Sunday, December 29, 2013

Podcasting Homilies.

Yup, I am starting to podcast my homilies. Here is the link: They should also be available via iTunes.

Friday, October 25, 2013

There Is A Reason That The Pope Is Called the Holy Father.

And that relationship is particularly dear to priests. That relationship is also supposed to exist between priests and their bishop. However, like so many parents, all too often bishops are friends or brothers to their priests. Worse they are business managers who play favorites and are only heard from when there are problems. But during my priesthood I have always had the feeling that the Pope was there covering our backs. That we were his priest sons even when we needed to be challenged and corrected. Now, not so much.

There is this commentary over at the register about anxiety over Pope Francis. Here is the relevant section on priests.

Pope Francis is capable of speaking with great tenderness about those far from the Church.
When discussing his brother Jesuits, even those who sent him into exile and were active obstacles to the mission of Jesus Christ and the Ignatian charism, the Holy Father speaks with nuance and delicacy. Yet when he speaks of the parish clergy, his remarks are almost always critical, inveighing against the lazy priest in his rectory, unmoved by the suffering of the afflicted in need of mercy, reduced to a functionary who has become an obstacle rather than a conduit of God’s grace.
Priests need to hear that to be challenged and corrected, but fallen men that we are, it is not easy.
The Holy Father intends his criticisms — as he made clear recently in Assisi — for the whole Church, not just the priests and bishops. Yet, often, the clergy feel singled out for criticism or feel underappreciated. Perhaps they ought to stop feeling sorry for themselves and “man up,” but the phenomenon is real and explains part of the uneasiness.

The feeling I can't seem to shake is that Pope Francis really doesn't like priests. Now we priests are not perfect. And yes some of his criticism is justified. It may not go far enough. But perhaps some of the 'great tenderness' could be shared with the clergy, who received poor formation and poor leadership from his brother bishops. In the face of the poor leadership, and lets face it dissent, at the diocesan level, many of us can be tempted to despair. The various scandals haven't helped. Priests are guilty until proven innocent and subject to the whims of their ordinaries who seem more concerned with liability and PR than justice. But at least we felt that if ignored, opposed, or even persecuted, the Holy Father still had our backs. Now not so much.

 A father can be tough and expect a lot if he has and shows love for his children. If not, all he usually does is provoke resentment and rebellion. With all respect to Fr. De Souza, the admonition to "man up" doesn't help one bit. Perhaps the Holy Father needs to listen to his own words concerning caring and compassion and realize that the clergy are part of his flock too.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hermeneutic of Continuity, St. Paul Style

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach [to you] a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!" 

Tell me again how the Church is going to fundamentally change.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Memorial of St. Jerome.

Peter Venkman: Alice, I'm going to ask you a couple of standard questions, ok? Have you or any of your family ever been diagnosed Schizophrenic? Mentally incompetent?
Librarian: My uncle thought he was St. Jerome.
Peter Venkman: I'd call that a big yes.

(Funny the things that come to mind at Mass.)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Idolatry of the Poor.

The Gospel reading this weekend is the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man from the Gospel according to Saint Luke. I suspect that throughout the world many homilies and sermons ended up saying something to the effect of, “Rich people bad. Poor people good.” This like all heresies is the result of a gross simplification of the Gospel, a deliberate misreading of the message of Jesus, and an imposition of a foreign ideology.

The sin of the unnamed rich man was not that he had wealth. Rather it was that he did not pay attention to Moses and the prophets. As is evident from the parable, he paid no attention to Lazarus. Even from Hell, he views Lazarus as at best his servant. Was this his only sin or greatest sin? Likely not. Was Lazarus' virtue the fact that he was poor and sick? No. It was that. His virtues are not specified. But we know from Moses and the prophets that God commanded all rich and poor alike to obey His commands. We can infer from Lazarus' presence in the Bosom of Abraham that he had walked in God's path.

This would have amazed the Pharisees of Jesus' time to whom the parable was addressed. They held to a version of the Gospel of Prosperity. How do you tell who God likes? The are healthy and wealthy. This is heresy in view of both the Old and New Covenant. Yet it remains. We find in among the TV preachers as well as among those who view poverty, sickness, and other misfortunes as a punishment rather than a share in the Cross of Christ for the salvation of the world.

