man with a flat tire ( Good Samaritan ). Pulls up behind the disabled motorist and puts his flashers on, opens truck of disabled motorist car and begins to get out tools needed to change the tire. A vehicle driven by an illegal immigrant, driving with no license and drunk, drives right into the stopped veh’s, crushing the family friend (Good Samaritan ) between the 2 cars. Good Samaritans wife fortunately got good look at car and plate number, called 911, vehicle was stopped and illegal immigrant arrested.
    I don’t know what become of the immigrant, but our friend who is in his 20’s was hospitalized many months, not including therapy, he is now disabled for the remainder of his life and unable to work
    3. Illegal immigrant goes to neighboring store on midnight shift, employees observe him stealing children’s clothes, calls police. All this was on security cameras, police arrive, immigrant runs, with the kids clothes toward parking lot, officer pursues on foot, grabs suspect both go down, suspects wiggles out of his jacket, officer was wounded in the fall taking suspect down, officer gets up anyway with injuries and pursues again, store has called for back up and injured officer, store employee ran after suspect and both of them went down, injured officer, now unable to get up, crawls with taser gun to the employee and suspect. Employees get cuffs from downed officer and put on suspect. Back up arrived, suspect arrested, suspects accomplice who was waiting in car in parking lot left during the scuffle. Officer transported to ER with extensive injuries to leg.
    Officers career was ended, disabled for remainder of his life. This officer is “BAM”
    Illegal immigrant, was a 6 time felony child molester per his criminal history.

    There are more, these 3 will forever stay with me, people have been forgiven
    These are real life events, not everyone has the passion we should have toward illegal immigrants, ( undocumented ) as you prefer to use, it’s all just a play on words, Not that we don’t try and continue to try to want everyone to have the same freedom as we as Americans now sometimes take for granted. So if we as Christians who live in the real world and experience things that you maybe have not, involving illegal immigrants. I would ask you to attempt to at least understand that not all people are good, and not all illegal immigrants have good intentions, and many people have suffered losses due to their lack of respect for other people and the laws we live by.
    And it’s very hard to understand sometimes, your enthusiasm as you may fail to understand our struggle to share yours.

    1. Dear Ma’am, Thank you for writing and clearing up my misunderstanding about who you are. I am very sorry to learn about your husband’s injuries. And I, too, miss Father McKay. May he rest in Christ’s peace.

      You accuse me of being a bully for having written things I never wrote. You quote me as having written “no decent person would ever vote for Donald Trump.” But that is a complete misquotation. The exact text can be found at:

      I am sorry for having written the phrase “gun-toting.” In the context of what I was writing (a response to Lois), perhaps you could have understood that I was distinguishing armed police officers from unarmed ministers of Christ’s sacraments. But I appreciate that the phrase is offensive, and I am sorry.

      You accuse me of not living in the real world, and not knowing what I am talking about, when it comes to crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. But you have fallen into the unreal fallacy of identifying a whole community of people solely by the criminal element within it. It is no more fair to label undocumented immigrants as criminals than it would be to label blacks or whites as criminals, based on the fact that there are black and white criminals. In point of fact, the crime rate among undocumented immigrants is much LOWER than the average.

      The real point in dispute here is whether our immigration laws are fair as they now stand. If they are fair, then it would be reasonable to call being in America without papers a crime. It would be morally blameworthy to be in the United States without proper papers.

      But the very government agents that have the responsibility of enforcing our immigration laws consider them to be unfair. And the idea that somehow justice would be served by rounding up and deporting millions of law-abiding people, breaking up families, and producing a new refugee crisis (the proposal of Messrs. Trump and Cruz, referred to in my voters’ guide)–that idea truly is nonsense.

      1. You accuse me of being a bully for having written things I never wrote. You quote me as having written “no decent person would ever vote for Donald Trump.”
        It is not that exact quote, but the meaning is exactly that.

        I am sorry for having written the phrase “gun-toting.” In the context of what I was writing (a response to Lois), perhaps you could have understood that I was distinguishing armed police officers from unarmed ministers of Christ’s sacraments. But I appreciate that the phrase is offensive, and I am sorry.
        I accept your apology but, you wrote what you meant in the article I believe.

        It is no more fair to label undocumented immigrants as criminals
        “Undocumented” immigrants are illegal and therefore criminals to begin with. Much different that by race, etc. Terrorists, drug dealers, and many others are illegal immigrants too.

        But the very government agents that have the responsibility of enforcing our immigration laws consider them to be unfair
        No leader has declared the laws unfair. Nor has anyone in Congress to my knowledge. If so, maybe you can quote them to me. It is the same laws our immigrants followed.

  14. THANKS BE TO GOD I HAVE THIS WOMAN AS MY WIFE !!! She is never anything short of amazing! It is a true shame that you will never get to know her. Proverbs says to have a good wife is worth more than all the gold and silver there is. I know Proverbs is right.

  15. Mr. bam, I appreciate your question about immigration enforcement agents and members of the US Congress testifying that the system is unfair and needs to be reformed. Maybe you have never heard of the bi-partisan “Gang of Eight” Senators who organized the passage in the Senate of the immigration-reform bill? The wikipedia article offers a summary.


    At the hearings for that bill, the following law-enforcement agents testified…

    Former attorney general of Utah:
    Then-Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano:

    The bill passed the Senate, but was never brought up for a vote in the House of Representatives. In the fall of 2014, President Obama announced his intention to put most of the provisions into effect by executive order. (That has since been thwarted by the judiciary.)

    Current Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson said the following in his testimony this past February:

    “In fact, the President and I want to offer, to those who have lived here for at least five years, are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanents residents, and who have committed no series crimes, the opportunity to request deferred action on a case-by-case basis, to come out of the shadows, get on the books, and be held accountable…

    “Our overall policy is to focus our immigration enforcement resources more effectively on threats to public safety and border security, and, within our existing legal authority, do as much as we can to fix the broken immigration system. We’re disappointed that Congress has not been our partner in this effort, by passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation.”

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