Your Sunday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point in the sermon you heard for your Mass of Sunday obligation? Let us know.

I, for one, spoke (14th Sunday after Pentecost) about seeking that which is above and treasuring up treasures in heaven. There is nothing wrong with material, created things or wealth until we seek them for themselves. Only God must be seated on the throne of our heart. It is hard to make material gains and we toil for them. But we can easily perform small acts that are meritorious for heaven. These acts accrue. Small incremental acts help us to greater acts, especially in regard to mortifications and performance of corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Working in small increments is a good way to proceed in the spiritual life. This is how we conquer vices and build virtues. And the spiritual merits we gain accrue exponentially when we are in the state of grace. However, be clear that we don’t merit anything on our own. All merit is of Christ. He crowns His own merits in us. He moves us to good, meritorious works. He then gives our hands the strength for the task and brings them to completion. Hence, they are simultaneously His and ours. We can say that we did things that merit heaven, but only because those merits are from Christ. Even the smallest acts we perform, if we do them prayerfully for love of God, uniting them to Him and His will for us, are meritorious. Examine your consciences in regard to created things, which includes people. No created thing, which includes people, can be on the throne of your heart. That’s God’s. When our loves are ordered, we can love people and use material things properly and in ways that are meritorious.

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  1. billy15 says:

    I have an amazingly well-versed pastor, who is great at Biblical exegesis, and often quotes the Church Fathers and other prominent Catholic clergy in his homilies. Today, he gave his homily on the readings from the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time. He tied it in to last week’s Gospel, and told us how both of these Gospel readings, especially today’s are difficult passages for many. He told us many people would rather it not be included in the Bible, and that it’s something that causes him to really examine himself.

    He went on saying that these passages fly in the face of the modern outlook on the Jesus who is “saccharine” and an aging hippy who is all about peace and love. Many people, he said, think that basically everyone is saved, one doesn’t have to do any work to get into heaven, and those that do in fact do anything, are just as well off as those who don’t even try to keep our Lord’s commnadments. He then reminded us, there is no door prize in the Heavenly Kingdom just because you died. He quoted St. Augustine, who said something along the lines of “if we only pick and choose the things we like from the Gospel, then we really aren’t living out the Gospel; it’s something else.” Would love to know which homily that comes from…

    Anyways, he continued by tying today’s Gospel passage into the Parable of the Wedding Garments in Matthew 22, and went further into his exegesis by comparing it to what St. Paul said in 1 Cor. 9, i.e. striving to win the race. Father said, “even St. Paul was afraid of losing his own salvation. If he is, what about us?” He then quoted Avery Cardinal Dulles about how we’ve made Jesus Christ into a relativist, saccharine kind of Person, and went into unpacking the second reading from Hebrews a little bit.

    He ended by contemplating how he hears from parents (we have a parish school and fairly big Religious Education program) how they have to get their kids up before dawn for travel baseball or basketball, and how they put so much time and effort into getting little Johnny ready for all his games and practice… yet do we put this much effort into our religion? He said if he were so much as to suggest this he’d get run out of town! But suggest he did and asked us what’s more important? What should we be preparing for more, baseball or eternal life. He answered his own question by saying “The answer is pretty obvious.”

    And I thought to myself, you know what… people don’t even NEED to put as much effort into their eternal salvation as they do in travel leagues! They certainly should, but look at the Precepts of the Church; that’s the bare minimum right there! All we have to do to truly be a Catholic in good standing is attend Mass on all Holy Days of Obligation, go to Confession and the Eucharist at least once a year, provide for the Church’s material needs as we can, and to observe just a few days out of the year the fasting and abstinence laws. But some people can’t even do that, as I’ve seen first hand teaching my RE classes. I think Father’s words definitely hit home to the congregation today, and hopefully gives us all pause to think.

  2. AmjdhA says:

    Novus Ordo Mass, excellent priest. The homily explained that the narrow gate is for precision and that we must be precise in our beliefs and actions. The Saints are in Heaven because they were precise in what they said and did, and they did not make concessions in upholding the faith.

