Tuesday, May 19, 2015


This is my homily for this past Sunday, which in the south was Ascension Sunday:

Introduction: Europe has been way ahead of the United States in terms of abandoning religion and becoming merely a godless, secular state. In fact compared to Europe, the United States has traditionally been a very religious nation regardless of the religion that is practiced. But this is changing and quickly as the USA leap frogs toward equality with Europe in abandoning the practice of religion in favor of a godless, selfish secularism. A report released Tuesday by the Pew Forum finds that the total number of Catholics in the United States dropped by 3 million since 2007, now comprising about 20 percent – or one-fifth – of the total population.
And perhaps more troubling for the church, for every one Catholic convert, more than six Catholics leave the church. Taken a step further, Catholicism loses more members than it gains at a higher rate than any other denomination, with nearly 13 percent of all Americans describing themselves as “former Catholics.”

Now, most pundits think the bad news here is that the Catholic Church is shrinking or losing its influence in society and its prestige is being damaged. And while that may well be true, it misses the religious point that all believing and practicing Catholics should understand. When a Catholic, with full consent of the will, leaves the Church to become nothing, their eternal salvation is in jeopardy. 

The reasons for the Church are multifaceted but the rock bottom reason is for the personal salvation of sinners. In other words Christ’s Church exists to save people from going to hell. We should grieve the loss of souls just as a family would grieve the loss of a child who abandons the family. We want our children back just as the Church does.

Topic Statement: In his ascension, the Church becomes the necessary means by which Jesus Christ and salvation in Him are made known.

1.              By God’s grace we accomplish this by knowing our faith but more importantly by knowing, loving and serving our God.

A.             After the Second Vatican Council, when we moved away from the Baltimore Catechism to new and improved ways of teaching our children, we unfortunately discovered some time later, more than two generations later,  that new and improved was not improved but an impoverishment of our way of handing on the Faith.  It lacked clarity, purpose and mission.  It was all about feeling good about oneself and God, highly superficial and with no substance.  Compared to Pre-Vatican II times, we now have a generation or two of Roman Catholics who are totally illiterate about their faith and what faith they have is built on marshmallows not the solid rock of Jesus Christ.  This leads to a significant number of Catholics being very wishy washy about their faith, many no longer practice it .  And if one is taught only the psycho-babble of feel good religion and all or no religions are equal and there is no chance of going to hell, why in the hell should anyone remain Catholic. I'd join the "nones" too if I believe this sort of religious drivel.

B.             But faith formation can only go so far. There has to be a personal commitment to Jesus Christ and His Church no matter what. Catholics are in a personal relationship with God through the grace of Christ, not necessarily in a personal relationship with dogmas and doctrines as important as these are to inform our relationships with God and neighbor.  Pope Francis speaks often about his grandmother and grandmothers of his grandmother’s generation. They were not highly educated in the faith but were good and committed Catholics and handed on the faith of the Church to their children and grandchildren by the infectious love they had for God and His Church. They simply did the right thing and had the right faith because they loved God and the Church. They loved God and neighbor. They knew and loved God, pure and simple.

2.              We do what we are commissioned to do by giving witness as best we can to Jesus’ ministry to the sick, poor and sinners.

A.             Why in the world do we have here at St. Joseph's  a Saint Vincent de Paul Society, Family Advancement Ministries, Daybreak, the Kolbe Center, soup kitchens or prison ministry or hospital ministry?  Because Jesus has a special place in his heart for those who were broken, and rejected, those who live on the periphery of society and those who have chosen a path to damnation.  But more importantly, each and every lay Catholic has an obligation to witness to their Catholic faith at home, at work and in recreation.  We do so by word and deed.  We should never underestimate the power we have to propagate the faith to our spouses, our children; relatives, friends, and all we meet by the manner in which we conduct your lives.

B.             All seven sacraments of the Church show forth the real presence of Jesus Christ in a sacramental way, a presence that exists throughout the world.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in particular makes known the Word of God, the one Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and His desire to nourish, fortify and sustain His Church with His body, blood, soul and divinity so that we might be good Catholics in the world.  We are most blessed as Roman Catholics to have the real presence of Christ available to us in the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church, shrine or chapel throughout the world.  Jesus is still among us, we can see and speak to him and this presence is just as real as when he walked among us two thousand years ago.  This is the glory of the ascension, that Jesus by the Holy Spirit is everywhere in the world, not just in one location.

Conclusion:  Jesus has ascended to the right Hand of God the Father almighty, but He remains with us in and through the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.  As we celebrate this Holy Eucharist, which he has left us as a sign of His abiding presence, may we be inspire persevere in the true Faith until our last breath and until our Last Holy Communion when we hope to hear the Risen Lord say to us, "welcome good and faithful servant. Inherit the kingdom establish for you from all eternity."


jolly jansenist said...

