Posted by: frroberts | October 12, 2017

A View of Keble College Chapel

Posted by: frroberts | October 12, 2017

Becket asks for grace

Posted by: frroberts | October 11, 2017

Faith and Money

We turn our focus today to worries about money.  While inviting parishioners to confession is no easy task, talking about money has a significantly higher degree of difficulty.  When praying about the homily this week there was little question that the Lord was asking me to address this topic, but as soon as I started preparing, I was filled with anxieties and tempted to preach on something easier.

Doing that would be setting a very bad example by giving into my own fears rather than facing them with faith.

Married couples, at least the ones I know, have some of their worst fights over household finances.  Many, if not most, of the adults sitting in this church today would stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in net worth by a sudden downturn in the stock market or home prices.  Some of us lose sleep over being able to pay the bills or even calls from debt collectors.

The instability of the globalized economy means that there are almost no recession-proof jobs and that corporate right-sizing could mean that even the most productive and loyal employee might find herself looking for a job with only relatively short notice.

Credit cards, student loans and thirty-year mortgages make it easy for us to spend money we don’t have to buy things we really don’t need.  Constant bombardment by unrelenting advertising blitzes wears down our defenses to the temptations of retail therapy, expensive hobbies, frivolous collecting and wasting money on smart phones.

We might even try to overcome fears about the future of the economy, unpaid debts and bouts of impulsive spending by compulsive financial planning.

What does the message of the Gospel have to say to us today about how to be free from budgetary angst ?

The Word of God proclaims,  “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.”

That’s quite a list!  Jesus, the Word by Whom the entire universe was created, has a right to receive back power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor and glory and blessing from His creation.    The list is a poetic way of saying  all things.  Jesus should be the point towards which we order everything in our lives.

Let’s talk about how we order our riches to Christ.

A good starting point is realizing that any wealth that we have does not find its ultimate origin in us.  It is a totally gratuitous gift from Him who created everything from nothing.  None of us can stand before God and plausibly use the word “mine” when it comes to our treasure.  All that we have belongs to Jesus; we are only temporary stewards. If we get this point, we have taken a huge step in the direction of overcoming fears about money.  If we miss this point, we will likely find that even during times of plenty we will still have anxieties about finances.

It would be a good exercise to go through our monthly spending and for every purchase try to say “Jesus and I bought…”  Let’s give it a try.

“I was having a bad day because a parishioner sent a nasty email and Jesus and I went to the Dairy Queen together and bought a large blizzard.”

Perhaps every once in a while that isn’t the worst way to spend money.  But if I did that every time something stressful in the office happened, I wouldn’t be spending my money in a way that glorified God…even if it meant good business for Dairy Queen.

Let’s try another. “Every day at three o’clock Jesus and I go to the Diary Queen to get a large blizzard to take the edge off.”   Now it sounds like some of that money would be better spent on feeding the hungry rather than an ice cream addiction.  It also sounds like there are better ways to handle stress than costly ice cream therapy.

Let’s try one that isn’t about me.  ”I was feeling guilty about my relationship with my son because I work so much, so Jesus and I decided to go out and buy him the most expensive new electronic gadget so I would feel better about myself.”

This one doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

Maybe this one might be better.  “I was feeling guilty about my relationship with my son because I work so much, so Jesus and I decided that I would take Saturdays off work in order to spend some time with junior serving at the local soup kitchen. ”   We are beginning to see the difference, I hope.

A Christian should never be alone when making decisions about spending money.  Jesus rightfully deserves to be consulted, especially when it comes to our more significant spending decisions.   He also enjoys being consulted about trips to Dairy Queen.  The Bible is right when it says that we should do everything for glory of God.

In a homily that talks about overcoming financial fears giving has to be mentioned.

We don’t give to Church and charity because we happen to have some extra cash that is burning a hole in our pocket.  We shouldn’t give to our local parish only when we hear a well-articulated need that we want to see met.  We give sacrificially as an act of worship to Christ our Redeemer who is present mystically both in the Church and in the least of our brothers and sisters.

