Your Sunday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point in the sermon you heard during this Sunday’s Mass?

Let us know.

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  1. RJ Sciurus says:

    The magi not only received a calling, they acted on it in spite of the perceived risks. Every day, God is talking to us. We need to respond and act like the magi, regardless of the perceived risks.

  2. Priam1184 says:

    The magi represent the proper use of human reason and that is why they are called “wise” men. The proper use of human reason always lead to the Truth and to the right worship of God whereas the misuse of human reason leads to the worship of the evil one. There is no in between.

  3. Confitemini Domino says:

    Very complex and rich sermon. I recommend reading the complete German text here. I try and translate for you (in Germany, we had Sunday readings today, tomorrow we will celebrate Epiphany):
    “The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.” This is a Creed. Father Frick now meditated on the original wording “pitched his tent”.

    (…) Kinder lieben es, wenn sie zelten dürfen, vielleicht zum ersten Mal, vielleicht im eigenen Garten, aber eben doch im Zelt. (…)

    Some romantic notions…

    Für die Bewohner heutiger Flüchtlingscamps hat Im-Zelt-wohnen allerdings nichts mit Romantik oder Naturverbundenheit zu tun. Auch für Israel hatte „Zelten“ nicht diese Färbung.(…)

    …but think of the refugees in tents, in our times, and think of Israel, Israel’s memory of nomadism, Israel’s memory of the Exodus and of the destruction of the temple, the destruction of the place where God lived…

    (…) Die jüdische Tradition nennt es die Sch‘chináh, das Wohnen Gottes bei seinem Volk, in festen Häusern und unterwegs, im Leben und im Beten,(…)

    There has always been the confidence that God’s dwelling among men is some sort of a “hiking”, being on the way with us, make-shift and reliable at the same time. In Jewish tradition all the time, when the temple was built and when it was destroyed, up to the terrible point of the Shoah.

    (…) Und deshalb gibt es in Gott selbst eine Differenz zwischen Herrlichkeit und Selbstmitteilung (so nennt Karl Rahner das Wort Gottes), zwischen seiner Transzendenz und der Schöpfung oder, im Johannesprolog: zwischen Gott, bei dem das Wort war (griechisch mit Artikel: pròs tòn theón) und dem Wort, das gottgleich (ohne Artikel: theós ên ho lógos) war.

    Some thoughts about the tension between God’s transcendence and his dwelling in our immanence.

    (…) eine Kenose, ein Leerwerden Gottes, wie es der Philipper-Hymnus sagt. Diese Selbstentleerung meint unser Evangelium mit „Fleischwerden“. Fleisch ist ja der wie das Feldgras vergängliche Mensch, der zerbrechliche, hinfällige, für die Sünde anfällige Mensch. Eben wir. Eben dieser konkrete jüdische Mensch Jehoshua von Nazaret. Das Evangelium sagt nicht „Menschwerden“, sondern „Fleischwerden“. Also kein Allsatz, demzufolge Gott ein Mensch überhaupt wird, sondern ein geschichtlich-individualisierter Satz: Die Herrlichkeit des transzendenten Gottes zeltet in diesem konkreten Menschen.

    God’s Sch’chinah is a self-renunciation. God became “flesh”, an individual human, no abstract “humanity”. Jesus is a real, individual, historic person.
    So we have a differentiation in God Himself. Eternal Father on one hand, and the logos-Son on the other hand, coming into our history, dwelling among us. In His flesh, in this vulnerable human, who is rejected, crucified and expelled, there is glory.
    Das Wort, der Lógos, ist Fleisch geworden.
    (Then Father added some thoughts about human words, human communication and it’s problems, ambiguities, problems of translation, Goethe’s Dr. Faust trying to translate “logos”… Logos in european history of thought.) But:…
    On Christmas, we celebrate that with God, word and deed are indivisible….
    God’s word is irrevocable, but his dwelling among us is as vulnerable as the child in the manger, as the tortured Christ at Golgotha.
    Yes, the word of God, God’s communication of Himself, the child in the manger, is God’s irrevocable, definite deed.

    Als Menschen fragen wir skeptisch: Wird sie sich auch durchsetzen können? Wird das Licht die Finsternis besiegen? Oder werden die Mächte der Finsternis die Oberhand behalten?
    Für den Fall, dass das Projekt „Fleischwerdung“ in einem Fiasko endet, würden wir uns einen Plan B offenhalten.

    We humans ask ourselves: Will the light conquer darkness? Or will the powers of darkness prevail? In case the project “incarnation” fails, we would have a “Plan B”, an alternative strategy prepared.
    The fiasco, the disaster happened at Golgotha, and God had no alternative strategy for His logos. God irrevocably immersed Himself into our darkness.
    But, with the Psalmist, we can pray:
    If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. Amen.

