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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Happy Anniversary to my Pastor!

My pastor celebrated his 18th anniversary of ordination today. Congratulations, Father!

May is the traditional month of both First Communion and Ordination. It's fitting that these two sacraments come together since, without our priests we wouldn't have the Eucharist, and without the Catholic faithful there would be none to receive it. So a special bond exists between our priests and us. They are indeed the good fathers who give us our "daily bread." Congratulations to all the priests celebrating their ordination anniversary this month.

My pastor gave a terrific homily this morning that can be summed up by a bumper sticker I once saw -- Heaven: Don't Miss it for the World.  Father talked about choices: little choices, bigger choices, and the biggest choice of all. The biggest choice is, of course, eternal salvation. Where will we spend eternity? While we may say heaven is our goal, many of the choices we make along the way jeopardize it. Do we approve of abortion and vote for pro-abortion politicians? Do we practice contraception? Do we receive the Eucharist in mortal sin, committing sacrilege? Do we decide for ourselves that certain choices are okay for us even when the Church (articulating the law of Jesus Christ) condemns them as seriously sinful?

Father's homily provided food for serious reflection. Life is all about choices and in life's cafeteria there are multiple stations marked morally neutral, morally good, morally excellent, sinful, and grievously sinful. The Catholic striving to choose according to God's will, tries to avoid all the food stations that jeopardize his immortal soul and runs to Confession quickly when he eats something morally poisonous -- to neutralize the poison and avoid addiction.  The "cafeteria Catholic" has no problem gorging at any station that appeals to him regardless of the Church's warning label. He insists his conscience, based on his own judgment, is the final arbiter of what foods are "good" for him. After stuffing himself with poisonous choices, he often becomes spiritually blind and stupid, the inevitable side effects of sin.

God loves everybody in the cafeteria regardless of the choices they're making. But he won't protect people from the consequences of their decisions. He gave each of us an intellect and free will so that we could listen and learn and choose what's good. And he gave us guides, our priests, and a manual, the deposit of the faith, to help us make spiritually healthy choices. But he won't stop those who, in their obstinate defiance, insist on eating the poison because it tastes so good. One can only hope that, like the prodigal son, these folks will come to their senses at last (as many of us have done) and return to the Father. He waits with open arms. Those of us firmly rooted in the faith must pray diligently for the lost to be found and resist the temptation to be like the older brother who refused to attend the banquet and share in the fatted calf. That rejection would, indeed, be eating the poison of unforgiveness, a most deadly one since we are promised forgiveness to the degree we exercise it.

Once again, happy anniversary to all our priests! Let's offer Masses and prayers for them during the rest of May, asking the Blessed Mother to hold and guide her spiritual sons as she did with the first apostles. Mary, Mother of the Clergy, pray for them.

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