Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Roman Missal Part I - The Introductory Rites

Homily from the 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A

Why this change?

Why, beginning on November 27th, the First Sunday of Advent, will we begin using a new translation of the Roman Missal?  All the parts of the Mass come out of Scripture or ancient texts that have been part of our Church for hundreds and hundreds of years.  Those texts are originally written in Latin.  The Church wants to make sure the words we pray in English every week is the best possible translation we can get.

In the late 1980’s, Blessed Pope John Paul II recognized that the English translation of the Roman Missal should be better.  As you know, John Paul II spoke several languages and traveled the world.  So, the first reason why we’re using a new translation is so we can use a more exact translation of the Latin into English.

Another reason we’re using a new translation is so that we here in the United States and other English speaking countries will be saying the same thing the rest of the world has already been saying in the Mass for over 40 years.  With this new translation, we’ll, in a sense, be catching up with what everyone else in the world is already doing.

"And with your spirit."

Let’s look at one of the first things you, the people say at Mass.  Today, when the priest says, “The Lord be with you” you respond, “And also with you.  However, in the new translation, your response will be “And with your spirit.”  Why?

Well, the original text in Latin is “Et cum spiritu tuo” which literally means, “And with your spirit.”  For the last 40 years or so, when we’ve said “And also with you” we’ve been saying an interpretation of the Latin instead of the best translation possible.

When I was in the seminary, we would have Mass in Spanish every Wednesday, and this response was “Y con tu Espiritu” which literally means “And with your Spirit.”  So, we’re merely joining what the rest of the world is already saying and thereby, will be more unified in our prayer with the rest of the world.

But there’s another reason why this translation is better. Not just because it’s the correct translation, but also because it brings out deep spiritual meaning that’s been lost for the last 40 years.  The reason why you’ll say “And with your spirit” is because you are acknowledging the unique activity of the Holy Spirit working through the priest during Mass.

Now, perhaps “And with your spirit” sounds like you’re putting the priest on a pedestal.  Actually, it’s quite the contrary.  “And with your spirit” is a humbling reminder to Monsignor and I that what we are about to do is not about us, but about the Holy Spirit working through us.  We can do nothing on our own.  So, unlike “And also with you” which puts the emphasis on Monsignor and I, “And with your spirit” put the emphasis where it belongs: on the Holy Spirit working through us.

"Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."

The words of the “I confess” also known as the “Confiteor” are changing somewhat.  Today, we say, “I have sinned through my own fault.”  In the new translation, we’ll say, “I have greatly sinned… through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”  First, it’s a literal translation of the Latin: "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa." 

Perhaps your thinking, “Why such an emphasis on our fault?” Do we have to say it three times?  Well, just think about how you already say your sorry when you’ve offended someone.  Let’s say I took this book and hit Monsignor over the head with it. Then let’s say I wanted to apologize and let him know I was truly sorry. If I said, “Hey, sorry” and then walked away would you believe me?  No, when we’re really sorry for something, we always apologize more than once. We say something like, “Monsignor, I’m so sorry I did that. I don’t know what came over me. Please forgive me.”

Plus, we’re not only going to use new words, but we’re also going to add new gestures. When we say “through my fault” three times, we’ll tap our breast with our fist.

Why? A couple of reasons.

First, it’s an action we find in Scripture. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the parable of two people who went to the temple to pray. One was arrogant and blind to his sins and said, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity: greed, dishonest, adulterous.” But the other man who was truly repentant, “beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

Second, we’re sacramental people. In the sacraments, we use all our senses in our worship of God: we use sight to look upon beautiful art, we use hearing to listen to the Word of God, we use our sense of smell when we smell incense, we use our sense of taste when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. We also worship through the gestures we make. We make the Sign of the Cross... we also trace the Cross on our foreheads, our lips and our hearts before we hear the words of the Gospel… we kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer… we bow right before we receive the Eucharist. We associate physical actions and make use of our senses with our words to give our worship fuller meaning.

And lastly, we sin in bodily ways don’t ways don’t we? Ever wave high to someone and use only one finger instead of all five? Well, were showing ourselves and one another that as we sin in a bodily way, we repent in a bodily way too.

The Gloria

We used to sing, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.”  Today we sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.”

