Father George William Rutler Homilies
2019-09-22 - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-09-22 - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 22, 2019

22 September 2019

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 8:16-18 + Homily

19 Minutes 40 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092319.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  As with quotations that are variously attributed, journalists including Charles Anderson Dana of the “New York Tribune” and John B. Bogart of the “New York Sun” are said to have coined the aphorism: “‘Dog bites man’ does not make the news, but ‘Man bites dog’ does.” Human nature is fascinated by what is exceptional and scandalous. But “skandalon” really means more than that. It is a “stumbling block” that trips up the way mere mortals think things are supposed to be.  

   Theologically, there is the “Scandal of Particularity.” It has two aspects. First is the doctrine that the Creator of the universe has solicitude for every minute detail of it, even every sparrow and each hair on your head (cf. Matt. 10:29). This has ramifications even in mathematics where the “Chaos Theory” proposes a “Butterfly Effect,” meaning that something as slight as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in New Delhi might cause a hurricane in New York. So too it is with people.

   Every human action can have consequences beyond fathoming. There is the prime example of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, that started a domino effect leading to the First World War. His chauffeur spoke only Czech and did not understand the orders of German security officers to follow a route safe from assassins. So he drove according to the original plan and came within feet of a radical Bosnian who had not expected such luck. It might be said that 17 million people eventually died because one man took a wrong turn.

   The second part of the Scandal of Particularity is the acknowledgement that Christ, whose divine nature has no beginning or end, came to our small planet with a human nature as the unique savior from sin and death. “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2a). His divine nature enables him to see “the big picture” while his human nature involves him in the minutest details of ordinary life. If this is scandalous, it is because presently we are limited to categories of time and space, and we find it hard to think of importance without being overwhelmed by size and power.

   In another quotation variously attributed, Stalin is said to have remarked: “The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of a million men is a statistic.” The same dictator mockingly asked, “How many divisions does the Pope have?” He knows now – though a bit too late. But the biggest scandal of all to the limited mind, and so bold that it is refreshing when it expands the mind, is the Lord’s declaration: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father apart from me” (John 14:6).

 

2019-09-15 - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-09-15 - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 15, 2019

15 September 2019

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 15:1-32 + Homily

18 Minutes 44 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091519.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  From time to time someone will remark that our national flag hanging from the choir loft appears to be faded. It is actually in good condition, but the white stripes are printed with the names of those who were killed in the attack on our nation on September 11, 2001. Hardly anyone in our parish was not affected by that, one way or another. When offering Mass this past week for the dead, I remembered how, as people panicked in a stalled subway from Brooklyn when the electricity failed and smoke filled the passageways, a blind man guided them to the exit. During his life he had learned to manage without the light of day.

   Christ is the original Light of the world, uncreated, and from whom all earthly light proceeds. Without Christ, the intellect darkens, and this moral myopia is the affliction of our present time. Celebrities illuminated by stage lights can utter some of the darkest blasphemies against human dignity. Professors who think of themselves as “bright” can obscure the logic of their students. When the lights of truth go out, and the corridors of civilization fill with the smoke of Satan, the only sure guides are the prophets and saints. 

   In saying that the blind will lead the blind into a ditch (Luke 6:39), Christ was referring to the morally blind, and not the physically blind, as depicted poignantly in that painting by Pieter Bruegel. The contemporary term “Fake News” does indeed expose the tendency of prejudiced opinion to conceal the Light of Truth. 

   This week the Church celebrates the life of Saint Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), a man of superior intellect, though his mental brightness was not flawless. Most conspicuously, he made the mistake of rejecting the heliocentric theory of the priest Copernicus and his friend Galileo. The philosopher of science, Karl Popper, and Pierre Duhem before him, cut him some slack by arguing that the saint objected to presenting a hypothesis as an irrefutable conclusion.

   But Bellarmine’s real business was to lead people out of temporal darkness into eternal light. This he did by his theological learning and commentary on culture, including his exposure of the fallacy of the divine right of kings (or what we might call government absolutism), but above all by his dictum: “Charity is that with which no man is lost, and without which no man is saved.”

