Hope and Healing

Dear Friends in Christ: I am writing this letter in advance of the release of names by the Catholic Dioceses of Texas of those clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors over the last 70 years. As I compose this letter, I have no idea of how many names, what names or anything else concerning this issue, as the bishops have not shared this information with the priests in the parishes. As I receive information, I will share it with you. Sexual abuse is a tragic and horrible act. The sexual abuse of a minor is even...

What Baptism Really Means

Dear Friends in Christ: A few weeks ago we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. At that time we reflected upon our own baptisms as well as the example of Jesus being baptized by John in the Jordan River. For any number of reasons baptism and the importance of baptism is not what it once was for many Catholics. This is seen in that so many families delay baptism for their children and even more so in the reasons why baptism is delayed. There is often more excitement about the party following the baptism than in any aspect...

Be Prepared

Dear Friends in Christ: Above you see two examples of hatred, ignorance and intolerance. The one on the right is of our age. It is titled McJesus and is part of an exhibit in Israel that has outraged many Christians in the Holy Land. It depicts Jesus as the clown, Ronald McDonald. The one on the left is from about the year 200 A.D. and is known as the Alexamenos Graffito. It shows a Roman Christian and Jesus on the cross as a donkey. The caption translates as Alexamenos worships his god. While I do not think either of these examples...

Our True Identity

Dear Friends in Christ: On my desk is a photo taken from one of our parish pilgrimages to the Holy Land. It is a photo that was taken when the parishioners and I went to the Jordan River to renew our baptismal vows. Most of us probably do not think too much about our baptisms. It is most likely something that we acknowledge but don’t dwell upon. But in fact, it is one of the greatest aspects of our lives. It is the key to our identity. The answer to who we are and what we are is contained in the...

Epiphany

Dear Friends in Christ: With today’s feast of Epiphany, we conclude the Twelve Days of Christmas. Epiphany is one for the theologically richest days in the Church. The celebration of Epiphany in many Catholic cultures overshadows Christmas as the Feast of the Three Kings. The importance of this feast is that it recalls and celebrates the manifestation (in Greek: epiphania) of the divinity of Jesus and the recognition of his divinity by the whole world in the persons of the Magi of the East (Mt 2). Today as in the days of Jesus, we can see evidence of how threatening the...

In Memory of Fr. Mandry

Dear Friends in Christ: Two years ago today, I presided over the burial of one of my mentors, Fr. Stephen Mandry. Fr. Mandry (and he was always “Father Mandry”) was one of the most influential people in my life. I have spoken to you of him over the years. I met Father when I was in 7th grade. In the beginning, he was a figure bigger than life. Like a young child in admiration of his father, such was my esteem for Fr. Mandry. He had just come back from Rome where he completed his doctorate and was temporarily assigned to...

Joy to the World!

Dear Friends in Christ: Christmas is almost here! There is a joy in the air as we approach this great feast! Yet, no doubt, there are plenty of Scrooges who will want to rain on the parade and dampen the joy of our Holy Day with their pronouncements of “Ba Humbug!” These “prophets of doom and gloom” will relish in pointing out everything that is wrong in the world and that which isn’t perfect! They will attempt to guilt us and make us feel bad at the suffering that is indeed present and real. Some will point out how Christianity is...

Living a Life of Prayer

Dear Friends in Christ: Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming! But Jesus is already here! It is easy, especially at this time of year, to lose the forest for all of the trees. The entire point of Jesus’ coming into our world, abiding with us throughout our lives and His coming again in glory at the end of time, is to connect with us and to show us the Father’s love! The incarnation and nativity of our Lord 2000 years ago and his Second Coming mean little if we miss the opportunity to know, love and serve Jesus here and now. Knowing Jesus...

It’s About Jesus!

Dear Friends in Christ: A few years ago for Advent, I gave one sentence homilies. People seemed shocked at first that the homily was so short. Actually, many were incredulous! Though very quickly it became quite evident that people seemed to truly enjoy them. In fact, there have been a number of parishioners who have suggested and requested in the years since that I repeat those homilies during Advent. While many enjoyed the brevity, I learned that most people could not remember what the four, short sentences were! Needless to say, that did not build up my confidence as a homilist...

The Holy Season of Advent

Dear Friends in Christ: Watch! Prepare! Rejoice! Behold! These are the themes for the holy season of Advent. The question is: will it really be holy? The answer depends upon us. A lot of people bemoan the commercialization, stress and whatnot of the secularized holiday season. I advocate that we not do that. Instead of complaining or lamenting about the holidays do something about it – make them holy! Make Advent a true time of preparing for and welcoming Jesus anew in our lives. Like Lent, the season of Advent is both a period of preparation and penance. As things can get...