September 29, 2013

Homily: Sunday, September 29, 2013

26TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
"WHAT'S THE PURPOSE OF RELIGION?"

Please Note: Considering the extra-ordinary events of this past week, the appointment of Bishop Fabre, and the introduction of the Diocesan-wide Capital Campaign, today's homily is geared to open our horizon so as to embrace the "bigger picture" amidst our pastoral circumstances.

Part 4 of the "Who is Jesus?" homily series will be posted mid-week. Let's keep praying for each other.


Opening Image

People tell me all time: "Fr. Mark, do you need to go to church to be a good person?" And, contrary to popular belief, the answer is, "No." No, you don't have to go to church, or believe in "religion" to be a good person.

However, that's not the point. Religion is not being about a good person. In fact, believe it or not, life is not about being a good person.

Transition to Core Message

What's the point of being married? Is it to be happy? If so, you're marriage will be about you. Your whole focus will be about you ... and when you're not happy you'll leave so that you can be happy.

Marriage is not about you and what you want. It's about an other. It's about falling in love. It's about another person. Marriage only works if two people come together as one.

And crazy things happen when you fall in love. You begin to love the things about your spouse. You begin to love the things they love.

Core Message

God wants us to fall in love with Him. That's the "point" or "purpose" of "religion" ... to help us fall in love with Jesuswith a person.

Implications of Core Message

When we fall in love with Jesus we begin to see the world the way He sees the world. We begin to love what He loves. We begin to want what He wants. We begin to think what He thinks.

Why Do We Resist the Core Message?
  1. I might get forgotten: If I "look" at God outside "my world" I am afraid that He'll forget about the deeply personal things that I hold important to me.
  2. I might loose control: At least I can manage it ... I think. Will God come through if I let go of control?
  3. I might be alone: God has so many other people to worry about. He might focus on other people's requests, not mine.
The Gift and Grace of the Core Message
  1. When we live in "our world" God is often as small as "our world"
  2. When we live in the God's "big world" God then is as big as His "big world"
  3. When we need God ... we need a "big God" not a God as small as "our world"
Conclusion

Let us be a family at Christ the Redeemer who are a people pursuing God and relationship so that we love the things that He loves.

DON'T FORGET: OREMUS THIS WEDNESDAY!


Recorded Sunday, September 29, 2013 at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Thibodaux, Louisiana. © Fr. Mark Toups, 2013

September 27, 2013

Saint Vincent

MEMORIAL OF SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL


All the readings together
Haggai 2:1-9
Psalm 43:1,2,3,4

From Fr. Robert Barron's "Word on Fire" website:
We are told in Scripture that a tree is known by its fruits. Throughout the centuries the saints witness this in abundance. These men and women who let their lives be transformed by their encounter with the risen Christ had accomplishments that inspire and that still affect and bring life to our world. The accomplishments of St. Vincent de Paul, born to a simple peasant family in the late sixteenth century, are breathtaking in their scope. 
St. Vincent moved in the circles of the rich and powerful of his day but rather than getting lost in that world (which so many do) he was able to make use of those friendships to bring aid and need to the poorest in society. This French saint devoted his life to works of charity and established groups throughout his life that worked to bring aid and comfort to the poor: orphans, widows, prostitutes, the sick, and the imprisoned all benefited from Vincent’s care. In a time when the education of the clergy was severely lacking and in need of reform, St. Vincent established the Congregation of the Missions (Vincentians) with the express purpose of preaching the gospel and training the clergy. With St. Louise de Marillac he co-founded the Daughters of Charity. But rather than giving a listing of accomplishments it is more beneficial, I believe, to reflect on what faith lessons are revealed in the life of this saint.
Christ was born in a poor and crude stable. (We know this from the story of Christmas.) Christ continues to be born in the poor and abandoned places of our world. If one wants to encounter Christ, one should go to these places. This, I believe, is a truth that St. Vincent learned early in his life, and it gave him the needed compass and focus to navigate all the twists and turns of his day. Whether it was from his own experience of growing up in a poor peasant family, his experience of being enslaved for two years, his pastoral experience as a parish priest or probably a mixture of all three, St. Vincent came to recognize Christ in the faces of the poor and the abandoned of society. I would hazard a guess that this was more than just an abstract awareness on St. Vincent’s part. I think that St. Vincent “met” Christ in the poor in all senses of the term and that he realized that his discipleship and priesthood must be founded in that ongoing encounter. He realized that where the master was then the disciple must also be.
He also realized that where the master leads then the disciple must follow. In reading over the story of his life we find that St. Vincent was a person keenly aware of the needs of his time and someone who learned how to respond to those needs. Rather than seeing the needs of his time (whether they be the need of the poor and imprisoned or the need of clergy) as an annoyance, St. Vincent recognized the presence of Christ in the need and he recognized the moment as an invitation given by Christ to come and follow him. 
I do not think that St. Vincent had mapped and plotted out in his mind that he would found so many institutions, groups or orders to see to the needs of the poor and the clergy. Rather, he said “yes” to the poor person who came to him, he went one day to go visit the imprisoned, he decided that he had something to offer to help in the education of the clergy. He recognized Christ in the need of the moment and he said yes to the invitation and he made a step. He did something! 
Christ continues to be born in the poor and abandoned places of our world. When we go to the poor we will find Christ. We do not have to have a master plan or worry it all through; we just need to say “yes” to the invitation in the moment. St. Vincent did this and he met Christ. It transformed his life and his life continues to transform our world.    
Fr. Michael Cummins is a Word On Fire blog contributor and serves as the Vocation Director for the diocese and Chaplain to Notre Dame High School and the Catholic Student Center at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. Fr. Michael is a member of the Community of Sant'Egidio.

Click here to see more from Fr. Robert Barron and Word on Fire.

GETTING TO KNOW OUR NEW BISHOP: BISHOP FABRE

"I pledge to serve the needs of the church here in the diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. In all that we do, it is the Lord Jesus Christ whom we praise and serve, and I am confident that together we will grow in faith."

