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On Free Will

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/09/09 at 12:00 AM

• While most Catholic pilgrims to the city of Paris generally flock to Notre Dame, Sacré Coeur, Sainte-Chapelle and Rue de Bac, my favorite church in Paris is Saint-Étienne-du- Mont, which though off the beaten path a bit, is just as stunningly beautiful as the more famous houses of worship in the City of Light.
• Best known for being the resting place of St. Genevieve, Paris’ patroness, Saint-Étienne also houses the tomb of the French philosopher and physicist, Blaise Pascal, whom most of us know for his famous wager!
• Pascal’s wager states that it is a better bet for a man to believe in God and embrace His commandments, rather than not believe in God and live contrary to His laws.
• For if a man believes in God and tries to live a virtuous life, but finds upon death that there is no God, all that he lost was of finite value – perhaps some of life’s pleasures.
• But if a man does not believe in God and lives contrary to His laws, and finds upon death that there is a God, then his loss will be infinite, for he will have lost his soul for eternity.
• Pascal’s point was that we all wager our souls by the way we live. Either we live for God, or we live for ourselves. And in Pascal’s mind, it makes much more sense to live according to God’s laws rather than risk our souls on the fleeting pleasures of sin.
• This bold and startling reality of all of us having to choose either for God and His commandments or against Him is set before us today in our readings.
• Sirach tells us today in no uncertain terms that God will honor our choice. He says: “Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.” He also tells us that, “if [we] trust in God, [we] shall live.”
• And in the Gospel Jesus makes it clear that He has not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them! Those who break God’s commandments and teach others to do so will be the least in the kingdom of heaven.
• “But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” And then He goes on to discuss how to overcome certain sins.
• So it seems rather simple, doesn’t it? If we just follow God’s commandments, we will be saved, right? The short answer is yes!
• If we obey the Ten Commandments while also keeping the 2 greatest commandments of truly loving God above all else and loving our neighbor as ourselves, we have every right to hope in God’s salvation. Just as Sirach tells us today, “If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you.”
• But always keeping the commandments in each and every circumstance, and choosing to love God above all else and our neighbors as ourselves isn’t always as easy as it sounds, is it? Sometimes, even when we know better, we disobey God’s laws, don’t we?
• That’s the scourge of concupiscence; it’s our sad inheritance from Adam and Eve’s sin.
• Our Father in Heaven has given us the great gift of free will so that we might choose to love Him by following His commands. However this same great gift that enables us to love God
can be used by us to turn against God. That’s the problem!
• Even for those of us who know and love God and who believe in the truths of our Catholic
faith, always choosing for God is difficult, for we all have to wrestle with 3 great foes: the
world, the flesh, and the devil. At times they are fierce foes indeed!
• Each of these foes can work against us so that we use our free will not for loving God, but for
turning away from Him. So let’s look at each of them.
• St. Paul speaks a little bit about the influence of the world in our epistle today, noting how the wisdom of our faith runs contrary to the wisdom of the world. Just as in Paul’s day, our Catholic values stand in stark contrast to the values our culture now embraces.
• When the culture around you espouses tantalizing and enticing values like sexual freedom, the importance of wealth and material goods, and moral relativism, it’s easy to begin believing that the world’s values are the right values.
• What makes things worse in our society is that our government is now embracing as good things contrary to the very laws of nature, like same sex unions and contraception.
• And as these evils are enshrined into our laws, it makes it easier for the poorly formed Christian to believe the lie that these evils are good, and it makes it harder for the well formed Christian to practice his faith with integrity.
• As for the devil, we must remember two things: First, that he is alive and well and working to take our souls to hell; second, that he is a liar who, like a skillful politician, will often use half truths to tempt us to sin – just as he did with Adam and Eve.
• Not every temptation we experience comes from the evil one and his demons, but certainly some of them do. The hallmarks of his handiwork are fear, despair, pride, hatred, and unfulfilled promises of pleasure and power for the sins we commit.
• Lastly, we must deal the flesh, i.e., our own passions and willfulness that often lead us to do what we know is wrong. The difficulty of the flesh is that our passions can be strong, and it is very easy to develop sinful habits and addictions that can be hard to break.
• Just as the virtues grow into good habits through repeatedly using our will to act virtuously, so too do the vices grow into bad habits whenever we repeatedly commit a sin. Sadly, many people today are absolutely enslaved by their sinful habits.
• Those who are enslaved by sin often believe that they can never be free of their sins. This is exactly what the devil wants us to believe. He wants us to believe we can never be free of our sinful habits so that we despair and ultimately turn away from God.
• This, too, is one of his lies. For even a man with the most vicious of addictions never fully loses the ability to exercise his will. While our capacity to exercise our wills for the good may be mitigated by our habits, we always retain some capacity to choose rightly.
• And in the spiritual battle we must all wage for our souls against the world, the flesh, and the devil, our Catholic faith gives us many powerful weapons. Of course first and foremost are the sacraments, most especially Holy Communion and confession.
• Frequent recourse to these two sacraments forgives our sins, strengthens us in virtue, and gives us the courage to say no to temptations.
• The practices of prayer, fasting, and alms giving, as well as meditating on Sacred Scripture and the faithful use of the Church’s sacramentals also greatly aid us.
• We must also have recourse to the angels and saints, most especially Our Lady, for as the Virgin Most Powerful, she has the ability to crush the head of the devil, and as the Help of Christians, she gently helps to form us in virtue and strengthen us against sin.
• Lastly, simply asking God to help you love Him more than you love your sins during those moments of temptation often procures for us the grace we need to avoid sin.
• My brothers and sisters, while our fallen human nature often makes it difficult for us to win every battle against sin and temptation, by God’s grace we can win the war for our souls. We must never lose heart, even if our sins are great, for God’s grace is sufficient!
• So let us entrust ourselves to aid of Our Lady, who never fails to show her children the path to Heaven. With her help may our wills be strengthened to do what is right so that we may all be saints some day!

