Your Sunday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point in the sermon you heard at Sunday Mass?

Let us know.

Today I mentioned, inter alia, the spiritual works of mercy.  Most of you know them by heart, of course, but perhaps there are some young’uns who have never heard of these things.  We are called to…

  • instruct the ignorant
  • counsel the doubtful
  • admonish sinners


  • bear wrongs patiently
  • forgive offences willingly
  • comfort the afflicted
  • pray for the living and the dead

“But Father! But Father!”, you might be saying, why did you break up the list?  Is it because you hate Vatican II?  No…wait… Vatican II abolished old lists… no… wait….”

Let me expand for a moment.

All of us obliged and able to perform the last four.  Only some of us are obliged or competent to perform the first three.

In regard to the first three not all of us are educated or experienced enough to instruct or counsel.  Not all of us are authorized to admonish.  It is not our role in life to admonish, for example, our superiors in their various manifestations. Furthermore, we do not all have the aptitudes or  “character” to admonish tactfully, to counsel prudently, to instruct effectively our peers.  Equal in dignity as we are, we are not equally gifted or competent in all ways.  We have to get to know ourselves and our limitations.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mike says:

    NO: Our Lord calls men at their work to carry the Good News. Are we ready to carry the Good News at our work?

  2. Fuquay Steve says:

    At todays NO Mass, Father linked the epistle and gospel together and spoke of unity and identity. As Catholics we give up our identity (in Peter’s case, and the others, fisherman) to follow Christ and as Catholics we are united in the true beliefs of Our Mother, The Church. The money quote for me was ” … you can’t follow anyone if you are constantly looking in the mirror, either at yourself or others…”. We will only be united if we live truly following Our Lord. This sermon follows another wonderful sermon last week on the conviction that there can be no true faith without the Church (for those that say they are spiritual but don’t believe in organized religion) and their can be no True Church without the Faith (Dogmas of the Church are Holy Spirit born, and their sole purpose is to strengthen the faith). Division results when these two inseparables are denied.

  3. mamajen says:

    Father talked about how schism and division are the work of the devil. He noted that Pope Francis has said things that have worried traditional Catholics (often taken out of context, but sometimes not). A lot of people don’t understand the difference between magisterial and non-magisterial statements. But, even if something is non-magisterial, it can be worrying that the pope thinks such things at all. He said that we should redouble our prayers for the pope. He tied all of this in with the second reading, which showed St. Paul’s concerns about division within the Church. I think he was trying to demonstrate that there is nothing “special” about the times we live in that excuses division–the same issues plagued the early Church. It’s okay to be concerned, but we must always strive for unity and pray for the pope.

  4. lana says:

    Father, what happened to WDTPRS today? It’s becoming part of my Sunday morning routine. Thank you for all the past ones! [Off topic… but there are a lot of times I post them and they seems to garner little interest. Sometimes I post them, sometimes I don’t. But in honor of those who read them and don’t say much – thank you, by the way, I appreciate your words very much – I posted an entry with an opportunity for people to give it a shot on their own.]

  5. Priam1184 says:

    Father today gave a sermon expounding on how, as Christians, we are called to conversion and repentance and that means we have to change how we live and how we think. And he used the historical example of the Assyrians conquering the lands of Zebulon and Nephtali and driving them into darkness (from the first reading from Isaiah; the famous prophecy of the Messiah) and how Christ would come to these same lands eight centuries later and shine a great Light.

    And thank you for explaining the spiritual works of mercy; I have always been mystified when I feel obligated to admonish sinners but have no words in me to speak to them.

  6. Confitemini Domino says:

    Father F. spoke about St. Paul’s theology of the Cross. The Cross not being wisdom. He strongly advised us to read 1 Cor from the first to the last line.