September 25, 2013

New

WEDNESDAY OF THE 25TH WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME

All the readings together
Ezra 9:5-9
Tobit 13:2,3-4,7-8

In the first reading at today's Mass we continue to read from the Old Testament Book of Ezra. As mentioned yesterday, Ezra accompanied Nehemiah as they returned to Jerusalem after the great Babylonian Exile. Nehemiah was in charge of rebuilding the wall. Ezra was in charge of rebuilding the faith.

The Chosen People were exiled namely due to their sin. Over time they had forgotten about God. They began to worship other Gods. They began to live as their own people, not God's people.

As Ezra the Priest re-enters Jerusalem it is fitting that the first thing that he does is repent. Sin is what led to the Exile and repentance is what would lay the foundation for their return. Thus, we hear Ezra's prayer today:
"My God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to raise my face to you, my God, for our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads and our guilt reaches up to heaven. From the time of our ancestors even to this day our guilt has been great, and for our wicked deeds we have been delivered, we and our kings and our priests, into the hands of the kings of foreign lands, to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, and to disgrace, as is the case today. And now, only a short time ago, mercy came to us from the Lord, our God, who left us a remnant and gave us a stake in his holy place; thus our God has brightened our eyes and given us relief in our slavery. For slaves we are, but in our slavery our God has not abandoned us; rather, he has turned the good will of the kings of Persia toward us. Thus he has given us new life to raise again the house of our God and restore its ruins, and has granted us a protective wall in Judah and Jerusalem." (Ezra 9:5-9)
God was doing something new in the life of Israel. Ezra knew it and wanted to start off right: he starts by repenting, asking for a clean heart so that when this new season began he would be free to follow God.

The same is true in our lives. Whenever God is doing something new in our lives the most authentic thing for us to do is to ask for forgiveness so that we too might have a clean heart to follow God. Why?

Whenever God is doing something new in our lives new horizons open, new opportunities abound, new possibilities are before us. Right then and there we have the opportunity to follow God immediately so that God can draw us deeper. The new season is His gift to us. The new season is filled with grace. If we are able to follow God right then and there we will be able to receive all the graces He desires to give us. Our lives will be filled with more: more peace, more joy, more freedom.

What prevents us from following God in fullness is the same thing that prevents us from receiving everything that God wants to give us: us. We often prevent the breakthroughs we long for. Our hearts often are not able to receive all the grace. Where our hearts are filled with sin we will struggle to follow God. Where our hearts are filled with unforgiveness we will struggle to receive all the graces awaiting us in a new season.

Ezra knew the new. Ezra knew the blessings that were waiting. Thus, he asks for forgiveness; he repents for the sins of his past, as well as the sins of his people.

We too have a new horizon before us. We too have a new season of grace right before us. Two days ago, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Shelton Fabre as our new Bishop. There is a new season of grace in our midst, right now. Are we going to be able follow God unreservedly? Are we going to be able to receive all the graces God wants to give us? If so, we must learn from Ezra. This new blessing from God elicits from our heart the desire to repent for anything in our past that prevent us from maximally receiving everything God wants to give us.

Since the new season in our Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux involves a new Bishop, I challenge us all today, in the spirit of Ezra, to look deep within our hearts. Is there unforgiveness in our hearts from the past? Is there unforgiveness in our hearts toward the Church? Is there unforgiveness in our hearts toward Bishops? Is there unforgiveness in our hearts toward a specific Bishop? If so, perhaps now ... today ... right now ... is the time to ask yourself: Are you ready to move forward in this new season with a free heart?  Are you ready to receive everything God wants to give us in this new blessing?

God is doing something new ... are you able and ready to receive it? If so  now ... today ... right now ... God is calling you to repent. God is calling you to let go. God is calling to freedom. Where do you need to ask for forgiveness? What will help you be free to receive the new blessings God wants to give us?

GETTING TO KNOW OUR NEW BISHOP: BISHOP FABRE

"I look forward to going out to the parishes. I look forward to them teaching me. I know they have things to teach me. I hope I have things to teach them. I do look forward to getting to know them."

September 24, 2013

Knows

TUESDAY OF THE 25TH WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME

All the readings together
> Ezra 6:7-8,12,18-20
Psalm 122:1-2,3-4a,4b-5

In the first reading at today's Mass we read from the Old Testament Book of Ezra. You've read that one, right? Spent many a weekend snuggled up reading the story of Ezra and Nehemiah, right? Well, maybe not. Sometimes the Old Testament can a little intimidating, so let's break it down into an easy story.

The Chosen People were strongest when they were faithful ... and they were weakest and most vulnerable when they were most unfaithful to God. About 600 years before the birth of Jesus, Israel's faith was at an all-time low. The Babylonians invaded, soon captured all of Israel, and forced them into slave labor. Their great country was in ruins and the wall protecting their mighty Jerusalem was destroyed.

However, God knows exactly what we need when we need it. A Jewish man named Nehemiah was one of those slaves captive and exiled in Babylon. Miraculously, the King of Babylon agreed to release Nehemiah so he could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the great wall. Ezra was a Jewish priest living among those those slaves captive and exiled in Babylon. He accompanied Nehemiah and they returned together to Jerusalem. Nehemiah was in charge of rebuilding the wall. Ezra was in charge of rebuilding the faith. It was Ezra who brought the Torah back into Jerusalem.

The story is a great story. Nehemiah succeeds. Ezra succeeds. Israel is eventually set free from exile. As the Chosen People return to Jerusalem, their fidelity also returns. And ... a mere 500 years later Jesus is born.

God knows exactly what we need when we need it. God knew that the Chosen People needed renewal ... that's why He sent Ezra.

Yes, God knows exactly what we need when we need it.

Yesterday was truly an historic day in south Louisiana. Our Holy Father accepted the well deserved retirement of Bishop Jacobs and appointed Bishop Shelton Fabre as our new shepherd. Yes, God knows exactly what we need when we need it.