  4. Ed the Roman says:

    That natural knowledge is not enough: Herod knew of the Messiah, but because his will was bent, he could not see that the Messiah was not a rival to be slain, but a redeemer to be adored and followed.

  5. Mike says:


    The priest did some nice Miltonic riffs on Anselm’s “Cur Deus Homo?” St. John’s, McLean, VA: not your everyday parish.

  6. Mike says:


    My apologies for the spelling fail!!

  7. Fr. M. said that the Magi were highly knowledgeable in their own age (when astronomy and astrology were still the same) and their then-scientific knowledge lead them to Christ.Whereas now we are much more knowledgeable as regards the physical world but these days knowledge often does not add up to wisdom.

  8. Sean Stark says:

    Today was Most Holy Name of Jesus. Father reminded us that at every mention of His name, we should bow are heads and get back into that practice that was taught to us by the good Sisters (I for one did not attend parochial school) . Throughout his sermon heads were bowing in all the pews!

    Father also focused on the names that were given by God to the Saints and how the mention of Jesus’s name is one of the most powerful prayers against the Devil. Father mentioned the Devil 3-4 times during his Homily, and our ongoing battles against him…Wow!

    He also urged us to use the times in our world when others around us abuse His name to use it as an opportunity to not admonish only, but to also evangelize and teach those people that take The Lord’s name in Vain.

  9. Minnesotan from Florida says:

    The common but ne’er too much repeated point that God asks things of us not because He needs it done but because it is good FOR US to do it. Also the importance of petitionary prayer, and a suggestion that in the pew after Communion, when Christ is very closely within us, is a good time not only for adoration and thanksgiving but also for petitionary prayer.

  10. NancyP says:

    We received blessed chalk after Mass today! That made me very, very happy.
    We chanted the Lord’s Prayer during Mass. That made my daughter very, very happy.
    Our homilist (pastor of our “second” parish) spoke eloquently about the importance of seeing aspects of ourselves in Gospel characters, in this case, the Magi. Since the Magi represent the nations of the world, coming to adore Christ, we should consider the gifts of the Magi and how they symbolize not only events in Christ’s life, but also things we can give to Him. (Gold – the gift of ourselves to God, through prayer and worship; frankincense – the gift of ourselves to our parish community, through participation, worship, welcoming strangers and the ministries to which we are called; myrrh – the gift of ourselves to the poor and suffering of this world.)

  11. lsclerkin says:

    Lovely, gentle Franciscan homily from one of our Conventual Franciscans:

    Give a gift to Jesus. The best are not bought.
    Come to Him at Mass. Say a Rosary or chaplet..
    Come to Him here in Adoration. Even if just for a. Few minutes. Come and just be with Him.
    Give up a vice, any vice. And offer that up for another soul. And if you can’t do it for youself, I sometimes find I can do it for someone else.
    More. But it was especially nice. And very Franciscan.

  12. lsclerkin says:

    Oh, and..
    Read a good spiritual book..maybe something by CS Lewis.
    Or better yet, the Good Book. Read something from the Bible.

  13. Joseph-Mary says:

    At the TLM we celebrated the Holy Name of Jesus (and the vigil of the Epiphany). Father spoke beautiful things concerning the holy and powerful Name above all names.

    Another family member went to the Novus Ordo and heard there were 12 wise men from 3 continents and some other interesting things.

  14. Hank Igitur says:

    The power of the Holy name, as invoked by St John Capistrano at the battle of Belgrade when the vastly outnumbered Catholic forces defeated the vastly superior Muslim forces bent on driving out Christianity

  15. ckdexterhaven says:

    Good homily, but after the homily, Father had us say a Hail Mary for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

  16. Gratias says:

    Shortest Gospel ever. He was named Jesus. The sermon explained He existed with the Father since the beginning and the Angel told Mary what he should be named. The root of the name had to do with Jehovah and is related to Joshua. The name of Jesus is most powerful and demons retreat from it in exorcisms.

    We too were given chalk to write 20+C+M+B+14 on the entrance to our home for Epiphany. Had never heard of this before. Cannot hurt, I think.

    Holy Father Emeritus, thank you for giving us Summorum Pontificum.

  17. Rachel K says:

    Fr said that the liturgy is like the star to us; it helps us to know we are moving along the right path. We need Sunday Mass to guide us as the Magi followed the star.

