Deacon Pat's Books

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Kevin Kearns Funeral Homily 01.20.2023

 

Kevin Kearns Homily – Deacon Pat Kearns (Funeral Mass 01/20/2023) 

Kevin was quite the man, remarkable in many different ways. He was smart, creative, kind, giving, and yes at times stubborn and onery. He was also a fighter and a man of faith. We were quite surprised many years ago when he was diagnosed with advanced stage 4 cancer. He was only given a 50/50 chance to live. He fought, receive great medical care, and won the battle. He eventually went into remission and after so many years was deemed completely healed, cured. He did have some residual side effects from the drugs and radiation, he became hard of hearing, but he wouldn’t admit it. 😊 
Just like how he would never admit he was color blind. Remember some of the outfits he would wear? He swore those colors matched. 😊 

But seriously, having cancer changed his life greatly. After his recover he saw life much differently. He knew that life could end at any time and unexpectedly. If you ever asked him how he was doing, he would always say “Blessed.” He truly saw his life that way. He embraced life and was thankful for the life he had. He also shared his blessing with others. Most might not know but years ago he created a charitable organization that he named “Hope Floats.” He used the organization to sponsor teachers in poor areas of Africa and Guatemala. He also helped with the funding of cancer and diabetes research, and did so much more, too much to list. He was always looking for ways to help those in need, especially children. Maybe that was his way of being fatherly since he had never married. And speaking of fatherly, after our father suddenly died at the age of 65, Kevin naturally and effortlessly took over the role as the patriarch of the family. He watched over his younger 5 brothers, their lives, their families, and was always eager to help if help was needed. He also had a family-related dream. For many years he dreamed that one day he would buy a large piece of property and that all the brothers and their wives could live by each other and share in each other’s daily lives. He loved his brothers more than anything. Well, a little more than a year ago, Kevin did acquire a large horse ranch in South Carolina. He then moved to the ranch and became a South Carolina resident. My brother Tim and his wife Angela followed. And two of the other brothers were beginning to make plans to join them in the near future. His dream was becoming a reality. I had never seen Kevin happier than when he was on the ranch or with his horses. He especially enjoyed driving the tractors, riding the horses, puttering around the ranch on his Kubota Mule, or exploring the forest on one of the quads. In a small way we might say he was already experiencing a bit of Heaven on earth. + 

When we reminisce about the life of a loved one, especially so near to their time of passing, and if they go suddenly as in Kevin’s case, one can’t help but feel a sense of sadness and sorrow. We are united today in our sadness and sorrow at the death of Kevin Kearns. The reality of death, with all its pain and sense of loss, confronts us at this moment. But as we are united in sorrow, we Christians are also united by something else... our Faith. Confronted with the reality of death, we must allow ourselves to be confronted with the reality of our Faith. The reality... not a "maybe" or "I hope so" or fantasy or wishful thinking, but a reality. Our Faith opens our minds to the whole picture about life, death, and what happens after death. Only in the light of our Faith can we begin to understand what has happened to Kevin and how we are to keep going from here. When in our Faith we speak about heaven, and resurrection, and the next life, we do not speak about these things primarily because they give us consolation and strength. They certainly do that, but the primary reason we speak of these things is because they are True. God has spoken His Word to us; we hear it in the Scriptures and in the teachings of our Church, and we respond to it by saying, "Yes, I believe; it is true!" God has broken the silence about death, and told us that He has conquered it! Death was not part of God's original plan; it came into the world because of sin. Death is not from God; death is from turning away from God. Yet God did not leave us in death's power. He sent Christ, who died and rose again and conquered death! God has spoken to the world through Christ, and told us that He wants to give us victory over death in and through Jesus Christ! Because of this, a Christian is not silent in the face of death! Many people, on coming to a wake or funeral, do not know what to say! Death seems to have the last word. But we who believe are not silent. We speak! Christ is risen! Death has been conquered! Many people think that the story of human life is, "Birth, life, and death." For a Christian, it's different. The story is not "Birth, life, and death," but rather, "Life, death, and Resurrection!" Death does not have the last word; life does! Death is not the last period after the last sentence of the last chapter of the human story. There's another chapter to come! Death is not the end of the human story; it's the middle. The end of the story is Resurrection and life that has no end! The farewell that we give to Kevin today is a temporary farewell; the burial we give Kevin is a temporary burial. He will live! He will rise! 