Bishop Fabre and Bishop Jacobs are different men. They each have their own gifts. They each have their own history. They each have their own style. There are three thing about Bishop Fabre that remind me that God knows exactly what we need when we need it.
  • Bishop Fabre addressed the media saying: "I give warm greetings to all the faithful of this diocese! I look forward to getting to know in a more direct way the people of this diocese as we together strive to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in so many ways here in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. Your faith and the presence of the Church in this area are rooted in a rich history, which bring forward into the present though your faith and service all the mercies and graces of God that sustain us today, and allow us to face a future filled with hope in God’s providential love and promises. My brothers and sisters, I look forward to serving you and growing in faith with you." There is something of great harmony in Bishop Fabre's desire to walk with us, grow with us, and love with us that blends wonderfully with the tone of Pope Francis. Our Holy Father has repeatedly called us to love people. I find great comfort in a Bishop who begins his remarks wanting to be with us.
  • Archbishop Aymond has worked closely with Bishop Fabre for the past four years. He said yesterday: "I will sincerely miss him and our ministry together. At the same time, the people of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux are very blessed to receive a loving and gentle shepherd who will walk with them and lead them in the ways of Christ." Bishop Fabre's demeanor is gentle, but strong. His reputation is being a man who is gentle, but fatherly. His is described a gentle. Considering all that so many of us face, God knows we need a gentle, but strong father. His leadership style is exactly what our Diocese needs.
  • Bishop Fabre's Episcopal motto is "Comfort my People." I love that! Bishop Fabre's deepest desire is for us to know the comfort of Christ in the midst of life, real life. How many of us are longing to know that Christ is with us bringing us comfort?
Yes, God knows exactly what we need when we need it.

The timing of yesterday's announcement was indeed a surprise. However, that's often how God works. God knows exactly what we need when we need it. God knows you. God knows what you need. God knows when you need it. Trust God, trust that He knows.  I promise you, He will come through for you ... after all ... just look at what He did for us yesterday.

GETTING TO KNOW BISHOP FABRE
HIS EPISCOPAL MOTTO: "COMFORT MY PEOPLE"

It is customary for each Catholic bishop to adopt an episcopal motto that becomes part of his coat of arms. This motto serves as a public statement of the bishop's priorities, describing what he intends to achieve in his position and how he will work with his parishioners.

Bishop Fabre selected the motto "Comfort My People," taken from Isaiah 40:1, as a signal of his commitment to the people of New Orleans, many of whom still struggled to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

In an address delivered upon his appointment, Fabre reflected on the challenges facing the city: "I know that life in this great city has changed for so many because of Hurricane Katrina. Your resiliency in faith in response to this tragedy has been witnessed by many…. As so many here in New Orleans seek to rebuild their lives and to renew their hope, it is my fervent desire and prayer that to the best of my ability I will be able in some way to bring assistance, comfort and the assurance of God's love and presence to all who are suffering."

Source: encyclopedia.com

September 23, 2013

Getting to Know Our New Bishop


LINKS: MOST REV. SHELTON J. FABRE

From Archbishop Aymond

MOST REV. GREGORY M. AYMOND
Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans

"Bishop Fabre for me has been a true brother in ministry. He has been a great coworker in the ministry of this archdiocese, and I have a great deal of respect for him and for the way in which he lives out his ministry as a bishop.”

“I will sincerely miss him and our ministry together. At the same time, the people of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux are very blessed to receive a loving and gentle shepherd who will walk with them and lead them in the ways of Christ."

Bishop Fabre: In His Own Words


MOST REV. SHELTON J. FABRE

Statement on his appointment as the fourth Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux
To be installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux October 30, 2013

September 23, 2013

Good morning, and may God’s peace be with you!

Please allow me to begin by expressing my gratitude and personal support to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who has today named me the Fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. I am humbled and excited by this appointment by the Holy Father, and I pledge to serve the needs of the Church here in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux to the very best of my ability. In all that we do, it is the Lord Jesus Christ whom we praise and serve, and I am confident that together we will grow in faith.

I want to thank Bishop Sam Jacobs, who has served the needs of this diocese so very well in past years. Thank you, Bishop Jacobs, for the many ways that you have been chief shepherd for this local church. I have greatly appreciated our fraternal camaraderie as brother bishops in the Province of New Orleans, and I look forward to our continued interactions, support and prayer for one another. I pray God’s blessings upon you, Bishop Jacobs, as you move into retirement.

I give warm greetings to all the faithful of this diocese! I look forward to getting to know in a more direct way the people of this diocese as we together strive to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in so many ways here in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. Your faith and the presence of the Church in this area are rooted in a rich history, which bring forward into the present though your faith and service all the mercies and graces of God that sustain us today, and allow us to face a future filled with hope in God’s providential love and promises. My brothers and sisters, I look forward to serving you and growing in faith with you. Thank you for your faith and dedication!

I want in a very special way to greet our priests, permanent deacons, religious sisters, religious brothers, and the seminarians in this diocese. Together in a special way we make known to all the Good News of Jesus Christ as we continue the New Evangelization and seek to serve the Lord in a special way. I look forward to the ministry that will be ours together to coordinate and undertake as we seek to serve the needs of all the faithful here in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. Please know that I am deeply grateful to each and every one of you for all that you do, and I look forward to our ministering together for the Lord.

Please allow me to take this opportunity to also thank the people of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. To Archbishop Aymond and Archbishop Hughes, with whom I was blessed to serve as Auxiliary Bishop in New Orleans, as well as to all the priests, permanent deacons, men and women religious, seminarians and all the people of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, I express my thanks for our life together in the archdiocese. I am grateful for the love, support and kindness that you have shown to me during my service in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I pray that our providential God will continue to bless the Church in New Orleans, which has been my home for the past six and one half years.

