Homilies, insights, information
from Mary Immaculate Clergy
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Serving our Lord is a wonderful life. If we truly embrace our ministry, we will find joy and adventure in our service to Him. Quite often, our service will lead us to places we never expected to go. Seventeen years ago, my ministry led me to Mary Immaculate. It has been a wonderful seventeen years but now Susanne and I are being called elsewhere and we must follow our calling.
We are in the process of buying a house in Van Alstyne, Texas. Van Alstyne is on highway 75 between McKinney and Sherman, about a 50 – 55 minute drive from Mary Immaculate. Our offer on the house has been accepted, our loan is approved and all inspections are completed. All that is left to do is complete the paperwork.
Why Van Alstyne? Seventeen years ago we asked “Why Carrollton / Farmers Branch?” The answer is the same this time – we don't know. We are walking in faith.
Our time at Mary Immaculate has been wonderful. We have grown in faith, shared our faith and made many friends and memories that we will treasure the rest of our lives. It will not be easy to say good-bye to this warm, loving and caring community but we must continue our walk in faith.
There is a story used on the confirmation retreat about a man whose heart was covered with patches because he kept giving pieces of it to people he loved and patching the resulting holes with a piece of heart given to him by those he loved. I am leaving a big piece of my heart at Mary Immaculate but I will be patching the hole in my heart with the love you have given me.
I will miss each and every one of you while keeping you in my prayers,
Deacon Pat Hayes
Top 10 ways to have a wonderful marriage (from Deacon Pat's book):
1. If there is someone in your life that you feel closer to than you feel toward your spouse back away from that relationship and work on rebuilding your marriage relationship so that you are closer to your spouse than to anyone else. A marriage that is going to survive can not have a third party involved.
2. Talk to your spouse about everything. Your hopes, your dreams, your joys, your frustrations and your fears.
3. Keep everything your spouse says to you in the strictest confidence. The only way to develop deep and meaningful conversations is to know that what you say won’t be repeated to a parent or best friend or anyone else.
4. Fight fair. A good fight clears the air and builds a stronger relationship but only if the fight is fair. In a fair fight you go someplace private where you can not be seen or overheard. You look each other in the eye and discuss the current issue and only the current issue.
5. Decide that divorce is not an option for your marriage. If divorce is an option then when that big fight occurs you both start thinking about divorce. If divorce is not an option then when that big fight occurs you start thinking about how to resolve the issue because neither of you are going anywhere and you act like the Christian that you are and offer forgiveness.
6. Spend quality time together. That is the only way you will come to realize that your spouse is a very special gift from God to you.
7. Do everything you can for your spouse and do it out of love. Surprise your spouse. Flowers, favorite meal, back rub, a little gift or whatever else you know will excite him or her. No keeping score of who does the most, just do everything you can to take care of your spouse and make your spouse happy.
8. Always speak highly of your spouse when you talk with other people. In a close relationship you will know your spouses strengths and weaknesses. Share the strengths but keep the weaknesses to yourself, tell others how wonderful and thoughtful your spouse is.
9. Share your faith with your spouse. Pray together, worship together and get married in the church if you haven’t done that yet.
10. Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole mind and your whole soul and love your spouse as you love yourself.
Deacon Patrick Hayes
Top 10 Ways to have a Wonderful Marriage (downloadable version)
September 11, 2011
September 11, 2011 Homily (downloadable version)
Today's readings are about forgiveness. When I said that word did you think to yourself that you are a very forgiving person? That you willing forgive other people who offend you? We are a loving and forgiving people, that is one of the ways we live our faith. Of course, there may be that one person or group of people that popped into your mind but they don't deserve to be forgiven for what they did. Or do they? There are no exceptions in this scripture. We must forgive everyone who sins against us.
“ . . . how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”
Forgiveness is one of the toughest challenges God has given to us. We get angry or upset over something that someone else did and we don't want to let it go. However, in our hearts we know that we must forgive. This Gospel spells it out for us in no uncertain terms:
“Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."
The last three words really hit hard: “. . . from your heart.” That tells us that forgiveness is more than just saying you're sorry. It means forgiving the other person from the deepest part of you. The part of you where all of your emotions – good and bad – originate.
Forgiveness, does not mean giving the other person the opportunity to harm you again. When Pope John Paul II was shot he went to the prison where the shooter was incarcerated and forgave the man for shooting him. He did not try to get him out of prison because the man had committed a crime and he had to be punished for what he had done.
John Paul II knew and understood the true meaning of forgiveness. He knew that if he did not forgive the man who had tried to kill him that he would not have a pure heart. He knew he would never find peace in his own life even though he had not sinned but someone had sinned against him. We must strive to have a pure heart like John Paul II.
Holding on to anger and bitterness caused by another persons actions hardens our heart and distances us from our Savior, Jesus – He died on the cross so that we would be forgiven. This is a parallel to the King in the Gospel who forgave the debts of this servant. We are not being asked to suffer and die but we are being asked, no, we are being told, to forgive.
As you probably know, our readings go in three year cycles. Currently we are in cycle A which means that every three years on the24th Sunday in Ordinary time we will have these readings.
I can't help but think that God has a plan with the timing of these readings. A theme of forgiveness as we commemorate the 9/11 attack of ten years ago.
Ten years ago, our country was attacked by terrorists. As a result of that attack, none of us will ever be the same. We had gotten so comfortable that we never thought something like that could happen in America. Those kinds of things happened in other places in the world, not here.
But it did happen and we still feel the pain. Through these scriptures God is calling on us to forgive those who attacked us. He is not asking us to let our guard down and give them the opportunity to do something like this again.
