Monday, July 15, 2019

Homily Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Cycle C July 14, 2019


Homily Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time   Cycle C             July 14, 2019

In the Gospel we just heard Jesus gets a question:  “Who is my neighbor?”  That seem like a simple and straight-forward question.  But in the hands of Jesus, it becomes expanded, and certainly more challenging.

Because who is your neighbor determines what your ethical responsibility to them should be.  Anyone who is your neighbor you should treat, well, neighborly. 

So what do you say?  Who is my neighbor?  Who is your neighbor?  Is everyone here in church today your neighbor?   YES!   That was pretty easy and simple.

How about those Baptists praying up the street at the University Baptist Church?   Are they our neighbors?   YES.

Well, how about the Jews across from our gym at Hillel, and the Moslems at the Nueces Street Mosque?   Are they our neighbors?  Yes indeed!

Well, certainly those Vatican I Latin Catholics at the Cathedral, they are not our neighbors, are they?   Oh yes they are!

What about the street people out on Guadalupe Street, or those down at the ARCH, or those locked up at Del Valle Travis County Jail?   Are they our neighbors?   Yes.

What about the children and the immigrant refugees locked up in Clinton, TX, and in El Paso, Brownsville, McAllen, and all along the border?  Are they also our neighbors?   You bet!

Jesus answers the question of who is my neighbor NOT by listing categories of people.  Such categories mean little to Him.  

Jesus answers the question of “Who is my neighbor?” instead by speaking of compassion and service.  Jesus tells us our neighbor is everyone who needs compassion and service.  EVERYONE who needs compassion and service. 

Then Jesus challenges and commands us:  “Go and do likewise.”

Now we just have to go and do it.      AMEN

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Fr. Chuck's Column, July 7, 2019

One year ago, in the July 8, 2018 bulletin, Fr. Chuck
wrote on the dire situation of refugees and migrants
fleeing their homes and how we should respond to
this tragedy.
The humanitarian crisis at the southern US border
continues, and Bishop Joe Vásquez asks us to continue
to keep this issue in the forefront of our minds and
our faith. Bishop Vásquez serves as the Chairman of the USCCB
Committee on Migration, and he says, “our people are fearful
and need to know that the Church accompanies them and that we
will support, pray and speak on their behalf.”
Here is a call to action and understanding from Fr. Chuck’s July
8, 2018 column:
How are we to respond to this tragic and complicated situation,
when partisans on both sides make outrageous statements and
substitute emotion and ranting for clear thought and civil discourse?
I suggest the following actions:
1) Pray. Pray for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit. Pray for a
spirit of wisdom, understanding and courage. Pray that your motivations
not be based on fear or prejudice either way, but on the
truth and compassion that come from God. Pray for our Bishops,
to be forthright and honest, especially for our Bishop, Joe
Vasquez, who is the chair of the US Catholic Bishops’ Committee
on Migrants and Refugees.
2) Get informed as a Catholic. Many news outlets want to tell you
their version of the truth. But as Catholics we need to know our
stance in all this. Go to the US Catholic Bishop’s website,
www.USCCCB.org, and their website on immigration,
www.justiceforimmigrants.org. There is lots of information there.
3) Get involved. Let your elected officials know that you stand
with the US Catholic Bishops on these issues. Urge the politicians
and law makers to do the right thing. Vote. Voting is not only a
privilege but an obligation.
4) Donate. People are in real need. In spite of all the money our
government is spending in the detention camps – and it is a lot –
there are many unmet needs. A list of Catholic organizations (who
are doing great work) to which you can donate are listed on the
Social Justice page of this bulletin.
5) Keep a positive attitude. We rely not just on political forces,
but the Holy Spirit. We do not have the luxury of hopelessness
and despair. We have heard Good News, and we are convinced
that ultimately, despite whatever setbacks we now experience,
that Truth and Goodness have already conquered evil in the death
and resurrection of Jesus.

