Category: Homilies

Theology Uncapped: A Real Presence Radio Interview with Pastor Kowitz

Theology Uncapped

The Virgin Mary

Thursday, April 26th at 6:30 PM

St. Benedict Catholic Church

1419 St. Benedict Street

Duluth, MN  55811

 

 

 

 

Here is the live interview on Real Presence Radio with Father Rich, co-host, Father Moravitz, and the pastor of United Lutheran Church in Proctor, Peter Kowitz.  They will be talking about the third and final Theology Uncapped presentation for this year, to be held April 26th, 6:30 PM,  at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church.  The previous two sessions were so well received, as this one is expected to be, that there’s talk of another series for next year. You must pre-register to participate (link available below).

The interview with Pastor Kowitz begins at about the 23 minute mark:

 

 

Here is the link to register:

https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/m?oeidk=a07ef4mqaopdc3a4fdd&oseq=&c=&ch=

You must  RSVP,  because space is limited, and there is a cost, which includes a catered meal and beverage of wine, beer, or pop.

The cost is $20 per person, and it will fill up.

My hope is that it will fill up with parishioners from our parishes. These are rare opportunities to hear  conversations between a Catholic priest and a Lutheran minister about our different faith traditions.

Our Spring topic  will be the “Virgin Mary.”

—Fr. Rich

Here is some information about the organization, Theology Uncapped:

Theology Uncapped

 

Theology Uncapped is a Catholic group with a dedicated goal of bringing people closer together through educational discussions centered around faith-based topics.
We hold three events a year that are open to men and women of all faiths.  Each event includes an informative speaker(s) that will discuss a topic of faith from differing points of view. A catered meal is included to help facilitate fellowship and hopefully foster new relationships among those that may have opposing viewpoints.
Seating for each event is limited, so registration is required and can be completed through this site. We look forward to seeing you at a future event.
Further Information Needed?  Contact  Deacon John Foucault:

 

 

A Message from Father Rich about Holy Week

Relic of the True Cross of Christ belonging to Pope Clement XI

Reiquary of the True Cross

Reiquary of the True Cross of Christ

 

Father Rich

 

 If You Skip Holy Week Liturgies, You’re Truly Missing Out

For a long time I referred to Easter Monday (the day after Easter) as my favorite day of the whole year.  When asked why, my tongue-in-cheek answer was always, “Because it is the farthest away from Holy Week.”

At the risk of sound scandalous I used to say that all the time because I was so stressed by the Holy Week schedule.  The Catholic liturgy for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil is a very different animal from all the other liturgies of the year, and for a long time I really had to re-learn what the heck I was doing for these important days of commemoration.

Now that I have several years under my belt, I have gotten to the point where I really get into Holy Week and the Triduum celebrations.  They really are the most beautiful thing the Catholic Church does in its liturgy, and if you don’t normally make it a habit to go to your parish for these days, you are truly missing out.

Holy Week has been known by other names throughout history.  It has been called “Major Week,” “Greater Week,” “Passion Week,” “Paschal Week,” “Authentic Week” and also “Painful Week.”  All of them are accurate titles, but “Holy Week” captures them all.

As can be figured by the name, it is the holiest time of the year for all Christians, and for the Catholic Church the three days of the Triduum (which literally means “three days”) act as one single liturgy.

This is why at the end of the Holy Thursday Mass there is no final blessing and dismissal and why Good Friday is technically not a Mass but a threefold liturgy of the Word, Adoration of the Cross and Eucharist, again with no dismissal.

And then of course the supreme day and liturgy is the Easter Vigil, taking place after dark, the day on which new members are added to the church by baptism and confirmations.

Interestingly the early church believed that the second coming of Christ would happen on the evening of the Easter Vigil, and who knows?  It could still happen.

One of the “apologetics”-type questions I have been asked over the years has to do with the three days Christ was in the tomb.

The questioner will ask, “How do we figure it to be three days when we commemorate his death on Friday and then on Saturday night we celebrate his resurrection?  It seems more like 30 hours than it does three days.”

Liturgically speaking, the Catholic Church has adopted the ancient Jewish concept of the day.  According to the Jewish concept, a day does not start at midnight, it starts at sundown.  This is why since the second Vatican Council we have had vigil Masses on Saturday evenings that count for the Sunday Mass.  Ask any old-timers and they will tell you there was no such thing as a Saturday evening Mass when they were growing up.

So going back to the three days Christ spent in the tomb, he was buried on Good Friday soon after he died, he remained in the tomb Saturday, and after sundown on Saturday it was officially Sunday, the first day of the week.  This accounts for the three days and for why the Easter Vigil starts late, to make time for the third day and allow for the darkness, which is washed away by the light of the Paschal Candle and individual candles that we each hold during this most solemn celebration.

Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday, which is April 9th  this year.  I always try to cajole you,  my parishioners,  to go to as many of the Holy Week liturgies as  possible.  

As I mentioned above, if you don’t traditionally make it a habit of taking advantage of Holy Week, you really do not know what you are missing.  Easter has so much greater meaning for us personally when we do Holy Week right.

Come to our  parishes  and enter into these beautiful celebrations that have no parallel.  I do not think you will regret it.  —Father Rich

 

A Commentary about the Relic of the True Cross, from the Papal Artifacts’ Collection:

The spirituality of the Popes, just like the rest of us, will take different forms. And some Popes have been really engrossed in things, such as relics. And this artifact is a relic of the True Cross of Christ owned by Pope Clement XI. He was Pope from 1700-1721, just to give you an idea of the time we are referring to.

Of course there are a lot of spurious relics of the True Cross out there. But I’m totally convinced that St. Helena brought back the original true cross. The mother of Constantine traveled to the Holy Land and found the True Cross, and she brought it back to Rome. However, over time, a lot of people have produced fake relics of the cross and pawned them off as real.

The best bet we have of authenticating this one, as a relic of the true cross, is that it was actually owned by the Pope, and he actually prayed with it.

And so what we have here is a relic of the true cross. It’s in a silver case, a very nice silver case. On one side it says, in Latin, “Lignum S. S. Crucis”, meaning it is a portion of the True Cross.

On the other side it has an image of the Pope’s coat of arms, and the date, 1703. And then when you open it up, there is a beautiful crystal cross that is sewn together with gold threading and small slivers of the cross are on the inside.

It’s just a beautiful item. And the fact that it was owned by one of the Holy Fathers makes it quite unique as well.

The fact is that this relic is so sacred and important to our spirituality and to who we are as Christians. It makes me not want to leave it in a box somewhere, so I have often used it for catechesis.

I keep this close to myself to use for my own prayer life. It’s a way of having that connection to Christ crucified. Obviously, but also, it’s another way of being connected to a pope who was also praying with it.

So it’s a very unique piece that I personally used in my own spirituality, and it is one of these humbling things to have one of these.

If there’s a relic of the True Cross that’s authentic, then this one is with the highest level of certitude, because the Pope owned it. It’s a very beautiful item and very precious.

The Vatican is the organization that has the care of the true cross that came from St. Helen, mother of Constantine, in the 4th century. So the Vatican always had a portion of the true cross.

The fact that this was owned by the Pope with the reliquary in his own personal possession lends credence to the authenticity of this item. — Father Rich

 

 

 

July 24: The Feast of St. Charbel, & Fr. Rich’s Commentary

Saint Charbel Makhlouf

Saint Charbel Makhlouf

St. Charbel, A Role Model About Preparation for Eucharist

When Pope John Paul the Great was criticized for canonizing so many saints, he acknowledged that he did, indeed, deliberately raise more saints to the altar than any of his predecessors, because he believed we are living in a time that needs saints as witnesses more than ever.  There have been books written about the people he canonized and beatified, and it is quite refreshing to read about many of them, because we can identify with people from our own era who lived a heroic faith life. 

As much as I like hagiography, the study of the saints, I have to admit that many of them, living in a different era, seem to be a bit untouchable, or even unreal.  In many cases they became “kitsch,” entering so much into the piety of worldwide Catholicism that they became little more than statues.  I am reminded of St. Therese of Lisieux who has rightly been called the greatest saint of modern times.  Her statue seems to be in a majority of churches, but I’d like to know how many people in the pews actually know anything about her life. 

I very much enjoy reading about those who lived seemingly normal yet holy lives.  They were simply examples of the Gospel, lived.  However, we can also learn something from the “untouchable” saints, those who for whatever reason seem otherworldly to us.  In the month of July we have one such saint.  On October 9th, 1977, Pope Paul VI canonized a Lebanese Maronite Rite monk, Charbel (or Sharbel)) Makhlouf.  While very few saints are honored with a place on the universal liturgical calendar, St. Charbel is one who is so revered that he does, indeed, have a feast day, which we celebrate on July 24th.

St. Charbel was born in 1828 in Northern Lebanon.  In 1859 he became a priest with particularly strong devotions, both to the Blessed Mother and even more so for the Eucharist.  For the last decades of his life, he was a hermit, living in the mountains in complete poverty. This austere behavior is one of the reasons he seems to be untouchable: how many of us can identify with a Lebanese Maronite monk, living in complete solitude, eating hardly anything, and all the while performing miracles?  Probably not many of us.  Yet it is St. Charbel’s prayer practice that makes him even more unique, while at the same time giving us an incredibly relevant example.

