Announcing “Foundations of Faith” – Adult Faith Formation in Jefferson City

ChurchinModWorld poster.jpg

Have you ever found yourself during Mass wondering what something means as you listen to the Scriptures? Perhaps something the priest mentioned in a homily was unclear? Maybe you know you’re Catholic but you’re not sure why the Church teaches what she does on a number of pressing and important issues? Perhaps you want to be better able to explain to your friends what you and the Church believe? Or maybe you’re just curious.

Thankfully there is a solution arriving here in Jefferson City, Mo. Beginning on October 15, 2018, I will be offering an adult education, faith formation, catechesis, class, seminar, whatever you want to call it, and you are most welcome to attend. The classes will begin at 6:30 PM and will be held in Kertz Hall at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

The course will be geared towards adults, that is anyone 18 & older.

I am titling the course, “The Church in the Modern World.” That is both a reference to Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes, as well as something broad enough for us to cover a wide variety of topics across different sessions.

I will be offering a six week session this fall. In the future, I plan to offer more 6-10 week sessions. Each of the sessions will be based on a particular theme as requested by those attending the class. Click here to see some potential future topics.

For this initial session I consulted our parish education commission and came up with the theme, “Foundations of Faith.” Our class topics will be:

October 15: Faith & Reason

October 22: Faith & Science

October 29: Revelation

November 12: Origins of Sacred Scripture

November 19: Scripture & Tradition

November 26: Jesus

December 7: Mary (N.B. – This is on a Friday as a part of the parish Advent Soup Supper)

It will not be a linear course in the sense it will not be necessary to attend every week, you can come and go as you please. I will also post readings and resources on this web site, though it will not be necessary to review them beforehand. Even if you can’t make it a given week, you’ll still have access to all of the resources found at this hub.

I look forward to seeing you on October 15th, let me know if you have any questions. Please help me spread the word. Below is a printable flyer you can print.

If you already know you want more information, click here, to send me an e-mail, and I’ll add you to the e-mail list.

Christ’s Presence in the Word – 9.04.18 – Daily Mass

Just as the Church teaches that Christ is present in the Eucharist, the Church also teaches that Christ is present in the proclamation of the Word at Mass. The Gospel today speaks of the authority of Christ’s word to drive out demons. While we may not be possessed, it is important that we turn to his word, the Bible, not just a collection of stories or ideas, but also as Christ’s presence having authority and power to change, transform and cleanse us.

On Enmity

 

white and red structure photo during day time
The Quad at Mizzou / Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

November 24, 2007. The day Mizzou beat Kansas to become #1 in the country. The greatest sporting event I’ve ever had the privilege of attending. The next day a bunch of friends and I piled into a car to drive back to campus in Columbia. One of these friends admitted that when she was in Kansas she wasn’t sure if she should have gotten out of her car in her Mizzou sweatshirt when filling up for gas. Whether or not to show off or to be afraid for her safety. This sparked a great debate amongst us. It was decided that I as the lone legacy, a third generation Tiger, should consult a higher source. My father. When we called he simply asked, “Why is she even filling up with gas in Kansas?”

Today’s second reading includes a word we don’t hear often in the Bible and certainly not in our everyday speech. Enmity. It means being hostile towards one another, it is the opposite of being friends, enemies, anti-friends, if you will. I think it’s fair to say there’s a good deal of enmity between Mizzou and KU.

That enmity is nothing new. The MU-KU rivalry doesn’t own enmity. We first hear the word used in Genesis. When God says that as a consequence of original sin, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers.” So we see that it’s something that’s been around for a long time.

It’s so easy to look around and see how divisive our current climate or society has become. There is so much division, so much enmity.

We could take the defeatist attitude and say that enmity will never go away, and that since none of us are perfect, our broken and flawed humanity will allow it to continue. In contrast, the question arises of what we are called to do as Catholic Christians?