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

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Having Hope

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/09/02 at 12:00 AM
  • When someone whom we love dies, we often console ourselves with thoughts of their salvation and the joys we hope they are experiencing in Heaven.
  • Knowing of our Lord’s mercy – which is beyond all understanding – and trusting in the promise of salvation for those who love Him, consoling ourselves in this way is only natural. And, in a Christian context, it can be an act of faith.
  • One of the greatest consolations of hoping in someone’s eternal salvation is knowing by faith that the veil of death separating heaven and earth is not completely impenetrable. Indeed, at times that veil can seem very thin indeed.
  • Many of us, no doubt, have had experiences of feeling the presence of deceased loved ones at certain moments in life. Even though we know they are dead and gone, even though we cannot see them, we just know that they are with us.
  • Sometimes we just know that they’re looking out for us.
  • Thus it is that we rejoice in our faith that the souls in Heaven, whom we call the ChurchTriumphant, are like a great cloud of witnesses who pray and intercede for us – mostespecially that one day, we too will join them.
  • In fact, so confident was she in her own salvation and so sure in our Catholic beliefsabout the intercessory power of the souls in Heaven, St. Thérèse of Lisieux wrote in herautobiography that she would spend her eternity in Heaven doing good on earth!
  • The Little Flower said that she would rain down roses from Heaven! And our piousbelief is that when one prays to St. Thérèse and she intercedes with our Lord to answerour prayer, she sends us roses as a confirmation.
  • As someone who has been praying novenas to St. Thérèse for over 20 years, I can attestto having received dozens of roses from her in a variety of ways, along with the answersto my prayers. She’s truly a most generous and consoling saint.
  • And today, as we celebrate our Lord’s entry into Heaven 40 days after His resurrection,we should find even more consolation – for as our Lord, Jesus is infinitely closer to usthan even the saints.
  • Perhaps it seems ironic that the Lord and the souls in Heaven are closer to us in Heaventhan they were on earth, and yet that’s the promise our Lord makes to us in the Gospelof St. Matthew as He ascends into Heaven.
  • Whereas St. Mark’s account of the Ascension stresses the marvelous gifts that will begiven to those who believe Him, i.e., the ability to cast out devils, to speak new languages, to handle serpents, to drink poison, and to heal the sick, St. Matthew simply records our Lord saying that He will be with us always, until the end of the age.
  • What a marvelous thought: our Lord is always with us! For those of us who are baptized, our Lord is not only with us, He is within us – living within our very souls.
  • As if it were not enough for God to become man – and an infant at that! As if it were not enough for Him to suffer and die unjustly for us. As if it were not enough to give us His body, blood, soul and divinity in Holy Communion, our Lord chooses to dwell supernaturally within the souls of all the baptized who remain in a state of grace!
  • My fellow Christians, do you understand what this means? Can you grasp the sheer magnificence of this gift? Can you fathom your own dignity at being the very dwelling place of the Lord – a Temple of the Holy Spirit?
  • Just as Jesus did not leave the Father when He came to earth and took on our human flesh, neither does He leave us as He ascends to the Father! In fact, our bonds with Him are made even stronger.
  • And His presence with us is not merely a natural presence, as God is naturally present in the earth, the skies, the seas, and in all of this beautiful world that He has created.
  • When we speak of God’s omnipresence, we recognize that God is present in all of His creatures, and His natural presence in His creatures is what sustains them in being and makes them what they are.
  • But our Lord’s indwelling within the souls of those in sanctifying grace is a supernatural presence, that is, beyond the natural. This divine indwelling is a special gift to those who love God and enjoy His friendship by obeying His Word.
  • What the saints teach us is that this divine indwelling is a special intimacy with God, an intimacy that enables us to know God as He truly is, just as only a man knows his wife as she truly is.
  • And in this knowledge, we are given the capacity to love Him as He desires to be loved.
  • Thus, the divine indwelling is the greatest of God’s gifts to man, for from thissupernatural gift springs our capacity to cooperate with God’s saving grace! If we havethe gift of sanctifying grace at the moment of our death, we will be saved!
  • Yet notice that I said “if.” In other words, this great gift of our Lord’s indwelling can belost. Indeed, it is lost if we commit a mortal sin, and can only be regained through thegrace of a good confession.
  • Thus, those of us who are baptized and have received this great gift of God’s indwellingare charged with tremendous responsibility.
  • Firstly, we must strive to keep our souls clean from all sin. For while only mortal sincan rob us of the divine indwelling, even venial sin weakens our intimacy with our Lordand displeases Him Whom we should love with our whole hearts.
  • Secondly, we must show our gratitude to God for this gift of Himself by striving to adornour souls with all virtue and banish from them all that is not compatible with Hispresence.
  • Lastly, we must be our Lord’s witnesses to the ends of the earth – just as He charged Hisdisciples to be – so that other souls can be brought to Christ and enjoy this sameintimacy with our Lord.
  • My dear brothers and sisters, today we celebrate our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven. Sowhile our Lord is no longer physically present on this earth as He was with His disciples, He is still with us – present not only in His Word and sacraments, but in our very souls.
  • Indeed, for those of us who have been baptized and live in His sanctifying grace, He is closer to us than we can possibly imagine!
  • May we never despair of our Lord’s love for us or of His presence in our lives, but may we strive always to live in His sanctifying grace and thereby become worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Cultivating a Spirit of Generosity

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/09/02 at 12:00 AM

 