The ceremony today contains many reminders of this, and it points us to the fact that Kevin was baptized. We sprinkled the (remains) with holy water at the beginning of the ceremony... This recalls the waters of baptism that were once poured on Kevin. The white funeral pall is a reminder of the white garment placed on the newly-baptized... a sign of the new life of Christ given to the Christian. This candle is the Easter candle; it is present at every baptism, and symbolizes the Risen Christ. When Kevin was baptized right here in this church, the life of the Risen Christ was poured into his soul! He began to share, here on earth, the life of heaven! At baptism, God rescued Kevin from the power of death; He literally snatched him from the dominion of death and transferred him into the Kingdom of Christ -- a kingdom of eternal life. Christ said to Kevin on that day, "You do not belong to death! You belong to me!" Therefore, a Christian does not merely die. A Christian dies in Christ. Those two words, "in Christ," make all the difference in the world! We belong to Him by baptism, and we live in Him by a life of prayer, obedience to His teachings, and faithfulness to the Sacraments of the Church. If we live in Christ and die in Christ, we will rise in Christ! In the midst of all this, should we grieve? Yes, brothers and sisters, it is OK to grieve; it is natural, because we love Kevin. Even Christ wept when His friend Lazarus died... and He wept even though He was about to bring Him back to life! Yes, we as Christians grieve. But we grieve with hope. It is OK to be sad today that we do not see Kevin anymore, but it would be wrong to think we will never see him again. It is OK to grieve, but it is wrong to despair. Christ is alive! We pray today for Kevin that he may complete the journey to heaven. Pray for him every day, and for yourselves. Look at him today and say with faith, "Kevin, you do not belong to death. You belong to Christ, and so do we!" Amen.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Year A – 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time

 


Year A – 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time 
Homily written by Father Craig M. McMahon, O.S.A. 

Readings Is 8:23 – 9:3 Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17 Mt 4:12-23 

The truth is that the men Jesus called were ordinary. 

We know that four were fishermen and that there would be no reason to call them to live, work, and minister together apart from the purposes of the Kingdom of God. 

 As humans, they were prone to all of the mistakes, faults, failures, and sin inherent in our species. 

How very strange, then, that from a human perspective, the advancement of the Gospel depended upon these imperfect people. 

And, it’s a strategy that God still employs today – ordinary people called forth to serve the Kingdom. 

The only requirement is faith. Always has been; always will be. 

The notion of God’s call is central to the Bible’s understanding of human existence before God. 

 The life of our call begins with Jesus - we don’t ask for it nor can it be manufactured. Jesus’s authority is the source of the call and often it comes unexpectedly and without warning. 

The focal point of the call is to follow after Jesus – follow the person of Christ. Jesus then is leading and out front – disciples both then and now – follow behind, not knowing exactly what lies ahead. 

Strangely enough, for this amazing mission: God wants ordinary broken people, not holier-than-thou ones. 

 Kierkegaard once said that what Jesus wants is followers, not admirers. 

This idea puts the calling of the Disciplines in perspective – because what those twelve lacked in common interests – they more than made up for with faith and a willingness to be challenged and changed by that faith. 

Andrew, Simon, James, and John, those men dared to hope for change, and those men dared to put their faith in Jesus Christ. 

They were some of the first people who followed the Holy Spirit into the unknown, hoping that the future would be different from the past. 

As the world renowned Catholic bible scholar, Fr. Donald Senior C.P. said, both their call and ours is not about a specific function in the church, but more fundamentally it is a call to seek the face of God, and the fullness of life itself. This is the endpoint of the biblical quest: to see the face of God and live. 

So they left their father in the boat, so they dropped their nets and followed, so they agreed to be transformed – their old life gone forever and their new life dedicated to Christ. 

And, in doing so the past gives way to a future story not yet told, the old dies and new life begins – these ordinary people followed. 

 He called them not because they were special, but because they were ordinary. 

 In fact, I can think of nothing more comforting than the reality that God called and calls – people just like us – asking to us to repent and believe for the in-breaking of God’s Reign has begun.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Faith (Luke 17:5-10) 27th Sunday Ordinary time – Deacon Pat

Faith (Luke 17:5-10) 27th Sunday Ordinary time – Deacon Pat

Adapted from a homily by Father Michael Marsh

 

How many of us have said: “If I just had more faith.”

