Q: Last year we were on vacation overseas on the feast of the Assumption, which is a holyday of obligation. We went to Mass and hardly anybody was there. It seemed like it was an ordinary weekday Mass to everybody there but us. Is it possible that it wasn’t a holyday of obligation there? Or do you think maybe people in that country were just ignoring the obligation?
A: The obligation to attend Mass is addressed in canon 1246.1. First of all, the Sunday obligation is stressed, as Sunday is the day on which traditionally the Easter mystery is celebrated. But the canon also lists those dates which, in addition to all Sundays, are holydays of obligation. Catholic Americans may find parts of the list surprising:
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (December 25)
The Epiphany (January 6)
The Ascension (40 days after Easter Sunday)
Corpus Christi (Thursday after Trinity Sunday)
Mary the Mother of God (January 1)
The Immaculate Conception (December 8)
The Assumption (August 15)
Saint Joseph (March 19)
The Apostles Saints Peter and Paul (June 29)
All Saints (November 1)
On this list there are clearly some holydays of obligation that we Catholics in the U.S. have never heard of. What’s going on?READ MORE
My brothers and sisters in Christ, the Church gives us our readings to prepare us for the coming of the end of time and the 2nd coming of Christ in Glory. Truly we are drawing near to the end, as next week is the last Sunday in Ordinary time in which we proclaim Christ to be King of the Universe, before we begin the new liturgical year with the season of Advent in just 2 weeks. Instead of focusing on our readings directly, today I want to proclaim what the Church calls the 4 last things- Judgment, Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. On Monday, I talked to our brothers and sisters who are possibly becoming Catholic in the RCIA process on these last things, and it was brought to my attention that maybe not all this truth, or the Scripture it comes from, is known by the average Catholic. In the month of November, beginning with All Souls day, the Church calls us to pray in a special way for all the souls in purgatory. I hope this teaching will be a reminder for many of you, but will be convicting to all of us, and hopefully inspire us to do more for our deceased and living loved ones and neighbors.READ MORE
Rule No. 1: Don’t argue. Arguing is like pushing and can quickly escalate. Voices get louder and anger reddens the face. Emotion can take over, and unfortunate things are said that cannot be taken back.
This is not to say that we should not discuss in a measured and charitable manner, but we should avoid the emotional, arm-twisting argument that generates more heat than light, more bad will than desired results.
Of course, for many of us this takes tremendous self-control. We have to remember that we can win an argument but lose a soul; win the battle but lose the war. We have to bite our lip and grimace inside.
I say this from experience. I’ve done the exact wrong thing more than once and paid the price. I’ve been on both sides of the confrontation. I’ve pushed, and I’ve pushed back. I’ve alienated family members and friends. I still regret my quick words and unmeasured responses.READ MORE
You have heard of the sermon on the mount, well this is a sermon on the Amount. I heard another priest used that and the congregation laughed, so I thought I would try it. If you do not find it funny, don’t blame me. But seriously, my brothers and sisters, we should be challenged by our readings today, let us reflect on them and upon our lives. Even though the word is not mentioned, the question I ask you to reflect on is: Do you have the attitude of stewardship?READ MORE
From a woman whose Catholic friends encouraged divorce — a strong word of caution to well-meaning friends:
I’ll save you the full background of my marriage, but it was difficult from the start. I was pregnant when we married, and we struggled in silence during the first few years. Then, one day, my husband finally confessed to me that he had been unfaithful before we got married and had been keeping it a secret for several years. I was devasted. I had recently reverted to Catholicism and took to my private Facebook group of faithful Catholic women to seek advice and comfort. When I shared my story, to my great shock and dismay, I was told by most of them that I needed to leave my marriage. I was told everything from “get a safety plan in place” to “set up a private bank account and start saving.”READ MORE
My brothers and sisters, in the chapter before our first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses gave the people of God, including you and I, the 10 commandments written on 2 tablets- the first tablet of 3 focusing on love of God, and the other inscribing the next 7 focusing on love of neighbor. And in our 1st reading today, Moses instructs the Israelites, all the people of God, to “keep throughout the days of your lives all his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you, and thus have long life. Be careful to observe them, that you may grow and prosper according to the promise of God”. The 10 commandments are, then, a blueprint for our lives given to us by our Creator. They are a written decree or covenant made with God, and if we keep the commandments all the days of our lives, then we will have a long life. Which alludes also, the opposite, if we don’t keep the commandments, then we will bring a spiritual death upon us. This spiritual death occurs by our committing a mortal sin and not keeping a commandment. But if we are careful in observing all the commandments then we will have a long life, we will grow and prosper. Thus, our happiness is wrapped up with us keeping the commandments.READ MORE
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The U.S. bishops are joining together in a commitment of prayer and reparation leading up to the bishops’ general assembly, where we will be making critical decisions in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis. With our brother bishops across the nation, Bishop Nevares and I will be dedicating ourselves to seven days of intensified prayer and fasting, from Monday, November 5, through Sunday, November 11. The intentions for this period of prayer and sacrifice are three-fold:READ MORE
Last week I saw the movie Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer. It's about the true story of the murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, an abortion doctor in Pennsylvania, that took place just a few years ago. It was a great, sad, and true story which I encourage everyone to go see. I will try not to ruin it for those who haven't seen it yet, but allow me to speak on a few highlights of the movie.READ MORE
Have you ever been amongst hundreds of people, but yet felt all alone? Everyone around you is preoccupied with something else, doing their own thing. And you are out of the loop. People all around, but no one pays attention to you, and pass you by without a second glance or thought. Have you ever felt such loneliness and darkness for so long that you don’t know anything else? You tried to find any glimpse of happiness, but nothing worked, and so the best you can do is to just go through the motions. All you can do is put on a happy face on the outside, but inward you are lonely, broken, and in such darkness for so long that you’re on the verge of despair. Have you ever felt that way to one degree or another?READ MORE
From your first moments of existence, you had all the DNA that would determine your sex, facial features, physique, and the color of your skin, hair, and eyes. At 24 days, your heart began beating. By 8 weeks, all your organs were present, and your unique fingerprints were forming. Ultrasounds show that by 18 weeks, you could swim, somersault, suck your thumb, and even cover your ears if you heard loud music. If you’d been born just 23 weeks after conception, your chance of survival would be 50-80 percent; by 25 weeks, it’s over 90 percent, and that’s still months before full-term birth.READ MORE
Soon after the birth of my son Charlie*, who has Down syndrome, a visitor asked whether he was “mild, moderate, or severe”—referring to his level of cognitive impairment. I knew the terminology, but the question shocked me. In my arms I held my beautiful baby boy, who defied easy categorization. Clinical labels may describe some aspects of an individual’s “functioning,” but they don’t tell the whole story. Labels could not describe how Charlie’s smile lit up a room or how the sweetness of his soul had captured our hearts so completely.READ MORE
All priests are required to pray the Office of Readings (the lay faithful are encouraged to pray them as well). In last week's bulletin, I shared how I was inspired by the second reading of the Office of Readings from Thursday, September 20th. It was from the final exhortation of Saint Andrew Kim Taegŏn, priest and martyr. I included an excerpt from it and my reflections on whether we are Catholics/Christians in name only. Here is another excerpt from that exhortation, followed by my commentary:READ MORE
Let me first acknowledge how this is a difficult homily to write, not because the teachings of the Church on Marriage and Divorce is not clear, but because there is so much that I can, or that needs to be said. But also, it is difficult to speak to hundreds of people who all have different perspectives. Some of you, thanks be to God, have been married many years and are thriving. Some of you are married, but are just getting by. Some are divorced, while others are truly struggling, and may even be on the brink of divorce. Some of you are not married, and might be somewhat scared or unsure if you want to get married. Some of you may be pondering a vocation to the single, priestly, or religious life. Regardless if you are single, married, divorced, widowed, or never married, even though this homily will focus on marriage, I will try and something that can benefit wherever you are.READ MORE