The problem here is one of unbelief…the pundits, the religious columnists, the humanists and activists among us, and many so-called theologians, Priests, and ministers do not really believe that Christ came to save those who are lost…that is, to save their souls from eternal damnation. Why is that, you may ask…it is because they simply do not really believe the articles of the Creed…that Christ was born of a Virgin, raised from the dead (I mean like if you had been there with your Nikon you could've gotten it with a camera), ascended into Heaven and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
Having lost their faith in Christ's stated mission, they instead believe he came to make us self-realized, nice, warm and fuzzy, light and fluffy and, of course, to teach us to help everybody. Th-th-th-th-that's all folks…Looney Tunes theology.

Carol H. said...

When the Mass became focused on entertainment instead of on worship, we lost something. When Christ was reduced to just being 'one of us', instead of being the second person of the triune Almighty God-and someone we should humble ourselves before, we lost something. When loud happy clappy music replaced reverential silence, we lost the ability to contemplate what it means to be united with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. When the Eucharist became just one of many ways to be in Christ's presence, and the focus moved to His spiritual presence in the congregation, reverence of the Blessed Sacrament was lost.

I feel badly for those who have no deep spiritual roots. I feel angry when they try to change the Church so that we all suffer the same spiritual malnourishment. I know it's not entirely their faults that they are the way they are. I offer my morning offering for these souls, and for the souls of priests, and for the conversion of pagans. I encourage others to do the same.

Anonymous said...

WAY too many people here spend WAY too much time obsessing about hellfire and damnation. Not NEARLY as many people as you think will be sent to the eternal fires of hell.

Lighten up....enjoy life a bit. God is NOT out to get you.

northernhermit said...

I liked your homily, but I might partially disagree wit you concerning the new Catechism. As an adult I purchased a copy of that book, and thought it a good well written reference. By reading it cover to cover and being able to use it as a reference,its been most useful. I don't think I would have used the Baltimore Catechism in the same way, though I am one of those taught by the Baltimore catechism in grade school.

Anonymous said...

Father, if only more priests would give sermons like this I am sure the pews would start to fill again.

If I think of the sermons I have heard over the past 40-plus years all that sticks out is that I should love my neighbor - we should love one another - but there has never been any guidance as to what that literally means for me and for others ... there has been nothing from the majority of Sunday sermons that even comes close to what you have said here. But in many instances we can't blame the priests but rather the bishops for dictating what can and can't be said in the Sunday sermon.


jolly jansenist said...

No one here seems to be "obsessing about hellfire and damnation." Where do you get that? Also, on what authority do you have it that 1) WE think so many people will be in Hell and, 2) that they will not be? Oh, and God is not out to get us…we do a fine job of that all by ourselves.

Paul said...

The world has distracted us so that thoughts of Christ and His Church are forgotten or have become "irrelevant" to many.

The present government is doing everything it can Constitutionally-ish to merge The United States with the rest of the world.

The United States was an attempt to crawl out of the world's cesspool however people with authority were lured back in. They think the swimming is fine. They think it is unfair for some people to show a better way. Someone may not agree or be offended. They try to hide their guilt by luring others back in increasing numbers thinking that there is safety in numbers -- "they're doing it too!", "the do-gooders are hypocrites!".

There is no safety in numbers and there will be an accounting for each and every one of us.

Paul said...


God desires you to be with Him in Heaven. Satan is the one out to get you and he would be happy to get you -- if you let him.

We have been told that souls are falling into Hell like snowflakes. Does that mean a light dusting or white out conditions? Jesus has informed us how difficult it is. Life is short. Eternity is a long time.

I would remain vigilant and faithful.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, 6.56, unfortunately way too many will go to hell and way more than you or perhaps I can imagine. There is no good hiding your head in the sand, as has been done by many over recent years.

The problem is these days more people spend their time obsessing about how they can enjoy life without facing the reality of where that "enjoyment" could lead them.

Our Lord Himselp mentions hell in 46 verses. That's good enough for me, Anonymous. Perhaps you should go tell Him He needs to lighten up ...?


Bee said...

Hey Anonymous at 6:56,
I know you might think it's helpful (or just humorous) to make such comments to others, but some of us have gotten it into our heads to become saints, and so we think about how to do that and how it's going ... A LOT. And we talk about it to each other on the internet. Now, maybe the people who take it more easy in the Faith life will also be joining us in heaven, and won't that be swell. But, just like in college, there were people who decided to dedicate themselves to their studies to the exclusion of their social life, and others who thought that was a ridiculous thing to do. Both kinds probably made it to graduation, and both thought their choice was the right one, but I'm guessing the ones who applied themselves more seriously to their studies probably had better job offers and salaries than those who did not.

I do believe there is a hierarchy in heaven, and God rewards based on deeds done on earth(I expect the Virgin Mary has quite a high place). In fact, the scripture Fr. McD alluded to (Matt 25:21) suggests this. (His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’"

The choice is ours, but no one who takes their Faith seriously needs advice from those who are more casual. Believe me on this one.