Obviously, our giving should always be guided by prudence.  We don’t give money to a beggar who is going to use it for booze.  Nor do we tithe when we know that it will mean losing our house in foreclosure.

In the Old Testament it would be unthinkable for someone to come to worship God without some kind of animal or grain sacrifice.  We find this odd, but these two commodities often played the role then that money does today.  One type of sacrifice was a holocaust or burnt offering that involved the destruction of real wealth as an external sign of interior faith in God.

A holocaust then was kind of like what burning a wad of $100 bills would be today.

The sacrifice of the Cross put an end to the cereal and animal sacrifices of the Old Testament.  Early Christians gave far more than 10%.   They gave all they had to the Church, holding everything in common and distributing what was not necessary to the poor.

In the centuries after the end of Roman persecution, the Church went back to the idea of 10% as the most fitting percentage to be offered in worship to the God Who gives us 100% of what we have.  Even as late as the 16th century excommunication was imposed on Catholics who withheld tithes.

More recently, the government has begun raising tax rates and using tax money to fulfill many functions that were in the past done only by the Church.  This fact muddies the waters considerably when we talk about what constitutes an appropriate level of giving.

The best lesson I have ever been taught about giving came from my father.   One Saturday when I was a boy we went up to see a Notre Dame football game.  The tickets were not cheap, especially for a family of eight with a single income that had a couple of kids in college and one in Catholic grade school.

As we were driving back from South Bend, my dad told me something that I have never forgotten.  “If we as a family can afford going up for Notre Dame football games as often as we do, we really should be giving more on Sundays in the collection.”

My father was right.  Giving back to God generously should take priority over entertainment spending.  If we don’t have to forgo a sporting event or a meal out from time to time in order to give, we probably aren’t giving enough.

We would not be human if we didn’t have fears about our financial security.   In today’s economy many of our fears have at least some basis in reality.  If we try to overcome anxiety about money without recognizing that everything we have is a gift from God, we are bound to fail.  But if we allow Christ to teach us that we are only temporary stewards of His gifts, we will spend money His money differently and know a peace that will allow us to give sacrificially rather than only out of our surplus.

Posted by: frroberts | October 11, 2017

Book Recommendations: Parents

Clayton, The Little Oratory.

Montfort, True Devotion to Mary.

Barbeau, Father of the Family.

Lovasik, Catholic Family Handbook.

Van Zeller, Holiness for Housewives.

Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children.

Newland, We and our Children.

Pierlot, A Mother’s Rule of Life.

Bennett, The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse.

Bennett, The Temperament God Gave Your Kids.

Popcak, When Divorce is not an Option.

Popcak, Parenting with Grace.

Meeker, Boys Should be Boys.

Meeker, Strong Mothers, Strong Sons.

Meeker, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.

Posted by: frroberts | October 11, 2017

Excommunication Scene from Becket

Posted by: frroberts | October 10, 2017

Why do we have bodies?

Why do we have bodies?

This question might seem like a strange one, but it is one that is definitely worth asking.  Answering it will be very helpful as well!

As people of faith, we confess belief in what is seen and unseen, or, as the new translation of the Creed puts it, “things visible and invisible.”  God in Himself qualifies as a Being whose Existence lies outside our ability to see with the optic nerve.  We also profess the reality of bodiless spiritual persons called angels.We human beings are strange composites of body and spirit.  Unlike other animals, we possess immortal souls made in the image of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27).  Many Fathers of the Church understand image in terms of rationality, although the underlying Greek is logos, which has could be translated variously as Word, reason, logic or even spirit.  We are talking about more than just the ability to think when we talk about the image of God.  We are talking about what makes human more than just a complex series of chemical reactions.  At the same time, like animals, we maintain our persons by eating and drinking.  Human reproduction, while meant to be an icon of God’s faithful love for the human race and creation, looks basically the same as the reproduction of other animal species to the detached scientific observer.