I think most of us have struggled with this at some point in our lives.

We might even have thought:

·       If I just had more faith, I wouldn’t have so many questions or doubts.

·       If I just had more faith, God would answer my prayers.

·       If I just had more faith, he or she would not have died; or he or she would have recovered.

·       If I just had more faith, I would be more involved in the Church.

·       If I just had more faith, I would be a better person, a better parent, a better spouse.

·       If I just had more faith, I would know what to do, I would handle things better. 

·       If I just had more faith, life would be different.

Sound Familiar? 

Maybe to understand this Gospel message more deeply and this concept of faith we need to examine the apostle’s approach to faith.

Jesus has just warned them not to become stumbling blocks to others and enjoined them to forgive as often as an offender repents even if it is seven times in one day.

The Apostles must have thought:

·       This new teaching is too difficult to do and to live that way.

So, they asked, “Jesus, Increase our faith.”

It seems like a reasonable request.

If a little is good, a lot must be better.

If McDonald’s can supersize our fries and drinks surely Jesus can supersize our faith.

This request to increase their faith,

the belief that if they had more faith things would be different,

reveals, at best, a misunderstanding of faith itself and,

at worst, probably demonstrates a fair amount of unfaithfulness.

 

Jesus is very clear that faithfulness is not about size or quantity.

“If you had faith the size of a mustard seed,” he says, “you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

·       Faith is not given to us in a packet to be spent as currency in our dealings with God.

·       Faith is not measured out according to how difficult the task or work before us will be.

·       Faith is not a thing we have or get.

Faith is a relationship of trust and love.

It means opening ourselves to receive another’s life and giving our life to another.

That other is Jesus the Christ.

That one faith-relationship is determinative of who we are and how we live.

·       Faith is not about giving intellectual agreement to a particular doctrine or idea.

·       Faith is not about how much or how strongly we believe Jesus’s words or actions.

When we speak about a married couple’s faithfulness, we do not mean they always believe or agree with each other’s ideas or even a particular understanding of marriage.

·       They are faithful because they have committed themselves to each other in love and trust.

·       They are faithful because they continually give their life to the other and receive the other’s life as their own.

·       They are faithful because they carry with them that one relationship wherever they go, in all that they are, and all that they do.

So true it is also in our faith-relationship with Jesus.

Faith will not, however, change the circumstances of our lives.

Instead, it changes us.

Living in faith does not shield us from the pain and difficulties of life,

it does not undo the past,

and it will not guarantee a particular future.

 

Rather, faith is the means by which we face and deal with the circumstances of life – the difficulties and losses, the joys and successes, the opportunities and possibilities.

Faith does not get us a pat on the back, a reward, or a promotion in God’s eyes.

It is simply the way in which we live and move and have our being so that,

at the end of the day,

the faithful ones can say, without pride or shame,

“We have done only what we ought to have done!”

Nothing more and nothing less.

·       We have lived in openness to, trust in, and love for Christ.

·       We have allowed him to guide our decisions, our words, and our actions.

·       We have been sustained by him in both life and death.

 

Faith, however, is not lived out in the abstract.

It is practiced day after day in the ordinary everyday circumstances.

Some days when the pain and heaviness of life seem more than we can carry it is by faith,

relationship with Jesus,

that we get up each morning and face the reality of life.

Other days present other circumstances.

When we feel the pain of the world and respond with compassion by:

·       feeding the hungry,

·       housing the homeless,

·       speaking for justice;

·       when we experience the brokenness of a relationship and offer forgiveness and mercy;

·       when we see the downtrodden and offer our presence and prayers,

·       and when we help a woman carry her pregnancy to term,

 

 — in all those things we have lived, seen, and acted by faith.

And speaking of acting, we now have a special opportunity to put our faith in action, especially in light of the reversal of Roe versus Wade.

We have an opportunity to help those mothers with a crisis pregnancy who might have previously aborted their child.

So many will now be in need of reassurance, support, friendship, and help.

Thank goodness for the Gabriel Project where volunteers called Gabriel Angels are trained to:

·  be a resource to answer questions about pregnancy, childcare, and parenting,

·       Provide friendship and emotional and spiritual support,

·       Help with items for a new baby,

·       And have knowledge about available community resources.

Maybe God is calling you to become one of these Gabriel Angels, one of their volunteers?

Or maybe you can help in other ways.