But today there is also a mirror image heresy. It is rooted in a distortion of the Gospel. It is also rooted in envy and jealousy with more than a pinch of Marxism and Socialism. This view holds that the wealthy are wicked and evil because of their wealth and the poor are virtuous because of their poverty. There is more than a little bit of romantic idealism here. It makes a idol out of poverty and the poor.

There are and have been saints and sinners among the rich as well as the poor. Wealth poses unique opportunities for sin as well as paths to virtue. Remember that while Jesus said that it is difficult for a rich man to enter through the Needle's Eye as it is for him to enter into the Kingdom of God, He also that for God all things are possible. The prime temptations of the rich are pride, self-sufficiency, and a hardness of heart. But poverty presents its own temptations; jealous, envy, and greed. Both the rich and the poor are called to holiness and holiness is possible for both. Demonization of one and idolization of the other must be avoided.

The will of God is that all men be saved. The Gospel is for both the materially poor and the materially rich. Christ died for all men. It is the job of the Church to work for the salvation of all.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Double Supreme Court Facepalm.

How did we get here? Partly due to decades of mealy-mouthed preaching and teaching on the part of many priests and bishops. They embraced the cult of feelings over Truth. They were and are more interested in 'social justice' than eternal truths. They are the hired men, not true shepherds. Ask yourself when was the last time you heard your pastor and/or bishop speak on the true nature of human sexuality, heck on human nature and God's plan for it. The human mind and the human heart abhor a vacuum. If it is not filled with God's grace and His truth, it will surely be filled with something else.

"A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep."

BTW these Supreme Court decision have been brought to you by the Kmiec Katholics of 2008 and the Seamless Garment. Thanks Jackwagons!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Semi-random Reflections.

Some random reflections:
1) When Ricky Jennings came into my church, he expected sheep (in the bad sense). Instead, he found sheep dogs, porcupines, mama and papa bears, and fierce baby bears.
2) When Ricky Jennings came to my church he expected us to be defenseless, but found us empowered by Christ and protected by legions of angels.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sunday Homily--12th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

My dear sons and daughters in Christ, one of the places we visit on our recent pilgrimage was Caesarea Philipi. It is in ruins now but during our Lord's time it was a thriving city. It was there that the most important question of all time was asked, “who do you say that I am”? Everything depends on how we answer this question.
First, Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” The crowds had a lot of answers, all of them wrong. The Baptist with his head reattached, Elijah returned from heaven, or one of the prophets returned to life. Wrong—wrong—wrong. We could ask the same question today; who is Jesus? And we would get a lot of wrong or incomplete answers too. A good guy. Yes but a good guy can't save us from our sins. A teacher. Yes, but a teacher can't do it either. A prophet? Yes but way more. Our elder brother, yes but not primarily.
How did the disciples answer. Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and by the will of the Father, gives the right and fundamental answer: the Christ (or Anointed One) of God. The answer itself requires more reflection to find out what it completely means intellectually. Look at the Nicean Creed, the Writings of the Fathers, and the Teaching of the Popes. Not a suggestion by the way. It is essential that we clearly understand who Jesus is. This is why we always use the Nicean Creed not the Apostles at Mass. It is more detailed.
But is is also important that we live out this answer. Many are there that say Lord, Lord that will not enter the Kingdom of God. We need to live Lord, Lord. Every word, every action of our lives needs to proclaim loudly that Jesus is the Christ of God, that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus is Lord.
Sounds easy doesn't it? Well you and I both know that it isn't. That it is the work of a lifetime. And sometimes we fail. But with God's help we try again. We love God above all. We love our neighbors as ourselves. We reach out to those who are in pain or in need. We conform our minds and heart to the teaching of Christ and His Church. We forgive not just seven times but seventy times seven times. And when we fail or come up short we turn to Christ, confess our sins, and with His help try and try again.
I was awestruck at how our parish did this last Sunday and all week. (Bet you wondered when I was going to say something about that.) I saw the teachings of Christ in action. Among the people who protected their families and neighbors and stayed calm. Among those who rushed after the shooter to protect all of us and keep him from hurting anyone else. Among those who rush to help assist Jim and Tara. Above all those who prayed despite real cause for fear and panic. (That is not not mention all the police, fire, paramedics, ambulance, and media types as well as our friends and neighbors who contacted us with generous offers of help and prayers.) Good job, St James. Good job, Ogden. Like a boss!
But don't let me give you too much of a swelled head. You were able to do that because God was and is with you. God loves you that much. And it isn't over. We need to forgive. Yes forgive even Ricky Jennings. Jesus commands it! Ricky didn't cease to be our brother by his action. (By the way, this doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't seek legal justice.) But when you think of him, pray from him and let God set your heart free. We need to reach out to those who have been hurt or traumatized. If you need someone to talked to, please call the office and let us put you in touch with someone who can help. Don't try to tough it out. Help me get the word out to those who might be afraid to come back to church. Let's also me mindful of the women, men (yes men), and children touched by domestic violence or violence of any kind.
Remember who was with us last Sunday. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the choirs of angels, the saints, the suffering souls, and the church militant on earth united in the Body of Christ. They are with us today and tomorrow and forever.
I am thankful for you, our friends and neighbors, those earthly and those heavenly, but most of all for the God with us, Jesus, the Christ of God!