Do we continue to perpetuate that enmity, division and hostility? How easy it is to go on Facebook or twitter and get sucked into an angry debate that solves absolutely nothing and just gets you even angrier and creates more division. I’m not saying we shouldn’t stand up for the Gospels, I’m just asking can we do so in way that doesn’t promote enmity. Perhaps even worse, unfriending someone just because they think differently than you. That’s right, now because they think differently than you, you don’t even want to know what they ate for dinner last night. Even off social media, the way that we hold onto grudges at work, or even in our own homes and families, allows for enmity to grow. Think about those small things that over time become giant wedges and separations, keeping us apart.

A few years after that famous Mizzou-KU game, I was moving into my dorm at Conception Seminary College. At the time everything that I owned was black and gold. (Now I just stick to the black). I noticed as went back and forth from my room to my car that everything the guy next me was unloading was blue… Eventually we looked at each other with fear and dared to ask the question, “Did you go to Kansas? Did you go to Mizzou?” So we sat down and talked and we had remarkably similar stories. We were both high school athletes, we both wanted to be sports reporters. So much was the same except for that one, very important detail.

We said, “Look, I’ve pretty much been raised to hate your guts. But I recognize we are both here for the same reason. To discern our call to the priesthood and follow Christ. So we can spend the next two years hating each other, or we can help each other to grow.” So we came to an agreement, “Only on game-days!” By the grace of God, Six years later we were both ordained priests, in part because of our support of one another.

When St. Paul uses the word enmity in today’s second reading, he doesn’t use it the same way as it’s used in Genesis. So instead of God placing enmity between us, Paul says that Christ has come to tear down the walls of enmity and to bring peace. This is why Christ is called the New Adam, because he destroys, he undoes, the enmity brought about by Adam and Eve in Genesis.

Christ came to take away enmity, so we could have peace. How are we living up to that standard? Certainly none of us are perfect and the enmity will persist, but shouldn’t we be striving to get rid of it from our lives and promote peace on social media, in society, our workplaces and our homes? Is there a grudge with a friend or family member we’ve been holding onto for too long? Christ died on the cross so we can let go. Or do we let enmity continue? We are called to promote peace, not enmity. But how?

The easy answer is, “Don’t do it!” Yet we all know that’s easier said than done. St. Paul tells us that it is through the Cross that Christ destroys enmity. When we gather here at the Altar, we gather at the Cross. Perhaps in the Eucharist today you might find the courage and the strength to tear down the walls of enmity that exist in your life. For Paul tells us that it is by flesh that the dividing wall of enmity is torn down. That same flesh we receive in the Eucharist. Have the courage to seek reconciliation and peace. The Eucharist can give you the courage you need to pick up the phone and call that person you’ve been avoiding for so long. Likewise, it can give you the strength to resist the temptation to dive into an argument on Facebook the next time the temptation arises. It’s why Christ died on the Cross. I know you may think that the wounds are too deep, the grudges held too long, the divisions too wide. Remember God’s love is infinitely greater than any enmity that we place between one another. Anything is possible for God. He even got a Mizzou and KU fan to get along and follow the call to the priesthood.

Immaculate Conception Church
July 22, 2018 A.D. – 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B

*As always these homily texts are representative, as I deliver my homilies without text or notes, and naturally there are variations from Mass to Mass.

Daily Reflection: 11 May 2017

Today’s readings can be found here.

Reflection:

In today’s readings from Acts of the Apostles we once again here of their travels. As schools finish up the year around the country, a lot of us turn our attention towards planning our summer vacations.

Rest and relaxation are very important elements to a well balanced Catholic Christian life. However, it’s also important to remember that just because we are on vacation doesn’t mean we get a break from our vocation to holiness.

One thing that strikes me is that we will check a dozen web sites so we can end up saving $10 on a hotel room, but do we even bother to check one for Mass times?

We would never think of leaving the house without at least checking (and probably buying tickets) flight times, but we forget to look up Mass times.

I have found in my travels that attending Mass in a foreign country, language or culture can actually be a great grace and growth in our relationship with God thriugh the universality of the Church.