  3. iamlucky13 says:

    Our newly-ordained (2 months) parochial vicar delivered the homily.

    Father suggested the question “Will only a few be saved?” was one that was on almost everybody’s mind, but nobody had gotten up the courage to ask. Father himself said he had wondered about the question in the past, and cited numerous saints who had as well, ranging from Origen (probably worth clarifying, not canonized, but had some significant early input on theology) to Thomas Aquinas, who had opposing views on the answer. The theologians’ arguments are not conclusive, however. Although the Church teaches plainly that hell exists, she does not teach that any human person is in hell.

    Had Christ wanted to give us a precise answer, it would have been no trouble to do so. Therefore, He clearly did not want to give us an answer that either made us comfortable settling for “good enough” nor one that would leave us in despair.

    Instead, he answers with a somewhat cryptic metaphor about a narrow gate. Just how narrow is this gate that many will not be able to enter? Father says the gate is wide enough for exactly One Person: Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Light. The gate is shaped like Him, so the only way we can pass through it is to shape our lives like His. Dependence on our own strength or other personal characteristics will not allow us to break the gate wider.

    I suspect he actually read part of an article by Bishop Barron on the question while preparing his homily that I likewise happened across a few weeks ago. Parts of it were very familiar, including a quote by Hans Balthasar. I just looked it up again:

  4. billy15 says:

    Iamlucky13, thanks for reminding me. My pastor also name dropped and quoted Bishop Barron in his homily today. I’m guessing he quoted from the same article, I just can’t remember the specific quote.

  5. Prayerful says:

    High Mass with an excellent choir (guest choir I think with a plainchant style making a change from the more usual baroque finery). The Parish Priest spoke of how we cannot serve two masters, the flesh and the spirit. It probably drew more on the Epistle Gal 5, 16-24 rather than the Gospel Mat 6, 24-33 in its terminology, but Mammon as contrast to God, meant they both lent themselves to his sermon.

  6. PhilipNeri says:

    These questions matter only if we have gathered the strength necessary to squeeze ourselves through the gate. If we are weak, exhausted, apathetic, or if we really are evildoers, then staying on this side of the gate, away from the table of the kingdom, probably seems more attractive, easier to accomplish, not so much sweat and tears. Do we really want to be part of a banquet that excludes so many? Do we want to lend our support to a homeowner who crafts a narrow gate for his front door, knowing that most will not be able to enter? We may be lazy or stupid or just plain evil, but we would rather suffer righteously with sinners than party self-righteously with the saints!

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  7. NickD says:

    (EF: live according to the spirit; one cannot serve God and mammon) Our good Polish-born priest gave a homily on the importance of making God central in our lives in every respect. He tied in a good point on raising children: saying that you won’t teach your child the Faith so he can choose his own religion when he is old enough is like not teaching him English and letting him decide what language he wants to speak when he’s older; only the Faith is more important than language.

  8. Michaelus says:

    The narrow gate is really narrow. There is no room for any of the junk we love so much – and even the souls in Purgatory need time to break away from their burdens so we must pray for them. This homily was given by a young priest at a cathedral in a New England city. The cathedral bears all the usual scars of the insane 1970’s renovations – yet this young priest preached in the spirit of the True Church. It was wonderful and a high point of a very decent vacation.

  9. robtbrown says:

    The celebrant began with this story.

    Upon the death of Otto von Habsburg the burial was to be in the Imperial Crypt in a Capuchin church.

    The burial began with the appointed herald knocking on the door.

    The answer comes back, “Who demands entry?”

    The herald replies:
    Otto of Austria; former Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary; Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria, and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, of Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Silesia, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, Auschwitz and Zator, Teschen, Friuli, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg etc.; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and the Windic March, Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia etc. etc.”

    The answer: “We don’t know you.”

    Once again, “Who demands entry?”

    Dr. Otto von Habsburg, followed by number of his civic achievements, notably as President of the Paneuropean Union and Member of the European Parliament,

    Again the answer, “We don’t know you.”

    For a third time, “Who demands entry?”

    Otto, a mortal, sinful human being.