  18. adeacon says:

    After a twenty minute homily, Father finally came to the point. That WE are called to be “light” in this world, to manifest God to others by acts of love and mercy in Jesus’ name. The point made was right on target.

    God bless!

  19. Cafea Fruor says:

    Our transitional deacon gave the homily this evening, and he had a number of good points. Among others, he noted that relativism might seem good for the individual, but in reality, it breaks down community. Moving on to truth, he then said that today’s Gospel highlights a truth that many people find uncomfortable: that Jesus really is lord and king of everyone, not just the Jews [which, he said, is good, considering that the majority of us Christians don’t have Jewish ancestors! :-) ] and not even just of the Christians.

  20. Peggy R says:

    We could not make the vigil last night b/c of family obligations. The EF 9 miles away was out of the Q today with the snow falling heavily. My huz was not willing to drive to our local church; nor was he willing that I drive. The church has been built in the middle of open fields on a country road. That probably got somewhat plowed, but is curvy and hilly. Our diocese did not offer a dispensation from our Sunday obligation. I didn’t see a plow until 1 pm, after we’d already helped shovel the way for an ambulance to take an elderly neighbor to a hospital. The kids and I offered prayers for her as well.

    It is still snowing lightly, though the worst snowfall is over…now for the arctic cold.

  21. Gregg the Obscure says:

    The wise men were blessed with a special grace to see the Lord as they did. We don’t have that opportunity, but unlike them, we are blessed with the graces of the several sacraments. Do we make the most of the sacramental graces of Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Eucharist and, if applicable, Matrimony? Or do we ignore them to seek our own way?

  22. SimonDodd says:

    Think what it means to follow a star. Did you know we got a new star seven months ago? You didn’t? Pope Francis!

  23. Sonshine135 says:

    Father made a great point about how the Magi were the first Gentiles to visit Jesus. The Shepherds were Jewish as well as the Holy Family obviously. That the Magi paid homage showed a reconciliation with God and foreshadowed the opening of the Kingdom of Heaven to the Gentiles. I had never considered that, but found it to be a great point.

  24. Vincent says:

    The babe in the manger had no need for gold, myrrh or frankincense – so the reason He was given these presents was to indicate His priesthood, His kingship and His death. But perhaps more to the point, it shows us about ourselves, how we need God, how we have to give Him what we have.

    Also, interesting message about the journey the magi took, that of using their natural wisdom to look for a King in Jerusalem, then using the wisdom of the elders, of the scribes and pharisees, to find Our Lord in Bethlehem. So we should follow our logic and worship God, and follow the wisdom of our elders, that is the rulers of the Church, the Popes.

    In addition, Fr announced that we will now be having TLMs on all old calendar Holy Days of Obligation in York. Deo Gratias, the Oratorians are a blessing to the diocese…

  25. JMody says:

    How will you be remembered? The Wise Men/Magi/Three Kings may have done many great things in their lives, but we remember them because of this journey, because of this offering. What efforts are we making, what gifts are we presenting, what lengths are we going to, in order to get closer to Christ?

    How will we be remembered?

    Msgr. Al Schifano

  26. pannw says:

    It sounds like Father’s sermon was similar to the one given to Sonshine135.

    When God did the most wonderful thing ever done, when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, He did it quietly. He first became incarnate unbeknownst to all but Mary. When He was born, it was missed by all but a very few. It was the Three Kings, from outside the nation of Israel that announced His kingship to the world. He made Himself known to them and gave them the sign of the star to find Him, even though they were not part of God’s chosen people. This is a wonderful sign that God came to save all men, Jew and Gentile alike.

    However, there is another, sometimes more uncomfortable side to this wonderful news. While He came for the salvation of ALL, all will not be saved, because He is the only way to salvation. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Father noted that God inspired the writers of the Gospels to write them in Greek, which is a very precise language. If I remember correctly Father said if it had been written in Latin, for example, it would have said I am way, truth and life, which could be ambiguous and people could claim He was merely one way, yet Greek specifies I am THE way….Jesus meant it when He said He was the only way to come to the Father.

    Also, when they came before the King of Kings, the Wise men prostrated themselves as a sign of their gratitude and respect and that is just the way we need to approach our Savior, as He dwells among us in the Most Holy Eucharist.

  27. My homily was fairly simple. I provided some explanation of the feast of Epiphany, in relation to Christmas and the eighth day, in terms of progressive revelation of the Son of God to the world. I explained what Magi are, and offered some possible explanations of the star: perhaps a miracle, or else a “delightful surprise” that God planned when he first set the stars in motion.