Fr. Chuck's Column, June 30, 2019


This weekend we celebrate the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. I hope you like green because we will be in Ordinary Time from now until we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King on November 24. We can settle down and be ordinary in the meantime.
Let’s look at some ordinary things, specifically about receiving Holy Communion. Most people do this pretty well; it is not complicated. The Church suggests we commune in a way that shows we are a community, and this begins even as we approach the Sacrament. If there is a Communion Song, as we usually have here at most of our weekend Masses (except the 7:30 a.m.), we are encouraged to sing. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM) # 86 states of the Communion Song, “its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the communitarian character of the procession to receive the Eucharist.”
Communicants are encouraged to stop at the head of the line and make a slight bow as a sign of reverence, then proceed up to the priest, deacon, or Eucharistic minister to receive the host. I encourage you to look at the minister. Since we are celebrating the Body of Christ, it is important to recognize the Body of Christ in its several manifestations, including the person ministering the Eucharist. I encourage you to open your eyes and look at them. This inter-personal, eye-to-eye contact is not a distraction but rather an import or recognizing the full Body of Christ.
In the fourth century Saint Cyril of Jerusalem taught new Christians to “make your hands a throne for the Lord.” Place your dominant (that is, your right if you are right-handed) under the other hand and hold them up to receive the host. The minister states “Body of Christ,” and you respond with an affirming “Amen.” I urge you to hold your hands up, especially if you are young or short. Bending over constantly to reach your hands is hard on us senior folk. Also, do not be afraid to come close to the minister.
The more recent innovation of receiving the sacred host on the tongue is permitted ,ut in that case please be sure to OPEN your mouth and extend your tongue. Sometimes people hardly open their mouth, and it is tricky to get the host into their mouth. Be kind to the minister and open wide.
Because the emphasis in receiving is on the “communitarian” character of receiving, we strongly discourage kneeling to receive Holy Communion. While kneeling is an appropriate individual or personal posture of reverence and prayer, it detracts from the “communitarian” nature of the reception of Holy Communion and places emphasis on the individual’s stance. It is also a bit risky if the person in line behind does not pay attention and walks into you if you kneel. You have a wonderful opportunity to kneel and pray upon returning to your pew.


Fr. Chuck's Column, June 23, 2019


Every year, through the auspices of the Missionary Coop Plan, we host a missionary to share with us some of the mission work of the church, and also to request our prayers and financial support. This year we host Fr. Talipope Vaifale of the Missionaries of Faith (MF).
A relatively new Order, the Missionaries of Faith were founded 35 years ago by an Italian Third Order woman, Anna Maria Andreani, and an Italian priest, Fr. Luigi Duilio Graziotti. The impetus toward founding this congregation began following Anna Maria Andreani’s appalling encounters with some priests in crisis. Something urged her to help priests in difficulty. Today the Missionaries of Faith have 214 priests around the world in their Order, many in India, Africa and Viet Nam. They also staff the parish of Sacred Heart in Waco, TX.
Please support their work with your prayers and your donations.
Unfortunately, I will not be here to hear them, as I will be attending the 98th BD party for my Dad, Charlie Kullmann, in St. Louis

Fr. Chuck's Column, June 16, 2019

Happy Father’s Day to all Fathers, God Fathers and Father Figures! Your service is difficult but essential. Thank you, and may God, the Father of us all, bless you abundantly.
Today we also celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday. The Doctrine of the Trinity teaches us we will never have God figured out and captured in our human concepts. God is always beyond all our imagining, and that incomprehensibility of God is a great blessing. We will never exhaust the mystery of God.
In addition, I would like to bring you up to date on some of the continuing work to accomplish a mixed-use development on our property. While it has been quiet, much work has been going on.
There was a successful meeting on April 23 with parish and school staffs to get input on the needs and desires of what our new facilities would contain and look like. A similar meeting was conducted with about 30 school and parish leaders on Saturday May 4. William Gay, Mario Espinoza and Kelly Bodu Tarrant lead these meetings, which were helpful in establishing some priorities of what we need and want in a new building.
Our original statement of need was for 100,000 square feet of space for the parish/school (our portion of the building). Over the revi-sions from the developer that shrunk to 92,000. We objected, more work was done, and our portion is now 107,000 square feet. These are very basic floor plans that do not even show all door and window openings but show concepts that could work. As we move forward and the design for our spaces becomes more refined, we expect to have more opportunities for feedback.
A great deal of legal work has been done by parishioner Christopher Bell, who is on the Development Committee. We have engaged a top-notch land use attorney, Rick Reed, who is also a member of our community. Several drafts have gone back and forth on a pre-closing agreement, and we have settled on an “access and confidentiality agreement,” which is one of the first of many pieces of legal paperwork we will need. We are preparing for the developer, Greystar, to be able to do the title search, survey, and other due diligence on our site. We anticipate that occurring soon.
At a preliminary meeting with the Diocesan Finance Council on May 14, we realized that they needed more information, and we are now responding to them. We are now getting everyone on the same page and expect a positive result from their meeting on August 1. Mean-while, the Diocese has engaged two experts to deliver an objective opinion on the terms of the deal. Their assessments will form part of a package that will be sent to the Vatican later this year. Given the size of this agreement, it does require Vatican approval. Also, we have been in consultation with the Diocese of Austin about the financing of our portion of the project. While the bill for our new facilities will come due on completion, the income we receive from the ground rent to pay for our new buildings will come in over time. It will take about 40 years or so of ground lease payments to fully pay off the buildings and the cost of borrowing. The Diocese of Austin is working with us to arrange that loan.
Negotiations have continued and are progressing well with San Jose Parish off of Oltorf Street. That is where we plan to move the school during the time of demolition and construction on our site. They have everything we need and are anxious to have us join them for the duration of our pilgrimage off of our site.
Because we are not experts in this construction and development arena, we have hired a top-notch firm, American Realty Property Man-agement, to be our owner’s representative. Already their expertise has foreseen some problems and saved us time and money. I anticipate that they will be doing a lot more of that.
So there has been a lot of work going on. There is still much more to do. Please keep praying for all the people working on this project. It is humongous. Thank God we have so many very talented and extremely dedicated parishioners. More as things develop.

Fr. Chuck's Column, June 2, 2019


First of all, I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to the 100+ parishioners who have generously responded to the Encountering Christ capital campaign. St. Austin is an integral part of the Diocese of Austin, and we can be strong only as long as the Diocese is healthy and vibrant. We are all connected together in our mission as members of the Body of Christ, and our active participation in this campaign makes real and effective our position in the Diocese of Austin. THANK YOU!!!
Secondly, I come to you today asking for a BIG FAVOR. It is not only important that we raise money but that we have a high level of active participation. So I am asking every family or individual to please make a response to the Encountering Christ Campaign. It is TREMENDOUSLY helpful to our parish to have your response, REGARDLESS of how big or small your response. If you can pledge only $5 a year, please do so. If you can offer your prayers only, please do so. If you don’t want to give anything, please respond anyway.
We have a LOT going on right now in our parish and school. I really want to wrap up this Encountering Christ Campaign in a timely matter so that we can continue to focus on other projects. Some parishes that have not been responding may be required to have a YEARLONG CAMPAIGN. We can avoid that simply by getting a response from all of our parishioners.
If you are not able or are unwilling to give at this time, I still want your response. Once we have your response, the Diocese will stop sending you robocalls and letters, and we will stop sending you email reminders to make your pledge. So making a response will save you aggravation and save us work and money.
To make a response, regardless of the size, please take a pledge card from the folder in the pew, fill it out, and drop it in any collection basket here. We will get it to the right place. Or drop it at the church office or mail it in.
Alternatively, you can make a pledge ONLINE by going to https://www.encounteringchristcampaign.org/donate. Be sure to mention you are from St. Austin Parish. Or you can make a pledge OVER THE PHONE with Jennifer Anderson at 512-477-9471 ext. 325 during business hours.
It will only take a couple of minutes, and it will save us time and money, save you being bothered, and help our parish to continue to focus on important moves for the future of our school and parish. So please make a response.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C July 7, 2019



          Our Gospel today contains one of my favorite injunctions.  Jesus tells the disciples, and us, “Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what they set before you.”   I follow that religiously.
          Actually, our Gospel is a bit odd.  The other Gospels contain a sending out by Jesus of the Apostles to preach.  That also occurred in the previous chapter of Luke’s Gospel.  But Luke is the only Gospel to contain a second sending out for mission, but this time not by the Apostles, but by 72 disciples.  Jesus gives basically the same instructions, down to shaking the dust from your feet.  It is a repeat performance.  
          Why 72?  Scholars think this is an allusion to the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, which Luke used, which lists the total number of nations on earth as, you guessed it, 72.   In other words Jesus is symbolically sending them out to the whole world.  This instruction is for you and me as well.
          Jesus tells them, and us, “I am sending you like lambs among wolves.”  That is an interesting image.  What do you think it is like to be like lambs among wolves?   Hmmm.
          Jesus instructs us: “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals, and greet no one along the way.”  I take this to mean that we are not to get weighed down by lots of stuff, an injunction most of us could take to heart.  Who here has too much stuff?  It is easy to fall into that trap.  Jesus tells us “greet no one along the way.”  Jesus does not mean that we should be rude and ignore people, but rather not to get sidetracked and waste time socializing, chit-chatting, passing the time in small talk, but rather to remain focused and on task.  Because the message is that important.

          The essence of the message we are to give is this: “The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.”   The kingdom of God is at hand.  It is just around the corner.  It is coming, It is here!
          In other words, NOW is the time to open your heart to Kingdom of God.  Your heart is where the Kingdom is planted and where it starts.  If God is your King then the Kingdom is at hand for you.
          What does it mean to live with God as our King?  First of all it means that all the other claimants for the throne in your life have to be pushed aside, whether that is ease and comfort, or money, or power, or pleasure, or revenge, or status, or success, or fear, or pride, or whatever.  For God to be King in our hearts all other forces and powers have to become secondary and subservient. 
          Who or what is King in your heart?  Maybe it is a little confused.  A bit mixed up and not very clear.  Perhaps there is some palace intrigue going on in your heart, a struggle between jealousy and righteousness, or greed, and God.
          Jesus in the Gospel is calling us to act.  “Yet know this, the Kingdom of God is at hand.”  It is here.   It is here (point to chest).
          Again today we hear that urgent call to not live the old life of sin, of selfishness and focus on me, me, me, but rather to inaugurate the Kingdom of God in our heart.  How?  By making God our King, in all that we do, in all that we say, in all that we feel, in all that we have, in all that we are.  God is King!  And that makes all the difference.
          Today in the Gospel we are the 72 others, the disciples, appointed and called to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  Not primarily by our words.  But rather by our actions, and ultimately by our lives.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Homily 13th Sunday in Ordinary time cycle C June 30, 2019 St Austin, Austin TX

Though I did NOT give this homily this past weekend, I thought I would post it anyway.  Enjoy!   Fr Chuck K CSP

On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for Jesus’ reception there,
but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.  When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
"Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?"
Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

          In the gospel James and John want to call down fire from heaven.   Why?  to burn up and consume the Samaritans who will not welcome them because they are on their way to Jerusalem.  Hmmmm.   For complex historical reasons the Jews and the Samaritans did not like each other.  They could not stand each other.  It was every bit as bad, and even worse, than the political, social, racial, sexual orientation and other divides in our own day. 
          But I think we can identify somewhat with James and John.   Would it not be great - certainly dramatic - to be able to call down fire from heaven on your political enemies?  On all those pointy headed liberals, or on those deplorable xenophobic conservatives, and just have them burned up in your sight?  Whoosh!   Things would get a lot hotter around here if you could.
          But in the Gospel Jesus doesn’t buy into incinerating His enemies.   Instead, the Gospel states, “Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.”   Hmm.   We cannot call down fire, but that doesn’t stop up from calling names, or labeling our opponents as fools, idiots, retards.   And guess what?   When we do that, and denigrate others, Jesus turns and rebukes us.  We are like James and John, and are called out by Jesus for failing to truly follow Him. 
          Certainly there are programs and policies that we strongly and vehemently disagree with, such as the continuing scandal of the way our government treats innocent children at the border, holding them in deplorable conditions, that brings shame to our entire nation.  And situations like this should make us angry.   But we are not to use our anger like John and James did, wanting to hurt back and retaliate and even escalate the violence, but instead to use all the means available to us to work, work, work to change the situation, and to change hearts and minds.
          We are not to call down fire from heaven in that way.        
          However, just a few weeks ago we did hear about fire from heaven that was totally different.  We celebrated Pentecost, when tongues as of fire came down on the disciples, and enflamed them for mission.  This is the fire we need to call down, not on others to incinerate them, but to call down on ourselves, to enliven and to strengthen and to embolden us to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel, not only by our words, but much more strongly by the example of our lives!
          I think this is what St. Paul is getting at in today’s second reading when he tells us: For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.
But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh;
rather, serve one another through love.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement,
namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
But if you go on biting and devouring one another,
beware that you are not consumed by one another.”
For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement,
namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
          Brothers and sisters:  we are in for a long, contentious, nasty, brutal, dirty, divisive, and wholly crazy political election cycle.  And we all know it is going to get worse before it gets better.  And in frustration and exasperation and just being fed up we will be tempted as old John and James were tempted to call down fire from heaven to consume our political and social enemies.  And if not to call down fire, at least to hurl down degrading and insulting and demeaning names.  We may not do it out loud, but if we do it in our heart we might as well call down fire.  But we will only call down the Lord’s rebuke on us, as He rebuked John and James so long ago.
          Instead we are going to have to call down the Holy Spirit on ourselves, and especially our hearts.  St. Paul today urges us: “live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.”
Name calling is certainly the desire of the flesh.
          We need to invoke the Holy Spirit’s help, and guidance, and strength, to not gratify the desire of the flesh, that is, the desire to call names, to treat others shamefully, to humiliate and write off others.  
Live by the Spirit” St Paul urges us.    Let us be on fire! 

Monday, June 17, 2019


Trinity Sunday    June 16, 2019       St Austin’s   Austin, TX

          God walks into a bar and orders a beer, a red wine and a spritzer.  [pause.   Well, it is Trinity Sunday!] 
          Now that is – of course – not only ridiculous, it is theologically all wrong.  God is one.  There are not three separate wills and intellects in God.  We say there are three persons in God, but we don’t mean ‘person’ in the modern psychological sense of three separate individuals. 
          We Christians are monotheists.  We believe there is only ONE God.  Like the Jews and like the Moslems, we believe there is one and only one God. 
          But then of course we are not content to leave it there.  We make it more complicated.  We go on to say that while God is ONE, God is a Trinity of three “persons” defined by their relationships.  The Trinity is all about relationship. 
          In this we are quite different from Moslems.  For them God is ONE and God is totally other.  God is completely and entirely different from us, or to phrase it differently, God is all Holy.  God is God, and we can never comprehend nor touch God.  God is always distant and different.
          We Christians take a different approach.  Yes we believe God is all Holy, and entirely different from us, but then we also believe that God is total and complete in God’s own self as a community of relationships: God the Creator or Father, God the Beloved Son, and God the Holy Spirit who is the Love breathed or “aspirated” between the Father and the Son. 
          That is not only nice for God, so that God is not lonely in God’s self, but from all eternity God is a community, AND it also is very important for us.  Because of the Most Holy Trinity, God, without ceasing to be all Holy and Wholly Other, also became one of us in the second person of the Trinity.  God got deeply, intimately, no-holds-barred, involved with us, with our hopes and dreams, our disappointments and failures, our grime and our beauty and our love.  God not only came for a visit, not only dressed up in a human person like in a costume.  Rather, God truly and irrevocably became a human person, Jesus Christ. 
          It is pretty mind-boggling if you think about that.  The creator of all the billions of galaxies each with billions of stars and God knows how many planets, and then all the dark matter and dark energy which is even more, and who knows what else we haven’t yet discovered; that very same God truly became a human, born of Mary, exactly like us in all things except sin.  He lived and preached, healed the sick, died on the cross, and now lives in glory.  His name is Jesus.
          And Jesus did this so that we could be joined to Him as members of His body, and so we can share in God’s own life.  WOW!
          We experience that life already in the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier.   God lives in our hearts through grace.  God is not only totally Other, God is ALSO closer to us than our own breath.  That is a great mystery, a mystery of the infinite God in relationship with you, with us. 
          The feast we celebrate today, of the Most Holy Trinity, is all about relationship:  relationship within God, and our relationship to God, invited in Jesus to enter into the very life of God.  But it doesn’t stop there.   Because that amazing reality, in turn, has very definite implications for our relationship to each other.  So, that crazy driver who cut you off on the way to church this morning is not just some idiot.  That driver may very well be part of the Body of Christ.

          We are called to relationship with each other as part of our relationship to God.
Because, as the second reading from St Paul today affirms:  “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Happy Trinity Sunday. 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

HOMILY PENTECOST SUNDAY Cycle C June 9, 2019


HOMILY   PENTECOST SUNDAY      Cycle C  June 9, 2019

Red.  How do I look in red?  Would I not look good as a Cardinal??  Maybe not.   What do you think of when you see the color red?  Watermelon?  Firetrucks?  Why are firetrucks always red?  No blue firetrucks.
Or perhaps you think of a stop light, a red traffic light?   
Or do you think of something more political?  Red states vs. blue states?  Or if you are older, The “Reds”?  Red-China?  Anyone remember “Better dead than red?” 
Or do you think of the opposite, as in “red-blooded American”?  And the “red, white and blue”?  Why is red always first?  Why not the white, blue and red????
For our Asian brothers and sisters red means joy and happiness.  Some years ago I did a wedding in South Carolina.  The bride’s mother was coming from Hong Kong, and the young couple asked me to wear red vestments for the wedding, since in Chinese culture white signifies death, but red signifies joy.  So I wore red for the wedding.
In church we wear red for several different occasions.  Red signifies blood; but not blood as a sign of death, like in some Hollywood horror flick with gallons of fake blood over everything, but rather blood in the scriptural sense as a sign of life.  We wear red on the Feast of the Martyrs, like Sts Peter and Paul and John the Baptist.  Also for the Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. 
But today we wear red primarily for the symbol of FIRE.  In the first reading we heard that tongues as of fire came to rest on the disciples, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. 
The result is that the disciples went from frightened and confused people hiding in fear, to bold and effective proclaimers of the Gospel, of the wonderful things God had done in Jesus Christ. 
The symbols of fire and the “strong, driving wind” are signs of energy, of life, of vitality: and that is what the Holy Spirit brings to us.  Just as when God formed man out of the clay of the ground in the Book of Genesis, and blew into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being, so in the Gospel today the Resurrected Jesus breaths on the Apostles and says “Receive the Holy Spirit” and so they came alive. 

As an aside, did Jesus give the Holy Spirit to the Apostles on Easter Sunday night, as in our Gospel from John, or did the Holy Spirit come on the Apostles 50 days later, at Pentecost, as in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles?    What do you think?
Well, similarly, did you receive the Holy Spirit at your Baptism, perhaps as a baby, or did you receive the Holy Spirit at your Confirmation, when you were in 8th grade like me, or in high school, or some other time? 
          The correct answer to both questions is YES.  In our religion the correct answer is usually “both/and” instead of ‘either/or”. 
          Is Jesus divine or human?  YES.  Is God one or three?  YES.  Is the Bible the word of God or the words of humans?  YES. 
Human logic is often too limited and inadequate to hold the mystery of God.

           Anyway, back to Pentecost:  The Spirit is all about life: just like when you have team spirit or school spirit, the school is exciting and vital and energized and alive, so also the Church, God’s people, when the Holy Spirit is present the Church is vital and energized and alive.                 “No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” St. Paul assures us in the second reading today.  St. Paul is not talking about physical words, but rather to make this statement with conviction and sincerity and deeply lived faith. “No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”  The life of faith comes from the Holy Spirit.    
So when you see faith-filled Christians who are alive, and filled with concern for others, and generous, and actively putting their Faith into action, who look like they have heard Good News and so radiate the joy of the Gospel, you recognize that these are Spirit-filled Christians.  Amen!  And you praise God for that.
But when you see Christians who look grumpy, and are stingy, and think of religion as all about rules, and “don’t”s, and radiate an up-tight, constricted sense of narrow-mindedness and small-heartedness, you recognize that they are Spirit-lacking Christians.  The life is just not there.  They are dead in the Spirit.  There is not that burning flame of faith and love.      The upsetting, disruptive, strong wind of the Spirit that overturns our neatly laid-out tables of rules and regulations and proper expectations is not there.  The Holy Spirit is messy. 
Spirit filled Christians are bright, brilliant, bold, red Christians: so red it hurts your eyes: you need sunglasses in their presence.  The Spirit-less Christians are nothing but dingy, insipid, beige Christians.  They make you yawn, and put you to sleep.
Today, on this Pentecost, we are called to be RED Christians, to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit that we received at our Baptism and were sealed with at our Confirmation.  People should be able to see the Spirit of Christ at work in us. 
Therefore, Look and act like you have heard Good News, not bad news.  Act with courage in living the way of Christ.  Proclaim boldly by your deeds what you believe.  Jesus is Lord!
May you be on fire with the Holy Spirit!  Happy Pentecost!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Homily 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time May 16, 2019

Homily     6th Sunday of Ordinary Time     May 16, 2019
          In the first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles we heard Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers,
‘Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice,
you cannot be saved.’   Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question.”
          And then we hear later of the resolution of this issue.   First of all, note that “there arose no little dissention and debate” among them.   Does this sound at all familiar?   We have plenty of dissension and debate in our own day: in politics certainly.  But also in many other areas, including the Church.  Just as in the earliest days of Christianity there was a division between those who upheld the Mosaic Law, and especially the requirement of circumcision, against the party of Barnabas and Paul, who held that we are saved by faith in Jesus, not by the Law.  A fundamental and basic difference, and it caused bitter division.
          St. Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, summarizes and frankly papers over the extent and contentiousness of the debate.  The parties go to Jerusalem, lay out their arguments to the Apostles, and they make a decision that gentile converts do not have to be circumcised, and everyone is happy.  But we know historically that is not what happened.  If you read the epistles of St. Paul you can see that he was dogged and criticized and fought with the pro-Law party, the circumcision party, for the rest of his life.  Paul was far from a complete success.  Only later, when Christianity broke completely with Judaism after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., did the issue finally get resolved. 
           I bring this up for two reasons.  First, in the Gospel today Jesus tells us: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
          It sounds as if the Holy Spirit will come to us and solve all of our issues and problems, teaching us everything, and we will all be at peace and in harmony with each other.  I wish.
          But obviously that is not true.  Because the second reason I bring this up is that all through history, and into our day and time, there have been bitter divisions and dissention in the church.  And it is still here. 
          For centuries the church fought over the nature of Jesus:  was he a man adopted by God as His Son, as some passages of St. Paul seem to indicate?  Or was He God dressed up like a man?  It took centuries for the church to figure out that Jesus is true God, and true man, and truly one and the same.  Mind boggling but true.
          There were more fights over the Trinity.  Over the Real Presence in the Eucharist.  Over the nature of grace.  Over whether the earth or the sun is at the center of the universe.  Over many other issues.
          Historically, teachings change.  For centuries the Catholic Church taught that slavery was natural, part of the nature of things, and condoned by the Bible.  St. Paul tells slaves to be obedient to their masters.  Until the beginning of the 20th Century the Holy Office in Rome defended this teaching on slavery.  But now, if you read Pope Saint John Paul the II on human trafficking – which is another name for slavery – it is fiercely condemned as sinful.   A turn-around of 180 degrees.
           And today we have plenty of controversies about gender, about the role of women, homosexuality, mandatory celibacy for priests, and so on.   Two hundred years from now we will probably know the answer to all these questions.  But then we will have new questions.  Can extra-terrestrials be saved, perhaps? 
          Where is the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, in all this?  Jesus promised that the Advocate “will teach you everything.”  Everything.   But Jesus did not promise that the Holy Spirit would teach us everything immediately.  And that is a great disappointment.  Because it means that we have to work and struggle towards the truth.  And like the experience of St. Paul, that is disturbing, painful, confusing and a lot of work facing opposition.
          But it means that we are part of that search for the truth.  An important part.  We do not receive the truth pre-digested as if we were infants.  Somehow, through the Holy Spirit, we are an integral part of the search for truth.  And ultimately, we have faith that the Holy Spirit will never let us stray too far or too long from the truth, but speaking to our hearts, will continually lead us to the fullness of God’s truth. 
          //        Immediately on promising us the gift of the Holy Spirit, and perhaps knowing that this would not be an easy gift, but a struggle fraught with doubt and confusion, Jesus assures us: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
  
The Peace of Jesus does not make everything go smooth and calm.  Jesus’ peace does not make things easy for us.  Rather, His peace is a type of strength, a strength to hang in there and remain committed to the truth, even when it is difficult and unpleasant.  Not as the world gives peace - which is the absence of conflict - does Jesus give us peace, but rather as a strength that commits us to seeking His truth.   And He will be with us.  That is why Jesus can assure us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

Inspired by the example of St. Paul, and all those seekers of truth who have gone before us, let us put our trust in the Lord, and patiently, but persistently, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to a fuller and fuller understanding of the Truth.   And ultimately, when we find the Truth, we will find that His name is Jesus.  
AMEN.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Fr. Chuck's Column, May 26, 2019


There is much going on around here this week. This weekend is Commencement weekend at UT. Congratulations to ALL graduates, from grade school, high school, vocational and technical school, from college and university! Kudos on your accomplishment.
Graduation seems to be a part of life. It represents moving on to the next phase of our life and career. Eventually we all “graduate” from this life to the next life. Hopefully we have learned our lessons well here on Earth and will graduate Suma Cum Laude into the next state of being. May we all be Valedictorians in the graduation to eternal life!
And while on the subject of the hereafter, this Monday we also observe and celebrate Memorial Day. This is the day we recall and honor those who gave their lives in the defense of our country. I invite you to join us on Monday morning for Mass at 8 a.m. It is a day not just to remember but to be inspired by their example of heroic sacrifice and to renew and strengthen our commitment to our wonderful nation and the ideals for which it stands. The forces working against the good of our nation are many, strong, and complex, both inside and outside of our country. We need to be more committed to working and sacrificing to protect what our nation stands for, with liberty and justice for ALL.
Thursday is the non-observance of Ascension Thursday. Here in Texas, as in most of the United States, the observance of this Feast is moved to the following Sunday. But in some dioceses, mostly in the northeast, Jesus still ascends on Thursday. So if you are travelling it is possible to celebrate the Ascension twice, both on Thursday in some dioceses and on Sunday in other dioceses. We will celebrate this Feast on next Sunday, June 2.
God bless!


Monday, May 20, 2019

Fr. Chuck's Column, May 19, 2019


This weekend Paulist Evan Cummings is being ordained at the Paulist Mother Church, St. Paul the Apostle in New York City. Longtime parishioners may remember that Evan was with us as a novice during Lent (much as Chris Lawton recently was with us) almost five years ago. It is a happy day for the Paulists!
Also this weekend, at all the Masses, we will hear from a seminarian of the Diocese of Austin, Mr. Matthew Jewell. Matthew is in his second year of theology at St. Joseph's Seminary, in Convington LA.
This seems like an appropriate opportunity to talk about vocations, especially vocations to the priesthood, the permanent diaconate, and to the Paulists. The church cannot operate without priests and deacons. We have no shortage of bishops; that is not a problem. But we do have a shortage of priests and of permanent deacons. Both the Paulist Fathers and the Diocese of Austin need more priests to be able to carry on the mission we already have. Not to expand our mission but just to maintain what we already do.
The Paulists today number 114 including seminarians. Over half of our priests are 70 years old or older. This means I am still in the younger half! As our men age and retire we will have to adjust our ministerial commitments around the country. That is inevitable. We will probably leave more foundations, which is always painful.
Therefore, I urge you to continue to pray for priests to serve our parish and diocese. If you know of a young man who would make a good priest, tell him so. That encouragement is invaluable, important, and critical.
If you are a young man and the thought of priesthood has passed through your head, talk to someone about it; someone you know who has a sense of spirituality and of church. Investigating such a call will require some guts on your part, but I can assure you from personal experience that the Lord is never outdone in generosity. The life of a priest, and of a Paulist, is never dull.
Will the Church ever change the requirements for ordination to the priesthood and accept women or married men? None of us know for certain. And right now, in the real world, and not some hypothetical world that may or may not be in the future, we need more good priests and permanent deacons.


Fr. Chuck's Column May 12, 2019


Happy Mothers’ Day! Beyond the flowers, candy, and cards, it’s important to tell your mother “thank you.” This extends to your birth mother and to all  who have nurtured and sustained you. Happy Mothers’ Day to all who help us to grow. Mothers who balance both a career and child-rearing take on quite a lot! It’s amazing that so many do so well in fulfilling both roles. We all owe mothers a debt of gratitude.
Mothers (and Fathers) have always had a difficult task, but today the demands on parents are so high as to seem almost impossible to fulfill. Since they are human, no mother is perfect. Every mother has somewhere along the line, in spite of all the love that is in her heart, been too tired or too ill-equipped to fulfill an ideal. And some mothers have been downright controlling or even abusive. Not everyone is fit to be a mother. And those in their charge have suffered.
On this Mothers’ Day, perhaps the best gift you can give your mother is really a gift to yourself: forgiveness. By letting go of bitterness and resentment, you not only forgive your mother but also free yourself. This is a gift much greater than any amount of flowers, candy, or cards. You can also give it to those who have died. Forgiveness is a wonderful gift to give on Mothers’ Day.
We have both a biological mother and also a spiritual mother. That mother is the Church, or in the traditional phrase “Holy Mother the Church.” As anyone who has listened to the news in the last several years knows, the Church has been far from a perfect mother. Sin is an all too prominent part of the Church on Earth. So it has been from the beginning (read the letters of St. Paul), and so it will be until the Lord comes again. The clergy sexual abuse, the financial malfeasance, and other scandals are disheartening and discouraging but also a reflection of our humanity. A wise old priest and former president of the Paulist Fathers once told me that when you see the Church doing stupid and cruel things it “is like seeing your mother drunk.”
What are we to do? No more than we can change the fact that we are our mothers’ child can we change the fact of our spiritual bond to the Church. Giving in to resentment will hurt ourselves as much as anyone else. Working to forgiveness frees us to grow as spiritually mature people. The Church needs reform. The Church needs to listen. We need to work for the protection of children and all people. We need bishops who are shepherds, not careerists. Fortunately, Pope Francis gets it and is appointing true shepherds.
And we also have our part to play. We also need, like adult children of alcoholics, to not collude in lies, but to take responsibility for our own actions. We benefit especially from opening our hearts to forgiveness. Being responsible, loving children of the Church is the best gift we can give our “Holy Mother the Church.”


Homily for 5th Sunday of Easter May 19, 2019



This homily is titled, “Bring on the New!”    //
          Do you like things that are new?  Of course you do.  We Americans love new things!
          In the Gospel today Jesus gives us a new commandment.  It is not complicated.  It is not complex.  It is not difficult to understand, not difficult to comprehend, though it often can be difficult to put into practice.   It is this; “Love one another.”  Three simple words.  But they pack a whallop!
          Then Jesus comments, This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”   
          So, if you wish to be a disciple of Jesus, then what you have to do is love.       Love, love, love, love, love, love, love.  That’s all. 
          Simple, but difficult.  Because the kind of love that Jesus is talking about is NOT an emotion, not a feeling, not a sentiment.  The kind of love that Jesus is talking about is the kind of love He practiced.  And His love was not gushy, not sentimental, not gooey.  His love is other directed.  His love is for the other.  His love pushes through the embarrassment and the inconvenience and the self-consciousness, and focusses on the other.   Jesus’ love is mature and strong and other-directed.  His love is constant.  His love shares.  His love looks out for the other.  His love is tough and strong and real.  And that is how we are to love.  “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
          Such love does not come easily.  It takes work.  Just like gaining proficiency in a sport takes work, and learning calculus or another language takes work, or building a business takes work, or just about any significant accomplishment takes work, so loving one another is work. 
          This is why in our first reading we heard: “They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
"It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”   
          It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.   What kind of encouragement is that?   Does it make you want to sign up right away?  Wow, this is going to be difficult, with many hardships!   I can hardly wait! 
          Well, it is honest.  It is truthful.  Our nature is lazy and self-centered and stingy.  Loving one another is fine when it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy.  But loving one another goes against the grain when it requires work, and sacrifice, and persistent commitment.  Yes, it IS necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.  God’s Kingdom ain’t for sissies.
          It is hard.  But it is worth it.  And you and I, all of us here, are invited into this wonderful Kingdom.  How do we get there?  The Gospel today tells us.  Love one another. 
          That is something all of us can do.  If you are rich or poor;  if you are man or woman;  if you are black or white or brown or green;  if you are straight or gay or confused;  if you are native-born or immigrant;  if you are Republican or Democrat or Independent;  if you are Longhorn or Aggie;  if you are brilliant or very, very  simple;  it does not matter.  You can keep this commandment of Jesus to love.  Love one another. 
          Jesus tells us this is a new commandment.  It is not new in the sense of never being heard before.  Rather, it is new instead in terms of its radical centrality, its import, its place as the essence of Jesus’ teaching.   Love one another.
          And this new commandment, simple yet profound, begins to usher in God’s Kingdom here on earth, now in this time.  This commandment - in its effect and centrality - is new.  
          We are given a vision of that newness, that fresh start this new commandment ushers in in the second reading today from the Book of Revelations:
"Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away.”
The One who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new.” 
          And that newness is the commandment to love one another.   AMEN.