Just sayin'.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

To the one who obsesses over the obsession here of hell fire and damnation, are you saying that it doesn't matter if you leave the Church or not, that we should lighten up about that? Are you a "none" and therefore do not believe that salvation history is about saving people from hell fire and damnation or do you believe that god and religion are invented for those who need a coping mechanism and something good on which to obsess?

If there is no God and no hell, then being a none would suit me just fine; I'd be just happy, not sad and you're okay and I'm okay.

To concerned about the CCC:

The CCC was and is a gift to the Church by Pope Saint John Paul II and has helped religious education text books to improve tremendously. The books I am thinking about are pre-CCC influnece from the 1970's and 80's. The CCC came out around 1993 I think.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

George when I went to publish your comment, I accidentally hit delete, so I copy it from the email and paste it here. sorry:

George has left a new comment on your post "WHEN IT COMES TO THE "NONES" WHO HAVE LEFT THE CAT...":

God, though He has the power to raise life out of stones, chose to come into our humanity according to the proper order and the nature of things He had created. According to God's ordained plan,It was necessary for His Son to take on our human nature in order to redeem mankind.The flesh and blood through which God would redeem mankind came from one of His creatures. He descended down to us in order to raise us up to Him. Now God, having all Power and being the Source of all, could exist in any part of His creation and not just in the Eternal Heaven. Being God, He could descend into His own creation, but we as mere creatures could not exist outside of that creation.
Now God did not desire that we as His creatures, with our rational soul and capacity to know, love, and serve Him, should come into existence, subsist, and then pass away into nothingness. If this were so then why would He come down into our flesh to suffer and die for our benefit? There are those who have this attitude of here today, gone tomorrow and that nothing will last and all will perish.
It is in our faith in the imperishable God that is the hope that our corrupt and perishable flesh will be re-constituted. Christ took on our flesh, suffered and died in it, and then at His resurrection, glorified it. Now Christ, being God, did not need our flesh, but this glorification of the body resulting from the inseparable unity of the Divine and human natures redounds to our benefit. When Christ ascended into Heaven, because of the inseparable unity of both His natures, His human body also ascended since it was now glorified. In the Glorified Body of Christ with which He ascended to the Eternal Heaven is the hope and promise that is ours if we conform our will to His and persevere in loving and serving Him through obedience to His Holy precepts, incorporated into the one,True Church.

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Anonymous said...

jolly jan,,,my comment about obsession with hellfire and damnation was aimed squarely at.....you.

The "authority" for the opinions I express comes directly from me.

jolly jansenist said...

Well, anonymous, I am certainly not obsessed with hellfire and damnation….and your "authority" is most unreliable.

jolly jansenist said...

Oh, and since we are on it, would someone please tell the Pope that the "global warming" that Jesus talks about in Scripture is not the Leftist political propaganda drivel he is now supporting.

Carol H. said...

Anon at 12:55, you may THINK that you are your own authority, but it appears to me that you are being played as Devil's Advocate.

Lefebvrian said...

Jolly Jansenist, I think it's interesting that you still believe that the pope is unaware that he is spouting leftist drivel and that, if corrected, he would cease.

Anonymous 2 said...


Why don’t you tell Pope Francis yourself? Don’t ask others to do your dirty work for you. And then you might want to go back in time and tell Pope Benedict. Then a bit further back in time and tell Pope St. John Paul II. Neither of them seems to have got the memo. All three are known leftists of course. And while we are on it, you might also want to tell Pope St. John Paul II what a fool he was for advising George W. Bush not to invade Iraq in 2003 (just as he had advised W’s dad in 1991)(Cardinal Ratzinger also opposed the 2003 invasion). What a silly, silly man (Pope St John Paul II not St. George, that is)! Shall we rename him Saint Neville?

jolly jansenist said...

Anoin 2, I haven't had an audience with the Pope recently, have you? But, I never heard the other Popes you mention embrace bad science or cultural hysteria. And, without getting into a long discussion, there is a big difference in condemning war, which is certainly the province of the Church, and supporting a "boutique" cultural ideology based upon knee-jerk pseudo-science.

jolly jansenist said...

Lefebvrian, I stand corrected. Thank you.

Anonymous 2 said...


What do you mean by embracing “bad science of cultural hysteria”? Why can’t Pope Francis be seen as building on the legacies of Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XIV (apart from the obvious fact that so-called conservatives in the Church, and of course American politics, hate Pope Francis but love the other two Popes, that is)? I suppose that when Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict, who was known as “the Green Pope” by the way, pronounce on the environment and climate change they are not embracing “bad science and cultural hysteria” for they can do no wrong (or perhaps their pronouncements are just inconvenient facts that are best overlooked):


Lefebvrian said...

When John Paul II and Benedict pronounced on man-made climate change, they were embracing bad science and cultural hysteria.

Better now?

Anonymous said...

gobshite jr, "On what authority do you have it" that "global warming is Leftist (capital L?)political propaganda drivel"?

Anonymous 2 said...


I appreciate the consistency, but no, it is just as bad really, perhaps even worse.

jolly jansenist said...

What Lefebvrian said.