Now, I look forward to making the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux my new home, and I rejoice in the opportunity to become a part of this local Church and this unique area of our State of Louisiana. The varied natural beauty that abounds in this diocese is reflective of the beauty of the rich cultural diversity of our Church, and of the glory of the Lord God who created all. At this point in the history of this wonderful diocese, let us renew our trust in the Lord and again pledge to serve him by serving one another. In God we place our hope and our trust, and we can be confident that God will never leave us to endure anything alone. I look forward to this faith journey with all of you. As I pledge my prayers for all in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, I ask your prayers for me as well.

Peace be with you all, and thank you!

Bishop Jacobs Welcomes Bishop Fabre


MOST REV. SAM G. JACOBS

Statement on his retirement as the fourth Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux

September 23, 2013

I am grateful to Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for appointing Bishop Sheldon Fabre as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. I have personally known him since his ordination as an auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I believe that he is the right person at this time of the life of this great diocese.

I am grateful to God for my ten years as Shepherd of this diocese. I have been blessed in many ways by the ministry and cooperation of the priests, deacons, religious and laity.

At this point in my life time I know it is time for me to pass the torch of administration and embrace more fully the priestly ministry I was ordained for. My plans are to live in Houma and continue to serve the Church until the Lord calls me to him.

Welcome Bishop Shelton Fabre

MOST REV. SHELTON J. FABRE
To be installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux October 30, 2013


The Vatican announced this morning that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Sam G. Jacobs of Houma-Thibodaux and has named Auxiliary Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of New Orleans to succeed him. Bishop Fabre will be installed at the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux on October 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM, at the Cathedral of St. Francis de Sales in Houma.

GETTING TO KNOW BISHOP FABRE

His childhood:
  • Shelton Joseph Fabre was born in rural New Roads, Louisiana, 44 miles outside of Baton Rouge, on October 25, 1963. 
  • He is the fifth of six children. 
  • His father and mother are Luke and Theresa Fabre. His father passed away in 2007. 
  • His siblings are Diane Marie, Luke III (deceased in 1973); Gerald Louis, Clyde Raymond (deceased in 1980); and Angelo Gerard.
His education:
  • Attended local schools in New Roads for both elementary and secondary school, graduating as valedictorian of Catholic High of Pointe CoupĂ©e in 1981. 
  • Entered the seminary out of high school, entering Saint Joseph Seminary College, also known as "Saint Ben's."
  • In 1985 he received a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in History Saint Joseph Seminary College.
  • After completing his college seminary studies, he was sent abroad to The American College of Louvain, where he received additional priestly formation while studying at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
  • In 1987 he received a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Religious Studies from the Katholiek Universiteit to Leuven in Louvain, Belgium.
  • In 1989 he received a Master's of Arts Degree in Religious Studies from the Katholiek Universiteit to Leuven in Louvain, Belgium.
As a Priest:
  • Ordained a Transitional Deacon on December 10, 1988 by Archbishop Peter L. Gerety at St. Jan-de-Doperkerk in Leuven, Belgium.
  • Ordained a Priest on Saturday, August 5, 1989 by Bishop Stanley J. Ott at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge.
  • He juggled a variety of responsibilities as a Priest of Baton Rouge. He was pastor of the parishes of Saint Joseph in Grosse Tete, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Maringouin and Sacred Heart of Jesus in Baton Rouge. 
  • He also served as an Associate Pastor at Saint George in Baton Rouge, Saint Alphonsus Liguori in Greenwell Springs, Saint Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge, and Saint Isidore the Farmer in Baker.
  • He served on the diocesan Clergy Personnel Board and served as chair of the Pastoral Planning Committee of the diocese. He at various times took on the roles of chaplain to Saint Joseph's Academy, head of the diocesan Office of Black Catholics, Dean of the Northwest Deanery.
  • He also served as a member of the College of Consultors, the Presbyteral Council, and the Diocesan School Board.
  • He served as a Defender of the Bond within the Diocesan Tribunal.
As a Bishop:
  • Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans by Pope Benedict XVI on December 13, 2006.
  • Ordained Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans by Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, Archbishop of New Orleans, at the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis, King of France, in New Orleans, on February 28, 2007
  • Bishop Fabre is the second-youngest Catholic Bishop, and the most recently ordained African-American Bishop in the United States.
  • Appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux by Pope Francis on September 23, 2013.
  • Will be installed at the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux on October 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM, at the Cathedral of St. Francis de Sales in Houma.
His own words:
  • “I am humbled and excited by this appointment by the holy father, and I pledge to serve the needs of the church here in the diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. ... In all that we do, it is the Lord Jesus Christ whom we praise and serve, and I am confident that together we will grow in faith.”
Sources:   Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux Press Release and Wikipedia

September 22, 2013

Homily: September 22, 2013

25TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
WHO IS JESUS: WEEK 3
"JESUS WANTS TO DO EVERYTHING WITH YOU"

DON'T FORGET: OREMUS THIS WEDNESDAY


Recorded Sunday, September 22, 2013 at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Thibodaux, Louisiana. © Fr. Mark Toups, 2013

September 19, 2013

Contrition

THURSDAY OF THE 24TH WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME

Just got back from a 2-day trip with IPF. Thanks for your patience.

All the readings together
1st Timothy 4:12-16
Psalm 111:7-8,9,10,11

In today's Gospel reading at Mass we read how a "Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table" (Luke 7:36). However, the scene soon shifts to the unexpected: "Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that Jesus was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment." (Luke 37-38)

Who is she? Who is this inspiring woman so moved that she began "weeping" and soon "bathes his feet with her tears?" Perhaps she was among the crowds who heard about Sunday's prodigal son and merciful father. Perhaps she was in the crowds when Jesus healed the woman who was hemorrhaging. Perhaps she, like others, was shocked when Jesus raised the official’s daughter from death. If she was in those crowds, we know she was on the outskirts. This woman was a sinful woman. She didn’t fit in the Jewish codes and categories. She lived isolated, alone, and yearning for love and mercy. As she "learned that Jesus was at table in the house of the Pharisee" (Luke 7:37), she is filled with contrition that can be described as heartfelt sorrow propelled by mercy. Thus, she "stood behind him at his feet weeping." (Luke 7:38)

There is a difference between being sorry because we’ve disappointed ourselves in our quest for self-perfection as opposed to true contrition because we have truly turned away from God. When we encounter Jesus, we encounter pure love. Then, we truly realize who he really is. We see our sins for what they truly are—ungrateful rejections of his desire to love. That’s contrition, real contrition. That’s why she wept. She was truly sorry and contrite.