   In garishly bright city streets filled with people in danger of moral meanderings, each church is meant to be a beacon that saves people from falling into the ditch. The Vigil Lamp before the parish altar may seem frail, and its flame small, but it is a flickering reminder that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

2019-09-08 - 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-09-08 - 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 8, 2019

8 September 2019

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 14:25-33 + Homily

14 Minutes 53 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090819.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

   It is gratifying each week to hear from many friends of the parish across our country and abroad, bringing to mind the words of John Wesley: “The whole world is my parish.” That can be said ever more fervently by any pastor, for each parish is a microcosm of the ecclesiastical presence of the Body of Christ on every continent, as it bears witness to the Universal Faith that makes the Church “katholikos.”

   So distant readers will indulge some reflections on our local parish scene, as the summer draws to a close. These past months were something of a surprise in that there seemed to be no significant slowdown in parish life. While many of our own people did travel outside the city, which is no little adventure for Manhattanites, we had many national and international visitors. Because the social media have made our world a “global village,” it seemed that most visitors were not strangers, and many were already familiar with life here. We have an increasing number of tourists stopping in at the church—almost constantly—and this may in part be due to the renovations and installations of art completed during the summer. We must make an effort to welcome our visitors and help them to learn more about the parish.

   Our church already has one foot in the Heavenly City, where there are no seasons, at least in the sense that we have no air conditioning. (Our heating system is not always reliable either, and I have occasionally warmed my hands over the thurible on winter days when there was no heat at all.) This summer we had some brutal hot spells, and one Sunday the city issued a health advisory cautioning the frail and elderly against going outdoors. That was the first time in memory that we eliminated the homily at the Masses, and I had the impression that no one objected. But I was impressed as well at the numbers of people who came stoically on humid days and indeed in good spirits—just as in past winters there was patience when heavy clothing was needed. Here in “Hell’s Kitchen” we are a durable people.

   This Sunday, September 8, is the 38th anniversary of my priestly ordination. It was a simple ceremony in the cathedral’s Lady Chapel. The three prelates who were at the altar with me on that day, including Cardinal Cooke, are no longer in this world, but they are invoked at each Mass, along with all those who since the middle of the nineteenth century have been part of this parish, which now enters challenging and promising times. “Memento, Domine, famulorum, famularumque tuarum et omnium circumstantium, quorum tibi fides cognita est et nota devotio . . . Remember, O Lord, Thy servants and handmaids and all here present, whose faith and devotion are known to Thee.”

2019-09-01 - 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-09-01 - 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 1, 2019

1 September 2019

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 14:1, 7-14 + Homily

16 Minutes 40 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090119.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

The weekly column “From the Pastor” continues on hiatus and will return after Labor Day. Meanwhile, we thank the fellowship of friends of the parish for the interest and support shown for our parish in challenging times. 

This week’s suggested reading: Father Rutler’s most recently published essay may be of interest to readers. The article is available on the Crisis Magazine website: Nothing New under the Sun: St. Bernard’s Advice to a Pope

2019-08-25 - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-08-25 - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 25, 2019

25 August 2019

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 13:22-30 + Homily

16 Minutes 2 Seconds

Link to the Readings

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082519.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

The weekly column “From the Pastor” continues on hiatus for the remainder of the month of August while regular activities continue as usual, enlivened by the welcome visits of increasing numbers of tourists. Since there is a gratifyingly large number of readers who follow the weekly columns, forming an extended fellowship of friends of the parish far and wide, each week during the summer hiatus we will use this opportunity to post brief news items and links to other sources and to express our thanks for the interest and support shown for our parish in challenging times.

This week’s suggested reading: Father Rutler recommends an article by Professor Anthony Esolen: “What Can Unite Us Catholics?”—published by The Catholic Thing.

2019-08-18 - 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-08-18 - 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 18, 2019

18 August 2019

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 12:49-53 + Homily

16 Minutes 29 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081819.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  It is customary in our parish that the weekly column “From the Pastor” be suspended during the weeks of August, while the regular schedule of activities continues as usual. Summer also occasions the welcome visits of an increasing number of tourists. Since there is a gratifyingly large number of readers who follow these columns, forming an extended fellowship of friends of the parish far and wide, each week there will still be an opportunity to post brief news items and links to other sources. 

   Meanwhile, we take this opportunity to express our thanks for the interest and support shown for our parish in challenging times. Father Rutler’s most recently published essay may be of interest to readers. It is available on the Crisis Magazine website: Fr. Rutler’s Guide to Virtue-Signalling.

