Pastor’s Petitions to Father Joseph

[If you don’t mind, for St. Joseph the Worker’s day, the e-homily will simply consist of some of my personal petitions to the heavenly patron and protector of the southern sister-parish of our precious little Virginia-Piedmont cluster…]

young-carpenterPlease help us, St. Joseph, to serve the Lord faithfully in the New Evangelization. Help us to embrace the Gospel more deeply and propose it to all our neighbors fearlessly.

Please help all those entrusted with great responsibilities in the life of our parish, and of all parishes, to fulfill them courageously, creatively, humbly, selflessly.

Please help us all to befriend each other ever more deeply in Christ, with patience and gentleness, building each other up. Help us to steer clear of all gossip, detraction, slander, and back-biting. Help those of us who do not speak each other’s languages to love each other with kind gestures and mutual support.

Please help us to reach our parish’s capital-campaign goal by the end of the month! (If such be for the greater glory of God, which we humbly submit that we believe it to be.)

Please help the sick and the dying. Come to the aid of all those preparing to pass over to the next life. Help us all to make good, holy deaths, when the time comes. Help us to repent heartily of our sins now and reform our lives for the better.

Please help us to grow in chastity, to hate and despise anything immodest or faithless. Help all those who struggle with self-destructive inclinations to conquer them by the grace of your omnipotent foster Son.

St. Joseph, smile on us–your clients, your servants, your children! Bring us to work with you! May every day of our earthly pilgrimage be a heavenly Take-Your-Child-to-Work Day, and bring us with you to the workbench of honest labor for the construction of the Kingdom of God!

Homily for St. Joseph Parish Church Anniversary

Is there life after death? Can we hope for happiness greater than this world affords? Will everything that is wrong be set to rights? Will a merciful judge take pity on us for all our failures? Will a loving, heavenly Father smile at us when everything is said and done?

Yes. The answer is yes.

In the midst of the daily compromises of life on earth, our souls yearn for greatness, holiness, completeness, redemption, and freedom. Where would we be if we could not hope for these things?

Wretched. We would be indescribably wretched. Better a turkey in somebody’s oven than a human being without God.

But we can hope. We can believe. We worship the Father in the spirit and truth of His only begotten Son.

Now, in order to worship the Father in spirit and in truth, it is not absolutely necessary to have a well-heated and air-conditioned church with a splendid view of a southwest-Virginia hillside. In a pinch, priests have been known to say Mass on the hulls of over-turned canoes, or on the open tailgates of pick-up trucks, or on wooden crates in the corner of concentration camps.

But having a church building certainly helps.

When the trials of life weigh upon us; when we get confused, discouraged, or distressed; when we find that even our home and hearth bears the marks of Adam’s fall—well, we have our church, the dwelling place of Emmanuel, to be the home-base for our souls.

We Americans rejoice in the blessings of a warm and comfortable home and an amply-laid table. When the Lord blesses us with these things, He has blessed us indeed, and we give thanks.

But there is no Thanksgiving dinner on earth that is as great a blessing as having a good, well-built parish church in your town, where you can pray.

Please Pray for Priests, Holy Father, and Me

On June 29, 1951, Joseph Ratzinger was ordained a priest.

George and Joseph Ratzinger ordination day
I had a chance to meet then-Cardinal Ratzinger in February of 2005, about ten weeks before he had to change his plans for retirement.

I was visiting Rome with a friend from Raleigh, N.C. In our brief conversation with him, Card. Ratzinger expressed interest in the region between North Carolina and Washington, D.C. He admitted to knowing little about the “upper South,” and wanted to learn.

Anyway…On June 29, we solemnize the memory of the twin patrons of the church of Rome, Saints Peter and Paul. This year, the Holy Father will celebrate the 60th anniversary of his ordination. He has asked the entire Catholic world to pray for vocations to the priesthood as a way of wishing him a happy anniversary.

It also happens that June 29 will be the day when your unworthy servant will begin my ministry as the pastor of both Franklin and Henry counties, Virginia.

My predecessor in Martinsville will be on the way to sunny Florida. My adventures up and down US 220 will begin.

Perhaps, then, dear ones, while you are praying for our Holy Father’s health, and for vocations to the priesthood throughout the world, you could also say a little prayer for this gangly numbskull.

…By the by, we have come around the three-year cycle to another “summer of Romans” (St. Paul’s letter, that is). This summer I intend to preach on Matthew 13 instead, but if you have any interest in the prattlings I made three summers ago, you can click HERE.

The Hogan Schism

Anniversaries today:

1. The Incarnation of God in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

2. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter on the Gospel of Life.

William Hogan
3. The destruction of the Ring of Power in the fires of Mount Doom.

4. The first Holy Mass in the English-speaking colonies of the New World, said by Father White.

So let us take a few steps down the road of American Church history.

Since we have recently been discussing the punishment of ecclesiastical malefactors, let us recall to our minds the episode called the “Hogan Schism.”

When I visited the church of St. Joseph in Philadelphia years ago, someone there explained that the church’s unusual architecture—which serves to hide it from view—was the result of anti-Catholic riots in the 1800’s.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia endures some rough times as we speak. May justice be done, and may God comfort the innocent. But perhaps things are not as bad as they were back in the diocese’s nascent days…

Continue reading “The Hogan Schism”