Daily Reflection: 10 May 2017

Sorry folks. I guess these daily posts are kind of like working out, I miss one day and then the next thing I know it’s been a week. This is why I haven’t been campaigning for people to sign up to receive these posts until I can fully develop the daily habit.

Today’s readings can be found here.

Reflection:

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that he did not come to condemn, and that he did come to bring light to the darkness. In the United States we also celebrate a special saint today, St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai. He was a Belgian priest who spent his life, and eventually gave his life, serving a leper colony in Hawaii.

In this way St. Damien becomes a model for us of how we too are called to imitate Christ. For St. Damien did not go to Hawaii to condemn the lepers, he went there to love them, and care for their souls. He did not leave them in the darkness of isolation, but brought Christ and the Gospel to them through the Word and Sacraments.

Where is the Molokai of our life? Who are the lepers in our life?

Daily Reflection: 3 May 2017

Today’s readings can be found here.

Reflection:

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of two Apostles, Saints Philip and James. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus poses a question to Philip, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?” How true that question is for all of us. For no matter how much we study, how much time we spend in prayer, Lectio Divina, how many times we receive the sacraments, we will still have so much more to learn about Jesus.

So if you think you still have so much more to learn about Jesus, the Scriptures or the Catholic Church, fear not! We all are in the same boat together. Let us not be inhibited by or fears or perceived inadequacies, rather, may we be inspired by the example of Sts. Phillip and James to continue everyday to grow in our knowledge and love of God.

Daily Reflection: 1 May 2017

Today’s readings can be found here.

Reflection:

It is no secret that a part of following Christ is that at times we will face criticisms for our beliefs. While we must remain steadfast in our fidelity to what has been revealed to us through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, we should also try to avoid the temptation of thinking we are the only ones to ever suffer such attacks. This has been going on since the dawn of Christianity, as we hear in today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. So what can we learn from today’s reading?

To smile. The reading ends by noting his radiant face. If we want to defend the Church or to be able to articulately explain her beliefs, it’s important we do so with a smile. Not to get angry or frustrated, nor to seem sad or depressed about the Church’s teachings. To proclaim the gospel with joy, not arrogance or smugness, but with joy, and a smile on our face.

Daily Reflection: 30 April 2017

Today’s readings can be found here.

Reflection:

The story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus is quite rich. So much could be said about different elements of the story. The other day I focused on doubt, today I’d like to shift to a different line.

“Stay with us…” the disciples ask Jesus. On one hand we can see just how he has fullfilled this request throughout the history of the Church. This is accompanied with our cooperation, following the example of the saints.

On a more personal note, we see how his has fulfilled this request through his presence in the Eucharist. Even to this day he stays with us, in Tabernacles all around the world. He stays with us, do we want to stay with him? How often do we make a visit to our local parish and spend time with our Lord? It isn’t necessary that the parish offers Adoration, you can still pay Jesus a visit, present in the Tabernacle.

Daily Reflection: 29 April 2017

Today’s readings can be found here.

Reflection:

As I mentioned yesterday, the men and women who make up the Church have not always, nor will we never be perfect, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that the Church continues. It is however, our job to cooperate with that same Spirit. At times, to take an image from today’s gospel, we can see the storms all around and even inside the Church. In fact the image of the Church as a boat has its origins in Apostolic era. When we see those storms we can become nervous and afraid, like the Apostles in today’s gospel. It can be tempting to want to jump ship, or completely change the ship. To reform it from the outside.

Today’s saint, St. Catherine of Siena, becomes another witness to today’s gospel teaching us that if we desire a proper reform and purification of the Church, it must come from within. She didn’t seek to start her own Church, but rather to call her to greater fidelity to the Apostolic mission she received from Christ.

Recently a young man was giving a talk in one of my parishes and he noted, “the Church doesn’t need me, it doesn’t need you. I need the Church, you need the Church.” How are we cooperating with the Holy Spirit which sustains the Church on Earth?