  • During his time as pastor of the small parish of Ars, St. John Vianney was well known for his austere lifestyle. Though diocesan priests do not take a formal vow of poverty, parish priests in the 19th century often lived very poor lives.
  • Certainly the patron saint of parish priests was no different. St. John wished to live the same sort of life as his poor parishioners, and so he did not permit himself many of the creature comforts he could have availed himself of.
  • Yet when one visits his parish church in Ars, France, and tours the building that was his rectory, one notices that although his home was quite simple and not terribly comfortable, St. John did have very beautiful vestments!
  • This is because St. John Vianney believed that poverty ends at the Communion rail. In other words, there is nothing too good for God! Our Lord deserves only the very best that we can give when we come to worship Him.
  • So when it came to purchasing items used for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, St. John Vianney used what little money he had to acquire the nicest things possible. Rather than spending his hard earned money on himself, St. John spent it on God.
  • He was a man who, amongst his many other virtues, had his priorities in line. God had first place in the life of St. John Vianney, and this is why he is a saint.
  • Knowing what’s important in life and keeping our priorities straight is really the theme of our readings today.
  • In our first reading we hear this beautiful story of King Solomon, to whom God appears in a dream offering to answer any request. And what does Solomon ask for?
  • He says, “Give your servant…an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”
  • And because Solomon asked for the gift of wisdom rather then riches, a long life, or the defeat of his enemies, God is pleased with him and happily grants his request.
  • In his considerable wisdom Solomon knew what was important to ask for, and God, in turn, gave Solomon a wisdom that became renown throughout the world.
  • Today’s Responsorial Psalm, too, speaks of how we should value God’s laws above thousands of gold and silver pieces, of how we should value God’s command more than gold, however fine.
  • Of course our Gospel today speaks of the value of salvation, and how the person who understands the value of salvation will joyfully do whatever is necessary to attain it.
  • Following upon last week’s Gospel that spoke of the separation of the weeds and wheat and how the weeds will be gathered into bundles and burned, today’s Gospel also speaks of the separation of the wicked from the righteous, and the casting of the wicked into “the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
  • In other words, we must never presume upon salvation, for there will be a reckoning for all of us. The presumption of this Gospel is that some people won’t make it through the pearly gates into the eternal life of Heaven.
  • So that is why we must strive to get our priorities straight now – here on earth – while there is still time to do so.
  • If we take our readings seriously today, we must ask ourselves, “What are my priorities in this life?” Or, “what is my pearl of great price?” Even more pointedly, we need to ask ourselves if getting to Heaven is our highest priority.
  • Generally speaking, the answers to these questions can be found by looking at our bank statements and calendars, for they tell us how we spend our time and money.
  • But rather than approach these important questions out of a servile fear of hell, I think it’s good for us simply to look at God and all the many blessings He bestows upon us, and then set about ordering our lives.
  • My dear brothers and sisters, do you understand how much our Lord loves you? Do you realize the great gift of grace it is to be not only alive and well, but to be Catholic?
  • Are you not amazed that in His goodness, God is willing to pardon even the worst and most wicked of sins if only we repent of it, so great is His desire to save us?
  • It’s astounding really – and the only proper response is to be grateful and to live our lives in gratitude to God for His many gifts.
  • To be sure, our lives will be much more joyful if we order them out of gratitude, rather than allowing them to be ruled by fear. And so we must constantly show our gratitude to God for His blessings, His grace, and His mercy toward us.
  • While in our gratitude we’ll never be able to repay God for all that He gives us, we still have to try. We must try to be generous to God just as He is generous to us. Treating God as He deserves to be treated should be our highest priority in life.
  • Generosity can take many forms. We can be generous with our money and material resources, with our time, with our talents and abilities. We can even be generous with things like our fertility.
  • What’s important is that we realize that everything we have – whether it is our money, our property, our talents, or any of our blessings – are gifts from the Almighty. And so when we give of these things, we are simply passing on what has been given to us!
  • Of course we should do our best to be generous by tithing on our income and sharing our material goods with others.
  • We should also be generous stewards of our time by praying daily and looking for opportunities to use our God-given talents to serve others.
  • But most importantly, let us be generous with our hearts by truly loving God. Let us be quick to obey Him with joy, trusting that doing His will is the very best thing that can ever happen to us.
  • As we go about seeking to be generous to Him by being generous to others, let us do so courageously, placing all our faith in the simple fact that we can never outdo God in generosity, and that He will always repay us for our service to others.
  • My brothers and sisters, our readings call us today to really examine our lives and our priorities. They call us to bear in our minds the importance of salvation, and thus they call us to make God and the practice of our faith our highest priority.
  • Like St. John Vianney and all the saints, may we love God above all else and truly make Him our highest priority. Let us serve Him generously in this life, so that we may be assured of enjoying His mercy for all eternity.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Christianity in Eastern Europe

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/08/26 at 12:00 AM
  • This past week several of your fellow parishioners and I had the great joy of visiting St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, which is one of the world’s greatest gothic churches.
  • Whenever I travel – especially out of the country – I like to visit important churches not simply because they are churches, but because the art and architecture of a church provides great insight into the faith life of a people.
  • The culture of a particular place is always an expression of a people’s most deeply held beliefs. Churches, which are (at least in part) an expression of culture, are thus a sign of a people’s love for God and their faith in Him.
  • At the time that St. Vitus was begun in the 14th c., Prague was in the midst of its “golden age.” It was one of the wealthiest and most culturally sophisticated cities in Europe, and Prague was a stronghold of the Catholic faith. But times have changed.
  • Though a great monument to faith, sadly there are very few worshipers at St. Vitus today. Most people who visit today simply tramp through the place as if it’s only a museum, whose artifacts, beautiful as they are, hearken back to a distant past with no real relevance for today.
  • Yet this was not the case in the beautiful churches and pilgrimage places of Poland, which were filled with pious Poles praying and doing devotions in every nook and cranny.
  • So while both Poland and the Czech Republic are filled with magnificent churches and beautiful monuments that testify to the glories of Christendom, on the whole we found the Polish people to be far more faithful than the Czechs.
  • Certainly there are historical and political reasons for this difference. While Poland and the Czech Republic were both Communist bloc countries following World War II, the Czech Republic experienced a harsher form of Communism than did Poland. How Catholicism was linked or not linked to nationalism in each country has also played a role.
  • But while culture, history, and politics have all played a role in shaping how the Catholic faith is practiced in each country, I don’t think that’s the full story as to why there are such differences in the practice of the faith between Poland and the Czech Republic.
  • In the same way, I don’t think we can look only at familial and cultural circumstances to understand why a single person practices the Faith or not. While familial and cultural circumstances play a role in a person’s faith and practice thereof, there’s more to it than that.
  • In fact, the person who made the greatest impression on me on this pilgrimage wasn’t a pious Pole, but an elderly Czech sacristan at a church in Prague. This man didn’t speak any English, but the tender affection in his eyes and the filial devotion he showed in kissing my hands when I came to offer Mass in his church spoke volumes about his faith.
  • Despite the general loss of faith and overwhelming secularism of his country, this man has obviously chosen to continue loving God and the Church. I have every confidence that his is a faith that is tried and true because He has made a fundamental choice to love and trust God.
  • You see, t the very heart of faith is an act of the will. While faith is a gift that is not necessarily given in equal measures by our Lord, it is a gift that we must choose to open and to use.
  • In other words, belief in God and closeness to Him is not dependent on God alone. While some souls are chosen by our Lord for special tasks and higher degrees of holiness – and are therefore closer to Him – all of us can be close to our Lord. All of us can be faithful!
  • We just have to choose to practice our faith. And choosing to practice our faith as our Lord would have us practice it is really a matter of simply choosing to love God.
  • A person can certainly practice the tenets of our Faith for reasons other than the love of God, but no one can practice the Faith with integrity without truly loving God.
  • As St. Peter says today, we must “sanctify Christ as Lord in [our] hearts,” which is another way of saying that Jesus must reign as the king of our heart. It’s a way of saying that we must love and trust Jesus because He is Lord.
  • And our Gospel today teaches us that we love our Lord by being faithful to Him and to His commandments. Jesus says to us: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. . . . Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.”
  • But He goes on to say, “And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
  • So what we learn from the Gospel today is that love has a price. Truly loving God requires that we submit to Him, that we obey Him – which means being obedient to the teachings and tenets of His one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, which safeguards Christ’s teachings.
  • We cannot say that we truly love God if we are disobedient to the Church’s teachings. True love is not rebellious; it is submissive – even when it doesn’t fully understand.
  • Thus, there has never been a saint who wasn’t obedient to Christ and to the authentic teachings of His Church. Indeed, saints are people who are willing to die rather than be disobedient to Christ and His Church – and so should we be!
  • Of course being obedient to Church teaching isn’t always easy, is it? Inundated as we are by rampant secularism, sensuality, and materialism in our culture, being obedient to Christ and His Church is often counter-cultural and requires a true death to self and to worldly ways.
  • But the Gospel today also teaches us that God more than repays us if we choose to be obedient to Him out of love. Not only will our Lord love us in return, but He will reveal Himself to us! He tells us that He will not leave us orphans, but that He will come to us.
  • So by choosing to love God by being obedient, we dispose our Lord to uniting Himself to us – even in this life – which prepares us for eternal union with Him in the next life! By obediently loving God and faithfully trusting in Him, we open ourselves up to God’s mercy!
  • One of the great consolations of this pilgrimage was our visit to the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, which is where St. Faustina received so many of her revelations from our Lord about His divine mercy.
  • It seemed that in every church we visited (in both countries) we found an image of the Divine Mercy, just like we have in our narthex. To me, seeing the Divine Mercy image so often was a reminder that God’s mercy is always available to us.
  • Seeing the Divine Mercy image in so many, many places was a reminder that, even when we turn away from our Lord and immerse ourselves in worldly pursuits and values, His love is still there for us, His heart is still open to us. All we need to do is turn back to Him.
  • It was a reminder that God deserves our love, our trust, and our obedience.
  • Practicing our faith and being obedient to God and His commands is not always easy, mybrothers and sisters, but I assure you, loving God in this way is worth the effort, for itprocures for us that mercy without which we cannot be saved.
  • Through our Lord’s divine mercy, may each of us be given the gift of a deep and lively faith.May we choose to exercise this faith and love our Lord through our obedience to His teachings. And may His mercy be upon us as we place our trust in Him.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Wheat and Weeds

