"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

August 26, 2018

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 11:08 am

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 26, 2018 – St. John’s

For five Sundays now we have been engaged in a slow meditative reading of the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, whose entire theme is Christ as the Bread of Life. Jesus presents himself as that bread first of all through his words, through his teaching, and this bread is consumed when people who bring hungry hearts and minds receive it in faith. Last week we heard him speak of himself as life-giving bread in a second sense, through his presence in the eucharist when we eat his flesh and drink his blood under the sacramental signs. We will have noticed that the structure of the Mass, our weekly celebration, follows the structure of Jesus’ words, as we first listen to him through the Scriptures and in the homily and respond with the words of our faith and as from this altar table we then receive him in the eucharist.

Today we near the end of this Gospel chapter and hear that some of those who heard Jesus, even some who had been his disciples, did not believe him or the remarkable claims he was making. As they began to drift away, he asked his closest disciples whether they, too, wished to leave, and, speaking for them all, Peter makes the powerful confession of faith: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life. We have come to believe and now know that you are the Holy One of God.”

It is impossible to read or hear this exchange without relating it to the scandal many Catholics are experiencing today and which has led some of them to leave the Church and others of them to reflect on and to explain to others, and perhaps even to themselves, why they are staying. (more…)

Advertisements

July 30, 2018

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , — komonchak @ 3:10 pm

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 29, 2018 – St. John’s

Our second reading today, taken from the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, sets out a description of what makes the Church the Church. Paul is addressing the Ephesians as a group, but not any hap-hazard group such as the people who might happen to find themselves in the same bus or train or airplane. He addresses them as a community, and the first thing he mentions that makes them a community is that they have all been called: “Walk worthy of the call you have received.” Each of them has been called, yes, but as he will say in a few lines, they were called into a single hope.

But there are other constituents of their common life, their community: they have one spirit, which makes them one body; they have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. No other group of human beings at the time would have been brought together around those principles of unity. This was something new in the religious and cultural world of the time. And it is true still today: no other group of human beings gathers around these principles of unity.

It is only after he reminds them that each has been given a gift to use, that St. Paul goes on to say that there are various ministries given in order to help all the members in their work at building up the Body of Christ that is the Church. But his first emphasis is on what all Christians have in common, and it is to serve that community of faith, hope and love under the one God that the ministries of some exist. Some are singled out for the care of all.

It is because some of those so singled out have not served the Church but have betrayed it that we Catholics are once again suffering so painfully. It is painful for me as a priest to see still more horrors being disclosed again, and I can imagine how much more painful it must be for the parishioners of this parish in particular to be reminded of a frightful past. And now the scandal involves a man at the highest levels of the hierarchy being identified as a serial abuser and removed from office, with a hundred questions arising as to how he could have risen so far even after his behavior was widely known and even brought to the attention of authorities in Rome. I am afraid that we have not seen the end but perhaps only the beginning of disturbing new revelations. I can tell you that the anger among priests is almost palpable, and to judge from my readings of many different Catholic websites in the last few weeks, the anger is just as great among the laity.

That is why I wanted to begin this homily where today’s excerpt from St. Paul’s Epistle begins: with the basic gifts and blessings received in common that make us the Church, that bring us together this morning as a Church, the things that are prior to and far more basic and far more central than the hierarchy: the common calling, the common grace, the common faith, the common hope, and all this under the one God who is Father of all, in the one Lord, possessing the one Spirit. These are what really make the Church the Church, that make us–you and me, here and now, this morning–that make us the Church, and we need to remember them, to treasure them, to cling to them, to make them the primary reality that defines our identity as Catholics, that anchors our own individual spiritual lives.

I don’t think any of you would be here in this church this early morning if that were not already true of you. But it is good to be reminded of it, so that we don’t take blessings for granted and don’t confuse the non-essential with the essential, the peripheral with the central. And let us join in prayer that God would heal his Church of these new wounds and lead those in authority to do all that they can to prevent these outrages from ever happening again.