My own experience is that all but the most dyed in the wool atheist recognizes some spiritual element in themselves.  Even Richard Dawkins aficionados seem to find something like spiritual joy in his rejection of the existence of the realm of the spirit.   At the same time, even the most deeply religious and spiritual people tend to focus an awful lot on finding happiness in our animal side: eating, drinking, sex and other sensual pleasures.  Ask a person of faith what they do when they need to decompress and the most spiritual response that one is likely to get is “watch TV.”  For myself, I can say that I turn to food for comfort far more than I would like to admit.

When I watch TV I can’t help but notice that advertising tries to take advantage of our sensuality in order to get us to open up our pocketbooks.  Eat fast food and you will feel better. You might get diabetes if you do it as often as we would like.  Drink plenty of hard liquor and all of your cares will go away. Buy enough to make our company more profitable and you might get cirrhosis.  And so on.

According to the dominant secular culture, why do we have bodies?  For pleasure.  Our bodies are instruments that we use to experience pleasure.  And the more pleasure we experience, the better we are using our bodies.

Our faith gives us a different answer.  We have bodies in order to participate in the Glory of God by using our them as a means of loving God and others…

Our dominant secular culture sees the body as an instrument for experiencing pleasure.  We Christians understand the body as the means by which we enter into loving relationships, the most important of which is with the Holy Trinity in prayer.

The vision of the body as an instrument to experience pleasure is hardly new.  Saint Paul encountered it throughout his apostolic ministry.  He notes in Philippians that:

For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct yourselves themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction.  Their God is their stomach; their glory is their shame.  Their minds are occupied with earthly things. (3:18-19)

It is not clear to whom Paul refers, but we should not be surprised that there were people who lived in the flesh, even many Christians, then as now.  “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” has been a way of life since the Fall.   Rather than embracing the Cross as the way of love, they flee from it in order to seek merely sensual pleasures, even those that are shameful.  Far from experiencing this search for pleasure as freedom, they find themselves to be enslaved by it and can think of nothing else.  To use modern language, they are addicted.  These addictions to pleasures that fly in the face of the logic of the Cross will lead to their eternal spiritual destruction.  In common language, they are going to Hell unless they repent.

A Christian is not to use her body to live in the flesh, but for life in the spirit.  Thus the Apostle to the Gentiles explains:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will change our lowly body to conform with His glorious body. (Phil 3:20-21).

The modern world gives us all sorts of schemes to have the perfect body.  We go to the gym.  We eat healthy diets.  Some of us even have cosmetic surgery in order to eliminate the signs of aging.

The first two are not bad in themselves.  There are some instances in which number three is morally permissible.  Most of the time I suspect that the money spent on plastic surgery would be better spent by helping the poor.  In the final analysis all of these strategies are just postponing the inevitable.  Our bodies will deteriorate and we will die, probably sooner than any of us would like.

In the Transfiguration Jesus reveals to us the true perfection of the human body, which comes only through prayer.

“While [Jesus] was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.”

During the Transfiguration we see Christ’s glorified humanity.  This transformation in the appearance of our Lord’s body is the revelation of the glory that lay hidden throughout His entire earthly life.  On one level, what happened on Mount Tabor is the special privilege of the divine nature  that is proper to Jesus’ person.  At the same time, we can become by adoption what Christ is by nature, which means that by grace we too can be participants in the divine nature (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4).  While there are many ways to experience this participation, prayer is among the most privileged.

Prayer is radical receptivity to God.  Our first parents sought to become godlike by grasping for it and were thus cast out of the garden of right relationship with the Lord.  They tried to take what God wanted them to receive freely.  Christ our Lord reopened the door to right relationship with God for us by obediently receiving the will of His heavenly Father that He should die on the Cross.

