Monday, December 27, 2010


It will be even quieter than normal this week and into the next, as I am off for retreat the rest of this year and into the new year. If you can, please offer a quick prayer that it will be a fruitful time.

God Bless

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Only an Ox and Donkey to Welcome Him (Christmas Homily)

Delievered at St. Mary's of the Woods, Russell's Point, Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

On Christmas, it is easy to focus on the Manger scene, after all, I think it is one of the most tender images we have in Christendom: The Child, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds in a peaceful scene, snow falling (at least in my image); it all adds up for a heart warming image.

Yet, I would like to focus this year not on the ‘how’ of Jesus’ coming, but more the ‘why.’ What we recognize, and where the readings all point, is that all of history was leading up to this point. But why did it have to happen?

Since Adam and Eve, a gulf had existed between God and humanity, which the whole of salvation history had as the goal of overcoming. The Covenant of Abraham, the Law through Moses, the leadership of the Judges and Kings, and the call to repentance of the Prophets all had the goal of restoring the relationship broken with Original Sin, yet it never worked. The chasm was too great, it could not be overcome by ‘normal means.’

Why not? Why could we not overcome it on our own? Obviously, sin blocks the path. The distortions from sin do not allow us to see straight, as God would like us to do. This sin is not just the original sin, but also our own participation through personal sin. Here, we follow the sins of our ancestors, mostly in falling to Pride. It seems to me that in the Old Testament, God was always approached through pride, out of a quest for vainglory and power. He responded: the GloryCloud was God intervening directly in history, but through ways that the people of the time expected.

This pride and desire for vainglory also formed the expectation for the Messiah, for He would come to reestablish Israel as an independent country, the country which the rest of the world would serve.

Into the midst of this expectation, Jesus comes in a manger. The Messiah, the savior of the world, is not born in a palace with kings and queens present to worship and adore. Rather, he comes in a manger, in a small town, with only an ox and a donkey to greet him.

This becomes the key to His mission: not power, but HUMILITY.

The Second Reading for the Mass during the Day, from the Letter to the Hebrews, reflects on this reality. The Divine Second Person of the Trinity, He who is the Word Made Flesh, the one who ordered all of creation, does not come in that power, but leaves it all behind to come as a child. He freely lays that aside to become a man like us in all things but sin.

Only in Christianity is there such a mystery, would such a statement ever be echoed: ‘God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son to be our Savior.’ In Judaism and Islam, God is master, we are servants. In Eastern Religions, Nirvana is emptiness, not union with the Divine. In the Greco-Roman Pagan religions, you really just hoped the gods left you alone.

Yet, in Christianity, we see that God so desires for us to be reunited with Himself that He comes down to earth so that He might lift us back, not just to an earthly paradise, but a heavenly one.

What we must learn, however, is that how God deals with us, we must pay back to God. This is the flip of the approach between the Old Testament and the New.

No longer do we approach God in fear and trembling (although that should be a part of our approach), in the New, we come in humility and emptiness, offering our gifts to God to use as He will.

Hence, as we gather on these Christmas days, sharing gifts with one another as expressions of love for one another, let us also recognize those gifts that God has given, those unique talents and abilities that are personal to each one of us.

Not just to focus on those gifts, but to also recognize how God is asking us to share those gifts with our families, the Church, and the world.

Then, Christ will be revealed not just as a small child on Christmas day, but every thought, word and deed uttered by those who claim the name Christian will continue to bear Christ to the world.

Then, we will echo John the Baptist: He must increase, I must decrease.

Then, we will have a place not just here, but in that Heavenly Paradise He came to establish.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A few posts to consider

I've posted a few things recently over at the Vocation Office page:

1) we've started a thread where questions submitted at recent high school presentations are being answered one at a time. The third was, um, interesting in how it was worded.

2) Elizabeth Ficocelli has released her second work, 'Where do Sisters Come From?' It is a joyous read.

3) Vocation Awareness Week is getting closer......

4) The 'Upcoming Events' page was updated.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Friends for Life

Yahoo Sports' 'Puck Daddy' blog features a short story of Chicago Blackhawk Jake Dowell going the extra mile: (get the tissue box ready)

View more news videos at:

(Thanks to my brother for sending over the link)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Checking out the news coverage with another priest, he was stunned at the fact that Westboro Baptist Church is protesting at Elizabeth Edwards' funeral. Frankly, I am, too, but it doesn't surprise me with this group. I don't see how this is going to help their cause, in fact I think they do more harm than good.

Do they have a 'right' to be there, I guess so. If you frame the question purely in terms of 'rights,' where does their 'right' to speech end with the Edwards' family 'right' to privacy and/or decorum for the funeral of the loss of their mother and friend, a woman who suffered much in her last years?