    He very captivatingly described a detail of the crucifixion scene from Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ”: After repeatedly showing the Jews cursing, insulting Jesus, the Roman soldiers standing there, bored, after a lot of noise, then everything falls silent. Sound fades, there is a great silence. The silent sky, no heavenly sign, no indication sort of “this cross is just an elevator to Heaven, don’t worry…”

    He didn’t tell more from this film but meditated on the Cross as a point where at first we find us in kind of an “empty space”. Where we shouldn’t hastily proceed to an interpretation. St. Paul’s conversion came upon him like a trauma, and he couldn’t speak of it explicitly but he changed his name: from the old king Saul to “Paulus”, “the small, the humble one”.

    Father pointed out that there have always been divisions in the Church. He told us about his two years in Mexico City where he – a Jesuit Priest – experienced the conflict between two factions among the Jesuits there, those who had the priority of serving and “liberating” the poor, and others who worked scientifically, at University. They scorned each other, they were contemptuous of each other.

    It is important not to avoid those conflicts completely, but again and again to “step out of them”. The “empty space” of the Cross doesn’t mean nihilism but it is true liberation, where in our so-called free and open societies we often do not know what to do or what to choose. We need to listen to God’s impetus to emerge from the noise, from the multitude of demands and temptations.

  7. Palladio says:

    Hard to penetrate the good father’s accent, but my wife and I are confident he was telling the truth.

  8. RJHighland says:

    It’s ironic you spoke on the Spiritual works of mercy, I was just meditating on those yesterday and also had the opportunity to say a peaceful evening rosary at my parish last night with just my priest and a brother. It was a great way to wind up the day. Thank your for your words they fit right into what I was meditating on. There is a fine line there that I probably manage to uncharitably cross at times. Still very much a work in progress.

  9. Full throated, no-holds-barred, no punches pulled homily on the horror of abortion…numbers of souls, how much the industry has made with the blood of innocents on their hands, comparison to the numbers of murdered children being greater than the populations of either England or Spain, the lack of interest, nay, prevarication on the part of lame stream media regarding the continuous increase in the numbers of marchers, and how this holocaust (and that’s what it is…sorry if it offends someone’s sensibility) will reap God’s justice, and if you (in the corporate sense…not specifying any individual, but the intent was clear) aren’t with the Church on this issue and think we should focus on amorphous ‘social justice’ so-called issues….then you’re forgetting that the dismemberment of innocent individuals in the name of ‘freedom of choice’ is nothing but a hypocritical stance…

    Couple folks left in the middle. For the first time, I was not scandalized by the spontaneous applause as the Deacon left the ambo. I realize that applause is unseemly at Mass, but, this time…couldn’t help but join in that FINALLY it was a clear, non-nuanced, tell-it-like-it-is homily on this topic…4 days after the March for Life.

  10. yatzer says:

    Thanks for explaining about the Spiritual Works of Mercy. I’ve felt badly sometimes about not being able to do certain ones when I would like to.

  11. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Missa Propria, EF: external solemnity of St. Francis de Sales.

    1) Geneva wasn’t a plum appointment; when King Henry IV offered to find him a better one, he said, ” I have married a poor spouse, and I will not exchange her for a rich one”.
    2) He was beatified within a year of his death.
    3) He converted 70,000 souls within his time in Geneva.

    Sure, they’re all historical points, but I drew useful spiritual conclusions from them.

  12. VARoman says:

    EF Mass. Father did a beautiful job using the example of Saint Benedict Joseph Labre and how is example to the people of Rome lead to the conversion of Reverend John Thayer, the first American Protestant to convert. He then moved on to Cardinal Neumann and his conversion from the Anglican church, and the struggles he faced in losing friends, family and never being fully accepted by his new Catholic brothers.

    “How we judge success may not be how God measures it. God does not make junk!”

  13. Two major points..that any blindness and paralysis is symbolic of our sin, and when we’re in sin we can’t see God fully. The other was to pray always, and pray with the heart not just go through the motions.

  14. iPadre says:

    I based my homily on the second reading.