(And yes you still have to go to Mass. :) )

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Forgiveness is hard work. If it were easy, Jesus wouldn't have had to command us to do it. It is not a feeling but an act of the will. (I doubt I will ever feel warm fuzzies towards the shooter.) We decide, with God's help and Grace, to forgive. Then we do forgiving things. It is the work of a lifetime.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Church Shooting.

Many of you know that there was a shooting at my church this Sunday. I am not going to comment on the events in particular. I do want to say that I am very proud of how the parishioners reacted. They prayed, remained calm, helped the victim, made sure the shooter was away from the church. That was God's grace at work. Jim, the victim, came through surgery and is going to be OK. That too was God's grace. The shooter was caught without hurting anyone else. God's grace. When I think of today, I am not going to think about the act of one evil man. I am going to think about the many acts of goodness, kindness, and bravery of many good people. I feel blessed.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Candle Followers.

Attention clergy and sacristans! If you are not a reloader, make friends with someone who is. Case tumblers (for cleaning cartridge cases before reloading) are great for polishing brass candle followers. Way better than getting carpal tunnel from polishing by hand.

Monday, April 01, 2013


A matter of courtesy: If you switch parishes at least say goodbye/f-u/something to your former pastor.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Reflecting on several young women of my acquaintance who have lost their faith (I pray only for the time being), it occurs to me that our anesthetic culture has rendered them utterly unable to cope spiritually or intellectually with the inevitable pain, troubles, and sorrows of life. They have been led to expect that life can and should be one endless painfree joyfest. This attitude has penetrated the Church. From the presentation of the Care Bear Jesus to the virtual elimination of fast and abstinence to the dispensation or elimination of practices that are considered to be even slightly inconvenient, we are encouraging a culture of self-centered wimpiness. We have raised a generation incapable of martyrdom. They expect their wants to be catered to. Rather than conform themselves to Christ, especially in His suffering, they expect all things to be conformed to them. It is an attitude centered on this world, not the next. And the hierarchy is complicit in this. Until this is changed, things are only going to get worse.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land!

with Fr. Erik Richtsteig, KCHS, Pastor of St. James the Just.
June 3 – 14, 2013

Join Fr. Erik Richtsteig KCHS, Pastor of St. James the Just in Ogden, Utah on a special tour of the Holy Land where we will walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Imagine visiting the home of the Holy Family; touching the waters of the Jordon and the Sea of Galilee; sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane; celebrating Mass in the Upper Room; walking the Via Dolorosa to Calvary; praying at the Holy Sepulchre; and experiencing many other sacred places.

$3759 includes airfare, hotels, daily Mass, breakfast & dinner daily, transportation, entrance fees, sightseeing and much more. For further details and to receive a brochure with a detailed itinerary call Canterbury Pilgrimages at: 1-800-653-0017 or go to: