Homilies: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Year B

My homily for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Year B) As preached during the 5.30 pm Saturday evening Mass from Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton.

The readings proclaimed were Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Mark 1:7-11.

“Through the action of being baptised in the Jordan, Jesus has united himself to us, and through our baptism, we have been united with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.”

From Fake News To Insurrection

Whenever a new President of the United States is inaugurated, they must take an oath of office. For the Office of President, the promise reads thus:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

This oath, this exact text, is required by Article II, Section One, Clause 8 of the Constitution of the United States. The very words are enshrined in the US political system’s founding document, not required by subordinate legislation enacted by the US Congress.

Today, according to their local time, the 6th day of January 2021, an attempted insurrection took place in the United States of America’s national capital.

Yes, the United States of America.

Not some tiny proto-democracy on the continent of Africa. Not an emerging democracy in some part of Asia.

The United States of America.

A flag-waving, placard-carrying, gun-toting mob attempted to overthrow the constitutional order of the United States. The sight of a vast crowd of people, some very clearly organised if one is to believe the available vision, essentially invading the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, hoping to undermine or overturn the November 2020 presidential election results is simply shocking. No other word seems to sum up the significance of the events we have seen unfold over many hours, at least not for this correspondent.

And if that was not shocking enough, the insurrection was fomented via the actions of one man, a man who, because of an overdeveloped ego and sense of self that borders of narcissism, claims that he had an election stolen from him through massive fraud. That this man is the current holder of the Office of President of the United States only magnifies the significance of what took place in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC from a simple protest to an attempted insurrection as a precursor to a coup d’état.

The fomenting of what was witnessed this morning began many months ago, even before the presidential election. Even then, the current United States president started laying before his supporters the possibility of massive electoral fraud. Was he aware of the potential for the election to not be winnable for him? essentially asserting that he would not lose the election and that his opponents would only appear to win through rigging or stealing the election from him.

Almost immediately once the polls had closed on the first Tuesday of November 2020, the United States’ current President started propagating further claims of fraud. He provided no proof or evidence to support the claims, but the claims were made nevertheless, and increasingly so by both the current President and his supporters.

Lawsuits seeking to overturn election results filed by the current President’s campaign team were dismissed out of hand in every case for lack of any evidence. State after State certified ballots’ results in their jurisdictions and qualifying the results as free, fair and accurate. And those who approved those results or dismissed lawsuits came from right across the broad political spectrum that makes up the United States.

The Electoral College, that strange beast that is at the heart of electing a President and Vice-President, met, cast their ballots, and had them certified as required by law. But that did not stop the current President from attempting to change the results at the last minute through intimidation, coercion, unsubstantiated rumour, or frivolous lawsuit. The current President maintained that he won the election and that the radical left had stolen it from him through massive fraud, a claim that remains unevidenced.

Today, the 6th day of January 2021, the Congress of the United States meets in what is supposed to be a ceremonial sitting to certify the results of the Electoral College.

Today, the current President of the same United States attended a rally of supporters at which he once again repeated the unsubstantiated claims that the election had been stolen from him – and from his supporters – by the  “radical left Democrats” and the “failing mainstream media”.

It was what the current President’s supporters wanted to hear. And hearing their hero, their demagogue, encouraging them never to surrender, they did what he wanted them to do – despite his protestations to the contrary – and attempt to overthrow the constitutional order of the United States.

Review: Finding Grace at the Center: The Beginning of Centering Prayer

Finding Grace at the Center: The Beginning of Centering PrayerFinding Grace at the Center: The Beginning of Centering Prayer by M. Basil Pennington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third edition of this little volume of essays that focus on the practice and history of the ‘Centering Prayer’ that sprang to life in the late 1970s among various monastic and religious communities in the United States of America.

Yet the ‘Centering Prayer’ was not something new or innovative but rather a journeying back to the more ancient practices of the Church. In journeying back to these early sources, those responsible for recapturing this spiritual practice were giving life to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council for returning to those sources to renew and invigorate the life of the Church in the current epoch. The reclaiming of these sources, as one of the essays points out, provides an ‘antidote’ to much of what happened in the 13th and 14th centuries concerning the misunderstanding and suspicion of “contemplative prayer” and a favouring of “mental prayer”.

While those seeking to embrace the practice of ‘Centering Prayer’ will not find too much in this book to assist in starting that journey, there is enough to whet the appetite and encourage the seeker to continue the journey. For the practitioner who is already praying with this method, this volume will help provide some background to the method while also providing guidance to more resources to help deepen both their practice and their understanding.

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Homilies: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, Year B

My homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Year B) as preached during the 9.30 am Mass from Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton.

The readings proclaimed were Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12.

“For the world in which we live, Christmas may be over. For faithful Christians, however, Christmas can never be over. We are called to journey each and every day as Christmas people, bearing witness to the truth of ‘God-with-us’, proclaiming what have come to know to others – just like the Magi who journeyed to find that which they sought, and then journeyed back to their own countries filled with joy and wisdom.”

Homilies: Feast of the Holy Family, Year B

My homily for the Feast of the Holy Family (Year B) as preached during the 9.30 am Mass from Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton.

The readings proclaimed were Genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-3; Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Luke 2:22-40.

“Faith is a powerful thing, and it is the family that is the social construct that allows faith to take root in our hearts and be passed on from generation to generation. Like the Holy Family, we are called to live a life of faith in relationship with our family – in whatever way that is constructed – and to pass our experience of faith on to the next generation and to the world.”

Homilies: 4th Sunday of Advent, Year B

My homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent (Year B) as preached during the 5.30 pm Saturday Evening Mass from Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton.

The readings proclaimed were 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38.

“The angel’s message to Mary is not just a revelation about what God will do, but combined with Mary’s simple ‘yes’ it becomes the moment when God is joined with human flesh in the body of Mary, as the Eternal Word takes on human form in her womb.”