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/08/19 at 12:00 AM
  • The cathedral church in Orvieto, Italy, is most often visited because it is the home of the famous, blood-stained corporal that attests to the Eucharistic miracle of 1263 in the nearby town of Bolsena, which led to the institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi.
  • As fascinating as it is to see this corporal upon which a Eucharistic Host began to bleed during a Mass offered by a priest who doubted the Real Presence, in the opposite transept of the church is another extraordinary marvel worth seeing: the Chapel of San Brizio.
  • In the Chapel of San Brizio are the magnificent frescos of The Last Judgment and The Apocalypse begun by Fra Angelico in 1447, but primarily executed by Luca Signorelli between 1499 and 1504.
  • Not only are these frescoes magnificent in their artistic worth and composition, but they’re downright frightening in their portrayal of souls being carried to hell by demons and the events of the end times.
  • Perhaps the most frightening aspect of all is the fresco that shows a Christ-like figure standing on a pedestal amidst a large crowd of people, who have piled gifts at his feet. But to his side is the devil, who is whispering into his ear.
  • When you see this fresco, you’re tempted to ask the question, “Why is Jesus letting the devil whisper in His ear like that?” But upon closer inspection, you find that, though this figure bears many of Christ’s attributes, his eyes and facial expression are not those of our Savior.
  • There is no warmth in those eyes, nor strength or mercy. Only the vacuous and blank look of one in the control of another, more sinister force. This is Signorelli’s depiction of the Antichrist, who masquerades his evil as goodness.
  • He will appear to many – if not most – to speak and act and even appear like Christ Himself, but subtlely he will sow seeds of dissension from the Church’s true teachings, and with his lies and half-truths bring about the persecution of the Church and damnation for many souls.
  • What Signorelli shows us in such masterly fashion in this fresco is that it is often difficult to distinguish evil from good in the world today, for it is a common ploy of the evil one to disguise evil as good.
  • As the Gospel tells us today, weeds and the wheat very often grow together. The problem is that when weeds and wheat first begin to grow, they very often look very much alike.
  • In fact, the weeds referred to in the parable are called darnel, which look just like wheat. When the plants are young, it is almost impossible to distinguish them. And both plants produce a head.
  • The difference is that the wheat head produces fruit: wheat grain, while the darnel head produces nothing. That’s why the people in the parable were not able to recognize the weeds until the wheat crop grew and bore fruit, at which point it was difficult to pull up the weeds without hurting the wheat crop.
  • We can see a real-life example of this parable in the proliferation of federal judges striking down laws banning same-sex unions across our country, despite the will of the voters who put those laws on the books.
  • Disguising the evil of these unions as a civil right and even akin to the natural union of man and woman, this terrible weed is now being sown into the soil of our society.
  • Yet, like the darnel of the Gospel that looks a lot like wheat, in the end, same sex unions are incapable of producing any fruit, which is the primary purpose and good of the marital union.
  • In fact, calling same sex unions “marriages” changes the very nature and purpose for which God designed marriage and the marital act. Trying to redefine something designed and instituted by God Himself is the height of hubris and an act of preposterous pride.
  • Sadly, many people in our society today – even Catholics – say, “What business is it of mine what my neighbor does in his private life.” And believing absolutely in the American value of respect for privacy, we turn a deaf ear and a blind eye and hope that it will all go away.
  • But there are a couple of problems to this approach, my dear brothers and sisters. First of all, the devil is a good farmer, and he will continue sowing his weeds of evil as long as he has fertile ground to do so.
  • Moreover, while respecting our neighbor’s privacy is a good thing, do we not care about his soul? While it may be polite to mind our own business, are we not failing in charity if we do nothing to help our neighbor see the truth?
  • Furthermore, do we not care that God is so terribly offended by sin? Not just by this sin, but every sin! And if we are true in our love for God, should we not try to help others live godly lives while striving to live godly lives ourselves?
  • Most importantly, have we forgotten that there will be a reckoning some day? This is one of the primary points of the Gospel today…and one of the most fascinating and frightening aspects of Signorelli’s frescoes in Orvieto.
  • The weeds and the wheat will be harvested, my dear brothers and sisters, with the wheat being gathering into our Lord’s barn. But the weeds shall be tied into bundles and burned.
  • And so we must choose whether we are going to be weeds or wheat, whether we are going to be the children of God or the children of the evil one.
  • Hopefully we will trust in our Lord’s promises of mercy and become His children. For as our first reading points out, even though our Lord is all-powerful, his “mastery over all things makes [Him] lenient to all.” Our Lord desires our repentance; He is good and forgiving.
  • Yet our faith demands that we be concerned not only with our own salvation. We must care for the salvation of others as well. We must help others along the path to Heaven. This means helping people to distinguish between good and evil, between weeds and wheat.
  • As we live in a country dominated politically by two parties that are often opposed on moral issues, it is easy to sink into an “us-versus-them” mentality when these moral issues come up, and simply write off as enemies those who disagree with us.
  • But that’s not acceptable. In addition to striving to be always children of God ourselves, we must also pray for the conversion of those children of the evil one. And we must also oppose any efforts on their part to sow their evil seeds in our society.
  • The salvation of many depends upon this. If we do not stand up to evil when the seeds are being sown, the weeds may very well overtake the wheat.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Bridge Between Liturgical Season