    I invited folks to think about signs they may have missed because they weren’t looking–as the Magi were looking. I talked about how troubling they can be, yet they needn’t be, citing people who are frightened when they come to confession, but VERY happy when they leave, especially that they didn’t draw back from whatever troubling sign prompted them to go in the first place. And I pointed out that everyone at Mass, like the Magi, had been led to Jesus at this Mass, and closed with some questions to ponder.

  28. NickD says:

    Extraordinary form, Missa cantata.

    Father M’s voice was weak due to allergies/upper respiratory illness…pray for him, please! He did mention that two FSSP seminarians were singing with the schola today, and they added extra oomph to the sacred music today!

    In his homily he said it would be good to foster the practice of bowing one’s head at the mention of the Holy Name…not at “Christ” or “Lord,” which are both titles. He emphasized the power of the Holy Name by citing examples from saints’ lives. One example that stuck with me most was that of St. Frances of Rome; God sent an archangel to her as a guardian, and when she would mention the Holy Name, he would glow so intensely she could read by his light alone. He also exhorted us to make short prayers using the Holy Name part of our life; saying, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,” or something like that. A good homily all around.

  29. robtbrown says:

    Confitemini Domino,

    I don’t read German, so I read it in translation.

    1. The reference from John to “pitching his tent among us” is standard fare in lectures on the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel. Good Stuff.

    2. Once I saw the word kenosis, however, I knew I would have objections. It is of course a legitimate reference, famously found in the Christological Hymn in Philippians. But Luther, and German Existentialists like Rahner who follow him, extend the kenosis to the point that it usurps Christ’s pleroma (full of Grace and Truth).

    3. And the specific references to the Logos are an example of why Rahner, who thought the Economic and Immanent Trinity are the same, was accused by many of Modalism.

  30. zag4christ says:

    Fr. Semple commented on today’s Gospel about how the “learned” Maggi had used a new light in the sky to find their way to The Light, whereas the not so “learned”, the shepherds, after being told by angels about the Christ child, hurried directly over the hill to Bethlehem to The Light. He felt that the Church should have a day set aside in celebration of the shepherds, highlighting the apparent fact that the poor, and the simple (but not unintelligent) seem to be closer to Jesus than the educated folks. It reminded me of a response that Fr. Robert Spitzer S.J. gave to a obvious Evangelical pastor during the Q&A period following his talk to the medical professionals sponsored by our local Catholic Medical Society. Fr. Spitzer’s talk was 3 hours of nonstop current mathematical, cosmological and physical evidence for the existence of God. The pastor asked Fr. Spitzer why he was using reason and science to bring Jesus to people when all one had to do is accept Jesus in your heart. Fr. Spitzer charitably explained that current scientific evidence on how people make decisions shows that there is basically 4 ways people make important decisions, and a goodly number of people use reason to the nth degree in their decision making process, and he (Fr. Spitzer) does not want to leave anyone unevangelized.
    Maybe the Magi were those kind of folks.
    Fr. Semple explained how beautiful Cathedrals, liturgical music, sacramentals and of course the sacraments could be seen as dim “lights” that lead us to the Light which is Christ. He encouraged us to seek and conform ourselves to Christ, not only for our benefit but so we could be lights to lead others to Christ.
    As a aside, if you ever have the chance to meet or listen to Fr. Spitzer in person, I highly recommend you do. His website (one anyway) is and is worth a visit.
    Peace and God bless.

  31. Nan says:

    Father talked about a couple of different things; how the Magi looked for Jesus and were used by Herod, who sent them to look for Him so he’d be able to kill him but was unsuccessful. How the Magi were wise but became fools by finding and adoring the poor baby who was King. He didn’t look like an earthly king. He also told us that in the three-year cycle, today we get Magi, Wedding Feast at Cana and Baptism, all celebrated on the same day. That was news to me. I went to 5pm Mass and was happy to find that there were still house blessing kits available; no idea whether they have allotted a certain number per Mass or whether people went somewhere closer to home for Mass or chose to follow the recommendation not to travel unnecessarily.

  32. incredulous says:

    Couldn’t tell ya… I don’t understand a lick of Malayalam, so I just followed along the celebration of the Holy Qurbana as best as I could. ;)

  33. MacBride says:

    This is not a Sunday Sermon note, but I believe is worth mentioning. Bishop Matano was installed Friday as Bishop of my old Diocese. Many have heard the stories of the downfall of that diocese..and I was a product of that in the 70’s and 80’s.

    Here is a link to his homily, it is worth a me it is jaw dropping:

    I know many traditional Catholics are giving thanks right now..many others no so….

    Deo Gratias

  34. Mike says:

    More points than I could keep up with, but the theme was search and discernment (first by the Magi, then by us).

