Altar Egeaux

Monday, July 27, 2009


I’ve noticed that often, when attending a class or training session of some kind, the professor or instructor will begin the class by asking the students what they expect to get out of the class or training session. What is it, going in, that we expect to take with us?

Perhaps some of us here today might be season ticket holders for the Saints, or the Hornets, or the Zephyrs. As we are purchasing our tickets, what are our expectations? We might expect to see our teams win most of their games.

Did you ever go to see a movie, and when asked about it afterward reply, “Well, it wasn’t what I expected.”


Our Gospel reading today tells us that a crowd of more than 5000 followed Jesus. As he crossed the lake in a boat, they hurried around on foot to be there when he arrived on the other shore. Can you imagine if someone left Metairie in a small sailboat heading to Mandeville and a crowd of 5000 people hurried, on foot, around Lake Pontchartrain to be there when it arrived?

Why were these people following Jesus? What were their expectations? Some, as we are told in the Gospel, have heard that Jesus is a miracle worker, and expect to see a miracle for themselves. Others, perhaps, have heard that he is a powerful preacher, and expect to hear words of wisdom when he speaks. Still others might follow just to see what the “hubbub” is about, with no particular expectations other than to have their curiosity satisfied.

As it turns out, those whose expectation included seeing a miracle were not disappointed. We read about how Jesus fed the 5000 with only five barley loaves and 2 fish, and afterward twelve wicker baskets of leftover “fragments” were collected. I can’t help but wonder, though, if I had been there, even expecting some sort of miracle, had I not been paying attention would I have missed it? Would I have realized that a mere five loaves of bread and 2 fish had fed such a vast multitude?


What are our expectations when we come to Mass each week? Do we expect to encounter a miracle? Do we expect to hear words of wisdom? Or do we just come along, like always, because “it’s what we’re supposed to do”?

Standing in the back of church before Mass, I couldn’t help but look at the beautiful stained glass windows over the altar, and at the high, arched ceiling overhead. Many churches are built in this fashion. But do we ever stop and wonder why?

The beautiful windows and high ceilings are intended to draw us out of ourselves, to draw our attention “upward” to God, the almighty, the awesome creator of everything that is. It is our feeble human attempt to move us, focus us, and propel us up, away from and above ourselves as we worship the Lord.

Yes, we are gathered, not only as a community, but as a community united in WORSHIP of this awesome, almighty God. We worship Him with songs, and prayers, and attitude, and action! We worship Him, who came down to us, who humbled Himself to be born a man, who we then tortured and killed on a cross. We worship Him, who rose from the dead, and now present on the altar, provides us with spiritual nourishment, and seeks to guide us ever upward to our Father in heaven!

As Catholics we “know” that a miracle does, indeed, take place. We know that Jesus Christ becomes truly present on the altar. But are we paying attention? Are we aware of the miracle that has taken place? Do we receive Him with the respect and attention that He deserves?

And when we receive Him, we truly become one Body in Christ. And as Catholics, as Christians, we are obligated to share that body, to BE Christ to those around us.

As Jesus said in the Gospel today, “gather all the fragments together so that nothing is wasted.” I submit to you that the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the helpless in our city, in our society, these are the “fragments” that WE must gather to ensure that they are not wasted! It is our duty to care for them, to be Christ for them, in whatever manner we are able, be it through prayer, or with charitable donations of money, or food, or clothing.

We will return to Mass next week, and the week after, and the week after that. What will be our expectations? Will we expect to see a miracle? Will we pay attention to that miracle? Will we share that miracle with others?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Homily for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

My wife and I moved to New Orleans 24 years ago via New York, Rhode Island, California, Florida and South Carolina. When we first arrived, we had a lot to learn about living in New Orleans. We learned to say “New Or-le-uns”, or “N’Awlins” and not “New Or-leens”. We learned that the people who live in Algiers are “Algerines”, not “Algierians.” We learned about “banquets” and “neutral grounds” and we learned about Mardi Gras. You always step on the doubloon before you pick it up!

All these things we learned and finally took to heart by watching and imitating those around us, and by practice. Now we meet people who think we’re actually from New Orleans, and not “Damn Yankees” that “came for a visit and never left!”

Life is like that. We find ourselves constantly imitating, watching, learning, practicing. Some of you probably played, or are now playing, sports in school. To become skilled you had to imitate those athletes who were ahead of you, and practice your skills to get better yourself. Dance, another popular pastime in New Orleans judging from all the dance schools that abound, is the same way. To become a good dancer you watch, imitate and practice.

“Practice makes perfect.”

As Catholics, when we “practice” our faith we are called to love our neighbor.

In St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians he commends them for the manner in which they imitated him and his followers who had come among them to live and spread the Gospel message. He praised them for “casting aside” their pagan ways and taking on the way of Christ, living as he and his followers had lived when they were among them. St. Paul and his followers were imitation Jesus, and now the Thessalonians, by imitating St. Paul were also imitating Jesus.

We, too, are called to be imitators, of Paul, of Jesus, of the Thessalonians. Like the Thessalonians we have to “cast aside” our own pagan ways, our “false gods”. We have to reprioritize our lives, with God first, rather than power, money, popularity, possessions.

How can we imitate Jesus? We imitate him by following his commandments. In our Gospel reading today, a Pharisee asked Jesus which commandment of the Law was the greatest. When we Christians think of commandments, we probably think “ten”. We’re most familiar with the ten commandments. But the Jews had 613 commandments! So the Pharisee was asking not which of the ten, but rather which of the 613 commandments was the greatest. And of course we hear Jesus answer that the greatest is to “Love God with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds”. And he adds to this to “love our neighbor as ourselves”. If we truly follow these commandments then the rest will fall into place.

Who is our neighbor, and how do we love him? Well, my house number is 524, so my neighbors would be 520 and 526, and maybe across the street at 523 and 525? Of course not! Our first reading gives us a clue. God tells the Israelites to care for the “aliens” in their country, and for the widows and orphans. They are to care for those who are outcast, who are in need, who are suffering and persecuted. These are our neighbors. Not just family, friends, the people on our block. We are called to seek out and assist in whatever way we are able those who can’t help themselves. This is how we “love our neighbor”. This is how we imitate Christ. This is how we “practice” our faith.

And why is it so important that we do this? Why should we be imitators of Christ? Why should we practice our faith? Because our God is a covenant God. He made a coventant through Moses with the Israelites. In that covenant he promised to lead them out of slavery to the “holy land”. And he keeps his promises. He did lead the Israelites to the holy land. And now he has made a new covenant. He made a covenant through Jesus with us. And in this covenant he has promised to bring us to the eternal holy land, to heaven itself! THAT is why it is so important to imitate Christ, to follow his commandments, to “practice our faith”!

But, in order to practice our faith, it’s important to know what that faith is. It is important to know what being “Catholic” stands for. We, as a worshiping people, make up the Church that Christ founded with Peter, and we are the body of that Church, with Christ our Lord as its head. We know that when the priest says the words of consecration at the altar, the awesome power of God, through the Holy Spirit, transforms the ordinary bread and wine into the real Body and Blood of our Lord so that he is present totally with us, as present as if he were sitting right here in one of the pews. He “has NOT left us orphans”.

There are many ways that we can show love of neighbor, beginning right here in our parish. I would like to suggest a few. Perhaps we might find time to join the Men’s Club or the K of C, worthy organizations that do much good work in our parish and our communities. Or maybe we could increase our spiritual lives through organizations like the Third Order of Mary, or Nucleus. Our Youth Group can always use new members, and new adult sponsors. Or, you might like to help pass on the faith by teaching a CCD class, or some other form of religious instruction. Maybe we would like to increase our personal knowledge of our faith through a bible study or prayer group. These are all wonderful “starting” points as we begin to try to be better imitators of St. Paul and of Christ, as we try to be better practicing Catholics.

As we approach the altar today to receive the precious Body and Blood of our Lord, be mindful of the statue of Christ crucified. It represents perfect love, perfect sacrifice. It represents the ideal to which we should all aspire. Christ is perfect love. The more we imitate Christ, the more perfect becomes our ability to love.

And when we leave church today, as we go out into “the world”, we should keep in mind that it is our duty to be “practicing Catholics” not just today, but tomorrow, and Tuesday, and Wednesday… Every day we are called to live our faith, loving all we come into contact with. We have to practice our faith daily. “Practice makes perfect.” – God bless you all!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


If you are like me, you may be related to someone, know someone, or have heard of someone who was Catholic, but no longer attends a Catholic church. Perhaps they’ve moved on to mainstream Protestantism (Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist) or even to some of the other more Fundamentalist, or Non-denominational Christian churches.

If we ask these persons why they left, we often get the usual answers, “I don’t get anything out of Mass” (did you put anything in?), or “I really enjoy the music and enthusiasm of my new church”, or “It doesn’t really matter where I go, they’re pretty much all the same.”

I can’t help but wonder, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, if perhaps the real underlying reason is that they just don’t get it. They don’t understand, or don’t believe, that Jesus Christ is TRULY PRESENT in the Eucharist. This is central to our Catholic faith. It is what separates us from our Christian brethren. It is what we, as Catholics know, through our eyes of faith, and in our hearts, know to be true.

And why is it so difficult to believe? Don’t we believe, all of us who call ourselves Christians, that Jesus Christ was crucified, died and was buried. And don’t we all believe that He rose again from the dead and ascended into heaven? If we believe that He was able to do that, then why is it so difficult to believe that He can’t change bread and wine into His Body and Blood?

In our Gospel reading today (John 6:51 – 58) Jesus speaks very clearly about Him being the “living bread that came down from heaven”, and that “whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

We are told that the Jews were not too happy with this and questioned what Jesus was saying. What a perfect time for Him to have said, “Now wait, just hold on! Calm down, calm down! I’m only speaking metaphorically here.” But you know what? He didn’t! Instead He reiterated what He had said. He said that His “flesh is TRUE FOOD” and His “blood is TRUE DRINK”. He also clearly states that it is necessary to eat His body and drink His blood in order to have eternal life.

It is in eating His precious Body and drinking His precious Blood that we, as Catholics, are TRULY UNITED with Christ. He is in us, and WE ARE IN HIM. We become the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church.

When we eat His Body and drink His Blood, Christ lives within us and, hopefully, through us. We, united with Him, should let His light shine through us, through our lives, and how we love and care for those around us.

Normally when I preach I suggest some acts of Christian charity for the following week. This week, however, I would like to suggest that we pray. I am suggesting that we pray especially for those fallen away Catholics who we know, and those that we don’t, that they will come to understand and believe in the Real Presence of Our Lord and Savior in the Holy Eucharist. I am suggesting, too, that we pray for those who still call themselves Catholic but who may be struggling with the Real Presence, that they, also, will come to know and believe in His presence with us, and within us. And finally, I suggest that we pray for ourselves, that united in our faith and belief in the Real Presence of Christ among us, our knowledge of and love for Jesus will grow, mature, and blossom so that His light within us will truly shine.

May God bless you! ( He does, I know!!)

Sunday, April 27, 2008


It's articles like THIS and THIS and THIS that really "chap my ass!!" if you'll forgive the expression.

**Update** - I referred to Dan Barry, the NYT columnist as Dave Barry, the Miami humorist. H/T to Ellen, who caught the error over on LOT(L)!)

It's hard enough to be a good, devout, and OBEDIENT Catholic these days, without the likes of Dave Barry, Rudy Giuliani or Nancy Pelosi making it even MORE difficult.

Mr. Barry speaks of his troubles as an "American Catholic" connecting with Pope Benedict, or anything that comes out of Rome. Giuliani and Pelosi made a scandalous mockery of the Church's clear stand on the reception of the Eucharist by public officials who openly endorse abortion.

It got me to thinking. We speak, almost jokingly, about "cafeteria Catholics" or "C&E (Christmas and Easter) Catholics" as if it's really OK. Well, it's NOT OK! If we want to be Catholic, if we want to call ourselves Catholic, then we need to step up to the plate. We're NOT American Catholics. We are Americans who are Roman Catholic. If you think otherwise, then go join the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Fundamentalist or any other Christian church. Because, if you don't believe that Jesus Christ is TRULY present in the Eucharist, if you don't believe that the Pope and bishops are the successors of Peter and the other Apostles, if you don't believe that when our Lord said, "If YOU love ME (emphasis mine - DcnDn) you will keep my commandments" that he meant ALL of them, then you should stop calling yourself a Catholic, and STOP giving non-Catholics a skewed impression of what Catholicism is all about!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter

Have you attended a sporting event, such as football, and during the last period or quarter, with your team well behind and defeat seeming a near certainty? And did you notice so many of the fans leaving the game early, already feeling the defeat and heading home? But on the rare occasion, the following morning it turns out your team had come from behind and won the game?

That's what came to mind as I read today's Gospel about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They had been in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified and buried. Now they were headed home defeated, confused, wondering what had gone wrong. They were returning to their old lives now that this Jesus, powerful prophet that he had been, had turned out to not be the expected Messiah.

Then the Gospel tells us how Jesus appeared to them as they walked, but they didn't recognize him. As they talked He "opened" the words of Scripture to them, explaining everything and showing how the Scriptures were fulfilled in Him. His words, as they would recall, caused a "burning" in their hearts.

Later, when Jesus "broke bread" with them that they recognized Him.

We have much in common with those two disciples. We are also disciples of Jesus, as we show by being here in church today. And when we leave today we head out to journey on our own private "roads to Emmaus" where ever our journey takes us.

Like the disciples we, too, will encounter Jesus on our journey and, like them, we will probably not recognize Him. We won't recognize him in those around us who are hurting or broken, who are in need, but who we don't take the time to minister to.

Jesus could be present in the person at the office who is suffering from the loss of a loved one, or perhaps of a broken relationship, and who needs a shoulder to lean on, or an ear to just listen.

Jesus is present in the homeless and hungry that we pass by with a blind eye every day.

As with the disciples, Jesus is present to us today in the Word we heard. But do our hearts BURN?!? Have we been attentive to that Word? Have we truly listened?

Will we recognize Him, as the disciples did, at the moment of consecration, at the "breaking of the bread"? Are our hearts and minds open to the wonder and awe that is His presence truly with us?

Our challenge as we leave today is to see Christ where ever we find ourselves on our road to Emmaus.

Our challenge is to greet Christ where ever we find ourselves on our road to Emmaus.

Our challenge is to BE Christ where ever we find ourselves on our road to Emmaus.

As we approach the altar to receive His precious body and blood reflect, if you will, on the crucifix. Our Lord's crucified body is NOT a symbol of defeat! Rather, it is a reminder that it is through His death AND glorious resurrection we have received the gift of eternal life, our hope of eternal salvation!

Finally, as we leave today and once again continue on our journey, remember that the "game" doesn't end here. We must ask ourselves, "Can we... Do we... WILL we remain faithful to our Lord as we encounter Him on our road to Emmaus?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Lent

In the past few years I've become a little hard of hearing. It's reached the point that when Linda and I go out to eat, I make sure she sits to the right of me so that I can hear what she says. It's also become difficult to hear clearly if there is a lot of background noise. I find that I have to listen very carefully to understand what is being said. Unfortunately, I often find myself nodding and smiling and completely missing the conversation.

Perhaps some of my problem stems from being a "guy". I think one of the biggest complaints you'll hear from women is that their men never listen, or never hear what they are saying.

But what about our conversations with God? If listening with our ears isn't our strong suit, how are we at listening with our hearts?

As people of faith we are constantly being called to listen to God.

Today's Gospel reading is the familiar story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. It is, I believe, a story of hearing, listening, and being sent.

Jesus arrives at midday, and finds a Samaritan woman there drawing water from the well. It is a time when women would not normally be at the well. Jesus is confronted by two obstacles. Normally a Jewish man would not have spoken to the woman because one, she was a woman, and two, she was a Samaritan.

Jesus, however, does initiate a conversation with the woman, asking her for some water to drink. She responds with not a little bit of sarcasm, asking how it is that a Jew would ask her, a Samaritan, for a drink.

Jesus goes on to tell her that if she knew who he was, she would not be giving him a drink, she would, rather, be asking him for a drink of "living water".

She again responds with some sarcasm, but prefaces it with a little bit of respect. "Sir, where will you get this water... are you greater than our father, Jacob"? She is hearing him, but not yet listening to him. While his focus has shifted to himself as the living water of salvation, hers remains on the water in the well.

She next asks for the living water so that she might no longer have to keep returning to the well. She is still focused on physical water. But what happens next finally opens her eyes. Jesus tells her to go and get her husband, to which she replies, "I have no husband." Jesus responds that it is true that she has no husband, that she had FIVE husbands, and the one she was with now was not her husband!

The Samaritan woman now thinks Jesus is a prophet, and ultimately comes to believe that he might even be the Christ, the Messiah who even the Samaritans were aware of. She became compelled to return to her village to spread the news of this man who might be the Christ.

We are, in many ways, like both Jesus and the woman of this story. A Jewish man would normally not have spoken to a Samaritan woman because 1)she was a woman, and 2)she was a Samaritan. Jesus, however, transcended those barriers and initiated the conversation with the woman. His message of salvation will go beyond the Jews, and be extended to all God's people, Gentile and even Samaritan!

Through our baptism we are united with Jesus as brothers and sisters. We are called, therefore, to carry God's love to ALL our neighbors regardless of race, color, religion or social status.

Like the Samaritan woman we all gather around our own particular "wells" in our lives. God is there, speaking to us, inviting us to be ever closer to him. Do we hear him? Do we, like the Samaritan woman ask if He is greater than our gods? Greater even than the god of Power, or Wealth, or Video Games, or other pleasures? When we lose our focus on God because we are focusing on these other things, we are saying, in effect, that God is NOT as great, that He doesn't deserve our attention, our love. We have put God on the back burner. We don't hear, and can't listen.

We're now halfway through Lent, and still have halfway to go. Lent is a gift from God. A time when we can get some quiet time in our lives, time to hear God if we listen carefully enough. God speaks not only to our mind and ear, but to our heart, and it is our heart to which we should be listening. What is God saying to us? What is He asking of us? How will we respond?

These next three weeks are an opportunity for us to hear, to listen and to respond to God. We can make a conscious effort to be aware of others, and to not be judgmental. We can make a conscious effort to put God FIRST in our lives, to understand that through loving God and doing His will we will find the "living water" that promises ETERNAL happiness, not the fleeting happiness that our fixation with immediate self-gratification provides.

As we approach the altar preparing to receive our Lord's REAL body and REAL blood we should recall the words that we spoke, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." It is true. We are NOT worthy,and never will be! But all God asks is that we listen, and we try to do better.

God speaks to us always, and everywhere. He speaks to us in the sound of the birds singing, and the wind rustling the leaves of the trees. He speaks to us in the love of a parent for a child, and the love of family and friends. He speaks to us when we are faced with opportunities to serve our church family. He speaks to us in the homeless man or woman who we will encounter on the streets this week. And He speaks to us in His gift of His Son in the Eucharist!

Do we hear Him? Are we Listening to Him? Will we Respond to Him?

God Bless!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Homily for 3rd Sunday in OT

Here in New Orleans, as in many parts of the US and the world, sports plays a big part in our lives. We have a professional football team and basketball team, an arena football team, a minor league baseball team, not to mention all the college and prep teams we love to follow.

In order to play these sports, or even to watch and enjoy them to the fullest, we have to understand the rules of the sport. If we, as players, don't understand the rules of the sport, we find ourselves making mistakes that cause penalties for ourselves or our team.

As spectators, knowing the rules allows us better understanding as to what is going on as we observe the game. We can follow the action more thoroughly and gain greater enjoyment of what is going on.

Even when we amuse ourselves with board games, card games, video games, etc., we are more successful and get more enjoyment from those games when we understand and follow the rules.

Rules are obviously a large part of our lives. We live by rules, at home, at work, and in between. Observance of these rules makes life easier for us, as well as for those around us.

As Catholic Christians we are called to know, understand, and follow the rules and guidelines provided to us and for us by our Church.

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus calls Simon and Andrew, and James and John to be the first of his disciples. He preaches and teaches of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the need for repentance.

But, what is repentance, and why were his disciples in need of it?

Simply put, repentance is acknowledging regret or sorrow for sin, or wrongdoing, and resolving to the best of one's ability to not commit those sins again.

So how were the people to know when they had sinned? They had rules. They had the 10 commandments, given to them, from God, by Moses. They had the "2 greatest commandments", to "Love God, and Love Neighbor". They had the Hebrew Law, given to them by their ancestors to help them better fulfill the call to Love God and to Love Neighbor. It was the failure to observe these rules and laws for which repentance was necessary.

Ultimately, as the followers of, and believers in Jesus, it was any failure to love and care for their neighbor that was cause for repentance.

For us, as Christians, this call to love, and care for, our neighbor is ours by virtue of our baptism. It is not an easy calling, for not everyone is easy to love. Yet we ARE called to love EVERYONE, regardless of their race, sex, nationality, or station in life.

Christ, and our Mother Church provide us with the tools we need to accomplish our calling. Through Christ, and within the Church, we are given the Sacraments. Outward signs that give us the graces we need, the spiritual sustenance, the strength to truly love God and our neighbor, day in and day out.

The problem we encounter, as did the Christians in Corinth, is that our daily lives are filled with "stuff" that threatens to sway us from what we know in our hearts is right. We are constantly bombarded on all fronts with anti-Catholic, anti-Christian attitudes, with immorality posing as normalcy, and countless other impediments to moral and ethical Christian living.

Our duty, as Catholics, is to take up our crosses and stand against the onslaught of our society. Christ, and our Mother Church provide us with life rules that, when followed, help us to stay focused on our mission, our calling, to make achievement of our calling, and resistance to the tempations of our world, easier, more attainable.

Our duty, as Catholics is to prepare ourselves, to "gird ourselves for battle". We do this be being true to our faith. We do this by knowing what our faith is, what it means to be Catholic. We do this by being faithful to our Church's teachings, to make a real effort to understand the depth and reasoning of the teachings, especially those that we may find difficult, due to our lack of understanding, to accept.

And, it is our duty, as Catholics, to be obedient to those teachings, even as we question them, while seeking understanding and ever deepening faith. It is our duty to be a unified community of believers, to be one body, one spirit, grounded in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Lent is now less than two weeks away. Traditionally we make Lenten resolutions, "rules" if you will, that will hopefully enable us to grow spiritually. Normally we do this by denying ourselves of something for the duration of the Lenten season.

Perhaps this Lenten season our resolutions can be of a more positive nature. Perhaps we could resolve to accomplish something postive in our lives. We can resolve to learn more about our Catholic faith perhaps by joining a bible study, or obtaining a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and reading it, with a view to understanding better the faith we live. We can resolve to do something that increases faith, perhaps attending daily Mass, or increasing our daily prayer time. We can resolve to attend the Stations of the Cross during Lent. How about inviting a friend to/back to church?

And, if you still want to give something up for Lent, try observing the “rules” of fasting every Wednesday & Friday during Lent, not just Ash Wednesday and Fridays.

Jesus Christ IS the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. The crucifix is a symbol of UNITY, a symbol if humility, a symbol of COMMITMENT, a symbol of LOVE.

As we work our way through the bacchanalia of Carnival, and begin preparations for a Lenten season, let us remember that humility and obedience are not signs of weakness, but are rather, in the hands of faithful, dedicated Christians, instruments of strength, bringing Faith, Hope and Love to those around us... Our Neighbors. GOD BLESS YOU!!!