    True ecumenism is: “Absolute surrender to Christ” – become saints, and “unyielding adherence to the divine truth” – anything else is fraud

  15. GypsyMom says:

    We also had a strong, clear sermon on the evils and horror of abortion; on the March for Life, it’s large numbers of participants, especially youth; how the media ignores it; and the number of children lost being equal to the populations of several Midwest states. He also spoke of the need to guard against indifference, while at the same time, doing what we can with love to help others see the evil of abortion. He struck just the right balance of clear truth and compassion for the sinner. And, best of all, “He” is a young deacon who will be ordained this spring! What a blessing he will be for our Church!!

  16. Jim in Seattle says:

    Conversion of St Paul. “Why are you persecuting Me?” How St Paul heard just for a short time from Christ, then learned from the Church. The Magisterium and Tradition (Bible not yet codified). Holy Mother Church is the transmission of the teachings of Christ. Strong exposition on the one true Church.

  17. Nan says:

    Surrendering to Christ, example being those guys who put down their nets and followed Him.

  18. Priam1184 says:

    @VARoman St. Benedict Joseph Labre is one of my favorite saints. I first learned of him from a wonderful meditation that Fr. Benedict Groeschel did on Contemplative Prayer that I saw on YouTube. Thank you to you and to your priest for mentioning him.

  19. C N says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to hear Father give a sermon on going to confession (his first since starting at our cluster a year ago). He used stories of major celebrities (Babe Ruth was one) who were raised Catholic but stopped practicing, only to reach a point in their life where they found themselves in need of confession and the amazing spiritual cleansing feeling that followed. He also used a story of a woman who “never liked the idea of confession” (another celebrity, can’t remember who) who felt compelled to go and discussed her healing process and the joy, relief, salvation, that went with it.

  20. trespinos says:

    My thanks, also, for the explanation on the spiritual works of mercy. And, apropos of instructing the ignorant and admonishing sinners, our deacon’s Sunday homily, primarily concerned with the role of the prophets, ended with a striking personal anecdote. It seems that in 1956, as a freshman marching band member in college, he had flown from Denver to Miami (prop plane, two hops) accompanying their team. The exhausted band members checked into their hotel, but were disturbed to discover the next morning that the lone black member of the band had been told by the hotel management that he could not stay the night at the hotel, but only join the group during the day. The older members of the band, who were G.I. Bill veterans, immediately called a meeting and discussed giving the hotel an ultimatum, either accept all of our members or we will leave. Feelings were strong, and the band leader conceded he would do what the majority wanted. Having entered the room after the meeting had started, the black trumpet player then walked forward and spoke to the group. Theretofore considered quiet and retiring, he thanked them for their support, but urged that instead of leaving the hotel in protest, they do two things: individually write letters to the management stating their case, and leave a tip for the hotel’s domestic staff, two of whom were relatives of his. Respecting his wishes, the band members used the hotel stationery to register their protest and left $3 tips, pretty generous for college students in those days. Their three-night stay ended–the trumpet player stayed with an uncle who lived in the city–the band returned home. Several months later, the band director read to them a letter he had just received from the hotel manager. The manager said that the hotel had indeed changed its policy and would henceforth be open to “everyone”, the word underlined. Quite a moving story.

  21. mrshopey says:

    Although I see what you are saying, by separating the first three, I think that it should be different for parents.
    They way I see it, we did go through a time where a lot were taught to let the Church and those who know what they are doing to instruct/admonish, etc. It is clear that rarely happens now. You can not drop your kids off at Catholic School or CCD expecting them to know the faith.

    Parents are given graces that require further action, learning, in order to carry out our duty. It involves the first 3 with children.

    Also, it would really depend on who the sinner was whether or not I would admonish them. If it were my child, I am called to do so as to a degree with my spouse. I may even do so with a priest or religious, depending on the sin. I would not go out of my way to find people to correct because sufficient today is its own evil.

  22. Imrahil says:

    Thank you for your explanations on the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

    As for me, there was a comparison of the faithful with people who want to get tanned… they have to turn themselves towards the sun, thus “convert”. Likewise, we Christians have to turn ourselves towards the Sun of Grace, and remain in that position. The Kingdom of Heaven has alreday begun within us, although it is not yet there completely (and in this respect, we have to repent, my words not his but he did express the thought; though he also made it a point that converting is not repenting, in general).

