Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (January 29, 2012)

Click here for the homily – 4th Sunday Ordinary Time

The Gospel says Jesus spoke as one having authority. In Matthew 16:16-19, Jesus passed on that authority to Peter and the Church. Therefore we can trust what the Church says in matters of faith and morals. Because of Jesus via the Holy Spirit, the Church is an authority on how to be a happy, healthy human person. It has 2000 years of cumulative wisdom in this area. One are the Church’s authority has come under criticism is in the matter of marriage. This coming November, MN voters will be voting whether or not to make it civil law that marriage is correctly defined as one man and one woman. Marriage and (the traditional) family as the foundation of a healthy society. We must do all we can to defend marriage and family.

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March for Life 2012

We had to get up way too early. I got up at 4 AM so that we could be on the bus by 5:15. We finally got to the DC Armory at 7 AM. I got the great gift of hearing confessions for more than an hour. What a blessing! Sorry, no pictures of that. We had Mass in which we heard some words from Pope Benedict. What a powerful experience to celebrate Mass with 30 some bishops, maybe 200 or more priests, and thousands of Catholics. What an awesome gift.

We then hiked it from the Armory to the March. We got there a little late so we joined in half way through the route. We were blessed to be joined by Bishop John Quinn and Father Rick Colletti. What a powerful experience to give witness to the value of life with hundreds of thousands of others. There were people from all walks of life. There were also Orthodox Jews. There were Protestants. There were Eastern Orthodox. This is one (of many) things we can all agree on: each human life, at all stages must be protected. Each human person must be treated with the dignity that he or she deserves. What always amazes me is how many young people are there at the March. I really do believe it is the next generation that understands that there is no middle ground. They realize that being lukewarm or indifferent is no longer an option. We need to all we can to support a culture of life. Here are some pictures from the March for Life 2012. (Yes, I marched in a cassock, coat, and a big black and purple hat.)

If we are going to resurrect the greatness of this nation, it must start with a renewed dedication to family, the domestic church. The family cannot exist if we don’t embrace the youngest members, those in the womb, even if the family they are being born into is one of a single teenage mother, even if that child was conceived in rape. We must also reach out to those who have had an abortion; to recognize the pain they may have carried…for years. We must assure them of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.

We then walked back to the DC Armory, hoped on the bus and started back to Minnesota. The weather was a lot better and we made back in about 18 hours. I think I got back to Owatonna about 11 AM. What an awesome blessed trip!

Pentagon 9/11 Memorial and Cici’s Pizza

We stopped at the by the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. There are these shelf type things in rows. The shelves that are facing the Pentagon are people who lost their lives in the Pentagon and the shelves facing outward were people who lost their lives on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. At the end of the row, they have the year the person was born. The youngest was 3 and the oldest was over 70. Life is the second greatest gift we can receive. Faith is the first. That is why we praise the martyrs who died for their faith.

Afterwards we stopped for dinner at Cici before going back to the hotel. We were all mighty hungry.

Arlington National Cemetery

After the monastery, we went to Arlington National Cemetery. I have been to DC four or five times, but up until yesterday, I had never been to Arlington National Cemetery. I and some of the other people were talking about how each of the people buried there had a story. They weren’t just some nameless person, but they were someone’s son or daughter. They may have even been someone’s father or mother. The bodies buried in the mass graves of the Holocaust will be forever nameless, but each of those bodies was a person with a life and a story.

Below is a picture of John and Jackie Kennedys’ graves and the eternal flame.

We stayed for the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The unknown soldier may have saved the lives of some of his comrades before he died. He probably was a brother to his siblings when he was younger. Again, we just don’t know who the soldier is. And we will never know the gifts and talents of the 40 plus million babies who have died because murder is protected by law. Who knows, the person who could have found the cure for cancer, may have been killed in the womb. We just don’t know.

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land

After the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, we headed just down the road to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land. It is thus named because they have replicas of certain places in the Holy Land: Bethlehem, the Holy Sepulchre, and other places. It was pretty cool, but since I got the gift of going to the Holy Land in 2007, it just wasn’t the same.

Below is the altar in the Chapel of Purgatory. The monks pray and have Mass here during the month of November. Every Church should have a chapel dedicated to the souls in Purgatory. What an awesome idea.

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Yesterday morning I got to concelebrate at the 10 AM Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. What a great honor. There were lots of pilgrims there for the March for Life. What a beautiful place to worship. How fitting it is to celebrate Mass at a church dedicated to the conception of Jesus in the womb of the Blessed Mother the day before marching for the protection of human beings in the womb. Mary was young and unmarried. What if she had aborted Jesus? Yet, Mary and Joseph trusted God’s plan for their lives and welcomed Jesus, the Son of God, into the world. Thanks to their trust and yes to God, we have received our salvation, our ability to go to heaven and be with God forever.