What about you? What has Jesus done for you? Have you taken his mercy for granted? Where is there ingratitude? Look at his heart, his love, and pray for the grace of true contrition.

Enter the scene today. Imaginatively pray with Luke 7:36-38. Be with Jesus in the home of the Pharisee. Be with the woman as she cries. What stirs within you as she cries? What stirs within as you look at your response to God’s love?

© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013

PREPARING FOR MASS THIS SUNDAY

This Sunday, September 22 we continue the third part of the "Who is Jesus?" homily series. Let's start preparing for Mass this weekend. Click here to read the readings that we'll hear at Mass this weekend. Last night at Oremus we discussed the ancient art of Lectio Divina. Let's practice Lectio Divina as we read the readings at Mass this Sunday.
  1. First: read all the readings slowly. Pay attention to the story, the context.
  2. Secondly: read the readings again, a second time ... read them even slower. Pay attention to what word or phrase grabs your attention or tugs at your heart.
  3. Finally: read the reading that contains the word or phrase grabs your attention or tugs at your heart. Read it really slow. Pay attention to your heart. 
  4. Now ... talk to God about what stirred within. Talk to Him about the word or phrase grabbed your attention or tugged at your heart.

September 15, 2013

Homily: Sunday, September 15, 2013

24TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
WHO IS JESUS: WEEK 2
"JESUS LOOKS AT YOU THROUGH THE EYES OF MERCY"




INTRODUCTION

My experience of Oremus this past Wednesday was a profound gift. One of my favorite things to do as a father of our family is to watch you pray, to watch you generously open your heart to God. To summarize the first week of Oremus, we defined prayer: Prayer is responding to and relating to God from our hearts.

(Click here to listen to the first talk of Oremus from Wednesday, September 11. Click here to listen to part one of the "Who is Jesus?" homily series.)

Our definition comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2567: "God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse God of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response."

TRANSITION INTO THE SERIES

Jesus' initiative is partly why I felt called to start this series. Why? I think so many of us theologically understand Jesus based off our personal experience of Jesus. Thus, if many of us experience Jesus to be distant then we presume that this is who Jesus is: distant. In reality, Jesus is not distant, He is never distant. Instead, the Church teaches us that Jesus is always taking the initiative. That was the theme of week one.

TRANSITION INTO TODAY'S GOSPEL

Likewise I think a lot of us presume that Jesus looks at us the same way we look at us. For example, when we "feel" ashamed, we presume Jesus looks at us through the lens of shame. Or, when we "feel" unworthy, we presume Jesus sees us as unworthy. Or, when we "feel" good because we have impressed ourselves with success, we presume Jesus is impressed and "now" He loves us. 

Thank God for today's Gospel. We are so very familiar with today's legendary parable of the Prodigal Son. However, I'd like to begin by centering our thoughts today on the following line: "While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20) It was father who saw the son first, not vice versa. And, when the father saw his son he "was filled with compassion."

CORE MESSAGE

Jesus doesn't see you the way you see you, Jesus sees you through the eyes of compassion.

WHAT DOES THE TRADITION SAY ABOUT THE CORE MESSAGE?

"Love of neighbour is thus shown to be possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. .... Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave." (Deus Caritas Est, no. 18)

UNPACKING THE CORE MESSAGE

How did the son "see" himself? 
  • "Coming to his senses he thought, 'How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.'" (Luke 15:17-19)
How did the father "see" his son?
  • "After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country" (Luke 15:13)
  • "everything I have is yours" (Luke 15:31)
  • "this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found" (Luke 15:24)

CONNECTING THE CORE MESSAGE TO OUR LIVES  

  • When you see yourself and your sin ... what do you see? how do you see it?
  • When you see others and their sin against you ... what do you see? how do you see it?
  • When you see Jesus  ... what do you see? how do you see Him?

CONCLUSION

Let us pray. I'd like to lead you through a guided mediation ...

DON'T FORGET: OREMUS THIS WEDNESDAY


Recorded Sunday, September 15, 2013 at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Thibodaux, Louisiana. © Fr. Mark Toups, 2013

September 13, 2013

Mercy

MEMORIAL OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
BISHOP AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

All the readings together
1st Timothy 1:1-2,12-14
Psalm 16:1-2,5,7-8,11

This Sunday, September 15, we'll unveil the second installment in the new Sunday homily series: "Who is Jesus?" This Sunday we'll talk about mercy; however, what is mercy? 

"'God, who is rich in mercy' whom Jesus Christ has revealed to us as Father: it is His very Son who, in Himself, has manifested Him and made Him known to us. Memorable in this regard is the moment when Philip, one of the twelve Apostles, turned to Christ and said, 'Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied'; and Jesus replied, 'Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me? He who has seen me has seen the Father.' These words were spoken during the farewell discourse at the end of the paschal supper, which was followed by the events of those holy days during which confirmation was to be given once and for all of the fact that ‘God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.'" (1) As the complete revelation of the Father, Jesus emphatically reminds Philip, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9). As we see Jesus, we see the Father. And, as we see the Father we see "God who is rich in mercy." "God’s passionate love for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love." (2)

The Father’s mercy is the medicine that embraces the confusion of Saint Paul, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate ... For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want." (3) Ever feel like that? If we're honest, we come to admit our resistance to the Father’s tireless mercy while at the same time yearning for the very depth of love found in His mercy.

In "Christ and through Christ, God also becomes especially visible in His mercy ... Christ confers on the whole of the Old Testament tradition about God’s mercy a definitive meaning. Not only does He speak of it and explain it by the use of comparisons and parables, but above all He Himself makes it incarnate and personifies it. He Himself, in a certain sense, is mercy. To the person who sees it in Him—and finds it in Him—God becomes ‘visible’ in a particular way as the Father who is rich in mercy.' (3)  Pope John Paul II reminds us that the Father is "rich in mercy" and Jesus Christ reveals the Father so that the Father "becomes ‘visible’ in a particular way as the Father who is rich in mercy."

My struggle ... your struggle ... our struggle ... is that we often hide from God in our shame. However, God is love and the Father is rich in mercy. "In truth God wants to call [us] from within [our] own sinfulness, his own hiding from love, so that He can minister to the needs of [us] from within. It is [our] darkness within [our] heart that cries to God, invites God, summons God to be who He is for such a [person]: compassion. 'Far from diminishing God’s yearning for us, our brokenness unleashes in him yet deeper wellsprings of tenderness and mercy.'" (5)

"With ever more accurate darts of love the Holy Spirit opens our consciences before God so that deeper and more effective healing can occur; at times his coming is so pure that it causes us to have pain and recoil at the level of intimacy God wishes his Son to achieve in our being. … Something greater than the mantras of self-help gibberish and post-modern syncretism is demanded if spiritual healing is to occur. An encounter must occur. We must be seized with the presence. In this presence, perhaps dramatic at first, perhaps not, we appropriate meaning, love, and healing at ever expanding levels of integration throughout our life." (6)

"The healing of sinful affections may happen at such deep levels as to escape our capacity to articulate our real needs. God answers our groans, our sufferings, with the silent coming of the Holy Spirit ... instilling within the reality of Christ living his mysteries over again in our lives. Our groans, our pain, our need for healing is met by the silent power of love itself taking up residence within us. Our free 'yes' meets the free gift of the mystery of Christ’s Passover, reaching 'depths not touched by the wounds death has inflicted on us;' thus in holy communion we are healed in peace, not with emotional upheaval or storm ... but as quietly as the epiclesis (the renewing Spirit) itself." (7)

"It is this divine self-giving and the positive human response to accept such love that healing is known. Trust, vulnerability, rapt listening, integrity all precede the fullness of healing; otherwise God could incorrectly be seen as entering a magic relationship and not one of human freedom and fullness.  We must present ourselves in such a way that Christ can enter our hearts with truth. And such a way of presenting ourselves is encapsulated in the virtue of humility." (8)

Rejoice and be glad, for the Father who is tirelessly calling you is rich in mercy.


PREPARING FOR MASS THIS SUNDAY


This Sunday, September 15 we continue the second part of the "Who is Jesus?" homily series. This Sunday's homily will focus on Jesus as the revelation of the Father's mercy. Yesterday we prayed with the Readings that we'll hear at Mass. Today, reflect upon the prodigal son. 

Here's what's interesting: the father in the parable is a generous father. In fact, he tells his older son: "everything I have is yours." (Luke 15:31) The prodigal son, the younger son, had the same father. Surely, the prodigal son knew that "everything" the father had was his. However, "the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country." (Luke 15:13) Why? Why did the son leave? What was he looking for? Everything ... everything ... he needed and wanted was there, with his father. However, something within drew him to leave. Why? Why did he leave? Was he looking for more? Was he not trust that "happiness" would be experienced with his father? Why did he leave?

Hmmmmmm ... why do you leave? What is it that draws you away from Christ? And, are you utterly convinced that staying with Jesus is enough ... that He's enough to make you happy?

Click here to listen to week 1 of the new series: "Who is Jesus?"

(1) Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, no. 2
(2) Ibid., no. 10
(3) Romans 7:15, 19
(4) Blessed John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, no. 2
(5) Deacon Jim Keating, Ph.D., "Surrendering to the Healing Power of Christ’s Own Chastity"
(6) Deacon Jim Keating, Ph.D., "The Eucharist and the Healing of our Affection for Sin"
(7) Ibid.
(8) Ibid.

September 12, 2013

Tireless

THURSDAY OF THE 23RD WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME

All the readings together
Colossians 3:12-17
Psalm 150:1-2,3-4,5-6

Last night's first installment of Oremus tied in nicely with the first installment of the new Sunday homily series: "Who is Jesus?" Here's a recap and a few connections. 

Let's start at the beginnning. Deeper than your longing for Jesus is Jesus' desire for you. The Church teaches us: "God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from His face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. ... God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response." (1) "Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek Him, so as to find life and happiness." (2)

Sound familiar? Ever forget God? Ever hide far from His face? Ever run after idols? Ever accuse God of having abandon you? If so, there is good news: "the living and true God tirelessly" pursues you for "God’s initiative of love always comes first."

A priest since 2001, I often have had to discern in the tension of wanting to spend time with my family, while at the same time having to honor the responsibilities in the parish. My siblings call and invite me to watch the game; but, things get busy and I do not make it. They call again and invite me to come eat dinner; but, things get busy and I do not make it. They call still more and invite me to spend the night; but, things get busy and I do not make it. The fear that often echoes within is, "Are they going to stop calling? If I keep disappointing them, are they one day going to give up on the relationship? Are they going to get tired of me and my games?" Of course they do not, but the fear is there.

The same thing often happens in our relationship with God. The Catechism’s brilliant illustration of our poverty hits close to home doesn’t it? "Man may forget his Creator or hide far from His face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him." We all have our patterns. We all forget God. We all hide from His face. We all run after our idols. And, because the inevitable emptiness birthed from such passive aggression throbs in ache, each of us accuses the Father of having abandoned us. Sound familiar?

While the aforementioned litany may describe the truth of our patterns, the truth about Jesus is that He "tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer." Regardless of our childish games and fear-laden hiding, Jesus tirelessly pursues us. Jesus longs for you infinitely more than you long for Him. In fact, Jesus does not simply take the initiative, Jesus tirelessly reaches out to you. He never tires of reaching out to you. The Father’s tireless pursuit of you precedes your often faint-hearted attempts to respond.

However, even though "God draws near to us"  we often recoil at the level of intimacy Jesus intends. "This ‘intimate and vital bond of man to God’ can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man. Such attitudes have different causes ... that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call." (3) Thus,we all "may forget God" in the busy-ness of life. We may "hide far from His face" after we have fallen into the same repetitive sin that plagues our sense of self-worth or holiness. We "may run after idols," spending more time trying to figure out if we are worthy than we do developing a relationship with the God who is the real source of our holiness. We may "accuse God of having abandoned" us after spiritual desolation hits them, perhaps mainly because of our aforementioned patterns.

CONNECTING THINGS TO THE "WHO IS JESUS?" SERIES

This is especially exhausting for those of us struggling with repetitive sin. Whether it is lust or greed or gluttony, or any one of the capital sins, many of us assume that because we sinned, God will not "show up" if we go to our morning prayer time. For those of us struggling with repetitive sin, a seductive whisper soon rears its head, "God will grow tired of me. God will get tired of my weakness. Soon God will get tired of my sin, and He too will stop reaching out to me." This is a lie, "for the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer."

Nowhere is the mercy of God more eloquently displayed than in Luke 15 and the parable of the prodigal son. This Sunday, September 15 guess where the Gospel is from? Yep ... Luke 15. "The father had certainly not forgotten his son, indeed he had kept unchanged his affection and esteem for him. So he had always waited for him, and now he embraces him, and he gives orders for a great feast to celebrate the return of him who 'was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.'" The father is fully aware of his son’s inability to receive fully from the father, thus it was the father who waited for his son to return. Likewise God the Father "tirelessly calls" you as a beloved son and daughter "to that mysterious encounter known as prayer."

Regardless of how often you have forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected God’s inner invasion of intimacy, the Father is tirelessly calling you to communion. The Father is taking the initiative; The Father is calling; the Father is calling you. The Father is tirelessly calling you "to that mysterious encounter known as prayer."

PREPARING FOR MASS THIS SUNDAY


This Sunday, September 15 we continue the second part of the "Who is Jesus?" homily series. This Sunday's homily will focus on Jesus as the revelation of the Father's mercy.  Let's start preparing for Mass this weekend. Click here to read the readings that we'll hear at Mass this weekendFirst: read all the readings slowly. Pay attention to the story, the context. Secondly: read the readings again, a second time ... read them even slower. Pay attention to what word or phrase grabs your attention or tugs at your heart. Finally: read the reading that contains the word or phrase grabs your attention or tugs at your heart. Read it really slow. Pay attention to your heart. Now ... talk to God about what stirred within. Talk to Him about the word or phrase grabbed your attention or tugged at your heart. Specifically pay attention to the Gospel and the story of the prodigal son. Where are you drawn? How is God speaking to you about His mercy?

Click here to listen to week 1 of the new series: "Who is Jesus?"

(1) Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2567
(2) ibid., no. 30
(3) ibid., no. 29

September 11, 2013

Looking

OREMUS STARTS TONIGHT! 
WHO ARE YOU BRINGING WITH YOU?

WEDNESDAY OF THE 23RD WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME

All the readings together
Colossians 3:1-11
Psalm 145:2-3,10-11,12-13

In today's Gospel reading at Mass we read the famous Beatitudes. It's easy to become familiar with the Beatitudes: we've cherished them at funerals, we've heard them proclaimed at Sunday Masses, we've listened to dozens of homilies unpacking their wisdom. Ahhhhhhh: the Beatitudes.

What's interested about the Beatitudes is how Luke introduces them: "Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said." (Luke 6:20) Jesus "raised his eyes" and in doing so is asking us to do the same.

At the heart of the Beatitudes is a question: where are you looking for satisfaction in life? Jesus mentions that we are blessed when we are poor, hungry, and weeping, as well as when people hate us. However, the blessing isn't in the poverty, hunger, tears, or hate per se. If we "raise our eyes" to a world deeper than this world we understand that God Himself will provide for us the blessings promised in the Beatitudes. Likewise, if we look to this world for our ultimate satisfaction, we might experience temporary consolation described in Luke 6:24-26, but we can't do so at the expense of our soul or salvation.

Here's the point: where are you looking for satisfaction in life? And ... is it really satisfying you? If we look to the natural "world" with all its glamour and empty promises then we may experience a sense of fleeting pleasure, but far too often what we were chasing fails to bring the lasting joy we really longed for. On the other hand, if we look to Christ, our supernatural souls will be quenched by a supernatural communion ... even if the consequence of such looking brings with it the poverty, hunger, or weeping mentioned at the beginning of the Beatitudes.

Where are you looking for satisfaction in life? And ... is it really satisfying you?

KNOWING WHERE TO LOOK AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR

If you're tired of looking and not being satisfied perhaps it's time to look at the One who made your soul and wants to satisfy your soul: God. And, the good news is there's help.

Oremus starts tonight. Oremus is an 8-week experience of prayer. We'll teach you how to pray, give you resources to pray, and give you an intimate space to pray in. Oremus is designed for those who are hungry, but don't know what next to do. Oremus is designed for those who want to learn how to pray, but don't know how to take the next step. Oremus is designed for those who ready to let God draw them into greater relationship, freedom, and peace.

Oremus starts tonight: Wednesday, September 11 @ 6:30 PM @ Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church. Here's a snapshot of night #1:

6:30-6:40 PM: Gathering, welcome, introduction, opening prayer
6:40-7:15 PM: Teaching: "What is prayer?"
7:15-7:25 PM: Transition to Eucharistic Adoration
7:25-7:55 PM: Very intimate experience of Eucharistic Adoration
7:55-8:00 PM: Transition out of Eucharistic Adoration
8:00-8:10 PM: The next seven days, wrap up, closing prayer

Looking forward to seeing y'all tonight ...

© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013

UNPACKING THIS WEEKEND'S HOMILY

This past weekend we introduced a new series: "Who is Jesus?" The core message from Sunday's homily was: "Jesus always takes the initiative". There's a great line in the movie The American President that states: "When people are thirsty enough in the desert they'll drink the sand when they see a mirage." Whew, sounds like the culture we live and the life many are leading. The good news is this: Jesus is tirelessly taking the initiative in your life to help you look at Him. If when you turn away and look at the "world" or sin, Jesus never stops calling. He never gives up on you. Jesus always takes the initiative to bring you back. Even if you have been looking in the wrong places of late, Jesus is taking the initiative to help you ... all over again. The first step is to stop ... let Him find you ... let Him pursue you. And ... stop ... let Him look at you ... let yourself look at Him ... and trust His look of love.

Click here to listen to week 1 of the new series: "Who is Jesus?"

A SNEAK PEAK AT OREMUS

Here's "example" of the kind of things we'll talk about at Oremus.


For more ... check out "7 Questions" from Fr. Mark.

September 10, 2013

Prayer

OREMUS STARTS TOMORROW! 
WHO ARE YOU BRINGING WITH YOU?

TUESDAY OF THE 23RD WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME

All the readings together
Colossians 2:6-15
Psalm 145:1-2,8-9,10-11

In today's Gospel reading at Mass we begin with: "Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God." (Luke 6:12) Prayer was important to Jesus, for before every major event in His life we read similar words: "Jesus departed to the mountain to pray". Before He began his public ministry He prayed. Before He chose the Apostles He prayed. Before He entered Jerusalem He prayed. Prayer was important to Jesus.

Prayer is important to you. You wouldn't be faithfully reading this blog if it weren't. However, it’s likely that somewhere along the line you’ve struggled. Perhaps you've even wondered if prayer will ever get easier.

In his classic book Prayer, Hans Urs von Balthazar wrote: "Many Christians are aware of the necessity and the beauty of contemplative prayer and have a sincere yearning for it. Yet, apart from tentative efforts soon abandoned, few remain faithful to this mode of prayer, and even fewer are really convinced and satisfied by their own practice of it. ... We would like to pray, but we cannot manage it. … Our time of prayer passes leaving us distracted, and since it does not seem to yield any tangible fruit, we are tempted to give up.  From time to time we take up a book on ‘meditations’ which presents us, ready-made contemplations we ought to produce ourselves. ... Often fear robs us of the confidence to take steps on our own." (1) Sound familiar?

Many of us want to pray; we have a sincere desire for God. Therefore, we start strong. Our enthusiasm elicits a feeling of momentum. We’re excited because "something" is happening in our spiritual life. Then, we hit difficulties, and, as von Balthazar writes: "Our time of prayer passes leaving us distracted, and since it does not seem to yield any tangible fruit, we are tempted to give up." If this describes your prayer, be not afraid. Many of us experience difficulties in prayer.

According to the Catechism, struggles in prayer are common. Be on the look out for the "5 D’s":

Distractions.  The most common "difficulty in prayer is distraction." (2) We have one of our favorite Scriptures passages in front of us. It’s quiet. The setting is perfect. However, we just can’t focus. We think of work; we think of things at home; we think of anything other than God. Sometimes it can feel as if our mind won’t slow down, much less focus on God.
Dryness. Another common struggle, "especially for those who sincerely want to pray, is dryness." (3) Many of us know well the experience of showing up and wondering if God did the same. We read the Scriptures, we share our thoughts, we listen, but nothing happens. If this happens often we can feel dry, like "a land parched, lifeless, and without water." (Psalm 63:2)
Disappointment. If we can’t focus, or if we don’t hear God, we often struggle with unmet expectations. Thus, "disappointment over not being heard according to our own will" is the third most common challenge in prayer. (4) God didn’t answer your prayer; or, God didn’t answer your prayer how you wanted. We get discouraged if our expectations aren’t met.
Doubt. "In the battle of prayer we must confront erroneous conceptions of prayer … which cast doubt on the usefulness or even the possibility of prayer." (5) If distractions, dryness, and disappointment grow common we may soon doubt whether we can do it. In fact, many of us listen to the spiritual experience of others. We compare ourselves to them. We may doubt whether or not we’ll ever taken that next step in our spiritual life.
Discouragement. With doubt comes discouragement. It’s important to be on the look out for "discouragement during periods of dryness". (6) You will be tempted to give up. You will be tempted to move on to something more productive. Simply ask yourself: does that really sound like the voice of God?

Hang in there, help is on the way. If you struggle with prayer, or any of the "5 D’s" we can help. Oremus, which is Latin for "Let us Pray", is designed to help you either learn how to prayer or go deeper in your experience of prayer.

Oremus starts Wednesday, September 11 @ 6:30 PM @ Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church. Here's a snapshot of night #1:

6:30-6:40 PM: Gathering, welcome, introduction, opening prayer
6:40-7:15 PM: Teaching: "What is prayer?"
7:15-7:25 PM: Transition to Eucharistic Adoration
7:25-7:55 PM: Very intimate experience of Eucharistic Adoration
7:55-8:00 PM: Transition out of Eucharistic Adoration
8:00-8:10 PM: The next seven days, wrap up, closing prayer

Looking forward to seeing y'all tomorrow night ...

© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013

UNPACKING THIS WEEKEND'S HOMILY

This past weekend we introduced a new series: "Who is Jesus?" The core message from Sunday's homily was: "Jesus always takes the initiative". God wants you more than you want God. That's especially good news for those of us who struggle in prayer. The Catechism offers us encouragement: "God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer." Jesus is pursuing you; He has always been pursuing you. Be not afraid. Don’t give up. Trust that Jesus is "tirelessly" calling you to the more that you so desire.

Click here to listen to week 1 of the new series: "Who is Jesus?"

(1) Hans Urs von Balthazar, Prayer, page 7
(2) Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2729
(3) Ibid., no. 2731
(4) Ibid., no. 2728
(5) Ibid., no. 2753
(6) Ibid., no. 2728
(7) Ibid., no. 2567

A SNEAK PEAK AT OREMUS

Here's "example" of the kind of things we'll talk about at Oremus.