As a priest, I am often asked about the nature of the magisterium in the Church. Why is it important that we have a teaching office? I think the example of this baptist church gives an eloquent reason as to why we should. Do they have the 'right' to protest, yes; but, I would argue, this is not the most advantageous way to get their point across. (To me, they are doing this much more for their own noteriety than any quest for the truth.) If a Catholic parish would attempt something so callous, I would hope the bishop would call them in and make them stop.

There is a call to conversion, but this approach just raises rancor.

I recently saw an editorial cartoon that argued along the lines of: 'Science flew us to the moon; religions fly planes into buildings.' I would argue that what Westboro Baptist Church is doing leads to more of this kind of approach, especially to secularists who do not know anyone who is truly religious, in the best way.

Anyway, too many other thoughts going through the brain this afternoon to make this much clearer. I am glad this week is over!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Vote Early, Vote Often!

From My Little Saint:

Please, help create a Handicapped accessible "Sunshine Playground"

in Western Ohio

by voting for New Bremen New Knoxville Rotary Club "Sunshine Park"
in the $250,000. category in the Pepsi Refresh Project.
Here's what you do---

click $250,000. category
Sunshine Park is ranked about #14 so far
"Vote for this idea"
(you will need to sign up but I have not
received any junk emails thus far from them)

PLEASE, vote everyday!!!

Side note: I have a niece who could take advantage of this park.
UPDATE: here are more specific instructions:

Here are a few steps to help you find the right link:

Click the link

underneath a big 'ALL' tab, there are four boxes with money amounts: $5K, $25K, $50K, $250K.

click the $250K tab.

right above those four boxes is a drop down menu 'Vote For:' click that and set it to 'current leaders' which pops up 10. At the bottom, click 'add more' and the Sunshine Playground is current #15.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Judge Rules against Murder, Inc.

The Cincinnati Enquirer offers an update on an ongoing battle in the local pro-life world:

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Jody Luebbers ruled Tuesday that the doctor for Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio breached a legal duty by not having a meeting with the teen 24 hours in advance of the abortion to explain her options, something called an "informed consent" meeting.

"I think it's the first time ever Planned Parenthood has been in breach of that order," Brain Hurley, the attorney representing the teen, said.

"The question now is what (money) damages do we get?"

The attorney for Planned Parenthood didn't' return calls.

By law, any health-care professionals who suspects child abuse - a 13-year-old engaging in sex with an adult, for example - must be reported.

Tuesday's ruling is the latest in the case filed in 2005 by the girl and her parents. In it, she is identified only as "Jane Roe" in a case where the judge ordered all of the documents sealed.

Friday, December 3, 2010


For Catholics in the Tri-County area just north of Cincinnati, Catholic Radio is now available over the air!

A few months back, WNOP Sacred Heart Radio, an affiliate of EWTN Radio and producer of The Son Rise Morning Show, which airs on the EWTN Radio Network, heard of a potential station coming up for auction in Hamilton, Ohio: WHSS: the Hamilton City Schools Station. After much scrambling to rustle up some funding, Sacred Heart Radio was able to purchase the station at public auction. FCC clearance has gone through and, as of yesterday 3:30 pm, the station was plugged into Sacred Heart's feed and is now live! Those in the Hamilton, West Chester, Liberty Township, Fairfield, Millville areas of Butler County, Ohio, should hear it loud and clear on 89.5 FM.

This station augments Sacred Heart Radio's current main signal of 740 AM in Cincinnati and Newport, Kentucky, and the current 89.5 FM in Versailles, Indiana.

Send a note of praise over to the station here!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Anna as a Guide for Advent

My latest missive runs in this week's Catholic Telegraph. Fighting the secularism of the lost season of Advent, the Prophetess Anna provides an excellent model of how to prepare for Christmas. A snippet:

As the days continue to shorten and the weather turns colder, we prepare once again for the coming of the Christ Child. His birth had long been foretold through the prophets of Israel, but they had fallen silent over the past 200 years or so. Into the silence, the angel Gabriel steps into human history to announce tidings of great joy: the Messiah is on His way!

As we go through Advent, we must still have this awareness, but with the rampant commercialism that has become of Christmas, it can be hard to recognize His coming. Between Christmas music starting before Halloween, loud sale advertisements filling TV and radio waves and the necessities of trimming the tree and decking the halls, it can be very easy to miss the deeper meaning of this holy season: Christ is coming to bring us salvation!

In the midst of the sometimes chaotic nature of this season, the prophetess Anna, mentioned above in the infancy narrative from Luke’s Gospel account, presents a model of how we should anticipate the Lord’s coming. It is based in three things: prayer, fasting, and sacrifice.