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New Parish Mission Talks: Homecoming

At the Homecoming event at St Mary's (with Fr. Tom Lynch)

At the Homecoming event at St Mary’s (with Fr. Tom Lynch)

We all have loved ones who have left the Catholic Church.

They are our children. Our grandchildren. Siblings and other relatives. Friends, neighbours and coworkers. Our hearts break for them as they brave the wilderness of life, outside the hearth and home of the Catholic Church.

How do we bring them home? And why did they leave in the first place?

Understanding the answer your loved one gives to that last question is just as important as the first — if we don’t grasp the real reasons people leave the Church, we’ll never be effective in our attempts to help them home.

This is the subject of my band-new parish mission event called Homecoming: How to Bring Family and Friends Home to the Catholic Church.
I just returned from giving this Mission for the first time at one of Canada’s most beautiful and historic parishes, Saint Mary’s Church in Lindsay, Ontario. I’ll be hitting the road again very soon to give it again at two more parishes this spring. And now, you can schedule this event at your parish. Just contact me and we’ll get the ball rolling. I expect that available dates will fill up quickly, so don’t wait — the eternal souls of your loved ones are worth every effort we can make to help them. And I’m confident that what you’ll learn from these presentations will help.

I look forward to connecting with you, and speaking for your parish or group!

Change of Location for The Faith Explained Conference on Saturday, Sept 12

 

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Due to the popularity of The Faith Explained Conference: Unlocking the Book of Revelation this Saturday, Sept 12, we have moved the conference to a larger venue. It will now be held at St Joseph’s Secondary School, 5555 Creditview Rd, Mississauga, Ontario, L5V 2B9 (nearest intersection: Creditview & Bristol).

Start and end times remain the same (10:00 pm – 4:30 pm). Lunches are available for purchase for $8 upon registration, or bring your own.

You can register here.

We look forward to seeing you and your friends on Saturday!

 

 

Craig Evans Responds to Bart Ehrman: How God Became Jesus

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Don’t miss Dr Craig Evans live at The Faith Explained Conference on September 27. Cardinal Thomas Collins will also speak, so grab your tickets here while you still can! Check out Dr Evans’ response to Bart Ehrman in this YouTube clip.

Cardinal Collins to speak at The Faith Explained Conference Sept 27

Thomas Cardinal Collins will headline The Faith Explained Conference on Sept 27, along with Dr. Craig Evans. Get your tickets right here:

Cardinal Collins is a phenomenal speaker with a rare gift for opening the Scriptures. Check out this clip from the Cardinal’s phenomenal Lectio Devina series on the Gospel of Mark below. See you on Sept 27!

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Pope Francis’ Inauguration Homily

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HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
INAUGURATION OF THE PETRINE MINISTRY
ST PETER’S SQUARE
19 MARCH 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.

I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.

In the Gospel we heard that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: “Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model” (Redemptoris Custos, 1).

How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!

In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, “hoping against hope, believed” (Rom 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.

To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!

I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.

This Sunday’s Gospel: The Woman Caught in Adultery

images-1In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear the account of the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. In my Bible, there is a textual note that explains that the earliest manuscripts of John that have been discovered do not contain this pericope. Does that mean that it didn’t actually happen?

No. The fact that early manuscripts may not have contained the account does not mean that it didn’t occur in the career of Jesus. The incident is certainly in keeping with what we know of the person and character of Jesus (not to mention that of his opponents). Besides, it is the final form of the texts that were canonized as Scripture, not the texts in their various stages of development.

First, Jesus is presented with a difficult dilemma. “Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?’ They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him.”

The utter hypocrisy (a sin Jesus has accused them of many times) of the scribes and Pharisees is obvious. If this woman was literally “caught in the act” of adultery, there is a very good chance that they themselves had known about the affair beforehand. Presumably, they may have been able to stop her – to reason with her, that she should stop this gravely sinful activity. If they had truly been concerned for the woman’s soul, they would have. Instead, they wait and spring a trap for her, so that they can use her as bait to ensnare Jesus. There is also the chilling possibility they themselves “set up” the whole illicit affair in the first place. Plus, where is the guilty male party? Why wan’t he “brought in for questioning”, too? At any rate, Jesus’ accusers are far from free of sin themselves.

The reason why this is dangerous for Jesus is this: if Jesus says, “Let her go”, he would be considered a lawbreaker, and therefore could not in fact be the Messiah. The Mosaic Law did indeed indicate that the woman ought to have been killed (cf. Lev. 20:10, Deut 22:22). On the other hand, if Jesus doesn’t forgive her, and agrees with the death penalty in her case, what of his reputation for mercy?

Let me interrupt you for a moment. What was Jesus writing with his finger on the ground?

Many commentators have proffered theories on this. Some say he was writing out the Ten Commandments; others believe he was spelling out the personal sins of the accusers. All of this might make for good preaching, but the truth is, no one knows. Interestingly, this is the only time the New Testament mentions Jesus writing.

In any case, Jesus’ reply is brilliant. “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Only the Sinless One – Jesus himself – can be her judge. All of the accusers drop their weapons of stone and go home, beginning with the eldest (who, because of their life experience and wisdom, realized first the truth of Jesus’ words). Yet Jesus does not “paper over” or excuse the woman’s grave, sinful behavior. He forgives, but his is not a cheap grace. “Go and sin no more”. Reform your life. Convert. This is what Lent is all about.

Book a Faith Explained Seminar with Cale Clarke!

I’m now booking more seminars for the U.S., Canada, and overseas explaining the new Mass translation. Or, you can choose one of the many other topics available. Simply use the “Contact” page here to send us a message and get the process started. Our calendar is filling up quickly, so book now to avoid disappointment. End of infomercial!

The Year of The Priest Seminar

A new seminar I’m offering in this “Year of the Priest” in the Catholic Church is called “The Priesthood Explained: Understanding Father’s Priesthood – and Yours”. To whet your appetite, here’s an article I wrote on the subject for Catholic Insight magazine.

The Priesthood(s) Jesus Gave Us by Cale Clarke

A Catholic must, in the words of our first pope, “always be ready with an answer for anyone who asks you” (1 Peter 3:15) about the faith. And especially in this Year of the Priest, queries about the Catholic priesthood abound.

A fundamental question we are often asked is about the origin of the Catholic ministerial priesthood itself. Many doubt that Jesus meant to establish it. In fact, many see the priesthood as a later “invention” of the Church, a “Catholic accretion” to the gospel that must be done away with.

Speaking of 1 Peter, one major argument against the Catholic priesthood is found in 1 Peter 2:5, where all Christians are dubbed “a royal priesthood, a holy nation”. According to this text, the argument goes, since all believers are priests, a separate ministerial priesthood – the Catholic priesthood – is no longer necessary. We can return to the situation of Old Testament Israel, where all Israel was “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6). At the dawn of the Protestant revolution, Martin Luther made heavy use of the “priesthood of all believers” doctrine, as he understood it, to persuade people that they could in good conscience leave the Church of Rome.

This idea is only half true. All believers are, indeed priests. On this, the Catholic Church agrees with Peter, naturally! But that does not mean that we don’t need a separate ministerial priesthood – and, ironically, appealing to the case of Israel only strengthens the Catholic case.

As Fr. Mario Romero points out in his book Unabridged Christianity, the structure of Catholic priesthood in the New Covenant strikingly parallels that of the Old: there are three different types in each.

1. The High Priesthood. In the Old Covenant (cf. Lev. 16), The high priest was designated to enter the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem temple and atone for the transgressions of the people on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). In the New Covenant, Jesus Christ, our eternal High Priest, offers the one perfect sacrifice of himself in the true Holy of Holies (cf. Hebrews 7).

2. The Ordained, Ministerial Priesthood. Old Covenant Israel, of course, had the Levites as priests (Exodus 29 ff), who ministered on behalf of the other tribes. Some may say, “That was God’s response to the golden calf debacle, when only the Levites kept faith – prior to this, there was no unique priestly group. It is to this original state of Israel that God is calling us back to in the New Covenant”. This view fails to realize that, even prior to the establishment of the Levitical priesthood, there was already a separate priesthood (cf. Exodus 19:21,22).

The New Covenant also features an ordained, ministerial priesthood which ministers on behalf of God’s people. An oft-overlooked text that verifies this is Acts 1, when Matthias is chosen by lot to replace Judas in the apostolic band. Far from a game of chance, drawing lots is how priests were chosen for tasks in the temple (see Luke 1:9). Luke mentions this at the start of his second volume to link the new priesthood in the new temple (the Church) with the account of Zechariah’s Old Covenant priesthood in Luke 1.

Of course, there are also the stock texts one might turn to in support of a ministerial priesthood in the Church. In Romans 15:15-16, Saint Paul speaks of his “priestly service of the gospel”. The New Testament is replete with the ordinations of “presbyters” throughout – a Greek word that is translated into English as “priest” (eg. Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5).

3. The Universal Priesthood. This priesthood was shared by all Jews in the Old Covenant. It consisted of offering spiritual sacrifices to God. A similar universal, or “catholic” priesthood is conferred on all New Covenant believers at baptism, by which the believer shares in Christ’s threefold office of priest, prophet, and king (CCC 1268). All should offer the totality of their very lives (Romans 12:1) as their priestly offering to God – including their work and social lives, not simply their public and private worship. In both covenants, the ordained, ministerial priesthood is culled from the ranks of the universal priesthood.
This is the real “priesthood of all believers”. Contrary views must, sooner or later, be sacrificed on the altar of truth.