John Paul II showed us what we must do. We must forgive but we must also protect ourselves from future attacks. After his attack he protected himself with a bullet proof pope mobile. We are protecting ourselves with tightened security and a higher level of vigilance.
What should be most important to us is that we have a clean heart before God. If we continue to hold anger and bitterness over the things that have hurt us then we are keeping God at arm's length and we don't want to do that. We want Him close to us. As close as possible.
These scriptures are a tough pill to swallow at times like these but we are Christians. We take the high road and our primary focus is on our God and His will in our lives. It is his will that we forgive those who trespass against us.
Remember these words from our Gospel:
“So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."
We are like the servant in the Gospel. Our debts have been forgiven. They were written off when Jesus died on the cross. Now we have debts against us just as this servant had debts against himself. We have to make a choice in our hearts. We can either hold on to those debts and suffer the consequences or we can listen to Jesus, the one who forgave our debts, and have a clean heart through forgiveness.
It may not be easy but Jesus is there to help us as He is always there for us. So forgive from deep in your heart. Then you will feel the love and grace of God flowing into your new, clean heart and you will know the true peace of Jesus Christ.
Pentacost Sunday, 2011
Pentecost 2011 Homily (downloadable version)
Don't you love to hear these stories from scripture that talk of hope. Jesus loves us so much that not only did he die on the cross for our sins but he sent his Holy Spirit to be with us.
Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday. This is one of those rare Saturday night vigil masses that has different readings than the Sunday masses. However, the readings we just heard tell us of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is sending to be with us which is the feast of Pentecost.
Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to be with the Apostles. They had lost all hope after he had died. After all, they thought he was going to be their new king, their earthly king. They were so scared after His crucifixion that they isolated themselves from family, friends and society. They thought that all was lost and they were miserable.
That's the way some people feel when things are not going well for them.
Then it happened. The Holy Spirit of Jesus was upon them. Not just upon them but inside them, the Holy Spirit was a part of who they were from that moment on. Not something that could be removed from their very existence but living with them.
All of sudden their fear was gone and they were ready, willing and able to go out into the world and serve God by doing his work on earth. The fear was gone replaced by hope and a desire to serve God.
Wouldn't you love to have been there? Wouldn't you love to have that experience of the Holy Spirit living within you and guiding you through life?
My brothers and sisters, we are there. Just as we are at the last supper during the consecration of the body and blood of Christ we are there on Pentecost when we are confirmed. Just as the gifts of the Holy Spirit were received by the apostles and inspired them to go forth and serve the Lord, we receive these gifts at our confirmation and we are called to go forth and serve the Lord.
What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we hear so much about. I wonder how many people here know what they are and could recite them? Not me, I had to look them up for this homily to make sure I got them all and got them right.
7.Fear of the Lord
There are a couple of words in there that are no longer common in our language and some of the terminology can be misleading so I am going to take a few minutes to review them. I know this isn't a Catechism class but these gifts are a part of every confirmed Catholic so it is good to understand them.
Wisdom is the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit, because it is the perfection of faith. Through wisdom, we come to value those things which we believe through faith. The truths of Christian belief are more important than the things of this world, and wisdom helps us to maintain the proper perspective to the created world, loving Creation for the sake of God, rather than for its own sake.
Understanding is the second gift of the Holy Spirit, and people sometimes have a hard time comprehending how it differs from wisdom. While wisdom is the desire to contemplate the things of God, understanding allows us to grasp, at least in a limited way, the very essence of the truths of the Catholic Faith.
Counsel, through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we are able to judge how best to act almost by intuition. Because of the gift of counsel, Christians need not fear to stand up for the truths of the Faith, because the Holy Spirit will guide us in defending those truths.
Fortitude is ranked as the fourth gift of the Holy Spirit because it gives us the strength to follow through on the actions suggested by the gift of counsel. While fortitude is sometimes called courage, it goes beyond what we normally think of as courage. Fortitude is the virtue of the martyrs that allows them to suffer death rather than to renounce the Christian Faith.
The fifth gift of the Holy Spirit, knowledge, is often confused with both wisdom and understanding. Like wisdom, knowledge is the perfection of faith, but whereas wisdom gives us the desire to judge all things according to the truths of the Catholic Faith, knowledge is the actual ability to do so. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we can determine God's purpose for our lives and live accordingly.
Piety, the sixth gift of the Holy Spirit, is the perfection of the virtue of religion. While we tend to think of religion today as the external elements of our faith, it really means the willingness to worship and to serve God. Piety takes that willingness beyond a sense of duty, so that we desire to worship God and to serve Him out of love, the way that we desire to honor our parents or spouse and do what they wish.
7. Fear of the Lord
The seventh and final gift of the Holy Spirit is the fear of the Lord, and perhaps no other gift of the Holy Spirit is so misunderstood. We think of fear and hope as opposites, but the fear of the Lord confirms the theological virtue of hope. This gift of the Holy Spirit gives us the desire not to offend God, as well as the certainty that God will supply us the grace that we need in order to keep from offending Him. Our desire not to offend God is more than simply a sense of duty; like piety, the fear of the Lord arises out of love.
So there you have a brief overview of each of the seven gifts. I hope you will contemplate what you have heard and strive to renew your spirit because you have received these gifts. They are not gifts for other people, they are gifts given to you when you received the Holy Spirit at your confirmation.
They are the reason you choose to participate in your faith. They are the reason that you continue to hear the call to serve Jesus. They are gifts, Jesus won't force you to use them but they are the greatest gifts you will ever receive.
Please don't ignore your gifts but instead try to understand how you can best use them to serve Jesus. If you open yourself to the gifts of the Holy Spirit then your fear will be taken away and replaced by a desire to serve the Lord.