Those words come from the Gospel of Luke. They’re the hymn the angels sang on Christmas morning when angels announced to shepherds the birth of Jesus: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people on whom his favor rests.”

Why wouldn’t we want to use the most precise translation of Scripture, the inspired Word of God?  If we, as Catholics, take this seriously, the new translation can lead us to a new understanding of the Mass and Scripture than we’ve ever had before.

Read New Roman Missal Part 2 - The Liturgy of the Word.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Homily from the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A

Before entering the seminary, I worked for a radio station.  And every year, our radio station hosted a week-long telethon to raise money for child abuse prevention.  It was hosted by our morning show djs from the roof of a local supermarket.  Up they went Monday morning, and from the roof of this supermarket they broadcast their show from 6AM until 10PM everyday until they finally came down from the roof on Friday evening.  They lived and worked up there. They ate their meals up there. They slept in sleeping bags and tents up there. They even had a port-a-potty up there and a hose to take a shower with.

All week long, our morning show would interview people who were brought up to the roof on a cherry picker.  They interviewed victims of child abuse who had the courage to share gut-wrenching stories of suffering, and torment as well as stories of healing, recovery and triumph.  They also spoke with counselors and case workers.

They also interviewed owners of local businesses would be brought up to the roof on a cherry picker and they’d present giant cardboard checks.  Huge amounts of money: $5,000, $10,000, $20,000.  Over the course of the week, the radio station would raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for child abuse prevention.

One day, as we were sitting on the roof, we saw the cherry picker rise up over the crest of the roof, and on the cherry picker was Lou, the director of South Bend’s Center for the Homeless.  And in his hands he held not a giant cardboard check but a coffee can.

Lou stepped up the mic and said that the guests at the South Bend Center for the Homeless, the homeless themselves, had been listening to the broadcast, they had heard the stories of abuse and how other people were donating money; and they wanted to make a donation too.  So they passed the coffee can around the homeless shelter and they gave what they had and Lou said, “The guests at the South Bend Center for the Homeless are pleased to make this donation of $12.41.”

It was the biggest donation of all.

Do you remember the story of Jesus and the disciples sitting outside the temple treasury watching wealthy people make their offerings? Jesus is unphased by their generosity until He sees a widow give two small coins.  And He says, “this poor woman put in more than all the rest; for these others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

That’s what the guests of the South Bend Center from the Homeless did.  These people, who had no job, no place to call home, no possessions except the clothes on their back, gave what little they had.  But the little they had was everything they had.  They gave their whole livelihood.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment in the law is “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.”  We cannot love God with half a heart, half a soul and half a mind.  We must love Him completely, holding nothing back, with a love that knows no limits.

Why?  Is God greedy?  No.  God has no need for our love or praise.

Is it because we owe God complete and total love?  We certainly do but I think there’s an even more satisfying answer.

We must love God completely, because we need to.  Unless we love God completely, with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, we will never know true happiness; we will never truly be satisfied.

The guests at the South Bend Center for the Homeless gave all they had because they needed to.  They could not stand to stand by while injustice and violence was committed against innocent children.  To give any less than they had would have left them unhappy and unsatisfied.

We need to give God all our love, not just our leftover love that’s remaining after we’ve loved our possessions, our houses, our wealth, our trips, our families or ourselves.  Indeed, we can only love one another if we love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind.

We can love God in this way because He loves us in this way.  Jesus loves us with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his mind.  All we need to do is look to the cross to see this love.  Jesus kept nothing for Himself.  He gives Himself completely to us.

This is the love that we need to imitate.  Loving God in this way is the only love that will satisfy us. Anything less, will leave us frustrated, incomplete and indeed, inhuman.  All our time, all our energy, all our wealth, all our possessions, all of us must be given back to God in one way or another.

Now I’m not saying that we have to drop our whole paycheck into the collection basket.  But we do have to ask ourselves if we use our time, our money, our hearts, our minds, our souls for God or for less than Him.

So, let us ask ourselves these questions:

Is God my first thought of each day? Do I give Him thanks for the gift of my life and the gift of another day?

Do I give God thanks for the gift of the spouse I wake up next to, and my children; my family and my friends?

Do I thank God for the blessings He has poured out upon my life?