2019-08-15 - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

2019-08-15 - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

August 15, 2019

15 August 2019

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1:39-56 + Homily

16 Minutes 54 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081519-day.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

2019-08-11 - 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-08-11 - 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 11, 2019

11 August 2019

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 12:32-48 + Homily

18 Minutes 07 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081119.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

It is the custom in our parish that the “From the Pastor” column be suspended during the weeks of August, while the regular schedule of activities continues as usual. Summer also occasions the welcome visits of an increasing number of tourists. Since there is a gratifyingly large number of readers who follow these columns, forming an extended fellowship of friends of the parish far and wide, each week there will still be an opportunity to post brief news items and links to other sources, such as the “Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to Priests on the 160th Anniversary of the Death of the Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney”—covered by various outlets including the Catholic News Agency (CNA) and the National Catholic Register.

   Meanwhile, this is an opportunity to express thanks for the interest and support shown for our parish in challenging times. Father Rutler’s most recently published essay, which may be of interest to readers, is available online at the Crisis Magazine website: Fr. Rutler’s Guide to Virtue-Signalling.

2019-08-04 - 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-08-04 - 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 4, 2019

4 August 2019

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 12:13-21 + Homily

15 Minutes 38 Seconds

NOTE: There was a missionary priest as guest preacher today. His homily was short and focused on his work in Niger in Africa. The homily linked to this entry is from 31 July 2016 when Father Rutler preached on the same texts appointed for today.

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080419.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

It is the custom in our parish that the “From the Pastor” column be suspended during the weeks of August, while the regular schedule of activities continues as usual. Summer also occasions the welcome visits of an increasing number of tourists. Since there is a gratifyingly large number who follow these columns, forming an extended fellowship of friends of the parish far and wide, each week there will still be an opportunity to post brief news items and links to other sources. Meanwhile, this is an opportunity to express thanks for the interest and support shown for our parish in challenging times. The Pastor’s most recently published essay, which may be of interest to readers, is available online at the Crisis Magazine website: An Immodest Proposal.

2019-07-28 - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-07-28 - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 28, 2019

28 July 2019

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 11:1-13 + Homily

17 Minutes 5 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072819.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  Toddlers try to get their way by throwing tantrums, but they are not the only ones. In “An Open Letter on Translating,” an heresiarch in 1530 justified altering the Letter of Saint James: “Dr. Martin Luther will have it so . . . Sic volo, sic jubeo.” (I want it; I command.)

   This solipsism was updated in a 1966 book turned into a 1972 film about a twenty-year-old named Roy who demonstrated his desire to be his sister Wendy by dressing in her clothes. The title was: “I Want What I Want.”

   What one wants may not be obtainable. For the adult still psychologically in diapers, the only recourse is to become flushed and scream at anyone who sticks to reality. That was the response of some when the Holy See’s Congregation for Catholic Education published on June 10 a document that said the denial of the natural duality of the sexes creates the idea of the human person as an abstraction “who chooses for himself what his nature is to be.” This is what Pope Francis, who has stressed the need to be charitable to people misled by such mental disorders, in 2016 called a “utopia of the neutral.” A utopia is nowhere. In the same year, the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly explained, “The claim that it is possible to change one’s sex, or that sexual identity is fluid, contradicts scientific evidence, reason, the nature of the human person, and key tenets of the Catholic faith.” It is Gnostic dualism. 

   The term “gender” has commonly come to classify sex. So now we have an innovative vocabulary: transgendered, gender dysphoric, non-binary, and so forth. But neologisms fly in the face of the conclusion of Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the Johns Hopkins Hospital psychiatrist, that “gender reassignment” is “biologically impossible.” In 1975 the American Psychological Association, acting politically with no justifying science, declared that certain aberrancies are not pathological. Start with a lie and you can logically conclude with a lie. The APA’s “Non-Monogamy Task Force” now has endorsed polygamy and promiscuity, called “relationship anarchy.” Only about 6/10 of one percent of humans consider themselves “transgendered,” although about 3% of malleable adolescents now identify as such, as the result of pedagogical propaganda. This is a sophisticated form of child abuse. Among all those who have had “reassignment surgery,” the suicide rate is twenty times higher than average.

   Schoolchildren once knew the rhyme about the grand old Duke of York’s ten thousand men: “He marched them up to the top of the hill, /And he marched them down again. / When they were up, they were up, /And when they were down, they were down, /And when they were only halfway up, /They were neither up nor down.” That is not how armies should work, and that is not how male and female created in God’s image can ever work.