    That was quite informative, in my view.

    Then he said, it all starts with God first and we need a vocation to do so. Most true, of course. Sadly, afterwards he went a bit down the charismatic path from that… I could explain what he said and give some at least slightly founded objections; but you told us mention the good points.

  23. kpoterack says:

    In speaking about the March for Life, our chaplain said that perhaps we shouldn’t call ourselves “pro-life” as even pro-abortion people are pro-life up to a point (i.e. they respect their own lives and those whom they love). We should call ourselves “pro-purity” because impurity is what almost always leads to situations where people seek out, and favor, abortion. He also said that possibly the best way to fight abortion is to fight against impurity.

    Now, he admitted that he was just musing, and that the answer probably isn’t quite that simple. Nonetheless, I thought that it was an interesting point.

  24. Skeinster says:

    At the EF, a homily on the late Fr. Feeney, and how his particular exposition of EENS contradicted orthodox Catholic teaching from both the Fathers, the Scholastics and Trent.
    Very useful- I get the impression that Father crafts sermons like this based on questions he’s been asked.

  25. PhilipNeri says:

    If I belong to me alone, then I have emptied the Cross of its meaning. . .

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  26. LarryW2LJ says:

    Our Homily was about how we are all called to be disciples as the Apostles were. However, it is not enough to attend Mass and do all the other “compulsory” things that Catholics do. The world is at a time and a place where being a CINO is not enough. As Fr. Z said above, it was mentioned that we all have different gifts, and not all of us are called to go out into the streets and “evangelize”. But we are all called to evangelize by our actions and how we live our lives. By our actions, our speech, our attitude, our faith – will either reveal Christ to the world, or we will conceal Christ from the world. The choice is ours to make.

  27. acricketchirps says:

    Still such a thing as sin. If you want all that mercy priests are so often talking about, you gotta repent.

  28. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The local diocesan priest (who hails from India) was ON FIRE! He spoke with a great deal of fervor about Jesus coming to “Zebulon and Naphtali,” the places where the invasions had hit hardest, and also coming to us in the places of sorrow and gloom in our lives. He talked about Jesus’ call to each of us, and how each of us should be changed by being a disciple and following that call. He also talked about a children’s home in India in his hometown (which has been getting donations from the folks at the local parishes he serves), how the children there greeted him with the local Christian greeting (which translates as “Praised be Jesus Christ”), and how one little disabled toddler gave him special hope and joy, in which he recognized the presence of God. He talked about how we can manifest the presence of God to each other by love and encouragement.

    People were very quiet and attentive, even when he got to the end of the normal length of a homily and said, “Secondly….” My dad, who was raised to love long sermons, was actually able to settle in a bit and enjoy. :)

  29. PA mom says:

    Thank you for this. Very helpful point as to our varying levels of responsibilities due to our different abilities. I agree about parenthood requiring all to a degree as well.

    I never recall hearing a single homily on these ever, but would love to someday.

  30. Iacobus M says:

    Wow – Where do you people go to Church? We don’t often the much substance in our homilies, except for calls to support statist “solutions” to economic problems (except when we get to the EF mass). I did notice a number of the homilies above were delivered by deacons. Maybe they’re less afraid of causing offense?
    Iacobus M

  31. Heather F says:

    Took our RCIA group on a “field trip” to another parish in town to experience an EF Solemn High Mass (about half the group made it, all who attended loved it, and the folks at the parish were wonderfully welcoming, with the lady running the book stall being so kind as to lend us some copies of a little booklet with the ordinary in Latin and English so we could follow along). Homily was about the faith shown by the leper and the centurion, their status as symbols for Jewish and Gentile believers respectively, and how Christ has no need to observe the rules of ritual purity since He is the source of all purity, and therefore he can touch the leper and offer to enter the house of a Gentile with impunity.

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