Do I recognize my good fortune as blessings from God?

And when I experience misfortune or tragedy in my life do I blame God? Or do I sincerely ask Him for help and trust Him?

Do I share the good gifts I’ve been given with others and especially with the poor?

Do I put the needs of others first or do I think of them only after I’ve satisfied my own needs?

Do I love God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind? And do I love my neighbor as myself?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Natural Family Planning - A Love That Knows No Limits

Homily from the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A (Respect Life Sunday)

One of the great joys I get to share in is helping couples prepare for marriage.  If you’re a married couple, think back to how excited you were as you prepared to begin your life together.  And even if you’re not married, surely you’ve seen the joy of your family and friends as they get ready for marriage.

Now I won’t be coy and pretend as though the days leading up to marriage are completely free from all anxiety.  There’s all the details of the ceremony: invitations, dresses, tuxes, who to stick your weird Uncle Bill with at the reception and so on.  And that’s just the small stuff!  There’s also stuff like putting together a financial plan, buying a house, whose parents you’ll spend Thanksgiving with, living the life of faith, getting each other to Heaven, and so on.

But on the whole, helping couples prepare for marriage can be a real joy.  Especially when they talk about their hopes and dreams.  When they talk about how they want to make a life together… how they want to give their lives to one another… and how much they love one another.  Conversations about invitations and cake cease as soon as the wedding day is done (or at least as soon as the bills are paid!).  But hopefully conversations about your hopes, dreams, expectations and love for one another continue through the years.

Just about every couple mentions the following things they want from their marriage and their spouse: they want good communication.  They want complete and total commitment from their spouse.  They want healthy and happy children.  They are ready and willing to sacrifice for one another.  They want to be faithful to one another their entire lives.  They don’t want to hold anything back from one another.

In other words, they want a love that knows no limits

Which is great because this is precisely the love Christ has for us: a love that knows no limits.  Christ’s love for us is so great, He, who is God, became one like us.  He lived and worked like us.  He grew up in a family like us.  He suffered hardship like us.  He also suffered his passion and death on the Cross for us.  He gave his entire life for us and held nothing back.  His love for us is a love that knows no limits.

Christ tells us to follow His example of love.  “As I have loved you,” Jesus says, “so you should love one another.”   We are to love one another, and most especially our spouse by giving our entire lives to them and holding nothing back.  These are the dreams that were born the day you fell in love with your spouse.  This is the type of love you hoped and prayed for as you got ready for marriage.  This is the love you pledged yourselves to when you said your wedding vows.  And this is the type of love you choose to live everyday of your marriage: a love that knows no limits.

However, as we all well know, multiple forces attack this love that knows no limits.  Arguments about money… jealousy… inattentiveness… lack of communication.  All these can lead to breakdowns in our marriages.  They pile up barriers between husbands and wives.  They prevent us from giving ourselves completely and unselfishly to our spouses.

And there’s another force that attacks this love we all yearn for, this love that knows no limits, and that’s contraception.  Although we may not realize it or intend it, marriages are under attack by contraception because contraception prevents us from giving our entire lives to our spouse.

Now, I’m not saying that a couple who uses contraception doesn’t love each other.  I am absolutely certain that couples who use birth control love each other in so many authentic ways.  However, the act of contracepted love itself can never be an act of authentic love.  Because, when we use contraception, whether we’re aware of it or not, whether we intend it or not, we say to our spouse with our bodies, “You can have all of me… except for this one part of me: my fertility. I’m keeping that part of me to myself and you can’t have it at the present moment.”  And, when we use contraception, we say to God, whether we’re aware of it or not, whether we intend it or not, “I’m sorry God, but I’m not going to let you completely into this union at the present moment.”

Because there aren’t just two in a marriage, there are three: a husband, a wife, and God who unites them and gives them the gift of children.

When couples contracept, they close themselves off from the two things God designed the marital embrace for: a two in one flesh union and children.  Or, as I like to say, the two things God made the marital embrace for: bonding and babies.

Now don’t get me wrong, God is not saying that you must conceive a child with every single marital embrace.  There are many good reasons why couples need to regulate the number of children they have.  The ability to provide financially for a bigger family for instance.  Or the health of the mother.  God is not saying you have to have as many babies as your bodies can tolerate.