July 22, 2018

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 4:52 pm

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 22, 2018 – St. John’s, Goshen

I could not read today’s first reading without thinking of how applicable it is to the scandals that have racked the Catholic Church for the last several decades, which savagely wounded this parish in particular, scandals one wanted to think were past and gone but which have surfaced again in the last weeks as affecting men in very high positions in the Church. “Woe to the shepherds,” Jeremiah begins his indictment, “woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture…. You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them.”

It was the lack of care for their people on the part of bishops that most angered people, both in and outside the Church (more…)

March 31, 2018

Newman on Easter

Filed under: Essays, Newman — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 11:56 am

The sixth volume of John Henry Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons gathers sermons for Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday; it makes for rich, nourishing spiritual reading. One of the best of these sermons is the one I give here, on “The Difficulty of Realizing Sacred Privileges.” Note that “realizing” here means “making real to oneself,” and recall how much Newman made of the distinction between “notional” and “real” assent: the first is assent to ideas and tends to be abstract; the second is assent to concrete realities. What Newman is urging in this sermon is a real assent to the blessings which Christ’s resurrection has brought to oneself, to us.

Sermon 8. Difficulty of Realizing Sacred Privileges 

This is the Day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Ps 118:24.

It is always very difficult to realize any great joy or great sorrow. (more…)

January 13, 2018

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 3:02 pm

SECOND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – JANUARY 16, 2000 – BLESSED SACRAMENT

As we begin a new calendar year, as we begin our walk through the ordinary Sundays of the liturgical year, the Church asks us to begin at the beginning. Last week we celebrated the baptism of Jesus, his empowerment by the Spirit for his messianic ministry. Today we are still there, near the Jordan, with John the Baptist’s testimony: “Behold, the Lamb of God.” And we hear of the calling of the first disciples. The whole public story of Jesus Christ is beginning.

But there is another beginning also stressed in today’s readings, the beginning of faith in the hearts of the disciples. (more…)

December 28, 2017

Humani generis and “la ‘nouvelle théologie'”

This chapter in the book Ressourcement is adapted from a talk I gave at the the convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America
Milwaukee, Wisconsin – June 8, 2001. This is the first paragraph of that talk:

Last year was the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Pope Pius XII’s encyclical, Humani generis. The anniversary does not appear to have been celebrated anywhere. When I was in Rome a month ago, I inquired at the Libreria Vaticana located in St. Peter’s Square about any symposia that might have been held and published for the event. Not only did the clerk not know of any such commemoration, he was not even able to find a copy of the encyclical for sale. Inquiries at other bookstores in Rome had the same result. La Civiltà Cattolica took no notice of the anniversary and, to judge from the English-language edition, neither did L’Osservatore Romano. The annual indices of Documentation Catholique and of Origins list no mention. Now it is hard to prove a negative, so it is risky to say that no one anywhere noted the anniversary, but there is a good chance that the Catholic Theological Society of America is the only body in all of Christendom that has marked the occasion, and even we are meeting a year late.

JAK – Humani generis

December 23, 2017

And the Word became…

Filed under: Essays — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 9:39 am

St. Augustine taught rhetoric–the art of persuasion–and his own mastery of the art is never displayed more convincingly than in his sermons. He delighted in exploring the paradoxes that lie at the heart of the Christian claim: that the Word became flesh; that he who was rich became poor so that we might be enriched by his poverty; that the instrument of death became the tree of life; etc. Here, in preparation for Christmas are four ways in which he sang variations on the theme of the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel.

And the Word was made syllables

There is a single message [sermo] of God spread throughout all the Scriptures, a single Word [Verbum] sounding through the many mouths of the holy. Although this Word was in the beginning, God with God, it was not expressed in syllables then because it did not exist in time. And since it descended and took on the weakness of our bodies, it should be no surprise that for the sake of our weakness it also made use of our tiny sounds. (EnPs 103[104]/4, 1; PL 37, 1378) (more…)

November 24, 2017

Toward a synodal Church

Filed under: Essays, Foundations in Ecclesiology — komonchak @ 8:42 pm

This is the paper I gave at a Vatican symposium devoted to re-thinking and re-structuring the Synod of Bishops, in February 2016. I attempt to identify the reasons why some cannot understand the need for synodality, co-responsibility at all levels.