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/08/12 at 12:00 AM

• As you know, because we offer both the old Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass here at St. Ann’s, we operate with two different liturgical calendars.
• When the liturgy was changed in the wake of Vatican II, the liturgical calendar was revised as well. And because the two forms of the Mass have different calendars, we occasionally find ourselves in two different liturgical seasons on the same Sunday. This is true today.
• In the new calendar the Season of Christmas ended last Sunday with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, and now we find ourselves in Ordinary Time. But in the Latin Mass we have now entered the Season after the Epiphany, which is really an extension of Christmastide.
• But even though the Christmas Season in the new liturgical calendar ended last Sunday, we still find the vestiges of Christmas lingering on today in our readings as we cling to themes we enjoyed in the Epiphany and Baptism of our Lord.
• Our first reading from Isaiah speaks of the “light to the nations” so that “salvation may reach to the ends of the earth,” which recalls the prominent themes of the Epiphany.
• And in our Gospel story today we have St. John the Baptist’s testimony to the Spirit descending upon Jesus like a dove, a clear reference to our Lord’s baptism.
• So why are we lingering with Christmas themes now that we are in Ordinary Time? Simply put, because Christmas is important! The Christmas Season is important to our Catholic faith because it is in the liturgies of the Christmas Season that we learn Who Jesus truly Is.
• You see, Christmas for Catholics is not simply the anniversary of our Lord’s birth. Christmas is the celebration that our Lord Jesus, veiled in human flesh, comes to us to dwell with us, to be one of us, so that He can save us from our sins.
• Christmas isn’t just an anniversary for us; it’s a mystery!
• So throughout the Christmas Season we see this gradual unfolding of the revelation of
the divinity of Christ. First, we see our God-Made-Man as a tiny baby, born in a cave and lying in a manger to be adored by His parents and local shepherds beckoned by an angel.
• But we learn very quickly that He is no ordinary babe. As we celebrate the major feasts of the Christmas Season we find that Jesus is indeed the Messiah of whose prophecies we heard throughout the season of Advent.
• Born of a virgin, Christ is revealed as the Light to All Nations in the Epiphany, as Magi from the East come to pay Him homage, following the light of a mighty star.
• This revelation in His Epiphany is repeated in His baptism and at the wedding feast of Cana – two other mysteries closely associated with the Epiphany.
• In seeing these revelations of the Word-Made-Flesh, in coming to the realization that God loves us so much that He became one of us, we are prepared for the Paschal Mystery, which is the mystery of our Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection.
• For Christ did not become man simply for the fun of it. He became man so that He might suffer and die for us, and thereby save us from our sins! As St. Augustine put it, Jesus became man so that men could become like God.
• As John the Baptist proclaims in our Gospel today, Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” a proclamation so important that we proclaim it as well in triple fashion at every Mass.
• As the Son of God, Jesus has come to earth to be the Lamb of God, the One who will sacrifice Himself on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins.
• So while today’s readings hearken back to Christmas, our Gospel also points us toward Holy Week, when we will see this Lamb slain. As such today’s Mass acts as a sort of transition between liturgical seasons.
• So the love incarnate revealed to us in the Christmas Season prepares us for the sacrificial love we’ll encounter at Easter.
• This love of God we see poured forth in the mystery of the Incarnation invites us to meditate more deeply on Who Jesus Is, and what the revelation of His love means to our lives.
• To be sure, the magnificent love we see in our Lord becoming man to save us from our sins calls us to a certain response and to a certain responsibility. In response we must first be inclined to give both thanks and praise to our Almighty God for this great, unmerited gift.
• Indeed, human history is all too clear that man has never deserved God’s love and mercy. Made in His image and likeness, we have all too often mired ourselves in the muck of human sinfulness. Yet God, in His unfathomable love, extends His mercy to us anyway.
• And thus our thanks to God and our praise of Him should know no bounds. For we can never repay the Lord for His goodness to us.
• But this inability to repay God’s mercy does put a responsibility upon us: that of doing our best to live a life of holiness. The daily dying to ourselves so that we might rise with Christ in holiness is our baptismal call.
• As St. Paul tells the Corinthians today, we are called to be holy. We are called to be holy so that we may be “a light to the nations, that [the Lord’s] salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” This is a demand that our beautiful Catholic faith makes upon us.
• Throughout the Christmas Season we received the manifestation of the Word-Made- Flesh. We are called to have faith in the divinity of Jesus; we are called to have faith in His power to save us.
• But as St. James tells us, faith without works is dead (cf. Jas 2:26). So what do we do to grow in holiness? What are the works necessary to keep our faith alive?
• First we must remember the highest commandments that Jesus Himself gave us: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:37, 39).
• St. Teresa of Ávila teaches that the very best measure of one’s love for God is actually how one treats his neighbor. This is why the Church has always recommended to us the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
• And this is exactly why we’re filling this 40-foot container with food and other supplies for the folks in Jamaica! Doing so isn’t just beneficial for the poor in Jamaica; it’s also good for us and for our souls!
• But ever before we begin doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, we must begin with prayer and worship. And as Catholics, we must frequent the sacraments.
• This is why Catholic are obliged to come to Mass every Sunday and to receive Holy Communion at least once a year. Holy Mother Church knows that worshiping our Lord in Mass and receiving Him in Holy Communion is necessary for our salvation.
• But underlying our worship and reception of the sacraments must be a deep, abiding, and personal love for God, which can only be formed in prayer.
• For it is in our prayer that God speaks to us and reveals Himself to us. It is in prayer that God gives Himself to us and we can fully give ourselves to Him, just as a bride entrusts herself to her bridegroom on their wedding night.
• It is in prayer that we share now in the divine intimacy that will find its completion only in the glories of heaven. So make time to pray everyday in order to strengthen your love for God.
• Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: our Lord has revealed Himself to us as both the Son of God and the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Let us respond to Him by growing in holiness and loving Him as we should.
• By doing so, may we be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/08/05 at 12:00 AM

 One of the most amazing and important pieces of literature from the Church’s history is a text called: Passio Sts Perpetua et Felicitatis.
 This historical text contains the account of the arrest, imprisonment, and martyrdom of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity and their fellow martyrs in the North African city of Carthage in 203 AD. We celebrated their feast day this past Thursday.
 The document includes both St. Perpetua’s own personal testimony of the events leading up to her death, as well as the first person account of one of her fellow martyrs, a man by the name of Saturus. There’s also a brief introduction as well as a ‘blow-by-blow’ account of the martyrs’ deaths written by an editor who was an eyewitness.
 This document is important because it’s one of the oldest surviving texts written by a Christian woman, and it’s one of the few personal accounts of the martyrdom of a Christian woman. The story is incredibly compelling.
 St. Perpetua was a young noble woman who had recently given birth, and St. Felicity was her slave, who also was pregnant. They were arrested in the persecution of Septimus Severus for being catechumens, i.e., people preparing for baptism into the Church.
 After refusing to recant their Catholic faith and going ahead with bapism, the women were imprisoned, where St. Felicity eventually gave birth to a daughter.
 Eventually, the women and their fellow martyrs were led to an amphitheatre, where they were mauled by wild animals and eventually killed by the swords of gladiators. As gruesome as it sounds, the account of their martyrdom is really quite inspiring and beautiful.
 It speaks of the martyr’s peacefulness and rejoicing, of how they were rapt in such prayerful ecstasy that they didn’t even feel the attacks of the animals, and of how they gave each other the kiss of peace before being put to the sword.
 Most amazing is the editor’s account of St. Perpetua’s death as she was led to the sword.
 He wrote: “But Perpetua, that she might experience the pain more deeply, rejoiced over her broken body and guided the shaking hand of the inexperienced gladiator to her throat. Sucha woman – one before whom the unclean spirit trembled – could not perhaps have been
killed, had she herself not willed it.” St. Perpetua was 22 when she died.