    “So may he come in.”

  10. Matilda P says:

    EF — Father (a religious priest) talked about how God must be our Master. He explained the evangelical counsels in these terms: poverty, ‘all I have is God’; chastity, ‘all I love is of God’; and obedience, ‘all I desire is God’s will’. Then he counselled that if anyone hears the call to the religious life or priesthood, they should follow and seek God’s kingdom without fear, for God will provide the material things we need!

  11. misternaser says:

    Our recently-assigned pastor preached on Hell, why it must exist and while we must avoid it. It was shocking, not only because our previous pastor would never have been so bold as to preach on such an important, substantial topic, but also because in my entire life I don’t remember ever before hearing a homily exclusively devoted to the Church’s teaching on Hell. It was magnificent. Thanks be to God for my pastor.

  12. JonPatrick says:

    EF Mass. No man can serve 2 masters. We need things (money, possessions) in order to be able to provide for ourselves and our families but must avoid becoming slaves of them. It is bad to put God’s creations above God himself, even worse to put man’s creations above God.

    St. Benedict preached a balance – Ora et Labora – prayer and work. Work to support yourself and using the excess to support others. Before Father became a priest he spent time at a monastery in an inner city where they always left the door unlocked so to be able to share what they had with others.

    We were blessed to have with us at Mass 2 brothers from St. Thomas Aquinas House in Detroit, a newly formed traditional religious community. One of the brothers, an ordained Lector, beautifully chanted the Epistle.

  13. Mike says:

    The struggle and tension between the life that God offers and the death the world offers will not be resolved in this life. This is why we must ask for the grace of the Spirit, so as to bear the fruits of the Spirit. Participation in Holy Mass is a powerful occasion of such grace.

  14. James in Perth says:

    The parish I visited itself had a visiting priest. He was a bit of a card and got some good laughs. He mentioned too that he had baptized Joe Kovacs, the silver medalist in the men’s shot put in Rio. They’ve kept in touch and he said many nice things about Joe’s character and faith.

    On more spiritual matters, he encouraged all to seek holiness in their own unique way. He could have said it a bit more forcefully, I thought, but nevertheless it is a message that needs to be heard more often.

    On a different matter, my mother suffers from dementia and often hears her children or grandchildren crying to her for help. But yesterday as we sat in the pew before Mass, she turned to me and said “I hear a voice in my head and it’s saying ‘God is beside you.'”

    Thank you, Lord of Heaven for your consolation.

  15. frjim4321 says:

    I stayed pretty much with the hard lessons in the gospel:

    (1) The our participation in God’s reign is not automatic, but it requires that we be intentional about our participation/cooperation in it.
    (2) That there is a finality to our choices/behaviors; that we each reach a point at which there are no second chances.
    (3) That the invitation to share in the reign of God is inclusive (N-S-E-W); which is ironic considering the fact that weekly worship tends to be the most demographically segregated hour of the week; people tend to worship with people who look like them and live like them.
    (4) Participation in God’s reign entails a 180 degree reversal (last/first, first/last) in that reign of God values are often opposite to our worldly views of power, prestige, possessions.

    Yet the journey aspect (on the way to Jerusalem) implies a process; that we are on this journey together with Jesus, and we can take to heart the encouragement of the anonymous author of Hebrews to be patient and to persevere, we have not yet reached the goal.

  16. MikeToo says:

    Father spoke on the question in the gospel, “How many will be saved?” He gave an analogy of a new college student who, on the first day of a college career, goes to the dean and asks how many students graduate? A good dean would say that that is not the most important question. What she should focus on is what does she need to do to graduate. This is the answer that Jesus gives when the question is asked.

    He then talked about the Didache and the way of life and the way of death. The way of death is selfishness, greed and pride. The way of life is love of God, love of Neighbor, faith, forgiveness and reconciliation and humility.

    Jesus did not directly answer the question, nevertheless, it is still an important question. Many thinkers have come up with a wide range of answers. We would do well to remember that some important Theologians such as Augustine and Aquinas said that few will actually be saved. Will we be in that number?

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