If Religion Comes Up…

at dinner, some advice:

At the end of the liturgical year, we find ourselves reading the end of the Bible at Holy Mass.  We read in Revelation: those who have won the victory sing the song of Moses in heaven, adoring God, and saying to Him, “your righteous deeds have been revealed!” (Revelation 15:4)

thanksgiving-BeverlyHillbilliesThe Holy Bible contains the account of the righteous deeds of Almighty God, the work He has undertaken in the course of history. His works make our lives mean something; what He has accomplished gives us hope for eternal life.

So we rightly cherish the Holy Bible as an essential gift. We can’t imagine life without the knowledge that the Bible gives us. Certainly we would not understand life at all, if we didn’t know what the Bible teaches. We wouldn’t be able to deal with day-to-day life, if we didn’t constantly nourish our minds with reading the Bible.

The books of the Bible bear witness to the fundamental fact: Almighty God has established a covenant with His chosen people. This alliance that binds us to God involves specific historical things, like: the land of Israel, Moses and his staff, the ancient temple, Jesus laid in a manger, baptism with water, oils blessed by a bishop, and bread and wine consecrated on an altar. Our covenant with God is no generic ‘religion.’ God established the covenant through the specific events narrated in the Holy Bible.

All that said, though: the God of the Bible is bigger than the Bible. The God of our covenant is bigger than His covenant with us. The God of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church is bigger than the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

The content of the Bible itself forces us Bible believers to have the humility to acknowledge: We do not know everything there is to know about God. Neither the Bible, nor the Church that has given us the Bible, have all the answers. We do not have the “God market” cornered.

God is God, and He has a plan for everyone to get to heaven.  The Bible reveals that magnificent fact.  He has a plan for everyone to get to heaven, including people in the mountains of west China who have never heard of the Bible, or Pope Francis, or a Thanksgiving turkey.  God has a plan for the salvation of every human being.  And our little role in that plan involves, above all, our being humble.

Happy Thanksgiving/End of the World


The annual cycle of the Catholic Church’s Sacred Liturgy goes way back. Back before even the Mayflower, or Plymouth-Rock pilgrims, or the untimely death of the first American turkey at the hands of a white man.

According to the ancient Liturgy of our Church, this is the week of the year to contemplate the end of times, the final tribulations, and the great apocalypse that will purify the earth.

According to our long-standing American custom, on the other hand, this is the week of the year to gather at the family hearth and give thanks to God for the copious fruits of the earth, and for all His many benefits to us.

So, on the one hand, in church: the book of Revelation, the wrath of God, the angels scourging the evil Babylons of the earth, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the arduous trial of faith by which the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our souls will truly shine forth and confound the devil’s minions.

On the other hand, at home: apple cider, pumpkin pie, and plenty of late-afternoon football, with each quarter punctuated by a nap.

Seems like two altogether different emphases. But, in fact, one common theme unites both observances. The gathering of the harvest.

We sit at table and eat and drink with each other to rejoice in the great gathering-in of the what the earth–with the labor of human hands, and fertilizer, and rain–has produced.

We will eat our turkeys. And a quiet and a joy will descend upon us with the early sunset and the fire burning. Because this harvesting and gathering that we human beings do touches the final harvesting and gathering that God will do.

Indeed, there is some glory in the Thanksgiving table even for the turkey. (Especially if it’s maybe baked in buttercloth, or basted with beer.) The turkey reaches a kind of goal, so to speak. Its little turkey life takes on meaning, as it sits beautifully on the table while the family members argue about Obama.

We, too, will find a place, in the end. The heavenly Father will gather us into His barns, as Jesus put it. The striving and straining and fussing of the pilgrim life will end. And, please God, the great peace of the divine kingdom will enfold us like a blanket.

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.

Land Watered with Blood

¡Viva Cristo Rey! “Long live Christ the King!” Blessed Miguel Pro shouted these words as a Mexican firing squad took his life, 84 years ago today.

We give thanks to the Lord for all the blessings of this fruitful land, the Western hemisphere, the New World. This earth bears fruit in turkeys and hams and yams and spuds, and we praise the Maker of all things.

But the most fruitful substance known to mankind is the blood of Christ’s martyrs.

The blood of martyrs waters the earth and bears fruit in generations of firm faith, in the flowering of communities based on love, respect, and truth.

So we give thanks above all that the Lord in His Providence has watered the soil of this hemisphere with the blood of His chosen witnesses.

We venerate the heroism of the Jesuits who gave their lives for the faith in upstate New York and Canada. Some of those martyrs had first arrived in North America shortly before the Mayflower landed.

And we venerate Blessed Father Pro and all the martyrs who joyfully risked life and limb to keep the faith alive in Mexico during the prosecution of the 1920’s.

May the Lord continue to make our land fruitful in faith.

Sweet Revenge

January 5
January 5
With all the fanfare surrounding Coach Zorn’s “home-coming” to Seattle, an important fact about today’s Seahawk’s game was ignored.

This was the Redskins second game at Qwest Field this year.

The first one did not turn out well. It brought a good run in the second part of last year’s season to a premature end.

Greg Monroe dunk at Verizon Center yesterday
Greg Monroe dunk at Verizon Center yesterday
On the other hand, today’s W has brought this season’s tough losing streak to an end. We will take it!

Bring on the mighty Giants! Let’s keep the revenge thing going.

Speaking of things we will take…We will definitely take a 2-0 Hoyas’ season start, with Greg Monroe reaching domination-level right out of the gate.

Next up for the Hoyas: Old Spice Classic on Thursday. Witchita State at 2:00 p.m. on ESPN 2.

The Hoyas lost on the last big holiday for family dinners (Easter). May that not happen again. Just like one loss to the Seahawks per year is enough, and one loss to the Giants per year is enough: One holiday-afternoon Hoyas disappointment per year is enough.

If we have to play Davidson again this year, let’s make sure it’s on a weekday. No Stephen Curry on holidays. No more crying in Washington over our turkeys and hams.