 As you read this remarkable account of martyrdom, one cannot help but feel some sense of the great hope the martyrs had as they faced their gruesome deaths. Trusting completely inGod’s goodness and mercy, they faced their deaths rejoicing and with implacable serenity.
 We, as Christians, are called to this same hopeful serenity, rejoicing always in God’sgoodness and mercy, no matter what circumstances Providence should deem to befall us.
 Today as Holy Mother Church celebrates Laetare Sunday, we have special reason to rejoice, for laetare is a Latin word that means “rejoice,” and we are rejoicing because we are nowmore than halfway through our Lenten journey, and soon the joy of Easter will be upon us.
 And our readings today remind us so clearly of why we should always hope in God andrejoice in Him.
 In our first reading from the Book of Joshua reminds us of how God provided for theIsraelites during their 40-year sojourn in the desert with manna from Heaven – the foretaste
of the Eucharist we now are blessed to receive at Mass.

 But eventually, under the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites were led into the Promised Landwhere they feasted on the produce of the land.
 In the same way, we are strengthened and nourished by the Eucharist as we live in exile here on earth. But someday we hope to enter into the Promised Land of Heaven where we will enjoy the bounty of God’s goodness for all eternity.
 Our second reading from St. Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Corinthians tells us of how our Lord, in His great mercy, constantly reconciles us to Himself through Christ. Not only are our sins forgiven, but we are made new creations in Christ!
 Thus, we must never despair about our sins, for there is no sin that God will not forgive if we are truly sorry for it. While we should nourish sorrow and contrition for our sins within our hearts, we must never worry about God’s mercy, for He offers it freely to all who repent!
 We see this spelled out so clearly for us in the story of the Prodigal Son. In the character of the father in this parable, we are given a wonderful glimpse of how God the Father treats us when we turn to Him in repentance.
 Even when we’ve squandered and misused the great gifts He has given us, even when we’ve given ourselves over to even the worst forms of sin and selfishness, if we but turn back to Him in repentance, then He makes us His children once more.
 Just as the Father showers the Prodigal Son with fine clothes, new sandals, and a ring of gold, God the Father rejoices over us and once again pours out His gifts of grace upon us when we confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, restoring us to the place He has created for us in His family, the Church, from which we estranged ourselves by our sin.
 At times our sins can seem debilitating. As we consider the gravity of our sins and the numerous times we fall into the same sins over and over, perhaps it is easy for us to get discouraged and to believe that God must be tired of us.
 How often have we believed that we could never be victorious over our sins? How often have we believed that our sins are too many or too serious to be forgiven by God?
 My brothers and sisters, this must never be the case! God’s goodness and generosity far surpass our wickedness – no matter how wicked we may be! And so we must rejoice, for hoping in God and rejoicing in His goodness is truly the proper response to His mercy.
 But even more than rejoicing, we must also make a commitment to live our lives for God. The greatness of God’s mercy and goodness demand this of us as well.
 And our dedication to Him must be so great that, likes Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, we must be willing and ready to die for Him – even the most cruel death – and to do so happily. For we know the reward that awaits us in the eternal Canaan so far surpasses any pleasure we may find here on earth.
 Brothers and sisters, Holy Mother Church bids us to rejoice this day as we near the end of our Lenten sacrifices and approach the glories of Easter. But let us rejoice all the more in our Lord’s great mercy and love.
 May we never fear to seek His mercy in those times that we’ve sinned, but rather let us turn to Him confidently – yet without presumption – and receive from Him the grace we need to live according to His will.
 May we trust that by always turning to Him in our need, He will eventually make us into the holy men and women He desires us to be, and may we always refuse to be conquered by sin.
 Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, pray for us.
10 March 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

 