JAK – Synodality

October 29, 2017

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 3:16 pm

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 29, 2017 – St. John’s, Goshen

Some things never change. To illustrate the second of the great commandments stated by Christ in today’s Gospel, we heard an extract from the Book of Exodus. The events described in this, the second book of the Bible, date from around thirteen centuries before Christ and were first handed down in oral traditions which began to be written down and combined into a narrative some centuries later. The section from which our reading was taken is known to scholars as “the Book of the Covenant,” because it sets down prescriptions that embody Israel’s responsibility in the covenant, or pact, that God struck with her at the foot of Mt. Sinai. It may have become part of the book long after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, that is, around six centuries before Christ. In other words, we have listened to moral prescriptions, commandments, that are at least 2,500 years old, and were written for a land far away and a culture far different.

But, as I said, some things never change. It is not possible to hear those words without thinking about circumstances and challenges of our own time and place. Let’s look at the text closely, and allow me to illumine the prescriptions by citing a commentary on the Book of Exodus [by Martin Noth], published in Germany 75 years ago, that describes them as “aiming to protect those who are underprivileged in law, work and society (personae miserabiles)”.

And so we have, first: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.” (more…)

October 22, 2017

Fr. Joseph N. Moody

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 3:44 pm

It was a great blessing in my life to have had Fr. Joseph N. Moody as a teacher, mentor, and, eventually, friend. Some years ago, I wrote this appreciation of him for dot-Commonweal, the blog which, unfortunately, has since been dis-continued for reasons that continue to escape me.

Fr. Joseph N. Moody was one of the great priests of the Archdiocese of New York in the last six or seven decades. Tall, athletic, and handsome, he was first encountered by most of us as a professor of modern history at Cathedral College, the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of New York. We knew him to be the nearly polar opposite, physically and ideologically, of another great character on the faculty there, Florence D. Cohalan. Fr. Moody was a passionate teacher who could come close to tears in describing a particularly dramatic moment in history. He took a great deal of interest in his students and actually sought their views on historical personages. He was also the only teacher whose language in the classroom occasionally betrayed his experience in the navy.

We were eventually to learn that Fr. Moody was an acknowledged expert on nineteenth-century French history, was a participant in the National Council of Christians and Jews, a vigorous defender of the rights of labor, and a champion of efforts on behalf of Negroes (as the word was then). He edited a 914-page volume, Church and Society. Catholic Social and Political Thought and Movements, 1789-1950 (New York: Arts,. Inc. 1953), many of whose chapters, including especially his on France, are still worth reading. He served as pastor in two parishes in the suburbs of New York City. He also taught at the College of New Rochelle and at The Catholic University of America. (Upon his death in 1993, a lovely appreciation of him appeared in the American Historical Review.)

During World War II, Fr. Moody served as a navy chaplain, and would receive citations for his service on the USS Massachusetts and the USS Yorktown. While at sea, he arranged for $50.00 to be sent to Commonweal every month so that its editors could send books from current reading lists. He sent a letter of thanks to the Editors which included this encomium:

The Commonweal is more valuable to me than ever before, for it keeps me informed, better than any other vehicle, in those areas that are of deepest significance. Each week, after reading my copy, I place it in the officers’ wardroom, and I have found that it is the only bridge we possess to reach the secularized American mind. Recently when our officers drew up a list of magazines they wished to obtain, they included The Commonweal, a striking testimony of its power to reach a segment of our reading public that would otherwise be untouched by things Catholic.

In March 1944, Commonweal published an article by Fr. Moody: Moody as naval chaplain , “Routine: Days in the Life of a Navy Chaplain,” which recounts with his typical combination of down-to-earth realism and hearty optimism the challenges and joys of his work with the men at sea. The whole piece is worth reading, but I draw attention to the last two paragraphs, which can usefully go into any account or appreciation of pre-conciliar Catholicism:

A census showed that the great proportion of Catholics aboard were more active in the practice of religion than they had been at home. The explanation is obvious: the intimacy with which the priest lives with them and his opportunity to influence their personal lives; the activity of lay apostles; the increased occasion for reflection that came in lives freed from all distraction. In practically all cases where a radical change for the better occurred, it was necessary to buttress it with a full course of instructions, for lack of religious training is the prime defect in our adult Catholic. Rarely was fear an important element, as modern naval war-fare is too impersonal to inspire terror, and men’s mental habits are too firmly grooved to be deeply affected thereby. The conviction was always present that although the spiritual results were gratifying, they could have been achieved by intensive missionary activity on Main Street, almost as well as aboard a man-o’-war.