    Father chanted the doxology, Our Father and Deliver Us (in English).

  35. John of Chicago says:

    Father said that Matthew must have written of the Magi for some reason more than adding a few more colorful charectors to every kindergarten Christmas pageant. Magi were seekers, restless and hungry for something more than the trinkets they carried–gold, frankincense, myhrr–money, honor, the power of life and death. They abandoned their “stuff” without a second thought in order to be unencumbered for just a moment or two before the human face of the ineffable God. Matthew says not a word about what lay ahead for the Magi but rather simply tells of prostration, homage, adoration. Just that pure moment was sufficient for them–and so very much more than sufficient–and then their journey home, now unencumbered by trinkets.

  36. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Holy Name of Jesus.

    1) Think about the tremendous responsibility of parents, when they give a name (or several) to each child. Well, when God, through the angel, announced what name this baby had, he announced His purpose: God saves.

    (He didn’t explicitly make the point, but we parents should be more careful in how we choose names for our children.)

    2) In the times of pagan Greece and Rome, swearing by (i.e., cursing by) invoking the name of one of the gods would have been understood as a form of treason. When we do the same, it is all the more serious because it is the name of the one true God.

    3) The next time you hear someone (on a bus, for example) take the name of God in vain, say a quick, audible prayer, invoking that same name. When you get startled looks, reply by saying that you thought he was trying to pray –or something similar: “Praised be the name of Jesus, now and for ever.” (Hearing someone else invoke the name, we should also invoke it: if the other person invokes it badly, ours can be an act of reparation.)

  37. BLB Oregon says:

    He talked about how the doorway to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem requires a person to duck their heads to get in. This, he surmised, was not the kind of place the Magi had thought they’d find an important person being born. He said there is a parallel in life; very often we find a cave where we had hoped for a big welcoming mansion, but it is the caves where we most often find God revealing Himself to us, because the situation causes us to bend to it in order to proceed.

  38. defenderofTruth says:

    Father has been on a “prophetic” theme, and this week, he contrasted the Magi with Herod. He talked about how the Magi saw the signs and acted ON THEIR OWN to discover what they meant, and give homage where it was due. They went in search of Truth, no matter how far, no matter how difficult the journey. This is a characteristic of prophets: they go out and do, on their own.

    He then contrasted the Magi with Herod. Herod sat back and called his adviser to find out where the Messiah was to be born, asked the Magi about their knowledge. Then, when he found out it was in Bethlehem, essentially in his own back yard, he had the Magi go and check it out first. He was too self-centered to search for Truth, too stuck on himself and his own comforts. Then, we all know what happened when he found out the Magi weren’t coming back…

  39. Confitemini Domino says:

    thank you very much for your comments. In Germany, we normally hear “hat unter uns gewohnt” (“lived among us”), which is far more common than “pitching his tent among us”.
    I’m no theologician, but the references to Rahner didn’t come unexpectedly. Father F. is a Jesuit priest after all, and this is Munich, where Rahner taught and preached for a long time.
    I understand why you thought of modalism, but I think it’s mostly the fault of my clumsy translation. At least I hope so…
    Thank you again! I am happy you read my lengthy text. Normally I have to stick to what I remember after mass, then my posts tend to be much shorter…

  40. Confitemini Domino says:

    Great audio of today’s festive Mass of Epiphany at St. Ottilien Archabbey of the Missionary Benedictines:
    The Proper of the Mass is sung by the splendid schola cantorum of the archabbey.
    (In: Ecce advenit dominator Dominus, Gr: Omnes de Saba venient, Al: Vidimus stellam, Of. Reges Tharsis, Co. Vidimus stellam)
    The Ordinary of the Mass is from the “Missa octo vocum” by Francesco Bianciardi (1570-1607), sung by the Lassus Choir.

    The Mass was celebrated in forma ordinaria.

    When an antiphona is repeated, you might hear the congregation joining the schola.
    You might enjoy the organ playing, too…
    If you want to hear it, please don’t postpone it, because the archabbey leaves recordings online only for a couple of days. (it’s a downloadable mp3)

  41. philbert says:

    We were led to keep the feast of the SEVEN Kings! Yes, seven. First the usual “We three.” The next king was Herod. Then they found the real king, the King of kings, Our Lord. One day later we came upon Stephan, whose name means crown and who wears the crown of martyrdom, sitting alongside Jesus. And the end of the kingly line was a man named Wenceslas, who saw the plight of the poor man and helped him at personal inconvenience, incidentally forming a young follower at the same time. We all need to join this throng. The poor are waiting, gathering what they can.

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