However, He is saying that husbands and wives must cooperate with His design for the marital embrace: husbands and wives must be truly be bonded to one another, holding nothing back and they must be open to the possibility of children.

There is however, a way husbands and wives can regulate how many children they have and when they have them without saying “no” to God’s design for bonding and babies.  It’s called Natural Family Planning.

Natural Family Planning, or NFP, is a method by which spouses may achieve or avoid pregnancy by observing naturally occurring signs in the woman’s body.  Unlike contraception which invades and sterilizes the body, NFP looks at you the individual person and tells you when you are fertile and ready to conceive and when you’re infertile and unable to conceive.

Now, if you’re thinking that the NFP I’m talking about is the old calendar rhythm method that was developed in the 1930’s, I’m not.  The old rhythm method was often inaccurate because it did not take into account the uniqueness of each woman’s fertility cycle.  Today, NFP reveals the fertility cycles of every single individual person, even if their cycles are irregular.  And NFP today, used correctly, is over 98% successful in spacing or limiting births which is as good, if not better, than any form of contraception.

Now maybe you’re saying to yourself, “If a couple using contraception and a couple using NFP are both trying to avoid pregnancy, what difference does it make if I use contraception?”  The answer is, “A huge difference.”

First, contraception is the choice to sterilize the marital embrace.  For example, a contracepting couple chooses to engage in the marital embrace, and knowing it may result in a new life, willfully suppresses their fertility.

However, an NFP couple never contracepts.  With NFP, you abstain from the marital embrace during the fertile period rather than sterilize and frustrate what it was created for.  The difference between sterilizing the marital embrace ourselves or working with our God-given infertile times is very big indeed.

And if you’re thinking you don’t have the will power to abstain from the marital embrace from time to time, you do and I can prove it; you’re all abstaining right now.  Besides, NFP is not about constant abstinence.  If you’re using NFP, and engage in the marital embrace on all the days of the month when abstinence is not required, you’d be enjoying the marital embrace almost twice as much as the national average.  Yes, there are statistics for such things. I’ve looked them up!

Speaking of statistics, we’re all familiar with the fact that 50% of all marriages end in divorce.  You know what the divorce rate is for NFP couples? Less than 5%.  That’s a category we all want to be in.

Why is NFP so powerful for strengthening marriages?  It’s because NFP respects the bodies of spouses.  It encourages tenderness between them.  It fosters really, really good communication, cooperation and commitment.  Yes, it requires some sacrifice. But that’s a good thing. A real good thing. Show me anything good in this world that doesn’t require sacrifice.  It doesn’t put up barriers between spouses the way contraception does. Rather, it allows spouses to give themselves completely to one another.  Finally, it helps us love our spouse the way Christ loves us: completely and fruitfully with a love that knows no limits.

There are a number of ways you can learn about Natural Family Planning:

Here is the contact information for three area Creighton Model NFP teachers:

Jackie Oberhausen
Trinity FertilityCare Services
Fort Wayne, IN 46835
Phone: 260-414-1634

Theresa Schortgen
FertilityCare Specialist of Northeast Indiana
New Haven, IN 46774
Phone: 260-494-6444 Fax: 240-749-6706

Leah Oberhausen 260-418-9404

More Creighton Model NFP teachers can be found at

Dr. Patrick Holly, a St. Vincent's parishoner, is a Creighton Model NFP physician.  His contact information is:

Dr. Patrick Holly
6400 Rothman Rd
Fort Wayne, IN 46835
(260) 486-6197

An introductory class on Natural Family Planning will be offered at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Fort Wayne on October 29th.  St. Elizabeth's phone number is (260) 432-0268.

A complete list of Natural Family Planning classes offered by the Diocese of Fort Wayne - South Bend may be found here.

Information about Natural Family Planning may also be found on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.

The USCCB has also put together a great website,, to help married couples and those preparing and discerning marriage strengthen the marriage covenant.

And as your spiritual father and bridegroom I am always available and ready to help. I understand that this is a very misuderstood issue.  I want to help you understand it.  Call me anytime at our parish office at (260) 489-3537.

If you want to strengthen your marriage with all the benefits NFP has to offer, and if you want to experience a love that knows no limits, please take one of these steps to learn about NFP.