Notre Dame de Chartres

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/07/29 at 12:00 AM

Perhaps the most spectacular church in the entire world is the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres. Located about an hour from Paris, the current building, which was constructed between 1194 and 1250 is actually the 5th church building on the site.
This church is really the greatest example of French Gothic architecture, replete with flying buttresses, soaring spires, extraordinary sculptures, and some of the most noteworthy and beautiful stained glass windows in the entire world.
Wonderfully well ordered and beautifully coherent in all of its element, this church is a masterpiece of the medieval mind and an incredible testament to what man is capable of accomplishing when his aim is to glorify God.
From the Middle Ages Chartres Cathedral has been an important and popular pilgrimage site because it houses the Sancta Camisa: the tunic worn by the Blessed Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Jesus.
Amazingly, even though this church has burned down and been rebuilt several times, the Sancta Camisa has never been damaged.
But perhaps even more amazing still is the speed with which Chartres Cathedral has been rebuilt whenever it has been damaged or destroyed by fire. Again, this is due in large part to the devotion of the people of that time and place.
With limited money and certainly a lot less technology than we have today, the good people of central France relied on their faith in building this grandest of the great Gothic cathedrals.
And in this church they proved that, if we have our hearts and our minds focused on God, if we make God our highest priority in life, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish by His grace. Thus, this church is a great testament of man’s love for God.
Both our epistle and Gospel today speak of that ever-important virtue of charity.
In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul calls us to “walk worthy of the vocation in which [we]are called,” by practicing the virtues of humility and mildness, patience, and in particular,charity.
In our Gospel our Lord reminds us that the greatest commandment of the law is to “love theLord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind,” andthe second is to “love they neighbor as thyself.”
After proclaiming these two great laws of charity, our Lord makes an audacious statement.He says: “On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the Prophets.” Inmany ways I think this is the most important line of this whole passage!
In saying this to the Pharisees, our Lord is claiming that the entire Mosaic law and all theteachings of the Prophets – basically the whole content of the Jewish faith – is derived fromthese 2 commands!
So in other words, the entire basis of a Judeo-Christian understanding of morality and of howlife should be lived derives from this understanding that God must be loved and honored above all else, and that our relationships with others must be governed by the practice of treating others like ourselves.
Hopefully, this doesn’t come as a shock to any of you, but rather makes complete sense.
However, I doubt that ordering one’s life such that God is the highest priority and that one’sneighbors are given as much respect as one gives to one’s self, is really the practice of most people in our society today.
The scourge of modernism and rampant secularism have effectively dethroned God in the hearts of most men so that modern man tends to worship himself more than anything else these days.
The problem is that when we fail to make God our highest priority, failing to love Him and honor Him as we are called to do by divine law, disorder creeps into our lives.
If we cannot get the most important priority right, then chances are that we will fail in getting our other priorities straight as well.
Moreover, when we fail to love and treat others as ourselves, then we eventually begin to see others as less than ourselves, enabling us to dehumanize them and sin against them in any way that we please.
But even worse yet, when a large segment of a society fails to carry out these two greatest of commandments, then the society dooms itself to moral chaos and strips itself of any possibility for unity on moral issues.
This is precisely why there is such division in our country today on issues like abortion and same-sex unions. We will never find unity on these issues as long as a large portion of our society refuses to believe and follow the laws of God.
Every time we have an election in this country, the media ramps up the rhetoric on the divisions between Democrats and Republicans, between “red” states and “blue” states.
But I submit to you that the real division in our country is not based on political affiliation. The real division is between those who truly love God and therefore seek to follow His divine law, and those who don’t love God – and consequently have no objective moral compass.
With this in mind, I think it good that we each examine ourselves on this count. Ask yourself: do I truly love God as I should – with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Is glorifying God with the way I live my life my absolute highest priority?
My dear brothers and sisters, we live in a time and place in which there is increasing hostility toward those who seek to live by the laws of God. Slowly – but surely – the laws of our country are becoming more and more anti-God.
So what are we to do? Well, first we mustn’t lose hope or be disheartened! For it is in times and places like our own that saints are made. Thus we should rejoice that our blessed Lord has allowed us to live here and now.
But even more importantly, we must cling to our Catholic faith and beliefs with all the more tenacity than ever before, living out the tenets of our Faith with integrity and courage, and looking for opportunities to share our faith with others.
Most importantly, we must follow these 2 greatest commands given to us by our Lord today, loving Him above all else and our neighbor as ourselves.
In doing this we will be ordering our lives properly, walking worthy in the vocation given to us. And if we do it well, we may even become saints – whose souls are even more magnificent and beautiful in their orderliness than any church that man can build.
May our Lady, good St. Joseph, and all the angels and saints pray for us that we might indeed become worthy of the promises of Christ!
15 September 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

St. Ann

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/07/22 at 12:00 AM

 

  • In many churches dedicated to St. Ann, one can find either a piece of art, an altar, or even a chapel dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, for it was within the womb of St. Ann that the Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin was immaculately conceived.
  • Indeed our own chapel in this church is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, and our new stained glass windows that adorn it tell the story of the Immaculate Conception.
  • The first window on the left side of the chapel shows us, in the story of Adam and Eve, why mankind needs a Savior, thus necessitating the Immaculate Conception.
  • In the upper portion of that first window, Adam is being tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit being offered by the serpent and by Eve, as he sits amongst the beauty and harmony of Eden symbolized by various animals gathered around.
  • The animals depicted are those mentioned in Isaiah 11:6: “Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion shall browse together.” They remind us of the order the world knew before the Fall.
  • But there is one other animal depicted as well, a rooster, that reminds us of St. Peter’s denial of Christ during His passion, and who is therefore a foreshadowing of not only Adam’s sin, but of all human sin. For at its heart, all sin is a denial of Christ.
  • In the lower half of the window, Adam and Eve are forced from the Garden by the angel after committing the original sin that introduced the chaos into our human nature, and thus into our world as well, that too many of us understand as normal.
  • They are clothed in animal skins, and Adam is now bearded – both signs of lost innocence.
  • But while this first window shows us why we need a Savior, the other windows in our chapeljoyfully show us how this was brought about, as the 3rd window shows the beautiful birth of Immaculate Mary, as well as the birth of Jesus, Whom Mary alone was worthy to bear because she was immaculately conceived and sinless throughout the entire course of her life.
  • The 4th window depicts both the triumphal proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 by Pope Pius IX, and it’s confirmation by Mary as she appeared in Lourdes just 4 years later, proclaiming: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
  • These words of our Lady are so important, for they tell us that the Immaculate Conception is not just something that happened to her, not simply a miracle of grace bestowed uniquely upon Mary.
  • In speaking to St. Bernadette as she did, our Lady revealed that the Immaculate Conception is her very identity; it is in some sense her name, and thus she is unlike any other woman.
  • In speaking this way, our Lady is pointing to her profound union with the Holy Spirit, Who is the conception of love shared by the Father and the Son. As St. Maximilian Kolbe calls Him, the Holy Spirit is the uncreated Immaculate Conception.
  • And from the first moment of her conception, this uncreated Immaculate Conception dwells within her whom Kolbe calls the created Immaculate Conception. The Spirit dwells within the depths of her soul, making her incomparably worthy to be the Mother of God.
  • Yet as our 2nd window dedicated to St. Ann and St. Joachim reminds us, we would not have our Lady, without them. There can be no beautiful flower without a sturdy soil to nourish it.
  • While St. Ann is not mentioned in the Gospels, our Catholic tradition tells us that St. Ann was childless even after many years of marriage to St. Joachim.
  • One feast day St. Joachim went to the Temple to make a sacrifice, but he was denied entrance because he did not have children and was therefore considered unworthy. Grief- stricken, St. Joachim went to the hills near Jericho to pray and tend sheep.
  • Learning what happened to her husband, our dear patroness raised her voice in faithful prayer to our Lord, begging Him to relieve her from the scourge of sterility, and promising that any child borne of her would be placed in His service.
  • Their prayers were heard, and both Ann and Joachim were visited by an angel, who told them that they would conceive and bear a child who would be blessed by all the earth.
  • St. Joachim returned home quickly, where he was met and embraced by St. Ann outside the Golden Gate of Jerusalem. Throughout the centuries artists have often used the image of Sts. Ann and Joachim embracing outside the Golden Gate as a means of symbolically depicting Mary’s Immaculate Conception within St. Ann’s womb. Our window does the same.
  • But let us remember that St. Ann is a saint not simply because of the miraculous event that took place within her womb! While we know St. Ann best because she is the mother of the Mother of God, St. Ann has a holiness all her own.
  • In St. Ann we find that beautifully feminine virtue of faithful waiting upon the Lord.
  • Like so many of the mystics of our Church who have followed her, or the searching lover ofthe Song of Songs, St. Ann lived with a tremendous longing for God, a longing to be filledwith His grace – a longing that we should all try to imitate.
  • Though she lived for decades with the tremendous suffering of sterility, St. Ann’s love forGod remained undimmed – when so many other women would have turned away from Him.In her steadfastness, St. Ann shows us how to endure suffering patiently.
  • In St. Ann there was no bitterness because of her suffering, only patient fidelity. In the faceof shame and embarrassment, St. Ann was meek and continued to hope in the Lord’s favor. As we ponder her goodness and virtue, can we say the same about ourselves when we are face with suffering?
  • Moreover, knowing the immense virtues possessed by our Lady, can we not believe that, although those virtues are rooted in the extraordinary graces given to her by our Lord, those same virtues were also tended to and formed by the loving and maternal hand of her mother?
  • Sinless though she was, our Lady would still have needed the guidance and virtuous example of her holy mother in order to be prepared for her exalted vocation. So as we admire our Lady’s virtues, can we not see in them a reflection of the virtues of our dear patroness?
  • Indeed, how deep must the virtues of St. Ann have been if from her nurturing example and tender care came the most beautiful rose of all mankind!
  • And we can only imagine as well the grandmotherly love and affection St. Ann showed to the Christ Child, upon whom she must have doted with a most worthy adoration.
  • So as we celebrate the feast day of our patroness, who was found worthy by God to become the mother of her who brought forth His only-begotten Son, let us give thanks to her for her Immaculate daughter, who bore our Savior.
  • Let us thank St. Ann as well for her own virtues and try to imitate them.
  • While the beauty of the rose is so very captivating and something we should not live without,as every good farm boy knows, the soil has a beauty all it’s own.
  • St. Ann, the mother of the Mother of God and our patroness, pray for us!