St. Charbel’s life was centered on the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass, and this devotion intensified in his last twenty years.  He would regularly celebrate Mass at noon, but he would awaken eight to ten hours beforehand to pray continuously in preparation for receiving Christ in the Eucharist.  Imagine!  Ten hours of prayer in preparation to receive Communion!    But it doesn’t end there.  Afterwards, he would spend another eight to ten hours in a prayer of thanksgiving for having received the Eucharist! 

The Eucharist was literally the center of his life, and everything else revolved around it.  This seems to add to his otherworldly status; who among us could do something like that, day in and day out for decades?  Who among us would want to?  And yet, what a beautiful example!

Reflecting on the life of St. Charbel calls to mind a common frustration among my brother priests and me.  On a regular basis, many people come into Mass late.   Often they are so late they miss one or two of the readings.  It is even more common for whole portions of the church to be empty after communion.  While we are happy that these people at least come to Mass, think of the contrast between our experience and that of St. Charbel, who would spend hours in prayer both before and after receiving communion. 

We would never go to a movie late, or leave before the story was over.  Why in the world, then, would we do that with the Divine Liturgy where heaven and earth meet?

St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori (1696-1787), born 130 years before St. Charbel, believed that if we didn’t receive our first communion until we turned 100, we would still not have sufficient time to prepare.  At another time, he said that once we receive communion, twelve angels surround us, worshiping what we just consumed.  Obviously, that is not dogma, but it is food for thought if we are tempted to leave Mass early.

The saints are always icons of having lived the Gospels, including those who seem to be so different from us.  St. Charbel is a great example of this.  I pray to him that through his intercession more people will grow in awe and reverence for Christ’s Eucharistic presence.  —Father Rich

St. Charbel, pray for us!

Blessed Pope Paul VI canonized Charbel Makhluf on October 9, 1977.

Copyright Image

Here is a link to the official website of Saint Sharbel Makhluf whose feast day is July 24th:

http://www.saintcharbel-annaya.com/

The Octave of Easter is an 8 Day Feast–“Frozen Time”

 

 easter banner image

Easter is more than one day–it’s like a period of frozen time, followed by an entire season of the Church year that begins with the Easter Octave.  The gospel readings during this time include some of the most beautiful passages of scripture from the time after Jesus’ resurrection and his first encounters with his friends and disciples.  These readings remind us of the importance of his resurrection and the power of his ministry here on earth.  Jesus appeared to these friends that they might continue to share the Good News in word and deed with everyone they would meet.

It is one of two periods of Solemnity with an Octave Feast, the other being Christmas and its  time after.   It truly is a way of prolonging the joy of Easter, treating every day of the Octave like a little Sunday.  You’ll  notice the paschal candle, a central symbol  of divine light,  is lit at every liturgy throughout Easter Time.

And, of course, the priest’s chasuble has gone from mainly purple, a symbol of penance, sacrifice and preparation,  to white, a symbol of rejoicing and purity.

Enjoy this period of “frozen time”.  Happy Easter!

 

 

A Message from Fr. Rich about Holy Week

Relic of the True Cross of Christ belonging to Pope Clement XI

Relic of the True Cross of Christ belonging to Pope Clement XI

Reiquary of the True Cross

Reliquary of the True Cross

Reiquary of the True Cross of Christ

Reliquary of the True Cross of Christ

Holy Week: If You Skip It, You’re truly Missing Out

 For a long time I referred to Easter Monday (the day after Easter) as my favorite day of the whole year.  When asked why, my tongue-in-cheek answer was always, “Because it is the farthest away from Holy Week.”

At the risk of sound scandalous I used to say that all the time because I was so stressed by the Holy Week schedule.  The Catholic liturgy for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil is a very different animal from all the other liturgies of the year, and for a long time I really had to re-learn what the heck I was doing for these important days of commemoration.

Now that I have several years under my belt, I have gotten to the point where I really get into Holy Week and the Triduum celebrations.  They really are the most beautiful thing the Catholic Church does in its liturgy, and if you don’t normally make it a habit to go to your parish for these days, you are truly missing out.

Holy Week has been known by other names throughout history.  It has been called “Major Week,” “Greater Week,” “Passion Week,” “Paschal Week,” “Authentic Week” and also “Painful Week.”  All of them are accurate titles, but “Holy Week” captures them all.

As can be figured by the name, it is the holiest time of the year for all Christians, and for the Catholic Church the three days of the Triduum (which literally means “three days”) act as one single liturgy.

This is why at the end of the Holy Thursday Mass there is no final blessing and dismissal and why Good Friday is technically not a Mass but a threefold liturgy of the Word, Adoration of the Cross and Eucharist, again with no dismissal.

And then of course the supreme day and liturgy is the Easter Vigil, taking place after dark, the day on which new members are added to the church by baptism and confirmations.

Interestingly the early church believed that the second coming of Christ would happen on the evening of the Easter Vigil, and who knows?  It could still happen.

One of the “apologetics”-type questions I have been asked over the years has to do with the three days Christ was in the tomb.

The questioner will ask, “How do we figure it to be three days when we commemorate his death on Friday and then on Saturday night we celebrate his resurrection?  It seems more like 30 hours than it does three days.”

Liturgically speaking, the Catholic Church has adopted the ancient Jewish concept of the day.  According to the Jewish concept, a day does not start at midnight, it starts at sundown.  This is why since the second Vatican Council we have had vigil Masses on Saturday evenings that count for the Sunday Mass.  Ask any old-timers and they will tell you there was no such thing as a Saturday evening Mass when they were growing up.

So going back to the three days Christ spent in the tomb, he was buried on Good Friday soon after he died, he remained in the tomb Saturday, and after sundown on Saturday it was officially Sunday, the first day of the week.  This accounts for the three days and for why the Easter Vigil starts late, to make time for the third day and allow for the darkness, which is washed away by the light of the Paschal Candle and individual candles that we each hold during this most solemn celebration.

Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday, which is March 20 this year.  I always try to cajole my own parishioners to go to as many of the Holy Week liturgies as is possible.  And here I do the same for you, the reader.

As I mentioned above, if you don’t traditionally make it a habit of taking advantage of Holy Week, you really do not know what you are missing.  Easter has so much greater meaning for us personally when we do Holy Week right.

Go to your parish and enter into these beautiful celebrations that have no parallel.  I do not think you will regret it.

About the Relic of the True Cross Featured:
Many of you are probably aware that Father has hosted two seasons of an EWTN special, The Papacy, A Living History: The Papal Artifacts’ Collection of Father Richard Kunst.  The commentary included here is a transcript of one of the episodes and offers information on one of the most beautiful artifacts in his Collection, the one featured here.  Earlier this week, Father did a Monday morning class on relics and their importance in Catholic life.  That transcript is also included in The Latest News (“Monday Morning Bible Study with Father Rich”)

fatherIn this series on the papacy we’ve talked a lot about spirituality and the Eucharist and about these Popes always focusing back to the Eucharist, but you know what Imean, the spirituality of the Popes, just like the rest of us, will take different forms. And some Popes have been really engrossed in things, such as relics. And this artifact is a relic of the True Cross of Christ owned by Pope Clement XI. He was Pope from 1700-1721, just to give you an idea of the time we are referring to.

Of course there are a lot of spurious relics of the True Cross out there. But I’m totally convinced that St. Helena brought back the original true cross. The mother of Constantine traveled to the Holy Land and found the True Cross, and she brought it back to Rome. However, over time, a lot of people have produced fake relics of the cross and pawned them off as real.

The best bet we have of authenticating this one, as a relic of the true cross, is that it was actually owned by the Pope, and he actually prayed with it.

And so what we have here is a relic of the true cross. It’s in a silver case, a very nice silver case. On one side it says, in Latin, “Lignum S. S. Crucis”, meaning it is a portion of the True Cross.

On the other side it has an image of the Pope’s coat of arms, and the date, 1703. And then when you open it up, there is a beautiful crystal cross that is sewn together with gold threading and small slivers of the cross are on the inside.

It’s just a beautiful item. And the fact that it was owned by one of the Holy Fathers makes it quite unique as well.

The fact is that this relic is so sacred and important to our spirituality and to who we are as Christians. It makes me not want to leave it in a box somewhere, so I have often used it for catechesis.

I keep this close to myself to use for my own prayer life. It’s a way of having that connection to Christ crucified. Obviously, but also, it’s another way of being connected to a pope who was also praying with it.

So it’s a very unique piece that I personally used in my own spirituality, and it is one of these humbling things to have one of these.

If there’s a relic of the True Cross that’s authentic, then this one is with the highest level of certitude, because the Pope owned it. It’s a very beautiful item and very precious.

The Vatican is the organization that has the care of the true cross that came from St. Helen, mother of Constantine, in the 4th century. So the Vatican always had a portion of the true cross.

The fact that this was owned by the Pope with the reliquary in his own personal possession lends credence to the authenticity of this item. — Father Rich