Father George William Rutler Homilies
2018-10-28 - Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

2018-10-28 - Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 28, 2018

28 October 2018

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10:46-52 + Homily

13 Minutes 59 Seconds

Link to Readings - USA version


(from the parish bulletin)

  Some classical composers whose melodramatic quirks would have made life with them difficult, such as Beethoven, Wagner, Berlioz and Satie, have their opposites in such genial geniuses as Hayden, Mozart and, I would argue, Edward Elgar.  

   Elgar was among the more modern, and had a gift for friendship. The “Enigma Variations” are musical sketches of friends who enjoyed his company. The ninth Variation is called “Nimrod” in honor of Augustus Jaeger, whose name is German for hunter. In the Old Testament, Noah’s great-grandson Nimrod was the “great hunter.” Hearing him playing notes distractedly on the piano one day, Elgar’s wife Alice said, “That’s a pretty tune, Eddie – keep it.” That is how we got that surpassing orchestral work whose solemnity has made it a staple of memorial ceremonies, played in Whitehall at the Cenotaph each year on Remembrance Day. A choral setting for it applies to its meter the text of the Requiem Mass:

Lux aeterna luceat eis,

Domine, cum sanctis tuis in aeternum,

quia pius es.
Requiem aeternam
dona eis, Domine, 
et lux perpetua leceat eis.

May light eternal shine upon them,

O Lord, with Thy saints forever,
for Thou art Kind.
Eternal rest
give to them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

   Elgar was a Catholic whose wife converted before they married in London’s Brompton Oratory, causing her to be ostracized by her family. In 1900, less than two years after the “Enigma Variations,” Elgar set to music Cardinal Newman’s long poem, The Dream of Gerontius. In 1907, the Viennese violinist Fritz Kreisler commissioned Elgar to write a concerto that he premiered in 1910. After a chance encounter with Kreisler in New York in 1947, then-Monsignor Fulton Sheen, who at the time was a professor at the Catholic University of America, received the violinist and his wife into the Catholic Church and later preached at Kreisler’s Requiem. In another Catholic connection, Elgar set his first “Pomp and Circumstance March”—“Coronation Ode,” composed for King Edward VII and familiar at graduations—to words of Arthur C. Benson, brother of the convert preacher and writer, Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson.

   The Protestant dean of Gloucester Cathedral banned performance of “The Dream of Gerontius” because it is about Purgatory. But the doctrines of Particular Judgment, Purgatory and the Intercession of the Saints, are blessings of God’s grace, and in these wistful autumnal days when All Saints and All Souls set the theme, that melody of “Nimrod” and the lines of Gerontius give a confused world a dose of reality that is a sturdy relief from the depressing attempts of a secular culture to “celebrate life” artificially at funerals, when in fact it harbors a pagan fear of death. But as Newman wrote and Elgar played:

Now that the hour is come, my fear is fled;

And at this balance of my destiny,

Now close upon me, I can forward look

With a serenest joy.

2018-10-21 - Twenty -Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

2018-10-21 - Twenty -Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 21, 2018

21 October 2018

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10:35-45 + Homily

20 Minutes 37 Seconds

Link to the Readings


(from the parish bulletin)

   There are those who would not let facts get in the way of theory, and such was the English philosopher Herbert Spencer who promoted the “survival of the fittest.” This “Social Darwinism” theorized that the weak and poor would gradually die out to make way for an inevitable social progress. He was idolized by Andrew Carnegie, even though that richest man in the world was generous in philanthropies that Spencer disdained. Carnegie prevailed upon his mentor to visit Pittsburgh, whose Bessemer mills were supposed to be a model of social progress. Spencer confessed: “Six months’ residence here would justify suicide.”

   Spencer’s theory that people are shaped by culture rather than shaping it, opposed the “great man” theory of the historian Thomas Carlyle, for whom culture is shaped by individuals of “Godly inspiration and personality.” But Carlyle did acknowledge the influence of cultural conditions and, moreover, warned that personal influence could be benign or evil.

   The greatest figures in history have been the saints, for their spiritual influence is more long-lasting than even their political impact. Consider two saints that the Church celebrates this week.

   Saint John of Capistrano was a skilled lawyer and diplomat in the fifteenth century. As governor of Perugia in Italy, his reforms were so radical that he was arrested by some who needed reformation. The imprisonment afforded him time to reflect on what really changes society, and he became a Franciscan. He did not relinquish his powerful mind and energy when he relinquished glamor, and he became a polyglot missionary throughout more than a dozen countries in Europe. His crowds were so huge that he had to preach outdoors, and he could be heard by 125,000 without a microphone. In 1456, at the age of 70, he joined the Hungarian general Hunyadi in lifting the siege of Budapest, riding on horseback into overwhelming numbers of Ottoman Turks, and saving western civilization.

   Another saint we celebrate this week is Pope John Paul II. On his return to Poland as Vicar of Christ, the nervous hands of the Communist leader Wojciech Jaruzelski shook, and soon afterward the Marxist empire collapsed. As Karol Wojtyla, his Polish culture shaped him, with its legacy of heroism and suffering, and he in turned shaped much of our present world.

   If our secular schools and media are bewildered by the influence of saints, and do not mention them, it is because any recognition of their existence must acknowledge the existence of God who made them heroically virtuous beyond the abilities of the naturally great. Saint John Paul II wrote in the encyclical Centesimus Annus:

   “For an adequate formation of a culture, the involvement of the whole man is required, whereby he exercises his creativity, intelligence, and knowledge of the world and of people. Furthermore, he displays his capacity for self-control, personal sacrifice, solidarity and readiness to promote the common good.”