 

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Charles de Foucault

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/07/15 at 12:00 AM

On October 29, 1886, something quite beautiful happened at the newly built Church of St. Augustine in Paris: a 28-year-old by the name of Charles de Foucauld went to confession.

This was no ordinary confession, though. This confession set the young Charles on a path of heroic virtue that culminated in his martyrdom in North Africa 30 years later.
Charles had been orphaned as a young boy and raised by his grandparents. When he became of age, he inherited a sizeable fortune, which he used to support a life of dissipation that brought about the annihilation of his faith.
As a young man Charles developed a fascination with North Africa, and through his travels in Morocco he came into contact with devout Muslims. As Charles described it, the faith of these Muslims shook him to the core, reigniting something within him long dormant.
Once back in Paris, Charles felt the Lord calling him to renew his own religious commitments, and thus it was that Charles de Foucault found himself within the sacred walls of the Church of St. Augustine that late October day.
He had heard the call of the Lord and chose to listen to it, and through the grace of the sacraments, Charles not only began practicing his Catholic faith again, but he also pursued a religious vocation and became a priest. For 30 years, he was our Lord’s capable instrument of peace and charity.
Charles de Foucault was martyred by being shot to death in Africa on December 1, 1916. Pope Benedict XVI beatified him on November 13, 2005.
As the lives of the saints illustrate for us, the call of the Lord can be quite powerful and come in many different fashions. Certainly, it is difficult to think of a saint who had a more powerful call and conversion than St. Paul, whom we hear from today.
In our 2nd reading today good St. Paul is addressing the fledgling Christian community in Corinth, many of whom he knows have engaged in various forms of sexual impropriety. In his gentle but direct way, we hear St. Paul lovingly correcting them in fatherly fashion.
As the founder of the new Christian community in Corinth, St. Paul knows it’s his duty to help them understand the implications of their baptism, of how through their baptism God calls them to a higher moral standard than the pagans among whom they live.
Thus the Church’s fearless preacher reminds the wayward Corinthians of their baptismal dignity as he tells them: “You have been purchased at a price.”
Because of God’s generosity toward them in making them His children, St. Paul exhorts the Corinthians to avoid all immorality because it’s displeasing to our Lord and an offense to their newfound baptismal dignity.
Certainly our society should take some note of Paul’s words to the Corinthians, drowning as we are in a morass of sexual excess and sexual impropriety. For chastity is one of the most beautiful of virtues, and one of great importance for growing in holiness.
Indeed, no one can ever grow in holiness without first learning to master his passions. Learning to be chaste, temperate, and prudent in all of our actions is a crucial step in the process of sanctification, for learning to master ourselves prepares us to make a gift of ourselves.
Learning to love others with a selfless disinterest, learning to set aside our own needs and desires for the sake of others, learning to give without counting the cost, is truly the essence of holiness.
Just as our dear Lord gave Himself fully and without reservation on the altar of the cross on Calvary some 2000 years ago, we, too, must learn to make a gift of ourselves if we wish to become like Him. Indeed, this is precisely what Jesus calls all of us to do.
With this in mind, St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is all the more important. The marital act is a gift from God that is meant to foster the giving of oneself as a gift to another. It is an inherently sacrificial act that comes with great responsibility.
Whenever we misuse sexuality by engaging in immoral acts, we turn what should be a selfless act into a very selfish one. And instead of growing in virtue, we grow in vice.
Just as he did with St. Paul and Bl. Charles de Foucault, Jesus calls to all of us. He calls us to holiness of life. He desires to be in relationship with all of us. And it is through our personal relationship with our Lord that we grow in the virtue that leads to true holiness.
Our readings today present us with the examples of three men who were called by the Lord. And each, in his own way, models for us how we should respond to the call of the Lord so that we may advance in holiness.
In our first reading we hear the story of the young Samuel under the mentorship of the wise Eli. Like Samuel of old, we must be attentive to our Lord’s voice in all circumstances – ready to rise at His command.
Like Samuel, we must be ready to say: “Here I am; speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” whenever we hear the voice of the Lord.
In our Gospel we get the poignant story of the calling of the first apostles. Like dear St. Andrew, who was the first of the 12 apostles to follow Him, we must respond to our Lord’s call with immediacy.
And like St. Andrew, we must be willing to try to lead others to Christ as well, so that they, too, might experience the grace of being in relationship with Him. Grace is never something we should keep to ourselves, but rather share so that others may benefit.
But it is not enough simply to respond to Jesus’ call immediately and be in relationship with Him. Our association with Christ must change us. And we see this in the person of Simon, who at the Lord’s bidding becomes Peter – change of name that was symbolic of a much greater change within the man.
Interestingly, the Gospels do not record Simon Peter refusing our Lord’s changing of his name. Rather, he humbly accepts it.
And while we know that St. Peter did not live his vocation as an apostle perfectly, He did eventually learn that self-mastery that enabled him to make a splendid gift of himself, and in the process he became one of the greatest saints of the Church.
In closing, I leave you with a prayer by St. Charles de Foucault that speaks of making a gift of oneself to the Father so that His perfect and most adorable will may be done in our lives:Father,I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.Whatever you may do, I thank you:I am ready for all, I accept all.Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul;I offer it to youwith all the love of my heart,for I love you, Lord,and so need to give myself,to surrender myself into your hands,without reserve,and with boundless confidence,for you are my Father.
May we all learn one day to answer our Lord’s call by making of ourselves a gift to the Lord and to one another.
15 January 2012

 

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

You can go directly to his homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61