Truly this is something worth praying about.

God often creates situations and then waits for us to act. Or not act.

Wasn’t it Padre Pio that once stated the greatest of all sins in the world are sins of omission?

Situations where God was waiting for us to act and we did nothing.

 

So what is our take-away from this special Gospel message today?

Maybe it is that Faith is how we live;

the lens through which we see ourselves, others, and the world;

the criterion by which we act and speak.

Maybe it means that Faithfulness no matter where we go, no matter what circumstances we face we do so in relationship with the One who created, loves, sustains, and redeems us.

Jesus does not supersize our faith.

It is not necessary.

We live by faith not because we have enough faith but because we have faith, any faith, even mustard-seed sized faith.

That is all we need.

Jesus believes that, so should we.

The question is not how much faith we have, but rather, how are we living the faith we do have?

How is our faith, our relationship with Jesus, changing our lives, our relationships, the lives of others?

If it is not, more of the same will surely make no difference.

The mustard seed of faith is already planted within us.

It is Christ himself. 

He has withheld from us nothing.

We already have enough.

We already are enough.

We do not need more faith.

We need more response to the faith, to Christ, to the relationship we already have.

Let us now act upon this faith, starting today, and become a reflection of Christ to the world around us.


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Mary and Martha - Two very different sisters (Year C - 16th Week Ordinary Time)

Homily 16th Week Ordinary Time – Year C – Luke 10:38-42 

Today’s homily is a story of two sisters. Mary and Martha were close friends with and followers of Jesus. Together with their brother Lazarus, they hosted Jesus in their home on more than one occasion. Yet, on one such visit from Jesus, they chose two very different actions, and the way that Jesus reacted to their choices is a very valuable lesson for us today. Let us take a closer look at the details of the story. 

Martha was rushing around, serving and doing her best to make everything good for their beloved guest. And where was Mary when Martha needed a hand? She chose to sit at Jesus’ feet, listening as He spoke. It’s pretty easy to imagine how that made Martha feel. Irritated, frustrated, and resentful. Why should she be doing all the work? Wasn’t it only right for Mary to be helping out? In fact, Martha felt so justified in her indignation that she went and talked to Jesus about it. She said to Him “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.” But, instead of backing her up in her demand, Jesus rebuked her! “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” This must have felt like a slap in the face for Martha. Here she was, doing everything in her power to be hospitable, and Mary just sat there. And to make it worse, that was the right thing to do? (pause) 

It can become so easy for us to get wrapped up in all the things we need to do and the things that need to be accomplished that we lose sight of what the most important thing is. Jesus is asking that we center our day around him, not just squeeze him into our day after we are done with our work. Jesus wants to be part of our entire day from morning until night. When you live your entire day centered around Jesus, even when you have to step into Martha’s kitchen to do some work, you are already experiencing some little bit of heaven here on earth. If you live your entire day from morning until night centered around Jesus, when you die it is the continuation and expansion of what you were already living here on earth. So how do we sit at the feet of Jesus every day? The first thing is obviously to leave Martha’s kitchen, whatever is keeping us too busy to spend some time every day with Jesus.

 • Turn off the TV,
 • Put away the phone,
 • Get off the internet,
 • Pray together as a family or if you can’t,
 • go to your room to pray or to the church? 

 If you want to listen to Jesus, you have to create space in your day for Jesus. A few short, hurried prayers in the morning and at night, and grace before meals, are not really centering our life around Jesus. Jesus is asking that we center our day around him, not just squeeze him into our day after we are done with our work. Of course, you can say prayers, but you can also pray with your heart, sharing your life with the Lord and above all allowing the Lord to speak with you. Receive the love the Lord wants to give you.

 • It might help to read a paragraph from the Bible, especially one of the four Gospels.  You could imagine yourself sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him and conversing with him just like Mary in the Gospel today.
 • Praying for the intercession of Our Lady is also very helpful; she is your mother too.
 • Many have adopted the routine of praying the Angelus at dawn, noon, and dusk to stay connected to God and spiritual world.
 • Praying the rosary in the car instead of listening to the radio.
 • Praying the divine mercy chaplet daily at 3pm.
 • Participating in Novenas
 • Imagining that Jesus is sitting next to you while driving or at home and having a conversation with him about life.
 • Taking a walk with Christ in nature and seeing the beauty that He created.
 • Ending each day with a prayerful examination of conscience, looking for all the ways God has touched your life that day.
 • And routinely using the Sacrament of Reconciliation are all ways that can help use stay connected to Christ. 