The chaplain’s greatest help in bringing his men to God is the liturgy. The use of Father Stedman’s missal is universal among them, and the regularity of their attendance is increased by their growing appreciation of the beauty of the Sacrifice. They frequently aver that they had no concept of its meaning until they had learned to follow it intelligently. The numbers at daily Mass tripled once the “Missa Recitata” [jak: the “Dialogue Mass”] was introduced, and the response on Sunday was almost as noteworthy. There is little doubt that they were being prepared for a real interest in liturgical participation, which gives one hope that some abiding spiritual result may have been obtained from their experience aboard ship. At least in their religious life, the influence of routine was diminished. Coupled with the aid furnished by the Confraternity Home Study Courses and pamphlets, it was felt that a firm basis was afforded for their further religious development.

Here is the AHA tribute:

Monsignor Joseph N. Moody, professor emeritus of history at the Catholic University of America and a founding member of the Society for French Historical Studies, died in Statesboro, Georgia, on March 2, 1994. He was 89 years old.

A New York City native, he received his A.B. from St. Joseph’s Seminary in 1925 and his Ph.D. from Fordham University in 1934. His graduate major was classical history and literature, but he later switched to modern European history, doing postdoctoral work at Columbia University under Carlton J. Hayes.

Father Moody was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1929 and soon became renowned as one of the best preachers in the archdiocese. Additional responsibilities included teaching at Cathedral College and the College of New Rochelle, where he founded a labor school and acted as its first dean.

During this time, he started speaking out against the “vicious new” anti-Semitism. With strong backing from Cardinal Hayes of New York, he wrote an important pamphlet debunking anti-Semitic canards. He also gave a nationally broadcast speech attacking anti-Semitism at Madison Square Garden before Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and a large audience. For his efforts, B’nai B’rith honored him with its 1938 Human Rights Award. When war finally came, Father Moody, a naval reserve chaplain, was assigned to the Pacific theater, where he served with distinction on both the USS Massachusetts and the USS Yorktown. Later, he received both a naval and a presidential citation.

After 1945, he taught successively at Notre Dame College, in Staten Island, N.Y., Ladycliff College, in Highland Falls, N.Y., and Catholic University, where he became a full professor in 1965. He retired in 1975, but he loved teaching so much that he continued offering courses at Catholic for an additional year. Then he moved on to teach at the College of New Rochelle, Boston College, St. John’s Seminary, in Brighton, Mass., and, finally, Georgia Southern University. Countless students over the years remember him as a vibrant teacher who won their enduring affection and inspired them to a love for both history and rigorous scholarship.

Father Moody published a variety of books and pamphlets, including Church and State: Catholic Social and Political Movements, 1789–1950 (1953); The Church as Enemy: Anticlericalism in Nineteenth-Century French Literature (1968); and French Education since Napoleon (1978). He also contributed seminal articles to major historical journals and a steady stream of book reviews. A member of several professional associations, he was especially active in the Association of New York State European Historians, serving as president in 1960 and 1977; the Society for French Historical Studies, serving as vice president twice and president once (1969); and the American Catholic Historical Association, serving as president in 1978. Editorial commitments included acting as consulting editor for Church History, modern European history editor for The New Catholic Encyclopedia, and from 1965 until his death, associate editor of the Catholic Historical Review.

Father Moody continued to participate in history conferences even after his health began to decline. At the bicentennial conference on the French Revolution, in Washington, D.C., in 1989—his last conference—the Society for French Historical Studies awarded him a distinguished service medal.

Father Moody had a great many friends in the profession, all of whom fondly recall his enduring human qualities. A full list of these qualities could be given here, but perhaps the most important were his unfailing cheerfulness and his genuine concern for the careers of young historians. Father Moody will be greatly missed.
James Friguglietti
Montana State University at Billings
Sandra Horvath-Peterson
Georgetown University

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: