Christ amid the Uncertainties of Life — Sunday Homily

Delivered at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, but only for the Vigil Mass, as the Deacons are preaching on Sunday:

There is an ancient Chinese proverb, that in reality is probably more like a curse than anything: ‘May you live in interesting times.’

It seems that the more ‘interesting’ the times, the more restless the spirit. We become more anymore anxious as the calm serenity we desire in the world fades further and further from the current situation.

As I look around our world today, it seems that we do indeed live in very ‘interesting’ times, do we not? Listening to a podcast earlier this week, the commentator argued that the ‘global hate index’ has only seemed to grow higher and higher over the last years. We have a global war on terror, we have increased rioting in streets, natural disasters, the political world seems to be more interesting in having a bully pulpit rather than civil debates about actual issues that need to be solved and addressed.

It makes me look at the world and think: ‘Where are we truly going?’

But then I also realize all that angst that exists out in the world, affects the Church as well; impacts our relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church, too. With everything ‘out there’ being in such chaos, it is natural to translate that into what we do ‘in here,’ too. How can Jesus remain the same when everything we know is in constant flux?

How are we as Catholic Christians to react? This question and thought has been on my mind for some time. How do we handle the chaos and uncertainty of this world? If we truly believe that Jesus is the victor at the end of time, what are we to do?

As I pondered all of this…  Stuff…. over the last week, I looked at the Opening Collect, the Opening Prayer for Mass today, and I would like to read it again, maybe a little slower:

O God, who cause the minds of the faithful

to unite in a single purpose,

grant your people to love what you command

and to desire what you promise,

that, amid the uncertainties of this world,

our hearts may be fixed on that place

where true gladness is found.

Through our Lord…

Let’s take a look at that line by line:

‘Who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose’

In John 17, Jesus prays that we might all be one as He and The Father are One. When we unite in Christ Jesus, we unite in that inter play of relationship between Jesus and the Father, through the Holy Spirit. And a Church bounded together in them is unbreakable; is able to take on the the chaos of the world that we find ourselves in.

‘Grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise’

If we want to seek that true happiness and peace that is our deepest desire, it is only available to us by living in right relationship with Jesus. His commands (and by extension the commands of the Church) do not trap nor ensnare, they bring us to a greater and deeper freedom! And by living in Jesus, we come to desire Him even more!  Nothing compares to the Love of Christ Jesus!

‘Amid the uncertainties of this world’

Psalm 146:3 states ‘put no trust in princes, in children of Adam powerless to save.’ Perhaps this is the greatest source of our anxiety and turmoil in this world: instead of relying on the God of the Universe, we rely on political machinations, we rely on the strength of the self, we rely on the powers of this world, to solve our problems and issues; instead of bringing them to Jesus in prayer, in trust, in love. When we dwell in Jesus Christ, the uncertainties of this world are no more than water flowing off a duck’s back.

‘Our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.’

As Catholics, as Christians, our destiny is not here in this world, but in the glory that awaits in heaven. The good things of this world reflect and help us to keep our eyes fixed on that prize, but we can only get there through Jesus Christ. He alone is the one we are to put trust in, for He alone is the Faithful and True God! He alone is able to calm the storms of our lives and bring us that peace that is found in the depth our hearts and souls.

Therefore, when we look out and see storms, waves, chaos and uncertainty; we turn to cling more faithfully to Jesus and to the Church that He gave us to guide our way back to Him. Then, and only then, are we able to rise above the storms of this world and triumph in Him; and despite the interesting times that we find ourselves in, are we able to keep that peace and serenity that comes solely from Christ Jesus Our Lord!

Faith: the Realization of Things Hoped – Sunday Homily

Delivered at St. John Neumann for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time:

It is good to be back, I’ve been traveling a bunch lately, and I am totally conferenced out, but have a lot of things to think and pray about that I’ve received over the last three or so weeks.

Of particular note, the second reading today really struck a chord with what I have been doing over the last few weeks. “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it, the ancients were well attested.”

Because of their faith, the ancient patriarchs and prophets are well regarded in terms of the history of Israel, and there in terms of the history of salvation. Especially with the conference (the Evangelical Training Camp) I attended this last week, it struck me that not only I, but I think all of us, could use a strengthening of faith.

In this section of the letter to the Hebrews, the author holds up Abraham as the example of faith which we should all follow. In fact, he not only holds him up once, but four times and for for different reasons:

  1. For going forth from his homeland of Ur to embark for the Promised Land.
  2. For traveling through the Promised Land and not yet putting down roots.
  3. For trusting in God when promised that he would be given a son.
  4. For offering that son, even when it seemed to go against every promise that God had made up to that point.

A few things that strike me in this whole process:

  1. Faith seems to be refined and purified in suffering, even in the Old Testament. All four things that the author holds up in regards to Abraham are moments of suffering or trial; moments that he generally passes and rises to the occasion.
  2. Ultimately, this suffering and purification leads to perfection in Christ; each step along the way, God brought Abraham closer to his ultimate goal: becoming the father of many nations; despite the seeming obstacles that were all around him.
  3. However, while this purification leads to perfection, that perfection is not attained on this earth, nor are we perfected and then called forward. Rather, we are called forward and then perfected by replying to God’s call!
    1. (What you do not see in this list of Abraham’s many victories in his discipleship of God are his many failures along the way as well. In fact, for each of the things where the Author of the Letter to Hebrews holds up as an example of faith, you could list at least one, if not multiple moments of failure!)
      1. Abraham was told to go forth only with his wife Sarah, but he brings along his nephew Lot and his family, as well as his father in law, too! He’s always got this security blanket…

So, how do we, in 2016, grow in faith? We are not being called out from our homeland nor to be the father or mother of many nations, etc. What can we do?

(I’m big on lists today!)

  1. Recommit our lives to Jesus Christ, again, today. And to renew that commitment frequently. To truly trust that what God did in Abraham, He can truly do in you, too!
  2. Pray! To spend time in daily prayer, even just for five, ten, fifteen minutes a day; either alone, with your spouse, or with your family, with friends. Reading the Scripture, spending time trying to listen to God’s invitation that is coming to you. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a great way to hear Jesus speaking to you and conforming your heart to His.
  3. Finally, witness to your faith in Jesus to others. Pray for the people you meet throughout the day: family, coworkers, strangers, even the clerk at the grocery store!

And finally, one thing that marks all that Abraham did, one thing that marks every saint that has followed Jesus; they were not afraid to say Yes to Jesus.

What question is Jesus asking of you and how is He inviting you to say ‘Yes!’ to him?

Continuing Education – Bulletin Column

I am ‘conventioning’ this week and next:

It seems that no matter the profession, there is one constant that covers everyone: continuing education. I am away this weekend for a conference and will be gone again the first week of August for another conference.

This weekend, I am attending the annual Courage National Conference in Washington, DC. As I have talked about previously, Courage is an apostolate for those who experience same sex attraction and are seeking to live within the bounds and practices of the Catholic Church. It is a somber gathering, as the participants who come know that they need the grace, power and mercy of Christ. Yet, it is a gathering filled with hope. Hope that the power of Christ will conquer that which separates us from Him and from one another. Hope that our own past mistakes do not determine our future outcomes. Hope that together we can find the freedom that comes in being a son or daughter of God.

If you could, please offer a prayer for my fellow priest chaplains that we might be good images of the Heavenly Father who has granted us this ministry; for the participants that they can feel the grace and power of the forgiveness of Christ; and for the family members who attend that they can see where God is in the midst of a sometimes difficult situation.

I will be back in the parishes for a few days before heading out to a much different conference: the Evangelical Catholic Conference which is being held in Illinois outside of St. Louis. This will be my first time going, but I am also greatly looking forward to it.

As a side note: I am going at the invitation of Archbishop Schnurr; as the whole central offices of the Archdiocese will be attending the conference together. There were a few available slots, one of which was assigned to me.

Built mainly as a training tool for college students to reach out to their peers in one on one discipleship, ‘Evangelical Catholic’ are now branching out to train parishes how to becomes schools of discipleship. I have been placed in this track, which I hope will be a good next level to build upon what I learned during my sabbatical with NET last fall.

I look forward to reporting to you all more on what I learn in the near future.

Over the next two weeks, staff members will be covering this space to give updates on youth ministry efforts in the parishes and a quick synopsis of the business aspects of the parishes as well.

Please know of my prayers for you in my absence, and I humbly ask for your prayers as well!

God Bless

Fr. Kyle Schnippel

Pastor