Even if your prayer is distracted, the important thing is to give the time to Jesus; he will understand and appreciate your love for him and the time you give him. He said to the apostles in the garden, “Stay here and keep watch with me.” He would also like us to keep watch with Him and sit at his feet listening to Him. (pause) 

Last Sunday in the Gospel (Luke 10:25-37) we heard that to inherit eternal life we have to love God with all our heart, being, strength, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We also learned in the Parable of the Good Samaritan what loving our neighbor as ourselves means. Today when Jesus visits the home of Martha and Mary, we get Jesus’ teaching on loving God (Luke 10:38-42). But Jesus has not yet finished his teaching on loving God, so next Sunday, He will give us further teaching, specifically on prayer (Luke 11:1-13). 

 Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her (Luke 10:41-42). 

 In closing, I have for us a simple yet profound challenge: Let us all learn from Mary, keep our Martha in check, and to choose the better part of life, a life centered on Christ.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Love as I have Loved You - 5th Sunday of Easter (Year C)


Deacon Pat – 5th Sunday of Easter Homily 

 Today, we are reminded of the New Commandment that Christ gave us the day before he suffered. We are brought back to that Last Supper when Jesus was gathered with his closest companions and opened his heart to them. It was the night when his heart overflowed with love as it never had before. It was the night when he revealed the secret identity of every Christian, the distinguishing mark: He said "This is how all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another." And not just any kind of love, but Christ-like love: He added "I give you a new commandment... As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." Being a Christian is much more than being a member of a club. Being a Christian means having an urgent, important mission in life. It means being another Christ in the world. Jesus gave his very life in order to fulfill his Father's will and win salvation for sinners. Each one of us is called to reproduce in the unique circumstances of our lives that exact same pattern: dedicating our lives to discovering and fulfilling God's will and striving to help as many people as possible to know, love, and follow Christ. Yet, if critiqued honestly, how well do you think we are following Christ’s command? 

 Mahatma Gandhi, last century's leader of India's independence movement, received his education in Europe. Although he wasn't Christian, he had many opportunities to study Christianity and get to know Christians. Later in his life, he commented on this experience. He said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." 

And G.K. Chesterton, the famous British convert to Catholicism and great apologist for the faith in the early twentieth century, made a similar statement. He was responding to critics who claimed that since Christianity had been around for so long, but hadn't solved the world's problems, it must be false. Chesterton responded: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." 

These two examples remind us of something we already know: too often, too many Christians are satisfied with a mediocre Christianity. But Christ wants more for us. He wants to release our full potential as human beings. But what does that potential consist of? It consists of our capacity to love, to know others as Christ knows them, and to dedicate ourselves to their good. Christ knows that if we follow him down that path, we will be truly happy, and we will make those around us truly happy, here on earth and forever in heaven. 

 Well, by now you are probably thinking “OK, I get it. But how do I begin? How do I start?” I think Saint Teresa of Calcutta had the Right Idea of Love – She said that the One thing that can sometimes hold us back in our efforts to follow the Lord's New Commandment is a false idea of what love should feel like. We tend to think that true love is always accompanied by nice feelings, and if the feelings go away, that means the love has gone away too. That's also what radio, TV, and social media will tell us, but that's not what the Gospel tells us. Love, true love, Christ-like love, goes deeper than feelings. It demands sacrifice, self-giving, and self-forgetfulness. Christ-like love always involves a cross. That's what makes it Christ-like; that's what makes it true love. If we can get this truth to sink down from our heads into our hearts, we will be freer to love more as Christ loves, and we will lead happier lives, and make those around us happier too. 

Maybe a few more words from Saint Teresa of Calcutta can help guide us: 

"People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. 
If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway. 
If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. 
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. 
 Honesty and transparency may make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. 
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. 
People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway. 
Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway. 

Why? Because in the final analysis, all of this is between you and God…It was never between you and them anyway." Wise words from a Holy Saint. 

In closing I have a small request for all of us here today: As we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, let's prayerfully ask Him two things: 


1. to help us to pick up our crosses willingly and to love those around us as He has loved. 
2. and to help us in accepting God’s grace to act in such a way that those around us will know we are His disciples by how we love one another each and every day. 

 Amen