When Jesus conversed with Moses and Elijah during the Transfiguration, He spoke with them of His approaching death on the Cross, or as Saint Luke calls it, the great “exodus that He was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.”  The Father’s will is Jesus’ will, even if that union of wills means a brutal and gruesome death.  Here lies the center of true Christian prayer, participation in the divine nature realized through ever-deepening union with everything that pertains to God’s essence: His goodness, His will, His power and ultimately His knowledge.

The life of Christ is not a mere revelation of extraordinary spiritual experience but also the manifestation of the way of Love.  The glory that shone forth on Mount Tabor also shone forth on Mount Calvary.  We encounter God by using our bodies to pray, but in order for this encounter to be authentic we must use our bodies as instruments of disinterested love for others, especially our enemies.  Cross and Transfiguration go together.

Why do we have bodies?

To enter into union with a God who is love and to share that love with others.

Posted by: frroberts | October 10, 2017

A place of Miracles

Posted by: frroberts | October 10, 2017

Book for Marian Consecration Class

Click here to get 33 Days to Morning Glory!

We will meet every Sunday at 12:15pm in the Saint Patrick (1204 N. Armstrong St., Kokomo, Indiana) Church Basement starting on November 5.  We will celebrate our consecration to Jesus through Mary on December 12.

Posted by: frroberts | October 10, 2017

Visiting St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford

Posted by: frroberts | October 10, 2017

Classic Scene From Becket

Posted by: frroberts | October 9, 2017

Three parts of morality

Posted by: frroberts | October 9, 2017

More on York

Posted by: frroberts | October 9, 2017

More Video on the Fountains Abbey

Posted by: frroberts | October 9, 2017

Important Scotland and England Pilgrimage info

Initial Deposit of $1000 due on October 31 (please make check payable to Bravo Viaggi and mail it to Fr. Christopher Roberts, St. Patrick Church, 1204 N. Armstrong St., Kokomo, IN)

Contact for more information.  While the deposit is due on Oct. 31, advising me of your plans to attend by Oct. 13 is appreciated.

Posted by: frroberts | October 9, 2017

Pilgrimage 2018

I will be having informational meetings about the July 2018 pilgrimage I will be leading to England and Scotland:

Sunday, Oct. 22 at 5pm, Holy Family (5th Street and Findlay, Dayton, OH) in the Parish Hall

Cost : $ 3,880 per person (includes breakfast and dinner)

$4,065 per with Pittsburgh departure and return

Single supplement: $700,00

Initial Deposit of $1000 due on October 31 (please make check payable to Bravo Viaggi and mail it to Fr. Christopher Roberts, St. Patrick Church, 1204 N. Armstrong St., Kokomo, IN)

Contact for more information.  While the deposit is due on Oct. 31, advising me of your plans to attend by Oct. 13 is appreciated.

ITINERARY (may be subject to revision)

July 9 Depart from Chicago O’Hare at 12pm to Edinburgh (arrival 7:10am, July 10) via JFK  or

Pittsburgh at 12:28pm from Pittsburgh to Edinburgh via JFK (same arrival time)

Accommodation at the Hotel Apex Grassmarket, 4 *  ,

July 10 Day in Edinburgh (Castle, Holyrood House, St. Margaret’s Chapel, Old Town, Cathedral, Arthur’s seat, Roslyn Chapel)

July 11 Day in Edinburgh

July 12 Depart for York to see ruins of Fountains and Yorkminister, overnight in London

Accommodation at the Novotel London West , 4*  ,

July 13 Day in London

July 14 Day trip to Oxford (Magalden College, Christchurch Meadow, Christchurch Cathedral, Saint Mary the Virgin, Kelbe College– Holman Hunt Painting, Littlemore–site of Cardinal Newman’s conversion)

July 15 Day in London: St. Paul’s, The Tower, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, The London Oratory

July 16 Day trip to Canterbury

July 17 Day trip to Stonehenge

July 18 Depart from London at 7:45am to return to Chicago at 10:20am or

London 10:20 am departure with 5:07pm arrival in Pittsburgh via JFK

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