2018-10-18 - Feast of St. Luke

2018-10-18 - Feast of St. Luke

October 21, 2018

18 October 2018

Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist

Luke 10:1-9 + Homily

15 Minutes 50 Seconds

Link to the Readings





2018-10-14 - Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

2018-10-14 - Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 14, 2018

14 October 2018

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10:17-30 + Homily

16 Minutes 57 Seconds

Link to Readings:


(from the parish bulletin)

   Last Sunday was the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, a conflict that saved civilization on the seventh of October, 1571. The day after that anniversary marked the celebration of the life of Christopher Columbus, an observance that has become muted by polemicists who do not understand the significance of events. Were it not for the courage of the 41-year-old Columbus braving the uncharted ocean to the west to avoid the Mediterranean blockade by Islamic jihadists in 1492, and the valor of the 24-year-old Don Juan of Austria, who commanded the Holy League fleet in the Straits of Corinth in 1571, we would not exist today in what we still call a civilized form of nature.

   Columbus invoked the Blessed Virgin’s protection each day, ringing the Angelus bell. On his arrival in the West Indies, a grateful local populace thanked him for saving them from marauding Carib cannibals. The Franciscans who accompanied him proclaimed the Gospel, putting a stop to the Aztec sacrifices of about fifty thousand human victims annually. The spread of the Gospel was so rapid that Don Juan’s flagship in 1571 carried an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that had been touched to the original miraculous image imprinted on Saint Juan Diego’s tilma exactly forty years earlier.

   Columbus could not have made it to the New World without the astrolabe, whose design had been perfected four centuries before by a young Benedictine monk, Blessed Hermann of Reichenau. Blessed Hermann had been so crippled by congenital deformities, that many barbaric modern doctors acting on the results of amniocentesis would have aborted him. Countless are the discoveries that could have been made by recent generations of those whose right to life was erased by an autonomous decree of our Supreme Court.

   The Holy See has convened a Synod on Youth, with laudatory intent to form the next generation of Catholics. But its draft syllabus has been supine, expressing a desire to “accompany” and “learn” from youth rather than instruct them. The sailors with Columbus and Don Juan would have laughed at that. It is not the job of the Church to “accompany” the young in their ways of naiveté, but to commission youthful vigor to spread the joy of the Gospel. 

   Pope Saint Gregory did not pander to young people by flattering them: “Your prophets saw false and foolish visions and did not point out your wickedness, that you might repent of your sins. The name of prophet is sometimes given in the sacred writings to teachers who both declare the present to be fleeting and reveal what is to come. The word of God accuses them of seeing false visions because they are afraid to reproach men for their faults and they consequently lull the evildoer with an empty promise of safety. Because they fear reproach, they keep silent and fail to point out the sinner’s wrongdoing.”

2018-10-07 - Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

2018-10-07 - Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 7, 2018

7 October 2018

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10:2-16 + Homily

18 Minutes 40 Seconds

Link to the Readings


(from the parish bulletin)

   The opening line of a children’s poem by Mary Howitt in 1828 is a caution for growing up in a duplicitous world: “‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the Spider to the Fly.” Christians must be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16) because we are sent as sheep into a world of wolves. So there we have a whole menagerie of metaphors, all making the same point about naiveté. 

   The best diplomacy secures amity, but at its worst it lets loose ministers who are innocent as serpents and wise as doves. Charles de Gaulle, who was not subtle, said, “Diplomats are useful only in fair weather. As soon as it rains, they drown in every drop.” Without succumbing to cynicism, it is possible to see a mixture of calculation and callowness in the provisional agreement between the Holy See and Communist China, recognizing the primacy of the Pope, but at the price of an unclear arrangement giving the government a role in the appointment of bishops. 

   Ever since Constantine, and certainly since Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne in 800, ecclesiastical and civil threads have been intertwined. The mediaeval Investiture Controversies were background for the sixteenth-century appointment privileges granted to the French crown and the Concordat between Pius VII with Napoleon. In the year that Mary Howitt wrote about the Spider, nearly five of every six bishops in Europe were appointed by the heads of state. Right into modern times, Spain and Portugal invoked the PatronatoReal and the Padroado, but these involved governments that were at least nominally Catholic. The 1933 Reichskonkordat with the Nazi government was not the proudest achievement of the Church. The Vatican’s accommodationist “Ostpolitik” in the 1960s, made Cardinal Mindszenty a living martyr.  The Second Vatican Council sought, largely successfully, to reserve the appointment of bishops to the Sovereign Pontiff (Christus Dominus, n. 20).

   It was my privilege to know Cardinal Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei of Shanghai, who endured thirty years in prison, and Archbishop Dominic Tang Yee-Ming of Canton who was imprisoned for twenty-two years, seven of them in solitary confinement. The eighty-seven-year-old Cardinal Archbishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Zen, sees a betrayal of those who have suffered so much for Christ. Time will tell if the present diplomacy is wise. An architect of this agreement, Cardinal Parolin, said: “The Church in China does not want to replace the state, but wants to make a positive and serene contribution for the good of all.” His words are drowned out by the sound of bulldozers knocking down churches while countless Christians languish in “re-education camps.”

   A fourteenth-century maxim warned: “He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.” For spoon we might now say chopsticks. When it comes to cutting deals with governments, it is sobering to recall that of the Twelve Apostles only one was a diplomat, and he hanged himself.

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